A Trip in the Dark

This weekend thing is a great invention!

Friday night Attila and I made a pizza and watched Star Trek. It doesn’t sound very exciting I know, but it really does it for us.

Saturday morning we packed up Tank and headed out to the Rideau Camp. It was a cloudy day, and warm, around 20C. We had our list of things we wanted to accomplish. Attila wanted to cut the grass, which is really using the weed eater to keep the weeds low. He then used a leaf blower and cleared the area of crushed stone, and the driveway. Then he headed down to our swamp at the entrance to the property.

The swamp was formed when the cottagers association built the private road. At that time the natural drainage was blocked by the new road, and a swamp was created. The trees that had grown there died, and fell into the swamp. Other trees were bulldozed into the swamp when the driveway was created. It is quite a mess, which is lucky for us, because it made the property look undesirable at the entrance, very little curb appeal.

Attila has been slowly clearing dead wood from either side of the driveway, where it was bulldozed into piles. Having reached the edge of the swamp this weekend, he found that the water level had gone down sufficiently to allow him to begin removing waterlogged trees. He spent the rest of the day Saturday pulling dead trees out of the swamp, and piling them at the side of the driveway, where they will slowly dry.

Attila also removed quite a few wild grape plants that had grown into the dead trees that were still standing at the water’s edge. I dragged these up the driveway to the fire pit. I spent my day burning the last of the dry dead wood from earlier driveway clearances, and burning the wild grapes. The fire burned from around eight in the morning until it started to rain around six in the evening. There was also quite a bit of fallen deadwood in the forest around the perimeter of the camp site, so I collected that and burned it as well.

One thing about tending a fire all day long, you end up smelling like smoke, and any exposed skin gets gritty and salty. There are no bathing facilities at the Rideau Camp, so a basin wash is as good as it gets. The grunge factor is bearable on an overnight visit, but it can feel disgusting pretty fast on longer visits.

It is a beautiful time of year to spend time out of doors. At times leaves are gently released, floating to the ground. When the wind blows, and it did blow in great gusts all weekend, the leaves are ripped from the trees with great force, driven down, up, across, in whatever direction the wind takes them. When we took our breaks, we sat at the edge of the bush and soaked in the aroma of autumn, the fallen leaves, the damp earth.

With the coming of the rain we retreated into Grace The Trailer, to prepare a simple dinner, instant Chinese egg noodles with green beans. Then by the light of our small battery operated lanterns, we played cards. We spent the rest of our evening playing cribbage, Attila won the first game, I won the second game. We laugh a lot when we play cards together, although I can’t really say what we find funny.

It is an unusually mild mid-October. We stayed the night in Grace The Trailer quite comfortably. The clouds held the dark close, so that as we lay in our bed we could hold our hands in front of our faces, and see nothing.

I awoke at 5 a.m. and was awake for the day. It was still pitch black at that time in the morning. The night had been mild, warm enough so that I could turn on the lantern and comfortably dress, before taking myself to the living area to let Attila sleep for several more hours.

At 6 a.m. it was still very dark, and as luck would have it, I needed to visit Winnie (the outhouse). I took my little lantern, closed the door to the trailer behind me and headed towards Winnie. The morning was mild, and windy. The lantern lit the path so that my footing was sure. When I reached Winnie I hung the lantern on the nail Attila had hammered into the roof raft. The compost toilets are not left out, so each time we use them we need to set the system up. It is a simple process. The toilet paper is kept in an empty plastic coffee can with a lid, it sits at the top of the pyramid of joy. Under the toilet paper is a covered five gallon pail that contains peat moss and a scoop. Under the peat moss bucket is a very large plastic tote with a lid. Inside are the two compost toilet buckets, his n’ hers. There are no bad smells. It was quite magical really, sitting there looking out into the forest, the wind blowing in my hair, autumn leaves lying on the ground, lit and glistening with rain by the light of the lantern. A rather surprising memorable moment.

Attila arose after a few hours. It was quite a windy day, so we decided to return to Mist Cottage for lunch. Attila wanted to pull more trees out of the swamp, so he tackled that project.

I wanted to gather together the fabrics and extra beverages and food we have in Grace The Trailer, to bring home for the winter. Mice will chew away at fabrics over the course of a winter. We found evidence on a small mouse under the kitchen cupboard, two tiny turds, and the roll of toilet paper by the door had been chewed. I have a glue trap setup under the sink, but it was empty. We wondered how the mouse gained entry, as we had diligently plugged all of the trailer’s orifices with steel wool. I discovered later in the day, that the steel wool under the slideout had been disturbed, pulled out. We surmise it was probably the red squirrel, a very aggressive little fellow, who pulled it out, although it was of no use to him. The little mouse took the opportunity to pay us a visit. Hopefully the steel wool will stay in place now, and the mice will have no entry point. We will be taking mouse traps out with us on our next visit.

I left a few cans of food there, a few cans of beverages, and the bedding for our bed. We hope to spend another weekend there before the snow flies.

This evening we had a very intense wind storm, with lots of rain. We heard a very strange sound, a bit like an airplane. It was the wind howling through the awning outside the dining area windows. We had not heard anything like it before.

The power flickered, went out, then came back, several times. Our internet service is down, but we still have power. I am writing this on a Sunday, but I won’t be able to post it until the internet service is restored, who knows when.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

No access to weather reports, internet down.

Quote

“So I weave back and
forth, forth and back,
a rug patterned of warmth
and light, and when I find
a new scarlet thread shining
to add to the design,
I smile.”
Marge Piercy, The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flasing: How I weave trouble.

A Warm Blanket

DSCF1348 My current crochet project. I am loving this blanket, which will be a twin bed size when it is completed. The colour pattern is random, as each ball of yarn begins with a different colour, and I like the effect. (Suzette stitch, Bernat Pop Foggy Notion, 4 worsted, 5.0 hook). This blanket was originally intended for Grace The Trailer, but Attila wants it at home, so it stays at Mist Cottage. I think I might crochet a second one, so that we each have one for our beds, and then maybe another few for the living room so we can cuddle under them in the winter, while reading. And then maybe another couple for Grace The Trailer… luckily I am enjoying the simplicity of creating this blanket!

It is chilly today, with the sun popping out from behind the clouds from time to time, to fill the living room with light. The weather people predict one more gasp at warmish weather, and we are considering staying overnight in Grace The Trailer, at the Rideau Camp, on that warm night. It will soon be time to bring home all fabric and food from Grace The Trailer, to close the slide out, and to put the winter covering over it. Once the cover is on Grace The Trailer, we will visit the Rideau Camp, but not stay there overnight.

I am looking forward to getting back out to the Rideau Camp. Attila has installed new windows in the dining area here at Mist Cottage, which has required that we stick close to home for the last few weeks. The window install began just as I was dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s related to the property dispute. This means that we haven’t been back to the Rideau Camp to relax after the kerfluffle. The property dispute was deeply disturbing, I felt violated, and then had to fight for my rights as a property owner. I do not like fighting for anything, I like challenges, but I am not keen on conflict between humans, particularly when it is uncalled for. The whole exercise exhausted me on many levels. One side effect was that I had stopped sleeping through the night, an affliction that persisted until last night. Last night I slept soundly through the night. It was a great relief.

The new windows in the dining area at Mist Cottage turned out much better than I had anticipated. We bought inexpensive, energy efficient windows, a common stock item. I did not expect to like them. I love them! Attila finished the project last night, the paint is dry this morning, and I am contemplating what window treatment to use, if any. We don’t really have to have a window treatment, as they are very high and no one can see in. In addition, they are protected from the southern exposure sunlight by an awning. Curtains would make them even more energy efficient than they already are, so I am thinking about it.

Dining windows 2017 The new windows in the dining area of the kitchen, completed just last night. The kitchen is still in chaos. I find kitchen renovation to be the most intrusive of all the types of renovations we have done. We have decided to put down a commercial grade vinyl tile floor in this kitchen. As you can see on the left side of the floor, part of the existing vinyl flooring had been torn up, and was like that when we purchased the house in 2010. We had planned on waiting until we had finished replacing all the insulation and drywall on the main floor, before tackling the floors. In that long term plan the kitchen would have a red pine floor, painted white. But that is taking too long for my liking, and putting too much pressure on us to undertake new projects, so that we can get to the point where we can install the pine floors. So, I want a new floor right now, and Attila agreed. We will put white vinyl tile over the existing floor, anticipating that perhaps someday, and perhaps never, we will tear it all up and install red pine floors. If we decide to replace the kitchen cabinets at some future date, then the red pine floors would be installed. However, I like the old, owner installed cupboards, in all their crudeness.

Our next project, a new kitchen floor! At last!!

042369108706 ca The vinyl tiles to be installed in the kitchen: Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Cool White Speckle Commercial Vinyl Tile.
These are old fashioned tiles, the colour runs the whole depth of the tile, so if they get scratched the surface colour remains the same. We find that the vinyl with the thin surface of colour on a backing do not wear well at our house. The layer of colour is easily marred by a falling knife, a moved refrigerator, anything, and then it looks bad, and it is hard to clean. This tile is also much cheaper, at 88 cents per tile we are able to put the new floor in for well under $200. Attila will use a special bonding agent to lay the new floor over the old floor.

Day One: Arrival

We have just returned from our vacation, spent at the Rideau Camp. We arrived home to find everything ship shape, and with only one bill waiting for us in the mailbox. The unpacking is almost complete. The garden has been harvested, a plentiful harvest.

While we were at the Camp this past week, I wrote a few entries. I had lots of time to do this, because after our first day the weather took a bad turn and we spent most of our nine days sheltering from the rain, dealing with high winds, and longing for sunshine. All in all though, it was good to have a vacation.

I wrote five entries while we were at the Camp, and will share them over the next five days. I didn’t post while away, as we have no internet, not even cell phone service, at the Rideau Camp. We are off grid in just about any sense you would care to think of.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Last night was a cold one, not quite cold enough for frost, but close enough. It seemed like a good idea to sleep at home last night, in the warmth of Mist Cottage. Waiting until this morning to leave for our vacation had other advantages as well, more time to pack for one. We didn’t do much packing though, last night, we mostly puttered, then kicked back to watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, then to head off to bed for a comfortable night’s rest.

This morning we slept in a little bit, which for us means getting up around 7 a.m.. We showered, we enjoyed our morning coffee together, we ate a leisurely breakfast, and then we began to get things ready to pack into Tank. By 10 a.m. we were backing out of the drive at Mist Cottage, and were on our way. This is to be our longest camping excursion, and we will spend it at the Rideau Camp.

As we turned into the drive at the Camp, a small red fox hurried out of our way and into the shadow of the trees. She stopped to watch us pass, and later came up the drive to investigate the intruders. Finding nothing of interest, she turned and left the way she had come.

It didn’t take long to unpack once we arrived, just food and clothing. Attila setup the new portable generator, so that I could toast bread for my tomato sandwich for lunch, Attila ate a can of pea soup, his favourite meal. After lunch we worked together to setup the awning, Grace The Trailer has a very large awning attached to her side. It is quite a big deal to get this awning setup, requiring two pairs of hands. I made an error in the way I was holding my end, the support slipped the wrong way and I was wrenched forward by the full weight of the awning. My back and arm were very sore, Ibuprofen and a bit of rest seemed to take care of that. We got the awning up, that is where I am sitting right now.

Relaxing under the awning, I watch the dragonflies swoop and dive in the sunshine, and the glint of silken spider threads caught by the breeze. I listen to the wind whispering in the pine at the edge of the clearing, and smile to myself as Attila snores loudly to my left. He brought the lounge chair under the awning and into the shade, then plopped on the cushion, and stretched himself out for a much coveted snooze in the open air. He isn’t the only one making loud noises though. Somewhere nearby there is a partridge beating its wings with such force that the vibrations seem to echo in my chest. Nearby crickets chirp, and a distant airplane whines. A jay calls from the top of a nearby ash tree. A brightly coloured Katydid watches me silently, motionless, a few steps away.

It is quiet here.

DSCF1109 Attila kicking back, starting his vacation with his socks and his boots off!

DSCF1113 The whispering pine. In the foreground is the stake marking the edge of the area to be covered with crushed stone, and in front of that the mound of crushed stone still to be spread.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

The sky is a cloudless blue, the breeze is warm and intermittent, the air is pleasantly cool and dry. A perfect day.

Quote

“A shy, solitary child, my dreaming head was always stuck in a story, where I’d meet interesting characters – or characters I thought to be more like me than the people around me; where I had company…”
From Island of Dreams: A Personal history of a Remarkable Place, by Dan Boothby

Busy us!

Busy us!

Last week my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl and my Mom arrived for a visit. It was very exciting to have them here, Sister-The-Youngest-Girl had been here once before for a short visit with Beau Bob, and this was Mom’s first visit.

We managed to provide Mom with her a bed of her own, in a room of her own, and my sister slept on the pull out couch in the living room. Our house is small, and my sister was worried that she would be in the way when Attila had to get up early to go to work. The flow of Mist Cottage worked very well for all of us! Attila does not enter the living room in the mornings before work, and the living room is well out of the way of our bedroom, the washroom, and the kitchen, the rooms where all of Attila’s pre-work preparations take place.

They arrived on a Wednesday evening, having stayed the night before in a KOA cabin, and spending a good part of the day driving. Sister-The-Youngest-Girl is a very organized woman, and she arranged for we three gals (Attila had to work) to take a boat cruise of the Thousand Islands on Wednesday afternoon, Mom’s treat. And it was a treat! I hadn’t been out on the St. Lawrence River before, so it was a new experience. The highlight of the Cruise for me was getting to see the Just Room Enough Island. The water level is currently very high, so that the landing, and the stair to the door were under water, so that exiting via the door would be stepping right into the river.

On Thursday, after Attila left for work, and the rest of us had our breakfast, we left for a visit to the Rideau Camp. Sister-The-Youngest-Girl was on her way to Ottawa, to spend the day at a spa with our cousin, they have been close friends since infancy. The Camp is on the long route to Ottawa, so she decided to have a quick stop to see our special getaway in the bush. Mom and I stayed at the Camp for quite a while after she left, looking around, relaxing and chatting. I took the our usual long route home, the back roads, which is definitely not the way my Mom travels, preferring the major highways to get from point a to point b. Attila, Mom and I also drove out to visit with Lares, Sunny, and Sky. Terra had to work, she is back to work now, so Lares played host, and the Grandbabies got to meet their Great Grandma. They were delighted with my Mom, and she with them, the time flew by!

On Friday Sister-The-Youngest-Girl and Mom headed home again. Attila and I loved having them here!

On Friday Sister-The-Middle-Girl sent me some pictures of my Granny and Grandpa’s house, near our Traditional Camp. She and her hubby had spent the last week at their cottage, and with the help of our cousin and her hubby, they cleared away much of what was left in the house, as things were in a state of chaos with so many trespassers and vandals going through the place. Now it is virtually empty, with most of what was left there having been taken to the dump. It looked so wonderful, that Attila and I decided to take some of his vacation time and make a visit to our Traditional Camp, a four day weekend.

We packed up Iris, booked a site at a local campground, and headed out early Saturday morning. We take back roads when we travel with Iris. She is very light, fibreglass, and at high speeds she blows around like a peanut shell on the highway. The lower speed roads are much more relaxing, probably a lot safer, and much prettier. But, they also extend the time it takes to get where we are going. It took us 7 hours to drive to the camp site, we were very tired when we got there!

Attila spent his time at the Traditional Camp removing stumps, they were left when he cleared the trees on the lot. He worked at this diligently on Sunday and Monday. I spent my time visiting the dump, where I found a great plastic patio table, dirty, beat up, and perfectly functional. I also found a few pieces of stainless steel cutlery, a stainless steel saucepan, some pillow cases, freshly washed and pressed, a stainless steel cookie sheet, nine Corelle luncheon plates, and four Corelle mugs. All of these items will be used in Grace The Trailer. The local dump believes in recycling, and it works! I also found time to sit for hours on Granny and Grandpa’s porch. There is not place else on planet earth that I would rather be, than sitting on that porch, watching the dragonflies flit, the flies buzz, the bees hum, the birds call, the Day Lilies and Heliopsis sway; even the occasional passing high-speed motorist adds to the charm.

Our rented camp site provided an electric hookup, and a water hookup. It was our first experience camping in Iris with electricity. Wow! What a difference it makes. For one thing, our refrigerator works well on electricity, no coolers, no ice, luxury! And the interior lights allowed us to retire to the trailer well after dark, to read until we were tired, when we turned them out and snuggled into our beds. Having running water next to the trailer was also a treat. We decided not to hook up the water, as we don’t eat or prepare food in Iris, we do all of that on the picnic table under our kitchen tent.

Our fourth day out was spent driving home. We left the camp ground at 8 am and arrived home at 2:30 pm. It was a lovely drive, stress free. The rest of the day was spent unpacking Iris.

So here we are home again, after having an exciting two weeks, attending a music festival, enjoying a visit from Sister-The-Youngest-Girl and my Mom, going on a Boat Cruise, and visiting our Traditional Camp, Granny and Grandpa’s house, and camping in Iris at a camp ground.

Time for a little down time I think!

I am writing this in a state of fatigue, all this activity!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 8:39 PM EDT Thursday 17 August 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 20.9°C
Dew point: 15.1°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: ENE 12 km/h
Humidex: 25
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”
Shimon Peres
1923 –

The Rideau Camp: One Year And Four Months After Purchase

Bex mentioned enjoying the photographs of our Rideau Camp, which inspired me to get to my before and after pictures. Here they are, the realtor’s before pictures were probably taken in the late summer of 2015. The after pictures were taken by me, this summer.

Rideau Camp entrance mar 2016 before BEFORE: the entrance. This was our first view of the Rideau Camp, from an online listing of the property for sale. It didn’t look very promising from the realtor’s photographs, but since we were in the area we swung by to have a look. The driveway was flooded when we arrived, not an appealing feature, but we easily drove through the inch deep water to higher ground further into the property. To the left is a swamp that rises high in the spring when the snow melts, and went completely dry last summer, when we experienced drought conditions. This summer the water level is still very high, as we are receiving record amounts of rain.

Rideau Camp entrance july 2017 after DSCF0736 AFTER: the entrance. This is the entrance to the Camp, as it is now. Attila cuts the weeds along the side of the entrance, which helps to control the mosquitoes. He has also been spraying the poison ivy we found spreading rapidly to the right of the drive; we feel no obligation to allow it to exist on our property.

RideauCamp mar 2016 before BEFORE: the clearing. Here is a photograph of the Rideau Camp taken by the real estate agent who was selling the property. The weeds to the right of the crushed stone are brambles, old, gnarly, knee high, and vicious. The trees at the edge of the forest had grown a wall of green leaves, thick with branches reaching out low to the sun. Bulldozed piles of logs and uprooted trees surrounded the open area, lined the long driveway. There was garbage strewn all through the bush, neighbours had used the property as an informal dump. The photograph did not really attract us, we were in the area looking at other properties, and decided to look at this one since we were already there. We drove in the driveway, through an inch or so of standing water where the swamp flooded the driveway from spring runoff. We got out of our car, and we fell in love, at first feel, because the sight was not all that appealing. We wandered around the bush, looked at each other, smiled and nodded. We knew, we knew we were home.

Rideau Camp July 2017 after AFTER: the clearing. This is roughly the same area of the Rideau Camp shown in the first clearing photograph. The brambles have all been pulled and natural vegetation allowed to reclaim the area to the right, which has been mowed with a whipper snipper so that only the low growing weeds survive, making the area easier and easier to maintain as time passes. I also sowed a lot of white clover seed in the areas that are whipper snipped, and it has thrived. The lower branches of the trees have been removed so that we can easily walk under the tree canopy. Short, shade loving grasses have begun to grown on the forest floor surrounding the clearing, now that the sun can penetrate. There are fewer mosquitoes with the reduced volume of greenery at ground level.

Grace The Trailer DSCF0778 AFTER: the clearing. Here is Grace The Trailer, the biggest luxury in our lives. She is parked in the area of crushed stone shown in the before and after photographs above, of the clearing. Although Grace The Trailer has a many features that we cannot use off-grid, we find that having a refrigerator, a range, and an oven that run on propane very luxurious indeed. She is a real home away from home. We will probably never travel with Grace The Trailer, we have our little 14 foot fiberglass trailer, Iris, for easy, if a lot less luxurious, travel.