Not the plan…

Yesterday I was making real headway on my crocheted blanket project. When I woke up at 2:30 p.m., sitting in my easy chair, feet up, crochet hook in hand, blanket warmly draped across my lap and legs, I realized that I had been asleep for nearly two hours. An afternoon nap was not the plan. After a fitful night I try to stay awake the whole day through, the next day. Whatever made me think that I could indulge in the totally relaxing activity of crocheting, cozy and warm beneath the ever lengthening blanket, and stay awake. I am no worse for it either. I slept soundly through the night last night.

A lovely sunny day out there today, with a real nip in the air. We went out to the Rideau Camp this afternoon, leaving as soon as Attila had changed out of his work clothes and into his bush clothes. I was ready to leave when he arrived home, with a packed dinner of hummus and pita bread, and grapes and muffins for snacks.

Attila emptied the compost toilet buckets into the the dedicated compost bin, covering it well with fresh straw and the wire mesh that prevents animals from digging it up. I scooped water out of the full-to-the-brim water barrel that sits below the end of the eves trough installed on Winnie. It, and the screen that covers it, were stored in Winnie, along with the empty compost toilet buckets. We brought the unused peat moss home to winter in the garage. And that was all that was left to accomplish at the Rideau Camp. Just in time too, as tomorrow night the temperature is predicted to dip to -12C, a good hard freeze, making dumping buckets and water barrels far too difficult. The Camp now sits as it will until April, when the snow has melted and warmer weather returns.

By the time we completed our tasks the evening had waned and the stars had come out. Not an artificial light in sight, no other sound than a cackle of geese overhead, the air crisp and tangy with the scent dead wet leaves and earth, how beautiful it was. I admit to a little pang of longing, as I took in the season’s final look at the trees and the sky, a farewell breath of the cold clean air, then bundled into the car, and we drove away.

DSCF1540 The last glance, evening falls at the Rideau Camp, as we ready to leave, not to return until the spring.

Attila found my winter boots last night, sitting where I had left them under the captain’s chair in the basement. I looked there myself last week and could not see them, I could swear they were not there. But I know they were, if Attila says so, and wonder at my ability not to see things, even if I want to. I have always been this way.

My dental issues have improved a bit, but I have distance to travel in that department. I am still on a soft food diet, which I hate, due to its limitations, straining an already highly restricted diet. Patience, and time, is required. This too shall pass.

Well there it is, another day lived to the fullest. Thank you universe.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Wednesday 8 November 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.8°C
Dew point: -1.3°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: SSW 26 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000

Woof! 🙂

Turning

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The season turned last night. We have enjoyed incredibly mild, pleasant weather ever since Attila and I returned from our vacation in mid-September. This past weekend the daytime temperatures were over 20C. We have been enjoying the good weather to the fullest.

Last Saturday we packed tank with extra things, like a vacuum cleaner, and a dehumidifier, and drove off to to the bush early in the morning. A nicer day one could not ask for, the sun shone, the breeze gently rustled the autumn leaves that still clung to the trees, birds sang, and insects cavorted.

We worked hard on Saturday, an unexpected project caught our attention, and we dived into it with enthusiasm. A very large tree had been pushed over and then into the depression at the side of the driveway. It did not obstruct our activities, so it was low on our radar. But for some reason, on Saturday morning, I took a long stick and began to release the earth held so jealously by the fine woven roots. Soon a mound of loosened earth lay at the foot of the stump. Attila shovelled this into the wheelbarrow. I continued, sweetly sweating from morning and into the afternoon sun. We loosed eight wheelbarrows full of soft brown earth from the the twisted, interwoven roots. Each load was unloaded into a carefully chosen dip in the path to Winnie, making for more easily tread nocturnal journeys.

Although Attila could finally roll the stump upright, so light it had become, it has not been rolled to the wood pile beside the camp fire. That stump will demand devotion to burn in its entirety.

We built a camp fire late in the afternoon, and on this Attila cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. They are a rare treat these days, as I am subject to many dietary restrictions. I have discovered a lactose free cheese, which allows me to enjoy cheese occasionally; the cholesterol content is still of some concern.

Our camp fire burned on into the night. And oh, the stars, they seemed to shine just for us, so many and so bright. We could see our breath in the cold as it settled on the Camp, urging us ever closer to the bright flames of our fire.

And then we were to bed. The floor oh so cold on the stockinged foot, the sheets and pillows chilled. We both wore socks to bed, and me a hat. We slept soundly through the night, but for my trip in the early morning to use the facility… my bottomless bucket in the bush. Although it was cold, I sat for quite some time, mesmerized by the night, the silhouettes of tree tops that swayed ever so slightly, conspiring with the winking stars. I stayed so long, admiring the vault of the universe, that I returned to a chilled nest of blankets on the bed. Soon warm again, I slept until morning light.

Sunday was our day to make Grace The Trailer ready for the winter months to come. Attila prepared the slide out for retraction. It was covered with dead leaves, wet and dirty. I gathered all fabrics, bedding, towels, rugs, to bring home to Mist Cottage, to launder and store for the winter. I also gathered all food stuffs that would not freeze well, or were vulnerable to chewing rodents. Dry goods in sealed mason jars were left in the cupboard. The entire trailer was then vacuumed. Then, when all had been removed and piled outside the door, to be loaded into Tank, the dehumidifier was plugged in to remove whatever moisture was left from our sleeping bodies and food preparation. It removed only one half cup of moisture. Finally the door was shut and locked, perhaps not to be opened until April, 2018.

Grace The Trailer has a slide out. It was our intention to find a trailer without a slide out, as they are mechanized and add relatively vulnerability to the structure. The added living space is undeniably pleasant. It was a relief that the mechanical function of the slide out worked flawlessly. It does not sit entirely square though, once retracted, something we did not notice at time of purchase. It is of little consequence to us, as long as the mechanical aspect and the seal are working as they should. Grace The Trailer is, after all, sixteen years old, she is bound to have some issues related to aging.

Just as the sky began to cloud over, in the late afternoon, Tank was packed high, and it was time to be on our way home.

And here it is, Tuesday already! Yesterday was lovely and warm and sunny, which meant that the bedding and fabrics brought home from Grace The Trailer could be washed and hung out on the line to dry. Today all of these items are being folded and stored away until next April. In this tiny house, it is a challenge to discretely store all of the things which came home from Grace The Trailer. Some ingenuity, and not a little time, is required to get the job done.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yesterday I had a nice long chat with a maternal second cousin once removed, who filled me in on his branch of the family history. His maternal Grandparents died long before he was born, they were very young, 37 and 44 years old, both suffering from tuberculosis. His paternal Grandmother passed away long before he was born, suffering from heart problems. His paternal Grandfather lived with his family and passed away at home, when my cousin was a small boy, three years of age. Grandparents are such a wonderful part of life, I can’t imagine my life without them in the world. It was interesting to hear the details of his family history. But it was even more fun talking to him and his wife, lovely people, we talked for hours.

During the summer baking is not practical, the oven heats the house, which is undesirable. The weather has just now turned cooler, it is muffin baking time once more. The first batch was baked Sunday evening, an experiment. I use a recipe with a core of ingredients, which remain the same, while some ingredients change. This particular batch was made with creamed corn, and the muffins were quite tasty, particularly when eaten with homemade chili sauce. The recipe is here, Corn Muffins.

The time-of-use hydro billing significantly interferes with the natural flow of my days. I like to bake whenever it fits into my daily activities, which are not on a particular schedule, but are rather spontaneous, one of the real pleasures of retirement. Unfortunately, the only time of day that I am awake, and it is practical to bake, is after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. I seldom have enthusiasm for kitchen activities this close to bedtime, it is always rushed, with only three hours to get the project into the oven, baked, then cooled sufficiently to store for the night. If and when technology affords itself an affordable solution to this time-of-use impediment, we will jump on it.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This entry has been growing like a weed. I started it on Tuesday, and now Thursday afternoon has arrived and I am still muddling my way across the page. It is cold today, the sky was clear this morning, but has clouded over as the day progressed. I had a dental appointment, as the issues are still not completely resolved. I suspect I’ll be going back again next week, after the swelling goes down. The book is coming along today, funny how one little piece of information can turn into an avalanche. The notes I took during my telephone conversation on Tuesday were scanned as images, as a reference, and only half of the details are transcribed into the database.

I’ll end this long post with a few pictures from our last camping trip of the season, at the Rideau Camp last weekend.

Rideau Camp Oct 22 DSCF1386 The tree tops were striped and bare, but closer to the ground the bright leaves clung still to the trees. They were brilliant when the sun came out, just after this photograph was taken.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1376 The stump, after Attila managed to roll it out of the bush. I loosened enough earth from the roots to fill the wheelbarrow eight times, which Attila shovelled, and dumped in low spots on the path to Winnie (the outhouse). I was stiff for two days afterwards, and it felt good.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1390 The camp fire, over which we grilled cheese sandwiches, and around which we sat until the stars were bright in the dark sky, and we could see our breath in the chill of the night. On the upper left some of the earth we took from the roots of the stump can be seen, levelling a low spot.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Tuesday 24 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.7°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SSE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

13°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 October 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.9°C
Dew point: 4.1°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: SW 22 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

11°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 26 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 11.2°C
Dew point: 1.6°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: W 23 gust 34 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
Akira Kurosawa
1910 – 1998

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