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.

Firefly

Firefly: “Most species of fireflies thrive as larvae in rotting wood and forest litter at the margins of ponds and streams. And as they grow, they more or less stay where they were born.”

The weekend of July 22/23, and this past weekend July 28/29, our evenings have been enchanted by the light show in the forest around our Rideau Camp. As soon as daylight began to fade, we began to see flashes of light, high and low, near and far among the silhouettes of the tree trunks. Sitting quietly in the forest, we were surrounded by these twinkling lights. Although there were a profusion of the lights on the weekend of July 22/23, the light show on the evenings of the 28/29 were magical in their intensity. It might be that the intense rainfall in the area on July 24 optimized their breeding process, which requires moisture and rotting wood on the forest floor, which were in abundance.

On the weekend of July 22/23 I burned a very large juniper stump, the last remaining stump from the huge log pile present on the property when it was purchased. The campfire burned from noon until 2 am the next morning, before the stump was reduced to ashes.

On Saturday the weather was perfect for burning another stump. The bulldozer that created our driveway pushed over two large trees along the drive, a pine and an ash or elm tree. Early Saturday morning Attila used his chain saw separate the upturned stump from the trunk of the downed tree. I had lit a camp fire, which was quite a challenge as all of the wood in the forest, and in our collection of dead wood beside the camp fire pit, was sodden from last week’s deluge. By the time I had a good hot set of coals ready, Attila had transported the stump up the hill, to deposit it at the edge of the fire. I tended the fire all day long, and well into the evening, until sometime after 9 pm the last of it fell away as hot embers.

Pine stump burn Rideau Camp july 29 The pine stump burning in the camp fire pit on Saturday. I dragged the dead trees, that I am feeding slowly into the fire, from the area we cleared to relocate Grace The Trailer. I believe this will be the last summer where most of my time at the Rideau Camp is spent burning dead wood, felled trees, and brush. We plan on leaving the areas outside the perimeter of the occupied area in natural condition, to allow the wildlife around us to carry on as usual.

Now we have only one large stump left to burn, the last of the bulldozer’s legacy.

This morning, as Attila and I sat to take our breakfast, he gripped my arm and whispered, “look”. Not twenty feet from our window a large female wild turkey strolled into view. Her gait was slow and measured, her gaze swept the landscape, side to side, forward and backward. As she moved forward across our line of vision, poults began to appear. Among the poults a second adult female wild turkey stepped, and behind them a third large female wild turkey surveyed the rear of the group. There were twenty one poults. The windows in Grace are silvered, offering no view through the glass into the trailer, so that we could continue eating as they passed before us, and our movements caused them no distress. Slowly the passed into the swampy area of our property, eating heartily from the forest floor as they went.

Early in the afternoon I heard their distressed calls, and I was distressed, that a predator might be attacking the young ones. Attila headed into the bush to investigate. He put my mind at ease, saying that they had all flown into the trees, and that there were adult males with them as well. I sighed with relief.

We are enjoying Grace The Trailer! Attila has restless leg syndrome, which kept me awake, and/or awakened me multiple times during the night, for over twenty years. Then we bought twin beds and I have slept well every since. But, Grace The Trailer has only a queen size bed. I expected to suffer through the nights again. However, such has not been the case. The queen size mattress in Grace The Trailer rests on solid wood, the movement we found with a box spring just does not exist with a solid base. The other strategy we adopted was separate bedding, each of us uses a twin flat sheet and comforter, we don’t share, again reducing the intrusions of each other’s nocturnal movements. I have slept soundly every night that we have spent in Grace The Trailer. I feel very lucky!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Partly Cloudy
23°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Sunday 30 July 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.7°C
Dew point: 20.3°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: SSW 14 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility:24 km

Quote

“During [these] periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight.”
Fritjof Capra

Adventures

Attila had a vacation day, so we enjoyed a three day weekend, this past weekend.

The drive out to the Rideau Camp on Friday night was uneventful, quite pleasant actually. It began to rain just as we carried the last of our luggage into Grace The Trailer. We enjoyed a quick supper, and as darkness fell we lit our LED lanterns to wash up and finish unpacking. I had stocked Grace The Trailer with a deck of cards, so a card game seemed like a good idea. The only game we could remember was Go Fish, it has been that long since we have played cards! The card deck turned out to be two Euchre decks. What ensued was a hilariously silly game of Go Fish, with one of us winning in either one or two hands. We were constantly laughing at ourselves.

Saturday dawned with sunny blue skies. An outing had been planned. We were set to attend a day at the Stewart Park Festival in Perth. A lunch was packed, and we set out for Perth. About a mile from the chosen parking area in Perth, all of Tanks warning lights suddenly lit up, and the engine sounded awful. Attila managed to get Tank into the Salvation Army parking lot, where he popped the hood, and tried to trouble shoot the problem, with no success. CAA was called, and we waited for about an hour and a half for a tow truck, which was worth the wait because the cab was big enough to tranport both of us back to the garage near home with Tank. We found a pleasant shady spot in the parking lot, and ate our packed lunch. The woman in the Salvation Army store was lovely, letting us use the washroom, we were very grateful.

It was a long drive back to the garage. We thoroughly enjoyed it! The driver was a young man, a millennial, who was also a farmer. He was interesting to talk with, and I mean talk with, he talked, we listened, he responded, we listened, we talked, he listened, he talked… and on it went. Conversations with people other than Attila are so rare in my life, exchanges where people listen, as well as talk. Before we knew it an hour and a half had flown by, and we were happily dropped off at the garage with Tank. One of the owners of the garage was there, but it was closed. He took the keys to Grace The Trailer, and allowed Attila to use the telephone to call a taxi to transport us the rest of the way home.

The taxi driver, a boomer, picked us up at the garage, and we had a very pleasant chat with him as he navigated the streets to our house.

What I enjoyed about both the tow truck driver, and the taxi driver, was that both were inclusive, interacting with Attila and with me. I have become very accustomed to spending time in situations where men speak only to Attila, rendering me an invisible mute beside him, where anything I say is ignored (not by Attila), usually not even acknowledged.

Our planned outing was a complete failure. Our discovered outing was a great deal of fun, full of pleasant interesting people.

After arriving at home, we showered, and returned to the Rideau Camp in our car.

Although I had already decided that I would not burn brush on the weekend, that is what I did on Saturday. There were more live branches to burn, lower branches on trees removed to open up the area, allow air to flow freely into the out of the camp area. There were whole dead trees to burn, and some small live trees that had to be removed because they would not grow properly, having lost their crowns. As darkness fell the fire still burned in the camp fire pit, and we sat up very late to watch the flames, then the embers, and finally the stars. We witnessed a magic show of fireflies as darkness fell. They flickered deep into the forest, high and low, all around us.

Sunday dawned hot, humid, and cloudy. Again a camp fire was lit and brush was collected and burned. While I tended the fire, Attila worked on removing a large stump from the area where Grace The Trailer will be parked. Stump removal by hand is a lot of work, he made a good start. As darkness fell, our plan to sit around the camp fire into the night was extinguished early by a heavy rain, with thunder and lightening. It stormed through the night, and one lightning strike was near enough to us that we could feel the earth shake under us.

Monday was a very hot, humid, cloudy day. Attila worked on his stump removal project, and I relaxed with a book for a while before going outside to putter around doing little jobs. It was a bad idea, my tackling any project on such a day! I became overheated, soaked two changes of clothing, and ended up moving all the items from the refrigerator to the cooler, turning the refrigerator off, stripping down to my underwear, and using a battery operated fan by the open door to cool myself. It worked. I also ate some salty peanuts, and drank about a litre of water. We decided to head home to Mist Cottage, where there is air conditioning.

We dropped in at the garage to see if Tank had been assessed, and were shocked to find that Tank was ready to go, and that there was no charge. Apparently a bit if grit had lodged in some kind of chain, requiring only a few seconds to dislodge. The fellow who owns this garage is amazing, truly amazing. We have taken our vehicles there ever since I discovered the business when the battery in Tank died, when I was spending the winter alone at Mist Cottage. We take either vehicle there for work, and return to pay whatever the charge is, we don’t even need to discuss what work will be done, we trust this fellow to only do what is necessary, and at a reasonable cost.

All weekend long we came into contact with interesting forthright people, all decent working people.

This short week is a week of appointments for me. I need new eyeglasses, my present pair fell apart twice over the weekend. Thankfully Attila was able to put them together for me in a rudimentary fashion, so I could still function. After looking at various options, Costco was chosen, I am giving them a try. A dental appointment is scheduled for today. As my Mom says, it takes up a lot of our time getting our parts fixed. Love my Mom!

The weather is hot and humid again today, and it looks as if this will continue for the next week or so. It is not my favourite weather, but summer does usually bring at least some of this to us. I stay in the air conditioned house, or vehicle, so that spending a few hours in the heat isn’t too taxing. I thought that losing a bit of weight, and getting my blood pressure under control would help me tolerate the humid heat more easily. Such is not the case, this summer I become quite fatigued and disoriented, if I spend too many hours in the hot humid outdoors.

My MacBook Air is getting long in the tooth, as technology does very quickly. It is a 2012 machine, and it still does everything I need it to do, but it is slowing down. I assume that is because increasingly complex web sites demands more and more memory, and increased demand on the CPU. The battery in the laptop is completely dead, if unplugged it instantly dies. This isn’t a problem at home, but it does mean the computer is no longer viable for travel, so I miss that. The cost to replace the battery is $329.00, and they “promised” to look for other problems… my guess is that they would find them. An low end Mac laptop replacement is looking like the most viable option, so I am beginning to think about it now. While I am thinking and waiting, I have backed up the MacBook Air, and will continue to do do frequently.

Of course for a little less money, I could own a new iPhone… not for me, very little that is interesting to me to do on an iPhone.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 19 July 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.9°C
Dew point: 19.1°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: SW 13 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“True love brings up everything – you’re allowing a mirror to be held up to you daily.”
Jennifer Aniston

Picnic

Today I am rethinking my crochet project. The cover-up top is not turning out quite the way I had envisioned it. The original concept was to create two mesh panels and join them at one end to create shoulders and an opening for the neck, a very simple design. The opening is bunched and will be uncomfortable, not to mention unattractive, the design is flawed. The front panel is complete, the back panel about a third of the way done, and the yarn is almost completely gone. It is decision time. Shall more yarn be purchased to complete the project as envisioned, or will the project be partially or totally frogged, either redesigned or abandoned. When trying something experimental, these are the kinds of decisions that arise.

It is time to get back into the health care treadmill again. Today it is a blood test, which will need a followup appointment in the city. There are a few questions to be asked, and further appointments to schedule. Dental care is also on my list of things to research today. It has yet to be determined if I am covered under Attila’s plan where he works, so cost is a major issue.

This evening we plan to picnic at the Rideau Camp. Attila has a list of items he wants to transport to the Camp, so a short weekday visit is in order. Now that we have some storage space in Grace The Trailer, there are items we will leave at the Camp, such as the cushion for the lounge chair. The lounge chair has been with us since 1999, as has the cushion, but thus far we have seldom used them, so that they are in very good condition. We have seen, over the last ten years or so, the exact same chair at dumps, many times actually, discarded due to lack of style, not due to lack of function.

The weather is turning warm, with daily highs in the high-twenties. This would be lovely, but the humidity transforms this into a humidex reading in the mid-thirties, which is not comfortable. This means I will suffer in the outdoors. My hands and feet will swell significantly, and I will feel lethargic and distressed much of the time. Our visits to the Rideau Camp now will see me resting in the shade through the heat of the afternoons, drinking lots of water. There will be no burning of dead wood or brush through the heat of the day, no projects. As I grow older the heat and humidity of the summers has a greater impact on my health. This slows me down, but it doesn’t stop me.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 11:09 AM EDT Wednesday 12 July 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.9°C
Dew point: 20.1°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: SSE 10 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin
1950 –

Best Seat In The House

Listening to music is always a journey into the unknown paths within. There is joy there, there is pain, the road is not a golden path of euphoria. But it is my path, my journey, and I love it in there. Music holds my hand, in places no one else can go with me, where I am my only company.

Music plays all day long at the Rideau Camp. Wind, trees, birds, and insects share their experience of life. It is my favourite music, every varying, infinitely interesting. There is no ego, no pretension, no delusion, in nature’s music.

I love some of the music created by humans.

My favourite is the sound of a home, a home without electricity, where the wood creaks in the wind, the rain is heard as it falls on the roof, and the wind-up clock ticking in the living room is the only mechanical evidence of monotonous civilization. It was only a few short generations ago that this was the dominant experience of home.

I also love the sounds of our current home, the refrigerator cycling, the neighbours slamming their car doors, the lawn mower droning across someone’s lawn, an airplane passing overhead, the whine of traffic on the nearby highway, the rumble of a passing train, the battery operated wall clock ticking loudly as the arms reach endlessly to circle time. Oh yes, and the grackles tirelessly pecking at the wood on the facia that covers their former favourite nesting site. These are sounds of the small, familiar patterns of life, life in my home.

The crafted music of the musician can be beautiful, particularly when it opens wide the doors to experiencing my own humanity. To be honest, I seldom listen to lyrics unless they liken to poetry. The sounds of voice, inflection, range, repetition, formed into patterns with other sounds, usually instruments, are endlessly fascinating. The words to most songs are, for me, a veil, and I connect to what is behind the veil, what is not clearly seen but heard in the whispers of musical construction.

My days are filled with music, of different origins.

Attila and I decided we needed to make a weekday visit to the Rideau Camp. Our motivation is related to a “rain barrel”. We do not have a water supply at the camp, unless you consider taking a bucket down to the swamp, to fill with stagnant water, a water supply. We have a well, but it is a deep well and not in current operation, as that would require quite an investment. So I wanted a rain barrel to collect water from the roof of Winnie The Outhouse. We have an old plastic garbage can which we will use as a rain barrel, it is big and it is bulky, and needed to be taken to the camp in a separate trip. We had thought to go out on Tuesday evening, but it was raining, so we waited for good weather, which arrived Wednesday, yesterday, to make the trip.

The visit to the Rideau Camp was only a few hours long, but a lot was accomplished. Laundered tea towels and bed linens were returned to Grace The Trailer, fresh drinking water jugs were filled at home and transported to the Camp for future use, and a list of small needful items were brought to make camping even more comfortable… like a bar of soap. Attila spent some time clearing a thicket of what I am guessing are White Alders, many of them dead. His efforts have cleared a lot of the underbrush surrounding our cleared camping area, letting the air flow more freely, and eliminating hiding spots for the much hated mosquitoes.

We have a very small garden at the Rideau Camp, consisting of two short rows of garlic and one short row of onions. This garden is planted in the soil left in place, after the huge log pile was dismantled by Attila. So far it is seems to be doing quite well, surviving the tree felling, and log stacking, which went on all around it. I weed it from time to time. Last summer I sowed white clover seed all over the open areas of the camp, focusing on the area where hundreds of bramble plants had been pulled up by the roots. This summer the clover has come into its own, providing a lovely soft carpet of green. I am still finding brambles though, and pulled out quite a few when we were there last evening.

Today dawned cloudy and cool, time to get some baking done!

P station DSCF0782 A privilege of privacy, indiscretion. This is my outdoor p station, yep it has everything a girl could want except walls. Attila does not need this, he has the whole bush to water. All last summer I used the bush too, but every time I did I worried about ticks. Now that would be unpleasant, picking up a tick during a squat in the bush! So I bought myself a bright orange five gallon bucket from Home Depot and now I have a throne. The skid was left by the fellow who we bought the trailer from, when he dropped off the hitch last weekend. The boards that sit on the skid to form a rough, uneven floor are lumber scraps leftover from various projects. Above, the end of Grace The Trailer forms a roof, to protect me from the rain while I sit on my throne. The white bucket is for paper, used paper, and I dump those bits of dried paper into the campfire to dispose of them. The roll of fresh paper is conveniently held by the handle of the levelling jack. I have a panoramic view out at the Camp! Would tickety-boo be a little too corny here?

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Thursday 29 June 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 16.5°C
Dew point: 15.3°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: NE 6 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keeffe
1887 – 1986