Britbox

It is snowing out there this morning. It accumulates on the tree branches, white icing, then it slowly disappears into clear drops that drip, drip, drip. Occasionally the sun peeks out, sending a blaze of pleasure across the living room, before hiding once more behind the sheet of gray that is the sky.

I haven’t had cabin fever since the winter of 2013/2014, the last winter I spent at the country house. The following winter I stayed alone at Mist Cottage during the winter months, and even though I saw no one, received no visitors other than Attila, and spent all of my time alone within the four walls of Mist Cottage, I did not experience cabin fever. We moved here in September of 2015, so that after my lone winter, I did not have to spend another in the country. I will always remember those winters as the bleakest, loneliest period of my life, particularly the months of February and March, when the cold white aloneness entered my very soul.

This snow that is coming down now, it is disappointing. This disappointment is relatively benign. Even being housebound over the weekend due to the severe ice storm, that raged for over two days, has not dampened my spirits. Soon the sun will shine, the temperature will rise, and I will open these beautiful windows and let the breeze play through the house.

The day today will be filled with small tasks, all aimed at organizing “stuff”. Now that all my books are out and easily available, the temptation to graze on words is strong. I am resisting that urge though, and moving through more pragmatic activities: bill paying, appointment making, purging, cleaning.

Attila has been busy working on the house, winterizing. The rim joist perimeter in the basement has provided an incredible amount of air circulation from the great outdoors. This is not a good thing. The fellow who insulated our attic recommended sealing the cracks at the rim joists, the insulating, then applying vapour barrier. Attila has accomplished this for about 1/4 of the perimeter of the basement. Since the temperature is hovering around 0C now, and will rise from there, I doubt I will notice the difference until next winter, when the cold winds howl and batter the house. Although I might not notice a difference, there may be a noticeable lowering of the hydro bill, once the project is completed.

The garage project has been slated for June, according to Attila’s latest plan. He wants to spend May planting his garden.

My projects involve organizing “stuff”, which is ongoing, and not subject to interference by weather conditions. My crochet blanket is coming along slowly, no hurry, just a row or so a day, keeps my hand in. I am thinking of doing some pressure canning, but haven’t been motivated to get started on it yet. Tonight I am preparing baked chicken, roast potatoes, and green beans for dinner. Attila plans his second supper himself, he always eats two suppers over the course of an evening.

I did some exploring, feeling the need for additional entertainment sources, as Netflix, and Prime Video offerings are just too violent and nihilistic, or banal and shallow, for my taste. I tried BBC iPlayer, not available in Canada. I tried PBS, not available in Canada. Then someone on Facebook shared a link to Britbox, which recently became available in Canada. I had a look and signed up for the free trial. The first program I am watching is Unforgotten. Wow! This is a very good program. The initial episode of the season involves the discovery of a long dead person, the short, to the point visual image of the dead person is not dwelt upon, but included as a viable part of the story. The rest of the season’s episodes involve finding justice for the person who was found dead, developing the story of their lives, their loved ones, their enemies. It is an excellent program! One murder a season I can handle, as opposed to the more common North American multiple, graphically violent deaths in every episode.

Soon I will begin to think about what I want to do when the weather warms, and being outdoors holds some appeal! Soon the weather won’t make the roads impassable, footpaths treacherous, plans precarious. Waiting!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 7:48 AM EDT Tuesday 17 April 2018
Condition: Light Snowshower
Pressure: 100.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 0.6°C
Dew point: -1.1°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: WSW 17 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Even now,” she thought, “almost no one remembers Esteban and Pepita, but myself. Camila alone remembers Uncle Pio and her son; this woman, her mother. But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and then forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and the land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
Thornton Wilder

love… the only survival, the only meaning

Thinking of you Reenie, your message, your life.

Let It Snow

I awoke to a white world this morning. The blanket of white is thin, it probably won’t survive the day. I can hear the birds calling out from the trees in the front yard, which is a benefit of leaky single pane windows. This is soon to change, the new windows will be here in April. I hope that when the new windows are installed, that I will need to open the windows to hear the birds calling.

This weekend there are two projects to tackle. One is to insulate the rim joists in the basement, Attila has offered to tackle that rather than have me reaching from a ladder. I am graciously accepting the offer. The other is move the red pine boards, meant to be the new flooring for most of the house, into the attic of the new shed. The pine boards are now stacked carefully in the basement, in front of one of the windows that will be replaced. I can help with this task, as the individual boards are quite light, and I can carry them across the basement and pass them up the stairs to the back door, one at a time. The other option would be to remove the nails holding the back basement window closed, and pass them through the window. I will suggest that to Attila, he usually has some sort of plan about how he would like to do things, and since he will do most of the grunt work, his preference is top priority.

The holding pattern here at Mist Cottage is settling in, and day-to-day life here is not unpleasant, although the grieving process is far from over. Attila continues to be frank, considerate, and intent on his personal goals. Communication has improved. My biggest challenge is developing face-to-face connections in the outside world, much easier said than done. It is a work in progress. I continue to keep my eyes open for activities that aren’t too physically demanding, aren’t too expensive, and seem at least a bit interesting. My second biggest challenge is redefining myself in light of the new and unusual orientation of my domestic situation. I have had one turning point, and I am sure there are many more to come!

It is March at last! March is a transitional month, in this part of Ontario. At the country house, March was full on winter, right to the bitter end. Here at Mist Cottage, over the last eight years, March has offered some winter weather, and also many spring-like interludes, which bring hope and lightness to the heart.

I was disappointed to discover yesterday that I have yet more banking to do. I suspected that my financial position was dire, I knew it actually. Yesterday I met with a bank representative to investigate the possibility of a line of credit. Apparently, at my income level, I am eligible for absolutely no type of credit at all. I am living a financially “off grid”, part of the underclass, life, and this is probably a permanent situation. It feels a bit funny, as I have worked hard all of my life, have an excellent credit rating, and no personal debt, but there it is, those things count for nothing in the world of finance. This particular reality severely limits my options for housing, and my flexibility. I will have to do the best I can for myself with what I have. It is fortunate that I have the luxury of time in which to figure this out.

The decimation of the forest in the environmentally protected (ha!) area at the end of our street continues. The backhoe has cleared several acres and is now moving around and behind our property to clear cut the forest we see from our back kitchen window. What a loss this will be! I have enjoyed looking at the birds, the wind in the trees, the silhouetted branches at sunset… Soon there will be no trees, noisy construction, and then rental units with blinding high intensity street lights, of the type that this particular developer loves to install on the streets in his developments. The stars will fade. I suppose I will get used to it. Already I am thinking about planting a line of deciduous trees across the back the of the property.

On Wednesday, in the shower, my knee cracked, for no reason on God’s green earth. I was just standing there! I have experienced pain ever since. I am moving carefully. I can still manage a slowed down version of Tai Chi, and can comfortably use the elliptical machine, so at least there is that. I must look into a good knee brace, which hopefully would allow me to remain active safely. For now though, I am being very cautious when I move, and I keep moving.

Ah, the day has slipped by, time unnoticed. Looking out the kitchen window, I see that most of the snow has melted away. March!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 7:26 AM EST Friday 2 March 2018
Condition: Drifting Snow
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.2°C
Dew point: -4.0°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: N 28 gust 40 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 10 km

Quote

“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”
Sir Francis Bacon
1561 – 1626

bwhahahaha

I value face-to-face contact above all other forms of human interaction. Having said that, in my present life, the richest and most valuable form of human contact is digital; it is on this blog, through VOIP, email, Facebook, and Messages. I feel deep attachment to, and respect for, the people in my digital life. Some people I have met, they include loved ones and old friends; while others I have not met, but have grown over the course of time to appreciate. It is true, it is possible some of the people that I have not met and have become attached to, exclusively in the digital world, may not be who they say they are… be that as it may, the persona that they bring to our interactions is one that I appreciate.

I think the turning point that I experienced over the last few days, has been the realization that parts of my life are very rich. It is an incomplete wealth, for face-to-face contact is something I consider necessary to maintain balance, something which I am losing with my marriage coming to an end, a loss that I grieve. But my digital life is a sustaining wealth, a valuable cornerstone.

My present bizarre state of co-habitation with Attila does offer some bemusing situations.

Attila wants me to cook during the week. Attila lives to eat and sleep and smoke cigarettes. To Attila, food matters a lot. He had harboured some bitter feelings towards me that he had been doing all the cooking. Fair enough, I have time, I have skills, I am willing to cook, so almost two weeks ago I was to take over the job of cooking during the week.

So far, of the seven nights I have been slated to cook, he has cooked two of the meals, at his own request, and has decided what he has wanted for dinner three other nights, then gathered together the ingredients before he left for work in the morning, left them on the kitchen counter, so that I could prepare the meal. So five times out of seven he has decided what we would eat. He thinks of this as helping me. I call this micromanagement. This is how he ended up doing all the cooking over the 25 years of our previous relationship. I did not care for being micromanaged, so I withdrew to let him take over and do his thing. It is happening again. I’ve pointed this out to him, but so far the micromanagement continues unabated. I have some ideas on how to meet the micromanagement head on. The first is that I will prepare menus for the coming week, rather than decide each day what I will prepare as I prefer to do. That way, when he asks me if I have decided what I will make for dinner, I can say yes… BUT, bwhahahaha, I can always ignore the menu and change my mind! There is a reason I call this quirky person Attila.

Yesterday the attic insulation was installed. The first appointment was scheduled for early in the morning. On Monday I received a message requesting a change in the time of the appointment to around lunch time. Lunch time came and went… no insulation people. So I called the company and left a message. I received a return call within 15 minutes, to assure me they were on their way. The slight inconvenience in their being late turned into a real bonus for Mist Cottage. They had a surplus of insulation on the truck, which is an issue with weight restrictions for the vehicle, so they wanted to install the surplus insulation in our attic, free of charge. It worked for them, it worked for us. We are now insulated with R60 in our attic, but we paid only for R40, and the attic meets EnergyStar standards.

They installed rafter vents, and a crib around the attic hatch, and checked for any issues in the attic, none were found. They also sealed off a redundant ceiling fan that was installed in the kitchen ceiling. That fan vented directly into the attic, and there was a lot of heat loss through it, no more.

The insulation job is certified, and the certificate was stapled to the attic hatch. Apparently there were areas in the attic that had less than one inch of insulation, which is not a good thing. Now the entire attic is covered evenly with insulation at an R60 value.

We chose cellulose insulation for the attic, which is basically paper treated with fire retardant. The biggest downside to this is that if it gets wet, it will be ruined, so a leak in the roof could be expensive, and a misery to clean up. It will be crucial to maintain the integrity of the roof, and to insist that any work done on the roof be done in fine weather.

The insulation installation left two jobs that need doing. One is to disconnect the power to the ceiling fan, this must be done by Attila, as he has the skills needed to do it. The other is to apply a weather strip to the perimeter of the attic hatch. I could do the attic hatch weather stripping, but would have serious difficulty getting the heavy hatch moved out of the way. I will try to get Attila to move the hatch, then do the weather stripping myself, and then have him replace the hatch.

The fellow who certified our insulation installation also mentioned to me that there were two areas of a home that need good insulation for energy efficiency. One was the attic, we can check that off the list. The second is the insulating the basement rim joists. This is a project I can tackle myself, and I will. This project has to wait though, until the new windows have been installed. Mist cottage will have all new basement windows, and all new windows on the main floor of the house, except for the dining area, where Attila installed new energy efficient windows last fall.

That is the first of three renovation projects almost done! Next the window installation, which represents three days of serious domestic disruption, but well worth it. Then the garage roof project will begin. Attila had slated a specific date for beginning the garage roof project, but has decided to be more flexible about the start date. He will begin the roof project as soon as the new windows have been installed. He is highly motivated to make the garage a reasonable place to spend his time, and as a secure, dry storage space.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-3°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Thursday 22 February 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 104.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -2.5°C
Dew point: -8.7°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: NNE 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
1929 – 1968