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.

Another Monday

What kind of a program makes statements about the human condition like, “war is the only thing we understand”. I tried watching Altered Carbon, a series on Netflix, focused on violence, portraying violence as the only way of the world. That violence exists I do not argue, but it is not all, and I doubt it ever will be. I do see though, that for some humans, it is all they see, or want to see. Why are there so many fatalistic themes in entertainment at this juncture in human history. Is someone(s) trying to bring the acceptance of violence into the lives of the young? Television and movies began to change in the 90s, when I first began to notice the theme of intolerance, contempt for others, and violence seeping into media entertainment. Now much of what is on offer on Netflix and Prime Video is either violent, or portrays ruthless ambition, almost glorifying these aspects of human nature. It is disturbing.

I guess the thinking is, what is the harm in it, it is only entertainment. Until you start thinking about the escalation of mass shootings in the US, by young people, and then it is difficult to believe there is no connection at all, between the portrayals of reality, and the reality that is developing.

I will be watching something other than Altered Carbon.

The morning began with bright sunshine streaming through the windows. Soon after daylight had established itself, the clouds rolled in. Late in the morning, snowflakes fell. There weren’t enough of them to accumulate, they all melted as soon as they reached the earth. The clouds continue to track the sky, allowing the sun to peek through from time to time.

The list of things I wanted to get done today was apparently too ambitious for reality. One of the projects involves setting up the sewing machine. Mist cottage is small, there is one table, it is the only working surface. In order to setup the sewing machine I will need to completely clear off the table. Th items on the table need to be moved. The place, where the items on the table will be moved to, needed to be cleared. And so on, and so on. After getting to the point where I could clear the table, so much time had elapsed that it seemed a waste of time to setup the sewing machine for only an hour or so. It would be better to begin again in the morning, leaving the whole day to work on the project itself.

The rest of the day consisted of small chores, like unloading the dishwasher. Who could complain about unloading a dishwasher! Not I. The dishwasher is a much appreciated appliance around here, particularly since there is very limited counter space here at Mist Cottage.

And that is Monday, as another week begins.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Monday 2 April 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dew point: -3.7°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: S 26 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”
Samuel Butler
1835 – 1902

Doing Its Thing

March is doing its thing. The morning light brought a vision of white, snow had fallen silently while I slept. More snow is predicted today, and again tomorrow. The blanket is thin, it will easily yield itself completely to a sunny day. There are sunny days ahead.

Today is International Women’s Day. Yay women. Yay men who value women as people. Yay the “us” that comes of all those sentient beings who get it.

My life continues to clunk along, here at Mist Cottage. I think it is clunking for Attila too. The holding pattern has settled into a comfortable state of everyday life. Surprisingly, Attila and I have introduced a few new shared activities into the mix, which we both enjoy, a pleasant development. For me, it is the internal adjustments necessary to cope with the changes, that offer the biggest challenge.

I am determined to continue to develop interests in the outside world. I am looking at courses to attend, and perhaps, as was suggested, I might volunteer somewhere. Really, the only activity that I’ve tried thus far, that I think will stick, is the Tai Chi. For now the Tai Chi is something I perceive as difficult, because the method of teaching doesn’t really suit the way I learn, not a good fit, and the expected pace of achievement is far beyond my capabilities. But even considering all of that, I think that eventually I will learn, and when that has taken place I will enjoy spending a few silent hours with the graceful and comforting movements, in the presence of others who are doing the same thing. That is what attracts me to Tai Chi, the silent sharing, people unified by a mere 108 movements, performed simultaneously. It is the closest human’s get to a murmur of starlings.

I often wonder what humans were up to before written history distorted, perhaps even invented, the past. Yes, we have scholars telling us about what happened, based on archeological evidence. But the degree of speculation in this kind of “science” is seldom acknowledged. How much of lived human life can be reduced to a pot shard, a skeleton, a pyramid… the conflation of human life experience to artifacts is not easily reconstituted into an understanding of lived experience, or reveal the complexity of human interactions. For instance, what will the plastic in the oceans say about us, if anyone in the distance future is here to take an interest?

Thoughts for a snowy March morning.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Thursday 8 March 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -0.7C
Dew point: -1.3C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: NW 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -2
Visibility: 13 km

Quote

“You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste and the demons that won’t let you sleep. You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe, who can consume this world whole if he walks hand in hand with you; someone who believes that his embraces are a perfect match with your skin. You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you, who goes to paradise every time he looks into your eyes and never gets tired of studying your expressions. You deserve a lover who listens when you sing, who supports you when you feel shame and respects your freedom; who flies with you and isn’t afraid to fall. You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry.”
Frida Kahlo
1957 – 1954
Correction 1907 – 1954

Now wouldn’t that be lovely!

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

Weekday Dinner

It snowed last night, but this morning the sun came up and shone brightly. A brilliant morning. I have taken to taking little drives when the mood strikes me, just here and there, or anywhere, with no particular purpose or destination. I drove a bit this morning, the countryside was beautiful, glittering white frosting on the trees, crisp blue sky… lovely.

By mid-afternoon a heavy now began to fall from the sky. The weather report predicts snow off and on for the next week or so. Winter has settled in.

Attila and I had a discussion, and I will be doing the weekday cooking of dinner. This suits me fine. Attila had taken over the cooking the evening meal, decades ago, and held onto that over the years, but now finds it tedious and time consuming. During the week it will be easy for me to take the reins, and cook a meal every weekday. Tonight, we begin with spaghetti and my red pepper tomato sauce. It is interesting that the first night I cook the meal, Attila called to say he is working a few hours overtime and will be home late. The spaghetti sauce is made, the pasta can be cooked after he arrives. Two first this evening, the first evening of the new cooking schedule, and the first time Attila has worked overtime at the end of a work day, at this place of employment.

Yesterday I got a lot of my big projects as far as they could go, which means that today I am looking at other projects. I have begun again to work on the genealogy book, I have some tough decisions to make about it going forward, all to do with those pesky images, they are so painful to deal with, inserting them, placing them, referencing them… I will slog on.

One of Attila’s stated goals is to work more overtime, and on statutory holidays, so that he can take time in leu of, and so gain more time off work. He worked an overtime day between Christmas and New Years, and is working overtime this evening. He would like to work on every statutory holiday.

I am preparing myself for the intrusion of contractors, first to insulate the attic in February, then to install the new windows in April. There will temporary chaos, followed by a satisfying clean up and return to order. The work will be done quickly, inexpensively thanks to the grants, and Attila won’t have to lift a finger. Well, not entirely true, Attila needs to move two pieces of furniture out of the way on the main floor, for the window installations, and a lot of stuff out of the way in the basement for the window installations. He does have until April to accomplish this though, there is lead time.

Now, for a little Tai Chi and a walk on the elliptical machine!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10°C
Date: 2:07 PM EST Thursday 8 February 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -9.9°C
Dew point: -11.4°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: SSE 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -16
Visibility: 8 km

Quote

“If you live to be one hundred, you’ve got it made. Very few people die past that age.”
George Burns
1896 – 1996

Taking aim!