Sun!

Yesterday the weather was miserable. It rained all day and it was cold to boot.

This morning the sun rose and shines still. Although it is still sweater weather, it is beginning to warm.

We visited Terra and Lares on Monday evening for a few hours, to share time with our Grandbabies Sunny and Sky, it was their first birthday. They are both doing very well, happy and healthy, and still a bit small for their age. Sunny, the girl, is a going concern, very active and engaged with the world around her. Sky, the boy, is laid back and mellow, and quick to grin, and oh what a smile. Sunny is almost walking, holding on to a push wagon for now, but not for long. Sky has no interest in standing, and is crawling when he sees something he wants to play with. They are so much fun! I lay on the floor with them the whole time we were there, they crawled around me, on me, and over me, what fun! It was a treat at the close of a dreary day.

Terra tells me that Luna, Janus and their Grandbabies are staying in Paris at the moment. Luna is not one to keep up contact, so Terra was very pleased to have received a video from Sunny and Sky’s cousins in Paris, singing happy birthday to them. I have been sending messages to the Grandbabies in Europe, and even received a reply the first week, but have not heard from any of them since, and don’t expect to. I continue to send messages though, just in case they read them.

Today I am busy crocheting a second cotton beanie to use while working in the bush, at the Rideau Camp. The first cotton beanie, a green and white cap, was great for keeping my hair out of my eyes, and for keeping the mosquitoes from biting my head. The yellow jackets thought I was a flower, and kept buzzing my head in confusion. I would stand very still and allow their winged investigations, as they would soon loose interest and move on. It is important not to frighten them, for then they might sting. The second cotton beanie is a brown and white one, and it remains to be seen if it will attract the wildlife.

I’ve just come out onto the back porch to sit in the sun for a while. The birds are singing all around, one little fellow is sitting on the fence near me, so only my fingers are moving so as not to frighten him away. There are insects flying to and fro, which is probably part of the reason there are so many birds about. In the garden five yellow and purple irises are blooming, as are the pink wild geraniums. Two columbine plants seeded themselves at the bottom of the the back step, and have put out profuse blooms. The clematis has climbed the fence, and it growing its way across the fence railing, it will be very pretty when it blooms. I can see the wild grape growing up the center of the Mugo Pine, again, every other year I make an attempt to kill it, and every other year it comes back again.

The laundry I hung up on Monday afternoon, when it was raining, is finally dry, and ready to be folded and put away.

The neighbour who backs onto our back yard has had magnificent children’s playground equipment set up for their only child, a daughter. She has just become a teenager, started high school, and they have now erected a basketball net on a stand on the driveway. Over the weekend the playground was dismantled, and sold segments of it were carted away to be reconstructed in other back yards, played on by other happy children. Some bits are still there, but they will soon be gone, as the landscaper who cares for their yard will soon be there to mow their large lawn, and keep everything looking manicured for them.

Our garden is doing well, but we still have not got our beans and squash planted! Our garlic, given to us by my Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl, is doing very well, as are the onions. Attila loves to garden, it relaxes him. I am different, to me the garden is work, and I think that comes of growing up on a farm, and working as a farm labourer during my teenage years; too much time spent stooped on the ground in the hot sun, or on ladders in trees on still humid days. I am very grateful that Attila finds it relaxing!!

It looks like we are in for some milder weather, at last!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

15°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 7 June 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.9°C
Dew point: 10.7°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

Maybe the past truly was the good old days.

Floods!

There is flooding all around us! It began to rain on Thursday night, then we had heavy rainfall all day Friday, and it has rained all day today. Luckily we had installed a sump pump when the water main was broken in front of our house, which is carrying away the water accumulating below the floor of our basement. So far we are unscathed.

Many roads are closed, basements flooded, and the creeks and streams are running deep and fast and dangerous.

DSCF0579

A typical breakfast. The muffin is chock full of goodness, oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, raisins, an egg, crushed pineapple, desiccated coconut; it does also include a few tablespoons of chocolate chips, and I add two tablespoons of brown sugar to the recipe, so it is just a wee bit sinful. I measure the water I drink at breakfast, to make sure I get the correct amount recommended for taking the medication which must be taken with food and water.

On Thursday Terra called me and asked me if I wanted to take a trip to IKEA with her and Sunny and Sky. Who could say no, not me! Off we went and had a lovely time walking for hours and hours to see all the sights. Sunny is crawling now, and can pull herself up into a standing position. Somehow she discovered how to pull on her harness in the stroller, hard enough so that the back of the seat rose with her so that she could stand holding onto the back of the seat in front of her, Sky’s seat in the stroller. She stood, hands gripped tightly on the back of the front seat, little eyes and a nose just peeking above it, watching everything around her. So tiny and determined! Sky was content to sit in his seat, charming passers by with his big blue eyes and captivating smile. It is so much fun to walk around with these little characters. Sunny wasn’t feeling well on the drive back, I think she overdid it standing the whole time we were strolling through the store. Terra said she recovered quickly once she got her home, changed her diaper and clothes and cuddled for a while.

Friday I had my doctor’s appointment to discuss my bone density test and ultrasound. My bone density is normal, that is a blessing. The ultrasound showed cysts in one kidney, and some very large gallstones. Neither issue is serious, but he will keep an eye on the kidney cysts, so I have another ultrasound in six months time. More new tests though, to explore those chest pains. Looking at my back and stomach next to see if all is well there. I am glad of the opportunity for such a thorough investigation into these chest pains, but I will be glad when we establish that they signify nothing!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

RAINFALL WARNING IN EFFECT
Lightning Light Rain
8°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Saturday 6 May 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 99.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 8.2°C
Dew point: 7.9°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: W 5 km/h
Visibility: 2 km

Quote

“I am glad your test results are good, they can always find little things that are not like when you were twenty.”

My Mom, what she wrote to me in response to my medical news of the day.

First Trip To The Rideau Camp

11:50 am

It is almost noon, and the first load of laundry of the season is out to dry on the line across the back porch. In the winter the laundry is dried on racks in the front bedroom, which has multiple benefits; it saves hydro and humidifies the air during the heating season.

It has been a busy weekend and week so far. On Sunday last Terra and Lares brought Sunny and Sky for a little visit, since they were in town on errands and in the area. Terra had been keeping the babies close to home, for the most part, with few visitors, because their lungs are still catching up after having been born prematurely. She feels more comfortable now taking them out and about, as the season for some of the more dangerous conditions is over for the winter. The babies are still a wee bit small for their age, ten months old today. They are rosy and healthy and progressing as one would expect. Both babies sit up, and crawl. Sunny will actually pull herself up on chairs and grandma’s knee, and loves to walk around with the helping hands of loving adults. While they were here Lares prepared their lunch, and fed Sunny, while Terra fed Sky. Lares has been ill with some kind of flu or food poisoning for the last little while, he was looking rather worn, so off they went home.

After Terra and her family left, we packed some muffins and grapes, loaded some mildewed scrap wood from the garage into tank, dressed in our finest ratty old work clothes, donned our rubber boots, and headed for the Rideau Camp. Our first visit of the season. I will be one year ago this weekend that we took possession of the Camp property. We arrived to sunshine and blue skies. We collected fallen branches from around the camp, and soon a camp fire was burning merrily in the fire pit. Nothing had changed, except for a few fallen branches, since we left for home last November. It was warm enough that by the end of the afternoon we were both in shirtsleeves, and quite comfortable. The new crocheted hat, to keep the hair out of my eyes while working at the camp, lived up to expectation.

So many things were forgotten on the first trip out to the camp. Most felt was the absence of the camera. Most appreciated was the fact that there was tiolet paper from last season still sitting in tank.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty much consumed by travelling to the city to have a 24 hour blood pressure monitor attached on Monday, and handed back on Tuesday. The highlight of my spring came when the doctor reviewing the results with me said, “why are you here?” Apparently my blood pressure averages 126/80 now, couldn’t be better! So I will continue on the low dosage of medication, the low sodium, low sugar diet, daily apple cider vinegar, and daily activity, as it all seems to be working in my best interest. The good results are not a result of significant weight loss, or increasing medication.

There are more doctors appointments next week. One with the cardiologist to review the moderate issues with my heart valves. One for an ultrasound and bone density test. And one to have a mole removed and biopsied. At some point another appointment will be needed to discuss the results of the ultrasound and bone density test, the pap smear, and the mole biopsy. Then, with any luck, I will be tuned up and ready for the summer. Fingers crossed that there are no surprises.

Today I am working on my book. All the images have been collected, and now they need to be added to the book, and captioned. The software in use is not good at doing this job, so a different software package is used for the image layouts, the results are saved as PDF files, which will in turn be imported one by one into the book. This is going to take some time!

The crocheting continues to be fun. The washcloth made with the half double crochet stitch is complete, and I can see a few mistakes I made, as well as a somewhat uneven width due to differences in the tension as I went along. I’ve decided to save it as is and move on to the next stitch, the double crochet stitch. I tried it yesterday and had to frog (tear apart) the whole effort, today is another day and I’ll give it a another go.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Kingston Airport
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 5 April 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dew point: 2.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: NNE 9 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.”
Lily Tomlin
1939 –

[This was originally meant to be humourous, in a sardonic way. Now it isn’t funny.]

2016 Retrospective

Although the calendar year is a mere human artifact, it is one that is familiar to me, and so has meaning in my life. It is time to say farewell to 2016.

A year in retrospect, the highlights.

At the end of the years I always think of A Tale Of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Who is to know what will come, I think to myself. How will we know until the end what was the best, and what was the worst, I ask myself.

The year began with Attila starting on regular night shift at his job. This was a big improvement over working rotating shifts, as he had done since our move to Mist Cottage the previous September. By May he had been offered a promotion to a position that was day shift, and allowed weekends off. This was the first time since we have been together that he has had weekends off, it felt like a miracle, and it still does.

Early winter also saw my Mom facing cancer treatment. There was worry involved for those of us who love her. Not a whine or a whimper escaped her though. She underwent radiation therapy with incredible courage, in her typical indomitable way. And now at the end of a very long year for my Mom, she is cancer free, and recovering from the severe effects of radiation treatment. The side effects of the radiation treatment were severe, and are ongoing. Mom seems to have made her peace with the reality, and has resumed almost all of her previous activities, and is a going concern once more. Sometimes I am in awe of my Mom.

Mom 1945 6 Parry Sound High School picture My Mom at the age of 15, cropped from a school picture, at the end of the second world war.

In the spring of 2016 Attila and I found and purchased the Rideau Camp. We spent every spare minute working there, clearing brambles, brush, dead trees, logs, and garbage. We built a fire pit and a compost toilet system. It was easily the happiest spring of my life, and Attila feels the same way about it.

DSCF8642 This is the Rideau Camp at the end of May, 2016. At this point we had owned the property for seven weeks, the brambles that covered the flat area between the gravel and the wood pile had been cleared and burned by then. We were preparing the camp fire pit, and enjoying picnics every weekend at the Camp.

We also purchased Iris the trailer during the spring. She is a 1976/7 Triple E Surfside trailer, in reasonable condition. We enjoyed camping at our Rideau Camp, and at our Ancestral Camp.

TrailerWEB Iris, on March 5, when we picked her up. It snowed that day!

Also in the early spring we demolished the garden shed at Mist Cottage, and Attila replaced it with a solidly built shed. This project was to take only a few weeks, but the summer had other plans for our time, and it was finally completed in late October. Attila also installed a dishwasher in August, and I must say it is game changer in the kitchen, we love it!

DSCF9742 The renewed Garden Shed, ready for duty at last on October 9, solid and roomy and hopefully mouse proof!

NewImage The new dishwasher. Our counter space is limited, you can see all of it in the photo, and it makes a huge difference when the dirty dishes are piled in the appliance and not on the counters. It also takes little time to wash and air dry the dishes, which are very easy to put away in such a small kitchen.

In late spring Sunny and Sky were born, 7 weeks premature. They were in NICU for six weeks, and Sky had a few touch and go moments. They came home with Terra and Lares, began to thrive, and are beautiful babies. One of Sky’s middle names is Robert, my brother Carl’s middle name, which is just a coincidence as the babie’s middle names are all after Lares side of the family, but it gives me comfort nevertheless.

FullSizeRender Sunny (left) and Sky (right) at 5 months (Gestational 3 months).

We had our first ever summer vacation last July. It was an event we anticipated with great excitement. It just goes to show you that you never know what is around the corner. After spending a few days at our Ancestral Camp, we returned home, then received the news that my brother had suffered a massive heart attack and lay unconscious in a hospital in Toronto. He experienced cardiac arrest for 15 minutes before being resuscitated, and never regained consciousness; my Mom, and all of my siblings were by his side through the long days of hope and disappointment. His funeral was held weeks later. Losing my brother was a profound experience for me, we were babies together, I feel his absence to the core of my being. Carl was an organ donor, and saved three lives.

LittleBrother1970sAtGrannys My brother Carl, at Granny and Grandpa’s house. He returned to spend time at the house almost every year, and that is where we experienced our reunion the summer before last.

By August my blood pressure was high, very high, and would not come down, even after quadrupling my medication. I began a round of doctors appointments at the walk-in-clinic (after more than a year, we still can’t find a family doctor), and had a nuclear stress test on my heart (normal!). The levels slowly lowered, but are still in the “high blood pressure” range. In September I adopted a low-sodium, low-sugar diet, and began taking Apple Cider Vinegar before each meal, which helped. By October I had decided to reduce the ineffective and redundant medication dosage back to the original low dosage, which made no difference at all, but I did find that discontinuing the medication resulted in my blood pressure skyrocketing again, so went back to taking the low dosage. The dietary changes are an intense experience, because something like a pickle and piece of bread could put me over my daily limit for sodium. I also found that food without sodium or sugar is not all that interesting, so that as soon as hunger is satisfied, I stop eating. I no longer eat for pleasure, because it is not pleasurable, just necessary. There has been a slight weight loss.

The most significant feature of 2016 has been that we live at Mist Cottage, and that Attila has regular working hours and weekends off. These two situations are game changers, and have improved our experience of life immeasurably.

It was a year of much joy and deep sorrow.

P.S. I invite you to share the highlights of your 2016, would love to hear them!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-4°C
Date: 7:05 AM EST Saturday 31 December 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.3°C
Dew point: -6.3°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: E 18 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
Visibility: 3 km

Quote

“You better live your best and act your best and think your best today, for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.”
Harriet Martineau
1802 – 1876

Cold Outside

December 15, 2016

Listening to a piano version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, I was suddenly transported to my Grade 5 classroom, sitting up straight on the hard wooden seat of my desk, arms extended, hands clasped together and resting peacefully beside a closed scribbler and a sharpened pencil, where the teacher played Christmas carols on the piano, and we sang along. Singing along to the piano, with voices raised in unison all around, was one of those rare occasions during childhood, in which the wonder of good will wrapped us all in a warm blanket of inclusion and belonging. I seldom feel that kind of wonder in my life these days, but oh the memory is sweet.

Storms continue to rage around our country house, which is no longer ours, nor are the storms. My gratitude for Mist Cottage is amplified by the severity of the distant storm. It is cold here, the wind is strong and bitter, and yet we are still able to travel to a store, or the the hospital if we needed care. I think only someone who has been oppressed by the limitations of extreme winter weather can regard a -22C (-7.6F) wind chill as relatively tropical, the wind chill is predicted to reach -27C (-16.6F) tonight. We are to receive more snow through Friday and Saturday, but it doesn’t sound as if it will be anything near as extreme as it is in Parry Sound / Muskoka.

Terra dropped by today with Sunny and Sky, to pick up the vintage Mac Software that will be donated to a collector. She will carry those boxes to Luna’s house, and the collector will pick them up there. Two boxes gone, and a little visit with Sunny and Sky, a lovely afternoon! Sky slept through the visit, but Sunny was wide awake and having a great time looking at the all the colours on the Christmas tree and the decorations hanging in the front windows. Sunny and Sky are very appealing little people!

Our evening is winding down. Attila is preparing a green salad, after which we will enjoy Tuna Melts, a new dish to us. We have divided the tuna into two bowls, as Attila will use far more of the salty mayonnaise than I am allowed, and also add other condiments to his portion. My serving of cheese to top the open faced sandwich will be carefully weighed on my new kitchen scale (an early Christmas gift from Attila), so that I can ensure that my portion of cheese does not take me over my daily limit for sodium, or cholesterol. We don’t have many meals figured out that are suitably low in sodium: roast chicken with rice and vegetables; macaroni and cheese with vegetables; and coconut lime baked fish with rice and vegetables. If the Tuna Melts work out, it will be a fourth reliable dish we can prepare for our dinners.

My blood pressure is still borderline high, sometimes even higher, and sometimes lower. I am not sure the low sodium, low sugar, low cholesterol diet makes any difference at all. I continue to take the apple cider vinegar and honey before my meals. My weight has fallen a little, but that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference to my blood pressure readings. Still, a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise can’t hurt me, even if they aren’t helping me.

Our Christmas tree is beautiful. I am so glad Attila talked me into having this real tree. It takes up a lot of room, but that is a temporary situation, so although it is a little crowded in here, it seems quite cozy.

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas tree 2016

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-12°C
Date: 5:00 PM EST Thursday 15 December 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.7°C
Dew point: -23.4°C
Humidity: 38%
Wind: NW 29 gust 53 km/h
Wind Chill: -22
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970