Ice Storm

It is Friday night and here in Eastern Ontario we are heading into a weekend of severe weather conditions, including freezing rain with accumulations, and snow. It is spring, but winter just does not want to let go.

I managed to get to two Tai Chi classes this week, it won’t be long until my membership runs out and must be renewed, so I am taking advantage of the opportunity to attend classes while it lasts.

I continue to use the elliptical machine most days, at least five days out of a seven day week, which for me is pretty good. I have been active indoors this last month, the moving of furniture has begun a process of reorganization that will be ongoing for quite some time.

Because we might lose power this weekend, I will be preparing quite a bit of food for the cooler, so that if a prolonged period without hydro occurs, it will be easy to heat things up on the propane camp stove, out on the back porch. Attila has filled the gas can, so that during a power outage the furnace can be run from time to time to keep the house relatively warm. I have candles, and battery powered lanterns, so we should be good for light. Although reading by that light would be difficult, a rousing game of mahjong, or scrabble, or cribbage, could fill the dark evening hours.

The new windows are still noticeably wonderful, every room is not only more comfortable, but brighter and cheerier as well, even during the overcast chilly spring days that dominate the weather.

I continue to crochet, still working on my second blanket. It is taking form ever so slowly, and I enjoy having it here beside me, ready to occupy my hands if they get restless. Currently two books are on the end table, Kristen Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset, and
The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters.

A lot of my time is consumed with cooking and baking from scratch, and the endless cleanup that goes with such activities. My days consist of a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, taken up in between culinary processes in the kitchen. The days spent at home pass quickly.

All spring the “better weather” has been only two weeks away, according to the weather predictions, and so it is today, two weeks away. Those two weeks have taken a tedious few months to pass.

Our domestic holding pattern is holding. My anguish over the recent events has diminished significantly. That is not to say I am happy with things as they are. I am actively working on adjusting to this new reality, which seems to take up a lot of my time, at least for now. It is time well spent.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Kingston Airport
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Friday 13 April 2018
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 4.8°C
Dew point: 3.3°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: NE 15 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.”
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Who Knows

How different this new life is, compared to what I thought it would be at this point in my life, compared to what it was last spring. I thought I was in a relatively happy, even if financially restricted, retirement, living in a place I find pleasant, living with someone who I loved and who loved me. Although our circumstances were decidedly modest, I felt the important things in life were covered. Was it a dream? It was a nice dream, if it was a dream. Maybe it was real though, real with an unexpected expiration date. Of course, everything alive has an expiration date. This particular one was not the one written on the package, it came much earlier.

The holding pattern with Attila is, well, it is holding. For the most part the time passes pleasantly. The future is unknown, uncertain, unpredictable. The grieving process is ongoing, which is only natural, but I now have short periods of significant respite from the pain. The one true thing is still the one true thing, I am living with a man who does not want to be in a married relationship with me. There is no question that we care for one another. Other truths have not emerged. In time they probably will, it is a matter of letting things take their natural course. Patience is a necessity. This situation uses up most of my stores of patience.

The weekend was cold! It is cold out there this morning too. I found no place I wanted to go alone this past weekend. Attila says he is too worn out from the daily grind of his job to want to go out, except on very rare occasions, except to shop for food at bargain prices. He loves to eat, he loves to shop for the food he eats. I usually do this with him, as it is an opportunity to walk around in the store for half an hour or more, exercise, and limited social contact. Since I don’t eat much, and can’t eat most of the food in the stores, it isn’t an activity that inspires any joy. Other activities will have to be ones I attend by myself. I am working on that.

I filled the weekend with my projects, and with the baking of bread and muffins. On Saturday night Attila and I made a homemade pizza, and watched a movie, which is always a treat. Less and less often do we eat the same foods, at the same time. Surprisingly, this has led to a significant reduction in domestic tension. My dietary restrictions are difficult for me to bear with good grace, but I have no choice. Attila has a choice, and he has made it.

The world is full of hints of spring! Every day I find all kinds of bugs in the house. Asian beetles, house flies, wasps, Western Conifer Seed Bugs, they enter around the living room window, and other locations, and I find them all over the house. I don’t believe in escorting insects to the out of doors, if they have entered my home, they are unwelcome invaders, and they are quickly dispatched and disposed of. This is a spring ritual here at Mist Cottage. At the country house it was a completely different array of insects that made spring weather interesting.

The snow is gone, although a few small patches remain in shaded areas of the remaining bush behind the house. The imminent destruction of those trees is nigh, by next March there will be a hive of rental units where there were once tall and majestic trees.

My second crochet blanket is coming along slowly. I have been enjoying working a few rows on it, during the day. The rhythm of the hook and yarn is comforting, grounding, and totally within my control. It feels good to have control over something.

The book Kristin Lavransdatter is another source of enjoyment. I like to read books slowly, coming back to them over and over again, sitting down to have a cup of tea with them. Almost like having a chat with a friend. Although, admittedly, they aren’t good listeners.

At my last Tai Chi class, it was suggested to me that Tai Chi “wasn’t for me”.

The beginners lesson had gone well for me, as far as I was concerned. There was a move taught that involved the turning of the foot, in a way that looked like it would hurt my knee. I didn’t do that move, but stopped and resumed when the action returned to the doable. That odd turn of the foot can be accommodated eventually, but the move will need to be carefully orchestrated to avoid injury. I have the first five moves comfortably learned. The beginners class has moved way beyond those first five moves, and I have not progressed with the class. This doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I follow along with whatever is being taught in the beginners class, knowing that any practise is good, even if I don’t remember any of what has been taught. What I do has no effect on anyone else, the classes proceed at the prescribed pace, the other people in the class proceed at the prescribed pace, I proceed at my pace.

Apparently the issue is when the whole group, including the beginners, gathers to do the routine, when it becomes glaringly obvious I have not learned more than five moves. I imitate, sometimes successfully, what I see around me, and when I cannot, or the moves seem beyond my knee, I just stop and watch until something familiar comes up, then I start again. This works well for me.

During the last Tai Chi lesson I attended, during the whole group session, I became tired, after an hour and half on my feet, doing things that I found challenging, and decided to wait it out in the wings. I moved to the side of the gym and stood quietly and contentedly watching the others. One woman looked over at me, she seemed concerned, she seemed upset, I smiled and nodded that I was OK. The leader came across the gym to talk with me, I explained that I was a slow learner, and watching was helpful; she seemed content with that, made her way back across the gym, and carried on with the group. However, another older woman, so far it has been older women who target me, came over to give “advice” at the end of the session. She suggested to me that Tai Chi was not for me.

I was enjoying the whole thing until that point. But really, what is it with these Tai Chi gals of a certain age, why are their knickers getting into such a twist over a little bit of unobtrusive variance. I go to Tai Chi to be active, relax, and learn. It is not an olympic sport, and it is advertised as offering health benefits. They sure aren’t meeting that goal in the realm of mental health!!! It is not something I feel I have to pick up at all costs, or on a particular schedule. It certainly isn’t very relaxing, feeling all this pressure to learn in a certain way, and perform to certain standards on schedule. It is only a few individuals applying all the pressure, but they seem relentless in their quest. It only takes one rotten apple, as they say.

The pressure to conform seems ever present in “clubs”. There are types of conformity that bring pleasure, psychic comfort, safety, and a whole variety of other positive social benefits. There are also types of conformity that hobble, reduce, impede, and generally interfere with the natural flow of human social interactions. My Tai Chi class embodies both, an interesting mix. Perhaps over time, the busy little Tai Chi “social engineers” who plague me will cease to register with me, even as an annoyance.

Well, my first forays into the wide world have not been unmitigated successes. I am batting 0. What I have gained through these explorations is an increased confidence in getting out there on my own. I am also getting used to being out of my comfort zone. Back to the drawing board, as they say. The spring should bring a whole new array of opportunities, so who knows what lies ahead.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Sunny
-12°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 19 March 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -9.2°C
Dew point: -20.6°C
Humidity: 39%
Wind: N 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“On October 20, 1949 the Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson published the tale. This is the earliest instance located by QI:

Groucho Marx’s letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

On October 13, 1951 the only son of Groucho, Arthur Marx, published a version of the anecdote in Collier’s Magazine. This is the earliest variant by a close family member with intimate knowledge of Groucho. Over the years Arthur Marx recounted different narratives of this episode, and some will be presented further below. In 1951 he said that Groucho joined the Friars Club at the insistence of friends, but he did not participate. So Groucho sent in a letter of resignation:

In the next mail, he received a letter from the club’s president, wanting to know why he had resigned. My father promptly wrote back, “Because I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”…
Source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/04/18/groucho-resigns/

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!

The Purple Ball

Last summer we had a serious wind storm. During that storm, a large purple ball blew into our fenced yard. It would have been quite a feat, jumping that fence, the ball must really have wanted to live here. I’ve been watching that ball, it blows around the yard with every passing breeze. I never know where I’ll see the ball, sometimes it is out of sight altogether, hiding near the back porch, or behind the shed. Most of the time it is resting comfortably somewhere in the yard, against a fence, on the compost heap, beside the ash tree, near the cloths line pole… I’ve grown quite fond of peeking out the kitchen window every morning, just to see where the purple ball has gotten to.

I have to get back to the bank again this week, how tedious! Also, the car has to go in for servicing, which isn’t a big deal, but things have to be scheduled around the event, as it leaves us with one vehicle.

I have decided that this week I will not attend Tai Chi, it is too hard to fit it in. However, if I am honest, there are factors acting as deterrents in my Tai Chi attendance this week. I didn’t want to attend the class with Little Miss Bossy this week. I was going to attend the next day’s class, but it was cancelled for an “intensive” Tai Chi event, which several people were adamant I should attend, which I did not want to attend, and there was a pot luck dinner after the event, Russian Roulette, no thanks, and I didn’t feel up to trying to explain about my allergy, and why I won’t attend the pot luck dinners, which in my experience is regarded as an antisocial act… avoidance seemed the best choice. Then two extra tasks needing a vehicle came up for later in the week, so that is that, no Tai Chi this week. I will be back at it next week. My knee is feeling better every day, so I should be in good form for it.

I have been enjoying hot breakfast cereal every morning over the last few months. I have taken to those offered by Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Wheat Cream of Wheat (discontinued), 6 Grain Cereal, High Fibre Cereal, and one called Mighty Tasty Cereal, a mixture of rice, corn, sorghum and buckwheat. The same method of preparation seems to work for all of them, 1/4 cup cereal, 1 tablespoon of flax seed, 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut, 4 dates chopped, and 3/4 cup of lactose free milk, or almond milk, depending on my whim. I microwave this mixture for 1 minute, then stir, microwave for 30 seconds more, then stir, and if needed microwave for 30 more seconds, then stir. My adjusted palate finds this mixture dessert-for-breakfast sweet. I find that left to my own devices, I tend to eat the same foods every day. This habit developed as my interest in food dwindled, as more and more foods contained my allergen, and my choices dwindled. So it is quite pleasant to have these four different breakfast cereals, plus regular oatmeal, awaiting my pleasure each morning, choice without danger!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3C
Date: 4:00 PM EST Tuesday 6 March 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.8C
Dew point: -5.3C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: ENE 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
Madeleine L’Engle
1918 – 2007

Attic Hatch

Here it is, the last week in February. March, at Mist Cottage, has so far shown signs of spring. Sure, we get snow storms, ice storms, below normal temperatures in March, but not endlessly, there are breaks to remind us that it is only a matter of time before the weather turns milder, kinder.

Today I asked Attila to lift the attic hatch so that I could install weather stripping. What a messy job! Even though I vacuumed the ledge in question, copious amounts of insulation and gritty black crap fell all over my head and body, as I cleaned the surface that was to accept the weather stripping. It didn’t take very long though, to get the job done. The cleanup was the longest task. I ended up vacuuming my hair and body, and enlisted Attila in vacuuming off the back of me. Then there was the floor, this insulation stuff blows around everywhere, and fibres of it float in the air for days. The gritty black crap was the crumbled remains of the ancient weather stripping that had disintegrated in place. I’ll be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning for the next few weeks, but that should do it. I won’t be opening up the attic hatch again!

The last task involved with the attic insulation, is disconnecting the power to the on/off switch for the kitchen ceiling fan, as it has been sealed off. Attila must do that, and I am hoping he will get to it this weekend. He certainly has the time, but it remains to be seen if he has the motivation.

I have been interested in electromagnetic fields (EMF) in our house, but loath to spend money on a meter that would measure such levels. To my surprise, there is an app for Attila’s iPad, free of charge, that will measure EMF levels. I installed it and gave it a try. The readings were shockingly high, ranging from .77 microteslas (µT) to 1.25 microteslas (µT). This was disturbing, as the common literature indicates that homes are typically under .4 microteslas(µT). Ah, BUT the iPad itself would emit electromagnetic fields! So I took it out to the backyard, where there are no power lines, or any source of electricity at all, and voila, it read .77 to .79 microteslas(µT). That is the baseline reading, the internal reading of the iPad itself. So once I subtracted the baseline reading from the high readings in the house, away from appliances, of.97 microteslas(µT), they translated into .2 microteslas (µT)… ah, that is much better!

Attila decided to cook a turkey dinner today, with all the fixings. He loves his turkey dinner, and I love his turkey dinners too. That will relieve me from cooking for most of the week to come. The leftovers usually last a week.

This morning I baked a batch of squash muffins. I have also done a bit more work finishing up the web site I designed. The payment I will receive will really help towards the attic insulation! A very timely project.

The weather continues to be relatively mild. The air source heat pump is supplying all the heat in the house these days, so with any luck we won’t need a delivery of fuel oil before the spring weather officially arrives. Fingers crossed.

On Thursday morning I saw a very sad thing. On the street light pole, at the end of our street, where the trees have been ripped out of the ground and piled at the jagged edges of the muddy clearing created, clung a beautiful pileated woodpecker, the first I’ve seen in these parts. The bird gazed across the field of mud that had once been a wildlife habitat, it looked confused. It was there for the longest time, surveying the destruction of a previous haunt, and then it flew away to seek refuge elsewhere.

I didn’t manage to get to Tai Chi this past week, but I did attend the meditation class, and made progress with my ongoing adjustments to single life. Next week I will be back at my Tai Chi class, and continuing with the meditation as well.

My Mom is driving herself home from Florida tomorrow. She times her travels around the weather reports. The trip usually takes two days of all-day driving. What a gal! Mom lives with my Sister-The-Middle-Girl, who will be looking forward to her homecoming! Happy trails Mom!

And here I am at the end of an entry, and once again, no spelling mistakes! I am flummoxed! How did I get this good this fast! Maybe there are spelling elves.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Saturday 24 February 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.0°C
Dew point: -1.9°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NNW 9 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Satchel Paige
1906 – 1982