On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

The Little Black Fly

I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom. My Sister-The-Youngest-Girl is staying with her Beau Bob at the moment while they renovate her kitchen. Beau Bob kindly let us come to stay for a night, and hosted a family celebration with my Mom, my two sisters and my niece and fiancé. My Mom and my niece also recently celebrated birthdays, so we honoured that occasion as well. We had a lovely time, Sister-The-Youngest-Girl cooked a wonderful roast beef dinner, and made a Black Forest Cake, gifts were given to Mom and my niece. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl took me to their garden and loaded me up with all kinds of goodies: a rhubarb plant, rhubarb to eat, dill plants, an oregano plant, garlic buds to plant, onions to plant, and green onions to eat. Attila and I enjoyed the green onions on Sunday night in our green salad. Garden vegetables are the best tasting!

My niece invited us to their place for muffins Sunday afternoon, they just purchased a house in the country. Their house is lovely, they are renovating, and the views are heavenly. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Luna, from a dialup up connection in Amsterdam, sent a Mother’s Day email greeting, and Terra send a message in the morning, dropped off a card, and called via FaceTime in the afternoon so that we could talk to Sunny and Sky. Sunny is standing by herself for brief moments now, and is so delighted with herself. Sky is beginning to crawl, and to move from a crawl into a sitting position, and once accomplished, he flashes a heart catching joyful smile.

The drive to visit my sisters and my Mom is not really such a great distance, but it does involve passing through the city of Toronto. This adds an hour or more to the journey, as we always run into stop and go traffic somewhere as we pass through. I have been in several motor vehicle accidents, and am not the most relaxed passenger there ever was. So it was a happy discovery that I could take along my crochet project (a carry all bag), and work on it blissfully as Attila operated the vehicle. That freed him from any concern about how I was feeling. Attila is sensitive to my feelings, which is usually a good thing, but in this instance it is counter-productive. We both experienced an easier journey.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, Attila went right to work planting all the wonderful things we had been given, and I washed, chopped, and cooked the rhubarb to make 2 ½ quarts. Attila enjoys stewed rhubarb in his lunches.

Yesterday I called the bank to reschedule an appointment. The original was for Monday morning, and I happily spent my day with no awareness whatsoever of my commitment. On Tuesday morning I looked at the calendar and found that I had missed the appointment, but thought that I was only hours late, this time not realizing it was already Tuesday. Calling the bank, I apologized for inconsiderately missing the arranged appointment, and asked for another. Luckily she had an opening the same day, so that chore is now done and dusted.

Yesterday evening, as soon as Attila arrived home from work, we headed in Tank towards the Rideau Camp. He had been warned by co-workers living in the countryside, that the black flies had started and that were bad this year. We were prepared. During the day I hung a set of work clothes each on the clothesline and sprayed them liberally with permethrin, wearing a mask, latex gloves, and a long sleeved shirt. They were dry in good time to be worn at the camp that evening. I also packed our evening meal, consisting of homemade sodium-free hummus, low-sodium rice crackers for me, pita bread for Attila, seedless grapes, coconut pineapple muffins, and low-sodium lime flavoured soda water. Attila had the gardening tools ready by the door, so that they could be loaded into Tank in a few minutes. I donned a “bug jacket” at home, ready for the hoards of little black biters.

The water level in our swamp was down a bit, and the creek was running at a trickle. I zipped up the head segment of the bug jacket before getting out of Tank, and was glad I had. The black flies were well represented, but Attila noted that they really “weren’t that bad”. We had become accustomed to the black flies at the country house, which were worse by a hundredfold, than they were at the Rideau Camp. Still, I was glad of the full cover bug jacket, and Attila used insect repellent on any of his exposed flesh. Neither of us received a bite.

Attila has two projects in mind for this visit. The first was to whipper snip the open areas, which took almost two hours, as there is quite an area to cover now. The second was to prepare the dirt where the wood pile had been, and then to do some planting. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl loaded us up with goodies while we were visiting for Mother’s Day. At the Camp Attila planted 20 garlic buds, and three mounds of squash. We will see how they do, we aren’t expecting much but you never know. At one point the land was used as pasture, and you just never know where those cow patties landed.

While Attila was busy with his projects, I wandered down to the end of the driveway, enjoying all the flora and fauna. Coming back to the cleared area I dragged along with me two small dead trees, piling them up near the camp fire pit, ready for the next camp fire. I continued my forays for dead wood, and amassed quite a sizeable pile of it for future camp fires. Only a brief time was spent raking crushed stone, it is such hard labour, I don’t want to push myself past my limit. The crushed stone project is going to take a very long time to complete.

DSCF0629 The driveway at the Rideau Camp, a nice place for a stroll. Most but not all of the brush piles, left by the previous owners, have been collected and burned in the camp fire pit. It certainly looks a lot nicer than it did a year ago, when we first owned and began to work on the property.

The Trout Lilies were spent, but we found many small violets in bloom all around the Camp. The Trilliums were at their peak, masses of them at the sides of the road as we drove in, and masses of them on our property. The birds have at last arrived, we heard owls in the distance, saw geese fly overhead, watched four Blue Jays kibitz around in the trees, and as the evening shadows lengthened murders of crows flew in and settled in one of the huge oak trees on our property. We have hundreds of crows on and around our property.

DSCF0622 The Trilliums were in bloom!

We found no signs of unwelcome visitors. The young boys who had trespassed with their motor bikes and ATV had not returned. We have a No Trespassing sign to put up next time we go to the Camp. I noticed a neighbour had put up a sign prohibiting dirt bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs, so I am going to look into getting one of those signs as well. There will always be new crops of boys heading out to “God’s Country” with their motorized toys.

As the light began to fail, we sat contentedly in Tank, eating our meal where the black flies do not roam. Black flies do not like enclosed spaces, they will head for an opening to escape. It was possible to eat, and breath, without concerning ourselves with small beings flying into our mouths and noses. Mosquito season is not so kind, they have no foibles about hanging around in enclosed spaces, and actually like them as their targets are usually immobile and easier to attack.

We arrived home just before bed time. I slept deeply. Usually I wake up when Attila does in the morning, but this morning Attila had to wake me.

Terra called, and then dropped by with Sunny and Sky. We are seeing more of Sunny and Sky now that they are older. Terra has been cautious, during their first preemie months at home, about exposing them unnecessarily to illnesses that might affect them more seriously full-term babies. Today they were going out with Terra’s friend, but the friend is not up so early, so they came here for their breakfast to wait for her. Sunny and Sky seem to like it here. They enjoy the two baby toys that I keep in the kitchen drawer for them: a red silicone basting brush, and a yellow plastic ice cream scoop. I had to run around putting away things that might fall on them, as Sunny now pulls herself up on furniture or anything she can reach. She actually got the kitchen chair working as a walker, moving it across the floor as if it was on wheels. Sky is crawling, and today he learned how to sit from a crawling position. Lots of first for these wee folk.

It is a beautiful summer day today. Sunshine, and warm breezes mean that I have thrown open the windows to let in the blossom scented air.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 17 May 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dew point: 15.7°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: SW 28 gust 44 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”
George Burns
1896 – 1996

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.

Spectacularly Unspectacular

Easter weekend was very kind to us this year. We decided to stay home and work on the yard and house, because in a few short weeks we won’t be spending our weekends at home, we will be at the Rideau Camp.

On Friday, the day Attila had off work, he raked the entire yard, and trimmed a lot of the dead organic matter from last winter. I removed sheets of plastic that had wintered in bunched up balls under the back deck, hideous! One of them had been sprayed by a Tom Cat, so you can imagine the smell. It was bagged, and along with the yard waste and a large bag of garbage that had hung around all winter, it was loaded into Tank for a trip to the dump.

Friday we got word that Luna and Janus and Imp and Elf and Tink were going to make a flying visit to the area to see all of us before their flight to Amsterdam. They will be living in Amsterdam for three months, the whole family. This news inspired me to undertake spring cleaning. After all, two crawling babies and three active children need a clean space to cavort in. They all arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and stayed for an hour or so. Then they headed off to Terra’s house, which is very large, to spend the night.

It was a lovely visit. When Tink asked me to read her a story, it was the perfect opportunity to read to all my Grandbabies one of the books I bought with them in mind. The story we read together is called “The Night You Were Born”, by Nancy Tillman. I love this book because it celebrates every new life, not within the family context, but within the context of the universe, of being a living entity on planet earth. This book welcomes all new human life, not just those who are lucky enough to have a family to welcome them into the world, it is very inclusive. And so there I sat, reading those beautiful words to those bright young souls, that told them the story of how precious they are in the universe. Imp and Tink sat on my left, Elf sat on my right, little Sunny sat on my lap, and Sky listened from the other room, happily ensconced on his Grandpa’s lap. Elf and Tink listened with bright eyes, Imp sometimes gazed off into the distance, as she is known to be introspective at times, Sunny in her frilly dress was intent upon touching the pages, perhaps having a little taste, and Sky could be heard commenting in his own language as his Grandpa held him. How sweet is was when after reading this part of the story,

“So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

we whispered each child’s name. It felt like my brother, my Granny and Grandpa, and my Aunts, were crowded around us and silently whispering their love into those beautiful names.

Monday morning saw Attila off to work, and me driving Tank to visit Terra’s house, for a shared breakfast with my daughters and their families. I enjoyed listening to them talk amongst themselves, and enjoyed playing with the Grandbabies, all of them. The Grandbabies enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt out of doors, filling their Easter Baskets with the treats they found scattered and hidden all over the yard. The morning flew past, and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. We will not see Luna, Janus, Imp, Elf, and Tink for quite a while, today they catch their flight to Amsterdam, where they will live for the next three months before returning to Ontario. They are all very excited to be going on such an adventure. Terra and Lares and Sunny and Sky were preparing to attend an Easter Monday family get together at Lares’ uncle’s home.

Today was a day of comparative leisure. I baked Squash Muffins. I washed a load of laundry and hung it outside on the line to dry. I worked on my book. I worked on my crochet project, a cotton cover for my Obus seat. Attila arrived home and we enjoyed a dinner consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, and green and yellow beans. Because it is light later into the evening, Attila is out in the yard levelling a flower box that had settled crookedly over the winter. I have cleaned the kitchen, and now written this entry.

We have had a spectacularly unspectacular Easter break.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Tuesday 18 April 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.1°C
Dew point: -3.9°C
Humidity: 37%
Wind: SSE 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“For never before in story or rhyme
(no even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…”
from On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman