Shut In

It was a fitful night, filled mostly with sleep, sleep interrupted frequently by the howl of the wind, and visits to the loo. When morning light arrived, it found me snuggled under my eiderdown, gazing out the window at the tortured trees, as the wind ripped across the landscape.

It was -5C outside the window when I finally arose.

We had hydro, all night, and it is still with us this morning. The weather today may change that.

The sand truck just passed, leaving a dark stain down the middle of the road. The truck returned, to plow the accumulated ice pellets to the side of the road. Transportation routes are passable again.

It isn’t over yet though! Today promises to bring more ice pellets and freezing rain, along with strong winds.

I am shut in, as is Attila, for the weekend. Yesterday was quite pleasant, allowing ample time to attend to reorganizing the domestic space here. There were two large unpacked heavy totes in the basement, containing my text books. Attila carried them to the main floor for me. I thought I would want to get rid of them, but alas, no. Many of them were written by friends, colleagues, some of them reference my work. There is a whole world of memories in those books, good memories, so I carefully sorted through them, organized them, and placed them on the bookshelf. Two totes down in the basement, yay!

Within a few days all of this ice will be gone. Hopefully the roads will be clear by tomorrow morning, when many people need to go back to work. For my part, I am looking forward to some weather that resembles spring, so that I can sit on the back porch, and plan activities away from the house that won’t be cancelled due to weather and road conditions.

Yesterday I spent some time in the kitchen preparing Falafels. The recipe I have is low in sodium, as I only add a pinch, rather than the recommended amount, and includes grated carrots. I love it! It was created by the cook, Maya Jagger, at the day care centre at the university, when Terra was enrolled there. The woman was one of the nicest you would ever want to meet, Terra loved her. She liked Terra. Terra has a genuine appreciation for good food, so they were bound to like one another. I bought Maya’s cookbook, and the recipe for Falafels became one of my favourite meals.

Last night I shared my creation with Attila, and we enjoyed a lovely meal together.

Netflix has done a remake of Lost In Space. I liked that program as a kid, and this new rendition is very amusing, very different, and very amusing. So far there is no gratuitous violence, or extreme intrigue, just ordinary human orneriness, with the usual undetected sociopath in the mix, there is always a sociopath, in real life as in fiction.

This morning I have baked muffins while the hydro is here, and a loaf of bread is in the machine, chugging towards a loaf.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

FREEZING RAIN WARNING IN EFFECT
-4°C
Lightning
Light Freezing Rain
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Sunday 15 April 2018
Condition: Light Freezing Rain
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.2°C
Dew point: -7.0°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: NE 41 gust 58 km/h
Wind Chill: -13
Visibility: 16 km

Today: Periods of ice pellets or freezing drizzle changing to freezing rain near noon and ending late this afternoon then cloudy. Risk of freezing drizzle late this afternoon. Ice pellet amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind northeast 40 km/h gusting to 70. High minus 1.

Tonight Cloudy. Rain beginning late this evening. Risk of freezing drizzle this evening. Amount 15 mm. Wind northeast 40 km/h gusting to 70. Temperature rising to plus 2 by morning.

Quote

“When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.”
Lord Falkland (1610 – 1643)

Heading North

We are experiencing another cold week here in the bush. The house cooled overnight, the warmest spot in the house this morning was 16C. That isn’t too bad. Today we will once again perform three firings of the masonry heater, so that tomorrow morning it should be warmer in the house.

I felt lucky though, because I looked at the weather and road conditions this morning, for those south of us in Ontario. They are much worse off, with heavy snowfall yesterday, and blowing snow to make the roads extra treacherous.

But then, at mid-morning the white stuff began to fall in large fluffy flakes; apparently we will receive our fair share, the foul weather is heading north. And the wind picked up, making for a wind chill, and cooling the house. So far, with one firing of the masonry heater, we have raised the warmest spot to 17C. Better, but still not comfy. Slowly I am beginning to look like a snowman, as I don layer after layer of warm clothing.

Still, I know that by the middle of next week it should be warmer, the worst night time lows only -17C. I am looking forward to that.

I am settling into the routines that keep me healthy while living in a few rooms for extended periods of time. Standing to work for at least two hours a day, up and about for five minutes, every thirty minutes. I am feeling better already.

Today, my mind wandered into the world of spring gardens. Where we live in the country it is way too soon to begin concrete preparations. But I can think about it! Would it not be wonderful if some long-time residents in this area, who have grown their own domestic vegetable gardens for decades, had a mentoring program, which I could join and then be guided through the processes necessary to successfully grow food in such an agriculturally hostile environment. I have searched far and wide on the internet and found no such opportunity, or anything close to it.

I am better off piecing together bits of information to suit me, rather than attending meetings and sessions that offer general information. I have tried many times before to attend an information session, and they have always focused on what they want to tell me, and rarely, almost never, gotten around to filling me in on what I want to know.

There are scads of nurseries here, but they focus on ornamental landscaping the fantasy “islands” of the affluent summer population, as perhaps they must to survive economically. The “poor woman’s” food garden isn’t something they take any interest in, as far as I can tell. Too bad, there are a lot of struggling people and families in this area, who have property and would benefit from a program focused on developing ways to grow some of their own food. Know how is mainly what is missing I think.

Of course, at the moment, we own a wonderful piece of property at our little house in the city, which is well suited to a garden. But gardens need tending, and we do not live there, so the idea of a large garden there, under current circumstances, is not practical.

Terra is planning on planting a large garden this spring. I will have to ask her if she has started her planning yet. Thinking about spring gardens is cheery business on an arctic February day!

We are completely out of bread. I should bake bread, really I should. Attila has hinted. And what do I do? Well, yesterday I decided to use heritage food that I found in the cupboard. I think I have substituted contrariness for cabin fever. This is to Attila’s benefit, as well as mine, even if it leaves us breadless for a few days.

There were two partial boxes of All Bran cereal, and some aging marshmallows that were meant for campfires with the Grandbabies. These items need to be moved around constantly in the cupboard, to access the food we are eating on a more regular basis. I searched high and low, and finally found a simple recipe for Bran Marshmallow Treats that uses both of these ingredients. As a bonus, the recipe calls for half a cup of butter, and I had some butter that needed to be consumed before expiry. The squares were really good, crunchy and full of bran. I at a few small pieces over the course of the day yesterday, and had a larger piece after dinner. Attila loves the squares, I am leaving the rest to him.

The down side of eating the kind of sugar provided by marshmallows, as opposed to that found in something like a fresh orange, is that hours later I begin to experience a mood fall. This is totally unacceptable in the winter, because I need every last molecule of good cheer I can muster to survive the isolation and challenges of the winter season in the bush. I discovered as well, that there is a down side to consuming too much bran, and perhaps too much butter. My digestive system protested for hours after I retired for the night, necessitating that I rise and preoccupy myself with projects until I could fall into an exhausted sleep.

I am not sure if this is more severe now than in my younger years. It could be that during my younger years I always had some tangible misery to contend with, and attributed any emotional distress to circumstances. Goodness knows I had an abundance of emotionally distressing challenges to deal with in those days. The sugar/fat combination may have made the whole experience much worse, although I think after life reaches a certain level of misery one fails to perceive “worse”, it is just all bad. Fortunately, these days, I lead a life of manageable challenges, surrounded by people who either love or respect me, and I have become very aware of my body’s responses to stimuli.

All that is a long way of saying, no more Bran Marshmallow Treats for me! Enjoy them Attila!

Lately I have been luxuriating in the long preparation and leisurely consumption of breakfast. I heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in the cast iron frying pan, over a low heat. I slice three or four large button mushrooms, then add them to the heated oil. When the mushrooms are cooked, I add a chopped onion, and cook that until there are caramelized bits of onion in the pan. Then I add a half cup of cooked basmati rice, turn the heat off, put a lid on the pan, and leave it for about ten minutes. After dishing it into a serving bowl, I add 1/2 teaspoon of roasted garlic and peppers, by Club House, stir and enjoy. The preparation times is about 45 minutes, as I cook everything over a very low heat. This makes a wonderful breakfast, and includes no added sugar.

I have been looking for savoury recipes for oatmeal, and have found nothing simple as yet. I prefer to eat complex carbohydrates as the basic food in all my meals, and I love oatmeal. For now, I am eating a bowel of oatmeal [bowl of oatmeal really, but this is a Freudian slip too good to cover up with an edit], cooked with whole flax seed and raisins, with 1% milk and a sprinkling of granulated sugar. It would be nice to have more options with oatmeal though, so I will continue the search for savoury oatmeal recipes.

But I really should be thinking about baking bread!

How I have gone on!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-25°C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Thursday 6 February 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -24.8°C
Dewpoint: -27.3°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: calm

Quote

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”
George Eliot
1819 – 1880

[The temptation presented by social media has reduced the number of people qualified for this blessing, I am sure.]

Midwinter

Attila is busy with snow removal in the driveway this morning. He has a bit of job to do before he can leave for work. I am working for a few hours every day this week, so I need to get my car out of the driveway as well. Although it is warmer this morning, the wind chill is significant, -28C. I will need to bundle up for my short drive in to work! Attila will have a challenging day working outside today.

I met a young woman today who has been living without a central heating system for weeks. She lives in a workshop, which was very well heated by an outdoor wood furnace. The pipes burst. She is switching to a propane furnace, and has been waiting for the fuel supply to be delivered. In the meantime she has been using one small wood stove for heat, and spends her time indoors close beside it! She is a cheerful soul!

It was warm enough in the house this morning to risk a shower, so I took advantage of the good interior conditions to do so. I have to make sure my hair is dry before I leave for work though, because with wind chill reading -28C, a wet head is a disaster.

I must consciously turn my focus to our Sunday celebration of Midwinter. We will remove the Christmas decorations from the tree, and build a bonfire with it, to celebrate the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. We have decided on homemade pizza for the celebration, provided we have hydro. If we do not, then I am thinking that grilled cheese sandwiches over the bonfire might work out well. With the Christmas decorations stored away, the living area will seem stark, so we will spend time moving things around and attempting to add cheer to the second half of the winter weather season.

The down side of a birthday cake is that one feels compelled to eat all of it. It will not sit quietly in the kitchen, it certainly doesn’t know its place. It calls my name, insistently. Attila and I retaliated today, with aggression. That cake is gone, consumed, never to intrude on our peace of mind again!

We are enjoying leftover turkey for our dinners this week, which is not only delicious, it is quick!

Attila, after working out of doors all day and toting wood for three firings after arriving home from work, finally found spare time to shovel out the driveway, which was deep in snow, and deeper still where the plough this morning created a small mountain at the end of the driveway. He made short work of it and by 10:30 p.m. the drive was in good order. But, he said when he came in, it is snowing heavily again, so there will be more shovelling required tomorrow morning.

Many people around here ascribe to a hearty “winter doesn’t bother me” attitude. This year, for the first time since we have lived here, a significant number of the local “hearty souls” are looking and sounding bedraggled, some so much so that they now boldly state that they hate winter!

Only two more months! I hope.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

WIND CHILL WARNING IN EFFECT
SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-19°C
Date: 10:00 PM EST Monday 27 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -19.4°C
Dewpoint: -21.6°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SSW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

Quote

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela
1918-2013