A Hole In My House

The first day of spring! Spring is memorable this year. This is a memorable year, in so many, many ways.

I received a telephone call yesterday afternoon. There was a cancellation at the company that will do the installation of the new windows, could we go ahead with the installation tomorrow, which is today?

Well, yes!

Last night was spent moving furniture out of the way, and storing items that might be damaged by the dust created by the installation. Of course, the house is so very small, that for each window, “stuff” has to be moved out of the way, to block a different window, which will in turn have to have the stuff cleared away for the installation. In this way, I will be running ahead of the crew for the next few days, moving things out of the way as they approach the next window.

Today dawned sunny and cold! -8C is not warm. The crew has been here for an hour and a half, there is a hole in the corner of the house, where the living room windows have been removed. An interesting little detail, as they removed the windows, is that the insulation around the original windows was a quilt, cut into strips and stuffed into the cavities. As they pulled out these strips, out flew the flies! Aha, that is where the bugs have been hiding out, crawling into the house. Hopefully this window installation will go a long way toward keeping the little critters out.

As I have been writing, the new living room windows have been secured in place, and the sequence of which windows will be done next has been decided by the crew. That means moving lots of stuff out of their way, so I’ve been busy with that. Of course all the curtains have to come down, and all the hardware unscrewed and stored in plastic bags with labels. Yikes, it has just occurred to me that none of the current window dressings will actually work on the new windows! I will need to think carefully about what sort of window treatments would work best.

I am bundled up with a toque, boots, an insulated vest, and I am thinking about where my fingerless gloves got off to. I think the house will be slightly warmer once the living room windows are sealed with insulation, because the sun beats through those windows for most of the day.

I am so excited that this process is in full gear! It has been eight years in the waiting, since we purchased this little house as a wreck of a house. The single pane glass in the windows, along with the faulty and ill fitting storm windows, made for cold spots in the house, in the winter, and hot spots in the summer. Attila had replaced three of the windows with used windows, the kitchen, the dining area, and the back bedroom. The used windows were a huge improvement, but they were not energy efficient windows. The new windows are energy star windows, energy efficient. And they all open!!! Being able to open a window is so wonderful!

It is possible that they will finish most of the main floor today, at least as far as removing the old windows, placing the new windows in place, and sealing them off. The company will also trim the windows, inside and out. What a luxury it is to have a crew of fellows, who do this thing daily, take on the project. Three men, three days, and voila, Mist Cottage will be transformed!

I am taking photographs of the process, and will need to take photographs of the finished windows for the grant program.

No more terrarium!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-8°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Tuesday 20 March 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -7.8°C
Dew point: -15.9°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: NNE 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”
G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936

Contractors

Life just seems to get more and more complicated as time goes by! Or am I just more aware of the complexity now? Who knows!

I have committed resources to replacing the windows in the house, upgrading to energy efficient windows, installed properly. I have also committed resources to upgrading the attic insulation, to R50, it is currently R10. These changes will likely make a dent in the heating and cooling bills, and make the house less drafty. We are giving a pass on the basement insulation, it got too complicated, too many things to move out into a storage locker, and we aren’t quite sure what we will want to do down there once the dust has settled after the garage is functional. Best to wait, we decided. Renovation decisions are still joint decisions, we both have an interest in Mist Cottage.

It is snowing this morning. Luckily I have no “away” activities planned for today, so I won’t be stepping out the door, or behind the wheel. The morning has been busy, confirming contractor contract details, dealing with administrative correspondence, filing, and odd jobs of that nature. Today I am hoping to finally complete the first draft of the web site I have been upgrading, it has been a lot of work, but I think the results are worth the time spent. I will be practising Tai Chi, and spending time on my elliptical machine as well; it seems I have to list these two activities to convince myself that they need to be done!

Right now all the changes in my life are just painful, intimidating, and exhausting, as I continue to cycle through all the stages of grief, in no particular order or duration. I am thinking that eventually all this change will seem a bit exciting. That is in the long term. One foot in front of the other!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
Snowfall of 5 to 15 cm today.
Snow is expected to begin this morning across much of Central and Eastern Ontario. General snowfall amounts of around 5 to 10 cm are likely, however areas close to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River may see as much as 10 to 15 cm. The snow will taper off late in the afternoon or early evening.
This snowfall will likely have a significant impact on the afternoon commute. Motorists are urged to exercise caution.

-8°C
Date: 9:00 AM EST Wednesday 7 February 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -8.0°C
Dew point: -9.6°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: E 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 1 km

Quote

“But pain… seems to me an insufficient reason not to embrace life. Being dead is quite painless. Pain, like time, is going to come on regardless. Question is, what glorious moments can you win from life in addition to the pain?”
Lois McMaster Bujold

Windows

This morning a representative from a window and door company came to do an estimate on the windows in the house. The estimate will be sent to me via email. The windows at Mist Cottage are more than 60 years old, single pane glass, and appallingly cold and difficult to maintain, I can’t even open the front bedroom window, it is so difficult to manage. The living room windows do not open at all. There is a government grant program that will help with the cost of installing new windows, and I am interested in getting this done if we can swing the expense of it. The installation would take place in April. Attila was strongly against looking into it, he balks at almost everything at first, it takes a lot of energy on my part to ride through his reactions to new ideas. Just one of his idiosyncrasies. I went ahead, despite his serious misgivings about the affordability of the project. It is in my best interest to ensure that Mist Cottage is upgraded sooner rather than later, at the least expense, with the least disruption, as a future residence for myself, and possibly Attila, or as a future investment in case I want it sold.

There is also a grant for insulation, so next week I will be getting estimates for that as well.

Attila’s project is to put a new roof on the garage, and to transform it into a workshop and art studio. I will be ensuring that the funds are available for the upgrade when he needs them, and that I do what I can to facilitate the work. The leaking garage is a crucial fix for this property, for living here long term, or for selling it in the shorter term. Either way, the garage needs fixing, and Attila wants to do it, he has a plan, and it seems to be a very good plan.

Tomorrow I go in for my x-ray. I am unclear as to why an x-ray was scheduled, rather than an ultrasound, but I will explore this when I go in to the walk-in clinic to discuss the results of the x-ray. I have the parking figured out for the CT scan later in February, and have my fingers crossed that it is relatively stress free. I must switch vehicles with Attila for the CT scan appointment, the underground parking lot has ceilings that are too low for Tank. Parking in urban areas is the most difficult aspect of these medical appointments.

Today passed peacefully enough, but as evening approached my emotions began to run away with me, this is still happening fairly regularly, but less frequently. Tears are a welcome release, I don’t try to avoid them when they come. I only let the crying last so long though, then I distract myself with a movie, or researching something interesting on the internet, or anything that gives me a little relief. Tonight I made muffins, and watched a movie on Netflix, it seems to have done the trick. I am sleeping a bit better now, around five hours every night, an improvement. Tomorrow is another day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-22°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 31 January 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -22.0°C
Dew point: -24.7°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: ENE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -26
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
1815 – 1902

A Thousand Poets In His Head

Yesterday I completed the University self-study course I was taking. I did manage to 100% on most of the quizzes the first time around, and 100% on the less than perfect three of the quizzes the second time round. I learned a few new things, which is always fun!

When we bought the second hand windows for the little house, we bought two for the country house. For the last five years or so we have been seriously discussing the replacement of the master bedroom windows. We priced them at $500 to $600 per window, which would ring in at between $1000 and $1200 before taxes. Understandably, we haven’t chosen to invest that much money in two new windows that we could manage without. But when we had the opportunity to buy two used windows for the master bedroom at $50 per window, well, we could not pass that up.

So after I finished my course, and ate my lunch, I headed out to the screened in porch to clean one of the two “new” windows. It took a few hours, they are very dirty. Dirt can be cleaned, the important aspect of these windows is that they function well, and will help keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Today I cleaned the second window. They are ready to install, if Attila has time this autumn.

Attila is racing the calendar now, trying to get firewood in from the back of the property before heating season begins. He works toting and splitting and stacking wood every night, for a few hours, as soon as grabs a bite to eat after arriving home from work. We can always purchase more firewood if we have to, but that goes against the grain for Attila. He is determined to fill our woodshed with our own wood.

As Attila was splitting wood in front of the woodshed yesterday evening, our neighbour drove into the drive, he came to offer Attila the use of his wood splitter. He had heard Attila splitting wood and kindly offered to let us use his wood splitter. Attila does not like wood splitters. He would rather use an axe. Since I have only ever used an axe to split wood, I had no opinion on the subject. So Attila thanked him and declined the kind offer. I don’t know, it sounds like it would be easier to use a wood splitter to me, but Attila was firm, having spent a week splitting wood with a splitter at one point, he really did not want to use one ever again.

It was very kind and considerate of our neighbour to make the offer. This is the fellow who ploughed our driveway for us with his riding snow blower, that first winter we lived here, before we even had a proper snow shovel. I have never spoken with this neighbour face-to-face, and in the ten years we have lived here we have only exchanged greetings, a wave in passing, fewer times than I can count on two hands. His wife has never even waved in passing, or spoken to me; once in the last ten years she said hello to Attila when they were both at the Post Office picking up the mail, he said she was friendly enough. There are only three properties on our street that are occupied year round, so this seems cold. Be that as it may, when the chips are down, they are very good neighbours to have.

My lone trip to the little house in the city approaches, it requires careful planning. Things have been added to the list, and gathered together in the living room, ready to pack the car next week. The projects to be undertaken during the visit must be carefully thought out, and all the equipment and supplies needed for each must make the trip with me. Attila hopes to finish the firewood while I am away, I fervently hope he manages it, as I miss his company when he has to get at it, every evening after he comes home from work.

On Wednesday last Attila repaired our little car, and it can now be used for his commute back and forth to work. This is quite a relief! We extended ourselves financially, to install the heat pump at the little house in the city, and it will be quite some time before we catch up. Buying another car at this point would bring hardship. Crisis averted! Bravo Attila!

Our little car is a 1998 model Toyota. We bought it new, in the days when I had a job and could obtain a loan. Over the last 16 years it has required little in the way of repairs, and has run reliably, and inexpensively. It is showing its age now, but we hope to keep it in good mechanical order, and on the road, for another five years or so.

Rummaging around in the cupboard today, I came across an jar of Pear Marmalade that I had canned in 1993. The ring was rusted, so was the lid. No spoilage could be detected though. The contents of the jar, when I washed off the dust, seemed as perfect as the day they had been canned. So I pried the lid off with a loud POP, the seal was still good! That would be 21 years ago that I canned that marmalade, and the seal was still strong and intact. It smelled fine, I gave it a little taste, no deterioration in taste either. Pear Marmalade was an experiment on my part, and as far as I am concerned the recipe is not a keeper! The proof of that, is that I did not keep the recipe! I threw out the Marmalade, not because it had spoiled, but because I do not like it.

Then and there I decided that I will make no more jams or jellies until the very last jar in our possession has been located and consumed. Then I will start again. I should be canning jams and jellies again by next summer.

A few years ago I made Sumac Jelly, and discovered that it is one of my favourites, right up there with Black Currant Jam, and Marmalade. I have a few jars left, which I will enjoy this winter. I also have a few jars of Grape Butter that I made quite a while back, still good though. And of course, the ever popular Strawberry Jam, mine was made with wild strawberries. Attila does not eat jams or jellies, only me. I love a little dollop on toast, or a bagel, or a cracker. It makes a nice little pick me up on a busy day.

Today was another beautiful day! With the windows wide open, all the sounds of nature could be heard. including the sharp, frequent, repetitive clangs, as acorns fell from the tall oak trees that surround us. Those acorns were bouncing high when they hit the deck; I would not want one of them landing on my head! No danger of that inside the house though.

Now, how is this for silly! At lunchtime I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, so I sat down at the computer to look for a recipe, and three and a half hours later I remembered, that I forgot to eat lunch! Life is good.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Friday 26 September 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.0°C
Dewpoint: 13.3°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Humidex: 25

Quote

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
1893 – 1957

Not always true, in my opinion. My dear friend Paul had a photographic memory. When in a state of high emotion, the first words that connected for him were appropriate quotations. It was a knee-jerk reaction, his memory was of such monumental proportions that it overwhelmed him. He had a lot of original thoughts, was a well published writer in his own right. When emotions were high his personal expressions were drowned out, the thousand poets in his head fought for, and won, his voice.

At Last!

Sunday, September 7 2014

My mood deteriorated throughout yesterday evening, and when I woke up in the morning I could not for the life of me find the right side of the bed. Attila stayed up until 2:00 a.m. finishing the interior of the windows. He woke me up when he came to bed, and I had trouble falling back to sleep. Then he got up at 4:30 a.m. and woke me up again! Enough!!!

I scowled and stamped my feet into the bathroom after I arose, then went out to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. Attila was passed out, and arose several hours later. There was still one last job to complete before the interior finish on the windows would be actually finished. And it was a messy job! The window sill needed to be trimmed, sanded, and painted. In no uncertain terms did I let Attila know that I wanted my kitchen back!!!! Now!!!!

Shame on me for being so prickly! I seldom loose my cool in this way, but occasionally, every few years I have a mini-meltdown when something leaves me feeling totally helpless, and and I can find no distraction powerful enough to alleviate the stress. Attila laughs at me for thinking I am so fierce! He says that this mood of mine is “nothing” by comparison to those which he observed before he met me. Still, I really do not like having my knickers in a twist.

So we had a lovely breakfast of pancakes and peaches, after which Attila got right to work on the window sill. The job was loud and long, but finally, it was done!

dining room windows completed with metal top kitchen table by window

TADA! The new dining room windows, and the kitchen table, all in order and ship shape!

And my foul mood instantly evaporated! I literally danced around the kitchen, vacuuming the sawdust and drywall dust, washing the floor, washing all of the counters, and finally washing the dirty dishes! Then I rescued the kitchen table from the living room and put it back where it belonged. The bathroom renovation was intrusive, but I have discovered that I can tolerate just about any renovation project, except in my kitchen!

As soon as I had put the kitchen to rights, I started a food preservation project. Terra and Lares brought us an abundance of vegetables from their garden, as they had far more than they needed. We received kale, beets, beet greens, and three huge bunches of celery. The celery was deteriorating most quickly, so that was what I started with. After some consideration, I decided to process the celery in two ways. The first was to dry the leaves for flavouring, and the second was to chop, blanch, and flash freeze the stalks. Both powdered leaves and the chopped frozen stalks would be welcome additions to stews and soups.

It took all afternoon to process two of the stalks of celery! I prepared the first stalk standing at the kitchen sink, and before I knew it my knee was aching and my back was giving me grief. The next stalk of celery was prepared while sitting at the table. I removed the leaves, culling the yellowed, damaged or wilting leaves for the compost. Then I used the salad spinner to wash the leaves, spread them thinly on cookie sheets, dry them in the oven at 200F for 45 minutes, crush the dried leaves, and store them in an airtight jar. I washed the stalks, cut away any iffy portions, chopped them into 1/2 inch pieces, and blanched them in boiling water for five minutes. Then I drained the celery pieces, spread them in a baking pan and flash froze them in the freezer for about an hour. They separated nicely, and the yield was about two quarts.

celery leaves in salad spinner and dried on pizza pan

After removing the celery leaves from the stalks, they were washed in a salad spinner, then spread on pizza pans and cookie sheets, placed in a 200F oven for about 45 minutes, turning twice after 15 minutes.

celery stalk pieces in the blanching pot

Blanching the celery stalks was quick and easy, and the results were good. Terra’s home grown celery has a lot of “body”, and needed to be softened a bit. The blanching served three purposes, softening the celery, moderating the taste, and killing enzymes.

While I was busy with all this, Attila was staining the front porch, which he had finished building last October. We are pleased with it, and it should keep the neighbours happy. We try to do some sort of improvement to the front of the house every year, just so that the neighbours know we are still making improvements, and have not abandoned the place.

Attila seized the day, and the fine weather, to finish the front stairs.  The front stairs, freshly painted and stained, drying before the second coat was applied.

Attila seized the day, or the fine weather, to finish the front stairs. The front stairs, freshly painted and stained, drying before the second coat was applied.

Terra visited us again today, during her lunch break at work. What a treat it has been, to see her every day! Lares had the day off, and was working hard at home. He is installing siding on the last side of the house. He has sided the entire house almost all by himself, and has done a very professional job of it. Their house looks wonderful!

The weather was cooler today, and less humid.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Again, didn’t manage to record the weather! Still summer like though, just not heat wave summer like anymore.

Quote

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)