Currently I am listening to an audio book, Sense and Sensibility, written by Jane Austen. This activity is bringing me much enjoyment. I have read the story at least twice in the past, and watched it performed in films. Listening to the story read aloud though, has highlighted aspects of the novel that strike me anew. Austen’s use of irony seems more pervasive in the spoken word, as it highlights the displeasure of unpleasing company and conversation. For instance, at present my favourite bit of prose from the novel is: “pleased to be free herself from the persecution of Lucy’s friendship” Austen, Jane, Sense and Sensibility, page 268 How nuanced and layered are the feelings and situations represented in that simple phrase, “persecution of friendship”. How often over the years have I been thrust together with someone feigning friendship, while expressing confidences that belied the conviction. Even in Austen’s world, sincerity, kindness, and integrity are qualities that deserve merit. The necessity of networking in the professional world mirrors the rigours of social conduct in Austen’s portrayal of upper class social circles. Occasionally, while listening to the story, I pause, to watch a Bluejay in the tree outside the window, observe … Continue reading

Whistle While You Work

It seems we are just getting started with the really cold weather. The prediction for tonight’s overnight low is -20C, with a windchill of -24C. When we lived at the Country House, we would not have considered this extremely cold, it had to dip to -30C or colder for that. But here at Mist Cottage -20C is very cold indeed. The colder weather means that our heating has switched to the oil furnace, which is a very dry heat. The humidity in the house is dropping steadily, and measures are being taken in an attempt to keep it above 30% relative humidity. Clean wet laundry is being washed in small loads, and hung on racks in the living room, which helps. Trays of water are placed in front of each heating vent; they empty quickly. Bath water is left in the tub for a day, to maximize evaporation. On Saturday, into Sunday, we received a lot of snow. Nothing like the amount that our Atlantic provinces have just experienced, where Newfoundland declared a state of emergency, but a lot of snow relative to this area. Attila got it all shoveled into banks. By late Sunday morning I was feeling sufficiently … Continue reading

Winter Routines

I am having a quiet, restful day today. The sky is gray and overcast, as it almost always is these days, so I have the lamp lit beside my chair, to add a bit of cheer. My crochet project is waiting for my fingers to cease tapping here, to resume the rhythm of the yarn. The tidied kitchen sits at the ready for the next frenzy of activity, which I will call lunch. The computer is playing peaceful piano music, a bit sombre really for a gray day, but calming. Wistful thoughts touch me occasionally, hoping that those who are experiencing difficult times will find comfort and peace. So far this winter we have only experienced two short bouts of frigid weather, enjoying relatively mild weather for the most part. Tomorrow night though, another cold snap is predicted, with the night time low of -15C, and even colder nights to come. This will put the unheated basement insulation to the test! So far the basement temperature is holding at 12C (54F), but the weather has been mostly mild. We were living in a house for a few months that only reached a high of 5C (41F), before the chimneys for … Continue reading

Forest Floor Muffins

The ice storm arrived here after midnight, so we awoke to a sparkling world. The sparkle was brief though, because very soon the snow began to fall, making everything white, and surprisingly, not all that slippery. We did not lose power at any point. Today was another gray day. Having baked bread last weekend, there was no need to do it again this weekend. Actually, there were no plans to bake today. But mid-afternoon I was looking for a snack and couldn’t settle on anything. So I made muffins, a go-to recipe. I don’t read the recipe anymore, I just use this recipe’s base ingredients, and then mix and match the rest of the ingredients. The base ingredients are divided into two categories, dry and wet. Extras are usually added to the basic dry ingredients, but also sometimes to the wet. The dry ingredients in my base recipes are: 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup of quick cooking oats 2 teaspoons of baking powder (aluminum free) 4 tablespoons of brown sugar The wet ingredients, in a two cup measuring up are: 1 egg 2 tablespoons oil 1 teaspoon of vanilla liquid to make ABOUT 1 1/2 to 2 cups … Continue reading

Settling Dust

After the flurry of holiday season, the dust is once more drifting down and settling around life and Mist Cottage. Only seven weeks left until March arrives, with its promise of a new season to come, and the lengthening days. March is my least favourite month, two of the people I adored in life passed in the month of March, so that it hasn’t been the same since 1976. It has been a busy week for me. I was out and about all through the beginning of the week, taking care of shopping and errands. A quick visit to the bulk food store was overdue, to pick up things not reasonably available at the local supermarket, such as buttermilk powder and rubbed marjoram. Garbage tags were running low, time to stock up on those, which entailed a dedicated trip to the municipal offices. I snagged a free 2020 calendar while I was there. A host of little things to get done were on my list, which had lengthened shockingly over the last few months! At home bills were paid, and a slow return to kitchen organization was initiated. The first thing on the kitchen list was repackaging some of the … Continue reading