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 the gradations of gray in the sky, listen to the ticking of the clock, and feel gratitude for what I have.

Well, enough of all this reverie! The day is at hand.

During the winter months, life follows a slower rhythm. The kitchen, the center of all food preservation projects, is largely retired from that duty. Baking and meal preparation are allowed exclusive use of the facility. Foods that were canned, dehydrated, fermented, and frozen for future use, are now fulfilling their purpose, and where once supplies accumulated, they are now being slowly diminished.

I have become accustomed to the new congestion of neighbours due to the influx of residents in the rental development. The construction has ceased for the winter month. The heavy equipment, truck loads of materials such as gravel, and the resounding sounds of workers and their music have ceased for the season.

We continue to enjoy very good health here at Mist Cottage, with much gratitude. We live in peaceful and respectful coexistence. The world around us, according to the pundits of communication, is going to hell in a hand basket… it seems we are now living in the dreaded “interesting times””. But all around us, what I see is ordinary people, leading ordinary lives, going about their daily business; and I am grateful for that.

Today I am writing in a text editor, than directly into my blog entry. I notice that the two software writing venues feel quite different from each other. The text editor feels calmer, more private, more confidential, more intimate. In part I think that is because I am not writing to a remote location, a hard drive hundreds and hundreds of miles away. The words written via either venue will eventually be posted on this blog, into the wild digital jungle, their destinations are one and the same, but their origins are subtlety different.

Today’s activities will include preparing salad dressing for myself. There is too much sodium and sugar in commercial salad dressings, and too many chemicals. Presently I am preparing my salad dressing using 1/4 cup of liquid from my own canned Cowboy Candy, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chopped jalapeño peppers from the Cowboy Candy, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of onion flakes, and teaspoon of granulated garlic.

Pizza is the favoured Friday-Night-At-Last celebration dinner. The 100% dough is made in the bread machine, the pizza is baked in the oven. Usually I prepare the dough, and when it is ready on the pizza pan, Attila takes over, adds the toppings, and pops it into the oven. It is a “low sodium” pizza, meaning that my half has trimmed the sodium as much as possible, while retaining some semblance of an actual pizza. In reality, the portion I eat at a meal contains almost my daily quote of sodium, so it isn’t really a slow sodium dish. On days when pizza is being prepared in the kitchen, breakfast, lunch, and snacks are all calculated to contain almost no sodium. For instance, lunch today will consist of homemade vegetable beef soup, to which no salt has been added, and no ingredients containing sodium have been added. Occasionally I take this approach, saving up my allotted mg of sodium for a special meal that is higher in sodium, but still keeps me under my daily limit.

Some of the ingredients for my homemade Vegetable Beef Soup.
Bowls: spices and herbs; 1/3 lb of ground beef; frozen homemade vegetable broth
Other: 2 cups filtered water; frozen garden beans; carrots; onions; celery; potatoes;, garlic; garden canned tomatoes; olive oil.
Of course, this was cooked in the Instant Pot!
Note: The jar of canned tomatoes is the last one canned from our garden tomatoes in the summer of 2018. That summer Attila grew black tomatoes, so the colour of the soup made with them was rather unexpected and interesting.

Our Christmas Tree still adorns the living room, it is a source of constant cheer. It receives water every day, very few needles have fallen, and there are small buds at the end of many of the branches. It is making itself at home in the living room. The real tree is usually left up until the end of January, but this year I am considering leaving it to enjoy our company until the end of February, perhaps even until the first day of spring.

Attila continues to pluck away at the basement insulation project. During the recent cold snap, the project was put on hold, as opening and closing the door to the unheated garage cooled the interior of the building, so activity was minimized. At the moment he is painting the drywall that has been installed over the last week.

The insulation project has been very worthwhile. The temperature in the basement continues to remain around 12C (54F), which is almost 7C degrees warmer than it was last winter. This significant improvement translates into warmer floors on the main floor of the house, more comfort when performing tasks in the basement, and lower heating bills. It has also reduced the humidity in the basement, and the amount of dust in the house.

Ah, the sun just peaked out from behind the clouds, and the sunbeam is reminding me to eat a late breakfast! Off I go then, to rummage around in the kitchen, looking for something low-sodium to enjoy.



Date: 10:00 AM EST Friday 24 January 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -0.6°C
Dew point: -7.1°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: NE 18 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 24 km


“Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.”
Sydney Smith
1771 – 1845

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Steve-Paul (SP) Simms

Who is the reader on Sense and Sensibility, Maggie?


I’ve always avoided audio books. Unfortunately, I have times when my mind wanders even when reading a print book and I have to read a paragraph 3 or 4 times before it sinks in, so I can just image losing several pages listening to an audio book.

I envy you your real tree.