Christmas Eve Day

No snow yet! But the weather people say it is coming.

It is Christmas Eve. Attila is preparing our turkey dinner as I write. We decided that we would have our feast this evening, so that neither one of us need cook tomorrow. Leftovers are so very good, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and another turkey dinner for us on Christmas Day, so very good the next day!

It is oh so difficult to eat sensibly at this time of year, so many delicious traditional foods to savour. I have a weakness for candy, chocolate in particular, so I added an extra tablespoon of chocolate chips to my muffins yesterday, just as a treat.

The gifts are wrapped. It is altogether too much fun wrapping gifts for Grandchildren when they are wee! All of our Grandchildren still believe in Santa Clause, although Imp and Elf have their suspicions! In theory, we will see the Grandbabies, Luna and Terra’s children, not Emmi’s, at Terra’s house on Wednesday. We look forward to that get together! Terra works tomorrow, Christmas Day, then she is off work for the rest of the week, so I think she will have a chance to rest before the rest of us descend upon them.

Wishing everyone who joins me here a peaceful Christmas Eve, however you are spending it.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre
Not a creature was stirring, except the meteorologists.
As all eyes were transfixed on jolly Old St. Nick, his herd of furry friends, and an approaching snow storm just in time for Christmas.
Total snowfall amounts of 5 to 15 cm are likely across much of Southern Ontario.”

-5°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Sunday 24 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -5.3°C
Dew point: -9.8°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: ENE 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -11
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

And More Snow!

It snowed all day today, oodles and oodles and oodles of snow. There was freezing rain mixed with the snow this morning. Attila did the last of his Christmas shopping this morning, without me, and he said that at every stop, when he returned to the parked car, he had to chip the ice off the windshield and windows. By noon the freezing rain had ceased to fall, it began to snow heavily, which continued until darkness fell.

I did my Christmas baking today, muffins for me, and mincemeat squares for Attila. We decided to have our big turkey dinner on Christmas Eve, so the oven will be busy most of the day tomorrow. Listening to Christmas Carols playing in the background, and gazing out the window from time to time at the beautiful falling snow, I enjoyed baking today.

Attila and I went out to shovel snow after supper, in the dark. The air was cold and crisp, the snow had stopped coming down. I tackled the area near the door into the house, while Attila took care of the large snow bank across the end of the driveway, left by the snow plow this morning. In less than half an hour we had cleared the driveway, and the path the front entrance of the house.

It was a quiet day here at Mist Cottage. When it snows outdoor sounds are muted. I did little things like pay bills, process paper work, and bake. Attila shopped, and ate, and ate, and ate. He is eating right now, his second supper. I have no idea why I weigh a bit more than he does, when he eats five times as much as I do, every day, it doesn’t seem fair to me. Such is life.

I am pretty sure my daughters do not read this online journal. So I am going to take a chance and post a picture of the booties and hats I made for Terra’s twins, Sunny and Sky. The fit is a guess, but if anything these will be too big for the babies.

Hat booties multi DSCF1671 Sunny’s foot blankets and hat.

Hat booties blue DSCF1661 Sky’s foot blankets and hat.

Weather

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT… 5-10 cm snow!
-4°C
Date: 9:00 PM EST Saturday 23 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -4.2°C
Dew point: -6.0°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: WSW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Please write again soon. Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment.”
Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

Snow Storm!

Well! We are having a white Christmas this year!

It was storming when Attila left for work, predawn, on this first day of winter. Here is it noon, and a thick veil of snow continues to fall from the sky. The cold will keep this snow close for the season holiday.

I ventured out briefly this morning. The newspaper had been delivered as usual, thrown onto the driveway from a moving vehicle. It was fast disappearing as the snow accumulated. So I bundled up, and out I went, shovel in hand. Clearing a path before me to the end of the drive, where the newspaper was snatched up and shaken vigorously to remove the snow. The snow plow will go by later today, but before Attila arrives home. It will leave a huge snow bank across the end of the driveway, blocking Attila’s access. Between the arrival of the snow plow, and the arrival of Attila, I will be out there again with my shovel!

On these snowy days I don’t need to work out on my elliptical machine.

Writing on Facebook is ephemeral. Every so often I delete everything in my timeline, a big job. In contrast, this online journal is on my own server, and will exist archived on CDs and hard drives, which may or may not survive. If they do survive, and if I have any descendants, what I write might be read at some distant time in the future. If not, what does it matter. The universe hears me, my words, my small, almost invisible contributions, become a part of the collective consciousness, in one way or another. There is so much of the way of things that are not seen, not perceived, not understood. Human ignorance does not dictate reality, it exists without us, and our short lives swirl in the chaos and patterns that are formed.

This morning I have written a few things on Facebook that I might like to revisit, so I am recording them here for myself. My relationship with the written word is intense. In my reality the words I write create a bond with the universe, what I write matters. It matters not to a particular person, or cause. It matters to the universe, just as every grain of sand on the beach is a part of the beach, its movement involved in some greater process beyond its understanding. In writing I hitch my wagon to chaos, time, and the value of existence.

So dear diary, here are a few of the things I’ve been writing about this morning. Some additional sentences are included.

An article by David Grossman fascinated me this morning, as it articulated some of the reasons I write an online journal.

This was my comment on the article:
“An inspiring lecture. My favourite passages are:
library: “…a place whose essence is the story of the individual, unique human being, and “the world” as a brutal, belligerent, identity-erasing reality.”

“When Donald Trump speaks—or Tweets—I feel subjected to the harmful radiation of an uninhibited cynic who is fully aware of his mission: to turn human beings not only into a mass, but into a mob.”

“Anyone who has spent their life writing stories knows: underneath each human tale, another one lies hidden. Sometimes it contradicts the visible layer, while at other times it completes and enriches it. This is true of individual stories, and national stories. We all know people who, over the years, have become trapped inside their own private narrative—their “official” story.”

And here is the core of my interest in this article:

“You could say that I “massage” it back into a story about human beings.”

“every time a whole, multi-layered character enters our lives, we rediscover how every one of us contains so many possibilities of existence, most of which we cannot even describe, yet they exist inside us as silent longings, and sometimes burdens, soul-shadows, until we encounter a book that animates them and gives them a name.”

I think that the larger picture has become so manipulated and corrupted that the human level ceases to predominate.
The despair I see around me lives there, in the larger picture.
This is why I write a personal journal, and deal only with the personal, which exists in the context of the heartless, hopeless “larger picture”. As my bio says,
“That is what others thought of me. Here you will find what I think of myself.”
A different approach than David Grossman’s, touching few lives by comparison, but the lives that do connect with mine in this way are so very valuable.”

***********************************************

Toronto 1968 1968: “Winter made a comeback in Toronto yesterday with a 12-inch snowfall, and motorists and pedestrians slogged their way homeward along slush-clogged Bay St., arriving late, cold and damp at homes darkened by a power failure.” Photo by Bob Olsen. – Courtesy of Toronto Public Library & the Toronto Star Archives.

This was taken the year before I arrived in downtown Toronto to attend Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. Having lived on a tender fruit farm my whole life, Toronto was overwhelming. With little money, I rented a couch to sleep on in someone’s living room, in an apartment in St. James Town. The accommodation was found by calling a telephone number torn from the bottom of an ad on a bulletin board at Ryerson. Marsha, who rented me her couch, was a model, whose husband was studying architecture in Portland, Oregon, I only met him once when he was home for a few days.
I bought a 10 lb. bag of dry rice, a bottle of olive oil, stole ketchup and mustard from the cafeteria at Ryerson, for flavouring, drank only water, and survived. I knew no one.
Toronto was magic to me from the very first day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-11°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Friday 22 December 2017
Condition: Light Snow – not true it is snowing heavily.
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -10.7°C
Dew point: -13.0°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: NE 25 gust 35 km/h
Wind Chill: -20
Visibility: 1 km

Quote

“Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”
Abraham Lincoln
1809 – 1865

To save anyone else the trouble, I describe how I see myself, myself, here. Works for me. I love reading diaries, journals, blogs or whatever people call what they write about their own lives.

An Amble Scramble Day

6:00 a.m.

The roads are bad today. Attila called me when he arrived at work to warn me about it, and to offer advice on which roads to take to my appointment this morning. This is the worst part about winter, travel on bad roads. Tank and I will be fine, universe willing, but it will be a white knuckle commute to the appointment.

We are settling in to our winter routines, and at the same time breaking some of them from time to time. Last night we ventured out to a live music performance, and really enjoyed it. The down side is that Attila has a late night, and 5 a.m. comes very early for him the next morning. It does for me too, and usually this is of no consequence, since I am home and could nap if I needed to. Today, of course, is an exception, because I have to drive to an appointment. Luckily this takes place in the morning, my best time of day, so I will be alert and functioning at my best for the drive.

A thought occurred to me early this morning, as I was pondering life, the universe, and everything… which could be described as thinking about nothing. This morning I was thinking about the stars, and I wondered where my energy would find a home if the monsters controlling human “progress” return the earth to an inert state. I thought about life travelling. Then I wondered about spores, those dreadful, wonderful little entities that represent life, and death. I wondered if they survived a vacuum. I wondered if my energy would be contained in an interstellar travelling spore, landing somewhere out there in the unfathomable future. That is when I came across the theory of panspermia.

Panspermia is a new concept in my little world, and has opened up several lines of thought. I love having something wondrous to hitch my obsessions to.

2:00 p.m.

I have returned from my appointment. A 60 km round trip, it began on a less travelled road, which was icy in spots, but presented no real problems at the posted speed limit. The roads were completely clear by the time I left the appointment for my journey home.

The lived experience of our two different heat sources is quite marked. Our oil furnace outputs frequent, short blasts of hot dry air. When the oil furnace is doing its magic, the air is much warmer, and the humidity in the house decreases at an astonishing rate. I often feel overly warm when the furnace is pushing air around, and comfortable between firings.

Our air source heat pump outputs an extended flow of much cooler air, at the same temperature to which the thermostat is set. This air is not nearly as dry as the air heated by the flame of the oil furnace. At times, when this room temperature air is circulating, I feel a bit chilled by the “breeze”.

Today the weather is mild, and the air source heat pump is heating the house. I am now happily snuggled under my crocheted blanket, warm as toast, as the cool breezes flow around the house.

Lares installed the air source heat pump for us, and configured the system to work with the oil furnace. It has just occurred to me to ask him if the thermostat can be configured to decrease the temperature when the oil furnace is heating the house, and increase it when the air source heat pump is heating the house. That would be very handy!

I have taken a temporary break in the search for a suitable counsellor for Attila and I. There was no room at the inn, so to speak, when I called every acceptable-to-me counsellor within driving distance. I will try again in the new year, calling the same people and inquiring about a waiting list. In the meantime we continue to communicate with some intensity from time to time, with long breaks of relative harmony in between. This seems a good holding pattern until we can find someone suitable.

The lack of access to health care has been a real problem since we moved to Mist Cottage. The emergency department at the hospital continues to be overcrowded, with extremely long wait times for non-emergency issues, eight hours on my last visit, as it is used by many as an inadequate substitute for a family doctor or nurse practitioner. One cannot get regular prescriptions from the hospital, leaving seniors and others with chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure, scrambling to find a means to get the needed medications. People don’t notice the problem until they are an unwilling part of it.

Yesterday my Mom arrived in Florida, and settled into her winter home. She sent me a photo of her apartment, it is compact and walking distance to the ocean beach. Her first day there and she was already walking on the beach, and dipping her feet in the ocean.

I try to do a non-daily task every day. Yesterday it was baking muffins. Today it was washing a load of laundry and hanging it on racks, set up in the kitchen, to dry. Tomorrow, who knows.

Last night Attila and I travelled 80 km round trip to the city to listen to live music. It is what I enjoy most, particularly in small venues. We both enjoyed ourselves very much. Attila is stretched a bit to do this during the week, when the music we wanted to hear was on offer, as he had to get up this morning at 5 a.m. to go to work. Our compromise was that we left, far earlier than either of us would have like to, so that we arrived home and were tucked up in bed before midnight. A couple of real Cinderellas.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Wednesday 20 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -0.7°C
Dew point: -9.2°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: WNW 18 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.”
John Maynard Keynes
1883 – 1946

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

I just delighted myself by reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas aloud to myself. Many decades too late to delight my Granny, and my Mother, who read us poetry every night as bedtime stories.

When I was four my Granny and Mother helped me memorize this poem, to recite at a school Christmas Concert, at the one room school house that my Mother had attended as a child.

I was a shy child, very unused to the company of people other than my parents, grandparents, and siblings. The thought of standing up and reciting in front of an audience, most of whom were unknown to me, was terrifying.

I memorized most of the poem, and then balked, and insisted I could not remember the lines, deliberately making mistakes. I did not perform that poem at the Christmas Concert, nor any other poem. I think my Granny and Mother were disappointed.

The Christmas Concert was a magical event, with every child who attended school there performing some little thing, a poem, a song, and the audience sang along as the students all stood on the “stage” and sang Christmas Carols. Every child received a small gift, including me. It was the highlight of all social events in my life, so wonderful that someone once said of it, “heaven couldn’t be any better than this.” I measure all social activity by this experience, and have been lucky enough to experience similarly magical occasions… Mary’s Christmas open house… Fat Albert’s open stage… an evening with Michael Smith and musical friends at a small intimate cafe… my social life has had its sweet moments in time.

Yesterday we received a message from Terra, asking us if we could come and take care of Sunny and Sky for a few hours. Terra is working shift work, and Lares is on call on the weekends. Lares was on a call and couldn’t leave to come home in time for Terra to leave for work. Their regular babysitter could not take the babies, so Terra messaged us and asked if we were busy. Happily our plans for the day were flexible, so it was an immediate “we will be there” response.

We arrived well before Terra had to leave for work, so Sunny and Sky had lots of time to adjust to our presence before their Mom left. We had a wonderful time playing with them, for about three hours. They are very active little people, curious, good natured, and very rambunctious. The three hours flew by and before we knew it Lares was home. Their faces lit up when Lares came into the room. He had another job to go to, and was taking them with him. He bundled them up, and off we all went, they to the job site (a house with children to play with), us to the grocery store before it closed. I was surprised at how tired I was when we got home!

My Mom left for Florida early Sunday morning. I sure hope I inherited her genes, 86 and nothing slows her down for long. She arrived at her first stop along the way Sunday night, texted my sisters, and later messaged me. She will stop along the way again, for another night tonight, before she reaches her destination in Florida tomorrow. Mom has the same incredible independence, and force of character, that my Grandpa enjoyed.

And so another quiet day begins here at Mist Cottage. Christmas approaches and my shopping is done, what little of it there was. This year we have six Grandbabies. God willing, next year we will have seven Grandbabies. Our budget for gift giving is very limited, so we have opted for one Dollar Store toy for each child, candy, and a high quality book for each child. It was fun to search for just the right book for each child, attempting to match the reading material with the particular interests of each individual. Hopefully the exercise was successful!

My projects for the day have been crocheting, and making a large soup pot full of Vegetable Beef Soup, a on-the-fly variation of my Vegetable Soup recipe. My soups are “stone soup” affairs. I begin with either caramelized onions, or braised ground beef if I am getting extravagant, and build from there. Today’s soup has a bag of frozen Italian Vegetables, and a few cups of our pureed Hubbard Squash added to it. We will eat if for our dinner tonight, and then I will enjoy it for quick lunches for the rest of the week. Attila spent time on the weekend preparing his Pea Soup, a favourite of his.

Twice neighbours have arrived at our mailbox to deliver Christmas Cards. We will be delivering our cards to them very soon!

It has been snowing all day. The snow plow just rumbled past. I have about 40 minutes, to get myself bundled up and out there with my shovel, before Attila arrives home. I hope that snow bank isn’t too high! Mom, aren’t you glad your in the south!!!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 18 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -10.2°C
Dew point: -14.0°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: NE 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -17
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I don’t own a cell phone or a pager. I just hang around everyone I know, all the time. If someone wants to get a hold of me, they just say ‘Mitch,’ and I say ‘what?’ and turn my head slightly.”
Mitch Hedberg
1968 – 2005

Memories!