The Very Long Wait

Last fall I began a bit of a journey, and I have been waiting for its conclusion.

I had two health issues (well three, but this entry is about two of them). One was my upcoming colonoscopy. The second was a largish lump on the inside of my mouth, which did not heal or go away.

The colonoscopy is troubling for me on five levels. In order of severity they are: dealing with the hospital staff re: anaphylaxis; the procedure itself, which is very unpleasant; the preparation, which is horrendous for me, I don’t tolerate the purge chemicals well; the fear of human error resulting in my death, due to my anaphylaxis; and last but certainly not least, the fear that cancer will be found, and many more colonoscopies will populate my last years on earth.

About four weeks before a colonoscopy, my stress levels begin to increase. The colonoscopy was booked for early December.

The result of the colonoscopy was a polyp, which was removed and biopsied. The surgeon left the country just after the procedure, so my wait to hear the results dragged on until the middle of January. The results were benign, but the surgeon wasn’t satisfied with the thoroughness of the procedure, and I was then booked for a further test, a colonography. That is when my blood pressure really started to rise. That procedure was done, with the horrendous preparation again, in early January. The results were that there was no problem.

Now ordinarily I would have felt considerable relief! But, the other health issue was also in play. I had seen an ENT specialist, early in the fall, about the growth in my mouth, and he recommended it be removed. When I went to that appointment, he wasn’t prepared for my anaphylaxis, and could not perform the procedure. He left it that he would research a safe anesthetic, and call me to schedule the procedure again. I did not hear from his office. I called every few weeks to see what was going on, they kept saying they would call me… they did not.

I finally had an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner, and told her about the situation. She wrote to the ENT and within a week and a half I received a call from the ENT’s office to schedule the procedure. I found this whole process stressful.

After the lump was removed, it was time to wait for the biopsy results. Today I got the results, benign. The lip is healing nicely, so I am hoping I can just forget about this now.

So, since last fall I’ve had these biopsies and procedures at the back of my mind. I don’t dwell on these kinds of things, but they do create a stressful backstory to life.

During the fall and winter, my blood pressure has been rising, which is not surprising. I am working with my Nurse Practitioner to address the issue. My hope is that now that all of these procedures are completed, and the much awaited results have arrived, stress levels will decrease as will blood pressure readings. This remains to be seen however, high blood pressure is in my family health history, and I am genetically prone to it, so I just might have to consider new treatment strategies.

Winter continues to exert its influence, this last day of February. The sun is shining brightly on this morning’s snowfall, and it is cold out there. It isn’t as cold as the Polar Vortex, but it is cold enough that a hat and scarf are very much needed. It seems this cold weather will persist for at least the first week of March. The sun getting stronger every day, and the snow melts away more quickly than it did even a few weeks ago. Spring is coming.

Tank is having difficulties again. She goes into the garage again tomorrow. With a little luck the fix will be easy, and the bill won’t be debilitating. We haven’t quite recovered from the last repair bill for Tank!

Well, here I am then. Full of good news, with a sprinkling of annoyances, the spice of life.

Worldly

Weather

-11°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Thursday 28 February 2019
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.1°C
Dew point: -17.5°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.”

Old farmer.

Flowing Gently

It is snowing this evening. We have had some lovely sunny days over the last few days, which I have enjoyed no end. There is something soul quenching about sunlight streaming into a room.

We have been getting a lot of freezing rain, ice pellets, snow, and associated bad roads this winter. The freezing rain and ice pellets are particularly tiresome, and dangerous for those who need to travel. The snow, although it seems to keep on coming, also melts back frequently this year, so the accumulations are not overwhelming. We are now well into February, with less than five weeks until spring. Spring, here at Mist Cottage, sends envoys of hope into the month of March. Something to look forward to in the very near future!

Life has been relatively uneventful since my last entry. The days flow by, gently.

One benefit of having to make all food from scratch is that food preparation becomes a vocation, perhaps an obsession.

I am back to baking our daily bread. My bread baking has been intermittent since I was working at several low-paying, short-shift, on-call jobs. That was awful. That is a lifestyle that a lot of young people have to put up with. I have to admit though, adjusting to that kind of work chaos as I entered my senior years was very, very difficult to adjust to. Your stamina does decrease with age. Now I have time to pay attention to the long process of baking bread, and am not exhausted when I am trying to do it. I love retirement, even though I don’t have a pension, and there are a lot of serious financial challenges involved, it is much preferable to working multiple crap jobs at the same time, for less than a living wage.

But I digress.

The reorganization of the basement, which is contingent on the reorganization of the garage, which became feasible just this past autumn with a new roof, is beginning to pay off. The canned food, empty canning jars, and canning equipment are currently all stored in one area in the basement, which makes it so much easier to manage. The thing about having your own canned food is that, when the food has been consumed, the empty jars need to be washed and stored. In order for this to proceed smoothly, organization is required, and has now been achieved to an acceptable level. More thought needs to go into the canning storage areas, but they are functioning relatively smoothly for the moment.

I canned a dozen liter jars of Paula Red Applesauce last fall, and we are down to two jars left on the shelf. It makes a lovely breakfast served with homemade 100% whole wheat bread, spread with a bit of peanut butter. It is extra special when drizzled with 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, a small indulgence, but a worthy one.

The stores of canned tomatoes and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce are dwindling.

The Green Tomato Mincemeat, and the Crab Apple Jelly will be enjoyed for many years, as sugar is not a large part of our diet.

As the winter passes it becomes obvious how much of each type of canned food we will need in a given year. The quantity of some canned foods is just the right amount. Some we will run out of before canning time comes again, and others will last several years before needing to be replenished.

It is my plan to eventually can soups and stews, so that there is instant food on the shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Canning takes up a lot of space in the kitchen, and it will still be some time before the effects of the organization, that began when the new garage roof was finished, will be felt all the way into the kitchen.

So, happily, not much going on here at Mist Cottage ,except enjoying the passage of time, and the good things that life brings my way.

Worldly

Weather

FREEZING RAIN WARNING
-4°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Wednesday 20 February 2019
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.2°C
Dew point: -5.5°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: E 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“The conceit of people, to think that if they’re not reading about you in a newspaper or magazine, then you’re not doing anything.”
Patti Smith
Via Alan Light interview in Medium

New Trend?

I am noticing something in the Netflix offerings. A few programs they are creating are offering personal growth up as a desirable (albeit mysterious and confusing) outcome. This element was missing in the offerings celebrating dysfunction, violence, intrique, etc. etc. etc. Just months ago we couldn’t find a single new offering from Netflix that we hadn’t already watched, that we enjoyed. And suddenly there are several new one season series that we have enjoyed. So far we have watched Russian Doll, which is black and funny, interesting and intelligent, and going in the right direction from our perspective. Presently we are watching Cuckoo, which is silly, and horrifying in some ways, and yet moves towards people being true to themselves and kind and tolerant of others while doing so, at least so far, we have only watched a few episodes.

Around the time Princess Diana died (1997), I noticed a lot of contempt-for-the-disadvantaged, greed romanticization, and mean-spirited-selfishness used as the unspoken underbelly in many of the ads on TV, and the premise of many programs at that time and since. It was disturbing at the time, to observe the culture going in that direction, and it has degenerated into some of the current leaders in different political arenas in North America. We haven’t hit rock bottom, but only because things can always get worse, there is no bottom.

I certainly hope that what I am detecting on Netflix harbours of a kinder, more tolerant social climate to come. One can always hope.

We are expecting a winter storm, it sounds as if it will be miserable, and I am glad I no longer have a long drive to work over the treacherous roads in the north. Life is full of small blessings. We are well into February now, and winter will soon be loosening its grip. We are warm and comfortable here at Mist Cottage.

One thing about forced air heating (and heating with wood) is that the air becomes very dry, and static electricity is a problem. So far this winter, I have had no nosebleeds, for the first time in decades. I cold still have a nosebleed, the winter is not over yet, but I’ve made it this far into the heating season without issue, and how wonderful it is. The cauterization in my nasal passage seems to have worked wonders. The static electricity means that my fine hair is completely out of control. My hair will NOT be tied back, pinned back, or held fast under a cap! It is always finding its way into my eyes, tickling my nose, catching on my glasses, and it is very annoying. So far I’ve found nothing to subdue it.

We enjoyed a turkey dinner on Sunday last, Attila prepared the entire meal. A ten pound turkey usually does us five or six dinners for the first week, a pot full of turkey soup for Attila’s snacks, and five or six packages of diced turkey meat in the freezer, for future Instant Pot casserole type meals. Turkey dinners work well for us.

This morning I am sitting in the sun, while it continues to shine, and baking muffins for Attila’s lunches. A happy day.

Worldly

Weather

WINTER STORM WATCH
-7°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 11 February 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -7.4°C
Dew point: -14.4°C
Humidity: 58%
Wind: NE 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“‘Taint’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.”
Sarah Orne Jewett
1849 – 1909


Insignificant Significance: A Life Story in Miniscule Installments

Sometimes I just feel like writing. There isn’t anything exciting going on, no drama to record, nothing at all to write about except the joy of being alive and feeling my fingers bring my thoughts and feelings into plain view. A small miracle at my fingertips.

The sun is just struggling to come out. It is just after 11:00 a.m. Predawn this morning freezing rain was falling from a dark and apparently overcast sky. Everything is slippery out there. The temperature has risen above freezing now, and the snow and ice are melting. There will be more cold weather to come, more snow, more grey and dreary skies, but I doubt we will see more of the extreme cold that the polar vortex brought deep into the continent.

I’ve been working on cleaning out the refrigerator freezer. There are some mystery items in there, and some surprises. One of the mystery items was a container of applesauce, which had no label. Judging by the plastic container it was in, it has probably been in the freezer for about ten years. It went into the compost bin. A happier discovery was a container of whole cranberries, and they are in very good condition. I am having fun researching the ways in which I can turn them into something delicious.

Tonight’s dinner has been planned, and the diced leftover turkey is thawing in the refrigerator, it will be transformed into Mongolian Turkey with Rice and Mixed Vegetables by dinner time. A lot of our meals are cooked with rice and mixed vegetables. Rice is inexpensive and easy to cook. The mixed vegetables consist of frozen diced carrots, corn, and green beans, and we eat about 1 1/2 cups each most nights for dinner. Most of the dishes I prepare are in the Instant Pot, and consist of mostly vegetables, some rice, and a small bit of meat, usually chicken, occasionally ground beef. The flavourings are what makes each meal unique, and delicious. Attila is very, very fond of the roast pork I prepare in the instant pot, so I try to serve that once a week.

This past weekend Attila craved pizza. There is no pizza available at grocery stores, or at restaurants, that does not contain preservatives, so we have to make it ourselves. No problem! My pizza crusts have not been to my liking for the last few years, because I use a lot less salt, and also mostly whole wheat flour. I tried a new recipe this time around, and it was a great success, light, and delicious. The trick, a tip from an organic farmer friend, was to add an egg as part of the liquid ingredients, and a tablespoon of gluten flour. I have always added the gluten flour, so I think the egg is what made the real difference to the dough. I use the bread machine, dough setting, because kneading dough now hurts my bad arm and shoulder, and the machine does a perfectly respectable job.

Our pizza is relatively low-sodium, low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sugar, it hits all the buttons. The sauce is where I really score points for keeping it healthy. We use my canned spaghetti sauce, which is sodium-free. Commercial sauces are shockingly high in sodium. I do indulge in a little cheese, and some pepperoni as well, but I keep the amount reasonable, so that I stay within my dietary quotas.

Well there, I managed to fill this page with the unimportant doings at Mist Cottage. My how I love the unimportant doings of life!

Worldly

Weather

2°C
Date: 11:32 AM EST Monday 4 February 2019
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 2.1°C
Dew point: 2.1°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: N 2 km/h
Visibility: 2 km

Quote

“There are two types of people–those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are.'””
Frederick L Collins
1882 – 1950

Who would you rather have walk into the room?


Snacks

What a difference a day makes! The extreme cold has departed, it was part of what the weather people call a polar vortex. it is a balmy -5C today. That was the temperature of the interior of our country house, the early winter when we had no source of heat. Not particularly comfortable for indoors, but downright balmy for a February morning!

I’ve been thinking about snacks. Snacks are tough. What I would love to eat for health are chocolate bars, potato chips, french fries, cheesecake, ice cream… well, you get the picture, all those decadent empty calories that pave the path to poor health.

I -L O V E- sugar. I come by this honestly, my Grandpa was the same way. I remember watching in fascination as he took a large slice of sweet fruit pie, poured heavy cream over it, and then sprinkled white sugar generously over all. He also smoked his whole life. He was lean and fit all his life, and lived to be 90 years old, in good health until the day he stopped being alive. I too love sugar, but unlike Grandpa, when I eat a lot of it my blood pressure begins to do funny things, not good funny either. So I have to accept that those are the cards I’ve been dealt, and play my hand accordingly.

Finding something to nibble on that tastes good, that is low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol, and low-calorie, is pretty challenging.

When I am craving something sweet, I take out the blender, a frozen banana, and a bit of 1% lactose free milk. Blending the banana and the milk results in a sweet, creamy concoction that I can eat with a spoon, I like it much better than ice cream! The blender we had was not able to function properly with the frozen banana, it was quite an ordeal to get the job done. So for Christmas I used the money my Mom gave me for Christmas, and some money I’d saved, and bought a 2 hp motor, 1500 watt blender that has no difficulty at all handling a frozen banana. The frozen banana/milk treat is my favourite.

Another snack I really enjoy is a little more decadent. A sweet potato cooked in the Instant Pot is mashed and mixed with a teaspoon of maple syrup, a teaspoon of oil, and a teaspoon of Roasted Garlic and Pepper herb mix. This is a warm, filling, and a simply delicious sweet and salty snack, that is low everything it needs to be.

Other snacks consist of Turmeric Cookies, and homemade muffins. Cookie and muffins can be very high sugar and high fat, but not these recipes. The cookie recipe calls for 1/3 cup of brown sugar, and the muffin recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Both recipes include a cup or more of pureed squash, or applesauce, or grated carrots, or a little of each. Both recipes are made with only one cup of all-purpose flour, and one cup of oatmeal. Well, they are healthy recipes, and the results are sweet enough for my sugar/salt/fat adjusted palate.

Of an evening, Attila has taken to preparing a green salad for himself, as a snack. I asked if he would make enough for me to have a small bowl as well, which he has gladly done. Not wanting to use the store-bought dressings, and not eating enough salad to warrant a batch of homemade dressing, I came upon the idea of using my canned applesauce as a dressing. It is delicious as dressing! I also top my little salad with a tablespoon or so of walnut pieces, and a light sprinkling of Roasted Garlic and Pepper herb.

When I seek a little bit of salty I turn to two herb mixtures bought at the grocery store. The first is Roasted Garlic and Pepper, which has 210 mg of sodium per teaspoon. The second is Garlic Plus, which has 110 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Salt has 2,325.5 mg of sodium per teaspoon, so you can see the benefit of the herb mixtures. Because my palate is adjusted to low-sodium, the Roasted Garlic and Pepper herb mixture tastes very salty to me, and the Garlic Plus just salty. I usually use Garlic Plus to sprinkle on bland food, or cooked vegetables, to give the a little flavour boost.

Sometimes for a snack I just grab a little dish of my canned applesauce, or my canned strawberry/rhubarb (which has sugar added, I won’t, can’t really, eat rhubarb without a bit of sweetening).

When feeling extremely decadent, I pop some organic popcorn, add a little butter and sprinkle it with Roasted Garlic and Pepper. I don’t do this often, i am also conscious of calories, and I am definitely not underweight.

Well there you have it, my snacking habits revealed.

Worldly

Weather

-5°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Saturday 2 February 2019
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -5.4°C
Dew point: -8.2°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: SW 27 gust 40 km/h
Wind Chill: -13
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The charity that hastens to proclaim its good deeds, ceases to be charity, and is only pride and ostentation.”
William Hutton
1723 – 1815