Spicy Globe Basil

Monday, August 13, 2018

At least it isn’t a Friday the thirteenth!

Attila just harvested some of our Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, and it is very aromatic.  We love basil, and use quite a bit of it in the course of a year.  I had been receiving organic basil from a farmer friend, as a thank you for help I provided with his computers and internet activities.  Now we have our own organic basil, grown in our back yard!  We are drying most of it for winter use.  I saw a tip on drying herbs on a YouTube video, they suggested putting the cuttings in a paper bag, and placing the bag in the passenger compartment of your vehicle.  Now tank smells divine!

We took a trip out to visit the Rideau Camp, as the weather was lovely on Saturday.  We found a dead mouse in every trap.  And from the aroma inside Grace the Trailer, our guess is that a mouse died in the walls or floors at some recent point in time.  Eventually the smell will disappear on its own, we would have to tear the trailer apart to find the dead mouse, so we won’t find it, we will wait it out.

We spent our time at the camp moving the woodpile that was closest to Grace. A woodpile is a place where mice might hide, nest, and use as a shelter while they wait to scuttle over to the trailer.  It was a big job.  Attila threw the wood into his wheelbarrow and wheeled it over the new location, where he dumped the wheelbarrow.  I stacked the firewood in the new location.  I did pretty well, stacking most of it,  but near the end I felt a little shaky, so let Attila stack the last five wheelbarrows full of firewood.  I sat in the shade, drank a bit of juice and ate a peanut butter sandwich, then felt as right as rain.  It is more and more important to pace myself, age will not be ignored.

I found some Mouse Free spray a short drive from Grace, so we set forth to purchase it.  It is very costly, $140, but if it works it will be worth it.  The sprayer requires an air compressor, so to do the job we have to bring the air compressor and generator with us on another visit.  At this visit, Attila went over the underside of the trailer carefully, applying duct tape and filling any opening he could find with steel wool.  Surprisingly he found three or four additional openings to close up.  Maybe that will do the job to keep them out.  I put dryer sheets in all the cupboards and drawers, which is said to deter them, I don’t hold out much hope.  I am also waiting for my order of peppermint essential oil to arrived, a few drops will be applied to a cotton balls, which will be distributed around the places we think they might be entering.  When we left the traps were all baited and set, including my bucket-of-water-with-peanut-butter-on-the-inside-rim-and-a-ramp-up-to-it trap.  We shall see what happens when we go back.

The woman at the store suggested using copper wool, instead of steel wool, because copper wool will not rust. I will have to have a look around to see if I can find copper wool.

This is my summer of mice and humidity!  Luckily the mice, as I experience them, are a first world problem, and the humidity is fact of life shared by millions.  Things could always be worse, so I am grateful they aren’t.

We had a camp fire on Saturday night.  The stars were magnificent!  Neither of us spotted meteors, but the stars were so beautiful that we did not feel disappointed.  It is so wonderful to sit quietly beside the fire after dark, watching the flames dance, looking up to see the starry heavens, listening to the wind in the trees, the calls of the loons, and hoots of the owls.

Today is hot, hot, hot and humid.  The morning was very pleasant for sitting out-of-doors, it didn’t become close until after lunch time.

Attila is out in his garden harvesting rosemary, basil, beans, and tomatoes.  He has a load of his laundry hanging on the back porch line, and is buzzing around, happy and engaged.

I am enjoying this wonderful thermostat and air source heat pump.  I am able to move about the house, puttering about, without discomfort.  What a hot and humid summer this is turning out to be!  I don’t like the heat and humidity, but as long as I can sit on the back porch for a few hours in the early morning, I am happy to stay indoors, where the air is cool and dry, for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Another hot and sticky day! The weather forecasts for the next two weeks predicts more of the same. I wonder if September will be a stinking hot month as well! My body is slowly adapting, at least a bit. If I am outside in the heat and humidity for more than an hour or so, even if I don’t move, my hands and feet swell, and I become fuzzy. Because of the air source heat pump I am able to sleep at night, and am comfortable through the worst heat and humidity of the day, and so I am getting along just fine with this stifling summer. Attila tells me that one scientist felt this would be the new normal. I hope my body adjusts more quickly each summer!

What is it with air compressors! Attila bought one on sale at Canadian Tire less than five years ago, it has been seldom used. Now the teflon piston ring has disintegrated and it doesn’t work at all! Foul play!

We need it to spray the Mouse Free on the undercarriage of Grace the Trailer. What a dilemma. The parts are not available from Canadian Tire. I only found a place to ask for parts by chance, in a 2015 forum comment that came up in an internet search. So far I have been unable to determine if they can provide us with a part. Email correspondence continues, what a colossal waste of time, but needs must. Disposable air compressors, what a waste of the earth’s resources, I am disgusted!

The thing is, this Mouse Free needs to go on now, not later. The mice will be looking for winter shelter, we need to deter them from considering Grace in the first place. I called the Mouse Free people today, and they told me that it can be applied with a large paint brush. So that is what Attila will do. It is a lot more work than a pressure sprayer, but we hope it will be worth the effort.

I’ve prepared two mediocre dinners in the Instant Pot lately, one a Cabbage Roll Casserole that really was bland without salt in it, and the other a Macaroni and Cheese dish with pureed cauliflower, that would have been nice with salt, butter, cream and a lot more cheese than I am allowed, but without it, well, bland, bland, bland. A lot of the dishes developed for the Instant Pot rely on sodium or fat to enhance the flavour, so they don’t translate well into low or no sodium dishes. Still, there are five dishes we both really like, Spaghetti, Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice, Spicy Orange Chicken with Rice, Sweet and Sour Beef with Rice, and Chili. If I can come up with a few more we will have a whole weeks worth of dishes to rotate through.

The tomatoes are coming on in the garden. Of the four varieties we planted, three are small paste tomatoes, and the fourth is Pink Girl, which isn’t a particularly sweet tomato, although it is quite tasty. The Amish Paste tomatoes are prolific but very small. The San Marino paste tomatoes are larger, prolific, and have yet to ripen. The third paste tomato is an unknown variety, the plants purchased at No Frills, heavily discounted at the end of the bedding plant season. The unknown tomatoes are the typical pear shape, relatively large, and have yet to ripen. I have been freezing the Amish Paste tomatoes as the harvest comes in each day. We have about a four quart basket of them now. Thank goodness for the food mill, I will be making tomato sauce with it, and drying the skins and seeds to make a powder to add to dishes over the winter. I hope to can the tomato sauce, freeing up valuable freezer space.

I’ve been busy getting things organized for my next colonoscopy, which will be performed months from now. There are extra things to consider due to my anaphylaxis. Oh how I hate a colonoscopy. I react strongly to the preparation chemicals, and the last time I ended up in hospital vomiting and, well, losing fluids from every part of my body. I became extremely dehydrated, and the colonoscopy itself really took the stuffing out of me (ha, none left!). I am hoping for an easier time this time around! This time Attila will take time off work to stay with me while I am at the hospital. The last time my Sister-The-Middle-Girl came and picked me up from the hospital, as she was up at her cottage when I had the procedure done. Attila had trouble getting time off work at the job he had there. At Mist Cottage there are only Attila and I to manage things, and an advantage to his present employer is that he can get time off work for serious situations such as this. The Surgeon’s office emphasizes that you must have someone to pick you up after the procedure, so I am glad Attila is willing.

Where we live there is one day a year where the dump accepts hazardous waste. We have some paint cans and very old propane tanks that need to go, and a few other things that Attila is sorting through tonight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Well! I didn’t get this posted on Monday. I didn’t get this posted on Tuesday. I am posting this on Wednesday!



Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 12 August 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 27.7°C
Dew point: 16.4°C
Humidity: 49%
Wind: NNE 14 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km

Date: 7:00 PM EDT Tuesday 14 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 24.8°C
Dew point: 21.2°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NW 8 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km


“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.”
Margaret Millar

But when they aren’t, aren’t they grand!

Zucchini Surprise

Attila continues to chip away at the garage project.  Last weekend he finished closing in and trimming the back exterior, and the interior back wall.  He continues to move building materials into the garage from the basement.  The push is over, now slowly but surely the garage project is progressing.

Do plants smile?  I think they might, you can see them if you watch carefully enough. We had a thunderstorm and heavy rain yesterday afternoon, the garden was glad.  The few remaining Scarlet Runner Bean plants are beginning to produce beans, we have had two meals with fresh beans.  The tomato plants are prolific.  Attila planted, at my request, mostly small tomatoes, Amish, and two varieties that are of unknown varieties.  There is one round tomato plant, Pink Girl.  The fruit is not particularly sweet, but is very tasty, and perfect for toasted tomato sandwiches.  The hot peppers are yielding quite a crop, those are for Attila, I don’t eat them.  The Pole Squash, a heritage variety we ordered online, are barely surviving, one actually died, and I anticipate no fruit from those plants.  The Blue Hubbard Squash is beginning to take over the yard, and wants to trespass on the neighbour’s yard, requiring constant diligence to set the runners back on our property.  The Zucchini, well, there is a beautiful large fruit on it, and, well, it isn’t a Zucchini, it is a pumpkin!   How did that happen, no idea, I must have mislabeled some seeds.

Today is a perfect day.  Sunny, warm but not hot, not terribly humid.  Just lovely!

I am preparing a new dish in the Instant Pot for dinner, making it up as I go along.  Ground beef (and rosemary, always rosemary with beef or red meat), cabbage, and tomato are the base of it, I’ll be adding water, rice, and a few herbs, we will see how it goes.  A sort of cabbage roll casserole.  I am writing it down as I go along, so if we like it, I can replicate it.

There are companies with a solid, reliable right hand that takes your money, who have a thousand left hands that know next to nothing about each other, or how to provide customer service.  These past few weeks I’ve been on the telephone battling it out with perfectly nice but systemically hobbled customer service people.  Every time I think I have it sorted, another unexplained charge shows up, and after much ado, I receive an apology, and the charge is removed.  No wonder people end up with ridiculously high bills, you have to watch these companies like a hawk, and be prepared to spend a LOT of time getting errors straightened out!  Cell phone service providers = misery!

Attila just arrived home for the weekend.  The weather is as perfect as one could wish for on a summer’s day.  Dinner, courtesy of the Instant Pot, is just a “press the start button” away.  All is well, in the here and now, and it does not get any better than that.



Date: 3:00 PM EDT Friday 10 August 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 25.0°C
Dew point: 11.3°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: NNE 12 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km


“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
Henri Matisse
1869 – 1954


Here it is, 12:30 p.m., and I am still sitting on the back porch. The shade won’t last much longer out here, my fingers and feet are beginning to swell, and the air is beginning to feel oppressive. After I type this paragraph I will pull the cabana curtains across the deck, bundle my stuff into my arms, and head for the air-conditioned inner sanctum of Mist Cottage. I have enjoyed sitting out here on the back porch all morning, watching the wind blow in the trees, the flowers sway in the wind, the hummingbirds and butterflies, the birds, and Attila working away at the exterior finishes of the garage. But alas, the heat is chasing me away!

I feel thoroughly refreshed for having sat outside for over six hours!

The garden is beginning to gift us food. This morning breakfast consisted of a toasted tomato sandwich, with a plump, juicy, red tomato from the garden. There are Scarlet Runner Beans sitting in the refrigerator, washed and prepped for tonight’s Instant Pot dinner. All morning I have been snacking on the last of the edible pod peas. Since the rabbits and/or squirrels killed most of the Edible Pod Pea plants, the few remaining plants have yielded only a few handfuls of peas, which I have been washing and eating raw.

This morning, while enjoying my view of the back yard from the porch, I decided to try to identify some of the weeds that constitute our “lawn”. Plantain is prominent close to the porch, along with Wild Violets, Dandelions, and Bindweed. We have several huge Catnip plants in the yard, one near the back fence, and the other up against the porch. Further out there are Wild Strawberries, Purslane, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Crabgrass, a variety of other native grasses, one huge blooming Elecampane, Hawkweed, White Clover, Michaelmas Daisy, Burdock, one large Jacob’s Ladder, Common Mallow, Ragweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Chicory. On a cooler day I may go out into the yard for a closer look, to hunt down other plant species that live there.

It is just too hot to attempt activities like visiting a park, shopping, taking a country drive. When 23C feels like sitting in a refrigerator, you know it is hot outside.

It is a statutory holiday here in Ontario. But the poor fellas working on the new subdivision are not enjoying it. They are working hard, and making a lot of noise while doing it. I can’t imagine what is like for them today, toiling in the hot sun, in this heat and humidity.

Ontario peaches are on sale at our local grocery, so on Saturday we purchased a 4 quart basket. They were a bit green, but this morning they are perfectly ripe. Attila has been eating them out of hand, and I have peeled two to make myself a peach smoothie for my lunch. I love peach season in Ontario! We grew a few peaches on the farm where I grew up, but the best peaches were on the trees at my paternal Grandparents farm. There is no peach for sale in a retail outlet that can compare with a juicy ripe peach picked fresh from, and eaten in the shade of, a peach tree.

Wishing you all comfort, wherever you are. Safety from the fires raging across many areas of the Northern Hemisphere, the stifling heat in some areas, and many other environmental challenges that plague Mother Earth during this record-breaking summer.

Weather Perspective

“A humidex over 40 is considered to be extreme and Environment Canada recommends that all unnecessary outdoor activity be curtailed under those conditions. When the humidex reaches the mid to upper 30s, rigorous outdoor activity should be reduced with special attention paid to the age and health of the individual.”

“As oppressive as the humidex has been this summer, it has been worse in Canada in the past. On June 20, 1953, Windsor Ontario had a humidex of 52.1 and on July 25, 2007, Carman, Manitoba reached 53.0.”

Humidex and Degree Chart of Comfort

Source: https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/humidex-vs-heat-index-whats-the-difference/10243

The humidex is the heat the body percieves and reacts to, so that a humidex of 43C will, in theory, have the same effect on the body as 43C temperature where there is no effect on the body due to humidity. For the purposes of our body’s needs, a humidex temperature is comparable to an actual temperature where humidity is not a factor for the body.

Worldly Distractions


33°C (34°C at the Rideau Camp)
Date: 1:45 PM EDT Monday 6 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 29.6°C
Dew point: 23.7°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: SSW 18 gust 30 km/h
Humidex: 42 (43 at the Rideau Camp)
Visibility: 19 km


“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way…I can’t apologize for that, nor can I change it, nor do I want to… We will never have to be other than who we are in order to be successful…We realize that we are as ourselves unlimited and our experiences valid. It is for the rest of the world to recognize this, if they choose.”
Alice Walker
1944 –

Hula Hoe

A while back Kate (hey Kate!) described the hoe she uses to weed her beautiful flower garden. It looked like a great hoe, and I had never seen anything like it before. Well, I finally got around to looking for something similar. I finally found one that seems the same, a Hula Hoe, called by many other names.

My reason for pursuing this now is that the garden is almost overwhelmed with weeds. Attila is the gardener here. He has been working on the garage roof project since late June. It is a huge project, and he has been working on it almost every waking hour that he has not been at work. At the same time we experienced a very dry four or five weeks, almost a drought, which was hard on the garden. Attila took time off from his roof project to water his garden. There just wasn’t any time left for weeding.

I have arthritic knees, there will be no kneeling to work on the garden for me. I also have back and shoulder issues, less serious, but serious enough that bending down to weed causes enough pain to require medication. I was not going to be weeding the garden. I have suggested many times that raised beds would allow me to participate in gardening, but Attila has not liked the idea. The upshot is that the garden has not been weeded since mid-June.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

There are some very big weeds in the garden, and mats of smaller weeds.

What to do!

This morning I decided to try to find the hoe that Kate described, and as soon as I found it, out we went to purchase it. This evening, after the sun had sunk below the horizon, I ventured into the garden with my new hoe. I weeded about two-thirds of the garden, without breaking a sweat, and only bending down a few times. This hoe is a miracle tool! Well, it is for an old gal like me who can’t get down on the ground to tend the plants.

This hoe is a game changer here at Mist Cottage. There are still quite a few home renovation projects to be tackled, all of them will be tackled by Attila. This Hula Hoe will allow me to gently tackle some of the landscaping, some of the gardening. And I will enjoy it!

August 5, 2018

Another stinker of a day, too hot to do anything out-of-doors, except find shade and try to keep breathing.

I took my morning coffee out onto the back porch where, although the air was very humid, it was quite pleasant. I sat for an hour or so, watching the birds, the clouds, and the movement of shadows as the sun lumbered into the sky.

Eventually Attila awoke, made his morning coffee and came out onto the porch too. After revelling for a few hours, in the luxury of sitting around, we decided to work on the garden. Attila didn’t favour my chances of lasting very long, and how right he was. After about thirty minutes I was unable to continue, and feeling a bit frantic, so I decided to head into the coolness of Mist Cottage. I had to cold cloths to cool my body down. The garden looks a little better, and I recovered relatively quickly, within 15 minutes I felt comfortable again. Without the air-conditioned escape, I would not have cooled down until the heat wave subsides. Note to self, no air conditioning, no vigorous activity during heat waves.

Attila spent the rest of his day finishing off the back wall studs in the garage, building shelves between the studs, and painting the back wall. One step closer to completion. Blocking between the rafters, trim around the new window, and odd bits of flashing and trim on the roof, and more painting, still need to be completed. I think though, that after this weekend, if a day of decent weather presents itself on a weekend, activities other than working on the garage roof can be prioritized.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 5 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 26.6°C
Dew point: 20.9°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: S 18 km/h
Humidex: 35
Visibility: 24 km


“True humor is fun – it does not put down, kid, or mock. It makes people feel wonderful, not separate, different, and cut off. True humor has beneath it the understanding that we are all in this together.”
Hugh Prather

A Lazy Saturday

I slept in until 6:30 a.m. this morning, which isn’t surprising, considering I was up until after midnight doodling about with who knows what. Where does the time go! I seem to be getting lazy, if you can call sleeping into 6:30 a

The air was close but comfortably cool, when I carried my morning coffee out the back porch. And it was quiet, the construction crews had not yet arrived at the new rental unit complex. The flowers are blooming, sun yellow Heliopsis, bright red Scarlet Runner Beans, yellow Giant Marigolds, orange Marigolds, purple Clematis, purple Echinacea, and white/pink/red Cosmos.

In the weeds that function as “grass” in our yard, a pecking Grackle was led here and there by wily insects, a Blue Jay sat on the back of a lawn chair, a chickadee rested on the fence above the lemon balm, and a robin hopped about on the neighbour’s yard behind us.

Time passed, birds came and went, sometimes singing. A breeze came up, died away, and came up again. I love early mornings.

It is stinking hot out there this afternoon, and will be hotter and stickier tomorrow and Monday. Attila manages to work in such heat, but I can only stay active for about five minutes before feeling ill. I don’t bother trying to be active on days such as this, as five minutes isn’t long enough to tackle anything much.

So, in this lovely little house with a thermostat, where the temperature does not waver far from 23C, I decided to bake and cook. I baked Pumpkin Muffins in the Nesco on the back porch, and a Beef Stew in the Instant Pot in the kitchen for my dinner. Attila barbecued chicken on the charcoal grill for himself.

The Beef Stew is my own recipe. I have some vintage organic, grass-fed stewing beef, that I had taken out of the freezer. After tossing around various ideas, I settled on the idea of a stew. There are no potatoes in the house, so I made the stew with cabbage instead. I cut the meat into very small pieces, sautéed it until it was cooked through, added chopped onions, vintage frozen celery, a half cabbage, chopped, a can of tomatoes, niblets corn, some herbs and macaroni. This was an experiment! The beef was cooked through during the sauté session, so I used the time required the pasta to cook the whole stew. The results were pleasing, so it was a relative success. The pasta was a little overdone, but not terribly so. I ate two bowls of the stew for dinner, it was the consistency of soup. This is a recipe worth working on, so I’ll be trying it again to tweak it. When I run out of vintage stewing beef I will make it with ground beef instead.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 PM EDT Saturday 4 August 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 26.9°C
Dew point: 22.1°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: SSW 21 km/h
Humidex: 36
Visibility: 19 km


This comment was made in response to a 98-year-old woman’s video, demonstrating a main dish she prepared and served during the Great Depression.

“Imagine in the future when all the tattooed millennials are old and teaching ppl how to make unicorn cupcakes.”