The heat wave broke today, thank goodness. I’ve been sitting out on the back porch, or wandering around the garden, most of the day. Not only did the temperature fall to 25C, but it also rained. It has been weeks since a quenching rain has occurred here. Lawns had turned brown and crunchy, the earth in the garden was cracking. Attila watered the gardens every single day, using all of the 1200 litres of rain water that had been collected in the last big rain storm, and then having to depend on the municipal water supply to continue. The garden stayed green and healthy. Now that it has rained, the garden is downright lush. And we have about 700 liters of rain water collected in the rain tanks today. Who looks forward to rain? We do!
Every day Attila brings me treasures from his gardens. Today it was a fresh carrot, a very small zucchini, and six large leaves of Swiss Chard. These were sauteed with chopped onion, and some edible pod peas that I picked this morning out of the garden. It seemed a waste to compost the carrot greens. After some research, a plan was devised for using them. First the woody stems were removed, and put in the compost. Then the greens were blanched for three minutes in boiling water, drained, and added to the saute pan, along with the other ingredients. I didn’t notice the carrot greens in my dish, they weren’t strong tasting. A few woody stems remained though, that is something to watch for next time.
Another grocery order was ready for us today. With the exception of that bag of rotting carrots last month, the orders have been filled perfectly. There are items that aren’t available on the shopping web site, I wonder if they are still in the stores, just not on the product lists for online shopping. There is no way to tell, since we don’t go into public buildings, even though masks are now mandatory where we live. We are getting good at washing the incoming items with soap and water, a system has developed. I am particularly careful with frozen foods, washing them well, because research has shown that smooth surfaces and low temperatures facilitate a long life for the Covid-19 virus.
23°C Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 12 July 2020 Condition: Mostly Cloudy Pressure: 100.6 kPa Tendency: Rising Temperature: 22.6°C Dew point: 20.0°C Humidity: 85% Wind: W 3 km/h Humidex: 30 Visibility: 24 km
“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” G. K. Chesterton 1874 – 1936
It is HOT out there today. Stepping outside is exactly the same as stepping into a sauna. Attila worked out there all day long, in a place where he had to work close on very hot machines. He does this, he doesn’t complain. He arrives home looking haggard and exhausted. He bathes, he naps, he goes out to his garden, and he returns to the house refreshed, no matter the heat. The garden, I wish everyone who loved gardens could have one of their very own!
Hot Dogs were the requested dinner for tonight. We a brand that we could order online with our groceries, with no nitrates, and they arrived earlier this week. I had made Hamburger Buns recently, but not Hog Dog Buns. So, at 6:20 a.m. this morning I began measuring ingredients into the bread machine, and by 9:30 a.m. this morning a dozen 100% Organic Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns (low sodium of course) sat cooling on racks on the kitchen counter.
While the oven was hot a batch of Maggie’s Oat Cakes were whipped up and baked for breakfast. Years ago I started with a recipe from a cookbook borrowed from the library, Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens, 1971. The recipe published there was from another source in 1894. I’ve revised it many times, and the present incarnation is primarily my own recipe now, as it bears little resemblance to the original.
Lunch was delicious. Beet green stems, leaf and stem of Swiss Chard, onion, garlic, three varieties of green peas, freshly ground black pepper, all sauteed in a little olive oil. So good!
I’ve not accomplished a lot today, besides keeping my spirits up in such unlovely weather. So a very good day, I would say.
Updated on Thu, Jul 9, 3:15 PM 35°C FEELS LIKE 44 A few clouds Wind 16 S km/h Humidity 45% Visibility 28 km Sunrise 5:33 AM Wind gust 23 km/h Pressure 101.1
Hottest, most humid day of the summer yet. At 3:15 it was 35C, by 5:30 it was 36C.
“It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.” Peter Ustinov 1921 – 2004
Yesterday Attila picked the first Peas out of the garden. They are one of the three varieties that were planted, and were not edible pod Peas. Oh the flavour of those little round, green peas, sweet, crunchy, just wow. And then I bit into the pod, just to see what an inedible pod tasted like. Wow again, it was sweet and crunchy and oh so good. I will be eating the pods on these peas. When Attila picked my breakfast greens this morning, he included Swiss Chard, a Beet with greens, and five pods of Peas. Lucky me!
We are well into a heat wave, which is predicted to last at least several weeks. I feel so very blessed to have the air source heat pump, which heats and cools. To conserve energy, by lessening the load on the cooling system, light cotton clothing is worn, and the thermostat has been turned 23C (73.4F), and will be increased slowly as comfort allows. Body movement is limited, cooking is minimized, and any electrical device that isn’t being used is disconnected.
Luckily one of our rain tanks was almost full when the heat wave began. The other has about 200 liters of water in it. With any luck it will rain today, topping up one rain tank, and increasing the volume in the other, as well as lessening the need to water the garden. Most of the plants in the garden will welcome the heat, but they will need lots of water to thrive.
Friday, July 3, 2020
It was almost a year ago when Attila had an eye exam, and discussed a small abnormality on his eye with the opthamologist. Today, almost a year later, the referral specialist’s office called to book an appointment for him. Really!?! I don’t think so, Pandemic appointments for those of us at high-risk-for-compications need to be urgent… if it was urgent, it wouldn’t have taken almost a year for them to follow up with Attila. His condition is the same, waiting until the Pandemic runs its course is the way to go, in my opinion. Hot and humid outside, the heat wave continues, so I sat on the back porch for an hour or so until the thermometer read 30C, then I headed into the cool of the house for the rest of the day.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
I hope US readers have a wonderful day today, 4th of July, a day of celebration for US citizens. I hope the people in the US stay safe, today and every day of the Pandemic.
For weeks now I have been enjoying one meal a day of fresh sauteed Spinach and/or Swiss Chard greens, with various additions such as garlic, onion, fresh peas with pods, an egg, chopped fresh beet, and beet greens. Today I am adding our first Zucchini, only three inches long. The tiny Zucchini are surprising, because the plants they are growing on are as tall as my arm.
Today harvest season begins in earnest here at Mist Cottage! Attila brought in fresh organic Beets with greens, and a bunch of organic Rhubarb stalks. Everything from our garden is organic, but I frequently mention it because it is a different product than commercially raised produce, and would be exorbitantly expensive to purchase, if you could get it. We know our yard is organic because we have owned the property for ten years now, and since we have owned it, not one chemical has been used in the yard, with the exception this spring when I sprayed the new shrubs, which came from the nursery heavily infested with two kinds of aphids. Those aphids could not be controlled by organic methods, and we were going to loose our new shrubs, so I broke down and sprayed them with a weak mixture of permethrin, which solved the problem.
The Beet greens were blanched, then drained, cooled and frozen to accompany three winter meals. The Beets and stems were washed, and placed in a recycled plastic bag in the refrigerator. On Monday, if we get our Potatoes in our online grocery order, I will make a big pot of Borscht. If the Potatoes do not arrive, the Beets and stems will be either canned, fermented, or frozen for winter meals.
Baked goods will be needed for lunches next week, and although baking in a heat wave is undesirable, it must be done. Luckily the portable oven (Nesco) can be placed on the porch outside, and the baking can be done out of doors, to help keep the house cool, and not overuse the cooling system. Rhubarb Squares, made with today’s freshly picked organic Rhubarb, are on the menu!
And so the days goes pleasantly along.
28°C Date: 11:00 AM EDT Saturday 4 July 2020 Condition: Mainly Sunny Pressure: 101.5 kPa Tendency: Rising Temperature: 27.7°C Dew point: 11.3°C Humidity: 35% Wind: ENE 21 km/h Humidex: 30 Visibility: 24 km
Heat Warning in effect: A prolonged period of hot weather is expected through the weekend into next week. Daytime high temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius, with humidex values in the high thirties to low forties, are expected for the foreseeable future. Overnight lows near 20 degrees Celsius are also expected through this period, providing little relief from the heat. Please refer to your public forecast for further details on expected temperatures. Hot and humid air can also bring deteriorating air quality and can result in the Air Quality Health Index approaching the high risk category. Extreme heat affects everyone. The risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and people working or exercising outdoors. Watch for the effects of heat illness: swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions.
“Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be.” Clementine Paddleford 1898 – 1967
This past week Attila went into overdrive, finished installing the eavestrough along the back of the house, and installed the 1000 liter rain tank. We had a thunderstorm just after he got it all setup, and the tank filled in 10 minutes! The overflow was shocking, it poured onto the back porch in buckets, before Attila managed to redirect the downspout into the yard. He has since setup an overflow pipe into a second and third barrel to catch additional water. If the overflow barrels overflow, they will empty directly into the yard.
On Saturday we drove straight to the Camp, no stops. Our visits are more as maintenance staff than jolly vacationers!
The mouse trap in Grace the trailer is still collecting mice, so every visit involves burials and clean-up. Attila cut the “grass”, which is really assorted native plants that are generally regarded as weeds. Cutting the grass with a strimmer is a very big job, that takes many hours to complete, but the results are beautiful. I killed about a dozen army worms. This is the first summer that they haven’t swarmed at the Camp, so grateful for that! The water level in the swamp is falling. One of my favourite trees is suffering from a very bad case of black rot, I sprayed the areas I could reach with insecticidal soap, but I am not optimistic that it will be helpful.
The day at the Camp was beautiful, sunshine and clouds, breezy and not too hot, it was beautiful. On our last visit Attila planted six Ground Cherry plants that he had started from seed. One had been dug up by an animal, but the other five were surviving well. They were well watered before we left. While Attila was down by the swamp cutting grass, I heard a noise in the bush and turned to find a doe staring at me from the shadows. She slowly turned away and ambled off into the bush, with her fawn beside her. There are still quite a few birds at the Camp, seldom seen but constantly heard.
Taking a break from our labours, we enjoyed a quick lunch of cheese and homemade potato salad. Then it was back to work, much to be done! We did sit for an hour or so just before it was time to head home, enjoying the breeze, the swaying tree tops, the bird song, just being part of the natural world.
Sunday Attila installed a second 1000 liter rain tank to catch the water from the roof of the garden shed. This tank will fill more slowly than the first, so it does not have an overflow system. These tanks will provide better quality water for our garden plants, and reduce our water/sewer usage and billing from the municipality. He also mowed the yard, another big job, and tended the garden, mostly weeding, and he did more planting as well. Almost all the plants he grew from seed in his little greenhouse are in the ground, only a few left to plant.
My projects on Sunday kept me busy in the kitchen. I baked five loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Bread, one dozen 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, Apple Raisin Cinnamon Squares, and made four liters of Switchel.
During the week, Attila comes home and after showering the remains of the work day away, he heads into his garden. I make dinner while he is doing that, almost always in the Instant Pot, which works well because we only decide what we will have after Attila gets home from work. Attila eats and heads back to his garden. By the time the light begins to fade Attila will come back into the house, we will chat a bit, and then it is time to turn in for the night. Every day is different, and everyday is the same.
Monday was very busy paying bills, which has been challenging these last months, but is getting a little easier to accomplish. In the early morning before I arise, Attila is usually out and in the garden harvesting Swiss Chard and Beets for my breakfast or lunch, and picking the Strawberries that ripen, usually five or six Strawberries a day. My fresh garden meals are delicious!
Yesterday was Canada Day, so Attila had the day off. We celebrated by roasting a chicken in the portable oven on the back porch. So good! We gardened, and made coleslaw, which I canned, six 500-ml jars. It is so good. I used Tattler lids, they are reusable, and so much more ecnomical than using the disposable metal lids. I am still leary of them though, after having an 80% failure rate last year. This is the third batch I’ve canned using the Tattler lids, and they all sealed. My confidence is gaining with the Tattler lids. The trick for me has been to keep the lids and rings in a simmering pot of water, on a hot plate, on the counter, beside the work space where I fill the jars. When I was experiencing failures I was not keeping the lids and rings boiling hot before putting them on the jars.
When I weeded the garden a few days ago, I brought in some of the Purslane that I pulled, I was going to add it to my stir fry, but changed my mind when I read about Spurge, a look alike plant, so I put the Purslane in the compost. However, I’ve now done additional research and feel sure what I harvested was Purslane. Yesterday, while weeding the garden, I saved more Purslane, washed it, and set it in a big metal bowl of cold water. Wow, this plant would thrive in a hydroponic system!
So here it is, July already! I have resigned myself to not being able to get fresh local Strawberries this summer, no one delivers, and I dare not venture out into areas where potentially coronavirus infected people are roaming without a care. I purchased some frozen Strawberries, not a product of Canada, which is all I could access easily. I have plans to can Strawberry Rhubarb pie filling, with the frozen Rhubarb from our garden, and the frozen Strawberries from God Knows Where. No hurry, all of the ingredients are frozen.
It has now been 135 days since I ventured into a store or public place. I’ve seen no one in person, other than Attila, during that time. I do miss grocery shopping, and shopping for supplies. I am grateful we can still drive directly to the Camp though, it is a change of scene, even if it is mainly for maintenance purposes.
Take good care of yourselves! Stay safe! Stay strong!
It is going to be stinking hot today!!
28°C Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 2 July 2020 Condition: Mainly Sunny Pressure: 101.1 kPa Tendency: Falling Temperature: 27.7°C Dew point: 17.7°C Humidity: 54% Wind: NW 11 km/h Humidex: 33 Visibility: 24 km
“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890
So very true, I love to visit normality, but I wouldn’t want to live there… no fear (or is it chance) of that. Maggie