Turning Points

I got my hair cut today, shoulder length, about six inches came off. It was a personal occasion, as the last of my natural brown hair fell to the floor. From here and my forever more, my hair is predominantly gray. I asked the stylist to save a lock of my brown hair for me to take home as a keepsake. She did just that, fastening it and placing it carefully in a plastic bag. I have mixed feelings about this turning point, sad that an era has passed, happy to see the new era.

Neither Attila nor I have been sleeping well since Sunday. It is a time of adjustment, to the change in light and all things atmospheric. Our winter weary bodies are struggling to awaken.

Mother Nature did it! On Sunday she turned the page on spring, from waiting-for the-cold-weather-to-end, to this-is-a-perfect-day. It was perfect, over 20C, a light breeze whispering through the grass, blue skies, and sunshine.

We spent Sunday checking the Camp. I am over the moon happy to write these words… no sign of mice in Grace the trailer. Oh my, happy, happy day. Not a dropping to be found anywhere, and the trap was empty. A week ago we were there, and the trap was empty then too. That means two whole weeks mouse-free. My heart flutters just thinking about it. I do hate mice, so very much.

On our visit to the Camp we brought the little generator with us, so that the furnace could be operated. A test run of the furnace was conducted, to find out if there were mouse “odors” in the duct work. All the windows were opened, and the ceiling vents, then the furnace fan was turned on and left on for about half an hour. There were no objectionable odors, thank goodness, and it turns out that pumping air through the trailer and out the open windows and ceiling vents freshened the interior air considerably. Something to keep in mind for next spring. So, the furnace is ready to operate when needed.

It is too cold at night just yet, to want to be at the Camp overnight. But within a few weeks sleeping there will be a viable option.

I had the camera with me, so here are some images from my walk to our little wetland.

Walking down towards our little wetland, Trout Lilies grew beside the way, blankets of them, nestled here and there in the woods.

Here and there delicate May Flowers bloomed, some snow white, others in varying shades of violet. They grew as single plants among the dead leaves, or sometimes they grew near each other, as if to keep each other company.

Approaching the wetland, growing in the stone of the driveway, the Coltsfoot bloomed.

Our little wetland is at its high water mark at this time of year. We estimate that at this time it is about waist level, at its deepest point. It was higher than this last week, covering part of the driveway. Ducks, otters, and frogs frequent this wetland. it is seasonal though, and we have seen it completely dry.

Here is one of our little peepers, a frog who lives in the wetland.

Worldly

Weather

12°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Tuesday 7 May 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 11.9°C
Dew point: 10.9°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: S 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.”
Emo Phillips

Barefoot in the Rain or The Dead Elm

Glamour!

Not!

I was eating my breakfast this morning when there was a knock on the door. The young man at the door was greeted by an old lady in her pajamas, long hair unbrushed and wild, feet bare, but smiling. He had come from a local utility company to look at our poor dead ash tree, over 40 feet high. I had called all over the place about it, trying to find a way to get it felled before it started to fall down. It was ailing last summer, and died over the course of the winter.

Since he was here to help, I didn’t hesitate to step outside in my pajamas and bare feet, to show him which tree was in trouble. I stood out in the rain chatting with him, it was about 6C, as he assessed the tree. I don’t know if he felt sorry for sorry-looking me, or if it was just the right decision for his company, but he said, “We’ll take that tree down.” Music to my ears!

They don’t know when they will come and fell the tree, and they won’t take away the brush and logs, but they will bring it down on our property so that Attila can deal with it, he has the equipment to do it, as we needed all of that when we lived at the country house and heated with wood. Here we do not have a wood heater, and outdoor burning is banned in the area, it seems permanently, so we will have to get creative with it when it comes down. But what a relief! Taking a tree down on a bush lot is one thing, taking it down on a town lot is another thing altogether.

I will miss that tree!

So my day started with good news. Actually it was great news. I have spent the last few days trying to figure out where I would find the funds to get the tree felled, it is a pricey endeavor. So having a utility company fell it will allow us breathing space, to recover from the vehicle repair bills that have meant so much juggling to pay off and recover from.

Worldly

Weather

10°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Friday 3 May 2019
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 9.8°C
Dew point: 9.5°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: N 7 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener.
So our prospects brighten on the influx of brighter thoughts.”

Source: Henry David Thoreau, Walden or, Life in the Woods and On The Duty of Civil Disobedience, Chapter 17, Spring.

Every single act of kindness, compassion, tolerance; every single small act of bravery, consideration for others; they are each a single gentle rain in the human garden.

Chelsea Buns

Tank is now officially a tank! The power steering is not working at all. I was just out running an errand in town and my wrists are killing me. It was so hard to turn that steering wheel.

Tank is not working well at the moment, hasn’t been since we first took her in to the garage when the engine light flashed on. They didn’t know how to fix her, charged us $4,500, and had her there working on her for weeks. Then we took her in to our regular garage, he did some work, charged us $500 and it made no difference at all. The money is gone now, there is no more where that came from, and Tank is limping along. The dash lights are coming on, and no one has the skill to diagnose the problem. I am interacting on forums and we are slowly trying to work out what is wrong. From what I gather on the forums, dealerships don’t know either, and her problems are not unusual for her make, model, and year. So it is, for now, a matter of working through all the different possibilities, in hope of hitting on the issue that is causing the problems. We have a code reader coming via Amazon, so that is where we will start.

Since Saturday saw cold rain and snow, it was a day that needed some comfort. Comfort food always seems to make a dreary day a little more cheerful. Attila cooked a turkey dinner, and this time we will only eat leftovers for three days, having diced and frozen the rest of the turkey meat for use in quick Instant Pot meals.

It was a busy day in the kitchen, as I baked bread and muffins in the oven, and cooked three meals worth of kidney beans in the Instant Pot, which were frozen for future meals.

I have been craving Chelsea Buns ever since I discovered the wonder of fresh milled flour. So when Sunday presented itself as cold and windy, it was time to cancel out winter’s last gasps. Out came the recipe book, and I set to work. I didn’t skimp on much in the way of ingredients, reducing only the salt (1/4 teaspoon instead of 1 1/2 teaspoons), and substituting low-sodium margarine for butter. By late afternoon the aroma in the house was simply amazing. Attila was reveling in the garden, and I was tempted, when the Chelsea Buns came out of the oven, to wait for him to come in… but NO, I did not wait. The first one was so delicious that I ate another, then another. When Attila decided to work out in the garden until darkness fell, I ate two more! That was my lunch and my dinner. Attila ate leftovers, and then had a Chelsea Bun for dessert. That left four Chelsea Buns! Two went into the freezer, wrapped for Attila’s lunches, and two were left out for me. Guess what I had for breakfast this morning.

I probably won’t bake Chelsea Buns again until late October or early November, to celebrate the end of harvest and canning season. By then I will be craving them again. But for now, well, lets just say my craving for Chelsea Buns is completely gone.

P.S. and note to self, I milled flour today, 11 cups of wheat berries to equal 16 cups of whole wheat flour.

Worldly

Weather

8°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 29 April 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dew point: -4.8°C
Humidity: 41%
Wind: SE 17 gust 27 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”
Sheilah Graham
1904 – 1988

On the Cheap

These images are to share a couple of budget wise finds that were recently made, on the cheap, so to speak.

Pyrex Bowl
When out collecting garbage from the creek at the Camp, this bowl was found with other discarded items. The other items were indeed garbage, but this little bowl cleaned up well, I thought.
This handy little bowl was free for the finding, just a bit of effort was needed to get rid of the accumulation of silt and leaves.
chain mail scrubber
This stainless steel chain mail scrubber works as advertised! I cleaned the cast iron skillet with it, and then removed some burnt food from the bottom of the Instant Pot insert. It cleans both cast iron and stainless steel. I have been using steel wool, but it always tears up my fingernails, and even cuts my fingers on the really tough jobs. This scrubber has no effect on my fingernails or my skin. It is a winner. This item was described on the internet, where I heard about it for the first time, so the internet comes in handy for some things. It was $13.90 plus tax on Amazon, free delivery with Prime, and worth every penny. There were none available at the local stores.

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Wednesday 24 April 2019
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.5°C
Dew point: 2.6°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: WNW 26 gust 39 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
Edith Sitwell
1887 – 1964

Just watch the popular channels on youtube for a while, proof of point.




Mayflowers and Trilliums

I’ve been sitting here in the living room this morning, comfortably ensconced on my easy chair, sipping my morning coffee, and staring up into the bare tree branches just outside the window. The sky can’t make up it’s mind about the morning, bright blue sky one minute, then black overcaste cloud cover before I know it. My attention has been focused on a fat robin perched on the branches. It is a female I surmise, based on the rotund profile, and she is preening with great care. By the time she flies away, the sky has changed from blue to dark gray.

Spring is advancing, slow and steady, mostly cloudy and dreary so far. The temperatures have been around average for this time of year, which is single digit (Centigrade). Not unpleasant, but combined with the copious amounts of rain we have been receiving, not great outdoor weather either.

We had rain warnings for the Easter long weekend, Friday and Saturday saw a lot of rain here, some flooding in areas, but luckily our property was not affected by that. Yesterday, Sunday, was cloudy and cool. The temperature was supposedly going to reach 18C, but that did not happen, the high was more like 13C, and that 5C made a big difference. Neither did the sun shine yesterday.

But Thursday last was beautiful! We sat out on the back porch comfortably for the very first time this spring. The birds were feeling glorious, Blue Jays, Robins, Chickadees, Rock Doves, and in the distance Crows. The Grackles were nowhere to be seen, I guess they found a more amenable area to grace with their presence, they were not missed.

The earth turned green on Friday night, so on Saturday morning, despite the chilly, wet weather, I was out on the porch in my parka, enjoying the green grass, as were the birds. Now it really does feel like spring out there.

We have only one blooming flower in our garden, the Lungwort, the plants closest to the house are blooming. The earth would be warmer there, as the cement would warm in the sun, and heat would escape from the basement, where the interior temperature remained just above freezing all winter. The rest of the garden is beginning to awaken. The Wild Geraniums are about six inches tall, and the Heliopsis is the same. Onions and garlic are pushing their way out of the earth, and the Rhubarb is putting forth an abundance of unfurling leaves. There are buds on a few of the maple trees in the neighbourhood, but no buds on any of our trees.

Now that Attila has a dry workshop to work in, the garage with the new non-leaking roof, he is keen to get started on projects, garden projects, his favourite kind.

I decided I wanted some raised beds of my own this year, to tend. Crawling around on my arthritic knees would be madness, very painful, so the raised beds would allow me to enjoy gardening. Attila has his garden, in which he makes all the decisions, which makes it a lot of fun for him. I enjoy watching that process, but I wanted my own space. My plan was to use two large totes as raised beds, which I could do on my own, making all of my own decisions.

What ended up happening was that Attila, upon realizing I was really going to create raised beds, began to think about it. He decided to build a raised bed out of wood, one for himself, so that I could compare it with the totes. OK, I thought, he can build himself a raised bed out of wood if he wants. I continued on with my own raised bed plans. But once Attila built the raised bed out of red pine, he became enthusiastic and built another, both were offered to me, if I wanted them instead of the totes. I thanked him for this unexpected gift, and accepted the wood raised beds as my own. He is working on a third raised bed for himself, which he will work in addition to the vegetable garden. He also has plans to build a cold frame. The lovely side effect of all this is that all that wood he bought when he worked in the lumber industry is now going to a good use, and won’t need to be stored any longer!

Attila has a way of working his way into my plans. He “helps” at first, then slowly asserts what he thinks would work best. In the past, before “the big mistake”, I would allow this process to develop as it would, lots got done, and I didn’t really care how. His technique did not change, but now I care. Now I carefully think through what I want to do, then proceed to make it happen. If Attila offers to help, I carefully consider how that fits in with my plans. When his suggestions do not fit in with what I want, I am up front about it, and stand my ground. This surprised him at first, he didn’t like it, there was conflict. But he is resourceful, and working through plans has become more of a mutual process, which is getting easier all the time. We both like this a lot better than the way we interacted before. There is much that is positive in this “afterlife”.

Yesterday, Sunday, we suddenly decided to make a quick trip out to the Camp to check things out. I was very happy to find that there were no new mouse droppings in Grace the trailer, nor had the mouse trap caught any mice. I dare not hope that blocking the small opening, that I discovered on our last visit, will solve the mouse problem… but wouldn’t that be grand.

On the last visit the range would not work, the spark ignition was working last fall, but not this spring. Attila suggested trying to light the burners manually, and voila, they all worked perfectly. I can live with manually lighting my burners, no problem. Grace is a 2001 model trailer, which means she is 18 years old, the appliances will probably work for decades to come, if maintained, even without the spark ignition. Small things need fixing though, like the mechanism that opens one of the windows. We are also spending a bit of time during every visit to give Grace a good exterior wash.

It was cloudy and not at all warm at the Camp, jackets were needed. Attila tended a camp fire, which was challenging due to the heavy rainfall on Friday and Saturday, all the wood was soaked. We cooked grilled cheese sandwiches, which are back on the menu since my success at baking whole wheat low-sodium bread, from our own milled whole wheat.

While Attila was tending the fire, I took a bucket, and some tongs, and headed down to the small creek on the property, it drains our swamp. The swampy area around the creek was used as a dump by some of the locals. We don’t know who it was, but we do know it was quite some time ago, because some of the broken glass is old style beer bottles, as well as an older style of juice bottle. The high run off in the creek, from the rain, revealed a lot of broken glass, which I fished out of the creek with the tongs, and placed in the bucket. There were tatters of plastic bags as well, which also went into the bucket. When the bucket was full of broken glass, I was done collecting for the day. Along with the broken glass, there was a perfectly sound Pyrex mixing bowl, and a plastic hummingbird feeder, which I rescued. Once the black flies and mosquitoes start, working in the swamp is not going to be much fun, so I was glad to get some of the cleanup done. There is more to do of course, but that can wait for another day, or even another spring.

The water level in the swamp is very high, so that four mallard ducks were enjoying the temporary pond. There are a lot of frogs in the swamp, which was probably the big attraction. The first summer we owned the property we saw an otter in the temporary pond, the next summer it was completely dry, one never knows what the weather conditions will bring. I also spotted blooming Marsh Marigolds, the first wildflower find of the season.

After lunch, and after the fire had been extinguished, Attila and I went for a trek in the bush. Attila, with his pail and shovel, was after some fresh wild leeks, which grow all over our property. The terrain is very rough, and there are a lot of dead trees on the ground, so walking is challenging. It was a relief to be able to manage it though, I love walking in the bush. To my delight I spotted blooming Mayflowers, and a few small Trilliums that were budding but not yet blooming. Only two trees had visible buds, both red maples. We have some magnificent trees on the property, very old, and very tall, mostly Oaks and Beech. We had a lovely day.

After arriving home just before dark, preparations began for dinner, a pork roast in the Instant Pot, oven baked potato wedges, mixed vegetables, and sweet potato. It was a late dinner, and we enjoyed every bite after being in the outdoors for the afternoon.

Worldly

Weather

10°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Monday 22 April 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.8°C
Dew point: 8.5°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: N 2 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.”
Michel de Montaigne
1533 – 1592

“Living, as he did, in the second half of the 16th century, Montaigne bore witness to the decline of the intellectual optimism that had marked the Renaissance. The sense of immense human possibilities, stemming from the discoveries of the New World travelers, from the rediscovery of classical antiquity, and from the opening of scholarly horizons through the works of the humanists, was shattered in France when the advent of the Calvinistic Reformation was followed closely by religious persecution and by the Wars of Religion (1562–98). These conflicts, which tore the country asunder, were in fact political and civil as well as religious wars, marked by great excesses of fanaticism and cruelty. At once deeply critical of his time and deeply involved in its preoccupations and its struggles, Montaigne chose to write about himself—“I am myself the matter of my book,” he says in his opening address to the reader—in order to arrive at certain possible truths concerning man and the human condition, in a period of ideological strife and division when all possibility of truth seemed illusory and treacherous.”

Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michel-de-Montaigne