Monday, February 16, 2015

Today is family day, and I am reminded that “family”, and what we celebrate in the term “family”, can have a wide variety of meanings. Attila left this morning, and I experienced my usual teary response as he drove away. And what do I think about it all? I think I am very lucky to have someone that I do miss! And who misses me! It isn’t the perfect “family” day, but it does highlight how lucky Attila and I are to be able to spend any time together at all.

Diesel isn’t impressed with tears. He has decided he needs a good deal of “consoling”, as he finds if disconcerting to be around someone who is teary. Are cats narcissists? A little cuddle on the couch did both of us a world of good.

And then on with the day. The temperature has risen to -20C, which is cold, but not as cold as it has been the last few days. The sun is shining, which is very cheerful, and beautiful. I spent the rest of the day puttering about. Attila brought down three four-litre-jugs, saved from our maple syrup purchases in the past. These make excellent drinking water jugs. I cleaned them, sterilized them, filled them with filtered water, and stored them in the basement for emergencies. Hopefully these jugs of water will never be needed, just refreshed annually.

For lunch I fixed myself some Guacamole, and enjoyed it with a few corn chips. For dinner I indulged in a spinach frittata for one.

To soften the intensity of the day, I watched the movie “Only The Lonely”, with John Candy and Maureen O’Hara. It worked well, providing a distraction, and a light, positive tone.

The evening closed with a chat with Attila, via FaceTime. I am glad he arrived there, in the north, safe and sound. Mist is glad to see him too, and now that the second firing of the day is under way in the masonry heater, she has decided that he has been chastised sufficiently for his absence.

All is well, February marches on.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The cold snap continues! It was a fortunate decision to have the fuel oil tank filled a few weeks ago! The gauge is heading down towards 3/4 full, which will mean that the month of February will have burned a quarter of a tank of fuel oil.

Every day there are at up to two dozen Asian Ladybugs crawling around the dining table in the kitchen. I kill every one of them, as I see them. This week, for the very first time, I was “bitten”. One of the ladybugs managed to crawl up the sleeve of my sweater and bit me on the arm. It didn’t hurt, but it was noticeable; I thought my sweater had caught and was pulling on a hair on my arm. It was a ladybug bite!

The cold is getting to me! The week long blast of cold weather brought a few mild, brief bouts of melancholy with it. At the country house these feelings begin to manifest with much more intensity by the first week in January. With a larger repertoire of coping mechanisms here at the little house in the city, the dreaded cabin fever may even fail to make an appearance this winter!

This week has been busy with interesting activities. I received a wonderful healing massage! I had provided computer support for the woman who leads the Yoga class, and in exchange I received the massage. It was a great experience, and very timely. Yoga class was attended the next day. And yesterday was laundromat day, which turned out to be a fascinating experience. I struck up a conversation with the one other woman at the laundromat, and it turned out that she attended the same primary school as I did, knew my younger brother well, and she attended the same church as my best friend from primary school. She and her husband had just moved to the area near our little house in the city, from the North, just a bit further north than our country house. They moved south because there is no work in the north. This is the very first time in my adult years that I have met anyone who attended the same public school as I did! A definite blast from the past.

Laundry day here at the little house in the city always has a decorative affect on the decor. Socks and underwear, t-shirts and trousers, festoon every horizontal line of furniture. It dries quickly in the arid atmosphere of the heated house, but is left overnight, so that it is bone dry when it is folded and put away. Diesel has decided that hanging socks are meant to be cat toys, he is one happy cat!

Today was grocery day. The list was compiled over several days, listed by store, to make each visit quick. The little house in the city offers a variety of choices when shopping for food, all of them appealing in different ways. For reasonably priced stock items, there is a NoFrills grocery store. For fresh produce there is a Walmart grocery section. For frozen items there is a local store that sells only frozen foods. Today the shopping trip was planned so as to visit stores in the order of items of increasing susceptibility to the cold. The items from the first store would have to wait in Tank while the items from the subsequent stores were being purchased. The frozen items were purchased first, the fresh vegetables, being most susceptible, were purchased last.

I have yet to get out for a “walk”! I am managing the knee exercises most days, missing a day here and there, but keeping up with it for the most part. But the walks just haven’t been feasible. There is snow on the roads, and that is where I began having issues with the knee, walking on snow. The sidewalks are impossibly snowy and rough, so the road is the only option at present. If we get a break from this arctic cold, the roads will clear quickly, and I will begin short walks on side streets. While I wait for clear roads, and eventually clear sidewalks, I make sure that I am out and about every day, walking the aisles of some store or other, for that little bit of walking.

Attila seems to be dealing well with this prolonged cold snap. He finds it much easier to cope with heating the house in the extreme cold when I am not living in the house he is trying to keep warm. If he fails to maintain it at a comfortable temperature, there is no one in the house who is suffering. Mist has a bed close to the masonry heater, and is quite content to curl up in that warm little nest, all day long. I however, require comfortable temperatures in other areas of the living area, like the kitchen. It isn’t healthy for me to sit in the one warm spot in the room all day long, without moving. When I am living at the little house in the city, with the thermostat at my command, there is no issue with comfortable indoor temperatures. In one sense, my absence takes a weight off Attila’s shoulders, if he “fails” to maintain a comfortable temperature, he is the only one to notice. Attila is used to working outdoors during these intense arctic episodes in the weather, so he hardly notices it when it is coolish in the house.

Worldly Distractions


Little House in the City

Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 16 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -26.0°C
Dewpoint: -31.3°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: W 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -33

-22°C (-7.6)
Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 20 February 2015
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -22.3°C
Dewpoint: -27.0°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: W 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -33 (-27.4)

Country House

-33°C (-27.4)
Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 16 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -33.4°C
Dewpoint: -37.0°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: NNW 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -38 (-36.4)

-27°C (-16.6)
Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 20 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -27.2°C
Dewpoint: -30.7°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: WNW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -36 (-32.8)


“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.”
Arlo Guthrie

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Aren’t modern conveniences nice sometimes, like central heating? It’s a wonder that so many homes over in the UK went so long without it. I always marveled at that little fact – no central heating so far into the 20th century – I’m sure most have it now, in the 21st, but I’ll bet there are still those outliers who are sticking to the old, old ways.

For us here in the frigid tundra formerly known as New England, central heat means the difference between life and death. There is a man, he is known on the radio as “Jim-in-the-Swamp” – he calls in to the WBZ Radio talk show ever so often and chats. He literally lives somewhere in Mass. (exact location is kept anonymous) in a swamp… well, swamp surrounds his spot in the woods. He’s within walking distance of civilization/stores but he only goes out there occasionally when his supplies are very low or gone. He is middle aged and is very intelligent and thoughtful. He tried many times to live the conventional life but he just loves to live with nature and he survives. It’s an amazing story, and I love listening to him when he calls in to speak with the host of the radio show, Dan Rea, and to let us all know (his fans!) that he has survived the latest drama here… I just am amazed at him. With temps here below 0 it boggles the mind that anyone could exist outside and still keep breathing!

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

Glad things are going well at the city house. With going to several grocery stores, you should be able to get a pretty good walk in by just being sure to travel every aisle.

I usually don’t get cabin fever in the winter but the extreme cold is bringing it on for me. That seems an odd thing to say when I hardly ever go out. I guess the cold just feels oppressive to me.

It’s certainly warm enough here in our little house. I’ve caught myself marvelling at being able to sit comfortably while looking outside at the extreme cold. I am concerned, though, that we’ll have a very high gas bill next month.