Still Here, But Just

Just an entry to boldly state that I’m still here and kicking.

I’ve been working six days a week, and feeling it. Another month of six days a week and then I think I’ll start turning down work for Saturdays and give myself a real weekend to rest.

On October 27 I came down with a doozy of a cold, compliments of a fellow worker, who is now off sick with pneumonia. This knocked him down and he is only in his thirties, so I feel quite impressed that I’m still up and fighting it at my age. I haven’t been really sick for almost twenty years, so this is a very shocking experience!

I’ve had lots of symptoms, congestion, sneezing, loss of voice, nose bleeds, cough, fever…

The last two nights I actually slept through the night, in a bed. Before that I’d been up most of the night, or grabbing a few winks through the night, sitting upright in a chair.

This week every day has seen some kind of improvement, thank goodness.

Nothing much new here, that I know or think of, because one doesn’t really notice very much in the world when firmly focused on one’s own nose!


Today we travelled to visit with my Mom, my sisters and my cousin and two of her children. I have not seen my cousin for almost two decades… maybe more, I can not remember the last time we saw each other. Attila and I drove three hours each way for the event, which was well worth the trip.

When we arrived home around 7:00 PM there was a message on the answering machine. The woman I worked with, who had the massive stroke resulting in a coma, the negative coworker from previous journal entries, passed away yesterday. She was 46 years old.

I feel sincere sympathy for her life partner, who must be devastated. I feel sad this terrible thing has happened to her. I do hope she knew that people visited her, sat by her bedside, talked to her, stroked her hand and that local church members prayed for her. I sincerely hope she is in a happier place.

I wonder if her passing has anything to do with the weighted mood I have been experiencing this weekend. Possibly. There is no way to tell with any certainty.

Domestic matters have taken a turn for the better for us. Attila did manage to fix the washing machine, so his weekly costly trips to the laundromat are no longer necessary. It will be light loads for the next while though, until it is certain the machine is running well.

On the Internet front, apparently a few months ago DSL became available here; the slowest DSL going, but faster than dialup by far. I remember when we moved here, a Bell Canada representative told me with confidence that DSL would be in our area in a few months. More than seven years later, it has arrived. We are going to give it a whirl. The filters should be installed this week, then I will need to configure it. With any luck we will have a high speed Internet connection by middle of this week.

Attila has arranged with a friend to do some welding work on the muffler of our little car, the one that is 13 years old. I have my fingers crossed that this attempt to fix it will be successful. Attila doesn’t have to travel far with this car, but it is essential for getting to and from work. There is no public transit here.

Another work day is on the horizon. We are both quite tired from our travels, so an early night is in order.

Worldly Distractions


9 °C
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 8.6°C
Dewpoint: 6.1°C
Humidity: 84 %


“No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.”
Lily Tomlin
1939 –

I Made Me Do It

Barn near our little house in the city.

Barn near our little house in the city.

My mind, while at work, is totally focused on the job at hand.  While I am driving too and from work my attention is totally absorbed by the road, and the roadsides as well as this is the season for moose and deer to venture out onto the pavement, attracted by warmth.  A portion of the day is taken up preparing to leave for work in the morning, and preparing for the next day in the evening.  Neither Attila or I have much in the way of discretionary time.

We use that discretionary time to perform personal tasks such as meal preparation, cleaning and of course traveling to and from the little house in the city, and all the projects we have undertaken at the little house.

Today, it all caught up with me.  I didn’t want to go to work!  I downright resented the whole idea of getting myself ready and heading out the door again, after putting in five full days of work.  Despite my internal resistance, I made me do it, go to work, and it was fine.  Oh to be two years old again and be able to pull out all the stops and have a full blown temper trantrum!!!  But who would listen, who would care?  Only Attila and he works the same long hours that I do, at a much more physically demanding job.  It would hardly seem fair to impose a temper tantrum on my fellow sufferer.  Besides, he would have every right to do exactly the same thing, and I wouldn’t enjoy that one little bit!

So here we are, two tired souls on a Saturday night.  I think we will take a break tonight, after dinner.  We will put our feet up and watch television.  Well, not television, we haven’t had television reception for a while now.  And not NetFlix because we haven’t had high speed Internet service for while now.  But, all is not lost.

I will explain.

We have a TV and DVD player at the little house in the city.  We actually have two CRT television sets donated to us, one from Terra and Lares and another from Luna and Janus.  We purchased a $20 DVD player and we were in business.  Terra and Lares lent us some of their DVDs which we have been watching occasionally since we were given the television sets.  We have watched and returned the DVDs to Terra and Lares, with many thanks.  While on vacation this month we were on the lookout for something interesting to view during the evenings, when it was too dark to work on painting the exterior siding.

While grocery shopping we came across a DVD package of the complete television series “The 4400”.  I’d never heard of the series, we found it in a discount bin and it seemed that it could be interesting.  And the price was right, $20 for the entire series, four seasons, so we took a chance.

We have been enjoying one episode per evening ever since.  There are still a few episodes left to watch and tonight we will close the blinds, put up our feet, put the DVD in the player and watch the end of the series.

But until then, Attila is out in the yard dealing with the autumn leaves.  I am sorting through bills, sizing up the bank account to see how and when these little gems can be paid.

Sitting here I just noticed the reflection of dancing flames in my monitor, from the masonry heater.  Attila has spent the last week curing the masonry heater and today is our first full firing.

I turned to feel the warmth and caught site of Mist, grooming herself in her basket which is strategically placed in front of the roaring fire.  Happy place, this is a happy place.  And I am in it.

Well, it just doesn’t get any better than that, by my reckoning.

Worldly Distractions


8 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 8.2°C
Dewpoint: 1.8°C
Humidity: 64 %


“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”
Samuel Johnson
1709 – 1784


“Samuel Johnson was the son of Michael Johnson, a bookseller, and his wife, Sarah. From childhood he suffered from a number of physical afflictions. By his own account, he was born “almost dead,” and he early contracted scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands)…

In 1728 Johnson entered Pembroke College, Oxford. He stayed only 13 months, until December 1729, because he lacked the funds to continue. Yet it proved an important year. While an undergraduate, Johnson, who claimed to have been irreligious in adolescence, read a new book, William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, which led him to make concern for his soul the polestar of his life. Despite the poverty and pride that caused him to leave, he retained great affection for Oxford. …

In 1735 Johnson married Elizabeth Porter, a widow 20 years his senior. Convinced that his parents’ marital unhappiness was caused by his mother’s want of learning, he would not follow their example, choosing instead a woman whom he found both attractive and intelligent. His wife’s marriage settlement enabled him to open a school in Edial, near Lichfield, the following year…

A Dictionary of the English Language was published in two volumes in 1755, six years later than planned but remarkably quickly for so extensive an undertaking. The degree of Master of Arts, conferred on him by the University of Oxford for his Rambler essays and the Dictionary, was proudly noted on the title page. Johnson henceforth would be known in familiar 18th-century style as “Dictionary Johnson” or “The Rambler.”…

Throughout much of his adult life Johnson suffered from physical ailments as well as depression (“melancholy”). After the loss of two friends, Henry Thrale in 1781 and Robert Levett in 1782, and the conclusion of The Lives of the Poets, his health deteriorated. Above all, his chronic bronchitis and “dropsy” (edema), a swelling of his legs and feet, caused great discomfort. In 1783 he suffered a stroke… He died on December 13 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.”



Basement Stairs at the Little House in the City

Basement Stairs at the Little House in the City. Note the carpeting on the bottom riser, that is what covered the stairs when we took possession of the house a little over a year ago. It was drenched in mildew and covered with mouse droppings.

Attila and I have enjoyed two weeks vacation this autumn. Attila isn’t allowed to take vacation days between April 1 and August 31, which leaves us with either winter, early spring or autumn. Autumn wins, hands down.

As it was last year, this year our vacation was spent renovating. The weather was amazing, wonderful, great the whole two weeks we were away.

Our big project was painting the exterior siding of the house. We completed the front, and both ends of the house, but not the back. We simply ran out of time, it was such a big job. However, the great thing is that the neighbours cannot see the back of the house, so to them the job seems finished.

We are tickled every time one of the neighbours tells us how great the house looks, how “cute” it is. The cuteness comes from being tiny, at 740 square feet it is more a cottage than anything else.

The thing that really slowed us down on the painting project was a little problem with the water supply. The water main in front of our house was leaking and causing havoc in the neighbourhood. Everyone near us had an issue with constantly running sump pumps. Our basement was really, really wet, water seeping up from the floor, along the walls.

Before we knew what the problem was, we decided that we should immediately install a sump pump. Our little house in the city had never had a sump pump. This was not in our plans for our vacation projects.

So we rented a jack hammer and Attila set to work breaking through the floor in the basement and digging a sump hole. He had quite a time, it was clay and saturated with water. It took him all of one day, and by evening he had the whole thing hooked up and pumping water. The 100 litre hole was filing every 30 minutes, courtesy of our public water utility.

A city utilities truck showed up on the last Friday of our vacation and declared that there was a significant leak in the public water main. No kidding! He told Attila repairs would commence on the following Monday, after we had to return home.

We waited in anticipation on our subsequent trip to our little house. Would the basement be flooded? Were we facing a weekend of damage control? The fellow from the utilities had told us our yard was a “real mess”; how bad was it?

When we walked in the door the following Saturday evening we both headed straight for the stairs to the basement. It seemed a lot dryer. The sump hole was dry, completely dry. Not even an inch of water remained in our sump hole!

What a relief.

The condition of our yard was not as bad as we had feared. Although far from level, it is flat enough to walk on. The utilities guy said they would come in the spring and “fix” it. So we will ignore it until after they have come and gone.

Now we need to dig around the perimeter of the house, waterproof the exterior basement walls and install a drainage system along the footings of the house. We will have to remove our lovely concrete front porch to accomplish this. It was caving in anyway, and would need to be replaced eventually. That is our project for next year’s vacation!

Our other projects included installing a door to the basement (a safety measure for Mist, and kids and dogs too), a new basement window and new fascia along the back porch. We hadn’t intended to replace the fascia this year, but Attila leaned on the existing evestrough and it literally fell off the side the house, taking part of the existing rotten fascia with it. Thank goodness it came down when no one was under it!

We did manage one day of rest, to go for a drive, and eat at McDonald’s. McDonald’s is the only restaurant that knows what is in all of their food and is also willing to tell the public. This means that I can eat at McDonald’s because the presence of my allergen is clearly stated in the literature.

We are home again now, and tired from our vacation.

On Monday we began the process of curing our masonry heater. The house was very cold when we got back to the north after being away. Our heating season has begun. It was 14C in the house on Sunday and Monday night, and now Attila has it warmed up to around 17C.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy sitting in front of the fire every morning, partially dozing over my morning cup of coffee.

So here we are, back home again!

Worldly Distractions


7 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 6.6°C
Dewpoint: 5.7°C
Humidity: 94 %
Wind: SW 4 km/h


“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

James M. Barrie
1860 – 1937


James M. Barrie

“Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan…

Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Angus, to a conservative Calvinist family. His father David Barrie was a modestly successful weaver. His mother, Margaret Ogilvy, had assumed her deceased mother’s household responsibilities at the age of eight. Barrie was the ninth child of ten (two of whom died before he was born), all of whom were schooled in at least the three Rs, in preparation for possible professional careers. He was a small child (he only grew to 5 ft 3½ in. according to his 1934 passport), and drew attention to himself with storytelling.
When he was 6 years old, Barrie’s next-older brother David (his mother’s favourite) died two days before his 14th birthday in an ice-skating accident. This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David’s place in his mother’s attentions, even wearing David’s clothes and whistling in the manner that he did. One time Barrie entered her room, and heard her say ‘Is that you?’ ‘I thought it was the dead boy she was speaking to,’ wrote Barrie in his biographical account of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy (1896), ‘and I said in a little lonely voice, “No, it’s no’ him, it’s just me.”‘ Barrie’s mother found comfort in the fact that her dead son would remain a boy forever, never to grow up and leave her…

Barrie used his considerable income to help finance the production of commercially unsuccessful stage productions. Along with a number of other playwrights, he was involved in the 1909 and 1911 attempts to challenge the censorship of the theatre by the Lord Chamberlain…

Barrie died of pneumonia on 19 June 1937 and is buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings. He left the bulk of his estate (excluding the Peter Pan works, which he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland.”



Mullein: The Perfect Plant for Planters

Mullein: The Perfect Plant for Planters

Last summer I tried to grow a garden on the deck at our country house.  We only harvested a few tomatoes and not much else  It was extremely disappointing.

This past summer we planted a small garden at our little house in the city.  We got a healthy crop of zucchini and more than a bushel of tomatoes, sweet and juicy.

There is one very big planter on the deck at our country house.  I meant to plant flowers in it, I really did.  But working three jobs kept me too busy to think about flowers, or anything else related purely to pleasure.  But something grew in the planter, naturally.  A mullein had taken up residence in the planter; from where it came I do not know.  Over the summer it grew and I found it quite attractive.  It withstood the three week “drought” in August, without watering on my part.  I will leave it over the winter and see if it can survive our cold climate in a planter.  I may just have found the perfect ornamental garden plant; or more aptly, it found me.

Attila is out in the yard burning scrap firewood.  There are pieces of firewood that just will not adapt themselves to use in a wood burning stove or masonry heater.  We have been collecting these stubborn little logs for seven years now.  Some have begun to rot, others maintain their original knarliness.  Attila stayed up most of a night a few weeks ago, burning these unusable and punky pieces of wood.  Tonight he is finishing the job.  I’ll see him at the breakfast table tomorrow, as I won’t be waiting up for him.

We are pretty much “nose to the grindstone” right now.  Attila has been working a lot of overtime, over and above the six days a week he normally works.  I’ve been working six days a week.  We are tired.

Adjusting to dialup is a challenge.  The biggest inconvenience is that I cannot use the telephone while I am on the Internet.  Very irritating.

Attila and Hogan had a good look at the washing machine last Sunday, during Harriet and Hogan’s visit.  Two of the four shock absorbers were broken.  Yesterday Attila ordered new shock absorbers for the washing machine.  They should arrive by next week and by the end of October we will either have a working washing machine or have resigned ourselves to Plan B, the laundromat.

The muffler on Attila’s car continues of announce his presence.  It will be several weeks before Attila turns his attention to the car.

So, none of our mini-disasters have been resolved comfortably, but none of them have caused upset either.  It seems balanced.

Luna and Janus are moving again, not far from where they live now.  Another new house.  Three homes in one year, quite a bit of moving around for little people who have only been on the planet for five and two years respectively.  Imp and Elf will stay in the same school though, which is a big plus.

Terra continues to work shifts that rotate almost daily. She has been doing this for a while now and has seemed seriously tired when we see her. On our last visit though she seemed a lot more rested than she has in a long time. Perhaps she is acclimatizing to her challenging and ever changing schedule.

And so here we are, at the end of September! The leaves are bright and cheerful reds and yellows; bright even in the rain. I leave for work just before the sun comes up over the horizon. As the light quickens during my journey, it is difficult to keep my eyes on the road, the trees are putting on such a show and beckon my attention at every turn.

Worldly Distractions


18 °C
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 18.0°C
Dewpoint: 16.3°C
Humidity: 90 %
Wind: SE 8 km/h


“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.
1900 – 1965


Adlai Ewing Stevenson II
“…an American politician, noted for his intellectual demeanor, eloquent oratory, and promotion of liberal causes in the Democratic Party…

Stevenson was raised in the city of Bloomington, Illinois; his family was a member of Bloomington’s upper class and lived in one of the city’s well-to-do neighborhoods. At the age of twelve Stevenson accidentally killed Ruth Merwin, a 16-year-old friend, while demonstrating drill technique with a rifle, inadvertently left loaded, during a party at the Stevenson home…

In 1928 Stevenson married Ellen Borden, a well-to-do socialite. The young couple soon became popular and familiar figures on the Chicago social scene…

He classified himself as a Unitarian. Adlai Stevenson: “I think that one of our most important tasks is to convince others that there’s nothing to fear in difference; that difference, in fact, is one of the healthiest and most invigorating of human characteristics without which life would become meaningless. Here lies the power of the liberal way: not in making the whole world Unitarian [Universalist], but in helping ourselves and others to see some of the possibilities inherent in viewpoints other than one’s own; in encouraging the free interchange of ideas; in welcoming fresh approaches to the problems of life; in urging the fullest, most vigorous use of critical self-examination.”…

While walking in London with Marietta Tree through Grosvenor Square, Stevenson suffered a heart attack on the afternoon of July 14, 1965, and died later that day of heart failure at St George’s Hospital.”
The second of four well-known Adlai Stevensons

Adlai Stevenson I (1835–1914), U.S. Vice President (1893–1897) and Congressman (1879–1881)

Adlai Stevenson II (1900–1965), Governor of Illinois (1949–1953), U.S. presidential candidate (1952 and 1956), U.N. Ambassador (1961–1965), grandson of Adlai Stevenson I

Adlai Stevenson III (born 1930), U.S. Senator (1970–1981), Illinois State Representative (1965–1967), candidate for Illinois governor (1982 and 1986), son of Adlai Stevenson II

Adlai Stevenson IV (born 1956), journalist, son of Adlai Stevenson III