I want, I want, I want!

Thursday I worked a full day with a wonderful woman. I find that I look forward to any day I am working with her. She is diligent, intelligent, has oodles of common sense and is basically kind hearted. There are no unnecessary confrontations with customers on her watch and she breezes through sales interactions with some very, very rude people. I am always amazed when an affluent person begins a conversation using rude tones and is confrontational over price increases that can be counted in pennies. Some wealthy people seem amazingly unhappy (and willing to share their misery), for people who have achieved “success” and have “made it”. Others are relaxed and friendly, the majority of the population is relaxed and friendly really, the exceptions are notable because they are exceptions, thank goodness.

The autumn colours are stunning this year. We had feared that they would be muted and drab after the prolonged drought during the summer, but this is not the case. It has rained regularly throughout the month of September and into October. The marshes are rejuvenated and the water levels almost back to what they were last spring. I love the autumn season, the wind and rain, scudding clouds above and the wealth of colour below.

This is day four of the curing process for the masonry heater. I did the first burn early this morning, and sat with my coffee watching the flames. The fires began small, eight pieces of one inch kindling. There is little heat to be gained during the first few days, the refractory core is not charging yet. There is some heat through the glass during the burn, so that is helping to warm the house. Right now the temperature has risen to 17C; it was 12C when we arrived home on Monday night. On Monday next we will have our first full fire and the core of the masonry heater will begin to charge, and to radiate heat.

I am trying to organize and clean our country house. What a tip! Both of us have been working full time over the last year and things just don’t get done unless they become critical; dust bunnies and the like never reach our critical list, nor does organizing our living space and belongings. Food has been stored wherever it fit at the time it came into the house. Clothing has been piled high on the dressers, clean, folded and awaiting sorting and storing. Piles of filing and paper records of issues to be addressed sit in various piles around the living room.

The mess left when a can of tomatoes rusted through and was undetected for who knows how long.

I began with the food and am still organizing the kitchen and food storage areas. Evidence of the length of time that has taken place since I last organized the food came by way of a burst can of tomatoes. What a mess, and it had been sitting for quite some time, turning black and mouldy in the cupboard. It was quite a cleanup, but the aqueous oxygen really worked well to destroy the mould and the spores in the cupboard. All done now.

Today Attila and I are preparing a turkey dinner, a belated celebration feast of Thanksgiving. Last evening we were been busy toasting bread ends to make the stuffing. We save and store all bread ends and scraps in the in the freezer, using up every last bit of them for either stuffing or homemade croutons. Attila will prepare his special turkey dressing when he gets home from work today, and then we will get the turkey into the oven for a wonderful meal this evening, and tomorrow evening.

I keep finding things I want. These are not things I need, they are things I want. I know the difference. For instance, I want a pressure canner, this pressure canner. I want one of these lanterns that run on a tea light, for times when the power is out, which is common in the country. I want to taste coconut again, it has been almost thirty years since I have tasted coconut, because of the preservatives used in preparing dried coconut. I found unsulphured coconut for the first time! That about sums up my present wish list. Can you tell I grew up on a farm?

I had a long chat with the father-in-law this morning, Attila isn’t here as he works Saturdays. This branch of the family is very impressed with wealth and “success”, so it is always work to talk to them. They are allowed their own points of view of course, it is the assumption that what they find valuable and admirable is shared universally that is tiresome. The conversations are usually extremely one-sided. Luckily I am a good listener and not at all concerned with bringing them around to my way of thinking. They are who they are.

Worldly Distractions


8 °C
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dewpoint: 1.1°C
Humidity: 64 %
Wind: SSE 21 km/h


“Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth. And set down as gain each day that Fortune grants.”
Horace 65 BC – 8 BC
[fortune granted this man more than an equal share in wealth, influence and talent]

Chimney Sweep, among other things…

Attila and I had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. Attila worked Saturday, as usual. After he arrived home we packed a few belongings into the car and headed for the little house in the city. The drive was wonderful! The leaves on the Canadian Shield are at their peak of colour, and it was quite a show, what with white clouds floating in the blue sky above and brilliant greens, oranges, yellows and reds below. We enjoyed the trip immensely.

We made a few stops along the way. One at a frozen food discount store, where we purchased some frozen Jamaican patties as a treat (we had them for dinner Saturday night and they were dreadful!). We also made a quick stop at an apple store along the way. The apples were local and fresh, also a reasonable price. We purchased a half bushel of Spy (my favorite for eating and cooking) and of Mutsu (Attila’s choice), as well as locally grown garlic. All the garlic available in our grocery stores here is from China, we prefer to buy locally grown garlic but it is very difficult to find. I was thrilled to find a stainless steel wide mouthed funnel for canning. I have been looking for more than a decade for one of these funnels. I have several plastic wide mouthed funnels, but will not use them for hot food, as I don’t trust plastic at all in terms of chemical exposure. Now that I have the stainless steel funnel I will discard the plastic funnels. In my dreams I am buying a pressure canner, metal on metal seal. I checked the price on them, and right now getting this particular pressure canner is only a dream.

Sunday morning I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. I waited until 5:30 to awake Attila. I had a surprise for him, giant oven pancake and freshly homemade applesauce, made from the Spy apples. We had a leisurely breakfast, a cozy chat over coffee and then set about getting ready to perform the tasks we had allocated for ourselves that day.

Attila replaced the bathroom “window” with a new, energy efficient window.

For some reason a previous renovator had installed a storm window as an inside window, opening from the inside, and a second storm window on the outside, opening from the inside. Neither of these windows were particularly well sealed, and they certainly were not energy efficient. To boot, they were coated with mildew, inside and out. Attila stripped the trim and removed the inner storm window during our wait for 9 a.m., when we could reasonably begin using power tools that could be heard in the outdoors.

The inside of the bathroom window is finished, but for the trim.

The outside of the new bathroom window, thinking about putting additional trim around it, haven’t decided yet.

I was waiting for the stores to open. Attila had forgotten to bring Vycor for the window job, so I needed to search for and purchase either Vycor or a suitable substitution. I also had a few things on our grocery list to pick up, as Terra and Lares were coming for brunch on Monday morning. While waiting for the rest of the world to wake up and get going, I tidied the kitchen and did some organizing of materials.

By Sunday night Attila had the new window in and ready for interior trim. I had the construction debris under control.

Monday morning we had a lovely brunch with Terra and Lares, consisting of sausages, French Toast, pancakes, real maple syrup and freshly homemade applesauce. We had a lovely visit, although Terra was increasingly tired, since she had worked the night shift and had not yet had any sleep. After Terra and Lares headed home, Attila and I packed up our things and headed home ourselves. This trip we left the furnace running, at 7C, just in case it gets really cold before we can get back for another visit. It was nice to have the new energy efficient window installed in the bathroom before heating season began.

The country house was 12C when we got home. Mist was not impressed, and did not mind letting us know how she felt. Attila built a fire downstair immediately, which mollified Mist somewhat.

This morning I’ve been tending a downstairs fire started by Attila before he left for work this morning. The temperature upstairs is now 22C and I am quite comfortable in my old t-shirt, work pants and bare feet. Mist is luxuriously stretched out near the wood stove downstairs, dreaming cat dreams in her now perfect world.

I’ve had a few things I wanted to accomplish this morning. One was to finish filling the last of the 4 litre jars that I had purchased last week, for food storage. The last two jars received their contents of chick peas and dried basil respectively. Now all of the dozen jars are filled, with flours and beans and other dried goods. Now I have sufficient supplies in the kitchen to cook properly, without having to rummage through bags in the cupboard. Also, these jars are mouse proof, and insect proof and safe from a chemical/hormone leaching point of view. Perfect for us.

Heating season is upon us and it is time to cure the masonry heater. BUT it hadn’t been cleaned after the last heating season. We brought home our shop vac to accomplish the task of cleaning the wood heater. I removed several small garbage bags of ash by hand, with a small scoop. Dirty, dirty work is chimney cleaning. I was black to the shoulder on one arm from reaching in to dislodge small bits of creosote and oodles of grey ash from the deep interior of the heater. The shop vac helped, but could not reach the nooks and crannies the way I could with my scoop. It took a few hours, but the job is done! Tomorrow I begin to cure the masonry heater for the heating season.

Cleaning the masonry heater chimney; a dirty, dirty, dirty job!

Worldly Distractions


11 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 11.0°C
Dewpoint: 4.7°C
Humidity: 65 %
Wind: S 28 gust 42 km/h


“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”
Thomas Jefferson
1743 – 1826

“Jocko’s Sadness”

I read the book Brother Fish, by Bryce Courtney, with interest. It was an engaging book, although most of the female characters were rough sketches. One of the significant concepts in the book was the camaraderie born of shared traumatic experiences, in this case the Korean War. The characters, once depending on one another for survival, developed deep, abiding and respectful relationships with one another. They also had times when the burden of knowledge of reality was so great that they had to drop away from the superficiality of the status quo to reorient, to compensate for the cold unreality of consumer based social interactions. The book called these times of reorientation, “Jocko’s Sadness”.

I think there are quite a few Canadians [and all humans today], of all ages and genders, who understand “Jocko’s Sadness” all too well.

This is Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, so I’d like to send kind thoughts to all those who experience “Jocko’s Sadness”, in way of giving thanks to the universe for creating some terrific people.

Worldly Distractions


9 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 9.0°C
Dewpoint: 6.2°C
Humidity: 83 %
Wind: WSW 9 km/h


“. . . besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child.”
Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One


An interview with Bryce Courtney, who in my opinion harbours a great respect for people, the journalist not so much…


Nothing Like Experience

The view from our kitchen window this morning, October 3, 2012.

I did not abandon my youth easily or willingly. It came late in life and left abruptly. I was old before it arrived and old in the same measure after it left. I count myself lucky that it ever existed at all. And who knows, I may get another crack at it yet!

Early morning thoughts.

The autumn leaves are just beginning to change colour. Red and yellow, orange and green and all that lies between them are just outside my window. There is to be rain today, but it hasn’t begun and the the sun is playfully peeping through the trees for now.

I have a few errands on my list that will take me out of doors and must try to accomplish them before the skies cloud over. One is to wash the car exterior.

After taking the car into the dealership when water leaked into the passenger compartment, it has needed to be cleaned and the floor mats returned to their rightful positions. The dealership found nothing wrong with the car, but admitted it was full of water for unknown reasons. At first they were going to charge me for checking it, but upon discussion decided to reseal the car and dry it out free of charge. Toyota. I will be calling them to let them know if it is leaking this week. So far, it has remained dry. We still have no idea why it filled up with water, it poured in on my feet as if a cup was emptying! We hope it won’t happen again.

I will also hang a load of laundry out to dry and try to remember to collect it before the rain begins later today.

Yesterday I received a call after 8 a.m. asking me to fill in for someone who called in sick. Since it was a short drive, I accepted and went in to work for three hours, my first work of the month. I have another three hours booked later in the month.

Today I intend to putter in the kitchen and work on my genealogy book.

I finally found a place to purchase 4 litre, wide mouthed glass jars to use as food canisters. I do not trust plastic for long term storage, in part because mice can chew right through it. I will be picking up the jars this week; then I’ll be busy filling and organizing them.

I grew up on a farm. My mother canned and we had a large freezer. We did not use value added foods, with a few exceptions, such as bread and pasta and the occasional can of baked beans or tomato soup. We ate food prepared from raw ingredients. I loved to cook and became a Home Economics teacher. I was very interested in domestic independence and have developed exceptional skills in that area. Skills developed by most who lived on farms before the fifties and sixties.

As a Home Economics teacher I watched the decline in skills taught to the young regarding nutrition and food preparation. When my girls were in urban schools these things were not taught by qualified teachers, if they were taught at all, and were often merely “electives” taught outside the regular curriculum without guidelines. The quality of instructional content was abysmal. I doubt it has improved over the years.

On the Internet I see young people attempting to revisit these skills, learning from scratch, painfully reinventing the wheel, and am saddened. In less than a generation our culture has lost its ability to pass on basic knowledge and skills for maintaining health. The young people, all from urban backgrounds as far as I can tell, are unaware that there are many women, from rural backgrounds, who possess incredible knowledge and skill at in the field of nutrition and food preparation. These women are a living history it would seem, one that is ignored by the urban young.

Age groups seem to have become extremely insular and self-referencing on the Internet, and perhaps in the real world as well. Healthy communities include all members and generations, each valued for their special qualities. Our North American culture is suffering from unbridled agism.

Worldly Distractions


14 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 14.1°C
Dewpoint: 11.7°C
Humidity: 85 %


“I’m struck by the insidious, computer-driven tendency to take things out of the domain of muscular activity and put them into the domain of mental activity. The transfer is not paying off. Sure, muscles are unreliable, but they represent several million years of accumulated finesse.”
Brian Eno, Wired 1/99, p. 176


Brian Eno

“Brian Eno was born in 1948 at Phyllis Memorial Hospital, Woodbridge, Suffolk, and was educated at St Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, which was founded by the St John le Baptiste de la Salle order of Catholic brothers (from whom he took part of his name when a student there),[5] at Ipswich Art School in Roy Ascott’s Groundcourse and the Winchester School of Art, graduating in 1969. In school, he used a tape recorder as a musical instrument and experimented with his first, sometimes improvisational, bands. St. Joseph’s College teacher and painter Tom Phillips encouraged him, recalling “Piano Tennis” with Eno, in which, after collecting pianos, they stripped and aligned them in a hall, striking them with tennis balls.

Brian Eno has been active politically throughout his life, frequently writing letters to government ministers, appearing on political debates, and writing newspaper columns to express his political views. He was sharply critical of the Thatcher government’s decision to reduce funding to the BBC World Service, arguing that the £5 million cut to its £25 million budget was damaging, and was the equivalent cost of “just one wing of one F-16 fighter jet”- a reference to a large order of military hardware the government had just made.

In 1996, Eno and others started the Long Now Foundation to educate the public about the very long term future of society.[34] He is also a columnist for the British newspaper The Observer.
In 2003, he appeared on a UK Channel 4 discussion about the Iraq war with a top military spokesman; Eno was highly critical of the war. In 2005, he spoke at an anti-war demonstration in Hyde Park, London. In March 2006, he spoke at an anti-war demonstration at Trafalgar Square; he noted that 2 billion people on this planet do not have clean drinking water, and that water could have been supplied to them for about one-fifth of the cost of the Iraq war.[citation needed]
The Nokia 8800 Sirocco Edition mobile phone features exclusive music composed by Eno. Between 8 January 2007 and 12 February 2007, ten units of Nokia 8800 Sirocco Brian Eno Signature Edition mobile phones, individually numbered and engraved with Eno’s signature were auctioned off. All proceeds went to two charities chosen by Eno: the Keiskamma Aids Treatment program and The World Land Trust.
In 2006, Eno was one of more than 100 artists and writers who signed an open letter calling for an international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions.

In December 2007, the newly-elected Leader of Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, appointed Eno as his youth affairs adviser.
In January 2009, Eno spoke out against Israel’s military action on the Gaza Strip by writing an opinion for CounterPunch and participating in a large-scale protest in London.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Eno

There and Back Again

I’ve been to visit the Grandbabies!

They carried on with their day-to-day activities: breakfast, school, swimming lessons, homework and playtime. So bright and delightful. I am biased, no doubt about it. I am their Gramma after all!

Luna has her hands full, taking care of her small house, which is under renovation, and these three interactive whirlwinds. She begins the day before light and doesn’t sit down until after nine in the evening. This is what she always dreamed of doing, staying home to raise a family, so despite the obvious challenges, she is living her dream. Lucky husband, lucky kids!

I remember talking to a woman in the waiting room at the hospital a few years back. She said that she moved to Canada from England, leaving her mother and father and siblings, to start a new life with her husband. She said that at the time she didn’t consider how her mother might have felt with her daughter and Grandchildren living so very far away. But when she became a Grandmother herself, she realized how much she had taken away from Mother, she felt it had been very hard on her Mother. I am sure it was.

Today I have been baking bread, four loaves of bread to be exact. I decided to use up the bits of 12 grain cereal and large flake oats in my cupboard by adding them to my bread. One thing led to another and now the contents of my kitchen cupboards are spread all over our living space. It is a huge mess. When I put everything back it will be well ordered and all of the little bits of food in jars will be left on the counter to be incorporated into our meals over the next while. I’ve spent the entire day on this, and it feels great!

So far in September I have been offered six hours of work. The thing is, I like being at home, I really like it. As the time passes I am more and more relaxed and motivated, despite the misery of the active job search.

Last week Attila managed to find reasonably priced pine flooring for our little house in the city. The catch is, it is badly and unevenly stained by the elements. This works for us because I want white floors, and we can paint the pine white then treat it with several layers of low VOC urethane. We won’t have time to put in new flooring right away, because I am very, very keen to address the issues in the bathroom. When the bathroom is redone then we can turn our attention elsewhere.

We will be helping Terra and Lares as they move into their house, taking a short vacation from our own renovations. It will seem luxurious to leave the chaos of renovation at their house!

A short entry, the day caught up with and passed me!