Hot Stuff

I am just now sitting down before the computer screen, it is 7:39 a.m.

I arose at 5 a.m., dressed quickly, unlocked the back door and went outside to stand in the middle of the back yard, to stare at the dim starry sky. I knew the Perseid Meteor Shower would be fading in the morning light, but it seemed worth a try to see it. After standing for ten minutes I was rewarded with one flash of a meteor, before the clouds silently engulfed and shrouded the sky.

I love the food at this time of year. We have a basket of Ontario field tomatoes, and a basket of Ontario peaches, and what what a daily feast they provide. I eat toasted tomato sandwiches, and enjoy peach smoothies all day long. Attila added tomatoes to our green salad last night. I don’t eat tomatoes at any other time of year. Local field tomatoes are flavourful, sweet and juicy, as compared to those offered in grocery stores which are like red cardboard imitations.

After eating a lovely breakfast consisting of a toasted tomato sandwich on rye, and a peach smoothie, my day’s activities began. The drought continues, so our bath and shower becomes grey water and is carefully saved in the tub, to be used to water the gardens. This morning I ladled many pailfuls of bath water, using them to refresh the lungwort, hosta lilies, and lilies in the front yard. These plants are not flourishing, but they are surviving, with such attention. I am sad to observe that the large tree in the next door neighbours front yard, which is beside our driveway, is suffering and it looks like it will die. We will miss the shade it provides!

It was too hot this morning for a walk, the temperature at 5 a.m. this morning was 25C, with a Humidex of 34, much too warm for me. At around 4 p.m. this afternoon the temperature rose to 37C (98.6), with a Humidex of 45C (113F). What a day! Attila heard that we were the hottest spot in Ontario today, could be.

I notice that there are daily cooling centres open all over the province, which is wonderful for those who do not have air conditioning. Attila works with very hot machines, in a large, well ventilated, but not air conditioned, space. These days he looks haggard when he arrives home. Thank goodness for our heat pump! It is a climate control unit, heating in the winter, cooling in the summer. Because our house is so very small, it is not outrageously expensive to keep it at a constant and comfortable 22.5C; the electricity bill is only $70 a month more than when the unit is not running at all, which is when the temperature outside is either below -7C (19.4F), or above 22.5C (72.5F).

Being housebound, this morning was a perfect opportunity to pay bills and attend to the pesky administrative side of life. Recently our home was reassessed to market value, which is far less than the value the property taxes were based on; our assessment went down by over a third, and is still probably a bit high. The upshot of this is that our tax bill went down by a third. We have already paid our taxes, and they don’t give rebates, so the amount owing back to us will be used against our 2017 property taxes. The process of applying for this reassessment is arduous, and it took many, many hours of my time to put together, and submit the evidence needed for the review process. It paid off though, and I wish I had done it sooner, as the amount we have been overpaying is quite significant, and the rebate only begins the year the reassessment judgement is made. This reassessment project took up copious amounts of my time over the last six months. As well, there was a rebate offer on the paint we bought to finish the garden shed, and that had to be applied for, which fell to me. The first time I submitted the forms they were rejected because I put the sale price on the form, rather than the manufacturers suggested price. The second time I submitted the forms the rebate was approved. Also, when we bought the dishwasher we were offered a $100 gift MasterCard as a bonus. The catch is it has to be applied for online. All went well until it I ran into a few confusing parts of the form, three telephone calls to the help centre got that straightened out, the customer service person, Alice, was excellent (good for you Whirlpool for hiring such a competent and pleasant person!). That was my project today, making sure we get our promised $100 gift card.

With these three projects of mine, the property reassessment, the paint rebate, and the dishwasher bonus gift card, we are able to pay for the new dishwasher. All it took was weeks of my time fiddling with all these forms and processes. I reckon it is worth it if I end up with a dishwasher. I like this particular cluster, or “roll of three” set of circumstances!

Well, I guess I’ll sign off for now. Saying we aren’t cool in Ontario!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

25°C
Date: 5:00 AM EDT Friday 12 August 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Temperature: 24.9°C
Dewpoint: 21.9°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SSW 16 km/h
Humidex: 34

33°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Friday 12 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 33.3°C
Dewpoint: 22.4°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: SW 29 gust 42 km/h
Humidex: 43

Quote

“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

How is this for annoying!

Well! I never!

I opened my mail this morning and found a letter from the City of Toronto. Curious! It was a parking ticket for $76 for an infraction on Yonge St. in downtown Toronto in early June. What!!!!

I don’t know what this is about, but I know the car was not in downtown Toronto in June, or at any other time. The last time we visited downtown Toronto was years and years ago, and even then we were nowhere near Yonge St.

What pisses me off is that now the onus is on me to either pay the ticket or dispute it. I called them, got transferred around until they hung up on me. I called them again, got transferred around until they hung up on me. I called a third time and finally found a human voice, a person who said the fine was paid and the car was a Mazda, my car is not a Mazda, I did not pay the fine. She gave me another number to call, and that fellow told me the fine had not been paid, the car ticketed was a Mazda, that I needed to send my documentation and proof to the dispute department by email. &*%#&(, they decide to mail me a ticket from out of nowhere, and now I have to produce PROOF that they made a mistake, and then they will CONSIDER my case. So, I wrote an email message with the details, and sent it to them.

This is harassment in my view, that some idiot can decide to mail out false tickets and then people have to struggle to get it straightened out, or pay the $76 fine, plus an additional $40 if you are late with your payment. Some people would find it easier just to pay the darn ticket, but quite frankly I am not in an income bracket to have that kind of money STOLEN out of my pocket by some idiot bureaucrat.

It is all well and good to make mistakes, but when the bureaucracy is so calcified in inefficiency that the mistake cannot be easily remedied, well, it amounts to small scale harassment, in my view.

And while I am complaining, I will add my recent experience with the Scarborough Hospital. When I found out that my brother had collapsed with a heart attack and was taken to that hospital, I called to find out how he was doing, and when I could come to see him. The woman who answered the call told me that he had been brought in, but that “he left”. A long drawn out interaction ensued as she insisted that “he left”, and I insisted that he was unconscious and could not have possibly left, and that she needed to find him! It was more than ten minutes of assertive discussion on my part before she finally discovered that he had been transferred to another hospital ICU, still unconscious. Good God! Shame on them for the insensitive ignorance in dealing with the family of a fatally ill patient.

OK, this kind of baloney happens in threes. That is two down, one to go. It will come from out of nowhere, and take me by surprise. But I know it is coming, the universe is on that roll of three, currently one of insensitive, officious bureaucracies.

I had better check the due dates on my library books! No, wait, I would love that number three was a small fine on overdue library books!

Today is outrageously hot, and humid. It is just past noon and already the humidex is 41C, which is 105.8 F. Yikes, the peak of the day’s heat isn’t even here yet.

I did go for my walk this morning, very early, 6:30 a.m., and it wasn’t too bad. By the time the dishwasher was delivered mid-morning, it was blistering hot out there. The delivery fellows were very nice, they delivered our washer and dryer last year, so they found us without any problem. They unpacked the unit and it looked fine, so I took delivery. Lets hope it is a good unit.

Well, I am going to end this entry with the third pending bureaucratic misery still hanging mysteriously over my head.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

34°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Thursday 11 August 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 28.2°C
Dewpoint: 20.4°C
Humidity:62%
Wind:S 22 km/h
Humidex: 41 (105.8)

Quote

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
Mahatma Gandhi
1869 – 1948

[Hear that Toronto bureaucrats! I am purifying my thoughts, so watch out!]

Rain!

When I arose this morning I had every intention of heading out for my walk before 6:30 a.m., having learned my lesson yesterday when out walking yesterday morning after 8 a.m. in the heat. Then I looked out the window. It was raining! When it ended there were still patches of dry pavement under the vehicles, so we did not receive a lot of rain, but some is better than none at this point. I would have gone walking in the rain, but when I looked at the thermometer it was already 25C, and the Humidex was over 30C. There would be no walk today, not in the outdoors at least.

As it turned out today, I didn’t stick my nose out the door at all. Instead I worked on my book.

The other activity that occupied my time today was cooking. Attila and I decided to give cooking a try during the mid priced hydro window, which is in the morning. I made a large batch of croutons in the oven, and cooked lentils with which I made a Lentil Salad. One thing always leads to another. My Lentil Salad called for raisins. The raisins we buy are bulk organic unsulphered raisins. It is a big, big box of raisins. To get just one cup I had to open up the entire big, big box. Once opened it needed to be repackaged. I filled four 1.5 litre mason jars, which made a small dent in the raisin supply. Not having any more large mason jars, I opted to seal the raisins in their plastic bag, seal that in a cardboard box, then store the box in a suitably sized tote which would keep out the mice, if we get any this fall. The Lentil Salad was so good that I felt it was worth all the kerfuffle to store the bulk raisins properly.

Lentil Salad

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils
– 1 medium red onion, diced
– 1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit)
– 1/3 cup capers
– Vinaigrette:
– 1/3 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
– 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
– 1 Tbsp. strong mustard
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 2 teaspoons pepper
– 1 teaspoon ground cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
– 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– Optional add-ins:
– Arugula
– Walnuts
– Goat cheese
– Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil
– Sprouts
– Crispy seasonal veggies

METHOD:

1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take about 20 minutes in total. You will know they are cooked if they still retain a slight tooth – al dente! Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful! 2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine. 3. Finely dice red onion – the salad is best if all the ingredients are about the same size. If using raisins, chop them roughly to make them a bit smaller, and do the same with the capers if they are large. 4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled slightly but still a little warm, place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add other onion, capers, and currants. If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.
SERVINGS: 4
SOURCE: http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2010/06/the-best-lentil-salad-ever-2/

===============

A telephone call was received to schedule the delivery of the dishwasher tomorrow. Another project! At least this project can be worked on inside the air conditioned house, which Attila will appreciate a lot. I dare not expect this job to be done any time soon, but I can dream!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 6:03 AM EDT Wednesday 10 August 2016
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 23.8°C
Dewpoint: 21.2°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SSW 21 gust 36 km/h
Humidex: 32 (This rose to 39 by mid afternoon.)

Quote

“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”
Eric Hoffer
1902 – 1983

[This is true of most people, but not all enemies.]

Cloudless Blue Sky

I know when the skies will cloud over. The Perseid meteor shower is due to arrive between August 11th and 12th, when humans would love to gaze into the sky and enjoy the show. I predict that we will have total cloud cover on August 11th and 12th, and no rain. It seems to be just that kind of a summer!

Relief from this heat wave is always just a few days away, but it never arrives. The weather people tease us with predictions of highs of 27C, but every day the temperature soars above 30C by early afternoon. I remember a friend telling me that when she lived in Minnesota a heat wave lasted so long that every time she listened to the weather report she wept. I understand now. It feels odd to be housebound due to extreme heat, but housebound I am.

The drought leaves only a few hardy weeds alive in the lawns around here. Everything else is brown and crunchy, in traveled areas the plants have desiccated and disintegrated leaving only paths of dusty earth. Trees are dying everywhere, leaves falling, leaving naked branches roasting in the hot dry sun. So far the trees in our yard are surviving, thank goodness. If we don’t get rain soon I can see us out there watering the trees, trying to keep our source of shade alive. Our garden is not thriving. The bean plants are no longer producing much, and we are only going to get a half dozen tomatoes. The Scarlet Runner beans are still alive and climbing, the few blooms are colourful and pretty, but they are producing no fruit.

Attila and I have taken to using all grey water for watering the gardens. Dish water and bath water are saved and carried out to the yard in buckets. If this is a long term weather trend rather than a uniquely dry summer, I will be researching grey water recovery systems for the house, and rain barrel water storage systems to collect rain when it does arrive. Surely it will rain soon!

I was going to try a Tai Chi class this week, but I don’t know if the Church where it is held is air conditioned, so I am not taking a chance that it isn’t, and have postponed attending until the heat wave abates. Instead I viewed and followed along with several beginner Tai Chi videos on YouTube, which felt good.

This morning I was late getting out for my walk, it was already after 8 a.m. when I headed out the door. Oh my it was hot walking! I walked slowly so as not to put too much strain on my system, managed to walk my entire route, and felt overheated by the time I arrived home. My new sun hat helped me tolerate the merciless rays along the shadeless portions of my travels.

Attila continues to work on the garden shed. He is making some headway, but the end is still some way off. It has been a much bigger project than he anticipated, and has been going on for nearly two months, rather than the two weeks he planned, and I expected (how very foolish). I will be very glad when it is finished!

We are enjoying Ontario grown peaches and field tomatoes right now, yum! I make a peach smoothie every day, just a ripe peach and milk, voila! A favourite lunch is a toasted tomato sandwich, there is nothing so lovely as a field ripened tomato! We added a new recipe to our repertoire this evening for supper, Bulgur Salad, which my Mom made last Saturday for the luncheon for my brother. It is very refreshing, and light enough for these hot summer days.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

31°
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Tuesday 9 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy – HA! not a cloud in the sky all day long!!
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 28.1°C
Dewpoint: 14.6°C
Humidity: 43%
Wind: SSE 10 km/h
Humidex: 33

Quote

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
Epictetus
55 AD – 135 AD

Resting in Peace

Yesterday the family laid my brother to rest. His ashes in my arms, my family and I walked him to his final resting place, shared memories, wept, and said goodbye. My Brother-The-Middle-Boy and I remained behind to stand by the graveside, and witness my brother’s burial, laid to rest beside our Father. I feel better knowing where he rests, and that he was placed there gently and with respect.

My Mom and sisters prepared a luncheon at my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl’s house, and there we gathered afterward. It was lovely, and it gave me the gift of peace. We are a diverse group of individuals, my immediate family, joined together by an enduring love for my dear departed brother, and for one another. There is beauty even in sad times.

Mom is doing well, it is very hard for her. She keeps busy taking care of the her “brood”, me, my sisters, my brothers, and the Grandchildren. She looked so beautiful yesterday.

My little brother at my Granny and Grandpa’s house in the 1970s. This is where we reunited last summer, when he was on vacation there, enjoying days of fishing out on the lake with a friend. He too loved my Granny and Grandpa, the house, and our memories. I am struck by how very fortunate I, and my siblings and cousins are, to belong to this very special special time and place, woven out of the wilderness by our Granny and Grandpa and our parents. My Brother-The-Youngest-Boy expressed the same sentiment at our luncheon, that we are very lucky to have had our Grandparent’s and their way of life in our lives.
LittleBrother1970sAtGrannys
A photo taken by my dear departed brother, in the 70s. He is standing just yards down the road from my Granny and Grandpa’s house, looking north. So many times my Granny took my brother and I for walks along this road! In the photo it is paved, but when we were small it was a gravel road, which would be oiled in the summer to keep the dust under control. Oh the joy of walking barefoot down that road, hot under the foot in the sunny spots, and oh so cool and smooth in the shade.

The farm house and barn in the distance belonged to my Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother, and that is where my Grandpa lived through much of his childhood. Later my Uncle Alec, a bachelor, would live there. We all loved to visit Uncle Alec, he was lively, sharp as a tack, and always smiling. My Brother-The-Youngest-Boy reminisced about gathering at Uncle Alec’s house to watch the hockey games in the 60s. Fellows would come from all around he said, to watch the game with Uncle Alec, who had one of the few television sets.

GrannysRoad

The heat wave continues, as does the drought. An unforgettable summer.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Sunday 7 August 2016
Condition:Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 17.6°C
Dewpoint: 14.2°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WNW 9 km/h

Quote

“…the safest course is to do nothing against one’s conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death.”
Voltaire
1694 – 1778