Blogmas Day 23: Bug

Somehow I’ve caught a tummy bug, with accompanying cramps and chills. I have been bundled up under my crocheted blanket, cozy on my easy chair, all morning.

Another cloudy, dreary day out there. It is so warm and welcoming in Mist Cottage. When I am not feeling well I love the sounds the house makes. The ticking of the clock, the dull roar as the furnace fires up, the sound of the furnace fan as it blows warm air all over the place, and the muffled sounds of Attila’s activities, as he putters around doing his thing. There is snow on the ground here, and sounds out there are muffled and muted, barely perceptible.

I don’t like feeling ill, but it does slow one down enough to “smell the roses”.

Hoping this thing passes quickly, there is a lot of good eating coming up!



Date: 11:00 AM EST Sunday 23 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.5°C
Dew point: -9.7°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: E 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 24 km


“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
Will Rogers
1879 – 1935

Blogmas Day 22: Green Beans

The first day of winter has arrived. I awoke at 5:00 a.m., wandered into the living room, turned on the Christmas lights, and fired up the laptop. It was still dark outside at 6:30 a.m., and I assume it will be another dreary, grey day. Now that people have moved into the rental units, we have streetlights behind the house as well as in front of the house. This affects the interior lights and shadows, and will take a bit of getting used to. No nightlights needed to see our way around after dark.

Attila and I went grocery shopping last night. The store wasn’t that busy, which was surprising, considering how close to Christmas it is. We bought a few wee treats for Christmas Day, a bit of chocolate, a few light crisps, fresh fruit, and fruit juices. Hopefully it won’t be necessary to venture out again until late next week.

The sun came out in the afternoon, and the temperature rose just above freezing, so the snow on the roof drip, drip, dripped down.

Attila decided he wanted to do BBQ chicken, his favourite. I won’t be eating it, it isn’t my favourite. While he has the charcoal BBQ fired up, he will also cook a package of sausages. Attila loves his meat, and he is very fond of processed meats. They aren’t really good for anyone, but they relieve stress for him, after a miserable day’s work, so there is an indirect health benefit. Of course, I rarely eat processed meats, although I do find them tasty, they make me feel crappy, and they are very high in sodium and saturated fats, two things I have to watch carefully.

Since Attila was cooking his own dinner, I cooked my own. I love Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice and Mixed Vegetables, so that is what I made for myself. I used the Instant Pot, and water from cooked green beans for the water in the recipe, and it was oh so good.

This autumn a local retail outlet was selling 2 kg bags of french cut green beans for $1.99, which is an excellent price in our area. It turns out they are a little bit tough. Attila decided to have them with his BBQ chicken, so I offered to cook them in the Instant Pot for him. That is a YES, they were tender and tasty and almost like fresh green beans from the garden. I cooked them for 4 minutes, after putting one cup of water in the pot, then adding the butterfly steamer, then pouring in the green beans. After pressing the pressure cook button, it was just a matter of waiting until the pressure button dropped and opening the lid.

The Instant Pot can take less than top grade vegetables and meat, and turn them into something delicious, something to look forward to.

I was thinking today about the popularity of twitter and instagram and youtube, short on language, high on images. I used images and icons to teach people who could not speak to communicate. However, learning from images and icons does not necessarily provide the thinking skills needed to read and understand written language. Communication skills had to be taught independently of written language. It seems that the general population is focusing on communication skills, almost to the exclusion of written language. I feel sad about that.

This online writing of mine is becoming less and less mainstream. I thought about videos, about twitter, about Instagram. But I like it here. I like the written word. I like reading it. I like writing it. I’ve never been much of a follower, and I don’t think I’ll be following the trendy visual and truncated language route to communicate. I will continue to write full sentences, as many as I would like.

Then I was thinking that eventually no one would be reading what I write. That the written word, my written words in particular, will sink into obscurity, as the population loses its ability to effectively read prose. Then I thought, well, there will be some who continue to read the written word, and they will probably be the kind of people I would respect. That isn’t so bad, that what I write might be read by a literate soul, even if the majority of souls have no access to the written word, having lost the ability to atrophy.

In the now though, I enjoy writing, and that, above all else, is why I do it.



Date: 2:00 PM EST Saturday 22 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.6°C
Dew point: -5.4°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: WNW 24 gust 35 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 24 km


“He felt about books as doctors feel about medicines, or managers about plays – cynical, but hopeful.”
Dame Rose Macaulay
1881 – 1958

Blogmas Day 21: Solstice

Oh my, what dreary, dreary day! Quite fitting for the shortest day of the year, no sunshine to miss.

Where did my day go? When time passes this peacefully, it is something to celebrate.

Sound. I spend my days in relative silence. No TV in the background here, no music playing. The familiar sounds of clocks ticking, the heating system starting up intermittently over the course of the day, the occasional vehicle passing along the street outside.

Light. On this dreary day the Christmas tree lights are glowing gently, catching the eye easily in this tiny, cozy space. The tinsel dances to the tune of the heating system, as the warm air pours into the room in a steady stream. My old lamp shines brightly beside my easy chair.

Aroma. Every time I go near the windows, the sweet aroma of pine envelopes me. Soon the smell of dinner will fill the house.

Touch. I love the feel of flannelette sheets. The switch from percale to flannel took place last month. One of my favourite things about cold weather is the bedding, it feels so lovely on the skin, and so cozy to snuggle under when the day wears down and weariness seeks comfort.

And it is Friday! Attila has been counting the days until his Christmas break, and soon he will return from work, to begin his holiday.



Date: 2:00 PM EST Friday 21 December 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 98.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 11.3°C
Dew point: 11.3°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: S 26 km/h
Visibility: 5 km


“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand… and melting like a snowflake.”
Marie Beyon Ray

Blogmas Day 20: Quiet

I have had this lamp for a very long time! I purchased it at a yard sale on Brunswick Avenue, in Toronto. Well, truth be told, it might have been Howland Avenue, it was one or the other. It is hand crafted. I can even use an LED bulb in it! Hey Kate, here it is, 🙂

Today is cloudy and mild. I’ve been puttering around all day long. The computer has been turned off most of the morning, and the loudest sound in the house is the ticking of the two clocks in the living room.

The Crabapple tree in the front yard is still covered with little red apples. This year they are being gobbled up by squirrels. I reckon that is because of the decimation of the wetland at the end of the street, the pressure on the wildlife to find sources of food is probably desperate, leading the the squirrels, for the very first time since we bought Mist Cottage, to consider them acceptable food. Other years the Crabapples remained undisturbed until late February, when the local birds found them a last resort.

Squirrels are messy eaters. There are bits of bright red Crabapple all over the front walkway, the steps, and the porch entry. The bits stick to shoes and boots, and eventually get tracked through the whole house. Since there is no snow, and the weather was mild enough to be out in just a sweater, for a short period of time, I took the broom and swept the walkway, porch, and entry clear. We will see how long it takes those pesky squirrels to litter it with debris once again

Yesterday I missed an appointment. This hardly ever happens to me. It was my fault, I got really into cooking pinto and kidney beans, then making Taco Soup, that the time just got away on me, and by the time I realized I needed to get ready to go, I was three hours late. There is no recovery from that. So I called the office and left a message, no one answered the telephone.

It isn’t often that I can pleasantly interact with medical staff, it is usually a struggle because of my condition, which often irritates them because it isn’t on their checklist of things to cover, things with a pat response. This morning they returned my call, and I must say, the person I talked to was incredibly respectful, accepting my apology with good grace, and setting up a new appointment for me in the New Year. Really, I am not used to being spoken to politely by medical office staff, particularly when I have introduced a factor they aren’t used to dealing with. I am used to having to get down and ugly, to assert the bases I need covered because of my anaphylaxis. Interactions with medical facilities are seldom pleasant. But this one was all I could hope for, tolerance and respect were offered to me, and I accepted it with relief. The call made my day!



Date: 2:00 PM EST Thursday 20 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 4.1°C
Dew point: -2.5°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: ENE 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.”
Margaret Cho

Blogmas Day 19: Light!

The sun was peeking out now and again this morning, so cheerful.  I enjoyed listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons this morning, it is very uplifting.

We have two Instant Pots, a 6 quart and a 3 quart.  This morning they were both pressed into service.  The 3 quart cooked Red Kidney Beans, and the 6 quart cooked Pinto Beans.  This was in preparation for cooking Taco Soup, a recipe I cannot share because the online poster requested it not be shared.  Fair enough.  It has ground beef, onion, tomatoes, corn, beef broth, and taco seasoning, you get the picture.  After cleaning the 6 quart Instant Pot, it was used to cook the soup.  I need healthy lunches, which are comprised primarily of vegetables, and this soup hits the mark.

I need to make bread this weekend, at Attila’s request.  He wants to use homemade bread to make the stuffing for the turkey, for Christmas dinner.  He will prepare a feast, and then we will eat leftover turkey dinners for most of the rest of 2018.  We both love leftovers, so this is something to look forward to.  I don’t eat very much bread, even in the machine it takes about three hours, so it is not really something I want to tackle when the hydro is least expensive, after 7:00 p.m.  Bread baking is a weekend indulgence, when the hydro is least expensive all day and all night long.

It looks like the weather will turn cloudy later today, and stay that way right through to Christmas Day.  This, combined with the shortest day of year coming up on Friday, will be well mediated by brightly coloured lights, the Christmas Tree is a most welcome addition to the living room this time of year. 

One of the things I would like to look into at Mist Cottage is good lighting.  Our lighting is supplied by a collection of lamps, and ceiling lights.  The ceiling lights are stark, providing excellent light for times when visual acuity is important.  The lamps are of varying ages, collected over the last three or four decades, some used, some purchased new because the price was marked down to next to nothing, which reflects their appeal. 

One of my lamps, that I purchased during my years living in downtown Toronto, was found at a yard sale on Brunswick Avenue.  The base is hand turned pottery, and shade is hand crafted, consisting of various plant snippets pressed between two pieces of opaque material.  I like it as much today as I did the day I bought it.  I have no idea who made it, but whoever it was, their creative vision resides comfortably in my home.  That lamp will not be replaced, and it does accommodate an LED bulb.

Another lamp I bought for next to nothing, because the price was right, is a floor lamp.  It is functional, but neither Attila or I care for the light it throws out, an it takes up floor space, as it is a “big house” lamp.  The bedroom lamps are old, from yard sales, and will probably not make the cut.  There are two lamps that we bought new decades ago, and although we like them I don’t know that they will accommodate LED bulbs; in addition there are no tables to put them on, as the living room is too small for tables, actually there are no tables as such anywhere in the house except the kitchen table. These two lamps are “big house” lamps. 

I think new lighting will have to wait until the “big house” furniture is replaced with something more appropriately sized for a house as small as Mist Cottage.  I will be thinking about an interim addition though, to add some lighting to the living area, for reading and for atmosphere during the long winter nights.

Lighting is just something interesting to think about, to research, to contemplate.

Today I thought I’d turn the computer off for the day.  Well, it was a good intention, but today wasn’t a day for success.  I turned it off, remembered something I wanted, turned it on again, then turned it off again, then wanted something else, like a recipe, so turned it on again, and so it went all day long, on, off, on, off.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll do a little better, worth a try anyway.



Date:9:00 AM EST Wednesday 19 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.6°C
Dew point: -1.2°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SW 20 gust 31 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“Never learn to do anything: if you don’t learn, you’ll always find someone else to do it for you.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

Sounds lazy and manipulative to me.