The Quiet Life

The weather has brought us another cold snap, which is supposed to be short lived. Since my knee seizes up when the temperature dips below freezing, there is no chance I will be going for walks in the great outdoors. Oh well, at least I have the elliptical machine.

Since Attila and I have been together we have always waited until the last week of January to take down the Christmas Tree. Last weekend we slowly removed the ornaments, and lights, and carried our much enjoyed tree out the front door and around to the back yard. The tree will be used as part of the hugelkulture raised bed, which will be built this spring. I am sentimental about trees, and cried this year when the tree was being disrobed for its journey out the door. I miss the tree, and the lights, but am happy to have more floor space in the house. The tree meant walking sideways and stepping over furniture to get around, the house is that small.

My birthday falls in the winter months. There aren’t a lot of things that I can do out of doors in the winter, so celebrations focus on indoor activities. This year I asked for, and received, a flour mill for my birthday. It is an extravagance, a toy, a hobby type item for the kitchen. It is brilliant. All I have done so far is to run long grain rice through it to clean it, the rice flour looked amazing, but was discarded as there were traces of metal and oil in it. The machine is clean now and ready for action. I am currently trying to source wheat berries, and other grains, at reasonable prices. No luck so far, but the search has just begun.

I think my writing has changed over the last year. There has been little in the way of whimsy in my existence during 2018, and my confidence in the future has been at an all time low. I think this is reflected in my thoughts, feelings and writing. Change, sudden and drastic, was the order of my days in 2018.

2019 however has begun on a much more positive and hopeful note. My health is excellent, that is such a blessing. My relationship with Attila is steadily improving, which I did not expect. Attila is in good health, another blessing. My children are healthy, and my Grandchildren, which is also a blessing. My Mom, and siblings, and their children, are all doing well, another blessing. I enjoy my friendships online, and even occasionally get to see people face-to-face. The ability to pursue interests and hobbies continues, which keeps me endlessly entertained. And although I know the world out there seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket, I have no intention of following the public furor into hysteria. It is best not to lose perspective during a time of crisis. Here at Mist Cottage Attila and I carry on, occasionally struggling through a day, but mostly enjoying what good fortune we do have.

Worldly

Weather

Snowfall Warning
-18°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Monday 28 January 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -18.0°C
Dew point: -26.3°C
Humidity: 49%
Wind: NE 27 km/h
Wind Chill: -29
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832


Killing Bugs

It snowed all day, and now it is raining! Roller coaster weather, which I prefer to continuous deep cold. The snow is wet on all of the roofs now, holding on to that rain. I hope it stays above freezing for a bit, give the roof a chance to shed some of the load.

When there isn’t much else to do on a dreary winter’s day, then we get busy with odd jobs. Last night we spent the evening in the kitchen. We weren’t cooking, oh no. We were boiling laundry. We gathered together all the clean dishcloths, put the half-full-of-water 16 quart stock pot on the burner to boil, then began to boil the dishcloths. This is necessary every so often, to kill lingering bacteria. As soon as they aren’t smelling fresh after being laundered, it is time to boil the bugs out of them. After boiling all the washcloths, we moved on to the white socks in the house. Then we laundered all the boiled items, and hung them up to dry for the night. I folded them all this morning and put them away. They smelled oh so fresh!

Attila has a cold bug, and I think I am coming down with it too. It isn’t too bad, mostly a runny nose, but in my case it is starting with a headache. Good excuse to cozy up of an evening with a hot mug of honey and apple cider vinegar, read a book or watch a movie.

Dinner tonight is Mongolian Chicken, well it is actually Mongolian Turkey, because I am using a thawed package of diced turkey meat, saved from our Christmas turkey dinner. The whole dish is cooking in the Instant Pot of course!

I am noticing that the volume of recyclables coming out of Mist Cottage is falling. This is because we are using a lot of home canned and frozen ingredients, as opposed to tinned items from the grocery store. I do notice that it is a bit of extra work, to continually wash canning jars as I empty them, and to carry them down to the basement to store the empty jars away in boxes until it is time to fill them up with goodness again.

I wish there were local farms that sold reasonably priced produce for canning, but there aren’t. Or at least if there are, they are keeping a low enough profile that I can’t find them. The search continues. In the meantime we are beginning to plan our garden for this summer. Perhaps we can grow enough for a year of something… string beans, tomatoes, spinach, those are my best guesses.

Worldly

Weather

Today:
Date: 4:00 PM EST Wednesday 23 January 2019
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 0.4°C
Dew point: 0.3°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Visibility: 8 km

Yesterday Morning:
-26°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Tuesday 22 January 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 104.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -25.9°C
Dew point -29.1°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NNW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -33
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“What I dream of is an art of balance.”
Henri Matisse
1869 – 1954

Winter Storm

The cold weather has arrived! Until today the winter weather has been relatively mild and benign. It has been warm enough that a lot of our heat has been generated by the air source heat pump, which heats the house when the temperature is above -7C. The oil furnace took over last night, and will be doing all the work until next Tuesday, at the earliest. The cold snap is meant to intensify into a major winter storm over the weekend, before easing up over the course of next week. There will be snow shoveling going on this weekend!

The air is house is dry! Our humidity is at 25% relative humidity. In the past, this level of humidity resulted in my multiple nosebleeds throughout each day. Since the specialist cauterized my nostrils, I have had only one nosebleed, which was less than a week after the procedure, and must have been due to incomplete healing of the wound. No nosebleeds since then. Yay.

Attempts to raise the humidity have met with little success. A load of wet laundry is drying on a collapsible rack in the living room. Large tea towels have been soaked, and hang on hangers over the heating vents. Tubs of water sit on the floor near the heating vents. Five different soaked cloths hang in various locations around the house. The soaked towels and cloths dry in a matter of hours, so it keeps me busy running around soaking them over and over again. And still the humidity does not change, I am merely keeping it from falling further.

If we ever have to replace our furnace, the expense of a built in humidification system will be seriously considered.

Well, the challenges of winter’s first roar are really not that odious. We are warm here, the furnace heats this little house quite well, and much more effectively with the added attic insulation, all new windows, and some new insulation on the basement wall and rim joists. We are keeping the house much warmer this winter, than in winter’s past. In the past the thermostat was lowered to 17C at night. In the morning everything touched was cool, and it cooled the body, made one feel chilly. This winter we are not lowering the temperature at night, and it has made a difference in our heating fuel consumption. I will be able to calculate just how big a difference this made at the end of the heating season. Our bills are definitely higher, but not drastically so. We do notice though.

Attila is busy in the kitchen. He likes to cook his soups on the weekends. Last weekend it was Pea Soup. This weekend it is Cabbage Soup. These soups serve as Attila’s “second suppers”, he eats an entire second evening meal, every day of the week. I do not eat a “second supper”.

I have been enjoying Taco Soup this past week, for my lunches. I made it last Wednesday, thinking that I might can it in 500 ml jars, for quick lunches. But we ended up eating it for supper instead, so there wasn’t enough left to justify a pressure canning session. Since I like Taco Soup, Attila has been leaving it alone, so that I could enjoy it for my lunches. I would like to make another batch this week, and pressure can it. Once canned it can sit on the shelf for a year or more, waiting until I have a craving for it.

The pressure canner is a big beast, and although I can get it up the stairs from the basement, it isn’t a quick or easy endeavor. It takes up a lot of room in the kitchen, so I need to commit to canning if I, or Attila, bring it up into the kitchen. My future plans for the kitchen include a space to store the pressure canner. Perhaps this storage space will be tackled by next winter, perhaps not. I’ve more ideas for improvements, than time or money to get them done,

Worldly

Weather

EXTREME COLD WARNING
WINTER STORM WARNING
-20°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Saturday 19 January 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -20.2°C
Dew point: -26.6°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: NNE 21 km/h
Wind Chill: -31
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
1896 – 1940

NOTE: What is it about 3:00 a.m.!?!


Be The Butterfly

Our Christmas Tree stays up until the last week of January. We like the lights, the scent of pine, the colours, the sparkle of tinsel. Once Christmas itself has passed, the tree takes on a completely different feel. The branches and needles become a natural presence in the room.

Our Christmas Tree, after it moves from the house to the back yard at the end of the month, will become base material for a hugelkulture raised garden bed in the spring.

My crocheted blanket is coming along again. With the wintry weather the house feels cooler, so that it is possible to comfortably sit with the blanket draped across my lap as I work on it.

The book I am reading is a slow read. Kristen Lavransdatter is a very intense book. It describes medieval Norway, and during that period of time the Church was a dominant force on the social and physical landscape. I find organized religion a plodding affair, so that the philosophical challenges faced by some of the characters are shrouded by the paradigms of the times. I learn new things as I lumber from page to page, so I continue to find it interesting.

Over the last few months I have taken to purchasing marked down organic bananas. Although their outward appearance is questionable, almost all offer unblemished fruit. I remove the peels, place them on cookie sheets, freeze them, remove them from the cookie sheets, place them in plastic bags, seal the bags, and freeze them in the chest freezer.

In the mornings I have been enjoying a breakfast of toast and peanut butter, and a banana smoothie made with lactose free milk. I had been making my way to the basement every morning, to fetch a frozen banana. For convenience, I decided to put one of the bags of frozen bananas in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen. To my surprise they have not kept all that well in the refrigerator freezer. It isn’t cold enough I think. They are frozen, but browning over time, and slimy to the touch.

The banana situation brought my attention to the quality of the refrigerator. It does the job, and has done since 2014 when it was purchased. We did not live at Mist Cottage then, it was a second property, so the chosen appliance was the least expensive available on the market at the time. It has its challenges, we don’t love it, but it does the job. We will use it for as long as it keeps working. But, when the time comes to replace it, as that time must come, I have an additional criteria to use for choosing a new refrigerator: a refrigerator freezer with temperature control if possible, or one that has a reputation for having a great freezer compartment.

I am going back to storing my frozen bananas in the chest freezer in the basement, and will make the morning trip up and down the stairs to fetch a satisfactorily frozen banana.

Given the state of current events in the big wide world, I choose to focus on the things I can do something about. There are sometimes assumptions made about this kind of choice. “Head in the sand”, comes to mind. I have been subjected to criticism at times, for not being actively and continuously outraged and reactive to the machinations of the powerful. I act when opportunities for effective action arise. I do not find these opportunities, I am merely open to their existence, receptive to the possibilities, and they find me. I contribute when my energy will further what I consider to be progress towards a better world. What I consider to be progress towards a better world is informed by a lifetime of observations, a LOT of experience, and a LOT of education. When I do act, it is largely invisible to the world around me, which is the way I like it. I know I have made a difference. I don’t have to prove it to anyone, and I don’t need an audience.

My advice to all is, “be the butterfly“.

Worldly

Weather

-18°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Friday 11 January 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -17.6°C
Dew point: -22.1°C
Humidity: 68%
Wind: NW 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -26
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000


Sunshine

The sun is shining bright this afternoon! The price for bright is cold. Not only is it much colder today than it was yesterday, tonight it is going to get a lot colder. The low, the weather people say, will be -18C on the thermometer, and -26C with wind chill. Not a good night to lie under the stars enjoying the heavens.

My Mom recently sent me some old school class photos. I did not know she kept them, I thought they had perished. I am surprised at how many of the names I remember, and that all but one or two faces are familiar.

The teachers are interesting. I had three outstanding teachers during my primary public school years, grades one through eight. The first was my Grade One teacher, she was an older woman who loved kids, and we loved her right back. The second was my Grade Six teacher, who had escaped the Holocaust in a coal car with her parents during the Second World War. She was a lovely, compassionate, insightful teacher. I even had the sense to appreciate her at the time. The third was my Grade Eight teacher, who was also the principal of the school. He was tacitern, remote, fair, and strict. He was a talented teacher and administrator. He encouraged my love of learning, and I have felt grateful to him for that gift ever since.

I also had three abysmally small minded and cruel teachers. Other than to acknowledge I noticed, they don’t get any air time. Their brief influence had lasting effects for my brothers and I.

Recovery from my fall ,on the basement floor, is going well. I have a shiner, which has gone from black and blue to an odd shade of brown. The scabbed areas on my face are itching, which means the scabs are about to fall off. My old glasses are working just fine as a substitute for the scratched pair. Best of all though, the headaches have disappeared! I feel great.

Canning season has been over for a few months now, I’ve had a bit of a break. Now my mind is wandering through possible canning projects. Soups seem interesting. Canned soups from the grocery store are too high in either sodium or fat, so I no longer eat them. I miss the convenience of opening up a can of soup, so why not make my own.

The neighbourhood is much quieter now that the first tenants have moved into the new rental complex. Construction noises have ceased for the most part, temporarily at least. Since only 10 units were completed and rented, very little additional traffic uses our street, for now.

The Holiday Season is pleasant in so many ways, but I am always glad when life gets back to regular program.

Worldly

Weather

-7°C
Date: 12:00 PM EST Thursday 10 January 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.9°C
Dew point: -12.7°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: NW 29 gust 41 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862