The Dust Settles

Since early January I have been watching the current pandemic rise, experiencing internal stress as I attempted to prepare for its arrival in Canada. I spent a lot of time thinking things through, trying to prepare for isolation, and still I missed things. I missed that bleach expires, and so we have no effective bleach to use for disinfecting, and it cannot be purchased, the stores are all sold out. That was a big mistake on my part.

But what has worried me most all these months, is that Attila would have to work, and would be exposed to infection, and that he and I might not fare well in such a case. All of my focus was on resolving that issue, trying to take steps to keep Attila safe, and myself safe as a result. Our fates are tied together at this point. When two of the managers returned to work after travel abroad, I reached a breaking point. Attila began to use his vacation time to stay out of harms way.

Suddenly, on March 25th, Attila was laid off. What a blessing. Fear of poverty is a lot more bearable than fear of death, at least that is how I feel. And so my life instantly changed, from fight or flight feelings, to intense relief. The first few days both of us were stunned and grateful, trying to take in our new situation.

Here we are, March 31st, six days later. And I realize that some adjustments are needed on my part. My life revolved around routines that I had developed over the last few years, routines that involved an adequate income, and Attila being away to work five days a week. It is different now.

Our income might be adequate, we do not yet have any idea what the future holds on that score, but for now we are fine, in the short term. We are no longer financially able to purchase items as we have been doing, particularly related to renovations. The renovations will have to be put on hold. The materials already in our possession, for the basement insulation project, will be used until they are gone, and hopefully they are adequate to finish the project. But if they are not, it doesn’t really matter, we will be fine.

Getting used to Attila being here all the time is more challenging for me than I had anticipated. Suddenly, with my biggest fear and focus happily resolved, I find myself needing to reorient myself, figure out how to comfortably spend my days. My old routines do not work for me, Attila is here all the time, the house is small, this is new!

For instance, we both like to putter in the kitchen, which is small, so we need to orchestrate the activities. Slowly we are developing a dance, exploring how to time our little projects so that we aren’t in each other’s way. It is going well, but still, it is an adjustment, mostly for me, as I am accustomed to having the kitchen to myself during the weekdays. Sharing means changing habits, so I am working on that.

We are so lucky to have Mist Cottage. It is a pleasant and safe place to self-isolate, with our own outdoor space.

Attila has his insulation project to work on, bit-by-bit each day, but mostly he works in the yard. He has a large garden planned, and spends most of his day working outside. He has pruned the apple tree and bushes along the property line, and is using the branches to build Hugelkultur beds. The garden along the fence line is also being expanded. He has harvested quite a few Dandelion roots from that area.

And that is where some of my projects come into play. After Attila washes the Dandelion roots, I spread them on the racks for the dehydrator to dry them. The plants have some newly formed leaves on them, which are also dried. I tasted the very young leaves and they were quite good, I thought, not bitter. Since we are avoiding the grocery store, we have no greens at the moment, so I suggested a Dandelion green salad. That was a NO from Attila. Oh well, I might harvest some of them for a lunch time stir fry for myself.

Dehydrated Dandelion Root
Dehydrated Dandelion Greens

I tried making No Knead Bread on Sunday, saving a wee bit of dough to use instead of yeast for the next next loaf, which was yesterday. It was a unanimous decision that my regular 100% Whole Wheat Bread is much preferable. The No Knead Bread was very dense, had a good flavour, and a very tough crust. It was worth a try!

The weed seeds that I removed from about 12 cups of wheat berries, when I last milled my Whole Wheat Flour. Oops, I see one wheat berry in there, can you spot it?

Today I baked Squash Squares, which are Pumpkin Squares made using pureed squash instead of pumpkin. Attila seldom asks for sweets, so when this was requested I was very happy to make it for him. We will be growing squash this summer, it is a versatile vegetable that we both enjoy.

Squash Squares, made in a pie plate. I like this pie plate because it has a wide rim, which make it easy to grasp when it is hot, and I am removing it from the oven.

So that is us, doing fine as we weather the storm of the Pandemic, isolated in our little house with a garden. I hope everyone’s circumstances allow them comfort and safety!

Stay safe dear friends!

Worldly

Weather

6°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 31 March 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 6.0°C
Dew point: 2.1°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NE 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“What you are is a question only you can answer.”
Lois McMaster Bujold
1949 –

Decisions on High: Too Little, Too Late

Attila will have to return to work on Monday, and as the pandemic intensifies here, I find I don’t want him to go. He has no choice of course, he has to go. But if we could manage to survive financially, we both agree, he would stay home and we would self-isolate. Both of us are in the high risk-for-complications category.

We are both quite willing to self-isolate for the sake of our country, if means of financial survival were provided.

We live in a very small space, and will be unable to implement the recommendations for living with a COVID-19 patient, even though we would be quarantined here together.

I am not happy about this, and I feel the Canadian government, and employers, could do a lot better, on the ground, to set things up to protect seniors and health compromised people. Proactive prevention should be a priority at this stage in the game. Soon this window of opportunity will close also, just as the window of opportunity for containment closed before our governments caught on. Wise up.

I don’t feel confident though, that the government is savvy enough to get moving on things like this, allowing people who live with those over 65, or those with preexisting conditions, to choose to be “laid off work” for self-isolation. A little thing, but it could make a huge difference in spreading the contagion out so that the medical resources will be able to handle everyone, just not all at once. As far as I can determine, almost all serious complications occur in the age groups over 40 years of age, and that risks increase with age.

It just seems obvious to me, common sense. But where was common sense when our leader’s wife, in spite of the blatant warning signs around the world that trudged on till it was a pandemic, traveled to England, intermingled with thousands of people at an event, interacted in other settings, and came back home to test positive for COVID-19.

The next day the government, her husband, took it seriously. Why was she over there when this was going on in the world? In my opinion it was not a responsible choice. She has a mild case, at least there is that. And our Prime Minister is now in self-isolation at home with his family. Many leaders are self-isolating.

I seldom become political here, but this issue could cost me my life, or Attila’s life, or the life of someone else I know and care about, and surely the lives of other Canadians unknown to me, but whose lives are equally important. So it makes me a little angry that so little is being done on the ground to delay the spread and mediate the impact of this pandemic.

Attila wonders if all these delayed responses facilitated the movement of capital to investments with a new world future.

The decisions made by leaders all over the world beggar belief.

Worldly

Weather

4°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Saturday 14 March 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 4.2°C
Dew point: -3.1°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
Bill Gates
1955

“I got my story, my dream, from America. The hero I had is Forrest Gump… I like that guy. I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time I get frustrated, I watch the movie. I watched the movie before I came here again to New York. I watched the movie again telling me that no matter whatever changed, you are you.”
Jack Ma
1964

Fun Project!

Yesterday, Monday, was a beautiful day! Our back porch gets the afternoon sun, which in the summer makes it too hot to enjoy at that time of day. But the warmth of the sun was wonderful to experience yesterday, as we sat out there and chatted. The outdoor temperature reached 12C! It was very windy, so I wore my parka though, as I do not want to risk a chill.

Attila had a phlegmy chest cold over the weekend, no fever, no aches and pains, just the cold. He still managed to do a bit of work on the basement, and is done with the electrical, and beginning to plan the plumbing. There are still areas that are insulated with vapour barrier, but are not covered in drywall. They will remain that way until the plumbing is sorted, then things will be moved around down there and the final drywall installation will be undertaken, sometime later in the spring.

My big project for the weekend was to make re-fried beans. I cooked dried Pinto beans in the Instant Pot. While they were cooking, I sauteed about 3/4 of a pound of chopped onion in the cast iron frying pan, then added spices, then the beans and some water. I cooked the bean mixture down to the desired consistency, like a thick pudding in this case, cooled it, and refrigerated it. I have been eating the re-fried beans on a slice of homemade 100% whole wheat toast, lightly sprinkled with hot sauce, and topped with shredded lactose free cheese. I love it. Attila calls it Mexican Beans On Toast, a fairly accurate description.

I would have used flour tortillas for my re-fried bean meals, but the commercial ones are too high sodium for me, and I haven’t learned to make my own yet.

Re-fried Beans.
So easy to make! I love this recipe, and since there is no added sodium, the sodium in the hot sauce and grated cheese used in the Mexican Beans On Toast are well within my sodium limits.

The fun project was something Attila was craving, Cowboy Candy. I made some jars of it for him as a Christmas present, and he has been rationing himself to make it last. Last week he finished it. Oh no! So he decided that despite the price (he loves a bargain, always waiting for sales) he would bite the bullet, and purchase 4 pounds of Jalapeno peppers.

It was a lot of work! Four pounds of peppers is about double the recipe, in for a penny in for a pound. But when I doubled the recipe I used the computer recipe database, and because of the way the recipe was formatted, it only doubled some of the ingredients, and not others. YIKES! So we had to take a break from the project, to sit down and figure out where it went wrong, and how much of each ingredients to add to make it right. After that it was smooth sailing. Attila chopped the onion and Jalapeno peppers, I took care of everything else, cooking the syrup, filling the canning jars, canning the Cowboy Candy, then cleaning everything up. We ended up with five 500-ml jars of Cowboy Candy, and 5 1/2 jars of Cowboy Candy Syrup.

Cowboy Candy on the right, Cowboy Candy Syrup on the left.
Attila eats the Cowboy Candy, I use the Cowboy Candy Syrup as an ingredient in my Salad Dressing, and in rice and pasta lunches, where I combine rice or pasta with cooked vegetables, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and Cowboy Candy juice as a sauce, then heat it in the microwave.

Just an ending note to share some resources I consult, when feeling concerned about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Current Global Distribution and Information

John’s Hopkins University Mapped Data

Dr. John Campbell Videos

Ontario Information

Province of Ontario Health and Wellness The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Worldly

Weather

7°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Tuesday 10 March 2020
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dew point: 3.7°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: SSW 30 gust 41 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Whatever you do, do it to the purpose; do it thoroughly, not superficially. Go to the bottom of things. Any thing half done, or half known, is in my mind, neither done nor known at all. Nay, worse, for it often misleads.”
Lord Chesterfield
1694 – 1773

The half known part describes information shared on social media, for the most part. Participant beware!

A Few Tears

Today I made the decision to suspend my purely recreational activities, that involve meeting with other people. After making all the arrangements, I sat down and surprised myself by shedding tears. I let them flow, for myself, and for the people whose lives have been taken, or turned upside down by the COVID-19 virus.

This decision comes after watching how the coronavirus is being monitored in Ontario, Canada. News of the GO Transit bus, on which the person with COVID-19 traveled, was my final deciding factor. The honour system in Canada, where people flying in from other affected areas of the world decide for themselves whether they will self-isolate for the incubation period, after arriving back in Canada, has failed the public interest, in my opinion.

At this point we don’t know if there are other infected individuals on public transit, in malls, in restaurants… we don’t know. There may be none. There may be one. There may be many. It only takes one to share the virus with many. I won’t be eliminating my chances of infection by avoiding groups of people, just reducing the likelihood of exposure.

This was a difficult decision for me, I will heartily miss my social interactions. But I am of an age to be designated in the high risk category for serious symptoms, so I am being cautious. It surprises me to see quite a few people in the digital world expounding on COVID-19 not being a serious issue, because it’s worst effects are felt by old people, or people with existing health conditions. I find that offensively insensitive. All lives matter. But then I remember that when SARS was spreading, I was relieved that I was not in the group of people considered to be at high risk. However, I would never have diminished anyone else’s concerns because, “it’s not my problem”. And of course, many perfectly healthy young people are succumbing to the virus, so bravado seems inappropriate.

Attila must still head off to work each day, and who knows if he will encounter the virus there, it is a large facility employing people with family from all over the world. He has no choice but to continue to work in that environment, so we are fervently hoping that no one connected to the place contracts the virus! It is out of our hands though, we can only hope. If Attila gets it, then it is likely that I will too.

In the meantime, I am happily taking to my decision to avoid recreational groups of people. I love Mist Cottage, and do not find it a hardship to spend my time here. We will continue to eat well, avoid autoimmune medications, stay well hydrated, stay active, get adequate sleep, and remain hopeful that all will be well.

And with any luck the need, for such a measure as I have just taken in regard to recreational groups, will prove false, and I will be able to resume my activities soon.

Keep safe!

Worldly

Weather

2°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Monday 2 March 2020
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.3°C
Dew point: 1.1°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: S 28 gust 37 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

Everything is connected… no one thing can change by itself.”
Paul Hawken
1946 –

The Forsyte Saga

Friday! It is getting cold again outside, but the weather people say that today snow squalls will torment us, and that by Sunday it will start to get warmer. Yesterday began with freezing rain, then snow squalls as the day progressed, and the wind, my how it howled all day, and into the night. This morning the sun is shining, a welcome sight. I’ve moved my chair to sit in the brightness of it, soaking it up.

The Forsyte Saga, written by John Galsworthy, captured my imagination in the early 1980s. At the time I was pregnant with Terra. My previous pregnancy had ended in miscarriage, which caused me much sorrow. So when I began to hemorrhage when pregnant with Terra, I was determined to bring the child into the world. By spring I was bedridden, unable to stand for more than a few minutes, able to sit for only short periods of time. Lying in bed for almost eight months, with an extremely precocious seven year old to care for, having just moved to Toronto, was very challenging, possibly the most challenging project I have ever attempted. No friends, no family, just my ex, Luna, and I weathering the storm. It was after several months of bed rest that I first picked up to read The Forsyte Saga. I read the entire work.

When we lived at the country house, I read the entire Forsyte Saga again, and enjoyed it just as much as I had reading it for the first time. I think the appeal is the honesty in character development, and in the description of the structure and maintenance of privilege during the era. And yet, for me, there is something about the story that is broader than a period piece. Perhaps it is the glimpse into the roots of avarice and hubris that fascinates me.

I watched the 2002 series production of The Forsyte Saga, starring Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves, and Gina McKee, among others, and enjoyed it immensely.

But I had not seen the 1967 Forsyte Saga BBC2 series, starring Eric Porter, Kenneth Moore, and Nyree Dawn Porter. I have just now watched the final credits scroll across the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Now I am considering an audio book version of the story, unabridged. It would be lovely to listen to it this summer while I am busy cooking and preserving the bounty that I anticipate Attila will bring in from the garden.

Worldly

Weather

-4°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Friday 28 February 2020
Condition: Light Snow shower
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.2°C
Dew point: -6.7°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SW 28 gust 39 km/h
Wind Chill: -12
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“Did Nature permit a Forsyte not to make a slave of what he
adored? Could beauty be confided to him? Or should she not
be just a visitor, coming when she would, possessed for
moments which passed, to return only at her own choosing?
‘We are a breed of spoilers!’ thought Jolyon, ‘close and
greedy; the bloom of life is not safe with us. Let her come
to me as she will, when she will, not at all if she will
not. Let me be just her stand-by, her perching-place;
never-never her cage!”
The Forsyte Saga