Bright and Early

Attila and I left for the Rideau Camp bright and early. Attila works tonight, so we wanted to come home early enough so that he could get a good “night’s” sleep before heading off to work. We drove along under a cloudy sky, there weren’t many people out and about at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

The sun was shining by the time we reached the Camp. It was 7C, but we didn’t really feel the chill because we were so busy with our little projects.

The first task was to take the cold ashes from the fire pit and place them in the ruts left by the bulldozer. The bulldozer, we theorize, was employed to clear the trees and stumps to create the clearing where we park our car. The ruts are deep, so we are filling them with clean fill. So far two pots of dead fall Mums with soil, and the cold ashes from our fire pit, are the only clean fill we have, this might take years. We have time.

There are big spiders at the Rideau Camp. The bodies are about the size of a nickel, and the legs give them the circumference of a Loonie. I am not a fan of spiders, particularly in my personal space, I kill the ones that venture near my feet, or any other part of my body.

Attila spent time saving trees. Wild grapes have grown up some of the mature trees on the property, they compete with the tree for sunlight, will eventually weaken the tree, and may even kill it. Attila cuts through the vines about a foot off the ground, which will kill the vine growing up the tree. Attila then cuts a section from them, so that they hang swaying in the breeze, about a foot overhead. Seven wild grape vines were severed today.

The garbage that we found on the property is almost all in bags now. Attila gathered it all up while I was tending the fire, going so far as to open the apple juice bottles to release the fermented juice, and recycle the bottles. There are two apple juice bottles that would not open, left for another time, and a small pile of mugs and bowls, perfectly serviceable Corning Ware mugs and bowls.

My job as fire tender ties me to the camping area, as I will not leave the fire unattended even for a few minutes. Things are dry out there, the wood catches fire easily, and I want to make sure the fire stays in the fire pit. I keep four large jugs of water, that I bring from home, beside the fire pit, and also two pails full of water filled from the wetland on the property. In addition there is a part bag of sand sitting near the fire pit, in case it is needed to smother the fire. I let the fire burn down entirely at the end of our day at the Camp, stirring it to make sure there are no combustable bits of wood in the ashes. When all the flames are spent, I use all of the water to carefully douse the embers, and soak the soil all around the fire pit. By the time we leave, there is no smoke or steam emanating from the ashes of the day’s fire.

While Attila and I sat chatting around the camp fire, we looked up to see two large birds circling the area. We think they are eagles. Then we saw eight large birds far above them, very high up, so high up that we had to strain our eyes to make them out, they were so small in the distance. They looked like eagles, but they might have been turkey vultures.

Turkey Vultures are carrion birds, they eat animals that are already dead. Eagles hunt for live prey. I don’t think these two types of birds compete with each other in the food chain, and that it is quite possible that we are seeing both Turkey Vultures and Eagles.

We have a few more flowers blooming now at the camp. I spied a white Trillium in the bush, and Attila says there are carpets of them at the back of the property. The wild Coltsfoot is blooming in several spots along the creek, pretty yellow flowers. We also found a flower that we could not identify, a pretty white flower, which I took a photo of and had to look up on the internet when we got home. The carpets of Mayflowers and Trout Lilies are beautiful right now. I have been looking for Hepaticas, but so far I haven’t found any.

I think this flower is Bloodroot, please correct me if I am wrong! There were quite of few of these little flowers lining the edge of the driveway at the Rideau Camp, there were some along the creek as well.
Bloodroot

There were no mosquitoes today at the Camp, I think it was too cold for them. There were a few black flies, but they were not swarming, so they were quite bearable.

Attila is sleeping now. And me, well I’ve been tending an open fire for two days, time for a shower!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 24 April 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dewpoint: -7.9°C
Humidity: 33%
Wind: SSW 16 km/h

Quote

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
1815 – 1902

Chopping Down Trees

We spent the day at the Rideau Camp. It was sunny, beautiful, and chilly, with a high of 10C. I kept the fire going, which is job of constant activity, breaking sticks into lengths and feeding them into the fire. Attila brought his chain saw and felled two dead trees, chopped them up, pulled the brush near the fire pit so that I could break the branches up and burn them, and stacked the logs neatly. A good days work. The Camp looks better every time we visit it, and it feels like home already.

We saw large birds circling in the sky, as we did last weekend. We think they might be eagles, or perhaps they are turkey vultures, we don’t know. We heard owls hooting off in the bush. We saw a Mallard Duck swimming in our little wetland. We heard the call of two Pileated Woodpeckers. And we were visited by a half dozen black flies as the evening drew near, around 6 p.m. As long as the black flies do not swarm, I don’t mind them too much.

My Mom was in to see her doctor, and the doctor says that everything is good. She will go for a CT Scan in a few weeks time, just to check it out. The healing is progressing slowly. Mom should be feeling tickety boo by the time the warm weather finally arrives.

One of the two trees that Attila felled today. He thinks it was an Elm, it had been dead for quite some time.
Felled tree
The brush pile and stacked firewood, all done at the end of the day. The sun was beginning to set as we packed up to leave, just after this photo was taken.
Stacked firewood
When I was a child the bush around the farm was carpeted with these flowers every spring. What fond memories I have of wandering in the bush with my brothers and sisters. We called these flowers Tiger Lilies, Mom called them Dog Tooth Violets, their official name is Erythronium Americanum, they are also sometimes called Trout Lilies.
Tigerlily

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Saturday 23 April 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.4°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: NNE 7 km/h

Quote

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Joseph Campbell
1904 – 1987

It took a long time for this piece of wisdom to play out in my life, thank goodness I lived long enough for it to come to fruition.

Social Claustrophobia

There is just something about being part of particular types of social groups that I find claustrophobic. I am not saying that these social structures are wrong, or a bad idea necessarily; I am saying they do not suit me at all.

Groups that are formed for profit have never been a good fit for me, unless I am in it for profit. Profit is a particular type of game, and if I am going to play profit, then I will ruthlessly attempt to win that profit; which is the object of the game. Since I am generally not very interested in profit, this game holds little to no appeal for me. As a pawn in the game of profit, I find it difficult to relax, and let myself be used. It doesn’t matter how appealing the public relations promotion for the group is, it has always been a bad fit for me. I sense the profit making aspect, feel involved in a game, and begin to play… ruthless group participants are not really what the profit seekers had in mind, it does not end well, and it has always ended. I avoid groups formed by profit seeking entities.

Groups based on “filling a need” from the top down have never been a good fit for me. Top down organizing is seldom, if ever, effective in the short-term, and almost always a failure in the long-term. “Filling a need” groups are almost always based on a “them”, the clients/patients/recipients, and “us” the educated/morally-superior/in-the-know social engineers. I have been on both sides of this equation, mostly on the “us” side. These social groups are usually very short term, as they provide no lasting connections or roots in community; at their very best they have managed to facilitate a few loyal friendships between participants, friendships that outlast the group.

All of these groups need participants, and there is always some kind of pressure to remain in the group, whether or not it is adding anything beneficial to your life. Contact with these groups is like having a burr caught on your pant leg. One must go through the usual prickly extraction process.

I prefer groups based on loose clusters of affiliation, with like-spirited people. This type of group tends to accommodate difference with relative ease, and is flexible enough to meet the changing needs of those who belong to it. Since the participants are not needed for the motives of profit, professional career advancement, obtaining funding, or any type of social engineering, people participate when and if they so desire, and in so doing the group evolves organically over time.

Two groups that I visited when I lived alone here at Mist Cottage last winter, just to see what they were like, taking a benefit-of-the-doubt sort of approach, continue their attempts to entice me into participating, even though their structures do not work for me, and I have made it obvious that I have no lingering interest in their organizations. They don’t seem to care about my decisions, they feel they know much better than I do what is good for me, and somehow, miraculously, what they determine I need promotes what they want. Like burrs on my pant leg, I pull out the odd barb and keep moving forward in my own life.

Iris the trailer needs new tires. The present tires look OK, but they are cracked and do not hold air very well. Attila is the super-shopper at our house. He loves numbers, thinking about them, crunching them, playing with them. He loves saving money. We like to shop locally, so we chose Canadian Tire as the core of our strategy. We have Canadian Tire credit cards, which pay us a 4% bonus on items we purchase at Canadian Tire, and a bonus of 1% when we use the cards at other establishments. Yesterday Canadian Tire was giving away $50 cash cards with every $200 purchase. Attila decided it was time to buy the new trailer tires. We bit the bullet and purchased the tires, attained our $50 cash card, and used the $51 bonus on my credit card to reduce the bill for the tires. Today we took the $50 cash card back to Canadian Tire and bought the lug nuts we need for the new tire rims, a gallon of exterior rust paint for Iris’ frame, 20 paper yard waste bags, and four orange pool noodles, the amount owed on all these items was 0$ as we used our $50 cash card to purchase it.

Then we headed over to the grocery store where we bought grapes on sale, and 8 loaves of rye bread at half price (before their expiry date!). We collected points from the grocery store with our grocery store points card, then I paid the bill with the Canadian Tire credit card, gaining points on that card as well.

That is how we shop. Attila is the master mind behind the strategy, and our standard of living is considerably enhanced through his efforts.

The pool noodles, by the way, are for the guy lines on the awning when we are camping in Iris. After my bad fall almost a year ago, I am very conscious of hazards, and tripping on a guy line would be something I would do. The orange pool noodles will make those thin ropes very visible, and hopefully prevent me from tripping over them and hurting myself.

It rained today, so we decided to stay home rather than visit the Rideau Camp. Attila separated and transplanted some lilacs, along the property line at the side of the yard. He also chopped out a tree growing into our fence across the back of the yard. He has more transplanting to do, some lungwort and some day lilies. The lungwort can wait because it is in full and glorious bloom, and the day lilies are just peeking up out of the ground.

When we first moved into the country house we had nine huge windows to cover. Three of them were in the family room, and for those rooms I picked up a bunch of cloth shower curtains at the dollar store. I liked the pattern, and they were long enough to cover the windows, and ready to hang. That was around 12 years ago, and here are those same shower curtains adorning the window in the front bedroom. This is the only window at the front of the house that I can stand near enough to see out of, it is still a bit crowded in here.

This isn’t the final decor, but a temporary measure until we get around to gutting the room, replacing the wiring, insulation, the window, and the floor. When all that is complete, we will buy (or I will sew) our permanent curtains. We are a long way away from working on the bedrooms though, this summer it is the garden shed that is getting a makeover, and we hope to move a lot of the garage contents into the newly renovated garden shed, then some of the contents of the basement into the garage, then some of the contents of the main floor into the basement. It is like playing dominoes. We are living small.

Shower curtains front bedroom

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 22 April 2016
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.3°C
Dewpoint: 8.7°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: S 17 km/h

Quote

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
Eleanor Roosevelt
1884 – 1962

Note: It is gratifying to know that Eleanore Roosevelt would have received the same bad employment review that I did, criticized for always doing the right thing. I may not have been acceptable to my boss, but it seems I am in good company.

Fruity Hint

Sometimes mistakes can yield surprising results. This morning I was half asleep when I prepared my mug of coffee. I reached into the refrigerator, on autopilot, took out the cranberry juice instead of the milk, and poured it into my coffee. Shaking my head at my distracted state, I put the juice back into the refrigerator, pulled out the milk and maple syrup, my usual condiments for coffee, and added the usual amounts. The coffee was lovely, the fruity hint was very pleasant.

After a series of sunny mild days, today began with cloud cover, which dissipated over the course of the morning to bring us back to another sunny day. It is cooler than it has been, but still well above freezing.

Having spent the last few days cleaning Iris, other projects beckon. The curtains in Iris need tie backs, so it is time to get out the fabric scrap tote and rummage around for something nice, in yellow, because the formica table top is yellow, and because yellow is bright. I like bright.

The list of things needed from the fabric store is getting longer. Curtain clips are needed for the new dining area curtains, which are currently functional but hanging in a decidedly bizarre manner. Decorative binding is needed for the sleeve ends on my 23 year old parka, the edges are now fraying, I’ve left it too long.

It is time to get back out there for my daily walks, an activity that was suspended while cleaning Iris the trailer. It is wonderful to enjoy watching the birds enjoy themselves.

Last January Attila applied for a different job where he works, and this morning he was interviewed. Next there will be a battery of tests to pass, then who knows, there is no timeline on the process. The outcome is merely interesting, as things are fine just the way they are, no changes are necessary to enjoy life.

Volunteer Work

Next week wraps up some of the volunteer work I have been involved with for the last eight months. It has been challenging, interesting, and low profile. If I said more about it, the low profile aspect to it would be spoiled. I value the low profile aspect of the work. I was very happy to have the opportunity to be involved with it, as it tapped some of my talents, that have gone unused since I left the academy.

The Rideau Camp

I have been thinking about the wealth that our Rideau Camp has brought into our lives. Attila and I both value time alone in the bush, we both find it soothing and rejuvenating. At the Rideau Camp there are just the two of us, and although we touch base with each other frequently, most of our time is spent on solitary activities that allow us to be completely alone in the forest. There is nothing quite like being alone with yourself in the bush, and since we own the land, there are no other people to interrupt the peacefulness of it. Our spirits are much calmer for having such a haven. It is a Waldeny experience, if one needs to ground it in a literary sense.

The Rideau Camp is unlike the country house, which was in the bush, our Rideau Camp has no buildings to maintain, nor are the neighbours near enough to be seen, although occasionally they are heard. We need only enjoy our Rideau Camp, much as Attila and I enjoyed the bush when we were children.

Preparing Iris for a stay at the Rideau Camp is fun, and a much smaller project than owning a cottage in the country, particularly one that needs to be heated all winter. This winter Iris will be all tucked up in the yard at Mist Cottage, sitting quietly without needing attention until next spring. But I am getting ahead of myself here, we are still looking forward to Iris’ maiden voyage.

Bedroom Curtains

Our old windows are covered by old curtains, sort of. The living room hosts the curtains left by the previous owners at the country house when we bought it. I recently shortened them to fit the living room windows, and they will do nicely until we replace the windows. The front bedroom hosted heavily lined blackout curtains, that were custom made for the family room in the huge home I owned with my first husband. They are incredibly well made, almost 40 years old and every bit as nice as they were the day they were made, but not quite so stylish now as they were then. The back bedroom curtains are inexpensive, bright and light, cotton dollar store shower curtains, which I like very much. Attila sleeps during the day in the back bedroom, so the nice and light aspect wasn’t really working in there. I decided to hang the blackout curtains in the room where Attila sleeps during the day, and the bright light shower curtains in the front bedroom where they would let in the morning sun. Attila moved the heavy boxes blocking the windows out of my way and I was off to the races. An hour later the curtains had been switched, and we now have a more functional living space.

We have reached a plateau in our renovation and purging. We really cannot move forward until the garden shed is repaired and made functional. The basement and the garage are in a state of semi-chaos, waiting for the garden shed to open up more storage space. when the dust has settled after the garden shed is updated, which may take the whole summer/fall season, we will have to decide what project we want to work on next.

Genealogy Book

I keep thinking that I need to get working again on my genealogy book. The devil is in the details, and there are oodles of details. It took a very long time to find a way to prepare for print, the images related to just one person, My Great Aunt Mary Ann.

Currently I am working on preparing a timeline table of my Great Great Grandfather’s life, and the life of my Great Great Great Uncle, so that I can demonstrate why I theorize they are one and the same person, and to emphasize why I cannot definitively state that they are same person. This fellow is a lot of work, and none of the four or five other researchers in my family line have found any documents to pin down who he was. The female researchers are much more open to the possibility that he was the same man, while the male researchers are a lot more reluctant to entertain thoughts that he may have been, since that would mean he was a bigamist. I tend to think I am right about him being the same man, because Great Great Grandpa surrounded his existence with mystery, no documents exist to tell us about where he came from, who his parents were, where he died, or where he was buried. If I were a bigamist that is exactly the approach I would take. The family story told to generations is that he was murdered for his money, but even that story is fraught with conflicting evidence in the records. I have the data collated for this table, but fitting it onto a printed page is taking some time. After that the table is ready for print, the discussion about it needs to be cohesively written.

That is just two people out of the hundreds that will be described in the book. They are the most controversial though, it will be easier going when Great Great Grandfather Alexander, and his daughter Mary Ann have been dealt with to my satisfaction.

And then of course there are the references, which are formatted in a higgledy piggledy way, using different conventions. This will not do, I am trying to rewrite them as I go along, but there are hundreds and hundreds of them to deal with, and this will take time.

I tend to work on this difficult beginning to the book in short spurts, taking long breaks to think about the approach I am taking, and to search for data that may have been missed.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Thursday 21 April 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 11.1°C
Dewpoint: -1.6°C
Humidity: 41%
Wind: SE 7 km/h

Quote

“There were many selfish people about these days, people who seemed not to care if they scraped the cars of others or bumped into people while waking on the street. Mma Ramotswe knew that this was what happened when towns became bigger and people became strangers to one another; she knew too that this was a consequence of increasing prosperity, which, curiously enough, just seemed to bring out greed and selfishness.
Life was far better, though Mma Ramotswe, if we knew who we were. In the days when she was a schoolgirl in the Mooched the village in which she had been born, everybody had known exactly who you were, and they often knew exactly who your parents, and your parents’ parents, had been…”
The No. 1 Detective Agency Series, Book 6, The Company of Cheerful Ladies
Alexander McCall Smith