Take Two

All kinds of fun and games going on in my digital world today! I have been unable to access my sites most of the day, and it turned out to be a problem on my hosts end, got that sorted and then it happened again. Not really sure what the problem is, it will probably take days to figure it out and make the system stable again. Sigh.
And my printer died. An ink jet printer, and I guess the nozzles plugged permanently, because it is seldom used. Research reveals that this is a common problem with these printers, no fix. Sigh. I am now looking at cheap laser printers, because the toner doesn’t have such problems when the printer is seldom used. My other alternative is to drive to a printer every time I want a sheet printed, which is what I will do, at least in the short term. Another Sigh.

AND I wrote a whole blog entry this morning that was sent into the ether, not sure how that happened, I think it had something to do with the host’s issues. This is a case of gone and soon forgotten, no idea what I had written. Luckily I am seldom at a loss for words, and I am back on the keyboard.

I have been trying to make a sweet Holiday Bread. The first two loaves were dense, delicious, but very dense. This is my third loaf, Panettone. This loaf was a success, good crumb, moist texture, and it tastes amazing. The reason I am having such a challenge baking a Holiday Sweet Bread is that I am using 100% whole wheat flour, milled by me right here in the kitchen, and drastically reducing the salt to 1/8th teaspoon. Holiday loaves are not traditionally made with 100% whole wheat bread, so I am having to adjust traditional recipes, and this is my first relatively successful loaf.
Did I only bake this loaf yesterday? it is half eaten now, and Attila has only had a bite! I suppose it is better to binge on whole wheat bread than on chocolate desserts or candy, or on salty snacks like potato chips. At least this is what I tell myself.
Still, two days, at 1/4 of the loaf each day, is 6 teaspoons of sugar (my limit), and 150 mg of sodium (way under my limit, so I am not going overboard on the bad stuff. That is the advantage of baking my own sweets, I can control the sugar and sodium content, which takes a lot of recipe tweaking. But it is oh so worth it.

The basement project continues slowly but surely. After the drywall was painted in the first areas tackled, Attila began the long and arduous process of moving “stuff” into the finished area, so as to clear space in the next area that he means to work on. He has to spend more time shifting things around than he does working on the actual project. That is what it is like living in an almost tiny house while living in it, there is no wiggle room.

With what Attila has accomplished so far, our energy consumption in November was down 9% from that used in October. This is even more significant in that November was much colder than October, so the heat pump was running a lot more. That is probably the biggest gain we will see from the project, as the rest of the basement is partially underground, and more of the heat was lost through the completely exposed-to-the-weather concrete walls.

When the insulating project is complete, I will be spending the rest of the winter organizing the basement, which is a very big job. I am looking forward to it though.

A case in point, raisins. I KNOW we bought several bags of raisins. But, with all the chaos of things being moved to and fro, I cannot find the raisins. Attila looked, and he can’t find them either. We KNOW a bag of raisins is somewhere in the basement, and luckily raisins are an item that will keep well, until we finally find them. In the meantime, I am tempted to buy more raisins to tide us over until the big basement reorganization can begin, to remove any pressure on the insulating project.

Onward! The next section of wall to be insulated involves electrical wiring. The plot thickens. This will require some rewiring, which is going to add a considerable amount of time to the project. It gets even more complicated when it becomes time to work around the electrical panel and the plumbing. Now that I think about it, it might be NEXT winter that I spend organizing the basement, not this winter. Oh well, everything takes time, and we knew when we bought Mist Cottage that she was a tear down, which means that there is as much work involved renovating as there would be building from scratch.



Wow! It was -14C this morning when I began writing the first version of this blog entry, and now it is 0C. The weather I like least is the “roller coaster” weather, above freezing, then below freezing, then above freezing, and so on… The fluctuations above and below freezing wreak havoc with modern human transportation!

Date: 1:00 PM EST Tuesday 3 December 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -0.4°C
Dew point: -10.2°C
Humidity: 48%
Wind: W 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -4
Visibility: 24 km


“That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”
William Wordsworth
1770 – 1850

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