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


The Web

The network of human interaction has been altered. It has been altered by the species itself.

There was a day, not so long ago, when humans formed healthy communities, communities that sustained all but a few.

Technology is fast altering human connections to other humans. We are teaching our babies and children to talk to machines that mimic human responses. Our species has successfully anthropomorphized devices.

It has yet to be seen how this will affect the future of the species.

I miss shelling garden peas and talking with my Granny on the porch.

Worldly

Weather

1°C
Date: 6:45 AM EST Wednesday 9 January 2019
Condition: Light Rain and Snow
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 0.8°C
Dew point: 0.8°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: WNW 12 km/h
Visibility: 13 km

Quote

“Walking is man’s best medicine.”
Hippocrates
460 BC – 377 BC


Wintry

Monday, January 7, 2019

It was cold last night with a -23C wind chill. I didn’t notice, for which I am truly grateful. I did add an extra comforter on the the bed though, and spent the night quite comfortably; it was needed, or I would have been too hot. Tomorrow we are expecting rain. Weather has a logic of its own.

Attila worked in the garage until bedtime last night. Now that his projects are not dominated by a deadline, he enthusiastically works away until the goal is reached. He finished his new workbench, using only wood that had been collected free of charge, or purchased at incredibly low prices when he worked in the lumber industry. The new work bench has a lot of storage, so once he organizes his tools and such, I should be able to find anything I need to tackle the small projects that interest me. What I will notice most though, is how bare the basement will feel when he moves his tools and building supplies out into the garage!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

It is much warmer today. Freezing rain fell over the course of the night and collected in a thick sheet over all, but melted quickly so that the roads were passable by morning. The sky is cloudy and grey, grey, grey, so very grey!

Today I am thinking about my least favourite things. Here are three, prioritized. I think everyone’s list will be different, and I think mine is a fairly lucky list!

1. Mean spirited expression of any kind. I feel either disgusted or ill, or both, when I have to witness this. I think most people have these thoughts or feelings from time to time, and acting on them is optional, a choice. Our species is capable of toilet training, so restraint is something we are capable of, there is precedent.

2. Medical Treatment Involving anything injected of ingested, as per my anaphylaxis. A constant threat.

3. Colonoscopy Preparation. What misery. I have had many different preparations for a colonoscopy. The one below has been the best so far, directly quoted. Because the test only comes up every five years, and I won’t be able to find the instruction sheet five years from now, I just know it, I am putting this in my journal so I can find it when I REALLY need it! I will get new instructions of course, but I’ve tried a lot of different preps, and this one did not hospitalize me, cause back spasms, or result in severe dehydration. It is hands down the best successful colonoscopy prep procuedure I’ve tried. Some preps are easier on the body than others, this one is the most humane I’ve tried.

Skip the next bit if it is too much detail.

WEEK BEFORE EXAMINATION:

Because the colonoscopy preparation has been such an ordeal for my body, I decided to try a special diet for the week before the examination. This was hugely beneficial for me, but might not be for someone else. I stuck to:

White bread, pasta, and rice.

Well-cooked vegetables without skin.

Fruit without skin or seeds.

Lean meat, chicken, or fish.

Eggs.

Peanut Butter.

Milk.

“Bowel Preparation:

1 box PICO-SALAX: the box contains 2 packets. you will need to take both of them as instructed below. Do NOT follow the instructions on the PICO-SALAX insert.
[Note: I used PURG-ODAN, an identical product for half the price. 2 sachets each containing 16.1 g of powder with three active ingredients: sodium picosulfate 10 mg, magnesium oxide 3.5 g, and citric acid 12 g. Also each sachet contains non-medicinal ingredients: orange flavour, potassium bicarbonate, and sodium saccharin.]

Bowel Preparation Instructions:

A. Three days and Two Days before the Examination:
– at 5:00 p.m. take 2 DULCOLAX tablets (5 mg. each) with water, each evening.

B. On the day before the Examination:
– Diet for this day is restricted to CLEAR LIQUIDS ONLY for the ENTIRE DAY. No solids to be taken. Clear liquids can include Apple Juice, jell-o, chicken broth, Gatorade/Powerade (clear), Popsicles, water, ice, black tea or coffee, decaffeinated pop, etc. NO MILK PRODUCTS or other liquid that you cannot see through.
[Note: no red, pink, or purple coloured liquids.]

Again, do not follow the instructions on the PICO-SALAX insert. Instead:

At 11:00 a.m.: take the 1st packet of PICO-SALAX. Mix it in a 5 ounce (150 ml) mug of cold water. Stir while drinking to ensure all of the laxative has dissolved. Drink at least one glass of water each hour over the next three hours. Take extra clear fluids if desired. The laxative will produce 2-6 watery bowel movements.
[Note: I found this to be accurate, three, the first one hour after drinking the potion. This is important because from this point forward one must be steps away from the throne, time is of the essence. I drank one extra cup of water and 590 ml Gatorade.]

At 3:00 p.m.: take the 2nd packet of PICO-SALAX. Mix in a 5 ounce (150 ml) mug of cold water, again stirring while drinking. Continue to drink at least a glass of water each over the next three hours. Take extra clear fluids if desires. There be further watery bowel movements.
[Note: The last statement is an understatement. This is where the real show begins! 30 minutes after drinking, things got going, and continued with some frequency, 12 times in my case, spanning six hours. Drinking the directed amount of water is essential, but extra will result in more frequent and violent episodes, I drank approximately two extra cup of water and 300 ml Gatorade.]

After midnight: take nothing by mouth. DO NOT EAT OR DRINK AFTER MIDNIGHT.

DAY OF THE TEST: Important Information.

No breakfast. No solids or liquids: 2 – 4 ounces of water only is desired. Take medication only as directed by physician.

EXAMINATION: …After the examination, drink lots of fluids and resume your normal diet.
[Note: the medical person advised easing back into a normal diet, slowly, particularly with greasy foods.]

Addendum: Why isn’t there a Joe’s Gentle Enema Service near every hospital!

Worldly

Weather

-12°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 7 January 2019
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 103.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -11.6°C
Dew point: -16.0°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: ENE 18 km/h
Wind Chill: -1

3°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Tuesday 8 January 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.1°C
Dew point: 2.5°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: SSE 16 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“I don’t think anyone can DO anything that would make him worthy of love. Love is a gift and cannot be earned. It can only be given.”
Gordon Atkinson

Little Things

We did manage to spend a few hours celebrating Christmas with our Grandbabies, at Terra and Lare’s house. Luna drove to Terra’s house to visit her for a few days after Christmas, and we were invited for a Turkey Dinner. We had a lovely time, and the Grandbabies enjoyed the modest gifts we had for them.

My daughters are good mothers, the Grandbabies are such wonderful little people! Willow (5 months old) slept in my arms the whole time we were there. We see them so seldom that they change a lot between visits, Imp is insightful, Elf is full of technical information, Tink is imaginative, Sunny loves to repeat any word you can utter aloud, Sky loves trucks, and Willow is cuddly.

The first day of 2019 was blissfully uneventful.

I baked all day.

Mincemeat Squares, Apple Muffins, White Bread
Cooling: Mincemeat Squares, Apple Muffins, White Bread

I baked muffins, which were almost a disaster, but not quite. I forgot the sugar. The recipe only calls for two tablespoons of sugar, so little that you hardly notice when it isn’t included. But I do notice. These muffins are for Attila’s lunches on workdays, so I feel bad when I forget the sugar. This isn’t the first time either, I have forgotten the sugar many times. I am so focused on reducing sugar in my diet that it has become habitual to leave it out of recipes. But it is not appropriate to leave it out of Attila’s muffins!

Two measures were taken as a result of the forgotten sugar. The first was in the batch being baked. They were just put into the oven when I remembered I hadn’t added the sugar. So out they came immediately. Using a teaspoon I made a little hole in the middle of the batter for each muffin, and dropped a half a teaspoon of sugar into each hole. Then I returned them to the oven to bake. When they were baked and cooled, I tried one. Not bad, but still not quite as good as they would have been had I remembered to add the sugar to the batter itself.

The second measure was to move the sugar canister from its relatively obscure location beside the back door, to a more prominent location on the kitchen counter. Hopefully the in-my-face location of the sugar canister will remind me to add the sugar next time I bake muffins for Attila.

I baked Mincemeat Squares for dessert for New Year’s Day. I used my home canned Green Tomato Mincemeat. Oh my it was good!

I am on a special diet this week, starting today, no roughage. That means no whole wheat bread, seeds, nuts, vegetable peels, red meats, whole grains of any kind, that sort of thing. I can no longer tolerate store bought white bread. I just can’t eat it. All of the bread we buy is whole grain or rye, so that would not do. The solution was to bake a loaf of white bread. Oh my it is good!

Our New Year’s Dinner consisted of Roast Pork, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Blue Hubbard Squash, and corn. The Pork Roast was done in the Instant Pot. Oh my it was good! It is Attila’s all-time favourite meal.

Attila had a busy first day of the year as well. He continues to work on the garage. The wiring for the lights is now complete, and includes an electrical outlet for his power tools. It is now possible for him to work in the garage, rather than in the back yard on the grass as he has been doing since 2010. He also cleared the workbench, which has been piled to the ceiling with spare wood. Trim was installed around the eaves of the garage, where the winter wind was whistling through. There was even time to work on expanding the garden, using plain cardboard as mulch, topped with leaves.

Attila made Turkey Soup yesterday. It was his second batch. He made a batch last week with the carcass from our Christmas Turkey. Yesterday he made a batch from the turkey carcass leftover from Terra’s Christmas Turkey. Terra and Lares do not eat leftovers. They are very different from us.

This is our first winter with the new windows installed, and the additional insulation in the attic, and new roof on the garage. These changes have
altered the microclimate in the house. The old windows were far from airtight, particularly in the basement. One of the old windows in the basement had no glass, just nailed on boards, with a lot of gaps. When the furnace operated, the gap around the filter drew in fresh air, which entered unfettered around the basement windows. Fresh air can no longer freely enter the basement via the windows. As a result the gap at the filter was drawing air from the basement itself, we could smell the slightly musty aroma of the basement concrete floor every time the heat came on.

The air feeding the furnace needs to come to the furnace through the cold air return, not through the gap by the furnace filter. Our system has not been functioning as best it could. But until this winter the situation had not come to our attention. It would have eventually, but we have been busy with other projects here at Mist Cottage. However, this winter the smell has arrested our attention.

The solution, we hope, was to construct a duct tape flap over the gap around the furnace filter. When the furnace draws fresh air, the flap is suctioned tight to the gap, which in turn forces the furnace to draw fresh air from the cold air return ducts from the main floor of the house. It seems to be working well. It might even reduce our electricity bills (all of our heat is electric when the temperature is above -7C), and hopefully maintain a higher humidity on the main floor of the house during the winter months. By spring we will know if these benefits have been realize.

Worldly

Weather

-12°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Wednesday 2 January 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.7°C
Dew point: -17.0°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: NE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“A harbor, even if it is a little harbor, is a good thing… It takes something from the world, and has something to give in return.”
Sarah Orne Jewett
1849 – 1909