Thank you!

I would like to thank the people who have offered comfort for my fear, fear related to Attila having to return to the workplace, being at high-risk-for-complications, and Covid-19. Your feedback and warmth are very much appreciated!

Fear is a healthy response to danger, the danger is real, I value my response because it facilitates staying alive. Fear keeps us sanitizing, keeping our distance from people, ensuring a healthy diet, regular exercise, getting enough sleep (working on that!), and taking the every day precautions needed to keep the virus out of our lives. When Attila was off work, these fears were fairly easily managed, we had a great deal of control and agency.

Fear is a little more challenging to deal with when Attila goes to work, where he does not control where he stands, where other people stand, who is in the washroom when he is in the washroom, who enters the building, if someone forgets to put their mask up after bringing it down after being in an isolated area, what kinds of risky behaviour (e.g. family parties, we see them all around us) other workers are participating in, well there are just too many variables that we either have no control over, or no knowledge of. So it is going to take more time to develop a workable system of denial about the risks, what kinds of information to push to the back on one’s mind and ignore for the sake of sanity, and what kinds of information require research, consideration, and even action. This will take some time, and is subject to constant ongoing change as the workplace evolves in various ways, e.g. a change in tasks and juxtapositions of fellow workers. This fear is a dance with danger; it isn’t comfortable, nor should it be. This is much more difficult for Attila than it is for me, in that it makes being in the workplace very high stress. My challenge is to deal with the feelings of helplessness that accompany the fear, and as I watch Attila look increasingly pinched and tired with each passing day.

Attila’s workplace is certainly not as high risk an environment as a long-term care home, but it is as high risk as some of the manufacturing plants that have experienced outbreaks and shut downs. His employers have now responded to the health threats with altered and safer work stations, temperature and symptom monitoring, mandatory masks supplied by the company, a lot of hand cleaning stations, and other measures. Although this is reassuring, and one cannot imagine what further precautions they might take, it is not a guarantee against contracting the virus from an infected individual, in the enclosed spaces where they all work.

It is my opinion that a way to reduce the death rate (per capita) in Canada is for the federal government to offer the option of early retirement with full pension to individuals who have comorbidities that put them in danger for complications, and are 60 or over. This group, between 60 and 65, with comorbidities, has to work to pay the bills and survive. This group is not receiving the protective measures that I think are necessary for their particular situation. This would free jobs for younger people who feel they are facing little to no risk. Companies need the support of the federal government to offer such a choice to this compromised older group of employees. (I have suggested this to our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.)

Of course, the focus on the tragic profit based, long-term care home situation is paramount, but the additional measure I suggest would allow many vulnerable people to remove themselves from the workplace, stay out of harms way, flatten the curve, and reduce the death rate per capita for Covid-19.

The New England Journal of Medicine has an interesting opinion piece on this issue:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2013413?query=recirc_mostViewed_railB_article

Worldly

Weather

19°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Thursday 4 June 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 18.9°C
Dew point: 15.0°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: SW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is only prudent never to place complete confidence in that by which we have even once been deceived.”
Rene Descartes
1596 – 1650

Getting There

Good news on the hydro bills, time-of-use billing has been postponed again until October 31st, but the price jumped from 10.1 cents per Kwh, to 12.8 cents per Kwh. It could be a lot worse! I hate time-of-use billing because hydro gets to decide when I can do what around the house, which feels incredibly intrusive.

The weather certainly is changeable! The hot and humid weather we had last week has moved on, and in its place we have cool, windy, sunny weather. I prefer the cool sunny weather, it is lovely for sitting in the sheltered porch, working out of doors, having the windows open in the heat of the afternoon, and Mist Cottage maintains a lovely 21C day and night, without the aid of the heating/cooling system.

Our new routines are beginning to take form, changed sleeping schedules are the hardest to deal with. I go through an extended period of sleep deprivation when the sleeping schedule changes, so these shifts are going to take me a long time to adjust to. When I add the stress of Attila working with people in an enclosed space, our health issues, and Covid-19, that makes it all the more difficult to adjust to the sleeping changes. I managed four hours of solid sleep last night, which is pretty good. All things considered, we are off to a good start.

Food is another big adjustment. Attila needs portable food, good nourishing food that will sustain his energy during his shift at work. So flour milling and bread baking become more frequent, and Switchel is made weekly. Switchel is a great, healthy, high energy beverage, made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, and sugar. I cut down Attila’s sugar consumption in the Switchel by replacing half of the called for amount with stevia, it tastes the same to us.

All of Attila’s projects except the garden are on hold. My projects will progress as they are, only more slowly because I am taking on all of the domestic responsibility again, such as bread making, beverage making, meal preparation, and soon garden produce preservation. It will take us both time to find a new equilibrium with our schedule, and become accustomed to the daily worry over Covid-19. We will get there, but this is going to take time.

The garden is a source of great joy for both Attila and myself. He does almost all of the work of course, it is his project, but I have some input into what gets planted, and where it is planted. And we get a lot of pleasure sitting on the back porch, surveying the new life in the garden, the birds, the squirrels, and the rabbits.

There are still a few jars of last year’s Dandelion Jelly, so none needed to be made this spring. The rhubarb is doing very well. So far we have harvested about 5 pounds of rhubarb, and baked one Rhubarb Crisp, and two Rhubarb Upside Down Cakes. Today another Rhubarb Upside Down Cake will be baked. The rhubarb harvest is plentiful enough that there will be some to freeze for winter baking.

Last summer a hanging planter of ever bearing strawberries was purchased. The runners were planted in my raised bed and they did well considering the crowded conditions in that raised bed. All in all that one purchased planter yielded about one quart of strawberries last summer, not the best strawberries, but nice nevertheless. In the autumn the plant was removed from the planter and planted in one of the ash log raised beds, and the runners were moved from my raised bed to a hugelkultur bed that Attila built this spring.

This strawberry plant is ever bearing and was purchased at Costco last summer, in a hanging basket. Last fall Attila transplanted it into this raised bed. Around it are Mallow plants, which are considered weeds, but they have medicinal value, and they are free. Eventually the strawberry plant will put out runners, which I will train into this bed to fill it. When these strawberries overgrow the boundaries of this raised bed, I will transplant the new plants into the hugelkultur.
The irises are blooming! I love iris flowers, I wish they were an ever bearing plant, and that they bloomed all through the spring and summer and into the autumn! You can see that sneaky bindweed lurking in the background.
The lily of the valley is blooming! Attila picked these for me, and they are sitting beside me as I type. They smell so wonderful!

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Monday 1 June 2020
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 14.2°C
Dew point: 7.9°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”
Al Franken
1951 –

Not Able To Work From Home!

Today Attila returns to work. His only other option is to stay home with no income, and since we still need to eat, need shelter, well, he doesn’t really have any choice in the matter. So here we are, dreading the possible exposure to Covid-19, taking every precaution we know of to prevent either of us from contracting the virus, and living as healthy a lifestyle as we can under the present circumstances.

Our stress levels are going to be very high from now on, because our precautions may not protect us. We feel vulnerable to the stupidity of greed, that sees low risk people at home without work, and high risk people working when it would be wiser to isolate at home.

If Attila is infected, we will know it happened at his workplace.

The virus is more often fatal for vulnerable people, two of us here, and yet there is very little consideration taken to support isolation for the most vulnerable people who are living independently. If the employer calls an employee with co-morbidities into work, if the employee needs an income to survive, the employee will go back to the workplace with all those who are younger or have no co-morbidities. If the employer calls an employee living with a vulnerable individual, or a senior, then the employee will go back to the workplace with all of those who are not living with vulnerable people.

Co-habitation and family are not part of the economic equation of protecting the vulnerable members of society. To be honest, I am having trouble seeing just where the protection for the “most vulnerable” is actually going on. The only truly visible support for the long-term care homes where many, many people are dying, is the national military stepping in, and responsibly reporting abysmal conditions in for-profit run care homes, after which the Premier suddenly decided to take over the care-homes reported by the military.

Why did people have to die before the issue was addressed?

I accept that this is the way it is, but I have trouble listening to rhetoric that claims our leaders are taking care of the most vulnerable.

For Example:

“As we face some of the darkest times in our province’s history, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society… we must go above and beyond to ensure they get financial relief, food, medicine and other essentials without delay.”
Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, April 21, 2020. https://globalnews.ca/news/6847643/ontario-coronavirus-additional-funding-seniors-vulnerable/

I guess “most vulnerable” didn’t really cover the people in long-term care, who are still dying in great numbers, some living in appalling conditions that our Premier calls “gut wrenching”. I guess “most vulnerable” didn’t really cover seniors and people with serious co-morbidities who live independently and need to work to survive. I’m not sure just who got the financial relief aimed at the “most vulnerable”, I fear top heavy “helping” agencies are fattening up with the dollars, but I do know it wasn’t us, and it still isn’t us.

Anyway, that is my perspective on Attila being forced back into the working world during this pandemic.

I am scared, and not ashamed of being scared.

I admit to having a little cry after Attila drove away. A good cry can be very cathartic.

Now that I have that off my chest, it is time to carry on.

Our garden received new plants from the local nursery this year. Most of the plants were healthy and are doing very well. BUT the most expensive plants, the shrubs, arrived heavily diseased, which became apparent after about a week in the garden. Aphids attacked both plants, a red currant bush, and a high bush cranberry bush. The red currant bush seemed to be fighting them off with success, but the high bush cranberry was losing almost every leaf to those dreaded little beasts.

I started with a spray of insecticidal soap. It slowed the aphids down for one day, then they were back worse than ever. Watching the shrub slowly die just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So I brought in the big guns, which I haven’t needed to do over the last 10 years, but this nursery baby was so severely infected when we got her, that our usual organic approaches to insect control would not overcome the issue.

I have been waiting for a day without wind to spray the high bush cranberry with an insecticide, as I do not want the chemical spray drifting anywhere else in the garden, where it is not needed and would kill the insects we welcome. The weather has been very windy! But this morning, at 6:00 a.m. the air was calm, so I put on my protective clothing, and out I went to relieve the bush of its aphid infestion. I hope this works!

I am not impressed with the local nursery, who sold us the two infected shrubs for top dollar.

Today is baking day, Attila will need muffins for his lunches, as well as more loaves of bread for sandwiches.

I’ve been mending again. This time I am working on mending my “new clothes” purchased at Costco over the last five years, one pair of pajamas, and two shirts. I don’t buy many new clothes, so having to mend the only ones I’ve purchased in the last five years is truly disappointing. I will contrast those poor quality clothing items from Costco with the other piece of clothing that is being mended, a linen shirt I purchased used for $10, 25 years ago. After 25 years of wear the fabric itself was wearing thought at some pressure points. The Costco clothing needed repairs to frayed seams (cheaply made with inadequate seam allowances) after less than 5 years of very light wear. I hate remaking new clothes because they weren’t made well in the first place.

Here are a few images of my mending projects.

The bottom pant cuff on my almost new pajamas has frayed and detached from the cuff, the seam allowance was not wide enough. Two thirds of the cuff had detached after only a few washings.
I repaired the cuff by turning it up on the right side, stitching it, then used a zig-zag stitch to secure the frayed material to the turned up cuff material. Not elegant, but very functional and good enough for me!
The collar of my 25 year old linen shirt is fraying badly, the fabric has just worn through with use. Not bad for 25 years of wear!
I turned the collar to the inside, stitched it down on the collar band, then stitched the collar edge for stability. I like it better than an actual collar, it will never be out of place.
This is where the fabric wore out along the back yoke of the linen shirt.
What you see here is all of the material left from a shirt I rescued from I don’t know where, it would be over 50 years ago. I’ve used the material from this shirt for various projects over the years, most recently for my face mask. This fabric looked nice with my linen shirt, so I cut a piece from it for mending.
This is the mending patch pinned to the linen shirt, ready for stitching. This floral band was sewn to the seam of the yolk, which has several layers of fabric and is very sturdy. It will then be pressed over the area of the yolk that has worn thin with aga and wear, and sew on.
The linen shirt, the collar turned in and stitched down, and the new floral patch applied across the weak fabric in the back yoke. This is a very big floppy shirt, almost like a cape it is so big and loose fitting. I love it, it offers cool covering that protects me from the sun. It isn’t a particularly pretty shirt, but I wasn’t willing to give it up! We have seen some good times together , this shirt and I.

I like mending better than I like clothing construction, there is something satisfying about rescuing much loved clothing items!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:40 PM EDT Friday 29 May 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 18.8°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WSW 9 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a” gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”
Harper Lee
1926 – 2016
To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960

Last Gasp of the Renovation Budget

When we bought this broken down, abandoned, very small house 10 years ago, it was a “tear down”. We have been renovating for this whole time, mostly addressing structural issues.

Covid-19 means our income, which was just a few dollars above the poverty line, has dropped way below the poverty line. We are managing to buy our food, and garden supplies, keep up with the mortgage and monthly bills. But long-term, I think our remaining, larger renovation plans are cancelled, probably forever.

One of my long-term wishes was to update the original kitchen cabinets. They were hand built, and sturdy, but the cupboard doors don’t close and the drawers drop down when you open them, and they don’t provide a lot of storage. We make them work.

Accepting that we are probably never going to get around to updating the kitchen cabinetry, and knowing that we need more storage and counter space, I decided to put function over form, budget over aesthetics, and ordered two new cabinets that were on sale, to complete the kitchen. These babies make a HUGE difference for day-to-day food preparation and preservation!!

They look beautiful to me, as I see them through the lens of making our time in the kitchen so much more enjoyable. We now have room for food in the kitchen, that was previously stored in the basement, which will reduce my time conveying items up and down a narrow, tricky stair. We now have drawers that don’t flop down when you open them, and fall out when opened too far. We now have cabinet doors that close. I guess none of those things are a very big deal in the larger picture of human life on earth, they are just a very big deal to me right now. My kitchen is completed, bring on the summer and fall harvests for preservation!

Here it is, my big kitchen renovation! We know our renovation budget is shot, so this is a last gasp purchase, on sale, to give us some decent storage space, and counter space, in our tiny kitchen. We used to have a table in this space, but no more, it is now dedicated to storage and work space. These cabinets were easy to install, built to last, and the price was right!
To the left you see my six gallon bucket of wheat berries for milling flour. Above the cabinets is the shelf Attila build to store my herbs and spices. To the right is a cabinet that holds our one gallon jars of dried goods. On the counter top is a dish with washed egg shells, drying so that I can use the mortar and pestle to turn them into a powder, for soil amendment in the garden. On the right of the window sill is my attempt to grow ginger, from a small chunk of fresh ginger from the grocery store, and it is growing!
Everything is now where I can reach it without having to move anything out of the way, or needing two hands to open a drawer to prevent it from flopping down!!
And we have a butcher block counter top!

Worldly

Weather

23°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Saturday 23 May 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.7°C
Dew point: 10.1°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: NNE 15 km/h
Humidex: 24
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”
Samuel Butler
1835 – 1902

Warmer Weather At Last

The weather was lovely today, perfect for sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the sunshine. Perfect for gardening (Attila), and perfect for watching gardening (me)… my kind of watching sports!

The long weekend is over, it was a busy one. We stayed very close to home, as we figured others would not, and we intend on keeping safe.

We did, however, venture out once in the car. A month or so ago I had ordered a red currant, a high bush cranberry plant, two strawberry plants, and a horseradish plant. They were finally ready for pickup. The company had advertised delivery to vehicle, so we thought we would take a chance. We brought all of our protective gear, just in case we needed it.

It went smoothly enough, I called the nursery and prepaid. Then I called from the parking lot, and the fellow left the cart with our order by the back of the car. We discovered he had forgotten the horseradish plant I had paid for, so I phoned him from the car and he brought it over and left it at the back of the car. Attila loaded everything and no one came near us. It was a successful adventure.

We were the only people taking such precautions. When we arrived there were about six people standing about together, chatting, at the entrance to the nursery, and a staff member was chatting less than six feet from another customer. Two older women wore masks, that was refreshing, but they were only protecting others, not themselves, and the others we saw didn’t give a toss.

On Saturday I milled two 1 gallon jars of whole wheat flour. On Sunday I baked five loaves of bread, and one loaf of 10o% whole wheat Squash Spice Raisin Bread. I bake exclusively with whole wheat flour now, that I mill myself. On Monday I baked 9 100% whole wheat hamburger buns. That was my first attempt at hamburger buns, and we were very pleased with the results!

100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns.
My very first attempt, and we like them!

Today Attila and I canned 13 500-ml jars of Coleslaw. Attila chops and prepares the vegetables. I prepare the syrup, the equipment needed for canning, and can the coleslaw. It is a lot of work, but it is a great go to for the vegetable portion of a meal. We have already consumed 10 jars of Canned Coleslaw, and I imagine we will be making more by the end of May. The only expensive ingredients is the red pepper, the rest is as cheap as it gets, cabbage, carrot, and onion.

We are growing cabbage and carrots in the garden, fingers crossed we get a harvest!

Attila has been off work for two months now, and isolated for two months. I’ve been self-isolating since February 27th. The isolation seems normal now.

Good news from our pharmacy! They now deliver, one day a week, and so we do not need to brave the store to get our medications. What a relief that is. When last we had our prescriptions refilled, Attila had to go into the store to get them, they didn’t deliver at that time. Now they do. Now, if only the local grocery store would wake up and provide delivery service! I live in hope.

Worldly

Weather

20°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Tuesday 19 May 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.8°C
Dew point: 3.5°C
Humidity: 34%
Wind: NNE 16 gust 28 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
Bertha Calloway
1925-2017