Daily Bread

Years ago I baked all of our bread, all of the time. Then we moved to the country house, and my job demanded my time for almost all my waking hours, and the bread baking just wasn’t possible. Then the job disappeared, and I began taking on a series of truly horrid, very low paying, local jobs with either long hours, or on-call short notice jobs that chopped up my time so that I couldn’t really expect to have open ended hours for bread baking. Bread baking became more and more difficult to undertake, and eventually I just gave it up.

Then we moved to Mist Cottage. Living in the tunnels-through-the-boxes in this tiny house, and working on downsizing, took years. There were also significant renovations going on the whole time. Then, just as the physical environment was stabilizing, Attila had a “midlife crisis”, and life upended in a different way.

Attila’s crisis has eased, 2018 was survived, life at Mist Cottage has stabilized, and I am able to return to baking all of our bread.

Years ago, before we moved to the country house, I purchased 50 pounds of whole wheat flour. If life had not had other plans for me, and my bread baking had continued, the flour would have been easily consumed before its shelf life had expired. But life did have other plans for me. The flour was not consumed. Some of it spent time in the cupboard. Some of it spent time in a 6 gallon bucket. Some of it spent time in the freezer.

The flour that spent time in the cupboard was thrown away a few months ago, when I began to organize the basement and finally checked it, after the garage roof project was completed. It was rancid.

The flour that spend time in the 6 gallon bucket was edible, not fresh exactly, but edible, and it has provided us with bread for the last month. I am glad it is gone, I did not enjoy baking with it.

The flour in the freezer was checked yesterday, it was fresh, not off at all, and so it will be used for bread baking until it is gone.

When all of the old whole wheat flour has been consumed, I will begin to mill my own flour, in small batches, from whole grains. Whole grains keep much longer than milled flour. The whole grains will be kept in the freezer, then thawed in small quantities, to be milled for our daily bread.

I will be experimenting with all kinds of grains, and hope to try Rye, Kamut, Spelt, Red Fife Wheat, and Einkorn Wheat. Currently I am searching for reasonable suppliers. Shipping is the real issue with grains, because they are very heavy, so that the cost of shipping is around the same as the cost of the grain itself. So far I’ve found only a few Ontario suppliers, who cater almost exclusively to the well off, and quite a few fantastic suppliers from the prairies. I”ve even found suppliers from the USA, with free shipping, and their products would be cheaper to import than products purchased locally, or in Canada. Decisions, decisions!

Worldly

Weather

-9°C (-19C last night!)
Date: 9:00 AM EST Friday 8 March 2019
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -8.7°C
Dew point: -14.2°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: SW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -13
Visibility: 24 km

Note: The predicted temperatures going forward are getting warmer, so that our Heat Pump will be taking over the heating from the forced air furnace, most of the time. The low humidity and static problems will subside. Heat Pump heating requires a different kind of wardrobe during the day. It circulates room temperature air, so that the thermal mass in the house does not heat to a higher temperature as it does with the heat from the forced air furnace, which blasts warmer than room temperature air. This means that objects, like the chair I sit on, will be room temperature, and cooler to the touch, thus cooling the body on contact. So, my autumn/spring wardrobe will be adopted. I will need slightly heavier clothing to keep comfortable.

Quote

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
Walt Whitman
1819 – 1892


Spring is Dressing Slowly

Attila said, when he arrived home from work last night, that the driving conditions were the worst he had ever driven in. Heavy snow and white outs that made the road slippery and everything on or around it almost invisible. He made it home, it just took an extra forty five minutes to get here.

Last night the temperature dropped to -19C and the wind chill was -27C. I awoke this morning to a loud snap as the wood in the house cracked in the cold.

Tonight they predict the temperature will go down to -19C again, but the wind chill will only be -23C.

And then…

On Saturday the temperature is supposed to rise to 2C during the day, and every day after that, in the forecast, it is predicted to rise above freezing.

It seems that spring is dressing slowly.

This morning the sun is shining brightly and the snow sparkles. The world is a little quieter when there is fresh snow on the ground. The sharp edges of car doors slamming and big trucks rumbling by are captured and softened by in the light white blanket.

I am frequently asked “what are you doing today.” The answer is always the same, I’ve no plans, the days unfold like flowers on a summer day. People keep asking. I keep telling. I must be fascinating! 🙂

Life isn’t perfect, but there are perfect moments. I like to gather them as they drift by, and put them in my basket.

Worldly

Weather

-17°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 6 March 2019
Condition:
Mainly Sunny Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -17.2°C
Dew point: -19.1°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: NW 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -24
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“‘Taint’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.”
Sarah Orne Jewett
1849 – 1909

The Very Long Wait

Last fall I began a bit of a journey, and I have been waiting for its conclusion.

I had two health issues (well three, but this entry is about two of them). One was my upcoming colonoscopy. The second was a largish lump on the inside of my mouth, which did not heal or go away.

The colonoscopy is troubling for me on five levels. In order of severity they are: dealing with the hospital staff re: anaphylaxis; the procedure itself, which is very unpleasant; the preparation, which is horrendous for me, I don’t tolerate the purge chemicals well; the fear of human error resulting in my death, due to my anaphylaxis; and last but certainly not least, the fear that cancer will be found, and many more colonoscopies will populate my last years on earth.

About four weeks before a colonoscopy, my stress levels begin to increase. The colonoscopy was booked for early December.

The result of the colonoscopy was a polyp, which was removed and biopsied. The surgeon left the country just after the procedure, so my wait to hear the results dragged on until the middle of January. The results were benign, but the surgeon wasn’t satisfied with the thoroughness of the procedure, and I was then booked for a further test, a colonography. That is when my blood pressure really started to rise. That procedure was done, with the horrendous preparation again, in early January. The results were that there was no problem.

Now ordinarily I would have felt considerable relief! But, the other health issue was also in play. I had seen an ENT specialist, early in the fall, about the growth in my mouth, and he recommended it be removed. When I went to that appointment, he wasn’t prepared for my anaphylaxis, and could not perform the procedure. He left it that he would research a safe anesthetic, and call me to schedule the procedure again. I did not hear from his office. I called every few weeks to see what was going on, they kept saying they would call me… they did not.

I finally had an appointment with the Nurse Practitioner, and told her about the situation. She wrote to the ENT and within a week and a half I received a call from the ENT’s office to schedule the procedure. I found this whole process stressful.

After the lump was removed, it was time to wait for the biopsy results. Today I got the results, benign. The lip is healing nicely, so I am hoping I can just forget about this now.

So, since last fall I’ve had these biopsies and procedures at the back of my mind. I don’t dwell on these kinds of things, but they do create a stressful backstory to life.

During the fall and winter, my blood pressure has been rising, which is not surprising. I am working with my Nurse Practitioner to address the issue. My hope is that now that all of these procedures are completed, and the much awaited results have arrived, stress levels will decrease as will blood pressure readings. This remains to be seen however, high blood pressure is in my family health history, and I am genetically prone to it, so I just might have to consider new treatment strategies.

Winter continues to exert its influence, this last day of February. The sun is shining brightly on this morning’s snowfall, and it is cold out there. It isn’t as cold as the Polar Vortex, but it is cold enough that a hat and scarf are very much needed. It seems this cold weather will persist for at least the first week of March. The sun getting stronger every day, and the snow melts away more quickly than it did even a few weeks ago. Spring is coming.

Tank is having difficulties again. She goes into the garage again tomorrow. With a little luck the fix will be easy, and the bill won’t be debilitating. We haven’t quite recovered from the last repair bill for Tank!

Well, here I am then. Full of good news, with a sprinkling of annoyances, the spice of life.

Worldly

Weather

-11°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Thursday 28 February 2019
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.1°C
Dew point: -17.5°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.”

Old farmer.

Flowing Gently

It is snowing this evening. We have had some lovely sunny days over the last few days, which I have enjoyed no end. There is something soul quenching about sunlight streaming into a room.

We have been getting a lot of freezing rain, ice pellets, snow, and associated bad roads this winter. The freezing rain and ice pellets are particularly tiresome, and dangerous for those who need to travel. The snow, although it seems to keep on coming, also melts back frequently this year, so the accumulations are not overwhelming. We are now well into February, with less than five weeks until spring. Spring, here at Mist Cottage, sends envoys of hope into the month of March. Something to look forward to in the very near future!

Life has been relatively uneventful since my last entry. The days flow by, gently.

One benefit of having to make all food from scratch is that food preparation becomes a vocation, perhaps an obsession.

I am back to baking our daily bread. My bread baking has been intermittent since I was working at several low-paying, short-shift, on-call jobs. That was awful. That is a lifestyle that a lot of young people have to put up with. I have to admit though, adjusting to that kind of work chaos as I entered my senior years was very, very difficult to adjust to. Your stamina does decrease with age. Now I have time to pay attention to the long process of baking bread, and am not exhausted when I am trying to do it. I love retirement, even though I don’t have a pension, and there are a lot of serious financial challenges involved, it is much preferable to working multiple crap jobs at the same time, for less than a living wage.

But I digress.

The reorganization of the basement, which is contingent on the reorganization of the garage, which became feasible just this past autumn with a new roof, is beginning to pay off. The canned food, empty canning jars, and canning equipment are currently all stored in one area in the basement, which makes it so much easier to manage. The thing about having your own canned food is that, when the food has been consumed, the empty jars need to be washed and stored. In order for this to proceed smoothly, organization is required, and has now been achieved to an acceptable level. More thought needs to go into the canning storage areas, but they are functioning relatively smoothly for the moment.

I canned a dozen liter jars of Paula Red Applesauce last fall, and we are down to two jars left on the shelf. It makes a lovely breakfast served with homemade 100% whole wheat bread, spread with a bit of peanut butter. It is extra special when drizzled with 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, a small indulgence, but a worthy one.

The stores of canned tomatoes and Red Pepper Tomato Sauce are dwindling.

The Green Tomato Mincemeat, and the Crab Apple Jelly will be enjoyed for many years, as sugar is not a large part of our diet.

As the winter passes it becomes obvious how much of each type of canned food we will need in a given year. The quantity of some canned foods is just the right amount. Some we will run out of before canning time comes again, and others will last several years before needing to be replenished.

It is my plan to eventually can soups and stews, so that there is instant food on the shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. Canning takes up a lot of space in the kitchen, and it will still be some time before the effects of the organization, that began when the new garage roof was finished, will be felt all the way into the kitchen.

So, happily, not much going on here at Mist Cottage ,except enjoying the passage of time, and the good things that life brings my way.

Worldly

Weather

FREEZING RAIN WARNING
-4°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Wednesday 20 February 2019
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.2°C
Dew point: -5.5°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: E 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“The conceit of people, to think that if they’re not reading about you in a newspaper or magazine, then you’re not doing anything.”
Patti Smith
Via Alan Light interview in Medium

New Trend?

I am noticing something in the Netflix offerings. A few programs they are creating are offering personal growth up as a desirable (albeit mysterious and confusing) outcome. This element was missing in the offerings celebrating dysfunction, violence, intrique, etc. etc. etc. Just months ago we couldn’t find a single new offering from Netflix that we hadn’t already watched, that we enjoyed. And suddenly there are several new one season series that we have enjoyed. So far we have watched Russian Doll, which is black and funny, interesting and intelligent, and going in the right direction from our perspective. Presently we are watching Cuckoo, which is silly, and horrifying in some ways, and yet moves towards people being true to themselves and kind and tolerant of others while doing so, at least so far, we have only watched a few episodes.

Around the time Princess Diana died (1997), I noticed a lot of contempt-for-the-disadvantaged, greed romanticization, and mean-spirited-selfishness used as the unspoken underbelly in many of the ads on TV, and the premise of many programs at that time and since. It was disturbing at the time, to observe the culture going in that direction, and it has degenerated into some of the current leaders in different political arenas in North America. We haven’t hit rock bottom, but only because things can always get worse, there is no bottom.

I certainly hope that what I am detecting on Netflix harbours of a kinder, more tolerant social climate to come. One can always hope.

We are expecting a winter storm, it sounds as if it will be miserable, and I am glad I no longer have a long drive to work over the treacherous roads in the north. Life is full of small blessings. We are well into February now, and winter will soon be loosening its grip. We are warm and comfortable here at Mist Cottage.

One thing about forced air heating (and heating with wood) is that the air becomes very dry, and static electricity is a problem. So far this winter, I have had no nosebleeds, for the first time in decades. I cold still have a nosebleed, the winter is not over yet, but I’ve made it this far into the heating season without issue, and how wonderful it is. The cauterization in my nasal passage seems to have worked wonders. The static electricity means that my fine hair is completely out of control. My hair will NOT be tied back, pinned back, or held fast under a cap! It is always finding its way into my eyes, tickling my nose, catching on my glasses, and it is very annoying. So far I’ve found nothing to subdue it.

We enjoyed a turkey dinner on Sunday last, Attila prepared the entire meal. A ten pound turkey usually does us five or six dinners for the first week, a pot full of turkey soup for Attila’s snacks, and five or six packages of diced turkey meat in the freezer, for future Instant Pot casserole type meals. Turkey dinners work well for us.

This morning I am sitting in the sun, while it continues to shine, and baking muffins for Attila’s lunches. A happy day.

Worldly

Weather

WINTER STORM WATCH
-7°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 11 February 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -7.4°C
Dew point: -14.4°C
Humidity: 58%
Wind: NE 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“‘Taint’t worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.”
Sarah Orne Jewett
1849 – 1909