Kristin Lavransdatter

Books. I have conducted a life long love affair with books. My Mom and Granny read to us when we were little. When I was very young, I associated the act, of transforming black marks on a page into a story, with magic. Books possessed a mysterious alchemy. It was a revelation and a wonder, when I learned it was a mere and predictable configuration of lines and spaces that unlocked the secrets of the written word. Magic suddenly became an easily understood formula. The mystery of books dissolved. But to my surprise the magic continued. There are worlds in books.

Having taught myself to read before I entered the education system, with encouragement and a few basic tips from my Granny, I’ve dedicated a lot of waking hours to the pursuit of reading. My youth was spent reading literature. The first book I ever took out of the school library was Pilgrim’s Progress, and to be honest I wasn’t impressed with the story. Then I discovered The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, and a new and deeper perspective on religious theory opened up to me. Later, during my teen years, when I toiled at manual labour in my summer job picking fruit on a farm, I would read a book at night, and spend the next day, high on my ladder, or on me knees in a field, thinking about what I had read, turning it all over in my mind, looking at it from this perspective and that. My days, although filled with strenuous repetitive work, flew by, and I learned the freedom and joy of manual labour, the mind can fly.

When I entered post secondary education reading took on a completely different cloak. Articles and books were assigned, there was little to no time to explore ideas freely, knowledge was tightly conscribed to a narrow path. I learned to embrace that too, and to love the discipline of it. As time progressed, and I continued with my degrees, concepts and theories deepened in meaning, connections and pathways of thought revealed themselves.

When I left the academy, I was suddenly free to choose my own reading material. Oh the joy in that! I read primarily works written by women, for in the academy the vast majority of authors chosen for me were male. Then, after years of reading only female authors, I began to choose books based on a wide variety of elements.

Which brings me to the book I have most recently read, Kristin Lavransdatter, by Sigrid Undset. I bought this book in the early autumn of 2017, while I was still in mourning after the death of my brother in 2016, intending to read all 1124 pages over the course of the winter. Fate had other plans for me though. It was shortly after I began reading the book, and settling into a peaceful daily routine as the colder weather set in, that Attila announced he was leaving me. After that there was no peace in my life, for a very long time, and although I read occasionally, I did not read often. Attila did not leave, and slowly through 2018 life settled, and a new and fragile peace unfolded. Through 2019, I increasingly turned to my books.

On Saturday last, I turned the page to the very last, in the book Kristin Lavransdatter. I enjoyed the book, the medieval setting in Norway was authentically portrayed, as much as it could be for a book written in the 20th century. I occasionally found it tedious, as it dealt with the religious beliefs, and political climate, the superstructure, of the time. However, the author did not become lost in a fervour of religious or political details, but returned to the small scale human experience when the larger scale contexts of the time had been fleshed out.

I felt a little lost, when I closed the volume for the last time. This book sat by my side through some of the saddest moments in my life. And now, it is time to say thank you Sigrid Undset, thank you for the journey, the time we shared in the magic of story in a book. This book will always be a portal into my time of sadness, and the lights in my life that led me onward and outward.



Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 15 July 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 19.0°C
Dew point: 15.8°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: NW 6 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.”
William Hazlitt
1778 – 1830

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Most of the time, when I read a recipe, I can tell if I will like the resulting dish. But every once in a long while I misfire and the recipe is an epic fail, at least for my taste buds.

I recently found just such a recipe, for an oatmeal breakfast dish cooked in the Instant Pot. I like all of the ingredients, oatmeal, water, carrots, pineapple, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Wow, I thought, what a great breakfast that would make, oatmeal and whole servings of vegetable and fruit, perfect. So I made up a batch a week and a half ago.

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but not this time. This time the whole was much, much less than the sum of its parts. Blech! It was awful.

But, all those paid for ingredients had gone into it, so there was nothing for it but to struggle through eight less-than-stellar breakfasts. The last empty bowl was just rinsed in the sink this morning. It is done. I am healthy. I ate to live, and I am sure my health benefited from it, even if my taste buds did not.

I believe there are better recipes for me, just as healthy, but far more enjoyable. The search continues.



Date: 11:00 AM EDT Friday 12 July 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 20.3°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: NW 13 km/h
Humidex: 30
Visibility: 24 km


“Success is following the pattern of life one enjoys most.”
Al Capp
1909 – 1979


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Attila and I have had a chat, not a long chat, but a very fruitful chat. This domestic relationship is like an onion, layers and layers and layers. So another layer was uncovered. I must say that the two of us are developing, with each other, some new and effective communication skills. It was a tension easing discussion. These kinds of chats are work, but feel like a job well done when accomplished.

Another sunny day has dawned. It will be hot and muggy again today. July has been a month of hot humid conditions, which I do not like. It rained hard all of yesterday morning, so the gardens are much refreshed, and might even welcome this sunshine. The rain barrels are full again.

The Heliopsis that was transplanted from my Granny’s garden is about seven feet tall now, and blooming. It is beautiful, and in a few years it can be propagated by dividing the clump. So many blooms in the garden, Scarlet Runner Beans, Echinacea, Clematis, Heliopsis, Cosmos, Giant Marigold, Marigold, Bindweed (humph), Catnip.

The Catnip is interesting, in that it has grown about three feet tall and the seed heads are visited daily by Goldfinches and Chickadees. The Scarlet Runner Beans are growing oddly, probably due to the drought, and there are only a few beans developing on the plants, although there a copious beautiful blooms. The peas are a disappointment altogether. I have eaten a few handfuls raw, and they are very pleasant, but the yield is very low and the plants are already starting to die off. A few tomatoes are beginning to ripen, tiny little egg shaped tomatoes, heirloom, acidic in taste. They will be wonderful for tomato sauce, so I am hoping the plants are prolific producers. There are other types of tomatoes growing in the garden, Pink Girl, and Beefsteak, nothing ripe yet on those plants. The Blue Hubbard Squash is beginning to take off, and the Zucchini plant has any blooms and no fruit. At this point it doesn’t look like we will get much out of the garden this year, but the growing season isn’t over yet.

Dinner last night was Baked Beans in the Instant Pot. Attila loved them, I did not. The sauce was runny, and the taste is not just what I want. I will try another recipe next time. I won’t know what I want to cook for dinner tonight, until five minutes before I begin to put the meal together. It might be Sweet & Sour Chicken, it might be Mac n’ Cheese, I might even find a recipe to try that features lentils. Time will tell.

My low ebb of the day usually arrives sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Mental processes slow down, eyes water, drowsiness blurs the edges of all projects underway… some days I nap, most days I push through. Yesterday I napped, today I napped. The heat and humidity have been intense for so long, that even though I am indoors most of the time, I am a bit worn down.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Another hot muggy day. I am weary of this weather, and I think I am not alone in this.

The Mac n’ Cheese was another big hit with Attila, but not so much for me. The macaroni was cooked to perfection, the sauce was a lovely consistency. But it was bland. It was made with no added salt or salty flavourings. Attila adds salt and salty flavourings to his food, so he is eating a seasoned version of whatever I prepare. I am eating the unseasoned version. I think that the dishes that he really likes, but I don’t, are about how they taste with high sodium flavourings vs how they taste without them. I will be on a quest to find flavourings for the Mac n’ Cheese that are tasty but low in sodium, as the sodium and cholesterol in the cheese put me at my daily limit for both.

Tonight I will make a spaghetti in the Instant Pot, which is tasty enough for me if I brown the ground beef and onions well before adding the rest of the ingredients to the Instant Pot.

Cooking low-to-no sodium is very challenging.

Attila continues to spend his entire evenings after work, working on the garage project. It will continue this way for some time to come, there is still much to do, it is a very big job. He is happy with this routine, which is fortunate. It means the project will be “completed” to the point where further attention to it will be recreational.

The construction of the new rental unit complex, at the end of the street, is well under way. Huge trucks traverse this narrow little street, roaring as they pass. The sound of large diggers and movers is constant through most of the daylight hours, six days a week. The air rings with music of hammers on nails, men shouting, back up beepers beeping. The din is loud and constant, and I seldom notice it anymore. The intrusive sounds are failing in significance, easily ignored, while bird song, and the wind in the trees is evermore dominant to my senses.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So here it is, the end of July!

I picked some of the Heliopsis from the garden, it sits in front of the desktop computer where is it constantly in sight if I am in the living area. There is something wonderful about fresh flowers.

Attila and I took a run out to the Rideau Camp last weekend. More mice, it is certainly discouraging to have to deal with their mess, and empty the traps every time we visit. The quest to find all entry points continues.

The burn ban had been lifted in the township where the Rideau Camp is located, so we stayed to have a campfire. The rain barrel was full to the brim, so there was plenty of water for putting out a camp fire. I burned the last two stumps that littered the property, left by the bulldozer when the driveway was put in, before we owned the property. The focus is now pulling bulldozed brush out of the bush, on either side of the driveway. Brush is much easier to burn than stumps! Eventually all of the bulldozed debris will be gathered and burned. The Rideau Camp has been a lot of work. This is the third summer spent cleaning up the trash and construction debris left by previous owners. It is a good thing I enjoy tending camp fires, and that both Attila and I enjoy sitting around camp fires.

The generator was packed into the car for the visit to the Camp, so that the evening meal was cooked in… wait for it… surprise… the Instant Pot. I had measured all the ingredients into containers to bring with us, so all that was needed to prepare the meal was to empty the containers into the Instant Pot, and press the button.

Attila continues to tackle the fiddly bits that need doing to finish the garage project. He has closed in most of the garage now, only a few more open areas to clad and seal. I think he will then work on the last wall studs at the back of the garage, and then move on to installing supports between the roof rafters.

My days consist of taking care of domestic matters, bill paying, phone calls, that sort of thing. I have been happily watching videos and films, reading, crocheting, collecting Instant Pot recipes, watching Netflix while I use my elliptical machine, sitting on the back porch… well, life is pretty good.

The hot humid weather continues, and the weather forecast is for more of the same. We need rain, the garden is surviving, but not thriving.

The fire in Parry Sound, 33, is out of control and raging across over 8000 hectares right now. Our property is not in danger, at least for now. It will be a relief when the hot and humid but very dry weather turns and significant rain falls!

So that’s me, for the month of July. The endless heat and humidity, the seemingly endless garage project that is progressing very well, the new Grandbaby Willow, a little beauty, a wee visit with all the rest of the Grandbabies, a few brief visits to the Rideau Camp… and a lot of great food cooked in an Instant Pot!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Thursday 26 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 18.7°C
Dew point: 16.5°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: NW 8 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Date: 10:00 AM EDT Friday 27 July 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.9°C
Dew point: 19.2°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WSW 14 km/h
Humidex: 30
Visibility: 24 km

Date: 4:00 PM EDT Tuesday 31 July 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 24.7°C
Dew point: 18.4°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: SSE 6 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 24 km


“No matter how old you are, there’s always something good to look forward to.”
Lynn Johnston
1947 –

I don’t think Ms. Johnston is old enough to be qualified to make this statement. Now, if my 90 year old Grandpa had said it, or my 87 year old Mom… well that would be different. Thing is, I think they both would agree with her.

Ei tartte auttaa!

Ei tartte auttaa! translates into English as Do not need help!

Recently I read that this is a trait often found in Finnish males. AHA! This phrase describes exactly Attila’s approach to life. He does not enjoy working on projects with another person, as he regards input from others as “help”. Inanimate tools are his only companions when he works on a project. This means that he can tackle a project like the garage, and see it through to completion without any input or assistance from anyone else. This worked well as far as getting the garage project started and finished. That is the up side of this particular trait. There are downsides of course, but right now I am enjoying the up side.

Here it is Monday. I am sitting in my easy chair, contemplating the day. Dinner is planned, an Instant Pot Chili will be prepared on the back deck this afternoon. The ground beef is thawing on the counter, the kidney beans were cooked in the Instant Pot a few days ago, they are sitting in a jar in the refrigerator waiting to become an ingredient. The rest of the ingredients are assembled on the counter and waiting for their big event later today.

The kitchen is extremely cluttered at the moment. There is a backlog of mason jars, and kitchen equipment that is usually stored in the basement. The basement is in a state of flux, due to the garage project, which is to be expected. Rather than spend copious amounts of time moving things in the basement from one place to another, repeatedly, to get at storage areas. I am waiting until items start to migrate to the garage, then as things in the basement are moved they will be organized, and most will not need to be moved out of the way of other things again. The migration is coming soon!

The cluttered kitchen makes cooking, preparing snacks, and making lunches for work really challenging. I spend a lot of time moving things from one place to another to make room for this, then that, to get at this, then that. This will all change in the very near future, but for now things are piling up.

Another hot humid day out there. It rained a bit during the night, but it cleared and now the sun shines hot. More rain would be a very good thing for the garden, and all wildlife. There are wildfires burning all over central Ontario, some out of control, some under control. It was relief to know that there is a complete fire ban in both the municipality where Mist Cottages sits, and at the Rideau Camp. There is a community being evacuated in Parry Sound, Ontario, not too near our Traditional Camp property, a fire caused by humans. Most of the fires raging in Ontario, Canada, are related to lightning.

Today I am making some time for tears. Sometimes life’s sadnesses need a little recognition. The past is gone, but it is still a part of who I am today. So this morning I was thinking of my beautiful little brother who passed away two years ago this month. I shed a few more tears missing my former partner and friend Pat. I thought of other friends who have passed, missing them. I thought of my Granny and Grandpa, missing them. I also let myself shed some tears as I explored the current state of my feelings about the terrible, terrible mistake Attila made last fall and winter. It does me no good to push these feelings away, nor does it any good to get lost in them. For me, the middle ground is the best route forward. I carry on, and occasionally pause for a feeling fest, where any feelings that need to be heard are allowed to see the light of day, they are felt to fullest, honoured, respected, and then it is back to carrying on, “damn the torpedos” so to speak. This is how I deal with trauma and grief.

Having allowed trauma and grief their due, a bottleneck of other emotions rush into my world. Music reaches further, kindness rings louder and truer, colours glow brighter, aromas pierce the senses, being alive becomes a cornucopia. My life is about the taking the bad with the good.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 23 July 2018
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.7°C
Dew point: 21.6°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: ESE 11 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km


“Cry at night. Be a force by day.”
Can’t find the reference!


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Suddenly, this morning, I’d had enough! This garage project has been the centre of existence at Mist Cottage since mid-May. And before that it was the window replacement and attic insulation projects that required intense focus.

Attila has been working really hard on the garage project, and I have been working really hard taking care of every other aspect of domestic life. To my surprise, this morning I was done! Attila isn’t done, he is working away today on the last of the exterior elements, and after that is complete, and it will hopefully be complete today, the rest of the project is finishing work, which can take the rest of eternity as far as I am concerned. Uncle!

I became aware that I was done when we were chatting this morning, about the day. Suddenly I made an unhappy emotional comment about not having spent much time at the Rideau Camp. Aha! There it was, the wall, my patience is beginning to vaporize.

With any luck Attila’s efforts today will be successful enough that it will no longer be necessary to devote all domestic energy to the project. There will no longer be a reason to push hard, postponing the rest of life. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, today is evolving pleasantly. Attila is out there working on the project. I am reading, crocheting, and planning my Instant Pot meal for this evening (Attila is cooking his own dinner, BBQ chicken, which I don’t want).

The day is magnificent! The sun is shining, there is a stiff but pleasant breeze, the humidity is average, and the temperature is comfortable. It is oh so pleasant to sit here on my easy chair, cold drink at hand, breeze playing over my bare arms, chimes swaying and ringing the back porch… my favourite kind of day.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Attila worked till midnight last night, and the result is that the exterior of the garage project is virtually done. He painted the new siding, put the tools and materials away, and then called it a night. There are bits and pieces to do, a few gaps and openings that need to be closed in, that sort of thing.

The garage project is far enough along that I will be out in the garage with the aqueous oxygen spraying everything down, killing every mould and mildew spore that I can. After the big clean up the big reorganization in the garage can begin. After the big garage reorganization is done, the big basement reorganization can begin. After the big basement reorganization is done, the kitchen reorganization can begin. As you can see, the garage project has been a major bottleneck in organizing Mist Cottage. My goal in the near future is to move things around in the basement so that I can reach my canning equipment without hurting myself. Having to ask Attila to fetch every last little thing is a serious deterrent to getting any canning done! He isn’t here most of the time, and when he has been here, he has been working on the garage project. Harvest season is just around the corner.

We have rain! It is a light rain, looks to be an all day drizzle, and it was coming down when I arose at 6:30 a.m. There isn’t much in the rain barrel yet, so it couldn’t have been going on long.

The end of the drought, and the end of the garage project, came at the same time. Relief all round here at Mist Cottage!

The Instant Pot provided yet another great meal last night, Spicy Orange Chicken with Rice and Vegetables. Attila was going to cook his own dinner, BBQ Chicken, but forgot to get the charcoal going in time for dinner, so I shared my dinner with him. The BBQ Chicken was ready about 9:00 p.m., so he had his second supper. The man sure can eat!

Attila and I took a quick trip out to the Rideau Camp to check on things out there. It was a beautiful day, but very hot, the humidex was 35C. I wondered why I could only work on what I wanted to do for a few minutes before having to go and sit down in the shade! We puttered out there for about five hours. The little garden was watered, it is doing well, but I wouldn’t say it is thriving. We haven’t been there for weeks, so it hasn’t been watered. Where we have had no rain at all for weeks here at Mist Cottage, the Camp must have had ample rain over the last few weeks. Everything was green and lovely, and the swampy area was holding water again. Which meant that Attila couldn’t get to the fallen tree that lies in it, to section it. Last time we were there the swampy area was completely dry, but no more.

Attila used the chain saw to section a large dead tree that had fallen down on one side of the driveway. I spent my time removing suckers from tree stumps, and cleaning more mouse droppings out of the trailer. There were not all that many, but all of the warfarin was gone. Sure enough, Attila found a dead mouse in a trap in the boot of Grace the Trailer. Yuck. Attila took care of this dead mouse, I am weary of dead mice.

I was surprised at how exhausted I was by the end of the visit. All the way home I kept falling asleep. Attila was driving. The heat really wears me out. I’ve never done well in the heat, my hands and feet swell, and I suspect my internal organs swell as well, I just feel sick, and miserable, when it is hot and humid.

After arriving home, and eating a quick dinner, Attila was right back out to his garage project. He is enthusiastic, as well he might be, he has done a great job, and it was a long job, that required months of focus. Now, the project continues, but does not require the same level of focus, and it will be a lot more fun.

Me, well I am sitting here on my easy chair with a cold drink beside me, hydrating and writing. Gotta keep hydrated.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 10:00 AM EDT Saturday 21 July 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.3°C
Dew point: 15.9°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: SE 17 gust 29 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Date: 7:00 AM EDT Sunday 22 July 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 17.2°C
Dew point: 16.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: NE 18 gust 30 km/h
Visibility: 16 km


“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
Albert Camus
1913 – 1960

… and even with all that effort there is no guarantee of success…