First Peas!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Yesterday Attila picked the first Peas out of the garden. They are one of the three varieties that were planted, and were not edible pod Peas. Oh the flavour of those little round, green peas, sweet, crunchy, just wow. And then I bit into the pod, just to see what an inedible pod tasted like. Wow again, it was sweet and crunchy and oh so good. I will be eating the pods on these peas. When Attila picked my breakfast greens this morning, he included Swiss Chard, a Beet with greens, and five pods of Peas. Lucky me!

We are well into a heat wave, which is predicted to last at least several weeks. I feel so very blessed to have the air source heat pump, which heats and cools. To conserve energy, by lessening the load on the cooling system, light cotton clothing is worn, and the thermostat has been turned 23C (73.4F), and will be increased slowly as comfort allows. Body movement is limited, cooking is minimized, and any electrical device that isn’t being used is disconnected.

Luckily one of our rain tanks was almost full when the heat wave began. The other has about 200 liters of water in it. With any luck it will rain today, topping up one rain tank, and increasing the volume in the other, as well as lessening the need to water the garden. Most of the plants in the garden will welcome the heat, but they will need lots of water to thrive.

Friday, July 3, 2020

It was almost a year ago when Attila had an eye exam, and discussed a small abnormality on his eye with the opthamologist. Today, almost a year later, the referral specialist’s office called to book an appointment for him. Really!?! I don’t think so, Pandemic appointments for those of us at high-risk-for-compications need to be urgent… if it was urgent, it wouldn’t have taken almost a year for them to follow up with Attila. His condition is the same, waiting until the Pandemic runs its course is the way to go, in my opinion. Hot and humid outside, the heat wave continues, so I sat on the back porch for an hour or so until the thermometer read 30C, then I headed into the cool of the house for the rest of the day.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

I hope US readers have a wonderful day today, 4th of July, a day of celebration for US citizens. I hope the people in the US stay safe, today and every day of the Pandemic.

For weeks now I have been enjoying one meal a day of fresh sauteed Spinach and/or Swiss Chard greens, with various additions such as garlic, onion, fresh peas with pods, an egg, chopped fresh beet, and beet greens. Today I am adding our first Zucchini, only three inches long. The tiny Zucchini are surprising, because the plants they are growing on are as tall as my arm.

Today harvest season begins in earnest here at Mist Cottage! Attila brought in fresh organic Beets with greens, and a bunch of organic Rhubarb stalks. Everything from our garden is organic, but I frequently mention it because it is a different product than commercially raised produce, and would be exorbitantly expensive to purchase, if you could get it. We know our yard is organic because we have owned the property for ten years now, and since we have owned it, not one chemical has been used in the yard, with the exception this spring when I sprayed the new shrubs, which came from the nursery heavily infested with two kinds of aphids. Those aphids could not be controlled by organic methods, and we were going to loose our new shrubs, so I broke down and sprayed them with a weak mixture of permethrin, which solved the problem.

The Beet greens were blanched, then drained, cooled and frozen to accompany three winter meals. The Beets and stems were washed, and placed in a recycled plastic bag in the refrigerator. On Monday, if we get our Potatoes in our online grocery order, I will make a big pot of Borscht. If the Potatoes do not arrive, the Beets and stems will be either canned, fermented, or frozen for winter meals.

Baked goods will be needed for lunches next week, and although baking in a heat wave is undesirable, it must be done. Luckily the portable oven (Nesco) can be placed on the porch outside, and the baking can be done out of doors, to help keep the house cool, and not overuse the cooling system. Rhubarb Squares, made with today’s freshly picked organic Rhubarb, are on the menu!

And so the days goes pleasantly along.

Fresh from the garden this morning: Organic Beets, Organic Rhubarb

Worldly

Weather

28°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Saturday 4 July 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 27.7°C
Dew point: 11.3°C
Humidity: 35%
Wind: ENE 21 km/h
Humidex: 30
Visibility: 24 km

Heat Warning in effect:
A prolonged period of hot weather is expected through the weekend into next week.
Daytime high temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius, with humidex values in the high thirties to low forties, are expected for the foreseeable future. Overnight lows near 20 degrees Celsius are also expected through this period, providing little relief from the heat.
Please refer to your public forecast for further details on expected temperatures.
Hot and humid air can also bring deteriorating air quality and can result in the Air Quality Health Index approaching the high risk category.
Extreme heat affects everyone.
The risks are greater for young children, pregnant women, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and people working or exercising outdoors.
Watch for the effects of heat illness: swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions.

Quote

“Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”
Clementine Paddleford
1898 – 1967

Busy Days

Life has been busy of late.

This past week Attila went into overdrive, finished installing the eavestrough along the back of the house, and installed the 1000 liter rain tank. We had a thunderstorm just after he got it all setup, and the tank filled in 10 minutes! The overflow was shocking, it poured onto the back porch in buckets, before Attila managed to redirect the downspout into the yard. He has since setup an overflow pipe into a second and third barrel to catch additional water. If the overflow barrels overflow, they will empty directly into the yard.

On Saturday we drove straight to the Camp, no stops. Our visits are more as maintenance staff than jolly vacationers!

The mouse trap in Grace the trailer is still collecting mice, so every visit involves burials and clean-up. Attila cut the “grass”, which is really assorted native plants that are generally regarded as weeds. Cutting the grass with a strimmer is a very big job, that takes many hours to complete, but the results are beautiful. I killed about a dozen army worms. This is the first summer that they haven’t swarmed at the Camp, so grateful for that! The water level in the swamp is falling. One of my favourite trees is suffering from a very bad case of black rot, I sprayed the areas I could reach with insecticidal soap, but I am not optimistic that it will be helpful.

The day at the Camp was beautiful, sunshine and clouds, breezy and not too hot, it was beautiful. On our last visit Attila planted six Ground Cherry plants that he had started from seed. One had been dug up by an animal, but the other five were surviving well. They were well watered before we left. While Attila was down by the swamp cutting grass, I heard a noise in the bush and turned to find a doe staring at me from the shadows. She slowly turned away and ambled off into the bush, with her fawn beside her. There are still quite a few birds at the Camp, seldom seen but constantly heard.

Taking a break from our labours, we enjoyed a quick lunch of cheese and homemade potato salad. Then it was back to work, much to be done! We did sit for an hour or so just before it was time to head home, enjoying the breeze, the swaying tree tops, the bird song, just being part of the natural world.

Sunday Attila installed a second 1000 liter rain tank to catch the water from the roof of the garden shed. This tank will fill more slowly than the first, so it does not have an overflow system. These tanks will provide better quality water for our garden plants, and reduce our water/sewer usage and billing from the municipality. He also mowed the yard, another big job, and tended the garden, mostly weeding, and he did more planting as well. Almost all the plants he grew from seed in his little greenhouse are in the ground, only a few left to plant.

My projects on Sunday kept me busy in the kitchen. I baked five loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Bread, one dozen 100% Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, Apple Raisin Cinnamon Squares, and made four liters of Switchel.

During the week, Attila comes home and after showering the remains of the work day away, he heads into his garden. I make dinner while he is doing that, almost always in the Instant Pot, which works well because we only decide what we will have after Attila gets home from work. Attila eats and heads back to his garden. By the time the light begins to fade Attila will come back into the house, we will chat a bit, and then it is time to turn in for the night. Every day is different, and everyday is the same.

Monday was very busy paying bills, which has been challenging these last months, but is getting a little easier to accomplish. In the early morning before I arise, Attila is usually out and in the garden harvesting Swiss Chard and Beets for my breakfast or lunch, and picking the Strawberries that ripen, usually five or six Strawberries a day. My fresh garden meals are delicious!

Yesterday was Canada Day, so Attila had the day off. We celebrated by roasting a chicken in the portable oven on the back porch. So good! We gardened, and made coleslaw, which I canned, six 500-ml jars. It is so good. I used Tattler lids, they are reusable, and so much more ecnomical than using the disposable metal lids. I am still leary of them though, after having an 80% failure rate last year. This is the third batch I’ve canned using the Tattler lids, and they all sealed. My confidence is gaining with the Tattler lids. The trick for me has been to keep the lids and rings in a simmering pot of water, on a hot plate, on the counter, beside the work space where I fill the jars. When I was experiencing failures I was not keeping the lids and rings boiling hot before putting them on the jars.

Six jars of Canned Coleslaw. This Coleslaw is a quick and easy way to ensure vegetables are consumed at every lunch or dinner meal.
Cabbage, Onion, Red Pepper, and Carrots, along with Mustard Seed and Celery Seed. I make mine by halving the amount of sugar called for in the syrup, and replacing the other half of the sugar with liquid Stevia.

When I weeded the garden a few days ago, I brought in some of the Purslane that I pulled, I was going to add it to my stir fry, but changed my mind when I read about Spurge, a look alike plant, so I put the Purslane in the compost. However, I’ve now done additional research and feel sure what I harvested was Purslane. Yesterday, while weeding the garden, I saved more Purslane, washed it, and set it in a big metal bowl of cold water. Wow, this plant would thrive in a hydroponic system!

This Purslane was limp and underwater in the bowl after I harvested and cleaned it, then I went to bed last night. and left it on the counter This moring look at it! It is actually growing in the bowl of rinse water. This would make a great fresh winter green, in a hydropinic system. That is, if you like it. I don’t know yet, if I like it.

So here it is, July already! I have resigned myself to not being able to get fresh local Strawberries this summer, no one delivers, and I dare not venture out into areas where potentially coronavirus infected people are roaming without a care. I purchased some frozen Strawberries, not a product of Canada, which is all I could access easily. I have plans to can Strawberry Rhubarb pie filling, with the frozen Rhubarb from our garden, and the frozen Strawberries from God Knows Where. No hurry, all of the ingredients are frozen.

It has now been 135 days since I ventured into a store or public place. I’ve seen no one in person, other than Attila, during that time. I do miss grocery shopping, and shopping for supplies. I am grateful we can still drive directly to the Camp though, it is a change of scene, even if it is mainly for maintenance purposes.

Take good care of yourselves! Stay safe! Stay strong!

I have always found older women quite beautiful. It is a different sort of beauty than seen in youth, muted, intensified, mysterious, complex.
Granny’s Rose

Worldly

Weather

It is going to be stinking hot today!!

28°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 2 July 2020
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 27.7°C
Dew point: 17.7°C
Humidity: 54%
Wind: NW 11 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
Vincent Van Gogh
1853-1890

So very true, I love to visit normality, but I wouldn’t want to live there… no fear (or is it chance) of that. Maggie

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.

Worldly

Weather

19°C
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

Quote

“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.

Worldly

Weather

22°C
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

Quote

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

July

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

Weather

19°C
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

23°C
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

25°C
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

Quote

“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.