The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

My mind wandered today, following a discussion about home schooling, thinking about my own childhood. School, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good: Mrs. xxx, my grade six teacher, a woman who was born in Germany, German speaking with a heavy accent in English, Jewish, escaped Germany buried in a coal car with her parents and sister during World War Two. I loved her, quite literally. She encouraged me to write, and did not tolerate bullies in the classroom, or in the playground when she was on duty. She was an incredible human being.

The bad: Miss xxx, my grade nine typing instructor, a woman who thought a physical disability was a challenge to her authority, an act of defiance. I would be sitting there struggling with the typing, my right arm on fire with the pain of it. My elbow stuck out, it couldn’t be lowered without breaking it, which meant I certainly could not lower it myself. She would approach me from behind with her wooden yard stick, take a wide swing and CRACK. Right down on my arm and elbow. “Elbow down”, she would shout at me. I get a stomach ache just thinking about the meanness of it, the humiliation of being beaten in front of the class, and of having my “difference” contemptuously exposed. She was one mean little human being. There was no recourse.

The ugly: I was co-captain of the cheerleading team. When it was time to run auditions for new members to the team, a jury of teachers graded the girls performances. It was down to the captain and I to tally the scores and announce the winners. The captain had a favourite who did not make the cut. She wanted to alter the records to cut another girl, who she didn’t like, and bring her favourite onto the team. My response was NO! She pushed. NO! She fussed. NO! She threatened me with social disapproval. NO! NO! NO! NO! She lost the struggle, and I remember watching the girl at the games, the girl who deserved to be there, but might not have been. I enjoying that she was such a great member of the team. I never told the girl who deserved to be there what happened, it wouldn’t have made her feel better about being there. We all knew the captain was an asshole, we needn’t have counted the ways.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 12 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.4°C
Dew point: 20.0°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: SSE 19 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

Not always surprised to find though, some bullies have weapons and a long memory… choose your battles.

On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

This And That

What a beautiful day it is here today! A perfect day for this and that!

Attila has decided to replace the back wall of the garage, since it is no longer a load bearing wall, and it is heavily damaged by water, mildew and mould. Out it will come, and new fresh lumber will be framed to make a new, sweet smelling wall. It needs to be done. Projects can lead to other project, as this one is doing. I am enthusiastic about making the garage a pleasant place to spend time!

The garden needs some attention, and it is perfect day to do it! We will be spending the day out of doors, enjoying the warm sunny day, with reasonable temperatures and relatively low humidity.

The Hoya was growing some very, very long stems, four feet in length. Time to prune it, and put cuttings in water in the window to root. Also, additional soil needs to be added. The Hoya was gifted to me more than 15 years ago, when we lived in the city.

The Spicy Orange Chicken dish was a big hit again for dinner last night. The Instant Pot is my friend. It has made preparing a daily hot meal a simple, and interesting task. Now that I am solely responsible for cooking five days a week, this is a wonderful development.

Most of my Instant Pot cooking involves rice. We have been eating a lot of rice. I am noticing that my body is responding positively to this altered dietary regime. My body likes rice, and it isn’t just my tastebuds.

My next area of exploration with the Instant Pot will be fish. Both Attila and I really like fish, so I am inspired to learn how to cook one pot meals centred around fish. I don’t notice many Instant Pot recipes online that focus on fish, there are many focused on beef, pork, and chicken. I will enjoy ferreting out or creating great-to-us recipes to add fish to our Instant Pot dinner options.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date:8:00 AM EDT Saturday 7 July 2018
Condition:
Sunny
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 17.8°C
Dew point: 11.5°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: NW 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“There is an applause superior to that of the multitudes: one’s own.”
Elizabeth Elton Smith

Something that seems to be largely overlooked in the Age Of Selfie.

Dog Yellers

The heat broke sometime after midnight. Today is lovely and sunny and mild and breezy and perfect. So perfect that the windows are open, to let the breeze wander through. Even the dining windows are open, as very little heat is generated by the sun that shines brightly on the new metal roof. This is heavenly, lovely windows that open, lovely insulation that keeps the house temperature on an even keel, and a lovely light coloured metal roof just outside my dining window.

The breeze is not the only thing that wanders through. The neighbours across the street are having power struggles with their little dog. If they aren’t loudly reprimanding the dog, the dog is barking at them.

The thunderstorm in the forecast for last night did not materialize, no rain fell. Attila watered the garden well last night. There isn’t any significant rain in the forecast, so watering will be frequent. The new roof is not finished and the eves troughs are still dismantled, so our rain barrels are of little use. This is a downside of the garage roof project, which can be compensated for by paying for water through the utility company. There are many hidden advantages, and hidden costs, to any project.

There are a lot of earwigs in the house at the moment. I found one on my plate at lunch time! Now how did he get there? Most insects cause me little concern, except disease carrying types, like mosquitoes and black ticks. As far as I know earwigs are just ugly and annoying, but won’t make you sick.

Tonight’s Instant Pot dinner will be a repeat of yesterday’s dinner, the Spicy Orange Chicken. The orange juice needs to be used before it turns, simplifying the decision making process. I don’t mind a repeat though, the chicken dish was very tasty.

And now, it being so very lovely here on my easy chair, with the breeze gently breathing through the curtains, and sighing through the leaves on the trees outside the window, I think I’ll put up my feet and have myself a little nap!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Friday 6 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.4°C
Dew point: 8.6°C
Humidity: 43%
Wind: NNW 31 gust 45 km/h
Humidex: 22
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
John Wayne
1907 – 1979

Tipping The Balance

The new garage roof is doing its job, keeping the garage dry! The project isn’t finished yet, but it is beginning to wind down. Last night Attila puttered instead of building. He spent his evening putting away tools, organizing materials, watering the garden, and just generally taking stock of what still needs to be done.

My attention is drifting away from the project. I am still cooking and making sure that everything on the domestic front runs smoothly enough, so that Attila is completely free of the day-to-day tasks that keep a home comfortable and functioning. But I am ceasing to watch, listen, keep a third eye focused on what he is doing. He is no longer working on ladders and on heights, which is a big relief to both of us. My mind is beginning to wander back into my own interests, welcome back me.

Yesterday the bills for the project arrived in the mailbox. Yikes! After careful navigation, I rearranged the financial structure to pay those bills. It will be close to Christmas before Peter is repaid by Paul, but it should all proceed smoothly provided belts are tightened, and discretionary spending avoided.

What a season, new windows, new attic insulation, and a new garage roof! These renovations were all expensive, by our standards, and vital to the integrity of Mist Cottage. Attila and I both agree, it is so much more like a home than a science project now, the balance has been tipped!

We are slipping towards what life will be like, Attila to his garden and studio, me to my research, web, and domestic projects.

Today seems much worse, weather wise, than yesterday. It was already 22C when I looked at the thermometer outside the kitchen window early this morning. I am very fortunate that I can stay comfortably busy inside Mist Cottage, at a temperature of 23C, with relatively low humidity. I will be glad when this heat wave subsides, but it won’t be today.

We picked up the car at the garage yesterday, but were unable to pay the bill because the owner was just locking everything up when we arrived, he had an appointment to get to. Today I paid a visit to the garage to pay the bill. Afterwards I went to the dollar store to look for materials to deter the rabbits from eating the beans and peas. I bought some bamboo trellises, and laid them along the outside of the fence, maybe that will discourage the furry fellas.

The air quality is very low today, breathing the cloying air is unpleasant. It was quite a relief to arrive home and walk into a lovely 23C environment, where the air is relatively fresh and easier to breath.

Attila was just too tired, and too hot, to work on the garage tonight. Best to rest, I say. With a humidex of 43C or 109F, it is best not to push, working all day in a hot factory was pushing pretty hard already. Heaven only knows how hot it was in there!

Time for another experiment in the Instant Pot. A recipe found on the internet, for Spicy Orange Chicken baked in the oven, sounded very appealing. Could it be adapted to the Instant Pot? There was only one way to find out, try it! And so a new recipe was born, Spicy Orange Chicken With Rice & Vegetables. It was a big hit with Attila, and I loved it too! Of course, writing it all down for oneself sometimes means ingredients are forgotten, or instructions seem vague to others, so feedback on the new recipe is welcome.

Well, I hope everyone who lives in heat wave affected areas is staying cool and healthy! And that everyone is comfortable in their circumstances!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Another stinker of a day!!!

HEAT WARNING

23°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Thursday 5 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.2°C
Dew point: 22.3°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 11 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km
dateDetailed Forecast
Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 34 except 28 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 43 (109.4F). UV index 10 or very high.

Quote

“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.”
Henry Miller
1891 – 1980