The temperature has dropped a bit, an unpleasant blanket of humidity remains. Another indoor day today. This evening it began to rain, thank goodness. This gives the newly installed rain collection system a chance to strut its stuff, and it worked perfectly. We have collected about 200 liters of water in it so far. Ideally, more rain will fall over the course of the night, and will fill it right up.
This morning was spent milling flour. The frequency of baking bread has increased with Attila back to work. Two gallon jars are filled during the milling session. The mill, a Wondermill, is given a chance to cool down after grinding 8 cups of wheat berries, and I usually have to mill four times, waiting a half an hour between each milling session.
Attila brought in a bowl freshly picked Swiss Chard and a garlic scape for my breakfast this morning. However, for breakfast I indulged in the slice of Rhubarb Squares that he left for me after packaging the rest for the freezer, for this week’s lunches. I come from a long line of sugar lovers. My Grandpa used to pour heavy cream over his slice of fruit pie, then sprinkle white sugar over it. He lived to be 90 years old, and enjoyed excellent health his whole life through. He also smoked cigarettes his whole adult life. Lucky genes I guess. Anyway, I love sugar, but keep consumption down to 6 teaspoons a day, or usually much less. The Rhubarb Squares are rare treat!
Ordering groceries online is becoming easier. The wait times are only a few days, and as long as we don’t order fresh produce our items are just fine. We find we only shop twice a month now, and it is a big job, everything has to be sanitized. Shopping online, wearing masks, keeping social distance, sanitizing everything that arrives at the house from the outside, these things are becoming familiar routines. Like anything else, once you know how to do something, it is much easier to do it.
Another week of work begins for Attila. The adjustment to getting back to work is going well. When we ordered the 1000 liter rain tank Attila was home after being laid off work, so he had ample time to work on fixing the fascia on the house, installing rain gutters, and the rain tank. But when the call suddenly came to go back to work, his discretionary time shrank to the weekends. This disjunction between the water collection system project, and available time, has been a significant bottleneck in adjusting to the return to work. Thank goodness for weekends.
This past weekend Attila went into overdrive on the garden and water collection system. The heat wave meant that he was completely soaked with sweat from early Saturday morning, till dusk Saturday night, and the same on Sunday. It was a real push, but he did get the evestrough and 1000 liter tank installed and ready for rain, when it comes. And he did get all but a few small plants from his greenhouse planted in the ground. And he kept up with watering all the plants, by hand, with a watering can. At some distant date I hope he will install a drip water system using water from the 1000 liter tank, which would save him hours and hours of work daily watering the garden.
The garden is a manageable project for Attila when he works full time. The rain tank was an extra project we thought he had time for, but that time evaporated when he was called back to work, so that getting the water collection system working became a high pressure project. I am so glad he got it all accomplished this past weekend, and can now concentrate on what he enjoys most, his garden. We can now move forward with projects that fit the new time regime.
I putter a bit in the garden, but it is only puttering. My two raised beds are planted with a variety of Sweet and Jalapeno Peppers, and one row of climbing edible pod Peas. I weed these beds every few days, and occasionally use the swing hoe to weed the Potatoes, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Rhubarb, Garlic, Melons, and Squash that are planted in the ground. I also keep an eye on our new shrubs, the High Bush Cranberry and the Red Currant, spraying with insecticidal soap to slow down the aphid infestations that they came with, from the nursery where we purchased them. I have been using insecticidal soap on a lot of the garden, including my Granny’s Rose, to keep the little critters-that-kill under control.
The Heliopsis I got from my Granny’s garden is higher than the fence now. Granny’s Rose is showing rosebuds this year for the first time, and they will soon bloom.
The Gladiola bulbs planted last year suffered from mildew, and were not expected to survive the winter. But there they are, five of them. Hopefully the insecticidal soap will control the mildew.
The Chamomile self-seeded and is already blooming. The Catnip and Lemon Balm are doing well, they self-seed every year. Another plant that self-seeded was the ground cherries. Some are coming up in my raised bed, so I think that those were actually squirrel, chipmunk, and bird seeded.
The birds are amazing this summer! The Blue Jays have a nest in our back yard Ash tree, which they protect from all comers, from Crows to Grackles, to Robins. The Grackles and Robins all have nests in our evergreen trees. There are Doves, Chickadees, Warblers, and Cardinals. Geese, Crows, and Turkey Vultures fly over us every day.
There is a bird bath in the back yard, the water is emptied and replaced every morning by Attila. Last summer it was hardly used. This summer it is in constant use by all of the bird species. I love to stand at the kitchen sink looking out at the backyard through the window, or sit on the back porch, and watch them land for a sip. The species do not mix at the bird bath, it is a one at a time activity. I am learning that there is a real politic to bird life!
We see many Squirrels, Chipmunks, and Rabbits. Our yard is very popular, they love to eat our garden plants, dig up our garden plants, and raid our strawberry and tomato harvest. There is a lot of competition for our food supply!
This is Attila’s busiest time of year, putting the garden in. My busy time of year arrives later in the summer, when the bounty from the garden begins to come into the house. Food preservation is a big part of my life from mid-July into November.
The emptied jars from last years bounty are waiting to see what this year’s harvest season will bring.
Stay safe dear friends!
HEAT WARNING Mainly sunny. High 30. Humidex 37. UV index 9 or very high. 23°C Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 22 June 2020 Condition: Partly Cloudy Pressure: 101.3 kPa Tendency: Rising Temperature: 22.5°C Dew point: 20.1°C Humidity: 86% Wind: S 16 km/h Humidex: 30 Visibility: 24 km
“Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside.” Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965
The temperature is climbing, as is the humidity. I took a turn around the garden this morning, weeding here and there, soaking in the sun before the heat of the day set in. The ever-bearing strawberry plant has a mesh cage around it, and a good thing too, as a squirrel was attempting to break through it this morning to get at those few ripening strawberries. Little beast. He failed, thank goodness. There are no local places that deliver high quality fresh produce to those of us self-isolating, so no strawberries here this year. I am really feeling the loss of access to fresh food.
While wandering about the yard, I observed that our two Ash trees are dying, that the Ash tree in our next door neighbour’s yard is dying, and that the Ash trees in our back neighbour’s yard are also dying. This is so sad, they have been such beautiful trees! It will cost a small fortune to have these trees removed safely, as they are all near buildings. Probably by next summer, or the summer after that, these trees will be completely dead. The birds will miss them as much as I will, maybe more.
The interior of Mist Cottage is quite comfortable, so the focus is on indoor tasks.
I was able to can a lot of produce last summer and autumn. The empty jars seem to accumulate on the counter in the kitchen. A few factors contribute to this, one is the trip down the tricky stairs to the basement carrying glass jars, and the other is that the basement is still in chaos. We decided to paint the floor while things were moved around, and that is a project that is on hold while Attila continues to get the garden in. So finding a place to store empty jars in the basement is not a pleasant experience. But today I tackled it, climbed over piles of items to find empty boxes for the empty jars, phew, got that sorted! Soon it will be time to start filling those jars again, hopefully the garden will give us a good harvest… and the basement will be more organized.
Filing is another one of those jobs that gets put off. Today was the day! The clutter of the last few weeks, since Attila went back to work, is beginning to disappear.
Heat waves are good for puttering indoors, if you have air conditioning!
Heat Warning In Effect Maximum daytime temperatures: 31 to 33 degrees Celsius (Humidex 37 to 40) Current Temperature: 21°C Date: 11:00 AM EDT Friday 19 June 2020 Condition: Mainly Sunny Pressure: 101.9 kPa Tendency: Falling Temperature: 21.2°C Dew point: 17.9°C Humidity: 82% Wind: S 14 km/h Humidex: 27 Visibility: 24 km
“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali 1904 – 1989
The peonies have bloomed a little late this year, better late than never. I love them! My Granny grew them in her front garden. They were in the front garden when Mist Cottage was purchased, and are now overgrown with some kind of shrubs, an apple tree, and a maple tree. The apple tree will be left to mature, the shrubs removed, and the maple tree transplanted to another part of the yard if possible. Every other day, while the peonies are in bloom, Attila cuts two flowers to present to me, so sweet.
One of the shirts I altered this week has become my favourite summer shirt. The shirt, as it was, would have looked good on me 20 years ago, and many pounds ago, but in the present reality it didn’t fit quite right. So the shirt was shortened, the shoulder seams shirred to fit, and the sleeves cut to 3/4 length. It is comfortable, and it doesn’t accent the effects of aging, the best that can be hoped for at this late stage in my journey through life.
The weather has been perfect, warm but not hot, sunny with a breeze. But that is about to change as the temperature rises today to 27C, and then slowly inches towards 32C over the next few days. The hot weather is something to suffer through, particularly with the humidity. Summer approaches.
I am annoyed at the pharmacy, they fill my prescriptions and they substituted my regular tablets with a generic brand. This doesn’t work for me, I have anaphylaxis, the new brand of tablets might contain my allergen. Sigh.
I called the drug store, the first employee didn’t listen and tried to blow me off with “government approved substitution” details. Not interested, I know the drug I need is in the tablet, I am not worried about that, it is the non-medicinal ingredients that can kill me. I had to repeat myself three times before she gave up reading me chapter and verse and transferred me to the pharmacist. The pharmacist gave me the same line about substitutions, and I had to then explain to her about non-medicinal ingredients and what anaphylaxis means. She then said she couldn’t help me, and gave me the phone number of the new drug company. I called the new drug company and they don’t answer, so I left a message. I eventually found the company on the internet, using the phone number the pharmacy had given me, then I found an email contact and emailed them to ask for the information I need. What a pain in the patootie bureaucracies can be.
20°C Date: 9:00 AM EDT Wednesday 17 June 2020 Condition: Mainly Sunny Pressure: 102.6 kPa Tendency: Rising Temperature: 19.8°C Dew point: 10.3°C Humidity: 54% Wind: S 7 km/h Visibility: 24 km
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” Doris Lessing 1919 – 2013
We are just beginning to adjust to shift work again, I am getting at least 5 hours of sleep every night, and so grateful for that. Our routines are settling in, we are getting this all figured out. Attila says he heard a rumor that he is to go back to his old job, which was working days. Who knows. Constant change is the norm now. We will have to adjust to whatever they decide to do to our schedule.
Yesterday Attila planted many of the plants, that he started from seed in his cold frame, and in the little green house. This is so exciting! We haven’t ventured in to a nursery to buy bedding plants this year, except two Veestar strawberry plants and a horseradish plant delivered to the vehicle. The strawberry plants were weakened when rabbits nibbled away all of the leaves on one of them, and some of the leaves on the other. They were promptly transplanted inside the fence, where they have survived, thank goodness, they were $4 each! I am hoping to eventually get runners from them, to establish a large bed of strawberries.
This spring we are relying almost entirely on the seeds Attila started. This is the first time he has attempted to create a whole garden from seeds. I have my fingers crossed, but gardens are hit and miss no matter how they are created, so we get what we get.
This morning Attila thinned the Swiss Chard and the Spinach, and guess who got the greens! I sauteed them in olive oil, with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, then added an egg. My whole body tingled with gratitude with each mouthful, it was a wonderful breakfast. I haven’t had fresh greens since February, when we stopped going to the grocery store, so this spring the Spinach and Swiss Chard out of the garden are a real treat.
We have been eating up every morsel we get out of the garden. So far it has given us about 4 pounds of rhubarb, which was made into Rhubarb Squares and Upside Down Rhubarb Cake, and about 1 1/2 cups went into the freezer. There is more rhubarb to come, it is difficult to wait for it! Now I’ve been spoiled with fresh Spinach and Swiss Chard, and will be waiting somewhat impatiently for the plants to mature so that I can harvest more.
I’ve been thinking about strawberries, and am concerned I may not be able to get any this spring. We are accustomed to taking our containers to a nearby farm and picking our own. However, the people around us are not taking social distancing as seriously as I would prefer, so I am loath to venture into the fields with a crowd of recreational fruit pickers. I haven’t found a source yet, and I suppose we will have to pay a premium price if I do find one. The government is giving seniors on the small government pension a one-time amount of money to help us manage with the extra expenses encountered while self-isolating during the pandemic, I know what I will use mine for… fresh food if I can find it!
18°C Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 8 June 2020 Condition: Mostly Cloudy Pressure: 101.9 kPa Tendency: Falling Temperature: 17.5°C Dew point: 9.6°C Humidity: 59% Wind: S 18 km/h Visibility: 24 km
“Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.” Rumi 1207 – 1273