Cold Outside

Cold Outside

December 15, 2016

Listening to a piano version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, I was suddenly transported to my Grade 5 classroom, sitting up straight on the hard wooden seat of my desk, arms extended, hands clasped together and resting peacefully beside a closed scribbler and a sharpened pencil, where the teacher played Christmas carols on the piano, and we sang along. Singing along to the piano, with voices raised in unison all around, was one of those rare occasions during childhood, in which the wonder of good will wrapped us all in a warm blanket of inclusion and belonging. I seldom feel that kind of wonder in my life these days, but oh the memory is sweet.

Storms continue to rage around our country house, which is no longer ours, nor are the storms. My gratitude for Mist Cottage is amplified by the severity of the distant storm. It is cold here, the wind is strong and bitter, and yet we are still able to travel to a store, or the the hospital if we needed care. I think only someone who has been oppressed by the limitations of extreme winter weather can regard a -22C (-7.6F) wind chill as relatively tropical, the wind chill is predicted to reach -27C (-16.6F) tonight. We are to receive more snow through Friday and Saturday, but it doesn’t sound as if it will be anything near as extreme as it is in Parry Sound / Muskoka.

Terra dropped by today with Sunny and Sky, to pick up the vintage Mac Software that will be donated to a collector. She will carry those boxes to Luna’s house, and the collector will pick them up there. Two boxes gone, and a little visit with Sunny and Sky, a lovely afternoon! Sky slept through the visit, but Sunny was wide awake and having a great time looking at the all the colours on the Christmas tree and the decorations hanging in the front windows. Sunny and Sky are very appealing little people!

Our evening is winding down. Attila is preparing a green salad, after which we will enjoy Tuna Melts, a new dish to us. We have divided the tuna into two bowls, as Attila will use far more of the salty mayonnaise than I am allowed, and also add other condiments to his portion. My serving of cheese to top the open faced sandwich will be carefully weighed on my new kitchen scale (an early Christmas gift from Attila), so that I can ensure that my portion of cheese does not take me over my daily limit for sodium, or cholesterol. We don’t have many meals figured out that are suitably low in sodium: roast chicken with rice and vegetables; macaroni and cheese with vegetables; and coconut lime baked fish with rice and vegetables. If the Tuna Melts work out, it will be a fourth reliable dish we can prepare for our dinners.

My blood pressure is still borderline high, sometimes even higher, and sometimes lower. I am not sure the low sodium, low sugar, low cholesterol diet makes any difference at all. I continue to take the apple cider vinegar and honey before my meals. My weight has fallen a little, but that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference to my blood pressure readings. Still, a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise can’t hurt me, even if they aren’t helping me.

Our Christmas tree is beautiful. I am so glad Attila talked me into having this real tree. It takes up a lot of room, but that is a temporary situation, so although it is a little crowded in here, it seems quite cozy.

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas tree 2016

Worldly Distractions


Date: 5:00 PM EST Thursday 15 December 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.7°C
Dew point: -23.4°C
Humidity: 38%
Wind: NW 29 gust 53 km/h
Wind Chill: -22
Visibility: 24 km


“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970


  1. Thank you Kate, Eileen and Sandy! Attila deserves all the credit, from choosing the tree to decorating the tree. I think it is the nicest tree we have ever had. It is so nice that it might just change my mind about getting an artificial tree!

  2. I’m so glad you have found some dishes that will satisfy your sodium restrictions.You are working so hard at this. Admirable! I love the tree. We are not able to have natural trees in our condo complex, but I do remember the fragrance! BTW, I remember clasped hands stretched out on the desks. I always thought it was too restrictive and when I taught little children, I didn’t demand that sort of obedience. Today’s children would not have a minute of it!

  3. NORA

    Hi Maggie,

    Gosh, it sounds so cold where you are. Each year I age I seem to be more and more bothered by the cold. It’s in the 30s here and I am cold even with the heat on and the faux fireplace. Hard to heat this big room. I guess being a Canadian you are used to the cold and can handle it better than I can .

    The tree looks great. Nice job. Glad you are so happy about it. Our holiday things are packed and will stay that way. Fingers crossed we can move in April and be on our way. I’ve been packing since last June because it takes me so much longer now and like you I have to make decisions on what gets donated, sold or given away to friends. Sometimes not easy decisions.

    Keep warm and cozy!

  4. Diane, I like aritificial trees almost as well as natural trees. When Luna was a baby I bought a really nice artificial tree and used it for the next 20 years. The scent of pine is very enticing. I can understand why a condo wouldn’t allow natural trees, they are quite a fire hazard. I wonder if a natural pine wreath would be allowed, it might provide that heavenly scent without the fire hazard.

    The clasped hands on the desk were very restrictive, but I guess the teacher felt she wanted our full attention, and it would be hard to fiddle with objects, or turn around in your seat with your hands placed firmly in front of you on the desk, where she could see them. Although I found it restrictive, I also found it comforting, the order it implied, that there was actually someone at the helm of the vessel. I cannot imagine today’s children demonstrating that much discipline!

  5. Nora, it is cold here! It was colder at the country house. The trick to keeping warm for us is clothing. In winter I always wear a cotton undershirt, this prevents cold air that gets whooshed up into my top from coming into direct contact with my skin, very important. The rest of the time I wear layers, and if I am chilly in the house I put on a neck scarf, and if that isn’t enough I pull a warm hat onto my head. Footwear is important as well, I wear well insulated shoes during the winter, that keep my feet from coming into contract with cold floors. Another trick for me is the laptop, sitting in a cozy chair with the laptop on my lap keeps me warm; I notice this because when I stand up I feel chilly!

    I do so hope you are able to accomplish the desired move, and that you land in a peaceful place that gives you joy!! That is so wise, to have started the packing last June. Moving is such a big job, and it sounds like you will be ready to meet the challenge!

  6. The good part about having the real tree is that when you are done with it IN the house, you can stick it out in the yard somewhere (if snow, stick it in a snowpile, or if not, prop it up somewhere)… and the birds will love having it there. You can put birdseed hangers in its branches and they will sing your praises all winter long.

  7. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    You settled in nicely to so many things you missed and, I think, needed: warmth, comfort, family visits. You’re both back to having real lives instead of just marking time to when to chop more wood.

    My bp was 134/93 this morning. Yesterday was 142/99. I have an especially hard time getting that bottom number down.

    Very pretty tree!

  8. Bex, that is such a good idea, to stick the tree in a snow bank for the birds! We have quite a few birds around here, all of the trees on our property provide some sort of food for them, and the evergreens offer shelter as well. I can usually see them hopping from branch to branch on the tree just outside the living room window.

  9. Teri, that is a fairly accurate description of our winters at the country house, “just marking time to when to chop more wood,” particularly for Attila. We are much happier living in this little house, with central heating, and nearby stores.

    I have trouble with the systolic, and it seems diastolic is your challenge. our systolic readings are pretty good! I have been taking four consecutive readings when I take my blood pressure, and the first reading is always very high, yesterday it was 159, but dropped to 125 for the second reading. I am noticing that it makes a difference in how I hold my hand when I am taking my blood pressure. The instructions show an open hand, but mine naturally rests in a semi-closed position. If I forget to open my hand, my blood pressure reading is higher. I will have to keep an eye on that!

    Thanks about the tree, Attila is very happy with it, and this year he enjoyed putting it up. He feels the trick to enjoying decorating the tree, is to put it up a day or two ahead of time, so that the only task at hand is the actual decorating. It still smells wonderful in here!

  10. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    I’ll have to remember that about the open hand and try it. My tendency is to lay my palm facedown on my thigh.

    How much time do you have between your readings, Maggie?

  11. Teri

    Yes, it’s funny about all kinds of things the doctors do when taking blood pressure readings, like having you hop up onto their table and then immediately taking the reading. Or keeping the arm at your side. Or having an animated conversation with you just before taking the reading.

    And they wonder why the reading is higher…

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