One Small Christmas in the Age of Interesting Times

One Small Christmas in the Age of Interesting Times

Quiet days here. The weather has been grey, very cold, and windy. Our oil furnace has been heating the house for the last few days, it takes over for the heat pump when the temperature outdoors falls below -7C. We have a skiff of snow, it blows around in the wind, but does not affect road safety.

The saying “when it rains it pours” was coined from experience I think. Attila missed 3 months of work this year, which has resulted in a significant reduction in income. He has not yet received all the funds promised by the disability insurance he pays for. We have been managing, just, it has been and is a struggle. Two weeks ago we had a whopping bill to repair our car, which Attila relies on to get back and forth to work. Last Friday the car broke down as he was driving home from work. The differential needs to be replaced. After we got the estimate, we realized that repair is not going to happen, we still have to pay for the work done previously.

Our car is parked in the driveway, where it will stay until we can figure out what to do next. In the meantime, Attila is using Tank to get back and forth to work. This is less than ideal. The insurance had been taken off Tank to reduce our bills. Luckily it was easy enough to reinstate the insurance, and expensive. Every time Tank is shut down after running, Attila has to pop the hood and work on the engine to get it running again, every single time. So far he has been keeping it going to get back and forth to work. If he runs into problems he will have to be towed, then who knows how he will commute to work, which is a 40 minute drive away. There is no public transit here. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Tank keeps going until we can come up with a plan!

Oddly we are feeling less distressed than we otherwise would over these unfortunate events. After all, we are alive and healthy enough to worry about these things…

This time of year is lovely. The cold weather has just arrived, so that cozy winter feeling is enjoyed. This feeling changes of course, as winter arrives, and the newness of the season wears thin. The anticipation of Christmas occupies the heart and mind, making December sparkle. The month shines with strings of lights, cheerful colours, beautiful carols and music, and delightful aromas from the kitchen. Best of all, for me, is that Attila will be spending a bit more time safe at home, due to the holiday!

I plan on doing quite a bit of baking this season, that is our Christmas present to ourselves, homemade food. In December a loaf of fresh Panettone is kept in the bread box. Last week we enjoyed Mincemeat Squares. This week we are enjoying Pumpkin Squares. I am toying with the idea of Cinnamon Buns next. Christmas Pudding, Mince Tarts, Gingerbread Cookies, and something with chocolate are on the list for the holiday season.

This morning I thawed and ate the last stodgy muffin that was made with Kamut flour. It was made enjoyable by cutting it in half, and putting a large dollop of Dandelion Jelly on each half. We eat almost all of our less-than-perfect food experiments. They are all nutrient rich food, if nothing else. Eating to live comes before living to eat.

The Christmas Cactus on our kitchen window sill has seen four or more Christmases. It bloomed the first Christmas, and not once since. This Christmas it is blooming! I feel a cheerful every time I look at it.

Life is so insular at the moment, that I find myself counting the days until our hydro billing changes from time-of-use to tiered. This makes a huge impact on how I spend my days. Right now I wait until after 11:00 a.m. to get going on any project that uses electricity. On weekdays that means I wait at least five and half hours before I can take my morning shower. On weekdays that means that I have to finish cooking the evening meal before 5 p.m., which also means we must eat our dinner as soon as Attila comes in from work. Time-of-use dictates when laundry is done, as well as vacuuming, baking, milling flour, and the list goes on. After experiencing several months where time-of-use billing was suspended, it has been difficult to return to the restrictions it imposes. I think our tiered billing will begin on December 21, I can hardly wait.

Worldly

Weather

-9°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Thursday 17 December 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -9.3°C
Dew point: -13.7°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: NE 23 gust 33 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“There is no use in loving things if you have to be torn from them, is there? And it’s so hard to keep from loving things, isn’t it?”
L. M. Montgomery
1874 – 1942

If Anne with an e could cope, so can we.


6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    All the things that you are baking and planning to bake sound lovely! So sorry you are going through a bad financial spell. Praying that your finances will take a turn for the better really soon. Stay warm and stay safe. We just got six inches of snow!

    Eileen

  2. I’m glad you’re getting a more flexible billing and enjoying the Christmas cactus. We tended one of those for friends when they went back north. She said to put it outside. It is “cactus” in name only and the Yuma summer quickly fried it. It was pretty before it shriveled and turned brown, though.

  3. Sandy

    Hi Maggie. Do any of the other workers live near you and Attila? Could he get a ride from them in exchange for kicking in on the gas?

    I had a Christmas cactus once and loved it.

    Hugs!

  4. Eileen, thank you for your good wishes!
    Luckily I like baking, and cooking, and preserving. Good thing too, since home baked goods are much less expensive, and have fewer ingredients that are questionable.
    Six inches of snow is a lot! It must be beautiful though. Growing up I lived in southern Ontario and there was often no snow at Christmas, where we live now is similar, although a bit colder than my childhood home. There will be a lot of shoveling going on in your neighbourhood! Stay safe dear friend!

  5. Joan, your cactus story is funny. I did not know that the Christmas Cactus is a cactus in name only! Good to know. I have a difficult time remembering to water it, but it seems to survive my neglect. It is a little more tolerant of underwatering than the other plants, but not up to desert conditions.
    I am really looking forward to the flexible billing. I find I use less electricity when I can be flexible, for instance baking a lot of things once the oven is heated, when I can start in the morning when I am fresh. It is just too hard to start into mulitple baking projects after 7 p.m. when I am winding down for the day. It is just a matter of a few more days now! Stay safe dear friend!

  6. Sandy, good suggestion about sharing a ride and kicking in for the gas! Unfortunately everyone there works rotating shifts, and not the same shifts, so it would be almost impossible to team up with most of the other employees else. Its a pickle, and we will solve it one way or another.
    I love the Christmas Cactus too! Ours has pink flowers, I had forgotten that.
    Stay safe dear friend!

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