What I did on my summer vacation.

Our first summer vacation in over two decades came in the summer of 2016. We were very excited! My brother had a heart attack and died that week. In 2017 our second opportunity for a summer vacation came up, and we spent it at our Rideau Camp. That week a neighbour destroyed a corner of our property with his tractor, and a property dispute ensued, in which I ended up having to involve the police to prevent the individual from continuing to damage the property, it was not fun, and certainly not relaxing. In addition to that miserable process, it was cold and rained the whole time we were there,

So, this year, when an opportunity for a summer vacation came along, I decided to pass. God only knows what misery would befall me on a third attempt at leisure and pleasure.

Attila had last week off. The first Saturday began as hot and humid as it had been all summer, being outdoors was not bearable. It was the Labour Day long weekend in Ontario. I thought perhaps it might be fun to drive out to a few local farms, who advertised on the internet. I was looking for tomatoes, and although several farms indicated they sold tomatoes, none of them offered any information on availability. I called their telephone numbers, only one farm line answered. He was quite unpleasant, told me he wanted $75 a bushel for his tomatoes, that there were none left, and I could put in my order for next year with a deposit. I politely declined. So we chose the nearest farm in the listings (not the unpleasant fellow) and set out.

There was a bad accident on a nearby highway, and all of the long weekend traffic was rerouted through our small area. It took over an hour to get out of town and to the first farm. They had clearly gone out of the business of selling to the public, the stand partly demolished, nor was there any sign of farming activity. I wish they had taken their listings off the internet, but I know how time-consuming that can be, so I don’t really blame them for not seeing to it.

Conclusion: the internet is not a good way to find local goods and services.

It took another hour to get back through town, which took us by a grocery store, so we popped in for a few things. And there they were, Roma tomatoes by the 25 pound box, and Red Shepherd peppers by the 20 pound box! The tomatoes were $8 a box, and the peppers were $10 a box. They were grown in Ontario, but not anywhere near where we live. We bought two boxes of tomatoes and one box of peppers. The outing to visit local farms and purchase local produce was abandoned.

So, I began to can tomatoes. I pressure canned batches of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce and pureed tomatoes right through until Monday, and spent at least 12 hours each day on my feet, getting it done. Attila helped a bit, sitting and turning the food mill, which helped a lot.

On Tuesday the heat wave was still going strong, and being outdoors was still going to be unbearable. So I thought it would be interesting to try again to buy local produce. This time I decided that an apple farm where we had purchased apples in the past, would be the place to visit. Attila liked the idea, so off we went for a drive in the country. It was hot and humid out there, but we were comfortable in the air-conditioned vehicle, and the long drive in the country was fun and relaxing.

We bought a 1/2 bushel of Paulared Apples. I also treated myself to a new paring knife, a Victorinox serrated knife, that was for sale for $9 at the apple farm store. A little vacation indulgence. Attila chose a plastic jar opener, for opening hard-to-open jars, as his little indulgence. We took our apples and indulgences and set out on the back roads towards home.

It was on one of those back roads that we bumped into a farmer selling produce out of her barn. She didn’t have a lot, but we did get six quarts of lovely new potatoes, and a large ripe melon.

We had a good time.

On Wednesday the day was spent turning the apples into applesauce.

On Thursday the applesauce was preserved by pressure canning.

Thursday was the last day of miserable hot and humid weather.

Friday dawned sunny and cool. At last! I decided to go “hiking” at a local park trail. Attila though that was a grand idea, so that is what we did. We weren’t sure just how it would work out, me with my arthritic knee, and Attila with his bad back and painful ankle. We chose the easy trail, not too long, and spent a lot of time sitting at the water’s edge just enjoying the sound of the waves lapping, and the birds calling.

Saturday dawned sunny and cool. Yay! I decided to go “hiking” again. Based on our success on the last “hike”, we chose a slightly more challenging trail, a moderate rated trail, two kilometres long. What a glorious time we had, again, sitting for a long time at the water’s edge. This time, as we were sitting watching the water lap against the rocks and submerged trees trunks, a beautiful mink ran across the shore in front of us. We were downwind from the water, so that it probably did not realize we were there until it was well on its journey. When it became aware of us, it scooted across in front of us and off into the brush. At another point in our walk, we stopped to watch a group of women in a small motorboat, who were out fishing. They caught our attention with their cries of excitement and amazement as one of them caught a fish. They were enjoying themselves so much, it was contagious. My knee, and Attila’s back and ankle, survived the experience without distress, we were pain-free and tired when we arrived back at the car. Out came the lawn chairs from the trunk of the car, cool beverages were fetched from the cooler in the back seat, and we set ourselves up in the shade to enjoy the breeze and the trees, while we rested from our adventure.

Once rested we headed for the Rideau Camp. Once there I heated up a pot of chilli for our supper, while Attila started a camp fire, over which he cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. We enjoyed a quiet meal, then sat around the camp fire for a few hours until the light began to fail. The fire was doused and then we were on our way home. It was a another lovely day.

Mouse Tales

Mice invaded Grace the trailer over last winter and have been a nightmare this summer. Three weeks ago, while applying Mouse Free to the undercarriage of the trailer, with a paint brush, Attila discovered a gap tucked behind the siding at the front jack. That opening, and another we found in the rear, were then filled with steel wool, then painted with Mouse Free. This was all done in hope of preventing more mice from entering.

BUT there was a high possibility that there were remaining mice in the trailer. Snap traps were being turned over and raided without catching the mice. When a mouse was caught in a snap trap, it was a pretty gory affair to clean up. So I got a 5 gallon pail, filled it with about 10 inches of water, smeared a bit of peanut butter horizontally for a few inches, just above the water line, and placed a 1×2 board up to the lip of the rim as an entry ramp for the mice. We caught six mice. Yesterday, after leaving the trailer for a week, there were no mice in the trap. There were no new droppings anywhere in the trailer.

That brings us to today, the last day of the “vacation”. Today nothing is planned. Attila is doing a lot of little things he wants to get done before he goes back to work. I am puttering, my usual kind of puttering about, going from one little task to another, like a bee wandering from bloom to bloom.

This may or may not have solved our mouse issues. I live i hope.

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Sunday 9 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dew point: 4.0°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: NE 19 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are the more leisure we have.”
William Hazlitt
1778 – 1830

Canning Odyssey

Well, I didn’t stop pressure canning with two batches of canned tomatoes, and two batches of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce. A trip to an apple farm, an outing, tempted a purchase of a half bushel of Paulared apples. I don’t like them for eating, they are too tart for me, so applesauce was their destiny. They are an early variety, the varieties I prefer for eating will ripen later in September.

A shout out to Wendy and Bex here! Wendy, when I last made applesauce you suggested using a food mill! Bex, you also recommended a food mill! Great suggestion. My new food mill is definitely the way to go with tomato sauce and applesauce, it is a game changer, with a little help from my friends.

Yesterday I made 9 1/2 litres of applesauce, and pressure canned 9 litres of it. Another 12 hour marathon. The down side of doing this on a weekday is that the low-peak hydro prices aren’t in effect until 7:00 p.m., so that I can’t start the pressure canning until then. That means I have to stay up late at night to complete two canning sessions, as the canner only holds 7 one litre jars at a time. It was a late night last night. The result was 9 litres of tart, delicious applesauce.

The advantage to canning is that it stores without electricity. I love freezing, but our second-hand, beat-up, smallish freezer doesn’t allow for much in the way of bulk storage. Canned goods can sit on the shelves for a few years, needing no equipment or electricity to keep them viable.

If we ever had a prolonged power outage, you would find me in the back yard with my propane camp stove, pressure canning the contents of our freezer. Mostly fruits and vegetables, and a bit of meat. Hopefully that never happens.

So, the only canning left on my itinerary is pressure canning our garden tomatoes, all organic, all non-gmo. As they ripen they are washed and frozen whole. When the growing season is over, and all of the tomatoes have ripened and have been frozen, it will be time to can them.

I can’t think of a better way to wait out a heat wave, which broke this morning. I’ve been canning since last weekend, and it has been hot as hades here. But I’ve indulged myself by working hard in an air-conditioned house, which is even kept cool in the evenings when the pressure canner is sputtering away on the stove!

Worldly

Weather

22°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 6 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.5°C
Dew point: 17.9°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NNE 19 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.”
Joan Rivers
1935 –

This reminds me of a trip to Costco… I’ve not once seen a smiling face on a customer in there! The staff however, are extremely pleasant and smile a lot, for which I give them credit, considering the dour lot that shop there.

Mincemeat

Attila and I donned our glad rags last night and headed off to our evening out at the restaurant. The experience exceeded expectations on all counts, and we both had a lovely time. Good company makes all the difference! The restaurant staff were wonderful. Attila said the food was great. We both ordered a drink, which came with the meal, and Attila ordered what I was drinking; and then gave me his drink so that I would have two drinks to nurse for the evening. Attila’s employers are wonderful people, no doubt about it.

We have always had a good time at this annual event, and it will be something to look forward to next year. I might even keep my eyes open for a new outfit! But probably not!

Today we dedicated our time to mincemeat production. I love mincemeat. The mincemeat sold in the grocery stores has preservatives in it, every single brand on the market. No shortcuts for me! If I want to have mincemeat at Christmas, I have to make it myself. So today was the day. Attila peeled the apples, the Spy apples I bought a few weeks ago. I prepared the rest of the ingredients, washing raisins and currants carefully to ensure that no traces of preservatives remained. We made two batches, three one quart mason jars to a batch, for a total of seven mason jars of mincemeat. The extra jar was what was leftover from the first and second batch, and that jar will be consumed this week.

After the mincemeat was jarred and refrigerated, we set off to do errands in town. It is a 70 km round trip to go to the bank, or the grocery store. We like to get as much done as possible while we are there, because every trip is costly, in terms of time, and fuel for the car.

Arriving home again, we began to prepare for the wind storm, due to arrive this evening or overnight. Dinner was put in the oven early, so that it would be cooked before the stormy weather arrived. The aroma of baked a squash, and sweet potatoes filled the room.

High winds, here in the country, often mean power outages. We set out candles at the ready, setup a cooler with basics like milk, and of course the masonry heater was well charged, and easily kept so.

So here it is evening and the rain and the wind have arrived. We have our fingers crossed that we will not lose any of our trees. There are concerns locally about flooding, but luckily we are high and dry. There are advantages to not living in a building built right at the water’s edge.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

WIND WARNING IN EFFECT – up to 90 km gusts possible
12C
Date: 4:00 PM EST Sunday 17 November 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 12.1°C
Dewpoint: 10.9°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SSE 26 gust 37 km/h

Strong southerly winds have developed ahead of a cold front over Southwestern Ontario. Winds of 50 gusting up to 80 km/h have been reported in a few places. Behind the cold front, very strong southwesterly winds with much colder air will blast in late this evening and into Monday morning with winds gusting up to 90 km/h or above. A few gusts of 100 km/h or more are possible in regions near the Great Lakes and higher ground, such as Southern Niagara, Picton and the Dundalk Highlands.

The low pressure system originally from Colorado is near Whitefish Bay. The associated cold front will reach Southwestern Ontario very soon then blast east across the remainder of the regions tonight. Very strong southwesterly winds with much colder air will affect much of the Southwestern and South Central Ontario.

Quote

“Seek not, my soul, the life of the immortals; but enjoy to the full the resources that are within thy reach.”
Pindar
522 BC – 443 BC

Twitter Is For The Birds

The weather was sunny and warm and perfect on arrival day at the little house in the city. Yesterday the clouds moved across the sky and a gentle rain settled over the area. This morning the rain has stopped, and little bit of sunshine peaks out from behind the clouds, occasionally and briefly.

I had a slow and lazy Saturday morning. First thing, after chatting with Attila, I baked a Giant Oven Pancake, which I enjoyed topped with applesauce, with a glass of cold milk on the side. Washing up did not take very long.

I showered. The novelty of a shower, in this house, has not lessened. I know that eventually I will take it for granted, being able to pop into the shower any time, but not yet.

After dressing I took my wet towels out to the back porch, where we have strung rope from post to post, across the entire length of the porch. The air was filled with the scent of fallen leaves, damp with yesterday’s rain. Birds of all kinds happily twittered from every direction. It was one of those moments when the little things seem overwhelmingly precious.

Twitter, in my world, is for the birds.

The to-do list, written over this morning’s coffee, is sitting beside the computer. There are a few items that would require a half hour drive to accomplish; those are being ignored for the next few days at least. The remaining tasks are mundane, bagging old newspapers to transport north for starting fires, vacuuming, dusting, and making more applesauce from the Macintosh apples purchased last Monday on the trip down.

The two free weekly newspapers add up to a lot of newsprint in a very short time. I will be taking this newsprint back north with me, we have lots of uses for it in the country. The bags are on the living room floor, and that is the original hardwood. It is damaged in spots, but we want to sand it and stain it a dark colour to mask the damaged areas. Near the front door it has rotted, so I would like to cut out the rot and design an interesting handmade wood “tile” to insert there.
Bagged newspapers DSCF3611

The computer sits open on the kitchen table, beside the mug of drinking water which is always on the go. The routine: is work a little an item on the to-do list, rest at the table, drink a little water, putter on the computer, work a little on the to-do list, and so on.

The water at the little house in the city reeks of chlorine. My eyes sting and are red rimmed after my showers. I don’t like drinking it, it tastes like dirt, even when filtered. So, for this visit I filled two empty, clean, four litre jugs with tap water from our well at the country house. The well water runs through a UV filter, and then we use a Brita filter to remove excess minerals. I’ve been keeping the Brita filter here topped up with the country well water. I have about three litres left.

Listeria contamination in processed lunch meats has been a health risk in Canada in recent years. It is particularly serious for older people, and that means me! I miss cold cuts, so my solution is to sauté salami slices, or summer sausage, cool it, and then add it to my sandwich. It isn’t quite the same, but it will have to do.

Tonight, to entertain myself. I am watching Anastasia, starring Ingrid Bergman. The last time I viewed this film was many years ago. At that time there was no conclusive evidence that Anastasia had perished with her family. In 2007 her remains were found and tests confirmed that all of the princesses, including Anastasia, perished in 1918.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

15°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Saturday 5 October 2013
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 14.9°C
Dewpoint: 6.8°C
Humidity: 58%
Wind: NNE 19 km/h

Quote

“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.”
Alexander Humboldt
1769 – 1859