The Blessed Cool: Autumn

Yesterday was hot and humid. I didn’t go outside very much because my body does not tolerate heat and humidity with grace and ease. The hot and humid weather appeared in June, and only let up for a few days through the whole summer season, until today. So here it is the 19th of September, with autumn about to enter the scene in a few days, (9:54 p.m. on Saturday, September 22nd). Suddenly the temperature has plummeted from 22C at this time yesterday morning, to 14C this morning.

I am wearing socks! And long pants! And shoes with toes in them! And I am comfortable! Being almost naked has its moments, but I prefer to be clothed for the most part!

This morning’s breakfast consisted of two Turmeric Breakfast Cookies, and a cup of coffee (50% chicory 50% coffee) with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a few tablespoons of almond milk. The cookies are a big hit with me! The first batch I made using squash puree, the last two batches were made with my canned applesauce. I keep them in the refrigerator because they disappear only two at a time, and are quite moist, so I want to prevent spoilage.

On the weekends Attila likes to BBQ chicken and sausages for himself, which he will share with me if I so desire, but I seldom do. Last weekend my food of choice was a recipe I made up myself, for the Instant Pot of course! I call it Spinach Quinoa ala Maggie, and I love it! It isn’t pretty though, something about brown quinoa and dark green spinach that doesn’t soar visually. Just the same, I have found a dish that I can make for myself that feels like a treat and is still healthy.

Attila continues to wander into the garden when he gets home from work, emerging with ripe tomatoes and Scarlet Runner beans which he brings to me in the kitchen. The bean harvest is providing enough beans to eat daily, and the tomatoes are mostly going into the freezer for canning later. Some of the tomatoes being are being set aside to make sandwiches.

Attila is getting physiotherapy for his back and ankle, thank goodness that has started. He is slowly getting better, but if he stays on his feet for very long he begins to limp. He limps by the end of his workdays.

A recent visit to the doctor revealed that my blood pressure is higher than last year, lower than the last time I visited the doctor, and borderline on needing further intervention. The upshot is that the only thing left for me to do myself to keep it where it is, is more exercise. I do get exercise, I move around all day. The doctor and I talked about that, and the thing is, she explained, that I should get my pulse up to 100 or 110 for 20 minutes at least three times a week. Well, despite the fact that I am up and about quite a bit in a day, I doubt I get my pulse up that high for twenty minutes at a time. This is where the elliptical machine comes in. I haven’t been using it over the summer, to hot, too humid, and much too busy with other interesting things to to do. It is easy to just ignore it.

Another influence that has had a negative effect on my habitual use of the elliptical machine is the incessant public commentary on how people should exercise 20 minutes EVERY day. If I weaken and listen to that, which I occasionally do, after a week or two I begin to avoid the thing, and shortly after that I find that I completely ignore it. Better some than none, and three times a week is a schedule I can follow without getting discouraged and/or overwhelmed. So much of what is in the media encourages us to PUSH, PUSH, PUSH for MORE, MORE, MORE, when in reality slow and steady usually wins the day. Everything in moderation makes for a more balanced life.

Also, recent medical test results have revealed that I do not have any aneurisms, how great is that! This past year I have had many medical tests, and my health is excellent, I should be good for a good many years to come. It is nice to hear the doctor say that!

Today our oil heating system was inspected, as required by law. It passed with flying colours. Thank goodness. In ten years it will require another inspection, and we are pretty sure it will pass that one as well.

A big discovery around here was unearthed by Attila. Our “walking onions” suffered from some kind of strange mildew this summer, which killed all the green tops. The plants were assumed dead. But then new shoots began to reach out to the sky, green and vigorous. Attila picked many of them, and put them in the dehydrater. It took days for them to dry, running the dehydrater in the evenings when the hydro was off-peak. The flavour is WOW, amazing, outstanding. Who knew! Next summer’s garden will include a lot of these onions, and the dehydrated onion will become a major flavouring in our cooked dishes. You know when there is a big discovery at Mist Cottage, it usually involves tasty food!

Attila and I are finding enjoyment in each other’s company, and in life.

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Wednesday 19 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dew point: 11.8°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: N 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“How beautiful maleness is, if it finds its right expression.”
D. H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, pg 62
1885 – 1930

Well, I agree, and wish that every little baby boy was born into an environment that helped him find his own right expression.

Silence By Degrees

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Today is cold and sunny. There is a snow storm on the way, lots of snow the weather people say. Winter isn’t done with us yet.

It is a quiet weekend here at Mist Cottage. A little bit of baking going on, a little bit of food preparation for next week, using the off-peak hydro prices by cooking ingredients. Our wedding anniversary is coming up next week, and we are celebrating with a homemade pizza, and a movie. I have my menu carefully planned for that day, so that I can afford to eat the sodium in the bacon bits we Attila cooked today. Eating out is out of the question.

I chatted with my Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl this afternoon, on FaceTime. My Mom looks so beautiful these days! She is bright eyed and rosy cheeked, her hair framing her face perfectly. Her recovery from her health issue is amazing. My Sister-The-Middle-Girl is looking quite beautiful these days too. Life must be agreeing with them!

Last week I chatted with Sister-The-Youngest-Girl over FaceTime, which was lovely. She is renovating her kitchen, a very big job. She and Beau Bob have gutted the kitchen, the electricians are still finishing up their part of the renovation, and the drywalling has been started this weekend. By the time we get there for a visit again, it will be finished. I am looking forward to seeing it!

Attila and I are not planning projects this summer. He will be touching up the paint on the house siding, putting in a larger garden, installing the cap on the basement waterproofing membrane, and finishing off the bathroom drywall. I am thinking about staining the exterior concrete walls of our basement, which would take me all summer. In a few weeks we will be venturing out into the yard with an eye to spring cleanup, but we have to wait out this coming snow storm first.

My crochet hooks should arrive in the next two weeks, I will be starting to watch for them next week. Yesterday morning’s second attempt at the single crochet stitch was more successful and I can see that I am going to have fun with it, once I get used to it. Now my thoughts are wandering to a suitable first project, and I have decided on a washcloth, a very simple washcloth. I like like the idea of functional creations, and eventually I would like to make soft fluffy washcloths. My first one will be made with this $1.00 ball of yarn, and my $1.00 crochet hook. Soon enough though, my new crochet hooks will arrive, and I will begin to cast my eye towards other balls of wool.

I have not been going out for walks, it is just too cold for my arthritic knee. I am loath to do any further damage to the knee, as each time it goes on me, it will not regain the functionality I have. I will lose mobility by increments, so I am being very careful not experience any incremental episodes. I have my fingers crossed that by next week the big snowfall we are expecting will have melted, and the temperature will rise above freezing during the day, so that I can begin to venture forth.

We are enjoying the coziness of Mist Cottage during this cold snap, the thermostat continues to charm us!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Another cold morning, with a major snow storm on the way tonight. Again I am staying indoors, not risking injury to my knee. The inactivity of winter has resulted in a moderate rise in my blood pressure levels, or so I surmise the cause. I am anxious now for the milder weather and the disappearance of snow and ice. It is a time for patience! Next month I am to go in for further testing for my high blood pressure, and afterwards I have an appointment with a cardiologist. At this point I am wondering if another type of medication might help, but that is something to discuss with the cardiologist. With my anaphylaxis, my options are limited as to safe medications.

This morning I have taken an internal walk down memory lane. Joan Lansberry posted a link to a BBC video of desert sounds. I closed my eyes and listened, the sounds, and the vibrations of the sounds from the computer provided me with a pleasant physical experience. I could not find the actual video to share here, but I did find a series of BBC video soundscapes, mostly of human activity, but some of nature’s activity.

We lived deep in a the Ontario bush for about a decade, we had only two neighbours within sight, who as “snowbirds” were often south during the winter. The noise was constant, snowmobiles, ATVs, private planes, speeding sports cars, huge motor boats, and transport trucks on the highways miles and miles away. These sounds became the white noise in our lives, we were rarely conscious of it. We could hear nature, but not without the steady hum, and sometimes din, of modern human activity. However, I considered it a paradise of silence compared to living in a small urban area.

Then I spent a week 60 miles north of Longlac. It was an education. There were no human sounds, not a plane, not a hint of a motor of any kind in the distance, the only tones and notes were created by non-human activity. The “silence” was striking, deeply unnerving. After 24 hours it caught me, and the inner calm that descended is like no other I have ever experienced. This was a rare and precious experience, which resulted from a one of a kind circumstance, and it is unlikely I will ever have the experience again. It would not be achievable for most people on planet earth. I am grateful to have encountered it.

P.S. I found downtown Toronto a close second to this experience. Noise there was constant, and like the wind, it blew a melody of activity that transcended individual sounds. Downtown Toronto was, for me, akin to visiting humans in the wild.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Sunday 12 March 2017
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -9.7°C
Dew point: -20.4°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: WNW 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”
Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931

Freezing Rain

This morning dawned grey and dreary.

Yesterday, since I could not sit, when I was tired of standing I lay down on the couch. Without knowing it, I fell asleep, only to awaken an hour or so later to find that I had fallen asleep. That meant that I was awake for several hours in the middle of the night. In turn, that meant that I slept in, Attila letting me sleep as he knew I’d been up during the night. It was light when awoke, a rare event.

I talked with Sister-The-Youngest-Girl this morning, she calls from time to time with her bluetooth system, from her car, while she is commuting to work. She has a long commute, so this seems an excellent way to stay in touch. All is well in her world, except that the branch of the company she works for has been sold, and future employment is up in the air for all of the employees right now. It doesn’t make for relaxing days at work!

After chatting with my sister, I puttered in the kitchen, doing dishes, and putting together a braised beef dinner in the cast iron Dutch Oven. It simmered all day, and will make an excellent dinner.

Around 10:00 a.m. the freezing rain began to pelt the windows, and the world outside began to shimmer in the cold. That meant that Attila drove to work before the freezing rain started. I continued all day, off and on, so that Attila’s drive home from work was through patches of freezing rain, and slippery roads. He arrived home late, but safe.

I enjoyed my day in the cozy warmth of Mist Cottage, taking a few tours of apartment’s in Japan, and reading a little about what it is like to teach in the schools there. Where the rest of the day went I just don’t know, and luckily, there is no need to know.

I am happy to say that my blood pressure levels are mostly within normal range now, as I continue with my very low sodium and sugar diet, continue to take some form of daily exercise, and occasionally now imbibe the Apple Cider Vinegar concoction. My back is returning to normal, which I credit to the Robax medication, which brought relief from the pain almost immediately, and made me drowsy enough to ensure I rested while my back healed. I took three pills, over the course of two days, and that seemed to do the trick. The maximum dosage per day is 6 pills, or 12 pills over two days, so I am very glad that only three pills were required for relief.

My visit to the Clinic for the CAD test brought me close to the walk-in clinic, so I visited there for a prescription renewal while I was in the city. The ECHO test had come back, it seems my valves have mild sclerosis, which is not unusual for someone my age. Another test has been scheduled for a year from now, to keep an eye on the condition. It may, or may not, get worse.

The weather prevented me from getting out for my walk today, but I did spend quite a bit of time standing at the computer, and puttering in the kitchen, so I think I did fairly well anyway.

I have been ignoring the whole President Donald Trump show, I have nothing to add to the fray, and feel no temptation at all to say rude and insulting things about anyone, no matter how pathetic their behaviour. I have no words of wisdom, in fact I am somewhat speechless at the current state of affairs. As for those who urge one to worry oneself into ill health, fie on you! We need our strength. A door has closed, we need not watch the closed door, but remain vigilant to find the open windows.

In our insignificant little world there are loving people who treat each other with relative respect. Attila and I do what we can, when we can, to alleviate any suffering we see around us. We have much to celebrate, much to fear, and will do our best to weather these interesting times.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

FREEZING RAIN WARNING IN EFFECT
1°C
Date: 3:52 PM EST Tuesday 17 January 2017
Condition: Light Drizzle
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling…
Temperature: 0.5°C
Dew point: -2.4°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: ENE 27 gust 38 km/h
Visibility: 8 km

Quote

“Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life has much difficulty… Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
1875 – 1926

Refurbished iMac

This morning I am aware of how much joy I enjoy, as light begins to filter into the sky that is visible through the silhouette of the tree, that I see when I gaze out of the living room window in the mornings. I feel wealthy, because I have the comfortable chair, in the warm dwelling, with a lovely window, and a tree I can see.

What a beautiful morning!

We are expecting snow by this afternoon, so I am determined to get out there for my walk early. After I wrote that last sentence, I headed out for my walk, it was sunny when I set out, and had clouded over by the time I returned home. Snow on the way.

My Mom knit me a second knee warmer for Christmas, so now when I go out for a walk both knees are dressed for the weather!

The refurbished iMac arrived on Tuesday. I tend to install everything anew, rather than transfer from the old iMac, and I’ve been busy setting up the new computer. And of course the joy of getting sidetracked has been mine to savour. I have collected quite a few images of art that I love to look at, and I display the images with their file names as a screensaver on the computer. This gives us a steady stream of art images, in high definition, to gaze at when we are sitting quietly contemplating life, the universe and everything.

The file names were haphazard, saved as is when the file was downloaded. The file names needed work. Luckily, I had been offered the software “Renamer” by the company as a gift, based on my long ago purchase of their discontinued recipe software. It came in very, very handy in renaming the files, there are over 600 of them. I name them thus: artist last name; artist first name; year created; title of work if any. This project took hours to complete. What a luxury to spend hours creating this decorative yet educational screen saver. Now the images rotate, and each one displays the the file name, which is the information about the image. My favourites are Klimt and Van Gogh.

The new iMac is light years faster than the 2007 iMac. I have moved my book working files onto a removable drive, and am now working on my genealogy book on the new computer. It is a modest screen size, by modern standards, 21.5″, and is a much better work space than the small screen of my MacBook Air. The book is going slowly, as I am now dealing with images, and captions, and references for the images. Each image has to be imported separately, resized and positioned on the page, manually captioned, and then manually referenced. There are hundreds of images, this is going to take some time.

We decided recently to discontinue Acorn TV for a little while, as we had watched all the programming they had that was interesting to us. A lot of their interesting stuff was not available in Canada. Instead we signed on for Amazon Prime Video, and we anticipate that they have such a limited offering that it won’t take long to watch everything they have that we find interesting. However, they also offer free shipping from Amazon.ca as part of the deal, so we can make the annual fee work for us. Our taste runs to programs that offer a good degree of character development, sophisticated story line, and no violence or manipulative power jockeying. Slim pickings these days, but there are still some programs that meet our criteria being created.

My blood pressure has been within normal readings for the last two readings. This is exciting! I have my fingers crossed that it isn’t just a fluke. Right now I am on the original dosage of the medication that had stopped working. Could it be that the low-sodium, low-sugar, pre-meal Apple Cider Vinegar, diet has at last kicked in to bring my high blood pressure down? Or is the lower level of stress, after a horrendous summer, allowing my blood pressure to lower? Well, I am not about to give up either the new diet, or the low stress levels, so I may never know!

Two of my heart tests will be conducted next week. No injections or pills, so I don’t have to worry about anaphylaxis. I have been trying to figure out the parking, it is going to be tricky, street parking with meters, I can’t arrive too early or I will get a ticket if the appointment takes too long. The woman at the parking office said that if I am delayed at a medical appointment and I get a ticket, to bring it in and they will take care of it for me. There are bureaucracies in this world that are mediated by good people!

Today I will be busy baking orange oatmeal muffins, and getting the old 2007 iMac ready to donate to someone. No takers in my circle, but I am hoping to find someone who wants a computer to do email and light surfing on the internet, it would be perfect for that.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-6°C
Date: 9:00 AM EST Thursday 5 January 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -5.6°C
Dew point: -12.2°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: W 36 gust 53 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
Epictetus
55 AD – 135 AD

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

Weather

-12°C
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

Quote

“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