Tonic

Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. The past weekend was one of those times.

On Thursday night of last week, Attila and I loaded Iris the trailer with our belongings, and hooked her up to Tank the FJ Cruiser. When Attila got home from work on Friday, it took us less than an hour to get out the door, and be on our way to the Rideau Camp. We thought that since it was the Labour Day long weekend, that the roads would be busy. It seems though, that very few people consider the area where our Rideau Camp is located a holiday destination. Perfect! The roads were no busier than they have been all summer.

We arrived at the Rideau Camp relatively early, got Iris set up, a camp fire started, the kitchen tent erected, and dinner on the stove. And then it was dark. We sat for a few hours staring into the flickering flames of the camp fire, then watching the twinkling embers when the fire burned itself out. But the stars, the real pleasure of the evening was the starry heaven above us. There are no towns or villages near our camp, so there is little in the way of artificial light to fade the heavens. Just before we turned in for the night, a shooting star caught my eye. It was an omen, the weekend was to be perfect.

We are still working out a few wrinkles in the camping department. One thing I really miss on the three day camping trip is a refrigerator. A cooler just will not stay cold over the course of three hot days. Next year I am hoping we can come up with a way to power our Koolatron, perhaps a battery with a solar trickle charger. Water is another issue, we bring it in in 4 litre bottles, but we need quite a bit for cooking, washing up, and putting out camp fires. I would like a rain barrel catchment system of some kind, at least for the purposes of putting out camp fires. Another issue is our beds. The old cushions in Iris are not comfortable. Having new cushions made runs into more than $1000, not going to happen. I haven’t found a good place to get replacement foam yet, I am still looking, and haven’t yet decided what type of foam I want, or how to cover it when I get it. In the meantime, the beds just aren’t comfortable for our old bones. All of these things are minor, it is fun to think about these little non-problems though, trying to come up with solutions.

The composting toilet with the humanure composting system is working out very well so far. No smell, no flies. We have yet to do our first bucket dump though, so it isn’t fully tested yet.

I had thought that Attila would use this long weekend to tackle the huge pile of cedar logs, stacking them into neat rows. However, Saturday morning he needed to bring me more brush to burn in the campfire, which led him to tackle one of the large brush piles left by the bulldozer when the driveway was put in. That got him started on clearing brush piles. There are about a dozen of them, piles of dirt and gravel, and stumps, and trees, and branches. The piles make the terrain on the south end of the camp rough and almost impassable. Over the course of three days Attila dug up and removed three brush piles. I burned most of it Saturday, as it was a lovely cool day. A half a dozen large stumps with roots were burned, several trees, and dozens and dozens of branches. Sunday was a much warmer day, and I found it just too hot to be anywhere near a campfire. Attila took over feeding the fire, and I kept watch over it when he headed back to his brush piles to bring back more wood. We spent a second evening watching our fire, but letting it burn out as the light of day died, watching only the embers for hours before bedtime. The lovely thing about watching the embers, is that they emit little light, and allow for wonderful star gazing. Again, I spotted a falling star just before we turned in for the night.

This morning we decided to forego a camp fire, partly because it was such a warm day, and partly because we prefer to stay the night after putting out a camp fire, to make sure it is well and truly out by the time we leave the property. Attila finished working on the brush pile at the entry to the property, under the hydro line. The hydro had clear cut the area beneath the lines, and left the trees and brush where they fell, years ago. The pile of brush was several feet thick. Attila dragged out large branches and piled them up, so that I could drag them further into the property and stack them where they would stay dry next spring for burning. When the brush was removed from under the hydro lines, Attila took the weed whacker and demolished the chest high growth of weeds. It looked very nice, but we have a lot of frontage, so it was but a drop in the bucket of the total job. We might get to the rest some other year, then again, maybe not.

As we were sitting down to eat our lunch, a healthy looking fox approached the camp. Attila yelled at him, but he was very bold and kept on coming. I waved a stick at him, but he wasn’t phased by that at all. We realized that he was the culprit who had come into our camp while we were sleeping and overturned our water bottles, which were thankfully sealed. He was probably searching for food. We both rushed at him waving sticks, and he finally retreated. I saw him sitting a few hundred feet off in the bush, then watched him try to climb a tall oak tree to get at whatever was in a hollow in the trunk, but he couldn’t reach it and gave up. Then he came back to the camp. We couldn’t believe it! We chased him again, and he would only retreat a few feet at a time. Finally Attila threw a rock towards him, not hitting him but hitting the ground near him and off he went at a quick trot. I don’t mind wild foxes, but I don’t want them approaching me in my kitchen! We talked to our neighbours later in the day and they told us that the people down the road feed the wild foxes. People! No wonder the fox was approaching us, he has learned to beg.

A wild fox. This enterprising fellow was not ten feet from me, he knew I was there and he didn’t care. He was looking for food, and begging. We are very careful with food around our campsite. It is never left out, and is locked away in the vehicle every night. We eat only at the picnic table, so there are no food droppings around the camp, and our dishwater, which might contain bits of food, is poured onto the campfire at night to put it out, burning the small food particles instantly. This fox has been given no reason to believe there is any food at our campsite. And yet here he is, sniffing around, boldly refusing to leave. We finally chased him away, and found out later that some of the cottagers have been feeding the wild foxes in the area, thinking it great fun.
DSCF9454
The wild fox finally decided to leave, as we became more aggressive in our request that he depart. I imagine he returned as soon as we left, but he wouldn’t find any food. We are hoping he eventually loses interest, after repeated failures to find anything edible at the site. Of course, he can eat as many mice and chipmunks as he can find around our campsite, we would not miss either of those little foragers.
DSCF9455

As the heat of the day set in, we decided to head home. It took a few hours to get everything packed up and ready to go, and by the time we left we were grateful to be sitting in an air conditioned vehicle.

We had turned off the air conditioning at Mist Cottage, and closed all the curtains for the weekend, since we would not be here, and it was lovely and cool in the house when we arrived home.

The weekend acted as a tonic, I feel much better for having sat in the bush by camp fires and star light.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Monday 5 September 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dewpoint: 16.7°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: S 12 km/h
Humidex: 27

Quote

“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.”
John Green

Chopping Down Trees

We spent the day at the Rideau Camp. It was sunny, beautiful, and chilly, with a high of 10C. I kept the fire going, which is job of constant activity, breaking sticks into lengths and feeding them into the fire. Attila brought his chain saw and felled two dead trees, chopped them up, pulled the brush near the fire pit so that I could break the branches up and burn them, and stacked the logs neatly. A good days work. The Camp looks better every time we visit it, and it feels like home already.

We saw large birds circling in the sky, as we did last weekend. We think they might be eagles, or perhaps they are turkey vultures, we don’t know. We heard owls hooting off in the bush. We saw a Mallard Duck swimming in our little wetland. We heard the call of two Pileated Woodpeckers. And we were visited by a half dozen black flies as the evening drew near, around 6 p.m. As long as the black flies do not swarm, I don’t mind them too much.

My Mom was in to see her doctor, and the doctor says that everything is good. She will go for a CT Scan in a few weeks time, just to check it out. The healing is progressing slowly. Mom should be feeling tickety boo by the time the warm weather finally arrives.

One of the two trees that Attila felled today. He thinks it was an Elm, it had been dead for quite some time.
Felled tree
The brush pile and stacked firewood, all done at the end of the day. The sun was beginning to set as we packed up to leave, just after this photo was taken.
Stacked firewood
When I was a child the bush around the farm was carpeted with these flowers every spring. What fond memories I have of wandering in the bush with my brothers and sisters. We called these flowers Tiger Lilies, Mom called them Dog Tooth Violets, their official name is Erythronium Americanum, they are also sometimes called Trout Lilies.
Tigerlily

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Saturday 23 April 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.4°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: NNE 7 km/h

Quote

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Joseph Campbell
1904 – 1987

It took a long time for this piece of wisdom to play out in my life, thank goodness I lived long enough for it to come to fruition.

Grackles and Mice

Thursday we had an ice storm. Luckily there was no loss of power where we live, so we were cozily tucked up at Mist Cottage for the duration. With one small exception. I wasn’t feeling at all well. What to do, no doctor here. So I took myself off to the Emergency Room at the hospital. The car was coated with about a half inch of ice, which Attila chipped away for me. It was a little slippery, so I crawled along the road, through the parking lot, to park as close as I could to the entrance. Most of the walkways were salted, but there were a few ice patches to contend with on the walk from the car to the Emergency Room, which I navigated without instance.

They checked out my heart, no problems there thank goodness. What I wasn’t expecting was the news that I have Chronic Kidney Disease. Who knew! I have had no specific symptoms, but in hindsight it makes sense. I am to follow up with my family doctor, which isn’t going to happen since his office is a five to six hour drive away. I have been researching the disease ever since, and now realize I needed more details to have any idea how to proceed with diet and lifestyle changes. I have come to the conclusion that I need a doctor to do more tests and clarify exactly what course of action needs to be taken with this. I hope we reach the top of the waiting list for a family doctor soon, I need a doctor.

There is a government provincial service that will place individuals with doctors, but the stipulation is that you must be completely without a doctor to qualify to put your name on that list, and there is no time line on placement. I do not qualify, as this agency specifically told me I cannot be on that list because I am still listed under the care of the doctor near the country house, so very far away. But I need that doctor to prescribe the medications I must take, and the Emergency Room at the hospital will not prescribe or renew medications of any kind. I must keep my distant doctor if I am to survive. But I am hobbled in finding a local doctor near Mist Cottage because I must keep my distant doctor to survive. Bureaucracy at its worst, in my opinion. It is insanity. I am hoping my GP near the country house will agree to consult with me from a distance, fingers crossed.

When I walked out to my car from the Emergency Room visit, the car was covered with a thick sheet of ice. Feeling in no condition to get out of the car and chip away at it, I sat with the heating fans blasting away at the windows until it melted, which took about fifteen minutes.

When I arrived home Attila was glad to see me. I was glad to be home.

Yesterday, Good Friday, began with freezing rain, which changed to rain for part of the day, then it began to snow. Again, we remained warm and dry and safe at home. The weather was doubly disappointing because Sister-the-youngest invited us to Easter Dinner with the family, and we missed it.

We are disappointed that we have a mouse in the house!

We heard a noise in the basement last week, something falling. We investigated and found nothing. Yesterday Attila discovered a bag of mung beans on the shelf in the basement that had escaped being stored in a glass jar. The bag had been chewed through, and there were mouse droppings all around. The presence of a mouse was confirmed.

We put out a glue trap, but no luck so far. We removed the bag of mung beans, and perused our food stores in the basement to ensure there were no other chewable containers available to the mouse/mice. Today we will be visiting the local hardware store to buy more glue traps. I want to put one in Iris as well, just in case some enterprising mouse has setup a household in there.

The Grackles continue to peck away at the wood covering the hole in the roof facia. So far Attila’s repair is holding fast against them. I don’t remember having to fight so hard to evict wildlife in a house before!

Attila has some ideas on sealing up some of the entry points that mice might be using. I think that will be one of our priority projects this summer.

As I sit here writing Attila sleeps soundly in the bedroom. The light of dawn is beginning to reveal the tree branches just outside the window, where birds are beginning to call. A thick frost coats every horizontal surface in sight. The enshrouded field and trees in the distance lie peacefully in icy silence. I love early morning.

Easter Monday

Yesterday, Sunday, was warm and sunny. Attila and I decided to go out to the Rideau Camp to have a look around. Technically we do not own it yet, but we will in a few days after the last of the legal work is done.

We had a nice walk around the bush, and even saw a magnificent Blue Heron in the nearby wetland. When I first saw the Heron I thought is was a piece of art plunked in the water, when it moved I was mesmerized. It slowly rose above the water on its great wings, and glided silently to the other side of the water, where is stood once again, silent and unmoving in the shallows.

We visit the Rideau Camp and plan and dream. It is very private, and when it is quiet it is very quiet. However, there are nearby cottages, and they are occupied by people with ATVs. The ATVs make a hell of racket. I hate them as much as I hate snowmobiles, because of the noise pollution. Thankfully the noisy machines were only used intermittently.

Our Rideau Camp is vacant land, almost. We have inherited a few items. One is a bag of garbage, mostly plastic items, that has been scattered all along the drainage area. I picked out four large empty vinegar bottles yesterday, flattened them, then bagged them for the recycling bin at Mist Cottage. There is more work to do on that score.

Another inheritance at the Rideau Camp, a high pile of old logs and brush. We will burn the brush and haven’t decided what to do with the old logs, which are partially rotted.
Pile of brush rideau
And another inheritance at the Rideau Camp. This is a septic tank. It is unused because it is cracked. We are thinking about what we can do with a cracked septic tank, it doesn’t seem that there are too many viable uses for it, but we will keep trying to think of something. Maybe a tree house for the grandkids, with a ladder. I don’t know!
Cracked septic tank

We returned home early in the afternoon so that Attila could get some sleep before heading out for the night shift.

This morning the weather is still mild, 10C, with rain and winds gusting to 80 kmh. My walk this morning was lovely, as I was warm in my parka, protected from wind and rain. The birds are in full spring celebration, and quite undaunted by the rain and wind.

We caught a mouse yesterday and reset the trap. Another mouse “bothered” the trap but did not get caught. We now know that there is more than one mouse in the house, so we need to keep baiting traps until we catch them all. Attila thinks they are coming down the outside of the chimney through the wall, which he is going to seal completely.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-4°C
Date: 5:00 AM EDT Saturday 26 March 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -4.3°C
Dewpoint: -5.1°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: calm

7°C
Date: 1:28 PM EDT Monday 28 March 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 99.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 7.2°C
Dewpoint: 4.7°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: SW 33 gust 45 km/h

Quote

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”
T. S. Eliot
1888 – 1965