The Drama Queen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We slept soundly as the house slowly cooled, nested in a sea of cold white, under the bright moon. Attila arose early to fire the heater, and by the time I arose there was a circle of warmth where I could sit and sip my morning coffee. Attila also brought in all the wood I would need to fire the heater again midday. By 10:00 a.m. Mist was sitting in front of the masonry heater, making eyes at me, willing a firing into existence. The midday firing was scheduled for 1 p.m., so Mist eventually lost interest, took herself off to Attila’s seat near the masonry heater, curled up into a ball, and took a cat nap.

When Attila was out of commission one winter with his hernia operation, some years ago, I became responsible for the wood heating system at the country house. I managed to keep us warm and cozy, all by myself. It was very hard work!

I like thermostats, a lot.

Never before have I slept with so little awareness of my context. This began very suddenly, the very first night I slept with the buckwheat husk pillow. Upon awakening I have no idea how long I have been asleep, it might have been ten minutes, a few hours, or a complete uninterrupted night of sleep. If Attila is up and about I will often call out to him, asking him if it is morning. Attila arises in the night to eat, quite frequently, so it is impossible to ascertain the time based on his activities.

I wondered if this loss of context was due to aging. But after spending some nights at the little house in the city, using a polyester loft filled pillow, I know that it is related to the buckwheat husk pillow. With the polyester loft pillow, I know, almost exactly, how long I have been sleeping, and when it is morning.

I do not know that one way of sleeping is better than the other, but I would not give up the buckwheat husk pillow willingly.

It is snowing heavily again, after the lovely blue skies enjoyed yesterday. As the snow comes down, the temperature rises, thus far from -27C to -17C.

I have been thinking about how much I write about winter weather. It is central to everything we do during the winter months. It determines when we see friends and loved ones, when we can travel to purchase supplies, how many hours Attila must spend supplying adequate firewood and shovelling snow, the frequency with which we have to cancel appointments, cleaning ice and snow off car windows… well the list goes on and on and on. Winter Weather is a demanding drama queen in our lives.

I think about how weather-dominated humans have been throughout history. It is only in the last few decades that humans have lost their ancient connections to the planet’s moods. Attila and I seem to be walking backwards in time, out of step with everyone else.

We last purchased food on December 3, 2013. The wonky weather has prevented us from getting into town for supplies. In the pantry we still have several squash, spy apples, and some onions. We have eaten all of our fresh potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, beets, and parsnips. Now we will begin to use the frozen produce that I processed during harvest season, the rutabaga, beets, squash and applesauce. We have some frozen meat, dried pasta, grains, beans, legumes, and rice. We also have a good assortment of herbs and spices. I venture a guess that we would be able to hold out, and enjoy what we have, till Christmas, without procuring additional supplies. For Christmas dinner though, I do like mashed potatoes!

We have been moving away from canned foods. They are not only high in sodium, there is some doubt as to the long-term safety of the plastic lining in the cans themselves. We prefer the taste and quality of frozen foods, and grains, beans, and legumes that we cook ourselves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This was my big day! After being in the living area of our house since December 3, that is 15 days in the same room, mostly alone with Mist, I had an appointment about an hours drive away. That is an hour under ideal conditions, clear pavement and perfect visibility. I planned this trip. I had my list of things to accomplish, number two on the list was Christmas shopping for Attila’s gift. In the morning Attila spent a good deal of time removing the previous night’s snowfall from my car. It seemed I was ready for my adventure.

I got all dressed up and ready to go, then I headed out to the car. Over three inches of snow had fallen since Attila cleared the car, an hour and half earlier. It took me about fifteen minutes to remove the newly fallen snow. I spent another ten minutes defrosting the windows so that visibility was optimal for driving. It was still snowing heavily as I drove out of the driveway. Our road was not yet ploughed, but I made it to the highway without incident. I slowly turned onto the highway, it had not been ploughed. I drove as far as the village, five kilometers, which took about fifteen minutes. It was a cautious journey, the ruts were powerful and deep, and the other vehicles were going too fast for the condition of the road. A pickup truck tailgated me into the village, he did not pass me though. Even at the low speed I was travelling, the rear end of the car slipped towards the ditch a few times. As I reached the village my decision had been made, there would be no trip into the big town today.

After stopping at the local closed bank to use their machine, I turned the car around and came home again. The trip back was easier because the vehicle in front of me understood the condition of the road, so much so that he was driving along with his four way flashers blinking. I arrived home safe and sound.

Once again winter weather, the Drama Queen of my current existence, had made her powers known. I called and left a message on the answering machine to cancel my appointment. I called Attila to let him know I had not attempted the journey into big town, so that he would not worry.

So, back at the ranch, Mist and I are nestled in for the day, watching the snow fall and feeling lucky to be safe and warm.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Tuesday 17 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -18.5°C
Dewpoint: -20.7°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: ESE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -27


Date: 10:00 AM EST Wednesday 18 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 1 km
Temperature: -5.3°C
Dewpoint: -6.0°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: SW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -9


“Acquire inner peace and a multitude will find their salvation near you.”
Catherine de Hueck Doherty

This evokes the age old question, “are snowflakes a multitude?” If so, a little bad behaviour on my part may be called for!

Buckwheat Husk Pillow

The treatment recommended by the Dermatologist has been working for Attila. The Hogweed is gone, thank goodness. The episode with the Hogweed triggered a severe Eczema event, affecting a high proportion of Attila’s skin. That too is now healing nicely. The treatments must be diligently kept up, several times a day, but the effort is certainly worth the result. The correct diagnosis is so essential to getting the right treatment! The really great aspect of this treatment is that Attila has been able to continue working.

Attila had his second appointment with the Dermatologist this past week, and has been provided with an additional cream, cortisone, to be used on a temporary basis. He will go back to the Dermatologist again at the end of September for an assessment of the treatments.

When I work I seldom write. That is because when I work I have to shut down most of who I am, and put on a customer service, bottom of the rung employee, smile and keep it going every single minute that I am paid to do so. That takes a lot out of me, so I when I come home I rest and heal.

I will be working again next week, but today was a day off. We spent our one day together doing errands. We travelled to town to fill prescriptions, buy supplies and put some reasonably priced fuel in our vehicle. The prices of food and fuel in the village where we live are so much higher than they are in town, that we more than cover the cost of fuel for the drive and the cost of wear and tear on the car, when we travel all that way to make our purchases. If we had to pay local prices, we would be going without, a lot.

Actually, the gas station in our village has closed its pumps, permanently, so the closest fuel station is about 6 km. away. The fuel stations close to us are on highways, expensive, and meant to service travellers, rather than locals, so there is no shopping or other services available, just fuel.

About two weeks ago I took delivery of a buckwheat husk pillow. My main motivation is that people had described them as “cool” in the summer. I am a person who is almost always too hot in the spring, fall and summer. I will have to wait until the next heat wave to determine if the pillow is significantly cooler than other types of pillows.

However, I can report that the pillow surprisingly comfortable. The first night spent with the pillow provided me with a new experience. At one point I woke up, and detected that there was a light on in the living room. That might mean that Attila had not yet come to bed, that Attila had arisen during the night for a variety of reasons, or that it was morning. The thing was, when I awoke and saw the light, I could not tell whether I had slept for a short while and Attila was still up, or if Attila was up in the deep of the night, or if it was morning. I had absolutely no sense of time spent in the bed! This was a new experience, directly related to the buckwheat husk pillow. As it turned out it was morning, time to get up.

I am thinking that a mattress filled with buckwheat husks would be very comfortable; which led me to thinking about historical mattress materials. I constantly read that early settlers in North America used straw as mattress filling. I wonder why straw would have been preferred to buckwheat husks? Was straw cheaper, more easily obtainable, warmer, or merely traditional? I have found many “essays” online, describing Asian use of buckwheat filled mattresses, but these “essays” are not written by researchers, people who consult actual historical documents, they are written by entrepreneurs selling buckwheat husk products. So I consider myself uninformed as to the historical use of buckwheat husk filled mattresses.

Granny’s House in the late 1800s, early 1900s; before it was purchased by our family. It was built as a railway store, the false front, porch and balcony were removed, and the store relocated to the side addition, when our family took it over in 1930.

It was purchased by my Great Great Grandfather in 1930, then occupied by my recently married Grandparents, early in the Depression years. My Great Great Grandfather lived on the next farm down the road, which is where my Grandfather grew up. Both my Grandfather and Grandmother descended from families who were amongst the first European pioneers to settle in the area. The European families arrived in the region when land grants opened up in 1870. The first generations to arrive in the area had been born in Ireland and Scotland, and emigrated to Canada for a better life.

Granny’s House as it stands today.
DSCF3070 grannys house

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:30 PM EDT Sunday 25 August 2013
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 4 km
Temperature: 17.0°C
Dewpoint: 16.0°C
Humidity: 94%


“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”
Elie Wiesel
1928 –


Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel

“Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel KBE (/ˈɛli vɨˈzɛl/; born September 30, 1928) is a Romanian-born Jewish-American[1] professor and political activist. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel is also the Advisory Board chairman of the newspaper Algemeiner Journal.

When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind,” stating that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a powerful message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity.”