First Snow!

I think this is the first video clip I have ever created to post on this site! I am a complete beginner when it comes to videos, and this is the result of taking a video with the iPad this morning, then using iMovie to edit it a bit, save it, upload it, and place in this entry. I watched about 45 minutes of videos on how to use iMovie before getting this result. The beginner iMovie youtube videos move way too fast and don’t cover the basics very well. I will be searching for a video made by someone with a bit of instructional ability, not just technical ability! Baby steps!
ANYWAY, this was our snow this morning, so pretty.

It is snowing here this morning, lots and lots of snow. It is melting too, but enough is falling out the sky to accumulate significantly on the branches of the tree branches outside my windows, about 4 inches so far.

I love the first snowfall of the season! It is pretty. But beyond the visual is the feel of the soft white blanket that now surrounds my little house. The busy brashness of late autumn sounds has been muted. White brings sharp visual contrast to the landscape. I can see paths in the snow, where squirrels and rabbits have made their way in our yard. That is on the outside of me.

On the inside of me is a deep feeling of containment and contentment. I am cozy here in my little house, warm enough, well fed enough (understatement), and peacefully occupied enough to love where I am. The first snow always brings into sharp focus how wonderful it is to have a peaceful home to live in. I stepped out onto the back porch this morning, to take out the compost bucket, and to bring in some washed and dried plastic bags that were hanging on the clothesline, and oh what a pleasure to breath deeply that air, so sharp and crisp and biting. And then, what a delight to retreat back into the warmth of this little house.

These feelings of wonder at the first snow never get old. They return every year in late autumn, when the world first turns white. It is amazing to me that I feel this way every year, despite having experienced late winter impatience for it to melt away.

The first snow marks a turning point in the seasons, a natural turning point, dictated by mother nature herself, and it is delightful.

There is another turning point at this time of year however, that is not so delightful, nor is it natural in any way. It is a corporate interest turning point that occurs here in Ontario, where we have Time-Of-Use monitoring and billing for the electricity we use. It is the perfect opportunity to increase prices, and inflict restrictions on the domestic population of Ontario, Canada.

On November first we were switched to winter rates and time schedules. The rates have increased of course. And what this also means is that I must do my daily tasks that use electricity either before 7:00 a.m. in the morning, or after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. In other words, the most economical hydro is largely available overnight, when I sleep. This is very, very inconvenient, and changes the way my whole day is structured.

There is a period of mid-peak pricing from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., when I will undertake tasks that I feel just cannot be done during the 12 nighttime hours when the electricity is least expensive. But I try to avoid doing that, because it will affect our monthly billing.

It seems Hydro One is determined to make the short cold winter days as dark and dreary as they possibly can.

Heating is our priority, and it is a service I do not want to cut back on significantly, despite the government urging seniors to turn their heat down! The government paid for ads a few years ago, showing an elderly woman wrapped in a blanket, turning down her thermostat, like that was the RIGHT thing to do. I hope the genius who thought up that ad, and the one who chose to run with it, have severe arthritis in their older years, and find themselves wrapped in blankets in chilly homes, doing the RIGHT thing. Heartless campaign.

I’ve been busy. One of the things that has come to my attention is that I experience significant pain if I try to get down on the floor, or back up from the floor. Arthritis is not my friend. All of my life I have been physically nimble, hale and hearty. Age is having none of it! So I did a bunch of research on techniques for getting down on the floor, and up from the floor, and have been practicing. And the practice is paying off, after a few days of cleaning shelves that can only be reached if one is down on the floor, I can now get down, and up again, without experiencing pain. I still forget I am not young anymore, and without thinking try to get down, or up, as I had whole life through, for decades and decades. But pain is a determined reminder that adaptation is required.

On Tuesday I made a loaf of 100% whole-wheat low-sodium bread in the bread machine. The whole loaf contained only 1200 mg of sodium. I added dried mango and dried cranberries to it. Wow, it was so good. I love bread with dried fruit in it.

When I was a single Mom on a tight time and financial budget, a loaf of bread with mixed fruit in it was my only special treat. I even dreamed about that loaf of bread at night, watching the slices fall as I opened the bag. I love breads and pastries. Yesterday, I could not resist having my homemade bread with butter for breakfast, again for lunch, and as a bedtime snack. And I had it for breakfast again this morning, and again at lunch. I know I will not want to eat anything else until that loaf of bread is all gone, and it won’t be long. Well, it is best fresh, right?

I was so in love with the bread I made, that I decided I needed more dried fruit in the house, with which to make it. Out came the dehydrator, to dry the Gala apples purchased at the grocery store this past week. They are Ontario apples, and on sale at the moment for $1.00 a pound. They were peeled, cored, sliced thin, then spread out on the racks. I ran the dehydrator at 140F last night after 7:00 p.m. when the hydro cost dropped to off-peak pricing, and turned the heat down to 90F for the night, to let it run overnight. It seemed best to keep the temperature down when the unit was not being supervised. It was turned off this morning at 6:58 a.m.. The apples are not dry yet, a little rubbery, so they aren’t done. Tonight the dehydrator will be turned on to 140F again at 7::00 p.m. and will run again all night if need be.

The apples cores and peels are now in the crock turning themselves into Apple Cider Vinegar, which needs to be stirred daily to prevent mold.

Last Friday the pressure canner was put into service again, this time to can six 500-ml jars of Taco Soup. These are intended for my lunches, on those days when I am suddenly hungry and just can’t figure out what to eat. Since there were no empty jars left, the pressure canner was cleaned and back into storage it went. But Attila, upon finding out that the jars were all in service, picked up another dozen jars when he was out and about. So there will be more canned instant meals on the way soon.

Six jars of Taco Soup canned, ready for quick lunches.
On the plate are seeds from our Jack-O-Lantern, a pie pumpkin, drying for spring planting.
Pie Pumpkins are amazing, who knew!
I have always purchased field pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns, and then cooked, pureed, froze, and baked with them. They were perfectly acceptable. BUT why use a field pumpkin if you can have a Pie Pumpkin. This was the first Pie Pumpkin I had ever had, and wow, the cooked puree is sweet and not in the least bit watery. It is significantly superior to any commercially canned pumpkin pie filling I have ever purchased.

The cabbages were first harvested in September. Each stem that was left started to grow new little cabbages. Attila harvested them on the weekend, and now we have a 1 liter jar of sauerkraut fermenting in the basement. Hopefully this batch will be a success!

These small cabbages, on one stem, were harvested from our garden over the weekend. They sure don’t look like much, do they! These all grew from the “stump” left when the first crop was harvested, a second crop on the same plants.
Here is what the little cabbages looked like when the outer leaves had been removed. they look pretty good!
The cabbages have been cut into thin slices and are now ready to be made into sauerkraut. This cabbage is sweet and crunchy, so good. Not really what might be expected based on their appearance when harvested.

Worldly

-1°C
Date: 11:47 AM EST Thursday 7 November 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.3°C
Dew point: -3.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: NNW 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 16 km

Weather

Quote

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust
1871 – 1922

Sigrid Undset

Another day has disappeared, flowing painlessly and almost silently into the what-has-been. How I cherish this kind of day.

Deciding on what type of blanket to crochet has proven to be a time consuming, yet enjoyable process. At the end of the day, the choice has not yet been made.

The garden has yielded many pounds of scarlet runner beans, a veritable bumper crop. The plants are beautiful, the blooms brighten even the greyest, dullest day. The beans are a wee bit furry, and delicious. Attila has been blanching and freezing almost every weeknight, so that we will enjoy organic garden green beans with our warm winter meals. The tomatoes are not prolific, but have provided me with weeks of toasted tomato sandwich lunches. The tomatoes continue to produce modest numbers of fruit to keep the supply coming. The cabbage is small, Attila will use it in stir fries in the coming weeks. The celery is small as well, one plant in particular, but it will make a welcome addition to dishes all winter long, as we will chop, blanch, and freeze it. The squash has not ripened yet, but it looks to be a good crop of Hubbard and Butternut squash.

I recently gifted two genealogy reference books, which had been gifted to me. I left them under Iris the Trailer last weekend, well packaged in a box and a plastic bag, so that my fellow researcher could pick them up at her leisure. She willingly shares her research with others, and tries to help anyone with their research if she can, so that I feel the books well placed in her hands.

I don’t usually buy books these days, they are expensive, and they require storage space, if I fall in love with them and want to keep them near. Although I enjoyed the Ferrante books, I did not fall in love with them, they did not open inner doors and windows for me, perhaps because the author’s experiences are not entirely dissimilar to my own. I am thinking of donating the books to a library, having only been read by me they are in new condition.

I have been intrigued by the author Sigrid Undset (1882-1949), a Norwegian author who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. I had not heard of her before, and wonder why. She wrote two series of novels set against the background of medieval Norway in the 13th century: the 3-volume Kristin Lavransdatter, and the 4-volume Olav Audunssønn. I have just ordered the 3-volume Kristin Lavransdatter series, to arrive at the end of September. My winter reading will be ready, for cozy winter nights at Mist Cottage.

One night last week, deep into the night, while I was burning the midnight oil in the living room, unable to sleep, Attila heard a loud sliding noise, it woke him up. In the morning we discussed the sound, speculating on the source. It wasn’t until the next day that I opened my closet door, to find that my clothing was no longer hung neatly on the rod. The rod support had collapsed. Attila will fix this, in time. Attila and I will drive to the city tonight, to do some needed shopping, and will pick up the needed hardware. The very, very cheap wardrobes that we purchased on sale are not exactly robust. You really do get what you pay for!

Closet collapes DSCF1261 This what I found in my closet after Attila heard a loud “sliding” noise in the night.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Tuesday 19 September 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 19.1°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SSE 12 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.”
Eric Berne
1910 – 1970

[Rigid parameters have their uses, but it is a sad day when control the way we see the world around us.]

Weather

I am on a mental ramble here, which is how undisciplined I have become since leaving the academy. Sometimes I feel concerned about it, but most of the time I am having the time of my life, and I value the joy of living.

The last few weeks have been mild, and one might think spring arrived early. I know better, as we experienced this sort of interlude in 1994 when we moved into our house in the little city. That warm spell was shorter than this one, but no less memorable. Yesterday began with spitting rain falling from the overcast sky. By mid-afternoon the sun came out, and the temperature soared to 15C on our back porch. And where was I? I was out on the back porch, soaking up every ray of sunshine that came my way. I cuddled in my jacket, as the brisk wind was keen on robbing the warmth the sun provided. That is where Attila found when he returned from work, and where he joined me. I know this warm weather is not meant to last, but it is a lovely reprieve, and reminder that soon spring will arrive.

DSCF0438 This is the morning view out the living room window, to which I have become so attached. The colours don’t last very long, and I am always grateful when I happen to be looking out the window when they are at the height of intensity.

In mid-January I experienced a gastrointestinal upset that lasted for a month. It was puzzling, and worrisome. I had a few theories as to what it might be, some of them downright scary, and others not so much. The problem cleared up a week or so ago, to my great relief. But my system swung the other way to experience the opposite extreme, which has been equally uncomfortable. An experiment was in order. Yesterday I consumed a 70g portion of the ricotta cheese I like so well. Sure enough, during the night my gastrointestinal system swung right back to the original extreme condition. I am in a see-saw situation.

I had used this ricotta cheese in baking, and it did not affect me at all. I froze some of the ricotta cheese, thawed it and consumed it, and it did not affect me at all. I drink milk, and eat other cheeses, and they do not affect me at all. But eating this ricotta cheese fresh does affect me, distinctly and unmistakably. Going forward it can be my own fool-proof cure for constipation. My next experiment will be to try different brands of ricotta cheese to see if I can tolerate any of the alternatives.

My son-in-law Janus has expressed an interest in my 2007 iMac. It will only run operating systems up to and including El Capitan, and so has become a less flexible solution for us, which is important because we rely on computers and not cell phones. I spent yesterday cleaning up the hard drive, removing the last vestiges of my files, updating the software that I was leaving on the machine, and creating a login account for Janus to use, since he should not use the admin login account for day-to-day use. Attila brought the computer box in from the new shed, after he got home from work, and now the computer, the OSX install disk, the keyboard and the mouse are nicely packed and ready for pickup or delivery, whichever comes first. I will miss the old iMac, it is a beautiful machine. But we really need to keep current with our technology, and we do not have room for more than one computer in our little Mist Cottage.

DSCF0432 The Ontario grown garlic we bought at the farmer’s market last Sunday, it cost $2, which is quite expensive, but it was an outing so we indulged. Attila stir fried it with the $2 organic cabbage we bought from a different vendor at the market. I am really looking forward to having a garden this summer. We will be able to eat as much as we can grow!

Today I am baking my first loaf of Finnish Pulla, using the yogurt sourdough starter my friend Auntie Mame sent me. I learned a few little things with the first loaf of sourdough I baked last week, with the rye starter. It is important in my Bosch mixer to add the dry ingredients first, the starter will smear and fail to incorporate itself into the dough if added to the mixer bowl first. Adding the dry ingredients first really worked well, and the dough was very easy to work with when it came out of the bowl. The recipe I used was sent to me along with a sample loaf of Finnish Pulla by Auntie Mame, and I am looking forward to seeing how my first loaf will turn out.

DSCF0469 My very first loaf of Sourdough Finnish Pulla. I put 1/8 tsp of salt, as opposed to the 1 tsp called for in the recipe. I also used canola oil instead of butter, as cholesterol is an issue for me. I added no commercial yeast to this, the rise is completely due to the sourdough.

Attila does not like sourdough bread. I love sourdough bread. All for me is what I say! He likes the Finnish Pulla though, and I will have to share that. The loaf of bread I baked with the rye starter was very nice, it had a very good crumb, and was nice for sandwiches. But Attila doesn’t like it. Since I was the only one eating the loaf, it was in danger of spoiling, so the last half of it was used for croutons. The result was disappointing, the croutons were rock hard, and very hard to crack with out teeth, not really very pleasant on a green salad. But we will eat them, nothing goes to waste here, our mistakes are usually consumed. Thank goodness we don’t have many serious failures in the kitchen!

Lately I have been watching a channel on youtube, about a family who moved into a yurt with three small children and built a small house over the course of three years, which they moved into. I enjoyed the mountain dream home series Fouch-o-matic, which featured the whole family. They are very likeable people, and I enjoyed hearing about how they met their challenges and made progress.

The wife Esther did another series which featured just herself, and other homesteading wives, all around her own age. This series I found tedious, there was nothing new to me in anything that they were talking about, which is not really a problem. One positive aspect of it was that the information “taught” held no glaring areas of misinformation. I think my problem was more that they thought of themselves as teaching others, when in fact they were only just learning themselves. I would have enjoyed hearing about what they were learning, but could not get past their belief that they were in a position to teach, when all they were doing was sharing their learning experience. Trained as a teacher I know how carefully one needs to structure information and delivery in order to make it easily understood, and what a thorough knowledge one needs of the subject at hand to successfully teach others. We can learn from sharing, but the act of sharing is focused on the me, and not the same as teaching, which is student centric.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Friday 24 February 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.5°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: NE 22 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
Edward R. Murrow
1908 – 1965