Summer’s End

Last weekend was perfect, almost.

We decided to take Iris up to the Rideau Camp and stay for two nights. We knew it would be cold at night, so we took lots of blankets. I brought a parka, and a wool hat with me as well.

We arrived well before supper time, I lit a camp fire as soon as we got there. It was a bit tough going getting the camp fire to start, everything was wet as it had rained that day. Luckily I had some excellent kindling, a dead juniper branches, which although wet, were easily ignited by the flames from a few pieces of paper. Attila setup the kitchen tent, and levelled the trailer. After a late supper we settled into our chairs in front of the camp fire, as the day light faded and the stars began to make an appearance. There are no artificial lights in the bush at our camp, so that the heavenly lights were bright above us. Reluctantly we put out the fire and turned in for the night.

I wore flannel pyjamas, and a wool hat, to bed. It was cold! During the night I awoke feeling the cold in my shoulders. I rolled over onto my back to attempt to warm my shoulders, and when I did every bone in my body began to ache. It was most unpleasant. Eventually I dropped off to sleep once more, and arose in the morning without an ache or a pain. I decided, as I got out of bed on that cold morning, that I wasn’t going to change into cold clothing! So I donned my parka over my pyjamas, kept my wool hat snug and warm on my head, slipped my fluffy warm socks into a pair of clogs, and headed into the new day.

I arose well before Attila, and while he slept I managed to get the camp stove going so that he could greet the morning with a hot cup of coffee. The temperature rose as the sun came up over the horizon. I spread my clothes out on a chair in the sun, to warm them, and changed into the warm clothes incrementally, until I had fully donned my daily apparel by noon. This worked so well that Saturday morning, that I did exactly the same thing on Sunday morning.

Saturday was beautiful. The sun shone, there was a gentle breeze all day long, the temperature became warm enough to wear a t-shirt, and there were no bugs.

I spent the day burning the piles of dead branches from the trees that had been felled when we trimmed up the trees around the camp. The leaves were green when the branches were piled high, but had by this time turned brown and crispy. It was perfect weather for burning branches with leaves, everything was wet at the camp, from the recent rain, so that there was no chance that floating sparks from the leaves would ignite any of the debris in the bush around the camp. It took me all day, and I managed to break up and burn both large piles of tree branches with leaves. There were many, many, very, very large spiders in the piles of branches. Only once did I catch one crawling across my chest, it was about the circumference of a Canadian toonie, with thick hairy legs, and it moved like lightning. I flicked it off my chest onto the forest floor and didn’t see it again. As I lifted the last few branches from the ground a garter snake gazed up at me. It was about 18 inches long, and it was only interested in getting away. When the pile was gone a chipmunk kept coming back to the area to collect and move his stash.

The low area before the delivery of crushed stone. Note the bulldozed pile of trees and logs, left for us by the people we bought the property from, created in the process of putting in the driveway.
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The low area after the delivery of crushed stone. Attila reduced one of the piles of crushed stone by one third in two days. Spreading this stuff is going to be a lot of work!
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Attila spent the day moving crushed stone. He used a shovel, a rake, and a wheelbarrow to move the stone into the lowest area of the clearing. The crushed stone, because the stones are so large, is very difficult to move around, so it was tough going.

After a satisfying day of work, we enjoyed a hearty supper of udon noodles, with corn and peas, spiced up with olive oil and roasted pepper and garlic spice. Udon noodles are very filling. As dark descended we settled once more in front of the camp fire, watching the stars come out, listening to the breeze in the trees. The calm at a time such as this is enveloping. The stars were magnificent on Saturday night, it was difficult to take ourselves off to bed.

Saturday night was much colder than Friday night, the temperature fell below 5C. I wore long underwear under my pyjamas, my wool hat, my thick fluffy socks, and still I was cold through the night. I am very grateful that I could manage camping when the nights were so cold, at my age. Clearly this would be our last night sleeping in the trailer for this year!

The morning warmed quickly though, and before we knew it we were enjoying another lovely day. I spent the day tending the campfire and collecting dead wood from around the perimeter of the camp. Attila split his time between moving crushed stone, and building a lean-to for the extra straw meant for use with the humanure compost bin. The lean-to will keep the straw dry through the winter. Our humanure system is now complete, but we have yet to deposit our first contribution to the compost pile.

The humanure compost bin, with the completed lean-to to protect the hay from the elements. Note the metal “lid” leaning against the side of the compost bin, this will be placed on the top of the compost, to keep animals from digging in. I shudder to think!
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While we were washing up the dishes after lunch, we were helloed by a neighbour coming up the drive. She lives across the street from our property, and represents the local property owner’s association, with whom we share joint ownership in the waterfront property and the road allowances. There are annual fees for upkeep, we knew they would find us when they wanted our money! She stayed and chatted for a while, which was nice as we heard more of the history of the property. Apparently the bulldozed piles of trees and logs were the work of the couple we bought the property from, they intended to build a monster house and had the driveway put in, bulldozing everything in the way into a huge pile of debris. The driveway had been put in the summer of 2015, so it is relatively new.

It was such a lovely day on Sunday that we stayed longer than we had planned, and had to tear ourselves away in the end, so that we arrived home early enough for Attila to get a good night’s sleep before returning to work on Monday.

It was so beautiful at the Rideau Camp we hated to leave! The pile of leaves in the foreground are what was left of one of the piles of branches that I broke up and burned in the camp fire pit. We watch the burn bans quite carefully, checking each day to see if burning is allowed.
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This week has been cold and cloudy and wet, with some sunny interludes. I quite like this weather, as long as I am not camping. Last weekend was so very wonderful at the Rideau Camp, that I have been feeling a little sad that the camping season is over!

My Chili Sauce, and the pumpkin and squash I bought from the farm where I purchased the bushel of tomatoes.
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Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Friday 30 September 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 15.6°C
Dewpoint: 9.3°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: NE 18 km/h

Quote

“Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death.”
Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
1938-

This certainly is one aspect to aging, hardly noticable through the middle adult years, but glaring through childhood and maturity.

Canada Day Weekend

Our Canada Day long weekend was peaceful and rejuvenating. For us, a weekend spent in each other’s company, tucked away from the rest the of the world, watching the birds, the insects, the clouds floating in the sky, and the trees swaying in the breeze, is a perfect way to celebrate that we live in Canada.

On Friday evening Attila hooked Tank up with Iris the Trailer and we headed for the Rideau Camp. It is a lovely drive to the camp, we take back roads that are not heavily travelled, due to the low speed limit. Since we are in no particular hurry the low speed limits suit us just fine.

After we arrived Attila took some time to position the trailer, and it was odd that the battery light in Tank came on during this process, so Attila turned off the interior lights, so that as we were in and out of Tank over the weekend they would not turn on automatically each time the door opened.

We set up the trailer, and a kitchen canopy that we bought almost two decades ago for a camping trip when Terra was a teenager. We seldom get rid of things if they have a practical use. It took us a very long time to need the kitchen tent again. It is in pristine condition, set up very easily, and was placed over the picnic table. It smelled a bit mildewy when Attila set it up, but a day in the strong sun cured that, so that by the end of the weekend the smell had completely disappeared.

The Rideau Camp, all set up for the weekend. Attila’s strimmer does a wonderful job of keeping the weeds short, it almost looks like a lawn! Most of the greenery is white clover, which I planted in the early spring, just after we finished tearing out the hundreds of bramble plants. Attila and I still spend an hour or so on every visit, pulling out short bramble regrowth; eventually it will just give up and be gone, but not this year.
Rideau iris

On Friday afternoon the clouds rolled in, big black clouds, and thunder could be heard in the distance. Eventually the thunder passed us to the north, but the rain poured down. Luckily the kitchen tent protected our kitchen gear, and us, for the duration of the downpour, which didn’t last long. The sun came out again, only to be followed a few ours later by another big black cloud, which poured rain down on us a second time. It still wasn’t enough rain though, to refresh the dry forest. The rest of the weekend was sunny and warm.

On Saturday morning Attila and I went for a walk down to our shared waterfront. It was a disappointing experience. The water level was low, and the wind had washed quite a bit of organic material onto the shoreline, which was rotting and emitted a mildly unpleasant odour. The lake bottom was shallow and there were lots of plants growing, obscuring the sandy bottom. Although this isn’t wonderful for human recreation, it is wonderful for fish, and fish breeding. The dock had been repaired, and a new section added, which provided a nice place to sit at the waterfront. At some point we will take our chairs down to the lake to sit and watch the passing big boats that are travelling the Rideau Canal system. Whoever repaired the dock threw around four or five large plastic barrels, which littered the water and the shore. Obviously no one in particular is caring for this piece of real estate.

As we were walking back towards our camp from the waterfront, a couple with a medium sized black dog were out walking towards the waterfront.

As they approached us on the road the woman called out, “Don’t worry about the dog, he is friendly!”

Immediately the man called out, “Don’t worry I’ve got him on a leash.”

So we didn’t worry. As we drew nearer the dog began to growl, then began to lung and loudly bark at us. The man had tight control of the leash, and the dog was kept under control. In what universe would a dog like that be defined as friendly!

Attila and I chatted about the proliferation of dogs in the area, there seem to be a lot of barking, unfriendly dogs. Attila thinks it is because there are so many monster houses and expensive cottages near us, people keep guard dogs. There are some exceptions though. We have met the neighbours on either side of our property, and their dogs are friendly, very friendly.

However, dogs that are in a pack are extremely dangerous, even the gentlest, most loving pets, as they will revert to predator pack behaviour immediately. I learned this when I was teaching at an outdoor centre and one of our students was attacked by a pack of pet dogs, who came close to killing her, had she not escaped serious injury by climbing a tree. The dogs were all beloved pets, running loose and free in “God’s Country”, as the city people called it. I love dogs, but at the same time I respect who they are.

Our Rideau Camp is surrounded by monster houses (country estates) and waterfront cottages. The people we purchased it from intended to build a large country estate on the property. The couple in the expensive SUV that drove in one weekend to inquire about buying the property intended to build a country estate. The people who had an accepted offer on the property just before we bought it, had lost the deal because they couldn’t get financing to build a large country estate. Other former owners included: a fellow who flew in by float plane from the USA to stay in a “tin shack” on the land during his stay, we have found no evidence of a tin shack; owners who intended to build a cedar stack wall home; owners who installed a well; and owners who built the driveway. We suspect that the property was originally settled as part of a farm, and used as a pasture.

We know about the cedar stack wall home because the cedar logs were stacked on skids, then bulldozed into a huge pile on the property, probably when the driveway was put in. According to one long time resident in the area, nearby neighbours have been helping themselves to the logs for years and years, to use as firewood. We are finding logs embedded in piles of roots and earth, shoved aside when the driveway was built, or so we think. The logs are old, some rotted quite away. Yet when Attila removed some from the huge pile, and split them, we found that beneath a one inch layer of weathered wood lies sound, fresh looking cedar. What a terrible waste!

A front end loader pushed over dozens of smaller trees, and stacked them on the top of the huge pile of cedar logs. Attila spent our long weekend pulling down the dead trees, sectioning them, and piling them near the fire pit. I spent the long weekend burning the wood that Attila piled for me.

Before: The cedar log pile with the dead trees piled high on top. There is a sea of brambles in front of it, which is now white clover.
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After: The cedar log pile with the dead trees removed and burned. The pile is still taller than Attila, but not quite as intimidating as it was.
Rideau cedar log pile july

I have decided to see if I can figure out any practical used for the sound cedar logs, it seems such a shame to burn them. But it is unlikely I will discover any good use for them, and it is most likely that I will spend the rest of the summer burning them.

We were able to spend a fair amount of time just sitting in the shade, watching the clouds roll by, and the trees swaying in the wind. We observed a Hawk, a Blue Heron, a Scarlet Tanager, an unidentified tiny bird that flew like a small rocket across the clearing, several Crows, a Robin, and a Blue Jay. We heard Pileated Woodpeckers in the forest, and a Loon on the lake. I thought perhaps it was a bird that sounded like a Loon that we heard, but I have been unable to discover any birds that sound like Loons.

On our walk we observed many wild plants. Wild Daisies, Chicory, Red Clover, Mullein, Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Vetch, various grasses, and many plants that I cannot identify.

Comfrey growing by the side of the road, it has many medicinal uses.
Rideau Comfrey
We were amazed at the masses of wild daisies growing along the sides of the road, so very pretty.
Rideau daisy
I am suspicious that the plants with three leaves in the right of the photo are Poison Oak. I haven’t seen Poison Oak before, so I am not sure, but better safe than sorry.
Rideau poison oak

We had a wonderful weekend that was over all too soon. On Sunday morning, after a pancake and pineapple breakfast, we began to pack our gear to return home. Just after lunch Attila hooked Tank to Iris and off we went.

The weather was lovely, sunny with cotton candy clouds floating across the sky. The drive home might have been more enjoyable though, had it not been for the battery warning light, and the falling battery gauge. At first the gauge maintained its position, but when were about 40 km from home it began to fall. By the time we were entering our home town it had fallen drastically and all the warning lights on the dashboard had lit up. It was a tense drive through downtown, and finally, just as we turned off the main road into our neighbourhood, the engine began to falter. We chugged along the road, ever more slowly, until finally we turned the corner of our own street, at which point the engine died completely. We coasted down the street, coming to a stop just in front of our house.

As Tank came to standstill, Attila and I looked at each other and broke into riotous laughter. What are the odds of Tank making it all the way home and dying at just the right point so that we could coast to our own front door!

It was one lucky weekend!

This morning I called the garage, and Tank is in there now for repair. We think it is the alternator, but won’t know for sure until we hear from the mechanic. They kindly drove me home for the day, and we will pick up Tank tomorrow, when Attila after gets home from work.

So today started out busy, then it played out very quietly. They drove me home, it isn’t far. I have busied myself with laundry, sorting through the camping gear, paying bills and figuring out where to get the money to pay for Tank’s repair bill. It is all working out, with a little effort.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

27°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 4 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 21.3°C
Dewpoint: 17.4°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 29

Quote

“Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882

Aging seems significantly different to me now than it did before I was middle aged. Until that first pinch of agism entered my universe, I thought very little about aging, and perceived it as feeling similar to youth, and just appearing outwardly more worn. In reality, looking different is the least of possible disadvantages of getting older. Since middle age I have known being older is not at all like being young, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Age added much more than it took away. It made me invisible, but only to the superficial and the shallow. It took some of my health, but gave me respect for my body as the vessel of my journey. It took away loved ones, which taught me to value every minute spent with those who remain. I like being old, and I hope to do it for a very long time.

I Love The Month of May

There are a lot of reasons I love the month of May.

One is that my Mom’s birthday falls in the the month of May, and I love my Mom. Another is that Mother’s Day falls in the month of May, and I love my Mom.

Spring weather is another reason I love the month of May. The nights are cool, so even if it gets stinking hot during the day, the temperature at night is pleasant for sleeping.

The month of May looks and smells wonderful. There are flowers in bloom; Wild Violets, Lungwort, Dandelions, Trout Lilies, Lilacs, Trilliums, Blood Root, and my absolute favourite, tree blossoms, apple and cherry and peach.

Having the windows open for the first time since the previous fall is another thing I love about the month of May.

I love asparagus and rhubarb, both ready for harvest in the month of May.

I love camping, an activity that can begin during the month of May.

Yesterday I spent the day trying to organize Iris for the next camping excursion. I purchased cheap plastic containers to contain our belongings when Iris is in motion. On our first trip there was a lot of shifting going on, nothing damaged, but not desirable just the same. To further the organizing project, Attila and I visited Canadian tire where we found two smallish totes to use for setting up our kitchen on weekends; one will contain food and the other dishes and pots and pans. Iris sits quite a distance from the fire pit and the picnic table, so that transporting needed objects one by one is not practical. I also purchased a D size battery to operate a Caframo portable fan. I suffer in the heat, really suffer, and a fan makes a big difference to my comfort during a hot night.

This morning I rushed first thing to Canadian Tire, yet again. The sale that starts today featured a decent quality air mattress. I decided that because campers complain about air mattresses being cold to sleep on, they might be great for sleeping on hot nights. Holy cow, if this works while sleeping in Iris, it might work at home in my very own bed too, wouldn’t that be cool. The memory foam is hot to sleep on, it can be used in late September and October when the nights are cold, but not during the summer. I couldn’t resist picking up a pie iron, since all of our camping meals are cooked over the open fire, this should add some variety to our diet, now to find healthy recipes that include vegetables! I managed to pay for most of the cost of the air mattress and the pie iron with my credit card points, which was very satisfying.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Wednesday 25 May 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 13.4°C
Dewpoint: 9.9°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: S 21 km/hr
Today
Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon with 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this morning. High 26 except 21 near Lake Ontario. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight
Partly cloudy. Low 14.

21°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Thursday 26 May 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 20.6°C
Dewpoint: 13.2°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: SE 18 km/h
Humidex: 24
Today
A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. High 24 except 19 near Lake Ontario. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight
Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers and risk of a thunderstorm. Low 16.

Quote

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
H. L. Mencken
1880 – 1956

I’d like to believe that this is not true of many people, but I fear that it is. However, I don’t agree that this definition is universal. I feel that a conscience is that inner voice that represents our capacity for compassion, tolerance, and kindness… and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept that somebody may be looking. I also feel that my definition of a conscience is active and admirable in the people I respect and love. Mr. Mencken does not speak for me.

New Day

I awoke thinking about Attila, and how his night in Tank went. He called shortly after I arose, and was as cheerful as ever. He said that he was warm enough, tried various configurations in positioning, finally settling on curling up on the back seat, and feels that it was a good night’s sleep, but that there are a few kinks to work out still. My relief was instant, hearing his voice, hearing about his night, what he would have for breakfast. All is well with my camping husband in the North.

There are so many things to do here at Mist Cottage, that it is hard to stay focused on just one! It is best to sit and think before beginning the day.

This morning, I sat in my easy chair, listening to classical piano music on my computer, watching the screen display my collection of art images, and I was struck with awe. Life is such a gift, the good, the bad, the boring, the exciting… all of it, except perhaps chronic pain, is a gift.

And love, what a gift that is. It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always happy, but it is the silver line that I have followed all my life.

It began for me with my Mother, who is fully human, a glorious person who gave much more than she ever got. She brought me into this world, she was my first home, she was my first love, we shared a body during my most vulnerable time, and when it was time, she gave me up to the world, and established my life in it. And through difficult circumstances she always did her very best to see me, and my siblings, right. It took me many years to come to terms with the circumstances of my youth, but through those years my love, admiration, and appreciation for my Mother never wavered. You are as beautiful to me now Mom, as you were when I first gazed up from your arms, into your beautiful face.

What my mother began became the theme of my entire life. I have loved such wonderful people. I adored my Grandparents, their lives, and their home, were the eye of the storm of my childhood. I love my brothers and sisters with a love and bond so deep that it is beyond words. We shared so much, saw each other at our worst, at our best, and we survived, each in our own way. I love my children as I love myself, find joy in their triumphs, pain in their suffering, and find myself staring at them in wonder, marvelling at their beauty in my eyes. I love my grandchildren with such joyful abandon, such joy as I did not know existed before I met them. I love my friends, the stars in my heaven, no two alike, all uniquely and marvellously their very own selves. They are life forces that run close to my sliver line. My first deep romantic love, for a singer/songwriter, came to me as a window opens on a sunny day, bringing warm breezes, bright colours, heavenly scents, and a view of the world that shone bright, and still does; he was my starting place, reflecting back to me parts of myself that had remained hidden until I met him. He passed away in 1996. And now, the heavens have granted me Attila. From the start, when we were “friends”, I knew that I wanted him in my life, and could not imagine a universe without him in it. We recognized one another, in the midst of the chaos that is the world, that was our lives.

When Reenie wrote in her very last blog entry “Love”, it touched my very soul. Reenie knew about the silver line, she lived unwaveringly along her own silver line.

Tipping my coffee mug, and saying to those who are following their own silver lines, “to love”!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Attila’s “Camp” in the North
6°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Monday 14 September 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 5.5°C
Dewpoint: 5.5°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: calm

Mist Cottage
13°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Monday 14 September 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 13.2°C
Dewpoint: 11.6°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: WNW 21 gust 32 km/h

Quote

“Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970

[I feel it is important to love as boldly and broadly as possible. We need to weave our star blankets strong, make them warm, wrap as many people into them as possible. Maggie]