Zucchini Surprise

Attila continues to chip away at the garage project.  Last weekend he finished closing in and trimming the back exterior, and the interior back wall.  He continues to move building materials into the garage from the basement.  The push is over, now slowly but surely the garage project is progressing.

Do plants smile?  I think they might, you can see them if you watch carefully enough. We had a thunderstorm and heavy rain yesterday afternoon, the garden was glad.  The few remaining Scarlet Runner Bean plants are beginning to produce beans, we have had two meals with fresh beans.  The tomato plants are prolific.  Attila planted, at my request, mostly small tomatoes, Amish, and two varieties that are of unknown varieties.  There is one round tomato plant, Pink Girl.  The fruit is not particularly sweet, but is very tasty, and perfect for toasted tomato sandwiches.  The hot peppers are yielding quite a crop, those are for Attila, I don’t eat them.  The Pole Squash, a heritage variety we ordered online, are barely surviving, one actually died, and I anticipate no fruit from those plants.  The Blue Hubbard Squash is beginning to take over the yard, and wants to trespass on the neighbour’s yard, requiring constant diligence to set the runners back on our property.  The Zucchini, well, there is a beautiful large fruit on it, and, well, it isn’t a Zucchini, it is a pumpkin!   How did that happen, no idea, I must have mislabeled some seeds.

Today is a perfect day.  Sunny, warm but not hot, not terribly humid.  Just lovely!

I am preparing a new dish in the Instant Pot for dinner, making it up as I go along.  Ground beef (and rosemary, always rosemary with beef or red meat), cabbage, and tomato are the base of it, I’ll be adding water, rice, and a few herbs, we will see how it goes.  A sort of cabbage roll casserole.  I am writing it down as I go along, so if we like it, I can replicate it.

There are companies with a solid, reliable right hand that takes your money, who have a thousand left hands that know next to nothing about each other, or how to provide customer service.  These past few weeks I’ve been on the telephone battling it out with perfectly nice but systemically hobbled customer service people.  Every time I think I have it sorted, another unexplained charge shows up, and after much ado, I receive an apology, and the charge is removed.  No wonder people end up with ridiculously high bills, you have to watch these companies like a hawk, and be prepared to spend a LOT of time getting errors straightened out!  Cell phone service providers = misery!

Attila just arrived home for the weekend.  The weather is as perfect as one could wish for on a summer’s day.  Dinner, courtesy of the Instant Pot, is just a “press the start button” away.  All is well, in the here and now, and it does not get any better than that.

Worldly

Weather

25°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Friday 10 August 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 25.0°C
Dew point: 11.3°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: NNE 12 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
Henri Matisse
1869 – 1954

August Begins

Well, here it is, August!

August came in with a big thunderstorm and downpour this afternoon.  It was most welcome, and I could almost hear the sighs of relief from the flora and fauna.  The rain started just as Attila arrived home from work, finding me in the garage listening to the rain on the new metal roof, enjoying the dryness of it all.

July was a month where the humidex reached from 30C to 35C almost every day. It looks like August will be more of the same. It isn’t my favourite kind of weather. The humidity is so cloying.

Tonight’s dinner was a quick and easy Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole.  This recipe has grated cheese stirred in after cooking, it was very nice.  Attila loved it.  There isn’t much I love since I am eating such a low sodium diet, nice is as good as it gets.

When I was shopping earlier in the week, I bought a bag of beautiful looking grapefruit.  We have been eating them in the evenings as a snack.  I love grapefruit, and for years I could not have it because it was contraindicated by my medication.  The medication changed and now I can eat grapefruit again.  A small, but welcome, mercy.

Attila’s cell phone is pay as you go, and needed to be topped up.  Since he uses his cell phone a lot more than I use mine, mostly to call me here at home, his minutes disappear a lot more quickly.  Therefore the cheapest 100 minute prepaid plan seemed a viable solution, with a monthly fee which annually adds up to about the same price as the current pay per use.

I felt sorry for the people I dealt with today, sorting out the cell phone account. I asked a few simple questions, but because the call center people are not from Canada, the nuances of our culture are not familiar to them.  The simple questions ended up taking almost three hours to work through, and the unfortunate last fellow I spoke with, I spoke to three different people, was downright discouraged by the end of the call.  He was polite to the end though. We got the job done, in the end, the cell phone works and in a few months I will go back into the account and set up automatic updates.

Cell phones are getting increasingly expensive to operate, the options are narrowing, masked as improvements, which they aren’t.  My cell phone service provider recently sent me a text message informing me that my pay per use plan was no longer available, and that I would be automatically transferred to a much more expensive plan.  I spent an entire morning on the telephone with them as well, and I can’t say they enjoyed my company.  We got the job done.

Where we once spent $200 annually on cell phones, we now spend $300 to $400 annually.  At our income level this is a significant incursion on available funds.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

26°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Wednesday 1 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 25.8°C
Dew point: 22.1°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: SW 16 km/h
Humidex: 35
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
Henry Van Dyke
1852 – 1933

Waitin’ for the Window

Technology is changing so quickly now that there is no keeping up with it. Purchasing anything technological is like stepping onto a moving escalator, you are only staying in the same place and up to date with your item for a nanosecond, then it is uncool, and within months, sometimes days, it is obsolete. So, I use my old technology as long as it will hang in and do the job. My computers are an example of this.

I have an old G4, still going strong, but I never turn it on. It doesn’t do wireless, or play video DVDs, or run the necessary browsers to interact with most web sites. But it still works just the way it was meant to the year I bought it.

Then there is the iMac. Much newer, the iMac was the machine that helped me live through a horrendous end-of-the-endless-winter March, when I sat by my window for days and days, watching for the delivery van; there was no other traffic on the street, I could have heard it coming, but I watched all day long, and that sense of anticipation kept me from falling into the depths of cabin fever. The iMac is old enough that it will no longer be adequate for the requirements of operating system updates. It, like the G4, will move out of sight on the endless escalator of progress. So far it is used daily as our entertainment system. When that function becomes untenable, it too will cease to be used on a regular basis, and will sit in its perfection in a corner.

Now I use a 2012 MacBook Air as my daily computer. It is already aging, the battery no longer holds a charge for very long, but the operating system updates should be viable for a few more years. We tried to use the MacBook Air to run our short Tai Chi video when we were at the Rideau Camp last weekend, it only lasted 10 minutes on the first day, then it ran out of juice. I imagine I will be using the MacBook Air until it too is conveyed out of site on the moving stairway to heaven.

Attila and I have come to postpone purchases of technology until we have no choice because the old equipment simply will not function as needed. We wait for the window of opportunity that will give us a product that will move as far into the future as is possible. Atilla is using our first cell phone, pay as you go, a flip phone with a broken hinge and a dodgy battery, that we purchased the summer of 2006, 10 years ago. It can still function as an emergency contact device. Attila does not like to be called during his work day, when he goes to work we have no contact with each other at all until he arrives home. Having a cell phone for texting would be a complete waste of time for him. He has no need of a smart phone. I am keeping my eyes open for a heavy duty cell phone on sale, one that works well without data and bells and whistles. Perhaps this item does not exist. If I wait long enough something like it might come to exist at any time. I am waitin’ for the window of opportunity to open.

Tuesday morning was filled with errands. Attila had his prescription transferred from a pharmacy near the country house to a pharmacy near Mist Cottage, the same pharmacy where I get my prescriptions filled. They hire local people, the owners live in town, and the employees act as if they own the business and want it to do well. I called them this morning and the prescription was ready for pickup. When I got home I noticed they were using our country home address, so I gave them a call and gave them our current address, so I think we are now up to date.

I also made a telephone call to Toronto, and was very pleased to be informed that the conviction for parking offence ticket that I received in the mail is in the process of being cancelled. Thank goodness I can finally stop fretting about getting that thing cancelled, it took many telephone calls, and an email request, to get the cancellation started. I was told a letter would be sent to me in the mail, confirming the cancellation.

Also on my list was a trip to the bank. When Attila and I bought paint for the new garden shed, we sent in the forms to receive a rebate. The cheque arrived and needed to be deposited in our account. Luckily the bank is a short walk from the pharmacy, so I could park once and walk to the places I needed to go.

My next stop was the library. I returned two books that I had read, renewed a third book which I hadn’t had a chance to read, and selected two additional books. I was looking for a book by a particular author, Patrick Rothfuss, but the library did not have any of his books on the shelf. I will have to try the Ontario Library Service and see if I can find one of his books there. His work sounded interesting in a short article that I read, and I wanted to see if his books lived up to the hype.

The weather would have been lovely this week had it not been for the humidity. It is supposed to be very warm all week, with possible thunderstorms. The garden needs the rain, so a rainy day will be welcome. We have eaten fresh green beans from the garden for the last three nights, the same plants that we planted in the spring are flowering and bearing again after the long summer heat and drought. The Scarlet Runner beans are thriving, with plentiful blooms and lush foliage; Attila tells me there are quite a few beans which will soon be ready for harvesting. We have only had two tomatoes from our plants, a disappointing harvest to say the least. So far we have had no peppers from the plants that we put in in the spring. We harvested a dozen or so heads of garlic earlier in the summer. The garden wasn’t all that we had hoped this year, the drought took its toll. I hope to have a rain harvesting system in place by next summer, just in case another drought occurs.

My high blood pressure has not responded well to the doubling of my current medication. Three readings by doctors confirmed that my hypertension was no longer being controlled by the low doses of medication I was taking. It was hoped that doubling the medication would bring it down; it has not, the four readings I have taken were all unacceptably high. I have a machine at home that measures my blood pressure, and it is accurate when compared to the measurements taken at the doctor’s office. I have a follow up appointment next week with the drop-in clinic doctor, so I am hoping he can come up with a plan to bring my blood pressure down to acceptable levels. This is a sudden development, my skyrocketing blood pressure, it was normal when taken at the Emergency department in March of this year. I honestly feel the change is due to the overload of stressful events that played out this summer, culminating with the sudden passing of my brother. I will keep at this until I get my blood pressure back within the normal range.

Luckily our little house is very comfortable. This summer has been very hot and humid, only one day was comfortable enough to turn off the heat pump and open the windows. It isn’t as restrictive as winter, there is no snow to contend with, no winter coats, no boots. But it has been a summer where outdoor activity has been downright unhealthy for those of us who can’t tolerate extreme heat. Today I stepped out onto the back porch to fetch a water basin, and the air felt like warm soup, hard to breath and watery. I look forward to autumn.

At this point in time my writing rambles along like a bee visiting blooms in a garden!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 8 September 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 23.2°C
Dewpoint: 22.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S 13 km/h
Humidex: 33

Quote

“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”
Thomas Jefferson
1743 – 1826

I wonder what he would think of the super-sized information highways of today!

Yesterday’s News

I wrote this entry yesterday, but did not upload it. Today, while chopping vegetables and peeling tomatoes for spaghetti sauce, I am managing to get it out of the nest.

Sports were always a personal best kind of experience for me, the competition aspect was not my focus. I did enjoy winning, but I would have pushed my limits and built my skill levels for the sheer joy of it, even if I lost every competition.

I recently wrote this as a comment on one of Bex’s entries about the Red Sox.

“I loved to play sports as a kid, track and field as an individual competitor and team sports. I have never enjoyed watching sports being played, not even one tiny bit, nada, nothing! It bores me to distraction. I never thought much about it until a very dear friend of mine, who was an avid hockey fan, was watching a game on television. How he enjoyed it! He genuinely enjoyed it, and it dawned on me that I could not see what he saw in the game. I am sports blind!!!!!!”

I truly don’t know what I am missing; and never will!

The drive to and from work has been magnificent! Some of the trees are beginning to change colour, and between bursts of rain, mist drifting down from the hills, and brilliant sunshine, the visual experience has been worth the trip. These distant shifts are worth taking, just so that I can enjoy the drive there and back!

Portulaca, last blooms before tonight’s killing frost.
Dscf3580 portulaca

This morning I came across this link, and decided to post it here. I re-tweeted it and added my small voice as a supporter, because recyclable electronics would make a very big difference to the whole planet. If we don’t create garbage, we do not have to dispose of it. The idea is that phones have interchangeable parts for upgrading, so that they are customizable and easy to upgrade, very little is discarded in an upgrade. This is being pitched to the big corporations, the makers of cell phones, the only ones who can change manufacturing at this scale. It is called Phonebloks.

I don’t usually sign up to support activist type links, but this one has some potential for making a difference, I hope. It interests me because we are using a cell phone purchased over seven years ago, and it works fine, and we don’t need to upgrade or replace it. But we are truly unusual. Eventually the technology of the seven year old cell phone will be so outdated that it will not function. That has not happened yet, but when it does we will have to consider purchasing a new one. And I hope that something like Phonebloks are being used by that time. It would be great to be able to purchase a basic model cheaply and let the people who want the bells and whistles, and can afford to pay for them, pay for them on their models!

Mist and I are back to the quiet days of solitude that constitute our life at the country house. Attila leaves early in the morning and returns eleven hours later, a few hours before it is time to retire for the night. Occasionally a vehicle drives by, or vacationers walk by on their hikes, there is always human activity around and about. But the wildlife is more numerous than humans, bluejays and rabbits, foxes and squirrels, wild turkeys and owls, and coyotes howling in the distance. This solitude is wonderful in short stretches.

I have noticed over the last few days of work, that a lot of people in this area, where the main industry is tourism and seasonal residences, freqquently want to tell me how successful and important they are. It is always pleasant and friendly, and I always share a bit of my own history with them as we interact. But I am wondering if the kind of superficial pleasantry, that is based on career achievements, is really all that healthy for any of us. Surely we are more than our achievements. Surely we have something in common that is of interest; or perhaps we do not. I have yet to discover an alternative way to relate to the people who identify so intensely with their personal success. I do try talking about the weather.

I read today about a 95 year old man, in a nursing home in Chicago, USA, who was jolted with a taser, then shot at close range with dollar sized bean bags, in the abdomen, by police. The bean bag injuries killed him. The police claimed he had a knife, an investigation is to follow. Near here a young man, alone in a streetcar in Toronto, Canada, was recently gunned down, shot nine times by a police officer standing well away from the streetcar, on the street.

Mr. Falconer, who has represented the families of victims in similar incidents, said the case invites much deeper reflection on police training.

“From day one, it’s drilled into [police officers’] minds that the existence of a knife and the failure to follow an order gives them grounds to end another person’s life,” he said. “This is not new. This is just the latest death and it was caught on video.”
Source: National Post

The young man was wielding a knife, but he could not reach anyone at all. Why not shoot his arm to disarm him, with one shot, if he was that dangerous? Well, it could be because the officer “had grounds” to kill, and that is what he wanted to do, so he did. The video that circulated on the web is very clear, and one wonders about the officer’s judgement, well, the lack of judgement. The police are getting a lot of bad press, and deservedly so.

And on a human level, legal arguments aside, how do you live with yourself after shooting a kid dead using nine bullets, from a safe distance, with a lot of backup right beside you? Really, there was no other way to disarm a lone and distant knife wielding teenager? As a member of the public, how do I trust an organization that thinks this kind of killing is reasonable?

I am no stranger to violence, and have relied on the police on several occasions to secure my safety. The males involved in these incidences were violent, resistant to reason, but carried no visible weapons and followed orders from the police. In every instance, the police officer used verbal communication to diffuse the tension, and proceeded from there with no physical force needed. So, I find it hard to characterize the majority of officers as using their powers and weapons in an unreasonable way. My experience was exactly the opposite. I was grateful to the officers involved, truly grateful for their mature and cool headed actions. They did not behave like thugs or a “group of drunk bouncers with guns and tasers” (Bobby Wiseman).

Let us hope that the police forces in North America expunge officers who demonstrate what is, in my opinion, a dangerous lack of judgement, who fail to “serve and protect” all of us, even those lone individuals with knives, and not enough common sense to follow orders from the police. Police forces owe it to the public, to themselves, and to the officers who do a good job, each and every day, to diligently monitor their own.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0°C
7:00 AM EDT Monday 23 September 2013
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 0.4°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: NNW 5 km/h

Quote

“O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon ‘t,
A brother’s murder.”
William Shakespeare
1564 – 1616
“Hamlet”, Act 3 scene 3