Wheat Berries

Attila ventured out on Monday after work to find a Christmas Tree. He likes a real tree, and so do I. There weren’t many available by the time Attila started looking, but he eventually found one, for $40. It is our Christmas indulgence, well one of them, food is the other. I am lucky in that he will do all the decorating, and enjoys doing it. I just have to be careful not to supervise, although the temptation is great at times! I have to content myself with sitting in my easy chair and playing the part of the great admirer… I’ve got this!

I milled flour earlier this week, and used the last of the bag of wheat berries. That bag lasted for four months, as we purchased it early in August. It provided us with all of our wheat related products, which are primarily breads and muffins. We have two more bags in the freezer, which should last until early August, at which time another journey to the supplier will be in order.

Whole wheat flour will go rancid. We used to purchase large bags of it, when I was working, and we lived in the country. But the intermittent and unpredictable hours that I worked interfered with bread baking, and as a result I did not use all of the flour in time, we lost some of it. So I knew I needed to come up with a better supply flow model. Wheat berries will remain viable far longer than ground flour, so I turned my attention to wheat berries, and a grain mill. Freezing the wheat berries further extends their freshness, so that I can keep a year’s supply without losing quality in my whole wheat flour. Domestic grain mills are readily available on the internet.

Now that I mill my own flour, I use it for everything, bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, squares, if it calls for flour, I use whole wheat. This can be challenging at times, but I am learning how to tweak recipes for optimal results. I enjoy doing this, it is a hobby with benefits. If I didn’t enjoy it, it would be a tedious and frustrating job!

Finding the wheat berries was the challenge. There are no locally grown grain products to be had. There are a few farmers selling wheat berries locally, but they are not interested in selling to individuals, as they focus on sales to specialty bakeries and small artisan food processors. They fail to respond to my inquiries. I think it is a matter of “if you have to ask the price you cannot afford it”, so why waste time talking to me. I am keeping an eye on organic producers in Western Canada, and ways to ship their product here at a reasonable cost. So far, so bad, I haven’t found a feasible way to do it. But I haven’t given up, in my imagination there is someone returning to Ontario with an empty truck!

Worldly

Weather

-7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 11 December 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -7.0°C
Dew point: -9.7°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: ESE 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -12
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
John Wooden
1910 – 2010

The invisible thread that keeps our species viable on planet earth, despite our weaknesses.

Back To The Keyboard

Writing has become a bit of a muddle. I am keeping a daily journal offline, where I indulge my every thought and feeling, expressing everything freely. The offline writing is the raw material from which I will caste the bricks and mortar of my new construction of reality. Change is happening. I am hoping for a slow, solidly crafted change. Returning to writing here in this online is something I want to do, and I think I need to do for my own sake.

So here I am, one week after the terrible, terrible mistake. I am sitting in my easy chair, Attila sits across from me on the sofa, creating a Christmas music youtube playlist on his iPad. The Christmas tree is brightly lit and smelling wonderful beside me on my left. The iMac is playing a google music playlist of 60s Christmas music. I have begun to crochet my second afghan/blanket, to be the same size, yarn, and stitch as the one I just finished. The atmosphere is relaxed this evening.

The weekend has consisted of these relaxed interludes, punctuated by short, direct, and intense interchanges dealing with the issues surrounding the terrible, terrible mistake. There are no raised voices, there is no shouting, no hostility. There is a lot of intense emotion on both sides, I would be very concerned if there were not.

And so we are carrying on, and will do for as long as it takes.

Last night we went to see a Santa Clause parade. It was fun to see the kids getting so excited about the floats, and about the candy that the “Elves” were handing out from each float. It lasted less than an hour. It was good to be out of doors, as the weather was perfect for it, dry, no snow or ice, and not too terribly cold.

Earlier this afternoon there came a knock on the door. When we answered the door, there was the whole family from across the street, father, mother and two children, delivering two lovely cupcakes on a plate for us, with a Christmas card. What a wonderful thing to do with your children!

Christmas Cupcakes These treats were delivered to our door today, along with smiles and wishes for a Merry Christmas. The Christmas season has started here at Mist Cottage.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Sunday 3 December 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 1.3°C
Dew point: 0.4°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: ENE 5 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

“She had an unequalled gift… of squeezing big mistakes into small opportunities.”
Henry James
1843 – 1916

Something to aim for…

Cold Outside

December 15, 2016

Listening to a piano version of “O Come All Ye Faithful”, I was suddenly transported to my Grade 5 classroom, sitting up straight on the hard wooden seat of my desk, arms extended, hands clasped together and resting peacefully beside a closed scribbler and a sharpened pencil, where the teacher played Christmas carols on the piano, and we sang along. Singing along to the piano, with voices raised in unison all around, was one of those rare occasions during childhood, in which the wonder of good will wrapped us all in a warm blanket of inclusion and belonging. I seldom feel that kind of wonder in my life these days, but oh the memory is sweet.

Storms continue to rage around our country house, which is no longer ours, nor are the storms. My gratitude for Mist Cottage is amplified by the severity of the distant storm. It is cold here, the wind is strong and bitter, and yet we are still able to travel to a store, or the the hospital if we needed care. I think only someone who has been oppressed by the limitations of extreme winter weather can regard a -22C (-7.6F) wind chill as relatively tropical, the wind chill is predicted to reach -27C (-16.6F) tonight. We are to receive more snow through Friday and Saturday, but it doesn’t sound as if it will be anything near as extreme as it is in Parry Sound / Muskoka.

Terra dropped by today with Sunny and Sky, to pick up the vintage Mac Software that will be donated to a collector. She will carry those boxes to Luna’s house, and the collector will pick them up there. Two boxes gone, and a little visit with Sunny and Sky, a lovely afternoon! Sky slept through the visit, but Sunny was wide awake and having a great time looking at the all the colours on the Christmas tree and the decorations hanging in the front windows. Sunny and Sky are very appealing little people!

Our evening is winding down. Attila is preparing a green salad, after which we will enjoy Tuna Melts, a new dish to us. We have divided the tuna into two bowls, as Attila will use far more of the salty mayonnaise than I am allowed, and also add other condiments to his portion. My serving of cheese to top the open faced sandwich will be carefully weighed on my new kitchen scale (an early Christmas gift from Attila), so that I can ensure that my portion of cheese does not take me over my daily limit for sodium, or cholesterol. We don’t have many meals figured out that are suitably low in sodium: roast chicken with rice and vegetables; macaroni and cheese with vegetables; and coconut lime baked fish with rice and vegetables. If the Tuna Melts work out, it will be a fourth reliable dish we can prepare for our dinners.

My blood pressure is still borderline high, sometimes even higher, and sometimes lower. I am not sure the low sodium, low sugar, low cholesterol diet makes any difference at all. I continue to take the apple cider vinegar and honey before my meals. My weight has fallen a little, but that hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference to my blood pressure readings. Still, a healthy diet, weight loss, and exercise can’t hurt me, even if they aren’t helping me.

Our Christmas tree is beautiful. I am so glad Attila talked me into having this real tree. It takes up a lot of room, but that is a temporary situation, so although it is a little crowded in here, it seems quite cozy.

Our Christmas Tree

Christmas tree 2016

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-12°C
Date: 5:00 PM EST Thursday 15 December 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.7°C
Dew point: -23.4°C
Humidity: 38%
Wind: NW 29 gust 53 km/h
Wind Chill: -22
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy – I mean that if you are happy you will be good.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970

A Day In The Life

6:40 a.m.

Dawn is slowly creeping over the landscape. Another morning begins. Attila has left for work, the roads are clear and dry for now, so his journey will be relatively safe.

The Christmas tree branches have relaxed and settled into a comfortable position, the tree occupies a third of the available floor space in the living room. Although it is crowded, it is cozy in this small space we call home. I have no plans for the day, aside from getting out for my daily walk.

7:10 a.m.

While sipping my morning coffee, and enjoying the Christmas lights on the tree and in the window, I have been thinking about our purging project. We passed along our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner and accessories to our niece and her fiancé. I have two binders of genealogical records that I will be gifting to another family history researcher, but the the arrangements to drop them off have yet to be made. There are two bank boxes full of vintage Mac software that will be donated to a collector, which Terra will pick up tomorrow, to take to Luna’s house when they get together for Christmas, from where the collector will pick them up. There is a box of clothing and dishes to be donated to the Salvation Army Store, and our old broken VCR to be dropped off at the electronic recycling bin. And then there is the box of home video VHS tapes, which has dwindled and will hopefully be completely converted to mp4 files before Christmas arrives. All of these items, with the exception of the binders, take up precious floor space.

My mind wanders to imagining what items in the house can go next.

We are making progress. A year ago we were still maneuvering our way through tunnels of boxes and belongings. Two years ago I was living alone here at Mist Cottage, with Diesel the cat for company, missing Attila horribly and hoping a move would work out. Three years ago we were struggling through a brutally cold and snowy winter at the country house, and I was waging a losing battle with cabin fever. We are making progress.

8:00 a.m.

Every time the forced air heating system kicks in, the air moves past the Christmas tree and fills the house with a delicious scent of pine. Another reason to love a furnace and a thermostat, not that I needed one.

11:20 a.m.

The sun was shining so I grabbed the opportunity to get out for my walk. There was quite a brisk wind, and temperature was around -5C, so it was nippier out there than we have been used to. I could only go part of the my usual route though, the sidewalk became increasingly difficult to navigate, with mounds of ice where people had dropped shovelfuls of snow. By the time I neared home the sky was overcast and it looked like we could get some snowfall.

The next few hours found me organizing my keys, they were quite chaotic. We have keys to two doors to the house, the trailer, the shed, our two vehicles, the mailbox, and a various other locks. I always destroy a fingernail when organizing keys, so now I have one very hacked up, sore fingernail to contend with until it grows out and can be trimmed evenly. But my keys are very well organized now, I must say.

While I was working on the keys, I became involved in cleaning out my backpack. I carry it as a purse, and haven’t tackled organizing it for quite some time. Another big job. One of the bonuses was that I found my Medic Alter bracelet. I wear a Medic Alert necklace, but many medical professionals fail to notice it. I want to wear the bracelet every time I visit a medical person, so I am glad I found it. It is too annoying to wear day-to-day.

Finally I sat down to take a little break and check my email. I receive email notices of free or cost reduced ebooks. Most of what is on offer I am not interested in, but this morning I found a book I am interested in reading. It is called “Letters From The Trenches”, by Jacqueline Wadsworth. It was 99 cents, well within my budget. I like first hand accounts of historical times, and this is what she offers in this book. Not for me are descriptions, numbers, and facts about the grand doings of the powerful, although that is what is mostly considered “history”. No, I like to hear from the people who lived the experiences.

“I have made no mention of military decorations, though some men in the book did receive them. My view is that there must have been an enormous number who deserved recognition but went unnoticed, and thought it fairest to present everyone as equals.”
Page 17, Letters from the Trenches, Jacqueline Wadsworth, 2014

This is my kind of book!

1:00 p.m.

The keys and backpack are cleaned and organized, I’ve only a small batch of keys for which I know not the locks. The weather is worsening, the sky is completely grey, and the gusts of wind very strong, with occasional driving snow. I am warm and cozy in Mist Cottage, and enjoying the book I just purchased.

9:30 p.m.

We have had a bit of excitement here at Mist Cottage. We have mouse traps set in the garage, and so far this autumn we have caught a dozen mice. This morning Attila noticed that the traps had been sprung, but had not caught anything. Decidedly odd. When I went to get the mail this morning, I noticed some very small footprints in the snow beside the garage door, it didn’t look like mouse tracks, and I thought, oh no, rats! This evening Attila was busy in the garage when he caught sight of a small white rodent-like animal darting about, he concluded since it was not concerned about being seen, that it was a pet of some kind. He set the live trap with some lettuce, and sure enough, a few hours later a gerbil was staring out at us from behind bars. The poor little guy had been out of doors since at least very early this morning.

All the peanut butter in the mouse traps had been eaten, which is too bad, because peanut butter is not good for gerbils. We brought him inside and gave him some lettuce, and a jar lid full of water. Attila called on the neighbours across the street because they have children and might be missing a pet gerbil. No, they didn’t own such a pet, but they thought the little girl down the street had a gerbil, but her family wasn’t home. We also wonder if the two little boys next door had a gerbil, but they weren’t home either. We will be asking around the neighbourhood to see if anyone is missing a gerbil! I wonder how it escaped!

So, tonight we have an overnight guest.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 14 December 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.9°C
Dew point: -13.2°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: W 18 gust 37 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it.”
William Penn
1644 – 1718

Christmas Celebrations

I decided to try discontinuing my high blood pressure medication altogether, after successfully reducing the dosage back to the original low dosage I had been taking. Within 24 hours my blood pressure had skyrocketed. So I decided that the medication was working to a limited and inadequate degree, and that I would be better off taking the original low dosage. I began taking the medication at bedtime, and in the morning my blood pressure was a little bit lower, but still higher than it needs to be. It is a work in progress.

My appointment at the walk-in clinic two weeks was fruitful. My blood pressure was borderline high when the doctor took it. He thought my nuclear heart test looked normal, but didn’t touch on much about it. I didn’t pursue it because I am more concerned about getting my blood pressure down, and stabilized. We discussed a few things, I brought my daily blood pressure readings to show him, and he decided I should see a blood pressure specialist. The appointment will be requested by his office, and they will call me to schedule the visit. I am relieved, and I am hoping that the specialist is someone I can work with!

In the meantime I continue with my low sodium, low sugar meal plans.

I did slip a little bit this past week and weekend though! Terra had Attila and I, and Luna and her family over for our Christmas celebration last Thursday night. It was the only time Luna could commit to travelling to Terra’s house. We had a lovely time with the five Grandbabies! Luna’s three seemed to like the books we got them Christmas, and they definitely liked the cash. Terra’s two are too young to be aware of gift giving, but they are old enough to love having all the family there and celebrating together. We have seven grandchildren now, five of them belong to my two daughters, and two of them belong to Attila’s daughter. We had a lovely chicken dinner, cooked by the very busy Terra, who even found time to decorate two Christmas trees! Attila and I said goodnight relatively early, as Attila had to be up at 5 a.m. the next morning to be off to work.

On Saturday we travelled to join in a celebration of the season with my Mom, which my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl held at her house. It was lovely! We had a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and lots of scrumptious vegetables. My Mom made delicious muffins that were safe for me to eat, a real treat. It was great to see my Mom, Brother-The-Middle-Boy, both of my sisters and their partners, and one of my nieces and her fiancé.

My Mom made a quilt for my bed as a gift and I just love it! Last night I slept under it, so cozy and warm. It is red and white mostly, a Christmas theme, bright and cheery and beautiful and so precious. Mom also knitted me a second knee warmer for my arthritic knee, just in time, winter arrived with a flourish last night. My sisters gave us each a bowl, we use the large Corelle bowls instead of dinner plates for most of our meals, and we needed more to accommodate our “dishwasher lifestyle”. We even got to give away our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner. My niece and her fiancé just bought their first house, and didn’t have a vacuum cleaner of their own. They are both engineers, and really gave the built to last machine a good looking over, enjoying the technology. They needed a vacuum cleaner, and we needed to move the Electrolux to new home, it worked for everyone.

We stayed overnight at my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl’s home, as did my Brother-The-Middle-Boy, and we had a lovely breakfast together before heading back home. My Brother-The-Middle-Boy lives along our route home, so we gave him a lift home. It was wonderful to see where he lives, he lives in downtown Toronto in a lovely building, which is very conveniently located so that almost anything he might need is within walking distance. After we waved goodbye to my brother, Attila took a wrong turn and we became lost. we spent about 40 minutes touring the streets of Toronto, before finding the 401 again, and continuing on our way home.

It was snowing when we started out on our journey home, and continued to snow. The roads were wet and visibility was good, with the exception of about a 50 km stretch of highway that was ice covered as sleet hammered the windshield of the car. We proceeded at a snails pace and made it to the other side of the weather, where the road became merely wet, and the sleet became snow once more.

It snowed all night here, and it was still snowing this morning. Attila arose earlier than usual this morning, leaving himself time to shovel out the driveway. By 8 a.m. the snow plow had gone by and left quite a pile of snow across the end of the driveway. At 9:00 a.m. I was out in the great outdoors with my trusty snow shovel. I started to clear the end of the driveway, and was delighted when our neighbour headed towards me with his snowblower. He cleared the end of the driveway with ease, leaving me with only a few small fiddly bits to complete. I shovelled the walk to the front door, and the deck at the front of the house, then decided I had better take a break. The snow was wet and heavy. A few hours later I headed back outside to use a broom to remove the snow from the top of Iris the trailer, and Tank. It was a good workout!

By the time Attila had arrived home from work, most of the areas where the snow had been cleared were completely bare and dry, it had been a mild day.

This afternoon I baked croutons, and this evening I made a batch of squash muffins, which are my pumpkin muffin recipe, but squash has been substituted for pumpkin. It feels pretty satisfying to eat a muffin and know you are getting almost a whole serving of vegetable!

This Christmas Attila wanted a real tree. I wanted an artificial tree, but agreed to a real tree for several reasons. The most important reason is that having a real tree means more to Attila than having an artificial tree means to me. Another reason is that the real tree will be picked up at the roadside for recycling, and will not need to be stored in this tiny house. And the last reason is that we hope to find an artificial tree on sale after Christmas, something within our budget.

We drove around town tonight, after we purchased our groceries for the week, looking for someplace to purchase a real Christmas tree. The NoFrills had none, Canadian Tire had none, Walmart had none… we were beginning to get worried as we were running out of places to look. Then we drove by the Metro grocery store, and they had beautiful trees for sale, a bit pricey, but we figured that if we wanted a tree we had better take what we could find. So after bringing our groceries home, Attila went back to the store for the tree.

The Christmas tree is sitting in our living room, and the smell of the pine is deliriously wonderful. We will let it sit quietly in its corner overnight, to allow gravity to bring the branches down to their normal position. Tomorrow night we will decorate the tree.

I love that I am going to share the living room with a sweet smelling tree for the next few weeks!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 8:32 AM EST Monday 12 December 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.2°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SSW 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness.”
Anonymous