Cold Snap

Thursday, February 11, 2016

We are heading into what is shaping up to be the coldest few days of the winter season. It is significantly colder out there than it has been so far this winter, at -16C. This is our first real cold snap of the winter. At our country house we would have thought of -16C as rather mild. Here we think of it as frigid! I love it!

This weekend the temperature will dip even further, according to the weather mavens. They tell us that on Saturday night the temperature might fall as low as -26C. Again, at our country house we considered this cold, but really only considered the weather to be bitter when the thermometer dipped below -30C, as it would several times during the course of a winter.

As things are here at Mist Cottage, we have plenty of fuel for heat on hand to keep us warm and cozy through the cold snap. No worries, and no wood toting, heavenly.

On this day in 2011:

“The snow squalls were interesting yesterday. At times the sky looked like it was clearing, shortly thereafter all you could see out the window was snow. When I drove home from work yesterday it was snowing hard, and a sudden strong blast of wind brought additional snow showering out of the towering roadside trees. Visibility was zero. And suddenly there was an SUV heading straight for me, well into my lane of the highway. Luckily I live here and respect the weather conditions, I was traveling around 40 km per hour, so I could swerve towards the ditch to avoid a head on collision. The driver of the SUV didn’t slow, stop or seem to think anything at all of forcing me off the road, they just kept speeding along. The road was wider where this occurred so I didn’t end up in the ditch, didn’t get stuck. I just carried on at a snail’s pace until I reached home, safe and sound. I don’t yet look old enough to pull off the “little old lady driver” thing, but give me time and I’ll get there.”
February 11, 2011 at the Country House
-21 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -21.0°C
Dewpoint: -22.9°C
Humidity: 85 %
Wind: SSE 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -27

Attila wanted to take the car in this week for an oil, lube and filter change. He also requested that the mechanic look at the back brakes. Sure enough, we needed new back brakes. He immediately installed them for us. The bill however, was something we didn’t need. Just call me the juggler.

Attila will get a small hourly wage increase at the end of the month. That little bit will make a big difference. I often wonder what life would be like if one could depend upon having enough money to pay one’s bills. It seems to me it would be a serene and peaceful sort of existence, if one could take the basics of life for granted.

It snowed on Monday, and again on Wednesday, so the roads were uncertain for walking. There isn’t all that much snow, but there are slippery patches, and uneven patches. Thus, this week my daily walk has been suspended, and how I miss it. It looks like next week there will be milder temperatures, so that the snow on the road may melt. As soon as it does I will be back out there.

The backing up project is progressing. It is very time consuming. I have to sort through files, and have deleted quite a few items that have lost their relevance. I am fairly lazy when it comes to saving files. If I think I might want to refer to the information again, I save the file. When I download pictures from the camera, I download them all into a file and do not look at the again. In this way I have large image files that display a clear blue sky, and nothing else, or unfocused images taken from the car window. Out they go.

The purging continues, at a snails pace. I plan on “nickel and diming” the purging efforts until we are cleansed of the superfluous. There is no longer any reason to save items in case we move to a place where they would “fit”. We are where we want to be. On Tuesday of this week I found a box of electronic cables and gadgets. None of these items has been used in the last 20 years, it is time to donate them, or barring that, to throw them out.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

We are “bottoming out” on the cold front. Right now, as I sit looking out a serene cloudless sky, the temperature is -28C, and the wind chill is -41C.

Tomorrow night will dip to -28C. There was no strolling neighbourhood today! We enjoyed intense snow squalls yesterday morning, Attila removed the snow from the drive and the walkway to the front door as soon as it stopped snowing in the afternoon, before the temperature began to plummet. This is the most extreme weather we have seen here this winter, and it is mid-February. At our country house, the extreme cold and snow squalls were frequent events, beginning in November and carrying on until the end of March. One extreme cold snap seems more like a short temporary adventure, here in the land of thermostats.

I talked to my sister and my Mom this morning on FaceTime. My Mom looks good, although she seems weary of the treatments and the side effects. She is in good hands, my sisters have got her back, accompanying her to her appointments, assisting with the needed home care. My niece is going to spend the next two weeks accompanying Mom to the treatments, and assisting her with the home care she needs for the duration of the treatments. My Mom was instrumental in raising my two sister’s children, so it is wonderful that they are now able to be there for her, as she was able to be there for them.

Mom is being a wonderful sport about letting people help her through the last weeks of this ordeal. I am sure it must be hard for her, as she is usually the one helping others, and she is accustomed to being super active. Mom, you are the best!

I texted Terra to ask her how her recent scan went. Good news there, the babies are developing as expected, and Terra remains healthy. Terra sent me a picture of Lares preparing the new nursery. He is wearing a breathing mask, has a hammer in his hand, and stands in front of a partially demolished lath and plaster wall. Their house is very old, the walls in the original part of the house are all lath and plaster. Getting that nursery ready will be a very big job. Lares does not look joyful in the picture.

Today we are replacing the flooring in the landing by the back door. This little bit of floor is what you step onto when you walk in the back door, and from there you can step up into the kitchen, or down the stairs to the basement. When we bought the place there were cheap vinyl tiles on the this landing, and they have worked well. They aren’t pretty though, and the colour is not to our liking.

We bought new floor tiles for the landing last week. We visited the Habitat store because we had items to donate. Having handed over the donations, we perused the store. We found some green linoleum tiles, just 12 of them, for $.50 each, so for $6 we have a new floor for the landing.

I like linoleum. The tiles are solid, so that the colour and the design on them is consistent from top to bottom. What this means is that when they are scratched, there is no layer to scratch off, the colour and design remain the same. They wear well. They are easy to clean. And they are a colour that we like.

This is the landing at the back door. The tiles are not the colour we would like, and they are poorly installed. As well, they have chipped and torn at the edge of the stairs. They have served adequately for the last five years, but now they are going to retire from duty.
DSCF7824 ed
The tiles came up very easily, and the clean up was relatively easy as well. Attila had some nail heads to deal with, but they were also easily dealt with.
DSCF7827 ed
Since the floor boards were so uneven, a subfloor was installed. Nothing in this house is even or level. It has “character”, and like all characters it is work to deal with.
DSCF7829 ed
Almost there, most of the tiles are down. As usual, there are a few little “mistakes”, and although I noticed them and commented on them immediately, in a matter of days I will no longer be aware of them. They are not glaring, just slightly imperfect.
DSCF7831 ed
The finished job, the baseboards reinstalled, and a new door sweep to help keep the cold winds from blowing into the house.
DSCF7833 ed

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Wow, last night it got cold. When I opened the drapes on the south facing window this morning, the cafe curtains were frozen to the glass, an icy chill crept into the house, and a few moments later the thermostat realized what was going on and kicked the furnace into action. At -30C I imagine last night we saw the coldest temperature of the winter. The weather report tells us that it will be getting warmer; rising from -30C doesn’t exactly mean getting warm. The warmer temperatures are probably going to bring snow with them.

I have been working hard on setting up the backup system on my Cloud, external USB drive and DVDs. I hit a snag! My Cloud by Western Digital does not allow a file search from Mac OSX, the Apple operating system. I ask you, how useful is a storage system without a search function! After searching high and low at the Western Digital support site, and around the internet in general, I found no solutions to the problem. I began to search for applications to do the job, and that is when I bumped into a little program called EasyFind, by DEVON Technologies. I read reviews, and the consensus was that the software used to be great, but was outdated, made redundant by the incredible Spotlight, the search function provided with the operating system for the computer. I downloaded the program and voila, it searched the Cloud, albeit slowly, and did a fine job of it. Problem solved.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 7:00 AM EST Thursday 11 February 2016
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -15.9°C
Dewpoint: -19.2°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NW 21 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

Date: 10:00 AM EST Saturday 13 February 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -26.7°C
Dewpoint: -34.8°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NW 26 km/h
Wind Chill: -41
Mainly sunny. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. High minus 18. Wind chill minus 34.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 28. Wind chill minus 36.

Date: 6:00 AM EST Sunday 14 February 2016
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -29.8°C
Dewpoint: -35.1°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NW 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -40


“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”
Charles Wadsworth

It seems the same thing is equally true of mother and daughters.

A Happy Day

Diesel and I slept through the worst of the frigid night, warm enough at 16C. The cold snap continues. Attila is holding up well, he was cheerful enough when I talked to him pre-dawn this morning, I could hear the crackling of the fire in the masonry heater as we chatted. Neither abode received any overnight snowfall, for that at least we are grateful. The weather people say the temperatures should begin to rise towards normal by the end of the weekend. We shall see!

Yesterday it snowed most of the day, and the plough went through mid-day. The five inch thick, slushy mess at the end of the driveway needed to be shifted. That would be me! I struggled with it for a few hours and got it cleared. It is getting tricky for me, because the banks near the road are shoulder high now, and that is a long way up for me and my snow shovel. Still, little loads, many times, and eventually the job gets done. No new snow this morning, and the sun is shining, so I have a much appreciated reprieve from shovelling. The kind neighbour across the street has gone south for the next month or so, I surely miss him! I don’t blame him though, Attila and I would love to follow suit.

To keep active, a shopping trip to Walmart was planned. The trip provided a good long walk, cruising up and down the aisles. When my back began to ache, I headed for the checkout, to pay a whole $4.03 for my spinach, bananas, fresh ginger root, and fresh garlic.

Later in the day I grabbed the full compost bucket, and a dustpan, threw on my parka, slipped into my boots, and headed out to the compost at the back of the yard. Attila had shovelled out a path for me, as my last trip was exhausting, battling through knee deep snow. This trip was not nearly so challenging. I dug into the snow at the compost pile with the dustpan, dumped the greenery into it, then used the dustpan to shovel snow back onto it, to prevent the brisk wind gusts from scattering the future soil. As I turned and headed back to the house, I had to stop and enjoy the scene. The wind was brisk and frigid, the sky a brilliant blue, the air clean and invigorating, the naked trees danced with each gust of wind.

And now I am sitting comfortably in my easy chair, and Diesel is nestled comfortably on his human, me. He is a big cat, so in order to type on the keyboard, I have to turn to the side of the chair and reach onto the small table where the computer rests. Diesel watches me, occasionally becoming annoyed with the computer, bunting his head against it hard enough to move it. I persevere, and Diesel forgives me. What happy days that allow these simple pleasures such great importance.

I am looking forward to chatting with Attila later tonight, to hear how his day went, out there in the arctic cold.

Worldly Distractions


Little House in the City

Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 23 February 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -19.3°C
Dewpoint: -24.9°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: NNW 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -28

Country House

Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 23 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -25.2°C
Dewpoint: -28.5°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind:WNW 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -33


“You better live your best and act your best and think your best today, for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.”
Harriet Martineau
1802 – 1876


Monday, February 16, 2015

Today is family day, and I am reminded that “family”, and what we celebrate in the term “family”, can have a wide variety of meanings. Attila left this morning, and I experienced my usual teary response as he drove away. And what do I think about it all? I think I am very lucky to have someone that I do miss! And who misses me! It isn’t the perfect “family” day, but it does highlight how lucky Attila and I are to be able to spend any time together at all.

Diesel isn’t impressed with tears. He has decided he needs a good deal of “consoling”, as he finds if disconcerting to be around someone who is teary. Are cats narcissists? A little cuddle on the couch did both of us a world of good.

And then on with the day. The temperature has risen to -20C, which is cold, but not as cold as it has been the last few days. The sun is shining, which is very cheerful, and beautiful. I spent the rest of the day puttering about. Attila brought down three four-litre-jugs, saved from our maple syrup purchases in the past. These make excellent drinking water jugs. I cleaned them, sterilized them, filled them with filtered water, and stored them in the basement for emergencies. Hopefully these jugs of water will never be needed, just refreshed annually.

For lunch I fixed myself some Guacamole, and enjoyed it with a few corn chips. For dinner I indulged in a spinach frittata for one.

To soften the intensity of the day, I watched the movie “Only The Lonely”, with John Candy and Maureen O’Hara. It worked well, providing a distraction, and a light, positive tone.

The evening closed with a chat with Attila, via FaceTime. I am glad he arrived there, in the north, safe and sound. Mist is glad to see him too, and now that the second firing of the day is under way in the masonry heater, she has decided that he has been chastised sufficiently for his absence.

All is well, February marches on.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The cold snap continues! It was a fortunate decision to have the fuel oil tank filled a few weeks ago! The gauge is heading down towards 3/4 full, which will mean that the month of February will have burned a quarter of a tank of fuel oil.

Every day there are at up to two dozen Asian Ladybugs crawling around the dining table in the kitchen. I kill every one of them, as I see them. This week, for the very first time, I was “bitten”. One of the ladybugs managed to crawl up the sleeve of my sweater and bit me on the arm. It didn’t hurt, but it was noticeable; I thought my sweater had caught and was pulling on a hair on my arm. It was a ladybug bite!

The cold is getting to me! The week long blast of cold weather brought a few mild, brief bouts of melancholy with it. At the country house these feelings begin to manifest with much more intensity by the first week in January. With a larger repertoire of coping mechanisms here at the little house in the city, the dreaded cabin fever may even fail to make an appearance this winter!

This week has been busy with interesting activities. I received a wonderful healing massage! I had provided computer support for the woman who leads the Yoga class, and in exchange I received the massage. It was a great experience, and very timely. Yoga class was attended the next day. And yesterday was laundromat day, which turned out to be a fascinating experience. I struck up a conversation with the one other woman at the laundromat, and it turned out that she attended the same primary school as I did, knew my younger brother well, and she attended the same church as my best friend from primary school. She and her husband had just moved to the area near our little house in the city, from the North, just a bit further north than our country house. They moved south because there is no work in the north. This is the very first time in my adult years that I have met anyone who attended the same public school as I did! A definite blast from the past.

Laundry day here at the little house in the city always has a decorative affect on the decor. Socks and underwear, t-shirts and trousers, festoon every horizontal line of furniture. It dries quickly in the arid atmosphere of the heated house, but is left overnight, so that it is bone dry when it is folded and put away. Diesel has decided that hanging socks are meant to be cat toys, he is one happy cat!

Today was grocery day. The list was compiled over several days, listed by store, to make each visit quick. The little house in the city offers a variety of choices when shopping for food, all of them appealing in different ways. For reasonably priced stock items, there is a NoFrills grocery store. For fresh produce there is a Walmart grocery section. For frozen items there is a local store that sells only frozen foods. Today the shopping trip was planned so as to visit stores in the order of items of increasing susceptibility to the cold. The items from the first store would have to wait in Tank while the items from the subsequent stores were being purchased. The frozen items were purchased first, the fresh vegetables, being most susceptible, were purchased last.

I have yet to get out for a “walk”! I am managing the knee exercises most days, missing a day here and there, but keeping up with it for the most part. But the walks just haven’t been feasible. There is snow on the roads, and that is where I began having issues with the knee, walking on snow. The sidewalks are impossibly snowy and rough, so the road is the only option at present. If we get a break from this arctic cold, the roads will clear quickly, and I will begin short walks on side streets. While I wait for clear roads, and eventually clear sidewalks, I make sure that I am out and about every day, walking the aisles of some store or other, for that little bit of walking.

Attila seems to be dealing well with this prolonged cold snap. He finds it much easier to cope with heating the house in the extreme cold when I am not living in the house he is trying to keep warm. If he fails to maintain it at a comfortable temperature, there is no one in the house who is suffering. Mist has a bed close to the masonry heater, and is quite content to curl up in that warm little nest, all day long. I however, require comfortable temperatures in other areas of the living area, like the kitchen. It isn’t healthy for me to sit in the one warm spot in the room all day long, without moving. When I am living at the little house in the city, with the thermostat at my command, there is no issue with comfortable indoor temperatures. In one sense, my absence takes a weight off Attila’s shoulders, if he “fails” to maintain a comfortable temperature, he is the only one to notice. Attila is used to working outdoors during these intense arctic episodes in the weather, so he hardly notices it when it is coolish in the house.

Worldly Distractions


Little House in the City

Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 16 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -26.0°C
Dewpoint: -31.3°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: W 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -33

-22°C (-7.6)
Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 20 February 2015
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -22.3°C
Dewpoint: -27.0°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: W 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -33 (-27.4)

Country House

-33°C (-27.4)
Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 16 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -33.4°C
Dewpoint: -37.0°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: NNW 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -38 (-36.4)

-27°C (-16.6)
Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 20 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -27.2°C
Dewpoint: -30.7°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: WNW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -36 (-32.8)


“You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.”
Arlo Guthrie


It is cold here at the little house in the city, -22C. It is also windy. I have a thermostat. This is heavenly.

As cold as I think it is here, Attila has a full scale deep-freeze going on at the country house. It is -32C there at the moment. There are snow squall warnings, although when I talked to Attila it wasn’t snowing, it had earlier. It is after 9:00 p.m., and he has been busy since he got home from work, firing the masonry heater, and toting wood to burn in the little wood stove downstairs. He will be firing the masonry heater again during the night, and then again first thing in the morning. He eats bits of this and that when he gets short breaks from his heating obligations. He is in good spirits, which is more easily accomplished because this cold snap is due to end by the weekend.

Today I attended a Yoga class. I haven’t practised Yoga for over thirty years! This was a beginners class and geared to seniors. I really enjoyed it, and will probably attend weekly. The best part is that it is held within walking distance of the little house! I did not walk today though!

After I returned home from my class, I fixed a quick lunch. It was time to visit the laundromat again, and this time remembered to bring my soap. I brought the clean wet laundry home and hung it all over the house.

Terra and Lares dropped by for a few minutes, as they were in town. We had a pleasant little chat. They have asked Attila and I to dog sit in February, which we will do for them.

No walk today! This morning as I sat at the table eating my breakfast, gazing out the window, I spied the young girl from down the street heading for the school bus. She was clearly having trouble keeping warm, particularly her face. The wind! I had thought I might go out, but when I saw her having such a time in the wind I decided to stay indoors. Tomorrow I will walk.

Worldly Distractions


The Little House in the City
Date: 9:00 PM EST Wednesday 7 January 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -22.5°C
Dewpoint: -28.5°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: NW 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -33

The Country House
Date: 9:00 PM EST Wednesday 7 January 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -31.0°C
Dewpoint: -33.5°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: calm


“Hold a book in your hand and you’re a pilgrim at the gates of a new city.”
Anne Michaels

The First Tuesday in March

After coming through the night at -24C, we awoke to snowfall. This kind of weather will keep me close to home, as three firings of the masonry heater each day require that the damper be closed down after the burn; that would be my job. Attila does the tough stuff, the splitting and toting, and I do the monitoring and closing, and adjusting the window blinds and fans according to weather conditions. It works, and it is work.

I follow a variety of blogs, all English language, and mostly written by people living in English speaking countries, for the most part. Unfortunately I do not speak multiple languages, or my reading adventures would have a much longer reach.

It struck me this morning, as I read the entry for rooting fig trees in Virginia, that the thread of similarity in the blogs I read is that each of the writers offer the world their integrity. What sent me off in this direction of thought this morning was contrast, contrast of focus. The Virginia farmer has a perfectly functional and snug home, which does not conform to idealistic cultural visions of rural life and farms, or architectural beauty of design. Where a farming blog may not have one jot of interest in domestic aesthetics, the homemaker might be creating a domestic environment that exudes comfort and beauty, and soothes the soul. At first glance there may seem no similarity between these two bloggers. But there is for me. Both have their own way of interacting with their environments with integrity, love even. Neither are ensnared in the larger scale social dialogue, which is almost entirely focused on violence, disaster, and political intrigue, among other things, all of which emphasize a negative spin on life on earth, and a complicit acceptance that this relentless gaze on the negative is the only “correct” way to look at things.

After reading about rooting fig trees, I left for Scotland and goat farming, then to Saskatchewan, Canada for a glimpse of prairie life, to the lobstering shores of Massachusetts, then the rolling Atlantic waves of the California coast, and on to all the wonderful places I have found. Each and every visit is a different kind of pleasure.

I choose to spend my time reading the thoughts and descriptions of lives well lived. The doings of the wealthy, powerful, political, capitalized world are rife with atrocities against humans, both in terms of intentional harm and collateral damage, and no amount of discussion about it, yay or nay, has ever diminished this debacle of human social disease, after thousands of years of blabbering on and on and on. My interest in quotes informs me, that throughout human history, since the inception of the written word, grasping after more than one’s fair share, of anything, has been rotting the barrel for the majority of our species. And since most of human history took place long before the written word appeared, we do not know that this has always been so, and I seriously suspect that it has not always been so.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Tuesday 4 March 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -22.1°C
Dewpoint: -24.4°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -27


“Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity than straigthforward and simple integrity in another. A knave would rather quarrel with a brother knave than with a fool, but he would rather avoid a quarrel with one honest man than with both. He can combat a fool by management and address, and he can conquer a knave by temptations. But the honest man is neither to be bamboozled nor bribed.”
C. C. Colton


“Charles Caleb Colton (1780–1832) was an English cleric, writer and collector, well known for his eccentricities…

Colton’s books, including collections of epigrammatic aphorisms and short essays on conduct, though now almost forgotten, had a phenomenal popularity in their day. Toward the end of 1820, Colton published Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words, addressed to those who think., in a small cheap edition. It attracted attention and praise, however, and five additional printings were issued in 1821. Lacon, Vol. II appeared in 1822. In 1822, Colton re-published a previous work on Napoleon, with extensive additions, under the title of The Conflagration of Moscow. In Paris he printed An Ode on the Death of Lord Byron for private circulation and continued to write. At his death he left an unpublished poem of 600 lines called Modern Antiquity.
In the twentieth century and to the present day Colton has been read most frequently perhaps in quotation books, including Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, where many of his aphorisms have been preserved.
One of Colton’s most famous quotes: “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”.”