Tonic

Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. The past weekend was one of those times.

On Thursday night of last week, Attila and I loaded Iris the trailer with our belongings, and hooked her up to Tank the FJ Cruiser. When Attila got home from work on Friday, it took us less than an hour to get out the door, and be on our way to the Rideau Camp. We thought that since it was the Labour Day long weekend, that the roads would be busy. It seems though, that very few people consider the area where our Rideau Camp is located a holiday destination. Perfect! The roads were no busier than they have been all summer.

We arrived at the Rideau Camp relatively early, got Iris set up, a camp fire started, the kitchen tent erected, and dinner on the stove. And then it was dark. We sat for a few hours staring into the flickering flames of the camp fire, then watching the twinkling embers when the fire burned itself out. But the stars, the real pleasure of the evening was the starry heaven above us. There are no towns or villages near our camp, so there is little in the way of artificial light to fade the heavens. Just before we turned in for the night, a shooting star caught my eye. It was an omen, the weekend was to be perfect.

We are still working out a few wrinkles in the camping department. One thing I really miss on the three day camping trip is a refrigerator. A cooler just will not stay cold over the course of three hot days. Next year I am hoping we can come up with a way to power our Koolatron, perhaps a battery with a solar trickle charger. Water is another issue, we bring it in in 4 litre bottles, but we need quite a bit for cooking, washing up, and putting out camp fires. I would like a rain barrel catchment system of some kind, at least for the purposes of putting out camp fires. Another issue is our beds. The old cushions in Iris are not comfortable. Having new cushions made runs into more than $1000, not going to happen. I haven’t found a good place to get replacement foam yet, I am still looking, and haven’t yet decided what type of foam I want, or how to cover it when I get it. In the meantime, the beds just aren’t comfortable for our old bones. All of these things are minor, it is fun to think about these little non-problems though, trying to come up with solutions.

The composting toilet with the humanure composting system is working out very well so far. No smell, no flies. We have yet to do our first bucket dump though, so it isn’t fully tested yet.

I had thought that Attila would use this long weekend to tackle the huge pile of cedar logs, stacking them into neat rows. However, Saturday morning he needed to bring me more brush to burn in the campfire, which led him to tackle one of the large brush piles left by the bulldozer when the driveway was put in. That got him started on clearing brush piles. There are about a dozen of them, piles of dirt and gravel, and stumps, and trees, and branches. The piles make the terrain on the south end of the camp rough and almost impassable. Over the course of three days Attila dug up and removed three brush piles. I burned most of it Saturday, as it was a lovely cool day. A half a dozen large stumps with roots were burned, several trees, and dozens and dozens of branches. Sunday was a much warmer day, and I found it just too hot to be anywhere near a campfire. Attila took over feeding the fire, and I kept watch over it when he headed back to his brush piles to bring back more wood. We spent a second evening watching our fire, but letting it burn out as the light of day died, watching only the embers for hours before bedtime. The lovely thing about watching the embers, is that they emit little light, and allow for wonderful star gazing. Again, I spotted a falling star just before we turned in for the night.

This morning we decided to forego a camp fire, partly because it was such a warm day, and partly because we prefer to stay the night after putting out a camp fire, to make sure it is well and truly out by the time we leave the property. Attila finished working on the brush pile at the entry to the property, under the hydro line. The hydro had clear cut the area beneath the lines, and left the trees and brush where they fell, years ago. The pile of brush was several feet thick. Attila dragged out large branches and piled them up, so that I could drag them further into the property and stack them where they would stay dry next spring for burning. When the brush was removed from under the hydro lines, Attila took the weed whacker and demolished the chest high growth of weeds. It looked very nice, but we have a lot of frontage, so it was but a drop in the bucket of the total job. We might get to the rest some other year, then again, maybe not.

As we were sitting down to eat our lunch, a healthy looking fox approached the camp. Attila yelled at him, but he was very bold and kept on coming. I waved a stick at him, but he wasn’t phased by that at all. We realized that he was the culprit who had come into our camp while we were sleeping and overturned our water bottles, which were thankfully sealed. He was probably searching for food. We both rushed at him waving sticks, and he finally retreated. I saw him sitting a few hundred feet off in the bush, then watched him try to climb a tall oak tree to get at whatever was in a hollow in the trunk, but he couldn’t reach it and gave up. Then he came back to the camp. We couldn’t believe it! We chased him again, and he would only retreat a few feet at a time. Finally Attila threw a rock towards him, not hitting him but hitting the ground near him and off he went at a quick trot. I don’t mind wild foxes, but I don’t want them approaching me in my kitchen! We talked to our neighbours later in the day and they told us that the people down the road feed the wild foxes. People! No wonder the fox was approaching us, he has learned to beg.

A wild fox. This enterprising fellow was not ten feet from me, he knew I was there and he didn’t care. He was looking for food, and begging. We are very careful with food around our campsite. It is never left out, and is locked away in the vehicle every night. We eat only at the picnic table, so there are no food droppings around the camp, and our dishwater, which might contain bits of food, is poured onto the campfire at night to put it out, burning the small food particles instantly. This fox has been given no reason to believe there is any food at our campsite. And yet here he is, sniffing around, boldly refusing to leave. We finally chased him away, and found out later that some of the cottagers have been feeding the wild foxes in the area, thinking it great fun.
DSCF9454
The wild fox finally decided to leave, as we became more aggressive in our request that he depart. I imagine he returned as soon as we left, but he wouldn’t find any food. We are hoping he eventually loses interest, after repeated failures to find anything edible at the site. Of course, he can eat as many mice and chipmunks as he can find around our campsite, we would not miss either of those little foragers.
DSCF9455

As the heat of the day set in, we decided to head home. It took a few hours to get everything packed up and ready to go, and by the time we left we were grateful to be sitting in an air conditioned vehicle.

We had turned off the air conditioning at Mist Cottage, and closed all the curtains for the weekend, since we would not be here, and it was lovely and cool in the house when we arrived home.

The weekend acted as a tonic, I feel much better for having sat in the bush by camp fires and star light.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Monday 5 September 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dewpoint: 16.7°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: S 12 km/h
Humidex: 27

Quote

“That’s who you really like. The people you can think out loud in front of.”
John Green

Oh What A Beautiful Day

I continue to attack the mildew odour in Iris’ cushions. The worst affected are the back cushions of the dinette. The foam has been removed from the covers, the covers washed and one of the foams was soaked and washed. This morning the covers still retained a memory of mildew, and the foam has not dried, so that it is not possible to tell just yet if the washing has succeeded. I washed the covers for a second time, which seemed to marginally improve their aroma. I fear that these 39 year old cushions and covers cannot be restored to an acceptable quality for use. New cushions and covers are expensive, I am currently looking for a local source of good quality foam. I am considering covering new foam with makeshift “cases” made from shower curtains; it wouldn’t be pretty, but it just might be functional. If we do manage to get new cushions they won’t be stored in Iris over the winter!

We have a few mosquitoes here at Mist Cottage. They are a lethargic lot, easy to kill, if spotted before they have a chance to bite. I notice that they are stirred up when I walk through the grass on the lawn. There is no standing water here, so I wonder where they are breeding!

When we were visiting with Mom a few weeks ago, staying with my sister-the-oldest-girl, my sister gave us some rhubarb that had thrived in her garden. Tuesday morning the last of it was used to make a rhubarb crisp for Attila’s lunches; it was in and out of the oven before 7:00 a.m., when the cost of hydro increases.

The call came on Wednesday afternoon from the country GP’s office, he requisitioned tests to find out what is going on with the Chronic Kidney Disease diagnosis. I dropped in at the lab to see if the requisition for the tests had come to them, it hadn’t yet. It wasn’t a worry though. At the local lab’s suggestion I called the customer service number on Thursday morning. The requisition had indeed arrived at the central office, and was distributed to the labs immediately, I was good to go. Now I will wait for a call from the GP’s office to let me know about his assessment of the test results. This GP is a real gem, I wish all of them had his skill, sense of ethics, and compassion, it is really a shame I am so far away from his office!

It was definitely chilly this morning, 4C, but I think the weather will now warm up substantially, the high today of 23 will be lovely.

The preparation for our evening visit to the Rideau Camp is under way. I sprayed four pairs of cotton gloves with permethrin yesterday and set them aside this morning to put in the camp box. This morning I sprayed one of my light coloured t-shirts, and two pairs of light coloured socks with permethrin, all to be worn when we visit the camp. This should prevent mosquitoes from biting under my large man’s shirt, our hands as we work, and offer some protection from ticks as well. We now have two serious diseases to worry about from the biting insects in Ontario, whereas during my youth there were none. Both diseases are the indirect compliments of human progress.

For a few years I spent time as a volunteer on the stage and sound crew for the Mariposa Folk Festival. It was fun, I met a lot of great people, learned new skills, and enjoyed myself.

There were those at the time that felt it was beneath me to give away my time as a lowly crew member, there were smirks and some low key derision, but I did not understand their point of view, I still don’t. So I have mixed memories of my Mariposa experience, a contrast between hierarchical and non-hierarchical personality types; I bet you can guess who I found pleasant and who I did not find pleasant.

In 1990 I was on the crew for the 30th anniversary of Mariposa, and got the t-shirt. I haven’t worn it more than a few times, and I unearthed it as I was searching for a light coloured t-shirt to spray with permethrin, to wear at the Rideau Camp; this selection offered a perfect blend of past and present.

Mariposa t 1990

I received a call from my sister-the-youngest-girl, her oldest daughter, my niece, an Engineer who is working out of the country at the moment, has just become engaged to be married. No details at this point. It isn’t difficult to understand how old you are with the younger generation around!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Friday 20 May 2016
Condition: Fog
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 4.1°C
Dewpoint: 3.5°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: ENE 5 km/h
Today Sunny. High 23. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Low 8.

Quote

“I did not see anything [New York 1886] to help my people. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”
Black Elk 1863-1950
Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

I wonder, at what point in history did our branch of the human species begin to think that greed was normal. It seems so ingrained in the way we see the world, history assumes is was always thus, so it must have begun before written records were kept.

“Goats are very hierarchical, they aren’t a social animal, so you need to work out where you are in the pecking order.”
Thomas Thwaites
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/goatman-calgary-thomas-thwaites-1.3590342

That is interesting, hierarchical goats are not considered social animals. It would fit then that hierarchical humans are not social animals, which would mean that the power structures in our present social structure define our species as “not social animals”… it makes sense in an oddly disturbing sort of way.