Side by Side

I know people who are activists. They have a right to their opinions, and I do listen respectfully when interacting with them. I don’t really support “activism”, because the activists that I know like to inflict discomfort and pain on those who are not involved in their hegemonic political endeavours. Bombarding others with political rhetoric, tirelessly “exposing” the most extreme behaviours of their opponents, and displaying graphic photos of horrific scenes, all smack of using the misfortune of others to further their own personal beliefs. It isn’t that they are necessarily wrong, quite the opposite in some cases. It is their insistence that everyone else is ignorant, and guilty of letting the bad things happen, that I find arrogant, obnoxious, and potentially dangerous. Rigid dogma, anger, and book thumping rhetoric hold no appeal in my world; and will never convince me of the rightness of any concept. Am I unusual?

Today I became aware of the Chain of Freedom, through a link on Facebook. I had never heard of this “event” before today. It was an organized protest that involved whole families, including children. There were no guns, no billy clubs, no rage; there was no glorious leader or glory in heroics. There was determination, respect, cooperation, and cohesion. In my opinion, this is “activism” in its highest form; people standing side by side, not looking up at a glorious leader, but holding hands with their fellow travellers. I have seen it before, but seldom in recent years, with so many people falling over one another to “educate” and “advocate” and “inform” and “lead”; looking for likes on Facebook, hits on Twitter, hits and high ratings on Google, and all that dog-eat-dog competitive schlock that dominates the psyches of a large proportion of the population.

The Chain of Freedom, young and old, male and female, no heroes, everyone a link in the chain of equal importance. Source:
Screen Shot 2013 09 16 at 10 28 50 AM copy

“On 23 August 1939 foreign ministers of the USSR and Germany – Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop, as ordered by their superiors Stalin and Hitler, signed a treaty which affected the fate of Europe and the entire world. This pact, and the secret clauses it contained, divided the spheres of influence of the USSR and Germany and led to World War II, and to the occupation of the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

50 years later, on 23 August 1989, the three nations living by the Baltic Sea surprised the world by taking hold of each other’s hands and jointly demanding recognition of the secret clauses in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the re-establishment of the independence of the Baltic States.”

Attila was back to the dermatologist this morning. All is well and his skin has healed well. He can stop using the prescribed creams and rely on over the counter skin creams, recommended by the dermatologist. This is a huge relief, Attila suffered during his bout with Hogweed and flare up of Eczema, which he did not know he had.

Before leaving for his appointment, an hours drive away on the highway, he lit a fire in the little wood stove in the basement. The house was quite cool when we arrived home from our vacation last night, and a quick fire downstairs warmed it right up. It was cool again this morning, so another fire was in order. I set my timer and return to feed the fire every 30 minutes, keeping it at just the right temperature to prevent creosote build up in the stovepipes.

Mist was occasionally enraged at being caged during the drive home. She would howl and claw for short periods of time throughout the trip. She yowled loudly as Attila carried the cage into the house, the first thing he did when we arrived in the driveway. Then, abruptly, as the cage door opened, Mist ceased to howl, shook herself indignantly, and strolled off to tour her domain. She was happy as a clam, and within the hour she was lolling on the couch beside her brush, waiting for us to do our duty and give her coat a good brushing. She seems happy to be at the country house.

There are a few chips in the paint on our car, and we purchased a six year warranty on the paint when we purchased the car three years ago. A call to the sales department revealed that if there is no rust I must touch up the paint myself, which isn’t difficult with the kits available for that purpose. There are few rust spots though, and I will need to photograph those and send the photos to the insurance company to see about having them repainted by a professional. The hail storms this spring and summer have been hard on the car.

I received a call asking me to work for two days, at a location an hour and half away. Since it is an eight hour shift I decided to take the work. It is at a location where I have not worked before, so it should be interesting. I had to reschedule the car maintenance appointment, and called the work location right back to confirm. But it was 4:50 p.m. and the office there closes at 5:00 p.m. I guess they don’t answer the phone there when it gets close to closing time! Tomorrow I will call the office first thing.

After the bathroom renovation, we could use a small infusion of cash, and it will be a small infusion!

Worldly Distractions


10:00 PM EDT Monday 16 September 2013
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.4°C
Dewpoint: 2.9°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: NNW 8 km/h


“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”
Ursula K. LeGuin

Buckwheat Husk Pillow

The treatment recommended by the Dermatologist has been working for Attila. The Hogweed is gone, thank goodness. The episode with the Hogweed triggered a severe Eczema event, affecting a high proportion of Attila’s skin. That too is now healing nicely. The treatments must be diligently kept up, several times a day, but the effort is certainly worth the result. The correct diagnosis is so essential to getting the right treatment! The really great aspect of this treatment is that Attila has been able to continue working.

Attila had his second appointment with the Dermatologist this past week, and has been provided with an additional cream, cortisone, to be used on a temporary basis. He will go back to the Dermatologist again at the end of September for an assessment of the treatments.

When I work I seldom write. That is because when I work I have to shut down most of who I am, and put on a customer service, bottom of the rung employee, smile and keep it going every single minute that I am paid to do so. That takes a lot out of me, so I when I come home I rest and heal.

I will be working again next week, but today was a day off. We spent our one day together doing errands. We travelled to town to fill prescriptions, buy supplies and put some reasonably priced fuel in our vehicle. The prices of food and fuel in the village where we live are so much higher than they are in town, that we more than cover the cost of fuel for the drive and the cost of wear and tear on the car, when we travel all that way to make our purchases. If we had to pay local prices, we would be going without, a lot.

Actually, the gas station in our village has closed its pumps, permanently, so the closest fuel station is about 6 km. away. The fuel stations close to us are on highways, expensive, and meant to service travellers, rather than locals, so there is no shopping or other services available, just fuel.

About two weeks ago I took delivery of a buckwheat husk pillow. My main motivation is that people had described them as “cool” in the summer. I am a person who is almost always too hot in the spring, fall and summer. I will have to wait until the next heat wave to determine if the pillow is significantly cooler than other types of pillows.

However, I can report that the pillow surprisingly comfortable. The first night spent with the pillow provided me with a new experience. At one point I woke up, and detected that there was a light on in the living room. That might mean that Attila had not yet come to bed, that Attila had arisen during the night for a variety of reasons, or that it was morning. The thing was, when I awoke and saw the light, I could not tell whether I had slept for a short while and Attila was still up, or if Attila was up in the deep of the night, or if it was morning. I had absolutely no sense of time spent in the bed! This was a new experience, directly related to the buckwheat husk pillow. As it turned out it was morning, time to get up.

I am thinking that a mattress filled with buckwheat husks would be very comfortable; which led me to thinking about historical mattress materials. I constantly read that early settlers in North America used straw as mattress filling. I wonder why straw would have been preferred to buckwheat husks? Was straw cheaper, more easily obtainable, warmer, or merely traditional? I have found many “essays” online, describing Asian use of buckwheat filled mattresses, but these “essays” are not written by researchers, people who consult actual historical documents, they are written by entrepreneurs selling buckwheat husk products. So I consider myself uninformed as to the historical use of buckwheat husk filled mattresses.

Granny’s House in the late 1800s, early 1900s; before it was purchased by our family. It was built as a railway store, the false front, porch and balcony were removed, and the store relocated to the side addition, when our family took it over in 1930.

It was purchased by my Great Great Grandfather in 1930, then occupied by my recently married Grandparents, early in the Depression years. My Great Great Grandfather lived on the next farm down the road, which is where my Grandfather grew up. Both my Grandfather and Grandmother descended from families who were amongst the first European pioneers to settle in the area. The European families arrived in the region when land grants opened up in 1870. The first generations to arrive in the area had been born in Ireland and Scotland, and emigrated to Canada for a better life.

Granny’s House as it stands today.
DSCF3070 grannys house

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:30 PM EDT Sunday 25 August 2013
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 4 km
Temperature: 17.0°C
Dewpoint: 16.0°C
Humidity: 94%


“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”
Elie Wiesel
1928 –


Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel

“Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel KBE (/ˈɛli vɨˈzɛl/; born September 30, 1928) is a Romanian-born Jewish-American[1] professor and political activist. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel is also the Advisory Board chairman of the newspaper Algemeiner Journal.

When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind,” stating that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a powerful message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity.”

Home Again

I returned to the country house yesterday. The trip was pleasant, in spite of all the construction delays and the dearth of transport trucks. It is so nice to be spending time with Attila again!

Attila saw the Dermatologist today, who has provided him with multiple prescriptions, and a three week plan of action. Attila will follow the instructions to the letter. The really bright side, of the consultation, is that the plan of action includes Attila returning to work! We hope to see significant improvement. Time will tell.

Attila has accomplished much, in the way of replacing the fake wood panelling with drywall, in the hall at the country house. It is going to look great! I might even give him a hand with removing the old panelling. The drywall is too heavy for me to work with.

I had plans to apply the second coat of stain to the deck today. However, two consecutive days without precipitation are needed for the deck to dry adequately, before applying stain. It rained last night, so the project will have to wait for a combination of free time and two sunny days.

The last third of a four litre jug of maple syrup has some mold on it. After skimming off the mold, the maple syrup was heated to the point of boiling, then skimmed again. After two smaller jugs were sterilized with aqueous oxygen, the cooled maple syrup was poured into them and refrigerated.

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.0°C
Dewpoint: 13.8°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: WNW 15 gust 28 km/h
Humidex: 25


“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.”
Thich Nhat Hanh


Attila called to let me know that he is taking himself to the hospital emergency. The Hogweed burns on his hands have started to spread, significantly. I think he should have been referred to a dermatologist in the first instance, this is serious, serious stuff, Hogweed burns. But he wasn’t referred on. Our GP is away on vacation, no other GP is available right now; so off he goes to the hospital emergency.

Since Attila works outside, with his hands, this is very bad news. It probably means he won’t be able to work. There is no disability insurance where he works, so we will be without any income for a while.

This is definitely not the kind of change I had in mind. But you have to play the cards your dealt. I sure hope this cloud has a smidgeon of silver lining in it.

Attila will call me late tonight, after his visit, to let me know how things stand. Two hours of driving and the long wait in the hospital will make for a very late night for him.

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 19.4°C
Dewpoint: 10.6°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: NW 13 km/h


“Trying to tell you son if it wasn’t for bad luck, now now
Oh, oh, I wouldn’t have no luck at all
Would you believe I wouldn’t have no luck at all”
From If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck, written by Jimmy Lewis, performed by Ray Charles, 1969