Chopping Down Trees

We spent the day at the Rideau Camp. It was sunny, beautiful, and chilly, with a high of 10C. I kept the fire going, which is job of constant activity, breaking sticks into lengths and feeding them into the fire. Attila brought his chain saw and felled two dead trees, chopped them up, pulled the brush near the fire pit so that I could break the branches up and burn them, and stacked the logs neatly. A good days work. The Camp looks better every time we visit it, and it feels like home already.

We saw large birds circling in the sky, as we did last weekend. We think they might be eagles, or perhaps they are turkey vultures, we don’t know. We heard owls hooting off in the bush. We saw a Mallard Duck swimming in our little wetland. We heard the call of two Pileated Woodpeckers. And we were visited by a half dozen black flies as the evening drew near, around 6 p.m. As long as the black flies do not swarm, I don’t mind them too much.

My Mom was in to see her doctor, and the doctor says that everything is good. She will go for a CT Scan in a few weeks time, just to check it out. The healing is progressing slowly. Mom should be feeling tickety boo by the time the warm weather finally arrives.

One of the two trees that Attila felled today. He thinks it was an Elm, it had been dead for quite some time.
Felled tree
The brush pile and stacked firewood, all done at the end of the day. The sun was beginning to set as we packed up to leave, just after this photo was taken.
Stacked firewood
When I was a child the bush around the farm was carpeted with these flowers every spring. What fond memories I have of wandering in the bush with my brothers and sisters. We called these flowers Tiger Lilies, Mom called them Dog Tooth Violets, their official name is Erythronium Americanum, they are also sometimes called Trout Lilies.
Tigerlily

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Saturday 23 April 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.4°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: NNE 7 km/h

Quote

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
Joseph Campbell
1904 – 1987

It took a long time for this piece of wisdom to play out in my life, thank goodness I lived long enough for it to come to fruition.

The Thick Of It

We are in the thick of it now!

The realtor comes tomorrow to assess the house.

The cleaning isn’t done.

Attila stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night to keep working on the main floor.

The cleaning still isn’t done.

Yikes!

How did the place get this dirty!!

Wood heat requires constant cleaning, which Attila had no time for last winter, here alone, battling the cold, for the duration of the coldest winter since 1934. He got through it, and has the grime to prove it.

I am finished the main living area of the house, the kitchen, dining room, living room, and main bathroom. Now there are two upstairs bedrooms to tackle, the family room, the downstairs bath, the downstairs bedroom, and the downstairs kitchen. I am tired just thinking about it! We must press on!

Thankfully we have garbage pickup once every two weeks, and today is the day. That is why Attila worked into the night, gathering up bags of things we are purging, filling up garbage bags, which are now out at the curb. Recycling is grand, but we do not have the luxury of time. Also, if we sell and move to the little house in the city, we will be moving from an average size bungalow to a very small house, under 680 square feet. We cannot keep all of the things we have accumulated (few items were purchased, we have been master recyclers, aka hoarders in training, who have yet to graduate).

Like Mist, the house is purring with all the loving attention it is receiving.

Choosing a realtor, or choosing not to employ a realtor, is a tricky business where we live. Most of the realtors in the area aim to sell the 1/2 million to 10 million dollar properties that are common here. They don’t really consider selling an ordinary bungalow to be worth their time. Relatively speaking, I can see their point. But that leaves us in an awkward position.

On Tuesday I called two realtors to ask for assessments. One of them, a young woman, was very forceful on the telephone, implying in subtle ways that the house would not measure up to much in comparison to other properties, that there were only so many buyers, so we should “price to sell”, a euphemism for “price it low so I can sell it quick”. She seemed awfully snobby to me, but we did setup an appointment for today. However, the thought of having her in my home didn’t feel quite right. So I wrote her an email message outlining what I was looking for, and mentioning that we were getting several assessments from realtors for the house. Her reaction was to reveal herself. She immediately wrote back to inform me that she “doesn’t compete with other realtors”, because she “doesn’t need to”. She is not coming to assess the house. She wishes us luck. We are relieved to have averted that visit!

When you think that you are paying the realtor $10,000, or much more, to sell a property, you would think they understood they are working for you. Ha!

When we sold our house in the big city before moving to the country, we had an outstanding realtor; she was amazing! She got us a good price for the house in a difficult market, and always stayed positive, towards us, and towards the house. We were spoiled, and we know that a good realtor can make the process a lot less painful!

The other realtor I called yestereday was very friendly, a young man, who answered his cell phone while driving. It was noisy, he apologized, exiting the road and parking to speak with me. I had a good feeling about him, but the proof will be how he reacts to the house, and us, after he has seen the house. On the telephone he had no way of knowing that we are not selling a multi-million dollar home, so I would have been exposed to his best foot forward, treating every potential customer like an appreciated customer. We shall see if the other shoe drops.

For a lot of business people in this area, the only appreciated customers are rich customers. So that pleasant demeanour, that the realtor presented, may not last. We have experienced this phenomena over, and over, and over again, living in the shadow of the rich. Many of the business people here are very friendly until they discover that you are not rich, then you are suddenly invisible, not worthy of their time or notice. So we shall see what this young man is made of when he comes to assess the house. At least he is smart enough not to make assumptions, and can interact with a female without any underlying hostility; those points are in his favour.

I was exhausted yesterday after cleaning all day, and dealing with the issues around realtors in this area.

My advice to unassuming persons, it is ill-considered to live anywhere where the entire economy is based on service to the affluent, it isn’t pretty, a lot like “The Truman Show”. The backdrop looks idyllic, beautiful, peaceful, but it is virtually empty of economic diversity or balance. As one Elder of a local Reserve (Aboriginal) said in an interview, serving the rich is not an economy. So succinct, intelligent, and right on the mark.

We did take a short break from our cleaning frenzy to make a brief visit to our camp on Sunday afternoon. All is well there. The building next to us, which is over 100 years old, and has a distinct lean to it, has a demolition order stapled to the siding. I am relieved, it was a scary building, and a variety of wildlife had moved in. The building will be gone by the end of the summer.

The highlight of our visit was the wildflowers, which were blooming all over the camp site. The Trout Lilies are in full bloom, as are the Mayflowers. The Trilliums were about to bloom. The Hepaticas are not blooming yet either. We will try to make another trip over there soon, I want to visit the wildflowers!

While we were there Attila loaded some of the firewood we had stacked last fall, after clearing the lot. If we need another fire for heat, now we can have one!

And as a final note in this entry, the NDP Party has formed a Provincial Government in Alberta, Canada. This is the party, at the federal level under Tommy Douglas, that brought universal health care to Canada. They are not perfect, but I for one wish them many years of success in improving the lot of the majority of Albertans.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 6 May 2015
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 6.9°C
Dewpoint: 4.4°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: N 2 km/h

Quote

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”
551 BC – 479 BC

Cleaning the Closet

The morning coffee is still being prepared on the range, with the camping percolator. That old percolator was another yard sale scoop, many, many years ago. It is a stainless steel model, so is virtually indestructible. It is shiny at the top, and black on the bottom, from being used over campfires. It works very well. At first Attila’s efforts were less than spectacular, but it only took him a few days to get back in the swing of things. More time consuming than a electric coffee maker, coffee making has become a significant addition to Attila’s workday preparations.

Last summer I bumped into a sale on electric coffee makers, a decent brand was on sale for $15.00. I bought one just in case. The just in case is now. The new coffee maker is still in the box, at the little house in the city. All that is needed is to pick it up next time we, or I, visit.

The masonry heater was cured immediately following Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Today, as I sat quietly checking my email, I had my first nosebleed of the season. Sheesh, I wasn’t even doing anything strenuous! This year I am on a vaseline-in-the-nasal-passages campaign, which may or may not help; it was suggested to me by my family doctor. I have always had nosebleeds, since early childhood.

Attila spent the day burning brush from his previous clearing projects, and stacking the newly purchased firewood. He finished both projects by dinner time, we are as ready for winter as we can be!

I spent the day removing everything from my dresser drawers and clothes closet. There are items in there from the 1980s! Some of the clothes will never fit me again. Some of he clothes are just one size too small, so those will be stored in bags with the size written on the bag, in theory they may fit again. Everything has been tried on, and sorted. There is a sizeable stack of clothing to be dropped off at the Salvation Army Store. The place where I donate things has a truly needy clientele, the establishment is totally non-profit, and there are not many items in the place, so I am sure that these items will go to very good homes, where someone will use and appreciate them. The items are in “like new” condition.

There are some items that are are worn or torn or just not suitable in some way for donation. The sound portions of fabric will be salvaged from them. Currently I am planning on making tea towels, hot pads, and curtains from articles that would have been destroyed otherwise.

It has been a mild, wet, and blustery day. That doesn’t discourage the wildlife. As Attila and I were sitting at the table this morning, chatting over breakfast, he spied a Red Fox trotting down the road in front of the house. It was a beautiful looking animal, well proportioned, with a beautiful bushy red coat, and a magnificent red tail. Attila told me he saw a flock of Wild Turkeys at the end of our road, when he was coming home from work on Saturday. Also, a fat Blue Jay has been flying around the house all week, landing in the branches just outside the windows, and a Red Squirrel has been leaping branch to branch, and darting up and down tree trunks for the last few weeks.

My Great Granduncle Sandy:

He was born in 1854 in Grey County, Ontario, and moved with his family, as a child of 12 years, to Humphrey Twp, Parry Sound District around 1871. My Great Grandfather was one year old at that time. The family took a boat from Midland, travelling on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, to Parry Sound District, then travelling inland to settle on the new land grant.

Sandy lived in Parry Sound for the rest of his life. His father, my Great Great Grandfather, took a large land grant, which had a substantial amount of lakefront property in Humphrey. Sandy Plains Road was named after Great Granduncle Sandy.

He married three times, being widowed twice, and fathered 13 children, three of whom died at birth. Sandy passed away in 1935, before I was born.

Fishing was not only a favoured sport in the area since time of first European settlement, it also provided the local population with fresh and healthy food.

Alexander  Sandy  Boag LAWSON

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 2:35 PM EST Sunday 9 November 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 11 km
Temperature: 1.5°C
Dewpoint: -0.3°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: SSE 21 gust 32 km/h

Quote

“You can’t deny laughter. When it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.”
Stephen King
1947

A Thousand Poets In His Head

Yesterday I completed the University self-study course I was taking. I did manage to 100% on most of the quizzes the first time around, and 100% on the less than perfect three of the quizzes the second time round. I learned a few new things, which is always fun!

When we bought the second hand windows for the little house, we bought two for the country house. For the last five years or so we have been seriously discussing the replacement of the master bedroom windows. We priced them at $500 to $600 per window, which would ring in at between $1000 and $1200 before taxes. Understandably, we haven’t chosen to invest that much money in two new windows that we could manage without. But when we had the opportunity to buy two used windows for the master bedroom at $50 per window, well, we could not pass that up.

So after I finished my course, and ate my lunch, I headed out to the screened in porch to clean one of the two “new” windows. It took a few hours, they are very dirty. Dirt can be cleaned, the important aspect of these windows is that they function well, and will help keep the house cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Today I cleaned the second window. They are ready to install, if Attila has time this autumn.

Attila is racing the calendar now, trying to get firewood in from the back of the property before heating season begins. He works toting and splitting and stacking wood every night, for a few hours, as soon as grabs a bite to eat after arriving home from work. We can always purchase more firewood if we have to, but that goes against the grain for Attila. He is determined to fill our woodshed with our own wood.

As Attila was splitting wood in front of the woodshed yesterday evening, our neighbour drove into the drive, he came to offer Attila the use of his wood splitter. He had heard Attila splitting wood and kindly offered to let us use his wood splitter. Attila does not like wood splitters. He would rather use an axe. Since I have only ever used an axe to split wood, I had no opinion on the subject. So Attila thanked him and declined the kind offer. I don’t know, it sounds like it would be easier to use a wood splitter to me, but Attila was firm, having spent a week splitting wood with a splitter at one point, he really did not want to use one ever again.

It was very kind and considerate of our neighbour to make the offer. This is the fellow who ploughed our driveway for us with his riding snow blower, that first winter we lived here, before we even had a proper snow shovel. I have never spoken with this neighbour face-to-face, and in the ten years we have lived here we have only exchanged greetings, a wave in passing, fewer times than I can count on two hands. His wife has never even waved in passing, or spoken to me; once in the last ten years she said hello to Attila when they were both at the Post Office picking up the mail, he said she was friendly enough. There are only three properties on our street that are occupied year round, so this seems cold. Be that as it may, when the chips are down, they are very good neighbours to have.

My lone trip to the little house in the city approaches, it requires careful planning. Things have been added to the list, and gathered together in the living room, ready to pack the car next week. The projects to be undertaken during the visit must be carefully thought out, and all the equipment and supplies needed for each must make the trip with me. Attila hopes to finish the firewood while I am away, I fervently hope he manages it, as I miss his company when he has to get at it, every evening after he comes home from work.

On Wednesday last Attila repaired our little car, and it can now be used for his commute back and forth to work. This is quite a relief! We extended ourselves financially, to install the heat pump at the little house in the city, and it will be quite some time before we catch up. Buying another car at this point would bring hardship. Crisis averted! Bravo Attila!

Our little car is a 1998 model Toyota. We bought it new, in the days when I had a job and could obtain a loan. Over the last 16 years it has required little in the way of repairs, and has run reliably, and inexpensively. It is showing its age now, but we hope to keep it in good mechanical order, and on the road, for another five years or so.

Rummaging around in the cupboard today, I came across an jar of Pear Marmalade that I had canned in 1993. The ring was rusted, so was the lid. No spoilage could be detected though. The contents of the jar, when I washed off the dust, seemed as perfect as the day they had been canned. So I pried the lid off with a loud POP, the seal was still good! That would be 21 years ago that I canned that marmalade, and the seal was still strong and intact. It smelled fine, I gave it a little taste, no deterioration in taste either. Pear Marmalade was an experiment on my part, and as far as I am concerned the recipe is not a keeper! The proof of that, is that I did not keep the recipe! I threw out the Marmalade, not because it had spoiled, but because I do not like it.

Then and there I decided that I will make no more jams or jellies until the very last jar in our possession has been located and consumed. Then I will start again. I should be canning jams and jellies again by next summer.

A few years ago I made Sumac Jelly, and discovered that it is one of my favourites, right up there with Black Currant Jam, and Marmalade. I have a few jars left, which I will enjoy this winter. I also have a few jars of Grape Butter that I made quite a while back, still good though. And of course, the ever popular Strawberry Jam, mine was made with wild strawberries. Attila does not eat jams or jellies, only me. I love a little dollop on toast, or a bagel, or a cracker. It makes a nice little pick me up on a busy day.

Today was another beautiful day! With the windows wide open, all the sounds of nature could be heard. including the sharp, frequent, repetitive clangs, as acorns fell from the tall oak trees that surround us. Those acorns were bouncing high when they hit the deck; I would not want one of them landing on my head! No danger of that inside the house though.

Now, how is this for silly! At lunchtime I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, so I sat down at the computer to look for a recipe, and three and a half hours later I remembered, that I forgot to eat lunch! Life is good.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Friday 26 September 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.0°C
Dewpoint: 13.3°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Humidex: 25

Quote

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
1893 – 1957

Not always true, in my opinion. My dear friend Paul had a photographic memory. When in a state of high emotion, the first words that connected for him were appropriate quotations. It was a knee-jerk reaction, his memory was of such monumental proportions that it overwhelmed him. He had a lot of original thoughts, was a well published writer in his own right. When emotions were high his personal expressions were drowned out, the thousand poets in his head fought for, and won, his voice.

Oh what a beautiful morning…

Oh what a beautiful day!

Attila has five of the six rows of wood stacked in the wood shed. He has been hard at it, that is a LOT of wood. However, he has only one row left to stack in the wood shed for next winter. And then… he begins to stack the following winter’s wood supply, outdoors on skids. This year our heating fuel will be stored and drying by the middle of May, a record for us!

I have been working on my photographs. The new camera is a lot of fun, and I am just learning how it works; mostly by learning how it doesn’t work. I have created two new galleries, you can view them by clicking on the links in the right column, under the heading Galleries. There is the Altered StatesGallery, which includes a few photos that I have altered with the various settings in the graphics software. There is also the Natural Gallery, which includes photos that have not been significantly altered by graphics software, except for some minor colour and light adjustments.

I began by downloading and installing a few gallery plugins for WordPress. The first was awkward to use, and the results were unexpected, and unattractive. The second held promise, the demo galleries it created were beautiful. It was miserable to install, and then it would not display the image file. After hours and hours spent in the attempt to make these plugins work as desired, I gave up.

I ended up using Graphic Converter for the Mac to create the galleries. Then I moved them into Dreamweaver and began to edit and organize the files. It took a bit of doing, but the result is that the galleries are uploaded and linked to this blog. The pages are independent of WordPress, but at the bottom of each page in the gallery there is a link back to this journal.

The barn photograph project is bigger than I had anticipated. I already have 35 photographs of barns ready for the web. However, about half of the files remain unexamined and in need of preparation for the web. These images were shot through a glass car window, in a vehicle travelling at about 90 kilometres per hour. There are a few photos of blue sky, pure blue sky, others of blurred gravel or pavement, and these need to be deleted. Not the best shooting conditions, but Attila was having no part of stopping with great frequency, on the trip home from our little house in the city. At the best of times it is a four hour drive, which is quite long enough. So, the photos were taken from the moving car, as we travelled home.

I have been reading academic articles on the subject of barns, and not finding them terribly helpful. Eventually the method to organize the photographs will come to me. Until then it is best to just keep editing, and poking around the net looking for reliable sources of information.

The beauty of a wireless internet connection is that I can sit out in the screened in porch and work. There is constant, and joyous, distraction from passing breezes, birds, Attila chatting from over at the wood shed, and a steady parade of vehicles passing as weekend visitors set out on their journey home.

It has been another fine day we have gotten ourselves into!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

25C
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 24.6°C
Dewpoint: 0.7°C
Humidity: 20%
Wind: SW 18 km/h

Quote

And to further the “we” that means “me” theme:

“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”
Harry S Truman
1884 – 1972