First Snow!

I think this is the first video clip I have ever created to post on this site! I am a complete beginner when it comes to videos, and this is the result of taking a video with the iPad this morning, then using iMovie to edit it a bit, save it, upload it, and place in this entry. I watched about 45 minutes of videos on how to use iMovie before getting this result. The beginner iMovie youtube videos move way too fast and don’t cover the basics very well. I will be searching for a video made by someone with a bit of instructional ability, not just technical ability! Baby steps!
ANYWAY, this was our snow this morning, so pretty.

It is snowing here this morning, lots and lots of snow. It is melting too, but enough is falling out the sky to accumulate significantly on the branches of the tree branches outside my windows, about 4 inches so far.

I love the first snowfall of the season! It is pretty. But beyond the visual is the feel of the soft white blanket that now surrounds my little house. The busy brashness of late autumn sounds has been muted. White brings sharp visual contrast to the landscape. I can see paths in the snow, where squirrels and rabbits have made their way in our yard. That is on the outside of me.

On the inside of me is a deep feeling of containment and contentment. I am cozy here in my little house, warm enough, well fed enough (understatement), and peacefully occupied enough to love where I am. The first snow always brings into sharp focus how wonderful it is to have a peaceful home to live in. I stepped out onto the back porch this morning, to take out the compost bucket, and to bring in some washed and dried plastic bags that were hanging on the clothesline, and oh what a pleasure to breath deeply that air, so sharp and crisp and biting. And then, what a delight to retreat back into the warmth of this little house.

These feelings of wonder at the first snow never get old. They return every year in late autumn, when the world first turns white. It is amazing to me that I feel this way every year, despite having experienced late winter impatience for it to melt away.

The first snow marks a turning point in the seasons, a natural turning point, dictated by mother nature herself, and it is delightful.

There is another turning point at this time of year however, that is not so delightful, nor is it natural in any way. It is a corporate interest turning point that occurs here in Ontario, where we have Time-Of-Use monitoring and billing for the electricity we use. It is the perfect opportunity to increase prices, and inflict restrictions on the domestic population of Ontario, Canada.

On November first we were switched to winter rates and time schedules. The rates have increased of course. And what this also means is that I must do my daily tasks that use electricity either before 7:00 a.m. in the morning, or after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. In other words, the most economical hydro is largely available overnight, when I sleep. This is very, very inconvenient, and changes the way my whole day is structured.

There is a period of mid-peak pricing from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., when I will undertake tasks that I feel just cannot be done during the 12 nighttime hours when the electricity is least expensive. But I try to avoid doing that, because it will affect our monthly billing.

It seems Hydro One is determined to make the short cold winter days as dark and dreary as they possibly can.

Heating is our priority, and it is a service I do not want to cut back on significantly, despite the government urging seniors to turn their heat down! The government paid for ads a few years ago, showing an elderly woman wrapped in a blanket, turning down her thermostat, like that was the RIGHT thing to do. I hope the genius who thought up that ad, and the one who chose to run with it, have severe arthritis in their older years, and find themselves wrapped in blankets in chilly homes, doing the RIGHT thing. Heartless campaign.

I’ve been busy. One of the things that has come to my attention is that I experience significant pain if I try to get down on the floor, or back up from the floor. Arthritis is not my friend. All of my life I have been physically nimble, hale and hearty. Age is having none of it! So I did a bunch of research on techniques for getting down on the floor, and up from the floor, and have been practicing. And the practice is paying off, after a few days of cleaning shelves that can only be reached if one is down on the floor, I can now get down, and up again, without experiencing pain. I still forget I am not young anymore, and without thinking try to get down, or up, as I had whole life through, for decades and decades. But pain is a determined reminder that adaptation is required.

On Tuesday I made a loaf of 100% whole-wheat low-sodium bread in the bread machine. The whole loaf contained only 1200 mg of sodium. I added dried mango and dried cranberries to it. Wow, it was so good. I love bread with dried fruit in it.

When I was a single Mom on a tight time and financial budget, a loaf of bread with mixed fruit in it was my only special treat. I even dreamed about that loaf of bread at night, watching the slices fall as I opened the bag. I love breads and pastries. Yesterday, I could not resist having my homemade bread with butter for breakfast, again for lunch, and as a bedtime snack. And I had it for breakfast again this morning, and again at lunch. I know I will not want to eat anything else until that loaf of bread is all gone, and it won’t be long. Well, it is best fresh, right?

I was so in love with the bread I made, that I decided I needed more dried fruit in the house, with which to make it. Out came the dehydrator, to dry the Gala apples purchased at the grocery store this past week. They are Ontario apples, and on sale at the moment for $1.00 a pound. They were peeled, cored, sliced thin, then spread out on the racks. I ran the dehydrator at 140F last night after 7:00 p.m. when the hydro cost dropped to off-peak pricing, and turned the heat down to 90F for the night, to let it run overnight. It seemed best to keep the temperature down when the unit was not being supervised. It was turned off this morning at 6:58 a.m.. The apples are not dry yet, a little rubbery, so they aren’t done. Tonight the dehydrator will be turned on to 140F again at 7::00 p.m. and will run again all night if need be.

The apples cores and peels are now in the crock turning themselves into Apple Cider Vinegar, which needs to be stirred daily to prevent mold.

Last Friday the pressure canner was put into service again, this time to can six 500-ml jars of Taco Soup. These are intended for my lunches, on those days when I am suddenly hungry and just can’t figure out what to eat. Since there were no empty jars left, the pressure canner was cleaned and back into storage it went. But Attila, upon finding out that the jars were all in service, picked up another dozen jars when he was out and about. So there will be more canned instant meals on the way soon.

Six jars of Taco Soup canned, ready for quick lunches.
On the plate are seeds from our Jack-O-Lantern, a pie pumpkin, drying for spring planting.
Pie Pumpkins are amazing, who knew!
I have always purchased field pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns, and then cooked, pureed, froze, and baked with them. They were perfectly acceptable. BUT why use a field pumpkin if you can have a Pie Pumpkin. This was the first Pie Pumpkin I had ever had, and wow, the cooked puree is sweet and not in the least bit watery. It is significantly superior to any commercially canned pumpkin pie filling I have ever purchased.

The cabbages were first harvested in September. Each stem that was left started to grow new little cabbages. Attila harvested them on the weekend, and now we have a 1 liter jar of sauerkraut fermenting in the basement. Hopefully this batch will be a success!

These small cabbages, on one stem, were harvested from our garden over the weekend. They sure don’t look like much, do they! These all grew from the “stump” left when the first crop was harvested, a second crop on the same plants.
Here is what the little cabbages looked like when the outer leaves had been removed. they look pretty good!
The cabbages have been cut into thin slices and are now ready to be made into sauerkraut. This cabbage is sweet and crunchy, so good. Not really what might be expected based on their appearance when harvested.

Worldly

-1°C
Date: 11:47 AM EST Thursday 7 November 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.3°C
Dew point: -3.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: NNW 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 16 km

Weather

Quote

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust
1871 – 1922

Blowing Snow

There are theories about chaos, official theories, well thought out theories, exploitable theories. But chaos as I know it on a first-name-basis, is not subject to any theory. Of course, I try, I really try, to fit it into some kind of a manageable box, where I can view it from the outside, comfortably. And sometimes I actually achieve containment, but only briefly, it is temporary.

Awareness brings more questions than it does answers.

I am reminded, constantly, that we humans are a mystery, as often to ourselves as to others.

The world was white when I got up this morning at 5:00 a.m. Winter has arrived here at Mist Cottage, our first snow. When Attila left for work, the tire tracks left in his wake were deep. The snow plow passed by at 7:45 a.m. I wish now I had asked Attila where the snow shovel was stored in the chaos of the garage, before he left for work this morning. I didn’t think of it! He would have grabbed it for me and set it where I could reach it.

Just after I wrote the above paragraph, about the snow, I heard loud noises outside the house. There was our neighbour with his snowblower, clearing out the end of our driveway, and a path almost to the door! This is the fellow that wanted people in the neighbourhood to show up at the town Council meetings to protest the rental unit development proposals, for a private road to go in at the end of our cramped dead-end street. We showed up at every pertinent meeting to show support, because we value the community spirit on this street. The community lost, the developer and mayor (stated conflict of interest) won, approval was given, environmental protections were altered with approved rezoning. I think the community spirit on our street might survive the new development, even though 80 additional vehicles squeezing up and down the narrow street will make it very congested.

After the driveway was cleared, I bundled up and went out to the garage to look for the snow shovel. There it was, on the other side of mountains of loose stuff that was stacked high. Determined, I waded through and over the pile, careful to find firm footing on the floor, which I could feel but could not see. I managed to grab a corner of the shovel, reaching to the point where I was almost lying down, and drag it across the mountain of stuff, then throw it over the mountain of stuff to where I could pick it up, from the path cleared to the door. Then it was time to extricate myself from the mountain of stuff, which was accomplished with huffing and puffing. The shovel was then used to clear the snow immediately in front of the door, and around the mailbox, so that the mailperson could get to it without any issues.

The roads were awful, icy, slushy, and slippery. The snow continued to fall. Tank lumbered slowly through all this, paying no attention at all to the impatient drivers behind her, who wanted to drive faster than the speed limit in these conditions. They have Tank to thank for their safe passage through town!

After arriving home from the Post Office, mission accomplished, Tank was parked at the end of the driveway, which had been cleared by the neighbour. The snow shovel was fetched from the garage and within a half an hour almost all of the rest of the snow was cleared, from around where Tank had been parked, and around Iris the trailer.

Not an altogether unpleasant experience getting my chore done this morning, thanks to our neighbour’s good will, and his snow blower.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Tuesday 12 December 2017
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -7.1°C
Dew point: -8.9°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind:
NE 21 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 2 km

Quote

“You’re dealing with the demon of external validation. You can’t beat external validation. You want to know why? Because it feels sooo good.”
Northern Exposure, Gran Prix, 1994

Winter Arrived!

I have been thinking about Icarus, a person who reached his potential in a manner of speaking, an individual who followed his dream, soared with the eagles, believed in himself, dared to break the rules. I often wonder about the advice given by those who were positioned in life to catch the right updrafts, and were blessed with the right sort of wings; I wonder at their assumption that the ingredients to their rise is due to their own desires and determination. I guess death, who so far as I know none of us escapes, will provide them with their Icarus moment.

On Saturday Attila and I headed out to the Rideau Camp, after a leisurely morning, lingering over our morning coffee. The weather was beautiful, warm, windy, and sunny, it would have seemed a lovely day even if it had arrived in July or August. Within an hour of our arrival we were down to our short sleeved shirts, and even then felt hot when we exerted ourselves. Attila stacked logs, I burned brush, and from time to time we both sat enjoying the roar of wind gusts and the rattle of bare branches. We knew it was the end of the fair weather season, so before we left we stacked our chairs, tipped the picnic table on its side so that the snow would slide off it, and arranged all the logs and branches for future burning where they could easily dry after the snow melts come spring. Reluctantly we left for home as the sun began to disappear behind the clouds, in the late afternoon. We drove under increasingly cloudy skies, through very strong winds. Soon it began to rain, just a few drops on the windshield at first, which turned into a downpour as we approached our driveway.

On Sunday morning winter arrived with a flourish. The temperature hovered around freezing then began to fall, and a light rain fell through the early morning. The trip to the grocery store around noon included walking across a very windy parking lot, hunkered down against the falling temperature. We came out of the grocery store to find vehicles recently arrived from north of town, covered with snow. Shortly after we arrived home the snow began to fall here, at first mixed with rain, but soon turning to small white flakes whipping across the view out the window. For me this is the first snow of the season, because it is accumulating for the first time, rather than melting on contact.

Cooking without using salt is going to take some getting used to. Today’s menu includes a lasagna pasta casserole, made with macaroni, meat sauce, and soft cheeses. After reading the label on the can of spaghetti sauce, it was shocking to discover that the small can of sauce contained 3699 mg of sodium. Clearly the contents could not be used for my low sodium meat sauce. So the content of the can was divided into three lots, two frozen in jars for future use, and one lot added to the meat sauce, bringing the total sodium content of the sauce to 1233 mg of sodium. A can of sodium free canned tomatoes were added as well. The recipe will probably provide us with two meals, which is four hearty servings, so that each serving will contain 308 mg of sodium, which is acceptable for a meal. Finding a canned tomato sauce with a low-sodium content is on my to-do list.

Attila spent Sunday reorganizing the garage. We will be using the garage door as our main entrance through the winter months, and right now one has to navigate a tunnel of junk to get into the house. The front door opens directly into our small living space, and when it is opened in the winter, the heat is sucked out the door within seconds. The garage entrance is sheltered, and the basement is not heated, so that not nearly as much heat is lost when that entrance is used. The other advantage to not using the front door during the winter is that snow need only be removed when it gets deep enough to obstruct opening the door, which is not very often.

Drying laundry on a clothesline during a snowstorm does not work well, as Attila discovered yesterday. The clothes were covered in snow when he brought them back in. We have two very handy folding drying racks, they are set up in the hallway, and his clothes should be dry by morning. He cannot dry them in the dryer, because he works with lubricating oils, which end up penetrating his coveralls to soil his clothing. Those clothes have to be hung up to dry after they are washed.

My Sunday was busy, sorting through the “stuff” in the second bedroom, a room where everything we don’t know what to do with ends up, and there is a lot of that kind of stuff, still. Four boxes of things to give away have been packed and sit in the middle of the bedroom floor. Also, the summer shoes were stowed away in a tote, to be stored in the basement for a few months until the white weather is discontinued. Still, things don’t seem any roomier in here!! More must go.

My MacBook Air has been giving me grief the last few days. It suddenly dies. The battery has been in need of servicing for quite some time, but I haven’t bothered to find an authorized service center to do the job, as it will cost around $200, and I am just fine using the power adapter to keep it connected to an electrical source at all times. There seems to be some sort of issue with it, so I might just break down and take it in for servicing, or then again, I might think about replacing the computer, as it is a 2012 model, no longer on warranty, and will eventually be unable to keep up with operating system updates.

The iMac is a 2007 model, and is now old enough that it cannot accept the new operating system updates, it will hold forever with El Capitan. It seems slower and slower to us all the time, as it struggles to use its limited resources to cope with the increasingly demanding modern digital world. It still succeeds though, as our primary entertainment centre, and work horse when long repetitive tasks need to be performed.

This morning Attila left for work in a dark, snowy world. It was snowing quite hard, and the wind was gusting at 70 km/hr, he was in for quite a journey to work. Having seen the weather report last night, he arose earlier than usual this morning and left for work earlier than usual, to contend with the driving conditions. As he was headed out the door I noticed he was wearing only a light jacket, and quickly fetched his winter parka, he might need it! We tend to watch out for each other in this way.

Today is not a day for walking! The snow plow did go by around 7 a.m., leaving the roads level, but slippery in spots. This town does not plow the sidewalks, so that one must walk on the road unless able to trek through rutted ice and snow. I originally tore the meniscus in my knee trying to walk on the sidewalks here in town, so I walk on the road. My walking season will now be sporadic, and it will be challenging to get enough exercise for the next three to four months. Time to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes, and keep doing housework until the dinger rings.

The senior’s organization here offers recreational programs at a reasonable cost. However, attending a class for an hour a week is a poor substitute for a daily walk. There are walking programs in the high school gym, but again, twice a week isn’t enough to keep fit, and I loath the social aspect of attending these sorts of confined opportunities to move about. Attila suggested a treadmill, but I looked around the entire house, which I can do standing in the living room, it is very small here, and wondered, where would we put it?!?!?

We have been here at Mist Cottage for just over a year now (September 10th was our one year anniversary), and although we have donated almost two truckloads of possessions to our children, the Women’s Shelter, the Men’s Shelter, and a Homeless Shelter, we are still living in a cluttered space. Every day I try to sort through something, to either organize or purge. Settling in here is like peeling an onion, so many layers! In theory, at some point, we will find the innermost layer.

Autumn on the Frontenac Arch, a feature of the Canadian Shield, and more specifically, our Rideau Camp. When we took possession of this property last April, there were two large pumpkins, an empty beer bottle, and a dead potted Chrysanthemum sitting under this pine tree. By the end of April animals had eaten every last bit of the pumpkins, we used the soil from the dead plant as fill in a low spot beside the drive, and left the beer bottle in situ. An empty beer or liquor bottle seems to be a theme when we acquire a piece of land here in Ontario. We found many empty beer bottles on the property at the country house, some of them broken. We found empty liquor bottles at the Ancestral Camp in Parry Sound, intact and dating from the turn of the 20th century. We found empty beer bottles in the dilapidated garden shed here at Mist Cottage, and fittingly, there was the empty beer bottle at the Rideau Camp.
Autumn 2016 Frontenac Arch DSCF0237

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-2°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Sunday 20 November 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -2.4°C
Dew point: -4.1°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: WNW 28 gust 40 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 1 km

SNOWFALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-4°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Monday 21 November 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -4.1°C
Dew point: -6.6°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: W 32 gust 44 km/h
Wind Chill: -12
Visibility: 4 km

Quote

“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
[Done! ergo Tech Neck]

Ray Bradbury
1920 – 2012

First Snow

I follow a few online groups that allow members to offer free items, and to request free items. To date I have not needed any of the items on offer, but you never know. Why do I continue to follow these groups if I have nothing to offer, and need nothing? Well, for one thing, they amuse me. People mostly offer free items like egg cartons, broken bathroom scales, or a half a bag of sand. People mostly request things like beds, exercise bikes, washing machines, computers, or cell phones. I find it hilarious that the items people are giving away are so very divergent from what people seem to want free of charge. And of course, I just might find a recycled gem in there, something we could truly use, and used will do.

I am sitting in my new comfortable rocking chair gazing out of the living room window. there is a stiff breeze, and it is snowing. It is a light snow, which will probably melt on contact. Our first snow of the season. I really must press Attila to get Iris the trailer positioned so that snow can be easily removed around her, and to move the snow blower into the new garden shed. Moving the snow blower involves removing the garage door to get it out, so it is a project that will take a whole evening, or half a day. Better to get it done now than wait until we are desperate to use it!

I continue to drastically cut my sodium intake, it has been almost a week and there has been no affect on my blood pressure at all, it is still just as high as it was when I first became concerned about it. I have also begun 20 minutes of vigorous house cleaning every day, a period where I don’t stop moving, and am up and down stairs quite a bit. I used to these tasks intermittently, now I am doing everything in a cluster of activity. This has no perceivable effect on my blood pressure levels. Splitting the high cholesterol pills and taking the half dose daily has similarly no perceivable affect on my high blood pressure. The quadrupled dosage of blood pressure lowering medication has had no perceivable affect on my blood pressure levels. I can feel whatever the problem is as a pressure in my head. I will be taking myself back to the walk-in clinic very soon.

I remember when my Grandmother began having strokes, before there were effective medications to control high blood pressure. She was advised to make what the “experts” now call “lifestyle changes”, like walking every day. She did all of this, but she continued to suffer from small strokes, and eventually had a massive stroke that took her life. This condition is hereditary, it is serious, and I will resist being sent home by medical people to alter my lifestyle, when my lifestyle has been, and is, relatively healthy to begin with. My Granny led a wonderfully healthy lifestyle, she just pulled a short straw in the genetic draw, and it looks like I might have as well.

Other than the snow, it has been an entirely unremarkable day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Thursday 27 October 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.1°C
Dew point: 2.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“Follow the grain in your own wood.”
Howard Thurman

First Snow Autumn 2014

The week has been eventful.

Our national media community has been rocked by revelations of violent behaviour towards women, by one of Canada’s prominent talk show hosts, Jian Ghomeshi. Plenty of news about him everywhere in the Canadian media, so I do not want to discuss him here. Also, the Ebola virus continues to spread, and people in Africa continue to die, there is no way to tell if this issue will impact all humans on the planet, or if it will be contained, another issue well covered by the media, so that I do not want to discuss it here. I mention these two events only to mark them in my personal journal, this journal, as an acknowledgement of the larger context in which I live.

Closer to home, the real estate listing for our country house expired yesterday. The realtor called to inquire if we wanted to extend the listing, we did not. She came by later in the day to remove the signs and we had a brief and friendly chat. She said it was the quietest year for home sales she has ever experienced. She is retirement age, and has been selling real estate in this area for more than three decades. That puts our experiences, or lack of of it, into perspective.

We decided to let the listing expire for the winter at least. Heating with wood is hard work, and messy. Most of our lower floor windows and some of our main floor windows will be boarded up for the winter, so that we can afford to heat the place. Both of these things do not make for an appealing home for sale. Someone with a higher income would enjoy this house, using the electric heating system, the masonry heater for pleasure firings, and not having to worry about the extra heat loss from the beautiful windows.

Yesterday was cold and wet and blustery. I fear the weather was very unpleasant for little trick or treaters as they made their visits. There were no trick or treaters within miles of us, and I only remembered it was Hallowe’en because Terra sent me a picture of herself, in costume for her workplace.

This morning is much the same, cold and blustery, with one addition, our first snow. It fell during the night, leaving a light dusting on the ground and above, where it was underlined as far as the eye could see by tree branches.

The First Snow: Autumn 2014
First snow fall 2014

I spent the yesterday morning helping out at a local business for a few hours. It is quite a change in activity level, going from being sequestered in the living area of our house for weeks, then working at mild physical activity. I was exhausted! So much so that I went to bed early, and slept in until almost 6:00 a.m., well past the the time when I usually awaken.

As for our plans for today when Attila gets home from work, domestic tasks are at the forefront. Attila will board up the windows for the winter. We have thawed a turkey and will have a turkey dinner with dressing and all the trimmings for dinner.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Saturday 1 November 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -0.9°C
Dewpoint: -2.9°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: NNW 17 gust 28 km/h
Wind Chill: -6

Quote

“The world is round; it has no point.”
Adrienne E. Gusoff