2016 Retrospective

Although the calendar year is a mere human artifact, it is one that is familiar to me, and so has meaning in my life. It is time to say farewell to 2016.

A year in retrospect, the highlights.

At the end of the years I always think of A Tale Of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Who is to know what will come, I think to myself. How will we know until the end what was the best, and what was the worst, I ask myself.

The year began with Attila starting on regular night shift at his job. This was a big improvement over working rotating shifts, as he had done since our move to Mist Cottage the previous September. By May he had been offered a promotion to a position that was day shift, and allowed weekends off. This was the first time since we have been together that he has had weekends off, it felt like a miracle, and it still does.

Early winter also saw my Mom facing cancer treatment. There was worry involved for those of us who love her. Not a whine or a whimper escaped her though. She underwent radiation therapy with incredible courage, in her typical indomitable way. And now at the end of a very long year for my Mom, she is cancer free, and recovering from the severe effects of radiation treatment. The side effects of the radiation treatment were severe, and are ongoing. Mom seems to have made her peace with the reality, and has resumed almost all of her previous activities, and is a going concern once more. Sometimes I am in awe of my Mom.

Mom 1945 6 Parry Sound High School picture My Mom at the age of 15, cropped from a school picture, at the end of the second world war.

In the spring of 2016 Attila and I found and purchased the Rideau Camp. We spent every spare minute working there, clearing brambles, brush, dead trees, logs, and garbage. We built a fire pit and a compost toilet system. It was easily the happiest spring of my life, and Attila feels the same way about it.

DSCF8642 This is the Rideau Camp at the end of May, 2016. At this point we had owned the property for seven weeks, the brambles that covered the flat area between the gravel and the wood pile had been cleared and burned by then. We were preparing the camp fire pit, and enjoying picnics every weekend at the Camp.

We also purchased Iris the trailer during the spring. She is a 1976/7 Triple E Surfside trailer, in reasonable condition. We enjoyed camping at our Rideau Camp, and at our Ancestral Camp.

TrailerWEB Iris, on March 5, when we picked her up. It snowed that day!

Also in the early spring we demolished the garden shed at Mist Cottage, and Attila replaced it with a solidly built shed. This project was to take only a few weeks, but the summer had other plans for our time, and it was finally completed in late October. Attila also installed a dishwasher in August, and I must say it is game changer in the kitchen, we love it!

DSCF9742 The renewed Garden Shed, ready for duty at last on October 9, solid and roomy and hopefully mouse proof!

NewImage The new dishwasher. Our counter space is limited, you can see all of it in the photo, and it makes a huge difference when the dirty dishes are piled in the appliance and not on the counters. It also takes little time to wash and air dry the dishes, which are very easy to put away in such a small kitchen.

In late spring Sunny and Sky were born, 7 weeks premature. They were in NICU for six weeks, and Sky had a few touch and go moments. They came home with Terra and Lares, began to thrive, and are beautiful babies. One of Sky’s middle names is Robert, my brother Carl’s middle name, which is just a coincidence as the babie’s middle names are all after Lares side of the family, but it gives me comfort nevertheless.

FullSizeRender Sunny (left) and Sky (right) at 5 months (Gestational 3 months).

We had our first ever summer vacation last July. It was an event we anticipated with great excitement. It just goes to show you that you never know what is around the corner. After spending a few days at our Ancestral Camp, we returned home, then received the news that my brother had suffered a massive heart attack and lay unconscious in a hospital in Toronto. He experienced cardiac arrest for 15 minutes before being resuscitated, and never regained consciousness; my Mom, and all of my siblings were by his side through the long days of hope and disappointment. His funeral was held weeks later. Losing my brother was a profound experience for me, we were babies together, I feel his absence to the core of my being. Carl was an organ donor, and saved three lives.

LittleBrother1970sAtGrannys My brother Carl, at Granny and Grandpa’s house. He returned to spend time at the house almost every year, and that is where we experienced our reunion the summer before last.

By August my blood pressure was high, very high, and would not come down, even after quadrupling my medication. I began a round of doctors appointments at the walk-in-clinic (after more than a year, we still can’t find a family doctor), and had a nuclear stress test on my heart (normal!). The levels slowly lowered, but are still in the “high blood pressure” range. In September I adopted a low-sodium, low-sugar diet, and began taking Apple Cider Vinegar before each meal, which helped. By October I had decided to reduce the ineffective and redundant medication dosage back to the original low dosage, which made no difference at all, but I did find that discontinuing the medication resulted in my blood pressure skyrocketing again, so went back to taking the low dosage. The dietary changes are an intense experience, because something like a pickle and piece of bread could put me over my daily limit for sodium. I also found that food without sodium or sugar is not all that interesting, so that as soon as hunger is satisfied, I stop eating. I no longer eat for pleasure, because it is not pleasurable, just necessary. There has been a slight weight loss.

The most significant feature of 2016 has been that we live at Mist Cottage, and that Attila has regular working hours and weekends off. These two situations are game changers, and have improved our experience of life immeasurably.

It was a year of much joy and deep sorrow.

P.S. I invite you to share the highlights of your 2016, would love to hear them!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-4°C
Date: 7:05 AM EST Saturday 31 December 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.3°C
Dew point: -6.3°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: E 18 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
Visibility: 3 km

Quote

“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

The Chimney Sweep

Today is the first day of spring as far as Attila and I are concerned! The sun is shining, and the temperature is rising above the freezing point where it landed during the night. Heating season is officially over, and the masonry heater has been allowed to rest. We will still build the occasional fire in the cast iron wood stove downstairs, to chase off any chill, but that won’t be necessary very often.

To celebrate this first day of spring, my cleaning project has begun in earnest. It begins with the role of chimney sweep. What a job!!! Five full coal buckets were filled and dumped in the ash pile outside. Each time fine ash billowed, as it came out of the heater, shovelful by shovelful. It took the removal of one whole bucket to reach the grate on which the wood sits to burn. Then two buckets were removed from the cavity above the opening for the ash dump; no wonder it was blocked. Once the ash dump was cleared, the next step was to remove a bucket of ash from each of the back clean-out, and the side clean-out. Then the shop vac picked up stray ash in the firebox and both clean-outs. By the time all of this was accomplished I was pitch black to the elbows, covered with a fine ash dust, and ready to remove my blackened clothing and hop into the shower.

The glass in the fireplace door was then cleaned with wet newspaper dipped in a wee bit of ash. This is a miracle cleaner for glass fireplace doors; it leaves the glass spotless.

With the drywall sanding done, and the fireplace cleaned, there was nothing to generate more fine dust in the living area. It was time for serious deep dusting, and cleaning the blinds. I hate cleaning blinds, and will never again use them as window treatments, no matter how much sense they make in functional terms.

The deep dusting began with the corner entertainment unit, which took several hours to disassemble and clean. The sink full of warm soapy water was black and murky by the time the job was done. Heating with wood has a real down side, and that is the ash. Then the storage unit along the wall was tackled, with a fresh sink of warm soapy water, and again that turned black and murky by the time the job was done.

Tomorrow the plan is to move along to the computer stand and window area, then to the dining room, then the kitchen, and then last, the blinds. That is my week of projects. Also on my list is sanding the deck railing, staining the deck railing, touching up the stain on the deck boards, touching up the paint on the siding along the deck, removing the huge planter from the deck, and removing the plastic window coverings from the screened in porch along with all the staples that held them on.

As I cross things off the list, more get added to the bottom of the list; it seems a bottomless list!

Attila has felled a dozen or more trees and is in the process of sectioning the logs and stacking them as firewood. He is also installing new trim in the recently drywalled hallway, and around the four doorways in the hallway. Also on his list for tonight is leaf blowing, removing the dead leaves from the front garden and around the woodpile. When it gets dark outside he will be back in to have a nice hot bath before turning in for the night.

My second cousin ML, who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, is coming to Ontario. It is a sad journey that she will be making, to a funeral, with her partner who lost his sister. His sister and her husband lived on a river island in Northern Ontario, and were travelling back to their home from the Marina after Christmas shopping, by small boat in November, when she and her husband went missing. They were found in March, in their boat with their Christmas shopping, frozen in the ice. No one knows the details of what happened, but at least the family can grieve, knowing what became of their loved ones. Our thoughts are with the family members this weekend, as they gather to say their farewells.

Harriet and Hogan visited on Sunday, to drop off our annual supply of maple syrup. We try to purchase it from a farm near London, Ontario, as we like their syrup, and they are reasonably priced. The maple syrup where we live is very expensive, costing about 50% more, and not nearly so nice, in our opinion.

We had a nice visit. They were up to drop off their ATVs, and to do a spring check up on their cottage. All is well at the cottage, it is always nice when there are no surprises. They even had a chance to drive by our new camp, which we will have possession of in two weeks time (just in time for the beginning of black fly season, I have my nets ready, LOL!).

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Monday 5 May 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 12.5°C
Dewpoint: 0.7°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: W 17 gust 30 km/h

Quote

“You have to accept the plan and realize that if you slip, and you might, you can’t use that as a reason to give up or stop.”
Jennifer Hudson