The Little Red Fox

Friday, August 25, 2017, Mist Cottage

Sitting here this morning looking for information about hooking up a 30 amp RV electrical system to a generator. It isn’t straightforward. I found a connector that looks like it will work, but I can’t run to the local Canadian Tire to pick it up, it is in stock, because Tank is at the garage having an issue with the brakes fixed. It is too far to walk to the Canadian Tire store. The same item is available at Amazon.ca for a lower price, we have Prime, so delivery is two day and free.

So it occurs to me that Amazon Prime almost replaces the need for a vehicle to do the shopping. Vehicles cost a small fortune to keep on the road, considering the initial cost, maintenance, licensing, fuel, insurance… Amazon Prime costs less than $100.

Our vehicles are used for much more than shopping of course, so this is pure conjecture, it wouldn’t work for our present lifestyle. But were we housebound this could work for us.

I will hold off my purchase of an RV connector until Tank is back on the road, or Attila comes home from work with the car. The advantage to the local Canadian Tire is that if the connector is not the product we need, we can return it easily. Also, I like the staff at the local Canadian Tire, every interaction there has been pleasant over the years, not always smooth, but always pleasant.

Which puts me in mind of a recent purchase we made at the local Shopper’s Drug Mart. This is the second truly unpleasant experience we have had there, and I suspect it is due to the management. People who aren’t treated well can’t help but pass that along to the customers.

We have spent a lot of time at the Rideau Camp this summer, and have been loving it! Our first season at our Camp was just last year. We didn’t camp there as often as we have been this summer, which means that meal planning for our stays has become more complex. I can no longer eat the wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches cooked over an open fire, the sodium in bread and cheese is unacceptable. Quick canned items, like soup, or beans, don’t work, again the sodium levels are unacceptable. When I was younger camping meant a trip to the grocery store for easy to prepare items, but all that has changed, as now I must carefully watch my intake of sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and my allergen.

Experiments with quick and easy foods is an ongoing project now. Overnight oatmeal sounds interesting, and to that end one minute oats were on the grocery list this week. Since peaches are in season, two Giant Oven Pancakes were baked last night, sectioned, and stored in the refrigerator for quick suppers for me over the next few days. I love Giant Oven Pancake smothered in fresh sliced peaches, no sugar added.

Recovery from the dental work has been taking some time, still requiring that I eat soft foods. Of all the health issues I have encountered in my life, problems in my mouth are the most exhausting. The fatigue that was plaguing me has subsided, but my face still hurts if I talk a lot. Fortunately, I can type a lot instead. As Attila pointed out, when you have an issue with something in your head, it is very hard to ignore it. Thank goodness my issue is temporary. Hugs to anyone dealing with chronic issues in the mouth or head!

Saturday, August 26, Rideau Camp

Tank needed a visit to the garage, so on Wednesday night we both drove to the garage, dropped her off, and drove home in the car. She had a leaking axle seal, which had leaked oil on our trip to the Traditional Camp, which burned and smoked. So in she went. We picked her up yesterday afternoon, the part was $20, the labour was $220, which we considered to be fair. We really like this mechanic!

Our departure for the Rideau Camp was somewhat delayed by Tank’s absence, and the need to go and get her. We took our time packing, and arrived at the Camp at about 8:30 p.m.. Usually at that hour of the evening the mosquitoes are at their peak, but there were none. We unpacked, played a game of Cribbage, turned out the lights and turned in for the night.

Last summer’s vacation was not pleasant. It was our first week long vacation in over 20 years. This year we plan on spending a week in the autumn at the Rideau Camp. Since there are no extra expenses involved, as there would be if we were to camp in Iris in camp grounds for a week, or even more extravagantly stay in motels or at a resort, we decided to indulge in a luxury. We purchased a small, portable, quiet, generator. This will allow us to use the computer while camping, at either the Rideau Camp or the Traditional Camp. It will allow us to run all of the features in Grace The Trailer, except the air conditioning, which would require a second small generator connected to the first small generator for extra power. We don’t anticipate needing air conditioning for our short summer stays in Grace The Trailer, so we did not purchase the second small generator.

I am typing this entry on the computer. My laptop no longer has a functioning battery, which died about a year ago. The MacBook Air will only operate when connected to an electrical outlet, so that it could not be used while camping. The generator enables me to use the computer while camping, which is a very big bonus in my opinion. We don’t use cell phones, so that all of my data is stored locally on my computer, I don’t use the Cloud for serious storage. Now that the computer will work while camping, I can save the information related to the local areas around our Camps, so that we have a directory of the businesses, and local places of interest, at our fingertips.

The biggest bonus of the generator though, at this point, is the lights. We don’t mind the small, inexpensive, low lumen lighting that we use while camping. But now that we have experienced staying in Iris with an electrical service, we are spoiled. Having lights at night is wonderful, it makes a terrific difference. We can use the lights at night as well, on battery power, knowing that during the day we can recharge the battery using the generator.

In my dreams, we install a pump in the deep well at the Rideau Camp, and the generator would supply the power needed to pump the water, and to use it in Grace The Trailer. This is something we won’t be doing in the short term though. If we live to enjoy retirement together, we might want to spend our summers at our Camps, then the investment in a working well would make sense. For now we fill containers with water at home, and take the empty containers back with us, when we are staying at our off-grid camps.

Today Attila is removing three large stumps that prevent us from easily turning Tank around in the open area of the Camp. Until now Attila has been backing Tank out the driveway. After today he will turn Tank around in the clearing, ready to be packed when it is time to go home.

I wrote the words below with a pen on a scrap of paper this morning, before the sun rose, while Attila was sleeping.

A little red fox ran towards the trailer this morning, coming up the drive at a steady pace. She veered around the trailer, the side closest to the bush, and was lost to sight. I would not have seen her at all, had I not just turned to look out the back window, as I was pouring the boiling water over my tea bag. It was 6 a.m.. The sun had not yet risen. She was a small fox, her red fur almost glowed with good health. Although she was running, she did not appear to be in distress.

After she had passed, I finished making my tea, and carried my cup to the chair beside the back window, where I intended to do a bit of reading, as the light was quickening, and the words were taking form on the page before me. A movement caught my eye, something on the drive again. A large black dog, with long unkempt fur, loped up the driveway in pursuit of the fox. He was having fun, hunting, redundantly hunting. His slack expression denoted a lack of intensity, and a lack of cunning. This hunt was entertainment, for if he had been truly hungry and in need of a kill to survive, it would have been written in his face and body.

He followed the fox’s path and was soon out of sight. Five minutes later the dog was back. He walked a weaving path at a slow trot. There was no sign of a kill around his muzzle. At one point, near Grace The Trailer, he lifted his leg and peed on a pine sapling, then slowly strolled down the drive and out of sight.

He wore a dog collar.

Much earlier than the visits from the fox and the dog, in the morning just after I had awakened, the chorus from a murder of crows filled the air, heralding dawn.

A little later than the visits from the fox and the dog, a partridge clumsily passed across the drive, at some distance from Grace The Trailer, stumbling and flapping along by turns.

How important these living beings seem in the absence of human company.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I am back home and writing from Mist Cottage. The weather is much cooler now, and the humidity is not high. This is ideal weather in my book, a view not shared universally. We need neither air conditioning, nor heating, so our electricity bill will benefit from this weather.

On Sunday I took a trip to a country market, a farm that sells local produce, and was shocked at the prices. $3 for a quart of green beans. The rest of the produce was similarly priced. People living without healthy pensions, and those living at minimum wage levels are not going to be buying local food, it isn’t in the cards. The artisanal food movement is offensive, in that the entrepreneurs are constantly whining about needing people to buy locally, while they insist on selling things that only the affluent can afford to buy.

I bought one item though, because I wanted to try Red Fife Wheat Flour. The one kilogram bag of flour was $8.00 plus tax. It will have to be a one-off purchase. I made peach muffins with it this morning, and they are outstanding. Much research is needed to find an affordable source of this basic food ingredient.

Attila just brought in a pound of freshly harvested Scarlet Runner beans. At that country store this would have cost $6.00 plus tax. We love our garden! He also harvested two beautiful tomatoes, and oregano and dill, which we will dry.

I continue to work on my crocheted top. The back was difficult to design, I worked on a design for a day, decided I didn’t like it, tore it out, and would start on another design the next day. This process went on for weeks! Finally a design that worked was finished today. There are loose ends and a few alterations to yet to do. The shoulder straps were too long, I failed to take stretching into account, crochet work stretches. The way I constructed the straps meant they could not be torn out and reworked, so a method of shortening them after the fact must be devised.

We are going to take a week at the Rideau Camp this autumn, and I only have one book that I am looking forward to reading, it is about Gavin Maxwell, written by Dan Boothby, entitled Island of Dreams. The book was a gift from a friend, and I have been especially saving it to read while on vacation at the Rideau Camp. I anticipate that I will want to read more than one book though, so I am looking into borrowing books for my Kobo, from the Ontario Library Service. I like my Kobo, but every time I want to use it the instructions on how to load items into it has to be reviewed. It is wifi capable, but since no books are purchased, the cables work well for loading borrowed books, via Adobe Digital Editions.

Grasshopper DSCF1104 Grasshopper on our back step at Mist Cottage. We also saw one of these out at the Rideau Camp last weekend. I believe this is a Katydid.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Saturday, August 26, 2017, I’ve no idea what the weather report is for today, we have no internet connection, which I have come to rely on for such information. It was cold this morning, so much so that I sat on my clothes for a long time, until they were warm, before changing into them. The sun is out now, it is almost noon, and I am still wearing my sweater. It is a lovely day.

Quote

“But, if I must afflicted be, To suit some wise design,
Then man my soul with firm resolve, To bear and not repine!”

Robert Burns, Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish

Muffins!

The weather is cooler and I am back to muffin making! We bought 15 overripe bananas for $1.49 yesterday. That many bananas will translate into five batches of muffins. Two batches have been made since yesterday, and out of those 24 muffins, 14 are left. We like our muffins!

We also purchased a half bushel of Ontario peaches. They are ripening in their containers on the kitchen floor as I type. By tomorrow I should be enjoying fresh peach smoothies for my lunches, and Giant Oven Pancake with fresh peaches for my suppers.

It seems that every visit to the bush includes a guest appearance from a star. Last Sunday this individual appeared. He/she is clinging to the bottom ridge of plastic on my plastic-five-gallon-pail-chamber-pot, which, having been emptied and cleaned, was left upside down on the crushed stone to dry. Apparently this beauty found the object a perfectly acceptable place to enjoy the sun. There are a lot of dragonflies at our Rideau Camp, and every one of them has a different wing pattern and/or body type. It has been a real fashion parade.

Dragonfly DSCF0960 Our visiting dragonfly, about three inches long. This beauty remained on the blue bucket for over ten minutes, despite being blown this way and that by the wind.

I have a project lined up to perform at the Rideau Camp. The crushed stone drive, and main area, are being overtaken by weeds. This is undesirable because plants provide launch areas for mosquitoes and ticks. The recipe to be used is not as effective as chemicals such as roundup, but it is partially successful.

Weed Killer

4 cups vinegar
½ cup epsom salts
1 tbsp dawn dish detergent

Mix to dissolve, spray weeds, wait.

The yard will smell like a chip stand for a day or so, salt and vinegar.

If you spend time in the “wild” in Ontario, you might notice the ubiquitous empty beer bottle. Sometimes they are whole, and other times they have been ceremoniously smashed and lie in sharp shards waiting for the unwary. We find them along trails, and just about anywhere we walk in the bush. They seem to represent a rural rite of passage into the wilds of adolescence. Our property came with the traditional empty beer bottle, luckily it is intact.

Beer bottle DSCF1056 Here it is, our very own Canadiana. Can you spot the empty beer bottle? It has been left intact, as a testatment to, and reminder of, the nature the rural rituals of humans.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C
Date:2:00 PM EDT Thursday 24 August 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.4°C
Dew point: 11.7°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NW 16 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.”
Margaret Millar

I find this more true of men than I do of women, men talking to women that is, or is it talking at women, because that is what a lot of men do when they talk to me. I can think of only two women who indulged in monologue when interaction was available. One I met when a family visited our farm, the daughter talked in a steady stream, barely pausing for breath, for hours… I was amazed. The other was an adult woman who I spent one day with, I uttered two sentences that day, she filled the airwaves the rest of the time. I know more about her than I wanted to. I find most women converse in a very interactive way, with me. Of course, they do not feel any pressure to impress, that might be a factor for males when interacting with females.

Off The Rack

There are those of us who are larger than the popular image of beauty, or shaped differently. I am one of those people who is not a “media” beauty, and yet I love my body, my face, and my hair-most-of-the-time.

I am thinking about this as a result of looking at furniture ideas on Pinterest. What is the connection between my body type and weight, and furniture on Pinterest?

Well, I will start my explanation with Pinterest. The furniture I am looking at is suitable for small homes, small spaces. It has to be functional, maximize space and storage. Those are the two basic requirements. The third requirement is aesthetic appeal. All of the images I am looking at offer aesthetic appeal, at least as photographed they offer aesthetic appeal. However, in real life, book covers, kitchen ware, etc., are not perfectly colour and size coordinated, in most “lived-in” homes. I really do not choose reading material according the colour of the jacket. In addition to that, in “lived-in” homes, items in everyday use are seldom carefully and artfully arranged on display. Functional spaces are usually “in use”, and items are out there, arranged according to the task at hand, often hastily stored is less than aesthetic positions.

Not to mention of course, people leaving sweaters on the backs of chairs, books thrown on the end table, a half full coffee cup abandoned on the coffee table, shoes left under the edge of chair, boots by the door fallen over or scattered around… this list goes on and on and on. I do not live with a person who is aware of “how things land” in a living space. Attila, when he does have time to relax, does not focus on placing items aesthetically and artfully around the room. Nor do I want him to pay attention to such things. Nor do I want to pay attention to such things.

And yet, despite the chaotic array of personal items, I feel that there is beauty in the way we live, and I want to tap into it.

Back to the images of furniture on Pinterest. When I look at those pristine, usually empty or staged, pieces of furniture, I assess them for what they might actually look like if used in daily living. Most of them fail this test. A few make it through though, and those are pieces that hide chaos behind doors and drawers, and/or offer everyday items easily organized and handy places to land, and still manage to look appealing.

Almost anything can be made to look appealing out of the context of daily life, in the way of furniture. My challenge is to find items that will offer some appeal even when exposed to the reality of daily life and use.

As with furniture that is empty or staged, clothing is often empty or staged at point of purchase. I grew up in an era where paper dolls were a common plaything. The cover of the set was cardboard, and the dolls were printed in colour on the cardboard, we cut them out. On the paper pages were printed the outfits for the dolls. We cut out the clothes, which had “tabs” that folded around the doll to secure them in place. The dolls, and the clothes, were two dimensional. I think this influenced how I viewed decorative clothing, for the rest of my life.

I noticed some time ago that many clothing items looked very appealing on the rack, they hung with dignity, beautifully draped, empty, without a real body in them. Ah, but once that item had to contend with a less than ideal shape and size within it, the stuff of daily life, well that was another matter altogether. Clothing does not look the same on a body as it does on the rack. That is a bit of a no brainer, but I have often been tempted by clothing that hangs seductively on the rack, only to be horrified in the dressing room. There is a second aspect to this, and that is staged clothing. Clothing is usually staged on emaciated dummies, so that it hangs almost as seductively on the dummies as it does on the rack. Staged clothing displays have no unsightly bumps and lumps that alter the drape of the cloth. (I am not defining a pregnant body with a bump or a lump though, designers have found quite a market for clothing designed for that particular, brief, exciting interlude in a woman’s life.)

As with empty or staged furniture, empty or staged clothing does not usually stand up to the test of a “lived in” life. Life is lived “off the rack”.

With age, my body moves steadily away from the ideal of lithe youth, and it has been more and more difficult to find clothing that will let me express how much I like my own body. I have no interest in working towards the ideal body shape or weight; I am grateful that my body is healthy, that is my only concern with weight, and I wish it were like that for every female on planet earth.

Quiet days here at the country house. Thankfully, it is raining. It could be snow, but it isn’t. I have a new batch of Stone Soup under construction, the first ingredients to go into the pot are the boiled cucumbers from our garden at the little house in the city, and the water leftover from boiling three cups of peas. Another possible ingredient is tomatoes, also from the garden at the little house in the city. The green ones that we brought home with us did not ripen into a lovely red, but more a yellowish red. Better for cooking than eating I think. They are all in the freezer, so I will need to blanch and peel them before adding them to the soup. For the rest, I am waiting for inspiration or fate, whichever comes first.

Last Sunday I made a Giant Oven Pancake for breakfast, and served it with homemade Blueberry Topping. While making the topping in a saucepan, I used one of the wooden spoons from the cutlery crock. I always taste the food I cook, to get the right balance. When I tasted the blueberry sauce it was “hot”, unpleasantly so. That is it was hot pepper hot, I am not referring to the physical temperature. At first I thought the blueberries must have fermented in the freezer, or some such thing, and contemplated throwing the all out.

But then I remembered. Attila had been picking his hot peppers last week, and he might not have been as careful as possible in cleaning the utensils he had used. So I took a stainless steel spoon and tasted my Blueberry Sauce with that. It was perfect, not “hot” at all. Attila!! The blueberries were saved!

The thing about sharing a kitchen with another cook, is that you just never know what you are going to discover! That works both ways.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 10:36 AM EDT Tuesday 28 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.4°C
Dewpoint: 9.5°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SE 21 km/h

Quote

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.”
Chinese Proverb