the new year

Attila and I celebrated New Years Eve with a long, cozy FaceTime chat. When we rang off at 10 p.m. we were both headed for our pillows. We greeted each other first thing the next morning, the next year, and chatted over coffee, before signing off and getting down to little odd jobs around our respective places of residence. We spoke several times during the day, and ended our first day of the New Year with another long and cozy chat.

On New Years Eve and New Years Day I chatted with Harriet, who has time off work right now. My Mom wrote to say she was enjoying walking with her friends, playing cards, and just generally having a great time. Terra stopped by for a brief chat after her session at the nearby gym, Lares side of the family provides a lot of drama in their lives. They don’t need “reality” TV!

Yesterday my “big adventure” was a trip to the laundromat. I gathered up the dirty laundry into a pillow case, donned my coat, carried it out to Tank, and drove to the nearby laundromat. Once there I carried in my laundry, and realized, just after entering through the door, that I had not brought the laundry soap! So, back out to Tank I went, drove home, grabbed the laundry soap, and then drove back to the laundromat.

After washing the laundry, I decided to dry it a bit before taking it home. The dryers were stacked. I loaded my laundry into the lower dryer, put the quarter in and hit the start button. The empty dryer above sprang into action, drying nothing at all. I had a closer look at the panels. BIG arrows indicated where to put your change for the upper and the lower dryer. In a new environment auto-pilot does not work well! I got out my change purse and set the lower dryer in action.

The clothes were damp when I loaded them into the pillow case to take them home. I had decided to hang them to dry at home, since the humidity in the house is now at 33%, which is quite low. I draped socks and underwear, t-shirts and trousers, all over the chairs in the living room and dining room. It looked pretty chaotic, but this would only be a temporary situation.

I decided to make a large macaroni and cheese casserole, to eat intermittently with my chili, for my supper. I use dry macaroni, and make a white sauce with cheese when I make macaroni and cheese. The kitchen is small, so as I was finishing there were dirty dishes everywhere, cheese grater, pots and pans, wooden spoons. More chaos!

That was when Terra arrived. Since I had to clear a chair for her to sit on, I apologized for the chaos.

She said, “Mom, if I had to follow a tunnel through piles of newspapers and boxes, then I would be worried about you. You have seen my house at times, stop worrying!”

One of the things I love about Terra is that she says exactly what she thinks. There are no guessing games with Terra! Most of the time this is refreshing, occasionally it can be disconcerting, and I wouldn’t have her any other way!

I have managed to go for my walk every day for over a week now, and I feel much better for it. It is worth repeating the advice to wear two pairs of socks, and firmly secure the laces on boots, as this has made all the difference in the world. My blister is almost healed and I do not feel it at all when I am walking.

I do notice that the knee I injured last summer bothers me a bit on my walks. When I sense that it is tired I slow my pace, and then quicken it slowly. I notice the other people out walking always pass me by, as they walk much more quickly than I do. But you know, I am just grateful to be out there walking!

Colder weather is on the way next week, according to the weather people.

As Attila says, “At is January!”

This morning it was -10C and windy, so there was a significant wind chill factor. My parka was made for days like this! I bought this parka in 1993, so it is 21 years old. It has been my only winter coat for that long, I have no other. It is a GoreTex parka, made for inclement weather, made in Canada. It cost the moon when I bought it, but when you consider this parka is in almost new condition after 21 years of constant use, it was very inexpensive over the long term. The benefits are outstanding. I bought a men’s size large, there was method in my madness. The parka has a thin lining, that will keep me warm if I am active in temperatures as low as -15C. Because it fits bigs, I can layer under it, so that at -35C, with a Cowichan sweater underneath, the parka will keep me warm for hours, and if I am active, indefinitely. It is windproof, so I do not loose body heat to high winds. It is waterproof, so I can walk in winter rain and remain comfortable and dry.

I have been so happy with my GoreTex parka that I bought GoreTex winter boots, that lace up. My feet are always warm and dry, even when it is -35C, even in winter rain.

There is some efficacy in the saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-10°C
Date: 8:00 AM EST Saturday 3 January 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -10.2°C
Dewpoint: -14.3°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: NE 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -16

Quote

“My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
For we’ve been comrades, you and I —
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!”

Robert Service, The Passing of the Year

Pine Stump

On YouTube I just saw an ad for a video game, full of guns, guns guns, muscles, muscles, muscles, bad guys, bad guys, bad guys and gun brandishing heroes, heroes heroes. The bad guys were big and bad, all different kinds of ugly. You could tell who was bad and who was not, just by looking at them.

I guess that is the appeal of these violence based games, the bad guys, the enemy, is obvious, easily defined, easily targeted for killing, and the player is ALWAYS the good guy who wins, even if the game has to be played over and over and over to attain the win.

The true enemies of humanity are more subtle, far more subtle, than that.

I guess that is why I find most video games so very boring, as the complexity of life, even just breathing in and out, is so much more complicated and fascinating than simplistic good guy/bad guy dichotomies.

I wonder if simplistic game playing leads to simplistic analytical skills? I wonder if the use of violence and physical force is a healthy fantasy? I really do not know, and I don’t think anyone else does either. It feels wrong to me.

The sun has been peeking out from behind the clouds off and on all morning. I have already finished the laundry, the cleaning, and everything on my list for today. Attila is at work, working his “short day”, which is usually eight hours long. That will change soon though, as the short day will shorten to four hours, leaving Saturday afternoons for domestic chores, at least in theory.

I am planning my first canning session, which will have to wait until the weather cools a bit. The canner will need to run for 90 minutes, which will create a lot of heat in the house. On a cool autumn day, that heat will be very welcome.

I talked with Harriet this morning, she is at her cottage, sitting and looking out over the lake. She was enjoying some peaceful moments, while the others were out fishing and kayaking.

Attila will be able to focus on indoor domestic chores today, when he comes home from work. Last night he cleared the final bits of sawdust from the front yard. Last week he felled the thirty foot high stump, single handed. That stump has stood in our front yard since the top of the pine was twisted off and thrown to the ground by a wind storm, crushing my little Argosy trailer, on August 20th, 2009. The tree top was removed and the debris cleaned up during the summer of 2009, but the thirty foot high stump was left standing.

Attila, having just felled the thirty foot high pine stump, is removing bark and preparing to section the log.
Pine stump 2014

Over the last five years we have enjoyed watching the wildlife that visited the stump, there have been all kinds of woodpeckers, including Pileated Woodpeckers, Robins and other songbirds, and squirrels. With the house being for sale though, we decided that the stump must come down. Attila felled the stump, sectioned it, carried the logs to the woodshed, cleared away the bark and sawdust from the yard and cut the grass. The pine logs came in very handy during the Grandkids visit, as we used them for seating around the campfire!

For the moment, all the trees that need felling are down. There were also two dead birch trees, which rot quickly because the bark retains moisture in the wood. The birch trees were so rotten that Attila was able to simply push them over by hand. The stumps were left to rot into the ground, which is a good thing for a healthy forest floor.

Terra has been constructing an elaborate and beautiful exterior door frame for their front door, she sent me a photo and it is quite the thing. Terra is gaining impressive skills as a carpenter. She asked for and received fancy power tools for Christmas, and was over the moon about her gifts.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 30 August 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.5°C
Dewpoint: 16.9°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: SSE 15 km/h
Humidex: 28

Quote

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.”
T. S. Eliot
1888 – 1965

Rambling: on the ground and the page.

I have been rambling about this week.

Thursday I had a lovely and relaxing visit with Harriet and my cousin Sali, and Sali’s husband and son. We spent a lovely day sitting in the sun, and chatting, catching up on news, making acquaintance. Just one of those quiet days that shine in memory. Hogan was busy, he felled several trees, sectioned them, cleared the brush, pulled out the stumps, and filled the holes that were left with gravel, which he brought back in his pickup truck from the local gravel yard.

Friday was quiet for me, catching up on housework, paying bills. The paying of bills was particularly satisfying, as I had been robbing Peter to pay Paul since we paid for the driveway at the camp. So, finally paying all the bills cleared away those little bits of worry that settle into my subconscious when I have to juggle my books.

Attila, well he is working 12 hour days, five days a week. Saturdays are supposed to be short days, but they are so busy that he heads in for 5:30 a.m. to get ahead of things before things get really busy, and then works late to catch things up to the point where he can feel relaxed on his Sunday off, and not worry about Monday morning.

Saturday I worked at the greatest little location! I love this location, the “boss” is super organized, knows her stuff, and is positive, exacting, and considerate. The customers are relaxed, friendly, and always pleasant, even if things aren’t going exactly as they would like. While I was there, Harriet and Ariel dropped in to say hello. They were on their way to obtain drinking water for Harriet’s cottage. It was lovely to see them, and Ariel even ran into an old acquaintance.

Saturday afternoon Attila came home from work at 2:00 p.m. This is so rare, it was a real treat! We packed up the car and headed for the little house in the city. The drive was beautiful, sunny and mild, everything green, green, green! The traffic was insane, people doing silly things, impatient things, dangerous things. As soon as we left the area where the affluent recreate, the traffic, and driver behaviour, improved.

We arrived at the little house well before dark. There was a sprinkling of rain, but Attila was determined to get the grass cut on Saturday, so he began the task immediately. It took him an hour and half, and it was almost dark by the time the job was complete. I had a hot meal waiting for him when he came in. We had beet greens with our dinner, which we regard as a real treat. The farm that is close to the little house in the city, and along our travel route, had two bunches of beets and a zucchini left for sale. We bought it all!

So, Attila’s Saturday began at 5:00 a.m., when he arose to get ready to go in to work for 5:30 a.m. He worked till 2:00 p.m., then came home, packed the car, changed, then he drove until about 7:30 p.m. When he arrived at the little house, he cut the lawn for an hour and half, and finally sat down to dinner and rest at 9:00 p.m. And not one grumpy moment!

Sunday morning we slept in until 7:00 a.m., had a peaceful chat as we drank our morning coffee, and enjoyed a big breakfast. Then Luna, Janus and the Grandbabies arrived for a short visit. They had been camping at Lake Placid, and were on their way home, and had spending the night with Terra and Lares. Terra and Lares dropped in soon after Luna and gang arrived, so we were all here.

Oh how we love those Grandbabies!

I have always been like this, and known it. My children, and now my Grandbabies, were, and are, the most beautiful children in the world. When my daughter’s were born I even felt sorry for the other Moms, whose babies were so red and wrinkly, while my baby was so very cute. I could see such a difference! I laugh at myself now, because I have pictures of the hospital nursery, where my daughters would lie in clear plastic tubs or “bassinets”, lined up with all the other newborns. Now I cannot tell which ones were my daughters, all the babies in the nurseries look the same!

The highlight of our visit with the Grandbabies was the short drive to Walmart. Now tall enough to be belted into a car without car seats, we could take them with us in our car; for the very first time in their lives! Luna and Janus and Benny and Bim lead the way in their van, while we followed with the Grandbabies. And how wonderful it was! We sang, as I had wanted to sing with them since they were born. I explained to them that their Great Grandmother had sung this song in the car with me, when I was a little girl.

When I was a child, the eldest of six children, the first five born about one year apart, our visits to Granny and Grandpa’s house involved a six hour car ride. That is a long trip, with five small children. My Mom used to keep us busy by playing games like I Spy, and singing songs with us. One of our favourite songs was “Paw-paw patch”.

As Attila and I drove down the road with the Grandbabies, we all sang, quite heartily, the “Paw-paw patch” song. It was so much fun! We all loved it.

After a bit of shopping at WalMart, for a birthday gift for a party they were attending later in the day, Luna and Janus, the Grandbabies, and the dogs, were off on their journey home. We waved goodbye in the Walmart parking lot, having had a lovely visit. We hope to see them again in August.

Attila and I headed to the grocery store for supplies, then back to the little house for a quick lunch. Attila decided to take a nap, while I puttered in the kitchen, and pulled a few weeds out of the gardens.

The vegetable garden is doing very well, in particular the tomatoes and the cucumbers. The healthiest plants are those next to the few marigolds we planted in the vegetable garden. The peppers are struggling a bit, competing with the weeds, portulaca the non-flowering weed, hogweed, and bindweed. Also, in the backyard, our clematis and marigolds are thriving and blooming. All of this with so very little attention and care!

Cucumbers love marigolds!
CucumbersLOVEmarigolds
The clematis surprised us with these blooms!
Clematis2014

The front garden, where we planted flowering portulaca, is doing very well. The hosta lilies and day lilies on either side of the front step are doing incredibly well.

Day lily!
Daylilly2014

So, here I am writing the last of this entry as we prepare for the drive back to the country house. It has been a busy week, good busy, wonderful busy, mostly up and a little bit of down because my knee still bothers me a bit.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:47 PM EDT Sunday 20 July 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 21.8°C
Dewpoint: 18.0°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: SE 9 km/h
Humidex: 28

Quote

“One’s age should be tranquil, as childhood should be playful. Hard work at either extremity of life seems out of place. At midday the sun may burn, and men labor under it; but the morning and evening should be alike calm and cheerful.”
Dr. Thomas Arnold

Pie Social

Last weekend we visited the little house in the city. It was a beautiful drive, as light lingered through the evening.

Attila and I worked on the yard, mowing the lawn, and tending the garden. We lost one tomato plant, and one hot pepper plant, but the rest are maintaining their health. They have not grown very much, but they look healthy.

Attila fixed the lock on the front screen door, and I did the usual shopping for supplies. I did manage to get my hair cut, which was long overdue. Ending up at one of those places that offers cheap cuts, I wasn’t very happy with the result. Never mind, the trick is to avoid mirrors for a while, out of sight, out of mind. In a few weeks my hair will look completely different, and within a few months it will be ready for another cut, and perhaps I can return to the salon that did such a nice job.

Terra worked the weekend we were there, but did manage to drop in before one of her night shifts. We had a nice little visit. My children always look so beautiful to me!

The driveway at the camp is done! We dropped by to see it and were pleased. I called this morning to request the final inspection. After that, all that is left to do is pay the bill. We will be robbing Peter to pay Paul for the rest of the summer, in order to assure that the bill will be paid in a timely manner.

The completed driveway at the camp!
CampdrivewayJuly2014
The view from the driveway at the camp. Where we live in the country, we are enclosed in the trees. The only view of the sky is straight up. At the camp, the endless sky beckons. I have been looking at this view all of my life.
CampskyJuly2014

Last night we attended a local pie social and bake sale. This is our third pie social at the old church/school house near my Granny and Grandpa’s house. It was wonderful to hear again the story of my Granny, and her ingenious way of keeping the ice cream frozen, during pie socials, many decades ago. We bumped into several of my Mom’s cousins, and chatted with neighbours, who will now be our “new” neighbours at the camp. Attila had cherry pie, I could not partake due to my allergy. I did buy two loaves of homemade bread, which will be lovely for Attila’s lunches.

The old building where the social is held is full of memories for me. My Great Aunts not only attended primary school there, but also taught there. My Mom attended school there. My Grandmother attended church there. One of my fondest memories was a Christmas Concert, organized when the building was a school, and my Great Aunt R was the teacher. It was a magical evening, with poetry recitals, and a little choir, and I think a little nativity play. The scraggly tree was decorated with ornaments made by the students. The one room school house was small, and packed with parents, family members, and people from the community. The human warmth that was created there still warms me, almost 60 years after the event.

I think that this, and a few other experiences, were why I became a teacher myself. The reality of the modern urban school was quite a shock, when I entered my own classrooms to teach! My teaching experiences bore little resemblance to the one room schools that inspired my career.

I had a lovely chat with Harriet yesterday evening. She and Hogan had been at their cottage for the weekend, and enjoyed the lovely weather. They had a lot of company over the weekend, by her account, which she enjoys very much. She also cut the grass again at Granny and Grandpa’s house. Attila and I will be out to visit the camp, and Granny and Grandpa’s house over the next few days. I hope to work a bit more on Granny’s garden, and perhaps assess with Attila what can be done with the broken support beam on the store porch.

I have been corresponding with my distant cousin Chadwick over the last few days. He shared a link to a book about my half GG Aunt Nana’s love affair and marriage, The Nana Letters. It was an interesting little book, and really brought home to me the havoc that tuberculosis played in people’s lives; the author compares it to the disease of cancer today.

I had a last minute call in to work today, so in I went for a short shift nearby. Golly, I fall out of shape quickly! I was stiff and sore, and exhausted at the end of three hours of bending, stretching, and lifting!

And so another day draws towards closing, and the last lazy rays of the sun fall softly in the green.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 4 July 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 13.2°C
Dewpoint: 11.6°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: NW 11 km/h

Quote

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll
1832 – 1898

Insect Repellent Clothing

The driveway at the camp is partially in! We were able to park at our camp, for the very first time. That is the good news. The less exciting news is that the driveway will cost almost twice as much as originally anticipated. Sounds wrong, we know, but the estimate was given before the township listed their requirements for the driveway. They insisted it be almost twice as wide as is usual, which requires more culvert, a lot more crushed stone, and more work than anticipated. So we are going ahead with it, but have to decline any further spending in 2014, maybe even 2015.

Still, we are just thrilled to have the driveway. Today was sunny, breezy and warm. We ate our first meal at the camp today, seated on our lawn chairs, looking out at our wonderful view; it was heavenly, quite literally.

We both worked Saturday. In the evening we drove over to Harriet and Hogan’s cottage for a visit, and were delighted to find that Ariel, her special friend Arnie, and her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend were also visiting the cottage for the weekend. We shared a meal of moose burgers. The moose burgers were compliments of our Ariel’s daughter’s boyfriend, who hunts. Since we didn’t know the exact ingredients, I had a carefully cooked chicken breast. By all accounts the moose burgers were delicious!

After our meal, Hogan took us all out on the lake for a boat ride. Ariel’s daughter and her boyfriend fished from the back of the boat, as we slowly toured the lake. Arnie took a turn fishing as well. The fish weren’t really biting, but everyone had a lovely time.

The grand finale of the evening was a campfire by the lake, with a breathtaking view of the sunset across the lake.

Harriet and Hogan are warm and indulgent hosts; one feels very well looked after!

We left late, tired and very happy.

Sunday Attila and I headed to the camp, which is when we discovered that the driveway construction was under way. I dropped Attila off at the camp, and proceeded to Harriet’s cottage for a bit of a visit. I had a chance for a chat with Ariel, and with Harriet; good for the soul.

Then I was off to visit the local dump. I had a few items to drop off at the “dump store”, perfectly good items that someone else might well need. I did not see anything there though, that I thought we could use. It was “slim pickins” at the dump store.

When I returned to the camp, our contractor was there explaining the increased expense to Attila, and we amicably gave the go ahead to complete the job as he suggested.

After we ate a lovely lunch at the camp, we walked down the road to Granny and Grandpa’s house; Attila with his chain saw and come-along, and me with loppers and gloves. While Attila felled the last three dead elms, I began to remove brambles and weeds from my Granny’s gardens. We finished our respective tasks just as Ariel and her crew pulled into the driveway, to have a look at Granny’s house, before driving back to the city. We had a nice tour of the house, and walked down to the camp to have a look at it as well. Then they were waving goodbye, as they drove off into the beautiful sunny evening.

Attila and I continued to work on the garden, until we were both tired. Slowly we returned to the camp, walking down the road with chain saw, loppers, and assorted gear in tow. We had a cold drink, then packed the car and headed into the beautiful sunny evening ourselves.

Now I would like to share a discovery that I made, one of great import to Attila and I. Attila had a birthday in the first weeks of June. I wanted to get him a present that would make his life more pleasant. I looked at bug shirts, and different types of insect repellents. I rejected special netted clothing immediately; Attila would not tolerate cumbersome clothing. Insect repellents work temporarily, until the hard work begins, and sweat carries most of the protection away.

Then I discovered insect repellent clothing! Who knew! Intrigued, my research began. I found shirts that claimed to repell mosquitoes! The reviews of such clothing seemed to support the claims made by the retailers. However, the price of the shirts are prohibitive for persons of average income; particulary if the shirts are meant for working out of doors, rather than for recreation.

“Back to the drawing board!” I found that the chemical used to create these bug repellent shirts is available for the DIY enthusiast. A company, Sawyers, in the USA manufactures the chemical in a spray bottle, which can be used to treat a piece of clothing, rendering it “bug proof.”

So, that is what Attila got for his birthday.

On Saturday I arrived home from work a few hours before Attila. We had pre-selected clothing, a set of shirt and pants, for both Attila and I. The clothing was hung on the line, outside, and the spray was applied to the outer surfaces of the clothing. I took great care not to breath the mist, or to allow the mist to touch my skin. Mist, of course, was safely tucked indoors and well away from the area where I worked. After thoroughly spraying the clothing, it was left to dry overnight.

Please note: This chemical, in its liquid form, is very dangerous for cats. Read the instructions that come with the chemcical carefully, and follow them meticulously!

When we arrived at the camp on Sunday, we donned our mosquito repellent clothing and began our tasks. It was warm. We were working hard, sweating, and attracting mosquitoes, deer flies, black flies, and no see-ums. And… the mosquito repellent clothing worked! Not one bite through the thin cloth of our shirts, or our trousers; not one bite.

And… there was a magical side to the experience. The mosquitoes and flies were attracted to us, but would not land, or come close to our clothing. As we worked, and we sweated, more and more insects honed in on us, and more and more dragonflies darted around us, enjoying a feast as they consumed the hovering and hopeful biting insects. The dragonflies perched near us when we sat to rest, and sprang into action if an insect came near us. I love dragonflies! One even settled on Attila’s shoulder, resting until a mosquito buzzed around Attila’s head, and then swooped in to the rescue.

We were able to sit relatively undisturbed, at the camp lot, in the bush, with the dragonflies keeping watch over us.

My only disappointment for the weekend was, I forgot my camera!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 22 June 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.8°C
Dewpoint: 8.4°C
Humidity: 37%
Wind: W 5 km/h

Quote

“Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people’s characters.”
Margaret Halsey