Cloudless Blue Sky

I know when the skies will cloud over. The Perseid meteor shower is due to arrive between August 11th and 12th, when humans would love to gaze into the sky and enjoy the show. I predict that we will have total cloud cover on August 11th and 12th, and no rain. It seems to be just that kind of a summer!

Relief from this heat wave is always just a few days away, but it never arrives. The weather people tease us with predictions of highs of 27C, but every day the temperature soars above 30C by early afternoon. I remember a friend telling me that when she lived in Minnesota a heat wave lasted so long that every time she listened to the weather report she wept. I understand now. It feels odd to be housebound due to extreme heat, but housebound I am.

The drought leaves only a few hardy weeds alive in the lawns around here. Everything else is brown and crunchy, in traveled areas the plants have desiccated and disintegrated leaving only paths of dusty earth. Trees are dying everywhere, leaves falling, leaving naked branches roasting in the hot dry sun. So far the trees in our yard are surviving, thank goodness. If we don’t get rain soon I can see us out there watering the trees, trying to keep our source of shade alive. Our garden is not thriving. The bean plants are no longer producing much, and we are only going to get a half dozen tomatoes. The Scarlet Runner beans are still alive and climbing, the few blooms are colourful and pretty, but they are producing no fruit.

Attila and I have taken to using all grey water for watering the gardens. Dish water and bath water are saved and carried out to the yard in buckets. If this is a long term weather trend rather than a uniquely dry summer, I will be researching grey water recovery systems for the house, and rain barrel water storage systems to collect rain when it does arrive. Surely it will rain soon!

I was going to try a Tai Chi class this week, but I don’t know if the Church where it is held is air conditioned, so I am not taking a chance that it isn’t, and have postponed attending until the heat wave abates. Instead I viewed and followed along with several beginner Tai Chi videos on YouTube, which felt good.

This morning I was late getting out for my walk, it was already after 8 a.m. when I headed out the door. Oh my it was hot walking! I walked slowly so as not to put too much strain on my system, managed to walk my entire route, and felt overheated by the time I arrived home. My new sun hat helped me tolerate the merciless rays along the shadeless portions of my travels.

Attila continues to work on the garden shed. He is making some headway, but the end is still some way off. It has been a much bigger project than he anticipated, and has been going on for nearly two months, rather than the two weeks he planned, and I expected (how very foolish). I will be very glad when it is finished!

We are enjoying Ontario grown peaches and field tomatoes right now, yum! I make a peach smoothie every day, just a ripe peach and milk, voila! A favourite lunch is a toasted tomato sandwich, there is nothing so lovely as a field ripened tomato! We added a new recipe to our repertoire this evening for supper, Bulgur Salad, which my Mom made last Saturday for the luncheon for my brother. It is very refreshing, and light enough for these hot summer days.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

31°
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Tuesday 9 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy – HA! not a cloud in the sky all day long!!
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 28.1°C
Dewpoint: 14.6°C
Humidity: 43%
Wind: SSE 10 km/h
Humidex: 33

Quote

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
Epictetus
55 AD – 135 AD

Quiet

Really, I cannot adequately describe how overwhelmingly tiresome it is to live in a house that is for sale! We have had people going through our home several times a week for months, another comes through on Friday. Our home has been inspected, poked, and prodded. I have to leave to sit in the park several times a week, with no way of knowing when the visitors have left. Keeping the house ready to show takes hours of work each and every day. It is all very, very tiresome!

Well, there isn’t any other way to sell the house, so complain as I might, the parade will continue until we sell.

The sky is rumbling angrily tonight. Attila had a few outdoor projects planned, that have been postponed. One is to spray the driveway with the mixture of epsom salts, vinegar, and dish soap. This works to kill weeds. Our driveway is long, and we have several walkways to tend as well, so spraying it is a lot of work and a significant expense. It needs to be done though, to keep the place looking good. But not tonight, rain would wash it away before it does its job. We are expecting rain.

The hot muggy weather has me wilting. I spend these miserably hot and humid days trying not to move, because when I do my body temperature rises at an alarming rate. It is after 8 pm now, and the temperature has dropped to the point where we have opened the windows, to gain a very slight improvement.

Last night Attila setup the portable air conditioner, for which I am grateful. The heat and humidity are much easier to tolerate after a good night’s sleep.

I am now doing the final edits on my genealogy book. But fate does not want me to complete it just yet! I found and contacted a distant cousin, who sent me not only information about her branch of the family, but also a series of photographs. She began by sending me a photograph of two children, all she had was their surname. Using the photographers information on the cardboard frame, I tracked down the studio, and determined the dates he was in operation, and thereby the approximate birth dates of the children. From that information I identified the children within the family tree. I will include some of the photographs in the book, and have updated the data, which requires a big edit job, but it is well worth it.

I still need to write back to this particular cousin and share with her everything I have on her branch of the family, I am sure there are a few tidbits in my notes that will be helpful to her. She has certainly helped me a great deal.

Most of the other edits are spelling corrections, formatting issues with place names, and ensuring that the conventions used are consistent throughout the book. The data was collected over a period of more than twenty years, so there are inconsistencies in my methods of recording. I try to not only correct this in the book, but also go back into the database to make the corrections there as well.

Well that’s me, busy with the ongoing attempt to sell the country house, my genealogy book, and trying to survive the heat. Life is quiet, and good.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Muskoka Airport
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Tuesday 18 August 2015
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 21.8°C
Dewpoint: 20.2°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: SE 9 km/h
Humidex: 30

Quote

“I wanna hang a map of the world in my house. Then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to. But first, I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down.”
Mitch Hedberg
1968 – 2005

Go To Your Room

8:00 a.m.

It is 8:00 a.m. and the humidex is already 35C. I closed the house up about an hour ago, as it was becoming warmer outside than inside. The nausea was returning, so I retreated to the bedroom, where the little air conditioner in the window keeps the temperature below 25C, and the humidity low. The weather has sent me to my room for the day, and I am feeling lucky that there is one cool place where I can find some comfort.

Attila is working out of doors today, as he does every day. It doesn’t seem to adversely affect his health, which is a blessing. He needs extra sleep during these hot and humid days.

I must amuse myself in this small space. I miss moving about! I have been sedentary since Monday afternoon when I got home from work, and I feel the worse for it. Tomorrow is another day, and should bring with it lower temperatures, lower humidity, and the end of this heat wave.

3:30 p.m.

Since noon the power has come and gone more than a dozen times. The rain has fallen out of the sky in buckets, then stopped. The wind has gusted to frightening speeds, then calm. Thunder has rumbled, roared, and abated several times. Lightening has flashed in the distance. There is a severe thunderstorm warning in effect, and a tornado watch; a funnel cloud touched down about 100 km away. The temperature has dropped from 31C to 22C, a huge relief! The cost of this wondrous change is unstable weather and storms. By midnight tonight all the storm activity should have passed us by, leaving us in a blessed cool; that is if you can consider a humidex of 29C cool, everything is relative.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

TORNADO WATCH IN EFFECT 12:00 p.m. & 3:41 p.m.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING IN EFFECT 12:00 p.m. & 3:41 p.m.

2:00 p.m.
31°C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 26.3°C
Dewpoint: 21.4°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: WSW 15 km/h
Humidex: 39

3:41 p.m.
22°C
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 21.5°C
Dewpoint: 20.0°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: SW 15 km/h
Humidex: 29

Quote

“What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”
Thomas Carlyle
1795 – 1881

Heat And Nothing But

The weather forecast predicts cooler weather on the way by the weekend! This morning, despite fans bringing the cooler air into the house, we were unable to lower the internal temperature below 80. The longer a heat wave lasts, the less effective are our strategies to keep the house cool. Although I had a good night’s sleep, with a fan blowing on me all night, Attila did not. I am putting pressure on Attila to install the window air conditioner in the bedroom. A good night’s sleep is essential to weathering through a heat wave!

The last bit of the deck was stained last night, so the first coat has been completed. The second coat will go on while I am away, when I next visit the little house in the city to work on the bathroom there. Hopefully this penetrating stain will last through a winter of snow removal!

Today, since I will once again be sitting quietly, avoiding overheating in this hot muggy weather, time will be spent researching flooring options for the bathroom at the little house in the city. The Restore in that area had a variety of small lot commercial grade linoleum for sale, a year ago. It will be worth a visit to the Restore to see what is in stock this year. The amount of flooring needed for such a small space means that end-of-line and small lot stock will work well. Discounted and discontinued lines of expensive flooring are definitely something to consider.

The window frames at the country house, in the bedroom and the bathroom, have some kind of animal scat on them. It is hard to identify. Larger than mouse droppings, similar shape, but slightly larger, and the shape is not uniform as it is with mouse droppings. The screens are hard to get out, well almost impossible to get out, so removing the scat is difficult. I have sterilized the scat, by spraying it with aqueous oxygen, so that no airborne problems should arise.

Mist and I are barely functioning. A humidex of 41 is just a little too intense for some of us. I have slowed down considerably, my breathing is normal, I am sweating, I am drinking copious amounts of water and I have stopped moving. It is too hot to eat, I couldn’t even consider food in this heat. Dear Mist and I are languishing in the screened in porch. There is shade and a breeze. But the breeze only blows above the level of chairs, as there are closed in walls on the lower half of the screened in porch. I have to raise my arms to feel the breeze, anywhere but my head. Mist seems to find it acceptable out here, she is having a siesta, lying right beside the dish of water I brought out here for her.

The temperature might be more reasonable tomorrow, a high of 28C is predicted, with a humidex of 37C, which will be more bearable than today. Thank goodness for that!

Scat on the window ledge, outside the bedroom and bathroom windows on the second floor of the country house. What animal?
DSCF2547 scat

Attila tells me that there is an unknown species of tiny birds building nests under the eaves of the back shed, nests made out of mud. I wonder if the droppings are from these birds. It is a mystery.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH IN EFFECT

31°C
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 26.5°C
Dewpoint: 24.2°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Humidex: 41

In the house at 12:15 p.m.
Temperature 28C
Humidity 83%
Humidex 40C

Quote

“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold.”
Archibald MacLeish
1892 – 1982

(Early “spaceship earth” sentiments.)

Coconut Oil

The humidity is cloying. The daytime high today is predicted as 32C, the humidex will be much, much higher. In this type of heat and humidity my only option is to sit very still, not moving, not generating any additional heat. The keyboard and my eyes are my only source of distraction! Two more days, only two more days and the temperature should drop!

Little House in the City

These lilies are in the back garden, transplanted from the front porch area before the excavation to waterproof the basement. They are happy in the garden.
DSCF2472 city lilies

The visit to the little house in the city last weekend was an eventful one. It was a rare two day weekend, and began with the drive down on Friday night.

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.”
Dr. Thomas Fuller
1654 – 1734

It has been hot, and humid. Attila, in his attempt to control the effects of Hogweed, has been wearing clothing to protect his skin from the sun. This is almost unbearable, as his job is very physical, he works out of doors, and he sweats profusely during heat waves. By Saturday night the itching was so intense that sleep was impossible. Off we went to the hospital emergency, at 2:30 a.m.

After returning home to wait for the call to pick up Attila at the hospital, I fell into a fitful sleep, fully dressed and ready for action. Sometime after 4:00 a.m. Attila, who had walked home from the hospital, gently called my name. He had received a shot, had a prescription for Prednisone, and had a new diagnosis. Our GP had told him he had a yeast infection, which may be true, but none of the remedies we tried for yeast infections had the least bit of an effect on his skin.

The hospital doctor told Attila that he is suffering from Eczema. Attila slept till late in the morning; a peaceful sleep, free of that overwhelming itching. While he slept I perused the internet for remedies for Eczema. With a bit of information under my belt, I headed for the drug store to fill the prescription for Prednisone, and to search for a treatment for Attila’s irritated skin.

The solutions at the drug store were expensive! Considering the considerable spread of the rashes that were afflicting Attila, the off-the-shelf solutions would have cost a small fortune.

Undaunted, I headed for the local grocery store. There I purchased a jar of pure coconut oil, cooking grade, and a bottle of sunflower seed oil. Both of these were word of mouth recommendations for the treatment of Eczema.

As soon as Attila was up for the day, we gently washed the affected areas of his skin, and applied a generous amount of coconut oil. Within hours the rash began to look as if it was abating. Attila began the regime of applying coconut oil to the affected areas as soon as they seemed dry or flakey. By Monday night there was clear evidence of healing.

We don’t know to what extent the relief is due to Prednisone, and what is due to coconut oil. But the coconut oil is the remedy of choice for the moment, for his Eczema.

Attila faces real challenges at the moment. Skin affected by Hogweed MUST be kept away from sunlight. Eczema benefits from exposure to sunlight. He has to experiment with his clothing to try to maximize protection from (hogweed) and exposure to (eczema) the sunlight.

I can state with authority that severe itching can temporarily alter a persons personality. Attila has not been himself for a few weeks, becoming increasingly irritable as his inner resources have been worn down by the insidious itch and severe rashes. On Sunday, after the Prednisone had kicked in, and the coconut oil had relieved most of the itching, he bounced back, and became his old self again.

We cannot buy coconut oil where we live in the country. So, I returned to the grocery store, near the little house in the city, and stocked up on jars of coconut oil!

We might try the sunflower seed oil another time. But right now Attila is going to be using what works, not that he has found coconut oil.

Although Attila was suffering over the weekend, it did not slow him down! On the visit to the little house in the city he managed to cut the lawn, a big job on a double lot, and to work on the bathroom.

In order to insulate and install vapour barrier on the external wall of the bathroom, the tub had to be removed. We had thought to keep the existing tub, but once it had been lifted out of place it became obvious that its days were numbered and that our efforts would be much more rewarding if we put in a new tub.

The tub removed. In the foreground is the laminate flooring that not only covered the floor in front of the bathtub, but also completely covered the heating vent. Note the debris and tools that were under the tub. and the black mould and rotting wood that we found on the floor underneath the tub.
DSCF2501tubout

So, instead of attending the music festival that we had been looking forward to, we bit the bullet, and visited the nearby Home Depot to purchase a new tub. It was a challenge getting that new tub into our car, I can tell you! Attila ended up removing some of the packing materials to finally get it in. I sat knees to chest, cramped into the passenger seat, on the journey home with the tub. It was worth the discomfort to have all the materials needed to proceed with the bathroom renovation.

Attila managed to get the old tub out all by himself. I am useless when it comes to carrying heavy objects in confined spaces, too much twisting involved for my back. The old metal tub was pulled out, then dragged to the front door, thrown out onto the front lawn, and finally carried to the back porch where it will be stored until we figure out how to dispose of it.

When the old tub came out the true extent of previous failed renovations became all too evident. The layer of plywood over the floor planks, was rotted through in places and blackened with mould. It was truly disgusting. When Attila removed most of that layer of plywood, we discovered a strip of orange shag carpeting by the door, that had been underneath the plywood “subfloor”. And the original linoleum tiles were still there. But the really disgusting thing about the tiles was that their surface was WET, and had been for years! They were badly damaged and will have to be replaced.

The heating vent in the bathroom had been covered over by the laminate flooring, and was exposed when the plywood came out. Why anyone would block a heating vent is beyond my imagination!

Underneath the laminate flooring was a layer of plywood “subfloor”, still around the toilet, the rest removed in this photo. Underneath the laminate flooring we found the heating vent as seen lower right, and underneath the first plywood “subfloor” we found the original black floor tiles, which were WET, and had been for years, perhaps decades. We aren’t done yet! The tiles and possibly another “subfloor” still need to be removed, and possibly replaced, before the new tub can go in.
DSCF2535bathroomtiles black

Attila installed three new studs to support the cement board that will be installed around the tub. Drill bits for the electric drill made this task simple. On my last lone trip to the little house in the city I did not have an electric drill with me to install studs, and although Terra lent me her drill for a short while, the studs could not go in until the tub came out.

When I next return to the little house in the city by myself I will be attempting to remove the bathroom tiles and use aqueous oxygen to clean the mould left behind. I would also like to tackle the task of insulating the exterior wall and installing the vapour barrier.

There will be no tub available on my next lone visit to the little house in the city. The only functioning fixture in the bathroom is the toilet, and that is something to be grateful for!

In the meantime, the bathroom faucet still leaks constantly when the water is turned on. For the moment a large plastic tote is placed strategically underneath the tap to capture the water, which will be used to water the garden. The water is turned on only during visits to the little house in the city.

The Country House

The deck project continues at the country house. The deck was cleaned with wood cleaner last week, and is quite dry after the weekend of sunny weather. We found old oil based wood stain, and although the colour is not a perfect match, it will do. The acrylic based stains are useless, in my opinion. Within two years the acrylic product has peeled in some areas and is completely worn away in others.

The heat and humidity prevent me from exerting myself; there would be health risks for me to overdo during a heat wave, at my age. Attila is amazingly unaffected by the heat and humidity. So, he decided to begin staining the deck yesterday evening. It was after 10 p.m. when he finally called it a night, and by then had most of the first coat applied. He worked in cloud of mosquitoes. Attila plans on finishing the first coat on the deck right after he comes home from work. I will have a tall cold drink and supper waiting for him when he is finished!

I worked yesterday, a surprise offer of a six hour shift; well worth the travel time. The office where I worked is air conditioned, so the day was comfortable and passed quickly.

The country house does not have central air conditioning, nor does the little house in the city. The window air conditioner at the country house has not been installed, and thus far we are managing without it. The windows are wide open as long as the outdoor temperature is lower than the indoor temperature. When outdoor temperature rises to the same temperature as indoors, the windows and blinds are closed. The house remains relatively cool for the rest of the day. This method of temperature control is only effective when it cools down at night, which has been the case during this heat wave.

The day has been hot and humid. I sit quietly in the darkened living room, windows and blinds closed against the heat, with the fan aimed at my chair, a tall glass of water by my side, moving as little as possible so as not to overheat. I am thinking of Attila, working in the heat of the sun on such a day, and I am grateful for what little physical comfort I am able to enjoy on such day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

32°C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 32.0°C
Dewpoint: 15.1°C
Humidity: 35%
Wind: W 9 km/h
Humidex: 36

Quote

“Thy modesty’s a candle to thy merit.”
Henry Fielding, Tom Thumb the Great (1730), Act I, scene 3, line 8.