Mug Cake

Sometimes I just want to eat something sweet. This morning was one of those times. I love Danish Pastry, and that is what I craved. But the only store bought pastries that work for me, with comprehensive labels, come in packages of four or six. I cannot purchase in individual pastry. Herein lies the problem. If I buy four, I will eat four. If I buy six, I will eat six. If I buy one, I will eat one. I only want to buy one, which I cannot do. So instead, I found a recipe for a mug cake, skipped the Nutella, added a dollop of peanut butter, and a dollop of raspberry jam, then sprinkled chocolate chips over it, and baked it in the microwave. It hit the spot, scratched the itch, quenched my craving.

I am careful of sugar laden treats, as I feel sugar contributes significantly to my high blood pressure. I’m not sure it works this way for everyone, but I certainly found it to be the case, after monitoring my diet and my blood pressure daily, for more than a year. I love sugar, but it is something I have to be very careful with. My mug cake had a total of two tablespoons, or six teaspoons, of sugar in it. That is my daily quota! So today I am over quota, because I also added a teaspoon of maple syrup to my morning coffee. I enjoyed that cake, and won’t need to bake another for a while.

It is raining today, providing the newly washed Iris The Trailer with a thorough rinse. The weather reports say that next week we will see sunshine again, and then I will be up there on the ladder, scrubbing away to remove the black dots left by the lichen. When the surfaces are clean, marine wax will be applied and buffed. Slow but sure, that’s me.

Green, a very welcome colour. The day gets greener as the rain falls. Sometimes it is wonderful to live in the universe’s colouring book.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Wednesday 25 April 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.5°C
Dew point: 9.7°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: ENE 17 km/h
Visibility: 5 km

Quote

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”
Robert Fritz

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

Christmas Celebrations

I decided to try discontinuing my high blood pressure medication altogether, after successfully reducing the dosage back to the original low dosage I had been taking. Within 24 hours my blood pressure had skyrocketed. So I decided that the medication was working to a limited and inadequate degree, and that I would be better off taking the original low dosage. I began taking the medication at bedtime, and in the morning my blood pressure was a little bit lower, but still higher than it needs to be. It is a work in progress.

My appointment at the walk-in clinic two weeks was fruitful. My blood pressure was borderline high when the doctor took it. He thought my nuclear heart test looked normal, but didn’t touch on much about it. I didn’t pursue it because I am more concerned about getting my blood pressure down, and stabilized. We discussed a few things, I brought my daily blood pressure readings to show him, and he decided I should see a blood pressure specialist. The appointment will be requested by his office, and they will call me to schedule the visit. I am relieved, and I am hoping that the specialist is someone I can work with!

In the meantime I continue with my low sodium, low sugar meal plans.

I did slip a little bit this past week and weekend though! Terra had Attila and I, and Luna and her family over for our Christmas celebration last Thursday night. It was the only time Luna could commit to travelling to Terra’s house. We had a lovely time with the five Grandbabies! Luna’s three seemed to like the books we got them Christmas, and they definitely liked the cash. Terra’s two are too young to be aware of gift giving, but they are old enough to love having all the family there and celebrating together. We have seven grandchildren now, five of them belong to my two daughters, and two of them belong to Attila’s daughter. We had a lovely chicken dinner, cooked by the very busy Terra, who even found time to decorate two Christmas trees! Attila and I said goodnight relatively early, as Attila had to be up at 5 a.m. the next morning to be off to work.

On Saturday we travelled to join in a celebration of the season with my Mom, which my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl held at her house. It was lovely! We had a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and lots of scrumptious vegetables. My Mom made delicious muffins that were safe for me to eat, a real treat. It was great to see my Mom, Brother-The-Middle-Boy, both of my sisters and their partners, and one of my nieces and her fiancé.

My Mom made a quilt for my bed as a gift and I just love it! Last night I slept under it, so cozy and warm. It is red and white mostly, a Christmas theme, bright and cheery and beautiful and so precious. Mom also knitted me a second knee warmer for my arthritic knee, just in time, winter arrived with a flourish last night. My sisters gave us each a bowl, we use the large Corelle bowls instead of dinner plates for most of our meals, and we needed more to accommodate our “dishwasher lifestyle”. We even got to give away our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner. My niece and her fiancé just bought their first house, and didn’t have a vacuum cleaner of their own. They are both engineers, and really gave the built to last machine a good looking over, enjoying the technology. They needed a vacuum cleaner, and we needed to move the Electrolux to new home, it worked for everyone.

We stayed overnight at my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl’s home, as did my Brother-The-Middle-Boy, and we had a lovely breakfast together before heading back home. My Brother-The-Middle-Boy lives along our route home, so we gave him a lift home. It was wonderful to see where he lives, he lives in downtown Toronto in a lovely building, which is very conveniently located so that almost anything he might need is within walking distance. After we waved goodbye to my brother, Attila took a wrong turn and we became lost. we spent about 40 minutes touring the streets of Toronto, before finding the 401 again, and continuing on our way home.

It was snowing when we started out on our journey home, and continued to snow. The roads were wet and visibility was good, with the exception of about a 50 km stretch of highway that was ice covered as sleet hammered the windshield of the car. We proceeded at a snails pace and made it to the other side of the weather, where the road became merely wet, and the sleet became snow once more.

It snowed all night here, and it was still snowing this morning. Attila arose earlier than usual this morning, leaving himself time to shovel out the driveway. By 8 a.m. the snow plow had gone by and left quite a pile of snow across the end of the driveway. At 9:00 a.m. I was out in the great outdoors with my trusty snow shovel. I started to clear the end of the driveway, and was delighted when our neighbour headed towards me with his snowblower. He cleared the end of the driveway with ease, leaving me with only a few small fiddly bits to complete. I shovelled the walk to the front door, and the deck at the front of the house, then decided I had better take a break. The snow was wet and heavy. A few hours later I headed back outside to use a broom to remove the snow from the top of Iris the trailer, and Tank. It was a good workout!

By the time Attila had arrived home from work, most of the areas where the snow had been cleared were completely bare and dry, it had been a mild day.

This afternoon I baked croutons, and this evening I made a batch of squash muffins, which are my pumpkin muffin recipe, but squash has been substituted for pumpkin. It feels pretty satisfying to eat a muffin and know you are getting almost a whole serving of vegetable!

This Christmas Attila wanted a real tree. I wanted an artificial tree, but agreed to a real tree for several reasons. The most important reason is that having a real tree means more to Attila than having an artificial tree means to me. Another reason is that the real tree will be picked up at the roadside for recycling, and will not need to be stored in this tiny house. And the last reason is that we hope to find an artificial tree on sale after Christmas, something within our budget.

We drove around town tonight, after we purchased our groceries for the week, looking for someplace to purchase a real Christmas tree. The NoFrills had none, Canadian Tire had none, Walmart had none… we were beginning to get worried as we were running out of places to look. Then we drove by the Metro grocery store, and they had beautiful trees for sale, a bit pricey, but we figured that if we wanted a tree we had better take what we could find. So after bringing our groceries home, Attila went back to the store for the tree.

The Christmas tree is sitting in our living room, and the smell of the pine is deliriously wonderful. We will let it sit quietly in its corner overnight, to allow gravity to bring the branches down to their normal position. Tomorrow night we will decorate the tree.

I love that I am going to share the living room with a sweet smelling tree for the next few weeks!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 8:32 AM EST Monday 12 December 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.2°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SSW 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness.”
Anonymous

Scotch Metabolism

I sat quietly this morning, after Attila left for work, staring out the living room window, occasionally sipping my coffee, comfortable in my new easy chair. The light came slowly, blushing before revealing itself completely. Morning is my favourite time of day.

When Princess Diana died, I felt that the world had turned a corner, and not in a good way. Her passing was significant to me, and to many others. At that time, in September of 1997, I taped television coverage of her funeral. That was when I first perceived that the world was turning to darker times. I think that back then the tragedy of technology for the human race was only beginning to be felt, and has escalated beyond anything I could have imagined in 1997. Like any weapon, its use depends on who is wielding it.

Watching some of these old VHS tapes I am noticing how many of the programs in the 1990s displayed car chases as the epitome of excitement and daring. How different things are now, when entertainment is so saturated with extreme violence, graphic gore, and death… those are things I do not find entertaining in the least.

I spent several hours on Saturday researching bread recipes, in particular salt-free bread recipes. I have decided to try a recipe that includes oatmeal, and have my fingers crossed that it turns out reasonably well. Finding the recipe is only the beginning however, I need to actually bake the bread, and will hopefully break my state of inertia this week and do so.

This week I need to get our car in for a Drive Clean inspection. Owning a car is a necessity in holding down most jobs in areas without public transportation, and it is an expensive necessity!

The weather today was lovely, sunny and mild, 12C. I hung my laundry out to dry, and managed to get out for a walk. When Attila arrived home from work he felt like going for a walk on this glorious day, so out we went. The summer was hot, dry, and horrid, but our autumn has been something to write home about!

On September 8, 2016 I began taking my own blood pressure with a home electronic blood pressure machine made by OMRON. When I started taking my own blood pressure I had been taking the quadrupled dosage of my high blood pressure medication for a week, and had been eating the low sodium, low sugar diet, and taking a daily walk, for a week. At first I took my blood pressure every day, at erratic times of day, taking it only once per session. On November 3, I began to take my blood pressure routinely in the morning, and in the evening; I took multiple readings at each session, and calculated the average. It was interesting that when taking multiple readings, the initial levels were always a little higher than the subsequent levels. I decided to do this when I read about a doctor who takes multiple readings to mediate “white coat syndrome”. Apparently I am affected by my own imagined white coat! This is a chart of my readings, and some of the significant changes I have made along the way; ACV stands for Apple Cider Vinegar. I think the ACV was very helpful in working with the restricted diet and exercise to lower my blood pressure. I have been eating the low sodium, low sugar diet, which is also low in calories, and haven’t lost an ounce, although Attila says I look a little thinner, which I think is due to the daily walk and muscle mass, not weight loss. Attila says I have a “Scotch” metabolism, that won’t part with one single calorie, has to save them all.
Blood pressure Sept 8  Nov 14 2016

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Monday 14 November 2016
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 11.2°C
Dew point: 2.0°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: SW 13 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Look to your health; and if you have it, praise God and value it next to conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of, a blessing money can’t buy.”
Izaak Walton
1593 – 1683

A Sunny Day

Today arrived sunny and cool, it was 8C predawn. We continue to turn the thermostat down at night, to 18C this year, a little warmer for my night wandering partner Attila. During the day I set it to 21.5C, which I find comfortable if I wear warm footwear. We do not heat the basement, so that the floors can be quite cool. There was frost everywhere this morning, sparkling in the sunshine.

High Blood Pressure: The Ongoing Saga

Sometimes I write things down in this journal because I know I won’t remember them otherwise. This little tidbit is just such a reminder to myself. Today I halved the quadrupled high blood pressure medication. Instead of 300 mg I am now going to take 150 mg, which is double the dose I was originally taking.

It isn’t logic I am using to do this, it is a fight or flight reaction to the addition of a second medication when the first one is not working. I might have accepted a switch to another medication, but I am balking at the addition of yet another.

There is some logic involved as well, but it is not the deciding factor in my decision, so if it is flawed it doesn’t matter for practical purposes. Here is it anyway. When I found the medication I was taking no longer worked to lower my blood pressure, the doctor doubled the dosage. That had no effect, it did not lower my blood pressure. Since that didn’t work, the doctor doubled the dosage again, quadruple of what I had been taking. That had no effect, it did not lower my blood pressure. So, since this medication does not work, and I don’t want to try adding a second medication unless I absolutely have to, it makes sense to me to get rid of the medication that does not work.

Rather than stop taking the current medication cold turkey, I am going to halve the dosage for a week, then halve it again for another week, then discontinue it. That is the plan if my blood pressure remains relatively stable as I reduce the medication. I will be monitoring my blood pressure twice daily. I take it five consecutive times at one sitting, one to two minutes apart, and average the result. This method was described by a doctor who uses it to try to mediate the rise in blood pressure some people experience due to “white coat syndrome”. I have taken my readings in this manner three times now, and sure enough the initial reading is higher than the subsequent readings.

Yesterday Attila and I drove out to the Rideau Camp for the day. Attila brought along his chain saw and fuel. His project for the visit was to fell the trees we had marked with orange tape. Five of those trees were dead, one was dying, some others had been damaged when the great log pile had been bulldozed into the edge of the bush, and still others shaded out trees we want to flourish.

We are encouraging oak, maple, and pine trees around the perimeter of the Camp.

Attila felled the trees, sectioning them so that I could burn the brush from the branches. The dead wood burned quickly, and the green wood burned slowly, that is the way of it.

I am avoiding bread at the moment, in my quest to reduce sodium in my diet. Bread is very high sodium, a sandwich takes up most of my daily allowance. Attila brought cheese and crackers for his lunch, and I brought RyVita crackers, peanut butter, and fruit spread for my lunch. Lunch wasn’t nearly as exciting as it is when we have grilled cheese sandwiches. But those sandwiches, with two slices of bread, and a couple of cheese slices consumed my entire sodium allowance for the day.

The day was sunny, and the breeze was quite chilly. We were prepared! We had both chosen layers of clothing to wear. The sun became quite hot by early afternoon, so we both found ourselves removing layers down to our shirts by lunch time. Attila warmed by the sun and a lot of exertion; me warmed by the sun, moderate exertion, and the camp fire I was tending. At no point did we feel cold. We stayed until the sun was low on the horizon. As we packed up we did a tour of the Camp, making sure that everything was winter ready. At this time of year we want to leave the Camp in a condition so that if we find we do not return until spring, there will be nothing to worry about.

A few images from the Rideau Camp, taken yesterday.

Stumps, old and blackened, the work of a long ago fire.
DSCF0119
Charred Stump with Beech and Oak.
DSCF0117
This magnficent little Oak tree is under special consideration. In the early summer it was attacked by army worms, which we dilligently killed around the Camp perimeter. Then yesterday, Attila assessed the lean on one of the dead trees we had decided to fell, and determined that it would severly damage this little Oak as it fell. We made the decision to let the dead tree rot in place, rather than risk damaging the Oak.
DSCF0126
Attila sectioning a small tree which was felled across the camp fire pit. The tree chipped a flake off one of the granite perimeter rocks.
DSCF0134
Attila taking a break to enjoy his surroundings.
DSCF0151

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Monday 7 November 2016
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.3°C
Dew point: 6.1°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SSW 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it.”
Doris Day
1924 –