Buckwheat Husk Pillow

The treatment recommended by the Dermatologist has been working for Attila. The Hogweed is gone, thank goodness. The episode with the Hogweed triggered a severe Eczema event, affecting a high proportion of Attila’s skin. That too is now healing nicely. The treatments must be diligently kept up, several times a day, but the effort is certainly worth the result. The correct diagnosis is so essential to getting the right treatment! The really great aspect of this treatment is that Attila has been able to continue working.

Attila had his second appointment with the Dermatologist this past week, and has been provided with an additional cream, cortisone, to be used on a temporary basis. He will go back to the Dermatologist again at the end of September for an assessment of the treatments.

When I work I seldom write. That is because when I work I have to shut down most of who I am, and put on a customer service, bottom of the rung employee, smile and keep it going every single minute that I am paid to do so. That takes a lot out of me, so I when I come home I rest and heal.

I will be working again next week, but today was a day off. We spent our one day together doing errands. We travelled to town to fill prescriptions, buy supplies and put some reasonably priced fuel in our vehicle. The prices of food and fuel in the village where we live are so much higher than they are in town, that we more than cover the cost of fuel for the drive and the cost of wear and tear on the car, when we travel all that way to make our purchases. If we had to pay local prices, we would be going without, a lot.

Actually, the gas station in our village has closed its pumps, permanently, so the closest fuel station is about 6 km. away. The fuel stations close to us are on highways, expensive, and meant to service travellers, rather than locals, so there is no shopping or other services available, just fuel.

About two weeks ago I took delivery of a buckwheat husk pillow. My main motivation is that people had described them as “cool” in the summer. I am a person who is almost always too hot in the spring, fall and summer. I will have to wait until the next heat wave to determine if the pillow is significantly cooler than other types of pillows.

However, I can report that the pillow surprisingly comfortable. The first night spent with the pillow provided me with a new experience. At one point I woke up, and detected that there was a light on in the living room. That might mean that Attila had not yet come to bed, that Attila had arisen during the night for a variety of reasons, or that it was morning. The thing was, when I awoke and saw the light, I could not tell whether I had slept for a short while and Attila was still up, or if Attila was up in the deep of the night, or if it was morning. I had absolutely no sense of time spent in the bed! This was a new experience, directly related to the buckwheat husk pillow. As it turned out it was morning, time to get up.

I am thinking that a mattress filled with buckwheat husks would be very comfortable; which led me to thinking about historical mattress materials. I constantly read that early settlers in North America used straw as mattress filling. I wonder why straw would have been preferred to buckwheat husks? Was straw cheaper, more easily obtainable, warmer, or merely traditional? I have found many “essays” online, describing Asian use of buckwheat filled mattresses, but these “essays” are not written by researchers, people who consult actual historical documents, they are written by entrepreneurs selling buckwheat husk products. So I consider myself uninformed as to the historical use of buckwheat husk filled mattresses.

Granny’s House in the late 1800s, early 1900s; before it was purchased by our family. It was built as a railway store, the false front, porch and balcony were removed, and the store relocated to the side addition, when our family took it over in 1930.

It was purchased by my Great Great Grandfather in 1930, then occupied by my recently married Grandparents, early in the Depression years. My Great Great Grandfather lived on the next farm down the road, which is where my Grandfather grew up. Both my Grandfather and Grandmother descended from families who were amongst the first European pioneers to settle in the area. The European families arrived in the region when land grants opened up in 1870. The first generations to arrive in the area had been born in Ireland and Scotland, and emigrated to Canada for a better life.

Granny’s House as it stands today.
DSCF3070 grannys house

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:30 PM EDT Sunday 25 August 2013
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 4 km
Temperature: 17.0°C
Dewpoint: 16.0°C
Humidity: 94%


“Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”
Elie Wiesel
1928 –


Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel

“Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel KBE (/ˈɛli vɨˈzɛl/; born September 30, 1928) is a Romanian-born Jewish-American[1] professor and political activist. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel is also the Advisory Board chairman of the newspaper Algemeiner Journal.

When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind,” stating that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler’s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a powerful message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity.”


Attila called to let me know that he is taking himself to the hospital emergency. The Hogweed burns on his hands have started to spread, significantly. I think he should have been referred to a dermatologist in the first instance, this is serious, serious stuff, Hogweed burns. But he wasn’t referred on. Our GP is away on vacation, no other GP is available right now; so off he goes to the hospital emergency.

Since Attila works outside, with his hands, this is very bad news. It probably means he won’t be able to work. There is no disability insurance where he works, so we will be without any income for a while.

This is definitely not the kind of change I had in mind. But you have to play the cards your dealt. I sure hope this cloud has a smidgeon of silver lining in it.

Attila will call me late tonight, after his visit, to let me know how things stand. Two hours of driving and the long wait in the hospital will make for a very late night for him.

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 19.4°C
Dewpoint: 10.6°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: NW 13 km/h


“Trying to tell you son if it wasn’t for bad luck, now now
Oh, oh, I wouldn’t have no luck at all
Would you believe I wouldn’t have no luck at all”
From If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck, written by Jimmy Lewis, performed by Ray Charles, 1969

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.

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


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


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

No See Ums

Attila has been dealing with skin issues, related to his late encounter with Hogweed. He itches, he swells, he turns bright red, the sun is his worst enemy; and he works out of doors in full sunlight, all day long, six days a week. Attila is fighting for comfort every single day.

I sympathize and watch with dismay. It hurts to see someone you love hurt. Quite frankly, it hurts me to see anyone hurting. And when it is this close to home I want to do something about it! But I cannot. Attila has it well in hand, and he is doing everything that is humanly possible to combat the evil effects of Hogweed. My efforts to “help” are not really helping Attila cope with the situation. So I must make an effort to remain as silent as possible, and not make hopeful suggestions aimed at finding relief for him.

The last few days I have been experiencing sudden, localized, and extreme itching. I thought it was probably sympathy pains for Attila. This morning I discovered that my itches are a result of insect bites. I felt the itch on my arm, looked down and saw only my skin. Then I noticed a small movement, and saw the almost microscopic body of a small insect, which then flew away. These little monsters have been biting me for days! They leave no marks, just a bit of an itch, and that doesn’t last very long. They are annoying, merely annoying.

Attila had a lovely Father’s Day! Terra cut the lawn at the little house in the city as a Father’s Day gift. Attila was surprised and delighted when we arrived at the little house late Saturday. He had been thinking that his Saturday evening would be entirely dominated by trying to get the lawn cut before dark; which would have been necessary because rain was predicted for Sunday, and cutting the grass in the rain is time consuming and labour intensive. Arriving after the long drive, to find that this stressful task was already taken care of, was a real thrill and “the best present anyone has ever given me”.

To add icing to the cake, Lares and Terra invited us to a BBQ at their house. So Attila not only had no pending duties when we arrived a the little house, he also was treated to a wonderful meal, a visit to see what Terra and Lares have been up to at their new house, and wonderful company for the evening.

On Sunday we chatted over Skype with Luna and Imp and Elf and Tink, which was great fun. We also chatted with Emmi, Otto Lilt and Skipper, again over Skype.

Attila called his Dad and had a nice chat. Attila’s Dad is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and needs oxygen. We did not know how serious this problem had become for him. He usually summers in Michigan, but can no longer travel, so he will be staying at this principal residence in Florida now. Because Attila works such long hours and has few vacation days, we cannot manage visits to the USA. I am hoping Attila’s Dad can get setup on Skype so that he can keep in touch with all his children, there are five of them.

After staying up late on Saturday night, rising early Sunday morning, and eating pre-processed foods last Sunday, I am still not feeling all that well. Aging is a privilege, but it is not without its down side. I have been going to bed early and eating well, and every day I feel a little better.

I am working the rest of the week, so I guess it is early to bed for the next three or four nights!

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 3.8°C
Dewpoint: 3.5°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: NNE 4 km/h

“It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.”
Malcolm Forbes
1919 – 1990