What I did on my summer vacation.

Our first summer vacation in over two decades came in the summer of 2016. We were very excited! My brother had a heart attack and died that week. In 2017 our second opportunity for a summer vacation came up, and we spent it at our Rideau Camp. That week a neighbour destroyed a corner of our property with his tractor, and a property dispute ensued, in which I ended up having to involve the police to prevent the individual from continuing to damage the property, it was not fun, and certainly not relaxing. In addition to that miserable process, it was cold and rained the whole time we were there,

So, this year, when an opportunity for a summer vacation came along, I decided to pass. God only knows what misery would befall me on a third attempt at leisure and pleasure.

Attila had last week off. The first Saturday began as hot and humid as it had been all summer, being outdoors was not bearable. It was the Labour Day long weekend in Ontario. I thought perhaps it might be fun to drive out to a few local farms, who advertised on the internet. I was looking for tomatoes, and although several farms indicated they sold tomatoes, none of them offered any information on availability. I called their telephone numbers, only one farm line answered. He was quite unpleasant, told me he wanted $75 a bushel for his tomatoes, that there were none left, and I could put in my order for next year with a deposit. I politely declined. So we chose the nearest farm in the listings (not the unpleasant fellow) and set out.

There was a bad accident on a nearby highway, and all of the long weekend traffic was rerouted through our small area. It took over an hour to get out of town and to the first farm. They had clearly gone out of the business of selling to the public, the stand partly demolished, nor was there any sign of farming activity. I wish they had taken their listings off the internet, but I know how time-consuming that can be, so I don’t really blame them for not seeing to it.

Conclusion: the internet is not a good way to find local goods and services.

It took another hour to get back through town, which took us by a grocery store, so we popped in for a few things. And there they were, Roma tomatoes by the 25 pound box, and Red Shepherd peppers by the 20 pound box! The tomatoes were $8 a box, and the peppers were $10 a box. They were grown in Ontario, but not anywhere near where we live. We bought two boxes of tomatoes and one box of peppers. The outing to visit local farms and purchase local produce was abandoned.

So, I began to can tomatoes. I pressure canned batches of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce and pureed tomatoes right through until Monday, and spent at least 12 hours each day on my feet, getting it done. Attila helped a bit, sitting and turning the food mill, which helped a lot.

On Tuesday the heat wave was still going strong, and being outdoors was still going to be unbearable. So I thought it would be interesting to try again to buy local produce. This time I decided that an apple farm where we had purchased apples in the past, would be the place to visit. Attila liked the idea, so off we went for a drive in the country. It was hot and humid out there, but we were comfortable in the air-conditioned vehicle, and the long drive in the country was fun and relaxing.

We bought a 1/2 bushel of Paulared Apples. I also treated myself to a new paring knife, a Victorinox serrated knife, that was for sale for $9 at the apple farm store. A little vacation indulgence. Attila chose a plastic jar opener, for opening hard-to-open jars, as his little indulgence. We took our apples and indulgences and set out on the back roads towards home.

It was on one of those back roads that we bumped into a farmer selling produce out of her barn. She didn’t have a lot, but we did get six quarts of lovely new potatoes, and a large ripe melon.

We had a good time.

On Wednesday the day was spent turning the apples into applesauce.

On Thursday the applesauce was preserved by pressure canning.

Thursday was the last day of miserable hot and humid weather.

Friday dawned sunny and cool. At last! I decided to go “hiking” at a local park trail. Attila though that was a grand idea, so that is what we did. We weren’t sure just how it would work out, me with my arthritic knee, and Attila with his bad back and painful ankle. We chose the easy trail, not too long, and spent a lot of time sitting at the water’s edge just enjoying the sound of the waves lapping, and the birds calling.

Saturday dawned sunny and cool. Yay! I decided to go “hiking” again. Based on our success on the last “hike”, we chose a slightly more challenging trail, a moderate rated trail, two kilometres long. What a glorious time we had, again, sitting for a long time at the water’s edge. This time, as we were sitting watching the water lap against the rocks and submerged trees trunks, a beautiful mink ran across the shore in front of us. We were downwind from the water, so that it probably did not realize we were there until it was well on its journey. When it became aware of us, it scooted across in front of us and off into the brush. At another point in our walk, we stopped to watch a group of women in a small motorboat, who were out fishing. They caught our attention with their cries of excitement and amazement as one of them caught a fish. They were enjoying themselves so much, it was contagious. My knee, and Attila’s back and ankle, survived the experience without distress, we were pain-free and tired when we arrived back at the car. Out came the lawn chairs from the trunk of the car, cool beverages were fetched from the cooler in the back seat, and we set ourselves up in the shade to enjoy the breeze and the trees, while we rested from our adventure.

Once rested we headed for the Rideau Camp. Once there I heated up a pot of chilli for our supper, while Attila started a camp fire, over which he cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. We enjoyed a quiet meal, then sat around the camp fire for a few hours until the light began to fail. The fire was doused and then we were on our way home. It was a another lovely day.

Mouse Tales

Mice invaded Grace the trailer over last winter and have been a nightmare this summer. Three weeks ago, while applying Mouse Free to the undercarriage of the trailer, with a paint brush, Attila discovered a gap tucked behind the siding at the front jack. That opening, and another we found in the rear, were then filled with steel wool, then painted with Mouse Free. This was all done in hope of preventing more mice from entering.

BUT there was a high possibility that there were remaining mice in the trailer. Snap traps were being turned over and raided without catching the mice. When a mouse was caught in a snap trap, it was a pretty gory affair to clean up. So I got a 5 gallon pail, filled it with about 10 inches of water, smeared a bit of peanut butter horizontally for a few inches, just above the water line, and placed a 1×2 board up to the lip of the rim as an entry ramp for the mice. We caught six mice. Yesterday, after leaving the trailer for a week, there were no mice in the trap. There were no new droppings anywhere in the trailer.

That brings us to today, the last day of the “vacation”. Today nothing is planned. Attila is doing a lot of little things he wants to get done before he goes back to work. I am puttering, my usual kind of puttering about, going from one little task to another, like a bee wandering from bloom to bloom.

This may or may not have solved our mouse issues. I live i hope.

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Sunday 9 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dew point: 4.0°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: NE 19 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are the more leisure we have.”
William Hazlitt
1778 – 1830

Shame and Responsibility

Yesterday was cloudy, hot, and muggy.

We decided to stay home for the weekend, and tackle small projects around the house.

My projects included paying bills, collecting items on the list of things to take out to the Rideau Camp on the next visit, and crocheting water balloons.

Attila’s projects yesterday included planting the squash and the scarlet runner beans, weeding the garden, and installing a lattice screen across the end of the back porch, for privacy from the road. The fir tree used to provide adequate privacy, but the bottom branches have died back since we had the basement perimeter dug up to waterproof the basement, and the water main leak was repaired by the municipality, just too much change for the tree.

Today I am remembering my greatest shame. It is an incident from my early years, Grade One or Two, and the only person who called it was my teacher, bless her heart. Her response to my unkindness to another human being, performed to impress the clique of small town girls, for their approval, set me on the social path I have followed ever since.

I don’t remember the details of the incident very clearly any more, but I do remember the feelings. We ate our lunches, those of us who stayed at school for lunch, at our desks. My desk was near a little girl who was new, and only there on a temporary basis, her family were farm labourers who migrated to follow the harvests. I too lived on a farm, and the small town girls were not very nice to those few of us who came in to school from the outlying farms. One day at lunch, the small town girls were friendly with me, and persuaded me to be mean to the little girl sitting near me. Hoping for acceptance, my young self let herself be persuaded, let that longing for acceptance override natural tendency. It was a small mean thing I did, hiding her lunch bag, or her milk bottle, or something like that. The little girl’s reaction was only to lower her head, to cry. I felt terrible, and found that the small town girls were laughing, not just at the little girl’s pain, but at me as well, for playing the fool. The teacher came to hear about the incident, and took me aside for a quiet word. She asked me how I thought the little girl felt, she asked me how I felt, then she put her arm around my shoulders, gave me a quick hug, and sent me on my way.

I don’t think the clique of girls, who used my longing for acceptance, ever felt bad about that incident. As I grew older I observed these types of girls, in elementary school, in high school, in university. They always looked ugly to me, no matter what they looked like on the outside.

Ever since, I have carefully considered the issue of approval and reward, and just how much the who and why matter when it comes to affirmations. My conclusion has been that the only people worthy of providing valuable feedback are those who are busy being themselves, to the point where they have developed internal integrity. Having come to this conclusion, these beautiful people have come into focus, and into my life.

At a Celebration of Life for a dear companion and friend, Pat Logier, one of the musicians said of myself with Attila, “where does she find them!” The answer is, I don’t, these connections are a gift from the universe, and have not been found by seeking, only by being true to myself.

There is another issue that comes to mind, when I explore the issue of shame in my life. It is concerning that which I have participated in, in innocence of malice, or ill will, that may have caused harm to some people. Being blind to the strategies and machinations of the intolerant, the greedy, and the ambitious is not something I am ashamed of, but it is something that I feel compelled to acknowledge, and whenever possible to avoid. I did not create our social ills due to single unknowing acts of complicity, with well organized, often entrenched and cloaked designs for power, and wealth creation and maintenance. I can not change these designs through single knowing acts. It is my choice, once I am aware of how a social ill evolves, and what role I have been assigned to play in the process, to do what I can, wherever and whenever I can, to act with personal integrity.

I feel I should provide an example of this abstract description, if only to remind myself, years from now, upon rereading this entry, what meaning this has in a material sense.

A glaring example would be racial prejudice. I grew up in an environment that did not display or express racial hatred. When I ran into it for the first time, I did not know it for what it was. I participated in it as a member of a group, following the leader without question. I was a cheerleader in high school. My first year as a cheerleader saw me with my team at the side the football field, in front of the bleachers, during games played with other high school football teams. One of the schools was a Catholic School, and the student population was almost entirely of Italian descent; which I didn’t know or even notice at the time. One of the cheers the team leader led had an ending that went like this: “wop, wop, wop“. It was meant to be a racial insult. We were supervised by teachers I might add, and at no point was this particular cheer, used only for competitions with this particular school, questioned. I do not feel shame for trusting my team captain, and my teachers, to behave honourably. I do not feel shame for not knowing that the competing team was Catholic or Italian in descent, these were not what the game of football was about, these attributes were not mentioned overtly in my presence, and I had no experience with disdain for other nationalities or religions. I do feel that it was, and is, my personal responsibility to learn from the experience, and not to trust the status quo, authority figures, or media figures, to provide the checks and balances needed to ensure that all members of society are treated with respect.

I feel that the greatest gift I have ever received has been a sense of personal responsibility for my own actions and words, a sense that what I do and and what I say matters, even if no one else sees or hears me. I own my words and actions. I think some people regard this a relationship with God, for me it is a relationship with myself. And perhaps that fits, as some people feel that God exists in all of us.

Is it ever too late in life to commit yourself to owning your own words and actions?

I don’t know.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

20°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Sunday 18 June 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.6°C
Dew point:18.4°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SSE 27 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”
George Sand
1804 – 1876