We are in hot water!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Funny when I think about it, when I was a kid, receiving at Christmas was all I thought about. It was magical, the thought that an entity existing in the “outside” world would be kind or generous in any way, Santa Clause was a myth with a heart. It wasn’t that we received much, a box of crayons, a colouring book, an orange, a banana and a handful of chocolate creams in our stockings, and one modest gift under the tree. It just meant the world to us, the joy of being accepted by the spirit of goodwill, that was Santa Clause. In reality, that was my Mom, and my Mom alone, who gave us that.

I don’t recall when it all shifted for me. I think it was when I first left home, and came back for Christmas. I spent my few dollars on…. fresh milk for my brothers and sisters, quarts and quarts of fresh milk. We didn’t drink pure fresh milk when I was a child, after the milk cow was slaughtered, always instant mixed with fresh. It was awful, instant milk. So I brought fresh milk for my siblings, for Christmas, so that they could drink as much as they wanted, for a short time.

Just to note for posterity: As a child I believed that Santa Clause had a heart, but I didn’t believe that Jesus did. My concept of Jesus was down to the humans at the local Churches, who left us with bad feelings, always bad feelings, they exuded condescension, contempt, intolerance, judgement, we could feel their poor opinion of us through all those superior smiles. We accepted Santa Clause into our hearts because Santa Clause accepted us. Jesus was keeping bad company, in our view, and it was best to leave him to sort that out for himself. It was generally believed that he was capable of accomplishing this.

Back at the country house, another grey day has dawned. Another day where the trees provide all the sunny yellow a person could possibly need.

On Tuesday night Attila brought home a new not water heater, one that he managed to procure at an excellent price. The down side to it is that we are not sure that it is functional, but will not lose our investment if it is not. If it does not work, another new water heater will be ordered locally, and will arrive next week. We have our fingers crossed that this new hot water heater will work!

Last night, after a quick supper, Attila began work on the new installation. The old hot water heater had to come out, to make room for the new. As Attila was maneuvering the old hot water heater out the door, he called to me for assistance. Mist figured it was a perfect opportunity to take a little trip into the great outdoors. I grabbed her just as she was about the make her great escape. She and I retreated to the back kitchen for some petting and conversation, until Attila had moved the old water heater out and the new water heater in.

It was a long job, and in the end, long after I had retired for the night, Attila had to leave it unfinished. One little part was missing on the new hot water heater, a plug. Attila was not able to find the part needed near here, so we will have to wait till next week to get the part and finish the project. That hot water is so close I can feel it!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last night after Attila arrived home from work, we had a quick supper, bit the bullet, and made the trip to town for parts for the hot water heater. We arrived back late in the evening, and Attila went right to work on it. An hour or so later he announced, “it is done, it works”! After waiting half an hour for the water to heat up, I had my first shower since Monday morning. Bliss!

We did dishes, we did laundry, Attila had a long hot bath… what luxury.

It was a late night, for all of that.

Today was the final day of curing for the masonry heater. Tomorrow it will be throwing some serious heat, and just in time! Overnight temperatures will begin to fall below freezing, starting tonight.

Attila and I are researching a replacement for our little car. It is a 1998 vintage model, which makes it 16 years old. Attila manages to keep it on the road, but this is becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. We have experienced several episodes of late, where it was off the road for repairs for an extended period of time. It is becoming less reliable.

There is another issue with it though, and that is that it can no longer travel long distances reliably. That means it cannot travel to the little house in the city, or to visit relatives. That means that when I am staying at the little house, and Attila needs to be there too, I must make the four to five hour drive back to the country to bring Attila back down to the little house, and then return him to the country house, before heading back to the little house myself. So bringing Attila to the little house involves 16 to 20 hours of driving. We do this.

However, if our 1998 vintage vehicle were replaced with a vehicle that could make the journey to the little house, then Attila could travel a one-way trip, to get there, and a second one-way trip, back to the country, which would entail 8 to 10 hours of driving. Half the time, half the cost of fuel.

We are also thinking that it would be a bad idea to wait until we are in desperate need, to replace the 1998 vintage vehicle. It would be much wiser to begin the search now, when we have time to be fussy, and to make careful, informed decisions.

Our present lifestyle was never the plan! We bought the little house to move there. We have both looked for work near the little house for over four years, without success. We have had our country house up for sale twice, with no success. Life is weird. When we bought the little house, to live there, Attila was working under the supervision of a drug addict, the company I was working for was folding, and we had nothing to lose by picking up and leaving. A few days after we took possession of the little house, the drug addict quit, Attila was promoted, and now values, even enjoys, his job. He and we suddenly had a lot to lose. So we carry on, renovating and maintaining both homes, wondering what twists and turns lie ahead.

We still make plans, and that is a faith based thing.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

14°C
Date: 11:33 AM EDT Thursday 16 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 14.4°C
Dewpoint: 14.4°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: W 9 km/h

7°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Saturday 18 October 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 6.8°C
Dewpoint: 6.2°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: NW 22 km/h

Quote

“Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat.”
Sir Julian Huxley
1887 – 1975

No!

Today’s forecast at the country house, that would be October 10, 2014:

“Partly cloudy. 60 percent chance of rain showers changing to 60 percent chance of wet flurries before morning. Low plus 1.”

Wet flurries, no! Too soon, too early, not yet… oh well.

Hopefully this lot will melt on contact.

I arrived home yesterday at around noon. Attila managed to come home for lunch and we were both very happy to share a meal in each other’s company! Attila looked, and felt, exhausted! He was as gaunt as I have ever seen him, which is saying something. The wood is in, we are ready for winter. He did it. It cost him.

He was falling asleep over supper, so I suggested he head to bed early, so at 8:30 p.m. he laid his head down to rest, and did not rise until 6:00 a.m. this morning. He still looks tired, but better, much better. Not only did he get the wood in while I was away, he worked a a lot of overtime.

We have some catching up to do here. It was cold in the house, and Attila did not have time to secure dry kindling or firewood for the little wood stove in the basement, for this morning. So, no heat. It was about 15C in the house, when we wandered into the kitchen to make our morning coffee, which is not comfortable for anything but sleeping under an eiderdown. Mega layers of sweaters and down vests got me through the day! Attila felt bad, but I would have none of that! He needed to rest last night, and surely I can manage a few short days, until he has had time to catch up on his sleep, for him to organize morning fires. Mist retreated to sleep on the eiderdown in front of the wood stove, hoping that it would receive attention in the near future. She was very patient today!

Another project on Attila’s list is to install a new hot water heater. When we first moved into this house the hot water heater was broken and needed to be replaced, which we did after six months of living here. The hot water heater we installed just gave up the ghost three days ago. Attila ordered a new one, but it will not arrive until the middle of next week; this is fortunate really because it gives Attila a bit of breathing space between projects. We will manage easily, as living without running hot water is something we have done before, and know how to handle.

I am shocked at how shoddy modern appliances are, truly shocked. They go into landfill sites after a short period of use, and are “built to bust”. They are not built to be repaired easily, which is a shame, we would much rather repair what we have, rather than constantly send large and small appliances underground at the landfill. It is not just the hot water tanks I am thinking of either, my GE electric kettle, a wedding present in 1969, works like a charm, while other kettles come and go. We have had to replace four refrigerators in the last 20 years, while my Granny’s refrigerator, which was over 65 years old, was still working, when it was stolen last summer. I have needed to purchase three vacuum cleaners over the last 20 years, and non of them work well, while the 1961 Electrolux (now Aerus), that I found at the dump, still works better than anything that I have ever owned.

Technology may be progressing, but it is leaving humans behind in the dust.

Progress is regress these days.

1961 Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner, Made In Canada! These items were found at the dump store. All things at the dump store are supposed to work, that is the rule. The vacuum cleaner works! The vacuum bottle, we discovered, does not, but it was manufactured more recently, so what did we expect! The vacuum bottle won’t stay warm for long, and it won’t stay cold for long. Attila still uses it for his morning coffee break, as it will hold heat for a few hours. It really should not have been at the dump store.
Electrolux thermos

I wonder, what is the oldest working appliance that you own?

Shame on the “make a buck, trash the planet” entrepreneurial crowd.

One of my projects for today was to cook an “all-day” pot roast in the cast iron dutch oven, the “appliance” that keeps on going, a birthday gift from Harriet. That provided Mist and I with a little heat. As well, a load of laundry was washed, another smidgeon of heat. The dryer had to wait until the hydro price drops at 7:00 p.m.

Attila came home from work and went to work immediately to get the little wood stove fired up. It did not take long to take the chill out of the air. Mist is pleased!

The masonry heater needs to be cured, a project for next week. Canadian Thanksgiving is our usual marker for beginning the curing process.

Even though it is cold and cloudy, the seasonal property owners are beginning to arrive for the holiday weekend. Most, perhaps all, of the cottages near us are kept heated during the fall, winter, and spring, ready for that weekend away from it all.

All the leaves have turned colour at the country house, and even on this cloudy, rainy, grey day, there is brightness and cheer wherever the eye falls.

Attila saved a funny letter for me to see! It was a self promotional flyer from one of the candidates running in the upcoming municipal elections. It was addressed only to Attila, and completely ignored me, the other property owner. This guy really knows how to win friends and influence people! Guess what sexist bozo doesn’t have prayer getting my or Attila’s vote next week!

Actually, we would never have voted for him anyway, because he is a seasonal-gone-full-time resident, who in my opinion aims to build his fantasy world, based on his “corporate management” expertise, seeking in his retirement to impose what I feel is an inappropriate corporate mind set, on a community of people. Corporations are about generating profit, they are not about people. Our local government is about leading people, or at least that is what it claims.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

9°C
Date: 4:24 PM EDT Friday 10 October 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 9.0°C
Dewpoint: 3.2°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: WSW 15 km/h

Quote

“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.”
A. J. Liebling
1904 – 1963

There and Back Again

The ice storm last weekend was spectacular! Not here of course, we experienced a slight drizzle of ice that had little effect. We know about the incredible ice storm only because we drove through the aftermath on our trip down to the little house in the city.

On Christmas Eve Day we headed out in the early morning for the little house in the city. The roads were cleared by then, and the sun shone brightly. As we travelled south we entered a fairyland of glitter and sparkle. The ice was more than a inch thick on all the trees, grasses, everything! The sunlight lit up the landscape such that I have never seen before. It was a joy to behold.

We arrived safely on Christmas Eve. There was a two foot high, solid ice barrier across the end of the driveway. Attila began the long process of chipping out an opening for the car, to get the car off the road for the night. Soon Terra drove up in her car, and then Lares drove up in his van. We were delighted when they opened the back of the van to show us our Christmas present, from Terra and Lares, Luna and Janus, a hot water heater! And to make the present totally perfect, Lares proceeded to install it for us, on the spot! After the water heater was installed, Lares helped Attila remove ice from the driveway, to the point where we could park the car off the road. Then off they went to visit other relatives in the area.

We spent the rest of the evening watching A Christmas Carol, the 1951 version starring Alistair Sim. On Christmas Day we opened our presents under our tiny tree, enjoyed our morning coffee, and listened to Christmas Carols. Then we drove out to Terra and Lares place to share a wonderful breakfast with them, and Lare’s long-time friend Gamers, again enjoying the ice encased scenery during the trip. Terra’s house was beautiful. She had several small Christmas Trees that they harvested from the back bush, and a large one in the bay window at the front of the house. It was festive and warm and wonderful.

The next day Attila and I headed out to Terra and Lare’s place again. We arrived in time to prepare the dressing, dress the turkey, and get it into the oven. Then Lare’s Dad and partner arrived, and Luna and Janus and the Grandbabies arrived, with Luna’s homemade cookies. Next Lare’s Grandmother arrived with her homemade rolls and apple pie, yum!

Terra’s house became to centre of our known universe for the next three days. Terra and Lares made us all feel welcome, safe, and warm.

And we had dogs, lots of dogs. First, the resident pooch, Dash, who was very pleased and excited to see all of us. Lare’s Dad’s dog, T-Bone, a good natured Bassett Hound arrived, much to Dash’s delight; they are best friends. Luna and Janus’s dogs Benny and Bim arrived. Benny is very good natured and affectionate. Bim is older now and easily overwhelmed by commotion. There were a lot of us, and we created a lot of commotion. Bim did very well, all things considered. Lare’s Grandmother’s dog Jeannie arrived next, another relaxed and good natured dog. And we also had cats, Terra’s three cats, who were not always enthusiastic about the dogs. Adults, kids, dogs, and cats everywhere, glorious.

We spent almost all waking hours visiting with Terra and Lares, and Luna, Janus, the Grandbabies and Gamers.

What fun to spend time with the the Grandbabies, Imp, Elf, and Tink!

This morning Attila removed most of the ice that remained on the driveway at the little house in the city. It was thick. The temperature today was above freezing, which facilitated breaking the ice into small enough chunks that they could be heaved aside. Most of the ice that had clung to the trees fell this morning as well, which means that there will be no further ice damage.

While Attila shovelled, I did made a whirlwind shopping trip, visiting five different stores, list in hand. When I returned from my shopping trip the drive was cleared. Attila and I ate a quick lunch, and then began the process of loading the car for the trip back to the country house. The very last carry out to the car was with Mist in her cage.

The trip home was uneventful. The roads were wet and clear, and dry and clear in spots. We encountered a wee bit of fog close to the country house. Although we were happy with the circumstances of our journey, Mist definitely was not. She yowled, mostly at the top of her lungs, through most of the journey. That is a lot of yowling! We brought her into the house as soon as we arrived home, and within five minutes she was ensconced on Attila’s seat and sleeping peacefully. Home sweet home.

The electric heaters kept the country house cozy and warm, so we arrived to comfort. The first fire is in the masonry heater, the car is unpacked, our belongings are put away, and we are beginning to wind down and relax.

Our time away passed in the blink of an eye!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Saturday 28 December 2013
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 6 km
Temperature: 0.4°C
Dewpoint: -0.5°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SSW 8 km/h

Quote

“It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.”
John Andrew Holmes

Kettles and Coolers

Part 1

So here it is, December!

I am writing this from the little house in the city. We drove down on Friday night, got here just before midnight. Mist will spend two nights on her own. We turned on the electric heat before we left, so the temperature will not drop to freezing no matter how cold it gets outside. If the power went out, she would still be warm enough, just not cozy, with the heat from the masonry heater. The cost of electric heat for a two night absence will probably be over $50 but hopefully under $100. We will not be doing that very often, or without careful consideration. That is one of the two huge difficulties we face in regard to winter mobility. The other is driving conditions.

Attila turned on the hot water heater, and a few hours later we had a lot of water spreading over the basement floor. Toast. The hot water heater is toast. It is old, really old and it came with the house. We were pleased to have it, although it was a real energy hog from the dark ages. Now we have a beautiful new shower in our bathroom and no hot water. That’s life. We cannot afford a new hot water heater right now, and certainly would never rent one from the companies in Canada. They try to lock you into contracts for life, with stiff fees to get out, no thank you. When we can afford a new hot water heater, we will purchase it outright and Attila will install it. In the meantime, when we need hot water we fill up and plug in the electric kettle.

Earlier this autumn our used refrigerator gave up the ghost. It is still in the kitchen, unplugged, with the doors held ajar with a broomstick. We use it as a storage cupboard. To keep our milk and eggs and cheese and perishables cold we use a cooler. It isn’t so bad. We have a Koolatron and we plug it in while we are visiting the house, and unplug it when we leave. Next summer we will probably resort to a regular cooler and make ice in our basement freezer to keep our perishables fresh.

So it is back to kettles and coolers at the little house in the city. I look at is as a luxurious winter camping experience. You can usually, barring evil, find a comforting perspective for less than perfect circumstances. Life is generally a less than perfect experience, for the majority anyway.

Attila has been working on the wiring. He has removed countless yards of dead electrical wires. He is now removing wiring that was ill conceived, replacing and rerouting it correctly. We have decided that over the winter that is what he will work on, and it is slow going. And the before and after pictures look almost the same!

When we arrived at the little house in the city, there was snow on the ground. We expected to be forced to park on the street, blocked by the snow banked across the end of the driveway by the snow plow. However, one of our neighbours had ploughed our driveway. We do not know who it was, but what a wonderful thing to do! There are very good reasons I prefer the little house in the city to the beautiful country house. All that glitters is not gold.

Because our little house in the city is in such a friendly little neighbourhood, I decided to put up a few Christmas decorations, just to make the house seem friendly too. I spent $3.00 on Christmas balls and a big red ribbon for the front door, all plastic, all made in the third world. It looks cheery from a distance, which is what I wanted it to do.

I felt bad, and so I should, buying these cheap goods made by people who are underpaid and probably not treated all that well either. I couldn’t find any Canadian made baubles to buy. I will handle my $3.00 worth of cheap baubles with care, and reuse them year after year, and send my Christmas goodwill energy to those workers around the world who are making poverty wages. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. And I will watch for opportunities to buy Canadian made goods whenever I can.

Part 2

We left for home about noon today. The day was overcast with intermittent rain. At least rain is what we started out with. As we travelled north the rain became more robust, until it became wet snow. The roads were wet, but there was no ice because the temperature remained above 0C. We arrived home at dusk, and so avoided having to drive after dark through snow, and dropping temperatures.

The country house was cool, 9C when I came up the stairs with the first load of belongings. Mist was sleeping in my chair. While she was still sleeping I began to build a fire in the masonry heater. She did not waken until the flames were well under way. Since she is stone deaf, I could make a racket setting the fire and not disturb her sleep. However, the bit of heat that began to emanate from the heater caused her to wake suddenly. She thought about berating me for our absence, and the lack of heat, but just as she got started she was distracted by the flickering fire, and sat before the heater staring, or should I say worshipping, the flames.

The first firing of the masonry heater brought the temperature up to 14C, which is not quite warm enough, Mist and I agree. Attila chopped more wood, and has started a fire in the little wood stove downstairs, to supplement the heat until the masonry heater is fully charged again.

This was the first visit this autumn, to the little house in the city, that we have had to concern ourselves with heating while we are away. What a pain the patootie! Mist agrees.

Tonight it is “warm” outside, hovering above freezing. I can tell because the accumulated snow on the roof is sliding down, falling, and landing with great whoooomfs on the deck!

According to the weather people, we will have freezing drizzle tomorrow. Lucky us, to have missed travelling in freezing drizzle!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0°C
Date: 7:23 PM EST Sunday 1 December 2013
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: 0.3°C
Dewpoint: 0.2°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: calm

Quote

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”
Dorothy Parker
1893 – 1967