Yay!

The garage roof is on! All the metal sheets are installed, Attila did it all last night.

When Attila came home from work yesterday we had a little chat. I relayed to him how important it was to me to get the last metal panels on the roof, for my peace of mind. I’ve made only comments of encouragement up until this point, but I realized that if installing those last panels was not made a priority, I would not be a happy camper. Better to say something, I reckoned.

As a result of our not altogether relaxed conversation, Attila tackled the last panels last night, after he ate his dinner. He feels a lot of pressure when I insist on something being done the way I think it should be done, when he is doing the labour, in this case I was insisting that, before anything else, the last metal panels had to go onto the roof. He enjoys a project less when he has to accommodate another viewpoint, but he did agree with the logic of it, and proceeded accordingly.

Attila finished installing the last panels before darkness fell last night. There are still tasks involved to finish the metal panel installation, but the panels are where they need to be, ready to do the job they need to do.

This morning I arose at 5:00 a.m. I could hear distant thunder. Sitting with my morning coffee, I watched the lightning and marvelled at the rain. For half an hour you could find me stationed at the dining room window, gazing out at the metal roof, watching the rain run down and away in little rivers. Later you could find me standing dry and comfortable, in the garage itself, listening to rain pounding on the metal roof. I felt vindicated in pushing for finishing off the metal roof panel installation last night!

It had been my plan to work on cleaning the garage in the early morning, before the heat of the day set in. The humidity was so high, that I decided that bending down to the floor to vacuum, while reaching over to the shop vac to hold fast the hose where it attaches, was overly ambitious. A new shop vac hose was in order, I decided. By the time the store opened, Canadian Tire, and the new shop vac hose was home and tested, the heat in the garage was stifling. I missed my window of opportunity for cleaning today, but early tomorrow morning I’ll be ready to get back to it for a few hours!

I did though, manage to wash a load of laundry, and hang it out to dry under the back porch. In this humidity, it didn’t dry very fast, but eventually it did dry.

Today Attila was working on the area of the roof that abuts the garden shed. This small section is complicated, as he must custom fit the roofing materials for this small area. After completing the lower section there, he moved to the front of the garage, where the wall above the doors needs to be rebuilt. Attila’s peace of mind will begin when this has been completed, since it is visible to the street. When the wall has been rebuilt and painted, then, Attila says, he will take a morning off, and we will go for a walk.

The Instant Pot is going to cook dinner on the back porch this evening, Sweet & Sour Meatballs With Rice and Mixed Vegetables. The Instant Pot won’t have to work very hard to be hot enough to cook dinner, on the porch in the heat of the early evening.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Heat Warning
29°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Saturday 30 June 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 29.0°C
Dew point: 23.2°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: WSW 18 km/h
Humidex: 39
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”
Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

Cleanup Begins

The new metal roof, at least the part that has been installed!

I like to create my own recipes. Usually, almost always, the results are pleasing. But, when I try a new technique, or appliance, there is a learning curve.

It took a six week course, and six weeks of reading, and making notes, before I was ready to try the Pressure Canner. The first time I used it, it was nerve wracking, but I soon became comfortable with it. This was one appliance that I did not experiment with, food preservation is very different than food preparation, the food safety rules are completely different, and food preservation demands respect. I stuck with the tried-and-true tested recipes; no YouTube learning on this one, I stuck to the university extension services for advice.

Food preparation is a lot more forgiving than food preservation. Experimentation is rarely dangerous, if basic safety precautions are practised, and you don’t use poisonous ingredients, but it is sometimes distasteful, even inedible.

I have been having fun experimenting with the Instant Pot. I mainly rely on the basics outlined in the cookbook that came with the appliance. However, the cookbook does not go into much detail, just lists ingredients, and time needed to cook them. I’ve been enjoying looking at recipes and information on social media. Social media though, is “street learning”, it isn’t comprehensive, nor is it accountable for the accuracy or thoroughness of the information it provides. Social media is the playground of the self-defined expert, where presentation is more important than content. Most of what we see on social media is aimed at some kind of profit seeking, branding, or attention seeking. Always interesting, sometimes reliable, viewer/reader beware. I love perusing social media for recipes, but I have to remember where I am!

Yesterday evening, while trying to pressure cook the second batch of Beef Stew, I ran into trouble, the pressure valve did not pop up. The Instant Pot counted down on the timer as expected, but there was no pressure. The potatoes did not cook as expected. Something new to learn! Attila says the stew is fine as it is. I am tempted though, to put it into bowls, place a cup of water in the Instant Pot pot, then the trivet, then the bowl of stew, and pressure cook it again for ten minutes.

Winging it requires a thorough understanding of how the Instant Pot works, my understanding is increasing through trial and error. I believe the issue is that the stew was too thick, so that when it began to cook some of it stuck to the bottom of the pan, and this prevented steam from developing to allow for pressure cooking. The pressure valve did not pop up, pressure cooking did not take place. The stew was thick due to the flour that the meat had been dredged in before browning it with the sauté function, and the addition of Blue Hubbard Squash puree. I won’t dredge the stewing beef next time, and will ensure that there is enough “free” liquid to create the steam needed for pressure cooking.

My other discovery, through reading, is that milk products, when heated, will form a film over the bottom of the pot, preventing adequate steam from forming. I knew about the film, but had not known about how it would affect steam in the Instant pot. This is not desirable, no steam, no pressure cooking, and burnt food on the bottom of the pot. This is why the Rice Pudding recipes call for stirring in the milk and egg after pressure cooking; and why Bread Pudding, containing milk and eggs, is steamed in a bowl in the Instant Pot, which is placed on a trivet above water in the bottom of the pot.

When I was trouble shooting the Stew, I discovered how to remove the Anti Lock Shield, and the Float Valve, to clean them. They will be checked before each use.

The humidity arrived yesterday. The heat will arrive today. In honour of the current conditions, my curtains remain drawn against the heat of the sun. Early in the afternoon, the Cabana Curtains will be drawn across the back porch. And the air source heat pump will keep the house at a steady temperature of 22.5C, with reasonable humidity.

My hope, that Attila would complete the metal roofing last night, was overly optimistic. He installed two panels, one of which had to be cut lengthwise, which turned out to be a bit time consuming. There are five more panels to go, and I am optimistic that these will be installed before the end of the weekend.

The panels that were installed are underneath the dining area windows. The light reflects off the metal roof, onto the underside of the awning outside the window, also light in colour, and brings a lovely diffused light into the windows. The kitchen is very much brighter thanks to this new metal roof!

Since rain is not in the forecast, and the installation of the remaining metal roof panels is imminent, today the garage cleanup will begin. First, all the tarps were dragged out to the driveway and sun dried, both sides, to kill off any mould/mildew spores. Then they were all carefully folded for storage, hopefully never to be needed again in the interior of the garage, or any other building I ever have to go into! By the time this task was complete, I was overheating, so I took a long break indoors, in the air conditioning. I stripped to my underwear at the door, not wanting to bring the filthy clothes into the house, and was so refreshed that I decided not to bother getting dressed until I was ready to put the filthy work clothes on and head back out to the garage.

Returning to the garage, this time with a breathing mask, I soon discovered that my glasses almost instantly fogged up so that I could not see. Off came the glasses. When I started vacuuming the floor in the garage, the shop vac was easy to move around. By the time I decided to stop, having covered about 1/10th of the floor area, the shop vac was very heavy to lift. It will need to be dumped before continuing.

The shop vac is very old, about 20 years old if I remember correctly. The hose does not seat into the unit properly, so that the hose is always falling off the shop vac, unless I stand close to it and hold the end of the hose in with my hand. The other end is also broken, but not repaired, so it no longer accepts attachments. Using the shop vac involves bending down to direct the wobbly end of the hose where it needs to go. Other than the hose situation, the old shop vac works well. Too bad it is such a misery to work with. It was a model sold by Sears, it lasted longer than they did.

I worked in the garage until I was so dripping with sweat that I could no longer see, and my clothes were sticking to me. Enough! I came indoors, took off the filthy clothes by the door, and headed for the shower. Ahhhh! That’s better.

At least the clean up has started, that is something. The garage looks a lot roomier with all those tarps folded and sitting in one big pile, and it looks a wee bit cleaner.

Aarrg! The pepper mill just bit the dust, right in the middle of making a sandwich. It was a very inexpensive pepper mill, $5.00, very cheaply made, had it for years. Efforts to repair it were a waste of time.

I ordered a new one from Amazon, highly rated, Peugeot U Select from France, it has a lifetime warranty. At my age the company may just last as long as I do, making the warranty a relevant offer, from my point of view. I would peruse charity shops for a pepper mill, but the fuel to get there and back is $20, there is no economy in the exercise. I checked Kijiji, and the same pepper mill I just purchased was $40 used, plus shipping. I paid $38 for it, new (on sale), with free delivery courtesy of Amazon Plus.

I did find Canadian made pepper mills, loved them, but at $190 +- they are beautiful, and clearly beyond our means. Buying local is a lovely concept, but often local items are artisanal, and priced accordingly.

The old one won’t end up in a landfill, the wood will be burned in the camp fire at the Rideau Camp, and the metal parts will go into recycling.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

20°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 29 June 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.4°C
Dew point: 16.9°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WNW 9 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km
Mainly sunny. High 29 except 25 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 35. UV index 8 or very high.

Quote

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

Music

This morning I’ve decided to resume muffin baking. To that end a tub of frozen pureed squash has been fetched from the freezer in the basement, and is thawing on the kitchen counter.

I love live music. This is something I discovered in my thirties, after my first marriage ended, and my own likes and dislikes were allowed to bloom. Living in downtown Toronto, I was able to enjoy live music everywhere I went, bars, cafes, walking down the street, open stages, musical get togethers with musical friends, and in many more ways. At that time I wrote a lot of poetry, and read my work at open stages, and sometimes in bars (where I found a surprisingly appreciative audience, if I got on stage before the serious drinking started). All that was a lifetime ago, and since then there has been no other social activity that has held the same appeal.

Attila and I have decided that we will explore music venues within driving distance of Mist Cottage. Last night we drove for about 40 minutes to listen to a band at a bar, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The band was friendly, the staff at the bar were friendly, the other patrons were friendly, no one really cared who we were, they were just happy to have us there… it was a social-engineer-free zone. We will be exploring other venues in the weeks to come, and in the years to come. Who knows, I might start writing again, and do a reading here and there, or maybe not, it depends on how I feel at any given moment.

Up until last night every evening musical event Attila and I have attended, in the last fifteen years or so, has been “stiff”, with the performers feeling too special, too focused on building a “fan” base, to genuinely connect with the people in the audience, the hosting individuals feeling too excited about their own importance to be genuinely present to anyone but the performers they are so enamoured with. This kind of atmosphere is not appealing to me, or to Attila. No performer is so special that being genuine with people is beneath their dignity. The most talented people are usually “over themselves” very early on in the game. Part of the magic of creativity is in its openness, absent in the performer/adoring-fan binary cage.

It is very cold today! I was only out of doors for a short time. Every year a Christmas card arrives in our mailbox, addressed to our neighbour at our address. Every year I bundle up, walk over the neighbour’s house, and pop it into their mailbox. Today was delivery day.

This isn’t the jolliest Christmas I’ve ever experienced. Without realizing it, I’ve been listening to canned playlists of Christmas music, instead of my cherished collection of Christmas music on CDs. Why? I find I don’t want to associate the the disoriented feelings I have this year with the music I love. I want to listen to that music in future years and enjoy it without triggering the sad feelings I have this year. If the universe allows, these sad feelings will fade, and their existence used as a tool, but not revisited as part of Christmas memories. One pass through these feelings will be enough. There are lots of good feelings floating around at Mist Cottage this Christmas, making good will and hope the order of every day. That in itself is a wonderful thing.

In the colder weather Mist Cottage switches automatically from heating with the air source heat pump to the oil furnace. When that happens the air dries out, everything dries out, and the humidity in the house plummets. Today soaked washcloths are draped in front of every heat register, where they dry in less an hour, at which time they are carted over the sink, soaked again, and placed back in front of the registers. The humidity level is being maintained in this way, but no gains are being made, it is holding steady at 28%.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-20°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Thursday 14 December 2017
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -20.1°C
Dew point: -23.3°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NNW 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
Helen Keller
1880 – 1968

Picnic

Today I am rethinking my crochet project. The cover-up top is not turning out quite the way I had envisioned it. The original concept was to create two mesh panels and join them at one end to create shoulders and an opening for the neck, a very simple design. The opening is bunched and will be uncomfortable, not to mention unattractive, the design is flawed. The front panel is complete, the back panel about a third of the way done, and the yarn is almost completely gone. It is decision time. Shall more yarn be purchased to complete the project as envisioned, or will the project be partially or totally frogged, either redesigned or abandoned. When trying something experimental, these are the kinds of decisions that arise.

It is time to get back into the health care treadmill again. Today it is a blood test, which will need a followup appointment in the city. There are a few questions to be asked, and further appointments to schedule. Dental care is also on my list of things to research today. It has yet to be determined if I am covered under Attila’s plan where he works, so cost is a major issue.

This evening we plan to picnic at the Rideau Camp. Attila has a list of items he wants to transport to the Camp, so a short weekday visit is in order. Now that we have some storage space in Grace The Trailer, there are items we will leave at the Camp, such as the cushion for the lounge chair. The lounge chair has been with us since 1999, as has the cushion, but thus far we have seldom used them, so that they are in very good condition. We have seen, over the last ten years or so, the exact same chair at dumps, many times actually, discarded due to lack of style, not due to lack of function.

The weather is turning warm, with daily highs in the high-twenties. This would be lovely, but the humidity transforms this into a humidex reading in the mid-thirties, which is not comfortable. This means I will suffer in the outdoors. My hands and feet will swell significantly, and I will feel lethargic and distressed much of the time. Our visits to the Rideau Camp now will see me resting in the shade through the heat of the afternoons, drinking lots of water. There will be no burning of dead wood or brush through the heat of the day, no projects. As I grow older the heat and humidity of the summers has a greater impact on my health. This slows me down, but it doesn’t stop me.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 11:09 AM EDT Wednesday 12 July 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.9°C
Dew point: 20.1°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: SSE 10 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
David Brin
1950 –

Waitin’ for the Window

Technology is changing so quickly now that there is no keeping up with it. Purchasing anything technological is like stepping onto a moving escalator, you are only staying in the same place and up to date with your item for a nanosecond, then it is uncool, and within months, sometimes days, it is obsolete. So, I use my old technology as long as it will hang in and do the job. My computers are an example of this.

I have an old G4, still going strong, but I never turn it on. It doesn’t do wireless, or play video DVDs, or run the necessary browsers to interact with most web sites. But it still works just the way it was meant to the year I bought it.

Then there is the iMac. Much newer, the iMac was the machine that helped me live through a horrendous end-of-the-endless-winter March, when I sat by my window for days and days, watching for the delivery van; there was no other traffic on the street, I could have heard it coming, but I watched all day long, and that sense of anticipation kept me from falling into the depths of cabin fever. The iMac is old enough that it will no longer be adequate for the requirements of operating system updates. It, like the G4, will move out of sight on the endless escalator of progress. So far it is used daily as our entertainment system. When that function becomes untenable, it too will cease to be used on a regular basis, and will sit in its perfection in a corner.

Now I use a 2012 MacBook Air as my daily computer. It is already aging, the battery no longer holds a charge for very long, but the operating system updates should be viable for a few more years. We tried to use the MacBook Air to run our short Tai Chi video when we were at the Rideau Camp last weekend, it only lasted 10 minutes on the first day, then it ran out of juice. I imagine I will be using the MacBook Air until it too is conveyed out of site on the moving stairway to heaven.

Attila and I have come to postpone purchases of technology until we have no choice because the old equipment simply will not function as needed. We wait for the window of opportunity that will give us a product that will move as far into the future as is possible. Atilla is using our first cell phone, pay as you go, a flip phone with a broken hinge and a dodgy battery, that we purchased the summer of 2006, 10 years ago. It can still function as an emergency contact device. Attila does not like to be called during his work day, when he goes to work we have no contact with each other at all until he arrives home. Having a cell phone for texting would be a complete waste of time for him. He has no need of a smart phone. I am keeping my eyes open for a heavy duty cell phone on sale, one that works well without data and bells and whistles. Perhaps this item does not exist. If I wait long enough something like it might come to exist at any time. I am waitin’ for the window of opportunity to open.

Tuesday morning was filled with errands. Attila had his prescription transferred from a pharmacy near the country house to a pharmacy near Mist Cottage, the same pharmacy where I get my prescriptions filled. They hire local people, the owners live in town, and the employees act as if they own the business and want it to do well. I called them this morning and the prescription was ready for pickup. When I got home I noticed they were using our country home address, so I gave them a call and gave them our current address, so I think we are now up to date.

I also made a telephone call to Toronto, and was very pleased to be informed that the conviction for parking offence ticket that I received in the mail is in the process of being cancelled. Thank goodness I can finally stop fretting about getting that thing cancelled, it took many telephone calls, and an email request, to get the cancellation started. I was told a letter would be sent to me in the mail, confirming the cancellation.

Also on my list was a trip to the bank. When Attila and I bought paint for the new garden shed, we sent in the forms to receive a rebate. The cheque arrived and needed to be deposited in our account. Luckily the bank is a short walk from the pharmacy, so I could park once and walk to the places I needed to go.

My next stop was the library. I returned two books that I had read, renewed a third book which I hadn’t had a chance to read, and selected two additional books. I was looking for a book by a particular author, Patrick Rothfuss, but the library did not have any of his books on the shelf. I will have to try the Ontario Library Service and see if I can find one of his books there. His work sounded interesting in a short article that I read, and I wanted to see if his books lived up to the hype.

The weather would have been lovely this week had it not been for the humidity. It is supposed to be very warm all week, with possible thunderstorms. The garden needs the rain, so a rainy day will be welcome. We have eaten fresh green beans from the garden for the last three nights, the same plants that we planted in the spring are flowering and bearing again after the long summer heat and drought. The Scarlet Runner beans are thriving, with plentiful blooms and lush foliage; Attila tells me there are quite a few beans which will soon be ready for harvesting. We have only had two tomatoes from our plants, a disappointing harvest to say the least. So far we have had no peppers from the plants that we put in in the spring. We harvested a dozen or so heads of garlic earlier in the summer. The garden wasn’t all that we had hoped this year, the drought took its toll. I hope to have a rain harvesting system in place by next summer, just in case another drought occurs.

My high blood pressure has not responded well to the doubling of my current medication. Three readings by doctors confirmed that my hypertension was no longer being controlled by the low doses of medication I was taking. It was hoped that doubling the medication would bring it down; it has not, the four readings I have taken were all unacceptably high. I have a machine at home that measures my blood pressure, and it is accurate when compared to the measurements taken at the doctor’s office. I have a follow up appointment next week with the drop-in clinic doctor, so I am hoping he can come up with a plan to bring my blood pressure down to acceptable levels. This is a sudden development, my skyrocketing blood pressure, it was normal when taken at the Emergency department in March of this year. I honestly feel the change is due to the overload of stressful events that played out this summer, culminating with the sudden passing of my brother. I will keep at this until I get my blood pressure back within the normal range.

Luckily our little house is very comfortable. This summer has been very hot and humid, only one day was comfortable enough to turn off the heat pump and open the windows. It isn’t as restrictive as winter, there is no snow to contend with, no winter coats, no boots. But it has been a summer where outdoor activity has been downright unhealthy for those of us who can’t tolerate extreme heat. Today I stepped out onto the back porch to fetch a water basin, and the air felt like warm soup, hard to breath and watery. I look forward to autumn.

At this point in time my writing rambles along like a bee visiting blooms in a garden!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 8 September 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 23.2°C
Dewpoint: 22.4°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: S 13 km/h
Humidex: 33

Quote

“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”
Thomas Jefferson
1743 – 1826

I wonder what he would think of the super-sized information highways of today!