First Snow!

I think this is the first video clip I have ever created to post on this site! I am a complete beginner when it comes to videos, and this is the result of taking a video with the iPad this morning, then using iMovie to edit it a bit, save it, upload it, and place in this entry. I watched about 45 minutes of videos on how to use iMovie before getting this result. The beginner iMovie youtube videos move way too fast and don’t cover the basics very well. I will be searching for a video made by someone with a bit of instructional ability, not just technical ability! Baby steps!
ANYWAY, this was our snow this morning, so pretty.

It is snowing here this morning, lots and lots of snow. It is melting too, but enough is falling out the sky to accumulate significantly on the branches of the tree branches outside my windows, about 4 inches so far.

I love the first snowfall of the season! It is pretty. But beyond the visual is the feel of the soft white blanket that now surrounds my little house. The busy brashness of late autumn sounds has been muted. White brings sharp visual contrast to the landscape. I can see paths in the snow, where squirrels and rabbits have made their way in our yard. That is on the outside of me.

On the inside of me is a deep feeling of containment and contentment. I am cozy here in my little house, warm enough, well fed enough (understatement), and peacefully occupied enough to love where I am. The first snow always brings into sharp focus how wonderful it is to have a peaceful home to live in. I stepped out onto the back porch this morning, to take out the compost bucket, and to bring in some washed and dried plastic bags that were hanging on the clothesline, and oh what a pleasure to breath deeply that air, so sharp and crisp and biting. And then, what a delight to retreat back into the warmth of this little house.

These feelings of wonder at the first snow never get old. They return every year in late autumn, when the world first turns white. It is amazing to me that I feel this way every year, despite having experienced late winter impatience for it to melt away.

The first snow marks a turning point in the seasons, a natural turning point, dictated by mother nature herself, and it is delightful.

There is another turning point at this time of year however, that is not so delightful, nor is it natural in any way. It is a corporate interest turning point that occurs here in Ontario, where we have Time-Of-Use monitoring and billing for the electricity we use. It is the perfect opportunity to increase prices, and inflict restrictions on the domestic population of Ontario, Canada.

On November first we were switched to winter rates and time schedules. The rates have increased of course. And what this also means is that I must do my daily tasks that use electricity either before 7:00 a.m. in the morning, or after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. In other words, the most economical hydro is largely available overnight, when I sleep. This is very, very inconvenient, and changes the way my whole day is structured.

There is a period of mid-peak pricing from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., when I will undertake tasks that I feel just cannot be done during the 12 nighttime hours when the electricity is least expensive. But I try to avoid doing that, because it will affect our monthly billing.

It seems Hydro One is determined to make the short cold winter days as dark and dreary as they possibly can.

Heating is our priority, and it is a service I do not want to cut back on significantly, despite the government urging seniors to turn their heat down! The government paid for ads a few years ago, showing an elderly woman wrapped in a blanket, turning down her thermostat, like that was the RIGHT thing to do. I hope the genius who thought up that ad, and the one who chose to run with it, have severe arthritis in their older years, and find themselves wrapped in blankets in chilly homes, doing the RIGHT thing. Heartless campaign.

I’ve been busy. One of the things that has come to my attention is that I experience significant pain if I try to get down on the floor, or back up from the floor. Arthritis is not my friend. All of my life I have been physically nimble, hale and hearty. Age is having none of it! So I did a bunch of research on techniques for getting down on the floor, and up from the floor, and have been practicing. And the practice is paying off, after a few days of cleaning shelves that can only be reached if one is down on the floor, I can now get down, and up again, without experiencing pain. I still forget I am not young anymore, and without thinking try to get down, or up, as I had whole life through, for decades and decades. But pain is a determined reminder that adaptation is required.

On Tuesday I made a loaf of 100% whole-wheat low-sodium bread in the bread machine. The whole loaf contained only 1200 mg of sodium. I added dried mango and dried cranberries to it. Wow, it was so good. I love bread with dried fruit in it.

When I was a single Mom on a tight time and financial budget, a loaf of bread with mixed fruit in it was my only special treat. I even dreamed about that loaf of bread at night, watching the slices fall as I opened the bag. I love breads and pastries. Yesterday, I could not resist having my homemade bread with butter for breakfast, again for lunch, and as a bedtime snack. And I had it for breakfast again this morning, and again at lunch. I know I will not want to eat anything else until that loaf of bread is all gone, and it won’t be long. Well, it is best fresh, right?

I was so in love with the bread I made, that I decided I needed more dried fruit in the house, with which to make it. Out came the dehydrator, to dry the Gala apples purchased at the grocery store this past week. They are Ontario apples, and on sale at the moment for $1.00 a pound. They were peeled, cored, sliced thin, then spread out on the racks. I ran the dehydrator at 140F last night after 7:00 p.m. when the hydro cost dropped to off-peak pricing, and turned the heat down to 90F for the night, to let it run overnight. It seemed best to keep the temperature down when the unit was not being supervised. It was turned off this morning at 6:58 a.m.. The apples are not dry yet, a little rubbery, so they aren’t done. Tonight the dehydrator will be turned on to 140F again at 7::00 p.m. and will run again all night if need be.

The apples cores and peels are now in the crock turning themselves into Apple Cider Vinegar, which needs to be stirred daily to prevent mold.

Last Friday the pressure canner was put into service again, this time to can six 500-ml jars of Taco Soup. These are intended for my lunches, on those days when I am suddenly hungry and just can’t figure out what to eat. Since there were no empty jars left, the pressure canner was cleaned and back into storage it went. But Attila, upon finding out that the jars were all in service, picked up another dozen jars when he was out and about. So there will be more canned instant meals on the way soon.

Six jars of Taco Soup canned, ready for quick lunches.
On the plate are seeds from our Jack-O-Lantern, a pie pumpkin, drying for spring planting.
Pie Pumpkins are amazing, who knew!
I have always purchased field pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns, and then cooked, pureed, froze, and baked with them. They were perfectly acceptable. BUT why use a field pumpkin if you can have a Pie Pumpkin. This was the first Pie Pumpkin I had ever had, and wow, the cooked puree is sweet and not in the least bit watery. It is significantly superior to any commercially canned pumpkin pie filling I have ever purchased.

The cabbages were first harvested in September. Each stem that was left started to grow new little cabbages. Attila harvested them on the weekend, and now we have a 1 liter jar of sauerkraut fermenting in the basement. Hopefully this batch will be a success!

These small cabbages, on one stem, were harvested from our garden over the weekend. They sure don’t look like much, do they! These all grew from the “stump” left when the first crop was harvested, a second crop on the same plants.
Here is what the little cabbages looked like when the outer leaves had been removed. they look pretty good!
The cabbages have been cut into thin slices and are now ready to be made into sauerkraut. This cabbage is sweet and crunchy, so good. Not really what might be expected based on their appearance when harvested.

Worldly

-1°C
Date: 11:47 AM EST Thursday 7 November 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.3°C
Dew point: -3.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: NNW 14 km/h
Wind Chill: -6
Visibility: 16 km

Weather

Quote

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust
1871 – 1922

On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

To Camp or Not To Camp

Last night I dreamt of my brother Carl. We were young again, he was the happy little boy I remember and love. We were at my Granny’s house, a place where we were loved unconditionally, a place we felt safe, a place we thought was heaven. The summer’s day was warm, the breeze tousled our fine blond hair, we swept it back from our eyes as played by the back door. My Granny was in the kitchen, we could hear her through the screen door. Place. Some places are imbued with the spirits of those who loved and were loved in them. I look forward to sitting on my Granny’s porch again this summer, feeling that energy that seeped into the place over time, knowing.

Yesterday’s fine weather is still with us today. The neighbourhood is noisy though. The Hydro people are chopping down trees all up and down the street. Down came the front half of the beautiful white birch tree across the street from us. Down came the beautiful red maple two doors down and across the street from us. I cannot see further down the street from my windows, but I know the massacre continues because of the constant drone of the chain saw, and the roar of the chipper as the live branches are fed into its yawning maw. This spring is a season of destruction on our street. Earlier the immediate neighbours to one side of us chopped down a beautiful flowering crabapple tree. They explained it by saying that the bees were coming into their house, the children didn’t like the bees. But we live beside this tree too, and we know there was no issue with bees. They stated their intention to remove all the trees on their property within weeks of moving in, I remember. The real irony is that the family has moved to a trailer park near the husband’s employment for the summer, and rented out their house to a single woman. They aren’t even there during the blossom season! Luckily the trees on our property are not near the hydro lines, so we will keep them!

The new colour coordinated curtains for the trailer (tea towels bought on sale last year) have been ironed and will replace the mismatched tea towels that are currently covering the windows. Measurements have been taken to create a mattress cover for Attila’s bunk, which will be sewn from a queen size flat sheet. When these tasks are complete the rest of the gear for the trailer that was stored in the basement for the winter will be packed into Iris and we will be ready for summer camping.

We are toying with the idea of camping in Iris this weekend, but the nights are predicted to be a chilly 10C, certainly not comfortable. We have heavier eiderdowns that could be put to use, but the lure of our own warm comfy beds at home, and the handy bathroom, will probably win out until the temperature at night rises to at least 15C.

DSCF0641 market bag one The Market Bag, finished at last. The light coloured yarn was a virtual nightmare to work with, it frayed and split into fine hairlike strands constantly. The yarn for the band was lovely, it held its shape, looked very nice contrasted with the light coloured yarn. The handle is made from two different yarns, both bulkier than the bottom of the bag, both more difficult to work with, and I am not fond of the colours which are a darker brown. But, this bag represents yarn that has moved around with me over the last 45 years, and now all that is left are a few feet of of each type. I would make this market bag again, using yarn that I like, texture, weight, and colour. This pattern was made and displayed first by Bex, who made a lovely market bag, which inspired me to try it.

I am looking forward to using up all the spare yarn I have, so that I can justify choosing a project and buying yarn that I like specifically for that pattern.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Thursday 18 May 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature:15.6°C
Dew point: 10.8°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: S 15 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The easiest way for your children to learn about money is for you not to have any.”
Katharine Whitehorn

My children should be well versed!