Paradise

I am sitting on the back porch. The day is overcast. It is the weekend, a Saturday, and Attila was mandated to work today, so he is at work. I can hear the birds singing. I’ve seen a cardinal couple this morning, they flew across the back neighbour’s yard and into the trees. The rabbits have been to visit. The squirrel has also been here this morning. Robins and grackles are looking for food in the browning grass.

What I am hearing mostly this morning though, is the awful sound of trees being ripped out of the ground. The development at the end of the street has circled the standing houses and is ripping out the beautiful mature trees behind us. The splitting of the trees as they are jerked out of the ground is a horrible, horrible sound. With each screech as a tree is destroyed, I send the pain I hear to people who are doing this to make money. Greed. They don’t need the money, they want the money, big house, big trips, big vehicles, big strutters. I send the pain their way, where it belongs.

It seems as if by the end of the day the cardinals will lose their paradise, and so will we.

This morning I am baking a loaf of whole wheat bread. We have several bags of whole wheat flour, and they are getting on in age. Whole wheat does not store well long term. The wheat I was using was unpleasant, but Attila insisted that I make bread with it and that he liked it and wanted to eat it. I found myself avoiding bread baking because it disgusted me to use the flour. I have talked him into abandoning that flour, what little is left of it. There is another bag of flour which has been stored properly, but for quite some time. Today I opened the bag, and so far, so good. It smelled fresh. Whole wheat flour, when it isn’t fresh, can smell awful. Today’s loaf is 100% whole wheat, it is in the bread machine, on the back porch, and it should be ready for a taste test by lunch time.

We had rain! Well, you might call it rain, but then again, you might say the sky was just a bit teary. There were wet spots visible on the top of the BBQ. There were not enough drops to wet the whole surface. Things are very, very dry. The grass is brown, rain barrels are empty, the garden needs to be watered twice a day. The day is overcast and my fingers are crossed that we get a few hours of showers.

Yesterday Attila picked some of our peas. There are four plants still standing, four out of the dozen or so planted. They are pod peas, meant to be eaten pod and all. A few leftover fresh mushrooms from the refrigerator, the fresh garden peas, a quarter pound of ground beef, frozen mixed vegetables and flavourings, into the Instant Pot and forty minutes later a fantastic soup for dinner. Attila is over the moon with this daily hot meal that he doesn’t have to cook!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Saturday 14 July 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.3°C
Dew point: 18.7°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind:WSW 8 km/h
Humidex: 30
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The chief weapon of sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were.”
Kurt Vonnegut
1922 – 2007

This And That

What a beautiful day it is here today! A perfect day for this and that!

Attila has decided to replace the back wall of the garage, since it is no longer a load bearing wall, and it is heavily damaged by water, mildew and mould. Out it will come, and new fresh lumber will be framed to make a new, sweet smelling wall. It needs to be done. Projects can lead to other project, as this one is doing. I am enthusiastic about making the garage a pleasant place to spend time!

The garden needs some attention, and it is perfect day to do it! We will be spending the day out of doors, enjoying the warm sunny day, with reasonable temperatures and relatively low humidity.

The Hoya was growing some very, very long stems, four feet in length. Time to prune it, and put cuttings in water in the window to root. Also, additional soil needs to be added. The Hoya was gifted to me more than 15 years ago, when we lived in the city.

The Spicy Orange Chicken dish was a big hit again for dinner last night. The Instant Pot is my friend. It has made preparing a daily hot meal a simple, and interesting task. Now that I am solely responsible for cooking five days a week, this is a wonderful development.

Most of my Instant Pot cooking involves rice. We have been eating a lot of rice. I am noticing that my body is responding positively to this altered dietary regime. My body likes rice, and it isn’t just my tastebuds.

My next area of exploration with the Instant Pot will be fish. Both Attila and I really like fish, so I am inspired to learn how to cook one pot meals centred around fish. I don’t notice many Instant Pot recipes online that focus on fish, there are many focused on beef, pork, and chicken. I will enjoy ferreting out or creating great-to-us recipes to add fish to our Instant Pot dinner options.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date:8:00 AM EDT Saturday 7 July 2018
Condition:
Sunny
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 17.8°C
Dew point: 11.5°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: NW 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“There is an applause superior to that of the multitudes: one’s own.”
Elizabeth Elton Smith

Something that seems to be largely overlooked in the Age Of Selfie.

Tipping The Balance

The new garage roof is doing its job, keeping the garage dry! The project isn’t finished yet, but it is beginning to wind down. Last night Attila puttered instead of building. He spent his evening putting away tools, organizing materials, watering the garden, and just generally taking stock of what still needs to be done.

My attention is drifting away from the project. I am still cooking and making sure that everything on the domestic front runs smoothly enough, so that Attila is completely free of the day-to-day tasks that keep a home comfortable and functioning. But I am ceasing to watch, listen, keep a third eye focused on what he is doing. He is no longer working on ladders and on heights, which is a big relief to both of us. My mind is beginning to wander back into my own interests, welcome back me.

Yesterday the bills for the project arrived in the mailbox. Yikes! After careful navigation, I rearranged the financial structure to pay those bills. It will be close to Christmas before Peter is repaid by Paul, but it should all proceed smoothly provided belts are tightened, and discretionary spending avoided.

What a season, new windows, new attic insulation, and a new garage roof! These renovations were all expensive, by our standards, and vital to the integrity of Mist Cottage. Attila and I both agree, it is so much more like a home than a science project now, the balance has been tipped!

We are slipping towards what life will be like, Attila to his garden and studio, me to my research, web, and domestic projects.

Today seems much worse, weather wise, than yesterday. It was already 22C when I looked at the thermometer outside the kitchen window early this morning. I am very fortunate that I can stay comfortably busy inside Mist Cottage, at a temperature of 23C, with relatively low humidity. I will be glad when this heat wave subsides, but it won’t be today.

We picked up the car at the garage yesterday, but were unable to pay the bill because the owner was just locking everything up when we arrived, he had an appointment to get to. Today I paid a visit to the garage to pay the bill. Afterwards I went to the dollar store to look for materials to deter the rabbits from eating the beans and peas. I bought some bamboo trellises, and laid them along the outside of the fence, maybe that will discourage the furry fellas.

The air quality is very low today, breathing the cloying air is unpleasant. It was quite a relief to arrive home and walk into a lovely 23C environment, where the air is relatively fresh and easier to breath.

Attila was just too tired, and too hot, to work on the garage tonight. Best to rest, I say. With a humidex of 43C or 109F, it is best not to push, working all day in a hot factory was pushing pretty hard already. Heaven only knows how hot it was in there!

Time for another experiment in the Instant Pot. A recipe found on the internet, for Spicy Orange Chicken baked in the oven, sounded very appealing. Could it be adapted to the Instant Pot? There was only one way to find out, try it! And so a new recipe was born, Spicy Orange Chicken With Rice & Vegetables. It was a big hit with Attila, and I loved it too! Of course, writing it all down for oneself sometimes means ingredients are forgotten, or instructions seem vague to others, so feedback on the new recipe is welcome.

Well, I hope everyone who lives in heat wave affected areas is staying cool and healthy! And that everyone is comfortable in their circumstances!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Another stinker of a day!!!

HEAT WARNING

23°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Thursday 5 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.2°C
Dew point: 22.3°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 11 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km
dateDetailed Forecast
Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 34 except 28 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 43 (109.4F). UV index 10 or very high.

Quote

“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.”
Henry Miller
1891 – 1980

Laugh

Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.

Tank, the big vehicle, sits in the driveway, unused unless I take a notion to go somewhere. Sometimes I do go somewhere, but mostly, I don’t. Why? It isn’t my lifestyle.

My ideal is to live where I can walk to shopping, to entertainment, to work (retired now, no longer relevant). That is not possible, the cost of living in a vibrant urban centre is beyond my means. Well, it is beyond the means of most Canadians, so that makes me a part of the majority on that issue. My ideal is not attainable.

What to do when your dream can’t come true, and you know it, and you decide to not beat your head against multiple brick walls to try and attain the unattainable… got lemons, making lemonade.

What has been attainable is this very small house, that was in disgusting condition, that I bought with Attila. Since 2010, when it was purchased, every spare minute and penny has gone into making it a viable home. It was not livable when we purchased it, which is why it sat empty for years until we came along. It isn’t in my ideal neighbourhood. The urban area here is anything but vibrant and varied, but it is in a quiet, respectful, and pretty neighbourhood. It isn’t walking distance to anyplace I would like to go, a walk will always consist of parading myself up and down fussy, stuffy, uninteresting residential streets, leaving the house to circle around, and come back to the the very same place.

So, why do I like it here? The appeal, the desirable that has been attained, is Mist Cottage itself. It is a space where Attila and I spend most of our time, money, and expend most of our energy. It is the place where I experience my joys and sorrows, it is a familiar friend. I think Mist Cottage likes me, and I think it likes Attila too. I like Mist Cottage, and I think Attila likes it too.

Oh yes, back to Tank, I was talking about Tank. Although it is vital that Tank sits in the driveway so that I have the choice to go somewhere, I seldom find myself wanting to go somewhere.

Tank is not in the driveway today. The car went into the garage yesterday, for regular maintenance. Tank transported Attila to work this morning, gone for the day.

What day did I decide to go to the store? What day did I get dressed to go out, gather my things together for an outing? Today of course!! So I laughed at myself, of all the days to decide on an outing, I chose the day that there is no vehicle in the driveway. No vehicle, no outing.

Laughing the whole time, I took off the clothes I had chosen for the outing, hung them up, and donned my usual working garb. Today was a day to spend at Mist Cottage. There was no disappointment, tomorrow is another day, my destination was not time dependent, the planned outing could be made any day… if I feel like it.

I have begun checking out the camping gear. The lanterns and battery operated fan were dragged out of storage. Batteries were checked, some replaced and tested, and all stored in the bin that goes back and forth to the camp. Extra rechargeable batteries were charged and placed in the travel bin. Trailer bedding spent the winter at Mist Cottage, it was brought out, aired, and then packed.

I plan on bringing a spray bottle of permethrin solution to the Rideau Camp. I am going to try spraying it around areas where the ants come in, to see if it will deter them. In my dreams it would also deter the mice, but that isn’t very likely.

Looking at the weather forecast for today, 33C with high humidity expected, perhaps it is just as well that I stay happily and comfortably here at Mist Cottage. Better weather is on the way (my definition of better of course) for the end of the week, much cooler.

I have made a discovery! When a very aggressive person invited himself to my home recently, I turned the table and invited myself to his, suggesting materials he could prepare for my visit. I haven’t heard from him since. I will probably not hear from him again. The lesson for me here is that when someone is exhibiting merely annoying aggressive and/or intrusive behaviour, it might work to turn the table on them. As with anything, my mileage may vary.

This evening I tried a new dinner recipe in the Instant Pot, One Pot Spaghetti. The taste was lovely, I made up the ingredient list myself, for the sauce. The sauce, although it tasted great, was very watery, and I do not like watery foods, so I was disappointed. Attila loved it! I will experiment with this one until we both love it.

What an entry! Could it be more scattered! Well, that is what I am like most of the time, a little of this, a little of that, and at the end of the day it all adds up to whole lot of pleasantness.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

HEAT WARNING
25°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 4 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 25.3°C
Dew point: 19.3°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: SSE 9 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km
Sunny. High 33 except 28 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 39. UV index 9 or very high.

Quote

“The idea of perfect closes your mind to new standards. When you drive hard toward one ideal, you miss opportunities and paths, not to mention hurting your confidence. Believe in your potential and then go out and explore it; don’t limit it.”
John Eliot, Ph.D.

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