Welcome Summer

7:45 a.m.

Well, here we are, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, planet earth. Glad to be here to see it! If you are reading, glad that you are here to see it (or the first day of winter for those of you in the southern hemisphere, planet earth). Isn’t it wonderful that we are here on this beautiful planet!

After almost no sleep the night before last, I slept soundly for seven hours last night, a sleep marathon for me. I arose at 5:30 a.m., and got busy baking a batch of banana/pineapple/coconut muffins, while the hydro was at its least expensive. Two bananas were threatening to escape to the compost pile, but I captured them and turned them into delicious food. I feel like the goddess of the hunt.

This morning I have paid bills, and sorted out some filing. Morning coffee was enjoyed, with open windows, a lovely breeze, and a freshly baked muffin.

I feel I’ve welcomed summer in fine style.

Attila is still sleeping as I write, soon I will awaken him. This morning I will be taking a run to the building centre to pick up more Sawzall blades. There are a lot more needed than anticipated, sawing through tar based shingles and waterproof membranes destroys the blades quickly. About 1/4 of the old roof is still up there, to be removed today or tomorrow, or whenever Attila feels the need to do it. The saw blades will be at the ready, whenever that is.

6:30 p.m.

The weather today was as perfect as I could ever wish it to be. Sunny, breezy, warm but not hot, birds singing, and bees buzzing.

Attila is in his groove. He says he is now enjoying himself. He has installed three quarters of the roof rafters, and is almost finished installing the supports between the installed rafters. He plans on working until it is too dark to see, to celebrate the first day of summer. He might even cover the installed rafters with the roof sheathing tonight. That would be fantastic, because then it would shed most of the water should it rain. In fact, sheathing would provide better protection against the elements than the old roof ever did.

Tomorrow Attila hopes to remove the last quarter of the old roof, a truly miserable job, and begin installing the last of the rafters, and the sheathing. There is a 60% chance of rain on Saturday, so I hope he can accomplish this goal. If he can, the garage will not leak significantly if it rains, and he can work on installing the metal roof in the rain. Or he can take a break on Sunday, and work on installing the metal roof bit by bit, after work and on weekends… I doubt he will take a break!

When I was out on my supply run, to pick up the Sawzall blades, I ventured into the garden centre. Garden plants were 50% off, it is quite late to be planting them. I purchased Sweet Basil and Tomato plants, to plant in the area where the potatoes did not come up. When I left the building centre I headed for Canadian Tire, where I purchased a child’s water canon, a toy, which says it will shoot 30 feet. I plan on using this to discourage rabbits and squirrels from visiting the garden. I have added a few tablespoons of vinegar to the canon’s water reservoir, the smell of vinegar may deter them from choosing our garden as their restaurant.

Water canon The new water canon, shoots 30 feet. As Elmer Fudd might say, “Say your pwayers, wabbit!” The canon will be shooting harmless water, with a few tablespoons of vinegar added for objectionable aroma.

My afternoon was spent weeding the garden, we have a lot of bindweed to pull out, and preparing the to plant the Basil and the Tomatoes. I ended up planting the Basil inside the fenced in area, so that the rabbits cannot get at it. The Tomato plants were planted in the empty space in the garden, outside the fenced in area. I found bending down to work on the ground very, very hard on my knees and my back, but I managed it. I spent some time watering the new plantings, the climbing Beans and Peas, the Clematis, the Heliopsis, the Echinacea, the Nasturtiums, the Rose, and the Gerbera Daisies. It was lovely to rest in the shady, breezy back porch after all that hard work.

The Instant Pot came through again, this time a Cabbage Roll Casserole, using just the right amount of Rosemary, a pinch. It was delicious. Attila isn’t stopping to eat today, he is soldiering through. I notice he did sneak in to eat a huge portion of the Rhubarb Crisp, lots of sugar in that to keep him going. His portion of the casserole is waiting for him in the refrigerator. My guess is that it will be close to midnight before he gets to it.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Thursday 21 June 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 21.2°C
Dew point: 5.8°C
Humidity: 36%
Wind: N 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“She is a friend of my mind… The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”
Toni Morrison
1931 –

I found this quite beautiful.

Moving Domain Hosts

An email arrived in the inbox, offering free services to move my domain host to more up to date servers, at a slightly lower cost. Moving hosts is a huge pain, but they offered to do almost all the work! So I took them up on it. This site now sits on a completely different data storage device, as of this morning. The transition has been relatively painless, a few glitches occurred, one set of email addresses didn’t make the transition, but that was remedied almost immediately. Some of the password protected files on some of the domains aren’t functioning properly, I’ll need to fix that myself. But here we are, we’ve been modernized. Bet you didn’t notice. Hope you didn’t notice.

They did most of the work, transferred files, email accounts, databases, web sites… I had to test that all was working as it should, and to change the domain name servers for all of the domains, which ended up taking quite a while and kept me busy all day yesterday. Not all the sites are live on the new server yet, but this one is.

The new account provides me with 24/7 telephone support, which is great. The old account had email support, and it was awesome, but telephone support is terrific for working through glitchy things. The new account also has auto-install, so that I can install programs like WordPress in one click. I had to manually download, then upload, then uncompress, then install WordPress on the server, with the old account.

The cheque came in the mail yesterday! The grant for the window installation arrived. A trip to the bank to deposit it was undertaken immediately. What a relief, it would have taken us a long time to find the funds to cover the grant portion of the new windows. One task left now, to get the company that installed the windows to replace the cracked window pane in one of the living room windows. Next week pressure will be applied to get that resolved, now that the funding is secure, and there is no danger of interference there.

Attila removed a quarter of the old garage roof today. It was rough going, using an electric saw. Apparently there were many, many layers of roofing, close to half an inch depth of old shingles.It will take days to get the old roof off, then he can start to build the frame for the new roof. It is 9:00 p.m., he has come down from the roof, and is moving the new lumber, delivered early this morning, into a secure location. Then he will clean up the debris that fell into the garage. Finally he will come in, eat and probably go to bed. Same thing every day for the next eight days.

What has been accomplished so far has made an amazing difference. Before there was a horrid musty mildewy smell in the garage, and the air was damp and cloying. With no roof, open to the sun all day long, the smell is not longer there! This project was long overdue.

Tomorrow the daytime high temperature will reach 30C, with high humidity. It is going to be very uncomfortable out there on the roof. The heat does not bother Attila the way it bothers me, so he will push on, as he must cover a lot of ground during his vacation. I am thinking that tomorrow would be a good day to have the air conditioning running, so that Attila has a comfortable spot to take his breaks. The only rain in the forecast is for Monday, I am crossing my fingers that it passes us by, or waits for eight days.

I cooked baked potatoes in the Instant Pot today, and I would say they are a success. For dinner, it was the Instant Pot again, on the back porch, a cabbage roll casserole. I didn’t like it, but Attila did. I like the basic recipe, but what I was thinking when I added a teaspoon of rosemary I’ll never know! I don’t like rosemary, but add it to dishes with red meat, to mitigate the free radicals. A quarter of a teaspoon would have sufficed for my purposes. The taste of rosemary overwhelmed my taste buds. Next time I will know better. I ate it anyway, it was nourishing if not enjoyable.

Collecting recipes for the Instant Pot is a lot of fun. It seemed desirable to create a list of basic ingredients to be cooked in the Instant Pot. The time required to cook an item, and the proportion of liquid to the ingredient were recorded for: pasta, rice, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, red lentils, potatoes, and squash. A casserole can be created with pasta, rice, or beans, mixed with cooked meats and raw vegetables, which have a shorter cooking time. The exception is red lentils, they need only two minutes to cook, so vegetables would need to be precooked to create a casserole with them. Potatoes and squash are staples in our diet, so being able to cook them quickly and efficiently is a real bonus.

The rhubarb needs to be picked again. Tomorrow the Nesco will bake a rhubarb crisp on the back porch, keeping the house cool, probably using less hydro in the heat of the day, win/win.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Saturday 16 June 2018
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 16.4°C
Dew point: 13.1°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: SSE 5 km/h

Quote

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
Joan Didion
1934 –

Y2K

I looked up the shelf life of long grain rice, on the internet, and found so many different answers that the information was virtually useless. Best to use common sense I reckon.

So here is the thing. We purchased long grain rice in 1999, in preparation for Y2K. We were ready for many eventualities. In addition to things like a generator, fuel, water, we stored foods that would last in dry storage, not requiring refrigeration, or processing. Rice, beans, lentils, oats, dried peas, we stocked up on these items. One of the things we bought lots of was long grain rice. We purchased bags and bags of it, then stored them in tightly closed, moisture proof containers. Well here we are, 19 years later, and the very last bag of long grain rice, 1999 vintage, came out of storage and into the glass canister tonight. That rice moved with us from our city house, to our country house, to Mist Cottage, it is vintage food.

Now some people would be horrified, this has to be past its best before date. That doesn’t matter to us. Rice, if stored properly, it can last a long time. For instance, the Utah State University says it will store well for 25 to 30 years, so we are well under the limit with our 19 year old rice.

Tonight’s dinner emptied the glass container of long grain rice that sits on the shelf in the kitchen, down to the last grain. The canister needed to be refilled.

After looking at multiple recipes for rice and chicken dishes for the Instant Pot, I ended up writing down the proportions of liquid to rice, 1 1/3 cup rice, 1 1/3 cup vegetable broth, and using those measurements, I winged the rest of the recipe. My recipe had to revolve around one leftover BBQ chicken breast, the dry long grain rice, and an old and partial package of frozen Italian vegetables that I found in the refrigerator freezer. Lets face it, I wasn’t using the best of the best in the way of ingredients. Attila and I aren’t “only the best for us” kind of people. We eat what we have. So I wasn’t expecting much of a meal to emerge out of these ingredients.

The Instant Pot is easy to use. I sautéed a chopped onion in a tablespoon of olive oil, added the rice, the broth, garlic granules, three shakes from the salt shaker, freshly ground pepper, the vegetables (rinsed to remove the ice that had accumulated during their long tenure in the frost free freezer), and the diced chicken breast. Then I put on the lid, turned the pressure cooker on high, and set the timer to five minutes. It takes time to warm up, then five minutes to cook, then about 20 minutes or more to cool down so that the pressure release valve collapses. About 40 minutes till dinner time after the start button is pushed.

The jury is in, a jury of two, that this was an outstanding meal! We both loved it. Attila added hot sauce to his, he adds hot sauce to everything. I allowed myself a few tablespoons of Hot Tai Chili Sauce on mine.

The Instant Pot so far has cooked Rice Pudding, Baked Beans, Chili Kidney Beans, Tuna Noodle Casserole, fresh Butternut Squash, and now Rice And Chicken Casserole. I am addicted to this machine, it is so easy to use. Once I know the proportions of liquid to dry, with pastas, beans, rice, and other legumes, I’ll be all set, the sky is the limit. There are some aging potatoes in the basement pantry, so the hunt has begun for Instant Pot recipes using potatoes. Another “not only the best for us” meal will be served. Creating a tasty meal from those potatoes is going to be challenging, and fun!

Thinking about this vintage rice reminds me of a bag of vintage tomatoes that was made into soup, while we lived at the Country House. The tomatoes had spent at least 10 years in the chest freezer, and they moved with us from the house in the little city to Country House. One day two ladies dropped in on me unexpectedly around lunch time. Knowing that they had quite a trip home ahead of them, I invited them to share lunch with me, the tomato soup. I didn’t mention it had been made with vintage tomatoes. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever received more effusive compliments on a dish I created, they loved the soup, had to have the recipe. But the secret ingredient remained secret I’m afraid, I never did tell them about the all important vintage tomatoes. It was great soup.

Tonight the garage roof project begins. Wish Attila luck! I doubt it will be over in a week, which is the length of Attila’s vacation, which he is using to work on the project. There is some urgency with a roof project, keeping water out if it rains is a major concern. I am hoping that within the week the project will be far enough along to keep water out!

Dumpster Here it is, the super dumpster. It is hard to imagine this thing full, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Attila has this baby full by the end of the project! This is the big purge!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Friday 15 June 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 24.4°C
Dew point: 9.9°C
Humidity: 39%
Wind: WSW 9 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus
1913 – 1960

I do not find Mr. Camus’ approach to life light and joyful, but this quote makes up for all that.