Little Bits

Congratulations are in order for Rymal, who recently took possession of a new apartment. Sending good wishes for you in your new home!

During our renovation vacation we managed one recreational day. We sort of blew it though. We started out with a picnic lunch, heading for a provincial park for a hike. However, I just wanted to peek at the fabric store as we passed by, as there are NO fabric stores close to our country house, and we would be driving right by one, an opportunity not to be missed. We took the scenic route, after making a wrong turn, and enjoyed passing farms and forest.

A farm with a long driveway, along our route to the fabric store.

Well, while I was selecting the fabric for the curtains in the kitchen and dining room, Attila was out exploring the shopping plaza. When all was said and done at the fabric store, Attila hastened me over to a discount store he had found. Wow, we found a great Christmas gift for Terra and Lares, and a few items for ourselves too. By the time we left the discount store it was too late in the day to head to a provincial park.

We were hungry, so we found a park close to the shopping area and headed over there to eat our picnic lunch. It was lovely, we managed to walk for several hours on the paths, by the shore of Lake Ontario. We did not reach our original destination, but we had a lovely time at the park anyway.

We came across this lovely spot, the bench overlooks Lake Ontario.

Last Saturday I worked, an hour away from home. When I got back after 1 p.m. Attila loaded the car with some wood for Terra and Lares dining room, and our luggage, and off we drove to the little house in the city.

When we arrived Lares was there, and had been there all day. He installed a heat pump for us, and finished the job around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Lares is fully qualified to install furnaces and air conditioners. What a whirlwind he is! We did not expect to have the unit in for weeks, working on it a bit at a time at each overnight visit. And there we have it, one overnight visit and the installation is complete!

We now have a dual heating system: an oil furnace and a heat pump. The heat pump will also provide air conditioning. It works like a charm AND we can monitor the interior temperature and humidity of the little house, from the country house! That will come in handy, keeping an eye on things during the times when we are not there.

Of course, we won’t need to use the heat pump for a while yet. Without the aid of the heating system, the interior temperature of the little house is holding steady at 20C, which is perfect. The heat pump will operate when the temperature falls a bit, and heat is needed, but not a lot. In the dead of winter the oil furnace will be providing the heat, but it need not come on at all until it gets very cold outside. We will be monitoring our use of hydro carefully, to assess the hoped for savings. The price of electricity to run the heat pump compression chamber and fan is the only cost involved in heating the house with the heat pump. Electricity costs a lot, but then so does fuel oil, so it remains to be seen how much this will keep our bills down.

We arrived home last night, after 10 p.m., it was an awfully long drive in the dark, and the heavy rain. Attila called out to me from the country house, as he unlocked the door, that the power was out. We have no idea how long it had been out, and it was still out when I went to bed. Attila stayed up late to burn a small fire in the little wood stove, just to take the chill out of the air in the interior of the house. He said the power came back on around midnight.

While we were at the little house I did the usual stocking up on food supplies. This time I bought ten pound bags of vegetables. Three ten pound bags could be had for $5.00, a very reasonable price. I bought three bags of onions for $5.00, three bags of potatoes for $5.00, and two bags of carrots and one bag of beets for $5.00.

The vegetables from the store where I made this purchase are often near the end of their best shelf life, so they need to be dealt with quickly, so as not lose any to spoilage. So today I used my 21 1/2 quart pressure canner to cook ten pounds of beets, and ten pound of carrots. All of the cooked vegetables were flash frozen, and bagged, for winter meals.

This is a lot of work. The cost of the vegetables is about 37 cents a kilogram, and because we already own the freezer, and the pressure canner, and I have enough time to devote to processing the vegetables, we are saving a pretty penny. It doesn’t cost much to process the vegetables, the beets took 15 minutes, the carrots took 4 minutes, and the cost of freezing is negligible, as the fuller the freezer, the more efficiently it runs.

I still have another ten pounds of carrots to process. After that I will be ready to can some more Chili Beans for Attila. The Chili Beans are a great success! Attila eats them with hot peppers, for a snack. He has already eaten two one litre jars of the canned beans, so I will be kept busy keeping up with his appetite!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EDT Monday 22 September 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.6°C
Dewpoint: 3.3°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: WNW 18 gust 37 km/h


“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950

Window Treatments

Wood heat brings the humidity in the house so low that I begin to experience nose bleeds. This is a chronic winter problem, in this house heated exclusively with wood. I have a pan of water sitting by the stovepipe, which I fill with a few cups of water every morning. I run a humidifier for several hours every morning to increase the humidity. The Christmas Tree must be watered every day, sometimes twice a day, to prevent it from drying out.

It has been cold, -25C last night. Even though Attila worked hard to get the interior temperature up to almost 23C last night, by morning it was down to 17C, and nippy near the exterior walls. It is hard work keeping the house warm when it gets this cold, particularly because there is a light wind blowing. On top of that the snow removal is getting ahead of Attila, who has been “slowing down” a bit, after working all day in the frigid outdoors. He goes to bed early and sleeps deeply.

We had a week of snow and storm, then one day of sunshine, now it is storming again. Snow is forecast for all of next week. Uncle!

Our one day of sunshine! I rotated my chair so that I was facing the window and the view. It clouded over next morning and the chair is back in its usual position, facing the masonry heater.

I am contemplating small changes in my environment. Living in the bush, curtains for privacy are redundant. The north facing windows in the living area have never had window treatments. During the day those windows frame the beautiful natural environment. At night the windows are black, fathomless holes in the walls, radiating an icy chill during the winter.

There are no retail outlets near here to buy reasonably priced hardware, or much of anything else for that matter. So, looking at what I already have in the cupboard, two previously unused Christmas tea towels offered a solution. They are white, with red Christmas Trees printed on them. Without the hardware to hang them as curtains, I resorted to tape. They are taped to the bottom half of the windows. We can still see the landscape through the uncovered glass above them. Not your Better Homes and Gardens solution, but one improvises, and makes do with what one has. I found them jarring at first, but they have grown on me, and now add a cozy feel to the kitchen. Attila likes them, which is important because the kitchen is basically his domain.

The kitchen “Christmas Curtains”.

Window treatments are my decorating stumbling block. I just do not like most of what is sold in the stores, mostly due to functionality considerations. For instance, why are there not blinds that show black on one side and white on the other, so that in the summer the white side can be displayed to the hot sun to reflect heat, and the in the winter the black side can be displayed to the sun to collect heat. That isn’t rocket science, so why are there no products of this nature available? I guess because I am a marketplace of one; most consumers seem to be focused on visual considerations.

The last time we purchased supplies, with the exception of fresh milk, was on December 2nd, when we were visiting the little house in the city, twelve days ago. I hope to get out before Christmas, as I haven’t bought Attila’s Christmas present yet! More storms on the way though!

A friend on Facebook suggested an activity, to “list of 10 books that have affected you”. I read these books between the age of six and 16, a ten year stretch of avid reading. Here goes:

  • Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan, my very first borrowed library book, Grade 3, which affirmed for me that indeed, adults are insane. Nothing I have since observed has offered proof otherwise.
  • Poems, Robert Service, read aloud by Mother as bedtime stories.
  • Poems, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, recited by Mother as bedtime stories.
  • Dick and Jane, William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp, comprised my first mandatory reading list.
  • What Katy Did, Sarah Chauncey Woolsey
  • Nurses Who Led The Way, Adele de Leeuw, a gift from our school teacher aunt.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, R.R. Tolkien

Feel free to add your list to the comments!

Worldly Distractions


6:00 AM EST Saturday 14 December 2013
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -23.1°C
Dewpoint: -26.1°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: E 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -30


“…I have you fast in my fortress
And will not let you depart,
But put you down in the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away! ”
The Children’s Hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow