The Little Red Fox

Friday, August 25, 2017, Mist Cottage

Sitting here this morning looking for information about hooking up a 30 amp RV electrical system to a generator. It isn’t straightforward. I found a connector that looks like it will work, but I can’t run to the local Canadian Tire to pick it up, it is in stock, because Tank is at the garage having an issue with the brakes fixed. It is too far to walk to the Canadian Tire store. The same item is available at Amazon.ca for a lower price, we have Prime, so delivery is two day and free.

So it occurs to me that Amazon Prime almost replaces the need for a vehicle to do the shopping. Vehicles cost a small fortune to keep on the road, considering the initial cost, maintenance, licensing, fuel, insurance… Amazon Prime costs less than $100.

Our vehicles are used for much more than shopping of course, so this is pure conjecture, it wouldn’t work for our present lifestyle. But were we housebound this could work for us.

I will hold off my purchase of an RV connector until Tank is back on the road, or Attila comes home from work with the car. The advantage to the local Canadian Tire is that if the connector is not the product we need, we can return it easily. Also, I like the staff at the local Canadian Tire, every interaction there has been pleasant over the years, not always smooth, but always pleasant.

Which puts me in mind of a recent purchase we made at the local Shopper’s Drug Mart. This is the second truly unpleasant experience we have had there, and I suspect it is due to the management. People who aren’t treated well can’t help but pass that along to the customers.

We have spent a lot of time at the Rideau Camp this summer, and have been loving it! Our first season at our Camp was just last year. We didn’t camp there as often as we have been this summer, which means that meal planning for our stays has become more complex. I can no longer eat the wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches cooked over an open fire, the sodium in bread and cheese is unacceptable. Quick canned items, like soup, or beans, don’t work, again the sodium levels are unacceptable. When I was younger camping meant a trip to the grocery store for easy to prepare items, but all that has changed, as now I must carefully watch my intake of sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and my allergen.

Experiments with quick and easy foods is an ongoing project now. Overnight oatmeal sounds interesting, and to that end one minute oats were on the grocery list this week. Since peaches are in season, two Giant Oven Pancakes were baked last night, sectioned, and stored in the refrigerator for quick suppers for me over the next few days. I love Giant Oven Pancake smothered in fresh sliced peaches, no sugar added.

Recovery from the dental work has been taking some time, still requiring that I eat soft foods. Of all the health issues I have encountered in my life, problems in my mouth are the most exhausting. The fatigue that was plaguing me has subsided, but my face still hurts if I talk a lot. Fortunately, I can type a lot instead. As Attila pointed out, when you have an issue with something in your head, it is very hard to ignore it. Thank goodness my issue is temporary. Hugs to anyone dealing with chronic issues in the mouth or head!

Saturday, August 26, Rideau Camp

Tank needed a visit to the garage, so on Wednesday night we both drove to the garage, dropped her off, and drove home in the car. She had a leaking axle seal, which had leaked oil on our trip to the Traditional Camp, which burned and smoked. So in she went. We picked her up yesterday afternoon, the part was $20, the labour was $220, which we considered to be fair. We really like this mechanic!

Our departure for the Rideau Camp was somewhat delayed by Tank’s absence, and the need to go and get her. We took our time packing, and arrived at the Camp at about 8:30 p.m.. Usually at that hour of the evening the mosquitoes are at their peak, but there were none. We unpacked, played a game of Cribbage, turned out the lights and turned in for the night.

Last summer’s vacation was not pleasant. It was our first week long vacation in over 20 years. This year we plan on spending a week in the autumn at the Rideau Camp. Since there are no extra expenses involved, as there would be if we were to camp in Iris in camp grounds for a week, or even more extravagantly stay in motels or at a resort, we decided to indulge in a luxury. We purchased a small, portable, quiet, generator. This will allow us to use the computer while camping, at either the Rideau Camp or the Traditional Camp. It will allow us to run all of the features in Grace The Trailer, except the air conditioning, which would require a second small generator connected to the first small generator for extra power. We don’t anticipate needing air conditioning for our short summer stays in Grace The Trailer, so we did not purchase the second small generator.

I am typing this entry on the computer. My laptop no longer has a functioning battery, which died about a year ago. The MacBook Air will only operate when connected to an electrical outlet, so that it could not be used while camping. The generator enables me to use the computer while camping, which is a very big bonus in my opinion. We don’t use cell phones, so that all of my data is stored locally on my computer, I don’t use the Cloud for serious storage. Now that the computer will work while camping, I can save the information related to the local areas around our Camps, so that we have a directory of the businesses, and local places of interest, at our fingertips.

The biggest bonus of the generator though, at this point, is the lights. We don’t mind the small, inexpensive, low lumen lighting that we use while camping. But now that we have experienced staying in Iris with an electrical service, we are spoiled. Having lights at night is wonderful, it makes a terrific difference. We can use the lights at night as well, on battery power, knowing that during the day we can recharge the battery using the generator.

In my dreams, we install a pump in the deep well at the Rideau Camp, and the generator would supply the power needed to pump the water, and to use it in Grace The Trailer. This is something we won’t be doing in the short term though. If we live to enjoy retirement together, we might want to spend our summers at our Camps, then the investment in a working well would make sense. For now we fill containers with water at home, and take the empty containers back with us, when we are staying at our off-grid camps.

Today Attila is removing three large stumps that prevent us from easily turning Tank around in the open area of the Camp. Until now Attila has been backing Tank out the driveway. After today he will turn Tank around in the clearing, ready to be packed when it is time to go home.

I wrote the words below with a pen on a scrap of paper this morning, before the sun rose, while Attila was sleeping.

A little red fox ran towards the trailer this morning, coming up the drive at a steady pace. She veered around the trailer, the side closest to the bush, and was lost to sight. I would not have seen her at all, had I not just turned to look out the back window, as I was pouring the boiling water over my tea bag. It was 6 a.m.. The sun had not yet risen. She was a small fox, her red fur almost glowed with good health. Although she was running, she did not appear to be in distress.

After she had passed, I finished making my tea, and carried my cup to the chair beside the back window, where I intended to do a bit of reading, as the light was quickening, and the words were taking form on the page before me. A movement caught my eye, something on the drive again. A large black dog, with long unkempt fur, loped up the driveway in pursuit of the fox. He was having fun, hunting, redundantly hunting. His slack expression denoted a lack of intensity, and a lack of cunning. This hunt was entertainment, for if he had been truly hungry and in need of a kill to survive, it would have been written in his face and body.

He followed the fox’s path and was soon out of sight. Five minutes later the dog was back. He walked a weaving path at a slow trot. There was no sign of a kill around his muzzle. At one point, near Grace The Trailer, he lifted his leg and peed on a pine sapling, then slowly strolled down the drive and out of sight.

He wore a dog collar.

Much earlier than the visits from the fox and the dog, in the morning just after I had awakened, the chorus from a murder of crows filled the air, heralding dawn.

A little later than the visits from the fox and the dog, a partridge clumsily passed across the drive, at some distance from Grace The Trailer, stumbling and flapping along by turns.

How important these living beings seem in the absence of human company.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I am back home and writing from Mist Cottage. The weather is much cooler now, and the humidity is not high. This is ideal weather in my book, a view not shared universally. We need neither air conditioning, nor heating, so our electricity bill will benefit from this weather.

On Sunday I took a trip to a country market, a farm that sells local produce, and was shocked at the prices. $3 for a quart of green beans. The rest of the produce was similarly priced. People living without healthy pensions, and those living at minimum wage levels are not going to be buying local food, it isn’t in the cards. The artisanal food movement is offensive, in that the entrepreneurs are constantly whining about needing people to buy locally, while they insist on selling things that only the affluent can afford to buy.

I bought one item though, because I wanted to try Red Fife Wheat Flour. The one kilogram bag of flour was $8.00 plus tax. It will have to be a one-off purchase. I made peach muffins with it this morning, and they are outstanding. Much research is needed to find an affordable source of this basic food ingredient.

Attila just brought in a pound of freshly harvested Scarlet Runner beans. At that country store this would have cost $6.00 plus tax. We love our garden! He also harvested two beautiful tomatoes, and oregano and dill, which we will dry.

I continue to work on my crocheted top. The back was difficult to design, I worked on a design for a day, decided I didn’t like it, tore it out, and would start on another design the next day. This process went on for weeks! Finally a design that worked was finished today. There are loose ends and a few alterations to yet to do. The shoulder straps were too long, I failed to take stretching into account, crochet work stretches. The way I constructed the straps meant they could not be torn out and reworked, so a method of shortening them after the fact must be devised.

We are going to take a week at the Rideau Camp this autumn, and I only have one book that I am looking forward to reading, it is about Gavin Maxwell, written by Dan Boothby, entitled Island of Dreams. The book was a gift from a friend, and I have been especially saving it to read while on vacation at the Rideau Camp. I anticipate that I will want to read more than one book though, so I am looking into borrowing books for my Kobo, from the Ontario Library Service. I like my Kobo, but every time I want to use it the instructions on how to load items into it has to be reviewed. It is wifi capable, but since no books are purchased, the cables work well for loading borrowed books, via Adobe Digital Editions.

Grasshopper DSCF1104 Grasshopper on our back step at Mist Cottage. We also saw one of these out at the Rideau Camp last weekend. I believe this is a Katydid.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Saturday, August 26, 2017, I’ve no idea what the weather report is for today, we have no internet connection, which I have come to rely on for such information. It was cold this morning, so much so that I sat on my clothes for a long time, until they were warm, before changing into them. The sun is out now, it is almost noon, and I am still wearing my sweater. It is a lovely day.

Quote

“But, if I must afflicted be, To suit some wise design,
Then man my soul with firm resolve, To bear and not repine!”

Robert Burns, Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, Prayer, Under The Pressure Of Violent Anguish

Muffins!

The weather is cooler and I am back to muffin making! We bought 15 overripe bananas for $1.49 yesterday. That many bananas will translate into five batches of muffins. Two batches have been made since yesterday, and out of those 24 muffins, 14 are left. We like our muffins!

We also purchased a half bushel of Ontario peaches. They are ripening in their containers on the kitchen floor as I type. By tomorrow I should be enjoying fresh peach smoothies for my lunches, and Giant Oven Pancake with fresh peaches for my suppers.

It seems that every visit to the bush includes a guest appearance from a star. Last Sunday this individual appeared. He/she is clinging to the bottom ridge of plastic on my plastic-five-gallon-pail-chamber-pot, which, having been emptied and cleaned, was left upside down on the crushed stone to dry. Apparently this beauty found the object a perfectly acceptable place to enjoy the sun. There are a lot of dragonflies at our Rideau Camp, and every one of them has a different wing pattern and/or body type. It has been a real fashion parade.

Dragonfly DSCF0960 Our visiting dragonfly, about three inches long. This beauty remained on the blue bucket for over ten minutes, despite being blown this way and that by the wind.

I have a project lined up to perform at the Rideau Camp. The crushed stone drive, and main area, are being overtaken by weeds. This is undesirable because plants provide launch areas for mosquitoes and ticks. The recipe to be used is not as effective as chemicals such as roundup, but it is partially successful.

Weed Killer

4 cups vinegar
½ cup epsom salts
1 tbsp dawn dish detergent

Mix to dissolve, spray weeds, wait.

The yard will smell like a chip stand for a day or so, salt and vinegar.

If you spend time in the “wild” in Ontario, you might notice the ubiquitous empty beer bottle. Sometimes they are whole, and other times they have been ceremoniously smashed and lie in sharp shards waiting for the unwary. We find them along trails, and just about anywhere we walk in the bush. They seem to represent a rural rite of passage into the wilds of adolescence. Our property came with the traditional empty beer bottle, luckily it is intact.

Beer bottle DSCF1056 Here it is, our very own Canadiana. Can you spot the empty beer bottle? It has been left intact, as a testatment to, and reminder of, the nature the rural rituals of humans.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C
Date:2:00 PM EDT Thursday 24 August 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 19.4°C
Dew point: 11.7°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NW 16 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.”
Margaret Millar

I find this more true of men than I do of women, men talking to women that is, or is it talking at women, because that is what a lot of men do when they talk to me. I can think of only two women who indulged in monologue when interaction was available. One I met when a family visited our farm, the daughter talked in a steady stream, barely pausing for breath, for hours… I was amazed. The other was an adult woman who I spent one day with, I uttered two sentences that day, she filled the airwaves the rest of the time. I know more about her than I wanted to. I find most women converse in a very interactive way, with me. Of course, they do not feel any pressure to impress, that might be a factor for males when interacting with females.

Hot Stuff

I am just now sitting down before the computer screen, it is 7:39 a.m.

I arose at 5 a.m., dressed quickly, unlocked the back door and went outside to stand in the middle of the back yard, to stare at the dim starry sky. I knew the Perseid Meteor Shower would be fading in the morning light, but it seemed worth a try to see it. After standing for ten minutes I was rewarded with one flash of a meteor, before the clouds silently engulfed and shrouded the sky.

I love the food at this time of year. We have a basket of Ontario field tomatoes, and a basket of Ontario peaches, and what what a daily feast they provide. I eat toasted tomato sandwiches, and enjoy peach smoothies all day long. Attila added tomatoes to our green salad last night. I don’t eat tomatoes at any other time of year. Local field tomatoes are flavourful, sweet and juicy, as compared to those offered in grocery stores which are like red cardboard imitations.

After eating a lovely breakfast consisting of a toasted tomato sandwich on rye, and a peach smoothie, my day’s activities began. The drought continues, so our bath and shower becomes grey water and is carefully saved in the tub, to be used to water the gardens. This morning I ladled many pailfuls of bath water, using them to refresh the lungwort, hosta lilies, and lilies in the front yard. These plants are not flourishing, but they are surviving, with such attention. I am sad to observe that the large tree in the next door neighbours front yard, which is beside our driveway, is suffering and it looks like it will die. We will miss the shade it provides!

It was too hot this morning for a walk, the temperature at 5 a.m. this morning was 25C, with a Humidex of 34, much too warm for me. At around 4 p.m. this afternoon the temperature rose to 37C (98.6), with a Humidex of 45C (113F). What a day! Attila heard that we were the hottest spot in Ontario today, could be.

I notice that there are daily cooling centres open all over the province, which is wonderful for those who do not have air conditioning. Attila works with very hot machines, in a large, well ventilated, but not air conditioned, space. These days he looks haggard when he arrives home. Thank goodness for our heat pump! It is a climate control unit, heating in the winter, cooling in the summer. Because our house is so very small, it is not outrageously expensive to keep it at a constant and comfortable 22.5C; the electricity bill is only $70 a month more than when the unit is not running at all, which is when the temperature outside is either below -7C (19.4F), or above 22.5C (72.5F).

Being housebound, this morning was a perfect opportunity to pay bills and attend to the pesky administrative side of life. Recently our home was reassessed to market value, which is far less than the value the property taxes were based on; our assessment went down by over a third, and is still probably a bit high. The upshot of this is that our tax bill went down by a third. We have already paid our taxes, and they don’t give rebates, so the amount owing back to us will be used against our 2017 property taxes. The process of applying for this reassessment is arduous, and it took many, many hours of my time to put together, and submit the evidence needed for the review process. It paid off though, and I wish I had done it sooner, as the amount we have been overpaying is quite significant, and the rebate only begins the year the reassessment judgement is made. This reassessment project took up copious amounts of my time over the last six months. As well, there was a rebate offer on the paint we bought to finish the garden shed, and that had to be applied for, which fell to me. The first time I submitted the forms they were rejected because I put the sale price on the form, rather than the manufacturers suggested price. The second time I submitted the forms the rebate was approved. Also, when we bought the dishwasher we were offered a $100 gift MasterCard as a bonus. The catch is it has to be applied for online. All went well until it I ran into a few confusing parts of the form, three telephone calls to the help centre got that straightened out, the customer service person, Alice, was excellent (good for you Whirlpool for hiring such a competent and pleasant person!). That was my project today, making sure we get our promised $100 gift card.

With these three projects of mine, the property reassessment, the paint rebate, and the dishwasher bonus gift card, we are able to pay for the new dishwasher. All it took was weeks of my time fiddling with all these forms and processes. I reckon it is worth it if I end up with a dishwasher. I like this particular cluster, or “roll of three” set of circumstances!

Well, I guess I’ll sign off for now. Saying we aren’t cool in Ontario!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

25°C
Date: 5:00 AM EDT Friday 12 August 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Temperature: 24.9°C
Dewpoint: 21.9°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SSW 16 km/h
Humidex: 34

33°C
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Friday 12 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 33.3°C
Dewpoint: 22.4°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: SW 29 gust 42 km/h
Humidex: 43

Quote

“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

Home Again, Home Again

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Early this morning, at 4:30 a.m., I arose, washed, dressed, and began packing the car for the trip home. It was still dark outside as I made my trips back and forth to the car. The morning was warm and humid, which is a big change from the cool weather we have been experiencing lately. I called Attila at 5:30, and we chatted as I ate my oatmeal and drank my coffee. Then it was time for me to get busy with the final tasks, shutting off the water supply, unplugging all the electrical cords, doing dishes, bagging the garbage to take home… I finally backed out of the driveway at 6:11 a.m., to begin the journey home to the country house.

The first two hours on the road were challenging, as a heavy fog made for poor visibility. Also, my usual exit from the highway was closed, and luckily there were signs warning of this, so that I took the exit before my usual, and drove through residential streets as a detour, until I could finally rejoin the desired route. About half way home the fog lifted, so that driving became much easier. I arrived just after 10:30 a.m.

To celebrate my arrival home, Attila came home for lunch!! Since June that has only happened once until now, this was the second time. We were very glad to see one another, and chattered the whole time we were eating our lunch.

My afternoon was spent unpacking and catching up with the mail, and the bills. Mountains of paperwork were waiting for me. It was all done and dusted before Attila got home from work.

It is peach season in Ontario, and I took advantage of that to purchase two four quart baskets of Ontario peaches. The ones I purchased were actually a product of the Growers Association that my father belonged to, and drove delivery trucks for, in the 1950s. We had a lovely dinner, Giant Oven Pancake, topped with fresh sliced peaches.

We received a flyer advertising assistive technologies, everyone got one in the mail. In it was a product I hadn’t heard about before, Zorbi. I did a bit of snooping around and found out it is the chemical sodium polyacrylate. Then I read about that chemical, that absorbs a lot of liquid, they use it in disposable diapers apparently. A lot of disposable diapers go into our landfill sites, so I wondered if that was somewhat problematic. Also, in the United States they are infusing it into farmland to retain moisture. Somehow that sounds wrong to me. So I did a search on sodium polyacrylate in landfill sites and found a pertinent scholarly thesis on SMARTTech, at Georgia Tech Library,
“Title: Potential biodegradability of sodium polyacrylate polymers in a stabilized landfill environment Author: Delphos, Paul Jeffery Type Thesis”.
I registered thinking I could read the thesis for my own edification. However, I found that this thesis was not accessible, “Access restricted to authorized Georgia Tech users only.” I wonder why? I was disappointed, the thesis sounded like it was relevant and informative, it is unfortunate that the public is prevented from reading it.

After my early morning, the long drive, and dealing with bills, I am knackered. I proofread this entry, but errors have a way of escaping behind drooping eyelids! Please excuse.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Thursday 21 August 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 22.1°C
Dewpoint: 18.2°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: W 13 km/h
Humidex: 28

Quote

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”
John Kenneth Galbraith
1908 – 2006