A Day In The Life

6:40 a.m.

Dawn is slowly creeping over the landscape. Another morning begins. Attila has left for work, the roads are clear and dry for now, so his journey will be relatively safe.

The Christmas tree branches have relaxed and settled into a comfortable position, the tree occupies a third of the available floor space in the living room. Although it is crowded, it is cozy in this small space we call home. I have no plans for the day, aside from getting out for my daily walk.

7:10 a.m.

While sipping my morning coffee, and enjoying the Christmas lights on the tree and in the window, I have been thinking about our purging project. We passed along our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner and accessories to our niece and her fiancé. I have two binders of genealogical records that I will be gifting to another family history researcher, but the the arrangements to drop them off have yet to be made. There are two bank boxes full of vintage Mac software that will be donated to a collector, which Terra will pick up tomorrow, to take to Luna’s house when they get together for Christmas, from where the collector will pick them up. There is a box of clothing and dishes to be donated to the Salvation Army Store, and our old broken VCR to be dropped off at the electronic recycling bin. And then there is the box of home video VHS tapes, which has dwindled and will hopefully be completely converted to mp4 files before Christmas arrives. All of these items, with the exception of the binders, take up precious floor space.

My mind wanders to imagining what items in the house can go next.

We are making progress. A year ago we were still maneuvering our way through tunnels of boxes and belongings. Two years ago I was living alone here at Mist Cottage, with Diesel the cat for company, missing Attila horribly and hoping a move would work out. Three years ago we were struggling through a brutally cold and snowy winter at the country house, and I was waging a losing battle with cabin fever. We are making progress.

8:00 a.m.

Every time the forced air heating system kicks in, the air moves past the Christmas tree and fills the house with a delicious scent of pine. Another reason to love a furnace and a thermostat, not that I needed one.

11:20 a.m.

The sun was shining so I grabbed the opportunity to get out for my walk. There was quite a brisk wind, and temperature was around -5C, so it was nippier out there than we have been used to. I could only go part of the my usual route though, the sidewalk became increasingly difficult to navigate, with mounds of ice where people had dropped shovelfuls of snow. By the time I neared home the sky was overcast and it looked like we could get some snowfall.

The next few hours found me organizing my keys, they were quite chaotic. We have keys to two doors to the house, the trailer, the shed, our two vehicles, the mailbox, and a various other locks. I always destroy a fingernail when organizing keys, so now I have one very hacked up, sore fingernail to contend with until it grows out and can be trimmed evenly. But my keys are very well organized now, I must say.

While I was working on the keys, I became involved in cleaning out my backpack. I carry it as a purse, and haven’t tackled organizing it for quite some time. Another big job. One of the bonuses was that I found my Medic Alter bracelet. I wear a Medic Alert necklace, but many medical professionals fail to notice it. I want to wear the bracelet every time I visit a medical person, so I am glad I found it. It is too annoying to wear day-to-day.

Finally I sat down to take a little break and check my email. I receive email notices of free or cost reduced ebooks. Most of what is on offer I am not interested in, but this morning I found a book I am interested in reading. It is called “Letters From The Trenches”, by Jacqueline Wadsworth. It was 99 cents, well within my budget. I like first hand accounts of historical times, and this is what she offers in this book. Not for me are descriptions, numbers, and facts about the grand doings of the powerful, although that is what is mostly considered “history”. No, I like to hear from the people who lived the experiences.

“I have made no mention of military decorations, though some men in the book did receive them. My view is that there must have been an enormous number who deserved recognition but went unnoticed, and thought it fairest to present everyone as equals.”
Page 17, Letters from the Trenches, Jacqueline Wadsworth, 2014

This is my kind of book!

1:00 p.m.

The keys and backpack are cleaned and organized, I’ve only a small batch of keys for which I know not the locks. The weather is worsening, the sky is completely grey, and the gusts of wind very strong, with occasional driving snow. I am warm and cozy in Mist Cottage, and enjoying the book I just purchased.

9:30 p.m.

We have had a bit of excitement here at Mist Cottage. We have mouse traps set in the garage, and so far this autumn we have caught a dozen mice. This morning Attila noticed that the traps had been sprung, but had not caught anything. Decidedly odd. When I went to get the mail this morning, I noticed some very small footprints in the snow beside the garage door, it didn’t look like mouse tracks, and I thought, oh no, rats! This evening Attila was busy in the garage when he caught sight of a small white rodent-like animal darting about, he concluded since it was not concerned about being seen, that it was a pet of some kind. He set the live trap with some lettuce, and sure enough, a few hours later a gerbil was staring out at us from behind bars. The poor little guy had been out of doors since at least very early this morning.

All the peanut butter in the mouse traps had been eaten, which is too bad, because peanut butter is not good for gerbils. We brought him inside and gave him some lettuce, and a jar lid full of water. Attila called on the neighbours across the street because they have children and might be missing a pet gerbil. No, they didn’t own such a pet, but they thought the little girl down the street had a gerbil, but her family wasn’t home. We also wonder if the two little boys next door had a gerbil, but they weren’t home either. We will be asking around the neighbourhood to see if anyone is missing a gerbil! I wonder how it escaped!

So, tonight we have an overnight guest.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 14 December 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.9°C
Dew point: -13.2°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: W 18 gust 37 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it.”
William Penn
1644 – 1718

Cold Snap

Last night the temperature outside dropped like a stone. From above freezing temperatures yesterday down to -18C this morning, with a wind chill of -28C. But I wouldn’t have known that the temperature had dropped if I hadn’t looked out the window at the thermometer! The thermostat is quietly and invisibly smoothing out my life, making sure that the temperature in the house remains relatively constant, and warm enough for comfort. My clothes are warm enough to don as soon as I rise from the bed. I can sit anywhere in the house and feel equally comfortable. And best of all, Attila need spend no time thinking about firewood, chopping firewood, totting firewood, or building fires. Oh the luxury!

We do think about what we would do here if the power went out for any length of time. We do not have much of a backup plan for such an eventuality, although we discuss the issue from time to time. Hopefully we have a lot of time to develop a suitable plan of action.

At night I turn the thermostat down to 17C (62.6F). In the morning I turn the thermostat up to 20.5C (68.9F). At these temperatures I am almost always comfortable, and never suffer a chill. I wear an undershirt, a shirt, a zip up sweater, and from time to time a down vest, so that the layers can be removed or added as needed. On my feet I wear cotton socks and slip resistant running shoes, which keep my feet protected from the cold floors over the unheated basement.

We talk about insulating the basement, but it is a big job, and too costly on our present budget. As it is, our heating bills are manageable. Who knows though, with electricity prices about to jump even higher, insulating the basement may become an expensive necessity. Many of the renovation improvements on our list will reduce our energy bills!

I get ahead of myself thinking about renovations though, because this month is the month in which we will feel the brunt of our reduced income, and the stretch to pay all of the holiday and moving related bills. It is the month when our property tax bill will arrive, and it is a significant bill. It is the month where Attila’s time off without pay during the holiday season will be keenly felt. It was worth it!

Come March we should be back on our feet. And we are enjoying the benefits of our expenditures, a decent internet service, a local telephone number, comfortable beds, and increased storage, precious time shared with family, to name just a few.

This morning I am back to organizing and purging. I have a few items to attend to, such as arranging a service appointment for a recall on our car, and working on an appeal to lower our taxes, as our house is assessed far above what it is actually worth, and we are paying taxes on a phantom, and false, level of investment.

I baked all last weekend so that Attila would have bread, and squares, and cookies for his lunches this week. I like to do my baking when the hydro is less than half price, which it is on the weekends.

I am thinking I should create two lists of tasks, one of tasks that require no electricity to perform, and another one of tasks that require significant electricity to perform.

Today it is so cold that I am seriously considering not going out for my walk. My arthritic knee was painful after walking when the temperature was hovering around freezing. I dread to think how it would feel if I attempted to walk on a windy day with a -25C wind chill factor. So, to compensate for not getting out for my walk, I am cleaning the house, washing the floors with a cloth always works up a sweat.

My pile of items to donate is beginning to get large again. I will soon be tackling the basement, which is chock full of boxes! I know there are two huge totes full of text books, and three large filing cabinets full of teaching materials, and PhD research materials, all destined for the bonfire. It is a wonder to me that I spent so much of my life focused on these things! I would think of it as a waste of time, but for my enjoyment of learning and developing highly disciplined and analytical thinking skills. I think the thing that gave me the most pleasure as my skills increased, was to realize that my intuition has always been accurate. The more I learned, the more I trusted that my own feelings and thoughts have always been based on keen observation and relatively unbiased analysis. I also learned, as I suspected, that no one and nothing is completely unbiased in this world, including science, including me.

I will close with a short report on the Big Berkey. We continue to use it for all of our drinking water, and I love it. In our small kitchen it has a place of honour, where it is used off and on all day long. It is worth every penny, and then some. We use tap water for drinking, and the Berkey removes all traces of chlorine, and all kinds of things I can’t taste or smell. Other side-benefits are that we are not drinking water stored in plastic, and we are not generating piles of empty water bottles to be recycled.

The Big Berkey in our kitchen, clean fresh water on tap. Beside the stainless steel Big Berkey sits the Cuisinart, purchased when Luna was a tiny tot. The bowl has been replaced once, and the machine is still going strong after close to forty years of continued use. The Cuisinart has paid for itself many times over, and I expect the Big Berkey will do the same.
DSCF7791

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-18°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 4 January 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -17.9°C
Dewpoint: -23.2°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: N 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -28

Quote

“Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.”
Lillian Hellman
1905 – 1984

Recovery

When Attila arrived home from work on Monday morning, he looked dreadful. Off he went to bed. That was when he admitted to me that he had slept but one hour, since Sunday morning. After sleeping for six hours, up he got, unable to sleep any longer. Today, Tuesday, his sleeping pattern is beginning to settle. He arrived home from work just after dawn this morning, and immediately went to bed and slept for seven hours. Then he was up, and full of energy, unpacking and organizing. He was tired again by 6:00 p.m., so back to bed he went, and slept for another few hours. It will take the whole week I think, for him to catch up with his sleep; he is off to a good start.

Yesterday, Monday, I was completely worn out by early evening. I just stopped, unable to keep going. I too will need time to recover from the big push.

This morning I made a list of things to do. That is when I learned that I had a lot to learn about Attila working nights. He was sleeping in the bedroom. The things I needed to complete some of the items on my list were… in the bedroom where Attila was sleeping. I focused on the projects that did not involve items from behind that closed door to the bedroom. I baked a rhubarb crisp, did the dishes, and paid the bills. Luckily Attila got up briefly, shortly after I completed the doable items on the list, so I quickly gathered the other items I needed, and moved them out of the bedroom, before Attila went back to sleep.

The mail forwarding was finally arranged. Attila missed getting to the Post Office last Saturday, it closed before he reached the village to pick up our things at the storage locker. The employee at the Post Office here, who helped me arrange mail forwarding, advised me to throw away the keys to our former country PO Box. That didn’t seem considerate, so a call was made to the country Post Office, and the Post Master there suggested the keys be sent in the mail to her, and so they were.

The final push of the move resulted in another two big garbage bags full of serviceable items to be donated to the women’s shelter in town. I drove those over this morning, and dropped them off at the shelter. I wish I had more to give them! If I ever win a lottery, I will setup a fund to assist women and their children, to setup a new home with the basic necessities of life. I do not buy lottery tickets though, so that is an empty ambition. If only the thought counted for something tangible!

Two boxes were emptied today. It is getting more difficult, as we have more possessions than will fit into this house. The merging is almost complete, and the serious purging will need to begin.

We are still placing a huge pile of recyclable material for pickup at the curb every week. We also have two pieces of furniture we are trying to give away, with no luck so far. The women’s shelter has no room for it, the men’s shelter has not returned my call, and my ad on FreeCycle has garnered no response thus far. Right now those items are under a tarp in the driveway, as they simply will not fit into the house. Yesterday we gave away a mattress to one of our neighbours, and a solid wood coffee table to another neighbour.

I think that soon our efforts will bring noticeable results, soon, but not for a few days yet.

The raisin scones I made last week, the first baking project after the move.
IMG 0001

Worldly Distractions

Weather

15°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Tuesday 6 October 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 14.5°C
Dewpoint: 11.7°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SW 11 km/h

Quote

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
1834 – 1892

Organizing

After having worked a few hours every day for six days, my normal routines have been disrupted. It is time to completely switch my mindset again, and get back to the routines that make an isolated life bearable. It is hard work, adjusting to such extremes changes!

This morning I am back to my two hours of standing in the morning. I spend two hours on my feet, doing domestic tasks, and working on the computer from a standing position. Of course, there is great appeal to working on the computer from a standing position, now that I have a beautiful desk on which to work.

The new desk triggered a flurry of organizing and purging. Two of the filing cabinet drawers have been emptied, sorted, and the contents worth keeping refiled.

Emptying and sorting through storage units is always a lot of fun. For instance, I found an old tin in one filing cabinet drawer, in which I had stored a variety of business cards. This collection started back in the early 1970s, so some of these cards are over forty years old. Of course they are no longer relevant for contact purposes. But my oh my, I had a wonderful time remembering all the people and activities that these cards represented.

There was a business card belonging to my uncle, when he was a real estate salesman; he passed away years ago. The card from the Investigations Officer, who investigated and charged the wealthy foreign student who uttered death threats against my children, allowed me deep feelings of gratitude to the universe, that my children lived through the ordeal, even if my career was taken down by it. There were happy memories of haircuts elicited by the business card of my favourite hairdresser Michael, and from that same period of time the whimsical business card of my friend Annie, who is now living another life in another time in England. The business card of the young man who gave me my first mortgage brought back memories of being turned down by credit unions, and bank, after bank, after bank, for a mortgage. I walked into the Royal Bank of Canada with no hope, and within thirty minutes I had bought myself my first house, and a safe home for my girls. The young man had good instincts and was willing to take a chance, which paid off for both of us. These are the paths into the past that I walked yesterday.

Now the business cards are all filed, and stored away for another possible trip down memory lane. The cards are meaningless to anyone else. We are like snowflakes, similar in so many ways, unique in others.

A February sunrise, as far as the eye can see.
Februarysunrise

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 4:00 PM EST Tuesday 4 February 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -6.9°C
Dewpoint: -11.5°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: SSE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -9

Quote

“One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
Rita Mae Brown

[Depends on what you manage to forget!]