First Iris Flower Of The Season

It is a lazy weekend here at Mist Cottage. Rain was predicted, but only a few drops fell yesterday, and it looks like it will be a partially cloudy and dry day today.

Attila is preserving resources by using bath water for watering the garden. He has a large plastic garbage can that he fills, bucketful by bucketful, after he bathes. Within 24 hours the water is used to water the garden, and the garbage can is cleaned for the next time. Our rain barrels are empty now, so this is his preferred way to water the gardens. He feels it is going to be a hot, dry summer. I take showers, so I can see the time coming soon when I will be asked to shower with the plug in the drain, so that the water can be retained and carried out to the gardens. Attila is a keen gardener, a keen recycler, and a keen bargain seeker. Our water bills are substantial enough already, without adding garden watering to the bill.

I am still learning the idiosyncrasies of keeping the house cool during hot sunny days. Last night the house was unpleasantly warm during the night, 25C, and we both slept poorly as a result. I had the windows open all day yesterday. Today I am taking a different approach. I had the windows open at 7:00 a.m., and the interior temperature dropped to 23C by 10:00 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. the interior temperature began to rise, to 23.5C, as the outdoor temperature climbed. I then closed all the windows, and hope to retain the interior temperature at 23.5C. I will open the windows again when the exterior temperature falls below the interior temperature of the house.

The mosquitoes were out in force this morning. This is very strange, as there has been little rain, and everything is dry out there. There are no ponds or uncovered water sources anywhere about. They are swarming out of the grass in the front yard, and in the shady spots in the back yard. They have to be hatching in the lawn, not in water as is commonly believed. I have been bitten twice already this morning.

Our first Iris of the season has bloomed. It had few blooms last summer, as it had just been transplanted to a sunnier spot. It has copious blooms this spring, and will be a real pleasure to behold from the kitchen window, for the next week or so. The Lungwort continues to bloom in the front yard. The Crabapple blossoms are almost all spent, the hum of the bees outside my window is diminishing. The Lilacs are still blooming, providing a heavenly scent as I sit on the back porch.

Iris may 2018 The first Iris of the 2018 season, with many more to come!

The vegetable garden is coming along. The recently planted climbing beans and peas are peeking out of the soil. They are on the inside of the fence.

Over the past few weeks, Attila and I have both been plotting to keep the rabbits out of the fenced in area, so that they will not eat our emerging, tender and tasty, bean and pea plants. Square lengths of posts were laid along the bottom of gates to block entry. A large concrete block was used to cover the gap under the fence by the yard waste compost pile. Stakes were pounded in between gaps in fence posts, and anywhere where it seemed entry might be gained.

Despite all of these precautions, early last week I looked out to see another little rabbit in the fenced in area. Quickly shoving my feet in to my rubber boots, out I went. I calmly followed that little bunny around the yard, as he/she attempted to escape through all the usual entry points, now blocked. Eventually that little bunny found a gap that had been left vulnerable, and escaped the way she/he had entered. That forgotten gap was immediately blocked, and I haven’t seen a rabbit in the fenced in area since.

Yesterday I baked a second Rhubarb Crisp. I had two helpings, and quite honestly, by evening the sugar made me feel polluted. During the night I awoke several times feeling off, with a horrid taste in my mouth. I love eating the Rhubarb Crisp, but will have to limit myself to one serving… or less if that doesn’t resolve the polluted feeling. Rhubarb needs a lot of sugar to make it palatable, as it is low in sugar, and tastes tart, which is unpleasant to my palate.

Time to go sit out on the back porch and read, or listen to the breeze in the trees, or watch for rabbits, or watch the birds… great day for it! There are freshly washed sheets strung on the clothesline across the porch, which means it will be shady, cool, and breezy on the porch.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Sunday 27 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 19.2°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: NE 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
(Note: these readings are taken by the shores of Lake Ontario, they are hotter in summer and cooler in winter a short distance north of the lake.)

Quote

“The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.”
John Irving
1942 –

The Quiet

[Written Sunday Night]

It is quiet here tonight. I sit at the kitchen table. I can hear the intermittent patter of rain, on the awning, just outside the kitchen window. We are alone together, those insistent raindrops and I. They remind me that the world is carrying on regardless of human feelings, and they comfort me with that knowledge.

Attila arrived here just as the sky was darkening Saturday night. He was here less than 24 hours. For some unfathomable reason, his departure this afternoon was the most difficult I have experienced. How painful it was to see him setting off down the road, how difficult to keep the smile steady as he drove away. It takes only a few happy seconds to get used to him being home, and uncomfortable hours to get used to his absence.

He was focused on two projects during his short stay. One was to prepare an area to plant some lemon balm that had been given to me as a gift, as well as squash seeds that he brought from the country house. The other was to dismantle the particle board cupboard in the basement. Particle board releases formaldehyde, harbours mold, and mildew, from the decades of damp in the basement, and has been penetrated with mouse droppings for years. We have decided to eliminate it from the house. There is only one particle board cupboard left now, in the basement. Attila loaded all of the removed particle board into Tank, to take home to burn. We did not get a chance to visit with each other to any great degree. Perhaps that has contributed to my distress at his departure.

He called late Sunday night, to let me know he was safely home. He was taking a break from his burning project, which he had already begun. He too missed spending time together during his visit; we both felt the same way about it.

Attila has no Saturday’s off work for the foreseeable future, the employer has suspended even the intermittent Saturdays off, the two or three per person that used to be scheduled between April and September.

The house was shown on Saturday, and again on Sunday. Feedback about the house is mostly positive. A few comments have been critical, which is a good thing, because it gives us a chance to address those minor issues. However, the issues are so minor that we feel that they had no effect on the decision not to buy the house. The house is waiting for the people who walk in and feel, “home at last!”

We have our much needed rain, here at the little house in the city. It began Saturday night. The temperature fell with it. Sunday it hovered around 10C all day. Saturday was 30C during the day, and 10C by nightfall; I used the air conditioning in the afternoon, and the heating system that night. Variety is the spice of life they say.

When it is dry I need to water the garden, so that the plants will grow. When it rains I need to cut the lawn, because the grass has grown.

We caught Peter Rabbit, a cottontail, preparing to feast in the garden Sunday morning. Attila chased him away. He was bold though, he was not one bit afraid of us, until Attila was within about ten feet of him, at which time he cut his losses, and bounded away across the field out back.

After vowing NOT to purchase any more “stuff”, I have capitulated to desire. I really do like to doodle. I like doodling on paper, but that requires paper, and pens, and pencils, all classified as “stuff”. I thought then that it would be interesting to try doodling on the computer. The touchpad makes for awkward doodling. I asked online, on Facebook, and on a technical email list I belong to, about graphics tablets. Every recommendation was the Wacom line of products. I had been thinking about graphics tablets for about a week. Friday I decided that the tablet was a luxury, represented more “stuff”, and so would not be purchased.

Then Saturday morning Attila let me know that there was yet another showing of the country house on Sunday. It was then that it dawned on me that if an offer to purchase were to appear, I was ill prepared to deal with it. The printer is at the little house in the city, but each file sent here would need to be printed, then signed, then scanned, then sent back. Awkward. I realized then that a graphics tablet would allow me to sign documents in digital form, save them, and return them securely online. No printing involved, no scanning, no paper. Much easier to deal with. I made the decision that a graphics tablet served practical as well as recreational purposes; it was time to purchase the tablet.

I drove to the local stores, not one of them stocked such an item. I called Costco in the nearby city, they didn’t stock such an item. I called Future Shop in the nearby city, they didn’t stock such an item. I called The Source in the nearby city, they didn’t stock such an item. Finally, I remembered Staples, and they did stock Wacom graphics tablets, in my price range. Saturday afternoon I drove to the nearby city, to Staples, and purchased the tablet.

I spent Sunday afternoon, after Attila had left, downloading the free software that was made available with the product, registering at all the relevant sites, and watching a few short tutorials to get started. There is a learning curve. I discovered that PDF files do not load into the tablet software, or the graphics software I already own. PDF files cannot be signed using the tablet. They must be converted to image files, which I can load into the graphics software. If needs must, the image files can be converted to PDF files.

Writing on the tablet, in the correct scale, is not an easy thing to do. Practise has improved this skill, but it “isn’t soup yet.”

Using a graphic pen takes a bit of getting used to, as it works very differently than a mouse, or a trackpad, while performing the same navigational functions.

I am having fun with it.

Practice, practice, practice. Here is my first attempt to use a few of the graphic software features, and get used to the way the pen works on the tablet. This reminds me of learning the skill of cursive writing in Grade Four.
2015 June 1 graphic love

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City
9°C
Date: 10:00 PM EDT Sunday 31 May 2015
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 13 km
Temperature: 8.6°C
Dewpoint: 6.7°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: NE 23 km/h

Quote

“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.”
Charles Dudley Warner
1829 – 1900

Spinach Balls

We are in the midst of a dry spell here at the little house in the city, it is almost a drought. The drug addicted expanse of lawn behind our property has not been watered, and it is mostly crispy brown at this point. Even so, yesterday a fellow on a riding lawn mower was cutting the grass, moving along in a cloud of dust, which seemed completely redundant to me. Surprisingly, despite things being bone dry, the mosquitoes are noticeable. They aren’t anything like the swarms we get at the country house at this time of year, but even one mosquito is a constant pest.

I have had to water the garden every morning. We spot water our transplants and seeds, not wasting any of the precious wet stuff on trifling things like a green lawn. It takes over an hour to repeatedly fill the watering can, and trek out to every plant and seedling. Hopefully the watering will pay off, with home grown vegetables this summer. A rabbit has been killing, not eating, just decapitating, the new seedlings. I sprinkled black pepper on all the plants yesterday, and am hoping that the rabbit leaves at least some of our garden intact.

The rabbit age two more of the bean plants. Pepper is not an effective deterrent. And to think that I thought Peter Rabbit was so cute, and Mr. McGregor seemed so curmudgeonly. I am not so keen on Peter these days.

Spinach Balls

Rice/Quinoa Macaroni with Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic and Pepper, and Spinach
2015MaySpinachBalls

This is a cross between a recipe and story, probably succeeding at neither, but fun to write.

Last summer I decided I wanted to try rice/quinoa macaroni. It was expensive. Last winter I used it to make macaroni and cheese. I didn’t care for it, and the dry macaroni has been sitting in the cupboard since then. Today I decided I needed to eat the food I had purchased, even if I didn’t like it all that much. So I cooked the pasta according to the instructions on the bag, drained it, added two tablespoons of olive oil, and two teaspoons of dried garlic and red pepper herbs, then set the pot aside.

This is where the spinach comes into play. In the freezer yesterday, I found a package of frozen whole spinach leaves. It was a commercial product, a solid little square of spinach, usually not very good, but adequate as an ingredient. Oh yes, and it was a year past its expiry date. I boiled the spinach until it was well done. After draining it well, I turned the green mass onto a cutting board and cut it into small cubes. When the cubes were the desired size, they were returned to the pot, olive oil and dried garlic and red pepper herbs were added, and the lot was mixed together.

All that there was left to was to mix the macaroni and the spinach together.

It tasted divine!

The spinach remained in little balls, much like meatballs. So there is my new discovery, macaroni and spinach balls! It made a lovely lunch. Since quinoa is a complete protein, my lunch provided me with my daily meat equivalent.

The packaging for the macaroni says that the packager is a member of the WFTO, World Fair Trade Organization. That would explain the high price, as I believe neither rice, nor quinoa of any great quantity, are grown in North America.

I can’t wait to try this with fresh spinach, which is so much better than frozen spinach!

Since the rhubarb has been ready to harvest in the garden, I have been eating stewed rhubarb for breakfast, in a sort of rhubarb crisp format, preparing one serving each morning.

Rhubarb Crisp for One

I take 3 tablespoons of oatmeal, 2 tablespoons of flour, and one tablespoon of sweetener, blend them, then rub in 2 teaspoons of margarine with a fork or your fingers, the mixture is somewhat dry. Spoon one third to one half cup of stewed rhubarb into a bowel, top with oatmeal mixture, microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds, let stand for five minutes, and enjoy.

Another house showing is booked for Saturday. That would be showing number six, which is great. Now all we need is for one of the showings to result in a reasonable offer.

The realtor is doing a great job. Attila has a booklet the realtor produced for the house, it almost makes us want to keep the house! His great promotion certainly makes it harder to let the house go to someone else!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 28 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 24.2°C
Dewpoint: 12.4°C
Humidity: 47%
Wind: NW 19 km/h
Humidex: 27

15°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Friday 29 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 14.7°C
Dewpoint: 12.9°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: S 11 km/h

Quote

“May your walls know joy; May every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility.”
Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey
1995