Zucchini Surprise

Attila continues to chip away at the garage project.  Last weekend he finished closing in and trimming the back exterior, and the interior back wall.  He continues to move building materials into the garage from the basement.  The push is over, now slowly but surely the garage project is progressing.

Do plants smile?  I think they might, you can see them if you watch carefully enough. We had a thunderstorm and heavy rain yesterday afternoon, the garden was glad.  The few remaining Scarlet Runner Bean plants are beginning to produce beans, we have had two meals with fresh beans.  The tomato plants are prolific.  Attila planted, at my request, mostly small tomatoes, Amish, and two varieties that are of unknown varieties.  There is one round tomato plant, Pink Girl.  The fruit is not particularly sweet, but is very tasty, and perfect for toasted tomato sandwiches.  The hot peppers are yielding quite a crop, those are for Attila, I don’t eat them.  The Pole Squash, a heritage variety we ordered online, are barely surviving, one actually died, and I anticipate no fruit from those plants.  The Blue Hubbard Squash is beginning to take over the yard, and wants to trespass on the neighbour’s yard, requiring constant diligence to set the runners back on our property.  The Zucchini, well, there is a beautiful large fruit on it, and, well, it isn’t a Zucchini, it is a pumpkin!   How did that happen, no idea, I must have mislabeled some seeds.

Today is a perfect day.  Sunny, warm but not hot, not terribly humid.  Just lovely!

I am preparing a new dish in the Instant Pot for dinner, making it up as I go along.  Ground beef (and rosemary, always rosemary with beef or red meat), cabbage, and tomato are the base of it, I’ll be adding water, rice, and a few herbs, we will see how it goes.  A sort of cabbage roll casserole.  I am writing it down as I go along, so if we like it, I can replicate it.

There are companies with a solid, reliable right hand that takes your money, who have a thousand left hands that know next to nothing about each other, or how to provide customer service.  These past few weeks I’ve been on the telephone battling it out with perfectly nice but systemically hobbled customer service people.  Every time I think I have it sorted, another unexplained charge shows up, and after much ado, I receive an apology, and the charge is removed.  No wonder people end up with ridiculously high bills, you have to watch these companies like a hawk, and be prepared to spend a LOT of time getting errors straightened out!  Cell phone service providers = misery!

Attila just arrived home for the weekend.  The weather is as perfect as one could wish for on a summer’s day.  Dinner, courtesy of the Instant Pot, is just a “press the start button” away.  All is well, in the here and now, and it does not get any better than that.

Worldly

Weather

25°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Friday 10 August 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 25.0°C
Dew point: 11.3°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: NNE 12 km/h
Humidex: 27
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
Henri Matisse
1869 – 1954

August Begins

Well, here it is, August!

August came in with a big thunderstorm and downpour this afternoon.  It was most welcome, and I could almost hear the sighs of relief from the flora and fauna.  The rain started just as Attila arrived home from work, finding me in the garage listening to the rain on the new metal roof, enjoying the dryness of it all.

July was a month where the humidex reached from 30C to 35C almost every day. It looks like August will be more of the same. It isn’t my favourite kind of weather. The humidity is so cloying.

Tonight’s dinner was a quick and easy Instant Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole.  This recipe has grated cheese stirred in after cooking, it was very nice.  Attila loved it.  There isn’t much I love since I am eating such a low sodium diet, nice is as good as it gets.

When I was shopping earlier in the week, I bought a bag of beautiful looking grapefruit.  We have been eating them in the evenings as a snack.  I love grapefruit, and for years I could not have it because it was contraindicated by my medication.  The medication changed and now I can eat grapefruit again.  A small, but welcome, mercy.

Attila’s cell phone is pay as you go, and needed to be topped up.  Since he uses his cell phone a lot more than I use mine, mostly to call me here at home, his minutes disappear a lot more quickly.  Therefore the cheapest 100 minute prepaid plan seemed a viable solution, with a monthly fee which annually adds up to about the same price as the current pay per use.

I felt sorry for the people I dealt with today, sorting out the cell phone account. I asked a few simple questions, but because the call center people are not from Canada, the nuances of our culture are not familiar to them.  The simple questions ended up taking almost three hours to work through, and the unfortunate last fellow I spoke with, I spoke to three different people, was downright discouraged by the end of the call.  He was polite to the end though. We got the job done, in the end, the cell phone works and in a few months I will go back into the account and set up automatic updates.

Cell phones are getting increasingly expensive to operate, the options are narrowing, masked as improvements, which they aren’t.  My cell phone service provider recently sent me a text message informing me that my pay per use plan was no longer available, and that I would be automatically transferred to a much more expensive plan.  I spent an entire morning on the telephone with them as well, and I can’t say they enjoyed my company.  We got the job done.

Where we once spent $200 annually on cell phones, we now spend $300 to $400 annually.  At our income level this is a significant incursion on available funds.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

26°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Wednesday 1 August 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 25.8°C
Dew point: 22.1°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: SW 16 km/h
Humidex: 35
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
Henry Van Dyke
1852 – 1933

Two Days Of Vacation Left

9:30 a.m.

Attila goes back to work on Monday, two days of renovation vacation left. How much he will get done over the next two days has yet to be determined.

When I arose last night at around 1:30 a.m., to use the facilities, Attila was still up and at it. I ventured into the garage to see how he was doing. There he was, sitting calmly just out of the rain, under the new rafters, smoking a cigarette, contemplating his handy work, and figuring out what needs to be done. I think he went to bed shortly after that, although I was asleep again, and did not hear him retire for the night.

Garage sheathingThe rafters and sheathing on three quarters of the roof, the last section of roof in the foreground, which came down with the assistance of a winch, and the last bit of the garage open to the sky.

Garage tar layersThe old roof had to be cut into sections, through more than an inch of tar based material (shingles and waterproof membranes), and two inch thick solid wood roof boards and supports. It took ten Sawzall blades, and a lot of pain, to cut the old roof into 56 sections, each weighing between 75 about 100 pounds. If that roof had been designed properly, those materials might well have lasted a lifetime… but the lack of adequate support, and inadequate slope, meant that no matter what kind of money, time, and materials were thrown into making that roof waterproof, it could not be made so. What a shame.

Garage old roof downAnd there we have it, the last sections of the old roof, sitting on the floor of the garage. These monsters had to be rolled into the dumpster. I am so glad that we decided on the dumpster, and that Attila does not have to drive these sections to the dump and unload them! When I got up this morning, all of these sections were out of the garage, loaded into the dumpster as I slept. Who needs elves when you have Attila!

This morning, at his request, I awoke Attila at 8:00 a.m. After relaxing with his morning coffee and a cigarette, he changed into his work clothes and got right to it again.

One of the advantages of having most of the rafters and sheathing installed, is that there is now a dry place for Attila to set up his equipment, saws etc. He and his equipment can work comfortably despite the rain. He has one more very long board to cut in the great outdoors, the equipment won’t setup properly in the garage to do that cut, then he can move the equipment indoors. Up until now, all renovations have required Attila to work out in the open, in the back yard. That meant he had to put away his saws and equipment every time it rained, and set them up again when the rain stopped. He won’t miss having to do that! It rained a little bit this morning, and it looks like more is on the way.

I’m the “runner” again today, making another trip to the building centre, and to the grocery store, Attila has lists for both.

Last night’s dinner, Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Chicken with Vegetables and Rice, was a big success. I am using ground beef for tonight’s dinner, Instant Pot Sweet & Sour Beef with vegetables and rice. I have a quarter of a cabbage that I will shred and add to the dish, in addition to the frozen mixed vegetables.

6:09 p.m.

The Instant Pot has been in use every day since it came into the house. Tonight’s dinner was Sweet & Sour Beef & Cabbage With Rice and Vegetables. Hearty fare. I included five garlic scapes from our garden, which I snipped into pieces with the scissors before adding them to the dish, very tasty they were.

As I was eating my dinner, Attila was hard at work, adding the first sheet of plywood sheathing to the open quarter of the roof, having installed all the rafters earlier today. Now he is working on the next sheet, having stopped for a bite of dinner, of which I am glad because it was still hot. He loved the Sweet & Sour Beef dish, asked me to write down the recipe so that we could enjoy it again.

I have been making up recipes every night for our dinners. Such fun. Now that I have the timing and proportions of dry to liquid figured out, the sky is the limit. We both like rice, so I have been focusing on rice dishes. Tomorrow though, I am thinking of making a Chicken Cacciatore With Pasta, making up a one pot recipe for the Instant Pot. I will precook the chicken though, it is important that it is thoroughly cooked. Since the chicken will be pre-cooked, the cooking time can be safely based on the time needed to cook the pasta. My Tuna Noodle Casserole was a success, so I am optimistic that we will like this Chicken Cacciatore.

The migration of this site and others to a new domain host was so very easy. But, at this end, on this computer, I have been having issues with DNS caches, and after posting an entry, I lose access to my sites from this computer. There is a tedious fix, in Terminal, which I have to perform each time I post an entry. As far as I can tell, only I have this issue! The iMac, our entertainment unit, has no issues with accessing the sites, so I can still get in and do what I need to do on the iMac. Eventually I’ll figure out a fix on the fly, and  it will be so organic that I won’t even notice that I am doing it.  UPDATE: I couldn’t resolve this issue myself, it has to do with software on my computer tripping security measures at the host’s end, and locking me out as a result.  I will pursue this issue with the software developer, of the softeware I am using to upload the entries.

Renovations are slow going, they aren’t like new builds, one is always dealing with decisions made at other times, by other people, in other contexts. The garage is a funny affair. It is narrower at the front than at the back. It sits on a concrete foundation that was not poured square. The roof was almost flat, ergo the almost two inches of added waterproof membranes and shingles to try to keep it from leaking. All of these things complicate the job of renovating the roof.

It has been drizzling off and on all day today, but that hasn’t slowed Attila down at all. It isn’t very warm either, but he is working hard enough that he is quite comfortable in a t-shirt. My idea to run duct tape along the joins in the sheathing worked great, no leaks!

Attila plans on working into the night again tonight. He has set himself the goal of finishing framing in and making weather proof the small section of roof that is beside the new garden shed. That section must be designed to take into account the eves of the garden shed roof. It is a fiddly bit.

I noticed Chippy The Chipmunk clamouring up a board and hopping into the garage. The little monster thinks it is his. That will have to be dealt with once the roof gables, and the roof by the garden shed, have been secured. Until then, there will be no keeping him/her out.

I always thought chipmunks were cute, until I had to compete with them for possession of Mist Cottage. The rascally Chip n’ Dale were on the money, when it comes to chipmunk personalities.

Tomorrow we must go through the items in the garage to determine what must go into the dumpster, as it will be picked up on Monday morning. The old roof and all the water damaged items will be carted away. Worth every penny.

8:15 p.m.

Garage roof sheathing completeThe sheathing is done! This picture was taken before Attila applied duct tape to seal over the joins, to keep water out until the metal roof is installed. Oh happy day, this is a sight for sore eyes.

Garage roof sheathing complete interiorAnd here is it from the interior of the garage, high and dry! The old roof was level with the left wall, this photo shows how much Attila raised the right side of the roof, to create a much needed slope, to shed water and snow. It smells like new lumber in there! Wow!

I think this garage, and the rotting finished basement full of chipmunks and mice, were the reason this house sat empty for years. Mould and mildew are smelly and horrid. When we bought Mist Cottage the smell of animals, mould, and mildew hit your senses full force as you entered the front door. It was disgusting. It improved over time, bit by bit, so that by the time we moved here in 2015 the interior air was sweet. But until this week there were very bad odours in the garage. Fixing the underlying problems has been a huge amount of work. The basement and the garage are fixed now. We gutted the basement within weeks of purchasing the house, filling a dumpster with the contents, and shingles as we also put a new roof on the house. We hired a contractor to dig around the foundation of the basement, lay drainage tiles, and installed a membrane to protect the concrete from water in the soil. And now, at last, the old garage roof, so thick with hopeless shingles and waterproof membranes, has been ripped off, one small section at a time, to be replaced with a lovely metal roof, with a slope adequate to shed rain and snow. Mist Cottage is now, at last, structurally secure. If we didn’t do another renovation, we could live here quite comfortably.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Saturday 23 June 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 17.2°C
Dew point: 14.9°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: NE 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Out of the strain of the Doing,
Into the peace of the Done.”
Julia Louise Woodruff
1833 – 1891

Leaves and Blackflies

I am happy to see rain this morning. Although the water is diligently watered by Attila, the plants prefer rain.

Yesterday I finished applying marine wax to the top half of Iris the trailer. The bottom half will get done in bits, a little at a time, when the mood strikes me. It could take all summer, and Universe willing I have that kind of time.

I took a flying visit to the Rideau Camp on the weekend, accompanied by Attila. He cut weeds and worked on the last big stump, which needed earth removed from the exposed roots, and to be rolled a long distance to the fire pit. It didn’t make it as far as the fire pit, but progress was made. It is a very large and heavy stump.

My time was spent dealing with the mess the mouse made, as one of them, fingers crossed it was only one, was trapped in Grace the trailer when the slide out was extended. I know this because I found the dead mouse in a cubby behind the range. He/she made quite a mess in one of the cupboards, and in other areas of the trailer. The mouse traps that were set had been overturned to set them off, then the bait eaten. Because there was no source of fluids, the mouse ate every fly and wasp that was trapped in the trailer when it was locked up after the last visit; their remains were everywhere. The mouse’s body was thrown into the bush, where its remains will meet a natural end. Wearing mask and gloves, the urine and faeces, and chewed bits of fabric and plastic, all were sprayed with hydrogen peroxide, cleaned, then washed with soap and water. Using the generator that was brought along, I vacuumed the whole trailer, exhausting the vacuum out the window. the vacuum bag was removed and disposed of.

There may be another mouse in the trailer, that won’t be known until the next visit.

The weekend weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. The leaves are bursting forth and unfurling on the trees. On the Rideau Camp, and along the sides of the road on the journey, carpets of white trilliums bloomed. The Mayflowers were also blooming in carpets on our driveway at the Camp. The Trout Lilies are not quite ready to bloom though.

I have noticed, over my short existence on the planet, that with the spring unfurling of leaves come the blackflies. They were around during the visit to the Camp, I have a few bites, but not yet swarming. It is time to pull out the Camp wardrobe and begin spraying everything with the permethrin mixture. This will require a dry, relatively windless day, and the wearing of long sleeved clothing, a mask, and gloves. It isn’t my favourite task, but the results are worthwhile.

The hydro time-of-use schedule changed on the first of May, which requires a big shift in domestic routines. In keeping with keeping the hydro bill as low as possible, I began preparations to bake muffins yesterday before 6:00 a.m., so that the oven would finish using electricity by the time mid-peak rates began. I didn’t quite make it, but the oven didn’t use very much electricity after 7:00 a.m. I will have to start just a bit earlier. I like the summer time-of-use schedule better, because mid-peak rates start at 7:00 a.m., rather than 11:00 a.m., which is a better fit for my morning person personality. I hate time-of-use because it dictates what I can and cannot do during the day, when I have the energy and free time to do it.

This is a good day for sitting out on the porch, watching the rain run off the roof, the green things grow, and the rabbits, squirrels, birds, bees, and other insects revel in the lushness of spring.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

14°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Tuesday 15 May 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dew point: 13.7°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: NW 8 km/h
Visibility: 3 km

Quote

“The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.”
Thorstein Veblen
1857 – 1929

One statement, so many ways to hear it.

Mug Cake

Sometimes I just want to eat something sweet. This morning was one of those times. I love Danish Pastry, and that is what I craved. But the only store bought pastries that work for me, with comprehensive labels, come in packages of four or six. I cannot purchase in individual pastry. Herein lies the problem. If I buy four, I will eat four. If I buy six, I will eat six. If I buy one, I will eat one. I only want to buy one, which I cannot do. So instead, I found a recipe for a mug cake, skipped the Nutella, added a dollop of peanut butter, and a dollop of raspberry jam, then sprinkled chocolate chips over it, and baked it in the microwave. It hit the spot, scratched the itch, quenched my craving.

I am careful of sugar laden treats, as I feel sugar contributes significantly to my high blood pressure. I’m not sure it works this way for everyone, but I certainly found it to be the case, after monitoring my diet and my blood pressure daily, for more than a year. I love sugar, but it is something I have to be very careful with. My mug cake had a total of two tablespoons, or six teaspoons, of sugar in it. That is my daily quota! So today I am over quota, because I also added a teaspoon of maple syrup to my morning coffee. I enjoyed that cake, and won’t need to bake another for a while.

It is raining today, providing the newly washed Iris The Trailer with a thorough rinse. The weather reports say that next week we will see sunshine again, and then I will be up there on the ladder, scrubbing away to remove the black dots left by the lichen. When the surfaces are clean, marine wax will be applied and buffed. Slow but sure, that’s me.

Green, a very welcome colour. The day gets greener as the rain falls. Sometimes it is wonderful to live in the universe’s colouring book.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Wednesday 25 April 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.5°C
Dew point: 9.7°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: ENE 17 km/h
Visibility: 5 km

Quote

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”
Robert Fritz