On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

Stifling

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hot!

This morning I slept in. It was just after 6:00 a.m. when I opened my eyes. Morning routines, rise, dress, make the bed, put the kettle on, make coffee, then sit and gaze out the window at the trees. While sipping coffee, the thought that a trip to the Rideau Camp was needed, and could be accomplished, there and back, in the early morning, before the heat of the day turned the world into an oven.

Attila was fast asleep at 7:40 a.m., but I decided to rouse him earlier than his usual 8:00 a.m., to ask him if he wanted to go to the Camp this morning. He did!

We left Mist Cottage just after 8:30 a.m., and arrived at the Camp an hour or so later. The journey was lovely, green fields, blue skies, light traffic.

We were there until noon, when it was beginning to get really hot.

The last time we visited the Rideau Camp, four mouse traps were set in the trailer, and two dishes of warfarin as well. Today there three of the mouse traps held dead mice, and one of the dishes of warfarin was empty, the others were untouched. Attila brought the mouse traps with the mice out to the camp fire pit, placing them on a rock, so that I could deal with them.

The weeds had grown high since the last visit, so Attila spent his time at the camp cutting weeds with the weed whacker.

I was busy also, I watered the garlic and the four Blue Hubbard Squash plants, and picked the garlic scapes.

Then I brought kindling, a sheet of newspaper, a lighter, and some firewood to the fire pit, to build a camp fire. It was really too hot for a camp fire, but it was a necessity. The mice had consumed some warfarin, so I wanted to ensure that they did not become food for another animal. The dead mice were cremated in the camp fire. The mouse traps were doused in water, then cleaned by brushing them with weeds, that had been plucked out of the crushed stone. The traps were baited once more with peanut butter and placed back into Grace the Trailer.

There were some gruesome bits to be cleaned after the traps were taken out. After spraying the areas in question with hydrogen peroxide, and pulling on some latex gloves, I set to work cleaning, using paper towels which I could then burn in the camp fire.

Grace smelled bad. Dead and decomposing mice do not smell pleasant. Windows were opened, roof vents opened as well, to give Grace a good airing out. If more mice are caught, the next visit will involve more cremations, cleaning, and airing out of the trailer.

I really hope that we discover where the mice are coming into the trailer!!

I enjoyed watering the garlic and the four Blue Hubbard Squash plants, there is something very satisfying about watering plants. The garlic scapes were ready for harvesting, they are such a wonderful ingredient in the Instant Pot meals I’ve been making recently.

By noon we were both soaking wet, from working in the heat and humidity, so we packed everything up and retreated to the car, to make the trip home in a much appreciated air conditioned vehicle.

After unpacking the car, Attila was back on the job. The new wall studs on the front wall were constructed, and siding installed. He even managed to paint the the new siding. It looks as if it has always been as it is now.

It is so hot outside that when Attila came in at one point, his clothes were completely, down to the last fibre, soaked in sweat. After changing, back out he went. His plan to finish the wall above the garage doors today was accomplished.

Iris has been sitting on the front lawn since June 15, 2018. Now that the front of the garage roof project is completed, she will be moved back into her rightful place in the driveway.

Attila has now reached the stage in the project, where he feels peace of mind, confident that the remaining touches will proceed smoothly. There will still be much to do, but the big push is over.

While removing the old roof the week before last, carpenter ant nests were found in the wet rotted wood. They were destroyed. When the rotting sill plate above the front garage doors was removed this afternoon, another nest of carpenter ants was found. They were destroyed. The theory is, and I like this theory, that now that the wood will remain dry and sound, there will be no more carpenter ants.

My eyes are bothering me tonight. It started when we were at the camp, I think perhaps the UV index has something to do with my discomfort. My eyes are teary, and my vision is blurry. There are no other symptoms. I will be sure to wear sunglasses out of doors from now on.

Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends. I heard fireworks in the distance last night, but could see no signs of them through any of the windows. The celebration here at Mist Cottage consisted of Nachos with salsa and sour cream, perfect for us after a hot day in the bush, and Attila working on the roofing project.

Sunday, July 2, 2018

Yesterday Attila finished installing the siding on the front of the garage, and painted it too. Just the trim to be added, and the presentation is complete. Although the front is not really complete, it does look as if it is from the outside, which is what the neighbours care about, so Attila is feeling a lot more relaxed about the project now. Having it look finished from the outside was his turning point. Having the metal on the roof so that it would shed water was my turning point. Both have been accomplished.

I was going to vacuum in the garage early this morning, but I got sidetracked. Last evening Attila picked an armful of rhubarb from the garden, which I covered and put into the refrigerator for the night. This morning, when I opened the refrigerator door to get the milk for my coffee, there it was, waiting for me. I began the process of baking a rhubarb crisp, and preparing the left over rhubarb for the freezer. The rhubarb crisp was baked in the Nesco on the back porch. There was enough cubed rhubarb left over for two more rhubarb crisps, so I bagged, labelled, and stowed it in the freezer.

While I was busy with the rhubarb, I noticed that there was only one baked potato left in the refrigerator. Attila snacks on baked potatoes, if they are there, so it was time to bake more, in the Instant Pot of course!

The hydro is roughly half price today, because it is a statutory holiday. It is the perfect time to bake a loaf of bread. I baked the the loaf in the kitchen, even though the heat from the bread machine would mean that the air conditioning would have to work harder. Attila needed the electrical outlet on the back porch, for his equipment to work on the garage roof project, and bread takes about three hours, much too long for him to lose access to electricity for his tools.

It is another stinker of a day out there today. The second day in a row that the government is posting very inaccurate information about the temperature. The government weather web site says it is 26C with a humidex of 36C. That is false. Our thermometer, in the shade, reads 31C, who knows what the humidex is; it is high. Attila knows, he is out there working in this heat, and he says today is hotter and more humid than yesterday.

The rabbits are breaking my heart! There are only four pea plants left, of more than a dozen. Now they are killing the Scarlet Runner beans too. They reach through the fence and pull the stems over, near ground level, and bite through the stems to kill the plants. They don’t eat the plants, they just kill them and leave them. There are three of these rabbits, and they are bold as brass. My water canon ultimately has little effect. They run when the realize I am around, but they come back and decimate our food crop when I am busy elsewhere.

After reading a lot of different suggestions on how to control them, I decided that a chicken wire fence, attached at the top to our yard fence, and held down with garden stakes, would be the best option. I even sourced the materials, and drove to Canadian Tire to purchase what was needed, but everything is closed today. Tomorrow I plan on finding the chicken wire and garden stakes, and installing them! I sure hope there are a few plants left to save by then.

Wildlife is cute, but losing our high quality food is not cute. We need a fence around the garden area of our yard, which would protect the climbing food plants on the existing fence, because it would enclose that stretch of fence.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Sunday, July 1, 2018
The weather people say it is 26C at 3:40 p.m., with a humidex of 34C. Where are they taking these measurements!!!
WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!
It is 34 in the shade here at Mist Cottage, our thermometer has been accurate for years, I trust it, and the humidex must be very much higher than that, 40C at least. I wonder why the temperature posted by Environment Canada is so very different than the temperature on local thermometers! Is their reading under estimated, read on the lakeshore, under reported… it isn’t accurate whatever their problem is.

Quote

“Spare no expense to save money on this one.”
Samuel Goldwyn
1882 – 1974

Busily Recuperating

The summer cold continues to plague me, although the symptoms lessen slowly over time, I am still struggling to keep up my fluids, and go through boxes of tissues. I was only up twice last night coughing, an improvement. This is one miserable cold!

My energy levels are definitely down, but I am managing to remain a it active anyway.

On Saturday Attila and I took a run out to the Rideau Camp. All was well there, except for the hoards of army worms. They were there in much greater numbers than our last visit, even though I had destroyed hundreds and hundreds of them. The spray works really well for the swarms of them, but not so well on individual worms. Attila sprayed, while I used a stick to squish the low lying outliers. I also tended an all day camp fire, burning a lot of the brush that had been brought up from the swamp area near the road, it had dried out. I estimate that I was on my feet dealing with army worms for over seven hours on Saturday. By the time we headed home it was beginning to get dark, after 8:00 p.m., and I could hardly stand I was so tired. I really enjoyed being a passenger on the drive home!

Mice continue to enter Grace the Trailer, I haven’t found the entry point yet. I spent an hour or so spraying their mess with hydrogen peroxide, then collecting and burning it all in the camp fire. Mice are horrid, destructive little beasts! While working on the army worms near Winnie the outhouse, I noticed debris hanging from the ceiling in there. Sure enough, a mouse was building a nest in the ceiling. I chased the mouse away, knocked the nest down, then used tongs to throw it into the camp fire. Critters!

Yesterday was restful by comparison. I spent my day preparing food, using the back porch as an outdoor kitchen. I used the Nesco oven to bake a rhubarb crisp, with fresh rhubarb from the garden. I used the bread machine to bake a loaf of bread. Using the dehydrator fresh oregano from the garden was dried and powdered. The dehydrated tomato seeds and skins, leftover when the tomatoes were processed with the food mill, were powdered as well. Having used appliances out of doors, in a covered area, the house was not heated up at all, and it remained a cool haven all day long.

One of my projects last week involved the sewing machine. While I had it out to stitch up the skirt curtain for the basement window, I also stitched up some cabana curtains, using my stash of old bed sheets. The sheets were all white, but all different sizes, which looks a little haphazard, but does the job nicely. One of the sheets was the one that was sent to summer camp with Terra, when she was in primary school. It still has her initials painted onto it with fingernail polish, and a fingernail polish footprint, where the project got a little out of hand. When these sheets wear out, I’ll look for replacements of the same size, in bright colours. For now though, the white sheets are doing a fine job of keeping the afternoon sun off the deck. No longer does it heat up to unbearable temperatures in late afternoon.

Cabana curtain back porch june 2018 The back porch cabana curtain. The porch gets full sun from about 2 p.m. until sundown, and it gets very hot on the back porch when that happens. I hung old white flat sheets from long curtain rods, to make “cabana curtains” for the back porch. They work wonderfully well, so that I can now sit out on the porch comfortably all afternoon, and the house no longer gets hot in the afternoons. Note that the porch is a sorry affair. The decking is actually hardwood flooring, never meant to be installed without support. Attila added the outer row of short pieces, from scrap we found below the porch. There was no railing when we bought Mist Cottage. The cast iron railing that is there now, was the railing on the front porch, a huge concrete affair that had sunk towards the house and rotted out the sill plates. The railing was saved and installed on the back porch. The back porch is the next project on the list of renovations, another year.

Today I am resting, as I feel quite worn out!

For dinner tonight I need to come up with something using a single chicken breast. I want to use the mini Instantpot that we recently purchased on sale, couldn’t resist it for the back porch summer kitchen! Most of the recipes I find online use ketchup, soy sauce, and other ingredients that are full of sugars and sodium. I am going to attempt to use the techniques, while using completely different ingredients.

Although I was aware of Instantpots, I didn’t give them a second thought. I have a pressure cooker, and a pressure canner, what would I do with an Instantpot pressure cooker. Bex shared some recipes she tried in one, and I was intrigued. Then I found one on sale, and that was it, home it came. It is the smallest one, 3 quart, there are only two of us here. The first recipe tried was Rice Pudding, it was the best rice pudding I have ever made, hands down. The second recipe tried was Vegetarian Baked Beans, very yummy, very easy. The third recipe was spicy kidney beans for Attila, very nice. The Instantpot is perfect for a one-electrical-outlet based, outdoor kitchen on the back porch. It sautés, in addition to pressure cooking, so that it is the only pot needed to prepare a dish. Since I don’t add any sodium to my dishes, and limit condiments like soy sauce, which are high in sodium, finding flavour requires sautéing. Caramelized onions are essential in sodium free savoury cooking.

I received a call this morning, a dumpster became available. Attila called them back later this morning, and the dumpster arrives today! The driveway is not ready for it. Iris the Trailer needs to be relocated, I cannot do it, so I have my fingers crossed that Attila arrives home early enough to move her out of the way before the dumpster arrives. Otherwise, he will have to carry debris around Iris, to deposit it in the dumpster small load by small load, a real waste of precious time, but it is his time, it is his project. I am a person who likes to think ahead and be prepared, I would have moved Iris on the weekend, but Attila does not move to the beat of the same drum. It will all work out somehow, it always does, and the only tension Attila experiences in these situations is due to my reactions, which I diligently try to keep to myself. [Note: Attila arrived home in time to move Iris onto the front lawn, before the dumpster was delivered. It is huge. I think the whole house might fit into it! This will be a good opportunity to do a all out purge.]

I am an ounce of prevention woman, living with a pound of cure man.

Sometimes I waste time on prevention, for circumstances that never materialize. Sometimes Attila wastes time ameliorating situations that might have been prevented. It probably balances itself out.

Attila seems very settled into his life here, which I am finding comfortable. The one true thing, that I live in a house with Attila, is still true. For now, it is enough, perhaps it always will be. I can only hope that future changes in my life are not so jarring as the terrible, terrible mistake. The knowledge that anything could happen is still very close.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Monday 11 June 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.8°C
Dew point: 6.2°C
Humidity: 38%
Wind: NE 18 gust 34 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
1890 – 1969

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.

Mice

I took a whirlwind trip to visit the Rideau Camp, and to check Grace the trailer, to see how she weathered the winter. Attila made the trip with me.

Attila dragged deadwood from the front of the property to the camp fire pit, and I spent my hours there cleaning Grace. Mice had infiltrated and left disgusting droppings in the kitchen drawers, which had to be removed and cleaned out of doors, as well as all the contents sterilized and washed. I think Attila found where they came in, chewed right through the rubber flashing on one of the doors. I am on the search for metal reinforced flashing now, so they can’t chew through it.

It was lovely to drive through the countryside on the way to the Camp. There were bright yellow Coltsfoot blooms along the road in, and the ground at the Camp was covered with emerging Trout Lily leaves.

At Mist Cottage the sunshine saw to the last of the snow on the lawn. It also persuaded a few blooms to emerge from the awakening Lungwort in the front garden. Rabbits have been eating the new growth from the onions and garlic plants in the garden. There are more rabbits about this spring, probably because the wetland forest at the end of the street has been destroyed. A fence around the garden might be required!

I have been working on my genealogy database, allowing myself to wander around through primary documents on ancestry. This morning I reviewed all the deaths in the Parry Sound area for 1918, one of the Spanish Flu epidemic years. There were more than 70 deaths due to influenza, and many deaths due to pneumonia, which in some cases might have been related to influenza. I enjoy following little lines if inquiry like this from time to time, just seeing what the data will reveal. Then, when I have some information, I like to contemplate how it played out in lived lives, the human element, the feelings, the effects on human communities, that sort of thing. My Granny was 16 years old in 1918, with a war on, and a flu epidemic, it must have been a challenging year. I wonder did she have a beau, did she lose friends to the war or the epidemic? I’d love to be able to talk with her again, to find out about her life.

A new ball of yarn was started on the crocheted blanket project. I find I have been picking it up a bit more frequently, when I want to sit and think.

The holding pattern with Attila is working well so far, so that domestic life is relatively comfortable. I am beginning to get my bearings here, feel solid ground under my feet. My affection for Attila is undiminished. I am still leery of the situation, the unexpectedness of the terrible, terrible mistake has shown me the precariousness of my life, any life really, something not easily forgotten.

Today is predicted to be warm, 15C, and sunny. I am very keen to grab my bucket, and a ladder, and give Iris the trailer a good exterior washing. Sitting under a tree, she has accumulated some green algae on her roof, and long one side. A good washing, and an interior cleaning are a very good idea.

As I sit here writing, the sun is streaming in through the living room windows. The beautiful, bug free, maybe even open today windows!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Monday 23 April 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dew point: -1.9°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: NNE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -2
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.”
Samuel Johnson
1709 – 1784