Paper Journal

January seems to be passing unnoticed, by me. In less than a week I will herald in February, the shortest month on the calendar, and often the longest month of experience, for those of us who live in the parts of the northern hemisphere, where winter demands all of our strict attention.

I am settling into a kind of routine now, the days are getting a bit easier, and my bouts of intense grief are fewer and fewer as the days go by. I am still on the lookout for new activities, and volunteer work that might be a good fit.

It has been a busy day. I worked a bit on genealogy, a bit on the web site upgrade, and did a bit of reading. I have puttered around the house, switched mattresses around, vacuumed, washed laundry, dried laundry, put away laundry, sorted through linens, and swept floors. I have done a lot of filing, and even sat down to write in my new paper journal. I decided to write a paper journal, in addition to all my online writing, because it reminds me of my youth. There was a time in my life when I always had a pencil or pen in my hand, and carried pen and paper with me wherever I went. I write differently with pen and paper, although it is hard to describe just how. Still, I am enjoying the paper journal, and it feels good to practise cursive writing and printing again.

By my estimation it is about five weeks until March arrives. I disliked March intensely when we lived at the country house, because it was a month of full-on winter weather, with few signs of spring. Not so at Mist Cottage! March here brings milder temperatures, a lot less snow, and a lot of the snow melts away during the month of March. There are bouts of blustery, snowy days in March, but the severity and duration are not what they are in December, January, and February, or in March at the country house.

It has been sunny all day! I have been sitting in my easy chair, soaking in the sunshine. The wind is blowing out there, so I think it might be chilly to be out and walking around, but it is cozy here in Mist Cottage.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 2:00 PM EST Friday 26 January 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dew point: -8.6°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: SSE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -5
Visibility: 24 km


“The best time to plant an oak tree was twenty-five years ago. The second best time is today.”
James Carville


After balmy, above freezing weather, that melted all the snow in our yard, we are experiencing another cold snap, which the weather gurus say will be short lived. Attila and I went to buy groceries this morning, and it was bitterly cold walking across the wind swept parking lots. The oil furnace is heating the house, and I find myself enjoying the flow of warm air coming out of the floor register.

This afternoon I am making another batch of banana muffins, with the last two bananas that were purchased last week, both wonderfully, aromatically overripe. Attila cooked stir fried vegetables and I baked some chicken breasts for supper. We watched an hour of the series The Almighty Johnsons. Old routines are still here, but they feel empty, the emptiness echoes.

I have started sleeping with the blanket I crocheted. It feels so warm, so soft, and squeezable. It has become my safety blanket, something I can hold onto, or wrap around myself, when the cold blast of reality is rattling my bones.

DSCF1348 My trusty cape, aka safety blanket.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 2:00 PM EST Saturday 13 January 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -13.4°C
Dew point: -21.9°C
Humidity: 50%
Wind: NNW 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -21
Visibility: 24 km
Clearing near noon. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. Temperature steady near minus 13. Wind chill minus 25.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 25. Wind chill minus 32.


“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
Mother Teresa
1910 – 1997


Routines are important to me. Life can get very complicated with my anaphylaxis, and our multiple properties, so anything that streamlines recurring tasks is welcome.

One routine I have had to forego is a daily walk, until now. At the country house I made huge efforts to get out for a walk, but the barriers eventually wore away my determination. I could not develop any kind of routine for walking at the country house.

The spring and summer brought black flies and mosquitoes, and not just a few. Going out of doors meant wearing protective clothing. Walking in protective clothing is not enjoyable, and it is uncomfortable when the body begins to generate heat from the exercise. Heat from exercise attracts even more of the blood sucking insects. It became a chore to don all the protective gear for a truly uncomfortable experience. I simply stopped being able to make myself do it.

The autumn brings hunting season. The “bite” here is a lot worse than that the blood sucking insects. Hunters actually hunt on our land, so going for a walk is risky business, one never knows if one will be “mistaken for a swan”. This is not paranoia, just after we moved to the country house a woman, a seasonal cottager, was shot dead by a hunter while she was out for her walk. It wasn’t near our house, but the lesson is transferrable to anywhere that hunting is practised. I cannot make myself go for walks during hunting season.

The winter brings snow, which is ploughed into very high snow banks. It also brings ice, which is slippery. It also brings snowmobiles, which charge up and down our street at high speeds. I would not have a chance, if a snowmobile came upon me, around a corner, at high speed. I am not nimble enough in my senior years to leap almost my own height to get onto the snowbank, and out of their way. There is no other avenue of escape on the narrow country road. I cannot make myself go for walks in the winter.

Walking has always been my exercise of choice. Walking is something I love to do. So, this winter I am taking advantage of being at the little house in the city. Here there are sidewalks. Here there are few biting insects. Here there are no hunters with guns. Here there are no snowmobiles on the sidewalks, or ATVs for that matter. So far this winter the roads and sidewalks have been clear of snow and ice. At the little house in the city I can develop the routine of daily walking, with few interruptions due to environmental conditions.

My health will slowly improve due to my ability to go for a walk.

I am not the only senior out there walking! During my walk I see at least a half a dozen other seniors out walking, some with dogs, some with their life partner, some by themselves as I am.

Another benefit I enjoy at the little house in the city is that the people are friendly. To smile at a passing stranger costs nothing, and the people in this town spend their smiles freely. Every morning that I have been on a walk someone has said “good morning” to me.

At the country house we have few neighbours, and their combined greetings can be counted on two hands… and that is over an eleven year span of time. In the shops in town, I am not treated as a valued customer, because I am not a valued customer. The shop keepers cater to the wealthy seasonal people, low-income locals are not considered valuable customers. The one exception is the local grocery store, the staff there are friendly to all, the store is kept open over the winter as a courtesy to the local residents, which is very much appreciated. The liquor store and beer store might also be friendly, but since I don’t need to shop there I do not know. As for the rest, I haven’t had a good experience yet, as a customer or as an employee.

Attila experiences the country house location in a completely different way than I do. That is due to several factors. He is a white, well educated, male, this goes a long, long way to garner acceptance in provincial Canadian society. Another factor is that he has a decent employer, and his hard work is appreciated. This is unusual anywhere. Another factor is that Attila enjoys many of the people he meets through his work. Since his employer treats him as a valued employee, the customers treat him with similar consideration. The country house location is not toxic for Attila, quite the opposite.

I had a good day today. I went for my walk, following a tip yesterday from Randy, wearing two pairs of socks and securing my laces carefully. I experienced no pain during the walk, and the blister did not bleed!

Later in the day I gathered together all the unused items that have accumulated over the last five years here at the little house in the city. There are two piles of items, clothing for the Salvation Army store, and building materials for the ReStore. I visited the Salvation Army in town, but it was closed until next week. So I took myself off to the grocery store for milk, and came away with three bags of groceries. Bacon was on sale, so I bought a few pounds, and I also bought myself a treat for New Year’s Eve. Attila and I will be spending New Year’s Eve together, via FaceTime, and I wanted a treat for the celebration. I eventually settled on cashews. I love cashews, but they cost the moon! Still, they are better for me than the other alternatives I was considering, which were sweet or salty.

After returning home from the grocery store I started a batch of chili. I used the remainder of the first batch of baked beans I canned. I enjoyed a bowl for supper, set aside two helpings for another two suppers later in the week, and froze five more servings in the freezer.

I seem to be settling in, here at the little house in the city.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 PM EST Tuesday 30 December 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -7.8°C
Dewpoint: -13.9°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: NNE 7 km/h
Wind Chill: -12


“Since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of time, you are incomparable.”
Brenda Ueland