Sunshine!

The sun was shining this morning! All that white sparkled, and well it might at -17C. The wind was negligible, so the heat in the house is being retained easily. By noon snowflakes began to drift down, by 12:15 it was snowing hard. Tomorrow, it is supposed to rain. This is going to be some winter.

Packing for the trip has begun in earnest. Lists made over the last few weeks are being consulted, items ticked off.

I am by turns excited to be off to the little house, because I love it there, and feeling sad that I will be staying there without Attila’s company, as he must return to the country and to his job. I am usually distressed for a day or so before my lone visits, and then a day or so after I arrive; after that a routine sets in and comfort is restored.

To mediate the intermittent separations from Attila, I spent some time today setting up Facetime, which I am hoping Attila can adapt to without issue. Attila is gradually increasing his use of the computer, building his skill set as he goes. He has come a long way with it, particularly when his almost complete lack of free time is taken into consideration. It is a a good tool for communication between us, when we are staying at different places.

We have been using Skype, but the quality of the calls is less than ideal, and Attila often becomes frustrated with having to repeat himself, which makes for a less-than-ideal interaction. I don’t mind repeating myself nearly so much, probably because I spend all of my time alone, and conversation, no matter how stilted, is a novelty. Attila supervises people where he works, interaction is not a novelty for him. I am hoping Facetime will work for us! I still need Skype of course, as it will make telephone calls anywhere in North America, for one annual price, $30.00. The cell phone is for emergency situations only, as it is far too costly to use for friendly conversations.

Today I am thinking of Reenie, who had some bad news and some good news this week. Glad your there Reenie, keep enjoying breakfast, find yourself a live-in dancing boy, and Go Cleveland!!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-17°C
Date: 9:00 AM EST Friday 21 November 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -17.3°C
Dewpoint: -18.6°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: NNW 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -20

Quote

“The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.”
G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936

The First Time ‘Round

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The clouds were rolling by today, white and grey and dark, billowing along at a great pace. It was 8C outside this morning. The wind was brisk. The rain came, and then it went, and then it came back again. Some of it was misty, and some of it was thick. From time to time the sun came out. It was a roller coaster day.

Attila and I enjoyed a leisurely chat over our coffee, via Skype. The quality of the Skype calls leaves a lot to be desired, but we manage, at the price we pay for Skype, we manage. Attila was then off to continue bringing in firewood from the back of the property, splitting it, and stacking it in the woodshed. He now has completed four of the six rows we will need to keep the house warm. He has a full day to tackle it today, so I anticipate he will make significant headway.

Here at the little house it was little bits and bobs that captured my time, puttering again!

Terra ran her first marathon this morning!!! It was an OPP Team Challenge run, raising money for a good cause. What a girl. She just texted me with a picture of herself, at her finish line (8 km), looking radiant, yes radiant. I love the look in her eyes, just love it, she is so happy with herself. As a Mom, these were the moments I lived for, the moments that made the hard work of parenting worthy. What more could anyone want for a loved one!

The Finish Line: Terra runs a Marathon. Happy!
TerraMarathon

Terra’s run inspired me to get myself dressed in warm clothing and get out there walking. I only walk for half an hour, but it is enough to get my heart pumping and my muscles working. My knee and left leg still need to be babied a bit, by the time I arrived home I was experiencing a little bit of pain. I am considering looking for high quality walking shoes, but that will have to wait until the new year. Just as well, we will be wearing winter boots before we know it! I wore a shirt, a jacket, and a quilted vest, as well as jeans and walking shoes. I was comfortable enough, except for my hands, goodness that brisk wind was cold! Time to get out the gloves!

Yesterdays canning recipe, the molasses beans, needs a bit of tweaking. The jars all sealed, so the canning process needs no adjustments. For this first batch, the beans were merely washed, and sorted, then measured into the jars. This works wonderfully for the larger jars, but not so well for the smaller jars, because the smaller jars are cooked for a shorter period of time. As a result this first batch was short of expectation on two counts: one, the beans were cooked, but too firm for my taste; two, the sauce was watery because I had to add water to fill the jars to the one inch head space. So next time I am going to follow the instructions exactly, soaking the beans and boiling them before measuring them into the jars. The beans will be much plumper when added to the jars, so that there will be enough sauce to fill the jars to the one inch head space, no water added. This will also give the beans a head start so that they will be softer after the shorter cooking time.

I ate one jar of my molasses beans for lunch, and they are quite pleasant. However, I can do better! And I will. This first batch will be used mostly for Chili Con Carne, where the watery sauce will be boiled down to a rich and thick consistency.

One more canning session then, while I am here. It often takes several attempts, before a recipe is tweaked to my satisfaction, sometimes even more. I don’t give up though, and that is how I learned to bake bread, roll out tasty pie crusts, and do all kinds of things that didn’t work out the way I wanted them to the first time ’round, or the second, or…

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11°C
Date: 1:05 PM EDT Sunday 5 October 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 10.6°C
Dewpoint: 5.1°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: SSW 30 gust 39 km/h

Quote

“Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Satchel Paige
1906 – 1982

And, I could not resist the following, when I saw it, had to laugh out loud:

“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”
Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000

Late Spring

After a few days of wind and rain, the sun is shining. I took the opportunity to go for a walk this afternoon, my first of the year! What a wondrous thing spring is, and it has arrived at the little house in the city. The tree in the front yard continues to be busy with jays, robins and grackles. They leave bright red droppings from the berries, which are still clinging thick in the tree. Soon the snow here will disappear completely!

This is how Attila and I both feel about the winter we just came through, and continue to experience in Muskoka:

Attila, on the other hand, has been shovelling snow off the deck today; and there is more snow predicted for next week. I hope it will be a poor offering though, and melt as it touches ground, well in our case it will touch snow, but the idea is the same. Attila has been working away on the drywall project, today he taped and finished the first mudding. Hopefully the sanding will be done by the time I return; and if it is I will begin a thorough spring cleaning!

Wiggler seems to be doing well, the results of yesterday’s blood test will affirm good health, hopefully. Terra and Lares should hear back from the vet’s office tomorrow. It is a huge expense!

I continue to do a little puttering and cleaning here at the little house in the city. It is slow going. Since there is still a significant amount of renovating to be done, it is unwise to get rid of bits and bobs that might come in handy during the process. The items I am taking for donation and recycling are almost all items donated to us, such as games, books, and things we will not use in the future. I know I could probably sell them, but I prefer to give them away. Unfortunately I am good at giving, not very talented in the taking department.

I had a nice chat with Harriet this morning, using Skype. She says there is no snow left in Niagara, so they are a little further along with spring than I am here at the little house in the city, and a LOT further along than the country house. Niagara has much to recommend it, what I miss the most is the fresh produce, the call of the cicadas on a late summer’s evening, the smell of fresh cut grass, and train whistles calling distant, muted invitations to adventure.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Attila’s World: Country House

7°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Sunday 6 April 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 7.1°C
Dewpoint: -5.9°C
Humidity: 39%
Wind: WSW 17 gust 28 km/h

My World: Little House in the City

3°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Sunday 6 April 2014
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 2.6°C
Dewpoint: -1.2°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: S 28 km/h

Quote

“Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.”
Cary Grant
1904 – 1986

Berry Picking

Yesterday the first task on my morning list was to spray the bathroom with aqueous oxygen, to disinfect the mould, and clean the areas around the tub where the drywall had turned into mould balls. There were also a few areas where mice had visited between the exposed studs, and left their little black calling cards. I disinfected those areas as well.

The insulation was completely removed by about eleven in the morning. I worked from 7:00 a.m. right on through till I finished the job. Fibreglass insulation is a misery to work with, it releases small glass fibres into the air, which float like predators looking to land on sweaty damp skin. I took the precaution of wearing a long sleeve shirt, long pants, and rubber boots. It was hot work! I used an expandable industrial garbage bag, placed in the tub, to dispose of the insulation. When I was finished the job the bag was full, and almost too heavy to carry. I sealed it and then managed to wrestle it onto the back porch.

I finished the job by vacuuming the newly bared wall boards, to remove any remaining glass fibres.

So here it is, done and dusted, at least the part of the project that I am taking on during this visit.
Bathroominsulationout

I closed the curtains in the house, and removed every last piece of clothing from my body, dropping shirt and pants and everything inside out on the floor, ready for the laundry bag. It felt so good to remove those sticky, hot and glass fibre laden clothes. I washed myself down at the kitchen sink, with cold water, which also felt wonderful after such a hot job.

Then I cleaned the tub one more time, hopped in and washed my hair in cold water from the tap. I was feeling so overheated, from my morning’s work, that this was a pleasant experience!

This morning I opened my eyes at 5:25 a.m., thankful to have slept through the night. After a quick call to Attila, who was getting ready for work, I sat down with my mug of coffee to contemplate the day.

I grew up on a fruit farm in Niagara. Summer, for me, has to include picking fresh produce; I feel there is something missing if I don’t get out to a farm to harvest something. So early this morning I perused the local paper and found ads for you-pick strawberries, just outside of town. I called to ensure they were open at 8:00 a.m. as advertised, and was there to join the line up of cars as the gates opened at the farm. I picked quite a few berries, $18.00 worth, in a very short time.

At the farm, after my container was weighed, I joined the other pickers sitting on the flatbed trailer that would take us to the fields. To my delight and surprise our former neighbour was sitting at the end of the row, and I got the seat right next to her! We had a lovely chat, picking in the adjacent rows we had been assigned. The whole outing was deeply satisfying, on so many levels.

The berries were large, ripe and numerous; it made for extremely good picking! As soon as I got the berries home I began to sort and store them in the refrigerator. I also chose the ripest ones to wash and slice for today’s meals. As I write there is a bowl of fresh strawberries at my side, topped with sweetened sour cream. Oh so good!

Later Terra and Lares dropped by on their way through town. Attila had salvaged some very nice wood for them, which I transported down to the little house in the city on my recent drive down. Lares loaded it into the truck, along with the saw Terra had lent. Then I baked a giant oven pancake, which we enjoyed with real maple syrup and fresh strawberries. What a treat, good company, good food!

Attila’s Mom is due to arrive at the country house today. Her husband, Attila’s step-dad recently passed away. She will be driving from upper state Michigan to the country house, and will meet Attila at work. I hope they have a nice visit. I will see them tomorrow night, they will drive to the little house in the city together, after Attila gets home from work. It will be a whirlwind tour for Attila’s Mom, as she has not seen either of our houses. It will be great to see her.

Having a high speed internet connection at the little house in the city is a game changer. Attila and I can keep in touch via Skype, greeting each other every morning, and chatting and saying goodnight to each other every evening. The cost is fixed, so there are no financial concerns to inhibit our interactions. It is very handy to have an account with Skype, it allows me to call cell phones and land lines in Canada and the USA. For example, we have been receiving mail addressed to a previous owner of the little house in the city, for almost three years. As far as I can determine, this person has not lived here for over seven years, perhaps longer. Because I now have free access to a telephone service, I called the company that has been sending the mail and explained to them that the individual they were trying to contact had moved away long ago. They removed him from their mailing list. I did the same with a second piece of mail that was addressed to yet another former owner of the house. Eventually I hope to completely eradicate these incorrectly addressed letters.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C (24C at the country house)
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.1 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: 16.6°C
Dewpoint: 16.0°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: NNE 8 km/h

Quote

“Never go out to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you.”
Calvin Coolidge
1872 – 1933

No See Ums

Attila has been dealing with skin issues, related to his late encounter with Hogweed. He itches, he swells, he turns bright red, the sun is his worst enemy; and he works out of doors in full sunlight, all day long, six days a week. Attila is fighting for comfort every single day.

I sympathize and watch with dismay. It hurts to see someone you love hurt. Quite frankly, it hurts me to see anyone hurting. And when it is this close to home I want to do something about it! But I cannot. Attila has it well in hand, and he is doing everything that is humanly possible to combat the evil effects of Hogweed. My efforts to “help” are not really helping Attila cope with the situation. So I must make an effort to remain as silent as possible, and not make hopeful suggestions aimed at finding relief for him.

The last few days I have been experiencing sudden, localized, and extreme itching. I thought it was probably sympathy pains for Attila. This morning I discovered that my itches are a result of insect bites. I felt the itch on my arm, looked down and saw only my skin. Then I noticed a small movement, and saw the almost microscopic body of a small insect, which then flew away. These little monsters have been biting me for days! They leave no marks, just a bit of an itch, and that doesn’t last very long. They are annoying, merely annoying.

Attila had a lovely Father’s Day! Terra cut the lawn at the little house in the city as a Father’s Day gift. Attila was surprised and delighted when we arrived at the little house late Saturday. He had been thinking that his Saturday evening would be entirely dominated by trying to get the lawn cut before dark; which would have been necessary because rain was predicted for Sunday, and cutting the grass in the rain is time consuming and labour intensive. Arriving after the long drive, to find that this stressful task was already taken care of, was a real thrill and “the best present anyone has ever given me”.

To add icing to the cake, Lares and Terra invited us to a BBQ at their house. So Attila not only had no pending duties when we arrived a the little house, he also was treated to a wonderful meal, a visit to see what Terra and Lares have been up to at their new house, and wonderful company for the evening.

On Sunday we chatted over Skype with Luna and Imp and Elf and Tink, which was great fun. We also chatted with Emmi, Otto Lilt and Skipper, again over Skype.

Attila called his Dad and had a nice chat. Attila’s Dad is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis and needs oxygen. We did not know how serious this problem had become for him. He usually summers in Michigan, but can no longer travel, so he will be staying at this principal residence in Florida now. Because Attila works such long hours and has few vacation days, we cannot manage visits to the USA. I am hoping Attila’s Dad can get setup on Skype so that he can keep in touch with all his children, there are five of them.

After staying up late on Saturday night, rising early Sunday morning, and eating pre-processed foods last Sunday, I am still not feeling all that well. Aging is a privilege, but it is not without its down side. I have been going to bed early and eating well, and every day I feel a little better.

I am working the rest of the week, so I guess it is early to bed for the next three or four nights!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 3.8°C
Dewpoint: 3.5°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: NNE 4 km/h

Quote
“It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.”
Malcolm Forbes
1919 – 1990