February has been a very, very quiet month. Winter arrived in February, which means I only get out for a walk occasionally. Today was one of those days that I got out there to pound the pavement. Our snowstorm on Sunday left quite a bit of snow behind, and the temperature has remained below freezing ever since, so that the snow is still with us. That meant that sections of the road were covered with snow packed to ice. Conditions for a walk were not ideal, and several times I had to inch my way onto the ice at the side of the road, when a vehicle approached at speed, speeding on a quiet residential street. If one of the neighbours decides to petition for a speed bump I will be signing on the dotted line to support it. Although I had to remain alert and cautious, I enjoyed my walk, taking in the crisp breeze and enjoying the odd ray of sunshine that shone down on me through breaks in the cloud.

I have been forcing myself to work on my book. I admit to extreme inertia when it comes to working on my book these days, who knew I would dislike searching my archives for copies of images, and references. I haven’t even reached the stage of inserting the images into the book! Still, a few times a week I manage to get myself seated in front of the new iMac, to work for a few hours. Progress is not steady.

Attila’s Christmas gift to me was a set of books written by Elena Ferrante. I have been enjoying the first book. It took some time to become engaged in the story, but now I am hooked.

Last weekend Attila cooked a full turkey dinner, which will provide us with our daily dinner for a about a week, and after that turkey soup for many days. The dressing for the turkey was made with my sodium-free bread, so that I could eat it without compromising my food choices for the day. On Sunday I baked two loaves of sodium-free bread, and low-sodium squash muffins for Attila’s lunches this week. I had planned on a visit to a farmer’s market in the nearby city on Sunday, but the snow storm made a cozy day at Mist Cottage seem very appealing; maybe next weekend we will venture out.

I am enjoying my mornings here at Mist Cottage. Attila leaves before dawn each day, and I am always awake to give him a hug before he heads out for work. Usually I sit in my rocking chair after Attila departs, taking my morning coffee, watching the dawn slowly arrive through the living room windows. Every morning I am delighted by this scene, it is as if an animated Maxfield Parrish painting slowly comes to life before my eyes. I love where we live now. Mist Cottage, this neighbourhood, this town, they are not perfect, and I do have some small complaints and concerns, but they are only truly small, there is nothing in our context to mar our happiness here, such a contrast with our life at the country house.

Lull brook winter detail Lull Brook Winter, Maxfield Parrish, 1945
Source: http://www.scanopia.com/maxfield-parrish/lull-brook-winter-detail.html

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EST Tuesday 14 February 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -10.0°C
Dew point: -11.8°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: ENE 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 19 km


“I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know.”
Joanna Field

“Marion Milner, sometimes known as Marion Blackett-Milner, was a British author and psychoanalyst. Outside psychotherapeutic circles, she is better known by her pseudonym, Joanna Field, as a pioneer of introspective journaling.” Source: Wikipedia

Winter Arrived!

I have been thinking about Icarus, a person who reached his potential in a manner of speaking, an individual who followed his dream, soared with the eagles, believed in himself, dared to break the rules. I often wonder about the advice given by those who were positioned in life to catch the right updrafts, and were blessed with the right sort of wings; I wonder at their assumption that the ingredients to their rise is due to their own desires and determination. I guess death, who so far as I know none of us escapes, will provide them with their Icarus moment.

On Saturday Attila and I headed out to the Rideau Camp, after a leisurely morning, lingering over our morning coffee. The weather was beautiful, warm, windy, and sunny, it would have seemed a lovely day even if it had arrived in July or August. Within an hour of our arrival we were down to our short sleeved shirts, and even then felt hot when we exerted ourselves. Attila stacked logs, I burned brush, and from time to time we both sat enjoying the roar of wind gusts and the rattle of bare branches. We knew it was the end of the fair weather season, so before we left we stacked our chairs, tipped the picnic table on its side so that the snow would slide off it, and arranged all the logs and branches for future burning where they could easily dry after the snow melts come spring. Reluctantly we left for home as the sun began to disappear behind the clouds, in the late afternoon. We drove under increasingly cloudy skies, through very strong winds. Soon it began to rain, just a few drops on the windshield at first, which turned into a downpour as we approached our driveway.

On Sunday morning winter arrived with a flourish. The temperature hovered around freezing then began to fall, and a light rain fell through the early morning. The trip to the grocery store around noon included walking across a very windy parking lot, hunkered down against the falling temperature. We came out of the grocery store to find vehicles recently arrived from north of town, covered with snow. Shortly after we arrived home the snow began to fall here, at first mixed with rain, but soon turning to small white flakes whipping across the view out the window. For me this is the first snow of the season, because it is accumulating for the first time, rather than melting on contact.

Cooking without using salt is going to take some getting used to. Today’s menu includes a lasagna pasta casserole, made with macaroni, meat sauce, and soft cheeses. After reading the label on the can of spaghetti sauce, it was shocking to discover that the small can of sauce contained 3699 mg of sodium. Clearly the contents could not be used for my low sodium meat sauce. So the content of the can was divided into three lots, two frozen in jars for future use, and one lot added to the meat sauce, bringing the total sodium content of the sauce to 1233 mg of sodium. A can of sodium free canned tomatoes were added as well. The recipe will probably provide us with two meals, which is four hearty servings, so that each serving will contain 308 mg of sodium, which is acceptable for a meal. Finding a canned tomato sauce with a low-sodium content is on my to-do list.

Attila spent Sunday reorganizing the garage. We will be using the garage door as our main entrance through the winter months, and right now one has to navigate a tunnel of junk to get into the house. The front door opens directly into our small living space, and when it is opened in the winter, the heat is sucked out the door within seconds. The garage entrance is sheltered, and the basement is not heated, so that not nearly as much heat is lost when that entrance is used. The other advantage to not using the front door during the winter is that snow need only be removed when it gets deep enough to obstruct opening the door, which is not very often.

Drying laundry on a clothesline during a snowstorm does not work well, as Attila discovered yesterday. The clothes were covered in snow when he brought them back in. We have two very handy folding drying racks, they are set up in the hallway, and his clothes should be dry by morning. He cannot dry them in the dryer, because he works with lubricating oils, which end up penetrating his coveralls to soil his clothing. Those clothes have to be hung up to dry after they are washed.

My Sunday was busy, sorting through the “stuff” in the second bedroom, a room where everything we don’t know what to do with ends up, and there is a lot of that kind of stuff, still. Four boxes of things to give away have been packed and sit in the middle of the bedroom floor. Also, the summer shoes were stowed away in a tote, to be stored in the basement for a few months until the white weather is discontinued. Still, things don’t seem any roomier in here!! More must go.

My MacBook Air has been giving me grief the last few days. It suddenly dies. The battery has been in need of servicing for quite some time, but I haven’t bothered to find an authorized service center to do the job, as it will cost around $200, and I am just fine using the power adapter to keep it connected to an electrical source at all times. There seems to be some sort of issue with it, so I might just break down and take it in for servicing, or then again, I might think about replacing the computer, as it is a 2012 model, no longer on warranty, and will eventually be unable to keep up with operating system updates.

The iMac is a 2007 model, and is now old enough that it cannot accept the new operating system updates, it will hold forever with El Capitan. It seems slower and slower to us all the time, as it struggles to use its limited resources to cope with the increasingly demanding modern digital world. It still succeeds though, as our primary entertainment centre, and work horse when long repetitive tasks need to be performed.

This morning Attila left for work in a dark, snowy world. It was snowing quite hard, and the wind was gusting at 70 km/hr, he was in for quite a journey to work. Having seen the weather report last night, he arose earlier than usual this morning and left for work earlier than usual, to contend with the driving conditions. As he was headed out the door I noticed he was wearing only a light jacket, and quickly fetched his winter parka, he might need it! We tend to watch out for each other in this way.

Today is not a day for walking! The snow plow did go by around 7 a.m., leaving the roads level, but slippery in spots. This town does not plow the sidewalks, so that one must walk on the road unless able to trek through rutted ice and snow. I originally tore the meniscus in my knee trying to walk on the sidewalks here in town, so I walk on the road. My walking season will now be sporadic, and it will be challenging to get enough exercise for the next three to four months. Time to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes, and keep doing housework until the dinger rings.

The senior’s organization here offers recreational programs at a reasonable cost. However, attending a class for an hour a week is a poor substitute for a daily walk. There are walking programs in the high school gym, but again, twice a week isn’t enough to keep fit, and I loath the social aspect of attending these sorts of confined opportunities to move about. Attila suggested a treadmill, but I looked around the entire house, which I can do standing in the living room, it is very small here, and wondered, where would we put it?!?!?

We have been here at Mist Cottage for just over a year now (September 10th was our one year anniversary), and although we have donated almost two truckloads of possessions to our children, the Women’s Shelter, the Men’s Shelter, and a Homeless Shelter, we are still living in a cluttered space. Every day I try to sort through something, to either organize or purge. Settling in here is like peeling an onion, so many layers! In theory, at some point, we will find the innermost layer.

Autumn on the Frontenac Arch, a feature of the Canadian Shield, and more specifically, our Rideau Camp. When we took possession of this property last April, there were two large pumpkins, an empty beer bottle, and a dead potted Chrysanthemum sitting under this pine tree. By the end of April animals had eaten every last bit of the pumpkins, we used the soil from the dead plant as fill in a low spot beside the drive, and left the beer bottle in situ. An empty beer or liquor bottle seems to be a theme when we acquire a piece of land here in Ontario. We found many empty beer bottles on the property at the country house, some of them broken. We found empty liquor bottles at the Ancestral Camp in Parry Sound, intact and dating from the turn of the 20th century. We found empty beer bottles in the dilapidated garden shed here at Mist Cottage, and fittingly, there was the empty beer bottle at the Rideau Camp.
Autumn 2016 Frontenac Arch DSCF0237

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EST Sunday 20 November 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -2.4°C
Dew point: -4.1°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: WNW 28 gust 40 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 1 km

Date: 8:00 AM EST Monday 21 November 2016
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -4.1°C
Dew point: -6.6°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: W 32 gust 44 km/h
Wind Chill: -12
Visibility: 4 km


“You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
[Done! ergo Tech Neck]

Ray Bradbury
1920 – 2012

Electrical Work

It is Thursday already! Attila is beginning to set aside items for his trip back to the country house.

Attila began working on the wiring in the kitchen early yesterday morning, and most of the counter space has been covered with tools and electrical hardware since then. Since he worked on the project again today, the counter has been in the same condition. I will be very glad indeed, to have my kitchen counter back! When he finishes we will have a new light switch, electrical outlet, and a light fixture, all up to code.

Our new neighbours appear to be a young couple with a toddler. We included them on our Christmas card list for the neighbourhood. Every year we have been personally delivering Christmas cards to our neighbours. Already this year we have received a card from our neighbour across the street; her teenage son dropped it off, it was nice to meet him at last.

It snowed yesterday, and last night. About three inches fell, and this was considered a storm here, but at the country house it would have been relatively insignificant. The roads were a little slippery, and Attila did shovel out the driveway, but by late this afternoon the roads were clear, as were the sidewalks and driveways. Most of the snow melted today, and probably the rest will melt tomorrow. I did have fun clearing the snow off Tank though! I can’t reach most of the windshield, so the adjustable-pole snow brush, that Attila gave me as a gift years ago, is just the right tool.

It has been a quiet day here at the little house in the city. The skies are steely grey, everything else is black and white.

Tonight though, the Christmas lights will be twinkling, all up and down the street, and in our living room. The neighbours put up modest displays, which I favour. My favourite so far is the five foot high fir tree just down the street. It is decorated with blue Christmas lights, just the lights, which are a perfect combination with the green boughs dusted with snow.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EST Thursday 11 December 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -2.8°C
Dewpoint: -6.5°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: WNW 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -6


“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.”
Desiderius Erasmus (1466 – 1536)

Here is the thing…

We awoke yesterday morning to a winter wonderland. It snowed heavily all through the day, adding to the five inches of snow received overnight. Everything was white, white, white; and still is.

Snow storm on April 15, at least six inches of snow fell! Ten years ago on this date, there was no snow anywhere on our property, even the deep snowbanks had melted away entirely. We are at least two weeks behind our time this year.
Snowstorm 15 apr 2014

Here is the thing though, we have had our trip to share Christmas with my family. It took almost till Easter to have weather fair enough for a one day travel trip, and so Christmas and Easter celebrations were somewhat combined. Attila calls it Chreaster.

And the snow, well, it is Chreaster after all, one would expect a snow storm, wouldn’t one! Sleigh bells ringing, and bunny rabbits laying eggs, we are ticking all the boxes!

And of course it went down to -13C overnight, so we needed two firings in the masonry heater to keep comfortable. It is so much easier though, than the relentless -20C to -30c temperatures we endured all through December, January, February, and March.

We had a lovely visit with family on Sunday, hosted by my youngest sister. A roast beef dinner with all the trimmings was followed by homemade Chelsea rolls and Cherry Cheesecake; you can’t say better than that. We travelled to the area the night before and stayed overnight with my middle sister, her husband, and my Mom, and had a lovely visit. This autumn I am aiming at celebrating Christmas with the family in November, in hope that we can find at least one Sunday suitable for travel before Christmas.

Out for a walk with my Mom (left) and my sister (right), heading for the beach on Lake Ontario. It was hard to keep up with these two power walkers!
MOMSIS Beach 2014

When the temperature is warm enough that we can leave the house overnight without using the electric heat, and driving is viable with clear roads and good visibility, it signals the end of our long, cold, dark winter!

Blue skies are coming our way! This week should bring temperatures above freezing, even at night.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EDT Wednesday 16 April 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -13.1°C
Dewpoint: -14.0°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: calm


“Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.”
Edith Sitwell
1887 – 1964

“Being in a room with people who have no imagination is like being in a room without oxygen.”
Maggie Turner, who would rather spend time alone than run with the “wrong” crowd of somebodies.

Are You Following Me?

The winter schedule where Attila works has come to an end. This means that he will work longer hours until the snow returns next autumn. This weekend was our last opportunity, until well into April, to visit the little house in the city. Friday we prepared the country house with three full firings in the masonry heater, to carry the heating system through until our return Sunday night. When we left it was about 34 degrees in the living area, and Mist was seeking a cool place to sleep at the periphery of the room, near the exterior walls and windows.

The drive down was uneventful, the roads clear and dry, the sky cloudy, dark descending slowly. How wonderful it was to watch the ice and snow, the roadside mountains of white, shrinking by the mile; winter further loosing its grip with each passing mile.

We arrived to a clear dry driveway, drove right in, parked and unloaded the car. There were no unpleasant surprises in the house, all was as we left it last.

Saturday we spent shopping in the nearby city, restoring our supplies, taking our list to stores that we haven’t been able to visit since last November.

Terra and Lares dropped by for a visit in the afternoon. They had spent the morning starting their seeds indoors, and planned on tackling the dismantling of the ancient and unsalvageable chicken coup at the back of their property.

Anybody remember this guy? Sunday morning Attila and I figured we had a lot in common with him, bringing snow storms with us wherever we go!
Joe Btfsplk Excerpt

Sunday morning was a surprise. We awoke to steely, dark grey skies and significant snow fall and accumulation. Apparently winter crept stealthily after us, down the road and across the many miles, to take us by surprise Sunday morning. The weather system came up from the south, not finding its way to our country house in the north.

Terra and Lares had to alter their plans due to the snow. Instead of demolishing the chicken coop, they tore two layers of carpet from the stairs leading the second storey of their house, and removed most of the glued on underlay as well. It is looking good!

The snow at the little house in the city would soon depart, we knew that even as it fell on Sunday morning. The snow at the country house will linger for many weeks, possibly into the month of May this year. That is my prediction; I am keeping my expectations low, and hoping that my predictions prove to be outrageously pessimistic.

Our drive home began with browns and blacks and grey skies, slowly evolving into white and white and eggshell blue skies. The roads were dry. As we neared home I looked out across a frozen lake, to see a pickup truck with three people standing in the back, towing a huge fishing hut across the ice. The deadline to remove the fishing huts from the ice is March 31, tomorrow. Soon warmer weather will be here!

The temperature inside the country house, when we arrived back, was 17C! The last firing was at 3 p.m. on Friday last; the masonry heater then kept the house comfortably warm from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. Although there is still snow everywhere we look, piled high, stretching endlessly into the distance, even though it seems like nothing has changed, it has, it has changed. We can leave the house and the pipes will not freeze, the electric bills will not soar through the ceiling, and Mist will be a calm cat when we arrive home, happy just to have her bowl of fresh milk and good brushing.

Oh happy day!!!!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 30 March 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 3.4°C
Dewpoint: -5.6°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: W 11 km/h


“Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.”
Lillian Hellman
1905 – 1984