Change in the Weather

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chickadee on a sunny morning!

8:00 am, the sun is shining, a pleasant breeze plays in the trees and the temperature is -2C.

8:30 am, a bank of clouds is approaching from the west, blowing off Georgian Bay. It is slowly advancing east, eating up the blue sky as it comes along. A few snowflakes are drifting down.

9:00 am, the wind is gusting strong, the snow is blowing horizontally across the view, the sky is completely grey. The temperature is holding at -2C.

We are in for a mild winter storm, bringing more snow.

Attila works today, and I will be glad to welcome him home!

I have packed up my sewing gear in anticipation Attila’s Sunday off work, in an attempt to keep the home front as comfortable as possible while Attila has time to spend here. I am at a standstill anyway, until my hemmer foot arrives in the mail, for how I finish the edges with determine how the seams and ties are constructed. Hopefully next week the accessory will arrive and I can continue to work on my new apron. I anticipate that this apron will last for decades, so I want to take my time and do the best job I can with it; it will possibly last me a lifetime!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter has decided to let us know who is boss! The temperature has been gently falling throughout the weekend. But mother nature is taking the temperature down for deep dive this week, and right on into next week. By Friday night the nighttime low will be -30C. The low nighttime temperatures are to continue into next week. And we will have snow, probably a few inches a day, almost every day as well.

Our woodshed was almost empty, and with this cold snap coming on there was nothing for it but to dig out the backup woodpile. Attila began Sunday morning, building a path through the deep snow by laying boards across it, to reach the woodpile. Then he shovelled the huge snow bank off a section of the woodpile. Finally he was ready to move the exposed wood to the woodshed. After removing wood to the level of the snow, he had to kneel and reach down to access the wood below snow level, about three feet, give or take. By supper time he had moved enough wood into the woodshed to carry us through the coming cold snap. The incredible bonus was that the wood is dry! Small blessings!

This is Attila, who, after having removed the snow from a section of the woodpile, is sizing up the rest of the job. He stands on a plank laid out across the deep snow. I make the snow yellow because it cheers me, and reminds me that the sun will soon melt the seemingly endless expanse of white.
This is closer to the reality of black and white that dominates the landscape from the end of November to the beginning of April.

Sunday saw another chore completed as well. While the temperature is still well below freezing, I wanted to empty the freezer to defrost it. I haven’t defrosted the freezer for years! So Attila obligingly emptied the contents of the freezer into garbage bags, which he stashed in the screened in porch for the duration of the project. The contents would remain frozen while out of doors. I went to work defrosting the freezer. I must have taken the equivalent of ten gallons of water out of that freezer! Using baking pans filled with boiling water, strategically placed, I melted all the ice that had accumulated over the years. The last chunk of ice melted off the top wire shelf at 10:00 p.m. I dried the interior of the freezer and Attila went to work putting the frozen food back into it, and turned it on.

I was a bit miffed with myself, because I cut my finger on that very last piece of ice. That slowed me down a bit, as the only bandage I could find kept sliding off when it got wet. Eventually the job got done though, and the bandage was reapplied successfully.

Yesterday the house was very warm, so we decided that one firing in masonry heater would do. The house cooled overnight, and was 17C by the heater this morning. We will now be aiming at three firings a day as the temperature relentlessly drops towards the -30C mark by Friday night! What a winter!

The Great Lakes have frozen over for the most part, with a bit of Lake Ontario still holding out with open water. This probably means a cold spring, and less snow during the rest of the winter due to the absence of the lake effect. Yesterday we got three inches of snow, and it is snowing again this morning. I shudder to think how much snow we would be getting if the lake effect were still in effect.

I am beginning to plan a lone trip to the little house in the city. I do not know when the opportunity to embark will arise, my presence is needed in the country to keep the hearth fires burning during this long cold snap that is blowing in. However, I will be ready to drive off into the south, as soon as conditions are favourable.

I talked to Harriet yesterday and we discussed quilts. Harriet made a quilt years ago, and hand stitched the quilting. My hand stitched quilting experience is confined to a cushion I made as a Christmas present in the seventies. At that time I belonged to a craft group that met weekly, to work on individual projects and chat. We drew names for hand made Christmas gifts, so I made a Dresden Plate hand sewn and quilted cushion as a gift. Actually, last year I bumped into this very same woman for whom I sewed the cushion, at the grocery store, and she told me that the cushion still enjoys pride of place on her living room sofa. Who knew! That year I received two painted greenware Christmas ornaments, a Bible and a bell, items I would never have chosen. They are not very exciting, or creative, but they were carefully hand painted just for me! I hang them on the Christmas tree every year and remember that once someone spent a lot of time and careful effort making these ornaments for my tree. They represent good will. It just reminds me that we never really know how our actions impact other lives, so it is best to do our best to be kind and generous whenever we can.

I am thinking about doing some quilting again. I quilted the cap sleeves for the apron I am making, using the straight stitch on my Elna Lotus. It is a very basic machine, no bells, no whistles, just plain old straight, reverse, and zigzag stitches, plus reliability and longevity. Anyway, I like the result very much, and am thinking about a quilting project after the apron is completed… and of course another apron for Terra, if she likes my apron enough to warrant the time and effort.

The two hours of standing each day is crucial, as well as moving about every thirty minutes, all day long. It is so easy to sit at the computer for four or five hours, lost in a project, or just bopping about the internet. I would love to add a daily walk, but the roads here are not only narrow and icy, there are snowmobiles travelling well above the speed limit charging up and down the road. The snow banks are too compacted and tall for me to get out of their way, so I just will not risk walking along the road. When I lived in downtown Toronto I walked everywhere, miles and miles every day. It was wonderful, as I love to walk. I just do not like walking on ice or in deep snow, or with black flies and/or mosquitoes. Those idyllic images of country life never mention these conditions. During my younger years these were not so important, but those were years when life was busy; I was on my feet and moving most of the time, and far to busy to notice what was going on around me.

We all have pet peeves! I see a lot of blogs when I am researching, there are some great ideas out there. A huge proportion of the blogs with domestic “how to” information are written by young women with children, who identify themselves as “mama” and “wife”, with no reference to their ancestral connections. Women who apparently were offered no skills whatsoever from previous generations, and have been left as virtual orphans on planet earth. My pet peeve is “mamas” without mothers, and without fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, well, without any older generation of mention. If “mama” is such a defining label, for these young women who write blogs all over the internet, then why have they ignored the existence of their very own “mamas”. After all, they are the ones who are defining themselves by their family connections, as opposed to other types of self identification. Seems incredibly short sighted to me, writing the previous generation out of existence means writing yourself out of a future existence. In theory at least, all those “mamas” without mothers, will have children who grow up; and if history repeats itself, in turn, there will be a new generation of mamas without mothers, who will write the current crop of “mamas” out of their lives. Who will you become, savvy “mamas” of today, what kind of future are you actually building? What are you thinking?

I have had a lucky life. I spent time learning from my Grandparents, and from my Mom, and from my Dad. Yes, I have extrapolated from those experiences, but their importance was not lost on me, or to me. If I were to identify myself according to family connections, I would call myself a daughter of farmers, of pioneers, of immigrants, of Scotland’s best, and England’s pride. I would never think of myself as merely a “mama”, because that is just a part of what family means to me. Being a “mama” is not something every woman does, but every woman has a birth mother, and the lucky ones have rich extended families, and family histories.

Having said all of that, I still visit the sites of these self identified “mamas”, because some of them do have good ideas. I never follow their blogs though, because their navel-gazing perspective is as boring and thin as paint drying. I am not sure if this constitutes an unkind thought, but it is how I see things.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:00 AM EST Saturday 22 February 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -2.3°C
Dewpoint: -9.8°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: WSW 30 gust 58 km/h
Wind Chill: -10


“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
Walt Whitman
1819 – 1892

Heading North

We are experiencing another cold week here in the bush. The house cooled overnight, the warmest spot in the house this morning was 16C. That isn’t too bad. Today we will once again perform three firings of the masonry heater, so that tomorrow morning it should be warmer in the house.

I felt lucky though, because I looked at the weather and road conditions this morning, for those south of us in Ontario. They are much worse off, with heavy snowfall yesterday, and blowing snow to make the roads extra treacherous.

But then, at mid-morning the white stuff began to fall in large fluffy flakes; apparently we will receive our fair share, the foul weather is heading north. And the wind picked up, making for a wind chill, and cooling the house. So far, with one firing of the masonry heater, we have raised the warmest spot to 17C. Better, but still not comfy. Slowly I am beginning to look like a snowman, as I don layer after layer of warm clothing.

Still, I know that by the middle of next week it should be warmer, the worst night time lows only -17C. I am looking forward to that.

I am settling into the routines that keep me healthy while living in a few rooms for extended periods of time. Standing to work for at least two hours a day, up and about for five minutes, every thirty minutes. I am feeling better already.

Today, my mind wandered into the world of spring gardens. Where we live in the country it is way too soon to begin concrete preparations. But I can think about it! Would it not be wonderful if some long-time residents in this area, who have grown their own domestic vegetable gardens for decades, had a mentoring program, which I could join and then be guided through the processes necessary to successfully grow food in such an agriculturally hostile environment. I have searched far and wide on the internet and found no such opportunity, or anything close to it.

I am better off piecing together bits of information to suit me, rather than attending meetings and sessions that offer general information. I have tried many times before to attend an information session, and they have always focused on what they want to tell me, and rarely, almost never, gotten around to filling me in on what I want to know.

There are scads of nurseries here, but they focus on ornamental landscaping the fantasy “islands” of the affluent summer population, as perhaps they must to survive economically. The “poor woman’s” food garden isn’t something they take any interest in, as far as I can tell. Too bad, there are a lot of struggling people and families in this area, who have property and would benefit from a program focused on developing ways to grow some of their own food. Know how is mainly what is missing I think.

Of course, at the moment, we own a wonderful piece of property at our little house in the city, which is well suited to a garden. But gardens need tending, and we do not live there, so the idea of a large garden there, under current circumstances, is not practical.

Terra is planning on planting a large garden this spring. I will have to ask her if she has started her planning yet. Thinking about spring gardens is cheery business on an arctic February day!

We are completely out of bread. I should bake bread, really I should. Attila has hinted. And what do I do? Well, yesterday I decided to use heritage food that I found in the cupboard. I think I have substituted contrariness for cabin fever. This is to Attila’s benefit, as well as mine, even if it leaves us breadless for a few days.

There were two partial boxes of All Bran cereal, and some aging marshmallows that were meant for campfires with the Grandbabies. These items need to be moved around constantly in the cupboard, to access the food we are eating on a more regular basis. I searched high and low, and finally found a simple recipe for Bran Marshmallow Treats that uses both of these ingredients. As a bonus, the recipe calls for half a cup of butter, and I had some butter that needed to be consumed before expiry. The squares were really good, crunchy and full of bran. I at a few small pieces over the course of the day yesterday, and had a larger piece after dinner. Attila loves the squares, I am leaving the rest to him.

The down side of eating the kind of sugar provided by marshmallows, as opposed to that found in something like a fresh orange, is that hours later I begin to experience a mood fall. This is totally unacceptable in the winter, because I need every last molecule of good cheer I can muster to survive the isolation and challenges of the winter season in the bush. I discovered as well, that there is a down side to consuming too much bran, and perhaps too much butter. My digestive system protested for hours after I retired for the night, necessitating that I rise and preoccupy myself with projects until I could fall into an exhausted sleep.

I am not sure if this is more severe now than in my younger years. It could be that during my younger years I always had some tangible misery to contend with, and attributed any emotional distress to circumstances. Goodness knows I had an abundance of emotionally distressing challenges to deal with in those days. The sugar/fat combination may have made the whole experience much worse, although I think after life reaches a certain level of misery one fails to perceive “worse”, it is just all bad. Fortunately, these days, I lead a life of manageable challenges, surrounded by people who either love or respect me, and I have become very aware of my body’s responses to stimuli.

All that is a long way of saying, no more Bran Marshmallow Treats for me! Enjoy them Attila!

Lately I have been luxuriating in the long preparation and leisurely consumption of breakfast. I heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in the cast iron frying pan, over a low heat. I slice three or four large button mushrooms, then add them to the heated oil. When the mushrooms are cooked, I add a chopped onion, and cook that until there are caramelized bits of onion in the pan. Then I add a half cup of cooked basmati rice, turn the heat off, put a lid on the pan, and leave it for about ten minutes. After dishing it into a serving bowl, I add 1/2 teaspoon of roasted garlic and peppers, by Club House, stir and enjoy. The preparation times is about 45 minutes, as I cook everything over a very low heat. This makes a wonderful breakfast, and includes no added sugar.

I have been looking for savoury recipes for oatmeal, and have found nothing simple as yet. I prefer to eat complex carbohydrates as the basic food in all my meals, and I love oatmeal. For now, I am eating a bowel of oatmeal [bowl of oatmeal really, but this is a Freudian slip too good to cover up with an edit], cooked with whole flax seed and raisins, with 1% milk and a sprinkling of granulated sugar. It would be nice to have more options with oatmeal though, so I will continue the search for savoury oatmeal recipes.

But I really should be thinking about baking bread!

How I have gone on!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Thursday 6 February 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -24.8°C
Dewpoint: -27.3°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: calm


“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”
George Eliot
1819 – 1880

[The temptation presented by social media has reduced the number of people qualified for this blessing, I am sure.]

A Dark and Stormy Night

I am thinking this morning that those of us who live in areas with all this snow are becoming tunnel people. The snow banks are so high that in many instances a human cannot peer over them. Walkways are tunnels through the snow, roads are tunnels through the snow, driveways are tunnels through the snow. No problem staying on the straight and narrow path here!

-31C this morning, 16C in the warmest part of the house, 12C by the insulated exterior wall, and a LOT colder by the windows, we have a lot of windows! Anyway, I look like the abominable snowman, layers and layers! I am one hot looking woman! We should have it warmed up by tonight. And it is snowing, still.

My birthday celebration is well under way. Whole wheat pancakes topped with fresh sliced USA strawberries, and a big glass of cold 1% milk for breakfast, courtesy of Attila. For dinner he will prepare a roast turkey dinner. He has already baked a chocolate cake, and made sure that there was ice cream in the freezer to go with it. The house smells wonderful! The oven will be on all day, hurray for warmth and food!

It was a dark and stormy night. It was snowing, and occasionally ice pellets fell with the snow. Roads were slippery. There was a stiff wind, so that the cold was penetrating (24F, -4C). It was warm though, in the little room where I was born, out of the wind, safe from the snow and ice pellets. My memory of the event is nebulous, consisting of physical awareness, concerned voices, and pain. The cord was wrapped round my neck. The birth was a difficult one, I was a big baby, almost eleven pounds, and my mother is a petit woman. My life was saved by being pulled into this life, not so gently, by my right arm. It was never the same; I have grown to love it and cherish it for the blessings it has brought into my life. I have never accepted any perception of me that was defined by my right arm. It has been my best opportunity in life, allowing me to understand the worth of tolerance, kindness, compassion, dignity, perseverance. I have always been grateful to be alive, perhaps because my arrival was so tenuous.

The warmth of birthday wishes that have come my way are wonderful indeed; I almost [almost] don’t need the roaring fire for warmth.

This year, I feel ecstatic to be as old as I am, and healthy. It doesn’t get any better!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Sunday 26 January 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -31.0°C
Dewpoint: -34.4°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: calm


“Integrity has no need of rules.”
Albert Camus

Small Pleasures

Mist the Kitty is getting old. She is deaf, possibly blind in one eye, and limps a bit when she first begins to move around after her naps. She still has frequent “crazy cat” sessions, where she charges around the house and up and down the stairs, chasing phantom mice and bats.

She loves our company, sitting between us of an evening, just chillin’. She has become accustomed to having me around the house, since I haven’t been working at all since November. So accustomed is she to my company, that when I returned from my trip to town to renew my health card, she was waiting by the door. I received a scathing verbal scolding, for about five minutes after my return. After assuring herself that I understood my transgression, she curled up on the couch and went to sleep. Humans are hard work.

Her pleasures are few. Sleeping and eating occupy most of her time. She enjoys her milk every morning. She is an avid drinker of water. I must take care not to set my mug of drinking water on a low table, or on the floor. She has a special radar for such an occasion, within minutes she will have snuck up on my mug, and I will suddenly hear her lapping up my water, head in the mug. She loves being brushed, and this has become Attila’s ritual with her, several times a day she will jump into his lap for a good brushing. She loves the winter firings in the masonry heater, waiting in front of the heater every morning, staring at Attila as she sits erect and regal, emanating expectation. She loves to sit at the window and watch the birds in the trees, which is not possible in the winter when the blinds are closed against the cold. She loves it when I whistle softly and blow gently by her ears; I think she can hear a little of the high pitched sound, and likes the head to head attention. Mist is a very happy cat!

A lot of posts on Facebook are expressed through a graphic with a quote printed onto it. I am a big fan of quotes, I include one with every journal entry; sometimes tied into my prose, other times as a “what do you make of it” exercise. But I am growing tired, and almost offended, by the Graphic/Quote avalanche on Facebook. Quotes are, of themselves, without context. They are usually very general and can be adopted by many philosophical positions. The way they are bandied about on Facebook renders them almost meaningless as a form of cogent communication. I have come to think of Graphic/Quote offerings as representing a superficial agreement, like politeness, where there is no depth of understanding, no meeting of minds; only an agreed upon facade. I regard the Graphic/Quote as a form of intellectual herding. Facebook seems a classic case of “the medium is the message” [Marshall McLuhan].

The posts on Facebook that entail the author’s own thoughts, feelings, descriptions, and links to information that interest them, are a treat. Those friends are on my close friends list, usually the only posts I read these days. I now ignore “friends” who ignore me, nothing personal, just following the do unto others adage. You can assume you are on my reading list, if your reading this.

Snowing still, since last night. Shovel, shovel, toil and trouble.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:36 AM EST Friday 17 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
(HA! I see 4 inches have fallen since we went to bed last night!)
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: -3.3°C
Dewpoint: -4.1°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SE 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -9


“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
Will Durant
1885 – 1981

Jingle Bells for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers!

We made a lighting trip to visit with my mother yesterday, it was her birthday after all. We left after Attila got home from work, drove three hours, had a wonderful time and a fantastic meal at my sister’s home, with Mom and nieces et al and nephew in attendance.

My Mom owns property which she and one of my brothers are clearing. One of Mom’s birthday presents was, as you can see below, a tool to make clearing land easier. Mom is 82, and is always, always busy with a project!

Mom’s Machete

We drove back last night, arriving sometime after midnight. It began to spit snow and blow as we travelled north. The temperature went down to around 2C, but that doesn’t take into account the wind chill factor. We spent a cold night under our blankets and were comfortable enough.

This morning it has been even windier, and the snow is blowing hard across the sky. We should be singing Jingle Bells for Mother’s Day. It is still below 5C, so Attila has started a fire in the little cast iron stove in the basement, to try and warm things up. Mist is down there now, in front of the blaze, resting comfortably. Of course, we heard about our lack of appropriate attention to providing heat; she wore herself right out.

I am keeping this from Mist, it might inspire further rebellion!

Terra called to wish me Happy Mother’s Day, before she headed for some much needed sleep. She is working nights on weekends and must sleep during the day.

Harriet and Hogan dropped by for a cup of tea and a chat. They were on their way home from their cottage, taking the scenic route. It was lovely! Their cottage was not damaged by the floods, but they did have a few repair and maintenance projects to tackle.

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Mist
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 5.0°C
Dewpoint: 4.6°C
Humidity: 97%
Wind: WNW 15 km/h


“God will not look you over for medals, diplomas, or degrees – but for scars.”
Elbert Hubbard
1856 – 1915


Elbert Hubbard

“Elbert Green Hubbard (June 19, 1856 – May 7, 1915) was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Raised in Hudson, Illinois, he met early success as a traveling salesman with the Larkin soap company. Today Hubbard is mostly known as the founder of the Roycroft artisan community in East Aurora, New York, an influential exponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Among his many publications were the nine-volume work Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great and the short story A Message to Garcia. He and his second wife, Alice Moore Hubbard, died aboard the RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915…
…Hubbard was born in Bloomington, Illinois, to Silas Hubbard and Juliana Frances Read on June 19, 1856. In the fall of 1855, his parents had relocated to Bloomington from Buffalo, New York, where his father had a medical practice…
Ironically, a little more than three years after the sinking of the Titanic, the Hubbards had boarded the RMS Lusitania in New York City. On May 7, 1915, while at sea 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, it was torpedoed and sunk by the German u-boat U-20.

In a letter to Elbert Hubbard II dated 12 March 1916, Ernest C. Cowper, a survivor of this event, wrote:

I cannot say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came on to the boat-deck.
Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms—the fashion in which they always walked the deck—and stood apparently wondering what to do. I passed him with a baby which I was taking to a lifeboat when he said, ‘Well, Jack, they have got us. They are a damn sight worse than I ever thought they were.’

They did not move very far away from where they originally stood. As I moved to the other side of the ship, in preparation for a jump when the right moment came, I called to him, ‘What are you going to do?’ and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, ‘There does not seem to be anything to do.’

The expression seemed to produce action on the part of your father, for then he did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him.

It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water. ”


“Roycroft was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the USA. Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895 in the village of East Aurora, Erie County, New York, near Buffalo. Participants were known as Roycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century.”