Three Days

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have just arrived at the little house in the city. Attila and I pulled out of the country house driveway at the same time. At the highway junction he turned left, I turned right, and we flashed our headlights at each other. It was still dark enough to see each other’s headlights in our rearview mirrors.

My trip was an easy one, with lots of stops. I had to come to a complete stop twice on the Highway, for a school bus. I had to stop three times for construction. I stopped once for fuel. I stopped once to buy a snack because I was feeling a bit tired and needed a pick-me-up. And I stopped once at an apple store to buy a quarter bushel of Spy apples.

Just as I left the highway, and was driving through the countryside right outside of town, I passed a field with a huge tanker moving across it. The tanker was spraying liquid manure, and the smell hit me like a fist! This stuff was not composted manure, as we used on our farm, which has very little odour. No sir, the liquid coming out of that tank and spraying around was pure, fresh, liquified manure. Miles down the road, when I arrived home and stepped out of the car, the smell was less strong, but definitely being carried into town on the autumn breeze.

Upon arrival at the little house in the city, I unlocked the door and immediately called Attila to let him know I had arrived safely. Then I turned on the water supply, and checked to see if we had caught any mice in the mouse traps set as we left over a week ago. One was set in the basement, and it was still empty. Another was set in the tool cupboard, and it was not empty. The dead mouse was just beginning smell bad. I got that job over with as quickly as possible, carrying the mouse trap to the compost pile, digging a hole, and burying the mouse in the hole. I will spray the trap with bleach, reset it and place it back in the tool cupboard.

It took about an hour to carry all the luggage and items in from the car. Then I took a long rest, with a tall glass of water, and a handy pen and paper for the inevitable supply list.

The new kitchen curtains; enjoying the open windows!
Autumnkitchencurtain

Then it was time to pick up a few supplies; a quick trip to the local grocery store was in order. When I got back Terra was waiting form me, she stopped by on her way home from work. We had a nice chat, short and nice. She was going to go home to sleep, because she had to be back at work within eight hours, to work the night shift.

The rest of the day disappeared into cleaning and cooking activities, and ended with a brief conversation with Attila, via Skype.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I do not know how I turned off my cell phone, but I did. The result was that I slept in, until 7:14 a.m., a truly rare event in my life, and as a consequence, was too late to chat with Attila before he left for work. I felt very well rested. I slept deeply my first night here at the little house.

We receive free delivered newspapers here at the little house in the city, and they are stuffed full of flyers. I noticed that turkeys were on sale, and decided to purchase a few for the freezer. We generally eat between four and six turkeys every winter. We roast the turkey, prepare all the trimmings, mashed potatoes, vegetables, stuffing, etc. Then we eat leftovers for many days, and then Attila makes his turkey soup with whatever is left of the turkey.

So far, during this visit to the little house in the city, time seems to be getting away from me! It is passing so quickly, I hardly notice, and wonder where the day went.

On the agenda for the day was a large pot of chili, for quick meals while I am here alone. I tend to forget about preparing a meal until I feel hungry. Once I am hungry I do not want to wait until a full meal is prepared. My solution, make a big pot of chili, and a large quantity of fried mushrooms with rice. That provides me with two healthy, instant meals. I used two jars of my pressure canned Chili Beans to make my pot of chili.

Thankfully, the mouse traps were empty this morning!

The dehumidifier in the basement was full this morning. It has been emptied, and is ready to be turned on again when the electricity prices go down tonight.

During the afternoon, while the chili was being assembled, a flock of wild geese could be heard flying overhead, heading south.

I picked about four quarts of tomatoes from the garden. The squirrels have been busy raiding, and some very nice tomatoes were lying on the ground half eaten. In order to beat the squirrels to the food, I harvested the largest green tomatoes, and will ripen them on the windowsills.

Green tomatoes and hot peppers; beating the squirrels to harvest.
Autumnhotpepper

The last of the cucumbers were peeled and chopped today. I boiled them in a pot, let them cool, put them through the blender, and froze them to use as an ingredient in a future Stone Soup.

I am snacking on Coronation Grapes, I love them. They taste like Concord Grapes, but are seedless, and grown in Niagara. I bought them at NoFrills, a grocery chain, for anyone in Ontario who might be interested in finding them. I also chopped one of the Spy apples into my oatmeal this morning, and added a bit of cinnamon, yum.

When I talked to Attila at 9:00 p.m. last night, he had only been home for about an hour and half, he had worked until 7:30 p.m., no breaks, no lunch break. He came home and chopped wood until 8:30 in the evening. When I talked to him he was preparing his evening meal. They are very busy where he works, and they appreciate what he does for them.

It was a beautiful sunny day today. It was a stinker though, because somewhere near the periphery of the city, fields were being sprayed with liquified manure again. The smell was eye watering at times. This is one of the disadvantages of having farmland nearby. When city folk move to the country they are often horrified by the smells. We do not live in a Fisher Price or Lego world, where everything is made of plastic, and can be sterilized before use. No, real life includes smells, all kinds of them, including manure, and the flowers that grow because of it.

Today I didn’t accomplish any of the bigger projects on my list. I puttered about, and did a lot of little things that needed doing. Lots of time left during this visit for the big projects, to pressure can beans, mow the lawn, and sew the dining room curtains. I may, or may not, get around to all of these projects, as none of them are urgent.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I have completed the database work for the first draft of my next genealogy book. It was a tough slog! I am sure I will find errors as I go forward, but that is to be expected.

Now I am looking for photos to include, which is tricky. Old photos are no longer under copyright, but I have few of those, as the family history I am writing starts in the late 1700s, and will end in the early 1900s. My biggest challenge is defining parameters, the size and resolution of the photos and charts is where I am starting, and there is a sea of too-much-information out there!

I am beginning to narrow it down though, and am looking for online publishers who provide a lot of step-by-step written guidance on how to prepare for publication. I could publish manually, as I am a registered Publisher in Canada, but I probably will not go that route, as I have to distribute the books myself. The last book I published sold many more copies than I expected, which meant trip after trip back to the printers. Choosing an online publisher should mean that I don’t have to do the legwork myself.

This morning I awoke at 3:30 a.m., and could not get back to sleep. I was worried that I would sleep in, and miss my chat with Attila before he left for work. It was an early start to the day!

After chatting with Attila, which was challenging because Skype was suffering from feedback, I made a cup of coffee and reviewed my plans for the day. There are so many projects to choose from.

But first, time to have a little breakfast. I peeled six Spy apples, sliced them into a saucepan, added a little water, a little cranberry juice, a little sugar, and a generous teaspoon of cinnamon. Then I prepared the oatmeal crust for the apple crisp. The recipe called for baking soda, but I am trying to limit my salt intake to a healthy daily limit, and so used baking power instead. While the apple crisp was baking I hopped into the shower while the water was still hot. I had turned on the hot water heater after 7:00 p.m., and turned it off in the morning before 7:00 a.m., to take advantage of the almost half price electricity rates. Taking a shower takes a bit of planning.

Because the weather was predicted to be fair, it seemed a good opportunity to tackle mowing the lawn, so that was the project I chose for the day. I checked the back yard, and all of the leaves had come down from the big tree, covering the lawn in a thick blanket of leaves. Time to put the new mulching lawn mower to the test!

The lawn after mowing; the thick blanket of leaves is no more!
Autumnmulch

It took me about two hours to complete the task, I didn’t hurry, and only stopped doing a second pass because I ran out of gas. It was just as well that I stopped, I think I had reached my physical limit. The lawn looks pretty good I think, and the mulching was a great success. I have decided I like mulching the leaves rather than raking them up. The area mowed was about one quarter of our lawn, we have a double lot, and we really know it, when it comes time to mow it.

After taking a break, I wandered into the garden with a big plate and picked a dozen or so hot peppers, and a few dozen tomatoes showing just a hint of red. I am determined to beat the squirrels to the harvest!

And happily, they have stopped spraying liquid manure, the air today was fresh and fragrant!

I wasn’t the only one harvesting and enjoying the last of the warm weather today!
Autumnbee

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 30 September 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 13 km
Temperature: 17.4°C
Dewpoint: 12.6°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: NE 19 km/h

17°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Wednesday 1 October 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 13 km
Temperature: 17.1°C
Dewpoint: 13.3°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: N 21 km/h

19°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 2 October 2014
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 18.9°C
Dewpoint: 13.6°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: SSE 8 km/h

Quote

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Apple Season

applepeelercorerslicer

This was my assembly line to peel, core and slice my apples for applesauce. The peeler/corer/slicer on the bottom right does all those things. The peeled, cored and sliced apple goes from the peeler to the cutting board where I quarter the rings and sweep them into the waiting crockpot on the left. The real challenge here was that the only table appropriate for mounting the peeler was the coffee table, which is only one foot high. This meant I had to sit on the floor to process my apples. After a few hours I became a bit stiff, but that is preferable to peeling, coring and slicing all those apples by hand.
To the right of the peeler is the bowl where I kept the peelings and cores. I put the peelings only in a large pot, added water, boiled them down till the attached flesh of the apples was pulp and put the cooked mixture through a sieve; which yielded about one litre of applesauce.

Attila and I visited our little house in the city over the last weekend. Attila built a planter for the front corner of the house. It is decorative, and will look wonderful with blooming flowers next spring/summer/autumn. But the real reason it has been constructed is to provide insulation for the foundation at the corner of the house. The contractor who put in our foundation drainage tiles expressed concern that the corner might now be vulnerable to freezing, which would heave the foundation. The planter will prevent that from happening.

On our travels we stopped at an apple store, and bought apples grown in southern Ontario. We cannot buy local apples, as they are not grown anywhere near our country house. My favourite apple is the Northern Spy. We bought a bushel of seconds at a reasonable price, and felt lucky to do so as the crop is meagre this year due to early warm weather and blossoms, followed by a hard killing frost. I’ve been peeling, coring, slicing and cooking. We now have a supply of apple sauce and an apple/cranberry crisp sitting on the counter cooling. The cranberries were left over from our turkey dinner a few weeks ago. I couldn’t resist the crisp and have had a sample for my morning snack, delicious.

I have been working diligently on my genealogy book. My focus is on my direct line down from my paternal GGG Grandfather Andrew who arrived in Canada in 1820 from Lanark, Scotland. One branch of the family moved to the USA, Minnesota and Oregon, and I’ve been using my ancestry.com account to good purpose locating these relations. It is slow going, as the references are all being entered as I go along.

I have relatives who are linking the whole thing up through ancestry.com family trees, but that doesn’t suit me for several reasons. First and foremost, ancestry.com sells information. This is my family’s information and I don’t intend that the family should pay a large corporation for information about their own personal history. Then there is the issue of copyright, and I don’t believe the work of thousands of researchers should be owned by and eventually sold by a large foreign corporation. Also, some of the research I view in ancestry family trees is inaccurate, much of it is not referenced and rather than enter into any kind of fruitless debate over discrpancies, I have opted to rely on my own research skills and record what I believe to be sound and verifiable information, well referenced from primary sources. And so I plod happily along. It might be a tortoise-and-the-hare situation, and it might not.

I’ve been downloading books for my Kobo from the library. I am finding it harder and harder to find anything I want to read. The last few books were disappointing. For instance, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott, published in 1884 could not win my devotion. I found the concept interesting and experienced a few deep belly laughs at the satirical implications, but after reading through most of the book I simply stopped. There was no storyline to speak of in the first three quarters of the book, no personalities; there was only a detailed description of a conceptually alternate reality and its political issues. Fascinating ideas, but not fleshed out in a very interesting way. I didn’t even enjoy the Flatland movie, as it is visually presented as one would see it from the third dimension, which was disappointing, as I had hoped to see how they would visually handle the two dimensional world so richly described. Frankly, I’d rather read a mathematics text book. I like mathematics text books, when I want a characterless bit of logic.

In a previous entry I expressed a desire for unsulphured, desiccated coconut, and provided a link to a source in California, Swanson Vitamins. To my great surprise a fellow from the company contacted me and offered a free sample. YES!!! I received it last week and I have to admit it is making my mouth water. I am going to make myself a special desert for Christmas with this coconut, the first I will have tasted in decades!

Since I’ve had a bit more time at home, cleaning and organizing the living area has been the main focus. When that is finally caught up, which will be weeks from now, the focus will shift to the clothes closets. Some of the clothes have been in my closet since before 1987, some of these still fit! Purging would be a good idea.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 11.1°C
Dewpoint: 4.0°C
Humidity: 62 %
Wind: SSE 17 km/h

Quote 

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
Theodore Roosevelt
1858 – 1919

Chimney Sweep, among other things…

Attila and I had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. Attila worked Saturday, as usual. After he arrived home we packed a few belongings into the car and headed for the little house in the city. The drive was wonderful! The leaves on the Canadian Shield are at their peak of colour, and it was quite a show, what with white clouds floating in the blue sky above and brilliant greens, oranges, yellows and reds below. We enjoyed the trip immensely.

We made a few stops along the way. One at a frozen food discount store, where we purchased some frozen Jamaican patties as a treat (we had them for dinner Saturday night and they were dreadful!). We also made a quick stop at an apple store along the way. The apples were local and fresh, also a reasonable price. We purchased a half bushel of Spy (my favorite for eating and cooking) and of Mutsu (Attila’s choice), as well as locally grown garlic. All the garlic available in our grocery stores here is from China, we prefer to buy locally grown garlic but it is very difficult to find. I was thrilled to find a stainless steel wide mouthed funnel for canning. I have been looking for more than a decade for one of these funnels. I have several plastic wide mouthed funnels, but will not use them for hot food, as I don’t trust plastic at all in terms of chemical exposure. Now that I have the stainless steel funnel I will discard the plastic funnels. In my dreams I am buying a pressure canner, metal on metal seal. I checked the price on them, and right now getting this particular pressure canner is only a dream.

Sunday morning I awoke at 2:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. I waited until 5:30 to awake Attila. I had a surprise for him, giant oven pancake and freshly homemade applesauce, made from the Spy apples. We had a leisurely breakfast, a cozy chat over coffee and then set about getting ready to perform the tasks we had allocated for ourselves that day.

Attila replaced the bathroom “window” with a new, energy efficient window.

For some reason a previous renovator had installed a storm window as an inside window, opening from the inside, and a second storm window on the outside, opening from the inside. Neither of these windows were particularly well sealed, and they certainly were not energy efficient. To boot, they were coated with mildew, inside and out. Attila stripped the trim and removed the inner storm window during our wait for 9 a.m., when we could reasonably begin using power tools that could be heard in the outdoors.

The inside of the bathroom window is finished, but for the trim.

The outside of the new bathroom window, thinking about putting additional trim around it, haven’t decided yet.

I was waiting for the stores to open. Attila had forgotten to bring Vycor for the window job, so I needed to search for and purchase either Vycor or a suitable substitution. I also had a few things on our grocery list to pick up, as Terra and Lares were coming for brunch on Monday morning. While waiting for the rest of the world to wake up and get going, I tidied the kitchen and did some organizing of materials.

By Sunday night Attila had the new window in and ready for interior trim. I had the construction debris under control.

Monday morning we had a lovely brunch with Terra and Lares, consisting of sausages, French Toast, pancakes, real maple syrup and freshly homemade applesauce. We had a lovely visit, although Terra was increasingly tired, since she had worked the night shift and had not yet had any sleep. After Terra and Lares headed home, Attila and I packed up our things and headed home ourselves. This trip we left the furnace running, at 7C, just in case it gets really cold before we can get back for another visit. It was nice to have the new energy efficient window installed in the bathroom before heating season began.

The country house was 12C when we got home. Mist was not impressed, and did not mind letting us know how she felt. Attila built a fire downstair immediately, which mollified Mist somewhat.

This morning I’ve been tending a downstairs fire started by Attila before he left for work this morning. The temperature upstairs is now 22C and I am quite comfortable in my old t-shirt, work pants and bare feet. Mist is luxuriously stretched out near the wood stove downstairs, dreaming cat dreams in her now perfect world.

I’ve had a few things I wanted to accomplish this morning. One was to finish filling the last of the 4 litre jars that I had purchased last week, for food storage. The last two jars received their contents of chick peas and dried basil respectively. Now all of the dozen jars are filled, with flours and beans and other dried goods. Now I have sufficient supplies in the kitchen to cook properly, without having to rummage through bags in the cupboard. Also, these jars are mouse proof, and insect proof and safe from a chemical/hormone leaching point of view. Perfect for us.

Heating season is upon us and it is time to cure the masonry heater. BUT it hadn’t been cleaned after the last heating season. We brought home our shop vac to accomplish the task of cleaning the wood heater. I removed several small garbage bags of ash by hand, with a small scoop. Dirty, dirty work is chimney cleaning. I was black to the shoulder on one arm from reaching in to dislodge small bits of creosote and oodles of grey ash from the deep interior of the heater. The shop vac helped, but could not reach the nooks and crannies the way I could with my scoop. It took a few hours, but the job is done! Tomorrow I begin to cure the masonry heater for the heating season.

Cleaning the masonry heater chimney; a dirty, dirty, dirty job!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

11 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 11.0°C
Dewpoint: 4.7°C
Humidity: 65 %
Wind: S 28 gust 42 km/h

Quote

“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”
Thomas Jefferson
1743 – 1826