Pie Social

Last weekend we visited the little house in the city. It was a beautiful drive, as light lingered through the evening.

Attila and I worked on the yard, mowing the lawn, and tending the garden. We lost one tomato plant, and one hot pepper plant, but the rest are maintaining their health. They have not grown very much, but they look healthy.

Attila fixed the lock on the front screen door, and I did the usual shopping for supplies. I did manage to get my hair cut, which was long overdue. Ending up at one of those places that offers cheap cuts, I wasn’t very happy with the result. Never mind, the trick is to avoid mirrors for a while, out of sight, out of mind. In a few weeks my hair will look completely different, and within a few months it will be ready for another cut, and perhaps I can return to the salon that did such a nice job.

Terra worked the weekend we were there, but did manage to drop in before one of her night shifts. We had a nice little visit. My children always look so beautiful to me!

The driveway at the camp is done! We dropped by to see it and were pleased. I called this morning to request the final inspection. After that, all that is left to do is pay the bill. We will be robbing Peter to pay Paul for the rest of the summer, in order to assure that the bill will be paid in a timely manner.

The completed driveway at the camp!
The view from the driveway at the camp. Where we live in the country, we are enclosed in the trees. The only view of the sky is straight up. At the camp, the endless sky beckons. I have been looking at this view all of my life.

Last night we attended a local pie social and bake sale. This is our third pie social at the old church/school house near my Granny and Grandpa’s house. It was wonderful to hear again the story of my Granny, and her ingenious way of keeping the ice cream frozen, during pie socials, many decades ago. We bumped into several of my Mom’s cousins, and chatted with neighbours, who will now be our “new” neighbours at the camp. Attila had cherry pie, I could not partake due to my allergy. I did buy two loaves of homemade bread, which will be lovely for Attila’s lunches.

The old building where the social is held is full of memories for me. My Great Aunts not only attended primary school there, but also taught there. My Mom attended school there. My Grandmother attended church there. One of my fondest memories was a Christmas Concert, organized when the building was a school, and my Great Aunt R was the teacher. It was a magical evening, with poetry recitals, and a little choir, and I think a little nativity play. The scraggly tree was decorated with ornaments made by the students. The one room school house was small, and packed with parents, family members, and people from the community. The human warmth that was created there still warms me, almost 60 years after the event.

I think that this, and a few other experiences, were why I became a teacher myself. The reality of the modern urban school was quite a shock, when I entered my own classrooms to teach! My teaching experiences bore little resemblance to the one room schools that inspired my career.

I had a lovely chat with Harriet yesterday evening. She and Hogan had been at their cottage for the weekend, and enjoyed the lovely weather. They had a lot of company over the weekend, by her account, which she enjoys very much. She also cut the grass again at Granny and Grandpa’s house. Attila and I will be out to visit the camp, and Granny and Grandpa’s house over the next few days. I hope to work a bit more on Granny’s garden, and perhaps assess with Attila what can be done with the broken support beam on the store porch.

I have been corresponding with my distant cousin Chadwick over the last few days. He shared a link to a book about my half GG Aunt Nana’s love affair and marriage, The Nana Letters. It was an interesting little book, and really brought home to me the havoc that tuberculosis played in people’s lives; the author compares it to the disease of cancer today.

I had a last minute call in to work today, so in I went for a short shift nearby. Golly, I fall out of shape quickly! I was stiff and sore, and exhausted at the end of three hours of bending, stretching, and lifting!

And so another day draws towards closing, and the last lazy rays of the sun fall softly in the green.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 4 July 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 13.2°C
Dewpoint: 11.6°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: NW 11 km/h


“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll
1832 – 1898

Another Snow Storm

Terra and Lares arrived early Monday morning for a visit. With them came Runner and Wiggler, their estimable dogs. We packed a lot of visiting and good times into their short visit, they were off again this morning, after sharing an early lunch with me, Attila was at work.

Terra worked till midnight Sunday night, and then drove to our house, while Lares and the dogs slept in the car. She needed to go to bed when she got here. I needed to return the heart monitor to the hospital, an hour away. So Terra went to bed, and Lares and I headed for the hospital. The dogs stayed with Terra. It all worked out very well, and Lares and I even had a chance to do a bit of shopping while we were in town.

Wearing a heart monitor is a stress free activity. However, I did develop a heat rash on my chest, which is disappearing slowly, now that all the sticky bits and wires are gone. I believe the results showed no problems, because they did not contact me. I assume that if a serious problem had been detected, they would have called me in immediately. They didn’t!

Just as Terra and Lares left for their long drive home, it began to snow. It snowed here all day long. Terra sent me a message when they arrived home safely, which I was glad of.

We are turning in early tonight, as we have been making rather merry with our visitors for the last two days, and have worn ourselves out!

Last night the temperature dipped below -20C, and tonight it is to drop to -19C. I think that spring is a misnomer for the Vernal Equinox. We are still in full winter weather and regalia here.

However, there are rumours that the temperature may rise above freezing during the day, by the end of the week. I will believe it when I see it, but it is nice to think it could happen.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 24 March 2014
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -23.7°C
Dewpoint: -26.0°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: S 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -28

Date: 9:00 PM EDT Tuesday 25 March 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -8.8°C
Dewpoint: -13.0°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: W 13 gust 30 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
40 percent chance of flurries this evening and after midnight. Clearing before morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 19.


“The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970


Added Note: Fourteen years ago today I began keeping this journal! The very first entry, hand coded html, is here: Maggie’s very first blog entry.

As Attila was leaving for work this morning, and I was waving goodbye from the window, he held up a snow ball. A small amount of snow, or it could have been white ice, had accumulated on the windshield of the car. Snow is predicted here for Thursday, but should melt quickly as the temperature will be above freezing.

At the country house the leaves are not all down yet, so we have been putting off raking until they are all down, so that we only have to do it once. Tricky, because we have to get it raked after the last of the leaves fall, and before the snow sticks. Todays strong wind gusts are stripping the trees naked, so soon.

With the autumn leaves mostly gone, this is as far as the eye can see. It’s a small world, after all.
2013 autumn branches

On Saturday last we visited Luna, Janus, Imp, Elf, Tink, Benny, Bim, and Soot. Luna, our daughter, was getting ready for a Sunday photo shoot, as she is a freelance photographer. Janus had taken the weekend off work to install an air conditioner in their house, with the assistance of Lares, daughter Terra’s husband. Terra was busy building a LEGO four wheeler with Elf when we arrived. Imp, Elf, and Tink, the grandchildren, were in fine form being their wonderful selves. Benny and Bim, Luna’s dogs were enjoying a visit from Dash, Terra and Lare’s dog. The dogs all got on well but for one spat, which was quickly resolved. Soot the cat we saw little of, she doesn’t mix with the dogs when she can help it.

We had intended to drive home Saturday night, but were enjoying ourselves so much that we stayed the night. Janus cooked a super breakfast, of bacon wrapped in croissants, pancakes and maple syrup, decadent and delicious. This was after preparing, the night before, a melt in your mouth roast of beef, and home made french fries, which were served with cheese curds and gravy to create poutine. Attila was in heaven, as he eats a lot, and really enjoys his food; a pleasant byproduct of daily manual labour.

Our weekend was so relaxing that we did not remember to move our car, from the street in front of Luna’s house, into the driveway for the night. Two parking tickets awaited us on the car’s windshield, deposited there just after four in the morning. Our own fault, we were making rather merry. However, one of the tickets had the wrong license plate recorded on it, and so was cancelled on the spot, while speaking to the parking department on the telephone yesterday. The second ticket was paid online yesterday afternoon. Living in the country, one becomes unaccustomed to thinking about things like parking tickets. Urban life is so regulated!

Yesterday was a work day for me; it passed quickly and pleasantly. I had been concerned because my back has been quite stiff in the mornings, and the job is very physically demanding. An aspirin at breakfast and I sailed through the day with ease.

Since I am offered few hours, and so seldom work, there are usually many significant changes in the software used, every single time I go in. It is almost like starting a brand new job, every time, for just three or so hours; and then starting a brand new job the next time I go in, over and over and over again. It can be stressful when I work alone for the day, running the office by myself, because there is no way to find out what has been changed since the last time I worked. I have to “wing it”. Customers do not seem to appreciate the “excitement of discovery” when it comes to processing their purchases; can’t blame them.

It is amazing that a company can stay in business with this level of built in inefficiency. Still, the people at the top end are making a great living, and find that cutting hours for the people at the bottom of the food chain is the best way to keep the profit margin healthy. There are a legion of contract workers at the bottom, with no regular hours, can be fired at any time for no reason, on call six days a week every week of the year, with no benefits, no travel compensation, and no pension. The top dogs in the company call themselves good employers; they are the only ones making those kind of statements, at great expense in the media. Of course, they have regular hours, travel expenses, health benefits, and pensions; but they are a small minority.

When I am making my few purchases in this world, one of the considerations is how the company treats its employees. Does the company use contract workers? Does the company, if Canadian, employ Canadians? Does the company pay a living wage? More and more we are purchasing from small local companies, where this information is available in the community where the employees live and work. It seems hopeless that we can make any difference, but at least our consciences are clear.

Speaking of which, our beef arrived this past week. We purchased a side of beef from one of Terra’s neighbours, a farmer. The beef is grass fed, these are the cows that escaped their pasture to graze on Terra’s yard, and she herded and returned to their pasture. They lived happy lives, in a beautiful pasture, with a roofed shelter for inclement weather. The meat cost far more than that purchased in a grocery store, but we will save money elsewhere.

I think we could be considered “underconsumers”; just made that up, pleased with myself. A lot like underachievers, only generating less garbage. We are the very first, and the leading edge, of a new species: underconsumers!

Terra and Lares are thinking of raising their own chickens. That would be wonderful, and perhaps we can subsidize a few members of the flock as our own. Chickens raised in this way do not taste anything like the chicken meat purchased in a grocery store. Fresh eggs would be most welcome.

The curing of the masonry heater is now complete. We closed the damper for the first time in the five day long process. The heater, with one half-load firing a day, is now keeping the house warm enough to walk around in bare feet.

The half bushel of Macintosh apples are keeping well. Attila keeps a fresh pan of apple crisp on the counter. He uses a lot more sugar and fat in his baking than I do, so he eats most of what he bakes. I have been eating applesauce made from the Macintosh apples, which contains very little sugar, and no fat. And still, I am a little overweight, and Attila is not.

A gust of wind just blew by, and the hydro flickered. Yesterday a gust of wind did the same thing to hydro service. This is tiresome because it shuts down the computer, the microwave and range clocks, and the settings on the telephone; all of which need to be restarted or reset. Also, sometimes the telephone service disappears for a while when it rains. Country life, gotta love it.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:56 AM EDT Tuesday 22 October 2013
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 3.2°C
Dewpoint: 0.4°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SW 11 km/h


“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”
Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.
1900 – 1965