A Sunday Off

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yesterday Attila had his weekly day off. The weather was perfect, almost, it was just a little too warm in the sun, just a little too humid in the shade. Still, it was summery, it was breezy, it was lovely.

We decided to get out of the house and wander. We packed a lunch, and loaded a few things into the car, and set out.

I had to overcome stasis to enjoy the outing, it is work. After having been at home, not leaving the property, for quite some time, I stick to it. I begin to feel distressed at the mere thought of leaving the property. This is the first stage of cabin fever, at least as I experience it. I worked hard at it, walked the high wire of anxiety, hopped into the car, and we drove away.

Our first destination was my Granny and Grandpa’s house.

Here we donned our sun hats, grabbed two plastic containers, and set out down the nearby trail to pick wild raspberries. I have been picking wild raspberries along that trail all of my life. I loved picking wild berries as a child. I suspect it was because I was usually the only child keen to accompany an adult on these afternoon ventures. To spend time with an adult, one on one, was a truly rare event in my childhood, so that any opportunity for that level of companionship was cherished.

Attila and I spent a few lovely hours sauntering down the trail, stopping each time we encountered lush berries hanging from the canes. Attila was more adept at wandering off the trail into the patches, in his high rubber boots. I kept more to the trail, now mindful of the arthritic knee. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, picked about a quart of wild raspberries, and had a nice long walk to boot.

Later, as we sat on the veranda at Granny and Grandpa’s house, enjoyed a well earned cold soda, a neighbour came to call. He keeps an eye on the place, and now recognizes us, we had a lovely chat. All was well with the house. My sister and her husband bring over their riding lawn mower and keep the grasses cut short, and recently repaired a snow-damaged beam on the veranda. My Mom, who owns the building, has been cleaning and tidying indoors.

We walked down to our camp, where we set up our chairs and enjoyed our picnic lunch. There was a divine breeze that flows through the camp, cool air being drawn up through the forest floor towards the high and bare rock outcrop at the back of the property. What bliss, just to sit there, take in the view, feel the breezes. I never tire of the view, looking out over the fields where my Great Grandfather farmed, and my Grandfather tended sheep.

Attila spent some time suckering the stumps left from clearing the lot last summer, and some time sleeping in his chair. I occasionally wandered down the road to check on Granny and Grandpa’s house, as twice strangers approached it. Two people on ATV’s were entering the driveway, and saw me watching them, so they took a few pictures and drove away. Another stranger was hiking the trail, a lone male, and decided to have a look. We reached the driveway at the same time, and we chatted briefly, he did not enter the property. He asked questions that indicated to me that his interest was not of an historical nature, I was not forthcoming, and he eventually carried on down the trail.

We headed home before the summer people began to head home, avoiding the bad traffic.

After picking wild berries with my Grandmother and Aunts, we would return to the house and bake with them. This was always such a treat. My grandmother almost always baked pies with the fruit. In my late teens, I began baking fresh fruit puddings, which are really just fruit bottom cakes. Although I loved pies, I found making a good crust just too challenging, so I settled for puddings. I have been using the same recipe, from my Granny’s Five Rose’s cookbook, for decades.

Once home, Attila set up the Nesco in the screened in porch, and I made myself busy cleaning the wild raspberries we had picked. Soon the pudding batter was ready, as was the Nesco, so into the oven the pudding went. Oh how I love these puddings! The lovely tartness of the berries and the sweet, moist cake! This is food that instantly transports me to happy times gone by.

After dinner Attila headed out to the woodshed. He is now working several hours a day splitting wood for the winter heating season. How lucky new owners would be, to buy a house, with the heating for the first winter ready and paid for!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Well! I began a journal entry on Sunday, and here it is Wednesday and I am just getting back to it.

What is the big delay? Two house showings, they eat time. I spend the time before the showings tidying and tweaking, then leave while the realtor and their people go through, then come back and have a look at what they looked at. They always leave clues as to what they find important, a window opened and left open, a blind pulled up, magazines rearranged (that one is creepy, the magazines are no longer kept where they can be viewed), a closet door left open, that sort of thing. The whole process is extremely intrusive and most unpleasant to us. But it is the only way that the people who will love this house are going to find it. The house is much more patient in waiting for them than I am.

We are experiencing a heat wave, it has been very hot during the day since Sunday. I am a person who suffers in the heat. I do not like heat waves. With people coming through the house, it is opened up during the heat of the day, which does not happen otherwise. My system of closed blinds and closing windows has failed during this heat wave due to the house showings. It is well past 10 p.m. before the temperature in the house finally begins to cool off enough to sleep. It could be worse, at least it is cooling down at night.

I received a rare and brief email message from Luna, they are having a great time in Ireland, which is wonderful for them. I don’t have their address there, or a telephone number, just the email address, so it was good to hear they are all fine.

Terra is working full time for the summer months, so we haven’t heard from her at all. They are busy with their friends, and seemed happy the last time she sent a text message, which was Canada Day.

My health continues to improve. The hematoma is still large and lumpy, but it only hurts if I put significant pressure on it, which means that at last I can sit without pain. The tailbone is not improving so far, but that is a pain I have been living with for decades, so I don’t really notice it all that much. My knee is troubling me a bit more, as I have been unable to do my knee exercises due to the injured tailbone and the hematoma. It will be good to get back into doing those exercises, and going for daily walks again. The walks will have to wait until I am back at the little house in the city.

Both Attila and I have spent July accompanied by summer colds. Attila’s seems to have cleared this week, but mine is lingering on.

None of these things are slowing us down too much, we are keeping up with the house, and even managing some unplanned recreational time. The opportunity to share a picnic lunch with Attila came on Monday, when the house was to be shown during his lunch break. I packed a picnic, met him with cold sodas, and lots of food, at a park near his workplace. Even though it was hot, we enjoyed ourselves, sitting in the shade, just relaxing. Attila in particular found it relaxing because there were no “jobs” cluttering up his line of vision, as they do at home.

One of the “jobs” Attila has been working on almost every day, is the firewood, for heating the house this winter. He is now very close to having the woodshed filled, and it is a comfort to know that we will be able to heat the house through the winter if it’s new owner’s fail to find it this year.

I will say that I am very happy to be able to see Attila each and every day, it is a real treat.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C (High predicted to be 30C)
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 27 July 2015
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 20.8°C
Dewpoint: 17.0°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: W 5 km/h
Humidex: 26

24°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Wednesday 29 July 2015
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 24.0°C
Dewpoint: 18.5°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: SSE 4 km/h
Humidex: 30

Quote

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”
Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662)

The Country House

On Monday morning I decided I wanted to go back to the country house. So I donned my work clothes and headed outside to cut the grass in the front lawn, so that it just might remain presentable for a few weeks until we had a chance to come back to the little house to cut it again. I spent the day packing, and setting the little house up to be left for long periods of time.

On Tuesday morning I arose at 4:30 a.m., had my coffee, got dressed, ate my breakfast, downed a bunch of painkillers, packed the car, closed up the little house, and drove north. The five hour drive wasn’t too bad, my bruises and fractured tailbone went numb after a while. The only challenging times were when I stopped at a rest stop to use the ladies room, getting back into a sitting position in the car was extremely uncomfortable, until the bruises and tailbone went numb again.

I arrived home around 10 a.m. after an uneventful drive, the best kind ever. I texted Attila to let him know I was home, unpacked my gear, and made myself at home. Attila came home for lunch and it was lovely!

Today is Canada Day. Attila and I did a few chores around the house, and cleaned in case a showing was requested during the day, although that seemed unlikely on a statutory holiday. Then we drove out to our camp, it looked great! The weather was sunny and warm and breezy. We puttered about at the camp, clearing branches that had fallen over the winter, then we walked over to Granny and Grandpa’s house, just down the road. There we sat, me on the porch, Attila on the ground so that he could enjoy the sun. The breezes made the landscape playful and teased us with enchanting fragrances, of pine, and grass, and a nearby spring. A natural spring has a certain aroma, I don’t know how to describe it, but I love it. It reminds me of the spring where my Granny and Grandpa filled milk cans with fresh water, to use at their house, they did not have running water at the time. They always had a milk can of water in the kitchen, with a metal dipper hanging on a nail beside it. When we were thirsty we would fill the dipper with spring water, and quench our thirst. Sitting on the porch today, with Attila near, and the fragrance of happy memories in the air, a deep thirst of another kind was quenched.

After we left Granny and Grandpa’s house we headed over to Harriet’s cottage and dropped in for a little visit. They had company staying with them for a few days, but made us welcome and shared a snack with us, it was very pleasant. Then we headed home.

I am sorry to say that all that time in the car, the five hour drive on Tuesday morning, and the several hours we spent in the car today, have taken their toll on my tailbone, and the bruising. I am very sore and very tired. I believe pain wears a person out, and I feel very worn.

No matter, I will take a few painkillers, go to bed early, and dream about the wonderful day I just experienced.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 9:36 PM EDT Wednesday 1 July 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 15.5°C
Dewpoint: 12.8°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: N 8 km/h

Quote

“There is only one you… Don’t you dare change just because you’re outnumbered!”
Charles Swindoll

The Thick Of It

We are in the thick of it now!

The realtor comes tomorrow to assess the house.

The cleaning isn’t done.

Attila stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night to keep working on the main floor.

The cleaning still isn’t done.

Yikes!

How did the place get this dirty!!

Wood heat requires constant cleaning, which Attila had no time for last winter, here alone, battling the cold, for the duration of the coldest winter since 1934. He got through it, and has the grime to prove it.

I am finished the main living area of the house, the kitchen, dining room, living room, and main bathroom. Now there are two upstairs bedrooms to tackle, the family room, the downstairs bath, the downstairs bedroom, and the downstairs kitchen. I am tired just thinking about it! We must press on!

Thankfully we have garbage pickup once every two weeks, and today is the day. That is why Attila worked into the night, gathering up bags of things we are purging, filling up garbage bags, which are now out at the curb. Recycling is grand, but we do not have the luxury of time. Also, if we sell and move to the little house in the city, we will be moving from an average size bungalow to a very small house, under 680 square feet. We cannot keep all of the things we have accumulated (few items were purchased, we have been master recyclers, aka hoarders in training, who have yet to graduate).

Like Mist, the house is purring with all the loving attention it is receiving.

Choosing a realtor, or choosing not to employ a realtor, is a tricky business where we live. Most of the realtors in the area aim to sell the 1/2 million to 10 million dollar properties that are common here. They don’t really consider selling an ordinary bungalow to be worth their time. Relatively speaking, I can see their point. But that leaves us in an awkward position.

On Tuesday I called two realtors to ask for assessments. One of them, a young woman, was very forceful on the telephone, implying in subtle ways that the house would not measure up to much in comparison to other properties, that there were only so many buyers, so we should “price to sell”, a euphemism for “price it low so I can sell it quick”. She seemed awfully snobby to me, but we did setup an appointment for today. However, the thought of having her in my home didn’t feel quite right. So I wrote her an email message outlining what I was looking for, and mentioning that we were getting several assessments from realtors for the house. Her reaction was to reveal herself. She immediately wrote back to inform me that she “doesn’t compete with other realtors”, because she “doesn’t need to”. She is not coming to assess the house. She wishes us luck. We are relieved to have averted that visit!

When you think that you are paying the realtor $10,000, or much more, to sell a property, you would think they understood they are working for you. Ha!

When we sold our house in the big city before moving to the country, we had an outstanding realtor; she was amazing! She got us a good price for the house in a difficult market, and always stayed positive, towards us, and towards the house. We were spoiled, and we know that a good realtor can make the process a lot less painful!

The other realtor I called yestereday was very friendly, a young man, who answered his cell phone while driving. It was noisy, he apologized, exiting the road and parking to speak with me. I had a good feeling about him, but the proof will be how he reacts to the house, and us, after he has seen the house. On the telephone he had no way of knowing that we are not selling a multi-million dollar home, so I would have been exposed to his best foot forward, treating every potential customer like an appreciated customer. We shall see if the other shoe drops.

For a lot of business people in this area, the only appreciated customers are rich customers. So that pleasant demeanour, that the realtor presented, may not last. We have experienced this phenomena over, and over, and over again, living in the shadow of the rich. Many of the business people here are very friendly until they discover that you are not rich, then you are suddenly invisible, not worthy of their time or notice. So we shall see what this young man is made of when he comes to assess the house. At least he is smart enough not to make assumptions, and can interact with a female without any underlying hostility; those points are in his favour.

I was exhausted yesterday after cleaning all day, and dealing with the issues around realtors in this area.

My advice to unassuming persons, it is ill-considered to live anywhere where the entire economy is based on service to the affluent, it isn’t pretty, a lot like “The Truman Show”. The backdrop looks idyllic, beautiful, peaceful, but it is virtually empty of economic diversity or balance. As one Elder of a local Reserve (Aboriginal) said in an interview, serving the rich is not an economy. So succinct, intelligent, and right on the mark.

We did take a short break from our cleaning frenzy to make a brief visit to our camp on Sunday afternoon. All is well there. The building next to us, which is over 100 years old, and has a distinct lean to it, has a demolition order stapled to the siding. I am relieved, it was a scary building, and a variety of wildlife had moved in. The building will be gone by the end of the summer.

The highlight of our visit was the wildflowers, which were blooming all over the camp site. The Trout Lilies are in full bloom, as are the Mayflowers. The Trilliums were about to bloom. The Hepaticas are not blooming yet either. We will try to make another trip over there soon, I want to visit the wildflowers!

While we were there Attila loaded some of the firewood we had stacked last fall, after clearing the lot. If we need another fire for heat, now we can have one!

And as a final note in this entry, the NDP Party has formed a Provincial Government in Alberta, Canada. This is the party, at the federal level under Tommy Douglas, that brought universal health care to Canada. They are not perfect, but I for one wish them many years of success in improving the lot of the majority of Albertans.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 6 May 2015
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 6.9°C
Dewpoint: 4.4°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: N 2 km/h

Quote

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”
551 BC – 479 BC

The Camp

Attila and I spent our day off at the camp. Tree felling was suspended for the day, as the brush from the previously felled trees still needed to be gathered and stacked. Attila did the brush clearing at the camp, while I setup the rocket stove temporarily at Granny and Grandpa’s house.

Yesterday, Sunday, the mosquitoes were as thick and aggressive as I have ever experienced them!

First, I took a trip to the local dump, where usable items are displayed in a covered area, and donations are accepted for items taken. The goal was to find a gas stove burner grate. Since there is no gas service in the countryside, there were no natural gas stoves at the dump. Electric stove elements there were in abundance, so I took a few to see if they would work. But they were barely adequate, so the search is still on to find a free grate.

While at the dump “store”, I also picked up four old plastic lawn chairs, all in good working order, and some beautiful dishes and mugs. It seems that people who buy beautiful dish-ware want whole sets, and when some of the pieces break, they discard the rest of the set to purchase a new one. The camp now has beautiful mugs, glasses, dinner plates, and bowls. Goodness, we haven’t even got a driveway yet, and we are almost ready to entertain!

While at the dump, I ran into my cousin and his wife, who were giving visiting friends a tour of the local area. My cousin has a cottage in the area. My cousin had not recognized me, and told me that he saw me there, but thought I must be “a local”. I laughed, because I certainly looked “local”. I had been working outside, wearing a stained, oversized white shirt, grubby trousers, rubber boots, hat, but not my mosquito net. I was also sweaty and bedraggled from pulling vines out from around the foundation at Granny and Grandpa’s house. We chatted for a little bit, and then they carried on with their motor tour. They planned on driving by the camp, to see how we are getting along. Attila said they slowed down and waved; but could not stop as there is no shoulder on the road to speak of, and we do not yet have a driveway.

As I arrived back at Granny and Grandpa’s, Attila was coming down the road for a break. So we sat on the porch, with our sandwiches and cold beverages, and enjoyed the sound of the bumble bees in the lilacs, and birds in the bush.

The porch at Granny and Grandpa’s is high, hip height, with no stairs. I was managing to get up and down, but not enjoying it much. So Attila found an old broken ladder where he works, cut it down to four rungs, smoothed the edges, and voila! We now have our very own, custom designed, entry ladder for the porch.

After our break, Attila returned to the camp to continue clearing brush, and I set about constructing the rocket stove. The construction took all of about ten minutes. It took an additional five minutes to gather dry twigs for fuel. And it took another fifteen minutes to walk down to the camp, chat with Attila, and ask for the matches he had in his pocket. Note to self, bring matches!

The first attempt to light the twigs failed. Every stove has its own draft requirements. So, after sitting and thinking for a while, I tried again. This time it worked easily. One must get a feel for objects, respect their unique characters, to work successfully with them. A stove will always tell you what you are doing wrong, if you listen to it. Fifteen minutes later I drank the first cup of hot tea, prepared on the rocket stove.

After letting the stove cool, which took several hours, we loaded the concrete blocks into the back of the car and drove them down as far as the place where our entry path enters the bush, then Attila carried them into the camp, one by one. I will build the rocket stove again when next we need it. Hopefully the driveway will be installed by then, and it will be clear where best to locate the stove.

Later in the afternoon, Attila brought his chain saw back to Granny and Grandpa’s house, and proceeded to bring down one of three dead Elms, that were close to house. After felling the first tree, Attila decided to leave the other two, as they lean towards the house, and bring a come-along and rope on a future visit, to ensure the last two trees fall away from the house and not on it. As Attila sectioned the felled tree into logs, I gathered and stacked the upper branches.

The clearing of the camp lot is progressing nicely. Attila worked very, very hard clearing brush yesterday, and the results are very pleasing. Working on the camp lot will be a lot easier when the driveway is in!
CampJune8 2014
The rocket stove was temporarily assembled at Granny and Grandpa’s house. The extra concrete slabs are to be used for the permanent installation at the camp, to ensure the stove is level. It only took about ten minutes to put everything together. The twigs that are being used for fuel are portruding out of the side of the stove. The electric burner elements are on the stovetop and the concrete slab in the foreground of the picture.
Rocketstove 1
Here it is, the fully functioning rocket stove, with the kettle boiling on the burner. The kettle is on a tilt, as the electric element does not work well as grate, but will do until a proper replacement can be procurred. As you can see, it does not take very many twigs to boil water!
Rocketstove 2
The two remaining dead Elm’s. Actually, this is one Elm with two trunks. The wood from the dead Elm is very dense and heavy, which made clearing the brush and stacking the logs a fair bit of work. On this project I worked right alongside Attila, and we were both wet through from our efforts at completion.
Deadelm 3

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Monday 9 June 2014
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Temperature: 18.4°C
Dewpoint: 6.8°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NE 8 km/h

Quote

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.”
Mary Pickford (1893 – 1979)

black flies

Yesterday we started early and cleaned until we dropped. The realtor was showing the house at 1:45 p.m., and we managed to get a lot done and to leave before they arrived. Tired and satisfied, we headed towards Harriet and Hogan’s cottage, to visit with them while they were there for the long weekend. Since we heard nothing from the realtor, we were left to accept a dinner invitation, and enjoyed a wonderful BBQ chicken dinner.

During our visit Attia and I, and Harriet and Hogan, all bundled into our car and drove over to the camp. The black flies were out in full force, they swarmed in clouds around our heads, but for some reason they did not bite me! The camp looked quite different than it had on our last visit. Yesterday the leaves were budding, and the forest floor was a carpet of trilliums and Mayflowers. Hogan and Attila went off a ways into the bush, behind the camp, which had been owned by my Grandparents and is now owned by my Mom and Uncle.

We are still waiting to see if the purchase goes through for the camp, but perhaps we will find out by this coming Friday.

We also wandered around my Grandparent’s house and were relieved and happy to find that it had not been broken into again, and nothing had been disturbed! Harriet and Hogan had cut the “grass” and straightened things up, so everything looked neat and tidy.

Today is sunny and warm. We are still working on our country house today, but are only puttering, as oppposed to working with an intense focus on completing a particular task. Attila is transplanting ferns to the shady area of the front garden, and working to spruce up the yard. I am cleaning the windows exposed when the “boards” were removed from the windows. We had boarded up the windows for the winter to help reduce heating costs and Attila’s work load. I have stewed fresh rhubarb and finished all the picky jobs like washing dishes and making beds.

The Periwinkle is in bloom!
Periwinkle

Attila and I really enjoy the results of our labour, a clean house feels and smells so good!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

14°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 19 May 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dewpoint: 4.1°C
Humidity: 52%
Wind: W 17 km/h

Quote

“Early bird

Oh, if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird—
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.”

Shel Silverstein