Clear The Deck

Well, at least it is relatively warm tonight! We are able to keep the house comfortable with two firings of the masonry heater. The price we pay for this warmer weather is MORE SNOW.

Today the highways became bare, for the first time in ages. We have had one afternoon and evening of bare and wet roads, which will be covered with snow again by tomorrow morning.

Yesterday afternoon I heard men shouting at the neighbour’s house. When I looked out the window to see what the hoopla was about, there was a young man on their second story roof, brandishing a snow scoop. He would begin at the peak and push the snow down and over the edge of the roof. It looked pretty dangerous to me. One slip and he would fall two stories. Maybe falling two stories onto a very high snow bank isn’t considered an issue. I would not like to try it.

Now the neighbours are ready to let the current snowfall warning do its worst! Attila hasn’t had a chance to “clear the deck” yet, so he will have a very busy Saturday ahead of him.

We are looking forward to our Midwinter celebration. The Christmas Tree, a Fraser Fir, has been an enchanting companion since early December. It has just been in the last few days that it has begun to look a bit brown at the top, more brown than green I would say. So it is time that we remove the decorations and prepare it for our celebratory bonfire. It is something we could not do at the little house in the city, have a bonfire. But then, the winter would not be weighing so heavily upon us there, as the climate is significantly milder.

For our Midwinter celebration we decided to indulge in a homemade pizza. We have all the ingredients on hand, and now all we need is hydro service to make our plans come true.

Last Sunday Attila roasted a turkey for my birthday celebration. Tonight we had our last leftover turkey dinner, with potatoes, dressing, squash, and brussels sprouts. Six fantastic meals for two! Now the turkey carcass will go into the soup pot, and by next week we will enjoy several meals of turkey soup.

Food seems to be what we turn to when the weather says “NO!”, to everything else we might enjoy. Attila loves to cook, I love to bake. We both find food preparation a source of pleasure. And we both love to eat!

This week the final bills from the holiday season arrived in the mail. At first glance I was convinced we would be juggling funds, but we squeaked through, and managed to pay the whole lot. What a relief! Of course, there isn’t anything left in the bank account. But who cares, winter has us cozied up to the roaring fire, so we weren’t going anywhere anyway, there is lots of food, and the company is perfect. “And so say all of us”, says Mist.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOWFALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-8°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Friday 31 January 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -8.4°C
Dewpoint: -10.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: calm

Quote

“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
Sir Winston Churchill
1874 – 1965
[Who knew!]

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

Weather

-31°C
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

Quote

“Integrity has no need of rules.”
Albert Camus

In The Quiet Of The Night

This morning we awoke to a comfortably warm house.

Last night I sat up late, in quiet contemplation, waiting to close the damper on the masonry heater as the last blue flames flickered with heat. Attila had gone to bed early, to recharge.

The night time low was -12C, and the temperature is rising! Relief from the cold! Cold can be very domineering. Tonight it will back, down to -27C, with a stiff wind gusting to 40km/h. The windchill will be significant. We will be all charged up and ready for it!

About a foot of snow fell in the quiet of the night, stealthily, unseen. It is falling still, like a fine white mist. So pretty. But the gusts of wind drive the snow hard across the sky. The main highway is closed again due to poor visibility; for the third time this winter. Attila may not have to tote as much firewood today, but he will be very busy shovelling snow! In fact, when he arrived home from work he had to park on the road and shovel out a space to park the car at the end of the driveway. And we are going nowhere on bad roads, again!

My Mom, who grew up in a rural village just north of where we live, calls this a “good old fashioned winter.” And she would know!

On Attila’s day off tomorrow we will celebrate my late January birthday. I like to celebrate when Attila is around and about. I have requested a turkey dinner, and will bake myself a chocolate cake. I feel quite jolly to have made it this far, truly something to celebrate!

The pattern purchased for making a comfortable apron is still waiting for fabric. When we made our trip to the lab for Attila’s blood test I managed to visit Walmart. They sell fabric, in pre-cut swatches, all the wrong size for my purposes. There are no fabric shops in the town, as the only fabric store closed down about five years ago. After perusing the internet for fabric, thinking to buy fabric online, the price tags took my breath away. There were some bargains on offer from USA online stores, but shipping to Canada would be costly, and then there are all the fees associated with things coming over the border. My next thought is to eventually visit the thrift stores in search of a reasonably priced piece of fabric. That will have to wait until winter allows a bit of mobility.

The cornbread recipe has proven to be a big hit! Attila likes a slice of it, smothered with our homemade baked beans. This constitutes a complete protein meal, which he needs first thing in the morning before heading out into the arctic air. I have been enjoying a smaller slice topped with homemade applesauce for breakfast each morning. There are still some spy apples left from the half bushel I purchased in the fall. Most of them are still crisp, having been stored in the basement, our giant refrigerator. They make a lovely applesauce.

The new coffee machine is sitting downstairs ready for use. Attila has decided though, that until the frigid weather lets up, he will continue to use the old Bunn. It keeps water heated, and emanates a little bit of heat all the time. That coffee machine has heated the back room, where the laundry tubs sit, every winter since we moved into the house. It keeps that room above freezing, which amazes me, as it is usually the only source of heat in the basement! [I say usually because since the pipes froze on us this week, we have turned an electric heater on in the downstairs bathroom, the electricity will be cheaper than repairing burst pipes. Needs must.]

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C [-27C predicted for tonight, what a contrast!]
Date: 11:23 AM EST Saturday 25 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 98.8 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -6.7°C
Dewpoint: -8.4°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: W 18 gust 34 km/h
Wind Chill: -13

Quote

“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”
Joseph Wood Krutch
1893 – 1970

Kitchen Magic

It has been nine days since I have left these four walls. Time passes without notice. Tonight I am restless, and awake, and I notice. How strange to think, that there are crowded streets, ceaseless lights, and bustle all over the planet, when here the white silence stretches into the black night. Even the bears have retreated into their dreams.

Tomorrow the wind may have died down, making it much safer to walk in the bush. Falling branches are a significant hazard. Windy days bring down a lot of branches, falling thirty feet or more to the ground. Like spears, they fly into the earth, penetrating as much as a foot into the soil. November has been very windy.

Mist and I have been keeping ourselves busy with our respective projects. Mist sleeps, and I research the family tree, read, bake bread, pace the floors, stretch, watch the snow, and listen to the wind.

Attila leaves before light, and arrives home as darkness falls. Several times over the last two weeks he has been able to come home for lunch.

Saturday I processed vegetables, which we purchased two weeks ago at a vegetable stand, on our way home from the little house in the city. The beets were easy, two batches washed and cooked whole in the pressure cooker, then sectioned, packaged and frozen. I had fun squeezing the skins off, after they had cooled. My hands were an interesting shade of red for the rest of the day! The large turnip we purchased was fresh, and unwaxed. After being peeled and diced it took only five minutes to cook it in the pressure cooker. It was the best tasting turnip I have ever cooked, and I found myself snacking on turnip cubes as it cooled. We will definitely be making more purchases at that vegetable stand when it opens again next summer.

For lunch I had a toasted sliced beet and mozzarella sandwich, with mayo and hot mustard. It is my new favourite, for now anyway, until something else takes my fancy.

We like soup. A large pot of soup makes for instant meals, with homemade bread, and cheese, on the side. One of our favourites is Hamburger Soup, which is incredibly easy and incredibly good. I used a pound of the grass fed ground beef, which I sautéed with onion, to caramelize. Then I deglazed the pan by adding a can of diced tomatoes, and then add it all to the crockpot. In goes two or more cups of beef or vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, and whatever other bits of vegetables I can find in the refrigerator, until the crockpot is full. I add basil, peppercorns and a bay leaf, garlic if I have it, then let it cook for hours and hours and hours. It usually cooks all day, or overnight.

We had Sunday together, Attila and I and Mist. Attila and I spent most of our time in the kitchen. Mist loves it when we are all together. She sits between us and purrs, or if we are active she settles where she can watch us, and purrs.

Applesauce, mincemeat squares, and a turkey dinner with all the trimmings kept us busy. The squash was quartered and baked in a pan, in the oven, with the turkey. The new potatoes, from the vegetable stand, were cooked in their jackets and mashed.

Next week, after having eaten turkey leftovers for a week, Attila will use the remains of the bird to make soup. His process takes many days, but it is worth waiting for! And again, we will have instant meals, to eat with bread and cheese.

Perhaps those few days without electricity enhanced our appreciation of kitchen magic!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-2°C
Date: 12:00 AM EST Tuesday 26 November 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -2.4°C
Dewpoint: -5.1°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SSW 22 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -9

Quote

“Order is not pressure which is imposed on society from without, but an equilibrium which is set up from within.”
Jose Ortega y Gasset
1883 – 1955

Note

“José Ortega y Gasset (Spanish: [xoˈse oɾˈteɣa i ɣaˈset]; 9 May 1883 – 18 October 1955) was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Friedrich Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/José_Ortega_y_Gasset

Win Some, Lose Some

Thanksgiving was a busy holiday weekend! Attila had the Monday statutory holiday off work, so we bundled our lumber and food into the car, and headed for the little house in the city on Saturday, after he arrived home from work.

The bathroom renovation took over our renovation vacation completely. We had intended to use our time to build a front step on the house, where the front porch had been removed, and the foundation dug up and waterproofed. There was no time for the front step project during out vacation.

Attila has been determined to get the front step project going though, and having two consecutive days off work would allow him a bit of a run at the project. He began working on the front steps within an hour of arriving at the little house in the city, late Saturday afternoon. He continued through until after dark, then resumed early Sunday morning, working again till after dark Sunday night, and then all day yesterday, Monday. He made good progress, but ran into a few challenges, needing materials that could not be had, as the stores are closed on statutory holidays. There is one remaining two-day weekend for us this year, so that will be dedicated to trying to get that front step finished!

The new front step, not finished of course! The steps have been built, but the bottom step is way too high off the ground, so we need to either add another step, or create a concrete landing at a height that will provide a normal rise on the first step. The concrete solution is favoured at the moment. Other solutions involve replacing the risers, or landscaping. We are running out of time, winter is on the way!
Front porch dscf3673

On Sunday Terra was able to drop by, before her night shift, to share a turkey dinner with us. That was my project for the weekend, to prepare a turkey dinner. Those new pots and pans that we purchased with our points, at the beginning of September, were marvellous to work with! I was able to cook all the different vegetables, simultaneously, with ease. Everything was ready at the same time; nothing had to be kept warm while the pot it had cooked in was washed and used a second time to cook another vegetable!

I discovered the hard way that overeating at a feast, and then taking ibuprofen, is a very bad idea! I spent the entire night sitting or pacing, with my gastrointestinal system on fire! Silly me!

The ibuprofen is for my back, as the last time I cut the lawn I hurt my back trying to get the lawn mower started. The pull start on a mower is a miserable affair! The ibuprofen did the job though, the inflammation has subsided and I am feeling more comfortable. Next time I will begin a course of ibuprofen immediately after injuring myself!

We really like our neighbours at the little house in the city, all that we have met to date. Our immediate neighbours had an old freezer they wanted to get rid of, a little apartment size affair. So we went over and had a lovely visit with them, taking the old freezer with us when we returned home. It works very well, although it is not energy efficient. Beggars can’t be choosers though. We are grateful to have it!

We were greatly disappointed when the used fridge, that we had purchased for the little house in the city, stopped working over the weekend. Terrible luck! It is a high end Kitchen Aid, that we picked up for a song as a result of Lare’s mother’s kitchen renovation. We tried different things, but nothing brought the old refrigerator back to life. Nothing for it but to move everything into coolers!

Luckily we have the new used freezers! All of the food from the refrigerator freezer fit into the apartment sized freezer. All of the food from the refrigerator was moved into two coolers and we brought that food home to the country house with us. We were able to make ice to keep the coolers cool in our new used freezers.

We reviewed our finances, and a new refrigerator at this time is not in the budget. So coolers it is! Thank goodness we have the new used freezers to keep us supplied with ice for the coolers. We will also use our emergency Koolatron as our main refrigeration at the little house, for beverages and frequently used items.

Maybe in a few years we can accumulate enough points on one of our cards to buy another refrigerator. Until then, we will manage with our coolers.

I have finally managed to find a manual for this old Kitchen Aid refrigerator. The internet does offer some tips on home repair, which will be attempted before giving up entirely. But if it is the compressor that has given up the ghost, no attempt will be made to repair it.

Another issue will be how to get rid of the very large Kitchen Aid refrigerator that no longer works. We certainly cannot move it with our car! I do not think it is old enough to qualify for free carting away by the hydro people. It is a dilemma. We have time though, to resolve it. In the meantime I will advocate moving the old refrigerator into the garage, until it is old enough for hydro to pick it up.

It seems such a shame that this perfectly good framework for refrigeration will end up in a landfill! The refrigerator, if the cooling system were a better quality, could last a few lifetimes!!! The waste disgusts me. My Grandmother’s refrigerator, which is older than I am, many, many decades old, was still working when it was stolen, a few years ago.

In August our country house refrigerator gave up the ghost. We replaced it immediately. But a second refrigerator at a second property is a luxury. Perhaps at some point we will find an old one that is being given away, you never know!

Things to do today:

1. watch the pink dawn
2. watch leaves drifting down
3. enjoy the sunshine
4. listen to classical piano
5. cook pinto beans for a future batch of baked beans
6. wash up the dishes
7. dismantle and bring in the patio table
8. look forward to turkey leftovers for dinner

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Tuesday 15 October 2013
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 12.8°C
Dewpoint: 6.5°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: SE 8 km/h

Quote

The quote below expresses the sentiment behind my decision, for insisting on writing my blog using my own server space, my own domain, and my own installed software. Of course, bots from facebook visit this site four times after each entry is posted, which tells you something about data gobbling greed, in my view. But since it is public, I don’t block them. But they don’t own my content, or control the way in which I choose to communicate it. I think about how much power the banks have to control our lives and how we do things, by controlling how we can use money; and then I think about how much more powerful a corporation would be if they could control how we can communicate with each other. Cause for pause.

“I use Google+ as the source for posts that will also go to Twitter and
Facebook and LinkedIn, via the Friends+Me service.

https://friendsplus.me/

I treat all of them as distribution methods for things I want to make
fully public, and I’ll interact with readers who respond on any of
them, but I ignore pretty much everything that others say on Google+
and Facebook – I pay a bit more attention to Twitter.

I think it’s VERY dangerous to become in any way dependent on any of
these services – they own your data and can (and will) do all sorts of
things with it that you can’t anticipate and may be troubled by. So I
refuse to use them for anything that isn’t entirely public.”

Adam Engst, October 14, 2013

Note

Adam Engst

“Engst is notably the publisher of TidBITS, one of the oldest Internet-based email newsletters, which is distributed weekly to tens of thousands of readers. He has also written many technical books, including the best-selling Internet Starter Kit series in the 1990s, books on Eudora and iPhoto, and magazine articles for MacUser, MacWEEK, and Macworld. Adam is the publisher of the Take Control book series; his wife, Tonya Engst, is the editor in chief of the series.
Engst is well known for his interest and support of the Macintosh community, repeatedly ranking in the top five in the annual MDJ Power 25 survey of the most influential people in the Macintosh ecosystem.
He is particularly proud of the fact that he is one of the few industry figures who has been turned into an action figure.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_C._Engst