A Couple of Days

December 21, 2016

I guess the longest night in the last 500 years occurred last night. I didn’t notice!

One true thing: Life is an agent of planetary evolution, but not the only one.

A baking day, today it was squash muffins. The last batch of muffins weren’t as good as the squash muffins. In the last batch I substituted a banana and cooked mashed sweet potato for the pumpkin or squash, they were still good, but we like the squash muffins better. Our dinner is in the cast iron dutch oven, seared steak with carrots, potatoes, and onions, sprinkled with a little pepper and a ½ teaspoon of Garlic Plus, simmered all afternoon. It smells good at our house.

It was sunny and mild today, I did get out for my daily walk. The road was clear in the middle, so I walked in the middle, listening carefully for approaching vehicles, ready to dodge quickly to the side of the road should one happen down the road. The sidewalks are now impossible for walking, ice everywhere. It was lovely out there, the wind had the tops of the pine trees dancing, and there were numerous birds enjoying the sunshine.

The Christmas Cactus is blooming profusely now, four beautiful pink blooms.

I have completed digitizing the VHS home movies. All done, and they are gone. We no longer have to store them! I feel liberated!

December 23, 2016

The day is intermittently sunny then cloudy, there is a brisk wind running the show. Attila is enjoying his first day home for the holidays. Mostly we have been wrapping our gifts to one another, they are now gayly beckoning from beneath the pine scented branches of the Christmas tree. We have no shopping left to do, the turkey, the vegetables, are all waiting patiently in the freezer for preparation day.

Yesterday we made the decision to replace our 2007 iMac, which will no longer accept operating system updates. I found a refurbished model from 2015, the smallest one manufactured at the time it was manufactured, ordered it, and it will arrive in early January. We will need to decide what to do with the old one though, we certainly do not have enough room to store it for posterity! This expense will mean that there will be no major renovation projects this summer; it was a unanimous decision, we can’t do everything. It was only a matter of time before the 2007 model would not function adequately as our entertainment centre. We don’t have a television, or television cable service, all our entertainment comes to us on the iMac. The 2007 is painfully slow now, and the 2GB of RAM barely allows most of the programs we use to function. We have our fingers crossed that the iMac replacement lasts ten years too!

I don’t like using the migration programs that exist for switching computers. I will install all the pertinent software individually and manually, starting with the anti-virus/firewall packages. It will be a big job, but we will have a fairly stable system from the get go, even if it takes a bit of time to get going.

Back in 2008 I purchased a piece of software to handle my recipes. The company discontinued the software, and I moved on to use another software package. This morning I received an email message from the company that owned the discontinued software package, offering me a different piece of software free of charge, as a gift to a previous customer, me. I downloaded it and it seems it will be quite useful, it is called Renamer, by incrediblebee.com. The software will batch rename files according to chosen parameters, like adding characters or the date to the beginning or end of the file names. I will use this software to deal with file collections.

So time is quietly slipping into the shadow of a peaceful Christmas for us, here at Mist Cottage.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 6:00 PM EST Wednesday 21 December 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 1.1°C
Dew point: -1.6°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SW 22 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Mostly Cloudy
3°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Friday 23 December 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.4°C
Dew point: -0.4°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: SW 20 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
Eric Hoffer

I would add the word deliberate to this, deliberate rudeness. Because there are so many cultures and ways of seeing the world, the codes defining what is rude and what is not are not totally consistent. People can seem rude to others merely because they are different, or have experienced a different social environment.

A Day In The Life

6:40 a.m.

Dawn is slowly creeping over the landscape. Another morning begins. Attila has left for work, the roads are clear and dry for now, so his journey will be relatively safe.

The Christmas tree branches have relaxed and settled into a comfortable position, the tree occupies a third of the available floor space in the living room. Although it is crowded, it is cozy in this small space we call home. I have no plans for the day, aside from getting out for my daily walk.

7:10 a.m.

While sipping my morning coffee, and enjoying the Christmas lights on the tree and in the window, I have been thinking about our purging project. We passed along our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner and accessories to our niece and her fiancé. I have two binders of genealogical records that I will be gifting to another family history researcher, but the the arrangements to drop them off have yet to be made. There are two bank boxes full of vintage Mac software that will be donated to a collector, which Terra will pick up tomorrow, to take to Luna’s house when they get together for Christmas, from where the collector will pick them up. There is a box of clothing and dishes to be donated to the Salvation Army Store, and our old broken VCR to be dropped off at the electronic recycling bin. And then there is the box of home video VHS tapes, which has dwindled and will hopefully be completely converted to mp4 files before Christmas arrives. All of these items, with the exception of the binders, take up precious floor space.

My mind wanders to imagining what items in the house can go next.

We are making progress. A year ago we were still maneuvering our way through tunnels of boxes and belongings. Two years ago I was living alone here at Mist Cottage, with Diesel the cat for company, missing Attila horribly and hoping a move would work out. Three years ago we were struggling through a brutally cold and snowy winter at the country house, and I was waging a losing battle with cabin fever. We are making progress.

8:00 a.m.

Every time the forced air heating system kicks in, the air moves past the Christmas tree and fills the house with a delicious scent of pine. Another reason to love a furnace and a thermostat, not that I needed one.

11:20 a.m.

The sun was shining so I grabbed the opportunity to get out for my walk. There was quite a brisk wind, and temperature was around -5C, so it was nippier out there than we have been used to. I could only go part of the my usual route though, the sidewalk became increasingly difficult to navigate, with mounds of ice where people had dropped shovelfuls of snow. By the time I neared home the sky was overcast and it looked like we could get some snowfall.

The next few hours found me organizing my keys, they were quite chaotic. We have keys to two doors to the house, the trailer, the shed, our two vehicles, the mailbox, and a various other locks. I always destroy a fingernail when organizing keys, so now I have one very hacked up, sore fingernail to contend with until it grows out and can be trimmed evenly. But my keys are very well organized now, I must say.

While I was working on the keys, I became involved in cleaning out my backpack. I carry it as a purse, and haven’t tackled organizing it for quite some time. Another big job. One of the bonuses was that I found my Medic Alter bracelet. I wear a Medic Alert necklace, but many medical professionals fail to notice it. I want to wear the bracelet every time I visit a medical person, so I am glad I found it. It is too annoying to wear day-to-day.

Finally I sat down to take a little break and check my email. I receive email notices of free or cost reduced ebooks. Most of what is on offer I am not interested in, but this morning I found a book I am interested in reading. It is called “Letters From The Trenches”, by Jacqueline Wadsworth. It was 99 cents, well within my budget. I like first hand accounts of historical times, and this is what she offers in this book. Not for me are descriptions, numbers, and facts about the grand doings of the powerful, although that is what is mostly considered “history”. No, I like to hear from the people who lived the experiences.

“I have made no mention of military decorations, though some men in the book did receive them. My view is that there must have been an enormous number who deserved recognition but went unnoticed, and thought it fairest to present everyone as equals.”
Page 17, Letters from the Trenches, Jacqueline Wadsworth, 2014

This is my kind of book!

1:00 p.m.

The keys and backpack are cleaned and organized, I’ve only a small batch of keys for which I know not the locks. The weather is worsening, the sky is completely grey, and the gusts of wind very strong, with occasional driving snow. I am warm and cozy in Mist Cottage, and enjoying the book I just purchased.

9:30 p.m.

We have had a bit of excitement here at Mist Cottage. We have mouse traps set in the garage, and so far this autumn we have caught a dozen mice. This morning Attila noticed that the traps had been sprung, but had not caught anything. Decidedly odd. When I went to get the mail this morning, I noticed some very small footprints in the snow beside the garage door, it didn’t look like mouse tracks, and I thought, oh no, rats! This evening Attila was busy in the garage when he caught sight of a small white rodent-like animal darting about, he concluded since it was not concerned about being seen, that it was a pet of some kind. He set the live trap with some lettuce, and sure enough, a few hours later a gerbil was staring out at us from behind bars. The poor little guy had been out of doors since at least very early this morning.

All the peanut butter in the mouse traps had been eaten, which is too bad, because peanut butter is not good for gerbils. We brought him inside and gave him some lettuce, and a jar lid full of water. Attila called on the neighbours across the street because they have children and might be missing a pet gerbil. No, they didn’t own such a pet, but they thought the little girl down the street had a gerbil, but her family wasn’t home. We also wonder if the two little boys next door had a gerbil, but they weren’t home either. We will be asking around the neighbourhood to see if anyone is missing a gerbil! I wonder how it escaped!

So, tonight we have an overnight guest.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 14 December 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.9°C
Dew point: -13.2°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: W 18 gust 37 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Believe nothing against another but on good authority; and never report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to some other to conceal it.”
William Penn
1644 – 1718

Second Supper

A quiet week here at Mist Cottage. I have been working on my book, and backing up VHS home videos. My goal is to donate the whole VHS player/TV/VHS Tapes system to someone who would enjoy watching it all. Might work, but then again it might not. The old CRT television is getting a bit old, purchased in 2003, it is 13 years old, and already archaic. No wonder humans are drowning themselves, and the rest of life on planet earth, in garbage. But I digress. It would be very nice to get the very large, now unused, CRT television out of the house.

I borrowed the The Number One Ladies Detective Agency series from the library. The last episode was enjoyed this evening. I knew little about Botswana before bumping into this series. I’ve spent quite a few hours since, reading about Botswana, and touring Garbarone with Google Earth. I haven’t “gotten it” yet though, I can see the magic in Africa, but I cannot feel it. I would have to spend some time there I think, to get a feel for the appeal. If I could live a second lifetime, I think that would be on my list of things worth doing.

We took a quick drive over to the library to return the DVD and a library book, dropping them into the after hours shoot. The air was bracing, and very refreshing as it filled my lungs on the short walk from the car to the library door. Autumn is well under way now.

As I write Attila is preparing his “second supper”. Attila eats dinner with me, fairly early in the evening. Sometime before 10:00 p.m. he will prepare a second meal. Most nights he gets up in the wee hours and has a substantial snack. He usually skips breakfast and dives back into sustenance with a large morning snack, a big lunch, and then returns home again to start the cycle over again. Thank goodness he has learned to be quiet during his late night meal, so that he no longer wakes me as he prepares food in the kitchen.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Tuesday 25 October 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 3.6°C
Dew point: -4.4°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: WNW 16 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Strive for excellence, not perfection.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Trench

I took Tank in for regular servicing this morning, and was very happy to hear that the vehicle is in “very good condition”. We have been very lucky to have found this mechanic, he is honest and talented, a great combination. If he tells us something needs to be done, we have it done. When he presents us with a bill, we don’t even have to look at it, we just pay it. There are very few businesses in Canada that deserve that kind of trust.

When I arrived home with Tank, I noticed that all the runoff from the entire street was pouring into our driveway, creating huge pools of water. The blockade I had constructed in the spring had worn away. The trench I had dug in the spring had become blocked with pine cones, and congested with thick grass and roots. I was wearing my trusty old GoreTex parka, so I was well prepared to snoop around in the garage for a hoe. Trusty hoe in hand I tackled rebuilding the blockade, taking the matted grass and roots and accumulated soil from the trench and placing them on the driveway in such a way as to divert the flowing stream from the street into the trench and thus into the ditch. By the time I had completed the task, the pools on the driveway were shrinking steadily, deprived of their life line.

My blood pressure is still far too high, the quadrupled medication is not doing the job. I suspect the sudden problem could be caused by the medication I take for high cholesterol. When I became a senior citizen, the drug plan I became eligible for would not provide me with the dosage I needed, which was low. Instead, I had to take double the dosage needed, because those were the only pills covered by the drug plan. Insanity. The doctor advised taking the medication every other day, but at a double dose. I think this might have caused my blood pressure to skyrocket, the timing is about right, it is a documented side effect for a small percentage of people, and I might be one of them. My first plan of attack is to cut the pills in half and take a half portion every day, and see if that helps my blood pressure. My other plan is to try to eliminate store bought bread from my diet, it is very high sodium, a sandwich will put me close to my daily limit for sodium. Today I have been looking at low-sodium and sodium-free bread recipes. I stopped using the salt shaker ages ago, but just about all processed food is high in sodium, so it is a real challenge to stay within the daily recommended limit. Just one pickle can tip the balance.

Cold and raining here all day long. Now the wind is up. Looking out the window into the distant sky, I can see flocks of geese attempting to fly in one direction, but the wind has other plans for them. They drop out of formation one by one, turning to follow the wind. Closer, leaves fly past the window like yellow and brown rockets on a mission.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Friday 21 October 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 8.2°C
Dew point: 6.7°C
Humidity: 90%
Wind: N 27 gust 43 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.”
Hubert H. Humphrey
1911 – 1978

P.S. I would like to mention that no tears fell at my house today! The storm has passed it seems.