A Trip in the Dark

This weekend thing is a great invention!

Friday night Attila and I made a pizza and watched Star Trek. It doesn’t sound very exciting I know, but it really does it for us.

Saturday morning we packed up Tank and headed out to the Rideau Camp. It was a cloudy day, and warm, around 20C. We had our list of things we wanted to accomplish. Attila wanted to cut the grass, which is really using the weed eater to keep the weeds low. He then used a leaf blower and cleared the area of crushed stone, and the driveway. Then he headed down to our swamp at the entrance to the property.

The swamp was formed when the cottagers association built the private road. At that time the natural drainage was blocked by the new road, and a swamp was created. The trees that had grown there died, and fell into the swamp. Other trees were bulldozed into the swamp when the driveway was created. It is quite a mess, which is lucky for us, because it made the property look undesirable at the entrance, very little curb appeal.

Attila has been slowly clearing dead wood from either side of the driveway, where it was bulldozed into piles. Having reached the edge of the swamp this weekend, he found that the water level had gone down sufficiently to allow him to begin removing waterlogged trees. He spent the rest of the day Saturday pulling dead trees out of the swamp, and piling them at the side of the driveway, where they will slowly dry.

Attila also removed quite a few wild grape plants that had grown into the dead trees that were still standing at the water’s edge. I dragged these up the driveway to the fire pit. I spent my day burning the last of the dry dead wood from earlier driveway clearances, and burning the wild grapes. The fire burned from around eight in the morning until it started to rain around six in the evening. There was also quite a bit of fallen deadwood in the forest around the perimeter of the camp site, so I collected that and burned it as well.

One thing about tending a fire all day long, you end up smelling like smoke, and any exposed skin gets gritty and salty. There are no bathing facilities at the Rideau Camp, so a basin wash is as good as it gets. The grunge factor is bearable on an overnight visit, but it can feel disgusting pretty fast on longer visits.

It is a beautiful time of year to spend time out of doors. At times leaves are gently released, floating to the ground. When the wind blows, and it did blow in great gusts all weekend, the leaves are ripped from the trees with great force, driven down, up, across, in whatever direction the wind takes them. When we took our breaks, we sat at the edge of the bush and soaked in the aroma of autumn, the fallen leaves, the damp earth.

With the coming of the rain we retreated into Grace The Trailer, to prepare a simple dinner, instant Chinese egg noodles with green beans. Then by the light of our small battery operated lanterns, we played cards. We spent the rest of our evening playing cribbage, Attila won the first game, I won the second game. We laugh a lot when we play cards together, although I can’t really say what we find funny.

It is an unusually mild mid-October. We stayed the night in Grace The Trailer quite comfortably. The clouds held the dark close, so that as we lay in our bed we could hold our hands in front of our faces, and see nothing.

I awoke at 5 a.m. and was awake for the day. It was still pitch black at that time in the morning. The night had been mild, warm enough so that I could turn on the lantern and comfortably dress, before taking myself to the living area to let Attila sleep for several more hours.

At 6 a.m. it was still very dark, and as luck would have it, I needed to visit Winnie (the outhouse). I took my little lantern, closed the door to the trailer behind me and headed towards Winnie. The morning was mild, and windy. The lantern lit the path so that my footing was sure. When I reached Winnie I hung the lantern on the nail Attila had hammered into the roof raft. The compost toilets are not left out, so each time we use them we need to set the system up. It is a simple process. The toilet paper is kept in an empty plastic coffee can with a lid, it sits at the top of the pyramid of joy. Under the toilet paper is a covered five gallon pail that contains peat moss and a scoop. Under the peat moss bucket is a very large plastic tote with a lid. Inside are the two compost toilet buckets, his n’ hers. There are no bad smells. It was quite magical really, sitting there looking out into the forest, the wind blowing in my hair, autumn leaves lying on the ground, lit and glistening with rain by the light of the lantern. A rather surprising memorable moment.

Attila arose after a few hours. It was quite a windy day, so we decided to return to Mist Cottage for lunch. Attila wanted to pull more trees out of the swamp, so he tackled that project.

I wanted to gather together the fabrics and extra beverages and food we have in Grace The Trailer, to bring home for the winter. Mice will chew away at fabrics over the course of a winter. We found evidence on a small mouse under the kitchen cupboard, two tiny turds, and the roll of toilet paper by the door had been chewed. I have a glue trap setup under the sink, but it was empty. We wondered how the mouse gained entry, as we had diligently plugged all of the trailer’s orifices with steel wool. I discovered later in the day, that the steel wool under the slideout had been disturbed, pulled out. We surmise it was probably the red squirrel, a very aggressive little fellow, who pulled it out, although it was of no use to him. The little mouse took the opportunity to pay us a visit. Hopefully the steel wool will stay in place now, and the mice will have no entry point. We will be taking mouse traps out with us on our next visit.

I left a few cans of food there, a few cans of beverages, and the bedding for our bed. We hope to spend another weekend there before the snow flies.

This evening we had a very intense wind storm, with lots of rain. We heard a very strange sound, a bit like an airplane. It was the wind howling through the awning outside the dining area windows. We had not heard anything like it before.

The power flickered, went out, then came back, several times. Our internet service is down, but we still have power. I am writing this on a Sunday, but I won’t be able to post it until the internet service is restored, who knows when.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

No access to weather reports, internet down.

Quote

“So I weave back and
forth, forth and back,
a rug patterned of warmth
and light, and when I find
a new scarlet thread shining
to add to the design,
I smile.”
Marge Piercy, The Twelve-Spoked Wheel Flasing: How I weave trouble.

Sun!

Yesterday the weather was miserable. It rained all day and it was cold to boot.

This morning the sun rose and shines still. Although it is still sweater weather, it is beginning to warm.

We visited Terra and Lares on Monday evening for a few hours, to share time with our Grandbabies Sunny and Sky, it was their first birthday. They are both doing very well, happy and healthy, and still a bit small for their age. Sunny, the girl, is a going concern, very active and engaged with the world around her. Sky, the boy, is laid back and mellow, and quick to grin, and oh what a smile. Sunny is almost walking, holding on to a push wagon for now, but not for long. Sky has no interest in standing, and is crawling when he sees something he wants to play with. They are so much fun! I lay on the floor with them the whole time we were there, they crawled around me, on me, and over me, what fun! It was a treat at the close of a dreary day.

Terra tells me that Luna, Janus and their Grandbabies are staying in Paris at the moment. Luna is not one to keep up contact, so Terra was very pleased to have received a video from Sunny and Sky’s cousins in Paris, singing happy birthday to them. I have been sending messages to the Grandbabies in Europe, and even received a reply the first week, but have not heard from any of them since, and don’t expect to. I continue to send messages though, just in case they read them.

Today I am busy crocheting a second cotton beanie to use while working in the bush, at the Rideau Camp. The first cotton beanie, a green and white cap, was great for keeping my hair out of my eyes, and for keeping the mosquitoes from biting my head. The yellow jackets thought I was a flower, and kept buzzing my head in confusion. I would stand very still and allow their winged investigations, as they would soon loose interest and move on. It is important not to frighten them, for then they might sting. The second cotton beanie is a brown and white one, and it remains to be seen if it will attract the wildlife.

I’ve just come out onto the back porch to sit in the sun for a while. The birds are singing all around, one little fellow is sitting on the fence near me, so only my fingers are moving so as not to frighten him away. There are insects flying to and fro, which is probably part of the reason there are so many birds about. In the garden five yellow and purple irises are blooming, as are the pink wild geraniums. Two columbine plants seeded themselves at the bottom of the the back step, and have put out profuse blooms. The clematis has climbed the fence, and it growing its way across the fence railing, it will be very pretty when it blooms. I can see the wild grape growing up the center of the Mugo Pine, again, every other year I make an attempt to kill it, and every other year it comes back again.

The laundry I hung up on Monday afternoon, when it was raining, is finally dry, and ready to be folded and put away.

The neighbour who backs onto our back yard has had magnificent children’s playground equipment set up for their only child, a daughter. She has just become a teenager, started high school, and they have now erected a basketball net on a stand on the driveway. Over the weekend the playground was dismantled, and sold segments of it were carted away to be reconstructed in other back yards, played on by other happy children. Some bits are still there, but they will soon be gone, as the landscaper who cares for their yard will soon be there to mow their large lawn, and keep everything looking manicured for them.

Our garden is doing well, but we still have not got our beans and squash planted! Our garlic, given to us by my Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl, is doing very well, as are the onions. Attila loves to garden, it relaxes him. I am different, to me the garden is work, and I think that comes of growing up on a farm, and working as a farm labourer during my teenage years; too much time spent stooped on the ground in the hot sun, or on ladders in trees on still humid days. I am very grateful that Attila finds it relaxing!!

It looks like we are in for some milder weather, at last!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

15°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 7 June 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.9°C
Dew point: 10.7°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: S 17 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

Maybe the past truly was the good old days.

Little Things

The cold snap is finally over. We can see patches of brown grass now, here and there, where there was only white yesterday. The snow banks are still significant, but they will not last long.

We had a lovely quiet weekend. We made croutons, went for walks in the sun, sat on the back porch in the sun, baked sourdough bread, and just hung out at home.

I crochet every day, and it is coming easier and easier. I am still on the first stitch I learned, the single crochet stitch. I won’t be moving beyond that for a while yet, I want to my hands to learn it, muscle memory, and that takes time to develop.

DSCF0486 This is my second washcloth. I didn’t drop or add any stitches this time, as far as I can tell. I can see that there are places where the tension is uneven, but that will improve with practice. I gave this washcloth to Attila, he likes it. I kept the first one to use myself, the imperfect one that has dropped stitches is not pretty, but it is perfectly functional.

DSCF0487 This is my third washcloth. I feel it is an improvement over my first two efforts. It certainly worked up a lot quicker than the first two!

DSCF0489 This is my third washcloth again, showing the single crochet border I added. It took me quite a while to figure out how to do the border, I had a video to follow, but right handed. I find trying to do things backwards from a demonstration very difficult. But eventually, after trial and error, I got it. The ending wasn’t great, it was hard to figure out because I started and ended at a corner. This was how the video tutorial that I watched did it. Later I observed another tutorial and she started a few stitches in from the corner, and it was much easier to figure out how to end it that way… next time!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

0°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Sunday 19 March 2017
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -0.1°C
Dew point: -3.1°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: SW 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -4
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Weather

I am on a mental ramble here, which is how undisciplined I have become since leaving the academy. Sometimes I feel concerned about it, but most of the time I am having the time of my life, and I value the joy of living.

The last few weeks have been mild, and one might think spring arrived early. I know better, as we experienced this sort of interlude in 1994 when we moved into our house in the little city. That warm spell was shorter than this one, but no less memorable. Yesterday began with spitting rain falling from the overcast sky. By mid-afternoon the sun came out, and the temperature soared to 15C on our back porch. And where was I? I was out on the back porch, soaking up every ray of sunshine that came my way. I cuddled in my jacket, as the brisk wind was keen on robbing the warmth the sun provided. That is where Attila found when he returned from work, and where he joined me. I know this warm weather is not meant to last, but it is a lovely reprieve, and reminder that soon spring will arrive.

DSCF0438 This is the morning view out the living room window, to which I have become so attached. The colours don’t last very long, and I am always grateful when I happen to be looking out the window when they are at the height of intensity.

In mid-January I experienced a gastrointestinal upset that lasted for a month. It was puzzling, and worrisome. I had a few theories as to what it might be, some of them downright scary, and others not so much. The problem cleared up a week or so ago, to my great relief. But my system swung the other way to experience the opposite extreme, which has been equally uncomfortable. An experiment was in order. Yesterday I consumed a 70g portion of the ricotta cheese I like so well. Sure enough, during the night my gastrointestinal system swung right back to the original extreme condition. I am in a see-saw situation.

I had used this ricotta cheese in baking, and it did not affect me at all. I froze some of the ricotta cheese, thawed it and consumed it, and it did not affect me at all. I drink milk, and eat other cheeses, and they do not affect me at all. But eating this ricotta cheese fresh does affect me, distinctly and unmistakably. Going forward it can be my own fool-proof cure for constipation. My next experiment will be to try different brands of ricotta cheese to see if I can tolerate any of the alternatives.

My son-in-law Janus has expressed an interest in my 2007 iMac. It will only run operating systems up to and including El Capitan, and so has become a less flexible solution for us, which is important because we rely on computers and not cell phones. I spent yesterday cleaning up the hard drive, removing the last vestiges of my files, updating the software that I was leaving on the machine, and creating a login account for Janus to use, since he should not use the admin login account for day-to-day use. Attila brought the computer box in from the new shed, after he got home from work, and now the computer, the OSX install disk, the keyboard and the mouse are nicely packed and ready for pickup or delivery, whichever comes first. I will miss the old iMac, it is a beautiful machine. But we really need to keep current with our technology, and we do not have room for more than one computer in our little Mist Cottage.

DSCF0432 The Ontario grown garlic we bought at the farmer’s market last Sunday, it cost $2, which is quite expensive, but it was an outing so we indulged. Attila stir fried it with the $2 organic cabbage we bought from a different vendor at the market. I am really looking forward to having a garden this summer. We will be able to eat as much as we can grow!

Today I am baking my first loaf of Finnish Pulla, using the yogurt sourdough starter my friend Auntie Mame sent me. I learned a few little things with the first loaf of sourdough I baked last week, with the rye starter. It is important in my Bosch mixer to add the dry ingredients first, the starter will smear and fail to incorporate itself into the dough if added to the mixer bowl first. Adding the dry ingredients first really worked well, and the dough was very easy to work with when it came out of the bowl. The recipe I used was sent to me along with a sample loaf of Finnish Pulla by Auntie Mame, and I am looking forward to seeing how my first loaf will turn out.

DSCF0469 My very first loaf of Sourdough Finnish Pulla. I put 1/8 tsp of salt, as opposed to the 1 tsp called for in the recipe. I also used canola oil instead of butter, as cholesterol is an issue for me. I added no commercial yeast to this, the rise is completely due to the sourdough.

Attila does not like sourdough bread. I love sourdough bread. All for me is what I say! He likes the Finnish Pulla though, and I will have to share that. The loaf of bread I baked with the rye starter was very nice, it had a very good crumb, and was nice for sandwiches. But Attila doesn’t like it. Since I was the only one eating the loaf, it was in danger of spoiling, so the last half of it was used for croutons. The result was disappointing, the croutons were rock hard, and very hard to crack with out teeth, not really very pleasant on a green salad. But we will eat them, nothing goes to waste here, our mistakes are usually consumed. Thank goodness we don’t have many serious failures in the kitchen!

Lately I have been watching a channel on youtube, about a family who moved into a yurt with three small children and built a small house over the course of three years, which they moved into. I enjoyed the mountain dream home series Fouch-o-matic, which featured the whole family. They are very likeable people, and I enjoyed hearing about how they met their challenges and made progress.

The wife Esther did another series which featured just herself, and other homesteading wives, all around her own age. This series I found tedious, there was nothing new to me in anything that they were talking about, which is not really a problem. One positive aspect of it was that the information “taught” held no glaring areas of misinformation. I think my problem was more that they thought of themselves as teaching others, when in fact they were only just learning themselves. I would have enjoyed hearing about what they were learning, but could not get past their belief that they were in a position to teach, when all they were doing was sharing their learning experience. Trained as a teacher I know how carefully one needs to structure information and delivery in order to make it easily understood, and what a thorough knowledge one needs of the subject at hand to successfully teach others. We can learn from sharing, but the act of sharing is focused on the me, and not the same as teaching, which is student centric.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Friday 24 February 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.5°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: NE 22 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.”
Edward R. Murrow
1908 – 1965

Tired!

All of the changes and hard work have suddenly caught up with Attila and I. We are tired! Attila was transferred to another plant, in the same city where he was working before Christmas, as of Monday. It is like starting a new job all over again, all new people, all new tasks. He is adjusting well, but he feels a bit worn down. He is working straight nights, at least for now, and now works 8 hour shifts. We need to adjust to the change from 12 hour shifts to 8 hour shifts. This first week will be the roughest, as we struggle to adjust sleeping hours. Next week should be a bit better, and a bit better every week after that. Apparently the company moves people around their various plants to best accomplish most needed tasks.

My sleeping patterns are completely disrupted. I slept but two hours last night, arising in the middle of the night, frustrated and awake, to do laundry in order to keep myself occupied. I napped for about two hours in the afternoon, but I still feel like I have been hit on the head with a rock, which is how I feel when I am extremely tired. I have my fingers crossed that I will sleep well tonight.

Attila took an extra nap today as well, adding two hours to his “night’s sleep”. I think he is past the peak of tired now, and from here on every day will get easier. The hope is that by next week the chaos of change will begin to settle into a pattern for both of us.

The weather has warmed considerably, and it is 1C out there as I write, 9:30 p.m. I managed to get out for a walk this afternoon, and because the temperature was above freezing, my knee functioned without complaint. Today was my yoga class, and despite feeling like I had been hit on the head with a rock, I took myself off to do yoga. I always enjoy it when I get there, and today was no exception.

The happily ever after is, after all, full of ups and downs and all arounds. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 9:00 PM EST Wednesday 6 January 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 1.2°C
Dewpoint: -5.3°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: SW 16 km/h

Quote

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Anne Bradstreet
1612 – 1672