Unexpected Opportunity

Unexpected Opportunity

Our pace has slowed here at Mist Cottage, as winter deepens. It isn’t the cold, because the weather was mild over the weekend, and is mild again today. The eves are dripping, the snow is compacting as it melts, the roads are clear and dry in places, and the skies are gray, as they usually are these days. Of course, the cold weather is not done with us yet, not by any means. We will be well into March before we can regard a cold snap as unusual in any way.

I have been listening to Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I am only an hour into the novel, and I am pierced by sadness and grief, that humans could ever create social structures that caused so much pain and suffering. But humans do just that, and to that I will never be fully reconciled. I think humans may be the cruelest conscious living beings on planet earth, and no culture that I have ever read about, or been exposed to, is an exception. They all harbour their own sad stories.

I am also now listening to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and have just been introduced to Mrs. Benet, and her obtuse husband, Mr. Benet.

What a contrast in worlds between the novels I am listening to. On one side of the world, and closer to our own time, there is great suffering in the underbelly of an unbalanced socal system. On the other side of the world, there is the struggle with the rigid artifice of the class system, on the peaks of an unbalanced social system. And all of it rings true, the descriptions of the human condition, the lows and the highs, and everything in between.

Another world wide alert about a virus is in the news. This time it is the Wuhan Coronavirus. One hopes that the powers that be will be successful in containing the spread of this virus, which has already killed many people, and has potential to kill even more. In my time there have been world wide threats posed by SARS and MERS and Ebola, and there may be others that I was not aware of at the time, the news of which didn’t penetrate into my everyday life. It seems greater mobility of people and things bring greater risks.

On the weekend I baked Squash Chocolate Chip muffins for snacks. I experimented with a sweetener consisting of stevia and erythritol. I’ve used other granulated sugar substitutes, and I am happy to report that this combination of sweeteners yielded great results. This sweetener might even have some health benefits. Certainly, it is unlikely that it won’t be any worse for me than sugar. I’ve looked at other stevia mixes, usually using maltodextrin or xylitol, and decided erythritol seems the least likely to be harmful. The stevia/erythritol combo is a lot more expensive than the other blends with stevia, and it is more difficult to find. The muffins are a great success. I had one for breakfast this morning and enjoyed it very much.

Today I am busy milling flour. It takes me quite a while, because I mill a little over two gallons of flour, and let the mill cool completely between sessions. I mill the flour in four sessions, producing a half a gallon of flour at once. I measure in gallons because my glass canister jars are one gallon jars.

And last, but not least for today, is our Christmas Tree. I think I mentioned that it was in very good condition, not losing needles as all of our previous real Christmas Trees have done. Well, it has gone one step further. It is growing new needles, there are buds emerging all over the tree. If it keeps up like this we will have try planting it in the yard come spring. In the meantime, I think we will take this unexpected opportunity to remove the Christmas Ornaments, leave the lights on it, and decorate it with Valentines, then later replace those with Shamrocks. This is a lot of fun!



Date: 12:00 PM EST Monday 27 January 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 2.0°C
Dew point: -1.4°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: WNW 17 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882


  1. Teri

    The coronavirus is worrisome because the death rate seems quite high. Thank goodness it seems to be being contained.

    I use erythritol in my baking, too. I find I have to really cut back on amounts, though. I’m not use to what most people consider a normal level of sweetness, anymore.

    Your milling flour, I’m shredding old paperwork. I’ve been wanting to do this for many years. Unfortunately, DH tends to just let things like old papers pile up, so eventually I took it upon myself and ordered a shredder. Right now, I’m going through 2002 to 2006. Yup, they’re that old.

    Your tree looks very happy. It would be wonderful if re-planting it works for you.

  2. Teri, yes the coronavirus seems to be contained, I hope the death rate declines for those poor people in Hubai, where most of the deaths have occured.
    Like you, I don’t use a lot of sweetener, so I didn’t have to use much for my muffins, the equivalent of 1/4 cup of sugar. Really sweet treats still appeal to me though, unfortunately, even though I rarely even taste them.
    At one point I had a shredder, I don’t know what happened to it. These days we burn paper in the camp fire at the Camp, so we don’t need a shredder. 2002 to 2006, that is going back!
    I have my fingers crossed that the tree can be planted and will live and thrive, but Attila isn’t optimistic about it. Still, if it is still perky I am going to give it a go!

  3. WendyNC

    Maggie, no matter how the story ends, I think it’s wonderful that your tree is sprouting new leaves. I think that’s suggestive of a really healthy overall environment in your home.

  4. Wendy, it is really nice that the tree is living, it is the biggest house plant I have ever had! I like the idea that it’s health suggests a healthy environment in Mist Cottage, so different than when we bought the property!

  5. Teri

    Hey, Maggie? Got a question about you about your elliptical. What kind of shoes do you wear when walking on it? Do you find your feet slip to the toe of your shoes?

    I’m having a problem with my toes sliding and hitting the front of my shoes.

  6. Teri, it varies. Sometimes I wear actual running shoes, the kind that lace up, sometimes I wear Crocs, but most of the time I wear heavy socks. I know what you mean about feet sliding forward! It happens less with the tie up running shoes, and not at all with the heavy socks. When it happens I slow down and adjust my feet inside my shoes, or get off the machine and pace around a bit until my feet are properly placed in the shoes. It is more of an issue when I lean forward a bit, so my toes remind me to stand straighter. My foot rests are sloped slightly to the front, for whatever reason. I favour the getting off the machine and pacing solution, keeps me moving for the allotted time.

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