Winter is having its way with us! -31C here this morning, which is -39C windchill. Not a good day for a leisurely walk. The sky is clear though, and the sun promises warmer times to come. The thermometer outside my kitchen window will dip low again tonight, and then will make its way upwards to single digit daytime readings. The weather people are saying this is the coldest weather in years. Poppycock is what I say. We had weather this cold in December of 2020, and every winter before that, since we moved here to Mist Cottage, which is almost seven years now. The media is always trying to drum up drama, as if there wasn’t enough of that around already.
With temperatures this cold, it is our oil furnace that provides the heat. The air in the house becomes increasingly dry as the cold weather continues. It has become so dry that my skin itches terribly. So far frequent application of aloe vera lotion calms the itch. Several times a day towels are soaked with water and hung to dry, in an effort to increase the humidity in the house. Laundry is washed frequently in small loads, and hung to dry on racks in the living room, in an effort to increase the humidity in the house. Currently, with great effort, a relative humidity of 20% is being maintained. It was the same with wood heat at the country house, which was also very dry.
Stink bugs have decided that the living room is a great place to wait out the cold snap. So far there have been two of them, slow moving and unwelcome.
I continue to enjoy the thermostat daily, after having spent years heating with wood. But we have just been notified that we have to replace our aging heating system within the year. This is a financial crusher to be sure. It will involve a lot of careful decision making, there are so many technological alternatives to explore. Other renovation projects were under consideration for 2022, but they will be put on the back burner in favour of securing a suitable heating system.
How quiet the winter is here at Mist Cottage. The snow on the ground muffles the sound of the occasional passing car. The wind has ceased to roar, leaving only the movement of birds flashing through the tree branches.
Attila is back at work, after a brief quarantine, due to my symptoms. He has known many people, where he works, who have been diagnosed with Covid.. So far our health seems fine. My symptoms continue. I may have had Covid, if Attila acquired it at work, but I think there is something else going on. I am uncomfortable most of the time, occasionally in pain, and keeping an eye on my temperature and oxygen levels, which are normal so far. I’ve been for blood tests, more tests to come at some point. My guess is that I will need minor surgery, and if that is so I hope the health care system hurries up about diagnosing and providing the appropriate care. The health care system has slowed to a crawl for issues other than severe Covid-19. We wonder if more exposure to the virus is coming our way, as Attila works with hundreds of people with school age children, the children have just returned to school, and there will be no reporting of outbreaks in schools. It remains to be seen how this will go. Essential workers have been, and continue to be, the blunt edge of the wedge in the pandemic here in Ontario. I admit to envy of those who live in households where all members are retired, or can work from home, who have a choice in the level of their exposure. We continue to do our best to survive.
The worry of Covid aside, we have been happily employed here at home. Our latest sausage making project was a great success. Having the ability to produce very low-sodium sausage patties makes a world of difference to variety in my diet. For homemade pizza, it will join the low-sodium homemade pizza crust, and pizza sauce. Cheese will be the remaining high source of sodium on my pizza, and in time I may find a way around that too. The patties will also be consumed on homemade buns, as burgers, with homemade coleslaw on the side, which has become our favourite “instant” meal. They will also be great with spaghetti. We do not eat a lot of red meat, usually around three to six ounces a week each, and these sausage patties make it hard to stick to that!
The usual tasks continue to occupy the hours. Flour was milled this week. Bread is baked every few days. Muffins or squares are baked weekly. Each week new soups simmer on the stove, or in the Instant Pot, which provide lunches for me, and snacks for Attila. Two weeks ago a fresh chicken was obtained, which provided four dinners for two, three frozen packages of diced chicken for casseroles, and a pot of Chicken Noodle Soup, the last of which was yesterday’s lunch. Stone Soup is on today’s to do list.
Attila slowly works off and on, at bolstering the damaged floor joists under the kitchen. As he slowly raises the sagging joists the house groans. It makes a noticeable difference, the floors have ceased to creak, and the countertop is now level. Hopefully this project will be complete by the time gardening season begins.
The seed catalogue has become dog eared, as we dream of summer’s bounty. At last final decisions on varieties were made, and the seed order placed. I am hopeful that this summer the Sweet Peas that have been ordered will thrive under the bedroom window. They will be a feast for the eyes as I sit at my desk, and provide a sweet scent through the open window, at least that is the hope.
Updated on Fri, Jan 21, 6:15 AM
FEELS LIKE -39
Wind 9 N km/h
Humidity 69 %
Visibility 20 km
Sunrise 7:36 AM
Wind gust 13 km/h
Pressure 103.7 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 5:02 PM
“If the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams.”
L. M. Montgomery
1874 – 1942
Maggie, you have my sympathy about your furnace. What a challenge!
Regarding the humidity, we’ve had my husband’s steam canner simmering with the lid open on the stove (just using it as a big pot) all afternoon and it’s making a real difference with our humidity levels. I don’t know if keeping a pot simmering for hours is a viable option for you, but I thought I’d share what we do.
Thanks Wendy! For the sympathy, and for the tip! I think that a big pot simmering might be something we could afford to do (hydro costs the moon here) when the temperature goes down really low and the oil furnace comes on constantly. Thanks for the tip, we will give it a go, tonight is supposed to go down to -30C again, so it is a good time to experiment!
Hi, Maggie! I totally agree that we’ve had cold winters recently. Last year was pretty mild but before that we had a couple of years where the polar vortex brought desperately cold temps, a few even close to what you’re experiencing now.
We had to replace our furnace at the old house a few years ago. That made for a few months of scrimping. Now, I’m looking forward to the new forced air furnace at the new house. Only 3 more weeks until we close on the new house!
I’m not dreaming of gardening at the new house, yet. Right now, we have frozen mud and gravel all around it. And once things thaw, no telling how long it will be until we get sod laid down. The subdivision before ours didn’t get their sod until November.
Hi Teri! This winter there have been a few days where it was so cold and the winds were so strong, that we didn’t go outdoors at all. Every winter seems a bit different, but all winters at Mist Cottage are a great deal milder than the winters we experienced further north at the Country House.
I remember when you had to replace your furnace. Heating systems are expensive, but we really can’t live without them here in Canada. 🙂 We have a lot of research to do before deciding how to go forward with the heating system, as we will be switching away from oil to something else, an undecided something else. There are a lot of expenses that can be delayed, even indefinitely, but not a heating system.
How exciting, three weeks to wait to close on your new house! If the landscaping isn’t done, it could be advantageous to move in while the mud is frozen. The nice thing about gardens is that they can wait until you are ready to develop them.