What I did on my summer vacation.

Our first summer vacation in over two decades came in the summer of 2016. We were very excited! My brother had a heart attack and died that week. In 2017 our second opportunity for a summer vacation came up, and we spent it at our Rideau Camp. That week a neighbour destroyed a corner of our property with his tractor, and a property dispute ensued, in which I ended up having to involve the police to prevent the individual from continuing to damage the property, it was not fun, and certainly not relaxing. In addition to that miserable process, it was cold and rained the whole time we were there,

So, this year, when an opportunity for a summer vacation came along, I decided to pass. God only knows what misery would befall me on a third attempt at leisure and pleasure.

Attila had last week off. The first Saturday began as hot and humid as it had been all summer, being outdoors was not bearable. It was the Labour Day long weekend in Ontario. I thought perhaps it might be fun to drive out to a few local farms, who advertised on the internet. I was looking for tomatoes, and although several farms indicated they sold tomatoes, none of them offered any information on availability. I called their telephone numbers, only one farm line answered. He was quite unpleasant, told me he wanted $75 a bushel for his tomatoes, that there were none left, and I could put in my order for next year with a deposit. I politely declined. So we chose the nearest farm in the listings (not the unpleasant fellow) and set out.

There was a bad accident on a nearby highway, and all of the long weekend traffic was rerouted through our small area. It took over an hour to get out of town and to the first farm. They had clearly gone out of the business of selling to the public, the stand partly demolished, nor was there any sign of farming activity. I wish they had taken their listings off the internet, but I know how time-consuming that can be, so I don’t really blame them for not seeing to it.

Conclusion: the internet is not a good way to find local goods and services.

It took another hour to get back through town, which took us by a grocery store, so we popped in for a few things. And there they were, Roma tomatoes by the 25 pound box, and Red Shepherd peppers by the 20 pound box! The tomatoes were $8 a box, and the peppers were $10 a box. They were grown in Ontario, but not anywhere near where we live. We bought two boxes of tomatoes and one box of peppers. The outing to visit local farms and purchase local produce was abandoned.

So, I began to can tomatoes. I pressure canned batches of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce and pureed tomatoes right through until Monday, and spent at least 12 hours each day on my feet, getting it done. Attila helped a bit, sitting and turning the food mill, which helped a lot.

On Tuesday the heat wave was still going strong, and being outdoors was still going to be unbearable. So I thought it would be interesting to try again to buy local produce. This time I decided that an apple farm where we had purchased apples in the past, would be the place to visit. Attila liked the idea, so off we went for a drive in the country. It was hot and humid out there, but we were comfortable in the air-conditioned vehicle, and the long drive in the country was fun and relaxing.

We bought a 1/2 bushel of Paulared Apples. I also treated myself to a new paring knife, a Victorinox serrated knife, that was for sale for $9 at the apple farm store. A little vacation indulgence. Attila chose a plastic jar opener, for opening hard-to-open jars, as his little indulgence. We took our apples and indulgences and set out on the back roads towards home.

It was on one of those back roads that we bumped into a farmer selling produce out of her barn. She didn’t have a lot, but we did get six quarts of lovely new potatoes, and a large ripe melon.

We had a good time.

On Wednesday the day was spent turning the apples into applesauce.

On Thursday the applesauce was preserved by pressure canning.

Thursday was the last day of miserable hot and humid weather.

Friday dawned sunny and cool. At last! I decided to go “hiking” at a local park trail. Attila though that was a grand idea, so that is what we did. We weren’t sure just how it would work out, me with my arthritic knee, and Attila with his bad back and painful ankle. We chose the easy trail, not too long, and spent a lot of time sitting at the water’s edge just enjoying the sound of the waves lapping, and the birds calling.

Saturday dawned sunny and cool. Yay! I decided to go “hiking” again. Based on our success on the last “hike”, we chose a slightly more challenging trail, a moderate rated trail, two kilometres long. What a glorious time we had, again, sitting for a long time at the water’s edge. This time, as we were sitting watching the water lap against the rocks and submerged trees trunks, a beautiful mink ran across the shore in front of us. We were downwind from the water, so that it probably did not realize we were there until it was well on its journey. When it became aware of us, it scooted across in front of us and off into the brush. At another point in our walk, we stopped to watch a group of women in a small motorboat, who were out fishing. They caught our attention with their cries of excitement and amazement as one of them caught a fish. They were enjoying themselves so much, it was contagious. My knee, and Attila’s back and ankle, survived the experience without distress, we were pain-free and tired when we arrived back at the car. Out came the lawn chairs from the trunk of the car, cool beverages were fetched from the cooler in the back seat, and we set ourselves up in the shade to enjoy the breeze and the trees, while we rested from our adventure.

Once rested we headed for the Rideau Camp. Once there I heated up a pot of chilli for our supper, while Attila started a camp fire, over which he cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. We enjoyed a quiet meal, then sat around the camp fire for a few hours until the light began to fail. The fire was doused and then we were on our way home. It was a another lovely day.

Mouse Tales

Mice invaded Grace the trailer over last winter and have been a nightmare this summer. Three weeks ago, while applying Mouse Free to the undercarriage of the trailer, with a paint brush, Attila discovered a gap tucked behind the siding at the front jack. That opening, and another we found in the rear, were then filled with steel wool, then painted with Mouse Free. This was all done in hope of preventing more mice from entering.

BUT there was a high possibility that there were remaining mice in the trailer. Snap traps were being turned over and raided without catching the mice. When a mouse was caught in a snap trap, it was a pretty gory affair to clean up. So I got a 5 gallon pail, filled it with about 10 inches of water, smeared a bit of peanut butter horizontally for a few inches, just above the water line, and placed a 1×2 board up to the lip of the rim as an entry ramp for the mice. We caught six mice. Yesterday, after leaving the trailer for a week, there were no mice in the trap. There were no new droppings anywhere in the trailer.

That brings us to today, the last day of the “vacation”. Today nothing is planned. Attila is doing a lot of little things he wants to get done before he goes back to work. I am puttering, my usual kind of puttering about, going from one little task to another, like a bee wandering from bloom to bloom.

This may or may not have solved our mouse issues. I live i hope.

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Sunday 9 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 13.8°C
Dew point: 4.0°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: NE 19 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The more we do, the more we can do; the more busy we are the more leisure we have.”
William Hazlitt
1778 – 1830

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10 Responses to What I did on my summer vacation.

  1. Teri says:

    Sounds like you had a pretty good vacation! We also have this last week (and next) off. What a change in weather! We went from having the air conditionimg on a few days to having to put the heat on this morning to warm up the cottage. Now we’ve turned it down again. Thank goodness much of the rest of the week ismsupposed to be more comfortable temperatures.

    I hope this is the end of your mouse odyssey. I’m sure you’ve had more than enough of that!

    We’ve also been doing some walking, along the beach. I’m finding my feet and knees prefer walking on sand.

  2. WendyNC says:

    Maggie, I’ve followed your canning odyssey and have been truly impressed. I’ve done the cooking and milling (don’t we love our food mills!) marathons, but I have the good fortune to have a best friend with an upright freezer just down the road so haven’t had to venture into canning land. There was too much work this summer to consider such things, but perhaps next year.

    The other big advantage I see to canning over freezing is that to use what has been prepared requires planning and thawing with frozen items while the jars just have to be opened.

  3. Teri, it was the best vacation I’ve had in 25 years, lol. It was nice, I worked hard and got out a bit, which keeps me happy. Attila enjoyed himself and felt it was a real break from the gring of his job. It also gave his back and ankle some time to recover.

    The weather! Yes, it was heat wave one day, heat needed the next. Milder weather is on the way, that will be nice for your stay at the cottage.

    The mice are a menace. I have my fingers crossed that we have them at bay. In the meantime we have three traps setup here, and catch one most nights. They are seeking winter shelter right now, move on mice!

    Walking on sand, or earth for that matter, is so much easier on the body than pavement or concrete!

  4. Wendy, I am sure grateful that you suggested the food mill! Freezers are so much eaiser to use for food preservation than canning. The advantage to freezing is that what you put in, is what you get out, for the most part. With canning, the high temperature can changes things a bit. We used one jar of the Tomato Red Pepper Sauce, and it was great, so nothing changed on me there. The tomato puree however, it remains to be seen, or tasted. I added vinegar with the first dozen litres, lemon juice with the second dozen litres, and will ad citirc acid in the third batch of our garden tomatoes when they are all harvested and ready to can. This way I will be able to tell which taste and texture are preferred for our taste buds. The real advantage is that everything I can is no-sodium, such a big bonus.

    You are so right about the canned goods being handy, grab n’ go. I find it easier to see what we have as well, with the jars lined up like soldiers on the shelf. The chest freezer is a real jumble… I haven’t figured out a way to organize it yet!

  5. Birdie says:

    You have inspired me to can pears this week. My stepmom and dad gave us 8 pounds and I’m just waiting for this to arrive. https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B001DLTD1C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    My husband gleaned more apples so I will be making more applesauce. This time it will have a little more sugar and cinnamon so it’s more of a dessert.

    I have hiking poles and will not ever hike without them again. It takes the pressure off my knees. If you can borrow a set off someone to see if you like them I bet you will wonder how you ever survived without them.

  6. Birdie, I love canned pears, and canned peaches too. I prefer canning pears, because you can easily peel them, same as an apple. Peaches on the other hand, fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, and if they are nice and ripe the skins sometimes peel off in little sticky bits, yuck. Of course you can blanch peaches, then peel them, much easier, but for small batches of anything peach I usually don’t bother with the blanching.

    I have one of the those peelers! It was a wonderful farewell gift from my fellow teachers, well more than a few decades ago now. I left my position because I was married and my ex-husband got transferred far away, I went with him, mistake number one billion and one. I taught Home Ecnomics, and in the same large classroom art, pottery, and shop were taught, we teachers all worked together on themes for our clasees, it was such fun, and it was such a great team.

    I have seen people with walking poles, going down the concrete sidewalk, didn’t really see any point to that, because I couldn’t carry anything or do anything with my hands. But for hiking on trails it would make sense! I will get Attila to cut me a hiking stick from a tree branch at the Rideau Camp, I will have a hiking stick and will keep it in Tank, and perhaps second one in the car, so I will always have the option to use one. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Birdie says:

    I loved all my Home Economics teachers. My favourite was Mrs. Kennie who I thought was ancient but looking back she was probably 45 at the most. I had it in my head at 16 that I was going to marry young, which I did at 20, mistake number one billion and one for me as well and planned to have kids which I did at 25 and 27 but that was not a mistake. Anyway, I took cooking, sewing and pottery. I loved all of them. I want to get back into pottery one day.

  8. meriset says:

    I’m glad you had a restful vacation! The walks sound nice. It is still too hot here for walking, 🙂 (Although we do see the really dedicated folks out walking and biking.)

  9. Birdie, I loved Home Ecnomics, in high school and at university, I majored in food and nutrition, and minored in couturier clothing construction. That was my first degree. I loved teaching it as well, so much fun with the kids!
    I have taken up pottery twice, and loved it, particularly the hand made pottery, I am no good on the wheel and never will be! The first time I had to quit because it was too far away and I was a single Mom who needed to keep up with my kid’s schedules. The second time I tried it on my own, but lost my oomph, the ordeal of getting teh kiln setup and the expense of the hydro to fire it were a bit of a deterrent, I think I was easily deterred! I might try it again someday, but it is an expensive hobby, so we shall see how that pans out. There is nothing quite like playing with mud!

  10. Joan, It was a restful vacation! I was surprised, as I held out little hope, but sometimes good things just happen! The hikes were wonderful, I love hiking, and am so grateful I can still manage it. The heat where you are would be a real deterrent to walking and hiking! I don’t think I could ever be dedicated enough to brave the heat.