Wildfires, Smoke, and Domestic Bliss

July 20, 2021

When I stepped out onto the porch yesterday morning, the air was hazy, heavy, and cloying. This morning the sun is attempting to shine through the haze. I can still see down the street, and across the yards, so visibility is not too bad, it is just very hazy.

The consequences of wildfires are having an immediate consequence for us here in southern Ontario. The air quality is very bad. Between the hot humid conditions and the wildfire smoke, the air is questionable enough that I dare not exert myself out of doors, and even going for a short walk presents difficulties. Yesterday, and again today, I will content myself with short forays into the garden, and sitting on the porch, while spending most of my time breathing the filtered air in the house.

We awoke Sunday morning to a silent house, the hydro had gone out. It was not restored until after lunch time. This gave me the opportunity to discover that I had very little I could eat without opening the refrigerator, or firing up the range, or microwave, or Instant Pot. Attila, who is not sodium restricted at this point in his life, can open up a can of soup, or beans, or ravioli, or something. I cannot safely eat commercially canned instant foods. My conclusion is that I need to can some sodium free soups for myself, that can be heated up in a saucepan, on the camp stove, on the porch.

Soups must be pressure canned, they are a low acid food. This morning Attila brought the pressure canner up from the basement. I began to assemble the needed ingredients for Farmer’s Soup from The Amish Canning Cookbook, ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, broth, and herbs. The salt in this recipe is omitted. I halved the recipe, reduced the amount of beef in the recipe to one third of what was called for, and added at least a quarter teaspoon of rosemary to counteract the carcinogens in the meat. I don’t like rosemary on its own, but I do like it with beef.

This was the maiden pressure canning session of the season, so I was a bit rusty. Before beginning I read through the instructions, just to make sure I didn’t forget any important steps. Pressure canning is perfectly safe, if one follows the correct techniques. All the jars sealed. I am ready for the next power outage.

Last weekend Attila harvested two Golden Acre Cabbages, they were beautiful! I shredded, blanched, drained, packaged, labeled, and froze both Cabbages for winter casseroles.

I’ve been rearranging the kitchen. When we moved here, almost six years ago, it was chaos. We had two weeks lead time to pack up our country house, rent a truck, and move all of our belongings to MIst Cottage. Mist Cottage was already partially furnished, and we had a supply of food here as well. So we moved all of our belongings from our good sized Country House, to very small partially furnished Mist Cottage. We had double of a lot of things, food items, furniture, you name it. We lived in tunnels of boxes, winding between the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bedroom.

Every since we moved here we have been purging our “stuff”. Much has been paired down to one, e.g. jars of mustard, dish detergent, consumables mostly. Much of what we own is exactly where it landed when we moved here. Over the last six years we have come to know our work patterns in the house, particularly in the kitchen. So, at last, I have begun to rearrange the kitchen storage.

I began with moving the electrical appliances around so that they could use different electrical receptacles, and thus be used at the same time. Our kitchen is the origial 1950s bare bones kitchen, there are no GIFI outlets, and it is easy to trip a breaker. A lot less forethought has to go into meal planning with the new appliance layout.

Next I moved the contents of some of the upper cabinets around so that heat sensitive items did not sit above the area where the Instant Pot is always used, and releases steam. I moved on from there to create a work space just for Attila at one end of the counter, beside the sink. Attila finds it distracting and unpleasant when I move around him to fetch things out of cupboards. The items he uses most are now in the cupboard above his usual work space, and the items I use most have been moved to a different cupboard. These small changes that have made a big difference to working comfortably together in the kitchen.

I have plans for moving the refrigerator to a new location, but that entails some rewiring, enlisting Attila’s assistance, so it will have to wait until the garden and harvest season are over this year.

Fredrick the Garden Shrew has fully recovered from his run in with the garden netting. But wait, there are little shrews running around in the garden! Perhaps Fredrick has a partner, or perhaps Fredrick is a mother. We see tiny black balls of fur streaking across the garden paths. Shrews are beneficial in a garden.

July 21, 2021

This entry was meant to be posted yesterday. At about 3:00 p.m. the skies turned dark, the wind whipped objects horizontally through the air, and rain began to pour from the heavens. The power flickered and went out, then came back on a for a few minutes, then flickered, went out, and stayed out. Electronic communication ended for the day.

The storm saw a drop in temperature, and an improvement in air quality, both were in striking contrast to the conditions just minutes before.

Out came the camp stove, and I was thrilled to have a bowl of hot home canned soup, with homemade bread, for my dinner. Attila opened up a can of commercial soup for himself. That worked out well, canning soup in the morning, and needing it for a meal by late afternoon.

Pandemic Thoughts

I’ve been surprised lately, that I need to recover from a year and a half of isolation, financial strain, and significant concern for our safety. I’ve maintained my balance throughout, and have worked hard to do that, so I didn’t expect a bumpy transition as a result of being fully vaccinated. But bumpy it is. One foot goes in front of the other as I pass through this phase of Pandemic recovery.

The significant concern for our safety was the most difficult aspect of the pandemic for Attila and I, and since we are now both fully vaccinated that concern has significantly diminished. The isolation and the financial strain remain. We will remain in isolation until the Pandemic is over, as the “yes-no-yes-no-yes-no…” yo-yo of lock downs, social restrictions, and states of emergency adjustments are just too disruptive. Carrying on with our isolation and precautions provides us some consistency in life, as we are already doing everything we can to avoid infection. The financial repercussions of the Pandemic are long term for us, so we will be dealing with that for years to come, and may never fully recover. We lived to attempt recovery though, which is a very good start.



Updated on Tue, Jul 20, 6:55 AM
18 °C
Wind 6 W km/h
Humidity 99 %
Visibility 7 km
Sunrise 5:42 AM
Wind gust 9 km/h
Pressure 101.2 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 8:45 PM
UV 8 Very High
Pollen Low
Special Air Quality Statement
Issued at 04:52 Tuesday 20 July 2021
Possible high levels of air pollution due to smoke from ongoing forest fires.
Smoke from active forest fires in northwestern Ontario has moved over southern Ontario. Elevated particulate matter levels and hazy conditions have been reported at several stations. Reduced visibilities and deteriorating air quality are possible if the smoke descends to ground level.
Conditions are expected to improve later today with the passage of a cold front.
If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
For more details, please consult www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-quality-health-index/wildfire-smoke.html.
Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.
Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.
Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Updated on Wed, Jul 21, 6:45 AM
14 °C
Partly cloudy
TOP STORYAir quality improves across southern Ontario, but at the cost of some DAMAGING severe storms.
Wind 4 NW km/h
Humidity 98 %
Visibility 21 km
Sunrise 5:43 AM
Wind gust 7 km/h
Pressure 101.3 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 8:44 PM


“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”
Joseph Conrad
1857 – 1924

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Joan Lansberry

We in Yuma are not near any fires, but because there are EIGHTY fires burning in the American West (along with however many burning in Canada), I smell smoke in the air. My eyes which are always dry in the best of conditions require even more applications of eye drops. I fear greatly for our world, because government and business leaders did not heed the warnings of the scientists back in the 70s. But I’m learning a kind of adaptation, “What will be, will be.” Hopefully, at some point whatever humans survive the fires, floods and pandemics will start making better policy decisions. I won’t give up hope. (Yes, Julia and I have continued to mask in indoor settings where we can’t be assured that everyone present have been vaccinated.) Just too many anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers about.

I hope your power holds more steady, and am glad you at least have accessible food for the times it does not. <3


They said on the new today that smoke from wildfires in the western US have reached the east coast. Air quality is very poor in some areas. Although fully vaccinated, I still mask up when I go indoors with people I don’t know. Every weekend I go out with a friend to some destination to try to get more comfortable being with people. We’ve been to several restaurants and last week went to NW Illinois where there are actual hills We’re still cautious because of the variants out there. But I’m relaxing a bit more when I leave the safety of my home. Stay safe, Maggie, Jan, and all!!

Eileen C Barton

I live on the east coast of the United States and the haze from the wildfires has reached us. The air quality index was pretty high but thankfully has dropped quite a bit since this morning. Stay safe, everyone!