Monday, 16 May 2022

Catching Up - Mon. May 16

 Things have been quite busy lately. I did a lot of supply (substitute) teaching these past couple of weeks - all good experiences. The rip-apart-the-house-and-live-once-again-in-a-state-of-chaos insulation project continues. 

When I retired last year, my co-workers gave me a much appreciated gift certificate to a local green house / garden centre. I decided on Mother's Day to go with my two offspring and purchase two fruit trees. I bought a pear tree and an apple tree. They are both a decent size and already budding out into little leaves. Son helped me plant both of them this weekend. One hole with "easy" to dig (that was for the pear), and the other hole with not so fun. The ground was very hard and dry, so we put the hose to it and let it soak for a while so it would be easier to dig out. Son encountered many stones (anywhere from bigger than your head to bigger than your fist). I put lots of lovely compost in the hole and the apple tree got planted. It isn't staked yet, but we will do that later today, hopefully. Both trees have had a steady rain falling on them since last night.

I had cleaned out the chicken coop and spread the contents over my vegetable garden. I rototilled in two different directions, pulled out the loosened weeds, then sprinkled granular fertilizer over the whole lot and raked that in. I want a productive garden this summer. The price of groceries is ridiculous.

On Friday, I drove to a city about 2 1/2 hours away, same one where my siblings all live now, and attended a funeral for a cousin of mine. All my cousins are older than me. She was ill with cancer and made the decision to have an assisted death when the time was right for her. I was able to see three of her four siblings, cousins I haven't seen in about three years or more (we don't regularly get together). Everyone has aged tremendously and are in various states of turmoil in their lives. I came away from the day feeling very normal. 

Husband is in the process of just starting the proceedings of "opening up the pool" in addition to continuing the insulation project. We will be cleaning out our old yucky basement (our house is about 120 years old so perhaps you can imagine) this week so that those proceedings (part of the insulation project) can also begin. 

This week I will be taking our Scooter cat to a pet place to get him "groomed". If Joanne is reading this, she may be able to relate. Scooter is a long-haired cat and this year, for some reason, he has become incredibly matted about his hind quarters. He's never been like this before. He's a skittish, squirmy fellow and I hope / pray that the lady is able to perform the task of an over all trim and then a severe buzzing down to the skin on his matted areas. He is going to look atrocious but at least the weather is warm now, so I don't have to worry about him being too cold without all his long fur. If I can take a picture, I'll post is later. Poor guy.

Murphy continues to be himself, hanging out with the hens (I think they have deemed him an honorary chicken), leaning against things, and lord help me, bringing a small snake into the house which I had to transport outside, as I was the only one home at the time. 

The rain is falling outside still this morning, giving me and my back a reprieve from gardening and yard tasks for now. I hope you all have a contented week this week. It is the "long weekend" in May here in Canada coming up (also known as the Victoria Day weekend, and for some of a certain age, the "May Two-Four Weekend). We will be having a giant outdoor / car port sale of husband's various British car parts. He has decided that he is done with that side hustle and has advertised the sale for a couple of weeks now. I hope many people show up and take as many things away with them as possible!

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Junk drawer overload

 Today one task on my list was to do a deep purge of the all mighty junk drawer in the kitchen. I threw out the multiples of restaurant menus, tested every single one of the double A batteries that were floating around without a home, threw out the handful of various screws, nails, and other fasteners ( trust me when I say there are plenty more in the garage), and gathered all the tape in one location. 

But then there were these:


Can anyone else relate???

Monday, 25 April 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022

 Time marches on. The temperature yesterday was 24 degrees celsius. Glorious. However, as I was doing some yard work, I realized my body is not used to this. I changed into lighter clothing and still had to take multiple sit down breaks. Not to worry, it's going to snow on Wednesday, so I won't have to concern myself with over heating. 

Husband continues to plug away at the "insulation / reduce the bleeding of money to heat this old house" project. Here is a new picture to show the next stage:


Framing and insulation has occurred. (Ceiling and floor will also be happening, this is a multi-multi-multi-step endevour).

Regarding the foxes, I have not seen mom or babies for a few days now. I read that mother foxes sometimes move their young two or three times, so perhaps that is what has happened. 

I went for my first bone density scan the other day. My previous, now retired doctor never ordered one for me, regardless of my lower back issues and diagnosis of osteoarthritis in my lower back. When the nurse practitioner took over patients for a six month period, she ordered a whole bunch of routine tests, including this bone scan (for which I waited four months, I think). I got my results this morning. Yes indeed I have osteoarthritis in my lower back and also in the "neck" of my femur (looked it up, it's at the top, where it connects to the hip). Well, that would explain all of my pain and problems. So now I increase my calcium and vitamin D intake, even though I've always been a regular consumer of calcium and have taken vitamin D pretty consistently over the last several years. Also, this is hereditary and I recall my mother taking calcium in her later years. Menopausal women also basically leach calcium as estrogen subsides. Yay, us!!

Our daughter finally, finally, finally gets to walk across a stage at university and celebrate her well earned graduation with a degree in Communications. She's already been employed full time in her field for over a year now, but of course with the whole pandemic thing, she, along with many others, never got to graduate in person with her course mates. She only gets to have two extra guests. Her long time boyfriend is writing an exam for a course he has been taking this same day, so husband and I get to go and watch this event. 

Son is now done his college course and we will be helping him move home this coming weekend. He has a big pickup truck and we have an SUV, so hopefully we will manage this all in one trip, as it is about three hours away. It will be odd having a "child" at home again, but I'm happy that he will be able to save some money and try to do some earning before striking out on his own. He's twenty-two years old. When I was that age, I was still in university. Of course, I had grade 13, which doesn't exist now. As well, I and most of my peers thought getting a university degree was the necessary next step after high school. I did a four year combined honours BA, followed by a year of teacher's college to get my B. Ed. But that was thirty years ago. Our son saw how many people were going to university only to not get jobs, or to then turn around and go to college AFTER university to get some sort of employable skill. He had no desire to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. which all require degrees, but instead wanted to get out there and make money. We have a huge nuclear power plant relatively close by and he found out what he needed to do to get a future job there and did it. He still has some steps to take in order to fulfill his final career choice, but he's on his way. And if he is successful, he may earn more than husband or I ever could have imagined as teachers. I wish him all the success and he's never been one to be afraid of hard work, so I have a lot of confidence that he will be fine in this world.

On a final note, our strange little cat Murphy has decided that he enjoys hanging out with the chickens from time to time. They don't even seem to care! 



Oh, also, has anyone noticed that things look different when you try to leave a comment on someone's blog? Ughhh, Blogger, just leave things alone. Anyway, have a lovely day. Let me know how your bone density is and if you are also having sun / snow /sun / snow. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Easter and the Deconstruction 2022

 Good morning. Our Easter celebrations will be our little group again - myself, husband, daughter and boyfriend, son, and mother-in-law. Sometimes we do extended family, but this year, my sister is trying to keep covid-free for upcoming leg surgery (which has been postponed countless times due to fabulous health care), and one brother and his wife and daughter all caught covid recently. They are all fine for the most part. 

I have a pre-stuffed cook-from-frozen turkey, which is, in my opinion, the best and easiest way to make a roast turkey. Daughter is bringing a carrot cake. I said I wouldn't be doing Easter treats because 25 and 22 year-olds do not need chocolate bunnies and an Easter egg hunt. However, I ended up caving because it's Easter, so there are a few little treats! 

Yesterday I ventured into Walmart and it was un flipping real!! Keep in mind, Friday was a holiday where stores were closed. Today is a holiday where stores are closed. So Saturday was that day sandwiched in between where everyone is running out getting what they need for their kids' Easter or for a holiday meal, or whatever other incredibly necessary items that need to be procured from Walmart. (Yes, that includes me, but in my defense I did substitute teaching on Wednesday and Thursday this week, so was somewhat busy). I have NEVER seen it that busy, ever! Just navigating through the isles was a lesson in patience and the line for the check-outs went past the front of the women's clothes, past the front of the produce area and down into housewares! But I got those gold-wrapped Lindt chocolate Easter bunnies on sale!!

I've been continuing to rake and pick up the many spruce cones and other branches that have come down from the many wind storms this winter in our yard. I'm pacing myself so as not to wreck my back. Alas, we had wind warnings and extremely high winds just two days ago and now the front lawn and flower beds are strewn with spruce cones again and more branches have come down. Oh well, keeps me limber. 

We have something exciting/worrying in our little neighbourhood. In the last couple of weeks we have seen a fox in the "field" next to our property, as well as running through the neighbour's yard and along a line of downed trees and rocks. It is exciting to see such a beautiful, wild creature and I know that "urban" foxes are not rare (although I would hesitate to call our end of this tiny village urban). I researched to see if it would be a problem for our cats and no, usually foxes don't bother with cats or in rare instances will take a kitten or an old, weakened cat. The issue is of course, my chickens. In all the years that I have kept chickens I have never had a fox take a hen. Their chicken run is fenced , but not covered. As well, during one of our many wind storms, a big tree came down (Manitoba maples, grrrr!) and partially crushed part of the fence. The chickens still stay inside the enclosure, but it would be nothing for a fox to climb over (even without it being crushed). The fox has seen us and usually starts to run away, so it knows we humans are here. 

However, yesterday, as we were on our upstairs landing, looking out the windows (more on that later!!!), I saw the fox and watched it for a while. On the neighbouring property, there is a very small, very old barn. There is nobody living there now. The fox was behind that barn, and has been seen there before. Low and behold, I saw young ones! At first I thought there were three, but then noticed a fourth. The fox is a female and they were playing around her and stopping to nurse now and then. Oh boy! It's going to be an interesting rest of the spring and summer!

Now, onto the deconstruction. Our house is old. Not old by European standards but old, around 130 years old. It is double brick construction. Some parts have been renovated and some parts haven't. With the price of heating going up and up and up, as well as the price of everything else, we decided we had to act this year on doing some serious insulating in key parts of the house. Our old basement will be tackled in about a month's time. Right now, husband has been working on the upstairs landing. It has always been a cold part of the house. He has now ripped out all the lathe and plaster from the walls. Here are some pictures of what has been happening.




In the above picture, you can see the little old barn in the neighbouring yard. There is where the fox has her den. 


In this picture, above, the lathe and plaster is now gone and you can see the inside layer of brick in some areas. There are a couple spots where you can see daylight! No insulation here!


This picture gives you an idea of the "front landing" It juts out a bit from the house (same configuration on the first floor) with two windows facing front and a window on each side. The hideous blue carpeting will be ripped up later for in-floor heating, so it doesn't matter how dirty it gets. 


These neat old square nails were used in the bigger vertical boards. 


I'm no stranger to renovation and dust and chaos. This is a multi-step, multi-project endeavour with husband doing most or all of the work. I'll keep you posted on the progress. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Noon Walkabout - April 5th

 Today is pleasantly sunny and mild. It is currently 8 degrees celsius (46 fahrenheit) and I was doing a bit of raking. I am trying not to be foolish and do too much at once, so I don't end up in lower back pain world, but it doesn't take much for me to feel it again. I am getting terribly lazy with keeping up with my physio exercises at home. Note to self: don't be a fool.

After raking, I thought I'd talk a walk around with my phone (i.e. camera) and show you some signs of Spring here in Ontario.

In the first pictures, you will see "snow crocus" in pretty yellow and purple colours. They are usually ahead of all others.



Next are the first little nubs of rhubarb. This plant is years and years old and always produces well. It's silly really because I still have bags and bags of frozen rhubarb and I only make a couple of different rhubarb desserts, but it's a shame to waste it. Now that I'm not working full time, I can't even bring in bundles for other people. 



This next picture is one of my two tiny cluster of snowdrops. I used to have more, but over the years they have diminished and pushed back under the tree line. I never planted them, they are remnants of previous owners.




I have purple crocus in other flower beds. They too probably need replenishing. Almost every year they get snowed on. We shall see for this year.


My tulips are pushing their way up. Daughter's birthday is May 3 and when she was little we always associated tulips with her birthday.


Finally, it wouldn't be Spring without raking. We have a very old, very large Norway Spruce on one side of our house and a very old, very large Blue Spruce on the other side. They always drop cones (the Norway Spruce much more and bigger cones) and with the many high winds we have had, countless branches from other trees have come down as well. I rake into piles and then go around and load them up in the Gorilla Cart. Rakings get burned in the burn barrel (which is actually half of an old oil tank from the basement so it holds much more). I started raking a few weeks ago in a mild spell, but of course, we have windy storms since then, so I need to rake again and add to the piles.



Here is another view of the same part of the property. Notice the scary lean on that arbour! It is also years and years old and has rotted at the bottom and parts have come away, so it is on the list of outdoor projects. It will be ripped down completely and we will just have the rail fence. I will cut back the trumpet vine that currently crawls up the arbour. The arbour may get replaced, it may not. There are always projects to be done at this old house. 


And finally, it wouldn't be an outdoor moment without Murphy. Here he is enjoying the sunshine on the back porch with me. He is adorable, but also a royal pain when I'm trying to rake. Everything is a toy!


I hope you are having a sunshiny day wherever you are. 

Saturday, 2 April 2022

April 2, 2022

 I thought perhaps it was time for a new header photo, so I turned and took a picture of Murphy stretched out, upside down on the bed beside me. 

What have I been up to? Yesterday I finished my sixth day of supply teaching in a row. I was filling in for a sweet previous co-worker who was away for six days, so I worked Friday to Friday in her grade 4/5 class. 

I am completely wiped. I was going to do a blog post on the destruction of innocence where I was going to bemoan the need of cell phones for ten-year-olds, sexualization of young girls with their midriff baring tops, and complete and utter lack of respect toward adults. I was going to write about entitlement and the need to always question and negotiate. I was going to write about the lack of wanting to please, or take pride or even be present. 

I realized that that would only be focusing on some of the students, but I would be leaving out the good ones, the sweet ones, the funny ones, the ones who are self-conscious or shy or kind or confident. Those kids still exist, but honestly are becoming the minority. None of the previous issues mentioned is any fault of the regular teacher. This group has always been like this. I know, I've seen them go through the grades over the past six years or so (kindergarten and up).

My messages to the world would be these: Parents, please stop dragging your children into your adult problems.   Parents, please be their parents and not their friends.    And finally, parents, "no" is a perfectly acceptable answer and you do not have to cave after any amount of sulking or whining or temper tantrums.


On a completely different note, if you ever notice the unmistakable and ever growing smell of decomposing mouse in your house and it is in an area where you have a chest freezer, there is a good possibility that a mouse has crawled into the recess at the back of the freezer where the motor is housed and where there is a small vent at the side and you will need to use a long grabber tool to extract said mouse whilst trying hard not to gag on the stench and at the same time cursing putting in a cat flap. Just saying.


Because one must discuss weather, we have had everything from warm sun, to dangerously high winds, to snow flurries, to diagonal rain, to freezing rain in the past week. Half expected to wake up to either hail or a double rainbow this morning.


Finally, this weekend I do not have lofty goals. I will change out the chicken water (still using their heated water bucket just in case), I will read, and I really have a hankering for fish and chips because Joanne wrote about eating it in her blog and that planted the idea in my head. I will add to this if this happens this weekend.