Saturday, July 14, 2018

brown thrasher

I awoke last night to the sound of a dog thrashing on the floor. I jumped up and hit the light. Kabira was on the floor with her legs splayed and unable to get up. Call Carm with urgency in my voice. I stayed with her to  keep her calm while Carm ran to the bathroom to get some mats for her feet. In a few minutes she tried to get up again and this time made it. Whew.

In those scant minutes a million scenarios went through my head and none of them were good. Did she have a stroke? She wobbled around for a few steps and then we got her down the hall and outside. She was fine. Her legs must have gone to sleep.


It was a night of interupted sleep. Later I woke up to the welcome sound of light rain on the trees outside the window. Finally! A break from the drought. I hope there was enough for the crops. Is there a sweeter sound than the patter of rain on the roof of a tent (assuming you are dry of course). I wonder if I could find a recording for those nights when sleep is elusive.

The dogs always sleep in a bit when it is raining... another reason to have a recording of raindrops ;-)

By the time the dogs and I had our walk this morning it had stopped raining, but the humidity in the air was palpable. It was just one smidgion of water away from still raining. I rejoiced in my wet shoes, although I was wearing my crocs (oh so fashionable), and do you know how slippery they are when wet? My feet were sliding inside the shoes as I made my way around the field.


The humid air caressed my limbs making them lethargic, languid and limp. The siren call of the pool urged me into it's crisp, cool, calmative waters - a balm to the heat. The contrast leaves me with a peaceful easy feeling, content with life. I feel lucky to be alive.

I watched part of a movie last night where a guy tries to kill himself... at one point he says 'I didn't want to die, I just don't want to live anymore.' I was struck by how true the words were. There have been points in my life where not living seemed the only answer, and death seemed to be the only escape. Perhaps that is why depressed people sleep so much - it is like a small death that is less permanent. At those moments I never knew that the feeling would pass and life would seem bearable again, or if I knew I didn't recognize it. Depression is a cruel deciver. Now, I know that those dark moments are temporary, and that the force to live will soon return. I just hope I remember if I am ever at that precipice again.


This is the hot/spicy anti-pasto that I've mentioned in the last few blog posts. I can't get enough of it and the oil makes a great dressing for roasted potatoes.


"I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” 
~Sylvia Plath


Friday, July 13, 2018

board

Carm and I are exceptionally good at some things, and perhaps what we are best at is project avoidance. There are countless little and big things that need doing around the house that have been around for so long they are now invisible... oh yes... we are good.

I won't name the big, obvious ones that need a paint can (or 10) to complete... those jobs are still in the someday category.

Christina, her daughter, and two young kids that she is babysitting were over for a swim last week. After the swim we gathered around the table to have a little snack. There weren't enough places to sit, and I had to stop people from sitting on the benches which have totally rotted out seats. Shame is a good motivator.


Okay. No more putting off this task so we started the work of finding the right sized wood - 2 places didn't have what we needed, the third place had something we could make work.

It's not unusual for us to get this far in a project and then meander off into some other distraction, but not this time! Carm bought the wood. Got out the measuring tape. Got out the chop saw. And got to work. I stood on the fringe and stacked slats and handed screws.

It was brutally hot on the back deck. Sweat was running everywhere and my head was starting to wobble. Thankfully we ran out of screws so had to take a break after one bench was done. POOL time! Oh the delight of cool water on a hot day! Is there any other feeling so heavenly?


Carm dashed to the store for screws and before you could blink we were done! That's one checkmark on a list of many items.


I heated up the leftover ribs last night, and threw a few baby potatoes into the actifry. It didn't take me long to whip up a batch of spicy oil dressing and of course the olives and arugula for a re-do of those scrumptious potatoes. Oh yeah. They are a dieters nightmare as the memory of them tickles the back of the brain with a chorus of 'more, more'.

This morning I made another batch of the dressing to have on hand... in case the roasted zucchini that we are having tonight prove to be too boring ;-)

Do you like your food really hot? As in temperature hot? I prefer most things room temp or slightly warm - I think the flavours are more pronounced.

A few nights ago I had it in my mind to make black beans - not black bean soup, but thick beans with only a little broth. This is one area that I have not mastered with the instant pot. I always put too much broth and end up with a soupy mess. So we had soup... on a 31C day... not summer food :-/ And of course there are leftovers for two more nights. Soup anyone?


"Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing."
~Charles Dickens


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

jeweled balm

The streak of hot weather is continuing... and from the look of the Environment Canada website there is no end in sight. And the drought continues. The grass is crispy and the field is bare except for some hardy clover and a few patches of milkweed. They must have roots like prairie grasses.


The slightly cooler weather is agreeing with the dogs. Kabira has been running around and Spike no longer walks, but always runs. Bella is more steady in her pace, although  she did run over for a treat this morning. I'm feeling more energetic too. We haven't been running any marathons, but I think our 15 to 20 minute walk is beefing us up a tiny bit.


We picked up some pork ribs a few days ago and I wanted to try them in the instant pot. Since Pat is such a willing subject we invited her over for the test. And wow, what a test! They turned out fantastic; Carm says they were the best ribs ever.

   ribs
   dry rub
   1 beer
   1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Cut ribs into sections; rub with spices and let marinate in fridge for 1/2 day (next time I'll leave them overnight); pour beer and liquid smoke into instant pot; put in trivit; put in ribs vertically, close and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. 25 min NR. Remove and lay out on baking sheet, slather with bbq sauce; broil for 5 minutes give or take until they sauce is carmelized. Done and delicious!

For a side, I roasted some potatoes in the actifry, tossed with a dressing made of some spicy oil and lemon juice, add 2 cups arugula and some chopped olives. Add chopped sundried tomatos. These were perhaps the best potatoes I've ever had.

I had found the recipe for the potatoes on the internet when I was looking for an arugla salad recipe. I was sceptical but went ahead anyway and am I ever glad I did. The little bit of extra effort paid off in spades. I can't wait to make them again.


Pat spoiled us for dessert by bringing a strawberry vanilla cake which was heavenly. I had already made the biscuits for strawberry shortcake so we had both desserts! Talk about full :8) It was no fun stepping on the scale this morning...

Detach... try to detach... try not to see the giant needle hovering over my mouth... try not to feel it pinch into my jaw... imagine sitting on the back deck and going for a swim... ha ha, not too much luck with that. So I tried writing this blog in my head. I knew I'd forget much of what I described, but for some reason trying to describe what was going on gave me the feeling of floating outside of my body with a clinical mind. Mostly.

Can you swallow while lying on your back with your mouth wide open and a frightening drill grinding at a tooth?

After over an hour in the chair I was freed... for two weeks at which point the dentist will install my new crown. I have a headache and my jaw hurts.


look at me run!


"Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world."
~Ada Louise Huxtable


Saturday, July 7, 2018

a trip back in time

We took a trip back to 2013 last night, starting with a bottle of Pinot Noir that we released from the depths of the cellar. I had schlepted it back from New Zealand in 2013, a special treat for Carm for holding down the fort while I was gone. And a special treat it was. I dug out our fancy wine glasses (it isn't right to drink a fine wine out of an Italian styled tumbler!). The ruby red liquid seemed to glow in the delicate crystal. We savored every sip.

Later in the evening I was channel surfing and saw that 'Les Miserable' was on. I knew Carm wasn't keen on the movie but tuned in anyway. He hasn't seen the movie but remembers the play which was long and insufferable, even to me. But I made him suffer as it kept with the 2013 trip to NZ theme - Kirsten and I watched it on their big screen projector and then tried to sing our way through the next day. We had lots of laughs. Oh, did I mention that it is a musical? I love the movie - possibly because I saw it there and with Kirsten, but also because it is a great movie, perhaps one of my favorites. It isn't at all the sort of movie I would expect to love as it is dark and gritty, but there are so many interesting and compelling themes throughout the movie.

Anyway, Carm suffered through a big portion of it - emersed in the newest copy of 'The Economist' to shield himself from the never-ending singing. To his credit, he didn't complain once.


We had a delishously cool night last night. The window was open and a refreshing breeze was buffeting the curtains. What a treat after days of stuffiness. I'll bet my friends with no a/c were delighted to have a good sleep!


The fencerows are a riot of tall grasses and wild flowers, some not so nice (wild parsnip), while others are like white lace (Queen Anne's Lace). Bits of colour intermingle. I meandered around the yard looking for blooms to include in a little posy to decorate the coffee table - a little bit of summer captured in a jar. Sure, there is the odd bug, but those are easily taken care of.


The pool was a full 10F colder than it was two days ago - there was a time (two weeks ago), that 80F would be considered hot... today it was just shy of 80 and it felt quite cool and very refreshing, but I couldn't help but yearn for those warmer temps. It is easy to acclimate!


"Red: the blood of angry men!
Black: the dark of ages past!
Red: a world about to dawn!
Black: the night that ends at last!"
~Les Miserables


Friday, July 6, 2018

for the record

We've had 6 days of record setting with tempretures around 35C and the humidex reaching into the mid 40s. The pool was up to 89.5 which crushes the previous record of 83. Today is a break with the temp staying in the low 20s. I've got the windows all open to flush the stuffy air in the house.

The sky is mostly cloudy and the wind is roaring... it is cold enough to make me consider changing into long pants. On our afternoon walk around the field I told the dogs that my knees were cold! What a change from the steam oven that persisted for almost a week.


Today we had people come over to clean the chimney (there was nothing to clean), and to certify the fireplace & wood stove for the new house insurance company. I figured there'd be a bunch of cleanup, but they didn't leave a speck of ash anywhere! So instead, I whipped up a batch of strawberry shortcake biscuits like the kind Cynthia and I used to make all those years ago. In fact, the Gourmet magazine with the recipe is from 1989!


I savoured every moment of those sultry days of summer. There is no guarantee that we'll have more heat before the winter falls, so we made sure to revel in each day. We have air conditioning, so it isn't a hardship to have 45C humidex - my heart goes out to those who had to suffer through the cauldron, goodness knows, I've been there myself. I remember nights of wearing a wet t-shirt to bed as the only way to keep cool. I'd fill up my bathtub with cold water and immerse myself. I never did have a fan.

These days though, the a/c keeps the house cool. This week I spent every spare moment floating in the cool (ish) waters of the pool. Yesterday I was in there for at least 2 hours through the day. The water was barely cool, in fact the house was cooler, but it felt wonderful to float around, arms draped over a pool noodle. It took no effort at all to stay afloat.


"Then followed that beautiful season... Summer....
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

squadrons

Not everything becomes somnolent with the heat... no... deerflies strengthen and multiply. As I walk around the property my head is bombarded with the nasty flying insects, teeth nashing in anticipation of their fleshy meal. I swatted one on Kabira and sent one to its grave, but not before it made a bloody smear on her back.

Occasionally an equally voracious horsefly finds us in the pool.


There was dismay in poodletown this morning when the 'table' got setup in the kitchen. Tools of torture were dragged from storage. I had planned to wait another few weeks, but with more hot days in the forecast I decided the poodles would be better off without their thick coat.

First Bella got hoisted onto the table (gosh she's heavy), and like Edward Scissorhands I got to work, tufts of hair flying about the room. Next it was Spikes turn. They both suffered in relative silence like they always do. I wondered if they felt cooler with each pass of the blade.

Sweat and tiny little hairs are not a good combination so we blasted the air conditioning for the duration. It made a difference. As soon as the job was done and everything was cleaned up I jumped into the pool to cool off (and rid myself of those pesky little hairs).

Once safely on the ground, released from the table of torture, the poodles pranced and danced. They felt good (and perhaps a bit relieved that the job was done).


A haircut in the summer always perks them up. Before, they had stopped running and playing. They panted all the time. They were miserable. After though, they run in the field, prance instead of walk, pant much less. No one could convince me that they were better off with their 'insulating from the heat' hair. I'd need some serious proof.


After that was all done, I felt that I deserved a lunch out. I had a hankering for bacon & eggs and knew exactly where to get it. Country Kitchen served up our lunch 'real quick' and we ate it just as quickly. I was starving! I hadn't had breakfast and all that work with the clippers had me hungry.

Since we were in Winchester already... we dropped into Liquidation. As luck would have it I found the shoes that I had just bought at Costco (and not worn), on sale for 30% off. I found two black skorts too. Carm found another pair of blue dressy shorts which will be great for our next cruise.


We took the backcountry, long route home so that we could get some craft beer in Casselman.


Once we were home (finally), we floated in the pool for almost 45 minutes. It is almost at bathwater temp still: 30C. Crazy warm. But it is nice to be able to drift around for ages. Sweet summer :-)


"Woods are filled with the music of birds, and all nature is laughing under the glorious influence of Summer."
~Charles Lanman


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

beauty surrounds us

I think the morning walk that I've been taking with the dogs since the hot weather has hit us is good for my mental health. Before I've even had a coffee we are out the door, dogs prancing in excitement. Their pure joy sets the tone for the whole walk. I step out the door, still a bit groggy from sleep, down the stairs to the laneway, pink flowers from the bleeding heart capturing my attention. A few steps further the faded peony blossoms guide me down the laneway towards the gate. Craggy old apple trees implore me to pause and admire their fruit.

Before I reach the gate to the road I take a turn to the left, past the giant blue spruce with its base littered with brown cones. The dogs race ahead through the small gate and into the hay field. They run around with their noses to the ground checking to see if any other creatures have trespassed. My nose is sniffing too: flowers, trees, and dried grasses scent the air, the heady fragrance causing my head to spin with euphoria.


If I am feeling energetic, and if it isn't too hot, I turn right and do the long loop around the field, but usually I turn left and take the shortcut which skirts the low end of the field, passing under tall poplars. From here, well, from everywhere, the different aspects of our property swell my heart, the pastoral beauty touching something deep inside of me. Perhaps my genes remember a similar view from the ancient past. I love it here and feel blessed in my surroundings.

As I walk the trodden path, my eyes are drawn to the wildflowers growing along the fenceline. The flowers are small, except for the Queen Anne's Lace. The small flowers make up in number what they lack in size. Bees buzz. A deerfly takes aim at my head, but the attack doesn't impact my mood.

The earth is dry and cracked from the drought. Even last nights thunderstorm didn't do much to soak the soil.


I lift my eyes and drink in the views.


This morning the bag of dog treats slipped from my pocket. When I turned around to see if the dogs were following me I could see Spike sniffing something. "Bring it!" I called out. The little devil picked up the package and trotted up to me. Hurrah! My heart swelled with love for the little stinker, and of course I fished out a treat for him :-) What a good boy!


The pool hit a record high of 87F today... luckily it wasn't as hot out today though and not nearly as muggy as the last few days.


view from the pool - having fun with waterproof camera


"The luxury of all summer's sweet sensation is to be found when one lies at length in the warm, fragrant grass, soaked with sunshine, aware of regions of blossoming clover and of a high heaven filled with the hum of innumerous bees."
~Harriet E. Prescott


Monday, July 2, 2018

slow fireworks

We ended Canada Day with a spectacular display of fireworks put on by neighbors across the river. Floating in the pool, the cool water a balm against the still hot air, we ooh'd and ahh'd as fireworks burst in the sky. They didn't last forever, but once the sky  turned a deep blue velvet, we were treated to a closer to the ground but no less spectacular display put on by hundreds of fireflies going about their business. Slow fireworks.


At 8:45 am the thermometer at the side of the house read 34C... I made sure to get the dogs out for their morning amble early, (well, early for me!). The sun glared through the humid haze. Spike took a short cut. He was wearing a 'cooler bandana' which he wasn't crazy about, but he does so poorly in the heat that I didn't want him outside without it.

As I watched the temp rise, I couldn't help but worry about Carm out on the golf course. His tee-off was before 7am but he was still out in the hot morning sun. I was glad when I heard the car come into the garage at 10:30. He wore his cooler bandana and said that it really helped him stay not so desperately hot.


thanks to Mom for the lovely pots of plants


"I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips."
~Violette Leduc


Sunday, July 1, 2018

30C at 10 am

swish, swish. pinesol. I pried my eyes open and no, I wasn't dreaming. There was Carm washing the bedroom floor at 9am - time to get up anyway. While I was dreaming he got the dog blankets into the washer, swept the house, and washed all the floors. Am I a lucky woman or what :-)

My mom was coming over for lunch and a swim this afternoon and the house hadn't seen much of a clean for ages - I was just going to close the blinds and make it a bit dim in the house so she wouldn't see the dirt... no need now. Even most of the vacuuming is done - all I had to do is run my little cordless wonder vac in the bathrooms. Oh, and race a cloth across the porcelain surface in said bathroom.


A swim was on the horizon so I got cracking and cut down a new big branch for Grace's outside cage - sweating in the process. We quickly cleaned the pool and then jumped into the slightly cool water. The water was already 80F.  By 10 am the temp outside was 30C with a humidex of 46.


Yesterday afternoon we had Pat over for supper with a swim before hand. We bobbed around the pool on our noodles for close to an hour - enough to work up a big appetite. We ate inside, but quickly went back out after the cleanup was done. The evening was perfect with narry a mosquito.

After Pat left we watched an old mystery movie and then, since summer is so short and just because we could, we went out for a final swim before bed. Oh yeah... life is good.


These days, with the sun and the green trees and the wild flowers and the cut hay and and and, it is hard to be anything but almost euphoric. Even the few anxiety attacks that I've had lately are not enough to quelch my appreciation for the beauty that surrounds me. I love our place in the summer. It isn't groomed like city lots, but the wild tangle brings me joy.


Friday, or was it Thursday, we clipped the poodles faces and down their necks and across their bellies to help them cool a bit in this hot weather. They seemed to appreciate it AFTER the torture was over, and after I ran the cold water from the hose all over them.

I've been taking them around the field a few times a day which they love. They don't run around like they used to, although Spike still likes to play the recall game when there are treats involved - he generally runs really fast for that game. Not so much the last few days though... we are all dragging our butts as we do the short loop and today was even worse. Spike trailed a few minutes behind me and was really dragging by the time he got back to the house. I swooped him up and ran some cool water on his neck and belly. He had an incredible burst of speed for a moment before I put him back in the air conditioned house.


Mom came over for the afternoon today. We gorged on sausages and salad, and then floated around the pool for ages. It is HOT... very hot. Apparently festivities at Parliament Hill wound down early due to the impossible humidex.

The humidex is now 46C at 6:30pm. Thank goodness for air conditioning.


Can you guess who this is a photo of? Is it my mom or is it me?


"In the summer time when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather's fine
You got women, you got women on your mind
Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find..."
~Mungo Jerry, 'In the Summertime'