CDR for August 13, 2020 – Thursday – brisket and other cooking adventures

We got a brisket – a whole one – today, on sale at a local grocery. And as well, a pork loin – a whole one – also on sale. I don’t know where this meat is going to fit in the freezer, but we made a rub for the brisket, cut it in roughly fourths, and vacuum-sealed it. It’s going to be cooked using sous vide, and it takes about 48 hours in a sous vide bath to cook. This is difficult to wrap one’s brain around. But we are taking a piece with us to the cottage tomorrow. We’ll eat it Sunday evening. You will have to stay tuned for more news on this.  The pork loin was cut in thirds, and I stuffed one of them for dinner, and we vacuum-sealed the other two.

Yesterday I cooked a batch of sous vide cheesecakes using ½ cup canning jars. That was a success, but it takes a bit of time first to get the water bath to 190F and to keep it there for 60 minutes. You also must cover the water vessel or too much heat escapes. I also made bread, this time with the bread flour Stuart found last week.  The bread flour made a big difference to the texture, the rise, and the oven spring.

Yesterday was also a day free from Zooms, and we went for a ride as well as some shopping. We ended up at Carleton Place for lunch, which we had on the patio of the Grand Hotel.

CDR for August 11, 2020 – Tuesday – another look at the knitting, and some face masks

These are the 9 masks I completed today.

And I gathered together the 4 pairs of slippers I completed so far for a group shot. The light blue ones are Stuart’s and he does not want pompoms on his.

Be well. Stay safe. Stay in the game.

CDR for August 10, 2020 – Monday – still working on yesterday’s to-do list – and Finished Object

I had to decide whether this is an early post for Tuesday or a late post for Monday. I’m going with the latter.

It’s going to be a warm and humid day today with thunderstorms and rain. Yesterday was a warm and humid day with thunderstorms and rain. I cooked and cleaned and organized and worked on French and piano. Not too much piano, because the keyboard is in the den, and every time I walk into the den I see the pile of paper shredding to be done and get hooked on shredding.

Last night I finished these slippers – pompoms are my best pompoms yet, nice and puffy:

Marijka, our hostess last weekend, mentioned making a brown rice and black bean recipe in her Instant Pot. She said it was good and one recipe made a gracious plenty. I searched for a recipe, found one, found all the ingredients on the pantry shelf in the basement, and made up a batch. I followed the recipe – pretty close, anyway, substituted fresh tomatoes for a can of diced tomatoes – and had lunch (for several weeks) finished in a 30 minutes (plus pressure-up time and pressure-down time.) I like it better than Stuart does, but he likes his rice white and fluffy.

The tomatoes are starting to come ripe. The first of our two plants has tiny red tomatoes that come to a point on the bottoms. The second has ping-pong ball sized fruits that are yellow when ripe. I pick any tomato that shows some color, because I want to eat them rather than feeding the critters. The squash are continuing to grow wildly, but one of the spaghetti squash vines appears to be dying. I speculate it might be bug damage (squash borers?) and hope the rest of the vines are not affected.

Be well. Stay safe. I am going to work on finishing my to-do list from yesterday before I start a to-do list for today.

CDR for August 9, 2020 – Sunday – now that I am an elder

On Friday we drove to southern Ontario, first stopping at Belleville to visit Barry and Bonnie. Barry has a large garden railroad layout in their back yard comprising 100’s of feet of track, dozens of switches, plus buildings, figures, a large waterfall fountain, tunnels and trestles. He set up some train operation sheets for us, so we could experience the layout. Of course we all had a good chat and a tour of the gardens, too, and Bonnie gave me several milkweed seed pods that I will dry and try to plant.

We then drove to Rosebush on the Trent River, where we stayed Friday and Saturday night with Marijka and Alan, the parents of Stuart’s son-in-law. Now we are home in Kanata with dozens of photos of Barry’s railroad, the Trent River and canal locks, the sculpture garden at Huff winery, and of course of our family and their cats.

Be well. Stay safe.

CDR for August 6, 2020 – Thursday – 21 masks

It was a very busy day. We went to Aquatopia for a birthday gift. We got some wine for a weekend visit. We got 6 more deck blocks for the garden layout. We picked up the laser level a friend had borrowed. And more errands like that.

While we were out, Gail, one of the Juliets, dropped off more than a dozen ½ cup canning jars for me, along with a newspaper clipping about mask making, a card, and two microwave bowl holders. So kind!

I assembled 21 masks this evening, which involves making and pressing 3 pleats, then stitching on a tie string at each corner while topstitching the mask and stitching down the pleats. I use Stuart’s mother’s old Singer for stitching the pleats because the small Elna Lotus doesn’t quite have enough weight to punch the needle through all the layers of fabric in the pleats. I was trying to sew while cooking dinner, so of course I ruined dinner. But that’s a one-off, right?

Tomorrow we are off to visit a friend in Belleville who has a garden railroad layout, and then on to the Trent to visit relatives for the weekend.

Be well. Stay safe. Hang in there.

CDR for August 5, 2020 – Wednesday – bottling day

Today was the appointed day to bottle our wine – a pinot grigio we “made” at Premium Vintages (see June 23 CDR). It turns out the hardest and most time consuming part of making wine is washing the old bottles. First, we went to the neighborhood hardware store for a bottle brush because that’s one thing our kitchen doesn’t have. Unfortunately, the bottle brush we obtained we should have skipped. It was too short and had an unfortunately useless curl at the tip. As a result, it took more than a couple of hours to clean 3-dozen-minus-one wine bottles.

Result #1: Our household has a new rule: wine bottles are washed when they are emptied and then the mouths of the bottles are wrapped with plastic. Dried-on wine dregs are a PITA.

Result #2: We brought 3-dozen-minus-3 bottles to the Premium Vintages at 5 PM tonight for filling and corking – two bottles were stubbornly gunked up with wine sediment – or something.

The store manager (Mark, I think) sterilized our bottles and racked them. He then showed us how to fill the bottles – but ended up filling them all himself anyway. The corking contraption is the silver tube, and between the two of us we corked them, and then put on the plastic sleeves. The sleeves were heat-shrunk to the bottles with a heat gun (looks like a hair dryer).

We ended up with 29 and a half bottles. We drank the half bottle tonight with our dinner. It was drinkable. We also purchased a real bottle brush while we were there. It was $6. The shrink caps were $3.

Next, we need to make some labels – date, type, and appellation. For the latter, I am considering Agate Bay, Laughing Loons, or Devil Track.

Later this evening, I cut several dozen mask fronts and linings while listening to a Zoom sponsored by the Maryland Women’s Democratic Club about sentencing juvenile offenders to life in prison. Some states have a mandatory judicial review of these life sentences after a certain duration of time – 20 years, 15 years, 25 years. Other states, including Maryland, have juvenile offenders incarcerated with no possibility of parole, ever. Since people change over time and juveniles’ brains are scientifically not mature, there is reason to think that there should be some kind of review of cases to find out whether the incarcerated person can be released to and contribute to civilian society. Juveniles who are sentenced to life without parole have generally done terrible things. Life without parole, institutionalized vengeance, makes some people feel better about that. But there are costs, to the individual, the individual’s family, the society that could be getting meaningful contributions from the individual, and the tax payer footing the annual bill for upkeep of the individual (and that’s between $30,000 and $60,000 per year – equivalent to a firefighter’s or teacher’s salary, for example.)

It was an interesting presentation.

Be well. Stay safe. Carry on.

CDR for August 4, 2020 – Poor internet – my excuse

We have been away at the chalet. The internet there was abysmal, worse than usual, just enough going for one person to be on social media (or for a Zoom conversation.) I gave up on the idea of uploading photos and bagged genealogy research altogether.

We happened to go to the chalet on the Long August Weekend, and we happened to be there after the heat wave broke. Saturday’s weather was great. I sewed and pressed mask fabric on the deck, and in the evening, we had dinner-on-the-deck at Brenda and Koos’s chalet. We got corn on the cob for dinner at the local farmers’ market. The favored corn variety for corn on the cob around here is Peaches and Cream – the variety that has both yellow and white kernels.

On Sunday, it rained, pretty much all day long. We had a Zoom breakfast with friends in Ottawa. We went to Mass at St Isidore. We watched the Formula 1 race at Silverstone in England. The end of the race was very exciting – the lead racers’ tires began disintegrating. Lewis Hamilton, who races for Mercedes, held the lead for most of the race but was hampered from getting a big lead by several yellow flag periods where all cars had to maintain their position behind the safety car. He was on circuit 50 and his tire was blistering. It was almost completely off the rim when he crossed the finish line first. His team mate Valterri Botta had the same problem, but was less lucky. His tire fell completely off and his car ended up in the gravel.

After the Formula 1 race (and lunch) we watched the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft land in the Gulf of Mexico. (The photo shows the 4 parachutes deflating.) At 4 PM we had a family visit with Colorado, Connecticut and Pennsylvania family.

Monday morning the rain continued, but around noon it was clear enough for a walk. The milkweed plants are no longer flowering. We saw many with beautiful green seed pods. We didn’t see caterpillars, but saw several monarch butterflies.

Now we are back in Ottawa. It has been raining intermittently all day.

That’s my story. I’m sticking with it.

CDR for July 31, 2020 – Friday – Concrete tulip

Today is the eve of the August Long Weekend – also known as the Civic Holiday – in Ontario and several other provinces. The actual long weekend runs Saturday through Monday, but have gotten a jump on it, leaving for the chalet at noon. We are lucky to have an escape to the wilderness available to us. It has been hot for the past few weekends, so we have not been here for a few weeks. This weekend it will be warm during the day, and cool at night, and should be a great time to be here.

In years when we are not having a pandemic, this long weekend would include a corn roast on the beach and at least a bit of partying with friends and neighbors. We plan to have a quiet, physically distanced porch dinner with another couple, and hope that it will involve fresh corn we will obtain at the local farmer’s market tomorrow.

We spend several hours on the deck this afternoon. I put up the ironing board and pressed mask ties, so I have quite a pile of them ready to be stitched. I plan to do some sewing and cutting to make mask components while here this weekend, and then do the assembly in Ottawa. The bug in the photo was crawling on our large patio table on the deck. I tried google-matching for its name. It very well might be a stink bug nymph.  Who knew they could be so attractive? The stink bugs I have met in the past are brown and not particularly shiny or cute.

The concrete tulip is from outside an ice cream shop in Stittsville, encountered on a walk. It may have something to do with Ottawa tulip festival, or maybe someone likes making concrete sculptures.

Stuart tested one of the cut off pieces 4 by 4s we picked up from Kathleen and Sam’s – left over bits from their fence project – in one of the deck blocks and has declared it to be just the right height for our backyard train layout. Maybe we will work on that next week. We plan to return to Ottawa on Tuesday.

Be well. Stay safe. Bonne nuit, mes amis.

CDR for July 29, 2020 – Wednesday – the March Central Line layout begins

Most of the things on my list got pushed forward to tomorrow’s list, but that’s fine because we got a completely unlisted project started. And that is very exciting.

To start with, we had a discussion (another discussion) about setting up a test layout, to wit, a circle laid around the big maple tree. This would test the use of the post-in-block supporting a 2 by 8 board on which the track is laid. We want to storyboard how high we will want the track “deck”, how we will be able to support the posts in the blocks, etc.

First, we know we have a 20 foot in diameter circle of track in 16 sections + 2 extra sections. And we thought we could put that circle around the tree. Well, Stuart walked that out with a tape measure, and a 20-foot diameter circle of track would fill half the space in the back yard, with no room to walk around it. Hm. Sometimes a layout in your mind is a lot bigger than the layout can be on the ground. It turns out that a 10 foot radius would work quite well.

Stuart researched sources. It turned out that Hugh, who has a local shop that caters mostly to the smaller gauge modelers, had a box of G-gauge 10-foot circle track on his shelf at a reasonable price. We bought it, along with some track clips – good in several ways, including giving Hugh, a local small business, a good sale for the day, and giving us the track in hand without having to wait for it or pay for shipping.

So, what next? We needed deck blocks. These are concrete squares with slots in them to hold 4 by 4s. We found them at Home Hardware in Stittsville. We bought 6. They are heavy and we didn’t want to overload the Crosstrek. We’ll need more. It’s a start. We brought them home. Stuart got them out of the trunk. We had lunch.

What next? Well, we are going to need some 2 by 8 pressure treated boards for the surface that the track will be laid on. Stuart did procurement research. There are no places nearby that have pressure treated 2 by 8 boards.  We went back to the lumber yard at Stittsville because we’d seen they had 2 by 8 by 14 foot boards (when we bought the deck blocks). Well, they had already sold the 2 by 8 by 14 foot boards in the 2 hours since we had last been there. There is a huge demand for pressure treated wood this year because everyone is not travelling, and everyone is therefore deciding to build decks and stuff. Pressure treated lumber is like bread flour. Well, maybe it is a little easier to find the lumber. Not sure about that.

But wait. We found out that Stittsville HH had 2 by 8 by 16-foot boards. So, we bought four of them and had them cut to 8-foot lengths. This is not the most economical way to buy 8-foot boards, unless it is the only way available to buy 8-foot boards. 8-foot long boards just fit in the Crosstrek. We got them home, unloaded and moved to the back yard without incident and even moved three of the six heavy deck blocks to the back.

Since then, it has rained heavily, and I needed to get dinner fixed and some mask fabric pressed. Tomorrow, we may be able to pick up another 6 blocks, and we plan to visit Kathleen and Sam’s house to pick through their off-cuts from their fence-making project. There are some small lengths of 4 by 4s that we can use.

All right. That is today’s story.

Be well. Stay safe. If you can start a new project or something, that might be fun for you. And it’s ok to push things to tomorrow’s list.

CDR for July 28, 2020 – Tuesday

One problem we’ve been dealing with here is that my medications are running very low. You would think it would not be a problem to get medications in this country, but it is. So, it was quite a relief to learn I could get three of my four prescriptions written. The physician I am dealing with is concerned about liability coverage, and told me physicians can’t accept new patients right now because of the dramatic increase in paperwork since the pandemic has changed their practice.

Another problem we are dealing with is residency status and taxation status. Today we talked with a CPA who does tax filing for both countries. She had a lot of very useful information and advice, and now we have a plan.

We walked today, and I studied French and piano and did some banking. Stuart got wire for the locomotive he’s working on. And we got the beer we ordered. We got a case of 24 Wayne Gretzky tall cans. I don’t recall having a rye lager before, so this will be interesting.

Be well. Stay safe. Keep it between the lines.