An Unwanted Guest

Last week Florian left the basement door open for a few minutes, just long enough for a mouse to  sneak in the open door. I saw it and chased it with a broom, but of course it disappeared under the pantry door which is located under the stairs and refused to come out. Then in the night I heard a racket in the kitchen and I got up to see what all the commotion was and when I turned on the light a mouse sprinted across the room and squeezed its tiny body under the gap between the door and fled the scene to the basement.

The next day I placed three mouse traps in strategic locations to catch this uninvited guest. Two days later and still no mouse in my traps, but some signs that it (hopefully only one visitor) is enjoying its new home.  By now, I started to panic and decided the best  solution was a cat.  

I went to see a neighbor who has a few strays hanging out near his place and instead of bringing home a mature cat that could actually catch a mouse I brought home an adorable baby kitten.

The little monkey has no manners and follows me constantly. He is not allowed on the sofa or chairs, but he keeps trying to climb on them and I have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he stays off the furniture. He doesn’t want to go outside and play like a normal kitten. No, he just wants to stay inside and torment me.

I made him some toys to keep him busy and out of trouble. He plays with them sometimes, but I am convinced that he prefers to annoy me.   If he continues to demand constant attention I might lock him in the basement for a week with the mouse!

DIY toy made of wood, an old hanger, some twine, and a jiffy pot.


DIY house made out of a cardboard box.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Winter is my least favorite season, but it is a long, cold reality in Canada. I find fresh snow beautiful when it covers the trees and landscape around me, but I still struggle to enjoy this season.

It is snowing again!

It is snowing again!

This winter I have made an effort to appreciate it by cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. When I force myself out the door to go for a walk, a run or go skiing my mood immediately improves. However, when it doesn’t snow and the temperatures dip below zero I look out the window and see the dull, dirty snow in the yard I simply want to hibernate in my cabin and wait for spring. Golden Tips also likes lounging in the cabin rather than going out with his new scarf to enjoy the winter.

Tips wearing his new scarf.

Tips wearing his new scarf.

The positive news is that the deer are hanging out around our place and this is a sign that spring is just around the corner.

I spotted these deer yesterday.

I spotted these deer yesterday.

Another deer going for a stroll in the afternoon.

Another deer going for a stroll in the afternoon.

This is my take on the weekly photo challenge, and now Golden Tips is going out with me for a walk in the snow before it changes to rain – another sign that spring is on its way. 

From the Cubicle to the Cabin

I packed up my cubicle in July and returned to Canada. Although I don’t miss my tiny cubicle I sometimes long for all the free time I had there. In my cubicle I often struggled to fill my day with tasks and activities whereas now I strive to find the time to do all the things I want to do. There is always something that needs to be done at my cabin and I find little time for blogging.

During the summer I finally completed the abandoned building that I started renovating in the  summer of 2014 to use as a mini-gym. I used pine boards for the walls and ceiling and then painted them with a clear veneer. I painted the floor with some leftover gray paint that someone gave me instead of putting down a new laminate floor as I originally planned. Then I put a fold-up tatami matt that I got in South Korea about fifteen years ago in the center of the room as a rug. Then I decided to transform it into a mini-yoga studio and a place to practice my hobbies instead of a room for my treadmill.

The building is a bit bare, but eventually I hope to furnish and decorate it. For starters, I restored an old table that I discovered abandoned in the woods last summer. It had several layers of paint and many rough spots. It took a few hours to remove the paint with a scraper, plain the top of the table and then sand it off as smooth as possible before staining it dark brown. Now, I am on the lookout for a chair to match my table.

In addition, I stained an old bookshelf to match the table. I am using it for ornaments. As soon as I find some cheap material or old curtains at a yard or rummage sale I will make some curtains. I stored the patio table and chairs along with my soap making equipment in the corner for now.

This brings me to my first batch of homemade soap. Let’s just say the end result is not very attractive – not exactly something to show off on your blog. Actually, the goal was to make some chemical free soap using natural ingredients, so even though it looks a bit rough it has a nice texture and it keeps my skin from drying out, especially in the winter months. Before I make my next batch I am going to make a wooden mold to place the silicon baking pans in so that the soap will be square instead of curved.

After my failed garden in Nizwa I was determined to have a successful one in Canada. Before I arrived Florian was in charge of preparing the soil, sowing the seeds and transplanting seedlings and protecting them from late frost. He did a fantastic job. The garden was ready and waiting for me to take care of it. The garden flourished thanks to the long, hot summer and we enjoyed fresh vegetables from the beginning of August through to mid-September. The cucumber, beans and tomatoes were abundant. We couldn’t eat them all, so I made pickled beans, relish, bread n’ butter pickles and salsa. Now, I am getting tired of eating this stuff.

I rearranged the garage and found a suitable place for the treadmill in a section of the garage that I use for storage. I only plan on using this machine when the weather is rainy, snowy or extremely cold, so it is not necessary to have a special building for it. Yet, I keep pondering the idea of converting part of the garage into a rec room.

The winter is in full force with plenty of snow for cross-country skiing. Santa Claus dropped off a new set of skis at my house and I am discovering new muscles aches as I venture out in the woods on my skis in search of chaga. So far I have come home empty-handed, but I have not given up on finding my own source and eventually I will stumble across or ski into a birch covered in chaga. I am also busy knitting a scarf for my cat with some left over yarn.

I will be back soon with a photo of my cat with his new scarf and hopefully some chaga.

Photo 101: Bliss and Solitude

Life in my tiny cubicle offers very few opportunities for solitude. I am never alone in the office. There are teachers, students, cleaners, laborers and administrative staff that constantly roam in and out the office, some lingering longer than others, as they make their way from cubicle to cubicle. There is constant chatter in Tagalog, Hindi, Arabic and exotic versions of English that I struggle to comprehend. I make a concerted effort to avoid conversations in the office. Yet, when people address me I respond in a pleasant and helpful manner. I enjoy chatting with my students and colleagues outside of the office, in the classroom, at the canteen, or in the staff lounge, but I want my solitude in my cubicle. This way I can complete all my tasks quickly without interruptions, so that I am free to do as I please.

I usually spend one weekend a month alone. This is my solitude. I get up early, prepare breakfast and tea and I reflect about what I would like to accomplish during the weekend. Then, I write a list of things to do in my notebook and then I start my day. I work in my garden, watch a movie, do the laundry, iron the clothes, study German, go grocery shopping, prepare food, practice yoga, do crossword puzzles, go jogging or for a long walk in the evening. I do the things enjoy. It is important to have a relaxing weekend from time to time, free from family obligations, dinner engagements or other prearranged activities. This helps me to catch up on my hobbies and personal interests. I appreciate this down time with myself.

Now, here is my photo interpretation of solitude.

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

There is nothing like being alone in the desert. (Near Nizwa, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Or being alone in the mountains. (Marbat Wadi, Dhofar Region, Oman)

Finally, here is my take on bliss.

This cat makes me happy!

This cat makes me happy!