Daily Prompt; Smoke

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”  This is not true with wood stoves. Where there’s smoke, there’s a fire that won’t ignite. If you don’t have a bellows, you’ll be huffing and puffing until you get dizzy.

In the last decade or so they have been using newspapers with fire retardants. Great for slowing down house fires but so frustrating for wood burners. The paper smolders while you pump away on the bellows saying “c’mon, c’mon, you #*@….”

I do have a propane furnace and love it. My ex-husband would only have wood heat so having a furnace and a programmable thermostat is a luxury for me that others take for granted. Being able to get up in the morning and just ‘turn on the heat’ is fantastic! The whole house heated up in such a short time…… WOW! I program it to be on when I come home from work because I found coming home to a warm house makes me happy; coming home to a cold house is depressing.

When it reaches 22C, it shuts off and I start a fire. If I start it while the furnace is on, the air pressure pulls smoke out of the stove, pouring into the house.  Even shutting the stove doors doesn’t work; smoke shoots out of the little draft holes. Then I have to open all the windows and doors losing the expensive propane heat. Only did that a couple of times before I caught on.

Just heating with propane would be so expensive I would have to work full-time just to heat my house. Besides, having lived with wood heat most of my life it would be very hard to give it up. I love everything about it; buying it, stacking it, burning it…. and I love being very, very warm. Not shivering in heavy sweaters all winter.

When a fire is burning properly, there shouldn’t be much smoke. That way it is combusting most of the gasses. When it’s not burning, it smolders and smokes. Then you have to poke and blow it.

Wow, is this ever boring. Maybe I should have written about smoking pot. About how tired I get of everyone happily holding their wine glasses and getting tight while smoking pot still makes you a pariah, a degenerate. I find drunkenness neither fun nor funny. There is a HUGE double standard when it comes to alcohol vs. marijuana. I hope it gets better when it’s legal next year.


But for now, I didn’t say that.



Holy Moly I’m such a homebody. Very rarely will I go out unless I have to. Of course, I go to work and sometimes I have to go buy something but unless its urgent I will probably stay home.

Sometimes I have to go to TOWN to get stuff but it’s such a drag and it takes up most the day. I’ve usually compiled a list of things I need because there is no use in going to TOWN for just one thing. Right now I need furnace filters because no small hardware store, nor the hometown tiny Canadian Tire, around here has the right size. In the time I’ve taken driving to all the local stores to find the damn things I could have driven to Sarnia and got them along with the others things compiled on ‘The List’ of things I don’t need urgently. I’ve been telling myself for about six weeks ‘I’m going to Sarnia on my next day off’ then on my day off I think “Nah, I don’t need to go today.”

I’m on mostly night shifts now and after a night shift I take the day off. and I mean OFF. Horizontal. Yesterday I watched Ghosts of Shepherdstown and a movie. My generation hates lying around like this but I was goaded into working for so many years I think I’ve earned the right. There were no weekends off, no fun time with kids, no lazy days for at least 20 years. Caving was our holidays and I would come home exhausted with a ton of muddy gear to clean.  It took a long time to stop calling myself lazy and there is still a twinge of ‘being bad’ watching TV in the daytime. Work is not a virtue!

Any minute now a truck will be backing down my driveway with a load of firewood. Oh I love firewood! My woodshed is ready; I brought the wood left from last year forward so I can stack the new wood behind it. Wood heat is perfect for a homebody; keep those home-fires burning, poke it, play with it…… bring it in, clean up the mess.

However, having a propane furnace in the morning is AWESOME! In my old married days it would be freezing cold in the morning and take over an hour to heat up the house. I still laugh with glee in the morning when I simply ‘turn on the heat’.  Then take the whole day off!  HO…. my husband would have had a fit! I mean eyeball bulging, blow the top of his head off, fit!

This is my house, my home…… my sanctuary. Do I enjoy living alone? Hell, yes!




Many years ago, in my married days, my husband read a book called, “Shibumi” by Trevanian  in which the hero/ writer had some great descriptions of going deep into caves. He got all excited that this is a sport and found the Toronto Caving Group. One thing lead to another and we were off to West Virginia for him to do his first cave trip.

I was not interested at all. The thought of being underground with all that earth and rock above you scared the shit out of me. But I loved hiking and being in the woods so I went on the trip so I could go deep into the mountains of West Virginia.

Well, damn if they didn’t talk me into a ‘beginners trip’ and I was hooked. I had fun! There were plenty of places to stand up and not feel claustrophobic. It was like hiking but with an obstacle course. I found something I was really good at, too, and my husband wouldn’t insult me or talk down to me around other people.  We would go down to the States, usually Tennessee and Alabama, several times a year.

Caving really helped me build self-esteem. The trips became harder and longer. We took courses in rope work and learned to repel down into deep caverns. Every time I would end with the feeling of; “I did that!” The peak of my caving career was at forty years old I did Ellison’s Cave in Georgia. It was hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But knowing I did it makes me proud of myself.

I wrote a post about it;  https://monicleblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/daily-prompt-uns…d-scared-witless/

In those days we had cameras with film and developed photographs. I’m so glad now I still have these. Here are a few of me, underground.

My favourite photo; It’s blown up and on my fridge still.



Crossing a little underground lake on two inner tubes joined by a plank of wood. The inner tubes leaked so they were deflating as you went across then they would pump them up with a bicycle pump. I laughed so hard I wet my pants.



 A room full of crystals. Note: we were still using carbide lamps in those days!



Yep, that’s me!


A Beeswax Screen

The prompt today, ‘screen’ gives me the chance to tell you one of my favourite stories. I’ve actually posted this story before but that wouldn’t be Stream of Consciousness to re-blog and I’m happy to tell it again.

I worked at a farmers market stand for many years selling honey and beeswax products that my husband and I produced. There was an Italian lady who came often, picked up a beeswax bar, smelled it, smiled and put it back. I quickly learned she didn’t speak English so we would just smile at each other when she came to smell the wax. They were only $1 but she never bought one.

One day she came with her daughter who said, “My mother wanted me to come today to tell you why she loves the smell of beeswax so much.”

In the small town where she was from, the ladies would get together when a couple was married. They took long strands of cotton thread and ran it back and forth through pieces of beeswax until it was covered and stiff then gathered around a table and wove a screen to make a curtain for the doorway of their new kitchen. They laughed and gossiped and had a great day. Everyone had one and they lasted for years and years.

When the Lady came to the market, she would smell the beeswax bar and it would take her back to those wonderful memories. She said, in the summer, when a breeze blew through the doorway you could smell the beeswax.

I gave her a beeswax bar. At first she wouldn’t accept it but I told her daughter it was easily worth such a great story and I was so happy she took the time to tell me.

I would never know about that beeswax screen if she hadn’t told me and I wonder how many great stories, ideas and customs are lost over time. Still, after all these years I’m so grateful they took the time to me this story so it can be great memory for me, too.




Beeswax Candles

Back in the days when I was married to a beekeeper I used to make candles from beeswax and sell them at our farmers market booth. At this time of the year I would be buying beeswax from other beekeepers in preparation for Christmas.

A big block of beeswax is the most beautiful and amazing thing. The aroma rivals any rose: it makes you swoon with ecstasy. It’s so smooth and pretty you just want to rub your hands on it. The amazing part is that these blocks and blocks of beeswax came out flake by flake from the these little tiny creatures’ pockets.

Bees have wax glands much like the wax in our ears except it forms on the sides of their legs. They pull out the wax and use it to build the cells the honey goes into. As each cell is filled and properly dried, (one of a bee’s life-stages is they stand by the incoming nectar and fan it with their wings to dry out excess moisture) the bees then seal the opening with wax it to store it. When honey is harvested the wax cappings are broken to let out the honey. It comes out with the honey when extracted in the centrifuge.  Sitting overnight in buckets, the wax floats to the top and we would scoop it off, drain it, clean it and melt it down. But we did not produce enough to supply me with what I needed so also I bought it.

I had a permanent candle-making set-up in my laundry room; a hot plate with a big double-boiler for melting and a smaller double boiler for pouring. The molds were set up on my dryer. This time of year I would be starting to do a batch everyday to stock up for Christmas. I would fill all the molds on my dryer and let them sit 24 hours. The next day melt down more wax as I popped the molds the trimmed the new candles.

Besides candles I also made hand-cream and lip balm from beeswax but I would have to say the candles were the best part. It’s just such a pleasant job.

The hand-cream and lip balm were made in the kitchen. I had a small mail order business for my lip balm from advertising in the Ontario Beekeepers Assc. newsletter. Christmas was a good time for those products also. For my own farmer’s market stand I made Christmas ornaments from beeswax using chocolate molds with looped waxed string.

Candles is the part I missed most. Candles may have played a role in why it was so damn hard to leave an abusive marriage. If I left I would have to give this all up; my house in the woods on a river, my great job and my mate who was also my partner. Finally he decided for me by kicking me out because I was “useless” and “a parasite”. I didn’t argue ‘to please let me stay’.

He visits me sometimes when he comes this way to buy bulk honey from a local beekeeper. He brought me a box of candles as he took over making them. Many of them would not stay lit and were not as good mine. I made sure the wick was big enough and dipped it in very hot beeswax to saturate and ‘prime’ the wick. He wouldn’t have the patience for this.

I saved all the candles and bought my own mold at a candle shop. This prompt reminded me of that so I got out the mold and all the saved beeswax. It’s bittersweet. There is still a twinge of sadness at what I lost. I’ll never really ‘get over it’.

But I can still make my own beeswax candle.



Coin; a SoCS prompt

I’m making some serious coin today, man. Not only do I have an eight hour shift, our minimum wage went up to $11.40 an hour!

My week is the opposite of everyone else’s. I was off all week and it was glorious! The weather was fantastic, even too hot one day! Today I’m back to work to help get out all the buns, breads, cakes, and pies for the Feasting Frenzy that is Thanksgiving.

This is the hardest shift of all 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. I’ll be spending the afternoon bringing out frozen loaves and buns, putting them on trays and racks. As they thaw, the toppings are put on, a grain mix on the multigrain, oatmeal on oat bran, cheese on buns, cut slits on paninis, etc, etc.  French bread and Italian bread are the same a thing except Italian is rolled in cornmeal (and yet so many prefer one to the other). These all go into the ‘proofer’ which thaws and raises them at the correct temperatures until the baker comes in at 4:00 a.m.

While I do this we are also baking pies and/or cookies; racks and racks of pies and cookies.  Sometimes I’m packing cookies to get the racks I need to put buns on.

When I’m done and the others have left, it’s time to clean the whole damn bakery. It’s going to be a mess; lots of empty boxes to break down, over-stuffed garbage bins, lots of baking trays, scoops and other utensils in the sink, (they are already putting out the danishes, cinnamon buns as I write) and the floor will be a mess.

I’m up for it. This week has been the best and I don’t have to work tomorrow! I will have the ‘work hangover’ so it’s a lot easier to take when I don’t have to go in the next morning.

Our bakery is going to make some serious coin this weekend.




Close, yet so far.

I live very close to the Canada/ U.S. border. As a matter of fact, 77% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the border.

That’s less than I heard before which was 90% of Canadians live within the 100 mile zone. Maybe more people are moving up north while most of us like to stay huddled close to the warmth.



I live way down here, further south than a lot of places in America!

I’ve wasted a half hour trying to get an arrow on this thing.

Many, many people around here go to Port Huron regularly, apparently to save money. I’ll never understand this. It’s a one hour drive to the border, then you have to go through customs, go find stores with the same crap we have here and our dollar is only worth 76¢ in America right now. Then back through customs again. It’s a long, tiring day. Want to save money? STAY HOME!

Maybe more of the population has moved north in recent years. There is retirement community in Elliot Lake they advertise on TV.

elliot-lakeHa! Well, bust my britches. It’s way up north but it sure looks like it’s in the 100 mile zone!