I set forth a humble and inglorious life; that does not matter. You can tie up all moral philosophy with a common and private life just as well as with a life of richer stuff. – Michel de Montaigne

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Neighbours' Driveways

There are two driveways I pass on my walks, and they tempt me.

The neighbours probably wouldn't mind if I strolled down them, long as they are; one leading to an uninhabited yard, the other to a yard where the owners aren't often home.

Still, I don't go. I'd ask permission first, and the owners would be put on the spot (what could they say but Yes, sure! Why not! even if they'd rather I didn't). So I walk on by.

You need to ask for what you want. Ask and ye shall receive; it's usually true. But people will often say yes or give you what you want when it's not really what they want, and, contrary to popular opinion, that's not their problem. It's mine, too; discomfort and/or resentment affect future relations, and I don't want to get my way at the expense of someone else.

The difficult part is being sensitive enough to be aware that asking for something, and the way we ask for it, and when, and where, may be putting someone on the spot, and figuring out how to ask (if at all)  in such a way that the person can say no without losing face/ appearing unkind/ungenerous, etc.

It is difficult to say no.

"Will you look after my child?"
"Can I bring my dog to your house?"
"Will you speak at my wedding? Parent's funeral?"
"Would you help me with ... ?"

I'd like to think it gets easier, the more often you say it. But it doesn't, really. And we, the askers, would do well to consider that before we make our requests, and come up with ways of asking that leave the person with a respectable and even comfortable out.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Penergetics Presentation

It isn't often that I make a Spanish omelette for breakfast anymore, but since Bev is here ... special guests call for special treatment! I should be careful there, because all my guests (though few) are special, but I don't always rouse myself to make a big breakfast. It's more likely that Starving Scott is at the stove before I've finished my first coffee, so it gets left up to him.

This morning, however, we've just finished a heavy-duty breakfast. I've cleared the table so Bev can set up to give a presentation to the two farmer boys, Scott and his brother Bruce there on the left.

She's a rep for a company (Penergetics) that sells an additive for soil, among other things. These two are organic farmers and fussy about anything that goes onto their fields and into their animals. They also don't make any quick decisions, so chances are this presentation will mostly be an opportunity to practise her presentation, as she is new with the company. She is a stellar salesperson, however, so it will be interesting to see whether they agree to try any of the products. They won't be an easy sell.

Mary K: these are the chairs I'd like to re-cover. The material is still really good but it's dark and I'd like something that comes off to be washed. You know those chair covers you see in the Sears catalogue, that have a kind of "tab" that goes over the arms? I'm wondering if something like that could be sewn with snaps to hold the arm covering and the body in place.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saturday in May

A good night's sleep after a 12-hour day in the office.
A relaxed morning.
Sheets are in the dryer.
Roomba has run around the floor.
Dishes are done.
I've been for my walk.

Pleasantly surprised to reach the road and see that some leaves have popped out overnight. 
It's not that warm out, as a matter of fact the wind is still cool, but Jenna goes wading anyway.

More delights as snow geese pass overhead. 

See the baby brontosaurus across the pasture? I often wonder, seeing it, what it would be like to go for a walk in dinosaur days. You'd stick to the trees, wouldn't you!

Next! Off to town to pick up a bundle of fresh flowers and something to make for supper. Bev is coming over so I want to make something special. Heaven knows what; I'm hoping for inspiration from the store shelves.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Pretty Garbage

It takes me forever to get around to these things.
For instance, in the kitchen we've got a garbage can where the bag shows on the outside. It's ugly.
So I need to buy a new garbage can. Which means I have to go shopping.
I don't wanna!
OK, so then I could get by with some pretty garbage bags. That might do.
I search online for 15 minutes and give up.
No wonder it takes me so long to get things done. I lose interest.
Now surely there are pretty garbage bags out there somewhere. I just haven't found them yet.

Why don't I task my sister Karen with this kind of shopping? Just give her a list and let her go at it. She seems to enjoy shopping; she goes to the city to do it, anyway. Mind you, that doesn't mean she'd enjoy shopping for someone else.

By the way, my sisters and I are writing to each other at Sister Lines. Feel free to join us there.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mom and Joanne

When I discovered Wendy Klein's art, I bought some of her greeting cards. This one I got for Mom to give to her friend Joanne.

I remember Mom seeing the card, saying "That's me and Joanne!" and being so delighted at the thought of sending it to her. Mom was blond; Joanne was brunette. The two of them were always worried about their weight, always dieting. But they also enjoyed each other's company and spent a lot of time together over the years, as did our families as us kids were growing up. Mom and Joanne both grew up and then lived in or near the same small village and, after Mom and Dad moved away, kept in close touch by phone and mail. When Mom got sick, Joanne was a constant support from a distance. Mom once said, "She must spend all her time thinking of nice things to do for me!" since there was always something arriving in the mail to give Mom a little lift.

I didn't remember this part, or maybe didn't know — that Mom had written in all these quotes about friendship — but one of Joanne's daughters posted the card (inside and out) on Facebook as a reminder of the special friendship between our mothers.

Joanne was also very good to me after Mom died. She phoned me often, just as Mom would have done. We talked about similar things as Mom and I would have done. She missed Mom, as I did, and shared memories of her and their times together. It was very sweet to get to know her so much better than I ever had, and to know that she was going that extra mile out of her love for Mom. I can imagine Joanne saying to Mom, "If there's anything at all that I can do for you ... " and Mom replying "After I'm gone, think of my children . . . . " Because Joanne certainly did.

Now that Joanne, too, has passed away, all of us (her children and Mom's) like to think of the two of them together again, sharing a joke and having many good laughs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wild Spring

A glorious spring day it was, and my coworkers and I spent it indoors. Alas! But it fair flew by, busy as we were preparing articles for next week's newspaper, planning where everything will go, how to make it fit, and so on. It's a time-consuming affair.

I could easily have worked a couple more hours, but after eight of them I closed up shop and headed home, where I threw together a pizza (damn, that bread dough makes tasty crispy crust! better than any store-bought or restaurant pizza I can remember having) and then headed for the gravel road with my hound doggies. There was just time for a half-hour walk while the pizza baked and a beer cooled in the freezer.

I had hoped to get some more of the flower bed cleared off tonight, but it was not to be. By the time I washed a few dishes, read my mail, and ate — that's till right now — I am tired and it's getting dark and I'm going to get my pyjamas on, do some yoga, read some of the book that just arrived in the mail, and hit the hay. It's been a full day.

I think Scott's gone to the other place to check on cattle. So far they've had a set of twin calves and, just today, a "nice bull calf." I'll ask him for photos; he gets excited about calves, every spring. Since he and his brother instigated fall breeding, calves on this farm are born in spring and summer instead of in the cold winter months. One noticeable difference is that there is rarely any problem with the calving; it seems to happen easily and naturally, with no human help required. And there is no more need to go out in the wee hours of the morning, freezing your ass off, to make sure all is well. It just is.

Actually, I've the urge to crack open a second beer and go listen to the frogs and birds. It's wild out there.

The Lonely Chicken

The lone prairie chicken takes one slow step at a time through our yard. I took this photo through the living room window; he must have caught some movement behind the glass and was being extra careful.

He thumps his chest into the night, trying to attract a new mate. It didn't work last year; he was still thumping in the fall. How is that even possible? Where are all the gals?

We hope he has better luck this year.

He lost his entire family to a snowplow the winter before this last one. 
Meanwhile he is a welcome resident in our yard.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Evening Chorus

The frogs are supervocal these days.
Last night I had to take loaves of bread to the deep freeze in the quonset, so I set my camera up on the deck railing to record the singing and croaking.
Turn up your computer's volume if you want to get a realistic idea of the sound all around our house.

WWW: Does this old girldog not look like she could be Ansa's cousin?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Blue Trunk

Scott spent almost three hours mowing our lawn on Friday afternoon, and it rained Saturday so everything is greening up nicely.

That's here.

This weekend in Saskatoon, where we went on newspaper-related business (workshops and an awards banquet), there was heavy snowfall and on Sunday morning the streets were a real mess.

We were bringing Scott's mom home from City Hospital yesterday after a knee replacement, so stopped at a nearby pharmacy to pick up her prescription for painkillers. Scott soaked his socks and shoes in the parking lot, and I, warm and dry in the half-ton, admired this old trunk that someone is using for garbage (I assume) in their backyard parking space. I was also shocked that anyone would put it outside to be ruined by weather.

Why, I believe this blue matches my eyes! Hee!
If you're ever looking for a place to have a banquet, don't overlook the Sheraton Cavalier in downtown Saskatoon. Someone around there really knows how to cook. Fabulous. I was sorely disappointed to be a person with a relatively small appetite.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Wrong End of the Stick

A typical example of miscommunication that often gets us into trouble:

I'm leaning on the kitchen counter to chat with Scott one evening after he's come home late from work. It'll soon be dark and he's rustling up some supper or filling a plate, and he says:

“I guess Mom’s on her way.”
An unoccupied farmyard a couple miles from our place.

It’s an unusual time for her to visit. I say, preparing to plug the kettle in:
“Oh! Any particular reason she’s coming over?”

Scott, sounding exasperated:
“She’s not coming here!”

“Didn't you just say — ?”

“She’s on her way to Saskatoon!”

She had to be in the city for a knee replacement the next morning. I knew this, of course, but hadn't been thinking about it at that moment. I figured she was coming here for a cup of tea.
We need to speak more clearly and listen more closely.
How easy it is to misunderstand each other. No one is to blame, yet mishearing is the cause of frequent irritation in our house.

Fortunately this misfire was noticed right when it happened and not a day later, when we'd be unable to pinpoint exactly how things got so mixed up and then one of us might accuse the other of "never listening when I talk."