Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In Grade 10

Away at school in Regina, living in a girls' dormitory, apparently there were plenty of sleepless or at least late nights for a 16-year-old girl:

Why I don't sniff at Ouija boards:

Several years ago I discovered a high school friend on FB and she remembered me as a daddy's girl. I had no memory of this ever being so, unless maybe when I had been a baby. I recall a lot of butting heads when I was a teenager! However ... one thing I know is that memory isn't reliable. 

April 1, 1975
What I need is self-discipline. I learned that to get my own way with my parents when they've said no to something is not to sulk but to more or less, in a sense, martyr yourself keep the old pleasant smile on and act like you've accepted the refusal with grace.

And this, which made me laugh out loud:

My school work is very important to me — there are only 2 things in this world that mean anything to me right now at all, and my marks are one of them because I have high ambitions and I'm going to need the same kind of marks. Unfortunately I've blown that this year by slacking off on everything and tossing all self-discipline out the window. There's no one to blame but myself so as of now I'm going to try to whip myself back into shape by concentrating completely on academic subjects. That's just not in my nature but I'll have to think positive — it's going to be a pain in the ass.

And this, about my youngest sister Joan and our brother Cameron, also younger than me:

Thank goodness our sibling relationships have changed! I count myself lucky that people are forgiving and we all get along so well now.

Every weekend, I told myself, I'll make my way through one of these journals. It could take the entire four days I have off, because there is a lot of repetitive, boring stuff to skim over. I'll tear out what's worth keeping, what is a reasonable example of what life was like at the time and how I felt about it, and relegate the rest to a burning barrell. Ya gotta start sometime, said I; there's no point in waiting any longer.

Looking at this first one, kept as an assignment for an English teacher, it's easy to see that 40 years isn't that long ago.

Goodbye, journal of Grade 10, girl of 16. I hereby relegate you to the dust heaps of history.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Something Scratching

Emil and I were here alone on Saturday night when I heard something scratch at the front door.
Now there is no step up to the front door, as it’s been set back a foot or two for a year or more, waiting for Scott to take the new siding from where it is stacked inside an outbuilding and put it onto the house. For more than two years it has waited, and I have begun to "nag." It's well past time.
But back to the matter at hand.
Neither of our dogs would scratch at the front door, which we never use, so it would have to be Sarah from the other farm; she comes over whenever something scares her, like rifle shot or thunder. But she wouldn’t be able to reach the front door without a step there.
I looked through the glass and saw nothing unusual, but it was already dark so what would I see anyway?
            Hm. As I turned away, another scratching and scrabbling, this time at the window behind me! What the hell! And again, nothing there.
            That made me nervous. Had someone walked into the farmyard, where our dog would be too busy wagging her tail to announce anyone by barking, and was now trying to scare me, thinking it was a joke to throw things at the windows and door? Had Scott driven in unnoticed and thought he’d rattle my chain?
            If so, or if we had any friends like that, who thought it would be funny to terrorize a woman on a farm at night, I wouldn’t be amused. I went to the porch and locked the door, just in case. You never know who could be out there in the dark, and maybe I could buy myself enough time to phone for help before they got inside. Yeah, my imagination wasn't making a lot of sense. If the house was to be stormed, why would anyone bother giving me fair warning? But I didn't think of that till later.
            As I returned to the kitchen, there it was again, that scratching and scrabbling at the window, and this time I saw what it was: a small white and grey bird. What the hell was it doing, smacking into my lit windows at night?
Still, a relief.
And not a robin; even better, as a robin trying to get into your window is a portent of a death, and apparently I am more superstitious than one would ever guess. My sister Karen had a robin persistently at her kitchen window at the time we were reeling with the news of Mom's terminal cancer diagnosis, and it was too much of a coincidence to be ignored. 

Harvest has been halted following the rainy weekend. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Butala Books

My favourite book? The Perfection of the Morning, by Sharon Butala. It's a memoir of her life on a south Saskatchewan ranch with her new (at the time) husband. I loved it so much and read it so long ago that I might just read it again.

Another of her books that I read was The Girl in Saskatoon about a young nursing student from the Endeavour, Sask., area, who was murdered in the city in 1962. Her killer has not yet been found. The CBC program W5 did a show on it all these years later, about how the victim's sisters are still hoping to find the murderous prick.

Butala's latest is a novel about life on the Saskatchewan prairie as a young female settler from Quebec who is abandoned by her husband. He sells their farm and home out from under her and their  child, as men could legally do at that time.

Butala does some beautiful writing, sometimes describing what I feel myself when out walking. For instance:

And calm rose from the land itself that, as she walked, seeped into her too.


Then, slowly, as she walked, stood, breathed in deeply, her muscles unclenching themselves, she would begin to remember what it was to be herself, grateful that she could still find that place where she recognized who she had always been.

Unfortunately, the text has been poorly proofread and there are errors and omissions in punctuation and though at first I ignored them, after a while they started to bug me. Also, I do not like sentence fragments, and there are too many; we may have to blame Butala herself for those. But Sharon Butala deserves better than a shoddy proofreading job, I say, pissed off at the book's publisher.

And then I was tootling along quite nicely, overlooking those details, when Butala wrote in a kiss on the prairie that read like a Harlequin romance ... not believable in the least. And so now I'm afraid the story's all going to be predictable and trite. I may not even finish it. We'll see. It's Sharon, after all. She has never let me down.

Meanwhile I've started reading A Bad Day for Sorry, by Sophie Littlefield. It's had me chuckling since Day One; it's different, for sure. If you're a man who physically abuses women, Sophie Littlefield has created a character who will come after you and teach you a lesson you will never forget. Or if you do, she will find you and teach you an even rougher one. I have been fortunate enough in my life not to experience or witness the physical abuse of women, but I still fiendishly enjoy the thought of an abuser getting his just deserts.

This bull moose turned his back on me but neither ran nor came closer. He just kept an eye on me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Turned south, into the cool breeze, and thought No; I’ll avoid it by going across the road instead, between the trees.
Around the grassy bend, up the slight hill, long wide view across the baled field. I don’t walk onto it because it’s open to the wind. 

Back to the road and turn south, where now the wind in my face is no problem. Did such a short jaunt up the hill warm me up that much? It must’ve, because with a hat on and a scarf, and my gloves and a fall jacket, there was no thinking about my temperature.

To the corner we went, the dogs and I. Cool grey day, intoxicating scent of moist ground and leaves, snowgoose flocks flying over. Having turned back I’m too warm; off come the gloves and hat; jacket opens; sweat runs down from boobs while I videotape birds in flight.

We have one neighbour on our two-mile stretch and this is their driveway as seen from the road.

Emil strolled around our yard and agreed that it was darn nice out there today.

The chicken noodle soup we had for supper didn’t need crackers or toast. Didn’t need additional salt or pepper. Had chickpeas in it, and sautéed fresh celery and onion, and steamed carrots. It should turn out this good every time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Four Days Lay Before Me, Whatever Shall I Do

Theresa, have you received Saskatchewan's beautiful fall days? Because they've been pushed out by something cold and nasty. I hope they made it to you in Montreal.

We drove cross-country between here and Nut Mountain last night, and there were dozens of sets of headlights to be seen in the fields around. All that activity at night ... The race is on, full throttle.

Rain is forecast for this weekend, but it feels like snow to me. As soon as I got home tonight I jacked the furnace up to 72F.

Picking Emil up after work, I insisted he wear a winter jacket and leave the summer one in the closet. He wasn't happy about it, but Wise Ones Take the Advice of Mothers.

"Are you glad I'm here, Mom?" he has asked me several times since we arrived. "I bet you're looking forward to spending the weekend with me."

What can I say. Of course. It'll be short and sweet though because his household is going to a Tim Hus concert in Kelvington on Sunday and he has to be back in town early to catch his ride.

He always asks if I've missed him and I say no, and he says he hasn't missed me either. It's always the exact same words, same sentence.

He has kissed me on the cheek several times and patted my hand. I think he missed me. And it is nice to be in the company of someone who has missed you.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

And It's October

Feverfew is an herb touted to relieve migraines. Does it? I don't know. But a friend in B.C. gave me a handful of seeds from her plant some 10 years ago and I tossed them into the garden. They flower and reseed every year, and I pick and chew on a few leaves every day in the summer. They have a bitter taste but it does grow on you.

Here (above) a shasta daisy is encroaching in the middle and I may end up pulling it out, as daisies are so ubiquitous and may choke out other things, but I have a hard time doing it. Too softhearted? Too greedy for more daisies? Because it was a small field of daisies that turned me onto flower gardening in the first place, and yet I've never had a field of them myself and I still want one.

Next year I will let the daisies go where they want ... .
Next year things will be planted differently yet again ...

Finally there has been a hard enough frost that I won't feel bad about pulling out some annuals and cutting down the perennials. Maybe. If it's a nice weekend. Fairweather gardener, that's me! Flowers were still blooming till now, and bees were still sipping their nectar, so I couldn't reduce their food supply. Also, I can't -- just can't -- chop down a blooming plant.

In the ditch

I've just mailed out my 5 Things NEWSLETTER and am listening to the beautiful voices at the end of a link that was included. I don't want to get up from this chair and go to work! Really need to fix myself up with an iPod or something so I can listen to music at work without imposing on others. Meanwhile these new glasses are still making onscreen reading as well as book-on-lap reading a pain in the ass. But it's only been a week; three to go before I decide whether to keep these or go back to plain and simple lenses.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall My Favourite

Tuesday 7:32 pm
Fullish day, and still dishes not done. It was more important to be out and around. Dishes can always wait, and often do, in this house. I lack my mother's and grandmother's and aunts' self-discipline, that's for sure. 
Made two chicken noodle casseroles though, one for Lillebos and one for us. They were on their way home from the hospital in Regina today. Faye expected the ride to be pretty rough and was hoping good drugs would help.
Went to town for a few things the casserole recipe called for, and a few more of course while I was there, and dropped off homemade bread at Everett’s.
Another beautiful night, cool, fall, but stars and clouds and moon, and combines and grain trucks in the fields around. Scott and Bruce are combining oats tonight, as they’ve been all day.

Full of noodle casserole, I don’t feel like doing a damn thing more, including dishes. I’ve just been for a stroll to the end of the driveway and around the yard. While walking across the road earlier today, the breeze was cool when you were facing into it — on went the sweater — but when it was behind you, you were sweating! Only in Saskatchewan? Or is it just me being so damn sensitive to temperature?

Decided to fly to Kelowna Oct. 17 and come back the 19th. Karen rearranged her schedule when she got to work this morning and texted me to book a ticket for her too. So that’s done. It'll be a quick trip but done during my usual four days off and not rushing back to work tired from travel. I've tried to arrange departure and arrival times at the most convenient times for us instead of what is least expensive (yet not most expensive either; got some frugal bones in me). Fingers are crossed that by going a few weeks earlier this year, weather doesn't force us to spend a day in the Calgary airport this time. Although I'm not entirely sure, now, that that was the cause of our missed connection last November. At any rate there's a two-hour layover in Calgary going both ways so we have a bit more leeway if a flight is delayed.

That back step under the night sky is calling me; with or without a libation in my hand, I will be going out. It may not be for long, due to the chill in the air; but I’ll go more often. One way or the other, I want to enjoy every moment of this.

Would you like to tramp along this path with me?
Kate's Five Things will be mailed out this week, maybe tomorrow. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? SEE HERE.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Across the Road She Goes

Chicken carcass simmering on back burner: Check.
Leaves of sage on step, clipped and added: Check.
Toast and coffee down neck: Check.
Tarot card read: CHECK.
Bed made: Check.
Face washed: Check.
Aerial photo posted to FB and Twitter for WNews: Check.
Fresh batch "toothpaste" mixed: Check.
Teeth brushed: Check.
Loaves of bread made yesterday carried out to deep freeze: Check.

Too beautiful out to stay in, must grab camera and go: Check!

It's a gloryoryoryous day ...

Monday, September 28, 2015

Horseshoe Up My

8:33pm Sunday night

Phone rings. Loud noise (combine) in background.

“You should be out here taking pictures of this moon!”

I have just removed the battery from my camera and plugged it into the wall to recharge. I stuff a beer into each pocket, grab my cellphone and car keys, pull on a warm jacket and head for the driveway. The moon is hanging over the end of it and I snap a few photos with my cellphone before retreating to Little Green, out of the wind and cold. 
I drive over to Godhes’ yard and get Scott’s camera off the dash of his truck, then drive back up our road and pull onto the approach leading to the field where there are two sets of headlights. One is combining and the other is following behind with the baler. I turn off Little Green’s lights and engine and strike out across the stubble.
Ah, the scent of it! It’s lovely out there. I stretch my leg to step over wide swaths of oats without disturbing them, and when I get to the combine, it stops and Scott climbs down. I hand him his camera and a beer, and back onto the machine he goes. I make my way along the swaths till reaching Bruce pulling the baler, and hand him a beer when he opens the side door to see what I want.
“That should’ve been supper,” I think, walking back to the warmth. “They must be hungry.”
Then it’s home again. Damn, it’s cold out there! Orange moon or no.
I stop at the quonset and take some of Laurel’s sausages from the deep freeze, and put them in a pan to begin slowly thawing and frying when I get back in the house. I’ve no idea how long Scott will be in the field, but he’ll be hungry when he comes in.
It’s not long; he’s back in less than an hour.

Didn’t walk today. Was cold and windy. I had dishes to do. And I dug up perennials and took them to Bev’s in Kuroki and helped her plant them. Took a bottle of Gunnar and Melissa’s red wine (came home with a case of it. What was I thinking? I should've bought two) and had a glass with Bev and Paul. Home shortly before six. 
Bev noted that there are more weeds here than in Ontario (also more insects). I sang the praises of my horseshoe hoe, the answer to everything weedy, like ski pants are to winter. A few passes in the spring while the weeds are just seedlings, and in my garden they aren't unmanageable. I am not an ambitious gardener; I like to do just what I want to do and not more, just when I want and not when I don't, so low maintenance is key.
"What does it look like?" they wanted to know. 
I have laid it across a bucket of still-flowering pansies. 
If anyone sees a hoe like this for sale, please let me know where! I have found similar hoes but none the same width as this one, and that is what I want. I'll need a new one someday and they'd make perfect gifts for gardening friends. 
The horizontal metal is about six inches wide. The hoes I see on the hardware store walls are half the width. They may work as well, but take twice as long to cover the same area. The wide one, mine, can be tipped on a diagonal to get into tight "corners" so there is no advantage to the narrower hoe, that I can see. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Kind of Churching

On Sunday mornings, I don't go to church. I give my spirit a feed by catching up on my favourite webpages, which you can see in the list (Arts & Letters) on the left side of the page. It's set up so that whenever a blogger posts a new entry, the title (and link to) the blog rises to the top of my list; those who update infrequently tend to stay down near the bottom. It's a handy little system and I put it on my page solely for my own convenience.

There are some I go read the moment I see they've written something new. There are some whose entries compel me less, and those can wait till I get around to them. There are some who write longlonglong and every day, whose writing can be quite wonderful, but I just can't keep up with them; I don't much like book-length reading on the computer screen, I must admit, and prefer time-consuming reading to be done while propped up in my comfy bed. But I peruse the list every day to see what's new and what my bloggie friends are doing.

Today I'd like to introduce you to a blog that I've only recently discovered where the author talks not only about crime-writing but about many mystery novels themselves, thus pointing me in the direction of titles I might otherwise never have come across. Thanks to Margot Kinberg, my local library is constantly in receipt of stacks of books I have ordered through the interlibrary system here in Saskatchewan.

One entry she's made lately is about her own experience, as a mystery writer, while travelling.
You may like to CHECK IT OUT and add Margot's blog to your list of favourites. JOAN, I'm particularly thinking about you because of your new mystery-writing endeavour; Margot's blog could be an inspiration and provide good tips.

Meanwhile, once Sunday morning is over and I get on up and about the day — and another sunny fine day it is — my plan is to dig up a daylily that desperately needs a home in a sunny spot, and five delphiniums to go with it, along with about three shasta daisies, and take them to Kuroki where my new friend Bev (who is Scott's cousin) lives. She and her beau moved out here from Ontario a couple years ago when she got a teaching job in town after her mom passed away. It seems teaching jobs down east were impossible to get, or so she'd been finding, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. Anyway, her mom had a nice little flower patch right in front of the living room window, and somehow it has been neglected for the past couple summers.

I dreamed about Uncle Bruce last night, probably because my aunt Shirley called yesterday and we had a good chat. In the dream, Bruce looked young and wasn't wearing his glasses, and I was surprised to see him because I knew he had died five years ago, but we hugged each other for a long time anyway and I wept tears of joy, knowing I was in the middle of a dream, but not caring.