Friday, August 28, 2015

If Only Mosquitoes Were Edible

Last Friday we put in a 10-hour day at the news office. There hasn't been much of that lately, but sometimes it just works out that way. Alison was working on another publication so we didn't have her help, and that slowed things down.

I left the office about quarter after eight that night. It was rainy and cool, and Emil was waiting for me at the group home.

"I thought you forgot me," he said, laying down his crutches so he could put on his "outside" shoes. (For the benefit of those new to this blog: Emil is my 27-yr-old son who has cerebral palsy and developmental delays.)

I got him and his two bags loaded into the truck and then drove to the store, and he waited while I popped in for a few groceries. The Co-op is open two evenings a week now and it's great; it's about time, too.  Emil loves to go in with me and walk up and down the aisles looking for acquaintances to talk to, but it was late and I was tired and it was rainy and so I convinced him not to, this time. Then we drove slowly home through the dark and wet.

But we got a shock when I parked the truck in the yard and opened the door to get out. The mosquitoes swarmed! And that's not good when you've got Emil. I can outrun them, but he can't. He's slow getting in and out of vehicles and he can't really run, and they were ravenous. I grabbed a few bags and sprinted to the house, then back out with insect repellent to spray Emil before they sucked the poor lad dry. I sprayed myself too, but still they bounced off my face and neck. And when I reached behind the seat to grab the last few grocery bags, I could see hundreds of them swarming around the truck's interior light. Crazy!

When we got into the house — and of course another thousand got in as Emil made his way through the door, because there is no hurrying him — I spent the first half-hour at home swatting mosquitoes when what I really wanted to do was collapse into a chair with a glass of red wine.

To fill several spaces in the newspaper we were working on that day, Rita and I perused several copies of the Wadena News archives from 1915, 1919, 1935 and 1965. You could read these things all day; they are chockful of entertaining stuff. We had several pages with big fancy ads for the town fair this weekend and needed something to go with them, so we thought some scans of old ads and articles about the fair would be perfect.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Cuzzes & their Kids

My cousins were born when I was in my early teens, and some of them have parents who still live around here so they come to visit them from time to time, as it should be.

I'm always saying "Phone me when you're down and I'll drive over to see you."

But do they? No, never! I find out they were here ... after they've been and gone.

Maybe I'm supposed to get a message from this, but if I am, I ignore it.

Finally I gave one of them (Karla, this means you; I also gave Uncle Neil a poke so we'll see if it made a dent) "shit." If you can call it that. It wasn't shit, really, but I made sure it was heard, is all.

I don't expect them to come and visit me, because they are spending time with their parents and this, also, is how it should be, and I don't want to take them away from there and make them run around the countryside even more than they already are.  But I would go out of my way to have a short visit with them and see their kids once a year, you know? So PHONE ME ALREADY!

Bless her heart, Karla did give me the heads-up one day last week as she was packing up to leave her mom's the next morning, so I hopped into the truck (a.k.a. the Big White Bus) and beat a path to Aunt Shirley's door in Margo.

It was a visit that was short and sweet, as they were busy, but I got to give them all a hug and that was the main thing.

Karla's boy Paxton with his grandma Shirley, my aunt. Everyone says he reminds them of Uncle Bruce, who was a "little bugger" as a boy. "You never knew what the hell was going to come out of his mouth," Dad said, remembering. I don't know if Paxton is the same way, but he sure is huggable. 

Karla's girl Gracie, a real sweetheart.  They'd just been out picking crabapples and were cutting them up to make juice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blossom Fudge Brownies

We had a few cold mornings when I actually turned the furnace on. Once the chill was off, so was the furnace, but later when I was still finding it cool it seemed more sensible to use the oven for something. So I dug out one of the recipe cards in Mom's handwriting and made these brownies.

I can't figure out why they're called "blossom" fudge brownies. It seems like a pretty straightforward brownie recipe, to me.

Who needs icing? I didn't bother with it.

Also, I had to bake them an extra 10 minutes. You know — if you're going to try it.

Then I did a serious purge of the old wooden recipe box that used to be Mom's, and threw out recipes that I never make or that I have on file on the computer or on the STUBBLEJUMPERS RECIPE COLLECTION webpage or, simply, recipes that can easily be found online if ever I want to make them. The box was overstuffed to the point that I seemed to be filing things behind the wrong letter half the time anyway.

 Maybe I'm misremembering, but it seems to me that this recipe is better than the one for brownies over at Stubblejumpers. Though you can't really go wrong with brownies, can you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Banana Split Boy

The thought of eating a banana split never appealed to me. Then I had one and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they are.

I haven't had one since, but nevertheless I said to Everett that we should go down to the dairy bar one evening this summer so he could sample one.

By the time I ate a chicken burger I was too full for dessert, but he still had an appetite after his deep-fried perogies and his mozza sticks, so he went up to the counter and got a banana split.

The verdict?
Ah. Okay. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cows and their Cud

Emil wanted to be sure to see Aunt Reta one more time before she leaves this week, so on Sunday afternoon we climbed into the half-ton and drove out to Neil and Rose's northeast of Margo, my home town.

On the way we passed several swathers out cutting canola, and a small herd of cattle.

"Mom," says Emil. "Do cows chew their cud standing up?"

I don't know, says I. They probably lie down to do it, says I.

"Shayla, Kathy Hoffman's daughter, says they chew it standing up too," he says.

Maybe they do, says I. We'll ask Scott. He'll know for sure.

Stay tuned for the definitive answer from the Cow Boy himself.

My cousin Heather and one of her two girlysues were leaving Neil and Rose's around the same time as Emil and I were. 
When we got home, my brother Cameron arrived from Alberta to spend the night.

Making his breakfast this morning
Today he's gone golfing — it's a gorgeous day, not too hot, not too cold, and not too windy — and then will go see Neil and Rose, and I expect will be back here sometime tomorrow, and Reta too.

I'm baking a batch of bread to send home with him. It'll be out of the oven in an hour and then I'm heading outside. It's just the right weather for this Goldilocks to take a walk.

Whenever my ex-hub Gord is out here, I give him several loaves of bread and say "Give Cameron a loaf or two."
Cameron says, "What? That s.o.b.! He never has. He's not getting any of these."
They live in the same condo complex in St. Albert.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Old Dog New Trick

When you are an old dog with a limp, you don't stop having that irrational love for taking walks with your humans. Stay home? Skip it? Never!

I say "irrational" because Jenna Doodle is a farm dog, which means she is outside all the time (except in thunderstorms when she is terrified, and in 30-below when the heated pad in her insulated doghouse might not keep her warm enough) and she can go for a walk any time she pleases.

And yet when I go out and she and Ducky Doodle think I might be going for a walk, they both frisk and leap about like pups. They are so excited and happy that their enthusiasm rubs off on me. I guess it's a dog thing, that's all. A walk with the pack, perhaps, is more highly valued than a solitary wander.

Pulling the "age card," when I get tired and sore I lie down in the road and wait, knowing that Kathy and Ducky will pick me up on their way back home. - Signed, Jenna Doodle, age 13 (at least)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Handle Hopes Dashed

So I'm just getting my teeth into that Charleston Attic website when Scott comes home and starts frying up side pork.

"What are your plans for the rest of the day?" I ask, still in my pyjamas and housecoat. "It's your night to have supper with Grandma, and you'll go in an hour early to visit your dad. Anything else?"

It's rainy so he can't hay or make bales;  he was in town already this morning, working on a house addition.

"Maybe I'll get these handles on," he says.

"Woo hoo!" I think, but don't say. We've had them for two or three weeks now, but he's been busy.

What I say is, "Oh! I'd better get these dishes done then." Why I think he'd need a clean countertop, I don't know; he takes the doors off and the drawers out anyway, right?

But anyway, the dishes need doing so I do them.

Alas, I am meant to be disappointed, because he takes quite a while weighing just where and how he's going to place them on the wood, and then he has a little nap, and then someone asks for a favour and he leaves the house to do it, and then he delivers the favour before heading for Kelvington to do his visiting and supping.

Sigh. Maybe tomorrow.

Charleston Attic

Look what I've found!

"Charleston, home of twentieth century artists, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and their daughter Angelica Garnett, was the Sussex retreat of the Bloomsbury Group. It is now a successful house museum, and from April 2014 will host a series of Heritage Lottery-funded curatorial internships. This blog is a record of our work cataloguing, researching and interpreting the Angelica Garnett Gift from the Charleston attic – overlooked by a bust of Virginia Woolf."

There goes the rest of my morning.

Furnace in August

I thought twice about it, but then I did it: turned the furnace on.

This girl ain't walking around a 67F house all day.

Even if she did sleep till almost 10 o'clock, and only got up then because little Ducky was scratching like crazy at the porch door and when she let him in, she found he had torn into a bag of garbage Scott left in the porch so she had cleanup to do. Goddamn dogs (and men).

Now Scott, he left the house at 7:30 (she knows because that's when Ducky asked to be let outside and she got up the first time) and must've gone to work. No weekends off for that boy.

Friday, August 21, 2015


How many times have I gone to plug something into a wall socket, and had to pull the end back and turn it around so that the appropriate side goes into the slot that fits? A thousand, I'm sure. It only takes a second or two, but it irritates the hell out of me.

I'm one of those people who, once they have a goal, has some trouble re-setting it. Tunnel vision? One-track minded? Inflexible? I am getting where I'm going, come hell or high water; sometimes I can't even see that there is a ferry I could take, rather than forcing my way on foot through the waves and getting soaked over top of my waders.

A sensible person would examine electrical plugs and sockets and see if there is a visible sign clearly indicating — and quickly — which side goes into which side of the socket. It's probably simple and obvious, if I'd but take the time for a closer look. One side is wider than the other, and maybe it's marked on the rubber. And probably the wide side always goes on the right.

It's all in the details, and in slowing down and paying attention to them.

Elegant lavatera