Thursday, December 31, 2009

We've Made It Another Year

You see four of me? What have you been drinking?

It's cold and snowy outside, warm and toasty inside. Just me and Emil all week; "quiet," he says, without Everett and Scott in the house.

I've got to work a bit yet before driving a mile south to stay overnight with Emil, watching comedy specials on the tube. Maybe he'll be up for his favourite movie, Roger Rabbit, tonight. He always says he wants to watch it with me, but never feels like it when I suggest it. Whatever happens, it'll be a lovely relaxing evening in front of the woodstove.
Emil and I are missing Scott's nephew's wedding shindig in Calgary tonight, so Scott will have to cut enough rug for both of us. The whole clan "motored to" Calgary, as they used to say in our local news write-ups. Unfortunately Scott didn't take the camera; but he did get a blackberry and can take pictures with it. Which should be useful for my blog, because he has a good eye. He didn't take the blackberry either. He didn't leave his head behind, no. What do you mean?


So here's to you ...
[I'll tip a glass later, in front of the Christmas tree]
See you on the flip side, as they say.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The road to Saskatoon.

Everett and I left before 8 a.m. yesterday in spite of radio warnings not to travel unless it couldn't be avoided. The highway was covered with snow that had fallen through the night and more was expected, bringing with it poor visibility. And of course it had to be about 25-below.

I've heard these kinds of warnings before and then, once out on the highway, wondered what they were talking about. Not this time though. Even though I drove slowly and carefully, it was pretty ugly and more than once I considered turning back. What traffic was behind us whizzed past as if the road conditions were no danger (I don't understand that, but then I was out there so must count myself among the idiots), and what traffic we met swirled up the snow so badly that for a few moments it was nearly impossible to see where we were going.

At the halfway point things were looking pretty bleak. We picked up breakfast at a drive-through and then carried on. The snow had stopped falling and the snowplows were out. I got Everett to the bus depot on time and got him on his way to Edmonton before heading over to Cathy's and having a relaxing cup of tea. Icy roads and deep cold combined with impatient drivers are a terribly stressful combination.

We had a nice visit, I got to see Cathy's girls too, we watched Julie and Julia last night (Meryl Streep -- wow, she is something else) and this afternoon I hit the highway and headed for home. It was minus-20 or so but the highway was decent this time.

The road home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And Finally, the Flooring

Look what Scott did!

He finished late last night.

It's true what they say about laminate flooring though. It may be relatively inexpensive, stand up well, and look pretty, but it shows every footprint so that when the sunlight shines on it, it looks dirty.

We thought we'd risk it for several reasons, one of which is that there is natural light only from north-facing windows in the room where we put it, and I thought maybe footprints would be less likely to show up so much. But no -- wrong again.

The other reason was that Scott was still talking about enlarging the dining room someday, and so the flooring would need to be replaced anyway. We got such a good deal on this laminate that we figured it wouldn't hurt us too badly if it had to be torn up.


Just finishing up the morning's work and will put in another couple hours, then head for Kelvington to deliver Grandma's Christmas present. Found a really nice set of wool hat, scarf and matching gloves, all of which she needs. She doesn't go out much, but the hood of her coat is so large that she always complains, when she pulls it over her head, that she can't see. Even the thin little leather gloves that she used to have have gone missing. And the headscarves she wears tend to be thin silky material, not anything warm. So we'll get her fixed up.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Foggy and Cool

New elevator in fog, old elevator with bins on right.

Finally got some Christmas shopping and treat-making done, so just have some wrapping to do now.

Emil's decided to stay home this year because Gunnar (Scott's giant lad) is coming out from Calgary for a couple days and Emil wants to see him. So Everett (my giant lad) put up the Christmas tree last night and decorated it.

On Wednesday I'll drive Everett into Saskatoon to catch the bus to Edmonton. It'll be a first for him so he's nervous, especially after the horrific murder that took place on a bus in Manitoba about a year ago. Can't blame him, although it could have happened on the street or anywhere -- when people are crazy, they're crazy no matter where they are and even though there was a bus full of people, no one was able to help the young man who was killed.

We both got haircuts today after school and later we stopped at a restaurant for a snack — for me, baklava and tea; for Everett, cheesetoast, potato wedges and coke. We found a gift for the boys' dad and then gassed up for the trip and dropped off some almond rocha and whipped shortbread for the fellow who's brought vanilla back for me from Mexico on his last two holidays and won't let me pay him for it. He scratches my back ... I scratch his.

Another hour to work before I call it a night. Have managed to bank up enough hours that I can take three days off this week, with pay. It'll feel like a real holiday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Starry Starry Night

Shoot! We had a going-away gathering for Audrey tonight, and I never thought of taking the digital camera out of my purse. D'uh. So you're stuck with Evil Kate, taken by the handy photo booth built into the computer.
Don't mess with me.
You can see why I am feared by children.

It's warmed up! Woo hoo! I think it was minus-11C sometime today; Aunt Jean's mink coat wasn't really needed tonight.

That's it for my report. It's midnight, it's starry, and it's time to climb into bed and do some reading. Last night at nine I figured I'd get my nightie on and lie under the covers listening to the radio, then get up and do a little bit on the computer. Alas I could not stay awake. It's not very often that I am pulled so deeply and quickly into sleep.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pings Bangs and Creaks

Can you watch the stars glitter through your bedroom window as you lie in the dark? I can. And the moon. And sometimes even a planet makes its way through my line of vision during a long night.


I could say it's quiet, alone here in this house. But it's not. The furnace is running a lot, trying to keep the house warm. There are pings and bangs and creaks that give me the heebie-jeebies, though I know it's just the ductwork expanding and contracting. These are the times a nice well-behaved little deer-faced chihuahua would be nice to have around. Unless he barked at every noise.

The boys were home from school yet again today when the schoolbuses didn't go out due to the cold, and Scott was down with something flu-like. I went over to make a phone call for work and put together a couple meatloaves; one for a potluck tomorrow night and one for the deep freeze. We've already got a lot of leftovers to get through and with Scott not feeling up to snuff, there's no point preparing more food till Thursday. Not till the roast chicken and the chili disappear from the fridge.


Last night a pack of coyotes was howling close to the yard. Poor animals, they must suffer in this extreme weather without insulated doghouses and flax-bale duplexes and an easy supply of food.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grandma's Christmas Party

Emil isn't quite ready to part with Grandma.

He and Everett attended the lodge's Christmas party one afternoon last week; I flitted through, both before and after running errands around town.

They had musicians (a fiddler and a piano player) — a visit from Santa — and a pretty good-looking lunch, from what I saw.


It's cold. The radio this morning said 30-below in Saskatoon; 49 below with wind chill. Fortunately the sun shone all day. I put my gloves inside my mittens, consigned my "extreme cold" jacket to the laundry room as not worthy (my arms are cold in it), and dug out Aunt Jean's mink coat. Picture me — three-quarter-length fur coat, one of those tuques with braided ties, black ski pants and white Sorels. The picture of fashion, no, but pretty much warm. Still I didn't try to stay out much longer than from house to car, without a good hood; the wind bites. They were warning this morning to keep your skin covered, as it could freeze in seconds.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Bubble lights go up in the kitchen. Note that "fine figure of a man."

I've been busy working in here at my desk and Scott's been trimming windows, replacing baseboards, hanging light fixtures and so on. Very time-consuming. It's a pleasant change to have someone else in the house with me.

The only drawback is that Scott likes commercial radio stations or a CD blaring loudly while he toils, and thus I grit my teeth while hoping my head won't explode. Hey, if that's what it takes to make progress in this place ...

It is still miserably cold out — down in the minus-thirties with wind, today — but the sun is shining. Sadly, even though all the windows are brand new, they still collect water and ice along the bottom of the glass and in the corners and today after I did dishes the ones on the north side are completely steamed up. I thought that was an "old windows" thing. Guess not. Or, as Scott says, these windows aren't properly engineered for our weather. They were made in Calgary, where the climate is drier. Hmph. I think the windows are flawed, period. But they're in now, so what're ya gonna do? Keep soaking up water from the sills before it runs down the walls and puddles on the cork flooring, that's what.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who's in the Doghouse?

Chloe gets up and stretches her legs before bounding toward me.

I'm on my way out with a bucket of water in one hand and a bucket of dog and cat food in the other. A heated blue dish sits next to the new doghouse setup, so that their drinking water doesn't turn to solid ice.
A gentleman in town builds animal shelters in his backyard workshop, and I asked him to construct an insulated one big enough for two German shepherd-size dogs that would, if they had half a brain, keep each other warm inside it. Within a week he delivered it, with a hinged roof so we can easily install a heat-giving lightbulb should we choose. Scott tacked a piece of carpet over the door to keep the cold air out.
Alas, the old dog will not let the young one inside so poor Chloe would lie outside the door, as close to the old dog as she can get, on top of some flax straw. She'd be covered in frost in the morning.
So the doghouse has been moved over beside the long shed and surrounded with flax bales, formed to create a central chamber for the pup, next to the door. From there a short tunnel turns into an entryway. There Chloe likes to lie during the day and soak up the sun. We fear that the old dog has commandeered the central chamber too and may not even be letting the pup that far in. Might have to build a duplex with separate entrances.
Dogs. Gotta love 'em but they can be a pain in the ass.

Today's listening:
CBC Radio's current affairs show
cd: Joni Mitchell, Night Ride Home
cd: Doc MacLean, Narrow House

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

House Ghost

Me 'n Pa.

Naturally the weather cooled off when he flew in from Kelowna— that was to be expected— but it came as a shock to have the mercury drop into the minus-thirties just as Dad was getting ready to leave. I know he will be glad to get the hell out of here tomorrow when his flight leaves Saskatoon.

He spent the week at Karen's— she at least has a decent bed to offer to guests and frankly I'd rather eat her cooking than my own— and got in as much visiting in the area as he could. There were a lot more old friends he'd like to have seen but only so much time and energy; even I, Number One Child, felt fortunate to get to see him three times while he was here. Dad and I are both of the "said all there is to say in the first half-hour" camp and, while I can sit longer than he can, I didn't have to since two of the visits were in my kitchen and I could keep a little bit busy while making conversation. Dad's ass suffered on the wooden kitchen chairs. Can't wait to get moved over here to the comfy padded swivel chairs with arm rests; then a person might be able to sit and chat in comfort.

Scott's got the bathtub drained and everything in working order once again. Though I've told him he's insulted the resident ghost because inexplicable annoyances keep popping up for him to deal with. One day he'd made the morning coffee and we'd been here some hours afterward, and then I left for a while and came back to discover the 10-litre plastic jug, nearly full and thus heavy with drinking water, had somehow tipped onto its side and leaked through the loose lid, leaving a large puddle of water on the kitchen floor. How could that have happened? Scott is not the kind of person who leaves lids loose or full water-jugs precariously balanced; I'm the kind of person who does that sort of thing, but I hadn't been near the water jug that day.

He better make friends with that ghost, that's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Buncha Bull Dung

Someone left a remark in Everett's textbook.

Sometimes ya just have to.

When Scott says this is a house from hell, he may not be that far off. He did some painting in here this afternoon, then cleaned his brushes in the kitchen sink.
I smelled a strong sewer odour but thought it must be the paint fumes, though they seemed more intense and gaseous than before.
Finally Scott noticed the bathtub half-full of white liquid – what he’d washed down the sink had come up in the tub.
WTF? And it’s still there, even after he took the plunger to it.
He is hornswoggled as to what’s going on now; the kitchen drainpipe must be clogged somewhere, he says, but how on earth the liquid made its way to the bathtub ... It seems to be one thing after another and we are just shaking our heads. And cursing loudly, in his case.
Scott will figure out what’s wrong and what to do about it but one can see why he’s tired of the whole ball game.You’ve finally taken a step ahead and then have to stop and take care of some new problem. And it’s constant – one thing after the other. Will it ever end? It doesn’t appear so. What else can possibly be or go wrong with this place? It’s beyond common sense already.