Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Coos

"What the hell was that?" I wondered, lying there listening in the wee hours, hoping to hear it again. It was a long drawn-out low-voiced howl coming from a little distance but not far beyond the bedroom window, which I keep open all night long in order to hear the birds and breathe in that fresh, scented, cool air.

It was not a sound I'd heard before. Not a coyote; not a wolf, which I've only heard on TV or radio. Later that day when I got home from work, I did a search for cougar vocalizations and didn't recognize it there either.

"I'm going to have a look at my buddies across the road," said Scott. "I haven't seen them yet today." There's a lot of space over there and they can graze back behind the bush or lie in the shade of the trees.

The small herd that was pasturing around our yard has been moved over the road to Scott's parents' land, for fresh eating. The moment they hear him start up the riding mower, they come at a gallop and wait impatiently for the grass clippings to be thrown over the fence:

The "coos," as my Scottish brother-in-law would call them. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Always Look at the Menu

"Don't you know," says my boy, "that it's restaurant etiquette to always look at the menu?"

This in response to my query as to why he was looking at the menu when he always orders the exact same thing: a grilled cheese sandwich on brown bread, with fries. 

We often, though not always, walk down to one of the cafés for supper on Thursday nights. It's a nice way to have our little visit. Often I'd take the Chinese food smorg, but have given that up in favour of a small plate of poutine: an unhealthy decadence I allow myself once a week and hope my arteries won't mind. 

Last Thursday our meal was paid for by the grey-haired gentleman sitting in the distance, who called out something about buying supper for "that skinny girl." Moi? Pfft. But I don't mind being called skinny; that's no insult to a woman who was taught from the time she was 12 years old that if she didn't count her calories and be careful, she was going to be fat. As if it was inevitable. Mom was always trying to lose weight. 

Eventually I saw that the inevitability of being a chubby adult woman was not a fact but simply a belief about reality, and I could choose to believe something different about what I could expect from my body. But that's another story. 

Yesterday when one of my co-workers pronounces me "scrawny" after I quip, while taking a third Dad's Goodie Ring, that too many cookies won't help me keep "my girlish figure," it's a welcome reinforcement. And apparently my clothing is doing a good job of camouflaging my muffin top!

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Maggie Turner has left a new comment on your post "Working Today": 
Critters Kate! The rabbits are eating my Mom's garden, right down to the ground. We have rabbits here, but I haven't seen any lately, and so far our garden is surviving. There are two local cats that wander the neighbourhood, and they use our front garden as a toilet, but what the heck, at least the plants there grow, and we wear gloves and masks when digging there, which we seldom do. The cats seldom catch birds, but stalk mice and chipmunks. The chipmunks are on the rebound though, watched a tiny chipmunk jumping at a grackle in the backyard this past weekend, it was funny to watch and the grackle won out, gave up no ground until the chipmunk gave it up.

I love pets, but in an urban setting they are a big responsibility and quite an expense. I have to make due fraternizing with the cat from across the street, who comes to visit often and is very friendly.

Funny old world, your years raising kids were the best of your life, mine were not much fun due to active ill will from third parties I care not to mention in polite society. Grandchildren, on the other hand, are remarkably, unexpectedly, wonderful. I guess we find our joy in life, wherever and whenever it is offered! 

Well I have yet to experience grandchildren, so maybe I'll change my mind about when the best years are!
Farmyards really need a couple barn cats, it seems. They live a dangerous life, the incorrigible hunter being also the prey of foxes and coyotes, but I think it's a good life, one with freedom they'd choose for themselves if they could. 

Secret Agent Woman has left a new comment on your post "Working Today": 
Why is the squirrel a bad thing to have around? We have loads of them. A few bunnies and chipmunks, too. 

They can make a mess and damage property, and we have quite a few outbuildings. Otherwise we wouldn't mind a few about the place. 

Ralph Goff has left a new comment on your post "Working Today": 
Yes, coyotes killed a lot of my cats. Down to 3 tom cats now. I need a dog to scare off the racoons that are way too numerous. I've had a small number of squirrels here for years and I keep a close watch to see they don't get too numerous. They look nice but they are just rats with bushy tails. 

It sounds like Scott is picking up a couple barn cats tonight from a farm whose cat population has gotten too high. 

Wisewebwoman has left a new comment on your post "Working Today": 
Yes, a wise move with so much at stake and those other predators to worry about.

We think so too. Little Ducky is afraid to go off the step after dark to "do his business." I have to stand out there and wait for him. That won't be so pleasant in the winter! Right now it's very nice, as the mosquitoes haven't arrived by the horde yet. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Working Today

The up-side of not having a farm dog or a barn cat is that you see more rabbits in your yard, and the birds have a better chance of survival.

We know we have to get a couple cats, otherwise we'll be overrun by rodents, or our outbuildings will. They are already making nests in the quonset where Scott keeps his construction tools, his grain truck, the riding mower, and so on. That's probably unavoidable, but a cat in the territory tends to decimate their numbers considerably. 

We've been putting off getting the cats in order to give the baby bunnies and the baby ruffed grouse a chance, but yesterday I saw something just outside the back door that made me get on the horn and call the man who is going to give us barn cats. 

It's something we've never seen in this yard: a squirrel. Scott saw one down the road about a week ago and figured it might make it as far as our place, and apparently it has. 
With luck, it will move out when the cats move in. 

Next we'll have to think about giving a farm dog a home. 
It's been nice to be without one;  nice to see the rabbits eating the dandelions (see below) even though I've been worried they'd get to my flowers eventually. 

But one day Scott saw a big coyote stroll through the yard. We watch our little Ducky Doodle closely when he's outside. We go out with him! You'd think he was a toddler. 

A barking dog will warn off the coyotes and foxes. Not completely, mind you. They'll still sneak around. That's probably what took our last barn cat. But a territorial dog gives the cats a better chance at survival, and with luck will scare off skunks and raccoons somewhat, and maybe keep deer out of the garden and flowers. 

We shall see.

Helping Scott with the dandelions.
Friday's the Canada Day holiday, so I am working today. Off I go!

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Teresa has left a new comment on your post "Rainy Weekend": 
Your post brought back memories of when dad thought this was a great way to wake us up 

Maybe I have no business complaining. I used to wake up my boychiks with a song: 
"It's time to get up! It's time to get UP!
We're all in our places
With sunshiny faces
This is the WAY 
to start
a new DAY!"
Oh for the good old days when the kids lived at home. Not that I'd go back to them. But they were among the best days of my life. I'm sure, however they wake up now, they prefer it. Yet when I'm dead they'll have a few fond memories, and the morning song might be one.

Lorna has left a new comment on your post "Rainy Weekend": 
Personally, and neutrally, I think the positives outweigh the hollering, but I wasn't there. 

I agree, although it's in my nature to shoot for perfection.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rainy Weekend

"Get up!"  The bedroom door bursts open and a man's dark silhouette fills the opening. "You can help me load up the truck. We'll go to the dump and then to town for breakfast."

I ungrit my teeth and make a quick decision: today I won't kill him for waking me in that rude fashion. Slowly my heartbeat returns to normal. Breakfast in town sounds good; I can have bacon without having to clean the fatty mess from a frying pan, one of my least favourite kitchen duties. 

But hurry on a Saturday morning? I think not. Besides, hurrying only slows me down. I wash and dress at my usual speed, and by the time I get out to the truck he's got it loaded already. We drive north and west and north and west and north again to the landfill site. 

It's a rainy day and he says "You might as well stay inside; it's muddy" and I don't argue; I'm grateful to be let off the hook. He unloads the truck, which is pulled in alongside a neighbour's, and I listen to the two of them chatting back and forth as they throw garbage onto heaps. 

It ain't pretty. 
I pull a library book out of my bag: Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes.

My fella gets a few things right. One: suggest your gal remain warm and dry while you muck out the truck; she will feel like a queen. Two: take her for breakfast and eat the second fried egg, the hashbrowns and the last strip of bacon on her plate; she likes to see a man with a hearty appetite. Three: pop across the street for groceries and then grab all the full bags from the checkout, even when she is perfectly willing to carry some. She admires your manly strength. 

There is still one thing he has not learned after 16 years together: wake her gently, softly, politely. Thunder is not the best way to start the day. 

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Lorna has left a new comment on your post "It's Press Day, No Time to Play!": 
my first reading of the day. you made it so easy. 

How kind of you to say, Lorna, when you were probably really thinking, "Pfft, why the hell did I bother?" and who could blame you?

Erin Kelly has left a new comment on your post "Mr. Scruffy Turns 28": 
Happy birthday to Emil! 

Thanks, I'll tell him!

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's Press Day, No Time to Play!

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Teresa has left a new comment on your post "Mr. Scruffy Turns 28": 
A Belated Happy Birthday! Wishing you well. 

Thanks Teresa, I'll pass that on. He enjoyed his evening, taking birthday phone calls like a celebrity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mr. Scruffy Turns 28

Yes indeed, I am ancient! 
I still feel about 14 years old on the inside, so it's a peculiar reminder, with my eldest turning 28, that time has surely been passing much more quickly than I can really grasp. 

On Emil's birthday, he was able to spend the day with his favourite aide, Tracy. They came out this afternoon and we had freshly baked brownies with ice cream, and they were going back to town to pick up takeout for supper for everyone at his group home. They'd had birthday cake at lunchtime and they were going to have birthday cake again after supper. 

Just waiting for that brownie and ice cream.

Before they arrived, I took a few minutes to flip through the journal of 1988 to see what might be worth sharing here, if anything. Wow, a person doesn't realize how much is forgotten 28 years later!

I guess it's okay to be reminded. Some of it makes me cringe, though, and I wouldn't want it read by anyone else. Other parts are quite sweet. Damn, such a mixture that I can't just throw them all out, and will have to go through each one. And that's a mixed bag too — I don't want to revisit everything just to find the odd gem. Too boring. Who has time? Or wants to spend the time they do have, that way? Not this old gal. 

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Annette Erickson on "Birds and Wood Ticks": 
Tics and caterpillars, those are the two of the three creatures I absolutely detest and can't stand. The other one is mice. Gross me out! 

I literally shuddered while reading these words. That tells us something, doesn't it.
I don't mind caterpillars; as a matter of fact, I picked some of the tent caterpillars off the oaks and roses with my BARE HANDS. Could hardly believe it, myself.
But I can't squash them. 
And I feel guilty for killing them, especially if it's not done instantly and painlessly. I'm kind of ashamed of myself for the way I did it. Not telling.

Maggie Turner on "Birds and Wood Ticks": 
Kate, we killed hundreds and hundreds of tent caterpillars at our camp, and when we visited yesterday we still had leaves on the trees! It probably had nothing to do with our efforts, the leaves were on the trees everywhere we drove past. We are lucky so far, no ticks, but that could changes anytime, or worse, maybe they are there and we aren't aware enought to know it! 

As long as they're not on you! That's what matters. They're creepy critters and I'm at the end of my rope.

fascinated but scared. your urban friend, Lorna 

The ticks have got me considering city living for a couple months of the year.

Definitely the worst year ever for wood ticks and tent caterpillars here. The caterpillars are pretty much done but they have stripped most of the leaves off the poplars. Hardly a day goes by I don't pull a tick or two off me. They never used to find me but this year, they like me. 

Little bastards. I've been doing some reading. Chickens will eat them and apparently if you have free-range chickens you won't have a tick problem. Just a chicken shit problem -- hee! But you could have the chickens "around" your yard, managed by an electric fence. Hm. If we got chickens here again, Emil would never come out for a weekend or, if he did, he wouldn't go outside and walk around like he does now. He is afraid of chickens. But if I thought chickens would fit the bill, I might just get some anyway. 
Ticks winter-over in leaves. I've been lazy when it comes to leaf removal in the fall, just raking them up and piling them in the bush around the yard. Maybe they actually have to GO. Not that there still wouldn't be leaves in the bush, mind you. Also, I always leave the flowerbeds so that the birds can find seeds there over the winter, and then there is a dead mess there in spring. Maybe the ticks like that too. 
They're a horrible plague and I have to remind myself to be thankful they don't (maybe) carry lyme disease, as some do. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Birds and Wood Ticks

Yep, still alive.
No excuses for not posting every day, as you've been accustomed to. 
It's just life, I guess. 
What've I been doing?

Spending more time outside, I suppose. It's been neither too hot nor too cold; i.e. it's been just right for this here Goldilocks. Even if I'm just out on the step, listening to the birds ... we've got a slough pump (a.k.a. American bittern) in our dugout, which is just behind the house. It's very vocal in the evenings and I'm a-lovin' it. We've also got a catbird that was making a lot of noise before moving into the row of lilac bushes just off the back step, and I was enjoying that too. And of course there is the sora. Or more than one, naturally, of all of the above. And a lot of robins, and barn swallows, and ... the list goes on. 

Slough pump:
This is exactly the way "mine" sound. 
Also, I did see it once. I was on the step, chatting on the phone to Cathy in Saskatoon, and noticed what appeared to be a tall, dark stick among the grasses on the other side of the dugout. I quickly ran for my binoculars for a better look, and sure enough, it was standing there, still as could be, for the longest time. I was thrilled. I'm sure Cathy thought I was a bit nuts, being so excited about a slough pump in my yard. 

But these birds are the best part of living here. 

I guess this is why at at first I couldn't figure out what it was. It was mimicking the other birds around the yard. (And if you watch this video to the end, you'll hear the sounds "my" sora makes, and see a picture of one.)
The sound that convinced me it was a catbird the next day was this one, that actually sounds like a cat:
The surprising thing about the catbird here was that it was perched high up on a leafless branch where it could be plainly seen, which seems unusual for the catbird.

Had enough bird talk?

The wood ticks are still driving me insane. I'm dreaming of moving away for May and June from now on, just to get away from them. It does seem a bit extreme, but they are driving me fucking crazy. 
I tuck my jeans into my socks and smear tick-repelling scented oils onto my leather walking shoes. I spray my long-sleeved white garden shirt with commercial repellent, and put the collar up. I apply the scented oils to my neck, throat, chest, hands, arms, face. I avoid tall grasses, though do have to work in the flower bed so that may well be where I'm picking them up. When I come inside, I check my clothing for ticks. After the outer wear is off, I check my body. I look in the mirror. I feel around my scalp. No ticks. 
Half an hour later, I feel one crawling on my chest. 
Half an hour after that, there's one on my forearm. 
I guess I should be thankful I can feel them on my skin. But I've had enough. Enough already!

Here's what the trees across the road look like now that the tent caterpillars have been through:

Click to enlarge
There seem to be fewer of the worms now, but I've also heard they may go through a second "coming." Yeesh. Nature! It's no wonder humankind keeps trying to control it.

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Maggie Turner on "Holy Cows": 
Ohhhh I really really like that phrase, "The Wrath of Kath"!!! :) 

It has more of a ring than The Bath of Kath! or the pedantic Path of Kath! Actually that second one sounds perfect for a title to a new blog, if I ever get around to it.

I had to read this to my husband: "If I see one more updated profile photo of a homely person with 25 comments like "Beautiful lady!" beneath it, I just might puke. Honestly, people are so full of baloney.

Then there are all the selfies of the women who really are beautiful. But why the hell do we need to see a new photo every other week? Yes you're glamorous. Now get over yourself." 

We have talked about this very thing - the falseness of the admiring comments and the pure narcissism of some posters. And you know, I just posted with a bunch of wedding photos on my blog, but in my defense, I don't do a lot of that. And I definitely don't on FB. I actually like FB well enough for what it is - a way to keep up with family and friends. Bu I don't like the self-righteousness of it. And I use it as a way mostly to just post brief, funny things throughout the day. FB is faster and easier than blogging, but blogging has my heart. 

You heard me! You really heard me! (Said in my best Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars voice.)
I loved seeing your travel and wedding photos on your blog, and would have no matter where you posted them. 
Facebook, like any tool for communication, can be used for "good or evil." Hee! I find it a lot like television; there's plenty of good, worthwhile stuff, but you waste a lot of time with garbage while you're looking for it.

Whew! All's well that ends well, I guess! 

True dat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Holy Cows

It was very nearly a livestock disaster!

I heard a loud rumbling in the driveway and went out to see what was what. It was our neighbour Stuart in his half-ton. He'd found Scott in the yard (damn caraganas at this time of year block the view from the house so that I had no idea he was home; how can I get away with anything, this way?) and the two of them took off down the road. 

Hm, said I to myself. What's going on? A stroll to the end of the driveway gave me a glimpse of their two trucks, one parked near our yard and one near the other end of the grid. They must be chasing cattle, I thought; I'll stay away unless I'm called, because sometimes an unfamiliar person can spook the finicky beasts. 

Back on the step I could hear Scott calling them: KaBoss! KaBoss! Apparently a moose had knocked down the electric fence and the cattle had gone in search of greener pastures. 

Soon the little herd of about a dozen was in our back yard. They came right past Scott's garden, narrowly missing his green peppers and tomatoes. I know this because their tracks are still there, perilously close. 

I worried about my flowers in the front yard; they'd be a tasty treat difficult to pass up and easily destroyed by a stampede, however short and sweet, and that's when the Wrath of Kath would be felt around the Golden Grain Farm. 

Fortunately the cattle were soon steered through an opening in the fence and back where they belonged, without causing any damage. 

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Maggie Turner on Prefers Blogs to Facebook and Twitter": 
I harbour the same sentiments in regard to Facebook Kate. There are a few exceptions though. I belong to a group in Ontario that shares historic photographs of the area where my Granny and Grandpa lived their lives, I read every new post eventually, when I make one of my few visits to FaceBook. The other group I belong to and value is one that shares the history of Glasgow, and there I have found interesting posts that deal with Glasgow around 1820, when my ancestors boarded the boat headed for land grants in the Upper Canada wilderness. I like to know that seldom seen friends are still alive, although I admit I wish they wrote blogs, as all FaceBook does is allow me to know they are still alive. 

Facebook is a good tool for many things ... if it is used with some thought.
Also, one of the biggest drawbacks of going from very active letter-writing to blogging is that now my friends don't write back. They read my blog and don't feel they have to answer a letter. I miss their letters! Oh, how I used to look forward to my trips to the post office!

I think you are both "like" hilarious and "like" accurate! 

Apparently I was in a bitchy mood when I wrote that entry. Hee!

Twitter does not do much for me. Or maybe I just don't follow the right people. I find facebook much more "happening" and way too much interesting stuff for me to look at. I generally skim over the extreme political and religious stuff. I hear a lot about the evils of facebook but for me it has been all good (so far). 

I have begun taking the time to "block" accounts that spread prejudice, hate and ignorance. A few of my friends still do it, alas, and I haven't had the heart to disconnect from them on FB. Just because they aren't deep thinkers or study-ers, doesn't mean I don't still love them! Just as I'm thankful those with more sense than I have still put up with me. People don't have to be perfect. 
For my previous job, I was requested to use FB in order to help reach a wider audience, and so that's what I did. That meant connecting with a lot of people on FB, both personally and professionally, and led to hundreds of "friends." I don't regret that, but I blame it for some of the crap that appears in my FB feed. 
It's no different from life in general, I suppose. There's always some garbage that comes our way, no matter how careful we are to avoid it.

Apologies I've been neglecting reading blogs. Time, she packed up, b'y. 
Lovely family pics. What was that item you mentioned a kind of bread?

Lefse is a Scandinavian dish made with potatoes that are boiled and put through a ricer, then mixed with oil and flour, rolled out thin, and fried on a grill. It's eaten cold (but is delicious fresh from the frying pan too), spread with butter and sprinkled with sugar, then rolled up. That's how my family eats it. Scott's dad once said "Your family is spoiled!" His family eats it with meat rolled up in it. Yuk!
You can see my mother's recipe and also a photo of the lefse here:

Not a fan of Twitter. I like FB mostly because it lets me keep up with the far-flung friends/relatives in my life. 

The occasional wonderful re-connection is what keeps me checking Facebook. I know where you're coming from.
Twitter is another "activity" I was asked to use for my former job, where they needed us to learn how to make use of social media. Like FB, once in while there's something interesting on it, but most of the time, not.
I think I could quit both and not miss either one.

Great post Kate! I use Facebook mostly on a "have to" basis as it's been the best form of advertising for my business in the area I live in. Who would have thought. For my personal use, I spend very little time there. Maybe 10 minutes tops and that's not even every day. Twitter, I am on because it was part of getting my book out there, or supposedly anyway but I have no idea how it works and can't seem to be bothered to learn it or find anyone to teach me how to go about it. 

Out here, some businesses use FB for their advertising because it's free. What they don't understand is that a posting on FB does not reach every person with whom they are "friends," because FB wants you to pay for that. For a fee, FB will make sure your posting gets to a certain number of people (still, not all your connections). Or should I say, it will send your post to your friends' FB feeds. Even that is no guarantee that your post will be seen! I miss a lot of my "friends' " postings simply because I don't read everything there is, every minute of the day. By the time I check my FB feed, a lot of things posted earlier are too far down the page for me to see them. 
FB ads are better than no ads, but they are not as effective as smart advertising in local newspapers, especially where I live. There are a lot of seniors here, and they have no interest in computers or the internet, but they love their Wadena News.
Glad to hear FB has been a good tool for you, though!