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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sneaky Bugger

The harvest is done, and there's no snow.

The other night I made supper at the old place, lit a fire in the woodstove so the basement would be toasty for Scott when he arrived home, and then after waiting till about 8 for him get there, gave up and drove back here to GGFarm.
I stepped into the porch of this completely dark house, dropped my heavy purse, filled up containers of food and water for the dogs and took them back out to the front yard. Before coming in, I grabbed a basket of clean laundry from the van and when I got indoors carried it to the bedroom. There I noticed a still body in the bed, covered from head to toe. Must be Scott, I thought, but that’s funny – I didn't notice his truck when I drove in. Saying nothing, I went out to the entry and hung up my jacket while looking for his coat and shoes. Not seeing them, I began to get nervous: who the hell is in my bed and how the hell did he get in here? Then I saw Scott's cap on the floor and let my breath out.
“But how,” I asked, “did you get here? Your truck's not here.”
His grin was as wide and pleased with itself as a rainbow.
“I drove in right behind you,” he said.
“What? No way.”
“That’s not all. When you went into the house the first time, I came up on the step and stood outside the door. You walked right past me, and I slipped in while you were outside.”
“No way!” I said again. "You're full of it."
“Well, you are oblivious.”
I must be. Granted it was dark, I didn’t expect anyone to be standing there, and I had my hood up so wouldn’t have seen anyone standing so closely to my left. And I bet the bugger followed me with his headlights off, too; there is no way I wouldn’t have seen his truck behind me otherwise.
Hmph. I know I can be absent-minded and since I am a Brilliant Eccentric Aquarian Genius, it's only to be expected. But oblivious? Or, as Scott likes to say to me in another way, "Are they friendly spirits, Bullwinkle?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday All Day

Me and my shadow -- an adolescent Husky/Shepherd cross named Chloe.

I put in four hours on my day job and then, particularly in this gorgeous weather, head out to walk with the girly-sues.

This week Emil and I have been living with mild chest colds, so my walks are short. I don't want to tire myself out. As it is, by suppertime I feel like lying down anyway.

Late in the afternoon I go over to the old place to see Emil and Everett after school and make supper. Once the meal and cleanup are out of the way, and there's been a chance to catch up with Scott after his working day, I hop into my van and drive back here to work an hour on a part-time project I'm involved in (fascinating; involves extensive reading about World War II, which I know far less about than I realized). I aim for bed, and my library books, at about 9 o'clock; but that's on a good night. Lately I don't seem to get there till 10 or later.

Right now I'm reading The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews. It's about a young woman who returns from a broken relationship in France to take care of her sister's two kids when her sister ends up in a psychiatric hospital. They take an odyssey across the States to find the kids' dad. Toews is the author of A Complicated Kindness, which won the Governor General's Award a few years ago and was a finalist for the Giller Award. Great sense of humour, this gal.

This ice wouldn't hold me yet, but it's so tempting to strap on my skates and go for a glide.

Chloe also shadows Casper, the 14-year-old lady.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Table

After school.

~Mon night~
I worked here in the office this afternoon, then went home to make supper and work in the kitchen for a couple hours before coming back here (after a delay to watch the last half of Battle of the Blades; the skaters I liked least, won).
When I arrived at the house Everett hadn’t been home from school long. He was coming back from the barn, where he goes to feed the cats every day, and then pulled out his math homework at the kitchen table. He was in a talkative mood so I got a glass of skim milk and a couple of his fantabulous cookies and sat down to snack and chat.
He mimicked this kid in his class who mumbles so badly that Everett asked him to repeat himself about four times and still didn’t understand; another student sitting nearby had to tell Everett what he was saying: “Can I borrow your notes?”
I laughed till I cried. Literally.

Why is there an onion in a bowl on your kitchen table, you ask?
I got an email touting a raw unpeeled onion as the sucker-upper of flu and cold viruses. You're supposed to keep one by your bed and even in every room in your house.
Should have checked it out on, as it's not too likely that onions are a miracle preventive or healer. Thought it worth a try though; the worst that can happen is I'm out the cost of a bag of onions.

Kate, that gourd you gave me is still drying on the kitchen table.

To make it easy for him, the envelope for Scott's donation to the Lung Association is ready to go to the post office, awaiting only the tucking-in of a cheque.

Sudoku puzzle book: thank you Luanne, now Everett and I are both doing them.

Grandma Johnson's candlesticks, on a doilie she crocheted.

A cloth measuring tape I just bought so I can get the right length of Emil's inseam. Shirley, when I got you to shorten those pants for him, I overlooked the fact that the pair I gave you to figure length were also too long.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do I Have To?

You can't see the shovel in his right hand, but his attitude is showing from miles away.

"Why do I have to?" he wants to know, when I send him out to dig in the garden. At the moment he's moving a line of speedwells forward and he is not happy about it. He feels used and abused.

The boys have three days off school. Emil got the sniffles and has stayed indoors since Sunday evening, but Everett has been conscripted into his mother's service. Earlier he pruned dead flower stocks, and yesterday he decimated the lambs' ear population. Oh, the agony of it all.

I'm stuck at this computer for another three hours today, so had best get back at it. Wish I could trade places with the kid.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Too Many Books, Too Little Time

The latest stack of library books.

I also scored one of Gabrielle Roy's memoirs at the recycling centre in town. Hard cover, to boot.

Homesick, while begun, is set aside to return without finishing. It's about a woman who's moved to her parents' for help raising her son. Didn't hold me. Its author is the Saskatoon writer responsible for The Englishman's Boy.
The Mystery Guest was skimmed but left me wondering why I wanted to read it. No doubt I heard a radio interview with the author and the book sounded scintillating. But again, the printed page did not hold me. The narrator had been called out of the blue by an old love who'd dumped him with no explanation five years earlier. Now she called, invited him to be the one unknown guest at a dinner party; the narrator is certain all will come clear when he sees her again. But by now I don't care.
Home Land has been added to the pile of go-back-unreads.
On the other hand The Bookshop, which I picked up this morning and had nearly finished before noon, is a short and lively little tale of a widowed Englishwoman who opens up a bookstore in an old house shared with a poltergeist. Engaging from start to finish, unless things change at this late point in the story. I'll be diving back into it first chance I get.

I'm grateful to my local librarian for not complaining when I ask her to order in so many books for me, particularly when I don't read them all. If they don't snag me, why should I? Too many books, too little time. My motto.


Saw a bull and a mare moose on my way to Kelvington last night. The bull moose walked along the bush before turning sharply to disappear into it. As he made his way in, he had to sway his huge dark head from side to side so as not to bang his wide rack on the bars of naked poplar trunks.
I was thrilled. It’s still rare, to me, to see a moose. I stopped and snapped photos but it was too dark for them to turn out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lovely Days

New steps and door on the porch.

Over the past few days Scott and Devon have put in a few hours around the place, when they could squeeze it in between construction jobs for paying customers, and field work. This is a temporary step, I'm told; all it needs now is a railing so that Emil can get in and out of the house without crawling up and down or ascending and descending with his elbow crutches, which makes me nervous.

I'd had a quick bath late yesterday afternoon (there aren't many things more pleasurable than immersing one's body in warm water, are there? mmmmmmm) in preparation to meet Faye and Rick and friends in Kelvington for a steak and lobster supper at the bar, when Scott came in from the field and started stripping off his clothes to get into the tub. We've had this beautiful weather for a couple days and the men could finally get into the field and combine, and he knew he couldn't or shouldn't really be leaving to go out for supper, but ... there he was, terribly torn. I suggested that getting the crop off might be more important than keeping a supper date, particularly when this weather was a freak of nature and could be gone by tomorrow. So he took that and ran with it, straight back out to the combine. I went off without him and, due to a headache coming on, came home right after the meal but bearing Scott's steak and half my own supper in a styrofoam container. He got into the house shortly after I arrived home and was happy to gobble it all down. I took a pill and went straight to bed. Slept like a baby and got up in time to catch up on this week's episodes of Coronation Street, whence I laughed so boisterously a couple times that Everett rolled over on the couch, where he's been sleeping, and watched the rest of the shows with me.

And so on and so forth ... made breakfast/lunch for Scott, Devon, Emil and myself; did the dishes beforehand and again afterward; and headed over here to put Everett to work washing window exteriors while it's so nice out. Can't find the window cleaner Scott thought he saw here, so am heading back to the old place for some vinegar and shall return and get to work myself.

That's my weekend. How's yours been?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

King Don

Dad at the Benson family gathering this summer. He looked so formidable that I asked Joan to photoshop the lawn chair out and replace his disposable glass, etc with something more royal. I would not feel too confident if I had to throw myself on the mercy of King Don. Would you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday All Darn Day

My afternoon walk.

There was a thin layer of ice on the water.

Today, water is laying on the driveway and it is warm enough to go out without a coat.


Kathy, we should meet in the middle. I'll bring Rooty and you bring Stella, and we'll exchange. I know someone whose old Retriever is so old his face is almost white. They will soon have an "opening" for some wayward hound.


I have been very tempted by a chihuahua mix named Dora. But I let Scott talk me out of offering her a home. I do sort of regret it though, and if I should hear that Dora was on her way to the Auschwitz for dogs I'd step in and take her before letting that happen.

Gotta work. Went to Kuroki this morning to drop off the household garbage and Karen was home so I drove out to her place for a cuppa kaffee.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Late Harvest

The crop still isn't in.

Scott and his dad thought they'd be able to combine today, but the grain was too tough. Maybe tomorrow.

There is still some snow on the ground, as you can see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pupskin Full of Dog

This little fella needs a home.

From his current caregiver:
"He is intelligent, playful but calm, quiet, looks before he investigates. Has started to play with a ball and is good to chew on a bully stick (or my dog's elbows) and not my stuff.
I've started leash work and he sleeps in a kennel. Quit crying after the first night. He can go up and down stairs but still hesitates a bit going up.
I named him Rooty Root Bear (Rooty) because if I had an orange t-shirt for him, that's who he'd look like!"

In northern Saskatchewan, as in many other places, people don't or can't spend the money to have their pets spayed. Often hungry pups as well as older dogs are left to roam the streets; they often pack up and become a serious danger to humans as well as other animals. Many end up at the pound and are put to death after several weeks.

There is a small crew of softhearted individuals (my sister Karen among them) that takes these abandoned dogs from the pound before the date of "execution" arrives, and makes valiant attempts to find responsible homes for them. Little Rooty here is one of the lucky ones; he's in his halfway house now and waiting to be adopted. And isn't he a cutie?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trip to My Lu, My Darling

Luanne's house at Rocky Lake.

Along the drive north, I saw wondrous things of all kinds to put on the webpage. However, I was due to meet Luanne at quitting time in The Pas, where she works, so there was no time to dawdle. I promised myself that on the way home I'd meander and stop whenever something caught my fancy.

After not seeing Luanne for 15 years, it was pretty great to clap eyes on her. She looks better than ever. I swear, girls, you're all just getting more beautiful each year. (Can that be?)

Apparently I kept Luanne from working from dawn till sunset all weekend, as she normally does when she's home instead of hanging out at her beau's part of the time. All we two lazy asses did was chop and puree her ripe garden tomatoes to freeze for winter soups, go for a six-km walk and bring in her wood supply for the next two weeks. (In the photo that's an axe in her hand. I was in charge of the wheelbarrow.) She also baked bread; she makes the best bread. But I fixed the clasp on her cookie jar! See, I at least tried to keep up with her. It was a lazy weekend for both of us.

The drive up was nearly an hour longer than it should have been because I missed a corner twice. Yeah, after that I got out my map. (Don't say a word, Janie.) Contrary to expectation, the highway was not lined with dark evergreens alone. The tamaracks were in full autumn colours, and that was good enough for me. Their gorgeous orange brightened things up.

To get to Lu's I'd taken the Swan River route, which is pretty much straight south of The Pas, and so on the way home on Monday I decided to cut east toward Hudson Bay instead. There is a long, long stretch with hardly anything in the way of buildings or people to be seen, but I did notice this little graveyard next to the highway and stopped to stretch my legs. There were at least four people buried there, and at least two of them had been army privates.

I also saw a healthy-looking coyote in the ditch, two bald eagles and a golden (I think) eagle. Of course, I didn't get photos of them. They move too fast.

Here's another moose standing next to a driveway.

And this sign just strikes me funny.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trea Gracelyn Enters the Scene

My great-niece Trea Gracelyn, four days old. (pronounced Traya)

Wouldn't wake up for me, and I didn't want to disturb her. I'll get my chance.

This is Karen and Dick's first granddaughter.


I stopped to see Grandma both on my way to The Pas and on the way home. When I was leaving her room yesterday , she said "What's your name again?" First time she's said that, except in a dream I had a few years ago when she'd asked "Who are you?"

Every time I've gone to the nursing home lately she's been snoozing on top of her bed. Morning, afternoon, early evening, it's all the same. Doesn't sit up while you visit with her, but says she's feeling fine and all's well. Does look that way, though her face seemed noticeably round last time.


The debate is on about whether to get the H1N1 vaccine. The population of this country seems to be split about 50-50 between who's planning to get the shot and who is not.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Look out Lu, here I come!

The lips that dazzle babies.

I've been working "ahead" most every evening this week, banking hours so that tomorrow and Monday can be travelling days of about five hours each. Tonight will be another late night. In the morning I'm headed up to The Pas to see my young friend Luanne, whom I haven't laid eyes upon for some 15 years. Maybe there will be time to look up some of my Engdahl cousins while I'm there.

The road north is not my favourite; as soon as the evergreens start crowding the highway, the scenery bores me -- because there is none. The spruces block the view. I must remember to stop at the library this afternoon after Willis and I do our palliative care visiting, and pick up some talking books to keep me awake while driving through the tunnel of trees.

Scott and I spent last night here at GGFarm, since -- woo hoo! -- he's got everything working as it ought. Actually when I arrived after having supper with the boys at the old place, he was already here, lying in bed. He'd slipped on a roof while shingling in the afternoon and caught himself by falling on his left hand. The jar had put his neck out and he was moving like a decrepit old man. I gave him a Vita-flex treatment and he felt better this morning. Still wish he'd quit shingling. I hate thinking of him either up on roofs or down in holes, which he's also been frequenting since sewer problems began around here. The idea of it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Time to head for town. We've got sleety rain and it's damn cold. I'll be glad to visit at the hospital and nursing home, where they keep the heat cranked up.

x's and o's

Friday, October 16, 2009

MacLean and McLean

The National steel guitar on the left was built in 1929; the one on the right in 1932.

Doc MacLean and Big Dave McLean managed to fill that little wood-lined church with their two powerful voices, sans sound system.

The pews were full. Halfway through the concert, Bev S., seated next to me, said, "Now I know why I hated church so much." Her ass, along with everyone else's, wasn't happy. Note to self: next time, bring cushion.

The Margo contingent even made an appearance. I sat next to Emil in the second row and when he saw Cuzzin O come in with his wife, he said loudly "Mom— Mom— there's Oscar and Barb!"

That was only the beginning of an evening where Emil made his presence known to all. Always a pleasure for Scott and me, who prefer to remain slightly less noticed at a public gathering.

"That's a Good Song!" Emil calls out at the end of a tune.
I was chuckling about this until recalling that at the last concert we attended, Paschall and Dahl, it was me who called out those exact same words. Oy. Where oh where does he get it?

Granted, there were only a dozen people in attendance that time. That's my excuse.


Today is the day of the week that households in our R.M. can drop off household garbage at the truck in Kuroki, so I made myself a double cup of tea for the road and headed down the grid, which is soggy with melted snow. There were a couple pretty soupy spots till I got to the highway, so I came home the other way. A round trip of about 40 minutes. (Karen, I thought of phoning you to meet me for a quick drink at the El Kuroki, but Everett's been looking forward to using the wireless so much that I didn't want to delay.)(Any baby yet?)

The weatherfolk are predicting temperatures of 14 and 16 degrees this weekend, which seems hard to believe when the air's hovering around 0C.

Wireless internet was connected up two weeks ago so it was well past time to get the computer to GGFarm and use it. After the schoolbus dropped the boys off at home, Everett and I packed up the iMac and lugged it over here. I'd dusted down the new desk (Hi Grace) earlier today, so we set things up and Everett sat down to check out one of his favourite sites, Red Vs Blue. I gave him an hour to websurf, while I soaked and scraped gummed paper lining from the bathroom wall, where the previous owner had applied a decorative wallpaper border. Got it about half off before it was my turn to come and play with this thing.

But I'm sitting on a stacking stool. Not good. Today, the computer. Tomorrow, the chair!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Little Dead Folks

Petit Mort

I found this photo on a webpage some time ago and now can't find the link to tell you what these pieces are or who the artist is. All I can say is the jpg is named "petitmortsmall" and if these appeal to you, an internet search using the jpg name might find them.

I feel a "little dead" today myself so it seemed a suitable image for an entry. It's cold; I've started a fire in the basement to warm up the house before heading over to GGFarm to get wood and do the rites and come back here for supper before it's time to leave again for a house concert in town. A headache's been trying to happen so my fingers are crossed that it gets no further.

The concert is not being held in a private home but in the St John's Anglican Church, a small place of worship that will host Big Dave McLean and Doc MacLean tonight. They are on their Century Blues Tour.

*** "La petite mort, French for 'the little death,' is a metaphor for orgasm." - Wikipedia

*** The two little kittens seemed to be doing very well for about two days, and then they died.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Leaves and Snow

Green leaves and fresh snow, today.

To me, they don't go together.

Weather lore suggests that when the leaves don't dry and fall from the trees as usual, the winter will be particularly cold.

On the other hand, I've been told that the local muskrats are not building up their houses on the water, which means the winter will be mild.



Scott's got the furnace running at GGFarm and has been working on the lagoon over recent days, so maybe I'll be staying back there soon. Yesterday my pal Bev and I both had to go pee out in the snow. I can handle that in this mild weather but sure don't want to be doing it when it's 20 below or at night.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Painter Louise

La Vieille Grange, by Louise Martineau

This building is not far from Louise's cabin in Quebec, where she goes to put her feet up and relax every chance she gets.

She's planning to do a painting using my photo of Scott out checking the cattle, which was posted here this summer. I'll put it up here, too, if she lets me.

Back in 1978, when we were in our late teens, Louise and I were participants of a volunteer youth group sponsored by the federal government . You've heard me mention Katimavik before. As a group of 30 kids we spent nine months living in three different Canadian provinces, working in small communities. I don't recall actually doing very much work, mind you, but we forged some pretty strong bonds of affection and a good number of us are still in touch.

A few months ago Scott came home from one of his customer's homes and told me the fellow had heard that a long time ago I was a member of a group that used to hand out flowers at the airport. Hee!! I had a good giggle when I realized he must have been thinking of Katimavik, because at the time, people who'd never heard of it before were convinced it was some evil cult out to steal their children.

Friday, October 9, 2009

First Snow

Yes indeedy, that's snow you're looking at, still there at 1 p.m.

It's probably not here to stay, but it might as well, it's been cold enough for the past week. Alas, the farmers don't all have their crops off so we hope the snow melts and things dry up enough to complete the local harvest.

The temperature had plummeted by yesterday morning. After school Everett went to the barn to feed and cuddle the cats, and discovered two tiny kittens unmoving, two of their siblings missing, and a dead one being eaten by its mother. He gathered the survivors into his arms and brought them into the house. "Mom, I need your help!" he called from the porch. For a frightening moment I thought his arm had been accidentally amputated or something.

Every year we rescue kittens from certain death, though this pair is older than the very young ones Everett usually finds abandoned, starving, and freezing. These two are from Cuddles' second litter this summer; the first batch, beautiful healthy kittens that I showed pictures of in the spring, was also killed and eaten. We don't know how they were killed, but they had bite marks on their necks and their mother was found eating their bodies.

An online search for an answer to what is happening suggests that moving their nest can stress the mother enough to cannibalize her offspring; this is exactly what may have happened the last time as well as this time, when well-meaning children thought they'd put the kittens in a warmer or safer place than their mother had chosen for them. Granted, she's not the best mother in the cat world, sweet as she is, though it was obvious that she loved those kittens. She was purringly blissed out when they nursed, and after they were killed she very obviously mourned them for days. Your heart practically broke for her.

No one actually saw Cuddles kill them, so it's possible they were killed by a tomcat or one of the other mother cats here on the farm and that Cuddles was just cleaning up the carcass in order not to attract other predators to the living kittens, or to recoup some of the nutritional investment she'd already put into her babies. However, this doesn't seem to happen to the litters of the other mothers, so it's a bit suspicious.

We managed to get the kittens on their way to warming up; they were so cold they wouldn't drink and we had to give them droppersful of warm milk. Everett's heading off with Gord for the weekend so Alexander, from next door, has taken them to his house and is looking after them there. Can't say as I mind one bit.


Last week a tech guy came out and hooked up wireless cable at GGFarm. Now my computer needs to be moved over there. I hope to get that done this weekend. Below is one of the last photos you'll see of me hard at work in the office here at the old place.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Apples Grow in Saskatchewan! Who Knew?

A 25-pound box of tasty, fresh organic apples arrived on the bus from my cousin Lynn's orchard here in Saskatchewan.

Lynn also grows cherries. I couldn't find a webpage to steal a photo from, but click here to peek at the orchard. The Western Producer printed a nice photo of Lynn, and Joanne (thank you ma'am, and how did the surgery go?) clipped and kept it for me, but it's over at the other house tonight (you know... the lonely house with the lonely dogs) or I'd scan it for you.

While the boys were getting ready to walk to the road and catch the bus this morning, it was snowing. There, I said it. It was gone the moment it hit the ground, but it's still been a miserable grey windy cold day.

In the afternoon I dropped off my minivan for an oil change and winter checkup, and met Everett at the library. From there we moseyed on afoot over to one of the cafés on Main Street a block away, and while we sat inside eating poutine (moi) and a grilled cheese sandwich with fries (lui), snow came down pretty good again. I was dressed for it though: ski pants, scarf, quilted vest, wool-lined Hudson's Bay jacket, gloves. Nobody even looked at me funny, unlike the reaction when I dressed that way on Sunday ("It's not that cold!"). Again the snow melted right away, but it would be no surprise to me to wake up to an inch of the white stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ferrets and Tipis

A blackfooted ferret, once extinct in Saskatchewan, is released into the wilds of Grasslands National Park.

Here are the tipis the kids and teachers slept in. They had no heat, and they had raised wooden platforms to sleep on. It wasn't very comfortable at 6 below, but there was a campfire outside that at least one kid resorted to for warmth in the wee hours.
Scott slept in my van, seen at left.


Watch Oprah tomorrow (Wed). Stephanie Nielson is going to be on. She's the young mother of four who was in a plane crash in Arizona one year ago that almost killed her. She's a devout Mormon with a heck of an inspiring attitude toward living. She really knows how to live well.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Handsome Creature, that Moose

This gorgeous fellow crossed the highway in front of us.

My mother-in-law, niece and I were on our way to a potluck/drumming session of the Likeminded Ladies when this impressive beast made his appearance in an open field. I managed to get the camera out of my purse and hand it to Pat while stopping the vehicle and rolling down her window so she could take the picture before he started running.

But he never did run. When he stepped onto the pavement he turned his massive head and looked at us before continuing, otherwise uninterrupted, on his merry way. For one moment there I wondered if he might decide to take a run at the van, as moose have been known to do. Thank goodness he didn't. Instead he crossed the road and ambled away, in no hurry whatsoever.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

70-Mile Butte

At Grasslands National Park, they hiked to the top of 70-Mile Butte.

The second photo is the view from the top.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fairy Moth

For several months since removing it from the lapel of a blazer, this fairy was pinned to the curtain in the bedroom.

Unfortunately every time I see it I think it's a moth, and jump because it's right at eye level and close to my face.

Not that I'm afraid of moths, but I'm easily startled. Over and over again by the same thing, apparently. You'd think eventually I'd get over it, but no. Finally I put the pin somewhere else.

It's early afternoon and Emil and I are looking forward to Scott and Everett arriving home in a couple hours. This is one of the faces that will greet them, poor buggers. Maybe I'll get my morning hair combed by the time they get here so they won't be too frightened.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tipi Love - I've Got It

Word is, they took more food than they needed.

And last night was cold, Scott said when he called earlier; the thermometer was reported to have dipped to minus-6F. "I don't think anyone slept through the night," was his pronouncement on the suffering of those who slept in the tipi as well as himself, alone in the van.

At least 500 people attended the release of the blackfooted ferrets, or maybe even 1000, he figured.

I don't know where this tipi is, but the photo was taken by Richard Blaschak. It feeds my tipi love.

[See Mr Blaschak's comment below.]

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Men on the Go

Sending them off with finger food.

It's so cosy: rain pattering on the tin chimney, the fridge running, me in Mom's thick plaid housecoat at 11 a.m., having been woken by a phone call an hour ago.

I was up around 6:30 when Scott and Everett were scurrying around trying to get out the door to meet their travel companions in town before 7. The air was a bit hot though, with Scott cursing because he hadn't finished packing last night before going to bed, and now couldn't find everything he wanted.

Poor Everett, I thought, he'll be regretting inviting Mr Cranky along, right now. I peeked my eyes over the ledge next to the stairs and looked at my son standing next to the door. "Is it safe to come up?" It may be evil to chuckle at Scott's expense when he's having a hissy fit but sometimes there is no better way to respond, either.

The call this morning was Scott, still taking care of business from the road. He is working on construction projects committed to last summer and every day he turns down a new job or two. His work is stacked to the ceiling and a "holiday" did not fit into his timetable. On the other hand, he desperately needed a break because when he is here he eats, breathes and sleeps work; there is no escape from the gotta-do's. This may do him good (a change is better than a rest? and, since the kids will be sleeping in a tipi and the weather is not fit for camping, at least I know Everett isn't going to freeze to death on Scott's watch.

I don't know if they'll go to any museums on this field trip; their time might be taken up by eco-tours, hikes and such. But at a museum or zoo I like Scott to be my companion. He notices everything there is to see, while if alone I pass right over half the fascinating details in a display. Everett will benefit from Scott's sharp eyes and attention to detail.

I hope that by now he is chatting with the five teenagers riding in the van (he's left me his half-ton) and, though driving, is getting into a holiday mood. He'll be sleeping in the van tonight, which may be more comfortable for an old fella like him than the hard ground under a sleeping bag. I'm not sure what state he'll arrive home in, but my fingers are crossed he comes back rested and refreshed. It's a tall order, considering he'll be on the go for three days with a group of kids.