Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Farm is a Home for a Dog

Don't they look happy and contented?

They (not the one in the middle; Sara was just visiting) were making a racket around five this morning. Even the little one was barking. I hear a neighbour's cattle were out, so that was probably the reason.

Finally we've got summer days. The flower garden is glorious. Today I rescued a drowning grasshopper from the rainwater barrell. There are quite a few grasshoppers around; Chloe likes to pounce and chew on them. I see them in my flowers and remind myself that "There is plenty for all."

Everett applied the second coat of paint to the lawn furniture today. It looks great but still needs another coat. He's not happy but hey, what can you do? Of course there will be a photo of the finished product.

Nothing got done at the house this weekend. Don't ask me why. Other things got in the way, I suppose. Scott woke up with a cold during the night and is lying about, this afternoon. Except for loading up some cattle from the pasture in preparation for hauling them to a sale, he hasn't accomplished anything obvious today.

I'm about to head back over to the new place and might climb into bed myself. My neck is stiff as hell; don't know what I did to it. I haven't done much either. Some dishes at both houses. Snipped the sage and put it in the dehydrator. Put away the dried herbs first so there'd be some free trays. Pulled some weeds, watered the cosmos in the flower pots. We've got heat; after the past month of cold and rain, I almost forgot to see whether plants were starting to dry out.

The concert last night was good but only about 13 people attended. That must have been disappointing for the performers, who drove two hours to get out here. It was held in the Anglican church; nice little church, all wood, quite small. Very cosy. Next on the house concert list is Joel Fafard, who has made a name for himself and is generally getting well known, though that may not mean much in these parts — people are just plain busy at this time of year, and when they're not busy, they're tired. Dragging themselves to a concert may be too much to ask. Sometimes it's the last thing I feel like doing, too.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Ate Too Much

Not really. I made sure to save room for dessert.

This is the last year for The Old House Café, the fine dining establishment in Kuroki. Chef Julia will be found next summer down at the beach instead, flipping burgers and sizzling fries. "Not that there's anything wrong with that," but I hate to see the place close up. Few places around here have good grub and the pretty atmosphere.

We're off to a house concert in town. Paschall and Dahl, a '40s swing/jazz/blues duo.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Leaves are Starting to Turn Colour Already

The footpath into my tiny herb garden is made with woolly thyme, which releases a flowery fragrance when stepped on.

The Likeminded Ladies are meeting for supper tonight at the Old House Cafe in Kuroki, so I am working like a dog trying to log enough hours for today and to make up for yesterday, when as well as picking and prepping herbs for drying, I had to make use of the gallon of raspberries Everett picked from the patch the day before. I made a double batch of freezer jam, which turned out delicious, if I say so myself.

Listening to Delores O'Riordon (formerly of the Cranberries) sing, as the live guest on the cultural affairs show Q on CBC Radio. I like her music but love hearing her Irish accent just about as much. Charming.

And now, back to work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Herb Harvest

Casper shortcuts through the garden.

When people ask if I'm gardening, I say "only flowers." Truth is, there are herbs to harvest. I'm bringing in feverfew, lemon verbena, oregano, basil, thyme, and mint. Also calendula, a flower that has reseeded itself since last fall, and yarrow and plantain, which grow wild.

They'll be used for medicinal teas and tinctures, and oils. All easily made.

That twenty-dollar dehydrator I bought at a garage sale in Kelowna earns its keep at this time of year, when I'm drying lots of things at once.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Angels Among Us

Look at these two little sweethearts! Angels if ever there were any.
These darlings, Kelsey and Elizabeth, are the daughters of my cousins Jolene and Leanne (Uncle Neil's daughters).
These photos were taken at the Benson (Mom's) family reunion.
These two aren't quite so little nor so angelic, but they're sweet too. Danielle, on the left, is my niece (sister Karen's daughter), and Heather is my cousin (Neil's daughter).

Definitely no angels, the older they come the worse they get. May I present The Ugly Sisters:

 The one on the right (me) is badly in need of a haircut and the one on the left (Karen) doesn't usually look quite so goofy. The baby (Joan) is always as cute as a button.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

And Life Goes On

Everett primes the Adirondack furniture in preparation for painting; Cara's ultrasound displays the unborn baby's face; Scott scans the horizon for pelicans.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Few Photos

1. The new dining room window is in.
2. A lonely but lovely poppy.
3. Cathy and Emma leave the farm.
4. My niece Cara comes out with her son Kade, to pick raspberries. Second baby due October.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer 2009

Movie Conflict

Everett at the family reunion. That's Dad in the background.

4:30pm 19 Aug Wed
I walked in the door on Monday after driving home from Manitou, expecting to see a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Everett had been dropped off by his dad in the morning and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the dishes were washed and stacked on a dishtowel to dry. I thanked him with obvious delight and called him “My hero!” He remarked matter of factly that he’d done them for “extra credit,” which was a joke, but I caught a proud little smile from the corner of my eye.
Now it’s raining and he’s making cookies as I finish up another hour of work here at the computer, and he’s bringing me nibbles as he goes: a few chocolate and butterscotch chips in a bowl with peanuts, a teaspoonful of dough. He’s spoiling me.

Everett and I are talking about finding a movie to watch together tonight. He says, “But you won’t like anything we have.”
“What would you like to watch, that we have?” I ask.
“It doesn’t matter, you won’t like it. You don’t like action movies. You only like movies that have no conflict. No conflict at all.”
“All movies have conflict,” I retort.
He raises his voice and, as if mimicking a character in a movie, begins to drone. “Let’s divide this room by half and you stay on your half and I’ll stay on my half. But you can come over on this side if you want, I don’t mind.”
He goes on and I chuckle; he's not far off.
“These pancakes are delicious.” — “Glad you like ‘em.” — “I’m glad we’re friends too.”
I’m giggling now. But there’s more.
“Oh wait, I have a headache. Well, that’s okay.”
And then, “I’m making some popcorn. Do you want some?” — “That would be lovely.”
Kid's got my number, or, as his dad said when I noted that Everett makes himself scarce so that I won't give him something to do when he's idle, "You didn't raise no dummy."

At Manitou Beach

The view from the Village Perk, where I had a solitary lunch before Cathy and Emma arrived at Lake Manitou.

I have a shitload of photos to show you but organizing them on the Blogspot pages is such a pain in the butt that I'm reduced to having only one photo per entry, unless I have the time and patience to dick around editing, editing again, editing again, and so on, so forth in order to get the descriptive cutlines where I want them. No time, no inclination, sorry.

It's been raining pretty much steadily since yesterday afternoon, not long after Cathy and Emma left to make their way back to the city. I've been at the desk working all afternoon, taking breaks for lunch and to carry laundry next door to the working washing machine. Been doing this since sometime in June and it's getting tiresome, except for the opportunity to visit for a few minutes with Scott's mom each time I go, when lucky enough to catch her at home.

The machine downstairs here started leaking and we haven't replaced it because we're moving soon and plan to buy a new set for GG Farm, and the machine left at GG Farm by the previous owners isn't hooked up because we have been having problems with the overflowing, backing-up sewage lagoon and don't want to run more water through the system than we have to. Whatever. One more minor inconvenience to add to the list. Could be worse: I could be Scott, dealing with sewer pumps and all that goes with them.


Two men are the owners of The Village Perk and one of them makes the best pecan pie. I always have a piece when we stop there, but sadly the last one had sold before I arrived on Sunday, and on Monday we left shortly after breakfast. I'll have to look in again, with high hopes, when I pick Emil up from Camp Easter Seal on Friday.

You can see the front wall of The Village Perk by clicking here. I don't know whose photo stream this is or who the lady in the picture is or what any of it has to do with the Maldives online dating site, but there's the coffee shop, anyway. While googling for other photos taken around Manitou Beach I found this, a travel diary which describes some of Saskatchewan's rural residents as having a "bovine, slack-jawed" appearance. Ouch!! Thanks for nothing, eh? Assholes.

There are three shops offering vintage and antique wares in the resort village of Manitou Beach, and I came home with a tall, heavy brass ashtray that I will leave outside in the hope it will encourage visiting smokers not to leave their cigarette butts on the grass around our yard, as that drives Scott batty (I hardly notice them. However, it's not always me who doesn't see the obvious. Today while towelling off after his bath Scott bumped his arm against a picture that's been hanging on the wall for four years. He pointed out that it's sure to get knocked down and broken. After four years, said I, I'm not worried about it. He doesn't believe it's been four years, but I know it has). I also bought some old picture frames, with which I plan to make a large grouping of family photos, both new and old, for a wall at the new house; a set of silver salt and pepper shakers; a half-brick butter dish; and an old wooden milking stool; all the while coveting more and firmly restraining myself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Weather Wars

Aunt Reta and Grandma outside the nursing home.

Reta caught a ride to Saskatoon yesterday morning and will fly back down to Phoenix tomorrow. She was here just about a month but it sure didn't seem like it.

Emil and I drove down to Camp Easter Seal on Monday, amid a cold and nasty squall that lasted all day. "I wish we could control the weather," he whined numerous times, "but it's a good thing we can't, or there'd be wars fought over it." No doubt there has been more than one person to respond with a similar statement, and he's got it programmed into his brain now. It's part of the spiel.

Cathy and her daughter Emma met me there after I'd dropped him off and we spent the afternoon and evening in a cabin rental, watching TV and reading, after going out for supper. Yesterday we drove back here and stayed over at Golden Grain Farm. Made a fire and watched the stars and planes and planets, though it was cool and we made an early night of it. They left this afternoon so I guess it's back to the old routine around here till Friday, when I go pick Emil up again. It's been rainy again today but I'm sure he's still having a good time.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Emil and his Great-Uncle Neil

Uncle Neil stops in for a quick visit with Emil.

Neil had brought Aunt Reta out so she and I could go to Kelvington and see Grandma one morning this week.

We discovered that Grandma, who weighed 72 pounds when she moved into the nursing home in January, has since gained more than 30 pounds. Something is definitely going right for her there. The aides suggested we check out her pants because they are probably getting too tight for the little gal, who insisted one day last summer that she's never weighed 100 pounds in her life. So we've got some shopping to do.


Neil was a sparky tyke of nine or so when his oldest sister, Grace, had her first child. When that little girl was born, Neil visited the store, the service station, and every place he knew around Margo, our home town, with its population of—oh—two or three hundred maybe, at that time. The baby would be named Kathy, he announced, but if it had been a boy, he figured it should have been named Bartholemew.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Crasher Squirrel

The original Crasher Squirrel photo was taken by Melissa and Jackson Brandts in Banff in late May. The image of the squirrel has gone viral since it appeared on the National Geographic's website on Aug. 7. (Melissa Brandts)

A cheeky squirrel in Alberta's Banff National Park has gone viral after stealing the spotlight in a tourist's photo.

Melissa Brandts, who was visiting from Minnesota, had set up her camera on a tripod to capture her and her husband, Jackson, in front of picturesque Lake Minnewanka in May.

"We had our camera set up on some rocks and were getting ready to take the picture when this curious little ground squirrel appeared, became intrigued with the sound of the focusing camera and popped right into our shot!" she wrote.

The ground squirrel became the focus of the picture as the couple faded into the background.

Jackson Brandts took a few more shots using a remote-control shutter.

"A once in a lifetime moment! We were laughing about this little guy for days!" wrote his wife.

* photo and text reprinted from CBC newsletter. To read entire story, click here.

I love Canadian news stories some days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ducky Comes on Vacation

Little Lord Fauntleroy, a.k.a. Ducky, lies with me on the couch one evening.

We had a house guest while my sister Karen was gone for several days to a fly-in fishing camp in northern Saskatchewan: my niece Danielle's deerfaced chihuahua, Ducky. He is the only pet I welcome inside the house, because I am not a housekeeper (the hair that needs to be vacuumed; the hair that attaches to your coffee cups and plates whether you vacuum or not; the kitty litter if you have a cat; the likelihood that cats will walk on your tabletops and counters if they damn well feel like it) and Scott also prefers outside pets. But there is something about Ducky; of course, he is used to being indoors at Karen's and so I'm not about to stress him out by making him stay outside. Lord no— he shivers even in the dew of a mild summer morning, sat beside me on the step as I drink my coffee! And fortunately he thinks he's a farm dog and likes to be outside quite a bit, so did spend most of the first two days outside with our other dogs (the pup, Chloe, would not leave him alone for a moment, but our old dog, Casper, welcomed the break from the pup's constant attention). However, wherever I am is where Ducky wants to be, and I love him to pieces. What can I say. It's not that I don't love the other dogs ... but Ducky is so small, so quick, so cuddly, so adorable, so responsive, so clever ... I've always had a soft spot for him and have told Karen that if ever he needs a new home, I'll take him. Scott may not like it, but ... that's the way it will be (apparently my sister and I have that in common too, as well as our voices; but I also know that Scott, unlike Dick who has lived with him underfoot for some four years, has already warmed to Ducky). I kept him at Christmas when Karen and Dick went away for a few days, and missed the little guy when he went home again.

Scott came home early one morning to get some paperwork and on his way out the door asked Ducky if he'd like to go out for a bathroom break. Ducky went straight to his kennel, which was sitting in the porch with its door closed (but not latched) on the floor. The little dog deftly opened it with one paw and scooted inside. Scott and I both chuckled as if over the antics of one of our children.

Everett thought we should come up with a fancy nickname for Ducky, like Milton Shooberdedoop the Third. I suggested Little Lord Fauntleroy, as Ducky strikes me as a somewhat dandy little gentleman. Everett agrees, that is perfect.

Then I went online for a refresher course about Little Lord Fauntleroy, and discovered a story I hadn't remembered at all well: here it is.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flower Power



Gazanias with violas.

The garden soil was nice and wet after a 24-hour rain, so the weeds I pulled by hand in the muggy heat for about three hours today came up willingly. But my body is complaining a little tonight. Poor old woman.
The flowers, though, are looking pretty damn good. (If you don’t notice the remaining weeds, and there are plenty.) I've broadcast hollyhock seeds in some parts of the garden where there aren't any and they've come up amidst weeds that have gotten away on me and gotten tall, thus my trusty horseshoe hoe could not be called into service.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. My aunts Reta and Shirley are coming in the morning to pick raspberries, and I assume will stay for lunch. In the afternoon Scott would like to make a trip to Kelvington, where his family is gathering for a meal (his sister and great-nephew are visiting from Calgary), and I'll take the opportunity to go see Grandma for a while. In the evening we're off to a barbecue for which I'm in charge of dessert, so I've decided on a recipe shared by my friend Helen. I love it but haven’t made it since we were neighbours – it's called Pink Lady Dessert. I went to town with Scott late this afternoon for the sole purpose of picking up sweetened condensed milk, red food colouring (the icing calls for some of the juice in a jar of maraschino cherries, which I have no need for; but the food colouring will come in handy for icing the sugar cookies at Christmas) and graham wafer crumbs so I could make it. Helen kept the squares in her freezer and took a couple out for me when I’d drop over. They’ll make a good treat.
I very seriously considered trying peanut butter pie, something fantastic that I've tasted and have the recipe for but have never made. Decided I'd try my hand at it first, before I need to take it somewhere.

Everett is watching The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and just came upstairs for a freshly baked (by him, the Cookie Meister) chocolate chip cookie, announcing, "This is the best movie I have ever seen!" Maybe I should go down and see what all the excitement is about.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Diana's Big Trek

My friend Diana, resident of Banff, Alberta.

Right now Diana is off adventuring, and blogging about it. Here's the intro she's written:

"Last summer, arthritis would barely let me walk a block to the store. Now that the arthritis is under control (mostly), this summer I'm walking over 100K in 7 days through the mountains of Costa Rica to raise funds for arthritis research and education as a Joints in Motion participant. This blog is about the hike."

Go check it out, bookmark the page, sign up to follow the blog, and leave a comment. Diana deserves all the support she can get for this very worthy cause.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Job Well Done

Cameron's rig.

He left yesterday morning after helping the men carry the new picture window from the shed to the house. At the end of the day, five fellows stood on the lawn with beer in their hands, admiring the "job well done." All the new windows in, the new shingles, soffits, insulation and housewrap will make the house snug as can be.

Now, what will we do for the exterior? Aside from adding the essential eavestroughing, we'd like stucco, but that's costly, like $10,000. Might be worth it in the long run because there's no repainting needed over the years, but still: 10,000 smackeroos is not easy to come up with when there are so many other bills to pay and repairs that need to be done soon (new plumbing; roof repairs to all the outbuildings including the barn; Scott's got the full list in his head. No wonder he can't sleep nights. Why did he insist on purchasing new living room furniture right now, when we have a perfectly good set? Perhaps he's been suffering from severe recliner-lack and wasn't thinking straight). Good quality wood siding is less expensive, though not cheap, but still needs repainting at intervals and woodpeckers are always drilling holes into it. Scott doesn't like vinyl siding, though it's a more affordable option, doesn't need repainting and comes in a great variety of colours. As a construction guy, he's got issues with it not holding up well or something. He could do the stucco himself to reduce the cost, but hasn't done it for a long time and then only once, so doesn't think that's the best option.

For now, he and his little crew are off to work at other jobs after more than two weeks concentrating on our own little project. And I can have the yard to myself again and wear skimpy clothing in the garden when the sun shines, woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009



Scott's gone out to separate one of the bulls from a neighbour's herd of cows. The big beast broke down a fence to get to them. Boys will be boys I guess.

When Scott gets home with the half-ton, I'm headed to Kelvington to pick up our new furniture and, if it's not too late and he's not in a hurry (they want to move the furniture in through the hole in the wall where the dining room window is going) I'll stop in for a quick visit with Grandma. She was at the reunion on the weekend but seemed a little detached from it all.

It looks like the windows will be in and the digging and insulating outside the house and foundation will be done by the end of the week. If all goes as planned. Which it rarely has done, when it comes to this house.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Reunion

The kids kept themselves entertained.

This little fellow, my first cousin once removed, was pleased with himself when he quickly mastered the rolling of this barrell. "It's easy," he told me when I gushed in admiration of his impressive skills.

We gathered with Mom's side of the family over the weekend, at my uncle's farm. The old house I remember staying at as a small child is long gone but the memories of it remain vivid.

I remember being awake in the morning when the rooms were still cool, and staying in bed while Grandpa started a fire in the cookstove and warmed the place up. I remember the upstairs bedroom we stayed in when we visited. And being in Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom off the kitchen, and a necklace of plastic pearls, and the smell of Noxzema.

I remember the freestanding wooden cupboard in the kitchen, the hand pump that brought water into the sink, and the tin dipper for drinking water. To this day, when I hear a fly buzzing on a hot day, it reminds me of being outside on the front porch. And I still dream of lying on a hammock consisting of an old mattress slung on a chain between two mature spruce trees, like the one I whiled happy times away on as a little kid.

Oh, lots of great memories. The old house was on a hill, and between the house and Grandpa's workshop at the bottom of the hill was a clothesline. Two wire lines it had, held up on each end by two pink poles. Between each set of poles Grandpa had made a swing with a thick scratchy rope; notched at each end to hold the rope, a length of lumber provided each swing's seat. This was one of the playgrounds my sister Karen and I enjoyed when we were there, which I imagine was fairly often. I remember her and I, neither of us yet school age, running naked out in the rain.

Indoors, there was a bottom-heavy clown toy and the numerous little round plastic medallions that came in foil bags of Hostess potato chips. On each side, the medallions had paper illustrations of old cars, if I recall correctly.

Karen and I had grey plastic "wigs" in the style of little old ladies who wore their hair up in buns. Karen carried a chicken around in her arms. We rode on the stoneboat behind the tractor, picking stones and coming in dirt-black.

Grandpa hollowed out a length of log, bored a small hole in it, made a perch, a floor and a slanted roof, which he painted red, and nailed it to a tree for the wrens. That birdhouse went with him and Grandma when they moved to town and is still nailed to a tree outside the back door there.