Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Jackhammering through the old cistern wall.

Scott's standing on a chair, where he must have felt he could safely suggest that I stand under the jackhammer and help support its weight with my head. "Just the right height," he figured.


Everett's class is going on a field trip from tomorrow till Saturday, and Scott is going along as a driver. The blackfooted ferret, once thought extinct, has been raised in captivity and schoolchildren are off to witness them being released on Friday morning back into the wilds at Grasslands National Park down in southeastern Saskatchewan.

Preparations are under way. Scott is doing his laundry and has gone to town to wash the van and pick up molasses (so I can make a couple dozen chocolate chip banana bran muffins to send along for their cold breakfasts) and whatever else he wants to eat. We're not quite sure what kind of cooking facilities there are; we imagine Scott can cook a sausage over a fire, and that Everett will eat bagels with cheese.


Emil will be sure to say that he's happy he gets to spend a couple days alone with me.
Na na na na na, I'm his favourite mother ....

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bartley Brothers

My great-grandfather, Grandpa Jack, is on the far right.

His youngest daughter, my grandmother, was already in bed when Scott and I arrived at Kelvindell Lodge last night at 7 o'clock. She wasn't asleep, but said she had nothing else to do. An aide came in to call her for the bedtime coffee snack, and she got up and accompanied us down the hallway.

"I have a heck of a time getting out of bed these days," she said, slightly off-balance. She's using a walker now, and kept saying she'd be going home soon, and wondering if we'd take her home after she'd had coffee, sure that her room was only temporary. I'd reply that she's been living there since January, and see all your stuff? Photos of your family on the wall and the TV, and look, there are your afghans on the bed, and there's your purse, and your clothes in the closet. Well, she'd say, she has a few things there but she's only been there a couple days. Tanya, Scott's sister who is a nurse at the lodge, says they have to keep an eye on Grandma now because she occasionally says she's going out and heads for the door.

I'm the eldest of all my siblings and cousins, and I remember Grandpa Jack quite well. He lived till I was about nine. My memory of him is as a sweet, tiny old man in a chair, but I also recall that he had a cane. He sported that impressive moustache all his life. Grandma has a photo of him as an old man, a small oval-framed headshot. I must make a copy of it. I have a very nice portrait of him and my great-grandmother taken about a year after they were married. In it, he's sitting down and she's standing next to him, but still her head is not far above his. They're dressed formally and look serious and handsome as hell.


It's a bread-baking day; I've got oatmeal in a pot, brought to a boil, and now it will sit, burner turned off, with a lid on for several hours before I throw it into the kneading machine with whole wheat flour and yeast, oil and honey, and perhaps some sunflower seeds.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Sunday in September

Not a favourite poppy, but nevertheless still blooming.

It's cold, grey, windy and rainy, and the sewer has been backing up (if it's not one thing it's another, only usually a half-dozen of them for my poor Scottie to deal with) at GGFarm so I'm at the old place, spending the afternoon in and near the nice warm kitchen, cooking up a storm: a vegetable broth (with diced potatoes, celery, onions, turnips, carrots) that will be simmered for two hours and then blended, divided up and frozen as a base for quick and delicious soups (my preference by far is a cheese soup, which is to die for); a sausage-zucchini fry; bean dish (always a big hit on the potluck circuit, it's like chili but without the chili, and with lima beans and bacon as well as the usual ingredients); and banana bran muffins. Everett's going to make his famous chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies after I'm out of the kitchen, when the frozen margarine has softened.

Later Scott, Emil and I plan to drive to Kelvington to visit our grandmothers. He's got some drywall mud to apply for his brother-in-law who lives there and Emil is excited because the last two times I went, he had a cold and couldn't go.

There's a risk of frost tonight for this part of the province. Might have to cover my jalapenos and tomatoes; fortunately there are just a few plants but unfortunately my puppy Chloe thinks that things like blankets are meant to be dragged off and chewed upon, breaking the stems of plants in the process. Could mean a night on the chain, for her. She is a funny dog. Yesterday I found a common snipe on the lawn, dead, near the garden. After having a close look at it, with its very long beak, I put on my gardening gloves to pick up and move the carcass somewhere it wouldn't be stepped on when we are out admiring the stars after dark. Chloe grabbed it right out of my hand! Little bugger. She wouldn't let Scott pick it up later either, when he tried.

Not much else to report. Life is good, life is good, life is good.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cosmo City

Emil goes for a stroll.

My garden has got so many cosmos that I have been pulling them up like weeds from places where they were crowding perennials like purple coneflower and brown-eyed susans.

It's not easy for me to throw them onto a heap, roots and all, and let them dry up. It goes against my grain. So sometimes I stick them in a vase with water — indoors of course I do, but I mean outside. Here, a cream can of some sort that's been hanging in an oak tree all summer does double duty as a vase.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Harvest in Full Swing

Swathed fields.

I could drive through these for hours and miles on gravel roads and never, ever be bored.


Fascinating story in the news about a buried treasure dug out of the countryside in England. With pictures ... click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happiest Dog Ever

Chloe found a treasure.

From somewhere in the bush she dug up this old moss-covered boot and dragged it onto the lawn, so pleased with herself.


Online life is getting back to normal since I borrowed Kate's modem (which she no longer uses since she's got wireless internet) to see if the problem with my iMac was a fried modem. And indeed that was the case. I hadn't been getting online properly for several days before there was a clap of thunder on Friday morning that woke everyone up with its volume, and it seems that was the last straw for my modem. Fortunately for me Kate's willing to part with hers so I don't have to make a special run to the city.


We hit 32C yesterday; it was hot hot hot. I think I mentioned before that Saskatchewan's heat record has now been broken due to the unseasonable weather. No complaints from me. But it's weird. Flowers that normally bloom in the spring -- lupins, for instance -- are in full bloom now. All the flowers are bursting out in glorious colour in this sunshine, while the maple tree that greets you at the driveway is spreading its yellow leaves all over the front lawn. Strange contrast. I'm happy to see that my jalapeno plants are getting a chance to finish growing their peppers, which I'll chop, bag and freeze to make salsa. My spicy-food-lovin' fella eats an entire batch of it every month; I tell everyone he even puts it on his ice cream.


Everett got up on Monday morning with an eczema-like rash on his forearms and under his eyes. Scott thought it looked like hives. Everett says he's eaten nothing unusual. We had him take an Aerius pill for allergies once a day, and I pulled chickweed from the garden and made two teas: one for him to wash his skin with, and the other to drink. The rash is on its way out.

It makes a very tasty tea. I also steamed some of it; you can eat it like steamed spinach. Delicious. And here I've been tearing it from the ground every year and throwing it away! Must pick and dry some to have on hand through the coming winter, along with the plantain leaf for cuts and bites and stings, the yarrow and spearmint for colds and flus, and so on. My house is full of drying herbs in paper bags with holes in them for ventilation so they don't get mouldy. I took the dehydrator over to my aunt Shirley's after it ran steadily here for weeks; she's going to dry tomatoes in it, and I'm going to let my herbs dry naturally instead. I've got calendula flowers steeping in olive oil to make not only a tasty salad dressing but an anti-inflammatory massage oil, which I will try on my neck next time it acts up, and Cara, it is supposed to make a good baby oil -- I'll give you some to try and you can let me know if it works wonders. Only a month till I'm holding a new great-niece or -nephew in my arms ... and how nice that I don't have to do any of the work to make it happen. Can't beat that.


I stayed over at the old house last night to watch the first episode of Eastwick, starring Paul Gross as the troublesome warlock who comes to town. The show didn't impress me in the least and if it doesn't improve it won't be on the air long, and Paul Gross is no Jack Nicholson (remember the movie The Witches of Eastwick?), but he doesn't have to be. He's just plain good to look at and I'll watch the show for that simple pleasure, as well as to see what Gross makes of the part. I told Scott, who watched with me, "He's almost as good-looking as you are." No I did not take Sweet-Talking 101 at university but some things you just learn over time, right ladies? (as Ellen Degeneres would say; I love her show, or parts of it, but don't watch it very often come spring).


With what looks to be another beautiful day in store, it's not going to be easy to sit indoors and catch up on the hours of work I've missed since Friday. This morning I'll go over to GGFarm and stroll through the garden, keeping company with my old girl Casper and my little girl Chloe as well as Ralph the black cat, my familiar, who follows me through the flowers, sits nearby and comments in his deep voice from time to time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Short Hiatus

Computer problems: please stand by for god knows how long. Nobody out here in God's Country seems to know what to do with a Mac; always a frustration when there is a problem that is difficult to diagnose. I can't even get online with my dialup; am posting from a friend's house (thanks Kate) and being awed by her highspeed internet. Woo hoo! I can see it will be well worth the cash payouts to get it up and running.

Till then ... adios....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September Brings Summer

Harvest is under way.

Today I saw my first large flock of Canada geese, this fall, grouped up for migration.

We're finally getting summer weather. After nine months of unseasonable cold, we're now breaking records for September temperatures.

Nothing too new. It's Scott's 50th birthday and he's celebrating by fighting strep throat, lying on the couch, watching TV, and being pissed off about not being able to work on such a fine day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Around the Yard

Didn't Everett do a fine job on the Adirondack furniture?

Scott suggested (after I'd bought the paint) that it would have been wise to choose a colour that would match the house. We haven't picked a colour for the siding yet, so his point was moot.

However, it turns out that the colour looks great with the flowers. Don't you think? And hey, I could do with a purple house.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tree-Climbing Mutt

The dog who climbs trees.

She is a plague to the three cats who live in the farmyard, one of which can be seen, barely, in the maple. One of the cats will let the pup chew on him, and will snuggle up with and rub against the pup. Quite cute.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still Under Construction

My living room.

Actually, last week I unpacked the reclining chair from its box and left it right where it'd be the first thing Scott saw when he came in the door. He thinks it's very fine. As do we all.

Alas, there is still window trim and some touchups to be done in the living room, as well as putting the baseboards back on, so it seems sensible to leave new furniture in cardboard for now.

I don't need much room, just enough to spread out my yoga mat in front of the picture window. Speaking of which, I haven't done the Rites today. Must get back over there and do them before I forget. It's so nice out, I won't be able to stay indoors but will have to come in and escape the sun after an hour or so in the garden, I'm sure. The house has remained cool all summer, which is welcome on the hot days.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Feverfew for Migraines

Tea made from feverfew tastes medicinal. Add a sprig of fresh mint.

An herb-growing fella kindly gave me a lemon verbena plant this spring. Now that makes a beautiful tea.


Off to town. It's my monthly afternoon for visiting patients at the hospital and residents at the nursing home. My palliative-care team partner, Willis, will be waiting for me at 2 o'clock and we'll wander the rooms and hallways for two hours or so, chatting with people. Willis has already met most of them, having lived in this area for a lot longer than me. She used to do home care for Grandma in Margo, actually, and was very good to Grandma, taking her on restaurant outings and such.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Checking Cattle

Scott, the Pied Piper of his cattle.

They all come to see what's up, and he counts and inspects.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


A neighbour at the nursing home is this shy alpaca.

At least I think it's an alpaca. Maybe it's a llama.

A few years ago, a woman was seriously hurt when she entered a livestock pen that llamas were used to protect. One of the animals simply sat on the woman, so that she could neither get up nor breathe properly.

Fortunately her husband went looking for her and was able to get the animal off in time to save her life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blue Jelly and Dilled Beans

Our road on a summer evening.

It's Labour Day, a national holiday, so the kids are home and even Scott seems to be taking a day off.

While digging through boxes of recipe books I pulled out one I read years ago and kept: Blue JellyLove Lost and the Lessons of Canning, by Debby Bull. Using an unusual method, the author lifts herself out of the depression following a heartbreak. How does she do it? Through canning.

Blue Jelly contains 15 recipes, one of which I am following today after picking green beans at Faye and Rick's last night at sunset. The water in the canner is taking forever to boil, to sterilize the sealers. Shoulda started with hot water; live 'n' learn. It's been some years since I've made dill beans or pickles, and I never was more than a beginner.

It's a lovely little book and I'd recommend it to anyone. Especially anyone with a broken heart.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Joni Mitchell's painting of herself, her grandchildren and her daughter.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Indian Summer

Some flowers normally blooming in July are blossoming now. It's been a strange summer.

Don't suppose you've gathered that I've got a thing for brass? Aunt Jean gave me that little cauldron on the left after asking me what I'd like from her china cabinet. On the front of the cauldron is a witch stirring a pot over a fire.

There's been a full or nearly full moon all week, and it shines directly onto the bed. After some six years in a basement bedroom with a north-facing window, always closed, I was tickled to be able to have the window in the bedroom at GGFarm open all night several times this week. Summer's been too cool for this, till now. I bask in the bright moonlight like a sun-shy vampire.

Everett is applying the third and final coat of paint to the lawn furniture. He was pleased to receive an honorable mention at school for having an average in the 80s last year. He was surprised to get anything, he said, because he always thinks he's dumb. This is so weird. Where does he get an idea like that? It's so far off the truth, and he's had plenty of experiences that prove it.

Emil's barricaded in his bedroom, listening to Dead Can Dance. When I arrived an hour ago, it was Valdy I heard through the door while rinsing some fresh feverfew clippings and taking the dried basil leaves off their stems. The dehydrator's been running for many days. Yesterday I brought in more calendula flowers; can make a skin cream out of them, or tea. The ones dried last week are in a jar with olive oil for cooking or salad dressing.

I'm wearing a new skirt, expecting Scott to arrive any time to get cleaned up. I'm taking him out for his birthday supper, along with our friends Faye and Rick. We're off to The Old House Café. Just need to wash my sticky-up hair before we leave. Made the mistake of using my texturizing shears on it a little too enthusiastically. Oh well. It always grows.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Not Quite Hawaii

The bird in the birdbath broke off the first summer I had it, but Helen gave me this dancing lady and I thought she'd be a nice addition to the garden.

Okay, back to work. I'm hard at it. Two more hours to go; maybe three, if I get ambitious and want to bank an extra hour for some paid holiday in the future. That would be wise. But the sun is shining, even though we've just had a few sprinkles, and you know what that means: Kathy wants out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Camp Easter Seal and Such

Emil was disappointed, he said, when I arrived to pick him up from Camp Easter Seal.

He tells me they were busy: swimming in the mineral pool (“refreshing,” he pronounced) filled with the healing waters of Lake Manitou, a variety night, Harry Potter at the drive-in, horseback riding, a singsong, a wagon ride, a murder mystery evening, a banquet and dance on the last night. He is never ready to come home.

Yesterday was the boys' first day back at school. Emil is in Grade 12 for the third year in a row, if I'm counting right (don't count on it). People keep asking me, so let me explain: students like Emil, who have developmental delays, can continue going to school until they're 22 if they are still progressing along the learning curve. Emil's practising life skills like counting money, shopping, and cooking, among a variety of other useful classes. This year he'll work two full days a week at Mallard Industries, where he worked only mornings last year. It's a sheltered workshop where employees are supervised. Emil's job is to sort plastic containers that people have brought in for recycling. He likes his job, he says. When he finishes school in June, he'll go on to full-time work at the recycling centre.

Everett's in Grade 12 this year and both boys are in the same home room.

It's summer, yippee! My flower garden is gorgeous, though sloppily riotous. Honestly, why can't I just be happy with it, ever? Oh no; always I have to be thinking about the changes I'll make next year. But sometimes I walk around the corner and it dazzles me. I hope we don't have a freeze for many weeks. Hmph. Likely story.

I'm over the stiff neck/back business finally and was able to put in a full day at the desk today. This morning I hustled out to the herb patch to harvest some oregano before the bees got really busy, in which case I wouldn't dare disturb them. And now I'm about to package up the tomato sauce I made while I was over here (the old place) yesterday, and freeze it.

So I'll just leave you with a couple links to visit:

Corey Amaro was traveling by motorbike in Europe with her French Husband:

Go back a ways; her photos and stories of the trip make me want to go there. Maybe someday, when I can imagine enjoying travel again. It's been many years since I've had that urge. But I enjoy every entry in Corey's blog. She's so full of heart and the love of everyday living.

I wonder what Corey and French Husband would have thought if they'd come across a stop sign in the Cree language? You'll have to scroll down the page, which is part of young Stephan's account of his time with Katimavik (I think Everett should consider a stint with Katimavik when he's done Grade 12. The nine months I spent with the project back in 1978-79 are among the dearest memories I have, and account for some of my dearest friends). According to Stephan, "the Cree word for stop is pronounced chipchee."

And now I am getting outside to enjoy a couple hours of sunshine.