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.