Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Corn is as High as an Elephant's Eye

Everett clears a path to the birdfeeders after the heavy snowfall.

"Oh what a beautiful morning
Oh what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way-ay ...

There's a bright golden haze on— "

Oops, sorry about that. It's just that the sun's shining brightly into my window and the sky is blue as can be, and I've slept in and don't have to go anywhere today. Life could only be more perfect if my sisters and girlfriends were all coming over for coffee this morning, and if Mom was still alive and I could talk to her on the phone. I may not have everything I'd like, but the sun's out, the sky's blue, and life is pretty damn good.

Actually a trip to Kelvington is in order, since we didn't go last weekend and so Grandma may not have had a family visit for more than a week. I never know who else has gone to see her so I always assume no one has, and I'd better get my ass up there. Emil wants to go too but as he still sounds a little stuffed up, I'm not sure he should. Grandma never catches colds, but other residents might.

Not sure I mentioned that last time I was at the nursing home it was 11:30 a.m. and Grandma had taken off her clothes and gone back to bed. This is so unheard of, for her, that even though she assured me she was feeling fine, I mentioned it to an aide. The aide had just returned to work after a holiday and said it seemed to her that Grandma was a little "down," when she got back.

"Sometimes they get like that when they get old; you know how it is," she told me.
"I don't know, actually," I said, "but I'm finding out."

I like to imagine what Mom would have been like if she'd lived to 93, like her mother. She would have been a lovely, sweet old lady, that's for sure. In May it will be five years since she died. Five years! Hard to believe; feels like yesterday I was rubbing her feet and being asked to fetch this or do that because she didn't have the energy. I took to kissing her goodbye before I left, every day, because I was afraid it might be the last, unless she was feeling so good everything seemed normal, in which case I'd fall back into my old ways and take her for granted and not kiss her. We're not a kissy, huggy family, or weren't, though I've become more outwardly affectionate in recent years. Back when Mom was dying, I sometimes wondered what it would be like after she'd been gone a few years; it was hard to picture my life without her in it.

Now I've gone and made myself cry. Can tears hurt my dirty keyboard? It's filthy. Maybe they'll clean it right up! Or maybe I can make a salty mudpie.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Half Back

Scott whips the yard into shape.

Guess what I got for my birthday? A pulled muscle in my back. Yippee!
Spent the last half of Thursday and all day yesterday regretting my lack of adequate sympathy for people who live with aching backs all the time. Because it is no fun, nosiree, no fun at all.

Fortunately after a day-and-a-half of popping pills that didn't help me get comfortable, and ordering others to cook and wash dishes because even a short while standing just about made me pass out (though I managed to get groceries yesterday and remain upright at the checkout counter while the clerks hand-wrote two rainchecks for a little old lady ahead of me and I swear it seemed to take forever), I awoke this morning as good as new. Woo hoo! It is good to be able to whiz through the kitchen again without thinking about it.

People with chronic back pain, I salute you for your stamina.
Me, a tiny bit of discomfort and I'm good for nothing.
Scott's back goes out and before you know it he's up and working through his pain.
Not this chick. I take a pill and go straight to bed. Wuss.

So I've gotten a lot of reading done in the last day or two. Good to a Fault, by Marina Endicott, is a novel set in Saskatoon. It's about a single woman who runs into a family-filled car while making a left turn at an intersection. It turns out the family is living in their car, on their way to Fort McMurray to find work. The resulting trip to the hospital brings a diagnosis of cancer to the young mother, who ends up having to stay there for laborious treatment. Since the rest of the family has no place to go, the woman takes them home and, when their father abandons them, starts looking after the three children and their bitchy old grandmother. It's a big change for her but she does it well, falling in love with the children so much that she's prepared to keep and care for them after their mother dies, as she's expected to. And that, my friends, is all I'm telling you.

Good to a Fault is one of the Canada Reads books this year. I have been unwilling to put it down since the first page, so that might tell you something.

And now that I'm feeling human again, I can get back to carrying out a few of my plans for the week that had to be postponed, like getting more of Emil's things moved over here. He came for birthday cake on Wednesday and never left, due to a cold. He's been snuffling and blowing and coughing ever since, but may be on the mend today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

51 Years

Happy Birthday to me.

As you can see, I'm as old as my years— look at the string on my glasses.

Thinking about Mom today, thanking her and Dad. Life's been very good to me. I've been fortunate in my family and friends, blessed with children, and had the luxury of living in a peaceable land.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hare Salon

At the hair salon.

Pat, my mother-in-law from heaven, as I like to call her, phoned this morning. She had a cataract operation last week and isn't supposed to get any water in her eyes.
"Could you drive me into town today to have my hair washed?" she asked.
"If I can get out the door," I said.
Last night when I went to take Ducky out to do his business, I couldn't get the door open. That was fine with Ducky; he starts visibly shivering the moment he sees me put my jacket on. Ducky's bladder apparently makes up half his body volume so I knew he could easily last till morning, and it didn't occur to me to go out the front door with him, since we haven't used it in months and the step has a snowdrift on it.
Prince Charming had to come over and rescue me today— the locks had frozen or something—and then I picked Pat up and off we went to town. There's still quite a bit of snow on the roads and you know what? It finally looks like winter is supposed to look around here. There are tall sundogs though so the temperature's probably going to drop drastically.
The bunny above is the resident pet at the hair salon. The stylist remarked, What better place for hairy animals, than a hair salon? Her 13-year-old dog was there too, laying on my feet as I waited.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Little Lord Fountleroy Makes Himself at Home

Buck Duckster the IIIrd, a.k.a. Little Lord Fountleroy, or Ducky

Ducky is the first chihuahua I've been well acquainted with, and now I understand why people love these little dogs. He is the cuddlingest, sweetest, quick-on-his-feet creature; he keeps a close eye on the people he cares for; he couldn't be cuter or more attentive. I am smitten. I like dogs to start with yet have never wanted one in the house to clean up after, let in and out, and so on. But Ducky? No problem; he can do no wrong. Seriously, something must be the matter with me. Or am I getting old and even more softheaded? I will hate to see him leave for home when Karen and Dick get back from their holiday in Mexico. Only one more week to enjoy the wee fellow.

Some 3000 people around the province are without power and heat due to the heavy snowfall over the weekend, but between our two houses we're perfectly snug. The roads are in rough shape and the schoolbuses didn't run today, but Scott drove Everett into town this morning so he wouldn't miss two scheduled Grade 12 departmentals. I've barely poked my nose out the door, shame on me. Will have to be sure to go for a walk with the dogs tomorrow.

It's been oh-so-quiet in the house; the wind shrieked around during the night, but today there's no sound outside of the furnace fan and Ducky's toenails on the floor when he accompanies me from one room to another. The radio's been off since late afternoon and I haven't even listened to any music. Through the window now, after dark, the yardlight glints off the fresh white snow and everything looks peaceful.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Storm Stayed

How do you like the snow overhang out my office window?

Kinda looks like the underside of a great spaceship passing directly over the house. Guess who watched Star Trek with Everett last night.

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

The snow’s still blowing and ice crystals sting your face (I was out filling the bird feeders, sweeping the step and knocking snow off a flattened lilac bush), and Scott said my van wouldn’t have made it to the other house yesterday.

He came this morning with the tractor and pushed snow around the yard but the potluck for his grandmother's 101st birthday in Kelvington is postponed. I made "bean dish" anyway; it won’t go to waste as long as Scott and Emil are around to help eat it. Baked a batch of bread too, so supper is taken care of. Everett's just pulled the eight loaves from the oven and is slicing into one. I can almost hear his drool hitting the kitchen floor from here.

Can’t say as I mind a winter storm when we’re all safe and warm at home and have everything we need.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Big Dump

Chloe and I waded through the snow to the road, just to see how deep it was.

So much for my big plans to move Emil and his stuff over here to GGFarm today. By the time Scott left for the other house (Emil was there and we don't leave him alone overnight) late last night, a lot of snow had already fallen, and it’s been coming down hard and heavy all day. I went out a while ago to give Chloe her pill – which is pushed into a chunk of wiener (thank you, Faye: why didn't I think of that? it beats putting my whole hand into her mouth) — and discovered there’s been six inches of the fluffy white so far. It’s beautiful out there, but not the best for Emil to walk through. Scott just called to see if I want anything from town and said he spent the last two hours pushing snow out of the yard over there with the tractor. He’ll have to do the same thing here before it will be easy for Emil to make his way to the house.

Hm. Not too inviting.

It’s a relief to allow myself to stay home and leave Emil where he is.
Everett’s cookies are coming fresh and furious out of the oven, so I’ve had some with some milk and made myself a pot of tea.
Scott came over yesterday morning, saying he didn’t have enough ambition to get any work done and felt lazy. For him it was a wasted day, although he did spend a couple hours trying to get the printer working after it’s sat idle since October, and he did sand the window casings in preparation for one last paint touchup. Before he went home to check on a cow that had been bleeding from her mouth and to try to reach our very busy vet, we agreed he’d come back here and we’d go to town for supper and groceries.

As always, we drove the entire length of Wadena’s main street before making up our minds which of the four open restaurants to go to. We chose the one that appeared through its front windows to have the fewest customers, and I went along with Scott’s idea to order two Chinese food dishes to share. They turned out to both taste about the same — and bland — so it wasn’t a satisfying meal; rather disappointing, instead. But we went to the grocery store on full bellies, which helped me resist the urge to buy potato chips, jalepeno poppers and chicken wings for easy snacks— they were all on sale, but I'm trying to be strict when it comes to convenience and processed food, and junk food. I did impulsively pick up Crispy Crunch bars from the 2 for $1.89 bin, and Emil thanked me not only last night when we dropped off some groceries over there, but we’ve spoken twice by phone today and he’s thanked me again, both times.

We hauled the bulk of the groceries into the house here at GGFarm and put them away, then poured ourselves rye and gingerales and pulled up to the table for a couple games of crib. At 11 Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap came on the radio, rebroadcast from last Saturday; when we’d had enough of cards, we reclined in our new loveseat in the dark living room, holding hands, and laid there listening to the show till it ended at one in the morning.

Best to stay home:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And Now We Can Really Move In

Guilty of emptying the cookie jar, Everett and his after-school guest/cousin Xander try to look sweet.

The furniture in the living room is finally out of the boxes it came in, but now covered with blankets so that Little Lord Fountleroy won't leave his hair all over it. Of course, we could refuse to allow him on the furniture, but what fun would that be? He's on his winter vacation, after all, and deserves some doggie luxury.

Scott built a railing on the outside step this afternoon so I'll get cardboard boxes from town for serious packing and transfer Emil over here on the weekend. Aside from his clothes and things, the contents of my china cabinet can now be crated up, my books can start coming over, the rest of my kitchen stuff can come to its new home, framed pictures can go onto the walls; but no rush. All in good time. Why, it could take me two years ....


Our donation to disaster relief in Haiti will go by Canada Post to the Red Cross, Saskatchewan branch. Here's the address if you're in our fair province and want to mail a cheque:

Canadian Red Cross
Sask Office
Box 4740, Stn Main
Regina, SK
S4P 3Y4


For those who want to give online, my friend Jean has started a relief fund that you can contribute to, here. Jean says, "If you are still looking for a worthy organization for Haiti relief funds, Mercy Corps is a great choice. They have a reputation as an efficient organization with lots of experience."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Happened to Winter?

Rose-breasted grosbeak.

Now we've got unseasonably mild weather. But no one is complaining.

A lot of people go to Mexico. Karen and Dick got there yesterday. Cathy's going in a few days. Kim and Daryl seem to go often, as it's their favourite holiday destination in the winter months. Scott looked at me this morning and wondered whether we are missing out on something, whether going to Mexico is a trip we should be wanting for ourselves.

Having been there once, I told him it's a place he should go, that he might enjoy it and besides, we have friends (Andries and Mayte) down there whom we'd like to see again and very likely won't unless we make the trip.

But first ... the house and renovations have to get paid for. And Scott has to figure out how to run his business so that he can actually take time off for leisure. That's a big hurdle right there. And somehow we both have to get excited about the idea of going anywhere. As it is, my idea of a perfect day is one where I don't have to leave home. Fortunately I have a lot of those perfect days, afforded to me by my lovely little job that requires only a computer and internet connection.

Which reminds me, I'd better get back to it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tea Time

Getting my Little Old Granny groove on.

Me and one of my piggy friends meet for tea in the living room most afternoons.


One of the books I grabbed off the library mystery shelves is called All Dolled Up for Murder.
One of the characters is a "purse-dog trainer."
Who knew? Those teeny tiny dogs have to be taught to stay in their owners' purses.
I'm not sure whether to believe it or not. :)


Ducky arrived on Sunday. He is the lovingest little love-a-duck; he's made his tiny chihuahua self at home on Everett's bed and then when E gets up in the morning, Ducky clicks down the hallway and ... tries to jump onto my bed, slams against the mattress and falls to the floor. After I pick him up he snuggles up beside me till I roll on out. A frigging hairy dog-ass in my frigging bed ... I can hardly believe it myself, but it's Ducky. I can't help loving him and being a complete pushover.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Visit with the L-BOs

Rick and Faye, or, as Scott calls them, the L-BOs.

With luck I won't be in trouble for posting this. Some people hate almost all photos of themselves, so you never know.

We had another fantastic meal at their place last night; saw a white-tailed deer with a huge ("trophy," Scott said) rack on the drive over. By 11 we were all yawning and Scott and I made our half-hour way home on the gravel roads at about 40 kph.

I always think of Uncle Bob, my great-uncle, when I drive that slowly. He drove a little Toyota and was never in any hurry. In my twenties I could not understand why on earth he'd putz along at such a snail's pace; it was an old-people thing, I assumed, glad I didn't have to ride with him.

Now I get it, though I'm still decades younger than Uncle Bob was. What's the rush? It's that simple. During the day I enjoy the scenery, and after dark I'm listening to the radio and singing along.

It could be that last night I'd had one too many shots of sambuca ... or maybe it was that paralyzer I polished off before we left. I hadn't had a lot to drink but as I'm not a heavy drinker it may have affected my reflexes. At any rate there was no reason to be speedy, especially when a deer or moose could dash out of the ditch at any moment.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beautiful Day

The gang comes running.

It has been quite a while since I had a visit with the horses, so this afternoon that was remedied by a walk down the road. Poor little balding Chloe Doodle the Dumpling Dog did not know what to think of these great beasts and stood behind me, barking and growling. The horses just stood at the fence and looked at her, obviously underwhelmed by her fledgling guard-dog instincts.

It is gorgeous out there, with a warm wind carrying the scent of spring. A hem. It doesn't hurt to dream.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Another Wild and Crazy Friday Night

Apparently when you try to get potato chips out of your teeth with your tongue, your face contorts and gets stuck that way.

Poor laddie. That looks painful. Don't let this happen to you!


Everett brought Xander home with him after school and aside from coming upstairs to gobble up pancakes for supper, I didn't see them till Xander's ride came to take him home. They played on the Xbox in Everett's basement room and I worked at my desk up here. Work, work, work, is that all I ever do? Yeah, that's me. Workity work work. Pffft and piffle.

After Xander left, Everett prepared a soft little corner nook on the bed in his "cave" for me so I could watch a movie with him, in comfort. With a blanket over my knees and a brown cow in my hand. This is the way to spend a Friday night, I say. But what would we watch? It was my choice, he said. Star Trek, said I? Well no, he'd just watched that one. Up, said I? Okay! said he.

Pretty cute. I liked the first 15 minutes best, but I was in tears (god, what a wuss) by the time that part was over. The rest was sweet too; great film for kids, young and old.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Pig

How doth he love me? Let pigs count the ways.

It had been a while since my pig collection was added to, but Scott topped it up this Christmas.

His first gift to me 10 years ago, when love was new, was a stuffed pig on a keychain. He was, he said with a grin, "a pig for your love."

And the pigs kept on coming.

Now, when he gives me a hard time about all my "junk," I say "But darling, you gave me half of it!"


It's been great having Everett here with me; another body in the house fills it up just right. In the mornings before school he comes and sits in the rocker by my bed and chats with me. All I have to do next is get him trained to bring a cup of coffee along.


It's time to get back into hand-written letters again. I'm sponsoring a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which as you probably know is a severely war-torn country where the women have often been raped and enslaved as well as seen horrors that would probably put me right out of my head. They've lost family members, and they're destitute. My $27 a month will help her get into some kind of self-supporting business and will be put to use in the community, too, perhaps enabling her children and others in the village to go to school. I don't know anything about her yet, but we can write to each other and translators will facilitate communication.

To find out more about the operation Women for Women International, click here.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dogs in Sweaters

Chloe keeping warm.

Okay, at 30-below maybe there's no such thing as being warm, even in a toasty insulated doghouse surrounded by flax bales. But normally robust farm dogs (and cats; note Michu soaking up the sun on top of the bales) manage fine as long as they've got good shelter.

Chloe, however, has something going on with her skin that is causing her to lose patches of fur; the vet at first thought it was not something she would recover from and said that animals that get the infection called demodex, caused by mites, are best put down. He said they get scabby and lose fur so that no one wants to pet them or have them near, which is "not much of a life for a dog." But he was unable to see any mites in the skin scrapings he looked at through a microscope, so thought it worthwhile trying to treat her because it may be something else-- sarcoptic mange, perhaps.

She got a shot of antibiotics, a month's supply of horse pills that I had to give her by putting my hand halfway down her throat (glad that part's over), and some sort of gel applied to a spot between her shoulders once a month for three months. Eye drops immediately cleared up the green goo that had tipped us off that something was wrong. We'd noticed her skin was wrinkled but figured she must have loose skin to grow into or something. Wrong. The vet recognized the problem immediately. She had already lost a lot of hair and had bloody, scabby spots that weren't healing. We'd thought she must have been in a fight with a raccoon or something.

After a month of treatment, not only can you see her pink skin through her thinning fur; there are now patches of hair completely gone. When it was 36-below the other night, I started calling her into the porch to sleep. Due to her excessive naughty chewiness it was necessary to block off an area so that she wouldn't damage Scott's tools or anything else that's out there. But she was good as gold; curled up on the matt and you didn't hear a peep from her. No bathroom accidents either.

During the day she's outside though, so when I left for Margo yesterday afternoon to visit Karen it occurred to me that a sweater might help a little. There was a hand-me-down that Joan gave me (I've worn the hell out of it so it was in a bag in the van, on its way to the recycling depot) and I put that on her and then laughed my head off. Too cute.

Chloe is tied up because the old dog, Casper, is eating outside the photo frame. At 10 months of age, Chloe has gone from pretending to respect Casper's dominance while lying across the food bowl so Casper couldn't get any grub, to growling so that Casper backs off. She is so greedy that, even with two food bowls some distance apart, she will run back and forth between the two in order to keep Casper from eating. Must've been underfed as a pup, unless it's in the nature of huskies to be this way. Don't dogs in northern sled teams need to be fed in individual food bowls and tethered so that they can't fight over them? Chloe will even take individual pieces of dog chow and carry them around the yard to cache them.

Oh no, I've become one of those people who goes on and on about her dog.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Dad is an Old Bugger Now

Dad turned 71 today.

This photo of Dad and my niece Jordan was taken about six years ago, when we visited Joan and Gary in Kelowna and Mom and Dad came down for a few days. The summer sun was sweltering and thank god for air conditioning, but we still spent every moment we could out on the shady balcony, sipping on cocktails.

Once Scott looked out the door from the kitchen and, seeing Jordan's sippy-cup near Dad, asked "Do you want me to refill your glass, Don?"

Cameron came through town on his way back to Edmonton so Emil and I met him for breakfast. "For some reason," he said, scratching his head, "I thought Dad was 75."
For all but three weeks every January, Dad is exactly 20 years older than me, which is why I can always remember his age.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The New Year's Eve Feast

Oh indeed we got festive. To leave the store I wrapped cut flowers in grocery bags and carried them next to my body, under my coat. Grandma Johnson's candlesticks graced the table. We had spaghetti, Emil had ice cubes in his gingerale, and my water glass did wine-holding duty. We had Aero bars for dessert and listened to Emil's new Don Ross CD. {Thank you, Grandpa.}

Karen says the thermometer dipped to 42-below during the night.
Forty-two below. Whoa.
It's warmed up to minus-26 this afternoon, which eases my mind somewhat since both Scott and Everett are on the road home today. It's still dangerous to be travelling so it'll be a relief when they arrive.
Poor old Everett had to get on the bus at 6 a.m. (poor old Gord, who had to get up at 4 in order to deliver him to the depot) and poor old Cathy had to go out in the cold at 1:55 to pick him up in Saskatoon and take him to her place, where Scott can lasso him on the way past.


On the way to the city Everett was fascinated by the snow swirling across the highway and filmed it with my little digicam. He's got a way to go before he can narrate like Boris Karloff: