Friday, April 30, 2010

Is It Spring? Is It Winter? What?

Main Street Wadena

Alas, not today. Rain has pounded on the house all night; now it's sleet beating against the windows, and snow is forecast. All righty then! We don't live in a tipi so we have nothing to complain about. Except that I have been asked to go to town and pay some energy bills, so must venture out in this deluge. Then again, I don't have to ride a horse the six miles to town so I still can't complain. Always look on the sunny side of life, as they say in MontyPythonese.

I went along on a quick trip to the hardware store about a week ago and, as always, took a book along to read as I waited in the half-ton. However, the book wasn't even cracked open as I was too intent on people-watching. For a little town — 1200 or 1500 people — there is a lot of traffic downtown. I don't know half the people I see as they come in from miles around and, after all, Wadena isn't my hometown, but there are still a lot of familiar faces and you know what? Just as when I'm in an airport, I never, ever get bored. I can sit for hours just watching all the different people strolling by with their cellphones stuck to their ears or their little suitcases on wheels pulled behind them. Endless variety. Well it's the same on the main street of this little place.

We are still getting large flocks of noisy snowgeese passing over the yard. This picture was taken last week; today there is a green tinge on the branches of the willow tree:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What XanderCuzz (13) and Everett (17) Get Up To

1) Meet Hoolio (shouldn't that be Julio?). Xander took this photo from atop Everett's shoulders.
2) Stirring cheese sauce and straining spaghetti for supper.

They wanted to play on the x-box and their noses were out of joint when I wouldn't let them.
"It's a school day," I said; but Everett had no homework, and thought that meant—
"Hell no," I told them. "Go find something else to do. Go outside and sneak around, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, like we did when I was a teenager."
Amazingly, they didn't really complain, although they did try to reason me out of my unreasonable stance. After all, they had no homework.
Eventually they ended up dragging sticks through the gravel on the driveway. This entertained them for a long time and then they were so pleased with it they took pictures.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Empty birdhouses.
So far. I bought this set at Ten Thousand Villages for $18 or $20.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Sidekick

Caught in the act!

That's Everett's caption for the photo.

Emil was actually asking me what was in the tube. It was icing.

One of his favourite pastimes is going to the Co-op store. While I fill a shopping cart, he strides down the aisles and says a loud "Hello!" to anyone he knows. I can hear his crutches clicking away in the distance.

To anyone he doesn't know, he says "Hello, what's your name?" and often follows it with "How old are you?"

Monday after school
Me: “Come to think of it, I talked to Gunnar on the phone today. He’s got a new puppy— an English pug.”
Emil: “Did you ask Gunnar to sing something for you?”
Me: “No. Why would I do that?”
Emil: “I don’t know. I just thought you might.”
Everett and I laugh, and Everett says to me across the table, “One time I mentioned that Gunnar had been here, and Emil asked if you’d made him sing.”
Emil: “Do you want to hear Gunnar sing?” He is dead earnest, but Everett and I can’t help giggling. The question seems to come out of left field.
Someone has said something to get Emil thinking along these lines, but for the life of me I can’t remember what that might have been. It was probably me, too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Snow in April

Alexander was over yesterday, hanging out with Everett. I enlisted their muscles to carry the lawn furniture out of the shed and set it under the oak trees, whose lower branches had just been sawed off.

Wouldn't you know that this morning we'd awaken to snow and a freezing temperature.


A perfect day for baking bread and making granola and reading my new library book, Burmese Lessons.
If you've never enjoyed the living words of Canadian author Karen Connolly, you're in for a treat. You are drawn in from the very first sentence and within several paragraphs you care what happens next and don't want to put the book down.
I first discovered Connolly many years ago when I picked up the travel memoir of her months spent in Greece as a young woman alone. You were right there with her as she sat on the floor, leaning against the wall of a small stone building, watching goats graze and nibbling on feta cheese. After that I read her novel about a gentle, peaceful man in solitary confinement in an Asian jail for decades. And now her love affair with Burma, the Burmese people and a Burmese revolutionary.

For a full and expert review, click here.

Grandma's New Outfit

Grandma needs a new pantsuit for dressy occasions, so Aunt Reta put me on the hunt for one. Today I checked out Wadena's dress store.

What kind of pantsuit does a tiny 93-year-old lady like?

I didn't find one but got some good deals and put together this set for a summery day.

Let's hope she doesn't hate green. The pants are green pedal-pushers (What are they called now? Anyway, woo hoo, Shirley! they won't need shortening!), and as you can see the pretty blouse is bright green.

I also found a second pair of pedal-pushers, white with pinstripes and large pockets; cute.

The flowered T-shirt is particularly pretty due to the strip of lace running vertically behind the flowers. I rather covet it myself. Might just have to go back there for another one.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cheek to Cheek

Ferme aux pissenlits, a.k.a. Ste-Edwidge Farm, by Louise Martineau

Don't tell me the dandelions are already up in Quebec, Louise!

Louise is still working on her cows; her son says her painted cows look like blobs.
However, Lou, that is exactly how cows DO look sometimes -- like giant blobs. So you're not that far off anyway.

The vet advises us to put Chloe Doodle down. I've cancelled her Monday appointment to be spayed, in view of that fact, but haven't got the heart to make an appointment to euthanize her. She seems so happy, so lively, so glad to be here. It just doesn't seem right and we are having trouble taking that step.


I was out on the back step at 7:30 this morning, black coffee in hand, wearing my fluffy white housecoat with a winter jacket on top, sitting in a lawnchair overlooking the slough, listening to the frogs and various birds including snow geese off in the distance. Gorgeous calm day, eastern horizon pink behind the trees; a flock of long-necked swans flew over my head.

Later, after a walk to the ravine with the dogs, I sat on a flat rock in my herb garden and listened to the birds calling to each other all around the yard. It's heaven, I tell you.

I didn't sing it then, but often do while out walking around here:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's a Dogs' Life

How Casper and Chloe spend their days

While me, I have three million things to do and, to be honest, only feel like doing one of them: and that's getting outside for a walk. To hell with the dishes, work, supper -- who needs 'em?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Living Skies - No Kidding

It's like the skies are filled with swarms of mosquitoes for as far as the eye can see. Only they're loud mosquitoes; last night the flock that settled in the field southwest of our house drowned out the already-loud singing of the frogs in our own yard.

All night. They were still gabbling this morning when I woke up. I wonder what that's all about. Are they smaller flocks meeting for an evening's mating dance? Previously acquainted flocks that have lots of catching up to do? Parts of the same flock that have to compare notes and make plans for the next day's flight routes? Maybe the intense noise keeps coyotes and foxes at bay when the birds can't see their predators approaching in the dark.

Saskatchewan licence plates say "Land of Living Skies" and there are some folks who don't see the significance of that. I laugh when the CBC does its radio call-in shows and someone calls in to say the "motto" is meaningless. Where are these people's heads, I wonder? They must either be city dwellers who don't experience this display of bird migration and have no idea what they're missing, or they are people who never look up and don't listen to what's going on around them. The secret: be still, be quiet for one whole minute. How easy is that? And with the snow geese flying over on their way to northern nesting grounds, you don't even have to do that much. You can't miss 'em.

Granted, we live on a migratory flight path. Maybe we're just lucky. But I imagine most of the province is passed over by these huge flocks of birds, and not just snow geese either. There are sandhill cranes, too, giant long-legged birds that stand like flamingos as they feed in the stubblefields, and fly over, high, in slow, lazy circles.

A few of the snow geese last night, seen from my back step:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Land of Living Skies

Spruce grouse next to the driveway

The flock of snow geese is so noisy a half-mile away, landed in the stubblefield, that it sounds like the hum of an engine. I can only say Wow.

And when they fly low over the house, their wings make a mechanical zing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lost Day

It's been a wasted day, to be honest, unless you're someone who believes sleeping is a good way to pass the day.
I woke up feeling pretty sprightly at 9 but by 11:30 was exhausted from doing nothing and crawled back into bed for another short snooze. Then woke up tired yet again and decided a walk in the warm wind and sun might fix me up. It didn't. By the time I got back in I was doing that thing you do before you empty your guts -- you know, where you're hot and cold at the same time? That thing. So I did what was called for, took a pill, and slept till 7:30. Now I'm rarin' to go! What's on the agenda for Saturday night? Not much. We'll probably watch a movie. The best part of that might be eating potato chips and sipping on gingerale. My life is so exciting.

Everett had to go out and rescue a garter snake from Chloe Doodle this morning, and when I was out in the afternoon there was another one crossing the lawn and Chloe was barking and pouncing at it. I didn't have the nerve to pick it up and deposit it elsewhere but Chloe listened when I told her to leave it alone, so I was impressed with her. Another dog I used to have, Annie Doodle, when she saw a snake would roll on it until it was dead. That was lovely, as you can imagine.

Have I mentioned that her hair is growing back in? Yeah, so that's a good sign that maybe, just maybe, she has beat this demodex thing. Although she still has bloody, raw patches of skin, so maybe she hasn't beat it. She's got an appointment to be spayed on the 27th but I need to take her to the vet first, to see what he thinks. If he doesn't agree that she's got the parasitic infection beat, we probably should put her down before the mosquitoes and ticks get bad. The former were out today, I'm told. I don't want to put my doggie friend down, so I have kept hoping and giving her every chance. Her diet has been modified to include vast amounts of raw beef and bones over the winter (our yard looks like an above-ground graveyard; it's gross), and we're making sure to buy kibble that doesn't have colourings and preservatives in it, and I even made herb tea to boost her immune system and mixed it with the dry food; she licked that right up.

I was in bed by 9 last night because my Mr brought the screens up and put them in the windows, and I could lie there listening to the frogs croaking and singing. There must be thousands of them in the slough behind the house; it's absolutely wonderful. I just lie there and smile, and smile, and smile. I love the sound. And wonder why it is that some frogs croak, and some sing. Or do they all do both? Must see what I can find out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On a Friday in April

"There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand.
Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.
"I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been."
-Henry David Thoreau, in Walden Pond

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The City = Money Spent

When we drove past this dog on the roof of a house in Yorkton yesterday, the man behind the wheel quickly made a u-turn and said "Get the camera out! Otherwise no one will believe us."

Had a visit with Agnes (my second mom) and Elgin McLelland while we were there, also saw Chrissy L-Bo on a meal break from her cooking job at Zeller's, and two people from Margo.

Came home with four cordless phones (our old one interfered with my iMac; it would wake it from sleep, and turn it on from Off) for the price of two; an ironing board because Everett bent the old one out of shape, not knowing how to put it down (not that I iron more than twice a year but when you have to, you have to); a new clothes brush and one of those sticky-rolly ones with tape on it (they don't work, either, for what I bought them for: the furniture we bought in August came with all this sawdusty stuff stuck in the microfibre and nothing removes it -- not the vacuum cleaner, not a damp cloth, not my fingernails without a lot of time and cursing, nothing -- I am going to have to go over it all with tweezers and what a pain in the ass that will be. Should've taken the furniture out of the boxes it came in, before December; then would have felt all right about returning it. As it is, the vendor shrugged when we told her in January, but she offered no options, solutions or apology; we won't shop there again, I guess, even though it's not her fault it took us four months to inspect our purchase); Louisiana hot sauce from Peavey Mart; new doorknobs for the office, bathroom and bedroom doors; $42 worth of organic apples, oranges and tomatoes from Superstore, since our local Co-op doesn't get organics in regularly (we aren't fans of big box stores and prefer to help keep our local businesses in business, but sometimes they just won't let us! Though the Co-op has now got a line of organic products in, so good for them -- they're trying); and a "thing" to hang the garden hose on.

We hate shopping. It's a dirty job. But you know: somebody's gotta do it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

God Damn Dishes


Just kidding.
Rick even offered to do the dishes after we had supper with him and Faye on Thursday night.
After I scraped myself off the floor, we all went for a short walk in the cool evening air, instead, and then sat about drinking wine, rum and/or tea and eating chocolate fudge.
The dishes above aren't those from Thursday night.
They are what awaited me on the kitchen counter when the boys and I arrived home around 8 last night.
I'm told Chloe Doodle had a standoff with a coyote in our back yard yesterday morning. Didn't think the little hound had it in her; neither animal was backing down, till the coyote heard a human voice from the bedroom window and vamoosed.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dinner for Four

The slough behind my garden, where a pair of gigantic Canada geese have been hanging out on the water that is open

I have to do last night's supper dishes this morning (we had my sister-in-law Lynn over so I visited with her instead of cleaning the kitchen after we ate), do the Tibetan Rites and squeeze in four hours of work sometime today, make dessert for tonight's supper with friends, and then make the simple supper. It's going to be an easy one, too -- pork chops browned in a frying pan and then baked in mushroom soup (always a favourite around here)(we just bought half a pig; it's *real* farm-raised pork, not factory-farmed, and that makes a huge difference in flavour) and home-made cabbage rolls, which I bought from a lady (Mary Psovsky) in town yesterday, and a green salad and maybe some steamed carrots. Someone else will have to wash and peel potatoes if he wants them, because I abhor that job.

I intend to do all the kitchen work in the most enjoyable manner I can -- listening to music that I love and singing along, dancing around the kitchen, and maybe even sipping on a glass of chilled white wine to put me in the "party" mood. If all goes well, the food will be prepped and the kitchen cleaned up before Faye and Rick arrive, so I can relax and maybe, if I don't pay attention, have one too many glasses of wine. Nah; it isn't worth the headache I'd likely get.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another Week

Me and Chloe Dog got out for a walk across the road to the old homestead this afternoon. There's not much left there now but some old junk and a crumbled foundation, but you walk back into a beautifully private, treed meadow on a slight hill. This would be your view facing south, if you built a house there. I've always pictured the spot with a tipi in the centre of it.

We had company for the weekend, and after they left this morning, I talked to both Dad and Joan on the phone. Joan's updated her website; go have a look. Especially if you live near Kelowna.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The making of paska, an Easter bread, by chef Mary Woloshyn

Willis and I made the rounds of hospital patients yesterday and then strolled over to the nursing home to have afternoon tea with the longterm-care residents. One of the local ladies was making this traditional Ukrainian paska so we admired her handiwork.

You have to move quickly to get all the tiny pieces of dough into place before they rise too much, but when you're successful, the finished product looks like this: