Sunday, May 30, 2010


I can only use one cup of sourdough starter at a time, so had to settle for a small batch of bread. This time. When I find a recipe I like, I'll put another batch of starter together so there will be enough to make six loaves.

This is called egg and yogurt bread. It is moist and soft (I sliced the crusts myself, before baking, to differentiate these loaves from the others in the freezer), and besides whole wheat flour it contains wheat bran, wheat germ, and rye flour.

Alas it's not the flavour I'm craving these days.

Whenever possible I put sesame and sunflower seeds in our daily bread, but lately it seems bland to me — even when toasted — which is why I decided to make sourdough for the first time in years. It has its own unique flavour, which is the one that got me baking whole wheat breads back in the day.

However ... I'll try something different next week, when it's time to replenish the starter with some fresh flour and water.

Thinkin' maybe a raisin rye, which is not a sourdough but might satisfy my desire for serious taste.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mosquito Repellent

Several years ago I read that if you eat bananas, mosquitoes are attracted to you. If you eat citrus fruits instead, mosquitoes are repelled by the smell of your skin. So for the past few years, in spring I stopped buying bananas and didn't start again till after the first fall freeze, when the mosquitoes were done for. And I ate an orange every day.

It didn't do the trick, though. Mosquitoes still liked my blood.

A couple weeks ago I attended the funeral for my great-uncle in Lintlaw, and the next day went back to visit with some relatives who had come to Saskatchewan for the occasion. Dad's cousin Mavis (that makes her my first cousin once-removed, I've been told; not my second cousin) was among the group sitting in a shady circle under a tree. The mosquitoes attacked me immediately. I had eaten a banana for lunch, having given up on my "No bananas from May to Sept" method.

Mavis told us that she and her parents had tested out the banana/mosquito theory and her mom, the one who had just eaten a banana, was viciously chewed upon by mosquitoes while Mavis and her dad, who had eschewed the curvy fruits that day, were ignored. It worked for them; the results were immediate.

She also said that if you take Vitamin B1 the mosquitoes won't like you. So I went straight out and bought some, and put it on the kitchen table so I'll remember to take it. It's been a week or so and so far the mosquitoes still bite, but not as much as they might. I'll report again later.

Right now, I have to go out to the correction line to meet my sister Joan, who can't remember how to get here. She's been in Saskatoon since Wednesday taking a photography course, and has rented a car to come out here and visit her sisters et al. Better go, before she gets there and drives on past if I'm not there waiting!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Get Stuffed

Mistakenly, I thought at age 21 Emil might be willing to let go of some of the stuffed animals he never looks at (to my knowledge). They were stuffed behind the bed, stuffed in the closet, stuffed on the shelf in the bedroom at the old house. But he insisted on bringing them along, and he piles them all on his bed every morning and throws them in a heap on a chair every night.

The stuffed animal of honour is the sheep that Jane Siberry gave him after a concert at the Manhattan Ballroom outside Saskatoon one frigid winter night:

, thank you for the tip on placing photos easily! It works like a charm.


Yesterday marked five years since Mom's death. I had, a week late this year as well as last, found a memoriam verse and emailed it to the Wadena News in the morning. I had shed a tear while thinking about Mom, but wasn't marking the anniversary by feeling low or even particularly solemn; had almost forgotten the significance of the actual date. My aunt Shirley met me in town for lunch and I did some running around and got home late in the afternoon with groceries and was just about to put my feet up for a minute when Joanne called, wondering whether I was having an okay day or not.

I always like thinking and talking about Mom, so the call was welcome. I love that Joanne misses her too, and that she cares enough to check in with me. How nice is that? What can I say. It's good to bring Mom into the present in whatever way we can. After five years, the uncomfortable thing is that time seems to be taking Mom further away rather than healing the loss; as if I've gone on, and Mom's been left in the past.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A May Day

Sourdough starter, ready to use tomorrow.

It's been icy cold and windy for several days, so I've been indoors most of the time. I've dragged bedding plants, tomato pots and the rose bush back into the porch, and covered some flowers last night and tonight that I apparently jumped the gun by transplanting already.

You'd think being inside would mean lots of time to update here, wouldn't you? It should work that way; can't say why it hasn't. Nothing happening? Sure, that makes sense.

And here's the little lost puppy, whose owner was found within a day and came and picked him up. We almost hated to see him go.

And last but not least, see the horrible furniture we bought in August. Microfibre that you are not supposed to scotchguard, that holds onto lint, hair and everything else that floats by, and you can't get it off with a clothes brush, a vacuum cleaner, or a sticky brush without going to great extremes. Like tweezers, and pulling things off one at a time. Even then you have to work at it. I imagine that unless a solution is found, this stuff will be hoofed out as soon as we can convince ourselves we've gotten our money's worth from it. It wasn't expensive, fortunately. But it sure as hell was expensive considering the garbage that it is. We didn't buy it from Sears, by the way, but they have it in one of their sale catalogues. Don't buy it. Or, if you are Super Housekeeper and can suggest a solution, please do.

Heard on the radio today that the chemicals used to make green paint are dangerous to humans. Some to make certain other colours are, too. Damn, we're screwed.

Can anyone tell me how to put pictures into an entry conveniently when there is more than one? Man, I hate being dumb. I upload them all, but then add some text, need to move them, and they don't let me drag them over to where I want — well, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. And sometimes I just say to hell with it. I'm sure there is a simple and obvious solution that is too simple and obvious for my small but powerful brain to grasp alone. Usually the answer comes to me the moment I hit Publish Post, so I realize within moments what a doofus I am, and so does everyone else!

Tonight, my photos keep disappearing as I work on this entry. Think I'll upload that furniture pic one last time, then go to bed and read.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Found Dog

A truckload of wood mulch awaits my bidding. And my back.

It's been unloaded onto the garden and I planned to start spreading it today. But it's raining. More delay. That's all right. It's never all done and I'm learning to let that be okay. There's no choice anyway.

A young dog wandered into the yard today when the rain began to fall; our adolescent Chloe was growling and snarling from up on the step for some time before I went out to see what was up. Here it was this pup cowering against the building, trying to keep dry.

We've phoned all the neighbours and no one knows where the lost mutt might have come from. We live about six miles from town so if no owner is found, the verdict will be that someone dropped the animal off out here. They say it happens all the time with cats and litters of kittens.

Black with a brown nose and a red collar, and maybe six months old. Anyone?


Family news:
Emil and I ran into Heather in the Co-op store this week and she followed us out here on her way home. Good thing Emil was with me or I would likely have missed her altogether.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Recycle Old Sweaters

Are these not wonderful ideas?

"Pocketbook" pillows for children and the pretty ladies for pretty ladies?

I came across these somewhere and have misplaced the url; sorry.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sweet Sara

Sara stuck under the front step

Sara Doodle the Dumpling Dog is a five-year-old blue heeler/border collie cross who is terrified of thunder. When area farmers use scare cannon to keep the hordes of geese out of their fields, Sara will do anything to get into your house and hide in your basement. This is the same dog that made a wide berth around me one afternoon when I'd been snapping my bubblegum.

The other morning when the boys went out to catch the bus, Everett informed me that Sara was unable to get out from beneath the step. She'd managed to get herself in there somehow so should've been able to get out, but apparently not.

Just a few shovelfuls of soil to deepen the hole did the trick, and she was soon out, wagging her tail and running around the yard with Chloe Doodle. She spent the day lying on the grass with our two dogs and then headed home to the old place a mile down the road, where we moved from, in time to greet the kids there when they got dropped off by the schoolbus.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Winkn Blinkn n Nod

"The boys are happy."

Three bulls were taken out of wet corrals (or wherever they were) and put onto the grass in our pasture.

I walk out to the fence every day and lean over it, tell them how handsome they are, and pretty much get ignored.

I don't go over the fence when they're in there, except to take this photo; and there's an electric fence inside the other fence, so I kid myself that it is any protection if I get behind it fast. It's not; a pissed-off animal this size would walk right through it. Same with the permanent fence I suppose, as far as that goes. Anyway, I'm nervous around these big beasts, but am told they're more scared of me than the other way around. Good, but I don't care.

So we're wary of each other.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WAS Unidentified Bird NOW Harris's Sparrow

This little fella has been at the feeder outside the living room window for several days, but I can't find him in my Birds of Saskatchewan book.

With luck, a shout out to my favourite group of bird lovers will bring a swift answer to the question: Who is this?

*** Thanks to those who knows, the bird has been identified as a Harris's sparrow in breeding plumage. He'll be on his way to a northern forest to start a family.

HEAR HIS SONG at this page: click here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Just a couple more minutes in the office after supper.

Finally we've had a gorgeous spring day! Finally I used the hoe! Take that, blasted weeds!

Note the new feature on the right: a little bit of tarot.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nighty Night

The front of my nightshirt.

I am reduced to using the photo booth on my iMac to come up with an image for today. Still learning how to get pictures off the new camera. Long dull story I won't go into.

Yes I'm ready for bed, and that's where I should be, instead of sitting here reading onscreen.

Started The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald this morning. Looks promising.

Where does a girl have to go to find painted daisies around here? There were none at my favourite local greenhouse, so I drove an hour-and-a-half to the one where I bought painted daisies last year. (Not enough. I want more.) And they didn't have any. Where to, next?

Last year's painted daisies:

It was not a wasted trip by any means, as I met two girlyfriends for lunch and then came home with two trays full of bedding plants. The Flower Frenzy has begun.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some Mothers

My great-great grandmother, Mary Jane Walker. At Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Reta, who would the little girl standing in front of her have been?

My sister Karen with a portrait of our great-grandmother, Caroline Engene. Some serious genes going on between those two. Karen is at least 20 years older than the lady in the oval frame, but still the spittin' image:

The Wendy Klein print reminds me of Mom, because of the joyful noise those gals are making:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cold Fingers

Perhaps the last photos taken with the camera we bought for ourselves for Christmas 2002.

Yesterday on the phone:
"Where are you?"
"At the mall."
"Just met up with C and J and the baby; had coffee with F; thought I'd look for something for you."
"Me? Oh, you want ideas. I always like a new CD."
"I was looking at digital cameras."
Alpha Dog (pfft) described two—a larger camera with a fancy lens, and a smaller one, half the size of a cigarette package. You may shake your head at me, but I preferred the little one (unless I could have both, but that would be greedy!). I won't carry a big beauty with me on walks or in my purse, and that's that for that. Better pictures, or fewer pictures: no contest. Backwards as that is.

Carl, your fresh flowers (roses) got to O.Z. one afternoon this week. It was well worth my while to play delivery girl, because on top of the customary hot beverage I was offered, Lily had been making cabbage rolls when I phoned. Guess what we had for supper that night (the frying onions were to go with the perogies)(note to self, phone Mary to order more)(I chopped up two-and-a-half onions; do we like onions much around here?)

Emil and I had planned to go to town for a garage sale and the Mother's Day farmers' market today, but it's frigid out there; the garage sale has probably been cancelled and there's nothing I really need at the market, so that plan isn't so appealing anymore.

Everett was thinking ahead when he took shortening out of the fridge last night to soften up for his cookie-manufacturing efforts this morning; he's out there right now, still in his housecoat, mixing up dough and listening to Quirks and Quarks on the radio.

My fingers are cold.


Everett just brought me a wooden spoon full of cookie dough.
Now Emil's just come into the office to kiss my cheek.
It's Mother's Day every day around here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I Love My Library

Truman Capote: "I knew over four hundred of them [multiple murderers.]"

Lawrence Grobel: Is there anything they all have in common?

Truman Capote: "Eighty per cent of multiple murderers have tattoos. Interview after interview after interview, the person always turned out to be tattooed, either a little bit or a lot."


"They all believe in God."


To see a gallery of the graffiti artist's work around the world, click here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fred Penner

Emil with two of his favourite women.

Donna and her daughter have both worked with Emil at the high school as aides, and today they were out cruising and stopped in. They stayed for about an hour and Emil still hasn't stopped vibrating.

During the course of the conversation I was reminded how careful I have to be when I speak to Emil. Of course I'm already aware that I mustn't say anything I wouldn't want repeated — word for word — but today was an example of why I have to think twice about figures of speech and colloquialisms and such, too.

Donna and her husband took Emil to a Brooks and Dunn concert in Saskatoon a couple years ago and, music lover that he is, Emil mentioned that the duo is performing in the city again tonight and he'd sure like to go but alas, has no tickets. He went on to talk to the ladies about James Taylor and Fred Penner, the children's entertainer, adding vehemently "If you don't like Fred Penner there's something wrong with you!"

Naturally I had to say that everyone has different taste in music so there's not something "wrong" with you if someone's music isn't up your alley.

"Yes there is, Mom! You said 'There's something wrong with anyone who doesn't like Fred Penner!' "

But - but - but - I didn't mean it literally ... try explaining that to Emil! I'm not sure he gets it. Now I remember that conversation though. Maybe I was right in the first place. Maybe there IS something wrong with you if you don't like Fred. I mean, what's not to like?

Click here and put your cursor on Fred there, in the middle. He'll sing you a tune.

Fred was playing and singing for kids and their parents when my boys were small. Now that they're 17 and 21, Fred has been touring the country and playing in university bars. In a radio interview he said these university students were all kidlets back in the day, and when he plays the bars they know all the words and sing along and it's a wild fun time. I believe it. What's not to love about these songs? And imagine a bunch of inebriated twenty-somethings who can sing along. How often do you find that nowadays? I mean, that people actually know the words to songs and can join in and enjoy themselves.

Fred Penner saved my skin on many a road trip with Emil and Everett. Between him and Sharon, Lois and Bram, all I had to do when a kid got fussy in his car seat was plunk in a cassette tape and voila, instant contentment from the back seat. Sweet relief in the front. It even worked if I had no cassette handy; I'd heard the songs enough to know them myself, so I'd just have to start singing. Every parent needs a tool like that one in her brat-busting kit.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everett Does the Turd Tour

Another reason I thank heaven for kids living at home: we have two farm dogs with no damn manners.

Little Miss Honestly, Erin (see my favourites in the sidebar) has tagged me to do a quizzie thing. I am no good at these but I did enjoy Erin's, so here goes:

Ten Random Things You Don't Need to Know About Me:
1. I turn my nose up at fried egg yolks that are overcooked or broken.
2. I feel guilty for a moment when I kill a mosquito or squish a woodtick. Was it really necessary? Hmm?
3. I will swallow a baseball before I will cry in public.
4. I wear wool socks.
5. Thong.
6. I love the colour fuchsia.
7. I found this image on a blog this morning and felt like I was looking into a mirror no one else can see into.

From the Bogwitch's webpage. See the link to it in her comments below this entry.
8. I paint my toenails in summer and wear two silver toe-rings year round. Crows like shiny things.
9. Jesus Christ Who Cares? Heh.
10. I admit, I do. I love to read this stuff about other people. Anybody here wear toe-rings? Some of you probably have facial piercings and such. Not me. Having my ears pierced was enough trauma.
11. Can't cheat, have to list ten:
12. I'm running out of things to tell and there are some you'll never know. Never. NEVER!
13. My chequing account never, ever balances. Pain in the ass.
14. I don't mind playing cribbage.

Bogwitch has a meme-thing at her blog that would be fun to do among people you've spent time with. Like, Cathy, maybe I would tag you because we know each other so well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday, I Meant Tuesday

Taken from the living room window just now.

I love it.

Mostly because I don't have to go out in it, and snow means there's no pressure to go out and work in the garden.


Wow, Pat, thanks for this link:
How fascinating is this, to have sitting open on my desktop?
A bald eagle sits atop her nest and we're looking right in on her from behind; she swivels her head, she adjusts her position, she picks at some moss (well it could get dull after a while, sitting there; baby must be asleep). We hear her moving; we hear the traffic below. It's noisier than where I live. Boats on the water, maybe. Now some crows or gulls. A fly has landed on the nest. Don't suppose she'll bother with it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Luck of the Draw

On the table next to my desk

“Woohoo, I do have some luck!” I said out loud to myself after hanging up the phone. Marilou called early this morning to tell me I’d won the first-prize draw from the greenhouse – a 12-inch potted petunia. So I guess I’ll have a petunia after all. I’d decided not to buy any annuals this year because I saved seed from calendula, zinnias, cosmos and poppies in the fall. But I also know I’ll see the old standbys as I stroll the greenhouse aisles and pick some up in spite of myself, for instant colour in the garden.
So I’ll have at least one lonely little petunia in my onion patch thanks to Althea, now 7, who pencilled my name and phone number on a scrap of paper and stuck it into a plastic pail with the others while I sipped black coffee from a styrofoam cup, ate an iced doughnut, and squeezed down the aisles of greenery to see what her mother was offering for sale this year. All the usuals, but it was so miserable outside I wasn’t in the mood to load up on six-packs of flowers. I approved the two-tone rosebush my sweetie liked and had offered to buy for me, and that was enough. When we get some warm weather I’ll do a proper shop.
For now, I’m hauling two huge, leafy potted tomatoes and the rosebush out of the porch and onto the step when the sun’s shining, and worrying that they’re getting chilled by the icy wind. “Wilt a little,” I said to them, “if it’s too cold for you out here. Brrr. I’m going back in.”
Yes of course I talk to my plants. Don’t you?
At tea time I went out and stood under the sun with my travel mug to look down at the weeds that are growing like themselves, and then up at the birds. There were six hawks circling high above my head and calling, to each other I presume. Six! Could that be a set of parents and their offspring from last year? A wild guess.
These didn't look like the usual red-tailed hawks I see everywhere I go, but they might have been. Hard to tell from so far beneath.
The fuchsia peony that was ruthlessly dug up and transplanted last spring, before leafing out and then drying up, is poking a red tip from the ground. Yay! You were right, Maggie -- it made it. The shasta daisies are making an appearance this week. In this cold, I wonder why. Guess they know what they're doing. Plants can be trusted to grow no matter what you do to them, it seems.

We should have a litter of kittens here any day now, too. Kiersten Kat is starting to look like she's got a cardbox box in her belly.
Wonder where she'll have them; in the loft? in the toolshed? in the doghouse? Never know, with cats. Looking forward to it though. That is, if Kiersten remains safely on the job. Every year Everett finds a litter of kittens near death, starved and freezing, their mother disappeared; and guess who ends up with them in her house, helping feed them a milk formula with eye droppers and wiping their wee bums with a damp cloth? You have to, or they won't "void." Yeah. I don't look forward to that; or to the thought that once Everett leaves home, I'll be doing it by myself. Kids can be pretty handy to have around.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's Cold Out There

A little pot of tea is brewing on the countertop. When it’s ready I’ll pour a cup and sit beside Everett on the couch and watch him play Halo or whatever godawful game he’s got on his x-box. He loves it when I observe; I know this because he starts narrating. However, I still don’t understand the attraction of games that seem to do nothing but shoot at and destroy targets. I guess I’m missing the strategic aspects of the games that hold players’ interest.
Watching him play will bore me to tears within two minutes but I’ll hold out till the first cup is empty, anyway. It’s what mothers do. Isn’t it? Show interest in their children’s activities?

I’ve been at the old house twice today, managing loads of laundry in the washer and dryer. Went to Marilou’s greenhouse (I wore my ski pants and my winter jacket; there were snowflakes falling through the air) to pick out the rosebush Scott offered to buy me this year in Mom’s memory. Tanya had such a good idea when she gave me that first one, the first summer after Mom’s passing. I’ve continued the tradition and even though Mom didn’t have a favourite flower that I’m aware of, whenever I look at my roses in bloom I think of Mom and that means a lot to me.

A batch of whole wheat bread is ready to go into the oven in a few minutes. This will keep Everett happy, as he prefers homemade bread to all others, even for lunch sandwiches. Emil likes the store-bought stuff for sandwiches; thank goodness, or I’d be baking twice a week instead of once. There’s a pork roast in the oven, too, for the benefit of the serious carnivores. For me there will be cream of broccoli soup and warm buttered bread. Emil just eats anything and everything. All of it, if he can get away with that.

Well, off to sip that tea and try to understand the allure of videogames.

It’s not Halo, it’s Oblivion (so-called) and it’s more of a finding-magical-things game, with lots of onscreen reading and conversation. Still dull as hell to watch but Everett likes science fiction and fantasy so it’s up his alley apparently. I sat next to him and observed as his character made his way through castle corridors, stone streets and a fairy forest. And as expected, Everett narrated and I didn’t last long.

We still don't have our big TV over here, among other things; this TV (thanks Dad) is sitting on Mom's accordion case on the floor. We use it for videos (and Everett's xbox) and that's all. Pictures have yet to be hung. In a way it feels like we're still camping here. It's not cosy yet.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Snow Way!

Seen on my walk in the pasture the other day

Not today, oh no! It rained hard yesterday and snowed last night and again this morning. Sigh.

(Everett, laughs): "You wrote that just as you were actually sighing."

And then he mimicked me. Brat.