Saturday, July 31, 2010

Got Company


Pick the dried flowers, toss them in a flower bed, and they'll grow and reseed themselves every year. The leaves and flower petals are supposed to be helpful against migraines. The friend who gave me the seed said to put a flower under my tongue when a headache threatened.


Shelly's here and we've had sultry days to enjoy lazing about in.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's Going On

Word is, purple coneflowers are hardy and will spread.

That hasn't been my experience. I plant them pretty much every year and count myself lucky when one comes back in the spring. Then I buy a few more. Never, yet, have I had a nice patch of them. But I keep trying.

The highlight of the week so far has been a visit from Little Kath, who came out Monday and left yesterday afternoon.

She is the daughter of an old beau who has three kids; when we met, the kids were 11, 7, and 4. Kathy is the eldest, and she was never really a child, and although her dad and I were only together four years, she and I have remained in touch. His youngest sister has also been a close friend since then. I figure boyfriends might only be a way that gal-pals are brought to me. The beaus fall by the wayside, though I still count them as friends, but the relationships with women last a lifetime. I think I was 23 when I met his kids and did my best to "stepmother" them during summer holidays and school vacations, but now, since having two boys to raise from infanthood, I know I could have done a lot better by those three kids and wish I had.

Scott has been busy cutting clover.

And fixing machinery. Seems to me a lot of farm labour is repairing machinery. He bought a used baler last week and has been working on it for two days already. This morning he headed off to the field to cut hay. It hasn't rained for two days. Woo hoo!

On Sunday afternoon we went to a barbecue at Faye and Rick's. Rick is the burger-meister.

Today I'll be making raisin-rye bread, working here at my computer, perhaps running to town to pay my Revenue Canada late-penalty at the credit union, and looking forward to Shelly's arrival. She's leaving Edmonton in the early afternoon and will get here around suppertime.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday in Summer

Some of the kittens checking me out.

Their mother has brought them in from god-knows-where to the shed we feed them in, but they scatter the minute I approach. Yesterday I stood around for a while and they were curious but didn't come within eight feet of me. All five are alive and well; we hadn't seen them for several weeks, when Scott spotted them playing under one of the old combines left here by the previous owners.

Took Karen's tiny little female Yorkie to meet her new owner yesterday, and then carried on to do some shopping in Yorkton, which is still recovering from its severe flood. Arrived home in the evening to work email in my inbox and a countertop full of dirty dishes; I haven't done them for a day or two. And would like to, but alas ... it's Saturday and I believe there may be a garage sale in town, and it's a sunny day, and although I was unsuccessful at keeping Scott from his farm work to go for breakfast with me and attend a few sales, he did fish a $50 bill out of his wallet so I could pick up beer ... so I might as well go see if I can find anything to spend his change on. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Need Some Dough?

I always show off the bread after it's out of the oven. Never before.
There. Remedied. This was your basic whole wheat before it was baked.

I'm told the deep freezes are getting full of bread and that maybe I shouldn't bake this week. With the boys away, we don't go through a batch every seven days. However, I think of this as an opportunity to get ahead of the game, for it's a certainty that one of my weekly bread-baking days will be a "lazy" day when I won't be able to face sticky countertops, and I'll say To hell with it, even if it means throwing out a cup of sourdough starter. Wasteful, wasteful! I can't stand to be, thus the weekly batch of whole wheat bread, whether we need it or not.

My reply to the above suggestion:
"You cannot have too much homemade bread."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Around the Yard

Wildflower bed. I cheated by adding poppy seeds this spring and violas last year.

The cat-tails and water in the ditch are sneaking up on the plough.

The new rain gauge, and part of the slough.

Noticed this in the lilac trees along the driveway last night. Don't know what kind of bird ... maybe a goldfinch.

Everett says he'll remember to use this rock for my headstone. The path of woolly thyme leads into the herb garden. This year there's only thyme, oregano, lavendar and feverfew among the poppies and brown-eyed susans.

Hens and chicks. The hens look like they're going out to a party with their hair all done.

It's only the peppers, on the right hand side, that aren't doing very well. They need less rain and more heat.

These daisies are in a bush that stands as high as the bottom of my rib cage. They're huge.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rosebud Hall

There's an old country hall a mile from our place as the crow flies.

On nights when there is a dance and you are outside, the sounds of music and engines and voices can carry across the field and through the trees to our yard.

There are only half a dozen dances there a year nowadays, if that, put on by the hall committee. They had their annual horseshoe tournament last Monday.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Coyote Crop

Look closely; you'll see the head of a coyote as it sits watching.

Somebody found Casper and I interesting while out on our walk the other day. For a moment it looked like he might come closer; it was as if he was sitting there thinking about it as he watched. And I walked backward, watching him, wishing he would, but remembering that even though a coyote has never been known to attack a person around here, it has been happening -- last year a young woman out hiking in Nova Scotia was killed by two coyotes, and someone in Manitoba had a run-in with one, too.

The bad news is, coyotes have killed a month-old calf and yesterday, I'm told, three of them marched down the road as if they owned it, turned in the driveway at South Forks (my handle for the family "complex" a mile from here, where we lived before moving to GGFarm; it includes a big white farmhouse), and went right into the yard where the house is, where the vehicles are parked, where the kids play, where from in front of the barn they dragged away another calf carcass.

Bold as brass.
The blue heeler, who normally would keep them at some distance, was cowering in the basement because it had been thundering.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lord T'underin'

Thunder throughout the night is no longer an infrequent occurrence but has almost come to be expected. It's prudent to shut down and unplug the computer to avoid having to get out of bed and do it in the wee hours.

The vet sent sedatives for the old dog, to be given at the onset of a thunderstorm or when we notice she is hearing thunder even if we are not: she pants and paces. Instructions on the bottle said "Give two. Give a third if necessary. No more than three in any one day." Scott gave Casper two last night around 10. Twelve hours later she put us in mind of a dead dog, exceedingly slow to respond to our calls, to raise her head, to stand. Even tonight she looks like she's been "rode hard and put to bed wet," as the saying goes, although she eagerly accompanied me on an evening walk so clearly she's okay.

Next time we'll try just one pill. It was pretty pathetic, watching her oh-so-slowly lift her head this morning when I stepped out the door and called her from her sleeping position under the caraganas. For a few tense moments we worried that she was not going to move ever again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Standing People

Usually by this time of year the R.M. or a local farmer has hayed the ditches (farmspeak for "cut down whatever's growing there and made it into bales for cattle). This year it's far too wet. There are cattails growing, for heaven's sake. But also, there are wildflowers I haven't seen close by here before.

Normally there are brown-eyed susans, prairie lilies, yarrow, bergamot, anemone, camas, harebells and so on and so forth. But this year I found wild licorice and wild mint out there too. The root of the licorice is supposed to relieve symptoms of menopause. The mint I won't bother with because I've got some in my garden, trying to choke out one of the lily patches. Mint is easily identified by its square stem. It's time to start making tea out of it, and put a dint in its vigour.

**The Standing People is a book by Kahlee Keane, a folk healer who lives in Saskatoon, and her partner Dave. The book identifies medicinal wild plants found in western Canada. I keep it tucked in my purse so it's with me when I see some strange "weed."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nell Shipman

Doing the Tibetan Rites in the living room.

Do you know who Nell Shipman was?

If not, read my article on a lady with quite the career in early film, at the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Here's the view from the other direction, from the kitchen. What am I going to put on that far wall? Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Walking

For the past week I've been going for a brisk 30-minute walk every day in an attempt to get and keep my cardiovascular system in shape. When I walk south I go as far as the creek, where the horses are often grazing, then turn around and come back this way.

Family heart-health history on Dad's mom's side isn't the best. My grandmother, whose spittin' image I apparently am, and all her siblings except the one remaining, died of sudden heart attacks. My grandmother died at age 47 (younger than I am now) and Dad himself needed an angioplasty 17 years ago, when I was pregnant with Everett. Dad's been up to snuff ever since, eating well, resting properly, and getting plenty of exercise (he's become a golf nut so does lots of walking), so he's set a good example and given me hope, and after all, not all my grandmother's siblings died young. Some lived into their eighties, which is a fair age. A heart attack is far from the worst way to go, but I'd like not to go any time soon.

Casper the Dog loves the walk, of course, and so do I. Most times it's been terribly windy when I went during the day; tonight it was calm and sunny, and we went north for a change of view. The visiting dog who accompanied us terrorized nesting birds in the ditches along the road, and in the flooded fields. She flushed out half a dozen American avocets, which were quite worked up about it all, so I turned back sooner than usual in order to draw her away from their nests. American avocets are beautiful birds and less commonly seen around here than a lot of others, so I'll head that way tomorrow, when it's just Casper and me again. She is too old to go tootling around chasing birds and stays near me, my devoted bodyguard. Between her and the dozens of dragonflies darting in all directions around me, keeping me from being chewed up by mosquitoes, I feel like a queen with her entourage.

I'm working one more hour tonight, after spending much of the afternoon in town — haircut, banking, recycling depot, accountant's office, post office, library, gas station, grocery store, drug store, bargain store — you bet I was beat by the time I got home and lugged all the bags into the house. Fortunately I'd stuck supper into the oven before leaving so all I had to do was sit down and devour it. Once in a blue moon I'm on the ball like that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Let's Go Saling

Is there anyone who doesn't love garage sales? You just never know what you're going to find there. It's the adventure of it all.

Wadena only has about 1500 people, so you can't spend your weekends hitting the yard sales around town. You're lucky if there's one to be found, actually, and have really hit the jackpot if you discover three on one block, as we did on Saturday.

This flowery wooden CD- and cassette- holder was my prize find last week. I paid $6 (gasp! high end for a garage sale) for it and although it doesn't come close to holding the hundreds of CDs we have, I still couldn't resist it. It's in the bedroom right now, where I don't even have a CD-player! Go figure. Eventually I'll get around to putting one in there.

Lying in front of it are rose petals, drying for a love amulet and love spell I intend to make/do for a friend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Poor Birdie

I was sitting here in the office when I heard a bird hit the living room window. Went out and found Casper standing looking at a female American goldfinch on the ground with her wings slightly spread. I picked her up, talked to her (she only blinked slowly as if struggling to keep her eyes open, and did not reply), and finally set her feet carefully on a short branch near the feeder in one of the oak trees. She just looked at me, dozily.

Keirsten the mother cat came over and I led her away. Then I came in and watched the tree through the binoculars.

The dazed finch sat in the crook between the branch and the tree for a very long time, eventually making her way further up the branch until her pale yellow and grey feathers could hardly be seen behind wavy green leaves. Maybe that is her mate at the feeder, wondering what the hell's wrong with his partner. After a half hour and probably longer, she finally flew off.

I had just been thinking that those suncatchers I spent 50 bucks on were working pretty well. And maybe they have improved things, but not well enough. Now what?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Simple Supper

A quick and easy little meal for me, a disappointingly (i.e. lacks meat and potatoes) tiny snack for Scott.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dear Deer

You can't go anywhere in the Saskatchewan countryside without seeing whitetail deer, and you have to be careful when driving, especially at night. Deer are hit by vehicles all the time, and killed. It's sad, really.

These two crossed the road ahead of me and Emil one afternoon and stayed put long enough to let me stop the van and get a photo. I guess they found us worthy of a second look before they bounded off across the field.

Last night we drove northward to Scott's aunt Leithe's to pick up a cage for our dog Casper -- something to put her in when it thunders, as she chews anything she can reach: door frames, mud flaps, shingles on the quonset's curved roof that reaches to the ground -- and yet needs to be where there is shelter from rain so you have to chain her near something she can get under. While on a long cord, she wore a path in the grass from pacing during the thunderstorms. She spent last night in this cage, poor girl; as soon as I awoke at 6:30 this morning, throwing off all my covers in a "pre" (according to the dr)-menopausal heat frenzy, I tucked my pyjama bottoms into a pair of socks and went out to release her. I had been dreaming that her collar had worn her fur away right down to the skin, and so on -- that she'd been suffering in that cage -- so was glad to see that she was fine, if rather excited to see me and in a huge hurry to bolt across the wet grass.

Still, I need to get to the vet's for a sedative for her and to pick up Chloe's collar and leash, which was left there when she met her maker. Darn dogs. I still feel bad about having her put down, as if there must have been something else I could have done.

I started out to say that we saw a mother moose and her young one on our drive cross-country last night. Moose were rare around here when I was growing up, and now they appear quite often, but I'm still awed when I spot them. Apparently there is a mother right around our place who has twins. Everybody sees them but me. The ones we saw last night were on the run from our vehicle and that of a friend who was out in his half-ton, looking for a place to set up to hunt beavers. With all the water this year and beavers making dams as they do, they are causing problems if left to let nature take its course.

I haven't seen again the one that was out in our back yard a couple weeks ago, but the inlaws' dog Sara, who comes to visit once in a while and likes to chase birds off their nests around the slough, ran into something out there that made her yelp, bound out of the water, and bolt back to the yard on the double. My guess is that it was the beaver. They've been known to kill dogs, actually; they must be tough.


I turned the computer off yesterday afternoon due to thunder, which means I have to work a couple extra hours today to make up for it. It rained last night and more rain is forecast I believe. Who knew I'd be able to blame the weather for keeping me from my job? I have a surge protector for the computer, of course, but ever since my sister Joan's two-year-old iMac, a twin to mine, was ruined by power surges in her Kelowna neighbourhood, I haven't been taking any chances. She ended up having to buy a new one, and that's a situation I don't want to find myself in. I can think of a lot of other places my $2000 could go.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Didn't End Up in Kansas

It's a relief to have your kids away from home when there is a serious storm watch covering half the province, including your own home. On Friday night, lightning crashed around the house for hours and we went from window to window, watching the sky. The photo above was taken from the back step.

It reminded us of a time the boys and I had visited Scott years ago when they were still quite small, and after supper he and I had grabbed the boys and headed for the basement of his house when the wind started to howl. That's when Emil was still easy to lift. It would have been difficult to get him downstairs in a hurry, now.

We were fortunate this time; a bit of hard rain, but no hail and no tornado in our immediate vicinity. A community an hour or two to the southwest of us was hit hard; also, the city of Yorkton was very badly flooded on Thursday night by heavy rains. Some people with small children had to be rescued from their homes by canoe. But I digress.

After the danger seemed to have passed, my testosterone-laden partner wanted to drive somewhere out in the open to watch the clouds. I elected to stay near the basement just in case, and away he went. He took the following photos from a grid-road intersection about a mile from here:

Saskatchewan has been hard hit by stormy weather and rain this spring; I guess it must be our turn.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saskatoon Jazz Festival

Bessborough Hotel in background

Along the riverbank of the South Saskatchewan River, the city of Saskatoon has built a beautiful new walkway downtown. After an amble over it, we stood in the park and listened to a band from the southern States. The jazz festival is on and these guys were just getting the place warmed up for the week.

*** Reta: I ran into Shannon there. She was on a break from working up north in a camp where they live in tents and have no indoor toilets. Three weeks in, three weeks out. A girl's gotta live, she says, though she is no fan of uranium mining.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flooded Highway

We were on our way to Saskatoon when we ran into this flooded part of the highway a few miles west of Humboldt. Portable traffic lights had been hauled out to both sides of the water so that vehicles would go through one lane at a time. The photo above is the view from the half-ton as we followed the fellow in front of us.

Shortly afterward the truck's engine light came on and the truck started acting funny, and it continued to do so for the next two days, but it did get us home. Our friendly local mechanic replaced an oxygen sensor (?) and all is well with the world again. This is a relief because someone whose vehicle acted just the same and whose owner subsequently drove it home from the city, as we did, ended up wrecking its catalytic converter. Which would have been a far more costly repair.

I have no idea if I'm using all these vehicle terms correctly; I'm trying to repeat what I've been told, but offer no guarantees that I'm getting any of it right.


So, it's Canada Day. A holiday for some. Not me; I'm working. But in between hours here at the computer, I'm getting a few things done. It's hot and humid outside so I can't stand to be out long anyway, and the mosquitoes are voracious, even in this heat. I've just drilled drainage holes in the dozen plastic plant pots I bought, and now I've got to mix peat with soil to ready the pots for the newest bedding plants. But the mosquitoes ... the heat ... waaaa! I either have to be covered up and dying of heat, or wear something skimpy and let my skin soak up the poison that is bug spray.

It'll be cooler tonight, but the bugs will be worse.

Not that I'm complaining. Oh no. We don't want more rain; and our house remains fairly cool due to the furnace fan blowing air up from the basement. So much so, that after sitting here for a while I have to pull on something with long sleeves or get goosebumps on my bare arms.