Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where our road joins the correction line

I long for her so often, feel the urge to pick up the phone and call. It only lasts a few moments, and I go on about my day. It's a natural missing of someone so dear that I haven’t seen in five years and don’t expect to see in the next five either. I hate that part so much, it almost makes me grit my teeth.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Emil Has Been Relocated

Emil's move was quick and easy, with Scott and Everett hauling Grandma's *Ultramatic bed and mattress from our porch here, and then transferring Emil's chiffonier (a word Mom always used for a "dresser" or  "chest of drawers") from the old room to the new. In short order we had his clothes, CDs, books, bedding, ghetto blaster, pictures and toothbrush loaded up and into the entryway of the new house, where Emil was greeted with vocal enthusiasm by the other residents, which we found quite cute. They grabbed bags and boxes and helped lug them down to the new bedroom and then visited with us while we helped Emil unpack and got his bed made up. He didn't want us to leave when the time came, but it was close to their 5 o'clock suppertime and I felt we should get out of the way.

It's unusual for Emil to try to delay our farewells, but lately he's done it more often, probably because we're seeing so little of him during the week, if we see him at all, and then on weekends he only comes out Saturday afternoon and goes back the next day. It's not enough for him and frankly not for me either. Once he gets out here he's in no hurry to return to the group home. Maybe I'll have to start picking him up on Fridays after work instead of waiting till Saturday: give him two nights at home, and make him do some dishes while he's here so it's not all just easy street.

This Friday, Mallard Industries has their annual Christmas banquet and dance. It is probably the highlight of the year for the clients and residents, and Emil loves it. He doesn't invite Scott and me to attend with him, although most people do take some family members or friends along. I guess he's like most men his age; why would you want to drag your parents along to a party?

*If you know anyone local who wants an Ultramatic bed, put them in touch with me. This one has hardly been used and Emil won't be using the electronic functions either. It would be good to sell it to someone who actually needs a bed like this.


My friend Julie has posted a new entry, The Glow of the Hour, on her page in the column on the left. She's nervous about putting herself "out there," and she really has put herself out there in this letter with some very personal revelations. You might leave her a comment if you recognize bits of your own life in her story.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moving Day

The other half of the back yard

On the radio this morning there is a panel discussion about euthanasia. Should we decriminalize it, or shouldn't we?
My mind is clear about the subject — I think it should be legal to choose euthanasia for oneself and to help someone who has chosen to die because they do not want to experience extreme physical pain any longer — it's a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned — but I'm listening anyway because often during discussions of any topic someone puts forth a perspective I have never considered before. Even though it's unlikely my opinion will change, there is always the possibility and I like to leave a space for that. At the very least I might better understand where those who don't agree with me are coming from, rather than assuming they are heartless fools without empathy for the suffering of others. You know, the kind who think it's necessary to shoot a horse with a broken leg or put down a dog suffering with cancer, but if you're a human with a terminal disease and you're in agony, too bad for you.

Does this mean that if I hang out with people yelling at the TV during today's Grey Cup game, I might begin to take an interest in football myself? I might see something fascinating about kicking and throwing a pigskin ball back and forth, that I've never noticed before?  Hm. No. Can't see it. I'd rather watch a curling game. Must be simply that it's one I have played and understand, whereas football, no.

Today we'll move Emil over to Aylesbury House. He spent last night here and we'll go to town after brunch and pack him up. Our fingers are crossed that this residence will be happily longterm.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Dog's Life

The back yard

When the dogs bark in the daytime, I hurry to the window and look out. There's always a good reason for the fuss they make, much as you want to strangle them when it's in the middle of the night. This morning I was treated to the sight of a white-tailed deer's back end bouncing away, along the front of the trees and then through them to the open field on the other side.

The trail you see in the snow, through the garden to the bush, is the dogs' main path. They have their territory, their routine sentry duty, as they guard the property and warn other animals not to enter. We worry about little Ducky the chihuahua though. He'd be a bite-sized morsel for a coyote or a fox, and although he's usually in the house, has taken to running all the way out to the road, alone, to do his "business" when he goes out. Should a hungry wild beast ever be encountered out there, Ducky wouldn't be coming back. That would be a heartbreaker.

He loves to run around out in the field though, like a "real" dog, so the only comfort would be that he had the freedom to enjoy a dog's life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spider Senses Tingling

Scott makes flashing in the 25-below

Jesus Christ! A spider just dropped from the ceiling onto my keyboard and when I squeaked, it went under the keys! And there it remains. I’m a little nervous as I type, but have jar and cardboard ready to catch and release.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hum de Dum de Dum

Everett shaping bread dough

Note: one of the tricks to making 100% whole wheat bread that is not brick-squat and heavy is using water at this stage instead of flour on your work surface and hands.

Everett is happy in the kitchen now that he's got his laptop hooked up to high speed and can listen to podcasts of his favourite CBC radio programs, like Quirks and Quarks (science), Wire Tap, and others.

Kate in NY: for interest's sake following our discussion of fuel oil prices, Sian in the Orkney Islands gets her oil delivered by boat.

Reply to comment: Lorna, you mentioned supporting small business through what sounds like microfinancing. Is it Kiva you're working with?

If so, I'm involved with that one too. I'm a very small lender, but here's the profile of the business I chose to lend my $25 to:

He pays his loan back a few dollars at a time and I often think hell, it would be so easy for me to just give it to him. But the "hand up, not handout" plan is a good one. I'll definitely be re-lending that $25 when my borrower has paid it back, and putting more cash toward this particular cause at some point. It's a simple and inexpensive way for us "little" people over here to help other "little" people who have so much less than we do.


Emil and gang made it back to Wadena at 10 last night, having left the city at 5. What is a two- to three-hour trip for most of us takes longer because pit-stops require more time when you're transporting people with physical challenges. Apparently Emil was anxious to phone home and tell me all about his adventure but it was late, so I went to bed slightly worried that they'd had trouble on the road due to ice and blowing snow. Not that there was anything I could have done, if they had.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Sister in the Congo

After five months I had given up hope of hearing from the young woman in the Congo whom I sponsor through Women for Women. Naomi is the same age as Emil, is married with three young children and has a niece living with her family. This week I got a letter. She tells me that my monthly contribution has helped her start a business selling salted, dried fish and is supporting adult education in the community. Her handwritten letter is accompanied by a translation. She says “God bless you and provide you more than what you have in your life.”


Emil is having a busy week. Bowling in Foam Lake on Monday night. A group trip to Regina yesterday for an overnight with shopping and a movie before coming home today. Tomorrow night a dance in Humboldt. I’ll pick him up and bring him out here on Saturday unless we move him into Aylesbury House that day, in which case he’ll probably want to stay there and get his sea legs before the work routine starts again on Monday. 

Reply to comment:
Kate in NY, I don’t know why oil is so expensive here. Taxes? The government probably taxes the shit out of it, as it does with the gas we put into our vehicles.


Damn. I was speaking to a work contact in Regina about an hour ago, who said it is blizzarding in the city. The highway down there (the Number 1) is extremely treacherous in bad weather. I hope those in charge had the good sense to stay off the road. Recently we've had at least two tragic accidents in Saskatchewan due to poor visibility and less-than-ideal road conditions; one was caused by a 17-year-old who tried to pass another vehicle when she likely couldn't see oncoming traffic; she was killed, as were the two parents in the front seat of the vehicle she collided with. Their four children who were along made it out alive.

Northern Lights Over Norway

Aurora Borealis timelapse HD - Tromsø 2010 from Tor Even Mathisen on Vimeo.

Yes, this is really what the northern lights look like -- magical, beautiful, breathtaking. And you don't need the music to appreciate them ... the silence of a cold night is background enough to inspire awe of the heavens. At home here, the sight is often enhanced by the crying of coyotes in the fields nearby.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fluff and Stuff

On my way home, rising moon

Emil wasn't happy about it, but I insisted on driving him back to town late yesterday afternoon so I could be home before dark, which is now about 5 p.m.


Emil is chatting to me at the kitchen table and Everett, hearing, laughs and says “That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard Emil say about anyone— that they’re not a very good singer.”


Is anyone here a devoted reader of Canadian literature? If so you may be interested in this article and perhaps enough to register, sign in and leave a comment. Click here to read The Age of the Giller at Historica-Dominion's History Wire blog.


The voting has started for the Canadian Weblog Awards. There are 43 in contention. Go to this site for links so you can read them and vote for your favourites.


Reply to Comment (I answered in the comments but when I read blogs I rarely get back to see whether someone has replied, so here it is again):

Sharon said...    Lovely. But what is poutane?
Poutine (pronounced poo-TIN) is a Quebec dish: french fries covered with gravy and melted mozzarella cheese. At least, that's how we eat it here in Saskatchewan.


Today for work I was doing some research on filmmaker Peter Mettler, whose YouTube channel contains the following short:

Bali Dance


A flock of evening grosbeaks arrived at the feeders today and was having a hard time getting the seeds because the perches are small. So I went out to sprinkle seed on the ground and they flew off and didn’t come back. So disappointing. (Bird brains.)

Photo of evening grosbeak pulled off this site on the web.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why the Laundromat, you ask.

 I felt sorry for people I saw hauling their bags of dirty clothes to a laundromat, assuming they couldn't afford a washer and dryer. Now I realize there are a myriad of reasons why laundromats are a profitable business.

Here are ours:

1. GGFarm uses a lagoon for its water and sewage disposal. Everything goes from the house to a deep hole in the ground some distance away. In 2007, this entire area of Saskatchewan began to experience widespread flooding that hasn't been seen around here for more than 50 years. This summer we got record-breaking rainfall. As a result the groundwater level is extremely high and our lagoon is constantly overflowing. Scott has to pump the thing out every other day. It's a real pain in the ass. We intend to fill the lagoon in and install a septic tank to solve this problem, but because of the water level this year it hasn't been possible to dig a hole; it would fill with water before you finished digging. Also, we have a foot of snow on top of ground that hasn't frozen like it normally would have by now, so imagine bringing the heavy machinery in; it would make a hell of a mess. Short story long, if we start using a washing machine here, the lagoon will need to be pumped more often than it already is. My poor Scottie is already pulling his hair out, particularly now that it has gotten cold and he has to chop a hole in the ice to put the pump in and remove it so that it doesn't freeze in— ice that isn't thick enough for him to stand on, yet, in a deep watery hole with steep sides.

2. the well water contains so much iron and sulphur that we need to change the old water lines and install a water treatment system in order to protect the washing machine from ruination. Scott's been researching treatment systems, trying to decide what's best and where to get the best value for the dollar. At the moment there is water coming into our basement as there has been since spring (due to the level of groundwater and the lack of rebar put into the concrete when the house was built) and though he plans to break the concrete out and install rebar and then change the plumbing lines, he prefers the water to stop coming in first. Something like that. I hope he doesn't end up bald.

Whatever amount of money you throw at this water project, it still can't feasibly be done with the groundwater level as it is. We are between the proverbial rock and hard place.

Another reason people frequent laundromats: to wash things they don't want to fuck up their own washer and dryer with. Oily workclothes, etc.
Once something like crusty black ink burned onto Emil's duvet. Recently my black cords came out with a glued-on plastic lint; I threw the pants right back into the hamper but the plastic remains after another wash.


Mom's bosom buddy Joanne wrote us a letter today; see Out Margo Way in the column on the left.
On Everett's page he put up a short video from Rooster Teeth Productions.

Kate from NY said:
$1,000 for oil...how much do you get at one time? We've only got a 275 gallon tank and it runs about $400 per fill.
Kate, we have a 250-gallon tank and when empty it costs about $1200 to fill. Ours was down to a quarter or less and we had it filled to the top, and expect to use about one-and-a-half tanks over the winter if temperatures are typical. The house is less than 1000 square feet, has new windows all around and Scott reinsulated the attic and walls; before he did that and we got the new furnace in, we used about three times as much oil I believe. And that's when we weren't living here yet and kept the thermostat set around 50F.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Uneventful Saturday

In the cafe

So Everett and I are on our way into town at 3:30 to do laundry, pick Emil up, and get groceries. He's driving and I'm telling him it won't hurt to go a little faster, since the road's not icy. He speeds up to 60kph, and I realize I'm hungry and will have to grab a bite to eat before we come home. It's no wonder; even though I slept till 10 it's no excuse for only having a toasted bagel (home-made) and a small glass of orange juice all day, besides my morning coffee. Tsk. "I'll be lucky if I don't get a migraine," I said. "It's probably already too late."

The routine is that I drop Everett off to get the laundry into the washing machines while I go get Emil from the group home. He will be moving into another one on Nov 30 and not to worry, Dad, he is not angling to move home in the meantime. I didn't have to pass on your grandfatherly advice to stay put till then. He's prepared to wait, so that's good.

He and I went to the Wadena Café and ordered french fries for Everett and poutine for ourselves, and I walked across the street to tell Everett to come over. After he'd eaten he went back to the laundromat to transfer wet clothing to the dryers and play with his mobile videogame thingy and I went to the hardware store for bird seed. Good sale on: 25-pound bags of sunflower seeds, regularly $20, for less than $9 each. I bought four and should probably have sprung for more. One of the young fellows working there carried them all out for me, with a smile on his face; the Co-op stores around here treat their customers right. By the way, today it's 25 below.

The highlight of the afternoon for Emil is going to the grocery store, where he might run into someone he knows and be able to chat for a while. One of his favourite people to meet there was his aide at school a few years ago and now he finds her at the checkout counter sometimes. Bingo! Even if he saw no one else familiar, Donna alone would make his day. This afternoon he saw at least two other acquaintances and introduced himself to a man I've met before. What's your name? I heard that one, but after saying hello myself and advising Emil not to delay the guy too long, I pushed my cart on down the aisle and missed the rest of the quiz. How old are you? and Where do you live? Thank goodness people are so patient and friendly, that's all I can say. And if they aren't, they pretend very well.

And so we're home here, having been warned by Scott just before leaving town to take it slow because on his way back to GGFarm he'd had deer come at his vehicle from four different directions. We didn't see any. Everett hauled in the groceries and the four heavy jugs of drinking water and I threw together a double batch of bean dish. Emil will spend the night; we'll watch a movie, and with luck Everett will make popcorn. Everything feels right in my world with both boys here. And that migraine never materialized; even better.

This is not quite a typical Saturday. Normally Everett bakes his wonder cookies. Today for some reason he didn't. Tomorrow, I bet ....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Changes in the Landscape, Loud Noises, and Body Heat

Another of the roving photographer's pictures

This is the last of the grain elevators still standing in my home town, Margo. When I was growing up, there were three; the village was a busy little place then. Now that the other two elevators have been moved away to private farms, when the train goes by it sounds really loud from Grandma's house (now Aunt Shirley's) two blocks away. I never realized how much those three huge buildings blocked the noise.


People phone here at 7 a.m. quite often due to the nature of Scott's work in construction, and I don't really want to kill them though it might seem that way for a few moments. I fall back asleep quickly; no problem. But I wish I could figure out how to lower the volume on the phone so that my body doesn't lift six inches off the bed from the shock of the damn thing ringing out in the silent house.


The Co-op fuel truck is here delivering oil for the furnace. That'll be a thousand-dollar touch, easily. The dogs are worked up and barking, both inside and out. I have decided to train myself gradually to keep the indoor temperature lower; to be more environmentally responsible. Normally the thermostat is set to 72F and still, unless I am moving, I'm cold: I sit here at my desk with a blanket on my lap and several layers of clothing on my back and arms. Why not aim for 68F if I'm going to be all covered up anyway? This week I've kept the daytime temperature at 70F. Next week it will be 69. The week after, 68. I can't imagine going lower, but who knows. Faye L-bo keeps hers at 61 or something; don't ask me how, but obviously it is possible to do this and be comfortable. Maybe I'll get there myself someday. Meanwhile, two pairs of wool socks on my feet instead of the usual one do make a huge difference. Faye keeps a pair of wool slippers in her porch, which I put on the moment I take off my shoes or boots at her place; she usually turns the heat up before I go over, but the slippers help a lot too.

A stylish gal asked me the other night, when she noticed my wool socks, "Are you a cold person?" I answered yes because it's simpler than explaining my theory that my body temperature is abnormally high and thus the air feels cooler against my skin than it does to people with a lower body temperature, which is why I have to dress warmer than most.

Also, if there's a draft anywhere, I will feel it and shiver. A fan turned on in a room will drive me from it, even on a summer day, unless the temperature is particularly high.


See how grain elevators work: click here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More from the Roving Photographer

Main Street of Kuroki

Apparently this old grader is on display in Kuroki

Biggest tree in Wadena

I see you guys like Kurt's photos. I'll be sure to show him all your comments.

It's snowing heavily today. Scott and I headed for Wynyard at 9:30 this morning but turned back a couple miles south of Wadena due to the poor visibility. Didn't think it was worth the risk, nor did we feel too badly about having to postpone our dental checkups.

Before coming home we fuelled up the half-ton, bought a couple jugs of drinking water and some groceries (could be snowed in for a few days, best be prepared), dropped off a library book, got the mail and stopped at the credit union. The 2011 calendars are out, presumably with Scott's photo of the dilapidated house in the middle of a field that realistically should not still be standing, that he had called "Spirit of Endurance" and that the credit union had sent him a $50 cheque for because they were going to include it. So we were surprised to discover that the photo they used isn't that one, but instead a shot of the old hayrake that sits near the entryway to his family's farmyard. They used the correct caption but the wrong photo. Oh well. Considering the number of submissions they must have received, we are doing well to have one from our camera included, and it's a pretty nice calendar.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tracks on the Tracks

I lent Scott's cousin Kurt the old digital camera and told him to take some pictures when he's out and around. He dropped in last night to bring my library books out; we pick up each other's when possible to save the other a trip to town. We haven't figured out what animal was ambling along the train track; it obviously had excellent balance, anyway. A fox? Coyote? If you click on the picture you'll get a larger view.

Here are a few more of his photos:

Catholic church in Kuroki

Monday, November 15, 2010

What -- No Photo?

I can hardly believe this myself. I had a two-year-old here today and forgot to get my camera out. We could have had photos of curly cuddly sweetness! Alas, old Auntie Kathy hasn't got much of a memory anymore. Tsk.
I had forgotten how "busy" two-year-olds are, too. I was telling her mother that I don't remember having to worry too much about my boys getting into things when they were toddlers. A hem. Well of course not ... our house was childproofed then, 16 years ago.
And Cindy, you know that rubber plant Gwyn was reefing on? It looks like she straightened it out! It looks good!
It's past 11; I've been on the phone with my friend Luanne for an hour-and-a-half, and am going to climb into bed and read a while.
You could always look on the left at Everett's page, "Stupid Crap," where he recommends some silliness he's discovered on the web.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Winter Here to Stay

Through the living room window

It's lovely out there: still, trees covered in hoarfrost, quiet.
Or was. Scott's brought the little tractor up and is moving snow away from the house.


I decided to get out of the house.
Pretty foggy looking north from the end of our driveway.

But it made for a magical walk.
There were half a dozen cattle around our yard this summer. Today they got moved across the road.

The ditches are seriously full of water. I could probably ice-skate on them for a mile. Most summers these ditches are all grass.
Looking back down the driveway.


Here's how things looked a year ago: click here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lazy Saturday Morning

Rick and Faye, lovebirds

A dozen of us met up at the Kelvington bar last night for steak and lobster, which the hotel cooks up once a year or so. Roads were shitty -- slippery and rutted with snow and slush -- and it was foggy,  but the company was excellent and so was the food. The photo above was taken last weekend when Faye and Rick (the L-bo's, as Scott calls them) stopped over for a short visit Sunday afternoon. Now the yard's got a foot of snow covering it.
Most of us went to the L'bo's for drinks after supper. Eyebrows were raised when I put on or took off my ski pants and winter jacket over a long-sleeved thermal shirt, a fleecy, a lined quilted vest, jeans and wool socks. It seems to take forever, which is the part I hate. But I was warm in cold vehicles and on my way to and from them, so I don't care how high the eyebrows go. I'm toasty and relaxed instead of shivering and tense, even if I do look like I'm ready to take off across a field on a ski-doo.
Alas the L'bo's are a bad influence and generous hosts, and I drank a couple sambuca and Irish creme shooters -- though only sipped them -- after two rye/ginger presses, tall, during the meal. I thought I'd be safe. But no; not feeling great this morning. Booze and me are going to have to part company completely, apparently.

Reply to Comments

From the Oxford Canadian Dictionary:

Feminism: the advocacy of equality of the sexes, esp. through the establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of women.

Humanism: 1. an outlook or system of thought concerned with human rather than divine or supernatural matters 2. A belief or outlook emphasizing common human needs, seeking solely rational ways of solving human problems, and being concerned with humanity as responsible and progressive intellectual beings.

Fortunately these two "isms" aren't mutually exclusive.
I'm lucky enough to be part of a generation of women who were handed equal rights on a silver platter, hard won by women who came before us, so that it's easy to think inequality is not really a problem anymore. That's here in Canada; in most of the world, women are still treated like chattel, legally and socially. It hasn't been that long in Canada, either, that women have enjoyed a legal right to custody of their children after a divorce, or the right to own property, or the right to vote, or even to own their own bodies to the degree that they can legally choose to get an abortion. 
And women are still providing most of the domestic services in their homes shared by men. For free, and often neither acknowledged or appreciated, but taken as a given. The oddities are women like me, who refuse to accept that it's their duty, and not their husbands', to make the suppers, do the dishes, and clean the bathrooms. I get those things done — and the grocery shopping, and so on — because they need to be done and if I don't take the initiative, they won't get done and my own life will suck, and I'm not willing to live in a hovel. But I never, ever think of these things as only my duty or that I've fallen short if I don't do them consistently or well. To hell with that.
These are my personal politics and they are sometimes a struggle to maintain in the face of sexist expectations that are so entrenched we don't even realize we're cowtowing to them.
In my household there has to be an exchange or sharing of domestic responsibilities that we both agree on, and when we don't, Kathy is not happy. And you've heard the saying "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." My feminist activism is not public; it takes place on my private turf. I think this must be what Maggie was talking about. It requires as much energy and focus, maintained, as any other kind of activism. When they say "The personal is the political," I know exactly what they mean.


I'll be looking up recipes on the internet for some of the ingredients from Saudi, like the dried lemons. Bev gave me some ideas but I'll still want recipes. Lately I have no inclination to cook; none whatsoever. So it could be a while. But I'm thinking curries. Mmmm.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Saudi Arabia in My Kitchen

A hometown gal (some of you will remember Bev Ziola) has been living in Saudi and is in Canada this month to visit with her family. She was out here the other day to pick up some belongings we'd stored for her, and she came bearing gifts. I scrambled to find small containers to sort them into until later, when I put them into small plastic bags.

Among other things, there's a cinnamon stick, fenugreek, cardamom, dates, dried lemons, black cumin and a variety of incense in its natural state, including frankincense and myrhh. One of the incense rocks is called Scare the Ghosts Away. The kitchen smelled divine.


My Remembrance Day observance yesterday consisted of watching We Will Remember Them, a documentary shown on CBC that profiled a number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as remembered by their families, friends and comrades in arms. It was very sad, of course; one mother echoed my own discovery about grief when she said that people expect sorrow to become less over time, but that in fact it does not. According to those interviewed for the film, their soldier sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and friends were committed to their jobs and believed strongly that what they were doing over there was worthwhile and that somebody has to step up to the plate to help the Afghani people, so why shouldn't it be Canada and the Canadian armed forces?


I was on the living room floor a few minutes ago, doing the Tibetan Rites, when Everett said there was an unusual woodpecker at the feeders. I assumed it was the downy or the hairy, which are regulars, and that he simply hadn't noticed them before. But I got up to look and was surprised to see a pileated woodpecker. The thing was huge and I've never seen one here in the 10 years since I moved back.

How cool is that. I'd be tickled if it stuck around.


In response to my wondering why this blog was nominated for the Feminist award, I received this email today:

Hello Kate,
Mea Culpe!  I nominated you for both the Feminist Award with the Canadian Weblog Awards, and the Life award.
I nominated you for the Feminist award because I feel true feminism is lived first, expressed as political strategy and dogma only as necessary.  Seems to me most "feminists" have it the wrong way round, and you have it the right way round.
Anyway, best of luck with the Awards.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remember, it's Remembrance Day


Tank is not a fitting name for this six-month-old Yorkie who is looking for a home. My sister Karen hopes his new owner will give him a new and nicer name. He is for sale for $550. Did you know that Yorkies are among the few canine breeds that do not shed? How nice is that.

The Tank who belongs to Gunnar (Scott's son, my stepson) is an English bulldog — now his name suits him to a T.


Do you know anyone who has multiple sclerosis? If so, you've heard of the liberation treatment they are experimenting with; it's similar to an angioplasty for the heart, only with this they're opening up arteries in the patient's neck. A local lady has had it done and has been blogging about it. I've put a link to her blog in the list on the lower right of this page; check out Karen's Liberation.

The province of Saskatchewan has been funding experimental trials but most patients still have to travel to Europe and spend upwards of $10,000 from their own pockets. As you can imagine, many people aren't in a financial situation that permits them to do that.  Karen's community held fundraisers to help get her where she needed to go.


Barb, if I've read correctly the voting for those awards doesn't start till the new year. But thank you anyway. The thought does count. Actually, these awards are juried, which likely means only the jurors vote. Damned if I know. I'm sure Ms Schmutzie will explain it all when the time is right. I have no idea how my blog got nominated for a "feminist" award, though naturally I am one -- what person with a brain isn't?
Oh, and Saskatchewan sticks with Central Standard Time all year round. We don't suffer through the change, except in trying to remember that everyone else is suddenly an hour earlier than they were before.


I'm taking the day off in honour of Remembrance Day. It sounds like the roads are passable, though my old Dodge van may have to plough through the deep snow to get to town. Scott has already brought a tractor out and cleared the yard, but it looks like I'll have to shovel out my wheels before I can go anywhere.

He managed to solve the problem mentioned yesterday in the tarot section, so the card was right after all: things were back to normal by the evening. My Hero.


Molly Johnson is one of my favourite singers:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ready for Winter

Brooder house now garden shed

It looks like we got the plant pots and the lawn furniture put away just in time, because last night the rain turned to snow and this morning the ground was covered. It's been blowing hard all day and looks like mid winter out there, with half a foot of snow if not more.

I guess it's time; winter has really arrived.


There is a good possibility that an opening is coming up in one of the other group homes in town very soon, and Emil will be able to move there. With luck that will solve the problem. Unfortunately it still leaves the other residents in his present lodging in an unpleasant situation. I hope someone is advocating for them, too.

He was pleased with the close trim of his beard yesterday and commented that he looked younger and handsomer. I had to agree, because his whiskers were getting pretty bushy.

Tomorrow is the Remembrance Day holiday and he gets the day off, and is determined that I go in and see him, maybe bring him out here. Who knows what state the roads will be in? I may well be going nowhere if this weather keeps up.


Judging by the snow, there's no point in hoping for an Indian Summer. I thought we'd already had it. But according to this article, it would only be later:

In the fall, it seems that almost any warm day is referred to by most people as "Indian summer."

And, while their error is certainly not of the world-shaking variety, they are, for the most part, in error. Here is criteria for an Indian summer:

As well as being warm, the atmosphere during Indian summer is hazy or smoky, there is no wind, the barometer is standing high, and the nights are clear and chilly.

A moving, cool, shallow polar air mass is converting into a deep, warm, stagnant anticyclone (high pressure) system, which has the effect of causing the haze and large swing in temperature between day and night.

The time of occurrence is important: The warm days must follow a spell of cold weather or a good hard frost.

The conditions described above must occur between St. Martin's Day (November 11) and November 20. For over 200 years, The Old Farmer's Almanac has adhered to the saying, "If All Saints' (November 1) brings out winter, St. Martin's brings out Indian summer."

Why is Indian summer called Indian summer? There are many theories. Some say it comes from the early Algonquian Native Americans, who believed that the condition was caused by a warm wind sent from the court of their southwestern god, Cautantowwit.

The most probable origin of the term, in our view, goes back to the very early settlers in New England. Each year they would welcome the arrival of a cold wintry weather in late October when they could leave their stockades unarmed. But then came a time when it would suddenly turn warm again, and the Native Americans would decide to have one more go at the settlers. "Indian summer," the settlers called it.

Source: The 1985 Old Farmer's Almanac, with my thanks to Lilye


We watched the movie Kick-Ass last night and in spite of the graphic violence, I liked it because the superhero in it was a little girl who seriously kicked ass. Damn, she was good. And I never mind seeing the bad guys get what they've got coming.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Christmas market

On Saturday morning I drove into town and picked Emil up at the group home, then dropped him off at the front door of the community hall and went to find a parking place. It was a gorgeous sunny day, a pleasure to walk back down the street to meet Emil on the sidewalk. The hall was packed; Emil was in his glory, strutting with his elbow crutches down the crowded rows between the tables, hoping to see someone he knew.

After an hour the hordes had thinned out, likely headed home for lunch, and I sat down with Aunt Marj at her table for a little visit between customers. That's where I was when I took the picture above. There was a lunch of turkey on a bun being sold in the kitchen but I used the carrot of a restaurant lunch to get Emil out of there after an hour and a half.

There was a wide variety of goods and I was very tempted by a silver fairy pendant that was a perfect match to my silver fairy earrings, but managed to check myself. After all, I rarely remember to wear the necklaces I already have, or most of my earrings for that matter. Instead I bought something I've been in the market for — a hammock. My one impulse buy was a pan of homemade brown sugar fudge.

Emil came home with me after we had chicken burgers at a café, then stayed for supper and overnight — once Everett agreed to let him have his bed and to sleep on the couch himself. This is the first time Emil's spent the night here since moving out at the beginning of September. It was good to have him here. Full nest, I guess.

On Sunday after supper I was driving him back to town to the group home and quizzing him about the conditions there. One of the other residents has developed a behavioral problem and Emil was asked to be patient while a solution was found. After two months things have not improved substantially, and I wanted to know how Emil was feeling about it all. He told me that although he loves his job, and he loves everything else about living at the group home, he would be willing to give them both up in order to move home. As if that wasn't shocking enough to me, could Scott and Everett and I move him home next weekend? Because he has had enough.

I said of course we'll move him home if he is sure he understands the practical consequences of moving out. He seems to. I asked him to say nothing to others about moving until I'd had a chance to talk to the lady who runs the place. I spoke to her by phone yesterday and will talk to her later today; she may present some sort of option. I hope so. It's not that I wouldn't like my son here again in some ways, but that we have all made the adjustment to him living away and it has to happen eventually no matter what, so moving home would seem like a step backward.

My fingers are crossed that things will work out to his advantage. This afternoon I'll pick him up after work and take him for a haircut and a beard and moustache trim, and maybe by then we'll know what we're going to do.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chippendale Everett

He may wish to kill me (quite justifiably) when he sees I've put this one up, but it's so darn cute.


Check out webpages written by Canadians by clicking on either of the two Canadian Weblog Awards nominee buttons over on the side. I may move them around over the coming weeks while fiddling around with the template as I'm prone to do, but they'll be on the page somewhere. If you follow the link you should find a list of recent entries by nominated bloggers. Go, Canucks! Which is the closest thing to a sports cheer that will ever come out of my mouth.


Yep, he's standing over my shoulder right now, thinking up ways to end my life. I'm reminding him how much he loved that little bowtie and wore it with every outfit for a while. When I was going through old photos the other day, I found several where he was wearing it. He is reminding me that if you squeezed the bow, it squeaked. Also, he is mortified by all the comments that he looks like me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

She'll Be 93 in a Month

Scott and I went to his sister Tanya’s for supper on Sunday and I got dropped off at Kelvindell Lodge on the way. Grandma was in the dining room; she looked closely at my face and asked “Where did you come from?” and we went together down to her room. She used a walker, and when we got there she lay down immediately on her bed and proceeded to say absolutely nothing except, in response to my attempts at conversation, “Oh?” or “I don’t know.”

I should probably feel bad saying it, but it was a relief, an hour later, to walk her back to the dining room, settle her into a chair in front of her supper, kiss her and leave. It's not easy to have a chat all by myself. Perhaps a better thing to do would be to stay where the other residents are hanging out, and talk with those who are more into it. Grandma is happy just to listen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Smelling, Tasting


Reply to comment
Barb, there's only one one gelatin-free brand of yogurt at the Co-op (one of the two grocery stores in Wadena, and it's the one where we shop because the other one doesn't accept debit or credit cards; cash or cheque only) and Everett says it tastes funny and won't eat it. Fussy brat.

Have I mentioned that he has zero sense of smell, but he can taste food that is inches away from his mouth? So much for the theory that it is our olfactory sense that is responsible for most of what we taste. (I can "taste" mucousy granules or viruses in the air or whatever it is that people with head and chest colds give off, so maybe he comes by this sensitivity honestly enough.)

As for the cookies he won't eat because of the animal product in their ingredients, well ... more for me, then. But next time I'll buy Crisco all-vegetable shortening. Normally I would have anyway. What was I thinking?

I have the filthiest keyboard in the world. It really is disgusting. Good thing I can't smell or taste it.


Here's the recipe, as requested:

1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c shortening
6 tbsp syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3 or 4 c flour
2 tsp baking soda mixed in with 3 c of the flour

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and syrup, then remaining ingreds. Chill the dough at least an hour before rolling out and cutting with a cookie cutter. Bake in hot oven (375F or so) for about 8 minutes. Cool and fill with jam or date filling.

This is the recipe Mom put into the Lutheran Ladies cookbook back in 1983.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is It Too Soon?

Elves for sale
Someone's been busy preparing for Christmas craft sales. These are my friend Shelly's army of elves, which make dandy seasonal decorations and gifts. The baskets can hold candies, oranges, nuts, or any number of treats, and the elves without baskets have sweet little arms that will hold a gift bottle of wine or Irish Cream or whatever the recipient might fancy. I'm the proud owner of an elf that she gave me many years ago, and it's still one of the pieces I set out every December with fond affection.

This weekend the local farmers' market is holding its annual Christmas sale. Will there still be some white stuff on the ground by then? It's melting fast.

Today I'm getting out for a walk in the sunshine, no matter what. I've been so focused on working that I've hardly poked my nose out the door for days. Shame on foolish me. When do you full-time office workers manage to get outside for exercise? I can't remember how I did it and got anything else done. Maybe I didn't.

Everett is making jam-jams today. This, after he found a recipe on the internet for sourdough pizza crust, made it, and was roundly disappointed in the result. The sourdough starter had to be used, as it must once a week, and Everett wasn't up for his usual bagel-making. I did warn him that the recipe called for a lot of starter and very little flour in comparison, but I'm his mom ... what do I know? He ignored my reservations and went ahead. The verdict: "I won't be using that recipe again." Which didn't stop him from eating half the cheese pizza anyway.

He just informed me that the shortening he's using is not animal-product-free, but is pure lard, which means that he won't eat the cookies because he's a vegetarian. He also won't eat anything that contains gelatin, so now eschews marshmallows, yogurt, and a variety of his former favourites. The kid's got willpower.

It's not always easy to come up with enough work to keep him busy four hours a day, five days a week. But I wouldn't be doing him any favours by letting him sit about; maybe I'll have to increase the hours to eight, before he'll want to move out. And get Scott to add chores to the list. It's all good for me so far. The fridge interior is spic and span. The living room furniture has been cleaned meticulously, using packing tape to pick up the fuzz and such. I haven't done the dishes in two months; not more than once, anyway. The barn cats have a lovely new bale house in the tractor shed to keep them warm on the cold winter days to come. Jenna the eight-year-old border collie also has one, since her senior, Casper, won't let her in the insulated doghouse I bought for them last fall. Everett raked all the fallen leaves from the grass. He washed the windows. He sweeps the floor. All without a word of complaint, because there is a time limit, after which he is no longer at my beck and call. He's happy as long as he knows where the boundaries are.

Little Ducky the chihuahua and the terrier from the next farmyard have been busy trying to mount Jenna, a dog we thought was a spayed female when we adopted her. Now we discover that although she has never had pups, she has also never been spayed. Let us hope that these two eager fellows meet with no success; they're both so much smaller than her it's a bit of a circus act as they try to get their groove on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Classic Croonin'

Now Playing at my house: Bryan Ferry, As Time Goes By

Have you ever wondered if the birds enjoy our singing as much as we enjoy theirs?