Monday, January 31, 2011

Finishing That Damn Quilt

Each night I have been putting the wooden hoop around three squares of my quilt, and stitching through the batting and the backing. Last night I felt like continuing on to do more squares, but made myself put the quilt away. Always leave myself wanting more, as the saying sort of goes.
It was one day last week that I looked at the quilt, folded up next to the easy chair in the living room, and thought I’d just take it to Aunt Shirley and ask her to finish it. She whizzes through quilts and has a frame set up in her living room. I wanted to complete it myself, as it is the one Mom helped me with, but it has sat untouched for more than five years already. I was ready to give it up and get it done. I could imagine Mom, ever practical, agreeing with me.
Then that night I finally got at it. I’ve been cursing a lot as I prick my index finger and struggle to get the needle threaded, even with the handydandy little needle-threader Joan gave me a few years ago. But already I can see my stitchery improving enough so that I can enjoy myself while doing it, and relax.
And want more.

*** For new readers: when Mom was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer in the spring of 2004, my sister Karen and I packed up our school-age kids and moved to Kelowna to be with her. After all, we might have as few as three more months with her, or up to a year if we were lucky, according to the doctors. More than anything Mom wanted her chicks back in the nest, and we wanted to be there to look after her and help Dad.
Once we found places to live and got our kids settled in their schools, Mom said to all three of us (Joan already lived in Kelowna), "One of you girls is going to be a quilter if it's the last thing I ever do." So she helped each of us cut out the fabric for a quilt of our choice, and helped us work on them. Mine is the one in the picture. It has appliquéd squares, which was the part I liked doing best; my preference is embroidery stitching so it was right up my alley. I don't like sewing machines much, but Mom supervised. She ripped out my bad seams, laughed with me at my frustrations with the whole sewing thing, and encouraged me to work at the sewing machine in her bedroom while she lay abed. "It relaxes me," she said. She also worked on the appliqués with me, and Joan and Karen picked up a little square once in a while too, to add a few stitches, and I think Aunt Reta also may have when she was there with us. Lots of beloved hands have touched this quilt.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Gift

If the pants fit...wear 'em.

 Phone conversation:
My sister Joan: Did your birthday present fit?
Me: I don't know, I haven't tried them on yet.
Joan: You'll love them! They're super comfy. Do you like brown? I thought of grey, but that seemed kinda dull.
Me: Brown's perfect.
Joan: They're LuluLemon. I knew you'd never buy them for yourself. You'd look at the price tag and say "That's ridiculous!"

Anyway, they fit and there's the picture to prove it. And she is right, they are super comfy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scrappy Coco's Beauty Parlour

Emil's never been able to shave properly, and has found it a tedious task. He wouldn't mind having a beard, he insisted, and finally I stopped pushing him to shave. Go ahead, said I; it's your face.
And so he did. But when the beard gets all puffy, it's not pretty. Every time I'd take him for a hair cut, we'd ask the lady to trim the beard.
Then I found a beard trimmer in a store and voila, we can trim up his beard and whizz his hair off ourselves, since he likes it very short (a Grandpa Benson haircut, he calls it).
Here, Scott gives it a go. It looks like he could use a shave, himself. He'd been sick for a few days when this was taken, so we'll let that be his excuse. He's feeling better now, by the way.


"We should call him Scrappy Coco," Everett said, likening Scott to some film character.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Little Old Lady from Past Wadena

  Doncha love teenage sons?
Yeah. This is the cake mine made and decorated with loving care.
The icing is representative of wrinkles and, he tells us gleefully, the chocolate chips are symbolic of warts and moles. All they are missing is the whiskers poking out from their centres!

My breakfast was made and served to me yesterday. I received parcels in the mail, emails, gifts, cards, phone calls and all your fine comments. Thank you kindly. It was a pretty nice day.

My sister Karen brought Vickie with her and we spent the afternoon eating cake (Karen made black forest so we had a piece of that, and a piece of Everett's, plus he made chocolate fudge so we had to sample that too), sipping coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream, reading tarot cards (Vickie), scanning old family photos (Karen) and showing Vickie how to navigate around her new blog which, as soon as she tells me she's started posting entries, I'll pass on to you. Vickie works in a fly-in fishing camp in northern Saskatchewan over the summer, and is about to embark on a trip to Britain and South Africa and god knows where. I can hardly keep track of her, so I hope she takes to blogging with a vengeance.

Vickie and Karen arrive

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Once a Year

Thank you, Joanne, for the birthday song this morning and for the anecdote about your dad and me. I only have a vague memory of him, but I can happily say that I have been lovingly held in the arms of some very good men and so your dad must have been one of the first, and given me a taste for it!

I have no complaints about turning 52, except maybe that Mom's prediction about the likelihood of developing the floppy Scandinavian eye flaps seems to be coming true. Gak. It's a good thing I have long eyelashes holding my eyelids up, so I can still see. 

With my luck, I'll end up one of those people who has to have plastic surgery out of necessity ... after insisting that I'd never do it out of vanity.

from my baby book

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tales from the Lagoon

the lagoon

You've been regaled with horror stories about the overflowing lagoon ever since we moved into Golden Grain Farm.
Even now, in freezing weather, it flows over the high-level mark and has to be pumped out every other day. This is because the groundwater level is so high that it fills in under the ice. Something like that.
I don't have to deal with it on a daily basis, but I have the pleasure of sharing someone else's disgust and frustration with the situation.
Fortunately he is accustomed to going out in rain, snow, hail or sleet even if he's got pneumonia and a fever and it's 30-below. Why? Because he raises cattle and has no choice. You can't let your cattle go hungry or thirsty for a day, so out you go, even if it kills you.
You may make it back to the house barely alive, and you may end up in the hospital, but you do what you have to do until then. At that point, I guess you call in the neighbours.


I'm going to worry about our friends who are in Mexico, until they get back on Friday.
Have you seen this site? It was created by a woman whose son drowned while staying at a Mexican resort.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

She Was a Soldier of Sorts

The summer of 1976 (at least, that's what's scribbled on the back of this photo) was when I wanted to make some money, and signed up for basic military training with the reserve forces out at Dundurn, Saskatchewan, for the two months between Grade 10 and Grade 11.
That whole summer was a shock to my system. I wasn't athletic, nor an early riser, and would have been hard-pressed to take orders from anyone.
Imagine me, then, called to awaken at 5 a. m., go straight out of the barracks to do jumping jacks, and then jog down the road for a mile before coming back to shower with the ladies, make the bed on my bunk so a coin bounced off the rough wool blanket, and head out for breakfast.
Then there'd be a day of classes in all sorts of things, like weaponry and marching and military law. And lots of "doubling" around the base carrying a rifle across my chest, at the front of a platoon that was all boys, except for me and Cindy.
That's Cindy giving me a smooch, up there. The other gals were privates, like ourselves, with whom we shared the women's barracks. I think there was only the one.
It's amazing we got out of bed at all, come to think of it, because every night we were in the mess hall, drinking and dancing till the wee hours.

Anyhow, Cindy phoned me last night. We haven't seen each other more than once in the past many years, but we had a lovely talk.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Twenty-One Years Ago

Emil, age one

This has been posted before but what the hell, since Joanne mentioned him in her letter today, I'll show him off again. He really was a little cutie.

Yesterday when I dropped him off at the group home he tried, as always, to keep me as long as possible by bringing up new topics of conversation. He surprised me by saying "I think I'd like to move back to your place, Mom."

My guess is that one night per week back at the homestead is not quite enough, and he needs to start coming out Fridays after work. We'll try that.

Might as well post the picture of the entire family at Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary, 21 years ago. If you click on it you'll get a better look. The face in the top left corner is my Yankee Doodle cousin Nathan, who couldn't make it to the do. My two sisters Joan and Karen are in the front, far left. I'm standing next to Mom and Dad on the far right. Grandma is in the front, right of centre, with a light blue dress, sitting next to her sister (Aunt Jean) in the red dress, and Grandpa is standing behind Grandma.

For those who don't know, Grandpa's name was Emil. This is an old name and not fashionable as a baby name anymore, but I find the names that are "in vogue" get overused. Many of my friends have the same first name as me. Everyone and their dog was named Kathy back in 1959 for some reason. Not saying there's anything wrong with Kathy for a name, but it's bland as a biscuit because it's ubiquitous. Anyhoo, now that Grandpa's been gone for so many years, I'm especially glad that I named Emil after him, because it is a reminder I'm glad to have. It brings back fond and warm memories of someone who was always very good to me.

I also think of Grandpa when I do a little jiggy happy-dance and blurt out a softspoken "Hoo-hooooooooo!" like he used to do in the kitchen sometimes, or when I ask someone if they "Need some cash?" or when I pour buttermilk onto my granola cereal or when I water my hollyhocks with a hose and sprayer in the summertime or anytime I eat little-finger-sized baby carrots from the garden.

I don't miss my long hair. Not one bit.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back at Ya

Ducky makes a nest for himself

Response to comments:
Barbara, good to see you, thanks for the kind words – the best kind! Heh.
You can subscribe  in 2 ways: under Get Notified (in the column on the right) you can sign up and  new entries will be sent directly to your Google Reader. You have to sign up for a Google Reader first though. A lot of people use this to keep up with websites of their choice; it doesn’t work for me because I never remember to go to the Google Reader to see what has come in. If the notices would come into my everyday mail inbox it would be a lot handier.
[Can Google Reader be set up to do this? Does anybody know? Do tell.]

If you enter your email address under Or like this on the right, you’ll be signing up for my notify list. I send everyone on this list a short email with the link, every time I post a new entry. Or – er – I mean, I TRY to send a notification every time. Sometimes I forget, or maybe I’m really faithful and then the free NotifyList service screws up and doesn’t send the notices for days or even weeks or maybe even ever.  I’ve been pretty faithful about posting entries lately though, so you can safely visit me EVERY DAY!! Yee ha!
These are the only two ways I know of “subscribing.”

My mom made the quilted pictures. They are place mats!
There is something about the outdoors that rests a soul; when I imagine having a terminal illness, for example, I also imagine having a bed outdoors, where it seems to me I’d want to be. Cold, rain and insects are not considered in this fantasy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Colour and Light

Getting the green light

Everett and I trudged through the deep snow to the old house to pick up my colour lamp. Scott was feeling so terrible that in spite of the antibiotics I figured it was time to bring out the secret weapon: green light. Yeah, you heard me. Call it voodoo if you will, but over the years I have experienced the green light's beneficial effects from time to time and I figure even if the results aren't drastic, so what?
Lying under the green light does seem to make things happen that you might think would happen anyway, kind of like the way things seem to happen "naturally" after you've taken herbs for a condition. If you feel nauseated, the green light sometimes hurries things along and you end up running to the bathroom before it's shone on you for a half hour. In Scott's case, it got him moving a lot of gunk out of his chest.
Or maybe the antibiotics were kicking in. They could be. They should be.
In which case, the green light is only some extra "insurance." Or let's call it a mood enhancer.
Now that I've got it here and set up in the bedroom, I'm going to do some regular light therapy to prevent my migraines. I've always only pulled the lamp out when situations got severe and difficult to treat.
The way it works is by interacting with your energy field. There is a variety of colour plates that can be used. Different light affects our energy, our aura; it's simple. Look at what is being done with lasers nowadays and you'll get some idea what I'm talking about. The laser is made of light. A few years ago a university in Texas was having positive results treating cancer tumours with light.
The science is fascinating, but I don't spend time researching. I just use the lamp and find that it makes a difference. Lying under a coloured light can be strangely comforting, too, and methinks a lot of healing comes about through feeling warm and relaxed.


It sounds like the rescue ranch is going to take 4 of the farm's 7 horses that need new homes, so that is half the problem solved. Now we just have to hire someone to haul the great beasts, as apparently the  cattle-hauling system isn't in tip-top shape for winter roads.


Everett hates it when I tease him by saying matter-of-factly, after I’ve had to explain some simple thing or remind him of something, “See? This is why you still need your mother.”


Here's a link to a site that explains colour therapy a little: click here.

Oh, and speaking of horses, here is one of my favourite urls: click here, then turn your speakers up and click on the horses.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Report

V of Swords again today. OK, OK, I get it!
Having some buttered toast before brushing my teeth and going out to join Everett, who is starting the van, cleaning off the snow and feeding the dogs and cats. His last driving lesson starts at 9 so we’re headed to town. He’s to do the city-driving portion of the course, which means he and his instructor will go to Humboldt. I’ll likely come home and go in again to get him.
But before coming home I’ll stop at the Co-op for dish soap and drinking water, and at the library to pick up books that are in for me. I’m getting quite a stack beside the bed and haven’t yet cracked one that’s keeping me riveted.
Scott’s requesting probiotic yogurt; he finally went to the doctor yesterday and got a prescription for sinus infection. Broad spectrum, he tells me, only six pills. Gotta have special yogurt to deal with the side effects. He sounds terrible, can hardly talk sometimes, his chest is heavy, he’s dragging himself around, coughing and choking and hacking.

So we met the driving instructor in front of the high school. I thought they’d be going to Humboldt for Everett’s last hour, which requires “city” driving. Don’t ask me how Humboldt streets and traffic can be considered city driving, but that’s the story I was told. Before I left he told me he would be done at 10 to 10, which means they were only going to drive around town. I had time to go to the library, post office and bank, pick up a cup of black coffee from the newest eating hole opened up on Main Street, and sit in front of the school waiting and reading the Wadena News for the few minutes before they appeared.
The instructor said the roads in Humboldt are terribly icy right now so she will wait another week or so before they go there; and that Everett’s driving has improved … “It’s amazing how much! But he still needs a lot more practice,” she told me before I hopped into the passenger’s seat and Everett and I headed to the Co-op for the weekly grocery shop. Tomorrow when I pick Emil up he will be disappointed that we don’t need to go there.

On the way to town I'd picked up a text from Joanne. (Oh yeah, now I'm an old hand at this texting business. Not.) She’s had her surgery and is feeling fine. I managed to text her back: “When do U need me to come?” Maybe I’ll be heading out as early as tomorrow. Emil says he’ll just stay in town at the group home this weekend if I won’t be here. Why? I asked him. Everett and Scott will still be home. Am I that special? Yes, he said.
He's my favourite.

Today I read this important info about the safety of your clothes dryer and its longevity. I checked it with, and it's true. Click here to read it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Lucky He Is

Books on desk

Over the past two weeks I've pulled my boxes of books out of the closets while on a cleaning and organizing mission to put them out where I can get at them. In these two photos, except for my collection of old journals (what the hell am I ever going to do with those? a big bonfire one day) that are in another piece of furniture in the bedroom, these are all the books I own.
Scott insists I have way too many books, but he doesn't know his a__ from a hole in the— I mean, he apparently doesn't know anyone who really has a lot of books. This is nothing, considering the top shelf is all cookbooks, the second shelf is half-filled with empty notebooks, and the third, fourth and bottom shelves hold telephone directories, important papers and photo albums. 
And, I rarely buy books. And I only keep books I will read again or dip into from time to time. I'm a serious library patron.
I say, Scott doesn't know how lucky he is.
He complains about my shoes too, because I have more than one or two pairs, unlike himself. Compared to most women, I don't own many shoes. He needs to go look into some other closets!
Yes indeedy, he is a lucky man to live with a woman who has hardly any books or shoes. He just doesn't know it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ghost of Faffner Hall

Got a letter from Joanne today ... click here.
The link to Joanne's page, where she posts most days, is in the Lookee Here column on the left.

Most afternoons I ask Everett, "Wanna come for a walk with me?" Today I almost fell off my chair when he said "Yeah, I guess so." I squealed. I can't remember when's the last time he said yes.
So off we went. He had the camera this time. It was the kind of day when the skin on your hand would freeze pretty quick, but only 20C-below so we've had worse. It wasn't bad till we were out beyond the shelter of trees and the wind got to us. We didn't go too far before turning to head for home.

Casper and Jenna love the Hand-Me-Down Mink

The step always needs sweeping

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Roving Photographer Strikes Again

Scott's cousin Lasse in Sweden, Lasse's sweetheart Marit and his daughter Erin, all keep online journals. The links are listed under "Famdamily" on the left of this page. Lasse practises his excellent English and I use the Translator link to figure out what Marit and Elin are writing. But some days the service falls far short of dependable and I am left laughing, guessing, or both.

For instance, translated from Swedish to English, from Marit’s blog:

Skinskteken we ate together with mashed potato tops and so creamy sauce of course. Since I cook in the frying bag I keep all the good and the sky is really good as a basis for sauce. As an option, we ate sweet pepper salad, pickled cucumber and jelly.
Now it's just for new efforts and find themselves in oxveckorna, as we move into!

What the heck is skinskteken? I'm not sure what a frying bag is — does she mean she keeps the frying pan lid on so the moisture and/or liquid doesn't escape? What does it mean that the sky is a good basis for sauce? And what does oxveckorna mean?

So, while Translator explains some things, it raises other questions.

Response to Comment

Lasse sent a link with his comment below:

(Lasse speaks to the reporter at the beginning.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Margo, Sask

Repairs to the hall in my home town, photo courtesy of K. Ekstrom, roving photographer

The house is quiet and serene today, as Scott is out and around doing his usual things, and Everett is experiencing his first real (as in, paid) day on the job with our friendly neighbourhood accountant. He's not sure how many hours he'll be getting but it sounds like he's to be put on the employee schedule.

Tomorrow morning he goes for his last hour with the driver's training instructor. After that we can make an appointment for the driver's test. Scott says they seem to flunk most everyone the first time they test, nowadays, unlike when we were 16 and rushing to get our licences the day of our birthday. I didn't parallel park properly (usually I could, but not the day of the test; so nervous I was soaking wet) but the tester told me to keep practising and passed me.

My hometown pub sustained severe hail damage several years ago

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Yer Basic Sunday

Laundry Boy

There will be no regret involved in seeing the end of the laundromat days. We've come up with a simple solution that is not perfect but will avoid the problems that come with laundromats ... like dryers stealing your quarters and not delivering their services, and washers that don't drain, and all this when no one is around to refund your money and even if they are, you are still stuck there an extra hour after waiting for a machine to be free so you can wash or dry that last load after a malfunction. It sounds like I'm complaining, when I'm not even the one who has been doing the laundry. I swear, Everett is a prince. He sees that time in the laundromat as a perfect opportunity to read for a couple hours with minimal interruptions, so it's all fine with him.

But what, he wonders, does his mother do while he is there?

Why, she picks Emil up and has a quick visit with all the residents of the group home where he lives, and the supervisor's adorable dog, Pete the miniature bulldog sort, who gets quite excited when anyone comes or goes. I keep inviting him to come home with me, but his owner just laughs.
Then I drop off the recycling. We have an incredible amount of recycling! Has really made me aware of how much stuff we were sending to the landfill before. Horrible. Recycling is a pain in the ass, but totally necessary. If you don't recycle, shame on your lazy shortsighted ass. Nobody is lazier or more shortsighted than me, and if I can do it, you have no excuse not to.
Yesterday there were no other errands so Emil and I went for some poutine, ordered fries for Everett who came across the street to the café for a half-hour, and were joined by Dave, Wadena's coffee inspector. It is a dirty job, he says, but someone has to do it.
Afterward Emil and I went for groceries. Well, his mother went for groceries. He just struts up and down the aisles looking for people to waylay and converse with. Or to. Maybe it's more "to."

A fine long email came into my inbox this morning from Ms Bell, who is travelling in Rome right now. The little gallavanter. I have requested permission to post her letter here, so if we're lucky we can gallavant vicariously. I've suggested she try her hand at travel writing after she retires from her current profession.

Be sure to check out today's entry from Italy. The link to the webpage is always there, on the left under the heading Around the Planet. Here's what Louise has written today: click here. Maybe you'll want to find a new source for your chickens and eggs.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letter Poem from Julie


I could think of my life as two lists
(which in itself is sick)
called "Stuff I have to Do"
and "Stuff I love to do"
and all activities are entered
into one of these lists.

You might find the dentist appointment
on the first list
and "go dancing" on the second,
for example. . .
This is all subjective as some people
may actually prefer a root canal to dancing
but you don't want to know these people.

Something I have noticed
like a slap to the head
is that lately even the things I love to do
are drifting over to the Worklist--
that is so messed up!
Enjoying a winter walk has become
"getting some healthy exercise,"
laying around with Hubby is now the dreaded
"increasing marital intimacy,"
and drawing is called "fulfilling my creative potential."

My anxiety about having fun
has become so stressful
that fun is no longer fun
and thus the Funlist is just another
neurotic guilt trip

Today is my day off
and, true to form, lately,
I sorted papers and bundled up garbage
while making the coffee,
tidied up the living room
while cooking eggs,
noticing that three more hours
of housework would be a mere beginning,
made some quick phone calls
while making toast,
turned off the screaming smoke alarm,
then sat down to my black breakfast,
wondering if I'm losing my mind.

Sit down, girl, breathe,
I tell myself,
think about what's really important.
Some women keep a tidy house
but they don't phone their lonely friends--
I take pride in the fact
that I am not one of those,
as I sweep a pile of junkmail off the table
so I can write a card to Mary.

By Julie Paquette

[other writings by Julie can be seen in her pages on the left, under Lookee Here]

Celebrities as Children

 I particularly get a kick out of DiCaprio as a kidlet; looks like an imp.

Please note that my mom's best friend Joanne has posted an entry today (see under column Lookee Here, on the left). And I am trying to armwrestle Julie into giving permission to post a poem-letter she just wrote me in response to yesterday's entry. Her poems are so full of spicy clarity.

Yesterday was spent sleeping, and last night seemed sleepless because of a surface discomfort. Damn neck migraines. Got up early this morning and took a pill, which should've been done last night before going to bed; it's so hard to know when to take them and when not to, without waiting so long that it's too late. I took one this morning, and it worked. Yippee! but makes me tired and slowmoving for the rest of the day.

I have yet to get out of Mom's housecoat. Everett's favourite radio shows are on so he is making cookies, loading up the recycling, and taking down the Christmas tree while he listens. I'm going to catch up on yesterday's editing work, missed thanks to my finicky neck. Saturday is the day we haul the laundry to town and Everett sits happily in the laundromat for two hours while I pick Emil up, get groceries and run errands; we'll head out in a couple hours. 

Exciting life, huh? How do you spend your days?

Friday, January 14, 2011


Scott's appointment followed mine.

It had been three years since we'd been to a dentist for a checkup and cleaning. Three years! Where does the time go? I didn't get out of there before paying $250 for my visit and booking an appointment to have my only two wisdom teeth out next month. There is nothing to look forward to in that prospect, is there? Two needles for freezing, an hour in the chair repeating a silent mantra to remain calm and relaxed while my mouth's stretched open and hands and tools dig around inside it, swelling and painkillers to follow, and finally two raw gashes where the teeth used to be. Oh, and the bill. Let's not forget the bill.
I left feeling sick to my stomach at the whole idea of that next appointment.
Every time I go to a dentist I refuse the x-rays they insist on, and every time they lecture me about how they can't do their job properly without seeing what's unseen in my mouth, and how the x-rays are the equivalent of 20 minutes in the sun and don't do you any harm, and half the time I end up letting them do it and hating myself for that because I don't believe a word of the "it's harmless" spiel but I have been learning over the years that if I'm going to pay professionals to do a job, I should also take their advice. So in spite of my misgivings I eventually agree reluctantly to the x-rays.
A dentist advised me 20 years ago to have the wisdom teeth removed, as they were crowding my other top teeth. I ignored him because they weren't causing obvious problems and why mess with something that seemed natural? In the years since, the overcrowding has pushed one of my front teeth out of alignment, which likely wouldn't have happened if I'd listened to the dentist and let him yank those wisdom teeth out.
So. I don't wanna listen, but I'm going to.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gunless and Still Gorgeous

Click around bottom of image to play video interview with Paul Gross.

Paul Gross stars in the Canadian-made movie Gunless, which came on at 10:30 last night so I called Everett and stayed up to watch it. I’ve only read one review and it was scathing, but I never believe a word reviewers say; I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much.
And I liked the film. Beautiful landscape of southern Alberta, no gratuitous violence, a happy ending, and Paul Gross still makes me drool, even playing a gun-happy American killer with skanky long hair. He manages to look good wearing the clothing of a Chinese launderer, which on most men would just seem silly. He takes the girl in his arms and I sigh loudly “She gets to kiss Paul Gross!” They wake up in bed together and I sigh loudly  “She gets to sleep with Paul Gross!” Everett rolls his eyes. I bat my eyelashes at Scott and say sweetly, “He’s almost as goodlooking as YOU.”
Gunless isn’t your typical Hollywood crap. Give me a Made in Canada production any day, whether it stars eye candy like Paul Gross or not. Canadians tell good stories and they tell them well, and the Canadian public’s support of Canadian productions is long overdue. I like the quirkiness of Canadian stuff; you sort of never know what’s going to come up when you’re watching a Canadian-made show.
Mind you, I wanted to like the new so-called comedy Men With Brooms, and I just can’t. I’d also like to like the Newfoundland-made series Republic of Doyle, and can’t. And as much as I'll watch pretty much anything actor Michael Riley is in, and as popular as Being Erica is, it's not for me. There's plenty I don't think much of. I’m not saying Canadians never put out infantile garbage; just that they do make a lot of excellent stuff too. Slings and Arrows, also starring Paul Gross, is one example. Less Than Kind, filmed in Winnipeg, is another.
Then, the stuff I like best often gets cancelled. For example, I loved Deb McGrath and Colin Mochrie’s Getting Along Famously, yet it didn’t last long. The harder I laugh, the shorter the run seems to be. Just my rotten luck.
And the stuff I don't get at all is the stuff that gets the highest ratings. The American-made Two-and-a-Half Men? The Big Bang Theory? How are these funny? Take out their laugh tracks and you'll wonder where the punchlines are. Yet they're getting awards left and right and are popular as hell.
I know: different strokes for different folks. I also don't "get" the popularity of hockey games, yet still call myself Canadian. Go figure.

From Maggie Turner's webpage:
Food labeling is a life or death issue for me, and others. The new labeling laws in Canada have not been passed yet and I need help. I will be submitting my views to Minister Stockwell Day, the President of the Treasury Board, and to Prime Minister Stephen Harper using this reliable and respectable web site:
The Finance Canada And Treasury Board Secretariat has already viewed this entry, very quick to monitor public reaction. It would be great if other bloggers included this link for their readers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Horses Need Homes. Any Takers?

From the end of the driveway

I suggested to Don, our friendly neighbourhood accountant, that Everett come in one day and “shadow” him at work, to see if he’s interested in taking up such a career, since it was in his accounting class that my son achieved his highest marks in school. Don agreed and so this morning Everett appeared beside my bed early, wearing the purple shirt and striped tie I gave him for Christmas. With his heavy dark-framed glasses on, he was the stereotypical picture of an accountant already and I had to chuckle. Scott drove him into town, so I've got the house to myself today.

Strange and wonderful lad that he is, Everett seems to love that tie. He’s the kind of kid who wears his shirts with the cuffs fastened and the buttons done up as high as they’ll go. Short-sleeved T-shirt? Never. Shorts? Never. Covered up to the hilt, always. He likes to have slippers on his feet, too.

Yesterday Scott and I drove to Humboldt, the halfway point between here and Saskatoon, to meet up with Kathy P and deliver the organic beef she and her sister have bought from the farm. We were sitting in a restaurant sharing a meal when my cellphone rang to remind me that I was due back home at a meeting on Emil's behalf, one that has been noted on my calendar for weeks already. Oops. I wasn't embarrassed — I'm human, these things happen — but more concerned because this is not the kind of thing I ever do. I rarely show up late for an appointment, let alone forget about it entirely. Particularly after looking at it marked on my calendar so many times.

Oh well. I'll blame it on the menopause, like everything else these days.


There are half a dozen horses on the farm that need to go to new homes. They are in imminent danger of being sold at auction, which means they'll likely be butchered and made into dog food. If you know anyone who loves horses and might be interested in saving them from this ugly fate, please put them in touch with us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Meaning of Life

Sometimes I face death.
Not happening to someone else
Not someday
But now, to me
Or those I love.
I am not resigned.
It is not okay.
It just is.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Smart Tip from the Get-It-Done Guy

Resolve Relationship Conflict Quickly

 One of the wonderful things about having a snuggle-bunny is the snuggling. And one of the best things about fighting with your snuggle-bunny is making up from the fight, because then you get to snuggle. Ever in the mood to snuggle, but your bunny doesn't want to? I'll bet you get into a fight over it. And then you make up, and you snuggle. So everything's great.

Except, of course, for the fight. Fighting takes a long time, it's tiring, and it's bad for relationships. So some nice people got together and invented “fair fighting.” Have you heard of it? Just Google it. You'll find lots of versions. There are rules like, “Take it private, keep it private,” so you don't embarrass each other in front of others. Wouldn't that defeat the point? Or how about, “Avoid accusations.” Or, “No hitting below the belt.'” Why go to all the trouble of fighting if you're going to fight fair? Why not fight to win?

I guess the theory is that as long as you're going to fight, you should fight fair. But if you can just decide to fight fair, willy-nilly, then why can't you just decide not to fight at all? Because it's human nature to fight, that's why. At least, that's what I say to justify my occasional lack of self-control and infantile behavior.

Fighting Might Do Damage

Even if you fight fair 99% of the time, that extra 1% you might say something that's better left unsaid. Nothing destroys relationships like loved ones going straight for each other's insecurities. So they didn't tell you until after you were married to them that they weren't the gender you thought? Obviously it's a sensitive issue for them. Bringing it up in a fight about whose turn it is to wash the dishes is not going to win you any brownie points.

Fighting Takes Too Much Administrative Overhead

And, of course, fighting rarely starts small and stays small. Imagine a couple where one person is mainly concerned with tasks, whereas the other is mainly concerned with relationships and feelings. Just imagine how things might go: a fight starts over a task. “It's your turn to do the dishes.” “Is not!” “Is too!” The feeling-centric person then notices the conflict is generating bad feelings. That upsets them. That is a big problem. “You just had to start a fight, didn't you? You always do this! You take a nice evening and ruin it. You can't just discuss it calmly!” To the task-centric person, that is going off task. Which, of course, is a big problem. So they get even more upset about that. “You're always changing the subject. What about the dishes?” “This isn't about the dishes; this is about your inability to be an authentic human being!!”

Now we have three fights going on. One fight about the dishes, one fight about whose fault the fight is, and a third fight about how the second fight is distracting us from the first fight. Who can keep track? You might try using the grid technique from my episode on managing multiple projects, but that becomes a fourth fight: “Why are you writing out a grid? Don't you care about our relationship?” At that point, trying to explain you're writing a grid so you can track the fights that you need to fix so you can make up and snuggle ... just won't work.

Yes, there's an easier way.

Make a Fight Sheet

Did my sample fight sound familiar? That's because fights aren't original. Most of us have the same fights as each other, and we have them over and over and over. Even the fights about the fights repeat! This is silly! If you're going to get hot and bothered with your snuggle bunny doing something repetitive, there are better alternatives. For example, jumping rope.

But if you must fight, streamline the process. Create a word processing document and type in your standard arguments. Include both points of view, but just how you both say them. Don't cheat to make yourself look better than you are; record both sides of each argument. Put in a bold header for each argument to make it easy to find, and include a table of contents if it helps. Start with a title page, “Our arguments.”

Now print it out and make sure you each have a copy. Next time you start to argue, run (don't walk) to your nearest copy and hand it to the other person. Then you can each turn to the proper page and run through the argument silently. When you're done, if either of you have anything else to say, say it. Record those additions for next time, of course. Voila! What used to be a two hour argument now takes mere moments. You can look at each other, laugh a bit, and go snuggle and make up.

Yes, I'm Serious

In my life, this tip works. The idea appeared in my head in the middle of an argument, when I realized the argument was really, really familiar, but it was too late to stop it from escalating. I thought sarcastically, “There's gotta be a way to streamline this.” Then I realized it could be funny to give it a try. My first version was my partner's main points and what my responses would be. That would help me save time in proving I was right. Then I realized that wasn't fair, so I included both points of view. It was funny. We only had to use our argument booklet two or three times before almost all of those arguments lost their force.

This tip doesn't actually work because you're streamlining your arguments, it works because you're reminding yourselves how silly and futile arguing is in the first place. Life's too short. Go snuggle instead.

By Stever Robbins, the Get-It-Done Guy. 
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011


Scott hasn't been feeling well for several days, so he's been home drinking hot water with honey and cinnamon, and lying on the couch in front of the TV.

Alas for me, that means I can't sit in the living room in the afternoon to have my daily tea and birdwatch. Not without listening to the TV, which frankly I need to escape at every opportunity as it's a great big time-wasting teeth-gritting too-much-frigging-advertising irritating brain-drain that hypnotizes me just as hard and quickly as the next guy, if I let it. I've been spending most of my daytime hours in the office with the door closed, and my nights in the bedroom reading, though sometimes I get stuck in front of the tube in the evening too if I'm not careful.

For the deep relaxation that comes from 15 minutes of birdwatching, I've brought an old milking stool from the barn and set it against the outside wall of the house. After the walk, which gets my blood flowing, I brew a single cup of Red Rose tea in a travel mug and sit outside with the dogs. In my hand-me-down (thank you Aunt Jean) mink, ski pants, Sorels, scarf, tuque and glove/mitten combo, I am toasty warm, the dogs get their fill of petting, and I am content. The weather has been mild this past week. In 30-below it wouldn't be so welcoming.

Constant visitors to the oak trees are hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, redpolls and chickadees. Dozens of them. There are magpies that come too; not while I'm out there, but they check out the ground beneath the feeders every day and I like them even though they are despised by Scott because they have been known to peck the eyes from newborn calves. How awful is that. I figure if they get enough to eat they might not have to bother the cattle, though warm, moist newborn calf-eyes must be quite a treat to them.

Nature is too cruel.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Woo Hoo!

Oscar called from Regina last night to say that the report was good: no more cancer was found. He's got to undergo a year of immunotherapy now, and some plastic surgery, none of which will be a breeze, but compared to the alternative this news has Oscar, Barb and everyone who loves them jumping for joy.

He had bought a bottle of wine to celebrate and I decided to do the same thing here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Cousins, 1994

This is me with my cousin Oscar at the Margo School Reunion 16 years ago, when everyone who'd ever attended any Margo school came home for the weekend. Festivities were held in the rink— meals, dance, so on, so forth. Hundreds of former students showed up.

Oscar's dad and my grandfather were brothers, so Dad and Oscar are actually cousins and Oscar and I, as I understand it, are first cousins once-removed. He's only a few years older than me and we grew up in the village of Margo, and of course when a little girl like I was has a slightly older boy in the family who happens to be sweet-natured and kind, she follows him around like a puppy and pesters him mercilessly. Some of my fond childhood memories are of checkers played in the afternoons at Oscar's house — he must have had so much patience! — and of being dragged around the floor by the leg, probably because I wouldn't leave the poor lad alone. (Nowadays when I see my niece Jordan, who is in Grade 3, with my son Everett, who is 18, I think it's much the same dynamic.)

As teenagers we often went out driving around the countryside together, having a few drinks and laughing pretty much constantly. That was social life in rural Saskatchewan back then, for teenagers. It's probably the same today, although I like to think that drinking and driving has fallen out of favour. For us, there was nowhere else to go when you wanted to escape your parents' home. You got into a vehicle and went out to see who else was out and around, and then you hung out on the back roads somewhere.

Oscar married his high school sweetheart and they set up on a farm north of town and had three fine boys who are grown now; one works with Oscar in the family business and two of the three have started their own young families.

Not long before Christmas, Oscar had a mole on his neck removed and the diagnosis that came back from the lab was melanoma. His doctor got him into the operating room right away and exploratory surgery showed two out of three lymph nodes on one side were cancerous. So back into the hospital he went for radical surgery, removing lymph nodes from neck, chest and back. The next day they kicked him out and sent him home, which is a three-hour drive from the city where the surgery was performed. He spent several days in a lot of pain and discomfort but when I called him on New Year's Day he was, though still sore, starting to feel himself again.

Today he and Barb are in the city, getting the results of tests done after the surgery. With luck, the operation removed all the cancer. It HAS TO have.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Old and Young Folks and In Between

Doris, 94

At the nursing home where Grandma lives now, the auxiliary throws a Christmas party for the residents and invited guests and a photographer takes portraits, which are then attached to cards and sent out to family members on the mailing list.
Aunt Reta, I didn't have your address with me last fall when they asked me to come up with a list. I'll forward my card on to you, and make sure your info gets added for Christmas 2011.

Scott, Everett and I had supper with Scott's clan at his grandmother's house in Kelvington on Sunday. She turns 102 later this month. After the dishes were done, we three strolled over to the nursing home to see Grandma. It was 7:30, and she was already sound asleep, so we left her be and walked over to Cara's to say hello to her and her family for a few minutes. They were getting the kids ready for bed so we didn't stay long.

It was a cold, crisp night, but thankfully there was no wind so it was beautiful and there were still a lot of Christmas lights up around town. Yesterday I came back from my afternoon walk with pretty chilly cheeks, but today it has warmed up considerably and was mild enough to go all the way to the ravine with the dogs. That's only about a mile round-trip, but on days when the wind is blowing and the thermometer is in the low twenties, it's a formidable hike and I usually turn back much sooner, into the calm of the trees.

Dad turned 72 yesterday. SEVENTY-TWO!! That sounds OLD, and Dad is NOT old! Are ya, Pop?
I hope you won't be crossing my name off the will for not phoning. I did send an email, and just talked to you the other day, and figured you'd be getting calls from lots of other people so wouldn't feel forgotten or neglected. Honestly though, if I'm in as good a shape as you are when I'm 72, I'll be happy. As a matter of fact, I'd likely be happy if I was in as good a shape as you are now, as I come up to 52!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sure and It's a New Year

On New Year's Eve, Scott, the boys and I covered up with quilts and settled in to watch the latest Shrek movie. For those who haven't seen it, it starts out with the ogre Shrek living a happily mundane life with his wife and three tiny tots in a peaceful and friendly environment. Aside from the pristine nature of his surroundings, which are less-than-satisfying for an ogre, the repetitiveness of raising children and taking care of a home gets to Shrek. He is constantly called upon to take care of the backed-up outhouse, for instance. Over and over again.

Chuckling at that, I looked over at Scott, who also deals regularly with similar issues here, and said, "See? This is part of every man's life. It's not just you!"

Shortly after, he fell asleep, and stayed that way till the end of the film.
Which reminded me of the time I took Baby Everett to a display of life-sized, moving, roaring dinosaurs, and after his initial terror he fell asleep and remained in a coma till we left the museum.

Some things are just too overwhelming.

And speaking of outhouses, we do have one. We don't use it (yet; I'm wondering if we might need to one of these days, the way things are going), but I took this photo while out for my walk yesterday:

The thermometer said 25-below, I heard, but it was gorgeous out there. Not a breeze... snow sparkling...air fresh and crisp...happy dogs bouncing around me as we made our way down the road under the sunshiny blue sky...

I didn't make New Year's resolutions, as I promptly forget them anyway. Instead, on New Year's Day I tried to do everything that I hope to do much, much more of in the year ahead—to “seed” the year:

1) Up before 9, make the bed
2) Make breakfast for everyone
3) Clean kitchen, including doing dishes
4) Listen to music; my CD choice, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
5) Dance
6) Sing
7) Bath and take the time to oil my body afterward
8) Call someone who is dear to me; I phoned Dad, my cousin Oscar, and my gal-pal Cathy
9) Have a "wrestling match" with Scott
10) Followed by a cuddle and short afternoon nap
11) Take a Medicine Walk; all walks are medicinal, right?
12) Do the Tibetan Rites
13) Play guitar
14) Eat an orange for my health
15) Read
16) Write
17) Meditate
18) Afternoon tea and birdwatching
19) Get editing work done

Well I didn’t do them all; didn’t play my bass, sing (beyond my usual mindless melody-making while doing other things), eat the orange, watch the birds or meditate. And that is okay! It was a full, satisfying day and we watched How to Train Your Dragon with the boys in the evening.

I'll drive Emil to Aylesbury House this afternoon. He's been home since the 23rd and has said countless times, "Mom, aren't you happy you got to have me here so many days?" and "Will you miss me when I go back?"


Were you a Led Zeppelin fan back in the '70s? Do you love Alison Krauss's angelic voice (which, by the way, my sister Karen's singing voice is often likened to)? Then here's a little treat for you, one of the songs on their Raising Sand CD, a favourite of mine:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Poem for the New Year

Invisible Gifts

A moth that caressed a flame
Is now incinerated;
Flood waters have swept away a house,
And someone once deeply loved is now alone,
Staring at a flickering screen
In an empty room.

Even as these letters are formed,
They fade,
Just as you and I are fading,
And everything we know and love
Or think we hate,
Is being annihilated
If made of matter.

And that is why things invisible
And thus not prone to decay
Are what I silently push across a table to you
Somewhere between the soup and the pudding.
Invisible gifts cross the barrier of death;
Love given is never lost--
It creates new galaxies and lights the stars
In our heavens.

Copyright Julie Paquette