Saturday, April 30, 2011

Movie Night

Near town

Buttered popcorn, and a plethora of movie choices.
It is cold out there! I'm amazed it hasn't snowed.
In Yorkton, they had snow on the ground this morning.
I went out for a few minutes only, and was glad to have on my ski pants and gloves and winter coat with a hood.
The King's Speech
The Social Network
The Fighter
A s--tload more, thanks to Gord, but this looks like a pretty good start. I'm after watching The King's Speech.
My cold is keeping me tired; mending, but need to stay home and rest. Had some plans for tonight but ... will have to skip the par-tay and take "My Girl" out for a meal instead.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kids These Days

Not our first choice for chariot

Scott didn’t start up the pump at the dugout before leaving. Maybe he forgot, but more likely it’s because the gas can is empty. So I can hear the frogs! I’ve turned off the radio station, eschewing manmade sound, and opened the office window wide, instead. Between the determined croaking and the trilling harmonies added by the birds, me and my fluffy housecoat are firmly ensconsced in heaven, here.

Made Everett drive Scott’s red and white GM, his work truck, to town yesterday. That kid bitched all the way there, and all around town, about having to drive the truck. I told him I’d heard his message the first 10 times, and now Just Stop! But he couldn’t seem to. It was Bemoan This, and Belabour That. The truck felt different to drive. The brakes didn’t work properly. He can’t see out the back. There’s so much dust in the cab it’s hard to breathe. The signal arm doesn’t work right. No way he’ll be able to parallel park. It’s broken; you have to guess at the gear shift positions. Blah Blah Blah BLAH. Wash Rinse and Repeat, Drive Your Mother Insane.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dog Doctor

Sara, age 6, who visits regularly and for long periods

I was out in the back yard a while ago, re-filling the pump with gas and admiring the dozens of croaking frogs that are floating spreadeagled on the surface of the dugout, when I noticed Sara had three porcupine quills stuck in her snout. I came in for scissors to cut the tips off, and then she patiently let me remove them.

I'd no sooner gotten back to work here at my desk than Everett asked me if Jenna had had those porcupine quills in her nose when I was out there. She hadn't. It seems the dogs are being uncharacteristically quiet while dealing with this particular beast. We called Lucky Ducky, the deerfaced chihuahua, into the porch (he has to be checked over for woodticks before he gets further into the house; he had two yesterday) for his own safety.

Jenna snapped at my fingers once when I brushed against her head, which made me a bit nervous about helping her, but I did manage to snip the quills and get one out. The bottom one is not budging; I need to find a pair of pliers and get a better grip.

Jenna, 8 years old

Water report:
Scott told me this morning that we have "a little bit of leeway now," should we get rain or something. "Just a little bit, though," he added, lest I breathe a sigh of relief. I'm not sure if he's had the pump at the lagoon running in the last few days (probably), but the one behind the house (which I hear through the closed window behind me, dammit— it drowns out the frogs. So far. When they really get going, they'll be louder) has been going steadily for a week or more during the day. Water is being pumped from the nearby dugout to a slough closer to the road, so that it can get away down the ditch and away from our yard. It will flow on down to the ravine (seen in yesterday's snapshot) and onward. Meanwhile, the sump pump in our basement is doing its job admirably; I hear it start up every half hour or so. There's some water on the concrete but I've seen the floor a lot worse down there. For a while last summer we used a dustpan to scoop up water that filled a five-gallon pail, twice a day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flooded Roads

At the ravine

 There are three ways to get to our place, and the road in this picture is the one we usually take.

Yesterday it was as warm as a summer day so I took a walk down there, and the water had already receded and the gravel had been spread.

My company is here for coffee — Bev Semko, a friend from high school — gotta go!


I hear our area (Fishing Lake) was on the news last night. Oh oh.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fifty Reasons We Love Karen

My little sister just turned 50, and I put out a call for her friends and family to send me their reasons for loving her. It's been suggested that she post them so they can all see what each other added, but that would be a strenuous task for Karen, who doesn't read and write. (Heh! I mean, WON'T read and write!)

Here you go:

1. She reminds me of your mom. (Gord)

2. Her whole body shakes when she giggles, tee hee hee. (Danielle)

3. She’s an animal lover; whether it be dogs, cats, rodents, snakes, owls or Richard. (Danielle)

4. I love Karen because she is the daughter of my all-time best friend, Grace. She was a natural-born animal lover and continues to be. One year we had a snow in May, and she looked out the window and said, "Boy, that was a short summer!" (Joanne Bohl)

5. Her beautiful singing voice. (Damon)

6. Her amazing pierogi as well as pretty much everything she cooks. (Damon)

7. Her smile, which is always warm and infectious. (Damon)

8. Her overall happy demeanor. (Damon)

9. Those crazy little glass figurines that multiply and are in danger of overtaking the house. (Damon)

10. I remember Karen cutting patterns out of Grandma Benson's kitchen curtains. Grandma had plastic drapes in her front room (very common in the day!) but Karen did not choose to cut those; she sat at the kitchen table with a pair of scissors and cut the little patterns out of fabric ones.  (Joanne)

11. Karen gives freely and without end. (Vickie)

12. Her shining smile lights even the dimmest of moods and always challenges a grin. She is one of my best lifelong friends and I will cherish that always.  Unconditionally I will love her forever and am proud to call her my friend. Cheers to you on your birthday Karen, you just keep getting better! (Vickie)

13. Hey Karen, turning 50 is well.... turning 50 and that’s it!! Just another day!       with a few more grey hairs! You are a great person and have been a great friend all those years to me. (Barb Barteski)

14. I adore Karen because she has been a fantastic friend while I was far away from my family and she is one of the reasons why I think so highly about Canadian people in general. She is one of the reasons why my stay in Canada has been an unforgetable experience which I cherish all my life. She has made a difference in my life. (Eric Oord)

15. The last time I saw her (probably at a curling game or something in Margo), she had the time to chat and always has a smile on her face. She enjoys friends, community and loves her family! What more can a person say! (Kathy Daviduk)

16. Karen is someone who will be your friend forever. You know how it is-- you grow up and you really don't talk anymore. With Karen it doesn't matter how long ago you talked, nothing changes. What I mean is I feel just as comfortable around her now as I did years ago. She'll always be a very dear friend. (Annella Domeij)

17. I love the way Karen tells the pig joke especially after she has had a couple of drinks, and Darcy loves Karen's buns. (Brendalynn Wallen)

18. The thing I think of when I think of Karen is her smile. I don't think I have ever seen her without a smile on her face. Maybe she just likes me and I make her smile, but I somehow don't think that is what it is - haha. (Cheryl Eskra)

19. I could tell you a lot of reasons why we love Karen but I’m sure they are reasons that you already know! Karen is a wonderful person. I will give you my perspective of Karen as I see her at work, and the joy she brings to the residents when she is there. She puts her heart into her job and it shows.       Karen is a very caring and giving person; she tries to do whatever is necessary to make the residents happy. I enjoy working with her as a fellow staff member. She is not only a fellow co-worker but Karen is also my friend, and I am very happy about that. Karen is a gem, stunning and beautiful, inside and out! (Denise Redman)

20. Where to start! I remember Karen French-braided my hair for all the school and church events until she got too old and Joan took over. I also loved babysitting for Karen during the summer and going to all the James Gang ball tournaments. I love my cousin Karen and have also been told I look a lot like her! (Karla)

21. I love Karen because she’s got one hell of an arm and her aim isn’t bad either. (Cameron)

22. Karen has/had a kick-ass throw to second base from home plate. (Dawn Wallin)

23. She's got the best wit of most people I know —when she lets herself loose and throws a few daggers. (Dawn)

24. She's the most reliably fun person to make music with EVER! hehehe. (Dawn)

25. Oh yeah…and she only ever phones me when she wants something...LOL.     (Dawn)

26. I love Karen ’cuz she’s voluptuous and cuddly. (Gary)

27. I love her dimples. (Gary)

28. She is a fantastic cook. (Joan)

29. She is never depressed. (Gary)

30. She’s always got time for me. (Gary)

31. She thinks she’s a good singer! (Gary)

32. She would adopt any of my pets that needed a home. (Joan)

33. She wouldn’t be scared to get mice out of her washing machine, like Gary is. (Joan)

34. I love her because she dotes on my children. (Joan)

35. I love Auntie Karen because she has a farm. (Jordan)

36. She is nice. (Jordan)

37. She’s the best companion, up for anything, willing to try new things. (Joan)

38. She “gets” my dry humour and laughs at my wisecracks. (Kathy)

39. She is the most loyal friend a person could have and can be trusted with any secret. (Kathy)

40. She’s lovable and gives great hugs. (Uncle Carl)

41. We love her music and her smile. (Aunt Reta)

42. We have fond memories of her visit with Cameron to the States: she liked the antebellum homes, and the French quarter, and the pecan pie. (Reta)

43. She is as kindhearted as they come. (Kathy)

44. Everything she does, she does well. (Reta)

45. She is the mother-in-law from heaven. (Michelle)

46. She has a strong work ethic. (Michelle)

47. She is community-minded and will do whatever she can to keep her
      little town going. (Michelle)

48. She is generous and has given me tons of Princess House. (Michelle)

49. She is a forgiving mother, thank goodness. (Marc)

50. She is ridiculously modest and self-effacing, not realizing how sweet she is and how pretty, nor how special she is and why so many of us love her for so many more reasons than we can manage to put into words. (Kathy)

Of course, there are many of your friends and relatives, Karen, whose reasons for loving and admiring you are not included here. Take this list and multiply it by 100, and maybe you’ll begin to understand how special a place you occupy in the hearts of many. You are one of a kind and your presence in it makes the world a little bit better for all of us.

If I had to pick just one person to be in my corner, I’d pick you.


Our sister Joan has added a few more to the list, on her blog:

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Memory

It's been a busy week, between Grandma's last days, those that followed, and a couple of extra projects I signed up to help with at work. Then I had the good fortune to catch Emil's cold, so haven't had one ounce of extra energy in the past two or three days.

If you were at the funeral yesterday, you've already read Grandma's obituary, written by me and read at the church by my sister Joan. She could be a public speaker; who knew! She did a great job of it. And my sister Karen played her guitar and sang this song at the service. She did ask me to sing with her, as she often does, but I don't like all eyes on me, let's face it, and was glad it was her and not me up there. Just as well, too, because my voice isn't in tiptop shape with this cold anyway. Afterward our cousin's little girl said to Karen, who has been singing around the countryside since she was in her teens, "You should be a singer someday!" 

We had a fine day for the funeral, with a bite in the air but sunshine to keep it pleasant, and afterward met at the community hall for a lunch of sandwiches and squares whipped up by the church ladies.

In a two-story farmhouse three miles east of Margo, Doris May was born to May and John Bartley on Dec.7, 1916. They had a family of four daughters and five sons and, although two children wouldn’t survive their early years, the household was a happy one, with music and friends and plenty of community activity as well as the hard work of farm living in those days. One of Doris’s earliest jobs, when she was about four, was to sit at the bottom of the stairs to alert her mother in case her grandfather, who was ill, should need help to come down from his bedroom on the second floor.

Doris, the youngest of the sisters, was also the tiniest; when she started Grade 1 at Olivet School, she could still walk under the kitchen table. She was small but such a swift runner that she won all the races at school and collected the prize “hankies” till they gave up awarding them. Those trusty legs served her well throughout her life. She loved to dance and many people remember her performing the Highland fling at community functions around the countryside till well into middle age and beyond; her minuscule feet flew so fast they were a blur. Right up until her late eighties when she moved to Weneeda Park Lodge in Wadena, she walked everywhere she went in the town of Margo, and at a pretty good clip too.

Doris married Emil Benson in 1939 and they moved out to a farm north of Margo, where they raised a family of four. She busied herself with a wide variety of pastimes aside from keeping the house highly organized—everything in its place—and the children spic and span. She liked to play cards but was particularly fond of whist; she played bingo and took home more than her fair share of small prizes. After she and Emil built a house in town in 1967 she never missed a Sunday service at the Lutheran church and her high voice was unmistakable throughout the singing of all the hymns; she crocheted afghans and doilies; she was a member of the Margo Homemakers Club and the Lutheran Ladies Aid, and as a senior citizen was actively involved in the Silver Threads Club. She was a fan of hockey, curling and baseball (the Blue Jays were her team) and enjoyed watching games whether they were played in town or on TV.

A few things her family will remember: she collected pitchers for her china cabinet, took great care with her clothing and kept her hair “set,” and made hot lunches throughout the school year for the grandchildren, who were completely at home in Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Her skill with a box of Kraft Dinner (what kid doesn’t love KD?) was particularly notable, and her delicious fried potatoes seem impossible to replicate. She took pride in the accomplishments of all the town’s schoolchildren; she always attended their games and plays and was upset when the school was closed down. Dinners and suppers were never complete until the freshly brewed pot of tea had been emptied; the table was neatly set with either a tablecloth or placemats for every meal, and dishes were washed and put away promptly afterward. She took up search-a-word puzzles in her later years and did them every day till she was in her nineties, usually while watching game shows on TV. For the pure pleasure of it, she would occasionally sort through all the clothes in her closet and the jewellery in the box on her dresser. Although she didn’t get behind the wheel herself, she liked to go for a drive with Emil on a Sunday afternoon and remark on the progress of the crops or harvest, or the amount of snow in the fields, and appreciated this sort of outing right up to the fall of 2010. And let’s not forget how she doted on Blackie the cat, the faithful companion of her years in Margo after Emil passed away. The noisy beast even had his own spot on the kitchen table so he could look out the dining room window; there was only one person he really trusted, and that was Doris.

In 2006 Doris became a resident of Weneeda Park Lodge and was happy and busy there among new friends as well as old friends from Margo. In the winter of 2009 she moved to Kelvindell Lodge in Kelvington, where she was affectionately and well looked after and remained content until she passed away in her sleep on April 14, 2011, one week after suffering a severe stroke.

Doris was predeceased by her parents and siblings and a newborn daughter, her first child. She lost Emil in 1997, their daughter Grace in 2005, and their son Bruce in 2010. Left to remember Doris are her sisters-in-law Gladys Bartley, Vera Benson and Trudy Bartley and many nieces and nephews; her daughter Reta (Carl) Morris and grandsons Damon and Nathan and families; son Neil (Rose) Benson and granddaughters Leanne, Jolene, Heather and families; daughter-in-law Shirley Benson and grandchildren Gerald, Karla and families; and son-in-law Don Johnson and grandchildren Kathy, Karen, Cameron, Joan and families.

Our mom, our dapper little grandma, lived her life with determined resignation to its hardships and a firm yet quiet faith that we do indeed go somewhere else after we die.

                                    “Thou lovest these souls that we love
                                     With a love as far surpassing our own
                                     As the glory of noon surpasses the gleam of a candle.
                                     Therefore will we be still, and trust in thee.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guitars and Grandma

Glen in his workshop

Scott and I picked Aunt Reta up in the city on Sunday. She stays with her friends Glen and Janet when she's there, and on Sunday Glen gave us a little tour of his guitar-making factory, which is in their backyard. He has himself engineered and built most of the machines used to make his Fury guitars. Scott was quite fascinated and we will have to go back again so he can get his fill; as it was we wanted to get back home so Reta could see Grandma. Scott had a million questions and was obviously curious about the details as Glen showed him how the instruments are made.

Grandma's condition hasn't changed since she had her stroke on Thursday night. She is eating and drinking virtually nothing, and has not been put on any life support system. She seems comfortable, is unable to move or talk, is mostly asleep, and doesn't seem to recognize anyone when she does the odd time open her eyes. Unless there is some miraculous recovery, it is only a matter of time now.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Snow's Going Fast

Scott rented a backhoe to push snow away from the back yard, behind the garden.

In the front yard he used the tractor, and Everett is shovelling snow away from the house.

In other news, Grandma had a stroke on Thursday night and I'm just about to head north to go see her. Aunt Reta is flying in from Phoenix and I'll drive to Saskatoon tomorrow to pick her up.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bit Wet

Moisture Map: we live in the red, northeast of Wynyard about 30 miles. Click on image to enlarge.

For the story (or non-story, to be honest; dull reading), click here.

We're off to town in a half hour, so Everett can drive, and drive, and drive some more. We'll do laundry, pick up Emil, get groceries (his favourite place to go is the Co-op Store, though he doesn't help me shop) and probably treat ourselves to something from the local drive-thru, which opened for the season just a week ago. Everett is dying for an ice cream Blizzard. The sun is shining so it seems appropriate; I have just paid off the last $300 of debt I had in the world, and am forthwith footloose and fancy-free, so I deserve a milkshake. And it's the weekend! My work week is nearly done except for a few hours I'll put in over the next two days. Scott has earned us a steak supper tomorrow night; sometimes his clients spoil him (and as a result, me) when he's finished a job. Anyone's cooking but mine — yippee! I was all over that invitation.

And that is life down on the farm ....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Too Nice Out to Sit in Here

The porch, repository of homeless stuff; remember the basement is a flood zone

At the Festa Campetre in Italy, they know how to have a good time

The little dog laughed to see such sport

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Can't Make a Move Quite Yet

In the hallway I finally tacked up this set of wall hangings Mom made; I could not find one arrangement that was appealing to my eye, but at least they're up.

It'll be a while before I can do anything about flowers. But that doesn't mean I haven't started dreaming. And purchased seed packets for sunflowers, bachelor's buttons, wildflowers and sweetpeas.

Will be reducing the size of my existing flower garden this year, for several reasons: 1) it takes me three hours a day to keep it weeded to my satisfaction. I like being out there, but that's too much, particularly when it rains and I can't do it, but the weeds still grow; 2) the garden is clay, with only a couple inches of topsoil; I've added to the topsoil, but really my flowers deserve better; and 3) the garden area needs to be built up and angled to keep water draining away from the house, so we're going to do that and plant grass instead.

This means a lot of digging again this year as I move dozens of perennials to new locations. Can hardly wait.

Still lots of snow; Everett is out shovelling it away from the south side of the house right now. Water's started coming into the basement, as expected. Scott broke out more of the concrete floor with a mallet last night, to make a place to put a different pump or something. He tells me what he's doing but might as well tell a bowl of cold oatmeal about this stuff. I'm just grateful he knows what to do, and does it.

Back to work. Maybe when office hours are over (I work 10 to 2:30, with a five-minute break every hour to get away from the computer and move blood into my legs, and a half-hour for lunch; don't you wish you had my job?), Everett and I will take a drive into town. He needs the practice and Emil needs his rubber boots to walk in the puddles on the way home from work; my library book is overdue and though it's doubtful I'll whiz through the rest of it before we go, I still tell myself I'll return it today, though I won't if it's not done. I'd rather pay the fine; a good book is worth it. Note: The Best Laid Plans for good reason won the Canada Reads competition this year. Recommend.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Basement Slog

Old sweetie Casper Doodle accompanies me to check out perennials frozen in pots and still buried in snow.

   So far today I’ve done most of the dishes (plugged pipes require emptying a basin of dirty water into toilet, several times when you're washing two days' worth) while listening to Colin James and the Little Big Band (to listen, scroll down), and am taking a break to let my fingers unwrinkle.
   It is 11 a.m. and I need to eat breakfast. Scott is making space in the quonset for some things from the basement, so he can break up concrete floor down there and change some plumbing in hopes of solving this teeth-grinding problem. He has phoned his cousin Kurt the Intrepid Photographer to help carry things from the basement, and I’ve rousted Everett from his bed so he will be ready when called upon.
   My plans for this afternoon were to work about 3 hours on a website project, and get my tax numbers pulled together to deliver to my friendly neighbourhood accountant tomorrow morning while Everett is getting his road test. Since Scott announced this morning that today’s the day to slog out the basement, I'll need to be helping instead.
   Had I had a day's warning I would have made sure to get the project hours in yesterday, instead of lazing about as I did. And oh it made for a fine day.
   There are a projected 15 hours or so to be done by next weekend, and since these things often take longer than expected, a week may not be enough. I’ll work on the computer tonight, I guess. It’s not the best time but since I won’t be in this chair all day, maybe it’ll be fine. Usually I'm not the brightest "prose medic" (my colleague's term) by the end of the day, and prefer to work earlier, when I'm sharper and my body complains less.

Everett has posted a new video to his page. Some of you are old enough to remember playing this game:
click here.

Joanne Bohl has sent a note too:
click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Old Lamps

This pair of lamps belonged to my grandparents, and if I'm not mistaken (correct me if I'm wrong, Reta) they came from Great-Grandma Bartley's house. Or not. Maybe they came from Great-Grandma Benson's. (Reta! Reta! Help me out here.) The white shade on the lamp below looks like something Grandpa picked up at an auction, and my sister Karen insists that the shade in the top photo is also not original, although it looks to me like it was meant for the globe beneath it.

My questions to you are these:
1.) What would you buy to give them a matching pair of new shades?
2.) What do you think the shades they came with were like?
3.) Have you seen lamps like these?