Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Home Again

Everett tackles the brush pile from several summers of gardening

This photo wasn't taken today; hell no. Today it's winter without snow. Cold, grey, windy, and miserable, with rain threatening.

You can see we have a serious dandelion explosion. I actually like them—till after they've seeded out, that is. Then they're ugly. And they will take over your grass if you let them. Those you see here surround my flower beds on three sides (though the bed is curved), and the greenspace you see is only a fraction of the area. Scott is going to bring over some cows to "clean it up." I'll be happy to have them there, but worried about the garden. Cows respect an electric fence, but only when they want to. According to someone, maybe someone local or maybe Temple Grandin, cows know that the jolt from the fence only stings for a short blast and then is over. If they want what is on the other side of the fence bad enough, they will take the risk. Or if something spooks them, they are less afraid of that wire fence than of being eaten. I will watch from my high tower (that's funny, Pamelo Jo, about your dogs announcing Your Highness), ready to run out and chase them off. There's a lot of good 'eatin' in my flower beds.

This happens to me after beginning to weed out dandelions every summer: when I close my eyes, I see one as if it's a mandala; you know, with spokes of energy shooting out from a central core, as the dandelion leaves appear when they are still young and you look at them from above. The image is compelling because I'll see it in my mind's eye often during a day. It's even come to a point where I'd like to change the image because I've seen enough damn dandelions that day.

I'm still moving plants out there, and impatient to get them all moved, and taking deep breaths and reminding myself to relax about it. It's only May! I'm only one person! whose hands actually got to the point the other evening where they hurt, from hoeing and digging.

Good Report: was in the city yesterday for a stress test to get a baseline on my heart health, for my doctor. All's well but I need to get in shape, he tells me; walking 45 minutes a day, four days a week, should do the trick, he says. He's all about prevention, he says.

I'm looking at the great outdoors this morning and thinking shit, how am I going to force myself to go down the road in that furor? Apparently I need to toughen up if I want to live to be an old lady. Which I hope to do, since a card reader told me I would (live to be an old lady) when I was 18 or 19. She was my friend's grandmother and used a plain deck of playing cards. Now, in those days, how old was an old woman? 65? 70? My friend's grandma was in her eighties, if I'm remembering correctly. Anyway, the other things she told me were true, too; they've borne out over the years since.

And now, to work.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

This garter snake is about two feet long and likes to lounge under the lilac trees.

Ducky Doodle woke me this morning by jumping up enough to put his front paws on the side of the bed next to me; he wanted to go outside. Why he wakes me instead of going to Scott, who is already up, I do not know. He seems to stay in his crate in the closet as long as I am in bed, too, even though Scott is up and will pet him to his heart's content if the dog is on his lap as he watches TV. How do dogs think? Does Ducky think I need to be the one to let him out, so that I will know where he is? Or what? It's a mystery.

Last night Everett and I were sitting on the couch.
Me: “Yawwwwnnnnn… doodledy doodledy doo…” (or somesuch)
Everett, looking at me with disgust: “You even have to turn a yawn into a song!”

Ah, my teenage boy, these are the things you will remember about me, perhaps with a smile, after I’m gone. That I danced around the house when the music came on, that I belted out bits of tunes in my most operatic voice — all the things that drive you crazy right now.


Don't forget, Joanne Bohl is blogging under Out Margo Way, in the column there on the left.


Mark of True Friendship
Me: I’ve gotta shop for something to wear to my nephew’s wedding this summer.
Cathy: You can shop in my closet if you want.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Six Years

Everett wipes the raindrops off his glasses. He has started a load of clothes in the laundromat across the street, and joined me in the cafe for a bite to eat, killing time till they need to be transferred to dryers.

Six years since Mom died. While she was sick, I used to try to imagine what life would be like after she was gone; I tried to imagine the future without her, five, six, ten years after, and was unable to. Here it is, six years, and it still doesn’t seem real. Oh, it’s real. That’s not the right word I guess, though it brings a hot tear to my eye.

I sent a short memoriam verse (author unknown) to the paper:
Sometimes a note of a song 
brings us a thought of you.
Sometimes a flower as we pass along,
Or a sky that is azure blue,
Or a silver lining in the clouds
When the sunshine's peeping through.

Scott's mom called, asking if Everett could help plant her garden today. I said I’d bring him as soon as he was dressed. It’s sprinkling out there, and cold, but she was bent over the ground when I dropped him off. It’s raining hard enough near Yorkton to bring the farmers in from the fields, but here they’re still out. A news article today says about 43% of this area’s crops are in; it’s late enough that there will be a lot of worry about fall frosts.


From Everett's side of the café booth

Home with clean laundry and an extra boy for the weekend, and thanks to the rainfall the young leaves on the caragana trees have doubled in size in just a few hours. And the scent out there ... glorious. Now just to put up with anxious grumpy farmers who can't finish seeding till the ground dries out.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

View from the pickup window at Scoops drive-thru

Message left by sister Karen on answering machine this morning:

"Sorry to call so early, but I'm leaving for work right away. Cara had her baby last night, a boy. They haven't named him yet, and the nurses have been too busy to weigh him. Bye!"


Came home with two dogs yesterday, so that was a relief. Old Casper's got some good days ahead yet, apparently, and only needed her nails cut and an antibiotic against the infection between her toes. Ducky got heavily sedated and his four lower incisors pulled out by pliers. He was a tongue-lagging sack of lard after that, but looks good as new today.

That ye pet-owners may covet our veterinarian:
The Bill
14 pills: $4.20
2 rabies shots 36.00
sedate dog, pull loose teeth 10.00
clip toenails 3.00
Total: 53.20
(taxes extra)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011



The house where Emil lives has a supervisor; actually, three, who take turns staying at the group home for several days in a row. They work 24- or 36-hour shifts, and often bring their pets with them. I'm fond of all the dogs, of course, but absolutely adore Pete, who has the softest, most pettable fur and is full of piss and vinegar. He gets quite excited whenever I (or anyone, I suppose) comes to the door, and yaps up a storm, and jumps all over me, and I love it. I could just eat him up.

Today is a dog day. I was up early to run into town for a lab test at the hospital, and now am breaking my overnight fast with a fried egg and two slices of buttered toast made from Everett's delicious wholewheat bread. Next, we'll put a collar on Ducky and a leash on Casper, and heave her into the back of the GM before heading for Kelvington, where Dr Rob, the best vet in the world, has his clinic.

Poor old Casper has sores on her feet and has been limping around. I've been reluctant to take her in, because I'm afraid Dr Rob will say it's time to put her out of her misery. She is about 15 years old and fairly stiff already at times, due to arthritis we suppose, but has really failed lately. She still has happy, bouncy days though, so it's not as if it's easy to decide to end her life. My hope is that some medicine will fix her up and she'll have some good times left. Scott, however, doesn't think she'll make it through another winter.

Ducky, on the other hand, seems as spunky as ever but there were a few days last week when all he wanted was to be outside. That was not so surprising, as it was nice weather and why wouldn't he want to be out with "the girls?" But he wasn't interested in his canned food, which looks so appetizing it could pass for a meaty stew for humans. Then Scott noticed that Ducky has lost a front tooth and has another one quite loose. Oh oh. His breath is not rotten, so we wonder what is going on there.

And now, to see if my little penguin niece (expecting her third baby next month) is home and ready for perennials. We'll go dig some up before we leave. It's turning into a glorious day of sun and heat and it will be hard to settle down into this office to work when we return. Or perhaps it will be easier because it'll be so damn hot out I'll want to be in here where it's cooler.

The tractors are out in all the fields now, the poplar leaves have all come out and the ditches, emptied of water, are green. Scott's gone this morning to pick up some oats for seeding, for feed for the cattle. Life in Saskatchewan is in full swing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Froze Hard

Bleeding heart bush, third plant to bloom this spring

Good thing I got this photo, because last night we had a serious freeze. Today the bush is drooping, hangdog, a broken shell of a plant.


Done work for the day, about to go outside in the cold sun with a travel mug full of hot tea.

But first:


Isn't she cute? Turns 43 today, if I'm not mistaken

Everett made you something:

We'll eat them for you

Here's the recipe he used:

Chocolate Chews

1 c milk
1 c cocoa
4 c brown sugar
3 c peanut butter
3 c oatmeal

Preheat oven to 325F.
Mix milk and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients. Put one-inch balls on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 20 minutes.
When warm they will seem almost toffee-like on the inside; when cool, they are chewy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cats and Flowers and Birds, oh my!

Purple martin house awaiting paint job, and Ace

The kittens born last spring have names that start with an A, so we'll be able to figure out how old they are in years to come, and maybe even remember who their mother was. Last year we had one batch of kittens— a litter of five— and three have so far survived farm life, which takes its toll on barn cats. Perhaps when they go hunting across the road or in the fields, they get lost. But I doubt it. It's more likely that foxes and coyotes get them. Even the odd speedy vehicle past our driveway hasn't left a cat carcass yet.

Everett holding Alice; Ace has to get into the picture

We seem to have two year-old females, one of whom, Ash, is shy and timid compared to her siblings. I expected they'd both have kittens this spring, but no ... no sign of plumpness in either of them.
Their mother, however, is busy with this year's offspring in the attic of the tractor shed behind Everett. She's got all the little Bs well hidden.


Holey sheet, it's cold out there today. The thermometer in the Chev said 6 degrees, according to Scott, who left here shortly after seven this morning to meet with a customer. I will be bringing my one tray of bedding plants indoors tonight, in case it freezes. Did you notice I said one tray? When I say I am simplifying and paring down, it is no joke.

I have been digging holes under the oak trees and digging up perennials to relocate there. It may well be the only safe place in the yard, if Scott does as he intends to, which is re-level the entire lawn and garden area so that the ground slopes away from the house. Last summer it was too wet to do anything; this summer we wait and see what happens groundwater-wise.

Under trees is not the best place for flowers, what with the heavy shade and the thirsty roots of the oaks, so only plants that I think can handle it are going there: delphiniums, columbines, maltese crosses. They may not thrive, but at least they won't be plowed under... they'll have a chance. They'll get lots of light in early spring before the oaks leaf out, and in the summer they'll enjoy dappled shade, which flowers seem to love, and the rays of the evening sun will slant beneath the oak branches.


No use talking to me. All I think about at this time of year are flowers ... and birds. A male baltimore oriole visited the oaks this morning, black and bright orange. There are about two dozen American goldfinches around the yard, chasing each other at lightning speed through the branches. Chipping sparrows have arrived, and last week I saw a couple Harris sparrows. When I sit out on the deck overlooking the slough, a song sparrow perches nearby in the lilacs and sings for me. There are woodpeckers about, and a pair of magpies is nesting in the tall elms on the west side of the yard.

Out on the dugout yesterday I saw—aside from the redwinged blackbirds and the numerous species of ducks and the Canada geese pair, who only seem to visit long enough to preen themselves on top of the muskrat house— a sora sneaking along behind the thin grass on shore. A sora is more often heard than seen. This one plopped into the water and swam across to my side of the dugout, just like a duck. It's small, about the size of a robin. If you click on the link you can see a photo and hear the sound it makes. There are few things I like more than leaving the window open at night and listening to it, and the frogs. Have I mentioned that I often fall asleep with a smile on my face?

This is the life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Violet, the previous owner, left these tulips under the oak trees

✿⊱╮I've been busy digging holes and digging up plants, moving them to new locations in order to reduce the area that needs weeding by hoe or hand. This morning I woke up stiff, but it can't all be blamed on the shovel. On the way into the hardware store the other day I saw a bike I wanted, and bought it. Scott picked it up yesterday and I took it for a short spin when he got it home. Stretched out some unused muscles, methinks. But it's dandy; the old-fashioned handlebars allow a restful ride rather than one that strains the neck and shoulders from leaning forward.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Violas are the first to pop up around the yard, everywhere, like weeds. Only better.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gorgeous Days

We both need a haircut.


Took my coffee onto the step after Scott woke me, and watched a pair of geese plus an interloper at the dugout — the pair doing a performance thing with their necks and heads, or maybe only sounding an alarm — and Everett joined me for a while, till I got him to dig three deep holes under the oaks and move three delphiniums over. So glad he is here to help me, because that job requires weight and strength I don’t have.

I’ve watered all the recently transplanted violas and the cosmo, calendula, bachelor button and wildflower seeds, and scattered the red poppy seeds along with zinnia seed from the year before last, which is unlikely to do anything but what the hell, never know.

Also watered yesterday’s greenhouse purchases: five green pepper plants and two packs of petunias. Marilou didn’t have portulaca, nicotiana or jalepenos for sale, and I forgot to look for a new rosebush while I was there (I've planted one in memory of Mom every spring since she ... went. It's hard to find a word I can stand to write). It looks like the five already here did not fare well over winter. They seem to have died back almost completely. Scott warns me the yard needs to be torn up so none of the existing flowerbeds are safe, and there's not much point in buying another bush this year. But I still want to.

And that’s my day so far. I’ve just sat down to work. Everett and I are going to town in a few hours to do laundry, pick up Emil for the long weekend, and buy groceries. Supper will need making and I'll want to do some hoeing, then get another hour’s paying work in tonight. We’ll see. The days seem particularly plump full when the sun is warm and calls me outdoors, if even only for short walks around the yard.


Almost forgot to give the farm report! I am such a bad "farm wife."
Scott's been in the field for the past two days; lots of tractors pulling equipment in the fields now. I do not know if they are cultivating, or harrowing. I think cultivating. Doesn't harrowing come after seeding?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skip Skip Skip to My Lu

Luanne prepares to drive home to Flin Flon

She suggested I hop into the passenger's seat and wave a breezy goodbye to my family as we headed out the driveway, but I managed with great effort to restrain myself.

We had a short but satisfying visit, only Friday to Saturday, but she had been away from home a week already so wanted to get back and have a day of rest before starting work on Monday.


Every spare moment is being spent outside, now, while the weather is welcoming. I've been transplanting violas, sowing flower seeds, and bossing Everett around — he hates gardening, he tells me. Can you blame him? Guess who has to fill the pots with a shovel and carry them around, and rake straw off the grass where the bale house for the dogs was, and do the turd tour.

He reports that there is one batch of newborn kittens in the attic of the tractor shed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One of the best things about farm living is you can throw a jacket on over your jammies and go for a walk in the morning sunlight.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Off and Running for Another Week

Last weekend: Scott holds the door for Emil, who's going "home" for the week

9:53 a.m.
Now that it's summer(ish)time, Emil gets his wish, which is to stay here at Golden Grain Farm till "after supper" on Sundays. We still need to get him back by nine, which is bedtime for the residents of the group home, and having him come in later would likely be disturbing for them.

Luanne hadn't seen Emil in person since he was six years old, so she wasn't prepared for the beard or the deep voice.

Someone in bed with me last night tossed and turned and moaned and groaned for hours; thus I may be due for a nap after work this afternoon. Right now the wind is pretty cool so the horseshoe remained leaning up against the house in the minutes before my morning coffee was poured, but with luck I'll be tackling another section of the flower garden later on today. Got one cleaned up yesterday; love that magic hoe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

During their stopover, which has lasted a week so far, this Canada goose pair suns together in the mornings on top of a muskrat house next to the dugout. The photo was taken from the back step; if I went closer, the geese would fly off pretty quickly. (Click to enlarge.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Summertime Summertime SumSumSummertime

Chocolate cake, from scratch

Today's warm and sunny, so we've been outside quite a bit -- except for Scott, who has a cold or flu again and is lying about, groaning. I hauled the plant pots from the brooderhouse to the hill of black soil, where they'll be filled, and transplanted perky little violas from the garden into pots under the oak trees out front. Emil walked around the yard for several hours and Everett and I lugged the garden swing from the barn to the shady spot where we hope to spend many leisurely hours this summer. He has swept out the camper and made up a bed out there, where the air will be drier than in his basement bedroom. And Skip-to-my-Lu, who spent last night with us, headed down the road toward Flin Flon around 1 o'clock, so should be safely home by now after her whirlwind tour of Winnipeg, Yorkton and Wadena.

I won't tell you how many engorged woodticks the kids picked off the dogs. It was a bloody killing field, I will say.

Two new species of ducks on the dugout this morning: a lesser scaup pair, and another we haven't identified yet.

Tomorrow, out comes the horseshoe hoe. I will be spending the day in the garden, liberating my perennials from the hordes of dandelions.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Child's Garden of Poetry


Lately I’ve been turning the TV on for a short time during the day to see what’s on Ellen Degeneres (who makes me laugh and/or get up and dance) or Oprah (winding down her 25-year talk show so may have some good ones – unfortunately there are still too many commercials throughout, so I rarely watch a whole show) or All My Children (also going off the air, so may for a change fairly feature some longtime characters, favourites of mine from the days when I’d sit down and watch the show in the afternoons while nursing Emil — twenty-some years ago).

Today I flipped through the channels while eating breakfast— whole wheat toast with leftover  egg salad — and when I’d find a title that seemed interesting, I’d click on it and find only a commercial. I’d sigh, and go back to the guide, where I start at channel 300 and work my way down the screen, up in numbers to the 600s. There I found A Child’s Garden of Poetry, which captivated me from the first moment. I cranked up the volume to cover the noise of the dehumidifier in the kitchen and of Everett clanging dishes around on the countertop, and watched, and listened — moved, and spoken to.

And I had some “profound revelations” at the same time. But then, that’s no surprise. Poetry will do that to you.

Look for the half-hour documentary on HBO. For more: click here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Busy Week Ahead

A horned grebe is out behind my house this morning; this is a first, for me; maybe it will nest here! (Photo from Eagle Wing Tours)

Yes, we live in a slough! as Scott says. But can't you see it's worth it?


Get out there and spoil your mothers, all of you, if you're still lucky enough to have one. Or a grandmother.
Or a mother-in-law. This is mine, in the light blue top, and beside her in the violet is her sister.

Kate, Pat, Ann, Leithe, Kathy (a.k.a.KateduNord)

I should be out with Scott and his mom and aunt, at the Mother's Day brunch in Kuroki, but instead I've decided to work for a few hours before I have to run out for the afternoon. Tomorrow we're driving Reta and Carl (my aunt and uncle) to Saskatoon to spend a day with friends before they fly back to Phoenix. This afternoon I have to take Emil to see them; they're staying at Neil and Rose's (my other uncle and aunt). A dear friend (Luanne) is coming Thursday and staying till Saturday. You can see I need to work ahead. Or, I do if I want to get paid. Or enjoy my time with friends and family. I could always pull off a power weekend after Luanne leaves, and will if I have to, but to have my work done in advance ... now that's the ticket to satisfaction. Though I must say, my work seems more inspired when I'm under pressure. That's when the brilliant ideas come, if any.

Yesterday afternoon the gals above (fondly called the Likeminded Ladies because of shared interests) dropped in for tea. They brought me a lovely potted plant, which I've got indoors because it's so damn cold out. When I walked them out to their vehicles after we nibbled on Everett's Chocolate Chews (he found a recipe on the internet for cookies without eggs or flour, and they turned out stellarly), a jacket was required. How do you like mine? Do I not look like a lumberjack? (Jean, your mom and dad gave me this jacket. I think they'd gotten it from Arty.)

All the women in the photo above are mothers.


When I was in my twenties I went to a concert at the Yorkton Exhibition. Tom Jackson was a guest or maybe the opening act, and Buffy Sainte-Marie was the main attraction. I don't remember anything about the concert except this one thing she said: "Every person on this planet must come here through the spirit of a woman." Something like that.


The local greenhouses opened this weekend. In this weather they won't get much of a turnout— doorprizes and draws or not— although many people I suppose are picking up a potted plant for their moms and grandmas.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Day

click on image to enlarge

I want to be outside, not in here at my desk. The window is open so I can hear the frogs and birds and feel the breeze. It’s a beautiful day.

As you can see, I got out. Everett and I walked as far as the ravine, which is where the road was washed out a week or two ago. These two Canada geese watched us and the dogs closely (and loudly, in the male's case); then as soon as we turned around and headed home, they took flight across the field.

For instance, "2012 is just the end of the biggest cycle of time that the Maya had. There was no association between the end of a cycle of time and the end of the world," he explained.
-CBC news story about an exhibition of Mayan artifacts coming to Canada: click here to read.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roads Washed Out All Over

People for some inexplicable reason drive around and over barricades, and damage signs.
A mile from home, on our way to Faye and Rick's for another Stellar Supper.

We went for a little drive around our area on Sunday afternoon and had to take a few detours.

The Wadena News came out today with loads of photos of the flooding in our district. I hadn't realized that there are families who've had to leave their homes, and one is even having its grocery supplies delivered by quad, as it's no longer possible to drive up to their farmhouse. Others are battling water that is trying to fill their basements; they're hauling out carpets, furniture and other stored items, and manning sump pumps till the wee hours. People are getting tired and more than a little worried about the cost of repairing everything. By comparison our family is sitting high and dry — as long as the pumps don't seize up.

Today it's cloudy and cold, after an early morning rain. Fingers are crossed and braided in hopes we don't get more precipitation.  
This farmer's field is now more of an island.

 I made an early run to town with Scott, to have a truck repaired before he headed off to work at my sister Karen's new Aurora Beach house, which he's drywalling. While we waited for the mechanic to finish, we took ourselves out for your basic prairie breakfast — toast, fried eggs, hashbrowns, sausage and/or bacon — and then visited the credit union, the post office, and a construction customer of Scott's. So I'm getting a late start to my working day, and had best get at it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Froggies are A-courtin' in My Backyard, Uh Huh

Before mating season is over, the volume will be twice as high in our yard. I love it. This short video was taken from our back step, just to give you a taste of ... frog heaven.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Cambodia - wants to buy two dairy cows

This is the lady I lent $25 to this morning.

My first Kiva loan of $25 went to this fellow, who paid it back in small increments— around $2 per month:
Paraguay - added onto his bakery

After he paid back the $25, I re-lent it to this lady:

Peru - makes and sells rope

From now on I'm going to make a $25 loan on the first day of each month.
Check out Kiva; it's an interesting way to give people a hand up instead of a hand-out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hooray Hooray

Joanne and Grace

Do you know what day it is? she says, with a smile in her voice.

Hooray, hooray, it's the first of May!
Outdoor screwing starts today!

Mom used to phone and remind Joanne every year on this date.