Monday, October 31, 2011

Frightening Fun

My sister Joan and her husband Gary, above (he's impersonating a Scottish hooker and she's got up as Reagan, the possessed child in The Exorcist), had their annual Halloween party this weekend. Go have a look at some of their guests... mooah-ah-ah-ah ... click here.

Haunted Houses

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

For more Longfellow, click here. Don't ask me why  Blogger is f'ing up the poem's formatting and ignoring the simple html I put in to fix it. Can't win, apparently.
Thanks, Barbara, for posting this poem where I could see it!

Also, thanks to Marshall for posting this link to a POLAR BEAR CAM!
Click here

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Moi in Hand-Me-Down Sweater

Joan, to avoid itching I'm wearing the short-sleeved brown wool sweater [you gave me] over a sleeveless brown top with a lacy bodice edging.

Still haven't figured out how to get a decent photograph with the iMac's 'Photobooth' function. It always messes up the lighting for me.

We had a little skiff of snow yesterday. Also, just missed being in a car accident by the skins of our noses. More on that later.

Check out Marion's description of the UFOs she's been seeing lately ... click here. I haven't been that kind of lucky, but was still quite dazzled by the northern lights on Monday and came across this FB photo taken by a gentleman in Saskatoon. I hope he won't mind my posting it here.
Photo by Colin Chatfield
If you are a person who has never seen the northern lights, I feel sorry for you. Honestly, they can be breathtaking. The colour can be more intense than what you see in the picture above, and they move around the sky. It's hard to explain, but let me try: straight beams of colour sometimes cascade across the sky like searchlights tagging, then overtaking, each other ... it can look like the curtain of the most grandiose stage opening and closing ....

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Treasure Brought Home

Great-Great Aunt Alma's dishes

These dishes were given by Mom's Great-Aunt Alma to my grandmother, who passed them along to Mom, who proudly displayed them in her kitchen or dining room, always.

After Mom's passing and some time had gone by, Dad packed up a few of Mom's things for her daughters. There were three sets of old dishes; one for each of us. Karen received a set that had belonged to our Great-Great Aunt Alma, who was a nurse and travelled enough to pick up such luxuries from various places in Europe. She was single till middle-age and had no children, which might explain how she could afford nice things while her sister, my great-grandmother, on the farm here in Saskatchewan, could not.

 Dad brought me a set that belonged to his mother and was on the head table at his and Mom's wedding. They are a Princess Anne set, cream-coloured with gold edging, including every possible piece: platters, jugs, soup tureen with lid, and so on. They're displayed on the top shelves of two adjacent, doorless kitchen cabinets.

 But I think it was this set, the mottoware, that we all loved the best. I know I did. Yet we all had the impression that Joan would like to have it, and that was fine with us. Dad held onto it for her. If Karen and I wept, it was in private. (Heh.) Fortunately for me, Joan has decided she has no place to display these dishes, and so I brought them back with me from Kelowna. Karen also has no place to put them at the moment, so I did not have to armwrestle her. They're mine! For now. For we all know that one day they must go to someone else in the family, to be loved and cared for and shown off. In the meantime, where to put them?

On top of the fridge
And on top of Grandma Johnson's china cabinet
I think of Mom every time I look at them. And I love to think of Mom.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Email to Everett

You can see right through the caraganas at the edge of the front lawn now that most of their leaves have fallen. Yesterday morning I heard Scott knocking on the window before he opened the front door.
 "You get out of here! Git!" 
He said a coyote walked right down the middle of the driveway, then between the van and truck parked in front of the quonset, and straight toward the tractor shed where the cats live — as if it knew right where to go for breakfast. 

The other day the dogs and I were walking back from the north when an animal came out of our yard and went into the ditch on the other side of the road. I thought it was one of the cats, till it crossed the road again and I could see its fluffy tail. It then walked in our direction, not seeing us. I managed to get this picture before it noticed and dashed into the bush beside our house. It was a fox ... also scouting for cats, I bet. 

Didn't see Alice Cooper today or yesterday, or Misha. Hope they're just out hunting and make it back safely. 

We have about 10 cats out there and if someone indicates they've a friend looking for a cat, I can't imagine parting with even one of them. Each one comes for a cuddle, now, whenever I go out. It can be short and sweet but they're not happy till they get their due. 

Fall Colours

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fick and Raye

Hm, funny! Usually this pair will ham it up for the camera, but on Saturday they were being shy as they made their way down the steps after a night of drinking and debauchery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Good Shat

With gratitude to Scott's sister Tanya and to the person in the vehicle who suggested she call (I owe you), here is the message left on our answering machine last night while I was away from the phone:

"It's Tanya; we're on our way to Saskatoon and maybe you can see it too... the northern lights are in the southern sky!"

I threw on a jacket, stepped into shoes and went out on the step to be astounded by aurora borealis in every direction, including straight above. I went down the steps to the lawn where I could see past the house to the southeast ... and the lights, pale green everywhere else, were bright red!

I have never seen this before. It made me think of Mom, who had seen the northern lights red once. Quite a display.

If you've never seen the northern lights, you are missing something. Hie thee to the north country and see them before you die. They are one of the wonders of the world.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Damn Their Hides

What was a road lightly treed on the west, my regular walking route (you've seen plenty of photos), looked like this when we returned. It was a bit of a shock.

Yep. Just beyond this mess are the two driveways that lead into our yard.

Supposedly some of this carnage, which includes ditching, will help drain water away from our property, so I oughtn't to howl (considering the moisture problems we've had since we bought the place). The rest of the destruction might keep the road from blocking in with snow during the winter, and perhaps it will give the landowner an extra acre or two to put into crop.

What can I say. Maybe it's for the best, and maybe it isn't, but I still hate it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rosie and the Riveters

Great concert in Wadena last night. Four-part harmonies; what's not to love. Talented women, these.

There is always a break halfway through, where squares and coffee, tea and juice are served. This is the band's opportunity to sell some of their CDs, and of course everyone snacks and chats.

Seated at a long table in the church basement, next to the young lady on the far right, I was sipping tea and nibbling on a butter tart when someone brought over her CD for an autograph. When she opened it up for signing I noticed the singer's full name inside. "You're Alexis Normand?" I said. "I heard you on CBC radio not long ago and thought 'I've got to get her CD.' I even sat bolt upright to write your name down so I wouldn't forget. I'll take one of those!"

Quel surprise.

Beside her is Melissa Nygren, whose mom Shirley was raised on a farm near Wadena. Shirley is the cousin of a gal my age (Cindy T.) who was our neighbour on the farm, so we knew each other as teenagers. I haven't seen her forever, but she's become an accomplished artist and lives in Saskatoon, where Rosie and the Riveters drove out from.

Farideh, with the guitar, was in the One Human Family Gospel Workshop with me last fall. And the lady beside her hails originally from Australia, but found the 100% humidity where she lived too much to bear because it kept her indoors in the air conditioning all the time.

Their website is HERE, where you will find a link that allows you to listen to their music.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Visit with Shelly

After looking in on Everett in Edmonton for a couple hours, we drove out to Shelly's new place (well, three years since she bought it) and spent a day there before hitting the dusty trail home.

She and Scott had several conversations about various things; I forget just what, now. Why something didn't work, how to fix it, possible solutions, and so on. She took him downstairs where her industrial sewing machine is and doctored up a couple items for him, and he made an adjustment to the glass door of her fireplace so that it closed properly for the first time since she moved there. (Aside to Maggie Polito: She screamed when he did it in less than 30 seconds!) Till we arrived she'd kept it closed for three years by leaning a log against the handle rather than paying the minimum $1200 estimated by a fireplace professional for the new insert it absolutely needed. (Bastards!)

Whatever I added, she wasn't sure whether to believe it or not; I have seen this expression many, many times since we met more than 30 years ago:

A fearless do-it-yourself'er, she described some of her problems around the house and yard to the general contractor, who listened carefully and then offered his two cents:

As my sister Karen once said to me with a grin, "Kathy, he doesn't know everything!"
I know he doesn't know everything (thank god; he's cocky enough already), but dammit, he knows a lot of stuff. Guess he should, after being in the construction business for 30 years or more, and growing up on a farm before that. Farm boys know why things aren't working, and how to make them work.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giant Rocks & Sundry

Let's get all these mountain pictures out of the way.

I think these are called Three Sisters:

Neither of us could remember this passage blasted through the rock, from our last trip:

You'd think it would be hard to forget:

One of the unnerving things about driving through the Rockies are the signs:
"Avalanche Area, No Stopping Next 900 Metres."
Then you see great hunks of rock sitting on the shoulder of the highway.

We only saw one elk, and couldn't get a good picture. Considering my sister's husband raises elk, it's not hard to see them any time we want, so I didn't try terribly hard. This fellow was making the road his own; we took photos from inside the truck:

More sights on our travels through Alberta:

One of Scott's many great-nieces; look at that sweet little dress
Shelly, with the Welcome thingy she bought at Mallard Industries when she was here in September

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Through the Rockies

A heavy dread settles on my chest whenever we approach the Rocky Mountains. They are just so massive — so — so — formidable.

Nevertheless, I can't help but be impressed by the sheer size of them. There is no way my camera can do them justice. Also, I'm snapping these from our moving vehicle, through the window.

Scott can't resist telling, yet again, the story of his cousin Alex who came from England to visit and planned to walk through the mountain range from Banff to Jasper. As if he'd actually come out the other side ... no, no, only his bones would be found. If even those. Scott gets such a kick out of this, because obviously English mountain ranges are nothing like these.

At the end of the drive, in Kelowna, I get to see my littlest sister Joan and her family, and Dad and Grace, and our friends Roy and Gloria, and that's as many as we can comfortably fit in, in two days and three nights.

Can you tell Joan and I are sisters?

We spent hours on two afternoons sorting through Dad and Mom's photographs, as he is paring down his possessions and lightening his load.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Think I'll Go Out to Alberta

Somewhere around Drumheller (photo by Scott, who has a thing for falling-down barns)

Somewhere around Calgary

The boys're cookin' (Scott and son Gunnar)

Sheryne, puppy whisperer, with Leo on the way to his new home at my sister Joan's

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Little Gift from Heaven

Babyface, you've got the cutest little babyface.
I have never forgotten babysitting Kendra's mom, my cousin Heather. I was about 19 if I'm not mistaken (weren't you with me, Shelly?) when we stayed with her on the farm one Halloween night while my aunt and uncle were out kicking up their heels. If I recall correctly some of the local fellas nailed plywood over the doors as a "trick." Anyhoo, Heather was around the same age as little Kendra here and was the sweetest, happiest, smilingest baby I'd ever seen, or have since. Look at her there, still grinning!

Tomorrow we're off for a week's holiday to visit the rellies in Alberta and BC. This has reminded me of The Awful Fate of Melpomenus Jones. You can read about it by clicking here. We’ll avoid his end, and torturing our family and friends, by sticking with my carefully planned itinerary.

Joanne, I’ll be checking email while we’re away, so keep sending me your blog entries; I expect to be able to post them every day. Who knows, I may even manage to write up an entry or two myself.

Stalking the Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron considers whether to stay or go.

Notoriously shy, if you slow your vehicle down too much when driving past, the heron will flap off. I walk past it every day and it won't stand still and let me admire it. You'd think it might get used to me a little. Stuckup bird. I was a passenger in the truck on Sunday and managed to snap this one at a distance. It's a pretty huge bird; I'm awed every time I see it.

Today the wind blew me halfway across the road a couple times. It wasn't too cold, thankfully, so my walk wasn't bad, but that wind, wow.

Regarding The Discovery of Slowness, by Sten Nadolny: "Arctic explorer John Franklin, a man whose natural pace of living and thinking is portrayed as that of an elderly sloth after a long massage and a pipe of opium. Franklin is mocked as a child, but when he reaches the Far North he finds the environment perfectly suited to his nature: a place where one takes one's time, where very little happens, and where it is important to stop and think before rushing into action." - from How to Live, or A Life of Montaigne in 20 Questions (or something). This made me think of Everett, who moves like molasses but always gets where he's going.

Now if I could just figure out a way to get that damn heron to stay put.

I had the best surprise this afternoon when my cousin Heather stopped in with her beautiful six-month-old daughter. Work? Out the window, while I kissed the baby and jabbered with her mom. Photo of her lovely little face tomorrow; tonight, my bed is calling mee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quick 'n' Dirty

It takes concentration to mow the lawn for the last time in the season.
Still no siding on the shack, but at least our minds are finally made up about the colour. It will be a pale yellow. That is, if we get it purchased before we change our minds again.

Well peeps, I was just about to climb into bed to read when I remembered no entry had yet been made today. So I'll carry on in that ever-so-pleasurable direction, and leave you with links to some other webpages worth reading.

Joanne at Trinkets and Tales is new to blogging, and has posted a poem about the changing landscape of Saskatchewan due to the re-watering of the province. You can read it here, and when you do, leave her a comment for encouragement. We all like to know someone is reading.

On the other end of the country, Shifting Landscapes is an entry about long friendships and how they are nourished and maintained— if and when they are. We aren't all good at keeping the lines of communication open, but it's usually worth it when we do.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Beasts I Have Seen

These two yearlings think they're dogs and should come along on my walks.

Usually they don't get far. They complain as they begin to lag behind, then give up, wait in the tall grass of the ditch until my return, and accompany me back into the yard as if they've been along the whole way. Alice, the orange one on the right, has turned out to be a male; he's now Alice Cooper.


Back when I first started reading online journals, now called blogs, there was a gal who rode her bicycle to work. She called herself Firedrake or somesuch, and her entries always included a listing of the roadkill she'd seen on the highway. I wonder where that woman ended up, if she's still blogging somewhere, whether she still bikes and keeps track of the carnage along the way.

I have spared you any snapshots of the roadkill I pass on my walks. Right now there's a dead racoon that the magpies and other wildlife have only recently discovered; for the first week or two it lay there stinking to high heaven and I wondered why it remained untouched. I couldn't walk there with the dogs, for the stench. After the smell went away, we did stroll past the body and Buck Duckster III, a.k.a. Ducky the Incorrigible Deerfaced Chihuahua, immediately made as if to roll on it. I called him off and he listened, but having turned back and walked past it a few minutes later, I didn't think to keep an eye on the brat until I heard a strange squeaking and sure enough Ducky was having a heyday on the dead creature, and I guess his weight was forcing air out of it or something. You can imagine how much we enjoyed having the Duckster on our laps that night. 

Also dead on the road is a little gopher, face-up. I can't figure out what is taking the scavenger animals and birds so long to find these bodies. There were also a lot of dead garter snakes during the hot weeks of late summer, run over by vehicles. Maybe they come out onto the gravel road because it helps them shed their skins? I found a complete snake skin one day, from head to toe, or end, or whatever.

And then come September these little brown and black caterpillars appeared all over the road. I'm constantly sidestepping them.

A little internet research indicates that they are woolly bear caterpillars, out looking for a good place to hibernate. See here for more information.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to Vanquish the Blues

The south entrance to our yard

In the night or first thing in the morning, before I'm fully awake, I sometimes feel a lonely hopeless emptiness, as if there’s no lasting meaning or value in life, as if all our efforts and struggles come to naught anyway— we die, our loved ones die, we aren't that important to anyone— but the other night Scott had been out of bed and when he came back I asked if he was all right and he said he was having trouble breathing, was stuffed up, and I put a comforting hand on him and he laid one on me— and that lonely emptiness disappeared.

Is that all it takes? A gentle concern for someone else, and their wordless appreciation of it, to vanquish the blues?

For a laugh and a lift, go read Brainie's poem today at Stubblejumpers Cafe. Click here.