Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Down on the Farm

Still problems with sewage system ...  
the walk

late afternoon from the tractor shed (where the cats live)

pretty, isn't it. and so peaceful.

can't go wrong with flowers. they make me happy.

On this day one year ago, I had pulled out my quilt in hopes of getting it finished. I have not succeeded. It's been folded and sat on a sewing basket since spring.

Come along on a trip down Memory Lane?

Jan 2010

Guess I disappeared from the planet in January 2009.

Jan 2008

Jan 2007

Jan 2006

Jan 2005

Jan 2004

Jan 2003

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Homegrown Gal

Listen to her music here.

Belle Plaine's first CD was released yesterday.

Melanie Hankewich grew up near Fosston (about a half-hour north of here) and performed for a house concert in Wadena last year. Shadow House Concerts had secured the Good Luck Diner for a venue, and a few music lovers managed to squeeze in around Melanie's local family and friends who'd driven down for the evening's entertainment. Her bass player and a piano man accompanied her, and they too have connections in the area, so the place was packed.

We dined on delicacies smorgasbord-style, then tapped our toes while Melanie's sweet voice out-sugared the dessert.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Music-loving Bird

If you're not a bluegrass fan (what's the matter with you?), stick it out anyway till around the three-minute mark for proof of my theory that birds appreciate our music as much as we love theirs.

Thanks to Marilyn at Nag on the Lake for bringing this video to my attention.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

College Boy

Email from Gord, Everett's dad:
College Boy; see attached.

Return email:
Awwwww... he's so cute....
first haircut since August?

Email from Gord:
Well about a week ago he cut his own hair . Looked like a total doufus. I should've taken a picture . You would have died laughing. So when I suggested to take him for a cut today there was no hesitation. Shoes and coat on in record time.

Email from Everett:
You asked about my classes a while ago, so here is me finally giving you a list of what I'm taking this semester.

Video Production Techniques
Visual Design Development
Audio Production Technology
Organizational Behaviour
Production Planning Process

Six classes. That is three less than I started off with in the first semester. It's going fine for the moment. Sorry I was late telling you about it, but I have work to do in between leisurely activities. Er, I mean, I have fun things to do in between doing work. Yeah, that's it.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Canine Courtship

Loverboy wears his courtin' coat

Jenna Doodle, 10 years old, not spayed, has never had pups or been pregnant, and appears to be in heat again. Let us hope she continues to remain infertile and that, in the event of a miracle, no male dogs wander over; pups, we don't need.

Ducky Doodle, who has been neutered, is serious about making whoopee with her anyway. He is keeping a close eye on her and currying her favour. Nothing can come of it, thank dog.

The photo above was taken several days ago, when the mercury was very low, maybe 30 below. Ducky was cold but didn't want to go inside.

Then yesterday I donned my ski pants, balaclava and layers of warm clothing, as I'd been doing for the past week, and set out down the road. Before I'd gone 10 minutes it was necessary to whip off the balaclava, unzip the jacket and remove my mitts. It's like spring. There's been rain.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Giving Thanks

An uplifting music video by Tamara Podemski, the younger sister of Canadian actor Jennifer Podemski. Jennifer appears in Sarah Polley's film Take This Waltz and has been in all kinds of stuff. Remember her in Moccasin Flats and The Rez?

Tamara is in a location where there is so much poverty and struggle, yet she appreciates the tree and the friendly faces and the plain old joy of walking down the street feeling great.

Monday, January 23, 2012

103-yr-old Lady and Bold Fox

103 candles would've set off the smoke alarm

After a nice visit and potluck supper at Scott's grandmother's with his immediate family, we swung back to Wadena to take Emil to the group home for his week's work. While passing the Co-op service station on the busiest corner in town, Scott spotted a red fox between the gas pumps and the front doors; it was stood looking through the glass at the people inside. Because of the darkness and distance I was unable to get a decent photo, but we did drive closer and watch it eat something it found in the parking lot next to the building before our approach finally scared it off.

It's not that unusual to see wild animals in town; we hear reports of deer and coyotes, and Emil and I were once close up to a moose (man they've got long legs!). But this little guy's moxie was a bit unnerving, mostly because rabid animals are brave this way, thus possibly dangerous.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whipped Shortbread


Yesterday I made a batch of whole wheat cake doughnuts. Not many left, as you can see. I had two for breakfast, with my coffee. They're 75% healthy, if you don't count the oil they were fried in. Right? Oh, all right, but once in a blue moon ... anything's allowed.

Scott is going to see his friend Floyd tomorrow. Floyd lives in a nursing home in Yorkton; they've been buddies since their high school days. Last time I took whipped shortbread to Floyd, he said they were "the best thing I've tasted in my life." That was a few years ago, when he still lived in Wadena.

I make them small, a scant teaspoonful of dough, so you can pop them in your mouth and there won't be another crumbly half to make a mess. Also, Floyd has only one hand to use; not that it makes any difference I suppose. However, here's where I'm looking for ideas from all you experienced cooks out there. I'd like these cookies to look nice as well as melt in your mouth. Do you think a pastry cone would work? Would the dough be soft enough to go through it?


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Books are Dangerous

Another link from Everett, who says, "Ian's mom is a pretty great character. Don't you agree?"

Yes, I do agree. Mwa ha ha ha ha! POOF!

I have been watching these two characters, Anthony and Ian, fairly regularly since Everett discovered their little vignettes. It is one of the many sacrifices a mother must make to keep the lines of communication open with her teenagers. Sigh.

Is anyone else who knows my niece Danielle reminded of her when they see Anthony? I think it's his haircut; she has the same one.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Phone Calls

Waves, frozen
We've got a friend we call Rick, and my sister Karen is married to a gentleman we call Dick. Both men's given names are actually Richard, and this has had Emil puzzled. It is plausible to him that Rick is derived from Richard, but Dick? That just didn't make sense, and I couldn't explain it to his satisfaction.

Emil phones me every night now for a chat.
"Did anyone come over today?"
"Have you had any company this week?"
"Rick and Faye came over to your place on Saturday."
That's right. They came for supper.
"Did you have a nice time when they came over?"
Yes, very.
"Rick's real name is Richard."
That's right.
"Dick is also a short form of Richard."
Mm hm; that's true.
Then he reels off the following, so fast the words run together:
"R-I-C-K spells Rick and that's a short form of Richard and you can just take the R away and put the D there and you have Dick, so that works! That's what Auntie Karen told me and she's right!"
He repeats this speedy spiel a couple times in spite of my acknowledgement and agreement, till finally I get exasperated and say I heard you the first three times!
He's coming out this weekend; Scott will pick him up when his working day near town is done. Emil is looking forward to the new Lorax movie that is being made. He still loves Dr Seuss.

Scott just phoned.
"Have you ever heard of blood oranges?"
I pause; the words "blood diamond" flash through my mind, but no. Why?
"I picked up oranges at the store and just opened one up; it's red inside."
We know nothing more but he says it tastes fine.
"Did Jenna go outside again?" he asks.
Jenna is our border collie/shepherd cross; she is 10 years old, and although she has long thick fur and an insulated doghouse with a flap of carpet over the door, we've invited her into the porch the last few nights because it's been so cold.
"The first thing she did when I let her out this morning was roll in the snow," he says.
For the past three days before rising (Scott gets up long before me and lets her out) she's sat on the south side of the house, howling.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This Balaclava Was Made for Walkin'

My response to Sheena's balaclava photo on her blog
I'm not the only one out there in this weather; check out the Treaty Walks blog, where a Ft Qu'Appelle teacher is hoofin' it to school every morning: click here. Have a look at some of her "popular posts." Here's a good one. And here.

One of the hardest things about my walks was getting out there regularly in the first place; I'd always enjoyed walks, but only when I felt like it, and the walks were leisurely, not brisk, and there was no minimum time requirement. Now that I've got myself relatively disciplined — I'm going, and that's that for that — the hurdle du jour is that I sometimes get a bit bored while walking. My route varies between the same two every second day because I can turn either north or south at the end of the driveway; but one thing I don't like is going a mile, then re-tracing my steps. Wish I could go in a circle. But I'll have to walk through fields (hard on the ankles) or walk six miles, if I do. Not ready for that yet.

Thinkin' maybe an Mp3 player or iPod might be a nice change once in a while from my own thoughts.

When I get back into the house, there are a few moments of claustrophobia when I can't get all this extra clothing off fast enough.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What If?

Yesterday the sky was blue at the beginning of my walk, and darkening by the time I got back to our yard.

Everyone's talking about the cold snap; finally we've got "real" winter, with 35-below on the thermometer and the weatherfolks on the radio saying "Feels like 45 below, with the wind chill. Exposed skin will freeze in five minutes."

I haven't found it so terrible as they're saying, though it's crisp all right. I walked my usual two miles yesterday, and cut it down to slightly more than a mile today because it was windier. Yesterday I walked backwards quite a ways to reduce the biting wind in my face. Balaclava or no, the air can still sting.

Scott and I went to a lunch seminar this week to get information about retirement investing. The presentation projected possible income over the long term; and of course it would be easy to make investment decisions if you knew when you were going to die. I thought, "How would I handle my money if I knew exactly how long I had to live? What if I could know that I had, say, only five years left? What would I do differently?"

It would be wise to ponder that question seriously and not let it go till I've answered it. More likely I'll forget about it in a day or two. What about you? Do you take stock of your life in a serious way or do such thoughts flit through your head for a short time and simply disappear?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Vintage Photo at Pavilion Beach

From left to right: Julius Bohl, Elmer Braaten, Marion Otterdahl, Evelyn Bohl, Alvin Stenbeck, Laura Stenbeck, Edna Johnson, John Johnson. 

What Joanne remembers and has told her daughter Tammy:
“This picture would have been taken in probably 1958 or thereabouts. It was taken at a lake, so probably was at the Pavilion Beach. Aunt Laura and Edna Johnson had bathing suits on. My mom had her purse on her arm as always (like Sophia from the Golden Girls!). There would have been a wiener roast for supper."
 Grandpa Otterdahl took the picture: Dad says that was probably the day there is footage on my dad's home movies of Grandpa Bohl in my dad's boat. Grandpa Bohl did not like water and he seems pretty stiff on the video!”

My grandparents are Edna and John, on the far right. I'm said to be Edna's spittin' image, and in this picture I can almost see it, except for her darker hair. - K., a.k.a. Stubblejumpin' Gal

Thanks  for  posting  the  picture  on  your  blog ..... You  really  are  a  lot  like  Edna...even  moreso  in  your  "ways " !!! Very  special  ladies .

I don't have many memories of her since I was only 6 when she died, but of the few, there is one of her doing her hair while seated in front of one of those fancy little dressers with the mirrors that all the ladies had. Grandma's bedroom was in the middle of their house, which I still remember of course in a lot of detail, as I spent so many winter afternoons there, playing cards with Grandpa and drinking hot chocolate.

Looking forward to the next one,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Men are from Sears: Women are from Bloomingdale's

Paintings by Louise M., which I somehow did not save in a decent size.  

Fantastic program today on Under the Influence; if you didn't catch this, I hope you get a chance to listen to it:

The item is called "Men are from Sears: Women are from Bloomingdale's."
Click below to go to the page; you can subscribe to the podcast free.


Their entry into the subject is a description of the way shopping styles differ between men and women, but the show goes far beyond that into the ways men and women perceive and organize the world they live in. "When you take evolution into consideration, when you account for biology, and when you analyze those differences, it really does demystify the behaviour." It goes deeper than simply stereotyping gender behaviour; it digs into the territory of understanding, respecting and valuing it.

I cranked the radio up loud so it could easily be heard in every room of the house as I dusted, moved furniture, swept and tidied.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stop My Waffling? I Think Not.

It may be hard to believe that at my age and after many pancake breakfasts, this is the first waffle I've ever made. And well should you not believe it, because this is actually the second one. The first one went straight down my neck, slathered in Shelly's homemade apple jelly. And was it ever delicious; I'll be getting into the habit, even though they're more pain in the ass to make than flapjacks.

We are still basking in near-zero temperatures so, on days like today when there's no wind, my walk is perfectly pleasant (I must ask Yukon Pete how he keeps warm on a dogsled, assuming he's stationary there, in the North's deeper cold. Even wearing fur ... Perhaps there's less wind so it's not so bad?) and, if I didn't have things to do, I'd add another mile to the usual two.

But we're looking forward to friends coming for supper this evening, so I'm going to tidy up the hovel, beautify myself, and make squares: Helen's Pink Lady Dessert. Making these always reminds me of our good neighbours back when we lived in Legal, who treated us like family and became fast friends. I'll take a stroll down memory lane while measuring and mixing.

Poor old Scottie, today, is messing around with the sewer pump when he had hoped to be doing his part in the kitchen. I know, I know ... with a new septic tank installed just a couple months ago, all that crap is supposed to be over with ... oh well, at least he's not slipping and sliding along the edge of a lagoon, and it's not 30-below. Yet. We hear forecasts that it's coming this week.

If I'm lucky, it'll all work out in the end (oh my but the puns are flying fast and furious aren't they) and I'll be soaking in a tub of warm water while he's peeling potatoes and preparing his specialty: stuffed mushrooms. Fingers crossed.

The chicken's already roasting slowly and smells divine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dim Bulbs

Might  just leave the Xmas lights up all year
We've got a lot to say, don't we? We say it with enthusiasm and conviction. Other people believe us, because we believe our own words. Often they don't give much thought to what we've said before they accept it as truth, and we too accept other people's versions of reality without any examination at all. We're a bunch of sheep who don't want to think too hard, and we make up our minds without digging up all the information needed to make a balanced and fair judgment.

There is no better example of this than the comments pages at the bottom of internet news stories. If you want to see how ignorant and uneducated your fellow citizens are, take a gander. You will be shocked at the low level of intelligence displayed there. I'm guessing that most people with brains don't bother leaving comments at these sites, or waste their time reading the comments.

"But we must have discussion and free speech!" the newspaper editors say, and they're right, we must. It's just that there is some discussion and free speech that lowers the level of exchange so far that it's not really discussion at all; it's no more than providing a forum for opinionated blowhards to spread their contempt and hatred for others. They're given a soapbox to stand on and wave their self-righteous know-it-all flags, when clearly they don't have a friggin' clue.

Many of my friends and family say I'm outspoken and direct, and to a point I am; I won't, to keep the peace, agree or go along with something I'm sure is wrong, and if you're obnoxiously out of line there is every possibility I will say so rather than keeping my mouth shut to avoid a confrontation. But not always; not anymore. I may think someone is a total twit, but don't necessarily feel any need to say so. I've come to believe "It's more important to be kind than to be right" and I'd rather feel sorry for a fool in private than correct him in public. The effort to assert my opinion isn't always worth it. More often than not, engaging with a jerk just opens you up to abuse, and who needs that? What is to be gained? I've learned to choose my battles in many ways, and not to waste my energy talking when others are not really listening and when it isn't going to make a damn bit of difference. Even when people bait me, as some have been known to do, I just don't bother. I let it slide. They're welcome to their beliefs and as long as I don't see anyone being hurt, I'll usually stay out of it.

In the past I've tried to make myself understood, even when it was unlikely a person would even hear what I was saying, let alone agree with me. I've begun to think that being understood is overrated, and that if I continue to care about being understood, I will continue to be disappointed. None of us can comprehend beyond our own open- or close-mindedness, our inability to face our shortcomings (fears, blindness and weaknesses) honestly, and our refusal to admit we don't know everything and that — gasp — we have not only been wrong, but we have acted like dickheads. (I cringe to recall times I have spoken or acted with self-righteous conviction without realizing there were other, better, wiser options.)

There are articulate people who can respond to an asshole in such a way that the logic of their reaction is unassailable. I wish I was one of those people, but I'm not. I don't think fast enough. I usually hear a crock of shit and sit there frozen in my disbelief that anyone could say such a ridiculous thing. I don't know what to say, or how to say it in a sensible way that makes an impact, and so I say nothing, and I don't pursue conversation with the other person any longer.

I recognized a like-minded individual a while ago when he was interviewed on CBC radio about his book called You Are Not So Smart, which is all about the phenomenon of human self-delusion. His website is here.

Friday, January 6, 2012


My new hat has ear flaps and ties under my chin

A neighbour pulled up alongside while I was out walking yesterday, and laughingly said "You look like an old babuschka in that hat!" I laughed right back and said "I don't care how I look, I'm warm!" When we were in the city overnight for a medical appointment before Christmas, I must've stood out on the downtown streets with my ski pants, sorel boots, and jacket with hood pulled up and scarf wrapped around my throat. I know I did, because I saw so many freezing-cold women hurrying along the sidewalks wearing short skirts with leotards, little leather jackets, and thin boots with heels. They looked stylish enough ... if shivering, clenched teeth and miserable faces count as stylish. Ah, but I've been there, done that ... oh yes. Why, when I was 15 and my parents gave me a skidoo suit for Christmas, I believe I crept down to my room and wept! And the skidoo suit went back to the Sears catalogue. I wouldn't have been caught dead in that thing, and of course wasn't smart enough to heed anyone who advised me to dress warmly. I have been a stubborn learner all my life. Heh!

Another thing I now wear that I never thought I would: this apron Mom sewed up for me:

By cracky, it really DOES keep my clothes clean and unstained! Now that I've been lugging clothing to a laundromat for a year, these things matter.

Also, whenever I put it on, I think of Mom.
I also think of her while I'm working at the countertop, playing my new Cds:

She said it's not a great voice that is the most important thing, it's the choice of a good song, and I agreed with this yesterday as I sang and danced around the kitchen while listening to Madeleine Peyroux. Hers is not a voice I particularly like — as a matter of fact, I might actually dislike her voice a little — but I love the songs on the CD.

Here's a sample from the CD; click here:

Don't Wait Too Long

I mean really, doesn't it make your own toes start tapping? Don't you start yodelling?

However, it's still Melody Gardot's simple songs — and the sweetest voice that sings them so, so perfectly — that never fail to make me amorous. I swear, Scott is not safe when her CD is on the player:

Click here: Baby I'm a Fool:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bye Bye Birdcats

Rescued redpoll at rest

Still having problems with birds slamming into the windows. I haven't ordered the zen windowsavers (see above) because Scott has an idea for something similar he can make himself; it's waiting for him to do it that is the problem now. Yesterday a redpoll died instantly when it hit the glass; I went out to make sure the dog didn't get it, but it was too late, it had bled from the beak and was dead.

We thought maybe if I turned on the flashing Christmas lights hung on the window, even during the day, that might do the trick. But no; the redpoll above flew into the glass anyway. Fortunately it was only sitting in the snow stunned when I got to it, and after perching where I set it on the feeder for 15 minutes or so, it flew off.

Last week a hairy woodpecker hit the window and by the time I got out there one of the tomcats had it, still alive, in his mouth and was making a dash for the tractor shed to kill and eat it. I didn't try to get the bird from him at this point, as a quick death would be better for it, I figured, than being injured and in shock if and when I could catch the cat and extricate the bird from his deadly jaws. My heart sank, though, and remained low for quite a while, and sinks each time I recall the scene.

Which is why I was more than happy when a neighbour whose barn needs mousers came yesterday and took the two yearling tomcats home with her. I miss them, friendly fellas that they were, but I don't miss seeing them under my oak trees stalking the birds at the feeders or quickly snatching them up when they hit the window and fall stunned to the ground.

In appreciation of her new cats, my neighbour brought me 18 of her hens' most beautiful eggs, two of which made me a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs this morning.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Letter from Sifeta

Sifeta's husband and cow

Dear friend,

I felt so honored when I got your letter. I have read it several times. It's nice to know you have a farm. I have a cow, 10 hens, and six sheep and some land.

My husband and I live alone and our son is in Zenica. He often visits us and he helps us financially because we only have 80 marks of income and it can't even cover the bills. Our country is much disorganized when it comes to paying social welfare and pensions.

I live in Zavidovici which is filled with natural wealth. We have many forests with oaks, pines, hornbeams, maples, etc.

We used to have a big sawmill and wood factory called Krivaja. This company was named after the river Krivaja which goes through Zavidovici. Besides this one we also have other rivers like Gostovic and Bosna. These rivers form an estuary at the entrance in the town and at the exit. This is why our town is filled with natural rivers and fish.

The sawmill used to employ between 2 and 3 thousand people but it is closed now.

As I am writing this letter my granddaughters Amra (14) and Amela (10) walk though the door. They live in Luxembourg but they are visiting Bosnia with father Ramiz and their mother Sabina. They will go back to Luxembourg on September 10th.

My entire family and I would like to send greetings to you and your family! My granddaughters saw your photos and they loved the dog. I also have a dog here and they enjoy playing with it. We have named him Sniffy.

Best regards from Sifeta!

Sifeta making potato cakes

I received this translated letter just before Christmas (so am particularly glad we have now made a connection via email), and Sifeta has given me her permission to share it with you.
Unfortunately my scanner no longer works (since an update to my Mac OS, neither it or the printer will go online) so I can't show you the letter in its original language.