Saturday, March 31, 2012

Scared a Moose, Scared a Moose, Saw Her Do the Fandango!

Mismatched pair: Jenna and Ducky Doodle

Walked yesterday to the south corner of our road and, having turned around, relieved to finally have the strong wind at my back, I noticed a large dark patch in the trees about 150 feet away. Looking more closely, the figure of a cow moose came clear; she was standing still, watching me. I stopped and reached for the camera in my pocket, and when I did so she ambled away.
I was disappointed, but also happy and grateful to have seen her.

So you only get a picture of the dogs.
And a perverted cultural reference in the title that perhaps most of you won't "get" ... I come up with these a lot and many people just look at me, wondering what I'm on about. (Queen, anyone? Anyone? I think this little snippet of the song came to me because yesterday on Facebook I watched a video of a drunken man in the back of a police car, singing that particular Queen song at the top of his lungs, out of tune. Thank you Colin Mochrie for sharing that; it was a laugh). Yes I "shared" it -- if you're not connected to me on FB yet, look me up: this should help you find the right one, for there are a thousand of us with the same name.

I’ve been up since before six — went to bed about 9:30 last night, tired, but that didn't mean I could fall asleep for several hours — managed to hear some of Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap on CBC radio in between dozings, and was as usual impressed by the way he points out things I’ve never heard before in songs, giving me a whole new appreciation for the artistry of musicians. His is truly a great show. If you've never listened to it, git thee hence.

Unfortunately the link to the show's page isn't going where it ought; instead it goes to the general CBC Music page, which is something new (and supposedly wonderful; haven't checked it out yet). But if you can find them, many of Bachman's shows are available by podcast somewhere on the CBC website. Meanwhile you can listen to CBC Radio One, which hosts the two-hour show early on Saturday nights, online. It also comes on Radio Two and Sirius satellite; you'll have to poke around. Here's something to get you started: click here. And, the show replays on Friday nights.

This past week I managed to put in 25 hours of work, and now will try not to do any over the weekend, to give myself a “real” break from it so that I don’t feel as if I’m “always” working, when in fact 25 hours a week is not “always” working, I know, but …
Instead this morning I lounged in bed with two or three cups of coffee, reading the preface to the first volume of Virginia Woolf’s diary and making a foray into her earliest entries. Then I made myself a smoothie (two, actually; one is never enough when they’re so delicious) and tidied the countertop, and folded the throws that were bunched up on the couch, and straightened the blanket on the loveseat. I got out the ingredients for a batch of bread and took the frozen vegetable water from the freezer to thaw. And now here I sit, having set the timer for one hour so that I don’t end up in front of this screen continuously till noon and then wonder where the morning went.
I hope to make bran muffins and granola this weekend, too; maybe even today. These are what I'll live on for the coming week, if I'm successful.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Here's Lookin' at Ya

Or, as the Dalai Lama says,

Limitless. . . like the ocean . . . are your excellent qualities. 

(with thanks to Barb and Deb for posting this little video on their blog this morning)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Love My Job

And this is one of the reasons:

Today I spent five hours searching the web for images of refugees to Canada from all over the world. In the course of these travels I naturally skimmed through many pages of history and got edumacated, and that's fine, but even better than that is finding ridiculous things like the statement above.

People are so crazy, it's a constant wonderment. The things they say!

European Starlings?

Burr oaks, birdfeeders and flowerpots through the front window

Scott's pile of black dirt behind the oaks is meant for levelling the yard, but I've been using it for flowers; it's dwindling fast.

European starling checks me out; click photos to enlarge.

These birds arrived yesterday and notice me when I approach the window. Usually they all fly up and away, but I'm getting sneakier.

This is the best pic I could get to show the colour brought out by light.

Or are these brewer's blackbirds? Or purple martins? Or brownheaded cowbirds?
Any bird experts out there?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It Sure Feels Like Winter

Passed on my walk; ice circles frozen around fenceposts. Click to enlarge.

I paid a man $120 to turn up lawn in the front yard, wheelbarrow black soil to it, make a flower bed, and move some rosebushes and perennials into it. That was in the fall right before the septic tank got dug in, and it was touch and go whether the flowers would be moved in time. I had to get them out of there, or see them torn up by a monstrous machine.

Scott said, “Well, could you replace those bushes and perennials for that price?”

Maybe I could, and it would have relieved some of the pressure I felt about getting them moved — if only I didn’t actually care about the plants themselves. I care about each plant and want to see it in a safe place, not dug up, or tilled under when Scott turns the flower garden behind the house into lawn this summer. It’s not just the cost of replacing plants that concerned me; it's the life of the plant itself.

There are many more plants to be moved this spring, so I'll need to enlarge the flowerbed we made last fall.

Now I’m looking at my flowers back there — what a treat to see them again, even just their dry brown stems — without the snowy blanket — and then at the space in the front yard and figuring out the best places to put them. Because of course I want to save every one; not even one ubiquitous shasta daisy shall be ploughed under on my watch, if I can find a new location for it.

I say that now. When I'm buried under an avalanche of dirt I may say to hell with it. But that's unlikely.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Newborn Goodness

Look who made her grand entrance in the wee hours of this morning! Little Brielle Aspen.
She is a granddaughter to Joanne Bohl and a daughter to Joanne's own baby, Erin; see the happy grandma's entry here: Out Margo Way.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week End

Scott carries Emil's bags to the door for him on a recent weekend


“Mom, I think I’d rather come back home with you.”

That’s what Emil said as I was leaving him in the entryway of his group home in town.

I’d told him that instead of phoning me every night as he's been doing, I’d like him to call on Tuesday and Thursday only (unless there is a particular reason he needs to talk to me) and that if, as he claims, he is missing me during the week, I will drive in on Wednesday to visit with him or take him out for a drive.
“Let’s give that a try,” I said, and he repeated the entire plan 45 times, as he does when there is even the slightest change in routine, before I got out the door. A delaying tactic.

He also threw in that since his ears are still plugged, maybe they’re going to stay that way for the rest of his life, and “I think I’m not really enjoying life very much,” he added.

"I'd say you're enjoying your life quite a bit," was my response. I'm not buying the might-as-well-shoot-me thing he's been giving me lately, due to his plugged ears. Which have been plugged for months, so I don't blame him; but as far as we and the doctors and specialists know, he just has to wait it out.

As with a young child, parting from a parent is easier if it’s not drawn out. What works best is if I remain in the vehicle and Scott carries Emil’s backpack and shoebag to the door for him. Tonight we didn’t have that option, as Scott was asnooze on the living room couch, watching the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie whenever his own snoring woke him for a few moments. Emil and I headed for town alone.

Finally after reassuring him 45 times that he’d heard me correctly about the new phoning schedule, and of course chatting with the other residents (they’re all in their pyjamas; one communicates mostly with sign language of a sort and loves Bonanza and always takes my hand and leads me to his room to show me that he’s got it paused on his TV; one tells me with a happy glow that she has a new boyfriend 20 years older than herself; one shows me a beaded red bracelet on her wrist and hugs the heck out of me; another asks, as always, if I’m going home and where’s my van and where’s my husband? They’re a predictable, delightful bunch and I have fun with them), I turned away from my 23-year-old son’s somewhat sad face and went out the door feeling a little bit sad, myself, that he isn’t thrilled to be there anymore. Like he was for the first year.

A Child of God

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rural Delivery

Uncle Bob had the rural mail route and made the deliveries in his Democrat - click to enlarge

I like our mechanic. Yesterday my minivan was at Corner Service for an oil change. Bradley always checks the tires as a matter of course, and though I knew one was low when I left our yard, he informed me that the right-rear one was, too.

I told him I have been tire-challenged for the past year or two, that it seems as if every time I drive two feet I end up with a flat tire. I am so exasperated about it that horses are starting to look like a more reliable option.

His response: "You’re driving on gravel roads all the time— it’s bound to happen, especially when the graders have been out.”

He makes it sound perfectly normal, as if I’m not cursed at all.

The photo above was taken "back in the day" at the Old Bartley Place. The outhouse and old house (it's been a barn for many many years) in the background are still there if I'm not mistaken. Someone is living in the yard again, I hear, after the farmhouse sat empty for so long. Emil knows this, so he is after me to drive out there and see what's what (we went to Margo this afternoon to visit Karen and he thought we should make a detour on the way home). He and I spent one summer in the house when he was three years old. I should dig up a photo of the "new" house, built by my great-grandparents in 1914.

Here we go— viewed from the driveway out front in 1991— moi with my rake or shovel, and Emil at the back of the house:

It would be nice to see Uncle Bob again.

He lived alone in this house for a good number of years and the family often gathered here when I was a kid. I can remember when the kitchen didn't have built-in cupboards, but instead a tall wooden cabinet that sat against the dining room wall, for dishes.

My great-grandparents lost a six-month-old baby boy while they lived in this house, to the Spanish flu that came through the area. Grandma was born in this house.

Grandma came out and helped me vacuum up all the dead moths before we moved ourselves in. A neighbour put rat poison in the dirt basement. I collaged the inside walls and door of the outhouse the summer my boy and I stayed. We had no running water. I heated dishwater on a campstove and prepared our meals that way too. It was a peaceful place; Emil and I both loved it.

Bird Life

They're back; this pair of Canada geese scouts around the dugout at the back of our yard.

They are probably the same ones that were here last year, but how would we know for sure? We're assuming.
Lots of birds have returned: crows, bald eagles, hawks, dark-eyed juncos, flocks of ducks flying over, and snowgeese, or maybe they were pelicans. I've heard of the arrival of robins and bluebirds, but not seen them. I rarely see bluebirds, and never yet in this yard. They seem to prefer the fencelines of pasture land. When the bright yellow American goldfinches get here, it will really feel like spring.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not if You're Spider Challenged

Another animated clip sent to me by my little Everett:
"A brief journey through a world of spiders and the never-ending networks that bind their universe together: Cobwebs - Cyriak"

Kaia Leaves

Everett made a comic from this photo, back in the day

Sadly, my sister Karen lost her little dog Kaia (right) last night due to the dogly consumption of something she shouldn't have swallowed; something sharp.


Once upon a time I had a big appetite. I went to bed at night dreaming about what I’d have for breakfast in the morning, and looking forward to it.

Now it’s the opposite. I’ve got to make a point of remembering to eat three meals a day, and push myself to get a healthy snack down my neck in between. Over the past year, by measuring out the day's allotment each morning, I’ve managed to be sure to drink enough water. But consuming enough vegetables and fruit is one thing I haven’t mastered; I’d rather swallow a convenient slice of dry bread on a run-by than chomp on a messy orange or gnaw on an apple. Bananas are great because they’re quick and easy to eat, but I stop buying them in the late spring as soon as the first mosquito appears, and don’t start again till after the fall freeze-up.

So it was with some delight that I sipped on smoothies each morning spent at my friend Cathy’s in Edmonton and realized that this could solve my not-enough-fruit problem. Frozen berries and/or any fruit with a dash of skim milk and a few spoonsful of plain yogurt, whipped in a blender, and I’m in business! It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it gets the fruit in. 

It took me till Wednesday afternoon to bring the blender up from the basement storage room (it requires three trips up and down the stairs to do one load of laundry from start to finish; I still think we should set up the laundry room in the porch instead) so I could have a smoothie the next morning.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Doofus in a Sweater

Cathy gave me handmedowns on the weekend, and on Monday I wore this sweater home .

And am still wearing it. I’ve washed and bathed and changed my other clothes every day, but this sweater keeps going back on.

I’ve also moved back into my “everything in its place” purse, pictured behind. It’s too heavy even when empty to carry far, but what I want can be found immediately. That’s the $100 purse that Gord still exaggerates about; in his mind, it was $400. I bought it for my 40th birthday; my first super-purse, worth any price. Now if only it was made of lightweight material instead of leather.(Perhaps I can place an order with Nance, the purse-sewing queen.)

Finally I am sorting through the old Wadena News pile and putting the Margo Centennial stuff into large envelopes to mail to Aunt Reta and a woman in Flin Flon who has been waiting since summer for copies.So many details to take care of; I swear it's neverending. Today I got as far as sweeping the hallway and kitchen floors. Woo hoo!

Happy Little Doggies

Happy little doggies wait for me to exit the driveway.

Scott says when he tried to go for a walk with them, thinking they’d enjoy it, he hadn’t gotten far before they turned back and went home, leaving him on the road. Strange, for beasts that are overjoyed at the mere idea of a pack outing.


These gargoyles with their strange barbie-doll embellishments will end up on the roof of a building in Edmonton.

11:02 a.m.
My former husband's brother is a collector of every kind of weird and wonderful "stuff" and when I was in Edmonton we stopped at his home, where he gave me a quick tour. The large gargoyles will replace small ones that are currently guarding the rooftops of his building.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On a Wednesday

On Saturday Shelly and I went for a walk at her place northeast of Edmonton.


The geese flew over the yard and made a lot of noise and called from the shore of the slough behind the house and a big grin pasted itself across my face.
The birds are back!

As part of my job, I get to search out video clips to add to online articles.
One thing I came across today, Alan Doyle (from Great Big Sea) singing his song that was used in Mary Walsh's off-the-wall movie Young Triffie:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Back Home

Did have a fine time, spoiled by chauffeurs, good meals and great company ... got home late yesterday afternoon and have been slowly winding down (or maybe winding back up again; not sure). Have to suit up and run into town to do some banking this afternoon, so this is what you're getting for now: a short video of my sister Joan coming out of the market in Kelowna.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eye Opener

I'm off gallyvanting for the next 10 days, so to those of you whose doorsteps I won't be landing on ... see  you on the flip side! I may pop in and make an entry; but then again, I may not.

I'm leaving you with a recommendation for Writing the Revolution. If you think it hasn't been a struggle for the female half of our race to get and keep equal rights in this country, even in the last few decades, this book will make you think again. It will make your guts churn with anger and frustration, but it will also make you proud of the fight women have got in them. In US.

Interview with Michele Landsberg

An Interview with Michele Landsberg 

What central issues do you see facing Canadian feminists today?


The central issue facing women today is that we are still excluded from and underrepresented in every sphere of real power (banks, government, etc) and thus our vital concerns are ignored or trampled on, for example — high quality, universally accessible child care; universal access to reproductive choice; prompt and effective remedies for harassment, battering and other forms of violence directed at women.
I would say that the most grievous injustices are inflicted on aboriginal women and girls, and immigrant and refugee women. The poverty and harms they face are sickening and a disgrace to our democracy.

In your opinion, what news outlets (large or small) in Canada today provide valuable and vital points of view for readers concerned about social justice?


Among the news outlets that still care about social justice and provide the lively analysis and research one needs are: The Monitor, from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Briarpatch;, Herizons Magazine (one of the last feminist magazines in the country), Shameless,
Of course, the Star and the Globe and Mail occasionally do eye-opening investigations into issues of the public interest, and these are invaluable.
One of my favourite lines in her book is Michele's response to those who say that feminism is dead. 

“Feminism dead? They said that from the beginning, and they were always wrong: Feminism is a passion for justice and equality, and that cannot die.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Snow Day

Finally, a decent snowfall! We've had several inches since last night. It's nearly noon and I'm trying not to worry about Scott, who struck out on the highway about 7 this morning for a chiropractic appointment. It's still coming down heavily and I imagine the roads aren't in very good shape; the visibility won't be great either.

I was just out making sure the birds have enough seed for the day. The dogs thought we should go for a walk; the weather doesn't deter them from having fun, that's for sure. They were in right playful moods.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Land and Sky

Scott spends part of his Sunday afternoon putting out bales

We enjoyed the most lovely drive home after having supper and a visit with friends about a half-hour from here. Usually I find the night drive long and am anxious about moose and deer stepping onto the road from the dark ditches. But last night the sky was so bright that you could see for miles. The fields and their blotches of dark bush were well lit. I love the views around here.

 It’s not the more obviously luxurious curves and contrasts of hills and valleys and rocks that one sees in other parts of the country, but a more gentle, unassuming expanse that you float upon with the feeling that you can freely go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. There’s an unlimited perspective that encourages the mind and spirit to go great distances, to open up somehow, to feel that anything is possible.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Some of My Outlaws

Scott's "little" brother Bruce on his birthday

Dad sent me a photo that made me exclaim "Oh dear!" when I saw it. He's had a procedure done beneath his eyes that makes him look like one of the guys from Kiss, or maybe like a demon. Unfortunately he won't let me post it to my blog. I tried. I said "But your friends would like to see it!"
Alas, he prefers not.

When we were over at the inlaws' for Bruce's birthday cake, I managed to get a nice shot of Scott with his parents, but he doesn't want me to post that here either. I said, "But there are people who would like to see it! What about your cousin Alex over in England?"

Sorry Alex, no can do. What I think I can get away with is posting the pics of Bruce and his parents ... because I am not aware that they read this blog, and I don't think they'd mind anyway. Unlike some of these shy people.

Pat and Ivan

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sorry, No Moose

My trusty companion while I work at my desk

You'd have seen a photo of a cow moose with a mottled light patch on her shoulder, had I remembered to take my camera with me to town yesterday morning. The long-legged gal was meandering across the driveway in front of an unoccupied farmhouse near the road, oblivious as could be! And me without my friggin' camera. Is that not always the way.

I've been a bit under the weather for the past few days. My neck-migraines seem to come in clusters of several days in a row now, about once a month. I've managed to work, but not to go for my daily walks. Today I feel normal so far, and hope to get out for some exercise, though it's cold out. Like real winter, for a change.

And now ... I put my nose to the grindstone and get some work done.