Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meet L'il Lexi

My grandniece is six days old.

Each time we are gifted by a new baby in our family, I think of Mom and how much she would have enjoyed this one, too.

I remember her saying the same thing about Grandpa Emil; Everett was a couple years old when Grandpa died, but was at an age where Grandpa would have found him particularly entertaining.

When Everett was but a babe I rented a lakefront cabin for a summer week and Grandpa drove out in his little truck to visit one morning.

I was gently washing Everett's face with a wet cloth and he was squealing loudly, as they do.

Grandpa: "Nobody likes getting their face washed like that."

Me, after rinsing the cloth in warm water, washing Grandpa's face with it:
"What's not to like?"

Grandpa, surprised: "I guess you're right!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mule Deer

Sweet thing. A twin born last spring. 

Right next to our living room window.

Scott has devised protections for the cedars, but they aren't complete enough.

To follow mom, or eat the cedars ... that is the question.
Big Brother sticks to the oats out in the yard today.
Looking through the windows at us.
Man, if you thought this "system" would keep us away from the cedars, consider yourself deluded.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kathy H.

Kathy H and her son

Kathy H.'s blog is a must-read, for me.
We've never met, but I've kept up with her since discovering her webpage on the "interwebs" (as Brent Butt would say).
Recent entries — like all of them, if you ask me — should not be missed. They make a pretty good intro to Kathy's take on things.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bread City ~ Part 4

Dishes all done and dusted while bread bakes.
Bread will cool at least four hours before being bagged.
Scarf and apron hung up for the day.

That's when I sink into a tub of steaming water to relax a while before carrying on with the day.
And wouldn't you know it, that's when the deer decide to come into the yard for lunch!
Fortunately Scott is back home doing some bookwork, and calls me when he goes to find the camera:

They approach— a doe, a yearling, and two born this spring.
The doe keeps watch out beyond the truck.
They must be seriously hungry. They are right outside the window where I'm standing, and they can see me.

"I'd hate to lose a tree to them though," Scott says. Finally he can't take it, and goes out to put the hay in their faces. And they all bounce away — sproing! sproing! — like kangaroos.

Bread-baking Day ~ Part 3

Ready to shape into loaves.
Prepared for final half-hour rise.
And into the hot oven they go for an hour.

Bread-Baking Day ~ Part 2

Covered with damp cloth so the dough doesn't dry out, it rises in the draught-free oven.
Time for the first punch-down. Then another 45 minutes to rise.
Greased, ready and waiting.

Scott informs me it was deer outside the front window. There is a set of tiny tracks alongside the larger ones. And the turds are not oblong, like moose ones. Still, I would love to have seen the animals up so close.

Bread Baking Day ~ Part One

Start with something on your head to keep hair from falling into the dough.

I get an early start by measuring out the ingredients the night before, so when I get up in the morning all I have to do is put the liquids on the stove to heat, and give the flour, yeast and salt a stir before adding the lukewarm liquid to it.

The blessed kneading machine.
I set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes once the wet ingredients are mixed into the dry. Go ahead and call it cheating if you like. I still have to lug the heavy motor around, clean the dough hook afterward and wash the giant container. Some days I'm not so sure I've got the better deal. [Yes I do. Fifteen minutes can be very long if you don't find something worth listening to on the radio before you start. Great for the biceps though]. The motor can handle 20 cups of flour so that's the maximum size of a batch; it makes enough dough for 6 loaves.

Seeds go in near the very end; otherwise they will tear the gluten as the dough is kneaded.

It's now in the oven where there's no cool draft, rising its first hour-and-a-half, and that's where I'm at this morning. It's my "easy" day of the week. Besides making the weekly batch of bread, I'll work only two or three hours scheduling social media posts for Straight Goods News. My encyclopedia work is done till Monday.

Scott called me over to the living room window a half-hour ago and pointed out the tracks two feet from the house and a nice little pile of moose turds. Guess who came to dinner? There are two cedar trees by the front step, and someone made himself welcome during the night. I just may sit up through the wee hours with a flashlight now!

In other news, now that the parents and grandparents have had a chance to spread the good word ... my nephew Marc and his wife Michelle have just had their first baby, little Lexi Lou. Lexi Lilian, actually, but she's already Lexi Lou in my mind. Can't wait to go hold and kiss her!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moose Visit

I've got a moose in my back yard, doo dah, doo dah!

We're in the deep freeze again, so softhearted Scottie let the fat hairy old dog spend the night in the porch. Which means she wasn't barking at everything that moved. Which resulted in: this morning before leaving the house for the first time Scott pointed out moose tracks leading right into the flower bed in the front yard. When he came back, it was to tell me to look out a back window, as a moose was lying on the other side of the dugout, chewing its cud.

It lay there until a magpie landed on its back. After a few swipes with the big nose didn't discourage the bird, the moose got up and stood watching the house for a few minutes (how patient they are!) before reaching up to nibble on twigs and branches.

The deer, too, are hungry enough to come right into the yard. Scott said he'd like to put a bale out for them although there aren't really extra bales aside from what's needed for the cattle. Not long after, he came in and told me he'd put one out by the barn for them.

I like a softhearted man best of all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last Month of Winter Begins

coyote trail

You know, it really IS only one month till spring!!!!!!

Woo hoo!
The birds are already singing different songs.

Top o' the Links

I see Ralph's up at the top of my Sask Readables list with some footage of a rough road one snowy night.

Mare's dad doesn't want to watch the Tyrone/Kirsty story anymore either.

See a mist bow in Scotland! First time for me.

And finally, Virginia Woolf has inspired a videogame.

Lilian, I have lost the url to your blog! Please send.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Remember to take five minutes just to breathe. 

There is nothing that can't wait five minutes.
I don't have to think about it this moment.
It will be there later.

What if you knew that this five minutes would change everything that comes after?
Would you make time for it then?

Five minutes. It's nothing, and it's everything.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The brothers at work.
This machine makes feed for cattle; they are moving it to the home farm.
Scott picks Ducky up to keep him clear of a grain truck backing out of the quonset.

This page has been tidied up yet again. Webpages that have disappeared from the lists in the side column have been deleted because I never got around to reading them often or because they are rarely updated. If the link to your blog is gone, please let me know when you post a new entry. I'm talking to you, Lasse! Lilian! Elin! Helen! I don't want to miss your new entries.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mama B and Freight Train

Late afternoon walk

The plan was to take Emil and attend a concert in town tonight: Mama B and Freight Train. (See Shadow House Concerts on Facebook if you live around here). Alas, on Monday I awoke with a cold sore developing beneath my nose, and while it is a lesser lesion than I have had many times before, it remains "sore" (has its name for a reason) and leaves me hardpressed to ignore it and have a good time.

So, I waved my boys out the door and have been reading ... old journals from 1984 ... it seems some things never change ... which is somewhat embarrassing ... and a Deepak Chopra book read once before and not gotten around to a second time till now ... Ageless Body, Timeless Mind.

I've run out of library books, having finished the last one a week ago. Gone Girl kept me guessing right till the end. Not about whodunnit, but what was going to happen. Would there be another murder?

I need a good biography.

Thinking William Blake could be of interest.

On his deathbed he sang for several hours, otherworldly songs that he'd never sung before apparently. I want to know more about that.

Here's Mama B & Freight Train; this is what I'm missing, and so are you:

The audience at the Anglican church tonight will be listening, and quiet. I sent the camera with Scott and hope he'll take some video, if he's not too shy.

Lots of people can sing, but not all of us have a voice that compels listening. This lady sure does.

Saturday in Saskatchewan

Me 'n Emil, we're going for a drive.
Scott's advice: "A short drive might break up ice [somewhere on vehicle], which may be the reason the tires seem to be shaking at a certain speed. Try that first."

Snow is melting off the roof of the tractor shed today.
Winter's nearly over!

I've given myself a day off. Really off.

Night Visit

The boys have been working in the yard, doing something at the granaries, with an auger and a tractor. I don't know half the time what's going on.

Scott's brother has taken my van to drive home, just a mile down the road, and a truck is out there for hours in the dark, and it looks like Scott is trying to jimmy the driver's door open and finally succeeds, but then a passenger gets out, no one I can recognize in the distance, and from time to time I look out and see Scott still standing there, literally bending his elbow.

His cousin had come over to borrow something, it turned out, and had his daughter along. The fellas managed to get in a good jaw, apparently, and my guess is that Althea spent her time on the phone. She's a teenager now. I babysat her once.

Baby Althea: CLICK HERE.
This link will take you to my earlier webpage.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tisdale, Sask

Turning onto mainstreet Tisdale after leaving the optometrist clinic, where we learned our eye appointments are not till March 1st. So much for writing things on the calendar. I had them pencilled in for today and March. Hmph.
We're heading home. At least Scott got his new lenses picked up, so the trip wasn't a waste of time.

Is Tisdale known for its honey? Don't ask me.
Ah, just checked it out at The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Tisdale, home of the world's largest honeybee.

Damn Sight

Neighbour's uninhabited farmyard
Snorking back some oatmeal made with sunflower and flax seeds for breakfast. And honey and cinnamon. I should live forever, eating this way.

Then it's off to the north country (small city of Tisdale, home of comedian Brent Butt of Corner Gas fame) for the biennial eye exams.

Emil: "I don't want to go. They might say I need glasses."

Last time we went, the optometrist let him throw out his glasses, which he'd been wearing since he was in elementary school. Now, as then, to read he cocks his head to the side and puts the book right up to his face. Tell me how it's possible he doesn't need glasses?

"As long as he doesn't develop headaches, he doesn't really need them," she said, pleasing Emil no end.

It makes no sense to me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Early Bird Gets Worm

Breaking trail

A rare day when the wind has blown snow enough — or no vehicle has yet driven down our road (there are only two households living on it) — that there are no other tracks but ours.

Some interesting programs on the Sundance Channel have kept me up later than usual tonight. A documentary about writer Christopher Isherwood and his partner and junior by 30 years, painter Don Bachardy. And a documentary about Rothschild heiress Nica and her long friendship with musician Thelonious Monk. I don't care for the style of jazz they loved, but as always I am interested in the human stories.

Then I had some last-minute work come in and since it's time-sensitive and I'll be away a good part of tomorrow, I've stood here for the past 15 minutes to get it done.

How will I ever become an early riser if I don't start getting to bed by 9?

Love Stuff

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What 104 Looks Like

Scott with his Grandma Lowndes, who recently turned 104.

A while ago Grandma decided she didn't want to cook anymore but could remain in her home if family members would take turns bringing supper to her each night. She has four adult children and five grown grandchildren living within a distance of 20 miles, so between them a hot meal is delivered each evening and Grandma has company at her table. The Meals on Wheels program delivers hot food for her lunches.

Scott took his turn on Saturday and I went along. We stopped at the Co-op store and picked up sausages and frozen perogies, and he boiled 'em all up in her kitchen.

I made the darjeeling tea, which Scott's sister Tanya brought back from India when she visited there last year with another sister, Lynn.

Joni's Kitchen

A song reviled by many Joni Mitchell fans, actually ...
Yes, that's Billy Idol singing backup vocals.

I don't know about you, but I love getting a glimpse into someone else's home.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Daily Bread

Yes, this bread really contains 100% whole wheat flour. NO white. 

My niece Cara has been struggling with her whole wheat bread, which turns out like little bricks. I can't figure it out: I've told her everything I know, already, and her mom is a baking wizard and can do anything I can do, better.

Cara cannot believe things need to be done so differently.

You have to knead a batch of whole wheat bread dough for 15 minutes. Not a minute less. Put on some good radio, and set a timer.

Bakers of white bread add flour as they're kneading.
If you do that with whole wheat flour, your dough won't all be kneaded long enough to develop the gluten (or whatever the science is), and won't rise well.
You have to let it be sticky and just keep kneading until it gets to the point where it becomes smooth and supple and not sticky. It will.

When you shape the loaves, you don't do it on a floured board.
You put a container of lukewarm water on the counter, and dip your hands into it for handling the dough and on the countertop so that the dough won't stick.

"You can't do that!" my mom said.

It's what I do, thanks to a tip in a book given to me by my aunt, Reta.
The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, by Laurel Robertson.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Horseshoe Puzzle

First you must figure out how to get the ring off the horseshoes.

Grandpa B gave me this puzzle, which I keep in the livingroom to occupy the hands of our company.

My smartphone just whistled.

Are you calling me ee ee ee ee ee?

Then you have to figure out how to get the ring back on.

We are enjoying a lazy morning in our pyjamas. Scott is on the laptop in the livingroom, surfing for info about and pictures of martens and fishers. He's made two pots of coffee this morning and I've toasted my famous sunflower bread and served it buttered. And thus should Sunday mornings be.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow in Tucson

This painting welcomes visitors to our house.

We have a new email for Joanne's blog. Yay!
CLICK HERE to see what she has to say.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Ms Ritchie

Bread dough's a-risin' and I'm about to spend an hour with the laptop.
Wish you were here ... Happy Birthday Ms Ritchie.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The World is Not a Wish-granting Factory

The title is a quote from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

It's written from the perspective of a teenage girl with terminal cancer.
Besides the suffering of physical deterioration and treatment, there is anguish a dying person feels because her condition is causing pain to her loved ones now and will do so after her passing.

Here at Golden Grain Farm we have lost three of our barn cats to the cruel seduction of the half-ton motor. To partake of the warmth of a recently turned-off engine, cats will climb up under the hood and when the vehicle is started again ... chop chop. Or if the fan doesn't get them, they jump down -- right in front of the moving front tire.

Maybe now we'll start remembering to honk the horn a few times before turning that ignition key.

Lest ye think it no matter, because there remain four felines: Not the case. We are fond of all the cats, sweethearts every one, and tears of regret were shed over each of the three. Bimbo (last year's kitten), Carsten (orange shorthair this spring's litters), Cookie (also in this year's litters, he was a black persian with a lion's mane of white undertones; gorgeous boy): We'll Remember You.

Tears of a very different kind have been shed after receiving the horrible news that a local man has died in a house fire. I can't even find words to say. It's an awful thing.

The world surely is not a wish-granting factory.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Taking Orders

My "famous" 100% wholewheat sunflower bread

Some days the bread rises and comes out of the oven so perfectly that I'm amazed and delighted. This is one of those days. See photo; imagine slathering a hot crust with butter, as I did for lunch. (Phone me to order a batch for your house.)

Yesterday I baked honey-oatmeal bread to fill an order, and the turnout was disappointing. Edible — it's always edible — but the crust tore and the rise wasn't as high as usual. The only difference besides the two recipes themselves was the freshness of the flour used today; it had been purchased more recently.

It's a mystery, really, but I'm tempted to make another batch tomorrow with this same bag of flour, and see what happens. With whole wheat bread-baking, fresh flour is essential to a satisfying rise.