Friday, May 31, 2013

Trip to Saskatoon

Since having that root canal a month ago, I've been feeling right back up to snuff. But the specialist had to make sure all is as it should be, so a followup trip to the city was required. This is one of the worst parts of living out here; you have to travel some distance for medical and dental care beyond the basics, and it requires both time and money that many can't spare, or at the least it adds the burden of travel when you're already pressed. I hopped the bus on Wednesday morning, spent a minute and a half in the dentist's chair yesterday, and rode the bus back home in the afternoon. At least I got to spend my time there with Cathy, so a required trip to the city always has a treat in it. Had I stayed longer I could have seen other good friends, but Cathy has a lot on the go today and all weekend and I was eager to get home and back into my flowerbeds.

A few of the things I saw on a very busy mainstreet Wadena while waiting for the bus:

Crosswalk? We don't do crosswalks in Wadena. We walk across the street wherever we please, every one of us. 

We have a lot of First Nations residents, or they come in from the Fishing Lake Indian Reserve.
Not the usual STC (Sask Transportation Co) vehicle. This is a stand-in while the regulars get their spring make-over.
I did take a picture of a local daycare provider herding her half-dozen small charges across the street a few minutes before the bus appeared above, but won't post such a thing without the permission of their parents. And I've no clue who those might be. What was I thinking?

Lots of activity in town on a weekday morning, anyway. The bus didn't have many passengers but I did make some new friends — this is easy in Saskatchewan, because everybody talks to everybody, friends and strangers alike, or at least I do. It's one of the best parts of living out here. People are not afraid of each other or, as I found in Toronto last May, offended or suspicious if you speak to them before you have been introduced. That's not to say city dwellers are never friendly and open. They are just a lot more careful. Perhaps they have to be. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tea with Grandpa Jack

Great-Grandpa Jack's moustache cup, which it's my guess he never used. And I won't either, and not just because I have no moustache.
My tea today is made from gatherings around the farmyard and on my walks: rosehips, yarrow, giant hyssop and pineapple weed.
One thing about being "without work" is that I spend next to no time here at the computer, and when I do, it's to rest after being outdoors hoeing or transplanting. In spite of my intention not to buy a lot at greenhouses this year and to patiently wait for my saved flower seed from last fall to sprout, I've still ended up with three trays of bedding plants from area greenhouses. As soon as the weather is fine, I am impatient to get them all in place. I started with the pansies last night and got one tray emptied, and was tired after all the digging, and dirty, but satisfied.

Last spring after a horrible cold windy freezy weekend in late May and a number of my bedding plants dying from it all, I promised myself that forevermore I'd wait till June to transplant. Ha. Who can do that, when the sun is shining brightly and you know those plants are as anxious to get into the ground and spread their roots as you are to see them there?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Life o' Reilly, Yessir

The tractor across the road flushed out a moose back near our driveway when I was out walking. 
Ever since the first time that happened I turn quite a few circles while walking, so as not to miss anything.

I also turn because there is a long way to see, and lots of it, and it's a feast for the eyes. I practically fall on my knees at the everyday splendor of the land, trees, sky, water, birds. Top that with the sweet scent in the air (wolf willows in bloom?) and I can't imagine a better heaven. My contented sighs are deep and frequent.

Last year's stubble: crooked stripes.
It's almost hard to believe these photos were all taken on the same walk yesterday, but that's how it was: I started off with a scarf around my pencil neck, and a bunnyhug with the hood up, under a squall jacket with its hood also up. By the time I got home it was so hot and sunny on the step that I couldn't get those clothes off fast enough.

I walk to the ravine most days. It hosts blue herons, canvasbacks, northern shovellers, mallards, goldeneyes, blue-winged teal, mudhens, Canada geese, and the odd grebe; this spring there was a pair of cormorants. And there are always muskrats and, they say, beavers, though I've never seen one here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pied Piper of the Pasture

The boys brought heifers and one old cow over, and Scott walks out to see them when he gets home.

Then they follow him to the barn.
They have all kinds of green grass, but he throws down a bale. Maybe this is to sleep on, as we have wet weather. Something tells me it's to eat though. I don't know from cattle.
He finds them endlessly entertaining.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

At the Farmer's Market

My cousins Janet, Rhonda and Lynn at the neighbour's market table
It was another slow day at the hall in Wadena yesterday, they said, but it brought in some welcome surprises: the three ladies above, and my cousin Karla (from Flin Flon area now) and her daughter and mother. There were familiar faces, and new. Had I not sold a single thing, I'd still have left energized. Obviously I've been a hermit for too long.

Wish I'd thought to get the camera out for a picture of Gracie! That's Karla's girl. She is growing up fast; and what a sweetie. Who has the same name as someone else who is high on my list of sweeties.

It is eight years, tomorrow, that Mom died. That anniversary doesn't seem to bother me, but I might be kidding myself: the body doesn't forget. The sleeper doesn't forget, either, when you tell yourself not to worry about something, to let it go. It frets as it wishes and you can toss and turn all night. Well, whatever. It's been eight years that, before she died, I couldn't imagine without her in them.

I find myself missing her more, though, instead of less, as the time since I last saw her gets longer.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Emil's Third Visit to the Naturopath

It's that loveliest of greens ... spring green! 

The bones of dead farm machinery
No time for much today besides a trip to Melfort to take Emil to the naturopath we've been consulting due to the sensation of plugged ears that has been bothering him. Two general practitioners and two ear/nose/throat specialists have said, "Nothing to be done. It will go away eventually." The first time, it took six months to clear up. This time it's gone on for a year and a half.

It's been disappointing and frustrating. But it was when Emil started saying he wishes he was dead because of how his ears feel, and he'd like to kill himself or get someone else to do it, that it got worrisome. And he didn't stop saying it when you talked to him about the realities of death and the consequences, or how ears that feel plugged — but don't hurt and he can still hear as well as always — are not worth ending your life over. And how upsetting it is for people to hear him say that. And so on. Basically this has been his way of getting the message across that this is really bothering him and for heaven's sake do something about it.

Two or three months ago the naturopath did a live blood analysis and saw that, among other things that showed up, yeast was a big problem in his system. We removed bread from Emil's diet; also dairy and sugar. He has complained long and loud, but we have stuck to our guns. In a short while he lost his baby fat and his acne, but the plugged-ears sensation remains.

The live blood analysis today showed that there is no more yeast problem, and a number of other things shown by the blood last time have either cleared up or are on their way out. He can start having bread and dairy again, but in moderation and with a couple days between servings, so that he doesn't end up back where he was yeast-wise. But now we are going to cut out eggs for the next month and see if that makes any difference.

Emil must have told Dr. Fillatre 20 times today, speaking so quickly and intensely he could hardly be understood, "You know, I don't like having plugged ears but I also don't like not being able to eat the foods I like." He was hoping the doc would bring out his magic wand and fix everything. Oh if only it could work that way. But no, me laddie: you are the one who has to do the work. And it's not easy changing your way of eating, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Flowers & Kittens

And the madness begins ...
Kittens whose mother disappeared require dropper feeding. I'm on afternoons while our niece Rebecca is at school.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Feels Like Monday

Betty and Richard arriving home from work on Friday afternoon.
These are two of Emil's roommates in town.

You should see him. In —what? three months?— without yeast products, dairy and sugar, he's slimmed down far enough that I don't want to see him lose any more weight.
"Are you hungry during the week?" I ask, making sure he's not starving it off.
He says not, but like any young man at his mother's for the weekend, he has a voracious appetite and I indulge it as much as possible and reasonable. Don't wanna kill the kid with kindness, but figure since portions are limited at the group home, a little extra on the weekend is just insurance.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Laughing It All Away

What more can I say?
I've just been given two-weeks notice from another job (gol darn these non-profits, I'd say, but that's the way of it), and yesterday my van gave up the ghost finally and completely so I am wheelless.

Obviously it is time to start dancing.

It doesn't feel like hard times and as I'm able-bodied and my eyes and computer still work, I'm not too worried about finding ways to earn a dollar. Meanwhile what is the harm in furious dancing? It keeps your spirits up and kickstarts your energy. Even when it's only around your own kitchen.

In other news, my cousin Jolene is at her home for the weekend and will return to the hospital tomorrow to pick up her belongings and get properly discharged. She has been there two months and is more than ready to be done with it. There is one nurse that plays power games and bullies the patients while with her fellow employees butter wouldn't melt in her mouth; and overall it doesn't seem as if the medical staff are on top of their game. For instance, they didn't know (and neither did she) that she had a broken kneecap among all the other fractures. It was on an x-ray ... so ... what the ...? And when her doctor ordered a blood test to see why Jolene's had a mid-grade fever for two or three weeks, the nurse told her she didn't need it, and didn't take her for the test.

There are a number of these kinds of stories, which make you wonder if Jolene is getting the care she deserves and needs. Being at home will be no picnic either, as she is not supposed to be cooking and doing dishes, among other things, and ends up doing them anyway. Sleeping in a bed that isn't best for her back when she was specifically told to sleep on a firmer one they have; handling a difficult eight-year-old; why, if it weren't for the bumbling of the medical staff at the facility she's been at, being back there could almost be considered a holiday in comparison. If Jolene didn't still have so much pain and difficulty breathing, that is.

We talked on the phone quite a while yesterday and my conclusion is that she is between a rock and a hard place. Fortunately we all think she is as feisty as they come, so we don't worry too much about her. We believe she has it in her to get what she needs. I hope this hasn't resulted in people not offering to help her, thinking she doesn't need it. Even so, we had quite a few good laughs at the situations we find ourselves in (the nasty nurse verbally abused an elderly patient and made her cry, but Jolene was "in the can waiting for my ass to get wiped so I couldn't do anything but listen," for example) and the foibles of us all.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Slow Start to Saturday

A henna design on skin. Somewhere I've kept the link to the artist's webpage ... hm, where is that now ...
The image above was found while searching for breast-related images for Bev's webpage.

Scott delivered a large glass mug of black coffee to me by 6:30 this morning so I've been up and around for five hours already. I've been out in the yard in my pyjamas, feeding the old dog and pulling grass and dandelions from the flowerbeds. I've refilled the bird feeders — oh my that is a busy place these days, and such variety and noise! — and washed and dried the dishes and made oatmeal for breakfast.

The sun she is a-shining & Emil and I are going gallavanting. There are garage sales in Wadena this weekend, and I'm looking for one of those old air poppers for backup, in case the theatre-popper (my last Christmas gift to Mom, which Dad gave back to me after she died; "I'll never use it," he said) gives up the ghost just when it's most needed: "crack" production week.

Then we'll head to Margo, where Emil hopes to see his cousin Marc and have a look at little Lexi. He hasn't seen her yet and loves babies, and I haven't gotten my hands on her since she was a month old. Aunt Shirley is back in town so we'll swing by there too; Emil was worried she'd never come home, after she'd been staying with her son Gerald for so long. And of course we hope to catch Karen at home. When we texted yesterday she thought it likely. Tomorrow would be a different story.

And so off I go to make smoothies for the road ... Yee ha! It's the weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Frogs for Dad

On the loveliest of peaceful walks last night before sunset.
The leaves started coming out yesterday. This is always a thrilling time isn't it? That bright bright green is the best pick-me-up there is.

The huge flocks of snow geese have begun passing low overhead as they look for places to land for the night. I know better than to stand looking up with my jaw hanging open in awe, but it is still hard not to.

The deafening cacophony of chorusing frogs has already climaxed and abated, volume-wise, but I recorded this little bit of backyard heaven anyway. The camera doesn't pick up all the bird calls in the air around me as I stand near the barn to eyeball the lone (apparently) Canada goose on the slough. You can't see it in this bit of film, probably.

Dad said one thing he misses about living out here is the frogs in the spring.
Here you go, Dad:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

After the Rain

Scott thought he'd run over the grass one more time before Faye & Rick came over last night.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New AFOs

We had rain! Yay!
In other news, there is no other news.

Emil has just put his new AFOs on.
He has to break them in in 10-minute increments once every two hours, to start. Already he says they hurt to walk in. That will likely mean another trip to the city for adjustments; maybe more.
But first, we give them a chance.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Lorna: I made two small yeast-free loaves of whole wheat bread yesterday and they are okay! So Emil will be able to have a little bread on the weekends for a while, but not during the week, and that's okay for now. These are almost biscuity -- and that's okay too.

I'm also modifying my daily bread, eating it only every second day and having one slice of toast instead of two. A person has to fill up on something else, then ... I am not good at finding replacements that appeal, so I tend to nibble again in a couple hours. Or plain nibble.

Breakfast smoothies lately have been only water, frozen apples and strawberries. Scared to try that kale and cucumber smoothie recipe that was going around, recommended to treat migraines. Scared to end up throwing away a perfectly delicious cucumber!

This ladyhead vase belonged to Aunt Jean (Grandma's sister).
Her mother's grandfather (my great-great-great grandfather!) carved the wooden tools for her mother as a little girl.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Scott asked this morning if I'd like to go to the greenhouse and pick something out that he could buy me for Mother's Day. I'm not his mother but he has been trained to spoil me anyway. I'd far rather have the frigging closet door installed in our bedroom! But I will take whatever I can get, and flowers always make me feel good.

When I got home from the farmers' market yesterday, Emil told me he had managed to reach the pull chain on the ceiling fan in the bedroom so he could watch it go around. And he'd show me, if I liked. Which he did in the evening as I lay in bed reading. He was so thrilled about this that I pulled out the camera to catch his giant grin. That failed but at least you can see his intense concentration here:

Emil has always had a thing for fans. Lots of autistic kids do, apparently. He's only been diagnosed as "borderline" autistic, but has quite a few autistic traits. Recently I mentioned a specific date some years ago, and out of the blue he told me it had been a Thursday. Why did he know that, I asked; had something special happened on that date? No, he said. He just knows what day it was. He's pulled specific days out of nowhere before, but this time surprised me because there seemed no reason for it, no particular occasion or event to trigger the memory.

One year, his uncle Russ gave him a ceiling fan for Christmas. At the time Emil wouldn't let us install it in his bedroom. He was afraid of it, he said. Last night he reminded me of that and added that he no longer fears ceiling fans.

He has lost a lot of weight in the last two months due to a naturopath's suggestion that he alter his diet to exclude foods made with yeast, dairy, and sugar. Out went the daily sandwiches and toast; goodbye milk and cheese; arrivaderci ice cream and cake. He complains about this and thinks maybe he'd rather not follow the naturopath's directives, which were given because Emil's sensation of his ears feeling plugged (he can hear fine, and they have been cleaned by a doctor and are not actually plugged) are likely caused by excessive mucous in his eustachian tubes and sinus.

There has been no change in the plugged-ears situation yet, but his acne has cleared up and he's gotten skinny. A lot of salads will do that to you, I suppose. He assures me that he is getting enough to eat and is not hungry after meals. But he hopes that when he has a followup visit with the naturopath a week from now, he will be told he can stop following the diet. He is going to be disappointed.


It was a slow market day, according to the vendors at nearby tables, but I loved spending the time with my sister and chatting with all the people who stopped by our table. There were some I hadn't seen in years. That alone made it all worthwhile.


Of course I am thinking about Mom and Grandma today. If your mother and grandmothers are still among the living, you are very, very fortunate and I envy you. Make the best of your time with them, while you can. Make sure they know how important they are to you.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Show Some Respect

Brrrr ... Scott says the weather report claims it's 7C below, out there. I believe it. It was 67F in the house when I got up at 6:30. 

I told you I've decided to become an early riser, right? Me, the heavy-sleeping night owl. I've been setting my radio alarm to come on 15 minutes earlier at the beginning of each month. So I'm getting there slowly, but surely. The secret is to get ready for bed between 8 and 9, complete with flossing and brushing, and then don't read till midnight. I haven't quite mastered that last part, but just being in bed well before midnight seems to make a difference. Guess the body has simply had enough of it by the time the alarm goes. I never jump up the moment the radio comes on, but even with some dozing before I make the leap out of my warm bed, I'm still starting my day well ahead of the hour when I used to. Thus does one pat oneself on the back for being so noble. Hee!

On weekend mornings there is a Saskatchewan CBC radio program that starts at 6 (I think), hosted by Dan Reynish. I sometimes get a real kick out of him and this morning it finally dawned on me why that is. Yes, he's goofy, and I'm partial to goofyness, but also it's because he's forthcoming with what he gets excited about. Eventually you get to feeling as if you know this fellow, or maybe hung out with him when you were a teenager. He should be a blogger. He'd write the kind of blog I'd like to read.

Speaking of blogs, Bev has made her second entry regarding her bout in the ring with breast cancer. Check it out by CLICKING HERE and leave her a comment for encouragement, if you will. Many of her friends are calling her, saying "But not having surgery and chemo, Bev ... are you sure you know what you're doing?" as if she hasn't considered every possible outcome, already, herself. Sheesh, what do they think has been on her mind ever since the moment she was diagnosed?

They are worried that she's made the wrong decision, of course. But now that she's made it, she doesn't need this kind of input; it drags her down. I suppose there is still time for her to change her mind, and that's what her friends are hoping their comments may lead to. They have more faith in the conventional treatments. Don't ask me why. What is their percentage of success? Certainly there are many successes. But there are also many failures. It seems a real crapshoot, to me, and then as Bev says, after you suffer through butchery and chemo and if you survive the cancer, how do you know it won't reappear somewhere else down the line? You always have this fearful sword hanging over your head. 

She figures by revamping her eating habits she can not only survive this, but live long and well without concern about a reoccurrence. We shall see. But she has made her decision, and she is the one who will live or die by it, so people: Say your piece once, and then shut up and respect her decision. 

Bev won't be eating crap like this very often in future:

Here it is: $250 worth of "crack" all ready for the street ...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Kate's Crack Kitchen

Whew — there! Kate's Crack Kitchen is now closed for the week. 

Thank goodness they only have this market every second Saturday. I'm tuckered. 
That's a lie. I'm not terribly tuckered. But I've had enough measuring, stirring, wiping and washing.  

I just called Karen to see what progress she's making. She has three ovens and is baking bread and buns for tomorrow. 
"You sound cranky," I said.
"I'm not," she said. "But my back's getting sore."

Emil's aide took him to Saskatoon today to pick up his new AFOs. (We always call them "braces.") They are those Fiberglas things moulded to fit his feet and shins, and kept on by Velcro straps. They help keep him from being up on his toes when he walks. The provincial health plan covers the cost of them, which used to be well up over $1000. I am seriously grateful for Canada's medicare plan. If only we had one for dentistry! 

He's always had hinged AFOs (hinged at the heel so there is a bit of give). This time they've given him one solid hingeless piece. That may take some getting used to.

I'll get a picture of them. He's coming out here this weekend. 
"Especially since it will be Mother's Day," he told me. "You can look forward to spending Mother's Day with me."
That's right, sonny. Wouldn't have it any other way. 

This pair of Canada geese hangs out near our yard.  You see our two driveways behind them. Little Ducky always chases and one of these times they won't fly off but will take a round out of him instead. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Making Crack

Get a root canal, and you'll be your old self in no time!
What a difference it makes when the body isn't fighting off an infection anymore.

I have been in the kitchen this week making what I call "crack" — caramel corn and chocolate fudge — to take to the farmers' market on Saturday. Sistah Karen is going to fill half the table with her fine baking so I'm not knocking myself out. Or trying not to. One does tend to get marathoning when all the ingredients are out. Might as well make as many batches as possible and only have to clean up the mess once, right? Not that I don't clean as I go; I am constantly wiping the counters and stove and washing dishes.

I'm pacing myself; it's that, or be beat at the end of the day.

Another windy day, but warm enough to prune off the rest of the deadstalk in the flower garden this afternoon.
And I found my stash of seeds saved from last fall's flowers. Next: get 'em into the ground.
If the wind ever stops blowing ....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bread Is Now Baked on Wednesdays

It was a bit cool for working in the flowerbed today, and I'm a fairweather gardener if ever there was one. I did walk my half-hour route twice though; the second time when I hoped to hail down someone coming to our house for the first time. My directions weren't clear enough and she ended up going a little out of her way, but not terribly, so we had time for coffee and fudge and a gab at the kitchen table before she left with a batch of whole wheat bread fresh from the oven. 

Of course, there must always be a test loaf for the baker. Guess what I had for lunch. And an afternoon snack. With butter. Ooh la la. Treat of the week.

Violet's milking stool awaits me at the flower bed.
With luck, tomorrow. Meanwhile, woodtick season has begun. I felt three crawling on my neck yesterday, the little bastards.

In other news, Bev has posted her first entry about her reaction to learning she had breast cancer. CLICK HERE to follow along. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

We've Got Bloomage

Hi Julie,
We were surprised last weekend to see violas blooming all over the flower garden, practically in the snow. And there is all kinds of mature greenery ... somehow the leaves of the hollyhock, speedwell and others survived through the winter. It's unusual and must be because of the heavy snow and the warm fall we had (did we?). So many plants just kept on thriving and green right up to the first freeze and beyond.
I put on garden gloves yesterday afternoon and got started pruning the dead stalks from last year. What a pleasure to sit on Violet's milking stool in the sweet sun -- clip, clip, clip -- and see again the leafy little fellows that are among my darlings in this lifetime.
We made a flying trip to your city last Monday, on that horribly solid cold day that ripped right into your bones when you set foot out the door. Since my vehicle isn't reliable for longer trips anymore, my friend Bev had generously offered to drive me to my appointment, and so it was an hour-and-a-half in the dentist's chair and the rest of the day chitting, chatting, and navigating pavement, traffic, stores and people.
Bev has just done a complete re-haul of her eating habits in order to help vanquish the cancer she was diagnosed with a month or two ago. A local healer has pronounced her cancer-free now, twice, and Bev is continuing with other treatments in consultation with a naturopath. Bev wants to blog about it, so I've been helping her get that set up.
And I've been making fudge. Marathon four hours yesterday. Might as well do it all at once, for efficiency's sake. Taking it to the farmers' market this Saturday.

At the Faculty of Dentistry, U of Saskatchewan campus

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Old Poet's Waking

From Grandma's pitcher collection

The Old Poet's Waking

The old man's heart woke,
no longer in love with treble and bass, 
without weeping or laughter.

In the true bewilderment of soul
he went out beyond any seeing, beyond words
and telling, drowned in the beauty, 
drowned beyond deliverance.

Waves cover the old man. 

Nothing more can be said of him.

He has shaken out his robe,
and there's nothing in it anymore.

There is a chase where a falcon
dives into the forest
and does not come back up.

Every moment, the sunlight
is totally empty and totally full.

From A Year With Rumi; Daily Readings translated by Coleman Barks.
My thanks to Julie, who gave me this book.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Limit

My great-aunt moved into the seniors' lodge in town two years ago, and I finally — finally! — got over to see her. Two years goes by in a wink and a whisper. Why is that?

Her beau Jerry was with her, and Scott and I had a visit with them both.
Jerry is a storyteller, and he has stories to tell.
Aunt Vera giggled at one of them, and exclaimed "Oh Jerry, you're the limit!"

I made them pose for a photo before we left.
Aunt Vera was worried about her hair. I told her she always looks good — which she does. I told her I needed the photo to show her daughter Lois and all the grandkids, so she conceded.

We had tickets for dinner theatre and it was a warm, windless evening. Scott's brother Bruce was one of the singing co-stars and I noticed when the curtains closed for the first intermission, none of us in the audience could wipe the grins off our faces. 
Is this some kind of grebe? Or a duck? Doesn't matter — we had a real spring day, with heat and everything!

This morning I called Ducky the Doodle Dog "Everett." Huh? Made me laugh.