Wednesday, July 24, 2013


It's not often that I venture into the bush, as I'm nervous as a deer in unfamiliar places with long grass where anything could be hiding. There are always two dogs with me, so they would alert me to any wild animal nearby, but still ... I was much more confident yesterday, with another person along.

So yesterday Everett and I went "wildcrafting," which I intended to do for an hour but we ended up out there under the hot sun for two. I was looking for plants away from roads and exhaust fumes, and we were in luck — came home with more wild bergamot leaves, more yarrow, and a shitload more wild raspberry leaves to be dried. We also found a fabulous stand of chokecherry bushes, with the unripe fruit hanging in grape-like clusters from the branches. I don't do anything with chokecherries, so they will be left for the birds I guess.

There was a hard rain last night so it will be too wet to go a-wandering again today. But we'll go again, maybe tomorrow.

Linde, re wasps: 
Take a paper lunch bag, blow it up, tie it at the opening, and hang it high in the vicinity where wasps are a problem. Apparently they will think it's another wasp nest and will move out or stay away. Let me know if it works for you!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Personal Assistant

Scott was gone to Calgary to help son Gunnar build a deck onto his house. The dog, Tank, chose the only two boards pushed together as a place to snooze in the sun.

I am working son Everett for six hours every weekday, with jobs around the house and yard.

"You are a horrible boss," he says, because I tell him what needs to be done shortly before it's time to do it. He would prefer a list made up in advance, and perhaps no choices.

So this morning I sat down and filled out this week's calendar for him. He'll be weeding, washing cupboards, washing walls, cleaning the bathroom, bathing Ducky, bagging up the recycling, cleaning the freezer, CLRing my glass pitchers, and accompanying me on after-the-dew's-gone morning walks to find and pick medicinal wildflowers around the field across the road.

I love it. So many of these little jobs are always hanging over my head, "shoulds," that I don't get around to as often as I'd like. It's wonderful to have a personal assistant. We all need one.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Broken Dink

It's a gorgeous rainy day.

The farmboys are looking for a new bull.  The old one broke his dink!

Who knew?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dr Who and Videogames and Magpie Thieves

Everett heads for the weed patch, transistor radio in hand.
"Mom! Come and see this," he called from the foot of his bed.

I dried my hands on a tea towel and joined him at the window.

"The magpies are pulling tomatoes off." He pointed at two of them in the garden.

Now we know who's been picking the strawberries.


In the evenings, Everett has been gently guiding me into Dr Who.  We have watched all of the season with Christopher Eccleston (best grin ever) and just finished the second episode with David Tennant as the Doctor. Monstery aliens or fight scenes — yawn — but there's humour and sweetness in the stories and some use of historical figures as the show's protagonists travel in time. I got a kick out of their version of Queen Victoria with bad teeth, which I suppose was common enough back in the day, even for the wealthy and famous.

We are watching the shows together, most evenings; it's that, or he'd like me to play videogames with him. In those I have been totally unable to stir up any enthusiasm, and haven't really given them a college try. Fifteen minutes of making my character drive, shoot, sneak, jump, solve puzzles, collect jewels or clues or energy, etc., and I'm outta there, bored.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Perogy Factory

Everett spent 5 hrs yesterday making perogies. I was ravenous at suppertime, and started my meal with a tomato and some homemade beans while waiting for water to boil so I could cook some up.

Do we love onions, much? 
After we'd all had our fill, perogies were frozen on cookie sheets. This morning I bagged up 7 dozen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Kind of Writers' Block

The weeds that got away on us, and a young man with nothing better to do on a sweltering day.

There can be this powerful pull to "get something on paper," and then I find myself without any idea how to translate the language of my soul. It's as if there is a great big ball of meaning that simply will not be squeezed into straight little sentences, not even if I knew what it was I am bursting to express. And often I don't.

Sometimes motivation or heart's desire seems larger or deeper than the everyday life's opportunity to fulfil it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July Days

The camera makes my walking road seem much shorter than it is. But look at these hills! The great undulating hills of Saskatchewan!

Flowers found with broken stems or hidden behind other plants get clipped and brought into the house. Here are today's rescues:

And it's harvest time for wild raspberry leaves, from which a tea for the lady parts may be made. These have been rinsed three times and the water's been spun out; they'll sit on these tea towels overnight and then probably will need, because of the high humidity in the house,  to be dried by the light of the oven.

Wild yarrow picked yesterday was, after rinsing, spinning, and airing for several hours on the counter, put into lunchbags with holes snipped to let moisture out. The hope is that the brown paper will absorb excess humidity. These sat on the window ledge for 24 hours but have been moved to the oven, where the heat from the oven light should help them dry. If leaves and stems were hung anywhere in this house right now, they would take forever to dry.

Scott has been away for 10 days or so, and noted upon his return that the house smells musty. Our clothing, hanging in the closet, smells musty. My books probably smell musty; perhaps our bedding and towels do. When we're here all the time, we get used to it and don't notice. A few days away and we are reminded when we walk back in.

The next plan of attack regarding this godawful ridiculous humidity situation is to do with the basement — tearing out the last of some old wooden shelving, mucking around with cement, hauling up and out every possible thing that may have absorbed moisture, and so on.

An air-exchanger is going to be a must, anyway ... or so I think.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

After the Storm

It was a stormy, rainy day, but the evening was beautiful and permitted Everett and me to take a walk to the inlaws' farm a mile away and bring back our old dog, who had been gone since the magpie/powerpole event several days ago.

At one point yesterday afternoon the power went out and came back on again, along with all the electric lights and appliances in the house, except for my iMac, and that was worrisome. We thought it was kaput. Everett informed me that I did not have it plugged into the surge protector (I was too stupid for words, he implied, disgusted). I began the sheepish struggle to accept that due to my own ineptitude I no longer had a computer and had lost 10 years worth of images and other files. And then he fiddled with it, unplugged and replugged it, and it came on. Yay! But I still can't save any files to disk because I don't know how. Apparently I have to find and download an app, he says, that allows me to do it. Meanwhile I stuck a DVD into the slot and, not only will nothing copy to it, but it won't come out. Some days I really hate not knowing enough about computers.

This was all shortly after I'd read through and proofed my uncle's introduction to his memoir, and thought I'd have to do it again, and was glad I'd only done one section and not lost a whole lot more!

Here is a short excerpt from the memoir of this retired US Navy man, now in his eighties:

"I shut my eyes and imagine myself on the bridge of a ship clearing the harbor and heading for the open sea. I can hear the shrill of the seagulls, see them in flight and smell the sweet scent of the salt and the sea. My blood begins to run hot and heavy, my breathing becomes labored and my day restless with a desire to re-live the excitement I experienced in those exotic lands beyond the horizon."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Karen & Everett

Everett with his Auntie Karen

We thought Everett looked like an Amish man, or maybe a Hutterite, with his whiskers-under-chin look. When Bev was here, we tried describing the way Hutterite men dress and how the colony lives (do we know what we are talking about? not really). Everett thought we were pulling his leg.

At the farmers' market on Saturday, Karen pulled up some photos on her iPhone to prove we were not.

Are we really such bullshitters that we'd've been lying to the lad about this?

Apparently so.

The market was slow again, but I sold much of what I took, and afterward made some excellent trades with Karen, who brought bread and buns.

This week I added lemon honey to my wares, thinking ohmygoditwillneversellatthisprice! But it did, and well enough to surprise me.

Every week I learn something new about marketing and presentation. As you can see, we have a long way to go before this table will be irresistible.

This week's lesson: don't pile your cardboard boxes where they are visible.

It was a tough week as far as productivity went. By the time the broken glass in the candy thermometer was discovered, I wasn't sure when it had happened. Two batches of butterscotch fudge and a batch of almond rocha had to be thrown in the garbage because of course no risk can be taken with glass. From now on I'm not even going to use a breakable candy thermometer; maybe no thermometer at all.

Also, has anyone heard what we are to do with thermometers destined for the garbage? Surely anything containing mercury can't go to the dump, just as prescription drugs and leftover paint are not to.


In our area there is a weather warning for this afternoon: thunderstorms, lightning, rain, tornado.
Wonder if the plant pots should be taken from the deck and set on the ground.
Big winds in summers past have blown over well-established giant evergreens behind the house and lifted heavy Adirondack chairs right off the back step.
Even more likely is that the power may go out, and I won't be able to work on the computer this afternoon.
So goodbye for now!
On to ...
Chapter One of Uncle Carl's memoir, working title: Random Thoughts from a Rocking Chair. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Living Room

Cathy came out from the city last Sunday and spent the night.

Me to Everett this morning:
So, what do you want to do today? Wanna go anywhere?"

No. Stay home.

Me too.

We had company last night around the time I was dyeing two small loads of clothing via machine (thanks for the tip, Cathy! it was simple and easy and no mess and now seems as if I have four new tops). As we sat at the supper table, there was a loud blast, a flash of light outside, and the power went out. We all ran out to see what happened. A magpie had committed electrical harikari on the power pole and lay dead at its foot. Jenna Doodle, Fearer of Thunder, hasn't been seen since; she vamoosed over to the inlaws' yard a mile away.

Whispy strips of verticalish clouds that floated over and soon beyond are apparently called "mares' tails," and are indicators of rain within 24 hours. We shall see. The sky's clear blue today so it doesn't seem likely. But I did water the flowers last night and this morning, so ... rain wouldn't surprise me either.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Raining in My Basement

Where was this T-shirt when I wanted to send a pic of it to Jolene during her hospital struggles?

In our basement, the relative humidity reading is 98% when we go down in the morning, after closing the bedroom window, to press a button and turn the dehumidifier on.

One unfortunate result is that fudge doesn't harden as it ought. There will be a shortage at my market table this weekend.

Perhaps one could improve the situation by leaving the windows closed all night as well as all day during the heat, and letting the dehumidifier run 24 hours a day, but no. It's summer, dammit, and I'm going to open the windows once in a while. Even if it's only in the cool of the evening, to sleep.

The two batches of caramel corn made early in the week didn't want to dry and harden as usual. Everett has volunteered to lick up anything that isn't fit for marketing, bless 'im.


Friends from high school have kept me company this week - my trip to the dentist resulted in a crown - I visited the big bus that travels giving mammograms - pap smear is next - strawberry picking at Cara's this afternoon.

At Lily's garage sale in Kuroki after her passing, her bicycle decided to come home with me, and it is the most perfect fit (thank you, Lily!) I can't remember ever being so comfortable on a bike; next - another chance to ride it. Perhaps tonight.

Tomorrow will be taken up by preparations for the market on Saturday. Sunday will be a day of rest. Monday is to tackle Uncle Carl's memoir and keep at it all week.

And that's my life lately. What have you been doing?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Wanna See What a Tick Bite Looks Like?

An infected woodtick bite is about the size of a nickel.
After about five days of antibiotics, the mark had cleared up pretty much completely. But before that, everyone who saw it exclaimed, "Ewwww!"

The prescription needs to be finished so I'm still taking the damn things. And eating yogurt. And drinking minimal coffee and booze. BTW, those Smirnoff's Vodka Ice coolers are vunderbar. As soon as these pills are gone, I'm a-goin' to go buy me some.

And there are still ticks around. I caught one on me yesterday and Scott is still pulling them ("fat ones") off Jenna Doodle in spite of the treatments we have given to our dogs to prevent bites.


Joan and her family stopped in for a couple hours yesterday on their way to Saskatoon to visit friends before heading back to Kelowna. In the evening I transplanted strawberries from pots into the garden (yes, we have a vegetable garden area again!) and today it's time to start putting this place back in order. I've been on the go long enough to let things slide. And we won't even talk about the condition of my office and bedroom; they need some serious sorting and reorganization, long overdue. I have too many clothes (love clothes) and too many books (love books) and too many papers to dispose of. We're living in controlled chaos here, my friends — bad feng shui! Call it what you will, but it absolutely does affect my state of mind when there isn't cleanliness and order in my surroundings. I'm not particularly fussy, or shooting for perfection or fancyness, but I like things tidy and want to quickly find whatever I'm looking for.

Scott gets irritated when I've put things away that he's left lying about. Put them away yourself then, I tell him; or suck it up and be grateful you don't have to live among piles of "stuff." Without me, he'd have to push grocery flyers, newspapers and envelopes out of the way whenever he sat down at the kitchen table.

He gets even more irritated when I can't immediately remember where I've put something, or don't remember seeing it at all. Sometimes he's put it away himself and forgotten, and I get blamed. Ah, the trials and tribulations of domestic life! But it doesn't slow me down any when I get into a cleaning frenzy. As my friend Rod used to say when his wife didn't appreciate all the hours he spent out in his woodworking shop, "I could have worse habits. It's not as if I'm spending all my time in the bar, is it?" I liked his logic.

Once in a while Scott threatens to clean up my stuff, and see how I like it. I just laugh. That'll be the day. He can barely pick his own socks off the floor before he runs out of them and has no choice. Here my behaviour may seem a little contradictory, for I refuse to put his dirty clothing into the laundry basket. Instead, if they've lain on the floor of our shared bedroom for more than a week or two, which drives me nuts, and I get around to it, I have been known to stuff them into a black garbage bag and put them in a closet out of sight. As a matter of fact, he still hasn't gone through a bag that's been sitting in a spare room for the past three months, if not longer. One day it could just disappear altogether, and apparently he would never notice anything is missing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Family Days

Barbecue with my family on [nephew] Marc & Michelle's deck near Margo.

Dad with his children... the "four ugly sisters."

My niece Cara with her hubby Kris.

My nephew Ben, who has been gaining weight and is now 35 pounds. He is Joan and Gary's little fella.

Dad with his eldest granddaughter and all his great-grandchildren (three are Cara's; she is holding Marc & Michelle's baby, Lexi, and Joan's daughter Jordan is in the green top).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Man, She is Hot

One 5-minute downpour Friday night was followed by heat & humidity that still hasn't let up. Pretty nice weather for outdoor visiting in and around "the big tent," though. Better than cold and rain.

A pie-throwing contest was a fundraiser and these cousins, among others, were darn good sports about it. Apparently the pies were tasty too. 
Sign tacked up on the wall of the big tent.
Dad's cousin Orilea, party planner extraordinaire, along with her husband Bob, pulled off a smashing gathering for well over 100 relatives. I am still in awe of all the thought and effort that went into it, and somewhat ashamed of my own energy levels and ambition in comparison. I'll say it again: Wow. I'm not sure I'd ever have the guts to tackle it, myself.

These are the only pictures I took. The camera hung off a belt loop on my jeans till the last morning. What the -- ? Guess I was too busy yakking. (And yes, jeans in this sky-high temperature, in an effort to avoid sunburn. Spose I should be thankful that only my neck, shoulders and nose burnt, considering I didn't manage to stay in the shade every moment and obviously didn't apply enough sunscreen.)

We had a bus tour to the small village of Lintlaw, near which our grandparents (my great-grandparents) raised their nine children (out of 12) who survived to adulthood. The tour came complete with two knowledgeable and entertaining guides who provided family history and memories. We learned that Engdahl was not originally the family name! Back in Sweden it was Isacksson, and our great-grandfather made up a new one for himself after arriving in the States at age 17. Apparently "eng" was the name of a place he had lived back in the old country, and "dahl" means "valley" -- however Google's doesn't appear to know anything about these words. It thinks "eng" is German.

Anyhoo, it was an enjoyable weekend and then Dad, my sister Joan and family, and brother Cameron have been here since last week so we have been cramming in even more visiting together since the weekend. We gathered with Mom's family to bury Grandma's ashes on Sunday afternoon and then descended upon Karen's lakefront deck to visit some more and fill our faces at suppertime. This we repeated just down the road from her place yesterday, at my nephew's, and tonight supper is on me.

But it's going to be take-out, or going to town, because I can't bear the thought of turning on the oven or even the top of the stove to prepare something that could go into the slow-cooker or electric oven and be plugged in outside. The house, which seems cool enough this afternoon when you come in from the great outdoors, would be an inferno tonight.

Maybe air conditioning would be nice to have! We've thought that there are so few really hot days here, annually, that we can live without it. And of course we can. But these hot days do curb your options in the kitchen, that's for sure, which is why I am never completely sorry to see the end of summer.

For now I'm not complaining. We needed the heat.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Still Kickin, but Just Barely

View from back step.
Whew. Hot, busy weekend at the family reunion, and then another family get-together to bury Grandma's ashes yesterday... this morning I've managed to spend a couple hours resting and relaxing and am off again to spend the afternoon with my sisters near Margo. Our dad and our brother Cameroni Bumboni will be there later too, if not now ... they were out golfing earlier today.

Finally it's summer here. I'm taking antibiotics for a tick bite (forgive me if this is repeat info; I can't always remember what's already been posted) and was to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen if I couldn't. Well I couldn't, and I did, but burned anyway. The sun, she is vicious!

[Cousin Gloria:  Rick said he'd sent me a message. I haven't received it!]