Monday, September 30, 2013

Prairie Pyramids

the autumn gold of stubble 
A lot of crops are still in the field, and we've had rain recently so things came to a standstill, but the yields this year are so good that many farmers don't have bin space for all the grain they're taking off the land. Thus we are seeing these prairie pyramids all over the place:

grain poured into a pile till there's a place to put it

Even those temporary plastic grain-covers (what kind of farm girl am I, to not even know what they are called? they look like giant white worms lying out in the stubble) are sold out of the agricultural supply stores, or so I'm told.

Today is windy and sunny, so the combines will be out again any moment.

We got a bed over to Everett's little house in town, and packed up dishes from the open cabinets at our old house, and dropped them off in boxes with towels and bedding at the rental house. He said he will wash all the kitchen stuff before putting it away, since it's been sitting collecting dust. I offered to help, and was told No Thanks, I'll Do It Myself. I think he is starting to get excited about having his first place and looks forward to having things just the way he wants them.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cold Trumps Heat, for Walking

Emil exits the Co-op store
I do not like the sweatpants and baggy T-shirt look, but I do like that his primary caregiver at Mallard Industries now does Emil's clothes-shopping, so I do not complain! I love that his primary caregiver is taking over the responsibility of driving him to appointments with the doctor and the dentist, too.

Speaking of which, he visited both, today, so I wonder how he is feeling. I'll be picking him up for the weekend in just a few hours, so I'll find out then. He apparently needs two fillings, after never having a cavity in his life (what's going on? six months ago he cut out sweets drastically from his diet, and now he gets cavities? it makes no sense), and needles to freeze his gums are not going to be easily handled, methinks. Could be my presence will be helpful when that happens. Then again, sometimes it's worse for "kids" when their parents are there, so I don't know what will be best.

Aunt Reta and I drove to Canora yesterday to visit with Joanne Bohl, who is a resident at the care home there. The hour-and-a-half we were at her bedside flew by; we will make a point of going again before Reta flies back to Phoenix. I encouraged Joanne to start blogging again, as it was a great way to hear from her regularly and she is certainly experiencing things, living in a nursing home at her young age (she is only in her sixties), that are far from as dull to readers as she herself may consider them. She said she might be able to cobble together an entry that included our visit yesterday. I suggested she mention how goodlooking and charming I was. We shall see! Ha.

It's a cool one today, and I have been baking caramel corn for Missy's Market and doing dishes and am about to go for a walk before heading to town for errand-running and son-picking-up-age. Two years ago, when I began my "health" walks at the beginning of June, I was afraid of not being able to keep them going once the cold weather of winter came. Now it's just the opposite: it's the hot weather of summer that puts a crimp in my routine. Fall and winter are absolutely perfect for brisk walking. It's a rare day when the cold — usually the wind, actually — turns me back at the end of our driveway. But heat and humidity, well, they can do a lot of damage. There have been times I've slowed to a crawl and felt like stopping completely, and wondered if I actually would make it home again. Heat exhaustion, I guess it was, or dehydration; I'm still not sure.

Anyway off I go, to keep my heart healthy and maintain my "girlish figure." Nyuk!

By the way, those of you who are active on Twitter: How do you do it??? Is it just a matter of getting into the habit? How do you find things to tweet about? What do you want your Twitter friends to tweet about? Do tell.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Credit Card Scam

Tiniest,  sourest crabapples in the world. Hope the deer like them this winter. 
"Ms J?"


"You have a TD Visa card, you always pay your balance off each month, and you've just received your new card in the mail, correct?"


"You are entitled to a lower interest rate, which will be applied to your new card. But not to the one you are currently using, the old one."


"So, can you tell me the expiration date on that card, please?"


"Why not?"

I'm not giving you any information.

CLICK. The bastard hangs up.

Never give these callers any information. I don't care who's calling; even if they seem legit, they aren't. As a matter of fact, I often hang up without even speaking to them. However, sometimes those scammy-sounding calls are actually calls we want, so now I listen till I'm sure ... till they ask for information of any sort.

Don't fall for it. I have friends who have, whose bank accounts got cleaned out. Don't think you can't be fooled. You may learn the hard way that these criminals are good at what they do.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life As We Know It

Mountainous cloud formations were seen on the drive to town one morning at 7:30.
It's going to be a busy week. I've got to finish those books for Scott today, no matter what.

He's working in town now, which means I don't have to drive in with Everett in the mornings, but will still pick him up at five. And, we have found a nice little old house for him to move into at the beginning of next month, so he can walk to work and get away from his horrible mother, who drives him insane with her warbling and door-knocking and interrupting to request things, and so on and so forth.

On the other hand, my son and I still have 44 old episodes of Dr Who to watch in the next 59 days, before the new season starts. He has seen them all, but I am new to the story and he is leading me through. How are we going to manage that when he's not living here? Marathon weekends, I guess. Pfft. I can't sit still that long. Or maybe I can. I don't want to.

Imaginary aliens remain uninteresting to me, but I like the people stories. I like finding common ground with Everett, even if it means watching science fiction.

An episode of the science show Quirks & Quarks on CBC Radio recently stated that the Kepler telescope has informed us there are hundreds of millions of planets out there, circling the stars. With those numbers, surely there will be some that support life, maybe even life similar to that here on earth. Now that I find exciting.

This week will require organizing utility accounts for the kid, finding and moving furniture, packing up dishes and bedding and towels, and so on. The lad only has Saturday afternoons and Sundays off, and of course the evenings, to do all this. His horrible mother will have to help. I guess there's nothing saying he has to be ready to stay there on the 1st of the month. He just has to be ready to pay the rent.

Well, there goes the stove timer I set for myself so I wouldn't sit at this desk for more than an hour at a time. On with the sunny day!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Time Flies

There are no more standing crops to be seen.
Instead there are flocks of migrating geese stopping for an overnighter in the stubble.
And I caught a glimpse of a mother moose and her young'un when I looked back past my own driveway. Click to enlarge.
 It's been a lazy morning. I awoke amid an uncomfortable night accepting it would be a pill-required day, so got up at 4:30ish and took one. Coffee was delivered to the nightstand after Scott got it brewed a couple hours later, but I ignored it and burrowed deeper into my pillow.

Everett came into the bedroom and tapped on my hip shortly after 7 so I'd get up and ride along to town with him; I'd heard him ask Scott "So what's the plan?" meaning "Am I catching a ride with you or do I need to get Mom up?" and receiving the reply "I'll be going to work," the no-brainer, really, as there is literally no day when Scott is not going to work.

I got up to get ready, but felt pretty shitty, and told Everett to knock on the bathroom door and "Ask him so he understands what you really want to know: 'Are you going to town before 8?' "

He did so and the response was that Everett could catch a ride; Scott refilled my coffee cup before they left; I sat up for a few more minutes wondering if coffee might help if I just got more of it down my neck, and realized things were not going to improve unless I slept some more. So I curled up on the couch with Ducky Doodle my trusty cuddler, and voila, a couple more hours did the trick. A phone call at 10 kept me from wasting the entire morning away, so I've been up ... but not "at 'er."

Guess it's time to start. I've got Scott's books to finish up, and dishes to do, and a walk to take. And then it will be time to head for town to get Everett home, and then it will be time to cook up some supper. And time flies, flies, flies.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dogs' Life

Ducky, left,  with his sweetheart, Jenna

Dogs have a pretty good life, don't they?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dairy Bar for Sale

Biker stops at drive-thru window
Six days a week I pick Everett up at work, and every other day I make him drive around town for a half-hour in hopes he'll acquire the confidence to book his driver's test. He bitches and complains (which is why I don't make him do it every day; I can't stand being in the same vehicle with the whining), but I say Hey! I am not driving you forever, boychik!

For now I don't mind, although on frosty mornings like today it's a little tough to push myself out into the cold.

On warm days we too often lately stop at the drive-thru for an ice cream cone for Ma, who figures it will be closed in a month so we might as well take advantage before it's too late. I'm partial to Rolo ice cream. Everett won't eat anything — not even fries — while he's driving, as it is too distracting, he says. But one day last week he ordered a "blizzard" and pulled into the elementary school parking lot so he could spoon it up while I hurried through the ice cream. You have to: even though I always order a "small," it's huge and melting all over the place if you don't keep it licked. Dirty job, but somebody has to ....

The dairy bar has been up for sale for more than a year already. Any takers out there? Long hours for half the year, hard work, but "they" say these little drive-thrus are deadly moneymakers. This particular one has been a busy place ever since I was a teenager and we'd drive here from Margo on weekend nights for a burger and fries, and of course in hopes of meeting up with other teenagers on the prowl. It's changed hands several times but still seems to be a going concern.

The deep-fried pickles are to die for.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Hour in the Field

1:15pm Tuesday, it's hot, sunny and windy. The phone rings.
"We could use something to eat out here. Would you ...?"
I have just finished eating a bowl of freshly concocted Mexican soup myself. It's loaded with black beans, tomatoes, corn, and celery; it's practically stew. It will have to do, as it's well past lunchtime, they'll be starving, and I can't think of anything else to prepare in a hurry. I pack up two bowls of the soup, topped with grated cheddar and chopped red onion; two plastic spoons; two large chunks of chocolate cake; and several low-alcohol beers. Then I get on my way.
Scott's brother Bruce  is squatted down by the window of the car,  finishing his lunch. He's been pulling the baler.

The combining is nearly done, and there are half a dozen vehicles and machinery scattered about the land. I ask if they need any help and am told yes, they could use me to drive the bale wagon:
Twenty round bales will be loaded up.

I get in behind the biggest steering wheel in the world.

Scott, in the tractor, picks up and loads the bales.

I've got the easy job, just following him around the field.

It doesn't take long, and by the time it's done, the last load of grain is emptied out of the combine hopper and I drive the grain truck home:

That's it for the harvest for these guys. Now there's just field work to be done; cultivating, that sort of thing. And more bales to be brought home.
Around the neighbourhood, many farmers are still in full swing. But for our family, the pressure is off for this year. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Growing Vocabulary

Murder mysteries by Ruth Rendell are usually pretty good. Not always, but usually. However, a dictionary close by is handy because there are often words I'm not clear on.

For instance, I knew that "verdigris" is that green stuff you see on copper. But I didn't actually know what it is.

"The copper plate had turned bright green with verdigris."

Verdigris: a green crystallized substance formed on copper by the action of acetic acid.

When my dictionary isn't handy (say I'm reading in bed when I come across something I don't understand), I pull my notebook out of the night-stand and scribble down the word and its neighbours so it can be looked up later:

"atmosphere that subsisted between the two men"

Sure I know what "subsistence" means, but this seemed an unusual use of the word. And in this particular edition of the book I was reading, there were a lot of typos. So worth checking:

Subsist: 3) reside or exist in

Okay, makes sense enough.

"A section of wall with coping along the top of it"

I'm always learning words that describe building materials. You do, if you don't just skip over them in order to get on with the story.

Coping: the top (usu: sloping) course of masonry in a wall or parapet.

"they like chucking their gash about"

This must be British slang for cash, or money. Alex — Is that correct?

"The baby had begun to grizzle"

Grizzle: cry fretfully; complain whiningly.

"when it comes time to enlighten the tyro"

Tyro: a beginner or novice

"a narrow vitrine in the rear wall"

Vitrine: a glass display case

So much vocabulary, so little time!

And now it can't be put off any longer: the kitchen counter is full of dirty dishes since I started late yesterday afternoon to bake a chocolate cake for Scott's birthday (he turned 54) and throw together Beef All-in-One Macaroni for a quick supper (Emil is home with a cold and needed feeding up, and then I ran some grub out to the field where the gents were combining till well after dark and Scott was already getting a headache, he said when I got there, so was happy to see me, bolted down the vittles, and hopped back up on the combine) and boil up some corn on the cob (purchased from the local Co-op store and shucked by Everett after work). The kitchen was spotless when I started, honest! But by the time I got back from the field, I figured to hell with it: I'd face the mess in the morning. And so I must.

And then I'm going to make some fudge for the market this Saturday. This could be the last sunny warm day of the season, so it needs to be taken advantage of; sunny days are best for making fudge, or so the story goes. And there are two cobs of corn that weren't eaten; I'm going to slice off the kernels and throw them into Mexican Soup, one of my favourites and thus a standard around our house. And I'm trying to get Scott's books organized so he can get his 2012 business taxes paid; a year's worth of invoices and bills to sort through, extract numbers from, and add up before handing the whole mess over to Don, the accountant who will make sense of it all. And last but not least, I am going for a walk! It's glorious out there. Windy but sunny and warm, and the huge gaggles of geese are not only flying over, but they are parking themselves in the fields around our yard and are absolutely thrilling to hear. American hunters have been driving in to inquire in their southern drawls "Who owns the land?" so they can request permission to go a-shooting. They get their thrills in a different way than I do.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear Friends

After work one afternoon, Everett picks up a few groceries and some RO water for coffee.

11:07 a.m.
Here I am, sitting down for the first time since 8 o’clock, after returning home from the drive to town with Everett. The last three hours have been spent mixing up bread dough, making a double batch of puffed wheat cake, throwing laundry into the washing machine downstairs, and so on ... constantly on the move. 

I have also been doing dishes — they seemed never to end — and transferring the makings of chokecherry liqueur from one two-quart sealer to another, since the first one seemed to be leaking.

The bread is for some folks who special-order it, and the puffed wheat cake is for the market, so I am wearing a hair net while in the kitchen. That is the thing I most dislike about cooking for others. I don’t much like wearing a hat when working or walking in the sun, either, so it comes off at the earliest opportunity.

Everett needed sun protection while working in the lumber yard, and was determined it would be a fedora. He tried on some hats and didn’t find any that fit, but when Scott and I were in Humboldt a few weeks ago I picked one up that I thought would be perfect. It was made of a breathing type of material that would keep the sun off yet let heat escape. If Everett didn’t like it, Scott said he’d wear it at work himself, so I brought it home.

Everett turned his nose up immediately, without even trying it on. Why? Don’t ask me. It’s his way: to judge without experience. It’s what we often do at age 20, I suppose; we can be unusually narrow-minded know-it-alls at that age, and if that changes by the time we’re 50, we may congratulate ourselves.

Eventually the lad gave it a shot, though, and he’s been loving it ever since. Just the other day he said, “I never thanked you for the hat. Thank you.” I'm not sure, but he might wear it to bed nowadays. Ding! "Mother Knows Best." Next, to get him to unbutton the collars of his shirts and perhaps even roll up the sleeves once in a while. We have wondered if he is ashamed of his body or what, but he says "What's to be ashamed of? I like to be neat." Ohhh...kaaay... then why won't he iron his wrinkly shirts? 

12:06 p.m.
The second sealer seems to be leaking, too. What's going on? They both leave a wet ring on the counter. A one-quart sealer full of pickled beans doesn't do that. It's a mystery.

I was at my sister Karen's one morning this week and we had a few sips of chokecherry liqueur she made. It was so divine that I came home that very afternoon and picked chokecherries around the old house where we used to live, to make my own. Here's the recipe:

Chokecherry Liqueur

3 cups chokecherries
1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar

Clean berries and place with sugar in a quart jar, fill with vodka, put the lid on and set jar somewhere that you'll remember to give it a shake every day for two weeks. Then strain out the berries and voila: you've got chokecherry liqueur. Keep the finished product in the fridge. 

We had frost two nights ago but hadn't been out to cover tomatoes or peppers, so Scott picked a few the next day. It looks like they'll be all right. Have I mentioned fall is my new favourite season? It smells great, it's warm but not hot, and there are no mosquitoes to speak of. 

Yesterday I baked bread with organic whole wheat flour. This is my second attempt with the organic flour (besides being made from grain grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, the flour hasn't been treated with dough conditioners and other crap that doesn't belong in human bodies), which came from a good number of miles away and thus can be a pain in the ass to get. 

It made a lovely dough, but I didn't like the end result; found it yeasty-smelling. This time I made some adjustments but still wasn't crazy about the bread. However, when Everett got home his eyes lit up and he polished off most of a loaf for supper and pronounced it excellent. Maybe I just have to get used to the difference between this flour and the regular stuff I've been using. 

A message from "ChickenCow Hearing Clinic" was left on our phone yesterday. What kind of handle is that for a hearing clinic? Strange.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


"Outlaws" at the farmers' market; photo courtesy of Alison Squires

I don't bake enough during the week prior to the market to fill an entire table by myself, so have been happy to have Scott's brother-in-law Walter bring Scott's sister Laurel's wild rice and related products to use up half the space.

His presence also frees me up to visit with other vendors and people who wander in. And to go to the washroom and floss my teeth.

Last Saturday I was going to drive Everett home after he got off work at 12:30 and leave Walter to hold down the fort. Instead Everett walked over to Aylesbury House to hang out with his brother, and so I stayed till the end. Fortunately there were a few more people through than there have been at recent markets, so I kept busy blabbing. That helps the hours pass, and I do enjoy meeting new people and visiting with friends and acquaintances. One of them (thanks Alison!) even bought me a piece of lemon meringue pie. It pays to go to the market! Maybe not so much in dollars, but money is not everything, is it? Nope, not by far.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Not Quite Eden

Emil looks out kitchen window while Scott and I sit by fire with a friend before supper on the weekend.

And then there are days when I have had it up to my eyebrows and if I could just find a halfway appealing door to escape through, I’d swing it wide open and make my exit. It’s not as if this is the only place in the world where I can see starlit sky from my doorstep and watch the moon make its path across my window as I lie on my pillow at night. There are quiet gravel roads to walk on all over this country, and wild birds are everywhere, and sometimes I feel so weighted down by all my own “stuff” that I could walk away from the piles of it without looking back and with very little regret. I don’t hang dirty laundry out here for all to see, but there is just as much of it in my life as in anyone else’s. Some days plain suck.

Not today, mind you. Today has been very pleasant. I didn't go to to Kelvington with Scott, though I could've. I've been working with him all week and gaining renewed admiration for the man's strength and skills on the job. What can I say; I always did like a man in a toolbelt. As a go-fer I save him countless steps and am happy to do it, but the heat really takes it out of me.

The siding on the upper part of the bungalow was finished yesterday, and today the boys will be digging up the soil around the foundation before adding styrofoam sheathing and vertical siding to complete the job. Extreme heat and humidity were forecast again, and I just couldn't make myself go along unless they really needed me. I'm not good at digging to start with, but add in this weather and ... no thank you, not if I could wangle out of it. Which I could. That's the beauty of living with the boss.

Instead I got the dishes done. They've been sitting on the kitchen counter bothering me (not enough, obviously) since Tuesday, when I baked caramel corn and got only half the dishes washed afterward. I've been too tired in the evenings since then, and so has everyone else in the house. Everett's been on his feet all day at his job, too, and when Scott and I arrive home and I collapse (or go water my poor parched flowerbeds first), he goes out to work in the field till dark! Gak! There must be some secret energy pills he keeps well hidden.

So instead of toiling in the heat, even in the shade, I've whipped up another treat this morning for the Saturday market, and had a leisurely bath, and got a load of towels washed and into the dryer, and seared a roast and put it into the slowcooker for Scott's supper. It's the least I could do, and Everett and I will find something else to eat. And, since I was awake for no good reason between 3 and 5 a.m., I've even lain on the couch for a wee rest. No sleep, but a rest nevertheless. Can't ask for more than that in the middle of the day, can we?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Morning in the Fall

Everett closes the gates one day last week after work 

6:06 a.m.
The radio beside my head comes on. The CBC news is ending and the morning program with Sheila Coles begins. I like her enthusiasm and curiosity and personality; critics might describe her tone as whiny, but you can’t please everyone.
She likes to include comments from those who are connected with her on Facebook and Twitter, and this rubs me the wrong way. If I wanted to know what her FB and Twitter listeners are saying, I could connect up with her account on FB and Twitter and find out for myself. I suspect this is a lazy way of filling up the minutes of the program, although if her listeners were writing letters and leaving phone messages that she shared over her show, I would like to hear some of them. I guess because that’s the only way I’d have access to them.
Perhaps I am being a codger.

7:30 a.m.
I am propped up in bed, drinking black coffee and scribbling into my journal. Everett comes to the bedroom door; who is driving in with him today? he wonders. I leap out of bed just as Scott enquires whether he should go or not, and say I’ll do it. I throw on jeans and a sweater, grab my keys and cellphone and sunglasses, and head out with my boy. It’s a beautiful morning, sunny but cool, with the scent of smoke in the air. In town after the lad’s gotten out of the car and I’ve taken over the wheel, although I’ve yet to wash my face, brush my teeth, comb my hair, or eat breakfast, I wish I had someone to go visit. It’s early and I don’t know who’d be up, so I drive slowly home.

8:30 a.m.
Scott’s truck is not home, but I thought we were going to Kelvington today to finish up the siding on Nedjelskis’ bungalow. 

Some of what we got done last week. That white styrofoam insulation? Try standing in front of that on the south side on a hot day.  Holy hanna. I thought I might pass out.

He must have gone over to the family farm to work on machinery for swathing or baling; there is always something to fix and maintain. Maybe he’s even gone to the field already, though there’s no sign that he’s had breakfast. This is foolish, as he gets nasty headaches when he doesn’t eat on time, and eat enough; however, he’s a grownup and has to take responsibility for his own condition, so I don’t worry. I make myself some scrambled eggs with cheese and toast some of Aunt Marj’s delicious bread, and check the email and my FB account while I eat, then clean the kitchen and wash up the dishes. A flock of white birds passes in a V high above the yard; snow geese already?

9:30 a.m.
I go out to the quonset to bring in supplies from the deep freeze: popcorn (farmers’ market is this Sat so caramel corn needs making), a roast and some short ribs and ground beef to make meals in the slowcooker if I’m away working with Scott for the rest of the week, as I expect to be. It’s not hot out and there is still no sign of the man, so there is time for a walk with the dogs. Yay! I haven’t been able to do this for a week! The heat’s been a deterrent by the time I get out there, or I've been too tired in the evenings after being on my feet all day. Off I go. The wind’s at my back as I stride to the corner ¾ of a mile south of our driveway, and I take off my jacket and sweater and tie them around my waist. When I turn back the wind is cold and the sweater comes back on, and my hand goes to my throat to protect against the chill. A flock of sandhill cranes circles overhead, gabbling as they do. Canada geese fly over. A garter snake with a red tongue appears on the gravel and I jump, then advise it to head for the ditch before the dogs notice. Too late — they’ve seen it — but I tell them to back off and they listen, and the snake makes it into the long grass in the ditch.

10:30 a.m.
The everbearing strawberries are blooming like it’s high summer, but few are ready and those that are have the toothmark of a rabbit or something in them. I decide to grab the horseshoe hoe and make short work of the weeds while I have this opportunity. I come in to change my shoes, and end up checking for phone messages (Scott may have called from the field to tell me what’s going on) and that gets me too close to the office and so I upload the photos from my camera and decide to write a little; after all I’ve just had a brisk walk and it won’t kill me to sit still for a few minutes. So here I am.

Strawberries weeded, flowers deadheaded (not all; some left to seed out and self-sow next spring), pots watered, cats fed (all four kittens, still shy and wildish, came up to nibble on the crunchies with their parents), and Scott stopped in to warm up leftovers for his brunch and make phone calls before jaunting off to the field to swath barley. Or whatever has to be done before he can get to it.

This is the best time of year. It’s sunny but neither too hot nor too cold, and outside is where you want to be. Hordes of dragonflies moved in last month so there aren’t many mosquitoes to make pests of themselves. It’s a harvesting day and my help has not been requested for anything, so I can do exactly what I please. What’s not to love? At this moment my life is pretty much perfect and I’m grateful to be right where I am.

I took a leisurely drive to the field yesterday to deliver a lunch.

And there's the morning gone already!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Checking out the Wayback Machine

The flower garden today

And here's where I was 4 years ago:

September 2009

And 3 years ago:

September 2010

2 years ago:

September 2011

1 year ago:

September 2012

In 2009 I was still living at the old house and coming over here once in a while. Or maybe it was the other way around.

The boys have both moved out and one has returned for now; the other still comes home for weekends.

Grandma has gone.

Otherwise these old entries might as well have been written now.
Are you still reading? Why?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Scene

One day of cold weather ... yay!!!!
Guess who got a batch of bread made.

It's supposed to warm up again today, so I hope to get some muffins made before it does.

This coming home after a hard day of working in the hot sun and then having to run around the kitchen to concoct something to eat ... well, damn, it's nearly impossible to do it with any finesse. I don't dare sit down before starting, or I won't get going again. It's obvious one needs to plan further ahead if this is going to keep up.

I got my hands on a power tool last week — an impacter — if you don't count the noise, it isn't a bad activity. I've handled an air nailer back in the day, so it's no big deal. What's a bigger challenge is getting more than two feet up a ladder and not feeling like I'm going to be pushed backward and fall off as soon as there is any kind of kickback from fastening something into a wall. Even holding up one end of a piece of siding that gets moved from the other end ... can knock me off balance. Scary.