Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Wind she blew the Snow about

And that's when you want to stay indoors where it's warm and comfortable and watch the snowbanks form on the other side of your window.

We are eating the most fabulous cabbage dish. And the easiest. I am in love.

Classic Stewed Cabbage
1/4 cup butter
2 onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium head cabbage, cut into squares
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in cabbage, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Pour in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover pan and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.

Tonight we had this in the fridge for leftovers, so I added a cup of water, a large tin of diced tomatoes, and half a cup of brown rice and let it simmer covered till the rice was cooked.
Mm Mm Mm.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lovin' Winter

Some people, when they come in the door after a hard day's work, crack open a beer and sit on the couch in front of the TV with their laptop on.

Some wash and dry dishes while starting supper.

Which do you think I am?


One of these years I'm going to get ahead of the game, as upon occasion I do, and have the breakfast dishes done before leaving in the morning, and supper prepared in advance so it only needs to be warmed up.

But it won't be today.


Yesterday I walked as far as the end of the driveway and turned back. It was friggin' cold out there, and windy. Over the weekend I watched snowbanks form around the yard. Pretty things. So pretty I took pictures—through the window.

Friends are returning from Mexico, and friends are flying off to warmer climes, and I feel no envy whatsoever. Winter is nearly over and I don't want to miss a moment of it.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Day Age 54

We stopped at the store to pick up a cake before leaving town after work on Friday. Emil was coming out for the weekend and was disappointed that he wouldn't be here Monday for birthday cake, assuming we'd be having one. We wouldn't have bothered, but for Emil's sake I bought a chocolate cheesecake and insisted we start celebrating my birthday early. So we had some last night and will have some again today, before he goes back to his home in town.

Friday was a mild day but for the wind, and I figured flowers would make it safely between building and vehicle, so grabbed a bright bouquet on my way to the frozen deli section. I didn't need cheering up, but they really do make me smile and feel good each time I walk past them on the kitchen table. It's the big yellow ones that do it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014


Emil likes to lie on a bed in the evening and relax.

Another week’s work well done.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Morning at Everett's

Since Tuesdays are a long day at the office, when we are often there till 7 o'clock (when the digital files get sent to the press; the paper comes out today), I have been coming over to Everett's to spend the night. He made cheese tortilla wraps for supper last night and had bought Dad's goodie rings to nibble on while watching Doctor Who. We generally take in two episodes; I have an entire season, or more, to catch up on.

Everett gets exasperated with me. I don't like the cybermen, the daleks, or any threatening space creature. I prefer, he says, shows with no conflict. I should watch Teletubbies, he says, rolling his eyes.

Kid's got me pegged.

I was enjoying the Downton Abbey period drama series until they introduced violence and rape to the storyline. It turned my stomach. I don't watch TV to have my stomach turned. I  watch it for entertainment, relaxation. I don't want to get my adrenalin pumping, thanks very much. It's fine in its everyday state, there when it's needed, not artificially stimulated by a little square box in my living room.

That said, I love it when the evildoers get what's coming to them. And that only happens on TV.

Evening at Home ~ north of driveway ~ looking south ~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mr Doodle

Ducky Doodle, age 7

Poor little sweetness now spends his weekdays alone in the house, snoozing.
So he makes sure to get his snuggling quota in the evenings, when he is never far from a lap, wherever one may be.

I know someone will ask, so here it is: deer-faced chihuahua.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wind Damage

Those wicked winds last week tore a good chunk of the house wrap off. Apparently it's of little concern*, as Scott found other things to do on the weekend rather than tack it back up. He even seriously considered driving to Humboldt to do some sales shopping and, had I agreed to go along, would've.

It was the last thing I felt like doing with a day off. I baked bread instead. Got the dishes done. Had a nice relaxing bath. Running around when I don't have to, even to please someone looking for a companion, seems unwise to me. All I wanted to do was stay home.

An old beau once translated this philosophy from French to English: "I like to please others, but not at my own displeasure." These are still words to live by, more than 30 years later. Maybe they allow me to be selfish or self-serving. I hope not. Maybe they remind me to respect and care for my own needs as much as those of others. I think so.

My sales shopping consisted of flipping through a Sears catalogue, circling the things I wanted to buy, underlining the order numbers, sizes and colours, and then throwing the catalogue onto a pile of recyclable papers in the porch. I don't need any of that stuff and won't be making any phone call to order it.

I do covet a good pair of pull-on walking boots though, and have my eye on a pair of Blundstones. I have shared this information with my spouse, who did not give me a Christmas present and feels sheepish—as well he should. My birthday is coming up so he can kill two birds with one stone, if he wishes. And if not, I shall buy them for myself. I'll be 55. Fifty-friggin-five! Still alive! Let's jive! I can't drive ... 55!

* As is often the case, there is method to Scott's madness. The torn house wrap is wrecked and has to be replaced with new.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Weekend Life

Two animals have been butchered and Scott divides up the packages of beef for private buyers.

It's 5:30 through a southwest window when I come inside.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The World comes to Me

Friends travel and bring back gifts.
Shelly knew I'd appreciate these colourful warm socks from Peru.
Cathy knew a wide-strapped bag from Myanmar would get good use from me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Calm after Storm

A walk with Jenna Doodle and Sara Doodle on the weekend

Wow, that was some wind. Wasn't it!

We spent part of our evening standing back, watching the picture window in the living room bend in and out, wondering whether it was going to break or what.

The ride home last night was a bit scary, what with the wind blowing snow so hard across the road that at times visibility was zero. Walking from vehicle to house, I thought it really could be possible for the wind to pick up someone and send them flying. I don't want to see what the house wrap looks like today. It won't be good. Still, at least our roof didn't get torn off, as I've heard happened to a building in Lloydminster.

I am all ready to go to work; just waiting, now, for Scott to finish with his cattle and pick me up before driving to a job in town.

We've started working on a website for the newspaper. See it here:
So far just a few pics from this week's edition, which came out yesterday.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Little Grace

When I was in Regina, the creative and kindly Jo Ann got inspired to finish the cloth doll she was making for me. At my request it was patterned on Mom, and when Jo handed it to me my heart filled. The print blouse, the gap between the front teeth, the blue eyes ... oh, what a lovely reminder Little Grace is, right down to the black leather shoes Jo made for her to wear.

For comparison:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Talk before Sleep

Lately the books coming home from the library have been less than stellar. I’ll see their authors interviewed on TV "mystery writer" or radio "author-interview" shows and they’ll seem interesting, or friends may recommend titles, and I'll order the books in.

To my surprise, even when they are well written they are still not engaging. You might think mysteries could never be that dull, but yes, they can. There are some mystery novels where things happen so slowly — if ever — that I lose interest in the story altogether. I don't care what happens to the characters, and return the book to the library, unfinished.

I like reading memoirs, but have been having the same problem with them. They are not holding my attention. They are not taking me out of my world and into theirs. 

Yesterday afternoon called for a break from work in the newsroom and I strolled over to the library to try again. Ignoring the mystery section and passing quickly over the biographies, I instead browsed through the shelf with books whose authors' surnames start with B and signed out three hardcover novels. 

Talk before Sleep, by Elizabeth Berg, was published 20 years ago, and is about friendship between women, one of whom is dying from breast cancer that has metastasized. 

Not only does the book address the feelings of helplessness and grief when a woman you love is dying, but it evokes the way your own everyday life goes into limbo as you focus on this huge event — watching someone suffer a death by degrees. There is some examination of the characters’ marriages and how they cope with disappointment and anger in various ways. But mostly it is about how women are so comfortable and caring with each other when they are really needed.

I started reading the book in the evening after getting into bed, and only put it down when my eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer. Ding! Points for Elizabeth Berg and Talk before Sleep. The novel articulates many of the emotions one navigates during times of crisis and loss, including the examination of how one has been living and whether new actions and change are required. I'd recommend it if you have a loved one who is ill or has died. 

After Mom passed away, I read Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, her memoir about what she went through after her husband's death from cardiac arrest. There was little in it that I could relate to, possibly because Didion was dealing with the sudden death of an intimate daily-life partner while I had time to say goodbye to Mom, take care of her, and build our mother-daughter relationship into something deeply profound. Perhaps mine and Didion's are two very different experiences; Didion's did not help me understand mine. But Talk before Sleep feels, in some ways, as if I could have written it myself.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fifty Below. What's That When It's at Home?

With the wind chill it's minus-50C today, I'm told. Those poor animals out there. How do they manage? I suppose many of them don't.
Maybe I'll stay in, good parka or not. Skin will freeze in minutes and I'm not sure where my balaclava is.
I've spent the day vacuuming, sweeping, doing laundry, changing bedding, moving living room furniture (poor Scott, it will mess him up when he gets back from his afternoon's occupations —feeding, watering and putting straw on the ground for the herd of cattle to bed down in tonight, driving Emil back to town for his work week that starts tomorrow after two weeks off, and going to a neighbour lady's to see what's what with her frozen water pipes —  but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do), washing dishes, talking on the phone to my aunt Shirley in Margo and my brother Cameron in St Albert, and sipping on a big bottle of Bailey's I picked up for the household as a Christmas treat.
Next: make pepperoni pizza for supper.
I'm looking forward to the new season of Downton Abbey, which starts tonight. There is something about the construction in conversation of proper English sentences that I love, whether in film or books. And of course, the period costumes and sets are fabulous. As are Dame Maggie Smith and the lady who plays her nemesis, Isobel Somebody. And Shirley MacLaine too, when she appears on the show.
It could be a good TV night, as Sundays often are. Doc Martin will be on, and there is a new Canadian series called The Best-Laid Plans that is a must-see. If I can just manage not to be put off by the frequency and repetitiveness of commercials on the ordinary (as opposed to public television) channels. Often I get up to do something during commercials, and never come back.
Last night I watched Django Unchained. The violence of Quentin Tarantino's films is not to my taste, but he does have a bizarre sense of humour and I do like those endings where the main characters ride off into the sunset alive and well, so I put up with the blood and guts and keep my fingers crossed all the way through.
I used to watch Boardwalk Empire too, liking the period sets and so on, till the bloody murdering got to be too much. Such shocking visuals tend to stay with me afterward; something I do not need to do to myself.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Parka and Plough

the new parka

My swanky new parka has a large, loose, pointy hood. When it is up, Scott says, if I had a green face I would look like a certain character in The Wizard of Oz.

That's my Scottie.

I think the old plough at the end of our driveway is an eyesore. He likes it and ignores my request to move it, saying, “If you had your way, the marker for our driveway would be a bookshelf.”

I hadn't thought of that, but now that he mentions it ... .

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Year Begins

Late afternoon light on slightly orangey-pink treetops south of our yard

This afternoon I went for a walk wearing my ski pants and brand-new handy-dandy parka (thanks to a generous aunt and uncle for whom I would edit for nothing but they insist on paying me when it is absolutely not necessary; I will be blessing them for the next 20 years as this parka keeps me toasty warm). It was 28-below, according to the thermometer on the half-ton, but the day was virtually windless and the sky was blue and the sun was sparkling on the snow and I thought, Why, this is not cold at all; it's a beautiful day and I could keep walking forever!

I had locked the old dog in the porch so she wouldn't be with me when Scott stopped to pick me up on his way into town, and I set out down the road 20 or 25 minutes before my ride came along, and was almost sorry to see the truck coming up behind me. Before he got there a gorgeous coyote crossed the road and trotted across a snowy field, stopping several times to keep an eye on me. Naturally my eyeglasses had been left at home so I didn't get the best view of the beast, darn it. Every time! I should never leave those things behind.

Scott visited his dad, who is in the hospital for respite until tomorrow or thereabouts, and I visited my youngest, ate the Triscuits he doesn't like (which were on top of his fridge) and got half a rum cooler (his dad left them at Xmas and Everett doesn't allow alcohol to touch his lips) down my neck before Scott picked me up and we headed home again. It was a short but sweet visit, as the conversation was non-stop. Topics included Dr Who, Nazi propaganda, social niceties, a possibly stray old dog that he's seen several times that, by the look of it, was unsteady on its feet and may need a home and some help, poor thing, especially in this frigid weather, and more. We squeezed a lot into a brief time. Always leave 'em wanting more, I always say.