Monday, August 31, 2015

The Trickle-Down

On the last night Aunt Reta was here, my younger siblings Karen and Cameron joined us for supper. JOAN, you were missed!

But we got Reta to take this picture for you. Almost as good as being here... ?

Three Stooges (Don't I always say this? Time for some new material.)
Reta stayed with me the first week she was here in Saskatchewan, and there was a lot of idle chat, interesting (to me) nevertheless. We talked about the old house on the farm where Grandma and Grandpa lived when Karen and I were little girls, and what it was like for Reta and Mom, growing up there.

Grandma was a fussy housekeeper who made regular meals and kept the house shipshape but did not do outside work. The girls also did not; they helped indoors, and my uncles Neil and Bruce helped in the farmyard and in the field.

Lunch was sometimes carried out to the field with Grandpa in the morning, but when the evening meal was ready, it was always at a certain time: suppertime.  If Grandpa was in the field (the boys were younger than the girls so maybe they weren't yet out there), Reta would be sent out to the hill to wave a flag so he'd know it was time to come in. And this he did, because Grandma's schedule was to be respected. Also, there was no running water (just a hand-pump in the kitchen), and water had to be heated on the woodstove, and no one expected her to be washing dishes at 9 o'clock at night. She was not like me; she would never have left the dishes on the counter overnight and gone to bed. No women in those days would have done that, just as most now probably do not. Grandma would have been up cleaning the kitchen at midnight if that's what it took. Grandpa had enough respect for her work and for her to make sure that didn't happen. And clearly he appreciated those meals.

The first time I made a lunch for Scott when he was working out in the farmyard, and he didn't come in when I called, I was offended. How rude! I thought. I've gone to the trouble to make lunch at lunchtime, to ensure everything's on the table hot and fresh, and ... he couldn't care less. He'll eat it cold when he gets in, when he finishes what he's doing. His work is more important than mine.

To him, that is.

It's a different way that our families have, I see now, of looking at things. Perhaps a different valuation of "women's"  and "men's" work?

Family history can be quite the eye-opener, and it surely does bleed into our attitudes in the present, but until now this is one area where I didn't understand why it is the way it is. I told Karen about this conversation and she said Well yes, if I make a meal and Dick doesn't come in and eat it at mealtime, it pisses me off.

Now we know where our expectations come from. They have leaked down through the generations. Realizing this has made me look at a number of other things from an altered angle, too.

Karen also played the piano for us. She knows "one" song, she said, and played it, and then after a few minutes jumped up exclaiming "Oh, I know one more!" and played that too. You won't see her performance here, but the link to it will be in the monthly NEWSLETTER I'm sending out tomorrow. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? You don't know what you're missing. I mean, literally.

From where I sat in the car when Reta went into the service station to buy her bus ticket to Saskatoon on Wednesday morning, I could see Scott and his brother Bruce when they arrived at Leonard's house, where they are working on an addition. Here, Scott and Leonard have a quick chat before they get down to business.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wildlife I Have Seen

Back when I first started reading blogs, they were called "online journals" and there were only a handful of them.
One writer, who called herself Firedrake, always rode her bicycle to and from work and when she blogged, she'd list the roadkill she'd seen that day.
Sometimes I see quite a lot of wildlife and it has occurred to me to list them, in a kind of hearkening back to Firedrake and wondering what ever became of her and her blogging habit.

I saw this beauty while leaving my sister Karen's one afternoon. I stopped, turned around and went back to try for a closeup, but naturally it flew off. I could see that it didn't have the markings of the red-tailed hawk that is so common around here:
It doesn't look like any of the hawks in my Birds of Saskatchewan book. Anyone know?
And then one day at the news office:

CLICK HERE to read about this friendly Canada goose that followed me from a neighbouring yard to the front step of the Wadena News.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cow Cud and Hay Rake

While Scott was hooking up the hay rake one afternoon, I asked him the cow-cud question:
Can they chew their cud, standing up?
Checking the cattle at our place one morning before leaving for work, to make sure all is well.
"They can," he said.
So now we know. I must remember to tell Emil.

Meanwhile, in the farm-machinery education department, in which I remain a novice:
He's about to hook the tractor up to the hayrake. I know what it is because he said, "I thought I'd rake some hay while the sun shines" or somesuch.
He's driven the tractor and hayrake across the road and opened the thing up, and now ... don't ask me what he's doing.

Friday, August 28, 2015

If Only Mosquitoes Were Edible

Last Friday we put in a 10-hour day at the news office. There hasn't been much of that lately, but sometimes it just works out that way. Alison was working on another publication so we didn't have her help, and that slowed things down.

I left the office about quarter after eight that night. It was rainy and cool, and Emil was waiting for me at the group home.

"I thought you forgot me," he said, laying down his crutches so he could put on his "outside" shoes. (For the benefit of those new to this blog: Emil is my 27-yr-old son who has cerebral palsy and developmental delays.)

I got him and his two bags loaded into the truck and then drove to the store, and he waited while I popped in for a few groceries. The Co-op is open two evenings a week now and it's great; it's about time, too.  Emil loves to go in with me and walk up and down the aisles looking for acquaintances to talk to, but it was late and I was tired and it was rainy and so I convinced him not to, this time. Then we drove slowly home through the dark and wet.

But we got a shock when I parked the truck in the yard and opened the door to get out. The mosquitoes swarmed! And that's not good when you've got Emil. I can outrun them, but he can't. He's slow getting in and out of vehicles and he can't really run, and they were ravenous. I grabbed a few bags and sprinted to the house, then back out with insect repellent to spray Emil before they sucked the poor lad dry. I sprayed myself too, but still they bounced off my face and neck. And when I reached behind the seat to grab the last few grocery bags, I could see hundreds of them swarming around the truck's interior light. Crazy!

When we got into the house — and of course another thousand got in as Emil made his way through the door, because there is no hurrying him — I spent the first half-hour at home swatting mosquitoes when what I really wanted to do was collapse into a chair with a glass of red wine.

To fill several spaces in the newspaper we were working on that day, Rita and I perused several copies of the Wadena News archives from 1915, 1919, 1935 and 1965. You could read these things all day; they are chockful of entertaining stuff. We had several pages with big fancy ads for the town fair this weekend and needed something to go with them, so we thought some scans of old ads and articles about the fair would be perfect.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Cuzzes & their Kids

My cousins were born when I was in my early teens, and some of them have parents who still live around here so they come to visit them from time to time, as it should be.

I'm always saying "Phone me when you're down and I'll drive over to see you."

But do they? No, never! I find out they were here ... after they've been and gone.

Maybe I'm supposed to get a message from this, but if I am, I ignore it.

Finally I gave one of them (Karla, this means you; I also gave Uncle Neil a poke so we'll see if it made a dent) "shit." If you can call it that. It wasn't shit, really, but I made sure it was heard, is all.

I don't expect them to come and visit me, because they are spending time with their parents and this, also, is how it should be, and I don't want to take them away from there and make them run around the countryside even more than they already are.  But I would go out of my way to have a short visit with them and see their kids once a year, you know? So PHONE ME ALREADY!

Bless her heart, Karla did give me the heads-up one day last week as she was packing up to leave her mom's the next morning, so I hopped into the truck (a.k.a. the Big White Bus) and beat a path to Aunt Shirley's door in Margo.

It was a visit that was short and sweet, as they were busy, but I got to give them all a hug and that was the main thing.

Karla's boy Paxton with his grandma Shirley, my aunt. Everyone says he reminds them of Uncle Bruce, who was a "little bugger" as a boy. "You never knew what the hell was going to come out of his mouth," Dad said, remembering. I don't know if Paxton is the same way, but he sure is huggable. 

Karla's girl Gracie, a real sweetheart.  They'd just been out picking crabapples and were cutting them up to make juice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blossom Fudge Brownies

We had a few cold mornings when I actually turned the furnace on. Once the chill was off, so was the furnace, but later when I was still finding it cool it seemed more sensible to use the oven for something. So I dug out one of the recipe cards in Mom's handwriting and made these brownies.

I can't figure out why they're called "blossom" fudge brownies. It seems like a pretty straightforward brownie recipe, to me.

Who needs icing? I didn't bother with it.

Also, I had to bake them an extra 10 minutes. You know — if you're going to try it.

Then I did a serious purge of the old wooden recipe box that used to be Mom's, and threw out recipes that I never make or that I have on file on the computer or on the STUBBLEJUMPERS RECIPE COLLECTION webpage or, simply, recipes that can easily be found online if ever I want to make them. The box was overstuffed to the point that I seemed to be filing things behind the wrong letter half the time anyway.

 Maybe I'm misremembering, but it seems to me that this recipe is better than the one for brownies over at Stubblejumpers. Though you can't really go wrong with brownies, can you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Banana Split Boy

The thought of eating a banana split never appealed to me. Then I had one and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they are.

I haven't had one since, but nevertheless I said to Everett that we should go down to the dairy bar one evening this summer so he could sample one.

By the time I ate a chicken burger I was too full for dessert, but he still had an appetite after his deep-fried perogies and his mozza sticks, so he went up to the counter and got a banana split.

The verdict?
Ah. Okay. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cows and their Cud

Emil wanted to be sure to see Aunt Reta one more time before she leaves this week, so on Sunday afternoon we climbed into the half-ton and drove out to Neil and Rose's northeast of Margo, my home town.

On the way we passed several swathers out cutting canola, and a small herd of cattle.

"Mom," says Emil. "Do cows chew their cud standing up?"

I don't know, says I. They probably lie down to do it, says I.

"Shayla, Kathy Hoffman's daughter, says they chew it standing up too," he says.

Maybe they do, says I. We'll ask Scott. He'll know for sure.

Stay tuned for the definitive answer from the Cow Boy himself.

My cousin Heather and one of her two girlysues were leaving Neil and Rose's around the same time as Emil and I were. 
When we got home, my brother Cameron arrived from Alberta to spend the night.

Making his breakfast this morning
Today he's gone golfing — it's a gorgeous day, not too hot, not too cold, and not too windy — and then will go see Neil and Rose, and I expect will be back here sometime tomorrow, and Reta too.

I'm baking a batch of bread to send home with him. It'll be out of the oven in an hour and then I'm heading outside. It's just the right weather for this Goldilocks to take a walk.

Whenever my ex-hub Gord is out here, I give him several loaves of bread and say "Give Cameron a loaf or two."
Cameron says, "What? That s.o.b.! He never has. He's not getting any of these."
They live in the same condo complex in St. Albert.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Old Dog New Trick

When you are an old dog with a limp, you don't stop having that irrational love for taking walks with your humans. Stay home? Skip it? Never!

I say "irrational" because Jenna Doodle is a farm dog, which means she is outside all the time (except in thunderstorms when she is terrified, and in 30-below when the heated pad in her insulated doghouse might not keep her warm enough) and she can go for a walk any time she pleases.

And yet when I go out and she and Ducky Doodle think I might be going for a walk, they both frisk and leap about like pups. They are so excited and happy that their enthusiasm rubs off on me. I guess it's a dog thing, that's all. A walk with the pack, perhaps, is more highly valued than a solitary wander.

Pulling the "age card," when I get tired and sore I lie down in the road and wait, knowing that Kathy and Ducky will pick me up on their way back home. - Signed, Jenna Doodle, age 13 (at least)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Handle Hopes Dashed

So I'm just getting my teeth into that Charleston Attic website when Scott comes home and starts frying up side pork.

"What are your plans for the rest of the day?" I ask, still in my pyjamas and housecoat. "It's your night to have supper with Grandma, and you'll go in an hour early to visit your dad. Anything else?"

It's rainy so he can't hay or make bales;  he was in town already this morning, working on a house addition.

"Maybe I'll get these handles on," he says.

"Woo hoo!" I think, but don't say. We've had them for two or three weeks now, but he's been busy.

What I say is, "Oh! I'd better get these dishes done then." Why I think he'd need a clean countertop, I don't know; he takes the doors off and the drawers out anyway, right?

But anyway, the dishes need doing so I do them.

Alas, I am meant to be disappointed, because he takes quite a while weighing just where and how he's going to place them on the wood, and then he has a little nap, and then someone asks for a favour and he leaves the house to do it, and then he delivers the favour before heading for Kelvington to do his visiting and supping.

Sigh. Maybe tomorrow.

Charleston Attic

Look what I've found!

"Charleston, home of twentieth century artists, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and their daughter Angelica Garnett, was the Sussex retreat of the Bloomsbury Group. It is now a successful house museum, and from April 2014 will host a series of Heritage Lottery-funded curatorial internships. This blog is a record of our work cataloguing, researching and interpreting the Angelica Garnett Gift from the Charleston attic – overlooked by a bust of Virginia Woolf."

There goes the rest of my morning.

Furnace in August

I thought twice about it, but then I did it: turned the furnace on.

This girl ain't walking around a 67F house all day.

Even if she did sleep till almost 10 o'clock, and only got up then because little Ducky was scratching like crazy at the porch door and when she let him in, she found he had torn into a bag of garbage Scott left in the porch so she had cleanup to do. Goddamn dogs (and men).

Now Scott, he left the house at 7:30 (she knows because that's when Ducky asked to be let outside and she got up the first time) and must've gone to work. No weekends off for that boy.

Friday, August 21, 2015


How many times have I gone to plug something into a wall socket, and had to pull the end back and turn it around so that the appropriate side goes into the slot that fits? A thousand, I'm sure. It only takes a second or two, but it irritates the hell out of me.

I'm one of those people who, once they have a goal, has some trouble re-setting it. Tunnel vision? One-track minded? Inflexible? I am getting where I'm going, come hell or high water; sometimes I can't even see that there is a ferry I could take, rather than forcing my way on foot through the waves and getting soaked over top of my waders.

A sensible person would examine electrical plugs and sockets and see if there is a visible sign clearly indicating — and quickly — which side goes into which side of the socket. It's probably simple and obvious, if I'd but take the time for a closer look. One side is wider than the other, and maybe it's marked on the rubber. And probably the wide side always goes on the right.

It's all in the details, and in slowing down and paying attention to them.

Elegant lavatera

Thursday, August 20, 2015


We had a cold spring and a hot, dry June and July, and I've heard it said that we had 90% fewer mosquitoes than usual. We are paying for it now.

When I go out to the truck in the morning, I run to escape them. When I open the door, a swarm goes inside. I spend several minutes killing them before starting the engine. Others buzz around me as I drive. At the end of the day, after the truck has sat in town for eight hours, there are still a couple in the cab.

When I go for a walk in the evening, I put on repellent lotion (handmade, all natural, no poisonous ingredients) and spray commerical repellent on my clothing. The mosquitoes still bounce off my face, annoying the hell out of me.

Any night now, if we have a good freeze, I will not complain. It may decimate gardens and crops — no, that wouldn't be good — but there would be one bright side. Death to mosquitoes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Little Things

If there’s an obituary written about me, it won’t say “She was a hard worker.” Around here, you’re only considered a hard worker if you grow a big garden, do lots of canning and cooking and yard work, perhaps run a farm, and so on. Physical labour. But repetitive physical labour bores me silly, so it’s not something I sign up for very often.

Mental labour is more interesting to me and I’m willing to put in long hours getting a job done that requires thinking, writing, planning, etc. However, that never counts toward making you a “hard worker,” at least not that I know of. Also, I value my free time and guard it. I avoid busyness; I want time to enjoy life outside of earning money and, of course, to get through the daily chores required to live in relative order and comfort. But I don't want those chores taking up one more moment of my day than is absolutely necessary.

Another word that will never describe me is “longsuffering.” Nosiree. If I don’t like something and have to cope with it repeatedly or for long, I’ll be doing or saying something about it. Some would call that “bitching” or “complaining” but I prefer to describe it as “telling it like it is.”

It's the little things.
So if I am irked with my spouse, for instance, he hears about it. On the flip side, I believe it's important to acknowledge people when they are good at something or have done something kind or thoughtful or generous or smart. 

One morning last week I got into the truck to drive to work and found a sprig of wild rose Scott had put there for me. It’s late for wild roses to be blooming and I appreciated his small gesture of gallantry, of knowing this would please me.

Yesterday he asked if I need to get anything to wear to Gunnar’s wedding. Maybe he was going to suggest we take a shopping trip, or offer to buy me a dress. A lot of men wouldn’t think of that. I don’t need anything, really, so the conversation didn’t go much further except that he gets a few extra “sweetie” points for the question.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Current Reading

When we met for lunch in town a couple weeks ago, Scott's cousin Bev brought me four books to read. I started Girl on a Train and remembered, on the first page, that I’d read it not long ago. Actually I didn’t read it all. I read the first few chapters and then skipped to the end to see what happened. Some books are like that; you don’t enjoy the reading of them, you just want to know what happens. Some books seem to plod on and on, taking forever to get where they’re going. Bev said she often, lately, finds herself reading a bit of a book before remembering she’s already read it. I just did the exact same thing.

I got A Beauty, by Connie Gault, from the library. Read the first 120 pages and then skipped to the end, finding myself uninvolved with the characters, not wanting to accompany them on their journey from start to finish. Sometimes I just don't give a hoot. What're ya gonna do?

The stack Bev lent me contains the latest Flavia de Luce mystery by Alan Bradley. Thanks to Bev and her book collection, I’ve read the entire series till now. Little Miss Flavia is a quirky child sleuth and she's funny (without knowing it, poor kid), but instead of picking up this book first, I’m saving it till last. It's nice to have a good book — one that I know won't disappoint — to look forward to.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith, is on the bedside table right now and it's one I've just begun and know I'll finish. Some just are. What is it that makes some books can-hardly-put-downs and others set-asides? Is it the state of being of the reader at the time, or is it the quality or style of the writing, or the uniqueness of the story, or what?

On the weekend I started Benediction, by Kent Haruf. Instantly I was drawn in. The writing is plain and clear yet forcefully alive, and immediately I cared about the many characters. It was all I could do to stay out of bed and wait till the evenings to get back to reading it.

In the magazine rack in the bathroom is another book that just came from the library. It’s called Difficult Conversations, and is about communication, about how we all think we are right and that those who don't see it our way are wrong, and how we won't enjoy satisfactory results of communication till we understand that we aren't more right than others and learn to seek solutions that make sense to those on all sides of an issue. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Out to Lunch

The newspaper goes to press on Fridays, so I usually eat at my desk.
But last week my aunt and uncle were going to be in town and they invited me out for lunch.

Neil and Reta, Mom's brother and sister
We still managed to get the paper out by five o'clock, so there was no harm done!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

September Party in August

We were invited to Faye and Rick's farm for a potluck supper last night to celebrate Faye's upcoming 50th birthday. She is facing a serious surgery in the very near future and won't be up to a party on the actual date in September.

When we arrived, Faye and Rick along with other friends were out in the yard playing some kind of game; I have no idea what it's called. Lawn chairs were scattered about; bottles of booze and mix were set out on a table in their relatively new and still-under-construction garage; food was in the house and a pork roast was on the barbecue.  When everything was ready, we filled our plates buffet-style and carried them out to the garage, where we sat around two tables and chowed down.

Then there was birthday cake:

Almost 50 and still younger than the rest of us.
Afterward, Rick made a bonfire on the gravel driveway and, while several guests stayed behind to tend to it (i.e. relax in their lawn chairs), the rest of us went for a short walk.

Two of the gals were a little speedier than the rest of us, and when they turned around, one of them said we reminded her of a famous photo of the Beatles — something about the way we were spread out across the road. She borrowed my camera, which was hooked onto a belt loop on my jeans, to try to get a picture of it. The end result was not what she was aiming for, but here's the pic anyway:

Left to right: me, Faye, Carol, Scott, Rick posing as walker. 
You may notice I was not wearing my fabulous new Blundstones! I knew I would be going in and out of the house and wanted footwear easy to slip off. I'm not quite yet at that point with the boots, which still require sitting in a chair and some focused attention.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Advertising Works

The marketing wisdom I've heard is that potential customers need to see your advertisement at least eight times before they'll decide it's time to purchase your product.

I, however, only read about Schmutzie's Blundstone boots once, and knew they were the boots for me.

My steel-toed workboots were 30 years old and the soles had cracked and let in water any time I stepped in anything even a tiny bit wet. I wanted high-topped boots to support my ankles so I can walk on uneven terrain without having to pick my way carefully over it. I wanted boots without laces to futz with or zippers to break. They had to be comfortable for walking several miles and they had to be able to breathe so my feet weren't hot and sweaty. Schmutzie's description of her Blundstone boots sounded like just the thing.

I went online and looked at the various styles and learned where they could be purchased. They are manufactured in Australia and only select retailers sell them. I didn't want to buy them without trying them on, and when Cathy and I were leaving the Broadway Café in Saskatoon, I remembered that the shoe repair shop down the street sells them. We meandered north a block or two and found the place. I tried them on, paid for them, and that was that. It was too hot to wear them except for one evening last week, when me and my new boots went for an evening walk.
New Blundstone boots, thanks to a generous cash gift from Scott at Christmastime.
Last night and this morning we had lightning and rain, and today it's grey and cool, so I'm able to wear them again. One more reason to eschew those hot summer days we've been having!

To read the original blog entry that introduced me to Blundstone boots, CLICK HERE.

Friday, August 14, 2015

At the Eye Clinic

Here's the view from my chair in the waiting room at the Wadena Hospital.
I had an appointment on Tuesday with the optometrists' clinic there.

About 10 years ago I got bifocals that I never used because I never got used to them. Instead I switch between reading glasses and distance glasses, and lately find that I see the television better without the distance glasses than with them. I figure my eyes have been changing and the eye test is a year overdue. The lenses on both sets of my glasses both seem a bit scratched. I'm sick and tired of carrying two pairs around, even though I can see without glasses; but noticeably read better with than without.

Most people I talk to who have gotten glasses at this particular clinic say they have not been satisfied with the glasses they got there or the way they were treated by the staff. But it is right in town and it is convenient to go there rather than drive an hour or more to another place, and I prefer to make my own judgments. My experience could be quite different.

Take this as an example of my not having the sense to take advice from those who have "been there." Or take it as an example of independent thinking. Probably it's a bit of both.

I found the staff perfectly pleasant, picked out a pair of frames as quickly as I could (because really they all start looking the same to me after I've tried on five pairs), and felt sick for two days at the cost of it all ($764). I had better be happy with these glasses when they arrive in two weeks.

You enter the building through the door on the right.

You go down the hall to the left to visit patients, and to the right to get lab tests done.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Tarot Page on Facebook

How are you at keeping up your chosen routines?
I don't mean the easy ones, like drinking a cup of hot coffee every morning. I mean the ones that are easy to forget, like (in my case) drawing and reading a tarot card every day and posting the interpretation on my TAROT PAGE here on the blog.
My intentions are good and I stick to my routines for a while, sometimes for weeks or even months, but then as soon as my routine gets interrupted by some small thing, I just forget, plain and simple, to pick it up again.

So I thought maybe if I hung out my shingle on Facebook it would be a better motivator for me, and I set up a page there.

If you use FB and also have an interest in the tarot, click below to find the page:

Non-Traditional Tarot

Please "like" and "share."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Life in Squares is a TV series being broadcast on BBC, but it hasn't aired in Canada yet. I'm looking forward to it; it's about the Bloomsbury Group, among whose members were Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell.

Bell was a painter and she decorated the house she lived in, Charleston. Time has been doing its ruinous work, though, and so there is a fundraising effort being made to conserve the art.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Other folks may do it differently, but I do it the way that works best for me.
Some people put all their favourite photos and paintings in the living room or some place that visitors will be sure to see them.
Me, I put my favourite stuff somewhere that I will see it as often as possible.

In the bedroom, there's a small quilted tablecloth Mom made, and a set of quilted place-mats, and a framed needlepoint Aunt Reta made and gave me. I like to see all three of these every morning while I'm dressing and every time I walk into the room.

If you've been reading here for any length of time, you've already seen most of these. Probably more than once.

In the hallway between the bedroom and the office is a collection of family photos. Sometimes, seeing pictures of those who have passed away, I get heart pangs. This happens often. But I'd still rather be reminded than not. (I still miss my mother something terrible at times. You would think that this grief would be processed and no longer upsetting, but that is not the case even after 10 years. Anyway I'm sure it's normal. Right? It's not as if it keeps me awake at night or anything. It's just that the intensity of the impact — even now, occasionally — surprises me.)

An unwelcome thought is that someday, if nature takes its course, it won't just be Mom I'm missing when I see this photograph.
In the office is Mom's first palette painting; I love this one, as it really does look like poplar trees with a breeze rustling them.

And there is one of my sister Joan's early pastels, with colours that I adore. They appear a bit washed-out here, unfortunately.

And in the living room is a new one that Aunt Reta brought with her from Saskatoon. Her (and Mom's) cousin Judy is moving from her house into a condo and no longer has a place for this, and apparently neither do her children or nieces or nephews, because it came my way and I was quick to say "I'd love to have this!"

Reta's husband Carl painted it from a photograph of Grandpa Jack, my great-grandfather, who was a telephone linesman well into his seventies. I remember him as a moustached old man, always sitting and with a cane nearby. I think I was about nine when he passed away.

We still have to pick up the "thingies" required so that they lay flat, for the three flowers Joan painted for me. I've got the canvases leaning against the wall and am looking forward to getting them up; they're going to pull the room together beautifully and brighten every day.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Scott knows there is nothing I like better than a country drive on a Sunday afternoon, so he invited me to ride along when he and his brother were hauling used tires to Kelvington to be collected for recycling.

I stuffed my camera, cellphone and a book into a bag and hopped into the truck with Scott. He had the back of his half-ton loaded up, plus a trailer behind.

We waited at a corner for his brother Bruce, who was also hauling a trailer full, and followed him.

The boys unloaded tires and placed them in the correct "lines" while I entertained myself by texting a few friends and taking pictures rather than getting dirty. Besides, I hadn't taken any gloves along.

 I'd just opened my book (A BEAUTY, by Connie Gault) to start reading when Scott got into the truck and away we went home again.

Check out today's TAROT DRAW.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cat Stalks Deer

Charlene Wirtz writes for the Wadena News and gave us this video she shot at her farm home, where her house cat was seen stalking a deer:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Both Sides

In the fall, a book of interviews with JONI MITCHELL was published by her friend, singer, musician and journalist Malka Marom. My former husband Gord said "Don't run out and buy it! I'm getting it for you for Christmas."

Last month at Lincoln University in England, there was a symposium held for those studying Mitchell's music.
If you're an admirer of Joni's artistry, as I most definitely am, you may enjoy this exchange with the charming Ms Marom:

Thanks to Alex, who, although trying to comment on the blog was such a pain in the ass that he gave up and sent me an email, pointed out that I had located Lincoln University in the wrong city. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Way Back to Perfect Health

Some of you may remember my friend Bev, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, didn't take the recommended allopathic treatments but followed the beat of a different drummer against all advice to the contrary, and is now cancer-free.

She's been in town this week and came out for a visit last night. 
Bev takes a call from her brother while I make myself a grilled cheese sandwich for supper.
I'm not always on the ball enough to remember to get out the camera. Did I post a pic when Dad was here? Oh yeah, I think so. Good for me! Alison was out for tea last week and I didn't think of taking a picture. Yesterday I went for lunch with another Bev and forgot to get a photo. Sandy was out one day with her hubby and the camera was the furthest thing from my mind. I met up with my sister Karen at a flea market and got pics but never posted them. When I think about how much goes on ... and all the people and things ... that are never even mentioned on this blog ... tsk tsk tsk. It is what it is, of course, but there is a lot of life going on outside of it.

Now to find the webpage where Bev chronicled her successful alternative treatment of cancer. We need to update it; there must be people who are surely wondering if she's still healthy.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Good Friends Among the Best Things in Life

A lovely afternoon with Ms Bell, who had flown to Regina to attend a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert in Raymore, Sask., with a girlfriend and then drove out here to spend the afternoon with me yesterday. We had a leisurely lunch and then when Aunt Reta went for a nap, Cathy and I took a nice long walk in the hot sun and much-appreciated wind.

Isn't she a doll? And then there's me; I make all my pals look good. Of course, Cathy is a young chick compared to me. We were roommates at Luther College when she was in Grade 8 and I was in Grade 10. She is the most professionally accomplished person I know and very hardworking, and also has her life priorities straight and is kindhearted and a straight-shooter. I count myself fortunate to have the most wonderful friends, caring and true. 

That crooked tooth of mine seems to be getting worse. Is it worth doing anything about it, I wonder, at my age?

When I was in my early thirties, a dentist told me I should have my upper wisdom teeth pulled because there was so little space in my mouth that they were already crooked and would push my teeth out of alignment. I ignored his advice and now regret it. (As the founding editor, former editor-in-chief, and my employer at the Canadian Encyclopedia for 10 years once said, what is the sense of asking for input from an expert and then ignoring it? Live and learn.)

 I did have the wisdom teeth pulled within the past couple years but it doesn't make any difference now, as at my age (56) the teeth are firmly set in bone and will not be likely to move on their own even when given more space.  I would probably have to get braces and wear them for at least a year. Do I care enough about straight teeth to do that? Not just the expense of it, but the discomfort. I don't think so. But I can't say as I'm pleased when I see photos of myself with the crooked tooth. Not that I ever have liked photos of myself, so let's be realistic; it doesn't really matter what I do or don't do. I'll be self-critical anyway, as women often are.

Aunt Reta dropped me off at work this morning and went to my Aunt Shirley's at Margo to spend a few days. I just called her to say I've gotten used to her presence and now I miss her. It's true.

And here's Joni Mitchell's video and song "Good Friends." Sometimes change comes at you like a broadside accident. There is chaos to the order; random things you can't prevent. Michael McDonald's voice (he's joined her in this endeavour) makes me lustful. No nerves of steel, no hearts of gold. No blame for what we can and can't control. It doesn't take much, mind you. Watching two people kiss on television will do it! And that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Visiting Galore

 Businesses are open this morning after the long weekend so Scott has pumped up the tire and Reta and I are off to town. I'll drop her at the seniors' residence to do some visiting while I take the tire to the repair shop. Once the car's road-ready again we'll scurry home, where I'll be making my MEXICAN SOUP and waiting for Cathy B to arrive in time for lunch.

But at the moment, Reta is washing breakfast dishes and I'm about to pour my second cup of coffee. Rain has been forecast for two or three days but none has materialized, so I've set the sprinkler on the flower garden for now, till we leave for town.

Aunt Reta prepares to take some pictures to take home to Phoenix.
Ducky has found a new cuddler.
The handles for the kitchen cabinets are supposed to be delivered to Wynyard at the end of the week. We're looking forward to getting those on. The tabs Scott made with masking tape tend to tear off and he insists it has something to do with the way I pull on them. I think if he opened those doors and drawers as many times in a day as I do, they'd rip off for him, too, so Back Off! I say, and carry on my merry way.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Half Gone

Emil will go back to town tonight; Reta will be on her way to her next family visit as soon as that flat tire is repaired; Bev S. is coming for tea this afternoon, as she's been out for a niece's wedding; Cathy B. and her friend Susan are coming for lunch tomorrow, driving out from Regina; and I go back to work on Wednesday.

Summer is half over but still beautiful. There have been crazy storms and there are more to come but aside from wind and rain knocking down some of my tall flowers and hail tearing up a few blossoms, our yard and crops have been untouched for the most part.

An unexpected calf was born in the pasture yesterday; Scott can't figure out how the bull managed to get to its mother, as they were in separate fields at the time the calf would have been conceived. I guess they find a way! Fences never stop cattle if they want to go somewhere, I'm told, and this calf is proof of it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


A flat tire on my car Little Green and no place open before Tuesday to repair it, an unwillingness to go anywhere without a usable spare, Scott needing the tools in his work truck when he's on a job or in the field, and the new truck being difficult to get in and out of for both Reta and Emil because it's so high: all have conspired to keep us home for the last two days. But since we have nowhere pressing to go, no one is complaining.