Sunday, November 29, 2015

I've Got Company

And what do you do when you get company? I put them right to work.

Shelly arrived at 6 p.m. Friday, when we still had two hours ahead of us at the office.

Finally going to use that mix you gave me, Cathy. 

She arrived with a project that has to be done using photos, so we have been diddling around with the computers, among other things. (More on that later; I'll have to show you the project.)

I think it's pretty good! Shelly doesn't want a second glass though. 

And then since 8 o'clock that night ...
We have been doing exactly as we darn well please.

The pussywillows think it's spring.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Journal 1980

Can you relate to this, Everett?
"It may be silly but sometimes the future looks so bleak when you have no money and no goal-oriented dreams, and everyone's asking you "What are you going to do next?"

In 1980 I was 21.
This must've been an argument with Dad:
"It's not that the situation is bad; we had a good scream tonight; I did anyway, yelling and crying and stomping my feet. Don't think we got anywhere but got some hostile feelings out into the open; should've tromped more on them than each other. I think tonight was the first time I did more yelling than he did."

I set up a tent at the campgrounds:
"Sitting with legs stretched out to the fire, this book on the ground beside me; a frog hops onto the page and sits there a few moments, taking in the heat of the flames. Surprising. When a mouse darted out from behind the log on my other side I raised my voice and told it to get the hell away. It did."

One Friday:
"Looks like it'll be a good afternoon. Out on top of my picnic table, nude already in the sun. I intend to enjoy it thoroughly."
"Hmph. All my hopes for an afternoon of naked solitude — dashed. Strangers pulling up, Dad bringing my mail (big hug — how I needed that). Cameron rips in on his motorcycle as I'm taking off my T-shirt again — he backs up and drives off. Comes back and hollers from a distance "You decent?" before he'll come over.

Grandpa Johnson died on July 5, and in August I was living in Yorkton with a job helping Vietnamese refugees get settled.
"I hate being downtown, feeling so alone on the streets and feeling a plastic mask forming on my own face, and losing the battle to keep it off."

Oh my god. Things really do not change all that much:
Sept 1980
"Have to remind myself throughout the day to stay slow, take my time, there is no fire anywhere.
The golden rule: Do One Thing After The Other."


"Saturday morning; the phone rings - who's calling me on Saturday morning? It's Mom, just to talk - that feels good, there is love between us somewhere. I was surprised ... 'I guess she does like me!' "

Wed, Dec. 10:
"Got into M.S.'s car yesterday morning to go to Regina and soon found out that some kook has shot John Lennon ... Murdering a Beatle! What f'ing next?"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One Day to the Next

It was still dark when I got up at seven and was informed that there had been three deer in the flowerbed this morning: a doe and her two young ones.

I'll fashion something to set frozen crabapples on for them, assuming they'll be back. Last fall I put gallon pails of crabs in the freezer in case it was another starvation winter for deer, like the one before. It wasn't and there's no point having the apples go through another winter in the deep freeze. 

English muffins got made yesterday, but guess who forgot to add the tablespoons of honey so they aren't very good. The dough didn't get that extra bit of help it needed.

The first Christmas card has arrived in the mail. They are few and far between in recent years; I don't send any at all. This one came from Holly near Edmonton. Twenty-six years ago, the sole reliable wage-earner of her family, Holly brought me her four-month-old baby and occasionally her five-year-old, Karl, to look after while she went to work every weekday. 

"You were the straightest hippie chick I ever met!" writes Holly in the card. "Karl always thinks of you when there is raisin bread."

Emil was quite jealous, being only a year old himself and accustomed to all his mom's attention. I also looked after two other little boys, and baked and delivered six loaves of bread to a local store every morning. 

I was on the go, for sure. Probably still haven't recovered! I remember Gord taking my arm one evening in the kitchen as I whirled from counter to table and back again, and saying "Just stop for one minute." 

Looking back at the energy I had, and the everyday ambition, it's not hard to see the difference between then and now. Example: for many years I made a lot of Christmas treats for my own family and to give away; now, none, or it's rare. We don't need 'em and neither does anyone else, pleasant as they are to enjoy at this particular time of year. I no longer feel compelled to be the provider. Now it's all I can do to keep up with the dishes and get out for a walk every day when I'm not in town.

One day

The next

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hodge Podge

Scott got busy doing some finishing work on the kitchen cabinets when Sunday was melty:

Jenna Doodle kept him company

Apparently a moose has been peering through our living room window:

photo taken from inside window, looking almost straight down
I brought home three No Trespassing signs to discourage hunters from killing moose and deer here. They won't help any if they don't get put up. Scott says they need to be mounted on boards first or they're no good. 

I got this year's feeding station set up for the chickadees and woodpeckers, our main users. The magpies too will benefit from it. No one likes these noisy birds but threats to shoot them are not carried out, and that's fine with me:

Sunflower seed purchased directly from farm east of Kelvington.
From hardly any birds around, to dozens of them. Today, the aforementioned but also pine siskins and a pileated woodpecker. A PILEATED WOODPECKER has only been seen once before in this yard since we moved here. Exciting! It didn't take anything from the feeders but lit on the maple tree for a few moments only and then flew over to the oak tree right outside the living room window, where I got a great view of it though it didn't stay long.

It's all about the light.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hand-Me-Down Mink

Just imagine ... the "teased out" thread from the Achilles heel of a caribou ...

The author's reference to the skin of unborn animals reminded me how unnecessary it is to wear the skins and furs of animals at all anymore now that we don't have to, or those of us who don't live in the far north don't. Our covetous love of fur and leather — our sense of being entitled to it, even — must be a throwback to our primitive ancestry. My parka has wolf fur on the hood and cuffs, and my hand-me-down mink* is, well, mink. I appreciate the warmth, lightness, beauty and possible irreplaceability of these items, but they are not essentials. I like my leather belt, my leather shoes and my leather purses, and have not yet given them up for synthetics. I don't believe we need to eat animals either, but I like ground beef, pork and a medium-rare steak once in a while.

It's an example of where I am not really who I'd like to be. I rationalize not having the courage of my convictions. Aunt Jean worked for the mink coat, it was valuable to her, and she gave it to me when she could no longer wear it. I appreciate that, respect it, and honour her gift. The wolf fur was on the best parka I could find and afford without having to shop the whole world over. I can zipper the fur off the hood and cuffs, but then my wrists and face don't have that notable added protection. It's there now and I'm trying to live with it. That's the least I can do to appreciate what is left of what the animals lost. But I'm not proud of myself.

Click to enlarge

An email from the library says this book is overdue. An online excursion reminds me there are no more renewals left. Back it must go before more fines are incurred. "Squeeeeeeee!" as some of my internet acquaintances have been known to say, but which I use with irony here. It is no big deal to pay a couple dollars in library fines if that's what it takes to keep a book till I'm ready to part with it.

The author mentions my great-great aunt Alma several times. She was a nurse matron in Mayo back in the day.

*The hand-me-down mink has been mentioned before. HERE.

Friday, November 20, 2015


I've fallen in love with a Buddha candle-holder.

This photo of Lou's is now on my desktop and I am on the hunt for one of my own.

There are many Buddhas out there but this is the only one I've seen so far (in my internet search) that I want to sit with.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Winter has Arrived

The big, warm (but not heavy!) parka came out yesterday, and beautifully warm it was, too, in spite of the nasty wind and snow. I was going to take my ski pants to Kathy Price on Main St. for sewing repair but the wind was so mean I couldn’t make myself go outside till it was time to quit for the day.

Then, coming home, it was so icy in town that I nearly went off the road at least once. Even driving like a little old lady (not that speedy one from "past Wadena") didn't save me.

The quilt I started with Mom's help in 2004.
Last night the wind howled so fiercely that several times I was worried the roof might blow off. Ducky was worked up. His little toenails were clip-clippitting over the floor much of the night as he paced.

It’s the same this morning. This feels like winter.

From my back step

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Back at 'Er

True to her ancestry, at least on one side of it (that would be the Benson side), little Lexi-Lu loves her ice cream. It's the only thing that brings her to the kitchen when there is company at the table.

Her mother had a pair of lamps for sale, and I was the purchaser, so off I went to Margo yesterday afternoon, or more specifically to my niece and nephew's farm just outside of town, to have a cup of tea and a visit. My sister Karen (Lexi's grandma) came over too; she lives only a mile or two away.

Except for taking Scott to the emergency department on Saturday, this was the first time I'd been out of the house in four days. I got home again just as it was getting dark, and within an hour the two lamps were shining brightly in the living room. Yay! I'll be able to read comfortably in there, and maybe even tackle the quilt Mom and I started 10 years ago. I'll be doing a happy dance on the day it is finally finished.

My great-niece Lexi, who had a secret to tell: "There's a baby in Mommy's tummy."

Now it's snowing and blowing viciously out there and I've gotta head for town before a blizzard develops. Oh ... and breakfast. Food first! Clothes won't hurt either.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

From the Top

For your listening pleasure ... well okay, for mine ... I don't know about you ... but this album is on my personal Top 10 list.

Monday, November 16, 2015


The more things change, the more they stay the same?
Yes and no.
As I go, reluctantly, haltingly, through old journals, I find I have been writing down dreams since I was a teenager. I have been writing down recipes too (see the RECIPE COLLECTION for one I tore out and tried last week).

I also came across this exchange between Mom and me. It was probably an exercise from some book, maybe The Artist's Way or something.

While many things on this list are probably common to most children, some of them are particularly noticeable in Emil; for instance, liking and remembering people and noticing anything that has changed in their homes or appearances, and the insistence on routine. Everett displays some of the demand for perfection.

As a child, Emil loved this painting of the Old Bartley Place, as the family calls it. Built by my great-grandparents, lived in by successive family members over the generations, it has a special place in my own childhood memories. When Emil and I stayed there the summer he was three years old, it hadn't been lived in for a long time but we both loved it there, in spite of the moths and mice! Emil still talks about it and wants to go see it, even if just to drive by.
Aunt Reta's husband Carl painted the house and yard many years ago. Both have gone through a number of transformations since then and the property hasn't belonged to or been lived in by anyone in the family since ... well, since me and Emil 24 years ago.

Right now this painting hangs in the guest room. 


Last night after going to bed I listened to Michael Enright on CBC radio, talking to a professor OF peace studies over in the United Kingdom. The man said that in spite of the violence we have been seeing in the past 20 years, there are actually more countries living in peace now than there have ever been before; that we have every reason to be hopeful for the future, because there are fewer wars and less conflict than ever.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

They Say Thought Comes First

Do fear and anxiety create certain types of thoughts, or is it the other way around?

I sometimes wake up thinking about all the material possessions that will have to be dealt with when I die; the undeserved load it will be on someone if I don’t “take care of business” beforehand. I think about getting started putting those affairs in order and getting rid of all the possessions I can live without. I then feel burdened and afraid I won’t have the energy or time to do it all.

It’s a good thing I have something to grin at first thing every morning when I look into the bathroom mirror at my hair sticking up in all kinds of wild conglomerations.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Corey Story

What a lovely verse!

Autumn morning light
poured through the kitchen window
illuminating the breakfast table.
Like a prayer, unspoken but heard.

It was written by COREY AMARO at the beginning of an entry on her blog, which is always worth a look and a read. Corey is my main inspiration for posting something every day. I am never disappointed when I go to her webpage; she has always been there with something to say or show me. 

Scott waits to see the doctor.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Meteor, Strep Throat

"I found a video that is like when I show you how to play a videogame."

Everett said this when I got to his place last night after work.
By the time I had watched it with him (and he was right, for sure; it could almost have been him and me on that couch. I'll add the link when he sends it) and we had visited a bit, it was 7:30. He didn't feel like cooking and neither did I, so we walked downtown for supper.
He had his usual.
I promised you a picture, and you shall have it. See below.

I had the Chinese food smorg; for me, mostly vegetable chop suey.

Did I tell you we had a meteor go over on Sunday night? Through our living room window it looked like lightning had lit up the entire sky, and a minute later the house shook. They are saying the meteor hit the ground somewhere in east-central Saskatchewan, which is where we live. A friend in Kelvington, which is a half-hour northeast of us, posted on FB that she saw the fireball's flames.

Scott's got strep throat and went to the doctor today — that's when you know he's feeling rough. Anyway, the doctor said "You've just got a cold" and sent him home without a prescription. Honest. The boy's got razor blades in his throat and a two-ton truck on his chest. He knows when he's got strep — he has had it quite a few times — and the doctor didn't have the sense to listen to him or try to help.

Effin doctors, sometimes.

The drive home through the dark countryside this evening was sad, listening to the news about Paris.
Effin people.

Doctor Kate plugged in the kettle and made Scott some yarrow and spearmint tea, with strict instructions to drink a mug of it every hour till he goes to bed, and to do the same tomorrow. Ya gotta do something in hopes that things don't get worse. Strep throat is dangerous. You don't mess with it. You don't take it lightly. I bought Fisherman's Friend lozenges and NeoCitran cold and flu mix for Scott while picking up groceries (comfort food was on my menu), so he should be okay. Except maybe I'll get him to put VicksVapoRub on the soles of his feet, and then socks, before he goes to bed.

Poor guy, he'll soon be hiding from me.

Everett tucks his french fries into a grilled cheese sandwich. 
And here's the video he showed me.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On Writing

A book I can heartily recommend: Stephen King's On Writing.

The first half is autobiographical. Loved it.
The second half is about how he writes and what works for him as both writer and reader.

A few quotations:

"Writing is refined thinking."

"No one can be as intellectually slothful as a really smart person; give smart people half a chance and they will ship their oars and drift ... dozing to Byzantium, you might say."

"... the job of fiction is to find the truth inside the story's web of lies."

"People love to read about work."

"I'll take a moment to call up an image of the place, drawing from my memory and filling my mind's eye, an eye whose vision grows sharper the more it is used ... You'll find it easier to accomplish the more you attempt it."

"In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it 'got boring,' the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling."

" ... unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader — your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

As the Day Goes On

9:40 a.m.
In recent years there are sometimes moments when I remember that I’m mortal and may not have much time left, maybe not even next week, maybe not even tomorrow. I ask myself, then, if there is anything I’d rather be doing, have always wanted to do. There isn’t. 

Okay then, am I making the best of each day? Well, maybe I’m not making the best, but I’m pretty happy with where I live and what I do. There could be more creativity, more accomplishment, and definitely more loving joyfulness, healthful physical activity, and beauty. Not only am I open and receptive to those; I crave them. Don't we all?

The big picture is pretty much what I want it to be.
The details are where I could put some extra attention.

I’ve been clearing kitchen counters, wiping them and the stove, putting things into the sink, putting other things away, starting a pot of oatmeal porridge, measuring ingredients for raisin rye bread, washing and draining raisins, organizing the spice drawer, and various other tiny tasks, perfectly content, still in my housecoat, munching on an apple.

I think of all the people who aren't enjoying my good fortune and blessed life; those without homes, those separated from loved ones; those who don't feel safe, those who are ill and suffering, those who are grieving a recent death.  I'm grateful to be where I am. 

The dryer was banging so loudly I had to take two pairs of jeans and a sweater out so that it could spin. Since I was down there anyway, I've ended up carrying bags of recycling up the stairs and out to the porch, where it's handy to grab on the way out the door. One more long-forgotten task, halfway completed.

Now that I've heated myself up via several flights up and down the stairs, the snowy air outside is calling to me ... .

Image Source: CBC News
I have put in my order for a poppy like this, and whatever it costs me, I'll make a donation in the same amount to the local Legion or something. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

She Comes, She Goes!

"I missed my corner!" she said when she finally got here. "It was foggy!"

And then we had to hit the road again immediately in order to make it to the notary public's office before five.

The plan was to stop in at Emil's place of employment afterward, but when we finished up the business and were ready to go, it was 10 minutes to five and Emil and his household would be sitting down to supper. We had at least a half-hour to kill before we could go over there, and Joanne didn't dare leave the next day without spending a few minutes with Emil.

"Why not see if Everett wants to come out and get a bite to eat with us?" Joanne suggested.

I was pretty sure he wouldn't, but hopped down from the Yukon and entered the store, where in a few minutes Everett would be finished for the day.

To my invitation, he shocked me with a "Yeah, sure."

He always has the same thing: a grilled cheese on brown, and french fries (no gravy) and a pop. He opens the sandwich, lines up a row of the fries in the cheese, and puts the top back on. One day I'll get a picture.

Meanwhile the only one I got was taken from outside the front window while Joanne was paying for supper.

Everett didn't deign to accompany us to his brother's; he was anxious to get home and relax after the day's heaving and hoing at the lumber yard.

Joanne and Emil side by side on the bench in his entryway; this is Emil's "picture" smile.
Emil was excited.

"Why didn't you phone and tell me you got that new mattress topper on Friday?" he demanded to know. "Then I would have come out to your place for the weekend while Joanne was here!"

"Was I supposed to? Sorry," I said, about three times in reply to his twice-more-repeated query. "I didn't think of it." Oops.

"It's obvious," Joanne commented later, "that he adores you."
Awww! That's sweet to hear.

She struck out this morning over snow-filled roads, and I picked Emil up at lunchtime and took him to his dental therapy appointment. Tomorrow is the Remembrance Day statutory holiday so I went into the office for a few hours to get a headstart on the work we'll face Thursday and Friday.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Paper Place Etc

I’m sitting in front of my computer that now has a clean space under and around it because I’ve brought in a shelf from the news office and placed it beside me.
Wonderful. Thanks Alison.
At first I didn’t think I'd want it because it isn’t sturdy enough to hold books.
But my mind quickly recalibrated upon recalling how much I also need a place for papers and all the shit that gets piled next to my keyboard: pens, lip balm, stylebook, tarot cards, mail, notepaper, phone and so on.
We brought the shelf home in the back of a truck.

“The feet of it are wrecked and will gouge the floor,” Scott told me.
So we left it in the truck for a week; he could find rubber feet for it, he said.
Yesterday I decided to bring it in with or without rubber feet. We have those floor-protector things; I’d put them under the existing feet.

“If you wouldn’t mind bringing it up to the house next time you come in,” I said. He was going back and forth anyway. “Or don’t. I can get it.” It's light and easy to move. 
Before leaving for town, he got the shelf out of the truck and set it on the gravel. “Where are you going to put it?"
"The office."
"It’s not going to fit.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” I said. “I’ll make it fit.”
I had the perfect place all ready and waiting, so I hiked that thing up on a shoulder and trucked it into the house.

I’m quite lovin’ this shelf already. It’s a huge relief to have all this shit off the desk.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Could We Have This Weather All Winter Please

"You gonna sleep all day?" asks the voice at the bedroom door.
It's 9:15 and I've been awake only a few moments, stretching and sighing, listening to Joanne and Scott chat in the livingroom, thinking how pleasant it is to hear them out there.

joanne admiring the mist; i'm behind the window in the back door

misty morning
The sun has burned off the fog, Joanne's gone north to see another friend, and I've been out for a heavenly walk.

Then a lovely sit on the back step.
And now: breakfast dishes to be done! Oh the humanity!

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Joanne is here so we have feasted. She made a zucchini and spinach lasagna that is the best I've ever had. I got things out ("Where's the parmesan?" "I need a bowl" and so on), cleaned as we went along, and so on. We were both plenty busy till the casserole pan went into the oven.

We also went to the Xmas farmer's market in town this afternoon and blew some wads of cash.

One of my purchases, times seven:

Crocheted dishcloths; I bought all there were in these bright colours, came home and straightaway threw all the old faded ones into a plastic bag and relegated them to the cupboard beneath the bathroom sink for cleaning rags.
We took a drive out to the Rose Valley countryside, shared a toasted chicken footlong from Subway, and picked up an extra bottle of wine for the evening. We lit candles and listened to classic rock on one of the TV channels and ate cheesecake with dark coffee.

We always have fun, me and Joanne.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Lunch with Rhonda

Yesterday I had a lunch date with our cousin Rhonda. She let me take her picture in the restaurant, but I forgot to ask if it's okay to post it here. Assuming she would say yes, I'm posting it especially for you, JOAN, before I head into the office.

Look at this sweet face ... 

Note the blackface hunter in the background. A tableful of men in camo came in; goose hunters, I presume.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ripe Old 23

Everett's birthday is today.
I've been flipping through the journal of the year of his birth, looking for something of interest to post here.
One of the things I wrote was when he was just a couple days old and, eight weeks premature, still in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Alberta hospital.
When babes are so tiny — actually he wasn't that tiny at 4 lb 2 oz — breastfeeding can take more out of them energywise than it puts in, and so moms pump their milk and the babes are tube-fed so as not to burn up calories when the infants so desperately need to put on weight.
Of course, the best thing is to get the baby on the breast a.s.a.p., so you always try a bit of that before they are tube-fed.
I had written that Everett had no problem latching on, that he seemed to enjoy being held and snuggled, and that most of all he liked it when I sang to him.
I had to laugh at this, because of all the "goofy" things I do that irritate him since he was in his teens, my "singing" is perhaps the worst, in his estimation now.

Everett prepares to give out Halloween candy

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Coat Challenged

There's no getting around it: I have far, far too many coats. For some reason, Scott only teases me about the abundance of shoes, never about the plethora of jackets. Maybe that's because he never trips over them.

In the porch

In the hall closet

In the office
Of course, a girl likes to have a coat for every situation, and one for all types of weather. And there are some that can't be parted with; for instance, I can't get rid of the mink that Aunt Jean handed down to me, though I don't think I wore it even once last winter.

Fortunately we now have a place in town that takes clothing donations, so one of these fine days I will get ruthless and sort out the keepers from the giveaways.

This morning we awoke to snow on the ground. I bet this time it will stay. Which means I go from fall jacket to winter parka, and out come the ski pants and clunky boots.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

One Day in October

It was one of those afternoons when, depending on whether or not the sun was shining and where you were in relation to the wind, it could be either quite cool or too warm.

I had instructed Emil to dress well for his walk around the yard and up and down the driveway, and then I had taken the dogs and headed down the road myself.

This is the recording I made upon returning:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Crossing the University Bridge

It's been a long day.

We've been to the city and back.

We've been in a hospital, a shoe store, and a café.
Emil had a first-time adult clinic visit and all's well; he's getting new crutches and will have his AFOs repaired/modified. He came home with two new pairs of shoes and enjoyed the outing, he said.

I'm beat though. This is all you get from me today.

x's and o's though


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Plug 'n' Play

"You know how I'm always keeping an eye open for short little videogames you might be able to play," Everett says on Thursday night. We'd been to a café for supper and were about to watch Torchwood and Doctor Who; one episode of each. "I think I found one."

Oh joy. I have yet to try a videogame that holds my attention, though I know they must exist.

"Wanna try it?"

Why not. He calls it up on his laptop and I sit there and click around, trying to figure out what the point of the "game" is. It's the simplest game ever, I'd say, suitable for perhaps a three-year-old, which apparently is the level of my gaming abilities if my son is correct.

It's called Plug n Play; the characters' heads are electrical plugs, and their asses are sockets. 
It's gotta get better, I think to myself, and I've gotta give it a college try. So I plug heads into asses and cords into sockets and so on and so forth. This goes on for five minutes and then Everett's phone rings and it's his dad so they chat while I "play" for another five minutes and then Everett comes and sits down beside me.

For god's sake, when is this going to get fun or even interesting?
My face says it all, doesn't it?

Plug n Play, my ass.


Any time we go to a restaurant, Everett usually has a grilled cheese and fries.
Behind him is the reflection of the restaurant behind me.