Thursday, November 24, 2016


When we bought this house we didn’t move in right away. Scott wanted to put new flooring in, paint the walls and fix the ceilings, and it’s easier when there is no furniture in the way. But we had to keep the house heated, and even though the thermostat was turned as low as possible to maintain the drywall in freezing outdoor temperatures, the fuel bills were ridiculously high, like $500 a month if I’m remembering correctly. That's crazy-high when you consider that the house is only about 1000 square feet. 

The first thing Scott did was set about replacing the old oil furnace, for if it was costing us that much when we weren’t living in the house, it would bankrupt us once we needed a comfortable temperature to be maintained. As soon as he could, Scott re-insulated the walls and attic and installed new windows, all of which would help conserve heat, but that was the following year.

A natural gas furnace was out of the question, as the gas-supply lines don’t run out to our place. We could’ve paid to get them dug in, but the cost seemed prohibitive. Propane wasn’t the best idea either, and we didn’t have the funds to make the investment in solar heating or geothermal, so we stuck to oil, even though it wouldn’t be our choice if we had every option. We do care about the environment, after all. But we had to do something and we had to do it fast.

So here we are now, buying fuel oil each fall to get us through the winter. It pollutes and it's expensive. On my way to bed I turn the thermostat down to 68F because I like a coolish room for sleeping, and every year I say I’m going to leave it there all day: layer up, leave the heat down. I’ve never been able to do it though. Eventually I get sick of my hands being cold no matter how many sweaters I’ve got on, and crank the furnace up to 72F during the day. Or if I don't, Scott does, believing warmer air translates into less moisture condensation on the inside of the new windows. (These windows are a whole other story. If you live where we do, don't buy windows designed for Calgary's chinook weather.)

I’m trying again to keep the thermostat low. We’re into the fourth day. I’m bundled up. Maybe I’ll have better luck this time, having figured out that keeping my feet warm by wearing shoes or slippers makes a huge difference. So does getting moving. I get cold if I sit still too long. Maybe I should wear a knitted beanie in the house. Hey! There's a thought. Not that I'm a hat person. I don't actually like wearing things on my head. 

You can't see them here, but we have at least a dozen chickadees at the feeders all day long. Cute little things. I often sit on my knees backwards in the easy chair to watch them and, when I do it for more than a minute, experience deep relaxation.

I laid down at 10 so that I'd be receptive to Kate's energy treatment, and when I got up and looked at the time it was 10:30. The first thing Kate said when she wrote to me afterwards was that she'd noticed the connection seemed to be lost after a half-hour. How's that for apples, eh? 

      CHECK THIS OUT: The Song a Day Project
Listen past the 3-minute-40-second talking intro and be rewarded by discovering actor Jeff Daniels, the musician.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


“The thing to do is to note the pith of what is said—that I don’t think—then to use the little kick of energy which opposition supplies to be more vigorously oneself. . . . To investigate candidly the charge; but not fussily, not very anxiously. On no account to retaliate by going to the other extreme—thinking too much." - Virginia Woolf

Woolf said this about critical reviews of her writing, and I find it equally true of ungenerous judgments of others toward oneself. Don't you?

If you don't listen to CKUA Radio, check it out: You can hear it online.

CKUA is always introducing me to musicians I've never heard of who are really great. There's wonderful variety too. Check out The Old Disc Jockey, for one, if you like that kind of stuff, but there are all kinds of shows and artists.

I'm now enamoured of Madeleine Peyroux. Remember when I first bought her CD and didn't like it? Now she's one of my favourites. 'Course, I have a hundred favourites. So much fabulous music, so little time ... and a big appreciation for quiet also keeps me from doing much listening these days.

CKUA played a song by Rhiannon Giddens that I liked, "Down That Lonesome Road":

I made this Wild Rice Salad when Cathy was here.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it yourself. Something different.

Last night for the first time I threw together this easy dish and loved it: It's going to be a regular around here. 

I am about to lie down in order to be receptive to a session of distance healing by my friend Kate at Bluehorn Healing Centre. See her ad under "Letters of Recommendation." It will be my first experience of this aspect of Kate's many talents. 



Tuesday, November 22, 2016


"Oh mighty hunter, is this your catch of the day?" I say when he comes in from outside and plunks a frozen lump of ground beef onto the kitchen counter.

You bring meat to the house, I'll cook it, I tell the lad (who doesn't want to be vegetarian). But some things I won't touch and one of those is a package of pork hocks. Those he has to prepare himself and eat them too. The hocks aren't the feet of a pig but that's what I picture when hearing the word. Dad agrees with Scott that the hocks are delicious, but understands my aversion; the hocks are "close enough" to the feet, he says with a chuckle.

It's silly. Dead animal is dead animal. Why does it matter what part of the body you're eating?
But there you have it. I can be silly.

Just the content of the red and white bag, the beef, is on tomorrow's menu. We made meatballs with mixed beef and pork a few weeks ago, when this picture was taken. Scott and his brother raise organic cattle and their cousin raised the pigs. Emil has been asking to be taken to see some pigs but we didn't get around to it, shame on us. He loves pigs but is afraid of chickens. 

While I'm getting Julian Barnes out of my system:

"Every love story is a potential grief story. If not at first, then later. If not for one, then for the other. Sometimes, for both.
So why do we constantly aspire to love? Because love is the meeting point of truth and magic."

~From Levels of Life.

There is an English word for excessive fondness for one's wife: uxorious.
Is there an equivalent word for excessive fondness for one's husband?
If not, that's telling, isn't it, about our society. Does it suggest that it's possible to love a woman too much, but not possible to love a man too much? Or does it suggest that loving a man too much never happens? Or what?

There was freezing rain all over the place yesterday; lots of traffic accidents. I hung onto the railing while going up and down the steps, and my shoes still slipped. I didn't dare walk on the driveway, and gravitated to the grass alongside it instead, but it too was like glass. Today is no better. I'll still go out, but it won't be for a long, brisk walk. It will be a careful plod over to the quonset to put bread in the deep freeze, and then a slow saunter to the road for a look-see before coming back to the house.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Goddamn Blogspot, not cooperating. 
Yes I've restarted my computer. Still not working right.
Lately Blogger is getting on my nerves. 

My vocabulary is probably about average. I read a lot, but sometimes won't slow down to look up an unfamiliar word, instead guessing its meaning from those around it. When Joan gave me the Canadian Oxford Dictionary for Christmas one year, I began to change this lazy habit. That's when I learned not only how often my understanding had been incorrect, but how many more words I have never heard of. Now I keep my journal and pen handy while reading so I can scribble words, sometimes even those I've looked up before, and write down their definitions. It slows me down, but it's worth it. Tedious, but worth it.

From Flaubert's Parrot, by Julian Barnes:

He was in his early forties, with a pinky glabrous complexion and square rimless spectacles: the banker type of academic, circumspect and moral.

Can we deduce love for Juliet Herbert from the fact that Gustave called his greyhound Julio? Some can. It seems a little tendentious to me.

It seems a reasonable guess that if he had eaten bear he would have commented on such ipsophagy.

Or is this coloration indicative of a further shift away from humanity, a progression to the extremes of ursinity?

glabrous: free from hair or down; smooth skinned

tendentious: calculated to promote a particular cause or viewpoint; having an underlying purpose

ipsophagy: not in my dictionary, not in an online dictionary, but I found this in a review of the book: "If Barnes wants to be as nitpicking as this I may as well point out to him that `ipsophagy' is a dreadful mixture of Latin and Greek roots, and if he wanted to coin such a term it ought to have been `hautophagy'." Unfortunately the book's been returned to the library so I can't re-read the entire section around the word to figure it out. 

ursine: of or like a bear

Sometimes I'm almost embarrassed that I don't know or remember the meaning of a word that is commonly used or that I've looked up before. Almost. It keeps me humble.

Then there are the new words discovered while searching out definitions for others. This morning while turning the pages toward 'glabrous' I learned something new:

gittern: a medieval stringed instrument, forerunner of the guitar

My journals are filled with quotations and excerpts from the books I read. From Flaubert's Parrot:

"As you get older, the heart sheds its leaves like a tree. You cannot hold out against certain winds. Each day tears away a few more leaves; and then there are the storms which break off several branches at one go. And while nature's greenery grows back again in the spring, that of the heart never grows back."

The author, Barnes, was a grieving widower when he wrote this book. 
I copied out these few sentences and followed with a note of my own:

"This seems apt enough, but I choose not to believe it. I'll remain positive and expect my heart to be more open to beauty and joy as I get older."

It's a perfect example of my wilfulness. Barnes is probably absolutely correct, and he should know, having experienced the loss of a beloved spouse. I don't want to accept this kind of inevitability, even if my elders tell me how it is, and so I arrogantly insist that I won't, that I'll have healthier beliefs and therefore avoid their experience. My world will be different. Pfft! I never did learn much the easy way. Wouldn't listen to anyone. Still don't. Found out many times that it would have been wiser to take heed.

Monday is my bread-baking day, and this week's batch isn't spoken for so the loaves will go into the deep freeze. It means I thaw and add vegetable water to the dough, which I don't do when a batch is to be sold, as it may flavour the bread in heaven-knows-which-way, depending on what we've been eating. Potatoes, cauliflower, whatever, if it's been steamed I've saved the liquid to get its nutrients.

Veggie water now lukewarm, with molasses and vegetable oil stirred in.  
The liquid will be added to 20 cups of whole wheat flour mixed with yeast and salt, and toward the end of the kneading period I'll slowly pour in sunflower and sesame seeds. I thank the DoGs each week for my kneading machine, which saves me 15 minutes of huffing and puffing.