Monday, February 29, 2016

There Goes the Wind

Then one evening, I jumped out of my chair.
It was time! Tonight, I'd cut those lengths of parachute cord and tie them in place to make — voila — zen birdsavers!
Out came the scissors and cord, and I began to measure, snip and knot at the kitchen table.
Until Scott said, "What are you doing?" and proceeded to suggest a different and, to his way of thinking, better way.
It would mean I had to prime and paint a couple of boards, and cut the cords a different length because they would be attached via a whole different mechanism than I had visualized.
He wanted to hang the birdsavers two feet from the window, not at all what I was visualizing, and —
And there went the wind out my sails.
I couldn't paint that night, and couldn't continue as I was.
I set the cord aside and it's been there for several weeks.
In the meantime, the birds are still hitting the window once in a while, but it's not as bad as it was.
I hung half-a-dozen scarves from the curtain rod and lined up vases on the window ledge; whatever might catch the attention of a bird in flight and warn it that there is "something" there.

This is only a temporary and poor solution, however. In a certain light and from a certain angle, the bird sees only sky and trees reflected in the window glass. It can't see inside.
The birdsavers must still be made, and soon.
I just have to work up my enthusiasm again.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

August Flowers

This morning:

Coffee while propped up in bed reading The Lacuna.

Notebook at my side to write down things I want to see again or do something with. For example, this quote from the book.

Frida Kahlo's cook has just delivered a meal to her studio, and she asks what he thinks of the painting she's at work on. He says, careful not to offend, something like "We're making good progress" and she responds wryly:

"As the fly said, sitting on the back of the ox, 'We are plowing this field!' "

The Lacuna is a novel I almost set aside without reading more than 50 pages. In the beginning it did not hook my attention. But before reaching its hundredth page, it had redeemed itself. From now on I'll give every book my devotion for 100 pages; that's fair as well as self-serving.

I don't know whether the following is a translation of a real saying in Mexico, or if author Barbara Kingsolver has written it herself, but it comes out of the mouth of a hardworking servant in the early part of last century.

"God gives money to the rich because if they didn't have it, they would starve."

For full dazzle, click to enlarge: the flowerbed in the front yard.
I receive some photographs and am sorting them, finding a folder on my computer, when I see "august flowers.jpg" in the list and click on it just because.
And voila! Wow! If I say so myself. You'll have seen it or something like it before, but if you're like me it will give you a lift anyway.

Friday, February 26, 2016

This LadyHeads for Her Pillow

We're out of the office early tonight; five o'clock, for me.
The streets are wet and crunchy with slush, ice and water. I bundle up and walk over to Everett's to get Little Green where I left her this morning. Everett is already in his housecoat.
I drive over to Emil's place. He meets me at the door and gets ready in record time.
I have to stop for a few things at the store and convince him to wait in the car. It's just easier that way when I'm hoping for a quick trip in and out.
When we arrive home I drive Little Green right up to the step and make four trips between car and house, hauling in my purse and some fresh farm eggs and a bag of buns I had in the fridge at the office for lunches, and Emil's backpack and the sack that carries his braces and indoor shoes, and three 10-litre jugs of drinking water, and two cloth shopping bags full of groceries. 
Then I back Little Green out to the parking area and, on my way back to the house, detour past the oaks to refill the feeders for the chickadees and redpolls. There's still a little light left and they may nibble a while yet.

Emil, with genuine enthusiasm and pride, followed by curiosity:
I like my new job, sanding. We have a store at Mallard Industries now. Do you ever go shopping there, Mom?

Me, as if a light's just come on:
Why no, I haven’t! I guess I could though, eh?

Emil, Most Matter-of-Fact Guy Ever:
That’s what stores are for.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Night of the Son

Come into my hallway ... heh heh heh ... (my Count Dracula impersonation) ...

Leaving the Christmas bulbs up. They're good feng shui.

It's the best place to stand while brushing your teeth in our house. Minutes of entertainment!

Click to enlarge.
I'll see y'all tomorrow night, if I've any energy when I get home Friday after work. Usually after a long day at the computer, I still sit down here and check my mail after being away overnight, and I still post something on this page. It might be crazy, but it's a habit.

Everett and I will be watching Rick and Morty this evening. Have a taste:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cardboard Boxes

This cardboard box with its hinged lid has been kicking around for several years. Where did it come from? I don't remember.

Just this weekend I realized it's a treasure.

I've been storing paper mementos in it, awaiting the day I get around to doing something with them.

I've also been eyeing up empty notebooks with a view to getting the travelling journal on the road. Very nearly got things onto the kitchen table one afternoon this week, but somehow never.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


My phone, laying on the desk, warbles a spooky tune. Karen is texting me.
"Can I take you out for lunch today?"
But of course.

Lunch is at the Greek restaurant in town. We both order the chicken burger special. I eat all the salad before taking more than a bite or two out of the burger, and am full before it's half gone. Good thing Scott and his brother and Leonard P join us; I can always count on Scott to finish my meals.

Does it occur to me to snap a few photos? Apparently not.

From me, Karen picks up a bagful of flower-arrangement sponge that a gal had dropped off at the office for her.

She leaves me with belated-birthday presents: a new garbage can she'd bought as per my orders when she was shopping somewhere, and a set of (when I get home and look in the gift bag, I text to ask if they were meant to be wall hangings or what?) "coffee mug mats."

I won't set coffee mugs on them; they'd get stained. 
The flip side.
You can't tell by the photos, but the mats are small, like a half or even a third the size of a regular place mat. They're cute as can be. Click on the images to enlarge them and have a closer look.

I get a kick out of the gift bag. Look at the extra expense that went into the making of this one:

It's an actual piece of wood. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Suzie Was Sizzlin'

"Is it all right," I asked, ever so politely, "if I take a picture while you're singing?"
"Of course!" she said, also politely.
So I found a spot near the back of the room and got my camera ready.
My camera, my sweet little camera "what I luv."
And then I thought, why don't I make a wee video of Suzie singing and playing?
Might as well.
Now, she was playing her bass guitar for a change, for one song, so you won't get the full flavour of her concert this afternoon at Charlene's house.
And you won't get the complete song, because the friggin' camera quit on me just a minute in.
Damn machines.
This is the second time in several days that it's given me this kind of grief: "No more internal memory. Need new memory card," or somesuch thing. Baloney, of course, unless memory cards wear out like recyclable batteries eventually do.

Anyway, here's a taste of Suzie Vinnick's performance today at a farmhouse near Wadena:

Scott examined the camera when we got home and says I didn't have the memory card in correctly.
We shall see. Hope he's right.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

City Slickers

When we get company who've never been here before or it's been too long, they often phone from Wadena. I give them directions to the corner three-quarters of a mile south, and wait for them there.

I drive to the correction line and make a u-turn before pulling over to the side of the road.

Out the passenger window

It usually takes about 10 minutes till they get here. I sit and listen to the radio (today it was Quirks and Quarks on CBC; guests were talking about "fake" tattoos that can read physical conditions like high cholesterol, cancer, etc., and about gleaning electronic energy from human sweat; wow, I say).

Out the driver's window. Hm, where are they? Should be here by now.
We're on Lone Tree Road by the greenhouse sign.

By the sign or by the actual greenhouse?

The greenhouse.

Oh. Okay. You can get here that way, too. Drive straight, another mile to the four-way stop, and turn left; I'll be in the little green car.

And so I back up onto the correction line and mosey on over to the Kylemore grid and toward Lone Tree Road, and soon see Kathy's car approaching from the distance. She blinks her headlights a couple times and I do the same before turning around in a driveway so the car points toward home again.

This time the girls have a pilot vehicle and pull into our yard right behind me.

Little Kath and her daughter Jessie come out from Saskatoon for the afternoon. 
 I'm meeting Jessie, age nine, for the first time. Kathy and I have known each other since she was 11 and I was 23, when her dad was my new beau. For four years Kathy and her two younger siblings spent their summer holidays with us.

Ducky thinks he's died and gone to heaven. Two more laps to sit on, four more hands to pet him; what's not to love! And when Jessie leaves her mom and me at the kitchen table and moves to the couch to draw and write in her book, Ducky goes along.


How's this for an answer to the unspoken question, How do you account for your long life?

"I pick all my own fruit," he said. "It gives me a reason to stay living." -"Jam Man" in Prince Albert


Response to comments:
LORI - I went to your webpage this morning again. Looks like you guys had a great time. So interesting to one who's never been up there ... like me.
ANNETTE: Cameras, eh? I like my little digital, mostly because I've dropped it a half-dozen times and it keeps on ticking! But it does do weird things with perspective, like bring a field close that is a mile away, that kind of thing. However, it's all in fun and that's enough for me.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Foggy Morn

Brrrring! Brrrrring! Brrrrrring!

Wha...? Is that my phone?

I was asnooze in Everett's living room in town. Last night he introduced me to Rick and Morty and Ash Versus Evil Dead. The former had its humorous moments. I was bored by the latter.

Scott was calling.
"Ducky is lying there whining, this morning. Can you bring his medication out, or do I have to come in and get it?"

The pills had been picked up from the vet in Yorkton yesterday and delivered to me at the office.

I dressed, started the car, and drove slowly out to our place over icy roads. It was around seven o'clock. Ducky Doodle got his meds (second round; he's been scratching himself crazy for weeks) and I got a big mug of hot black coffee before heading back to town around 8:30.

It was foggy and the sun was barely up and just beginning to burn through. Down the road, I threw Little Green into 'Park' and got out to take a picture.

The camera did not capture the beautiful scene I saw. Alas.
It was quite magical.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Let's Talk Somerset

Laughed out loud when I heard the Bristol accent.
The county of Somerset is where some of the family ancestors came from.

And we do, for sure, come from farmers for generations upon generations.

Some of our English antecedents were wealthy landowners in Upper Woodlands in the area near Frome, which isn't such a long way from the famous Bath, frequented by many travellers. There was a castle surrounded by a moat, on the estate. In 1805 a daughter of these landowners married their gardener or manager, who had been a soldier. It didn't go over too well with her parents and there was subsequent estrangement between the young couple and her family, although when her brother died in 1818, he left some of his valuable worldly goods (like his bed; valuable in those days) to his sister, brother-in-law and one or two of his nephews.

But anyway, I come honestly by my love of flowers.

One's own ancestry is of much more interest than that of others, usually, but my relatives reading this might not have heard me go on about these few details before.

I love the shows on TV that trace ancestry for selected guests. There is a lot of cultural and social history to be learned from them, just like there is from Antiques Roadshow. When it's on, I can't look away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sleep-In Morning

Why, I ask you, would a person have a completely headache-free day and then the moment she lays her head on her pillow, it begins? Rzzl Frzzzl Grrr.  It meant I slept poorly and had to get up in the night and take a pill that, unfortunately, didn't do the trick 100% but went as far as putting me into a semi-coma that will make me later than I want to be for work this morning.

While waiting for my oatmeal porridge to cool enough to eat, I might as well update the blog. As if there is anything of interest to report.


I was telling Dad on the phone last night that we are having the kind of days where, when I go for a walk, I don't need mitts on but still need my hood up because the wind is cutting even in this unseasonably warm temperature.

We've also had a bit of snow in recent days, so everything is blanketed in a soft white.

There, the porridge is cool enough to pass through my lips. I'm off and running on the road to the office!

Grandpa Benson's birthday today. I think he'd be turning 102, but I doubt he'd've liked to reach that age, feeling as he did the last few years of his life.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nothing Fancy

Valentine's Day was sunny and warm, so we thought we'd zip up to the Hendon Hotel for a beer and see what the new owners are doing with the place. Fortunately they'd advertised in the local paper so there was a phone # to call in order to find out whether the pub was open on a Sunday afternoon. It wasn't but as it turned out we came right by there on our way home anyway, so it wouldn't have been a wasted trip had we gone without calling first.

What should we do then? Scott thought it would be nice to pick up some ice cream and take it over to Everett's for the boys, so we did that and visited with them for a few minutes. Everett was finishing up his dishes and planning to bake chocolate cupcakes. Emil had been watching movies all day but graciously paused his film about the Sneetches while we were there.

We stopped at the office so I could pick up a library book I'd left on my desk; it was time to return a stack of them, most unread. No time, no time! Alison was there, working away. A quick chat and I was on my way back to Scott and the truck. We gassed up and headed out for a drive through the countryside, the trees glittering with hoarfrost.

Home again, Scott prepared steak and I prepared potatoes and carrots, and while they cooked, we read through the papers we'd picked up in town. The WADENA NEWS had been delivered to the office on Saturday morning so I'd grabbed a copy, and Scott had gathered the district freebies that are distributed in boxes in front of the library.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

No Hearts and Flowers

Have you ever heard of "vinegar" valentines?
I hadn't, till today.
Thanks to Librarian Maggie, who is a connoisseur of vintage cards.

For some time it was all the rage to send insulting valentines, not only to your sweetheart but to others with whom you had business dealings or other connections.

More nasty valentines to be seen with the following article:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Found Too Late

Mr. Daviduk, deceased, was found with his truck sometime Thursday. At the news office, we received the RCMP report that evening.
He was located in a field four miles west of Wadena and one-half mile south, well within the range of the intense and organized ground and air search that had gone on for more than a week and covered a 100-kilometre radius from the town.
Explain that, goddammit.
I was angry, and I'm still angry, under over and around the sad. All that earnest effort; how did we manage to miss him?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tree Hugger

Damn right I am.

Here is the largest tree in Wadena that I know of, directly south of the news office.

Waiting for Emil to get into the car. 
It's been a quiet day at home; not much to tell.
I worked five hours for the newspaper. Did dishes. Took work calls for Scott. Set the roomba to work in the hallway and the porch. Took the dogs and went for a walk. Filled the birdfeeders. Made something new for supper but didn't have all the ingredients so had to wing it. Was okay but would be fab with everything the recipe calls for. Did dishes again. Rubbed Scott's feet (my turn) before he went out to visit a couple of pals. I'm about to climb into bed and read.
Just another day.
Life's pretty good most of the time, isn't it?

Monday, February 8, 2016

No Luck

We never quite made it to the actual village of St. Front, so I still haven't seen it.
But we did drive past this churchyard out in the country. There were no tracks around it.

Scanning the land this way made me realize just how vast it is and how many places a person could be and how difficult it could be to find you if you had gotten off the beaten track.

We had to stick to the roads, but we stopped to look closely at any empty or unoccupied farmyards where a half-ton could've driven in and gotten stuck. Scott would put the truck into park, walk into the yard, and be on his way back before I'd gotten my coat on and gotten halfway down the driveway myself.

Finally, somewhere up by Spalding, we had to give up and come home after one last foray into a treed farmyard where no one lives anymore:

The story in the WADENA NEWS today can be read HERE.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Emil's Day

"Looking at this, I think maybe we didn't go as far as we thought," Scott said, showing me the Google satellite image of the area he and Bruce had searched the day before. "Do you still want to go for a drive to the St. Front area?"

We get correspondent news from St. Front, a tiny francophone village northwest of Wadena, and I've never been there.

First he had to go give a bale to the cattle, and I had to go get Emil and stop at the news office. Emil has never been there and I knew he'd like to see it, so I invited him in.

Emil enters. My desk is on the right, and you can see Alison sitting way at the front.
The first thing he said was "There's a fan" and then "There's another one. Do they work?"
No surprise there. He's got a severe case of fan fascination; always has.
This seems to be a common symptom of autism, doesn't it? Emil was never diagnosed as more than "borderline" autistic, but definitely has some of the traits.

About to go out the door again. The paper we worked long and hard to get to press the day before has already been printed and delivered, stacked and ready to be labelled and mailed on Monday morning.
When we got back out here, Emil didn't want to join us on the search, so we left him with the phone number of family less than a mile away, told him not to cook anything, and repeated instructions for what to do in case the smoke alarm goes off. We thought it would take an hour to get to the area Scott wanted to check and an hour to drive around there.

"We'll be back in about three hours," I told Emil. And away we went. That was four o'clock.

At 7:15 we were less than five minutes from home when my cellphone rang.

"I just thought I'd check," Emil said, "since you said you'd be back by now."

When we walked in, Scott returned a phone call and I started frying eggs and making toast. I asked Emil what he'd done during the three hours we were gone.

Did he make any phone calls? He'd thought he might.
But no.
Did he read any books?
He walked around the house a bit, he said, and that was about it.
Weren't you bored? I said.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


All week we've been concerned for Mike and his family. We've been hopeful, though.
Now I feel sick. He had still not been located when the searchers came in last night.
Scott and his brother have been out with them for the past two days.


The bird feeders were last filled on Thursday morning. It's time to get out there again.
Emil will be calling from town, ready to be picked up. He went to Codie Prevost's concert in Wynyard so wasn't ready to come home with me after work yesterday.

Here's Emil. I'd better get dressed and go.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mike Missing

Tonight is the third night that a man from our community has been missing. The RCMP and many local volunteers have been out searching the rural roads and unused farmyards for his truck, which he was driving Monday afternoon, the last time he was seen in town. It's only about 10-below at night and he is a resourceful man, but he is 85 years old and we are all pretty worried.

Yesterday Scott and I drove around between the Godhe land and up to Lintlaw, looking for tire tracks on rarely used roads, thinking "You never know ...  he could be anywhere," but didn't see any sign of him.

His wife and daughters won't be getting a decent sleep if any at all — what a helpless hell this must be, and my heart goes out to them — but I'm off to bed in hopes of some good news tomorrow: that he's been found safe and well somewhere tonight.

See the Wadena News website for a little more information, if you're curious.
If you browse through some of the other articles since Christmas, you'll see one that Mike wrote after he got stuck in the snow — stranded — for a night or two once before. He came through it no worse for wear and maybe he'll be just as lucky this time around.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How to Live

"How does one achieve peace of mind? On this latter point, Plutarch's advice was the same as Seneca's: focus on what is present in front of you, and pay full attention to it." - from How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer, by Sarah Bakewell

So, "Be Here Now" is not just a New Age philosophy, is it!

I've been reading Bakewell's biography of Michel de Montaigne, who was a self-examiner if ever there was one, and whose most common written statement might well have been "but I'm not sure."

A few bits, among the many, that struck me:

"Montaigne himself did not brood in his tower like a Gormenghast earl: he liked to be out walking."

"Easy conversation in trivial situations was valuable; it opened the path to deeper relationships, and to the more pleasant evenings where one could joke and laugh at ease."

"The only hope of emerging from the fog of misinterpretation is to remain alert to its existence: that is, to become wise at one's own expense."


Meanwhile, I'm going outside for a walk under the big sky.

Dear Shelly

Your Christmas creation has managed to stay on the back step all winter so far. A Christmas miracle, apparently.

It's a pleasure to see it out there and remember your last visit. 

Your pail of pussywillow blew off the step and was set up in the snow on the table below, but I see it has blown onto the ground and needs a "quieter" spot.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Light and Shadow

It was a perfect day for a walk.
I turned north from the driveway.
Click on images to enlarge.

After half a mile I retraced my steps and wondered what it would be like to follow this trail of animal tracks down through the ditch, across the field and into the bush. For a moment I was tempted. Such a beautiful day ... 

Instead I strolled on past our driveway and the grass driveway that goes into the back yard, and swiveled to look yet again behind me.

It's all about the light, out there!

I kept on going south, toward the ravine and the correction line. Twice, Ducky Doodle stepped on a layer of snow and ice and it cracked, scaring the shit out of me. Sounded like gunfire, real close.

From our driveway to the correction line and back takes me a half-hour. And the light! And I often do a 360-degree turn to see if there's a moose crossing the road behind me after I've passed. It's happened before. 

Home again, home again, jiggity jog. Halfway down the driveway, I look past the trees and beyond the rusty old car to the road leading north. 

I don't even know who I'm talking to, but almost every day when I go for a walk, I thank someone or something for the pleasure of living here and the time to enjoy it.