Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mysterious Egg

“Ewww! What the …!”
My first bite of a fried egg is … what is that? Not rotten, but … salty … vinegary … what has my egg lady been feeding her chickens!?
I taste the egg again. Can I eat this? Is something wrong with it? It’s gross! I’ll have to throw it out.
And then I recognize the flavour.
 Scott had come in and eaten some herring from a jar in the fridge. He’d picked up the fork I’d set out while making my breakfast, used it and and put it back on the counter next to my waiting plate … rather than in the sink where it belonged.
Mystery solved. I get a clean fork and finish my fresh farm egg, which is delicious.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sunny Days

It's my last week of holidays, and I'm enjoying it to the fullest. Not by going places. Not by embarking upon long-delayed projects around the home place. Nope. By sitting out on the step, reading, in between pruning out wilted, finished flower blooms, walking to the end of the driveway (too hot to strike out onto the road), and coming into the house to cool down and get a drink of water. 

Yesterday a bunch of crows started making a racket first thing in the morning, and it continued all day. I sat in the Adirondack chair, looking up from my book occasionally, trying to figure out what they were up to. About a half-dozen of them spent the day cawing and cackling and flitting short distances in the trees on the other side of our dugout, which the back step overlooks. I figure the adults were encouraging the young ones to fly, and yesterday was serious flight practice.

Noisy crow.

Then in the afternoon, the merlins started. 
They have a nest in one of our spruce trees, and I guess it was time for their little ones to get some flight practice in, too. 

Noisy merlin, one of three. Click to enlarge.

You Comment
I Reply

Wisewebwoman has left a new comment on your post "When 'Poor' Women Hire Housekeepers": 
Money well spent. I couldn't live without my Emma. I sacrifice on other stuff for this. Win win.

I couldn't have put it better myself and am looking so forward to my "new friend's" first visit.

Maggie Turner has left a new comment on your post "Kitty on the Job": 
It has to be a paradise there for a cat accustomed to competing for food with a lot of other cats! 

It's quite likely the other farmyard was all "fished out" so this guy is quite enjoying himself out here at our place, where the rodent population has had some months to multiply.

Lori has left a new comment on your post "Kitty on the Job": 
We have a few feral cats in our 'hood. They, along with the domestic cats can certainly "wail up" a symphony at night, especially hot summer nights! 

Scott has been talking about bringing a girlfriend over for this tomcat; maybe we're better off without! But we don't want him to get lonesome either.

Erin Kelly has left a new comment on your post "When 'Poor' Women Hire Housekeepers": 
I think that's a great thing to splurge on! We don't deep clean the house nearly as often and I would love to get a house cleaner in there but Henry is all I CAN DO THIS MYSELF but then pulls the "I'm tired from working" card. Sigh. 

Been there, done that, still do! I am the same way when it comes to doing the dishes after supper -- often just don't feel like it and, to be honest, just as often I don't even think about it! I have to admire those like my mother, sisters, aunts and grandmother, who just do it, it's done -- it's a habit or self-discipline I don't have. 
Paying someone to do the things we don't get around to is a luxury that working-class people rarely allow ourselves. I don't spend much on entertainments like movies at the theatre (we don't have a theatre within 100 miles) or concert-going or travel holidays. I'd rather have the floor washed and the bathroom sanitized, because my home is where I prefer to be, while the entertainments are infrequent luxuries I don't crave. 

Annette Erickson has left a new comment on your post "Kitty on the Job": 
It's sad when cats get so matted they can no longer care for themselves properly. At least he'll have lots to eat and who knows, he might get friendly. 

Probably when the weather turns cold and the rodents are more difficult to find, he'll be friendly as heck. 

CrystalChick has left a new comment on your post "Kitty on the Job": 
He has a nice place now to roam free and hunt. :) 

Exactly. It's the life o' Riley for a cat, even if he doesn't have the safety an indoor cat has. And there are no neighbours to complain about him using their flower beds for a litter box! Plus he's shy enough to keep his distance from the house and my flower beds.

CrystalChick has left a new comment on your post "Family Connections": 
Well how nice to meet a cousin like that. We just got to visit with a cousin (and his wife) from Virginia when they were traveling through on their way north. Just an evening together, but loved every minute of it. 

I bet you did. In my case the meetup was a coincidence, which added to the pleasure of it. 

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kitty on the Job

"I wonder if he's still around," Scott said, talking about the tomcat he'd brought home and released into the barn. It had been living at someone else's farmyard that was being overrun by cats, while here we had none. 

Although he had allowed Scott to pet him when the cage door was opened, he'd soon dashed into the barn's shadowy regions and that was the last he'd been seen. Scott put food and water out every day, and it seemed to be consumed in part, but the cat didn't come when called, and kept out of sight. 

One night we'd been out somewhere and pulled into the driveway after dark, and there he was; it was my first glimpse of him, scampering away from the headlights and into the bush at the side of the road. 

"You weren't kidding when you said he looks rough," I remarked. The cat is a persian whose hair had clumped up so badly that it looked like he was wearing a saddle slipped down on one side of his body. 

The other morning I caught sight of him across the yard, patiently stalking something in the long grass. The saddle of hair is gone, leaving a patch of bare skin. But he's doing his job, this tomcat: hunting rodents and squirrels, we hope, and not birds and baby rabbits. 

You Comment
I Reply

Lorna has left a new comment on your post "Family Connections": 
I love it that you can meet cousins out of the blue. I am close to most of my cousins but see few of them as we're spread across Canada and the US. We stay close with Facebook, and had stayed close before that because we were willing letter-writers. I cherish them.

I particularly enjoyed hearing his memory of my great-uncle, Uncle Bob, who visited this cousin Don's family regularly when Don was a boy. Uncle Bob used to stop in and have supper, and Don and his siblings would always run out to see if Uncle Bob had brought his guitar along, as he'd be the entertainment for the evening.

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Family Connections

One afternoon this week I picked up Scott's cousin Bev and we went to Margo to visit some of the places where her relatives (on her dad's side, not her mom's, which is the side related to Scott) and mine were neighbours and where the kids went to the Olivet School out in the country.

Bev's great-grandparents and their kids spent their first winter as homesteaders in the Margo area in the home of my great-grandparents, who lived about a mile from their newly acquired quarter-section and were away for the winter, visiting their own relatives in Ontario. 

My aunt Reta was named after Bev's great-aunt Areta, who was my grandmother's best friend until she died suddenly at age 21 just shortly after her marriage. There is a long history of friendship between our two families, and I remember Bev's grandparents well from my childhood, when they lived across the street from my grandparents on my dad's side. 

We also stopped at the Margo Cemetery, where Bev's great-grandparents and other relatives are buried back in the same overgrown corner near my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents and several of my great-uncles and my great-aunt. (Mom and her dad, Grandpa Benson, are buried in a different location in the same cemetery, as are my grandparents on the Johnson side.) 

We walked around, reading headstones, on a windy warm day with few-to-no mosquitoes, which was a change as usually you are running out of there to get away from them. 

When we arrived there was a man walking around back in the area we were headed towards, and as he was leaving I called out to him and we started to chat, as people do out here. There is no such thing as being shy with strangers. We introduced ourselves, for of course we might know people in common. It turned out that he is a cousin of mine! He lives at Invermay, which is the next village down the highway from Margo, and we are cousins some-distance-removed, but cousins nonetheless. I have yet to trace his family in my Jones history book, as that is the family connection (my great-grandmother was a Jones, and perhaps it was his grandmother who was also a Jones) but I will. 

Cousin Don Graham and me. Yes I got a very short haircut. Scott says I look like the professor on The Simpsons; my women friends (Bev, Aunt Reta, sister Karen) say it is cute. Another example of the kindheartedness of women?

You Comment
I Reply

Lorna has left a new comment on your post "When 'Poor' Women Hire Housekeepers": 
I think that is a brilliant analysis and a worthwhile answer to your issue. I haven't ever had a housecleaner, although my kids complained, all through their live-at-home teen years, that Housecleaners R Us. Now both a lack of interest and a failing of my eyesight make it seem a good idea, but here in Ottawa it is very expensive. I'm going to do it anyway. 

You'll be glad you did, Lorna. I could afford it twice as often a few years ago when I was earning higher wages, but I think this is going to work out fine too. Anything is better than nothing! and in my case, it's often "nothing" when it comes to housework. As we all know, I struggle with dishes and keeping the floor swept as it is. Dusting is infrequent, vacuuming is non-existent now that the Roomba isn't working and I don't know what to do about it, and floor-washing is a non-starter. Don't ask me about windows. I say if they're dirty, maybe the birds won't smash into them as often.

Jan Morrison has left a new comment on your post "When 'Poor' Women Hire Housekeepers": 
I'm with you! I've just been considering this option myself. I work all day and love to cook but I like my evenings for creative work - my writing, drawing, etc... I also like a clean house. I cannot do floors because I have quite bad arthritis these days. The fella does them. I don't mind the day to day chores but man oh man I'd like someone to come in and do deep cleaning once a month. I'd even like to fo it along with, just so it is what I'd like done. My pals back home and I used to do this thing we called Bumsteading. (We called ourselves the Bumstead Wives as we felt our mates were Dagwood like). We'd go to the house that needed Bumsteading and the host would tell us what she needed done. Then the four or five of us would fly atter( including host pal). Host would make a good lunch then we'd go back at it. After we might go out to a movie or stay in for one (days of renting a video cassette player and a film). We got lots done plus plenty of laughing and talking. 

This is a really good idea because it's far more pleasant to drudge away with others than alone. You managed to make a communal event out of it, followed by a reward that celebrated a job done. Around here, another person pitching in inspires me to get other housework done at the same time.  

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

When 'Poor' Women Hire Housekeepers

"You charge what?" was my first response. "Shoot. That's too high."

I had found someone who does housecleaning, but paying her for an hour's toil meant I would have to work nearly two hours at my desk, myself. I resigned myself to continuing to live with unwashed floors and a bathroom that is not deep-cleaned regularly. 

With more time to think about it, I admitted I'd rather work two hours reading and writing than one hour cleaning the bathroom or washing the floor. More than that, if I hire someone else to do it, then it will get done. When it's left up to me to do, it doesn't — period. I don't think about it, and when I do, I soon forget about it. 

And instead of having her come out every two weeks, I can have her whiz through the place once a month. In between, I can spot-wipe, and that's good enough for me.  I'll hand over 50 bucks quite happily, and I remember how good that feels. 

This setup does raise eyebrows. Women who are not wealthy are considered spoiled brats if they don't do their own housework. Suit yourself if you think that way. It's my money, I earn it, and I'll spoil myself rotten with it if I choose to. And I choose to. 

Housekeeping is the luxury I've decided to spend my "walking money" on. I think I've mentioned that I pay myself $1 for each mile. Having something to spend the $ on will motivate me to keep walking and to get out there more often, which is the best thing for my health. 

Are there more essential items that I could spend that $50/month on? You bet. The Naturalizer sandals of Mom's that I inherited after she passed away are falling apart after 11 years. I need to replace them and won't buy cheap shoes anymore, so will need to come up with 100 bucks or more. (Thanks to that important lesson, Mom, I have happy feet.) I'd like to purchase more RRSPs this winter, thereby saving more income tax dollars than last year, so need to come up with extra cash. I could contribute to the paying of other bills around here, or put more money away than I already do for some future holiday or the next vehicle I need. There is always another place one can earmark money for. 

I, however, am earmarking $50 a month for something that gives me quite a lot of relief: a cleaning job that I don't have to do myself.

Uncle Neil, left, and brother-in-law Dick at the Benson clan mini-reunion

You Comment
I Reply

Lorna has left a new comment on your post "Taking Care of Business": 
personally, I'm thrilled that you share and reply. As for the safety element in your burger date the other day, I really admire people who take action. Of course, I probably wouldn't have thought of it myself 

Like you, Lorna, I wouldn't have thought of it either. It's one of Scott's admirable qualities —his consideration for others in ways that wouldn't cross my mind.
Since you like this method of replying to comments, I'll keep it up. Thanks for letting me know. 

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taking Care of Business

"What is that?"

We were on our way to Kuroki to have barbecued burgers with Scott's cousin and her husband on Saturday night, when a blinding brightness appeared at the side of the highway and did not go away for a very long time. 

"Probably just a road sign," I said, and when we got closer we could see that this was so.

Scott, never one to pass on by when he can contribute to road safety by moving something, pulled over and got out of the truck to bend the sign slightly forward so that its reflection of the evening sun would no longer be a danger to oncoming drivers.

Taking care of business, every day and in every way. Love it.

You Comment
I Reply

Secret Agent Woman has left a new comment on your post "Grizzly Claw": 
I like to get my coffee at the local coop or Trader Joe's - fair trade, organic and supporting businesses I like. 

Sounds like you have a few options, too. I'm jealous!

Secret Agent Woman has left a new comment on your post "First Vacation Day": 
Very pretty. I love flowers brought in from the garden. 

At this time of summer, our yard is an "embarrassment" of flower riches.

Wisewebwoman has left a new comment on your post "First Vacation Day": 
Sounds like a perfect beginning!

No complaints from me, that's for sure. 

Teresa has left a new comment on your post "First Vacation Day": 
Enjoy your holidays. Have loads of fun.

Fun? What's that? I need to go to the beach, don't I, and actually put on a bathing suit and go dog-paddling. Actually I need to get out on my sister Karen's paddleboat with her. THAT is fun.

P.S. to you regular commenters: 
Do you like this way of responding to comments? In other words, do you notice much difference to your own convenience? Please let me know. If you don't love it, I'm going to go back to the old way for my own convenience.

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

First Vacation Day

Again with the incredible skies and storms blowing by, last night. When I went out this morning I was surprised to see that no damage was done. A scented geranium Sandy gave me had tipped over (I'm repotting it tonight and there will be no more tippage) and so had a lawn chair on the step, which hurt absolutely nothing. In the garden, a few tall perennials are leaning a little, but overall things are looking pretty good. We didn't get hail or strong winds, just a gorgeous sunset and a too-warm breeze that worried us a little when it was at nine o'clock in the evening and the sky looked like it did.

I took my clippers out to the large perennial bed today and took off the columbines that have finished blooming, and the last of the painted daisies. I snipped the wild yarrow for Carla's tea, and the spearmint for mine. There was the odd flower that was bent out of sight behind others, so I brought them in and stuck them in a vase. Hate to see them go to waste where I don't see them. 

Normally I'd be in the office on Wednesday morning, so this is actually the real beginning of my two-week holiday. And a perfect day it is. Skirt-wearing weather; lunching with Everett; taking a drive with Bev to Margo; dropping in on Karen and expect to see other rellies. All good! Best get going.

 You Comment
I Reply

Maggie Turner has left a new comment on your post "Grizzly Claw": 
Kate, your approach to buying local is much like ours, but our budget more more modest, so Kicking Horse coffee isn't something we can afford as Attila drinks copious amounts of coffee. If the price of the cheap unethical coffee goes up, we will be gathering chicory from the fields and creating our own beverage. We have tried it though, and love it. When I worked in a store that catered to affluent people it was the coffee they sold. I cleaned the coffee machine, so I got to save the bits of grounds left in the machine after every grind, and it added up to a bag almost every day, it was grand coffee to be sure. 

I'm glad to hear you agree about the taste of the coffee, as I wondered if I might be imagining it. Scott is fussier than me; we've tried all of KH's dark roasts, but he only likes the Grizzly Claw.
Our cash flow is modest too, but we have no credit card debt or payments like mortgages and vehicles, so that frees us up some. We don't take tropical holidays, go shopping for something to do, or in my case even buy books! -- so there is some wiggle room when it comes to things that are important to us. However, when I reverted to cash-only spending a couple months ago, I very nearly purchased some non-organic, unfair trade coffee during the weeks it took me to adjust. People do what they have to do. 

Lorna has left a new comment on your post "Grizzly Claw": 
Thank goodness being true to oneself has some reward. 

We can't always afford to live up to our convictions. But we do what we can. 

Below, click on "Comments" to see any reader responses to today's entry.