Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Taking a Break

It's time for a little hiatus from blogging. The well's been a bit dry recently. See you back here late next week. 

The corner where you turn to drive up to our place. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Moving Cattle

The gents decided to bring some of their herd back to the family farmyard before the weather gets worse. Me and Little Green, my wee Taurus, were called into service to head the cattle off at the pass should they decide to head north rather than following Scott's truck from one pasture to another. But they followed him, the Pied Piper of Cows, and I didn't even have to get out of the car.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Wandering Around in a Fog

Maybe today the fog will finally lift.

Taken from the back step.

It's so quiet. Although one night the train was so loud you'd swear it was less than a mile away. And there are no railway tracks within four miles of our place. 

Scott says a loud train means a change in weather.  

We fully expect at least a week of sun and warmth to get the flax crop off, and if we don't get it we'll be putting in a complaint with the powers that be. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Down One Cat

I didn’t want to go to the barn again the next day for fear of finding KitKat dead out there. He had let me walk right up to him for the first time since he was brought here this summer. Usually he'd swiftly disappear whenever he heard or saw anyone. 

The lady who lived here before us said that skittish barn cats get friendly when the weather turns cold, and it’s true, but I was pretty sure something was wrong with KitKat. As I stroked his orange fur and talked to him, I wondered if he’d been injured, and was relieved when he got up and took a step closer so he could curl up right next to me. He looked fine but it took quite a bit of petting before he purred. 

He showed no interest in the fried egg I was delivering. I left it nearby and covered him with a blanket. That night I lay in bed worrying that I should have done something more for him, that maybe he was seriously ill and not just a little under the weather.   

It was foggy last night and again all day today, but not windy; perfect for a three-mile walk this afternoon.

The next day Scott came in and told me the cat was laying dead under the stairs leading to the loft.

Reply to Comments

Wisewebwoman has left a new comment on your post "Walking & Chewing Gum? No!": 
I miss the piano and singing - and I had some fun with a musical I wrote and directed. Gee I really miss the piano, don't have one now and I always did. Mainly for my own the video. He's great!

Isn't he!
I do have a piano, which Scott would like me to move out of the living room because the room's too crowded and I never play it. Until I do, and then it's worth the wait (to me).

Joan McEwan has left a new comment on your post "Walking & Chewing Gum? No!": 
I ve been playing and singing with my neighbour, Mark, for a few months now. We practise every week if we can and it IS fun! He played guitar and piano and is very good musically..... A good way for me to get practising and force myself to do something a little out of my comfort zone..... 

A regular play date is the best practice motivation there is.

reta has left a new comment on your post "Food's the Thing": 
going to try to send response,did you never look at all the bartly men?they all had that round bald what age it started I don't no,maybe bev would.also mom could not that hereditary? 

I never noticed the Bartley men's hair (or lack of it), no!
I've read that anosmia can be hereditary. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Food's the Thing

Emil has a weird oval bald spot on the back of his head. It looks like someone made a wild swipe with a razor while buzzing off his hair. I hope that's all it is, otherwise ... I'd be hornswoggled as to the cause.

Of course he doesn't give a rat's ass about it.

He's more interested in what's on the stove. Eatin' Emil, that should be his moniker. As soon as he arrives he checks out the fridge and the cupboards too, and remarks upon any foodstuff he likes.

"I see you bought some peaches."

"You bought three root beer."

"You bought ice cream!" Worth an exclamation mark, that one.

He likes these Spanish Beans, he tells me, having had them numerous times.

The recipe's been doubled so we'll have leftovers.

The recipe for Spanish Beans is HERE.
Now, what to do with that thing on the counter that I think is a marrow? Cook it like a spaghetti squash?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Walking & Chewing Gum? No!

A generous gift from my great-aunt, Aunt Jean, was used to purchase my Cort acoustic bass guitar a good long time ago. I've played the same three bass runs since I was about 24 years old! and never stuck with it or gotten any more skilled. I couldn't even sing and play at the same time! and that's saying something. Like: Give it up and do something that comes naturally.

I pick up the guitar for enough days in a row to get my fingers calloused and to the point where they know what they're doing and will play by themselves (it's the coolest thing!), then I forget about it for weeks at a time or months.

Since being at home full-time this past month I've made a point of playing those same old bass runs most days. I'm still a beginner but it is fun, and I'm all about having some fun every damn day. I've even started humming along sometimes, a major advance for this poor fumbler.

A song has been added to my brief list. The bass is simple and the words are worth learning too. Fun! I don't sing in public and don't want to, but offered to do my part with the following at the Engdahl family reunion a couple summers ago if my sister Karen would play the guitar. The Engdahls would've liked the humour in this one. Karen didn't take me up on the idea and I was just as glad when the time came. Knowing I am about to get up in front of everyone and sing is a horrible feeling. When Karen and our sister Joan's turn came to perform something for the gang, I was so relieved it wasn't me. What was I thinking! A lot of the Engdahls are natural entertainers, but I didn't get that particular gene.

Morgan was in Wadena doing a show with Doc MacLean some years ago.

The fourth bass run I always practise is this one from Desperado. It doesn't get "fun" to play till the chorus, so I jump to that a lot more quickly than they do here:

My sister once asked if playing the bass was boring and I said it isn't, but actually the real "fun" of it is when someone joins in on rhythm and/or lead guitar, which was the case when I had a guitar-playing beau, the one who showed me those first three bass runs. The guitars together is what makes the more sedate fingerwork of the bass so worthwhile. I never play with anyone else so I don't get that pleasure. Maybe someday. You can have a lot of fun playing bass when by yourself too, and I do.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Willing to Try

This morning a text came in from Bev:
“Are you home?”
My heart leapt. “Yes! Are you here?”

I always hope she’s come out to visit her mom and I’ll get to see her. We have been friends since high school in Margo. You may remember that some years ago her doctor diagnosed her with breast cancer and recommended an immediate mastectomy. Instead Bev went the alternative-treatment route in spite of the naysaying of many of her acquaintances, who insisted she would die if she didn’t follow her doctor’s orders. A p.e.t. scan later proved that no cancer remained. It was a success story that a lot of people find difficult to believe; the only explanation that seems logical to them is that the original diagnosis was wrong. (Read Bev's account HERE.)

Bev isn’t in the area, alas, but was texting from her home in southern Saskatchewan to share some good news. We got onto the telephone. She’d been out to Wadena over the Thanksgiving weekend, she said, and had called here but not gotten an answer. As it turned out she wouldn’t have had time to drop in anyway as she was busy helping a friend who’d flown in from Montana. The friend, Jan, had just been diagnosed with cancer throughout her body, bones and all, "everywhere," and all the doctor could offer her was palliative care. Basically she’d been sent home to die.

Bev convinced her to fly up to Saskatchewan and come out to see one of our local healers, who had helped Bev.

“What have you got to lose?” she said to Jan. “Either you’re dying now, or you try this.” 
Later Jan said that Bev had “ripped her a new asshole” when she felt like giving up because there seemed to be no options left.

When Jan came off the plane in Regina she was in a wheelchair. Bev was shocked at the sight of her, her legs so thin the skin seemed to hang from the bone. “She looked like hell,” Bev said. “I just about cried.”

They drove out here and Jan spent several hours being treated with a laser at the home of the healer, who told her the cancer was caused by formaldehyde that had leaked into her body from various dental work. The impact of the laser was felt immediately; Jan's nose ran, and so on. By the end of the session she was told the cancer was gone. She’s gone home to Montana now, feeling good, to rest and try to put some weight back on.

“I wish I could’ve seen her sister’s face when Jan walked off the plane in Montana by herself!” Bev said.

After a few hours of lasering, Jan automatically lifted up her foot and crossed it over the other knee, something she hadn't been able to do for months.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Through the Generations

When Aunt Reta came up from Phoenix this summer, she brought a necklace made of crystals from Czechoslovakia.

"You're still in touch with the oldest McLelland girl," she said, "and I'd like her to have it."

The oldest McLelland girl is Kim. I still remember one of our earliest meetings. We would have been about five years old and we were out in their farmyard, by something like a well, and I was trying to get Kim to do something and she was having none of my bossiness.

As teenagers, however, she liked my mischievous ideas and was always ready to act upon them. We had a lot of fun together. I spent many nights at her home, and she at mine. When my mother was sick and then died, Kim is the friend who called me, who wept as we talked, and who travelled many hours to attend the funeral of a woman she hadn't seen in years.

Our grandmothers had been neighbours on the farm north of Margo, our home town, and Reta reminded me of this.

"Mom and Mrs. Dreveny were good friends," she told me, "and when Mrs. Dreveny made a trip to the old country, she brought this necklace back and gave it to Mom. Crystal from Czechoslovakia is some of the best in the world, you know."

Kim phoned me the night she received the package in the mail and we had a lovely long conversation. Our grandmothers were friends, as were our own parents and now we too, still, after some 50 years. We don't see each other often, but it doesn't matter; the friendship remains.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Purse Talk

Almost any time I don't carry a purse, there will be an item I wish I had with me. It'll be something I couldn't (or forgot to) stuff into a jacket or jeans pocket, like a pen and paper or a tube of lip balm or a pill for migraine or a dental floss stick.

But good purses aren't easy to come by. The best one I own has numerous zippered compartments so that finding small items is conveniently quick. Unfortunately, even empty this purse is weighty because it's leather. It's unwise to hang it on a shoulder in order to free my hands, because it pulls on the muscles and voila, migraine.

Last time I popped in at Emil's place of employment, I moseyed through their secondhand store on my way out and found this dandy little canvas purse with lots of pockets and, being canvas, it's lightweight! as well as having straps that fit my shoulder comfortably when need be but are short enough that they're not flopping around in my way the rest of the time.

New canvas  purse, now in service.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Not an Artist

"Someone has too much time on their hands," was a comment made upon seeing my collection of saved images on the wall in the hallway.

For about three decades I kept greeting cards, magazine photos, illustrations and other types of pictures tucked into a briefcase or into my journals, unwilling to throw them away, not knowing what else to do with them. When I moved to Scott's house in 2002, there was a long, dark passageway that needed brightening up; a perfect spot to display them for my own pleasure. I bought a dozen large bristol board pieces, tacked them to the wall, glued on the images willynilly (no "artistic" placement, just fitting them together), and gave the final product a layer of decoupage or something (to make the surface wipeable). I added bits of poetry that spoke to me, bits of stories ... whatever appealed.

A couple years after buying Golden Grain Farm, I brought the whole thing over and pinned it to the long, dark wall in the hallway here.

There's nothing sophisticated about it.  There's no structure, no plan, no organization of colours or subjects. Moisture in the house makes the paper bulge out in places. Drywall is not meant to hold things with tacks and they are always popping out and onto the floor; I've replaced them with pushpins so no one gets a sharp poke in the foot.

I still love to stand here, brushing my teeth, remembering, seeing all these images yet again:

All images will enlarge if you click on them.

I'm pretty sure there are a lot of visitors who see this hodge-podge and think "I'd never do that in my house!" It's kind of — hm, how shall I say — tacky?

But then there are those who exclaim, "Wow!" and "Cool!" and love to look at it just as much as I do.

What kind of eyes do you have? Eyes that judge, or eyes that appreciate?

Reply to Comment

Lorna on "Water Report": 
I don't know which part of this I liked the best....maybe Anonymous's comment.

We're chuckling at Scott's expense, but he's absolutely right to want to keep that cheapo coffeepot in working order. It would be irresponsible to add a plastic coffee pot to the landfill any more often than necessary, right? Right!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Heavenly Moments

Emil is here this weekend and we have been sleeping beauties both mornings, in spite of our best intentions: to get up earlier so we have time to go somewhere in the afternoon without leaving it too late. But here it is, almost 12:30, and he's just having his morning bath and has yet to dress and eat. I'm no further ahead, still lounging around in my housecoat, reading, popping green grapes into my mouth like appetizers; I, too, need a proper breakfast/brunch/lunch/whatever. Scott's been gone nearly an hour, meaning to move cattle from one place to another, I believe he said, before taking the rest of the day off.

It's brrrrrrrcold. Already I wear a tuque to go out in the yard, and leggings under my jeans. All my flower garden chores aren't done.

Even with the weather disappointing, there are many walks overflowing with simple beauty.

The snow is slowly going, but we've begun to wonder if this is it for fall—if winter has arrived.
I walk down the road, thanking my lucky stars that I'm here.

Reply to Comment

Anonymous on "Water Report": 
He's a tight arsed bastard isn't he. Alex. 

Ha! Frugal, Alex -- FRUgal! "Waste not, want not."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Water Report

No more hauling water jugs for me!
Straight from our own faucet and into my belly or the cooking pot, from now on.
Scott says that a water-testing woman told him the minerals in our water might cause upset stomach, as it contains a lot of iron, magnesium, and (I believe) sulphur. But I've been drinking it, in moderation to be on the safe side, for several days without any problem.  

He still thinks we should continue using RO water to keep our $20 coffee pot from plugging up with minerals. He's welcome to maintain that cheap coffee-maker for another 10 years, but I won't be the one carrying any 10-litre jugs. Done with that, woo hoo!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

"So it turned out all right then?" I asked the man on the couch, who held a bowl filled with chocolate cake in his hand and was shovelling it into his mouth like he hadn't eaten all day. "It's the first time I've used this recipe."

"It's a bit undercooked, maybe," he said.

I'd just taken it out of the oven, so quickly put it back in and baked it for another 15 minutes. It's still fudgy though, and I wonder what to do differently if I use this recipe again. I'd like to; it's tasty and doesn't require butter or sour cream. Reduce the amount of oil?

What do you think?

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake
(from the Lutheran Ladies cookbook Grandma gave me in 1983)

2 c white sugar, 2 eggs, 2/3 oil, 2 tsp soda
Beat the above for four min.

In separate bowl, combine:
2and2/3c flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 2/3c cocoa, 1 tsp baking soda

Add dry ingredients alternately with 2 cups boiling water. This may be mixed with electric mixer. 

Turn batter into well-greased 8x11 pan. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes. 
As soon as cake tests done, remove from oven. Stays fresh for many days.

*Recipe submitted by Barbara Johnson

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ole's Coffee Table

"A job isn't going to just fall into your lap, you know!"

I was taking classes one winter at the University of Saskatchewan, and Norma, a fellow student, was insisting I get out and apply for summer jobs. I never did get around to it before the phone rang one day and it was Norma, saying she'd been for a job interview with the manager of a hotel/bar/restaurant up in La Ronge and he'd asked if she had any friends looking for work.

A job fell right into my lap.
You know.

I waited tables there, in the coffee shop, in the dining room, and in the lounge. One of the cooks was a thin, bespectabled gent named Ole. He had carved this coffee table, which I purchased and have had with me ever since.

It's getting a bit dinged up and the cracks between the planks have to be cleaned out with a paring knife once in a while.
Quite often people don't at first see that there is the face of a person lying beneath a tree.
One at each end.
I wonder where Norma is now. She was from Hanley, a tiny village north of Saskatoon.
I do an internet search for Ole sometimes because I remember his last name, Kesler, and if I ever find him I'll send these photos. Maybe he'd be tickled to learn that his art has graced my living room, with only short durations in storage, for more than 30 years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The WHAT-IFs and WHENs

Don't you hate those times, usually late on a sleepless night, when you think about the loss of youth and health and life that is to come, not only to you but to those you love? And then all those things that could happen, that might happen, that do happen, that have happened to others?

How about all those unfortunate things that almost happened to you or to someone you love? Oh yeah, those sneak in there too to ramp up your feelings of insecurity and anxiety; old memories can still turn your stomach when you're lying there unable to nod off.

Then there are all those horrors that are happening right now in other places in the world; murder and war are not only in the distant past. People are suffering right now, while you lie there cosy and safe in your bed and your family members are well and even your dog is living a better life than many children in this world.

As soon as there was snowfall, the boys put out hay for the cattle to eat and straw for them to bed down upon.

Here in the here and now, right here, all is well. This is what I tell myself so that I can settle down. Think about something else. Change my focus. Censor and direct my thoughts with awareness and intention. Consider all that is right in my world; how lucky and grateful I am to be here and to have this life till now. Worry is useless, wasted energy.

All snug on their bed of straw.
Reply to Comments

Oh I love books like that- I read one just lately....maybe we can swap when you come in a couple weeks!! No snow yet here and I'm hoping it stays that way right until Christmas Eve:) 

Joan: With the excessive rain and early snow we've had this past week and no warm, sunny, drying weather in sight, Scott may have to be in the field on the dates my flights are booked from Calgary to Kelowna and back. I chose specific dates, once he committed to them, so that I could keep him company on his way to Calgary and back; it's such a long frigging drive. But the weather may well put the kibosh on it all. 
I've checked out connecting flights from and to Saskatoon, as that's an option, but the few available on my dates would leave me vulnerable to missing the Calgary to Kelowna flight, or the Calgary to Saskatoon flight; or I'd have to be at the airport by 4:30 in the morning and I don't want to do that either. It makes for too long a day. Been there, done that! (Approaching 60 I'm finally figuring out I should treat my body with more consideration, and my mind too.) 
Not sure yet what to do if the timing's against me; if I can't get away before winter conditions set in at the airports, I might wait and fly out in the spring instead.
The Little Stranger is borrowed from a book-collecting friend, so I have to return it.

Hey girl, I love Sarah Waters' writing. Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and some others are really excellent. She is such an accomplished writer, it is a joy to read her work. I didn't get to this one yet. 

Waters is a wonderful writer, no kidding! I can't wait to read something else from her.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Little Stranger

Every book I read doesn't catch and keep me from start to finish, but this one did.

Told in a first-person narrative — my favourite not only because of its immediacy but because I know the narrator lives to tell the tale (so I can relax) — it is the story of a country doctor who becomes involved in the lives of a land-owning family in postwar England, and the mansion that is falling down around them in spite of their struggles to maintain it. There is a ghost, a nasty one ... or is there? You'll be wondering, as I was, right till the end.

When I read the last sentence late last night, turned off the lamp in the living room, and made my way in the shadowy glare of the yardlight shining through the front window and then down the hallway to our bed, it was with a little shiver and a gladness that I wasn't alone in the house.  Had I been, I wouldn't have dared read this book.

It's the kind that is so beautifully, masterfully written that it stays with you even after you've turned the last page. You lie in bed and think about it, or I did anyway. I bet it's one I'll never forget.

Here's a review in The Telegraph should you be interested in plot and themes.
Me, I'll be on the lookout for other books by this writer.

Reply to Comment

Lorna: I make six loaves, slice off a hot crust as soon as it's out of the oven and slather it with butter, and freeze the remaining five. Here's the recipe for the kind I make regularly: SUNFLOWER BREAD.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Like Winter

Through the north windows of the house, the day looked cold and unwelcoming. I almost didn't go for a walk. When finally I did, late in the afternoon, the air was still, there was water laying everywhere, it was beautiful out there, and I thought, "I almost missed this!"

Remember not to judge the day by appearances, I said to myself; get out here and find out for sure, no matter how things look. (Kind of like not judging people by their relatives ... or their friends ... or their shabby clothing ... or their houses without siding, like ours.)

It seemed as if, the moment I was back indoors, the wind picked up and started to beat against the house and blow the last of the leaves from the three oak trees edging the front lawn.

On Saturday I waited in the truck while Scott went into the post office, then held the door for an elderly gentleman and stood chatting for a few minutes. 
Today is another cool one, or so it appears, so I'm going to make a batch of bread. On Saturday while Scott attended a funeral I spent several hours with Everett, who is my regular customer. He can make it himself but prefers to buy it if I'll make it, so I try to keep both our households provided.

"How many loaves have you got left?" I asked, and he checked his deep freeze.

"Two," he said, "but I like to have some in reserve. I could use another batch."

And then we watched Sausage Party, which I'd expected to be a family film that could be viewed with Emil. NO. It wouldn't be good to hear Emil repeating some of that language; not that he would be likely to, but why put it into his head in the first place?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Keeping Bugs at Bay

There is still a lot of snow and an icy wind so I've been indoors, reading more than usual. If you've glanced at the image of a book under "letter bomb," you'll have noticed that it's different every day or so.

For your benefit I link to a review or description of the book, but I don't read those myself; I don't want to be influenced. I also don't peruse the books' dust jackets anymore, as they lead to expectations that either ruin the suspense or are promotional drivel that leaves me disappointed when I've read the book. Instead I rely upon the first chapter to take me into the story, and recent experience has convinced me to stick with all books for the first 100 pages, if I can — if they're not total drivel. Sometimes a book with no hook in the beginning is well worth that extra dedication, and had I not continued I'd've missed something very good, as was the case with a fiction this winter that included Frida Kahlo as a character.

Brought to mind (though only distantly related) is the method of a book reviewer at one of the first newspapers where I worked. She'd started out by interviewing the author before writing her article, but doing so disposed her to review the book more kindly than impartially, so she abandoned the interviews.

Basil, left, and citronella.

Both basil and citronella are said to deter insects from one's entryway, so these were kept on our doorstep this summer. Did they make any difference? It's hard to tell; one doesn't know how many bugs would be there without the plants, n'est-ce pas? But when it got cold I brought these two pots into the porch to keep through the coming winter. Then, because all bedrooms should have one plant to purify the air as you sleep, I set the basil on the night table next to my side of the bed.

Scott had a nasty cold and I was spending my nights on the couch in hopes of avoiding it. The first time I slept in our bed again, the scent of the basil was so strong that it irritated me — and surprised me, as previously I'd only noticed it when rubbing the leaves or pinching off the flower buds. The following morning I moved it back to the porch and it occurred to me that the odour of both plants might not be strong enough, outside, to repel insects because there is always a breeze in our yard. But if the plants were kept in the porch ... and the door to the kitchen kept closed ... then maybe when the outside door opened, flies and mosquitoes would get a whiff of the combined scents concentrated, and not enter. And this seems to have been the case.

I don't recall whether it's the same in towns and cities but on the farm, once fall arrives, more flies than usual hang around the door and come in when it's opened, and one kills quite a few of them in the kitchen every day with the flyswatter. This year, with those insect-repelling plants in the porch, the flyswatter has barely been used at all.

Friday, October 7, 2016

White, White Everywhere

My son Everett has no sense of smell. His nose is decidedly off the job and has been for as long as I can remember. So I wondered: if he can't smell anything, would aromatherapy have any effect on him?

Apparently, it would.

A short internet search turned up some evidence that we have olfactory nerves in more places than our noses. CHECK THIS OUT.

Then THIS ARTICLE claims that peppermint oil may help those suffering from anosmia (loss of smell) and migraines. Guess I should be sniffing from my bottle of the stuff more often, see if it makes any difference.

A bouquet of flowers given to the family after Ivan's passing, one month ago today, still brightens our kitchen table. 

The snow has still not begun to melt but the sun is peeking out ... .

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Walkin' on SlushShine, Oh Yeah!

On went my big-girl pants and out the door went I. The temperature wasn't so bad, hovering around the freezing point; it was the wind that was nasty. I was ready for it though, and warm enough to take a walk.

There's a lot of whining and crying going on around the countryside, but it's actually quite nice out if you're dressed for it.

Last night I watched a fascinating television program on the Knowledge network, called The Wartime Farm. During the Second World War, farmers in England were asked to double their production in order to feed the country. Knowing what I know — which is that farmers already aim for the highest possible production — this alone seems like an unachievable demand.

Farmers were also asked to train to be guerrilla/resistance fighters, and many did, in case the Nazis invaded British shores. That's something I'd never thought about, but it makes sense to be prepared to sabotage the enemy if they were able to move inland. When Churchill said the British would fight to the end and never, ever surrender, the English took him seriously — and good for them!

Very interesting show; I'll have to make sure Scott knows about it.
Check it out for yourself HERE.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

First Snow of Fall

Yesterday and last night, storm winds and rain beat against the walls of the house. This morning I got out of bed, looked out the window, and groaned:

And yet here, inside, I am warm and cosy, with nowhere I have to be; in the lap of luxury.

The groan was more about the perennials I haven't finished digging and/or pruning, and about the field of flax Scott still has to take off, although the snow won't stay long and there will surely be an opportunity to get the harvest in. We did get about two inches of precipitation though, before the snow, and that doesn't help.

I've booked a flight to Kelowna for the end of the month (thanks for the air miles, Pop! I didn't want to spend money on travel when I'm not working, although that is the best time to take a trip, isn't it — when you don't have to hurry to get there and back in a finite number of days) and Joan just texted that she is already making up the guest room for me. It's too bad our sister Karen won't be there at the same time, as it is such a pleasure for the three of us to be together, but her plans and mine haven't meshed this fall. She and her hubby are going at Christmas, while I avoid air travel in winter (long delays sat in planes on tarmacs while they de-ice the wings is not for me); but I've offered to house-sit with her three small dogs while they're away. Christmas, to me, has become a day like any other and I'm not sentimental about it, though I have fond memories of family Christmases in the distant past. I'll think of my week at Karen's as my Margo Retreat, when I'll have many opportunities to go and see relatives and old friends during the time I'm alone there.

Even though Margo is only 20 minutes down the road, I go there infrequently. One afternoon this week I went to Karen's to get some cheesecloth (to strain the motherwort tincture I made), and hoped the two of us might go into the village and to Mom's grave in the cemetery on its periphery. Karen had already been to town that day so instead we had a cup of coffee and a good long chat at her place, looking through the glass of her picture window at the lake upon which floated dozens of gulls and Canada geese. When I left, I hesitated a long time at the corner where I finally turned toward home, rather than toward Margo, which was tugging hard at my heartstrings. Home is home, I guess, and always will be. But I made the "sensible" choice and came home to GGFarm before dark descended and moose and deer would be more of a danger on the roads.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

An Indoor Day

"I'm going tomorrow, rain or shine," I promised myself yesterday, turning back from the road because already the legs of my jeans were getting damp. I'd bundle up even better and wear my long raincoat.

But no. Yesterday was a lovely light rain in comparison to the windy deluge today. It's miserable out there.
So far. I'm still hoping the wind at least will die down a bit and I can get some exercise without being blown off the road.

It's been a perfect day for baking bread and making puffed wheat cake to satisfy our sweet tooths. Scott's been home, lazing about, so it feels like a weekend. Last night he practically begged me to come up with some kind of treat, but I wasn't up to starting anything in the kitchen at that hour so he had to satisfy himself with yogurt and bananas. Better for a person anyway.

Between measuring, mixing, shaping dough into loaves, and washing dishes, I've spent the day reading a murder mystery. Yep, it's the life o' Reilly, and don't I know it.

Part of Scott's tomato crop

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WiseWebWoman, I don't know what the animal was. Part of me thinks Scott was pulling my leg about seeing it. There was a bear in the farmyard a quarter-mile from us in the spring of 2015, but I've never seen a bear around here myself. It makes the news when someone does. I should be more afraid, but until I have a scare, I'm too stupid to be afraid. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

One of These Days . . .

We can be slow to get around to doing things around here.

We bought the house in 2009 and the well water reeked and wasn't potable. We had a new well dug several years later and it too stunk of sulphur and iron; some mornings before getting out of bed, I'd think Scott was cooking eggs (rotten ones), when he was only lying in the bathtub. We meant to get the water tested for drinking, but continued to haul jugs from town.

Then he started researching water treatment systems. We had a salesman out. Scott looked around online. We talked to other people with water issues. A purchasing decision never got made. We still haven't been cooking with or drinking the water that comes from our kitchen tap. The bathtub, sink and toilet were so iron-encrusted and the water smelled so offensive that guests, though they never said so, avoided bathing. I never had to use any product in my hair to get volume or hold; whatever was in our water did the trick. Light-coloured clothing, bedding or towels couldn't be washed here, as unsightly iron stains would ensue. A dishwasher would only have been clogged up, had we bought one, and my glass dishes would have been ruined.

Then this summer Scott treated the well with hydrogen peroxide or something, and like overnight magic we now have clear, lively water with no smell. Today, finally, I took a sample and mailed it to Regina for testing. What a treat it would be just to drink water from the tap! We haven't been able to do that for 14 years, as the house we lived in previously on the farm also didn't have potable water. Our fingers are crossed that the results come back with the news we're hoping for.

I also finally got around to burning some paperwork that never made it to a shredding machine. It's a perfect day for a fire, damp and rainy.

Several journals from the 1970s are in this pile. Goodbye to the past; I'll keep it in memory. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oat Field Finished

I was the field jockey last night, kind of.

I'd gone to town to drive Emil over to Everett's, and went to the store too. Once back home, I lugged the first few grocery bags into the house. Something (time of year: harvest) told me to check the phone messages before making my second haul. Sure enough, I'd had a call. It was Scott's brother Bruce needing rides to and from the field up north, twice, to bring the combines home.

By the time that was done it was dark and the sky was starlit. Bruce left the field in one vehicle while Scott and I got out of ours (his truck, my car) and stood in the blackness for a few minutes. Black, that is, except for the glow of headlights in the distance from every direction around us in a circle. All the neighbours' combines were out in full force and we could hear their engines too. It's rather exciting when everyone is out there, racing the clock.

"It's different than it used to be," he said. "It's louder now. Everyone has bigger machinery and there are fewer trees."

Still, any time I get to hold hands under the incredible stars with my sweetie is more than fine by me.

I walked around in the field for a while one afternoon, available to drive someone somewhere. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Invisible Efforts

When Scott arrived home last night after dark, his face was black with dust and he got into the tub immediately — after reaching into the fridge and cracking open a beer, that is. Oats are itchy! I can see, Ralph, why you say harvesting them was an ordeal.

I was watching the news on TV; Peter Mansbridge was being surprisingly patient and respectful with Newt Gingrich as he interviewed the man, a Trump supporter, and later Bill Maher made me shriek in delight with his skilful excoriation of the circus that is the runup to the U.S. election.

Once he was scrubbed fresh like an oversized pink baby, Scott didn't manage to sit up with me for long.

"It's Friday night!" I exclaimed, with a brief burst of the excitement — the freedom to stay up late — that still accompanies the beginning of a weekend. "I forgot!"

"That's what it's like when you're a lady of leisure," he said drolly, "with nothing to do, day after day."

It surely must look that way, especially in comparison to the efforts of a person who lives a life of constant labour that would probably put me in a wheelchair. He was only teasing, for when he looked around he might notice the house is tidy, the dishes and laundry are done, and someone (a kitchen elf?) must have stood at the cupboard for more than a millisecond preparing the grilled potatoes, onions and carrots he was consuming alongside his pork roast. Just a few of the little perks of having a spouse at home with "nothing to do" all day.

Then again, these things happen all by themselves or are done instantly with but a snap of the fingers, and are of little importance in the grand scheme of life. Right? There certainly doesn't seem to be a realistic notion in our society of the actual time it takes, daily, to make and keep our private nests pleasant to relax in at the end of a long, hard day. Me, I think it matters. Many don't appear to value such comforts, while me, I figure if we don't have that, what are we working for?

The last leg of the route to 15, a quarter-section about 10 minutes from GGFarm, is a dirt road against these trees.