Day Late & Dollar Short

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Cold? Who says? Nope, not at all. I went out there yesterday and it was so windlessly blue-skied and gorgeous that I strolled out to the end of the driveway and — to hell with the ice — walked a mile for the first time in what felt like forever. It did me a world of good, convincing me that even though I’m still coughing, I’m less of an invalid than I was a week ago.

Then I got out all the ingredients for that muffin recipe I wrote about yesterday, thinking I could substitute sour cream for buttermilk, which we didn’t have. In the end I decided to try a different recipe, one that didn’t call for buttermilk. They’re in the oven right this minute and if they turn out to be fabulous, I’ll stick the recipe over at the Stubblejumpers Cafe Recipe Collection.

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They turned out to be delish. Recipe HERE: Sour Cream Muffins.

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Yesterday afternoon I was happy to receive new files to work on, and you know what that means! It means my nose will be glued to the laptop until they are completed and returned, and that I may not be answering my phone during the day, or looking at my "textin' machine." If anything's pressing, leave a message on the answering machine and I'll get back to you.

But, as always, I'll report in here tomorrow.

Signed,
She’s A Keener

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Proper Weather for January

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Moose tracks?

Seriously cold again. Between the back step and the parking lot, if you’re not wearing a scarf pulled up to your eyes or don’t have a hood you can pull across your face, knives of wind feel like they’re slicing your skin. Ouch. Yesterday the heater fan in Little Green decided to work, so I took Emil back to town for his workweek. But I drove the car up to the step rather than let him walk across the yard with his elbow-crutches: too slow, no free hands to protect his face.

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All you Annie May (Jones) Bartley descendants like me will be interested to know that one of our distant cousins has gotten in touch. [See Comments on To My Newfound Niece]. Jane is the descendant of Joseph and Joan (Hoddinott) Jones’s eighth child, Eli. [Our branch springs from their fifth child, Joseph. They had 10.]

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In the Kate’s 5 Things newsletter, something I’ve been writing about is my perception that criticism and disapproval are not just observations and protests, but actually — on a deeper level — they are symptoms of resisting reality and wanting to control or change it or another person. Today it occurs to me that anger and resentment may be signs of the same state of mind.

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Time to go feed the kittenfish. From here I can see them in the windows of the barn, watching for me.

Then I've gotta haul a 20-lb bag of sunflower seeds out to the birds' empty feed container. It's not that the sack's so heavy, but it's bulky. I always feel lucky if I don't fall on my ass or pull a muscle somewhere when I carry one of them.

And after that, assuming I make it safely back into the house and don't slip on some ice, knock myself out and freeze to death, muffins are in the plan.

See you tomorrow!

Always optimistic,
Ms Poohba

Out of the Closet

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I was to pick up Emil on Friday evening and bring him out here for the weekend, so it was time to change the sheets on the beds and move back into our room. Scott and I are both past being contagious and oh how much more comfortable is our own bed!

But the hall closet I pulled the sheets from — I don’t know what the hell it is, but you smell it when your face is touching certain fabric items stored there. I breathed it for several hours before falling asleep. We’ve never been able to put our finger on the source, but at this point it doesn’t matter; I intend to pull everything out of there and find another place to keep our linens. The closet is about to be the repository of other things.

When we bought this house, we had to put in a new furnace as the existing one was costing a ridiculous amount in fuel. So a new one was installed — oil, unfortunately, because it was winter (not digging season) and the natural gas lines don’t come out this far. But something was wrong with it — there was a diesel smell that burned your eyeballs when you came in the door. We got that fixed, but I’m wondering if something could’ve seeped into the wood shelving or the drywall in the closet. Scott says not; it doesn’t smell like that, to him. It smells like food, to him. To me, it smells like oil and plastic.

We are short of closet space as it is, but I’ve had enough. The “clean” sheets came off the bed the next morning and were washed in hot water. Emil never got here Friday night because, though my car started, the heater fan appears to be frozen up.

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Why do the words “sprechen zee deutsch” come into my mind so that I say them aloud while rinsing my coffee cup? I don’t know what it means or recall hearing it lately.

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“Little is taught by contest or dispute, everything by sympathy and love.”
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Out comes the Oxford.
Sprechgesang: a style of dramatic vocalization between speech and song [German, lit. ‘Speech song]
Sprechstimme: German, lit. ‘speech voice’
No “Sprechen ze deutch!” here.

Our Mel of the Pretty Voice

Here’s the latest music video from Melanie Hankewich (calling herself Belle Plaine, professionally), who grew up in the Fosston area just north of Wadena.

There actually is a little village in southern Saskatchewan named Belle Plaine, which apparently Melanie was driving past one day while trying to come up with a stage name.

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Birdie: “Saying your writing is unimportant drivel is saying your life is unimportant drivel, which it’s not. Not at all.”

It reminds me of the common attitude that what is personal is unimportant compared to what is public and collective; the old idea, still very much in existence, that what generally is top priority to women doesn’t compare in gravity to what men tend to focus upon. You see it reflected everywhere, still, even though there are many excellent blogs written by men who appear to realize that if your personal life sucks, what you accomplish professionally won’t seem all that important. This is a big subject, particularly if you believe, as I do, that the personal IS political. The effort of the person who does the dishes is just as essential and valuable as that of the person who fixes the sewer pump. It’s like the difference between the doctor of everyday preventive medicine and the emergency room physician; the labour of each is required, but the actions of one are more dramatic and more admired. I appreciate the person who has the skills to fix that goddamn sewer pump, and equally do I acknowledge that someone wipes the kitchen counters every day, which in the long run is just as important to the health and convenience of the family that lives in this house. Maybe my blog is the kitchen-counter variety!

“How about you do a post for your new readers about the name of your blog.”

This is probably a good time to point out that the orange bar on the left side of the page, if you click on it, opens up to give readers come background information. Why Stubblejumpers Cafe? explains where the name of the blog came from.

It doesn’t answer the question, What is a stubblejumper? It’s a Canadian slang term meaning “prairie farmer.” I come from many generations of farmer families on both sides, way way back to Sweden, Norway and England; probably my Irish ancestors were farmers too, or were part of farming families.

“And instead of the things that you feel you need to work on, how about the things you do really well?”

I have to think about that. What do I do really well? Nothing springs instantly to mind. I’m a pretty average person, living an average but very fortunate life. A couple nights ago I was reminded that if I’m lucky enough to live to 90, my life is almost two-thirds over. It was a sobering thought. What do I want to be different in my future? Anything? Questions I take seriously … today. Tomorrow? I’ll just be busy living, not thinking much about the whys and what-fors.

 

 

To Read or Not

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Birdie: I was glad to see your comment about the breathlessness, because the other night I tweeted about mine while watching the Golden Globes and a friend responded that it sounded like a coronary issue. Scared the bejesus out of me!

For all the years I’ve been blogging, I don’t think there are really a lot of readers here. Not if you believe the IT guys who tell you that 75% of those showing up in your stats are actually bots, or if you judge by the number of comments following an entry. I do have my faithful regulars, old friends by now — most of you — which does suggest there is actually someone interested in what I write, plainjane as it is when life isn’t a rollercoaster or a drama (and when it is, I censor myself). What baffles me more is who doesn’t check in from time to time … I’d expect my close friends to, and family members … but that’s not always the case.

They have their reasons, of course: some are on the computer all day at work and avoid it during their leisure time; some are in close touch with me and already know what’s happening around here; some are people who don’t read anything but Facebook, to start with; there are only so many hours in a day; all perfectly sensible, except only reading Facebook (a poor choice of material if ever there was one; even the back of a cereal box is more enlightening and valuable than FB. It’s an excellent connection/communication tool at times and that’s why I don’t delete my account, but in my experience it’s worth keeping about 5% of the time).

I’ve been a letter-writer and journal-keeper for so long that not writing isn’t an option for me. It’s an urge that has to be satisfied, even when there’s nothing to say. There are lots of days like that. I sit here and start anyway, and hope something comes. Usually early in each year I ask: Is there anything you’d like to see more of, here? Anything you’d like me to write about more often? Any questions you have? Anything that would make this blog more compelling to visit? Help me out here, wouldja? Because sometimes I’m alittle embarrassed about the content of this blog, it being so unworldly and all. Shouldn’t I be writing essays, articles, columns, novels? Telling stories, inspiring people, instead of just writing an endless letter, wasting my time and yours with unimportant drivel? These are a few of the thoughts that wing past, some days. Maybe they come from low self-esteem, or from not accepting myself as I am, although if you know me in person you might agree that these don’t seem to be my challenges in this life, unless I hide them well.

What are my challenges?
* lack of stick-to-it-iveness in my personal life; I don’t keep up healthy or desirable routines that I think I want or need but apparently don’t very badly
* lack of ambition; I have few material needs and am content with things as they are. Paint the bathroom? Yeah maybe someday but I’ll forget all about it by tomorrow, if not sooner.

Well, enough about me. What about you? I’m already tired of myself today.

So Much for Five Servings of Fruit & Veggies

imageA couple ounces of orange juice, half-a-dozen frozen strawberries, a stick of celery, an apple, a banana, and a handful of fresh spinach: these are all in my smoothie most days, but they are not proof against the plague flu.

Just sayin’. I’d never get all that down my neck every day if they weren’t in a smoothie, and I know they’re good for me, but dammit there’s no guarantee. Even washing one’s hands 20 times a day with soap and warm water is no guarantee. What is? I say. What is!

Also, the chinook didn’t last long. When I went out to start the car yesterday, the ice on the windshield was so thick that if I’d seriously tackled it, I would’ve given myself a hernia. There must’ve been rain the night before.

The motor ran a good 10 or 15 minutes during which I scraped a couple times, enough eventually to make a hole in front of the steering wheel so I could see well enough to drive. Even then there was still ice on the glass when I got to town. It’s brrr-cold out there again. Poor animules. The cats aren’t leaving the barn anymore.

My first stop in town was at the credit union to pay a bill and get some cash. After a few minutes at the tellers’ counter I was feeling faint. It could’ve been from sitting on my duff for two weeks without doing much, or it could’ve been because I was dressed for freezing cold and not the indoors. I got overheated. It happens; it’s difficult to avoid when going in and out in our winter weather, and you don’t strip down each time you step into a business.

After that I considered cutting my errand-running short. I had at least five more places to go, but only if I got my wind back. And I did. It really was just the overheating, I think. Plus I’m still coughing when I move around, so something is working its way out. All in good time … .

As I stood at the tellers’ counter, someone grabbed my arm from behind. It was my aunt Rose, in town with my uncle, doing their shopping and running about. We had a quick gab session but as I wasn’t feeling right, I waved at Neil as he waited in their vehicle, but didn’t stop to chat. We’ve run into each other quite a few times in Wadena lately. I hope that continues and one of these times we’ll mosey over to a restaurant for coffee or something. Maybe if Emil comes out here this weekend, we’ll drive to Margo and out to Neil and Rose’s. If it’s not dangerously cold.

Wearing a Red Dress to a Black Party

I can now do dishes without running out of breath. Yay! She’ll live!

On Sunday I went outside — in 30-below, slowly recovering from flu, I knew the cats and birds were hungry and I needed fresh air and sunlight even if it wasn’t much — and was surprised to see melted snow (otherwise known as water) on the step. Woo Hoo! The deep freeze had come unplugged. I walked to the end of the driveway after doing my “chores.” Once out there, the wind reminded me of its nasty presence, warning me not to go beyond the trees around the yard or I’d be sorry.

On Monday morning I sat at the kitchen table, reading email and news articles and occasionally looking out the window. The five adult cats were out of the barn; four of them were trying to get into the Quonset, which apparently houses hordes of mice, and failing entry they headed down the driveway toward what I presume is another happy hunting ground — maybe the woodshed, or maybe just the bush. They were quite the little herd, anyway, and were clearly feeling frisky in the warmer weather.

A few minutes later Kizzy was spotted outside a granary. He’s the big black loverboy who was brought here in late, cold fall; it was either become a barn dweller or be put down immediately by a veterinarian, as he’d begun “playing too rough” and didn’t “seem happy.” He’d arrived at this former home as a stray and managed to outstay his welcome.

Kizzy is always the first to greet me at the barn door, and this is the first time he has been seen exploring the yard. I hope he’s lost enough weight — he’s very solid — to be able to leap back up to the glassless window the cats use as a door in and out of the barn.

Now that it’s warmed up out there, my car will start. Maybe it would do me good to go somewhere, though I have no real desire to. Still, sometime this week a trip to town is required. Stops at the credit union, the recycling depot, the grocery store, the library … all my usual places … maybe today?

You’d think after two weeks at home and not seeing anyone other than one person for the last 11 days, I’d have cabin fever by now. But no. It does leave me without much to write about, however, as one day kind of runs into the next without much change. But then that’s my life, isn’t it … not terribly much excitement, and lots of appreciation for the little everyday beauties like the redpoll I was smiling at yesterday when I looked out the window. The little sweetie was on the ground pecking at sunflower seeds, its back end toward me, its feathers puffed up to turn it into a perfectly round ball of fluff.

A chickadee has been singing the first four notes of its spring song in the oak trees that hold my feeders. That should tell you something about this untimely chinook we are experiencing. A week ago it was 35-below, out there.

Did anyone notice during the Golden Globes awards show (which I watched for its brief introduction to movies and TV shows I’ve never heard of) that in the midst of all the women wearing black to show their solidarity with and support of victims of sexual harassment, and their commitment to change, that the president of the Foreign Press Association got onstage wearing a bright red dress? I had to wonder why that was. She had an Indian accent. Could it be that there is something in her cultural background that forbids the wearing of black? I guess I’ll have to google it.

Kait: Your Dad

pillbox hat A pillbox hat

 I was six years old when my brother Cameron was born one fall day in Quill Lake, Saskatchewan, where Dad was a highschool teacher and Mom was a homemaker. When they brought the baby home from the hospital, I said I’d rather have a puppy.

Mom always said he was “my boy,” just the one among three sisters. He held a special place in her heart.

One day when he was two or three years old and she was working in the kitchen of the teacherage where we lived in Margo, he was sitting on the table, watching. He was scowly, which was unusual for him, and she asked what was wrong.

“I just feel mean,” he said. Mom thought it was the cutest thing. Apparently a little nap solved that problem.

When he got a little older he found a pillbox hat in Grandma’s closet. He wore it constantly for some time, going all over the village with it jauntily on his noggin.

“All he ever wanted to do was drive,” Dad has said. “It’s no wonder he became a trucker.” Trucking is the only job he’s ever had, as far as I know, though he helped Dad on the farm.

Cameron has a nickname. I called him Cameroni Bumboni, and shortened it to Uncle Bum for my kids, who still call him that. He didn’t like it much because it could give people the wrong idea about him, he said, but paid me back by giving me one: Auntie Christ.

I found the pic of him as Mr Incredible on one of my older blogs, HERE.

Hello Goodbye

One of my sister Joan’s glorious paintings that lifts my spirit every time I see it.

If I want to shed a few tears — like, say my eyeballs need a rinse — what other reason would I possibly want to cry? — all I have to do is watch the TV show Hello Goodbye. It gets me Every Time. If I don’t want my mascara to run (and I threw out my mascara about 15 years ago so what am I talking about?), I flip past the show when looking through the guide.

Have you seen it? The host strolls through an international airport in Ontario and talks to folks who are waiting for someone to arrive or preparing to depart. He asks them questions that facilitate the sharing of their stories about their relationships with these people. I love hearing them.

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Any time I get sick — thank heaven, rarely, except for the monthly week of migraines — I ask myself, What Caused This? The answer, which I come up with myself, is always that's it's something I ate or drank, or didn't. It's always my nutrition or lack of it. Something's missing from my diet, or I've had too much of something.

For example, I'll blame the wine; I must be slightly allergic to alcohol and therefore two or three glasses last night (upon occasion when we have company and I forget myself) have done this to me.

Or I've eaten too much chocolate or other junk food and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Once in while, say if I haven't been outside much for several days, I'll blame it on lack of fresh air and sunlight. Or maybe I'll imagine it's down to intense unpleasant emotions knocking back my immune system.

It's never just Shit, I don't deserve this. It's always Why? and What can I do so this doesn't happen again? The search for a solution never ends.

In meditation — not the kind where I watch my breath and go into an alpha state and relax my monkey mind, but the kind where I imagine myself going deep within, meeting up with my Inner Self, and having a conversation that enlightens and advises — I have been told that a daily five-minute check-in like this will go a long way — if not all the way — toward helping me feel good, physically, day in and day out. It’s so simple that it seems too good to be true. Do I do it? Hell no. Why not? Because I forget. I’m terrible at sticking to healthy routines. Also, maybe I’m afraid to heartily test this promise, because if it’s disproven then how can I believe any of the other interesting and helpful things I have discovered in this way?

One thing I’m going to do is start taking mineral supplements. Yes I’ve seen the Marketplace show about the unhealthy side effects of their long-term use. I’m going to do it anyway. Not that I’ve ever been or will ever be a consistent consumer of anything besides coffee and buttered toast in the mornings, but I do believe claims that our soil has been depleted and polluted and thus our food doesn’t supply everything we need for optimal health. Not even when we carefully consume a balanced diet, which I don’t always. I don’t want to be that careful about what I eat and drink every day, so a little supplementation could be like a bit of insurance. And sure, the first month of consumption may well have positive placebo effects — anything new seems to — but I’m going to give it a try anyway. If my fingernails harden up, I’ll be a convert.

Habits by the Wayside

When I have a migraine, or am sick like I was recently with the flu, my regular habits don’t even cross my mind. Morning coffee? No thanks. Evening glass of wine? Completely forgotten. Poke around on the computer? No way. Watch TV? Never! All I want to do is escape discomfort through sleep. It’s about all I can do.

Thus I have little sympathy for people who claim to be ill yet continue to do all the things they ordinarily do. They make phone calls and tell others how terrible they feel. They crack open a beer and actually drink it! They sit up late and watch TV. They scroll through Facebook or Kijiji. I find it difficult to believe they’re sick at all. To me they look like pretenders, and I can’t bring myself to coddle them or give them any extra attention or care.

I suppose another way of looking at it is that these people have more stamina than me or that they don’t let their condition slow them down or that they carry on doing what they have to do. I don’t know. What do you think? Which kind of sick person are you?

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I’m with you, WiseWebWoman, when it comes to that garbage that circulates on Facebook about refugees and how good they’ve got it here while so many of us poor Canadians suffer so. Gak. I saw one just the other day blaming Trudeau for the “hordes” of refugees roaming the streets. People do not think, I tell you! Some of my favourite people do not think. It’s shocking and disheartening: one of those things that makes me wonder if people are actually a lot more stupid than I give them credit for. Another bit of bullshit I hear at times is how great prisoners have it in jail, with their three meals a day, a roof over their heads, and TV. Why, that’s no punishment at all! They should just be shot right off the hop, give them what they deserve and save taxpayers a shitload of money. OY. And all politicians are greedy crooks. And people who aren’t relatives, who help seniors, are really only after their money. And look at how those horrible NDPs in Alberta managed to tank the world’s oil prices all by themselves, with their female leader, that witch. Tis a travesty!

The more I hear people talk, the more I see the wisdom of my dad’s philosophy in recent years: don’t ask anyone what they think about anything, because chances are you’ll be terribly disappointed, even in the people who matter to you. It might be better not to know.

An upcoming program on Ideas on CBC Radio, for those interested, is a different take on some attitudes toward refugees:
Thursday, January 11
FIGHTING AT THE TABLE: Conflict as successful integration
Sociologist Aladin El-Mafalaani has a counter-intuitive view of anti-immigrant rhetoric and politics. He sees them as a sign that integration is working. Conflict, he argues in his talk delivered in Berlin, is the necessary consequence of new arrivals at a metaphoric dinner table. The more people taking their place at the table, the more jostling and conflict there inevitably will be. While conflict can of course lead to violence, or even war, conflict in and of itself is neutral. But it’s always a stage of maturing societies. And those which have no conflict tend to be top-down authoritarian states which coerce their populations into obedience. He admits that he does have friends who love walls. But — he adds wryly — “they’re archaeologists.”