Please Stand By

My laptop is on the fritz. Before that, my trusty iMac went belly-up. I’m typing this brief message on Voratio’s laptop, but as I must not presume the right to use it, I think I’ll just take a break. Words don’t seem to get me anywhere anyway.



Smoke & Mirror

“I don’t like your picture on Facebook,” said my great-aunt Marj. “It makes you look 20 years older.”

I was at the farmers market to pick up 10 unbaked, frozen apple pies she’d made to order. It seems to me it was the only time I’ve been there this summer; it would have been easy to sit with her and chat for another hour.

Think she’ll like this selfie any better?
I was out yesterday morning in the smoke from god-knows-which fires and was taking pictures, camera pointed toward the pasture around our farmyard, when somehow the lense got turned back on me. Figured I might as well try for one; come on, one decent shot for the obituary, eh? But no, they’re never worth keeping, much less sharing on FB or anywhere else.

The smoke’s not so bad today, but that can change. The wind is from the south, strong and warm; it’s a sunny day, the leaves have begun to turn rust and yellow, and a flock of snow geese flew overhead as I drove into town. But yesterday, now that was a different story.








Day Labour

001 On my way home from town one day last week I spied this row of farm machinery — mostly combines — lined up in preparation to hit the fields.

Driving through the countryside is a great pleasure right now, as the golds of harvest have replaced the summer colours. There is equipment of one sort or another moving in every direction you look. There’s lots of action and it’s just the beginning, and my little generations-of-farmers genes are excited and happy to see it.

Canada geese have begun to flock up, and cranes can be heard passing overhead.

Me? No great migratory journey in the works but there will soon be a dash down to Calgary to meet the grandbaby, expected in two weeks. Two weeks! That’s nothing! That’s practically tomorrow! Although it may not feel that way to our daughter-in-law, carrying their first child.

I’m doing laundry, dyeing several tops (I don’t feel good in faded clothing), and making a cheese and zucchini casserole for supper. Since dyeing in the washing machine requires a bleach load afterward, I’ll be sanitizing the dishcloths at that point. See THIS PAGE FROM IRELAND for some helpful information about what works and what doesn’t, and reasons why we should do it. (Yes I did run them through the soap cycle with the first load of clothes. They now await the bleach.)

The tomatoes in the garden were covered last night against frost, but I don’t know that the temperature got down that low. I made fried green tomatoes one night; they were a treat. I like anything made with cornmeal, and these were dredged in it. One afternoon I baked cornmeal muffins. Last night I made cornmeal dumplings with a chicken soup.

And now to grate some cheese for the casserole and squeeze the liquid from the grated zucchini.

My exciting life! Woo Hoo! Yee Ha!

It’s just right.

What I’m Reading

time and again Any New Yorkers in the building? They will particularly enjoy this time-travel story set in their city, both past and present.

When the protagonist from late in the 20th century travels back to the 1880s, an acquaintance offers to hand him the reins to a pair of horses pulling a carriage.

“He took the reins after I refused with thanks; the horses would have turned and laughed if I’d tried to drive them.”  –Time and Again, by Jack Finney

Then there was the sound advice:

“During my time in the army I was taught how to use my eyes at night; you don’t look directly at what you’re trying to see. Instead you look off to the side at something else; then, from the corner of your eye, what you really want to see will come clearer. Sometimes the mind works in the same indirect way when you let a problem alone, not forcing an answer.”

And here’s a phrase I was hearing for the first time, about something good:

“That was the ant’s ankles.”

Just finished Time and Again, and I see there is a sequel.

Author Edna O’Brien has written a memoir containing a description of growing up in Ireland. Here she notes her mother’s activity after guests depart:

“When male visitors left she did two things: she plumped the cushions and smelled the leather seat of the chair, to see if they had farted, and if they had, the removable seat would be lifted out and put on the windowsill to air all night.” – Country Girl

I’m also reading Madame de Pompadour, by Nancy Mitford. It seems that in spite of her position as the mistress of Louis XV, living at Versailles was like living in a den of poisonous snakes. There was a constant stream of jealousy, political posturing, and back-stabbing. Madame de Pompadour, according to Mitford, never allowed herself to sink to that level. She remained kind, helpful, honest and straightforward, even though she was often attacked and ridiculed by those who didn’t respect her bourgeois blood and wanted someone else — someone more advantageous to their own power and connections — to replace her.

Madame didn’t play their games. She loved her king, her family, her friends, and her life, and knew how to enjoy herself.

She wrote in one of her letters, “I defy fate to make me unhappy — only through my feelings can I be hurt.”

Lots of books on the go. Just started the biography Byron in Love. Still think that to understand why his friends loved him as they did, when he seems to have been such an ass, I’ll have to read his own words.

So many books, so little time!

Lynda Barry: More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys


First of all, to have Eleanor Wachtel interview you is an honour. Smart, educated, not run-of-the-mill questions; a sharp wit and a warm, appreciative response; and a mind of her own, one that has done its homework and knows what it’s talking about.

I often listen to Wachtel’s interviews — her CBC Radio show is called Writers & Co, and nowadays I download and save the podcasts to savour while out walking or before falling asleep. This latter means that I’m often in and out of consciousness and miss bits and pieces, which would be a real shame if it was her interview with Lynda Barry.

I’ve listened to this particular exchange three times now, and I’d like to recommend it to you because it gave me laugh-out-loud pleasure. Oh how I would love to be in the same room with Lynda Barry! She was forthcoming and hilarious and is my kind of gal. Aside from this interview, I’m not acquainted with any of her work. I intend to remedy that and order her novels from the library. She’s got a new fan, purely on the strength of her personality.

The image above is lifted from the Writers & Co webpage, and here is the link:

Scent of Harvest

018 Give us another two weeks of warm weather with no frost, and local farmers will be happy. Harvest has already begun. Working wives who don’t normally do the farming are taking time off their regular jobs to help by driving swathers, grain trucks or combines, by delivering meals to the field, by running for parts, and so on.

I haven’t been put to work yet but am here, available to be called upon. For now I’m watering my flowerbeds, keeping the kitchen clean, sweeping the floors, doing the laundry, changing the bedding and towels, doing the grocery shopping, trying to come up with something for supper … and so on.

Just life.

There are four alpacas over at SouthForks. This is a grumpy-looking one that hasn’t, or so it appears, been sheared.

Then there are the three piggledy-wigglies. These are the ones Emil likes to go see.

014 We were at a party the weekend before last, and Scott’s cousin kindly took Emil for a golf-cart ride to see their pigs. Then he let Emil drive. Apparently Emil has a very heavy foot. But he sure enjoyed himself, came roaring up with the biggest smile on his face.

We also went to see his Auntie Karen, who will be taking all of September off so that she can get into the field and help get the crop off.

I haven’t been asked to run any machinery around here — not since I ran into the maple tree with the riding mower. Actually it was the grass-catcher that snagged on a low branch of the tree, and only a tiny bit of damage was done, a slight dent in the plastic.

Maybe they like it better when I drive my own car to the field to pick them up or run them here and there. Hee! Can you blame them?!


Fishing Lake 2017

021 I had spent Monday morning packing up, oblivious to the solar eclipse that everyone was excited about.

Arriving at the cabin shortly after two o’clock, I spent the first 10 minutes carrying in my stuff and grinning. The rest of the day saw me alternately standing and sitting on the deck, looking over the water, awestruck and thrilled.

The wind off the lake was intense, and the waves rolled into shore, smashing like an ocean against the rocks below the deck and sometimes even sending a plume of spray up in front.

You couldn’t help but be hypnotized by it.

The next day the lake was more calm but there were comings and goings at the cabin. The wind was still a bit cool before evening, so again I was on and off the deck and looking out over the water, but not sitting long. I had visitors several times and went to a friend’s for tea, myself.

Wednesday was the day of paradise. The wind had quietened and the sun was hot and there was shade on the deck and I went back and forth between that and dappled light. I went for short walks and read through old journals, burning five of them before coming home on Thursday.


I tore out a couple pages and saved some pictures and copied one entry from 1984 into the laptop:

‘Sunday, June 17
You can’t please everyone all the time so you have to have the guts to stand up to the disapproval, even scorn, of others. You have to have the courage to do what YOU think best, no matter what others think.’

I was around 24 at the time of this writing.

See You in a Few Days

IMG_0692 Joanie Baloney gave me the best straw hat, ever. It has a wire in the brim’s edge, so it can be bent however you need it in order to block the sun from your eyes.

A certain smartypants has commented upon it as part of my “homeless person” ensemble — the outfit usually worn on my walks, when there’s a bulging fanny pack around my waist and I start out with a jacket on.

015 I’m going lakeside for the next three days and will not have internet access. I expect to do a lot of reading and perhaps not much else.

Much of today is being spent preparing a couple things to take along so that eating won’t require much cooking. I’m doubling up the amounts of everything so that the fridge here will also have grub for the grabbing. That man o’ mine is so lucky, I even made him a chocolate cake for comfort when he’s missing me in the evenings.


I was wrong about tick season being over. One came into the house yesterday. Sunzabitzes.


I should leave you with something meaty, right?
How about this true story on my early blog Who Does She Think She Is — Anais Nin?

The writer was a hairdresser if I remember correctly, as was his friend Orishia, who was a friend of Joan’s:

Back then in my blog I was using pseudonyms for everyone. It was more fun than this straightforward business too. Everett was Barney. Heh. Kinda suits him; sure did then.

And look:

Apparently I have very blue eyes. Cool. Now this was 15 years ago. They’re probably half-hidden by my droopy eyelids these days. Hee! I love getting older. My body’s full of surprises.

I took pictures of the animals over at the plantation these days: alpacas, goats, and three pigs. I didn’t take pictures of the chickens or cattle, dogs or cats. Those goats are darn cute. Pics to come, maybe tomorrow, maybe when I get back. Tomorrow morning I’ll be watering the perennials and soaking the annuals in their pots before packing up and heading out. Can’t wait.



Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

017 We’ve had hot, humid weather for some weeks and certain crops have suffered, while others seem to be doing fine. Maybe they got rain at just the right time. I was driving home from town yesterday and for a change took the northern route, and there were combines going out in a field. Maybe it was winter wheat or fall barley, I don’t know, but anyway harvest will soon be in full swing around here.

I picked up Emil today and after stopping at the one garage sale in town, we headed for Karen’s. She’d been called to my nephew Marc’s farm to help with some bin work before we got there, so I decided to drive down to Fishing Lake and see if our friend Cindy happened to be out at her cabin and would like to come along. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to her place since the road was blocked as asphalt was being laid, so we turned back and drove along the lake road on the north shore of the lake. There’s roadwork being done there too; finally after 100 years the narrow lake-road, which is extremely busy on summer weekends, has been widened and now it’s getting paved.

Who should we see in his driveway as we passed his brand new lakefront house but my cousin Oscar! We pulled in (“I see your dad more than I see you!” he said. Dad had been here in the winter and again this summer, and he always makes a point of spending some time with his young cousin. Oscar’s 62, Dad’s 78.) and got a tour of his and Barb’s lovely pad looking out over the glittering water. The visit was short and sweet but better than seeing each other only in passing at funerals, which is usually the case. It’s ridiculous not to get together more often but they are busy with grandchildren, Oscar still farms full-time, and I’m in my pyjamas at 8 pm on days when I’m being sensible.

Then we headed for Karen’s, sat on her deck overlooking Margo Lake, drank cold Pepsi, and chatted till it was time to come home and make supper: spaghetti, with sauteed veggies mixed into a canned tomato sauce. We’ve been invited to a wiener roast tonight but I figured we’d better eat anyway because I don’t know what time His Manliness will be home or even if he remembers the invitation.

The woodtick plague appears to be over and the mosquitoes aren’t any worse than normal, as a matter of fact there may be less of them since it’s been so dry here. Shoot, in a couple weeks we’ll have a frost and that’ll decimate those there are.

I love this time of year. I’m past caring if the flower bed is weedy. I love fall too; it has the best scents and no bugs to speak of. I also love winter — so bright! so white and sparkly! — and spring, when I give thanks to whatever powers that be that I am still here to enjoy the kelly green leaves and the snowgeese flying over for one more season.