Dear Ms Maggie

I doubt you’re softer than me! Remember, I don’t go anywhere without my ski pants on! Just call me Wussy Galore.

In the house, and it’s a cosy one as long as the porch’s inside-door is closed (the room’s not properly heated and I feel it if that door’s open, from anywhere in the house), I wear slippers or shoes or else the soles of my feet are cold.

Scott’s feet rarely feel the cold on the floor and he often goes barefoot! I don’t understand that. Even in summer I wear shoes indoors. Perhaps it’s simply that the coolest air migrates to the lowest place in the house and some people are sensitive while others have the thick soles and hairy feet of hobbits.

When sitting at the computer for hours at a time, with short breaks every hour to get up and move around, I have to cover my legs and back with sweaters and down vests and quilts. Even wearing leggings under my jeans, and three layers on my torso, and shoes and warm socks.

All down to circulation I guess, because as long as I’m moving (and dressed for the cold when outside) there’s no problem keeping warm. I envy anyone who is toasty without trying. Maybe it’d be wise to increase my yoga time and keep the cayenne pepper shaker on top of the stove.

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There’s sawing and hammering going on in the basement, whose stairs are being replaced. I’m choking on sawdust.

The stairs that were here when we bought this place not only had the front of each step bevelled/angled, but the stairs were painted with shiny, slippery paint! We’ve both slipped on them at least once.

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I jump out of my skin when walking into the bathroom if the furnace is blowing air, because the fabric on top of the toilet tank will be moving. It’s more than once a day. You’d think I’d get over it.

fabric

The fabric is a piece my friend brought back from a visit to Cambodia.

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Woody Woodpecker

woodpecker

I found this image on THIS LADY’S WEBPAGE; for more info about pileated woodpeckers, please visit it. She is also an artist so there is plenty to look at on her site. 

It’s only -2F this afternoon, but feels pretty nippy out there. My smartphone says -2F is -19C, which makes it sound more severe than it is. I always think of Grandpa J saying, if it was really cold, that it was “twenty below!” That was Fahrenheit. And so now I don’t consider it really cold till it’s 20-below — Fahrenheit.

Those who are working outside with cattle find it cold, and when I went walking down the road and the wind blew against my face, I did too. I kept a scarf over my mouth and pulled the hood of my parka (thank you again, Reta and Carl! I’m grateful each time I wear it) close to keep the wind out as I walked my mile. That’s being lazy as far as I’m concerned; it’s less than half the distance I should be walking to keep my heart fit. But that’s been about the extent of it this winter.

When I heard tapping that seemed louder than usual I stopped and looked up, and there was a pileated woodpecker in a tree next to the road. We’re lucky to see one of them around here once a year. They don’t stay. They’re huge compared to our regular woodpeckers, the hairy and the downy. I had to go online to find a photo for you because by the time I pull my phone out to use the camera and press all the necessary buttons and try to see the screen in the sunlight, the battery temperature has dropped and the phone shuts down.

It’s 5:30 now and I’m resting after putting together a chicken pot pie for supper. I love THIS RECIPE but find it takes a long time to make, even when the potatoes and chicken are already cooked. Must be the gravy-making that does it. Don’t ask me. It’s messy and I don’t like messy. All I know is I’m tired by the time this thing is ready to go into the oven.

Time to preheat and warm up.

Dog Doings

Maybe I should rethink.

Somehow, little Duckie Doodle has got it into his head that when he needs to go outside, it’s me who must take him to the door. Scott can be sitting right beside me, or Duckie can be in the living room with Scott when I’m reading in the bedroom, and the dog will leave him and come to me to make the request.

Who’s responsible for this state of affairs? Scott seems to encourage Duckie in this, and I can be stubborn about it — like, neither one of you is training me to be the door-runner, thank you very much — but whatever the case, I’m in the house more and so naturally it most often falls to me.

What perplexes me, though, is why Duckie waits till I sit down before coming to ask me. I have to get up again to let him out, and I get a little piquey about it!

Today he trotted out to the cold (poor bugger) to get down to business, and it occurred to me that maybe he waits till I sit because he thinks that’s when I’m not busy.

What do all you dog whisperers out there make of it?

Me ‘n’ the Brats

Kathy and Boys Feb 2018

Finally we got into town to share birthday cake with Emil and Everett. It was a pecan caramel cheesecake and there appears to be some on my lip there, but do you think any of the fellas would tell me? Men!

It didn’t take too much coercing to get Everett into the frame.

“For my obit,” I said. “Should probably start taking one every year.”

Not that this one would do. We’d need a closeup. And if I had my druthers, there’d be no obituary. But I won’t be around to put in my two cents worth, will I? And some people ignore the expressed wishes of the deceased. Tsk.

Saturday Solecism

winter grouse

The ruffed grouse takes its sweet time crossing the back of the perennial bed, and stops for long minutes to be sure it’s safe to step out into the open. I’ll never make a good wildlife-watcher. I lose interest too quickly. This one must’ve been working its way across the front yard for at least half an hour; I left and came back to the window a dozen times and it was still there.

Scott woke me the other morning to see a moose making its way across our back yard. Even though so much larger than the grouse and so much more formidable, it too is cautious and takes slow steps, one at a time. After a minute or so of looking through the bedroom window, we saw another moose enter the yard and join the first one. Scott stood and observed all this for a long time; I crawled back into bed.

It was still too dark (6:30 a.m.) for pictures to turn out, but we were left with moose tracks in the snow and some “berries” to prove they’d been there. They passed, heading north, just a few feet from our back step.

Not that this doesn’t happen often! It does, but it’s a treat every time. A short one, maybe — for me — but a little thrill nonetheless.

Maggie: You’re correct, in November and December I worked several days at a gift store in town. I’m only casual there and wasn’t called in at all in January, and that was fine with me. I was either recovering from the flu or had enough other work, so was glad to stay home. I was grateful to have had the pre-Christmas hours at the store though, when it came time to paying bills and buying a few gifts.

I still cough but it’s either when moving around a lot indoors or walking in the cold air. It’s getting better and pretty soon won’t make itself noticed at all.

Today’s another frigid one but the sky is clear blue. I can’t envy those who live in more temperate climates with gloomy grey skies all winter. Dad, who lives in Kelowna, says it gets him down after a while. But he’s still not willing to spend his winters here!

solecism: 1) a mistake of grammar or idiom; a blunder in the manner of speaking or writing 2) a piece of bad manners or incorrect behaviour

“Some such education was quite necessary, if she was not to make a series of appalling solecisms.” – Madame de Pompadour, by Nancy Mitford

To attend the court of King Louis XV of France required rigorous training in etiquette and speech, so his mistress Jeanne Antoinette Poisson prepared herself.

One painting of her: HERE, a conversation about it.

According to Mitford’s bio of Madame de Pompadour, she was sweet-natured, honest and loyal — which a lot of people in the king’s household at Versailles were not. Posturings and intrigues … no thank you! She stood it for 20 years. Guess that ol’ king was worth it.

Farded Friday

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The teacups and saucer are from a set Grandma J won in a bonspiel. There are small dessert bowls too. Where are the dinner plates? Long gone I guess. The pitchers are from Grandma B’s collection of them.

Marms: What did you miss? you say.
In the late fall I started freelancing with a company that publishes material for public school students. Some calls for writing for (to?) kids, which is a particular skill — and one I don’t have. Yet. At this point I wonder if I ever will. We shall see. It won’t be for lack of trying.

Gotta get back to it, spent the morning setting up an f-book account for the local food bank, worked a while in the afternoon before going to town to ferry Emil over to Everett’s and visit the credit union, and came home to wash a few dishes and request a rye & gingerale on ice from the bartender. Mmm mmm good! I might have a second one and say to hell with work for the night.

But first, food.

farded: painted with cosmetics

Midweek Machicolations

Aunt Shirley crocheted these tiny teacups and saucers. The pottery glass probably came from a garage sale.

I’m on a steep learning curve with my current project for work, writing content for kids in grades 6, 7 and 8. It’s not as easy as the finished product might suggest! My fear is that I may never get good at it, or even passable at it. Fortunately I have a patient and experienced mentor; if anyone can train me, she can. I need to be — among other things — more playful, more humorous, more fun.

What else can I report?

Not only have I not had the house all to myself for the past two days (and it’s not so bad!), but my companionship was requested for a trip into town this afternoon so we ran errands together. The best part: coming home and not having to make more than one trip with groceries from the truck to the house. That man can carry more in one trip than I can in three.

I did close the truck door with my knee though, and was sorry because I ended up in the snow. Not hurt for more than a moment; just surprised. Scott was already ahead of me with a load of shopping bags and didn’t even notice. I was glad, as I would’ve felt foolish and he might’ve had a moment of panic, seeing this old woman on the ground!

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WiseWebWoman: Haven’t there always been ads on this site? They’ve been threatened, at the least, because I always use the free templates. If I pay WordPress at least $60/yr they’ll remove the ads. I did notice recently some unusually large ones below my entries. I’ve never thought they got in the way but maybe others see the pages differently than I do (signed in).

Reta: For sure, I might feel differently if I didn’t have a car, couldn’t drive, or couldn’t get out for some reason. Plus when it’s this cold, one’s less likely to want to “sortie.” Still, you go five days a week? Wow! Is someone paying you?!

Joan: Since you’ve been reading between the lines lately, I thought the second word in today’s title could make you wonder! The connection between me and “machicolation” is very loose … er,  okay, non-existent; I admit I’m reaching … shame on me for being too lazy to come up with a better title for this entry.

Am I the only one who didn’t know the meaning of the word?

machicolate ~ furnish (a parapet, etc.) with openings between supporting corbels for dropping stones, etc., on attackers

All Plowed Out and No Place to Go

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Why not just stay indoors where it’s warm and cosy?

Ooooof. That wind. It sounds like a blizzard and looks a bit like one, but isn’t. It’s just snow that’s already out there being blown around. But it sure doesn’t make a person want to go outside, much as I tell myself I should, always, because how it feels out there isn’t how it seems from in here. Sometimes.

I’ve started a new routine to get my work done early and not drag it out through the day. Instead of taking my coffee to bed and reading as soon as I wake, I fire up the laptop and get down to business, hand wrapped around a mug of bitter black brew on the kitchen table. There’s only darkness through the windows when I begin, but this leaves most of the afternoon free, depending on what time I leapt out from beneath my toasty blankets. It’s possible that there will be enough projects to keep me working in the afternoons too, but for now I’m aiming at four hours a day.

I’ve spent the last couple hours dicking around with the laptop Scott brought home for me. Is there anything more exasperating than finding your way around a different computer than what you’re used to? Sure there is — lots of things — apparently I tend to exaggerate.

It’s a Lenovo Thinkpad, whatever that is. He found it, used, on Kijiji for less than $350. “Whatever you decide,” I told him, “is fine with me. I trust your judgment.” He’s been researching what’s available to suit my work needs for quite a few weeks already, and was in Calgary for the past 10 days. The price is certainly right (even more so because it serves as my Christmas and birthday gift from him) and already my frustration level is lower than when using his laptop, which is so slow you wonder if it’s actually doing what you’ve ordered and whose cursor jumps all over when I’m typing and royally fecks up my text. I like this machine fine so far and am grateful for all the thinking and deciding Scott did on my behalf, because all that computer tech stuff means nothing at all to me when I read it. Tomorrow morning I’ll try out this little gal with my work files; that’ll be the real test, but I’m not worried.

Until last night I was alone here on the farm for 12 days, including Scott’s two days on the highway, and I learned something: I’m perfectly content by myself. Granted, Duckie Doodle was at my side 24/7,  but he doesn’t say much. I visited my mother-in-law for an hour the weekend after Scott left, and was gone for three hours when I went to town the following Wednesday, and saw brother-in-law Bruce for a few minutes two days ago when he plowed the yard. But that’s it. I talked to Joan and Dad on the phone and texted back and forth with Cathy, as per usual — it’s not as if I was incommunicado — but there were no visitors and I felt no need to go anywhere except to walk a mile or so most days.

I’ve always assumed that my ease at being here alone so much was due to knowing someone would come driving into the yard each evening. Now I realize how perfectly comfortable I am in my own company, with or without seeing anyone else for days. I guess it only makes sense, because I already do spend most of my time by myself.

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Marms: You’ll be mightily disappointed if you come here for the garage saling! It’s a lucky weekend when there are one or two in town. Often there aren’t any at all. Thank goodness, because I don’t need a damn thing. Which doesn’t stop me though. Sometimes you don’t realize you could use something till you see it (at the right price). I have two wooden cutting boards ($2) in daily use in the kitchen, thanks to last summer’s garage sales. They are just the right size; the one I had before was heavy, unwieldy, and larger than I need. There are things I always look for, too: fancy paper napkins, new bedsheets … the kinds of household items that are so overpriced to purchase at retail.

 

All Questions No Answers

You can be asking all the right questions. That doesn’t guarantee you’re getting the right answers.

There can be more than one correct answer, depending on the point of view you decide to get behind. It’s confusing when you’re able to see more than one side of an issue at the same time. Life isn’t reliably black and white; it’s grey, grey, grey.

Or you may not like the answer, because it simply doesn’t sit right. It can seem like the end doesn’t justify the means, or even that the means don’t justify the end!

Sometimes it seems as if no straight answer is forthcoming at all. Ask all you want. Ask away. Ask and ye shall receive! Don’t count on it. You can’t see which way to turn, which step to take? You can’t even see a step?

Try cracking open a door, then. Even a window. There are times when the only answer appears to be patience.

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The view from the doorway

Our yard was snowed-in from Friday night till late yesterday afternoon when the tractor came over from the family farm. Even after that, Little Green wouldn’t likely have made it far; the snow on the road itself was deep, soft, and slippery.

The municipal snowplow came through sometime today, as I discovered when heading out for a walk after my morning’s work, followed by a bath and then a meditation while my hair dried. I can hop into Little Green and go for a drive, now, anytime! She’s plugged in and ready to roll.

But there isn’t anyplace I’m hankerin’ to go. This is exactly the situation you want during “snow” days. It’s easy to be patient when there’s no place else calling you.

Church = My Kitchen Table

This is my sister Joan’s version — a painting, air-brushed, of a photo? Joan you have to edumacate me in these things — of the young Joni Mitchell. With Joan’s permission, I’ve used it to illustrate “How Blondi sees herself” under Pie in the Sky (see the left column, click on the orange bar; click on the image and it will take you to Joan’s website)

Reading a favourite blog this morning, I literally stopped and imagined sound to go with each photo taken on the writer’s hike along a trail with her husband. It brought back memories.

Her mention of waterfalls reminded me of the time I was out horseback-riding in northwestern New Brunswick and came upon one I didn’t know was not at all far behind the one-room log cabin where I lived. I had given the pony his head and he took a wildlife path I hadn’t noticed. It was through close bush, and we came to the edge of a straight-down granite cliff facing water rushing over a high rock wall directly opposite where we stood. That was a moment of wonderment in my life. One of many, with that horse.

He’d been a barrel-racer and once when we came to the end of a fence he whirled around the last post and galloped back along the other side of it with me hanging sideways off the saddle. Another time when I was catching him to saddle up, he spun around and kicked at me; all I saw was his hoof an inch from my face. Thank God it didn’t connect or my face would be even flatter than it is!

I’m always on the lookout for photos that fit my tongue-in-cheek column of Pie in the Sky images of “Blondi,” who is and isn’t me. You can plainly see that she isn’t — the images are a variety of characters I’m taking liberties with for the pure fun of it. Blondi is me, too, though, and over the years a few friends have teased me about being a crunchy granola old hippie chick; thus, how Blondi Sees Herself. Actually maybe it should be How Others See Blondi; I don’t see myself as being like an old hippie, but Blondi has a touch of the old hippy in her. I’ve asked Joan, the artist, to draw me an image for How Others See Blondi. I hope she does. Then I’ll know for sure. At any rate those photos and captions are me being playful. (I don’t go as far as playing board games if I don’t have to.)

Cathy: Your toothpaste story is familiar. We have the same thing happen here all the time and I assumed it must be something Scott was doing — like maybe examining his razor cuts while brushing. Who knows … Then I cleaned the mirror and immediately brushed my teeth. Paying attention, I soon noticed tiny flecks of toothpaste flying onto the mirror! So – no matter how careful, the only way to keep the mirror clean is to stand way further back. But then where will all those toothpaste flecks end up? At least on the mirror they are quickly seen and wiped away.

Secret Agent Woman: Your page offers the option of signing in using my Twitter or Facebook accounts. Once I sign into the accounts and then try to submit my comment, I get this message: “CSRF verification failed. There was an error submitting the form,” before it suggests I sign up with Disqus instead. By then I’m discouraged and give up. But I’m there, reading!

Reta: Good eye! Yes, it’s a new coffee pot. We took the older one over to the other house so the kids could have early-morning brew without having to get dressed and haul the baby over here before they were good and ready.

Lorraine: I see that you tried to leave a comment. Whatever you wrote didn’t post, but I’m happy to see you’ve stopped by this old blogaroonie.

Lorna: There’s plenty of good TV. I admit it. What it’s good for, I don’t know … ha! But seriously, each to his own. I like a lot of stuff too.

Debi: Thanks for the link. I haven’t put much time into reading online about incense but noted this so far: “In general, Japanese incense has fewer synthetics than Indian, but high quality Indian has much fewer than low-quality Japanese” and the brand Mere Cie claims its product “entirely free of synthetics” and that it makes the “least amount of smoke.” I also picked up this tip to avoid the smoky result when I forget to snuff the incense stick soon enough: attach a paper clip where you want the ember to die out. Works beautifully.

Maggie: Instant coffee was what my parents and my friends’ parents drank when I was a teenager, so it’s what I started my coffee career on. I remember it well! But haven’t had a cup of instant since I don’t remember when.

And now I had better get outside and refill the feeders.  The chickadees have been bombarding the windows for the past two hours to make sure I don’t skip my chores two days in a row. Funny little creatures. It’s not as if they’ve run out of seed. Maybe they just missed me and are wondering what’s up?