Friday, December 9, 2016


Well the worst thing about funerals, after the obvious, is planning the lunch. How many will be there?  It is very cold. Probably less. There is a big family.  Probably more. It's on a Saturday.  Less people are working and therefore may come.
So how much do you prepare? And how crazy do you go with food?
Today I helped a friend who lost a family member.  Her husband is recovering from a stroke and her knee is bad. We threw numbers back and forth. Cold day. Work day. Small family. But Fern was loved by a lot of people. How many? And it had to look nice because if Fern was doing it it would have been done well and she loved pretty.
So we struck a balance. We bought the squares at Costco. Arranged them on pretty serving dishes. And those who could brought sandwiches.  We were dealing with a building with no kitchen so we nixed the cheese-pickle-cracker-olive variety.
 Coffee.  Tea. Juice. A beautiful pitcher of ice water.  You would not believe how many people went for water. We will have to remember that. Sandwiches.  Squares. And a glass bowl of mandarin oranges.  I think we did well for ourselves.
There was enough food.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cataract Surgury

As I get older (this wasn't supposed to happen, the getting older you know) I find all sorts of things that don't work so well.  And I'm not refering to aging kitchen appliances.
One of the things causing me grief was my eyesight.  Working on the computer it didn't seem to matter if I wore my glasses or not, or cleaned them or not.  Always there were areas of smudges, kind of like grease on the lenses.  I would have to turn my head to see around them.  Very annoying.  Finally I decided it was time to see if my prescription had changed.  Yes, there was a change in my eyes.  The right hand side had developed cataracts.  Hmm.  Some things began to make sense.  Walking across a snowy yard was scary.  I had no depth perception unless I wore sunglasses and then it was a little better.  Even so I would be very conscious of where the ground ended, and it made walking very slow.
Like most people I know I have issues with things touching my eyes, and I was apprehensive about the what-ifs of the situation.
Turns out I had two choices; take my chances with the surgery or go blind. So July 6 I went for a procedure I had serious reservations for.
So.  It is...unpleasant.  The staff was fantastic and they all worked hard to put me at ease.  I sat in a huge recliner chair.  Drops in my eye. Booties on my feet.  A cap to cover my hair. More drops.  A hospital gown over my clothes.  More drops. Then they wheeled me off to wait my turn in yet another room.
Those were awesome recliners.  The nurse tweaked something and they stretched out flat into a hospital bed.  Cool.
I didn't care much for the light cover they put over my face but along with it came a little tube of oxygen to make it more comfortable.
I don't remember a lot about the surgery; bright lights, surprisingly loud noises, and some sort of guard that they slipped around my eyeball so I couldn't blink.  It was actually a comfort as I could  squeeze my eyelid against it and feel like I was doing something to protect myself.
I would describe it as unpleasant but not scary.  For my next eye, when it needs doing, I plan on coming equipped with 2 pain killers, a box of kleenex (the eye just leaks tears, no matter what) and a little plastic bag to put those kleenex into.  I was out of surgery by 9 in the morning, and  I was uncomfortable until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, laying on my daughter's  couch and listening to her and her dad clean out something jammed in the sink drain. But after we ate we went for a drive to tour the university area, rubber neck Roger's Place, and admire the view from the top of Connor's Hill.  And I could see.  Still needed the kleenex handy, but I could see.
I am happy to report that the things went well.  I am almost looking forward to getting the other done.  I have made up a picture to describe the before and after vision I had.  I now need reading glasses but I don't need glasses to drive or work about the house.  What a joy.
Ironically, for the first two months every night when I went to bed I would reach up to take my glasses off.  I wore them for more than 50 years but I sure don't miss them.
So as you can see, not perfect but much much better than before.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

It Doesn't Have to Match to be Beautiful

 I have heard of people who believe everything should match perfectly and be part of a (preferably expensive) set.  I don't believe that. Because, not always, but occasionally, too perfect is just another name for snobbery. Or maybe insecurity and a feeling of inadequacy.
Yes, sometimes matching is nice.  And sometimes it may be our preference or style. I marveled at all the matching china when I watched the staff set the table for some state dinner on the TV show The Crown.  It was impressive and stunning.  But I was more impressed with the setting of the shower for my great-niece Brooklyn.  Every pattern of china they could beg or borrow.  A plethora of colours and styles with the theme "pretty" tying it all together. It was breathtaking.
I have square Corelle dishes. They started off as green bamboo.  Then I added a couple of white ones.  Then I found the floral ones. And so on.  Just two or three of different styles.  And it brings me more joy to find a random dish in the pile than having a hundred of the green leaf ones although I still love them too.  And no one complains if the table is set with mismatched dishes.  Not to my face anyways.

The Japenese have a term, wabi-sabi.  It is the opposite of matchy matchy and/or new and perfect. In its secular meaning, it is appreciation for the imperfect, the old, the flawed, the mismatched. These could very well have much more meaning than perfect expensive things bought at some prestigious store.
Our youngest daughter's wedding was a collection of wonderful meaningful things that reminded her of people and things that affected her life.  A spool table that she rescued and refinished herself.  An old typewriter she and I picked up at a garage sale.  An old fashioned looking lamp that might have been coal oil. A cupcake tree that her sister in law uses for every big BBQ they host. Mason jars full of dried rose leaves.  A set of horse head book ends that were my mothers. Hundreds of hardcover books tied with lace and trim my mother saved over the years.  Paper flowers made from books fallen apart from years of loving use. Tea light holders in many variations of clear glass collected up from years of weddings. Her grandmother's wing chair.  Milk glass vases that were Fran's.  A copper rose the neighbour made. The curtains with writing on them that hung in a bedroom she painted herself. A few new things to round things off.  Nothing really matched but the atmosphere it gave was warm and nostalgically welcoming. Yet it would have been flat and flavorless without those who came.
 It's people who made our lives special that day.  The people who came cooked and baked the cake and cupcakes and helped set up and take down. Those who brought little desserts to add to the table.  The person who folded the book pages to say 2016.  People who loaned us things and picked up supplies. The people we had for support when things were...crazy.  The bridal party (bless them) who cleaned the washrooms at 1 am to help us shut down sooner. Even the staff at the Thorhild community hall. The people who cared and helped and were there for us. Match your "stuff" if you want to.  But you don't have to.
it doesn't have to match to be beautiful. In the end it's the quality of the people who count.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The view  out my back door is less than inspiring.
This recipe. ..much more so. The pumpkin scones my son on law baked when he was here are nearly all gone so...

Which brings me to the topic of silicone baking mats. They are pretty good stuff! Two of those cookies fell off on their own as I turned the cooling rack.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Hey hey hey! Look what I  found just in time for too many tomatos season.

The Nest is Empty

Well it's not the first day of autumn yet but the dust is beginning to settle. An extra spare room for when they visit. And now it's just us two old chickens left in the coop. Very quiet. But that's OK.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Looking Forward to the First Day of Autumn

Help! I want my house back.

Boxes of decorations and dry supplies for a wedding are overtaking my house. But when autumn arrives I trust it will be all calm and settled. First time in ages I have looked forward to the end of summer.

Another Walmart Find

Anyone looking for a good bread knife? I picked this up at Walmart in Red Deer to help make lunches while we were there and I  am totally impressed with how well it cuts bread and tomato.  And a sheath to protect it in the drawer. It's a keeper.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Favorite New Gadget

And see how wonderfully sized they are.
Oh, oh, oh! A cookie scooper that really really works. I  love it. All the same size. Easy release.  Found at Walmart. $7.49 @ St Albert. Approximately twice the price in Ft McMurray.  Rachel bought one up there for her kitchen but who knew? I  bought myself one on Monday and didn't get to use it until tonight. I am charmed.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Old Salad Recipes and Sweet Memories

One day I was in a meancleaning mood and my attention turned to one of the many bookcases in my house.  The cookbook one, specifically.  Out with this one.  Out with that.  Then I took down the binder that my mother had put together of recipes culled from newspaper articles, relatives, neighbours, and whatever other source there was.
In those days you couldn't say "OK Google" or "Siri, what is the recipe for..."
But what my mother didn't have filed away in her head or her binder she would know how to research it, or who to ask about it. And now she is gone.
But I have Google.  So I opened the binder to say goodbye to the yellowed  newspaper clippings and collections of booklets from the home economist. And there were recipes handwritten by her.
Carefully copied out in her dainty handwriting.  And I felt her hand and I saw her face with my heart and for the love of all that is clean, tidy, and uncluttered I could not bring myself to throw out my mothers handwriting.  So to make myself feel better I threw out a handful of little recipe booklets and kept all she had carefully copied or cut and pasted (with scissors and glue, not CONTROL + X and CONTROL + V} and I share a couple of recipes that I had to make black and white to make the faded blue ink show.
Enjoy. My mother loved to share.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Elements 10

Here are some how-to pages on using photoshop elements that I did to remind myself of all the wonderful things that can be done.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Saskatoons in the Rain

I wouldn't mind a sunny day now but it's going to be a while yet before I am unthankful for the moisture. Wish we could send some north and east for the Fort Mac fire.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Fort McMurray Update

I can't find the exact address for it but through my CBC news app I was able to access a government app that shows satellite pictures of what is in Fort Mcmurray now. It has to do with the Pleadies 1A and though the images are fairly low resolution one can zoom in enough to identify individual houses.
I think it's worse not to know what happened than to sit and mull over if it did if it didn't. I will try to find a link to it but right now I can only access it through CBC news.

Monday, May 9, 2016


It's been almost a week since Terrible Tuesday. Rachel has been home since Friday but every morning when I get up, on my way to make coffee, I give her door a little nudge and smile to see her sleeping face on her pillow. Things could have been so much worse.
And then I reflect on how I thought the summer was going to be crazy busy helping her plan her wedding and moving her up to Fort McMurray. Now we are still unsure of what there is for her to move up to, and where they could live. Suddenly the important things snap into focus. They are all alive. They have clean underwear. They have a change of clothes. Everything else will happen.
So now the focus is on getting jobs here. A place to live. Etc. The wedding supper is the least of my concern right now.
And a BTW. Our thanks to the organized people in Lac La Biche who helped so many out, including our little group who went through.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crafty Neighbors

Our neighbours make some very cool things.  Metal flowers. House stars. Row markers. Painted skulls. Adorable spoon coat hooks, of which I don't have a picture.  The skulls are a style to themselves.  They fascinate me but  they would not suit my garden.  The flowers, on the other hand, are very nice.  Made from metal and painted realistic colours they remind me of the fiber roses my mother made years ago. They were at a market near Calmar today.  Check out her IG at cpastthecity.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Fort McMurray 80 000 Stories and Counting

It's been a week like no other. Sunday afternoon my daughter packed for work. She drove to Calmar, so she could leave her car at her brother's house when she flew up to Fort McMurray on Monday. I am not a fan of airplanes but she enjoys the trip, and the fact the company she works for sponsors it makes it even sweeter. I read about the fire burning nearby, and worried about what the combination of her cold, asthma, and smoke haze would be.
She texted when she landed just afternoon and sent me a picture of the smoke as seen from the airport. " See Momma? It's just little. Don't worry about me."

And so the adventure began. I texted her at a quarter to two on Tuesday afternoon to tell her the fire had jumped river. Not to panic you I told her, but stacking nail polish in a big store one might not be aware of what was going on outside. She hadn't heard but within minutes she phoned to say they were doing a pickup from school and heading back to Timberlea where she was staying. The family packed up and waited. And waited. She hates waiting. They decided to wait for direction and cooperate with evacuation direction.  So it was that when they reopened highway 63 they were in place to leave south. They left the house, a convoy of three vehicles, at 7:30.  At 9:30 they finally cleared city limits on the south. 
I began to plan where I could put everyone to sleep when they arrived. Maybe one a.m. I thought.
But the night dragged on. At one they were still somewhere on 63. By this time Rachel was driving. Every hour or so I would phone and her tired horse little voice would say "Hello, Momma, we are still driving. Slowly. We are ok. Go to bed!" They decided to stop at friends near Lac La Biche, and finally at 3:30 they rolled in to their destination.
And finally today she is supposed to get home. 
I need to hug her. And see her pictures. I told her not to send any because I need to see her first.
And this morning when I looked out and saw the sunrise reflecting off the elevators I had a moment of fire panic. And I didn't drive out of a city with smoke and flames billowing behind me. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Planting Early

Every spring that  there is a garden to be planted one wonders what can go in earliest. The newsletter from Holes Gre√®nhouse had a useful chart. I won't copy it here, but check out the link if you are wondering

Friday, April 22, 2016


The ability to read is a wonderful thing. My mother loved to read. Every book was a friend to her.  She taught herself many things from books that her limited grade school education didn't.
I learned to enjoy reading as well,  and books became my friends. But I  remember when I  couldn't read. I  remember pulling the book "King Solomon's Mines" out of my mother's bookcase and squatting on the floor. I opened it up and held the pages flat with my little hands and marvelled at the many little black marks on the pages in line after orderly line.
"How do you know what it says?" I asked her. I don't remember her answer but I do remember her telling me that one day I would understand all those little words. Several years later I took the book out and read it. It wasn't as interesting as I had hoped, not even when I re read it years later,  and there are stories I love more but I keep it in my library now because I still remember the wonderful feeling of opening it up and comprehending what, over 50 years ago, I could not.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The First Daffodil

On the farm I had a huge garden and a hundred foot long flowerbed  (that was a grave error on my part and a LOT of work) but I  grew just about everything I put my mind to. Except tulips and daffodils. Try as hard as I  could, in 32 years maybe 3 blooms ever graced the space. Now,  in town where neighborhood trees and houses and fences cramp my gardening atyle severely, I  have tulips and daffodils to bring joy to my life. 
I miss my vegetable garden. My daughter phoned to ask seeding advice and to tell me they were heading for a garden center and my heart swelled like a bean in a sprouting dish.  Yup. The old feelings are still there. Just a little dried up from the lack of garden space in town.  Maybe I  could sneak a zucchini plant into a flowerbed somewhere.
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Drawing Daisies

I  am resting and fighting off a cold and watching The Man From Snowy River and drawing a new idea that came to my email box.


Not as good as Helen's but it was fun to do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Signs of Spring

You know it's spring even when it doesn't look like it yet. 

Because Walmart knows.

Beautiful  jars to put candles in.

Solar lights to add night time sparkle to the garden. Prices are from $1 and up.

Tubs to plant flowers in, or to make ponds.
So sit down with a cup of something sweet and warm, close your eyes, and plan your summer garden. It will never smell as sweet, bloom as profusely, or bear as well as it does in the garden of your imagination. So let yourself go. The anticipation might as well be at least as good as the realization.