Monday, December 31, 2012

Notes on a Funeral

As you may know, Paul lost his mother a week or so before Christmas. She was in a care home and she had dementia. Still, it came as a surprise when we got the call as she was otherwise in good health. This is not a post about her but rather about my observations during the process from beginning to end. This is what I learned.

Not all people handle grief in the same way. Some become numb. Some fall apart. Some take the part of the leader, the strong one and some just become ridiculous.

Not all people feel the same about attending funerals. Some have rules. For example, if
you have not had a relationship in the last 10 years you don't have to go. Some others
think that if you have even heard of someone you should go.

As my daughter put it, "I think funerals, or stressful situations, bring out a persons
true colors."

 Money is a horrible thing to argue about and people still do it anyway.

 A preplanned funeral only means that you have 50 things to do instead of 75.

The most emotional people should not be left to make decisions on their own and it is nice when a brother can support a sister. It is a beautiful thing.

However sad the death of the loved one is, it is rather nice to see family you haven't seen
in a long while.

It is surprising how people in the same family had such different relationships with the
one who is lost. Some grandchildren are grief stricken and some feel sad because they didn't share that same relationship.

Everything seems so final. I know, it is. But really, it is so final.

Viewing the body can really freak some people out and a body should not be put at the
door of the church as you walk in, taking people unaware.

I love having flowers in the house even thought it is for a not so happy reason. I don't
understand how some say " in lieu of flowers, make a donation..." I would say, "Please
send flowers. "

I have also learned a lot about myself, personally, during this whole chain of events.

I do not find it easy to keep my mouth shut when decisions are being made that I don't     
agree with. (Not my family, not my business)

I didn't cry. At all. I have known Paul's mom for 33 years and have some good memories
but I didn't cry. In fact I hardly ever cry. I think that crying is a waste of emotion. The  
situation cannot be changed no matter if we cry or not.

I don't much like funerals. Who does? I have not been to one since my grandmother's
in 1990. I also do not feel obligation to go to funerals, nor do I think we should put
expectations on others to go to funerals.

I find it almost criminal the costs involved. For instance, one can place an ad in the paper to sell a car for $35 but an obituary is $400. Renting a casket for a viewing, $1000! Every single cost is inflated. Racketeering.

I am stronger than I think and can handle more than I imagine. I am a realist and I
don't hold on to things too tightly. I know everything is fleeting.

And after saying all of that... it was a nice funeral indeed.

PS Sorry for the wonky formatting. Blogger does that sometimes no matter how many times we try to fix it.
PPS Photo is from google images.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Days

Happy Holidays!
With love from:
Paul, Michelle and Athena
Jen, Jordan, Abby and Josie
Jess and Dann
Jill, Clint and Eden.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Solstice

On Friday we will celebrate the Winter Solstice.
The Return of the Light.
This is my highlight of the season.
This year we will also have the funeral of
 Paul's mom on this day.
So it is a busy time.
Lots of things to do.
And on Saturday we will celebrate
with our girls.
They will all be home with us.
All twelve of us around the table.
And next year there will be fourteen.
Two more grand babies on the way.
Want to bet that they will be girls?
I wish you all happy, peaceful times with your families.
We are very lucky to have ours all together.
I am sure you feel the same way, particularly this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What if?

"What if religion was each other?
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water-the river, lakes and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being."

-Ganga White

(images from google images)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last Minute Recipe

Almost Real Almond Bark
(on the cheap)
Measure 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar.
Boil for 5 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with soda crackers.

Pour butter and sugar mixture over top.

Spread to cover crackers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle 3/4 cup chocolate chips over top.

Smooth over top as they melt.

Sprinkle 3/4 cup sliced almonds over top of the chocolate.
Press down with the back of a spoon.

Put it outside in the snow if you live in Saskatchewan.

Let it freeze for 15 minutes.

15 minutes more.

And then another half hour.

When it is frozen, break into pieces and enjoy.
Make sure your dog keeps a good eye on them
and does not lose sight of them.
And yes, she watched them for the whole hour.
Easy, cheap, yummy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Dream That Wasn't

In the short amount of time since I told you about my dream to live on a farm, the whole idea has been aborted. I have deleted all of my saved files on farming. I have deleted my Pinboard titled "Farm". I cancelled my subscription to Mother Earth News. Just kidding about that one.  I love that magazine. But it's okay, it really is. I am fine with it. I am quite adaptable and I don't get discouraged or disappointed easily.
As a woman and a mother I have been spending countless hours thinking about what moving to a farm would look like for myself, for Athena, for our family. Lots of great thoughts. Lots of hard work, of which I am not afraid. And then I started thinking about the nitty gritty of it all, socially speaking.
Athena is the only child of ours still left at home. She'll be nine years old in a few weeks. There will not be any more children. Gosh, I am 47 years old! And although she loves her pets and would love to have a goat and a horse, she will also need some "human friends" as she puts it so well. Maybe she doesn't care now, but she will care at 12 years old and at 16 years old as well. Since she does not want to go to public school EVER, the opportunity for those friendships to develop will not be available to her. And since I am not one to drive an hour there and back for ballet or brownies or soccer games the extra curricular stuff wouldn't happen either.
And then I started to think about aging. Would I want to live in the middle of nowhere by myself if something should happen to Paul? Would I want to be a half hour away from first responders? Could I look after a place in my golden years? Maybe. I am strong. Would I want to? I don't know. Part of me would, part of me wouldn't.

So I began to formulate a slightly different plan. The city we are to move to, North Battleford, Saskatchewan, has about 14,000 people living in it. Too small for many but too big for this small town girl. Across the bridge is the town of Battleford. Paul says that it has a real small town feel, like we would like. It is mere minutes from his work and all the amenities one would need. Kind of a win-win situation. So I looked on MLS and found this. It is the last house on the street. It has a large treed area and a river view. Only one neighbor. Very secluded. A hot tub overlooking the footbridge and the river for Paul. (I hate hot tubs but I am somewhat of a germophobe.) It has all hardwood floors because I hate other peoples carpet. (see germophobe comment). It has a garden area and a greenhouse. It appears to be a great compromise. Paul is going to see it on Tuesday night. I am hoping it works out but as we know, pictures can be deceiving. The $100,000 price difference from the last property is nothing to sneeze at either!
I contacted the town and they told me there is a bylaw prohibiting backyard chickens but there is a growing movement in North Battleford and Battleford who are trying to get that changed, so I may get my chickens after all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It Snows

Snow has been falling all day.
Same as yesterday.
The weather man says we don't expect any precipitation.
And yet, is snows.
Everything is sparkly white
except for berries that dot the trees and shrubs.
It is a nice contrast.
A nice snack for passing birds.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow
will be too cold to play outside.
Windchill around -30C.
A little girl is anxious to go out
but is never bored.
That little mind never stops imagining,
never stops believing.
Play is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Settling In

The cold weather is enveloping us these dark winter days.
Our time outside is limited by the windchill.
 Dusk comes early.

We gather around the kitchen table to draw, color and play games.

(the girl is drinking pomegranate juice)
We sit by the fire and read, each of us our own things.

(of course all of these books came at once from the library)
We go outside every day, if only for 10 minutes. We need the fresh cool air in our lungs and the bright sun on our faces.

The dog and the cat are oh so sleepy. Most of their time they spend in their beds, dreaming of chasing raccoons or catching birds.

Candles light the dark corners and their scent reminds us of Christmas.

Our meals are hot and hearty, warming us
from the inside.

Sleep comes easily after a hot bath and a little back rub. Morning comes quickly as we rise in the still darkness.

Another winter day has begun.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

First Farm

Paul found a possible farm for us to live at. It had more than we even hoped for. The price was a little steep but one that we could live with. He drove out to it early, just to make sure he could find the way. It was a short 38km from the city we are supposed to move to. 19km on the highway, 19km on a windy, tree-lined gravel road.

As he was driving to it, he was struck by the beauty of the surroundings. The trees were all covered with hoar frost. He saw a buck running beside him on the grid. The owner says it sometimes takes her a while to get home at night on account of so many moose and deer. (sigh) :)

As he approached the homestead he saw the winding driveway and observed the beautiful setting of the house. Trees as far as he could see. 80 acres of them. There was also an additional 80 acres of farmland. A full 1/4 section. Much more than we hoped for.

We were hopeful after seeing the pictures. The two kids bedrooms were ridiculous but paint can erase a lot. The rest of the house was a bit fancier that we are used to but once we got our stuff in there it would be fine. There was wood boiler in floor heat in the walkout. There were not one but two wood stoves. Perfect.

And then he went inside.  Suffice it to say that some people should not attempt to do their own home renovations. Even Paul, who is very good at them, said there were some projects started that he wouldn't attempt. (insert another sigh, this time a sigh of sadness)

He was more disappointed than I, because he saw the setting. He said it was exactly what we were looking for. More beauty that one person could ever wish for. And now, he is second guessing his decision not to make an offer. And after having spent this past week in Vegas on business, he longs for that serenity even more.

If you are curious and want to take a peek, the listing is here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

All In A Day's Work

A female Pine Grosbeak hit the patio door this morning.
Martha wanted out there in the worst way. Go figure.
And my little Athena is saving the world...
one bird at a time.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I have wanted to live it the country for as long as I can remember. In fact, I remember when the thought solidified itself in my mind. I think I was 11 or 12 year old. My family was invited to someones house for dinner. It was on an acreage in the middle of a lot of trees and bush. I remember that it was a log home. I remember the fire in the fireplace. I remember trying snowshoeing for the very first time there.

I don't know who the people were or where this place was located. I do know that it was in Alberta somewhere. What I remember, crystal clear, was the feeling I had when I was there. I hoped some day that I could live in a place such as that. Mom, Dad, can you help me out? Who were these folk and where did they live?

After Paul and I got married and after we had three children in very close succession, I began to feel the twinge again. I wanted to live in the country but I would settle for a small town. We spent countless hours driving with Realtors to find just the right place.
Some places were downright scary. Girls, remember Corrine? With the old man sleeping in the rocker? Yikes. I don't know if it was fear or finances or what, but we remained firmly planted in the city. So what did I do? I decorated my house like a farm house. Geese and the whole bit. :)

When Paul got a new job and we had to move to another city we found a home in a relatively small town about 10 minutes away. Now this was better. Only 4000 people and since we were near the outskirts of the town we could hear coyotes howl at night and could often see the Northern Lights. Girls, remember the first time Dad showed them to us? We were all standing in awe on the front lawn. I will never forget.

After the girls moved out, another job took just the two of us on an adventure of a lifetime, or so we thought. We moved to Peace River, Alberta. We rented the last house on the edge of town overlooking the Mighty Peace River. Deer bedded down in our yard. Just outside our property edge was a sign nailed to a tree that read: Warning: Bear in Area. Oh yes, I was almost home. We hiked the side of the "mountain" every Sunday. We bought a salt lick from Peavy Mart and put it in the unfenced yard. No need for compost as I just ran it out for the deer each night. It was a quiet nature filled life. I still remember the chill that ran up my spine when I heard a wolf pack howling to each other and how it echoed across the river. It remains one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Granddaughters and a job recruiter brought us back to Saskatchewan. Having lived "up north" near the wilderness gave us a taste of the life we wanted so moving back to the city was not on our list of places we wanted to be. After much looking, by Paul, he found us the house we currently live in. It is in a small town of about 900 people and we are steps from the countryside and a short drive from a lovely Provincial Park. The downside is it is on a busy busy highway which connects Saskatoon to Calgary.

And now, we are faced with another move. Hopefully it will be our last. We are going to make this one count. We are looking for a place with trees as far as the eye can see. A place where we can have a huge garden, a few chickens and maybe a goat too. We would like to use solar panels, wind turbines and woodstove heat. And so our quest begins...

(all pictures from google images, but the landscape one really is Peace River.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cats and Dogs

This is the cat.
Martha is 5 months old.
She is sweet and cuddly and she sheds.
A lot.
Well, maybe not a lot but enough for
you to know she was on your lap.
She is also kind of a brat.
And she is mischievous.
This is the dog.
Nahla, too, is sweet.
She loves affection and long walks.
She cries when we leave her behind.
Very loudly.
She does not shed, thankfully,
and is easy to keep clean.
She is also incredibly stubborn.
Most of the time, Martha can be found
doing this.

And most of the time,
Nahla can be found doing this.
But then there is the time in between.
And this is what occurs.

They like to play with each other.
Until Martha's little head
finds its way into
Nahla's big mouth.
And then... it is not so fun anymore.

One day Nahla had her cousin
Cash over to play.
And play they did.
All day long.
It was a great day...
for them.
This is what Martha
thought of the whole thing.

I didn't know she could puff up so much!
The best times are few and far between,
but they are when this happens.

They are finding their way.
Slowly but surely.
They both let me know when dinner time
rolls around. The meet me in the kitchen
and sit, side by side, and wait.
They eat their dinners...
and the chase is on again.
Some day it will be calm around here again.
Fingers crossed.
In Nahla's defence,
she was bred to chase raccoons,
and having a kitten with a tail like this...

 must be a bit difficult. No?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Long Weekending

I just love long weekends. Don't you? They seem to be filled with all kinds of wonderful. We make time to do the fun stuff and the things we have been putting off or just not getting around to doing. We slow down and we just "are". No schedule, no time frames. Long weekends are just like a big exhale.

We have the space for our individual interests.

We play and have fun.


And of course, there is food.

 This is what Paul and Athena ate.
 And since I don't eat pork chops,
I make tofu for myself.

These out breaths, or maybe these deep inhales are so refreshing to the spirit. They let you know what is really important.