Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday in the back yard

I haven't posted any dog pictures for a long time so I thought I would take advantage of a nice day and do so. It also helped that Dan raked up the leaves the evening before so that we could actually see the grass for a few hours before the wind blew down the next wave of leaves.

Harrison giving his "come hither" look. Actually he loves being outside and is always checking out whether there may be birds that need to be watched and/or herded so I have to call him to get his face in the pictures.

In recent days Bentley has decided that he is a mountain goat and has been climbing and perching calmly on anything that he can. Maybe I should think about doing agility with this boy.

Austin's party trick is "Where's your tail?" In addition to doing it on request he sometimes does it just to draw attention to himself, as he is here.

Robbie mid-bark. I love the tongue - it makes him look so sophisticated, don't you think?

And finally, Pocus, posing for the camera as usual.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Autumn in Saskatchewan

The funeral for Dallas' mom was on Thursday afternoon in the tiny town of Spy Hill, Saskatchewan, near the Manitoba border. If I remember correctly, Spy Hill has about 200 inhabitants. There were approximately 350 people at the funeral. I guess that sums up how people felt about Bev Orth. She was a special lady.

It was a typical fall day on the prairies so I snapped lots of pictures as we drove. Autumn is my favorite time of year. The sun still has warmth but the air is cool. There was a good breeze that blew clouds across the broad expanse of the sky.
Near Regina the land is basically flat. The crops are harvested and the night frosts have turned many of the grasses and trees various shades of gold. Most farms enjoyed a good crop this year. Judging by the number of hay bales that we saw, the cattle should eat well this winter.
All of the land is not flat. There are a number of lovely valleys scattered throughout the southern landscape as well. Most of the time, they appear as pleasant surprises as you drive along the highway. The next picture shows one that surprised us shortly after we turned north of the town of Whitewood.
Spy Hill is near the town of Esterhazy. Esterhazy is home to most of the miners who work at the Mosaic Potash Mine, one of the largest in the world. It's difficult to capture the size of the mine on a picture. Seeing the large trucks and equipment crawling like ants on the side of the outside of the mine makes you realize just how vast it is. Apparently, it is way bigger underground.
The sun sets early now. This obligatory sunset pic was taken at about 7:20pm as we drove home.

Monday, September 24, 2007

more goodbyes

My brother-in-law Dallas' mom passed away last evening after a brave battle with pancreatic cancer. She will be missed.

We also lost a friend of the family, Bob Farmer, last week. We spent many hours with Bob and his family when we were kids. Bob and his wife Marj were very good friends of my parents. Their children, Joanne and Neil, were almost like siblings to me and my sister.

I don't know why but life often throws us a lot of losses at once. Sigh.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

the gory pic

Geoff got his injury photo off of his phone by emailing it to himself. If you have a strong stomach and want to see how an arm looks after it gets eaten by a miter saw, click this link to take you to the pic in Flickr. Dan says it looks like pictures that he's seen of shark bite injuries.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

a close call

My son Geoff works for an installations company and was installing new carpet and lino in an apartment yesterday. Late in the afternoon, as he was finishing putting the baseboards up, he had an accident with the table power saw. It tore through his forearm to the bone. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency ward at the nearest hospital, shocky from losing a significant amount of blood. We didn't find out about the accident until he was at the hospital.

He is a very lucky young man (although I don't think he feels terribly lucky just now because of all the pain that he's in)! After consulting with specialists it was determined that the saw somehow missed the ligaments and tendons and the damage was confined to the muscles. This news was wonderful as it meant that he didn't lose the function of his hand and doesn't need surgery to repair the injury. He did need several layers of stitches to close the wound. The doctor was fine with Dan and I watching as they stitched up the gash and it was a shock to actually see the damage but it could have been so much worse!

Geoff had the doctor take a picture of the wound with his camera phone and I was all for posting it on this blog but we are lacking the proper software to get the picture off of his phone so you are spared the gory sight.

Apparently the new carpet took a hit from all the blood. Geoff said that it looked like a murder scene on CSI. I'm sure it did as an artery was severed. He was quite concerned that he damaged the new carpet. We assured him that the carpet is the least of anyone's worry; we're just so glad that he will be okay.

At this point, I would officially like to tell the fates that we have had more than enough excitement around here for the month of September and we are ready to go back to our dull, ordinary lives now.

By the way, the dogs are always interested in wounds. Their superior sense of smell alerts them to the odor of the blood (from quite far away). You can see Harrison trying to get closer to Geoff's arm in the picture.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm so excited!

Look what the mailman brought me today - my new Strauch Petite drum carder!
There's also a bonus bag of fiber from Copper Moose. I'm really pleased with the transaction and highly recommend this company! The carder was delivered very quickly.

Unfortunately, I had to go to work (and try to catch up at school because I was on compassionate leave last week because of my grandmother's funeral) and didn't have time to play with my new toy yet. I'll post more when I've had a chance to try it out.

On another subject, we in Saskatchewan live in a land of extremes. Last Thursday was cold and windy. We almost froze while at the cemetery for the interment after the funeral. That night we had a hard frost. It dipped to -8 degrees C (about 15 F). We turned on the furnace. Yesterday, Sunday, the temperature climbed to 30 C (86 F)! I thought about turning on the air conditioner but couldn't bring myself to do it after all the cold weather a couple of days earlier. When I went to work at lunchtime today it was beautiful: sunny, calm, and 22 C (room temperature). When I left school at 6 pm it was overcast, windy, and 12 C (about 55 F). I wished that I had brought a jacket. There is a saying around here that if you don't like the weather, wait a half hour. It sure has been true this last week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


My grandmother, Elsie Pawchuk, passed away peacefully on Sunday, September 9, 2007. She is pictured with her great-grandchildren Katie and Christopher.

Granny was born in 1912 in Insinger SK, the second child of John and Rosie Copan, who were immigrants from the Ukraine. Her parents raised their children to work hard and be respectful and she held those values throughout her life. She told us stories about how strict her parents were, especially her father, but also how loving they were. In later years, she accompanied me to the Royal Red Arabian Horse Show annually in Regina and shared anecdotes about her father being a “horse man” and how well he trained and curried the horses.

She was always very close to her siblings, brothers Bill, Gordon, and Steve, and her sister Marian and, later, to their spouses Elsie, Ella, Tillie, and John, and their families. We’re very happy that she had a visit from Steve and Marian in June from their homes in B.C. She talked to her sister Marian by phone nearly every day, even when both of their hearing problems made phone conversations difficult. It seemed enough that they both knew the other was on the line at the same time.

Granny only finished grade 8 of her schooling because she needed to go to work as a housekeeper but she kept a thirst for learning until her death. She loved to play Scrabble and Brainteasers with her friends at Pioneer Village. She was fiercely independent and her mind was sharp to the end.

We are fortunate that she left a written heirloom for us by completing a book of recollections. In it she tells that she had happy teen years but they were too short. Her favorite activities were going for long walks and going to dances. She began dating Matt Pawchuk when she was sixteen. In the memory book, granny wrote that she liked him because he was very nice company and was popular. He also had beautiful dark brown curly hair. They were married in June 1930, over the objections of her parents who thought that she was too young. Upon her marriage she became a mother to Eleanor, Matt’s daughter, whose mother had died when she was very young. They lived with Matt’s parents in Theodore for four years before they rented a farm and moved into a little house by themselves. They eventually opened a small grocery store in Mozart SK and had two children, Gwen and Earl.

Once the children were into their teens they moved to Regina. Granny worked at Simpsons Department Store in the housewares and sewing departments. She sewed a lot of clothing for her children and grandchildren while working. Her grandchildren, Susan, Darcie, Bill, and Donna, knew that they would receive new, hand-sewn pyjamas each Christmas Eve. She also enjoyed knitting and crocheting. Granny was a fastidious housekeeper who liked to clean house and do laundry and ironing. She often told us how much she liked to iron and she ironed EVERYTHING, including sheets, pillowcases, tea towels, and underwear! As she became older and her eyesight deteriorated, her grandchildren could relax more when she visited, as she didn’t always notice that their housekeeping wasn’t up to her exacting standards.

Granny also cooked and baked for her family. They loved her bread, perogies, cabbage rolls and beet rolls. She kept their freezers stocked and also cooked with the ladies of the church for the various functions that they served. We have yet to taste a store-bought perogy that can compare to granny’s but Donna is continuing the tradition of making them for others. Granny’s favorite foods were bread and juicy, garden-ripened tomatoes.

Granny’s Ukrainian heritage was important to her and she taught her family many of the customs, especially those involving celebrations, by feeding everyone traditional dishes. After having the food baskets blessed on Easter Sunday, everyone went to her place to eat the contents. She had the family over for Ukrainian Christmas Eve as long as she was able to cook. She would often take her little grandchildren to church with her. They didn’t understand any of the services in Ukrainian but were fascinated by the singing and the splendor of the church.

Granny regarded spouses of her children and grandchildren as her own kids. She remembered everyone’s birthday and anniversary, and managed to find cards that were specific to the recipient. When she became unable to shop for specific-enough cards, she wrote the necessary ‘grand’s, ‘in-law’s, and ‘great’s on them herself. She delighted in her great-grandchildren Geoffrey, Carly, Brant, Christopher, and Katie. She was so pleased that her youngest great-grandchild, Kathryn Elizabeth, is also her namesake.

There are many happy memories of granny and grandpa dancing with the grandchildren to Ukrainian and old-time dance music. They would start them young by carrying the babies in their arms while they danced. When Don Messer’s Jubilee and The Tommy Hunter shows came on T.V. it was time to push the furniture out of the way and start dancing. They also taught the children various card games, always with great patience. Granny spent many happy times teaching grandchildren to cook and bake. When the little ones were in the room, Granny and Grandpa would slip into the Ukrainian language for the parts of the conversation that they didn’t want the kids to understand. Unfortunately, that practice didn’t help anyone to learn to speak or understand Ukrainian very well.

Granny’s religious faith was very strong and it helped her weather the difficult times in her life including the deaths of her husband Matt, her daughters Eleanor and Gwen, her brothers Bill and Gordon, her sister-in-law Elsie, her brother-in-law John, and her sons-in-law Geoff and Stan. Circulation problems necessitated the amputation of both of her legs and confined her to a wheelchair for the last few years. Her faith comforted her and she often told us that she didn’t fear death.

In closing, I’d like to share the following words that she wrote in the memory book.

How the World Has Changed Since I Was a Little Girl

They invented radio and television.

They discovered immunization.

They succeeded in preventing children from getting

some diseases.

When man landed on the moon I watched on TV and could

hardly believe it.

Timesavers my mother never had are automatic washing machines and microwave ovens.

Women today are better educated and hold better positions in the working world but are not respected as much.

Some movies today are educational but some are violent and should not be seen by children.

Dating today is different because there are so many things to do – a lot more than there were when I was young.

I still like the old-fashioned ways of dating, dancing, and visiting.

My wish for the future is for you to be happy, healthy, and content.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Spindolyn

Drop spindles and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the way they look, I love their history and traditions, I love that there are so many options like size, weight, top whorl, bottom whorl, wood, stone, etc. I hate that I have to co-ordinate my spinning while battling gravity. Most of the time gravity wins and my carefully spun singles go rolling and unraveling as my yarn breaks and the spindle drops to the ground. So I got this: The Spindolyn. It takes the drop out of drop spindles. It is a support spindle and you draft the fiber away from the hook. Way cool and pretty reasonable. I've been spinning sheltie hair with it and it's great for fine fibers. It will never challenge my love affair with my spinning wheel but it's a neat option for portability. The only hitch is that my weak shoulder can't keep up the drafting for very long.

I want to spin a combination of wool and sheltie hair. I think that adding wool to the dog fur will improve its wearability and make it easier to knit by providing some elasticity to the yarn. I hand carded a bit of the combination but my weak shoulder complained viciously about the hand carding process. I couldn't get too into it mentally either because it felt like I was doing more grooming on hair that had already been groomed off the dogs. Like I don't have enough grooming on my plate already. So I researched drum carders for several weeks as I waited for September so that there would be a paycheque before the credit card bill arrived. Teachers don't get paid over the summer.

Behold this! I ordered it yesterday. I can hardly wait for it to arrive!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sale on hand-painted yarn in Etsy shop

All hand-painted yarns in my Etsy shop are on sale for 10% off until Sunday, Sept. 9/07. You can get there from the side bar if you're interested.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It never rains but it pours...

As if things weren't crazy enough around here this past week, we got a phone call from the nurses at my grandmother's senior care home on Thursday afternoon telling us that she was doing very poorly and that she wanted us to come and say good-bye. She really did look dreadful and we sat with her for the better part of two days. Family arrived from Manitoba on Friday. On Saturday she was sitting up, eating a bit, and looking better. By later in the day, she was playing cribbage. She is 94 1/2 years old and it seems that her heart is going to last a little longer after all. We love her dearly but she has been ready to die for a while now and we know that she would have been happy to go. She has a lot of faith and is looking forward to being reunited with passed loved ones. She is quite annoyed that she is getting better. She's obviously made of good pioneer stock. At least we had a chance to visit with family this weekend.