Monday, December 31, 2007

The Last Post - Sound the Trumpets!

Well, okay, the last post of this particular year. Here is how the last day of the year looked in the Bag Lady's neighbourhood:

It's a little cool, but the Bag Lady has experienced New Year's Eve at much colder temperatures, so she's not complaining.

As the year winds to an end, the Bag Lady likes to sit for a moment and reflect on all that has transpired over the past 12 months.


Okay, ready for next year...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Touring the Countryside

Here are some photos from our foray into town yesterday. The sky was such an unusual colour, we simply had to stop and take a few pictures. This is from the top of the river hill, just before the highway starts down the hill.

Oddly enough, from where the Bag Lady was standing, the sky to the south was a different colour:

Once down in the river valley, the clouds took on yet a slightly different hue:

The hoar frost on the trees was not nearly as prominent when we reached town, so we attributed it to the fact that the little ski hill on the river bank was in the process of making snow.
This morning, the Bag Lady had some visitors checking out her bird-feeders:

And last, but definitely not least (at least, not in HIS mind), here is a picture of the youngest member of the Bag Lady's family, enjoying Christmas morning:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rambling into the New Year

Well, it’s been a lovely Christmas holiday, except for the 2 days spent under the weather with a nasty flu. Both the Cowboy and the Bag Lady had it, so the house fell to pieces...sorta. There were very few dirty dishes (who could eat?)…mostly half-full glasses of water scattered here and there. The Bag Lady feels much better today, and is hoping the Cowboy will be back to normal again, too. They are supposed to be attending another family get-together tonight. Ordinarily, this get-together is held by his brother’s family on New Year’s Day, but they decided that this year if they held it before New Year’s Day, people wouldn’t have to work the next day and could hang around a little longer.

The Bag Lady is looking ahead to the New Year and trying to decide on a strategy for getting into better shape. She has to come up with something different, because, obviously, the old ways haven't worked.
Her most urgent problem is beating the smoking demon. She has quit twice in the past little while, but hasn’t managed to stay a non-smoker. She hates the way certain people look at her when they realize she has started again, but can’t seem to get to that place where the cravings for nicotine can be over-come. “Why can’t you just quit?” they ask. Obviously, it’s not that simple. The Bag Lady knows all the reasons for quitting, and agrees whole-heartedly. She knows several people who have been successful at quitting, and envies them greatly. She also knows that at least one of them craves a cigarette every day, but doesn’t give in to the craving. Good for her. The Bag Lady just isn’t at that place yet.

The Bag Lady reads several blogs written by healthy, active people, and she envies them greatly, too. Bunnygirl's tales of preparing for her upcoming marathon make the Bag Lady want to weep. Running is totally out of the question for the Bag Lady, not only because she is out of shape, but because she is so clumsy! This is one of the reasons she never travels…if she ever had to try to out-run a tsunami…or a wild dog…or a crazed sloth…(have you seen the claws on those things?!)
So the Bag Lady is open to helpful hints for quitting smoking and losing weight and getting into better shape. Any suggestions?
Notice she posted this on a weekend, during the holidays, when most people won't be around the blogosphere...hmmm, makes you wonder if she really IS committed to this, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Food, Glorious Food

Christmas at the Bag Lady’s sister-in-law’s place was wonderful. There was enough food to feed twice as many people as were there, and everything was delicious. The Bag lady’s sister-in-law, with the help of her mother and mother-in-law, put on an incredible feast. Even the Bag Lady’s niece got in on the act and made a scrumptious surprise dip that almost ruined the Cowboy’s appetite for the rest of the meal; he ate so much of it. The Bag Lady’s contribution was spinach salad and a veggie tray (that the Cowboy put together) with her special mistake dip. Sometimes it pays to not pay attention…

There were presents galore, with much hilarity during the exchange. The family decided a few years back to do a silly exchange in which everyone brings a newspaper-wrapped gift, then everyone gets to choose one at random (one at a time), or steal one from someone else who has already opened theirs. Makes for great fun, especially for the person who gets to go last!

There were new games to play – the favourite turned out to be something called Battle of the Sexes. There are so many family members, the games have to be played in teams, and that game worked well for teams. (Naturally, the women won!!)

When the Bag Lady got home, another nice gift was waiting – an email from Leah, saying she was finally at home! Now we can look forward to new posts on the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stand-in Gratitude Monday - Special Christmas Eve Edition

The Bag Lady realizes that she is a poor substitute, but she will attempt to take over the Gratitude Monday duties just this once! Many of you are faithful readers of the Bag Lady’s cousin Leah’s blog, the Goat's Lunch Pail, and the Bag Lady is sure you are missing her dry wit and insightful comments as much as the Bag Lady is. Leah has a regular Gratitude post on Mondays, and finds things to be grateful about in many situations.

The Bag Lady is grateful for the good medical care that Leah has received, and also that there is a possibility that Leah may be released from the hospital. The Bag Lady has all her fingers and all her toes crossed that Leah gets her MRI and gets to go home today.

There is so much to be grateful for at this time of the year – family, friends, and good food (to say nothing of all those presents glittering under the tree!). Friends of the Bag Lady and the Cowboy appeared at their doorstep yesterday, armed with chainsaws and a flat-deck trailer. They knew that the Cowboy was still having back trouble (and the Bag Lady has a few problems of her own – some of them are even physical!). They also knew that there was very little wood left in the woodshed, so they took time out of their own busy schedule to come and help fill that up. The Bag Lady is so grateful for such good friends! Her house is warm, and so is her heart.

The Bag Lady hopes that all of you have something to be grateful for today, and that your holidays are filled with warmth, both in your homes and in your hearts.

Merry Christmas, and the blessings of the season to you all.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Only four days left until Christmas, and the Bag Lady knows that some of you will be too busy to check back in here before then, so she wants to wish all of you the best of the season!
The Bag Lady is off to town today to do a little last minute shopping. She is taking her famous Spinach Salad to her sister-in-law’s for Christmas, so will pick up the ingredients for that, as well as a few more things. Hopefully, if she gets in and out of town early enough, it won’t be too busy!
She will be posting again before Christmas, so if you have time, pop on in. With any luck, she will have her sense of humour back soon - this business with Leah has been rather distressing, and the Bag Lady’s been doing a lot of worrying (her specialty!).
If you won’t have time to stop in, the Bag Lady hopes your Christmas, or Festivus, or whatever you celebrate, is all you want it to be!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Leah Report

For the very latest news on Leah’s condition, check out my sister, Reb's blog, where she has even posted a photo from her visit to Leah in the hospital. Sounds as though Leah is more than ready to get the heck out of there and back to the important stuff in life, like blogging!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

News Flash

Some of you regular readers of the Goat's Lunch Pail may have been wondering where Leah has disappeared to. Well, I have finally gotten the go-ahead from her to disclose that she has been taken ill with congestive heart failure. This has come as quite a shock to all of us (not least of all, Leah!). She has always taken care of herself – she doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks, eats well-balanced, nutritious food, gets plenty of exercise. In other words, she has done everything right and still ended up falling ill.

She has been moved from hospital to hospital, and is now in the University Hospital in Edmonton, undergoing a battery of tests to try to determine what has caused this. I know that she would be most pleased to receive your good wishes (and virtual chocolates!), so anyone who wishes to have a message passed on to her can leave it in my comment’s section and I will ensure that she receives it! I will also keep you posted on further developments as I hear them.

Fabulous Appetizers

The Bag Lady thought she would share some of her tried and true Really, Really Good recipes with you. (You have no idea how lucky you are!) The Bag Lady has no idea of content of calories, fat, etc., and really doesn’t want to know. She always buys low-fat or no-fat versions of everything, so maybe that helps a little!
None of these are very complicated, nor do they take a great deal of preparation, but they all taste great and look appealing.

Hot Crab Dip

1 can crab meat
2 Tbsp minced onion
1 Tbsp butter
8 oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp 1% milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ C sliced green olives
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 drops Tabasco Sauce

Drain crabmeat. Saute onion in butter in saucepan. Add cream cheese and stir over low heat until smooth. Blend in remaining ingredients.
Serve in chafing dish, or round loaf.

Green Goddess Veggie Dip

½ Cup Mayonnaise
½ Cup Sour Cream
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 ½ Tbsp chopped green onion tops
1 small clove minced garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp Tarragon Vinegar

Combine all ingredients. Chill several hours or overnight.
Serve with raw veggies.

Ported Cheese Apple

1 ½ Cups grated Cheddar Cheese
1 pkg (125 g) softened cream cheese
1 Tbsp Port Wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Blend cheeses and port wine. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour. Shape into an apple. Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with paprika. Use the cinnamon stick and bay leaf for stem and leaf of apple.
Serve with crackers.
The Bag Lady usually doubles this recipe, making two balls. One she forms into the apple, and the other she forms into a pear, using turmeric instead of the paprika.
This recipe is simple, doesn't take a great deal of time, and always gets raves. Set the "fruit" in the centre of a platter, surrounded with cubes of different cheeses, meat and crackers and scatter a few grapes (or grape tomatoes) on top. People will think you worked for hours...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stormy Weather

The Bag Lady saw a little bit of the news yesterday, and noticed that Eastern Canada has been getting a taste of winter lately. There were pictures of vehicles buried in snow up to the windows, and folks shoveling and pushing cars out of snowbanks. It reminded her of the winter Alberta suffered through last year. It also reminded her of the winters of her childhood. She recalls all too clearly one particular snow storm that caused her to walk to school down the very middle of the street, where the snow was not quite as deep as on the sidewalk. It was only up to her hips in the middle of the street! Oh, by the way, she was in high school at the time, so the snow (which had fallen overnight) was almost 3 feet deep.

She doesn’t know if the mild winters of these past few years (not counting last year) can be attributed to global warming, or if it is just a natural cyclical thing. She is not a scientist so she keeps her opinion to herself. She does think, though, that it is partly due to the natural cycle, and partly caused by humans.

So far this winter there have been a few fairly cold snaps, but relatively little snowfall in our immediate area. The Cowboy said there is a lot more snow on the ground not that far to the north of us. But we still have a good three months of winter left, so there is still plenty of time for more snow. According to the calendar, winter hasn’t even arrived yet!
The Bag Lady is more than happy to have relatively mild winters with not too much snow because it is so much easier on the cattle. And on the Bag Lady!

So, to our friends in eastern Canada, hope the snow isn’t too deep nor the temperature too cold for you. Maybe you didn’t notice that while you were basking in your unseasonably warm autumn, we were freezing our butts off. Actually, the Bag Lady is not being nasty. The news reports of people stranded in airports for hours, if not days, did arouse some sympathy in her, and she hopes the weather improves in time for everyone to get safely to their destinations before Christmas. But, after all, this is Canada, and anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows that the weather can be unpredictable. That’s part of what makes us all so tough…right?

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The Bag Lady had a lovely birthday party on the weekend. Many family and friends attended and showered her with gifts, cards and good wishes. The Cowboy took care of the meal, and did a very good job.

The Bag Lady had her very first ice cream cake. Please note: ice cream cake is perhaps NOT the best choice for 50 candles!!

Sure was easy to cut, though....

Friday, December 14, 2007

Eleven Days Left!!?

The Bag Lady has a false sense of security today. She finished writing her Christmas cards yesterday, and once she has them in the mail today, she will be ready for Christmas. Ha. What, then, is causing this uneasy feeling, this low level of anxiety she can’t quite find a reason for? Has she forgotten something? Why isn’t she in her customary state of panic? Is she panicky because she’s NOT panicky?

Her sister-in-law is hosting Christmas this year, and another sister-in-law usually hosts New Year’s Day, so the Bag Lady should be relaxing and enjoying the fact that she doesn’t have to cook a big meal, or clean her house - well, okay, she has to clean her house, but she doesn’t have to re-arrange furniture and make all the preparations for having a large number of people in her house.

Part of the anxiety the Bag Lady is feeling probably stems from the fact that old age is looming large. Her birthday is on the weekend, and she is afraid that the Cowboy has planned something. Or has NOT planned anything. She wonders which would be worse… On the one hand, she would like to mark this momentous occasion, but part of her wouldn’t mind letting it slip by unnoticed. The only reference the Cowboy has made to the occasion so far has been while he was watching a TV commercial the other day for Grey Power Insurance. (“If you’re over 50, with a good driving record, you qualify…”) He drawled, “Guess I can give them a call on Monday…”

There are 11 days left until Christmas. The Bag Lady has almost all of her shopping done. Her cards are ready to be mailed. She did some of her baking, but the Cowboy ate most of it, so she will do some more. But, because she isn’t entertaining anyone, she doesn’t have to do much. She hasn’t done any decorating, but still has time for that. So, okay, she’s ready. Sorta.

How about the rest of you? Have you finished your shopping yet? Done your baking? Are you calm and well-organized, or do you, like the Bag Lady, leave things to the last minute because you work better under pressure? Anything else you want to share?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Past

The word evokes such powerful memories. Presents, turkey, church, family, singing. The Bag Lady's family was quite musical, so we used to sing all kinds of carols. Four of us sang in the church choir. We even sang in 4-part harmony at home. The Bag Lady and her mother were sopranos, Reb was an alto, one brother sang tenor and dad and the other brother sang bass. We would sit around the table after supper, having a little Christmas cheer and sing. Strange, huh?

We had our little family traditions, like jigsaw puzzles, as mentioned on Reb’s blog, and our folks always hosted a musical Christmas party. They had friends who played in a band, and they would all come, toting their musical instruments. They played and sang well into the night. The Bag Lady remembers as a child, lying in bed, listening to the music and singing emanating from the basement, going on well into the early morning hours.

When we were older, we were allowed to stay up and sing and dance with the grown-ups. There was always someone playing a guitar or two and someone else on the piano. The fiddle, banjo and accordion were usually there, too.

They played everything from old-time country music to Christmas carols. Dad would even bring out his bagpipes and play a tune, but only one or two. For those of you not well acquainted with bagpipes, they are definitely not an instrument to be played in small, enclosed spaces!

Mom would serve a ton of food that she had spent days preparing – everything home-made and delicious and beautifully presented. Pastry and cookies and cocktail foods. We kids would pray that there would be lots of left-overs to feast on the next day. There usually were some, because mother would have been mortified if she ran out of food, so there was always plenty.

The Bag Lady looks back on those days fondly, and wishes she could be transported back in time just once more to listen to the laughter and singing, and watch the dancing and feast on some of those delicious treats.

Excuse her while she closes her eyes for a moment, just to remember…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Family Trees

The Bag Lady has an abiding interest in genealogy, and has spent quite a lot of time researching her family history. This has been made easier for her by the fact that some of her ancestors were Swedish, and really good record-keepers! Over the last few years, she has discovered that her ancestors were, on her father’s side, Swedish, English and German, and on her mother’s side, English, possibly Irish and German. Little wonder she has such a fair complexion, eh?
The internet has been an incredible help in her search. Bless the Roots Web people! Most of her ancestors on her mother’s side have been in Canada since the 1700’s, mostly on the eastern coast. Her father’s father came from Sweden, via Russia, and some of her father’s mother’s family has been in North America since the 1600’s. One of her great-great uncles died in the American Civil War. She even has a photo of him!
Her father’s grandmother was an amazing woman. She traveled to Nebraska from Ohio with her family as a very young girl, lived there for long enough to marry and have a family. At the age of 29, while pregnant with her 7th child, her husband died. In 1901, at the age of 44, after raising her family alone, she became a pioneer again, moving to Canada to start a new life. All of her children and several of her sisters and their families immigrated to the same area in Alberta, which was then part of the Northwest Territory. Her maiden name was Crockett, but there is no direct connection to Davy Crockett that the Bag Lady can find.
The Bag Lady would love to travel to some of the areas where her ancestors lived to try to find traces of them, but that probably isn’t going to happen. She already dragged the Cowboy on a graveyard tour of Alberta in search of ancestors, and she’s pretty sure that isn’t going to happen again! Some of the areas she would like to visit include Nebraska, Ohio and Maine in the U.S. and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in Canada. She would also love to travel to England to continue her search. She hasn’t had much luck on the internet with her search on the other side of the ocean.
She wonders if any of the rest of you have an interest in your family history. Have you traced you ancestors to the Mayflower? Or do you not care at all? Don’t even know your grandmother’s maiden name? Couldn’t care less? How do you feel about this?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Stylish Princess

The Princess has new shoes. The Bag Lady bought these as a bit of a joke, because the Cowboy kept saying the Princess needed boots to keep her feet warm. The Bag Lady thought there was not a snowball's chance in hell that the Princess would even allow the boots to be put on her feet, let alone keep them there...

Imagine her surprise when the Princess not only allowed the boots to be put on her, she wore them quite happily without any attempts to kick them off.

The only problem is that they are slippery in the snow, and the Princess runs everywhere! She adapted, though, and seemed quite happy. The Bag Lady will have to attempt to add something to the soles to give the Princess better traction.

Isn't she stylish?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Early Riser

The Bag Lady had an exhausting day yesterday. She had to be in town early in the morning to go for blood tests, etc. and had several appointments and some errands to run and shopping to do. When she finally returned from town, she had chores to attend to and all those groceries to put away. By the time all that was done, she was played out, but she still had to make supper and clean up afterwards. She isn’t sure why, but going to town wears her out more than building a quarter-mile of fence!
She was in bed fairly early (OMG, whatever happened to Friday nights?) which was a mistake. The Princess, who is accustomed to getting up with the Cowboy when he gets up at all kinds of ungodly hours to go to work, woke up at 4 am today and insisted on waking up the Bag Lady. The Cowboy actually has the day off from his regular job (which does not mean that he isn’t going to work today, just means he gets to sleep until whenever he wakes up), so the Princess didn’t have to get up with him at 2 am. Consequently, she felt she had to wake up the Bag Lady to let her outside so she could do her customary barking to warn off any (real or imagined) intruders.
So the Bag Lady got up and stumbled around, waiting for the Princess to want back in. Of course, the dog was ready to play after her invigorating foray into the -30C temperatures outside, and the cats decided that since everyone else was awake, they might as well venture outside, and pretty soon the Bag Lady realized there wasn’t a chance in hell of getting back to sleep, so she turned on the (new) coffee pot and caught up on some reading. Right about the time everyone else in the civilized world will be waking up, the Bag Lady will be ready for a nap!
In one way, it’s a good thing the Princess woke the Bag Lady because the woodstove was almost out and it gets pretty cold in the house without it. Of course, the dog has subsequently gone back to bed – in fact, that was probably the plan all along! She had to get the Bag Lady up so the Princess could take her place on the bed, rather than get back on the chair she spends the night on.
Truthfully, the Bag Lady doesn’t mind being awake so early in the morning. She has always been an early bird and enjoys the peaceful quietness of the house. She putters around, catching up on her reading, drinking coffee and thinking deep thoughts. Well, okay, maybe not so deep.
But there are still a couple hours before the sun comes up, and the Cowboy wakes up and will want to do some work around the ranch. He said something yesterday about wanting to wean the calves, so that may happen today. And if it does, it’s certainly going to spoil the peace and quiet around the ranch for a few days! Weaning is not one of the Bag Lady’s favourite times. The mothers, in spite of the fact that it must be tiresome to still be feeding calves who are tall enough to practically lift the cows off their feet, will stand at the corral fence and bawl for their babies. The babies will stand on the other side of the fence and bawl back, deprived of that nice, warm milk. This will go on for at least a couple of days, and no-one will get much rest! As soon as the cows stop producing milk, they will settle down and stop calling for their babies, and the babies will get accustomed to eating only hay and a little chop (rolled oats, or barley) and things will quiet down again.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Kidnapped Coffee

The Bag Lady had a very strange experience yesterday. She woke up early, as usual, but not as early as the Cowboy (he had to drive 2 hours to his work site, so got up at 2 in the morning). She stumbled out to the kitchen for some coffee and her coffee maker was gone! That early in the morning, it takes the Bag Lady awhile to get the fog cleared away, and she generally uses coffee as an aid, so imagine her distress.

It didn’t really take her very long to determine what had happened, though. That particular coffee maker, although it made some damned fine coffee, had a little problem. It was one of those coffee makers that you press a button with your cup and it fills the cup. No carafe. This was the third such coffee-maker that we had gone through, and, in some ways, the worst of the bunch. It had a nasty habit of intermittently allowing the coffee to run down the back side of the cup, which then ran onto the counter top and down the front of the cupboard. Annoying as hell, but because it didn’t do it all the time, the Bag Lady hadn’t gotten around to replacing the coffee-maker.

There was a thermos carafe sitting on the counter, which had coffee in it, so the Bag Lady wasn’t totally caffeine-deprived. She didn’t have time to sit around drinking coffee for long that morning anyway, as she had appointments and errands to run in town. So she drank some coffee, then jumped in the shower to prepare for her day.

After her shower and breakfast, when the sun finally came up, the Bag Lady discovered what happened to her coffee maker. It was lying in several pieces in the snow in the middle of the yard! The Cowboy had previously threatened to “throw the damned thing out the door”, so the Bag Lady wasn’t too surprised to see it lying there.

When he got home, he told her that it had gone crazy that morning (she wondered whether it was the coffee-maker or the Cowboy…). Apparently, after he filled his thermos, the coffee wouldn’t stop running; out of the pot, across the counter and down the front of the cupboard! He had grabbed the extra thermos carafe and filled it, then took the coffee maker and threw it out the door as promised!

The Bag Lady had to laugh – and thank her lucky stars that she doesn’t live in a city with neighbours who would wonder why on earth her coffee maker was lying in the middle of the yard!
So the Bag Lady has a new coffee maker. With a carafe. Enough, already.
Just another day on the ranch.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


The Bag Lady thought she'd share a couple of photos with you of some visitors she had last winter. These are not especially good photos, unfortunately, because the Bag Lady has just a little, inexpensive camera.
These are Pine Grosbeaks, who spent a good portion of last winter hanging around the Bag Lady's bird feeder. Unfortunately, there was also a herd of about 20 white-tail deer who also hung around the Bag Lady's bird feeder, so there was often nothing much left for the birds! There's also one of the evil Chickadees in one photo...can you see him?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Three Weeks and Counting

The Bag Lady just looked at the calendar and realized there are exactly three weeks until Christmas. She finds it hard to believe how fast the time is slipping away. She has it easy this year, though, because her sister-in-law is hosting the family for Christmas this year, and another sister-in-law always hosts the family for New Year's Day. The Bag Lady may not even decorate her house...well, she probably will, because she always has before, but she won't do very much. Probably just a small tree with a few ornaments. Somehow, without having to make a big dinner and have a large group of people in the house, it doesn't really feel like Christmas.
With the Cowboy's work schedule, the Bag Lady doesn't see a lot of visitors.
What about the rest of you? Do you host big Christmas parties? Do huge amounts of baking? Do you always go to grandma's house for Christmas Eve? What are your traditions?

Monday, December 3, 2007

CartSmart Bags

The Bag Lady knows that some people still aren't exactly sure what her CartSmart Bags are all about, so she has decided to do a little pictorial explanation (a picture is worth a thousand words, right?)

The feature that makes the CartSmart Bag different from all other tote bags is the fact that it can be hooked over the handle of the shopping cart, thereby helping to protect your hands from the germs found there (e-coli, salmonella, etc.) In addition to the main compartment, it has 3 interior pockets that can hold your wallet, cell phone, etc., and has an attached key ring. While you are shopping, you can keep your purse and/or extra cloth shopping bags in it, which frees up room in the cart.

There are quite a few different colours and fabrics to choose from, and the Bag Lady tries to add new colours periodically. She knows that most of us don't want to carry exactly the same thing as everyone else is carrying, so most of the bags are available for only a short time. Here are some that she has in stock right now.

You can carry quite a load of groceries in these bags:

This looks a little on the Christmasy side:

Here is the newest fabric, one that has quickly become the Bag Lady’s favourite. She was going to release this in the spring, but loves it so much she wanted to share it right away.

So there you have it. This is what the Bag Lady spends some of her time doing - in between feeding cows and taking care of the ranch and bookwork and housework and feeding the wood-stove and blogging!

Oh, and by the way, the Bag Lady designed and created these bags so she owns the copyright.

If anyone is interested in ordering a bag, email the Bag Lady at the address on the sidebar. She still might be able to get it to you before Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Got the Munchies?

The Bag Lady has come up with a new munchie mix for the Christmas season. Here's the recipe for those of you who would like to give it a try. It's a (little bit) healthier version.

Bag Lady's Blend

4 Cups Spoon-sized Whole Grain Shredded Wheat and Bran
4 Cups Multi-grain Cheerios
4 Cups Multi-grain Baked Ritz Chips
4 Cups Pretzels
1 pkg Original Bugles
1 275 g can mixed nuts

Mix in large roaster.

Mix together:
1/2 Cup melted butter
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion salt

Pour over mixture in roaster. Bake at 275 for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
Cool on paper towels. Store in covered containers.

Friday, November 30, 2007


The Bag Lady was outraged the other day to see an article on the news about a 14-year old girl who hung a whippin’ on another girl while someone stood around and video-taped it! Not only did the person who taped it do nothing to help the girl who was being beaten, they then set it to music and posted it on U-Tube!! The Bag Lady saw portions of the video-tape, and simply cannot believe that the spectators would not put a stop to such a vicious attack.
Apparently, when the attack became public, the video was removed from U-Tube, and the attacker was apprehended and charged. Fat lot of good that did the girl who was attacked. She is now living with relatives else-where, attempting to put the episode behind her.
The Bag Lady is appalled not only by the violence that was apparent in the video, but also by the fact that it occurred in a small Canadian city, in an apparently middle-class atmosphere, and that the fight was over a boy! Sheesh, there’s plenty of them around, and not one of them is worth beating someone else up over.
Seriously, though, the fact that the beating occurred was bad enough, but setting it to music and posting it on the Internet? WTF is all that about? Have society’s values slipped so low that a 14-year old girl beating the tar out of another girl is considered entertainment? Having never been a fan of either boxing or wrestling, the Bag Lady fails to see how this can be the least bit interesting to watch.
The Bag Lady is perhaps a little old-fashioned, and in truth, doesn’t watch any of the so-called ‘Reality” television, so that may have something to do with her attitude about this attack. She supposes that the ‘Reality’ craze that has swept the nation may have a great deal to do with why so few of the younger generation saw anything at all wrong with video-taping a vicious beating, setting it to music, and posting it on the web. After all, that’s what has been happening on network television! She thinks perhaps younger people fail to understand that most of what the networks pass off as ‘Reality’ is in actuality, scripted, at least to a certain degree.
What do the rest of you think? Is the Bag Lady hopelessly old-fashioned? Has her life of isolation on the ranch taken her out of touch with ‘Reality’?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Baby Pictures

The Bag Lady wants to share some photos from her gallery with you.

"What the heck...?"

"It's a mouse, I'm tellin' ya!"

The "Princess" as a youngster:

"Hey, is it windy in here...?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Have They Learned Anything?

The Bag Lady heard a story on the radio a while back about an escaped bull running wild in town. Apparently, this bull escaped from the stockyards on the north end of the city, and made his way through town. The story on the radio said the bull ended up on the south side of the city, in a stand-off with the police. The bull went on a rampage, charging vehicles and people, and the police eventually had to shoot him.

When the Cowboy came home from work, he told the Bag Lady the ‘Paul Harvey’ version of the story. Apparently, the bull had finally played out and settled down when some genius police officer decided to subdue him further with his Taser gun! Now, the Taser delivers enough voltage to temporarily immobilize a human being, but bulls generally weigh around 2000 lbs. and all that jolt of electricity did was piss the bull off, sending him into a rampage that ultimately ended in his death.

The Bag Lady wonders if that police officer learned anything. Or if anyone else involved in that incident learned anything. She also wonders why they didn’t call someone who knows how to deal with cattle to assist them in this matter. There was no need to Taser the animal, and would have been no need to shoot him if they hadn’t used the Taser in the first place. If the police had left him alone, he would have eventually settled down enough to be enticed into a stock trailer and returned to the stockyard, with a tale to impress the rest of the herd.

There was another story regarding a similar incident in the States (Ohio? Iowa? Idaho?) with a much happier ending. Seems a fellow was transporting some cows when he decided to pull into a McDonald’s drive-thru. Somehow, the trailer door came unlatched and out tumbled 6 or 8 cows. Probably trying to escape what they thought was their ultimate fate! They were eventually rounded up and returned to the trailer.

Years ago, we had a very young calf that got stepped on somehow and ended up with a broken shoulder. The Cowboy discovered the poor little thing one morning, so we hustled the calf into the truck and away to the vet they did go. The vet examined the calf, bound up his leg with some really pretty purple vet wrap, gave the cowboy some instructions for care, then sent them on their way. Now this had all happened before the cowboy had even had coffee, so he decided to hit the drive-thru at McDonald’s for a much-needed cup. Imagine the fuss when the girl working the drive-thru saw the cute little calf in the passenger seat with the purple cast! Every single employee had to come to the window to have a peek (much to the annoyance of the people in the line-up behind him!) Our famous little calf was the talk of McDonald’s AND the talk of the pasture when he showed up sporting his purple cast. He recovered very quickly and was bouncing around with his buddies in record time. Probably got tons of mileage out of the story - it either made him very popular or a laughing stock…he never would tell us. (But I digress.)

There have been several instances in the news lately of deaths related to Tasers, but the Bag Lady is pretty sure this one won’t make national news. It is just one more example of the police relying on their new-fangled equipment rather than good old-fashioned common sense. The Bag Lady is well aware that in this age of drugs and violence, the police are doing a job that not many of us would want, and she is also aware that, with the deaths of several police officers over the past few years in Canada, they are more prone to act first and ask questions later, but in the case of the bull, at least, she thinks they were just a little too eager to use the Taser. They were also pretty hasty to use the Taser in the Vancouver airport. She has seen the video (who in Canada hasn’t?!) and it appears that the police in question did not even attempt to communicate with that poor fellow. Were they afraid he was armed? He had just gotten off an airplane – what the hell kind of weapon could he possibly have been carrying?
So again, the Bag Lady wonders if the police officers involved in this and other instances of Taser use have learned anything. What has happened to the fine art of negotiation? The Bag Lady does not want to appear critical of the police – she feels that Canada has the best police force in the world – but she also feels they need to re-examine the use of Tasers in certain circumstances.
How do the rest of you feel? Should the use of Tasers be more closely regulated?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Slacking Off!

The Bag Lady was a bit of a slacker yesterday, and it sorta extended into today. She (gasp) slept in until 6:30 am! Now that may not sound like sleeping in to some of you, but for the Bag Lady it’s terribly slothful. She is usually up around 5 or 5:30 at this time of year. There is no logical reason for it, other than her body takes a little while to accommodate to the time change. She just wakes up around then. She’s an early riser. It is not at all unusual in her family. Oh, not all of her relatives are such early risers, but she has one uncle who was always up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am, and her cousin, Leah, over at The Goat's Lunch Pail is usually awake very early.

The unfortunate part of this for the Bag Lady is that even if she was up late the night before, she wakes up around her usual time. It doesn’t seem to matter if she goes to bed at 10 pm or 3 am; she’s awake around 5:30. Oh, sometimes she manages to sleep until 7 am if she’s been up really late, but that is very rare.

The Cowboy, on the other hand, suffers from sleep deprivation most of the winter. But when he has the opportunity, he can sleep. The Bag Lady envies him that ability! When he is not working, he usually wakes up around 8:30 or 9 am. That’s the time his internal alarm clock is set for.

What about the rest of you? What time is your internal alarm set for? On the days you don’t have to use an alarm, do you still wake up at the same time? Or are you lucky enough to be able to sleep in?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Winter has arrived in the Bag Lady’s neighbourhood. The little skiff of snow we had last time was just a precursor. It was fairly mild from then until now. The grass was still poking through the little patches of snow. But the temperature dropped steadily all day yesterday, and it started snowing in the late afternoon. It is still snowing this morning, and the temperature is minus 20C (-3 F). The wind is blowing, so with the wind-chill it feels more like minus 30C (around -22F). This does not make the Bag Lady very happy, but she realizes there is nothing she can do about it. Well, actually, that’s not true. She could move to warmer climes, but that is not feasible. Sigh. Looking on the bright side, winter arrived a full month earlier last year.
So the Bag Lady will distract herself with other things and try not to look outside too often! She has two orders from the craft sale that she needs to fill, and can always find something else to do.
Of course, once the sun comes up, she will have to bundle up and go out to feed the cows. And sweep the steps. This snow is of the light, feathery variety that is easily swept away.

The weather has turned the Bag Lady’s sights toward Christmas. She and the Cowboy are spending Christmas day away from the ranch, so the Bag Lady doesn’t have to do much in the way of decorating or cooking. She will do some baking – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for her without butter tarts and shortbread cookies. Perhaps that is a good project for today…

What constitutes Christmas for you? Do you love fruitcake? Or is it the sugar cookies cut into Santa Claus shapes? Gingerbread? Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for the Cowboy without his mother’s Steamed Carrot Pudding with Caramel Sauce. (That is one of his family traditions that the Bag Lady embraced with enthusiasm!) What's your favourite Christmas food?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cranky Rancher!

WARNING: This blog post contains coarse language which may be offensive to some readers. GET OVER IT!

The Bag Lady has some pet peeves she’d like to share with you. She is normally of a fairly sunny disposition; is in fact quite cheerful, but there are some things that really piss her off, and she has decided to make a list. The Bag Lady is a list-lover…in fact, she delights in making a list of the things she wants to accomplish every day just so she can put a big fat check mark beside things she has done. This also serves as a reminder the next day of all the things she didn’t get done the day before! She makes a list of things she needs to pick up at the grocery store; she has a list of things she needs to do when she goes to town. She has not yet reached the stage where she needs a list of her myriad lists, but it can’t be far off!
On to the pet peeves:

1. Leaking squirt bottles. You know the ones she means – the cleaners you spray on everything from windows to shower stalls - that always dribble that last little bit over your hand.

2. Public toilet stalls built for paper thin people. The kind where you have to straddle the toilet to get the door open. Why the f*** can’t they open out instead of in? (Actually, there are a lot more things about public toilets that annoy the Bag Lady, but this is not a toilet post!)

3. Those right-handed debit card pin-pads. For those of you who are right-handed, this isn’t going to make much sense, but the south-paws out there are nodding their heads. You swipe the card down the right-hand side of the pin-pad – try doing that with your left hand, whilst holding said pad in your right. You all know if you don’t swipe it with a nice, smooth movement, it won’t read the card properly. What genius decided that the whole world was right-handed? What’s wrong with having the swiping part across the top? It’s discrimination, that’s what it is! (Of course, the Bag Lady is quite accustomed to adjusting to the right-handed world, so she turns the pin-pad upside down. So what if the clerk looks at her funny?!)

4. Cat litter pans. Need she say more?

5. Jars of condiments that are sealed tighter than Paris Hilton’s clothes. First, there’s plastic shrink-wrapped around the lid that you usually break at least one fingernail on before you get a knife and risk slicing off a finger, then, once you get the blood stopped, there are those little paper seals UNDER the lid. Sheesh, someone might actually want to get INTO the damned bottle!
Lately the Bag Lady has noticed that the brand of bleach she buys is sealed in the same manner, but the little paper/plastic seal they put under the lid is attached with some kind of damned Super Glue – so stuck on that you have to use pliers to pull it off (a knife won’t penetrate it), then it comes undone so fast, you spill the bleach all over yourself. The Bag Lady has learned to wear protective gear when she has to open a new bottle of bleach.

6. The grammar-checking thing on Microsoft Windows. Yeah, she KNOWS it’s a fragmented sentence – she wrote it that way deliberately!

7. Those Temptation Treats for cats. If the Bag Lady had known they would turn her sweet old cat into the cat from hell, she would never have opened that free bag that came in the cat food bag! Now she has to find a 12-step program for her cat’s addiction. What the hell is IN those things, anyway?

8. Twist-off beer caps that won’t turn.

9. Clothes that suffer from closet-shrinkage. What’s with that, anyway? It fit when she hung it up in there a couple years ago…

10. Mechanical stuff going wrong. The Bag Lady can do a multitude of things, from sewing to minor household repairs, including plumbing, carpentry, etc., but she is totally inept when it comes to mechanical stuff. She just doesn’t ‘get’ it. And doesn’t want to learn, thanks anyway!

(The Bag Lady did not have the best of days yesterday. One of the hydraulic hoses on her loader exploded, spewing hydraulic fluid everywhere! Of course, it was not easy to get off, so the Bag Lady and the Cowboy were up until all hours last night, and, once they got the fire put out - seriously! - finally got the damned hose off. So the Bag Lady has to spend the day in town, hoping someone can build a new hose to replace the old one. And she is supposed to have a table in the local craft sale, and needs to get more things ready for that, and...have a good day!)

Thursday, November 22, 2007


“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now, God knows, ANYTHING GOES!” (Cole Porter)

Cole Porter wrote that song more than 50 years ago. It was true then, and is even more true today. The younger generation has always deemed it necessary to shock the older generation with their radical behaviour. From the hippies to whatever they are called these days, this has been true. (Hell, probably the cavemen were shocked at the behaviour of their cave-ettes!)
But this is not what the Bag Lady wanted to talk about today. (Good segue, right?) The Bag Lady wants to talk about manners. Etiquette. Emily Post-type stuff.
Some of you may have read the Bag Lady’s guest post over at Leah's blog back in September about the baby gift. Would it shock you to know that the Bag Lady still has not received a written thank-you for that gift?
The Bag Lady also gave a wedding gift to some neighbours back in August that has never been acknowledged. The Bag Lady wonders if customs have changed and she just didn’t get the memo?
Now the Bag Lady realizes that people lead much busier lives than ever before, and she also realizes that a lot of her ideas are rather out-dated; some may even say quaint. But surely-to-goodness, one hopes that doesn’t mean that a simple thank-you has gone out of style!

The Bag Lady was raised to appreciate and acknowledge things done for her. She says thank-you when someone holds a door open for her, or when a clerk in a store hands her her change. She also makes a point of holding doors for someone entering behind her, and has even been known to let someone with just a couple items go ahead of her in the check-out line at the grocery store. Old-fashioned? Perhaps. Drop something when you are standing close to her and she’ll pick it up for you (may take her longer than if you just did it yourself, but she gets the job done!)

She has noticed a change in the climate of the city nearest to where she lives. Alberta is oil country, and we have experienced a boom in population over the last few years. This has led to an increase in crime, unfortunately, and it also seems to have led to a decrease in manners. In previous years, the Bag Lady has had doors swing shut in her face, has had people cut in front of her in line-ups, has had parking spots stolen from under her nose. She makes a point of not going to town at night because heaven only knows what they do there after dark!
Lately, however, the oil companies have slowed their explorations around the area where the Bag Lady lives, and this has, somehow, corresponded to an increase in the courteous behaviour that was so lacking a few months ago. The Bag Lady wonders what that is all about?

There was an article in the Canadian Reader’s Digest (November, 2007) in which they tested the politeness of different cities across Canada. The most courteous city was Moncton, NB, which, by the way, is where the Bag Lady’s mother was born, not surprisingly. The least courteous city, surprisingly, was our nation’s capitol, Ottawa!
The nearest large city to the Bag Lady ranked third, and the other large city in the province where she lives ranked second, so it looks as though the Bag Lady lives in a relatively courteous province! Somehow, that doesn’t make her feel any better about not receiving thank you notes for gifts. But perhaps the Bag Lady is hopelessly old-fashioned and a little out of touch.

What about the area where you live? Are people courteous and polite? Or do they let doors swing shut in your face, or perhaps do even worse things? What about simple things like thank-you notes? Is that a custom that has gone out of style? The Bag Lady certainly hopes not.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And Another Thing....

The Bag Lady has been busy today with 'real life' things. She had to run into town for appointments and deliveries and errands.

But she wanted to share some very important, albeit sad news with you. Leah, over at The Goat's Lunch Pail, has suffered a tragic loss. Her computer committed suicide, and Leah is devastated. She will have her blog back up and running as soon as she is finished with the final arrangements, the funeral, etc. and has found a suitable replacement. (in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the charity of one's choice.) She misses you all terribly, though, so will continue to try to make contact through the library! (also, I think we are busted as far as the story we wrote in her comments section...uh oh!)

The Bag Lady also wants to update you on her email pal, Jerry. She got an email from him telling her that he has come through purgatory, (his words) and is holding his own. This makes the Bag Lady very happy, and wishes Jerry and his family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The Bag Lady doesn't have much else to share today, but knows that quite a few of her faithful readers are celebrating their Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, so she would like to wish all of them a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, just in case they are too busy with their holiday celebrations tomorrow to check out the fabulous post she has in mind for tomorrow!

Busy Day

The Bag Lady regrets that she doesn't have time this morning to actually post anything of interest. She hopes all of you will forgive her her slackitude and visit later on today, when she will be posting something exciting and informative (HA), after she finishes the important business and errands she can't avoid! If you are really suffering from Bag Lady- withdrawal, you can check out all the interesting and informative previous posts on this site (tee hee)!
See ya later!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You Oughta Be in Pictures...

A couple of years ago, the Cowboy and the Bag Lady were sitting around, having a beer with friends, when the Cowboy suddenly piped up that he needed to go to the Big City. Now the Bag Lady is accustomed to, if nothing else, being occasionally surprised by her cowboy, so she asked why he needed to go to the Big City.
“I want to be in a movie.”
“Don’t we all…but why do you need to go to the Big City?”
“So I can be in a movie.”
And on it went, until finally the Cowboy confessed he had been watching the news one night and they had a story about a Western being shot in the city, and that there was a casting call for extras the next day.
So, off they went the next day. The casting call was on all day, and when they arrived at around 4 in the afternoon, the 4-person deep line-up snaked through the lobby of the huge hotel, out the door and almost the entire city block around the building! The Cowboy, needless to say, was slightly taken aback, and immediately discouraged.
The Bag Lady, on the other hand, after sitting in a vehicle for almost 5 hours, really needed to use the privy! She had no experience in the movie business, but she did have some experience with casting calls, so she marched up to the person holding a clipboard in front of the door and asked what the procedure was. She was told that even the casting company was surprised at the turn-out and had just then decided that they were going to have to hand out sheets to be filled out and mailed in.
So the Bag Lady found the woman handing out the sheets, got the instructions (used the privy!) and away the two of them went, off home again. They were in the Big City approximately 20 minutes! (On the road 9 hours, mind you!)
Once home, they took some photos, filled out the sheet and mailed it in. Eventually, the casting call and the Cowboy’s desire to be in a movie slipped to the backs of their minds.

Many months later, while sitting around drinking beer with (different) neighbours, the phone rang. The fellow nearest to the phone snatched it up and answered with some smart-ass remark. The smile on his face quickly turned into amazement, and he handed the phone to the cowboy, saying “It’s the movie company…”
Turns out the Cowboy had been chosen as an extra for the movie! Out of the 30-some-thousand people who had shown up for the casting call! Away he went to the Big City for a costume fitting, and was told to expect a call sometime soon. In due time, the call came and away he went. They were filming a night shot, on a train. As is often the case in the movie business (apparently), the extras spent a lot of time sitting around, waiting. They were finally called to the train, and the cowboy ambled along whilst other, more experienced extras raced past him. In the mad rush, a little old lady was knocked off her feet, so the cowboy stopped and helped her up, retrieved her cane, dusted her off and ushered her to the train.
Unbeknownst to the cowboy, this act of common courtesy was to be his undoing. There were far too many extras for the scene being shot, so the cowboy lost out on being in the scene.
When he finally arrived home at 6 in the morning, after driving all night, he told the Bag Lady that he was thoroughly disgusted with the “movie business” and especially the crass behavior of the other extras. He wasn’t raised that way, and couldn’t believe they would treat a little old lady with such disrespect. Off to bed he went.
A couple hours later, the phone rang and the Bag Lady answered it. It was the casting company, asking if the cowboy could return to the set that night for another segment they were shooting. The Bag Lady told the woman she would pass along the message. When the Cowboy woke up, he was duly informed, and after a little prodding and some consideration, decided that, okay, he would try again. So back to the city he drove (remember, this was a 4 and a half hour drive, one way).
The Bag Lady was quite relieved when the Cowboy arrived home in a euphoric mood the next day. This had been a totally different experience. There were only a few extras because they were shooting exteriors of the train. They just needed a few faces at the windows.
The best part of the night, he explained had come after the shoot. The entire cast was fed in a mess tent, and when he entered the tent, one of the costume ladies brought him his rather distinctive cowboy hat, with some line about how the bowler hat they had given him to wear for the scene didn’t suit him and he should have his own hat. A few minutes later, he realized why they had given him his own hat when one of the stars of the movie approached him and told him he wanted to shake the hand of the man who lost his place on the train because he stopped to help a little old lady! To this day, the cowboy doesn’t really know how Sam Sheppard learned of the event, but it was pretty cool that he acknowledged the Cowboy's actions. And yes, ladies, he met Brad Pitt, too!

The Bag Lady really is about to make a point here…the movie finally came out, and it was showing in town, so the Bag Lady and the Cowboy and several members of their extended family attended the movie the other night. We’ll have to buy the DVD in order to be certain, but the Bag Lady was pretty positive that she saw a newspaper being held in one of the windows of the train, and the Cowboy was the only one with a newspaper for a prop.

As far as a review of the movie goes, you’ll have to get that from somewhere else. The Bag Lady is no movie critic, and she isn’t about to ruin it for anyone else. Suffice it to say that by half-way through the movie, the Bag Lady was ready to shoot him herself, just to get to get the damned thing over with! YAWN!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ranching Tutorial

(Come an' listen to a story 'bout a....)

The Bag Lady wants to share a small portion of her workday with you (hope you’re interested…if not, you are excused!)
She ordinarily does not take her camera with her when she feeds cows, but she did just this once so she could give you a better idea of what she is talking about. She tried not to make it too realistic…if there is poop in the photos, it was unintentional, really! (Unfortunately, it is difficult to avoid in the pasture!)
So, slip into your rubber boots and grab your coat; here we go!
Here we have picked up the bale with the loader and are ready to transport it to the pasture.

This is what the inside of the loader looks like (do you feel like you are driving?)

Here we have to get out and cut off the strings.

Like this, see?

Okay, let’s dump this bale into the feeder.

Mission accomplished:

Most days, the Bag Lady spreads the hay out on the ground for the cows, but the loader has been a little balky lately, so she filled a couple feeders for insurance. Here is what it usually looks like. (the Bag Lady did this just before you got here so you wouldn't have to deal with the cows milling around! It can be scary if you aren't used to it.):

This calf has decided this looks like a good place to lie down.

Make sure the gate is shut when we’re done, would ya?

Hope you all enjoyed your foray into the ranching world!

(Ya'all come back now, ya hear?)

Friday, November 16, 2007


The Bag Lady is having a bad computer day, so instead of a real post, she thought she would share with you her work-space! This is the desk she built herself to replace the mishmash of computer desk, rolling microwave oven cart, filing cabinet and various bookshelves she used to have. She thought it would help keep her more organized.

Of course, she was wrong - it no longer looks this neat and tidy, because the Bag Lady is pathologically messy. (and yes, she did build it all by herself.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh, No...Snow!

The Bag lady had a post written for today about cattle and ranching, but when she woke up this morning it was snowing. So she changed her mind about that post. The Bag Lady hates winter. She doesn’t like the cold, although the last few years it hasn’t been nearly as cold as it could have been. And it occasionally serves a purpose on those days when the hot flashes drive her around the bend. (Just step outside for a minute and cool off!)

The Bag Lady doesn’t know why she lives here in the winter. She doesn’t ski, or snow-shoe, or skate, or even curl (which seems to her the second most boring game invented, next to golf). The only good thing about snow is that you can use it in biscuits in place of eggs. If you ever run out of eggs and want to make biscuits, use 2 tablespoons of snow for each egg…
Just about the time she starts looking at real estate somewhere warm, she remembers the summers here and hesitates. Her mother always said “He who hesitates is lost”, and that’s what happens. The Bag Lady starts thinking about the 20 hour-long days in June (and conveniently forgets the helicopter-sized mosquitoes) and decides to stick it out one more year. She knows that the warm places don’t have those long, long summer days, where it doesn’t get dark until almost midnight; then the sun starts streaking the sky pink at 3 in the morning. Where the northern sky has a glow for those 4 short hours, and, if the full moon happens to coincide with the summer solstice, it doesn’t really seem to get dark at all!

But that is half a year away, and it is snowing and dark outside. Conversely, at the winter solstice, the sun seems to rise about noon and set at 3, but of course, that isn’t really true. It gets light after 9 am and is dark again by 5. This is the time of year that the Bag Lady finds depressing. Mind you, the last few years, she starts getting depressed around the first part of July because she knows it’s all downhill from there! The days are getting shorter, and the cowboy keeps reminding her that the summer is almost over…

The Bag Lady knows that she will eventually get accustomed to the weather, sort of. She will never like it, though. She will have to force herself to leave the house every day. She knows there will be warm winter days, when the sun shines so brilliantly off the snow that it can cause blindness. She knows that the crisp air will fill her lungs and taste as sweet as an apple. She knows there will be days when the frost covers everything with a glittering coat of diamonds, and the snow crunches underfoot. There will be days when the snow squeaks under the cows’ hooves and you can see their breath rising like smoke. There will also be warm days when the Chinook winds blow down from the mountains, melting the snow and shaping it into dunes and waves; making a treacherous crust of ice everywhere. And there will be days when the sky is such an incredible shade of blue it seems to make the snow even whiter. Or is it the whiteness of the snow that makes the sky seem bluer?

The Bag Lady knows that there will be picture-perfect days, and there will be horrible, dark days when the clouds roll in and it seems the snow will never stop falling, and hey, didn’t my car used to be there under that snowbank somewhere? But she also knows that eventually it will melt, and it will be muddy and horrible, and the world will be reborn.

Perhaps that is why she lives here. What's it doing in your world today?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Ranching

The Bag Lady had a very busy day yesterday. She had a doctor’s appointment in the morning in town, so decided to try to squeeze every errand possible into her day. The radio (the real one, not the one in her head) was reporting that the roads were in very poor winter driving condition due to the freezing rain and snow we had experienced the night before, so she left early, giving herself lots of time. Luckily, the sanding trucks had been out, so the highway was not bad. The city streets were also not too bad, but the sidewalks and parking lots in some places were terribly treacherous. The Bag Lady saw a woman go flat on her back in the WalMart parking lot! (The woman seemed to be okay, and refused the Bag Lady’s offer of help)
So the Bag Lady went to her doctor’s appointment and learned about the digestive system (Eat Lots and Lots of Fiber – Fiber is your friend!). The best thing to come out of her doctor’s visit is that the very nice lady doctor ordered four CartSmart bags for her four daughters! One of said bags is going to Australia!
Then the Bag Lady did some banking and went to the Post Office to mail a parcel to New York. Canada Post has many different ways to mail parcels, each more expensive than the last. There’s ground mail, which must still be by team and wagon (the parcel would get there sometime in 2008; no guarantees). Then there is air mail, at least 12 days to New York from here; the Bag Lady assumes ‘by air’ means hot air balloon, so quite dependent on the prevailing winds. Then there was expedited air which Guarantees 12 days (twelve days? For across the country? Sheesh, the SARS virus got here from China in one day!!) The last was express air, which, judging by the cost, the lady behind the counter was going to deliver personally! And really enjoy herself along the way, because that was guaranteed to arrive in only 6 days. After her puzzling experience at the post office, the Bag Lady did some marathon grocery shopping, then headed for home.
Once home, she discovered that the Cowboy had not been idle while she was gone, and after jamming her groceries any-old-way into cupboards and refrigerator, she rushed out to help bring the cows home from summer pasture.
We had tried to walk them home on the weekend as they were pastured less than a mile from home, but our well-trained cows would not go through the hole we cut in the fence! Cows are funny. If they had knocked that fence down themselves, we would have been rounding up all of them off the highway. But since we actually wanted them to go through the fence and across the highway, there was not a chance they would. Oh, a couple of the braver cows did actually go onto the pavement and start down the gravel road towards home, but most of them balked. So we had a change of plan.

Once we got the cows hauled home in the stock trailer, we let them out with the cows that had stayed home for the summer. Of course, we have two bulls, and when they became re-acquainted in the pasture, they had to have a fight. This is not at all uncommon (something to do with testosterone…) but sheesh, they could have waited until they were away from the fence! They managed to wreck a quarter-mile of fence, so the Cowboy and the Bag Lady had to fix fence in the cold wind.
Today the Cowboy had to go back to work, so the Bag Lady has to check the fence in the north pasture and repair any damage she finds. This will be a nice, mile-long walk, carrying the fencing tools, so she’s hoping the sun will be shining and that there isn’t too much damage.
Just another day on the ranch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

With a Song in My... Head?

Terrie Farley Moran made a comment yesterday that every time she reads the Bag Lady’s blog, songs from old western movies start running through her head.
This comment got the Bag Lady thinking about how often that happens to her. Some days it seems as though anything and everything anyone says to her reminds her of a song. A chance phrase, sometimes even just a couple of words start another sound loop in her head. In fact, it is almost as though she has a radio running up there all the time. Someone will say something, and the radio changes channels. Fortunately, there’s no deejay up there, babbling some inane nonsense in between the songs. Then she really would worry! Someone will say tomato, and, presto, “You Say Tomayto and I Say Tomahto” starts up. Or they say corn and suddenly “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” is goin’ on.
Does this happen to anyone else? Some days it drives the poor Bag Lady crazy. There are days she hears a song on the radio and it gets stuck in her head and runs there all day. And it’s usually a song she Doesn’t Even Like! She has learned NOT to turn the radio off when they play a song she doesn’t like because that will guarantee that it will be stuck there for the rest of the day!
Her cell phone plays “Camptown Racetrack”, so it’s a good thing it rings so seldom. She chose that song because no one else in their right mind would use it, so she always knows it is HER phone ringing! The only drawback, of course, is that on the rare occasion that her phone rings, she’s stuck with “doodah, doodah” for the rest of the day!
The Bag Lady used to think that she was the only person this happened to, and blamed it on her musical background. She has had other people tell her that they get songs stuck in their heads, too, but what she wonders is; do other people have a musical soundtrack going all the time? It seems as though there is almost never a moment when the Bag Lady doesn’t have a song in her head. It’s like living in a 1940’s musical where everything was set to music. Strangely enough, a lot of the songs that pop into her head with certain words or phrases are from Broadway musicals. Some of the tunes are pretty obscure, too. Years ago when the Bag Lady was doing theatre, she was in a production of “A Little Night Music”; so every time someone says they are planning a Weekend in the Country, THAT song starts running in her head.
So, is the Bag Lady alone in this situation? Do any of you have your own personal radio? And is there a 12-step program for this?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cooking in a Dutch Oven

How to cook in a Dutch oven over a campfire:

1. Start a fire.

2. Have a beer.

3. Re-light fire.

4. Have another beer.

5. Feed fire.

Okay, enough silliness. You need a really good coal-bed to cook in a Dutch oven. You also need a really good cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. The best ovens have three stubby little feet and a slightly domed lid with a lip. They come in a variety of sizes from about 8 inches across to 16 inches across.
Now, cast iron needs to be seasoned, and most cast-iron implements come with instructions on how to do this. If yours didn’t come complete with instructions, the easiest way to season any cast-iron is to wipe it with oil or shortening, completely covering the cooking surface, then heat it in a warm oven for an hour or so. Wipe off the excess oil. When storing it, make sure it is well greased, and store it somewhere it will stay dry. Once it is seasoned, try never to wash it. Just wipe it clean with a dry rag or paper towel. If you have cooked something really sticky in it, you can fill it with water and boil it, then wipe it dry. Remember to grease it again. Never pour cold water into a hot oven – it will warp.
You can cook almost anything in a Dutch oven over an open fire. Stew, beans, cake, biscuits…I’ve heard of them being used for everything from deep-frying to baking pie. To use it for things like deep-frying, you need some way to hang it over the fire. If you plan on baking a cake, or biscuits, you set it into the coal bed, and pile coals on top of the lid to surround it with heat. This is a very fast method of cooking, so you have to pay attention. The first time the Bag Lady tried baking biscuits; she settled back with her beer and left them, without checking them, for the full amount of time, only to discover she had manufactured hockey pucks - colour and all!
The easiest way to hang your oven is to drive a couple metal posts into the ground on either side of your fire, then rest another post across these with some hooks for hanging your pots. To cook this way, your pots should be hanging approximately 12 – 16 inches above the fire.
You also need some type of implement to handle your pots and lids, called a goncho, or pothook. These can be made of twisted wire, or strap iron. Even a stout green limb with a stub of a fork can be used in a pinch.
(The Bag Lady couldn't find any pictures of her actually cooking with her Dutch oven, but the photo at left does show the apparatus the Cowboy constructed for hanging the pots.)
The best wood for cooking fires is a hardwood – oak is great, but hard to come by in some areas. Poplar and aspen are plentiful in this neck of the woods, though not the greatest for cooking. But you have to make do with what you have.
Once you have a good bed of coals, it’s time to start cooking. Warm your oven – pre-heat the lid, too – then grease it, and cover the bottom of the oven with biscuits. Put the lid on, then set your oven on a level bed of coals. Pile coals up along the sides of the oven, and fill the lid to the rim with coals. Use your goncho to remove the lid to check on things, but be careful not to spill ashes on your food. Rotate the lid when you replace it.
If your biscuits are browning too fast on the top, remove the lid and dump your coals; replace the lid. If they are browning too fast on the bottom, lift the whole oven off the coals. The biscuits will finish cooking in the hot oven.
This is a quick, basic, rather simplified lesson in the art of Dutch oven cooking. (The Bag Lady likes quick, basic, simple instructions!)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Recipe Day

Leah over at The Goat's Lunch Pail did a post the other day about dry goods that food bank recipients refuse because they don’t know what to do with them. The Bag Lady then bragged about her easy and delicious recipe for Beans and Pork, and promised to post it. She didn’t get around to posting it yesterday, as Bunnygirl so delicately reminded her, so here it is!

Beans and Pork

2 Cups white beans
1 lb bacon*, chopped
2 chopped green onions
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt**
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Cup catsup
*the Bag Lady uses bacon ends
**the Bag Lady reduces the salt to 1 tsp

1 pm*** – rinse beans in cold water, discard shriveled beans. In 8-quart Dutch oven, over high heat, bring beans and 8 cups of water to boiling. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans.
In same Dutch oven, fry bacon and onions ‘til bacon browns. Drain most of the fat. Add beans, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and 4 cups of water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add catsup, heat to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer half an hour. (These are even better the next day, and you can freeze the left-overs.)

***If you start around 1 pm, they will be ready for supper. The Bag Lady serves these with a salad and fresh home made bread (or biscuits). Or Indian Frybread, if you aren’t at all concerned about calories, or your cholesterol levels or any of that other health-related stuff…

Indian Frybread

2 Cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp shortening
1 1/2 Cups milk
1 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients – add shortening and work with hands ‘til crumbly. Add milk and mix. Turn out onto floured board. Knead. Avoid using too much flour. Pat out round and flat (1/4 inch thick). Poke hole in middle of round*. Fry in hot oil, turning once, approximately 1 ½ minutes per side. Drain on paper towel. The Bag Lady uses a heavy cast-iron skillet for these, and makes her rounds slightly smaller than the skillet. The Frybread should be a nice, golden brown colour. Watch it closely as it will burn quickly. (*The hole in the middle is very important as an escape for the oil.)

Both of these are terrific for camping – we cook our Frybread over an open campfire. Damn, now the Bag Lady wishes it was July instead of November!!

Have you ever had biscuits cooked in a real Dutch oven in a campfire? Absolutely delicious. If anyone is interested in learning how to cook in a Dutch oven over a campfire, I can post about that another day.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Special Request Post

Twice in one day!! This is a "Twinsie" post, just for Crabby (refer to today's earlier post for links to Crabby's blog, Cranky Fitness, and to Reb's blog, Sibu Pegasus Power - which will explain what is going on here...)

Can you tell who is older from either of these photos? In the first photo, the Bag Lady is on the right and Reb is on the left, in the second photo, the order is reversed.

The Wonders of Word

Okay, the Bag Lady is going to do some experimenting in this post. She feels rather inadequate because it seems as though every other blogger out there has no problem creating links to other people’s blogs. Well, it just wasn’t working for the Bag Lady, so she decided to try to learn how.
Crabby, over at Cranky Fitness, gave her detailed instructions, but the Bag Lady still couldn’t do it that way. Oh, the link seemed to be there, but it didn’t look the way the Bag Lady wanted. Something still wasn’t right.
Reb, over at Sibu Pegasus Power, also gave the Bag Lady helpful pointers, but nada.
Then Leah, over at The Goat's Lunch Pail tried to help, too. The Bag Lady started to feel totally incompetent. Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be – no linking from the Bag Lady to all her friends.
Well, the Bag Lady wasn’t going to take this lying down, so she opened her trusty Microsoft Word program and started looking around. “Well, what the heck is that little icon?” she asked herself.
So she clicked on it and started experimenting. Well, looky here…she discovered how to link to Hilary at The Smitten Image.
Now she’s hoping you will all check out Terrie and friends over at Women of Mystery, too!
So this is all well and good…she’s still in her Word program and everything looks just the way she wanted. But will it all stay this way? Guess she’ll find out soon. The last time she tried something fancy in Word, it wouldn’t translate when she tried to paste it onto her blog.
So hopefully this will work, and all her loyal readers can now check each other out!

(By Jove, I think she's got it!!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Nature or Choice?

The cowboy has asked the Bag Lady many times, “How can you be so f***ing cheerful in the morning?”

This makes the Bag Lady wonder how someone can NOT be cheerful in the morning. She is cheerful most of the time. Perhaps she is too dumb to know that she shouldn’t be cheerful. In fact, her mother was fond of telling people that when the Bag Lady was a baby (of course, she wasn’t called the Bag Lady then – she knows you’ll be shocked to discover she has a different name!) when she was a baby, her mother never knew when she was awake because she never cried. Hmm, perhaps there IS something wrong with her! Actually, she made up for that in her angst-filled teen years, according to her brother. HE accused her of being hyper-sensitive, which upset her all the more until she figured out what that big word meant.

The Bag Lady has quite a happy nature, but she also made a conscious choice years ago to strive to be easy to get along with, to have a positive outlook and, for the most part, to ignore the negative. She does not always achieve this, mind you; she’s cheerful, not a total idiot! She has a dark side to her nature, too, but she chooses to keep it to herself most of the time.

Now, she wonders how her blogging relatives will respond to this post. Do they see her as cheerful? Hmmm.

The Bag Lady must have an open, honest countenance, though. She is the lady in the supermarket that strangers talk to. Almost everyone smiles at her (perhaps she’s funnier-looking than she realizes), and she is always surprised when total strangers speak to her. Case in point: she was in the baking goods aisle one day when a young, 20-something woman walked up to her and asked her if she had a recipe for fruit dip. Now, as it happens, the Bag Lady does have an absolutely fabulous, simple recipe for fruit dip, but what she doesn’t understand is how this young girl knew that the Bag Lady would! Does the Bag Lady look like she throws fabulous parties? Or does she just look like she must have a lot of recipes for really Good Things (Martha, eat your heart out…)

But I digress.
What the Bag Lady wants to know is this: how much of being cheerful is nature, and how much is choice? Are you cheerful most of the time? Or do you make an effort to appear to be cheerful? Or do you go around, bitchin’ and moanin’ about your plight, growling at anyone in the vicinity, making everyone else’s life miserable? And if you do this, does it make you happy?
Just wondering.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Guessing Game

Okay, most of you have by now figured out that the Bag Lady has a couple of relatives who are also blogging - her cousin, Leah, has a blog named The Goat's Lunch Pail, and her sister, Reb, has a blog called SibuPegasusPower. (Unfortunately, the Bag Lady still can't figure out how to link to those day, perhaps.)

So here's a little game for you.

Can you figure out from this picture who is who?

Sorry it isn't the best photo of the girl on the back of the pony...

Post your guesses in the comment section.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ranching, Again

The Bag Lady hasn’t always been a rancher. (I know, I know, it’s a shock, but get back on your chair, you can’t read your screen from the floor!)
Once upon a time, the bag lady wasn’t even a bag lady (but that is another story for another day)! She was just your average, everyday city girl who worked in an office, lived in a city (a small city, but nevertheless; there was pavement and all the trappings of civilization), ate in restaurants, ran to the corner store if she needed a loaf of bread or a jug of milk – in other words, she led a normal city life. Oh, sure, she went camping occasionally, and had lots of relatives with farms, so she wasn’t totally unacquainted with country life, but she was pretty much citified. She even wore dresses and high heels and jewelry occasionally.
Then she met her cowboy and her life changed. Oh, not all at once. It was gradual, and actually quite painless, for the most part. First to go were the dresses and high heels. Jeans and sneakers were more practical – it’s next to impossible to chase a cow through the bush in a dress and heels! Then she had to learn how to fix a barbed wire fence. Barbed wire fences have to be tight because cows have a sixth sense about these things. If there’s one single small inch of a weak spot in a 10-mile long fence, they’ll find it, and the next thing you know, the neighbour is calling ‘cause he’s suddenly got a lot of live lawn ornaments dropping fertilizer everywhere!
One of the proudest days of her life was when her father-in-law was astonished that she knew how to tighten a barbed wire fence with a claw-hammer! He didn’t think a city girl would have a clue about that. And she hadn’t until a few days prior, when her cowboy “learned her how”.
She has learned to recognize when a cow is getting close to calving, how to tell if a granary full of oats is heating, how to drive a tractor and a wheel-loader, and how to open a wire gate. She has chased cows in all kinds of weather, has strung barbed wire for miles of fence, and driven a tractor pulling a haybine to cut hay. She has shoveled shit, carried pails full of water or oats, and doctored sick calves.
She has also learned what is important in life. Having the latest technological gadget or the newest style of running shoes is not even on the page. Without farmers to provide the rest of the world with food, having the latest Ipod won’t mean a thing. Your Ipod won’t feed you or keep you alive. It may help some people keep their sanity, but without the lowly farmer, the world will starve.
The Bag Lady suspects there are children in the big cities who think their food is produced in the grocery stores. In fact, the Bag Lady suspects there are some adults in some of the large cities who think that, too! In a way, she feels sorry for the city folk who never get a chance to experience the joy of watching a calf take his first wobbly steps, or watching the sunrise when you are totally alone except, of course, for the birds and wildlife.
Ranching is hard work, but it is fulfilling. We will never be rich – in fact, most farmers and ranchers have to work off the farm to make ends meet. But we will keep at it because we love it, and somebody has to do it.
So the next time you venture outside the city and see some poor hayseed driving his rusty old pick-up truck, give him a nod or a wave to show your appreciation for playing his part in feeding this nation!