Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Family Stuff

Well, the Bag Lady has been quite a slacker this week. Due to the cold weather, the Cowboy has been home, which has distracted her slightly, and her computer has been acting up a little, too. The Cowboy is back to work today, and her computer seems to have resolved its sulkiness (a little, anyway), so she really has no excuse left.

She got a call from a distant cousin yesterday who is writing an article for a history book for the area where her ancestors settled about a hundred years ago. The Bag Lady spent a lot of time a few years ago doing family tree research on the Internet, and has become the unofficial family historian. So she didn’t get around to writing another post yesterday as promised. She did manage to upload a few more old family photos into her computer, though, so will share some of those with you. (actually, she will share only one with you because she can't get the rest to load - don't know if it's Blogger's fault or her computer...sigh)

Her great-grandmother, who she admires greatly, was a Crockett. Eliza Read was the youngest of nine children born to Jonathon and Jane Crockett. Two of her siblings migrated along with her to Canada from Nebraska in the early 1900’s: her sister Susannah Palmer, and her sister Cora Shively, (whose twin sister, Clara Thomas stayed in the States). Some time later, their sister Clara came for a visit and this photo was taken.

(left to right: the twins, Cora & Clara, Suzie, Eliza)

The Bag Lady is easily distracted by family tree research, and would dearly love to find more information about the rest of Eliza’s siblings. She had a sister named Ada, who married Marcelus Yaw and disappeared from the records shortly thereafter. Eliza also had a brother named Angus, who married a woman named Alice. The Bag Lady did have a photo of Angus and Alice and their children, but can’t find it right now…sigh. (she really needs to get her papers organized…)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Weather Report

The cold has abated, slightly. It is only -34C (around -28F) with the windchill this morning. The Bag Lady is getting a little bit of cabin fever, though. Even her computer doesn't like the cold weather and is slower than normal (which was really, really slow to begin with!)

She will produce a proper post a little later on today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Still Cold!

(factoring in the wind-chill this morning, it was -54 -- the coldest it's been here in a very long time!)

Something Bunnygirl said in my comments section yesterday set me to thinking. She remarked that people lived in this area years ago, before the advent of electricity and all our modern conveniences, and wondered how they fared. They must have been made of tougher stuff than we are nowadays!
The Bag Lady was fortunate that by the time she was old enough to pay attention, her parents had moved to a city. So the Bag Lady didn’t experience first-hand the hardships of living in the country without the amenities we all take so much for granted now. But the Cowboy (who is a little older than the Bag Lady, tee hee) did grow up without electricity or running water.
His father built a square-timbered house on the land that he homesteaded in the 1940’s, and that house is where the Cowboy grew up. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, square-timbered houses are built of logs cut on all four sides to make them fit together more uniformly. Lots of homesteaders built these kinds of homes – my grandfather built one, too (in 1929) that is still standing, and is just as solid as the day it was built.
Before the advent of electricity and forced-air furnaces, one had to be well-prepared to face a long, cold winter. You had to ensure you had a big pile of dry wood cut and stacked in order to feed your woodstove. You used a woodstove for cooking and for heat. Woe betide the poor homesteader who didn’t lay in his wood supply.
You used your woodstove to melt snow for water, too. Most wood-burning cookstoves had a reservoir somewhere at the back to hold water, so you had a ready supply of hot water.
Having never experienced any of this, these are stories the Bag Lady has heard from her cowboy and his mother. His mother was a tough little woman. She fed cows and took care of all the day-to-day chores of running the farm while her husband was working in a logging camp. She was usually alone for weeks at a time, tending the animals, taking care of her children and keeping everything in working order. She had to make the trek to the dugout that supplied the animalswith drinking water everyday in order to chop an opening in the ice. She chopped wood, carried square bales of hay to the animals morning and night, melted snow for water, did all her cooking on a wood-burning stove, and did laundry by hand, heating the water on the stove.
Storing food was a challenge. Most homes had some form of root cellar where they kept things like potatoes, carrots and onions that they grew in their gardens. Some meat could be stored in an unheated area in the winter. A lot of meat was either canned or salted to preserve it
Life in those days was a lot of hard work. Women worked from sun-up to sun-down. In the winter, they worked to keep the house warm and clean, and to put food on the table; in the summer, they worked in the fields alongside the men, as well as in their gardens, and still worked to keep their homes clean and the meals cooked. They planted their gardens, harvested their gardens and preserved the food from their gardens. They kept a few chickens for eggs, a few pigs, had a milk cow (that had to be milked morning and night) made their own butter, made their own bread, cooked every meal from scratch (no drive-thru at McDonalds!), did laundry by hand on a scrub-board, and in their spare time, did their sewing or knitting or crocheting.
There are probably things that the Bag Lady has forgotten to mention, but that will give you an idea of what our ancestors did in order to stay alive. We should all take a moment to give thanks to all those tough, hard-working pioneer women, without whom this country would never have been settled!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Holy c-c-c-crap, it’s c-c-c-cold!! Yesterday was -28C (around -20F), but with the wind chill, it was -43 (roughly the same, whichever way you look at it!). It didn’t warm up much, either. This morning, there is no wind, but the temperature has plummeted to -42! This is the kind of weather that makes the Bag Lady question her sanity. Why does she live here?

She didn’t do much of anything yesterday. Chopped some firewood and brought it into the house. Then spent most of the day curled up close to the woodstove with her nose in a book.

Books have always been an important part of the Bag Lady’s life. She remembers in junior high school when she discovered one of her favourite authors. The librarian at the school was a rather crotchety woman who seemed to be extremely old. She was very strict about maintaining silence in her library, and managed to control all those young teenagers with a look.

One day, the shy young Bag Lady was wandering around in the library, reveling in the smell of the books, trying to choose something to read. There were no other children in the library, and Mrs. W. was in a reasonably good mood. She finally asked the youngster what type of book she liked to read. Uncertain of how to answer, the Bag lady mumbled something about mysteries. Mrs. W. pointed her in the direction of the fiction section, and told her to try one of the books by Mary Stewart. Mrs. W. confided that Mary Stewart was one of her own personal favourite authors, and she was sure that the Bag Lady would enjoy her books. Thus began a life-long love affair with Mary Stewart’s eloquent prose. The Bag Lady became a devoted fan, and eventually purchased every one of Mary Stewart’s books that she could find. This also set the pattern for the Bag Lady’s desire to collect all the books written by certain authors. She has almost all of the books Agatha Christie ever wrote, and collects everything she can find by authors like Jonathan Kellerman, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Sharyn McCrumb, Robert Crais, Dick Francis….the list goes on and on.

The Bag Lady keeps all her books, too. At the rate that she devours them, she can’t afford hardcovers, but has paperbacks in almost every room in her house. In fact, the only rooms without bookshelves are the bathrooms. And she may have to start putting them there, too! She reads her favourites again and again, and always has at least one book on the go.

So thanks, Mrs. W., for introducing the Bag Lady to the wonderful world of fiction.

The Bag Lady finished the latest Linda Fairstein yesterday. She will have to root around in the bookshelves for something for the continuing cold snap. What else is there to do when it’s cold enough outside to freeze exposed flesh in under 2 minutes? Stoke up the fire and settle in with a good book!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Here's Something Weird...

The Bag Lady realized something today. Because she is referring to herself constantly in the third person, she doesn’t really feel accountable for the statements she makes!! So she can say things about how she wants to lose weight and get into better shape, but she doesn’t do anything about it because it isn’t really her! (Does that make sense?) So, here goes:

I would like to get into better shape, so to that end, I am going to start an exercise program and watch my caloric intake. There, I said it. I am giving myself 3 months; by the end of which I would like to be in better shape, and weigh at least 20 lbs less. I am making myself a promise. And I expect at least a couple of you to help hold me to my promise! Keep asking me how I’m doing with it, because this post is a one-time thing – I am probably not going to post progress reports. I am much too ashamed to admit how much I weigh right now! I may occasionally post something about how many pounds I have lost, but don’t count on it.

This post will self-destruct in a couple hours!

Friday, January 25, 2008

More Reminiscing

It's Robert Burns Day!

Slaandjivaa! (to your health)

All over the world, there will be celebrations honouring the Scottish poet.

The Bag Lady's parents never missed a Rabbie Burns Night - in fact, the Bag Lady's father was, on several occasions, given the honour of piping in the haggis.

The Bag Lady's father was not Scottish. His father was Swedish, but his mother may have had some Scottish blood. In the case of Robert Burns, though, blood isn't everything!

The picture to the left is the best the Bag Lady could find (in her haste) of her father playing the pipes. This was obviously not at a Rabbie Burns night, but you get the idea. The Bag Lady's father learned to play the pipes in his 'later' years, and played in a pipe band, but was also asked to play the pipes for weddings, funerals, in parades and for many other occasions.

The Bag Lady hopes you all have a great weekend, and remember to lift a wee dram in honour of Robert Burns tonight. She leaves you with a famous Scottish toast:

"Here's tae us;
Who's like us?
Damn few,
And they're a' deid!!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back in the Day

Living in the country has it's advantages and it's disadvantages. Many years ago, there was no electricity, no running water, no telephone. People made their own entertainment. One of the more popular forms of entertainment were community get-togethers. Barn-raisings, weddings, box-lunches. And community dances. There were no DJ's, no electric guitars. If you were lucky enough to live in a community with a musical family, they often would play music for dances. In the late 1930's and early 1940's, the Bag Lady's father's family was that musical family. The four youngest boys played at the community functions. Occasionally, if there was a piano in the hall, their mother would play with them.

Everyone in the community would attend these social functions. From grandparents to babies, people would come for miles. There would be tons of food, all prepared at home and carried carefully to the hall. The dances would go on well into the night - it was such a long trip for some of the folks that they might as well make it worth their while! The little kids would be put down to sleep on a pile of coats, and everyone else would dance and eat and visit.

This is the Bag Lady's father and his brothers. Leah's father is the fellow holding the violin on the left side of the photo, the Bag Lady and Reb's father is the fellow with the violin on the right side.

(Leah writes the entertaining blog, The Goat's Lunch Pail, and Reb writes the equally entertaining blog, Sibu Pegasus Power -- the Bag Lady is having computer trouble and can't, for some inexplicable reason, link to those blogs today. Hopefully, the technical difficulties are temporary!)

Those were the days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Paddles are Important

Real Life has been intruding on the Bag Lady's blogging time, which is not a bad thing, unless you happen to be the one in the hospital!! The Bag Lady's mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery on Monday, so Baggy has been spending some time with her, and doing a few other things in town that simply HAD to be done.

Unfortunately, all this time away from her computer put it into a pout, so that had to be attended to this morning. (The Bag Lady is computer-illiterate, so her idea of fixing her computer involves much turning off and on until the computer gets dizzy enough to forget whatever was wrong and decides to work again!)

Here's something totally unrelated to anything else, but amused the Bag Lady so much she decided to share. The Cowboy came home the other day, chuckling about a story he heard from someone. Apparently there were a couple of guys making snow at the ski hill on New Year's Eve. They decided, after a few bottles (?) of something to warm them whilst doing this, they should canoe down the bunny hill. When the EMS guys arrived and unpeeled them from the tree that put an end to their journey, one of the fellows piped up and said, "We were doin' okay 'til we lost the paddles!" Fortunately, neither of them was seriously injured.

The Bag Lady hopes you all have a great day and don't lose your paddles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The Bag Lady was going through her china cabinet the other day and happened upon this item:

This may sound strange, but it is a piece of her parents’ wedding cake. Yup, the Bag Lady has 59-year old wedding cake in her china cabinet. Petrified. It’s wrapped in plastic, and nestled in cotton, which is why it looks a little funny. (That dark spot is not mould - blame the lighting or the photographer.)

Weird, huh? Now this may not be the weirdest thing in the Bag Lady’s house, but it’s certainly in the top ten.

And why, you may ask, does the Bag Lady have a 59 year old piece of petrified wedding cake? Because she does, that’s why. It brings back memories, which is why anyone keeps anything, right? Her mother saved that little piece of white cake, tucked away in that little Stetson box, tucked away in turn in a drawer with her table linens, her entire life.

The Bag Lady remembers taking it out of the box when she was a child. It still smelled of sugar and sweetness then, in spite of it already being well on its way to petrification. It no longer smells like much of anything. There’s still a faint hint of sweetness, and it feels dry and powdery.

Today would have been the Bag Lady’s parents’ 59th wedding anniversary. They met during WWII when her dad, who was in the Navy, was stationed in Halifax. Dad was a shy young farm boy from Alberta. Mom was a shy young Nova Scotia native who worked in the dockyards, charting underwater obstacles in Halifax harbour.

The Bag Lady will continue to save that piece of wedding cake. It doesn’t take up much room, and when she runs across that little Stetson box, it reminds her of her parents, and that’s not a bad thing, right? When the Bag Lady dies, whoever has to clean out her house will probably open that box and wonder what the hell…? She hopes they turn the lid over and read the inscription there before they toss it out, cursing the Bag Lady for the pack-rat that she is!

(Happy Anniversary, mom and dad, wherever you are - one thing I know for sure is that you are together!)

So, what’s the weirdest thing in your house? Got any 59-year old cake hanging around?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Planning Ahead

The Bag Lady got her first seed catalogue in the mail on Friday! She loves seed catalogues. She loves all the pretty flowers and spends hours poring over the catalogues, dreaming of landscaping her yard. Of course, when spring comes along, she is usually too busy with ranch work to DO any landscaping, but the dreaming certainly helps to pass the dreary days of January and February.

The Bag Lady never actually orders anything from the seed catalogues. She did one year, but nothing that she ordered survived. So she buys her bedding plants from the local nursery. They have an excellent selection, and everything is guaranteed to be suitable for this cold, northern climate.

It may come as a surprise to some of you who don't live in Canada, but we can grow an amazing assortment of things here. Our long days of sunlight make up for the shorter growing season. At the summer solstice, the sun rises at around 4 am, and sets around 11 pm. For a few days around that time, if the sky is clear, it doesn’t get totally dark. Unlike during the winter solstice when it is dark at 4 pm, and stays that way until 9:30 am!!

The Bag Lady grows mostly perennials because she likes to see the same things come back every year. She has experimented with several different flowers, but has her favourite old stand-bys. Peonies, for one. Delphiniums and hollyhocks to attract the hummingbirds:

Irises because she loves purple:

She has a clematis vine that threatens to take over the yard :

And rock soapwort that DOES (take over the yard):

And she has lilies. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know their proper names. She planted a whole slew of them, but not all of them grew, and she’s not sure which are which.

The Bag Lady also enjoys a little whimsy occasionally.

Oh, and it was minus 30 C here yesterday morning, which really makes the Bag Lady long for her flowerbed! So this post was intended as a mental health break for those of us who are getting a little tired of all that damnable snow. Did it help?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Fish Tale

We all have a “character” in our lives. For some of us, that character may be as peripheral as the lady down the street with 18 cats, all named after famous authors; or the old guy in the next apartment who always wears a sea-captain’s hat and says “Ahoy, Matey” when he meets you in the hall. Even though you know the largest body of water he’s ever seen is the swimming hole at the end of main street, you answer in kind, give him a salute and carry on your way. He’s harmless, and if it makes him happy to imagine he’s on the open seas, captaining his vessel, ever-vigilant for pirates, that’s fine with you.

The “character” in the Bag Lady’s life is the Cowboy’s uncle. He looks like a cross between Festus (Matt Dillon’s sidekick) and Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies. He has looked exactly the same for 50-odd years (the Bag Lady knows this, because she has seen photos of him from his youth!) and his looks will probably never change. He HAS changed in recent years, though. About 10 years ago, he moved into a senior’s lodge in the little town where he lives, and started THINKING he was old. So he got old overnight.

A life-long bachelor, he has managed to survive 75 years unencumbered by wife, children, a home, or any sense of responsibility. He never accumulated much beyond what he could carry down the road. When he did have more than he could carry, he would abandon it with nary a backwards glance. He worked winters in logging camps, and spent summers on the chuckwagon circuit, or working on his brother’s cattle ranch.
He has spent his life staying with friends in one place after another, always coming back to his brother when he was down on his luck. Which was often, because as soon as he had money in his pocket, he was in the bar, drinking with his ‘buddies’ until the money was gone.

In his youth, he was incredibly fast on his feet – could catch a rabbit with his bare hands - and could work hard if he wanted to. He had a hair-trigger temper, and would take off down the road at the least slight, real or imagined. Occasionally, it would be years until he showed up again, down and out, looking for a place to stay. His brother always took him in. Now, with his brother gone, Uncle G. stays with the Cowboy.

When the Cowboy was young, Uncle G. was his hero. He told great stories, and the Cowboy would hang on his every word. The Cowboy would put his tiny feet into Uncle G.’s cowboy boots and stomp around, pretending to be a wrangler.

Once the Cowboy was out on his own in the world, Uncle G. would stay with him, ostensibly helping on the ranch. Uncle G. was totally incompetent when it came to running any kind of machinery. He once took off down the field in the combine, forgetting to take the brake off. Wasn’t too long before the Cowboy (back at the house) noticed a plume of smoke from up on the field and decided he had better go have a look. There was Uncle G., blithely driving along the field, with the entire row smoking behind him. The brake had gotten hot; the shoes fell out into the swath and set it on fire. Uncle G. never looks back. When the Cowboy’s father found out, he yelled, “You didn’t let him drive my combine!!?”

Another time, the Cowboy got the grain-truck stuck in the mud. He got Uncle G. to bring the tractor to pull out the grain-truck. Uncle G. hooked up the chain, jumped in the tractor and took off, never looking back. Pulled the bumper right off the grain-truck. The Cowboy’s father’s response? You guessed it. “You didn’t let him drive the tractor, did you!!?”

Uncle G. is full of stories. In fact, he never stops talking. He will tell you his stories over and over. And over. He has foot and mouth disease. As soon as his feet hit the floor, his mouth opens. He talks constantly, and the Bag Lady, being accustomed to spending a good portion of her day alone, has a hard time with that. She was raised to be polite to her elders, to never interrupt, and to never leave a room when someone is talking. She has spent many of his visits feeling trapped, unable to maintain her daily routine because she couldn’t bring herself to be rude. Uncle G. would follow her from room to room, telling his stories. He even followed her into the bathroom one day!

Uncle G. has been visiting the Cowboy and the Bag Lady. The Bag Lady has been politely listening to stories, and not getting any housework done. Uncle G. left today. As peace descends once more on the Bag Lady’s house, she remembers what her mother always said about house guests:
“House guests are like fish – they should be thrown out after 3 days.”

The Good Life

Don't you wish you could be this relaxed?
And this flexible!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fact or Fiction?

Here are five little-known facts. Or stuff the Bag Lady just made up.

Fact Number One: Most people hang pictures too high on their walls. Short people are especially prone to this. Hang your pictures so the centre is at a comfortable eye level. Unless you are under 4 feet tall. Then hang it a little higher. (no offense to the vertically-challenged)

Fact Number Two: The very first moving picture was of a man sneezing. Thomas Edison patented the peephole Kinetoscope in 1893. By 1895, the first cinema opened in Paris.

Fact Number Three: Preserving food by canning was invented in 1809. Canned fruits and meats were first available for sale in 1880.

Fact Number Four: The first vacuum cleaner was invented in England in 1901 by Hubert Cecil Booth. It was operated from the street via a long hose. William Hoover developed a lightweight, upright version for ease of use inside the home in 1907.

Fact Number Five: It took almost 130 years after the invention of the can for the first can opener to be invented. (That’s a long time to wait for supper…) At first, people had to open cans with a hammer and chisel.

The Bag Lady might have made one of these facts up (she can't remember). Care to guess which one?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Recipe Day

The Bag Lady realizes that a lot of you are probably going to curse her for this, especially if your New Year’s Resolution includes losing weight. But her philosophy is that you occasionally need a treat, and this particular recipe is not as bad as some – at least it has some fruit in it!

She has, in the past, resorted to dieting to the extreme. You know the kind of diet she means – restrictive, with your own little Nazi in the back of your head, screaming “you vill NOT eat zat – zat is verboten!!” The diet that always works for her is the Scarsdale Diet. It is very restrictive, which is why it works. It is very restrictive, which is why it doesn’t always work, too! She has lost lots of weight with that particular diet, and kept it off for quite some time, but as soon as she is under stress, she starts to eat, and the weight comes back. (She has been very stressed for the last 3 or 4 years now...)
The Cowboy calls it the “Starvedale Diet”.
Anyway, this recipe is definitely not something allowed on the Starvedale Diet.

Banana Spice Cake

2 ½ C flour
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ C shortening
1 ½ C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ C mashed bananas

Sift dry ingredients.
Beat shortening ‘til fluffy, add sugar, beat well. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with bananas. Pour into 2 greased 9-inch pans.
Bake at 375 for 25 – 30 minutes.

Here’s an added bonus for you. This icing is terrific, and is not too sweet. In fact, that’s what it’s called.

Not Too Sweet Icing

4 Tbsp flour
1 C milk
½ C margarine
½ C Crisco shortening
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour & milk. Stir constantly while cooking over low heat ‘til paste forms. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Mix shortening and margarine 4 minutes at high speed. Add sugar, mix 4 minutes.
Add paste & vanilla. Beat until smooth.

The Bag Lady hopes you enjoy the cake...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cleaning Tip

Here are a few more household hints and handy tips.

Well, one, anyway.

If the door of your woodstove has glass in it, the easiest way to clean the inside of the glass is when you empty the ashes from the stove. Simply dip a dampened paper towel into the ash and scrub the glass with it. Use another clean, damp paper towel to wipe away the residue, then let it air-dry. For the outside of the glass, you can use a commercial glass cleaner, or vinegar and water.

Now, isn’t that something you can’t believe you lived this long without knowing?!
(The Bag Lady was going to put a photo of her woodstove here for illustration purposes, but that would mean she would have to clean it first...)

The Bag Lady is full of little tips like this, but doesn’t want to share them all at once and cause a major overload. (In other words, she can’t think of any more right now.)

Oh, wait. Here’s another one. The easiest way to clean the barn? Get someone else to do it!

What’s your favourite cleaning tip?

(The Bag Lady is fully aware that this is a really lame post, but hey, it's Monday.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What the Heck...?

Here's a picture for you to puzzle over...

(A fine example of the Bag Lady's unparalleled skill as a photographer...)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bad Hair Day

The Bag Lady decided that this year she is in need of a little revamping. Her record-breaking speed at breaking her New Year’s resolutions has left her a little breathless (wait, maybe that’s from the cigarettes….) and she is feeling a little guilty over that.

She thought she’d start smaller, so after her shower, she faced herself in the mirror and recalled a commercial for some hair product that made the model in the advertisement look cute and perky. Now, it’s been several (many) years since the Bag Lady was either cute or perky, but it was worth a shot. The Bag Lady has a standing, yearly appointment with her hairdresser – the rest of the year, she hacks off her bangs and ignores the rest. This makes her hairdresser really unhappy, which in turn results in a really bad haircut, which makes the Bag Lady hesitate to go back…but her memory fades over the year, so she returns to the same hairdresser year after year. It’s a vicious circle, like so many things in life.

The Bag Lady has naturally curly hair, and has spent a good portion of her life taming the curl. To the point where some of it now refuses to curl (like, go to hell, you’ve been forcing us straight forever, now you want us to switch back?!) Of course, only SOME of it refuses to curl; the rest still does its’ own, unruly thing. So she thought she would try something different. She dried it with the blow-dryer, allowing it to do the flip thing it wanted to do. So far, so good. Most of it was flipping in the same direction.

Then she got out her little jar of hair glue stuff (similar, she’s positive, to the stuff in the TV commercial) and applied it in chunky globs, just like on TV. Imagine her dismay when instead of cute and perky, the image staring back at her was more “blonde Pippi Longstocking” without the braids, but with the flip. For those of you who have no idea who Pippi was, envision Wendy (of hamburger joint fame) as a faded old lady who really should have watched her consumption of all those burgers!

She then sort of shmooshed it all down against her head, which reduced the resemblance to Wendy and Pippi, but still didn’t look at all cute, nor perky. Instead, she resembled the boy in the front row in junior high school - you all know the type - he was the one with his pens (oops, almost made a Freudian typo there, and if that had reached his breast pocket, he'd'a been way more popular with all those hormonally-charged teenage girls!) in a pocket protector. Tomorrow, she’s going back to her regular June Allyson look. (If you don’t know who June is, you’ll have to Google her – the Bag Lady is too depressed to try explaining!)

Oh, and the Bag Lady tried to upload a photo to show you what she's talking about, but Blogger refused to allow it. Guess that says it all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter Vacation

(The Bag Lady apologizes to those of you who are using a dial-up connection...if it takes as long for these photos to load for you as it took her to post them, you'll be here awhile!! Of course, that's counting a lot of screwing-up on her part...)

The Bag Lady feels sorry for all you folks who live in perpetually warm climates, forever looking at the same greenery, so has decided to share a few photos of how her day looked yesterday.

She went out to feed her cows, and while she was picking up a bale for them, the calves in the corral had to come check out the action.

The ski hill in her neighbourhood must have been making snow the previous night, so everything was covered with frost.

The sun was trying hard to shine.

The willow trees look pretty in their
cloaks of frost.

The cows are back there...

The horses also needed to be fed, and showed an inordinate interest in the camera. Most unusual for them.

The sunset paints the frosty trees pink.

The Bag Lady hopes you enjoyed your "winter vacation on the ranch". Regular programming will now resume.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Tractors For Dummies"

The Bag Lady has decided she needs to get back on track with her blog posting. By that, she means it’s time to talk about ranching again.

As some of you know, she is a transplanted city girl, living on a cattle ranch, and doing most of the chores while her “Cowboy” works off the ranch. She has had some amusing experiences and some heart-breaking moments. The first time she drove a tractor was terrifying for her, but amusing for the audience.

The instructions went something like this:

The cowboy: Go down to fathers’ and bring the tractor here for me.
The Bag Lady: But I don’t know how to drive a tractor.
Him: It’s just like driving a car. Besides, the old man is there – he’ll show you how.

So she hopped into her little, low-slung car and away she went. Really, how hard could it be?

She arrived at the other place and climbed up into the tractor. Sat there and stared at the confusing array of dials and buttons and levers. There was a key, so she turned it. Nothing happened. (Damn, the battery must be dead...)

About this time, along came Father. A big, gruff, scary guy, who made no effort to hide his contempt for city girls. He climbed onto the step of the tractor.

The instructions went something like this:

Him: You need to move this lever into this position. Then turn the key.
(The tractor started with a roar.)

Him: This lever controls the speed .
(Must be why it's marked with a tortoise and a hare.)

Him: That lever controls the gears. Put it in high and 4, push up on this lever (he pushed it almost all the way to the hare), and let out the clutch. But wait until I get off. Oh, and don’t touch these levers.

The Bag Lady did as instructed and, with a lurch that almost unseated her, the tractor took off and fairly flew out the driveway and onto the highway. The tractor rocked along at a fair clip, the Bag Lady clinging to the steering wheel and trying not to hyperventilate. (Just like driving a car, huh? A big, HIGH car! -- the Bag Lady is afraid of heights!)

Fortunately, she didn’t have far to go along the highway before she could turn off onto the road leading to home, so was only a danger to the rest of the world for a very short time!

When she tore up the driveway into the ranch, the cowboy’s head jerked up and he appeared ready to run. She ground to a halt in a cloud of dust, mere inches from where he stood. He jumped up onto the step and did all that needed to be done to shut the tractor off. With shaking legs, she climbed off the tractor.

Him (trying not to laugh): Why didn’t you slow down coming around that corner?
Her: I couldn’t remember how…

In her terror, she had forgotten about the lever with the tortoise and the hare.
It was another two years before the Bag Lady attempted to drive the tractor again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Pickton Money Pit

(Those of you who are expecting an amusing Bag Lady post today may want to skip this particular post)

I don’t usually use this blog to make social comments, but watching the news last night made me so angry, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this. The story was about the trial of Robert Pickton, convicted of second degree murder in the killings of 6 women, whose remains were found on his pig farm in BC.

Apparently, the Crown is filing an appeal because he was found guilty of Second Degree Murder, rather than First Degree Murder. We, the taxpayers of Canada, have already paid something to the tune of ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS to convict this piece of excretement, but the Prosecutors are not happy with that. They WON, but apparently that’s not good enough. The defense is also expected to file an appeal.

The families of the rest of his victims want another trial, too. This sick, twisted individual murdered some 30 - 40 women (the exact total will never be known), and his actions have already cost society in countless ways. I can understand the desire of the families to have the “closure” another trial would bring. It won’t bring their family members back to them, but they would have the satisfaction of knowing that the murderer of their loved one is behind bars. ON THE OTHER HAND, how much of their desire to see justice done is fueled by the publicity another trial will bring? Isn’t it enough to know that the criminal will be behind bars for the rest of his life? Whether there is a piece of paper somewhere saying that Robert Pickton is in prison because he killed (insert name here) or not, he WILL be in prison. Isn’t that enough?

How much should we as a society be willing to spend on this sick bastard? As a tax-paying citizen, I am appalled at the idea of pouring more money into this case. He has been convicted. Send him to prison. We are going to pay for his room and board for the remainder of his life. We have already poured enough of our money into the pockets of his lawyers. Let it be done with!

The Crown is acting like a spoiled brat who won, but discovered the medal was plastic. What does it matter if it goes into the history books with a second-degree conviction? As long as he serves his sentences consecutively, and remains in prison for the rest of his life, I, for one, don’t care. And I am angry that the cost of this trial is coming out of my pocket. The eleven million dollars is already spent, but I don’t want to have to pay another astronomical amount of money to repeat the process. That money could be better spent on social reform programs to help the women on the fringes of society who have been put in a situation where they risk falling into the hands of men like Robert Pickton in the first place!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Gee, It Doesn't LOOK like an Igloo...

The Bag Lady has started her annual January “I’m tired of this mess – think I’ll do something different” rampage. Using the woodstove in the living room for heat works through-out most of the house, but the heat doesn’t travel well around corners, so doesn’t make it into the master bedroom. The Bag Lady likes it, but her cowboy finds it too cold. So he, in his customary fashion, complains until the Bag Lady does something about it. She put plastic over the windows (which helps stop any wee drafts), but according to the cowboy, the bedside tables over the heat registers were causing some of the problem. (The Bag Lady didn’t bother pointing out to the cowboy that the furnace so rarely kicks in that the heat registers have nothing coming out of them most of the time!)
Anyway, the Bag Lady decided that if she got rid of the bedside tables, she needed somewhere to put her lamps and alarm clock, tissue box and assorted other things she might need in the middle of the night. (Gee, that could be a post all on its own – what’s on YOUR bedside table? Nail clippers, lotion, nasal spray, flashlight, book… )
Here is a picture of what the bedroom looked like a few years ago when the house was new.

It hasn't changed much over the years, except for the addition of more and more furniture!

Here is the start of the construction. The Bag Lady built a simple box, and needed a way to hang it on the wall. She secured a ledger board to the wall, making sure it was level.

Then she checked to make sure that everything would fit properly.

Then she padded the box and secured it to her ledger board. She added a shelf on top of the box. When she first set it up, it looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

She can't decide how it should look. What do y'all think?

Now, as long as the whole thing doesn't come crashing down in the middle of the night and crush the Bag Lady and the Cowboy in their sleep, everything will be just fine.

The Bag Lady will probably tackle the living room next. No construction issues, but she definitely needs to get rid of some "stuff". She thinks her burning barrel is about to get a work-out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Just How Old Are You, Anyway?

Here are the answers to my little quiz.

Here’s a little game for you. Below are some advertising slogans from some years ago. How many of you can either identify the product or finish the sentence?

1. The white tornado. In Alberta, the white tornado was Mr. Clean. In the east, it appears it was Ajax.

2. If I sit here long enough, someone’s bound to take my….. ...picture. (splash)
It was a Kodak commercial, with a bikini-clad gal lying on the side of a pool. No-one took her picture until some wagster pushed her into the pool.

3. Bubbly, bubbly, bubbly, bubbly,… Eno

4. The one with the …… on top. peanut. Slogan for Squirrel Peanut Butter.

5. Things go better with …. Coke. Of course.

Pretty easy, eh? The Bag Lady will have her comment moderation on so you can’t see each other’s answers. She’ll let all of you see them at the end of the day. Which has now arrived, so the comment moderation is off again.
The winner receives an all-expenses paid trip…….down memory lane.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Time Travel

The Bag Lady was lying in bed last night, sleepless again, and got to thinking about the time she moved from a small central Alberta city back home to where she grew up. It occurred to her that she could remember none of the details about the move. In fact, she drew a total blank about who helped her, vehicles used, and even the time of year it was! And it has only been twenty years!
What does this mean? (It means, for one thing, that she is going to have to ask her sister if she remembers!) But it also means she must be getting older. How on earth could she forget something like that? Seriously, she had enough furniture that it would have meant two trips, or a very full pick-up truck load. But she remembers nothing of that. She does remember some of the smaller details.
She lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a 3-story building. Her apartment was right beside the main entrance doors and had a large sliding glass balcony door that gave out onto a small patio, which in turn gave out onto the lawn.
When her drapes were open, she could see everyone coming and going into the building, and they could see her. No lounging around, naked, on her couch. (Not that she would, anyway, but you know what she means!) Being of a shy nature, this bothered her immensely, so she bought some of that one-way film that you apply to windows to block the sun (the windows also faced west, which made the apartment very warm when the sun was setting). The film was advertised as very easy to put up AND to take down. Ha.

When the Bag Lady moved, the manager of the apartment building insisted the film had to be removed, so the Bag Lady got out the directions and started applying water. She scraped and soaked and soaked and scraped for what seemed like forever. She definitely remembers THAT. She thinks they have since improved that film and made it easier to remove.
She remembers cleaning that tiny apartment to the meticulous standards required by the manager. It was a very well-kept apartment building, and the Bag Lady wanted her damage deposit back! She got it, too.
But moving? Nothing. Nada. Gone. She used to pride herself on her memory, but is starting to worry that there’s nothing to be that proud of!
What about you? How’s your memory these days? Can you remember events going back 20 years?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Want Cheese with that Whine?

So, here we are at the start of a new year. All the excitement of the season is past, and a lot of people are back to work, and back to normal. Some of us who work from home are probably trying to get back into the swing of things, too. There are probably a few with a slightly let-down feeling, rather like that last lonely party favour that got kicked under the edge of the couch and no-one has found yet. (In the Bag Lady’s house, it could probably mate with a stray dog biscuit and have a nice cozy little nest under there, raising dust bunnies into full-grown rabbits, totally undisturbed…)

The Bag Lady is struggling with her blog. She warned you when she started that she wasn’t sure if she had enough good stories to keep people interested. She feels rather like she is floundering around, still searching for a theme. Some of you said you wanted to hear more about life on a ranch. Well, this is the worst time of year for ranching stories. There isn’t very much going on right now. Calving season (on this ranch, at least) won’t start for awhile yet - although this year may hold a few surprises for the Bag Lady. The plan was that there weren’t going to be any cows on this place this year. Then one thing led to another, and there are still 6 older cows that could start calving any time, as well as a dozen or so heifers (first-time mothers) due to start calving in April. The rise of the Canadian dollar against the American dollar has wreaked havoc on an already shaky cattle market (which still hasn’t recovered from the devastation caused by the BSE crisis), so there are also 8 calves from last year, and 4 steers from the previous year that need to be slaughtered. (Anyone want to buy some organic beef?) But, other than feeding these cows every day, there isn’t much going on as far as the ranching aspect is concerned.

The Bag Lady is pretty sure that you don’t really want to hear her cleaning tips, which is about all she devotes her time to in January. She does a lot of furniture re-arranging (mostly just because it pisses her cowboy off so much!), and tries to come up with creative ways to hide the clutter. Her cowboy (bless his heart) bought her a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas, so she will actually have to use it periodically. (Just kidding! With 3 pets in the house, she vacuums almost every day, which is why she has gone through 5 vacuum cleaners in 14 years.)

She has written some rather flippant posts in the past, at least one of which seems to have offended one of her readers who no longer makes any comments, and for that she is sorry. She could write crazy rants about some stuff, but is afraid that would alienate even more of her readers. She doesn’t have all that many commenters to begin with, and would hate to lose more! Half the fun of doing this is hearing what everyone else has to say, and the Bag Lady loves the comments.

So if the Bag Lady posts stuff that is boring as hell, will you still read? Will you tell her she is boring as hell? Will you tell her to snap out of this hibernation phase and get out and do something interesting, then blog about it, for cryin’ out loud!?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The First Post of the New Year!

Ah, New Year’s Day. The first day of a new year. A chance to start afresh. A clean slate, waiting to be writ upon. An opportunity to make life better; to do things right, this time. The possibilities are endless. Well, it always seems that way, until the Bag Lady actually wakes up…

This year the Bag Lady’s resolution is rather vague. Something to the tune of getting healthier and being more active. Basically the same as every year, only not quite as specific as in the past. Somehow, being a perfect size 8 (or whatever) isn’t quite as important as it used to be. It seems more important to be healthy rather than just skinny. And if being healthy means being a 10 or 12 rather than an 8, the Bag Lady can live with that.

All this talk lately about how carrying your excess weight around your middle contributes to heart disease has the Bag Lady worried. She has never had much of a waist – her mid-section is straight rather than curvy when she is slim, and curves out rather than in when she’s packing extra weight. No amount of sit-ups has ever affected her basic physique. And now that her cousin (who is basically in much better health) has had heart trouble, the Bag Lady is quite concerned. Gotta work on that core. But enough about the Bag Lady.

How did all of you celebrate New Year’s Eve? The Bag Lady and the Cowboy had a nice, quiet evening at home. The Cowboy was still feeling the affects of the stomach flu they both suffered through, so a light meal and television seemed to fit the bill. They watched “Fried Green Tomatoes” (again) and enjoyed it thoroughly. Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that they are both getting older and wiser, could it? Nah...

So did you drink champagne and dance on tables? Watch fireworks and party with the crowds? Spend the evening with family and friends?