Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A New Lease on Life

The Bag Lady hosted Thanksgiving dinner last month for some of the Rancher's family, and during the course of the day, her sister-in-law mentioned an old dresser that she wanted to re-finish, if only she had the time. Naturally, the Bag Lady volunteered to do it because she loves that sort of thing. It took her a couple of weeks, partly due to the fact that she had a few other things on her plate, but it is now completed.

 She forgot to take an actual "before" picture, so the first pictures were taken when she had already started to take the old finish off.

She had not started on the top of the dresser when this picture was taken - someone else did that - but she had started on the spindle on the left...

 The dresser had an odd paint-like finish on it. It had originally come from an old hotel in the small town near where the Bag Lady lives. Her in-laws acquired it in 1949, and her mother-in-law told her it had not been changed since (except for some stickers put on by the teenaged sister-in-law!)

The partially-stripped side of the dresser....

 The Bag Lady was delighted to find this beautiful wood beneath the finish....

Here she has started the staining process.....

 She had quite a time getting all the old finish off the carving at the top of the mirror (thank heavens for old dental picks!) but thinks it turned out quite nicely.

  And here is the end product. The Bag Lady is quite pleased with the way it looks now, and only hopes her sister-in-law likes it, too!

Do you think she will?

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Uncle Died

My uncle died.

Three simple little words that signify the end of a generation in our family.

A large family of seven brothers and one sister. Considering the age span, they were quite close. The eldest, the girl, was married and raising a family of her own soon after the youngest (my father) was born. They homesteaded in what was then a remote area in the wilds of Alberta during the Dirty Thirties. Fortunately for them, their homestead, although remote, was not afflicted by the troubles experienced in other areas of the country at that time. They had little money, but they had plenty of wild game to hunt in the winter, wild berries to pick in the summer, and lots of hard work and fresh air to keep them healthy.

A musical family. All of them were taught to play a musical instrument, but the youngest boys formed an orchestra and played at dances in the small community where they grew up. They kept up the musical tradition as adults, playing together at the yearly family reunions they held. The three youngest siblings especially. If they knew they were going to see each other for any reason whatsoever, they always took along their musical instruments - violin, guitar, banjo. (I suppose it's fortunate none of them played the double bass....)

Their little orchestra was slowly diminished over the years as they passed away one by one until finally, Uncle Marvin was the last. He and I held many conversations, mostly over the phone because of physical distance, and he would reminisce about their early years. I heard some stories I had never heard before, along with some I knew by heart.

His youngest son contacted me a week or so ago to tell me the sad news. His father had slipped and fallen and broken a hip. At the age of 91 years and 8 months, he hadn't the strength to battle back.

My cousins did me the great honour of asking me to eulogize my uncle, and, although it was difficult, I hope I brought him back to life for a few minutes during the celebration of life they held for him.

Although we are saddened by his passing, I know that somewhere in the afterlife, there's another family reunion going on. In fact, I can faintly hear the strains of "Maple Sugar", "Wheels" and "Squaws Along the Yukon" right this minute. I can almost hear 'Doc' and 'Chief' ribbing 'the Kid' about being late to the party yet again.

(Marvin is second from the right in this picture, my dad is on the right, and Gene, Leah's dad, is to the left of Marvin)

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Wee Bit Cranky

Since the election in the United States has been beaten to death online, I am not going to share my thoughts, except to say that I truly hope, now that it's over, the citizens of our neighbour to the South can overcome their differences and work together to find reasonable solutions to the problems their nation is facing. (Just one tiny suggestion, though, before I move on - would someone please get Donald Trump the psychiatric care he so desperately needs! Isn't the first sign of a psychopathic serial killer cruelty to animals? He obviously needs help - murdering all those ferrets, dying them orange and gluing them to his head!)

Moving on.

No, wait, I can't move on yet. Please, I implore you, stop the cruelty! As his hairline recedes, he is certain to move on to larger animals! The beaver could be next and, as a Canadian, I will have to stand up and say "Enough! Leave our national symbol alone! Canada is a peaceful nation, but beware of waking the sleeping polar bear."

While I'm on the subject, I must also say I take umbrage at being referred to as the People's Republic of Canada, as Wendell Potter so charmingly put it. Our national medical system may not be perfect, but it's a darned sight better than the financial ruin many sick Americans face.

Hmm, guess I didn't do such a good job of not sharing my thoughts.

Winter has come early to the ranch and it's making me a little cranky.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photo Finish Friday - Snowed Under

It snowed early in the Bag Lady's world.
Not only was it early, but it meant business. The leaves weren't even all gone off the rose bush by her front steps. Yes, there are steps under all this snow....

 The sky finally cleared, making for some pretty pictures.

The Bag Lady really doesn't like winter all that much, but as she watched the destruction wrought on the east coast by Hurricane Sandy, she was reminded yet again that the area where she lives is pretty darned good. Although it gets cold in the winter, her chances of having to contend with a natural disaster of the magnitude of Sandy are slim. And for that, she is grateful.

Photo Finish Friday is the brain child of Leah at the Goat's Lunch Pail.