Friday, January 24, 2020

Tanya's Flower Garden

Tanya's flower garden runs between the house and street across the front of the house and from the street to the edge of the outbuilding along the side of the house. It never looks the same from one year to the next as she is always digging stuff up and moving it. Lately, she has begun planting shrubs such as boxwood, or dwarf cedar to reduce the area. What it will look like after this mild winter is hard to predict. Some bulbs are starting to show green through the dirt and plants that would benefit from snow cover are left to the elements. If we get a hard cold snap, say -15 to -25, it will do some damage too.

For a while, she ordered every new tulip, iris, or gladiola that showed up in a catalog or online. And of course, roses. Long stem and climbing.

Anyhow to make up for a dreary cold winter on the Canadian Prairies and a dreary political scene elsewhere, here are some of her flowers from over the years.







































Click on the pictures to make them larger. They are not in any particular order.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Prophet of Doom

These days the 'sad' emoticon on FB gets used more than any other.  I no longer have the energy to be angry at everything that I should be. I wish they would add a BS icon that is easy to use. Instead, I use the HaHa making it do double duty.

If it were not for pictures of people's kids, people's pets, people's cows, and miscellaneous other critters, my NewsFeed would be beyond redemption. Which is pretty well how I feel about the world right now. I am not privileged enough to ignore the world around me.

Just the high spots:

  • Putin is in the process of keeping himself in power for life, by changing the constitution.
  • That same constitution change also says Russia is not bound by any international law if it clashes with the constitution, not that they have ever paid any attention to international law anyhow, or their constitution for that matter.
  • Putin has been busy resurrecting Stalin, including passing a law that allows prisoners to be used for slave labour aka the Gulag rides again. China and America have been doing this for years anyhow.
  • I need to get an outside opinion on Zelensky but am afraid I already know the answer. The crooks and oligarchs still hold the whip. And yes, there are good things happening too.
  • Merkel and Macron seem to be siding with Russia on implementation of the Minsk agreements, leaving Ukraine isolated.
  • Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Lybia, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and on and on.
  • Conservative governments, particularly those of Ford and Kenney, are busy wrecking their respective provinces all in the name of paying for tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. Wall already did Saskatchewan and Moe is just keeping things going.
  • We are currently running 10C to 15C above the long term average, as is European Russia and Western Siberia (I have not checked the Far East). But we had a cold snap on the prairies, not unheard of in January, though this one broke a few records, and the usual suspects were out hollering that this proved climate change is a hoax. 
  • Lev Parnas just blew the lid off the intertwined corruption of the Trump administration. His information did not surprise those who oppose Trump and had no impact on those who support him.
  • Trump is at Davos, warning people not to listen to the prophets of doom regarding the climate. The rich of course are quite able to insulate themselves from any ill effects of climate change.
  • The White House will not mount any real defense against the articles of impeachment, arguing instead that the impeachment is illegal under the constitution and that presidents have unlimited power so cannot be charged with abuse of power.
Now I shall be a prophet of doom. 
  • Having predicted that 2012 would be the last fair and free election in the USA and that a Republican would be elected president in 2016 (I never predicted Trump), I shall repeat my prediction that 2020 will be the last presidential election that even resembles an election.
  • The Senate will find Trump not guilty and Trump will double down on the use of executive power claiming the verdict proved it was unlimited. Since no one has stopped him to date, no one will stop him after this.
  • Trump will win the 2020 election via the Electoral College, with a little help from his friends, where necessary. The GOP will hold the senate the same way.
  • The first four years of Trump will seem like nothing compared to the next four years as there is no legal way to stop him from doing anything he wants so long as he owns SCOTUS, the Senate, and DOJ.
  • He will use the DOJ increasingly to go after anyone he perceives as an enemy, which is to say anyone who is not fawningly loyal. Journalists will be on the front lines.
  • In 2024, Trump will run for a third term and win and no one will stop him. Other than the second amendment, the constitution will be observed more in the breach, like the Russian one.
Prove me wrong.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

My News Feed is full of Trump, Election, Iran, Putin and miscellaneous other political bad news. Now for something completely different (for reals).

Sleeping cats are a never-ending source of amusement for Tanya, who loves to take pictures of their weird sleeping positions and places. We bought a cat bed once. It was explored and ignored. Cats sleep where ever they want. And change favourite sleeping places on a regular basis. So now we have hand towels on windowsills and other likely cat-crashing places.

On a warm day, Vovo sleeps on a mat in front of the balcony door. Now he sleeps on the couch, at Tanya's feet until she goes to bed. He may stay there or he may try to sleep at the foot of our bed.

In the morning when Tanya is busy in the kitchen, Bonya likes to sleep on the counter in front of the window. The registers are directly below the counter so it is nice and warm. He has his own set of towels to sleep on. Bonya used to sleep in the clothes basket at night, then on the shoe cupboard by the front door, now on top of the new washing machine. Or on top of our bedroom dresser. Sometimes in the middle of the night, he decides to sleep with us and there is this WHUMPF as he leaps from the dresser trying to land between us but usually on top of Tanya.

They don't stay long on our bed as I sleep like a rotisserie which annoys them some.

Tigritsa, when she is not trying to sleep on my arm as I work on the computer, likes to sleep in the windowsill across from my side of the bed. When she gets cold she sleeps on the register under the window until she warms up. In the night, I see often her sitting up and staring out the window.

It rained last night and today it was too wet to go out so the cats were bored. Vovo picked a fight with Tigritsa. The snarling alerted Bonya who has no love for Vovo and promptly inserted himself between them. More snarling and tail switching. Vovo got booted outside as it has dried up enough.

Bonya is melting

Tigritsa and Vovo not fighting

Tigritsa and Bonya

Both Tigritsa and Bonya can open drawers to sleep in

Nap attack

Vovo warming up on the register

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Requiem to a Loyal Dog; Monty Boy, May 2005 - Jan 2020

Monty Boy looking happy
The temperature dropped to -23C last night, Jan 6th, in the Pilot Butte area, NE of Regina. For a little black dog, 14 1/2 years old, nearly blind, almost deaf, lost, alone, and terrified, it would be a death knell. If he was still alive. He had run away from his dog sitter Thursday night, January 2nd, and headed out looking for home. Several kilometres away if he even knew that or which direction to go.

His owner, my oldest daughter, was headed to Mexico the next evening with her husband. She posted pictures, notified the lost dog page on Facebook and posted a notice on FB which was shared dozens of times and searched for him until she had to leave. Other friends turned out to search. He was seen once by someone but ran when he was called. He would come only for my daughter. Her sister came down from Saskatoon and searched Saturday and Sunday but nothing.

Nothing would make me happier than learning that rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated and that someone had found him and taken him in.

Maddy
 Monty was my dog initially. After their mom died, the kids decided I should have a dog to keep me from getting lonely. So a year later steps were taken. My oldest daughter had been given a white cockapoo female named Madison (Maddy) with one batch of puppies to her credit and was offered a Tsitzu male for one of the litter.

Monty and five littermates were born on my youngest daughter's bed on cold rainy Saturday at the end of May 2005. My youngest got naming rights since it was her bed and they were all named after talk show hosts. Maddy was not impressed at being a mother again and could not nurse them as much as they needed so they were bottle raised by my eldest with infinite patience.

Monty and Vicki
When the time came to choose, I wanted two puppies so they would have company and someone to play with. One was a gift from the kids, the other I paid for. Monty was the biggest and Vicki was the kissingest pup I ever did see. They lived with me for a year and a half until I remarried and moved to Ukraine in May 2007, at which point my eldest had three dogs.

Monty was not the brightest light on the string but did learn a few things. He learned to ring a bell hung on the back door when he needed to go out. Then he learned if he was bored or couldn't find Vicki that ringing the bell also brought attention. The bell went. For the rest of his life, when he had to go, he just stood at the back door and looked anxious.

Maddy eventually found a home with my daughter's sister in law who needed a dog and liked Maddy who was just like her mom's dog. Vicki got grouchy and was beating up Monty so she went to live with Grandma L after her Davy Dog died of old age. When Grandma went into an assisted living home, Vicki went to live with Grandma's son for several years. Uncle D loved her and when she died a year or so ago, he was heartbroken.

Monty was my daughter's dog. He loved her more than anyone and she loved him. He still welcomed visitors by bringing his favourite toy to show them but he loved my daughter. He loved her husband and liked other people to an extent. And he tolerated his dog sitters. But he was loved by all because he was a good dog.

Monty was reasonably healthy for an old dog. He got cataracts, was losing his hearing and had teeth problems but still had energy and sometimes played like a pup. His plumbing worked fine and so did his appetite.

Monty does the 10-year challenge
When I was in Regina, these past two years, I could see him aging. He didn't meet you at the door anymore because he didn't hear you. He needed help to get up on my chair but would still sleep on my arm like he did when he was a puppy. When I left, I said goodbye to him, knowing that he would likely be gone next time I was back in Canada.

He was a good dog, loved by everyone. It is hard on my daughter. And on her brother and sisters. But Monty has gone where all good doggies go, where he can run and not be afraid, with butterflies and squirrels to chase and lots of dog treats.



Monday, December 30, 2019

Old Books are Old Friends

Some of you may be familiar with my main reading material. Why I have insomnia is beyond me.  I just finished Culloden (the 1745 battle that Bonnie Prince Charlie lost), Mary Queen of Scots, a biography and am 1/3 through The Black Prince and the Capture of a King at Poitiers 1356. Next up is Midnight in Chernobyl, a history of the nuclear disaster in 1986. I am curious about everything.

Sometimes the weighty tomes bog me down and as I have likely blogged about before, I turn to western novels and short stories for relaxation. These are books I have read many many times over the years and I do mean years. Most of them are decades old, the covers torn, the pages brittle and yellow. Prices on the covers make me smile. One was 45 cents new, a few were 75 cents, and many were $1.50. Days long since past. Yes, I have them in e-book format but nothing beats the feeling of reading a real book.

Authors: Ernest Haycox and Louis L'Amour, in that order. Louis L'Amour books are readily available new or used. Ernest Haycox not so. I haven't seen a new one in years and the used book stores tell me if they get one in, it is usually gone by day's end. A company is digitizing them and selling them through Amazon for about $4. I now have over 20. Other authors I like but don't have many of their books are Dorothy M Johnson (The Hanging Tree and Indian Country), the best writer of western short stories in my opinion. Two of her stories were made into movies: A Man Named Horse and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. I have two books by Frank Slaughter, The Professionals and Segundo, two by Jack Schaefer, Shane and Monte Walsh, and two by Will Henry, The Fourth Horseman and The Feleen Brand.

Before I left Canada, I likely had 150 to 200 paperback Westerns, most of which my kids got. I brought about 30 or 40 with me including the ones mentioned above. I do need to raid their libraries again but it is at my own risk.

These two shoeboxes and a dozen more books are my Ukrainian paper library of Westerns. My e-library is pretty good but it is just not the same. If you click on the pictures, the titles are readable.



To all my readers, old friends and passers-by, I wish you a Happy New Year with health and happiness in abundance. May 2020 be a vast improvement (even a half vast improvement) over 2019.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot. . .