Monday, October 28, 2013


I've just returned from a trip to Vancouver for a work-related training course.  I flew out Tuesday evening, spent three nights in an upscale water-front hotel, was wined and dined in fine fashion, took advantage of the spa in the hotel, and flew back Friday afternoon.  We had (almost) six hours of training.  Yep, six hours. It was fun, but I will never understand the corporate world.  And I am very glad to be home in mine.

These were the views from my hotel room.

Some of the sights on my morning walk.

I thought that with our older two boys out on their own and Derek off to boarding school that my world would slow down just a tad.  It hasn't.  Firstly, "out on their own" doesn't necessarily translate into "out of here", and so Adam and Stephen are often around on their days off.  Don't get me wrong - I love getting to see them, but I do change the sheets pretty often in what is now the guest room!  (They both helped out quite a bit for harvest, so Clem only had about a week on his own.)  Secondly, kids in boarding school these days are a LOT more connected to home than in previous times.  Texting, Facebook, and emails all mean we keep in pretty close contact with Derek, and I love it.  But again, that whole "gone" concept has a different meaning.

Suffice it to say that they are all doing well and staying busy.  Adam and Stephen love their job (singular - they both have the plant operator position at the camp, shifting each other off), and Derek seems to be fitting in quite nicely at Notre Dame.  He had five days off over the Thanksgiving weekend, and spent most of them with his friends, not us!  He enjoyed his break, but seemed OK with heading back.  He has been plagued with a rib injury since his second day there, so that has put a bit of a damper on his sports, but he played a few games of football (one in Mosaic stadium which we watched in our living room via live streaming!) and has now started hockey (they won their first league game last night).  He has a tournament in Saskatoon in December, so we hope to spend that weekend there and watch him play.  We drove down to Regina to watch one of his football games, but there were crossed wires and the other team didn't show up!  But we did get a couple of short visits in with Derek and met his coaches before heading home again!

This is a screen shot of Derek's team playing on Taylor Field.  He's #65.

We had another successful harvest on the Schraefel farm this year.  The peas didn't do well - they had root rot and didn't produce - but the lentils, wheat, and barley did very well.  It was probably the best crop since 1996, the year we moved home.  The garden did well this year, too.  I think Clem only watered it a couple of times.  We are just finishing up the fresh tomatoes now, and the cold room and the freezer are full of goodies for winter enjoyment.

The neighbour's new well.

Even wild oats can look rather pretty.

Clem straight-cutting barley.

A big load!

Love the skies in these ones.

A friend of ours held a little combine demo with a couple of old SP combines.  It was fun to see some old farmers reminiscing about days gone by.

Hi-tech recording of old-tech machinery!

Those of you from God's country will be interested to know that Redge McKenzie is operating the combine here!

We had a rather different Thanksgiving this year.  Mom and Dad were on their way back to Alberta from a visit at Dad's sister's in Manitoba, and we were quite busy with hockey, so Mom decided we should try the restaurant in Luseland for our Thanksgiving gathering.  A friend of mine, who was on her own for the day, joined us for the yummy turkey meal.  Adam was also around as he was flying out to work the next day.  The meal was excellent, we didn't have to cook, and we didn't have to do dishes!  I probably wouldn't make a habit of it (no turkey leftovers, after all!), but I sure enjoyed it.

Our Junior hockey team, the West Central Rage, is having some success this season.  It has been a long haul - five years of begging for money, scratching together a team, and trying to fill the rink - but, knock on wood, we may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.  The team is 7 and 1 so far, and really playing well.  The games have been well attended, and we see lots of young Rage fans coming out and bringing their parents and friends.  It's always lots of fun!

And that's about it in a nutshell.  I've probably missed quite a bit, but you get the drift!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Another missing piece

I stopped at the local cemetery the other day, just 'cause it was a quiet, peaceful day, and because I was in an introspective mood, I guess.  There are many stops to make there.  My mom's parents, four of her siblings, two of her brothers-in-law, Clem's parents, his grandparents, his great-grandfather, various aunts and uncles, some cousins, and quite a few close friends.   So many memories came literally hurling back, so many fun times, sad times, difficult times, all of them a part of me, of us, and of who we are now.  I cried a bit when I got to grandma's grave, as I always do, cause I miss that amazing woman every single day.   I also took a few extra minutes at the grave of mom's sister, Bea.  She was one of a kind, and larger than life, it seemed.  They lived in BC when I was young, and often came home to visit.  She would always grab us kids and hug and kiss us - so annoying, but man, would I like one of her hugs right now.  She worked hard, partied hard, was always dressed to the nines, always smoking, and grabbed the center of attention wherever she went.  She said whatever was on her mind, and had a wicked sense of humour.  She was always great fun at whatever family gathering was happening, and let me tell you, this family gathers at the drop of a hat.  I was shocked to realize she's been gone for 27 years.  I thought of all the gatherings we've had since then, and how many times she's been missed.  The ties with her kids, my cousins, have loosened, too, as is natural, I guess.  I have forty-five cousins on my mom's side, many of them quite a bit older than I, so I've lost touch with some of them, as happens in life.  But I was still shocked to learn last night that Aunt Bea's son had died of a heart attack at 61.   I haven't seen him since I was a teen-ager, so I really don't know him, but still, he is my cousin.  Blood is thick.  Another piece of our huge, boisterous, loud, annoying, loving, giving family is gone.   I'm happy for him that it was quick - that's how I want to go - but heart-broken for his siblings, who were in the midst of preparations for their dad's 90th birthday celebration.    And for his aunts and uncles and cousins who are mourning not just his death but all the missed time with him.  But I can just hear his mom:  "What the hell, Rod?  What are you doing here?  I was expecting your dad!!"   And it makes me smile.  Laughter through tears.  It's what keeps our family going.   That, and anticipating the finished puzzle when all of the pieces are together again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

After the mist

The mornings have been so damp and dewy this summer.  Sometimes there is a mist in the distance and hovering over the dugout.  Feels a little like Scotland!  One morning after the sun chased away the fog, I looked out the window and saw a fairy garden - so out I went with the camera!  The dill looked particularly amazing!


The hostas were just starting to bloom, as well.

And here's that lovely-coloured begonia again!

Saskatchewan is truly a beautiful place to live!

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, August 01, 2013


I'm grumpy this morning.  I got up early to work in the garden before going to work (haha - catch that? Work before work??).  I've always loved working outside in the early morning (once I actually get out there, that is - my bed is awfully comfy!) - the quiet, the birds singing, the ducks floating on the dugout, the sun coming up and warming the earth, everything green and peaceful.  Today all I seemed to notice was the noise of trucks on Pipeline Road.  Oil traffic, pipeline traffic, but probably not a lot of farm traffic.  Later, as I pulled out of the driveway, I again saw the annoying stakes for the new well that is going in right across from our yard - on our neighbour's land, but it is a horizontal drill and will go under our farm.  You know, like, where our water well is.  The same company was supposed to drill on our land, too, down-wind on the other side of the farm (another horizontal drill going under our farm, and well), but I guess we raised too much fuss over silly little things like noise, and air and water quality.  Silly us.  So the neighbours get a big fat cheque and we get a lawyer's bill.  Silly, silly us.  I'm not blaming the neighbours.  Perhaps you didn't know that oil producers can pretty much drill wherever and whenever they like.  Well, they can.  And they do.

I guess I'm just feeling a little conflicted.  I'm all for progress, and I know the world needs oil (mostly because we're not too interested in checking out other forms of energy!).  But I'd really like the world to get that oil in another place, in someone else's backyard.  Or on our land that is farther from our house.  Yes, that would be best.  Because we moved here for a reason.  Clem's grandfather broke the land we farm, and there have been Schraefels on this land for over a hundred years.  When life was getting too crazy in the city, we knew it was time to bring our little boys out here and give them the freedom we had when we were growing up.  It was so quiet then - I remember them being able to ride their bikes for a mile or more and we didn't have to worry about them.  Now we can't even take a walk down our road without fear of being run over or choking on dust from the oil traffic. (And let's not even get started on the roads when it rains and the 4x4s have lots of fun!!)  That makes me sad.  I really did hope that our boys would have the opportunity to raise their children in this peaceful little spot.  Alas, I do not think it is meant to be.  I'm not really sure if any of them even want to farm, but if they do, it will be a different way of life than they will remember.

And so it's off to work I go, to pay for the private school Derek wants to attend (because our small population - bigger farms, transient oil workers, etc, etc - can't offer the educational opportunities he desires), and for the new vehicle I need to navigate our lovely roads (did I mention there's lots of oil traffic?).

Hmpff.  Progress.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Quick Takes

1.  I am a working woman.  Like, a real job, where you get a paycheck and benefits and things like that.  I am the new office administrator at Arrow Reload, a new facility in town that transloads oil from trucks into railcars.  I wasn't exactly looking for a job, but a friend told me about the opportunity and with Derek heading off to boarding school (a rather expensive boarding school, I might add!), I thought I'd give it a whirl.  Turns out I like it.  (I really like the paycheck I just received!)  And I seem to be handling the whole "work eight hours there and then come home and try to do what I was doing before I was gone eight hours a day" thing.  So far.  Well, there's been one little meltdown - ok, maybe two - but all in all, we're managing.  Clem, of course, is being a dear about it all, and Derek doesn't seem to mind being parentless for most of the day.  Who am I kidding?  He loves being parentless!  What 14-year-old doesn't??

2.  I got the garden in, and it is doing very well, thank you very much.  We've had oodles of rain, so I haven't had to water at all. The weeds are pretty amazing, too, but I go at that a little bit each day.  I must say the yard is looking quite nice this year.  Since I'm working, we don't get to the lake nearly as often.  Had we known, we probably wouldn't have booked the seasonal site, and may not next year.  Besides, with the birds singing, the dugout full, and our peaceful little piece of the prairie, it's almost like being at the lake anyway!  We just need a screened room to keep the mosquitoes out so we can enjoy it!

2.  Clem's nephew graduated from high school.  Clem is the local sound guy, and usually gets asked to take care of that for the ceremonies.  This year, the graduating class sent us two supper tickets as a thank you, which was very nice.  Plus, the sound room is up on the mezzanine, so you get a pretty good view.

The class was a little short of females, so Dylan's partner for the first dance was his buddy, "Shrimp"!
 Pretty dresses!

Dylan dancing with his momma.

Family friends - we both had three boys, all buddies - and we have done a lot of 
commiserating over the years!  You can't tell from this picture, though!

3.  The lease on our van is done, so I decided to switch things up a bit.  This is the first time we haven't had to choose a vehicle based on how many hockey players and their equipment would fit in the back.  After the harsh winter we've had, and all the rain this spring, our roads have taken a beating.  Something with 4WD and a service department closer than Saskatoon was definitely in order!  So now I am sporting a fancy new Ford Escape.  And loving it!

4.  Clem, always the innovator,  devised a great way to clean out the old combine.  He used his trusty lift and a power-washer.  You'll also note his right-hand-man, the golf cart, which gets him around the yard with ease!  (I use it, too, for gardening and yard work.  It saves my back, and a lot of steps!)

5.  Stephen was home for a few days.  He switched a couple of shifts around so he could have a month off and take in the Schan reunion happening in a couple of weeks.  (Rather fortuitous timing, as he broke his wrist his second day off.  I am NOT putting that story on here.  Or the picture of his scarred face!)  This will be the first time in many months that all three of our boys will be here at the same time.  I'm looking forward to it.  I think I'll have someone take a picture, too!

6.  Derek successfully made it through Grade 9.  It's been a bittersweet month for him - and us - as he was anxious to be done the school year but knows he is off to unfamiliar territory in the fall.  It will be an experience, for sure!  All most of his teachers told me that they are really going to miss him in the school, but they think he will do very well at Notre Dame.  Good to hear!

7.  Clem and I spent yesterday afternoon attending first a memorial reception for the father of one of Clem's classmates (she is also our boys' work boss) and then the 80th birthday reception for the mom of one of Clem's best friends.  Amazing how life changes!  An afternoon like that would have been scoffed at a few years ago, but it was really quite enjoyable. 

And that's all for now, folks.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My dad

My dad gave us a scare the other day.  His heart apparently decided that beating at a normal, regular rate was just not cool, and adopted a rather fast and syncopated rhythm. Turns out that's not very good for you.  After a few days of good care and doctoring in the Lethbridge Hospital, he is back home, but taking it easy.  It could be that he was just jealous after all the attention Mom received for Mother's Day and was taking it up a notch, but I can't confirm that.  We are just so very glad that he is feeling better and still with us!

It did get me in a reflective mood, though, and prompted me to dig out some old photos.  This may be the first one of me with my daddy, many, many moons ago, back in that much-too-short period when I was the center of their lives. 

 My dad's dad lived with us then, too.  He was such a wonderful, kind person, and even though he's been gone for 42 years, I still really miss him.   I think, though, that I can see what kind of grandpa he would have been by watching my dad with our boys and my sibling's children.  Shoot, that just makes me miss him more!!

 Here's a scene that has not been uncommon in our family over the years.  My dad played and sang to us, Clem played and sang to our boys, and now I watch my brother playing and singing to his boys. 

  I really miss seeing, and hearing, this!  I guess I may be somewhat biased, but I do have a bit of experience and expertise on the subject, and I believe my dad had one of the best singing voices I ever heard.  (His timing, however, is another story!)  Others thought that, too, and he was forever pestered to sing for whatever occasion - or non-occasion - as the case may be.  He entertained a lot of people over the years, and it was a sad day when he wasn't able to sing for us anymore. I think that's why I so much love this picture that was taken by my sister a few years ago.

 This isn't the best picture of Dad, but it is the most natural, and iconic, I think.  One of his more common poses.

 Dad is a super Grandpa.  He loves spending time with his grandkids, and they love him, too.  Derek has always been his grandpa's boy.  Last summer, when he was considering playing AA hockey, he made up his mind after an hour-long phone conversation with Dad.  I wasn't allowed to even listen in.  And now our little perogie adores his "papa", and even sings songs about him!  I love this three-generation shot.  

Ah, here's another favourite shot - my dad bringing me wine.  Doesn't get much better than that!!

I've learned so much from my dad.  His lessons were mostly by example, not a lot of preaching.  He was pretty busy when we were young - you know, making money so we could eat and have clothes, that kind of thing - but he always had time for an after-supper wrestling match on the living room floor.  He taught me how to ride a bike.  He taught me to love thunder storms.  He taught me that you have to swear when you're chasing cows. He taught me that doing your own income tax isn't that hard.  He taught me that it doesn't matter what others think of you, ("Who are 'they', anyway?"), and that it's OK to do things for yourself sometimes.  He taught me to make decisions with my head, not my heart, and that those decisions don't have to be written in stone.  He taught me to add in my head sometimes, so that I won't come to rely on a calculator to think for me.  And he taught me that he loves me, and his whole family, and that it can be true without being spoken.

Love ya, too, Dad.  Happy Father's Day!!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Hangin' with the boys

Not my boys.  Cute little precious bundles of joy boys.  They belong to my brother and his wife, and the latter invited me in to the city for the afternoon to accompany them to the annual Children's Festival.  This was the last day of a four day event held on the shores of the beautiful Saskatchewan River in downtown Saskatoon, with the stunning Bessborough Hotel as a backdrop.  It was a gorgeous day - not too hot, with a bit of a breeze (she said with her tongue in her cheek - come on, this is Saskatchewan!), but it is quite sheltered on the riverside.

Anyway, I got up a little earlier than usual and headed out for a nice morning drive.  (Props to the highways department for fixing some of those huge craters in good ole highway 51 - hardly spilled any coffee!)  The perogie started talking as soon as he saw me, and never really stopped.  (He reminds me a lot of another little boy I once knew.)  And, he says "auntie" really well, which melts my heart. Once Sammy was up and ready, we took off for the festival.

Rogie absolutely loves music, and was enthralled with the author/entertainer who told stories and sang songs for us. 

After the show they buckled up in this snazzy double seater and we went for a little walk through the park.

 There were various play centers set up for the kids, who were having a ball.  The perogie found this tent, and spent quite a little while going in and out, and playing peekaboo -  such fun!  Who needs expensive battery-operated toys??  I was not allowed in, though.

 He also enjoyed some time in the sandbox.  I must say he was not always this careful with that shovel!!

And happy Sam took it all in stride, smiling all the while!  Next year he'll be running around with the rest of them!

One of the best parts of the day was listening to the boys chat and make each other giggle in the back.  

I love being an aunt, and I am so lucky to get to spend time with these little darlings and their mom! 

Thanks for checking in!