Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's Boxing Day.  The house is a bit of a mess, with bits of wrapping paper scattered amongst the remnants of snack mix, half-eaten boxes of chocolates, and discarded packaging from Christmas gifts.  And I keep seeing bows in the strangest places.   My boys were busy little elves!  Clem has gone back to bed after a breakfast of leftover turkey on a homemade bun (thanks, Mom!)  The older boys haven't been up yet, much to Derek's delight, since he now gets the new Wii all to himself.   I'm sitting here in the sunshine having a really good cup of black coffee and a piece of my mom's famous fudge.  Tradition. Gotta love it.  It's also nice knowing I can sit here in my housecoat pretty sure that no one is going to drive in the yard!

We celebrated a relatively quiet Christmas here.  Ten people all together.  At first I was a little disappointed thinking about having so few, and was actually scrounging around looking for others to invite.  But after all is said and done, it was a very good day.  Very laid back, casual, easy.  Like wearing an old sweater.  Cozy and comfortable and wrapped in love.  

Our Christmas Eve mass was packed with people.  Derek even noticed that the young doctor, who is covering for our regular doctor, was there.  And when I say young, I mean young.  I was tempted to ask to see his ID.  He looks like he might still be in high school!  All the little kids were dressed in their finest, and barely able to sit still.  (I laughed when one little girl came over to her mother after mass, hairpiece in hand, and said "I am so done with this!")  The choir outdid themselves.  We always sing carols for about half an hour before mass begins, which everyone seems to enjoy.  It really sets a mood.  Then there is a candlelight procession while we all sing "Silent Night", with one verse in German.  There's that tradition again!  And of course it's always nice to greet the visitors who are home with family.  

The weather has smartened up a bit.  It got all the way up to -15 degrees Celcius yesterday,  which was oh-so-much nicer than the week of -30 we had previously.  (That's 5 above and 22 below for those of you operating in Fahrenheit!)  And did I mention the windchill?  On the upside, my cold storage room has stayed cold enough to keep the overflow from the fridge. Always a silver lining.  Plus, we're not in Winnipeg.  (Just a jab at my brother, who IS in Winnipeg for Christmas with his wife's family.  Not usually a holiday destination, but hey, they're going to Colombia in February.)

My sister called on Christmas Eve from an internet cafe on Easter Island.  (I really think she needs to write a song -  "I'm Spending Christmas on Easter Island...")  Now THAT is definitely a holiday destination.  She said it is hot, hot, hot.  She was planning to spend Christmas day with a family there, so I am anxious to hear about their traditions.

Clem's 92-year-old aunt Anne called from Thunder Bay to say Merry Christmas, and to thank him for the CD player he sent her.  She is jumping right into the new millenium!  We also talked to Clem's aunt Louise in Winnipeg.  They are such dears, and we enjoy so hearing from them.  

We had many friends drop in for visits in the days leading up to Christmas, which was very nice, especially since I was actually ready a few days early this year.  I know, I can hardly believe it myself.  Oh, I was still stressing out about a few little details (like Clem's present!!!) Christmas Eve morning, but hey, no one's perfect!  

So all in all, it's been a wonderful few days.  We're grateful to have our loved ones around us, and we miss those who aren't, but we're keeping them in our thoughts and prayers.  Hope you have all had a great Christmas, and thanks for taking some time to drop by!

PS:  I was browsing a few other blogs I enjoy, and came across this little gem.  Totally unrelated to this post, but what the heck - I thought it was a hoot!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good news, bad news

Windows are clean.  It's snowing.

That's it for now!  Just letting you know we're still here!!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm just sitting here in the office looking out at the sunshiney day (which isn't all that easy with windows as dirty as ours), enjoying the peace and quiet (read: trying to ignore the songs Adam is downloading off itunes), and thought I'd write a little hockey recap for all of you faithful readers.  Because I have time, since there is NO HOCKEY at all today.  It's a little wierd, like I forgot to put something on the calendar.  But I'm sure someone will phone if that's the case...

Back to the recap.   Derek's team won, and then won, and then won again, and, oh yeah, they won yesterday, too.   It's a good thing there are always some parents to visit with at those games, because the hockey is not all that exciting.  They are booked into a Tier II tournament at Martensville next Saturday, so I hope they run into some real competition there.   They really need that.

And I'm glad I'll have to miss the next Midget game that day, too, since a team with a real reputation for dirty hockey and fighting is coming to town.   There is certainly no shortage of testosterone on any of the teams in this league.  They are dropping gloves at the drop of a hat (helmet?), and our team is no exception.  Adam in particular likes to mix it up a bit.  The coach and two of the dads told us how well he held is own in the fight at North Battleford.  I'm so proud...  Anyway, he's been sick this past week, so he didn't play last night against Unity.  We saw some pretty good hockey, though.  It was a fast, tight game, and Stephen certainly showed up for it.  He got our first goal, a hard slap from the blue line (we're pretty sure it's the new stick - not!), and an assist on another one.  Plus he managed to stay out of the penalty box.  Good thing - it was standing room only in there.  So the Midgets are 5 and 1 so far this year, and looking to stay at the top of the pack.  

Clem is babysitting the neighbor's cattle, and remembering once more why he isn't a beef farmer.  It's a very good reminder.  

I am trying to get geared up for Christmas, which means I am in a state of paralysis, thinking about everything that needs to get done in the next 24 days.  I like a challenge, though, and seem to work best under pressure, so I'm sure I can put it all off for a little while yet.  I may even iron - a sure sign of procrastination.

Bye for now.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 17, 2008


I figured since I haven't posted in such a long while that I should catch you all up on the happenings around here!


We have new steps to our front door!


I finally got a photo of Adam in his new car.  He just loves it when I do that!

So does Stephen.  Don't they look thrilled to have mommy snapping pictures?


Some moose have decided that they need to make camp in our yard.  They love the apples on the trees, and actually just the trees in general.  The dog freaks out, but she doesn't scare them one bit.  We have taken to shooting the pellet gun at them (yes, even me!), or getting Stephen to throw rocks at them.  That scares them away for a bit.  There are three of them, but there are only two in this photo (look to the right, in the garden).   I took a video right after this, standing right on the edge of the deck, and the old cow didn't even blink.  The moose, that is.  I screamed and ran back into the house when she snorted at me, which is why I can't show you the video.  I sound like a sissy.  And the boys are laughing at me.  All digitally recorded.


This is the boys' upstairs laundry hamper.  I have fondly nicknamed it Mt. Washmore.


I walked into the office the other day and found this.  Somewhat disconcerting, until I realized that it was just shortly after Halloween.


Derek has taken an interest in abstract photography.  I think it started one evening when he was grounded from both TV and computer, and just had to get his hands on something electronic.  Some of the shots were surprisingly good.  Judge for yourself.  (Or it could, just possibly, be a mother's bias...)

This one just makes me laugh.


Hockey has resumed with a vengence.  Adam and Stephen are both on the same team this year, the Prairie Thunder midgets.  They are undefeated after four games.  Stephen is proving himself more than able to handle things around the blue line as a first year player.  Adam is learning that he is more of a lover than a fighter, and received a broken nose last night just to drive the point home.  We are learning that it is AWESOME to have another driver in the family, as they can now get themselves to and from practice quite nicely, thank you very much.  They players aren't allowed to drive to away games, which is just fine by me.   I'd feel silly following them to the rink.


Derek's team took first in yet another tournament.  I think I could count on one hand the number of losses that team has suffered since they first started playing together.  It's a bit embarrassing.  Derek is having a ball again.  He was literally jumping up and down today when he remembered he had practice tonight because "I just love skating, Mom!"  I'm sure the hockey politics will soon knock that enthusiasm right out of him.  In the meantime, we're enjoying it!

So thanks for continuing to stop by.  I know some of you have been checking in, wondering what in the heck is going on, and I apologize.  It's crazy, I know, but sometimes little things get in the way of blogging - laundry, hockey meetings, choir practice, cleaning toilets (my mom was coming, remember?)  But I will try to be more diligent from now on!


Return from the Center of the Universe

Or Toronto, as some people call it!   Clem received a call a few weeks ago about a retirement party in Toronto for a fellow he used to work with at CP, so we took advantage of that opportunity and turned it into a four-day get-away.  It was great!  Well, the 30 mile drive on glare ice on the way to the airport and the fire alarm that woke us in our 19th floor hotel room weren't great,  but the rest certainly was!

Clem took his first plane ride in 12 years, and I must say he handled it very well, considering he said 12 years ago that he would never get on another plane.  Actually, he said it was way easier to take than the cab ride from Pearson airport to the pub where the retirement party was being held!

Clem and another friend, Dave, surprised Vince at his retirement party, and I must say the look on Vince's face was worth the air fare to get there.  It was a great evening of reminiscing and catching up, and we were so glad we went.  Clem, Dave, and Vince were the three managers of Work Equipment for CP in Canada from 1993-1996, and they were apparently quite the characters.  Clem has seen Dave since then, but not Vince, so the three of them had great visits over the weekend.  Here they are at lunch the next day.

 We took in the fantastic Hockey Hall of Fame, but only for an hour, so I'm sure we missed some things.  But as Clem says, there are only so many ways to display sticks, sweaters, and skates.  He also thought it looked a little like our porch, only without the smell.  This wall of pucks is the first thing you see when you arrive.

Then it's on to the great ones, like Gordie Howe...

Wayne Gretzky (Clem's favorite!)...

and Larry Robinson.

We were a bit disappointed by the display around the 1972 Canada-Russia series, but they did have Paul Henderson's jersey. 

And it is really a thrill to see Lord Stanley's cup in all it's glory.

Here's the puck used in the 1901 championship game where Winnipeg defeated Montreal.

I loved the sculpture outside the entrance, which really captures the spirit of hockey.

The architecture of the building itself is amazing.  They kept the outside facade of the buildings, and completely renovated the interior to create one huge space.

This last little bit of information we learned from Clem's cousin, Cliff, who invited us and Clem's nephew, Brendan, for a truly exceptional fine dining experience.  Cliff is the director of business operations for a group of restaurants in the Toronto area, as well as part owner of four of them.  We met for drinks at Canoe, a pricey place frequented by corporate types, on the 54th floor of the TD tower.  We had an incredible night view of downtown Toronto, including of course the CN tower, which was all lit up with changing colors.  Cliff gave us a tour of the kitchen and the chef treated us to a sample of some of their wonderful appetizers.  We then walked over to Jump, a trendier and popular bar and restaurant, and took a quick tour.  Then it was off to Biff's for dinner of French cuisine.  Great food, great wine, and great company.  It was truly a night to remember.  

We got to see Brendan again before we left on Sunday.  He and his girlfriend, Kristy, invited us for brunch with Brendan's dad, Cam and Gail.  I had never met Cam, and Clem hadn't seen him since about 1981, so we had a wonderful visit catching up and learning about each others' lives.

Another highlight of the trip was a bus tour to Niagara Falls.  It really is a must-see place.  Even though the weather was dreadful - raining, windy, foggy - we had a very enjoyable day.  

These are the American falls.

This is the power generating station, a massive structure on the Niagara River.  Cars drive on the top of it.

There is a whirlpool down the river from the falls.  Some foolish people chose to take a ride over it - but not us!

Aren't we fashionable!  We met a very nice Belgian fellow on the tour, and he agreed to take our picture.  

Back in Toronto, we stopped in at St. Michael's Cathedral, situated close to our hotel, and it is an impressive building.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We Have a Winner!

I may have overdone the "building the tension" thing a bit by not posting anything for, oh, about 12 days or so, but if any of you are still hanging on, thanks for your patience.   We have made it through drywall patching and painting in the kitchen, a new cement pad and stairs to the front entrance, a First Nations protest of the pipeline project in town, a birthday (Clem's), an anniversary (ours - 19 years, thank you very much),  the fall supper at the church, work parties at the rink to fix things up, three hockey meetings,  a two-day 3-on-3 hockey tournament in Kindersley, shooting at coyotes to scare them out of the yard, and a Thanksgiving supper with about 40 of our favorite relatives.   For some reason, I just couldn't seem to fit in a bit of blogging.  I have been thinking about all of you, though, and picking the winning title for the blog, and taking pictures to document all of these exciting events.   Unfortunately, Derek needed the camera for something today, and I haven't seen it since.  The camera, I mean.  Derek I've seen.  And heard.  A lot.   You'll have to wait for the pictures, though.

The favorite blog title seems to be...  drum roll, please.... "Scratchings in the Dirt", which, ironically, is one that I dreamt up.  It seems to apply to much of our life here on the prairie, and it just sounds, oh, I don't know, literary or something.  So that's what I chose.  It was hard, though.  There were some excellent entries, and I really appreciate the effort you all put into my little game.  It was fun.  It's over.  I win.  

Thanks for stopping by again.  Good night!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy Birthday, Carl!

Clem's brother is 50 today.  Yep, 50.  The big five-O.  That's five times on all your fingers, boys and girls.  

Carl is one of the reasons we started this blog.  He travels.  A lot.  And he lives far away.  Very far away.  Saudi Arabia, to be exact.  And United Arab Emirates before that.  And Botswana before that.   And Ottawa before that.  So this is how we keep him up-to-date with what's going on in our lives.  And he is the best commentor.  He must check this thing every day.  (He must be very bored!)     And he almost always leaves a comment.  That's how we know he's still alive and kicking.  And so we want to wish him a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  

I'm a little tired tonight (see previous post), not to mention lazy, and I can't seem to find a picture of Carl.   So I'm going to show you one he took when he was home for a visit.  It is my all-time favorite photograph.  It was taken out at the Smiley stone wall (local oddity, for those of you not from here!)  And my boys are in it, too, so what could be better than that.

Thanks for stopping in.  Good night!


Hello?  Hello?  Anybody out there?  (Besides Tina, I mean.   Tina's great and everything, but we're brainstorming here, folks.)  Hello?  This is not a lecture.  If you need to know the difference between brainstorming and a lecture, you can ask my boys.  They've heard lots and lots of lectures.   But I digress.  Since you are too shy to comment with your ideas, could you perhaps vote on some of mine?  Here's what I thought of tonight.  (Please keep in mind that I stayed up too late last night, got up too early this morning, drove two hours to a funeral, visited withtoo many people, drove two hours home again, and then attended a book signing in a very warm library, so the creativity is down just a tad.)

1.  The Queen Bee (personal favorite, dripping with sarcasm)

2.  I Didn't Marry a Farmer (there's a story here that I would post if we go with the title!)

3.  A Little Piece of Quiet (plagiarized somewhat from a book given to me by my dear mother)

4.  The Toilet Seat Stays Up (a husband and three boys - think about it)

5.  Maid's Day Off (again with the sarcasm)

6.  Scratchings in the Dirt 

7.   ?

That's it, guys.   I'm empty.  Your turn!

Monday, September 29, 2008

OK, listen up, folks.  Time for a new name for this blog, and I am taking suggestions from you, our valued readers.  (Some of you might have to de-lurk for just a moment, but it's for a good cause.)  I've been doing a bit of surfing and reading myself - since I have absolutely nothing else to do - and there are some decidedly witty blogs out there, with interesting and quirky and pun-ish titles.  The Mother Load (love it!), Testosterhome (too good), Deathbed Moment (see what I mean about quirky?).  The options are endless!  So put on your thinking caps while you're sitting there wasting time trying to vicariously be a farmer.  I'm going to go read some more because, like I said, I have absolutely nothing else to do!

Thanks for checking in!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Combines, knees, and UFO's

I thought I better let you all know that we finished the harvest! It went very well, and although Clem had expected a better yield, we are more than satisfied. So many farmers aren't done yet, and my heart goes out to them. The weather hasn't been great, so things are taking a while to cure up and dry out.

My garden yielded well, though. Holy tomatoes, Batman! Check this out!

I just love all the fall colors in the yard.

This is the view from my new deck in the morning.

And speaking of my new deck, here it is!
Now for a bit of landscaping. Although soon all will be covered in white and I won't have to think about it!

I won't be posting any more football happenings. Both the boys have called it quits. I don't like the idea of them ending their commitment to the team, but I am rather proud of them for standing up for what they believe. Plus, no more football injuries! Stephen was on crutches for a week with a bad knee, but it turns out it is likely just a muscle injury (not ligament, thank goodness!) and some physical therapy should have him ready for hockey in no time. Did I just say that?

Thanks for stopping by. If you hear any screaming coming from the Schraefel ranch, don't be alarmed. It's just me trying to figure out my new cell phone. I'll let you know when there are no more flying objects (think cell phones, or computers) and it's safe to come for another visit.

Bye for now!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We are about three-quarters done with this year's harvest. It has all gone pretty smoothly (if you don't count that little "running over the header" incident), and the quality and quantity of grain are amazing. We are very nearly out of bin space, which is a good problem to have, if you have to have a problem at harvest.

Clem can't say enough good things about his "boys" as combine operators. They spend quite a few hours in those machines, having the odd race to spur each other on. That takes a crop off quickly! I can't help but wonder how much food they would eat, though, if they were actually doing the physical labor that our ancestors did during harvest. I can't keep up now!

Clem has taken about a gazillion photos of fields, combines, trucks, and augers over the years. As many of you will know, we are organizationally challenged, and we spend a lot of time sifting through photos. I think all the harvest ones look the same, but Clem always seems to know what year they were taken. Good thing. Because "one of these days", I am going to organize all the photos and use up my $800 or so worth of scrapbooking supplies that are in a box somewhere in the basement. Don't stop in that day. It won't be pretty. I have many tasks to complete on that "one" of these days.

But back to harvest. For you farmer types, I will tell you that we got a new truck this spring, a Freightliner modified with a box and hoist. Only Clem can drive it. He's in love with it, actually. (I don't mind - I'm in love with my new deck. But that's a different post.) We also purchased a new combine and a new auger. Well, they are new to us. It's like a someone picked us up and dropped us on a farm in the 21st century! We also bought a new header for Adam's combine, after "someone" forgot to clamp it on the combine properly and it fell off and someone else drove over it. It's sitting in the neighbor's field now, and every time we drive by it, Clem says, "That's Adam's header", like I don't know, and there are dozens of headers sitting around in fields near our farm. But back to harvest.

Here are the guys combining some peas.

This is Adam. Just look at that sky!

Here they are straight-cutting wheat. They can really boogie.
Just pretend you don't see the wild oats.
This is the new truck, in one of Clem's artistic shots. One of my favorite photos this year.  That's Stephen in the "new" combine.
Here's a shot of Clem unloading with the new auger. And that's the harvest moon in the background!
Another shot of that amazing moon. There's also a combine and truck there, if you look closely.
Love that moon...

Here's our lane with all the fall colors in the shelterbelt.
And here's Derek and his new bestest friend, Roxy.

Harvest is such a beautiful time of the year on the farm. I was trying to decide the other day if I liked spring or fall best. Spring because everything is green and new and bursting with life, or fall because of the colors and the smells (and knowing that soon all this outside work will come to an end!!) It's a toss-up. But this photo gives fall the edge, for now.

Another day's work done, and God gives us a painting as our reward. Thanks for dropping by.