I have friends with young children. In an effort to engage them in conversation they encourage them to “use your words”. Words are my most valuable tool. I want to use them wisely, for good, not for evil and I want to be understood. I am frustrated when I can’t remember the correct usage of commonly misused words and am bugged by words that are constantly out of context. I appreciate the use of words instead of symbols. This weekend I was in a beautiful recreation facility where the stylized washroom signs and arrows had many people confused. In the past I’ve used ovens in relatives’ homes and wasn’t able to figure them out properly because the little pictures were more of a puzzle than obvious directions. We pride ourselves on our literacy rate and yet so many simple things are made less so because of the lack of words. Words are great and I’m going to keep using them.


Some people live in a place they can call home. There are those who live in communities with relatives and childhood friends. Others can make themselves at home wherever they may lay their head at night and still others who drive across the border every time they have a 3-day weekend. We live very close to Alberta and when we head out on the highway for a holiday tour of the province the roads are teeming with Alberta plates and SUVs. I can proudly say I’ve never left this province but sometimes I feel so close to the edge I can’t feel the heart.

Holidays bring me home, sometimes the venue is a little different but with the same crowd I know I am where I belong. There are familiar voices and tastes and always something new to try during the meal. I find home with the people I love and the holidays don’t depend as much on the calendar as when we gather together.

Our family dinners were early this year so we had Easter Sunday all to ourselves. We attended church, drove to a golf course and bought lunch for friends, had a cool drink in the backyard with neighbours while the afternoon sun beat down, had a quiet family ham and played a board game. It wasn’t a traditional day for me but with family spread out all over the place it was fine because we had celebrated the holiday early. It was actually nice to not have to rush home exhausted from the drive but still facing a couple of hours of work before bed.

The kids and husband still have several days off so we’ll try to make the week special looking for home in each other sharing laughs, adventures and chocolate.

Twice today as I’ve felt the warmth of the sun seep into my chilled bones I’ve also felt the tickle of snowflakes on my skin. Like dust or ash it sparkles but it isn’t. It is a lingering reminder of a season that won’t end and an April fighting to let new life rise up. Easter falls next weekend almost as late as possible and I’m wondering if the moons and readings setting its date have also been playing with the sky. The days are too long and the sun too bright for snow. During the spring I double up on sunglasses and wish for green hues in the fields to keep my eyes from burning. I love the sun and the warmth but as driving is a necessary part of my life I find myself doubling up on sunglasses looking ridiculous for the sake of my corneas and forehead wrinkles.

There is still enough water sitting in the spots in town that until recently were boggy homes to frogs and ducks so we don’t need the moisture. My son is dismayed we are back to square one on his quest for a mud-free path to school and his puddle hopscotch games have to continue.

Dear Spring,
You are invited to Maidstone, please don’t worry about over staying your welcome. Everyone is really excited to see you. Don’t tell the snow you’re coming just slip into town, there’s plenty to see and do.
P.S. Bring your rubber boots and watch for the potholes.

Health update

So here is an update on my injured arm. The news is that I have seen the doctor at Royal University Hospital in the ortho department today and had another X-ray done, and the good news is that I am healing up very well from my arm injury, as new bone has been forming. I was also given a number of exercises to do with my arm to get it back to working order.

As I am writing this I am able to typeg again with both hands. I expect to do a bit of typing in the next few days to rehabilitate my hands and get them back to working again. The problem is my hands are rather stiff at the moment, so the typing I am doing is really more to aid in my recovery so I am ready to get back to full-time typing at work.

I still expect it will take a while for both hands to be fully functioning again. I’m also not to do much more than light use of my hands and arm at the moment for eating and reading books and so on.

It’s still a long road to a full recovery, but in any event the good news is I am now well enough to go back to work beginning next week. Using the keyboard at work should go a long way towards getting my hands back in solid working order. Also, I should be well enough to be able to attend the SWNA convention this weekend and lift a fork to eat their food.

Thanks to everyone at the paper for their well-wishes and for putting up with this situation for the past number of weeks. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m really looking forward to going back to work.

Flood watch

 As many communities in Saskatchewan sit on the edges of their sandbags waiting for the consequences of spring melt to hit home, those of us living in the Northwest are much more relaxed. According to the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority, the Battlefords and north are classified as being in “near normal” territory, as far as spring runoff is concerned.

Areas south are in a “well above normal” zone down to about Lancer. South of there, until reaching the edge of the Cypress Hills, the area is deemed “above normal.” The area south of that line, including Maple Creek and east to Val Marie is deemed “very high.” If you’re interested, the map can be found at http://www.swa.ca/WaterManagement/MonthlyForecast/ProvincialForecast.pdf. So, as I sit snugly on my sand point overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley from the Battleford side, I am content in knowing my property and family are safe from being washed away. And as I make that observation I am again impressed with the foresight of the Battlefords and their planners over the years for the complete lack of development along the river’s flood plain. Some despair at the wild, natural quality of our river valley, but I like to think a majority enjoy it just the way it is. A few low maintenance hiking trails, a ball and soccer facility that might take a little cleanup if flooded, but wouldn’t be completely devastated — it’s all impressively sensible and I’m proud to be a citizen of such a community. Our hearts go out to Eastend, however. That community, located in an arid corner of the Palliser Triangle, is almost completely built on the flood plain of the Frenchman River.

I grew up on a farm at Consul and recall visiting the museum in Eastend on different occasions with my Dad. There are two central themes to the displays there: dinosaurs and “the flood.” I am ashamed to admit I don’t remember the year the Frenchman River overwhelmed the community, but I have a vague recollection of those startlingly clear black and white photos one associates with large format glass negatives. So I’ll leave the actual timing of the previous flood vague, as I was unable to find any references on line and I’m too lazy to dig out the Atlas of Saskatchewan to see if there is a reference there. Besides, I’m on medical leave with strict orders to not lift anything heavier than two or three pounds. That book would exceed the limit.

The Frenchman River was subsequently dammed west of the town and I always assumed that was for flood control purposes, but this excerpt from the Southwest Booster website indicates I’m mistaken.

“Farmsteads adjacent to the creeks and rivers in this basin, as well as the Town of Eastend, are at risk for flooding. The water supply reservoir behind Eastend Dam does not provide flood control benefits. Rural and urban residents are reminded to stay away from the fast moving water and to take necessary preparations to protect themselves and their property.

“The Watershed Authority has issued an advisory for high runoff and flooding potential along the Frenchman River and Battle and Lodge Creeks. As the snow pack in the Cypress Hills is not yet melting and runoff has barely started, there is the potential for very high flows along all three waterways. ”

Anecdotal reports indicate the Frenchman River Valley is amazingly clogged with snow right from Cypress Lake to the west all the way to the town.

Eastend is a wonderfully picturesque town, and I’m hoping the residents there can dodge any major damage from the big melt.

I’ll try to not be too smug as I observe developments from the security of my sand point. And if I become complacent, there is always the foolish 4WD mud flingers visiting the flats below for amusement. It would be nice to see the energy they expend in extracting themselves from their own stupidity channeled into a sandbagging detail somewhere.

I love supporting arts and culture in this nation, especially talented individuals from right here in Saskatchewan.

A band from Saskatoon, The Sheepdogs, has gained fame across North America as they compete for a chance to have their smiling faces on the cover of the Rolling Stone. They made it through the 1st round of voting and are now part of an elite group of 8 finalists in the second round of voting ending on April 14th. Their 1st round shot had them seated in a vintage car and their current one shows the band sporting the Canadian flag.

Up for grabs in the contest is a recording contract as well as the rock and roll honour of gracing the cover. Saskatchewan is home to so many talented artists of all types and when someone succeeds it opens the door for others to break through. I voted, I thought it was worth my minute and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Burr in my butt

It has been a long, long slog of a winter and we are all ready for the white stuff to melt.

An unfortunate side effect of the melt, is the mountains of garbage of all descriptions that are revealed. I am always dismayed at the tons of fast food containers, discarded bags, boxes and miscellaneous debris of all kinds that show up in the ditches, on the streets and in our yards (not to mention all those piles of doggy doo to be encountered beside and upon the cross-country ski trails on Finlayson Island.

And as much as we are longing to say goodbye to the snowdrifts, I am not looking forward to another kind of drift that will replace them. That would be cigarette butt drifts.

I’m not going to go on an anti-smoking tirade. There are plenty of others doing their part in that quarter, putting icky sick lung photos on cigarette packages and militantly banning puffing from anywhere but the darkest and most disreputable alleys.

I blame that militancy, in part, to the proliferation of cigarette butts along every sidewalk, in every gutter and sadly, on my own driveway. The militants take only part of the blame, however, because the major onus for this disgusting development is smokers themselves.

Smokers do not see butts as trash. In their mind a cigarette butt is an innocuous bit of fluff that will biodegrade and return to its organic components almost immediately upon being tossed and ground with a heel.

I have news for them. They are not. I theorize filtered cigarette butts, even after being mined for a few remaining shreds of tobacco but the most desperate of nicotine fiends, have a half-life equivalent to that of plutonium. Essentially, that means they never, never, never disappear.

Here are some observations I’ve made in the past couple days: a co-worker desperately puffing away hasty final drags before entering the building, tosses her butt right in front of the door; a dear friend, whom I am extremely fond of, sees nothing wrong with tossing his butts on my driveway; any area where people are forced to congregate to smoke outside their places of business of work will be equipped with a receptacle for butts, but there will still be a huge pile of them surrounding that container.

I know it is bad form to focus on just one form of garbage, but let’s just say this one put a burr in my butt this week.

Keep puffing if you must, but butt out in the trash!