Posted by: Valerie | January 3, 2010

Ten In My Kitchen And An Arctic Trek

OK, so I’ve been slack about getting on with the blog. Extended holidays and a house full of guests will do that every time. At one point over the Christmas break there were 10 people in my kitchen plus an elderly, deaf dog and a freaked-out cat who couldn’t understand why his food kept disappearing. It was chaos as these things always are but everyone got fed appropriately, dishes got washed (we don’t have a dishwasher as we are “green” – actually that’s not the only reason but it’s too tedious to explain here) and people had beds to sleep in except for Katherine who slept on the floor in my office and Stephen and Nancy who bravely slept in their trailer which overwinters in our yard. It was minus 20 something. Joe’s lovely identical twin granddaughters Hope and Patience had a ball sledding down a hill on the property. They are knocking on 6’ tall at age 13 but as teenagers sometimes will, they shed a couple of years and became happy, squealing kids, covered in snow.

Happy girls in the snow

Patience plays for us

We don’t see them often enough but it has been very rewarding to watch them develop through the years I have known them. Patience has always seemed to know what she wanted, is doing well academically and has chosen to play the saxophone which she is doing well. Hope had a period when she seemed a bit confused but the transition to High School has worked well for her and she too is doing well. She has found her niche in wrestling and, I think, was quite disappointed when no-one accepted her invitation to be thrown around the living-room floor.

Hope, Patience and proud (Grand)Papa.

I have always found twins fascinating. If one were to regress to 70’s thinking, I’d have to admit to being a twin too but my twin is internal, as I am a Gemini. I have non-identical twin brothers who were born when I was 14 (by the time I was 18, I felt as if I’d already raised a family). Their personalities are totally different, as are their interests and paths in life. Curiously, both married veterinarians. The organised brother married a pleasingly disorganised woman while his twin’s wife is seriously organised. Am I giving away secrets about myself here?

Other twins that I have known well, have demonstrated completely contrasting personalities to the point where one would surmise that one twin had all of one characteristic while the other had none and vice versa.

The house has been stripped of its decorations – I didn’t have many this year – and it’s time to think of real work again. I have a newsletter to prepare for the second week in January and, predictably, the contributors haven’t got around to contributing as usual. This makes doing a layout rather problematical. Tomorrow I will have to get on the phone and start nagging. Emails are too easy to slough off.

Yesterday we had a call from a neighbour who doesn’t live here. He lives in Hamilton which is several hours drive from here. George asked Joe if he would tramp up to his huge metal quonset that he has installed adjacent to our property (!!!) and see that it was secure as he has some extremely expensive stuff stored there. Joe gamely said yes although he knew that it would be very difficult traversing the 2′ deep snow without snowshoes. It is our usual no-snow walk which normally takes about 25 minutes but in this weather, it was more like a whole chapter from a Jack London story. I have a shortness of breath problem and I didn’t get far at all before I turned back but Joe plodded on. At 76, he waded to the top rim of an old quarry at the bottom of which lies the quonset, slid down on his back and came back another route which involved climbing a five-bar gate.  Then of course he collapsed in his armchair and groaned about his aching muscles. Surprise!

As I write this, Joe is sitting at his computer, plaintively calling “Hello” repeatedly as he tries to set up Skype so that he can chat to all his Hungarian relatives and pals. I think his limited success is likely due to the fact that we are on satellite but I’m going to install it on my machine and see if I have any better success. It really pisses me off that we are about the only people left in Canada without a high-speed connection. (Don Cox excepted – he has only recently graduated from dial-up!) And we pay an absolute fortune monthly for the satellite to make the insult worse.  Satellite has its disadvantages beyond the expense and slower speed. The dish fills with snow, the dish is on the roof, the dish is pointed away from the only window from which it can been reached. Snow on the dish means no internet. Cleaning it off involves Joe hanging out the window with a car-cleaning brush and thumping optimistically.

If this gets any longer, I will need a publisher.

A bientot.


  1. You are an interesting woman, Val and an observer of the whimsical. Joe’s valiant effort to help out a neighbour was bordering on the heroic.
    I hope your “neighbour” appreciates what he had to go through. Perhaps he would buy him snowshoes for the next trek. Trust that everything was OK and there were no footprints other than Joe’s around the Quonset hut.

    (What is in there?)

    The girls are a treat to see. I am fascinated by twins. I never even had a sister and because I was so much younger than my nearest sibling, I felt like an only child. The two brothers were both away in the army when I was 9 and on.

    I noticed a nice picture of the style of my Norman Knott’s. What is the artist’s name? Strange how they have a similar style. I love it.

    I find the week between Christmas and New Years
    the longest of the year. Our company (family) have all gone and I miss them because I never know when I will see them again and we are getting so decrepit.

    • Nice response, Betty. Thanks. The picture on the wall is of course aboriginal. It was among the very first items I bought when I first arrived in Canada and started to furnish our home. It’s been with me ever since. The artist is Isaac Bignell, a Cree from The Pas area.

      To answer your question the quonset contains many thousands of $$$$ of solar equipment plus an antique car and all sorts of building equipment. He plans to build a house on the edge of our property too – in fact he wants to buy a corner of it from us. I can’t see any advantage to us there, only for him. Not sure how that will pan out.

      It’s a horrid thought about not be able to see family again and one best not dwelt upon, I think. Some things are better not.

      Just to bring a smile I must report that Joe collapsed into his His Chair the other day and complained about feeling dilapidated. I loved it. Sometimes his Hungarian English can be very amusing.

  2. What great looking girls–maybe modeling would be something in their future?

    • It certainly could be. Their mother is against it though – especially if their Dad were for it. Eventually they will be able to make their own decisions.

  3. I think twins are interesting to everyone, including twins. I always felt I had enough with having two sisters.

    We have had constant snow falling here since about Friday and while the weather thingy on the web says 3 mm yesterday, I do not believe it for a minute, as there was at least a foot when I went out this morning! I know, it was drifts but it is a LOT.

  4. Val, in the better weather, set up a ladder, get a square yard or so, whatever is the most efficient size of clear plastic wrap, like the stuff people use to winterize their windows. Wrap the satellite dish tight as a drum & tape securely on the back. A hairdryer is used to tighten the fit. Whenever it rains, ices or snows, the plastic sheds everything leaving the dish clear. Unfortunately I have no tips for clearing the signal path between dish & satellite.

    • Good idea, Rosemary. I’ll get someone else to do it though as I don’t like being on roofs. Next time we get the roof shovelled – which might be very soon. Are you badly snow-bound? How on earth do you get the feed out to the fields in bad snow? The (un)trusty old tractor?

  5. I think family dynamics as a whole are most interesting. Birth order too seems to affect people. I know that as the eldest of five I felt like an unpaid servant, especially after our twins were born.

    • As the youngest of five I was thoroughly spoiled–however having 4 of my own, soon got me out of my little princess mode!!

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