On June 8th our esteemed nephew Ben Bleakley (David & Inga’s son) walked across the stage to receive his Bachelor’s degree at U of C. What a handsome & wonderful man he is!

Ben Graduates

He & his girlfriend, Omanthi, left the next day for their SE Asian adventure!  We’ve received a few photos from them – my favourite with this beautiful elephant!


A very special event happened on June 24th – not quite on Mom & Leslie’s birthdays, but not far after.  Here he is:  Quinton Lee Salenga, 8 pounds, 10 ounces.  So the first of the Usher cousins became a grandparent – Granny Butler (Kim)!  Desiree & Carm are the proud & happy parents of this cute little bundle of joy.  Look at those cheeks!


Ace of Spades (our landscaper) has started working on our landscaping.  They finally delivered our water tank (holds 1000 gallons!) to collect rainwater & it will be automatically used in the irrigation system until it runs out – then town water will “kick in”.


A HUGE pile of mulch was delivered on the street & boulevard in front of the house.


We have white rocks around the house outlined in the black interlocking bricks.  There is a dry pond which collecs overflow of rainwater.


It took a complete day to spread the cedar mulch in all sections of the yard.  From the front porch, looking right to the back yard.  That little row of bushes are lilacs.


Looking left to the front yard:


On Saturday June 29th, our dear friend Debra (from Vancouver) visitied us for the 1st time! We were so happy to have her here!


The weather was absolutely perfect – blue skies, temps in the low 20’s & a very light breeze.  We took her out to the Hills & checked out our bluebird boxes where we found both Mountain Bluebirds & Tree Swallows in most of the boxes.  Here is one of the boxes David made us with a little swallow head poking out (& mate sitting on the fence).

then the female bluebird – couldn’t get a shot of her in the box.

Blue Bird, female

Too bad we couldn’t find the male – she’s not quite up to his glory!  Here’s a reminder for those who don’t know (taken by Bill in this area a couple of years ago).


There were lots of wildflowers in bloom.  Black-eyed susans & wild roses to name a couple.

Debra very kindly took us out for dinner the 2nd night & we had a lovely meal at the Star.  Here we are after walking home.


You gotta include a selfie every now & then eh?

On July 1st, we flew our Canadian flag from our new flagpole & I wore my Canada t-shirt.

We had more visitors – from Calgary & area.  Bill’s business partner who started LivingWorks, Richard Ramsay – along with his wife Carol, 2 daughters & 1 son-in-law.

We’ve had a really great time having visitors.  We have more scheduled over the summer & fall!  I have taken my Mom’s advice & put some treats into my freezer for when someone unexpectedly drops by!  (Thanks Mom)  No sugar added carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing.


Not professional, but tasty.

Our landscaping has taken a turn for the worse – with the fellow we hired giving up after we discovered the sod had not been laid correctly.  The soil hadn’t been levelled correctly & when Bill mowed, it would cut some grass down to the quick & some left long.  So Blaine (our builder) has taken over.  He has A LOT of experience laying sod & will do a perfect job, I know. (& he did!)




July 23, 23 & 25th:  Our dear friends Lorne & Joey Kingwell visited!  We drove them out to the Cypress Hills & took them out to our birding area at the ranch east of town.


What fun to have them stay over instead of getting up from dinner & going home!

A few days later, our friends from Saskatoon came to stay – Ron & Julie Jensen!  They are some of our SK birding buds.


Then it was time for the big reunion!  Our dear cousins, Karen & Penny planned not only a Primo’s get-together – but included all their children & grandchildren as well.  The total number of visitors was about 60 people!


Many stayed in the Cypress Hills campground, many in the Lodge there – while Mom & Brian stayed here with us!  I made dinner for Mom, Brian, Uncle Bud, Penny & Wilf.  Joan & Norm joined us later for dessert, since they were out of town visiting other relatives until then.

On Aug. 4th in the evening, we headed to the the campground for a pot-luck dinner.  Penny & Karen had cooked ham & turkey (with all the trimmings) – plus others had contributed snacks, salads & desserts.  Uncle Bud also made the trip, though he doesn’t like to travel.  It will probably be the last time the brother & sister get together.  This I felt, was the definitive photo of the weekend!


Pretty cool eh?  Bud aged 95 & Mom 98!  The next night we had a buffet dinner with everyone at the Lodge.  It was an excellent roast beef dinner with saskatoon pie for dessert (& lots of other great offerings).  Here are a few photos from the event.  I will not label everyone – but wanted to put a few of my favourites in the blog:


I have to mention that Frannie was one of the stars of the show, as she danced with the “image” of Steve!  Ha ha!


I asked anyone who was coming back through Maple Creek to stop in to see our new house here & was so happy to have lots of visitors stop in!


The Ushers arrived at exactly the same time as cousin Lorne!


Erling & Anne are on their way to the east coast!

We took Mom & Brian to the overlook at the hills.  You can see for nearly 50 km on a clear day (& it was a lovely clear day!).

In mid-Aug we had our deck awning installed.  The installer is an important member of LivingWorks (Bill’s ex-company) – Tim Houle.  He owned this awning business before he joined LW & decided to come out to install it himself (with an assistant).

Here is the awning with Tim installing.  Also, I have now perfected Mom’s brownies (& added espresso powder & cream cheese icing!).  I gave some to the guys, & put the rest in the freezer in case of drop-ins!  (There you go Mom!)

We had our favourite American cousins visit on Aug. 22-26!  Dana, Paul & Lou-Ann Buck!  It was so wonderful to have them see our new home & experience the beauty of the area.  Paul & Lou-Ann live in Montana (Paul’s daughter got married in April, so we attended).  Lou-Ann just moved to Missoula from Oklahome, to be closer to family.  Dear Dana just lost her job & her beloved dog before she came here, so it was a good thing for her to have the support of everyone.


Here they are geting a photo taken to send to Paul’s other daughter in Michigan, who just announced her pregnancy with a second child!  (Hallelujah!). Dana is mimicking feeding the new baby w/ a sheepskin!  HA HA!

We also took them to the top of the Hills!  It was so enjoyable to have these 3 visiting us for awhile since it has always been us going to visit them!  It was Paul who contacted us to reconnect with these wonderful relatives after Bill moved to Canada many years ago!  He belongs to the Elks & his work area included north of the 49th into Canada where he went regularly.  We are so happy to have reconnected with these beautiful people.

While all this was going on, we were having major trauma with 1 of our 2 kitties.  My little girl, Katrina, had kidney failure!  This is usually fatal in cats.  We have lost 2 of our other 3 cats to this terrible disease.  The amazing thing is that shortly after she was diagnosed, she started acting so spunky & playful, we couldn’t believe she was still sick.  So we had her tested again, & her levels were all “normal”!  A miracle indeed!  Our vet in Calgary (whom we love a lot) recommended we bring her to Calgary to get an ultrasound to see what her kidneys looked like.  So I went on my own to Calgary & stayed overnight w/ Mom (poor little Katrina had to stay overnight at the vet’s).  The 2 sisters have never been apart before.  Bill told me later that he had lots of trouble with little Natasha, who cried quite a bit!  Suffice to say, our vet said her kidneys are perfectly formed & all the cells looked regular.  The only thing he found was some tiny stones in her bladder.  We will monitor her & continue to hope for the best!


She is obviously not too self-conscious about her shaved tummy!

Had dinner w/ Janie while in Calgary.  Great to have a catch-up since they will be few & far between from now on!  Here are Mom & Janie!


In order to keep up a LITTLE with the birding theme of this blog, I guess I’ll need to add a few photos from OTHERS.  Bill & I are too busy to go birding, but we some friends who kindly send us photos of birds!  Here is Lorne Kingwell’s spectacular Osprey:


These are from our SK birding bud, Don Weidl:  juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeak & Hudsonian Godwit (a pretty rare bird for his area near Broadview).

next a Cooper’s Hawk & Common Nighthawk.

I FINALLY held our housewarming on Sept. 10th, after many, many delays due to trying to finish everything around the house.  I set up for a lot of people, but we only had 7 show up.  Oh well, at least I fulfilled my “obligation”.

Here are all the goodies.


…and here are 4 of the people.  Our real-estate agent came early with her daughter & grandchild, but left soon after.  This is Trevor & Nola (our plant lady & local florist), then Blaine our builder & his wife Vonda.

In mid-Sept. my old roommate from Shell days (around 1975) came for  a couple of days.  Cheryl & husband Dave Elliott live in Nelson, BC, but Cheryl is from SK (Wadena) & they were making a big trek out that way, stopping wherever the mood struck them.  Interestingly, cousin Jane knew Dave from her days working in Banff (he also worked there), so I invited Jane along for the 1st night’s stay.


Here are Dave, me, Cheryl & Jane.


Since I couldn’t fly the Norwegian flag for the Primos weekend on the 1st of Aug, I finally flew it when Primo Jane came this time!  How funny that Cheryl said they were wondering if someone was flying a confederate flag when they saw it from a distance – certainly didn’t expect Norwegian!


Then it was back to the SK flag!

Jane went on to visit cousin Karen (who lives a little over an hour north of us) for a few days.  Happily, she was fed pancakes with chokecherry syrup for breakfast!  Yummm!


The following week my nephew, Ben, & his girlfriend Omanthi came for a visit.  There’s Ben’s photo at the very top of the blog.  He received his diploma & walked acros the stage at the U of C & left the next day for the trip to the far east.  They had such a good time & wish they were still there!  We took them up to the hills, of course  & had lunch at the Resort there.  Here they are:


We also took the obligatory photo at thge top of the look-off.


They only stayed 1 nite, but of course I made Ben’s favourite dessert, Uncle Jack’s chocolate Mousse.  I made a full recipe & sent the remainder home with him!  We also took them out birding to a ranch nearby & have to say, Ben got pretty good at spotting birds.

About a week later we had to go into Calgary for one of Bill’s meetings.  While there we made a stop out to Bon Ton Meat Market (I’ve known it for over 45 years when it was located downtown – then it re-located to the Stadium Shopping Centre where Ben worked for several summers while he was in school! )  We’ve butchery in the family!  We spoke to a good friend of Ben’s (Brian) who looked after our request for some beautiful rib-eye steaks to take home with us.

Soon after we returned to the Creek, my hairdresser, Jackie, came for a visit & to give me a haircut.  Our drive to the hills was absolutely beautiful, the fall colors being at their height.  Of course I have a shot of her at the lookout point.


She stayed overnight of course & we had a lovely steak dinner (plus I made choc. Mousse again)


When we got up in the morning, there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground & it was still snowing like the blazes!  Notice all the little birds getting sustenance from the feeders!

93860D76-167D-45E5-98F7-4E277B38BE6BShe wasn’t going anywhere that day!  So she stayed another day & the following day they’d cleared the streets & the highway – so off she went at last!  She’d had to make special plans to have her cat looked after another day (who definitely wasn’t happy with her when she finally got home – all you cat people know what I mean!).

Our dear cousins Penny & Wilf were so wonderful to invite us for Thanksgiving – turkey dinner with all the trimmings!  We laughed about the turnips, which is a vegetable I only like raw & they love it cooked.  (Bill doesn’t like either.)  But they had  carrots & peas as well as potatoes & gravy, & of course stuffing.  Such a treat & I brought my 1st pumpkin pie (which was a little overdone, but was okay).  Here they are after dinner when we had a chance for a really good visit with them.  Wilf was showing us photos of their big trip to Italy!


The next big event in our lives was Halloween! We’ve never had kids to our door before & after asking various friends around town how many we should expect, it varied from 50 to 200!!!  I carved my very first pumpkin.


It wasn’t a work of art, but stood guard at our door to welcome trick-or-treaters!  We didn’t count exactly, but it must’ve been somewhere between 30 & 40!  I gave all my leftover candy away.

Meanwhile, back in Calgary, my darling cousin Steven spent his birthday (Oct. 30) with Mom.  They worked out that the last time they were together for his BD was probably 1961!!  Anyway, he dropped in on Halloween & took a photo of Mom as “The Good Fairy”.


Pretty cute for 98 eh?  The next day we had to go into Swift Current & were able to have a little visit w/ Karen (who was staying at her pad there) & dressed up as an Ewok.  She’s holding a bowl of popcorn balls which she made to give to friends aorund town!  (Also pretty cute for 60-something eh?)


We received a photo of cousin Joan who dresses up to give out her treats!  I guess I’m going to pull up my socks & get dressed up for next year also!


Good stuff eh?!

On a much sadder note – our dear Aunty Jo passed away, peacefully in her sleep, on Nov. 1st.  She was the last Bleakley sibling of 5.  It feels a bit empty in the Bleakley family realm now.  But she had suffered with Alzheimer’s for many years so we hope she has found peace – & her family also.

The following week our investment advisor came for a visit because he was heading out to go hunting (big game).  BUT…he asked to make dinner for us!!!  Holy Mackerel – I’ve never had someone come to my home & cook me dinner!


Here’s Dave in my kitchen enjoying some wine while he cooks!  He made us a beautiful salad, then BBQ filets with stuffed baked potatoes – then apple pie for dessert!  (Actually his wife made the pie- he’s \not a baker).  It was wonderful!

There are our salads on the left, then Dave enjoying his own cooking.  We think he’s such a great guy – but this was the icing on the cake for me!  Here we are doing a selfie as he leaves the next day!


On Nov. 22-23 we had to head into Calgary for some meetings at LW for Bill.  We managed to get a group together to go out to dinner.  We were saying farewell to Jane, who is going to San Diego for a couple of months to take care of her friend who has had knee surgery.  We managed to get David & Brian as well.  I think this is a great photo to end on – a selfie of this group!  Too bad we never seem to have any fun.


See you next time!

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Birding, a wedding in MT, visitors & our house/yard…

(I decided I’d better post this as it’s gone on far too long to wait for the final, final house photos!)

Our Supreme Primo had his 76th Birthday on Mar. 24th:  I am no longer going to print photos of all the birthdays, but couldn’t resist one last one of our ultimate guru:


We went birding for the first time on the prairies for at least 9 years on Friday, March 24.  It was a beautiful spring day & with the help of our birding bud, Ron, from S’toon & the guy from the liquor store, we went to Frenchman’s Valley, south of Cypress Lake (which is south of Cypress Hills Park) to see our first Tundra Swans of the season.  Hundreds of Canada Geese winging their way north & my cousin Karen reported Sandhill Cranes flying over her place (near Hazlet) on Tuesday!  Lots of open water to attract Mallards, Common Goldeneye, Canvassback, Redhead, Amer. Widgeon, Common & Red-breasted Mergansers, Ring-billed & Calif. Gulls. 4 Gr. Blue Herons were standing on nests on their heronry at Harris Reservoir – as well as a few geese trying to claim the remainder. This heronry looks like it’s deteriorating with old, dead trees getting close to falling over.

Also observed a Bald Eagle sitting on a telephone post north of the Hills, along with most of the hawks: Rough-legged, Red-tailed (including 1 dark-phase), Swainson’s then m&f N. Harriers courting. A Kestrel just as we got back to town. Quite a few Starlings around & 3 Chipping Sparrows at 1st place. Lots of Horned Larks everywhere & 2 Western Meadowlarks – the 1st was singing (yay!). A couple of Mtn. Bluebirds only.  We brought a couple of bluebird houses (made by my brother, David) to put up near our cousin’s land near Cypress Hills, but his road was still frozen so we’ll wait a few days. In the park a large noisy flock of Pine Siskins with some B-c Chickadees, Downy Woodpecker & Red-br. Nuthatch.  What fun it was!

On March 29th we had to go into the Hat to pick up some pictures.  We drove down to Wilf’s land at Cypress Hills first to see if we could get in on his road now (melted enough!) to put up our bluebird houses!  Answer:  Yes!  These are the 2 houses made by David!

Then on March 30th we headed for Missoula, MT for a wedding.  Like Robyn & Arnie they got married on April Fool’s day!  It was such a beautiful day in Missoula with almost no wind, we had the ceremony OUTSIDE (temp around 15 C).  First of the daffodils blooming!


Hollin & Grleg had a baby together a year ago last Sept.  This is one of the sisters who was pregnant at the same time & we attended their joint baby shower.  Of course the other sister was there with her husband & baby also!  Here’s a “before shot” of the 2 betrothed:


I tell you – they clean up so nice!  Here’s the “after”:


It was a very cute wedding with those 2 little tots.  The bride & groom’s little girl (Adelyn) being held by her Uncle.


And the sister & husband’s little boy, Orin:


Talk about a couple of cuties!  I took a photo of Bill & his cousin Dana before we left the house for the wedding – all dolled up!


Looking good eh?  Here’s Orin’s dad (Mike) walking the 2 little ones down the aisle;


They were so good besides so cute!  Lou Ann & Jimmy sat together (brother & sister) – perfect opportunity to get a shot of them.


Here are Lou-Ann’s 2 children, Dana & Paul (holding Adelyn):


Here are Bill & Lou-Ann watching the decorating of the hall .


We visited Lou-Ann’s new apartment which is lovely.  Hopefully she will adapt to her new environment – a difficult thing to move at age 87!

Soon after we got back, we had Penny & Wilf over for dinner – they had just returned from their winter sojourn to Phoenix.  What a great looking couple eh?


Not long after this, our builder returned from the south & we began to build what we have now come to call “the great wall of China”.  This is the fence between the messy neighbours & ourselves.  Seems it has been much admired since it was put up!


Next came Mother’s Day & a trip to Calgary to watch Stars on Ice.  The wonderful Usher cousins (including Arnie) treated Mom to brunch at their place in Cochrane while we attended the skating.  But the next day we returned to Maple Ck w/ Mom who stayed for a week.    I had my first bouquet of my very own lilacs!


Actually I put them all over the house while Mom visited: kitchen, dining roon, piano, our bedrom, powder room, Mom’s room in the basement.

Here’s Mom with Penny & Wilf just before dinner.


We made a short trip out to Wilf’s land to put up our last 4 bluebird houses & found some prairie wildflowers still in bloom!  They were long finished on the prairies (crocus & shooting star).


About the same time we received a couple of photos from our friend Don which I’m sure you’ll enjoy.  A female White-=winged Cross bill (do you see whyit it has this name)?


And an unusual pale Canada Goose.


The landscaping was taking place while Mom was here, though she didn’t see much progress.  It will take several weeks.  We received 2 large loads of good qualicy loam (I mean, they were huge trucks!).  One in the back, the other at the front.

Our landscaping is taking shape.  The beds have been outlined in interlocking dark grey bricks,.  The house is surrounded by white stones outlined with the bricks.  I think it looks very nice.  It is the only really formal looking part.  The rest will be pretty wild – with mostly native plants, lots of berries – all to pomote bees, butterflies & birds.

We had our first “real” visitor – Joe Crichton.  He organized our 1st trip to Costa Rica where we met our SK birding buddies, with whom we travelled again to Belize & Guatemala.  Joe lives in Nanoose Bay not far from Erling & Ann!  We got out for a bit of birding in the afternoon he arrived, heading for the ranch our builder, Blaine, took us to where there is a great wetland.  They have this beautiful gate at the entrace to this ranch:


While we were out there we ran into Kevin & his son who had some bird questions for us & as we chatted, we found it it was on THIS RANCH where a beaver took down a power pole & cut power for almost 10 hours from Maple Creek to Gull Lake (& surrounding areas).  It was a Saturday & boy were the stories wild!  Being a Saturday, there were of course, some weddings taking place.  This article appeared in the Maple Creek news – but actually made the internet news on CBC!

Beaver tries to sabotage wedding of Kim and Calum MartinIMG_1740
The recent power outage in the Southwest almost darkened one couple’s wedding day.  Kim and Calum Martin got married at the Resort at Cypress Hills May 27 – the same day a beaver chewed down a power pole between Maple Creek and Gull Lake causing a 10-hour outage for about 2,500 SaskPower customers. The wedding ceremony was just ending as the power went out, according to the Martins. “We actually didn’t know the power went out right away,” Kim Martin said. “The music had quit as we walked out [of the ceremony] and we thought it was just a bit of a glitch.” After the music cut out, they went outside for pictures, which is when they were told there was no power. “At first it was a bit stressful,” Calum Martin said. “But I asked, ‘Is there still food?’ They said, ‘Yep.’ Then I asked, ‘Is there still dancing?’ They said, ‘Yep.’ So I said, ‘We’re OK.’”  The Resort used generators to keep the DJ table playing music and some lamps lit. There were also candles for extra lighting.  Seeing all the hard work the employees of the Resort at Cypress Hills were putting in added to the experience, the Martins said.  “People worked non-stop and everybody did their job so well and made it so it didn’t affect our day. All their hard work meant everything to us. They made everything go so well when it could not have,” Kim Martin said.

When they heard a beaver was responsible for the power outage they couldn’t help but laugh, they said. “We kind of had a hard time believing it was a beaver because that’s the craziest thing we’ve ever heard … It doesn’t sound like something that would happen in real life. But in Canada it can,” Kim Martin said. “I immediately told my family from Scotland and they just lost it. They said, ‘No way, that’s the most Canadian wedding ever,’” Calum Martin added.

A wedding is always a day to remember, but thanks to that beaver this one definitely will be impossible to forget, the Martins said. “It was the most amazing, craziest day ever.”

After we got home & I made dinner for us I took this photo of Joe at our dinner table.


He stayed overnight & left the next day for Grasslands National Park where he was aiming to take some photos.  He had great weather (over 30C & sunny).  He later sent us this iconic prairie photo of a meadowlark singing on a fence post.


Here are a couple of Bill’s photos – first the Upland Sandpiper:


Then a young fox just outside its den:


Shortly afterwards, I received this photo from Karen, telling us these young’uns had “flown the coop”.  I had received a couple of photos & videos from Harold as he checked them out from time to time in the nest.


Our landscaper went to Cuba for a wedding, so we had a week’s delay (June 5-9).  But we heard again from our friend Don who sent this beautiful photo of a Common Loon w/ young on its back.  So beautiful w/ the purple & green reflections.


At the same time Joe visited, cousin Jane was out on the coast attending a very special event – the baby shower for Desiree!  She sent along this photo of herself, Des & Jill Usher:


Des looks beautiful eh?  The really exciting thing is that she is being induced on June 21st – which is Jill’s 22nd birthday – & Mom’s 98th birthday!  Not that the baby will come on that day, but we’ll see!

Another friend of ours recedntly sent this photo – of us!  We caught up with her in Calgary at a LivingWorks function.


On June 15-16 we sent to Calgary to pick up a couple of things for the house & had a rather impromptu birthday dinner w/ Mom while we were there.  It just included Brian, Jane & Robyn – but we had a lovely evening.


Pretty good for 98 eh?  (Mom, that is.)

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Our new home!!!

Yes – we’re here!  I’m so sorry it has taken so long to post a new blog entry but I wanted to have photos of the mostly finished house.

We made a couple of trips out to SK toward the end of the build (mid-December) to help make some decisions.  Here’s Bill in the basement (king bed guest room) standing on the underlay carpeting, looking into the closet which doesn’t yet have doors!


The “guts” of our home are in the mechanical room.  (Please forgive me Mom, for using that word.  For those who don’t know, Grandpa Larson used to say it & made it sound like a swear word – which Mom hated!)  Here is one of the plumbers explaining things to us.


Blaine, our builder, explaining about the vanities in the bathroom to Bill.  How high off the floor should they be?  How far apart?  (etc.)


Looking out from the mud room, where the laundry facilities will be, you can see one of our beautiful garage doors with the 3 windows in it – a bit like our front door which has 4 lights in it.


Here is part of my green kitchen before the countertops went in.


Interestingly, there was an advertisement in the Co-op newsletter – which bore a great resemblance to my kitchen, except it was gray.  It even had the same countertops we chose “Brittania” – white quartz w/ gray veining.  This product seems to have swept the market because we’ve seen it on HGTV  on Bryan Baeumler’s & Scott McGillivray’s shows.  Robyn & Arnie have it in their newly renovated kitchen!


Here is the other side of the kitchen (w/ a missing fridge) & our island with no countertop, covered in junk!IMG_1379

We moved in Jan. 23rd – to a crew of contractors living with us for nearly 3 weeks.  The move itself went very smoothly.  The movers came the day before & packed everything up & then left early the next morning to Maple Creek.  We also left early & arrived just after they did to the unloading of boxes which filled the house (since there were quite a few other boxes still to be sorted).

Blaine, our main building contractor had left for AZ for the winter & his son who also worked  with him, had gone to Thailand to get married!  That left Kelly, who tried his very hardest to have everything done for us.  He resorted to using as many family as he could muster to make everything clean for us. However, it wasn’t quite that easy & we had a pretty big mess for at least a month.  There were lots of unfinished jobs in nearly every room.  The plumber thought we could just stay in the hotel for a few days but he didn’t realize we had the cats with us as well as all perishables from the fridge!  It was all hands on deck to get the fridge hooked up.  Nonetheless I don’t think we lost anything & got it all put away before we went to bed.


Lots of boxes still to open & sort.  No chairs to sit on except the garden chairs brought in by the contractors to sit down for lunch.


You can see our front door (which is purple on the outside) – it has the 4 windows in it – & the dining room filled with boxes.

Dear Kelly went above & beyond the call of duty by putting together all of our IKEA furniture – & we had lots of it in the basement.  THAT would have taken us ages.  It was quite a slog.  Not only was the house not finished, but by the time it was, it was filthy everywhere!  So it was moving, sorting, cleaning, decision-making, re-arranging, trying to eat, sleeping, etc.

We shut the cats in the bedroom w/ their food, water & litter box & the door closed, so they wouldn’t be too scared of all the strangers doing stuff in the house.  That worked out okay. Here they are looking out the sunny bedroom window.


Our piano was delvered on Feb. 22nd.  Dear Mom gave it to us as a housewarming – although I’m a bit scared when I think it’s been 50 years since I’ve played!  Also, my teacher (Penny) is in AZ until April!  Here it is being delivered!

A month after we moved in, Mom came for a visit for 5 days.  She wanted to be sure she saw it before she dies. (At 97 it could happen any time, I guess, though she is likely to make it to 100 or more being in such good health.  Her only serious complaint is pain in her neck which she can at least get relief from when she sleeps or with her warm bean-bag around her neck when she’s sitting in her comfy chair.)  Here she is in “her” chair in our partly furnished living room on the day she arrived with a cup of tea.


I am planning to take some photos when we have all our pictures put up in the house, but for now, you will get the general idea.

Can you believe that we have a winter wonderland on March 12th?  Top L: our deck (which I tried to clear w/ the leaf blower, but it doesn’t like the cold temps & snow blowing back into it!)  Can you see Bill using the snow blower top R?  Bottom L: still snowing just after clearing our curved walkway.  You can’t quite tell, but the pile of snow on the deck, bottom R, is a foot and a half high!

Of course we had lots of business to conduct, including getting new license plates!  Here is our first SK license plate (on the Lincoln).


We were extremely happy to find out we could also get our old AB vanity plate “BIRDERS” here in SK!  It goes on the new truck.  (We traded in our F250 for an F150 – which is a little smaller & easier to park etc.  Still pulls our trailer, which we have stored in Wilf’s hangar.)

Now for the rest of the house.  First from the street you can see our dirty wasteland with a beautiful curving walkway – & our purple door!

This is the living room with the piano just on the wall behind the 3-seater couch.


IMG_1569Bill’s office is just to the right of the piano.


Our dining room will have an area rug underneath (when it finally arrives!)


The kitchen you’ve seen before.


A little down the hall to the left, is the mud room with our washer/dryer as well as the cat’s food/water/box & the entrance to the garage (where both our car & truck are parked in heated comfort.

To the right down the hall is our master bedroom.


Sometimes the girls cuddle up together in the same heated basket on top of our wardrobe, even though they each have one!


On the left the last door is to our main bathroom.

The powder room as at the very end of the hall, straight ahead.

Downstairs we go.


First right is the twin guest room – where Mom stayed in the bed on the far wall.  Anyone find it alluring?


Our exercise room is also filled with cabinets with all our books.

Then the storage room – Bill was the supreme organiser on this one!


This is the mechanical room which now contains Bill’s workbench & tool cabinet.

Lastly is the other guest room with a king-sized bed.  Maybe this is more alluring to some of you?

This should give you an idea of the place.  The only disappointment for me in moving to Maple Creek is that there is no CBC radio coverage here!  Boo hoo!

We are off to a wedding in Montana at the end of the month (one of the 2 cute sisters who had babies about the same time a year or so ago).  We will get to see lots of Bill’s family – which we love!  Then after that, maybe we’ll get back to some of Bill’s bird photos & the landscaping of our wasteland!

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A White Christmas

A beautiful white Christmas!


The 2 days before it snowed a lot.  That little messed up place on our railing was caused by a Northern Flicker who stopped for a short reconnaissance mission (unsuccessful – poor thing).  As you can see, the clouds are parting & the sun came out – it was beautiful.

In the morning we stuck to our tradition:  started with grapefruit in gin, then biscuits & syrup (w/ bacon) for Bill, eggs Benedict for me – along with a glass of champagne.  The biscuits are cut out with our little “Pot of Gold” cookie cutter which we received many years ago (as a Christmas bonus) from our coffee roasting company from Thetis Island, BC.  The cats participated also.


Santa wrote us this wonderul letter in reply to our request for a new home.  (Them Ushers crack us up every time – ho ho ho!!!)


Christmas at the Bleakley’s (David & Inga’s) was as lovely as their tree.

Both Zach (Katherine’s BF) & Omanthi (Ben’s GF) got new scarf/toque/gloves from us. Don’t they look great?


What a nice photo of David


Mom relaxed while the rest of us distributed presents & visited (that’s Ben to her right).


Inga sets an elegant table


The bird was gorgeous (& delicious)!!


There was some serious eating going on — with some hilarity thown in!


We received this famly photo from Steve & Fran Usher – who didn’t have their tripod lined up too well – ha!


Also a photo of Leslie Usher’s “home” (a trailer or caravan as they say overseas) with her BF Michael & his son Cam (a real cutie!).  She didn’t tell me the names of their dogs!  Note 3 stockings on the right & tinsel all along the windows.  They are tree-planting in Scotland this year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  This is a very exciting year for us with the move promising to take place on schedule, if the weather holds.


Robyn & Arnie sent this lovely photo of their place with the Xmas lights on when they went out for a new year walk!  That’s Arnie!  Our Jane was in Calif (suddenly soggy after the drought!) – oh well.

We hope all our dear friends & relatives have a healthy & happy 2017!  No more blog uintil we move in!

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The end is in sight

Now we have a set move in date, (Jan. 23)  we have lots of final things to do.  To say nothing of Xmas coming up!

On Nov. 25th my best friend came for dinner!  It’s been far too long since we’ve seen each other & Bill said we should invite her for dinner with both of us, so we did!  Here’s Sandy & the beautiful birthday flowers she brought me (yes, that’s how long it’s been since we were supposed to get together in Aug!)

Also a birthday or 2 in the family to celebrate.


December 1st was cousin Judy Long’s 66th birthday.  When I looked for some old photos, I found her wedding photo with Geoff!  How cute they are!

Also on Dec. 1st, we received some very exciting news from Bill’s side of the family.  Remember those 2 beautiful sisters who were pregnant at the same time & had their babies about a month apart?  The one who was NOT married (Hollin) – Greg (the father) asked her to marry him!  She was thrilled & here is the ring & the happy little baby girl Adelyn.


Then Frannie turned 61 – here she is at Waskesiu for Mom & Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary!  Another cutie!

After being sick for a couple of days, I finally got my lefse made!  A 3 1/2 hour odyssey – too bad Katherine wasn’t here to help (or Mom, though she’s not up to too much rolling these days).

We received a few photos from Blaine with the completed stucco finishes on the outside of the house!


Here are a few shots – first, view from the sidewalk.

And a few more of the other stucco finish – the smooth  cream color.  It’s kind of hard to tell but the 4′ squares of dark grey have a texture running horizontally along each square.  I’ll take a better close-up when we visit soon!


Got it – here it is!

Dec. 15th (Friday) I made shortbread cookies with Mom!  What fun – we’ve never done it together before & we had a great time.  75 pressed shortbread cookies in all.  I pressed & Mom added the little piece of cherry in the middle of each with tweezers.

Dec. 18th – turkey dinner at the Manor with all the family & Mom.

Sorry Inga – my photo of you wasn’t very good.  Will do better at Xmas (I hope).


Sorry Katherine – ACK – the sign!


Omanthi, Ben & Mom.


Brian & David (Chef in the rear & a server).


My honey & me!

Tuesday, Jan. 21st – off to Maple Creek to do some of the final stuff.  When we arrived, the kitchen was put in & the counter-top guy was there measuring.  That will go in the 1st week of January.


Here is my new green kitchen – how gorgeous!  Just like I hoped it would look.  The cabinets go upto the ceiling, topped by a beautiful crown moulding & my “S” handles look wonderful.  The floor is finished also – just love it too, with the wide boards.


Here is our deck with the railings being installed.  Looks good eh?


All of our blinds have been hung.  They are Hunter Douglas with an added black-out layer which can be put down if wanted.  Most are automatic & will be programmed for our iPhones, along with lights & many other things (I think).  Bill is the expert in this area, so hopefully he’ll be able to teach me!


Here is a close-up of the carpet.  Is is NZ wool & so soft on the feet (I think I could lie down on it & sleep!).  With in-floor heating is it very cozy down in the basement (& upstairs of course which also has in-floor heat.


Speaking of the heating, here’s a shot of the ship’s control centre – holy mackerel, eh?  And that’s only 1 wall!


Here is the ceiling in the living room & you can see where the pot lights will go & the AC duct is already installed.  There is 1 in the bedrroom, 1 in Bill’s office, 1 in the dining room & 1 in the bathroom.  We will be cozy in the winter – cool in the summer!


We made a trip out the storage container & the white trailer.  This is Jay & Kelly moving 1 of the pieces into the white truck.  They said they’ll have both fully unloaded into the house by Friday!!!  Yay!


Bill in his new office!


We went out to dinner with Penny & Wilf Tuesday.  Across the street the Xmas lights are in full force in the market square.

We came home Thursday, stopping at IKEA to return some things we want to exchange.  Drove both the car & truck into town.  We’ll take the truck back  to Maple Creek with the exchanged stuff next week, after Xmas.img_1414

After we returned, Jay sent us a photo of our new front door minus the correct hardware!  How do ya like it – pretty cool eh?

I will include some family Xmas photos in the next blog.  Want to get my Xmas messages off & have at least this much of an update.  So MERRY CHRISTMAS to all, happy holidays & the very best to everyone in 2017!  The Langs send our love.

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Great progress now!

Nov. 1/16:  I still have geraniums blooming on my deck.  Even though it has been below freezing on quite a number of occasions, my pots stay warm since they’re near our building which faces south.


The leaves have turned beautiful fall colors – I’ve never seen it before (always threw them out before it happened).  [Coming back later:  Bloomed profusely until Nov. 18 – then they finally froze!  Never had flowers so late!]


On another note from Halloween, dear brother Brian went as Gumby from the Monty Python days.  Mom isn’t the only creative one in the family!

Nov. 2nd:  Barry Larson’s  63rd BD (youngest of Lloyd & Eunie’s kids).  I put a photo of him & his gorgeous daughter awhile ago – here he is a little younger.


What a cutie (still is!).

Also today, I received a lovely photo of a Ruffed Grouse from our friend Don in Broadview.


And from cousins Karen & Harold, the following:


Tundra Swans on migration, sitting in a little park on their land.


Gorgeous sunrise on their property.

Recent photos from Blaine shows our doors have arrived!


The front purple door (obviously not yet painted purple!)


The door from the garage to the back yard.


The patio doors!

Nov. 8 – Election day  in the USA & our cousin Joy-Ann’s 74th birthday!


How lovely for her that she looks the same now as when she was in her 20’s!

Nov. 11:  Remembrance Day.  Thoughts of dear Uncle Bud – our family war hero who flew the Lancaster Bomber on 23 missions!!!

Nov. 13:  My dear Janie’s 65th birthday!


She’s so cute – I just love her to death!

Just before heading to SK we got rid of our big Ford Explorer & bought a much smaller Lincoln MKX.  (Don’t tell Wilf!)

On Nov. 15-16 we went to Maple Creek to check out the house.  Here’s what we found:


The front entrance  now has a sidewalk leading to the door!


Most of the drywall has been put up (not the taping & mudding however).  As you come in the entrance, there is a closet on the left &  a bench (with mirror above) will be on the right.


The powder room iOS done the hall on the left – & this will be the back kitchen wall.


Here’s Bill in the shower with Blaine (??!!)


Bill on the deck which leads from the living room.


Our big double garage – the guys are packing out the scaffolding .


Solar panels going on the roof!


From the back alley, here’s the view!  As you can see, our driveway is also poured!  It is stamped cement, just like the front walk.


From across the street you can see some of the size of the large fir on the left (about 40 feet) & the smaller ones right front.  Huge old elms line the street.  There’s our new car sitting out front!

On Nov. 19th we went to “the Queen’s High Tea” at the Palliser Hotel to celebrate Jane’s 65th BD.  Sadly, Jane had no hat!  These are all the favorites from the royal family, made especially for Will & Kate’s recent visit.  So now anyone can enjoy these treats!

In late November, Arnie went fishing on the great Fraser River in BC!  As Robyn said, “fish stories for sure!”  Look at those amazing sturgeon!

I will stop the news now – but the last bit of big news which we received yesterday (Nov. 24) is that we can move in Jan. 23rd!

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OK, not a lot of progress until later!

On Oct. 3rd it was the 62nd birthday of our beautiful sister-in-law, Inga (David’s wife).  She no more looks her age than the man in the moon (as Bill would say)!


On Thanksgiving weekend we had snow.  Here are a few shots from our living room with just a skiff of snow – not quite continuous photos, but 3 shots in a row looking left, centre & right out our living room window.

At Mom’s place they had a lovely display on each side of the entrance to her Manor:


Obviously a little snow on the pumpkins!  We had a wonderful turkey dinner at her “restaurant” then went up for pumpkin pie to her place.  She IS actually slowing down a bit (though everyone will deny it) – so I made the pastry & rolled it out into the pie tins, while she made the filling & baked them in the morning.  David (Inga being out on the west coast for a funeral), Brian, Bill & I were there for loads of fun.  We laughed ourselves silly I have to say.  Mom always enjoys a good belly laugh!

On the following Tuesday we had lunch with Katherine (David & Inga’s 25-yr-old daughter) who wants to learn to make lefse!  We thought we didn’t have a lefse griddle (completely flat) but found Mom’s in her outside closet!  We will do that later, but had a nice lunch & visit to hear about her little sojourn east this year for a wedding in Toronto.  She & her BF Zach, drove out, then came back through Detroit, Chicago, etc.  Some really good memories of that trip!

On Oct. 14-15 we took another quick trip to Maple Creek, taking Mom along so she could have a visit with Jason & Austin (Penny & Wilf’s son & grandson).  They’re doing some delving into family stories & history.  Mom is quite good about remembering people & things from the past.


We of course, stopped at the house to have a quick look before we checked into the hotel.  As you can see, half the house has its siding – but the other side is a stucco finish.  They can’t do it right now since there is such a quagmire in the yard!!  What with almost a foot of snow, then rain a few times – it’s terrible!


The windows are in which is a big help to close in things.  Unfortunately the doors haven’t yet arrived, so can’t hook up the plumbing & heat things up to do inside finishes.  You’ll notice the black soffits connecting to the dark gray roof.


The little roof projection is also done in siding.  We will have black eavestroughs with a chain guiding the water into our black rain barrels.


We stopped at a new bakery Penny told us about & Mom bought some treats to take home.  We also had breakfast on Saturday morning at the old bakery where she bought more treats!  Holy Mackerel, that lady has some sweet tooth (I guess that’s how she does it)!

We spent late morning & lunch at Penny & Wilf’s with Jason, Austin & Shaylee (sp?) – she & Austin are newly engaged!  I think Mom was able to fill in some of their search for family – plus I hooked them up with Steven Usher who has done quite an extensive family tree.  That should keep the young lad going for awhile!

Meantime Bill spent the day with Blaine.  They unloaded the vehicle with all its various plumbing supplies into the storage container.  Now if only the plumber would  come & do the rough-in!

Penny & Wilf invited us for dinner – this time we sat in the formal dining room – woo hoo!  Had a lovely dinner & visit with them – we so enjoy their company.  They love Mom & treat her like gold.  Reminiscences aplenty & Wilf especially misses Dad – they had so much fun together.  All the visits to P&W’s place in Cypress Hills with Mom, Dad & the 3 Bleakley sisters were such fun for all involved.

We returned home Sunday to busy times.  Bill has lots of meetings at the office – he’s looking for the person to replace his “boss” who died too young of a heart attack.  Two candidates look promising, so he’s very hopeful.

We spoke to Blaine early in the week & he said the plumber showed up for 2 days & was working on the plumbing rough in.  Also the fellows have showed up to dig the driveway & lay gravel before they pour cement – yay!

I thought everyone might like to see some of the interior finishes in our place.

Here is the flooring for the complete upstairs & the area carpet in the living room.

Green cabinetry in kitchen w/ quartz countertops.

Kitchen backsplash (glass tile) & leather for couch color

Here is the bathroom vanity (there will be 2) w/ each sink as on the right.

Bathroom tile floor, main wall tile & accent pebble tile.

Main wall color & baseboards/crown molding color.


Carpet which will be in the whole basement (except for the bathroom down there).  So you now have a few hints of what it will look like inside our house!

On Tuesday, Oct. 25rd Katherine came over to make lefse with Mom & I.  We had a great time with flour all over the complete kitchen!  It was all worth it however!  Katherine turned out to be a “natural” as far as rolling technique.  She aced it & we made about 20 lefse (of which at least 4 were eaten on the day!).  Despite Bill’s late arrival home after a meeting we managed to get K home so she could get to work on time!  Sorry I didn’t take any photos – we were so busy (& covered with flour)!


Oct. 30th – Steven Usher turns 60!  Holy Mackerel – got to be an old geezer without ever being an adult.


Franny certainly enjoyed it!

Now, the last bit of news on the house is that they’ve poured & completed the driveway & front walkway.  Also done 1 coat of stucco on the rest of the house.  Here are some photos!



Front walkway from front sidewalk & from front door! – You can see the stucco layer with the large squares marked out.



Driveway at the back of the house in front of the garage.  You can see the church across the back alley.


Solar panels going on the roof!

Tomorrow is Halloween.  Watch out for the award winning black cat from the Manor at Signature Park!  Booooooooo! ☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️


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