Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Laid Off at Seventy

       Yes that's right folks! Today for the first time in my seventy years I was laid off.

        Some of my readers will realize that I have a paper route. I've thoroughly enjoyed my paper route although it was seven days a week. I delivered 20 papers and 13 fliers. The route was right behind my house and 15 of the 20 subscribers are retired people. Many times I enjoyed a great visit with these people. They were awesome customers. The paper route got me out of the house no matter what. I enjoyed the getting out even if  the weather was really nasty. I was never cold. All of my jack rabbit stories came from the paper route. Many of the bird posts resulted from an experience on the delivery. So to say that I enjoyed this activity would be an understatement.

        What I really noticed is what the route did for my head. It gave me something different to be responsible for. I didn't know how much I missed having a job since I retired. It gave me something to look forward to each day not that I was inactive and depressed. It just made me feel better.

       So the paper decided to become a morning paper and deliveries were to be completed by 6:30 AM. Now I like getting up early but not that early. You were going to have to deliver about 150 papers and use your vehicle. Not for me! I would miss all the interaction with the people. Who would be up that early in the morning?

       So I jokingly consider myself laid off!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Do Old Ice Skaters Do in the Summer?

              They picnic!

           I skate with a group of seniors two afternoons a week from Sept. to April. We have time scheduled in one of the local arenas. We skate for an hour and then on Tuesdays we coffee at the Dairy Queen and on Fridays we make  coffee and bring our own goodies. The skating is good fun and pleasant exercise. The coffee time is great socializing. The group is very supportive of one another and so there is contact outside of the skating event itself. The June picnic is one of those events where we get together in the summer and enjoy a barbecue.

        Our oldest and one of the best skaters is 87. You have to be 50 to join the group. An amusing statement on the program description is ages 50 - 99. I guess if you turn 99  and are still skating you have to leave the group!

        So today a good picnic was enjoyed and we can look forward to skating in about 9 weeks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wonders of Wildflowers

        One of the pleasures of spring and summer is the constant parade of wildflower blooms. We are fortunate to have some natural habitat which provides us with an interesting variety of blooms. I am not a plant expert in any way. I can appreciate and recognize those who do have expertise , knowledge and talent in this area.

        So I'm doing a small post on flowers and I don't have any pictures. My photography is brownie hawkeye technology! Just kidding. I do have a small digital camera which has limited capabilities.

       There are several blogs which I follow where the authors are excellent photographers and display a good knowledge of plants. I appreciate these bloggers and follow them regularly and suggest that you take a look at their blogs.

       Since I have spent time on large tracts of natural habitat when I was young, I came to appreciate wild flowers. Several years ago my brother took me to one of these undisturbed areas when the western wood lily (lilium philadelphicum) was in full bloom. I had forgotten how abundant they were in this area. It was a real treat. My summer is complete once I find brown eyed susans(gaillardia aristata). Who could not love the prairie crocus(anemone patens)? Finding them come up right after the snow melts is a real treat. When hiking in high mountain meadows the crocus is very common in July.

      Last Saturday I had to visit the Gaetz Lake Sanctuary just to see yellow lady slippers(cypridium calceolus). They are numerous in certain areas of the sanctuary.
     Now I could continue with flower sitings I like , but these are highlights for me. We get a treat from our wildflowers all spring and summer

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Long Term Care Blues

        A fellow blogger posted on the inadequacies and problems of long term care when it came to placing her aging parents. She has written extensively on this topic and published a book "Living and Dying With Dignity" by Jennifer A. Jilks.  This reminds me of two experiences our family recently had with long term care.

       My aunt lived in her own home until Dec. 2009 when she suffered a stroke and was hospitalized . She was 96 years old. After 4 weeks in hospital she had recovered enough from the stroke to be discharged. The problem? There was no place for her to go. She was not able to move back to her home. She had done well as she had limited vision and hearing but she would not give up her little house. At 96 she was told she would have to wait a year for long term care placement. It is beyond my limited comprehension how any system could ask a 96 year old to wait a year??? What are they thinking? 96 year olds are frail and need help now not a year from now.

      Our aunt went to a small apartment and with the help of her friends was able to survive. She proved my main point as this spring (2010) she died and therefore no longer required  any long term care.

      My father died in Feb. 2008 at age 95. Dad married a spunky Manitoba girl in 1975 so he lived in Manitoba from 1975 - 2006. Until that point he had lived his entire life in Saskatchewan. In Feb. 2006 0ur step mom died which left Dad in a nursing home 600km from his family. We had a step sister there but that's not fair to expect your step sister to look after your Dad. If I had been Dad's only child and had wanted to bring him to Alberta, where I reside, he would have had to reside in Alberta for one year before he could apply for long term care. It's unthinkable that someone at age 93 would have to wait one year for long term care placement. Fortunately, I have three brothers who live in Saskatchewan and he was able to move to a Sask. long term care facility in 6 weeks.  

     I have to question the wisdom of our politicians and officials who  make policy which requires elderly people to wait for long term care. These people do not seem to be in touch with reality when they think that very elderly people can wait to be admitted to long term care.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Peregrin Falcon Eggs Hatch at Red Deer's Telus Tower

      The peregrine eggs in the nest on the Telus Tower in Red Deer Hatched this week. What excitement!

      I have a link on my blog to the web cam set up by the Red Deer River Naturalists(RDRN) on the Telus Tower in Red Deer. Since I am on the board of RDRN as chairman I have been more than a little interested in this venture. During the incubation I checked in about once a week. As time went on I became more intrigued by the comments on the chat line. Now don't get me wrong the birds are of major interest as well.

       The quality of the web cam pictures was not great. Color and detail were of low quality. One would think these birds are a brilliant blue. They are not. The female is a gray blue  . One has to use some imagination to get gray blue from the web cam . The male back is a rich dark brown. The birds look to be quite small but the males are 38 to 43 cm long . The females are 43 to 48 cm long. Their wing spans are from 90 to 117 cm. So they are a fairly large tough bird. One would not get these details from the web cam although many viewers did research and found these details. One would think that the eggs are a brilliant red . They are not. The eggs are more a reddish brown. So if you've never seen a peregrine in the wild , you probably wouldn't recognize it from the web cam pictures.

     I had the good fortune to live on the "Isolated Farm" and see many things in nature as the real thing. When I was a boy our chickens didn't come from hatcheries. The hens would quietly disappear and brood eggs on a nest. Sometimes we found the nest and watched the progress. Several times I was fortunate enough to see the hatch. There were many duck nests as the stubble was left in the fall. When spring farm work began many ducks were nesting in this ideal  habitat. So many times we watched the progress of duck nests. Robins were plentiful and we watched them hatch as well. When you've been fortunate to see the real thing, one wonders what kind of perception people take away from TV and web cams which do not accurately represent the natural conditions.

     It was also interesting to note how the "chatters" looked at the birds as if they thought like humans!  Comments relating to birth and children were interesting. So our perception of the birds is clouded by our own perception. It's difficult to make ourselves think as a bird or even imagine how a bird thinks. I was a teacher. I don't think we did a very good job of thinking as children would see the world. Or for that matter men and women have a different make up and we find it difficult to understand one another at times. "Men Are From Mars and Women are from Venus" was a very interesting read. Each bird species has it's own psychological make up which it receives from it's gene make up. As an aside , since they can now do gene studies they think the falcons are closer to the parrot family than the hawk family.

        Now that the eggs have hatched there is much more action in the nest. To watch the behaviour of these birds as they care for their young is fascinating and there is much that can be learned. Many people have been drawn to this site and their interest an knowledge has grown. I hope that some of these people will now get into the field with their new found knowledge.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How Accurate is Our History?

       I just finished reading "The Man Who Loved China" by Simon Winchester. There are many sources and much evidence that China had a far more advanced achievement in science than we ordinarily think. Many things that Europeans take credit for having first invented were invented by the Chinese. Gunpowder is a common example. However, the Chinese used a magnetic compass long before Europeans thought about it and had travelled to many parts of the world and  produced maps. There is some suspicion that Columbus had a map which originated in China for his first voyage .

      Winchester uses the experience of a brilliant English scientist, Joseph Needham to lay out the scientific achievements of the Chinese. Needham was brilliant but somewhat eccentric. He became interested in the history of science and in particular the Chinese history of science. Needham learned Chinese extremely well.

      During WW II  Needham was sent to China by the British government. For Needham this was too good to be true. He travelled extensively in China . Because he knew the language so well he gained much more information than others would. The description of Needham's Chinese travels would make a fascinating book by themselves. He collected many artifacts and made many box fulls of notes. He had made contact with the leaders of the Chinese communist revolution. At the end of the war Needham was called back to England where he resumed his position at Cambridge. He immediately began to plan a history of Chinese science. A proposal was made to Cambridge and Cambridge agreed to  publish his work.

    The history was to be massive and Needham had the material to do it. The writing took Needham and others 30 years and was not finished when he died.

    So needless to say I found Winchester's story fascinating and would highly recommend people to read "The Man Who Loved China" by Simon Winchester.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Two Memorials in One Day

      Attending two memorials in one day is an achievement I would rather not have. However, death and memorials do not wait and we must bring some closure by remembering the ones we've lost.

      Both women succumbed to brief battles with cancer. Both contributed and participated in the community actively, but in different ways. Both influenced me and supported me in my activities.

     So this afternoon I remembered the good times and celebrated the achievements each made. They were examples for all of us to learn from so that we can be productive and happy in our community. They both had very worthwhile passions; one for the condition of the environment and one for justice in society.

      I will miss Eileen and Dorothy. The things they stood for will influence me as well as their families to continue following a path that contributes good to our whole community.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time Flies

        Yesterday I read a fine  post on how the last ten years for the writer have flown by, yet they have been the most important in his life. I find the passage of time to be more than just interesting. Why does time seem to pass by so rapidly?

        Today is my brother and sister-in-laws 49th wedding anniversary. It only seems like yesterday that we were young people standing at the front of the church for their wedding. What an awful lot has happened since then. They have become great grandparents. What a milestone!

       I retired in 1997. It was an important date in my life as my lifestyle was to change dramatically. I've thoroughly enjoyed my retirement, but it has gone by rapidly.

      Last year I celebrated my 70th birthday. It seemed like a more important birthday than many others. I still feel as if I am the same person I was at say age twenty! At least in my head I still feel like the same person. My body won't let me think that I am still twenty. I enjoy life and have lots of interesting things to do and interesting people to associate with.

     There is  a mathematical reason for feeling that time races by us. When I was five  a year seemed to be forever. When I was eighteen a year seemed like a long time . Ted is 40. One year in his life is 2.5 % of his total life. Ted's son is ten. One year in his son's life is 10% of his son's life. So mathematically the ratios are different so the old person experiences a yea of life as a smaller proportion of his life. Now i know I've lost some people and their eyes have completely glazed over. Future shock explained this to me many years ago and I've  never forgotten it.

      So for Ted and his son and everybody else this is why time seems to fly and I hate to tell you that it will speed up as we age. I hope that all people enjoy life as it passes rather than let life pass them by.