Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First Day on Skype

        For those of you who follow Hiawatha House you will know that Red is somewhat challenged when it comes to all things technological. I have told you that I had a digital watch for twenty five years before I learned to set it. I struggled with my new ipod last year. I don't set the timer on my DVD. Some day I'm going to have to down load a podcast? I missed Sunday Morning today and it was a good show. How am I going to hear it if I don't download a podcast?

       Now some people will be saying, "What in the world is wrong with Red if he can't do these simple technological things." If you look at my birthday post you will get part of the answer.

      Three years ago my brother said I should get Skype. He had all the reasons why it would be great to have Skype. I understood all his reasons. But I still thought about it . For my birthday this year my daughter gave me a webcam. HINT, HINT. So I knew she was getting a webam and wanted to talk to Mom and Dad on Skype. The webcam  had  a disk to download. That went fine. I set up a Skype account. That was pretty hit and miss but I got it done. I've never had my sound working properly on this computer so I wanted to fix that before going on Skype.

     This morning we phoned my daughter for her birthday. Then she said lets try to get on Skype. She added me as a contact as we hadn't done that before. I added her as a contact. She clicked something and there she was . I clicked something and there I was at her place in Chicago. We talked for an an hour and a half. My wife thought it was absolutely fabulous as she was really wowed by speaking and seeing the image at the same time.

     So here I am a veteran of one call on Skype! I have much more to learn but I'm sure I'll get to it. Now I just have to catch up to the guy who told me to get Skype in the first place.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Birthday Issue

         Recently I posted on my 72nd birthday. I got thinking more about the birthday issue after that post. I guess birthdays were on my mind since my son recently turned 42 and my daughter will soon turn 40. I stopped and said "Wow" I have two kids who are in their 40's. I had never thought of things in that way before.

      I was fortunate enough to be 68 when my Dad died. I know he found it difficult to consider me as elderly. I sent him a birthday card and told him that on my next birthday I would be 65. Apparently he thought about this for a bit and then said to my step Mom, "You know Red's and old man." My step Mom thought this was a hilaroius comment. For my Dad it was one of those moments when time needed an adjustment in his head. I had left his house at age 17 and had not spent much time with him after that so experiences we had together were limited.
        It has always seemed to me the first sight of my children is the one that sticks in my mind.  I remember them as preschoolers as they were always in the house and very dependent on me. In their school years they  were out of the house for the day but with me at home. So they were spending less and less time with me. They finished high school and left the home. They came back for visits. Less time was spent with them. So suddenly a large amount of time has passed and I'm sorry to say that they are middle aged. So maybe I should have been putting more emphasis on birthdays.

      When a child is 4 they concentrate on the present time. They don't spend much time considering their short lifetime experience. A four year old will find it very difficult to look toward the future. I'm wondering if this is why as adults, we remember almost none of our early life. We don't spend time remembering when we're young and don't establish much in our memory bank.

     As we age we think about our past much more. At my age there is a tremendous amount of past to think about. Some of it gets muddled. I find this out when I visit my brother and sometimes we have some different views of our past experience. Some of my childhood memories have faded as I'm not with my family to constantly remind me about them.

     The four year old probably cannot see himself as 16. Just as I could not see my children as being in their 40's. And I can't realistically see myself as being eighty although I am getting close to it.

     I think the most important part of the living process is that we stay positive about our life. It is important that we look forward in a positive way and in so doing we will enjoy getting there

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Mule Deer Snubbed Me

     Yesterday was the day to go out to the lake and do the last yard work of the season. It was a cool morning as there had been a good frost the night before...minus 6 C. By the time I got to the lake about 11:30 there was still frost on the grass and it was cool. I  put my cranky old lawn mower in the sun to warm it up a bit so that it would start. I had some leaf raking to do so that helped to warm me up. I had some things to find in the trailer that had to be taken home. After this the lawn mower still wouldn't start so that was excuse enough to stop for lunch.

     Even on a cool day lunch out in the sun and fresh air is pleasant. I had three bites from my peanut butter sandwich when I thought I saw somebody on the road or walking trail. They sort of disappeared and I became more curious and watched very carefully. I kept absolutely still and did not munch on my sandwich. Finally I could make out the silhouette of a deer so I really held my position. A mule deer doe came through the trees into my yard. She go to about 12 or 15 meters from me before she stopped and took a careful check. She knew that there was something there that usually wasn't there. She sniffed and listened and then retreated 10 meters or so. Then two fawns appeared and I could see an outline of another deer where these three had entered. After some more checking they finally crossed on their well beaten trail to my neighbor's place where they knew lunch was waiting.

     They had a quick lunch and then retraced their steps through my yard .They took their time and then leisurely left my yard.

     Now I could finally move and continue with my lunch. By this time my coffee was cold! However, I had the thrill of watching four mule deer walk right by me and decide that I wasn't a threat. In other words they snubbed me.

     Oh yeah. I had thought of taking my camera with me! I probably wouldn't have had it on a chair beside me while I was eating lunch. And oh yeah if I'd picked the camera up my picture would have instantly disappeared. My picture taking has got to improve. The first thing would be a little patience.

     It was a fun day. Much the the same thing happened to me last year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Turned Seventy-two a Few Days Ago

       That's right . My birthday was a few days ago and I turned 72.

      Now birthdays don't really excite me. If I was on my own, I would probably miss my birthday. Birthdays don't get me bent out of shape for various reasons. I have no angst about growing old or oncoming poorer quality of life. My Mom died at age 59. I was worried if I would outlive her. Now I see how young she was when she died. I don't want to outlive my Dad who died at age 95.

     Now I realize that most other people are quite concerned about their birthday. It's a big deal! I only forgot my wife's birthday once! But I think it was ingrained on my mind from school as to how important birthdays were. We read the birthdays over the intercom each day. Once in a while some little kid's birthday was missed so I had a very sad and worried little kid coming and telling me that their birthday was missed. They knew that I would go to the office and make sure that the error was corrected. I also said happy birthday to the kid each time I saw him or her that day. I'll never forget the look in those eyes when their birthday was forgotten. It was like they'd received a message that they didn't exist.

     Now before I turned 72 my brother was also 71. When I turned 72 he stayed at 71. So what's the deal? My brother was born less than a year after I as born? We have always enjoyed this situation. When we were little guys somebody always asked us how old we were . I would say 8 and he would say 8. Then the person would say , "Oh you're twins'  and  we  would say "no." It would leave the person scratching their head. I often think back to the time when we were born and wonder how busy our Mom was. It got worse because 14 months later we had a baby sister. So a two year old was looking after one year old. Very likely neither of us were potty trained. So a one year old and two year old were sleeping in a double bed.

     So I am very happy to have turned 72 . You can see the standard muffin and one candle. I got a web cam for my birthday. My wife took me out for dinner and then we went to a hockey game. Times are good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Surprise of the Anonymous Gift!

         Last Tuesday a number of us received an anonymous gift out of the blue.

         Tuesday is skating day and after skating we go the the nearest Dairy Queen for coffee. We have done this for close to ten years. The Dairy Queen staff are excited to see us and treat us as special guests. They can ask why someone is not there on a certain day. If we accidentally spill a coffee they give us a free refill!

         Last week we had all just sat down to enjoy our coffee when one of the young staff came over with a tray of blizzards. We told her that she must be at the wrong table because we hadn't ordered blizzards. Then the young gal tried to explain to us that someone had ordered the blizzards for us . We all looked at each other with puzzlement. She explained that a young man had ordered the blizzards for us and wouldn't give his identity and left. Although I doubt that he left because it would have been worth  much more to stay there and see the look on our faces. So the waitress finally persuaded us to accept the blizzards.

       So if someone had been watching they would have seen major confusion on our faces. Then some doubt and disbelief. Then there was our wondering who was the fine person who bought us blizzards and why he bought them for us. Soon we began to have delighted looks on our faces as we began to dig into the blizzards. I'm sure that our faces showed our appreciation. I hope the person who bought them stayed and had the pleasure of watching us. It would have been worth his investment.

       I would suspicion that the guy was familiar with us coming in on a regular basis and probably knew one of us. One of our skaters ran a day care for twenty five years and runs into some of her former charges. They are always extremely happy to see her. Of course, since she had them as preschoolers she has no way of recognizing them.

      A great picture opportunity was missed because who takes his camera to skating?

      So an anonymous act of kindness brought some old people much pleasure.

      A big thanks to the anonymous blizzard buyer. We enjoyed every last spoonful of ice cream.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Occupy_______Protesters" Give me Optimism

          Four weeks ago a group appeared in New York with the vague slogan that they wanted to occupy Wall Street. They had many signs and walked back and forth but their slogan could have meant different things.

         I think this group would have quickly disappeared except that the police arrested 700 of them for rather poor reasons. This gained the group massive publicity and as a result the movement grew by leaps and bounds with sections forming in many different centers.

        We have all seen the development of obscenely high salaries for top executives for the last ten years. It had started on a slower pace 25 or 30 years ago. Companies piled up huge amounts of money. Sports would be an example where athletes make enormous amounts of money. This is a competition between players and the leagues. Any first year hockey player gets close to one million dollars in his first year.

       The "Occupy " group is very shrewd in it's tactics. There is an emphasis on no violence. Their aims and objectives are vague. They are extremely well spoken so communication is excellent.They are using social networks wisely.

       I think that this movement has a good chance of success in bringing about a change so that the wealth is more fairly distributed. That's why I'm optimistic.

       I started my professional career in the late 50's. Times were good . Jobs were a dime a dozen. Salaries were quite adequate. I have watched with dismay as many labor groups have lost benefits such as wages, pensions and  health care . In the 80' I saw many parents with five or six jobs between them over an 18 hour period. They were trying to make ends meet. Many times their children were neglected. These people were hard workers and had finished high school and often had post high school training yet they could not get employment that was productive. No doubt some businesses were benefiting from their labor.

       I think these groups will continue with their low key actions for a long time. They will keep up the pressure on government and business until Govt. and business begin to worry. I'm sure that political parties are already looking at how they are going to be maneuvered. In Canada where we have three main parties it's easier for them to influence political parties to shift. It may be more difficult in the U.S. with only two political parties.

      I see  link to demonstrations in the Arab world although they were looking more directly for regime change. The English riots were about the same thing except they were put down with force as the rioters gave the police good reason to arrest them . Many of the English demonstrators were of color so it made it easier for the police to take action.

      I would think that at this time government and business is totally ignoring the "Occupy  Group."  This will be to the peril of govt. and business. A few weeks ago they could have thrown a handful of change to the protesters and made a few vague promises and the protesters would probably have disappeared. The longer this movement stays around the more change they will demand.

      So I am optimistic that the "Occupy Group" will bring about change. They are asking for an adjustment to make the sharing of wealth more equal. I think such an adjustment is needed and cooler heads will find a way to do it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Gardening 99% Finished for This Year

        For the last couple of weeks we have had cool nights down to 2 or 3 degrees C. We've had 5 or 6 nights with light frosts of minus 2 o3 C. The days continually get shorten so we have less sunlight each day. As a result plants become very inactive and some are totally inactive. So my gardening has pretty well finished except for some clean up.

        In my vegetable garden I still have carrots, parsnips, beets and turnips. These plants aren't doing anything. They just keep better if they're left in cool soil. I had tomatoes growing on the south side of my house which is brick. It's a super place to grow tomatoes but the tomatoes gave up the fight and I pulled them out a week ago.

      I grow very few annuals. My petunias are still doing well and are full of blossoms so this is the only thing I am watering. All perennials are pretty well dormant. I want to wait a little while longer before I cut them off. Grass in the parks and boulevards is brown. Grass in yards where fertilizer and water have been applied is still green.

      Most trees have lost their leaves. We have a few trees that hang on to leaves for a long while.

      So all I have to do is clean up. Leaf raking will go on for a while as leaves come to visit my place from a long way away where they have not been raked. The pictures of the same ash tree were taken 50 days apart. I still have compost to dig into my garden. Then there are those perennials that I have to cut off and that means I am finished for the year.

     So if I count all the activity from the spring time I'm 99% finished. It was a tough year because of weather but in the end everything paid off. It's a summer of pleasure watching plants grow and develop and if a few birds visit that's a bonus.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Am Thankful For the People Around Me

        Since it's the middle of the Thanksgiving Day weekend it's time to think about what I am thankful for. Many times we get carried away with the hoopla of the weekend and forget about contemplating how fortunate we are. It's a valuable exercise to consider the good things in life that we experience and then we may not be overcome by some of the nastier parts of life.

       I am very thankful for the people I find around me on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. I like people. However, I'm not an extrovert who walks across the street to talk to a stranger. I tend to hold back and observe what's going on around me. When I do engage in conversation with someone I will be the listener and think carefully about what they are telling me. Once get to know someone I can become very talkative and provoke reactions by challenges to people.

          I appreciate family, relatives, friends neighbors , colleagues and the odd person who I just happen to bump into. Most people are supportive. Most people you can learn something from. Most people genuinely want to reach out to others and communicate what ever is on their mind.

     I can accept a wide variety of people. I am comfortable with visible minorities. I can deal with those who are somewhat different in views as long as they do not push me. I listen to their views and they listen to mine. I have had some extremely eye opening conversations with criminals but I have nothing to do with them when they are active as criminals.

      So I have to say that I am thankful for the people around me who are a part of my life and teach me things and make me think about life. Maybe this is why I appreciate life as it comes.

      So thanks to all those who have passed through my life.


Friday, October 7, 2011

I Celebrate Thanksgiving Early

       My wife decided that we would have our Thanksgiving meal today and avoid the crowds of the weekend. So the celebration part of Thanksgiving is a special meal. The meditation on thankfulness can occur on the weekend.

      For most people Thanksgiving celebrations are long on tradition. For my Dad any excuse for a turkey dinner with all the trimmings was just fine. He was a farmer and was very active physically so had a lusty appetite. He loved having family together so his two brothers and sometimes a sister would attend these dinners. These visits and wonderful meals were days that were very exciting. Usually the meal was at noon with cold turkey and left overs in the late afternoon so my uncles could go home and do their farm chores.

      For my Dad the thankful part took place every day of the year. He was a devout christian and prayed many times a day and always offered thanks for what God had provided him.

      For my family, we for the most time, have enjoyed the turkey dinner with all the trimmings. There were only four of us but we could really tuck into the turkey and make it disappear. When my kids left home we continued to enjoy the turkey dinner. When my daughter came back and lived beside us she took over Thanksgiving celebrations. She did not always have the traditional turkey. What she did have was her birth mother and granny and at times other relatives. This made for an enjoyable day.

      Now that we are only a couple again we have found the turkey bit too much. We don't like having left over turkey for four or five days. Our appetites and energy to make the meal have lessened. So today is the first Thanksgiving that we have decided to go out for the meal.

      Now that the meal is dispensed with I have time to consider what I am thankful for. Looking back over the year there were many good things which happened to make my life rewarding.

      Since I'm on the blog I can say that I'm thankful for all the people who visit Hiawatha House. I am also thankful to all the people who offer comments. I have found many interesting blogs to read so thanks to all the bloggers who create interesting posts.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Was Shook Up a Little This Morning

     This morning I ran into a situation that left me a little tense for a while(shook up).

      I was downtown and going back to my car when a couple of people called me and pointed to a man and asked if I knew him. Of course, I had never seen the guy before. He was leaning heavily on the side of his truck and looked as if he would hit the ground at any moment. These people had called the police as they thought he was drunk or on drugs. We waited for a few minutes when I decided that we should get him on the ground before he fell and did damage to himself. When I approached and tried to talk to him there was no response. He didn't seem to know that I was there. I tried to ask him if it was okay for me to help him and tried to assure him that I would help. There was no response. I finally took a strong grip on him and tried to ease him to  the ground. He was rigid. Finally I got him going in the direction of the ground and he had a soft landing. I got him lying on his side.

       Still no response from the police. I finally said to the other two,"This is an ambulance call and not a police call." They then called the ambulance. The ambulance arrived in two minutes.

      The EMTs went to work quickly and carefully. They got him sitting up but they could get no response. It was interesting that they went through all his pockets and took the stuff out. One of the items was a diabetic syringe. They quickly got him on the stretcher and in the ambulance and off to emergency.

      I  began to think afterward that I should have pushed the ambulance issue sooner. I knew he wasn't drunk. Drunks are completely relaxed and loose. There was no obvious odor of alcohol. This guy was quite rigid. We stood around for at least twenty minutes waiting for police. I only hope that serious damage was not done to this man by our waiting for the wrong people to respond. He was obviously in diabetic shock or coma.

     When I got home I realized that I should do some renewing on first aid skills so that I will respond sooner in the next incident. It took me a little while before I regained my composure to carry on with the rest of my day.

Monday, October 3, 2011


       This morning one of my friends on Face Book or some place made the statement to me"You are appreciated." My wrinkled brow wrinkled more than ever and I began to think about appreciation. I know what my friend was referring to but it still caught me by surprise. It was a powerful little statement.

        So I spent all day thinking about appreciation. I even looked the word up in the dictionary. So I was recognized with gratitude for support in a difficult situation.

        For me appreciation always seems to be the other way around. I appreciate being able to help others or to support them when they need support. I guess it comes from my experience as a teacher where I was helping others. To see kids succeed was always a very positive experience. I was proud so see the progress kids would make.

       I liked to teach modified classes. This means I would be given a dozen kids in a class who had various challenges. Some were behaviour problems. Some had learning disabilities. Some had a lack of ability. It was not the way to group kids but it separated kids from regular classes where they would be harassed. One guy I will never forget. He was grade nine and only knew times tables to five and could only divide with one place divisors. Achievement was slow. He talked about remote controlled bombs which worried me about his future. When he did make progress his eyes always lit up. He really wanted to learn. Today he has a company worth over 800 000 000 dollars. He used his remote control idea. He developed a system to control remote gas wells using computers of course. This guy has always stuck in my mind. I really appreciate what he has accomplished because of the limited skills he had.

     So for me appreciation has always been from my end. It was a shock today to be told I was appreciated. Many times we appreciate things and do not say so.  This was a good lesson for me today. It's good to just plainly say to people "You are appreciated."