Friday, August 30, 2013

My First Arctic Housing Adventure

    My last post cover my travel to the Arctic and how different it was to travel in the south. Today my story is on housing. This fits in with a post a few days ago when I asked if you were ready to move out of the house.

   One of the things I looked forward to when I went north was to have a place of my own. This would be the first time with my own place as before this I always boarded. At that time, most single guys took board and room. There weren't very many apartments available. It was common for people to take in boarders for extra money. I had the same landlady for three years and she was awesome. She spoiled me rotten. She was better than home.

    So with my northern posting I was supposed to get a single staff apartment. This was a small bed sitting apartment. So your sofa was made into a bed. Each night the sofa was opened up and you made your bed. Each morning your bedding was taken off and folded in a closet.The kitchen stove had three burners and the fridge was half sized, 

    Soon after I was hired I received a letter informing me that they did not have an apartment for me. They would put me in the student hostel. This sounded like a good deal. I would have my private room and receive my meals in the hostel. This would be like living in a hotel! The hostel was a facility that held 350 kids.

    When I got off the airplane at 2 A M and met the Superintendent, he gave me an apartment key. I said, "But I am to stay in the hostel." "No," he said, "We now have an apartment for you." So no notification that plans had changed. Just tell the guy when he gets off the plane.

   If I had known about this change, I think I would have talked to Mom about cooking, cleaning and clothes washing. I might have even found a cook book. I might have even brought some kitchen gadgets. 
  For food at that time you were given what was called a ration. In other words you were given enough food for one year. Opening this big box and storing the food in your locker was a big job.

   So along with some travel surprises I also had a lodging surprise. But hey, not too worry. This was fun.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fifty Years ago I Went to the Arctic (Inuvik)

    Fifty years ago this month I left for a six year stint in the Arctic. It was an adventure that changed my life forever. It fits in with my last post as I was moving to an isolated harsh area with unpredictable transportation.

    I had been teaching for four years. I was at a cross road. I knew that I was definitely leaving the position I had. After that I didn't know if I would quit teaching and go into another field , go back to university or find another teaching position. 

    One day I saw an ad in the paper entitled "Teach in Canada's North land." That caught my attention. I thought I would apply and see what happened. I got an interview and later they offered me a position. The position wasn't where I wanted to go but I accepted it anyway. 

   This was with the Federal Govt. and they gave many directions as to what we had to do to prepare ourselves. I had to get to Edmonton and from there they paid for my lodging and transportation. They sent me a ticket and told me that they would reserve a seat for me. All I had to do was phone ahead of time and confirm. 

    Now scheduled service had only begun the year before. It was almost an exaggeration to call it scheduled. It hardly ever flew on the day it was supposed to and sometimes didn't get in for two weeks.

    I went out to the airport and presented my ticket. I was told, "There are no reservations for you. There were about 40 of us in the same boat. A few got on the flight. They told the rest of us to come back tomorrow. We came back the next day and there was a long line up. They cut the line up off just in front of me and said the plane was full. What a shock! I went back to the counter and asked what would happen next. They asked me if I was alone. They said wait, "There might be one seat left." Sure enough there was one seat. They hurried me out to the airplane.

   Now I had never flown so this was a new experience for me. The aircraft was a dilapidated old DC 4 which was out of the thirties. Half way up we ran into violent thunder storms. Put on your seat belts. Then it started to leak right over my seat. I thought, "We're crashing. I'm a goner!"

   We made it to the location where all the new teachers were to be on a week orientation. That was a blast! We stayed in a dorm with one room and about twenty guys. We learned a lot.

   At the end of the week we were to be flown to Inuvik. Guess what? I didn't get on the flight. Tomorrow! 

    I left the next evening at nine PM on a freighter with five passengers. For much of the five hour flight I was in the cockpit. The four other passengers found the softest piece of freight and went to sleep. It was a beautiful clear evening. From 9:00 PM until 2 AM we  flew mostly north and I enjoyed a sunset all the way. When we landed it was dark on the ground.

    So this was my trip to the north. Nothing went as expected. I could roll with the punches and nothing bothered me. It was all an exciting adventure. 

    I was really ready to leave home and establish myself. I don't think Mom and Dad were too happy or confident about seeing me go away for a year.

    I can hardly believe this happened fifty years ago. It seems like yesterday.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Were You Ready to Leave Home?

    Now is the time when millions of young people are about to move out of the house for the first time. They have finished high school and have enrolled in some type of post secondary program. Or they may have found a job that is in another location. At any rate many people are leaving the house and their parents for the first time.

   Some youth want to leave the house. Others are not so sure that they want to leave and be on their own. Some are ready to leave and others are not ready to leave at all. 

    My daughter was accepted into a journalism school that was at the other end of the country. She had also applied to other schools and programs and had been accepted. She had choices. Her number one choice was the school at the other end of the country. She decided not to go as she just wasn't sure that she was satisfied with the living conditions and being so far from home. She stayed home and spent a year at the local college and then had confidence to leave and be on her own. She became much more independent during the year at college. She learned more about money and learned some basic housekeeping skills like washing clothes. She was not home sick. It was harder for Dad to see her leave than it was for her.

   Some people are not remotely ready to leave and live on their own. They are lacking confidence and have not grown into independence. Part of the reason for lack of confidence is the their own self esteem. They don't know how to handle money. They have no idea how to look after themselves. They have a place to live but don't have a clue what to do. 

   When I finished high school I was in no way ready to go out and live on my own. My Dad found a boarding place for me. Mistake. I should have found my own. I was terribly homesick. I looked around at my classmates and they seemed so much more capable that it intimidated me. I stood there with my eyeballs hanging out instead of learning how to be more independent. I could look after my money, but that's about all. I had no idea how to wash clothes. I could buy some clothes but even that was pathetic.

   So for all the kids who are leaving home this year , I wish you success and that you learn how to live on your own. Being able to live on your own will greatly increase your success in the program you are taking.

   So what were your experiences on moving out? What was good and what was bad?

Friday, August 23, 2013

An Interesting Coincidence

    My Dad was an out and out extrovert. Dad  would stop on the road anyplace to see some one or something. There wasn't a saw mill or any other plant that Dad wouldn't stop at and go in. He was always curious about how things were done.

    One time he over did it a bit. He was in a medical teaching center with some one who had an appointment. They had some time and were walking around in the building. There were interesting displays in the hallway. One door was open and it looked like a few students were working so Dad went in to see what was going on. There were tables with large sheets over them. They went up to the students and found they were dissecting a body. It gave Dad a bit of a shock, but he stayed anyway. Finally the lab supervisor came over and politely said, "I don't think you should be in here."

     Dad would strike up a conversation anywhere with anybody. There was a deal on in the 1960's where for $99.00 you could ride the bus for 99 days. Dad took this and met many people and had many stories to tell when he got back. .

    Dad spent about 20 winters in Phoenix. Again , he talked to many different people. He met a man one day who had a cap on that said Alberta Wheat Pool. This told Dad that the man was from Alberta, Canada and was most likely a farmer because the Alberta Wheat Pool was a large farm organization. 

   So Dad Started, "Well, how's the old farmer today?" 

    The guy looked shocked and said , "How did you know I vas a a farmer?"

    Dad said, "Your cap gives you away."

    Then they started to chat and they found out that the old farmer had come to Dad's home town when he first came to Canada from Germany. He had worked for Mr. Wilson for two years and then moved to northern Alberta where he set up farming. Before they parted he asked my Dad, "What ever happened to Mr Wilson's daughter Alice?"

     Dad said, "She married my brother."

     So there was a double coincidence. They had something in common as they had lived in the same place. And the old farmer found out what happened to one of the girls that he liked.

     So being an extrovert can lead to some interesting adventures. I don't know how my Dad had a son who is such an introvert.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Power in Clouds

I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.
       From William Wordsworth's I wandered Lonely as a Cloud

This bank of clouds built up in mid afternoon

More of the same cumulus clouds.

More of this huge bank of clouds

     We can think of clouds in a romantic aspect  or we can think of clouds in a scientific way. 

      Clouds are beautiful but at the same time it takes  tremendous energy to build a cloud and that energy is contained in the cloud.

     These clouds built up the other day and stayed south of me. I could enjoy the beauty but had sunshine all the time and I didn't get wet.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Heritage Square

   A few posts ago I set out to get some photos of Heritage Square. That is before I came up over a berm and through some trees to find a spray park. That is before a did some tricks on my bike that people liked. So those posts had to be done before this one.

    So here is our Heritage Square. Our heritage Square is a work in progress. There is room for it to grow but by the looks of it people have lost interest in adding on to the square. 

    I really wanted to get the Loft House. I found it hard to photograph as I ran out of room. I found that is was far more interesting inside than outside. It is filled with all kinds of all things Norse. Of course it has a gift shop. The facility is open during the summer months.

The entrance with flags. I missed the sodded roof which is a feature of this house.

     An interesting little building which was rescued before it was destroyed is the first store that opened in Red Deer. It had been moved several times and was being used as a storage shed behind a downtown business. It's hard to believe that business was carried on in this small 14 by 20 building.

The original store in Red Deer
  This is a close replica of the first Red Deer school. It has been set up inside so that classes can be taught.

This is not a very large building

Fine workmanship went into this replica as I'm sure went into the original.
 Now I shouldn't tell you that there are two steeples from local churches. The steeples were rescued before the churches were demolished.

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Can Still Draw a Crowd.

    I like most people appreciate an audience when I perform!

    I have ridden my bike about 28000 km since 1988. I average over 1000 km per summer.

     With 28000 km there are chances for an accident or two. I've had some. I only had one major accident and that was only a very bad  bruise and lots of road rash. 

     A few nights ago I had a small tumble( more like stumble) on my bike. No harm was done... two little road rashes. 

     I was using a cross walk to get to the traffic light where I could press the button for a walk light that would let me cross the street safely. Cars are in the process of making a right turn when you're in the little cross walk. I had checked for cars and I didn't see anybody I thought was making a right turn. When I was crossing I saw a vehicle making the right turn and I didn't think it was going to stop. I took evasive action which turned out to be awkward and down I went. 

    My fall must have been interesting to say the least as two cars stopped to ask if I was okay and two cyclists stopped as well. So I drew a crowd. 

    Now what I'm really pleased about is that four people stopped to see if I was all right. I appreciate their caring and concern. I feel better about this place that people do care. I just wish the first car that blew by making the right turn had stopped. I would have had some things to say to him/her!

    I also look back and think how fortunate I've been doing something I really like and being safe.

    Now this is one that I don't have any pictures of.

     Some blogger comments recently were about laughing when some one falls. I'm sure they would have laughed at me when I fell the other night.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I just Discovered That I've Been Living Under a Toadstool

     I few days ago I was walking through part of downtown to a place where I wanted to get some photos. When I walk through downtown I take many short cuts. I cross parking lots diagonally. I go through back alleys. I go between buildings. I go through buildings I do all of this to get to the place I want to go. I'm not quite as bad as my friend Walter, because he goes through people's yards.

     So the other day I came up over a berm and through some trees and I saw something I had never seen and I didn't know what it was. I had seen construction at the location for about six months but it's behind the trees. I had read about the site in the paper , but I did not remember what it was.

    What I saw looked like large plastic colorful flowers. I immediately began taking pictures so that I could make an identification. There was no one at the scene so I couldn't ask about the site.

    So here are the photos. You tell me what this is. No peeking now!

So, a poor picture but you see the flowers

Rocks and a trail

More rocks. Man did I stink on these pictures

More flowers
       So I asked some one a few blocks away and they told me that it was the city's new spray park! Am I out of it?

      Now that I know what this is, I'm wondering if I could go there at night when no one's around so that I could try the Spray Park. I wouldn't want to be seen as that might be embarrassing!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Again, the Reluctant Handyman.

     Once again I've had one of those handyman jobs that I dislike. I've posted on this topic before.

      There are many little repair jobs that crop up around the average home. There are people who are in business and they fix the things that fall apart. They are usually good but when they're bad they really stink. When we first moved into this house we needed a repair to the oven. The reluctant repairman (me) was not practicing then. An appliance repair man came to the house to repair the oven. A bill was paid and when we checked the oven it still didn't work. The appliance repairman came back and said, "Oh your oven element has to be pushed in." A service call was charged. So the debate was should I pay for the first call and repairs that were not needed. After a vigorous argument we did not have to pay for the first call where nothing was actually repaired. Maybe this is why we became leery of appliance repairmen and I started to do repairs.

    Now I don't have a mechanical aptitude. I'm not good with my hands or tools. I don't like doing repairs.

    But there I was the other day with just a little job. The washers on the bathtub taps were leaking. So the parts were 98 cents(a dollar here  because we don't have pennies). So would you calla repair man for a $105.00 service fee? Of course not.

Some of the parts.

Now I think I should do something with that tile color.

    So here I am taking taps apart and replacing washers and voila no more leaks.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Tomato Time Here

    I love tomatoes. I love to grow them. I love to eat them. And I love to cook with them. And I've posted previously on tomatoes.

     My tomatoes have started ripening in the last week or ten days. I know some people have been posting that their  tomatoes are finished. But for here this is the right time for tomatoes to ripen.

Tomatoes just starting to turn

    I plant my tomatoes on the south side of a brick house. The soil has warmed up in the spring. It is warmer on the south side of the house and they  are protected from early frosts.

I can't wait for these to ripen!

    I keep my tomatoes going until Sept. 30. I know I have to baby them from frosts so I do some covering. They do produce in Sept. but very slowly. 
Cherry tomatoes

    I love eating fresh tomatoes. As a kid I would reach into a box of tomatoes my Mom had and take two or three and eat them like apples. This was the after school snack. Now I just make sure I have tomatoes for two meals a day.

And here we go!

    When my tomatoes ripen faster than I can eat them, I freeze them. For freezing , I wash them, take out the two ends and put them in a bag and throw them in the deep freeze. You can take the skins off the tomatoes by dropping them in hot water for 30 sec. of so. The skin comes off very easily and you don't have to contend with a skin that doesn't cook. When I want tomatoes for cooking later on I just bring out a bag of tomatoes and I'm in business. 

    So this is a time of year that I look forward to and enjoy a special treat from my garden.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Three Strikes and Josh is Out

       Now I keep saying that Josh was frugal , but he didn't mind going after something that he really wanted. Josh wanted a 50 th anniversary Corvette  and he bought one...a cherry red one.

     Now I went for my regular visit to Josh. After a few days he asked me if I'd like to drive his Corvette. Now I know many people would pay money to drive a Corvette. Me? I wouldn't touch it. If I put a tiny scratch in it I would be doomed for life. I don't think Josh really wanted me to test his car.

     So he asked me to come for  ride in his Corvette.  His driveway was gravel and there was a half kilometer of gravel to the pavement. He eased the car over the gravel at a walk as there is very little clearance so even one little bump and the bottom of the Corvette would drag. We turned on the highway which was a well paved road with wide shoulders. Josh wasn't that familiar with the car so some experimentation was done with some of the controls.

     We cruised about 10 km down the road. I saw Josh take a good long look behind and then forward. There was no traffic ahead. That's when he floored the Corvette and it roared into action. . In no time the Corvette was at 180 kph (110 mph).

    Now I'm not that keen on speed. I can take it or leave it . Speed is not a thrill for me. We soon slowed down and found a place to turn around and return home.

   So for a third time I survived an incident with Josh at the controls... my one and only ride in a Corvette.

    So three strikes and your out Josh.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Josh Has Another Trick to do me in

    Josh is a very competent and competitive tennis player. He spends winters in Arizona and plays tennis as much as he can . One spring he brought a ball machine back to Canada.

    I know about tennis rackets,  balls and court . I played with my son when he was a kid. I either hit home runs out of the park or smash the ball into the net. My tennis experience is very brief.

    I retired June 30 1997 and would receive my first pension check July 26.

    We went out to see Josh. He mumbled about the ball machine and that he had been too busy to set up  and adjust. So one day I offered to help him with the ball machine. So balls are shooting out on the opposite side of the net  so they have to be picked up. Then I thought it would be easier to take my racket and knock the balls back. Next thing I knew I was getting pointers on playing tennis. The ball machine worked  very well and getting a good workout. Somebody else was getting a workout.

    It was a hot muggy morning with a temperature of 35 C (95 F) in the sun. Finally I had to say that's enough. We secured the ball machine and went home. I we sweating profusely, weak and a little wiggly. I'd had more than enough tennis. I wondered if I'd live to collect my first pension check and ribbed Josh that he was trying to do away with me before I got my first pension check. 

   I wish it had been cool that morning. I may have stayed long enough to pick up some tennis skills to be able to play well enough to make it fun. Who knows ? My whole life could have been different.