Friday, October 29, 2010

My Great Good Fortune: a new brother when I was fifteen

       Yes that's right! I had a new brother when I was fifteen and it was a major good fortune in my life.

      I began thinking about this situation after I had talked to a friend who was born three weeks before her brother finished high school. He did not handle it well as he was knocked off his perch as top dog in the family. He became permanently estranged from his family. I thought how sad! How much was missed.

      I began to think then that I was very fortunate as we found our new brother to be the best thing since candy.

     Now I have to back up a bit. My sister died very suddenly and unexpectedly from illness when she was eleven and I was thirteen. This loss was devastating  to my Mom and Dad. In the mid 1950's it was considered that a replacement child would be a proper solution for the loss of a child. So at age forty my mother became pregnant and delivered a beautiful healthy little boy on Valentine's Day. So surprise to Mom and Dad as they had really hoped to have a daughter. This surprise was not noticed for a second as the family were all overjoyed at the new baby.

    As you remember, this was an isolated farm so Mom had left a couple of weeks before the baby was due and came home when the weather and roads allowed. It was a great day at our house when David arrived home. Mom showed the three if us our new brother and I remember being very touched by this small new person who had become a member of our household. Mom involved us in David's care from the first day. We thought it was a big deal to hold David, feed him and oh yes change him. I'm afraid to admit that he was a bit of a toy and as a result he received a tremendous amount of attention. It was good for all of us as we had something which allowed us to grow and David received more attention than most other infants and I'm sure he felt that he was wanted and appreciated. This was a good situation for our Mom as being an older mother and still having a busy household to look after, some willing hands to look after a new baby would have been great for her.

     As everybody knows little people grow and develop very quickly. David always had people to play with him and keep him company. There were no children in our district who were David's age so his older brothers were his playmates. We put big old cowboy hats on him and told him his name was "Tex". When we asked him what his name was he would say "Tex" and we were all amused . In fact it was worse than that. His middle name was Calvin and when he was little he couldn't say Calvin. He said"Calman" so there was more amusement at David's expense. These antics were continuous.

     David did give me one of the biggest frights in my life. When He was about two Mom had put him outside to play. He would usually stay right around the house and she would keep her eye on him. She couldn't see him so she told me to go out and check on him. We had had a heavy spring snow storm. It was easy to follow his tracks in the snow. I found him in the ditch by the road. There had been water in the ditch and it had snowed so heavily that the snow covered the water. David didn't realize this and so kept on walking until he toppled over face down into the wet slushy snow. When I saw him face down  I was terrified as I thought he had drowned. I waded in and picked him up and he was fine but very wet.

     All too soon I left the home as I went to Teacher's College in the city so I only lived with him for a little more than two years. My two other brothers soon left so much of David's life was as an only child. He was very good for Mom and Dad as he was very laid back and agreeable. He got along with adults very well. Our ninety year old grandfather lived with us for six months of each year. I think grandpa appreciated his youngest grand son and they certainly spent time together. One time they were arguing a bit so Mom went to see what was going on. They had a small child's book that was upside down and they had a disagreement about the rabbit. Grandpa said it was a jackrabbit and David insisted it was Peter Rabbit. Grandpa was talking in German and David was talking in English. Apparently that is how we communicated with Grandpa, but I don't remember doing that.

    I regret that I missed being in the home when David grew up. However, it just doesn't work that way. The short time I lived with him was rewarding and I couldn't see life without his presence and all the experiences afforded us for personal growth and development. 


Dave many years later moving forward but not into the lake.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Love Music

        When I started this blog a little over two years ago I said that I wanted to comment on music. Looking back I have made very few posts on music. Now is the time to change and do some posts on music.

       I love to listen to a wide variety of music. The older I get the more music I discover that I like to listen to. I have found one radio station that plays a wide variety of music. They not only play the music but have hosts who are extremely knowledgeable about the music they play. For a few example, they have  Celtic , blue grass, country, classical and blues shows.  You get the point. So I find that when there is information about the music you gain more from listening to that music.

       For classical music information is given on the composer and the reason or conditions under which the piece was written. Reasons for the piece being significant are explained. Historical context adds to your quality of appreciation.

     I am a person with very little musical ability. I was not given the routine piano lessons although I took my brother's piano lesson books and tried to learn how to play. I do not have rhythm. My time in the rhythm band was very brief. I was kicked out of the rhythm band in grade two. It seems to me that reason for my expulsion was that I began a sword fight with my brother. W were plying rhythm with sticks.The teacher got the right culprit as my brother did have rhythm. I never learned how to dance. To put the combination of steps and rhythm together was beyond me.

     I take advantage of the library collection of cds. The check out people usually remark that my choices are eclectic. I usually have one each of classical, rock, blues, jazz and country. There are other genres to choose from. I still have not figured out how to get music on the internet, but that's coming. I also volunteer for front of house duties at an arts center and make sure that I get to work at all musical performances. I twist arms to be able to work at our local symphony concerts.

    So for someone with limited musical ability I get a tremendous amount of pleasure from music.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hiawatha House Says, "All Old Guys Should Skate."

       Hiawatha House has done a series of All Old Guys Should....  They are things that I enjoy doing and highly recommend them for others. I've done all old guys should ride bike, have a paper route etc.

       Today of course, is my time to tell about ice skating. Ever since I retired in 1997 I have skated once a week in the winter time. I was never a good skater and did not skate for about 20 years before I retired. I was worried about my skating ability but decided to try it. Skating came back slowly. Since then I have improved my skating so that at this time of my life I skate better than I ever did. Even though I was from a small rural community, I didn't play hockey so I did not learn skating skills. I only skated as a recreation.

     Now we meet at an arena once per week and skate laps mostly. It's a great work out and one gains skills in balance and agility. In other words it's a good way to work out the "stiffs." We play music and some people enjoy skating to the music and some people couple skate. As always with skating there is great banter in the dressing room and then we go the Dairy Queen for coffee. It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Come and join me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

And Another Enchanted Encounter

      Enchanted encounters seem to happen quite unexpectedly. Out of the blue something occurs and it is most memorable. I had one such occasion with my daughter when she was about eleven years old.

     Our city has excellent bike trails and we had gone on a rather long ride. We had ridden about 9kms when our interesting encounter occurred. We were riding through a reclaimed gravel pit as I wanted to take her to a place were each evening I would see a mule deer buck. Sometimes from a distance of 200m this buck would snort loudly and toss his head. This was quite a show and I had told her about it and she wanted to see the buck.

    As we were getting close to the site we began moving slowly and quietly. At that time off to our right we saw a doe. The doe quickly left the area and that was exciting. Then all at once we saw two very young fawns in the area the doe had left. When my daughter saw the fawns she instantly tensed at the magic of seeing these two beautiful creatures. I think she stopped breathing as she realized that she didn't want to disturb the two little beauties. We needn't have worried. The fawns were not going anywhere and after a couple of minutes the one little fellow laid down and the other one moved out of our sight. So watching a fawn lying down for a nap isn't going to hold your attention for long. We quietly left the area and went looking for the buck. This was one of the few evenings the buck was not in the usual place. We turned around and went by the sleeping fawn.

     So in my previous post I was the little child who was mesmerized by the mallard drake and in this post I was the parent who enjoyed sharing the excitement of a youngster experiencing  a very important encounter.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Enchanting Encounter

     A comment from a fellow blogger on my last post "Enchanted Encounter"gave me some more writing  topics.

     If you follow my posts you will see that I have a keen interst in birds. I feed birds, watch birds and lead field trips for people to view birds. I've been asked how I came to be so interested in birds. I can remember what started my interest.

    I have commented about being born and raised on an isolated Saskatchewan farm. The opertion was a small mixed farm. We had chickens, pigs and a few milk cows. Somebody always had to go and get the cows from the pasture so that they could be milked. When I was very young, it was my mother's chore to bring in the cows. Sometimes she would have a little toddler and a baby carriage as she could not leave us in the house. 

    One time after she had rounded up the milk cows she asked me if I wanted to see a very pretty bird. She said if I was very, very good and quiet she would show me a beautiful bird. She wouldn't take my little brother as he was too small and might make noise. We walked about 300 meters down the road, through a ditch and some brush and then looked through a barb wire fence. There at my eye level was a mallard drake floating on a small pond. The moment has stayed with me forever. With my 3 year old eyes  picked up the vivid color and the image was indelibly etched in my mind. The duck knew we were there and stopped swimming and eyed us very carefully. We carefully let the brush bend back and quietly left. Mom also explained that the ducks had a nest and there would be baby ducks. I knew about chicken eggs and baby chicks so this made sense.

    Later on my aunt sent us a second hand Taverner's bird book in the paper back edition. This was and still is an excellent bird book. I can remember going through this book by the hour even though I could not read.  It was one of the few books in the house. Today about a third of the old book is still in my brotheer's house which is our original family home.

    So two very important women in my life influenced my interest in birds. A few years ago I asked my aunt if she remembered giving us the book. She could not recall giving us the book. I was able to tell her how the book influenced my life. Unfortunately I was not able to share this story with my Mom as she passed away long before I had time to reflect on how important the incident was in my life.

    So an enchanted encounter led to a life long interest in birds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Enchanting Encounters

       Today I had an enchanting of those you remember the rest of your life. This afternoon I met a mule deer face to face about 15 to 18 meters away!

      I have a piece of recreational property which has very little development on it. I have built a small garage which holds my holiday trailer. Other than that most of the lot is left as it was. Today I was out closing out my camp. It was the day to make a final grass cut and mulch leaves. I also cleaned leaves out of the eaves trough. It's a pleasant task which usually gets done on a fine fall day.

     So at 3:00 PM I was taking some material back to the car. As I turned to make my start I noticed something that was in an empty space of the driveway... a mule deer doe! She probably saw me at the same time I saw her. She stood still and gave me a disdainful stare. She was trying to go to my neighbors who feed birds and sometimes the deer. This doe was obviously going for a mid afternoon snack. She would look across at the neighbors and then back at me. I talked to her. Finally, she decided to take a more secure option and turned tail and left rapidly. So my magic meeting ended. It's always exciting to unexpectedly meet wildlife when they are very near.

     My neighbors have been telling me that deer visit their yard on a regular basis. They also know that these animals come through my yard. However, when I run into a deer like this it's always a thrill. Now some of you will wonder why I didn't get a picture. You know my excuse. I think I learned a lesson and will start carrying my camera more often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: 1434 The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

         In June I posted a post called How Accurate is Our History? This was after I had read The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester. This was a biography of Joseph Needham who's premise was that many of the many things Europeans claimed to originate had first been developed in China.

       After that I read 1421 The Year China Discovered the World written by Gavin Menzies. Menzies presents the idea that in 1421 the Chinese put together a large fleet and set about travelling around the world. In the process the Chinese made many fairly accurate navigational charts. The Chinese had developed a sophisticated navigational system long before the Europeans had any kind of accurate navigation system. Menzies presents a case that when the Europeans travelled to North America, they had a map that the Chinese had given them. The Chinese had visited Europe on trading missions and gave the Europeans their charts. So When Columbus came to North America he had a map. Columbus knew exactly where he was going. Columbus wasn't a very nice guy as he wanted lots of riches and also wanted power and to be the governor of any new lands he found. Columbus didn't care how he obtained these things. Columbus was not a very nice guy. However , in our schools students have always been taught that Columbus discovered America. On Monday I teased my daughter about celebrating Columbus Day as she lives in Chicago.

      Now I've read 1434 by Gavin Menzies. In this book Menzies claims that the European Renaissance was made possible by information the Chinese left in Europe when they visited in 1434. The Chinese had produced a huge book which described all the things the Chinese had developed up to that time. For example, the helicopter Leonardo da Vinci was credited with originating was copied from the Chinese book. Other examples are bridge building and agricultural developments. Menzies also has a large website with much more information. The Italians learned to produce a large amount of rice by controling their rivers with canals and gates to hold water. A much larger and more reliable food source allows time for people to develop other interests.

      Reading these three books has really given me a large amount of information to rethink the traditional European history we have been taught.

     Now I'm looking for a book that takes issue with some of the things Menzies has proposed. So there is another book review on the way.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Practical Thanksgiving Practice

       Thanksgiving has a very long history as it was a thanks for a bountiful harvest. Thanksgiving is found in most cultures and religions.

      Today I will comment on my 70 years of  Thanksgiving practise. I don't remember Thankgiving in my years from birth to about 8 or 9. It was during the war and times were tough as well as food was rationed during the war. We maybe did not have any formal celebration of the day. What I first remember is that my Dad loved turkey and to celebrate with his relatives. He would invite his two brothers and their families. It was a happy time with lots of visiting and celebrating. I don't remember too much concentration on thankfulness except for the thanking God for the food.

     My first few years of living away from home, I usually made it back to Dad's for his famous turkey feast. At this time I also attended the odd CFL football game. When I went to the arctic, we were mostly single and not well enough organized that we would order a frozen turkey a year in advance for Thanksgiving celebrations. I was sometimes invited to share the meal with a family and it was a special treat and much appreciated.

      When I married my wife was big on having a special Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. That routine has continued to the present. For seven years my daughter insisted on doing the Thanksgiving meal. She would invite her birth mother and Granny. My daughter is an excellent cook and likes to experiment and have variety. It was also special to have her birth mother to celebrate with us and visit with her.

     Now all that I have been referring to is food! I love food but surely there is more to Thanksgiving that food? Surely we could wish one another well on this day.

     I like what has been happening lately where people make an effort to state openly what they are thankful for over the last year. This to me seems to be meaningful when we have to stop and consider the past year and what we have to be thankful for. In a religious sense people pray and thank God every day. Religious practice is full of thankfulness to God. So on Thanksgiving Day I like the practice of stating openly before others our thanks for important things in our life for the past year. When I do this I realize how extremely fortunate I have been in the past year. Oh yes, I do enjoy the food.

Friday, October 8, 2010



Have a wonderful thanksgiving weekend!

I am thankful for all the readers who come to my blog!
Please leave a comment as to what you are thankful for.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October Arrives Gently

       It is with some relief and pleasure that the month of October has arrived very gently as far a weather is concerned.

      September in Central Alberta was a very nasty month. It was cool, cloudy and rainy. We had a couple of nights with killing frosts and half a dozen nights with below freezing temperatures. We had day after day of overcast skies. We had drizzle, heavy showers and just plain rain. We didn't set any precipitation records but added to our already wet conditions it just made matters worse. We didn't have sunny warm drying days.

      So to begin October we have had some sunny warm days. What a relief! The days have become shorter so drying up is much slower. Why am I  so antsy about getting warm dry weather? Well, I'm a farm boy at heart and I know we need some warm dry weather to harvest crops. Closer to my world , I need some dry weather to complete some gardening tasks the way I would like to do them. I dig my vegetable garden by hand. I need the exercise. To do this the soil has to be fairly dry. Right now the soil is muddy. It's hard to dig and have the soil broken down.

     So to get some warm dry weather is a real treat after what September had to throw at us.