Friday, September 30, 2011

My Childhood Home to be Abandoned

         The house I lived in from ages eight to seventeen is about to be abandoned. Even though I only lived in the house for such a short time it has many family memories tied up in it.
photo by Richard Liimatainen

          My Dad bought the land the house is on in 1935. There was a small poorly constructed house on the property when he bought it. For a young single guy the house was just fine. He didn't live in it in the winter as he went out working. The little shack was about 16' x 28'. By 1946 Dad had four little kids so this house little house was not at all suitable for a growing family and he had to do something pretty fast.

          He found another quarter section that had a house on it that was larger and fairly well built. The house had an attic that was not finished but was big enough to be made into bedrooms.The plan was to move the house to his yard and then sell the quarter section.

          The house was moved and set on a cement foundation. An addition was made to the house. My Dad had very little money so he found used lumber and altered the house. His neighbors gave him much assistance and expertise to complete the house. So he ended up with a very comfortable house that was more than adequate for his growing family . He put in central heating and it was wired for electricity. We were very happy to have a new house.

        By the time Dad finished the house economic conditions had improved and he didn't have to sell the quarter section he got the house from.

       My Dad was probably as proud of the hip roof barn he built as he was of his house. The hip roof barn was a status symbol. However by 1955 these barns were no longer essential as other methods of housing animals had been devised.

       Many happy times happened in this house. There were also extremely sad times such as when my sister died in 1953.

        Mom and Dad lived in this house until about 1973. They had been spending the winters in another location. About that time one of my brothers began his farming career and moved into the house. My brother had to do some maintenance over the years. He replaced the roof. added a garage and built the veranda at the front. There were also interior alterations particularly in the kitchen.

      Now it's time for my brother to move to a better location. There is nobody who will move into the house and keep it going.

      So the house has been occupied by my family for almost 65 years and sadly the end has come to it's usefulness .

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Deer River in Fall Colors

        Over the past two years I have tried to do a collection of Red Deer River pictures for winter, spring summer and fall. I did not get the fall pictures last year as I was too late and missed the best of the colors.
        I have taken all pictures from approximately the same position so that the seasons can be compared. The name of the river in this area is  river bend. There is a long lazy ess bend which makes for an interesting section of the river. The bends are approximately 2 kms in length. There are riffles and a few small rapids so it is a popular river to canoe. To go from Red Deer To Drumheller takes about four days and you will see very few other humans. You will see lots of birds, animals and a few cows who stare at you as you float by.

       At this time of the year the water level is fairly low. There are a few places where you could wade across. Most of it is deeper than wading depth. There are many large boulders so it keeps you on your toes.

       So the Red Deer River is a very enjoyable canoe trip if you have lots of time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Extra Ordinary Warm September Days

       For the past five days it has been very warm in this part of Alberta. We had a few days of 25 C and the last two days have been 30 C. Now thirty degrees is not a record but it is extra ordinarily warm.

       Our summer was wet , cool and cloudy. Gardening was a challenge. Sunning at the beach was a waste of time unless you had an umbrella. About July 15th I gave up on my goal of 1000km cycling for the summer. It quit raining in August and I am close to 1000km and will easily do more. We did not have a day with a high of 30 C all summer and very few days reached 24 or 25 C. So to have these temperatures on Sept. 24th and 25th is quite extra ordinary. I had taken most of my tomatoes off the plants about a week ago when we had a couple of frosts. Now all kinds of new tomatoes have formed and if we get a few more warm days they will be pickable.

       I can never remember Sept. days with highs of 30 C. That doesn't mean to say that it hasn't happened before. It's not a record so we must have had a 31 at some time in the past. I was born Oct. 21st and my Dad always told me that it was a very warm day. I wish that I had pinned him down as to what the temperature actually was. He said the old house was really hot. I don't know if that was because of all the hot water that was needed or if it was a case of nerves for somebody who was about to become a Dad for the first time.

       Whatever warm temperatures we have now I will take them and enjoy them to the fullest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Doctor Has Spoken: But Was I Listening?

        A few days ago I posted about getting the results of an EEG. I had posted before about having to go all night without sleep in preparation for the EEG.

        On Sept. 7 the neurologist gave me the results. She told me that there was an indication in one part of the brain of faster wavelengths. This she said would indicate an area prone to seizures and that the incident I experienced June 19th was probably a seizure.

       If you read the post "The Doctor Has Spoken" you will see that I had a very healthy dose of denial. I used one term "iffy" for the diagnosis. I also said that I had seizures as a youngster and what I had June 19th was not a seizure. I was very critical of the neurologist's diagnosis. The neurologist prescribed medication to help prevent seizures. I wasn't comfortable taking this medication but I respected her professional opinion and went along with the prescription.

      Since that time my view has changed. The first medication prescribed did not agree with me at all. I had poor balance, extreme drowsiness, tics in my hands and feet and some loss of appetite. A different prescription was given. I waited four of five days for me to recover from the first prescription, but really I was delaying facing up to the issue. Then I googled seniors and epilepsy. I wasn't expecting to find anything. I was surprised. I found many excellent sites. What I gathered is that in the last ten years researchers have discovered that many of the symptoms shown by seniors are really the results of seizures. So bouts of confusion and memory loss, which is  common in some seniors behavior, is the result of seizures. They have tested and found areas of the brain with increased rate of activity. They put the two things together and come up with the premise that many seniors are having seizures.

      Once I read that research shows evidence of seniors with seizures I sat back and started to accept the truth of my diagnosis. It then made sense for me and why I was taking medication for seizures.It is to  prevent seizures and to allow me to live a normal quality of life. I can carry on with all the activities I normally take part in. Yesterday I ice skated and had no problems whatsoever.

      So it took a while. I had heard  the neurologist but I had refused to really accept what she was telling me. I see the neurologist in October again so I will admit that I had a healthy dose of denial but  since that time I have seen the light.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Blog Counter Dilemma

        Blog counters really mystify me. Why can't all blog counters count the same amount? Now I know I'm grouching again and this is a number of posts in a row where I have been grumpy, but I am serious about this problem.

       Shortly after I started my blog I put on one of the free counters. I chose the easiest one to install with my limited technical expertise. I followed it enough to discover what features it recorded. Most of the features recorded were of little or no value. About a year later blogger put a counter on our blogs. I soon discovered that these counts weren't even close. I can't block my cookie on the blogger account so I have to discount the hits when I am on the blog. The blogger counter was always much higher. So I puzzled these things for awhile.

      Then I began to discover that some of my readers were not recorded at all on the counter I installed. I would find that someone would leave a comment and there was no count that showed they had read the post or made a comment. It looks like some of the Word Press bloggers are not sensed for some reason or other.

      I have read about counters. I've read how counters work. I've read explanations of why counters do not come up with the same count. I still don't like it. At least they could be similar or close in their counts. With the technology we have today you would think they could produce counters that would count and be similar with the answers they produce.

      So that's my beef. I just wanted you to know that the counters available do not count in the same way.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Paper Was Late This Morning Wha! Wha! Wha!

        My paper has to be delivered before 6:30 AM. Until recently I've had a handicapped man deliver my paper and he would be out at about 3:00 AM so there wasn't going to be any problem with him. After that he went to his day job. This meant I could take a quick look at my paper before or after breakfast and read it later in the day when I had time.

       Apparently I have new delivery person now and he let me down. I looked for my paper at 7:30 AM and it wasn't there. I phoned the paper and they said it would be delivered. Now usually when that happens you get your paper in less than half an hour. I looked a 8:30 AM and no paper so I phoned again. I looked at 9:30 AM and still no paper so I phoned again. Finally about 10:15 AM I received a paper.

       Now usually I'm an amiable kind of person and don't get too upset by little glitches but today I am quite disturbed. I delivered papers for two years and know how the system is supposed to operate. My expectations were that it would operate in the same way and I would get my paper. So I am crying about my late paper. Now I expect that I will get a lot of sympathy from my kind hearted readers because this is a great tragedy.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Harshness of Fall

        The harshness of fall is about to visit us. Last night there was a forecast for risk of frost. So I covered the stuff I value. I only have tomatoes which are a soft crop which would be easily damaged by a light frost. It didn't freeze last night.

       Many of my fellow gardeners picked their soft produce such as cucumbers, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. They were apparently taking no chances of having these products damaged. I like to take some chances and cover the plants. I don't think I gain anything. At this time of year the plants are basically finished their cycle. They've done all they are supposed to do and they begin to shut down.

      When our tree leaves turn color it indicates the chlorophyl has stopped taking in the sunlight and turning it into energy that the cells use to grow. Many of my garden plants look pretty ragged right now . In fact, they look so ragged I won't even take a picture of them. Here I've taken out all peas and onions. The beans and chard should have been taken out. So I have carrots, beets, turnips and parsnips left. I will leave them a little longer. I will take them out before the ground begins to freeze.

      As gardeners we have had our season  and we can't push it any farther. We have to be satisfied with what we've got.

      So slowly a  stage of fall takes it's normal course and gently prepares us for the next season.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Scythe is Gone

         Earlier this year I did a post  about a scythe I had. I wanted to sell the scythe but wrote about my life time experience with scythes Little did I know that my scythe was pretty rare.

        I had the scythe advertised for several months and had a few enquiries. With my very literal mind I envisioned somebody buying the scythe and cutting grass. Now I should have known that nobody would cut grass with the thing because I've had it for forty years and I didn't cut grass with it. All that time I've never seen anyone else cutting grass with a scythe. It took up space and collected dust in my garage rafters.

        Someone made an enquiry recently about the scythe and today they came and bought it. He only wanted the handle but I sold the whole thing. What's it going to be used for? A piece of art. This fellow creates Gothic art  and he wanted the authentic curved scythe handle. He then said that he could use the blade for another art project.He told me that they were very hard to find. When I stopped to think about it it made sense.  I don't know how long scythe handles have been made with aluminum. It was too difficult to make handles from wood. The wood had to be soaked for some time. Then it was put in a jig and steamed. When it came out you had a curved handle which stayed curved forever but it had taken a tremendous amount of time and effort to make it that way.

       So today I parted with one of my treasures and stupid me finally got it around my head that my scythe would not be used for cutting grass.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Doctor Has Spoken

        A few weeks ago I posted on staying awake all night. The purpose of staying up all night was to get an EEG. If one is very tired things show up better. The staying up all night was fun for half the night but the second half was a real pain. I told you that I was not concerned about this test as I was not too worried that they would find anything that was critical.

        Yesterday was finally the day to visit my neurologist. The test was done over a month ago and read the same day. So my neurologist started by telling me that they didn't find and really bad stuff like cancer. Then she got around to telling me that they found an area of my brain that had faster waves than it should. This could possibly indicate seizures. So the incident I had in June which started this investigation might have been a seizure. The neurologist doesn't know for sure and I don't know. I had juvenile epilepsy and I know that this was not in any way like the seizures I had as a child. So the whole diagnosis was very iffy.

      So what happens with an iffy definition? They err on the side of caution. So I'm given medication for seizure prevention and control. For a kicker my license was suspended until Sept. 19. The incident occurred on June 19 th. If they'd made the diagnosis that day my license would have been suspended for three months which would have been Sept. 19 so in one way I'm lucky. The law is an ass when it comes to TIA's as they think that all people with these conditions completely pass out. Most TIA's people remain conscious and in control.

      So I'm taking medication for a very iffy TIA which happened in 2008 and now I'm taking medication for a very iffy seizure. So my neurologist is erring on the side of caution. These medications will not harm me and if they do prevent harm to others that's a bonus.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wheeee! Ice Skating Started Again Yesterday

       Yesterday was the start of seniors skating for this season. We skate until the end of April with the exception of two or three Tuesdays.

       I have told you before that I participate in skating with a group of seniors. We skate for an hour and then do coffee at the Dairy Queen.

        I've never been a good skater. I had second hand skates when I was a kid and we skated on a nearby slough in the fall and spring. I never played hockey. I skated a bit with my kids when they were growing up but still never became a good skater. I skate well enough to enjoy the activity. I think that participating in something like skating helps with fitness, strength and balance. These are things a senior needs to work at or they just deteriorate.

        Most of our group are excellent skaters. It's quite a thrill to see an 88 year old man skate with strength, confidence and skill. This group seems to be not just enthusiastic skaters , but enthusiastic in life and know how to support their fellow skaters.

        Yesterday was 28 C outside but inside the temperature was about 6 C. It was pleasant to be in the cool arena.

       So when the first Tuesday of September comes a very eager  group of seniors hits the ice for another year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One of Those Songs that Catches You...

       Yesterday morning a tune came on the radio show I was listening to and the tune stuck with me. It was "I Might as Well Catch the Wind" by Donavon. I've heard the song many times over the years but never really listened to the lyrics. Yesterday  somehow or other I caught the lyrics.  It was being sung by Celtic singer and I didn't hear who he was as I wasn't listening to the introduction of the song. The singer had one of those strong rough expressive voices and for once the song really caught me.

      The song tells about a lost love. The person thinks of how much they would like the lost love back but realize that it's impossible and the love is gone forever. So the singer tells us of something wonderful about the lover and then comes back to reality and says that they might as well chase the wind. The imagery is more than a lot of songs as he talks about tears falling as reain drips from leaves. I really enjoyed the song and it made me blue. In fact I think I was a little more than blue. The song stayed in my head all day.

      Today I was still thinking about the song when I realized what I had done yesterday. A friend of mine lost his wife this week and her memorial was held yesterday. So I was thinking how my friend must feel that his wife is gone. Yesterday we heard many wonderful things about her. However, my friend might as well chase the wind as those wonderful things about his wife have been lost.

      So maybe I was listening more carefully yesterday morning as subconsciously I knew what I would be doing in the afternoon.

     So I looked up the song and read the lyrics. It's a song which has been covered by many performers. I think I can remember Bob Dylan doing this one. I will get to the library soon and see if I can find it . So Donavon's song has been around a long time and finally it caught my attention.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How Secure is my House?

        This week a friend who lives across town had his house broken into. They were leaving on a road trip the next day and went downtown in the afternoon for some last minute supplies. They came home about 2:30 PM and entered through the back door. As they went to the front of the house they noticed parts of wood scattered in the entrance. Then that awful feeling of being violated slowly dawned on them as they realized that they had been victims of a break and enter. The police think that when my friends came home they scared the bad guys out of the house.

       So in discussion with my friends I began to think about how safe my house is. About twenty years ago I installed dead bolts on my doors. About ten years ago I installed security lights that would come on if motion was detected. This was in response to some vandalism which had occurred. For ten years my security light has been faithfully coming on mostly in reaction to cars going by or walkers on the sidewalk and the odd jack rabbit.

      This summer during a loud thunderstorm my neighbor woke up just after midnight. He was watching the lightning when he saw a person walking down the side walk and  up my driveway. He ran to another window to get a better angle and saw the kid running away. The security light had come on and scared the  kid so he ran away. So this is the only time I know of when the security light chased the bad guy away.

       My district is fairly quiet as far as crime is concerned. There's the very odd break in.

       Now with my friend's breakin it's time to consider if I need added  protection for security. If I need something more what will it be. My friend is shopping for a security system so I may listen to him and decide to add something else.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

School Starts Again...

          As a retired teacher who spent 37 years in the classroom all things education catch my attention.

          The start of school each year is always a big event. Now looking at the start of school from a different perspective gives me much time for reflection. When I was teaching I concentrated on being organized and prepared for the arrival of students. There was much organization that first day which had to be done. As a result I really didn't get a chance to look at school starting from the students point of view.

        This year my neighbor behind my house is starting middle school. I talked to her a few days ago and couldn't help but notice how excited she was about the upcoming school year. She will be going into grade six at a school for grades six to eight. She is ten going on eleven so they are quite young for this change. So she got me thinking about school starting more than usual because she is going to attend the school I taught in. Her next door neighbor, the same age, is also starting grade six. Both these kids are great neighbors and I am thrilled when I hear them greet me from up the street. They will both do well in their new school.

        Then I have written about two teenagers who are my go to guys when it comes to technical challenges. The guy is starting grade nine in the high school so his Mom has told me that he is suitably excited about starting high school. He has set high levels of achievement for himself and I wish him much success. His sister is in her last year of high school and she is in student leadership and showing the rookie grade nines around.

       This year a friend has decided that his children would walk to the elementary school on their own. Since I live about halfway between his house and the school he has asked if his kids could contact me in case of emergency on the way to school.

       So these neighborhood kids have kept me in touch with the start of school. I wish all of them a very successful year at school.