Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Old One Room country School

      This was the fifth post I made when I started blogging. I was disappointed to find out that no one read it so I'm posting it again. When I read this about my life I find it hard to believe that this is my experience in school. It's long ago and far away.Red

     Where in the world would I come up with a name Hiawatha House for my blog ? Did I see something like this somewhere else? Did I have a streak of creativity . Well, actually none of the above .

     I went to a rural one room school for nine years from the mid forties to the mid fifties . Yes, you can think ahead and guess ... the name of the school ...Hiawatha School District #1720. I, like many others who attended such schools look back with fondness to such schools and therefore honor my old school a bit by naming my blog Hiawatha house .

     I looked forward to going to school as we were somewhat isolated on prairie farms and therefore it was a place to have many playmates and fellow students . We were active on the playground before school began at nine AM. Games were played . Activities from the previous day were continued such as building a snow house or fort .There were chores to be done like putting the horse away for the day, starting a fire in the big stove or getting the day's supply of water . All of these things were done with other kids . It was like a very large family as the enrolment was from nine to seventeen students while I attended .The day proceeded with classes , recesses and noon hours.

      Since there were one to nine or ten grades in a one room school, the teacher had to arrange to have all grades organized so that they were active in the learning process at all times . Much independent work was done by the students . Students helped one another . You couldn't help but hear other lessons or activities going on around you . If you were in grade one you could listen to a grade eight science lesson . By the time you got to grade eight you'd heard the lesson seven times ! Was it boring ? No, it was your turn to be involved in the lesson that you had waited so many years for . Teachers changed and the grade eight science lesson changed . Many activities involved the whole school ...Christmas concerts . All students performed and sometimes the little guys performed with the big guys as a school choir . Think how proud the little guys were to be in something with with the big guys . Our ball teams were made up from usually grade threes to nine. We were immensely proud of these teams when we played other rural schools .

     From grade four to nine I was the only one in the class . I proudly claim that I was top of the class for five years in a row . Besides this I liked working independently . I would do my work fairly quickly , and behave myself so I was not noticed . Why? Then I could read . I loved to read . I would quietly chose a library book from the small book case we had and read . Some of the books I read many times . The school had encyclopedias which I would spend hours thumbing through . I'm sure that most of the time the teacher appreciated me getting lost and not being a nuisance . I'm sure some of the teachers were bright enough to realize that what I was doing was certainly contributing to my progress . I would read and have one ear on what was going on in the classroom ...multi tasking!!

     So the country school was a very pleasant place to spend your time . I have always looked back with pleasure at the time I spent in a rural school . Was it a totally successful learning venue ? Not really . Apologies to those who look on country schools as great learning institutions . There were many positive things which occurred , but many things were absent . We learned the basics , but often not much more . I learned to be a good reader and independent , but didn't learn to be assertive or competitive . As a result when I went to a small high school and later university , I found it difficult to be very active and participate in learning activities . I had not learned to discuss , question or write with any degree of competence .

      However , I do look back with fondness to the time spent in a rural school . We were more than a school ...more a large family with community involvement .

     So here's to you Hiawatha school!

     Hiawatha School closed in June of 1955 with only six students attending in the final year .

     There are many interesting books written about the rural school . One author is John C. Charyk. He has written several interesting accounts of rural schools . Try "The White School House" or "Syrup Pails and Gopher Tails ."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where Are They Now?

      I retired from teaching in 1997. I taught at the same school from 1969-1997. I didn't plan to stay in the same school that long. As it turned out it was an excellent school and the community was very supportive.

     Over that time I had about 4000 students. About 20% of them stayed in the same district and sent their kids to me. It was a treat to teach children of your former students. So I always wonder where my former students have gone and what has happened to them. I certainly wouldn't recognize very many of them on the street and the same would be true for them in recognizing me.

     In this morning's paper I happened to see an advertising feature for a business called Classic Dream Machines. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a familiar name so I looked and found another. So there were Alden and Anders working in this specialized auto shop. This shop would do as little as paint a stripe on your car or completely redo your car to make it some far out set of wheels. 

     Now I had Alden and Anders in Middle School and I didn't each them very much. I had them for language arts and they let me know very definitely that they had very little time for literature,grammar, spelling or writing. They did as little as they possibly could and still get by. Every day Alden would whine, "Why do we have to do this stuff?" They were both smart enough that they could get by with little effort.

     What these two boys spent all their time on was drawing cars. They could both produce beautiful complicated drawings of specially designed cars as far as painting and shape was concerned. They also had a decent understanding of the power train of the cars in their imagination. They were always drawing cars and sharing with each other. They talked to me about the cars all the time. So there were times that I maybe didn't appreciate their cars as much as they thought I should. If I'd been smart enough to find material on cars they would have read and written all kinds of things about cars. Sadly by the time I figured that out I was retired.

     So this morning when I saw the ad I thought how awesome that these two guys are able to make a living from their dreams as kids. They are both able to pursue their passion for cars to make a living. It doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ginger Carrot Soup Sequel

         A few days ago I posted on making ginger carrot soup for the first time. It was a challenge of monumental proportions for me.

         Since I have lots of carrots and I haven't learned the secret of storing them I decided to make another large pot of ginger carrot soup. I really liked the ginger carrot soup I made before and I thought that once I had done this recipe I would have an easier time making the soup. 

      Well, I certainly did have an easier time making the soup. I didn't grate the carrots this time I just sliced them.  I had enough ginger root this time.

      The part that was a mystery to me last time but worked well was my undoing this time. Since I had two measures in the margin for ingredients I got mixed up. I used twice the margarine so the roux did not get to a sandy texture. I used the flour mixture anyway and the soup thickened. I also used a power hand mixer to puree the carrots and that worked well. 

    By the time I finished my monstrous pot of soup, I was so happy that I forgot to add the half cup of cream. It was still good soup. 

    So I will include the recipe for you and you can try it.



5 lbs carrots, peeled and grated
2 medium onions, diced
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh ginger; peeled and sliced across to cut through strings then pureed in  a food processor
4 liters chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of cream
¼ tsp dry basil
½ pound of butter
½ pound flour
Salt and pepper


      In a large soup pot combine the carrots, onions, celery, ginger and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat  and allow to simmer until the vegetables are tender . Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and possibly more ginger.

      In a separate pan melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Allow this to cook over a low heat so that it does not change color but cooks to the consistency of wet sand.

       Using a blender, puree the soup and slowly ad spoonfuls of the roux a bit at a time until it begins to thicken.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jenn Jilks Interviewed on CBC Radio

         One of the blogs I follow is Cottage Country Reflections by Jenn Jilks. This lively, feisty blog deals with a fairly wide variety of topics. Jenn has a passion for health care, nursing care, volunteering, safety, environment and grandchildren. They are not necessarily ranked in this order and I've probably missed a few topics. .

        Jenn researches thoroughly and then pours her heart and soul into the post. Jenn sometimes makes more than one post a day.

       However. yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing her interviewed on CBC radio on  a program called "White Coat Black Art." This program is hosted by Dr. Brian Goldman and he covers all health topics in Canada. It's I program that I try not to miss.

      Yesterday was Jenn's turn to star on the program. Jenn was interviewed regarding the issue of volunteers in health care and their value and challenges. 

      So after following Jenn for a couple of years it was a pleasure to hear her voice and her comments on the value of volunteers in the health system.

     As with her blog , Jenn did a knock out interview. Congratulations Jenn.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Could the Approach of Winter Be Just a Little Kinder?

        Now I know that asking the weather to do something is totally useless. As useless as my dog howling at the moon! As useless as a rain dance! (Although I could get a strenuous argument on this one. )

       I would really like winter to approach a little meeker or a little kinder. 

        It seems that winter has to hit me with a big bang. Winter has to crash upon me and I don't have time to become accustomed to the harsh temperatures. Later in the winter minus 18 for a daytime high will not be noticed. All of a sudden in the last three days our daytime highs have been minus 18 C(minus 5 F), cloudy and a little wind. When you first go out in these conditions it hits you and makes your body hurt. I would prefer to have the days become gradually cooler and then I would automatically adjust to the temperature and be comfortable.

      So to fight the harsh conditions head on I went out yesterday. I walked to the mall (1.625 Km or 1 mile) I found conditions to be quite reasonable. I was comfortable and enjoyed the walk. On the way I saw a high flying flock of geese as well as a very large coyote right on the trail less than 50 m (160 ft) from me. I respect coyotes and won't tempt them . This one hastily went into the bush and disappeared. 

     My walk took me to the local mall where I was volunteering to man the Nature Center's book store. My time at the mall was great fun. Four hours later I had the pleasure of walking home in the same conditions. There was camera in my pocket with the message "batteries too low." I guess the camera batteries didn't like the cold either.

    Now when I really stop and think about winter coming with a bang  the worst part is sitting in the house and watching it! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baba Rocks

       What or who is Baba you say? Baba is a radio host who has an amazing knowledge of music and who has an unorthodox presentation. 

       I do not listen to commercial radio. I listen to CBC and CKUA. CKUA is one of those special stations that is independent and listener supported. By listener supported I mean they have fund raisers and run the radio in that way. CKUA listeners are passionate about their station. 
      Now back to Baba. Baba has a thick east Indian accent that you might hear on a news interview , but here he is on a music program. Baba has an amazing knowledge of music when it comes to performers, writers and all trivia. So when you listen to a Baba show you hear about the singer and musicians. Baba is able to interview many of the musicians that he features. You get an idea of the background. What influences shaped the singer and musicians. When you know more about the music you can appreciate and enjoy the music much more. Baba is very able to cover a wide variety of music.  So you will hear him on folk roots , blues, jazz rock... the whole gamut.

     Listening to Baba read community messages and give the weather is a totally new experience. So here's someone who was not trained in broadcasting and he's out there having fun and providing listeners with a first class music experience. 

     CKUA is on the Internet. All you have to do is Google CKUA and you can enjoy this fine station.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sleep Clinic Challenge

     When I started blogging, this as the fourth post I made. I found out that nobody read this post because I didn't have any readers so I decided to post it again.

    Last Friday night I slept at the sleep clinic . Now sleep clinic is an absolute misnomer as you don't get much shut eye . However , the sleep clinic is the end of my story .

      How did I get to the sleep clinic ? Was it when my daughter slept in the same hotel room and complained the next morning that she had a very poor sleep as one of us snored (my wife of course ) and the other choked . Was it when my children were infants ? Was it stress from my work ?

    Well, let's start from the beginning . I was born in 1939 to a young farm couple who had a very meagre residence ...three rooms ...no insulation or central heating . Eleven and one half months later I had a baby brother and by the time I was two years old I also had a little sister . My poor mother ! But that's another story . This one's on sleep . I can remember the three of us sleeping in one bed which wasn't crowded as we were little . As children we slept soundly even though three little bodies rolled and thrashed around and occasionally fell out of bed .
Later a new house was constructed and we had our own rooms ! Sleep was great . I was young . The house had central heating and was insulated .
I left after high school to attend college and lived in various boarding houses with shared accommodation . I did wake up from time to time with noise from other roomers coming and going . I changed localities very often in my early twenties as I taught and went to university . I spent three years in a very noisy single staff accommodation were there was much coming and going through the night . I remember being awake as I would hear people coming and going in the hallways . Sometimes there were all night parties .

    I lived in a remote northern settlement were my wife was the nurse . She was on call twenty four- seven . Many nights she was required to attend to a sick person . We weren't in the habit of locking the house door until people walked into the house and into the bedroom to get the nurse .

     Children arrived and took my attention . I felt a great responsibility for the welfare of my children while they were infants .Hungry , cold or ill children had to be looked after . Teenage children were another thing . From a young age my son liked movies . He would try to sneak downstairs to watch a movie and would get caught . He said ,"Dad, I never got downstairs to watch a movie . You always caught me ."

      My children left home , but my interrupted sleep became worse . For many years I have set my thermostat so that the furnace does not come on after bedtime as I found a running furnace always awakened me . Through all of my poor sleep patterns I never felt fatigued and was always a morning person . I never needed an alarm clock .
In January of 2006 I began to feel fatigue and found it difficult to rise in the morning . When my daughter made the choking observation , I could immediately think of sleep apnea as I would be waking up with a jump . In 2007 My family physician referred me to a sleep specialist . The sleep specialist ordered a sleep clinic experience .

     So there I was last Friday evening . Now the sleep clinic really wants to see how badly you sleep so they wire you up from head to toe . They will miss nothing . Sensors are attached to your shins and arms . A belt is put around your chest and another around your stomach . A box about twice the size of a mouse is attached to each belt . All these gizmos are firmly attached with liberal amounts of plastic tape . They tell you you can sleep in any position ...just try it!  Then they say ,"Have a good night!"

     As you can well imagine I did not have a very successful sleep . It's not easy sleeping in a strange place with all kinds of material attached to you .
I have not received any results from this ordeal, but I would rather go through the investigation as it is well known , that sleep apnea can lead to many health complications . What happens with sleep apnea is you stop breathing and oxygen levels decrease and your blood pressure rises . The combination can lead to other health problems so I will put up with the discomfort as it may prevent other options which are not positive .

     So , Friday night in a sleep clinic !!! Kind of a bad joke !!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Sad Encounter on Remembrance Day

       On Remembrance day I met my neighbor in the back alley. He asked me if I had been to the remembrance day activities. I told him I hadn't been to the ceremonies. He then got on a rather nasty rant. 

       He stated that anybody who doesn't go to the Remembrance day ceremonies should not be able to take advantage of the day off and should remain at work. We had talked about Hitler and that Hitler had to be stopped because he was a threat to the world. If Hitler had taken over we would have lost all freedoms and would have had to conduct ourselves exactly to Hitler's wishes. I couldn't give any more points to my neighbor as by this time he turned on his heal and left as he does not like nor is he able to defend his views

      Bloggers I follow who  posted on remembrance made  excellent points about remembering the men and women who fought to maintain our freedom. Each post was different. Each post was very significant. I'm sure that each blogger had their own way to remember and I would guess that very few attended a formal ceremony.

     The sad thing that my neighbor had in his head was that all people should be forced to remember the same way. To me that's not what freedom is.  With my neighbor's view, how long would it be before other forms of directed behavior would be prescribed? How long would it be before we would have another madman who would try to take our freedom away? How many people who would be forced to attend remembrance services would actually remember anything? How long would it be before we would lose other freedoms?

     On a Remembrance day I was saddened to hear a rant about losing the freedom to remember in a variety of ways.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembrance Evolves Over a Life Time.

       Remembrance of those who served our country goes back a long time and things change and evolve. On thinking about remembrance I began to think about the various stages that we have gone through.

      I was born a few days after the WWII started. I can remember some things about the war through a young child's eyes. I had uncles who were overseas and my parents told me about them. My Mom was forever sending parcels to her brother and cousins. I was impressed with the many men I saw in uniform. We lived a short distance from a major training airbase and had many planes fly over each day.

      I remember young men coming back home and trying to reestablish their life. Most of them left the district after a few years for better opportunities elsewhere.

      My high school teacher was a navy veteran and some days I felt like he thought we were recruits he was training. He was an excellent teacher and influenced many a kid to do better.

      The first Principal I taught under in 1959 was a veteran. He was an able administrator who cared for his students and staff. Since my teaching career began in 1958 , there were many veterans teaching in the school system. When I was in the Arctic many government people were former service people as they had been given employment by the government. Of course, there were the baby boomers who attended school and most of  their parents had gone through the war.

     Most of these veterans who went through my life contributed immensely to the communities they lived in. There was a job that had to be done in the community and they just went out and did it. For example, many indoor hockey arenas were erected. They had learned this attitude during their wartime experience. They had a job to do and they went out and did it whether it was extremely unpleasant or not. 

      Over these years of my contact with service people I did not hear very much about their war experience except for the hijinks they were involved in. Much of their memories and experiences were kept to themselves or sometimes shared with someone who had gone through the horrors of war with them. 

      My son was in the reserve forces in Canada and that influenced the way I thought about our forces. I attended one remembrance service with him.

      Now many of the armed forces people from WWII have left us. Those who are still here are very elderly.

      So over the years my remembrance of what occurred has changed as things are added to my experience and understanding.

      I now have a friend who went through the war as a Flight Sergeant. He has been very good about telling of his war experiences. He has not shied away from telling of some of the horrors he experienced. The war shaped his life greatly. He had just finished high school and thinking about what to do with his life when the war came along and made that decision for him. He found his life's partner as he was training. They decided to marry after the war. The five years of war caused him to miss the normal experiences of life in a community. When he returned it was a struggle to become established. He worked hard and was successful in business, family and community.

      Today at 89 he still contributes. He leads a senior skating group and is the driving force behind its success. It's still the same . A job has to be done and he just goes out and does it.

      So I am thankful for all the people who went out and did the very nasty job of fighting in WWII. Their sacrifices were many. Many sacrificed their life. We owe our gratitude to the men and women who went out and "did the job."


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Positive Points for Bloggers

      I recently did a post called "I Stand Up For Bloggers." I received comments on the blog, Face Book and on the street. I began thinking more about bloggers and what makes them tick.

      Some blogs have gone on for two to five years or more. Other blogs wither and die. I have started to follow half a dozen interesting blogs only to have them fold up and disappear.

      So what makes bloggers continue to make posts on a regular basis? Probably quite a few things motivate bloggers. These characteristics probably vary in levels of priority from blogger to blogger.

      First, I think you would have to like writing as a way of expressing yourself. One needs to be able to write with a certain degree of ability. After that your purpose in writing is to communicate with others. There is the odd blog which is not open to the public for what ever reasons the writer may have. Most bloggers want contact with others through their writing. The comments allowed by blogging are what gives a blogger some idea as to whether his/her ideas are being appreciated by readers. Comments give a writer much more to react to as I have said at the start of this blog.

      A blogger must have something which they wish to say. It's surprising how interesting people can make a post of their daily activities. Other bloggers have an interest which becomes the theme of their blog. I follow a great blog on weather , another one on birds and a third one on mountain hiking. Many artists have a blog to feature the art they produce. Some bloggers emphasize family activities. Some of my favorite blogs are where photography is well used to tell a good story. There are some extremely talented photographers out there.

      Then you get a blog like mine that jumps all over the place. I cover past experiences, current experiences in my life, music and occasionally wander off into the political field.

     So writing ability which is a basic talent for a blogger although I have seen some highly successful blogs which use the vernacular. What also makes a successful blog is to have some form of ability to make the page attractive. Pictures are extremely important. 

      So some bloggers combine a number of their abilities and churn out highly interesting blogs which are followed by many. So there's a wide combination  of writing style, topics and  photography that produces thousands of very active and successful blogs. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Stand Up For Bloggers

       This afternoon I was listening to Spark on CBC with Nora Young. I was only half listening with my worst ear while I was doing something else.

       The topic was on social media on the net and if it was effective for communication. One of the speakers said that on Face Book he had publicized his birthday and received greetings, Three or four days later he put his birthday on again and received greetings. So he did this half a dozen times and his point was that there wasn't a real communication because people did not catch on that he was repeatedly having a birthday.
    What really caught my attention was when he went on to say that personal bloggers were mostly blogging to themselves! He gave an example of his blog where he had blogged about five years and made about 1500 posts and had 5000 hits and of course half of them were his. He also only got 20 comments and some of them were his.

      Now I realize that some blogs may be pretty dead as very few posts are made. Some blogs may have an extremely narrow topic which few people would be interested in. Blogging requires some work and talent. But I think that bloggers do much more than talk to themselves. Bloggers who consistently post interesting material will be read. Bloggers who work at setting up a blog with proper commenting facilities will receive comments. There are many bloggers out here who are trolling for interesting blogs to follow. Other people on the net like to read blogs. I have friends and relatives who amaze me by following me continuously. One friend lists off my posts every time he goes by me. Thanks Bob.

      I see many very meaningful comments on the blogs I follow. I don't have enough time to read all the comments on blogs I follow. I would like to respond to more comments but I do have more of a life than just my blog.

      I can certainly find lots of blogs to read that keep me busy. I keep looking for more local blogs to follow. I would also like to find some more blogs on education, seniors and music.

     So I think the commentator was off base. He should read some of the great blogs that I follow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Was Baptised This Morning!

       Now to bgin with I wasn't baptised with water, fire or the holy spirit. No, I was totally immersed by Home Farm Girl's smooth manipulation to get me to do something for her that I had never done before.

       I've been baptised before. When we lived in an isolated Arctic community we had to bake our own bread because there was no store there. One Saturday morning she had just started a batch of bread when someone came asking for her service as she was a nurse in the community. So she asked me to continue with the bread making process. Now I had never had any experience with bread other than eating it. She promised me she'd only be a few minutes and she'd be back. I was to stir the dough and add flour. Just keep on doing it until I get back," she said. You can guess what happened next. She was away for quite a while and I was dedicated and kept on doing what I was told. By the time she got back I had mixed an enormous amount of flour into the mixture. She claims it's the best bread she ever made.

     This morning I was immersed in making ginger carrot soup. Home Farm Girl had recently been to a business which was holding a customer appreciation day. One of the many things she liked was ginger carrot soup and she came home with the recipe from the caterer. So this morning she was going to  a presentation at the health unit and she thought the carrot soup just had to be made today. So between her manipulative ways and my gullibility I said yes. So off she went and left me on my own. Now I like cooking and do quite a bit on my own. But this recipe was a way out of my comfort zone. First of all everything was by weight and we don't have a little scale. There were other things that had to be done by chance as the recipe had missed directions.

    So I got what I thought was five pounds of carrots. I had been instructed to do just half the recipe so all measurements had to be halved. Needless to say, I had to puzzle my puzzler and interpret things as I went along. I was to make a roux!  Now I had never heard of a roux in my entire seventy-two years. So you see that I was really immersed and why I refer to it as a baptism. The roux was amazing although a little scary. A roux is a mixture of butter and flour which is used as a thickener for the soup.

     So after two and a half hours of great stress I finally completed the soup just in time for Home Farm Girl to come home and eat it. I was  worried because I had to make numerous adaptations to the recipe. She thought the soup was great and almost as good as what she had from the caterer.

     After I completed this ordeal I said, "This would make a good blog post!" Then I thought. Oops I forgot my camera to show all the steps I went through. Some day I might just think ahead.

     Now this isn't the last time I'm going to be baptised because I'll never catch on to the treachery of Home Farm Girl!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Face to Face with my Face

       Now I look in the mirror once or twice a day to check and see if I'm still here and that no parts have fallen off. Fortunately our features change so slowly that we are fooled into thinking that few changes have taken place and the face we see is the one we always had.

      Every once in a while something happens that brings a striking end to the idea that we still look the same. We can look  at old photographs but even then we still have in our head that tht's what we still look like. We c an meet old class mates and they don't know us.

     In one Innuit community that I lived in for two years I was called "Ehunga." I knew that they called me "Ehunga" and gradually I discovered that it meant "Crooked Mouth." This disturbed me quite a bit because I have always prided myself in being honest. One day I got up enough nerve and asked why I was called "Crooked Mouth." They instantly used their hands to demonstrate that my mouth slanted upward from left to right. Was I relieved! At least I was honest! I also had a major lower  jaw protrusion. These issues were what I was born with.

       When I needed some major dental work they did surgery to repair the jaw issue. There were some complications with the surgery and some nerve damage resulted. I don't have much feeling on the lower left side of my face. Aging has resulted in some more sagging of muscles on the left side. All these years I have been looking in the mirror and have not noticed much change. I guess things my eyes were seeing didn't get to my brain.

      What brings about this major discovery that everybody else is aware of? Well, when I went on Skype the other day I saw myself on video for an hour and a half. I haven't been on video for a while. I was able to watch myself talk, smile and laugh. I was able to see these facial features that aren't always obvious when looking in a mirror. You usually don't talk or smile when you look at yourself in the mirror.

      So I came face to face with myself while watching video. It was interesting, amusing and provocative. I was able to think about how we see. It's the brain that does the seeing. Sometimes our head really influences how we see.

      Now if I had the technical expertise I would show you pictures for examples of what I mean. On the other hand consider yourselves lucky!

     So some people see great beauty in a certain art piece and others consider it downright unappealing.