Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Should Watch What I SAY

     I would never say anything to purposely offend someone. If I found out that I offended someone by one of my comments I would quickly apologize. I have found it's much easier to live this way and to live in myself.

     Now I don't like pumpernickel bread. I find it dry, course and crummy to the point of being very messy when you cut it. I whine about pumpernickel bread every time we have it. However , someone in my house happens to like pumpernickel bread so I will eat it all the while grumbling about it.

    Now this week we had a loaf of pumpernickel bread and of course I whined. This loaf was worse than most. It was really messy and crummy. Many crumbs fell out of the bag and they seem to get on the floor.

    Now a month ago I fell down the stairs. I wasn't hurt but four loaves of bread were squashed and some soup tins very badly crushed. So while I was complaining I was coldly reminded that I fell on this loaf of bread and that I should be thankful as it broke my fall. I shouldn't complain about the crumbs as it was my fault.

    From now on I better watch what I say!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Prime Minister Harper Throws Beads and Trinkets to First Nations

    I heard a news report this week that really irritated me. Prime Minister Harper proposed giving first Nations People who had been in residential schools $3000.00 for further education.

   In Canada we had an educations system for First Nations people that was based on residential schools. Kids were taken from their families and parents against their will. In the residential school the kids were not allowed to speak their own language and were cut off from all social connections with their own people. The students were treated horribly with many beatings and sexual assaults. This produced several generations of people who were without cultural and social experiences. They went back home as severely damaged people and that continued through their lives and that of their children.

    So three thousand dollars thrown at people who have suffered greatly is shameful. Most residential school students are now older. They are no longer in search of further education. What would you get for three thousand dollars when it comes to further education?

   So the three thousand dollars  being offered is equivalent to beads and trinkets. These were tricks to get people to sign treaties. This is what was offered to get first Nations People to sign away their land. Traders also used the same cheap tactics. The government hopes to shut people up rather than help them.

    So I am angered that such a pathetic program is offered to be assistance for people who have suffered so much.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Part Company With a Long Time Friend

     Until yesterday I owned a 1978 Chev Impala. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I owned a 38 year old car. But yesterday I parted with my old friend.

I hid the rust!
    Why did I keep a car for 38 years?  It was not by design. It just happened.

    I had a utility trailer that I used to haul items too large to go in the car. The old car had the hitch and just stuck around for the little job of pulling the trailer.

    Now my old "green machine" had more noble things to  do in the past than just haul an old run down utility  trailer. It was a family car. We went for family trips and holidays. We had a holiday trailer that was used for travel.(made one trip to California) Does anybody remember holiday trailers? They were before truck campers, motor homes and 5th wheels. You pulled them with a station wagon! There were many good times with the green machine. I once picked up my son and three friends from a movie. I thought it was strange that four thirteen year olds all wanted to sit in the back and leave me alone in the front. I might have known. All of a sudden WWF broke out on the back seat. I thought the car was going to be out of control before the wrestling bout ended. I thought the car interior would be trashed. Kids learned to drive in the old car. Just think of how many tons of groceries this old chevy carried over the years.

    However, there comes a time when things have to move on. Yesterday some kid came and bought his first car. I hope it runs well for the short time he will use it.


Friday, January 24, 2014

I've Been Thinking

     Now with a tile like this I'm sure many have come backs which will have come to their minds. Many bloggers make a special post in the New year and comment on their satisfaction with their blog and point to where they would like to go in the future. I'm just getting around to thinking about my blog's future. Okay , then , on with the post.

     When I started my blog in 2008 , I had thought about what I would like to blog about. I listed eight general topics. Now I thought I would see how I was doing. Have I stuck to the topics? I'm afraid that i have strayed from my topics and posted about many other things. Why did I start thinking about my blog? Many of the posts lately seem to be about myself. I was not intending to write so much about myself. I wanted to write about things other than myself. I have covered all the topics but some of them quite rarely .  So I will tape my list of topics beside the computer and see if I can do a little better with my original intentions. So here is my first post.

  What does one say when one starts a blog ? Obviously something must be on my mind . I'm interested in the environment , music,reading, Xcountry skiing , cycling , issues of health and education ... So from time to time I will leave comments on these topics and other related issues . I hope that you find something of value ...informative, interesting or something which you wish to comment on.
     I look forward to coming up with topics and putting them together for others to think about .

    Yes, that was the very first post on Hiawatha House on Aug. 27 , 2008. I made three more posts in 2008

    I must admit that when I started the blog , I had no idea of what a blog really was. I didn't look at other blogs. My learning curve was fairly flat for the first couple of years. Although I worked very hard, it's been fun. The fun part was discovering readers and other blogs.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Some Days You Just Shouldn't Get Out of Bed

    Last night my wife was making dinner and was reheating a pot of gravy on the stove. She heard a loud grinding noise and thought the gravy had overheated. She grabbed the pot and took it off the stove and the noise stopped. She was happy that she had rescued the gravy.

    This morning when I came out to start breakfast, I put my porridge in the micro wave. There was a loud grinding noise! I was standing beside the micro wave so turned it off quickly. Ah ha! It wasn't the gravy! So I thought I'd try the micro wave again. It stopped at 18 secs. I tried it again. 18 secs. So first thing in the morning I find that my micro wave has died. It didn't owe me anything as I had it for 14 years.

    We had an old micro wave downstairs that we had been trying to sell on garage sales. So after breakfast my wife cleaned up the old micro wave. We took the fried micro wave off the shelf and cleaned out a pretty dusty shelf.

You see what I mean by a microwave from another age

    I was nominated to bring up the old clunker of a micro wave. If you are old enough you can remember the microwaves from the 90's were big and heavy. So up the microwave comes to the top step when I tripped and lost my balance and bashed into the door.. No great harm done except for scratch on the door.

   So a few more minutes and we wrestled the old clunker onto the shelf. We review how to use it and away we go! We're in business! 

   Now if I hadn't got up this morning I wouldn't have discovered a broken microwave and ruined half my day setting up my old microwave.

    Anybody else have those kind of days?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Third of Nine Lives Used Up

         I  guess if you live an adventurous life you will meet with some risks. This experience really shocked and sobered me.

         In Northern Quebec I lived on a beautiful bay that was 24 miles deep. There were extremely high tides as it was just off Hudson Strait.

         The Inuit hunted seals and somebody came in everyday with a few seals. In the summer they were able to go out with  a boat and shoot a seal in the water. The seal sticks its head above water to watch you. The seal head is about the size of a saucer so you have to be highly skilled to have success.The nineteen year old Hudson Bay manager wanted to go hunting seals and he talked me into going with him. We had seen Inuit shoot seals and it looked like a good challenge. We borrowed a canoe, motor and rifle. Mistake number one. We didn't know what shape this equipment was in.

         Now mistake number two was to go out by ourselves. We had no experience hunting seals. Any Inuit would have been honored to take us out. I was a prairie boy and had no ocean experience so I depended on this Newfy kid to know what we were doing on the water. I was 25 and he probably thought I had some maturity that would keep us out of trouble.

       Mistake number three was to go out to the strait when the tide was coming in. The tide came in with a current of 10 - 12 mile per hour current. This meant that it would take much longer to get out to the strait as we were going against the current.

       Mistake number four was to go out to the Strait to find seals. There were lots of seals in the bay. We didn't have to go out to the open water.

      We got out to the strait and started looking for seals. There was a four foot swell but that was not a problem. We roared around and saw the odd seal. We shot at the seals but didn't hurt any of them. With the four foot swell your boat was rising and falling four feet. Also the seal was moving up and down on the swell. So you can imagine that it's a very hard shot to get a seal.

     We then saw an area that had lots of seals so we roared over thinking that we would be in luck with this many seals. Remember the four foot swells. All of a sudden, among the seals we suddenly saw huge black things emerge from the water. My buddy screamed rocks and yelled to reverse and get out of there. If we'd gone in among the rocks and crashed down on a rock the canoe would have been kindling. We were a mile from shore. In the icy Arctic water we would have lasted only a few minutes. Fortunately, we had not gone far enough to be in the rocks. So mistake number five was to not watch for rocks even though we were a mile off shore.

    We quickly decided we had enough seal hunting and started for home. We were a couple of sober serious boys for that ride home. Mistake number six was to go home when the tide was going out of the bay so it was a long ride home because we were against the current..

    I really was shaken by this experience as there was no room for error. This one experience I will never forget.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Recommendation: The Germ Code

     The Germ Code by Jason Tetro is a fascinating fast moving account of  germs and how as he says "we can pick our battles carefully and co-exist as best we can." On the book's front cover there is a blurb "How to stop worrying and love the microbes."

     I hadn't thought much about how germs attack our body. I just thought germs enter the body and because they're there they make us sick. Scientists know much more. It's what germs do and how they do it once they gain entry to our body. They take the DNA and find out which parts of the DNA do the damage and which parts of our DNA are attacked and why it works this way. 

     Tetro describes fights with diseases that have caused us more problems than if we'd left them alone. He also discusses the scary topic of antibiotics and how germs change themselves so that antibiotics are no longer effective. He also covers some pretty weird and gross treatments that actually work.

    We often hear of flues such as H1N1, which is around this winter, and their danger of becoming a pandemic. What is a pandemic? He tells us in his book. 

     There are thousands of germs but only a few that are any threat to us. 

    He also  explains  where certain diseases come from and how they originated.

     The science of fighting diseases is much more developed than I ever thought. However, there are simple things we can do to escape infections. Washing hands carefully when you go from place to place is very effective. 

    So if you have any interest whatsoever in disease and how it works, this is the book for you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Night I Spent in a Honey Moon Suite

     Now some of you have already gone on to another post as you say, " I don't wan to hear about this. " Others say , "Well, ya. So what?" Others probably say, " I know what's going to happen.

    This incident has a long beginning.

    When I was teaching in the Arctic, the Superintendent organized a week long in service. We were flown in to a central point and then a larger aircraft was used to take us to our destination. There were 19 or 20 if us. The aircraft was a DC 3, which is a pre WW II airplane. We were scheduled to stop and refuel half way to our destination. They decided to load up with fuel and fly non stop. The fight was nine hours. The reason for omitting the mid way stop was that the back tire on the tail was flat. The seats were canvas and no seat belts. We soon found places more comfortable leaning up against luggage. Many card games were played as we droned on hour after hour. 

     We left at 3:00 PM and arrived at midnight. Obviously we landed successfully as I'm still here.

     So were were taken into the hotel where reservations had been made. Rooms were assigned but the clerk very apologetically said that they were two rooms short and two people would have to occupy the honey moon suite. Well, you guessed who one of the people was who was assigned to the honey moon suite. 

     We received a fair bit of ribbing and a few visits from people to see what a honey moon suite looked like. It was also my first visit to a honey moon suite! Well, the bed was about 8 ft. wide! I would have had to yell to my buddy if I wanted to talk to him! So two guys in a honey moon suite? The bed was so big you didn't know anybody else was in it.

    So my only stay in a honey moon suite and it was with another guy!

    I'm sure others have a similar story. Reservation foul ups make for some strange bed fellows!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Post That Didn't Pan Out

     I live near the Canadian Rockies and this is a great time of the year to ski , snow board, snow shoe, snowmobile and just be out in the mountains. It's also peak avalanche time. We hear about avalanches everyday as highways are blocked or people who are caught and killed in and avalanche.

    I taught outdoor education and took my students on field trips to the Rockies.We had to be very careful about avalanches. Avalanche science has come a long way since I taught. The first thing we would show the kids is the different layers of snow and how there were weak layers that would allow snow over top to start sliding down a slope.  With differences in temperature , wind and snowfall, conditions could change in the snow pack and avalanche risk could rapidly change. We always had a student or two who would protest when we gave an avalanche area a wide berth. They wanted to take a short cut and cross an avalanche field.

You can see barely see snow layers

     So how did my post not pan out. I was going to take a  picture of the snow on my snow table. I knew there were different layers of snow. I thought I could take a sharp shovel and expose the different layers of snow. This is where the plan fell apart. The snow layers did not show prominently  and my photography skill was not going to get me to where I could show the layers. 

     So with all the snow here people have been shoveling snow off the house roofs. So, okay I'll throw that in to my challenged post. Now if you look at the snow on the house you can see distinct layers of snow. By the time I got the pictures of snow on the house I had given up on the idea of showing snow conditions for avalanche hazard.

You get some idea of the amount of snow on my roof.

So the guy who fell down the stairs is on his roof shoveling snow?

    So by now I'm going around in circles and some readers have probably given up on this post. 

    So all I can do is wish myself better luck on my next post.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Couple of Things I Didn't Know

       I am in my 75th year and I've had much experience and some of it has stuck to me. Just recently though I was told a couple of things that really surprised me.  Should I have known these two things a long time ago if they are standard practise like forks on the left side of your plate.

       Did you know that clothes were to be placed on a hanger so that the front of the garment faced left? Now for me I thought that was  bit much. My usual procedure is to find a convenient chair , door knob or door to hang my clothes over. I've even been known to use the floor from time to time!

      Now he other thing I was told recently is that the seam on a pillow case should always point to the foot end of the bed! Now to be honest I didn't know there was a seam in a pillow case! I'm doing pretty good if I get the pillows at the top of the bed. I do make the bed from time to time.

     So tell me , are these two  things common practice? Does everybody know these two things except me? Where does this stuff come from? Some book on etiquette?

Friday, January 10, 2014

More on Nine Lives

     Long before I'd ever heard of hypothermia I had a serious brush with it.

     When I was in the Arctic , a buddy and I decided we would spend some time on the weekend goose hunting. It was late September so the nights could get very cold. The place we chose to hunt was about 90 miles away and of course, we had to travel by boat on the river. We had a tent, sleeping bags, stove and food.

     We woke up the next morning and could hear what we thought was rain on the tent. When we looked out the tent it had snowed. We decided to quickly break camp and head for home. The way home was with the river current., but the wind was against us. When wind blows against a current a placid stream can get rough.

     We traveled hour after hour. It was slow. Our boat was open and we were exposed to the wind. My buddy crouched down in the front of the boat out of the wind.

     When we arrived home I was extremely stiff and had difficulty getting out of the boat. I took a few things up to my apartment but the walk was difficult. My whole body was shaking with shivering. I thought once I got in the warm apartment I would warm up. I couldn't stop shaking. I was really cold. I decided to get in a hot tub. I remember still shivering in the hot bath water. Slowly I warmed up and the shaking stopped.

     When I look back this is one time when I used up one of my nine lives.

      Since I've been involved in outdoor education , I've learned about hypothermia. I now recognize what a dangerous situation I was in.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Let's Standardize a Couple of Things

     I admit that get caught clicking on the wrong computer icons from time to time. I get in a hurry, have fumble fingers or just make a simple old error. So I'll confess to my own mistakes.
      What I find frustrating is that some clicks could be standardized to make things smoother. For example, the customize Google chrome icon on the top right hand corner should be somewhere else because I accidentally click close instead of customize. Then I say some very bad words to my computer. Another gripe I have is that when you sign in to a site and put in your pass word, sometimes the cursor moves automatically and sometimes you have to move it. On Face book you have to move the cursor to pass word. On blogger the cursor moves automatically to pass word. So when I sign into Face book and put my pass word in only to find the cursor wasn't there, I say some very loud bad words.

    There are probably many more of these situations that I trip over and I never notice them. What are some examples of arrangements that bug you?

    Now am I being overly picky? Should I just get over it and never mind? 

    Now I understand that each organization is trying to provide the best arrangement on the screen so that we will pick their site. It's called competition. They can compete all they want. Let them box with each other and they can compete that way. I just want a standardized screen to work with.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Depression Survival

     Comments on my last post prompted me to add more information.

     My Dad was somewhat inconsistent and complex. He was generous to a fault. He worked hard and lived frugally when he had to. He enjoyed life although he had very little.

     When he bought things on auction sales they were for very little money for several reasons. He usually bought something that was old. He was quite happy to live with second hand items that had long since passed their prime. Since most people didn't have money to buy things the prices on auction sales were low.

     So Dad provided for his family by working hard and doing with second hand items.

      Mom and Dad were married in Feb. 1938 and the depression was still a big challenge.  They came back to the farm in April 1938. They had $60.00. That  had to do them until harvest time when they could sell some of their crop. Dad did get some work over the summer. Dad liked chocolate bars and candy. When they went to the village for groceries and mail they bought one chocolate bar and shared it on the way home. I can picture them riding home in their buggy with a shambling old horse pulling them while they enjoyed their chocolate bar. How do I know this? It was recorded in the account book!

    The war came and candy and chocolate bars were no longer available. As soon as some candy became available after the war Dad bought it. He brought a bag of marshmallows home to give his little kids a treat. We'd never seen candy and didn't know what it was. We played with the marshmallows and rolled them on the floor. He was disappointed that we didn't eat the marshmallows and spoiled them so he couldn't eat them.

    So depression life was a struggle but if you were willing to do with very little you could get by and be quite happy..

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tales From an Accounting Book: Who Would Name a Cow Oscar?

      Well, my Dad would name a cow Oscar!

       In the accounting book my Mom and dad used for their farm was a place for inventory. Mom listed the cattle - by name.  So the names of six cows were listed. Small farmers with only a few cows gave the cows names.

      So how come a cow gets named Oscar? That's the story.

      My Dad started his farm in 1935. So most people know that this was in the depths of the depression. At the time many farmers were broke and had to sell and move somewhere else. There weren't big fancy moving vans. They had an auction sale and sold most of their belongings. These auction sales were not highly successful as very few people had any money to buy things.

     This is where my Dad stepped in. Things sold very cheaply on these sales. Dad would buy things on these sales. No two chairs in Dad's house were the same. He bought them on auction  sales for probably ten cents a chair! His dishes and pots and pans where the same. No set of dishes for him. Lots of cups and saucers but none of them matched.

    Now back to the cow. He bought the odd cow on a sale. He would name the cow after the person who had the auction sale. So Oscar was a cow that he bought on Oscar's sale. He also had a Neufy, Lowdy, Strong and Burr...and maybe a few I've forgotten about. 

    He also had a horse called Teddy and  a very ancient model T truck that he got by trading a cow?

    So there's a story I found by looking in Mom and Dad's farm account book. By the way, I don't remember the cow called Oscar.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another Snow Post

     I keep trying to ignore the snow we have been having recently but I can't. Each dump of snow adds another layer to what we already have. We have over 97 cm(39 in) of snow. This is what has been measured at the weather station. 

So the snow stick is on a table 

    I accidentally got myself  connected to Far Side's snow stick. I was only going to use the snow stick idea once but here I am again and the best way to show my snow is with the snow stick!

A nice cornice on the end of the house.

    December 29 we had about 10 cm (4 in)of snow. Again there was lots of vigorous shoveling.

And you remember this old guy. Now he's almost neck deep in snow.

    Now I think I've done more posts on snow than any other topic. My interest isn't snow. It just happens that we have been getting a lot of snow.

Pale afternoon light and shadow.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Celebrating New Year's Day...a Long Time Ago

     When I was a child, in the forties and early fifties, we celebrated New Year's Day with a meal and day similar to  Christmas with out the gifts. The menu was the same.

     We alternated celebrations with Mom's cousin. The big meal took place at noon. The cousins would arrive by horses and sleigh. This was not a fun sleigh ride but was the standard and only transportation at that time.

     We had turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, veggies, cranberry and lots of pickles. There were usually twelve of us and we were all boys with big appetites so there wasn't much left. Delicious pie capped off the meal.

    Now I remember the delicious turkey. It wasn't the super dooper butter ball turkey which is filled full of sugar and other junk to make it taste better. We just had a plain old turkey that lived on the yard all summer where it ate grasshoppers, bugs, blades of grass, weeds and seeds. They were also fed some grain. They were the turkeys that really had flavor. To eat the turkeys sold today almost makes you cry.

    Now the afternoon was spent visiting and playing games. Sometimes the monopoly game went on all afternoon.
     Around 4:00 PM the Dads would go out and do the chores. The cows still had to be milked and fed.

    The evening meal was made from left overs of the noon meal. Much Christmas baking was still available and on the evening menu. After supper, more visiting and games. Sometimes there was singing. To wind all this up, there was cold turkey and ham at midnight with tea and more great Christmas baking. 

     So you see it was a full day of celebration.

    So New Year's Day , when I was a little kid, was an all day celebration.