Friday, February 28, 2014

My Winter is Still Very Healthy

      I have noticed that a few bloggers are talking about spring. Some places it's warming up and green grass is making an appearance. Others report moderating temperatures. And some bloggers are extremely tired of winter and just plain fed up. You can pick your category.

     We have had a long and brutal winter. Our winter started in early November with heavy snow. (60 cm). December brought more snow 50 cm (36 in) and cold temperatures. We had a beak in January and had a thaw and long mild spell. February has just been one long cold spell with no break in sight. Yes sir, not even a hint of spring here.

     Today we had a daytime temperature of minus 20 C (-7 F)with a northeast wind of 20 kmh. This evening it is minus 26 C ( -15 F) with a wind chill of minus 37C (-23 F) . Our low tonight will be minus 38 C (-24 F)  with a windchill of minus 52 C (- 33 F). High tomorrow will be minus 25.

    The record low for this date is minus 35 C (- 23 F) set in 1962 and the record high was plus 14 C (+9 F) set in 1986. 

    On the positive side the sun rises at 7:23 AM tomorrow and sets at 6:13 PM. We get 10 hours and 50 minutes of sun tomorrow. 

    So winter still has a strong icy grasp on us right now. The seven day forecast doesn't show much relief.

    So we just have to sit tight knowing that spring will definitely come and be most welcome. 

    On the other hand there is something worse than the weather. I spent 6 hours in the mall shopping with my micro manager and that wasn't fun! Also one of my brothers is sitting in Phoenix and laughing his head off!!

   So to the people getting spring enjoy it. I appreciate your photos as it keeps me hopeful about spring.

    Does the weather bother you or do you roll with the punches?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tales From an Account Book

   A few months ago I received a couple of simple account books that my parents used on their small farm. I've found some interesting things about their early life  with a young family. 

   One of the items I found that gave me pause for thought, was an entry for a $100.00 war bond. They had actually bought a War Bond or a Victory Bond! I stopped to think about that for a few minutes. At that time they had very little money. They had to operate a small farm that didn't produce much. They had the responsibility of 4 young children. They had 160 acres of land and rented 160 acres. Not all of the land had been cleared. Where would they ever get a $100.00 to invest in a War Bond? There must have been some dedication and sacrifice to scrape up the money to invest in a bond. I began to see how patriotic they must have been to support the war effort with their small investment.

   At the time they invested in the bond they would have had no savings. Little was produced on their farm and prices for their produce was low. 

    For the rest of their farming days they never had any savings. In fact, to run a farm they were in debt most of the time. Their retirement nest egg came from selling some of their farm. The astounding thing is that they gave most of their land to their sons! 

     For most of their life they had very little but they were happy with the life they lived. They worried some times and were stressed at other times , but overall they were happy.

    So I guess the saying, "You can do a lot with a little" made sense in that case.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Major Omission in my Teaching Career

      In my last post I asked a question about relations. Since I know the people who comment on my blog, I knew I would get all kinds of information and well thought out opinion. You didn't let me down.Thanks!

    With all the great replies I got from answering one little question I began to reflect on my teaching career. I have three previous posts where I reflected on my career. In methods classes we were drilled on questioning technique. The answers I got from you made me think that if the students had asked questions it might have been more effective. Students did not ask many questions and they were not really encouraged to ask questions. As a result kids didn't think that much and just slavishly learned the material, got good marks and then promptly forgot everything.

     Now students should have been encouraged to ask questions and then be guided to do research and find answers. Today teachers set up lessons that have kids do activities and the result of the activities would teach the student a concept. I admire how teachers teach today.

   Now I did have a situation where kids were encouraged to ask questions. I taught health and in the human relationship sections there was the infamous question box where kids could ask an anonymous question. Of course, the question box was some what abused. You can imagine that with gr.8 and 9's they could think of all kinds of questions. They were all answered with a fairly straight face. I think some real learning took place. It made me work harder.

    So the next thing I want to know, I will just ask a question at the end of the post. I've got lots of things I would like to know and find out. Are you ready?

Friday, February 21, 2014

How Far Do We Go Before We're not Related Anymore?

      A few days ago I sold a car. When Bill came to pick the car up he came in and we had tea. Bill had been looking at my car for four or five years. He would drop buy every few months and want to know if I was selling yet. I got to know him a bit. It happens that he came from a little village near my home village and that we knew many of the same people. Bill is a generation younger than I am so it was fun piecing together who we actually knew. 

      When he came in the other night I got out my local history book to check out a few things. Bill played hockey for my village so we found some hockey teams he had played on. I knew some of his neighbors on the farm. I told him that my Dad's cousin's daughter married Walt Ward. Bill said , "They lived right across from our farm." This really interested Bill. Then he told me that Walt's mother was his(Bill's) grandmother's sister! So Bill said., "That makes us relatives!" Have I lost you yet?

     I thought the relative definition was quite a stretch , but it got me thinking about the definition of relatives. Do we go as far as DNA traces? DNA shows family traces accurately. Do we spend much time researching family history and make huge family trees? Our family tree was completed about 25 years ago by the same "cousin's daughter" the Walt married. 975 people were discovered. I was surprised to find out who I was related to. Are relatives only the people we know and people other family members know? Are relatives only the people our grandparents know and tell us about?

    So I'm really wondering about the definition of relative and how far out in family does it go. I think Bill and I made a big stretch to come up with labeling ourselves relatives.

    What do you think? I know some blogs I follow have an intense interest in family history. Is the sky the limit?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Knitting Connections

     I follow at least two blogs where they have discussed knitting. I have refrained from commenting and displaying some magnificent ignorance. 

    I was reminded of my Mom and the knitting she did. One of the few things I have from my  Mom is a knitted sweater. In 1964 Mom gave me a sweater she knitted. For about ten years she always had a sweater she was knitting . Dad liked them and wore out one a year. Other relatives received some of these sweaters. Mom died in 1973 at age 59 so not much  thought had been given to passing things on. So here's a sweater that has significance because it's one of the few things I have from Mom.

Mom knit the same snowflake pattern

These sweaters were very comfortable 

   Mom was a prolific knitter. When we were little , many pairs of mittens were knitted. We had wool mittens under leather mittens and our hands were kept warm. Winter evenings would find Mom knitting. She wasn't a reader and there was no TV. Knitting seemed to be therapeutic. She could talk and knit.

   One other thing that she knit for a while were afghans. She gave each of her grandchildren afghans. Two of them are still in this house.

    I guess Mom gave me more than knitted things. Mom was a first class clutterer. I am a clutter bug. I have piles of stuff wherever I can put a pile. So there I have something else from Mom. Mom had four sons. There are four daughter-in-laws who to this day comment fondly on Mom's cluttered house .

   So I have a network with knitting. Mom gave me things she knitted and also gave me at least one characteristic that I am well known for.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

In the Land of Ice and Snow...

     "the land of ice and snow" is courtesy of Led Zepelin, but it describes precisely the snow situation where I live.

     In the land of the pale blue snow, where it's 99 below
     And polar bears are roaming o'er the plain
     In the shadow of the poles we wander to and fro
     We'll be happy when the ice worms nest again

    This may come from Wilf Carter but it's not clear as to where it comes from. It does make me think about the winter I've put I've experienced. Some bloggers are writing about a soon coming spring. For me I will have to wait a while longer for warm weather. 

     They have recently cleared some of our streets so we have some huge piles of snow. The kids are having fun jumping off these piles.
    My ski trail is under these enormous snow piles. The picture at the end shows the ski trail in a normal winter snow of 2010.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Misty Past of Valentine's Day

       Today is a fun day to celebrate and pass on our greetings to others. We celebrate with cards and lots of chocolate. In some areas gifts are exchanged.

     So where does this tradition come from? It's been a long and winding trail. The original  Saint Valentine comes from the third century and he died on Feb. 14. In the middle ages St. Valentine was associated with courtly love. Complicating things were other St. Valentines and similar names. Over the many years numerous stories emerged around Valentines

     Apparently the Catholic Church does not recognize St. Valentine and does not have any religious celebration related to St. Valentine. ( Now I found some material which would appear to contradict that there is no celebration in the Catholic Church.) Some other churches do have reference to St. Valentine and some observance in their routine. 

    Modern Valentine's traditions began in the 18 th century and have steadily changed. Today Valentine's Day has turned into a very large commercial venture. A fantastic amount of chocolate is sold as well as greeting cards.

    So we've come to a place where the day is marked by fun, enjoyment and numerous wishes for a Happy Valentine's Day. 

     Since I have a brother who has a birthday today, I have a bigger stake in the day. My brother was born in a small country hospital. Very few babies  were born there during a year. A baby born Feb. 14 was a big occasion. The nurses wanted my Mom to name my brother Valentino. Mom didn't follow their suggestion and I imagine my brother is quite happy that she didn't follow their advice.

    So I wish everyone a very Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


      My post yesterday was an apology. I might as well get on a roll and make a confession today. My confession is that I don' read very many comments that are made on other bloggers's posts. From time to time I will look at some comments. Mostly I make my comment and run.

      Now I know that when some one takes the time and effort to make a comment, it would be nice if more people read it and appreciated   it. Comments take a blog to a higher level.   More people reading and  commenting on comments would add even more to a blog.

   I see some blogs where there is some back and forth between commenters. I have responded to comments on others blogs. Why don't I do more? I just don't have time. I follow many blogs. I have to limit how much time I can give to my blog. Don't get me wrong. I like blogging and could spend all day at it. 

    One thing that I have found interesting is to receive oral comments. A number of people who I know and see quite often read my blog. They throw oral comments back and forth. I also tell them to read the comments people make on my posts. Bud reads most of my posts. He makes some very neat comments. His comments are distant so you have to be thinking or it goes over your head and he goes away with a big twinkle in his eye and says to himself, "Aha , the old guy didn't get it." Today at skating, when I was taking my skates off, he went by and said, "I'll see you next Tuesday if you can keep your time straight." He was referring to my mix up on my Beatles post. However, he skillfully slid it by me as I was busy and he almost got out of the room without being caught. I enjoy Bud's comments as well as others who give oral comments.

    So I will try to look at more comments on other blogger's posts as I think there is much value there.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Readers Are Very Forgiving with Comments.

     In my last post I made a major error. It was an error that was crucial to the post.

     I put down that the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show 60 years ago. Now I meant to say 50 years ago.

     Readers had their own neat ways of dealing with my blunder.

     Some just ignored my blunder and made their comment.

    Some made a point of saying 50 years in their comment.

     Some made very oblique comments that were very clever. 

     So my apology for my error. My thanks to you dear readers who dealt with the error in some interesting and understanding ways.

     Do I ever have some awesome followers. Thanks for following my blog and supporting me. You are the best.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Phantom Memory

      Well, most people over sixty will probably remember what happened sixty years ago this evening. It was a television evening that will go down in history. The Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show!

      The Beatles began as a band around 1960. They became very popular in England and by 1964 they were number one around the world. They brought a new sound, look and show.  They were some what controversial as so much of their performance had never been seen before. The hair almost blotted out the music. The Beatles had many critics. They were new and different and people have a problem accepting that.

    I was not a big Beatles fan when they first came on the scene. I was still too wrapped up in Elvis, Buddy Holly, Pat Boone, Paul Anka and many more performers. However, you couldn't help but follow the Beatles. Beatles were everywhere.

    The Ed Sullivan show was a classic and every Sunday night people were glued to their TV. Ed Sullivan booked the Fab four for his show. There was a tremendous amount of media coverage for weeks before the big show. The show was a huge hit and of course media coverage continued. 

    Now others can tell about  Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show better than I can.

    Up until today I always thought that I had seen the Ed Sullivan show with the Beatles. I was sure I had seen it. Today as I looked at the date , Feb. 9, 1964 , I suddenly realized where I was. I was 2400 km (1500 miles) from the nearest TV that got any reception! I don't know why I think I saw the show. Was there a rerun? Do I remember from what I saw in magazines and newspapers?  It was rather surprising to make this discovery

     So I guess I had a phantom memory!

     Note: An apology
     It seems that I have a problem with telling time. I meant to say 50 years rather than 60 years for the time the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. My apologies for this error. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Don't Do Olympics

      I know that some followers will remember that I am not a sports fan. I'm not a spoil sport. You can watch the Winter Olympics and cheer your face off. I won't hold it against you if you really go all out for the Winter Olympics.

     I'm not completely unaware of the Winter Olympics. I will vaguely follow standings. I will know how many medals Canada has. I will cheer for Canada...but only in my head.

    I know that many of my readers share  a similar view of sports as I do. I like this as it assures me that I'm not some antisocial loner. 

    Television in all it's wisdom spoils sport for me. The analyzers go on and on to describe every aspect of what they are showing.. Then, there are endless replays. You get very little time of actually watching a game , race or activity. It becomes very slow. I like something fast paced and lively. If you go to an NHL game today , you have all kinds of down time for the television net work to air commercials.

     There is also an obscene amount of money spent on the Winter Olympics. I think Olympics could and should have less money involved. There is also the huge emphasis on security. Many athletes and spectators have apprehensions about going to the Winter Olympics. I'm not sure that these issues should be such a big part of sport.

    So I will blissfully skip all television coverage of the Winter Olympics.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Pete Seeger: A Long Influential Life

With the death of Pete Seeger last week, I began thinking about my music listening experience and what influences he had on me. 

     Listening to music for me, started when radios became more common and radio formats changed . So as a kid most of what I listened to was country and western. However, I did hear Pete Seeger. I was becoming much more interested in music when folk music became popular in the fifties. I have old reel to reel tapes of the Weavers. I can't play my tapes anymore but I won't throw them away. So folk music grabbed my attention. I was aware of Woody Guthrie ,but didn't hear much of his music. Joan Baez was a biggie.

    Then rock and roll came along and grabbed my attention. I was a teenager when rock came on the scene so I fell heavily for rock and roll. I still like rock and listen to a lot of it.

    Along with these influences I was exposed to classical music and so called popular music. 

    My music listening didn't change much until I retired and had time to explore other genres. I also found a radio station, CKUA, that programmed all types of music along with much information about the music. So I was exposed to jazz  and blues of all kinds and began to listen to these two. This station also has programs that concentrate on very specific types of music. One example would be "Voices in Jazz." One type of music that I enjoy is bel canto which is choral classical. It's very beautiful. So here's a plug for my favorite station which is on the Internet.

    So Pete Seeger was one of the major influences on me. I liked his slant on social justice and how his protest songs influenced society. Pete Seeger was active and influential in the music world until just recently. In 2012 he cut his last record. Pete Seeger was on the music scene long before I was born. His influence will carry on long after I am gone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

I Started Using My Nine Lives Early in Life

     I was raised on a farm along with brothers and a sister. Our playground was the farm yard and the adjoining fields. We were on the go all day playing here and there. There was machinery in the yard that was an invitation for kids to play on and have accidents. Much of the machinery was abandoned and not used. There were numerous outbuildings which provided play activities. Sometimes the chickens were chased. Sometimes the rooster chased us. Every tree in the yard was climbed at some time or other by little kids. Many forts and tree houses were constructed. In the summer gardens were visited and raided.. You get the picture. Life in a farmyard provided many opportunities for playing.

    Now one thing that was abandoned on the yard was an old model T Truck. It was the ancient kind with a canvas top. The frame of the cab was wood and the canvas was attached to the wood. There was a windshield but no side windows. Of course, from time to time we played in this old truck. The relic promoted lots of imagination and play.

    When we were around four or five we were having fun one day. I was inside the truck standing on the seat lifting my sister. My head was sticking up in the canvas making a bump. Many times we took tools from the shop for our play activities. My brother had a heavy hammer from the shop. When he saw the bump in the canvas , he decided to smooth it out. Wham! He hit me square in the head. Of course I howled and the blood pored from a gash on the top of my head. So off I went to the house howling my head off. I think he soon did his howling as he probably go a spanking.

    I was left with a scar and a bald spot. This incident became one of the family stories that was told over and over again with a fair amount of laughter. It was a complete comedy of innocent errors.

    So at age four or five I received a heavy shot to the head which became one of the many nine lives I've lost.

    I'm sure many of you have had incidents from your childhood which innocently turned wrong .