Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

     It's 7:00 PM mountain standard time here.  It's early New Year's Eve. Some people are already in 2016 and some have much more time to go in their New Year's Eve. Some people mark New Year's Eve with great celebration and some, like me, pass it as most other evenings in my life. I've done it both ways. I've partied my face off and as I said I spend very quiet New Year's Eves.

      Some people like to look back on 2015...the year in review. I'm not big on looking back at my own 2015. I don't really think about it. I am a current events junkie so I like to listen to a review of news events for the past year. In fact,I will listen to more than one review. (Ooh somebody just let a fire cracker go!) I like reviews to be separate as politics, sports , music...

     Other people like to look ahead to 2016. What will 2016 bring them. What do they hope for in 2016. Some people are big on making resolutions for 2016. Some resolutions people share  can be very interesting. For myself, I'm not big on resolutions. I have enough trouble remembering my resolution let alone acting on it. I try to fool myself by saying I will make resolutions as the year goes by.

     I admire those people who take a balanced approach and think about the happenings in the old year and look ahead to the New Year. 

     I do look back at one major New Year's Eve event in my life. 49 years ago tonight I had the first date with my wife. It was a blind date and, of course, we went to a large New Year's Eve party!

     Whatever you do to mark the new year I hope you enjoy the evening. I hope you had a great 2015 and I wish you all the best for 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Don't You Just Hate it When...

     Don't you just hate it when you're trying to think of the name of someone or a place name and it just doesn't come out of the memory bank in your brain? It's right on the tip of your tongue but you cannot retrieve the name. You can see the person or place. You can see the setting with all the details but no, the name doesn't come up.

      Two of these frustrating incidents happened to me this week.

      While I was skating, I was talking to my friend Bob who had worked his whole life in the Arctic. we find that we know many of the same people and then the conversation flows to events around these people.

      When I got home, I began to think of a prominent northerner. This guy had been to my house in northern Quebec. He was well known so I knew who he was but had never met him. I couldn't get his name. I knew he was connected to Innuit printmaking and soapstone carving. I thought of other people who were prominent in this field. Yes, he was connected to Eskimo cooperatives. I thought one of my books had his picture. I looked. I found his photo but it didn't include a name. First names came to my mind but they didn't bring any results. Last names? They were people who were active in other related areas. I came up with their names.

      I googled. I found photos but no name. Finally, I found the name and instantly many things bounced back into my head.

     There was a write up about Peter Murdoch on one site. It was an article about him receiving the Order of Canada in late 2014! Wow! Peter had retired in 1997 after being in Northern Canada for fifty years.

    I scrolled down to the next article only to find that it was his obituary. Peter died Dec.15, 2015. 

     So I spent a whole evening puzzling about Peter and finally found the information and it brought back much more.

     A very pleasant lady works part time in the local library. I see her two or three times a year. Everytime I go home and I can't remember her name. Her husband was a highschool teacher. Her daughters went to the school I taught in. All of these things I can see in my mind...her husband, daughters , but I can't bring the name up. I go home and seriously start trying to remember the name. I think the name starts with H??? That doesn't lead anywhere. Then I think of somebody with a similar name and bingo, the name pops into my head.

    So it's a frustrating situation. Why does it happen? In the first example I haven't heard much about Peter for the last 45 years. In the second situation I see the lady several times a year and talk about her kids and new grandchildren . She also know my children.

     So as long as this doesn't get any worse I can live with it. Sooner or later the name does pop into my head.

    How about you? Are some things difficult to retrieve from the old memory bank?


Friday, December 25, 2015

It's Over!

       The last few days have brought many seasonal greetings and preparations for our celebration. All too soon it is behind us.

       We have a quiet day here but it is also enjoyable. We have the full meal with all the trimmings. I forgot to take a photo but there was: turkey, gravy, dressing, potato, sweet potato, corn, cranberry, aspic and pecan pie!
Santa didn't bring me a thermometer as this one shows a couple of degrees too warm, but this shows that it was cold.

We had snow again yesterday

So as far as the weather goes it was very Christmas like with snow and cold.
       Now many people don't get snow for Christmas and they think snow is great for Christmas. Snow definitely sets the mood.

      I hope everybody had a great day as I certaily did.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Bird Count

     You've heard this before. I always do the Christmas bird count. I've done the same area for about 40 years. I've looked back on previous posts and find that the number of years I've counted   varies??? I've missed the odd year when I would be away or sick. Sometimes it was just far too cold. 

      I know what species should be in my area. On any given day I'm happy to see half of them.  There should be 15 to 20 species in my area. Some species like the cross bills only appear when the cone crop is good. We have lots of cross bills this year. Pine siskins only show up when the right food is available.

     So Sunday I had a good day. The temperatures were from minus 15 to minus 5. It was partly cloudy. If it's a good day for me it's also a good day for birds.

     So I saw nine species which is about what I usually see.

     So I had a great day of bird counting.

The pileated woodpecker found me as it flew in to feed beside me. He's easy to photograph as he's large and he stays in one place. I watched him until I got bored and then moved on.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Winter Solstice

       Well, today is a day that many people observe and take comfort in that things will be getting better.

       Having days slowly get shorter and colder is not a very positive experience. Now we can look forward with some positive hope.

      The winter solstice has been marked for a long time as primitive people were aware of what was taking place and could name the date when the day was shortest and the night was longest. 

       Since I spent winters above the Arctic circle, I experienced nights that were six weeks long. that's right. The sun never rose above the horizon for  six weeks. Some people were devastated  by this situation. It didn't bother me at all.

      So where I live the sun rose at 8:43 AM and set at 4:22 PM which gives us 7 hours and 39 minutes of sunshine.

      We have lots of snow cover and have had sub zero C weather for about 4 weeks. 

The old snow stick with 15 cm or 6 in. of snow

That's right I skied today

The creek is well covered with ice and snow

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmases Past

       My friend Willis, who I finished high school with, posted on face book the other day that his tree was decorated and things in the house were fixed up for Christmas. So, Willis was sitting back in his easy chair thinking about friends and "Christmases past".

       So even though we are elderly we still act like high school students and never miss a chance for a friendly dig. My comment on his face book post was "Ya, that's a lot of Christmases!" Like, you're old!!

       Well, I got thinking about Willis's comment. Yes, it's many Christmases. In my case 76 of them. The first ones I don't remember. However, I do remember the Christmases when I was a child and safe in the care of my parents.  They made Christmas interesting with baking, decorations, gifts and very festive meals. We also had community and church festivities. Christmas day was a long day of good food and visiting with neighbors and friends.

       In my late teens I was not tied as closely to family and spent more time in the holidays with friends. Once I left home the time for Christmas with family was shortened. You raced home just in time for Christmas. You missed all the Christmas preparations. Some of the excitement was gone as now you were an adult.

       Then came the first time I was not able to be home for Christmas. I was in the Arctic with many other young single people who were away from family. The 30 of us in the residence, got together and prepared a very festive meal. I'm sure many of us were thinking about home, but we had a very good time.

       Next, a new pattern was formed when I married. Problem! You can't get to both parents for the holidays so what do you do?  A couple of those dilemmas were solved when my wife had to work.

      When you have children of your own you start making your own traditions for the holidays. There's excitement about decorations, gifts, stories, songs and a special meal. Many of the things I did were what I learned from my parents.

       My kids live far away from me and they don't get home for Christmas. They have their own kids to make traditions.

      So , yes, we do have great memories and friends formed around Christmas. As we age the celebration of Christmas changes. Celebrations change with the times. 

     Now matter what, Christmas is a joyful time of the year.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Skaters Christmas

     Each year we have a special lunch at skating and invite retired skaters to attend. We enjoy seeing retired skaters and the retired skater love to visit with each other.

     The recreation dept supplies donuts and we bring potluck goodies. 

     People are excited to see one another . The old skating enthusiasm is still there.

Lots of good eats

Retired lady skaters

Retired male skaters. The guy across the table is 93 and skated until he was 92.

The last of the pair skaters. Jerry is 88.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


         I'm a Canadian.

         I take pride in thinking that I mind my own business. I don't pry into other people's business. Other people can live their own lives as long as they don't interfere with my life.

         But lately something has been bothering me.  Donald Trump.

         I've been watching news coverage of Trump's campaign. The logic Trump uses bothers me as he plays fast and loose with the truth and uses misinformation to back up his ideas. So Trump is an outright racist and is dividing people rather than uniting and proposing policy that would benefit all people.

       Trump seems to find it easy to say that people are rapists, criminals and drug dealers as he did with Mexicans. Of course , he uses this to back up his ridiculous proposal to build a fence between Mexico and the U.S. And what I really like is that the Mexicans would pay for the fence.

      Trump also has erroneous things to say about Muslims to back his proposal to not let Muslims into the country. All the time Trump forgets that many Muslims live in his country.

      Now why I'm really concerned is that his fast and loose logic could influence me. What if Trump decides Canadian water and resources would be nice to have. So he makes the usual charge that Canadians are rapists criminals and drug dealers so this gives him the right to come and take what he wants. And oh ya, he won't let any Canadians enter the U.S. Oops , I guess I won't be able to visit my American daughter anymore!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fresh Snow

      Yesterday it snowed for about ten hours...wet, heavy, dense. snow. The kind of snow that is fresh and energizes me except when it comes to shovelling.

The snow stick got set up a few days ago. Inches are on the left and cms on the right. It shows about 5 1/2 in and 14 cm.

The wet snow stuck to the trees.

Today was very dull, gray and foggy.

Even the small cedars had to accept their load.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Beautiful Skies

      There are sky memes where beautiful cloud and sky photos are posted. There are some very talented photographers out there. 

       What I'm thinking about are the night skies and what we can see and enjoy.

       We've had a week or two of very clear weather. I get up at 7:00 AM and usually take a look out the window. I noticed a very bright object in the southeast sky. It was obviously a planet as it didn't twinkle. finally I used my sky watch app to see what was out there. It turned out to be Venus.  A little higher up and to the right is Mars. I could see these from my window. In line with Venus and Mars is Jupiter, but you have to go outside to see Jupiter because it's further west and maybe is northwest. . 

      So if you have some clear mornings take a look at the sky. These planets rise around 3 or 4 AM. They set sometime in mid afternoon or early evening. You can check for times if you check a chart. You may see Venus again at sunset.

    This week there is a meteor shower that I'm looking forward to. The Gemini's meteor shower will happen this weekend. Look in the eastern sky. The peak will be Dec. 13-14 night. You should see meteors Dec. 12-15. Now most of the activity will be after midnight? If it's clear, I'll be up.

    As for meteors there's one I'll never forget. Half a dozen of us were in the farmyard in the middle of a very bright Sunday afternoon. In the north west sky there was a brilliant  flash and a trail of smoke. All of us were startled. Being very young at the time we did not think of a meteor in the daytime. It was a mystery until later newscasts reported the meteor and the flash was explained.

     By the way , there are many free apps for looking in the night sky. These apps tell you what you're looking at.

     So do you watch night skies?



Sunday, December 6, 2015

Joy of Walking

     Walking is one of those very common things in life that we do without thinking about. We don't notice the importance of walking until it's gone or impaired. 

      Many experts claim that walking is the best activity for many, weight loss, and many more.

     We also don't notice how much of our daily activity includes walking even if it's inside.

     One of my main winter activities is walking. I don't mean a fantastic amount of walking. I try to walk everyday, but weather sometimes limits walking. I have a 2 km route that I follow and I usually walk in the evening. I don't use a pedometer although I have one.

    Over the last couple of years I've had a few brief nagging irritants in my walking. I've also noticed that I've slowed down and my stride is shorter. Balance is sometimes a problem.

    So I was thinking recently that I better do something about these conditions. The  book I recently read on Parkinson's had some basic suggestions on walking. So very simply, we lengthen our stride a little bit and speed up the steps. One simple thing is swinging the arms. The arms help to balance the body as the arm swing is opposite to the leg swing. I found this really works to improve balance. I had noticed before that my right arm didn't swing. This book made me look at other information on walking.

    Good posture is crucial when it comes to walking. So straighten up. Try this . It really works. One site suggested that you should be able to draw a line through the ear , shoulder, hips ,knees and ankles. 

    Don't forget about the good shoes.

    So my suggestion is to look at a good site on walking and then put as much of it as possible into practice. 

   I took my bird group out this afternoon and yes, we walked. However, I don't know how far we walked but we did see many birds. There were hundreds of white winged cross bills. They only show up about once every five years.

    How about you? Do you have a regular routine for walking? What tips do you have?

      The micro Manager has the green backpack. Notice the lady in the black coat has a cane! This was one of the Sunday afternoon bird walks.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nice Appreciation.

     One of our malls puts on a seniors appreciation lunch every December. Today was the day. We arrived around 10:30 AM. Most tables in the food court were full. Seniors started lining up about 11:00 to get their lunch. Lunch was started at 11:30.

     The lunch was catered by Tim Hortons so we had soup, sandwich, juice , cookies and coffee on a sort of all you can eat basis.

     And there was appropriate music. There was as seniors jug band which played Christmas tunes and popular tunes from "a while ago." A young guy played guitar and sang, seasonal tunes and other great tunes like Four Strong Winds. A very popular older country and western entertainer played and sang.

    So it was a good time and with the music you could have hung around most of the afternoon.

    Now when Mr Introvert says he enjoyed it , it had to be good. Mr Introvert would rather be visiting in a small group or out in the bush wandering around. I have been dragged kicking and screaming to this event before but today I honestly enjoyed it. The only downer was that the micro manager didn't get there in time to get her coupon for a free picture with Santa!!!

      Next year I'll make sure I take my camera!

Monday, November 30, 2015

I Can't Believe It!

    Last evening I phoned to a local store that is part of a nation wide chain.  I got  a message and what a shock. The message was that if I wanted the store to return my call there would be a $3.00 service charge!!!. What is going on here?

     The message to me is that this store does not want my business of anybody else's business..

     Now this is happening to a little old guy who grew up in the forties. Our phone cost $10.00 per year! What a change!

    Has anybody else received a message that a return call would cost money?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ya Gotta Let the Dog Out

     A few months ago I was ordered to undergo one of those invasive procedures where they "just have a look inside." They phoned and gave me a 12:30 PM appointment. I tried to tell them that this wasn't an appropriate time. They had little time for me and abruptly told me the doctor was going away and this was my only chance for an appointment. What else could a poor boy do?

     Don't worry. I'm still on my topic.

     Some of you know the drill for this test. Ya gotta empty your whole digestive system of every microscopic particle. The way they do this is start you at 2:00PM the previous day with a marvelous drink. You have to drink two liters in a little more than an hour. After that, the contents of your digestive system make a hasty exit. You don't feel at all well at this time. For supper you can have liquids. You have to get up at 4:00 AM and drink another two liters of the vile stuff in an hour and a half. No more food after that.

     So after this punishment you feel absolutely miserable and you haven't eaten since lunch time the previous day.

     So like a good boy I arrive at the institution at 10:30 AM for preparation of the procedure. This goes tickety - boo and I'm in the bed with all the necessary piping in place. 

    I haven't forgotten about the dog!

    Around 12:15 PM I'm rolled into the "room" and placed on the viewing table and the remainder of the preparations are made. You remember I protested the 12:30 PM appointment. 

    I was ready at exactly 12:30 PM as there was a big clock on the wall I could watch. 

   At 12:30 PM they told me the doctor wasn't there at that time. The told me "The doctor had gone home to let the dog out!"

   They thought and I thought it would only be a few minutes. When did the doctor come back? At exactly 1:00 PM!

    Well we got the job done. So after a miserable procedure in the first place I was finally able to get home by about 2:30  PM for a bit of lunch. And I didn't have coffee for more than 24 hours!

    Well what do you do? By this time I was just happy to have the procedure over with and be out of there.

    It will be a long time before I forget about the doctor who had to let his dog out.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Days of the Long Shadow

     The sun here is low enough in the sky that long shadows are cast. It's also bright enough that we see fairly dark and sharp shadow.

      I went out this morning intending to get snow photo to show the recent snowfall but the shadows got in the way.

      Today was very bright so the snow shows up well and the shadow is emphasized. I might not get many more bright days for a while.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Just Wonderin'

      I have been suffering a blogger problem for some time. I've tried all I know to solve it so now it's your turn.

      My followers widget is acting up. When I click on someone who is following me the screen breaks up and I cannot get to the person's blog. I've renewed the widget and that doesn't help. I've tried blogger and this is the first time they let me down. They didn't email a solution and I couldn't find the answer on their convoluted chat line. Has anybody else had this problem?

     Now here's where it gets murky for me. I'm not sure if the followers widget has anything to do with people being able to follow me??? People have reported that they can not follow me. So what causes that one? I suspect they are related. I also suspect that the solution is simple.

     Any ideas?

Saturday, November 21, 2015


       Most of us know someone who's had Parkinson's or is living with Parkinson's now. My Dad had Parkinson's. After a long slow helpless slide, Dad died in 2008. Nothing was done to treat Dad's Parkinson's. He was just looked after.

      So when I heard an interview about a book on Parkinson's I decided to find it. The interview was with the author , Jon Palfreman, and he caught my attention.

      The book is called Brain Storms : My fight against Parkinson's and the race to unlock the secrets of one of the brain's most mysterious diseases.

    Brian Palfreman worked in journalism and once diagnosed with Parkinson's became preoccupied with discovering all he could about the disease and if he could be treated.

    Parkinson's was discovered in 1817. Going back before 1817 many people of historical significance can be identified as having had Parkinson's.

    So Palfreman goes through the history of the many things that have been done to discover what causes  Parkinson's and the many things that have been done in an effort to treat Parkinson's. Many discoveries have been made that seemed promising and then turned out to be of little value. Each discovery and trial has lead further but not to a conclusion.

   The main area of research now is genetic. The hope is to find a cause and then to be able to treat Parkinson's.

    So on down the line we have drugs, surgery, grafting, exercise and gene therapy.

   "Parkies", as they like to call themselves, are optimistic and hopeful that treatment and prevention will be developed. I hope they're right as many of us will develop Parkinson's.

     I found this book to be a fascinating read.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Artist Returns

      A common saying is that the artist and his art doesn't become famous until after he dies. For some struggling artists , their ship never comes in. However, today's post deals with an artist who is being uncovered but not likely his art.

     My Dad liked to draw and was interested in art in a limited way. Sometime in the late 40's or early 50's when we went to the local beach an artist had set up his easel. He was there to paint and sell pictures as fast as he could. He had a system. He painted basically the same picture over and over.This was a mountain in the center, a lake in front of the mountain and trees on each side of the picture. There were a few variations. Some pictures had a waterfall leaving the lake. Some had a small animal  on a ledge. Some had a canoe on the edge of the lake. .

     Well this guy mesmerized Dad. Dad would have really liked to paint like this guy. The guy was a speed painter. His spruce trees took about two seconds flat to paint. Spruce trees seemed to just grow out of the canvas.

    Well, you can predict that Dad was going to by one of these paintings. I'm sure the painting didn't cost much...maybe $10.00 or less. Dad was very proud of his purchase. He took it home and framed it. He showed it to all people who came to the house.

    Mom? Well, Mom did not like the painting Dad bought. She grumbled about his painting to the end of her days.

   Sunday morning I turned the radio on and they were half way through an interview. I wasn't listening. I did get that they were discussing a documentary. I was waiting for the news. Then I got that the documentary was about a prairie artist and then I heard the name "Flexie". The name Flexie grabbed my attention. Flexie was the guy who painted the picture Dad bought. Check out the link as there's an interesting bio on Flexie.
   So a  documentary of Flexie was made and a show of his art was set up and shown in Regina Sask. I think it's also going to be shown in Calgary Alberta as well.

   So one little old radio interview brought back an interesting family story.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Silent Dreams

     I'm always amazed when I discover something for the first time in my 76 years. I have to ask myself, where have I been that I didn't know this before.

     Well, it's about dreams.

     Dreams have become less frequent the last few years. I can remember times when I would have several dreams in the same night. So I've had experience with dreams.

    Last night I dreamed that I was visiting China. Someone had picked me up in a truck and was taking me to a place to visit. There were no roads. There were only green fields that looked somewhat like AstroTurf. We drove into a pond and I thought here we go, we'll get stuck. No way. We just sailed through the water. 

    I was taken to a dining hall where about 30 people were eating. It seems to me there was only one thing to eat...pickles! People left the dining hall and one woman and two children were left and they were setting the tables for the next meal.

    Through all of this activity there was no sound! No sound for the truck. No sound from the young man driving the truck.
No sound of voices. No sound from the dining hall. 

    So when I awoke this morning and remembered the dream, I started to wonder. Have any of my dreams had sound? Have I been having dreams for my whole life and there's not sound? 

    I guess I'll never know. I will be ready to check on the sound the next dream I have.

    Do your dreams have sound? Do your dreams have color? 

    Sweet dreams!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Junk Book

     Sometimes when I go to the library I don't have time to look for a good book so I  grab a hand full of books and run. I hope that when I get home I will find that I want to read at least one of them.

     So the other day I picked up "I Once Was a Cowboy: Sixty years a Canadian Ranch Hand." First, I checked to see if I'd read it before as once in awhile I'll read one of these for it's historical value. I hadn't read this one and having nothing to read I read the first chapter. The next night I read some more and I was hooked. The guy had an interesting way of telling his stories and was logical and descriptive.

    This turned out to be a biography of a person who lived and worked in the outdoors not because he had to but because he liked the outdoors.

    Art Hagen was born about 1930 and was brought up in northern British Columbia , Canada. The family had 160 acres and were able to have the normal farm stuff like chickens, cows and a garden but no money. Art's Dad had a contract cutting poles for telephone and power lines. 

    Art left school at the end of the eighth grade and started doing add jobs. He worked with his Dad in the bush and worked on ranches. All these jobs were short term. Sometimes Art made the jobs short term himself and quit and moved on to another job. Art discovered rodeo and participated for many years.

    Art was also called to join the army. He was rejected on medical grounds.

   Art was on many cattle round ups and looked after cattle in the winter by hauling hay to them each day. Sometimes he had 500 cows to look after.

    Art had many horse that he liked and looked after some pretty ornery cows. Many of the horses were a story of their own. 

    Art worked with many colorful characters. He seemed to have a good relationship with his bosses and fellow workers.

    Art wrote in the common vernacular. With his grade eight education and rural background grammar was a problem but it made for an interesting way to tell a story. He had many very colorful sayings all through the book. Somebody might fall on their hind legs. 

   So this was one time I chose a book and thought I would never read . I thought it was a junk book with little merit. Art told his stories in an interesting manner and I was hooked into reading the whole book and enjoying it.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Surprise Visitor

      When I came home last Sunday afternoon, there was a rabbit parked in my carport planter. Now this isn't an unusual occurrence. Rabbits seem to think my carport planter is a safe place to hang out.

     As I was unloading the car I got the sense that something was different with the beast in the planter. I had the camera in the car so decided to take some photos. I got closer and closer and the rabbit didn't move. I was now close enough to have a very good look. It was not a jack rabbit. It was a snowshoe hare.

     Now a snowshoe hare being in my yard is a big surprise. Snowshoe hares stay in the bush where there's lots of cover. Snowshoe hares have runs through the underbrush where they are protected and can eat with little disturbance. So with their tendency to stay in the bush I was surprised to see it in my yard. I'm about 800m( 880yds) from natural habitat so it's not as if he just took a little visit to my yard. This guy was out of his territory. This is the third snowshoe hare I've had in my yard over a forty year period.

     Snowshoe hares weigh 1-2 kg (2-4 lbs). They have smaller ears than the jack rabbit with a little black on the edges. They can have three litters a year so they have large fluctuations in population.

     In my opinion the snowshoe hare is a little cuter than the jackrabbit. The jack rabbit has a rather ugly head. these little guys have a rounder cuter face.