Sunday, June 28, 2015

City Hall Park

    I think most city halls are placed in a  well planned park. I would think most people are as proud of their park as I am of our city park. Usually the city hall is in the downtown so parks and in this case it's a garden are very attractive.

    My last post covered the Mayor's Garden Party which was held in City Hall Park. Now I didn't  attend the Garden party. I used my time to take some photos of the park. I also ran onto many people I knew so I had some good visits. Now that I think about it, I should have got some people photos. 

    Our city hall Park make excellent use of shapes, colors and sizes. 

The park is a great combination of trees, shrubs flower beds  , grass and walks.

This was a weird one. I thought I'd take a shot and see what I'd get. When I looked in the view finder there appeared to be words written with the flowers but I could only see it in the camera. This is a small part but the whole thing  says stop and smell the flowers.  I wonder if very many people see this when they visit the park.

Figures emphasized with colors

lots of grassy areas.

The center is a  circle surrounded by flowers and shrubs.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Mayor's Garden Party

     Every summer our little city, Red Deer , has a Mayor's Garden Party. The Garden party was probably started 25 years ago and has been a popular event. It's meant to celebrate seniors. At one time there were many seniors around who had been the movers and shakers to build the city so it was fitting to celebrate seniors.

     The garden party has great sweet treats, lemonade, coffee and tea. It's themed to the 1890's so the servers, council, Mayor and staff are in period costumes. There's usually great entertainment. It's a fun afternoon.

    The Mayor's Garden Party is one of the Micro Manager's favorite events. She loves all about this event. 25 years ago it was a great event as she would go with her buddies. Now she doesn't have anybody to go with. Many our age have passed on or are no longer active. Some I just don't recognize anymore. I had to twist her arm to attend. I don't do social events of this type so I'm no support. 

    So when I met the Micro Manager after the event she was excited. She'd enjoyed the afternoon , found one of her friends and won a book.

    Now I spent time taking a few photos. I met many people I knew and was conscripted on the spot to take some photos.

And I did meet the Mayor who's the one with the red hat and shoes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Little Old Lady in a Trans AM

          I was downtown early this morning when it was fairly quiet. I was approaching a street that I had to cross. On my right I noticed a rather dusty beat up old Trans AM. A closer look revealed the driver to be female.

         I waited for the light to change. The Trans AM was going to make a left turn. Well, you keep your eye on any car when you're crossing the street and somebody is turning left. I took a good look at the driver in the Trans AM to see if she was aware that I was crossing the street.   Not only was the driver female , but she was elderly, very elderly. A wool hat was pulled over great locks of white hair. This driver was alert and aware of everything around her...even an elderly pedestrian crossing the street. After I had crossed, she made her left turn smartly and proceeded with confidence down the block. She looked like she knew how to drive the Trans AM and had driven it for a long time.

        So I speculate. Was this lady driving her grand son's Trans AM?  Did this lady need a car in a hurry and just picked up a Trans AM?  Was this lady a rebel and chose a hot car? How many speeding tickets has she had? Had this lady bought her own Trans AM many years ago and had just continued driving it until they both became old? 

       What ever the situation, the two images were opposite to what you would expect. 

       So do you take a second look when the two images don't match? 

My 1978 Chevy roadster just before I sold it !!!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Day Is It?

     Today is ;
         (a) Father's Day
         (b) Summer solstice
         (c) National aboriginal day
         (d) International yoga day
         (e) all of the above

    I woke up thinking about two things: Father's Day and Summer solstice. 

    Father's day things happened first. Sometime in the morning the Micro Manager wished me a happy Father's day. She'd taken me out for lunch on Friday. Later I got a phone call from my daughter and son in law. I think about my Dad most days so today there were a few more thoughts. Dad was a big influence in my life. As we grew older the influences changed but the influences were always there and they are still with me today.. 

    Now summer solstice is always a big day for me. It's a prominent marker in the year.  I did not get any special photos this year but I have some from a couple of years ago  when I was allowed to  stay out after 10:00 PM. The sun rose today at 5:14 AM and sets at 21:59. It's a beautiful evening and it will not get dark until around 2300. 

This is about 21:45

My back yard at 2200

This is as good as it gets with a point and shoot

    In Canada, it's also National Aboriginal Day. Since I did a post on the aboriginal issue a few days ago , it's a suitable day to recognize.

     Now I know nothing about yoga but I thought out of all things recognized today that this would be suitable. It will impress my 84 year old friend who is nuts about yoga.

   Now if you look up anything about special days you will find more than you ever wanted to know. So I can go along with the celebration of special days. I do keep things to my own country.

   I hope that you were able to do justice to the marking of Father's day and that you celebrated summer solstice.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Truth and Reconciliation Commision

      The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) gave its report to the Canadian government last week.

       What's the Truth and Reconciliation Commission you say? Well, it is a commission that was to discover the facts about the sad education system our government ran for aboriginal people
in Canada.

      More than 100 years ago an education system was established for first nations people. The government gave a pittance for funding and farmed the work out to churches. The system took aboriginal kids away from their families and put them  in residences. The goal of this system was to take their language and culture away from the kids so that they would become good little white kids! They took much more than that away from the first nations people. Kids did not grow up in a family and as a result did not get the family experience and became ostracised from their relatives. There were many very cruel teachers and residential supervisors who destroyed these kids forever. Physical and sexual abuse was common.

     So the TRC was set up to find out as much information as possible and then hopefully set about trying to right the wrongs of the system. Thousands of people told their stories. 

     I was a teacher who spent five years teaching  Inuit and first nation's children. For three years a very large residential facility was  with the school. The churches ran the residences and the government ran the school.

    I went north as a young teacher looking for adventure and bigger money. I was given in service about what I was supposed to do. Yes , we  were to teach English. Yes, we were to discourage kids from speaking their own language. Yes , we were to encourage kids to join another culture and leave theirs behind. I did what I was told and didn't question the administration. 

    It wasn't until years later when I was talking to a pilot who picked the kids up in their settlements and brought them into the residence that I realized the horrors that took place. He told about kids being taken from their parents and how awful it was for both. 

     Now the teaching experience was excellent and my contact with aboriginal people changed my life forever. 

    One year I taught in a temporary classroom between the school and residence. Many days when I left the classroom the little boys were playing around my portable. I received cheerful greetings that  I will never forget. They always called me Mr McKline. I observed their play. They would play dog team. I'm sure I had as much fun watching them as they had playing. Sometimes I went to the residence. Several times I went in the dormitories after the kids were in bed. I'll never forget the sight 40 little boys in one room on cots. There was some light left on for the supervisors. Most kids were asleep but there was always somebody who was awake. There was much moaning and groaning.

     I've thought many times of how these six year old boys were a thousand miles away from home and how horrible it was for them, their parents and their community.

    Now back to the TRC. Our government almost completely ignored the report. The next step is to right the wrong. It won't happen unless the government participates. 

    I'm one of the pessimistic people on this topic. I think the government will throw some beads and trinkets at the situation and leave it to continue causing damage and heartache to the aboriginal people of Canada.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Storm Clouds

       I like big old cumulus clouds...the ones we call thunder heads. I like the billows. I like to watch them as they are active in rising. You can watch the moisture rise and form ever new heights to the cloud.  You can just imagine the powerful updrafts that carry the moist air aloft. I like to see them lit by the late afternoon or evening sun and you see the brilliant white and then you stop and think that the bottom of the cloud is very dark.

      I know that sometimes these thunder cells can be 10000 to 20000 feet thick. They are massive. I've flown over or by them sometimes when I was able to have a good look.

      This afternoon we had some thunder cells develop. They weren't the giants . They were alright ...good enough to try some photos. However, I was not able to get in the photo what I saw with my eye. More learning for me. I think my camera focused on the trees and the houses close to me.


     All the time I was watching these clouds, behind me were  dark clouds rolling in. So 40 minutes after taking these photos we had violent wind and rain for about 45 minutes.

     Now I'm thinking about the thunder cells in the photos. Did they develop enough to bring rain and wind to some area? What's the story of their life. Where did they die?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

We Meet Again

     A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting a girl I hadn't seen for at least twenty years.

      Jan lived four houses around the corner from me. Her parents still live there.

      Jan was a nice kid. She was quiet, polite friendly and many other positive qualities. I live on a corner and sometimes Jan walked by. She always stopped for a visit if I was in the yard. It was always a conversation that moved from topic to topic. I threw a few things out to keep things going or challenge to promote a reply. I usually found out what was going on in her family , the neighborhood or school. 

      Sometimes Jan was happy and sometimes she was sad and down in the dumps. I'll never forget one time when she came by and she was not very happy. In fact, I thought she was going to cry. It soon came out what was wrong. She was upset with her mother. Nothing out of the ordinary. Lots of kids get upset with their mothers. But it further came out that she had used the f...word and she'd caught it from her Mom. Later she admitted that she deserved what she got. I'd like to think she went away a little better than when she came. She'd had a chance to make a confession and admit that she'd got herself into trouble. I thought that it was a good thing for Jan to be able  take ownership instead of blaming somebody else for her problems. In cases like this I did not stand in judgement. She knew she could safely confess. 

     Jan's Dad had a monster garage sale a few weeks ago. I dropped in for a quick visit with Don. We joked back and forth about the stuff he had for sale. He thought I should buy the tap shoes! After a minute ,out of the corner of my eye I noticed somebody sitting on a stool quietly having lunch. It was a welcome site. It was Jan. Then we had a half hour visit. There was a lot she wanted to know. She's still the same person but with a set of twins and a single and one streak of gray hair!  She made a remark about my retirement so I took the opportunity to get in a good dig that she was closer to retirement than she thought. She's 42 and has had a long nursing career. 

     Now something that she didn't know was that when I was delivering papers one day, I went to her Dad's house and I heard a little voice say,"Grandpa, the paper boy is here!" I told Jan that those were words I wouldn't forget.

     It's always a pleasure for me to meet former students or former anybody.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015


      Most if not all people know the feeling of embarrassment. We can be caught at something or do something that brings about discomfort. We may tense up, sweat or feel tension for what has been done.

      Even though I'm pretty thick skinned I have experienced embarrassment. I can make a very dumb mistake. I can say something that can be misinterpreted. I can misinterpret something and my response is to be embarrassed.

     I think some people suffer embarrassment much more than others. I find that if I'm quick enough to catch on to an embarrassing situation the easier it is to survive. I can admit or acknowledge that I've done something embarrassing. As a guy, my fly is sometimes left down. If I happen to be lucky and somebody reminds me a quick comment of oops and thanks for the reminder gets me by. If I discover the situation myself, then I wonder how many stares I have missed and suffer embarrassment alone.

     This week my partner embarrassed me. My partner asked me to pick up a book for her from the library. She's been reading James Herriot books lately and asked me to find one she hadn't read. She met me at the library and I had one book picked out but she had read it. There were a couple more on the list that we looked for and couldn't find. I asked and was informed that they were in the children's section.

     Well, my partner just had to go to the children's section as she thought maybe she would find something suitable. We found one book and then asked where the other two were located. We were informed that they were picture books but the librarian insisted that we look at them. She insisted that she liked picture books and that my partner would enjoy the book. Well, guess what? My partner decided to take the kid's book!

    So I said  ,"How am I going to check this thing out? People will think that the old guy has regressed into his second childhood." So for this I can be humorous and joke about it. I suppose I could say that it's to read to a grandchild.

   Now I've know the librarian who talked to us for a long time. My daughter had a job at the library during high school and worked for Laural. I was on the library board and Laural was an excellent children's librarian.

    Now Laurel is also an accomplished writer of children's books. She writes picture books.

    So you see that there is a connection to the event that took place. It was not embarrassing but a lot of good fun.

Monday, June 8, 2015

You Be the Judge

     I like the new library system where I can search for books right from home. I like to be able to reserve books from my computer. I like to be able to renew books from home. I like to be able to download books and read them on the pad. 

      So I like to  have control of my business with the library. 

      I have a lifetime library card which I was given after I had served six years on the library board.

     In general I'm a big library user. I've always been a library user. I read a wide variety of genres. I'm not reading much fiction now which bothers me. I tend to find an author or a series and read most of the books. Lately, I haven't found the author or series. 

     I like to be able to see the books I have signed out and when they are due to be returned. I can get a book from any library in Alberta.

     Okay, so far you have nothing to make a judgement on. 

     Yesterday I had two books that were due. Neither one of them had been renewed so I should have been  able to renew them. Well, one of the books came up that I could not renew it as there was a hold on it. In other words someone wanted the book.  Now if I didn't get it back there were library fines. Not an issue for 25 cents a day. 

     The issue is that I was blindsided by having the demand to return the book when I thought I could finish reading it. What if I'd taken my book to Toronto and decided to renew it on WiFi? I would be stuck paying a fine when I thought I would be able to keep the book. I very rarely have to pay a library fine as I like to follow the rules and get books back so someone else can read them.

     It's the principle of the issue that bother me.

     So here's my question. Should the library be able to demand that you return a book you are reading before it is due because somebody else wants it?

The major portion of the library is to the left. I wanted to get the entrance. The red brick part was built as an armory and then used as a fire hall. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Don't Pop My Balloon

Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?
Would you like to glide in my beautiful balloon?
                                             Jimmy L. Webb

     This morning right after breakfast I looked out and there was a balloon floating by! I'd seen the same balloon a few days ago and it was right over my house. This time it was a little further away.

     One of the things in my bucket list is to go on a balloon ride. This might just be the trigger to get me going.

     Then I thought about all the sayings about balloons. There are sayings for many occasions and moods. And then there are songs. My head feels like a balloon!

     Then I looked at the photos I got of the balloon. When I started looking over the photos the balloon was gone so I couldn't try making different shots. Obviously I have to include something in the shot that is a reference point. It was fun to work with the zoom on this one. I'm a little wiggly when it comes to handling a zoom.

       Sometimes you get the unexpected in a shot. I saw something on the right of the balloon. When I blew it up I noticed it was a sea gull!

    What's your favorite balloon saying or song?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Visit With the Owls

      I belong to the Red Deer River Naturalists (RDRN) which is a group dedicated to all things about natural history in the Red Deer river basin.

     We have just completed a project to produce a birding trail map for Central Alberta. It was a huge project but well worth the money and effort. We learned much from the experience. We had done a birding trail map for the city of Red Deer a couple of years earlier. 

     The next step in the process is to set up a website that allows you to copy one particular section of the map such as Dry Island Buffalo Jump .

    Last Sunday was the day we chose to show our new map off to the press and get some local publicity. 

    We had an afternoon session where the public could come and visit the owls and see the new maps and take one if they were interested. In the evening we had a speaker who is an expert on owls and falcons. He's a government biologist who worked on the project to bring the peregrine falcon back after the DDT tragedy. His experience is out in the field.

     Now the three owls and male peregrine falcon were on display for the evening session. People were able to touch the birds. All of these birds have been injured and are not candidates to be released into the wild.  Otis, the great horned Owl, is blind. Otis has been around visiting people and making presentations long enough that he has written a couple of kids books.

Otis, great horned owl

barred owl

male peregrine falcon



Monday, June 1, 2015

Lilac Time

     Flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak here in Alberta. Early wild flowers are also in bloom. I found 10 species yesterday while I was doing the spring bird count. I had binoculars and no hands to look after the camera.

     In my sparse yard,  the lilac is the leader of the pack. My lilac has a very deep purple and is popular with my neighbors who like to get a bouquet. One time a neighbor decorated a wedding with my lilacs.

    Now I learned a few thing about photography and light. I hope it sticks with me. So light conditions were bright but poor for taking pictures.

I couldn't get this one in focus as there was too much light somewhere else.