Tuesday, February 28, 2017


     Four nights ago our microwave went dark. It stopped in the middle of heating our supper. It silently quit and went dark. That was it for a hot supper.

    Now when the microwave quit I realized how dependent I had become on it and how much I used it. It was difficult to be without it.

    So half the supper was cold. The next morning, no hot cereal. No hot morning coffee. My soup for lunch had to  be done on the stove. I can't remember the last time I heated soup on a stove. We kept running to the microwave only to discover again and again that it wasn't there. We suddenly realized how many times a day we used the microwave.

   The microwave was still on warranty so we had to take it back to the store. There was a hassle at the store but finally they agreed to replace the microwave. But , they didn't have  one like mine. they checked other stores. Finally they found the right microwave but it takes a few days to get here.

    Now the last time the microwave died we just went out the next day and bought a new one. Unfortunately, this time we have to do without the microwave.

    Now all this whining has made me look back and wonder how we lived before microwaves. In my Mom's case she spent more than half her life without refrigeration. We didn't cook so much at one time so we didn't have leftovers. Now we make large amounts of food, refrigerate it and then warm it up with the trusty microwave. Want  coffee? Boil the kettle and throw a teaspoon of instant coffee in your cup! Remember instant coffee? It's been 20 years since we had instant coffee. 

    So now on the fourth day without a microwave we are getting used to the routine. We're not going to the microwave only to get a shock when we realize the microwave is gone. I haven't stopped looking over for the time on the microwave clock.

   Maybe Thursday we'll have the new microwave!

Sunday, February 26, 2017


    Did you ever get a problem where you worked for hours trying to set things up but couldn't find a solution.

    That's what happened to me today. I told you about my 150 species count. As usual , I get a good idea but I don't think it through to the end. I knew I wanted to set  up a list that would show all birds spotted, the spotter, location and date.

    Now some people would say that's easy and I'm sure it is. They would say set up one of those little boxy squary things and away you go. I've never learned how to use that handy dandy program.

    So I tried about 4 or 5 things and found out they wouldn't work. Put the list on my word processor and transfer to face book. It doesn't work. I wanted to pin the list to the face book page so that it was obvious and people could see the additions. The face book page is too narrow.

    Finally, during supper, I said I'll bet the blog would work. So I've worked another hour and yes, the blog does work.

    You won't see it on this blog but on Natural Wise.

    So now I feel much more relaxed and when I get all the reported birds typed in I will be happy.

    So go over  to Natural Wise and have a look at the list.

   Do you ever get a problem that is so difficult that your head hurts?

Friday, February 24, 2017


      This year on July 1 is Canada's 150th birthday. There are many events and celebrations planned. Not too much has been advertised yet. Most events will take place July 1. However, other events will take place in the summer season.

      Now I think most readers know that I lead a bird watching group on Saturdays. We don't go out birding in the winter so I have extra time to think about things. Now that could be dangerous.

      I came up with the idea that we look for 150 bird species in our city and surroundings!!! So this is one event that will run most of the year. People will report bird species that they see to an email address. Yours truly will sift through the sightings and make an official list of species sighted. This idea was met with enthusiasm so here we go for a Canada birthday project.

    With this project we will be celebrating Canada's birthday.

    I also hope that this project will get some publicity. The local paper picked up my project proposal to members within 24 hours so that was great publicity. With publicity I hope that birders will get to know other birders. I hope other people just generally get an interest in birding.

    I also hope that the public becomes aware of the importance of natural habitat in the health of bird populations and other wildlife.

    So wish us well in finding 150 species this year and around July 1 you can wish us happy birthday.

     As of today we've found 35 species.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


   Most of you know that I'm a bird person and lead groups of bird watchers.

   Most of you know that I'm not very organized and describe myself as random chaotic. I get many things done. I just keep at it.

    Well I had to learn something new this week.

    I counted the species of birds my bird group saw from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15 , 2016. I was surprised that they had found 45 species. I was impressed.

   So the next innocent thing I thought was that I should report this to our newsletter. This is where things went off the rails.

   I wrote out all the bird names and submitted them to the writer of the newsletter. Now I've known the newsletter writer for a long long time. She's good. She's damn good. She's written six books and I know that it's hard work. We are fortunate to have her write our newsletter.

  Our awesome newsletter writer asked me if I could organize my bird list according to the AOU. Could I use capitals and dashes where required? Now this is asking a lot of somebody who is well ,sloppy. Besides , I'd never heard of AOU. I had a suspicion of what it was . I didn't want to display my ignorance and ask newsletter writer. 

   So I hit the Internet and found out AOU means American Organization of Ornithologists. Cool! Now what are they telling me. The ornithologists have a system of writing bird names that they have agreed to and it's very strict. I had given my list of birds to the newsletter in the order we saw them.

    To reorganize a list is tough. To reorganize to a system you don't know is a challenge. First, I used an old list. Then I found an up to date list . I finally got my list done and sent it off. Well wouldn't you know. In a list, the bird name does not start with a capital unless it's proper noun like "American"!

   What I had was a pattern to follow and none of the other rules.

   Well, I learned how to do a bird list properly. I'll know better next time.

   Since it's Canada's 150th birthday this year, we will try to find 150 species of birds. There are about 260- 170 species in this area so we should be able to get 150 species for Canada's birthday.

     cackling geese...not Canada geese.  Cackling geese look exactly like Canada geese but they are only about 1/4 the weight.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


    Today we lost a Canadian classic: Stuart McLean a beloved Canadian storyteller.

     Stuart had a radio show, the Vinyl Cafe. where he read his own stories about a fictional family of Dave, Morley , Stephany , Sam ,Arthur the dog and a whole neighborhood of various  neighbors. You felt as if you were part of this neighborhood and listened every Sunday for the episode.  Most people could see themselves and many people they knew in his stories.

    The stories usually centered around some inept behavior that brought about mayhem. One of Canada's favorite stories was "Dave Cooks the Turkey." It was read at every Christmas season.

    Stuart also included some unique Canadian music. He loved to find great performers who were not well known. I discovered some interesting music by listening to Vinyl Cafe.

    Stuart also took his show on the road. It was extremely popular. I went to see him when he visited our town.

    Stuart published a number of books with his stories. I have "When We Were Young" and have read several other of his books.

    Stuart has won a number of literary awards and an Order of Canada.

    I will miss Stuart McLean. He sort of glued us together as a Canadian society.

Stuart McLean's The Vinyl Cafe, features music and humor, often regaling stories by McLean about Dave, the owner of a second-hand record store, his wife Morley and their children, Sam and Stephanie.

Monday, February 13, 2017


   The other day Connie from Far Side of Fifty was talking about buying a new car. She had a few "needs". She wants a car that drives itself, avoids accidents, stops at garage sales and antique shops and lets you read and maybe have a snooze. Well, such a car is almost here. It still costs a lot of money.

    Shortly after reading her post I heard an interview on automation and what it may or not do to our economy and society. The possibilities for automation are endless and the technology is here. Money is the main issue for not going automation all the way. It's not just the equipment that costs but changing the whole system of transportation and assembly.

    I like to watch videos of auto assembly plants. The worker controls a device that  grabs a part , lifts it in place so that the worker can use his high speed screwdriver and attach the part. Automation is one of the reasons that made the  rust belt in the U.S. Automation has taken away millions of jobs.

     Writers are not going to be spared the job loss. Today the beginning of a sports story is generated by a computer. The writer fills in the details like the score. Hey, I wonder if this works for college assays?  Just think it would put cheating out of business.  I wonder if this works for blog posts? Blogging would really become easy!

     Several years ago I posted on the same topic. I found machines that would pick oranges. How many pickers would lose their employment?

     What is going to be done with the millions of people who are replaced by automatons? The interviewer didn't have an answer.

     Most of my life I have heard about shorter working hours and more leisure time. It hasn't really happened.  The sad part is that there are many very low end part time jobs with low pay.

     Science may have the automation but does society have a way to live with automation?

     Hard work by my neighbor , Barb , to take down my birch tree. In the forest most work is done by machine and very little is touched by hand except for machine controls.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


    I'll say it again, "I ice skate once a week." Skaters are a very supportive vigorous group. They know how o have fun. On Tues. after skating we have a Valentine's party!

    Some people skate with us for a few years and then disappear. Others like me skate year after year.

    Jerry is one of the solid characters. He skated for a while and then wintered in Australia and Arizona. When he stopped going south for winters, he came back skating. He is one strong beautiful skater. He loves to skate with partners to music. He's very graceful and strong.

   Now Jerry is one of the few people who skate with speed skates. We sometimes ask him why speed skates? He gets a twinkle in his eye. When Jerry was in his twenties he decided to buy a pair of skates. He ended up buying speed skates. We asked him why and he said he didn't know what he was doing.

   Now Jerry is 89 and still using his old skates. He says the skates are about 65 years old! He's had repairs made to the uppers and looks after the leather by keeping it polished. 

   so Jerry is an inspiration for all of us to keep skating. After all how can you let an 89 year show you up?

    Jerry and his friend Howard ready to hit the ice. Notice those old speed skates.


Thursday, February 9, 2017


    From time to time we hear about a "cashless society." It's about not using any form of physical money.

    I heard an interview a few days ago with someone who was advocating for a cashless society.

    He had a few main points and then all kinds of examples.

    Now his first main point is that physical money is incredibly dirty so diseases are spread and it costs money to treat diseases.  His other point was that it is extremely expensive to produce coins and paper money. There is much forgery of paper money which really isn't paper anymore as it's made so that it's hard to counterfeit.

    Now he went on to give all kinds of examples of how cash would be replaced and what would be used. He also gave information about the present day use of cash.

    In the Scandinavian countries only 2% of people use cash. Many businesses have signs that they do not accept cash. So at this time much of the trade is done with credit cards , debit cards, phones, checks or other methods such as bit coin which I don't understand.

    In Canada , we've got rid of the penny and now the talk is to get rid of the nickel and if you get rid of the nickel the quarter isn't much good. So you can see where we're going with this. In Canada only 20% of the people use cash.

   Now some people think that trading electronically is exceedingly traceable and so privacy is an issue. Now we can't look at anything without an ad appearing mysteriously to advertise the product. I'm looking at a trip to Fiji so my computer screen always has an ad for Fiji. Things are very traceable now.

    I think that the cashless society is coming very soon. There are some more technical and electronic issues to solve and then they're ready for no cash.

    What do you think? Would you like a cashless society or do you still want to have the money in your hot little hand?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


     Many North American posts lately are about weather. There's been tons of snow on the west coast and cold in other places.

     That got me thinking about my weather. Yesterday in the afternoon it was minus 16 C (plus 4 F). Wind was 19 kph with gusts to 29 kph. It was dull and cloudy with light flurries. Over the last 4 days we've had about 12 cm (4 in ) of snow. I've been busy shovelling. 

    Now on the west coast there's been lots of snow ...up to a meter (3 ft). They rarely get snow and then not much. This much snow is difficult for them as they are not prepared for it. They don't have snow removal equipment. Their cars aren't equipped for winter and they have many very steep slopes on their roads. This weather is a challenge for west coasters.

    I've been noticing other blog posts which  report weather that doesn't seem threatening. Somebody reported that they had several nights close to freezing. I suppose vegetation in that area would be harmed by frost.

    Other areas toy with a bit of snow. Other areas rarely get snow and when they do they have all kinds of fun making snow men.

    I think  many people would think of my weather as extreme and it is. We have cold warnings for tonight. A cold warning is given when wind chill is below minus 41 (minus 41 F) Yes, that's right they're both the same at that temp. We don't like weather to be this cold. We're prepared for it but that doesn't make it any easier to cope with. We have warm houses. We have appropriate clothing. Our cars are winterized. However, it's still uncomfortable. With the snow we've been having, I've had to shovel four times. It's okay if you keep moving. I don't get cold hands or face.

   So my point is that the weather is relative thing. We get used to what weather we get in our area. Anything warmer than what I have would seem very pleasant. 

   However, I'm like everybody else. I'm looking forward to spring. It's just that I can't be in a hurry for spring yet as it's a long way off. Our snow usually disappears around April 1 depending on how much we have. April is cool with frost almost every night. So you see spring and summer come very slowly here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


     On this day of all days of sports I have to tell you that I don't follow sports. Now I'm not going to rain on your party and tell you sports have no value. I completely understand why people like sports. We need something to hold our interest.

    It's just that I have lost all interest in sports. Maybe it's because I don't watch TV? I detest commercials. Commercials really spoil a game. A good old Canadian boy should really like hockey. I haven't watched hockey for years  and was turned off by a certain buffoon of a commentator, Don Cherry. I used to watch the standings for my beloved Edmonton Oilers. Not anymore.

    I liked , followed and attended Canadian football games. My heart bled for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Sorry. I lost interest in Canadian football. 

   I never did get interested in soccer, tennis or baseball. 

   I did play, baseball and football. Other things I tried to play were volleyball, basketball and badminton. I skate and cycle. I ran until I was 71. I Gave spots a good run.

    So on this day of all days in sports I did not get a ton of nibblies and all kinds of other refreshments. In fact, I forgot about the game until I looked at Twitter and found the underdogs ahead by 21 to 3! I've done what I usually do on Sunday afternoons... a few chores, (somebody has to shovel snow), did some reading, had a nap, coffee with the micro manager which can go on for some time. I had lots to do.

    So for those who love sports, keep at it. I know it's enjoyable but not for me!

    How about you? Are you a sport's fan?

Friday, February 3, 2017


      I have written several times about Walter. Walter was my neighbor, a retired college professor and a character.

      It was always interesting to stop and visit Walter or to go for a walk with him. He never wanted to turn around and go back home.

     Walter was a talker. His interests and knowledge were broad. He was bright and curious. He held nothing against you if you disagreed. He would respectfully listen to your point and go on.

     In my last post on Walter I told how he was removed from the home because his dementia had caused great insecurity for his wife. Walter stayed in the local hospital for a month and then a place was found for him in a senior's facility that took dementia patients.

     I went to visit Walter yesterday and I was appalled at the deterioration I found in him. Walter hasn't known me for a year but he would always tell people that I was a "good guy." He had always described me as a "good guy" and I will always remember that complement.

    I have seen dementia patients but I wasn't prepared for what I saw yesterday. I got there at a bad time as he was to go for supper in 5 minutes. I tried to explain that I would visit for five minutes as he had to go for supper. He replied that he was going to have a sleep. I pointed to the clock. That meant nothing to him. The water was  running in his sink. I pointed it out and he went in and was talking to the guy in the mirror. He had a jigsaw puzzle on a table. He told me not to touch it that it was somebody else's jig saw and he would be mad if I touched it.

    I just wasn't prepared to see somebody like Walter in total chaos. He has no sense of time. His wife told me he cannot read the clock or understand time. The staff came to get him for supper so I thought I walk with him to the dining room. He completely forgot that I was the person who came to visit him.

    What an awful way to end your life!

     I wasn't even a "good guy " yesterday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


      There are two species of waxwings in North America: bohemian and cedar.  Most cedar waxwings spend their summer in Canada and winters in the southern United States. Bohemian waxwings spread out and spend their summers in the boreal forest. Bohemian waxwings winter in south western  Canada where they tend to form large flocks.   Both species of waxwings are very beautiful birds with smooth feathers and small bright yellow or red on wings or tail. You can get quite close to them as they are feeding.

    I've always liked watching the large flock of bohemian waxwings when they spend the winter with us.

   Flocks start appearing in late November and grow larger all winter. Bohemian waxwings like mountain ash berries but actually eat quite a number of different berries.

   The large flocks seem to be joyful as they explode as one and fly around the district.

    Bohemian waxwings have one problem here: the merlin.

    Merlins are a small  falcon and are excellent hunters of birds so they dine on waxwings most days. I see the merlin chase the waxwings many times.

    The other day there was a large flock of waxwings in my neighborhood. They were in a tree in my front yard and of course in many other nearby trees, I got a few photos. Then I looked for another photo. All of a sudden the flock exploded into flight as if they were one. They formed  dense ball and began to climb. All of a sudden I noticed another bird. I thought maybe one waxwing was late to the party. No! It was the merlin. The merlin will get under the flock of waxwings. The waxwings will fly higher to get away from the merlin. All of a sudden a weak or sick bird will fall out of the group. The merlin hones in on the falling bird and like a speeding bullet
 catches it.

    I've seen this many times and it's always fascinating to watch.