Saturday, December 30, 2017


     My son-in-law' mother died this fall. Her illness and deteriorating health was a nightmare. Along with this was an added disaster of finding that business affairs were not looked after or up to date.

    The critical things have been looked after and now the hard work begins to clean out and dispose of a life time of memories contained in a house.

    My son-in-law is an only child so all responsibility is on his shoulders. Going through a house sorting out things can make your head hurt. He had asked his mother to write on photos. Very little was done and you can't look over your Mother's shoulder to see that she does what you ask.

    So I received an email this morning suggesting that I write on my photos and anything else of family significance. My photos have all been written on.

    Now what my son-in-law was actually talking about is family history and how it is passed on or not passed on. He was reacting to his own loss of family history. I could have written the same thing when my father passed away. I wasn't prepared to ask him much as I hadn't been thinking about it. By the time I started asking questions it was too late. He couldn't recall what I wanted to know.

    Now that I'm elderly, what am I doing about passing on family history? Not much! First, I assume that my kids know much more than they do. Second: I think that there are many things that are of no interest to them. Third: I'm busy and so are my kids. Fourth: I'm not encouraging my kids to ask about family history. Fifth: I think I have many more things that I'm interested in.

    So our family history is very poorly passed on to  the next generations. We've had some degree of literacy for hundreds of years. Now we have wall to wall literacy with the Internet and yet we are doing a poor job of passing on family history. But we have also become spread across the globe. My ancestors came from England and the Ukraine at the beginning of the last century. Today we are global and not only spread across the globe but more mobile than ever.

    There are cultures with only oral history and they seem to have stories from hundreds or thousands of year ago. They live together in large extended families and tell the stories. They know what to tell and repeat it many times. 

    So to my son-in-law, I will go to work and label things and try and leave some information about the things I have.

    I have written many things on this blog about my family history. Is anybody going to go through it to get some understanding and picture of the life I've lived? 
   So to my son-in-law, I will go to work and label things and try and leave some information about the things I have.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


    At the risk of being called a grumpy old man, I'm going to comment on phone issues again. 

     I'll start a bit back on my post. In my seniors pension and benefit magazine, there was an article informing us that we had to set up a Members Health Care Account. In the future no mailed statements would be sent out. Well, that does sound a bit Darconian as I'm sure many of the elderly are not on computers or the Internet. I did not have an Internet account with them but I did go immediately to set up and account. I did all the right things. In fact, I did all the right things a couple of times. I kept getting the same response that they were unable to recognize my info. 

     They very kindly gave a phone number if we needed help. So I phoned. I got someone who I could not hear very well and they had an accent that only complicated the situation. At times I didn't know if the person was speaking English. I asked the person if they were on a head set. I asked them to speak much louder, I asked them to speak slower. None of this made any difference. I could understand less than 50% of what was said.

    Finally , I got that she would email a password reset. 

     Fine . I can handle that.. 

    Now for most password resets, by the time you open your email, the message is there. So I did not find a message in my email. I waited. No message. I waited an hour and there was no email. So I looked around and found my email in the "other" section of my email account.

    So for something that should be simple task  I got into an unnecessary runaround. 

   Now I know that my hearing is not the best. When I speak directly to people I can easily get what they say. When I skate, we have music and I can still carry on a conversation. What's with the people on the phones?

   Sometimes I think that some of our phone people have no Idea how they project over the phone. I also think that some of them don't care if they accommodate phone callers.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


      The time leading up to Christmas is always very busy, hectic, and chaotic as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. 

       As a child , at school we were busy preparing for the school Christmas concert. Mother was baking endlessly and we were quality testing what she baked. Huge mail order parcels arrived and we were not allowed to see them opened. Christmas excitement for kids is over the top.

      As a young adult there was always a rush to make it home for Christmas. Remember the Christmas exams in university?

     Marriage and small children brought busy changes to my Christmas celebration again. Being a teacher, finishing school before Christmas was wild. Kids were pumped for Christmas.

    As a family we had shopping, greeting cards, kid's concerts  and sometimes travel to prepare for.

    So when Christmas Eve arrived all the frenetic activity ended.


     No matter what part in my life it was , Christmas eve always turned quiet and peaceful. I always went outdoors Christmas Eve to experience the stillness and quietness. I just breathed some of it in.

     Peace! What a wonderful feeling!

    At this time on earth we need peace more than ever. 

    To all my followers and readers I wish you peace at this time and for 2018.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


       I am always aware of the approach of the winter solstice. Some years I get very anxious and check sunrise and sunset times every day. Other years I know the shortest day is coming and that is all. 

      So today is the shortest day. Things will start to become lighter. Today we had one of those very dull days. We had the lights on for most of the day. There was heavy cloud and snow flurries. We got about 2 cm ( 3/4 inch)of snow. We had a high of minus 6 C ( 24 F). It was a most dismal day. 

     The sun rose at 8:42 AM and set at 4:24 PM which gave us 7 hours and 42 minutes of sunlight except that it was very cloudy.

      A recent morning with pale moon and jet vapor trail.

     What intrigues me is how people throughout history have observed winter solstice. They didn't have accurate measurements to tell when the sun rose and set. Yet winter solstice was very important to them. They didn't always get the exact day of the solstice. 

     The ancients realized that the solstice was an important day and in many cultures a celebration was held. Rural people knew that the days would get longer but knew that there was much more winter to be experienced. They knew that they had to have adequate food supplies for themselves and their animals. 

     Then things get a little complicated when we use different calendars. The day still happens. Only the number changes.

    So do you look forward to winter solstice ? What does winter solstice  mean for you?

Monday, December 18, 2017


    Usually I like most things winter which is snow, ice and low temperatures to minus 30 C ( Minus 22 F) or more.

    However, there is one thing about my winter that I dislike intently and that is rain. Our ground is frozen so when rain hits the ground here in winter it freezes and leaves a treacherous layer of ice. 

   We had such a rain three days ago. We are prepared and equipped to drive on ice. Walking is another issue. We don't have much to take ice off sidewalks so ice stays until snow covers it. If we get enough snow it will pack on the ice and cover the ice.

   I've counted birds in one area here for over 40 years. I could not count on Sunday as the ice made footing too risky and I wasn't going to go out and fall on the ice. 

   The rain we had made the layer of snow we have quite solid in most places. This places stress on many of our native critters that depend on soft snow to survive. For example, mice stay under the snow all winter and make miles of tunnels to get food. Coyotes and foxes dive into the soft snow to catch mice. Deer paw the snow away to reach some plants otherwise they browse on trees and shrubs. 

    So we are prepared for snow , cold and wind but rain makes our winter more challenging and dangerous.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


      I think I've been ignoring some of the nitty gritty of Christmas for too long or maybe I've just gone through the motions and not much stuck with me.

     The local paper had a draw for some merchandise. Now you could put your name in a draw but, you had to answer 16 trivia questions about Christmas. Now the Micro manager started on the answers and by the third question , I heard my name called. Did I know the answer to question 3? Well I didn't know the answer but I offered to look it up on the Internet.

     So much for question 3. I was called for question 5 and about nine others.

     What were the  questions? In "All I want for Christmas" what did Jen and Jo want? What brought Frosty to Life? You get the drift...trivia questions.

     Now I've listened to and sung most these tunes for  70 - 75 years. You'd think I'd know the answers by now.

     I stood and sang some of these songs at the college the night before when the local college had a sounds of the season event with their symphonic winds band and choral group.

    I enjoy attending other Christmas events. We're going to the LDS church to see 300 different Creche sets. Most families bring their creche from home and put it on display in the hall. It's interesting to see such a wide variety. Some are wood or stone or ceramic or cloth or straw...or many other materials.

    So I began to wonder the depth of my experience is with Christmas. How much ownership do I have in the Christmas festivities?
    I think I'm going to up my Christmas game so that the next test that comes around, I will pass.
Nicholas, Santa Claus, Christmas

Sunday, December 10, 2017


    The last few days the dullness and short days of December have become very noticeable.  It can be clear but it's dull with long shadows. The sun is low in the sky so looking south the sun shines directly in your eyes.

    We are fortunate that we are in the middle of a long mild spell ( Highs 6 C ( 44 F)( Lows minus 5 C( 22 F) )or this could be a very cold time with little sunlight. The sun rose this morning at 8:35 and set this afternoon at 4:22 so we get about seven hours and 47 minutes of sunlight.

     This was taken about 9:30 AM so the sun is still low on the horizon.

      Sometimes when you look at a photo you see something different than when you were shooting. So I noticed the grayness and brown vegetation and dark trees.  I caught the old abandoned water tower peaking through the trees. It is about 2 km from me.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


     One of our major malls puts on a free lunch for seniors each year. Now this is one of the Micro Manager favorite events. Not so much for me.

     The micro manager likes to get to the mall shortly after 9:30 AM for lunch! Why? At that time the Micro Manager can line up for a free bag full of trash. (I'm not very nice am I?) The gift bag for the Micro manager is a big deal. You get the bag and lots of stuff inside. Well, let see. There's a coupon to get your picture taken with Santa. She can't wait to run over and get the picture taken. What else afghan, calendar, box of Kleenex, some other coupons and  candy and chocolates.

    Then there's the lunch. You line up with 300 seniors and slowly move through the line to get your soup, sandwiches, juice, coffee  and cookies. The lunch is a good deal. To be honest, I didn't line up. The Micro Manager went through with two plates. I held the table down as I had to make sure somebody didn't take off with the goody bag. 

    What did I do when the Micro manager was having so much fun? I read the paper, did the puzzles and played games on the ipad!

   I don't like malls much. Or crowds much when I don't know anybody. I like crowds if I know the people.

    Oh yes, the Micro manager had a little shopping to do. 

   So this was my stressful day.

   I know I'll get a lot of sympathy for this whine!

Sunday, December 3, 2017


      From my previous posts you may get the idea that squirrels aren't too popular with me.

     So the squirrel that is my topic is the American red squirrel. It's smallish but about twice as big as a chipmunk. They're very territorial so if they set up in your yard there's lots of action by he squirrel to keep other red squirrels out of it's territory. sometimes they chatter at me and I think they're trying to tell me to get lost. They are supposed to eat seeds but they eat a very wide variety of materials...mushrooms, berries, mice, eggs and much more. They are very active and extremely quick in there motions.

    They are favorites of many people as they are incredibly cute. However , they can be nasty so keep your distance. They can be destructive and  chew holes in your house.

     Now red squirrels have a liking for sunflower seeds. Red squirrels have hit the jack pot when they find a bird feeder with sunflower seeds. They take over. The feeder is theirs. They are crafty and pesky. They also consume many seeds.

     Now for me there's something wrong with squirrels eating my bird seed. I'm stubborn enough to try and chase the squirrels away.

     So I had a plan. I would get a small hinge and attach it near the feeder. I attached a fish line to the hinge so that the hinge could be pulled up and down and make a noise. Now I know some of you are saying, "I tried that."

    Well the squirrel soon came along and I pulled he line. The squirrel left at twice the speed of lightning. I didn't see it for a few weeks. However, all good things come to an end and the squirrel came back and when I pulled the hinge it took off. Gradually the squirrel visits became more frequent and then the cheeky beggar would come back after a few minutes. So my creation worked for a while and then gradually lost it's effect.

    Now the squirrel really knew how to rub things in. It would stand on the fence at the back door and look in that door. The squirrel had found out that the door opens and then the hinge moves. The cheeky little beggar was watching for me. Talk about smart.

   I'm going to have to up my game if I want to beat this squirrel.

Friday, December 1, 2017


     Now every time we go to the physician, sooner or later he/she pulls out the requisition pad and orders a half dozen or more tests. There are many handy dandy tests that can show that we are all right and have nothing wrong with us. For my annual check up . I get at least a dozen tests. Then the doc cheerfully says, "If there's anything wrong I'll phone you." Then you never get a phone call and are left wondering if everything was okay or if he just forgot to phone. Except not with my doctor. My doctor phones at least half the time and sometimes it's to confirm that something is okay so I know if he says I'll phone if there's a problem, I know he'll phone.

      Now the other day I visited my Doc to get my end of life form formalized. After we finished the form, he looked at me and said, "You know we should change medication Y when you're taking medicine X. That really amazed me.

     It also got me thinking about the medications we take. I take 4 medications. Three of them may give me better life quality in the future. One I need to take to function at the present time. I know that many seniors take many more medications than 4. I know that some physicians play fast and loose with interactions which may occur . Some drug interactions can possibly be very harmful or even fatal.

    So here's my suggestion for a test. We should have a test for the drug interactions that occur between the various drugs that have been prescribed. The test would detect all the new sludge left in our body from the various interactions. I'm sure that the drug interactions produce some very interesting new substances. Maybe some of the new substances may be useful? I doubt it. Maybe some of the harm done to our bodies could be detected and prescriptions stopped.

    I'm sure that a small part of the requisition pad could be used for a spot to tick off a test to detect crap produced by the interaction of medications!

     Just think how much better off we would be!