Thursday, May 30, 2019


     In my last post I had my photo with a large lake trout that I had caught. I've used this photo before to illustrate my northern experience. A lot went on before I caught the big fish.

      The 24 year old kid having a good time.

     I was hired by the Government of Canada to Teach in Canada's North land in 1963. The Canadian government took over the education system in the early 1950's. They ran things in a very regimented government fashion. In fact at that time a large percentage of the employees were vets.

     So I was required to take an oath to officially make me a civil servant. The next step shows more government organization. As teachers we were given only two weeks of vacation time and the other six weeks that schools were out we were given some kind of employment. The whole thing was kind of a joke.

     I looked forward to this experience. I got a position with stores. I learned a few things about how goods are kept track of from time of ordering to usage. I leaned about purchase orders and a few more standard procedures. It was all dull and boring. I had to put the forms together and file them.

    After a few weeks the stores manager got the bright idea to send me out to the settlements (Really small places) and check the freight that came off the barges. I don't know if the manager didn't like me and just wanted to get rid of me but it as another great experience. During my time out no barges arrived so I had no freight to check. Now I did have plenty of time to fish and that's how I got my big fish. The place I fished was Fort Franklin on Great Bear lake. Look it up. It's hard to believe where I was.I went to three different places and missed the barges. I flew thousands of miles and saw much beautiful countryside.

    After I got back to Inuvik I went south for my two weeks holiday.

    Now arrangements could be made so that you didn't have to work. If you took a summer school class you could get out for the regular two months. The next year I did take a summer school class. The year after that they ended the goofy thing of two weeks holiday and we had the regular two months off.

    Now I often wonder what happened to the oath I made to become a civil servant!!!

Monday, May 27, 2019


     I've said  many times that I've lived in the best of times as far as the economy and opportunity for employment is concerned. I was always paid well and had a good choice when it came to finding employment. I applied for one position that I really wanted and didn't get. I wanted to go with CUSO but didn't get accepted.

    Now I was fortunate to be in a large school for most of my time and was given different assignments which made the career interesting.  I was asked to teach industrial Arts once. That would have been way out of my comfort zone. I was also asked to teach music once and that would have been sad. I'm not in the least musical. The guy who offered me that job had not done his homework.

   Now this was teaching! I was on Great Bear Lake and got a chance to do some fishing. This is a 34 pound lake trout. At the time teachers did not get a summer off . We got a two week holiday. However, the pay was very good.

    However, there is one position that I turned down and I have always regretted it. I was very active in the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) . I was familiar with staff officers. 

    A new president took over. She did not like flying in small planes . She was not comfortable in northern situations. She knew that I had much northern experience and was familiar flying in small planes.  She asked me if I would do her appearances in the northern part of Alberta. I turned it down very quickly . It would have meant being away from home for quite a bit of time. It would have meant extra work as I would have to make sub plans and sometimes I would get home very late and have to teach the next day. I also felt that the northern people deserved to have the president visit them. 

     So at the time it was easy to not accept the position. Over the years I've continued the think that it would have been a very interesting position. Bonnie was president for her two year term and then my job would have been over. I have regrets about not taking the job but I know it was the right thing to do.

    So have you had to turn down a very interesting opportunity?

Thursday, May 23, 2019


   Here are a few photos to show that spring is still on the way. We've had two weeks of cool weather...highs of around 10 C (50 F) or less. We also had light frosts many nights. Plants develop very slowly under these conditions. The last two days we've had highs of 20 C (70 F). Things start to move quickly. Very few tree species have leafed out.

The Nanking cherry is almost finished blooming

 The peony has grown about a foot in two days

 The bleeding heart has some early blooms
 These two photos show the same tree almost 2 months apart.

Monday, May 20, 2019


    Many things that you buy today push the fact that they have a help center you can contact if you need any assistance with the product you just purchased. Tech products use this line to promote their products.

    A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my printer wouldn't work. I delayed doing anything about it for a couple of weeks. Then I checked to see if there was anything obvious that I could fix. Then I checked my product information. These two things did not help. I have a small Brother printer which I like.

    After looking for a phone number I ran across a live chat site offering help. I hate live chat when it's email and all conversion has to be typed.

    Well what could I do. It was the only option I had. I had discovered that my computer did not have my printer as an option to choose. So I thought that because I had a good idea what was wrong that it would be easy to fix by using Live Chat. 

   I got on Wed morning with Aya. He had me reprogram my wireless even after I told him that when I checked the connection was termed OK. The next two things I couldn't follow so He got on my computer and put my printer  on the list. He also left updated driver being downloaded. I asked if he was sure that this would work and ,"Oh yes . It'll print." Later in the day I checked the printer and you guessed it! It wouldn't print.

    So Thur I was right back on live chat with Christine. She seemed to know what she was doing but she had me do the same thing over again. Her excuse was that she wanted to check the connection. I did a test page and it printed. So I was really happy! I've got my printer back again I thought!

   Well later in the day I tried to print the document I wanted and you guessed it , it didn't print.

   Well since I thought I knew what was wrong I decided to look around.

   The first thing I bungled in to was choice of printer. My printer was not the choice. There was a drop down menu that I clicked on and voila there was my printer. I clicked on it and went back to the print page. I tried printing the document and hey it printed.

    So I'm not very pleased with the help center. Next time I will risk trying some options before I look for help. Does this sound familiar to anybody?

Friday, May 17, 2019


      This is  long weekend for us. It's   had a few changes along the way. 

    Originally this was a week end to celebrate Queen Victoria's birthday. For a while it was celebrated on the exact date of Queen Victoria's birthday.

    After Queen Victoria died it became the time to celebrate the reigning monarch's birthday. That was a bit of a stretch as monarch's kept changing.  It's still the day to celebrate the present monarch's birthday. However, nothing happens in any way as a celebration of the birthday.

    Now the name has changed unofficially a bit. Many people just call it the May long weekend. In some places it's called a may two four  referencing a case of beer. It's the first long weekend of the season so most people look at it as an opportunity to get out and have fun

   The actual day has been mandated as the Monday before May 25.

   Most people look forward to this weekend as the first camping holiday of the season. Now here's where the water gets muddy. This is still early in the season so in many cases the weather is very poor. I've camped in the snow a few times on this weekend until I gave up trying to camp. 

   It can be awesome weather. The first time the Micro Manager and I camped on this weekend was 1967 and it was awesome weather. However, we were the only people in the campground. We rented a canoe and paddled all day on the lake.

   The present weather is very dull. We're supposed to get some rain and towards the Rocky Mountains it's supposed to snow.

    What am I doing this long week end? Well, of course , I'm staying home! 

    For those Canadians who've gone out camping , have a fun week end.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


     I didn't know what to expect when I opened up the last post to questions. I enjoyed the questions and most could be answered with a reply. However, Tabor from  Room Without Walls had a question that was  a little broader and to do justice to it I thought an extra post would be necessary. Other questions touched on similar ideas.  Tabor's question was "I want to know more about grandma and grandpa. Where they came from, how the got the farm and what their backgrounds were."


    I have to take you back to the late 1700's. Many German people were brought to the Ukraine and Poland to farm. This area needed more food produced and they wanted the resident population to learn better farming methods. Each family was given about 40 acres to farm. This was an attractive offer as land was becoming scarce in Germany.  Russia also offered these people something they were very passionate about. Most of these people were Lutheran and Mennonites. They were promised that they could keep the German language, practice their faith and not have to serve in the army as both groups were pacifists.

     So this sounded like a good set up for everybody.

      However , as time went on things gradually changed. Men had to serve some time in the army. It was more difficult to keep the German language.  Another problem was that since they gave away land at the beginning, later on there was not land for more farmers.

     Gradually things became more intolerable and they began to look for other opportunities. Canada was a great option. They would be given 160 acres of land.

    So many German Lutherans and Mennonites came to western Canada.

    They worked hard and helped each other to get money to travel to Canada. The majority of these people came to Canada about 1900.

    My Grandpa was not a farmer on Poland. He couldn't get any land so he was the night watchman in the village.

   My Great Grandpa brought all seven of his adult children and they set up farming. For many of the first years it was subsistance farming. They grew enough food to feed themselves. Later on they were able to borrow money and buy machinery and build buildings.

  So by the mid 40's Grandma and Grandpa were at an age for retirement. Grandpa was 80!

   I remember Grandpa in our home. We talked a mile a minute. Later on my uncle told me that Grandpa never learned to speak English? Us kids spoke English and Grandpa spoke German and we didn't know the difference.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


    Kids are notorious for not having much detail in their writing. So instead of harping at them I would show them a piece of my writing and ask them what else they would like to know about it. They all had an opportunity to ask something and I could say "Well, that's a good idea " or "Why didn't I think of that?"

     So here's a piece I wrote and what the kids asked. I can't find where I rewrote this so the lesson ended here.

   When my brother Myrven and I were very young, possibly 4 or 5 , we went to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a few days. in the summer.We were both terribly active little boys We were into everything. We ran through all parts of the house. We went through all the buildings in the farmyard.  We went over all the farm machinery and moved all parts that would move. We ran over Grandpa's wood pile and that was really a no no as Grandpa's woodpile was piled very neatly with not one stick of wood out of place.

    Here we are at about the age in the writing.

    Of course, we tended to get very dirty after a day of these activities and were always totally exhausted at night and went to sleep instantly.
      One day we saw Grandpa calling us and he had a rather large new tree branch in his hand. We were both totally terrified as our father would often find a switch from a tree branch to give us a spanking. We also couldn't believe that our extremely nice Grandpa would ever give us a spanking. We slowly walked over to Grandpa. Grandpa wasn't mad. He sat us down and stated to cut up the branches with his knife. Grandpa made two whistles from the tree branch and as you guessed it two little boys were absolutely thrilled with whistles created from a tree branch
     Now I wonder if Grandpa knew what was going through our minds as he called us?

     Grandma and Grandpa a couple of years after we visited them

   Now here are the questions
    Kyle_ liked the ending
    Brock - Where farm?
    Jer - Is Grandpa living?
    Jag_ Tell more on family
    Jas-   Details about making whistle
    Randie- Dirt- lecture
    Jeff- Grandpa's name
    Brett - describe farmyard
    Luke- Animals
    Curtis- How got to the farm?
    Billy - Explain excitement

   So since the kids go t to ask questions , my readers can ask questions. It will be interesting to see the differences.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


    Today I took some time to get some photos of the nuthatches that are working on a cavity.

     If one has patience to sit and wait you'll get some good photos. I'm not very patient.

    You will have to click on these photos for the best image.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


    Four or five posts ago I wrote about chickadees  building a nest in my yard. I described a nest I'd watched before and how the couples changed.

    Well the couples have changed here. Yesterday I noticed a pair of nuthatches working on the nest hole.

    Now I didn't get any photos. You'll just have to believe me. I think this is one topic that will see small updates.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


     When I found this poem I could not remember writing it. It must have been a writing exercise I did with the kids, It looks like I picked a poem and followed it's pattern to make my poem.  I think I had a magazine that had a section called With My foot in my Mouth.

     I did figure out that I was writing about my principal who was a humorous, popular guy.

    Now the poem is pretty dumb. It's a nonsense poem. This is a first draft so it's pretty rough.

    So read it and enjoy. As always the old teacher you can ask questions.

    To you my principal
     It's time to say,
     I like your style
     You work all day

     I hear your jokes
     That always flow,
     About the teachers
     Who are too slow.

     But even though
     Your jokes are dumb,
     You never try 
      A tune to hum.

The poet on a spirit day that had a Hawaiian theme.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


     This being spring time and that means spring cleaning in the Micro Manager's head, I was directed to clean out three old drawers.  She declared the drawers a disaster because of my inefficiency. Some years ago she had organized everything in the drawers into boxes. Now when people put things away for me, those things are lost forever. Put all my money in a special place and I will never ever find it. 

    Well the drawers weren't really that bad. 

    I found quite a few manila tag folders and  I said "Oh ya. I know what's in this." I found quite an extensive family tree that I had made up on my Mom's side of the family. I had completely forgotten that I'd done the family tree. I even had my auntie go through it and add things. I started making the same family tree once I got

   What really caught my eye was a tremendous amount of writing I had done. I did know that the writing was there. What surprised me was how much writing was there.

    I taught Middle School language arts. When I gave the kids any kind of writing assignment , I did the same assignment along with them. Many times I did my writing on the chalk board or overhead. There were literally dozens of pieces of writing. They were on old writing tablets , graph paper and old yellow scratch pads...what ever was handy on my desk for me to pick up.

    Some of the same topics I've used for blog posts, not realizing I had written them before.

   We did more sharing with writing. Kids would pick a buddy and share their writing. Kids would read their piece to the class. Kids would edit and correct what I wrote. 
    We would usually start out by making a list like your uncles. We'd narrow the list down to one uncle that they would write about.

    Other assignments were responses from fiction. For example,  what did this character teach you.

    Some of the writing was done in workshops I attended.

    I even found a poem or two that I had written. Oh yes, I had kids write poetry.

   Well it took me a long time to go through that material. Did I throw much away? Nope!

   So stuff has gone away again. I find it easier to remember stuff if I put it away.

   I think I'll find some of these pieces to share with you.