Sunday, August 30, 2020


I've started birding with my regular Saturday morning again. It feelds great to get out. This saturday we went to a desserted farm that has been taken over by the city. A project on urbn agriculture is taking place there. A creek runs through the propety butthere was a cattle operation on the location and much of the land damaged. they are trying to restore the creek by plabnting trees . However, I birded arounf the farm stead. The area is being used to let people rent plots to greo gardens. There is a 600 meter lane to enter the property. One side of the lane has natural habitat and the other a thick old shelterbelt. I thought I would see many birds in the lane but I was skunked . A pair of red tail hawks and Swainson's hawks kept screaming at me so no birds broke their cover.

Friday, August 28, 2020


     I was a small child in the 40's and grew up in the 50's. These are dates you have to remember. I think only one of my follower was running around before me.

     I grew upon the prairies of Western Canada. In one of my last posts I told you that I was born at Esk, Saskatchewan Canada. Because of the wide open spaces the main part of the education system was the one room country school. School areas were set up so that kids rarely had more than 3 miles to go to school. Transportation was mostly walking and sometimes by horse. I was lucky. Our farm was one mile away from the school.

     However , education does not only consist of formal classroom activities. We learn many things when we are away from school. A young prairie boy could find many things around him that taught him things.

    So here goes for my education before entering  a formal education system. I was fortunate enough to have a younger brother who was less than  year younger than me. That seemed to accelerate the learning. 

    We lived on a small farm that was still suffering from the effects of the depression. As a result there was quite a selection of very old machinery. So as little boys we clambered over every piece of machinery in the yard. We tried every lever on every machine. We climbed everything we could climb trees, haystacks, straw stacks wood piles, barn structure and tried to climb many of the old wooden telephone poles.

    One activity was to whack everything we could with a hammer and see what sound it made and how strong it was. One time we whacked a spark plug on an engine and were greatly dismayed when the spark plug broke. We knew we were in trouble but we didn't tell Dad preferring to wait as long as possible for the punishment. 

     There were many other children in the other area to play with. Kids learn from each other.

     Our house was small so most of the time were played outside. We wandered through fields and brushy and treed areas. I remember seeing a yellow warbler for the first time as I was crawling on my hands and knees through the willows. There were many birds in the yard and nearby area,

     There were many animals on the farm. 

    Mom read  to us almost every night. The four of us would get in bed to listen to Mom read. I remember the Thornton Burgess books. She read them over and over. There was also a religious set of books called the Sugar Creek Gang. 

     Each day started with reading a portion from the bible and prayer. In the winter this ritual was added after supper (the evening meal).

     And then of course there was Sunday school. We listened to bible stories and memorized numerous bible passages. I memorized the 23rd Psalm and probably 23 more Psalms. I don't think I memorized the one with 119 verses. Now in Sunday School we were told that some activities were sin. Since something was sin like smoking we had to try it as soon as possible.

     As a  preschool kid there were many useful and interesting things to learn . Next I'll try school bust I will continue to learn things out of the school setting.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020


     I walk every evening. A few days ago as I was leaving for my walk I noticed some interesting cloud formation and light. I thought should I go back the house for my camera? Well, I didn't.

     However , when I got back after my walk there were still some interesting things in the sky.

    So here's an August evening.


Sunday, August 23, 2020


       I went bird watching with a group for the first time in 2020. As you know I lead a local birdwatching group here. I make up a schedule and publicize the activity. I made up a schedule in May and found somebody to lead in the field. There was no one to lead in the field yesterday so I went out.

      It was a real treat to get out. I didn't know that I missed it so much.

      I took photos of the area we visited. My camera isn't good enough for birds.  We saw 25 species yesterday in 2 hours.

     So here's where we found the birds.

Thursday, August 20, 2020


      Some of your comments on drones reminded me of a poor and boring video made of my home village. For every good drone video there are many that are extremely poor.

      I was born at Esk, Saskatchewan, Canada. To be more precise I was born about 3 miles southwest of Esk on the farm. From about ages birth to ten. Esk was our village where we got mail and the few groceries we needed. We also sold our farm produce there. At the highest point of Esk's existence there were about 15 houses and 50 people. Many years ago Esk faded into history and became a ghost town.

     Someone decided to use his drone and make a video of Esk. I was interested in the video but I'm sure very few people are interested in the video. 

     You can go to the site on youtube but I doubt that few people will watch it,

    The two large farmyards shown were once on the edge of the village. As the village became abandoned , the land was rezoned and taken by the farmers. My grandparents retired to this village.


Monday, August 17, 2020


      The other evening when I was on my walk I had an encounter with a drone.

      I'm always interested in model airplanes and now drones although I don't have one and have only see one drone in action.

     The other night I noticed this little fellow off to my right about 50 m away and 15 to 20 m up. It was coming in my direction. It dropped elevation and came closer and closer. In fact, it was less than 5 m away. I was talking to two friends

     Now this encounter was spooky.  There was no noise. I felt as if someone was looking at me. I felt like talking to the creature.

    It was going to go between us when suddenly it veered up and away. Then I heard someone say, "Sorry about that " and I noticed two people on the school yard. 

    I'm sure this was the first time flying for this guy. He was learning and experimenting. 

    Now I know there are rules about where you can fly drones. This guy was a way off being legal. 

     Many people have fun with their drones and I can see why. They just have to learn the rules before they go out.

     My friend Tony got a drone for Christmas. He went out to try it and lost it. They looked for days to find his drone. A few weeks later someone came to the door with a drone and asked if this was his. Yes, it was and he had his Christmas present back.

Friday, August 14, 2020


       I like listening to music. I'm not musical. I can't sing. I don't play an instrument. But I like listening to a wide variety of music. 

      So everybody knows that I spend time on You tube and sometimes find some interesting things to listen to.

     Somehow I hit a spot on Austrian folk music. There's also a little Swiss thrown in the mix. There are hundreds of videos with folk music.

    It appears that most of these folks are amateur. It also appears that the bands are made in a haphazard way when friends get together to play. So whatever instruments the friends have, that's what the band is made up of. Almost all have an accordion or two. After that all bets are off. There's a variety of brass . Throw in a few saxophones and clarinets. There are instruments that I've never seen. Many bands have a guitar. Harps! Yes harps. The very odd violin. So you see that there are a wide variety of bands and thus sound. 

       I am familiar with the piano accordion and have heard of the button accordion. I had no idea there were  many types of accordions. You rarely see a piano accordion. There are very small accordions but they can make lots of music.

And most of all singing. Singing with energy and joy. Now all the singing is in German. I don't understand German but it's still fun to listen the the singing. 

     then there are the colorful costumes. The men have short pants with huge suspenders. the women have long dresses . Sometime the hair is done in a country or old style. 

     So take a look at some of these bands .

     Go to Youtube and look for Austrian folk music. 

Monday, August 10, 2020


     As a society , are we going to learn anything by going through the covid pandemic? Will our behavior change in anyway? Will we make a permanent change in something that will influence society in other areas? 

     There is much happening because of covid. We've had to learn about sanitizing . We've had to learn about protection. We've had to be concerned about safety. We've had to learn about responsibility to others. Some of these things have to become a habit. I found the sanitizing a hard habit to learn. I've got it now. Are businesses going to keep sanitizing materials at the entrances as they do now? 

     Will any of these things stick with us once covid is over? 

     Then we have the anti mask people and anti vaxxers. These ideas are mixed up with ideas of freedom and not doing what the government proposes for the good of all of us. Will these people learn anything by going through covid. I think an opportunity has been lost because of political philosophy which supports such lunacy. 

    However, I will not be getting the first vaccines that come out. I think they need a much longer time to be proven safe. I have always got a flu shot since I retired.

     Much has been learned in science by having to study this disease on how to treat it, prevent it, and find antibodies that we can use. I think the scientific developments will pay off  for a long time  in the future. 

   So what I'm thinking tonight is will our behavior change because of covid. I know my hand washing technique has improved. My hand washing used to be more or less wetting my fingers. The thumbs and palms weren't washed. 20 seconds is a long time to wash. I still can't wash for 20 seconds. 

Friday, August 7, 2020


      Yesterday morning , the next door neighbor kids dropped in and asked if we'd keep an eye on their house as they were going away for a week. Well, yes, sure I'll watch your house. 

      About 2:00 Am a big wind got up as some bad weather was coming our way. 

      So the micro manager was awake ..listening to the wind I guess, She said, "Do you hear the banging? I didn't hear any special banging.  It sounds like a door being blown open and shut. You should check the sheds to see if the doors are closed. Well, it's easier to get up and look at the doors rather than listen to, "Are you sure those doors are closed?" So I got up and checked the shed doors to find out that they were secure.

     Then she said, "There is a sceeching just before the bang and sometimes right after. Did I hear the screeching? "Well, no." Then I got a lecture about my poor hearing. I'm not sure what good a lecture would do to a guy's hearing.

     So after a while the wind died down and the banging and screeching came less but I still couldn't hear them. I even put my hearing aids in to see If I could hear the noises.

     Now I'm not one for staying awake to listen to noises in the night.

    So the next day after the rain stopped we went out to investigate. We thought that the neighbor had a gate that didn't have a latch. We checked and yes the gate was not latched.I moved close to examine the gate and I set off an alarm! Oops that scared me in a hurry. So now I knew what the screech was. Well, it really wasn't a screech or that loud. 

      I know that some people are disturbed by noises in the night and become more concerned as time goes by. I'm not bothered by noises.

     So yes we were inept as we didn't find out what was going on. However , no harm done.

Sunday, August 2, 2020


      Picking gooseberries the other day reminded me of my Dad. In Far Sides  last post she mentioned picking chokecherries and that brought back a lot of memories.

      My Dad was a fanatic about a few things. One thing he was nuts about was picking berries.

     Now let me set this up. I was a kid through the 1940's . Where I lived only about 50% if the land had been developed. So there was much native habitat left. Where I lived at Esk, Sask there was much brush but not many trees. Berries made up much of the shrubbery. One of the main berries was something called Saskatoons, Amelanchier alnifolia. There are many other names for this shrub.

     Now saskatoon berries were my Dad's favorite. He loved to get a groups of friends and neighbors together and go for a day of berry picking. People would bring sandwiches, cakes, cookies and sealers of tea. At some time they would stop for a picnic lunch.

     Now my Dad picked berries like there was no tomorrow. There had to be lots of berries around him. So Dad was constantly on the move and you would hear, "There's lots of berries over here." He was great for getting back in the car and going to another berry patch.

    Now I was a little guy and because slave labor was in force I had to pick berries. I hated it. I would ask Dad if I'd picked enough to stop. He would say,"No, pick until your pail is this full." I would pick some more and go crying back to Dad to see if  could quit. Finally ,I'd give up and just pick berries. 

    So we'd get home around 4 or 5 oclock and poor old  Mom would have to sort and clean the berries. Most of the berries were canned. One year she canned 98 quarts. Pies are excellent but you have to use fresh berries.

    Now my Dad had four daughter in laws. He insisted that they go picking berries with him. They all went with him at least once. Now my Dad had very little tact and sometimes none. He would look in the daughter in law's pails and loudly proclaim who had picked the most. He was a poor influence as he did not get one daughter in law to pick berries.

    Dad  was not only a berry picking fanatic but he was a fanatic about fishing. You heard the same cry, "There's more over here!" 

    Sadly most of that land has been developed and there's very little natural habitat left. Saskatoons have been domesticated and they are raised in your garden .