Thursday, October 29, 2020


  Ring around the rosie 

A pocket full of posie

Husha husha 

We all fall down

    I played this little ditty with my own kids and many others. The boys loved it and were very creative in making a fall, rolling around on the floor and having great fun. 

     Well, I fell yesterday and I wasn't playing ring around the rosie. And it wasn't fun.

     My fall was inelegant and totally uncontrolled. I did a real face plant. I more or less fell like a tree . I did not bend. My face  hit the floor first (face plant) . My glasses went flying and I grazed my check. Other than that I'm fine.

     Yes the micro manager found my glasses . I forgot I was wearing glasses. The Micro Manager didn't show up for a while. She thought I'd dropped my weights. When she came by I was sitting on the tub with a cold face cloth on my eye and cheek. Then she wondered what happened.

    Now before you get going, my place is pretty safe as far as preventing senior falls is concerned. I realize falls are very hazardous to seniors. That's why I quit cycling, skating and cross country skiing last year. I always said even if I fell on the floor I would hurt myself let alone flying off my bike.

   Why are seniors so vulnerable? I always say that my head is on the ground before my brain knows that I'm falling. Add to that a whole lot of other senior disabilities.

    So I was fortunate and had no injury. I think I sort of got light headed for a few seconds , tripped over my feet and fell. 

    Now in looking up the ring around the rosie rhyme I learned something. The nursery rhyme refers to the great plague. Apparently there was a very prominent ring around the eyes when people had the disease. Fall down refers to people as they die. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020


      As I said a the the start  of this series , there were several hats to wear in telling about my education. Sometimes it switched from student to teacher to just a kid in the same post.

     Even though I was a classroom teacher for 37 years I have a healthy skepticism about some of the things that go on in education. 

     When I was finishing Gr. 12 we had to fill out a form for the exams we wished to write . In that way, the powers that be, knew how many exam copies to send out and then there was less risk of extra copies circulating.

     As I was carefully filling out the form so that I would get all my exams , the teacher came along and said , "Why don't you order the exam for Agricultural Economic?" What? Write an exam for a course I didn't take? The teacher told me that I should get the exam and on the day to write the exam , I could look at it. If I thought I might be able to pass it I would write it. If I thought it was too hard I could get up and leave the examination room. The teacher told me that he thought I had a good chance of passing the exam as I was a farm kid and followed news on agriculture. I was also active in 4H.

     Well you know the rest of the story. The exam came and I wrote it and got a good mark that increased my average.

     So there's my learning things that are out of the classroom!

    So my skepticism is this. There is something wrong with the curriculum if somebody can pass an exam and get credit for  course they didn't take. So over many years I realized that in some cases we did not teach much. I 'm not worried about teaching a whole lot of facts but teaching skills that help a student to evaluate, analyze and make judgments. With world events and elections right now, I don't think we got these skills got across to the students.

Friday, October 23, 2020


     I was reading Steve's blog      this morning when he casually described school interviews being conducted on Zoom. Immediately I said WOW! What a great idea! 

     Now I was a teacher and we had parent teacher interviews regularly. Well, not in the very olden days. Interviews were a marathon. We went from 9 to 9. It was a long stressful day. You'd get home about 10:00 PM and be shaking. 

     I encouraged kids to attend interviews with their parents. Then the kid knew what both teacher and parent said. Sometimes a kid got beat up when there was just a parent. Sometimes there was an argument when the parent went home if the student didn't attend the interview. I wanted both parent and student to go way with a positive attitude. 

     Now I'm not sure how Steve's school did interviews but I can see some definite advantages. The logistics would be much easier. You wouldn't have parents racing to the school for interviews. Scheduling could be much easier. The parent could attend the interview from the office. Just think how this would help reduce greenhouse gas. The parent and student could be in their own home. Preparations could be made and students work and marks on display. This would  be much quieter as there wouldn't be people running around the school. A parent with two students may have 10 in interviews to attend. Hey, even the teacher could be at home. 

    We keep wondering what changes covid might make to our society. This to me is a good change and I hope it continues after covid. Some technology is being developed and improved so that work can be done from home and in other off site places. 


Monday, October 19, 2020


     From some of the comments I got the idea that  some people felt sorry for me because of the hardships faced. There were challenges but I didn't hurt myself . I was a poor student. I was incredibly lazy. I skillfully got by doing the least possible. 

      I did my work except for one time that I remember and my friends will never let me forget it.

     In Gr. 11 English we had a novel to study. Since there was very little teacher time, he wrote questions on the board for each chapter and we were supposed to write answers for the questions. No checking of the work...almost no checking. I did not do any of the questions. I faithfully copied every question in my book but wrote not one answer. One day about 11:50 the teacher decided to take a look in our books at the questions and how we were doing. Everybody knew I hadn't done anything. There was an air of tension. The kids were all waiting for me to get caught . It would be a lot of fun to see me get caught.  So the teacher started at the front of my row and started checking. He was checking the student in front of me. Just then the bell rang for noon. I remember some of my buddies couldn't believe my good luck of not being checked. They've never let me forget this incident.

     At the end of the year I would bring all my school stuff home and Mom told me to put it in the closet. I would come home and she would tell me to sort out what I didn't want and put it on the floor. I would come home a few months later and everything had been put back in the closet.

     So my brother had the same teacher and novel study. My brother wanted to take a shortcut so he decided to get my book and copy the answers! Guess what. There were no answers for him to find. 

     So I wasn't exactly an angel. Math was checked every day. The teacher would ask each student for an answer. If something was wrong the teacher would explain the concept. Now I was pretty good in math . I did learn to factor trinomials. Does anybody remember trinomials? Does anybody remember how to factor trinomials? Does anybody remember what trinomials are for.? Has anybody ever used a trinomial since they left school? But I did my math.

     So I was good sometimes and bad sometimes. However I don't need sympathy. I  had the opportunity and got there.

    Now I have all my report cards. Do you know why? You guessed it. Mom kept them all. I will not copy one report card to show you my marks. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Friday, October 16, 2020


      It seems that I have more photos and post on snow than any other topic. Well, here's another snow post.

     We have had a very beautiful September and up until Oct. 13. We had warm dry weather. I enjoyed every day of it. On the 13 th we had 2 cm of snow which melted Wed. and Thur. Today we've had 10 cm of snow. We do get heavy snow in September but not very often. 

   So here's my snow today.

   Off my back step

The house across the street.

    The neighbor's mountain ash

A big stand of spruce near my house

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


          For me , going to high school was a complete surprise. Most rural kids in my generation dropped out of school. The main  reason was a lack of transportation to get to highschool and another reason that kids were used as farm labor . It was a challenge for parents and students to make highschool happen. 

        For me, economics and technology were changing  quickly and it allowed me to go to highschool. Our rural roads had improved and snow clearing machinery became available. This meant that a student could get to school and back home each day. I did have a place to stay in case a storm came up and roads were not passable.

     So in September of 1954 I began high school. Each day I would drive  5 miles into town with another family to attend high school. Today 5 miles would be nothing. At that time it was a challenge. Today in that area children ride the bus for two hours to get to school. There are very few people living in the area.

    So what was my high school?  There were 26 students from gr 10 to 12 and one teacher. That's right. One teacher taught all the grades and all high school subjects. Sound possible? Well, it happened. 

     Prairie boy's gr. 10 photo. 

    So you remember that I was the only one in my class from Gr 3 to  9? Now there were ten of us in the gr 10 class. It was quite a change I was not that confident or sure of myself in that situation. 

     I also look back and see that I was not that well prepared for high school. Learning on your own meant that you missed many things. However, I guess I was prepared as well as the others. 

     Again in many situations we worked in groups on assignments. 

    The years from 14 to 17 mean that you are learning many other things outside of school. We spent more time with other teenagers. We spent time with other people who we didn't know. I learned that there were different ways to do things and different ideas and opinions. Being raised in a very small rural community meant that you were not exposed to many different ideas. 

    People helped me and I was able to overcome the things I was missing. Anybody remember how to factor trinomials? I remember somebody showing me this concept and I found out that it was very simple. This opened many doors in math for me.

    I still worked for my Dad in the spring and fall . Teacher's comments on my report card always referred to the issue of me missing school. I improved as I went through gr 10 to 12. I became more confident and finished high school. Many students did not complete their high school even though they put in lots of effort. One teacher even, a very , very good one just wasn't enough so that many students could succeed.

    I got to know the kids in highschool very well. I even got to ride a school bus for the last two years of highschool. We couldn't even think about school busses when I started high school. 

    So like many other things in my life high school wasn't planned but it happened and turned out to be successful. 

     Gr. 12 graduation. Prairie boy is in the back row first on the left.

Sunday, October 11, 2020


     Yes , I'm the handicapped grocery shopper. How handicapped.? The first time I shopped for groceries was well after my eightieth birthday.  How did that happen? You had to get something to eat.

     I've been  aware of my grocery shopping handicap for quite some time. It all happened very innocently. 

    As you know I was raised on a farm in the late 40's early 50's. We bought very few groceries from a store: flour, coffee, tea, sugar, salt and a few other things from time to time. Now at that time no farm mother would ever send her son for groceries. 

    When I left home I boarded . This meant that I didn't have to buy groceries. 

    When I went to the Arctic I had to do my own cooking. When I moved into an apartment they brought two huge boxes of groceries that were supposed to last a year. Some things lasted a year. Some lasted forever and some like my case of tomato soup were gone by Sept. 30. Cooking with powdered eggs and powdered potatoes was interesting. Powdered milk at that time was more interesting. I never got powdered milk made so that it didn't have lumps.

     Then the big event of my life occurred and I got married. Lucky me. I get a good cook and somebody who will buy groceries.

     When I retired I received a promotion in the ranks of grocery shopping. I got to be the cart pusher, bag opener and the bad guy! I went along week after week attending shopping but not participating in the activity. The micro Manager makes a grocery list that makes little sense and leads to all kinds of errors.

    Well recently due to some severe foot problems the Micro Manager is unable to shop. I take her list and redo it so that it makes sense. I need to know , brands, sizes, prices and any other info about the product. With my list and notes I happily go off to get groceries. It works well. I get what we need.

    Now this big change has happened since I turned 80. I'm proud of myself. I'm not going to give up my grocery shopping duties.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


        This section will cover my grade eight and nine years . Again for the same reason as other groupings...I had the same teacher.

       All the time that institutional learning takes place, lots of learning takes place outside of school. This is one thing I stressed at the beginning of this series. What you learn in school helps you make sense of things in society. The reverse works when we learn things in school.

      As I grew up I gradually did more work on the farm. Much labor was needed on small farms. People like my Dad couldn't afford to hire people to work for him so his sons pitched in and did much farm work. We could run most farm equipment. We milked cows and fed livestock. Most of the time it was pleasant and I learned to work hard. Making hay wasn't much fun. As a result I missed many days of school in the spring and fall. In the fall I had to help with harvesting.We put in long hours and worked until midnight. Absence from school was also caused by some illness and times when weather prevented us from getting to school. 

    My grade eight and nine teacher had taught in the same school from 1938 -44. She was known to be extremely tough and was very much disliked. In 1953 the school board needed a teacher and asked her if she would teach again. Her comment was that she had mellowed. Indeed she had changed greatly. There were about 12 kids and I remember her usually standing in the middle of the group and giving directions and helping kids. It was a good strategy as all kids received attention. It was like one big family. Yes, she had mellowed and was liked. 

     Again, I got to spend time in the library lost in some books. Other kids didn't care to visit the library so I was not interrupted. 

     I was now one of the two big guys in the school. We had clout! We got to organize some of the activities. 

   At that time many of the farm boys dropped out of school at the end of gr. eight. I thought that I would drop out. But not me! My parents insisted that I continue with school. 

     Grade nine was a whole new world. They didn't teach grade nine in the country schools. They had a system called Correspondence school. All lessons and assignments were made up and sent out by the Dept. of Education in the mail. There was a schedule for the student to do the work. For me , it was decided that I should sit in the school and work on the lessons. It was thought that this would keep me more structured. I needed help sending the lessons to the Dept of Education for marking. I credit my Dad for helping me to stay organized and do assignments on time. I remember him going over the corrections when the lessons came back. With Dad's help I was able to pass gr. nine. Since I'm a bit of an introvert this program suited me.

Saturday, October 3, 2020


      I love gardening...vegetable gardening. I like to eat fresh produce that comes directly out of the soil. I do not like produce from the store. So when I write about a garden it's not as many of you think as a flower garden. I'm not very good when it comes to growing flowers but I certainly appreciate them.

      Gardening is in my genes if that is possible. My maternal grandfather was  obsessed with gardening. For part of his life he made his living with a market garden. My paternal grandmother worked hard at her garden as it was a vital source of food. My Dad loved gardening so gardening is in the family.

     Now one of my favorite plants to grow and eat is the tomato. Now I have a favorite way to eat a tomato and I learned it as a boy. We would come home from school and usually we had some small thing to eat before we did our chores. In the fall there was usually a box of tomatoes at the door. We would help ourselves to two or three of the best. If somebody managed to grab a salt shaker so much the better. Then we would eat tomatoes as you would an apple! These tomatoes were fresh and juicy. I ate one the other day . It was just great.

     Try it!