Tuesday, September 28, 2021


       Yes, I admit that I was pranking with my word scrumbly. You're a very tactful group of readers. Some knew that it wasn't a word and DJan  said,  "Nice new word."  Steve  really knew what was going on and tactfully said , "Is that a word?" Others said they liked the "new" word.

      So it was fun and I hope I haven't lost any followers. I have to single out one reader who didn't get it and she should have. My daughter should have caught me since she was in on one of my pranks. 

     I was put in charge of marking the written part of middle school language arts exams. There had to be  little orientation before we started marking. I usually took three papers, a poor one. a middle one and a very good one. We would mark these and if everything went as it should most marks given would be fairly close. One year I decided to have some fun. I asked my daughter to write the exam topic. She wrote it with a few errors. She gave herself the name "Chrissy" I gave the paper to the markers to mark. They gave the paper a mark from a D to A. Then they got going at each other. They puzzled. Finally, one teacher said, "This was not written by a student" I was busted. It taught us a good lesson about the difference between teen age writing and adult writing. So my daughter should have been on to me. 

     One of the more interesting books I've read was The Meaning of Everything: The History of the English Oxford Dictionary by Simon Winchester. The dictionary was put together over many years and is still growing. It consists of many volumes. Our local librarian commented many times about buying the Oxford English Dictionary , but it's so expensive that he could never find money in the budget.  The process was interesting . It's an easy read . I like Simon Winchester's books. 

      So I'm afraid that scrumbly will never make any dictionary and justifiable so. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021


     Fall here has been somewhat disorganized. We've had nice days and then miserable days. On tree has leaves that have turned color and the tree beside it is still green. 

     So here are a few photos to show you my scrumbly fall. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021


 I planned my downtown trip today so that I could get some more mural photos that  I found recently.

      I hit it lucky today and found an artist working on a painting. He told me where I could find more of his work. I like what he's doing since it's on a smaller scale. 

Some great work here.

Artist and helper

Artist hard at work.

I'm not sure how the fox and lines behind the fox are related. 

    This one is a little busy with butterflies

Yes, I know these aren't murals but they are part of the sky line right now. 

Friday, September 17, 2021


      Some of the blogs I follow show many excellent murals on buildings. It seems that wall murals are very common in Europe and they have some excellent artists.

     So what a surprise a few days ago when I was downtown and saw a major mural project. It will take us a long time to catch up to other places with murals.

     It looks like more murals are planned so you might see some more photos here.

                 Magpies would be a good subject here . Enlarge and read the information. The artist some how or other did not use the lower left of the space?  Some guy tried to help out with the empty space by parking is car in front of the empty space. 
      Now I really like this mural. The space was well used and I wonder what the person is thinking about? Freedom?

                  This mural is a waste of paint unless the building owner just wanted a paint job.

Monday, September 13, 2021


                PART IV

  • why did you quit church, both in terms of the faith you were raised with, and then later stopping attendance at Sunnybrook? Do you wish you had found a different church, or are you happy leaving entirely?  are you at all religious/spiritual now?

               I was hoping this question wouldn't come up but it has to be answered both for others and my own mind. 

               My parents were members of a conservative , exclusive evangelical group. They sometimes called themselves Christians, sometimes brethern, some times Christians gathered in the name of the Lord and so on.

               They were great on Sunday school. When I was a preschooler one of our teachers told us we would go to hell if we smoked or went to movies! Some how or other this didn't pass the smell test in my little four year old mind. So doubt and skepticism started early. They were always discussing the bible. So in our home when there were visitors they usually got studying the bible. Some of those old guys couldn't read so this puzzled me as to how they could study the bible.. 

              They were very clingy and you did not have a chance to look at anything else. 

             What it did was play with my mind. They did an excellent job of indoctrination. It took years before I overcame the rigid beliefs and was able to look at things with an open mind. 

               So I left said group and did not go to any church. I went to the Anglican Church in Inuvik a bit. Since I hadn't seen any different religious routines I found it interesting. 

             When I was in the Arctic the kids quite often dropped into the school for a visit if I was doing preparation. They would tell me about spirits. They had a solid belief in their spirits and also Jesus Christ. 

             These kids got me thinking about faith and what faith really is. I didn't have it. 

           Here , I attended the United Church. I wanted my kids to have some exposure to religious practices. 

           For me, I was just occupying a place in a pew. I went through the motions but for me it wasn't real. So I decided that I should not take up space .

          I've never gone back to regular attendance and have no intentions of doing so. 

         Now I don't have any issues with people who wish to worship and practice their faith. Corporate worship is very beneficial. Fellowship is important for people. 

             Now you could get me down a rabbit hole about denominations and religions disagreeing with each other and fighting. You could also get me going about denominations telling untruths about other denominations.

        But this is enough. I hope I've answered your questions and that I make sense. 

Giving up vs. Letting go

Red's daughter here again.  A few more questions have been sent my way by him, so the one I'm choosing to address this time around is: Why did you give up on journalism, education and your last job? 

I'm not sure I'd say I "gave up" on any of these in my career.  I'd say I let go of certain ideas, attitudes or experiences so I could be open to new ones.

The journalism piece is the oldest so I'll start there.  Growing up, I really had no idea what I wanted to be, though at varying times I recall some pretty wild notions, including race horse jockey (I was very tiny then and loved horses, so that was a perfect match), dentist (I have no clue what that was about!), veterinarian (love animals, but hate math, blood, innards and such which are apparently required for the job) and in high school I had it in my head I'd love to be the evening news anchor on the National with CBC.  I enjoyed current affairs and thought that looked very interesting and something I'd like to do.  Barbara Frum seemed amazing.  I even applied to journalism school in university.  As fate would have it, things got very mucky and messed up very quickly in the process of trying to get into the journalism program at Carleton, so I opted instead for a communications degree out of Calgary.  It was presented as a closely related option, but with more possibilities after graduation than "just" journalism.  That part was very true.  Also, in hindsight, I'd have hated journalism as I'm a bit introverted (I know, a complete shock to many, but true) and I don't think I'd be comfortable getting up in the business of strangers and pushing for answers.  So, I got my Coms degree and muddled along from there, still not sure of what exactly I wanted to be or do.  Eventually I stumbled into teaching and got my Ed degree as well.

I let go of being a teacher for a couple of reasons.  One was that when I moved to the US, I wasn't going to be able to do so as a classroom educator.  Ironically, I had been very tempted when I was graduating with my B.Ed. to take a job in the US, as several states were recruiting Canadian graduates, but I chickened out because it seemed too risky a move when I knew nobody anywhere they were offering the jobs.  I couldn't go overseas either at the time (as I'd have liked to), as I wasn't willing to take my little doggie with me - she'd surely have died of fright on the plane, and there was no way I was leaving her behind.  I could, however, drive over the US border with a dog, and make a return to adult education in Learning & Development, which I'd done before becoming a high school teacher.  

The other reason I left teaching was it was getting political and frustrating.  Like so many others do, I quit the management.  There were many things I loved about being in the classroom, and I'd like to think I was good at it, but the administration and school board, along with attitudes and actions of the provincial government, left much to be desired.  I can't even imagine trying to deal with all that now, and parenting also played a role. The worst run-ins I ever had when teaching were with parents, not kids. Sure, kids can be jerks, but nothing like some of the parents who treat teachers in the most disrespectful ways possible.  I got thrown under the bus enough times to be done with that dynamic.

I let go of my corporate job and became a consultant for several reasons.  One was another case of quitting the management.  I had a fabulous boss (she's a client of mine now, at a different company herself), but the upper leadership was changing, and I didn't like the direction it was headed.  I came to realize in the last few months there that I was facing doing more work I didn't like with people I couldn't stand. I was tasked with doing work at a higher level than I was compensated for, and office politics was a complete gongshow.  The culture of the organization didn't fit with my own standards and values anymore.  When I'm being raked over for not smiling at someone in the hallway (at at time when my mother-in-law was in ICU after heart surgery, from which she never recovered) I have a serious problem with being in such a place with people who think it's okay to operate at that level.

Top it all off with a commute from hell, being in my car at least 2.5 hours each day, in horrible traffic.  I was diagnosed several years ago with a chronic condition that gets worse when I'm stressed, which was happening more frequently, so I was too often stressed, sick, and sick of being stressed.  I had many days when I couldn't stand up straight after driving in the car for an hour or more to work.  I had frequent migraines and tension headaches that laid me flat. I could see where things were headed, and it wasn't pretty.  

Again, there were many things I loved about that job (especially knowing some great people and getting to travel), but it was enough of a disconnect between who I am and what makes me shine, and the way things were being done and how people were treated didn't jive with my own ethics.  Life's too short to be miserable like that, and I was miserable in the end.  Going out on my own was risky, but I feel I'm so much better off for doing so.  I let go of my fears of being out on my own, and I let go of the things that were making a mess of me at the time.

I feel I'm pretty on-par with my generation's experiences of work, both in terms of challenges and opportunities.  I've had an interesting career with many twists and turns, and it's not over yet, so who knows what next adventures I'll have?  I don't regret any of the choices I've made, as each has brought me to where I am today, and have enriched me personally and professionally.  

Thursday, September 9, 2021


                    PART III

  • why did you opt to go to the Arctic?  do you ever wish you went back to live/work or visit?  why didn't you?

                  I had been teaching for four years and I seemed to be  at a point where I was unsatisfied with teaching and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew I had to get back to university and finish a degree or get  into something else.

                   I was at loose ends. I didn't have anything else in my mind. I knew that if I resigned and didn't teach I would end up back on the farm. I didn't want to go back to the farm. I guess I really wanted to stay teaching but didn't know it.

     So here's my first class in late September 63

            I got proper clothing and was ice fishing in November

                    I wanted to leave the little town I was teaching in. I'd been there three years and that was enough. The people were nice and they were supportive. 

                   At that time the papers were full of advertisements for teachers. I always kept my eye on the ads. An ad that was in the paper every year was teach in Canada's North Lands. So on a whim I wrote and asked for application forms. I was not really sure that I really wanted to go. When the application came I thought well I'll fill this out and send it away. what have I got to lose. Surprise , surprise they wanted to interview me. I'd never heard if interviews for teachers before. So I thought let's check this interview thing out. I went to Regina for the interview. You guessed it. They hired me. They didn't give me the locations I asked for. They knew better and put me in Inuvik.

               So there I was off to Inuvik. I had to really do some research quickly to get ready to live in the Arctic. Clothing is what concerned me most. So over the summer I made preparations. They put me in contact with a teacher who was in summer school and he was a great help. Grandma and Grandpa were pretty worried about me. 

               I had no intention of staying in Red Deer. I didn't get the transfer I wanted so I decided to go to Red Deer and apply for a transfer the next year. Well, we adopted Brian so that ended northern travels. By that time Red Deer started to look pretty good. After the first year in Red Deer I lost all interest in going back. It was challenging enough as a couple but with small kids it wouldn't have been enjoyable. Things change very rapidly so it would not be the same if I went back to work or visit. I kept up with some of my friends for a few years. 

              What you ask brings back good memories and I'm sure I never showed you these photos. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Answering the Condo Question

Hello everyone, this is NOT Red writing now, but his daughter.  As you know, he recently asked me if I had any questions for him (I do, and lots of 'em, as you can see by his recent posts trying to answer them) and in turn, I asked if he had any questions to ask me.  To my surprise, his was about my first property purchase.  Did not see that one coming!

Honestly, I don't remember a ton about my process for it.  This was way back in the mid-90s.  What I do recall very vividly is that, after renting for a couple of years in a small apartment (a decent enough place for a young person out on her own for the first time), I was quickly fed up with elements of shared accommodation.  I especially loathed having to share laundry facilities.  Another tenant in the building was a painter by trade, so go ahead and imagine what the washer drum looked like after he ran a load through!  Ugh.  I disliked having to schlep downstairs, check for timing, have coins ready etc.  I only ever had to do that once more, as I rented when I first moved to the US, and hated it as much or more than ever.  To this day, it's a deal-breaker in real estate for me; I'd never again live in a place where I don't have my own in-suite laundry or the option to install it.  

That said, I also knew well enough that it was far better to own your place than pay someone else's mortgage while they gain all the equity and have control. My parents were homeowners (I think by then they were mortgage free) and it seemed to me it was the "thing to do" as an adult.  After all, the Micromanager was nothing if not consistent and frequent about money talk, and how not to be stupid about it.  Some of that actually sank in.

Also, having a place of my own, even if rented, meant that for the first time, I could start decorating the way I wanted to.  This ignited a spark in me that has meant a life-long love for domesticity in ways I couldn't imagine when I was younger.  I'm only half-joking when I tell people there's a parallel me in a parallel universe and she's renovating and decorating all the time!  Renting doesn't let one go to the lengths I desired in making a space my own, so it made sense to buy.  I learned a lot from those projects and continue to do so.

I can't recall what exactly prompted me to get an agent and start looking, but that's what I did. I remember going to several different places, all condos and townhouses, and assessing which options made the most sense for me, and matched the price I could afford.  Turned out the winner was only 2 blocks from the apartment I was renting (made for easy moving, other than it just had to snow that day and we were using a coverless pickup truck to move all my things).  I believe that was in February 1996.  The picture is a later one, as we had the building trim re-painted at some point (my idea, I'm sure).  It was 4 condo units where a house used to be.  Split level (never again when it means you walk through your entry area to access stairs!) on a corner lot (never again - too much shoveling!!) and maybe 1,000sf in total.  It even had a fireplace, which I loved.  It was bigger than the apartment, it was mine, and it needed all the work I could hope to put into it, which made me happy.  

I do recall that the Micromanager got really mad at me when she found out I bought it.  I suspect, looking back, she was miffed because I didn't get my parents involved in any of what I was doing.  At the time, I was stunned at the reaction - didn't I just check all the boxes in a long list of smart, grown up things to accomplish to get ahead??  It was a trying time, but eventually she came around.  I suppose in some ways I didn't involve my parents because I wanted to do it on my own, I figured I could do it on my own, and I didn't want to have to contend with conflicting opinions or advice on what to do.  I definitely have an independent streak.  Nevermind they lived in a different city, so it wasn't going to be convenient to wait around for them to come over and get directly involved.

From a first-time buyer perspective, it was a great choice.  I was able to walk to work, was in a well located neighborhood that was older and interesting, it had 2 bedrooms, a small yard, off-street parking and such.  I could make of it what I wanted, which wasn't too much at the time as I wasn't making tons of money, but I enjoyed being clever about making improvements on a tight budget.  In the 3 or so years I lived there, I got quite a few things done to improve it (and it needed some improving for sure!) and when it came time to sell, I made a very tidy profit that allowed me a decent down payment for my next home purchase, which was an even larger townhome with more improvement adventures to enjoy.

Dad, does that answer your question to your satisfaction?


Tuesday, September 7, 2021


   The other day I found a picture of Dad that I didn't know I had. It was of Dad at his favorite past time...fishing. 

 Dad was absolutely obsessed with fishing. He was more obsessed with eating the fish he caught. 

    Where Dad's family lived they were about 50 miles from the closest fish. In those days they weren't going to go 50 miles to fish. 

    So Dad's first fishing experience was to catch suckers in the spring when they were spawning. These small creeks ran high with spring runoff and they were full of spawning fish. The sucker has a very small mouth and doesn't take a hook. So the method of catching them was to use a net. There many species of sucker and I think every province in Canada has suckers. 

     Dad with one of his fish


    Now it was on pretty good authority that fishing was illegal in the spring during spawning. However, Dad could not resist fishing for suckers and as long as he lived there he caught suckers every spring. 

    Now these fish were full of little bones. However, Dad loved them. He would bring home many fish and Mom would can them. 

    Dad did graduate to rod and reel and casting and trolling. He flew into northern lakes and hired guides to find the best fishing spots. The guides fried fish on shore for lunch. 

   We laid dad's fishing rod on Dad's casket at his funeral.

   By the look on Dad's face you can tell how much he liked fishing for suckers and that he may have felt a little uncomfortable breaking the law.

   A couple of spectators!

Friday, September 3, 2021


                              Part II

     Many of the questions in this list could be talked about all night. So writing brief answers doesn't do them justice , but it does make me think about things. 

  • favorite color 

                 Well again I don't have a favorite color. When I was a kid we had 7 or 8 basic colors in our box of crayons we had for school. Now there are hundreds of colors and I don't keep track of them.  

           favorite food/dish/meal?

               I have a good appetite and like food. I'll just be very direct and come out and say my favorite is everything my Mom cooked! Now I hope you don't take offense because I've eaten your food and you're a very good cook. . My Mom , your Grandma was a very good cook. We had meat , potatoes and veggies. She was the best baker in the whole world...cakes, cookies pies, bread, desserts . Oh ya. She always gave us a hunk of bread dough to play with! All this she did on a wood burning cook stove . Not only great food came off that cook stove but it was warm to cuddle up around when we were little kids. I will never forget Mom's Christmas dinners. I will never forget all the baking she did for Christmas. I would like to be able to eat it all again. 

  • if you hadn't been a teacher, what else would you have wanted to do for a living?  what did you dream of being when you were a kid?

      When I was a little kid all I ever thought about was being a farmer. It's the only thing we knew about as we hadn't been exposed to anything else.  I became a teacher by accident. Close to the end of gr 12 I knew that I would "pass". I didn't get along with Dad on the farming business. He encouraged me to try something else. His suggestion was nursing.  Nursing did not interest me in the least. . So the only thing that interested me and was doable was to go to Teachers' College. Looking back. I chose the right thing. I really wanted to do something that was outdoors. Working with wildlife interested me. To this day I'm very interested in birds , animals and plants. 

  • did you always want to move far from home when you were younger (and went north) or was that just a happy accident?  

              This is really two questions. I am and was an introvert. I didn't want to leave home however, staying at home and farming was not an option. The first year I was away I was very, very homesick. However , you get used to being on your own. Going north was an accident. As I little boy I was keenly interested in the north. I read many books about life in the north. The planning of Inuvik started about 1950 and they started to build in the early fifties. There were quite often items in the paper which I read. I followed developments. However, I never had any thoughts of going there. Years later I applied for a teaching position in Canada's Northland and they placed me in Inuvik.