Tuesday, January 31, 2023


      It's spring cleaning at my house now. Other years I've just gone through the motions to dust a little here , wash a little here and put things back in place. 

     This year I have an added purpose. At my age a forced move could come at any moment. The micro manage and I have been talking about downsizing for years. To be fair we have got rid of a tremendous amount of stuff but there's lots here. A move would be a tremendous amount of work and if you move into a senior complex there's little room for  treasures. 

    So this year one of my mandates is to get rid of "stuff" . So yesterday I found 19 neckties in a closet. I haven't worn a necktie since 2012. Why do I need 19 neckties? I got rid of 16 and kept three. 

    In the good old days we wore neckties. I was a teacher and through most of my career we were expected to wear a shirt and tie. For most public functions we wore a suit and the shirt and necktie. Yes, church! Wear your good clothes . 

    So here I am with 16 extra neckties.

    The day before I found some perfectly good winter coats that I haven't worn for 30-40 years. So 4 pieces of good coats are moving out of here. 

    A fine Melton cloth winter over coat
    Leather winter coat that was very comfortable to wear
     A raincoat to go over your suit,

    A jacket I haven't worn for  very long time. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023


      My Christmas cactus is setting blooms for the third time this year. It bloomed in early November and then again in December. And now it's in bud again. I thought they were to bloom only once. 

     I started this plant close to 10 years ago. The micro manager insisted that it be placed in a certain space. She's the plant waterer. She thought that since it was called cactus that it didn't need much water. It was not in a good place for light. The plant did not grow. 

    Three years ago I took over the management of the Christmas cactus. It developed quickly. Last year it bloomed. This year it's been very surprising. 

    For a little history of this plant. I started teaching in a new school in 1969. The vice principal had a few plants and he knew a few things about plants. He retired about 1974 and didn't want his plants and gave them to me. So one of them was a large Christmas cactus with dark blooms. 

    I kept the plant until 1997 when I retired. I "dragged" the plant home. The Micro Manager complained that the plant was too large. I took some cuttings and started several new plants. I kept one and gave the others away. So the plant I have now dates back to 1969. 

    This is a plant I won't part with as I always remember Nap with this plant. 

Friday, January 27, 2023


   Today we are getting a little snow. Just enough to make it interesting. We've had about 3 - 4 cm which is normal for here . It's not enough to be a challenge to shovel.

     I fell sorry for some people in Ontario , Canada who got 26 cm of snow. That would be too much for me to shovel. 

Monday, January 23, 2023


       What's coming? Well, spring is on it's way. You can tell who's getting antsy and anxious to see spring come.

      We have had an exceptionally mild January. For five days we've had daytime highs above 0 C. 

     So for winter solstice it was like this. 

      Sun rise : 8:42 AM      Sunset : 4:24 PM    Total daylight 7 hrs and 42 minutes

     For Jan 23 it looks like this.

      Sunrise : 8:28 AM       Sunset : 5:05 PM     Total daylight hours 8 hr and 37 min

     There was an increase of 4 minutes from yesterday to today. 

    So were bumping along nicely toward spring.

Saturday, January 21, 2023


        Metrification in Canada began in the early 1970's. 

       It's purpose was to fit in with most other countries in the world for making trade much easier as most countries used the metric system. 

      After that, the change became bumpy and complicated. There was opposition to this change. Programs to teach metrification were poorly designed. The education program emphasized converting the imperial measures to metric measures. This program was nuts. All you had to do was teach what the metric measures are. How much is a kilogram? How much is a centimeter? Just learn the metric measures. 

     Politics also got in the way. One party cancelled the program when it was abut half done. 

     Some of he imperial measurements were hard to change. The country was originally surveyed in miles. Land measurements were difficult to change although now land is being sold in hectares. 

     What bothers me is that our food sales are a confusing mixture of systems. The products are advertised and displayed with prices per pound. When it goes through the cash register it is calculated in metric. I would like one system used . It's very difficult to check your cashier slip when you have to make conversions in your head. And I do check my grocery slips very closely. 

    Now most of my followers are American. The U.S. has not changed to the metric system. I am surprised and pleased that most of my readers do not seem to have difficulty with the metric system. I used to give imperial in brackets after the metric measure. I quit doing that as people did not seem to have  problem. 

    One of my favorites is Far Side of Fifty who gives the temperature in Imperial and then in brackets the celsius temperature with an EH? 

    So are people just not bothered by the use of metric or do they know enough of it that they understand what is being written about? 

     In this country we don't really have an excuse for not understanding the metric system and using it. I don't think in Fahrenheit anymore. I don't think in miles. I like milliliters and milligrams. 

    So who knows. Maybe before I die we will all get used to the metric system? Heh wait a minute. It's going to take much more time for all of us to get our heads around the metric system. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023


      I accidentally looked out about 11 AM this morning and this is what I saw. There was an amazingly heavy hoarfrost particularly on the spruce trees. It was bright , clear and minus 7 C.

      We don't get many January days like this. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023


       I was talking to my son in law this morning and the subject of tuberculosis came up. 

      Today we hear very little about TB but not so long ago it took many lives. There were no medications for treating the disease itself. The main treatment was to put patients in a special hospital where they were required to rest. I saw a photo of 12 patients in their beds and someone reading to them. TB spread easily in poor conditions as in housing and cleanliness. 

     When I was a child they decided that to identify people with TB and put them in hospitals would prevent the spread of TB.

    Where I lived they had a regime of X-raying people every year. I remember the big gray trucks. We were all lined up and called in order to have our x-rays done. Because of the x-ray technology of the time, we had to take off our tops. It was a day with some stress as each year they found several people with TB and they were immediately put in the hospital. There was no not getting the x-ray because it was dangerous. All people had the x-ray. Some difference from today. But today we still have covid.  

    Later other tests were used to detect TB and medications found to treat TB.

    When I was in the Arctic in the 60's TB was all too common. It's surprising that I didn't get TB. Aboriginals were sent south to stay in hospitals sometimes for years. On the coasts an icebreaker came in each year and the people were taken to the ship and x-rayed. It was an exciting time to visit the ship but they sadly always found people with TB. 

    One Inuk I knew, from Baffin Island, had TB as a young person. When he was in the south he got in some school time and they also trained him to be an x-ray technician. 

    He was assigned to work in an area with Cree people. There was a Cree interpreter who gave instructions . 1. Take a deep Breath, 2 Hold it. 3. Don't move. Elijah , the Inuk technician, got the idea that it would run more smoothly if he could give those instructions . He asked if they would tell him what to say. They told him what to say. He gave the instructions. However, when the women left the x-ray they gave Elijah a funny look. Elijah soon realized he had been had. They had told him correctly for steps one and two , but they changed one word in step three so Elijah was saying "Don't fart" instead of "don't move." 

    We are all fortunate these days that there is very little TB except in underdeveloped countries.

   Since I am elderly , I think many of you would have missed this experience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023


       Okay, I found out that the world doesn't get excited about grammar skills even if I do.  As my former vice principal and colleague said about teaching grammar again, "It ain't gonna happen." Okay  , we're finished with grammar. 

      I also taught math at the middle school level. I liked teaching math and had students do all kinds of drill to learn skills. Now I realize that drill in math is no longer acceptable. However, there must be certain skills that should be taught.

     Pat from Weaver of Grass thinks that learning timetables to twelve should be mandatory. 

     I often wonder about many of the skills and concepts I taught and if they've been of any value. Have they ever been used? I think I know the answer to that question. They probably haven't been used. 

    Just for fun I'll ask the Micro Manager if she can divide fractions. She gives me an odd look and then tries to see if she can do it. She doesn't know how to divide fractions and she had the top marks in her high school class. 

    So my next question to the Micro Manager will be, how do you find the area of a circle. With a lot of work she can find the area of a circle and then I change it to the volume of a sphere.

    How about factoring polynomials? Do you remember those things? Probably not. 

    Remember what logarithms are and how to use them?

    Yes, we learned quite a few things about triangles. Scalene triangle? Is that still in your memory bank.  

    I sometimes sit back and reflect about the things I taught. What value were they? Why did curriculum developers put these things in the curriculum? 

     I taught these skills as I thought they were valuable for kids to improve their skills in reasoning and logic. 

    We will never know as math was taught for it's concepts rather than reasoning and logic. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023


       Well, grammar is certainly another topic with conflict? If I took a survey, I'm sure most people would say they dislike grammar. I'm sure many people would not find grammar useful. However, writers should find grammar useful and would probably like to learn or relearn grammar. 

        So here goes. I think grammar should be taught is schools. You may say , "Isn't grammar taught in schools." Well, no it isn't. 

       When I went to school from 1944 to 1957, I was taught grammar. It was not my favorite subject. When I got to teacher's college we were given a general grammar test. I failed miserably. I kept the test for years as it showed that I did not know the difference between a noun and a verb. 

       We were given remedial grammar lessons.

       I actually learned basic grammar when I had too teach it. Unfortunately, I taught grammar the same way I had been taught so probably very few of my students learned much grammar.

      Now it gets worse. Somewhere in my career I began teaching language arts. Yes, I taught grammar the same way I had always taught it with about the same success. 

     Gradually teachers began not teaching grammar. They also stopped teaching spelling. I kept on teaching grammar and began relating all the grammar rules directly to their own writing. So I would use a kid's piece of writing as an example for teaching the grammar. Where's my subordinate clause? I made them look at their own writing. Grammar was used to tell if  things were tied together. They could move things around in their sentences and paragraphs like we do on the computer.

     As a blog writer, I usually write the way I talk. It's informal and fun.

    However, I think that an understanding  of grammar and looking at my writing once in a while would improve my writing and make it easier to follow. 

    Somehow , I don't think this is ever going to happen!

    Now I'm just waiting for some grammarian to go through this piece of writing as far as grammar goes!

    Now , I just noticed that there is a National Grammar day  which is Mar. 4. It was founded by Martha Brockenbrough for the promotion of good grammar. 

Thursday, January 5, 2023


       In my last post I wrote about Canadian prairie horses. I was born in 1939 so I was on the end of farming with horses. I do remember horses pulling farm implements. I do remember the farmers stories about their horses. I do remember using horses for winter transportation. I was even trusted a few times to go the six miles to the village to pick up mail. We also skated during some of those times. 

     I enjoyed writing the post and recalling the past. I enjoyed your positive comments. I was surprised to find people with similar experiences. For those who have no idea what I was talking about, don't worry.

    However, there is some conflict arising from the post. 

    I am reading Bill Bryson's "The Body". I was reading ch 4 about the head. In that chapter he has a section on memory. They are not really sure how memory works or doesn't work. They think things are lost in memory and that some things have been added and other things colored.

   So there I was writing a post based on my memory of things that happened more than 70 years ago. So the little doubts came into my mind as to how accurate things might be. 

   When I visit my brothers, we usually remember things differently. 

    I like Western Canadian history. I've read many books on the west. I've read about Henry Kelsey and David Thompson and many more. David Thompson used horses. 

    I've read much on the settlement of the west, the ranching that occurred and how agriculture began. I think I have a pretty fair knowledge of what went on before transportation and agriculture were mechanized.

    So I'm quite agreeable to have a caveat put on the things I say. 

    I also just finished reading "Ghost Town Stories " by Johnny Buchusky. He describes villages that were built on the Red coat trail. Very few of them are left. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023


      At least one of the comments on one of my Christmas posts made me start to think about horses. The post isn't going out of my mind even if it's past Christmas. 

     The person said they would like to have a Christmas sleigh ride. I imagine people who want a sleigh ride at Christmas are thinking about lively horses and fancy sleighs. 

    However my sleigh rides were not of the fancy kind.

    The Canadian prairies suffered more than most areas during the 30's. The depression was bad enough but then there was a drought that went along with the depression. 

   So we were still using horses until after the second world war. We didn't have enough money to buy tractors in the 30's. We couldn't buy tractors during the war and couldn't buy gas so the horse was important and used until after the war. . 

    The horses used were not the huge draft horses. They were known as the prairie horse. They weighed about 1000lbs and were willing workers. They were easy to keep. When the harvest was over most of these horses were turned out and let loose for the winter. These horses were able to find food and were able to get enough water from the snow. About 50% of the area was not developed so they could paw the snow back and get at the native grass. There were also straw stacks from the harvest that they could use but the straw was not that nutritious. Horses know what's good for them. 

    Roads were not kept open in the winters. There wasn't antifreeze at that time for cars. We didn't have snow removal equipment so we used horses to get us to town in the winter. 

   These were the same tough little horses we used to get to our cousins for Christmas. We didn't have fancy sleds. We used a heavy farm sleigh with a grain box on the sleigh. We used them to get from one place to another. It wasn't fancy. It was tough as it was cold. 

     I can't find my photo of Queenie and Daisy who were the last horses we had on the farm. 

    For some of you this will make no sense at all. This was agriculture on the Canadian prairie. It was tough but, the people who survived were proud.

Sunday, January 1, 2023


      I'm ready to start the new year. I'm so ready I decided to look back to the solstice and see how much more daylight we are getting. Not much more.

     sunrise today 8:44 AM       sunset today 4:33 PM

     Total daylight 7 hours and 48 minutes. 

     To compare what it was at the winter solstice:

     Sunrise  8:43 AM    Sunset 4:24 PM

     Total daylight 7 hours and 42 minutes. 

    So it's not much change but enough to see where we are going and that it will continue to change for the better.