Monday, October 30, 2023


      Origins  of Halloween are interesting. But I'm going to bore you with my childhood Halloween experience.

       For the most part there was nothing.

       My childhood was in the 40's and 50's. We lived in a rural area where everything was limited. Halloween treats were just not heard of. Even in the village kids did not go from house to house for treats. Most people didn't have the spare cash to buy candy. Going house to house for treats was not heard of. Farms were too far apart to go from house to house and transportation was limited. 

      In school we had a Halloween party in the afternoon. Some kids had costumes. The teacher used it for an art class. We bobbed for apples. That was it. 

     The main idea at that time was tricks and some of the tricks were not funny and damage was done. The idea was to scare people so various mysterious noises were made. The first kids who came to our house sneaked on to the yard. They had a small home made device that made a loud noise on the window. We were alarmed as we didn't expect anything. 

     In the village a common trick was to tip over the out houses and move things around from place to place. Since cars were not locked they were easily pushed from place to place. Someone could find their car at somebody else's house. In my first year of high school the police man came and got the boys to go around and tip  the outhouses back up. I was a little upset as I hadn't been with the gang to upset out houses. 

    So Halloween when I was a kid was much different than it is today. My first trick or treating was when I took my own kids out trick or treating. I remember one night that  was bitterly cold. They were young enough that I had to go with them. I was cold and wanted to go home. Not my two little pumpkins. They wanted to keep going and they did.

    Much has changed about Halloween in my life time.

Friday, October 27, 2023


         Now I don't gamble! 

         But I do eat at a casino where the food is excellent and cheap. 

        However, some time ago the casino persuaded me to get a loyalty card. It saved me 2 bucks on the buffet. I thought nothing more about it. 

       So a year after I get a promo saying they hadn't seen any action in my account and here's 20 bucks in points to play with. A couple of weeks ago they gave me another 20000 points. You can only gamble with your points and any money comes from what you win. 

     So I got one of the staff to help me spend my points. It's complicated . You have an to me. You put your pin number in and it tells you how much you have to play with. I'm not sure of all the steps and I couldn't do it myself. However, you choose how big your bets should be and then start hitting play until  3 figures come up in a row. Then they decide how much money you get? How they figure that out I don't know.

     However, one hit came up and I won $43.00. I immediately cashed it out and kept playing. They couldn't take my $43.00 away as I wouldn't play with it. I continued playing until all my points were used up. The machine shows you how much you have to play with and when it's all used up. 

    The Micro Manager played and she won $12.50. We cashed in and went home. 

    Does this make a gamble of me? Never! Am I tempted? Never. You feel silly and angry that you put money in the machines. 

    So the bumbling gambler, with a lot of help from the staff,  played his points and went home still not knowing how to run the machines. 

Monday, October 23, 2023


       Well, no surprise. We're getting a major dump of snow. We had 2 - 3 inches by about 4.30 PM. It's been coming down steadily since then. I will shovel again this evening. 

      The first phots were taken in the day time . The others were taken this evening. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023


      84 years ago today was a very pleasant warm day on the Saskatchewan prairie when a baby boy was born in a small wooden shack to a young couple. Yes, That was me!

     Since I was the oldest the birth must have impressed them and Dad told this story many times to anyone who would listen. He never told me the story. I just remember listening to it many times.

    The country doctor attended and sat and smoked and read the Reader's Digest. Mom's two friends Linda Kabernik and Margaret Mehaffey attended to the serious business of the event. The doctor probably tied my cord and left. For all that work, or lack of work, the Doctor got $10.00. 

    Meanwhile on that warm day Dad stayed busy on the yard. His help was to stay out of the way. 

    I always think that I've been fortunate to have the story of my birth. I don't remember my siblings having much of a story about their births. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


       I thought today would be a good day to write about the terrible issues between Hamas and Israel.

      Then I thought, wait a minute. What do I know about the situation? I would be parroting opinions of others and I would succeed in upsetting people. 

      So I'll write about a related issue that I have some knowledge about.

     Western Canada was opened in the late 1800's for settlers to come to the area. Most people like my ancestors were interested in farming. However, there had to be some businesses established to serve the people. Many Europeans came to Saskatchewan, which is my home province

     One group who came were Jews. They set up small general stores . To supply settlers. The Jews came to the small villages and towns and lived a very lonely life. They did not participate in community activities and were shunned. However, they worked hard and made a meagre living. Our town had a clothing store which was owned by a Jew. There was not another clothing store for many miles. With the transportation at that time a local clothing store was very convenient. 

     As time went on the poorer Jewish business men went on to work for others. Some Jews became involved with larger businesses like machinery dealerships or car dealerships.

    They were also active in artistic and academic fields.

     One interesting book I read was "Don't You Know it's 40 below" by Jack Kates It details the life of a Jewish family in a small village. It's well worth a read. 

     Fredelle Bruser Maynard is another writer who gives a description of Jewish life on the prairies.

    One man had a store in a very small community. He had music talent and formed a community band. The band won many competitions. Abe Katz was well liked and respected in the community. When He left they had a celebration for him and gave him some money. Very few Jews received this treatment.

   Sadly the Jewish people were not treated well here but managed to succeed. They are still here but have moved to larger centers where they  can practice their religion and conduct social events. 

Sunday, October 15, 2023


      Today we had one of those bright warm sunny fall days. We had a high of 20 C. I was lucky enough to be out for two hours this afternoon. I went to this area last fall but a little earlier before the leaves dropped. I was surprised at how much was left to photograph and that there were still awesome colors. 

      So here goes.

Thursday, October 12, 2023


       Our school board was very progressive in promoting professional development.  They backed up their ideas with money. They started a clause 14 which was a fund calculated so that every teacher got to attend an in service every 2 1/2 years. 

       Well, guess what? Not every teacher wanted to participate in professional development. So there was money left. Well, you know who applied for money that was left. Sometimes I got to go to 2 PD sessions in one year. 

      Now we are between Edmonton and Calgary and Banff and Jasper are just as handy. Both Calgary and Edmonton have Universities so there were many capable people to put on workshops. Who wouldn't want to go to Banff or Jasper for an PD session? 

     Now the board also hired well known scholars to do major professional development. .

     They hired Madeline Hunter to get us all on the same page as far as lesson planning and presentation was concerned. 

     It was also an excellent tool for teacher evaluation.  

    So there you have it. I beat the system and I have no egrets. 

Monday, October 9, 2023


       Today was a holiday so CBC  radio played some old reruns.

       The one that caught my ear was Stuart Mclean reading one of his stories.

       Stuart Mclean was a well loved Canadian author and story teller. He had a long running radio show on CBC . One of the features of the show was Stuart reading one of his stories.

     The stories were based on a family Dave, Morley, Sam (son) and Stephany (daughter). Each of the family had some huge inadequate parts of character and ability. Each one of them also had some tremendous strong abilities and character. Stuart's stories wound around the abilities and weaknesses of this family. There were also people in the neighborhood that the family interacted with. There was Mary Turlington, who was a know it all. Carl Lowbeer, who was a retired engineer and was a little lonely. Kenny Wong, who made and sold meat pies and was a friend of Daves. Their was Arthur the dog. There was a whole neighborhood for this family to interact with. 

     Today's story was suitable for the season. Morley, an inept gardener all her life, was cleaning up her garden. When Sam was 8 or 9 Morley had tried to interest him in gardening. She bought him a special little Tonka back hoe trying to interest him in gardening. It didn't work. Today she was cleaning up under the peony and hit something with her trowel. She pulled and it was The little digger she had given to Sam for his gardening. 

     Mclean wrote hundreds of these stories and they are on You Tube. 

     So today  when I heard Stuart reading this story there was a nostalgic moment or two.

    Very sadly Stuart died a few years ago . I miss his readings and stories. I do have two of his books.

    Check on You Tube and listen to some of his stories.

Sunday, October 8, 2023


     Tomorrow is  Canadian Thanksgiving. Traditionally it was a time to consider the harvest of fruit and vegetables and animals. People produced their own food and they had to produce enough to last a whole year. No sneaking over to the store when you run short of things. 

     As time went on Thanksgiving became a time of general thankfulness for what we were given in that year. 

     So this year I am thankful more than ever for my life. Next week sometime I will be 84. As my Irish twin says. "The numbers are getting big."

    I am fortunate now to have very good health. Yes, I have aches and pains. I can live with them. I have no big health issues. I do not have any of the usual problems the elderly have. I don't have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or any of the usual senior issues. I am very thankful for my good health. After I finish this post I'll go out for my nightly 3 km walk. 

       I do all my own yard work because I can and I like it. I dig my vegetable garden by hand.

    I don't think I'm sliding into any of the age related conditions such as dementia. 

   A friend and I discussed yesterday our short term memory challenges . We admit it but decided that we can live with it.

   So I'm thankful for the good things I have at this age and look forward to more good things. 

    So Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian pals. 

Thursday, October 5, 2023


      I have been writing about some of the adventuresome things I've done in my life. I've had comments like "You lived and interesting life." In my last post I'm crawling, walking up Windy Point Ridge . At least that's what we called it.

     Young men usually have a short period in their life when they think they are invincible and do some crazy things. I had that invincible period in my life but it lasted longer than most.  Once I passed through the invincible stage of my life I still had some fun like backpacking and crawling around the Rocky Mountains. 

    However, I was involved in may other activities even though they were much calmer. 

   I was very active in many aspects of teaching. I went to every professional development activity I could. So I attended many conferences and  workshops. I was also on the executive of the English Language Arts conference. This meant some travelling during the year. I was involved with Alberta Teachers Association. 

    Now all these activities may have been very interesting to me but I can't make interesting blog posts from them. 

   In my 40's life could have been become much more adventurous as one on the ATA presidents did not like flying into the north. I was asked to consider taking her place for the northern activities she would be involved in. I turned it down. It meant being away from home and an extra workload preparing for substitute teachers. I've often regretted not taking that position.

    So as hard as I may try, I don't think I could make a conference interesting. 

   The biggest conference I attended was the  conference in Washington D.C. in 1992. It was in the hotel where Reagan was shot. The venue was huge so this little prairie boy's eyes were wide open. I was also given a couple of extra days to be a tourist. When I got home I had to give a report to all my  colleagues and share all the goodies I had picked up.

    So that's all you're going to get on my professional development activities. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023


      Some of you may have heard of the Grizzly bear attack that killed two people in Alberta. Other people have asked about it. People know that my city is Red Deer. The site of the attack was described as the Red Deer River Valley. 

     The attack site was west of Sundre , AB which is about 50 km from me. To be more precise the attack took place in the area of the Ya Ha Tinda ranch which is used to keep the horses for Banff National park. Ya Ha Tinda is 2 hr and 20 min from where I live. 

     The head waters of the Red Deer river begin in that area where several small streams join. . The river continues east across Alberta for 724 km before joining the South Saskatchewan River .

    When you hike in the Rocky mountains grizzly bear evidence is very obvious. The bears dig up great chunks of soil looking roots to feed on. Sometimes you find several acres that have been rooted up. When we would get to these areas we would make as much noise as possible as the idea is that the bear doesn't  want to see you and will run away. I have never seen a grizzly bear in the wild even though we've gone by some very recent diggings.

    I have never hiked in this area as there are many other areas that have easier access. These photos are from the Abraham Lake area. 

You can se the road along the lake so you get an idea of altitude. 

   The two people who  were killed were very experienced hikers. They were well prepared for bears. It's very sad that they likely did all the right things but were still killed.