Thursday, March 28, 2024


        I have ranted about my frustrations with call centers several times on this blog. Today, I had another very unpleasant experience with a call center.

        We had received a letter a few days ago from the bank telling us if we didn't want a certain investment to roll over automatically that we should phone a certain number to tell them not to roll the investment over. 

       The Micro Manager was doing that piece of business this morning. I was busy stretching but I could hear the conversation as the speaker phone was on. They asked for a couple of the usual identity questions . Then they kept going on. I came into the office to pay more attention and finally I told the micro Manager that these questions were unnecessary as far as identity was concerned . Oh yes they said we are updating our information and continued with pressure. They asked the Micro Manager's age. They already had her birth date. When they asked if she was a Canadian citizen and if she filed income tax in Canada , that was the end. 

     I felt that they were going on a fishing expedition to get information to sell me more product. It felt creepy. I began to think that they were scammers.  They really put the pressure on for answers to the last questions but we stuck to our guns and said no way. 

     So, unless we answered the questions , they were not going to do the piece of business we were asking for. So the piece of business was not done and we are contacting the local bank manager. 

    I'm thinking about the part on the phone introduction that says "This call may be monitored." I hope it was monitored

Monday, March 25, 2024



            Country poets come in many forms. Their claim to fame is that they tell the local rural story with a passion.

             Uncle Tom was our rural community's poet. Our part of western Canada was settled by homesteaders about 1905. Uncle Tom got his homestead ( 160 acres for $10.00) . I'm sure that he had far less than 8 years of education but his poetry writing is well done. He told stories through his poetry. If there was a community celebration, Uncle Tom would have a poem.

         My parents were married in Feb of 1938. They were married in another province and came back to the farm a few days after their marriage. Notice the date. Economic conditions were terrible at that time. However, it didn't stop the community from  having a party for the new couple. It was a time when small wedding gifts were given. People got together , sang, played games and visited. 

      To mark the occasion uncle Tom wrote a poem .

 So here's the poem Uncle Tom wrote for Mom and Dad.

       This poem has been a family favorite.

Saturday, March 23, 2024


       A state funeral was held today for Brian Mulroney, former Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 to 1993. 

       I knew a state funeral was coming up but I had no intention of following it. However, today CBC said that the following programs would be preempted so that the state funeral could be broadcast. The Micro Manager had her radio on and before I turned it off I was hooked into listening to the whole ceremony. It was interesting and I'm glad I listened to it. We had a good chat after it was over. 

      Brian Mulroney was first elected in 1984 with a huge majority in parliament. In the next 8 years Mulroney brought in many very important pieces of legislation which changed Canada to this day. He brought in the GST which was very unpopular , but we still have it today. He established a free trade agreement and acid rain with the United States. He helped eliminate apartheid from South Africa. He also worked very hard to make Canada a more unified country. 

    Many of the pieces of legislation brought in were very unpopular. Mulroney did not worry about that. He just carried on setting up legislation that he thought would benefit Canada. He was not worried about winning elections. He just wanted to do things that would benefit Canada. At the end of his term he lost the election big time. 

    Wouldn't it be great today if political parties focused on bring about good things for the country instead of spending most of their time trying to win the next election. 

      These things were remembered today along with his personal attributes. A funny story was told when his daughter's boyfriend asked Muloney if he could make a proposal to him about his daughter. Mulroney's reply was "What proposal?" 

I'm very glad that I listened to this ceremony today. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024


      A few days ago we had very pleasant weather. We had highs of 11 and 12 C for several days. These are above normal for us at this time of year.

      Unfortunately, I told someone about the pleasant weather.

      What should immediately show up on the forecast? SNOW! Not just snow , but lots of snow and for many days and the temperatures would also drop.

      I should have kept my mouth shut. Here are a few photos to show you what it's like. We've ad about 10 cm of snow which is a lot for us. 

      It was very dull. I tried to take a cut in the snow to show the depth of the snow.

                   The juniper with a load of snow. 
                          Spruce trees loaded with snow.
                                   Street view

My neighbor cleaning snow off his deck. 

Monday, March 18, 2024


      I discovered Garrison Keillor a long time ago.  How a Western Canadian Prairie boy came across Keillor , I'll never know. I think I came across MPR a few times when  I was living in the Arctic and was bored and had been going through various radio frequencies. Somehow I landed on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio.)

      Keillor told stories based on a fictional Lake Wobegon community. He had many  characters in the community and it was always funny. It was similar to Canada's Stuart Mclean who had a fictional community of neighbors. Both included much music in their shows. Keillor also had A Prairie Home Companion. 

    Check out Keillor's a young Lutheran's guide to the symphony orchestra. He also had a story about a college kid who was passionate about college radio. One day the kid had worked hard preparing a show but forgot to turn the station on so he talked to himself. 

    So a few weeks go I picked up a Keillor's Pilgrims: a Wobegon Romance expecting it to be humorous like some of his other books. The book was neither funny nor interesting. 

    Then for the first time I looked up Keillor on line and found out that he was not a very nice guy. He faced various charges about indecent behavior towards females. He had many conflicts with MPR  and  publishers.

    So I find much of his material interesting, I was surprised to find that he led a very troubled life. 

Saturday, March 16, 2024


       I was listening to my favorite radio station and program Tuesday morning when they had a half hour on northern health. They were talking to a former MLA and cabinet minister about northern health. Very few people have a family physician. Very few people have access to hospital treatment and fewer yet to long term care. 

     It's similar to the situation I described about a murder that took place. People are sent south to something that is very strange. They have different food to eat. They have challenges with the language. They don't have  visits from family and friends. Sometimes the visits keep people going. The people back home worry and don't get information about the patient.

    In 1963 to 1966 I taught in Inuvik and we had little kids that stayed in the hostel and were 1000 miles from home. 

   What caught my ear on this program, is that for long term care some seniors had to be 1000 miles from home. The distance from Iqaluit to Ottawa is 1305 miles.  I'd heard this number before.  Right? I thought things had changed a bit. 

    Seniors are taken to Ottawa from Iqaluit. They are 1000 miles from home in a strange environment. 

   One example of a problem made me snicker. Some seniors would be given pajamas and asked to wear them. Some of these people had never ever worn pajamas. They didn't like pajamas and weren't comfortable wearing them.

    Then I thought of myself. I don't wear pajamas. I dislike them. So the thought of me being given pajamas got me thinking about their problems in a very personal way. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024


      We've had a week of bright , warm, sunny weather. We are calling it spring.

      Spring here is a little different than warmer areas because of our winter. I've told you often enough about our cold and that residents here don't really mind the cold. What happens with the constant cold is that the ground freezes. That causes some difference in our spring. Sometimes the ground will freeze down to a depth of 8 ft. Frozen ground is rock hard. Before the days of heavy equipment very little excavation was done in the winter. In the country at one time, graves were dug by hand. One thing they did was to light a coal fire and this would thaw the ground. 

      Okay, because the ground is frozen the water from melting snow and ice has no here to go. The frozen soil can't absorb moisture. So as a result my street is a slow moving  mess of  water , slush and ice. We talk about spring run off when water from melting snow and ice drains into small creeks. 

     We also have a problem with dirt and gravel roads in the spring "when the frost is coming out". There are soft spots and hard spots because of the uneven thawing of the ground. So holes form in the road and then when rain comes these holes fill with water. We have road bans which keep heavy equipment off the roads for a few weeks. Most activity in the oil industry ceases in the spring because the heavy equipment is not allowed on roads. 

    So my spring has pleasantly sprung. But do you know what is in my forecast three days from now? 5 to 10 cm of snow!

Sunday, March 10, 2024


      Well, good old daylight savings time has rolled around once again. If daylight savings time was in a popularity contest it would get close to zero. 

      At one time the change in time did not bother me. I just didn't sense the one hour change ahead or in the fall when we went back to standard time. 

      However, now the time change does bother me. It takes a few days to get used to it. 

     Changing clocks doesn't bother me as the micro Manager changes everything but one and that's because she doesn't know how to do it. 

     Today most of us have a time device which is accurate up to the second. The old wind up clocks would stop and then you were in trouble. You might go a few days with out the time. Once we got phones we could call the central office and get the time.

      Dad always had a grandfather clock. Not the tall one but one that sat on the shelf. One of my brothers is the keeper of grandfather clocks. 

     It was funny going to the old churches as people arrived at times after the service started and sometimes long before the service started. 

    I now hope that we do away with daylight savings time but I don't think it will happen in my life time. 

    Right now I'm trying to fool myself about the time I should go to bed

Friday, March 8, 2024


     This morning I was listening to my favorite radio station. CBC, and they were talking about Eleanor Collins, Canada's first lady in jazz. I could not call up any clear memories of this lady. Eleanor Collin was the topic as she had just died at age 104.

    There was more chatter and then they played some of her music. That brought it back instantly. I remembered. It goes back to the days of radio when there were programs instead of wall to wall music or talk. So in the 40's and early fifties Eleanor sang on the radio. So in those days of radio you were exposed to the great performers and once you hear her you will remember the music even if you don't remember the singer.

    They played music from a concert when she was 95. It was still the great voice. 

    At that time there was lots of racism. Eleanor moved her family to Vancouver and the residents didn't want a black family in the neighborhood. She persisted. she taught music in the schools and showed how talented she was and the kids were exposed to a great singer. 

    So tonight I will go to you tube and look for some Eleanor Collis.

    I recommend that all of you take a few minutes to find Eleanor Collins and listen to her. 


Thursday, March 7, 2024


       After a week of cold, nasty, dull weather things changed yesterday Mar. 6. 

       We had clear, bright, blue skies. However, it was still cold. We have one more day before it warms up. 

     So  I have some photos from the yard which really don't show how bright things are. With the new snow it's very bright so sunglasses are a must. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


      Now I like winter. I don't mind the cold. I like snow. I like wind and prairie blizzards. 

     Now having said all that, I'm about to do a 180.

    This winter has been very different from our usual winter. Generally it's been a mild winter with above average temperatures. We've had long stretches of above average winter.

    This photo was taken from a window in my house. It was very dull. 

   However , I don't like constant change to the extremes. This week we've had lows of minus 28 C and highs of around minus 20 C. This is the first week of March! We should not be getting these temperatures, although they do happen. The week before we had similar very frigid weather. Then it was mild and thawed so that we had ice. We've had icy conditions all winter. I like to walk but I stay away from ice now. I watch kids who look for the longest  patch of very slippery ice and then slide. If they fall,  no harm is done. If I fall, I could remain broken for the rest of my life. 

    This winter with the mild spells we have lots of ice. 

    So I would like a winter that starts with snow and cool temperatures at the beginning of Nov. Then it can gradually get colder with snow piling up. Then in Mar. and April it can warm up and snow and ice slowly melt.

   However, the world doesn't work like this. We have a great variety as weather change all the time. 

   Maybe it's time to buy a gym membership and walk inside. We have a city facility with a 400 m walking and running track. 

Saturday, March 2, 2024


     George, my first cousin once removed, can ask some questions that are far out of the box. George reads my blog but does not comment but makes contact by messenger. These are great questions and make one go back and take a good look at what was said. I always think faster than I type. Neither one of them is very fast. 

    George wanted to know on what basis I said that the skills and loss of will were lost . I should have said much of it was lost. They still celebrate traditions but do not depend on hunting for food. 

     First , I didn't stress enough that this was in 1967 -69. It was a much different age and time. I made a statement that the Inuit lost hunting skills and a will to hunt. Maybe I should have said most. 

    The economy in the Arctic was changing rapidly. There was much employment for wages. There were various DEW lines constructed in the 50's. Many men were employed. They had lots of money.  However, this was largely part time. They did not have any dogs and this was before skidoos. So it was difficult to hunt. 

   There were many sad reasons as to why there was  next to no hunting. 

   Inuit were nomads. They followed the game. Once they moved into villages they were much less mobile. A hunter now went out with other men on skidoos. Women who were a part of the hunting did not go. Women did the butchering. Women prepared the skins for trade or use in making clothing. All clothing I saw in 67 to 69 was made of cloth. There was fur trim. So their hunting pattern was severely disrupted. Once you get used to a heated wood house it's hard to go back to staying in a snow house. 

    Where I was, the hunters would go out in the fall for a week or ten days hunting caribou. They would come back with about 20 animals. This wouldn't go far to feed 200 people. They always gave me some meat. They also went fishing for Arctic char for a week or ten days. They also included me and gave me fish. Arctic char is the best fish I ever ate. Locally they hunted seals. They may have got  3 or 4 seals in one day and then may have not gone sealing for another  week. One little seal can be eaten very quickly by a dozen people. They gave me seal liver which was the best liver I ever ate. However seal meat was awful. I tried to cook it. It is better frozen and raw or heated a bit. 

    Where I was there were 4 or 5 good hunters and the rest went out rarely and didn't get much as they didn't know where to find the animals. Sitting at a seal breathing hole waiting for a seal takes great patience and it's incredibly cold.

    They were subsistence hunters. In other words they hunted to survive. 

    George, at one time our dads farmed with horses. Neither one of us are farmers or would want to be farmers. There are too many other opportunities. I wonder if either one of us could work with horses. Most of all we could not make a living. We have found more lucrative and challenging ways of making a living.

    A similar thing has happened to the Inuit. they have found better ways to make a living. Dr Joey Carpenter from Banks Island was a surgeon at the hospital in Brandon Man, He practiced for close to 40 years. At one time the Carpenter family was the only family living on Banks Island. 

   Yes, today some people do a lot of hunting. Much of it is for sport. 

   It's a complicated issue and a brief over view is not enough to understand the situation. 

    This is in the western Arctic. I didn't catch any fish that day