In the fifties, light pollution wasn't even a thing. For a few years, our electricity was provided by a windmill hooked to a series of glass batteries that were stored behind the porch. There was enough power to have electric lights. Off-grid, eh? Then electricity came to the district. My Dad might have declined it because of the expense but everyone on the line had to sign up or it was a no go.
When the sun went down, it was dark. Once we got the power we could have a yard light so that going out after sunset didn't put us in danger of wandering off into the wilderness. Eventually, the bulb in the yard light burned out. You can see changing it was going to be a problem. My Dad had his trusty farmhand but someone had to ride up on the lift to change the bulb. It was not going to be Mom. I stood near the back of the lift and with Dad at the controls, was raised
high enough to screw the old bulb out and the new one in. Again, no helmet, parachute, or special shoes to grip the farmhand. The whole operation lasted, maybe, 10 minutes. I wasn't traumatized and am not afraid of heights. I enjoyed being trusted to do this little job.
Maybe there was something about me and being lowered and raised to perform small tasks. I went to a one room country school and I don't recall any policy about cut-off temperatures for going outside. We went outside and when we came in, our mitts were covered with a snow-ice combination. We would place them around the grate that covered the furnace vent. For some reason, it was a couple of feet high and about two feet on each side. The grate had been bent away from the vent's walls and the mittens would fall into the gap and down toward a metal platform. (Not a fiery inferno.) Every so often, the grate was lifted and I was lowered into the vent to collect the mitts. They were a fire hazard and in the day, you didn't just buy new mitts. Kids (and adults) were expected to look after their things.
When I think about it, my parents, my teacher, and other neighbours would likely be reported for endangering their children. We survived to face much more dangerous situations.
We lived on a farm and the running water (when we were old enough) was my brother and myself. The farm had its own well. Like all infrastructure, a well has to maintained. My parents noticed bits of the wooden cribbing in the water hauled to the house. The cribbing had to be fixed and then the fallen bits had to be retrieved.
That's where my Dad and I came in. Him, with his trusty farmhand, a bit like the one pictured above and me, the small enough one. He secured a seat (short plank) to a length of rope and then fastened it to the lift of the farm hand. The well was opened and I, sitting, on the plank was lowered into the well with a small bucket. When I was close enough, I fished the wood from the cribbing out and put it in the bucket. I had had plenty of instruction and warnings about carefully doing the task. I can remember looking up at the circle of light that marked the ground's surface, the intense cold of the well water on my bare feet, and not feeling particularly afraid. My Dad knew what he was doing. Once I had as much wood gathered as I could, I was then raised back to the surface, safe and sound. Our well was repaired and that was that.
Imagine, all this was accomplished without a special helmet (no helmet at all), no safety belt, no padded seat and no waterproof well-cleaning shoes. (Not even a snorkel.) I emerged from the experience, unscathed.
I'm not trying to denigrate safety or caring for kids. (My Dad was the best.) I am saying that protecting children too much doesn't help them in the long run.
I don't have to get up for work, show up for work or do work. (Ha! That's if cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. aren't work.) I do have a lot of time available and have had for a while. When I was working I talked about how I wanted time to write. So have I produced the great Canadian novel?? No. I do have three drafts of different attempts (although I was never so full of hubris as to imagine they would or could be great.) All that time? I worked teaching for 33 years and my natural laziness now has rein. I write when I want to. I have published a few short stories (even have been paid for them once or twice.) I maintain, sporadically this blog.
Last winter I got brave enough to join a group of people who meet twice a week to paint. Most of them are using water colour and the different styles among the 8- 10 artists are interesting. One lady creates delicate, very pretty paintings. Another can improve upon the images she finds, sometimes on the internet, sometimes in advertising. Her drawing is to envy. Several of the artists have been painting in different media for some time. There is one person working in oils at present and another acrylics. The informal leader of the group is our cheerleader. In her enthusiasm, she grabs your painting, holds at a distance and exclaims, "See, do you see how good it is?" In her "bag of art" she has selection of mats in various sizes and colours. Choosing one of them, she will put it around your art and say, "Just look at it now. O, you have to frame this one." I am back with the group this fall and winter. It is an excellent way to make new friends, perhaps develop a skill and most of all enjoy some cheer as the dark days of December descend.
Retirement gives me the time, but I have found it has nurtured my talent for procrastination. If there is an unpleasant task? Why don't I do it tomorrow? If I've hit a more difficult section of writing? Maybe if I let the subconscious work on it. Should I finish an art piece? Taking everything out without a big block of time isn't very productive. Perhaps, that's my true creativity in the freedom retirement has offered. I can make excuses with the best.
Technology, the Beguiling Friend
A couple of years ago, my eight year old (at the time) grandson asked, “Grandma, how did you learn all that technology?” He was trying to be kind because my skills with computer, smart phone, and tablet are limited. Still I fumble my way through.
The question came back to me recently when a friend who has not wanted a cell phone decided it was time to get one. That’s when I thought, ‘technology reaches out and snags you.’ That’s how it happens. So I do have an answer for how I learned the technology.
I didn’t want to be left behind and left out. I was still working when computers started to gain importance and they have not become less necessary. They may not have made life simpler but they have made it possible to track way too many things.
I digress. Our first computer was an Apple 11e. It wouldn’t have come close to the capabilities of the most basic smart phone, yet it could word process and more and more programs were developed to “make work easier.” No internet, of course. Then came the Apple MacIntosh, much easier to use but still not internet compatible. The first computers (by now the schools used PCs) to connect to the internet that I used were at the school where I worked. My son, in grade 8 or 9, searched Chocolate Chip Cookies in innocence. Up popped the page of a well-endowed, ummmm, woman of ill-repute and of course, black. A foreshadowing of all the evils that the internet and social media would make possible.
It just kept growing. Now I have two tablets…my old iPad is, like me, slowing down. It can do all I need if I just give it time. My smaller Samsung E was a “gift” from Telus. All I used them for is scrolling Facebook, writing the odd email, occasional reading of the Edmonton Journal and the rare book I download from my library. I do some on-line banking, I pay some bills on-line. The scary thing is if you have not kept up at all, you are truly left behind.
And BEWARE the senior selfie.
The long daylight hours are over. It seems the sun is in a hurry to slip over the horizon and darkness descends so quickly. The air chills, even if the daytime temperature is high.
On our walk this morning, Scruffy and I see a man with his tarped boat. I ask if he's getting it ready to store for the winter. He shakes his head. "We're going on a last fishing trip," he says. Everyone feels the next season looming but plans to enjoy the fall.
Fall is vibrant with colour and brisk air. Skies deepen their blue and once it freezes, slough water is a cobalt hue. Shadows lengthen and contour the hollows and hills. Swaths line fields and already combines are working. Ah, fall. Too bad you are so fleeting.
The Cypress Hills in Alberta do not feature the same towering conifers as they do in Saskatchewan but they come with their own charm. The transition from prairie to hills and forest is rapid. The Pelicans on Elkwater Lake welcomed us and then because the weather was forecast to be rainy, we headed out the evening we arrived. In the second picture, in the distance you can see a small bit of water that is Reesor Lake. The other view is the miles that this high point provides from where the ice age 10,000 years ago didn't reach.
Reesor Lake in the evening light is stunning. It is stocked with rainbow trout and there are upwards of 30 pelicans enjoying the bounty. Fisherman were hopeful as they slip-bobbed from the shore. Other birds fished, as well. From a distance, I saw the splash as one dived to capture supper. The little doe was grazing in the grounds of the Lodge and cabins. As you can see, it's a mule deer. The next morning, when rain threatened as promised we drove to Horseshoe Canyon. You can see the lowering clouds and the canyon beyond the trees. Next is a view of Elkwater Lake. We tried for a walk but suddenly grey clouds came in and sent us back to the car. These are resident geese of Elkwater Lake. They had one chick but I took the picture from the car. The up and down threats of their heads let me know it was a good decision.
Wednesday morning was RAIN. When there was a break, we tried to take a little drive, perhaps back to Reesor Lake. The fog thickened into what for us prairie dwellers seemed like a pea-souper. This is what the road looked like, the trees eerily draped in grey. In the evening, there was a bit of sun. This abandoned farmhouse was on the southern side of the Hills on the way to the border. Yes- after a crappy day (weatherwise), the setting sun painted the sky in delicate pinks and peaches.
Of course, the next morning dawned bright and sunny as we had to head out. Medicine Hat was a good stop and the Siiamus teepee has beautiful paintings by Indigenous artists, depicting their culture and history.
The cactus bloomed on a bank near one of Medicine Hat's golf courses. Below my intrepid travelling companion is watching nervously as I scrambled up to get my picture. She would have called 911, had I rolled to the parking lot, I think. After lunch, we went for a walk on Police Point along the South Saskatchewan River. The bull snake sunning itself on the path looked dead. HA! He was playing dead AND we thought he was a rattlesnake. There are a few rattlers in Medicine Hat and the bull snake takes advantage of its venomous cousin to scare predators off. It worked on us. Lastly, the tail-end, so to speak, was this little albino bunny in the parking lot. Great little getaway and the weather was a minor annoyance. You make your fun.
I thought that the blog could use a face-lift. I'm tired of its appearance but after a chat with the on-line help, I've decided to leave well enough alone. If I wanted to put all the blogs together, it would involve way more time than I think I have left so the blog remains much as it was.
Because I'm in a bad mood after having another little tech adventure I'm including this spring blossom. Part of the urge to change the blog came from the weather. It's cold, very windy and has rained. My tomato plants (in pots) were blown over and the blossoms aren't as beautiful although I expected them to be totally stripped from the trees and they aren't.
I should concentrate on making my posts more creative and interesting. The format and look of the blog isn't as important as the content so I guess it is back to the drawing board. A confession- I do pay a fee to have this site and I also thought I might make more use of it if I gave it a new look.
Yes, those are my knobbly old feet with (gasp) bare toenails. Yesterday the temperature caught us by surprise. I'm starting to wonder about the skills of the resident forecaster because it was +18. He didn't warn me at all. I subbed in the afternoon and as I was walking into the yard at home, I thought, 'We should take the dogs and go out to the river for a wiener roast.'
I stepped into the house about the same time as the forecaster was arriving from playing music at the local seniors' residence. The first thing out of his mouth was, "We should have a wiener roast."
Done. And it was a smokey roast and that's what I mean. We did stop and get a couple of beers to wash them down. Very plain and very good. There's nothing like the first smokey over the open fire unless maybe it's the first bbq of the year. (We don't bbq in winter.) The sun felt warm and the gophers were gamboling across the fields. Ravens and crows were having what sounded like a noisy speed dating event and the geese honked overhead. When their cacophony quieted, it was quiet.
We sat enjoying the sun until the clouds cooled it down. What a great evening.
I do know that the forecast is for rain tomorrow morning and it might be mixed with snow. This is Alberta in April after all. Ha! It won't last. I think spring has arrived.
A terrible, blurry photo but I was lucky to catch them at all. You'll have to believe me when I tell you they are bald eagles. On my way to Riverdale, I saw one bald eagle at the top of a tree along a secondary road, a little surprising but eagles are seen around here. I had seen a newsclip about the Bald Eagle flyway through the Alberta Rockies recently. The mountains form a channel that lets the eagles soar for kilometres toward mating ground farther north. Except this is eastern Alberta, close to the Saskatchewan border, not that much more north than the flyway. When I reached Riverdale and had taken the dogs closer to the river, I noticed eagles flying overhead. I even missed one that was sitting on the top of a dead tree only 50 feet or so from me, until it flew off. Then I was treated to an aerial display, where two eagles locked talons and cartwheeled. Were they mating? There were two such pairs and there was another lone bird. The cartwheels didn't last long and when I got home, I consulted Mr. Google. When the eagles are really engaged, they lock talons and twirl over and over, only releasing their grip just before they crash into the ground. (The odd time they hit.) Bald eagles don't copulate in the air but the locked talons and cartwheels are part of the mating rite. What I observed was more likely some preliminary showing off and tussling. The main event will be later and not in the air. The presence of five birds indicates the "foreplay" was likely part of competing for and finding a suitable mate. Bald eagles mate for life so perhaps there is a nest along the river valley somewhere.
Canada geese are everywhere right now. These three were enjoying the sun from the ice on the opposite side of the river to me. They were good-sized geese.
If I'd been more alert, I could have taken this picture. Sadly, it isn't mine.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.