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W - Wondering Why, When and Where?
Posted On 02/20/2018 22:16:25

For those of us who are always trying to learn stuff, we often ask “Why?” We learn in many areas in our lives, and so much of it seems to cause us to ask “Why?” Some of the answers will never come, some will come with an explanation we can’t understand, but often, the answer helps us to learn the “behind the scenes” facts. I started thinking about questions I’ve been asking, and decided to share some of them with my friends. I would be pleased and surprised if I receive a plausible answer, but many questions can never be answered by others; we have to figure out the answer ourselves.

Here are a few of things that I have wondered about… some are silly, and some are serious.

  • Why have I been told that there are no calories in birthday cake? Can the answer be considered to be a birthday present from a thoughtful friend?

  • Why does a person want to train so hard to be an Olympian? We’ve been hearing the last few days of the sacrifices that athletes endure, just to compete against International athletes? Is it only the competition, or more to be in the public eye, and to meet new friends?

  • Why do people give up their private family and personal life to be a politician? It is supposed to be to help their fellow citizens, but it often looks more like they are thinking about the huge paycheck and the ‘perks’! Many of them don’t look too attractive on TV!

  • Why do I travel twenty miles to buy groceries, without making sure that I have my shopping list in my purse?

  • Why do some people think that the rules don’t apply to them, on the road, in the neighborhood, on the Internet, and in the family? Do they forget to consider the consequences?

  • Why don’t we eat pizza for breakfast, and serve dessert as an appetizer?

  • Why do we complain about the weather when we don’t have any control over it? Do we just want to hear ourselves whine?

  • Why do we want to be good neighbors and good friends, then lock ourselves away from contact with them? Do we think we have to be “professionals” to be an acceptable friend?

  • Why do so many of us become so “picky” about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the place where we live? There are so many in this world who don’t have enough food to eat, clothes to keep them comfortable, and four walls and a roof to home.

  • Why is there so much evil in this world? What is life going to be like for our grandchildren? Where have we placed God in our lives?

Tags: Questions Friends Learning


V – Visiting Vancouver and Victoria
Posted On 02/11/2018 20:50:13

In my growing up years, I could never even dream of travelling through the Rocky Mountains to the west coast. My mother had a fear of narrow roads high up in the mountains, didn’t like crossing high bridges, and wouldn’t even consider a ride on an airplane. As a child, I thought it a bit strange, but my father never tried to change her mind, so we stuck to the flat prairies. Fortunately, our American relatives lived in the Dakotas, and we made several car trips to visit them.

My husband was born and raised in Manitoba, and his dad had an old truck for farm work but never did much driving. They could walk to town for groceries and the mail. When Ed was 15 years old, he came to Alberta to join his older brother, and to be 700 miles from home was like moving to another planet. However, he only went to the mountains to watch his brother snow ski. Even that didn’t happen often because his brother had had a construction business to run which was more important than having fun.

We got married in May (almost 55 years ago), but we had little money to spend on travel. We had Ed’s brother build a house for us in the town where we met, which caused us to be much more careful with the little money we had for ourselves. Our plans were to drive to the town of Banff for one night, and then move into our new home. Those plans changed drastically during our wedding reception. Ed’s uncle and aunt were unexpected guests when they appeared at our wedding. We did send an invitation but didn’t consider that they may attend; they lived in Vancouver… on the other side of the mountains! They came to our head table with a small gift… an envelope with a note and a key. We were invited to travel to Vancouver and move into their home because they would be in our city as interim pastors to cover for an ailing resident pastor. We had already received a cash gift from Ed’s father, who was not able to attend our wedding, so we decided then and there that we should not pass up this opportunity to go west and see the Pacific Ocean. I had never seen fruit trees in blossom and Ed had never driven mountain roads like the ones west of Banff and into British Columbia. What a treat!

A relative in Vancouver presented us with tickets for the ferry that sailed to Victoria, and to visit the Butchart Gardens. We had never seen such beauty in a garden; the gardens on our home farms were vegitables to be harvested and preserved for our meals in the winter.

Two years ago, when our granddaughter was attending University of Victoria, we were able to travel to see her. We took her with us to visit the Butchart Gardens again, and it is even more beautiful than when we saw it the first time. It brought back so many wonderful memories that we also shared with Emily. When she came home for the summer, we showed her the pictures that we took on our honeymoon.

Click here to see some pictures of the gardens.



Tags: Travels Photography


U – Utah: Unique and Unforgettable
Posted On 01/14/2018 21:48:42

I hope that all my "cyber" friends had a wonderful and unforgettable celebration of Christmas, and that you are looking forward to many new and wonderful "happenings" in 2018. It's time that I got back to my "routine" too, which has included my "Blog Alphabet Challenge". I still have a few more to complete, and they certainly will be a challenge.

My husband and I have done quite a bit of traveling in our years together, and one of the longest road trips that we made was across Canada, and returning home on the U.S. side. Our travel buddies were retired farmers, and they were so pleased to take this trip with us because they had done very little traveling outside of our own province. Each of us made a “wish list” of places we would like to see. Ed selected Sudbury, Ontario to visit the Nickel Mine that had some family connection in the 1800s. Our friends selected Niagara Falls and the Amish community in Southern Ontario, and I was anxious to travel the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, and any other place where I could take many pictures so that I could “relive” the experience when we were back home.

We saw the “colors” of autumn in the Maritime provinces and the eastern U.S. we attended Celtic music concerts, bypassed large cities because there was too much traffic and we didn’t want to get lost (no GPS was in existence yet), and when we saw road signs that peaked our interest, we turned off the freeway to investigate. One of the most unique and unforgettable side trips we took was our visit to Arches National Park in Utah. We had never seen such terrain and natural creations. I don’t know how to describe what we saw, so I am sharing some of my photos. Click on the link below for a quick tour of the Park. The van in the picture is our vehicle.


ARCHES NATIONAL PARK


Vacation 2008 032.JPG

Tags: Travels Photography


T - Tinsel, Toys, and Turkey
Posted On 12/10/2017 22:08:32

I gave myself a bit of a break from writing stories. I keep hoping that others will join our fun and submit some of their stories. In the meantime, I still have a few letters to complete this round of the Alphabet Challenge, so I'm at it again!

I’m sure you will have guessed that this blog has to do with Christmas. Well, part of it is but it is a story about our family, mixed together with some my childhood memories. 

Growing up on a farm, we made ‘do’ with a lot of things that we now take for granted. Christmas was a huge occasion and celebration, at home, at school and at church. We didn’t have close neighbors, but there were a lot of relatives who gathered at many homes for celebrations of food (I don’t know what else to call it). Everything was homemade, starting with Christmas fruit cake that was made no later than October. It had to age properly in a stone crock, with a bit of brandy added to give it a unique flavor. For a family who never touched any alcohlic beverages, this was always a challenge to have someone who was brave enough to venture into a beer parlor to purchase the “vile” stuff, without being recognize, just because of the Christmas cake.

The men in the famly were responsible to find an evergreen tree that they could cut down and bring home for moms and kids to decorate. We didn’t have any electricity, but sometimes Mom would light candles and place them in holders that were attached to the tree branches. I don’t remember anyone making comments about fire hazards, because we used koiloil lamps to light the room every evening. I do remember how important tinsel was to decorate the tree, wo give it some sparkle. It wasn't a lot of fun picking all those glittery strings off the tree after Christmas, but we needed to save it for next year.

The most important item we looked for in the mail was the Sears cataloge. The first Sears Wish Book was printed in 1933, and it contained toys and other holiday-related merchandise. We spent hours looking at wonderful toys and “store-bought” clothes. If we didn’t pick the most expensive item, but kept in mind that Mom and Dad didn’t have very much money, we were likely to receive that as a gift. What joy it was to find a new doll, or even a toy truck, under the Christmas tree.

The Christmas Party at my country school was a community party... parents and neighbors (even if they didn’t have any children attending the school) joined the school pupils for an evening of games and singing. Santa Claus would drop by with his sack of gifts, and we all went home with a small gift (supplied to Santa by our parents), and a brown paper bag filled with treats (gum, suckers, nuts in the shell, etc.) and topped with a 'Japanese' orange, now called a Mandarine orange. We would receive similar treat bags at church, after the program presented by the Sunday School children. We learned poems, often referred to as resitations, and sang songs, and some got to dress up like shepherds and wise men, or even Mary and Joseph, with a real baby in a manger. There was nothing professional about the participants, only joy and laughter, as we learned the real story of Christmas.

In our family now, we have a different take on Christmas. We love to get together, even if we have to travel a long distance. Only the school-age grandchildren receive gifts, with one rule for the grandparents. Only ONE gift for a grandchild, and that doesn’t mean one big box the multiple items inside. It was our two adult kids who suggested some twenty years ago that we should stop stressing over Christmas shopping because none of us “need” anything. We try to focus on what we can give, not what we can get.

Oh... about the turkey! What can I say about my growing up experience. I eat a bit now, because that is “what we do at Christmas”, along with a helping of Brussel Sprouts that is a traditional “must”, even though very few in the family like that vegitable. On the farm, my mother raised turkeys, and I played with them. I didn’t like eating a piece of my playmate, especially the ones that responded when I called out their name.

Tags: Christmas Memories


S - SOME SPECIAL STITCHES
Posted On 11/23/2017 23:10:09

Stitches... different forms that I learned to do. Some I mastered, some were terrible, and some I only experienced.

Embroidery stitches were common when I was a child. My mother taught me the running stitch, the chain stitch, the French knot (to name a few), and she would iron a stencil design of flowers on a pillow case or a flour sack tea towel to give a personal touch. They were a good place for me to practice what I was learning.

My mother also tried to teach me how to knit, the European style. I later learned the reason the knitting books were hard to follow was because I learned to hold the yarn in my left hand which was easy to pick up with the right needle. The common method was to hold the yarn in the right hand, and throw the yarn over the left needle. Of course, it didn't work for me because it felt backwards. I didn't stick to knitting for very long. It was more fun to do spool knitting, to make “cords” of yarn. The tool used was a wooden thread spool, with small nails inserted by my Dad, and a darning needle to handle the stitches. 

I experienced surgical stitches several times as I was growing up, and learned to apply simple stitches in my nursing career, particularly when my first job was in a 19-bed hospital, where we didn't always have an available doctor. Some stitches were done with nylon thread, and later surgical stitches that dissolved.

My favorite shift in that country hospital was the night shift, and we often didn't have a “full house”, which gave us time between rounds to find things to do that would keep us awake, and avoid boredom. An older staff nurse was happy to help another nurse and myself to get back to knitting. She gave us a pattern (all knit stitches) of a baby shawl, and suggested that it was a big project for us, but we could have a very special shawl finished when we welcomed our first baby. Neither of us even had a boyfriend, but we took up the challenge. Two years later, we brought our son home, wrapped in the beautiful shawl that I made. We also used it when we brought our daughter home. I kept it in a memory box for many years, but because it was created with wool yarn (no polyester yet), it had faded, and shrank because of a mistake in washing it in hot water. I enjoyed that shawl so much, that I made a new washable shawl, in time for the arrival of our first grandchild in our two families.

My adult stitch hobby was petite-point. With a silk mesh in a frame, and the instructions in the form of a graph with each color coded, the project was started in the center of the mesh. The squares of mesh were meticulously counted, and the change of colors were followed and marked on the graph.

A similar stitch project was called needlepoint, and was done with wool. I never attempted cross-stitch, but it was very popular at the time. I finally had to give up petit-point because my eyes didn't work as well.

Not willing to stop hand activities... I played the piano or organ, and being proficient on a typewriter, I hooked several rugs, made raggedy-Anne dolls, and learned to crochet. When my grandkids had enough sweaters, scarves, mitts, and socks, I donated hats and scarves to drop-in centers.

I no longer do any of these projects, since a severe fracture of my dominant hand. The boxes of yarn in my storage space have been donated to a senior group who donate their projects. However, I can still use my eight fingers and two thumbs on my computer.

Here is a link to see some of my projects...

SOME SIMPLE and SPECIAL STITCHES

Tags: Stitches Hobbies Crafts


R - Roaring Reverse Rapids or Falls
Posted On 11/02/2017 22:35:27

On one of our travel adventures with our dear friends, in 1998, we headed to the eastern part of Canada, hoping to visit friends in the maritime provinces. It would be our first visit to that area, and from what we were told by friends, there would be a long list of very interesting places that we could visit, if we did the 3000 mile road trip rather than take a plane. Being tha int all of us were “retired”, our travel time was not limited by responsibilities back at home.

We weren’t disappointed! We visited many places that we had only read about... my husband’s hometown in Manitoba, the nickel mines in Sudbury, Ontario, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Montreal Olympic Stadium, and Pier 21 in Halifax, where my husband’s father landed when he immigrated from England when he was 19 years old, and all alone.

A very unusual spot that we visited was the reversing falls and rapids on the Saint John River in Saint John, New Brunsewick. The rapids, or "falls", are created by a series of underwater ledges which roil the water in either direction, causing a significant navigation hazard, despite the depth of water.

I must say that we didn’t take a boat ride on the river (we could be referred to a “prairie chickens”), but it was fascinating to watch the changing flow of the river. We heard later that the tourist ride didn’t last for very many years because the boats were hard to handle when the water depths kept changing. Whitewater kayaking has now become a challenging sport on the river, but I would never consider trying that either. A seat at the edge of the river, with a great view was enough for us. I did take quite a few pictures, but the quality wasn't the best, so I scanned this picture from a postcard that I purchased when we were there.

reversefalls3a.jpg

There is a lot of information about it online, and if you are interested, get 'Google' to help you. The best way to understand how this phenomenon works, is to be there.

Here are a couple of links with information that I had saved in my photo albums.

Info on Reversing Rapids

Tags: Nature Travels


Q - Quips and Quotes
Posted On 10/28/2017 05:24:07

Here I am, at the “dreaded” ‘q’ letter. However, when I saw the book that my husband was reading, I knew exactly what I would write about. He was reading a book entitled “Uncle John’s Triumphant: The 20th Anniversary Edition of the Bathroom Reader.” Now, don’t laugh; to some folks, that is heavy reading! There are 598 pages in the soft cover edition, and it is hard to hang on to when trying to read in bed, especially when the reader is half asleep. Personally, I haven’t tried it; I have too many other “important” things to read on my computer.

Now that I’ve come up with a couple of ‘q’ words, I went to a dictionary to find the definition of them. This is what I learned…

Definition of Quip: a clever usually taunting remark; a witty or funny observation or response usually made on the spur of the moment.

Definition of Quote: to speak or write (a passage) from another usually with credit acknowledgment.

Here are several examples, by people whose names that you probably recognize:

  • Winston Churchill, well known for his wit and unexpected responses, was asked by a reported if he was prepared to meet his Maker. Churchill’s reply was “I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
  • If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer - Yogi Berra.
  • Never have more children than you have car windows - Erma Bombeck.
  • I think I've discovered the secret of life - you just hang around until you get used to it - Charles M. Schulz.
  • In my ‘never-to-be-humble-opinion’... Dr. Laura.

Can you tell the difference between a quip and a quote?

Now I’m thinking that I should have picked a different ‘q’ word. I could tell you a story about some quills and our dog. Perhaps next time!

Tags: Humor Writers


P - PHOTOS, PICASA, AND POSTCARDS
Posted On 10/26/2017 14:11:39

I have always had a deep fascination with cameras and photos, now evidensed by the bookshelves and boxes filled with photo albums. My mother had a Kodak box camera when I arrived, but took only pictures that she could afford to have developed. I still remember the film, rolled on a spindle, and carefully mounted in her camera. I believe that there were 12 pictures on a roll, which was then taken to town, to the drug store to be developed. She would carefully preserved each picture in the family photo album, anchored with photo corners on black pages. To this day, the quality of those photos remain sharp and clear.

When I entered Nursing Training in 1958, there were only two in my class who owned a camera. Colored slides were the new format, and I took lots of pictures. In 2008, when our class celebrated our 50th Anniversary, I scanned the slides to digital files, and burned them on CDs as a gift for my classmates, which was happily received. It was a timely decision, because the colors had faded over time. I’m sure the CDs are tucked away in many a “memory box”.

Picaso was my digital tool of choice, and even though it has recently been replaced by bigger and better software, I still use it, along with Google Photos. There is so much to choose from these days, and I’m sure that we all have a variety of favorite tools on our computers.

Postcards became one of my “unexpected and delightful” hobbies. I didn’t even know that people actually collected postcards until several years ago, when hubby and I dropped in on an Estate Sale. It was the last day, and we didn’t expect to see much of interest, but... you never know what will catch our eye!

In a back room of the house, I spotted a large shoe box filled with very old postcards. An attached note stated that the cards had been collected by a World War 1 soldier, serving in Europe. The price for the collection was $70.00. I told myself that the price was the reason the cards were still available; who would ever pay that price for used postcards?) A staff lady of the company in charge of the sale approached me, asking if I was interested in the collection. Yes, it is interesting, because of my love of “anything” vintage, but I couldn’t afford the price. She asked if I had any cash in my wallet, because she was open to offers. I checked, and I had $12.35. She told me that I could have the card collection for $10.00. Why not, I told myself; it would be a cheap bit of entertainment for my curious mind.

The more I learned about postcards, the more I realized that I indeed found a treasure. Small books of sepia photos, with onion skin paper separating each photo, and hand-colored photos were in the collection of many locations in Europe. There were also postcards of areas in Canada, that the owner had collected during his training days. Two cards in particular caught my eye... one was taken at a coal mine in my hometown (noted on the back of the card was where the owner had worked as a teen), and one of the Banff Springs Hotel, built in the late 1800s by Canadian Pacific Railway. The postcard was dated 1907, and the hotel was less than half the size that it is today. Wow! Being that I had been doing consignment selling on Ebay, I decided to see if that card would be saleable. In one week, I was paid four times what I had paid for the whole collection.

THAT GOT MY ATTENTION!

Tags: Camera Hobby Photography


O - OpenOffice Offers Options
Posted On 10/19/2017 06:20:17

I have been hooked on computers for years, starting in 1983. I don't remember what, if any, software came with my first computer, but it didn't seem to take long before I learned that Windows was the recommended operating system, unless I was going to university or living in Seattle, where Mac OS preferred. Microsoft Office was recommended to me when I became a serious learner of word processing. It was expensive at the time, and there were segments that I wasn't interested in learning.

Windows kept upgrading, needing my software to be upgraded too, and then there came my desire to learn graphic design. CorelDraw was my next major purchase. Again, I had to learn the vocabulary and tools available. It's one thing to read the instructions, but I also had to have a dictionary within reach so that I could understand what I was reading. My computer skills are self taught; no formal instructions for years, but I progressed to doing contract medical transcribing, and then my home-based graphic design business, When I retired, I no longer needed to design graphics, and the saying “Use It or Lose It” became a reality.

Now, with a more casual approach to computers, and limited income, I began to find tools online that are free. My first big “find” was OpenOffice by Apache. It is every bit as good as MS Office and it is FREE. It is loaded with options, more than this computer “junkie” will ever need. I still love to learn, and there are many opportunities to be creative (with a little bit of help of many Free online tools).

Thanks to TC and his Cloudeight newsletter, filled with good advice, there are many opportunities to keep learning.

Tags: Computers Software Cloudeight




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