Tuesday, May 30, 2017


     A week ago we had a wind storm and some rain with it.  The wind blew all day but the highest winds were from 4:00PM to 6:00 PM.  We had gusts up to 100kph which for this location is a very strong wind.

    Needless to say there was damage. There was little damage to structures but trees suffered a lot of damage. Some trees blew down in the residential areas. The dumb trees chose power lines to fall on. As a result, there were some power outages.

   Out in the bush the story was different. Quite a few trees went down. Trees with some defects in the trunk broke off above the ground. Some trees were completely uprooted. It's amazing how large the root balls can be. The spruce seemed to suffer more damage but many poplars blew down as well.

   This is the worst wind storm I've seen since I moved here in 1969. There was a windstorm in 1978 that took the tops off many spruce trees.

    The city has worked hard to clean things up. First, they made sure that the roads were cleared. Then they cleaned off paved paths and then shale and gravel paths. Later on they will come back and haul away the debris.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


      Spring bird count takes place sometime during the bird breeding season. Of  course, the idea is to count everything we see and hear. I've participated in this event for many years.

       I find spring bird count rather frustrating. Half the breeding birds are on a nest so you won't see them. Many of the breeding birds forage in the new leaves so it's difficult to see them in the leaf canopy. Warblers sing their little hearts out but you can rarely see them amongst the leaves. I was within 3 meters of a yellow warbler yesterday but I didn't see it. If it's windy or hot you see fewer birds . If you go in the afternoon many birds are on their afternoon nap.

       So with all this whining I'm working up to tell you that I had a lousy bird count yesterday. Yes , it was very windy. It was also very bright. So I ended up with 15 species but my numbers were small.

     I count in  ravine area which has many different habitats.There's old growth forest...spruce and poplar. There's riparian area along the stream banks. There are areas of brush. There's even a little grass in some areas.

    So I took some photos of the area but I didn't get any bird photos.

Friday, May 26, 2017


    From time to time I've been known to stop and contemplate where I've been and where I'm going. When I think of life, time is the major factor. You can look back on your story or you can think about what the future may hold.

    When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was very self entered. I came first. I found it difficult to consider others and the stage of life they were in. As young guys we would look at the elderly and sometimes snicker. I wish those people could come back now and have a look at us.

    In short young males think they are invincible and I had a lot of the invincible stuff.

    But lately what's been making me think about things is  most people passing away  are younger than I am! I've just been starting to notice this happening. In today's obituaries, nine of the eleven were younger than I am. So I read into this that I am quite elderly. It also tells me that I have been very fortunate in life to survive and enjoy a good quality of life.

   In between these two times I have had other watershed events that caused me to pause and think. My Mother died when she was 59. I can't deny that I thought she was fairly old. Now I look back and realize how young she was. For the longest time I wondered if I would ever be older than Mom...that is 59.

    When I left home I had a two year old brother. Today that brother is 62. Wow! I left home 60 years ago at the tender age of 17.

    Now I try and maintain some younger friends. One of them waved as he went around the corner tonight. It's important to have friends at all ages but that's a challenge. My birdwatching group has some people in their 50's. I have two very good neighbors who were former students. 

     I must admit that most of my friends are elderly. I have friends whose spouses have dementia. Both of them need support.

   I also have to think ahead in a very realistic way. I have to prepare for some options. What are the living arrangement options? How can I get rid of all my treasures? What's still on my bucket list?

    So 77 is great. I am still able to enjoy physical activity whether work or play. I can still contribute to the community and find satisfaction. 

   As always we take life one day at a time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Species 150 Completed

    As you may know I am a birder. You also may know that I lead a birdwatching group every Saturday morning. Then I can remind you that it's Canada's 150th birthday this year. The birthday is July 1.

    Now when some random chaotic thinker like me puts these things together I can come up with some odd ball ideas. So a few months ago I told you that I had a project for people to find 150 bird species in this region for the celebration of Canada's birthday. The area was defined by the Central Alberta Bird Trail map https://birdingtrailsalberta.com/. If you're interested google  and you will find a down loadable map.  You will also find reported species that have been observed in the area.

   Well, happy surprise. Our 150th bird was reported May 20.

   When I started the project I had no idea how long it would take. To finish in 5 months was a pleasant surprise. There are many very keen birders in the area and they got in the swing of things and reported everything they saw. I had to check to see that the species hadn't already been reported and then record date, location and reporter. I met some new birders on line and I'm sure they will show up in some of our groups.

   Now we will continue counting species until the end of 2017.

    All photos gleefully stolen from the Red Deer Naturalist's face book page.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017


       There was a linden tree in my neighbor's yard for the past 45 years. Linden trees are rare here because they are not hardy enough for our  climate . The tree was planted when a long ago homeowner was given to tree and was to put it in to see how it would do. The original neighbor left a long time ago but the linden tree did well. It was the best of the few linden trees in town. Usually they don't reach maturity because they freeze before they ripen off in the fall. 

      Now the tree was taken down last week because the 5 main stems were starting to split and there was a danger of the tree falling and hitting the house.

     Now we have wood carvers and lathers who cruise the neighborhoods watching for trees that are being taken down. If it's an interesting type of wood they ask for the wood. 

    My friend David was first on the scene and he took a couple of big chunks. David told his friend Andrew and Andrew showed up on the scene and promptly informed the neighbor that this was basswood and the very best wood for carving as you can carve it against the grain. Andrew further told the neighbor that if you bought this wood it would be about $300.00 for a 4 foot length. 

    So the neighbor kicked himself and some quick deals were made which didn't include money. The neighbor also could not believe that his tree was a basswood as he had been told by the city that it was a linden tree. The neighbor checked on the web and sure enough the linden tree is a basswood. 

    Now I'm sure most of you know about these trees. 

    Now the neighbor wanted to keep the stump and make it into a planter. He did a very good job of it. The bottom was just too big to take off with the small chain saw.

       This one looks a bit like a person with mouth and eyes and legs(pants)

      So an attractive planter was made out of the stump.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


     I've told you before that I do my own income tax. It's a pain and a lot of work. For the last 10 years or so I've been incredibly accurate as the micro Manager checks me. Before that I often made careless mistakes.

    Today I received my income tax assessment. That's the piece of paper that tells you if you did things correctly or if they found mistakes. So a mistake could cost you more money or get some back. 

    Well today's assessment had good news. The balance was nil. Now usually when I see nil I file the assessment and that's the end of things.

    Today one little note caught my eye. It said that I had a minute capital loss( less than $10.00) I had filed a small capital gain but no capital loss. So this gave me reason to look more closely at the assessment. I could not find out how they calculated a capital loss. 

     Then I noticed that they calculated my total income about $10.00 less than I had calculated. I checked net income . It was minutely less than what I calculated. Later on I found a line with a figure that was completely wrong. If I'd used their figures I would not have owed them one dime.

     So after all this , they said I didn't owe them anything. I really don't know how the income tax department does addition and subtraction.

    I'm not going to ask them about this situation. With friends like these who needs enemies. The next tax checker could use some voodoo math and want more money out of me.

   Have you ever found the tax dept. to be inept with their math?

Monday, May 15, 2017


     A couple of months ago we saw a terrific deal for turkeys. It was one of those deals you couldn't pass up. There were three prices for the general weights of turkeys. The birds were completely enclosed with plastic and there was no weight on the label.

    I had always said never buy meat that you can't see.

     The Micro Manager thought we could have a couple of meals and what was left could be chopped up to use for casseroles. Good idea! We both like roast turkey. This way two of us enjoy a whole turkey. 

     So the plan was to have the turkey on Sunday. Saturday we didn't get the turkey out early enough  to ensure complete thawing. We had visions of a roast turkey dinner at midnight.  However, the old bird was thawed in time. With no weight on the label we had to weigh the bird. It turned out to be 14 lbs which was bigger than we had thought. 

    Somewhere along the line there was a miscalculation and the bird was overdone. Oh yes, the skin could not be eaten and some of the outside meat was too crispy for consumption. 

    However, the roast bird was more than edible except for being somewhat tasteless. 

    Then take all the meat off the carcass to go in those casseroles. What a job!

   So after we finished this job we said, "What were we thinking?" We hadn't roasted a whole turkey for thirty years when the kids were still at home.

    I think we learned a lesson. We bit off more than we could chew.

Friday, May 12, 2017


      I have heard this saying for  long time and didn't put much weight to it. I have always known half my councillors on a first name basis and the mayors for the last 20 years on a first name basis. Listening to mayors and councillors I always had the view that city council was positive and helpful. I have served on city boards and knew my way around city government.

     Well, things changed recently. I had the opportunity to fight City hall and I lost.

     A few weeks ago I attempted to pull into the bank parking lot which is at the back of the bank. There was one spot left and it was a tight one. Well, it was raining so I wanted a convenient parking place. In attempting to squeeze into the parking stall  I heard that dreaded scrape noise. I knew I had scratched the side of my car or more. 

    What I had scraped my car on was a huge garbage dumpster...in some places known as a garbage bin. Well after a major cussing session, I sadly went home.

    After thinking things over I thought, you know the dumpster is in the wrong place. Aha! I'll ding the city on this one and get them to pay for my damages. 

    You don't really know where to start your fight. We checked the Waste management dept. They would send out an inspector who promptly got everything wrong. Up the ladder a bit and the guy claimed that even if the the dumpster was in the wrong place it was my responsibility to not drive into it. This sounded nuts to me. I also noticed how each official covered the other guy's back. They did contradict each other from time to time. They were plain dumb at times. At times I thought they were not telling the truth.

    So I harassed some more people trying to see how far wrong the dumpster was out of place. I kept getting the line that it was my responsibility to not run into the dumpster even if it was in the wrong place. I thought the idea of hitting something in the wrong place was ridiculous. It didn't sound like common sense.

     I checked further and phoned the police. They confirmed that indeed a driver should not hit a stationary object even if it was in the wrong place.

    So Monday I'm going to have to concede to  City Hall that indeed, they are right.

    How about you? Have you had the opportunity to fight city hall. 

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017


     Now I read the first ten pages of The Tipping Point. I enjoyed it. So after 10 pages , I'm an expert on the little things in life that make a difference. Particularly something that puts things over the top.

     A tipping point occurred in the family recently.

     The Micro Manager puts a tremendous amount of research into grocery shopping. Most of the research is from the weekly fliers from the grocery stores. As a result the grocery list contains sale items and rarely anything at the regular price. Now items on sale price are sometimes purchased because it's a good price and might not go on sale again.

     As a result our storage room has gradually been getting fuller and fuller. We are buying more than we eat. We have two deep freezes. I'm not sure how long our supply would last. 

    I quite often tease the Micro Manager that she's some kind of survivalist who stacks up a year's worth of food.

    Now in the last couple of weeks I've been looking at best before dates. I found pickles that were best before...well there was no best before date on them so it's hard to tell how long they've been on the shelf. The micro manager got curious and checked some dates. She found products that had best before dates in 2015.

   Now I know that products are just fine after their best before dates. But when you look at a product that's past it's best before date and you have lots of the product it suddenly becomes a problem.

    So the Micro Manager made the realization that she has too much food in the store room!

    There was a tipping point. I hope it's worth something. Somehow, I think that she will continue the same shopping routine. We shopped today and some things were weekly items like milk, but there were still a few sale items.

     I think the point needs to tip some more!

Sunday, May 7, 2017


     As you know I lead a bird watching group every Saturday morning. This Saturday we were able to visit a private piece of property. The property has been in the family since about 1900. The family left lots of native habitat and there is about a 50 acre lake. Usually we tour public areas in and around the city.

     The last family inhabitant was a great granddaughter who retired on the farm. She was an excellent birder and had set up all kinds of devices to attract birds. So there were super feeders, bird baths, lots of nest boxes and of course, the native habitat was left.

     So the property is a birders paradise. We found 23 species in an hour and a half. I had 13 birders show up and they were suitably impressed by what they saw.

     I took my camera and managed only one bird picture and it was poor...too much light and a very wiggly elderly photographer. However, the birders gave me some opportunities for photos.

    Lots of birds on the water

       Anybody see  the swan. I just about took the guy's head off too.
       We begin and what do we find. There's a Yellow-bellied sapsucker in there someplace.
     Sometimes birders get tired.
        I wonder what this thing has to do with birds?

And what does this do for birds?
  Oh another machine that might be for birds?
       Some funny bird skulls here.

      Time for home.

     The home on the property was situated so they had a great view of the lake.

Friday, May 5, 2017


     For those of you who follow me , you will know that from time to time I find a special day that is odd , weird or highly commercial. For some reason the day has been sanctioned as suitable for celebration.

    So a few days ago I saw a post on face book about National Susan Day. This really caught my attention so off I went to see what Mr google would say. Mr Google said nothing. I changed my search words. Nothing! I went back the the Face book post. 

     Then I thought well, is there a Keith Day. No such luck but you find all the "Keith Days" in the world.

   This puzzled me. 

   I looked at the Face book post again. It looked like a chain letter. If your name was Susan ,you were supposed to pass this on to someone named Susan. 

   Well, I suppose it was a neat idea for all the people named Susan to celebrate their name and have some fun..

   Now when I see my friend Susan, I'll have to ask her what's going on.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017


      Medical tests seem to be constantly changing. The tests themselves can change. The type of measurement changes. The stats for normal and so on change. The times the tests are needed changes.

     Al is scheduled for an annual check up. Tests are done before the check up. Al noticed that there was not a cholesterol test on the requisition form. He decided to check with his physician to see if he forgot to order cholesterol testing. Al was informed that for seniors the cholesterol test is done once every three years. They have found that senior's cholesterol levels change very little unless they gain lots of weight or develop diabetes. 

    Cholesterol scales have changed over the years. The list of foods containing high cholesterol has been changing. At one time eggs were a no no. Acceptable cholesterol levels have been changing. 

    Now what's going to happen to all the people who have been taking anti cholesterol medication?  Why were they taking it? 

    I think research has been discovering that cholesterol and foods high in cholesterol are not as crucial as once thought. 

    One test that I didn't like was the stool test for occult blood. The test has changed to be much simpler and easier. Again they do the  less occult blood tests  unless the   patient has  certain conditions.

    As a senior, I take very few concoctions. I wish they would further cut medications for seniors.