Sunday 27 February 2022

Lost in the past

Another week nearly ended and again, I'm struck by the speed with which it has passed. I do know where I've spent much of my time (and it wasn't watching curling).

This past weekend I received an e-mail that informed I had free access to the newspaper archive website. I started some research and didn't get very far before the free access ran out at midnight on Monday. Tuesday, I decided to check into it further and started a free trial that I thought I would cancel on the 28th - due to cost of the subscription. As a result I've been spending a lot of hours engaged with the site and Ancestry, transferring information from articles to the profiles on Ancestry. I won't say how many hours but suffice to say, I have to take regular breaks to do housework because my eyes start going buggy. I keep a pad of paper beside me to track the names of individuals I've completed the research for. It gets a little hairy in some places because I have relatives who married other relatives - second/third cousins - and I get tangled up in a loop. It's clear I won't finish the task before the trial is up so I'll pay for the subscription for six months - there's some really interesting stuff beyond the birth, wedding, and death notices.

One of first bits of research I completed was to search my parents names. I found an article for both, written many years apart. 

The first article was written in June 1940. Several city service clubs were raising funds to "buy a tank for France", and a raffle was held as part of the fundraising. The article mentioned donations and letters received from various individuals. One of those letters was written by my mother.  It read,"Could you send me some of those receipt books. I would like to help buy a tank for France. I could sell them in town here and in the country. I am only 11 years old but I am knitting and I would gladly walk 50 miles and sell those receipts to help France and Great Britain." She closed with a post script "I am enclosing quarter as my donation." 

As I read her words, I was impressed at her passion and her desire to be part of war efforts. (Canada joined their Allies in 1939.) Although she would not know it then, two of her future brother-in-laws were overseas. I have an article about their return to Canada where they met again in a hospital here in Regina. In light of the current world events, these articles truly make me appreciate the life I live here in Canada.

The second article referenced my dad and was written in 1999. It was written from an agricultural perspective and the author had visited the Canada Day event held at my home town's museum. On display were several pieces of machinery including old tractors, an Avery threshing separator, and an old saw mill. The author wrote "One thing I noticed that caused me some concern: the fellows operating these machines were not very young - in their 60s and 70s I thought. So I phoned up E H*, a volunteer with the museum and checked. That was an eye-opener. Only two of the guys running the machines were in their 60s, the youngest being 65. The rest are in their 70s and 80s... Mr H. himself, who canted logs at the mill and also pitched bundles into the separator on Canada Day, is 89!" *That's my dad!

Dad retired from farming about ten years prior to that event. He was always moving and doing something. When he and mom moved to town he started volunteering at the museum and spent much of the year there, sometimes just having coffee with other volunteers but often working on one of the buildings or a piece of machinery. One time he was up on the roof of an old house, slipped and fell and knocked himself unconscious. When he came to the ambulance was there and he asked who that was for. He refused to go the hospital until everyone promised not to tell my mom. Lucky for him, he wasn't seriously hurt and mom was out of town and didn't find out for sometime. 

On a different note, here are a few photos at the bird feeder this week.

I was surprised to see these two sharing the space. Typically the birds scatter when Hoover shows up.

It took a bit of patience to capture this photo a day or two later. It kept hiding behind the feeder on me.
Finally here's a shot of a bird I assumed was a grosbeak but I've been informed it is likely a red poll. I'll let my more knowledgeable readers inform me.

That's all I have for you this week AND I didn't even mention the weather even once! Don't mind me but Ancestry is calling my name. Have a good week ahead everyone!

Saturday 19 February 2022

Old and new, up and down

Some good news for my readers - curling for our Canadian teams has ended for a couple of weeks so you won't hear me talking about that for awhile. :) The Olympic curling ended with a bit of whimper; our women bowed out before the playoffs, and our men played for bronze. I heard the results, and watched the game on replay. The Canadians prevailed over the United States. To be honest, the Canadian team didn't play their best, but the US team gave up a steal of 2 points in the 9th end that pretty much clinched the game for Canada. 

On the weather front, it's been up a little and down a lot for most of the week. We had one decent day with temperatures rising to the minus single digits (Celsius), then it snowed, and then we were back in the deep freeze. The photo I shared on Wednesday was taken on Tuesday just before I went to shovel. We got more than I expected, probably around 3-4 inches. Thank goodness for the melting that happened last week because the piles were reduced somewhat for me to add to this week.

When I looked out the bedroom window Wednesday morning, I spotted this covey of Hungarian partridges huddled together behind the shed. It was windy so I suspect the fences on both sides helped break the wind. 

I did run out that day to the  Value Village and Salvation Army thrift stores. It's time (and then some) that I replace a couple of pairs of jeans. There are no changing rooms available to try on clothing, so I picked up three pairs that I thought might work, along with three t-shirts. At home, I was pleased to find out that only the smallest of the three pairs fit. The other two will need to be returned, but I now have a brand name and size I know will fit well. I remember seeing several pairs at both stores - I'm certain I'll find one more pair. Both the jeans and tees originally came from Mark's Work Wearhouse which means they should be decent quality.

The contractor, Jason, was in touch as well. The flooring has been ordered and expected to in next week. When he has a confirmed date, he's planning to pick it up and deliver it here for storage until he starts work on the basement in April. 

My son will be moving upstairs during the construction so I spent some time on Thursday rearranging my craft room to make room for Eli's toys. C will take over the second spare room directly across from the main bathroom. We won't be moving him yet but the craft room needed tidying anyway and I had some boxes stored in the spare room that needed sorting as well. Some of it will need to go out to the garage...that's not happening until it warms up a bit more. 

On Friday I finished up removing the last of the carpet backing in the basement. I swept up the debris and ran the vacuum over the floor to pick up as much dust as I could. I'll check with Jason next week to see if I need to do anything more with it. He will be doing a skim coat of self leveling material before the floors are installed so I'm hoping there won't need to be more prep done on my part. 

My other focus this week was on Ancestry. K, the cousin who started me on this path, has hired a genealogist to search more records in Ontario where my great-great grandfather Hugh was granted land in Huron County. Among the information he's found is a copy of Hugh's obituary and that document provided a very interesting clue. (K will be mailing me a copy of it, when he returns from Mexico in early March). The obit mentions his niece among his living relatives. With that information, K was able to locate her mother Jane's headstone. 

There was a bit of confusion that ensued because according to the headstone the year of Jane's birth is earlier than the parent's marriage. I believe the information on the headstone has been misinterpreted because I was able to locate the baptismal records for Jane, which indicates her birth occurred in 1798, about a year after her parents married. While I was searching the baptismal records, I was able to identify an additional six children of the couple. Until this point, I believe we only knew of three, not including Jane. Of special interest to me are two sons, Alexander born in 1811 and Andrew born in 1816. Hugh was believed to have been born on May 6, 1816, while Andrew was born in July.  We know it isn't possible that his mother gave birth to two children nearly three months apart so that leaves us with another mystery. Family lore suggests that Hugh changed his name when he came to Canada - and I've always thought that referred to his last name. But maybe, just maybe, he actually changed his first name and perhaps his last too. There was also the suggestion that he cut off ties to his family in Scotland, but one story from family history suggests there was an inheritance which he spurned. 

Assuming Jane is his sister (and I believe she is) then this might suggest that Hugh is either Alexander, the oldest son (he did name one of his sons Hugh Alexander), or he is Andrew and he simply changed his birthdate. I doubt any records were needed/provided when he emigrated to Canada. I suspect we'll never know for sure but it certainly makes the journey interesting.

I don't know where this week went, how can it possibly be Saturday already? Today we've got a wacky mix of weather, it was cold overnight, but the expected high temperature is about 1C (33F) with mixed rain/snow precipitation. When I went out to feed the birds, I did a bit of shovelling to clear the driveway and sidewalks of what had blown in. Hopefully that will ensure I don't have to get out with the ice melt tomorrow. 

I'm off shortly to return the jeans to the thrift stores while the weather is nice. The forecast is for another cold week ahead and Monday is a holiday here, though not for everyone. I suspect both stores will be closed though. Beyond that, it will be a quiet weekend around here. I've the last mitten on the needles, once it is complete I'll finish off the four pairs and set them aside. Onto another project, though I haven't yet decided what that will be.

Have a great weekend everyone. Take care and stay warm.

Friday 18 February 2022

Friday Funny

 You may need to be of a certain age to appreciate this - and I can tell I still don't know the rest of the verse. :)

Saturday 12 February 2022

Rolling on

 Zippity doo-dah, another week flies by in a flash. This will be a short post (or maybe not...) because I haven't done much more than the regular household chores, a bit of grocery shopping, with a stop at Value Village to drop off two boxes from my always continuing efforts to declutter.  And of course, lots of curling. 

The mixed doubles ended on the weekend for Canada with a whimper, losing to both Australia and Italy in the round robin draw. I was quite frustrated with the game with Australia - there had been news the night prior that the female player had tested positive for Covid, but the game was allowed to be played with as much physical distancing as possible. Hard to do when both teams are in the house sweeping. None the less, Australia beat our Canadian team quite handily.  The team from Italy proved to be a power house all week, winning all of their round robin games and won the gold medal over Norway in the final.  Their win over Canada didn't sting quite as badly.

The men's and women's draws started on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I've been able to watch on the 6 a.m. (for me) televised games and can stream the other games as replays. Even I, an avid fan, am not staying up all night to watch the later draws. 

To add to the fun, the Saskatchewan men's Tankard first draw was on Wednesday evening. A former co-worker's husband is participating in the event, and I expect I'll see at least one of their games this week. However, there are a couple of dominant teams that I am certain will be there at the end of event - his team is not one of them.

The joy of all of this curling is it keeps me from watching too much of the news.  In addition to the sh*t show that is happening in our nation's capital, other cities, and border crossings, the lump we call our Premier (like a Governor in the states), announced the decision to eliminate all public health measures by the end of the month. First to go are the proof of vaccine requirements to attend restaurants, bars, and events...just in time for Valentine's Day. The masking requirements will be lifted on March 1.

Here's what he had to say:

Moe said on Tuesday that it's time for the province to move forward and past the proof of vaccination policy, which he said was divisive and "effectively created two classes of citizens" in Saskatchewan. 

"To my knowledge, this province has never done anything like that before in our history, for any vaccine or for any other reason for that matter," Moe said. 

Seriously, the man needs to take a history lesson. Women didn't gain the right to vote until 1916 (and that was a privilege for married white women only). The pass system permitting First Nations people to leave their reserves continued into the 1920's in our province. In addition, First Nations people were only granted the right to vote in Canada in 1960. And more recently, the last residential institution existed in Saskatchewan until 1996. But Moevid says there have never been "two classes of citizens" in Saskatchewan.

Our hospitalization rates are at the highest level since the pandemic began, children under five have yet to get their vaccinations and he decides to open things up and let her rip. Not long ago, he reported he had a 45 minute call with one of the most ardent anti-vaxxers in the province. I wonder what she said - because he certainly isn't listening to the medical experts in the province. Can you tell that my blood pressure rises just writing about this?

In any event, I'll continue to mask up - though I do anticipate I'll get snarky remarks from some people. When I can't ignore them, I haven't yet decided how I will react. D is quite worried because when masks were not mandatory last summer (just ahead of our 4th wave), an older woman attempted to remove Eli's mask from his face while D was turned away. I suspect if someone tries that now, D won't be quite as circumspect as she was back then.

Back on the positive side of things, I spent Wednesday afternoon in the sunroom reading. The temperature outdoors was still below freezing, but with the sun shining in the room was warm enough to tuck up in my recliner with the radio on in the background. Saku was as happy as I was, napping much of the afternoon curled up in one of the chairs. 

We had more sun on Thursday and the temperature was above freezing. The birds discovered the eavestrough at the front of the house was filled with water and I had live entertainment watching them splash and bathe. I apologize as the lighting has washed out some of the color and the birds were moving so quickly it was hard to get a decent shot.

I didn't see this until I pulled the card from the computer. In the tree is a small chickadee...waiting his turn?

Check out the fluffy feathers!

I spent about and hour or so outside, clearing the rest of the snow and ice off the driveway and sidewalks. The wind was quite strong and though I don't get a lot of sunshine since I face north and the evergreen blocks the sun on the west side, most of the pavement did dry up reasonably well. Good thing as the temperature dropped rapidly reaching a low of -20C (-1F) by morning. I'd run out of ice melt so made a dash to Walmart in the morning to pick up a bag to sprinkle on the remaining ice. 

Beyond that, Friday was a very quiet day as I expect today will be too. I've been out to feed the birds (and the squirrel by default). The Saskatchewan men's curling game starts in a little while, and I'm going to curl up on the couch to watch and forget about all the other crap going on out there in the world.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Saturday 5 February 2022

Random thoughts

 What a difference a day makes! We had some decent weather on Monday, with the temperature reaching a high of -1C (30F). But then an Alberta clipper blew in that evening, bringing blizzard conditions and the temperature dropping drastically. When I went out to feed the birds on Tuesday morning, it was -22C (-8F). Brrr...  The snow had blown in on the sidewalks and in behind the front gate so I wasn't able to get in the back yard as I normally would.  I headed out back through the sun room, and dug a path partway and then just tromped through the snow the rest of the way. 

I'll get out and shovel another path the full way when the weather improves. For the time being, I grabbed the shovel, climbed through the pile and went around to shovel out the area behind the gate to allow me to get in that way again. I did go out in the afternoon to clear the driveway. It wasn't much warmer but I need to clear the sidewalks in front of the house within 48 hours of a snowfall.

Wednesday was even colder with a wake-up temp of -29C (-20F) but the birds still needed to be fed. I went out the back to take car of them, and then grabbed the shovel and cleared up behind the front gate. Based on what is on the ground we should have good moisture this spring. Whenever that might happen!

Much of my time has been spent watching curling and knitting, and fitting in chores between games. I've finished three pairs of mittens, of various sizes, using up some yarn I picked up at the thrift store. I baked buns on Tuesday morning - is there anything better than the aroma of fresh baking? Vaccuming and laundry got done too, on different days when I got up from my seat on the couch. The Canadian women's curling will end on Sunday; meanwhile the mixed double curling started this week in Beijing. I've been watching live when I can, and watching a replay of the live stream when the game is aired in the middle of the night. I need my sleep!

In other news, this week I reached the three year anniversary of my retirement (Jan.31) and my little brother turned 60 (Feb. 3). He had hoped to join me in retirement but for a number of reasons has decided to hold off for a couple more years. It's selfish of me, but I wish he wasn't waiting because we'd be able to spend more time together. In the meantime, he's also starting a home business, building live edge coffee tables, side tables, and cutting boards. On Friday, he made several glasses from old wine bottles. The guy likes to stay busy!

On another note, have you seen those television ads that suggest that running your dishwasher uses less water than running your tap for 2 minutes? I decided I'd put that to the test - a very unscientific test - by using the dishwasher and only hand washing certain items for a month. I ran the dishwaser about five times a week and waited for the water bill to arrive. The results - my water bill increased by $10, even after I took out the annual increase in the rates. So I'm back to my handwashing and will use the dishwasher only once weekly or when I have a busy cooking day.

My other test, if one can call it that, was to eliminate potato chips from my diet. I'll admit it, I love potato chips; the salty goodness and the crunch of the chip is my addiction, and I would normally have a bag or two in the house most of the time. I know that the salt isn't good for me. Heaven knows, my family history includes many heart attacks and strokes. I've tried in the past to limit the size of the portion, but that hasn't worked for me. I just go get more.....when the bowl is empyt. So I decided it was time to try going cold turkey on January 1. Since then, I've eaten home popped popcorn twice, but normally if I'm craving something salty I'll slice a couple of small pieces of cheese to eat with a few crackers. Best of all, I've lost five pounds of weight, not nearly enough, but a good start. Don't get me wrong, I still crave the potato chips, and evenings can be especially difficult. Reminding myself that I'm doing this for the long term health benefits is some consolation. 

Unfortunately both Eli and his mom were sick this week. They've both tested negative for Covid - D tested Eli three times, and herself five time.  Both had an ugly stomach bug. She let her guard down and had a friend and her two children over to the house earlier in the week. A assured her that both children were over the bug they'd picked up at daycare - apparently not quite. Eli has pretty much recovered, but D is like her mother and doesn't do sick well. She's resting as much as she can with an active 4 year old and calling her mother frequently to whine. She called this morning, and said she's feeling some better. And Eli woke up hungry, all good news.

The cold weather is finally starting to break. I woke up on Friday to -32C (-27F), and by this morning, the temperature had risen to -10C (18F). More snow fell overnight too, so you know what I'll be doing later today. Until then I've got the television tuned to the Olympic coverage. 

I'll leave you with a photo of Hoover. It was hogging the birdseed so I went out and chased it away several times. It would run down the fence and sit to wait for me to go back indoors, then go right back to the feeder. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!