Scout’s Honour

When I was a young girl, one of my biggest dreams was to be a cub scout.  My little brother got to join the first cub scout pack in our area, but of course, we couldn’t join.  Luckily, my brother let my twin sister and I learn right along side him, even if we couldn’t go to the meetings.  To this day, all three of us can still do parts of their little chant – “Akeyla,  DyB, DyB, DyB, and, DOB Dob Dob”.   Do your best!

We helped him earn his badges, and watched longingly while mom sewed them onto his uniform.  Even if there had been a brownie or girl guide pack in our area, I didn’t want to join them – the scouts just seemed so much cooler and more fun.  The movie Jungle Book and the Scouts had Akela – an exotic sounding name – and iconic symbol of the Scouts program.   The local hall kept the cub scout symbols tucked in the basement – taunting me every time we went downstairs to play.  At that time, it was hard for me to understand why I couldn’t join.

But Scouts was one of just a string of cooler things that boys got to do simply because they were boys.  Boys got to wear blue – and blue jeans – long before girls.  We were stuck with frills, lace, and pink. In sports,  the boys team got the better crowds and bigger cheers.  News coverage favoured them.  We ( I mean girls in general) were simply the opening act, even if the girls teams were often more successful. Hockey and baseball were only for boys. We girls were limited in what we could do.   We took home economics, book keeping, and typing while the boys got science, math, and shop.   I’m over generalizing, but you get the picture – subtle exclusion was the story of women’s lives.

Thankfully times  change. Much to my delight, I learned that Scouts are now letting in girls.  That doesn’t mean the Girl Guide program should be scrapped – I’m sure it too is a wonderful program. It just means that young kids now get to choose which organization they prefer. Some boys are better suited to the Guides program, just as some girls fit better with Scouts.  It’s not rocket science – but it’s taken until the 21st century for something so simple to occur.

Since I went to school, the gender gap has narrowed.  Choices are opening up every day.  Little girls now have supreme court judges, astronauts, bosses, welders, and even super heroes to look up to. “We’ve come  a long way, baby!”.

The gender equality movement is not perfect – many people have gone way too far in their militant desire for political correctness.  But I’m glad of the small, simple changes – and that any girl that wants to go to a scout meeting and recite the oath to Akela, can now do so. Scouts rule!




The Golden Years of TV

I’ve spent way too much time binge-watching TV  this winter, especially since I spent so much time housebound.  I recently discovered a huge trove of golden oldies on YouTube.  Some of my favourites lately include:

  • The Newhart Show – It’s still fun to watch Bob Newhart’s slow, carefully delivery of punch lines.  Hard to  imagine anyone else ever carrying off his unique stammering delivery.  Although many of the characters are superficial and stereotypical, it’s still a gentle way to pass some time.
  • WKRP in Cincinatti:  Love the ensemble cast!  They even tackled some very difficult issues for its day, including the rock concert disaster in which several youths were killed while waiting for a rock concert … and the issues surrounding rush seating.  They also often tackled racism and misogyny .  Who could ever top the frantic rock and roll energy of Johnny Fever, or the slow, silent, soothing sounds of Venus Flytrap.  Also, love the wacky misfit Les Nessman.  And, I’ve spent many sleepless hours with the earworm inducing theme song looping through my head.
  • Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, and Matlock:  These three formulaic murder investigation shows never fail to gently entertain. By today’s standards, they are banal and boring, but it’s fun to watch these classic actors at work.

Spoiler Alert… old fart rant coming up…

I miss the use of show specific theme songs.  I know that today’s shows prefer to use existing music, much of which is very good, I loved the idea that each show had it’s own theme song. The lyrics themselves usually told a great story -giving the all important back story in under two minutes – including catchy chorus.

Alas, now that spring is here, I need to wean myself from my binge.  I will happily begin to step outside to enjoy the chance to reconnect with nature.  But, part of me will miss those dark hours of winter, huddled around my laptop, watching those blast from the past re-runs on YouTube, Netflix, and TV.


Spring Cleaning

pexels-photo-908308.jpegAh spring – that eternal season of hope and over-zealous goal-setting. It’s also the season to purge.  And I’ve been trying to do just that. But purging is not easy.  The lofty goal of emptying cluttered shelves and tossing long-since useful trinkets is easier said than done. It’s a long story  – and it starts with the weather.

We’ve suffered through  a long, hard winter, and one that seems that is still not going away. Record amounts of snow have fallen, and the usual migraine inducing Chinook wind have skipped our fair region. It’s been testing our identify as real Canadians. You see, we typically don’t have snow that lasts and lasts and lasts.  I guess for one of the first times, we’ve experienced winter that most Canadians have to suffer through year after year after year (except for those on the West Coast, who have had to learn to live with warmer temperatures, but clouded by dull grey, wet winters).  Also, both Blaine and I have been pretty much housebound  for the longest time ever.  We’ve both had health issues, and The Crossing has been walk-in only access for weeks.  So I haven’t been able to enjoy the snow. I  don’t even want to look out at it’s tantalizing freshness – because I haven’t been able to play in it.  No skiing, no snowshoeing, no curling, do drift-busting for me this year.  But that’s another story. And that brings me back to the spring cleaning theme.

Because we’ve been housebound, I’ve had time to look at all those cluttered closet shelves.  I thought it would be easy to simply chuck stuff, but I still have too many memories attached to the mess. However, I am taking baby steps. I was finally able to part with pictures and souvenirs from trips past.  I had kept a bag of stuff from my trip to Australia in my early 20’s.  I took a good long look at all the stuff, smiled, enjoyed the memory -then tossed the stuff.   Same with all the brochures, stickers, tags, entrance receipts, etc. that I had saved from many of the mom and son trips I took while Mac was still in school.  At the time I had planned to scrapbook it all, making a special album for each adventure.  Of course the albums never materialized but the junk piled higher.  Again, I took a few photos of some of the very special memorabilia, then tossed it all in recycling.   I also finally cleared out a huge box of photos, whittling the pile down to one small box that I have saved for a future purge.

This stage of life is giving me a new perspective on “stuff”.  Unlike the robins who just

Robins Return to Roost
Believe it or not, there’s over a dozen red robins in that tree

returned to our backyard – their home- I will never again have anyone returning home for the summer. Mackenzie, at age 23, is well and properly launched (as he should be). He is also very much a stereotypical introverted redneck man, and naturally is not interested in most of the stuff. He certainly will never want the generational keepsakes such as our wedding china, the 100 or more photo albums that focus almost entirely on him growing up, the dozen or more boxes of every single paper and project he brought home from school, and more.

Which makes me think – are we the last generation to have “stuff”?  It seems the credo for the Boomer generation was to get stuff  – a nice house, good furniture, nice trinkets,and so on.  Like our parents before us, and their parent’s parents, and so on – we kept things thinking that maybe someday our kids might want this stuff. But this next generation doesn’t want as much.  They don’t seem to want Great grandma’s china, and so on. They are not going to want a set of china or keepsake dishes for wedding presents because it’s just not their thing. Besides, newer, fresher stuff is so easily accessible, why keep the old when you can simply buy something new and different so cheaply?

I see this happening in our family.  Mom still has lots of “stuff” she inherited from the past generation. It’s all very meaningful to her, and to many of us, and is still in great shape.  But who from the next generation really wants all this stuff?  We all bought what we wanted when we wanted it, so our cupboards are full.  We have smaller families so have no one to hand it down to. Plus we (our age group) are in the downsizing mode, not up sizing.

Cover picture cup of tea

Bottom line -now that I am 60, I have a different perspective on spring cleaning and purging. I haven’t fully figured out yet what I am going to do with all the stuff in my life – how much am I really ready to part with, and how much can I emotionally be free from.  I’m not there yet – but awareness if the beginning – right???

Or maybe I’ll just put it off until tomorrow, ‘cus tomorrow never comes!

Happy Spring Cleaning everyone!

And more trivia….

Did you know?
Today is the 100th anniversary of the horrific Halifax Explosion. I remember visiting the site in the early 1980’s when I went to visit my aunt in Halifax.  I had heard of the disaster in one of my history classes, but couldn’t fathom the impact until we drove around the harbour and could still see remnants of the explosion.

I can’t imagine how this horrible event would have seemed back in 1917. More than 2000 people lost their lives. Countless more were seriously injured or left homeless. A huge portion of the bustling city was flattened. The devastation paralleled the horrific events of Pearl Harbour, a mere 30 years and 2 days later. Yet few Canadians think of the Halifax Explosion on December 5. Instead, we think more about the horrifying results of December 7 in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.  Although both were devastating, I have always wondered why we don’t hear more about our own disasters.
Another one of those things that make you go “Ummmmm”.  It’s neither bad nor goood; it just is.

Check out this article to learn more …

Man in the Mirror

A poem by my Dad


Man in The Mirror Sept.07/97 Reflections on my 71 Birthday

Who is that man in the mirror?

With lank grey hair and vacant stare

Who can he be? Surely not me?

With hairy ears and eyes full of tears,

He stares back at me, who can he be?

Surely not me! For only recently

I sat upon my Mothers knee

And only yesterday I skipped to school

To learn the rules of Calculus and Chemistry,

Then a short time hence

I became a soldier for Defence

Of Country King and Liberty.

For only yesterday again,

I took a wife, a lover for life

Then together raised a family.

I was a Farmer, a grower of Grain,

In the Sun and the Rain.

Though this is still a part of me

I must open wide my eyes and see,

That those happy years have fled,

And in the mirror by my bed

He stands; with shoulders stooped

And belly drooped,

Grandfather, Great Grandfather.

Then I know, with feelings of woe


A box full of memories

mom's jewellry box.pngThe old cliche “every picture tells a story” is so very true! While browsing Facebook tonight, I stumbled across this picture, and I was immediately transported back to my pre-teen self, sneaking a peak through my mom’s jewelry cream-coloured box.

This simple small box was a treasure trove for us.  My twin sister and I would often search through the contents to find just the right accessory to compliment our dress-up outfit for some silly little skit or project we were playing. I can’t quite find the right word to describe how I felt when I went searching through that magic box. The costume jewellery seemed so grown-up to us, so unreachable, so ethereal, so magical.  It was like I was touching something untouchable, even though we had mom’s permission to play with her stuff.  She had a fake tiara, some pearls, some multi-strands fake gemstone necklaces, and so much more. I don’t think any of it was very expensive or she would never have let her pack of daughters drag it all over the house – and sometimes the  expansive and wild farmyard.   But to me and my sisters they were priceless.  I can still see us dressing up  in her old cream-coloured wedding dress, her clear plastic high-heeled glamorous sandals, and her tiara.  The jewelry box was an essential adjunct to her old wooden trunk – it’s rounded lid providing entry to an endless supply of costumes used to feed our dreams.

My brother and I play with Christmas presents


I still have that same feeling when I go into my mom’s bedroom and see that worn-out box sitting right int he middle of her dresser. It’s a flash to my 8 year old-self, when mom was someone like an unknowable super woman. Someone grown-up, a little distant, but always present.  Adults to me were not meant to be known as friends. They were the grown-ups, the ones we were close to, but yet somehow removed.  Mom’s jewelry box seemed like an tentative entry into that foreign world.

My mom last year. Her jewelry box is still full of delicious baubles

One more rewind from the past

My son has been out of high school for 3 years already.  So why am I still feeling somewhat of the empty nest syndrome?  Sigh.  I guess sometimes all you can do is embrace the moment and cherish the memory. Doesn’t this sound cliche?  Nevertheless, I am trying hard to simply be grateful for having had the experiences of watching my kid grow up, rather than being sad about it being over.  So, one last blast from the past – so I can cherish the memory – then it’s time to move on and bust those empty nest cliches!

One of the few perks of being a mom who volunteered for everything, including even acting as  elected Trustee for a term – was that I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to give a speech at grad.  Here is it is!

Comments for Grad, 2012


Trustee Greetings


Good evening everyone. I am very honored to bring greetings on behalf of the Board of Trustees. I can assure you that all the board members, as well as everyone is the Holy Spirit School Division is proud of your accomplishments today. This day is why we all do what we do – supporting your education is important for everyone in the division, from the maintenance staff, the Admin Assistants, the Educational Assistants, the teachers, (not only here, but also at St. Pats) the school council members, the senior leadership team, the trustees – we all are part of the community that is so excited for you today – to see that you have reached the completion of one very important turning point, and are prepared to move on to the next “grand adventures” in your life. Well Done!!!


Now, as most of you know, I am very thrilled to be here for many other reasons. And Mackenzie, I’ll try not to embarrass you too much – I’ve known most of you since you were little, some since the day you were born – right Brett! I’ve lived vicariously through your journey to today, sharing the excitement you felt on the many field trips you took at St. Pats, the special days such as the Penny Carnival, the track meets, the talent shows, and so much more. I’ve driven you, or rode with you, to the Birds of Prey Centre, Safety City, the Edmonton Legislature, (and slept on the band room floor), tied your skates at the rink, helped coach some of you in volleyball, driven you in basketball. Not to mention those really, really, really tough sacrifices I had to make to chaperone you on your band trips to Vancouver Island, Ottawa, and Montreal, The school trip to Europe, volleyball trip to California, the outdoor ed great adventures with you (where I had the dubious honour of being the last one to dump Herbie out of a canoe!) Squared! – And more. Gosh, the tough job of being a parent-chaperon with this group! I will miss those days, and I think I have probably enjoyed them just as much if not more than most of you! But I have also learned from these experiences that this class is indeed a great bunch of kids, ready to take on the world.


We have – Taylor – the musician, Bryden – going to criminal justice, Amy and Louise – off to U of L, Becky – going to be a 4H ambassador, Neil, a thriving artist, Ryan, going to play volleyball at Camrose, Mackenzie – off to college to take engineering, Brett – going to be a lineman to take care of our power needs, My girls Kaycee Joe and Alex (daughters 2 squared) and so much more. I know you’ll hear more about their talents and futures later tonight.


Back when I graduated, the world seemed to be waiting for us. But our world was much more limited than yours. We knew we would become teachers, farmers, office administrators, oilpatch workers and so on. But we never dreamed we could become what you can become. 15 years ago we said that the average person changed careers 3 – 4 times in a lifetime. I’ve worked for the same company over 23 years. But the future won’t be the same for you. You might change jobs and even careers 8 times or more. What you might become when you “grow up” most likely doesn’t even exist yet. Change will come at you so quickly you may feel like you’re barely able to blink. I knew all my neighbours, and could almost tell you who lived in every house in Taber. But you – your neighbours could change every few months. As the saying goes – the only thing constant will be change.


So how will you cope? You will cope by using the skills you have learned to date. To be creative and critical thinkers. To be willing to learn new skills; to shift your thinking to meet the times. But you will also need to take with you the fundamental values you leave with here today. You will need good friends who can laugh with you, who can share a story or two, who will make you feel connected to your world. You will need your basic values of the “Catholic education” you received. You’ll need the support of mentors and colleagues who will help you, and be there to “get your back” – much as the many teachers, coaches and others who have given so much of their time to get you here today. You will also need to remember that you are no better than, or of  no less value than anyone else – to hold your head high and work hard at whatever you choose to do. And, hopefully you’ll turn to your families, who have shared your journey here. We look at you now and see a group of handsome and beautiful young men and women, about to embark upon the rest of their lives – you’ll find many roller coasters – life will sometimes be beautiful, and sometimes tough. But no matter where you go, and what you do, you will always know that you have left a mark here. We are proud of you for what you have accomplished, and excited about your future.

My advice for you – don’t blink. Today seemed like it would never get here for most of you, but for us, it has arrived in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you too will be at your son or daughter’s graduation, wondering on earth this day came so quickly. And, forgive all us parents and family members who tonight might shed a tear or two, for to us, the words of Robert Munsch ring true:

“We love you forever, we like you for always, as long as we are living, our babies, you will be.”





Another memory blast

I am definitely in a nostalgic mood – perhaps I’m cleaning my memory bank – spurred by my need to clean the pantry and cupboards at home!  I stumbled across some speeches I gave while acting as Trustee for our local school board.  This one was my first speech given to a grad class – the class of 2011.  Here it goes!

I am very honored to be here.  I’ve known many of you for several years, and it’s been great fun watching you grow and journey through adolescence and into adulthood.  I’ve been with you on field trips, track meets, volleyball and basketball games,outdoor ed trips, band trips, and more, and have loved  every minute of it.  It’s been a great pleasure to be there with you.  So tonight it is my true privilege to bring you greetings on behalf of the school board, and to wish u the best as u leave here to start the next grand adventure of your lives.  

I know that everyone is this room is thrilled to be here to help you celebrate tonight.  Although tonight is about celebrating your success, it is also important to thank the many people who have helped you get here … The teachers and staff of St. Patricks,  who are always very happy for you, their former students , and are proud of the part they played in helping you get here.     The teachers and staff of St. Marys, also played a big role in your lives, as did  the coaches, bus drivers, the youth minsters, and other parish members. And most importantly, your parents and family.

To those of us “non-grads” here tonight – we can be assured that this is a great group of young adults ready to take on life’s challenges.  We have apex award winners and nominees, star athletes -zone winning golfers, basketball  league MVPs, provincial volleyball champions, an outstanding swimmer,  scholarship winners, musicians – whether it be in band or youth group, youth with excellent survival skills learned out outdoor ed trips (and let me tell you – if you’re ever stranded in the woods – you’d want to have any one of the students who went on an outdoor trip with you – because they can take good care of you!), cardboard boat race winners, and more – future historians, chefs, carpenters, and other tradespeople, office administrators, business managers, multi-media experts all around – this graduating class is just a great group!

It is true it takes a village to raise a child, and as part of that village, I can guarantee you that we are all very proud of you, and want the best for you as you leave our school and perhaps our community.  

You have an exciting future ahead of you.    Technology has opened doors that weren’t even dreamed of a few short years ago.  The career you choose may not even exist yet today.  So you may find it challenging to say what you are going to be “when you grow  up”.  And that’s OK.  Statistics indicate that the average Canadian will change careers at least four or five times. So no worries. You will figure it out eventually.   Some of you have a good idea of what you are going to do right away – I’ll see some of you at the College (where I work).  Others are just beginning to explore the opportunities.  The first few years away from here are all about learning who you are, and what you want to do.  So enjoy the journey, but try  to stay true to yourself and the values you have learned while here.  

And we can be assured that this is a great group of young adults ready to take on life’s challenges.  We have Apex award winners and nominees, star athletes, scholarship winners, future historians, chefs, carpenters, and other tradespeople, office administrators, business managers, just an all around great bunch !

Know also that you will always be a part of St. Mary’s and the Holy Spirit School Division, and that you have a “whole village” here, wishing you the best, and holding you in our hearts.  

So, on behalf of the Holy Spirit Board of Trustees, congratulations, good luck, and know that you are in our thoughts and prayers as you journey forth.  And, don’t forget to come back and visit!

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