Tuesday, 28 August 2012

music-Joe Mullins

op/ed-photo radar

Perhaps I should read the Sun Media papers more often.If I did,who knows,I may just find myself in agreement with columnists more often than what I'm comfortable with.Scary thought.But all joking aside,I am in complete agreement with Lorne Gunther as to his story on the County Of Strathcona discontinuing the use of photo radar in favour of more officers on the streets.It is an entirely good thing.Even if it means lost revenue.

Lets face reality here.Photo radar is not enforcement.It does nothing to change behaviour.It is completely useless when someone engages in really dangerous behaviour like going say,one hundred over the limit,as seems to happen with some frequency.The photo radar unit just snaps a picture of the offenders plate and goes"Cha-ching"just a bit louder perhaps than if he offender had only been going ten over.In a tax based model of enforcement,the more dangerous the offense,the better the outcome.

But for as long as I can remember police have been telling us how enforcement isn't about revenue collection.They become indignant every time that we suggest that there may be something predatory about enforcing traffic laws.Really?Then why use photo radar at all.Why hide the police car behind the bushes in high traffic places.Oops,I forgot.Location,location ,location.If policing was really about gaining compliance it seems to me that you would simply park the traffic cops and their cruisers out in the open.Surely that would be a deterrent to reckless driving.So I applaud the County Of Strathcona for replacing tax collectors with real cops,who can presumably not only enforce speed limits,but enforce other laws as well.After all,when is the last time you ever heard of a photo radar unit stopping a rape in progress,or responding to an actual motor vehicle accident?Oh,right.Never!So while it's business as usual in the rest of Alberta,The County Of Strathcona has decided to quit abdicating their responsibilities andget back to some real,old fashioned policing. 

Memoir Chapter 1-Continued

While my mother taught school,my father worked a few miles up the road at a military base called Curtis Park,in the community of St.Margarets.He worked there for many years after we left Goose Bay,and even after we moved to Moncton,he would commute the eighty miles to and from work.

The military base was much like every other base I've ever been too.Clean,well organized,well painted buildings and a bunch of houses that all looked alike.You would enter through a gate house with a closed gate.There was a guard posted at the gate,but rarely,to my memory was my father ever asked to present identification before the gate was lifted.sometimes he would stop for a while and talk with the guards.It was a small community and he knew most everyone we encountered on the base.He was very good friends with one of the guards,and occasionally we would visit his place which was maybe a mile from the front gate of the base in the opposite direction from our house.

The guard was a big man,always dressed in a crisp white shirt and dark pants and a kind of a policeman's hat.But when I saw his house I would wonder where he got such clothes as they were completely at odds with the appearance of his house.His house was set just off the road and was nearly strangled with bushes and trees.It appeared long and narrow and only had a couple of rooms.There were no children there.Just a wife,who was nearly as big as her husband,and a scruffy looking dog.The guards wife was a woman I liked right away because she made me a snack of bread and Cheese Whiz,which was something I never had at home.But I ate it happily there while the dog sniffed around,no doubt hoping I would drop some of the sandwich.The guard sat drinking a beer with my father and they were doing some kind of work on his house as well.It seemed that there was something wrong with the lights as he had strung an extension cord across the entire length of the house and attached lights to it at various points.Evidently the guard fancied himself as somewhat of a comedian because while they were working on the lights,he wrapped his fist around one of the light bulbs and asked my father to plug in the cord.When the cord was plugged in,he began to holler and jump around as though the electricity was flowing through him.To me it looked as though something was very wrong.He may have gotten a small jolt from the cord or the light,but really,he was never in very much danger.There was no hair standing on end-unlike most of the military people my father knew,this man actually had some hair.There were none of the other more messy,unsightly aspects of an electrocution either.After a second or two,he let go of the bulb and began to roar with laughter.

Sometimes my father would take me right into the place where he worked.The whole reason for the base at Curtis Park was to supply power,and it had a huge diesel generating station.The station was fenced off and was the largest building on base,or,for that matter for miles around.It was topped by some large domes that looked like giant golf balls.All about were army trucks and jeeps and other heavy equipment,and I loved going there as I had a bit of fascination with all things army when I was small We would go right into the building too,to the office where my father worked.It was noisy with the sound of huge diesels and smelled of machine oil and iron There were thousands of tools,it seemed,on benches or hanging on the walls.Some of the wrenches were nearly as big as I was.There were also control panels with buttons and lights-hundreds of buttons and lights.I was always provided with the stern warning not to touch any of the buttons.The place was,to a child,awesomely big and it vibrated with power.

Usually our visits to my fathers place of work was for him to pick up his pay.We would go to the base store too,where we could make purchases,even though we lived off base.Sometimes we would go to the barber shop,or the snack bar which were both in the same building.The snack bar had a rich odor which I came to recognize as coffee.It had a wonderful sort of a machine too,that was green with a huge silver cup beneath it.The man behind the counter would scoop some ice cream into the silver cup and turn on the machine,which had a powerful buzz.After a short time he would turn of the machine and empty the cup into a tall glass.Those things were something my father called milkshakes.He never had a milkshake though.Always he would have a banana split and I would eat ice cream or sometimes just have a coke in a glass.I don't recall that my sister ever went with us on these trips to where my father worked.She was really not much more than an infant at the time,and I'm not certain that my father regarded the power plant as any place for a small girl.Tools and motors were,to his mind ,manly things,so I'm sure this was an early form of role modeling for him.To me,it was  huge,amazing ,and to be honest,just a bit scary.I was a little bit afraid of all the noises coming from the power plant and of the fact that the whole building seemed to shake.The army trucks were so much bigger than any other cars I'd ever been close to,and even the thought of stopping at a guard house and talking to a policeman before you could go where you really wanted to go,was a bit intimidating.But going in the car with my father,to the base-there really was no other place to go in the backwoods of New Brunswick-was a favorite activity.

Nose Hill Park-Part 3

Here are some more amazing photos taken by others of this amazing park in northwest Calgary.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Traditional Songs By Heather Berry

Calgary-Nose Hill Park(unedited edition)

number 100

Well here it is.My one hundredth blog entry.I hope everyone who is taking the time to read is enjoying the blog.Really,I never thought I would get this far with it,but here it is.

It would be really good if I could get some feed back from some of you readers out there,as the comments have been few and far between.I seem to have some readers in some really interesting places.Of course most of you are in North America,but I couldn't help noticing a large amount of page views from Russia in particular.What are you all doing there in Russia?I'm really curious to know.Do you read this blog in English or do you use the translator?Are you Russian,or perhaps Canadian or American Ex-pats?The same goes for you people in China,United Arab Emirates,France,Great Britain and Korea.I really would like to hear from some of you so I can find out what it is about this blog that interests you.

Looking forward to the next 100 entries,I think you can expect more of the same.But I'm always looking to improve.I've finally gotten around to the original purpose for beginning this blog,and that was to write a memoir.It's not to say that this particular memoir will be the finished version.I still need a lot of writing practice and this blog in part serves that purpose as well.So come along for the ride and I will tell you some tales of life in various parts of Canada,beginning from the early 1960's and continuing to the present day.

landscapes in abstract-nose hill park

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Calgary-Mission/Mount Royal


Memoir-Chapter One.

We decended from out of the north,into a time I can recall and that I can relate to you.It must have been around 1963,a couple of years after I was born in Goose Bay.

Redmondville is the first home I can remember,on the northeast coast of New Brunswick,along the old highway#11 which snaked it's way up the coast through some of the poorest and roughest country I've ever seen.The road was blacktop,but not good blacktop and driving about was rough.Many of the roads were dirt,or ,to be more accurate,mud.Travel even then was not nearly as smoothe as it is today.

We lived in a big box of a house located on the east side of the road.a few miles to the south was the military base where my father worked.And,a slightly longer distance to the north was another larger military base.In between was a line of mostly rundown houses and outbuildings,many of them unpainted and some of them covered in bare tar paper.I can't recall a house along that streach of road that didn't look worn and shabby.

Our house,as best as I can recall was better than most,and certainly bigger than most of the ones nearby.It was tall,white and had green trim,though it was badly in need of paint.In the rear was a barn,and a chicken coop.During the day chickens strutted about in the back part of the driveway,being too wary of passing cars to stray near the road.The barn was big and unpainted,and,to this day I have no idea what was kept in it,as my father was not a farmer.I recall the smell of hay and of animals coming from it's door,but that may be just an inference I'm drawing rather than an actual memory.

Inside the house was big.The ceilings were high and it always seemed cool.Even inside,the wind seemed to move about,never going away completely.On the main floor was a kitchen and a livingroom,both of which seemed huge to me.In truth,I don't recall a lot about the rooms in that house.None of the colours of the walls or any of the furniture.I only know that when we left,the furniture stayed behind.My mother used to make butter in those days,so that all I recall of the kitchen was that there were bottles of cream and small packages of yellow colouring in the refridgerator for that purpose.In the livingroom,heat came from out of the floor,near big window where I used to stand,or perhaps sit and watch the traffic roar by on highway eleven.

In those days I was less than three years old,and one of the things I was learning was to not go near the road.I don't recall that I had much attraction to the road,and I believe the cars passing freightened me enough so that I needed little convincing to stay well back in the driveway.So many time I recall being told not to go near the road.Everytime I was allowed outside,my mother would say it."Stay off the road."She kept close watch but there was also a little pen built of a couple of peices of fence,just outside the door.If she were going to leave us outside for any length of time,it was into the pen we went.She always called that the"cricket pen",though I am not certain why.My sister,at that time was a toddler and she never went outside the house without being penned up.

Traffic passing by was interesting.So many different cars and trucks,even military vechicles and log trucks.But by far the back part of the driveway was where all the most interesting things happened.Chasing the chickens occupied a good portion of my time,and,for a while some pigs would come to visit,or,more correctly,to root up our garden.They came from the farm just up the road,which was owned by a Mormon family with what seemed like dozens of kids.The pigs seemed safe enough.No one told me they were dangerous.My father would chase them with a shovel or throw rocks and they would run away,but they were never properly fenced in and kept coming back.If my father was unafraid of them,the same could not be said of one young girl who came to babysit us one day.I was out playing in the driveway when she came out of the house and herded me back inside.There were a half dozen or more large hogs nosing up the garden and I noticed that the largest of the lot was cut all along his back and bleeding.I suppose it was a fearsome looking sight,but I was never really afraid of the pigs.My life at that time seemed to take place either within the house,or in the dirt driveway,between the hogs and traffic.

Just to the south of us there was a mud road,going in an easterly direction from highway eleven.As far as I know we never went very far down that road,but everyday log trucks went down it and came back,piled high with logs.Not far down that road was a huge mud puddle that almost flooded out that road,and sometimes the trucks could not make it through.The puddle,I believe is the reason we never walked down that road.Nothing about that road was inviting at all.In fact,you could not walk around the puddle,nor even drive through it with a car.

Between us and that old logging road were our nearest neighbors.They lived in a trailer which was brown and white.It sat so that it's wide side was along the logging road.Of the people who lived there,I do not recall a lot.They were close friends with my parents and came over to our house a lot.They had a little girl about my age whom I played with in the field between our houses.As I recall.her name was Roxanne.Later,they moved to Newfoundland,and we went to visit them.By then they had more children.

Even though I have a very thin memory of the family living in that trailer,there was one incident I recall involving the woman who lived there.She had a husband too,but of him I have no memory at all.It was summer,and must have been close to the time we moved away to Moncton.All the snow was gone and the weather was neither hot nor cold but somewhere in between.We were out in the yard with a young woman who was babysitting us for the day when the woman who lived in the trailer appeared on her front step carrying a big cardboard box.She reached into the box and brough out a snowball which she threw in our direction.Then she threw another and another until all the snowballs were gone from the box.She must have made up the snowballs while there was still snow on the ground,then kept them in a freezer inside the trailer.Throwing snowballs seemed to give her pleasure,as she laughed and laughed,all the moreso because the days were now warm.From that I concluded that she liked the winter,and to this day,that is all that I know about that woman.

Down the road,towards Chatham was another farm,where the man who owned the pigs lived.He was,as I said,a Mormon with many children.At the time,I didn't know what a Mormon was,or what it had to do with the number of children.But some of his children always seemed to be at our place.Sometimes the boys would come up through the bushes to round up their pigs and chase them back home.And I'm certain that some of the older girls were around because they looked after us while both my parents were at work.Those girls were all plain looking and had long hair,though I don't recall that they dressed strangely at all.Most of the Mormons children were much older than myself and they all seemed very tall.I could never tell them one from the other,neither girls or boys.Occasionally we would wander down to their farm too,but I don't recall a lot about being there,except that their house seemed very crowded.There were people sleeping in the front room and always there was someone coming in or out.

When my mother worked,it was as a school teacher.She never went to teachers college,but there was a big shortage of teachers then,so you could teach without a special license.The school where she taught was just past where the Mormons lived,on the other side of the road.I was only there once and the building seemed very small,without much of a yard.It backed right up against some very dense bush and was very close to the road,like many of the buildings along that streach of road.There was a wood stove inside and a pile of wood alongside the building.That was the one constant reality of life in that part of the world.It was a world of wood and logs and dense forest.Any building of any size had wood stacked beside it or within it,and you didn't have to go very far to become lost in the woods.In most places the trees came right down to the road and a person could become quite confused as to where they were by stepping just a few yards into the bush.When I recall that school house I recall a rather primative looking world.