Thursday, 21 February 2019

Random thoughts

I think of certain people at odd times. I am sure everyone does.

My father died in March 1997. You think of people on the important dates, and at unexpected times thoughts of them will come up during the course of your life.

One of my father's great loves was peanut butter on toast, sometimes with jam, for breakfast in the morning with his coffee before heading off to work. He would be up before anyone and have his toast and coffee and share it with whatever dog we had at the time. I can remember a lot of times he would get up and have it as a midnight snack. Quite a few times he would have it for dessert. I inherited the same habit. I like to have grape jelly with my peanut butter and toast.

In 1974 my father spent over three months in an intensive care unit, first in a hospital in the town we were living, then he was sent to a hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia where they could do more for him. He was suffering from blood clots and came close to dying from them during that time. I do not recall seeing him during that time.

We knew a few families quite well on our block at that time. Most of them were blue collar types. My father was a heavy duty mechanic, the guy right across the street was a welder. One of the neighbours was a guy with the last name of Lane. My parents were friends with him and his wife. Mr. Lane was a guy that was on a different path. He was smart, had a university degree, and was a professional who owned his own company.

Mr. Lane and his wife were in Vancouver when my father was in the hospital and they stopped in for a visit. Dad was quite ill. Mr. Lane and his wife were dressed up as they were going to dinner in a high end restaurant. Mr. Lane asked if there was anything they could get him. My father said he was dying for a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for some reason he could not get one in the hospital. Mr. Lane and his wife went off to dinner and near the end the waiter asked if there was anything else they would like. Mr. Lane asked for a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich to go. From what I heard the waiter did a bit of a double take and said he would check with the kitchen. I believe Mr. Lane said it was important and would appreciate it if they could accommodate this request. The restaurant came through and they charged him six dollars, expensive for 1974. He delivered it to the hospital and my father was damn happy to get it. Dad talked about getting peanut butter and jelly delivered to him for years.

Dad got better, we moved from that town not long after as dad accepted a transfer, and I only saw the Lane family one or two times after that.

Not sure why I was thinking about this event recently. Maybe I was thinking that a small gesture can have a big impact on someone else. Or that I was thinking that I hope there is peanut butter and grape jelly in the afterlife. 

Summer reminder

There was a nice short break in the cold snap and temperatures are set to dip again. Daylight Savings is March 10 this year and winter will soon be on its way out.

From July 14, 2018.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

A Baker's Dozen

I always appreciate a stained glass window, no matter how small and simple or large and detailed. They unfailingly catch my eye and make the day a little brighter.  Here's a very small selection of personal favourites from churches I've seen over the past few years.   


Saint Paul's United Methodist Church, Helena, Montana

The rose window from a church of modern/industrial design.  The clear and yellow round pieces are about one and a half inches thick in the centre and give the captured light a dimensional quality...when you move, the light moves along with you.

Directly below:

Saint Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta

Some sections of the windows at Saint Pat's are constructed with glass that's at least a half inch thick.  Unlike the thicker rounded pieces mentioned above, here the edges are chipped to fit into the leading.  These chipped edges catch the light at different angles to create quite a dazzling display.  See how the crosses in the upper and lower sections have "extra sparkle."

Saint Andrew's Anglican Church, Tompkins, Saskatchewan

A small town church with an exquisitely designed triptych of stained glass from England behind the altar.  I have a friend whose father was the reverend here in the 1950's.

Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Parish, Weyburn, Saskatchewan

A window of modern design.  The "rays of light" in upper part of this window are spectacular and remind me of the "Jacob's Ladder" effect when sunlight streams down in rays between the clouds.  My sister played organ here when she lived in Weyburn.

Saint James Catholic Church, Powers Lake, North Dakota

The arched window above the front doors. There are another seven larger windows of like design inside the church.

Nazareth Lutheran Church, Kenmare, North Dakota

One pair of windows from a large church in town.  It was open and I could hear activity coming from the door leading downstairs . . . about a dozen ladies were quilting.  I was just in time for afternoon tea.

Saint Luke's Catholic Church, Noonan, North Dakota

A rare combination of burnt orange and purple in this, the smallest of eight windows in the church.  Many of the traditionally styled stained glass windows in this part of the world were designed and assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as are these.

Zion Lutheran Church, south of Noonan, North Dakota

The Ladies Aid donated this window to the church . . . I'm sure lots of cookies and Christmas cakes were sold to finance the purchase.  Finding the maker's name in the lower left hand corner of the centre panel was a rare treat: Studios Ford-McNutt Glass Co. Mpls.

Lesje Lutheran Church, near Souris, North Dakota

It was frigidly cold outside and in the distance I could see smoke rising from the chimney of a big country church. It was warm inside and all ready for the Christmas service. It also had bathrooms! These are the windows that surround the front doors.

Trinity Lutheran Church, near Ambrose, North Dakota

An abandoned country church with simple stained glass panels in the windows.  I was both surprised and pleased to see the windows mostly intact with only a few panels missing or broken.  A bird had attached its nest just inside one of the broken panes. 

Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta

I love this large five panel window.  The expansive use of turquoise coloured glass around the main lower panels is unusual and attractive.  The windows here are all from England.  The same friend's father was reverend here in the 1960's.

Bethany Lutheran Church, Tilley, Alberta

These stained glass crosses are on the front doors of the church. The church itself is of Danish design and is quite a rarity in these parts.

Saint Paul Mission Church, Hays, Montana

My personal favourite in this collection of windows. This is the only church I've seen that visually celebrates native Americans. Nice to see that.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.

- Michael Truman

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Just wanted to thank . . .

Michael Truman. Including tomorrow's post he has contributed one hundred posts to this blog and helped me keep this blog going. I certainly had no idea it was that many and I appreciate all the posts he has contributed. All of the posts that anyone has contributed are tagged with their name if anyone wants to search them.

2nd Avenue and Thunder Road

A few photos from this past summer . . . the "Pool" elevator in Glentworth, Saskatchewan.

The hotel/bar/restaurant here is still open and caters mainly to locals and hunters; they make a great Denver sandwich. 

It was beastly hot outside and the sky was filled with smoke from all the forest fires.  Inside the restaurant was cool and homey.  Friendly people.

- Michael Truman

Monday, 18 February 2019

1901 Balgonie United Church

A beautifully restored 1901 stone church in Balgonie, Saskatchewan. It was used as a church until 1973 when the church moved to a newer building nearby. The stone church was renovated into a seniors centre and later into a daycare. After the daycare closed the Town acquired the church and assisted with the renovation efforts. 

When we stopped in the town in mid-January 2019, we were lucky that a town employee had stopped at the church to check things over and graciously let us come inside to see the interior. He himself has helped with the work inside the church and he gave us a tour - we thanked him for his contributions on preserving prairie history before we continued on our way. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth a few minutes of your time!

- Jason Paul Sailer

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Whatever happened to . . .

. . . cheap yellow pads? It is kind of weird how things disappear over time. I am doing my taxes and some studying for a course this weekend. When I was a full time student I used to buy stacks of cheap yellow writing pads to write pages upon pages of notes. The paper was rough with no finish to it, in fact the paper looked like wood pulp in some cases. The pads were perfect because I was not keeping the notes when I was done. I would write and rewrite the same things to help me organize and remember course material. An added bonus is that my handwriting would get better with constant repetition for when I needed to write a test. Anything I wanted to ever keep for notes I would type and keep in a better format.

I went looking for the cheap yellow pads recently and they were damn hard to find. I believe the issue is that everything is done on computer these days, even the final exams for courses. Fewer people write anymore which I think makes people just a little dumber.

For those that are curious I am getting a refund. It will go towards the road trip fund. 

Stony Beach

Grain elevator at Stony Beach, SK
I was in Regina, Saskatchewan recently and took some time to go visit the grain elevator at Stony Beach, between Regina and Moose Jaw on the CN branch line. This elevator is fairly unique in that it still wears the full Saskatchewan Wheat Pool logos.

The rail line is still in use by CN - I'm not sure about the elevator.

While I was there, I drove through the hamlet's few streets and spotted this old church (?), now boarded up. Based on a little Googling, it could have been an Anglican church.

The white building beside it intrigued me. It looks like an old railway section house.

The hamlet seems to have a fair number of people still living there. There is a lot of industrial activity nearby, as Stony Beach is just north of Belle Plaine (on the Trans-Canada Highway) where there is a large Mosaic potash mine, a new Ilta Grain loading facility, some natural gas wells, and the CP Rail main line.

While I was driving to Stony Beach, I saw a fox cross the road. I was able to pull over and pick my camera off the passenger seat and snap some photos as it bounded across a field. The photos are very grainy (ISO 6400) as it was still pretty dark and the fox was a good distance away. Still, I'm glad I photographed it. It was cute.

Finally, here's an arty photo I took of the grain elevator by zooming the lens while the shutter was open. I like the effect.

Thanks for reading! More about the Stony Beach grain elevator.

- Steve Boyko

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Another attempt at art

Friday recap

My mother's car needed a quick trip to the dealer for a fix. Mom does not like to drive very far these days. Proof of that is that her car is over five years old and has slightly less than 40,000km on it.

I stayed overnight at her place. Then I got up early Friday morning to drive her car ninety minutes into Edmonton for its 9:00am appointment. Edmonton is the closest Kia dealer. You cannot drop your car off anymore, you have to be checked in. This seems to involve taking a tablet and taking a photo of your VIN, a photo of the mileage, and photos of the car. Then you sign some forms confirming what you already told them you wanted fixed. The key is handed off to someone who drives off with the car and you get relegated to a cramped waiting area.

I shortly got a text asking me to confirm, via text, that they could communicate with me by text, and show me a video confirming that the car was in the shop being worked on. I texted back "Just fix the car, not interested in the video". I contracted with you to perform a service and I really could not care about the fancy technology, just give me what I came for. If they were going to give me a wall job I think I could figure it out. By the way, a wall job is where they park your car by the wall, do nothing, make you wait an indeterminate amount of time, then give you a bill with some dirt stains on it to look like something was done.

What work they could do was done in a timely manner. Of course there is always that part that has to be ordered because they do not have it so you need to book a return appointment. I will have to pick up mom's car and repeat this process at a future date. I then drove her car back ninety minutes, this time in falling and blowing snow, then picked up my vehicle and drove myself another fifty-five minutes to where I live. Being the absolutely stellar son that I am I made sure to gift mom with a full tank of gas.

What gets me about car dealerships, or at least the ones I have recently visited, is that these days is you cannot tell the staff from the customers. A service adviser used to look like a service adviser. Now they seem to be young women, or hipster types, who I am not sure even have a driver's license. They dress like they are hanging out in a trendy coffee shop. I wandered through the showroom out of boredom. There was only one salesman who had a suit and remotely looked like he had some interest in his job. They rest needed to be showcased on that television show "What Not to Wear". I always leave hoping at least the mechanic knows what they is doing and that the car does not fall apart when I am on the highway.

To me impressions make a difference in how I view your business. I have kind of ranted about this before, I just had to revisit the subject again.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

North of the Hills

Just north of the Cypress Hills this past summer . . . fresh hay bales!

A mile or two down this road is the old Congregational Church and Cemetery.

- Michael Truman

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The joys of trying to get smarter

I was off at a paid training session on Monday and Tuesday in Red Deer, Alberta for my job. I signed up for this because I do want to learn how I can do things better. I arrived Sunday afternoon at the hotel. It is about a ninety minute drive from where I live.

We are in a cold snap in Alberta. My hotel room was a bit cold. I had to keep bumping up the heat until it was warm enough to sleep. I got blasted awake at midnight because some prior occupant of my room set the alarm for that time. That was the first night.

The class was fine. I learned a few things. Most of it was stuff that I had taken before. We were in a conference room in the hotel and it was slightly chilly.

The next night the alarm went off at midnight again. I was sure that I had turned it off the last time. I would have unplugged it and thrown it across the room but there is a small cable running from a small alarm clock to the wall outlet and I would have had to move furniture to get at it. It escaped my wrath for the time being. Then at 5:40am the fire alarm went off. I know the exact time because I checked my phone. I scrambled to turn on the bedside light and get my clothes on and my coat in case there was an actual fire and I had be outside. Just as I was about to put my  hand on the doorknob the fire alarm stopped. I was not going to be able to get more sleep after this.

After breakfast I lugged my stuff into my car and turned the key. It slightly protested then started. I sat in a freezing cold car for twenty minutes to let it run. I have two keys for it but you cannot lock it while it is running. That task completed, I then checked out as I did not want to have anything to do with this place again. Off to class in the conference room. They do feed you at these things, sandwiches, coffee or tea, and desserts that have no discernible taste. If I ever go to another one of these events I think I will pay for a different hotel where I can get some warmth and decent sleep.

Overgrown Trail in the Hills

Take a little break from winter . . .

An overgrown trail just west of Horseshoe Canyon Lookout in the Cypress Hills.

I always try to make it up there at least once each year when the spring flowers are in bloom.

- Michael Truman

Monday, 11 February 2019

Prague Church

Head west on Highway 26 from Camrose, Alberta and you will see this sign on the south side of the highway. When I have the time I now turn down roads where I see signs like this. You never know what you might find.

In this case, three kilometres down the road you find Prague Church. It is likely not in use anymore. There is a sign right across the road marking where Prague School, a one room school, once stood.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Random barn post

Taken near Niton Junction, Alberta on a very cold February 3, 2019.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The windmill post

You do not see many of these in Alberta that are not damaged by the wind. 

Friday, 8 February 2019

Deep freeze

I had this silly idea this current cold snap would be relatively short. So much for that idea.

Thinking warm thoughts and planning out hypothetical motorcycle trips for the summer. This weekend I will likely avoid going anywhere. Hope your weekend will be fun.

Summer will eventually arive

Taken while out hiking in Kananaskis Country in Alberta July 22, 2018.

In the midst of this cold weather I am thinking of summer.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Abandonded Stone House II

Another abandoned stone house, located north of Regina, Saskatchewan - visited in January 2019 with permission of the landowner.

- Jason Paul Sailer