Friday, July 8, 2016

30 Fun Facts About Canada

It is four in the morning where I live. My hubby is snoring, which means I am awake. I will need a nap later.

There is a moth attacking the television that my laptop is hooked to, something that seems to bother me more at night than in the daylight hours.

The tomato and pepper plants that I bought a couple of weeks back are loaded with fruit that is hopefully going to make it to harvest time.

Our small dog is settling into life without his "big sister"...  as are we. Swiffer is getting rather spoiled, in a good way. Life goes on without my girl, Niki and I miss her every day.

Although it is a week past Canada's birthday (July 1), I am a proud Canadian. I have traveled and have found many people outside of Canada to be quite ignorant about my country. I have always done my best to straighten out the fallacies I encountered as best I could.

My country is vast and the people are diverse. For the most part, Canadians are polite and nice... but we will defend our country strongly if push comes to shove. Although we are similar across this nation, what the people of Quebec or Ontario think or do is not necessarily what those of the other provinces or territories think or do. Although most Canadians experience snow for part of the year, we do not live in igloos nor get around with sled-dogs and some places either don't get snow at all, or get such a small amount that it is gone within a few hours of falling. Toronto, our largest city, sits on about the same latitude as Madrid, Spain while Calgary sits on about the same latitude as London, England. Alberta experiences Chinook winds during most winters, which clears away the snow for a day or two and brings quite warm, sometimes hot, weather. If you look on a map of North America that shows latitudes, you will see that there are 13 U.S. states that sit entirely north of Canada's most southerly point.

Those are just a few things that I've corrected over the years. Recently I discovered a few more things about my country that I found both interesting and rather fun. I thought I'd share them with everyone. Enjoy as you learn a bit about "my home and native land"...

  1. Canada is the second largest country in the world by area, second only to Russia. To put Canada’s size in perspective: It’s bigger than the entire European Union (33 times bigger than Italy and 15 times bigger than France), more than 30 per cent larger than Australia, five times as big as Mexico, three times as big as India and about the same size as 81,975 Walt Disney Worlds put together.
  2. Canada has the largest coastline in the world.  To put that in perspective, Canada has 202,080 of the world’s total 356,000 kilometres of oceanfront property.
  3. Canada  has a population of approximately 35 million. Our average life expectancy is about 82 years.
  4. Canada has two official languages - Canadian English and French Canadian.
  5. The Canada-USA border is the longest international border in the world and does not have military defense.
  6. The national Canadian police force is called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Their "dress" uniforms are the "reds", however most of the force do not wear that uniform except for special occasions.
  7. Canada consumes more macaroni and cheese than any other nation in the world.
  8. Canada is the World's Most Educated Country: over half its residents have at least college degrees.
  9. Canada is the third largest producer of diamonds in the world.
  10. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world's lakes combined.
  11. Over 80% of the world's supply of maple syrup is produced in Canada - mainly in Quebec.
  12. Canada is the largest producer of natural uranium in the world.
  13. Scarborough, Ontario makes most of the world's Halls "cough" lozenges.
  14. New Brunswick-based McCain Foods makes one-third of the world's frozen French Fries.
  15. Canadian maple wood baseball bats are a Major League favourite.
  16. Canada is the largest exporter of green lentils in the world - 95% of them come from Saskatchewan.
  17. The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba produces coins for 60 different countries.
  18. Toronto-based Cervélo Cycles have been called the world's fastest and lightest bikes.
  19. Winnipeg, Manitoba makes the most of the world's "Scratch n' Win" cards.
  20. World's Best Cymbals come from New Brunswick - SABIAN cymbals are sold in 120 countries around the world.
  21. Canada has a world-class submarine fleet, Atlantis Submarines, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia The company actually owns more submarines than many countries have in their navy - but the Atlantis fleet is used for tourism.
  22. Trenton, Ontario makes many of the world's dinosaurs - Research Casting International has created more than 750 of the prehistoric creatures for museums around the world.
  23. Thanksgiving was celebrated first in Canada in 1578 in Newfoundland, 43 years before the U.S. in 1621.
  24. Kelowna makes most of the world's water slides. Canada's Whitewater West Industries Ltd. is the largest water parks attraction company in the world.
  25. Peterborough is the Custom Aircraft Capital of Canada - they don't make the actual airplanes, but Flying Colour Corp. makes the inside totally unique for customers around the globe.
  26. Every Christmas, one million letters are addressed to Santa Claus
    at his own postal code: "H0H 0H0, North Pole, Canada."
  27. Roughly 30% of Canada's total landmass is covered by forest and most of that forest land is publicly owned.
  28. Canada has its own mysterious lake creature, Ogopogo, who reportedly lives in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
  29. There’s an estimated 249.67 billion accessible barrels of bitumen in the world and Canada has about 70.8 per cent of it — four times more than Kazakhstan and six times more than Russia.
  30. Our national and provincial parks are big, sometimes bigger than other countries. For instance, Wood Buffalo National Park, which is located partly in Alberta and partly in the Northwest Territories, is 44,807 square kilometres, which makes it bigger than Denmark or Switzerland.
So there you have them. Some of these things I knew... but some came as a surprise to me. How about you?

Monday, June 20, 2016

It Ain't Easy Being... Old

Although I am not as old as some, I am a lot older today than I once was.

Back in my teens life was hard enough without having to think about ever getting old. 'Old' was my mother... already in her early 40s, her life [in my opinion] almost finished.

A few years later I was in my twenties and I still never though about getting old. I was too smart for that. For some reason my mother had managed to live past fifty, although I didn't have the time to bother to ponder the mystery of her elder state. I was single, married, divorced... all between 25 and 33... so I did not have time to dwell on my getting older, let alone anyone else's.

Then it was years of working menial jobs, getting better educated, and then working only slightly better jobs. I worked pretty hard too. My education was 'business' at DeVry in Calgary, which was a good thing in a way. I had tossed around the idea of becoming a vet technician and that might have been better, but fate sent me to DeVry, so there I went. I mostly learned about computers and after graduation, although I never did have the opportunity to work as a manager, I did get on as a secretary with the government. The secretary part was rather ironic since my typing teacher in high school had told me it was something I'd never be. I was good on computers though, and was diligent, smart, and hard working too, so of course I stayed at the lowest level for secretaries. Bosses in government places don't want a smart or hard working secretary. That might make them look bad. LOL

At any rate, I found myself, at the age of 55, laid-off with a bit of a settlement in hand, so I went into partnership in a laundromat. Let me give anyone out there a word of advice about investing in a laundromat... if it isn't in the middle of a low-income area in the city, it must be located close to at least one 'reserve'. Otherwise there isn't going to be enough money in it to support anyone. I was broke, living in a small town, and close to 60 when I finally realized I'd made it to older than my mother was the last time I thought about her age with any amount of interest.

My retirement was rather forced. I had given up my half of the laundromat, which didn't pay anything anyway. I couldn't afford to move and there were no jobs in the area. I was also struggling with medical stuff that begins to show up after 55 or so. For me it was high blood pressure and COPD. The high blood pressure is important to get the meds right but after that, it's pretty easy to live with. The COPD is something else again. Even with the right meds, it's difficult at best and damned hard when it gets bad. Breathing is rather important for a good life. Every change in the weather affects people with COPD for either good or bad. With all that, I became depressed. Which isn't helpful.

But of course that's not all that showed up after 55. Anything that you put your body through when you're young WILL come back to haunt you once you turn 50 to 55. It will get increasingly worse too. I wasn't a dare devil, but I had a few things happen. I broke my neck at 20 in a car accident (I was not driving), so I now have some headaches to contend with that I never had before.

At 29 I froze my knees when I had to walk out of the bush after the back axle on the truck I was in fell off in the middle of the forest in the middle of winter in northern Ontario. I was told that arthritis was going to happen later in life and it did. I might have been able to delay the bulk of the trouble for a long while, but my poor knees took a beating when I turned 50 and went whale watching. I haven't been able to kneel since. So washing floors on my hands and knees, washing the tub, and anything that involves getting down or squatting is impossible. Having a bath, for instance. I love baths but had to give them up after 50 because getting in and back out of the tub is really difficult and hurts my knees for hours after.

Eyesight is another thing. Yes, most people begin to wear glasses as they age. I used to have 20/15 vision so I wasn't expecting to have to begin to wear them until at least into my 60s. I never thought of floaters... never even knew what they were... but, although my vision is 20/20, I have very blurry vision because of the floaters. They ner completely go away. They are thick and heavy or lighter but always blurring my vision. Bright light makes seeing harder. They make reading, using a computer, driving, and just seeing a challenge.

As we age, 'stuff' continues to happen in our lives. My husband's little dog decided he didn't want me to groom him, so he bit me... hard. Fortunately I heal quickly. My white blood count skyrocketed and within a couple of weeks the wound was healed. Today (6 weeks later) there is barely a scar. All without stitches. But there is nerve damage and that hand is much weaker than it was. I can't close it completely... only sort of curl it. I have to do therapy and see if that will help to strengthen it. There is no guarantee it will help.

Being retired is nice in some ways, but not so much in others. I used to know what I should be doing every day. Even on my days off I knew what I needed to do. Shopping, cleaning, visiting friends... life stuff. Now it all runs together without structure. It's kind of nice at first, but after awhile the days don't matter. Especially where we live. Out of town in a house with no yard, only a little deck, and the view out the window. We face north, which makes the house cool in summer but not so warm in winter. I'd like to live in the city, but we can afford it here. Fixed income, they call it. Enough to survive. Not enough to live. We go nowhere for the fun of it and do nothing that costs extra. We have to save up for a birthday lunch. We buy our clothes at thrift stores. We stock up on groceries when they're on sale. We have no savings or investments

We are the baby boomers that no one bothers to mention. What people forget about most baby boomers is we came from LARGE families (6 to 15 children). So, if our parents do leave anything it is split 10 ways, not 2. And a lot of our parents spent or are spending what they saved... which is not something I complain about at all. They should spend it. But I do get tired of people assuming that all baby boomers are rich and are having a wonderful time tripping around the world sightseeing. That seems to be the bunch who follow us... you know... OUR children, the ones WE gave to. There are some who are rich... but not all baby boomers, not even most. 'Most' live like we do.

At any rate, as I age, life isn't getting any easier. Expenses raise every year and medical problems increase. Not because I was careless with my body. I never smoked, didn't do drugs, and hardly drank. Life just happens and there isn't a lot that any of us can do about it. You can try. You can think you're going to change it. But in the end, getting older is getting older. Your body will do what it will and you will die when you die. Of course, if you are stupid, you will likely rush things on a bit, but there's no guarantee about that either. I've seen smokers, druggies, and drinkers (sometimes all in one person) die in their 20s and live into their 80s. There doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason. You're born. You live. You die. The cycle of life. We live longer than dogs. Turtles live longer than us. No sense. No reason. Just life.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 9, 2016 - Spring

Spring has arrived where I live. Birds have returned from their winter homes and are singing their little hearts out as I write this. It is 18 Celsius (65 F) outside. The snow and ice are fast melting away. Spring is VERY early.

I live in Alberta, Canada. Spring usually arrives sometime toward the middle of May. We didn't have much of a winter so the farmers won't be happy. They need the snow for water on their fields. But I'm complaining. I love spring. I hope spring is long this year. I love the bright greens on the trees. I love the birds as they return. Of course, this IS Alberta. We could get a blast-y old blizzard in a day or two and be right back in to winter for another week or more. But today it is spring. The deer and antelope should show their wary heads soon. They generally show up shortly after the first warm days have past. They are so beautiful. We don't get them in the yard but they do show up in the fields around us, off in the distance, staring at us as we drive by. The deer are small whitetails; the antelope have their stripes. Beautiful.

I live with my hubby in a rented mobile home on 80 acres near the Canada/US border. The nearest town is four miles or so away. Our landlord operates a horse and dog boarding kennel but we have nothing to do with that. We just benefit from the peace and tranquility of the place, although we don't have a front lawn or a yard that belongs to the house we live in. The property is well treed but surrounded by grain fields that are run by the local Hutterite colony. We won't hear the tractors for another month at least... if the weather holds it could be sooner, but generally they wait to be sure the weather doesn't kill the seeds before they start.

It is the birds we get to see the most often... sparrows, doves, robins, geese, the odd finch or other colourful bird, quail. Many kinds arrive and leave all spring, some just passing through, while others make their nests in the trees on the property. Some are vocal, others are more quiet. The doves, once they start, will call to each other throughout the day and evening. The sparrows chirp all the time. Right now I suspect is nest building time for most of them.

At any rate, spring is here for a day or two at least, perhaps for the rest of this early time of the year... and I'm happy that it has arrived.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's a Question of Rudeness

I wasn't sure where I should talk about this... over on my "private" blog, the one that's only open to friends and family... or here on the public one, the one that is seen by a lot more people. I obviously decided that this topic needed a larger audience. Why? Because it's important. Because rudeness seems to be becoming accepted as part of life. Because by accepting rudeness as "okay", once we ignore it when we see it or, worse yet, don't even recognize it, we devalue ourselves and all the work and growth that went into humans becoming "civilized".

People who know me have this idea that I'm invincible, that nothing bothers me. Well, truth be told, I am actually very sensitive. I am not titanium. I am water. When I hurt, I hurt deeply, although I hardly ever show it. And the ripple-effects go on and on and on. Today I had "an incident" on one of my social pages. First, you must understand, I don't use social media very often. On this particular social page, I only have a very few contacts. They are all supposedly friends... and family. I have them as contacts because I feel I should be able to trust them.

Here's the story...

I innocently shared an article from the news because it was something I was interested in and something I felt like sharing. As I said, I seldom post anything on social media and when I do it is something important to me in some way... big or small. I didn't expect anyone to bother with a response, although one or two might "thumbs up" it. I shared it, not for anyone but myself. Within a few minutes, I had someone respond with "Who cares?"

"Who cares?" How completely rude! How utterly hurtful! And from someone I considered a friend. Doubly hurtful then.

Rudeness abounds on the internet and particularly on social media, which is why I seldom use it. Usually it's trolls who are rude to complete strangers. Their goal is to incite an argument so that they can be rude to even more people. They think this might make them "famous". I pretty much ignore trolls because I don't believe in giving them what they want, but now and then I will speak out, if the situation warrants it.

But this wasn't a troll... this was someone I trusted, someone I thought cared about me. And that "who cares?" hurt deeply. What the article was about and what the rest of the comment was is neither here nor there. "Who cares?" cut deeply. It was rude, uncalled for, hateful... and aimed directly at me. Because that's the nature of "who cares?" It's like saying "who cares what you think?" or "who cares about you?" It's like saying "your opinions or ideas are completely worthless". And not one other so-called "friend" stepped up and said "that's just wrong". Not one. Which validated the "who cares?" and said it was okay.

Now, before you say I'm far too sensitive, let me put this same situation in the real world.
You're at a gathering with family and friends and someone brings up a news topic. Everyone around that person is listening. Then, out of nowhere, one of them says "who cares?" Is that not rude? Yes, it is. It is unacceptably rude (unless you're from an area where everyone treats everyone else with compete and utter disrespect). Everyone within earshot at that party would likely stop to stare and at least one would say "that's rather rude, don't you think?" or words to that effect. That's the real world. A world that is becoming more and more intolerant of abuse and bullying.
But on social media people are more apathetic (or is it pathetic?). Rudeness is accepted as normal more often than not. Bullying and abuse abound... and people seldom defend anyone, although there are some who defend the abused. But ponder this... just as in the real world, when we say nothing, we are telling the bully (because that's what it is, after all) that what they've said is okay. But worse than that, we are telling the person being bullied that she or he is worthless and that she or he deserves to be spoken to in that manner. And that isn't okay.

So I'm quitting that social media page. I don't need that sort of hurt in my life. The people there know where I am. Everyone else can read me here or on my other blogs. I hope you ponder what I've said, take it to heart, and help to bring change about. Because the world needs us all to bring more peace, more love, more hope, more magic, more art, more good... and to defeat bullying, abuse, fear, war, and paranoia.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016... Already?

As this new year arrived, I was pretty much forced to realize how many years have gone by since I was a young woman, just leaving home and having my first Christmas in my own apartment. That was 1971. I was 21. In looking back I smile at how naive I was, how innocent about life... and I thought I was so smart and worldly. Today I know that I still have very much to learn. Which is why I've renamed this blog from "author" to "late bloomer". I have decided that I will use this blog to talk about the different things that I do that have to do with "creative genius". We're all creative geniuses in our own ways.. some of us just haven't given ourselves permission to learn where that genius lies. I intend to give myself permission now, even if I am retired and "old". I want to explore all manner of creative avenues and I want to share those explorations here.

I was given a set of art supplies for Christmas by my life partner. He knows that I am quite artistic in many areas and that I want to paint again. I spent a year living and working in Vancouver, BC and completed about 30 paintings while I was there. I had started painting before I moved there, but really learned a lot while there. I spent my summer weekends in Stanley Park watching the street artists as they worked and admiring what they accomplished. I talked to the lady in the local art supply store about art. I spent hours in the Vancouver Art Gallery absorbing the various pictures. But then I moved and set that aside and it is only recently that I've wanted to pick up a brush again. Now I have the time. Now I can spend a few dollars each month on supplies. So, this year I shall write about my experience as a painter.

I also loom knit, which is a good way of knitting for people like me. I've been loom knitting for about three years now and always enjoy producing things. But I have a big tub full of items that I've knitted so I need to find a home for them. For Christmas this year I had a good time making scarves and hats for everyone and they all seemed to enjoy getting them, so I will continue to make things and will write about that here as well.

Of course, there is my writing, which I haven't done much of this last year. We've been settling into living in a house again and that's taken effort and time, so some things were set aside. But I do love to write, so I shall get back to that this year as well.

There may also be other things that attract me and I will probably mention them as the year progresses, but for now these are the things that my mind is concentrating on. So, I hope to see you here as I progress and learn and have fun doing creative things and learning about myself. Happy New Year and may 2016 allow you to discover at least a part of your own creative genius!