Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Hey ewe!

The neat thing about living in a semi-rural town (I am only a few minutes by vehicle to being very rural) is that things happen here that do not happen in a city. A lady dropped into our office needing some assistance. She had a two day old lamb and needed a bottle warmed up. The lamb was one of a set of triplets, the mother rejected this one. The lady was from a farm and had to get some things done and therefore took the lamb with her. At two days old the lamb needed to be fed every few hours and kept warm. One of the staff warmed the bottle and the lamb got fed. 

Yes, the lamb is doing well and will end up being a pet.

Loverna elevators

These used to be in Loverna, Saskatchewan which is flirting with ghost town status. They are now on a farm a few miles from Loverna.

Loverna itself is close to being a ghost town. You can street view it on Google.



Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Justin Townes Earle







May we all

It is what I want but it is not enough of what I want

I have some minor guilty feelings about driving my 2012 KIA Rondo to places where I really should not be driving it. I do not really like the car however I do not abuse it. I am reasonably careful taking it down rural roads.

I have been keeping an eye out for a used truck. Not an SUV, an actual truck. I had one years ago, a beat up manual Ford Ranger that refused to die. I do not need one. I want one. There is a difference. I want something that I can cruise down rural roads that is capable of going more places than the car. Something sturdy, something I am not going to be upset over if it suffers getting a dent.

When I was in my late teens my father bought an early 1970's Ford Bronco that had a three speed column shift. It would be theft proof in this day and age. I spent the summer helping him do the brakes and wiring among other fixes. We put a winch on it later. You could unbolt and remove the top and you had a convertible. You did not care if it rained since it was a metal interior, just hose it and drain it. My dad and I once deep-sixed it trying to cross a river that turned out to be deeper than we thought. The water was up to the windows. We got out through the windows onto the roof and hopped onto the riverbank. We hauled it out, dad turned the key, and it fired right up. One day I came home to find out that my father sold it to put money towards a car for my sister. That broke my heart. I loved that thing and regretted that I did not get to drive it more. You really wish someone would make something like this again. I bet they would make a killing.

I recently checked out an older truck on a buy/sell page. One of my problems is that I am frugal bordering on being cheap. I do not want to spend a lot of money on this and I also do not want to end up with a project. Projects cost you money. The truck I looked at would fit the bill. It was less than I wanted to pay. The problem was that it was not enough of what I wanted. I could not picture myself driving down a country road in it so I passed. Used trucks are a popular item in Alberta. I doubt I am going to find that gem at a rock bottom price, they do not exist anymore. The great stuff from my younger years that has been kept up is way too expensive, the guys my age are not going to part with them anyway. I am going to have to raise my budget and search some more. It has to be a truck. That way I can put a gun rack in it.

Monday, 26 February 2018

One million page views?

Not even close. More like 42.5% of that. Of course if you do not post much you cannot expect much in the number of views. I would complain about my declining numbers except I have not been posting much in the way of content.

The current blog forecast calls for sparse and sporadic posts. Winter is making it difficult to get out to places. Last year at this time I was riding a motorcycle on the highway. It is a different story this year. Snow and a few snowstorms are keeping me from places that I want to go. It is currently melting during the day and turning roads icy overnight. More snow is supposed to be on the way. Spring will eventually come allowing me to get out more. I am getting a little ansty as I have a few places I want to explore. At this time I do not want to drive down icy rural gravel roads.

My employer decided that this coming Saturday all of the employees need to attend a conference featuring a motivational speaker. Lots of things have motivated me at various times, a speaker has never been one of them. With luck there will be some way I can get out of this thing. So not much of interest on this front.

Salem United Church, Beaver County, Alberta

Rural Alberta February 18, 2018.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Claremont School 1914 - 1941

Schools are where you find them. Sometimes right in a farmer's yard. 

North of Oyen, Alberta February 10, 2018.


Friday, 23 February 2018

Fairacres School

Visited in the bitter cold on February 10, 2018. I froze my hands bad enough that they were numb once I got back inside the vehicle. I was in someone else's vehicle, I left my hat and gloves in my vehicle. I figured it would warm up. I was wrong. I would do it all over again.

Formerly a school. Converted at some time in the past to a granary. Now it just sits. This is the second location. It was moved from its original location due to eventual lack of students.



Whenever you can find an old school you soon discover there was no standard building plan for one room schools. There is a wide variety of school types. That is part of what makes this fun. 


There is a hole on the other side and you can see right through the building.


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The abandoned grain elevator post

Which is exactly what this is. Truth in advertising. 

This is in Esther, Alberta which is essentially a ghost town.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Adventures in waiting at a dealership while your mother's car gets recall notices resolved

Saturday morning 10:00am dealership appointment that I was early by half an hour. I dislike being late and they booked me in early. It was recall work and I did not expect them to treat it like it was high priority. I figured they would have it for the day. They guy that booked me was was excellent. The weird thing was that he really looked like Paul Giamatti. He could have passed for his twin. I wonder if Paul Giamatti is in Edmonton working at KIA dealership to research an upcoming movie role.

I was slightly surprised mom let me take her car in. Mom has this paranoia that I am going to destroy her car that she is in love with in some kind of horrible accident. I have this sneaky suspicion she is more concerned about the car than me should that ever happen. However after all these years she might think I am capable of doing stuff for her without something catastrophic occurring. 

So I had to entertain myself for several hours. I wandered onto the showroom floor which was a mistake. At that time of day the ratio of salespeople to people like me was about five to one. I am guessing that the dealership was looking for some kind of hip young edgy feel to it. There were a few hipster types. One looked like he shopped at Goodwill and not in the good section. No one wore an actual suit. A different guy walked up to me and sported something that was not quite a ponytail or a man bun. I politely brushed him off. Just about everyone hit me up within minutes. None of these guys in sales looked like someone I would be confident or comfortable buying a car from them. All looked like they never changed a tire in their life. A few I doubted even had a driver's license. When did salespeople stop looking like salespeople? The Asian lady in sales looked the most competent. I overheard that the lot attendant could not drive a stick shift. After viewing this group I was questioning if the mechanics knew what they were doing.

Thankfully a guy who I knew from a Facebook group met me for coffee. We had messaged  each other before over the last year. He lives in Edmonton so we met for the first time. We discussed photography, abandoned sites, and even fit in some Alberta politics. It killed about ninety minutes. The rest of the time was spent at book store that was in walking distance.

I got the car back just before 4:00pm when they shut down for the day. Everything was  taken care of and they even washed the car. The service guy, the Paul Giamatti lookalike, that I booked in with went over everything and was great. Mom was happy to get her car back in one piece. I even filled it up for her. 


Currently travelling

Not standing around like some I run across.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

TIme for a . . .

I am at a loss for a title and a description. Sometimes I post stuff.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Travel

When I was in grade school I had the desire to travel to travel to two places. Iceland and St. Lucia. Through an odd chain of events I did travel to St. Lucia for a week in 2012. Nice place. I liked it. I would not go back. Iceland remains a possibility.

I have no real interest in taking trips to exotic foreign locales. Some days I have a hard enough time with people getting my coffee order right at my local coffee shop. Therefore I have no desire to navigate through different customs and languages on vacation. I have a huge concern stepping on a plane and nervously wondering if the maintenance crews did their job or a wing is going to fall off midflight. There is a reason they serve alcohol on flights. There is no way anyone is ever going to get me on a cruise. The prospect of a storm at sea is even more terrifying.

I like travelling where I am. I am comfortable here and if I am going to go on an extended trip it will be Canada or the USA. There is more that I want to experience here. For anyone else that wants to travel abroad and expand their horizons I hope you have the time of your life. I know where I will be and what I will be enjoying.

On the road

This weekend will be spent looking after some stuff for mom. Her car has three recall notices (I only initially knew about one) and I will be getting those cleared up. I will be driving three hours to her place Friday night, then getting up Saturday to drive her car ninety minutes to the nearest dealer that can do the recall work. I get the pleasure of hanging around a dealership while they do the work then I get to drive ninety minutes back to drop off her car. 

Mom has had her car for five years and has averaged five thousand miles a year. These days she only feels comfortable driving around town. Doing this is not a big deal, it is just time consuming. This weekend is a long weekend so I might get the chance to explore.

Farming Valley School

This is a former one room schoolhouse just a little northwest of Oyen, Alberta on February 10, 2018. I have been here before and posted this before. This time I got a better look at it. There are probably better photos in this post compared to last time. I had a tour guide who knows the owners.


This is probably the most unique building of this kind that I have seen. It looks like it was meant to be bigger and somehow it got squeezed from the ends and pushed up in the middle. The bell tower is kind of oversized for the size of the school. 


This is one of those buildings that you would like to see preserved. This one is special. I would like to see this one hang on for years so more people can see it.



I had a look inside. There are odds and ends stored inside and nothing really to see. The blackboard is still up on the wall. Nothing really to see on the inside.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Now this is unique

Remains of a stone barn north of Oyen, Alberta February 10, 2018. You do not see many stone structures in rural Alberta. This is what remains of a stone barn built by a German immigrant to the area. There is nothing else near it. To get up close I flopped on my back and wormed under a barbed wire fence that is just off to the left of this photo. It was about -20C at the time. I really need to quit doing dumb things like this or at least do them in the summer.


I happen to like lone trees on the prairie so I had to get the tree by itself.



Some of the rocks used in this are pretty big. This definitely took a lot of work. This is just off a dead end road. If I was not shown where this was I would never have found it.


Trying to get artistic with this photo.



I would have liked to see what it looked like years ago. Something like this is rare.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Communication

This is where the Lanfine Post Office once stood. Lanfine is west of Oyen, Alberta and there is nothing really here now except for a hall. I have seen a few post office markers in Alberta and a couple in Saskatchewan. At one time if you wanted to get your mail it could be a one or two day affair to get to the post office, sometimes longer.


Dorothy elevator, Dorothy, Alberta

Taken in the early morning on February 10, 2018. This is a well known site and it must be the subject of thousands of photos.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Classic red barn

West of Hanna, Alberta beside Highway 9 February 10, 2018.

Got my owl

It is common to see Snowy Owls perched on fenceposts in rural areas. I rarely see the other ones. A friend of mine spotted this one in a barn and I was able to get four quick photos. This one was the best. I might never get an owl shot this good again. For me this might be too good, I might find out later that this is a stuffed owl set up in a window to keep other birds away.

Regardless, this is north of Oyen, Alberta on February 10, 2018.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Discovered this blog

I love the look of this and I really like what this person is doing. Take a look at this:

vanessawoodsphotography.com/blog

Taking photos in the cold in rural Alberta

Jenn from westofthefifthmeridian.blogspot.com met up with me on February 10, 2018 to take photos of old schools, grain elevators, and whatever else interesting that we might find. My thoughts were that if I am driving icy roads and trudging through snow to take photos in -20C weather someone else should suffer with me.

It should be interesting how we approach the same subjects in the coming days.

Grave beginnings

Saturday was spent in Oyen, Alberta being shown some of the sights by someone who has lived in the area all his life. I had met him once in person a few years ago. We have corresponded off and on about local history. What brought us together recently was a bit of a grave mystery. On a hunting forum I read in some parts of Alberta there are a few solitary graves out that hunters run across in the middle of nowhere. One grave they specifically mentioned in the forum and had a photo of was for Cecil P. Heffernan. The dates on his headstone were 1902 - 1915. The exact location was not mentioned. The people on the forum wondered what happened to Cecil. I was curious as well.

This is the photo that someone posted on the hunting forum.


I contacted my friend in Oyen. I was pretty sure the grave was not in his area but in an area he knew. I took a chance he might know something or know someone who may know. He did not know about it but he was intrigued. He did make some enquiries and within a few days he found out where the location was and the exact fate that befell Cecil. We had also discussed some old schools in the area that I had seen before and he said there were a few places that I missed that he could show me. I mentioned I would like to drop out to Oyen and meet up. We picked a date. A heavy hint was dropped that a bottle of Canadian twelve year old rye whisky would help matters immensely. I tracked down that particular request before heading out. I thought it was a fair price, or bribe, to pay for someone willing to be a tour guide for a large chunk of the day. Since a few old one room schools were on the agenda I invited a friend of mine along who loves that sort of thing. I might as well get my money's worth.

He showed us some very interesting places in the area. One of them is this lonely grave sitting in a field. This person died in a windstorm, possibly a tornado, in 1918. This is not far from Oyen. It is a little fenced enclosure with a simple cross in a farmer's field. Life as a settler years ago could be precarious.


Cecil P. Heffernan will be a story for another time. I did not get to see his resting place nor find out where it is. I do know his story. My host knows where it is and has not been there yet. I am sure that he wants to see it first. He does not have a blog but he does post photos in forums about Alberta history. I had previously told him he should post this tale somewhere. He did the work so he should reap the benefits, it is only right. I can wait.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Friday, 9 February 2018

Abandoned Alberta

Abandoned farmhouse in Vulcan County, Alberta January 14, 2018. This farm is not abandoned. There is a newer home on the property.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Snowpocalypse update

It is still snowing, not big flakes, the tiny ice crystals. It should stop quite soon, sooner than expected. The process of digging out has begun. This being southern Alberta a chinook will wander through and the temperatures will be just above freezing turning everything into a sloppy mess in a week. Days like these are when you want good winter tires and/or more than two wheel drive.




Snowpocalypse

There was a winter storm warning issued for my area yesterday. I really did not pay any attention to it because a lot of weather warnings come to nothing.

I was wrong. There had to be at least six inches of snow this morning. I am not sure how much we will have when this is done. I kind of hedged my bets by getting up an hour earlier than usual. I got stuck trying to get from the driveway onto the road however I managed to free myself. It is about twenty miles from where I live to Calgary. On the radio they were saying do not drive into Calgary unless it is necessary. This being Canada everyone thinks that being on the road is necessary. On the plus side I do not work in Calgary. Even better is that I only work about a mile from where I live.

Since yesterday evening there has been an uninterrupted heavy snowfall and it is not supposed to stop until late afternoon today. Schoolbuses have been cancelled. Plows are only getting to the critical areas. This sort of thing does not happen often here. and I have experienced worse storms and snowfalls. Last year in late February there was no snow here and I was riding my motorcycle. The way the snow is falling today I might just leave my car at work and drive home. It might be faster.

I would like to own one but I have no place to put it

Running around rural Alberta you sometimes see grain elevators on farms. I believe there used to be over three thousand grain elevators in Alberta. The grain elevators you see on farms were usually moved there from small towns or rail sidings, often not from places close by. This one is north of Andrew, Alberta on December 31, 2017. No idea where it came from. It cannot be easy moving one of these. Grain elevators were very sturdily built. To me it is a neat sight seeing them in places you do not expect to see them.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Stuff worth reading

Jenn has a post up about Retlaw, Alberta. I have been here before and posted about it a few years ago. Her post is excellent and deserves some traffic. Go to:

This was done in vane

I prefer the traditional NSEW type vanes myself.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Not a sheep

I might have ended up a lot further in certain workplaces if I just learned to go along with things. I am lacking that particular gene. Especially when it comes to things that I disagree with.

There are a lot of work things having nothing to do with my job that I refuse to take part in. One of the latest is Pink Shirt Day. I received a memo about this. When this became a thing I got a little bit of harrassment about not wanting to take part. Personally I do not see how wearing a pink shirt is going to solve whatever problem it is supposed to solve. Trying to guilt, or bully me, into wearing a pink shirt to mark this occasion contradicts what this is supposed to accomplish. I think it is dumb and I refuse to take part.

I refuse to do things or take part in activities that are embarrassing or just plain stupid. One office I worked in set up a satellite link so that the employees could gather together and sing "Happy Birthday" to the CEO so that he could watch employees from all of the offices sing this in real time. I steadfastly refused when this was requested of me. When asked why I said that beside the fact that I did not know the guy I was not aware I was now part of a cult. If they did not like it they could fire me and if they did I would love to see them explain it to my lawyer.

In reality I am very easy to get along with except when it comes to being asked to do something stupid, demeaning, or against my beliefs. Every workplace loves to support charity. I have volunteered in the past for lots of different endeavours and contributed time, energy, and money. A lot of places automatically assume you will just mindlessly contribute. Years ago I once had a form dropped off on my desk. It was for payroll deduction for the United Way. I glanced at it and slid it into the trash can in my office. I do not believe in the United Way, just my own personal view. Someone later came around to collect the forms and asked where mine was. I pointed to the trash. Then I got the hard sell. I was accused of not being a team player. They even mentioned that the management and directors all supported the United Way. That was nice. I said they are free to do so, I am also free to decline and never noticed being forced to contribute was a condition of my employment. To me charitable acts are their own reward. Who I support is my own business and to me it is a private matter. I declined to discuss the matter further. I think I was the only one that did not contribute.

My father did not give me a lot of advice but he did give me some. When I was in my teens I did something minor where later he told me to be my own person and not be a sheep. I took that to heart. Be your own person. Sometimes you need to say no.

The list

Further to the previous post. The list of eighteen places I would like to get to this year. You can copy the numbers and paste them into the search box in Google or Bing Maps and it will take you to the location. A lot of times I find Bing has better definition and allows you to zoom in closer on the satellite view.

Ardill                           49.940189, -105.842464
Bromhead                  49.181279, -103.677357
Claybank                    50.045746, -105.234277
Cosine                        52.178502, -109.931001
Dummer                     49.843540, -104.835938
Estuary                       50.935903, -109.809191
Expanse                     49.985019, -105.845313
Frenchville                  49.552639, -107.919131
Govenlock                  49.224202, -109.817476
Horizon                       49.520538, -105.222099
Kayville                       49.726544, -105.150772
Maxstone                    49.494718, -106.027882
Monchy                       49.016818, -107.831828
Rosefield                     49.088002, -107.542333
Simmie                        49.945235, -108.105876
Truax                           49.902543, -104.946889
Vantage                       49.840963, -106.031793
Vidora                          49.326881, -109.414162

Most of these places are ghost towns or places that have disappeared. A couple have an official population of zero.

Finding ways to amuse myself

Ran out of things to watch on the weekend. I also could not find anything I wanted to read. I could start dating again but planning some future road trips while drinking beer is cheaper. When I am cooped up the mind wanders. Winter bores me.

There are eighteen place names on my vague list of spots to explore in Saskatchewan when summer finally makes an appearance. Only one name in this thing is entered in reverse order. Now if I could only find the list of place names. So if you find that you are cooped up and bored . . .


Sunday, 4 February 2018

Enforced snow day

Friday night I drove up to the Edmonton area with a vague plan to see some churches south of Vegreville on Saturday. From Friday night to sometime Saturday afternoon it looked like eight or more inches of snow fell. Apparently the weather reports were serious about the heavy snowfall warning. After shoveling my host's driveway it was decided a better course of action would be to drink beer and catch up on some movies. Road crews should have the roads up to standard by the time I leave. 

There are worse ways to spend a weekend. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Friday, 2 February 2018

Such is work

I ran across this in the comment section of an opinion site that I read that described someone.

"Toxic levels of self esteem mixed with incompetence and lack of any fear of failure or doubt."

This reminds me of someone I used to work for and I am continually amazed that I lasted in the job as long as I did. The person was a classic narcissist. To this day I have yet to run across anyone as enamored of themself as this person. There is nothing like dealing with someone who is an expert at everything, never wrong, apparently never failed at anything, and supremely self-confident. The employees would silently cheer whenever he went on vacation and dread the return as he would inflict his wonderful management ideas on the business that he came up with on his time off. Anyone could have told him the place was much happier and more productive without him however he would have never believed it. To him he was indispensible and only his presence kept the whole universe from collapsing. I am self aware enough to know I have faults. I like to think that I am willing to listen to other points of view and seek out advice when I need to make decisions.

I have a university degree in Commerce. I worked on my degree taking classroom courses after work hours and by correspondence and worked full time. During my schoolwork and in the working world you have to read a lot of management books and get subjected to a lot of management fads. I read a lot of business books by business gurus and a fractional part of what they say is useful. Most of it is garbage, there is always a fad, there is always the latest trend. I learned long ago to take what you hear and read with a grain of salt. I remember when every business just had to have a mission statement. One company I worked for was hung up on crafting a mission statement that it could put on the wall so everyone knew what we did and what we stood for. I commented that the company had been in business for over twenty years, if the people involved and the clients had no idea what we did or what our principles were then we had bigger problems. It did not go over well.

There is a lot of stupidity in any organization, there are a lot of dumb managers and owners, there are lots of strange policies and practices. Most of us have worked in some less than ideal situations. I have my share of dubious work experiences. Some jobs I stayed at too long out of necessity. Others to gain experience and learn as much as I could so I could defect to a better environment. I only work because I have to and it allows me to do such things like surviving. Surviving and road trips. I am not in love with my job, some days I like it, other days it is drudgery. I am not defined by my job, I like to think I am defined by what I do away from work. My job is not my life.

We put up with a lot of questionable things in our jobs. Some of them get so ingrained in the culture over time that it is impossible to change things or get people to realize how ludicrous some things are. One place I worked for loved timesheets. This was not some simple infatuation, they were seriously in love with them. Nothing wrong with tracking how much time your employees spend on jobs. This was done to an insane level. Every employee was supposed to track their workday in six minute increments. All of this was summarized in reports. No one there was paid by the hour or paid overtime. Nothing meaningful was ever done with the information. It was a practice that was done for years and because they done it in the past they just kept on doing it. Hundreds of employee hours over the course of a year was spent on timesheets.

I am turning into one of those get off of my lawn types. I find myself willing to put up with less nonsense. We have new owners where I work and they are younger and have all of these wonderful ideas they want to implement. They are also confident in their own ideas and likely think they are too smart to hear why some things will not work. I have seen a lot of this before. I have a fair idea of what will succeed and what will not. I doubt a lot of what they want to do will work. For my own amusement I am going to watch it all unfold.

My idea of owning and running a business or organization is straightforward. Keep it simple. Concentrate on the stuff that matters. Arrive on time. Try to weed out dumb stuff. Do what you say you are going to do. If you screw up, fix it, make it right. Do not try to be something you are not. Be good to your clients. Keep an eye on your competition and do not be afraid to learn from what they are doing. Have people that know their job, are responsible, and treat them well. If employees do not know what they are doing then train them and dedicate a lot of time to training them. Do not be afraid to part with people if they do not work out. Under promise and over deliver. Success is not guaranteed, the possibility of failure can be minimized but you can still fail through no fault of your own. Most important of all if I win the lottery I will not be at work the next day.


Abandoned Alberta

January 14, 2018 former farmstead in rural Vulcan County.