From postcards to passages…

Leave a comment

The new things you can learn by being curious about an old postcard…

While going through some very old family photo albums, I came across a few black and white postcards secured on some of the pages with those little black corners.  I do like to collect the odd postcard from the past, so I was curious about these ones.  They were photos of scenes and people taken in Northern Manitoba with credits to the photographer and “courtesy” of the Bulova watch company.  They also had “Muskox” stamped across the upper left corner.

After a fair bit of internet searching, I finally figured out what it was all about:  “Operation Muskox” started in 1946.  That sounded intriguing, if I wasn’t already curious enough!

Wikipedia helped with a few details:  Operation Muskox was military exercise organized by the Canadian Army.  The mission started in Churchill, Manitoba, so I guess my family had a connection to it somehow, or someone just really liked the postcards.  From Wikipedia,

It involved the 48 members of the Army driving 11 4½-ton Canadian-designed snowmobiles (“Penguins”)”

The group travelled through areas in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern BC and NW Alberta, before returning by rail to Edmonton.  The Wikipedia post referenced an UpHere article that states,

The mission proved the Canadian Army could operate in the Arctic. But would it have to? The effort required to support the small, tracked force was so great that Operation Muskox, more than anything, proved how unlikely it was that columns of Soviet tanks would crawl over the Arctic Circle to invade North America.”

The article also mentioned some concerns and perceptions about the mission:

Newspaper editors in Canada wrung their hands over the possible message it was sending the Soviets.”

The public may have had doubts about the mission’s motives, but they were eating up every little detail that became available. The press covered everything from their route to what the soldiers wore; the men on the mission were idolized as Arctic explorers.”

Wikipedia also linked 2 videos on YouTube about the mission:  Expedition Into The Arctic (1946) and The Canadian Army returns back after military exercise Operation Muskox

Ironically, as I was writing about this topic, I noticed and read this article,

Pompeo says Canadian claim to Northwest Passage is ‘illegitimate’

This video interview helped my understanding:

Understanding Canada’s legal claim to the Northwest Passage

It was interesting to make a connection to what I had just researched about an Arctic mission.  More to learn about…



The 16mm film archive project


I recently became the keeper of our family’s collection of 16mm films (aka home movies).  Also, 2 working projectors and the original camera!  My dad and grandpa likely filmed most of the footage, but the collection might have gained a few donations from other individuals over the years.

It was a long winter, so my husband and I dug into the large box of reels to review, repair (even bought a splice kit!), weed out duds, and find the gems.  It quickly become apparent that there were indeed some gems!  Many are the more personal family ones to be cherished, but there was also some amazing footage of life and culture in the 1950s.  These ones took us to the landscapes of Norway, Scotland, Ontario (Thunder Bay, Niagara Falls, Kenora), and Northern Manitoba, including remote Inuit settlements.  Many are filmed in Churchill where my parents and their parents lived for many years.  They got around in different ways for work and play, including bush and float planes, as well as dog sled.  This certainly contributes to the uniqueness of these “home movies”!

With so many of the films getting brittle, we decided it was time to preserve these memories and history.  We figured out the best way to digitize them ourselves “in-house”.  We only had to replace the projector bulb once, after we finally tracked down someone selling one online!  I feel like I am spamming the internet lately, but I am very excited to share the outcome of this project!  Our “16mm film archive project” led to a YouTube channel to help preserve, archive, and share the history captured in these films.  We even have footage of Royal visits in the 50s!  We have already posted a number of appropriate ones for public viewing here.  The quality varies, but some rare footage, nonetheless.

Note: We haven’t posted footage of Niagara Falls yet.  The film is currently backwards, so once we flip it around and get the falls on the right side…! 🙂


Following the music

Leave a comment

It may come as a surprise to some who know me, but for a number of years I didn’t follow Melanie Safka’s music and career very closely.  I loved her songs when I was a pre-teen in the 70s (hearing them first from my older sister’s record player in her room).  I collected some more of her LPs in my teen years.  I was most familiar with and loved her music of the 60s and 70s.  I headed off to university in the early 80s and my following of her music career drifted.  Eventually I started to play my old favourites again from time to time and I collected a few more “Best of..” collections on… yes, cassettes and CDs!

Social media ushered me into a whole new way of enjoying and experiencing her music again.  It started with YouTube searches and then I discovered that Melanie, now in her 60s, embraced social media too!  The 15 year old me would never have predicted I would follow Melanie on Twitter and read her blog.

Just when I think I have scouted out most of her early performances and my favourites on YouTube, I find new gems.  She still has quite a fan base uploading her tunes and covers.  She also has an official YouTube channel as well as SoundCloud, a blog, a Facebook page, etc.

In a previous music related/musing post of mine, I had wondered who Tim Hardin was and that led me to learning that he sang If I was a carpenter at Woodstock.  In the post, I mentioned other musicians who did covers of that song since he died.  Melanie also sang at Woodstock, but I didn’t realize that she also did a cover of Hardin’s song in the past.  I came across it on YouTube recently.  Interestingly, it is an audio from an original acetate recording in 1968.  The YouTube post’s description claims that it has never been previously recorded or released on an album and the person who created the music video commented further,

This was taken from one of the acetates I borrowed for one day from Melanie’s Mom. I transferred all the tracks from three acetates to Reel to Reel Tape. You can hear slight clicks from the acetate easily.”

And then I realized I didn’t know much about acetate recordings.  Wikipedia helped clarify.  How cool, this “transfer” of music — from a rare “demo” recording on acetate to reel to reel tape to video upload on the internet.  I’ll take it!  I only had two possible opportunities in my past to see her live in concert, but circumstances and timing of other events prevented such.  She is still doing some performances in other countries, so maybe one day…


The back and forth on motivation and rewards

Leave a comment

I suppose there will always be two (or more?) schools of thought about external motivation and the impact of rewards on behaviour and learning.  I still often read things that catch my eye on the topic and I try to stay open to different ideas, theories and research.

A few articles recently made me go, “Huh? Hmmm”.

The first was really about introverts, but it referenced a study about external stimuli and rewards.  The author of the article suggested that the findings may indicate that introverts rely less on external rewards than extroverts.  The study and its purpose was a bit confusing to me.  If extroverts respond more to stimuli (rewards) in their environment, does that mean they need or should have rewards (external motivation) more?  I am not sure if it is that “cut and dried” and maybe some other variables need to be considered.  It is still a pretty good article about introverts, What it really means to be an introvert, according to a psychologist.

The second article was about screen time, and another study. One finding was:

For parents who use screen time as either a punishment or a reward, children’s screen time increased — particularly on weekends. The researchers found that, when used as a behavioral tactic, children spent about 20 more minutes per day in front of screens over the weekend.”

Not really a “huh..” from me on that one.  More like a “duh, of course..” 🙂  But should they have considered the introvert/extrovert question?

A third article was about what a middle school is doing to reward good grades, attendance and behaviour:  School is giving kids free movie tix, credit card-like perks to show up, get good grades.  I struggled with that one with a big “Huh?”  I know educators are often concerned about low attendance rates though.

I read 2 more postings on the topic which got more of a “Yes!” from me.  5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Unmotivated Students is a 2016 post, but it showed up in my Twitter timeline recently.  It’s a good post with a Q&A format to help teachers reflect on their instruction.  The author dug into the research on motivation and summarized her findings with these statements:

  1. Students are more motivated academically when they have a positive relationship with their teacher.
  2. Choice is a powerful motivator in most educational contexts.
  3. For complex tasks that require creativity and persistence, extrinsic rewards and consequences actually hamper motivation.
  4. To stay motivated to persist at any task, students must believe they can improve in that task.
  5. Students are motivated to learn things that have relevance to their lives.

Lastly, a tweet by someone informed me that this was a very popular read on the ASCD site: Tear Down Your Behavior Chart!  Good stuff.  I like the summation at the end of the article,

Let’s stop “managing behaviors” and instead guide and support engagement, persistence, and positive interactions. Let’s build relationships that promote growth of the whole child—and the skills each student needs for a lifetime of positive interactions and success.”

Is there any meeting in the middle of the “schools of thought” on this topic?  How do schools and families “meet up” on this topic?

Please share any thoughts you have on any of the articles, or share what has helped you sort out questions about motivation and/or rewards.

**post update Mar. 7/19:  I read a recent blog post by Lisa Cranston and wanted to add it here.  She provided some further related reading and discussion about behaviour charts and offered some alternative ideas to using them:  Beyond Behavior Charts

Who Knows…?

Leave a comment

Where does the time go? Who knows where the time goes.. ?

Who hasn’t expressed a similar statement like that?  I recall adults saying it when I was younger and now I catch myself saying and wondering it.

Where does a decade go?!  Two decades? I often tell my adult children to enjoy and cherish their 20s, as each decade seems to go faster after that.  Why is that?  Is it a thing?  (Check out this interesting post by Matthew Oldridge that helps answer that).  We can take the time as young adults for granted — I know I am guilty.  But maybe it is supposed to be that way — why worry about life going too fast when you have youth and time on your side?  Just live it, as one never knows…

It was by chance and curiosity that I discovered the music of Sandy Denny recently.  She had been a lead singer in a few early British folk bands.  One of her songs really stuck with me for some reason:  Who Knows Where The Time Goes?  Maybe it was the title…  maybe it was because the singer also died young (at 31, I learned).  Or maybe because my daughter’s best friend since high school died unexpectedly this past summer at the age of 22.  Although quite melancholy, the music and lyrics were comforting when I had a listen.  I read that it was one of her “signature” songs.  I think Judy Collins is also known for her cover of it, but I prefer Sandy Denny’s original.

Lyrics: Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?
And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go
So come the storms of winter and then
The birds in spring again
I have no fear of time
For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

Although Sandy Denny died 40 years ago, there have been a few recent articles written that speak well of her musical talents and contributions during her short life.

The Delicate Artistry Of Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny was the most outstanding female singer that Britain has produced

She also did a number of Bob Dylan covers, if you wish to have a listen to:  Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

My perspective about time has shifted over the years and decades, but also recently again.  How I look at the past and present and the future has changed, but in a good way.


Chocolate by Trial and Error


It all started with a craving for chocolate.  And pie.

Since it was close to Christmas, I decided on making a dessert that would have both chocolate and mint.  I turned to my trustworthy Company’s Coming (Jean Paré) cookbook collection.  In “Pies“, I found a recipe for Chocolate Mint Pie.  I don’t care for too much mint in baked goodies but this recipe claimed, “Just the right amount of mint”, so… I quickly set about making and baking the suggested graham cracker crust first:

Nutty Graham Cracker Crust: Melt 1/3 cup of butter in saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts — I used walnuts) and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar.  Press onto sides and bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake in 350 F oven for 10 to 12 min. Cool.

I was on a roll…

Then I noticed that the filling called for eggs, but no further baking of the pie required.  Just beat, mix and chill.  I have long since stopped using recipes with raw eggs.  I just can’t do it.  So now what?  I was determined to fill this yummy cooled crust!  And hopefully with chocolate!  Maybe some mint…

I reviewed a number of recipes online but eventually turned back to the same cookbook.  There was another recipe for a “No-Crust Fudge Pie”.  Hmmm.  The filling looked good, but no mint.  It required eggs, but it did require further baking in the oven.  This recipe made the claim for a moist fudgy center that “satisfies a longing for a chocolate dessert”.  So I am winging it now….

The Filling:

Beat 3 eggs in mixing bowl until smooth.  Add 1 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 of flour, and vanilla.  (The recipe called for 1 tsp. but I reduced it to 1/2.. **to be explained). Beat to mix.

Melt chocolate squares ( 3 x 1 oz., unsweetened, cut up) and 1/2 cup of butter in small saucepan over low heat.  **Add 1/2 tsp. of peppermint extract.  I was determined 🙂  Add to egg mixture and beat until mixed.

This is when the recipe says to pour the filling right into a greased pie plate, but I have a crust…

I still followed the suggested baking time:  350 F oven for about 35 minutes.

It turned out great! Lovely texture, light and crisp top layer, and rich in the middle!  A No-crust Fudge Pie with a great crust (and a nice hint of peppermint)!  It was yummy, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream on top.

I had to write out the variations I made to the recipes somewhere before I forget what I did, so I chose my blog.  I am sure I have a few readers who might be on the lookout for a good chocolate fix!  So if you trust my judgement in creating this pie…

I welcome other chocolate recipes… please suggest your true and tried.. or invented!  Happy Holidays!




Featured post re: Effective School Councils

Leave a comment

I haven’t seen much written about Ontario about school councils lately (although I am not paying as much attention to the topic anymore).  Today I appreciated reading a post, Effective School Councils, by an education superintendent from Alberta, Chris Smeaton.  I have followed Chris (@cdsmeaton) on Twitter for many years.  Although he writes for the Alberta context, I thought his insights and list of discussion questions would be useful to Ontario’s school councils as well.  I thought I would post here to keep it handy.

Chris mentions a workshop presented by their provincial school council association,

The presentation reminded me of the important work that should be done by this group but often gets lost because of well -intentioned volunteerism. I don’t believe that staffs will ever say no to the work that many of our parents do in schools today but, the true essence of their role is far more reaching than simple involvement.”

He describes the realities and challenges of engaging school councils and parents in school planning and improvement discussions but offers some good suggestions on how to improve these opportunities and make them more parent-friendly.  He also provides list of possible discussion questions for the school council table.  Please read his full post.  What would you add to the list he has started?  Have Ontario school councils made any significant shifts in roles lately?

Older Entries