Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What a wonderful world...

The other day, someone was giving me directions.  They are as follows:

"You know XXXX?"*
"Alright.  You know that dead moose on the side of the road just past XXXX?  Well, you just go straight south from that dead moose and we'll be the second house on the right."

*The name of the place has been withheld because I don't want to get punched in the nose.

People in the country use roadkill as landmarks.  Yes, they do.  What's even weirder though, is that I knew exactly which dead moose was being mentioned. (Yes, there are often more than one.)  Just when I think that I have adjusted to life in the sticks, something like this happens and I am forced to realize that I "don't know nothin yet."  Everyday is a learning experience.  Yesterday, I went looking for our missing cat.  I must have walked for a half an hour around our property.  At one point, after I had crawled down from a broken down swather, or combine, (It was hard to tell because hey... what do I know), I realized that in the city it would have taken me all of two minutes to look around the property, and I wouldn't have had to look in an assorted mass of old vehicles, shacks, barns, workshops, or small forests.  I almost needed to have a search party come looking for me.  I never found the cat, but I discovered an interesting odor in the middle of the woods out back... something had sprayed its musk out there and the smell was strong.

I miss the conveniences of the city, but the trade offs are worth not having them.  At night, the sky is hard to see for all of the stars in the way.  Some of the spots that I have visited and some of the sights that I have seen make up for the cityscape that I have left behind.  That doesn't mean that I don't ever want to drink water from the tap again, or have consistent Internet connections, but there are things that can only be found out here, and to be honest, I find it pleasantly weird that someone could use a moose carcass as a road marker and I would actually know where to find it.

Now, to change things up a bit. 

I have a wall of death.  No, it's not what you think... yeah, I'm talking to you.  As has been previously mentioned, many of my students love to hunt, and they often miss classes to do it.  I was unhappy about this at first, but I was taken to task for my attitude.  I thought about it for awhile and an idea occurred to me.  I decided to recognize the hunters in my class by having them bring me pictures of their hunting successes.  I post the pictures on the wall and the kids feel good about seeing their 'accomplishments'.  So far, this has actually worked really well.  Most of the kids don't miss class anymore, because they want to bring in pictures to put up on the wall.  Eventually, the pics will take up all the room on my wall and I will have to expand it somewhat.  None of the pics are gory or inappropriate, in fact, they are all rather tasteful.  I don't mind it when I get some elk jerky either, but I won't be pinning that up on the wall...

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's a conspiracy, I tell you...

I've been reading Dan Brown's, "The Lost Symbol".  It's fluff reading, but it has been nice to read something non-pedagogical.  Just so you know, this is not going to be a book review, or a critique...  Anyway, in typical Brownian style, conspiracies abound throughout the book.  There are mentions of different groups, but the group that is the main focus of the story is the Freemasons.  As I have been reading, I have found myself wondering about secret knowledge, puzzles, theories, etc.  I know that like most writers, Brown takes factual information and twists it just enough to make a story more interesting.  Just try to get most people to read a treatise on freemasonry, and you'll see what I mean.  However, he does make some very good points.

How often do we look at other belief systems and think they are just a bunch of quackery, or mumbo jumbo?  Here is an example: Brown describes a special room where a mason can go to reflect and meditate.  In this room there are bones, a skull, a candle, a plate of salt, a plate of sulfur, etc.  Everything has a specific place and setting, and everything represents something else.  Now, many people might find this rather strange.  However, is it any stranger than practicing ritual cannibalism, or revering finger bones?  I want to be clear here.  I am not criticizing any belief systems.  I am not poking fun at them, or trying to slander them in any way.  What I am trying to do is say that when we look at any beliefs in a certain light, they might sound crazy, but only in a certain light.  Change the way we look at things and some of these beliefs don't seem so strange after all.  Many Christians partake of the communion.  The wine represents the blood of Christ and the wafer represents the body.  In a certain light, this could be seen as ritual cannibalism.  Relics are revered in many places, and these relics are bones, or hair, or blood.  The different objects in the masonic room of meditation represent mortality, truth, light, wisdom, etc, and when looked at in this light don't seem so strange afterall.  In fact, these are all things that most of us do seek after.

Now, let me step down from my soapbox.  I love puzzles, and I love mysteries... not the detective story, whodunit type of mysteries, which can be fun, but the ones that deal with the unknown, or the hidden.  I also love to learn.  I love to learn new things.  I especially like to learn new things about old things; I just can't can't get enough.  I sometimes wish that I was wealthy enough to actually spend my time learning the things that I want to learn, do the things that would help me to learn, and then share that learning with any who would be interested to learn my learning... erm... yeah... Anyway,  It's a dream that, someday, may become a reality.

I know that this post may open up some cans that I wish had stayed closed.  I also know that there may be some who misunderstand what I have written, and take offence where none at all is intended.  I hope that I am wrong. 

I guess the ultimate rush for me would be to solve some ancient mystery, or puzzle.  I know most people would be more excited to do something like climb Everest, or K2, or go to the moon, etc, but for me knowledge is the ultimate frontier.  You can neither have to much knowledge, nor can you have all knowledge.  This is wonderful.  It means that the adventure can continue forever because there will always be more to learn...

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Stranger in a Strange Land...

It has been too long since I have posted anything, and I am going to repent of this starting now.  I have been adjusting to a new life, in a new place, in a new (to me) part of the country, and it has been interesting and life changing.  I have moved several hundred kilometres north of where I lived in Edmonton, to a place called Silver Valley  (Sounds almost magical, doesn't it.  I sometimes expect little pixies, or fairies to pop out from around corners and such.) 

Life in the country has been a real adjustment for me and my family.  No more traffic, no more noise, no more quick trips to the store, and no more frivolous activities like spur of the moment movie going, or visits to the mall.  We now travel forty-five minutes to get to the nearest town, which is in the next province over, so we have to mentally adjust our clocks since they are in a different time zone.  Life is different here, but it is a good different.  I keep waiting to hear banjos, etc, but luckily none so far.

We took our kids out trick or treating, and it was quite the experience.  It took us three hours to visit seven places, but people out here are generous, and they doled out the loot to the kids in huge quantities.  It would have taken at least ten times the number of houses in the city to bring in the same haul.

This post is turning into more of a 'journal' than I want it to, please bear with me... 

I have found myself wondering when the laid back country life was going to occur.  I have been busier here than I ever have been before.  I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to slow down things a little.  We live on 162 acres of land (a section), and it has taken time to get used to looking out the window and seeing almost nothing as far as the eye can see.  My wife has gotten into the habit of taking the kids for walks through the fields, and forests around our place, and on those opportunities that I have had the chance to go with them, I have been grateful.  There is a peacefulness out here that is unequalled.  We have made a few trips down to the Peace river, and it has always been a beautiful and wonderful experience.  My son is a rock hound, as am I, and on these trips we have loaded up our trunk with the treasures that we have found.  We have brought home fossils, petrified wood, water carved rocks, and even some really cool looking driftwood.  Our home is starting to look like a museum, but it is something that my son and I can share with each other, and that is more important to me than the actual rocks, etc themselves.

My children have grown in some surprising ways.  They are quickly gaining a maturity that they lacked in the city, they are better friends to each other, and there is a bond within our family that is stronger than ever.  I am grateful for it. 

We are adapting to the country in other ways as well.  We have a cat that never comes in the house, I own, and wear, a  pair of 'gumboots', (Wellies, to you British folk), and I have 'enjoyed' mowing the vast yard we have with a rider mower. 

We buy our drinking water in 18.9 litre bottles, and we wash our clothes, dishes, etc with water from a dugout.  our plumbing takes our 'waste' water to a lagoon not far away from the house, although it is far enough away that it doesn't smell.  The truth is that it doesn't smell even when you are close by it, (but I still wouldn't want to fall in...)

Hunting is huge out here, and almost everyone uses antlers in their decorating, although, very few are as bad as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.  We have a rock display in the front that highlights a rack of antlers still connected to an elk skull.  Surrounding this are several antlers.  A friend from England said that it reminded him of  "Pet Cemetery", and I guess it does, but my kids love playing there... what does that say about my kids...

The long and short of this whole post is that we are now in a world that we never thought we would be in, but that we are finding will most definitely change our lives.  In the end, isn't that what life is all about?  As they say, it is the journey and experiences we have while traveling the road of life that matter the most, and I am grateful for every step that I take on my own version of the hero's journey.