Sunday, September 15, 2013

Historic Train Trip

A week ago my family took me on a train trip for my birthday.  We went from Ogema SK to Horizon SK and return, a distance of 26 km (16 miles) each way, on the Southern Prairie Railway.   When I was 4 years old my family went on a memorable train trip to the eastern US to visit my father's family.   Now this train trip was a memorable way to celebrate my birthday with the family. 

 It was raining when we got to Ogema to board the train. As seen in the picture above there is an engine and one passenger car.   The engine is a 1945 GE diesel electric switcher engine.  The passenger car is a 1922 Pullman passenger car which was fully restored. 

The passenger car was completely refinished inside and out.. There is a blog that documented the extensive work by Ogema and area in restoring the train and station. 

We traveled the 16 miles to Horizon SK with still some light rain and mist so didn't get a lot of clear pictures of the view on that part of the trip.  The rain didn't dampen the excitement of riding on the train though.  The rain had stopped by the time we got to Horizon and we got off the train to tour a grain elevator. In the picture above the passenger car is waiting while the engine goes around to hook on the other end (left end in this picture) for the return trip.  The seats actually flip over so we are still facing forward for the return trip. 

In the distance to the right in the picture above is a former Pool elevator  which is still used as an elevator for farmer and community owned railroads.  This section of track is part of the rail facilities operated by the Red Coat Road and Rail.  And this in turn is part of over 700 km of former CPR track across southern Saskatchewan  operated by Great Western Railroad.  

 We toured the former Federal grain elevator which was later operated by the Wheat Pool until the 1970s.  Then we returned to the train for the trip back to Ogema.  We stopped for about 1/2 hour and the train only traveled about  20 - 25 mph so the whole tour was about 2 hours. 

I took some video clips with my iPhone that I combined into a short video from the return trip.

The video starts with the outside of the train while reboarding for the return trip, some inside the train, and the view out the window passing the former community of Glasnevin.   (This Glasnevin link  I found is part of a series of Youtube videos with some history of prairie communities, and is videoed from the train we were on.)   If you look for Southern Prairie Railroad on Youtube you can also find other videos about this train.

When we got back to Ogema we had a quick tour of the Deep South Pioneer Museum.   We had no idea how extensive this is and only had 45 minutes before heading home in time for supper with the family.  It is a pioneer village with 30 buildings over 10 acres as well as outdoor displays such as rows of old tractors. A person could spend all day there but we just had a short time. 
All in all a very exciting and memorable way to celebrate my birthday with the family.        


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring time?

According to the calendar today is the first day of Spring.  The path of the sun crosses the equator and starts heading north.  But signs of Spring seem to be far away here.  The driveways and streets are mostly cleared after the last snow storm on the weekend.  The total snowfall is now 196 cm (over 6 feet) breaking the previous record from 1955/56.  We normally get about 100 cm (over 3 feet) but this year we already had that amount by Christmas time.  There has been some melting in warm spells and settling of the snow but still an incredible amount on the ground .  The scary part is where is the water all going to go if it melts too quickly.    

View from the front window

Snow in the back yard half way up the shed and fence

Using this patio is a long way away. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Six Years Later

Six years ago today is when I got my tracheostomy tube.  February 24, 2007 I was back in hospital for the 3rd time with worsening respiratory condition from high CO2 buildup.  I was intubated in emergency and then on February 28th I had surgery to put in my trach tube.  I have blogged about this before around the anniversary.   Now six years later I am quite used to the trach and continue to use a ventilator at night.  At first I got the trach tube changed every 4 weeks, and now every 6 weeks and have had this done over 50 times now so it is getting quite routine.

In the picture above, cuddling new granddaughter Li'l E, you can see the connection to my trach tube with a heat and moisture exchanger (HME)  and oxygen tubing.  The HME is also known as a "Swedish nose"  apparently since the inventor was Swedish and it has the same function as your nose with filtering the air and retaining humidity.  When I go out I wear a speaking valve with a scarf over it but at home it is more comfortable with the "Swedish nose."
Last week I had an appointment with the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist who examined around and below my trach tube with his bronchoscope.     This was a follow up appointment after being in hospital in November.  He was very happy with how well healed everything looks in my trachea and the stoma opening for the trach tube. 

As I think back to how I was 6 years ago, I thank God for His goodness and for the health He has given me each day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very White Christmas

We had the family here on Christmas Eve for turkey dinner and gift opening.  We had a quiet time on Christmas morning and I was watching and listening to The Three Tenors Christmas Concert on YouTube on my Apple TV I got for Christmas.   The first song was "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" which was written by Irving Berlin in 1940 and one of the most popular songs of all time.   There are different accounts of whether he was in California or Arizona when he wrote it but somewhere that he was dreaming of a white Christmas.  I remember very few times in Saskatchewan  that there was no snow for Christmas, and this year we are having a very white Christmas.    

View from our front window

View of the snow in the back yard

We set a monthly record for snowfall in November of 70 cm (over 2 feet).  The November normal is 13 cm and previous record 54 cm. So far we have 100 cm (over 3 feet)  which is what we normally get in a whole winter.  Of course we do not have snow 3 feet deep on the ground since it settles and some has melted on mild days.  But there is enough accumulation that neighbours are scouting for more places to put the snow cleared from their driveways or get some hauled away.  We are thankful for a neighbour who has a Quad ATV (small 4 wheel all terrain vehicle) with a blade on the front who clears our side by side driveway together with his as well as sidewalks all the way down the street. 

We have had a wonderful Christmas and this is certainly a very white one.  


Friday, December 7, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Talking to Aunt Helen

Visiting Aunt Helen in 2004

On Thursday I phoned my Aunt Helen and had a good talk with her.  She is my only living Aunt (widow of my Dad's youngest brother) and coming up to 91 on November 15.  I was thinking of calling on her birthday but called Thursday to see how she fared with Hurricane Sandy.  She lives in Delaware which was right on the path of the storm.  They did fairly well where she is with about 3" of rain and some tree branches down but not major damage.  Her son already had that cleaned up.  She did not have a power outage, but her daughter had a flooded basement from the power out for the sump pump.   Areas with a lot of  wind and flood damage were not far away from them.  

Aunt Helen is still doing quite well.  She said she did decide to quit driving, and her son drives her to appointments or for groceries.  She said she can't get up into his truck so kept her car so he can drive her places in it.  She is very thankful for her relatively good health. She said her main concern is her eye sight, but treatment for macular degeneration is helping keep fairly good sight in one eye.   

We had a very enjoyable talk for about half an hour.  I should try to remember to call Aunt Helen more often.     

Saturday, October 13, 2012

More prayers for Kaia

This picture was taken in July 2010 talking to Kaia at our summer church camp.  I have posted before about praying for Kaia in 2010 and 2011 .   She is scheduled for heart surgery on Monday and we are all praying for her.  We pray she will grow up to be a strong young woman to bless many with her loving heart.

UPDATE November 3:  After initially being rescheduled, Kaia finally had her surgery this past Monday.  She had a rough time the first night but is doing much better day by day.  We praise God for that.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thanksgiving with the Family

Yesterday afternoon and evening we had the family here for Thanksgiving.  We started off with a wonderful meal with turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes, etc.....   Janice roasted the turkey and made the gravy, Elaine did the mashed potatoes and sweet potato and dressing,  Mike brought salad and Maryanne brought cranberry sauce, and made pumpkin pie. Everything turned out perfectly.  So we were very well fed with a wonderful meal.  Chris and Maryanne were having their second turkey dinner after having a Thanksgiving dinner with his family the day before.   And we have quite a bit left from a large turkey so we will be having it in various ways for a while.   

During and after cleanup we watched the football game, moving to our new TV downstairs for the second half.   It was a good game with another Rider win played in Toronto.  The Riders outplayed Toronto on the field, and the fans in Rider green dominated the stands.  The cheering sounded like a Rider home game.  By that time our dinner was settled enough we were ready for the pumpkin pie.

In the evening Mike showed us his pictures of a recent trip to Chicago.  Then we played a board game called Power Grid that the family gave me for  my birthday but had not had a chance to play yet.  This is an economic strategy board game that I had not heard of before but is highly rated by board game experts. On the website Board Game Geek it is ranked number 6 in a data base of over 60,000 board games.  The game is played in 5 phases for each round of the game. 1. Determine player order (changes for each round); 2. Auction power plants (decide if to pass or bid more than opponent); 3.  Buy fuel for your power plants (fuel prices go up as lower priced fuel sold out); 4. Build houses and pay building and interconnection costs in the network; and 5. Receive payment for number of house supplied with power.   The first time though it took us quite a while referring back to the rules to get the procedures and learn how to balance costs and revenue.  The board is shown below using the US  map (1 of 4 alternate maps including Quebec, Germany, Europe.)    

After about 2.5 to 3 hours in the evening we had to quit for the night  since some had to go to work the next day (not like us retired folks who stay up late.)  The picture is how the board looked by the time we ended for the night. We recorded where we were to continue again another day.  It should go easier when we continue since we are starting to know the game rule better.

All in all it a was perfect day with the family.