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Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson

Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson.

I am a big Albert Einstein fan and it is his birthday today. I enjoy his eccentric behaviour and wild hair.

Several years ago, a student asked who the guy was in a poster in our classroom.

Without hesitating, I said, “My Dad!” A second student expressed skepticism, but I answered with “Look at him. He has wild hair, is eccentric, and tells great stories. Its my Dad!”.

A third student responded, “It’s Albert Einstein. His name is on the poster.”

For the rest of my teaching years, students, parents, and I were always careful when I began to say something about my Dad. I clarified whether it was my real dad or my figurative dad. The two had interesting quotes in common.

My real Dad would say, “When you stop beating your head against the wall it feels better.” I shared that with students when we talked about Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Dirty Face

I was professionally developed today. I am tired and struggled to find a poem that I wanted to write or post. I perused my library and found this Shel Silverstein poem. I wonder if I had shown up with a dirty face if I could have answered with such wonderful words? And, when I got to the last line, would someone scold me? Oh, do I need to find out? Is it just that teachers just want to have fun?

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?
I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got if from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

Ode to a Bookstore

Kathy and I escaped Phoenix relatively unscathed. We love bookstores and on several occasions we bought extra suitcases to carry trophies home.

Despite escaping relatively unscathed, there was still a close call and it found its way into a poem.

There it sat

I had sensed it

Even heard it call my name

Oh so furtively and seductively.

There it was

I knew it was close by

It sat in the back corner

A harsh piece of asphalt

Yet, so compelling and inviting.

I hurried

Some might even say I scurried

But, I heard a cautionary voice

Some might even say threatening

“You only get one!”

“That is your allowance!”

I entered that sanctuary

That quiet, hallowed place

Ah, a bookstore

Not just some Internet siren

It was a real live bookstore

What a treat!

A Little Sunday Morning Humour

While traveling through the Crowsnest Pass. we took a picture of this sign and wondered what was for sale. We were left wondering where the river front was? We have driven by this sign many times and it has never been on dry land. In fact, it has been submerged so only the first two lines were in view: “For Sale 80 Acres.”

I wonder how the sale is going?

Just a little to the east of the sign we noticed two horses grazing, sort of grazing. They seemed OK with the situation.


Advice From Ivon

There was an image here and some of you responded. I appreciated your comments and left them in place. Apparently, I infringed on a copyright of a group that sells the postcard I posted. I leave you with this.

What advice can I give?

Stand firmly rooted to the Earth.

Reach and touch the sky.

Take risks.

Trust those closest to you.

Love those closest to you.

Find your voice.

Speak right.

Act right.

Apologize sincerely when it is right do so.

And wonder in awe when it is time do so.

About the rights of nature and humans.

Take care.

I humbly apologize for using an image posted in various other places. I meant no harm … Here is what I am legally obliged to present for making a human error:

The Advice from a Tree image and words previously posted were an infringement of the copyrights of Ilan Shamir and Your True Nature and has been shared around the Internet. I am reposting the correct version of this and encourage you to visit the Advice from Nature website at for Advice from a Tree and over 100 other advice bookmarks, posters, journals, tshirts and other eco products.                                                                                    copyright 1993-2012 YTN

Again, enjoy.

Uncertaintly Not a Cat Person

Let me admit, “I am not a cat person.” Cats view me as a scratching post and someone to annoy, but we once owned a cat or maybe she owned us. She was beyond unique as feline characters go. This is the story of how she captured us.

We lived across the Fraser River from McBride in the Robson Valley of British Columbia. Our dog was agitated that evening as an early winter storm descended upon us with all its wrath. She insisted on going in and out of the house. Kathy suggested I check and see if a coyote had come down from hillside into the backyard. Armed with a .22 caliber rifle, I went outside accompanied by the dog. The snowfall was heavy and the wind was blowing it around to the point I could not see the trees at the back of the yard. I decided there was nothing of real interest and turned back to the house.

I stopped momentarily to tap snow from the roof of the dog house. When I did, a kitten shot out and ran across the backyard to the willow stand and some derelict buildings to the side of the house. I followed and saw it enter one of the old buildings, but was not dressed to continue my search. I returned to the house and Kathy asked what I had seen. When I replied that is was kitten she wanted to know where it was. I pointed out I was not suitably dressed. She put on a parka and boots and went out to look for the kitten. Kathy returned with a tiny black and white bundle that was none too happy. We closed the door, released the kitten, and she immediately escaped under the couch to avoid the dog who thought this was a potential playmate. Kathy put a bowl of warm milk with broken up bread just under the edge of the couch so it was out of reach of the dog, but accessible to the cat. We left the cat there for the night, put the dog in the bedroom with us, and went to bed listening to the howling wind.

The next morning dawned beautiful. We had a layer of fresh snow, a brilliant blue sky, and a sharp cold feel in the air. Kathy went to put the dog out and there was a flash of black as the kitten shot out the door, across the backyard, and found refuge under the hay shed. To keep hay from getting wet from the marshy piece of land we sat on, the floor of the shed was elevated above the grond. We could see the kitten and it could see us, but it was not coming out.

Kathy, an innovative farm girl, got a bowl of milk and bread and put it 3-4 feet or about a meter in front of the shed and stood on the front lip of its floor. She did not wait long. The kitten tentatively edged out and began to lap up the milk. Engrossed and oblivious to its surroundings, the cat was vulnerable and Kathy pounced and recaptured our future cat.

We owned the cat for about 4 years. I was never her scratching post. She would come and sit with me in my easy chair in the living room to watch TV. She was always tiny never getting beyond the size of large kitten. We think she was abandoned, likely part of a litter, to die. A newborn would be easy prey for coyotes, quickly starve, and dehydrate. In the cold weather of early winter, she would not have lasted much longer. Besides being tiny and my only feline friend, she was odd in other ways. Her best friend, besides me, was the dog. They played, ate, and slept together. When not sleeping with the dog, the cat tucked her forehead on the floor, put her butt in the air, and in that odd position slept. When company visited, she disappeared. One visitor knew we had a cat, because her allergies flared up instantly upon arrival. The cat reappeared when the door closed behind any visitor.

To this day, I remain skeptical of cats and their intentions towards me, because they still mistreat me. Having said this, I am not certain I was not once owned by a cat and enjoyed it.

Words from the Wise

This arrived today. It definitely was not how a felt yesterday or when I first got up this morning. Sometimes our childhood heroes say it best and, as adults, we need to listen with a beginner’s mind.

And today I am off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Killing Weasels – A Legend

My mother tells a story about her mother, my Mémère, which is French for Grandmother. The family lived in a cabin and had a homestead on the Lesser Slave Lake when my mother was growing up. The cabin had a dirt floor which needed sweeping regularly. People tell me a dirt floor is swept so things spilled on it are not packed down into the dirt and to reduce vermin.

Mémère was sweeping when, quick as a flash, a weasel ran across the floor. She, Mémère  that is, moved her bottom hand adeptly up the broom handle much like a baseball player would to hold a bat and, without missing a beat, took a mighty swing that would have made even Casey proud. My mother recalls how the weasel was accommodating and hopped just a bit  so he was above the floor. The broom head connected, the weasel flew across the room, and struck the wall solidly. It fell unmoving to the floor and Mémère returned to her sweeping as if nothing had happened. She quietly instructed my mother to remove the weasel and throw him into the yard for the dogs or cats.

My mother says it was an everyday event and was treated as such. It was just another day on the little homestead on the Lesser Slave Lake.

And A Second One Showed Up

Really, it was not me unless…

Some days you just have to have some fun!

One I Could Not Resist

A student posted this on Facebook and it reminded me of students, our sons, and, heaven forbid, even me.

Really, it was not me!

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