Wednesday, 8 April 2020

The world is turning differently…

It seems everything we thought was normal no longer is. And maybe won’t be again. This must be what people felt during previous times of significant upheaval, especially during earlier disease outbreaks that killed thousands, sometimes millions.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 23 (Sunday 5 April 2020)

Words of Encouragement…

When you are apart from family and friends, whether by order or voluntarily, you spend a lot of time tuning into TV programs or doing things alone you might otherwise spread out over days and weeks. It can be particularly lonely when your children are far away or in other ways prevented from visiting.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 22 (Saturday 4 April 2020)

Pulling together

What helps makes success in fighting a widespread disaster such as the Covid-19 virus attack is a community pulling together. A government obviously needs to lead the charge. Citizens need to buy into the plan to defeat the foe. And all parts of the community, particularly businesses large and small, need to participate. That is what we hope we have in Alberta right now.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Friday, 3 April 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 21 (Friday 3 April 2020)

Looking on the positive side. . .

We are fortunate to live where we do. As I read about what is going on around the world, and even across Canada I can count many things that show our lives could be very much worse.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 20 (Thursday 2 April 2020)

One Million. . .

. . . people have now been confirmed around the world to have contracted Covid-19!

That is a depressing statistic. Even more surprising is that arguably the most advanced country in the world, the United States, leads with almost a quarter of that number.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 19 (Wednesday 1 April 2020)

Physical Distancing. . .

. . . involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with tht is believed will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

There is still, surprisingly, a vary large difference in how this idea is being applied around the world. In many areas, even countries, the idea of keeping one’s distance is a recommendation; in other regions it has become the law. 

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 18 (Tuesday 31 March 2020)

Self-Isolation. . .

. . . means limiting your contact with others.

Normally that phrase applies to someone who has symptoms of Covid-19 or is close to someone who does. It is called MANDATORY SELF-ISOLATION and it means YOU HAVE TO STAY AT HOME for 14 days and.

Most of us won’t be in that situation, but we will and should, keep ourselves at a physical distance from others – for as long as this crisis persists.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Monday, 30 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 17 (Monday 30 March 2020)

Monday Mirthiness

As I said in previous posts, you have to keep a sense of humour. The cartoons, memes and musical videos are now arriving daily by email from friends and relatives. They really do keep up the spirits. Some of the best ones revolve around – you guessed it – toilet paper. That product will probably go down as the defining item of this disaster.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 16 (Sunday 29 March 2020)

One thing about washing your hands so often is that they get dry and chaffed. It reminds me of when our puppies were very small. It was a very cold winter and they had to do their business on a puppy pad indoors for quite a while. That meant changing the liner and washing your hands frequently.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 15 (Saturday 28 March 2020)

We are hearing lots about staying safe these days. Mostly it has to do with physical distancing but keeping things clean is also very high on the list. Good hygiene and making sure groceries are clean are equally important. Here is one video, made by Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, MD that may be of interest.

Normally we do not go out a great deal anyway, but regular visits to the local pub, lunch with friends, occasional shopping for more than groceries. These days we are much more conscious of the need to stay put, though. The risk of contracting Covid-19 is very low where we live, but you cannot predict where it might be or who might pass it along. So, you tend to shy away from going anywhere there might be a lot of people.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 14 (Thursday 26 March 2020)

Cases continue to rise in number in every country outside of China. Unfortunately, most of them did not clamp down hard on travel and group prohibitions soon enough and may end up with much higher infection and death rates per capita.

News reports right now are filled with:
·         New rules regarding self-isolation and physical distancing
·         Hospitals getting ready to receive more patients, including finding more equipment and supplies to cope with the numbers
·         Governments putting together financial aid for individuals and businesses

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 13 (Wednesday 25 March 2020)

Shopping for groceries very early in the morning is a little different. Staff are busy restocking shelves, so you don’t know if the empty spots will be filled later in the day or whether some items just won’t arrive.

On my most recent trip, arriving at the store at 7:00 am yesterday (this time period was set aside for seniors), there were few shoppers. That is not unusual as many older people probably take awhile to get going in the morning and prefer not to rise or leave home too early. I did notice that most of us were men, curiously. Did we all get what we were supposed to? I know I missed a couple of items.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 12 (Tuesday 24 March 2020)

Very rapidly, mostly because of the insistence of a few ignorant people, formal restrictive measures are being instituted. There is a (hopefully) small group that seems to think they cannot catch Covid-19, at least if they are out-of-doors. In their persistence to gather in large groups in parks, on beaches, in cafes (that remain open in some areas) and elsewhere, they defy the proper and intelligent conduct of maintaining physical distancing (no longer being referred to a social distancing).

At this point, we are losing track of how many people have actually contracted the Covid-19 virus. We do know that, worldwide, the numbers are still growing very quickly. There is not much use in quoting numbers published in newspapers or on website as full testing is not being done anywhere. In many places even those with mild symptoms, who may or may not be in self-isolation, are not being counted. We can be sure the real number is much larger than reports indicate. All the more reason to keep a physical distance from others!

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Monday, 23 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 11 (Monday 23 March 2020)

Thank goodness for Facetime, Skype and other telecommunications methods. We can keep in touch with family members on a regular basis even when we cannot be with them. We talk with at least one of our children daily. Trips to see them or have them come see us have been cancelled so we have to depend on electronic means only now.

To date (22 March 2020) 175 countries (up 4 in 24 hours) have reported 358,274 cases (up 49,659); 15,431 people have died (up 2,360); and 100,645 have recovered (up 4,811). Canada has 1,472 reported confirmed or presumptive cases (up 141). We also have 18 people reported as recovered but unfortunately 20 deaths now. Testing in Canada has been done on 91,788 people.

See the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 10 (Sunday 22 March 2020)

Canada, Mexico and the United States have closed their borders to each other, except for essential travel – that is, goods moving back and forth that are necessary for the citizens of each country. Outside of a few days after the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, we have never seen the longest, undefended border shut down.

To date (22 March 2020) 171 countries (up 2 in 24 hours) have reported 308,615 cases (up 26,220); 13,071 people have died (up 1,249); and 95,834 have recovered (up 2,645). Canada has 1,331 reported confirmed or presumptive cases (up 246). We also have 16 people reported as recovered but unfortunately 21 deaths now.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 9 (Saturday 21 March 2020)

We are taking precautions in our home. I have mentioned before that we don’t go out much. Grocery shopping yesterday was the first trip I made this week, outside of walking dogs several times a day. I picked a shopping time when the numbers of customers would be low which meant that the risk would also be low.

To date (19 March 2020) 169 countries (up 10 in 24 hours) have reported 282,395 cases (up 26,666); 11,822 people have died (up 1,327); and 93,189 have recovered (up 3,271). Canada has 1,085 reported confirmed or presumptive cases (up 213). We also have 11 people reported as recovered but unfortunately 13 deaths now.

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Friday, 20 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 8 (Friday 20 March 2020)

I was going to shop for groceries this morning at 7:00 am, the regular opening time for Safeway. But they changed the store hours to 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Luckily, though, the first hour is for seniors.

To date (19 March 2020) 159 countries (up 2 in 24 hours) have reported 255,729 cases (up 30,477); 10,495 people have died (up 1,219); and 89,918 have recovered (up 4,092). Canada has 872 reported confirmed or presumptive cases (up 145). We also have 11 people reported as recovered but unfortunately 12 deaths now.

See the full post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 7 (Thursday 19 March 2020)

The pandemic is still with us. You cannot turn on the TV without endless newscasts from every area about new cases, new policies, new restrictions, etc.

But there are some good things happening out there, too. Neighbours are helping neighbours – with shopping and calling or emailing to enquire about how people are doing.

Today 157 countries (up 6 in 24 hours) have reported 225,252 cases (up 20,552); 9,276 people have died (up 1,006); and 85,826 have recovered (up 2,958). Canada has 727 reported confirmed or presumptive cases (up 129).

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests, at

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 6 (Wednesday 18 March 2020)

In our home province of Alberta, Canada, the government had declared a state of public health emergency which gives sweeping powers to control gatherings of people, operations of certain businesses and spending money. These new rules are meant to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus and protect public health in the wake of several new cases having been confirmed this week. These are in line with what other provinces and cities in Canada have done or are considering.

The decisions are being guided by the recommendations of the province’s Chief Medical Office of Health, who stated yesterday that “this is our new normal.”

Today 151 countries (up 4 in 24 hours) have reported 204,700 cases (up 16,903); 8,270 people have died (up 771); and 82,868 have recovered (up 2,020). Canada has 598 reported cases (up 157).

Read the whole post in my blog Mother Nature's Tests at

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 5 (Tuesday 17 March 2020)

Our country has now closed its borders to non-citizens and non-permanent residents, with a few exceptions. As well, international flights will only be permitted to land at four airports across the country where disembarking passengers will be subject to screening.

We are truly into new restrictions and regulations aimed at halting or slowing the spared of the Covid-19 virus. Every day we see new developments and, unfortunately new cases.

Today 147 countries (up 4 in 24 hours) have reported 188,297 cases (up 16,336); 7,499 people have died (up 845); and 80,848 have recovered (up 3,075). Canada has 441 reported cases (up 99).

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests at

Monday, 16 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 4 (Monday 16 March 2020)

The lockdown grows...

It’s like a tsunami in slow motion. All around the world, countries are closing their borders, restricting travel and public gatherings. People away from home are being urged to return, while there are still ways to get there.

Today 143 countries (up 3 in 24 hours) have reported 171,961 cases (up 11,479); 6,654 people have died (up 591); and 77,773 have recovered (up 1,830). Canada has 342 reported cases (up 89).

Read the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests at

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 3 (Sunday 15 March 2020)

The pandemic situation remains fluid.

Statistics (and real numbers) are showing us that this pandemic has many of the same qualities of other epidemics. There appears to be a limited period in which cases (and deaths) increase before they level off. In China and South Korea, the numbers are leveling off after about eight weeks of rapidly escalating rates. Another month should tell us a great deal about the Covid-19 life cycle.

Today 140 countries (down 10? in 24 hours) have reported 160,482 cases (up 12,680), 6,063 people have died (up 521) and 75,943 have recovered (up 3,371). Canada has 253 reported cases (up 53). While the number is growing in Canada, it is still a very small number when you think about how big our country is. I think the cases are under-reported as there are many countries with very few, some not believable.

See the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests at

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 2 (Saturday 14 March 2020)

Here is my second journal entry about the pandemic. I don’t know if future posts will come daily, but the rapidly changing situation continues to offer new developments in how we go about our lives. So, I will continue to record my thoughts.

Today 150 countries (up 18 in 24 hours) have reported 147,802 cases (up 10,128), 5,542 people have died (up 462) and 72,572 have recovered (down 6,865?). Canada has 200 reported cases (up42).

According to the World Health Organization, we have never seen a pandemic involving a coronavirus. We have also never seen a pandemic that we could control, so that part is encouraging.

See the whole post on my blog, Mother Nature's Tests at

Friday, 13 March 2020

Diary: Living with a pandemic 1 (Friday 13 March 2020)

I read and write a lot about events related to natural phenomena, those mainly caused by Mother Nature. She has taken on a real persona to me as I relate stories about ancestors and their battles over the past centuries regarding changes to their environment and habitat.

One of the major types of events that impacted people and communities in the past is disease. I have written several blog posts and articles that concern such things as the plague, cholera, phthisis (tuberculosis), influenza and others. I know some of my ancestors died of diseases they contracted, although I have not yet documented any that succumbed during a widespread epidemic.

These past few months, the world has been plunged into what is now a pandemic. We have seen only a few pandemics in our lifetime, the latest being the global outbreak of Swine Flu in 2009 (H1N1 virus). While it was exceedingly widespread, its consequences were not as severe as some earlier pandemics.

See my blog post on Mother Nature's Tests for the whole post.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Colourized Photos

MyHeritage has a new service. As they describe it, “MyHeritage In Color™ is an exciting new feature that lets you colorize your black and white photos automatically. The results are mind-blowing and are sure to impress your family and friends.

Like probably most members of the website I tried my hand at colourizing some old photos this week. The results truly are “mind-blowing.”

I started with old wedding photos of my direct ancestors. Here they are, along with the originals.
1890 James Shepheard & Mary Elizabeth Pearson wedding photo
1914 James Pearson Shepheard & Carrie Jane Thompson wedding photo
1939 William Calvin Shepheard & Norma Mabel Miller wedding photo
I also tried the photo that is the background of this blogsite. You can see the original in the right side margin. It is not quite as good as the others, but I think that is due to the original probably not being the best in terms of contrast.
1886 Miller-Watson Family
The process works pretty well on snapshots as well as studio portraits. Here is one taken of my wife and me - a few years ago.
1969 Linda & Wayne
This is a really neat idea! One could spend days going through their library and seeing how the people looked like if they had had colour photography. I am sure I won’t be able to resist doing many more.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Military Veteran Recordings

Recordings of parents, grandparents and others born a long time ago are invaluable in learning about family history and history in general. While not always entirely accurate due to fading memories, they allow, firstly, preservation of the voices of those now gone from our lives and, secondly, glimpses into actual events by people who were there.

I will be giving talks at the Family Tree Live event in April. In addition to activities and presentations about family history, the event will also celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which tool place on 8 May 1945. Many of the speakers and exhibitors will focus on the military.

In this post, though, I want to deal with sources that I came across several years ago, but for whatever reason have never used in a blog post.

There are a few websites on which you can hear individuals speak about their experiences during the major wars of the 20th century, as well as other military activities. These are actual recordings of soldiers or their family members talking about actual events. Most have transcripts available with the recordings.

One site is called The Memory Project, which “houses more than 2,800 testimonials and over 10,000 images from veterans of the First World War, Second World War, the Korean War and peacekeeping missions. While the archive no longer accepts submissions, it remains the largest of its kind in Canada.” The group also provides speakers for schools and communities. Information and recordings are available in both English and French.

Veterans Affairs Canada hosts a First World War Audio Archive where, again, you can “[l]isten to Veterans as they recall their life and times during the war years.” The site also has a substantial amount of information about other aspects of the war and Canadians’ involvement. The Veterans Affairs site itself is the place to go to learn about all of Canada’s military activities, in English and in French.

For the United States, “[t]he Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

The US Library of Congress has a department, Recorded Sound Research Center, where audio and visual material is stored and accessible by the public. One such library is the Marine Corps Combat Recordings.

The Imperial War Museum, in the United Kingdom, has a Sound Archive which “holds over 33,000 recordings relating to conflict since 1914. This consists of the largest oral history collection of its type in the world, with contributions from both service personnel and non-combatants as well as significant holdings of speeches, sound effects, broadcasts, poetry and music.”

Family historians may find any or all these sites of interest. Members of their own family might even be featured. In addition to the audio recordings, they also contain substantial information about past war records.

Monday, 27 January 2020

The Power of Photography: 75 years after Auschwitz

I have written before about old photos, mostly those taken by my family members and which have become valuable keepsakes. I am hoping my pictures, many of which go back into the 19th century, will survive many more generations

This past weekend, the Calgary Herald and National Post, carried a few stories about people whose lives were forever altered when they were caught up in the Holocaust during the 1940s. We have heard the stories before, at least enough of them to feel the sadness and disgust about what atrocities can be inflicted on people.

The first thing that struck me in the newspaper article were the photos of three young women, the aunts of the one article author, Jack Jedwab. Their beauty and innocence were startling, preserved forever in photos belonging to Jack’s family, when the girls themselves perished before they could achieve a full life. As the time in which the events occurred fades into history, photographs like this are powerful reminders that death was served to real people who could have been part of any of our families.

Today, January 27th, is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, in Poland. It is a day when all the world should remember what happened there, whether they are Jewish or not. Many recollections have already been written by the survivors, and by historians. But it is the pictures that bring home the truth of these events, about Auschwitz, indeed about all such death camps.

It is incumbent of all of us to not let the memories of these terrible acts disappear. Publishing and republishing photos of the aunts, uncles, fathers, mothers, grandparents and children, and remembering them as members of real families like our own, may help to prevent such things from happening again.