Friday, 31 May 2019

Gearing Up For my Annual READING Challenge ~ Will YOU Join Me?

As much as I love school, I’m starting to get excited for summer break. Not only do I get to sleep in, spend more time writing, and practicing for track and field by running laps around my grandparents’ canola farm—when the smoke clears, obviously—but I also have more time to READ, READ, READ!

I haven’t been as good at this as I should be. (Which is horrible since I want to be a writer!) This is my wake-up call. <cough cough>

Last summer, I pledged to read 10 books—down two books from previous years, but a more realistic goal. Five books a month is hard when you factor in all of the great things to do over the summer—like ride my bike, or go swimming, or even do crafts with my sister. And since Edmonton is the city of festivals, there's that too.

Still, I've decided to up my goal again and go for:

12 Books

And yes, comics count. Seriously, they do.

But that's still a lot of words, so I'm going to let you in on a little secret.... <whispers> I'm going to start THIS weekend. I know, it's not quite summer, but if this smoke doesn't go away, I won't be able to spend much time outdoors anyway.

12 books. I can do it.

Can YOU? I hereby challenge you to a summer of reading! What 12 books are on your list? Maybe we could swap lists? And if you're stuck, you can start with the Superman Duffy series of graphic novels. Order them free from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission website.

Gotta jet!
Have a great weekend… reading, right?
~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 24 May 2019

Taking Time to Appreciate Where Our Food Comes From

Sometimes, it takes a dose of reality—or Mother Nature—for me to truly appreciate farmers.

It’s not that I don’t have an understanding of where my food comes from—my grandparents are generational canola producers, and I benefit from their crop year after year. (You do too—in more ways than you think!)

But sometimes, I take it for granted that there will always be a canola field for me to run around. The truth is, farming is hard work, and it’s susceptible to many factors—like the weather. And in Alberta, as well as in many parts of the world, there's nothing predictable about Mother Nature.

Every year, my grandpa worries until he can get his seed in for this growing season, a task made that much more difficult when the weather won't cooperate. 

To give you some perspective, farmers need 14 weeks to grow a crop. Seeding can’t begin until all of the snow melts (we had snow in some parts of the province a couple of weeks ago) and the moisture-saturated land dries—which, if it's raining, like it is today, makes it even more challenging. And if all of last year's crops couldn’t be harvested, and still can’t because of the moisture in the soil, that could mean an extra delay in seeding.

Grandpa says he needs to take advantage of EVERY dry day if he’s going to get his crop in—and then, we all need to hope for perfect growing weather to ensure the seeds have enough time to grow. We live in Alberta though, so Grandma says we shouldn't hold our breath. (Seems like good advice, anyway!) As much as possible, Grandpa tries to plan ahead.

Which is what my parents are always telling me to do. Like, school assignment deadlines, and budgeting my allowance for unexpected things—because you never know what life challenge you'll need to deal with.

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend, whatever the weather.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 17 May 2019

Do April Showers Bring May Flowers?

It's an old proverb—"April Showers Bring May Flowers"—but a lot of people seem to believe it, especially my grandma and my mom, the family gardners.

And there seems to be some truth to it, since Mom's daffodils are starting to bloom. (Five of them, to be precise.) But I don't actually remember there being a lot of rain this past April. Snow, yes, but not rain.

So I guess it makes sense that from a scientific point of view, it's not rain specifically that makes flowers bloom—it's rising temperatures and water. Any kind of water. Which could include snow melt, too.

Cool, right?

I guess my teacher also thinks it's cool, because in science class right now, we're talking about growing plants, flowers, and crops—like canola—to learn about TRANSPIRATION. You know what that is, right? It's an important part of the water cycle.

AND, it's the focus of one of my favourite books in the Superman Duffy series of graphic novels. Haven't read it? Order a copy from the Alberta Canola Producers' Commission here—it's FREE for Alberta schools and libraries.

Gotta jet! I promised Mom I'd snap a few pictures of her almost blooming tulips. Have a blooming good long weekend!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 10 May 2019

Wheels up! (Er...down?)

I think we’ve seen the last of the snow (although, in Alberta there are no guarantees), which means bike season is OFFICIALLY here.

Oh sure, I’ve been riding mine a bit (on warmer days), but yesterday, the bike rack at school was FULL—which means, it’s time to remind everyone to pay close attention to the rules of the road.

I know, I know, you ALL know this, but there’s no harm in a yearly reminder, right? At least that’s what Mom says.

So—how do you keep safe on the roads? Here are my top five bike safety tips (as adapted from my mom’s rules!)

  1. Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet. Not only is it the LAW (at least in Alberta), but it could save your life.
  2. Adjust your bicycle to fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top bar if using a road bike, and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. Adjust the seat height to allow a slight bend at the knee when your leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat. (If this is complicated, ask your parents for help!)
  3. Check your equipment. Before you ride, make sure your tires are inflated, and that your breaks and gears work. 
  4. See and be seen. Wear bright colours during the day, and if you’re out at dusk or dawn, consider something with reflective strips or flashing lights. Remember, just because YOU can see a driver, doesn’t mean THEY can see YOU. Avoid riding at night if you can.
  5. Beware of road hazards. Those potholes can cause you to lose balance and fall. Steer clear of broken glass, loose gravel, and even that friendly looking dog down the street. Bicycles can scare animals—which makes them unpredictable.

That’s it! It may seem silly, but these five tips can save your life. Your bike isn’t a toy, it’s a vehicle. Now let’s get out there and start wheeling!

Gotta jet! Have a great—and safe—weekend! And Happy Mother's Day!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 3 May 2019

Mother's Day gifts YOU can make too!

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle with what to do for Mom on Mother’s Day. Every year she tells me not to buy her something, that it’s enough for me to just tell her I love her.

But that’s kind of boring, right? I mean, I do love her…everyday, not just on Mother's Day.

A few years ago I wrote her a poem. Dad framed it, and it’s still hanging in the kitchen. That was before I even learnt how to write a poem, though—so it’s not very good. I could try a new one, but every year, the kitchen fills up more and more with Chase and Amelia's school projects.

Anyway, I’ve decided to make something—and I plan to be ahead of the schedule too. I got the idea from Grandpa, who reminded me that Mother’s Day is in celebration of all the important women in your life…not just Mom. I think Mom and Grandma will love the Bath Body Salt Scrub I’m mixing up this weekend.

Want to make some for your mom, too?

Ask an adult to help you with this recipe:

½ cup (125 mL) Epsom salts (not regular salt, but the kind from the pharmacy)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) almond oil
30-35 drops essential oil (to make it smell nice, but not necessary)

Mix Epsom salts, canola oil, almond oil and essential fragrance oil together. Place in a glass jar. Tie a ribbon or piece of yarn at the top to make it prettier. You can even print off a custom label to make it more personal.

Be sure to let your mom know to mix it up again before using—and then to rinse it off after. And as with all salts, don’t rub the scrub onto a wound—it will sting. Ouch!

Gotta jet! Dad and I are going shopping for ingredients this weekend while Mom is at a work event. See you next Friday.

~ Chase Superman Duffy