Friday, May 18, 2018

Nature's Protection and Defences

We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate
of having taken form so far below ourselves.
And therein, we err ~ and greatly err!
For the animal shall not be measured by man.
In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and completely gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained ~ living by voices we shall never know.
They are not brethren, they are not underlings.
They are other Nations caught up with ourselves in the net of life and time ~ fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth. (Henry Beston)

After the Storm ~ A Very Mature Cherry Tree in Full Bloom
at the Royal Botanical GardensArboretum
Kathy Renwald asks, in The Hamilton Spectator, “Why did my roof shingles fly off in the windstorm on Friday ~ while the magnolia flowers are still on the tree?” Hamilton had the highest wind gusts in Ontario, recorded at 126 kilometres an hour. Shingles were flying...waves crashed all around Hamilton Harbour...and trees were uprooted and lost limbs. But once the storm was over, the magnolia flowers looked unperturbed. Even the delicate cherry blossoms held on through the mayhem.
Look at a magnolia flower and see that it is firmly attached by a node.
My thought is: the node is strong. It doesn't present a big target for wind damage
and therefore, it rides out the storms. Not so, with big trees.
The photo is magnificent: atop the twisted gnarled tree trunk are the glorious blooms, hundreds of them in 'spring pink' adorning the widespread limbs outstretching to the azure blue sky. And to the side are 4 smaller pics of the delicate pink cherry blossoms, having 'toughed it out' during the storm.
Delicate but Defiant against Nature's storm outburst!

Dave Morgan, an arbourist from Ancaster stated, “Most storms leave an isolated path of destruction, but this left damage everywhere. It really caught the evergreens. Over 90% of their calls were for spruce and fir trees, healthy ones that were knocked down. The wet ground contributed to trees being uprooted. A physics study in 2016 concluded that all trees break in winds of 151 km/hr and upward.
The study used experiments and storm data, based on trees in a forest setting.
Kathy reported that 3 days after the storm, she returned to the RBG to see the cherry trees ~ some are ancient and massive, some are in decline, but all were still standing after the storm. And they were gathering a crowd ~ all there to look at the blossoms, 'delicate but defiant' on a calm May day.

Flora and Fauna...
are two very important aspects of the eco-system. No matter where you go on the planet, there are stunning plants, flowers and wildlife on the earth that are fascinating to observe and study. However, in this technical era, humans interacting more with gadgets, it's almost impossible to find time to interact with nature. Originating from Latin, Flora means Goddess of the flower. According to Roman mythology, Fauna refers to the Goddess of Fertility and sometimes referred to as Fauns meaning Forest Spirits. Without flora and fauna, humans cannot exist. The flora generates and releases oxygen
which is needed by the fauna for respiratory purposes. In return, the fauna produces and releases carbon dioxide which is needed by the flora for photosynthesis. It's a symbolic kind of relativity.
Humans also benefit in research to sources of food, medicine and water.
Mankind's duty is to protect and conserve our flora and fauna.
Through a combination of changing climates...lost habitats...increased poaching...increased food scarcity...business development of lands...mankind needs to interact with plants and animals in addition to protecting our fresh waters. Did you know that stranded vessels and disposals of unwanted waste, pollute our Lakes, our Rivers, Bays and Seashores around the world? And biodiversity is fundamental as it ensures natural sustainability of all life on earth.
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities
of the Universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
(Rachel Carson)

Four Falcon Babies Born at the Sheraton
Natalie Paddon from The Hamilton Spectator reports:
The queen of the peregrine falcon nest at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel has much to celebrate this Mother's Day. Four seemingly healthy chicks, belonging to parents Lily and Ossie, hatched last weekend ~ the most babies born at one time since 2010. While the couple ~ who have had offspring at the Hamilton hotel since 2015, laid eggs near the edge of the nest ledge last year, no babies hatched.
On the evening of May 3, the peregrine watchers spied Momma Lily
bringing food back to the nest and tearing it apart before one fluffy white head peeked out.
By Sunday, all 4 chicks had hatched and were arguing with one another over food.
Over the years, close to 60 chicks have been born at the Sheraton.
Now, the watchers are kicking it into high gear as they prepare the babies' banding and health checks to take place May 24. At that point, the chicks will likely be named as well.
The Hamilton Community Peregrine Project is looking for volunteeers
to help track the movements of the chicks as they make their first flights.

Avian parents frequently spend more time than human families
in not only the preparation (together building nests),
incubating the eggs 24/7 with parents alternating the day & night schedules,
locating food for the tiny, hungry babes and feeding them,
and when of age, teaching them to fly.
Often, these falcons breed during the spring, early summer months,
thus having a 2nd or 3'rd pregnancy.
Sometimes, they are life-long mates.
And, like many humans, they fly south for the winter!
M. B-K
For 3 summers, prior to our balcony replacements, I observed, wrote notes
and photo-ed mourning doves as they built their nest on one of my wrought-iron chairs,
incubated the eggs and as they hatched, other neighbouring doves sat
on the hydro/telephone wires to enjoy the birth arrivals.

A Thoughtful Look at the Animal World
Referring to an article written in The Spec's May 7th issue, titled,
 Humans Not the Only Species, Janet, from Hamilton responded:
I respected Kendra's thoughtful article about animals, the creatures with whom we share the planet.
How resourceful they are. And how vulnerable. It saddens me that so many animals ~ wild and domesticated ~ are treated so badly by human beings.

Anthony Douglas Williams states, “We destroy life and we pollute the oceans
and skies, yet we have the audacity to call ourselves superior beings.”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 11, 2018

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Instincts of Mothers

Animal Mothers Remind Us a Lot of Our Own

For animals, great and small, it is often up to Mom to teach them
how to survive and use their instincts wisely. (Unknown author)

Animal Moms are legendary ~
from the humpback whale's unfailing devotion to her calf
to the tiny poison-dart frog who grows to great lengths
to raise her helpless tadpoles. (Anonymous)

The job of the Mom ~ whether you are a human or another animal ~
is to raise kids who can protect and feed themselves and eventually leave the nest.

The Dream of Becoming a Mother
May is a wonderful month. It brings spring, new beginnings ~ and is the month we celebrate Mother's Day. Many aspirations from children and their hopes for the future, were created from what they learned at school ~ and from what they have witnessed and watched first-hand from family, friends, movies and social media. From many, the dreams shared have involved becoming parents and raising children. It is a popular saying, that 'you are the average of 5 people you spend the most time with.'

Aside from our own mothers, who would be for most of us, our prime example, there are our friends and other family members that probably make up our 5 people of influence. For many of us, 'mothering and caregiving' is instinctual, but for others, is a consciously learned skill ~ and this is one of the main reasons why moms and other care-givers need active and engaged community support.
As community participants, we all have important roles to play:
perhaps as a school/club mentor or as the primary caregiver of a child.
But 'dreams don't always come true and plans can suddenly falter.
What if our childhood aspirations don't come true? What happens if our dream of a relationship and co-parenting together does not exist? What if the partner we are sharing our life with, slowly begins to mistreat us? What if our choice to have a child later in life is taken from us due to a pregnancy resulting from rape? What if our dreams of a stable partnership become the reality of domestic abuse?
Abuse is not only physical, it can be emotional, verbal, financial,
sexual, psychological and social...including threats, intimidation, isolation
and any behaviour that is intended to control, humiliate or harm.
Although 80% of domestic violence victims tell family or friends of their situation, only 30% report the abuse to the police We need to be part of their 'five people of influence' who can assist her with help.
The ability of honouring Moms, is not only in May but in everyone's ability every day!
We must be More than a Bystander!”

The foregoing are excerpts from a writing by Nancy Smith,
Executive Director of Hamilton 24-hour Crisis Line.

In the animal kingdom, the rule is 'Eat or be Eaten.'
In the human kingdom, define ~ or be defined,' stated byThomas Szasz.

The wolf is an excellent model of 'motherhood.'

A Journey Back in Time ~ Finds his Birth Mother
It began with a heart attack in the Pentagon parking lot in pre-dawn darkness.
Air Force Col. Bruce Hollywood was on his way to work and found himself on the ground, thinking:
This is where it ends.” Later, as he lay in the ambulance racing to Walter Reed Army Hospital, 2 regrets popped into his head. One was that he wouldn't be able to help his son with his college applications. The other was that he never thanked the Japanese woman who gave birth to him, then gave him up for adoption in 1960. (Bruce Hollywood was adopted by an American couple who were stationed in Japan with the U.S. military and could offer him a good life in America.) It took that heart attack in 2005 for him to set out to find his birth mother,

I always knew I was adopted because I had Asian features and (my father) was an Irishman and (my mother) was a Norwegian lady,” said Hollywood, 57 ~ and they always told me ~ “We picked you out special. So you're even more special than everyone else.” His parents had told him his birth mother's family name and even offered to pay for a flight to Japan for him. He had always declined.

But, once he recovered from his heart attack, Hollywood began his search. His plan was to send his mother a secret letter, in case she never told anyone she had a son. He wanted her to know how wonderful his life turned out, to show her gratitude by writing, “I lived the best life ever. I'm a Colonel in the U.S. Airforce. I've got beautiful children. Life is really good.” He gave up after contacting the Japanese Embassy...the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo...and.a private detective.
A few months later, he was at Dulles International Airport in Virginia,
on his way to a military conference in Germany.
Early for his flight, he sat down at a wine bar. Across from him was another military man who was going to the same conference: Adm. Harry Harris, whose mother was Japanese. (Today, he is commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and had been nominated to be ambassador to South Korea.)
Due to his 'Embassy status,' Harris was able to make contacts.
Ten days later, sitting at his desk in the Pentagon, Hollywood's phone rang. The message was, We found your mother, Nobue Ouchi. She's going to call you at this phone number in10 minutes...and she doesn't speak English. Good Luck!” After urgent emails, Hollywood found someone who could interpret on a conference call. Moments later, the phone rang ~ it was his mother ~ and she was crying. For the next few minutes, Hollywood listened to the interpreter who informed him, Tomorrow is your mother's 65th birthday...and the birthday present that she dreamed of, her whole life, is that you would come back to her. The interpretor said his mother never married, 'because she said in her heart there was only room for one man. And it was you...and she knew you would be back.
And then the interpreter said, “Your mother ran her own business ~ a restaurant
and bar she named 'Bruce.'
Ten days later, Bruce Hollywood was in Shizuoka, Japan ~ a couple hours by train from Tokyo, where she lived. Finding his mother, gave him an identity as a Japanese American. Today he is on the boards of the Japanese American Veterans Association...and the Japanese American Memorial to WWII.
There is no instinct like that of the heart. (Lord Byron)

Life is the best gift a person can give. If you want to show your gratitude, the best thing you can give in return, is love ~ not only to another human being, but other living beings as well.
(April Peerless)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 12, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Travel Intrigue

Milton Beryle says, “If opportunity doesn't knock ~ build a door!”
Bobby Unser states, “Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Henry Ford advises: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again ~
this time with more intelligence.”

My love of Canada is immense!
 Having viewed a few times from the Atlantic  to the Pacific Ocean,
 the Territories, I yet have to travel although been briefly to Carcross
 named by the Aborigines as 'Cariboo Crossing' in Yukon.

On occasion, I'd crossed the U.S. border with a couple friends enroute to Florida ~ several times to America's eastern states. As a teenager, with my family, we drove firstly to Vancouver and returned stateside to Chicago and home. During the summer, following two years of teaching, with a Sudbury friend, we toured 13 European countries ~ always with the yen and desire to return again.

My son, working several years in U.S. gave me opportunity to 'go visit him.' My greatest memorable journey was in 2001 when driving my son's van from California's Silicon Valley across the western and mid-states to Detroit and crossing into Canada ~ my homeland. Colorado's Rocky Mountains absolutely impressed me (especially the ski areas)...even the Prairie states had unique travel appeal. But, whenever on travel-mode, I was always thrilled to return to my Land of the Maple Leaf.
In California 3 times, on weekends, we drove the scenic Highway 1...
discovered 3 tall cedars, driving through the trunk of one...
touring National Parks and the mighty Sierras.
A highlight on a Labour Day weekend was to meet with my nephew, Jimmy and his wife, Marcela, who lived in Oakland; we toured Yosemite National Park (what a sensation!) and toured the wine valleys, enjoying a luncheon on a refurbished old Victorian-type steam engine train as it trundled through the numerous luscious vineyards. We rode the Squaw Valley chair lift to the top, enjoying the patio lunch with a glass of Napa Valley wine as we dined amid this skyline panorama!

Joshua Tree National Park
Featured in the Hamilton's Spectator this past weekend in the travel section, a couple photos grabbed my curiosity. One stark photo captioned the view: Twisted trees and jumbled boulders compete for attention in Joshua Tree National Park. Located south of the Mojavi Desert and easterly Palm Springs is about an hour away. Following are excerpts from an article by Alex Pulaski for the Washington Post.

A century ago, Palm Springs remained an unincorporated village of a few thousand residents. The automobile's advent helped establish it as a 'way station' between Los Angeles and points east from Phoenix to El Paso and beyond. The Hollywood crowd discovered the city in the 1920's and 1930's, seeking a getaway near enough to 'film lots' to meet studio demands. Golf courses sprouted, as did palm-lined boulevards. The surrounding communities expanded as well, with soothing names such as Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City and Indian Wells. By 1947, as the post-Second World War economy sizzled, The 'Rat Pack' made Palm Springs party central! “It was more about fun than function,” said guide Michael Stern, “Palm Spring's whole goal is to provide pleasure ~ there is nothing here other than tourism.”
The desert never seems far away, even amid the battalions of palm trees
standing sentinel over the urban area. Even after a walk through the oasis of palm trees,
it was hard to imagine how the 'Cahuilla Indians' coaxed an existence from this rugged terrain.

The Joshua Tree is the largest of the 'yucca' species. So rare, it only grows in the Mojavi Desert Extremely slow-growing, the tree only grows about 2-3 inches a year. It can take up to 60 years for a Joshua Tree to mature ~ and can live up to 150 years. Tall, with a slim trunk, its branches wave like 'arms' toward the sky. Joshua Tree was given its name by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojavi Desert in the mid 19th century. The tree's unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
The Joshua Tree likes dry soils on plains, slopes and mesas,
often growing in groves.
The Mojavi Desert when in bloom is a paradym of luschious colours ~
jewel toned fuschias, emerald greens, topaz pinks, fire-opal oranges,
sapphire blues and royal purples.

Another photo submitted with this publication was of palm trees
in a harsh landscape which abound along the San Andreas Fault near Palm Springs.

Point of Interest ~ Palm Springs, California
On another occasion, visiting a local friend who frequents Palm Springs once yearly,
we spent a week in this unusual and rare green landscape of golf courses,
which to my understanding ~ the water comes from tapped underground springs.
From Los Angeles airport, we drove through the San Bernardino Mountains ~ witnessed a large valley filled with wind turbines...saw signs indicating the location of the San Andreas Fault. Unknown to me, this mountainous area around Palm Springs is a great ski center, both for cross-country skiing and downhill. Being a skier, I was impressed until I noticed the cable-car running steeply up the mountain side to the top. WOW! How dangerous that could be, while enclosed in this 'lift' supported by high steel towers, should the Andreas Fault decide to activate!!! It was summer ~ therefore, No Problem!

The first day there, we rode that cable car to the top to survey the awe-inspiring view, spanning 360 degrees. Fabulous! We enjoyed a delicious lunch, mountaintop...and were saturated with the geographic beauty all around! Although I'd ridden many ski-lifts and cable cars, this was the only one that created a sensation that could possibly be dangerous. What if??? the Fault fulfilled its mission? What if??? the high construction towers lost their stability? What if??? the cable car stops high above the valley below? What if we're stranded? I'm certain that the ski lift operators have rescue plans!!!
It was a glorious week!
We drove northbound (seeing signage for Joshua Tree National Park) and travelled beside the Mojavi Desert, noticing a military base located within the desert...passed the entry to Yosemite Park, but with insufficient time to explore it, we went on to Reno, Nevada entering an olden bar (which was historic ~ (the oldest working bar in U.S.) Then crossing country to Sacramento and the coast, we thrilled to the awe of #1 Highway and the everso-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. The mighty redwoods along the road were just that: MIGHTY!
Back in Los Angeles, we picked up 'lunches to go' and enjoyed them
with a bottle of wine on Venice Beach before leaving on a plane for home.

Wrtten by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 3, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

People in the News ~ Part 2

From Hamilton Ontario
Rev. John C. Holland Awards: (From politics to athletes and fund-raising, winners exhibit examplary skills and deep community involvement). A colour photo by Scott Gardner shows 9 winners!

Sharon Nwamadi, winner of the Evelyn Myrie Bursary
Jordan Mathurin, winner of the Audre Lorde Scholarship
Chigwe Worenwu, winner of the Marlene Thomas Scholarship
Kayonne Christy, winner of the Lincoln Alexander Scholarship
Joelsa Domingos, winner of the Nelson Mandela Scholarship
Vivica Letang, wiinner of the Rev. George Horton Scholarship
Alec Purnell, winner of the Raymond G. Lewis Scholarship
Angelique DeSouza, winner of the Dr. Ethilda Johnson Bursary
Kudakwashe Chakanyuka, winner of the YWCA Scholarship
The Rev. John C. Holland Awards were established to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our community ~ with a particular focus on the contributions of African Canadians to the social, economic and cultural ife of our entire city.

'Cemetery Guy' Honoured With Award ~ Robin McKee is 'the man' regarding our buried history.
Mathew Van Dongen from the Hamilton Spectator writes: “The ceremony was hosted by a comedian, but Robin McKee vied for the biggest laugh as he accepted a lifetime achievement honour at the Hamilton Heritage Day Awards. The historian and storyteller ~ who proudly refers to himself as 'the cemetery guy' had a rquest of fellow history buffs who might some day follow in his footsteps as a tombstone tour guide. I will be buried in Hamilton Cemetery. It's where I do my thing, my bliss, he said at a packed Hamilton City Hall ceremony ~ his trembling voice just short of tears. (Then he waited a beat.) So, for future cemeteries tour guides, put me on the tour.
McKee earned both laughter and accolades along with his award
named for beloved historian Reverend T. Melville Bailey.
McKee is a historian, author, Sir John A. Macdonald Society chair and restorer of old Hamilton architecture ~ but he is best-known for his love affair with history buried in Hamilton's Burlington Heights cemetery. He's already bought his future plot in 'section Q.'

Local comedian David Brennan recalled trying to follow the indefatigable award winner around on a past tour. “I couldn't even keep up with him...he was running around the cemetery like a 15-year old boy.” (He has a wealth of stories about locals, whose demises could tell many tales.)
Upon invitation, Robin McKee attended a Rotary Club breakfast meeting in Waterdown
and throroughly entertained us with his knowledge, his wisdom and humour.

From Guelph ~ Man Faces More Charges of Sexual, Physical Assault: Police say a traditional Chinese medicine praactitioner and acupuncturist charged last year in a sex-assault investigation now faces ten more charges. In addition to four more counts of sexual assault, Sherman Lai faces charges of assault with a weapon and uttering death threats. Lai, 58, practised at the Center of Integrative Natural Medicine in Guelph for over 20 years, and moved his practice to nearby Morriston about six years ago. He was charged with sexual assault against a former patient in October.

More former patients brought allegations of sexual assault to police in the months that followed and additional charges were brought against Lai in November and again in January. Police ssy the most recent charges involve three additional victims, all of whom had been patients.

From Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Ottawa adds Indigenous Name to P.E.I Park: A national park in Prince Edward Island that bears the name of a controversial British general will be renamed. Parks Canada confirmed Friday that it will add a Mi'kmaq name, “skmaqn” (pronounced Ska-Maa-kin) to the Porte-la-Joye ~ Fort Amherst National Historic Site which is near Charlottetown.

Indigenous critics have long complained that General Jeffery Amherst's name should be removed because he stands accused of trying to wipe out the Mi'kmaq by giving them blankets infected with smallpox. Several places in the U.S. and Canada including Amherst, Nova Scotia and Amherstburg, Ontario bear his name.

From New York, United States
Michelle Obama Memoir Coming in November: One of her most highly anticipated books in recent years is coming out November 13. The former 'first lady' tweeted that the book to come out a week after the 2018 midterm elections, is called “Becoming.” By Sunday night, her memoir was in the top 20 on Amazon.com. “Writing Becoming has been a deeply personal experience,” she said. “It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajactory of my life.

“In this book, I talk about my roots and how a little girl from the south side of Chicago found her voice and developed the strength to use it to empower others. I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be.”

Travelling the World with Alessia Cara
An abbreviated extract from The Hamilton Spectator
(written by Graham Rockingham)
For the past three years, Stoney Creek's Eric Ruscinski has been playing guitar
and keyboards for the Grammy-winning singer.
Eric Ruscinski was driving home to Stoney Creek after making a few extra bucks giving guitar lessons in Oakville. He was tired and frustrated with the direction his career was heading ~ nowhere!
A friend was on the phone pestering him to go to a Canadian Music Week music showcase in Toronto. Hang out...see some friends...make a few connections. Ruscinski reached the Guelph Line before giving in...turning his car around...and heading to the Revival Bar on College Street.
Opportunity Knocked!
He doesn't remember who was playing at the club that night, but he'll never forget meeting an industry 'bigwig' named Chris Smith. (Smith had launched Nelly Furtado's career and was now managing another young 'up and comer' by the name of Alessia Cara.) Alyssia's band was in need of someone who could play guitar and keyboards. The next day, Ruscinski was in rehearsal with Alessia. The following week, he was in New York playing a showcase with her.
He's been by her side ever since ~ playing stadiums across Europe and North America
with 'Cold Play' ...two Juno Award shows...and all the major American TV Talk shows
including 'The Ellen Show...Saturday Night Live...and Jimmy Fallons's Tonight Show.
That chance meeting at the Revival Bar was in early 2015. Alyssia was just 17. Her break-through hit “Here” was just starting to hit radio. The Brampton-born singer is now 21 and at the top of the music world ~ winning recently a Grammy for 'Best New Artist.”
(The one page article with 3 photos appeared Saturday, February 10, 2018),

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 7, 2018

Monday, April 30, 2018

Olympians' Impressive Words

A Look at some notable quotes from the PyeongChang Winter Games
published by The Canadian Press

At the end of the day, a medal's a medal ~ and I'm going to hold this medal tight to me and it's going to be as good as the individual event. I'm going to enjoy it ~ and that's for me to decide.
Canadian figure skater, Patrick Chan, when asked
if a 'team gold medal' could make up for missing individual gold.

We also needed to deliver a message to prove that we're ready and trained. We're committed to this and want to be an integral part of the team ~ and to contribute as best we could. We approached it as if it all came down to us. Ice dancer, Tessa Virtue on preparing for the 'free dance' after learning that their Canadian teammates had already clinched a gold medal in the team event.

I could feel the pressure when I got here, especially after my silver medal (at 2014 Winter Games) in Sochi. Now, I've won everything there is to win in my sport. The feeling is unbelievable! I've lived this moment a million times in my dreams ~ and can't wait for the medal ceremony Tuesday. Canadian moguls star, Mikael Kingsbury after winning his first Olympic gold medal.

This 'mixed doubles' is so much fun to play. If I was just starting out curling, and I had the choice to play 'team curling' or 'mixed doubles' I'd certainly play 'mixed doubles! It's quicker...it's more athletic...and you don't have to take 3 hours to play. Canadian curler, John Morris after combining with Winnipeg's Kaitlyn Lawes to win the gold medal.

I'm really stubborn. I was like, 'I wanted to compete. I will compete!' Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin, who won a silver medal in 'slope-style' despite a hard crash in training a few days earlier.

Clearly what we want is for great performances to be applauded
and that's what the Olympic Games is about. We are not in control of social media
...and unfortunately these incidents do occur from time to time.It's regrettable.
International Olympic Committee spokespeson Mark Adams on Canadian short-track speed-
skater, Kim Boutin receiving angry tweets after her controversial bronze medal
in the women's 500 metres.

A lot of work has gone behind this and I'm really proud to win this medal ~ right now, it's a lot of emotion. Short track speed skater, Kim Boutin after being bumped up from 4th to 3rd to win a bronze inthe women's 500-metre event.

I have had some really touching messages from people who are 'still in the closet' and they said that I've really inspired them ~ and helped them to try to accept themselves more! Canadian pairs figure skater, Eric Radford on being the first openly gay male athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.

I don't know if it's been quite like I expected. I believe when the guys were trying to 'make the team' they were playing harder. Then, once they made it, they were worried about being injured. So I'm hoping we get back to the team that's ready to go ~ and play hard again. Canadian men's hockey coach Willie Desjardins, a day before his team opened its Olympic tournament against Switzerland.

The Canadians, there's no surprise. They always come 'full on.'
Big heart and a lot of drive and straight-line hockey. And we play similar.
Switzerland men's hockey coach Patrick Fischer on taking on Canada.

It's the energy she brings on and off the ice every single day. She's got a heart of gold. She never takes a moment off. Sometimes we have to scale her back just in terms of importance of rest and recovery and how that can influence your performance. Canadian women's hockey coach Laura Schuler on Marie-Philip Poulin who heads up a new leadership group in PyeongChang.

I always felt that I was able to do something special on the ice, but I was never able to show it. I had hit a wall in my career. I found that different way and got way more than I ever would have hoped. Speedskater Ted-Jan Bloeman on how his move from the Netherlands to Canada boosted his career.

It's incredible. The first one was awesome, but to come out here and race it with these guys...it's such an amazing feeling to do it in a team format. I put together the best run I could...they followed it up and we got the redemption from 4 years ago ( finishing just off the podium at the 2014 Games). Alex Gough on winning her second luge medal in PyeongChang by helping the relay team win silver.

It's the sweetest (ending) it could possibly be right now. Canadian figure skater, Eric Radford, on winning pairs bronze with Meagan Duhamel in what is likely to be their last Olympic appearance.

It was a close game, could have gone against us. Anytime you win here, feels good because that one especially was a grind. Canada's men's curling skip, Kevin Koe whose team beat Norway 7-4.

We're here to win a gold medal! Canada's women's hockey forward, Meghan Agosta
on movng into second all-time with her 18th Olympic goal in a 2-1 win over United States.

Skaters Sing New Lyrics ~ Sort Of,”
wrote Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press.
From PyeongChang, Korea Republic: Canada's Olympic athletes are still getting used to their national anthem's new lyrics. Moments after winning the country's first gold medal at the Winter Games, with a dominating performance in the 'team figure skating event,' Monday, Patrick Chan searched the new gender-neutral version to O Canada on his phone. “I looked it up; I googled it really quick to ensure that I knew when it was coming,” he said with a grin.
Bill C-210 passed by the Canadian Senate last month changed the national anthem's
official lyrics from “in all in thy sons command to...in all of us command.”
The Olympic Committee informed athletes about the switch ahead of the Games in South Korea.
While the skaters were all in on trying to sing the new version, it didn't quite come off as planned. “We reminded each other before we went to the presentation,” stated Eric Radford. “OK, these are the new words. Then we were singing and we got near the end and I was like, Where did that lyric go. I don't even remember what I sang. “When the anthem came, I still sang the wrong lyric,” added Meagan Duhamel.I laughed to myself and thought, It's an old habit, I guess!”
Scott Moir, who carried the Canadian flag with icedance partner, Tessa Virtue, said,
it was important to set the tone by belting out the new lyrics after their victory.
We're so proud of Canada for making the change.
That's why we marched in together with the flag. It's 2018. It's about time!”

Scripted by Merle Baird-Kerr...February 16, 2018
All comments welcome: mbairdkerr@cogeco.ca or inezkate@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Feathered Friends

How enriched life is by friends!
Good friends, new friends, old friends, feathered friends.
(Laural Burch)
The hen is the worst of all the animal creatures ~
because she never cackles until the egg has been laid.
(President Abraham Lincoln)

Morton Feldman, spending some time in the park as he wateched our feathered friends, stated,
“They're not free! They're fighting over bits of food.”

Bird Tales ~ Amazing Stories About Feathered Friends
Morning Commotion: Early one morning while vacationing on Cape Cod, we were awakened by a loud noise right outside our window. I looked around outside and found a young bird in a tree having been disturbed. My wife, thinking there was a snake in the house, I ran to the rescue. Instead I found a red-tailed hawk perched on a rocking chair inside our enclosed porch ~ apparently, having flown through a slit in the screen door. It was amazing to see the gorgeous flier up close. Cautiously I guided the hawk to the door as my wife watched from a distance. The bird hopped out the door and quickly flew off, circling the house a few times as if to say, 'thanks.' (Kevin from New York)

Reindeer Games: My son was working on the mechanical reindeer for our Christmas display when a hawk suddenly flew at him. It dove toward him; instead, it grabbed the deer display with its claws and began hissing and flapping its wings. The reindeer continued its automated movements, knocking the hawk off its perch...and into the snow. The bird rolled over...stared up at the deer...spread its wings...and then disappeared. I guess the hawk was no match for a reindeeer! (Jane from Montreal)

Humming Along: I grew up in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia where hummingbirds were a common sight. I've lived in Edmonton for 36 years now, and until recently, had never seen one here. In August of 2013, while sitting at my kitchen table with a coffee and the crossword puzzle...and overlooking my garden, noticing something land on a garden plant ~ wondering if it was a grasshopper; to my shock it was a hummingbird. Took several photos: the highlight of my summer. (Teresa)

Beware of Mockingbird: Sitting on my porch, a flash of movement in a vacant lot across the street, I saw a squirrel with a northern mockingbird following close behind. The duo made their way to my neighbour's roof...the bird pecking away at the squirrel's head. Some time later, the same mockingbird was seen chasing a red fox through my yard and across the road onto the vacant lot! (Barbara)

Some Like it Hot: I stood at our sliding glass doors and watched the flurries of our first major snowstorm. With camera in hand, I hoped the weather would draw the birds to our feeders and heated birdbath. At least a dozen robins descended on our garden at once to use the steaming birdbath! They landed on it...under it...and some even hovered overhead...completely oblivious to me with a camera while awaiting their morning's warm bath...and visit to our feeding station. (Julian, from Iowa)

Tanager Takes Out Wasps: Every summer the wasps do their best to 'decorate' our 4 porches (about 96 ft. In lenght) with their nests. A male summer Tanager, seemed to be dodging something because it was bobbing its head up and down; it had actually pulled down a wasps' nest. (George from Michigan)

Buzz Off! There was a buzzard on my roof...a large red-headed turkey vulture was sitting on the highest point of my house. (According to an old wives' tale, I knew, a vulture on your roof is a bad sign, but since it wan't doing any harm, I left him alone. Soon, several dark shadows flew overhead ...and looking up on the roof, there sat more than 20 vultures perched around an injured bird. Hearing a loud squawk, the group of birds parted. With their wings flapping slowly, they let out soft clucks, then rising together from the roof, they flew away. The lone bird joined them, wobbling at first before flying with the rest of the flock. (Kit from Vermont)

Fireworks at Ballpark Threat to Osprey: Aminor-league baseball fan in Florida is on a mission to help a pair of ospreys whose nest atop the left field lights is in the path of the weekly fireworks show.
Celine Sullivan is a longtime fan of the Daytona Torgugas.
She tells the Daytona Beach News Journal she watched the smoke and flaming debris swirl around the ospreys during a fireworks show after the home opener. Sullivan and David Hartgrove of the Halifax River Audubon chapter asked the team to either stop the fireworks show ~ or move it. It was not an issue last season when the nest was atop the first base lights. Team president and city spokesperson Susan Cerbone say they'll work on a solution. The team is an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

(The foregoing are excerpts from the National Geographic magazine and local press)

Our Friend, The Bird
Our world is enhanced by birds on the wing;
They grace our blue skies as they chirp and they sing.

Their early spring songs bring joy to the ear,
A summer of songs many months we shall hear.

The robins, the sparrows, a help to mankind,
eat pesky mosquitoes and bugs that they find.

Geese on the lake or ducks on the shore,
they want to be friends and ask nothing more.

A companion for man, their songs fill the air,
enjoyment they bring, so much to share.

The hunmingbird's quickness shows lightening speed,
as it pollinates flowers seed after seed.

Year after year, there's a ritual sight
as geese form a V on their ritual flight.

Let's be their companions, protect what they need,
and our fine, feathered friends will return our good deed.

(Linda Macleod of Uxbridge, Ontario submitted this poem
on behalf for her friend, Ken Parsons, who sadly passed away at age of 81)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...April 17, 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

Significant Plant of Planet Earth

Consider a tree for a moment.
As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don't see what goes on underground ~ as they grow roots. Trees must develop roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don't see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree. (Joyce Meyer)

Mother Nature is Always Speaking,”
wrote Radhanath Swami, after living as a wanderer in the Himalayan foothills.
“She speaks in a language understood with the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. Leopards, cobras, monkeys, rivers and trees. They all served as my teachers.”

The “Joshua Tree” about which I've recently written, lives and thrives uniquely in California's Joshua Tree National Park, adjacent to the Mojavi Desert. It reminded me of an entry sign at John Muir's Redwood Forest near San Francisco: Advice From a Tree (written by Ilan Shamir)
Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long-term

Many Trees 'Unique to Specific Locations in the World.'
Rainbow Eucalypcus (Pacific Islands (Kauai); Dragon's Blood Trees (Socatra Island, part of Yemen's territory due to the trees' red sap); Bamboo Fronds (grasses) in Japan and Hawaii; Angel Oak Tree (Charleston area in South Carolina); Joshua Tree (Mojavi Desert in California); Pakistan's Spider Trees; Japanese Maples (Eastern Asia); Giant Sequoias (California); Tree Tunnel (Northern Ireland).

Giant Blobabs (Madagascar); Dead Vlei Trees (renamed Namib in the Namibian Desert); Blossom Cherry Trees (from the German city of Bonn to the guards of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and to District of Columbia's Basin marking the beginning of spring); California's Redwoods ~ which are the tallest trees in the world growing along the Pacific coast near the Bay area); Bristlecone Pine in the American West; Ponderosa Pines in Bryce Canyon, Utah; Blue Jacaranda in the South Americas;
the Banyan Trees located in Hawaii and Zealand.

Canada's Tall Trees
The second-largest Douglas Fir may have been found near Port Renfrew standing alone in 'a clear-cut' on Vancouver Island ~ estimated 1,000 years old. Canada's largest and greatest is Cheewhat Grant ~ a western cedar in a remote location near Cheewhat Lake within the Pacific Rim National Park (south-western Vancouver Island). The tree measures 20 feet in trunk diameter...182 feet in height...450 feet regular telephone poles worth of wood. It was discovered in 1988.
The Pacific Rim National Park was created in1971.

Plant Survives!
(and so can you and I in dire circumstances)
Little House on the Prairie (now on TV reruns), tells of a family surviving a hurricane in Minnesota that destroyed their rural country home. Alphonso, the husband, married to Laura, was injured and wheel-chair bound. His hope for his family's future was doomed. Loving Laura, their baby and his farm, he gave up hope of ever walking again...of not being a responsible husband...of lacking the ability to reconstruct his collapsed home. One day, he wheel-chaired over to his almost demolished house... ...viewed the broken windows and doors (with the semblance of 'what used to be')...and deriding himself with, “What's the use of even trying to even rebuild my crippled life?”
I wanted to die ~ but now I need to live!

With stunned amazement, he saw Laura's father attempting to assemble the broken pieces. Considering his inabilities, he thought that any resurrection to a 'living home' was impossible.
Unbelieving, he noticed a lonely 'alive green plant' which outlived the hurricane:
green and flourishing at a basement corner, giving him the Will to Live!
To Laura's father, he stated, “I wanted to die ~ but now I want to live!”

With assistance, Alonzo managed to get out of his wheel-chair...
and standing, was able to saw lumber to begin his home restoration.

Like the Joshua Tree, we adapt to our environment ~ whether residing in Canada's Northland or coping with the hot, humid summer days of south-western Ontario. As for me, I choose a Canadian location with pleasure to enjoy Nature's Gift of Four Seasons!

Waterdown Sapling with Vimy Ridge Lineage Receives Heritage Label
Although published a year ago by Natalie Paddon from The Hamilton Spectator,
this sapling of approximately 100 oaks were sent across the country
to commemorate soldiers in battle.
A two-metre sapling that is a direct descendant of the English oaks at Vimy Ridge is the only tree in Hamilton to receive heritage designation. While planted on the grounds of the Waterdown Legion only in June, the Vimy Memorial Oak Tree is significant because of its lineage. The fenced-in sapling is one of approximately 100 oaks sent across the country to commemorate the more than 10,000 Canadian casualties in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The story of the trees, stems from acorns collected by Canadian soldier, Leslie Miller ~ who died in1979 ~ sent them home. They were planted on his rural Scarborough property, where they grew into a forest of oaks on land now owned by the Scarborough 'Chinese Baptist Church. For the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, efforts were made bygrafting hundreds of branches from the tips of the trees to saplings of English oaks from British Columbia. The work was done at Connon Nurseries in West Flamborough in 2015.
Coun. Judy Partridge suggested putting the tree forward
for Heritage designation. “One hundred years from now, that tree is going to be still standing and I believe it is important that no one chops it down without adhering to the heritage designation.”
“It has created a landscape in Flamborough that's going to highlight
the military history for Canada. It's something that's leaving a legacy.
“On the grounds of the Legion, a green wrought iron fence donated by Versitch Industries Inc. encloses the tree to provide protection. One acorn fell from it last fall.”

Chad Sugg advises: “Love the trees until their leaves fall off ~
then encourage them to try again next year.

Chinese Proverbs: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is NOW!
Keep a green tree in your heart ~ and perhaps a singing bird will come!

Wise words from Albert Einstein: Look deep into nature ~ then you will understand everything better!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 13, 2018
Comments appreciated: mbairdkerr@cogeco or inezkate@gmail.com