Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Autumn Benefits

There is harmony in autumn and a lustre in the sky,
which through the summer is not heard or seen.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)

Autumn or fall is a beautiful season: the tree's foliage shifts from green to shades of yellow, red and brown. And their fall to the ground form the most beautiful carpets. Many have written about the beauty of the season, but it's not just humans who love the autumn. Dogs laughingly play and sit and roll in the leaves. Lion cub with leaves on his head, reclines in his leafy blanket. Cat looks up into the sky as leaves land on his nose and ears. Little squirrel peers out from a wooden basket that blends with the fallen leaves. White puppy gleefully runs across the grass with brown-leafy-coverage.
(Author unknown)

Come Little Leaves
by George Cooper...submitted to me by Rosemarie

Come little leaves,” said the wind one day;
Come over the meadows with me and play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold.
Summer is gone and the days grow old.”

Soon as the leaves heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came, flitting one and all.
Over the meadow they danced and flew
Singing the soft little songs they knew.

Dancing and flying, the little leaves went;
Winter had called them and they were content.
Soon fast asleep in their earthly beds,
The snow laid a soft mantel over their heads.

An American poet, remembered chiefly for his song lyrics ~
many set to music by Stephen Foster.
He translated the lyrics of German, Roman, Italian, Spanish and French musical works
into singable English.

Fall is a spiritual season. Part of the tree dies in order to generate a more healthy version of itself for later in its life. We are observers of divine healing. (Anonymous)

Riddance of Evasive Plants ~ Fall of 2015
(Written by Richard Leitner... Hamilton Community News)

At-Risk Bobolinks Taking to Grass at Former Dump Site
The city built it and they came.
The former Upper Ottawa Street municipal dump is finding new life as a nesting spot for bobolinks after being seeded with prairie grasses, the threatened songbirds need to breed. Cynthia Graham, manager of the city's architectural landscape services, said an ecologist hired to monitor the impact of the new vegetation this summer, observed several bobolinks, including one breeding pair.”
That was pretty exciting for us,” Graham said, “It's hard to know
just how many pairs are there because they are elusive birds.
Sometimes, it's just a matter of whether you are there at the right time.”

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, bobolinks were added to the' Species At Risk Act' in Ontario List in 2010 because they could become endangered if no action is taken to protect their dwindling habitat.
Males are black with a white back and yellow collar
during the summer breeding season...but lose that plumage in the fall
when they more resemble the females which are tan with black stripes.

Work began in the fall of 2015 to remove invasive plants like the Manitoba Maple, Russian Olive and Buckhorn from the16-hectare dump's top and southern slopes to make way for the native grasses the ground-nesting birds favour.”

Graham said the city is required to monitor progress yearly for the next 3 years and then at regular intervals for the following 15 to ensure the habitat remains suitable. This includes ensuring invasive plants...and especially trees, don't once again take root in this grassland area.
Trees can start to grow and establish...
and those are considered barriers for bobolinks
because raptors, birds of prey on other birds,
sit on top of them,” she said.
Even erosion or anything like that can happen to a site
if you just walk away from it.”

Fall has always been my favourite season.
The time when everything bursts with its last beauty,
as if Nature had been saving up all year
for the grand finale.
(Lauren DeStepho, Wither)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 13, 2017
Comments appreciated: or

Friday, October 13, 2017

Trees ~ So Stalwart!

Writers have written:
Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
All our wisdom is stored in trees.”
Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.”
In a forest of 100,000 trees, no two leaves are alike.”
In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect;
trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways...and they're still beautiful.”

Martin Luther: God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on the trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
Khalil Gibran: If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
Warren Buffet: Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

Under trees, the urban dweller might restore his troubled soul
and find the blessing of a creative pause.” (Walter Gropius)

Jane Goodall: Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangatans have been living for hundreds and thousands of years in their forest, living fantastic lives, never over-populating, never destroying their forest. I would say that they have been more resourceful than us as far as being in harmony with the environment.
It is easier to FEEL than to realize or in any way to explain
Yosemite grandeur! The magnitude of rocks, trees, streams and waterfalls
are so delicately harmonized, they are almost hidden.” (John Muir)

Modern Day Message: Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees...then names the streets after them. (Bill Vaughan)

My interest to write this article was piqued by a recent “Rhymes With Orangecartoon showing 9 or 10 weeping willows in a small woodlot ~ very graceful long branches arching toward the ground. The beginning small box entry to the cartoon shows a miniature 'weeping willow' saying to himself, “I weep for affection!” A man walking into the cluster of weeping willows and after reading the sign, goes and hugs the first willow he sees, placing his arms securely around the trunk...and suddenly, all the tree's branches rise to point skyward with “happy-tree-smile faces”. Another man seeing this 'miracle' notes and remarks, “That's Cool! And now we need to hug all the weeping willows!”
(Of interest: The 'weeping willow tree' has a lifespan of about 50 years).

 Raindrops that are falling to the ground
 from the drooping branches resemble 'tears'.
 (Their elongated leaves are green on the upper side
 and white on the bottom side.)

The Greening of Hamilton Will Make Us All Feel Better!
(Excerpts from an article by Carmela Fragomeni)
TREES HAVE BEEN CALLED the lungs of the earth for purifying the air. They are said to reduce flooding and erosion. They improve water quality and provide habitats for wildlife...and for humans, they enhance good mental health. Cathy Plosz, natural heritage planner with the city stated, “A lot of studies show people feel better if they are looking at trees.” So Hamilton is about to embark on forming an ambitious strategy to increase Hamilton's urban tree canopy from less than 18% to 30%.
Plosz said Hamilton is uniquely lucky to have those forests...
and tree enthusiasts and environmentalists couldn't be happier
with the prospect of an urban forest strategy.
Jenn Baker with the Hamilton Naturalists Club, said, “We're one of the last municipalities in southern Ontario to have one.” (Currently, there are about 400,000 trees within the city road allowance...and an estimated 150,000 in city parks and cemeteries.)

Coming to Canada: A few years ago, a couple left their homeland in Argentina to locate a place to live in Burlington and begin businesses from their university skills. I assisted their accommodation to an apartment downtown for convenience to walk, shop or bus and to enjoy Spencer Smith Park and Lake Ontario's waterfront.

Their 4thfloor apartment faced north; and delighted they were with the superb balcony view:
On the horizon, is the bluish escarpment line and; what is special to us both is the canopy of trees totally covering the downtown residential a treed blanket covering all below!" 
The Trees in Burlington Invited Me to Come,”...says a resident in a Senior's complex. He had worked and lived in several areas throughout Ontario. After retirement he sought a place that was 'high on nature' and discovered Burlington for its trees, trees, trees! A street near his current home is mostly tree-lined with branches forming an overhead leafy covered arbour from spring to late autumn under which to walk, bike or drive. “In autumn, when the trees are colourfully dressed, the experience is that of a sunburst rainbow of many hues!' he said.

Ten Most Beautiful Forests in the World
Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan: a magnificent forest west of Tokyo.
Giant Sequaia National Monument, California, U.S. located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Redwood National Park, California, U.S. These trees are the most massive tree species on earth.
Black Forest, Germany: in a wooded mountain range bordered by the Rhine Valley. The name was given by the Romans who referred to the forest blocking out most of the sunlight.

Crooked Forest, Poland: oddly shaped pine trees, first planted in 1930 with about 400 pines.
Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China: Its Valley of Villages is noted for its many-level waterfalls.
Montiverde Cloud Forest Resrve, Costa Rica: Consists of over 2500 plant species, including orchids.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia: Probably the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet.
Amazon Rainforest, South America located within 9 nations (60% of it in Brazil).
Olympic National Forest, Washington, U.S. It is the wettest place in continental United States.

Prediction by Enos Abijah Mills
The forests are 'the flags of Nature.' They appeal to all generations, inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest...and the borders of nations are forgotten. It may be that sometime an immortal pine will be the flag of a united peaceful world!”
Look deep into Nature and then you will understand
everything better. (Albert Einstein)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 4, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wounded Were "Wound Up" to Play!

The Invictus Games ~ the 'brainchild' of Prince Harry,
began in England in 2014; the second edition was in Orlando, Florida in 2016.
And Toronto wonderfully hosted the 2017 Invictus Games
from September 23 to September 30.
Invictus...a Latin word, means 'Unconquered'!

The event was an amazing success: Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, held at the Air Canada Centre, were the largest in attendance since the Games' inception...over 550 athletes participated in the 12 sports (90 of them Canadian)...all having suffered physically and/or mentally. They came from 17 were completely sold out for all games. As they entered the ACC, each country proudly carried their representative flags...Veterans, broken in combat, some in wheelchairs, others with canes, some limping and others with artificial limbs. Speeches were crisp and inspiring for all.
Signs around the Centre carried a message ~
I Am ~taking the 2nd I in Invictus and the AM from Games!

Invictus Games Showcase High-Tech Prosthetics
The Invictus Games are not only focusing attention on military veterans and the life-altering injuries they have suffered, but the event is shining a spotlight on some cutting-edge technology that allows them to compete and go forward with their everyday lives. From bionic prosthetics to “smart” braces that return mobility to those who have lost a limb or injured their spine, there has been an explosion of innovative assistive devices aimed at improving the lives of both soldiers injured in combat or training accidents and civilians who become disabled through trauma or disease.

Retired master corporal Mike (Michael) Trauner is among those being helped in the rehab devices field. In his case, an 'intelligent' lower limb prosthetic that uses high-tech sensors, anticipate and help him execute his movements. In December 2008, he was part of a 200-man-foot patrol in Afghanistan, when he was caught in a blast from a remote-controlled IED that blew off parts of both legs, shattered the bones in his left arm and hand and sent shrapnel rocketing into his eyes. “In an instant, my life was irrevocably altered ,” said the 19-year veteran, a member of the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, Canadian Light Infantry. “When I got injured, everything's taken away... from walking to standing to running to sitting,” said Trauner, 38 of Pembroke, Ontario. He and his wife had to move to a 'wheelchair-friendly' home and traded his vehicle for one that was wheelchair accessible and operated with hand controls. But the form of prosthetics made by a German-based company Ottobock, has given him back his life.Trauner wears an Ottobock X3 prosthetic on his left residual limb, which was amputated above the knee, that contains a micropressor that mimics the movement of the missing joint. “I'm walking and it thinks as I'm walking. It's almost like it's artificial intelligence. It knows what I'm doing all the it makes it very safe to walk.”

For his right leg, which was amputated below the knee, he dons an Ottobock Harmony prosthetic that doesn't incorporate a microprocessor, as he's able to bend the knee naturally. In all, the devices set him back more than $30,000...but their benefits are priceless.
They gave me the ability to basically be human again,” said Trauner
who competed this week at the Invictus Games, coming fifth in hand-cycling
and taking double-gold in stationary rowing, both sports performed without his prosthetics.

Liz Steeves, 32, is another Invictus Games participant who is benefitting from advances in the rehab devices field, in her case a motorized “dermoskeleton ”that straps on her leg and allows her to engage
in everyday activities. In 2010 as a mobile support equipment operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Steeves was injured ~ she fell almost four metres, headfirst off a wall during a training exercise and crushed a few vertebrae in her upper spine and broke another in her lower back. Her mobility grew worse and later she was diagnosed with a crushed kneecap. Steeves, who lives in Sooke, B.C. was medically released from the RCAF last year because of her injuries. But that all changed when her leg was fitted with a Keeogo, a $50,000 device made by B-TEMIA in. In Quebec...which uses sensors at the knee and hip joints to detect movement the person wants to make, then provides the assistance needed to execute the motion. “The Keeogo allows me to have more of a life,” she said, adding that when her submariner engineering husband goes to sea, I can go out and cut the lawn and I don't have to worry about falling over,”said Steeves who was competing this week in wheelchair tennis.
There's no real limitations.
If you basically dream it, you can at least attempt it.
You may not be able to do it...but at least you tried!”

For Natacha, Invictus Means Much MoreThan a Medal!
Natacha Dupuis's return to sports started with a mountain bike. The former master corporal served several Canadian Forces regiments, including the Royal Canadian Dragoons, for over 16 years. She did a tour in Bosnia and two in Aghanistan ~ the last which saw her witness the deaths of two comrades. Her diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) came after her return home. And her symptoms didn't just include psychological difficulties ~ she was in physical pain ,too. Dupuis said she'd always been athletic, but found herself gaining weight.

So, “Soldier On” a Canadian Forces program to help rehabilitate injured veterans, gave her a mountain bike ~ a gift that Dupuis said started her road to recovery. “Mountain biking was part of my journey,” said the Gatineau, Quebec resident. Three years after she left the miltary, Dupuis is one of Team Canada's co-captains at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
Dupuis was part of Team Canada in Orlando last year.
She ran ~ and won gold ~ in both the 100-metre and 200-metre dash,
and picked up a bronze in powerlifting.

Invictus Games Turned Injured War Veteran's Life Around
When Skelly Scanlan first signed up for the Invictus Games ~ after serving in Afghanistan ~ she didn't realize the sporting event for wounded soldiers would pull her out of years of physical and mental injuries. Scanlon first joined the Canadian Forces at age of 16, to train for deployment to Afghanistan at 18. During her training ,she suffered her first injury, a completely torn ligament in her leg.She decided to push through the pain and deploy anyway, and at age 19 she left to spend 8 months on tour as an infantry soldier in Afghanistan.
I stopped going to doctors because none of them seemed to have an answer for me,”
said Scanlon. “I figured this was just how it was going to powered through!.”
But, when she returned home, the injury had worsened. Because the tear changed how Scanlan moved entirely, it shifted the entire right side of her body. She had trouble using stairs and was less active. Doctors told her she might never fully recover. It was about then, the Mental effects of her situation started piling up. “It was a day here or there, then it became a week, and then it became months at a time... then she was diagnosed with PTSD injury and depression a year after returning home.
Around that time, Scanlon said she briefly cycled with Wounded Warriors,
a national charity supporting soldiers and noticed an improvement
in her condition when she trained.
The 'Big Change' came when another wounded veteran convinced her to sign up for the Invictus Games in Toronto. He stated, “After you sign up...and there's going to be a lot of people watching, you don't want to disappoint your community and country!”
Through training, the pain I was in was significantly reduced.
I was sleeping better, I was feeling better and less anxious about things,” she said
And my life took a complete turn for the better!”
Almost 7 years after returning from Afghanistan injured, Kelly said her life is proof that the battle to compete in Invictus Games can change lives. Although told by her doctor she'd never wear a uniform again, this summer she was hired as a new recruit at her local fire department!
(The foregoing are excerpts from The Canadian Press)

Lincoln an Invictus Games Competitor
Sergeant (Retired) Tyron Lincoln of Burlington, Ontario, is one of 90 Canadians participating in the 2017 Invictus Games. He was a Geomatics Technician with the Canadian Army and is competing in track and field, cycling and wheelchair rugby. Lincoln is one of 13 member of the Canadian Military Engineers Association competing in Toronto. He credits his grandmother as his inspiration. “She was my mother and father who shaped me into the determined man I am today,” he said. A photo in The Burlington Post shows him wheelchair-practising his prowess in preparation for the Games.

Next Year's Invictus Games are Scheduled for Sydney, Australia.
And as Prince Harry said to all the competitors,
See You All There...and More!”

I think the INVICTUS GAMES is something the world needs to know about ~
what it does for the competitor,
what it does for the families,
what it does for the wounded warriors and their support system,
which is nothing short of phenomenal.
Now people need to know about it.” (John Cena)

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 2, 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

Las Vegas Ignites My Ire!!!

In my writings, seldom do I comment or address
anything political or religious since they are often sensitive issues.
Hence, the recent asinine and insane killings in Las Vegas
ignited my ire...and possibly yours, also.

The Opinion Page of The Hamilton Spectator's October 4th issue, printed an editorial that appeared in The San Jose Mercury News ~ which I share with you. I am also aware that all details are often omitted in press releases whether in newspapers, television, reporting and newscasts.

What Trump Didn't Say About Las Vegas
Is that the best you can do, Mr. President? Hours after the nation's worst mass shooting in modern history, Donald Trump told the nation, correctly, that the slaughter was “an act of pure evil.” But then the president suggested there's nothing to be done about mass murder on the home front by an American apparently unafilliated with foreign terrorists.

Actually, the answers begin with toughening of the nation's gun laws, starting with a reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban that was on the books for just 10 years following a 1993 massacre in the Bay Area. At 101 California Street in San Francisco, a man killed eight people and wounded six before taking his own life. It drew national attention, but by today's standards it's a common occurrence. That's how numb we've become. Even Trump back in 2000 declared support for the ban. And in 2012 he backed President Barack Obama's call for action following the killing of 20-first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School (in Connecticut).
That was before Trump declared himself a lover of the NRA
as he prepared to enter the presidential race.

Would reinstatement of the ban stop mass shootings? Of course not. But the staggering number of deaths and injuries inflicted in just minutes Sunday night reinforces the need to control proliferation of rapid-fire weaponry.

In contrast to Trump's reaction, consider Obama's words hours after the Orlando night club massacre 16 months ago. Obama called it “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theatre, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that's the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Sadly, Congress made a decision to do nothing.
And Obama's successor apparently has no inclination to do anything either.
There is still much we still don't know about the shooter's motives. But, please, spare the rhetoric that one shouldn't politicize this horrific event. If we shy from politics, Congress will never act, and there will soon be yet another mass shooting record set
Late Night Hosts Plead for Gun Control After Las Vegas Massacre
(appearing also in today's a brief)
All the late-night TV shows started out on a serious note, Monday, as the hosts addressed the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Trevor Noah and James Corden were in disbelief over American Gun culture. Conan O'Brien was devastated to realize how many times he's had to talk about mass shootings. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers urged Congress to take action on gun control.
Jimmy Fallon had Miley Cyrus and Adam Sandler
opened the show with Dido's “No Freedom”

The American Mental Health System is Broken”...
(writes Joe Carter, a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute and Communications Specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission...and a College professor of Journalism)
...but this back-door approach under the guise of preventing crime is not the way to fix it. It will only further stigmatize the mentally ill, and prevent many from getting help. America's deepest problems are not guns or mental illness. It's impossible to fix sin, evil and cultural disorder by presidential decrees. Locking up every gun in America won't make us safer.

The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favour. So Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.
Cain said to his brother Abel,“Let us go out in the field.”
When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

That same offer stands before America today. However, just as with Cain, we must rule over the darkness in our hearts. A safer, healthier, more peaceful society is not borne of misguided legislation, but deep respect for God's greatest creation: human life.

Canada was built around a very simple premise.
A promise that you can work hard...and succeed...and build a future for yourselves...
and for your children...and that future for them would be better than the one you had!”
(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 4, 2017
Comments welcome...mbairdkerr@cogeco or

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Acronym for Acorn

(Autumn Craving, Offers Reassuring News)

'Tis said, “The acorn doesn't fall far from the oak!”
True...yet it is a question of survival. Let me tell you my tale.

I'm a little acorn, green and brown;
My father is a sturdy oak, my mother is unknown.
I hope someone finds me before I hit the ground
And takes me home somewhere, to plant in their town...
So I can grow and grow and grow and grow
as tall as my Pa!

My story is akin to being 'straight out of a fairy tale'...I am told.
But, first, permit me to relate about my 'family tree':
OAKS belong to the Beech-Tree family.
OAKS, being a deciduous tree, shed all their leaves in the fall.
OAK trees can reach heights as tall as 70 feet and widths over 9 feet.
The spread of OAK branches may span between 85 and 135 feet.
OAKS begin producing seeds (called acorns) and some begin to sprout
after reaching 20 years of age like my Pa...or before age 50.
After OAKS reach 100 years, they will begin to produce
an average of 2,200 acorns yearly.

My Birth: Pistillate flowers emerge on my 'parent tree' in late April or early May (5 to 10 days after the appearance of staminate flowers.) After their pollination and fertilizer, my development began to form and allowed to mature late in August.

Dr. Oakley told my Pa, “Acorns that you produce are nothing short of 'magical'!
A small golden ball transforms into a majestic tree when you do the right 'abracadabra'! But for an acorn to survive is tough!” My Pa asked, “How does my 'seed' develop and succeed?” The Doc stated, “Acorns are small fruit from such big trees. The Parent Oak packs his pods full of everything required to sprout and grow into seedlings. Your acorns may hang on the tree until sufficiently ripe before falling to the germinate in autumn. At this time, the seed must provide its own energy for root growth, and not relying on sunshine-based photosythesis. Your healthy acorn, if he survives, contains a high percentage of carbohydrates to keep the new seedling going until the following spring.”

What are my acorns' chances of survival?” asked Pa. “Not Good!” said the Doc. It's a case of BE EATEN or BE RESCUED by a human hand desiring to plant an oak seedling in his yard or nearby park so it can mature into a healthy, sturdy oak, like yourself.” As a son to his father, “I'll remain in your sheltered Oak, Pa for as long as possible...knowing that, as you told me, the harvesting of perfect nuts for tree planting are those acorns that remain on the tree rather than be damaged on the ground or be ravaged by hungry beasties below...or raked into the human's dead leaves for disposal.”
Pa Oak agreed to my 'hanging around' and further advised,
The best time for humans to rescue acorns for tree planting
is when your colour begins changing from green to brown.”

Observations From My Mighty Oak Home: Bluejays flitted around several times...even a crow or two.
Insects sought broken acorns...wild turkeys and ruffed grouse were in the hunt...squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents were busy, busy, busy...all grabbing acorns to eat on site or ground-bury for winter snacks...often hiding them in the bark crevices of the trees where they'd winter-nest. Pa told me that deer and even black bear (in some areas) feasted on ground acorns prior to winter's snows.
Further, he told me, “Acorns are a source of food for wildlife
who treasure the content of protein in the nuts.”
It is no wonder that very few fallen acorns survive to sprout and produce a new oak tree!

Harboured in Pa's home of many branches, limbs and leaves...the magical happening occured one day! A family with son and daughter were searching in our woodland for Oak Trees. Locating their Oak of choice was Pa's...with its many 'brownish acorns'. The father sent his son to climb our tree and within his bag, he placed several 'ripe acorns'. 'TAKE ME! TAKE ME!” I called...and into his hands I went. Their home housed a large fenced yard...the man of the house and son with shovels, dug holes for the planting of 3 or 4 oaks-to-be. And the remaining gathered acorns from Pa's tree were given to neighbours for planting. I was safely protected in the warm earth...and as winter approached, covered with a soft white blanket. Now, the future of my Life was Secure and Fulfilled!
My Home, Sweet Home!

P.S. I love my family of Oaks ~ over 800 species throughout the world.
Each member has distinguishing features including: leaves of different shapes...barks of various textures...and leaves that produce different colours during autumn.

White Oak Tree with 300-Year-Old Roots Given Heritage Status
(News October 21, 2011 Burlington Post)
A White Oak in Burlington, Ontario that is at least 300 years old has been given a heritage designation by the province. The city-owned, 30 metre (100-foot) high tree has a circumference of nearly 500 metres (16.7 ft.) and is quite likely one of the oldest and largest Quercus alba specimens in Canada, according to the Burlington Historical Society. Located at Allview Avenue, a short street on the north shore of Burlington Bay, the White Oak was a benchmark for a treaty arranging the purchase from the Mississauga First Nation for the British Crown of a block of land that became the 3,450-acre parcel of land known as Brant's Block. Linda McKay from the Society stated, “It brings more history to the community and makes people more aware of the tree and its historical worth.”
A brief ceremony celebrating the Heritage Tree, commemorated it with a plaque.

The Oak Tree
Through the winds of unpredictability comes a strength
we never knew...
A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the Oak Tree's leaves away.
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
until the Oak was tired and stark.

But still the Oak Tree held its ground
while other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The Oak Tree said, “I know that you
can break each branch of mine in two,
carry every leaf away,
shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth
growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them, for you see,
they are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn't sure
of just how much I could endure.
But now, I've found, with thanks to you,
I'm stronger than I ever knew!”
(by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.)

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 25, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Did You Know? ~ Part 2

Mama always said, "Life is like a box of chocolates ~
you never know what you're gonna get"  (from Forest Gump)

There are many things we hear...gossip is something to which we may be true or false; it is for us to determine its validity. What we hear and read from the media (newspaper, television, radio, magazine, etc.) is usually the truth (and facts upon which we can assert are truthful.)
Easy it is, for people to overlook facts and points of interest...their mind-sets are grooved in channels of personal likings (certain movies, specific books, special hobbies, attending chat meetings over coffee, a walk to the local groceteria). FYI today, I list some factual information that may surprise you.

Highest Paid Stars: Here are some of the world's top-earning TV entertainers in 2017, according to Forbes Magazine. The annual earnings (in U.S. dollars) may include income from additional activities such as endorsements and merchandising. Dr. Phil McGraw ($79 million); Ellen DeGeneres ($77 million); Jerry Seinfeld ($69 million); Gordon Ramsay ($60,000); Ryan Seacrest ($58 million); Louis C.K. ($52 million); Judge Judy Sheindlin ($47 million); Kim Kardashian West ($45.5 million; Simon Cowell ($43.5 million); Steve Harvey ($42.5 million).

Painting a Bathroom Increases Your Home's Value: Colour psychology probably doesn't affect your life on a day-to-day basis ~ unless for personal desire or trying to sell your home. The colour of your walls can actually raise or lower the value of your property, a dollar amount that changes annually along with the year's colour trends. Zillow recently examined over 32,000 photos of sold homes...dissecting how certain colours impact their closing price. Keep it light. Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colours, particularly in shades of blue and pale grey, not only make a home feel larger but also to help buyers envision themselves living in the space. Painting the house's front door is inviting for future home buyers...together with a few potted flowers along the walkway to its entry.

City Rejects Developer's Appeal: Upset Scenic Drive residents complained in late March after Valery Developments Inc. cut 106 trees...a few days before the city formally denied the developer's permit request. The city had an illegal tree-cutting charge under Hamilton's woodland protection bylaw against the developer this week. The maximum fine for a first offence is $5,000 per injured tree.

Antarctica Fruitcake 'Almost Edible': (published by the New York Times News Service) In one of the most hostile regions to humankind, conservationists for the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust have unearthed an ice-covered fruitcake they believe once belonged to British explorer Robert Falcon Scott. The age of the fruit cake: 106 years old was in excellent condition...and almost edible. The cake was found in Antarctica's oldest building which was built by a Norwegian explorer's team in1899. The dessert, found wrapped in paper and in its original 'tin-plated iron alloy tin' container was made by the British biscuit company Huntley & Palmers. The fruitcake was an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions...and still a favourite item on modern-day trips to the ice.

Maybe Crocodiles are the Answer: Ruth Best's opinion was published in Readers Write of The Hamilton Spectator. “As a resident living across from Webster's Falls park, I suggested topping the fences with razor wire. Failing that, electrifying the fence could work...or if all else fails...a moat filled with circling crocodiles would be a solution!”

Beluga Whale Dies at Marineland: Marineland issued a statement Monday morning saying the whale named Gia died suddenly...and that preliminary results of a necropsy indicate the cause of death was a twisted small intestine that resulted in a fatal blockage. Gia was born at Marineland and had appeared to be healthy. The young whale will be sadly missed by everyone at Marineland.

B.C. Bans Trophy Hunting of Grizzly Bears: The British Columbia government is ending 'trophy hunting' for grizzly bears and hunting for them in the Great Bear Rainforest. There are an estimated 15,000 grizzlies in B.C...and 250 are killed by hunters every year.

Weatherman Finds Scorpion with Bananas: A weatherman says he got more than he bargained for during a recent trip to a Costco in Halifax after finding a live scorpion in a bag of bananas. Nathan Coleman, a reporter for The Weather Network, says he was unloading groceries when his 11-year-old daughter spotted something squirming in a plastic bag. He says he double-bagged the arachnid and drove to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, where it has been jarred for observation.

Rochette, Spectator's Milton in Skating Hall of Fame: Figure skater, Joannie Rochette, who captured the hearts of Canadians when she competed at the Vancouver Olympics just days after her mother's death, is headed to Skate Canada's Hall of Fame. She will be joined in the class of 2017 by The Hamilton Spectator's Steve Milton...long regarded as an international expert on figure skating and coaching several Canadian participants. He also covered this sport at the Olympic Games in Calgary, Albertville, Lillihamer, Nagano, Salt Lake City, Vancouver and Sochi.

Still the King of Kale Eaters: When it comes to chewing down kale, Gideon Oji is once again the top dog, beating back a challenge from hot-dog-eating champ Joey Chestnut. Oji gulped down 22 1/2 16-ounce bowls of the leafy green vegetable in eight minutes during Sunday's Kale Yeah! Competition at the Erie County Fair in New York. The kale was served raw with oil and vinegar. The contest is billed as 'the world's healthiest eating competition.'

Shipping News ~ Hamilton Harbour Traffic July 30 to August 5: ( Domestic 7, U.S.A. 5, Overseas 6.)
8 vessels handled bulk material related to the steel industry; 3 handled petroleum product; 3 handled agricultural product; 1 handled aggregate; 3 handled finished steel cargo. Weekly estimate 291,829 metric tons. Export 61,315...Import 230,514. The vessel Volgaborg was at Pier 12 with an import of ferro-manganese, an iron alloy used in steel production. Approximately 15,000 metric tons of ferro-ma ganese are handled through the port each shipping season. This ship sails under the Netherlands flag.

Firefighters Conduct Rope Rescue at Albion: Wednesday afternoon, the hiker injured herself on Wednesday at the bottom of Albion Falls gorge. Due to the terrain, the responders used a rope and basket to bring the woman up the side of the falls. The city has bolstered safety features at the park, including adding $75,000 worth of fencing. Bylaw officers are also handing out $130 penalties in an effort to step up enforcements. Yet, still...several ignore all the signage!

Thank You, President John Kelly: (re Trump appoints John Kelly as Chief of Staff)
Robert Miller of Hamilton responded to “Readers Write”...It has only been a few days since you 'took office' but already we see signs of normalcy and sanity returning to the White House. I hope you are able to get rid of more of those 'alligators' that have populated the Washington 'swamp'!

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 15, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Myths and Truths

Ten Things About Animals You Thought Were True:
Myth: Dogs can see only in black and white.
Truth: Dogs see other colours...but not as many as humans do.
Myth: Bulls react aggressively to the colour 'red'.
Truth: Bulls attack because of movement.
Myth: Ostriches bury their heads in the sand when they are scared.
Truth: What they actually run away!
Myth:Touching a toad, can give you warts. (as my mother told me)
Truth: Toads don't cause warts.
Myth: Chameleons always change colours to blend in with the environment.
Truth: They change colours to reflect their mood.

Myth: Though you may stomp like an elephant...
Truth: Elephants actually walk quietly.
Myth: The blue whale can swallow a car.
Truth: A grapefruit is the biggest thing this whale can swallow.
Myth: Moles are blind.
Truth: Moles can see...but their eyesight is poor.
Myth: Fish are mute.
Truth: Fish make sounds similar to the noise on a busy farm.
Myth: In winter, animals hibernate because they get cold.
Truth: They hibernate because of scarce source of food.
Several things one states are often untruths!
Be honest always, friends....not unscrupulous!


Halton Police say Case of Missing Burlington Senior is Still Open!
It's been more than 13 months since Helen Robertson went missing...
nearly four months since the last solid clue in the case...
and Halton police appear no closer to solving the mystery of the senior's disappearance.
The 79-year-old was last seen just before 1 p.m. on July 5, 2016 at her Millcroft Park Drive home.
Police have followed up more than 80 leads and possible sightings ~ stretching from Niagara Falls, the greater Hamilton area, Burlingon, Keswick and Richmond Hill,” said Det. Joe Bar of the Burlington Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Our search incident and rescue team (SIRT) has conducted extensive searches throughout the greater Burlington area...throughout Millcroft, Headon Forest, Bronte Creek and North Burlington. Our searches have had help from uniform patrol, investigative support members, the marine and canine units of Halton police...and other police agencies.
Helen Robertson had been suffering from Alheimer's
for about 3 to 4 years before her disappearance.
She and husband, Don, a retired doctor, have lived in the Millcroft community
for about 17 years.”

In April, a wallet a boy found while fishing with his father at Bronte Creek was determined to be hers. Beyond some personal effects of Ms. Robertson's found in April, our search, unfortunately, has yielded no other evidence,” Barr said.

Police in Barrie are Trying to Find Whoever Set Baby Raccoon on Fire
Jennifer Cheng, yesterday reported in The Canadian Press:
Police are looking for whoever was responsible for burning a baby raccoon...calling the treatment of the animal, senseless and an inhumane act. Barrie police said a severely injured raccoon was found in a park on Sunday afternoon. The service believed a flammable liquid had been thrown on the animal.
It is unacceptable,” Constable Sarah Bamford said on Friday.
If the person is caught, they can face criminal charges and cruelty.”
The raccoon was taken to Procy-on Wildlife Centre in Beeton after a woman found the animal. It is being treated for burns to its face, arms, belly and one side of its body; and given ointment for burns.
The raccoon was avoiding confrontation...but now holding her own.
No raccoons have had such 'dramatic' injuries.” said the veterinarian.
She reported that she has received nearly 20 emails since 11 a.m. Friday
 to notify her about donations to support the raccoon.

Mystery Solved: Foster's Odyssey Has Happy Ending
Jon Wells from The Hamilton Spectator reports: “Foster the rescue dog covered a lot of ground wandering in the Red Hill Valley...but in a sense , it's just a blip in an odyssey
that saw him travel 12,000 kilometres from Taiwan four months ago.
The black-and-white Australian cattle dog mix, who is between 2 and 3 years old, was captured at 10:30 Thursday after an exhaustive 12-day search that saw about 16 volunteers working shifts around the clock to find and secure him. The rescue team knew he had been hanging around King's Forest Golf Club in the valley, but catching him was the challenge. Two traps were set up to catch Foster...but the runaway dog ignored them when golfers offered him food and water.

Appearing hungry, having visibly lost a few pounds, he let volunteers get close and he lay down on the 16th green at the golf course, where he allowed himself to be held and petted once again.
There is a difference between smart dogs and intelligent dogs.
Smart dogs will listen to commands and respond to them.
Intelligent ones will listen to you, but think about it before they react.
In the end, a strategy of patience, giving Foster the freedom to feel safe...and come to the team on his own, paid off. One of the volunteers estimated that from interest in the search expressed on social media, perhaps 1,000 people were keeping their eyes open for the dog.”

In the dark of the evening, Foster who still had his collar around his neck,
posed for a colour photograph with 9 happy volunteers.
He's ~ he's a good dog.”
Compliments to all...especially Ken Price of Dream Team Search and Rescue!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 12, 2017