Thursday, June 28, 2012

Road Hazards

 Three in a Day!

We're familiar with 3,2,1 on a count-down; 1,2,3 Go!  “3 strikes you're out!”
We know of The Three Kings; 3 meals a day; and placings of 1st, 2nd, 3rd.

The numeral 3 represents that which is
solid, substantial, complete and entire.
the difference of time: past, present, future;
three persons in grammar ~ me, myself and I;
the sign of  human ability is 3-fold ~ thought, word and deed;
the 3 kingdoms of matter ~ animal,vegetable and mineral;
the doctrine of Christianity ~ The Trinity;

The number 3 is mystical and spiritual...featured in folklore ~
3 wishes, 3 guesses, 3 little pigs, 3 blind mice, 3 bears.

Good things in our lives often come in groups of three:
3 birthdays in a month, 3 wedding invitations,
3 unexpected friends who call...
and we rejoice, “How Wonderful!”

Occasionally, the occurrence of three events can be ominous...
(threatening, inauspicious and unfavourable)
e.g. deaths and funerals, accidents, rejections.
Yesterday, at a light industrial mall, I had stopped on an errand.  
Leaving from there to approach Appleby Line, I passed several vehicles  parked
along the mall entrances to its numerous businesses.  Fortunately, I observe
 “the tail lights” to ensure no driver (if at the wheel) is not going to act inadvertently
 to back up.  Yes!  A dark van on my right began his move backward...without
checking for “traffic” along the exiting drive lane.  My horn  “at ready”
warned him. Immediately, the brake lights became a vivid  red!
The driver had stopped!

Southbound on Appleby Line, and prior to my later appointment I decided to
enjoy a salad at McDonald's with a “50% off coupon”.  Suddenly, from a street
on my right, a vehicle shot in front of me (without stopping at his stop sign)
and sped into the busy four lanes.  So Unexpected!  I horned him and had to avoid a catastrophe.  The driver was unconcerned...he “beat the system”!
By now, my nerves are a bit edgy!  I did enjoy the Tuscan Salad and solving
the Soduko puzzle of today.

My appointment was near Walker's Line and New Street.  Oblivious that I was
driving on Fairview Street, I realize too late, this was not New Street.  In the
right lane, I had no choice except to go north, planning to  turn around at the
first opportunity to  head south toward my destination.  The inside lane showed
arrows for left turns...I signalled and began to initiate my turn.  Plenty of space
before the arriving southbound cars in two lanes. WOW!  Nowhere to enter!!!
Straight in front was a concrete curb and small grassy/gravelly area in front of
a fence.  CHOICE?   a) mount the curb  b) cannot turn right into oncoming
traffic  c)  a quick check advised that my only choice was a U-turn...with
sufficient space to do so!  Within a few seconds, a dark coloured SUV was
on my tail!  Horn blasting!  She passed on my left, then immediately drove
in front of my car in my lane and stopped pronto!  Leaving her driver's side
door totally open (which could be hit by cars in the next lane), she marched
with determination to my side window. She yelled and screamed at me with
voice and fists.  Calmly, I observed this 35-40 year old woman dressed in
black pants and shirt as she ranted at my window.  “I'm sorry,” I stated.
She shouted, “You almost killed me!!!”  With my window still up...and
receiving no further responses from me...noticing the line of traffic behind
me waiting to exit to Fairview Street, she doggedly returned to her
open-door vehicle! But she wasn't through yet!  With her digital camera 
(perhaps her cell tel.) she continued to hold up traffic while she photoed
my front licence plate, then photoed me through the windshield...I was
wearing sunglasses. Then a few more unsavoury words...she issued!

My question”?  Why was she so threateningly close to my rear bumper?
She had to be speeding and not looking...the only possible explanation!
Three in One Three Too Many!
Thrice Hazardous!

“Road Rage” is a term that has become popular
to describe anyone's hostile reactions when driving
that is directed toward the other driver(s).
It occurs with all ages and genders.

Advice:  Refuse to allow the driver(s) you do not know
and will never see dictate your mood and determine
the quality of your day. The angry or stressed-out driver
is a potentially dangerous driver.

If she had observed what my driving dilemma was, she may have been more
considerate. She was...speeding, I suspect...and totally unaware of another
driver's predicament.

Was I upset?  No.  I remained calm while she ranted and raged.
To confront her would be “adding to her fire”.
I only spoke two words.

Gary Magwood, a driving educator and trainer, states:
I receive letters and e-mails complaining about  the behaviour and attitudes
of their fellow motorists.  “Damn tailgaters, left-lane pains, speeders, red-light
runners, SUV's, transports, cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, minivans, cell-
telephone users and coffee drinkers. May I humbly suggest that we all are
“guilty” of making mistakes behind the wheel. Concentrating on the driving
task requires constant monitoring.

We also get distracted  by what other drivers are doing  or not doing. 
Not only do we get distracted, we get frustrated  and then angry because
we consider their behaviour to be anything among...inappropriate, dangerous,
stupid, threatening or impolite.  Learning to apply the appropriate  pressure
is a combination of ...observation, education and hands-on-training. 
The amount of pressure is contingent on how we use our eyes...
foreseeing a problem!

Concentrating and focusing on the driving task is even more important
than in the past.  Speeds, multi-lane highways, traffic density and our
hopped-up-lives create a very stressful driving environment.

In the Hamilton Spectator, dated June 28, 2012, was this caption:
Infuriated driver who endangered bicyclists is fined for
“stupid two minutes” of road rage." 

A Driving Lesson from my Dad

In my teen years, this important lesson I learned!  The QEW (long before most
of you will remember) was a beautifully boulevarded highway...grassy, treed
and tall lights between the eastward and westward routes...each 2 lanes to and
from Toronto. In passing a vehicle on its left, my Dad always watched the
driver's front left wheel to ensure  he was not diverting into my father's lane.
We were driving to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) one August Day. 
The ahead car, not noticing our car on his left, began to merge into our lane. 
Dad honked the horn (which the driver ignored) avoid collision, my father
had to turn into the boulevard area ...safely...before returning to the drive lane.
To this day, I've adopted his good habit.

“Pearl of Wisdom”
You're never too old to Learn.
You're never too old to Teach.
You should never be too old to Listen!

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written June 15, 2011
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mourning Dove Family III (Part 4)

Progression to Flight Day

                                             Monday, June 18, 2012
                                             Alice and Eddie...eight and nine days old;
                                             so quickly they've grown, hard to believe.
                                             Afternoon terrible clatter of branches being buzzed,
                                             then placed in a mulcher to be noisily disposed!!!
                                             Albert remains...with no effort to leave ~
                                             their babes, above all, must be safely protected.

                                            Victoria arrives and on the railing she waits;
                                             in about three minutes, she jumps to the chair.
                                             Albert tells of the noise as they silently chatter.
                                             He steps from the nest...and side by side,
                                             I see fledgling-sized birds who've grown so much.
                                             “Conversation” extends to four or five minutes.
                                             Albert swoops off…Alice and Eddie need food!
                                             Victoria feeds them...standing outside the nest.

                                             The parents, I've noticed give squabs independence,
                                             for two or three hours...leaving them alone.
                                             The sun bathes the balcony late afternoon
                                             and with tropical breezes, ever so warm.

                                             Maturing, they are, flexing wide-spread wings
                                             with many black speckles and white-tipped tails.
                                             They are beautiful, little adults..a delight to see!
                                             With parents away, Alice and Eddie, I photo.

                                             It's been a hot, humid day...for the birds and me.
                                             At 6:30 pm, Victoria flutters to the nest.
                                             She physically pumps regurgitated food
                                             to voraciously feed these wide-opened mouths.
                                             All are now happy...she rests with her birdies.

                                             Wednesday, June 20
                                             Fresh air and warm breeze ~ Alice and Eddie so restless!
                                             No parent in sight and to my surprise ~
                                             one fledgling in the nest...the other on the seat.
                                             They sit  side by side, facing opposite directions
                                             with bodies touching, nest twigs between feet.
                                             Albert swoops to the rear railing late morning,
                                             then jumps to the nest, thrustingly feeds.
                                             They're 2/3 his size, almost fully developed.
                                             It's possible this weekend, they'll all be flying.
                                                           And now the scene changes ~
                                             Albert covers the nest with his long sleek body;
                                            his tail feathers protruding through wrought iron spaces.
                                            Alice and Eddie...both outside the  flat twiggy nest...
                                            standing together in opposite directions
                                            busy preening feathers, flexing beautiful wings. 

                                            At one pm, my son telephoned...
                                            must leave on an out-of-town errand.,
                                            not returning  until after ten pm.
                                            I checked “my lovely family” and there is a parent
                                           who'll protect them through night, until the sun rises.

                                            Thursday, June 21
                                            'twill be a hot, humid day; my shade balcony invites;
                                            with vanilla coffee and jammed toast in hand
                                            I join my active doves as they restlessly behave.
                                           WOW!  They're busy!  Victoria's harassed
                                            to feed anxious “kids” with wings all-a-flutter.
                                            She pumps nourishing food into .ravishing mouths.
                                            They  groom excessively their tawny brown feathers;
                                            then the “kids” open wings, flapping 4 inch spreads.
                                            They're energy-loaded; after strenuous “workout”.
                                            Victoria is tired...and the fledglings near exhaustion.
                                            She stands at nest's edge with pointed tail through spaces.
                                            Eddie and Alice are the nest.
                                            Fifteen minutes later, she graciously swoops
                                            away from her home and into blue sky.
                                            My “twin darlings” sit pertly with puffed out chests;
                                            they're very alert and ready to …... what?

                                            Many round charcoal pebbles...I see                         
                                            beneath the chair seat on the concrete floor;
                                            it's excrement from the babies
                                            (who've nowhere to “go”, til time to fly).
                                            None of this occurs before the eggs hatch.

                                            Albert skillfully flies in at12:35,
                                            stands outside the nest...then sits;
                                            with strong thrusting thrusts into depths of mouths;
                                            admonishes, “Settle down!  Be less rambunctious!”
                                            Dad finally rests on the flattened twiggy nest
                                            with the birdies outside on the wrought iron seat.
                                            One “eyes and studies” the arm of the chair
                                            and contemplates.. just what he can do.
                                            Alice and Eddie “bill” busily their feathers
                                            (almost a fetish...for what this precludes),
                                            while nonchalantly sits Dad serenely at nest.

                                             I  heard him “twitter, twitter” into the trees;
                                             the wrought iron seat , where they're now perched
                                             against the arm, seems comfortable to them.
                                             The high temperature sun is beating down on them ~
                                             a bird bath, I wish, I could give to them.

                                             The sky darkened and the winds blew hard;
                                             Thunder was prevalent, as yet no lightning.
                                             As the temperature dropped, light rain came down.
                                             Alice and Eddie nestled close together;
                                             their feathers ruffled before the pending storm

                                              One hour later, the winds ceased to gale;
                                              the smokey gray clouds quickly scudding east..
                                              The sun, golden rimmed some new-found clouds
                                              and birds in the trees sing their evening songs.

                                               Friday, June 22
                                               A gorgeous sunny day, no evidence of rain;
                                               cooler air and a fresh lake breeze.
                                               Three on the nest ...that's been worn very flat;
                                               Alice and Eddie...exercise their wings.

                                               Returned from the Common Room...a Big Surprise!
                                               Saw my nuisance black squirrel with large bushy tail
                                               scoot along the investigative search!
                                               I feared for my birdies...he must do them no harm!
                                               Persistently I scared him...he scrambled down the wall
                                               that's three storeys high…hope he doesn't return!
                                               Victoria steps out to rest on the chair,
                                               crouched on  pinkish red feet...she muses..
                                               Several moments pass by, she checks at the nest.
                                               “Twitters” usual message and soars to high wires.

                                                Saturday, June 23 – is this “Flight Day?”
                                                Three huddled on the nest, this coolish morn
                                                while the birds serenade among leafy trees.
                                                The three resettle at 9:20 am
                                                ('tis Eddie who sits on the seat of the chair).
                                                 Albert "twitters in" twenty minutes later.
                                                 My birdies are alert, both standing on nest.
                                                 Lovely Victoria gracefully arrives.
                                                 Alice and Eddie flutter their wings...
                                                 she waits a moment ..and .energizingly feeds.
                                                 They pester dear “Mom”...more attention they want
                                                 She  ignores her birdies...telling them to stop!

                                                  Between parents and squabs, no word is spoken.
                                                  Body language tells all as the message is given.
                                                  “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter,” the parents announce
                                                   upon arrivals and departures from nest.

                                                   It's 11am and I've a game online ~
                                                   playing bridge with Renda who in Oregon lives.
                                                   Heard a few “twitters” and when “dummy”, I checked
                                                   ...only Alice and parent in sight.
                                                   Perhaps the “twitters” were invites “to fly”
                                                   while they waited in the trees for squabs to take flight.
                                                   Checking again, throughout my bridge game,
                                                    both birdies were...edgy, nervous and anxious.
                                                    They swivelled their heads from side to side
                                                    with feet all-a-jumpy for this new excursion..
                                                    Their necks are extended and beaks out straight;
                                                    wings are a-flutter as a test before flight.

                                                    My 12:30 return saw action....Alice!!!
                                                    She didn't wait...was I surprised?
                                                    She spread her tail...white feather tipped
                                                    and like a kite in the wind...she soared ~
                                                    over the railing  ~ in perfect flight form
                                                    into the trees... and never came back.

                                                     Eddie, remember, was hatched a day later.
                                                     He's completely confused about her departure.
                                                     Anxiously he looks and questions his dilemma.
                                                     ”Leaving without me,"  he sadly wonders.
                                                      He's in a quandary...about what to do!
                                                      He looks parent to advise.
                                                      He looks in the nest ...and settles therein.
                                                      His heart beat is up and he nervously sits
                                                      and hopes this predicament soon will be solved.
                                                      He stares up...surveys possibilities
                                                      then settles quite low for an afternoon rest.
                                                       Some cold fruit punch, I'd sure love to have;
                                                       gone for a minute...I quickly returned.
                                                       I saw him…jump to the arm, jump to the railing.
                                                      With wide-spread tail and wide-spread wings
                                                       he fluttered into space and into the trees.

                                                         Bon Voyage … my fine feathered Friends!

Truly, I am so honoured and blessed that three Mourning Dove Families
have given me valuable experiences in studying the lives of these birds ...
whose lifestyles parallel those of humans in so many ways.
(Read “Nuisance to Miracle” Part IV....posted August 2011; at the end
is a great comparison that may interest you).  Fortunately I've had the time
to follow and pursue the daily activities over a 4-week period from the
laying of eggs to hatching, to raising their squabs to fledglings enabling them
to fly in 14 or15 days.
            It  is unique to know that all families and children differ.
            No announcement to other doves about the birth of first hatching (Family I)
            Parents had no visible attendance on “flight day” in Family 3.
            Both the children of Family 3 showed quick maturity of development.
            In lieu of 12 hour shift changes, today's family had 5-6 hour shifts.

“Pearl of Wisdom”
Carolyn Gordon, novelist and literary critic
who died in 1981 said,
A well composed book is a magic carpet on which we are walked
to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.

Thank you  Papa and Rosie, Carlo and Bella, Albert and Victoria
for giving me this “carpet to walk upon.”

Merle Baird-Kerr … written June 23, 2012
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Did You Know This ... About Canada?

 Canada is a vast country of lakes, rivers...prairies and mountains...
extending from the Atlantic to Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
Trains can travel visitors from Halifax, Nova Scotia through
eight immense provinces to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The landscape is diverse...the scenery superb:
 rolling countryside, cities and towns, the Great Lakes
to the expansive Canadian Shield, the northern forests,
sprawling prairie lands and through the spectacular Rocky  Mountains!

The Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways
are Canada's largest railways...with other smaller ones,
connecting rail lines, operating regionally.

Of Interest:  a few observations penned from a traveller
 aboard a Via excursion...

Via Rail's signature Train ... “The Canadian”
There are no billboards, fast food joints or railway trash
to clutter the view!
Just a rolling panorama of wilderness
with two glossy rails  pointing forward!

“The Mountaineer” route carries travellers
from Banff, Alberta through the Rockies to Vancouver.

Riding  Mountain National Park

Did you know that during the Second World War, Riding National Park in
Manitoba was an important site in helping with the growing fuel shortage? 
While rural communities weregiven access  to the Park to cut wood,
Riding Mountain National Park was also host to German prisoners who cut wood
for urban cities like Winnipeg. With the absence of the  Canadian labour force
during the War, the prisoners filled that gap...and being in the middle of Canada
in a remote location, there was little worry they would enclosing
walls and fences were built.  Since it was a minimum security camp, prisoners
often slipped into nearby communities...rumour has it that some attended a dance. 
They also organized a choir for themselves, created some impressive wood
carvings and raised pigs.
                                                   The prisoners were released in 1945.

River Journeys

Did you know that a team of 6 paddlers, led by University hydrology student,
Ross Phillips, has received a $25,000 Expedition of the Year grant awarded by
 the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and financed by the RBC  Blue Water
Project?  The Cross Canada Canoe Odyssey crew left Vancouver in April on a
165-day, 7,000 k trek to Saint John, New Brunswick to raise public awareness
of the importance of Canada's fresh water resources.

The Society is also supporting 2 expeditions along remote rivers this summer. 
Biologist Benjamin Dy of Rimouski, Quebec and expedition partner Simon
Barbarit will photograph and film the Koroc River that flows from the Torngat
Mountains to Ungava Bay.  The head water of this riveris in Labrador (Newfoundland).

Adam Shoults of Fenwick, Ontario and Wesley Crowe of Ridgeville, Ontario
 will embark on  the  the first-known exploration of a 165 k nameless river in the
Hudson Bay Lowlands of Northern Ontario

(The deadline to apply for a Society Expedition Services Grant
 for next year is March 15,2012.
For more information, go to

Canada's Highest Mountain Peak

Did you know that reigning over the expanse of rock and ice in Yukon's
southwestern corner is Mount  Logan...whose girth gives it the distinction of
 being the world's most massive mountain at 5,959 m...Canada's highest  Peak? 
Long the quarry of the world's mountaineering elite, Logan awes over the most
accomplished climbers.  It towers over Kluane National Park, eight/tenths of
 which is entombed in ice!  The remainder is a mountainous fringe penetrated
by glaciers and littered with moraines and braided milky rivers.

Mount Vancouver, a 4,800 m peak straddling the Yukon-Alaska border
 is one of 20 summits higher than 4,200 metres in the St. Elias Mountains...
one of the planet's most extreme environments.

Where the Wild Things Are

Did you know that just over two decades ago, Ian and Karen McAllister sailed
 into the little-known fiords of British Columbia's central coast and began
documenting what they found:  dolphins, sea otters, mist-shrouded forests,
salmon-choked rivers and grizzly bears feeding beneath thousand-foot waterfalls
and granite cliffs.  Before the couple's arrival, only a select group of loggers,
 fishermen, adventurers and  members of the First Nation knew much about
the region. The McAllisters changed that with their first book ...
”The Great Bear Rain Forest” published in 1997.  Full of stunning photographs
and compelling stories, it helped spark a conservation campaign of international effect that culminated in in 2006 with the protection from logging
of two million hectares in the world's largest tract of intact temperate rain forest...
an area about the size of Belize.

Their home is situated on a small island in the middle of nowhere, yet a constant
flurry of media interviews, photo shots, fund-raising deadlines, film crews and
scientists rendered the  place anything but tranquil.  Since then, Ian McAllister
has published books focusing his talents on the region's elusive and genetically
 unique wolves.

The McAllisters have never stopped exploring and advocating for this unique
corner of our much so, that Time magazine named the couple
”Leaders of the 21st Century”!

(the foregoing are excerpts from an article by  Karsten Heuer)

Note:  Ive been fortunate to have seen a couple of their  outstanding documentaries.

One Story, One Song

Did you know that walking through Calgarys foothills, Richard Wagamese
and his friend, Ojibwa elder, Jack Kakakaway, scout for sweetgrass? 
They walk in silence.  Kakakaway believes... this is the best way to hear the land
speaking to you. When an eagle soars overhead, Wagamese breaks the silence
by commenting with admiration on the bird's gracefulness.
“You only admire the display,” says Kakakaway. 
“The important thing is how the eagle learned to do that.”

Wagamese's second book...One Story, One a collection of personal
scenes and life lessons from the award-winning Ojibway writer. He discusses
how hard it was being raised outside his own culture...he was placed in a foster
home as a toddler.  He has now gained wisdom and peace by rediscovering his roots.

One Story, One Song...embodies his belief that only by sharing our stories and
 being strong enough to take risks, will we be able to understand one another. 
“We even have something in common with the eagle,” he admits in the Calgary foothills. 
“To become graceful, it needed faith
to make that first frightening jump from the nest.”

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written November 17, 2011
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Canadian Pride


Recently I read this article by Cavelle Natasha Layes
whose sentiments about Canada I proudly endorse.
It is my pleasure to share this with you.

Many people truly believe that Canadians  have no pride in their country.
I have had many people tell me this over the years and it really does baffle me.
I love my country dearly; I love what it represents; I love its natural beauty
and I love the people.

Every country celebrates their “pride” in different ways and Canada is no
exception. We may not put down other countries to make ours seem more
 powerful, or to have an “in your face attitude”  about it...and we don't really
shout out our National colours through song, but we certainly DO have pride. 
We just  celebrate in our own way.

You see, Canadian Pride has a totally different definition for us..
.a complete new meaning.  Canadian Pride isn't how someone waves a flag
or how loud they shout the national anthem; it's not even the person who has
a maple leaf painted on his (her) face. 
                              Canadian Pride is an emotion...not an action!

A perfect example of this is the 2010Vancouver event where
Canadians everywhere flooded the streets, pubs and even local halls to watch
and support our athletes.  We cheered them on ...wanting so badly for them
to win.  Not because we wanted to be better than the other countries but
because though for most of us...Alex or Ashleigh or even Jon were total
strangers, it still felt as if it was our brother, daughter and even best friend
that was standing up there on the podium.  You see that is what it means
to be Canadian...none of us are strangers...we are all family...from coast
to coast.  That is Canadian Pride!

We didn't celebrate the defeat of others...we celebrated the win of our
brother and through some sacred bond, it felt as if it were our win as well.
We may not be loud, but our hearts speak louder than words ever could
and when each of our athletes passed through the finish line or when
Crosby got that final goal, we didn't shout it in people's faces...we didn't
make a point to say we were better than anyone...instead millions of 
people across the country began to sing “Oh Canada” because at that
moment, there were no other words that could describe the pride
that we had for our country...and because it came from the heart.

This is  Canadian Pride!  It is an emotion.  It is that warm feeling that
bursts our of you.  It is something that is felt deep inside our very souls.
It's not something that can be forced upon anyone or expressed through
the waving of a flag.  It doesn't come through in how loud we sing
“Oh Canada,..but how we sing it.  Though others may not understand this,
they may view it as a weakness or a sign that we are not patriotic. 
This is only their belief! 
We will not conform to the ways of other countries
because we do not need to prove the  love for our country.
We do not need to think we are better than anyone to know that we are great.

We do not need to follow in the footsteps of other countries because that is not
what it means to be Canadian!  We will continue to express our pride in our
own way.  We will keep the humble beaver as our symbol, because though we
may be quiet...and we may not have the teeth or claws of  a tiger or a lion...
We are still powerful!   We are strong!  We are Canadian...and above all...
We are Proud!

“Pearl of Wisdom”
Don't follow where the path may lead ~
go instead where there is no path.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written June 15, 2012
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