Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zen's Alphabet of Life

 Zen is the school of  Mahayana Buddhism...
an ancient and Japanese proven technique
to know yourself and manifest the True Nature
which is the “nature of enlightenment”.
Established 2,500 years ago by the historical Buddha,
Zen meditation allows you to learn about yourself
by observing your life unfolding from moment to moment
without biases.

A to Zen of Life

          Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits.

          Believe in yourself.

          Consider things from every angle.

          Don't give up and don't give in.

          Everything you're looking for lies behind the mask you wear.

          Family and Friends are hidden treasures.

          Give more than you planned to.

          Hang on to your dreams.

          If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.

          Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

          Keep trying, no matter how hard it seems.

          Love yourself.

          Make it happen.

          Never lie, deceive, steal or cheat.

          Open  your arms to “change” but don't let go of your values.
          Practice makes perfect.

          Quality, not quantity in anything you do.

          Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

          Stop procrastinating.

          Take control of your own destiny.

          Understand  yourself in order to better  understand others.

          Visualize life.

          When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

          Xcellence in all your efforts.

          You are unique...nothing can replace you.

          Zero in on your target and go for it.

Follow this “Alphabet of Wisdom”
to a Better more Satisfying Life.

Merle Baird-Kerr...composed December 13.  2012
Comments welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Forty Nine Years Later...

 Do you remember Julie Andrews
and the seven Von Trapp children from
The Sound of Music?
It won the Academy Award for the best movie of 1965
and is one of the most popular musicals ever produced!

Julie Andrews, actress and vocalist,
to commemorate her 69th birthday in October, 2012,
made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall

One of the musical numbers she performed was
“My Favourite Things” from the legendary musical.

                                          Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting;
                                          Walkers and handrails and new dental fillings;
                                          Bundles of magazines tied up in a string...
                                          These are a few of my favourite things.

                                          Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses;
                                          Polident and Fixadent and false teeth in glasses;
                                          Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings...
                                          These are a few of my favourite things.   

                                          When the pipes leak, when the bones creak,
                                          When the knees go bad...
                                          I simply remember my favourite things
                                          And then I don't feel so bad.

                                          Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions;
                                          No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions;
                                          Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring...
                                         These are a few of my favourite things.

                                         Back pains, confused brains, no need for sinnin';
                                         Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin';
                                         And we won't mention our short shrunken frames...
                                         When we remember our favourite things.

                                         When the joints ache, when the hips break,
                                         When the eyes grow dim...
                                         Then I remember the great life I've had
                                         And then I don't feel so bad.

Ms. Andrews received a standing ovation from the crowd
that lasted over four minutes...and repeated encores.

Of Interest:  At this special performance, photos were shown of the 7 Von Trapp
children; in addition were photos of these seven children as adults today.
One spectacular photo was of these adults set against the Swiss Alps.

Pearl of Wisdom
Moments of simple pleasures
are far more meaningful than all material things.
(author unknown).

Merle Baird-Kerr...written December 12, 2012
Comments appreciated...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Has America Become?

Politics is a mystery, an enigma, a governing rule.
Politics is a highly debated subject...always has been
..and forever will I foresee!
Politics is accepted by some…rejected by many,
yet, there is little that we, the common people, can do about it.
These are very challenging times!

I totally advocate Honesty
except in cases when diplomacy is called for.
(Sherryl Woods in her novel...Waking up in Charleston)

Recently, the following article was sent to me;
because I extol the views of the writer, I share them with you.


Has America become the land of the special interest and home of double standard?

Let's see:
If we lie to Congress, it's a felony and if Congress lies to us, it's just politics.
If we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black dislikes whites,
it's their 1st Amendment right.
The government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and does almost 
nothing for victims.
In public schools, you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not
use the word God in the process.
You can kill an unborn child, but it's wrong to execute a mass murderer.
We don't burn books in America...we now rewrite them.
We got rid of communism and socialized threat by renaming them progressives.
We are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem 
protecting the 38th parallel in Korea.
If you protest against President Obama's policies, you're a terrorist,
but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy,
it was your 1st Amendment right.

You can have pornography on TV or the Internet, but you better not put
a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas.
We have eliminated all criminals in America...they are now called sick people.
We can use a human fetus for medical research, but it's wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard and give it to those
who don't want to work.
We support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology.
We still  have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct..
Parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games.
The land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs.
The similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill
is that neither president did anything to help.

And how do we handle a major crisis today?
The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault
...then threatens them...passes a law...raises our taxes...tells us the
problem is they can get back to their reelection campaigns!

What has happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Ken Huber
Tawas City

As writer of this blog, I note that much is similar here in Canada.

With you I share a few other prominent people's views:

Author and Sociologist, Eric Hoffman said,
“In time of change, learners inherit the Earth
while the learned find themselves
beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.”

Herman Kahn, founder of the Hudson Institute think tank
and a well recognized strategist who died in 1983, stated,
“A surprising number of government committees will make decisions
on fundamental matters with less attention
than each individual would give to buying a suit.”

To Take the World by have to Be a Storm!

The question to ask is, "How can we better our "quality of life"
as citizens in United States and Canada...our Homelands?"

Merle Baird-Kerr...written December 14, 2012.
Comments are welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Canadian Rocky Mountains

A few weeks ago, Josseline (a Bridge Base Online Friend)
sent me...Magnifique, les Rocheuses.

This was a spectacular video of our Canadian Rockies
with her accompanying comment:
I know somebody, living in Canada
who'll be very glad to receive this video.

To her, I responded after viewing the numerous photos:

                                                          How Beautiful our Rockies!
                                                          In viewing these scenes
                                                          tears come to my eyes!
                                                          How fortunate I've been
                                                          travelling all National Parks
                                                          as this video depicts!

                                                         Come!  Travel with me
                                                         to the heights of the mountains,
                                                         to the depths of the valleys,
                                                         to rich evergreen forests,
                                                         to lakes' aqua waters and rivers,
                                                         to the tumbling cascades,
                                                         to Kootenay's hot springs
                                                         and the Columbia Icefields.

                                                        View the mountain goats ever so high,
                                                        the deer , the elk and the moose;
                                                        View the bees, the butterflies and alpine flowers
                                                        throughout the Rocky Mountains.

                                                        Yes, there are the Alps...which I have toured;
                                                         the Andes, over which I have flown;
                                                         the American Rockies through which I've driven.
                                                         But...This is My Canada
                                                         for all to enjoy!

                                                        Our Rocky Mountains
                                                        ... magnificent, mighty and mystical.
                                                        They compel us to lovingly appreciate
                                                        their unparalleled magical beauty!

We are a wide-spread country...ten Provinces and three Territories.
Our lands encompass mountain ranges, valleys and canyons, gently
rolling hills and the golden prairies; we have lakes and rivers, bays
and inlets and country streams; we have tumbling cascades and
well-renowned Niagara Falls. Three oceans border us...west, north
and east:  the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic.

The Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal in Quebec
offer ski hills may  have heard of Mont Tremblant.
I've schussed down many of these slopes on winter vacations
...superbly exhilarating, fine cuisine and freshly fallen snow.
High on my list are Mont Tremblant, Gray Rocks, Mont Ste. Anne.

From west coast to east and north to our Territories, you'll be I the following discovered information.
          British Columbia and Alberta: the Rockies are comprised
          of over 100 mountain ranges.
          Saskatchewan has a few low mountain peaks.
          Manitoba: 2 ranges
          Ontario: 4 ranges (north of Thunder Bay and Ottawa Valley)
          Quebec:  11 ranges including the Laurentians and the Torngat
          New Brunswick: 11 including the Appalachian Mountains
          which extend northward from US and Mount Christmas.
          Nova Scotia: 3 ranges including Cape Breton Highlands
          a spectacular scenic route along the Gulf of St. Lawrence
          and the Atlantic Ocean.
          Newfoundland and Labrador: 10 ranges including the Torngat
          Prince Edward Island (in the Gulf of St. Lawrence)...none
          Yukon Territory has 19 mountain ranges.
          Northwest Territories have 9.
          Nuvavut 5...2 of which are on Ellesmere Island.

Planet Earth is the only home we have
and we would be wise to take good care of it.

(Bill Sherk...retired High School Teacher
Leamington, Ontario)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written December 4, 2012
Comments appreciated...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail …

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Family Travel

Numerous incidents I've blog-written…about farm living until I was 18.
Yes...our family was together almost 24/7 (as we call it today).
     Due to daily chores, any holiday beyond a day's travel was impossible.

One extended vacation was an extreme thrill to my parents, my one-year-older
sister and me (at the time, we were 17 and 16).  It had been my father's dream
to drive to Canada's west coast.  When he sold his last farm,
his dream became reality!

He bought a new burgundy red Studebaker (you know the one with the engine
in the back and trunk in front?).  At the onset of this wondrous trip, it was the
first time I'd seen my parents truly happy:  it was a sense of freedom, a holiday
together for three weeks, and the beginning of a new career for him in the fall.

So many highlights I could write about...but just to highlight a few:

          The drive to Northern Ontario to what was then...Fort William
          and Port Arthur (now known as Thunder Bay) was most scenic;
          then the drive across the vast golden prairies toward our
          Rocky Mountains.  Vividly, I recall driving through Kicking
          Horse Pass....a gravel guard rails along the sides
          and my mother terrified to “look down” into the deep chasms!
          So exciting to reach the Pacific Ocean and to dip our feet into
          its blue waters.   The ferry to Vancouver Island...a boat holding

          The return drive through the  Northern States...their “plains”
          and on to Illinois. We attended a Chicago White Sox baseball game
          …how thrilling for my Dad and me!
          Of great pleasure to him was...airports. As we parked along
          the outer fences and for a couple hours, we watched airplanes
          descending from the skies to magnificent!  And to
          see others “take off” with accelerating speed “into the blue”
          for their destinations.

These times together as a family, were “awesome”! 
We shall always remember the camaraderie
that became “alive”...embracing our four lives
together...experiences we never before experienced.

Let's jump back a couple or more generations.
Women who married usually lacked post-secondary-education.
Their roles in life were to marry, become a mother,
support her husband's vocation and run the household efficiently.

Fortunately, for children, the family unit was usually vibrant...a parent
was available 24 hours a day to settle sibling disputes, to teach  activities
within the family environment, to establish security and stability for them
in their growing years.  The children learned good manners, they learned
to participate in household tasks, they learned respect for their parents and
relatives.  Love...was bonded and prevalent between parents and children.

Over the past couple of generations, the “cost of living” increased and
one salary became insufficient to raise a family.  Women pursued college
and university education, established themselves in business...and usually
did not marry until in their mid-20's or later.

The “family unit”, in most cases became disrupted and vastly affected:
         Young children were placed in Day Care 2 to 4 or 5 days per week.
         Parents sometimes hired  an “aux pair” or “nanny” to replace
         mother and father at home.
         Children, often had a 2-tier-system-upbringing which often
         created confusion in discipline and behavior.  Chaos often
         resulted  and the unhappiness was often carried into the classrooms.
It behooves parents in our current world to...
maintain Family Ties and to create Family Bonding.

                                                                    Today, it could be said,
               The Family who Holidays Together,
               Stays Together.

A recent article, by Lakshmi Menon in the Hamilton Spectator
says it best:

7 Benefits of Family Travel

Taking a break from your routine life and going on a vacation with your family,
once or twice a year has tremendous benefits for everyone.  Whether it's a fun-
filled escape to Great Wolf Lodge or a vacation to Disneyland All-Star-Resorts
(bathing suits required for both), here are seven benefits of taking a family break:

Family members are usually so busy with work, school and activities that they
don't get adequate time to interact with each other, although they live together
in the same house.  A family vacation provides  ample opportunity for everyone
to have heart-to-heart-conversations and exchange jokes in a more relaxed way.

The whole family takes part in the planning of a vacation in one way or other.
This gives everyone an opportunity to contribute ideas which makes them take
ownership of the trip and therefore more happy to participate.

If you plan a vacation in a different area or country, it provides an opportunity
to learn about a new culture, or different way of doing things in a personal way.
Children can share their thoughts with their parents about the new culture
and also give parents a new perspective.

Enjoy your kids during this stage when they need you the most.  Later in their
lives, they may not need your help to accompany them for a vacation...
so value their closeness now.

Taking a holiday with  family helps you bond together in a better way
because of the particular nature of being together.  During a vacation,
children consider you more like a friend or playmate and discuss things with
you more freely.  You too will find a friend in your child during these times.

If  you are a parent who works outside the home, you can enjoy maximum
time with your kids and make up for the loss during routine life.  They will
look forward to such occasions to get more time and attention from you.

Vacations should make you feel more energized and less tense while you
forget the daily responsibilities of work, chores and bills.  You and the
kids all benefit from this more relaxed attitude.

Caribbean Cruise

While my son was in university and my daughter in High School, I was busily
working to support our addition to car expenses and household costs. 
My job entailed working Sundays.  We managed quite well since my daughter
was frequently competing in horse shows...early in the morning, I drove her to
the stables to prepare her horse for van-loading prior to her horse show
destination. After my workday,  I would return to the stables to await her return
...then home to prepare dinner...usually in the oven on a timer.

Soon I recognized the significance to spend quality time with both. 
We discussed a Caribbean Island Cruise over the Christmas holidays...
places where they had never been (nor I), a mix of culture from island
to island,  activities aboard ship and side trips when in port, the varieties
of food and entertainment aboard ship.

We flew to Puerto Rico to connect with the 2nd  week of a cruise (from Miami)
already a-sea.  This was perfect for us with “port calls” every day except one.
We took turns selecting one of 3 or 4 optional side trips.  We went together…
to share these experiences.  This “family agreement” worked wonderfully.
In Venezuela, at our port call, my daughter chose a “jeep tour” around the
coastline.  A barbecue lunch was prepared for us at a fishing village beside
a crystal waterfall and deep clear water pool.  How refreshing that cool
water was… as it gently flowed into the Caribbean Sea.
This was a wonderful venture…immensely enjoyed by the three of us..
On the dock we met a family with two teenage boys from Norwich, Ontario
(my mother’s home town)

Christmas Eve we spent in Curacao.  So excited we were to see tropical trees
and flower bushes dressed in colourful lights.  Even a few evergreens had been
imported to symbolize the Christmas season.  Last-minute-shoppers was
evident everywhere…as at home.  My daughter’s great “find” was a
McDonald’s… for her burger-fries-coke “fix”!
At 11 pm back on ship, all passengers flocked to the decks to sing
Christmas carols accompanied by the ship band.  I cannot explain
the beauty of  this emotionally joyous experience under the tropical
moon and midnight-star-studded-sky.

We had taken  a small gift for each to unwrap on Christmas Day.
How pleasurable to open these gifts in Aruba before leaving to tour
the island’s rugged wind-swept north coast and the more placid
waters and resorts along the south coast.

These two islands seemed like gems of paradise set in an
emerald green sea.

I was so elated…and they so thrilled…to enjoy these seven days
together…a holiday we’ve never been able to duplicate…
due to jobs, further educational studies, marriages…
and now their children.

A Most Memorable Holiday Together!
And to this day,
they are not only my son and daughter
…we are Great Friends!

Words of Wisdom from “Buddha”

A family is a place where minds
come in contact with one another.
If these minds love one another,
the home will be as beautiful as a  flower garden.

But if these minds get out of harmony with one another,
It is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written November 23, 2012
Comments welcome…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Month of December

The old Roman calendar began the year in March (spring)
and December was the tenth month.
In Latin, decem means...ten.

Birthstones ~ Zircon, Turquoise, Tanzanite
Flowers ~ Narcissus, Holly

Noteworthy Days

December 7 ~ National Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day is a day to remember
and honour all those who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbour.
December 7, 1941 is the date America was attacked marking the day America
entered WWII.  It is a tradition to fly the US flag at half-staff until sunset.

December 8 ~ Hanukkah begins (at sundown the eve before)

December 17 ~ Wright Brothers’ Day is a US National observance.  It
commemorates the first successful flight in a heavier-than-air, mechanically
propelled  airplane (built by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17,
1903…near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

December 21 ~ the first day of  Winter
December 21 ~ Forefathers’ Day celebrates  the day the pilgrims landed
at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

December 24 ~ Christmas Eve

December 25 ~ Christmas Day

December 26 ~ Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas in the 
United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries.  It was traditionally a day to 
give a box to those who have worked hard for you during the year. Many churches 
or businesses  placed boxes for coins to be placed for year-end gifts.
Many countries now have Boxing Week to sell excess Christmas inventory
at reduced prices.

December 31 ~  New Year’s Eve…frequently heard is Auld Lang Syne,
a Scot’s poem written by Robert Burns  in 1788…and set to the tune
of a traditional folk song.

December Musings

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world
and behold…
everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

The best of all gifts around the Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
Burton Hillis

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
of peace on earth, good will to men!
Henry W. Longfellow

Bill Vaughan…re New Year’s  Eve:
An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

Oprah Winfrey:  Cheers to a New Year
and another chance to make it right!

Anonymous:  A New Year’s resolution
is something that goes in one Year
and out the other.

Philosophy to “kick-off" 2013:  The December festivities have ended. 
                                                Gray skies are laden with snow clouds.
                                                The long winter looms ahead.
It  is the season when the whole world seems to go to sleep.The weather is cold,
the ground is frozen, and the trees and plants seem to be dead. 
Since there is little else to do, it's a time that is conducive to working hard. 
                                                            This is a good thing! 
                                     It can be very satisfying to work hard and be creative.
.                                                   Creativity is part of our makeup.
                                                   Depression would quickly set in…
                                                      without a purpose in  Life!

Merle Baird-Kerr … written November 26, 2012
Comments Welcome…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…