Friday, October 31, 2014

"The Prime Minister's Speech" ~ Part 3

Susan Clairmont (from the Hamilton Spectator in her brilliantly written coverage of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo introduced her article...He Has Become Canada's Hero...with the following paragraph.

In the stunning Christ's Church Cathedral, the veteran with the cane and the chest full of medals struggles into the church aisle as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo passes.  He squeezes between two young pall-bearers ~ Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with tears in their eyes ~ to reach the flag-draped coffin.  The old soldier steadies himself and gently places a poppy on the casket. 
It is one of the beautiful moments that unfolds amid the despair.
This is Nathan's farewell.

Dignitaries slip in quietly with little pomp and circumstance.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks the center aisle, holding his wife Laureen's hand.  There are heroes among us.  The lawyer, the nurse, the corporal and the passersby who ran toward the gunshots last Wednesday (October 22) in Ottawa and tried to save Nathan.  They are here in the church today.
“You are loved,” Barbara Winters, the lawyer told Nathan as he died.
“You're a good man.  You're a brave man.”

Stephen Harper's Address at Corporal Nathan Cirillo's Funeral
on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

We are gathered here today to give thanks for the life of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, struck down last week in the service of his country.  His country...our country...our Canada.

Ever desiring peace, Canada has been built upon the noblest ideals, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  And, for as long as these ideals have been the foundation of our country,  it has been our men and women in uniform who have been in the end, their ultimate guardians.

Sometimes, they have given their lives in that service.  And last Wednesday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo became the latest to do so.

Corporal Cirillo was a member of one of Canada's greatest regiments ~ the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Princess Louise's. In more than a century of service, with  honours earned from Somme to Afghanistan, this regiment's record of courage under fire is as distinctive as their kilts and their Glengarries.  To quote Captain Sam Chapman, who served with the regiment during the Second World War, “It is a history written in blood.”

Now, so very regrettably, Corporal Cirillo has added another page to that great narrative of 'faithfulness unto death'.

In a bitter and heart-wrenching irony, he did so as he guarded Canada's national place of solemn, sacred remembrance.  Canadians come together at our National War Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beside it, to honour those who have given their lives for their country.

As Canadians, we stand there humbled... humbled and grateful. These monuments remind us that
freedom is never free. It has been earned by the soldier
and then donated to all of us.

Most of us can never truly understand the significance of a soldier of the simple act of standing reverently on guard at that place.  But those chosen for this sought-after assignment, this vigil at the National War Memorial and over the Unknown Soldier's grave, they understand.

Corporal Cirillo, who felt the calling of a soldier when he was just a 13-year-old cadet, he understood.  He knew what he was protecting...and what  he was preserving.  He died protecting...and preserving it.
And I am satisfied to note that, only after a brief interruption, on Friday past, the honour guard at that sacred place officially resumed its duties.

For Canadians, the memory of Corporal Cirillo will now forever be linked to that place, just as the crowds that gathered  there to honour the returning sentries, mirrored those along the “Highway of Heroes” later that same day, to bear witness to Corporal Cirillo's final journey home.

He has now joined the ranks of so many brave Canadians who have gone before him, having given all in the service of their country.
Our hearts are broken at his loss...
but our spirits are grateful for his memory.

Corporal Cirillo knew what all those men and women who died before him knew: The only values really worth living for...are those worth dying for. So may God bless Corporal Cirillo. We are better for his life...and are lessened by his loss.

And I know Canadians everywhere join me in praying for Corporal Cirillo's family:  his mother, Katherine, his father Victor, his sisters Nicole and Natasha, their partners Richard and Jonathon, and his nephew they shoulder this terrible burden of grief. May time ease the searing pain of today. And may his son, young Marcus Daniel Cirillo, someday find comfort in the fact that...
our entire country looks up to his Dad,
with pride, with gratitude, with deep abiding respect.

As Canadians, we will persevere, taking strength from the legacy of service of Corporal Cirillo, and giving thanks all the more for the courage and dedication of all men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.  God bless them all...and may God keep our land glorious and free!

Queen Elizabeth II,  Monarch of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth
sent these words of comfort:
Thanks and Prayers to the family and friends
of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo ~ a true Canadian Hero!
Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 29, 2014
Sincere comments to:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Canada Honours Cpl. Cirillo ~ Part 2

Under an autumn sky and warm sunny day, thousands of people lined the streets leading to Christ's Church Cathedral in downtown Hamilton's James Street North.  They were clamouring moments while they quietly awaited the funeral procession for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was shot and killed while in Ottawa ceremoniously guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.

Two policemen mounted on their regal black horses stood at attention in front of the gothic styled Christ’s Church Cathedral throughout the waiting for the procession from the Argyll Commemorative Pavilion at Bayfront Park to the church. 

Dignitaries included Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, leaders of the political parties  and a great presence of the Federal and Provincial Governments…and many more.

The fire department flew a humungous Maple Leaf  flag atop two high ladders along the procession route. I noted also a small rectangle positioned on the lower left of my television screen which rotated pictures of the flag wafting in the breeze, then a  face photo of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Argyll uniform, followed by the CHCH TV logo and continually rotating.

As the thousands of people lining the streets stood in silence, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum  (in Hamilton) sent a Mitchell B-25 twin-engine bomber on a couple ‘flypasts’ prior to the precision military marching of the local Regiment of the Argyll Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise), the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and OPP (Ontario Provincial Police). Military bands and police services from across Ontario marched in the procession…many of them gathering inside First Ontario Centre (a nearby sports arena) along with hundreds and hundreds of mourners …all being able to view and hear the regimental military service at Christ’s Church Cathedral. Bag-pipers and drummers preceded another contingent of the Argyll soldiers followed by the drawn flag-draped-casket on a gun carriage. Markus, Nathan's 5-year old son dressed in black suit and wearing an Argyll cap walked hand in hand with his aunt along the full procession route. He reminded me so greatly of John F. Kennedy's little boy as he walked in his father's funeral procession.

Argyll’s Chaplain (Reverend Canon Robert Fead), a Roman Catholic Bishop, Anglican Bishop of the Niagara Diocese and the priest of Christ's Church Cathedral delivered well-scripted messages of consolation, compassion and encouragement. Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister spoke eloquently reminding us  that “Freedom is not free; it is earned by the soldier and donated to all of us.”
The Prime Minister’s delivered speech, so profound, I’ll post in a few days.

Jenny Holland, Nathan’s cousin, shed a spirit of lightness into this solemn ceremony…with incidents of  his childhood and teenage years.  She commented that he was a keen cadet, a successful and dedicated soldier… “because he had the best drill-sergeant in the world ~ his mother!”

Lawrence Hatfield ~ Commanding Officer of the Argylls ~ addressed Cirillo’s overwhelmed family directly. “We cannot possibly imagine the grief you are experiencing today.  But I want to thank you for allowing us…the entire country of Canada…to share in that grief at the loss of a brave young soldier.  But now, he is ‘Canada’s Son’.
“Death is not in vain,” he said, “ because Canada now stands ‘more unified.’
Speaking to Cirillo directly, he said,  “All military stand prouder and taller this day!”
He told the mourners, “The two best words to describe Cirillo are Strength and Character. The qualities required to be a military soldier with the Argyll Sutherland Highlanders of Canada  are ‘Humanity, Fitness and Toughness, Willingness to enter the Fray; plus the combination of Character, Compassion and Style…all of which Cpl. Nathan Cirillo had in abundance.” 
He then bade ‘Farewell’  to’ Canada’s Son’  as he goes to his final resting place.

Following the 2¾ hour ceremonial military service, people solemnly filed out from Christ's Church Cathedral.  The two black horses with their mounted police guards still stood at attention. The cortege of green funereal vehicles slowly proceeded toward “The Field of Honour”  in Woodland Cemetery.

An Emotional Don Cherry Asks us not to Forget Slain Soldiers
Below this title is a photo of Nathan Cirillo with one of his loving 'rescue dogs'.

Don Cherry praised Canadians for their outpouring of support for the terrorist deaths of two Canadian soldiers in the past two weeks in Ottawa. But in his weekly 'Coach's Corner'  segment on “Hockey Night in Canada” on Saturday, the outspoken hockey commentator pleaded with people about all Canadian soldiers injured in combat. 

“I'm not putting anybody down, but maybe in about 2 or 3 weeks it will all be forgotten...just like the war in Afghanistan (where Cirillo had been deployed also).We'll forget about the wounded guys, with no arms, no legs, blinded and stuff like that.  We'll go on,” Cherry said.

Dressed uncharacteristically understated in a plain dark suit ~ with red poppy and matching red tie ~ Cherry dedicated the entire segment to slain soldiers. The emotional Cherry looked on the verge of tears as he spoke about Cirillo...shown in photographs with his son Marcus and two rescue dogs. “What a beautiful guy!  That dog would have been put to death if Nathan  hadn't gotten hold of him. People that rescue dogs like that are unbelievable.

He spoke about how Patrice Vincent (from Quebec)  was an organ donor and gave up all his organs so that other people can live.  It's unbelievable that the two guys that were killed was because they were soldiers. It's hard to believe! 

Cherry spoke about Kevin Vickers, Parliament's Sergeant-at-arms who shot and killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.  “Terrific, what a guy, stepped up to the plate and did the job that had to be done,” Cherry said over the footage of the long standing ovation Vickers received in the House of Commons the next day.

It was already an emotional night of  hockey.  “Hockey Night in Canada” opened with a touching video  montage of the slain soldiers that included footage of the thousands of people who lined the  Highway of Heroes on Friday.  Then fans stood and sang  “O Canada” simultaneously in three rinks in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

Don Cherry is very concerned about the country's injured war veterans. “If you think so much of them...and I know you do...I'm sure Corporal Nathan and Patrice would want you to do this ~ help the wounded. 

The emotional segment ended with video footage of Cirillo's casket arriving home in Hamilton to the sound of bag-pipes...and Cherry's final words:  “God love them!”

Merle Baird-Kerr...submitted October 28, 2014
All comments to:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Canada's Lament ~ Part 1

On October 22,  2014 Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, while guarding the National War Memorial at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, was shot and killed. He was a staunch soldier with the Hamilton Regiment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise).  About 10 days previously, Warrant Officer, Patrice  Vincent (from Quebec) was also killed in Ottawa...both 24 years of age. I inscribe and address this writing out of compassion, patriotism to my country and of concern for the deliberate actions by terrorists on our Canadian Capital City, Ottawa...proudly situated along the banks of the lengthy Ottawa River (in Eastern Ontario) and adjacent to Gatineau, Quebec. Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was from Hamilton, Ontario. On the following day, the Spectator featured a full single page...each side with a huge red poppy, its narrow outer edge in wine colour with black center and an inner white light that softly glowed.  Most impressive!  That evening, tears in my eyes, I watched the procession as the hearse carried the body of our soldier along the “Highway of Heroes” and along the Queen Elizabeth Highway en route to a funeral home in Hamilton's east end.  Thousands of people lined overpasses to pay tribute to this soldier! Thousands of flowers and other sentiments (including dog toys for his two 'rescue pets' who will sadly miss him) were placed in front of the Armoury on James Street North. Referred to as 'Hamilton's Son', he has quickly become 'Canada's Son'!.

There is considerable media content coverage both locally and nationally which I've tearfully followed. He was married and has a 5-year old son...his family heartbroken.  I take the liberty of conveying to you readers excerpts from various news items:

Readers Write: (from the Hamilton Spectator)
There Will Be Peace One Alasdair Paterson in Waterdown.
I was still wiping away tears as we got back from two  hours on a Burlington bridge waiting for Corporal Nathan Cirillo.  I knew it would be emotional, but I did not realize how powerful it would be.
Cars and trucks honked, people flashed the V sign, cheered, waved, flicked their lights. The family beside me had a sign made by their teenage daughter~ Canada Strong...Thank you Cpl. Nathan...R.I.P.
A little white before the motorcade arrived, the traffic going in the other direction slowed, so we knew he was near...then the traffic in the westbound lanes disappeared. I have never had goosebumps like was the highway equivalent of a minute of silence.  My legs started shaking and I started to cry. Singly, five police motorcycles appeared...then the procession came into view...and I lost it!  I held up a picture of him and held the flag in my other hand...and I cried that we can honour someone like this and that we have people who beg and compete for the honour to do what he was doing when he died.

To the people who preach intolerance and hatred, and who initiate this and any other kind of violence against the innocent and those who stand up for them:  now, more than ever in my life, I know something you don't seem to realize.  We outnumber you ~ in immense proportions ~ and we outdo you in courage and kindness and love. There is Nothing you can do to win this fight. There will be peace one day, and you might be part of it.  But with or without you, it will happen.

It’s Terrorism…by Lisa Chevalier,  Ancaster
I think it is important  not to confuse mental illness with a fanatical terrorist who blatantly made a choice to commit a savage, despicable act that was clearly meant to cut to the heart of a democratic, free loving country.  These terrorists know what they are doing and for us to justify their behaviours by saying it is ‘mental illness’ is wrong.  I have great compassion  for those suffering with mental illness, but I have no compassion for terrorists!

Let's Have a Statue of Corporal Guy Mersereau, Hamilton
He stood on guard for us.  We sing, “We stand on guard for thee” whenever we sing O Canada.  We have guards in our prisons and on our coasts ~ including Hamilton ~ and at our defensive posts, and we don't usually think that much about them.  But who stands as he stood? And who gives as he gave?  I hope to live and see a statue of Nathan Cirillo in full Argyle and Sutherland the National War Memorial in Ottawa.  He stood on guard for us...the Known Soldier!

I'll  return to this writing after watching CHCH TV's presentation of
(2 ¾ hours of solemnly military compassion)

Playing for Fallen Comrade Will Be Piper's Toughest Lament
Same age, same rank ~  Argylls' Cpl. Kersell to honour  his friend.

Cpl. Jazz Kersell is 24 years old ~ just like Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.  For years they knew each other as young members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.  But neither could have imagined the sad scene that will play out on Tuesday.  Kersell, a piper with 30-member Argyll Pipes and Drums band, has been assigned to perform the regiment's lament at Woodland Cemetery as Cirillo's body is being lowered into the ground.  Piping at the funeral of a fallen regiment member is the toughest job a piper can be called upon to do, especially when the fallen regiment 'brother' is so young and the killing so senseless. Kersell (one of 18 pipers in the band that will also perform as a unit at the funeral) ~ was chosen because of the military tradition of assigning a piper who is most similar to the fallen soldier in rank and age.

“It's going to be quite overwhelming.  I've played solo before at tattoos and funerals, but this is on a different scale entirely,” said Kersell who is a computer science student at McMaster University, when he is not piping for the Argylls.  “There is a lot of tradition here...and I'm am proud to be part of carrying this tradition.”  Argylls have been rehearsing over and over again every aspect of their involvement in the funeral.  From the more than half-dozen pipe and drum songs, the band will perform to the lifting of the casket from the hearse and its placement on the converted gun carriage, to the gun salute. They want to get every last detail right to properly honour their fallen 'brother'.
As Kersell says, “The funeral is something
I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Among the many VIP's expected at the funeral are Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader...and Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

The support of the nation in this devastating time
provides a measure of comfort and helps make this almost bearable.
(Statement from the Family of Corporal Nathan Cirillo)

A Large Colour Picture of Nathan and his son Marcus, in a loving Father/Son Admiration, highlights the following article written by J.R.W. McLauchlan CD LCol (Ret), Past Commanding Officer
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders.

We Will Remember
To the Son of Corporal Nathan Cirillo:
You and I have never met but I felt at this time I wanted to share some thoughts about your father. I have  asked that your family show you this letter at a time they feel is appropriate.  I did not know your dad, but like him, I was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves and also a brother member of the 'Highlander Brigade' having served and led the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders in Cornwall, Ontario.

You probably were not old enough for your dad to explain to you or for you to understand his desire and pride to be a member of the “Argyll Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise).”  Not too many Canadians, who are not members of the Armed Forces Reserve, can understand your father's drive to serve and eventually achieve his goal of membership in the Regular Force.

I can tell you that as a reservist myself, I feel the passion  your father had for serving.  Reservists join with only one serve and protect Canada!  Members of the reserve expect and await orders to carry out any it weekly local headquarter parades, summer training exercises, “call outs” to service at higher headquarters, deployment to such places as Korea, the Golan or Afghanistan. We also look with honour and pride at our deployments for ceremonial duties such as church parades, Remembrance Day services, visits of dignitaries to our home cities and barracks or duties in our nation's capital.  The latter is what your dad was doing when he was taken from us.

Please remember the picture of your dad, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, standing proud in the dress uniform of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise).  Remember the proud and stern look on his face as he stood honouring the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with  his rifle in the “Rest on your arms reversed” drill position.  He was not in a combative stance;  he was in a stance of honour, of loyalty, remembrance and love for the many who had given their lives for Canada who to him and us are not known.

As a reservist and a Canadian, I take the words of our national anthem to heart each time I hear or sing that great hymn.  Your father displayed the phrases “True patriot love” and We Stand on Guard for Thee.”  I am sure that you will always be proud of  your dad and what he did for you and country.

In a matter of weeks, Canada will join together on Nov. 11 to remember our fallen military women and men. On that day at 11 a.m. and on all succeeding Remembrance Days, we will add Corporal Nathan Cirillo to those whom we remember.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them.”
Be strong and remember your father as a true Canadian patriot.
Dileas gu bas  (Faithful unto Death).

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 28, 2014
Comments to:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Decisions By the HWDSB

(Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board)

Jeff Mahoney, from the Hamilton Spectator, comments in today's publication, “It's a High School built, (in the words of one former principal)...out of mud and dreams.!”  The first high school on Hamilton Mountain, Hill Park stamped a kind of seal of 'arrival' on a rapidly burgeoning community, only recently urbanized at that time.  And only partially, this once agricultural tableland, one foot in a penny loafer...the other still in a billy boot.

“Hill Park literally changed everyone who filed through its doors ~ teachers, principals, students, parents.  Not just because it was new.  Not just because it was the Mountain's educational bridgehead.  But mostly because it glowed with leadership and lived ideas.  The school breathed vision, an ambitious, value-filled vision, embodied in actual practice. It was Ernie Hutton's vision...the first principal of this New School.

“Hill Park was to have been THE model High School for future generations.  And for a time, it was! There were articles about it in the national media, such as Saturday Night magazine.  It was hailed as an exciting step forward in pedagogy...a departure from the rigid conformity of the past...a beacon for the whole country!  Now, after 59 years, Hill Park Secondary School is closing.

“What could never be boarded up, however, are the energies that inspired it.  The value-lit energies that radiated originally from the aforementioned, Ernie Hutton, and radiate still from those who stood on board with his vision over the school that would be innovative, academic, collegial, vocational and technical together.  So every child in a family, regardless of their abilities, could learn in the same space.

“His mantra was that, ‘High School should be a second home to every student, providing the help each needs.  We are all capable beyond the bounds of human thought...when we have clear goals and have the support and love we need to reach them.’

And Jeff Mahoney questions, “Why do we hear that now?  The LOVE we need?  Now, it seems it's the 'money available'...schools closing, programs cut.  Save money?  Why not shut all the schools, leaving the kids wandering in the wilderness, uninformed?”

I reveal the foregoing situation from personal interest.  A couple years after Hill Park opened on East 16th Street, a friend, Marilyn (also from Brantford) and I were assigned by the Board of Education for the City of Hamilton  to begin our teaching careers. Excited, we came to Hamilton on the Friday prior  to Labour Day weekend to be advised of our schools and location...It was Linden Park Elementary School at 4 Vickers Road on the wonderful for us to be placed together! With directions, we drove to this new area under development...but unable to find ‘our school’.  Telephoning the  Board Office, we were advised, “Yes, there is no school there yet...will be built over the next year...all classes are being currently placed at Hill Park Secondary School and in the basement of Linden Park Church.”  Our location was the Church.  My class with 42 students was a mix of Grades 2 and 3;  Marilyn had a Grade 4 class.  Any staff meetings we had with our principal, Bill Sledd, were held diagonally across the road at Hill Park.

Since I had no car...and had already arranged to board at a home on Kipling Road in Westdale, it was necessary for me to set my alarm at 6 AM...have a quick breakfast...a 3 or 4 block walk to the nearest bus stop to take me downtown...then transfer to a Mountain bus to somewhere on Fennel Avenue.  From there, had a longish walk to Linden Park School. These were experiencing years that taught me much about coping with circumstances beyond my control. Weekends, Marilyn and I drove home, then returning Sunday to our respective jobs.  One Friday evening, en route along Hwys 2 & 53, a news flash on her radio told us of Hurricane it inflicted much damage and destruction in the Toronto areas, especially along the Credit River and points west. Of interest, also in relation to “Hazel”, yesterday I took a Senior friend from my place of residence to the Hair Salon.  Vicky told me of her sister who lost her home/cottage in Bronte (West Oakville) because of Hurricane Hazel's horrific wallop...the home just disappeared off the bank...and GONE with all its contents into Lake Ontario.

Of Interest:  I comment here that, resulting from valuable teaching techniques learned and direction from Bill Sledd (one of the best school principals one could ever have), I became a ‘Practice Teacher’ for the Hamilton Teachers’ College for many years…whereby students (would-be-teachers) were sent to observe and teach for a week in an ideal classroom. Wow!  This kept me ‘on my toes’.

Words of Wisdom
(Lessons learned…and to be learned)

Setbacks are bumps in the road...they are not the end of the road.
(Bob Greene)

Your life is a result of your decisions...not conditions!

Choice is a Beautiful Thing!
Make what you see...amazing!
(Sign in a computer shop in Mississauga)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written June 11, 2014
All comments welcome...e-mail to:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Out of the 'Little World' into the School of Hard Knocks!

A tadpole (also called a pollywog)  is the larva stage in the cycle of amphibians, particularly that of a frog or toad.  Although with gills, they do not have arms or legs until the transition to adulthood...and have a large flattened tail with which they swim.  Tadpoles have a tough life.  Fast swimming, they escape many creatures that haunt their pond for food (fish and water beetles). Lungs begin to develop, preparing it as a frog (or toad) that can live on land or in the water and can swim around to find food.

Isn't it strange?  That a small child born from the mother's womb is akin to the life of the tadpole...who is nurtured by the parent(s) to become strong and healthy in a small environment. The child is likened to a tadpole, until thrust into a bigger pond.  Here he learns to exist and cohabit with others. Many lessons  to be experienced as he approaches nursery school, then grade school.  Sometimes, he feels crushed in this big pond and discovers that surviving happily, is not always a cinch.

Relating to this experience...many years ago I'd learned to play Bridge and did exceedingly well among our monthly social evening with enthusiastic 8 ladies.  When taking professional lessons, I quickly discovered how little I knew!  Once the knowing tadpole in a quiet pond, I was now into a flowing river...and it was 'sink or swim'.  So much to much to learn!

Don't go around saying...the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.  It was here first!
(Mark Twain)

Your Child Didn't Make the Team: Now What?

It happens to every child or teen at some point in life. A boy or girl doesn't make a school sports team or isn't selected for a club or group. For many kids who just returned to school, something like this might have happened recently.  It did to my 11-year old child.  He came home upset because he wasn't picked for something he wanted to be part of at school. I will say it was hard for me to see him upset and confused.  I wanted to comfort him.  I wanted to go to the school and ask, “Why didn't you pick my son?”  I wanted to do something to make his pain go away.

But that isn't how life works, and Mommy butting into his life isn't going to  help make him a man. He would never hear the end of the teasing.  Rejection is part of life...and when it first happens to your child, you, as a parent, can make it a teaching moment.  If you do, the next time it happens, the blow might not feel so bad.  So that's what I did.

I suggested he gather more information about why he wasn't picked. 
Ask what he could have done better. 
Ask if there would be a chance for him to be selected at another time. 
I told him not to assume someone didn't like him (which he thought) and get more details.

To my surprise, the following morning I received an e-mail from one of his teachers saying he had already talked with her about it...and he had told her he was going to try really hard so that he might be picked in the future.  And it turns out there will be another chance, this year, his teacher said.

His always-encouraging teacher was proud of him.  In  front of a group of students in his class she pointed out how good it was that he had set a goal for himself.

I praised him when he got home for taking such a big step.  He felt a lot better asking questions and getting some feedback.  Not only was he a good sport, but he also learned what he could to to improve his chances.  We will see what  happens.
Written by Kris Hey...and published in the Orlando Sentinel.

A Parenting Class Advisor said,
Prepare your children for the road ~
not the road for your child.

Advice from Dr. Seuss

“Kid, you'll move mountains. 
No need to get intimidated by the size of the task ~
it's just a matter of taking small steps toward your bigger goal.”

“You have brains in your head;
You have feet in  your shoes;
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You'll miss the best things...if you keep your eyes shut.”

A “Yes We Canoe Attitude”

Bennetto Elementary teacher, Scott Millar challenged the school's students to raise at least $250.00 and said he would carry a canoe during the Terry Fox Run if they did.  He issued the challenge to support his stepsister and her husband, who have recently recovered from separate battles with cancer.
The kids managed to raise $600.00 so he carried the canoe for 1.1 kilometres.

A full colour photo in the Spec's September 25th  issue
shows Scott (with his green canoe hoisted over head)
standing amid a mass of joyful and very eager students.

He presented a challenge to each student to work and play together
to achieve a worthwhile endeavour.

How wonderful it is ~ that no one need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.
(Anne Frank)

I alone cannot change the world,
but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
(Mother Teresa)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 9, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ladies ~ Come On In!


Continuous Effort...not strength or intelligence
is the key to unlocking the potential.
(Winston Churchill)

Scotland Got it Right!

Not only did this country  recently vote to remain with the British Commonwealth,
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews has voted overwhelmingly
to admit female members for the first time!

The club, exclusively for men since it was founded in Scotland 260 years ago, released a statement  on Thursday saying 85% of those who took part in the ballot voted in favour of allowing female members. The club has a world-wide membership of  2,500.  Peter Dawson, secretary of the R&A  says, “The membership has also acted to fast-track a significant initial number of women to become members in the coming months.”

High School “Tackle Football” Team Welcomes Girl

She's always been adventurous both at home and at school. Graduating with honours in Grade 8 and recognized for her pursued participation in various school activities, she was elected to be Valedictorian at her graduating class ceremony.  My grand daughter was thrilled to be attending High School. Why should I be surprised when she “tried out” for the  “tackle football team”? She's tall  with a strong build.  A few other girls quit during the try-outs, concluding they couldn't physically handle it.

The coach welcomed her...and the boys, though a bit leery at first, accepted this girl on their team.  They discovered she was an asset...often patting her on the back and would check if she had any injuries when knocked down.  To them, she was awesome!

The team players all became “good friends”. The coach had encouraged her and commended her play throughout the season.  Yes, she had bruises and bumps...but no injuries except for a few broken fingernails. And now, this year, the boys are asking if she's playing again with them.

She tells me, “I was proud of myself in being able to withstand the “tackle drills” and becoming able physically to play. I was proud that I was not tempted to quit after the try-outs!”

And...Yes...the coach and the boys welcome her for the second year.
(See Post Script at end of this article)

Think like a Queen; a Queen is not afraid to fail.
Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.
(Oprah Winfrey)

Dr. Emily Howard Stowe (May 1, 1831...
was the first female doctor to practise in Canada and an activist for women's rights and suffrage.  Stowe helped found the women's suffrage movement in Canada and campaigned to initiate the first Medical   College for Women.

Canada's First Female Catholic Priest
(from the Nanaimo's Daily News...October 29, 2012)

As the first woman in Canada  to be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, Nanaimo resident, Michele Birch-Conery's perspective on the church is nothing, if not unique.  At a time when a Vancouver church is appealing to Catholics that have abandoned their faith with a series of television ads set to air on the mainland Vancouver Island, Birch-Conery feels that in an era of upheaval  for the church, it is time for the clergy to abandon its rigid exclusion of women from the priestly ranks and usher in a new era of inclusivity.

"With  opportunities, given or self-created,
women are capable to take the initiative and accomplish outstanding feats."

Marilyn Bell was the first (male or female) to swim across Lake Ontario in 1954.  At age 16 she swam from Queens Beach at Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario to Toronto.  Later, she swam the English Channel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Vicki Keith was the first person to swim across all 5 Great Lakes, achieving this feat in1988.  She was also the only person to accomplish the 104 km double crossing of Lake Ontario.  Vicki's dream has always been to make a difference in other people's live.  She became a coach and met the needs for  children having  disabilities with diabetes in Kingston, Ontario.

Ladies Golf Club of Toronto
(7859 Yonge Street)

Celebrating 90 years, from 1924-2014, it is North America's only remaining private golf club for women exclusively.  Founded by Ada MacKenzie (a world-class golfer herself), it has provided a place  for women to play, learn and enjoy a lifelong involvement with golf in a private setting.  An isolated location in 1924, she set about designing the many acres golf play by hiring legend Canadian golf architect, Stanley Thomson of Banff Springs and Jasper Park  fame to design the layout.

Wise Perspective from Eleanor Roosevelt
A woman is like a teabag ~
you can't tell how strong she is
until you put her in hot water.

Post Script:  In the Spectator’s ‘Readers Write’ September 30th issue, Abbie Boyko, a 1982 Hamilton Graduate of Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School wrote:  As a proud graduate, I was a part of the football crew, which was on the field at Ivor Wynne Stadium at our home games.  We had two people who took care of the measuring sticks and I was the one with the down stick.  I watched every game for four years; the Chiefs played hard and proud.  I have followed them over the years as they struggled.  I am so happy that someone has stepped up to help the Chiefs.  Thanks to Nissan and the Canadian Football League for saving this wonderful secondary school’s football team…and to John Williams, the coordinator of community development for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, for choosing this school and helping all those kids who now play for the Chiefs and the players of the future.  GO CHIEFS!!!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written September 20, 2014
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Summer in October?

Who screwed up the seasons this year?  Winter, forecast to be a fairly mild season, was extremely harsh ~ bitterly cold with wind-blown blizzards, frigid temperatures and hazardous road conditions.  Then Spring, I believe should be called Spr-ummer!  Last year it was forecast that 2014 summer would be long, hot and humid...well, June  complied.  But, Mother Nature handed us storms of  booming thunder, flashing lightning, tons of rain (the latter a devastating flooding...the worst in decades...Burlington was inflicted with atrocious damage with literally reconstruction costs running into the millions of dollars!).

Now to be kind, Mother Nature has favoured us with sunny days and cool evenings.  In the eve of September, Major League Baseball is drawing to a close, Canadian and the National Football Leagues are in full swing.  The grass is lushingly green...autumn flowers in gorgeous bloom...woodland trails ever so inviting...local waterfalls gushing with cascades...and country roads lure us to  travel.  For what more could we ask?  The season is now Indian Summer...defined as a period of mild, dry weather, usually accompanied by a hazy atmosphere occurring in late September, October to early November.

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
(by Thomas Moore written in 1830)

Say Goodby to Summer
(Excerpts from an article written by Paul Benedetti ~
a Hamilton resident and former Spectator reporter,
teaches Journalism at the University of Western Ontario)

Let's face it: summer is over.
Like most people, I try desperately to hang on to summer, hoping for one more warm day, one more clear blue sky, one more excuse to have a cold 'summer beer' after work.  A government official whose whole job is is to watch a giant Season Clock in his office sounded an alarm and then sent an e-mail to every civil servant to STOP WEARING WHITE TO WORK!  Autumn means shorter and shorter days, colder and colder temperatures and the really frightening realization that Christmas mall music is only weeks away.
I know it's summer when:
My dry, brown, dead grass miraculously springs back to life and turns green for a brief fleeting moment. My front lawn is essentially a dusty wasteland through July and August, so this week or two of green is one of the world's many miracles. 

You reluctantly, but finally close the cottage.  You have to clean out the fridge (that's either a head of broccoli or a bowl of egg salad), shutter the windows and drain the toilets.  As you drive away, you think back fondly on the two weekends you actually managed to stay at the cottage and realize your per night cost was $1,493, not counting tax.  You weep!

Your neighbour, whom we will call Dave, comes down to inform you that, “There are leaves collecting on your lawn.”  “Yes, Dave,” I say, “that's the wonder of nature.  The cooler weather signals the tree to prepare for winter and the green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves.”  Dave retorts, “Yeah, whatever, but that mess is going to blow down the street onto my lawn. Clean it up.”

Finally, there is the issue of shorts.  This is the complex matter of deciding when it's no longer reasonable to wear the pants of summer...shorts.  He begins wearing shorts (excluding work because 'the shop guys whistle at my legs') on Easter Weekend.  And he never takes them off.  “All right -thinking-people know that you stop wearing shorts on American Thanksgiving ~ snowfall depending,” he says.  But Dave delivers it with conviction, often with a Manhattan in hand.

I appreciate Dave's one-man-campaign to extend summer.  His never-say-die approach inspires me.  It also keeps him barbecuing into December  and insisting  his family dine outside in the snow.

If  you see him around this fall, say Hi.  You can't miss him.  He'll be the only guy in Fortinos with yellow shorts...and blue legs.

Indian Summer
(written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
He was an American poet and educator and author whose works include 'Paul Revere's Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, Evangeline’...and many philosophic quotes:  e.g.
The best thing one can do when it to let it rain.
In each life, some rain must fall.
Music is the universal language of mankind.

It is the Indian Summer.  The rising sun blazes through the misty air like a conflagration.  A yellowish, smoky haze fills the atmosphere...and a filmy mist lies like a silver lining on the sky.  The wind is soft and low.  It wafts to the odour of forest leaves that hang wilted on the dripping branches...or drop into the stream.  Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out.  Orange, yellow and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue.  The birds, too, have taken wing and have left their roofless dwellings. Not the whistle of a robin, not the twitter of an eavesdropping swallow, not the carol of one sweet, familiar voice.  All gone.  Only the dismal caring of a crow, as he sits and curses that the harvest is over; or the chit-chat of an idle squirrel…the noisy denizen of a hollow tree...the mendicant friar of a large parish... the absolute monarch of a dozen acorns.

Merle Baird-Kerr...scripted September 26, 2014
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Greetings

 Today is a set in the heart of honest men,
but careful you do not take the day and leave out the gratitude.
(E.P. Powell)

So, once in every year as we throng
                                                      Upon a day apart,
                                                      To praise the Lord with heart and song
                                                      In thankfulness of heart.
(Arthur Guiterman...from The First Thanksgiving)

As we express out gratitude, we must never forget
that the highest appreciation is not to utter words
but to live by them.  (John Fitzgerald Kennedy)

The Pregnant Turkey
(Thanks to Tom for this story)

One year at Thanksgiving, my Mom went to my sister's house for the traditional feast. Knowing that my sister is gullible, my Mom decided to play a trick. She told my sister that she needed something from the store.  When my sister left, Mom took the turkey out of the oven...removed the stuffing...then stuffed a small Cornish hen and inserted it in the turkey...and re-stuffed the turkey. 

When it was time for dinner, my sister pulled the turkey out of the oven and proceeded to remove the stuffing.  When her serving spoon hit something, she reached in and pulled out the little bird.  With a look of total shock on her face, my mother exclaimed, “Patricia, you've cooked a pregnant bird!”  At the reality of this horrifying news, my sister began to cry.  It took the family two hours to convince her that turkeys lay eggs. YEP..........SHE'S BLOND!

Happy Thanksgiving!

                                                            'Twas the night of Thanksgiving.
                                                            But I just couldn't sleep.
                                                            I tried counting backwards,
                                                            I tried counting sheep.

                                                            The leftovers beckoned.
                                                            The dark meat and white,
                                                            But I fought the temptation
                                                            With all of my might.

                                                            Tossing and turning with anticipation,
                                                            The thought of a snack became infatuation.
                                                            So, I raced to the kitchen,flung open the door,
                                                            And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
                                                            Gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
                                                            Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

                                                            I felt myself swelling, so plump and so round,
                                                            'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.
                                                            I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky,
                                                            With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
                                                            But, I managed to yell, as I soared past the trees...
                                                            Happy Eating to All ~ Pass the Cranberries, Please.

                                                             May your stuffing be tasty.
                                                             May your turkey be plump.
                                                             May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.
                                                             May your yams be delicious.
                                                             May your pies take the prize.
                                                             May your Thanksgiving Dinner                              
                                                             Stay off of your thighs!!!

“Happy Thanksgiving to All.”

Humour from Erma Brombeck
Thanksgiving Dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.
They are consumed in twelve minutes. not a coincidence!

Thanksgiving is the Day
men start to get in shape for Santa Claus!
(seen recently on a church sign)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...September 24, 2014
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