Thursday, August 17, 2017

Balcony Flowers ~ Summer Saga of '17

April Showers,” tis said, “Bring May Flowers.”
So, it was, I purchased 2 magnificent hanging baskets of geraniums
at Terra Greenhouses...one with dusty pink flowers,
 the other in pale pink blooms;
luscious verdant foliage surrounded these colourful geraniums.
In early May, I stowed my 'Hibiscus Bush' outside on my 3rd floor balcony...
pruned its lengthy stalks to instill new growth...and Voila!
My Summer's Enjoyment!

Several months ago, I blogged articles about a couple hibiscus plants, that after 2 summers, two pesty squirrels (Blackie & Gray) had attacked and destroyed them....digging in the soil and chewing leaves. Although, cute in appearance, they were an absolute nuisance! Even, ripping through window screens to enter my apartment...food searching or places to nest. The following summer, I settled for artificial flowers which the same squirrels attacked. My residence is a yellow brick building...however, with sharp claws, they scale up and down the walls quickly with ease...to reach and search destinations.
I NEVER FED THEM!

I like squirrels,” stated Gabby Douglas, “they're so adventurous.”

Ruth Reichi discovered the truth: “I don't have my own garden; we're on shale and in the woods. And if I did have a garden, the deer and chipmunks and squirrels would eat everything anyway.”

And Donald Hall comments, “I'm happy to feed the squirrels...tree rats with the agility of point guards ~ but in fair weather, they frighten my finches. They leap from snowbank to porch to feeder...and stuff their cheek pouches with chickadee feed.”

Without flowers on my balcony for several summers, I relented...and a year ago in August...and bought an “On Sale: Patio Hibiscus!” which bore 75 gigantic coral-red blooms. Over this past winter, I stored it inside...then this past late April, moved it again to my balcony...pruned its limbs...watered it and my hanging baskets every two days. Great Enjoyment for morning coffee...reading the daily newspaper and novels...watching activity along the “Bike Path”.
THEN BLACKIE ARRIVED!
Was he one of my frequent squirrel visitors of a few years ago?
Or an offspring?
His habits the same: digging out the soils from my hibiscus plant and hanging baskets. One morning I discovered a couple of long limbs (each about 2 feet in length), completely chewed off my hibiscus...and leaves fully devoured. Many times I've swept up the soil, returning it to the plants.
Yet, 'Blackie', continuing his visitations, concentrated on the far hanging basket.

With several small wooden boxes (in which mandarin oranges are shipped), I surrounded the spaces below the acrylic panels to hopefully deter his entries. NO PROBLEM FOR HIM: he just climbed the brick wall higher...then jumped from place to place to gain access to the far hanging basket. I shoo-ed him away many times. Much soil was spilled over the edge, landing on my “Vega” statue who faces her “Vega Constellation” in the night sky...but also all over my balcony floor...which nightly I swept.

Vicious Attacks!
He perpetually climbed the wall to reach that far basket. Determined, he was, to be in that pot... chewing leaves (more than half now destroyed) and shoving out the soil. Due to height of the basket, I was unable to view the full damage...the flowers within, told me they were dead....thanks to his mischieveness! As a last resort, I purchased 'moth balls' to insert into the soil of all plants; however, this did not deter his activity. Clapping my hands, he'd escape the basket...jump to the balcony floor...speedily run to the far end of the balcony...climb the wall and scurry to the ground! Repeatedly, he continued his arrival to the plant! Clapping my hands, he'd hop out and run, viciously back and forth from the far end...back hurriedly to his basket...from where I chased him again. Finally, I resorted to my broom, batting him with the bristle ends...he'd escape to the floor, run to the end, then back again and again to regain access to his hide-place.

Subjected to my attacks on him...and dashing back, he jumped to my lap, biting and scratching my right hand, I swatted him away...and he jumped to climb the wall to His Nest! A gouge on the top side of my hand bled and bled...plus a scratch on the lower end of my middle finger also bled.. For several minutes, blood receded from my hand...went inside to run water on the bite and scratch...the gouge on top side of my hand stung badly (like a bee sting)... while warm water touched the injured area. On my return to my balcony chair, he again ran along the wall above the table to reach his destination. When batting my broom bristles at him as he poked his head above the basket rim, he arose from 'his nest' with a hairless baby squirrel in his mouth...as SHE ran, dropping the about 3-inch long nude baby on the balcony floor, SHE jumped to retrieve it...and scampered off the balcony.
Have not seen HER since!

Today, my Doctor saw me by appointment:
I had some concern about possible 'rabies' from the severe bite, although only about 1/8th inch wide.
By law, she had to report 'any animal bite to a human'...and send to a government agency.
She indicated that quite possibly, due to the excess bleeding on the gouge, any insertion from the squirrel's mouth would depart with the bleeding. Fortunately, there was no swelling ~ and soreness had disappeared by the following day... the area was slightly tender upon touch. The determining statement was: “I assaulted the squirrel for attacking my flowers. He attacked me for interfering with his plans!”
Consultation between the agency and my doctor
clarified that no vaccine would be necessary.

It's now 3 days later...no squirrel visitation!
However, my beautiful hanging baskets are nearly void of flowers!
Next year, again, I'll probably resort to none...or artificials.
Hopefully the squirrel breeding season is over for '17.

Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.
Huge portions of what is loosely termed 'squirrel brain'
are given over to one thought: Food or Nest!”
(Kate DiCamillo)

A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same...
states a loveable squirrel clasping a yellow daisy.
(Elbert Hubbard)

In an animal cartoon, Squirrel comments,
I don't wear skinny jeans...'caus my nuts don't fit!”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 4, 2017

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Society Conflicts

Awaiting my doctor's appointment a few weeks ago...among a few others in the reception area...a man sat with his daughter (about 8 years old). Father was constantly rapt with his Cell Telephone, reading and texting. Young daughter tried to converse with him ~ Dad was too busy to respond to her. She tried 2 or 3 times to gain his attention ~ but 'No Way' did he have time for her. When, leaving her chair and trying to pick up a magazine, he ordered, “SIT DOWN!”
To what is our Society becoming?

Daily occurrences are saddled with “me, me,me and my CT”
.
Ignorance of signs denoting “DANGER” at the local waterfalls in our
 escarpment areas...even ignorance of fencing...some visitors choose not to obey.
I fully agree with fines levied against those who ignore the signs (although to me the fine should be greater than $130.) In a few letters to “Readers Write” daily in The Spec, I strongly endorse that when rescues involving our skilled firemen and service people, said persons should pay the full amount of the rescue costs incurred.
A recent bulletin from Niagara Falls, N.Y. reports:
Too many on-river are getting too close to falls! An American police marine unit that patrols the Upper Niagara River says too many boaters and people on personal watercraft are getting too close to the brink of Niagara Falls. People put their lives at risk when they ignore buoys and warning signs on the river. This summer there have been 10 incidents involving the venturing of boaters into dangerous waters! Some were stopped near Goat Island close to the brink.

Speed Limits on our highways are frequently ignored.
...and the list is endless!

Many months ago, I wrote about Road Rage...centered around a women who passed me with excessive speed on the four-lane Walkers Line near the QEW (2 lanes running in each direction). Sharply, she cut in front of me, forcing me to stop! She had a BIG BEEF about my driving interfering with her over-the-speed-limit she was executing in rush hour. She was livid! Banging on my side window, she angrily stated she was going to report me to the police...copied down my licence plate number...and then returned haughtily to her vehicle...she'd left her driver-side door open in her haste to make accusations...of course, traffic had to slow down to veer around her opened-door vehicle.

Are We Living in the Fast Lane of Today's Society?
Leaving farm life behind to further my education...moving to Toronto, so many years ago, seemed that 'this' was the fast lane! What an adjustment! Soon, it became 'the norm'! Yet, over the years where I've lived and worked, I've seen many changes. Today's Society alarms me! Technology may be the cause which to many of us is a big change...and we endorse this while still keeping our life and family principles in place.

Colloquials
Years ago, contractions were intoduced into our vocabulary as shortcuts: you'd, isn't, where's, etc.
These past 2 years, new words were invented and now in usage: e.g. adventus, brood patch, bug-eyes, Chi-town, garden apartment, Linus blanket, scritch, spooge, throat sing...and numerous more.

A recent cartoon illustrated 'Teenager Language':
Buh...ull...tex'ya...and so many other words understood by them.
A World of Their Own” reminds me of their communication.
Often I see teens hanging out near malls, parks...and fill their idle time
with other 'techies'...There are jobs available (however few of interest to them).
Community Services welcome assistance for those in need
and I'm certain that during the school year, these rendered services
give students 'credits' toward their year's achievement!
Donna Clarini from Hamilton states and offers a solution: “All the problems with young people today stem from not serving in compulsory military service. Discipline, hard work and respect are missing”.

.A Beef of mine is the usage of 'Alphabet and Numerals':
The alphabet are letters from a, b, c, to z;
The numerals are 0 (zero), 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
You have heard of the “400 series of highways” in Ontario..in referencing them:
the 400 is easy; and the 401 is not 4 oh 1, the 403 is not 4 O 3, nor is 4O7 correct!
They should be: Four Zero One...Four Zero Three...and Four Zero 7
Most Ontarions get these wrong!
In watching sports games, half of the announcers calling the game(s) will get it right (using baseball as an example)...3 Balls and Zero strikes...yet others state, re the count of 'balls and strikes' against batters: 2 and O. Even Dr. Phil gets it correct! Why are Canadians so lazy???
Because, like sheep, we follow others who err!

Positives and Negatives
Your positive actions combined with positive thinking results in success.
(Jenn Proske)
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.
(Hans Selye)

The Smart Ass
One day, a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old...and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. To everyone's amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovels later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw! With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing....he would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off...and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was stunned with amazement as the donkey stepped up over the well ledge and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you...all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to 'shake it off and take a step up.' Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stooping...never giving up! Shake it off...and take a step up!

The donkey, later came back and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.
The gash from the bite infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

MORAL: When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass,
it always comes back to bite you
(Thank you, Tom for submitting the foregoing parable)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 11, 2017
Comments appreciated: mbairdkerr@cogeco.ca or inezkate@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Canadians' DNA

Previously unknown to me,
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid...defined as a nucleic acid that contains the genetic code.
Figuratively, basic nature or qualities; one's makeup, constitution, essence, etc.

Dr. Dave Davis, a Dundas resident... retired physician, writer and speaker,
asks in a recent article,“What Makes Us Canadians?” and states,
We are bound together by common threads: Politeness. Diversity. Respect.”
(The following are excerpts from his writing)

It was a young woman who made me start asking the question, 'What makes a Canadian?' She and her daughters were visitors to a place in the North End. Standing in the doorway, her hands in the pockets of one of those puffy quilted coats...gray coloured. Thinking Thailand or Vietnam, I asked, 'Where are you from?' 'Locke Street,' she replied (or something close to it). After I rephrased the qusestion, she told me her country origin ~ South China as it turned out. Later on the drive back home, coffee in hand, I reflected on the woman's response, thinking...What makes us Canadian?

There are countless stories like this: A Canadian conversation between two guys at the grocery store, complaining about the Leafs, the national pastiime...one of their turbans was a bright blue. Syrian women joining a cooking class downtown Hamilton, learning to prepare 'Canadian' and their own recipes with local produce, creating a sort of Arab-Canadian fusion. There is strength in diversity. This is Canada, home of newcomers and original peoples...of bilingualism and beavers...of loonies and liberal policies (small L of course)...of multiculturalism and multiple complaints about our favourite sports teams...the home of immigrants, my parents for one, my wife's parents for another.

For the last several weeks, I've been asking people what they thought our distinguishing national traits are. The common answer, no surpirse, was politeness...a national feature if there ever was one. And once in U.S. where I think I don't have an accent, someone will say, 'You're a Canadian, aren't you?' Why? I say PRAWcess like a U.S. native, swallow those 'eh's', don't wear my Jays T-shirt. I am totally incognito, the invisible Canadian, but I still get spotted. Maybe it's in subtle things, like compromise. Figuring out what the other person thinks or feels. Respecting the other guy. Holding the door open to the 7-11 for the mother with her three young kids.

Unlike the nations of the yesterday, where people found common ties in their appearance...the fair freckled skin of the Scot, the broad serene face of the Finn...we are a nation of tomorrow, a fabric bound together by common threads. Politeness for one. Diversity for another. Respect for the other guy yet another...a kind of shared, common value as strong as the railroad that runs across our country.

We are, above all, a nation of the future. It's in our DNA. Oh, I got one other answer to the question, 'What Makes a Canadian?' contributed by my grandson, 10 years old, going on 25. 'Luck,' he said. For emphasis, 'Canadians are lucky.' He and the lady from Locke Street have it just right.
Canadians are the living demonstration of an idea
stronger than mortal genes and their short-lived expression.”

Canadian With a Mission ~ Pushing Limits

Cardinal Newman Teacher Riding Across Canada for Mental Health
(Excerpts from an article by Nicole O'Reilly)
Jim Zvonar is spending the summer seeing Canada from the seat of his bicycle ~ a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that is the fulfillment of a dream that began in his 20's. The trip is part of a 50th birthday celebration for the Catholic Secondary School physics teacher, whose birthday was July 30, but also has a purpose: to raise awareness and money for mental health.. At the writing of this article, he started in British Columbia...and made it to Northern Ontario.

Mental illness has touched his family deeply, first with the suicides of his uncle and cousin while Zvonar was in his teens...and the more recent death of his brother-in-law, who he knew since a boy.
Suicide and mental illness are difficult subjects to talk about,
but Zvonar said he wants to help reduce stigma and encourage others,
especially young people, to seek help early on.
Zvonar was hoping to raise at least One Dollar for Every Kilometre, so about $7,500. The money is going to the Suicide Prevention Community Council of Hamilton (SPCCH), to help fund youth-based mental health initiatives in local schools. “Over the past three years, the council has funded such programs in 36 schools in the Hamilton area,” said SPCCH chair Sid Stacey.“Jim is extremely passionate about helping to equip and empower youth, to recognize early warning signs and connect with the care and supports required to achieve positive mental health,” said Stacey.

Jim Zvonar's Purpose: “I'd like to provide inspiration for others to 'push thier limits and reach for their dreams.' I want them to take the leap and not be scared or hesitant about the unknown.”
The trip along the Trans Canada Highway will end
when he ceremoniously dips the tire of his bike in the Atlantic Ocean
at Cape Spear near St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Girl on the Train (in Morocco) Inspired Me
(Excerpts from a writing by Hughena Matheson who lives in Burlington)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has caused me embarrassment. On the international stage, he switches between English and French with such ease that people assume all Canadians speak both official languages fluently. I do not...and I am embarrassed about this.

Recently I travelled by train from Fes to Rabat. When a young Moroccan woman noticed my Maple Leaf pin, she greeted me in French. I replied in English...and effortly, she switched languages. She is fluent in Arabic and French (Morocco's official languages), also 'English and Spanish. In Morocco, as in Europe, being multilingual seems normal. However, in North America, where most people have the advantage of speaking English, there is not the same need or eagerness to learn other languages.
The girl on the train should inspire us...especially young Canadians.
With their careers ahead of them, speaking more than one language is an asset.
According to Ontario's Ministry of Education,
acquiring another language will 'increase their competitiveness
in an increasingly global job market.'
My nephew's sons are competitive already. Since birth, my nephew spoke to them in English and their mother spoke French to them. Now, at the age of 13 and 10, they are totally bilingual. In the future, if they want employment with the Federal Government, they can add bilingual to their resumes. Learning a second language also helps students to 'develop their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures.'With language learning comes the learning of another culture: its history, customs, religion, food, music and art.' In multicultural Canada, that should be encouraged.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...August 1, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Knowledge to Inspire Us!

Movie Titles...TV...and all forms of media
present “Captions” to attract our attention...
to incite us to read...and then upon which to possibly activate.

Did You Know?

Monday, August 7, 2017 is Joseph Brant Day...a day that pays tribute to one of Burlington's earliest settlers returns to La Salle Park. Since 1980, the first Monday in August (also known as Civic Holiday) has been proclaimed “ Joseph Brant Day” in Burlington, Ontario.
The famous Mohawk military and political leader, Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)
settled in what is now Burlington in the early 1800's.
Festivities kick off at the 50 North Shore Blvd. park with opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. followed by First Nations “pow wow dance” demonstrations...a Halton Dance Network interactive workshop... Curious Canadian Critter Show and the BarBlue Sea Band...in addition to an interactive First Nation drum circle. The festival is anticipated to run until approximately 4 p.m.

There will be many great live performances recognizing and respecting the history of First Nations and our neighbouring communities of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory...and the Mississaugas of the the New Credit...also will include a 'smudge ceremony'.

Wednesday, August 9: Canada's 150 Train to Celebrate with music! CPRail''s 150 Train will be rolling into town. The F-uit diesel locomotaive CP 1401 will lead the train as it travels across the country and stops in Hamilton from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The free event will be held at Gage Park...featuring entertainment from Canadian country singer, Dean Brody and Aboriginal hoop dancer Dallas Arcand...as well as family-friendly activities for kids. The show will start at 6 p.m. The train and its more than 10 restored Royal Canadian Pacific heritage cars are meant to reconnect generations of Canadians to celebrate the country's 150th birthday.-

Enforcement is Deterring Waterfall Mishaps: Firefighters have responded to 13 calls for high-angle-rope rescues so far this year. By-law officers have handed out 7 fines for trespassing past Danger signs around Hamilton's waterfall cascades. It will take more than 2 hours for 'specially-trained firefighters' to set up and use a series of nylon ropes and safety gear to pull a woman and 3 others to the top this past weekend. Of the 13 calls, 8 times, Hamilton firefighters had to actually use a harness or stretcher to lift someone out. Last year, these men received 29 calls...23 of which ended in rope rescues.
These people ignore Danger Warnings and now Trespassing signage...
including additional fencing...and going off the 'official trails'.
City bylaw has handed out seven fines ~ a zero-tolerance $130 penalty ~ in the first 2 weeks since increasing enforcement against trespassers at Albion Falls.

(From this writer's viewpoint and as suggested in The Spec's 'Readers Write' more than once,
those needing rescue should Pay the Full Price of the Rescue Services required!!!)

Did You Know?
Injury Stops DeGrasse at World's ~ No Final Showdown with Bolt: Our Canadian sprinter will miss the upcoming world championships due to a torn hamstring....which he suffered at a recent training session. He comments, “While I'm in the best shape of my life and extremely disappointed that I will not have the chance to compete for my country in London...I can't forget or be ungrateful for the successes that I've been blessed with up to this point in my career.
I'll be back stronger and faster than ever.”
The 22-year-old from Markham was due to race against Usain Bolt (of Jamaica) in the 100 metre final at London Olympic Stadium. Bolt, an 11-time world champion, plans to retire after the worlds. DeGrasse was supposed to open the worlds with 100-heats on Friday before the final on Saturday.

Prince Philip, 96, Takes His Last Official Bow: For over 65 years, he has been the unwavering presence alongside the Queen and royal representative. On Wednesday, Prince Philip made his 22,219th and final 'solo public engagement' braving heavy rain to meet Royal Marines at Buckingham Palace.
Also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he will appear at the Queen's side...from time to time..as the 91-year-old monarch soldiers on. He is acting patron, president or a member of 780 organizations with which he will continue to be associated.
Two years after WWII ended, Philip married Princess Elizabeth
at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26.
Renouncing his Greek title, King George VI made him Duke of Edinburgh.

Hamilton's No. 3 in Canada for Young Adults Living with Parents: Wednesday's2 016 census statistics show 44.5 % of local adults between the ages of 20 and 34 lived with parents. “Unsteady work and spiking cost of accommodation are behind that figure,” said Wayne Newchuk, a McMaster professor who studies precarious employment. The Hamilton census also includes Burlington and Grimsby. Across Canada, between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of young adults living at home rose 34.7% from 30.6%. Ontario had the highest rate of young adults living with their parents in Canada at 42.1%...or more than two in five, Statistics Canada noted in a brief Wednesday.
Lewchuk said the trend reflects the 'general malaise' in the labour market.
Wages have not kept up with inflation for 30 years, he added.

Did You Know?
Arabic, Chinese Languages Most Spoken at Home...here after English: Italian has been taken over by Arabic...according to the latest census data. Last year, 6,345 respondents identified Arabic as the language most often spoken in their household, compared to Italian at 5,100 reflecting a significant change since 2011. The Italian community was a large immigrant group in the '40s to '70s in the City of Hamilton. Arabic saw a surge of 60% between 2006 and 2016. Conversely, Italian dropped by 34% over the same period. Newcomers from the Middle East and Africa who speak Arabic have settled here. Between late 2015 and early this year, nearly 1,500 Syrian refugees made Hamilton their home.
English, however, still reigns as the language spoken most often
in most Hamilton households at 444,470.

You Sure You Know What's in That Sausage? A federally funded study has found that 20% of sausages sampled from grocery stores across Canada contained meats that weren't on the label. About 1 in 5 of the sausages tested, had some off-label ingredients in them. Seven of 27 beef sausages examined in the study contained pork. One of 38 supposedly pure pork suasages contained horse meat. Of 20 chicken sausages, four also contained turkey and one also had beef. Five of 15 turkey sausages studied had no turkey at all.
We know what we are...but know not what we may be. (William Shakespeare)
Not knowing where I'm going,
 is what inspires me to travel it. (Rosalia de Castro)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written August 4, 2017

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Refugee Success

Hamilton's Long History of Welcoming Immigrants and Refugees
(The following are excerpts from a recent Spectator article)
Hamilton has long been one of Canada's top destinations for people coming from somewhere else ~ by their own choice as immigrants, or out of necessity as refugees. Nearly half of Hamilton residents 65 years of age and older were born outside Canada...a testament to the city's legacy as a major industrial employer during the 1950's, '60's and '70's.

During the 1800's, immigrants to Hamilton came predominantly from Ireland, Scotland and England. The overwhelming numbers of refugees now passing through Buffalo's Vive Centre to Canada has been likened to a modern-day-Underground Railroad. Back in the mid-1800's Hamilton was an important stop on the original Underground Railroad for blacks escaping from slavery in the United States. Hundreds of black people settled in Hamilton during that time, including a thriving community on Concession Street on the Mountain that was dubbed 'Little Africa'.

In the early part of the 20th century, the main sources of immigrants were Italy, Poland and Hungary. After WWII, there was a massive influx of immigrants from Italy and Portugal. In the past half-century, refugees have been a large proportion of the city's newcomers. During the 1970's, the principal source of refugees was Vietnam. More recently, Hamilton's refugees have come from Myanmar, Somalia, Kosovo, Colombia, Iraq, Honduras, El Salvdor and Afghanistan.
From late 2015 to early 2017, Hamilton also became home
for nearly 1,500 refugees from Syria.

Feeling Lucky! Afew years ago I read about an Italian who immigrated to Canada with his wife and family. He used his work skills to financially support his family...working often 60-hour weeks in an industry. He persevered to get established...enabling him to have money in the bank 'for a rainy day' as Canadians say. A fellow-worker one day commented to him, “You're so lucky to have a good job and incoming salary!” To which our Italian stated, “Yes...I've been very lucky!”

Arriving in Canada
Shortly after midnight on 31 December 2015, Iman and Zaher Ahmad and their two young daughters arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada after a 14-hour flight from Beirut.
They didn't speak English...not a word!
There was confusion as they were moved into lines with other Syrians to be processed by immigration officials at Canada's largest airport. Their only possessions...other than their documents...were parka coats, winter boots and teddy bears issued by Canadian officials. They were put on a bus and taken to a hotel to sleep...then awoken by strangers a few hours later and told they must return to the airport for the final leg of their journey to a place called Ottawa. They didn't know where it was.

After a problem with their documents that delayed them for 12 hours, the family finally arrived at Ottawa's much smaller airport that evening...unsure of their next move. Peering down from the top of the escalator overlooking the baggage carousels, Zaher saw their names on a sign in Arabic...and a big group of people who began crying and cheering as they slowly approached. The 38 people turned out to be the family's sponsoring group who had come to welcome the Ahmads to their new home.

In 6 months since Iman and Zaher's arrival, laughter echoes from their two-storey duplex, not far from downtown Ottawa. The family is celebrating Eid al-Fitr which marks the end ofRamadan fast...with 4 of their Canadian sponsors. “In Lebanon, Eid is a small affair,” says Iman. “Here it is big and very exciting...and people from many countries.” It is just one of the cultural adjustments she has made as a new Canadian. For Iman and Zaher and the girls, their sponsored group has become the equivalent of their extended family in Canada. “They make me feel that Canada is my country now.”

Settling in Canada
William Worked Hard for His 'Luck!'
Jeff Mahoney from The Hamilton Spectator wrote April 25, 2017
about William Uwimana, his wife Nina, son Brent and Daughter Gabriella.

It's been a wildly busy last few years for William Uwimana, Canadian. (Via Burundi, and a Kenyan refugee camp, where on top of everything, he was stung by a scorpion.)

Since 2012, when he was 27, he has earned his high school certificate; he got married; brought his wife and first child here (he had not met little Brent until then); took special training to learn welding, hydraulics, electrical, blueprinting and CAD; fell in love with Canada; did co-op placements; gave a speech that moved Cesare DiDonato to the core.

He has worked...first as a labourer, a cleaner, a forklift operator, a seasonal employee in Niagara Falls (whatever he could find)...and more recently as a machinist in Stoney Creek. He has worked like a man possessed and he has been by the desire to achieve and to move past the trauma of the first half of his life...for himself and his family. He knew he had to position himself for something better!
One afternoon he saw a poster for something called ELATE
(Entry Level Advantage To Employment.
It was job training through the Industry Education Council (IEC) of Hamilton at Mohawk College. He applied himself diligently and completed the program where he specialized in machining, electrical and welding skills. From Mohawk, he got his High School Diploma. Cesare DiDonato, (IEC's executive director explains, “At the end of the training, William did an eight-week-co-op placement at LP Custom Machining in Stoney Creek. He did so well, they hired him...and he's now workng on his apprenticeship as a machinist.”

The family had been separated in the chaos of the civil war in Burundi and his mother managed to make her way to Canada. She sponsored William and his brother...and in 2012 they arrived. William worked from the moment he arrived...unstoppably, first in Fort Erie then moving to Hamilton...where there were more opportunites and more jobs.
Study-Work-Study! has been the way for Burundi native who states,
I LOVE CANADA”

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...July 13, 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

"Girls ~ Believe in Yourself!"

Sophia Gregoire Trudeau kicked off a
United Nations-led girls' conference in Washington.
Submitted by Sean Kilpatrick of The Canadian Press,
the following are excerpts from his article.

Washington: Sophia Gregoire began with a pep talk, urging young women to believe in themselves and in their ability to shape the world. The prime minister's wife referred to her own past eating disorder and talked about the ways young girls often lack confidence in their appearance or in their ability.

She opened the Girl Up Leadership Summit Monday, urging hundreds of young women in attendance to 'fight back against that lack of confidence.' She also promoted Canadian international development programs tailored to helping women. Gregoire said, “It's a basic economic truism that societies with empowered women are more prosperous.”

When women rise, men rise as well...it's based on facts. We've more women in the boardroom...more women in classrooms...more women in community life. We can inject peace and compassion.”
She received an ovation from the crowd at the beginning and at the end.

She concluded by paraphrasing the South Asian-Canadian poet Rupi Kaur,
who wrote about her heart aching for sisters more than anything.
My heart aches for women helping women...like flowers ache for spring,” Gregoire Trudeau said. “You are loved, girls...I wish you could see just how beautiful you are...
and how possible it is to 'self-love...and be at peace .”

Farah Mohamed's G(irls) 20
A Canadian citizen, living in Toronto for many years, who is the “Founder, Advisor and CEO of G(irls)20” which galvanizes the world's greatest resource ~ girls and women ~ and cultivates a new generation of leaders through education, entrepreneurship and global experience. Farah knows the power of making an impact at a national and international level.
As a small girl she immigrated with her family
from Uganda to Canada, settling in Southern Ontario.

Through Farah's G(irls)20, launched in 2009, she organizes an annual global 'summit' that takes place in the G20 host country with one delegate from each G20 country plus a representative from the European and African Unions, from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the MENA region. Delegates participate in workshops focused on building their skills in technology, entrepreneurism, community and leadership. The past 'summits' have taken place in Toronto, Canada...in Paris, France...Mexico City...Moscow, Russia...Sydney, Australia...and Instanbul, Turkey.
Like me, you may question what the '20' represents.
I contacted her mother, Dilu ( a personal friend who resides in Burlington),
the significance of '20'...I had guessed, concluding it may be for the 20th century.
No,” she advises me, “At each annual 'summit 'Farah invites 20 representatives
to attend the host country for G(irls)20.”

The Malala Fund: Of this charity located in England, Farah is the CEO. Designed for every girl in the world to Learn and Lead without fear. “Malala is a Pakistani student and education activist who began speaking out for girls' education at the age of 11. After surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban at age 15...and residing now in the UK with her family, she co-founded The Malala Fund with her father in 2014. She is the youngest ever 'Nobel Laureate'. Malala Fund champions every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
Malala and Farah state: “We believe girls are the best investment
in future peace and prosperity.”

Government Supporting Women's Rights...and another issue re 'Bishop lashes Liberals over abortion'.
A Dundas resident responds: Canada's government should be complimented for supporting women's rights for contraceptives and abortions. The planet, that bishops claim was created by their God, cannot handle the increasing mass of Homo sapiens. The irresponsibility of the Catholic bishops to encourage this mess is creating famines...and ultimately the problem will be solved by bombs if they have their way. Already, we are watching the massive decrease and in some cases the disappearance of other species God created. The phrase, “Be fruitful and multiply” should be removed from Genesis.
Oath of Today's Girl
I have a brilliant heart and a beautiful mind...I am Me: a perfectly flawed, beautiFULL work in progress, I promise to lift other girls up...have their backs...and make it safe for them to be exactly who they are. I am on a mission to raise the standards for how we treat each other...how we treat ourselves...and how we treat the world. Every time I look in the mirror, I'll remind myself that I'm not alone...that I'm beautiful...that my voice matters...that I'll be enough to have an impact on others!”
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent!

Information compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...July 20, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Birthdays are Momentous Occasions

Humans celebrate, annually the year, the month and the day
on which they were born.
When considered, that special day is actually the first day of the following year...
because the given date celebrates the days lived and enjoyed previously.

Definition of Birth: The act of coming into life; the backround or lineage.

Isn't it great that “Canada 150” is a recognized and advertised celebration for the entire year in which we live: 2017...365 days! Canada offers us much...and pondering this, I ask,
What Can We Offer as a Gift to honour our homeland's Birthday”?

Glen Peloso, who offers suggestions, wrote: As our country marks a milestone 
150th, consider these five uniquely Canadian home accessories that are enjoyed
and often emulated, around the world.

Group of Seven: Renowned around the world, artworks by masters of Canada's Group of Seven are iconic in their depiction of our country. Most of us, though, could never afford originals. Lawren Harris's Mountain Forms from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection sold for a record $11.6 million in November 2016. Instead, celebrate 'Canada 150' by adding a good reproduction to your home...or as a gift to family and/or friends. I love the icy details of Harris's Mt. Lefroy. Reproductions of the painting run from $5 up to $200 in McMichael' s online gift shop. As well, the gallery, in Kleinburg, celebrates Canada with a festival.

Moose: A well-recognized creature of the Canadian fabric...from highway crossing signs and commemorative coins...to a notable and well-loved beer company. Home decor has gravitated toward reproductions of mounted animal heads, so consider a moose mug to mark our 150th. These various and artistic styles of heads suit a range of room decor, from a mere sophisticated look, often done in ceramic, metal and origami; to kid's rooms with stuffed animals designed to hang on the wall. This kid's collection from HomeSense is playful and gives parents a wonderful opportunity to discuss Canada's heritage.

Muskoka Chairs: Why not sit back and enjoy Canada Day in the comfort of a Muskoka chair? The wide arms are almost a side table, offering a two-in-one value. The chairs were originally designed in 1903 by Thomas Lee and became a staple at Muskoka lakes' cottages; eventually, all of the rest of the country caught on. Synonomous with Canada, the enduring design is now available in cedar, plastic, pine and metal...and is made by a range of manufacturers...but the one most common to the Muskoka lakes is still made by the same company: Muskoka Chair Company.

HBC 'Point' Blanket: Recognized around the world, its iconic green, red, yellow and indigo stripes have come to a testament of Canada's shared heritage. These blankets are created in the traditional European weaver's 'point' style...with short black lines above the bottom set of stripes that tell how big the blanket is while still folded. Originally commissioned by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1810, the blankets are 100 per cent wool and (ironically) still made in England...this year's blankets bear a special crest. This is the kind of blanket you pass from generation to generation.

Neighbourhoods alight: The Vancouver Candle Co. celebrates Vancouver and Toronto with candles named after communities in these cities. Made of a soy-wax blend, each has its own scent and comes in two sizes...one that burns for 30 hours and another that lasts 60 hours. These make great “Happy Birthday, Canada!” gifts to take to a Canada Day party in a neighbourhood that was used as the namesake for the candle. If your budget isn't up to a chair or a blanket, this is a great choice. The glass container can be kept as a souvenir of the celebration.
(Glen Peloso is a principal designer of Peloso Alexander Interiors,
national design editor of Canadian Home Trends magazine
and a design expert on the Marilyn Denis Show on CTV.)

Appreciative Gifts
Tokens of Thanks: When my daughter was equestrian riding, she along with other teens from her stable, travelled to 'out of Canada Horse Shows'. Our riders were billeted by families in the 'show area'. Always we sent a gift for the 'host family'. “Canadiana” was the theme of any gifts I sent with her...and the most loved by a family in Caracas, was a set of small totem poles, artfully crafted and painted.

When visiting American friends over a period of a few years, I'd take bottles of Niagara wine, a hand -crafted Canadian pillow, an Afghan I'd crocheted...all greatly enjoyed. The senior of the family told me of his love for Canada's maple trees. Upon next visit, I took a pair of framed prints byThe Group of Seven. One of course was A. Y. Jackson's 'The Red Maple' which he painted of a young maple growing beside the Ox Tonque river rapids in Algonquin Park; the other was The White Pine painted (in northern Ontario I believe) by A. J. Casson. (Naturally these were not 'numbered prints' but bought in a small gift shop in Oakville). Nevertheless, these became beloved art pictures of CANADA!

The Tree in a Land of Forests
(excerpts from an article by Jim Polin, published in The Hamilton Spectator)
Ah, “The West Wind.” Out of seemingly solid granite, a pine tree defiantly emerges, giving rise to a painter and, along the way, adding definition to a country. “The West Wind” is said to be among Tom Thomson's final canvases and considered among his greatest works...a painting that defined an artist and arguably the spirit of the country.
One hundred years ago today, Thomson disappeared...
his body surfaced on Canoe Lake eight days later on July 16.
His death in Ontario's Algonquin Park remains a mystery.
Did he tip his canoe and accidentally drown? Was he involved in a quarrel and murdered after being struck on the head with a paddle...the lake and his canoe used merely as cover-up props?
Tom Thomson, at age 39 was part of an emerging art movement
that gave rise to the Group of Seven.

Even 100 years later, a person can hike, drive or paddle to spots in Ontario to see what Thomson saw. You can portage to spots in Algonquin Park...walk the Oxtongue River or wade the shorelines of Canoe Lake where his pigment and passion came together. Thomson's anniversary allows us to pause for an artist who was timeless. He lived close to the ground...and felt the rain and the wind...and saw beauty in dead branches. The early critics were wrong about him and his fledgling artist friends.

Thomson left us much, including The West Wind,”
the tree in the forest ...a sweeping tree in a land known for its forests.

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...July 8, 2017