Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Symphonic Balcony

Last eve, the thunder was a portent!
...”do we need this rain?” I ask.
Mother Nature must so believe!
The clouds dropped a steady drizzle
before pelting down on tarmac, grass and windows.

The morn wakened with a promise of sun.
I ope' the balcony door...feeling the air.
I notice the raindrops...like jewels
hung from the railings, table and chairs...
predicting, “It'll be...a fine weather day!”

I'm knitting socks so colourfully striped
~ the blues, the greys, raspberry and gold ~
for a friend who loves warm feet when she's a-bed.
With a cup of hot coffee, I step outside...
with cushions to pad the wrought iron chair.

The size 12 needles joyfully knit.
I lovingly observe the progression of colours.
The coffee...it stimulates me
as I contemplate and muse...many thoughts.
'Tis a reverie (requiem-like) ~ an aura of pleasant solitude.

The sun is golden and the clouds puff proudly.
The light zephre breeze...gently wafts.
The branches sway with welcoming arms.
The birds, they sing...as in a chorus of voices
with “arias” by soloists in the green leafy trees.

The soprano sings, “Free-dom, Free-dom, Free-dom” from a faraway tree.
The contralto responds with her “Chicory, Chicory,Chic”.
The tenor adds chirps of “Paree, Paree, Paree”.
With his basso-profundo, “Caw, Caw,Caw,” rasply sung by a jet black crow.
A woodpecker,”Ch, Ch, Ch, Ch, Ch's” from his maple abode
and the mourning dove trills with “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.”.

There's much repetition of message(s).
Performing in concert, they echo their songs,
like actors on stage in a wooded scene.
They serenade me with gladness and harmony plus.
They believe I'm a “bird”, perched on Balcony Three!

The breezes gain strength and the branches strongly wave.
Soon the bird voices quiet...sense impending rain.
A couple greyish clouds now menace the sky.
Then a rolling thunder rumble interrupts the peace.
Janine and her doggie ...cease their sauntering walk.
I rescue my cup, yarn and needles...fearing rain, like the birds.
Thunder again! The sun hides from view!

Briefly...the interlude concludes.
The menacing clouds...had quickly scudded.
Through the opening sky, the sun burst forth.
Gather knitting craft and sun glasses,
I retreat...to my Third Floor Perch
overlooking...the green leafy trees!

(Idea...and phrases came to mind as I knitted and purled;
these I jotted on paper as dictated by the happenings;
too good to “let go”, I created “this almost silly writing”.)

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 23, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Reflections of the Sky Nation

The Thunder-beings were busy giving birth to new clouds, sending them to dance in the blue playground of sky. Grandfather Sun provided the glittering sunbeams, which acted like jump ropes for today's newborn white, puffy Cloud People.

One of the most curious little clouds wandered off on the winds. She decided she was going to have a talk with Sacred Mountain. “Grandmother Mountain, I've come to ask you if your forests need rain today,” she said. “I want to be of service, and so I thought I had better find out what is needed most.”

Sacred Mountain told the little cloud that there was plenty of moisture today, but the little one could help in another way. Sacred Mountain taught the little cloud how to understand the thoughts and questions that the human beings were having. It was fun for the little cloud to capture the waves of human thoughts rising from the Earth and to answer the humans' unspoken questions by becoming shapes that formed a series of ideas. The needed answers were found through the linking ideas.

The little cloud approached Sacred Mountain at the end of the day with another question that caused Cloud to have a heavy heart. “Grandmother Mountain, I've worked hard all day to reflect helpful answers to the Human Tribe, but now I have one very important question. How can I get them to look up and pay attention?”

Merle Baird-Kerr
written June 12, 2011

Isn't this delightful?

In the opening of my blog in early March (2011),
“Introduction” to The Kaleidoscope of Life reads,
Various patterns and colours can be seen which I equate to Life! 
With every 'turn' of the road, we face a new experience.
 Circumstances affect us... either positively or negatively.”

Most articles published are personal to me...which I share with you.
Hopefully, you enjoy and appreciate
the drama, the excitement, the disappointments, the humour I write.

In research of supporting facts, I discover other valuable information
which profoundly stirs my emotions and mind...as in Native American Indians.
I learned much about their culture and philosophies!
I trust you have been inspired with this series...and are also impressed.
I sincerely welcome your comments.

To crown the completion of “my Indians”, I recommend you view
a beautiful website...depicting art work on feathers...Magnificent!
Top 10 Amazing Paintings on Feathers” by Julie Thompson.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Wolves ~ A Cherokee Parable

An old Cherokee Chief was teaching his grandson about life...

A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One is evil ~ he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies,
false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego.

The other is good ~ he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you
and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather,
Which wolf will win?”

The old Chief simply replied,
The one you feed.”

(Author Unknown)

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 25, 2011

The final article in the series of Native American Indians is:
Reflections of the Sky Nation.
(posting ~  Sunday,  June 26th)

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Twenty Third Psalm ` Indian Version

I am His, and with Him I want not.
He throws out to me a rope
and the name of the rope is love;
and He draws me to where the grass is green
and the water is not dangerous;
and I eat and lie down and am satisfied.
Sometimes my heart is very weak and falls down,
but He lifts me up again and draws me into a good road.
His name is WONDERFUL

Sometimes, it may be very soon, it may be a long long time,
He will draw me into a valley.
It is dark there, but I'll be afraid not,
for it is between those m mountains
that the SHEPHERD CHIEF will meet me
and the hunger that I have in my heart
all through life will be satisfied.

Sometimes, He makes the love rope into a whip;
but afterwards He gives me a staff to lean upon.
He spreads a table before me with all kinds of food.
He puts His hand upon my head
and all the “tired” is gone.

My cup He fills till it runs over.
What I tell is true. I lie not.
These roads that are “away ahead” will stay with me
through this life and after;
and afterwards, I will go to live in the Big Tepee
and sit down with the SHEPHERD CHIEF forever.

(Author Unknown)


Two Wolves ~ A Cherokee Parable
will be the next  publication in this series...
truly a poignant illustration of Life!

Merle Baird-Kerr

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Canada and Our United States


(Written to a World War II Veteran whose friendship I cherish.)

As early as 1700, the Maple Leaf began to serve as a symbol celebrating Canada's nature and environment. The leaf is a Sugar Maple,
native to Canada and has brilliant fall foliage.

In 1921 King George V proclaimed the official colours of Canada as Red from Saint George's Cross and White from the French royal emblem
(since King Charles VII),

The First Nations of the prairies knew that the Mounties, dressed in Red, represented someone different than the blue-coated American cavalry.

The Hudson Bay Company always flew a Red flag over its forts.


The official flag inauguration was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965 with Governor-General Vanier,
Prime Minister Lester Pearson, the members of the cabinet
and thousands of Canadians in attendance.

Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Maurice Bourget declared,
“The flag is a symbol of the nation’s unity,
for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada
without distinction of race, language or opinion.”

The Maple Leaf in the middle, is a symbol that has much meaning to both the frontier and pioneer history of Canada. The two red fields on each side symbolize the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans following the motto,
“Ad mare usque as mare.” (from sea to sea).

The Maple Leaf features a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. The width of the Maple Leaf Flag is twice its height. The white field is a Canadian pale (a square centred band in a vertical triband flag named after this flag) and each bordering red field is exactly half its size. In the centre of the white field
is a red Maple Leaf.

Of interest, Canadian school children have commented that
to draw the Canadian Flag with one Maple Leaf 
is much easier than the American students having to draw 50 stars.


I comment here, that my mother's heritage was from Pennsylvania (German)
and my father's from The Thirteen Colonies (British)
whose later descendents immigrated to Ontario.

The Eagle was adapted from the Greek emblem of Rome...the Eagle Standard.

Congress viewed the infant republic as a future giant in resources
and world influence.
The Native Americans called the Eagle the Thunderbird or Lightning Bird.
The American Eagle, traditionally ruler of the heights of freedom
is fiercely independent and protective of its young.
The Eagle, with its keen and piercing insight, also symbolizes birth and renewal.

Congress, in 1782 returned to a sketch of a bald eagle, drawn by the brother of a Philadelphia naturalist, who agreed that the raptor represents supreme power and authority. Charles Thompson devised a new seal, officially adopted as the emblem of United States in 1787...and is still in use today, appearing on coinage. The Eagle is a symbol of strength, grace, elegance and freedom.


...consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (both top and bottom) alternately with white...with a blue rectangle in the canton (referred to specifically as the “union”) having 50 small white five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternately with rows of five stars. The 50 stars represent the fifty states and the thirteen stripes represent the 13 colonies that became the first States of the Union.

Nicknames for the Flag include: The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory
and The Star Spangled Banner.

The Flag, originally adopted June 14, 1777 showcased the 13-star version.
On July 4, 1960, the flag was adapted to the current 50 stars.


We share, as countries, a rich heritage, a scenic-scape
from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.
The southern States border on the Gulf of Mexico.
Canada's Northern Territories border the Arctic Ocean.
Canada and the United States share 
the world's longest undefended border boundary on land...
5,061 kilometres (3,145 miles).

From pioneer and frontier days,
both countries today have populations of Indian tribes, European, 
African and Asian peoples whose cultures remain diverse
...creating a tapestry of languages, customs and colours.

Your eastern state of rolling hills, streams and forests has captured
my love of your environment
as the escarpment corner of my province has captivated you.

Your childhood and teenage years in New York City
has vastly contrasted to mine of rural farmlands and small cities.

At a crucial time in history, you served your country exceedingly well in the US Army...then later developing  sound business acumen to support your family. Mine was to pursue education as a means of becoming independent and 
contributing to the community in which I lived;
then with a yearly income to seek and develop skills in various interest fields.

Through marriages and children, we have both benefited
from our family experiences...
adjusting to unexpected disappointments and revelling in achievements along Life's Journey.

Merle Baird-Kerr     September 26, 2010

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why We Love Canada

125 Birthday Countdown
Why We Love Canada

WE CANADIANS don't make a huge show of our love for Canada.
But if your response to our request for short essays on “Why I Love Canada”
is any indication, the still waters of your affection run as deep as Lake Superior.
Young and old, long-time Canadians and new arrivals, you share an enthusiasm
for your country that may surprise those who think
we never wear our patriotism on our sleeve.

Until June 30, we're running a daily sample of your thoughts
to help mark the 125th anniversary of Canada.

This request appeared in the local Burlington Post in June 1992...
to which I responded:

Diverse Land and People

I love Canada for her diverse landscapes ... from her eastern shoreline waters to Ontario's green rolling hills and escarpment rockfaces, the prairies for their golden grain fields, the lofty snow peaks of the Rockies and British Columbia's rugged coastline!

I love Canada for her diverse businesses and industries, from fishing coves and deep waters to products from the land, ore from her mines to metropolitan commerce and trade.

I love Canada for her diverse peoples and respective cultures, all unified under the name of Canadians. It is inspiring to meet, to observe and hear about their introductions to Canada.

This is the pulse that makes our Canada click and succeed in the eyes of the world.
Canada's Centennial Celebration was in 1967.
Canada Day is July 1 each year.

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 1992

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fond Memories of Burlington

Readers asked to Recall Fondest Memories of Burlington

Happy Birthday, Burlington!
We think you look pretty good for your 125 years.
There's no question that, over time, you have changed significantly.
From a village to a town to a major city you have seen a lot in your day.
You have been through wars, a Depression, a recession and economic booms.
You have watched the decades come and go, each of them so vastly different from the last.
Yet, you endure and keep pace with technological advances
and seem more than eager to embrace each new set of challenges.

We are sure there are many Burlington Post readers
who have special or fond memories about the city we call home.
Perhaps it's a story about growing up here during the 50's
or may be, you obtained your first job here.
Whatever your reason, we would love to hear from you.
In 500 words or less, the Post invites its readers
to submit short stories about why Burlington is so special to them.
Deadline for entries is Friday, March 27.  (1998)

Following is the essay I submitted to the Burlington Post.

Burlington, I always considered a wonderful lakeside city of appeal, class and distinction ... one of those cities where I'd really love to work and live. So, with a son two and a half years old, my husband working at Stelco Research Centre, it was the summer of 1967 that we moved from the east Hamilton Mountain to this fine City of Opportunity!

Every Christmas season, we drove along Northshore Boulevard and Lakeshore Road just to admire the beauty of these residences ... snow laden branches, the profusion of coloured lights and spotlights on homes and lawn displays, pillars at the street with ribbon-tied evergreen and pine cones.. It was wonderful to know that we lived in this city with such a magical setting ... an unparalleled location with a panorama of escarpment, lake and bay, the travel of ships from the Great Lakes and abroad. We spent many, many family summer hours along the sand beach stretching from Spencer Smith Park to the lift bridge with view of the Skyway towering over the canal from lake to bay and its harbour.

Our son grew up attending schools in Aldershot, learning to skate at Kiwanis Arena; and with a cut-down iron club, he joined Dorothy and me weekly on Camisle's 9-hole course...hitting a few balls and putting the greens. Local ski lessons put him on the slopes and into downhill racing. School bands instilled in him a keen music appreciation. Post-secondary education at The University of Windsor qualified him a degree in Computer Science. Today, Burlington reaps the benefit of his skills in software programming for a local consulting firm. On the romantic side, it was Burlington where he met “the girl of his dreams” who in 1992 became his wife.

Our daughter also benefited from the recreational programs offered in the city ... swimming and obtaining her Junior badge at an unusually early age ... figure skating and roller skating ... with a few levels of dance (study of jazz at the Burlington Dance Academy) ... and gymnastics. She excelled as an equestrian rider and represented Canada in numerous out-of-country horse jumping events.

For me, Burlington has been a wonderful place to raise my children and an  open door to explore and challenge other interests ... learning new skills. While home with my children, I joined The Colour Photographic Club ... gleaning more knowledge about picture composition, lighting and photo essays. As time permitted, I canvassed for local politicians at election times. Through courses with Verna Williams I studied fashion co-ordinating, then developed the art of staging and presenting complete fashion shows. For two or three years I returned to the education field as a “supply teacher”.

As the saying goes, “the rest is history”. No full time teaching positions available, so I donned a suit and hat, beginning a new career in real estate as a Sales Representative. Through this profession I have met many wonderful clients, listened to their needs and interests, helping them to achieve their dreams. It is very rewarding to match homes with people and their pocketbooks ... the end result is the remuneration for what one successfully accomplishes. Through these over twenty years, my trademark has been The Hat which people have identified in the various media of real estate publicity.

Most recently, I have co-sponsored city gardens along main avenues of the city and Christmas displays yearly at Spencer Smith Park's “Lakeside Festival of Lights.”.

I love Burlington, this City of Opportunity ... for it has offered to everyone in my family many “opportunities “ and moments, hours and years...to live, to work, to love and expand personal horizons.

Merle Baird-Kerr
March 1998

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Seven Philosophies for a Native American Man

First Philosophy ~ TO THE WOMEN
The cycle of life for the woman is the baby, girl, woman and grandmother.
These are the four directions of life.
She has been given by natural laws the ability to reproduce life ~
the most sacred of all things in life.
Therefore, all men should treat her with dignity and respect.
Never was it our way to harm her mentally or physically. Indian men were
never abusers. We always treated our women with respect and understanding.
So, from now on,
I will treat women in a sacred manner.
The Creator gave women the responsibility for bringing new life into the world.
Life is sacred, so I will look upon women in a sacred manner.
In our traditional ways, the woman is the foundation of the family.
I will work with her to create a home atmosphere of respect, security and harmony.
I will refrain from any form of emotional or physical abuse.
If I have feelings, I will talk to the Creator for guidance.
I will treat all women as if they were my own female relatives.
This I vow.

Second Philosophy ~ TO THE CHILDREN
As an eagle prepares its young to leave the nest with all the skills and knowledge
it needs to participate in life, in the same manner so, I will guide my children.
I will use the culture to prepare them for life.
The most important thing I can give to my children is my time.
I will spend time with them in order to learn them and to listen to them.
I will teach my children to pray, as well as the importance of respect.
We are the caretakers of the children for the Creator. They are his children, not ours.
I am proud of our Native language. I will learn it if I can and help my children to learn it.
In today's world it is easy for the children to go astray,
so I will work to provide positive alternatives for them.
I will teach them the culture.
I will encourage education. I will encourage sports. I will encourage them to talk
with the Elders for guidance; but mostly, I will seek to be a role model myself.
I make this commitment to my children so they will have courage
and fine guidance through traditional ways.

Third Philosophy ~ TO THE FAMILY
The Creator gave to us the family, which is the place where all teachings are handed down from the grandparent to the parent and to the child. The children's behaviour is a mirror of the parents' behaviour. Knowing this, I realize the importance for each Indian man to be responsible to the family in order to fulfil the need to build a strong and balanced family. By doing this,I will break the cycle of hurt and ensure the positive mental health of our children, even the children yet to be born.
So, from now on,
I will dedicate my priorities to rebuilding my family.
I must never give up and leave my family only to the mother.
I am accountable to restore the strength of my family. To do this, I will nurture our family's spiritual, cultural and social health. I will demonstrate trust, respect, honour and discipline; but mostly I will be consistent in whatever I do with them. I will see that the grandparents and community Elders play a significant role in the education of my children.
I realize that the male and female together are fundamental to our family life. I will listen to my mate's counsel for our family's benefit, as well as for the benefit of my Indian nation.

Fourth Philosophy ~ TO THE COMMUNITY
The Indian community provides many things for the family. The most important is the sense of belonging; that is, to belong to “the people”, and to have a place to go. Our Indian communities need to be restored to health so the future generation will be guaranteed a place to go for culture, language and Indian socializing. In the community, the honour of one is the honour of all and the pain of one is the pain of all. I will work to strengthen recovery in all parts of my community.
As an Indian man,
I will give back to my community by donating my time and talents when I am able.
I will cultivate friendships with other Indian men for mutual support and strength.
I will consider the effects of our decisions on behalf of the next seven generations;
in this way, our children and grandchildren will inherit healthy communities.
I will care about those in my community so that the mind changes, alcohol and drugs
will vanish...and our community will forever be free of violence.
If each of us can do all these things, then others, will follow; ours will be a proud community.

Fifth Philosophy ~ THE EARTH
Our Mother Earth is the source of all life, whether it be plants, the two-legged, four-legged ones or human beings. The Mother Earth is the greatest teacher, if we listen, observe and respect her. When we live in harmony with the Mother Earth, she will recycle the things we consume and make them available to our children. As an Indian man, I must teach my children how to care for the Earth so it is there for the future generations.
So from now on,
I realize Earth is our Mother. I will treat her with honour and respect.
I will honour the interconnectedness of all things and all forms of life.
I will realize the Earth does not belong to us, but that we belong to the Earth.
The natural law is the ultimate authority upon the lands and water.
I will learn the knowledge and wisdom of the natural laws.
I will pass this knowledge on to my children.
The Mother Earth is a living entity that maintains life.
I will speak out in a good way whenever I see someone abusing the Earth.
Just as I would protect my own mother, so I will protect the Earth.
I will ensure that the land, water and air will be intact for my children
and for my children's children ...the unborn.

Sixth Philosophy ~ TO THE CREATOR
As an Indian man, I realize we make no gains
without the Great Spirit being in our lives.
Neither I, nor anything I attempt to do, will work without our Creator.
Being Indian and being spiritual has the same meaning. Spirituality
is our gift from the Great One. This say, I vow to walk the Red Road.
As an Indian man
I will return to the traditional and spiritual values which have guided
my ancestors for the past generations.
I will look with new eyes on the powers of our ceremonies and religious ways,
for they are important to the very survival of our people.
We have survived and are going to grow and flourish spiritually.
We will fulfil our teachings and the purpose that the Creator has given us with dignity.
Each day, I will pray and ask guidance.
I will commit to walk the Red Road
or whatever the spiritual way is called in my culture.
If I am a Christian, I will be a good one
If I tradition, I will walk the road with dedication.
If each of us can do these things, then others will follow.
From this day forward, I will reserve time and energy
for spirituality, seeking to know the Creator's will.

(The Red Road....see below)

Seventh Philosophy ~ TO MYSELF
I will think about what kind of person I want to be when I am an Elder.
I will start developing myself now to be this person.
I will walk with the Great Spirit and the grandfathers at my side.
I will develop myself to remain positive.
I will develop a good mind.
I will examine myself daily to see that I did good and what I need to improve.
I will examine my strengths and weaknesses.
Then I will ask the Creator to guide me.
Each day, I will listen for the Creator's voice in the wind.
I will watch nature and ask to be shown a lesson which will occur on my path.
I will seek out the guiding principles which guided our ancestors.
I will walk in dignity, honour and humility, conducting myself as a warrior.
I will seek the guidance of the Elders so that I may maintain the knowledge
of culture, ceremonies and songs, and so that I may pass these on to
future generations.
I choose to do all these things myself, because no one else can do them for me.
so I will need to learn to walk the talk.


The Twenty Third Psalm ~ Indian Version
will be the next publication in this series.
You will definitely want to read this interpretation.

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 19, 2011

  • The Red Road referred to in Sixth Philosophy is a new-age concept 
    of the right path of life as inspired by some of the beliefs 
    found in a variety of Native American religions.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Native American Indian Traditional Code of Ethics

Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).

RESPECT...means “To feel or show honour or esteem for someone or something; to consider the well being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy”. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

Treat every person from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times.

Special respect should be given to Elders, Parents, Teachers and Community Leaders.

No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.

Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially Sacred Objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.

Respect the privacy of every person, never intrude on a person's quiet moment or personal space.

Never walk between people who are conversing.

Never interrupt people who are conversing.

Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of Elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.

Do not speak unless invited to do so at gatherings where Elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).

Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.

Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, the plant world, the animal world. Do nothing to pollute our Mother, rise up with wisdom to defend Her.

Show deep respect for the beliefs and religion of others.

Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.

Respect the wisdom of the people in council. Once you give an idea to a council meeting it no longer belongs too you. It belongs to the people. Respect demands that you listen intently to the idea of others in council and that you do not insist that your idea prevail. Indeed you should freely support the ideas of others if they are true and good, even if those ideas are quite different from the ones you have contributed. The clash of ideas brings forth the Spark of Truth.

Once the council has decided something in unity, respect demands that no one speak secretly against what has been decided. If the council has made an error, that error will become apparent to everyone in its own time.

Be truthful at all times, and under all conditions.

Always treat your guests with honour and consideration. Give of your best food, your best blankets, the best part of your house and your best service to your guests.

The hurt of one is the hurt of all; the honour of one is the honour of all.

Receive strangers and outsiders with a loving heart and as members of the human family.

All the races and tribes in the world are like the different coloured flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must be respected.

To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation and the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important talks. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

Observe moderation and balance in things.

Know those things that lead to your well-being and those things that lead to your destruction.

Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms: in prayer, in dreams, in times of quiet solitude and deeds of wise Elders and friends.

I ponder how many in leadership positions actually practice these principles. If we could pattern our lives with some of these guidelines, our being would be more joyous...our consideration and care of others, more rewarding. We would do well to consider Mother Earth and the Great Spirit with a new perspective.

Seven Philosophies For a Native American Man
will be the next publication in this series.
These concepts are most interesting!

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 17, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Real Estate's "Hat Lady"

Why We Wear Hats

Humans have covered their heads since...forever, I believe. Initially, head wear offered protection from the elements and from injury from falling rocks, weapons and masonry. Later, head coverings became symbols of status or authority. Soon after, hats progressed to become not only a uniform, but also an art form.

In fashion terms, hats are a very noticeable accessory because the onlooker's attention is first drawn to the face. A hat is the most noticeable fashion item anyone can wear. The old saying goes, “If you want to get ahead and get noticed, then get a hat”.

Since some body heat is lost through the head, in inclement conditions it is important to cover the head. Babies in particular lose heat rapidly through the head, thus ensuring a baby or toddler has a warm covered head in winter is important.

Today, technically a hat-maker makes hats for men whilst a milliner makes hats for women.

Running parallel to these hat making arts were workshops or more correctly, workshops called plumassiers where feathers were dyed and made into arrangements for both the worlds of fashion and interiors. Plumes have always been a status symbol and sign of economic stability. Fortunes were paid by rich individuals for exotic feathered hats. Gorgeous feathered hats could command as much as “100 pounds” in the early Edwardian era. The Edwardians were masters in the art of excess and the flamboyant hats of the era are a clear example of this.

Etiquette and formality have played their part in hat wearing. At the turn of the 20th century in 1900, both men and women changed their hats dependent on their activity, but for many ladies of some social standing, it would be several times a day. Etiquette articles suggest that it would be a disgraceful act to venture out of the house without a hat or even gloves. In the Edwardian age, it did not matter if you were poor or rich, old or a child... whatever the status, a person wore a hat.

As children, I comment, we were taught to always wear hats and gloves for Sunday church services or on special occasions...weddings, graduations and funerals (which today are referred to as “Celebrations” of the individual's life).

My Hats”

When I returned to the “work force” following several years of teaching and the raising of two young children, it was to Real Estate Sales that I ventured. Tuesdays and Thursdays were two-hour Open Houses for Realtors to view newly listed properties promoted by local offices. On one such day, the weather was inclement...windy and storm threatening. To keep my longish hair in place, I wore a hat. The following week, the mirror told me, “Your hair is a mess.” So, I donned a hat for disguise!

Soon, Open House Realtors were asking, “Merle, where's your hat?” WOW! If “they” noticed my hat, perhaps I should “trademark” this accessory!

At Overell Real Estate, it was a requirement to have an”official photo”, arranged at office cost. Here was my opportunity! Denise, my hair dresser at that time, gave me a spectacular hat (indicating she would never wear it!) ...brushed felt of brownish taupe and oyster, it had a brim that could be partially tipped up; surrounding the dark section of the hat was a long curving off-white ostrich plume. I Stunning! This became my “advertisement” for several years.

In the meantime, whenever I discovered a “hat of interest” and envisioning its colour and style co-ordinating with my wardrobe, I bought it. A hat rack in my hallway “housed” all these hats (often stacked 2 or 3 on a brass hook). Whenever I left home, it was to “select a hat”. Any chapeau I wore, looked great...seemed, I had the face for it!

Of course, I had the casual hats (like most people)...rain hats, sun hats, sport caps, party hats, black patent top hats for costumes, a silver rhinestone studded tiara, a New Year's feather hat, white fox ear muffs mounted on a velvet band, a black motorcycle helmet and a pink “Harley Honey” peak cap with royal blue flowers on it (the latter I wear even today at my computer, to keep sun out of my eyes).

When I moved to a small apartment, it dictated I had to part with several of my hats. Stored today in hat boxes, I have 20 or more. Please permit me to introduce you to a few of my business and special events hats. Occasionally I felt inspired to accessorize with co-ordinating scarves, decorative pins, artificial flowers or feathers...in this fashion, the hat became distinctive.

BLACK HATS: combinations of felts and suedes. One hat is bowler-styled with a large front brim turning upwards and studded with multi-coloured stones. Very Unique!

LACY PICTURE HATS: one a white wide-brimmed straw and a similar one in teal blue.

HOT PINK FEDORA: a gift from my daughter on Mother's Day.

SILVER-GRAY hard-coated Western style with attached horse pin.

SANDY BEIGE suede hat with gold studs and narrow leather trim

PURPLE and GOLD: My son was “Best Man” at Craig's wedding. For this event, I purchased a gold outfit (short lapel jacket with a matching “shell” plus culottes). I loved the style, but not the colour, especially. I trotted over to Madame Angelo at Burlington Mall...purchased unique purple jewellery from Italy and a hat that, I'm sure was “made just for me”! Purple felt with a large upturned curved brim at the front...trimmed in various gold braids. It looked Turkish!

PALE PINK: for a Spring wedding I was to attend, it was very feminine...a brushed felt hat with a wide brim...decorated with brown, taupe and pink feathers on the side and a small flower cluster. Accenting the hat was a face veil.

MEXICAN STRAW: Along a Yucatan beach one February afternoon, Eleanor and I were enjoying cold Corona beers with lime slices. One of the local craftsmen was selling straw hats. For a few pesos, I owned a crushable natural straw with a long multi-coloured woven cotton ribbon, tied around the hat, knotted at the back and hanging below the shoulders. Could be folded in my suitcase.

FOREST GREEN HUNTER (my Robin Hood styled hat) with a long tapering pheasant feather, black and tan striped.

AUSTRALIAN BLUE-GRASS: A local boutique had imported several of these hats with an invitation to attend a soiree (wine and cheese); a representative displayed them...where else would I find one?
It was hardened felt, the colour of Kentucky Blue Grass...feather trimmed ...had so much “character”.

SECOND BUSINESS PHOTO: Through Montreal Trust sales, I earned a weekend trip to Las Vegas (Thursday to Sunday). For one-half price, I took my son, Andrew, with me. The Flamingo Hotel was very impressive...I noted that when guests left their rooms, it was designed that they walk through the casino to exit the hotel. Along the route were a few shops...one featuring clothing and accessories for women. In the window was a red felt hat with a two-inch fine grain ribbon banding it. Very attractive ~ probably expensive! My resistance was good...so I thought. When Sunday arrived, I yielded to temptation, set it upon my blonde hair and Voila! A decision was made between the hat and me! Within a couple years, I transferred to Royal Lepage Real Estate Services. Their colours were red and black on a white background. “Time for a New Photo” to profile the Flamingo Hotel hat! My photo against a night time view of Burlington's waterfront and midnight sky... placed on my business card... was Magnificent!

SHELLAC WHITE HAT: Travelling with my Harley Davidson motorcyclist friend, we rode northwest to the Bruce Peninsula en route to Elliot Lake in northern Ontario. We boarded a ferry at Tobermory (at the northern tip of the Peninsula) to Manitoulin Island. We picked up a fast food lunch and with fresh strawberries we bought, lounged for a rest on the beach. Bob left a few minutes... to a shop across the road. He returned with a gift for me...a wide brimmed white hat with a large gold-tone buckle on the front of the band. He agreed...it looked great! How to carry it on the bike??? I wondered. Simply...put my arm through the plastic handholds of the bag...we mounted the Harley, circled the island, then a bridge over to Espanola and north to Elliot Lake. The hat bag swayed continually as we cycled.

FUR HATS: For many years I've worn fur coats on cold winter days. It was “a given” that I must have a fur hat! One is either Jaguar or Leopard in tans and blacks with narrow black leather trim; another is unshorn beaver in a light beige; 2 or 3 brushed felt hats have fur trim. Then there is “busbie” style hat of long fur in shades of grays and oyster shell. A white mink tam was a “surprise find” one day.

FLOWER POWER: My first California foray in the mid 1990's was a thrill! A friend met me in Los Angeles. In a gold MG, we first travelled to Palm Springs, then along the Mojave Desert to Reno and over to San Francisco; lastly along the dramatic coastal highway south. Near Santa Cruz, we discovered a Redwood Forest. A small train toured us among the mighty trees to a glade where we stopped. Seemed very spiritual there...a clearing open to the summer blue sky and surrounded by tall protective redwoods. Our last stop was a cafe and gift shop. So many beautiful crafted hats...each “an original”.

Which Hat Wants Me?” Each seemed to have a soul...like trying to choose a puppy! It was a shellac light tan straw...wide pink lace of 2 1/2 inches encircled the hat...tied in a large bow at the back and hanging loosely another foot below the hat; fastened along the side were delicate pink flowers, combined with feathers of browns and pinks. Truly a “work of art”...it talked the money right out of my wallet. This creation could be worn to a wedding or other special event.

Hats for Occasions

As the years have passed, hats have slowly lost favour, even for weddings and worship with only a proportion of the congregations donning them. They have never been worn universally since the 1920's. They were popular again in the 1980's for weddings and special occasions after Princess of Wales, Diana used them to add a sense of sophistication to her persona. At the recent wedding of William and Kate, female guests wore outlandishly designed hats...several with feathers. It is unlikely that the hat will ever die as an accessory as it offers far too much potential for drawing attention to the face. Fashion designers are aware of this and every so often exploit this fact in the hope that fashion followers will adopt the hat.

Major Horse Race Events almost dictate that women wear creatively designed hats...it's the thing to do! And no woman is going to miss this opportunity to “grandiose”!
Have you observed the races at the Triple Crown beginning with the Kentucky Derby in United States?
The Royal Ascot in England? The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival in Australia? The Dubai World Cup? The Queen's Plate in Toronto, Canada? Hats are part of Horse Racing Tradition!

JEAN'S REQUEST: Over a year ago, prior to Mother's Day, this long-time Bridge Friend called asking about certain style of hats which she needed for possible walk-on roles in movies being filmed in our locale. For her, I chose a few and delivered them in hat boxes for her selection. She was most delighted.

My Philosophy re Hats...and other wardrobe:
Wear what is comfortable...
Wear what you like...
regardless of the month of the year!
Our seasons have no restrictions on colours!

White in winter-time? It's called Winter-White.

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 6, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Seven Wonders of the World"

A group of students were asked to list what they thought were the present
“Seven Wonders of the World”.
Though there were some disagreements,
the following received the most votes:

Egypt's Great Pyramids
Taj Mahal
Grand Canyon
Panama Canal
Empire State Building
St. Peter's Basilica
China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student had not finished her paper yet.
So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.
The girl replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind
because there were so many”.
The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.”
The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the 'Seven Wonders of the World' are:

To See: (in her mind she envisioned herself with a wide brimmed straw hat with a dark pink band
around the brim; she is admiring a beautiful dark rose tulip in her hand)

To Hear: (she is listening to a country western male singer, playing his banjo onstage wearing typical western garb and hat; the audience loves his music)

To Touch: (her family's new baby lying on tummy with a collie puppy beside her...outstretched paws in front; baby wants to become acquainted with this soft, furry family pet)

To Taste: (her little brother in the park, has an ice cream cone; he lays on the grass licking his ice cream; a blonde-haired doggie joins him, to participate in the licking of cone on this summer day)

To Feel: (Mother is playing with the baby...feeling the infant's precious feet and toes)

To Laugh: (a young child...probably her brother...dressed as a clown in a blue outfit)

To Love: (two lovers in a grassy meadow...could be her older sister...collecting wild flowers and walking hand in hand with her beau through the country)"

The room was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop.

The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wondrous!
A gentle reminder ~ that the most precious things in life
cannot be built by hand or bought by man.

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 3, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Native American Philosophy

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breath,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
Cree Prophecy

Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other,
thus should we do, 
for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.
Black Elk

I do not think the measure of a civilization
is not how high its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their  environment and fellow man.
Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe
Certain things catch your eye, 
But pursue only those
that capture your heart.
~ old   Indian saying ~
We return thanks to our mother, the earth
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and the stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.
~ an Iroquois Thanksgiving ~

Give thanks for unknown blessings
already on their own.
~ Native American saying ~

There is a road in the hearts of all of us, hidden and seldom travelled,
which leads to an unknown, secret place.
The old people came literally to love the soil,
and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of
being close to a mothering power.
Their teepees were built upon the earth
and their altars were made of earth.
The soul was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of
propping himself up and away from its life giving forces.
For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply
and to feel more keenly. He can see more clearly into the mysteries of
life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.
Chief Luther Standing Bear

The Indian Ten Commandments
Treat the Earth and all that dwell therein with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindess wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well-being of Mind and Body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater Good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.

Merle Baird-Kerr
June 12, 2011

Native American Indian Traditional Code of Ethics
will be the next publication in this series.
Click in...to see how you “measure up” to these standards.