Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Trek

                          “Indian Summer” Day...I believe it is called ~
                         The temperature's mild and leaves yet unhauled;
                         Had a few frosty nights ... colours now superb
                         Throughout my fair city and beauty-treed 'burbs.

                         {I hear that New England received tons of snow;
                         Very heavy wet stuff...the trees cannot blow,
                         Crashing with their weight! Suddenly, No Power!
                         No lights, stove or heat...for the days' many hours.}

                         Southern Ontario is a haven-home to me ~
                         We revel in the views, I wish you could see:
                         Spruce, so mighty...and long-needled pines
                         Graceful green cedars and wooded tamaracs...
                         All interspersed with ...
                         Sugar maple reds and colourful oaken leaves,
                         Fiery fuchsias, golds... the tans and the yellows.

                    My drive today, like an autumn-guided tour:
                    Downtown Hamilton, 'gainst the treed rock escarpment.
                    Cross...High Level Bridge, 'tween the Bay and the Coutts ~
                    Paradises of water, so scenically positioned.
                    Had an Oakville's east end
                    Tending Grand-daughter's foot, by an able laser surgeon.
                    It was the last appointment needed, after many visits.
                    Most delighted, we celebrate...Russell Williams lunch
                    Before driving home to carve her orange pumpkin!

                    I drove the Northshore Boulevard 'side the Bay's blue water ~
                    Under a canopy of trees that arched the winding road ~
                    Like strolling through a painting, with “autumn haze” surround.
                    Stopped at “Window to the Bay” to photograph a tree ~
                    Very straight...and Commander of the Shore!

                    Had read about an old Oak...of 150 years
                    On Allview Avenue...appropriately so-named...
                    A quiet street nestled...beside our Burlington Bay
                    With glorious views...of the towering Skyway Bridge
                    And the deep blue waters...of Lake Ontario.

                     I'm mesmerized and this very stalwart Oak ~
                    Giantly established...among the other trees ~
                    Its sturdy bark trunk...and wide spreading branches
                    Still hold leaves, so colourfully hued ~ and
                    Soaring above the rooftops of its few guarding homes.
                    If I could physically climb to its high lofty limbs,
                    I'd view the blue heavens...and the vast lake waters!

                    I'm vitally dramatic force of Nature!
                    Drive through Olde Burlington's... very stately homes
                    And wonder...just when... long ago...
                    These trees as saplings, were most proudly planted.
                    Flower gardens plentiful...still in full bloom;
                    Downtown shops, adorned with hanging baskets
                    And front door urns, chrysanthemum-filled!
                    Patio tables...their bistros and cafes
                    Still await enjoy autumn days;
                    Views of the park, weeping-willow draped,
                    And, beyond, of Lake Ontario!

                         I reflect on Connecticut, Massachusetts ~
                unkind was Mother Nature
                        When she stole away “their fall”!
                        And literally...left them “powerless”
                        To enjoy “their autumn season”...
                        As it spreads across the country
                        And paints...its unsurpassed magic!

                       Merle Baird-Kerr ... written October 31, 2011

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Love and Relationships

Among Humans...even birds, animals and fish...relationships enhance
...also create a comfortable and a truly loving environment in which to live.
Often, lack of communication causes a "breakdown" of this arrangement.
These guidelines, if followed, will quell the troubled waters in one's life.

10 Universal Laws You Can Use to Improve your Partnership

The Law of Listening
Listening while you read the paper, watch television or work on the computer
is not listening.  Listening with  your eyes, attention and heart...IS!

The Law of Anticipating
It's a human need to have something to look forward to.
When you look forward together, you draw closer as a couple.

The Law of Appreciating
Appreciation can be as simple as , “I liked it today when.....” or “Thank you for....”
Simple, yet powerful.

The Law of In-Laws
Thank the in-laws when you can. In-laws may be very challenging,
but they also were responsible for creating the person with whom you fell in love.

The Law of Compliments
Saying something nice about your partner's dress, shirt and haircut are all 
nice things. You can go farther with, “I really like the way you handled the situation,“ or "I'm glad I am with you.”

The Law of Genuine Interest
Show genuine interest in your partner. You show genuine interest when you demonstrate that you've been paying attention to the other person.

The Law of Touch, Hold, Caress
A potentially fun law. Everyone needs to be touched. That one small gesture can contribute to a great deal of healing in a relationship.

The Law of Knowing the Dreams of Your Partner
It's even better still when you know someone's dreams and contribute to having some dreams come true.

The Law of Asking Questions
Asking questions shows genuine interest in another person. It compliments 
and honours them.

The foregoing, written by Jeff Herring and Maritza Parra,
appeared recently in The Hamilton Spectator.

Merle Baird-Kerr ... written September 21, 2011

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Inner Beauty

Our days are a kaleidoscope.
Every instant, a change takes place in the contents ~
New Harmonies, New Contents, New Combinations.
(Henry Ward Beecher)

To be truly happy, one must keep his life in balance
with often a check, daily, to keep it aligned.

James Patterson, in his novel, Red Roses, writes,
A Life in Balance is like juggling four balls that you name 
Work, Family, Friends, Spirit.
Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it bounces back.
The other balls...they're made of glass;
if you drop a few of these, they chip, sometimes they shatter to pieces."

Inner Beauty is the most important feature in our human being. 
All of our actions in a day draw from that inner beauty or soul, if you wish.
Have you ever wondered what makes you act the way you do or who you are, inside? Are we just a collection of cells that happened to come together by chance, or is there some grand design (someone we can't see or touch) that brought us all together? Inner beauty shows itself in many ways...perhaps by helping an elderly neighbour with their yard work...or volunteering time
to your community.

Love is an expression of inner beauty. Does one give love on a daily basis? Does one feel “loved” on a daily basis? Hope is a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life and the lives of others. 
This can only come from a place of inner beauty. Do you feel compassion
toward another human being when you see them in pain or suffering? Compassion comes from inner beauty; at times you can feel it tug at your heart; sometimes you can ignore it, but deep down, it's always there.

What about outer beauty?   Can outer beauty... say a beautiful, majestic mountain or the brilliant stars in heaven, be enjoyed without inner beauty? 
I think not.  A person can be attracted by outward beauty only to find 
on closer examination that it is ugly on the inside. A beautiful looking person 
can be filled with hatred or with love. But how do we know unless we look 
on the inside? We often judge people when we first meet them by the way 
they look. It has been said, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” So look
inside when you first meet people and look for that inner beauty. In the long run, it is far more important than outward beauty.

What can physical things in life do for the soul? 
The answer is “nothing”. You need to fill the soul, otherwise it starves. Is your inner soul starving? You can satisfy the hunger with acts of kindness and love; there is plenty in this world to fill the soul. Use it every day and I believe you 
will be full in no time. I don't have all the answers nor do I proclaim to be fault free, but I do know the feelings of my own heart. I am sure that each one of us
has thought some of these very things at some point in our lives. I don't want to be on death bed saying, “I did it all wrong”; there are no do-overs.

Your inner beauty can flourish and grow; 
 no one can quell it...and no one can take it away.

I don't know about you, but I am going to look for
the “inner beauty” in all that I meet!

(The foregoing from an article forwarded to me)

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written October 15, 2011

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journey of the Heart

According to Noah Webster, the Heart is a “body organ that pumps blood”. It is also, “the essence or core of anything”. If “heartless” is insensitive, then anything accomplished or given “with heart” must certainly be the opposite! “Sensitive” is “being acutely responsive to certain sensations; it is “being appreciative of aesthetic or intellectual qualities”, but can also be interpreted as “being easily irritated or offended.”

Throughout Life, we experience longings, yearnings, desires. Reflecting on these, I recall numerous situations which I share with you....when compelled to action by firstly “thought or idea, impulse of the heart” or “the mind's rightful and logical decision".

My parents were of strong religious convictions, whereby certain activities were “taboo”. My father had been musically talented, playing Jews harp, the mouth organ, guitar...often singing in groups or solo. At a stage performance our family attended, a girl about my age tap-danced. I was Mesmerized and Moon-struck! Her royal blue dress was star-studded; the tiara, set upon her brunette curls sparkled; the star-tipped wand in her right hand moved rhythmically with the music; her black patent-shoed feet danced brilliantly. Such longing and desire enveloped me; I aspired to be like her on this stage. My dream was never realized! As a in a rural community, dance lessons were unavailable. Dancing was unacceptable in my parents' eyes. However, one learns throughout Life that a dream often remaining dormant (yet still alive) should never be crushed...and may in a few years “down the road of life" come true.


My Aunt Inez was “most special”! She never married, although engaged at one time. Living in Hamilton, her only access to visit us in our white clapboard country home was the TH&B (Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo) train which had a brief local stop in Oakland, a few miles from our farm. She always brought “treats”: for my year-older sister and me; she always came to celebrate our birthdays... we were the children she never had! I adored her...a lady, gracious as a Queen, refined in cultured manners. She knitted colourful scarves, hats and mittens for us. She gave us each Music boxes...mine had a miniature princess on top who danced! When my sister and I teen-aged she gave us each a 5-year diary which I still have today. Even until her death several years ago, she would bring for My Children, boxes of chocolate maple buds and gift certificates from McDonald's.

Telephone calls in the 30's and 40's were answered by an “operator” who placed the necessary connection. It was always important, when one picked up the receiver, to ensure no one was “on the line”. Naturally, on this “party line” “eaves-dropping” on conversations would be easy...politeness dictated that one “hang up” and try later. Occasionally, my sister and I (in our early teens) would telephone Aunt Inez and chat with her for several minutes. We were unaware this was “long-distance" and also unknowing that our parents would discover what we had done. For many years, it was“automatic” with me, to first listen (checking the line) prior to dialing the intended number.

A summer holiday with her was So Extra Special. Our parents drove us to a Bus Depot in Brantford; a bus travelling east to Toronto, stopped in downtown Hamilton. As a secretary for Office Specialty, the station was only a few minutes walk. At her apartment, she entertained us with “city-cooked-meals, with pink-bubble-baths, with riding the street cars' Belt Line which was a several-blocks-square, with the option of getting Off and On with a Pass to later continue the ride. This was fun...hearing the clanging of the bells, the collection of fares by the conductor, the observance of people on-ing and off-ing the Belt fascinating! She introduced us to Gage Park, an immense attraction east of her apartment....flower gardens, a greenhouse, a children's play area, a magnificent water fountain. She showed us her box camera....a Brownie?....permitting us to “snap pictures” on it. Once, she took us the full distance to Niagara Falls by bus. For me, visiting Aunt Inez on these occasions were exciting city experiences. Being endeared to her taught me lessons about the Finer Things in Life...even how to “play cards” (while I was attending Teachers' College) Any card game would never have been on my parents' agenda. She was the Greatest Aunt I ever had! And my son, Andrew, became her Greatest Grandchild!


When I was 5, my father bought a larger farm along Hwy. 53, west of Brantford. He moved all our furnishings and farm equipment by “horse and wagon”, this seems very “pioneer-like”; yet realizing my parents were married in 1929 and survived The Depression Years, this mode of travel was the most economical. Yes, he had a Model T Ford, and later a bigger navy sedan ( a Peerless ?). His pair of horses, Whistler and Maude, pulled the hay wagon, making 2 trips to complete the move over these several miles. Dad's brother, Jim who farmed across the road, assisted him. I recall going to a funeral prior to this move. The casket at the front of the church was “open”. At the service end, mourners could “visit the casket”, quietly waiting in line. When my Dad approached, he seemingly kissed the pale ashen face of the woman within, I have always silently questioned this action. Secretly, I believed she may have been the previous owner of our current Burford farm.

PARENTS give their CHILDREN the FORMULA for LIFE through their Actions, their Teachings and their Directions. Sons and Daughters rarely understand these Standards and Principles as viewed until possibly much later in “their lives”.

Our family was strongly affiliated with a church in the village. Each summer, the minister arranged a 2-week session of DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) for children of all ages. This gave my sister and me an interesting and enjoyable summer activity. Usually, it was 2 females who conducted this 10-day “vacation”; said ladies were billeted with a church family for one, maybe both weeks. My father showed some kind of “special interest” in one of these women. When the 2nd week ended, Dad drove us with these women to their next assignment near Wallaceburg (about 2 1/2hour drive). There was a park near The Blue Water Highway (adjacent to Lake Huron) where we lunched ....a deliciously prepared picnic by my mother. Here, in view of her and us, he walked “arm in arm” with though finding it difficult to “part ways”. No explanation was ever given.

In a farm home, the Kitchen was the Family Gathering Place whether a family of 3 or 4, a dozen or more. The stove was wood- fire-heated for cooking and boiling water.....especially for piping heat upstairs to the cold bedrooms in winter. Mother was an excellent cook, frequently creating new recipes...always, each fall, preserving vegetables and fruits from her gardens and orchard.
Occasionally I noticed her crying while cooking over a hot stove; in asking what was wrong, her reply was , “I'll be alright...don't worry.” She never complained.


Each August, we spent a day at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) in Toronto along its Lake Ontario waterfront. In our teen ages, this was a wonderfully exciting Day Excursion. Driving to Hamilton, then entering the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Highway) was a beautiful drive. The Highway was 2 lanes eastbound and 2 lanes westbound running from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Between these pairings of lanes was a wide grassy boulevard with trees, shrubs and tall light standards on each side. From Dad I learned my first driving technique. On one of these days, he was passing a vehicle on his right; just as he was entering the left lane, the ahead-car proceeded into his lane. (Understand please, the only signalling device for changing lanes was the driver lowering his window to extend his left arm outside, then hand-signal his intention). Dad, when passing any vehicle, ritually observed the left front wheel. He saw that this wheel began to cross into his lane. He had no choice except to veer onto the boulevard, fortunately missing any tree, shrub or light standard. My mother's heart was “almost in her mouth” action I shall never forget.

When at the Ex, we visited and toured several buildings to enjoy the displays. We were well aware that should we become lost, to go to the Fountain in a central courtyard. En route to the Horticulture Exhibit, Dad stopped to chat with a young boy (probably 8 or 9) who was totally wet from hair to runners with a dog-on-leash beside him, shaking off the excess water from his coat. The lad explained that he'd been in the “Dog-Child-Boat” contest at the waterfront (the child has a rowboat, then upon the “start whistle”, he calls his dog to jump into the water from a platform, then “dog-paddle “ the distance following his master to the finish line. “Did you win?”, asked my Dad. “No, but we came in Third”, he replied. “How many in the Race?”....and proudly the lad replied, “Three..Rufus and I won a Ribbon!” “Good for you” congratulated my Dad as he tousled the boys hair.


After College graduation and 1st year of Teaching, I embarked on a summer tour of Europe. My parents, so delighted with this anticipated experience of mine, drove me to Montreal, being able to board the ship prior to sailing. Reflecting now, I realized that I was “living their dreams”. Taking this tour “on a shoe-string” of affordability, my spending money was limited. In each country I bought a souvenir coffee spoon. When we arrived in Holland, the decision and opportunity to send cheeses to my parents, seemed “an automatic”! (I recalled that each year at home, we'd drive several miles to a cheese factory to buy large rounds of cheese in circular wooden boxes, which later, my sister and I would pad and attach material, gathered and draped around the sides; these “boxes” became our “seats” or vanity stools for our dresser....also providing storage within “for our treasures”). My father, especially, was truly thrilled to receive these cheeses directly from Holland. NO GREATER GIFT COULD I HAVE GIVEN THEM!....except to have taken them with me on this "across the ocean trek!"


Earlier this week on Tuesday Dec. 14th following my evening  Online Bridge Game,  my computer “crashed”! NO ACCESS on Wednesday! NO ACCESS on Thursday! Dealing with this dilemma today, December 16th reminds me of a significant and memorable event in sister Eileen's wedding! I created gowns for her 3 attendants ...Empire-styled of emerald green velvet; the bodices of matching peau-d-soie...the bejewelled narrow braid of hematite and aurora borealis crystals separated the bodices from the floor-length velvet skirts. Matching head-piece bands trimmed with the same beading completed the ensemble. The men of her wedding party wore dark charcoal tuxedos. The flowers were red poinsettias with trailing green ivy. Lee's bouquet was a white poinsettia encircled with green holly and red berries..dramatically accenting her long sleeved white gown of satin-embroidered daisies on Swiss cotton (this was my custom-designed wedding dress, fitting her well). 

The day was most frigid with gently falling snowflakes...a picture postcard of Christmas and winter beauty. To our surprise, Lee provided us with white fox fur cape-styled stoles to wear with our gowns Truly exquisite! The only sad feature was that Andrew, my son (only 3 years old in November) was to have been the “ring-bearer”. He came with us to the rehearsal, well-performing his duty. On the wedding day, he would be attired in a forest green velvet short-pants suit (I was so fortunate in locating this outfit for him), black patent shoes and dark green knee socks, a white shirt with green bow tie. So adorable he was! And so handsome! Next morning he awakened with a sore throat, fever and infection....a yearly occurrence at the onset of winter. Consequently, he could not attend. Lee was extremely disappointed.


Recently, I viewed a  TV movie, ”Stand by Me” based on a novel, “The Body” written by Stephen King. It depicted the journey of four 12-year old boys....long time buddy friends who discovered much about themselves. As viewers, we are involved with their tree house, their joking and their pranking, their boyhood exploits. One of the boys had recently discovered the dead body of a teen partially buried in woodland bush. The four set off on a 2-day trek to locate this body near a river. Unknown to them, “each IS on a Journey" toward adulthood (for which we as parents are responsible). Decisions along this travel deal with several act on immediate impulse? To listen to the heart? Or lastly the mind?. This stage from contingent upon growth and development of character and experience. In viewing the movie, an immediate caption sprang from my mind, “Journey of the Heart”.

For many years, the human heart is continually on a journey ...
to seek something unique,  a goal to achieve or meet someone special .
When the latter becomes is a Magical Acceptance 
of each other and may develop into a  beautifully orchestrated relationship. 
Life is Truly a Gift!


A Guide from the 2011 Calendar, Flowers and Gardens 
is so significant:

May no Gift be too small to Give,
nor too Simple to Receive
which is wrapped in Thoughtfulness
and tied with  Love.

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written December 16, 2010

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

My "Cat House" and Its Tenant

When I brought her home from the SPCA to my 18th floor apartment,
unlatched the carrier door, she strutted out with the “air of freedom” 
to her new digs.
She embodied a regal head with alert gold-green eyes, tail upright and 
twitching as she padded her tufted paws across the pale blue carpet.
Her “body language” spoke of Queen...I named her Sheba!
No ordinary cat...
she was not to be cuddled, nor held in a long embrace 
for more than a moment or two,
not apt to nestle upon my lap,
nor show any special attachment to Me...her House Mother! She was “Aloof”!

Numerous cats and kittens, I have seen...but none like Sheba!


On the farm where I was born and raised, there were yearly litters of various colours...usually tabbies or tortoiseshells, even black and whites...depending on the sire. My sister and I adored them, but we were forbidden to have any (not even one) as a house pet. They were to remain in the barn, the fields and grassy areas surrounding the farm structures. We always had a family dog who'd be allowed in the house...(so why couldn't we have a kitten?) My favourite was Billie, a black and white Border Collie, who was trained to herd sheep by “whistle commands” given by my Dad...circling the flock from side to side, she'd corral them to a gated area. Thus during childhood, my farm animal interest centred on three different dogs.

When my children were young, we bought a Chocolate Point Siamese kitten...Jasper was a delight to all...a blue-eyed male with a personality to love. Andrew would take him outside on a leash..this was a mistake! With a taste for “outdoors”, so full of scents and sounds, he so intently and aggressively wanted “out”, he'd stand on his back legs and scratch at the screen; and if no success, would bang the door handle with a front paw, look back and check if we “got the message”. When this lacked response, he would back up to the floor-length mint green drapes and spray them with his peculiar odour! This resulted in two actions...we “fixed Jasper” then provided him with Tasha, a companion-mate...a Chocolate Point kitten..the two together were most playful and mischievous.

When Andrew was 7 or 8 years old, he had a Hot Wheels set...various designs could be built. This track, with its cars scooting up and down and around, fascinated and intrigued Jasper, who would chase the cars and bat them off the track...such great fun for him which entertained my son and his father with many a laugh! Using Lincoln Logs, he built a house over the track through which the track could run. Jasper crouched with eyes beaded and watching, his tail switching from side to side...ready to chase or pounce on the next car down the track...accidentally, he ran into the log house which tumbled upon him.

Tasha had her own quiet ways. She was very demure and sweet. In my husband's study, she'd be frequently seen sitting on his books or magazines, napping on an article of clothing or a sunny window ledge. On more than one occasion, when entertaining dinner, guests...I'd have a table centre-piece of fresh flowers in a low vase. Gradually, I noticed that the flowers became first wondering how I could not have finished this arrangement. Then I caught her in the act of thievery! With a purple pansy in her mouth, she bolted from the table and fled to the basement. In the “crawl space” I discovered her “cache” of the day's flowers and the now dry ones from her previous forays.
When Jasper requested food, he'd sit in front of his empty dish in the kitchen, and with his raucous plaintive voice, announce his need! He'd continue this routine with tail a-switching, still facing the emptiness of his bowl, looking around for someone... to Pay Attention, until his request was fulfilled.

The Siamese are a wonderful cat breed...intelligent, loving, ready to be cuddled or nestle on an inviting lap. They “converse” and in time, we could understand some of their “cat talk”.

The Green family lived in a neighbouring town home. Their cat, “Kitty” would be let out for his daily fresh air. When the weather was cold, he'd visit us with a climb up the screen door and yowl..hanging by his claws...seeking attention until invited in! He was the usual Tabbie with remarkable striping, whom we called “Tiger”. He'd welcome whatever food we provided, then after a few laps of cool water, he'd search out a comfortable place for his afternoon nap...on a cushion, an upstairs bed or cuddle beside Tasha for whom he had personal affection. For him, I believe this was a respite...away from the rambunctious children in his home next door. Then soft-footing his way downstairs, he'd sit at the though to say “Thank You...I'll come again soon”. Exiting, he'd saunter around the fence to his own family, disillusioning them into believing he'd had an abundance of fresh air and exercise. Sometimes I deem these cats to be as human as us.

There are numerous stories to be told about Tiger's relationship with Jasper and better to tell them than with a camera! With the numerous photos I had, it was so easy to assemble a story line with them. The Colour Photographic Club of Burlington, monthly held a contest for submissions on various topics. When “Photo Essay” night arrived, with the encouragement of a personal friend, Julie (an avid photographer), I presented my essay. Using a projector and screen for the colour slides, I read the script with “The Baby Elephant Walk” music background. This was accepted with great applause...for the ingenuity of the presentation. My Cats became Heroes!

During the winter, I developed severe asthma (due to low immune system resulting from major surgery). Several times that season, I rushed to Hospital Emergency, unknowing from where my next breath was coming. In the spring, tests revealed that I was allergic to cat fur and dander...also alternaria and skin allergy to nickel. With Marcia, who was young, I retreated to my sister's home in Goderich for two weeks while my home was totally cleared and cleaned to remove all substances of cat fur. I was So Sad! Jasper went to the Oberski family and Tasha to a woman's antique shop on the Beach Strip near the Skyway Bridge. She was so delighted, welcoming her new “home and store pet”.

My health was restored! A few years later, a personal friend, Sharon, asked if I would take her black and white Persian-haired kitten. Sparky, their family dog was too aggressive with this “intruder into his domain”. Although wary of implications to my health, we accepted her temporarily. Very distinctively marked with white front and moustache, her name was “Tache”. A loving kitten she was...fastidiously clean, non-demanding, patiently waiting for someone to “read her mind”, then snuggles and cuddles and purring with content. If no human touch around, she'd bask in a warm sunny ray.

One week, John and Sherry left their black “wildcat” with us while on holiday. He was a young male...accustomed to John's rough play with him. Walking by him, he'd love to alarm you with with his sudden playful attack...full of sneaky actions and not so good behaviour. Marcia was frightened of him! This cat needed to be taught a few manners. I carried a tea towel with me, then when he “attacked” me, I strongly flicked my towel at him...he was a “quick learner”. By the end of the week, he had become a “gentleman cat”.

Tommy was a tabby with brownish black stripes...from Animal Aid (name derived from a character in the Sunday evening TV series, “21 Jump Street” starring Johnnie Depp). He was a happy mischievous cat with eyes of green. He longed to be close...sit on my newspaper while reading it , perch on my desk while tending to correspondence, forever wanting to be on the Kitchen counter (which I prohibited)...he was tremendously insulted! He'd sleep at the foot of my bed, then the following morning he'd purr into my ear for breakfast. One day with Marcia in High School and Andrew at University, I returned from my office early one afternoon. Preparing a cup of hot tea, I heard running water. What could this be? Someone left the tap running? (was certain it was off when I left). Walking to the Powder Room, there was Tommy having a wonderful time! His three feet were perilously perched on the toilet seat edge....the fourth paw was playfully swirling the water; when it ceased to run, he carefully repositioned his feet and pushed down the lever with his free paw to again “flush the  waterfall” so he could again resume his play. This antic entertained him for many minutes.


After Tommy, I decided to not have another cat. In the Burlington Post, several months later was a picture of a black cat pleading to have a home. Always being fascinated with a jet black feline, I was “suckered in” to have a look at this one at the SPCA. He was gorgeous...a sleek velvet-like coat! This cat ...I must have him! Within a week I discovered Ebony's bathroom habits were atrocious...and this trait I could not alter! Returning him to the Shelter, I was both disappointed and vowed, “My cat days are over.”

Many weeks later, when in the vicinity of the SPCA, I stopped by to “have a look”...just out of interest. No cat “grabbed my attention”...except for one cage. “Who's in there?”, I asked. “Oh, you don't want her,” I was told. “Why?”, I questioned. “She's quite anti-social.” I commented, “That doesn't concern me...I can ignore her as long as she cares to ignore me...could I please see her on the floor?” The attendant informed me that only the manager could handle this cat.

This cat looked like a long-hair tabby...her dark brown back saddle, tail striping, furry feet, unusual tense green eyes and tuft-like-hair-tipped ears...what a mix! This was now February. In early December, a call came from a North Burlington country area requesting someone to please come and retrieve a stray cat which was insisting on habitation before winter set in. The woman stated they already had a house cat, yet daily Cat would return day after day, seeking Help! [Woman began to place food outside for Cat, now returning to the back door for the daily meal handout. Then Cat would jump to the window ledge, peering into the Kitchen...waiting for someone to come to her assistance! Woman takes pity on Cat, allowing it into her house. Woman's feline is most unreceptive to Cat. In desperation she called the SPCA.]

It is believed that this cat is young...maybe 2 to 3 years old; her demeanour indicates she was quite likely abused, then abandoned...or the cat escaped the cruel treatment by her inhumane owners.. Management advised me that she had been with them since early December...checked by a Veterinarian and given the necessary “shots”and spayed. Providing me a transport carrier...with loud wails and screaming beyond reason, I brought Mystery Cat home with convinced she cannot cope with “confinement” as she struggles to be free. I was confident that with time and patience, I would win her trust...likening this to an abused child whose dignity has been harmed and damaged, whose outlook on life has been negatively affected...and who is distrustful of humans!

Sheba! It's You and Me! I showed her where to  locate food and water, then the location of her litter pan. It was a weekend...Saturday and Sunday...I remained “on duty and service” to attend to her needs...her demeanor was vague and aloof. She found places to hide...only when hungry did she seek for nourishment and water...before retreating to her hide-away areas. Within a week, she'd spend time with me...watching...contemplating...meditating in a trance-like position with her tail wrapped around her feet...very dignified in appearance...her eyes in a forever-focus-on-me. Soon, she'd relax...stretch her full length on the floor from tail tip to front paws...then lay on her back displaying her light tan furry tummy...a moment of trust! I bent down to pet her...which was now acceptable. I noticed her long whiskers, her furry paws, tufted ears and bushy tail.

When Spring weather arrived, I leashed Sheba and introduced her to my balcony...not wanting her to jump to the railing at this 18th floor height. She discovered that she could lie at the balcony's edge with her front legs and head under the lowest horizontal rail...this freedom with front paws hanging over, allowed her views of trees, flying birds, Canada geese feeding along Lake Ontario's shoreline and sense the fresh air and warmth of the sun.

After several weeks of “balcony visits”, I abandoned the leash; she would follow me wherever I went in the apartment...crouch on the chesterfield beside me, nestle at my feet, perch on the armchair beside my desk or enjoy the rose coloured rocking chair. When I was away during the daytime hours, I would leave the balcony door ajar for her to enjoy the freedom of going there to observe the outside world. Over the summer she caught two birds, proudly presenting them to me when I returned home. When she'd hear my key in the door lock, she'd rush to greet me, with a brushing of her side along my leg and with an upward look of appreciation. She'd purr, then with her graceful airs, walk away. Her nightly spot was at the foot of my bed.

We had one hectic experience! Although I had a scratching post, Sheba would not let me hold her to clip her claws. She began to damage the furniture. It was my intention to take her to the veterinarian, having him tend to this nail clipping. It was a battle to push her into the cat carrier...amid howls and loud wails, I drove to the clinic. Realizing that she was still traumatized by confinement in the carrier...and upset now in taking her away from her place of refuge, I reluctantly requested that the Vet remove her front claws. I decided, then and there, I would never again remove her from Her House! In a couple days I returned to the Clinic. The Vet donned leather gloves to reach into the cage to place her in the carrier. She yowled mercifully like a jungle animal...Unbelievable!!! Her glaring eyes told me she was frantic! And most disturbed! Looks could kill! She was unable to understand why I had abandoned her to this terrible ordeal! She was still battling confinement until I reached the apartment. Hearing the key turn in the lock, amazingly she quieted! Sitting the carrier on the rug and speaking to her gently, I opened its front door...she stepped out like the Queen of Sheba...all sophisticated, walking with “royal airs” into the Kitchen for morsels of food and water.

One of my hobby pastimes is craft work...very relaxing to knit, crochet or embroider while watching TV. Sheba would never lay on my lap, but always nearby...usually curled at my feet. It was a sweater I was knitting for a friend in yarns of black and red. I had completed about 18 inches of the back and left it on the coffee overnight. Next morning, I discovered what she had discovered! Yarn was fun to play with...the balls were strewn and dragged endlessly, the sweater unravelled to within a few inches of its lower ribbing. And there was Sheba...very innocent, quite vague and unconcerned about her night activity...perhaps deceiving me into believing that none of this was “any of her doing”!

Sheba looks like a tabby...but is she? Julie, my Kitchener friend has long been a “cat fancier”, now turned dog-lover. She researched the description I gave her...notifying me a few days later, that Sheba is a Maine Coon (noteworthy that purebred kittens often sell for $500). With its distinctive physical appearance, it is one of the oldest breeds in North America. Many of the original Maine Coons inhabited the New England states. Characteristics: large bone structure...rectangular body shape...long flowing coat...bushy tail...tufts of hair at tips of ears and around their feet...long whiskers. The most usual colour is the brown Tabby...some vary in colour. They are recognized for their intelligence and gentle personality.

Cats have great agility and ability to jump to surprising heights. Sheba is such a contrast. Jumping from the floor level to a book shelf about 5 feet...a perfectly calculated leap; here she crouched on her four paws with fluffy tail tucked around her...a high position she relished! When you think she's half asleep, she's always wide awake. The carrier in which she was transported, terrorized her, yet give her a brown paper bag, and she'll playfully crawl in and out of it with great pleasure.

I lived in Sheba’s apartment for several years...she began to lose her appetite, then lost weight...her legs were tottery. In consultation with her Vet, he advised me to bring her was a struggle!

She let me hold her ... as I said,
“Good-Bye, Sheba, you'll not suffer any more.
You've had a good life.”
She purred and nuzzled my cheek.


One adopts a kitten
and within a few months
the Cat in the House
permits you to live in Her Home.”
(Solomon Fein)

A colour photograph recently in The Spectator shows Robin with her cat, Stewie, who has been accepted by Guinness World Records as the world's longest cat at 48.5 inches. She says Maine Coons are the “gentle giants”
of the cat world.
This picture showing Robin extending Stewie's full length
from front paw to tip of his tail,
is identical in appearance to my Sheba.
This inspired me to write the foregoing article.

Merle Baird-Kerr
written October 25, 2010


Of Interest ...

Cats are exceptionally Mysterious Creatures!
Throughout history, cats have been worshipped as gods in certain cultures.
According to Buddhist religion, the body of a cat, when it dies,
is the temporary “resting place” of the soul of very spiritual people.
Sailors used cats to predict the voyages they were about to embark upon;
loudly mewing cats meant that it would be a difficult voyage.
A playful cat meant that it would be a voyage with good and gusty winds.
If a cat continually looks out a window, rain is on the way.
A cat has 9 lives: 3 years to Play...3 Years to Stray...3 Years to Stay.

There are 2 means of refuge from the Misery of and cats. (Albert Schweitzer)

The cat could very well be man's best friend,
but would never stoop to admitting it. (Doug Larson)

Cats work out mathematically the exact place to sit
that will cost most convenience. (Charlotte Gray)

A cat can be trusted to purr when she is pleased
which is more than can be said for human beings. (William Ralph Inge)

Your cat will never threaten your popularity by barking 3 AM in the morning.
He will not attack the mailman or eat his drapes, although he may climb them
to see how the room looks like from the ceiling. (Helen)

I had believed that the training procedure with cats was difficult.
It's not. Mine had me trained in two days. (Bill Dana)

My cat speaks sign language with her tail. (Robt. A. Stern)

Dogs come when they are called.
Cats take a message...and get back to you later. (Mary Bly)

Before a cat will condescend
To treat you as a trusted friend
Some little token of esteem
Is needed, like a dish of cream.
(T. S. Elliot)

One of the most memorable musicals, I've seen is CATS.
(Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber...based on Old Possum's
“Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Elliot)

My son was so captivated, he has attended several performances of Cats,
being able to quote and sing most of the songs.
A favourite is ... "Ad-dressing of Cats":
You've read of several kinds of cats,
And my opinion now is that
You should need no interpreter
To understand their character.
You now have learned enough to see
That cats are much like you and me.
And the people whom we find
Possessed of various types of mind.
For some are sane and some are bad
And some are better and some are worse.
But all may be described in verse.
You've seen them both at work and games
And learned about their proper names
Their names and their habitat.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jackie Has a Kitty . . .

Jackie has long been a Bridge acquaintance. Living alone, she'd cherish some
company. One afternoon she delightfully informed us she was getting a Kitty...
so thrilled and excited! When Kitty arrived, I wrote this for her:
(which she immediately framed).

A long time lover of cats,
endears herself to her pet.

Kitty has no experience
with a pretty little woman
like Jackie.

Strange, Aloof and Sad...
to meet her “Mother”,
unexpectedly she came.

A loving look at Kitty
and Mia
became her name.

She'll purr and she'll mew
and the rest you'll not know
...unless you ask her so.

Did you know, “Mother Jack”,
Mia's vocab(ulary)
has 100 's of vocal sounds?
Suggest you do some “listenings”
to interpret what she's saying!

She'll stretch and stretch
and constantly groom.
With ogling eyes, she'll watch and wait
...yearning to be safe and warm.
Be kind to me...I'll be your Best Friend!”

There'll soon come a day,
on the window ledge she'll sit
or perched on a table with an arrogant look!
Her glance, when entering your door,
will strongly avow,
I'm Home...Your Guardian Angel,
Forever I'll Be!”

Merle Baird-Kerr  ... written August 24, 2009
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Next posting is a novella entitled
"My Cat House and Its Tenant"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Beautiful Parable

Long time friends occasionally send me special articles of human interest
that adapt exceedingly well to my Blog theme. This, from Sydney,
in June of this year, is outstanding!

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards
sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said, “I don't think
I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something
to eat.” “Is the man of the house home?” they asked. “No, she replied,
“He's out.” “Then we cannot come in,” they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had 
happened. “Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” he advised her.
The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a house
together,” they replied. “Why is that?” she asked. One of the old men
explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends;
and pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” 
Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband 
which one of us you want in your home.”

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband 
was overjoyed. “How nice!” he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our house with wealth!” His wife disagreed. 
“My dear, why don't we invite Success?” Their daughter-in-law was listening 
from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion, “Would it not be better to invite Love?
   Our home will then be filled with love!”

“Let us heed our daughter-in-law's advice,” said the husband to his wife.
“Go out and invite Love to be our guest.” The woman went out and asked
the three old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be
our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house.
The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked
Wealth and Success, “I only invited Love. Why are you coming in?”

The old man replied, “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two
of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love...wherever He goes,
we go with him. Wherever there is Love,
...there is always Wealth and Success!”

Merle Baird-Kerr
written October 9, 2011

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Praise God for Sunday School

Over the years I have developed
a “file of collectibles” to which I occasionally refer.
This was sent by my son in November, 2008.
Today is a Sunday...and consider it worthy to share with you.

Lot's Wife
The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot's wife looked back
and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Jason interrupted,
“My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,”
he announced triumphantly, “and she turned into a telephone pole!”

Did Noah Fish?
A Sunday School teacher asked, “Johnny, do you think
Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?”
No,” replied Johnny. “How could he, with just two worms?”

Higher Power
A Sunday School teacher said to her children,
“We have been learning how powerful kings and queens
were in Bible times. But there is a Higher Power.
Can anyone tell me what it is?”
One child blurted out, “Aces!”

Being Thankful
A Rabbi said to a precocious six-year-old boy,
So your mother says your prayers for you each night?
That is commendable. What does she say?”
The little boy pondered and replied, 
“Thank God he's in bed!”

Say a Prayer
Little Richie and his family were having Sunday dinner
at his grandmother's house. Everyone was seated around
the table as the food was being served. When little Richie
received his plate, he started eating right away.
Richie! Please wait until we say our prayer,” said his mother.
I don't need to,” the boy replied.Of course, you do,” his mother 
insisted. “We always say a prayer before eating at our house.” 
“That's at our house,” Richie explained.
But this is Grandma's house and she knows how to cook!”

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written Sunday, October 9, 2011

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Baking with "The Good Book"

Spoons and baking pans and...a Bible? Most modern bakers don't associate 
the Good Book with pulling together a batch of their favourite treats, but during the late 1800's, some Christians began using scripture as a code for turning recipes into riddles. “This was a cutesy way of letting people know that they knew their Bible,” says Joan Houston Hall, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English.” Recipes for so-called Scripture Cake fell out of popularity by the mid 1900's, but recently have enjoyed a revival among faith-based youth groups and parents looking to use the kitchen as another conduit to faith.

Recipe for the Scripture Cake

This dense, fruity cake calls for ingredients by way of scriptural references.
Ingredients are grouped for ease of method explanation. 
A translation of the recipe follows.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Part 1                                   Part 1
3/4 cup Psalms 55:21               In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat
1 cup Jeremiah 6:20                 the 1st ingredient until light and creamy. Add
3 Jeremiah 17:11                      the 2nd ingredient and beat until fluffy ...
1/4 cup Judges 4:19                  about two minutes, scraping down the sides
1tbsp. ISamuel 14:25               of the bowl after the 1st minute.
                                                 One at a time, add the 3rd ingredient, 
                                                  beating well after each addition.  
                                                 Mix in the remaining two ingredients.  Set aside.                             

Part 2                                   Part 2
2 1/4 cups Leviticus 6:15          In a large mesh strainer or flour sifter, combine
1/4 tsp.  Leviticus 2:13              the ingredients listed in Part 2.  Sift the 
1 tbsp. Amos 4:5                       ingredients together onto a sheet of parchment
                                                  paper or into a bowl.  (Reserve 1/4 cup.)   
                                                  With the mixer on low, add half of the remaining
                                                  Part 2 mixture to Part 1. Mix only until
                                                  thoroughly blended, scraping the sides
                                                  of the bowl as needed.
                                                  Add the remaining Part 2 mixture and mix until
                                                  blended to create the batter. 

Part 3                                    Part 3
1 cup ISamuel 30:12                  In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients of
1  cup Numbers 13:23               Part 3.  Add the reserved Part 2 mixture and 
1/2 cup Numbers 17:8               toss to lightly coat.  Add this mixture to the
                                                   batter  and use a silicone spatula to gently
                                                   fold in. Transfer the batter to the prepared
                                                   cake pans, filling them three-quarters full.
                                                   Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick
                                                   inserted at the centre comes out clean.  Cool on
                                                   rack for 15 minutes, then remove the cakes from
                                                   pans   and cool completely before serving.
                                                   If desired, dust with powdered sugar.
Heat the over to 350 degrees.
Lightly coat 3 mini loaf pans
with baking spray (a blend of
oil and flour).

Translation                         Approximate Nutrition per Serving
3/4 cup butter                            (when serving 10)
1 cup sugar                                470 calories.
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp. honey
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking spice blend  (or 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and
                                          1/4 tsp. allspice)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds.

The foregoing recipe adapted from “A Continual Feast” by Evelyn Birge Vitz.

Merle Baird-Kerr . . . written October 10, 2011
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