Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are You Listening?

Your Life is Speaking to You!

Barriers to Making Up...After an Argument

According to Jeff Herring and Maritza Parra, Arguments, disagreements, matter how good the relationship may be, these happen to all...creating unhappiness, displeasure, bitterness possibly.  And do you believe, that given time, all this will just go away? 

It's been said that the best part of arguments is the making up.  Yet, there are so many things that get in the way of making up.  Let's take a look at the top three barriers to making up and what to do instead:

Make Up Barrier 1 ~ You go first!  Out of pride, you think that you must wait for the other person to apologize first before you can make up.  Put two strong personalities together and this strategy can lead to lots of silence.
What to do instead ~ Compete to see who can be the first to apologize.  Yes, really.  Only for the strong of heart!

Make Up Barrier 2 ~ The right to be right.  This is a nice cousin to pride.  Fighting for the right to be right can cause people to argue and say things they don't even believe,...just to get it right!
What to do instead ~ Realize that fighting to be right means you get to be right at the expense of the relationship.  Giving up being right is the act of a strong person.

Make Up Barrier 3 ~ I don't know what to say.  Some people don't know how to make up because they actually don't know what to say!  So, instead they stay stuck and wait, depending on the other person to make the first move.
What to do instead ~ I don't really like it when we argue.  I'm sorry, let's make up.  And then let's talk about how to not have this happen again.

The next time there is a distance in the relationship due to any of these barriers , grab the above tips.

My Concise View of the Foregoing:
           NOTIFICATION ~ telling the other person what is upsetting and disturbing.   
           NEGOTIATION  ~ listen, understand; peacefully discuss solutions.
           AGREEMENT ~ through compromise and a willingness to accept and forgive. 
.4 Ways to become a Better Listener

Communication between individuals can be a powerful tool ~  it can nurture positive feelings of love, admiration and respect...or it can create negative emotions such as hurt feelings and anger.  Leaning an effective way to communicate will help prevent conflict  form damaging your relationship.  The following rules are meant to give you additional tools to help your communication as a couple.

Rule 1: Listen ~ This rule is pretty straight forward but is also often easier said than done.  You must be prepared to actively listen to what is being said.  This means are not talking or planning a response to what your partner is saying.  Active listening conveys that  you've understood what the speaker is saying. Make sure your body language signals that  you are listening intently to your partner.  An active listener...focuses their attention on the speaker; this may require that you look beyond the words or tone in order to uncover the tree essence of their message.

Rule 2: Stop pause, replay ~ After the speaker has communicated his point...pause to reflect on what has been said.  Replay in your own words what  you believe the speaker tried to communicate...this lets the speaker know that their communication has been received  and you've understood what they said.

Rule 3: Replay,not rebuttal ~ As tempting as it can be to use your  replay moment as an opportunity to further state  your point or voice a disagreement...doing so is actually counterproductive.  It pits one person's opinion against the other's.  The typical outcome is that one person feels like they won the argument (and of course, the other person loses).

Rule 4:  The art of understanding ~ Conveying that you understand what has been said shows your partner that you are paying attention.  It produces a feeling of validation for your partner.  Showing that you understand their message also communicates that sharing sensitive thoughts and feelings with  you can be done without fear of criticism or attack.  Keep the give and take of communication functional.  Being an attentive listener means that you have understood what your partner has said.  It does not, however, necessarily indicate that you agree with what they said.  If  your feeling or point of view is different...wait until you are the speaker...before sharing your perspective!

Carole Ann Tidey...Hamilton's Beauty Queen,
                                            became Miss Dominion of Canada in 1965. 

Jon Wells of the Hamilton Spectator in a recent interview with her wrote: "At 18, she knew everything. Today, she is wise enough to know that she knows little...apart from a few truths."

One thing I believe is that you need to find your core values
 and if you go against them, you are damaging yourself
and people around you. To me, it's about leading
 a principle-driven life and letting go of the outcomes.
And to remember that the conscious mind and the physical things 
around us are only a small part of what we actually can perceive.

“Quotes of Wisdom”

The more a man knows ~ the more he forgives.
(Catherine the Great)

Control your temper through concentration and patience.
Control everyday evil/crime through rules/authority.
Those who control their hearts to reject anger
deserve the greatest praise of all.
(Kymer Proverb)

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 22, 2013
Comments welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Life as the "EDI" Guy

My vocations in life were two-fold:  several years as a teacher in elementary schools and several as a real estate sales representative. These many varied  experiences...humourous, exciting (and even a few unpleasant) evolved on almost a daily basis.  Hence, it was an ambition of mine to write mini-books about...”Life as a Teacher” and later “Life as a Sales Rep.”

Others might write about their vocations such as Life as a Doctor, Life as a Psychologist, as a Nurse, Factory Worker, Dentist, Carpenter, Architect, Lawyer, Engineer, etc.  These I would assemble and have printed for reader enjoyment. 

Recently a family relative wrote the ensuing article concerning inside knowledge
about specialized computer technicians...which I happily share with you.

I once read a computer book that “Assembly Language” was a 'black art'
suited only to hackers and wizards.

While Assembly Language doesn't show up much these days
(I myself haven't had use for it in over 15 years),
the term is rather novel.

I work as an EDI Specialist, and quite often, given its cryptic-looking nature, EDI is thought of as a 'black art'.  All too often, even in major companies, EDI is delegated to one specialist who is known as the “EDI GUY”. Sometimes such a job is known as a “lone wolf”.

And typically, this specialist has absolute power over the server and data under his control.  Companies typically forget just how much highly sensitive data is at the mercy of the EDI Guy.  Not only does the EDI Guy have access to all their Purchase Orders, all their invoices, all their Shipment Manifests, which includes their main customers/supplier base, but if it is Health Insurance EDI, he's got arbitrary access to claimant's health care records.  (No wonder there are strict privacy laws for this!)

One firm where I used to work wanted to get an archive of all their production data for the past year on a dvd.  I said to them, “You do understand what you are asking for:  you need to keep that data encrypted, or in a very safe place.” When I handed them  an unencrypted dvd,  I stated to them, “Think of this as 'life blood'.  Critical information about your main supplier base and your purchasing deals, all of your invoices and even payment transaction information is on this dvd.  An unscrupulous competitor would pay very handsomely for a copy of this dvd.”

And the thing is, it's a difficult thing even for a well-meaning company to police.  Not only does the EDI Guy have free access to all this information, but he knows how to interpret it and is responsible for translating it to alternate formats.

Because of the high cost of trying to maintain controls and the tremendous breakdown of efficiency that such controls would impose, the most practical solution is just to give the EDI Guy absolute trust.  Oh, there are privacy and security contracts that he signs, of course, but that is just a legal threat for retaliation.  It offers no protection if said person is determined to compromise the system.  So, I often say that the EDI Guy has to be one of the most trusted people in the IT department.

On the up-side, it is just data in a computer, but it can have tremendous value to the party using it.

I had a situation in a job a while back where payment transactions to a bank in Hong Kong were held up because some encryption keys were soon to expire, and the new keys were not compatible with the bank at first; it took a few day to figure out what needed to be corrected.  But the payments were needed to pay Chinese New Year bonuses to factory workers, who badly needed them. I got online very late at night with the data people in Hong Kong and the off-shore support team in India whereby we temporarily switched the keys back  for an hour to get the critical transactions over, holding up other partners in a harmless retry state.  They were so thrilled that they got their payments out on time.  And that's where you stop to think of what a wide-spread blessing a bit of system manipulation can do.  Or on the down-side, what chaos it can cause.  Now if the system had been over-policed with controls, that might not have been possible.  All too often, an IT Admin has to jerry-rig something to get around a temporary problem.

Now I'm looking at an opportunity to finally work on Health Care Claims EDI.  I'm willing to do health care data, but I wouldn't  touch the biological aspects of it.

I figured that if I was going to do  health care, (and I hate biology), I would be a veterinarian.  Animals don't have all the gross self-imposed problems that people do, unless people have done something gross to them.  If I was going to work on people, I would be a pediatrician.  I would rather work on kids, who for the most part are not as polluted as adults.  For now, I'll try to get my feet wet with all the icky data.

“Pearl of Wisdom”
(from Dale Carnegie)
“There are four ways and only four ways
in which we have contact with the world.
We are evaluated and classified by four contacts:
what we we look...what we we say it!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 23, 2012
Comments welcome...scroll down...may sign as “anonymous”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Computer Craze (Part II)

As you are aware, ships have long been characterized as Female as in, “Steady as she goes” or “she's listing to starboard, Captain.” Most hurricanes are given Female that because there are no “hisicanes”? Men, when talking about their pride of vehicle, often will refer to this lovely machine as a Female…being beautiful, sensuous…even temperamental; to others ~ a comfort, security and stylish.

Is Your Computer Male...or...Female?
(I've read this before, yet worth repeating.)

Recently a group of computer scientists (all male) announced that computers should be referred to as being Female.  Their reasons for drawing this conclusion are the following:

No one but the Creator understands their internal logic.

The native language they use to communicate with other computers
is incomprehensible to everyone else.

The message,”Bad Command” or “File Name” is about as informative as,
“If you don't know why I'm mad at you, I'm certainly not going to tell you.”

Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term-memory...for later usage.

As soon as you make a commitment, you'll find yourself
spending half your pay cheque on accessories for it.

However, another group of computer scientists (all female) think that the computers should be referred to as Male.  Their reasons are as follows:

They have a lot of data, but are still clueless.

They are supposed to help you solve problems,
but half the time...they ARE the problem.

As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited
 a little longer, you could have obtained a better model.

In order to get their attention, you have to turn them ON!

Big power surges knock them out...for the rest of the day.

Rudyard Kipling stated
A Woman's much more accurate
than a man's guess.
(and with him, readers, I agree)

How Far Can This Computer Craze Go?

Perhaps we've only touched the “rim”, since new technology is constantly being tested and implemented into daily business and everyday life.  Project into the future and today you may say ~ Never!

I thought this might show us the future. I know I haven't kept up with
the current lingo and techie stuff! G.  Enjoy what might be ahead of us:

PASTOR:  “Praise the Lord!”

CONGREGATION:  “Hallelujah!”

PASTOR:  “Can we please turn on our tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone and Kindle Bible to 1 Cor. 13:13.  (This reads, 'and now abide faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these is charity').
And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon.”

P-a-u-s-e …

Now let us pray, committing this week into God's hands.
Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook...and chat with God.

S-i-l-e-n-c-e …

“As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready.”
“You can log on to the church wi-fi using password 'Lord909887'.”
The ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers:
Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church.
Those who prefer to use iPads can open them.
Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cellphones to transfer your contributions to the church account.
The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes truly electrified as ALL the smart phones, i Pads, PC's and laptops beep and flicker!

Final Blessing and Closing Announcements:

This week's ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual chatting takes place. Thursday's Bible study will be held live on Skype 1900 hrs. GMT. Please don't miss out.  You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counselling and prayers. 
 God bless you...and have a nice day. 

(Thanks to an ardent follower...for the foregoing)

Merle Baird-Kerr...crafted April 23, 2013
To comment...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Only Women Use Umbrellas

 My son, working in the “Big Apple” for several months,
has developed a keen insight of NYC
and writes a diagnosis about relevant experiences.

When I was about three or four  years old, my Mom told me that “only women use umbrellas”.  For about the next thirty years, I thought for a man to be using an umbrella was on par with wearing earrings or high heels.  Men...never, ever do that!

I always hated rainy days.  Although I had a rain coat, I always felt cold in the damp thing.  Most of the time when it rained, I  just got wet, because I hated rain coats ~ not because I thought they were effeminate, but because I felt cold and damp.

It would not be until 1998, when I was working in NW Arkansas (in the Ozark Mountains) with a close friend of mine...and we saw how lush and green everything was,   I said to my friend, “I get the feeling that it really knows how to rain around here.”

For those of you who have not been to the mid-west (or 'tornado alley' for that matter), let me take a moment to explain.  Rain in Arkansas is not like New Jersey rain, where it is just a light shower and you can walk home in it without getting significantly wet.  Arkansas has different kinds of rain:  like rain that falls horizontally and big old fat rain and rain that seem to come up from the ground.  You get the idea.  Heavy rain there, is fairly typical and you can be soaked to your skin in a minute; and you can only take so much of it before you finally say 'enough.' You toss those effeminate notions of carrying a brolly and  you get yourself a proper umbrella.

If it was raining and my friend, Bill, could not find a parking spot at work, he would wait by the front door for someone to come out.  And he would kindly offer to drive them to their car ~ so that he could have their parking spot when they left.

In Arkansas, I got over a thirty year notion and accepted the necessity of  an umbrella!

I was there on May 3, 1999, when the most violent tornado in history, did Oklahoma City.  Ted Fujita theorized it impossible for the atmosphere to support a vortex  whirling at over 300 MPH.  The all-time record (measured with portable Doppler radar), was Red Rock, OK at 280 MPH in the Andover  Outbreak of April 19, 1991. This monster of May 3 was clocked at 318 MPH ~ the top end of the F5 “incredible tornado” rating...and bordering on F6 “inconceivable tornado”.  Just thought I'd throw that in to illustrate that there's some pretty serious weather out there. When they say  “severe storm”, they mean it!

When I worked in California and they said, “severe storm”,  it “just rained”.  One afternoon my co-workers were gathered at the window, fascinated by the weather and seeing that it was raining outside, I said, “What's going on?” Someone said, “It's raining!”  Said I, “Yes, and...?”  That's it...just raining.

For about three years I was a full time bicycle  commuter.  In all that time, I only got caught in the rain two or three times.  One time was not particularly pleasant and I just reminded myself of 'warm shower/hot bath' when I get home.  Next morning, it was raining and I elected to take the bus.  But, it was a one-mile walk to the bus stop and I did not have a raincoat or a brolly.  I decided, I can either be cold and damp or I can be warm and wet.  So I packed a change of clothes in a plastic bag, rolled up in a duffel bag and I donned my 3/2 wet suit and dive boots to walk to the bus stop.  I figured, this way I can be soaking wet, but I will not be cold; however,  it just wasn't  raining heavily enough to be worthwhile.  They don't have big old fat rain in California!

So now, here in New Jersey and New York City, I am doing without a car.  I go everywhere by walking, bus and train.  I drove down with my Mom initially, who wanted to visit a friend in Connecticut.  My Mom said to me, “You might need an umbrella ~ I have an extra one there under the seat.”  So I pulled out this purse-sized umbrella in a colourful mosaic.  And if it is raining and I need to wait for a bus or walk a distance, it is nice to have.

Pastor Matt Swiatkowski saw my umbrella and  he told me that my umbrella looked effeminate and I should get a proper umbrella.  (There has to be some stigma about men and umbrellas.)  Indeed, when I arrived at the World Trade Center, everybody walking around the Financial District had a black umbrella, except me.  Mine was a colourful mosaic.  Now, I do not particularly want a black umbrella, but I do want a proper one.

And I do not need a Marine to follow me around to hold my umbrella for me!

I might be tempted to try the wet suit technique again,
but New York City is so paranoid ...I'm afraid
 the Anti Fourth Amendment Police  might detain me!

Footnote: Once, a few years ago, when driving to Bentonville, Arkansas where my  son worked, I stopped overnight at Terre Haute, Indiana (the mid-distance point to my destination).  He reminded me, prior to leaving home, that I’d be driving through “tornado alley” and therefore be aware! Carrying his computer and other personal items for him, I parked adjacent to what seemed a sturdily-built motel.  The late evening news spoke of possible tornado activity in this area.  Next morning, with a cup of hot coffee in hand, I checked that my vehicle was still intact. 

As I drove westward towards St. Louis, fallen heavy limbs, split tree trunks and vastly strewn leaves were evident.  News reports indicated that the tornado had touched some areas in this Missouri city and eastward, had done some damage in Cincinnati, Ohio. It missed me!!!

Shortly past Joplin, Missouri (of approximately 50,000 population), I turned south heading for the peacefully, scenic Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas.

It was Sunday, May 22, 2011 that Joplin was utterly devastated by an EF5  multiple-vortex tornado that killed 158 people and injuring hundreds more…their city almost wiped out!  Today, these people are rushing to aid survivors in Oklahoma City’s devastation.

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr … May 20, 2013
Comments Welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Friday, May 17, 2013

Computer Craze (Part I)

Many years ago when businesses first implemented the use of computers,
the Royal Bank in my neighbourhood had a small printed sign at each  teller's window:

To err is human...
to really foul things up
takes a computer!

Since the inception of new technology storing data and executing its knowledge, systems have become quite complex and to some people...very complicated.  Numerous courses are available through schools and Seniors' centres.  Degrees can be earned through universities in Mathematics or Computer Science. use has become a “science”! 

Finally...Computer Settings I  Understand!
(thanks to Sydney’s sending to me)

Windows cannot find the file.  Would you like wine instead?
Click on....YES...or...NO.

You have been online for one year.  Do you wish to log off and get a life?
Click on...YES...or...No...or...Remind me Next Year.

Plus several cartoons depicting  everyday dilemmas.

Computers' Humourous Situations and Outcomes

HELP!  I'm online and I can't get OFF!

All I did was hit the DELETE button...and my computer
went POOF and disappeared.

(Picture depicts a man on his hands and knees
behind his computer desk amid...wires, wires, wires)
Advice to him from technician on the telephone to him,
“Now...if you can find the Power Switch,

A woman goes to her outside mailbox to retrieve letters
(but the box is empty).
She mutters to herself,  “The computer keeps saying,
“You've got MAIL”!

An elated looking cat is sitting at the computer
observing his clever action...
“COOL!  I just sold the dog on E-BAY!”

A man is sitting at his computer desk; his yellow pet tabby cat
is sprawled across his right knee, with  head and glowing eyes, resting
where the mouse should have been.
Man comments, “ It's going to take me a little longer
to answer my e-mails now.”

Sitting at her computer, a woman is totally frustrated
and states, “I keep hitting  ESCAPE...
but I'm still here!!!”

Home computers are the perfect thing for Women
who don't feel that Men provide them with
enough frustration!

Ever notice, the older we get, the more we're like computers.
We start out with lots of MEMORY and DRIVE!

Life...Before Computers

Memory was something you lost with age.
An Application was for employment.
A Program was a TV show.
A Cursor used profanity.
A Keyboard was a piano.
A Web was a spider's home.
A Virus was the flu.
A CD was a bank account.
A Hard Drive was a long trip on the road.
A Mouse pad was where the mouse lived.
And if you had a 3 ½ Inch Floppy ~
you just hoped nobody found out.

Although my son is a Technical Analyst, I am far from being “computer literate”.  Computers often are an Enigma to me…puzzling and confusing. However, through his guidance, I’ve been able to develop a Blog…said procedure has now become automatic. He bails me out of difficulties and places me again “online” for research, e-mails and the learning of one or more new techniques.
How fortunate…I am!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written January 25, 2013.
Comments welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Woman's Inspiration (Part III)

Women, for generations, have been “the underdogs” in the business world. Women, in this current century, have most definitely proven to be otherwise...regardless of the genre of vocations! I often wonder if men have pursued knowledge from other males to create, develop and accordingly  build their own characters ...or whether one will take another “under his wing” to guide him successfully through Life's path.

...and now to continue with Part III

After Ricardo and I were married, we lived in a town home complex with tennis courts, inground pool and wading pool for young children...ideal for families.  Shirley became my best friend for many years.  She had two children, as I did.  We took them to playgrounds, to the theatre, to “dramatized children's plays in the park”.  She and I learned to crochet together...our winter project...scarves and hats for the children and ourselves, vests, ponchos...and when we became more proficient, bought yarn and attempted our biggest crochet a summer dress...using the same pattern, hers was a peach shade and mine ice-blue.  We were So Proud of our endeavour...and still knit and crochet today.

Shirley was also a skier.  Frequently, we'd afternoon ski at Chedoke in Hamilton or
Milton's Glen Eden. Often we drove north of Toronto to Barrie's Mt. St. Louis or Moonstone or Horseshoe Valley.  When my son was 12, we ventured to Gray Rocks for a the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal.

Ricardo, whom I called Dick, desired that I visit his family in Chile.  I arranged January and February off from teaching to meet his relations in the summer months  (Southern Hemisphere).  I correlated this journey to also photo the culture, the scenery, the taught in my Grade 8 Geography classes.  In early December, my husband informed me that he was not going.  On January 4th, I flew from Toronto to New York with my little boy (who became 4 years old in November).  We spent a week in Guayaquil, Ecuador visiting Dick's sister, Alice, husband Mike and baby girl.  On the weekend we flew to Quito, the capital city of 125,000 population high in the Andes at an elevation of 9,300 feet.  Upon return, the 5 of us flew to Santiago, Chile to spend 5 weeks with the Baird-Kerr kin and friends. Families warmly and lovingly accepted me and this young Canadian boy.  A stunningly beautiful country! The country, stunningly beautiful!  The Andes majestic!  The Pacific coast ruggedly dramatic! The food deliciously appetizing!

This was an opportunity, when leaving Chile, to visit my missionary friends in Buenos Aires...Jean and thrilled to spend a few days with their family, living in.a city of millions!  From there, we soared over Iguazu Falls en route to Rio de Janeiro.  Dick's cousin, Joan and her husband, Bill, reside in this Mardi Gras city.  Driving into the rain forest one day toward the Summer Palace, we stopped at a roadside cafe for lunch.  My son discovered a colouful snake...our chauffeur strongly admonished him NOT to pick up this poisonous “coral snake”.  The weather in Rio was Hot, Humid and Sultry!  I understood then why Joan's closet was full of cotton clothing!

The journey to these four South American countries ~ .So Culturally Inspiring!  So Beautifully Scenic!  So Educational!  We flew from Rio at midnight with spectacular memories...the coast of the bay, lit like a “necklace” against the backdrop of young rugged mountains and Mount Corcovado’s illuminated Statue of the Christ. These last views from the star studded sky travelled with us as the Varig flight ascended to higher altitudes.

The slide photos taken these 8 weeks, I assembled into a Geography presentation for several Grade 8 classes  of students...a great teaching medium.  The parents of neighbouring senior schools requested a special presentation just for them and their Grade 7 and 8 children.

When my daughter was born, I became a “stay-at-home-Mom” for several years.  At the Colour Photographic Club of Burlington, I met avid and gifted photographer. By day, she was an English High School Teacher.  My friendship with her remains to this day!  From her and other Club members,  I learned the techniques of composition and lighting...both instrumental in the quality of good photos! She experimented successfully with “photo essays”...assembled with 2 projectors, sound, music and commentary.  Her work was brilliant!  Since retiring from her teaching position, she moved to her Kitchener family home to care for her elderly father and to tend to the landscaped gardens and sizeable property.  She became a photographic critic and judge for several local camera clubs. We frequently attended Shakespearean plays and musicals at the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the Lake.
Of Interest:  When Mychael Danna attended Nelson High School, here in Burlington, he was a student in Julia's English classes.  At the Academy Awards (2013), he won 1 of the 4 awards ~ for Best Original Score ~ which he wrote for the movie...Life of Pi. In late April (2013) he was honoured at Port Nelson United Church (with a membership of 700) where he and his family attended church and sang in their choir.

Before my daughter started school, I became engaged in community activities.  While canvassing the neighbourhood for a politician running in the Municipal Elections, I met Joan, discovering that she had a daughter, Heather...our 2 little girls became friends sharing many fun times together. No grass “grew under Joan's feet”!  I respected her attitude and enjoyment of life!  Everything was  Positive with her. In an afternoon conversation with her over hot tea and scones, she announced that Joel and she had bought a new home in Brant Hills and would be  moving there in 6 months. I was saddened, but happy!
Surprising was our discovery that in North Burlington, we would be only a few  blocks from each other...I too had purchased a lot with house to built. 

After our new deep lot was fenced, we bought Kiska, a Siberian puppy.  Our girls enjoyed playing with her...even together painted the dog house.  Joan and I were “great inspiration” for each other!  When our girls were about 8 or 9, they spent a few “riding camp weeks” at Bertin Stables in Oakville; and continued through elementary and high school classes together.  Too many experiences to relate here.

Verna Williams was truly,  not only a maven (one who is experienced and knowledgeable) but also a chatelaine (the mistress of fashion)!  I was so privileged to meet her and become a trusted friend.  My marriage was “at a low” and I was on the verge of depression...beginning to lack focus in  my life, I needed a “picker-upper”...I needed to reinstate my positive attitude...I needed someone to inspire me!  It was then, I consulted Verna about her business...a “finishing school” possibly to create a renewed zest and improve my outlook...a goal to shoot achievement to accomplish!  There she was...tall and stately as a queen, immaculately manicured in every way and fashionably dressed!!!  This was Verna Williams Modelling School. Instantly for me, there was a connection!  I had come to the right place!  She listened to my needs...then proposed a program of make-up...of wardrobe selection...of suitable colour co-ordination to enhance  skin colour, hair and eyes...of posture and graceful body movement! My once-a-week appointment with her succeeded.  Then to develop poise, she enrolled me in her modelling classes...(I had not come here for the latter...having no intention of  runway-modelling!)

Since this was her designed program for me, I agreed.  It was a Mall fashion show representing 2 or 3 of the clothing merchants.  I had practised my walk, my steps and turns well!  I wore artificial eye lashes and applied suitable make-up for stage presentation.  So Nervous I Was, which she sensed and aside, commented, “If you make a mistake, the only people who will notice are You and Me!” With that instruction from her whom I trusted, this was the first of many...modelling fashions  that “I could sell on the runway”.  She recognized capabilities ...soon I was teaching her children and teens (students) the The Art of Runway Modelling!  Three of us she invited to join a class of Fashion Co-ordination.. We each had this unique flair for fashion style and colour.  The importance and success of any show is the planning and organization!  We were given student-models from her classes  to strut the runway for us.  It was our responsibility to contact the said participating fashion shops involved who designated the clothing and accessories to be worn...then we would assess each model given us “to dress”.  Timing was Crucial! The commentary written by each of us for our own show must be “colourful and exciting” to capture audience attention!  Often we provided music background.  For charity events, I usually arranged a live musical ensemble for the event.  Attractive hand-out programs, to me were also a must!

At a local Sunday evening dance, I met Jill. Discussing similar interests in crafts and sewing, we were aware of each other's creative skills...and Mardadi Designs was born!  We crafted accessories for Women, for Men and Children...hats, scarves, jackets from Indian blankets, reversible vests, lambskin fleece shawls.  We displayed our unique clothing at Trade Shows, Business Networking Organizations, Bazaars and Charity events.  We designed attractive brochures and clothing tags.  Frequently, Jill and I socialize, attend movies, sometimes discuss our health issues…and lunch together.

Elka, of German heritage, is very attractive and statuesque.  We met at a restaurant/bar...each of us ordering a glass of wine.  It was a surprise to learn... that we lived in the same lakefront apartment bldg.
We both lived on the 18th floor facing Lake Ontario.  She was (and still is ) a flamboyant hostess enjoying parties, people and food.  Her dynamic personality, her thrill of skiing, her joy of travel, her love of life...was “music to my ears”!  One Thanksgiving weekend we set out on an exciting drive to Canada's east coast...Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Along the Halifax waterfront, we visited the centre to where, at 18 years of age, she immigrated from Germany.  Watching the documentaries brought tears to her yes and mine as she recalled her emotional decisions at that time.   In New Brunswick near the Bay of Fundy, we visited long-time-friends of mine, Flo and John, originally from Hamilton...they graciously welcomed us for a few days. Today, we communicate by e-mail and occasionally meet for breakfast or lunch. 

Women Who Excel is a Business Networking Organization which promotes business among its very talented women members.  A few of these women, I found outstanding:  Sherrie, a furrier of distinction (a very special person whose association even today I treasure);  Dilu, a designer of women's haute couture (and for whom I modeled a few of her personal designs), Mirella with an upscale fashion shop for business and formal wear, plus accessories.  Our lives have run on parallel lines, having similar experiences and challenges along the Highway of Life. We have the freedom to call upon any of our now 25-year-or-more acquaintances in times of friendship and need.  We truly inspire each other!

With great thanks, I pay tribute to Pary...a gentle, kind and caring friend who with her vast know-how of computers (and mine so limited), guided me through the techniques of creating a “document” in preparation of  posting articles on a blog.  Very detailed and patient, she taught me step-by-step the “how to” of many computer programs. Without  her capable assistance and especially that of my son’s, would I have ever begun my Kaleidoscope  blog!

Living  for nearly 7 years in a Seniors’ residence of 109 apartments, I recognize most faces and a few by name  I respect them all and assist them whenever possible.  Most, call me by name!

* * * * * * * * * * *

I am confident that  you, as a  reader, can reflect upon your own life and could recall several women (or men) who have generated a positive influence on your decisions and personal growth...whether, friend, neighbour, teacher or business associate.

How could one not remember the Greatest Teacher of All...our Mothers who set examples and the standard of living successfully!  For most, Mother is the Daughter's Mentor...though often, this is not recognized and appreciated until later in life.

A few years ago, my daughter requested that I sew a set of new buttons on her jacket.  I asked  her, “Why?  You are so capable,” to which she replied, “Because You're the Mom!”

A Spectator reader recently inquired from a columnist, “As a mother of 3, when do I stop being the Mother?  When do my husband and I (who love and care for our matter how old they are or where they are in their lives or what they are doing) stop being their parents?”
“The answer, in  my opinion,” stated the columnist,
“is NEVER!”

Consider these Significant Women, who through years, whether low or high class
contributed through their knowledge and their deeds to the well-being of other women:
                                      Florence Nightingale                        Katharine Hepburn
                                      Marie Curie                                       Mother Teresa
                                      Helena Rubinstein                             Eva Peron
                                      Helen Keller                                      Billy Jean King
                                      Eleanor Roosevelt                              Diana, Princess of Wales
                                           A little research on each of the above will surprise you!

Annie Lennox  in “The Rite of Women in a Changing World Wrote:
We are Mothers.  We are Portals.
The next generation comes through our bodies.

Merle Baird-Kerr … written February 2011
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Woman's Inspiration (Part II)

Judy, I met at Teachers' College...also from Brantford.  An attractive girl, well-cultured, intelligent and wonderful personality.  She drove one of those Metropolitan small cars...yellow in colour.  In exchange for driving  lessons, I sewed and altered clothes for her...gave her also a few hand-crafted items.  One summer, while working at my Dad's garage in Brantford. I asked if he would allow me to use his vehicle to test for my driver's licence.  This, he flatly denied!  I contacted Judy, seeking her assistance.  She offered her car to drive and take my test in Hamilton...bless her heart!  I was “on a high” now as I rode the bus to Hamilton and was also confident, with licence in hand, my Dad would permit me to drive!  When my parents suggested going to Lake Erie one Sunday, again I was denied driving...his response being, “We'd better get there first.”  I never did drive his vehicle until after my June marriage.  In November of that year, he had a heart attack and passed away.  It was a powder blue Wildcat Buick that I drove back to Hamilton to keep over the winter season...returning it to my Mother in the spring; she had decided to take lessons and get her driver's licence...passing the test on her third attempt…and now for her “a new lease on life”!  In this case…daughter influencing the mother!

A life-long passion I had, was to SKI!  Friends from Teachers' College told me about Cedar Springs Ski Club...and it would be easy...just come with them and they'd teach me...a smallish club in North Burlington, quite accessible. I rented skis and poles...fell and tumbled numerous times!  Wrong Thing To Do...learning from learns their bad habits!  There I met avid skier and...a High School Physical Education Teacher...a delightful person, anxious for weekend company with whom to travel and ski!  Every winter weekend, three or four would rise at her with her Volkswagen Bug, mount skis and poles on her roof rack and drive 1 ½ to 2 hours or more to Collingwood, Barrie, or to Holiday Valley (south of Buffalo)...regardless of the weather!  More than once, we'd follow the snowplow to reach our destination...worry about driving home later!  Imagine lining up, on the slopes for a buffet spread of lunch including hot glu-vine or an ale...with yodelling music heard everywhere...superb!  Even to appreciate the winter beauty of snow-laden evergreens and icicles hanging from rooftops of the chalets, blue skies and white drifty clouds.  What a Life!  So Exhilarating! Our Monday to Friday teaching days sped by quickly in anticipation of our weekend excitement.  Marnie lived with her parents  on Auchmar escarpment-edge home, built by her father, which overlooked the lower city, the harbour and Lake Ontario with its sweeping views from Burlington to Toronto.  On a clear day, one could see the CN Tower on this city's waterfront!  Over Christmas and New Year's holidays, 2 or3 times we drove to The Laurentians, north of Montreal for ski weeks.  Lessons included, we feasted on French cuisine, the frigid crisp air, the apres-ski bar in late afternoon when the “lifts” closed. With a warm fire blazing, a  local small-piece band entertaining us,  we relaxed:  boots off, jackets unzipped and a cold beer in hand.  Memories...from memorable friends!

After Mary and Murray were married, I located new room mates:  Mim (Miriam) a teacher and her sister, Pat, a nurse.  Our abode was a 2nd floor apartment in a stately 2 ½  storey red brick home facing the gardened Barnesdale Boulevard.  Every Thanksgiving weekend for several years, 4 or 5 friends rented a car and drove to view the magnificent colour foliage in Haliburton.  Mim and Pat's parents owned a cottage along the Fenelon River near Fenelon Falls.  It was always a wonderful weekend despite the volume of traffic along the 400 route on our return trip. 

One summer, Mim invited me to travel with her to the west coast.  We selected an extra-ordinary tour for the month of July.  A boat-train railed us to Port McNicoll (near Midland) on Georgian Bay to then board a passenger ship sailing north through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie and northwesterly to what is known today as Thunder Bay.  We viewed  Kakabeka Falls just north of Lake Superior.  The Canadian National Railway transported us across the prairie provinces (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) then northwest to Jasper National Park in Alberta.  Maligne Lake is an absolute “jewel” set in the Rocky refreshing to swim early morning in this mountain-fed glacial water.  Wow!!!  After a hearty breakfast, Mim and I were overwhelmed with the snow-capped Rockies, gushing rivers and lush green forests en route by train to Vancouver. we come!  A CNR cruise liner plied the west coast along the Inside Passage...port calls between the islands and the mainland.  

In Ketchikan, we saw salmon climbing the fish ladders to spawn in fresh waters...toured fish canneries in operation.  In Juneau, the Alaskan skyline is awesome!  During gold-rush-days, a narrow gauge railway was built for miners to pan for gold in the interior.  We rode the White Pass railway to Carcross (cariboo crossing), viewing milky-aqua lake waters, forever snow-capped peaks and relished the fish-fest lunch at this stopping place.  Back in Juneau, we joined the entertainment at the Red Door Saloon.  This trip to Alaska is one every Canadian in his lifetime should experience...the unspoiled natural beauty of mountains, tumbling rivers, ice fields and glaciers, the ruggedness of the coastline and Indian totem poles. Mim was definitely excited about this Alaskan cruise...she met Ed!  From Edmonton, Alberta, he was an engineer regularly inspecting the several government operated dams throughout the province.

Returning to Vancouver, Mim and I ferried to Vancouver Island's capital city, Victoria and Ed to his uncle and aunt's place in Nanaimo overlooking the Strait of Georgia and BC's mainland.  He came to Victoria to meet us, taking us to his relative's home to spend a few days.  Next day, when the tide was out, he provided us with long pole sticks for support to walk the soft wet sand beach...we saw numerous purplish starfish and coloured stones.  Ed's interest was the oysters...a rare treat, he told us, as he opened the shell, dipped the raw meat into the salt water and deliciously mouthing it to savour the flavour!  Of course, Mim and I had to sample this “delicacy”.  One was enough for me!  The conclusion to this tour culminated in Ed spending Christmas at Mim's home in Uxbridge (east of Toronto).  On Valentine's Day, they were engaged and to be married in the summer.  Her possessions and treasures were sent by trunk-loads to and from Edmonton. We corresponded for a couple years...our lives had become busy!  There was always the thought that we'd meet again.

Through the Teachers' Federation, I met Joyce. She was a Home Economics High School Teacher.  Our friendship “clicked” .  We shared a 2-bedroom apartment on St. Joseph Drive in Hamilton located near the base of the escarpment.  One summer we drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba in her new pale green Ford Falcon to visit her sister.  Joyce was very craft-oriented, introducing me to petit-point stitching.  At Mary Maxim outlet in Winnipeg, I decided that if Joyce could accomplish this art, so could I.  Patterns and threads depicting Indian children, a squaw and chief in beaded leather wear appealed to me.  With these in my bag, we headed far north to Flin Flon which was her home town...well known for its ore mining.  Her parents had a cottage bordering a lake where we spent a couple weeks...sitting on  the dock with my “Indian children, embroidery floss, pattern and needle”. I became “hooked” on this craft!

When I was in Brantford on weekends, I usually attended a Young People’s Fellowship group at a local church.  One young lady I greatly admired was Marie…from a good family, who was attractive and seemed well-adjusted  to life.  If I could emulate her, I’d be happy!  Stella, another church acquaintance advised me to “Be Yourself and let your individual personality develop.”  I accepted this a good philosophy and decided to be the person I wanted to be and not to pretend to be someone else.  I found my niche with this group.  I suggested we could perform as an acting cast to present a play…as a fundraiser.  It was a comedy by Samuel French for 6 characters.  We obtained the rights to use this play.  Together we accomplished this feat with great success…a stage set we built, costumes made, lighting and music arranged.  Christine, a silver-haired lady member of the church apparently recognized my ability. She’d had the initiative to create The Fledgling...a newsletter announcing events and news of the church…a monthly publication distributed to members and visitors.  She asked if I would consider taking over this project to “give it some wings”. We worked an arrangement whereby she would gather the local “news”  and I would assemble it.  Reluctant I was at first (what do I know about writing something, packaging it with a cover page and being responsible for increased success???)  Actually, Christine was instrumental in tapping into my hidden writing skills…I believe she was certain that as a teacher, I automatically had this ability.  I designed a front cover for The Fledgling and wrote a personal article in each issue.

Another opportunity arose:  On Sunday afternoons, 2 or 3 church elders drove to a rural country church to hold a service.  The attending families requested something special for a Christmas concert.  I loved the story of The Littlest Angel which would be “ever so perfect”. I rewrote it into a play. Mothers of the children made white gowns and I created gauzy angel wings and sparkling tiaras.  This was so delightful…appreciation and sincerity from these rural people...all brought tears to my eyes.  It amazed me that such a small idea…became the focal point of their Christmas concert.

Gloria was a very special lady…only a short time in Brantford biding time until her appointment from Ottawa was activated. Groomed as a top-flight secretary, we frequently chatted about job opportunities.  She would be sent to any country in the world where a Canadian ambassador was placed in a foreign embassy.  We  both looked forward to our weekend visitations. After 18 months, she was notified of  her assignment in Teheran, Iran.  We corresponded regularly.  Upon completion of her “tour of duty” she mailed me a piece of art depicting the writings of Omar Khayyam (born 1048 AD), an Islamic scholar who was a poet, mathematician and compiled astronomical tables.  Beautifully ornate with a  Persian border, I gold-framed it and valued Omar immensely. How she enhanced my knowledge of  embassies and the country of Iran!

At Hampton Heights School where I taught Grade Eight students for 5 years, I met Louise…the sweet secretary, who with the principal, kept the administration running smoothly.  Again, a new friendship was “in the making”.  Her parents, Salvation Army, had spent several years in Jamaica. There, she attended a British school while her father chaplained a district in Kingston. Her brother and his wife were now serving “the Army” in a needy part of this same city.  Her family invited me join them on their visit to Jamaica.  We drove to Miami…did a bit of shopping…including a couple long-play records of Latin music. After flying to Jamaica, Louise and I spent a week with her parents and  her brother’s family.  Sultry Hot Weather!  Vendors were on the street daily at 6 AM selling fruits and vegetables.  Scissor and knife sharpeners were ready to ply their wares and. women, young and old carrying produce on their heads to sell. One afternoon we enjoyed High Tea with British acquaintances. We visited the Botanical Gardens…tropical plantings of banana palms, magnolias, many hibiscus that grow wild, the Royal Poinciana with its voluminous red blooms…and climbing ivies that twist through the highest of trees.  For a few days we stayed at a Salvation Army Retreat.  The area was tropically beautiful.  Near an old church was a broad concrete slab with pimento beans (allspice) roasting and browning in the hot sun.  A burly black man (reminding me of Buddha) would raise his portly self to re-rake these beans to roast to perfection. He shook down a coconut from a tall palm tree and with his machete, opened it, inviting us to drink its milky contents.  Louise knew this place well.  With a prepared lunch, we trailed through the tropical growth to a path leading down to a quiet sheltered cove.  (I was assured there were no snakes on the island…at least I did not see one.)  So scenically beautiful was this cove…reminding me of pirate days long ago…and how idyllic the blue water!  When a brief shower occurs, the best cover is a large banana palm leaf.  One could ponder, visualize and dream here...where the hours and the minutes mean nothing…only paradise!

Louise contacted a couple school friends she had while living here.  Yes, they were available and had a boat…we could sail to the keys.  One’s mother had a guest house (Bed and Breakfast) at Port Antonio who welcomed us to stay a few days.  From the cays, we watched freighters and cruise ships as they slowly glided to their Kingston port of destination.  I wasn’t so fond of the eels I saw slithering the water.  In the evening we visited a cafĂ©/bar with an entry of long strings of coloured beads.  The cool tropical drinks on the deck and dancers inspired by the reggae beat of music absorbed our minds and body as Caribbean waters lapped and washed ashore before our eyes.

When we returned to Miami I discovered that the records we left in the car were badly warped!

Back home in Hamilton, Louise and I missed the Latin music of the island. We  took dance lessons to learn a few steps.  Here, she met Stan whom she later married and I met Ricardo from Chile who came to McMaster University to study and now employed as a research chemist at Stelco.  He sought instruction at the dance studio  to  “foxtrot” and “waltz”.  

Lessons Learned Over the Years About a Woman’s Role in Life

                               You are a unique person.  The greatest possession you have
                                is your Individuality  and Uniqueness.

                                Accept yourself as you are. Self-acceptance means a feeling
                                of  Self-Respect…a feeling that…You are Worthwhile.

                                Be a Self-Directed Person.  Don’t conform to what is necessary
                                to gain Acceptance  and Approval from people.

…to be continued …A Woman’s Inspiration (Part III)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written February, 2011
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