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
To comment...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”


  1. Merle,

    Thankyou so much for this Trilogy of a Tribute to Women this Mother's Day... This is so well written and so deservedly read...And one more thing....Grandmas are Moms with lots of frosting. ~Author Unknown

    Sherrie H&K

  2. Thank you Sherrie! We are both Moms and Grandmas. May we always be "young at heart"!
    My frosting is like Almond Liqueur...yours like Vanilla Ice.

  3. " Too many experiences to relate here, " you say in your relationship with Joan, opening our minds to all the wonderful things not mentioned in this article....
    New revelations in every posting. Getting better and better
    with every byte. Thank you for your generosity of information and your obvious courage.

  4. Dear Sol...very perceptive to note that "many wonderful things not mentioned"...So True.
    I could write a separate article on any of these women...perhaps even a novel. With each I gained INSPIRATION (which was mutual)...the true meaning of FRIENDSHIP. Thank you for your insight.

  5. ANITA wrote on May 10: "What a wonderful way to celebrate your friends. Your charming friendship stories seem to flow in chronological order and lead us from one beautiful crafted life experience to the next. I am enjoying them very much and glad I met you at Pary's birthday party last Sunday. Thank You."

    1. Truly, it was a pleasure to meet you. So pleased with your comments. Prior to the inception of my blog, friends strongly urged me to write about personal experiences to which readers could also referred to memories of skiing and crochet. Hope we meet again soon.

  6. A LONG TIME FRIEND writes anonymously: "Thanks Merle, for this wonderful 3-part series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and truly being inspired. You are a great writer who can really make women wake up. I really feel that you are the true inspiration to women. Keep it up! I really am very proud to be your friend.
    Happy Mother's Day to you and may you always provide us with many more reads...and keep all the women in this so unstable world inspired."

  7. Dear Friend: Such kind words, you've expressed! Your sentiments I appreciate greatly. Thank you for being an ardent reader.