Monday, December 29, 2014

Journey on a Train

(with compliments to Sherrie who submitted this to me July 2014

Life is like a journey on a train...with its stations...with changes of routes...and with accidents.
At birth, we boarded the train and met our parents, believing they'll always travel by our side.
However, at some station, our parents will step down from the train...
leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train;
and they will be significant...our siblings, our friends and our children.

Many will step down leaving a  permanent vacuum; others'll  go unnoticed,
not realizing they vacated. The train ride will be full of joy, sorry, fantasy, expectations, hellos,
good-byes and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers...
requiring that we give the best of ourselves.
The mystery to everyone is: 
We do not know at which station, we ourselves will step down. 
So we must live in the best...
and offer the best of who we are to any time.

It is important to do this, 
because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty ~ 
we should leave many memories for those 
who will continue to travel on the train of life.
I wish you a joyful journey for the coming year on the Train of Life.
Gather success and give lots of sincere love.
More importantly, thank God for the journey!
Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.

Advice from a Train

God's given you a ticket for passage through Life.
Always be punctual according to departures.
Set specific goals to reach destinations.
Greet all passengers, with a smile on your face.
Your guide's the Him thro' your travel.

Be not shunted, nor become de-railed.
Keep your wheels shining; keep clogging along.
Keep  your pistons strong and your engine well-fueled.
Each bend on the track is a new experience.
Silver rails will carry you from depot to depot.

Enjoy the mountain views and fast flowing rivers;
Even through valleys, keep eyes on the horizon.
“Always smell the roses,” a poet once said,
For Life is Gift ~  ready to Unfold!
All Aboard ~ Train No. 2-0-1-5

(Poem penned by MB-K ...Dec.18, 2014)

In addition to the foregoing, I send you a magnificent train ride through various countries sent to me  by Tom.  Life can be ‘just as beautiful’ if we open our hearts and minds. Travelling on this scenic ride is rewarding…whether through Canada, United States, Europe…or wherever you may be.

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Friday, December 26, 2014

"Tree of Lights"

 An Affirmation of Your Loved Ones' Lives 

More and more each day we miss him;
Friends may think the wound is healed.
But they little know the sorrow
Lying within our hearts concealed.
(Unknown Author)

Many a day her name is spoken.
And many an hour she is in our thoughts.
A link in our family chain is broken.
She is gone from our home…but not from our hearts.
(Unknown Author)

On Monday, December 22, 2014 Bereaved Families of Ontario~South Central Region hosted a 'Family Tree of Lights' to honour children, siblings, spouses and parents who have died.  The Markey family has graciously donated the special 50-foot blue spruce tree, which was decorated with crystal-clear lights that will shine brightly as a living memory from December 22 through to the New Year.

The lights lit at the lighting ceremony during the event are an affirmation of  your loved ones' lives and they acknowledged cherished memories.  A complete listing of all the loved ones was published on December 24 in a special advertisement donated by The Hamilton Spectator.  The name listing was also posted on the Bereaved Families website at  and mailed to donors accompanying their tax receipt, as well as read aloud at the event.

“The event is open to anyone who would like to honour their loved one(s) during the week of Christmas,” said Lisa Lesnicki-Young, Executive Director, Bereaved Families of Ontario, South Central Region. The Family Tree of Lights has been held for four years and this year's ceremony was held at Bay Gardens in West Burlington from 7 to 8:30 pm.

Entering Bay Gardens, visitors were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the Sons of Italy Choir and complimentary desserts, hot chocolate and coffee provided for all guests.  Children had the opportunity to make an angel ornament to take home.  The Bereaved Families signature 2014 glass Angel Ornament would be for sale.  The event took place indoors except for the tree lighting outdoors. A tribute carol was sung around the tree.

“Grief can sideswipe you when you don't expect it,
when you think you have everything together...
the Family Tree of Lights is a symbol of hope,
that you are not alone in your grief
and to reach out to us when you need support.”

“We created an event at one of the most difficult times of the year because many of the people who attend, are bereaved children and parents who have been to our grief-support-programs and TLC Family Camp at YMCA Wanakita,” said Lesnicki-Young. “We have learned from them that having a special acknowledgment event during the week of Christmas gives them an outlet to honour their loved ones  in a supportive environment where the people who are also attending...understand.”

Pearls of Wisdom
We do not remember the days. We remember the moments.
(Cesar Pavese)

The truth is ~
“You don’t  know what is going to happen tomorrow.
Life is a crazy ride…and nothing is guaranteed.”

Submitted by Merle Baird-Kerr...December 25, 2014
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Traditions

In countries around the world, these seasonal traditions vary.  You and your family may have originated in Europe...maybe Asia, Africa or Australia; perhaps your heritage is of the Caribbean Islands or South America. Residing here in North America, quite likely you've retained your family tradition(s) and/or combined them with ours here. Culture is inspiring...and instrumental in maintaining family unity.

Big Tree:  The medieval town of Gubbio, Italy, lies at the foot of Mount Ingino. Each Christmas, the townsfolk light up what is known as 'the world's largest Christmas tree.'  It is actually an illumination shaped like a Christmas tree. It is over 2,000 feet high and is made up of more than 900 bulbs connected by hundreds of feet of electric cables.  This light sculpture, which can be seen 30 miles away, covers the mountainside above the town.  Initiated and organized by volunteers, this annual tradition started in 1981.  Today, solar panels help to provide the power to light it.

Santa's Chimney:  In the Cotswold Hills in the south of England, a young boy is very happy that a local builder took his concern seriously.  Leo Park wrote to builder, Jeremy Paxton, because he was worried that the house that was being built for his family wouldn't have a chimney large enough to accommodate Santa Claus.  Paxton, owner of Lower Mill Estate, assigned his architect, Andy Ramus, to the case...and the design was adjusted to enlarge the chimney.  When it was ready, the company even had Father Christmas test it while Leo watched.  The little boy was thrilled when Santa went straight down the chimney without getting stuck.

Special Tree:  Cities around the world might like to try what the people in Pueblo, Mexico did to save power when lighting their community Christmas tree.  The tree was part of a Sustainable Christmas event and was decked out with 8,000 lights that could only be powered from the kinetic energy of 15 bicycles.  The bicycles had to be peddaled for about eight hours to charge batteries that would keep the lights on overnight, according to spokesperson Rudy Laddaga.  The intent was to show people, that by working together, they can generate energy savings and benefit the environment.

Traditional Music:  Christmas and music have always been intertwined...whether it's Handel, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby or even, thanks to the group's new album Blue Rodeo. As we approach Malls and other shopping centres, we often hear ~ O Come All Ye Faithful, Joy to the World, Little Drummer Boy, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, et cetera.  Gordon Lightfoot has a classic..Song for a Winter Night and Joni Mitchell presents River. Carol Fests are featured by several church choirs.

Popular Canadian opera singer, Measha Brueggergosman treads a more tradition-path with her CD including It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Do You Hear What I Hear and Sleigh Ride. Traditionalists may prefer Holiday Wishes, a new album by Broadway singer Idina Menzel.

Movies:  The past two Decembers, I watched the television presentation...Horses of McBride.  It  has  become for me a 'tradition' since twice I've watched this true story unfold in our Canadian Rocky Mountains of  British Columbia.  Check the TV'll be teary-eyed with stirred emotions. A “Must See!”;   or try to locate a video of it.

Wednesday, this week, I viewed on Showcase an excellent movie...Guess Who's Coming to Christmas.  In December, a few days ago, Christmas Shepherd…both these I highly recommend. For music lovers,  view Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir…a superb epic television performance!

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled November 28, 2014
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Day Smiles

Roy Bean says,
“And finally, Winter with its bitin’ whinin’ wind
and all the land will be mantled with snow.”

Stormy Weather
(courtesy of Dilu)

John decided to go skiing with his buddy, Keith.  After driving a few hours, they got caught in a terrible  blizzard. So they  pulled into a nearby farm and asked the attractive lady who answered the door if they could spend the night.

“I realize it's terrible weather out there and I have this huge house all to myself, but I'm recently widowed,” she explained.  “I'm afraid the neighbours will talk if I let you stay in my house.”

“Don't worry,” John said.  “We'll be happy to sleep in the barn.  And if the weather breaks, we'll be gone at first light.”  The lady agreed...and the two men found their way to the barn and settled in for the night.  Come morning, the weather had cleared, and they got on their way.  They enjoyed a great weekend of skiing at Blue Mountain.

But about nine months later, John got an unexpected letter from an attorney.  It took him a few minutes to figure out, but he finally determined that it was from the attorney of that attractive widow he had met on the ski weekend.

He dropped in on his friend, Keith and asked, “Keith, do you remember that good-looking  widow from the farm we stayed at on our ski holiday up north about 9 months ago?”

“Yes, I do,” said Keith.
“Did  you, er, happen to get up in the middle of the night...go up to the house and pay her a visit?”
“Well, um, yes!” Keith said, a little embarrassed about being found out, “I have to admit that I did.”
“And did  you happen to give her my name instead of telling her your name?”

Keith's face turned beet red and he said,
“Yeah, look, I'm sorry, buddy.  I'm afraid I did.
Why do you ask?”

“She just died and left me everything.”

(And you thought the ending would be different, didn't you?
You know you keep that smile for the rest of the day!)

“The problem with winter sports is that (follow me closely here)
they  generally take place in winter.”
(David Berry)

Canadian Blonde Joke
(courtesy of Tom)
Finally, a blonde joke with some Canadian content:

As a North Bay trucker stops for a red light on Hwy. 11, a blonde catches up. She jumps our of her car, runs up to his truck...and knocks on the door.  The trucker lowers the window and she says, “Hi, my name is Heather...and you are losing some of  your load!”

The trucker ignores her and proceeds down the street, when the truck stops for another red light. She jumps out of her car, runs up and knocks on the door again.  “Hi, my name is Heather and you are losing some of  your load!”

Shaking his head, the trucker ignores her again and continues down the street.  At the third red light, the same thing happens again.  When the light turns green, the trucker revs up and races to the next light.  When he stops this time, he hurriedly gets out of the truck...and runs back to the blonde.  He knocks on her window, and as she lowers it, he says...............
“Hi, my name is Kevin; it's winter in CANADA,
and I'm driving the SALT TRUCK.....!

Remember This at Christmas Time
(Thank you, Meg)

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while each year both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter...usually late November to mid-December.  Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudoph to Blitzen, had to be a girl!

We should’ve known…ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man
in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost!

* * * * * * *

We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming;
We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are.
They are gifts from the Universe that we cannot refuse.
But, we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.
(Gary Zukav)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...December 1, 2014
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Rural Ontario

Composed for “Christmas Charisma” Luncheon
at RBG's Garden Cafe ~ December 15, 2014

Based in New York City, Nathan Courier and James Ives produced prints from paintings by fine artists ~ these black and white lithographs were then hand painted for production.  This fact surprised me!
My “Christmas Memory” could be of focal interest to Courier and Ives.  Envision my described scenes on their Christmas cards.

Born on a farm in Vanessa, Ontario,
winter arrived November...never left until March!
Father's Christmas gift to Mom was a big surprise.
She'd not been home since her family's big summer picnic ~
nor had her parents seen We Young Grand Daughters.

Country roads...then...saw no snowplows.
Snow drifts piled high beside fences and roads.
From the shed, my Dad pulled out the red sleigh
in preparation for the approximate-10-mile trip.
Gifts for her homestead family near the village of Norwich
were preserves of jams, fruit and pickles plus home-baked cookies.
My Dad provided a couple useful tools
he'd carved from the trunk of a tall fallen maple.
My sister and I had colourful nosegays ~
dried flowers arranged from Mom's summer garden.

Dad led out “Whistler” from the stabled barn...
a big black Percheron with white socks and a forehead star.
Leather straps of brass sleigh bells were attached to his harness.
Then he was hitched to the sleigh, on this frosty morn.

Dressed in clothing layers...knit scarves, hats and mittens...
our laps well covered with hand-crafted “crazy quilts”.
With a flip of the rein on the horse's rump
and Dad's “cluck-cluck” message to Whistler
who happily snorted, pulling the sleigh
as it crunched through the snow in the frosty chill air.

He quick-trotted at a pace past snow-laden pines...
and red brick farm homes, swirling smoke from their chimneys.
The sleigh bells rang merrily as we sang Christmas carols.
YEP! There's the blue-water-pond near the snowy wood thicket ~
it's now frozen solid with shovelled snow at its rim.
Parents and children happily glided on their old tube skates ~
enjoying Christmas a family should.

Whistler delivered us to the yellow brick home.
A decorated snowy-branched evergreen spruce, welcomed us;
Nero, the family dog, as he ran toward us, excitedly barked
and Grandma rang the “tower bell” to announce our arrival.
We were chilled, yet joyous to sit by the fire...
while Whistler shed his harness, drank from the water pail
and munched on his oats.

Explain:  horse's stockings...Whistler...tower bell

This truly is a Jingle Bell story ~
in a One-Horse Open Sleigh!
(when I was 3 or 4, and my sister a year older)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 28,  2014

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Unique 2014 Christmas Card

A few days ago, Tom send me this American version...which I send to you:


'Twas two months before Christmas
When all through the land,

Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas ~ no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might  hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cheques, cash and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CD's from Madonna, an X-BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd.

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas ~ was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart, Staples and Lowes, at Penny's and Sears,
You won't hear the word Christmas ~ it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen...
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded ~
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks (or Timmy’s) listen to me...

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet, greet

Christ is The Reason for the CHRIST-mas Season!

Remember, that we Christians are to represent what Peace looks like!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written November 23,2014
To to:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Shopping

(the following from Carolyn, my BBO Friend in Louisiana)

This reminder, I needed, since SEARS isn't always my first choice. It's amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted...and Sears hasn't withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year?  What commitment, you ask?  How does Sears treat its employees who are serving in our military?
By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more.
Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being on active duty.
Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining medical
insurance and bonus programs...for all employees who are 'serving'.

I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution.  So,  I suggest we all shop at Sears at least once this year.  Be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there, so the company gets the positive reinforcement & feedback it well deserves.  I decided to check this before I sent it forward.  I sent the following e-mail to Sears Customer Service Department:

“I received this e-mail and would like to know if it is true.  If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your company.  I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a similar item...even if it's cheaper at that store.”

This was their reply!  “Dear Customer:  Thank you for contacting Sears.  The information is factual.  We appreciate your positive feedback.  Sears regards service to our country as one of the greatest sacrifices our men and women can make.  This is the 'least' we can do for them.  We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.”  Bill Thorn ~ Sears Customer Care.

Please pass this on ~ Sears needs to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them as Americans and Canadians, we do appreciate what they are doing for our Military!!!

How to Select a Christmas Tree
(Article courtesy of

A few simple procedures can make the selection of a fresh, real Christmas tree easier:

Determine, where in your home, you will display your tree.  With this in mind, you will be able to tell how tall a tree you will need and whether all four sides must be suitable for display.

Freshness is an important key when selecting your tree. The needles should be resilient.  Take hold of a branch about 6 inches from the tip, between thumb and forefinger.  Pull your hand towards you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers.  Needles should adhere to the branch and not fall off in your hand.

Bend a needle between your forefinger and thumb.  The needle should form a 'U' without breaking unless the tree is frozen.

Lift the tree a couple inches off the ground, then bring it down abruptly on the stump end.  Older outside needles should not fall in substantial numbers. (Inside needles shed naturally every year.)

The tree should have a fragrance and a good green colour.

A fresh tree will retain its moisture content and thereby keep its fragrance and needles if kept in a stand that has good water-holding capacity.

Note:  Some people keep the memory of their Christmas alive by buying trees that come with their roots wrapped in a ball of soil and burlap.  After the festive season is over, live trees can be planted outside...where they will remain beautiful for years to come.  They cost much more and are difficult to handle because the ball of soil is very heavy...weighing as much as 68 kilograms.

Most Christmas trees must receive special care
over the holiday season, or they will die.

How to Care for Your Christmas Tree

Remember, a Christmas tree is a living thing;
look after it as carefully as you would a cut flower.

If you buy your tree several days before you plan to set it up, store the tree outdoors or on a cool porch or patio until you are ready to decorate. An area that protects it from the wind and sun will help to retain its moisture.

If storing for several days, make a straight cut across the butt end of the tree about one inch from the end.  This opens the tree stem so it can take up water.  Store the tree upright and place the butt end in a container of water.

When you bring the tree into the house for decorating, make another fresh cut across the trunk about an inch from the original cut. Use a tree stand that holds plenty of water.

Trees are thirsty.  They may drink up to 4 litres of water per day, so be sure to check daily and supply fresh water as needed.  A stand that holds at least 4 litres is recommended. If you allow the water level to drop below the bottom of the tree, a seal will form just as it does on a cut flower...and new cut will be necessary for it to 'quench its thirst'.

Place your tree away from the fireplace, radiators, television sets and other sources of heat.  Turn off the tree lights when you leave and before you retire at night.

Avoid the use of combustible decorations.  Check all electric lights and connections.  Do not use lights with worn or frayed cords and N-E-V-E-R use lighted candles on a Christmas tree!
Follow the above care and precautionary  measures
to ensure an attractive tree that stays fresh indoors for 2 to 3 weeks.

Christmas Riddle (an oldie!)
What does a cat walking through sand remind you of?
“Sandy Claws!”

Merle Baird-Kerr...scripted November 20, 2014
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Shop "Canadian"

Kellogg's Moves Ontario Plants to China
(courtesy of Tom…thank you)

This has been on our agenda since hearing of the closing of the Kellogg's breakfast cereal plant in London, Ontario and moving it to China.  Some of us have decided we do not want to consume any food products made in China...or for that matter, any food products made outside of Canada or the United States.  There are some exceptions:  cheese from England and Europe, olives from Italy, etc.

We have also expanded this to any products we can avoid NOT made in North America.  This is hard to do, especially in electronics.  This is something we should have paid attention to 30 years or more ago, but it is now, never too late, one person, one step at a time.

Please read the article below.  I believe “Shop Canadian” should be priority one and “Shop North American” priority two.  (No offense to our friends in other countries, but you should also shop your own country's products.)

A Physics teacher in High School once told his students, “While one grasshopper on the railroad tracks wouldn't slow a train very much, a billion of them would!”

With that thought in mind, read the following...
obviously written by a patriotic Canadian.
“Shopping in Lowes Hardware the other day and for some reason or just for the fun of it, I was looking at the garden hose attachments.  They were all made in China.  The next day I was in Home Hardware and just for the fun of it, I checked the hose attachments there.  They were made in Canada!  Start looking!  In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do, affects someone else ~ even their job.”
A quote from a consumer...
“My grandson likes Hershey's chocolate.
I noticed though, that it is marked ~ Made in Mexico, now
instead of Smith Falls, Ontario.”

“I do not buy it any more.  My favourite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico now.  I have switched to Crest.  You have to read the labels on everything!  This past weekend I was at Wal-Mart.  I needed 60W bulbs.  I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off-brand labelled...Everyday Value.  I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats ~ they were the same except for the price.  The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand, but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that the GE brand was made in MEXICO...and the Everyday Value brand was made in (get ready for this) ~ Canada ~ at a company in Ontario.  Their Equate Products are also made in Canada...and are very good and comparable.

“Just to add to my own experience on buying Made in Canada, I was looking for canned mushrooms that were made in Canada and could never find any, so I would buy fresh.  But recently I found 'Ravine Mushrooms' made in Canada with a little red maple leaf on the can.  A little  more money, but when I opened the can, I looked at the mushrooms that look like real mushrooms, not a mushroom that looks like it was cleaned in bleach.

“Another product I no longer buy is Del Monte or Dole canned fruit.  Del Monte is packed in Taiwan and Dole is now a product of China.  Why should we pay for their fruit when our growers are left with fruit rotting on the trees?  E.D. Smith is still made in least you will know what is in it and have some 'quality control'.  By the way, all pickles with the Presidents Choice label and the No Name yellow label...are made in India. Think about it...water from the Ganges River is used...yes, THAT Ganges, the one into which raw sewage is dumped and that the people use as a toilet!”

So throw out the myth
that you cannot find products you use every day
that are made right here in Canada!
My challenge to you is to...Start Reading the Labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is Made in Canada.  The job you save may be your own or your neighbour's!  (Your children and Grandchildren, also).  If you accept this challenge, pass it on to others in your address book so we can all start buying light bulb at a time!
Stop Buying from Overseas Companies!
(We should have awakened two decades ago.)

Let's get with the program.  Help our fellow Canadians keep their jobs and create more jobs here in Canada.  If President Obama insists on a “Made in America Policy” (which is commendable of him), to support American workers, we should do likewise.  BUY CANADIAN!  Read the Labels!
Of Personal Interest:  The pharmacy in Wal-Mart is excellent. My medication prescriptions are on file with them.  Vitamins and other 'off the counter' items under the Equate label, the pharmacists always recommend to me...same quality, same goodness and lesser cost than 'big company names'.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written October 27, 2014
To to:

Advice from Paul Berton (Editor of the Hamilton Spectator) November 25, 2014.
So frenzied has the hype become around so-called Black Friday in the United States, it long ago spilled across the border, for better or worse.  Canadian retailers are fighting back, as well they should.  To keep local shoppers from straying too far, they are advertising their own Black Friday bargains.  All that is required now is for Canadian consumers to take up the cause. Ask yourself a simple question:  Is it really worth the trouble to drive more an hourthen wait at the bordergo through immigrationand customs…and face whatever other obstacles await…just to acquire an apparent bargain at a foreign retailer? 

Wouldn’t that time, energy and good will be better spent in your own hometown:
 Hamilton, Burlington, Grimsby, Caledonia…???

Wouldn’t shopping local be more, well, 'Christmasy'?

                     Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend your money on your neighbours?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Collage...for December 2014

 I trust all readers have appreciated  the info on this past year's monthly 'Collage'.
Beginning in January 2015, I'll present a new format of interest.
(I'd also welcome suggestions from you ~  my reader audience.)

From Planet Earth Calender
Nature's Light Show:  The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is a spectacular display of moving lights in the sky.  Visible in the northern sky, it most often occurs from September to October and from March to April.  The phenomenon is so striking and so unusual, that even learned folk through the ages have been at a loss to explain the cause. While the effect is dramatic, the cause is simple:

The sun gives off charged particles called 'ions' that trail into space at speeds up to 750 miles (1200 km) per second. Forming a solar wind, the 'ions' interact with the edge of Earth's magnetic field. When the particles  collide with the gases in the atmosphere, they start to slow...producing the  spectacle that we can see with our own eyes.  The dancing array of colours consists, green, blue and violet.

Did You Know?
(from the Canadian Wildlife Federation 2014 calendar)
The Black-Capped Chickedee is a small songbird found throughout Canada.  It is the Provincial Bird of New Brunswick...and is well adapted to Canada's cold winters.

Message from the Canadian Red Cross
Its December calendar depicts a dramatic Northern Lights scene
in shades of swirling greens and smoke gray fields...
photographed in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba.

Imagine if a 'natural disaster' separated you from your family. What if armed conflict tore your community apart...and you did not know if your loved ones were safe???  The Red Cross Restoring Family Links Program plays a vital role in reducing the anguish of nearly one million families separated by war and crisis every year!

Niagara Falls and Great Gorge
(from Niagara Falls Canada Calendar 2014)
Night photo of Falls in Winter Colour Splendour!
Niagara Parks ~  an agency of the Government of Canada since 1885...helps preserve the nature and the heritage of the Falls and the Niagara River corridor.  Of  Interest:  A spectacular New Year's Eve party is annually held in this “Honeymoon Capital of the World”!  You may wish to attend.

Special Event Days
December 5 (Friday) ~ International Volunteer Day
December 10 (Wednesday) ~ Human Rights Day
December 13 (Saturday) ~  All Santa Claus Race *
December 17 (Wednesday) ~ Hanukkah begins
December 21 (Sunday) ~ Winter Solstice
December 24 (Wednesday) ~ Christmas Eve
December 25 (Thursday ~ Christmas Day
December 26 (Friday) ~ Boxing Day
December 31 (Thursday) ~ New Year's Eve
                          * Canada’s First and Largest ‘Santa Race’ 9 a.m. Burlington City Hall.

 May no gift be too small to give, nor too simple to receive
which is wrapped in thoughtfulness and tied with love.
(Lao Baird)

And for New Year's Eve, I send this Chinese Proverb:
“Every Journey begins with One Step.”

December Musings

Happy, Happy Christmas...that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days...recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth...and transport the traveller back to his own fireplace and quiet home.
(Charles Dickens)

At Christmas, I no more desire a rose,
than wish a snow in May's new-fangled mirth;
But, like of each thing…that in season, brings.
(William Shakespeare)

May you have the Gladness of Christmas which is Hope;
the Spirit of Christmas which is Peace;
the Heart of Christmas which is Love.
(Ada V. Hendricks)

John Burroughs comments about winter:
It is the life in the crystal...the architect in the flake;
the fire in the frost...the soul in the sunbeam.
The crisp winter air is full of it.

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer
will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.
The stars seem to have re-kindled their fires...
the moon achieves a fuller triumph!

Katharine S. White states,  “There are for us 3 gardens:
the garden outdoors...the garden of pots and bowls in the house
...and the garden of the mind's eye.

The holly and the ivy...when they are both full grown:
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Oh, the rising of the sun...and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing of the choir.
(Christmas Carol)

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled November 22, 2014
Wishing all a Healthy and Happy Season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Leadership Skills

“You can lead a horse to water...but you can't make him drink.”

“When something unfortunate happens, you have three choices:
You can let it define you.
You can let it destroy you.
You can let it strengthen you!”

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

For the past few years, the Hamilton Tiger Cats has been in a ‘rebuilding mode’ to prepare the team to become a competitor for the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup.  Last year they eked through to compete, losing to the western competitor.

In the Words of Tiger-Cats Head Coach, Kent Austin:

Leadership is something you can learn.  Some people are more natural at it, but everyone can lead. Doesn't have anything to do with your title, rank, hierarchy.  It's a condition of your heart, a product of what you are, rather than where you are. You have to renew the way that you think, to value something at a deep level.  You are not transformed by your heart're transformed by the way you think!

I didn't really learn any of these things I believe in terms of leadership until later in my playing career as a pro.  Early on, I was too self-absorbed.  Should have had better balance between my individual goals and the  team goals.  When you strip it all away, Leadership is nothing more than the ability to influence.  You can be confident, but if you are incompetent, it doesn't matter. If you lack the ability to articulate that competence in a way that influences those around you, you won't be successful either.

What players want to know is:
Can you help them to become the best player possible
in a way that they know that's it's about them...and not about you as a coach?

I believe in the servant leadership model.  I believe you demonstrate leadership by first serving and modelling what it is you are asking someone else to do.  If you are not willing to do that, then you cannot earn their trust. As a player, I was always a perfectionist...and that's not always good. It has to be tempered properly with an understanding of both your strengths and weaknesses. The players around you need to have a general sense that you're going to get it done...that you're going to do what it takes so that everyone can be successful.

The most important thing is the philosophical viewpoint that we believe in (not just talk about)  that has to be 100 % authentic;  it has to be demonstrated on a consistent word and our coaches every day. Be reasonable about expectations from other people.

Colin Powell stated:
Leadership is solving problems. 
The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems,
is the day you have stopped leading them.
They have either lost confidence that you can help...
or concluded you do not care.
Either case, is a failed leadership.

Learn to Lead by Example
written by Derek Doyle to the Hamilton Spectator

Be a Good Communicator, a Good Listener...and Others will Follow!

Leadership often appears to embrace contradictory perceptions.  Is the leader a boss or a servant?  Effective leadership can mean ruling the world...or perhaps destroying it.  How can a leader be a visionary and direct change while being responsive at the same time?  How does a leader find the proper balance between being a good communicator and a good listener? 

As a realtor, my responsibility is to lead my clients to success. If I could pick one key principle I have found to be effective, it would be that a leader must be and  must do what they want to see in their team/organization, etc.  Therefore,  one must lead by example.  Only then, will you influence others to follow. Being surrounded by leaders and  learning from their experiences, disappointments, failures and successes has been an eduction is itself. Through these discussions, I have learned that maturing as a leader has no final destination.  That's what keeps it so challenging, rewarding and fresh.

Words of Wisdom

All men who have achieved great things have been great dreamers.
(Orison Swett Marden)

If your actions inspire others to...dream more...learn more
and become more...You are a Leader.
(John Quincy Adams)

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame...
and a little less than his share of the credit.
(Arnold H. Glascow)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 15, 2014
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Post Note:  On Sunday, November 23, in their own Tim Hortons Field, our team defeated the Montreal Alouettes  in a decisive 40-24 win, claiming the Eastern Division title…competing for the Grey Cup next Sunday in Vancouver’s B.C Place against the Calgary Stampeders (Western Division winner).  Of the capacity sell-out crowd, Kent Austin stated, “It. Was. Awesome!  We knew it would be…we knew the fans would show up…that they’d be loud and proud…and they did!”