Sunday, April 27, 2014

Education of Patrick Deane

Leaders aren’t born! They are made by hard effort which is the price
 all of us must pay to achieve any worthwhile goal. (Vince Lombardi: 1913-1970)

Who would believe that a young boy growing up as a child
of white privilege in apartheid-dominated South Africa
would become the President of of our prestigious McMaster University?

March 1st edition of the Hamilton Spectator featured an article about him by journalist, Jon Wells, who wrote about the experience that shaped how he became ~ a true believer in the university as a place for teaching 'humane wisdom'...where ideas are challenged...difficult questions asked...and where students graduate with something deeper than job qualification. I take the privilege of excerpting information from this article which significantly led to his position today.

It was warm outside and perfectly cool in the auditorium.  Fresh-faced McMaster students in their graduation robes  gathered on the cusp of summer ~ the future at their feet.  On stage in this  symbolic  'dawn of the possible' stood an erudite man with a greying beard, speaking of the limitations of optimism.  “Optimism is a partial truth,” he said from the podium, “and a sentimental one at that. As you celebrate what you know, and what you can do, it is important to have the discipline of acknowledging...what you don't know and what you may not be able to do.”

Patrick Deane, the president of McMaster University, administers a business that has 6,400 staff, an $878-million budget and educates 30,000 students. He does not speak like an administrator whose sole mission is to turn out students with practical job-ready skills;  Deane is cut from a different cloth.

“BEWARE FALSE CERTAINTIES,” he told the graduates.  “Carry with you skepticism and doubt.”  Invisible to the students, he did not talk about his birthplace nor the story of how, as a young man, he had what he later thought of as a 'Matrix moment'...that revealed to him his powerlessness and even his complicity in the system.  “The essence of all human activity, is that it stands on the edge of error.  To progress in any way, we must acknowledge that we, too, stand always in an intimate relation to self-delusion and ignorance.”

A boyhood friend in Johannesburg, Robin Carr stated that even as a young boy, Patrick had the quality of being interested in other people.  Brian, another friend stated that they lived in a sheltered environment, tending to take the Mandela fiasco for granted.  Teachers kept quiet and parents didn't broach it much, if at all during that stage of their lives. Further, South Africans were not permitted to know about Nelson Mandela. 

Patrick's older brother died of testicular cancer at the end of  fulfilling his compulsory military service across the border in Namibia.  Patrick, who was 15, determined to avoid military service, decided that a career in law was his calling, the better to seek justice for his brother and others like him. He attended Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg which had a reputation for campus anti-apartheid activism.  It was a curious thing, he came to realize, that the apartheid-government, as oppressive as it was, permitted elements of free expression on campuses and in the press and judicial systems. Apartheid, and the broader white society's acceptance of it, was strengthened through insidious laws that controlled where blacks could live, separating them physically and socially.

But, as a young man, the system did not truly hit home with him until one day, when he was working a summer job after his first year of university.  His manager asked him to accompany a store employee, who was black, to a governmental office to have his passbook stamped.  This was a document all blacks had to carry, indicating where they were entitled to live and work. Patrick, at first resisted ~ it struck him as absurd, a student shepherding a middle-aged man.  At the chaotic government's office, they were directed to a room where a bureaucrat reflexively stamped the passbook.  Examining the book outside, Patrick noticed that...rather than renew the man's passbook to continue living  and working in Johannesburg (as he had for many years), the stamp expelled him from his city forever.  Returning to the office, he was told the stamp was...irreversible!  The guy's life had been ruined...just like that and no one cared!  That was Patrick's Matrix moment...the code revealing... cold injustice!

Nearly 40 years later, Patrick Deane asks the question, “So is that the big narrative denouement, where the scales fall from your eyes?” sitting in the president's office at McMaster University as he reflects on that day.  “Not really...the guy who suffered, whose life was changed by that mistake, disappears from that narrative entirely.  That story has always haunted me, my own culpability in it.”

Deane did not mount barricades and demand revolution.  But he yearned to leave the country.  If he didn't get out then, he would, like many of his friends, be forced to do his military service for a regime none of them could stomach.  Unlike his closest friends, he had a way out...his bloodline!  His mother, Elvira, was Canadian...whom his father had met while on a trip for his steel company to Welland, Ontario. Holding his newly acquired Canadian passport, Patrick Deane, at 22, boarded a plane out of Johannesburg and across the Atlantic. 

He attended Western University in London, Ontario, earning  his Master's and PhD in English.  That's where he met Sheila, also an English major, a Virginia Woolf  scholar who would go on to earn her PhD and be an educator in women's studies.  They married and had a daughter, Petra, and son, Colin.  Sheila lobbied that their family should live on a farm...raise animals...go organic..and live feeling the rhythms of the earth.

Deane reflected that it had been tough on his parents to lose their remaining son when he left ~ but he had not recognized that back then.  “You think back about how you treated  your parents and think, 'you insensitive boor' ! Now as a father, I understand better.”

Patrick and Sheila bought a farm, first during their time in Winnipeg and then in Kingston and now near Sheffield (a 35 minute drive to McMaster).  They have several horses they have moved from place to place, plus chickens and sheep.  She does most of the work  on their nine-hectare hobby farm.  He does his part primarily on weekends.

He turned 57 last December and has been living in Canada 34 years.  It has taken nearly that long for him to come to terms with his roots.  Patrick relates,“I  did not speak of myself as a South African for a long time.  I did not associate with South Africans on the faculty at Queen's and I refused to attend Witwatersrand University reunions held in Toronto.   I did not want to be among those who pined for the old country or styled themselves as having taken a heroic stand against apartheid.”

Deane further said that he was a kid born of privilege who derived benefits from a country's racist system.  And then, like others his age who shared his background, he woke up to what it was all about.  “There was nothing heroic abut it.”

When Deane had his fresh start at McMaster, he finally began to speak of the road travelled.  At the formal ceremony installing him as president, he spoke of his university days, of protest and the courage of his teachers.  “The role of the university,” he told the audience, “is not to serve the law, but to serve society.” As president, Deane must handle..budgets, employee unions, student controversies and lobbying politicians for research funding.  (McMaster is one of Canada's top three research intensive universities.)  But Deane can only see his job and the role of the university through his distinct intellectual prism.  He believes the university's mission is to cultivate in all students, regardless of study area, a 'humane wisdom' toward making their community and world...a better place!

Each fall, Patrick Deane greets first-year students, as they pass through a symbolic stone arch, with a handshake.  To teenagers, just out of high school, this rite might seem old-fashioned.  Perhaps, over time it will have more meaning ~ the bearded wise man with the accent  welcoming them into something profound...even earth-changing...if they are able to see it.

Words of Wisdom

“Every moment, your life should be measured
by just how far it takes you from the ordinary.”

Everyone who is successful, must have dreamed up something.
(Maricopa ~ Native American Indian)

The journey to go further...never ends!
(Ancient proverb)

Merle Baird-Kerr...March 2, 2014
Comments welcome...e-mail to:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Environmental Protection

“Earth Day' is an annual event celebrated on April 22
on which events are held world wide to demonstrate support
for this all-important issue.

Facts About Earth Day

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970.

On Earth Day, 2009, Disney released a documentary film called EARTH that followed the migration of four animal families.

On the very first Earth Day, with 20,000,000 people gathered in the streets of America to protest the American Revolution, an environmental moment was born as a result!

Every year on April 22, men, women and children collect garbage...plant trees...clean up coral movies...sign petitions...and plan for a better future for our planet, Earth.

Some schools and communities celebrate Earth Day for a whole week to expand the time frame that people focus on the Earth and how they can preserve it.

On Earth Day, 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel.

In Panama, 100 endangered species of orchids were planted and maintained to prevent their extinction in honour of Earth Day.

Water...a Life Program Fact

There is a whole lot of water on Earth, but not all of it can be used by humans.  98 per cent of the water is in the oceans which means it is salt water.  The rest of the water on Earth (2%) is fresh water, but most of that  (1.6%) is locked up in polar caps and glaciers!  Although that still leaves plenty of water for humans, it is a very small amount compared to all the water available.  In fact, if all the Earth's water were stored in a 5-litre container, the available fresh water would not quite fill a teaspoon.

Earth has the same amount of water today as it did when the dinosaurs roamed our planet.  The water keeps going around and around and around in what we call the “Water Cycle” .  With heat and wind, water evaporates from lakes, rivers and oceans...condense in the air...and falls again as rain or snow.  The water on Earth is constantly being recycled or renewed.  The four countries with the greatest amount of renewable freshwater resources are:  Brazil (8,233 cubic kilometers)...Russia (4,498 cu km)...Canada (3,300 cu km)...United States (2,838 cu km).

Water that humans can use is found rivers and in freshwater lakes.  Canada's Great Lakes alone contain 25%of the world's freshwater!

Putting Down Roots for Earth Day

Molly Hayes, a journalist with the Hamilton Spectator
wrote the following, published on April 22, 2013.
Her writing  Volunteers plant 400 Saplings for the Occasion...demonstrated “Community Spirit” .

Hundreds of saplings were planted on the weekend in usual Earth Day fashion ~ but Hamiltonians also got a chance to know more about the full-grown trees that have shaded our city for decades.

Tom Nagy, tree enthusiast stated that the Royal Botanical Gardens  trails and arboretum are like home.
“I know these trails better than myself,” he told families taking them around the arboretum and surrounding woods, pointing out the species and ages of trees lining the paths.  Hamiltonians, by the dozens braved the cold that afternoon, to plant trees behind the arboretum as part of the Earth Day festivities. “You can live comfortably in a city and never really experience nature,” Nagy said. “Having an understanding of the individual trees and their history 'really puts you in their place,'”

More than 400 trees were planted in the marsh land off Old Guelph Road on Saturday, where native plants had been threatened by invasive weed species.  Organizer of the event related that everyone from small children, students and retirees came out to do their part. Volunteer, Adam, 7 years of age,  said he came out because his Mom told him to, but also because trees 'help us to breathe.'

Saturday included a clean-up walk that led a group of volunteers along Cootes Drive...collecting bags and bags of garbage from Olympic Park in Dundas, before warming up at the RBG  centre  for green presentations and entertainment.
(The foregoing are excerpts from Molly Hayes’ writing)

“Planet Earth is the only Home we have
and we would be wise to take good care of it”
(Bill Sherk ~ retired High School Teacher & Author)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 7, 2014
To comment...e-mail to:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter

Weekend  Church ads read:
Easter should satisfy your soul  ~ not just your sweet tooth.
The true meaning of Easter doesn’t need to be sugar-coated.

“Easter spells out beauty ~ the rare beauty of new life.”
(S D Gordon)

“Twas Easter Sunday ~ the full blossomed trees
filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.”
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Usually, Easter held annually is the first Sunday after the full moon...either on or after March 21 up to and including April 25.  For many, Easter is a religious time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible. Akin to Christmas, it has a secondary celebration...that of the Easter Bunny.

Good idea ~ finding Easter eggs on Easter Sunday.
Bad idea ~ finding Easter eggs at Thanksgiving!

Gratitude, I send to Tom for the following story about:

The Easter Bunny

A man is driving along a highway and sees a rabbit jump out across the middle of the road.  He swerves to avoid hitting it, but unfortunately the rabbit jumps right in front of the car.  The driver, a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulls over and gets out to see what has become of the rabbit.  Much to his dismay, the rabbit is the Easter Bunny...and he is DEAD!  The driver feels awful...and begins to cry.

A beautiful blonde woman, driving down the highway, sees a man crying on the side of the road and pulls over. She steps out of the car and asks the man, “What's wrong?”  He explains, “I feel terrible. I accidentally hit the Easter Bunny with my car...and KILLED HIM.”  the blonde says, “Don't worry.”

She runs to her car and pulls out a spray can.  She walks over to the limp, dead Easter Bunny...bends down and sprays the contents onto him.  The Easter Bunny jumps up...waves its paw at the two of them and hops off down the road.  Ten feet away, he stops...turns around and waves...again he hops off down the road another ten feet...turns and waves...hops another ten feet...turns and waves...and repeats this again and again and again and again...until he hops out of sight.

The man is astonished.  He runs over to the woman and demands, “WHAT is in that can?  WHAT did you spray on the Easter Bunny?”  The woman turns the can around so that the man can read the label.  It says...(Are you ready for this? You know you're going to be sorry!)  Here it is:

“Hair Spray!  Restores Life to Dead Hair
and Adds Permanent Wave!”

Happy Easter!!!

You'll wake upon Easter morning and you'll know that he was there ~
when you find those choc'late bunnies that he's hiding ev'rywhere.”
(Gene Audry)

How does the Easter Bunny keep his fur clean?  He uses a hare brush.
Did you hear about the two bald-headed rabbits expecting a little hare on Easter weekend?
Why does the Easter Bunny have a shiny nose?  Because the powder puff is on the other end.

“When the Easter Bunny met the Rabbit of his dreams,
they lived hoppily ever after.”

Happy Easter...
some Bunny loves you!
(Unknown author)

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr...April 15, 2014
Comments always welcome...send to:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


 Re Income Tax Returns

In early February, Sydney sent me a photo of a senior gentleman
who has received back his Income Tax Return for 2011. 
 Government-that-be’s were questioning how many dependents he claimed.

Under “List all dependents” he had replied: 2 million native Indians...1 million crackheads...7.3 million unemployed people ...100,000 people in prisons...half of Haiti...105 persons in the Federal Senate... 308 Members of Parliament. Sitting in a quandary at his desk, he says, “Evidently, this was not an acceptable answer. I KEEP ASKING MYSELF, WHO THE HELL DID I MISS?”

Today, Tom has forwarded another couple's experience.
         Danny and Gladys are flying to Australia for a two-week vacation
         to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Suddenly, over the public address system,
         the Captain announces:
         Ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news;
         our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency
         landing.  Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be
         able to land on the beach.  However, the odds are that we may never be
         rescued and will live on the island for the rest of our lives.

         Thanks to the skill of  the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the island.

An hour later, Danny turns to his wife, asking, “Gladys, did we pay our Visa and Master Cards yet?” 
“No, sweetheart,” she responds.

Danny, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks, “Gladys, did we pay our American Express card yet?”  to which she replies, “Oh, no!  I forgot to send that cheque too!”

“One last thing, Gladys ~ Did you remember to send the installment cheque for Revenue Canada this month?” he asks.

“Oh, forgive me, Danny,” begged Gladys.  “I didn't sent that one either.”

Danny then grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years.
Gladys pulls away and asks him, “What was that for?”

Danny answers, “We'll be okay ~ Revenue Canada will find us!”

 People of Notoriety Comment About Income Tax

Albert Einstein:  The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax.  This is too difficult for a mathematician ~ it takes a philosopher.

Robert Heinlein:  There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

Will Rogers:  The Income Tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.

Ken Dodd:  I told the Inland Revenue I didn't owe them a penny because I lived near the seaside.

Peg Bracken:  Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?

Bill Vaughan:  The tax collector must love poor people ~ he's creating so many of them.

Vanaje J Cormody:  I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.

Jewish Proverb:  Taxes grow without rain!

This is very interesting…funny with a “hint of truth!”
(Thanks to an ardent reader for the following)

Tax his land; Tax his bed; Tax the table at which he’s fed!

Tax his work; Tax his pay; He works for peanuts…Anyway!

Tax his cow; Tax his goat; Tax his pants; Tax his coat!

Tax his tobacco; Tax his drink; Tax him if he Tries to think!

Tax his car; Tax his gas; Find other ways…To tax his ass!

Tax all he has…Then let him know…That you won’t be done…Till he has no dough!

When he screams and hollers…Then tax him some more…Tax him till…
He’s good and sore!

Then tax his coffin; Tax his grave; Tax the sod in which he’s laid!

When he’s gone…Do not relax;  It’s time to apply…the Inheritance Tax!

And if that’s not enough…Consider these:

Accounts Receivable Tax; Airline Surcharge Tax; Airline Fuel Tax; Airport Maintenance Tax.
Building Permit Tax.
Cigarette Tax; Corporate Income Tax.
Death Tax; Dog Licence Tax; Driving Permit Tax.
Environmental  Tax (Fee); Excise Taxes.
Federal Income Tax; Federal Unemployment (UI); Fishing Licence Tax; Food Licence Tax.
Gasoline Tax (too much per litre); Gross Receipts Tax.
Health Tax; Hunting Licence Tax; Hydro Tax.
Inheritance Tax; Interest Tax.
Liquor Tax; Luxury Taxes.
Marriage Licence  Tax; Medicare Tax; Mortgage Tax.
Personal Income Tax;  Property Tax; Poverty Tax; Prescription Drug Tax; Prov. Income & Sales Tax.
Real Estate Tax; Recreational Vehicle Tax; Retail Sales Tax.
Service Charge Tax; School Tax.
Telephone Fed. and Prov. and Local SurchargeTaxes; Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax.
Vehicle Licence Registration Tax; Vehicle Sales Tax.
Water Tax; Watercraft Registration Tax; Well Permit Tax; Workers’ Compensation Tax.

Think This is Funny?

Not one of these foregoing Taxes existed 60 years ago…
and our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had a large middle class 
and Mom stayed home raising kids!
What in “H…” happened?  Can you spell  POLITICIANS???

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr … April 3, 2013,
To comment…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Leading by Example

In my previous blog...Sparks of Recollections,  I referred to Robbie Croft a Grade Eight student I'd had several years ago. He became a recognized man who “gave back to his community” upon his return to the Hamilton/Burlington areas.  A day or so following his death, Steve Milton of the Spectator  wrote ~

Bob Croft: a Warrior and a Gentleman

Football gives this city its national identity, but the most accurate gauge of Hamilton's sporting pulse is on the hard court.  Championship teams and stars at every available turn ~ amateur, high school, college and university ~ over multiple generations;  bitter sweaty rivalries remembered for decades; rabid pockets of lifelong fans weaned on local legends. 

And there was no more poignant symbol of Hamilton basketball than Bob Croft. He was the first Canadian player to earn a scholarship to a major American basketball college, died Sunday at an unfair age.  Until he entered hospital in November with a broken hip that led to infection complications, Croft was still involved in the game, working on the basketball staff at Redeemer University College after long contributing to the Silver Fox Tournament, helping little ACTM to school championships and working one-on-one with individual coaches.

“He loved giving back to the game,” said Jean Bennie, Croft's wife of 25 years. “It brought him a lot of satisfaction and joy.  I didn't know Bob when he played basketball, but I think you could say that he was a warrior on the court and a gentleman off it.  He had a will to win!  He talked to the boys he coached about that, but he was gentle and kind and considerate off the court.”

The Gentle Giant, they called him.  Six-foot 10 when 'tall' didn't begin to describe that kind of height, with hands soft enough to make free throw after free throw, but to the local basketball community, weathered to enough to fight off bulkier, dirtier players under the hoop, “He could shoot the lights out,” recalls George Gresko, now a Hamilton lawyer but in the mid 1960's a guard with Croft at Hill Park, which had the best team in the city.  “If they played a normal game, Bob dominated...but the other coaches would try to freeze the ball.  Sometimes, they would try to beat the heck out of him under the basket.”  In Croft's last high school year, Hill Park won the provincial title. 

Bob was the absolutely consummate sportsman 
who respected decorum and the rules.
(The foregoing are excerpts from the complete article)

Ways to Give Back...

“Success just isn't a's a Responsibility.
Businesses can make a difference by giving back”
 (Eric Ripert, Celebrity Chef)

Donate what  you can't use.
Teach an organization to maintain its own website or handle its book-keeping.
Fund-raise as a team ~ the more specific the cause, the more likely, people are to participate.
Participate in a fund-raising may gain a long-time customer.
Create a win-win partnership with specific products or services.
Use your platform as a business leader to draw attention to a cause.

Good Reasons to Give Back

You don't have to be rich to make a difference.
Whether you donate money or time,
giving back is beneficial ~ and not just for the recipients.
(Warren Buffet)

The Around the Bay Road Race...Sunday, March 30, 2014

Begun in 1894, and the oldest organized road race in North America, this was the 120th continual-running 30 kilometre road race. Proceeds support St. Joseph's Healthcare. Over 12,000 runners participated in this event yesterday.

Drew Edwards of the Hamilton Spectator interviewed 5 runners prior to the race...asking them, “Why are you running Around the Bay?”  Boyd Dunleavey, age 39, stated, “To Say Thanks.”

In 2011, Boyd was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and was given a 10% of survival.  On Sunday, he'll run 30 kilometres.  The 39-year-old London resident is returning to Hamilton to participate in the Around the Bay race as his way of saying 'Thank You' to the legions of people who have helped him through his remarkable three-year-recovery.  It includes his family...the Canadian Cancer Society volunteers who drove him back and forth to London to the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton for treatment...and the doctors and health-care professionals who cared for him.
“I want to come back and run Around the Bay
because the City of Hamilton helped save my life.
I just wanted to thank the community.”
Then  there's the people at who found him the stem-cell donor in 2012 who saved his life and the donor himself, an American serviceman who was based in Japan at the time.  Also, on his mind, the countless people he met while in treatment...some of whom lost their lives to cancer. “When you're sick, you make friends who pass away and it weighs on you. But you need to keep going as a way to honour them.” 

It was the fight against cancer that got him into running. After a couple of his friends ran marathons to raise funds for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, Dunleavey started to get involved himself, first with shorter races then as his  health improved, with longer races.  This winter he joined a London running group training for Around the Bay. 

“Running has been amazing,” he says. “Runners are positive people ~ it's been great to be around them.”  For him, the day will be...One Long Expression of Gratitude!”
“A lot of people don't come back to say Thank You...
I think it's important  to do that,” he says.

Research has shown that the old adage,
It is better to give than to true, after all.

Scripted by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 31, 2014
To comment...e-mail to

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sparks...of Recollections

 How often is see a truck signage as you drive along a city street or busy highway?  The company name triggers a “flashback” to a once-upon-a-time in your life.  Perhaps it's a bumper sticker...a licence plate catch-word...a news article caption...a billboard sign...a media advertisement.

The mind replays...what the heart can't delete.

FLYNN (seen in Classified Section)...caught my attention a few weeks ago.  John, an almost-forgotten school friend, attended both  elementary and high school with me. My family lived on a farm along Hwy. 53, east of Burford.  Part way into the village from my home, sidewalks were provided.  Mrs. Flynn lived in a stately two-storey yellow brick home with her son, John (and seemingly without a  husband).  Always well dressed and gracious, she was, to me, the epitome of someone quite well established. A warm and friendly person,  she adored  her academically bright boy. 

One evening, John and a school friend were driving a half-ton truck around the Burford Fairground's race track...for kicks and freedom of enjoyment!  John, standing on the running board outside the passenger door, fell when his driving buddy speedily swerved...and hitting his head on a curve-post, was suddenly killed.  His mother was were all the village people...questioning WHY this foolish teenage adventure resulted in an unexpected death!

AUDREY Grant...a well-recognized and professional Bridge Instructor and author of several Bridge Books, came to Burlington to visit her mother.  While here, she conducted a seminar for bridge player enthusiasts at the Roseland Club.  The AUDREY name carried me back to teaching days.  This AUDREY and I were best friends.  Meeting the “man of her dreams”, she told me that the following summer, she was travelling to Turkey with him to meet his family.  Unknown to me, until just prior to her departure, she was carrying with her a wedding dress.  She didn't return to Hamilton for her teaching position at summer's end.  Telephoning her school, I was told she was no longer on staff. I considered she must have advised the principal about remaining in Turkey. Next year, contacting the Board of Education, I was advised that she was positioned  at another school. The receptionist at said school stated that AUDREY requested she be contacted only by parents of her students.  Sadly, I was unable to locate her...and lost contact...a true mystery!

ESQUIRE MOTEL: A few weeks ago, returning from Hamilton to Burlington one dark evening, it was raining.  The Plains Road West street lights and the oncoming vehicle headlights glared on the drizzling wet pavement. Approaching the Esquire Motel, a memory flashback to-a-several-years-ago similar wet evening, a woman ran from this motel and without stopping, dashed in front of my marine-blue MGB...narrowly I missed her as she precariously ran across the other three lanes and disappeared into the black rainy night.

Life is very complicated!  Don't try to find answers ~
because, when you find answers, Life changes the questions.

 GREEN (on an environment sign).  This reminded me of a Georgian Court town home neighbour family who lived adjacent to us.  They had a little girl, Stephanie, same age as my daughter. Constantly trying to make friends, when they were both about 4 years old, Stephanie stated to my daughter who was enjoying an afternoon snack on our patio, “If you give me a cookie, I'll be your best friend!”

The Green family had a striped tabby cat who was daily put outside for fresh air.  We called him Tiger!
On bad or cold-weather days, he came to our door, claw-hanging onto the screen with front paws seeking admittance to visit our two Siamese cats and for afternoon respite. He would sit in front of our pets' food and water dishes in the kitchen...looking at me with eyes requesting to be fed.  After helping himself to what was given, he retreated upstairs to afternoon-nap on a bed with one of our Siamese.  When he considered his “outside-time” was up, he padded down the stairs, waiting at our patio door to return his family the understanding he'd been enjoying his “outside fresh air.”

So frequent were his visits to us and the cat-ship with my Siamese, I shot pictures of their interactions, organized them in logical sequence to create a story...wrote some narration and selected  background music (believe it was The Baby Elephant song).  On Photo-Essay night at  a local camera club, I presented my little masterpiece,  Didn't win...but given Honourable Mention...for “originality”.

McNally (viewed on TV advertisement):  I hadn't heard that name in a long time.  When my son studied at  University of Windsor,  he attended a church whose minister was Al McNally.  To me, he had been an acquaintance from Hamilton.  I was most pleased to be informed of this connection.  The church congregation became my son's  “family away from  home”.  Frequently, they invited him for lunch and/or dinner; as a result he became involved in the church activities when his time permitted.

Not fond of obituaries, I noticed in today’s Spectator this name with a basketball photo of Robbie Croft wearing a Tennessee Volunteers shirt numbered 40, dribbling the ball and with alert eyes on the basket. Robbie, an extremely tall boy well over six feet tall was a Grade 8 student in my class at Hampton Heights.  Here he was introduced to basketball and continued his love of this game throughout High School and beyond. Gentle, kind and always respectful, I felt akin to him…his birth date of March 17th  same as mine!

Croft, Bob:  Bob passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Carpenter Hospice on March 23, 2014.  A much beloved and loving partner and best friend of Jean Bennie, his daughter Debbie Croft and  son Rob Croft............ A star basketball player at Hill Park Secondary School, Bob still  holds the record of 62 points scored in a championship game played against Delta at McMaster University.  He played for the National Team when he was in Grade 11. Bob was the first Canadian to be offered an American Scholarship to a Major Division 1Basketball University at Knoxville, Tennessee where he became team captain in his 4th year.  Bob was touted to be the first Canadian destined to be All American and  regarded by some as the top prospect in USA.  He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft.  Bob played in the A.B.A. for the Kentucky Colonels and the Texas Chaparrals.  After several years with Dofasco, he returned to the Hamilton Basketball Community and shared his considerable knowledge and skills working with a boy’s  high school and University teams.
(Excerpts from a lengthy Obituary)  
Isn't it amazing what one's 'memory bank' holds???
Perhaps you've encountered similar experiences.

People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out.
But when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed 
only  if there is a light from within.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written March 25, 2014
Comments are welcome...e-mail to:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Collage...for April, 2014

From Planet Earth Calendar

Oxygen Factories:  The coral reefs are the oldest ecosystems on Earth.  Next to the rainforests, they are also the most biologically diverse...based on how many creatures depend on them.  Coral reefs are made up of small creatures called “coral polyps” that secrete a substance...calcium carbonate. This material makes up the coral reef.  The polyps feed on algae that absorb carbon dioxide.  The polyps release oxygen as a byproduct of the algae that they consume.  This dietary conversion process is  one reason why coral reefs are so important.  Much like trees, they remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen which animals need in order to survive.  The polyps are tiny ranging in size from a pinhead to about a foot long.  It is interesting to note that the coral reefs are the only natural formation that can be seen from space ~ proof that the small things make a big difference on our planet.

Did You Know?
(from the Canadian Wildlife Federation Calendar)

The Grizzly Bear is North America's largest land carnivore.  The largest is the polar bear.  Adult grizzlies have no natural enemies...apart from human beings. 

Making a habitat for wildlife can be part of your garden plans. At, you can find tips on providing food and shelter for birds and butterflies.

April Message from the Canadian Red Cross
The Canadian Red Cross violence, bullying and abuse prevention programs*  teach thousands of young Canadians each year how to grow and sustain healthy relationships throughout their all areas of life ~ family, work and community.  This is an important foundation from which they'll be able to grow into happy, healthy and giving members of our communities.  *Visit for info.

Recent studies suggest as many as 25% of teens will experience violence
in a dating relationship before they reach adulthood.


Car crashes are the leading cause of death in teens...and about one-third of those are alcohol related.

Niagara Falls and Great Gorge
(from Niagara Falls of Canada calendar 2014
picturing a colourful nightly display located at
Table Rock Welcome Centre at the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.)

Niagara's waters serve more than one million people in the two countries for recreation and industry ~ most importantly for hydro-electric power generation. The mighty Falls  are known around the world!

Special Event Days

April 1 (Tuesday) ~ April Fool's Day
April 7 (Monday) ~ World Health Day
April 10 (Thursday) ~ Birth date of Jack Miner
(one of the founders of Canada's conservation movement)
April 13 (Sunday) ~ Palm Sunday
April 14 (Monday) ~ Passover begins
April 18 (Friday) ~ Good Friday
April 20 (Sunday) ~ Easter Sunday
April 21 (Monday) ~ Easter Monday
April 22 (Tuesday) ~ Earth Day…
(will publish a blog commemorating this day)
April 30 (Wednesday) ~ International No Hitting Day
refers to Major League Baseball when a pitcher
throws a complete game with no hits by the opposing team.

April Musings

April Fool's Day is the date upon which we are reminded
of what we are on the other 364.
(Mark Twain)

Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!
(Chinese proverb)

The roofs are shining from the rain;
The sparrows twitter as they fly;
And with a windy April grace
The little clouds go by.

Yet, the back yards are bare and brown
With only one unchanging tree ~
I could not be so sure of Spring
Save that, it sings to me.
(Sara Teasdale)

April, Dear April...I beg you come soon
And bring your sweet primroses too.
Let them join in with the daffodils' play
As skies offer sunshine anew.
(Mark R. Slaughter)

Flower and Garden Philosophy
June reared the bunch of flowers you carry
from seeds of April's sowing.
(Robert Browning)

April ~ National Poetry Month

Established in 1996 by the American Academy of Poets, this has become a literary gem for educators to teach and encourage students to develop a love for this form of writing...and for adults alike, to delve an alternative to the essay.

A Thought to Ponder

Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax begins on April Fool's Day
and ends with cries of...May Day???

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 8, 2014
Comments welcome...e-mail to: