Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nature Gem in My Back Yard ~ Part 1

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play and pray in, where nature may heal
and gives strength to body and soul. 
(John Muir...American naturalist)

COME VISIT ME...I'll show you spectacular views from the Niagara Escarpment.  Within these views, Mother Nature has created...bird habitats...richness of fish....surreal landscape of lake, bay, streams and wetlands...miles of hiking trails...rarity of specific trees...wild plant life unique to this geographical area...and “one of a kind” night-time-views from the escarpment heights to the fairyland of cities' and towns'  sparkling lights within the lake-level valley. “Windows to the Lake”are parkettes offering rippling Lake Ontario waters and those of Burlington Bay lapping against the shore.  In stormy weather, observe waves bashing  violently against sea walls with mighty high spray.

We'll observe the trumpeter swans being hand-fed beside the Burlington Bay waters...seagulls, falcons and hawks as they soar on wing in the blue sky...swooping blue herons as they rise from the marsh;  we'll cross the Skyway Bridge that welcomes freighters  from abroad to Hamilton Harbour...we'll view the sandy beaches along Lake Ontario's shore...sailing regattas on bay and lake...and in winter, view ice boats sailing on the Bay that spans the distance between Burlington and Hamilton. A must-to-view is the Royal Botanical Gardens headquarters building in Burlington.

I fully understood the significance of “my backyard” when Real Estate clients comment:  “We chose this top floor condo apartment with view to the escarpment (reminding us of our home location in Germany); the change of colours throughout the seasons is phenomenal!”  Another couple from Buenos  Aires in Argentina stated, “We love Burlington with its leafy-tree canopy over the residential areas; we love the waters and rock, the rolling hills and valleys…especially the wildlife that abound here.  This is now our home!”

Like music and art, love of nature is a common language
that can transcend political or social boundaries.
(Jimmy Carter)

 “Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System”:
A Green Gem for Our Region

Excerpts, I've selected from this article published by the Royal Botanical Gardens
in a pull-out section of the Hamilton Spectator's February 28th issue, 2014.

What makes a city a great place to live, work and raise a family?  The recipe varies from place to place, but the key ingredients are consistent: amongst the homes and places of work, the schools and transportation links...great cities incorporate, celebrate and rely on green space.  Think of Central Park in New York, Hyde Park in London, High Park in Toronto, the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, Phoenix Park in Dublin or Lincoln Park in Chicago. These parks provide more than a landscaped corner for occasional recreation.  They give character to cities; they are indispensable as “green infrastructure” helping to manage and mitigate storm water, pollution, noise and other urban life consequences.

Hamilton and Burlington now have the next big thing in urban green infrastructure ~ the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.  Following six years of background research and public consultation, this new idea became reality in 2013.  That's when 9 local government and non-profit agencies in the two city areas signed the declaration proclaiming its existence.  The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System includes at present, 4,700 acres of parks, nature sanctuaries and supporting facilities owned by partners.

“Our vision is that it will be known internationally as a protected, permanent and connected natural lands sanctuary from the Harbour to the Escarpment that promotes ecosystem and human health within Ontario's Greenbelt.”  Cootes Paradise itself, the centerpiece of the EcoPark System, has long been recognized as both critical bird habitat and a place of remarkable  richness for fish.  John MacTaggart, a British Government Engineer in 1826 wrote, “I've never seen such a variety of wild fowl as come to this place.  It is strongly recommended to ornithologists and sportsmen as a place above all others yet known in Canada,  most deserving of attention.”

The protection of Cootes Paradise and its surrounding landscape, so necessary to support the wetland, began in the 1880's when it became a fish sanctuary.  In the 1920's, this designation was expanded to include wildlife refuge. In 1927 the City of Hamilton Parks Board purchased most of the wetland.  This led directly to the development of the Royal Botanical a unique, intentional combination of protected natural landscape and beautiful public gardens.  The partners realized that they can do a better job, in collaboration, than each do it alone.

In many ways, it's a cultural and natural heritage crossroads  for Ontario.  Archaeologists at McMaster University and University of Toronto have found there were people hunting and fishing along the shores of Cootes Paradise more than 9,000 years ago.  As important as this area is for nature, it's also been a human habitat for a very long time ~ and we have shaped the landscape in profound ways. 

Amazingly, with so much human history, the area is also a natural wonder!  As many as half the fish living in the western end of Lake Ontario are spawned in Cootes Paradise...and the area has been recognized as the richest place in all Canada for the diversity of wild plant life.  It's a critical stop for tens of thousands  of migratory birds every year and many more make their homes there year-round.  Hundreds of thousands of people use the trails and other outdoor recreational opportunities afforded by the partners in the EcoPark System every year.

This area not only deserves recognition and further protection, but it should be celebrated as an amazing, integral part of the future of our vibrant landscape. For more information, visit our website at

The Royal Botanical Gardens

It is one of the main tourist attractions between Niagara Falls and Toronto. The 900 hectares (2,422 acres) of nature sanctuary owned by the RGB is considered the “plant diversity hotspot” for Canada with a very high proportion of the wild plants of Canada in one area. It's an “Important Bird Area” according to Bird Studies, Canada.  It is part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve.

The main building on Plains Road West in Burlington is a magnificent Presentation Center featuring colourful seasonal displays, a unique gift shop, lunch delicious in the Garden Cafe, wedding venues, auditorium meeting rooms. Ride the elevator to the lower level introducing  you to  a limestone built waterfall, gardened walkways to the Tea House. (This artistically  developed area was formerly  a stone quarry with winding picturesque stream).  Yearly, families visit the Rose, Iris and Lilac Gardens.

Of interest also is the Arboretum and Nature Interpretive Center located near Cootes Paradise. About 18,000 school children per year visit these buildings and grounds for organized education programs and 200 public education offerings. Craft programs, for those with artistic interests, are also available..

It is the marriage of the soul with nature
that makes the intellect fruitful and give birth to imagination.
(Henry Thoreau ~ American writer 1817-1862)

In my research, I discovered this writing which enriched me
penned by Kahil Gibran (mystic, poet and artist 1883-1930)

When the birds sing, do they call to the flowers in the fields...or are they speaking to the trees...or are they echoing the murmur of the brooks? 
For man with his understanding cannot know what the rain is saying when it falls upon the leaves of the trees or when it taps at the window panes.  He cannot know what the breeze is saying to the flowers and the fields.

But the Heart of Man can feel...and grasp the meaning of these sounds that play upon his feelings .  Eternal Wisdom often speaks to him in a mysterious language.  Soul and Nature converse together, while Man stands speechless and bewildered.
 Yet, has not Man wept at the sounds?  And are not his tears eloquent understanding?

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...March 9, 2014
To comment...e-mail to:  or

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Common Sense Reigns

The three essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are:
Hard Work...Stick-to-Intuitiveness...Common Sense.
(Thomas Edison)

Two Nuns
(submitted...from Tom)

There were two nuns.  One of them was known as Sister Mathematical (SM) and the other was known as Sister Logical (SL).It is getting dark and they are far away from the convent.

SM:  Have you noticed that a man has been following us for the past thirty-eight and a half minutes?  I wonder what  he wants.

SL:   It's logical...he wants to rape us.
SM:  Oh, no!  At this rate he will reach us in 15 minutes at the most!  What can we do?
SL:   The only logical thing to do, of course, is to walk faster.
SM:  It's not working.
SL:   Of course it's not working.  The man did the only logical thing.  He started to walk faster too.

SM:  So, what shall we do?  At this rate, he will reach us in one minute.
SL:   The only logical thing we can do is split.  You go that way and I'll go this way.  He cannot follow us both.

So the man decided to follow Sister Logical.  Sister Mathematical arrives at the convent and is worried  about what happened to Sister Logical.  Then Sister Logical arrives.

SM:  Sister Logical!  Thank God you are here!  Tell me what happened.
SL:   The only logical thing happened.  The man couldn't follow us both, so he followed me.
SM:  Yes, yes...but what happened then?
SL:   The only logical think happened. I started to run as fast as I could and he started to run faster.
SM:  And?
SL:   The only logical thing happened.  He reached me.
SM:  Oh, dear!  What did you do?
SL:   The only logical thing to do...I lifted my dress up.
SM:  Oh, Sister!  What did the man do?
SL:   The only logical thing to do...he pulled down his pants.
SM:  Oh, no!  What happened then?

SL:   Isn't it logical, Sister?  A nun with her dress up can run faster than a man with his pants down!

(And for those of  you, who thought it would be 'dirty'...isn't this surprising???)

Failure will not overcome me  if my determination to succeed
is strong enough. (Italian author)

Job Application

Three blondes were applying for the last available position on the Toronto Police Force. The detective conducting the interview looked at the three of them and said, “So, you all want to be cops, huh?” The three blondes all nodded.  The detective got up, opened a file drawer and pulled out a folder.  Sitting back down, he opened it, pulled out a picture and said, “To be a detective, you must  be able to detect .  You must be able to notice things such as distinguishing features and oddities like scars and so forth.”

So saying, he stuck the photo in the face of the first blonde and withdrew it after about two seconds.  “Now,” he asked,”did you notice any distinguishing features about this man?” The blonde immediately said, “Yes, I did.  He has only one eye!”  The detective shook his head and said, “Of course he has only one eye in this picture!  It's a profile of his face!  You're dismissed!” The first blonde hung her head and walked out of his office.

The detective then turned to the second blonde, stuck the photo in her face for two seconds...pulled it back and said, “What about you?  Notice anything unusual or outstanding about this man?”  She replied, “Yes!  He has only one ear!”  The detective put his head in his hands and exclaimed, “Didn't you hear what I just told the other lady?  This is a profile of the man's face!  Of course, you can only see one ear!  You're excused too!”  The second blonde sheepishly walked out of the office.

The detective turned his attention to the third and last blonde and commented, “This is probably a waste of time, but ...”  He flashed the photo in her face for a couple seconds and withdrew it, asking, “All right, did you notice anything distinguishing or unusual about this man?”  The blonde said, “I sure did.  This man wears contact lenses.”  The detective frowned, took another look at the picture...and began looking at some of the papers in the folder.  He looked  at the blonde with a puzzled expression and stated, “You're absolutely right!  His bio says he wears contacts!  How in the world could you tell that by looking at his picture?”
The blonde rolled her eyes and said, “Well...Heck,
with only one eye and one ear...he certainly cannot wear glasses!!!”

“Human Actions often illustrate the Comedies of Life.”

Let Him Dig!
(received from my son)

An old man and  woman were married for many years.  Whenever there was a confrontation, yelling could be heard and the old man would shout, “When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!!!”  Even the neighbours feared him.

He died of a heart attack at 98.  After the burial, the neighbours concerned about the wife's safety, asked her, “Aren't  you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way out of the grave and haunt you for the rest of your life?”  The wife said, “Let him dig!  I had him buried upside down.  And I know he won't ask for directions!”

The following is a plaque given me by a Hamilton Bridge partner:

Three Wise Women...
would have Asked for directions...Arrived on time...Helped deliver the baby...Cleaned the stable...Made a casserole...Brought practical gifts...and There would be Peace on Earth!

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 19, 2014
Comments are Welcome...e-mail to:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"The Four Agreements"

Based on the writings of don Miguel Ruiz and  published in 1997, this  is a life-changing book whose ideas come from the ancient Toltec wisdom of the native people of Southern Mexico.  The Toltec were “people of knowledge” ~ scientists and artists who created a society to explore and conserve not only the traditional spiritual knowledge, but also the practices of their ancestors.

The Toltec viewed science and spirit as part of the same entity, believing that all energy ~ material or ethereal ~ is derived from and governed by the Universe.  Don Miguel Ruiz, born and raised in rural Mexico, was brought up to follow his family's Toltec ways by his mother, a Toltec faith healer, and his grandfather, a Toltec shaman. Despite this, don Miguel decided to pursue a conventional education which led him to qualify and practise for several years as a surgeon. 

Following a car crash, don Miguel Ruiz reverted to his Toltec roots during the late 1970's...studying and learning in depth the Toltec ways and  then healing, teaching, lecturing and writing during the 1980's and 1990's...when he wrote The Four Agreements.

The simple ideas of The Four Agreements
provide an inspirational  code for life.

In wartime, after continual strife, Agreements, Treaties and Pacts are made between/among countries to end the battle (be it bloody or otherwise) and to live as peacefully as is possible thereafter.

Businesses have Agreements which designate the protocol of behaviour and principles to which employees must adhere…for not only the success of the company but also to create a pleasant working atmosphere (conducive to camaraderie and achievement).

Parents, to have a family living in a harmonious environment, set standards of acceptable actions by which ALL must abide; failing which, negotiations must be discussed, reorganized and agreed upon.

The Four Agreements are geared to us personally ~ our thoughts, our actions and our coping strategies.

Speak with integrity.
Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

Interpretation:  Impeccable means without 'sin' and sin is something you do or believe that goes against yourself or to others.  To be impeccable means to take responsibility for yourself, to not participate in “the blame game”.  Impeccability starts at home and will reflect in your life and your relationship with others.  This Agreement can help change agreements, especially ones that create fear instead of love.

My Opinion:  When speaking, it is important to have knowledge and  to explain with clarity so there is no misunderstanding.  I will not be “party to gossip”.  The best solution is...“Think Before You Speak” and choose your words wisely.


Nothing others do is because of you. 
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffer.

Interpretation:  We take things personally when we agree with what others have said.  If we didn't agree, the things that others say would not affect us emotionally.  If we did not care about what others think about us, their words or behaviour could not affect us.

My Opinion:  If a friend insults or belittles me, I will react in defence of my character.  If a friend becomes controlling, I'll readily state my position
“Words mean nothing…when your actions contradict.”.


Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
With just one agreement, you can clearly transform your life.

Interpretation:  When we make assumptions, it is because we believe we know others' thoughts and feelings. We believe we know their point of view, their dream.  We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences.

My Opinion:  I fully agree and I do not assume anything without supporting facts.


Your best is going to change from moment to moment;
when you are healthy,  it will be different as opposed to sick.
Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Interpretation:  Doing your best means enjoy the action without expecting a reward. Pleasure comes  from doing what you like in life and having fun ~ not from how much you get paid. Enjoy the path travelled  and destination will take care of itself.

My Opinion”  With any project or task, I'll try my best.  I don't want to reassess saying, “I could have, I should have...”.  I just don't worry about things over which I have no control.
For your own personal satisfaction, Readers...
how would you address these "Four Agreements"?

Words of Wisdom

"Don't sacrifice what you want in life for what you  want now.
Do something today that you will thank yourself for in the future."
(Islamic Reflection)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 23, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:  or

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August...Most Significant Month of the Year!

You may not agree...but let's consider.   You may well believe that New Years' Eve is ~ the beginnings of hopes and plans for the incoming twelve months.

You may believe that December is with its glorious Christmas decorations, colouful trees,  carols, gifts,  family celebrations...and hopefully snow on the evergreens and icicles hanging from rooftops. For you, it may be your Birthday, Wedding Anniversary, Mothers' Day or Father' Day.

For me, August is a month of Renewal (in addition to New Years' Day).

It is mid-summer when children and teens are on holiday schedule.
It is the contemplation of a new school year for the entire family.
It is time to experience new teachers, staff and in-class students.
It is time for parents to revamp their schedules to the best of their abilities.
August spells the end of summer ~ introducing the onset of Autumn in September.
It is two months to November's Remembrance Day and six weeks later to the Joys of Christmas!

August not Rare...But Relish it anyway!

Paul Wilson, a journalist with the Hamilton Spectator
comments about August and asks,
What's not to love about an odd confluence of Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays?

Somebody forwarded me an email the other day that said 'August arriving on Friday is a rare one'!
That's because August, 2014 has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays (according to Snopes).  They say this occurs only once every 823 years (the email said).  The Chinese call it 'silver pockets full' send this to all your friends and in four days, you will have a pleasant monetary surprise.

In fact, there's going to be another August just like this one 11 years from now.  And another 6 years after that.  So, delete that miracle from your inbox.

I know there are teachers who absolutely dread the month of August.  Their summer vacation soon ends...the countdown is under way.  Looming ahead were school classes again! 

That's a shame, because August is a fine month, and  not just because of the fresh-from-the-field butter-drenched peaches-and-cream corn-on-the-cob.  August  is Panini Month...and Win With Civility Month...and National Goat Cheese Month.  We can all celebrate those...and on August 13, a full 10% of us can  mark International Lefthanders' Day.

They say you should witness a sunrise at least once a year and August is a fine time to do that.  On June 20, the day before summer solstice, Marnie and I rose early, drove out to the Beach Strip and watched the black eastern sky go pink.  It was spectacular, but that morning the sun came up at 5:39 a.m. and you want to be out there a half-hour before the sun cracks the horizon.  Catch your sunrise in late August...and it's a full hour later.  Lots of time for a Horton's stop en route to the Strip.

August is a fine time to eat out.  On Wilson, just east of James, there's a restaurant called August 8.  Eighth day of the eighth month is as lucky as they come, hence the name.  Dim sum and sushi are big here, but I can personally vouch for the dumplings ~ steamed or pan fried.

August is a great month for birthdays.  If  you happen to have been born on August 8 and go to the above-mentioned restaurant on that day, you eat free.  (They have three other locations, so you can really bust that belly.)

Barack Obama is an August baby...and Fidel Castro...and Madonna...and Sidney Crosby...and mega-director James Cameron who was born in Kapuskasing in Northern Ontario 60 years ago this August 16th.  (Just a few days earlier, Hamilton's most energetic historian/dissident also turns 60.  Too bad he hates birthdays.)

August brings The Ex. I worked the midway there in the early 70's and the smell of candy floss still snaps me back in an instant...(this being the Canadian National Exhibition). August is Festival of Friends, too, but I've just never had the courage to go since it left Gage Park for a treeless plain on the edge of town.

If nothing else, August is the month to get serious about summer.  And I know I need to get cracking.  It is always my goal to plunge into as many bodies of water as possible. So far this summer, I've done Lake Erie at Long Point.  But Lake Ontario, Lake Huron and Niagara's Chippawa Creek are also personal musts!  Swim now!  Labour Day looms!

Paul Wilson's column appears Tuesdays in the Hamilton Spectator.

I commend Paul for his views on August and I trust you readers of this article found it enlightening and delightful.  I would suggest that he contact Analiese Carr who recently swam across Lake Erie.  Her plan had been to swim its lengthiest width of some 70 plus kilometres but due to  the  night storm over the lake, she had to cut short her distance.  She does plan to swim the completion of her initial goal, so here you are, Paul, join her swim at Long Beach and direct her to Port Dover...her intended destination!

Merle Baird-Kerr...scripted July 31, 2014
Comments most welcome...e-mail to:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Matters That May...or May Not Matter

Freeing Yourself from Regret
(Excerpts from the Chicago Tribune)

“To err is human, to forgive divine,” wrote English poet Alexander Pope.  When it comes to regret, the person you most often must forgive is yourself.  A recent study from Baylor University found that making amends with individuals you have wronged increases your likelihood of self-forgiveness.  It is important to identify how your behaviour escalated out of control, say “I'm sorry, and keep this lesson in mind.”  Most of the regrets tend to be about relationships, either romantic or familial.

Just the simple act of acknowledging your regret can start you on a path that is so liberating and freeing.  Remember that many other people undoubtedly have experienced similar mishaps and moved on with their personal recognition ~ followed by  acknowledgment to their respondent with apology for these past regrets which will lift the burden, (whether the recipient accepts the apology or not.)

“Little happens in a relationship until the individuals
learn to forgive and learn to trust each other.
(David N. Johnson)

“He Who Lost!”

My sister, at age 56 died of an unsuspected  brain hemorrhage   She and her husband had two teenagers 15 and 17 years of age.  After rising early to tend to office work re his funeral business, he went to the washroom to shave. He called into the Master Bedroom to assure she was up, knowing she would prepare breakfast and have their son and daughter off to school.  With no response, he found her sprawled on the floor.  Immediately an ambulance came and took her to the local hospital in Goderich.
Medical staff diagnosing  her coma, forwarded her to Western Hospital in London, Ontario.

On that Monday morning, I left my real estate office to meet with Bob at the hospital. My sister remained in coma-state. We earnestly prayed for her recovery.  Three days later, doctors advised us she would remain “as a vegetable”; we were stunned and shocked ~ making a joint decision to “pull the life-support-plug on her-never-to-be-continued life”. It hit us like a “rogue wave”! Bob was in deep remorse, emotionally wrought and with regret he sobbingly told me there was so much he had wanted to discuss and apologize to her over situations that they hadn't resolved.  “Now she's gone...and it's too late!  HOW can I live with this?”  He was really lost! For a couple years, he had appointments with a therapist to mend his broken mind and spirit.

The Three Monkeys

(Thanks to Sherrie for the significance of this “trio”.)
Originally, this stemmed from a Japanese adage...depicted with monkeys.

The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes who sees no evil.
Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil.
Iwazaru, covering his mouth who speaks no evil.
Sometimes, there is a fourth monkey depicted with the three others:
Shizaru, symbolizes the principle of do no evil.
He may be shown, crossing his arms.
This was intended to say, you should focus your eyes and heart on doing good and doing no evil.  However, in the western world, the saying, “Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil,” has changed to a different meaning; used now to describe those who feign ignorance.  They pretend to be good by ignoring the bad.  The idea is that if they “ignore the evil, see no evil,” they will be seen as good people.  Often in business, in politics and within friendships and families...if they ignore a bad situation, they cannot be criticized for it!

Prayer for the “Soon-to-be-Retired”

Sketch shows a man so supplicant on his knees amid much paper money,
looking heaven-ward through a starry sky that spells D-O-W-N,
he beseeches the Universe to answer his plea:

Stock market, stock market I'm down on my knees;
You've got to recover ~ I'm begging you, please.
I've gotten used to easy cash;
My wife and I had quite a stash.
Stock market, stock market please go higher.
If you crash, we can never retire!


Don’t think too much ~ you’ll create a problem
that wasn’t even there in the first place!
Enjoy little things in life that may or may not matter to others.

Can you get a sunburn even if it's overcast and cool?  (3 letters)
What is the capital of Afghanistan?  (5 letters)
What was the only thing left in Pandora's box after she opened it?  (4 letters)

Did you know...there is good reason for people to conserve Fresh Water? Of all the water on Earth, the life-sustaining resource of Fresh Water makes up about 3% ( much of the water is in the salty oceans).
Did you know...that Earth is divided into large regions called biomes within which  a certain climate and species exist?  Major biomes include tropical rainforest, desert, grassland, deciduous forest, tundra and taiga…the latter two exist in our northland.
Did you know...the Canadian lynx is one of four species of lynx in the world?  It lives in Canada and in northern parts of United States.  This cat, a good climber, has thick paws to help it travel on  snow.

Gretzky Lover:  There is a hockey memorabilia collector in Fort McMurray, Alberta, owning a huge number of Wayne Gretzky items ~ from hockey sticks to jerseys to skates ~ all worn by the famous NHL player known as “The Great One.”  Shawn Chaulk, who has collected sports mementos for 20 years started his Gretzky collection quite a while ago.  He's made many friends with fellow collectors and he even had the opportunity to give a tour of the items to Gretzky himself.  Recently, Chaulk decided to auction off the memorabilia, and it is likely that he'll be a rich man afterward.  For example, he owns100 hockey sticks...each one worth thousands of dollars.

Why didn't the little girl tell the doctor that she ate some glue”  Because her lips were sealed.
If chickens rise when the rooster crows, when do ducks get up?  At the quack of dawn.
Johnny:  “Dad, what is influence?”  Dad: “It is a thing you think you have, until you try to use it.”

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled July 30, 2014
Comments most welcome...e-mail to:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Senses ~ the Gift of Nature

These Five External Senses are subject to reason...
which, properly employed, confirms the
true, wholesome Regulations of Nature.
She distinguishes Good from Bad.

The objects of human knowledge are innumerable and the channels by which the knowledge is conveyed are few.  Humans also have the Sense of Balance, Pressure, Temperature, Pain and Motion.
These various “new senses” all work together and may involve
the co-ordinated use of the 5 Sense Organs.

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction  you choose.
You're on your own and you are the guy who'll decide where to go.
(Dr. Seuss)

Other Senses (that may number to 21 plus or minus)

Thirst...allows your body to monitor its hydration level, so your body knows when to tell you to drink.

Hunger...your body detects when you need something to eat.

Many other Senses of our everyday activities are utilized in decision-making.  These are more abstract and/or psychological in Nature. My writings on this topic conclude with the following:

Time ~ is debatable, as no singular mechanism has been found that allows people to perceive it; however, experimental data has been conclusively shown that  “Humans have a startling accurate Sense  of Time, particularly in younger years.”

Horse Sense is sound practical  judgement which we also term Common Sense.  If your teacher states you  have “Horse Sense”, consider it a compliment.  People with this Sense are smart and practical and can be counted on to make good decisions.

The Lion has his Roar…the Cheetah has his Speed…the Spider has his Web
…the Porcupine his Quills…and the Skunk his Odour
…each with its protection-sense attribute.

The “Sixth Sense”
 is the Power of Perception and Keen Intuition
...independent of the Five Senses.

Horses, like us, have 5 Senses:  Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell and Touch.  But, unlike us, they have an inborn 6th Sense ~ feeling Fear, Anger, Anxiety, Joy and Relaxation. Horses read Body Language extremely well.  These qualities affect how the mount reacts to the rider.

My daughter, an equestrian, riding “Jumper” for about 9 years, demonstrated a Sixth Sense with horses she trained and rode.  Like a Love Affair, they understood and respected each other.  These traits are strongly conducive to the success of all horses and riders who compete in all divisions: Dressage, Hunter, Jumper, Cross-Country and the Grand Prix.

Many humans cannot comprehend the intelligence of animals and birds
and the relationships formed between them and mankind.
Remember Joy Adamson, a naturalist, artist and author best known for her book Born Free, who raised a lion cub in Kenya whom she named Elsa?

Remember Dian Fossey, an America activist who spent about 18 years, not only befriending but also defending  Rwanda's  rare mountain gorillas?

Remember author and conservationist Lawrence Anthony who rescued elephant herds, saving their lives in an endangered situation?  When he died in March, these elephant herds inexplicably gathered to mourn South Africa's “Elephant Whisperer.”  For two hours, the two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they arrived at  his home.  They loitered for two full days at his rural abode  in the vast Thula Thula Game say Good-bye to the man they loved...before returning to their protected habitat. 
How did they know he died March 7th?
Elephants have long been  known to mourn the dead among their herds.

A few months ago, I read a true story of an American who rescued a badly injured eagle.  He had necessary surgery performed, then rehabilitated this raptor at his home. So closely attached to each other, Man and Bird visited the elderly, the sick, hospital patients and schools to bring a Sense of Joy to their lives.  The Eagle never left the Man's side!

Did these persons not have that 6th Sense with Nature?

A Sense-ful Request...

TO SELECT ONE (or more) OF THE FOLLOWING SENSES.  KINDLY WRITE AND SEND ME YOUR EXPERIENCE RELATED TO IT. Simply write it as you would relate it…maximum 350 words and forward to me by the end of August. Your submission(s) I'd love to post at a later date. 
To recognize and pay tribute to you,
I’ll use your First Name...or, if you prefer...An Interested  Reader.
Happy Writing!

Sense of Acceptance, of Appeal, of Appreciation, of Assurance, of Beauty, of Despair, of Direction.
Sense of  Fear, of Humour, of Independence, of Justice, of Loss, of Peace, of Power, of Purpose.
Sense of Relief, of Revenge, of Richness, of Security, of Style, of Urgency, of Value, of Victory.
Sense of Wonder...or one of any others that at the moment fail to come to my mind.

Henry Mencken states:
A man loses his Sense of Direction after 4 drinks.
A woman loses hers after 4 kisses.

Merle Baird-Kerr....compiled June 28, 2014
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Five Basic Senses ~ Part 5

The 5 traditional recognized methods of perception or sense are:

 *The McCormick-Deering tractor's low rumble...the jangle of working-farm-machinery...on a frosty winter day the ringing of a dozen sleigh bells on the  horses' harness…the far-away-freight-train whistle at rural road-crossings ~ each and every  sound clearly heard, permeating the open-countryside where the air is pure (unpenetrated by an urban’s noisy drone and often its layer of thick humid smog). * Bought new (to replace the farm horses), my father cranked it to start; the big rear wheels were attached with several lugs which later he removed and upgraded to tires.


Our ears, which help us hear, are made of 2 separate parts:  the outer ear and the inner ear.  The outer ear is the part that others see.  It works like a cup to catch sound as it travels past our heads.  This part is made of cartilage and skin.  From here, sound travels to the tympanic membrane and then onto the inner ear which translates vibrations into sound and sends that message to the brain through the auditory nerve.  The brain uses the sounds from both the left and right ear to determine distance  and the direction of sounds. (Consider the telephone.)

Not only is a Good Listener popular everywhere,
but after a while, he gets to know something.
(Wilson Mizner ~ playwrite and raconteur)

Paying Attention

In school studies, I determined that students who “pretend to listen” are actually “daydreaming” ~ mind-dreaming, I'd call it with sundry other ideas and thoughts formulating in their heads. Then there are the “half-paying-attention-listeners” who HEAR you, but do not LISTEN!  They skim your words to glean the “gist of the conversation.”  Then they comment indirectly which may not be in reference to what was spoken.  Often, a question is asked of them and consequently, the listener, not fully paying attention to the details, responds with something other than the direct answer.

G.K. Chesterton stated:
There is a lot of difference between hearing and listening!

But, Why?

A High School student, who is academically intelligent, came home with test results ~ very upset without perfect marks!  Of 20 or more questions, she answered all.  However, she garnered very low points on one question.  Grieving with her father about this, and extremely agitated, she said, “I wrote a whole page answer about it!!!”  Her father asked, “What was the question?”  Defending her situation, she again told him she had written a whole page response!  After rereading her lengthy answer, he asked her to show him the “answer to the question”. She had written much superfluous info which didn't apply.

Reading questions Carefully and Listening intently to Conversations
will result in better communication.

You Called?  I Heard You!

Scottish Highland Cattle are a breed with lengthy horns and long shaggy, wavy coats usually black or reddish. “Highlands” are a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands ~ high rainfall and very strong winds.

The summer following two years of teaching I hooked up with a two-month European vacation. After arriving in Glasgow, a tour bus and driver took us into the Scottish Highlands.  In a rural area, we stopped to observe several Highland cattle on the far side of a field adjacent to our roadway.  Exiting the bus, we stood along the bordering fence. One of the bulls bellowed to the nearby cows;  one of our passengers, a High School teacher from Hamilton, returned the bull's call...bellow for bellow which was a great imitation that entertained us all.  Finally, the bull, with one final raucous bellow, charged across the field toward us. We, along with Ken, made a hasty escape to the bus!

Another Connotation

A “HEARING” may be conducted in an informal manner. Adherence to the rules of evidence applicable to judicial proceedings is not required. The “hearing” shall...inform the person of the charges...give the accused an opportunity to the facts of the case...determine if any violation was committed...recommend any disciplinary sanction to be imposed upon the facts, as determined at “the Hearing”.


A man noticed his neighbour boy sitting on the sidewalk outside his house.  The little boy told  him he was running away from home.  “You haven't gotten very far,” said the man.  The little boy replied,  “My mother told me I wasn't allowed to cross the road by myself.”  He had listened and heeded her instruction.

Listening to John Muir....
(a Scottish-born American environmentalist)

 He is best remembered as the great champion of Yosemite's  natural wonders. 
He believed that Nature was a primary source revealing the character of God.

As long as I live, I'll HEAR waterfalls and birds and winds sing.
I'll interpret the rocks ~ learn the language of the flood, storm and avalanche.
I'll acquaint myself with glaciers and wild gardens ~
and get as near the Heart of the World as I can.

Watch for my next posting ~ Senses...The Gift of Nature.

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 27, 2014
Comments appreciated...e-mail to:

Friday, August 1, 2014

Collage...for August 2014

 From Planet Earth Calendar
Living Compasses:  Migration is a fascinating instinct used by animals that cannot tolerate the climate in one location all year round.  Each year...birds, fish and mammals seem to follow a route guided by nothing more than their own instinct. How do they know where to go?

An animal relies on various cues to find its way.  Fish like the Pacific Salmon will use the direction of the ocean currents to push them along. Birds use landmarks and mental maps.  Those that migrate during the day, use the sun as their compass.  Birds that migrate at night, use the constellations to guide them.  Loggerhead Turtles must complete the 8,000 mile (13,000 km.) migration from Florida to the North Atlantic which they do all on their own.  The turtles are able to sense the earth's magnetic field. And they find their way by following its path.

Did You Know?
(from the Canadian Wildlife Federation Calendar).
The American Pica (now an endangered species) is a small mammal with short limbs and round ears.  Picas thrive in cold climate, where they remain active throughout the winter under the snow, frequently in craggy areas. Nibbling on grasses and plant shoots, this furry creature with long whiskers is quite adorable...(and would make a desirably cute pet!)

Gardening Advice
(by Kathy Renwald in a colour supplement of the Hamilton Spectator)
Ten Tools You Should Own... if you are a gardener just starting out.
(You may choose to implement now, or retain for another season.)

Hand Pruners:  The gold standard is the Felco line made in Switzerland.  They cut cleanly and evenly  and feel good in the hand.  The most popular is the No. 8 model.
Hand Trowel:  Buy a good one! It's essential for planting, digging, working in containers and window boxes. Mine is almost 30 years old made by Bulldog Garden Tools in the U.K. 
Shovels and Spades:  Shovels have a pointed end, used to dig garden beds, move mulch and gravel; and spades have a straighter edge, useful for edging borders and digging up perennials.
Rakes: Gardeners need two kinds...a leaf rake and a garden or bow rake. The garden rake is heavier and is used for leveling soil, gravel and sand.
Garden Hose:  A cheap one will kink and drive you crazy, but a quality hose is a pleasure to use.  I like the Super Hose from's light...yet kink-and-crash resistant.
Nozzles and Sprinklers:  There are many good choices including Gilmour's fireman nozzle and Dramm watering wands.  An oscillating sprinkler, is a good choice...and many from which to choose.
Containers:  I love rubber garden tubs.  Sold as a set of 3, they nest in each other.  I fill them with water and a weak solution of  fertilizer in the spring and soak new plants in them before digging them in soil.
Bushel Baskets with metal handles (seen at farmers' markets) are light and easy to carry.  They can be set down in a garden bed without crushing plants. 
Pots:  Buy clay pots...always in style and plants like them because the growing environment is natural. Air and moisture can penetrate the sides of the pot and they don't get hot like plastic pots do.
Gloves: Grippy, waterproof gloves are available in garden centers and hardware stores.

Message from the Canadian Red Cross
Disasters can strike anyone at any time...and efficient disaster management depends on well-prepared volunteers, planning and resources. From small house fires to? the Canadian Red Cross is ready.

Madd Fact
An average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before a first arrest!

Niagara Falls and Great Gorge
A colour calendar view spans the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. A panorama of the approaching Niagara River creates a 3-D effect together with the turbulent white crested rapids as the river begins its dash through the winding Gorge. Although Niagara Falls is not one of the 7 Wonders of Natural Times, it is widely considered the most spectacular “waterfalls in the world”

Special Event Days
August 4 (Monday) ~ Civic Holiday
August 10 (Sunday) ~ Full Moon
August 12 (Tuesday) ~ International Youth Day
August 13 (Wednesday) ~ International Lefthanders’ Day
August 15-September 1 ~ Canadian National Exhibition*
August 29 (Saturday) ~ International Day of Disappearances.
*Did you know that the CNE Grounds was a military camp
during World War One?

Flower and Garden Philosophy
Each flower possesses its own uniqueness
as does each friend.  (Beth Faycus)

August Musings

 Our Life always expresses the result of our dominate thoughts.
(Soren Kierkegaard)

August with its clouds of scented blooms;
August with its great stacks of giant clouds;
August with corn plants, standing like rows of soldiers;
August with watermelons, full and heavy, dozing in the sun.
(Mary Naylor)

I went on inactive duty  in August 1945 and since I had stayed in good shape and had played ball on military teams, I was ready to start for the Indians just 2 days later against the Tigers.  (Bob Feller)

August used to be a sad month for me.  As the days went on, the thought of school starting, weighed heavily upon my young frame.  That, coupled with the oppressive heat and humidity of my native home in Washington D.C. only seemed to heighten the misery. (Henry Rollins)

And so it was, with my son, that following the closing of the CNE
on  Labour Day...was the dreadful thought of imminent SCHOOL!

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled July 5, 2014
Comments welcome...e-mail to: