Monday, June 29, 2015

Canada Day ~ July 1

As we approach another Canada Day celebration, it is important that we take a step back and reflect on how fortunate we are to live in this country. It is easy to take it for granted, however, in reality, we should be thankful each and every day for the privileges we enjoy. I ask that we all remember our past and celebrate our present...and at the same time...continue to build a better Canada.
(Mike Wallace...Member of Parliament from Burlington, Ontario)

Fifty Years for the Red Maple Leaf Flag

On a cold winter day on Parliament Hill (February 17, 1965), “Our hearts were very warm with pride as a new Canadian flag was raised for the first time. The original flag flown over the Peace Tower is part of the House of Commons heritage collection on public display in Parliament's Hall of Honour.”

The Canadian flag is a symbol of the values of peace, democracy, freedom and justice that define us as Canadians. It is a common rallying point for great moments in our country's history and a testament to our ingenuity and achievement, both at home and on the international stage,” stated Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

We Have So Many Reasons to Celebrate
(submitted by a Grade 7 Aldershot Elementary School student)

What makes us unique from others and what do we have in common?

Our flag: the true red maple and the pure white! The dignity and peace we share, no others have. We should be grateful for who we are and what we represent in the global society.

Millions of people and children are not fortunate enough to acquire what we running water and hot food. For us in Canada, these things we have in everyday life. We should be thankful.

Health care is provided from the government which means families get the medical attention they need, even for families that cannot afford medical care which is some countries is quite costly.

Kids are offered a variety of after-school programs and activities...such as organizing a part of the yearbook, participating on a sports team, school council, the band, etc.

The things we accomplished in the past, shaped our country. If not for the courage of soldiers, Canada would not be in existence today. Our history is one to remember. We were the soldiers who were willing to sacrifice lives to support our country and Allies. We were the ones that won battles including the Battle of Washington, the Battle of Chateauguay and the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

We keep the peace. That is what we Canadians do! Proud of who we are, we celebrate Canada every year on July 1 to enact the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act in 1867 which joined Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with the Provinces of Canada (dividing into Ontario and Quebec. This is also the date in which Canada became a “kingdom in its own right.”

Later called the Dominion of Canada, July 1 was originally referred to as Dominion Day.

Canada's Responsibility in the World

By global standards, Canada enjoys extraordinary levels of prosperity and security at home and is one of those countries with the opportunity and responsibility to make a significant contribution to peace and security internationally, beyond its borders. Because of its position in the world, Canada is a “Go To” country for business and commerce and where Tourism (a great economical benefit) is centered around major metropolitan areas...Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa...cities well recognized for their culture and diversity. Of the thousands and thousands who annually visit Canada, others may travel to our historical sites.
Others may be lured to rolling green countrysides...rivers and waterfalls,
the Great Lakes...the ocean sights...the scenic mountains...
and to our Provincial and National Parks.

Our country is vast with ten provinces and three territories extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Visit our island provinces of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Travel by plane or drive throughout our mainland provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. North of our mainland are: Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written June 7, 2014
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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Father's Day ~ How I'm Going to Celebrate It

Written by Farah Mohamed June 2014 ~
 published in The Huffington Post (Ca)

Studies have shown that parents have a strong influence on the way their children understand their roles in society. A study commissioned by Microsoft found that female students are more likely than males to identify 'supportive parents' as an important success factor (50% vs 37%).

Looking back at the choices I have made, I see the influence of my parents ~ their guidance...sense of ethics...and generosity. I see them struggle and what it taught me...and I see their sense of adventure and humour and how it has shaped me.

When you look up the definition of 'unconditional love' in the dictionary, you will see a picture with my mom and dad (when my sister and I were young), so every year when Mother's Day and Father's Day roll around, I think about how to celebrate the two most amazing people I know.
This year, we treated my mom to lunch: a nice piece of jewellery
and her favourite gift...a drawing from my 6-year-old niece.

We hear a great deal about how mothers empower their daughters and rightly so! We don't always hear about how fathers play a role in empowering their daughters. My dad wasn't always around ~ we came to Canada as refugees and my parents had to build a new life, so he worked a lot.

He was also very strict. Now, with a few decades of wisdom setting in, I understand that what he did, he did for us. He got me my first job: at Mother's Restaurants...shredding paper and then crunching numbers; this led to my first real job in an office...with my own desk, phone and set of responsibilities.

Way before I could vote, he taught me to care about politics. This probably had something to do with the way my mom and dad were expelled from Uganda in 1972.

Making me read the Globe and Mail and encouraging us to be engaged in our community led me to volunteer in the Burlington election for Paddy Torsney in 1993. By 1995, I was working on Parliament Hill with Paddy.
How do I thank my dad?
This year, rather than a golf shirt (he doesn't play golf)...
a nice lighter (he no longer smokes ~ yeah, dad!)...
or tickets to the Jays (turns out he has a better source of tickets than I do)...
I am going to do what my parents told me to do
if I ever felt over-the-top emotion.
I am going to 'use my words'
and I invite you to do the same.

On the occasion of Father's Day, G(irls)20 is launching an online campaign to showcase how fathers empower their daughters...and how the daughters feel empowered by their fathers.

What do Richard Branson, Quincy Jones and your dad have in common?
They all have daughters...Happy Father's Day, Dad!

* * * * * * *
A son's first Hero;
A daughter's first Love.
Merle Baird-Kerr...written April 3, 2015
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Friday, June 5, 2015

Animal Bonding

 The greatness of a nation and its world progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
(Mahatma Gandhi)

The connection between humans and animals is one of the most fundamental bonds that human beings experience.  As 'cave paintings' illustrate, humankind has interacted with the animal kingdom for tens of thousands of years.  From household pets to horses herding therapy dogs providing comfort to disaster and illness victims. Lives of humans and animals are bettered by our mutual bond.

Even an animal, if you show genuine affection
...gradually, trust will develop.

Gaining Trust
As an equestrian, my daughter discovered each horse had a distinct personality. The owner of the stables where she rode, one day brought in a off the racetrack... that was rejected due to being most 'skittish' at the starting gates.  Jim Bertin, with his knowledge of horses, visualized this mare as a 'jumper'.  Sundash trusted no one!  It was my daughter's task to lunge this spirited thoroughbred daily round and round the both directions to firstly reduce her spend time grooming talking to feeding her.  It was necessary to gain the horse's trust before any consideration of saddling her.  When comfortable with this, did Sundash allow the rider on her back.
With 'fences' set up in the arena, Sundash learned to jump...
then they proceeded outside to the jumping field. 
Reluctant at first, she was learning to trust her rider...and jumped like a deer...
soaring and clearing fences with sprightly leaps.

Sheba...Abused and Abandoned
We met at the Animal terrified she was of humans!  It was November when this cat realized  she must find food and shelter for the cold winter months approaching. The farm owner, unable to house the cat herself, called the Shelter to rescue it.  Upon examination, the Vet noted she had been abused...and probably ran away.  A strange looking tabby with grayish to charcoal fur...tufted ears and paws...bushy tail...and most anti-social, I was told.  The manager, wearing gloves removed her from the cage, setting her on the floor. I brought her home...talking to her in my car while she howled and moaned.  Inside my front door, opening the carrier, she proudly stepped the Queen of Sheba!  I introduced her to food, water and the litter box before she disappeared. I totally ignored her until she was ready to come to me.  Never sat on my lap...nor could I hold her more than a few seconds. She would lay at my feet or beside me...and at the foot of my bed overnight...content with companionship.
Surprisingly...she was a Maine Coon!

From Foster Home to Adoption
Lorraine became my neighbour a few months ago.  With her was 'Willie' ~ a Beagle for whom she cared as a 'foster dog'. They bonded and became compatible friends. She tells me, “Willie listens and understands…the basis of developing communication”. Such was their bonding, that Lorraine adopted Willie. “Learning to communicate with each other…makes life easier,” she further states. Daily, you will see Lorraine and Willie sharing their walks outside. For them both, it's a wonderfully rewarding companionship they share.  Lorraine asked me once if I hear Willie barking when she is gone without her…to which I replied, “She doesn’t bark…but if no TV is on, I do hear Willie quietly ‘moaning’.”

Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's  soul remains unawakened.
(Anatole France)

Foxy 'Lady'
Their unlikely friendship was brief but unforgettable.
(written by Cathy Gauthier ~ published in ‘Our Canada’ Magazine)
Upon retiring, my husband, David, and I decided to move somewhere offering more wilderness.  Seven years ago, we bought 100 acres just south of Magnetawan, Ontario.  This is where a young red fox allowed me into her life...and where we shared many special moments. 'Lady', as I named her, first appeared along our backyard treeline.  Seeming almost nonchalant, she sniffed the low-lying leaves, casting long glances in my direction.  Our first encounter ended up with me throwing a few pieces of dog kibble her way and that expert nose of hers sniffing it out in the grass.

This was the start of a friendship that lasted a year and a half.  As our trust in each other grew, so did our interactions. The best part of our journey together was her joining me as I ate breakfast  or lunch  in my garden.  It was usually a mouthful for me...then a mouthful for her.  She even lapped up the last of the coffee in a cup I'd left lying on the grass. Lady visited almost every day and I worried if she didn't show up for a week or more...but eventually she always came back to say hello.

She was especially playful as the weather got colder...wanting me to run after her.  With her front legs outstretched, head low and haunches in the air, she would dare me to chase her. So, around the yard we'd run until a smell or movement caught her attention...then off she'd go to investigate.  As winter set in, I wondered if she was safe and if she was getting enough food on her hunts to stay alive. Then to my relief, there she'd be sitting on a snowbank in the backyard, waiting for a handout she knew I'd give her.  Just as this wonderful animal had quietly come into my life, she left the same way one day. Perhaps a beau beckoned?  I'll never forget the time we spent together ~ the beautiful red fox and I.

The Kiss
(submitted to me by Jeanne)
She is pregnant; he had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire.  When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest.  A photographer from the Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper , noticed her in the distance looking at the fireman.  He saw her walking toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do.
She didn’t care if he was dirty…she didn’t care if he smelled like burnt wood.
She only knew this man saved her life…and she thanked him
from her heart the best way she could.
As the photographer raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies…and kissed him just as the photographer snapped this photograph:
Photo: The Doberman Pinscher approached her ‘saviour’…the  fireman (still clad in full gear with air tank on his back); removing  his helmet, he knelt forward to meet her.  She looked lovingly and affectionately into his eyes…then planted kissing licks upon his face…the fireman graciously accepted this canine gesture. And…people say animals are dumb???

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.
(Martin Buber)

“My Dogs”
Tom sent me a photo of 4 dogs, wet from their play in the nearby winding woodland stream. Sitting side by side, posed on the gravelly shore, they appear to be a German Shepherd mix, Golden Lab, Border Collie mix and a Black Lab.  The owner of these dogs writes, “This morning I went to Centrelink to sign my dogs up for welfare. At first he lady said, ‘Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare’.  So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in colour, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Dads are.  They expect me to feed them, provide for them with housing and medical care.  So, she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.  My dogs get their first cheques next Friday.  DAMN, this is a great country!!!”

Merle Baird-Kerr…written May 25, 2015
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Monday, June 1, 2015

Salute to June 2015

~ A Mosaic of Musings and Ramblings ~
(both sad and inspiring)

Best Sermons are Lived:  Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road  holding him and crying...and just before he died, he licked my tears. (from Carolyn's collection)

Bizarre Amazing Facts:  About 1,311 people live in Verkhoyansk, Russia, a town with an average temperature of -45 degrees C (-50 degrees F) in January.  The town was also attacked by a pack of 400 wolves last year.  The sun currently rises at 2 pm and sets at 3:30 pm.

Caring for the Land:  Canadian Wildlife Federation encourages stewardship from backyards, to fields and forests: 700,000 square kilometres is covered by CWF Western Boreal Forest Land Use Planning Tool that will help assess tradeoffs  between development and conservation.
2500 locations surveyed by CWF for grassland songbirds ~ 14 bird species (4 of which are at risk).
68 new gardens certified as a total of 772 (more than 8400 acres)
9,000 students who took part in Habitat 2020 encouraging them to participate in creative approaches to wildlife education.

Children's Wise Words:  Required in class to write a “Six Word Memoir”, Joey, a Grade 8 student wrote:  Pain eventually vanishes, scars are forever.”
            “Life is too confusing to understand.”

The father of 5 young children won a toy at a raffle.  He called his kids together to ask which one should have the present.  “Who is the most obedient?” he asked.  “Who never talks back to Mother?” and “Who does everything Mother says?” 
Five small voices replied in unison, “Okay, Daddy,  You get the toy!”

Community Acknowledgements
Parliament Hill:  Joshua Bowman and Danielle Kydd, Hamilton High School students who attended the Forum for Young Canadians in Ottawa wrote, “You are the future of Canada”, we were told, imprinted in our minds at the February week-long program giving young a voice in federal politics since 1975.  The program was developed to foster leadership skills among youth while giving them opportunities to meet with influential political figures  and other students across Canada.

Hundreds Climb Chedoke Stairs to Help Fight Cancer: Mark Doering climbed the 289 steps at  the Chedoke stairs twice Saturday.  The top 3 climbers  made 13 treks up and down the escarpment at the 9th annual 'Climb for Cancer'  to aid the  Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.  Of the more than 1,000 people who were challenged,  37 year-old Doering said, “I wanted to do something for the hospital that saved my life...twice!”

Baby Falcons Hatch at the Sheraton:  In mid-May, 2 peregrine chicks hatched in their downtown nest atop the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel.  This is the first set of chicks for Lily and Ossie who usurped Madame X's nest of several years.

Trees:  “Call the City of Hamilton to request your free tree; we will deliver and plant it.” Also, as part of the Churchill Park Management Plan, city crews have been cutting non-indigenous tree species and bushes to prepare for the public planting of some 1,000 indigenous trees in this Westdale park.
 Trees increase property value!  Trees improve air quality!  Trees improve storm water retention!

From Our Cows to Your Home:  Dairy farms in Ontario discontinued shipping milk in cans in 1977.
During the last 50 years, milk transportation has evolved from shipping milk cans in open trucks ~ to using large temperature-controlled milk tankers.  Through Dairy Farms of Ontario Management, a fleet of milk trucks travels more than 20 million kilometres per year to Ontario processors.

Gardens:  Tips to Crown your Lawn, 'King of Spring' Enjoy Summer!
Clean up (rake the garbage then apply compost ¼ inch thick!  Re-seed the bare patches!  Aerate your lawn!  Time to Mow  (optimal grass length 2.5 to 3.5 inches)!  Add Colour and Contrast!
To enjoy...add natural tree umbrella...a pergola and/or cabana...retractable awning...and a covered patio.
Get your kids into the garden this spring:  have them plant a tree, create a window box, start a vegetable garden...choose flowers for blooms all summer.
A man's children and his garden
both reflect the amount of weeding done during the growing season.

Health is Wealth:  Allspice is a victim of its own name. Someone, seeing its label, believes it to be a blend of many spices (or even all spices) we use in food preparation.  Allspice is just one spice  ~ a dried berry from broadleaf evergreen tree that grows primarily on the islands of the Caribbean Sea and Central America.  Whatever tastes good with cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg, tastes better with 'allspice'.

MBK's NewsBits:  Monarch offers Condolences
In May, Queen Elizabeth met with 3 senior officers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada at Buckingham Palace ~ Hon. Col. Ron Foxcroft, Hon. Lt. Col. Rick Kennedy, Lt. Col. Lawrence Hatfield....this being a special audience prompted by the October shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while on guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.

Dancing With the Stars winner, Rumer Willis dedicated her trophy to all her fans with 'low esteem' .  The 26 year-old said, “ It is for anyone who thought (like me) they deserved to do something...or wasn't capable.  Other than Val and myself, that is who the 'mirror ball' is for.”

$21,000 One-Way Ticket???  Definitely not economy!
United Arab Emirates' Abu Dhabi's  national carrier, 'Etihad' has received its first Airbus A380.  The double-decker jet will operate daily to London Heathrow December 27  and features “The Residence by Etihad” ~ a  3-room suite complete with a living room, a private bathroom with shower and a well as a private the very front of the plane's upper deck.  The suite has already been booked for the inaugural flight to London.  It's expected to cost $21,000 one-way.

Shunned,  Ignored ~ Now Honoured by West Point:  Benjamin O. Davis Jr. entered West Point in1932 as its only black cadet and spent the next 4 years being shunned.  He, not only  roomed alone but no one befriended him. The future  Tuskagee Airman and trail-blazing Air Force General later said he was an 'invisible man'.  Now, more than a decade after his death, a new cadet barracks is being constructed at the United States Military Academy will be named for Davis ~ a rare privilege...previously granted to students with names like...Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

National News:  Canada ranked 10th among tourism-friendly countries. Spain, for the first time ranks first as the world's most tourism-friendly country in the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitive Index.  Other countries in order: France, Germany,  United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, Japan, Canada...and so on.

Atwood Named Honorary Member of American Arts Academy:  One of Canada's famed writers, Margaret Atwood has recently been named a foreign honorary writer.  The Academy is an honour society based in New York and founded in1898.

Mohawk Goes Green:  Mohawk College has been named one of Canada's greenest employers for the second year in a row by editors of 'Canada's Top 100 Employers'.  Mohawk is the only college in Ontario and one of two colleges in Canada to make the 2015 list of 'greenest employers'.
“Mohawk welcomes the world to Hamilton
in starting a year-long project at making itself and the city a more attractive community to foreign students and graduates. With 1200 to 1300 international students a year studying at Mohawk, it is important for us to be a welcoming community,” states College President, Ron McKerlie.

Notable Dates:  June 8 (Monday) ~ World Ocean Day
                           June 8-14  (Monday to Sunday) ~ Rivers to Oceans Week
                           June 14 (Sunday) ~ Canadian Rivers Day
                           June 21 (Sunday) ~ Father's Day
                                                          National Aboriginal Day
                                                          First Day of Summer
                                                          Pan American Torch Arrives in Hamilton.***
***Ignited some time in May during an Aztec ceremony at the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan,  just outside Mexico City, the Pan American Torch will be flown to Toronto for the relay to begin there on May 30, visiting 130 communities across Ontario.  About 3,000 people (including 9 local representatives) will be carrying the Pan American flame for 6 weeks before the Games' Opening Ceremony in Toronto  July 10, 2015.  The flame will travel 15,000 kilometres by air and 5,000 kilometres on land. throughout Canada.

Wild Animal:  Lynx Joins Internet Cat Craze ~ Terrace Bay, Ontario
A Northern Ontario woman,who came upon a wild lynx outside her shop, captured the encounter on video and posted it to You Tube.  Beth-Ann Colebourne, 31 says the chance meeting happened one evening outside her nail salon in Terrace Bay about 225 km east of Thunder Bay.  She didn't feel threatened by the animal, giving it room to get away...but her calls of 'Kitty, kitty, kitty' and 'What's up Buddy, what are you doing?' had some communicators questioning her sanity. Despite her invitations of 'Hey...Lynx!' and 'Come Here', the animal appeared uninterested in making friends...and walked away...looking back at her several times.
Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 23, 2015
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