Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lesson From the Butterfly

This is such a beautiful story,
illustrating one of the most salient lessons we learn through our lives.
It's easy to imagine life as simple ~ good or bad.
But, sometimes, we need a bit of both to make us who we are.

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
it became a butterfly! (English Proverb)

One day, a man walking down a nature path, saw a butterfly cocoon that was about to open. As he watched, a small opening appeared in the cocoon. The man sat and watched for the butterfly to emerge; for several hours it struggled to to force its body through that little hole.

Then, it seeemed to stop making progress...appearing as if it had gotten as far as it could...and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly...he took a pair of scissors from his pocket and opened the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, it had a withered body...it was tiny...and its wings were shrivelled. The man continued to watch because he expected that at any moment, the wings would open...enlarge and expand...to be able to support the butterfly's body.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a withered body and shrivelled wings. It was never able to take flight.

What the man, in his kindness and his 'good will' did not understand, was that his restricting the cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening, were Nature's Way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings...so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in life.
If we were allowed to go through our life without any obstacles,
it would cripple us.
We would not be as strong as we could have been.
We'd never be able to fly!

I asked for STRENGTH” ~ I was given Difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for WISDOM” ~ I was given Problems to solve.
I asked for PROSPERITY” ~ I was given Brain and Brawn to work.
I asked for COURAGE” ~ I was given Obstacles to overcome.
I asked for LOVE” ~ and I was given Troubled People to help.
I asked for Favours” ~ and I was given Opportunities.

I received NOTHING I wanted ~ but I received EVERYTHING I needed!

Lesson From the Butterfly
Let go of the past.
Trust the future.
Embrace the change.
Come out of the cocoon.
Unfold your wings.
Dare to get off the ground.
Ride the breezes.
Savour the flowers.
Put on your brightest colours.
Let your beauty show.
(Author unknown)

(My gratitude to Jeanne for the foregoing.)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written May 11, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016


Quebec is a predominately French-speaking province in eastern Canada with 2 vibrant cities in its south. The metropolis of Montreal is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill at its heart. Dating to 1608, Quebec City retains its old colonial core. Place Royale, and historic harbour, Vieux Port are now known for nightlife.
Quebec founded: October 7, 1763
Capital: Quebec City
Colleges and Universities: Laval University (and more)

Quebec Facts
Canada's largest province, 'Quebec' came from the Algonquin word 'Kepek'
meaning “the place where the river narrows,”
(referring to the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City)
Ethnic Groups of People include French, Irish, Italian, English, Aboriginal, Scottish, German.
Languages: French 80%, English 7.8%, Italian 1.7%, Spanish 1.5%, Arabic 1.5% (2006 census).
Aboriginal People,total over 108,430: Mohawk, Wendat (Huron), Cree, Algonquin, Innu (Montagnais), Micmac, Attikameks, Inuit and Metis (2006 census).

People came from France, Britain, southern Europe, East and southeast Asia.
The largest city is Montreal (metropolitan population over 3.7 million).
Most cities and towns are along the St. Lawrence River.

The first people are the Aboriginals ~ in the southern part, growing squash, beans and maize; some were hunters and gatherers who lived in birchbark covered wigwams; the northern people hunted seals, whales and polar bears.

Explorer, Jacques Cartier arrived in 1534 and claimed the land for France.
Samuel de Champlain set up a colony called...New France in 1608.
Farmers called, habitants settled there. (Wonder why the Montreal Canadiens were called 'Habs'?)
British and French fought the Seven Years' War...
ending when Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759.
Loyalists arrived from the U.S. (1781) and settled further up the river.
The area was divided into Upper Canada (English-speaking) & Lower Canada (French-speaking) 1791.
The Act of Union in 1840 united Upper and Lower Canada and established the Province of Canada.
In 1867, the Province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec.
Quebec became one of the four original provinces of the Dominion of Canada, along with Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in 1867.

Water and Land
The land is divided into 3 regions ~ Canadian Shield, St. Lawrence Lowlands and Appalachian Region.
About 90% of Quebec is in the Canadian Shield...being rocky with forests, lakes and rivers.
Most people live in the St. Lawrence Lowlands...and agricultural region.
The St. Lawrence River (over 1200 km long) links Quebec to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Appalachian Region (south-eastern part of the province) consists of weathered mountains.
Quebec has more fresh water than any other province.
There are more than one million lakes and thousands of waterways.

Resources and Industry
Gold, copper, iron ore, silver, zinc, nickel and asbestos are mined in Quebec.
Hydroelectric power is produced and exported to the U.S.
One of the largest hydroelectric plants in the world is near James Bay.
Quebec produces more than a third of Canada's pulp and paper products.
Lumber is used to make furniture and build homes.
The province is Canada's main producer of maple syrup.
The dairy industry is the largest in Canada.
Raising hogs, cattle and poultry...and growing hay, corn and oats to feed the animals are significant.
All kinds of fruit and vegetables are grown in southern Quebec.
Manufacturing: aerospace industries, aircraft and commuter trains, computer and electronic products and pharmaceuticals.

Events: The Winter Carnival is held in Quebec City in February. Activities include winter sports, dances, ice sculptures and dog sled races, parades and concerts. 'Bonhomme' is the snowman mascot.

The Laurentian Mountains, north of Montreal, invite travellers to visit and vacation in its scenically-scenic paradise. I spent a few ski-weeks in late December and January ~ most exhilarating days including Gray Rocks and Mont Tremblant. Although brief visits in Quebec City, I never skied Mont Sainte-Anne nor any resorts in the Eastern Township near the Vermont border.

Places: Bonaventure Island Bird Sanctuary ~ largest colony of gannets in the world.
Quebec City ~ the only walled city north of Mexico in North America, has many historic buildings.
Old Montreal ~ features cobblestone streets and has architecture from the 17th and 18th century.
Religious Shrines ~ Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal and Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica attract millions of pilgrims yearly.

Significant People: Celine Dion, Oscar Peterson, William Shatner, J.A. Bombardier, Myriam Bedard, Gaelon Boucher, Marc Gagnon, Gilles & Jacques Villeneuve, Marc Garneau and Julie Payette.

Canadian Prime Ministers from Quebec: Jean Chretien, Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Louis St. Laurent, Sir Wilfred Laurier and Sir John Abbot.

Famous NHL Hockey Players from Quebec: Henri and Maurice Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy LaFleur, Patrick Roy, Bernie Boom Boom Geoffrion, Mario Lemieux.

Provincial Emblems:
Flower: Fleur de lis (Blue Flag Iris)...Tree: Yellow Birch (for making furniture)...Insect: White Admiral Butterfly...Nickname: La Belle Province (Beautiful)...Motto: Je me souviens (I remember).
Flag: has a white cross on a blue background;
the four white fleur de lis represent the early settlers.
It became the official flag in 1948.

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 7, 2015
To comment: email to

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Married Daughter's Letter to Mom

(With my thanks to Dilu for the following)

Dear Mom: Like every normal girl, I was excited about marriage right from childhood days. Never did I think beyond the time that I would spend happily with 'my prince charming'.

But today, when I am married, I realize that marriage is not all roses. It's not just about being with your beloved and having a gala time. There is so much more to it. It comes with its share of duties, its share of responsiblities, of sacrifices and compromises.

I cannot wake up any time I want.
I am expected to be up and ready before everyone else in the family.
I can't laze around in my pyjamas throughout the day.
I am expected to be presentable every time.
I just can't go out anytime I want to.
I am expected tobe sensitve to the needs of the family.
I just can't hit the bed anytime I want.
I am expected to be active and around the family.
I can't expect to be treated like a princes, but I am supposed to take care of everyone else in the family.

And then, I think to myself, “Why did I get married at all? I was happier with you, Mom. Sometimes I think of coming back home to you...and getting pampered again.

I want to come home to my favourite food...cooked by you every evening after a nice outing with my friends. I want to sleep on your lap like I have no worry in the world. But then, I suddenly realize, had you not got married and made sacrifices in your life, I wouldn't have had so many wonderful memories to hang on to. And suddenly, the purpose of all this becomes clear: to return the same comfort , peace and happiness to my new family that I got from you!

And I am sure, that as time would pass, I would start loving this life equally as you. Thank you, Mom,
for all the sacrifices and compromises you made. They give me strength to do the same as you.
Love You!
As birthdays rolled by yearly, my philosophy was,
'Another year younger...and another year wiser!'

Louise-Ann Caravaggio from Dundas
in writing about Family Relations, writes:
Funny How My Mom Gets Wiser as I Get Older!

We never really appreciate our mother until we become one. The depth of responsibility and emotion of motherhood is all engulfing. As a young person, I never understood just why my mother was so protective. Now, as a 'Mother'...I get it!

My mother was a 'jack of all trades' while I was growing up. She nursed my winter fevers, scraped knees, taught me to read and wiped my tears...always in the vein of unconditional love! She drove my friends and me to high school down Snake Road at Waterdown in all kinds of trying winter weather, when we missed the school bus. She helped me get out of touble in high school at Notre Dame Academy when my sewing was not up to snuff for the nuns. Mom took me to figure skaing lessons and sat in many cold arenas to cheer me on. She nursed me back to health when I broke my wrist and got me back on the ice when I needed that encouraging, gently push. Mom even survived my tumultuous teenage years with the stern saying, “Remember...I'm the Mother!”

Having been a secretary and being a Virgo, Mom is still a stickler for details and a maker of lists. Everything has its place. While growing up, she ironed my underwear, pyjamas, bed sheets..and e
ven her tea towels. My mother spent many hours typing my hand-written university papers on her typewriter before the advent of computers...or I would have sunk. Remember, no 'delete key' in those days. She never complained.

Many years ago, one freezing winter day, our doorbell rang and there was a woman standing there with a Christmas tree. The lady had tried to drag it home...however, it was much too heavy to bear. My mother promptly helped the lady load the tree into our car trunk...and Mom drove the mystery lady home, even though she was very busy. I asked my mom why she did that, and she told me, “It is Christmas...and helping others is the essence of the holiday spirit.” That image and sentiment have stuck with me. For several years, my mom has helped to organize the collection of clothing and toys for the Good Shepherd Centre via our church to be given to needy children at the holidays. She enjoys 'making a difference' in the lives of others.

Over the years, my mother helped me deal with the changes of being a new parent and came to the house to cook and help me with the children. She was my life preserver! My parents baby-sat our children in thier retirement. Their grandchildren loved the attention lavished on them: favourite treats were home-made chicken dumpling soup, pasta and meatballs, egg salad sandwiches and freshly baked cookies. With their grandparents, they also enjoyed shopping excursions, trips to the park, attending recitals and games...and expecially Christmas with the grandparents.

My mother has always been my emotional rock...and for that, I will always be grateful. She made a happy home for my dad and me. With my dad's Parkinson's, she showed him patience and great love over the years. Thank you, Mom, for everything that you taught...and continue to teach me about understanding, selflessness, humour, caring and celebrating special occasions!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 15, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Women's Favourite Email of the Year

Like the cliche: “A Woman's Job is Never Done” ,
her husband quickly discovered...How True!
(My gratitude to Dilu for the following father's experience!)

A man was sick and tired of going to work each day while his wife stayed at home.
He wanted her to see what he daily went through so he prayed:
Dear Lord: I go to work every day and put in 8 hours
while my wife merely stays at home...I want her to know what I go through.
So, please allow her body to switch with mine for a day.
God, in His infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish!

The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman. He arose early...cooked breakfast for his mate...awakened the kids..selected and set out their school clothes...fed them breakfast...packed their lunches...drove them to school...picked up the dry cleaning as he came home...and stopped at the bank to make a deposit...went grocery shopping...paid the bills and balanced the cheque book.

He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog. Then, it was already 01 P.M. And hurried to make the beds...do the laundry...vacuum...dust...and sweep and mop the kitchen floor.

Ran to the school to pick up the kids...and got into an argument with them on the way home. Set out milk and cookies...and got the kids organized to do their homework. Then, set up the ironing board..and watched TV while he did the necessary ironing. At 4:30, he began peeling potatoes...and washing vegetables for salad...breaded the pork chops...and snapped fresh beans for supper.

After supper, he cleaned the kitchen...ran the dishwasher...folded laundry...bathed the kids...and put them to bed. At 09 P.M. he was exhausted...and though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed...where he was expected to make love...which he managed to get through without complaint.

Waking the next morning, he immediately knelt by the bed and said, “Lord, I don't know what I was thinking.
I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day.
Please, oh! Oh! Please, let us trade back! Amen!”

The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, replied,
My son, I feel you have learned your lesson
and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were.
You'll just have to wait nine months, though.
You got pregnant last night!”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 15, 2016
Comments are welcome...email...inezkate@gmail.com or mbairdkerr@cogeco.ca

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Grandmothers of Yesterday"

Many of you may not have a grandma that fits this category.
I share with you an article sent me by Tom...and hopefully, to some degree,
you'll gain 'respect for the apron'!

The concept I have of Grandmother Lily is not only of her 'old fashion methods' but that she wore purple a lot. So, when young, I associated this colour to be worn by 'old women'! Today it's a favourite colour of mine!

I don't think our kids today know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses (which had to be ironed)...and aprons used less material.

But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears ...and on occasion was even used for cleaning dirty ears.

From the chicken coup, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids. And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood (from the woodhouse) were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in the apples that had fallen from the orchard trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch...waved her apron...and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to the noon-hour dinner.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.
Her grand daughters set their pies on the window sill to thaw.

Today, “Do-Gooders” would go crazy trying to figure out
how many germs were on that apron.
I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron...but Love!

My grandma baked her own bread...and cut it, holding against her chest...and never cut herself.
She cooked on a wood-burning stove that had to be lit each day.
Her stove heated water to wash or bathe or for hot drinks.
She churned her own butter...and made farmers cheese.

I could go on, but this was 'farm life'. City folk had it a mite easier perhaps; maybe didn't need the wood stove...but those aprons were still there. For those who didn't have a grandma like this...well, you did miss out on a very unique part of life...as it was in those days!

Merle Baird-Kerr...written May 12, 2016
Comments appreciated...email...mbairdkerr@cogeco or inezkate@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why God Make Moms

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why Did God Make Moms?
She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
Mostly, to clean the house.
To help us out of there when we were being born.

How Did God Make Mothers?
He used dirt...just like for the rest of us.
Magic plus super powers...and a lot of stirring.
God made my mom just the same like he made me. He used bigger parts.

What Ingredients are Mothers Made Of?
God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair...everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why Did God Give You Your Mother and Not Some Other Mom?
We're related.
God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

What Kind of a Little Girl Was Your Mom?
My mom has always been my mom...and none of that other stuff.
I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
They say she used to be nice.

What Did Mom Need to Know About Dad Before She Married Him?
His last name.
She had to know his background. Like, is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and Yes to chores?

Why Did Your Mom Marry Your Dad?
My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
She got too old to do anything else with him.
My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the Boss at Your House?
Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the Difference Between Moms and Dads?
Moms work at work and work at home...and dads just go to work at work.
Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at friends.
Moms have magic. They make you feel better without medicine.

What Does Your Mom Do in Her Spare Time?
Mothers don't do spare time.
To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What Would it Take to Make Your Mom Perfect?
On the inside, she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet maybe blue.

If You Could Change One Thing About Your Mom, What Would it Be?
She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it...not me.
I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

My thanks to Sherrie for sending me this
in July 2014.

I recall Art Linklater, who when interviewing children,
stated, “Kids say the darndest things!”

Submitted by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 11, 2016
To comment...email...inezkate@gmail.com or mbairdkerr@cogeco.ca

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Flour Sacks of the 1930's

My Grandmothers and Mothers all had hand braided rugs scattered on their hard, wide plank floors. They were colourfully crafted, adding cheer to those keeping the wood stove burning its splintered wood and the late evening's burning embers before bedtime. To keep one's feet warm overnight for a few hours, mother would wrap hot pressing irons in towels and place at our feet in bed...since bedrooms often had little or no heat. Every fall with the harvest of vegetables and fruits, my sister and I would assist with the preserving of fruit into jams and jars and jars of canned fruits....even making pickles and storing flour for baking. With a Singer treadle sewing machine, she made all our clothes except for coats and boots. She too, had these colourful flour sacks which she recylcled into other uses. In those years, nothing was thrown out that might or could be used at a later time.
 If something was broken, it would be fixed...not discarded and thrown out.!
I extend my thanks to Meg for the following poetic words.

In that long ago time when things were saved,
When roads were gravelled and barrels were staved,
When worn-out clothing was used as 'rags' ,
And there were no plastic wrap or bags,
And the well and the pump were way out bag,
A versatile item, was...the flour sack!

Pillsbury best, Mother's and Gold Medal, too
Stamped their names proudly in purple and blue.
The string sewn on top was pulled and kept;
The flour emptied and spills were swept.
The bag was folded and stored in sack ~
That durable, practical flour sack!

The sack could be filled with feathers and down
For a pillow, or 'twould make a nice sleeping gown.
It could carry a book and be a school bag,
Or become a mail sack slung over a nag.
It made a very comfortable pack ,
That adaptable cotton flour sack!

Bleached and sewn, it was dutifully worn
As bibs, diapers or kerchief adorned.
It was made into skirts, blouses and slips.
And Mom braided rugs from one hundred strips.
She made ruffled curtains for the house or shack,
From that humbled, but treasured flour sack!

As a strainer for milk or apple juice,
To wave men in, it was a very clever use;
As a sling for a sprained wrist or a break,
To help mother roll up a jelly cake;
As a window shade or to stuff a crack,
We used a sturdy, common flour sack

As dish towels, embroidered or not,
They covered up dough, helped pass pans so hot,
Died up dishes for neighbours in need,
And for men out in the world to seed.
They dried dishes from pan, not rack,
That absorbent, handy flour sack!

We polished and cleaned stove and table,
Scoured and scrubbed from cellar to gable,'
We dusted the bureau and oak bed post,
Made costumes for October (a scary ghost)
And a parachute for a cat named Jack...
From that lowly, useful old flour sack!

So now my friends, when they ask you
As curious youngsters often do,
Before plastic wrap, Elmer's Glue
And paper towels...what did you do?”
Tell them loudly and with pride, don't lack,
Grandmother had that wonderful flour sack!”

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 31, 2014
To comment about this...email to:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

When God Created Mothers

Motherhood has the greatest potential influence in human life!

Being a mother is not about what you gave up to have a child,
but what you've gained from having one. (Sunny Gupta)

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of 'overtime' when the angel appeared and said, “You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.” And God said, “Have you read the 'specs' on this order?
She has to be completely washable, but not plastic.
She must have 180 movable parts ~ all replaceable.
Run on black coffee and leftovers.
Have a lap that disappears when she stands up.
A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair.
And six pairs of hands!”

The angel shook her head and said, “Six pairs of hands...no way!”
It's not the hands that carry the problems,” God remarked, “It's three pairs of eyes that mothers need.”
That's on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors, when she asks What are you kids doing in there? (when she already knows). Another pair here in the back of her head, that sees what she shouldn't, but she has to know...and of course, the ones here in front, that can look at a child when he goofs up, her eyes saying, I understand and I love you (without so much as uttering a word).”
God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently,
get some rest tomorrow.”
And God said, “I can't ~ I'm so close to creating something so similar to myself. Already, I have one who 'heals herself when she is sick'...'can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger'...and 'get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower'.” The angel circled the model of a mother, slowly. “It's too soft,” she sighed. “But tough!” replied God excitedly. “Imagine what this mother can do or endure!”

Can it think?” asked the angel. “Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator. Finally the angel bent over and ran her fingers across the cheek. “There's a leak,” pronounced the angel. “I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model.” The Lord replied, “It's not a leak ~ it's a tear!” “What's it for?” asked the angel. “It's for joy, sadness, disappointment, loneliness and pride.” The angel exclaimed, “You are a genius!”
Somberly, God replied, “I didn't put it there!”
(Written by Erma Bombeck)

Remember the 1958 American musical, GIGI and Maurice Chevalier's Thank Heaven for Little Girls?
Each time I see a little girl of five, or six or seven,
I can't resist a joyous urge to smile and say,
'Thank Heaven for little girls...
For little girls get bigger every day.
They grow up in the most delightful way!
Those little eyes...so helpless and appealing...
One day will flash and send you crashin' through the ceiling.
Thank Heaven for little girls ~ thank Heaven for them all!
For without them, what would little boys do?'

A miracle is really the only way to describe motherhood and giving birth.
It's unbelievable how God has made us women and babies to endure
and be able to do so much! A miracle indeed!
Such an incredible blessing!” (Jennie Finch)

My mother: She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a
I want to grow old and be like her!” (Jodi)

Elders' Respect of Women
The Elders say the men should look at women in a sacred way ~ they should never 'put them down' or shame women in any way. When we have problems, we should keep their counsel ~ we should share with them openly. 
 A woman has intuitive thoughts.
She has access to another system of knowledge that few men develop.
She can help us understand ~ we must treat her in a special way.

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...October 30, 2015
Your views I appreciate...email to