Friday, June 30, 2017

Canada's 150th Anniversary

1967: Still a Memorable Year! And Always Will Be!
The 1967 International and Universal Exposition (Expo 67) was a genenral exhibition, Category One World's Fair held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from April 27 to October 29, 1967. It is considered to be the most successful World's Fair in the 20th century...with attendance and 62 nations participating.
'Expo 67' was Canada's main celebration during its Centennial Year!

Location: Ile Sainte-Helene, a park in the center of the St. Lawrence River, linked to Montreal by the Jacques Cartier Bridge would be expanded by land reclamation techniques using silt and rock dredged from the bottom of the river. In addition, a new island, Ile Notre Dame, would be created adjoining the Ile Sainte-Helene and along the St. Lawrence Seaway. The cost of building the site rose from the original estimate of $10 million to $40 million (cost absorbed by the city of Montreal).

My husband and I (with a stroller for our little boy) attended this historical event ~ we were totally enthralled with the represented nations and their displays...with new technology for Canada's future...with the entertainment...and the scenically geographic setting along the St. Lawrence River.
December, 1967 was also my sister's wedding...a snowy day in Toronto.

The Burlington Post, a few weeks ago published a remarkable, several-sectioned issue
about Canada's 150th Anniversary.
The colour photos and accompanying transcripts 'tell it all' in detail.
For your reading interest, are excerpts from this publication.

A Confederation Celebration
Saturday, July 1 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Canada (or what would become Canada) had a population that exceeded 3 million with almost 80% living in present day Ontario and Quebec. While other cities were growing in size, the majority of soon-to-be-Canadian residents lived in rural areas of Upper and Lower Canada. Politicians such as John A. MacDonald, George Brown and George Etienne Cartier were trying to govern despite political deadlocks. When the Maritime Provinces began to discuss creating their own union, these politicians proposed the idea of a larger union of all of the British North American Colonies. In 1867 the Dominion of Canada was created.
Sir John A. MacDonald, truly a founding father,
instrumental in the politics of Upper and Lower Canada,
also brought British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories
into the Canadian Federation.

Celebrating Halton Region (an icon among Ontario's other regions): Did you know that this region is actually named after a person who was here 2 centuries ago when the municipality first took shape? William Halton remained a mystery for decades...until a local historian uncovered the 'story behind the man'. Although there are half a million people living in Halton, few people realize the origin of “Halton Region”. (Even the Halton family in England didn't know there was a place named after one of their ancestors.)

Halton Region Conservation Authority was formed in1963 and was the amalgamation of Sixteen Mile Creek and Twleve Mile Conservation Authorities. The name was changed to Conservation Halton in 2000...which now owns and manages 7 diverse parks within Halton Region.
Rattlesnake Point features 5 lookouts on the Niagara Escarpment...hiking trails...rock climbing cliffs.
Crawford Lake is a 232-hectare area featuring a 15th century reconstructed Iroquoian Village and heritage site, the lake surounded by a boardwalk trail...the Nassagaweya Canyon Interpretive Lookout and 19 km of hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails connecting to the Bruce Trail.
Hilton Falls is the region's largest conservation area with 16 km of trails. It pictures a 10-m waterfall and historic mill (near Campbellville and Hwy. 401).
Kelso Conservation Area is a year-round hub of activity: dip and/or fish at Kelso Lake...downhill ski or snowboard at Glen Eden; trails for mountain bikers...rental of kayaks, paddle boats and canoes.
Robert Edmondson Park is a secluded area of trails, wetlands and protected woods, plus fishing.
Mountsberg is a bird-watcher's paradise and wildlife enthusiast's dream; horse-drawn wagon rides, 16 km of trails, a bison herd, a sugar bush and birds of prey.
Mount Nemo's crown jewel is the unparalleled view of rolling countryside as well as Lake Ontario and Toronto's CN tower on a clear day. Surrounded in extensive forest cover, Mount Nemo offers one of the best 'cliff-edge' ecosystems in the province and a 5 km trail.
(Unknown to me: the Conservation Authority acquired properties
on the Burlington Beach Strip in 1977 to initiate the Lake Ontario Waterfront program.
Approval of master plans for Burloak, Burlington Beach and Bronte Harbour
waterfront parks was given in 1987.)

Paletta Mansion ~ A Beautiful Historic Lakefront Landmark along Lakeshore Road in Burlington features an 11,000 square-foot mansion. Ideally situated amidst 14 natural acres and formal gardens, the estate's mansion, along with its carefully crafted gatehouse, children's dollhouse and one of the last stables in urban Burlington are all offset by a stunning viewof Lake Ontario
In 1809, the British Crown, under King George III,
granted Lot 8 ~ Concession 4 South of Dundas Street to Laura Secord
who was later to distinguish herself as a heroine in the events of
The Battle of Lundy's Lane during the War of 1812.
Athough Laura Secord and her family did not settle in Nelson Township, they conveyed the lot to settler John Baupre in1810. Over the next 100 years, the property underwent a series of land transactions, passing through approximately 15 different families. In 1912, the property was purchased by William Delos Flatt and Cyrus Albert Birge who allowed the site to be used as a park by local residents for leisure pursuits such as swimming, boating and fishing...while the rest of the property continued in use as a tender fruit farm. Finally in 1930, Edythe Merriam MacKay, daughter of the renowned industrialist and founding director of the Canadian Steel Company, Cyrus Albert Birge built the mansion which was a consuming passion for Edythe MacKay.
Today, the estate is home to weddings, corporate and social events year round.

Burlington, Ontario offers several Points of Interest...many Historical!
Famous French explorer, Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle first landed where La Salle Park is today, in 1669. But it wasn't until the late 1700's when settlers arrived in the area...most prominently, Captain Joseph Brant (Chief of the Six Nations) who was granted a large land tract in recognition of fighting on the side of the British in the US War of Independence. However, the many natural advantages of the area first attracted...aboriginal people long before that.
(Burlington has a long history...into which you can delve at a later time.)

Throughout Halton Region, there are numerous specialized events honouring Canada's Celebrations.
With Pride, Raise your Canadian Maple Leaf flag!

Canada in the a World to Celebrate!

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 11, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tragic Falls in Hamilton's 'City of Waterfalls' ~ Part 2

Further to the foregoing in Part 1, Matthew Van Dongen continues
about Waterfall Safety.

“ The city-built stairs leading down toward the base of Albion Falls look inviting ~ which makes the city-posted warning signs all the more incongruous. Danger keep out, steep drop, screams a sign beside the concrete steps in red capital letters. Use at own risk, warns another. The biggest sign spells it out ~ further: The city does not maintain this stairway and does not recommend its use.
Yet, hundreds of visitors walk the stairs every sunny summer weekend
on the way to a series of unsigned and unofficial trails
leading down 18 metres to the base of one of the city's most popular waterfalls.
“The city officially urges visitors to enjoy Albion Falls from two designated viewing platforms and to stick to 'marked trails,' mostly those following the rim of the gorge,” said Parks Manager, Kara Bunn.

The 22-year-old man who was badly hurt last February after slipping on an icy patch and sliding into the gorge said, “In my opinion, the city put the stairs there...
they should either take care of it or get rid of it.”

Being the proud Canadian I am, living in the scenic environment
of the Niagara Escarpment, I address the foregoing issues:
Why, Again and Again, Do People Ignore the Risk of Disaster or Minor Crimes?
At a potential major earthquake warning, several people and families refused to leave ~ they simply boarded up their windows and doors, ignoring the warning, believing they could outlive the storm. Then, due to excessive water, more and more rain and violent strong winds, they needed to be rescued.

When the road is clear with an open lane ahead, dare-devils speed for the fun of it, regardless of posted speed limits, They risk not being caught and enthrall in the thrill of passing in-and-out of busy lanes.

When in need of something...and unwilling to pay...a person risks thievery...and when he/she succeeds, exclaims...”AH! Success!” and continues to do it again and again...simply for the thrill of it!

A Possible Solution (?)
The Horseshoe Falls at Niagara is the most powerful waterfall in North America!
A man, who recently went over these falls with only the clothing on his back and survived, will be charged with 'illegally performing a stunt,' Park police stated. Another man, Kirk Jones (40) of Canton, Michigan, is the first person to have plunged over the Horseshoe Falls without safety harness devices and lived. He could be charged $10,000! It is now a crime to the 'stunting without a licence' and the fine is currently at $10,000. However, this has not prevented people from trying.
An unsanctioned stunt at Niagara Falls can result in a fine up to $10,000.

You may ask about Nik Wallenda, an American acrobat, aerialist and dare-devil who was the first person to walk a tight-rope directly over the Horseshoe Falls on June 15, 2012. After a 2-year battle that involved both sides of the Canada-United States border to gain the approval, Wallenden crossed the Horseshoe Falls one foggy evening, battling the massive spray...on a live ABC Special, watched by millions around the world. For the walk, he was required to wear a safety harness for the first time in his life! Winds are very tricky in and around this section of the Niagara River's two waterfalls and the fast-flowing river rapids.
May I suggest to the “Powers-that-be” they consider a regulation
to more tightly control our waterfall dare-devils who consistently ignore
the danger signs to fulfill their personal ambition?
Dare-devils Revel in the Risk!
A fine should be levied should any risk their adventure without permission!
And place a Sign Warning with this message at all waterfall sites!

If you're gonna dine with the cannibals,
sooner or later, you're gonna get eaten!
(Nick Cass)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written June 15, 2017

ADDENDUM to the foregoing!

Daredevil Hangs by Teeth from Chopper over Falls...performed Thursday morning, June 15, 2017
A trapeze artist, carried by a helicopter, stunned people on both sides of the Canada-United States border...craning their necks to catch a glimpse of Erendira Vasquez Wallenda perform a series of movements on a hoop suspended from the chopper...including hanging from her knees and toes...and twice by her teeth. Wallenda (36) performed her feat five years after her stunt-man husband, Nik Wallenda, walked 550 metres on a tightrope from the American side of the falls to the Canadian side.

Tethered to a safety harness as legally required, Erendira said the wind above the falls was far more fierce than she had expected, prompting the pilot to nose the chopper a little higher. As someone who has performed since she was 5 years old, she said she was not nervous. “If a guy can do it, a girl can do it too,” she said. “We just do it with a little more grace.” Wallenda spent about 8 minutes of her 10 minute stunt hovering over the falls. “The falls, that have attracted and inspired daredevils for generations, has a certain mystical pull...there's something almost magical that draws you to it.”

From the Joy and Another Tragedy: On August 13, 2004, Kirk Jones, as mentioned above, stood at Terrapin Point on the American side of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls State Park, New York, prior to his plunge over the Horseshoe Falls without protection...and has now died (June 2, 2017), after he has gone over again. Police stated that the 53-year-old was found in the Niagara River by the US Coast Guard near Youngstown, New York, where the Niagara River feeds into Lake Ontario. It is thought he had plunged over the American a 3-metre ball.
Investigators believe Jones had attempted on April 19, 2007 to go over the falls
inside a 3-metre ball. (The empty ball was recovered by the Maid of the Mist Tour Boat.)

Resulting from his previous escapade in 2004, a Canadian court fined Jones $2,260 and banned him from the park for a year. After his court appearance, he said, “Depression had led me to climb down an embankment and float feet-first over the Horseshoe Falls, but all my problems were left at the bottom of the gorge.” He descibed the water like an ice-bath and “the pressure was so great, I thought it would rip the head from my body”
Terrapin Point (formerly Terrapin Rocks) is an observation area
at the north-western corner of Goat Island, next to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
It was off Terrapin Point that Nik Wallenda began his historic highwire walk
across Canada's Horseshoe Falls.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Tragic Falls in 'City of Waterfalls'

The City of Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada
is home to more than 100 waterfalls and cascades...most of which are on or near
The Bruce Trail as it winds through the Niagara Escarpment.
Ontario's internationally recognized Niagara Escarpment provides
perfect geological conditions for waterfalls to occur from Tobermory to Niagara Falls.

The most scenic waterfall in Hamilton is Webster's Falls. With its 30 metre (98 ft.) crest it is the largest waterfall within the city. Tew's Falls is a 41 metre (135 ft.) ribbon waterfall...and is the tallest waterfall found in the Hamilton region. Today, Hamilton is literally captioned as:
The City of Waterfalls”...or sometimes “Waterfall Capital of the World”

Last summer, (2016) bus excursions were available to the public and tourists to visit a number of these waterfalls. The most popular are Webster's Falls, The Devil's Punchbowl, Chedoke Falls, Albion Falls, Tiffany Falls and Tew's Falls. Already, the 2017 season has begun.

More Visitors ~ More Tragic Falls
A large colour photo shows a man peering over the edge of Albion Falls...a day after a visitor to the east mountain park died. Two others were rescued after falling down. Risky behaviour is highly discouraged by public officials Another photo shows a young woman who has climbed ledge by ledge and standing in the waters tumbling over the rocks. The following are possible solutions the city is considering: More signs warning visitors of steep drops...use stairways at your own councilor suggested multi-lingual signs and possibly hand-out pamphlets...$35 fines for illegal roadside parking...possibly more fencing...rescue fees.

Firefighters Save Woman at Albion Falls Rope Rescue
Emergency crews were called to their first 'rope rescue' of the spring on a Saturday afternoon...another woman fell at Albion Falls...falling about 3 to 4 metres just before 2 pm. Crews transported her out on a backboard and then transported her to hospital.
Rope Rescues spiked at Hamilton's waterfalls last year.
Emergency crews performed 25 'rope rescues' at city waterfalls in 2016
(the largest number in 7 years...and it appears this problem will appear again in 2017).”

Despite signs of Danger at all Hamilton's waterfalls, there are risk-takers who ignore the signage at these falls and of nearby trails...or create their own paths which land them in difficulties and need HELP! Will this year be a replica of what occurred last year such as: Man killed at Albion Falls while taking photograph. (he was a Toronto-based photographer)? 16th rope-rescue came from Tew's Falls, Saturday. (Officials are struggling to keep the escarpment pristine and safe for hikers.)
Rope Rescues conducted at Tew's Falls and Webster's Falls
are the most common...followed by The Devil's Punchbowl and Albion Falls.
Tree branch saves man who fell at Tew's Falls...Crews rescue woman who tumbled 25 metres at Tew's Falls...Man dead after falling over waterfall, Sunday, July 17, June, a 25-year-old man from Toronto. Ontario died falling into The Devil's Punchbowl...In February, 21-year-old Corey Dixon was with friends at the falls when he slipped on ice and fell 12 metres breaking his back and several bones. Shortly after the accident, Dixon urged city official to consider 'better fencing' around the falls.
(So, his statement implies there was fencing...and he ignored it!

Woman Who Died at Mount Nemo Was Hiking Unmarked Trail
(Although not in Hamilton, this occurred only a few weeks ago in North Burlington.)
A Toronto-area woman who died at Mount Nemo after plunging off a cliff had been hiking on an unmarked trail on private property. Administration Officer, Ken Phillips said, “It highlights the dangers of going off trails marked by Conservation Halton ~ which manages the Mount Nemo and other conservation areas such as Rattlesnake Point and Kelso. There's clear signage as you enter all our parks to always stay on a marked trail.” Mount Nemo is a 169 hectare park near Guelph Line. The 42-year-old North York woman was out hiking with some friends late Sunday afternoon in the park, long after closing time. This area is also Escarpment Country!


Tragic Falls ~ Risky Behaviour!
When reading media captions: Fire Forces Evacuation...Crash Forces Evacuation...Gun Violence in School Forces Evacuation...we become alarmed; however, a recent local caption is becoming habitual...and creates a severe problem. As suggested in The Spectator's recent article by Matt Vandongen, he states, re Signs about 'steep drops' (referring to Albion Falls and other waterfall sites) that perhaps 'shock signs' should be installed listing the number of falling deaths.

I comment that MORE SIGNAGE IS NOT THE SOLUTION! Like sending an unruly child to his room or to stand in the corner, time and time and time again, which does not produce the needed effect...thus, a different game-change to the rope-rescue dilemma, is additional signage will also be ignored! It is obvious that present danger signs have no impact whatsoever on risk-takers because they consider themselves to be invincible! Petty crimes such as road work signs, stop signs at intersections, speed limits, thefts, underwater currents, distracted driving devices, roads closed...any kind of risky behaviour presents ideal opportunity to challenge themselves...regardless of 'notices'. The photos posted in The Spec of the recent 3-person incident at Albion Falls (where 1 died and 2 injured requiring 'rope rescue' ) will not deter these risk-takers. Their concept is, “It'll never happen to me!” And the opportunity to challenge themselves and where success is absolutely foremost in their minds ~ they are totally unconcerned about the dangers at risk.

Re Proposed Fencing: One time when taking visitors to Tew's Falls in Greensville, although there was obvious danger signage and a spacious viewing platform, I noticed an adult male stepping over the fencing to stand at the precipice of the highest 'ribbon waterfall' in the region; at 41 metres high, it falls into the deep gorge of Dundas Valley. So, fencing is not much of a deterrent!

Re: Rescue Fees: I believe these are mandatory for those who determinedly bypass the signs attempting to climb-up or climb-down to rocky them it's an enticement risk! And no one will deter them! Yes, I believe that rescue personnel are needed for hikers who are lost...for injuries incurred, etc.
But, persons who ignore and willfully place themselves in danger, should PAY for the necessary rescues by our skilled firemen, our skilled police, for medical attention...and ambulance if needed.

Re Towing: A good move for those drivers who park in unsolicited areas, thus blocking emergency vehicles and personnel to aid a fallen victim. Said vehicles to be ticketed and possibly towed away and the driver must pay to redeem his vehicle. Parking fees on weekend visits do control vehicular traffic to a couple of these waterfall sites.

I do have a viable positive solution to this dilemma!
Kindly read the next posting of Tragic Falls in Hamilton's “City of Waterfalls” ~ Part 2

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fathers Who Care!

Every day is Father's Day...akin to Mother's Day!

If I had my child to raise over again,
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch and watc with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious...and seriously play.
I would run through some fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree and acorn more often.
I would be firm less often and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love power...and more about the Power of Love.
(Author Unknown)

A little boy in one of my grade classes, told me about his skate board that needed repair. He took it to his father, asking him to fix it. Realizing that Pops himself could easily do this for his son, seized the opportunity to instruct his son how to repair it...creating a bonding experience for both father and son!

The Cost of Kids Causes Consternation!
(Excerpts from a writing by Paul Benedetti, a frequent contributing author
and journalist to The Hamilton Spectator)
Recently we engaged some young men to wash the windows at our house. Now, you might reasonably ask, “Why don't you wash your own windows?”Actually, I have occasionally, I mean at least once in the last 4 or perhaps it's eight years. When my wife exhorts me to clean them, I counter with, “Isn't that what rain is for?” This is the same theory that many young men employ for never cleaning the shower. “It's filled with water and soap all day. It must be clean,” they say, and we all know how that turns out! Actually, I don't mind cleaning windows at ground level, but I'm not so good at high windows. Being up high is fine. It's the falling down I mind. Hence, the reason we brought in the young men from a company we'll call University Amateur Window Cleaning. My wife overheard them chatting about having children. One of the guys ~ they were all about 18 or 19 ~ said he had read that raising kids was expensive“They cost about $250,000 each! And that's before the post-secondary education,” he told his incredulous pals.

I'm sure most kids don't give a thought to how much money they cost, until they start, you know, working for money. Then you can see the little wheels turning in their teenage heads. “At $12 an hour, I'd have to work...TEN YEARS straight to pay for myself!!!” My wife went out to talk with them. “Having children isn't a financial decision. We had three kids without worrying about that,” she said cheerily. Having kids is a big life choice, but it's not the, money,” she said...and started singing...”Ain't about the uh cha-ching cha-ching, aint' about the yeah, b-bling,b-bling.” At about this point, a couple boys dropped their squeegees, so I quickly guided her back into the house.

Thinking about their conversation, I some time every parent lies in bed worrying about decades of work...their RRSP's (too low)...their debt (too high) and wonders, “Man, where DID all that money go?” I can tell you where it ballet and piano lessons and painting karate and childcare and hair care...and during the teenage years: FOOD! If I had just what we spent on milk and Cheerios, I'd be red-hot on the beach in Jamaica instead of being in my backyard eating Red Hots.
People often ask me,”What's the best thing about parenting?” “Conception,” I say!
If you decide to be a parent, and God or life or fate favours you with children, then you are lucky indeed! And if you have enough money for food and a home and your kids are loved and safe, then that's what really matters. When I was young, someone told me that being a good father was the most important thing I would ever do in my life. At the time, I didn't really believe them. But I do now!
And there's no price tag on that!

For Gloria, the Fatherless Girl We Left Behind
(Excerpts from Thomas Froese's article about fatherhood, travel and life)
She's the Ugandan girl who we left behind in a part of the world where, this weekend, there is no Father's Day. And even if there was, this girl, our friend has no father to honour on it. So while it's only suitable that so many fathers and children be given one day a year to consider how inadequate we all are with this business of honouring each other, this is about a fatherless girl on just another fatherless day. Her name is Gloria. My family met her one typical African day after clothes mysteriously began vanishing from our backyard clothesline: my wife's shirts, my girl's swimsuits, my boy's underwear...gone! One day we met when more clothing was disappearing...she ran and ran until I caught her. Soon after, we visited her house, really a shack..our.clothes like rags piled in a corner. After that, Gloria gave is a hand-written apology. And the friendship began...especially with my older daughter, Liz. Gloria visited our Ugandan home more often than with her friends. Just before our return to Canada, we ensured sponsorship for her school costs so she has at least half a chance in a world that's so unkind to the fatherless.

Fatherless children, especially girls, struggle with sexuality and body image. Later, they also fall easier into poor relational choices and divorce, fuelling the cycle for their own children. It's all heartache. This is what the social science tells us...unless the pattern is broken.

Gloria's new school is a boarding school. That's common for African children. Even with bare living standards, children can stay focused on their studies. Boarding also gives Gloria at least a measure of safety. We don't know what happened to her father...he may be dead...or he may just be dead to the ways of hope and encouragement that children need. When daily reality doesn't meet the false expectation, like Gloria, they run and run. We especially steered her to some community supports in Uganda when discovering she'd been hiding from some young criminals. Some nights she'd hide in public washrooms. There she is, like some vagabond, lost and homeless and fearful, not unlike anyone outside of Eden, I suppose. Even as I picture Gloria as a girl of honour, the high honour given to any human because of our mere humaneness, created in God's image.
How do the Glorias of the world ...there are so many...give much honour
on any given fatherless day?
What I do know is that to give honour, often enough, is to forgive. Even fathers who don't deserve forgiveness. Especially undeserving fathers. There's an unavoidable difficulty in this.
And beauty. And peace. And freedom.

Merle Baird-Kerr...compiled June 17, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fathers' Significance

Sigmund Freud stated, “I cannot think of any need in childhood
as strong as the need for a father's protection.”

My father taught me that the only way you can make good at anything
is to practise...and then practise some more!” (Peter Rose)

Mark Hoppus commented, “Mom's dad was in the army...
stormed the beaches at Normandy...fought through French hedgerows...
the Battle of the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge...
and liberated concentration camps at the end of the war.”

My Father Loves Me!
Personally written by an American WWII Veteran
who at age 94, passed away last October.

After finishing my Basic Training at Indiantown Gap, PA, and having settled into my new Quarters with the 301st Port Co., an event took place that at the time was very uplifting for my morale. My father who had gone to work on the West Coast for Kaiser Corp. constructing Liberty Ships for the Merchant Mariners, dropped in for a visit when his train stopped in Harrisburg, PA. He left after having lunch in our mess hall but regretted being unable to stay for dinner because he was anxious to be on his way home to my Mother and 4 children.

Many years later, waking from a Dream, I walked into my kitchen at four A.M., sat down in my underwear at the kitchen table and composed...”My Father Loves Me!”

On Feb. 14Th, 1995, I had insight that was quite remarkable to me...that after 52 years, I realized that My Father Loved Me...Very Much! It was the afternoon of October 1943...I was in the Army, stationed in Indiantown Gap, PA...An Orderly came to tell me that my Father was on the Base and the Orderly had ben instructed to bring me to Battalion Headquarters in his Jeep, because civilians had to be detained for security reasons until a uniformed escort could be provided to accompany and permit civilians on the base. It was explained to me that the visitor was in the company of Master Sergeant Charles Hart awaiting my arrival at the Sergeant's office.

During the ride, I had the most agonizing thoughts, trying to understand the reason for this unexpected and unusual circumstance of allowing personal visitors who were only permitted on weekends for the enlisted men...but the ride was short and when we arrived, we were told that the First Sergeant had taken my Father to the Mess Hall; from where I stood, I could see the enlisted men's Chow Line 200 feet away...and outstanding was the dark blue outfit among the olive drab in the line, restlessly waiting. The brown fedora and the blue figure's posture identified this person as my Pop...and as I ran toward him...he turned to see where the shouting was coming from and saw me running...he left the line and came in my direction. When we met, there was a very awkward moment of no embrace, no hugging or kissing...just some back slapping and hand shaking. And I remember that wonderful smile on his face announcing to me that he was not a bearer of bad news.

The thing of it is, that for 50 years until tonight, I didn't make any sense out of the look in his eyes. They saw me with sparkling admiration and good humor, tearful pride and concern, a careful appraisal from head to toe and with what I understand Much Love: The kind of Love I hope my children can see and apprise, when they notice me looking at them. Now, the kind of look I had seen in my Mother's eyes many times, knowing what that admiration was all about but strangely, I never equated that thought with my Dad. Evidently, we do get Wise as we Age.

I still have the hand-scripted page from 1995.
I share this with you now, because I was 21 years of age then without the awareness of all that was going on around me....occupied with my own trials and tribulations. I knew innately that my father loved me, but the weird dream gave me the intellectual wisdom of his feeling toward me.
Love your families and don't expect anything in return for your love.
One day, it will all come back to you in triplicate.”
(The foregoing was sent to me Thursday, June 7, 2012)

Recognized as a Normandy D. Day Vet,
he was on a supply ship from England at H Hour on Normandy & Utah Beach.
He developed a niche for writing about several wartime experiences which were posted online and deservedly earned him the title of Oldest Military Blogger.
A Father's Regret 
In“The Nightingale” the author writes a heart-rendering novel set in France, 1939 which revolves around a family who struggles to combat the throes of WWII.
As a Father and Grandfather, who near the war's end, and is dying,
he writes a letter to his 2 daughters (Vianne and Isabel) with personal regrets.

What I do now, I do without misgivings. My regret is not for my death, but for my life. I am sorry I was no father to you. I could make excuses ~ I was ruined by the war...I drank too much...I couldn't go on without your maman...but none of that matters.
Isabel: I remember the first time you ran away to be with me. You made it all the way to Paris on your own. Everything about you said, “Love me!” which I ignored. When I saw you on that train platform needing me, I turned away. How could I not see that you and Vianne were a gift...had I only reached out! Forgive me, my daughters, for all of it...and I know that as I say 'good-bye' I loved you both with all my damaged heart.
Isabel closed her eyes and lay back into the pillows.
All her life she'd waited for those words ~ his love ~ and now all she felt was loss.
They hadn't loved each other enough in the time they had,
and then time ran out.
He continued, “Hold Sophie and Antoine and your new baby close, Vianne.
Love is such a slippery thing.

This novel is a 'page-turner' telling of persecutions, capture of Jews, severing apart families, food lines with little or no available foods...and dreadful war atrocities. It is a 'must novel' to read!

The Art of the Deal
An elderly couple return to a Mercedes dealership where the salesman has just sold the car in which they were interested, to a beautiful, leggy busty blonde. “I thought you said you would hold that car till we raised $75,000 asking price,” said the man. “Yet, I just heard you closed the deal for $65,000 to that lovely young lady there. You insisted there could be no discount on this model.”

Well, what can I tell you? She had the ready cash and, just look at her...
how could I resist?” replied the grinning salesman.

Just then, the young woman approached the aged couple and gave them the keys. “There you go,” she said. “I told you I would get the dope to reduce it. See you later, Grandpa!”
(The philosophy here? Don't mess with the elderly!)

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 2, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Questions and Answers

Recently I posted “English Language in Usage Today”
and within it, is a section...'An Eighth Grade Education.'
Perhaps you readers are smarter than me...
but I confess “I'd Never Pass on that Exam!”

Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated
 and the answers are simple.”

Oft, when a person reads a question, he fails to answer it; opting to lengthily respond with extraneous material indirectly associated with the question...and then wonder, 'Why the low mark?'
Advice from Rumi: “ Look for the answer inside your question.”

(In response to Dr. Seusse' statement above...
it is not the question that is difficult: it's the ANSWER!)

Teaching Math Over 50 Years
(with thanks to my son for the following data)

In the 1950's: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $50. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price or $80. What is his profit?
In the 1970's: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price of $80. What is his profit?
In the 1980's: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Yes or No.
In the 1990's: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. 
 Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
In the 2000's: A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this to make a big profit. What do you think of this way of making a living?
Topic for class participation answering the question:
How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes?”
(There are no wrong answers. Feel free to express your feelings...
e.g. anger, anxiety, inadequacy, helplessness, etc.)
Should you require debriefing at conclusion of exam,
 there are counsellors available to assist you to adjust back into the real world.

Failed Exam ~ Student Who Obtained 0% on an Exam
In which battle did Napoleon die? His last battle.
Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom of the page.
River Ravi flows through which state? Liquid.
What is the main reason for divorce? Marriage.
What is the main reason for failure? Exams.
What can you never eat for breakfast? Lunch and dinner.
What looks like half an apple? The other half.
If you throw a red stone into the blue sea, what will it become? Wet.
How can a man go eight days without sleeping? No problem...he sleeps at night.
How can you lift an elephant with one hand? You will never find an elephant with one hand.
If you had 3 apples and 4 oranges in one hand and 4 apples and 3 oranges in the other hand, what would you have? Very large hands.
If it took 8 men 10 hours to build a wall, how long would it take 4 men to build it? No time at all...the wall is already built.
How can u drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it? Any way you want...concrete floors are very hard to crack.
(Oh...the ambiguity of questions! One should think before he speaks!)

An Amazing 2-Letter Word!
(from Sherrie, one of my ardent readers)
A reminder that one word in the English language (as part of speech)
that can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb and preposition.
This 2-letter word in English has more meanings than any other 2-letter word...and that word is UP.
It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of a list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?
Why do we speak UP...and why are the officers UP for election...and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

At other times, this little word has special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite and think UP excuses. To be dressed UP is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning, but we close it UP at night. We seem pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 page and can add UP to about 30 definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun come out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, the earth soaks it UP. When it does not rain for a while, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP for time is UP. Oh, one more thing:
What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
U P! Did that one crack you UP?

Don't screw UP. Send this to everyone you look UP in your address book...or not...
It's UP to you. Now I'll shut UP!

One of the Big Questions in the Climate Change Debate...
Are Humans any smarter than frogs in a pot?
If you put a frog in a pot...and slowly turn up the heat, it won't jump out. 
 Instead, it will enjoy the nice warm bath until it is cooked to death. 
We Humans seem to be doing pretty much the same thing.”(Jeff Goodell)

Compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...June 5, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hibiscus Hiatus

Human language is lit with animal life:
We play 'cats in the cradle'...or have hare-brained ideas...
we speak of badgering...or outfoxing someone...
to squirreling something away...and to ferrit it out.
(Jay Griffiths)

In October a few years ago, I moved to a Seniors' residence in Burlington. Many items I parted with, but not my Hibiscus with delicate pink blooms, the other with double red petals and golden stamens. Experience from their previous homes, I knew to winter them inside when exterior and interior temperatures were approximately the same. They loved sunshine with a mixture of shade...however, winter was their 'dormant' period. When mid-May, arrived, I moved them outside on my third-floor balcony.

By mid-July, they seemed to suffer setbacks with loss of leaves and minimal buds. Checking for insects? None. In early fall, I transitioned them indoors over the winter; they somewhat recovered and the following spring, new growth brought them to life...and buds developed into full blooms. AMEN!

Enjoying the summer on my balcony with morning coffee and bagels, and reading the daily Spectator...often sharing lunch with a friend or hibiscus plants and hanging baskets of flowers thrived in the summer breeze and and afternoon sun.
Then one day a couple 'visitors' arrived:
two cute little characters sat nervously together looking at me
with startled eyes and big bushy tails.
Two gray and one black. How did they get to the third floor? With tiny claws and balancing fluffy tails, they clambered up the brick wall...and sneaked under the balcony's plexi-glass panels. Their quest, I'm sure was for food...or a place 'to nest' (possibly in a couple empty flower pots containing some soil in their depths.) I was amused whenever Gray and Blackie came to 'visit'.
By the end of the summer, my hibiscus plants
were nearly stripped of leaves and ceased blooming!
Nervous, they'd become, whenever I entered my balcony...they were a study 'in contemplation' sitting like little statues, (as though they had guilty consciences) ~ until I shooed them away and they'd scramble down the wall and dash to the nearby trees. My hibiscus, both of them, died a slow death!
I agree with Sarah Jessica Parker who stated,
A squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit.”

The following summer, to outwit Gray and Blackie, I resorted to hanging baskets, only, with colourful artificial flowers! However, this did nothing to deter my mischievious squirrels! They simply climbed the wall to reach the leaves and flowers for a good chew. Persistent they were and pesty...hoping they'd not be caught. Over the winter, I heavily bagged these flowers, placing the package against the wall below my table. They were not undaunted! You guessed it! They chewed through the heavy plastic..and bit holes in the long heavy planter box to reach for their tasty bites.
The next summer, I totally abandoned any consideration of flowers!

Never Give Up!
Blackie and Gray, unable to find 'food' on my balcony
had another solution from their little brains!
Sitting at my computer in the corner of the Living Room..and glancing behind me...“Guess Who” was boldly sitting on my large Indian carpet? Blackie, extremely nervous about his 'Break and Enter'.
Opening the balcony door, I tried to shoo him out; instead he retreated to my bedroom to hide; batting him with a towel, he ran into my closet. Then I opened my front door to the hallway...hoping he'd quickly dash either route. He high-tailed it to the Living Room and I towel-chased him to the balcony. In desperation, Blackie escaped under the plexi-glass panel...soaring through the air to the parking tarmac below ~ then dashed to the nearby trees along the bike path.
The mystery did he get into my apartment?
Discussing with the 'Super' and a few neighbours, someone suggested he may have come through a window. Sure enough! The bedroom window was open, so Blackie chewed a hole about 3 to 4 inches wide in the screen! And Voila...his 'Break and Enter crime!

A Trick That Worked
Later that summer, again at my computer, playing Bridge Online, I heard something on the window ledge beside me...between the sheer drape and the open screened window...then noticed an irregular shaped hole in the screen Yep! There was Gray! With both my hands, flat against the drape where she was sitting, I pushed her towards the hole...and through it. Scrambling to my balcony, I tried to shoo her away. Scared to death, she made the great leap from the third floor to the ground below. The nearby trees were her escape route!

The following year, only once did I have a visiting squirrel on my balcony...(was it Gray?) Noticing Mourning Doves had chosen to nest on one of my black wrought-iron chairs, I believe my gray squirrel decided to explore elsewhere!
My screens were replaced
and my balcony, for a few years, was devoid of plants and flowers.
Kindly note, Readers: I never offered 'food' to these pesty little creatures.

A “Bear for Punishment”???
End of last August, 2016, I purchased from Holland Park Garden Gallery a Hibiscus Patio Bush...the price was right as it had no buds ready to open ~ colour of blooms was unknown. This big leafy plant produced 75 magnificent coral-red blooms from its sunny balcony home.
For its following 'dormant sleep' I brought it inside in early November.

I've noticed squirrels are beginning to gather nuts for the winter.
A couple of my friends are missing!
Are you in a 'safe place'?
(Anonymously written, the photo shows a squirrel
searching for nuts through fallen leaves on the ground)

Composed by Merle Baird-Kerr...May 25, 2017

Addendum: Today, June 6/17, Blackie returned! Sitting on a wrought-iron chair adjacent to my hibiscus bush, he's chewing leaves from my precious bush! I notice, also there is considerable amount of dark soil on the balcony floor ~ he's obviously been in the hanging basket of pink geraniums!
He's either hungry...or 'nest-hunting'.