Not My Usual Halloween Column

So much has been written about the terrors of last week, but I could not let it go by without throwing in my two cents worth. This is my weekly column:

By all rights this is supposed to be my Halloween column, but with the events of last week it seems kind of superficial to complain about the eve of All Saints’ Day. Instead I am going to devote a little space to the following quote, which if true, is heartening. The founder of Craigs List, Craig Newmark said this:

“What surprises me, in a way, is how almost universally people are trustworthy
and good. There are problems, and sometimes people bicker, which is a pain
in the ass, but people are good. No matter what your religious background,
we share pretty much the same values. There are some minor differences
that we disagree on, but the differences are at the 5 percent level. That’s
pretty good.”

The differences, he says, are at the 5 per cent level. If so, why do our differences sometimes seem at the 90% level? So much has been written about the loss of two of our most brave, killed because of the proud uniforms they wore. Some have tried to put it in perspective, giving us facts and figures about the number of people who die in a day, and what they die from—but this is not the time to put death into perspective. I think that one life, and in this case two lives, are more than worthy of our united mourning. And what happened tragically to those men and others who were hurt and wounded is worth our time. No death should be a statistic.

We have come together as one people. In no way should we thank the terrorists for bringing us together but if they have done nothing else, they have proven that “they” cannot make us afraid; “they” cannot make us cower; nor can “they” take away our trust. We did pause though to recognize that there is evil in the world. There is no other explanation for some of the things that happen. But we must believe that there is much more good in the world than evil.

I sat in my red chair in the corner of my living room on Wednesday transfixed by the horror of the day. I saw the madman and his gun; I saw brave people trying to revive the soldier he shot in the back with no care about their own safety; I saw the mayhem in the halls of Parliament; I saw the Sergeant at Arms walking down the hallway, carrying the gun that killed the madman; I heard the stories of the people sequestered in lockdown (in fact two of my nieces were in lockdown—one at the Courthouse, one at City Hall) and I could not leave these people. Somehow I felt if I watched I could come to some understanding. That did not happen.

There is no understanding evil.

But if we believe Craig Newmark when he says that “almost universally people are trustworthy and good”, then the madman did not do his job last Wednesday. Nor did the madman of Monday’s premeditated hit and run. These two evil-doers did not take away our faith in people. They did not cancel our belief in goodness. And if you have any doubt of this—remember the unarmed guard in the Parliament building trying to stop the gunmen, putting his own life at risk for others; remember the hugs in the House of Commons; remember the trip down 401 to Hamilton with people lining the road to honour the fallen Corporal, fondly referred to as “Canada’s son”; remember how very seriously we are all affected by this. There have been so many ways that people have expressed their sorrow and honoured the fine men whose lives were taken. They are not a statistic. And we are not treating them as such.

In the 18th century, Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke said it best: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Of course I would make the quote more inclusive by adding women—and if you looked closely at the people who were tending to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo you will see there were men and women. Doing everything they could to save this man’s life and comforting him with the most important knowledge of all—that he was loved. And love is what ultimately conquers evil.

(Thanks again to David for the inspiration)

Published in: on October 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm  Comments (5)  

In The Shadows

End of October
Too near as November waits
Impatiently calm

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 1:14 pm  Comments (9)  

changes

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

I will miss them too!

Originally posted on the eclectic faerie:

autumn leaves

I never tire of seeing the leaves turn from green to red.  I’ll miss them when they’ve all fallen.

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Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

O Canada!

True patriot love
Gunned down by a mad madman
Glowing hearts remain.

Published in: on October 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm  Comments (11)  

The Last Hurrah

I give you this week’s column with many thanks to David for the poem I use at the end:

Do you do this at your house? I try to not officially turn the heat on until I absolutely have to. I dress in layers. I keep the oven door open after baking or roasting something until the heat finally dissipates into the air, warming the house up momentarily. I turn on all the lights in the living room because light bulbs generate some heat. But when it gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or around 8 or 9 centigrade, I throw in the towel. It is then time to turn on the heat. Officially. There is no getting around it.

I guess turning the heat on means that the cold season is upon us. There is a bit of defeat in the process. You have given up—you know that warm fall weather is now hit or miss, and though there are times you do not need artificial warming up, those days are numbered. I now understand those of you, who unlike me, do not like fall because of what it foreshadows. For a while we can live in denial—layering on sweaters and pulling the sleeves over our hands, but it is inevitable—we are going to have to don hats and coats and gloves.

Last Saturday morning, I acquiesced and put on my ski jacket, gloves, and head warmer for my daily walk. My walking partner and I made it to the last day of the outside Farmers’ Market. The vendors were bundled up and offered a small pamphlet to all who bought their wares telling us that they would be in the Lion’s Hall next week, out of the cold and into the warmth. Teeth chattering we accepted the news with relief.

With Thanksgiving over, and Halloween almost upon us—we know that the beautiful autumn leaves will soon become another task to check off our to-do lists. They may flutter oh-so-gracefully to the ground, but as with most good things, the good times come to an end. Already I hear lawn mowers mulching, leaf blowers blowing, and the scrunch, scrunch, scrunch of rakes gathering the leaves into piles.

The day after Thanksgiving, I decorated my house for Halloween. This entailed turning around one of my ceramic pumpkins (his painted on face was against the wall) to no longer hide his toothy Halloween grin. I found a Halloween candle and placed it in its customary location, and voila, my decorating was done. You should know that I decorate my house quite festively for fall, so these little touches were added to my numerous pumpkins and other fall décor. While I am a fanatic for fall, I am not as fond of Halloween.

If truth be told, I would bypass Halloween altogether if it were not for those little bite sized chocolate bars, and the cute little gremlins, princes and princesses who come to my door on what I call the dark night of the soul, and most other people refer to as fun. I have purchased my candy for Hallows Eve already, and so far have only eaten two tiny bars. There are still a few days left for the other 88 to survive. I generally cannot see into the future, but I am pretty sure I will be making another trip out for some more treats.

Mid-October is a magical time for me. The changing of the seasons. The crisp air. The aura of Halloween. I cannot quite put my finger on it—but it seems to carry an air of mystery, intrigue, and foretelling of a future as yet unknown.
“If I Were a Bird…” by George Eliot sums up what autumn means to me:

Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love –
that makes life and nature harmonise.
The birds are consulting about their migrations;
the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay,
and begin to strew the ground,
that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air,
while they give us a scent that is
a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

Published in: on October 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm  Comments (31)  

If I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

I feel like this…..exactly

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

bird-leaves-autumn

Is not this a true autumn day?
Just the still melancholy that I love –
that makes life and nature harmonise.
The birds are consulting about their migrations,
the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay,
and begin to strew the ground,
that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air,
while they give us a scent that is
a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

— George Eliot, [Letter to Miss Eliot, Oct. 1, 1841]


Credits: Wild Bird in Autumn Leave by myu-myu. Poem Source: Stepsonmysunlightfloor

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Published in: on October 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm  Comments (4)  

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week

on thehomefrontandbeyond:

yep–pretty well sums up my week

Originally posted on Live & Learn:

funny-penguin-gif


And don’t miss a full series of terrific penguin gifs here: observation deck

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Published in: on October 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm  Comments (22)  

Do Not Spite Your Face

A little background: our muncipal election is coming up on the 27th and 23 people are running for 5 positions, plus the mayor and deputy-mayor seats are facing challenges. People are very upset about internet and phone voting, and there is a petition with over 2000 names on it trying to convince council in our small town of Kingsville to have a paper ballot vote–which at this stage is impossible. Some people are threatening not to vote–so this column is in answer to that–tell me what you think about the subject. Personally I think it is a tempest in a teapot as the town is providing sites where people can get help if they are not sure how to go about it.

Controversy: public dispute or debate. There is a bit of a brouhaha brewing in our fair town and I must say it does make life a little bit more interesting. A petition signed by hundreds of residents riled by the way we are expected to vote in the upcoming election is being brought to the attention of Kingsville Council and Administration. People are not happy. And I understand. If I did not have a resident IT guy (my youngest son) on the premises I might be unhappy too, but I am sure that he will help walk me through the process of voting.

I am, however, not too happy to hear that some people are threatening not to vote because they do not like the idea of internet and phone voting. Of all elections, voting in your local municipal election is important—these are the people who will be making decisions for you—and if you do not cast your ballot, are you going to get the representatives you want?
That old chestnut, “cutting your nose off to spite your face” comes to mind, because really if you do not vote, who is it going to hurt? You. And why? Because you are not taking the opportunity to get your voice heard. It is so rare these days that we are afforded a platform to be heard that we should probably not miss out when the occasion arises.

I must say that the choices we have in this municipality are mind-boggling. We have a lot of choice and a lot to consider. I must give kudos to my colleague, Steve I’Anson for providing a run-down of each candidate in last week’s paper—you heard from them in their own voice, and their responses should help you make a decision as to who you are going to vote for. I cannot stress enough though that despite your unrest and uncertainty and perhaps even anger, that you should cast your votes.

On the face of it, I do not think that voting online is really going to be all that bad—and by the end of the week I will be able to find out first hand. I think I will vote early (but not often as Al Capone advised) to put myself out of my misery. I have been considering who to vote for to sit on council for weeks and will be glad to have the decision made and my mind quieted. (Admittedly I have a vested interest as I have to listen to these guys and gals on a weekly basis at sometimes very long council meetings.)

A Little Bit of Silliness
Erma Bombeck, in her reliably wry way once said, “Like religion, politics, and family planning, cereal is not a topic to be brought up in public. It’s too controversial.” I understand her stance on cereal—but I am still convinced that the only way I made it through grade 13 when I was in high school was the sugar high I got from eating Captain Crunch. I also got in trouble for eating my dad’s Raisin Bran, because I would pour out a big bowl, then return a majority of flakes to the box and keep the raisins in my bowl. Dad never raised his voice to me (except when he was teaching me to drive, but I think fear had a lot to do with it) but I do remember he was none too happy with me when his share of the cereal was mostly devoid of raisins.

Back to the Topic at Hand
We are not talking cereal here though, we are talking politics. And I do disagree with Erma regarding talking about politics in public. It is necessary, but it is also necessary to treat other people’s views with respect. I respect those of you upset by internet and phone voting but I urge you to put that aside and help pick the next seven people who are going to decide where our hard earned taxes will go. I believe fervently in the democratic process and have never missed an occasion to vote (at least in memory, which at this point is a bit faulty).

Prolific storyteller, Louis L’Amour said it best: “To make democracy work, we must be… participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”

Do you agree with Louis?

Published in: on October 16, 2014 at 5:18 pm  Comments (17)  

Outside my Window

Yellow autumn leaf

Caught in invisible web

Dances in the soft wind.

My youngest son read this and said to me, “What are you in grade 5?”

Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm  Comments (21)  

Happy Thanksgiving

I have probably written about sixteen columns for Thanksgiving over the last sixteen years and after a while you just get real with the titles–Happy Thanksgiving may not be an original title–but is says it all. This is my weekly column for Thanksgiving 2014:

Esoteric though it may be, I love the Encarta Dictionary’s definition of Thanksgiving: “A Public acknowledgement of divine goodness.” It is important to note that it is not the first definition given in the dictionary, but it is so much more satisfying than the other two, which are serviceable but more mundane. The first is short and to the point: “a prayer that offers thanks to God.” The second is more secular and self-explanatory: “an expression or an act of giving thanks.”

I really like the third definition. Thanksgiving, the holiday, is a public acknowledgement, but adding “divine goodness” puts it on a higher plane. I love the whole idea of Thanksgiving—the excellent and abundant food, the gathering of friends and family, the gratefulness for the harvest. Chef Marcus Samuelsson agrees with me, or I with him—whatever the case may be.

He says:
“I love Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday that is centred around
food and family, two things that are of utmost importance to me.”

Though I am not a chef, food and family, with the addition of friends are of utmost importance to me too. Though I have professed in this column many a time my lack of love for preparing turkey, I have found a foolproof method of not having to handle the beast too much at the suggestion of a friend who I think was tired of my eternal complaints about handling and stuffing a big bird. At her recommendation I now buy a stuffed and butter basted bird from the freezer section of the local grocery store. You do not even have to thaw the little devil and there is very little work to it before it can be thrown in the oven. Sure, a frozen bird takes more time to cook, but that is little to ask in the stress it relieves. I would like to be the type of person who buys a fresh turkey or thaws out a frozen one, but I know my limits and work with them.

I must confess that I did try to get out of even cooking the frozen stuffed turkey this year and asked my family if they would be satisfied with a nice roast. My youngest, Tyler responded by saying, “Mom, you always try that. It is turkey day. When was the last time we had turkey—last Thanksgiving? It is tradition—we have to have turkey.” So, I went out and got my turkey, and it is nestled in the freezer among the frozen veggies and ground beef—just waiting for the grand day.

My Favourite “Gratitude” Quote

Authentic is a word that is bandied about a lot lately, but I think that Thanksgiving is an authentic holiday. It asks very little of us other than to enjoy and give thanks for good food. At its core, authenticity is genuine and real, and what could be more real than thankfulness in the guise of gratefulness.

This is one of my favourite quotes and it is by author Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough,
and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to
clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger
into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

What are you thankful for?

I put this question on my Facebook page and of the responses I received no one said that they were thankful for turkey or the harvest or their Lamborghini. Almost everyone expressed the importance of friendship and health. One I felt particularly meaningful while still being funny was a woman who declared that her “drugs” (prescription may I add quickly here) were her saviours, and made every day worth living. Another had just survived a tricky eye surgery and even though she was in pain, she was glad that it was over and she was recovering. Several others expressed that our friendship was dear to them which of course brought a tear to my eye and warmed the cockles of my heart (though I have yet to discover exactly where the cockles are.)

So what am I thankful for? In a nutshell: my family, friends, food, and good health. If Thanksgiving is “a public acknowledge of divine goodness” then it is the people in my life who help bring that goodness to the fore.

Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 9:44 am  Comments (18)  
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