Happy 150 Canada!



Canada is the new kid on the block so to speak, but we have charm, manners, and taken up the challenge of celebrating our 150th Birthday with gusto. And quite a few books. One such celebration of Canada in print is “Now You Know Canada: 150 Years of Fascinating Facts” by Doug Lennox. Unfortunately, Doug has passed away and does not get to celebrate Canada’s 150th with us on in this cosmos, but I am sure he will be waving a flag in whatever corner of the ether he happens to inhabit.

First of all, I want to wish all of you a Happy Canada Day and a Happy 150th birthday. In order for you to be just a little more cognisant of this great nation of ours, I am going to share a few facts I found fascinating via all the hard work Mr. Lennox went to in completing his book. I warn you that I did not find all of his facts fascinating—especially since he spent over half of the book talking about sports—from hockey (of course) to basketball (which a Canadian invented) to curling and the Olympics. I am sure that many of you find sports fascinating (as in captivating, interesting, absorbing and enthralling), so, for those of you sports aficionados out there, I share these bits and pieces randomly chosen for your reading pleasure:

“Lacrosse is Canada’s official national sport of summer, while Canada’s official national sport of winter is ice hockey.”

The first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold in skating as well as having a doll created in her image was Barbara Ann Scott.

Hockey player extraordinaire, Jean Beliveau was offered the post of governor general (which he declined). According to Lennox, he was “one of the greatest hockey players ever to lace on a pair of skates.” Okay, I have completed the required sports portion of this programming. For more read pages 82-191.

A few other fascinating facts you can recite at any barbeques or parties you may attend this coming weekend:

The official motto of Canada is “A Mari usque ad Mare”. For those of you who did not take Latin the phrase means “From Sea to Sea”, taken from Psalm 72:8 – “And he (the King) shall have dominion also from sea to sea…”

Red and White are the colours of Canada not because they gently depict a nation that loves Christmas, but because King George V wanted to honour “the gallant sacrifice made by his Canadian subjects” in the First World War. Red represents the blood they shed, and white represents the bandages associated with their wounds.

The beaver is not our only national animal. So is the Canadian horse. As of 2002 in recognition of the “agricultural traditions and historical origins of the province of Quebec.”

The maple leaf was chosen as “Canada’s national badge” due to a little tour of Canada by the Prince of Wales (who later became King Edward Vll). Apparently “native born Canadians voiced their desire for a badge to wear when welcoming the Prince” and since the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the Welsh leek, Irish shamrock and French lily were already taken, “the maple leaf was adopted.”

The motto of the RCMP is unfortunately not “We always get our man”. (Poor Dudley Do-Right!) It is “Maintiens le Droit”, French for “Uphold the Right”. Still a good motto, but not quite as catchy.

“Wild Goose Jack”, our own Jack Miner garnered a paragraph in the book, though there was no mention of Kingsville. Lennox gave him his due for unlocking “the mysteries of migration routes” and celebrated the fact that he was presented with the Order of the British Empire in 1943 by King George Vl.

Literary trivia is always a must in my columns. Only two Canadians have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and it is very gratifying that one is a man and one is a woman. Saul Bellow from Quebec won in 1976, and Alice Munroe in 2013. And the bestselling book by a Canadian author? Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published in 1908. It has sold more than 50 million copies. How much more Canadian can you get than Anne of Green Gables? Too bad she did not play hockey. (Or did she?)

Now, hum a little “O Canada” and wave that flag! We are 150!

Published in: on June 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm  Comments (3)  

silly and serious

This is somewhat “columncentric” and local, but you might still enjoy…..


It is Monday morning and time for some silliness to start the week, although I am totally aware that you probably won’t be reading this until mid-week or later. There is always time for silliness. Yesterday I went to a Book Launch at the Woodbridge Farm Writers’ Retreat put on by Grant Munroe and friends and the bookstore, Biblioasis. This is not a news article, so I may be fleeting in my details as I want to get on to the main announcement.

The announcement is predicated by one of the authors/poets at the Launch, Marty Gervais, who is the Poet Laureate of Windsor. A multi-talented guy (I once stalked at the Windsor Bookfest to get him to sign a book of poetry I had purchased), Marty read us some poetry and then an excerpt from his upcoming book, “The Disappeared: Five Days Walking the Five Towns” (of what makes up Windsor now).  It will be published by Biblioasis and out in the fall—and that is just about all I will tell you now as the author, poet, professor, photographer, past newspaperman, and mentor of many has too many accomplishments to list in my precious little space).

What we are going to concentrate on in this column is that he is the Poet Laureate of Windsor. A distinguished title, and one that I will not take away from him (as if I could). But I have decided to be the Poet Laureate of Kingsville, until I am unseated by a proper poet. I told him this and we laughed and laughed. And laughed. But wouldn’t it be cool to have a Poet Laureate in Kingsville? I know that I am self-appointed, and there are many in the area who deserve the title and would not have the audacity to appoint themselves.

I read somewhere that “all poetry is political”. I am here to tell you that is not true—most of my poetry is written, what did my dear youngest son say, “like I was in grade 5”. I tend to write a lot of haiku (which I found out is both the singular and plural of the word by some haughty haiku observers I encountered on my blog—and deleted promptly) as it is a form that I find both attractive and short—though sometimes I do have trouble counting syllables.

Haiku for anyone who does not know (or really care) is a form of poetry which can be quite exacting—but all true haiku does not have to be. I follow the 5-7-5 syllable count because it is something my simple mind can handle—but rather than go into it, if you are interested, you can Google it and find out a myriad of information, most of which I tend to ignore. I also write longer poetry—but none of it is very deep—or if it is, I did not intend it to be.

Anyway—this is a rather long-winded way of telling you that I am the new, first, and only, self proclaimed Poet Laureate. Of Kingsville. If you are real poet and want to take my title away, I will not be offended. I will understand. It will be okay. I will, though, cry a little in my beer. Not my wine, because I do not want it to be sullied by my tears.

Now For the More Serious

I will probably report on this in a bit more detail, but as this is my column and thus opinion, I will merely mention that I had one of the best weekends ever—first at the writers’ workshop run by Governor General award-winning author, Diane Schoemperlen at the Retreat. She has become my new bff. At least in my mind. I loved the workshop based on her memoir “This Is Not my Life”, I love her writing, and she is just a wonderful person. (Am I gushing here?) I would like to point out that the best friend forever moniker is merely a figment of my imagination, but it makes me happy, so who is it hurting?

Second, on Sunday I went to the Lawn Party and Book Launch of Diane’s latest book, “First Things First” (published by Biblioasis). That is also where Marty gave his reading, as well as poet and author D.A. Lockhart. Lockhart was charming and talented, and after I save up my pennies I will be buying some of his works too. (Must win that lottery).

I am now in a very “cultured” mood. And I am so happy that this little town and environs of ours is taking reading, writing, art, and music so seriously now. There are all types of venues on tap for those of us who want to feed our creative selves, and I for one, am thrilled.

Published in: on June 22, 2017 at 7:07 pm  Comments (6)  



“Find out what is wrong with you and fix it”. This is advice my husband is forever giving. It is advice he gives when someone complains about some malady or other and it is always medical in nature. It is, on the surface, good advice. It falls apart for a number of reasons: sometimes people just want to complain; sometimes you can’t fix it; and sometimes people just don’t want advice, no matter how practical and kind-hearted.

I have just found out what is wrong with me, and it is not easily “fixed”. It is called “summerphobia” and I learned about it just this morning from an article by Ellen Himelfarb in the daily newspaper—reprinted from the London Daily Telegraph. I knew though that I suffered from it, but I did not know that it had an “official name”.

Summerphobia, according to Himelfarb, is “a rare but potent form of anxiety that intensifies when social lives heat up and work conversations revolve around holiday plans or the “amazing” barbeque last weekend.” I define it a little more precisely. Summerphobia for me is a dislike of extreme heat and humidity, although I do suffer from the “instability” of summer, when all bets are off, and we are supposed to be carefree, and have fun without a set schedule.

Let us be real here for a minute though. Unless you are filthy rich, or a young kid, summers still need to be regimented to some extent. Most of us still have to work, though we may not feel like it when the sun is shining and the beach is beckoning. We have to put our “big pants” on and be adult about summer. I remember the summers before I started working (babysitting and detassling corn) when I was free to play and read (after I had finished my chores, which mostly involved cleaning my room and dusting). I spent an inordinate amount of time in the backyard in my tree, which once I had climbed, was my refuge for hours. The branches were substantial, and arranged in just the right way for me to stretch out on one branch, while my back was cradled by another.

Even back then I suffered from the effects of “summerphobia” which included time off from school and away from my friends. Himelfarb says that she too suffered from the malaise when she was a kid. She said that “as school ended…I braced myself for the exodus of certainty, routine and friends” and yearned for September and a return to normalcy.

On Facebook, I follow “I Love Autumn” and all their posts about the wonders of fall. It is not news to anyone who knows me that fall is my favorite time of year. I repost or “share” some of the pics and quotes about fall to the chagrin of a couple of my Facebook friends, who think I am just baiting them. And maybe I am. Just a little. But I really do love the fall—the cooler temps, the turning leaves, a return to routine, pumpkins, and yes, there is a bit of magic in the season. It doesn’t hurt that Christmas follows close on its heels.

But I am trying to learn to embrace summer. And when it is not too hot or too humid, it really is not a bad time of year. I am not a complete “summerphobic”. I took the quiz at the end of the article and because most of my answers were (b), I have, according to the results “nothing to worry about, but… could do with relaxing a bit.” And it left me with a bit of cheeky advice: “It’s just a bit of sun.” Those who chose (a) for their answers were prime candidates for summerphobia, but were comforted with the statement that “it’s more common than you think”. Those who answered (c) were summer lovers. Apparently, they buy disposable barbeques and are the first to throw around frisbees; they leave photos around of the beach resort they’ve booked; are overcome with fear of missing out (on fun); and despise the end of summer. They are only made fearful by the words “winter is coming”.

Summerphobia at its worst is the “fear of ambiguity, and the loss of clarity and security”. My advice: It’s just a bit of sun. Enjoy your picnics and barbeques, a little time off, not having to don outerwear, and remember “this too will pass”. And for those of you who love summer—well, you don’t need any advice—just keep that frisbee in the air.

Published in: on June 22, 2017 at 7:03 pm  Comments (5)  

A slothful thought

Saturday morning

Many possibilities

Think I will sleep in

Published in: on June 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm  Comments (4)