Friday, 30 September 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary!

Last Thursday dawned sunny and warm, the perfect day for a road trip.  We drove east along Highway 407 to Brock Road, then headed south to Highway 401.  Although the road was packed at Pickering, once we passed Oshawa, the traffic thinned out and our trip became quite pleasant. 

The terrain slowly started to change as we headed into Canadian Shield country.  We saw large rock formations lining the highway which Dad said could not be cracked with a chisel; when workers built the road, they had to dynamite the rock.  And yet, I saw a few trees sprouting through the rocks at the top of the ledge, after dirt had worked its way into a crevice.  I couldn't believe all of the greenery and open space that still exists in this province. 

We stopped for lunch at Port Hope and then continued on our journey.  We passed Belleville and Kingston and then headed north on Highway 416 "The Highway of Heroes", the road the bodies of slain soldiers are transported on after they return from Afghanistan.  We exited the highway at Manotick and made our way through rush hour traffic; how can a town so small have so many cars?  Finally, we reached the Days Inn across from the Ottawa Airport and stretched our stiff legs.  After a rest, we dined at The Keg where we all ordered the grilled salmon; it was scrumptious!

The next day we were invited to the Manotick Golf & Yacht Club for my Aunty Marilyn and Uncle Doug's 50th wedding anniversary.  We were greeted at the door by young Patrick, their grandson.  Then my cousin Kevin escorted us upstairs to the dining room where you could enjoy a pretty view of the Rideau River.  On a long table, were sitting some presents along with a basket half full of cards on which guests had written memories of the anniversary couple.  My cousin Wendy will take those memories and make an album, just like the one her Mom made for our Grandma back in 1981 (see my post "The Scrapbook" (June 20).  As the guests arrived, we saw people we hadn't seen in years.  One woman spotted my Mom from across the room and said:  "Isn't that one of the Stroud girls?"  That made my Mom's day given that she hadn't seen this woman since high school. 

My cousin Wendy was the Master of Ceremonies and she took us on a trip down memory lane back to 1961.  She also gave us a slide show.  We heard about how my aunt and uncle met and courted at Rice Lake north of Toronto.  We ate a delicious dinner of chicken, roast potatoes, vegetables and spice cake.  We heard some well written speeches as well as a solo by my aunt and uncle's beautiful granddaughter, Kaitlyn.  After dinner, my aunt and uncle enjoyed the dance that they never got to have at their wedding.  It was heartwarming to see a couple not only married for 50 years, but still in love after 50 years.  Happy Anniversary, Aunty Marilyn & Uncle Doug!



Photo courtesy www.annscardsandgifts.com



 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Vacant Pew

In 1965, Pierre Berton wrote a report about the Anglican Church in Canada, later published as The Comfortable Pew, claiming that church goers had become too complacent, too comfortable with the status quo, and they needed to be shaken up.  At the same time, Protestant mainline churches started experiencing a steady decline in North America.  According to Wikipedia, Protestant church membership in the United States peaked at 31 million in 1960, dropped to 25 million in 1988 and to 21 million in 2005.  Similarly weekly attendance at Canadian Protestant churches peaked in the 1950’s at 70%, dropped to 30% in 1975 and plummeted to 20% in 2000.  Churches have definitely been shaken up, but not necessarily in the way Mr. Berton intended.



     Growing up in a Protestant church in Hamilton, Ontario, my family worshipped every Sunday even if we were under the weather.  My Dad would talk to everyone and Mom joked that he should lock up the church every week.  If my siblings and I complained about waiting, Dad would say:  “I went to church three times on Sunday, twice for services and once for Sunday School.  You only go once.” 



     In my parents’ day, the church was the centre of the community where people met for baptisms, banquets, bazaars, Bible studies, socials, confirmations, girl guides & boy scouts meetings, youth group meetings and dances (Methodists).  Spouses met and married in God’s house.  Churches were full of life!



     As newlyweds, my husband Rob and I were seeking a church like the one my parents attended in the Sixties.  Sadly, their church had become a shadow of its former self:  the youth group had folded, confirmation had become a foreign word, the couples club had dwindled and baptisms were rare, although funerals were all too common.  The pews were vacant. 



     Where did everybody go?  Why wasn’t the congregation attracting new ones, or at least keeping the existing ones?  Over time, hockey games and work schedules and household chores have taken precedence over church services on Sunday morning.  I believe that a big reason people have left the church is that it isn’t feeding them spiritually anymore.  If they simply hear that same politically correct message that TV, newspapers, magazines or the workplace bombards them with daily, they might as well stay home.  A church sanctuary should be a sanctum from the outside world.



     As for Rob and I, we moved to a new city and tried another Protestant church.  Although its theology was sound, its population was aging and efforts were minimal to attract new members.  The pews were a bit too comfortable.  When our little boy Thomas was born, he was the only baby in the nursery.  It was time to move on.



     We decided to try the denomination in which my husband was baptized.  The downtown church was vibrant when we arrived, but bit by bit, its pews emptied.  One summer Thomas’ name was the only one on the Vacation Bible School list.  I believe political correctness killed our second church. 



Our third church was Christian Reformed, a denomination that we had no connection to.  Our first Sunday visit five years ago was memorable thanks to the warm welcome we received.  With the sanctuary full, the congregation sang several praise choruses with gusto.  A gentleman led a heartfelt congregational prayer that was not politically correct, but followed God’s word.  The church lacked a fulltime minister at the time and yet it ran like a well-oiled machine.  I said to Rob:  “This is what we’ve been looking for all these years!”  We never looked back.  Thomas and Jacqueline settled into the Sunday School, 75 children strong.   I joined the Alpha Course, Women’s Bible Study, Prayer Team and Praise Team.  Now my children say that I should lock up the church.  



     What’s special about Hope Christian Reformed Church?  People come regularly, not sporadically.  Husbands, not just wives, attend.  Youth, as well as the elderly, attend.  Our church even supports Brantford Christian School where we later enrolled our children, the best decision we ever made.  Although people are talented at Hope, they exhibit a humility I rarely see these days.  When someone needs prayer, we get down on our knees.  When someone needs a job, we find an employer. When someone is seriously ill, we prepare meals for him.  Servant leadership is not just a theory but a reality there.  At Hope, the pews are neither comfortable, nor vacant, but full of the Holy Spirit.  Our Redeemer lives!



 Photo of Hope Christian Reformed Church courtesy www.classishamilton.ca

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Go Fly a Kite

A little boy has a request for God, but he thinks God isn't listening.  So he builds himself a beautiful kite and writes a message on it.  He flies the kite hoping that God will notice it.  However, God still does not respond, so the boy flies the kite even higher, but without success.  Finally, he realizes that the only way he will fully capture God's attention is to send the kite right up to heaven.  Reluctantly, he lets go of his precious kite and lets it float up into the sky.

Can you let go of your kite?  I find it hard to let go of mine.  I hang on for dear life.  And yet surrendering to God is the first step to a closer relationship with Him.  On the battlefield, to surrender infers that one gives up entirely and concedes defeat.  However, surrendering to God means that we surrender to His will and accept His unconditional love.  You don't have to fly a kite or build a tower to get God's attention; you need only to surrender.




Photo courtesy http://media-2.web.brittanica.com


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Banned!

It's one thing to ban reading material for telling lies like the hate propaganda that Ernst Zundel wrote claiming the Holocaust never happened.  However, it's quite another to ban books that tell the truth.  This week is banned books week and here are a few titles that were banned at one time or another in the United States or elsewhere, often for telling the truth.

1.  All Quiet on the Western Front -- I read this book in my first year of university.  Eric Maria Remarque gives a scathing account of what it was like for a soldier to serve in the trenches in World War I and to re-adjust to civilian life.  This book was banned and burned in Nazi Germany.

2.  Anne Frank:  Diary of a Young Girl.  I read this diary was I was young.  Anne Frank gives an account of her early childhood as well as her years in hiding in Amsterdam until she and her family are discovered by the Nazis, all perishing in concentration camps, except their father.  The Diary of Anne Frank has been banned by various American schoolboards for discussing menstruation and sexual feelings.

3.  Gone with the Wind -- Margaret Mitchell weaves a tale of debutantes in the deep South during the Civil War.  Some opposed the fact that the protagonist had been married more than once.  In recent years, it has been banned for its negative portrayal of black people, many of whom were slaves or servants, although this is an accurate interpretation of the time period.

4.  King Lear -- Shakespeare's play was banned for being too political.

5.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain's story is loosely based on his life on the Mississippi River as a young boy.  A Massachusetts Library banned the book in 1885 for being socially offensive.

6.  The Color Purple -- I read this book in university for an African American Literature course.  Alice Walker writes about a woman who is involved in an abusive relationship.  A North Carolina school board banned it for its violence and sexual content.

7.  Uncle Tom's Cabin --  I also read this book in university.  Harriet Beecher Stowe recounts the story of Reverend Josiah Henson, a slave owned by a white family, who eventually finds freedom across Lake Erie in Southwestern Ontario.  He contributed greatly to the Underground Railroad.  It was banned in the Southern States in the mid-1800's.  "So controversial was this novel that, upon meeting Stowe, President Lincoln is credited with saying, 'So, this is the little lady who wrote the big book that made this great war.'"  (www.forgetfulone.com)

8.  The Lord of the Rings -- Considered to be irreligious by some, J. R. R. Tolkien's hugely popular fantasy is the second most popular selling novel ever (over 150 million copies sold).

9.  To Kill a Mockingbird -- I read Harper Lee's novel with my class when I was a student teacher.  It's based on a black man who is charged and tried for the rape of a white woman, although he maintains his innocence.  In the end, he is declared guilty and sentenced to die.  The book was banned by Warren, Indiana schools since it does "psychological damage to the positive integration process". 

10.  The Grapes of Wrath -- John Steinbeck's novel was banned and burned in Buffalo, New York and Kern County, California.  Interestingly enough, Kern County was the setting for the novel.  "Detractors accused the author of everything from harboring communist sympathies to exaggeration of the conditions in migrant camps."  (http://cornellreading.typepad.com)

Apparently, Nazi supporters held a massive book burning session in Germany in 1933 burning several works by Jewish writers including Einstein and Freud as well as novels penned by writers who simply did not share their world view like those of Thomas Mann and Erich Maria Remarque.  While I do not promote the use of foul language or portrayal of excessive violence or inclusion of graphic sexual matter in books, I do promote the truth.  Many of these books speak the truth -- and the truth makes us uncomfortable.  Although we don't always like to hear these stories, they need to be told, as long as they are age appropriate.  Even the best selling book of all time has been banned or burned at one time or another in the past 2000 years.  And it definitely speaks the truth!



Photo courtesy http://instructors.dwrl.utexas.edu


Monday, 26 September 2011

Greetings from Holly Beach

The post card says:  "Greetings from Holly Beach",
But nothing remains of this seaside town.
Vacation houses within the shore's reach.
Now all of them are flattened to the ground.

The post card shows green fields and bright blue shores;
And yet I see nothing but shades of gray.
Once a "Riviera" for the poor,
No tourists visit this town by the bay.

The post card shows beaches soaked by the sun.
I see acres of mud, save one lone tree.
Once a small resort for frolic and fun,
But now it's a war-torn wasteland to me.

Holly Beach will never be quite the same.
Rita's recent visit must take the blame.

(September 23, 2006.)



Post card courtesy www.ustownviews.com


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Chickens in the Trees

A tornado carved a path through the village of Kirkton, Ontario, tearing off rooftops, flattening 40 year old trees, spooking horses and scattering chickens in June of 1933.  Truman Tufts, caught planting in the fields, lost the reigns of the horses, and was knocked to the ground by the force of the wind, the roller rolling over his leg.  His wife Florence sat inside the farmhouse.  Their young daughter Norma was sitting on the front porch in a little chair at a table with her doll ready to have tea.  She saw the sky turn as black as night when her mother grabbed her, brought her inside and put her under the four poster bed.  Florence then tried to shut their front door but it forced open by the wind.  As Norma hid, the lace curtains were wrenched from their rods and the windows shattered. 

Meanwhile, up the road a quarter of a mile at the Kirkton School, Norma's siblings followed their young teacher down to the cellar.  In time the wind died down and the three Tufts siblings were sent home.  Making their way up the lane, Edwin and Marion cried while Ross, although quiet, looked shaken.  They saw the hundred maple trees that their dad used to water as a child, all flattened to the ground, pulled up by their roots.  Chickens perched in the trees.  The horses slowly returned to the barn, its roof sucked up by the storm.  They saw the roof of the house that their great-grandfather, Thomas, had built, torn off at the back.   Later, little Norma found her Mom's lace curtains in the apple orchard.  She discovered railway ties, embedded earlier in the 1900's as part of a partially completed CPR line, uprooted and cast aside. 

In the weeks to come, Norma could be seen outside the house, gathering shingles from the roof and nailing them to a post to prevent the post from suffering the same fate as the roof.  Passersby would drive down the laneway to gawk at the damaged homestead and then make their way back to  Highway 23.  The Tufts remained in the house for the summer, but when winter hit they moved across the road to their grandparents' farm.  This continued for a few years until they abandoned the house completely.  Ross remembered that on occasion, passersby would steal pieces of furniture from the Tufts homestead, later re-appearing at antique auctions in Stratford.  Bit by bit nature reclaimed the land and the house was engulfed in greenery. 

Over fifty years later, Ross was approached by his cousin Norm (my Dad) asking if he could salvage some of the fieldstone from the barn and woodworking from the house for his new home being built in Grand Bend.  Ross graciously agreed and now Thomas' handiwork is being enjoyed by my parents.  For Truman's children, they will never forget the day the sky turned as black as night and the wind whipped through the village, turning everything upside down.  


St. Mary's Cyclone of 1933 (I believe it was the same storm) photo courtesy http://images.ourontario.ca


Cyclone - 1933
  

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Five Minutes of Yesterday

The sun shines on the park.  The wind lightly blows the leaves clinging to the trees.  The park is empty except for one little girl dressed in a black dress, black tights and black shoes.  Her hair is fashioned in one long braid.  She has come to the park well-prepared.  In one hand she holds a pair of red plastic binoculars to bird watch with; in the other she holds a pink Barbie camera to capture any exciting moments.  It is unseasonably warm for an autumn day.  She sees three birds' nests.  She sees a squirrel.  She sees a cotton-tailed rabbit.  But she does not see any birds.  Disppointed, she is about to go home when a giant bird soars above her in the crystal blue sky.  The little girl takes a long look at the bird with her binoculars.  Then she snaps a photo with her Barbie camera for posterity.  Her day is now complete.

(November 7, 2008.)



Photo courtesy http://pathfinderpat.files.wordpress.com/


Friday, 23 September 2011

Bell Island

I have been blessed to have not one but two mothers-in-law in my almost 20 years of marriage.  I've written about the first one, Irmgard (Neumann) Jonasson, in an entry entitled "To the Memory of My Mother-in-law" (May 27).  The second one, Doris (O'Brien) Jonasson, is also a kind and loving woman whom I'd like to write about today.

Bell Island is composed of sandstone and shale and was frequented by European fishermen and pirates as early as the 16th century.  It's first permanent settlements came in the 1700's attracted by the rich fertile soil and the fish from the Atlantic.  Iron ore was discovered in the 1800's which attracted even more people to the town.  Bell Island was not untouched by the Second World War; on the contrary, its pier was torpedoed by a German U-boat, due to its supply of iron ore to build war ships, and 69 Newfoundlanders lost their lives. 

Doris, born in 1944, grew up on the shores of Bell Island, Newfoundland, a 9 by 3 kilometre island in Conception Bay.  Isolated from the mainland, Bell Island had no cows and therefore my mother-in-law remembers drinking only canned milk; to this day she hates milk!  As one of 11 children who survived infancy, Doris learned at an early age how to cook and clean to help care for her brothers and sisters.  She remembers opening her front door and seeing the magnificent view of icebergs jutting out of the Atlantic in the Spring which did not melt until June or July.  Doris grew up and married a fellow Newfoundlander and by the mid 1960's they moved west to Ontario.

It was at the same time that the iron ore mines closed in Bell Island and many residents moved to the mainland.  There is a photo in the History of Canada book series of a row boat towing an entire house from an outer Newfoundland port into the mainland, a frequent occurence in the sixties.  Bell Island, which had swelled to 12,000 in 1961, shrunk to a mere 4,000 by 1996.    Tourists to the island can now visit a museum honouring the ore miners who worked so hard.  So take a trip to the tenth province (Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949).  They say that Newfoundlanders are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet and my mother-in-law is definitely one of them.

This post is dedicated to my mother-in-law, Doris Jonasson.



Photo courtesy http://upload.wikimedia.org/


Thursday, 22 September 2011

As Autumn Calls


As autumn calls trees take on hues

Of gold and rust and crimson too.

Maple, poplar, chestnut and pear

Prepare to shed their summer wear.

But not before an encore view.



The cloudless sky is azure blue.

The sun shines through the leaves on cue.

Nature sleeps and yet it’s aware

As autumn calls.



The earth yields its harvest anew

Of apples and plump pumpkins too.

We pause, reflect and say a prayer;

We feel His mercy and His care.

The good earth’s warmth and charm shine through

As autumn calls.



Linda Jonasson
(October 14, 2006.)



Photo courtesy http://crazy-frankenstein.com



Wednesday, 21 September 2011

From Tragedy to Triumph

It was the young boy's job to arrive early at the schoolhouse to light the fire to get the classroom warm for the school mistress.  However, on this particular morning, when he opened the pot bellied stove, a spark jumped out and ignited a fire.  The young boy tried his best to stamp out the fire, but to no avail and soon he was engulfed in flames.  Somehow, he managed to escape from the schoolhouse, but not before he had serious burns on his legs.  At the hospital, the doctor told the boy's mother that she should be prepared for the worst, that he might not make it.  Then she was told that if he survived, he would never walk again.  The boy rallied and regained enough strength to return home after several weeks where his mother nursed him.  He was bound and determined to prove his doctor wrong; he would walk again!  He summoned up all of his strength as he dragged himself out the door and across the grass to the wooden fence which surrounded the yard.  Bit by bit, he dragged himself along the fence.  The next day he repeated the exercice.  Feeling started to return to his legs and his form became more and more upright.  With a lot of sweat and tears, he was able to walk without aid.  The doctor said that while he may be walking again, he would never run.  The boy graduated from elementary school and joined the running team in high school.  Bit by bit, he trained and became stronger and faster.  Others said that while he might be running, he would never win a race.  But he proved them wrong by winning not one but several races!  The young boy never gave up hope and lived a long and prosperous life.



Photo courtesy www.allsportsawards.co.uk








Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

The task given to us at our Women's Coffee Break & Bible Study this morning was to surrender our lives to Christ this week to find inner peace.  Someone mentioned that we might count the blessings we already have to find peace.  Rather than waiting to win the lottery, we might find the extraordinary in our ordinary everyday existence. 

So I started my task on my walk home from Hope Church.  I marvelled at the blue sky and the warm air eventhough we're almost into Fall.  I enjoyed the sights and sounds that greeted me as I strolled down the street.  When I stopped at the mailbox, I was happy to unlock it and pull out a free sample of Nutella, something my son was looking for just last nigh to make a sandwich.  And as I arrived at my doorstep, a little chipmunk scurried through my garden and into the neighbour's bushes. 

When I googled this topic, I found a blog called "Ordinary Life, Extraordinary Living" about a woman named Carol Ross who left her corporate job nine years ago since she was so burnt out she resembled at "human sloth".  In the meantime, she has discovered so many joys in life's simple activities like arranging a bouquet of flowers or devouring a good book or savouring a corn and tomato salad made from ingredients purchased at a Farmers' Market.  Life has slowed down for her, but at the same time life is full:  full of family and friends and faith.  Carol posted a recent entry called "When It Rains, It Pours" in which she talks about a sudden rainstorm which ruined the interior of her vehicle, saturated her carpet at home and ruined her vacuum cleaner trying to cleanup the mess.  After shedding more than a few tears, she adds:  "Maybe what I needed was a torrential downpour to soak me to the skin and make me keenly aware of what it means to be alive, next to a roaring fire, surrounded by family and friends." (http://carolross.typepad.com)

To surrender is easier said that done; however, when we look back at our moments of surrender, they're often followed by moments of gratitude.  So, the next time I walk home from church, I'll be looking for that little chipmunk.


Photo courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org



Monday, 19 September 2011

Honeymoon

Jacqueline was reading The Berenstain Bears and The Week at Grandma's yesterday when she came upon the word "honeymoon" and asked me where the word came from.  I said:  "That's a good question.  I'll have to find out".  So, I checked it out in Wikipedia and it states:

One early reference to a honeymoon is in Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man is newly wed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him. He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.”[1][2]
Originally "honeymoon" simply described the period just after the wedding when things are at their sweetest; it is assumed to wane in a month. The earliest term for this in English was hony moone, which was recorded as early as 1546.[3][4][5]

Honeymoon is translated as "lune de miel" in French and "luna de miel" in Spanish or "luna di miele" in Italian.  In Hungarian, it's referred to as "honeyweeks".  It seems to be a universal word and a universal concept that started with the Indian elite whose newlweds would go on tour to visit relatives who couldn't attend the wedding.  By the early 19th Century, young British couples were also taking a honeymoon and the custom later spread to continental Europe.  Frequent honeymoon destinations were the French Riviera or Italian cities like Rome, Venice or Verona.  Originally honeymoons would start midway through the reception when the bride would don a "going away outfit" and the guests would shower her with confetti as she and her groom rushed out to catch a train or a ship.  However, many couples now wait a day or two to open wedding gifts and rest before they embark on their journey.  

Honeymoons are a great tradition!  If you want to learn more about my honeymoon in the Canadian Rockies, please read my post "Our Ogopogo Encounter" (July 23, 2011).



Precious Moments figurines courtesy http://pics.hoobly.com

Sunday, 18 September 2011

What's in a Name?

I was looking for ideas for my blog online and I came across the name of an old hockey player born on this day in 1904 named Bun Cook, but his Christian name was Frederick, and I wondered how he got his name.  I looked him up on Wikipedia and read that his wife claimed that Fred's brother Bill nicknamed him Bun because of his big nose.  However, another theory states that Fred had rapid speed like a Bunny which was later shortened to Bun.  Interestingly enough, he played on the New York Rangers with his fellow forwards, Bill Cook and Frank Boucher, the threesome being called "The Bread Line" (a reference to "Bun").

Similarly, how did Babe Ruth, officially George Herman Ruth, get his nickname?  Apparently in 1914 he was living in an orphanage when he met Joe Dunn of the Baltimore Orioles.  Dunn saw Ruth pitch and signed him immediately, becoming his legal guardian as well.  When Joe introduced George to the players on his team, they called him one of Joe's "new babes" and the name stuck.  Later, Americans named a chocolate bar after the baseball great.

My nephew Boden ("Bo) Tufts also got his name in a roundabout way.  When my sister-in-law Julie was expecting three years ago, Mom would ask my brother Bill if the couple had any baby names picked out.  Just to be silly, Bill would say that if they had a boy, they would name him Sonny after the movie star Sonny Tufts from the 1950's (a distant relation) whom my Dad had talked about for years.  Anyway, Mom pointed out that Sonny was a nickname and his Christian name was Bowden.  Right away Bill and Julie liked the name, although they dropped the "w".  In the meantime, my Dad came home and reminded my Mom that Sonny's real name was Bowen, not Bowden.  However, the mispronunciation stuck and my nephew was baptized Boden.



Photo courtesy http://images1.makefive.com



Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Red Baron

Snoopy, wearing a cap, scarf and flying goggles, sneaks over farmers' fields and barbed wire fences in France in a Halloween Peanuts Special written by Charles Schulz.  Piloting his doghouse like a Sopwith Camel, Snoopy takes to the air, dodging the enemy under a hailstorm of bullets, in search of the Red Baron.

Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron, after whom my husband's uncle was named, was a World War I flying ace officially credited with 80 victories during his years with the Imperial Germany Army Air Service.  Born in Breslau, Germany, the young boy used to go hunting for elk, deer and boar with his brothers.  Von Richtofen was given the title of "Freiherr" or Free Lord which loosely translates as Baron.   In 1911, he joined the army as a calvaryman.  Donning pilot's goggles in 1915, he painted his plane red and hence was given the nickname the "Red Baron".  The pilot first shot down an enemy plane on September 17, 1916, after which he ordered a silver cup engraved with the date and name of the aircraft.  His cup collection totalled 60 at which time Germany was running low on silver and therefore he discontinued his orders.  He shot down RAF Major Lance Hawker, his most famous adversary, in November of 1916.  Von Richtofen achieved over 20 medals for his efforts including the Prussian Iron Cross and the highest military honour, "Pour le Merite".  In April of 1918, the German pilot was shot down near the Somme River in France.  Although fatally wounded, he managed to maneouvre his plane to a controlled landing, but died shortly after.  RAF Captain Roy Brown is credited with the victory. 

In the comic strip, World War I flying ace Snoopy was shot down by the Red Baron, his doghouse full of bullet holes.  He hung up his cap, scarf and goggles and returned to his doglike existence. 



Cartoon courtesy http://images.macdesktops.com



Friday, 16 September 2011

The Mayflower

In the Fall of 1974, my parents, my two sisters and I packed up our Ford station wagon and took a road trip to Boston, Massachussetts.  The foliage was magnificent as we drove through New York State and my Dad took many pictures.  Once in Boston, we visited many historic sites including the Boston Monument where we climbed at least 100 steps.  We also took a side trip to Plymouth where we boarded the Mayflower II, a replica of the original ship that re-enacted the original trans-Atlantic voyage of the Pilgrims, in the Spring of 1957 and now sits in Plymouth Harbor, open to visitors.  Aboard the Mayflower II, my Dad kept bending his head as we walked over its wooden floors since it was constructed for a much shorter population in those days.

The original Mayflower was 90 feet in length and held 102 passengers, half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs from England.  Looking for religious freedom, the Pilgrims' destination was originally the northern tip of the Virginia Colony; they hoped to anchor at the mouth of the Hudson River.  However, bad weather and errors in navigation forced the ship north and after 66 days at sea, they hit land at Cape Cod instead.  They settled across Cape Cod Bay at Plymouth.  On board the ship, the passengers had written and signed a document called the Mayflower Compact in order to instill order in the new settlement.  They signed treaties with the local Indians as well. The first winter was harsh and half of the colonists perished in the first year due to disease.  However, by 1621, the Pilgrims' lot began to improve, enjoying a bountiful harvest that Fall, and giving thanks to God with the first official Thanksgiving.  By the 1640's, the colony grew to three thousand members and the economy was strong.

Back in the 20th Century, my family and I said goodbye to Plymouth and headed down the Massachussetts Turnpike as the trees blazed red and orange.  But not before I made a purchase:  a little copper Pilgrim statue.  It was in Boston that my love of American History began.  Great memories!



Photograph of Mayflower II courtesy http://1.bp.blogspot.com


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Point Pelee

Canada's mainland's southermost point is located on the latitude of Rome, Italy.  Named "Pointe Pelee" by French settlers due to the lack of trees on its eastern side, it is a spit of land 7 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres wide jutting into Lake Erie, full of marshes and forests.  It is a birdwatcher's paradise, serving as a migration route for at least 360 species of birds, reaching its peak in the month of May. 

In the 1800's the peninsula was settled by poor familes known as squatters like the DeLauriers.  By the 1900's it was the location for cottages that looked more like homes for wealthy Canadians as well as more modest structures for the middle class.  Point Pelee opened as a National Park in 1918, its visitors greeted by a log gate with the words Point Pelee at the top in capital letters.  The cottage industry peaked in 1963 with as many as 781,000 official visitors to the sight; the peninsula's shores were dotted with row upon row of automobiles.  Fishing was allowed until 1969 and duck hunting until 1989.  By the 1970's the government decided to buy cottages one by one and take back the land as a national sanctuary for wildlife with the last of the cottages being dismantled in the 1980's. 

In the autumn of 1990, my husband and I visited the point just before we started dating.  The cottages were gone and we were no longer allowed to drive all the way along the peninsula, but had to walk instead.  We enjoyed a long stroll along the boardwalks that span the marsh as canoes paddled by.  It was unseasonably warm, given that Point Pelee is on such a low latitude, and it felt more like summer than early Fall.  For years we did not go back to the point, but that changed last summer when we returned with our children.  It was quite hot that day:  we walked along the boardwalks; we stopped at the DeLauriers homestead and we took a shuttle bus to the edge of the point, which has receded significantly over the last 20 years.  Although Point Pelee has lost some of its sand, it has not lost any of its magic.  It's worth the trip! 


Photo courtesy http://4bp.blogspot.com




Wednesday, 14 September 2011

My Old Scrapbook

An azure blue lake dotted with evergreens and surrounded by snow-capped mountains graces the cover of my old scrapbook.  Underneath the photograph is a caption which reads:  "CANADA -- A common sight to tourists in Canada is the magnificent, hidden beauty of a deep mountain lake surrounded by tall evergreen trees.  Such a scene, once viewed, is always remembered."  In the upper right hand corner is a sticker with the price -- 50 cents.  At the bottom of the cover I've scribbled my signature "Linda Tufts" over and over from Grade 4 until Grade 10.

Inside, early examples of my writing line its pages:  "When We Went to the Caledonia Fair" is a story about our Grade 4 school trip.  "The Haunted House"is a rhyming poem in book form.  "The Exciting Trip to the Moon" with the "c" missing from exciting, is an early attempt at fiction.  "Billy!" is one of the many poems I wrote about my baby brother;  I became a little mother hen when he was born.   A poem about Grand Bend reads:  "But when it comes to French fries, Cheryl-Ann is hard to beat" while another poem typed on the typewriter, "The Sky",  includes the lines "The stars are like a piece of foil/Shot to the sky/The moon is like a holy baseball/Floating by and by." A story about Christmas 1976 features my grandparents visit to our house in Hamilton.  The following day we visit my aunt and uncle in Ajax where we play cards with my other uncle who chain smokes and I end up stealing his cigarettes (even then I was anti-smoking).  He discovers they are missing and I give him a treasure hunt to find his cigarettes.  Those were the days!  On a more serious note, I wrote "Why I Want to be a Writer", a Grade 5 essay, in which I explain that there are not very many writers and everyone in my class hates writing, even my teacher.  In Grade 6 I made a booklet about Thanksgiving complete with a drawing of the Mayflower. 

Yesterday my daughter Jacqueline was reading some of the entries in my decrepit scrapbook.  Then at meal time, I heard her making up a story in her head about Nat the Cat and a family of mice that he was chasing.  Maybe she will become a writer some day, too.  For now, the scrapbook goes back in the drawer.



Photo courtesy www.pbrownacsw.com


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Liebster Award

Thank you, Karen, for nominating me for a Liebster Award for my blog.  I am honoured to be in such company.  Everyone, please visit Karen's blog at http://simplyscribblings.blogspot.com.  When you receive a Liebster, meaning "beloved one" in German, here are the official rules:

1. Show your appreciation to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the camaraderie of other writers on the Internet.
5. And best of all—have fun.


So to continue the wonderful chain I nominate:

1.  Mike Sanders (mikeskarmaproject.blogspot.com)
2.  MaryAnn Benjamins "My Father's Daughter" (maryannbenjamins.wordpress.com)
3.  Sandra McPherson "Faith Hope & Love" (sandy-faithhopeandlove.blogspot.com)
4.  "Mary from the Prairie" (heyyoulady.blogspot.com)
5.  Trish's "Lily Rose Cottage" (angelwingsandapronstrings.blogspot.com)

Please pass it on.  Thanks!




Smile!

A smile is a facial expression formed by flexing the muscles near both ends of the mouth.[1] The smile can also be found around the eyes (See 'Duchenne Smiling' below). Among humans, it is an expression denoting pleasure, joy, happiness, or amusement, but can also be an involuntary expression of anxiety, in which case it is known as a grimace. Smiling is something that is understood by everyone despite culture, race, or religion; it is internationally known. Cross-cultural studies have shown that smiling is a means of communicating emotions throughout the world.[2] But there are large differences between different cultures.[3] A smile can also be spontaneous or artificial.  (http://en.wikipedia.org)

At my church coffee break social this morning, my friend Laura brought her three boys.  They all have big blue eyes and long curly eyelashes which already makes them cute.  But what makes them even cuter is their smile.  It lights up their face.  I shouldn't be surprised because Laura also has a beautiful smile -- and not just beautiful, but gentle and genuine.

Such a small expression can make such a big difference; if only more people would use it.  When I was in Teacher's College twenty years ago my associate teacher said that what she liked about the way I taught her class was that I smiled at the students.  I used facial expressions to reassure them.  Growing up with a mom who frequently flashed a beautiful smile as well as two sisters, it was second nature to me.  When I worked at Baskin-Robbins as a teenager, I greeted every customer with a smile.  On the street, I greet people with a smile.  And so it surprises me when I don't get a smile back.  The older I get, the more often that seems to happen.  It's like people don't understand my language.  We live in Brantford, for goodness sake, not Toronto!  Why do people feel the need to act so guarded?  Or is it that they are just too lazy?  Someone should tell them that it takes fewer facial muscles to smile than to frown.

So, it was nice to see Laura's boys this morning:  people who speak my language.  They made my day!



Facsimile courtesy http://rummuser.com



Monday, 12 September 2011

If I Could Go Back in Time

If I could go back in time, I would return to my childhood.  I remember one Christmas watching children singing Christmas carols in our school gym.  One boy had a look of pure joy on his face as he sang with abandon.  I turned to a fellow teacher and asked:  "How do we recapture that joy?"  That is the $64,000 question.

Children have an innate ability to live in the moment -- not in the past, not in the future.  Adults, on the other hand, are programmed to live either in the past or in the future.  For those who live in the past, they often fell a sense of regret.  They focus on what they have done wrong in life.  Those who live in the futre experience a sense of anxiety.  They are always focusing on the future:   their next meeting, their next obligation or their next chore.  Their lives become one big responsibility.

For many adults, life is all work and no play.  We are taught that playtime is frivolous and unnecessary.  In fact, I can think of one day sitting in the backyard with my daughter at 3 years of age:  she was trying to get my attention to play "ghost" with her and I was bent on finishing my journal rather than paying with a ghost in a red bathing suit.

While I did have small responsibilities as a child, I still had a lot of fun.  I was much more carefree and I laughed more often; life was much less serious.  I can remember laughing with my brother until we cried.  I was the leader of the L.A. CLub at school, which stands for "Laugh A Lot" (I guess it should have been named the L.A.L. Club).  Laughter was a priority in my life, not just something I did once in a blue moon.  Life was something to be lived to the fullest.  Yes, I would love to go back in time and experience life like that little boy in the gym singing Christmas carols.  Life is full of moments like that -- if only we take the time to notice.



Cartoon courtesy http://www.deepestfeelings.com



Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Unused Ticket to the Titanic

Canadian Nathan Mills paid 86 pounds for a ticket to the Titanic and yet he never boarded the ship.  Back in April of 1912, Mr. Mills, from the hamlet of Woodham in Western Ontario, was sent to England to buy merchandise for the T. Eaton Company.  Timothy Eaton had taken 50 years to build up his business and now Canadians were quite familiar with the name, thanks in large part to its catalogue.  The Eaton's Catalogue was referred to as the "Homesteader's Bible" since it was used for anything from reading material for new immigrants to hockey pads for young boys to paper dolls for little girls to toilet paper for outhouse occupants.  Capitalizing on the success of the catalogue, Timothy's son Sir John, who carried on the business after his father's death, was looking for more goods to fill its pages.  Canada's population was relatively small at the time, sitting at a mere 8 million. Mr. Mills, along with his co-worker Mr. Graham from St. Mary's, were hoping to purchase goods in the metropolis of London (population 1 million) and other British cities, that they would not find at home:  tweed suits from Scotland and fine bone china from England.  After a week of buying, the Eaton's colleagues were ready to return to Canada, both eager to be a part of the Titanic's maiden voyage.  However, at the last minute, Sir John Eaton sent Nathan Mills a telegram detaining him for another week, saying he had more business for him to attend to.  Mr. Graham headed to Southampton without his business partner.  The ship sailed, collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic and sank, many of its passengers perishing in the icy waters.  Mr. Mills read the death list and was shocked to learn that his colleague went down with the ship.  However, he returned home to Canada later on another vessel, his life spared all because of some unfinished business. 

I dedicate this post to my Great Aunt Florence, a niece of Nathan Mills.





Saturday, 10 September 2011

Fifteen Foot Waves, Fatigue & Lamprey Eels

Battling fifteen foot waves, fatigue and lamprey eels, Marilyn Bell swam across Lake Ontario in 20 hours and 59 minutes, landing on the Toronto Shore on September 9, 1954.  American Florence Chadwick had been offered $10,000 by the Canadian National Exhibition to swim across Lake Ontario as a publicity stunt.  Later Canadian Marilyn Bell joined the race along with fellow Canadian Winnie Roach, neither expecting renumeration. 

Marilyn set out from Youngstown, New York, directly across from Toronto, to swim the Great Lake.  Although the waves were high, water temperatures were low, and lamprey eels attacked her arms and legs, she persevered.  Miss Chadwick, suffering from stomach cramps, abandoned the race after several hours as did Miss Roach; only Miss Bell remained.  Marilyn battled fatigue, but with the help of pablum, corn syrup and lemon juice to fill her tummy and pep talks from her coach to feed her psyche, she paddled on.  Rival newspapers, The Toronto Sun and The Toronto Telegram, published extra editions to track Marilyn's progress.  The intended route would take 32 miles, but the Toronto swimmer covered many more miles due to strong winds diverting her from her path.  At one point it seemed like Marilyn was semi-conscious, but her coach Gus Ryder spurred her on. 

The crowd at Sunnyside Beach, swelling to 100,000 plus, cheered as Marilyn took her 70,000th stroke and climbed out of the water at 8:15 pm.  The Globe & Mail reported on September 10 that the 16-year-old swimmer might receive up to $50,000 but in the end the CNE gave her $10,000.  In addition, local companies rewarded her with a car, clothing and furniture.  Marilyn Bell swam the English Channel the following year and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 1956 after which she retired.


Photo courtesy http://fightyourtickets.ca





Friday, 9 September 2011

A Clown in a Basket

I searched my basement high and low
And found a piece of useless junk.
It was a clown in a basket
Hidden in an old tickle trunk.

The clown was made with balls of yarn,
Some coloured peach and some were white.
A small bouquet of bright balloons
He did hold in his hand so tight.

Perched on his right knee was a bee.
On his arm was a butterfly.
His head was made of styrofoam;
His face mask had two evil eyes.

"I should throw out this craft gone wrong",
But then I had a change of heart.
I recalled how we acquired it.
Here's something with which I can't part.

Once my husband and little girl
Went to a yard sale down the street.
She got to pick one thing to buy:
Clown in a basket was her treat.

I kept the clown -- not for the price;
Not for the small balloon bouquet.
But for the look on my girl's face
When she brought it home that fine day.


Linda Jonasson
(September 9, 2006.)



Photo courtesy http://1.bp.blogspot.com


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Turnbull's Grove

I grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, but my second home was Grand Bend on the shores of Lake Huron.  On the last day of school, we would pack up all of our belongings and head to our mobile home in Turnbull's Grove, just north of town.  Because my mom was a stay at home mom, we got to spend the whole summer at the beach.  We would arrive at the 60 foot long black and white trailer around noon.  The first order of business would be to remove the chain that crossed the driveway.  My siblings and I would stand in a row and pull like a tug of war contest.  Once the car was parked, we would unload everything.  My Dad was particular about the car and it was usually packed carefully; he made the best use of space in that station wagon.  Then, everyone had to go to the bathroom at the same time after the two hour trip.  We would unpack our clothes in the wooden dressers built into the bedroom walls.  Then we would eat a meal in our kitchen, complete with "saloon doors" to separate it from the living room.  Mom would unpack the cooler and put the perishables in our green fridge.  Then she would heat up soup on our green gas stove, after much fiddling with the pilot light.  Once the meal was eaten, we would head to the beach, our towels hanging over our shoulders and our suntan lotion in our hands. Down a hill, past our friends, the Thornton's who were usually sitting in front of their trailer, we would stroll.  Mr. Thornton would bring us up to date on what was happening in Turnbull's Grove.  Past the creek we would walk and then we would reach the beach where we would lay down our towels.  We would spend the whole afternoon at the beach.  It was my Mom and the three Tufts girls, all sunbathing side by side.  I learned how to swim at 2 years of age, the year we first bought the trailer.  I was the type that wanted to be under the water rather than above it most of the time.  Sometimes we would go for a long walk along the beach, looking for rocks or for seashells.  I don't ever remember being bored at the beach.  At supper time, we would head back to the trailer where Mom would make supper, maybe corned beef on rye bread that she bought from the Grand Bend bakery.  Often we would have watermelon for dessert; I used to sprinkle it with salt the way my Dad did.  After supper, we would sometimes head down to the lake for an evening dip.  Often we would stay to watch the sunset.  There is nothing like a sunset over the lake.  At dusk, we would head back to the trailer where we would play a board game or read a book (our black and white TV only received one channel).  Tired from our long day in the sun, we would put on our pajamas and climb into our bunk bed, listening to the crickets chirp under our window.  It was the start of a perfect summer in Turnbull's Grove.



Photo courtesy http://1.bp.blogspot.com



Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The London Blitz

On September 7, 1940, 348 German bombers escorted by 617 fighters bombed London for two hours straight.  Later that evening the Luftwaffe returned guided by the fires set by the first raid and blasted the city again, this time until 4:30 am.  And so began the London Blitz, short for "blitzkrieg", a German term for "lightning war".  The city was bombed for the next 57 nights and remained a centre for attack until May 11, 1941.

Children were evacuated to the countryside, some even overseas to North America.  The majority of Londoners, however, chose to remain in the city, including the Royal Family, who helped to boost the general morale immensely.  Londoners soon grew accustomed to a new routine.  When night fell each evening, they would draw their blinds.  Streetlights would remain off.  Traffic in the city became a hazard to both motorists and pedestrians due to poor visiblity.  Some families would sequester themselves in Anderson shelters assembled in their backyards.  Some individuals would wear gas masks in anticipation of an attack.  Some families headed underground to the Tube stations to find protection.  Many Londoners (60%) simply remained in their homes, maybe with a frying pan over their head.  Some brave souls grew bored and climbed up on rooftops and balconies to witness the attack first hand.  According to war correspondent Ernie Pyle:

"You have all seen big fires, but I doubt if you have ver seen the whole horizon of a city lined with great fires -- scores of them, perhaps hundreds...These things all went together to make the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known." *

The next morning, Londoners had to make their way through the rubble as they headed for work or for school.  Some returned from the underground stations to find their house flattened.  Some houses survived the bombings but remained uninhabitable.  There is the story of one woman who found a German plane in her garden, complete with the pilot trying to make an exit; she turned him in to the local authorities. 

Although Hitler aimed to demoralize Londoners to the point that Britain would surrender in 1940, the Blitz actually united the British in a common cause.  The Nazis' plans for Operation Sea Lion, a land invasion of Britain, were shelved by mid-1941 in favour of an attack on the Soviet Union.  And Londoners got their city back.

*"The London Blitz, 1940", EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2001).

Note:  Read cartoonist Ben Wicks' book, Nell's War:  Remembering the Blitz, drawing on first hand accounts of the London Blitz.



Photograph of St. Paul's Cathedral, which remained intact during the Blitz, courtesy of http://cache2.artprintimages.com

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

One, Two, Three Cheers, Tommy!

When my son Thomas was little he used to love trains.  For his first birthday, I served a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake.  He played with the Thomas the Tank Engine set continuously.  He would spend hours setting up the track in different configurations, complete with a roundhouse for the cars.  He knew all of the car's names:  Thomas, Percy, James, Skarloey, Donald, Douglas, Sir Handel, Clarabel, etc.  He would read one particular Thomas the Tank Engine storybook everyday and recite lines from it, including:  "One, two, three cheers, Tommy!" a point in the story where Thomas saves the day by getting the Christmas tree.  That page of the book is ripped because he turned it one time too many.  My son also watched the Thomas the Tank Engine videos with his big brown eyes glued to the television set.  He couldn't get enough of them.  I remember my sister Laurie inviting us to Puddicombe Farms in Stoney Creek so Thomas could go for a ride on a giant Thomas the Tank Engine train.  Thomas loved the ride, but was so disappointed when he had to get off that he cried.  When Thomas was little, he lived, ate and breathed Thomas the Tank Engine:  in fact, he even thought he was named after the toy train.  Now the train sits in a blue Rubbermaid container in our furnace room, longing for another little boy to say the words "One, two, three cheers, Tommy!"  Those were the days!





Monday, 5 September 2011

Long Point Bay

As the day breaks on Long Point Bay,
The clear blue water is quite still.
Pretty poplars begin to sway;
Tall reeds rustle from a duck's bill.

The clear blue water is quite still.
Lily pads float lazily by.
Tall reeds rustle from a duck's bill.
Buttercups dot the shore with dye.

Lily pads float lazily by.
The silence holds awesome power.
Buttercups dot the shore with dye.
The duck takes flight at this wee hour.

The silence holds awesome power.
Water droplets gleam in the sun.
The duck takes flight at this wee hour
And undulating ripples run.

Water droplets gleam in the sun.
Pretty poplars begin to sway.
And undulating ripples run
As the day breaks on Long Point Bay.

Linda Jonasson
(August 8, 2008.)




Sunday, 4 September 2011

Tennis Match Marathon

Ricardo "Pancho" Gonzales, who was ranked the world's number one professional tennis player for eight years in the 1950's and 1960's, played in one of the longest tennis matches in history.  Ricardo Gonzales was born and raised in California, the son of Mexican-immigrant working-class parents.  At 12 years old, he first started playing tennis when his mother bought him a 51-cent raquette.  Largely self-taught, he used to watch the professionals play on the court in Exposition Court in Los Angeles.  Because of his brushes with the law in his teen years and the fact that he was from "the wrong side of the tracks", Gonzales was largely ostracized by the Anglo-Saxon upper-class tennis establishment. 

Even so, he seemed to have a natural athletic ability and by 19 years old, Ricardo stood over 6 feet tall and yet he could move like a "big cat" on the tennis court according to fellow player Tony Trabert.  Gonzales won the US Open in 1948 and 1949 at the tender ages of 20 and 21.  He dominated the sport in the 1950's as a professional, winning the Wembley Pro Championship from 1950 to 1952 and the US Pro Championship from 1953 to 1959.  He continued to play in the 1960's and had respectable placings, including a win and some final or semi-final matches.

But the game that is recorded in the history books as the longest tennis match in professional history took place in 1969.  The 41 year old Gonzales was paired with the 25 year old Charlie Pasarell at Wimbledon.  The match opened with a gruelling first set where the two players matched each other wit for wit, Pasarell winning 24 games to 22.  With dusk approaching, Gonzales pleaded with the referee to postpone the match to the following day, but the referee refused and the game continued with Pasarell winning the second set 6 to 1, Gonzales pretty much throwing in the towel.  Finally, the referee agreed to postpone the match to the following day where Gonzales came back stronger than ever.  The "big cat" was back with a vengeance, rebounding to win the next three sets convincingly 16-14, 6-3, 11-9.  The tennis match lasted 12 hours and 5 minutes and resulted in the tie-breaker rule in tennis today. 

Unfortunately, although Gonzales progressed to the forth round of Wimbledon, he was beaten there in four sets by Arthur Ashe.  It was not until Wimbledon 2010 that the 1969 longest match record was broken by Isner and Mahut who played an 11-hour 183-game long match.  The "big cat" not only had the moves on the court, but the physical and mental stamina to back it up, likely due to his maturity.  In all Gonzales won 113 titles in his 25 year career.



Photo courtesy http://www.legendsrevealed.com



Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Apple Orchard

How you ever strolled through an orchard?  There is a peace and a serenity in an orchard that cannot be found just anywhere.  Outside of Waterdown on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment sits a farm called Frootogo.  Rows and rows of apple trees line the landscape.  Ripe, red apples lay on the ground in clusters beneath the trees, cast aside by yesterday's pickers.  Hanging from the trees are apples half green and half red; the season's just begun.  They have the dull look of apples that have not yet been sprayed.  Rob pulls a small one from the tree and bites into it (remember "Strawberry Picking"?).  We slowly make our way past the trees, picking as we go.  We have the whole row to ourselves; it's as if we're the only two people on the planet.  In the middle of that orchard, we could block out the world.  We each put a final apple into the basket which is overflowing now and Rob carries it back to the barn.  Wasn't it yesterday that we marked summer's beginning by picking strawberries?  And now we pick apples as the summer comes to a close.  The older we get, the faster time passes.  We will hold on to those lingering days of summer like the apples cling to the trees.  For now, we say goodbye.



Photo courtesy http://farm2.static.flickr.com



Friday, 2 September 2011

My East End: A History of Cockney London

Gilda O'Neill was born and raised in Bethnal Green in London's East End, the granddaughter of a Thames tug skipper and a Pie & Mash Shop owner.  She has written a detailed account of what it was like to grow up as a Cockney, someone born within hearing distance of the Bows Bells.  Cockneys lived in one of the poorest sections of one of the richest cities in the world.  Drawing on the oral stories of the community's locals, Ms. O'Neill weaves a tale of a working class neighbourhood whose members were poor in the pocketbook, but rich in spirit.  My East End describes the industries that lined the docks of the River Thames and employed the locals.  The author also points out that the East End was where most of the immigrants congregated from the Huegenots in the 1700's to the Irish and the Jews in the 1800's to the Bengledeshis in the latter half of the 1900's.  She talks about the Oliver Twist world of criminals and sheisters.  She talks about how East Enders were so crowded together they lived "inside each other's pockets"; how children played outside open doors; how adults entertained themselves at dog races or pub sing-a-longs; how locals shopped at street markets for items like jellied eel or in Petticoat Lane for clothing.  East Enders were a close-knit group of hard-working citizens who did not give up easily.  It was these traits that got them through the London Blitz of 1940 and it was these traits that would see them through the closing of the docks in the 1970's.  East Enders thrived on adversity. 

So, take a trip down memory lane:  buy some dinner at the Pie & Mash Shop; or shop for clothes in Petticoat Lane; or listen to the Bows Bells ring.  It's worth the trip!



Photo courtesy http://thegettingofwisdom.files


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Thomas Edison's Quote

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

Thomas Edison spoke these words in 1877.  What if the inventor had given up before he invented the light bulb?  What if Laura Secord had stopped walking at mile 18 with the British camp only a mile away and the Americans about to attack Upper Canada?  What if Abraham Lincoln had quit politics after a second failed bid for the Senate in 1858 with his successful presidential bid only two years later?  What if  Tom Longboat had stopped running at mile 23 of the Boston Marathon back in 1907 with the trophy within his grasp?  What if NASA had ditched the space program after the fire on Apollo 1 in 1967 with the moon landing only two and a half years later?  Where would we meet for coffee if Tim Horton had given up after opening a burger joint that went bankrupt in the early 1960's, eventhough his successful donut shop would open in Hamilton by 1964.  Who would climbers mentor if Sir Edmund Hillary had stopped before he reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1953?  What would have happened to diabetics if Sir Frederick Banting gave up before he discovered insulin in 1923?  And what would have become of North America if Christopher Columbus had have turned back before he spotted land back in 1492?

You, too, could be on the brink of success:  if you walk another mile; if you climb a few more feet; if you sail another furlong.  Victory is within your reach -- if you only try.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)



Photo of Thomas Edison circa 1878 courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org