Tuesday 30 December 2008

Messiah Marginalia

A philosopher at uToronto published a book called “Marginalia”. These are the notes scribbled in the margins of a text. In this marginalia you will find Words of Wisdom I have scribbled in my margins. Every conductor brings his/her particular style. What fun it has been to compare notes! All we like sheep manage to do as we are told. Having spent a lot of years listening to and appreciating wonderful music, I still listen and learn.

Firstly, I would like to set up the context of this piece. I started singing in a church choir in Toronto when I was 13 years old. We were the poorer relations in Toronto. We drove across town from the inner city to the Lawrence Park United church (LPUC) to sing. The church was fortunate to have an economic base strong enough to include 4 paid soloists. I learned much just listening to the way these professionals could create beautiful music in our sanctuary.
The choir was begun by my aunt; back when dinosaurs ruled the earth! She accompanied musicians at the Toronto Conservatory of Music when she was 16 years old. My parents have always sung in choirs - being adopted I only have this gift through osmosis. My father, a tenor in his time, never learned to read music, but both my parents put a lot of time in on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights at choir practice. They sang, in their later years, in the Elderberries, a senior’s choir in Muskoka. Dad participated in choirs, from 1940 until his brain tumour, in 2003, by listening, harmonizing and by using his ears. I have adopted his style! My mom has it in her genes.

Our church family often had superior musicians in our midst. At Easter time we had the Canadian Brass to accompany our choir. My aunt, long since dead, created a legacy of excellence. The choristers included members of the Mendelsohn choir, both the Mendelsohn and the Elmer Isler singers rehearsed, and often performed, in our church. I am honoured to sing with the professionals, being a lowly schoolmarm!

Some conductors, -many conductors- tell fabulous stories. They open up a part of themselves, reveal the inner person and help draw us into their mindset. The most wonderful leaders help us create a painting with the beauty of their metaphors and the analogies that mean the most to me are the most creative.

I begin with Messiah, and move to a couple of other pieces. Eventually, you get the picture. Each leader leads differently. It is wonderful to learn something new.

NOTES: The names have not been changed. Musicians, I have found, have a good sense of humour. We must. To spend the time and the energy that we expend in creating melifluous sounds, we must laugh. The dedication of the many members of the choir never ceases to amaze me. I laud those who have been here since the distant memory of time. Some of us have chronological giftedness, my grey hair and wrinkles being the proof! I would like to think that, like athletes, for singing is very physical, we improve by singing with the discipline and the dignity that results from succumbing to “the stick”!

No animals were harmed in the making of these notes! I have, however, sharpened a fair number of pencils – so trees are another story.

September, 2005 --Mathew Larkin
“I am deeply suspicious of that alto note!”

“I need you to sing closer to the fret. I think some of you have been listening to too many Middle Eastern records.”

“Cherish the notes like cognac.”

Messiah, 1984 --This was Brian Law.
[Whilst singing “For Unto Us a Child is Born”, pregnant with child #3, I did not take these words personally!]
“You don’t actively have to go through the whole birth process.” – of course this is an OLD joke, but then I am an old choir member!!!

Oct. 19th – new choir master... (Mathew Larkin)
“Moving on to the next chapter of our relationship – let us open up the Messiah!” (Mathew Larkin)

“Roll your R’s. I know it is an Anglican affectation…nevertheless” (Mathew Larkin)

“I need you to be resolutely in time.” We all resolve to be in time, reality is absolutely another matter.

As we participate in this new relationship, working with Dr. Julian Wachner, the NAC has thrown in a NEW perspective. (Check him out – quite impressive!) Perhaps this is an illicit relationship, seeing as we have one with Matthew Two-Two? [Do you notice we are told everything twice?! Did you notice that? The NAC usually hires a big gun for Messiah.

#4 is Madrigal dance: “anD the glahry, “ is to be light but not pompous. Because all will be reivealed. [anD ya gotta love the “D”s.] But the Flesh have got to be determined “L”s.

#7 For He shall purify, the P is not voiced.
We combine the old and new testament, i.e. Palestrina meets Handel’s vision of old and new. I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT!

This we sing “vesta voce”, [I was embarrassed to ask aloud, but went to Babelfish.com: “it dresses voice”. Who knew? 40-something schoolmarm. What do I know?!]

“Watch out for the hemiola.”
OK, I did go look THAT one up, too. ‘Tis better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt!”

Hemiola: “The word hemiola derives from the Greek hemiolios, meaning "one and a half". It was originally used in music to refer to the frequency ratio 3:2; that is, the interval of a justly tuned perfect fifth.

In early music, this term meant the ratio of 3:2, employed musically in two senses: the ratio of the perfect fifth, whose musical value is 3:2, and the rhythmic relation of three notes in the time of two, i.e., the triplet.”

#12 For Unto oahs (or euhs) is born - sing it with feeling, but not like the three tenors… Do use gudewill when singing. For His Yoke is Aysy, the Lamb weuld take away our sins. (I can hardly read the music for all these notes!)

Shoor-eh-ly, you will bring a HUGE He, to us and all our trahnsgresshawnes. Although we are wounded, with his strrrripes, and brighter shadow vowels, we shall be healid.

#26 All We Sheep are somber, as we wait for how we will deeleever him, Mathew says smile, at this point. You know, remember brighter vowels.

If He Delight in Him, we shall be nasty.
But don’t forget to Lift Up Yer ‘eads (Brian Law, 1984). Oops, that’s what he said NOT to do!

Sing the Hallelujah, Majestically, but a little less Christ, less s, more T – though not as if you are swearing…

Seence it is hopeful of the ressurrecshawn, for Worthy is the Lam, [no B!] and with all the glahry and ahnd cawst away your doubts, right, Jane?!

Once we make it to the Amen, we are in the “land of mezzopiano”, (I prefer the land of mezzoforte, meself! I like notes that stay on the bar lines!)

Those lovely -∆ ∆/ - ∆ ∆ / shalt unencumber us on page 25, help us dahnse through the piece!

p. 58 Prince of Peace, Try not to be too cute, i.e. don’t think of “Bunny Ears”. For Pete’s sake, when Dr. Wachter raises his baton DO NOT THINK OF MATTHEW’S BUNNY EARS analogy!


We move on to the Brucker, the sopranos were caught “with their pants down.” “Try to do something different, sops, whatever you are doing - it isn’t working!”

“Choir, choir!” cried Mathew 2:2 in despair, “I am conducting in half notes beats. Repeat after me, half-note beats.” [repeated: Half note beats.] Two times!

“In the Allelujah try not to be too defenseman line-ish.” Mathew does not suffer fools gladly.

“Choir, if it’s not blended by the 16th beat it’ll get tedious. Try blending a little earlier.”

p. 5 “We’ve had a G and an F#, try something in the middle, that’s all I want for Christmas!” (I can only hope we answer his prayer. Of course, has he been a good little boy?!)
“I want the forte to be a rich, full warm sound, especially compared to its little friend mezzopiano. Think of a Vancouver, West Coast mezzo-feeling. But do not dissolve into fuzziness.” (Right on, man!)

“Tenors, how nice it would be to see the whites of your eyes on those two little eighth notes!”

“If you are guessing in a performance it’s a distraction. Learn it between now and then!”

“The allargando: yes, please do slow down, but do not slam into reverse!”

P.10 “Go for saccharine, l think: John Rutteridge.”

Here is another story: I wrote it on page 12 of my score. It is a never to be forgotten story. (Bless you, Matthew for that one!) He was explaining how he'd been charged with being subfusc.

Subfusc: dusky drab; n. formal academic dress at Oxford University
\sub-FUHSK\, adjective: Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.

P. 13 “Fecit potentiam - strength in his arm, it’s not in a sling!”

“Humiles –humbled, not dead. Sounds like you’ve flipping buried him, not like you are Mary, despondent at the news!”

p.21 poten /se-am/, “not /see-yam/, - those are vegetables, I think.”

p. 24 “Brighter, not girly. Mature, not wizened.” (Such pressure!)

p. 29 “I’m not convinced of the worthiness of this cadence, but you might convince me if you sing it in tune.” (One can only hope – another item for his Christmas list?)

p. 36 "Et in saeculorum". There is a key change. “This is where the elephant comes in, think of elephants - with plumage.” [Say what?]

On that splendidly delicious note, I leave you, dear readers/choristers.

Yours in harmony...

Monday 29 December 2008

MTM - no power, no phone, no Internet

Well, usually I am up and ready for MTM. However, we were 11 hours without power on Sunday. The warm temperatures of +10 a few days ago melted water on land and at the lakeshore. The ice flow was several inches thick and the winds forced the ice up on the shore. The previous day was warm. But, at a few degrees above zero C. today, we achieved a point spread of 30 degrees from last week to this. It is a bit of a shock. The snow, for the most part, has gone. The poor plants need the protection. The lakes and rivers are swollen with snow melt.

There were 230,000 Hydro One customers without power yesterday in our province. The Toronto Star article headline states, Trailers flip, windows fly, thousands lose power. Hydro staff pointed out that there are many without power up here who didn't know there was no power! Many cottages are only 3-season access. Some come up here for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and I presume they would just go back home!

We are grateful to have gone back on grid last night (Sunday). However, we had no phone or Internet until late Monday night. I had a couple of things on the go, related to my family, and felt a bit strange being so isolated electronically.

There are still 90,000 without power today, according to CTV news. The Globe & Mail (I have to read it on-line, we can't get it here in town!), explains that the high winds set crews back. We saw a helicopter go by as they sought to

It was the wind that shocked us all. Over 100 km across our province. The trees bent, some broke. I was at the window when I saw one of my favourites go over. With it went nests and habitat for many critters. There are many holes in the tree and it was only a matter of time.

It will make more room in the forest, and open up our space and give the smaller shrubs, trees and brush more light. It is a crooked tree trunk, and, as I watched, it just fell over across the neighbour's driveway. It was tricky trying to phone someone to get it cut up and I totally failed at that. Many of the locals who are good with a chain saw also work for Hydro One! Fortunately, a neighbour helped hack away at it with a small chain saw and our other neighbour can get in her driveway.

Fortunately, we had invested in a generator, after the 2006 hurricane winds, and kept warm and dry, and with a few outlets could make coffee and toast.

My Town Monday Posts created by Travis Erwin...he's on holidays!

MTM posts in December are co-hosted by e-cuneiform & Junosmom...

Saturday 27 December 2008

Muskoka Heritage Project

On a lazy day I have been surfing, adding to my Senior's Health Issue blog, watching ice skating and trying to digest my big birthday dinner yesterday (the 26th Dec.). I keep getting e-mail warnings, as I like to be prepared. We are in the middle of a great storm! No, not snow, for a change, but dumping rain on frozen lakes and icing up the roads.

We lost a mother and young son last week to non-frozen ice while ice fishing. Such a shame. Now we will be looking at dangerously high water. Despite that we love the region.

I came across a great video celebrating our region.

Muskoka Heritage Project video clip

Tuesday 23 December 2008

An idle question...

The Post Office in many towns is the worst place for it: idling, aside from those who block a laneway, it bothers me no end!

It is not just a winter issue, either.
The white car (below) was sitting, engine on, in August heat. I would swear that I could feel air conditioning as I walked past, too!

I recently read a terrific article about the cost of idling.
For those of us concerned about the environment idling is not An idle question...as it was cleverly titled.

*Brrr! It's another cold morning out there! Better run out and start the car before you have breakfast so it's toasty warm when it's time to leave for work in 15 minutes. As you head into work, you stop by the drive-thru and wait in line for 5 minutes for a coffee. That afternoon, you keep the car running for 10 minutes while waiting to pick your kids up from school - it's pretty cold out and they'll appreciate the warmth. later still, you need to stop by the drug store and pick up a prescription - you'll only be 5 minutes, so you leave your son/daughter/spouse/dog in the vehicle with the engine running.

Idling bylaw or not, we've all done it, haven't we? Well, we ask you to give some thought to what the costs are. An idling engine burns about 3.5 litres per hour. That means the 35 minutes you left your vehicle idling consumed 2.03 litres of fuel. Multiply that by, say 24 days each month and you've burned up almost 50 litres of fuel. Even at our currently lower fuel prices, that still amounts to approximately $20 each month. When prices head back up to the summer levels of $1.30 per litre, that would mean you've idled away almost $64.00 worth of fuel. Multiply that by 12 months (we do need that air conditioning in the summer, don't we?) and say bye-bye to anywhere from $240 to over $750 each year. Keep going with the math, and over the years you could have financed some lovely dinners out, a nice family vacation, or padded your retirement fund.

And if it still seems like chump change to you, 'cos some of us would think, "hey, I don't mind paying $20 to $64 a month to keep my vehicle at a comfie temperature:, maybe you would consider the following. Every litre of gas used produces 2.4 kg of CO2. Idling that 30 minutes or so a day can produce about a quarter tonne of CO2 emissions each year. Idling contributes to bad air quality - an idling engine generates twice as much exhaust emission as an engine in motion, contributing significantly to air pollution.

Save money, save the planet! Don't idle longer than absolutely necessary.
*This is reprinted, by permission, from Two Guys Auto's December, 2008, newsletter.

Sunday 21 December 2008

My Town Monday

I am wondering what kinds of things people did, or will do, for others this season?

I know the news is full of the economic crisis, cutbacks, job losses, how to cut back in Christmas spending habits, doom and gloom about one thing or another. Weary eastern travellers are sleeping overnight in airports, train and bus stations hoping for a ride to see friends and family. For many, the The Star reported, it is a Blue Christmas.

I'm having a tough time! I keep recalling the family photos. The good old days of yore when we attended church, candlelight services, and the giant turkeys. Those days are gone when the town clears out as snowbirds take off to warmer climes. Restaurants are closing for winter. Things are pretty quiet!

There are many great stories about 'the best Xmas ever', great Xmas foods, where to shop, picking the family Christmas tree (we always used to go and cut ours down!), and so on. Colin & Justin are telling us how to have a 'manly' Christmas and how to decorate a festive table. There are DoItYourself Christmas card ideas for the notsocrafty. Sandra (Between Friends) is having a hard time getting things done. Lyzzydee created the prettiest Christmas card. Dear Andrew Steele has published a list of books to buy politicos. Jean has posted Season's Greetings from Fallow Dear Reserve. Judy in Kentucky has decorated and shopped, also advocated for the Toys for Tots group. Heidelweiss has become a noblog - blogger burnout? Many are attending their children's school assemblies and great performances! I remember those...we once wrote and performed the 12 Days of Holidays.

But as times change, traditions must evolve and adapt to circumstances. Not everyone is able to have the story-book Christmas. Many need help and could use a friend. Most days are the same in institutions, although the staff really are cheerier. We made it a point to take a gift basket in on Christmas Eve to the emergency ward in the local hospital where my poor husband spent several visits. Such great people, as he dealt with the impact of having a chronic nosebleed while taking aspirin.

We have to remember that any are unable to find food, clothing and shelter, let alone peace, health, happiness, and a Christmas card celebration. Many do not uphold this secular holiday, either. For those with frail or ailing family members, dysfunctional families or family members with serious health or emotional issues, all has an impact on their holiday celebration.

After divorce or bereavement, traditional celebration can and do change. Do not attempt to do what you did before financially, spiritually or emotionally. Do only what you can manage. Give yourself permission to build new traditions. When I counselled my elementary students we would celebrate their traditional Christmas Eve pizza, in one family, as much as the great food festivals that Eid-ul-fitr, or Hanukkah would bring. It is good to have time away from work and school.

My favourite Christmas tail is below...Sady is grown up now - but it was a funny story. Not unlike Junosmom's windy tale of woe.

Bad apples

Every profession has its bad apples. Everyone I know has had some stress this season. Even the dang cats are grouchy - they want to be outdoors but cannot find their snowshoes.

I read a blog about a citizen in Ottawa trying to figure out what was going on in the street. She was watching Ottawa police intervene in a situation and found she was given a hard time for photographing an incident. (Go here to read & see photos. There is an up dated post, as well.) She was advocating for someone obviously in distress. It seems to me that this is only one instance of bullying tactics by our police forces. The problem is we do not laud those who do their jobs well. We give attention to those who do not. It is important to celebrate the positive as much as the negative in society.

What a story. It is so very different in small towns. We know and work with those on the force, or know someone who does, or live near someone who does. We know their names and their reputations. Most of our OPP do a phenomenal job.

This officer is not representative of all police officers. Let us hope this post will make a difference in the life of the victim and the officer to improve delivery of protective services.

Publishing photos, I always try to ask permission. The police want the photo erased.

Friday 19 December 2008

Snowmageddon in Muskoka 2008

pileated woodpeckerMuch snow yesterday, you can't see the other side of the lake (400 m). I love to look at the radar and figure out what is coming up. I have just found the Central Great Lakes radar, and the Buffalo (US) radar, to be interesting. We live near where it says, "Parry Sound" on the graphic below. Tons of Lake Effect Snow comes our way. The wind whipping the moisture up, up and away.

Toronto has had travel advisories and cancelled flights, with more snow forecast for tonight. I took a trip to the Post Office and slid around a bit, quite pleased with snow tires. Whew! The Post Mistress' car had a bit of a fender bender, parked, as it was, at the back of the place. The OPP Crime Alerts site is full of accidents, but many more Drinking & Driving incidents. What are they thinking?

There are roll overs, crashes, closed highways. Winter road condition information is available for southern and central Ontario.

There were 300 flights were cancelled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and more than 500 were cancelled at New York City-area airports. And 100,000 expected to go through Toronto's Pearson Airport. I feel badly for them. Hanging around in an airport sucks. No other word for it! Screaming kids, adults yelling into cell phones, then yelling at the kids, unhappy people anxious for family visits or warmer climes, irritable business people on laptops.

Me, I began a trip around the house - and came back for my snowshoes. The wind was whipping across my face, and I was glad of no yard duty today! I miss the holiday celebrations, the singing, class parties, staff parties of yesteryear!

I shovelled the dock - don't ask... and the path for the cats around the house, checked the bird feeders, and the shoreline. The water is open at the shore where it melts into the lake. It looks deceiving, though, and it is not very thick. Even the fox didn't venture out this morning- after 36 hours of wind and snow.

The cats are quite grumpy. I was on call for 6:00 a.m., and thought they could use some fresh air. Although Sady disappeared for a couple of hours in the dark this morning, she wants to be outdoors. Ollie decided to come out and help me shovel yesterday.

Brian tried to brush Sady and she scratched him.

After a trip outside, looking for their mice friends, the cats ask for a fire. They like to sit and stay warm at the hearth. They never help, though. You'd think they'd bring some wood in. Really.

Doom & Gloom

There is no question that there is far less reporting of news and more negative reports about what might or might not happen. I want to hear the good that is going on. The Transfer Payment Agencies that continue to support the poor, disabled, ailing seniors with dignity and grace. They continue to do the jobs that they do.

I want to hear of volunteers, such as Victim Crisis Volunteers (I am one) who go out wind, snow rain or hail, to help others.
I want to hear of the bold EMS crews that go to a scene where a victim of violence needs help.
I want to hear of small town people who are working together.

We are retired. Our stocks, as our home, is only worth what a buyer is prepared to buy. When we need to cash them in we will. We will get what we can. We are not going to complain and wail and gnash our teeth now. We are sitting on our stocks. We are cutting back where we need to and spending where we can to support local retailers. We refuse to buy in Wal-Mart, where demands for low cost items has resulted in cheap goods and materials being produced or outsourced to other countries.

I am turning off CBC news as it is becoming more editorializing than reporting of data, facts and information. It is defeating and diminishing to report (I use the term loosely) on what might happen. In fact, it is the fear of particular eventualities that has caused down turns in the stock market.

Mike Ewing mentioned the snow we have had overnight in Muskoka. No one else on CBC weather bothered to speak of it. We haven't called in the troops. We in Central and Northern Ontario are collateral damage in the navel gazing of CBC Toronto that does not bother to notice the other parts of Ontario. CBC Ottawa is better at covering regional news and events. A fair number of people must travel from 'away' to Toronto. Our weather reports are important. CBC TV weather refrains from mentioning the storm we have had over the past 24-hours. It was casually alluded to, but the 85,000 that live here are apparently unimportant.

As I said previously on my blog:
"Please, please: report the news, find information on the topic, tell me what is happening on town and city streets, Ontario, Canada and the world. But don't explore the Neverneverland of 'What Ifs', opinions and false and intolerant citizens. Find people you know who have the background, the research, the knowledge skills and expertise to interpret and understand what is going on in Canada. "

Wednesday 17 December 2008

truth & discourse

We cannot simply accept what we read on the WWW, or in other media, as truth.

Incorporating new data into practice requires filtering, development, adoption and the goodwill of all stakeholders. To simply accept data as knowledge is wrong. We must critically reflect on this information, and, with experience, wisdom, discourse we can move closer to truth and enlightenment.

Bloggers, I follow several folks: writers, journalists, and those who look at life around them. It open up my eyes to other person's experiences. It important to reflect on what we read here.

We must explore truth as we understand it, to come to a better understanding of ourselves and our world. We must question what we perceive as truth, take it out and hold it up to the light in the presence of others to approach enlightenment.

I find it both interesting and defeating that some bloggers cannot abide a difference of opinion and lack the wherewithal to accept that 'just because we don't see eye-to-eye doesn't mean that we can't walk arm-in-arm". My opinions have been changed by perspectives previously reflected in my ideas, life, experiences.

Fox in the snow

I arose to a dusting of snow today. Well, more than a dusting. But it was light as a feather. The cats burst out of the door. Oliver (the black cat) took off above the garage in the rafters, looking for his breakfast on the hoof.

Sady, our tabby, took her position on the deck in the snow. She's a tough cat, having treed a fisher our first year here. Somehow she ruffles up her fur the way the birds expand their feathers. It keeps the warmer air next to their skins and keep them warm. Mind you, at -10˚ C. it is tricky keeping warm at all.

I fed the last cat, Mitz, the only one remaining in the house and she took her position at the side of the dish. Reaching in she grabs a morsel in a claw and brings it to her mouth. My she has emotional issues! (A long story!)

I went and took my spot in my chair and began reading my e-mail and my blogs of the day. The wood stove hadn't heated up yet, but I opened the curtain partially, to foxlook out over the lake as I read.

Lo and behold, the fox went galloping by. It was such a beautiful sight. I was going to run for the camera, but decided that I would post last year's photo and simply enjoy the sight. Such bright red fur; loping across the thin ice. It cannot be any more than a few inches thick. Last week it was looking like puddles on a pond. They seem to know how far out to go. When the ice was about 15 m out it cut a path just a m or so out. The ice being thicker, it has more confidence.

The ducks and the geese have gone, as have the heron. The blue jays are busier than ever. The food fights have started at the feeders. We have 4 feeders up and running. I think, with 3 cats, we couldn't possibly be any more nuts. ('scuse the pun!)

I counted 5 squirrels vying for position at the bird feeder. The woodpeckers continue to hang off the feeder, upside down swinging like a pendulum. The raccoons have been in the semi-hibernation, I think, as they haven't been around for weeks. They are regular visitors.

The pileated woodpecker is so majestic. They bash away at the large tamarack digging orange-sized holes. But the wee downy and hairy woodpeckers have their place in the pecking order. Each creature has its purpose. The deck is a busy intersection. It is like our personal TV show, the only cost being the bird seed!

Sunday 14 December 2008

December in Muskoka

Santa is coming
This year Christmas will be quite different. I have photos and memories of family get-togethers. Me and me bro' putting out Santa's goodies...mostly I remember the music. Messiah is on the radio. How traditional! It brings back many memories.

This year is quite quiet in Muskoka. With freezing rain and unpredictable weather those who travel must be wary. The restaurants in our small town are closed, except for the pub. Our 3 local chefs taking a well-deserved break for winter.

Since we are alone, we decided to volunteer. I am on call for Muskoka Victim Services. Brian offered himself (he was actually volunteered!) to be Santa at a Long-Term Care residence. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a battle to be Santa, and we stepped aside to allow the other man to fill the role.

We continue to feed the birds. The pileated woodpecker makes a irregular appearance. It is so nourishing to see nature in the wild and to 'do no harm'.

We have opened our three presents; other presents have been donations on our behalf to organizations that need it. We delivered our meals on Wheels yesterday. It is good to know we make a difference - on a regular basis, not just once a year.

The Lake Effect snow continues, with blowing snow, alternating with clouds. The thermometer remains around the freezing point, and with the sun coming and going it is quite lovely outdoors. The squirrels & blue jays have extra rations of peanuts. I cannot tell if the fox went by this morning on its daily patrol, the snow is so icy that paw prints are indiscernible.

I pulled some wet snow off the roof in the pouring rain yesterday. The heavily laden evergreen branches were stuck to the roof. I think our roof is strong enough, but the branches should not be leaning and touching the roof. Our snow plow man has been by 9 times this month. We have had snow, rain, sleet or hail daily for weeks! Ah well, the sun is good to see today. It warms the cockles of the heart.

My Town Monday - rain on snow

Sady on snowHaving spent 2 1/2 hours shovelling a deck, bringing down snow from the roof covered with knee-deep snow, in anticipation of above freezing temperatures, I am quite tired. The rain is coming down and I worry about those who must drive in it.

Our snow cover overnight has gone down quite a bit. The lake looks more like a pond, having had snow cover for a couple of weeks. It is supposed to change back to snow this afternoon.

As the sun rises, the rain water melts the lake ice.

My video shows my snow-clearing progress! The birds nervously scold me away from their feeders as I work.

Random Acts of Kindness

This morning CBC featured a group trying to put a little love back into the world. Their Dec. 14th web post says,

"Darius Bashar is the site's co-founder. He joined guest host Karen Horman to talk about using social networks to make the world a better place...one act of kindness at a time. Learn more at the Daily Challenge website."
What an intriguing revision of the original RAK, on the RAK Foundation site. RAK has become a popular notion since its inception. An Amazon.ca search brought up 40 books on RAK.

I recall driving across a toll booth, one of the suggestions in the book I read (see image!), and paid for the person's car behind me. It was so much fun!

My students were right with me. We began complimenting each other and writing each other and found more and more websites with more ideas.

For parents I sent home: An Affirmation of our children.I practiced this in February in my classroom that year. I found a free poster and it encouraged us. It was a pleasant way to spend Valentine's Day week and provided writing activities.

A s I peruse the site, I have had some doubts, though. Some of the challenges seem to be far less that RAK, and more visions of the world as it could be. For example, they suggest turning off your computer when you leave work. What is with this? This should be a mandatory part of your day. Another: "drink at least a litre of water today". Really? That notion is outdated and has been determined to be unnecessary to one's health. How does that help another person? Or, "opt for more exercise today". I rather believe that the RAK ought to involve people in social situations.

Manners seem to be a thing of the past. I have blogged previously about this, with the lack of "Thank you", in society. During the radio interview Darius suggested that we say hello to the security guard, for example. I wonder if this should not be a part of daily practice?

It occurs to me that we are asking people to step up to the plate to be kind, when it is truly good manners. I adore my husband's manner in social, or business settings. On our 7th date he took me out. When we got out of the taxi he said to the driver, "Thank you, sir!" I was so impressed. Being uncertain of myself, not a user of taxis, I was a bit nervous. I realized what a simple, polite things we can do for everyone. The driver must have been around his age. I have tried to practice this simply idea since.

I make sure that I find a good thing to say to everyone I meet when provided with goods and services. It makes them a bit more friendly. I ask 'how are you today?" If they look a bit harried I try to reflect this back to them. I like to empathize if they appear overworked and tired. I often ask if their shift is nearly over. I worked as a cashier for two days a week and understand what customers can be like. I try to act positive when in the other position. It is not easy. Annie's Cafe always has people with a smile. I feel as if I am a special guest, not paying customer.

When I drive, I am not usually in a hurry and will slow down when conditions are ripe for them to pass or I will pull over to let speedy drivers pass. It seems only good manners and a safe way of being proactive. I cannot stand the incidents of road rage. There is no reason for it! I have often made a mistake driving and had a driver give me an ugly look (or finger) and have no way to apologize. People are quick to judge and consider me aggressive or berate me with their horn.

I think we all should simply act our age and not our shoe size. Show simple respect and treat others the way we would like to be treated. The seemingly old fashioned 'do unto others' would stand us all in good stead. The Ethic of Reciprocity is a good one, found in texts and religious precepts. Let us be kinder and happier. Make the choice.

Tristan's Gap

I decided to pick up a book Saturday afternoon, after a HOT bath! I snuggled under a quilt, with some Ovaltine. I was deeply moved by it.
Tristan's Gap

A novel for the modern God-seeking woman dealing with the issues of this millennium; her vision of God, her place in her world, her marriage, her family. It was a cliff hanger read, too. I could not put it down.

It is by Nancy Rue. Her web page and work with young Christians and now, adults, is impressive. It integrates modern technology with real life issues.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Canadian Automotive industry bailout

The headlines are scary.
TheStar.com | Canada | Ottawa pledges billions to avert auto meltdown
Ottawa pledges billions to avert auto meltdown

While I have blogged about this before (Automotive Bailout), I am still shocked. We need to put money into retooling, retraining, and creating viable industry that uses Canadian workers to produce goods and services that will maintain a standard of living. It is time to stop outsourcing and exploiting workers in other countries. Give the money to the workers who can form a collective and produce clean, toxin-free, reliable, environmentally safe products. I resent throwing good money after bad. We need to rethink and reinvent our economy based on the current situation.

If or when the bailout fails, so will the other industries, secondary and tertiary goods and services that support the industry and their workers.

We must invest in those who are interested in retraining. Poverty and ignorance can be ameliorated with supports in place to educate those in saving money and finding retraining and/or alternate work. A Toronto Star article, "The death and life of small Ontario towns", asks the question, "Do these places have a right to exist?" How nuts is that? They were created to help manufacturers pay small town wages and save the big bucks. Now, outsourcing is doing the same thing by moving to overseas sources of cheap labour. We need to reverse this, let the employees take a loan from the $billions destined for the automotive industry, and provide a thriving industry to small town Canadians. The town can create a board to manage plants, like the former Hershey factory. Surely, somebody can create solutions that will be long lasting and find a vision of this new millennium.

Smiths Falls, Ontario, is a case in point. Chuck Hudson, Community Development Officer, tells me that these job losses are caused mainly by the loss of three major employers, one of them being Hershey (the others are a provincial institution and Stanley Mechanics Tools factory).

The Hershey factory is moving production to Mexico where cheaper labour will help them make money. Ontarians should be more interested in providing fair wages for work and support local workers who have forged a good life in a small town. One comment on the above article says, as I do, that we should demand Fair Trade for Canadians. No handouts, but business loans and Transfer Payment Agencies to help workers manage their towns.