Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Suck It Up, Mr. Mayor

Rob Ford, Toronto City Councillor and candidat...
Image via Wikipedia

I haven't been a fan of Toronto's mayor, Mr. Rob Ford since I heard that he planned to balance his big city budget by  squeezing money out of the province.

I've been casting a wary eye across Lake Ontario ever since.

But it turns out it isn't his spending of my tax dollars that has me blogging about him,  it's the fact that so far he has refused to attend the Gay Pride Parade.

Now don't get me wrong, I think the Toronto Gay Pride Parade is way too raunchy.

And I don't think it does anything to unmarginalize, (if there is such a word), gays and lesbians.

Which is too bad, but it is what it is and my little blog won't change anything.

However I believe there is a lot more at stake than my embarrassment or Rob Ford's moral disapproval.

He is the mayor of Toronto, Canada's largest city.

A leader.

A symbol.

He doesn't need to march in the parade and look as if he approves of what is going on around him.

He needs to be there to show the world that the rights of all Canadians are protected regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or their ability to act silly in public.

So suck it up, Mr. Mayor.

This one's important.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Look Who's Votin' Green

So who is voting Green?

Some people answer 'it's not your grandmother's party'.

And I have to admit that there is some truth in that. 

My grandmother was not a Green Party member.

This photo of the registration table for last week's Niagara West - Glanbrook BBQ gives you a pretty good idea of the kinds of people who vote Green.

The young, the old, the in between.

Green Party people want to ensure that the next generation survives and thrives.

We're your neighbours.

Your children.

The guy next door.

Our provincial candidates, like Meredith Cross, seen here on the left,  are the best!

Our agenda?

1. creating jobs

2. ensuring safe, affordable energy

3. providing quality, sustainable health care

4. championing the move to have local food feed local communities

5. electing a government that works for the people

Join us

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Cougars Just Wanna Have Fun

Cougar / Puma / Mountain Lion / Panther (Puma ...                                                          Image via Wikipedia

Are there cougars in Pelham?

If you google that question you will find out that not only are there cougars in Pelham, there are cougars everywhere.

 And they are all looking for a date.

It used to be that you only had to worry about cougars jumping on your back and ripping your jugular open.

Now they want a bit of fun first.

I was walking on one of the trails in the Short Hills Provincial Park yesterday.

The Park is made up of many short, steep forested hills that were gouged out during the last ice age.  

 Flynn the dog was off her leash and trotting along in front of me.

I stopped when I saw something streak down one of the hills and disappear into the bush on my left. 

Short Hills is normally populated by white-tailed deer and coyotes.

This was different.

From a distance of maybe a hundred feet, the animal appeared about the height of an Irish wolfhound but sleeker and heavier.

Its speed was astonishing.

I have never seen an animal move that fast and my impression was that I had seen a dark shadowy premonition, a phantom, something not real, perhaps a Dean Koontz character that had escaped from one of his books.

It was an unnerving experience.

A twig snapped as Flynn and I stood there.

I did a full turn but we were alone in the forest.

Now that I have read about cougars, I wonder if I should have looked up into the trees.

Some people believe there is enough evidence to prove that cougars have returned to southern Ontario.

That is good news.

 But, jeesh, I hope their dinner dates all order the venison.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Uncouth in the Country

A photo from 1899 showing the use of toothbrush.Image via Wikipedia

This morning I was trying to get my elderly father out the door and to the dentist's office to get his few remaining choppers cleaned.
Going to town is a change in his routine, and therefore an occasion of great distress for him.

His  life is generally very quiet.
Oh we get visits from neighbours and relatives and the odd politician happens by during an election - but very few strangers turn up on our doorstep.  We don't even get Hallowe'en candy seekers.

So it was a surprise to hear a knock at about 9:30 this morning.

I was in the bathroom but I heard Flynn the dog start her 'stranger danger' barking and her  'stranger danger' house cat chasing.
I emerged from the bathroom with a mouthful of toothpaste and bumped noses with Dad who was waiting for me to come out and deal with the crisis.

Wielding my electric toothbrush with the extra soft bristles as a weapon, I headed for the front door. 
Struggling to keep Flynn back with one hand  I lurched through the door and found two righteous looking ladies standing on my porch.
One of the women waved a pamphlet under my nose that bore the words, "Are Humans Destroying the World" printed against a background of Hellish looking flames.
"Why yes," I put a hand on one hip and tapped my chin thoughtfully with my toothbrush.
 "I believe they are." 

I leaned over and studied the pamphlet  to make sure they weren't from the Green Party and accidentally drooled toothpaste on it.
Just then my father who was wearing his boxers but wasn't wearing his false teeth, started banging at the window, shaking his cane and gumming at me to hurry.
Without saying a single word, the Righteous nervously retreated from the porch and down the driveway.
"Thanks for dropping by," I called out to them.
But they never even turned around.
Only the couth get saved I guess.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Little Girls, Candy and Political Subsidies

When I was about eight years old, I belonged to a church group called 'Explorers'.
And before you ask - no, I never knew a Dora who was an Explorer.

One year the Explorers were fundraising for something, converting the heathens in Japan I think, judging by the number of missionaries who turned up in the church showing off  kimonos.
Anyway, the plan was that one Tuesday night the church would unleash thirty or forty chocolate bar selling little girls into the community .

The more 60 cent chocolate bars that we Explorers sold, the more souls in Japan would be saved.
My best friend Jane and I were pumped!
God's warriors!

I actually think we sold a few before we ate one.

The succumbing to temptation presented several problems because things were quite different in those days.  

First, although It was considered perfectly safe for a little girl to knock on a stranger's door it would have been very unusual for her to have any money in her pocket.
And we didn't have a penny between us.

Second was the moral problem - and I must tell you that what happened next haunts me to this very day. 

We had to sell twelve more chocolate bars, each for an extra nickel.
Oh, the guilt!

 I still expect that one day someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say, "About that chocolate bar you sold me in 1957 ..."

I mention this so that you understand that I am not without fundraising experience and understand something of its perils and pain.

 And I believe that qualifies me to make a statement about the Federal Conservative Party phasing out  of the $2 per-vote subsidy.

Did you realize that every vote you cast in past elections sent $2.04 of your tax dollars to the political party of your choice? 

That subsidy funded much of our political system.

Now the parties will need to fund raise for everything. 
Fine for the powerful Conservative Party with their majority government that so few of us actually voted for, not so fine for everyone else.

My thought is that what goes around comes around and someday the voters will get tired of all of this mean spiritedness and the Tories will be gone.

By then the other parties will have learned to survive without the subsidy.

In the meantime be nice to that old lady in the Green Party t-shirt selling candy bars at your door.

It might be me.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

June Opined

"If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there ...

For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there"

Scott McKenzie, San Francisco

What can I say about this except that I will always associate flowers
with 1967, 'the summer of love',
 which didn't actually arrive in Canada until 1972.

"In the spring, at the end of the day,
you should smell like dirt."
Margaret Atwood

The petal of this iris looks alive.

It looks like what I imagine the skin of a stingray looks like -
although I'm sure no self respecting sting ray would be
decked out in white with mauve accessories.

“How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrid, and dreadful.
 But this picture will remain always young.

It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . .
 If it was only the other way!

If it was I who were to be always young,
and the picture that were to grow old!

For this--for this--I would give everything!
 Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give!" 

Spring seems to be a time for many writers and poets to lament their lost youth.
And I must say it isn't easy getting old.

Catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror someplace by accident,
I often wonder who the old lady is.

But the memory doesn't last. 
I forget quickly

and then wonder who the old lady is when I pass the next mirror.


"It is dry, hazy June weather.
We are more of the earth,
farther from heaven these days."
Henry David Thoreau

Well ain't that the truth.

"Of all the wonders of nature,
 a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable;
 with the possible exception of a moose singing
 "Embraceable You" in spats."

I'm not a big Woody Allen fan,
but I must say he does have a way with words.

" Summer makes me drowsy.
Autumn makes me sing.
Winter's pretty lousy,
but I hate Spring."

Dorothy Parker

Maybe she had allergies.
Maybe she hated to see the hockey season end.
Maybe she hated gardening.
Maybe she hated to see everyone else so happy.
Maybe she hated reruns.
Maybe she hated rain.
Maybe her husband left her in early June.
Maybe her husband returned in early June.
Maybe she just made that up.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful month of June, everyone!

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

This'll Kill Ya

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31:  A man speaks on his mo...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

There was an out-break of diphtheria in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada in 1976.
I was living in the Yukon at the time and remember the wave of fear that rolled across the North.

The hospital in Whitehorse quickly announced that a special clinic would be held for anyone who wished to be inoculated.

I suppose they should have known what was going to happen.
After all, the North has a large indigenous population and the Aboriginal people haven't forgotten how their ancestors were almost wiped out in earlier epidemics.
 The rest of us had parents or grandparents who remembered a time before there was a vaccine. It is a deadly disease.

The next day after work I joined the procession of people wanting to be vaccinated.
As our endless line of quiet, frightened souls shuffled forward, a doctor, probably cranky because he was missing his supper, came out of the clinic and stood on the porch looking at us.
Suddenly he put his hands on his hips and shouted, "GO HOME! IT ISN'T ALWAYS FATAL!"

Thirty-five years later I had a 'deja vu all over again' kind of a feeling when I read  Monte Sonnenbergs editorial, Benefits of cell phones far outweigh the risks, St. Catharines Standard, Thursday, June 2

Though the disease in question isn't diphtheria - it's brain cancer,

and the problem isn't that it is contagious, it's the fact that more and more studies are linking brain cancer to cell phone use,

the message to suck it up and quit worrying is the same.

Here is a little bit of Mr. Sonnenberg telling us to 'go home because it isn't always fatal':

TheWorld Health Organization study says the incidence of certain types of brain cancer has doubled over the past twenty years for regular users of cell phones in Scandinavia.
However, even if the rate in this part of the world has doubled, it still represents a very small percentage of the population...

Not everyone who comes down with brain cancer dies of the disease.

Gee, thanks, Mr. Editor.
We feel so much better now.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Gay Month of June

Toronto Gay Pride Parade 2006. Gay Pride Parad...Image via Wikipedia

It's Gay Pride month and this year I'm not going to complain about Toronto's annual parade, (Toronto's Gay Pride Parade - a Commentary from Somewhere in the Middle Class 6/25/10.)

But, me being me, I am going to make a comment.

A few years ago an old friend got in touch with me via face book.

She told me that she teaches at a College in California now but was coming to Canada for family reasons and then she asked if I would meet her and her female partner for coffee.

Her female partner?

I had to do a quick mind adjustment. 

A. is a lesbian?

And what did that mean anyway as far as friendship and memories go?

Nothing, I realized.

A friend is a friend.

We met at Tim Horton's and it felt like 1966 again.  We hugged and laughed and I liked A.'s partner as soon as we met. 

She is so warm and motherly you can practically smell fresh cookies baking when you are with her.

We spent some time catching up but not all of the stories we shared were happy. 

I was shocked to hear A.'s life story after we lost track of each other and until she met her present partner and came out. 

My heart ached for my old friend.

Everyone has the right to acceptance and equality.

My wish is that someday, if one is lucky enough to find a life partner, it will be the kindness and decency of the person that matter to others and not his or her gender.

My best wishes go out to the Gay and Lesbian community during their month of celebration.

Just behave yourselves at the parade, okay?

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Women Drivers

Headscarf fashionImage by ozgurmulazimoglu via Flickr

Manal Al Sharif, a 32 year old Saudi Arabian divorced mother of one spent nine days in jail recently because she dared to post a video of herself driving a car.
She was released this week by Saudi officials and warned not to drive and not to encourage other women to drive. 

It isn't as if she can get together with her friends and vote to change things.

Women are not allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia either.

As usual I was outraged by this latest injustice until I read a comment by Mahal Akeer, a critic of her country's patriarchal customs and realized that I have to keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is not Canada.
Ms Akeer said, "... we are not asking for women's rights according to western values and lifestyles ... we want things according to what Islam says."

I have absolutely no idea what an egalitarian Islamic society would look like but I do know that what the Quran says about women is not the same as what Sharia Law says.  Thank heavens.

We should support and tell the stories of women like Manal Al Sharif as they struggle to find their voices within their own society.

And you never know, we might learn something about true equality along the way...

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