Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Janie Canuck, Hallowe'en Crime Fighter

The above picture is the only known photo of Janie Canuck, Hallowe'en Crime Fighter.

Her fearsome costume strikes, well ..., 'fear' into the hearts of would-be candy thieves.


Thousands of letters pour in each year from all regions of Canada, thanking her and asking for more information about her super powers.


So for what it is worth, boys and girls, here is the little I have been able to learn about this well known but elusive heroine:


Her chapeau:  Janie Canuck really, really, really wants one of those big, red, rubber maple leaf hats but for now she is stuck with  wears this three pronged toque.

Her cape: The rumour that her cape of invincibility flies on a flag pole somewhere in Southern Ontario the rest of the year, it totally false.

Her breast plate:  Janie Canuck still believes in the blue and white.

The pants that gird her powerful loins:  red flannel pjs cunningly adorned with pictures of little white moose.

Magic mukluks:  These enable her to fight Hallowe'en crime wherever it occurs.

They can transport her in the twinkling of an eye from Tuktoyaktuk to Moose Jaw  to the Gaspé to St. John's.


What a gal!

So on behalf of all Canadians I I'd like to take this opportunity to say,

Thanks Janie Canuck!

(And to wish everyone a Happy Hallowe'en!)


Monday, October 29, 2012

What? Me Worry?

Another view of the debris of broken houses, s...
Another view of the debris of broken houses, showing the power of the Humber River during Hurricane Hazel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just sitting here waiting for Hurricane Sandy to come barrelling through Niagara.

Am I worried?

Are you kidding? 
I still haven't recovered from Hurricane Hazel.

And since 1954 I've had lots of time to worry about other things, i.e., nuclear holocaust, botulism, swine flu,  bird flu, anthrax, hornets, mercury poisoning, high blood pressure, wild mushrooms, electrocution, terrorists, cancer, the return of TB, the return of SARS, plane crashes, Stephen Harper, global warming, rabid raccoons and head lice.


But I try to keep a lid on it. 

If you met me, you might not realize what a seething cauldron of anxiety I am behind this calm-ish exterior.


Recently I learned that is all because the amygdala.

Your amygdala is the part of your brain that sends warnings to you when danger is close. 
For example during the Zombie Apocalypse it will say, "Lock your door!"

And interestingly enough, according to the book I'm reading, a person's tendency to be neurotic is inherited, which for me is a huge relief that it isn't just something that I developed on my own.

The book is called Quirk, Brain Science Makes Sense of Your Peculiar Personality  by Hannah Holmes.

(It is quite funny, the author herself being an anxious neurotic.  She believes there is an evolutionary reason why some people have worry genes and some don't.)

Anyway, today while I wait for the water of Lake Ontario to rise and sweep St. Catharines into Hudson's Bay, I'm going to be curled up on the couch reading Quirk, secure in the knowledge that I'm not the only one wearing a bathing suit.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dereen's Little Girl

It took a second for me to recognize the beautiful, young woman with the strong, friendly face who was walking towards me saying my name.
I had promised myself that I wouldn't cry, but I did. 

Meghan Hildebrand's late  mom was an artist in the Yukon and a good friend of mine.

And I hadn't seen Meghan, who now lives in Powell River, BC with her husband, since she was a child.
Today Meghan is a successful artist whose work is carried by Mayberry Fine Art which operates out of Toronto and Winnipeg.
This week-end she was in Toronto because two of her pieces were being shown at the Toronto International Art Fair.

My first reaction, which hasn't changed, was  "How powerful!"
There is an abundance of life and passion in these pictures.


I was pleased when the gallery owner brought out two more of her paintings and set them on the floor for me to see.
All I could think of was a day many years ago in Dawson City, Yukon.
I was talking to her mom while she worked and at the same time I watched Meghan who was using one of her mom's brushes to do her own painting.
She wasn't even old enough to walk.
She went on to study art at the Kootenay School of Fine Arts in Nelson, BC and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.

I'm someone who likes details. 
This is a detail from the picture in the bottom left.
(apologies for my bad photography)
She takes her themes from the quilt and the river.
You can read women's history and B.C. politics into her work or you can simply take pleasure in the intense joy of each picture. 

Here we are just before I had to leave.

It was a wonderful day

and I wish I could tell her mom all about it.


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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lady Pens

This is just too funny.  If you haven't seen it watch Ellen go after the company that asked her to advertise lady pens.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Small Haunting

A 14-year-old domestic servant, Therese Selles...
A 14-year-old domestic servant, Therese Selles, experiences poltergeist / spontaneous PK activity in the home of her employer, the Todeschini family at Cheragas, Algeria, as featured on the cover of the French magazine La Vie Mysterieuse in 1911. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The first visitation happened one day when the girl was in her 14th year.

She had gone to her room  and was looking at herself in the mirror while she brushed her hair.

Gradually she became aware of an eerie clicking sound.

It was as if she was hearing a far away room full of people tapping away at manual typewriters.

The intensity of the clicking grew and, puzzled, she stopped what she was doing.

Suddenly the tail end of the comb which had been sitting on the dresser in front of her rose in the air until it stood erect at a 45 degree angle. 

The heavier end of the comb, the part with the teeth, still rested on the dresser.

Terrified, she dropped the brush and ran down to the kitchen to find the safety of her mother's presence. 

The girl was extremely innocent. 

It wasn't until many years after it happened that she realized the sexual nature of her first encounter with a poltergeist.

A true story.



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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Do Banshees Have Big Feet?

Normally I like to flaunt my Scottish heritage around Halloween.

Especially my great grandmother MacPherson who had the second sight. 


MacPherson!  What a great name!

My mother used to tell me that no matter where they live in the world, whenever a MacPherson dies the banshees wail.

Unfortunately, because of what I learned this week I'm afraid the banshees won't wail for me. 

If I'm lucky they might hum a few bars of "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean".


You see yesterday I read that there is a difference between Celtic feet and Saxon feet.

You can read the article here.


Saxon feet are narrow and pointed with the toes descending neatly in size from big toe to smallest toe while Celtic feet are wider, square-ish and often have  the second toe longer than the big toe.


After I read that article I whipped off my shoes and socks and gazed in horror at my skinny, pointed feet.

I don't want to be a Saxon!


Oh  sure they looked good in chain mail, but those metal buckets they wore on their heads!


Anyway, I have decided that even though I have the feet of a Saxon I surely must have the soul of a Celt.
Especially on Hallowe'en.

I hope the Banshees are good with that.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Moderate Canadian Muslims, I'm Not Feeling the Love

Gay muslims
Gay muslims (Photo credit: hebedesign)

Recently a friend forwarded an e-mail to me.

A day later he wrote and told me he was sorry that he had forwarded it as he now realized that it was hate mail against Muslims.

I've added the letter to the end of this post and you can make your own decision.

Here is what I think:

We Canadians suffer greatly from an abundance of politeness compounded by the current social pressure to be politically correct. 

Things like this letter are as hard for us to navigate as a four corner stop.

But the truth is that I agree with Dr. Tanay, (the supposed writer), - our strongest defence against radical Islam is moderate Islam.

I applaud the people of Pakistan, the moderate, peaceful Muslims, who have risen up in protest against  the Taliban over the shooting of Malala Yousufzai, the 14 year old who advocates education for girls.

But getting back to the letter, I don't believe Dr. Tanay, an American, wrote the last part about Toronto schools. 

And that is the part of the letter that moves into the realm of hate mail.

Yes rooms have been put aside for Muslim prayers in some Ontario schools and it is true the Lord's Prayer is no longer recited in our Public School System, but it is my understanding that the prayer rooms can also be used by Christian students or Jewish students or any other group of spiritually inclined students.

I do not have a problem with prayer rooms. 

I do have a problem with Muslim girls sitting at the back and menstruating girls not being allowed to take part.

And I have written about this situation more than once.


It isn't easy being who we are - a polite, tolerant, just, compassionate and multi-cultural society.

But I think we owe it to those who went before us and sacrificed so much
to continue the struggle for equality, balance and fairness in a world that often is cruel and indifferent.

And the voice of moderate Muslim Canadians needs to be heard.
Here is the letter:

The author of this email is Dr. Emanuel Tanya, a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist.

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates.

When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'

We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace

and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.

Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant.

It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.

It is the fanatics who march.

It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide.

It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave.

It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor-kill.

It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque.

It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals.

It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people.

The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China 's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist.

Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing

that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery.

Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points: Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany,

they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts--the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on!

Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on - before it's too late.

Now Islamic prayers have been introduced into Toronto and other public schools in Ontario, and,

yes, in Ottawa too while the Lord's Prayer was removed (due to being so offensive?)

The Islamic way may be peaceful for the time being in our country until the fanatics move in.


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Monday, October 15, 2012

Honouring a Hero

Things didn't go exactly as I planned on Saturday.
First, I was late arriving at Queenston Heights for the reenactment of the famous 1812 battle.
AND every last one of the 15,000 attendees stood directly in front of me.
I didn't see a thing. 
As far as I knew General Brock might have been able to dodge the American sniper's bullet this time.

The only thing I saw was some of the cast of 22 Minutes suddenly materialize in from of me.

(22 Minutes is a satirical Canadian news show.)

I watched Shaun Majumder interview an Iroquois warrior.

If they use any of the clips, they will be on TV Tuesday night.

Then, when I was chatting up these handsome fellows my camera battery died and it started to rain.

I went home grumpy.

The nexr day was better.

I arrived in front of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Court House early.

General Isaac Brock's body was lying in it's coffin beside the body of  his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonnell.

There were a few speeches about the War of 1812 and how nice it is that we are friends with the Americans now, then two horses pulling flat bed carts pulled up in front of the coffins.

General Brock's beloved horse Alfred followed.
(Okay it isn't the real Alfred.  There are horse reenactors too.)

We heard the sound of flutes and drums as the funeral procession marched towards the Court House.

British soldiers marched in the lead.

The Canadian Militia followed. 

Many of us in this area had ancestors who fought in the Militia.

Tecumseh survived the Battle of Queenston Heights.* (see comment section for correction)

200 of his warriors were in Brock's funeral procession.

After the warriors passed, Brock's casket was carefully loaded onto the cart. 

Notice the modern military presence.  When one of the reenactors in the uniform of a British officer walked by the soldier he saluted and the man saluted back.

It was very eerie.

As if we'd passed through a portal in time briefly.

More British soldiers followed the cart.

Finally the women, elders and children walked to the funeral to honour General Brock. 

"I well remember the day General Brock ... was killed.  I was at the funeral. I remember hearing the muffled drum and seeing the soldiers standing in line and the bands marched between the two lines of soldiers as the body was carried ... to Fort George and was buried there.  While the American flag at Fort Niagara was at half mast."

Elizabeth Quade

It was an amazing week-end. 

A job well done by reenactors from both sides of the border.
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Handy Information

The problem with socks is that when two go into the washing machine, sometimes, very mysteriously, only one comes out.

 I don't feel that we have much control over socks. 

They are a law unto themselves.

Gloves on the other hand are easier to understand because over thousands of years they have become domesticated.

In fact if they are lost, chances are you'll get home and know exactly where you left them.   

Unfortunately it is usually a place to which  you can't easily or quickly return.

And because gloves have no morals, getting them back the next day is a lost cause.

They will go home with any stranger who picks them up.

In the above picture you can see Flynn standing guard over my new winter gloves. 

I wore them outside this morning.

It is 5 p.m. and

I still have them!!

What a great start to the season!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Judging Others

I watched this video (above) by Sam Harris on TED the other day.

He was speaking about how science can be used to answer moral questions.

He believes that we have the right to judge other cultures. 

He assures us that is not only okay to say that a nation that doesn't allow women to vote or a culture that keeps its women "in cloth bags" and cuts out their clitorises is immoral, it is right for us to speak out against such practices.

And he teaches us how to justify our stand scientifically.

My first reaction was one of hope.  "Maybe with a person like Sam Harris in the lead we are actually moving forward," I thought.

But something has been bothering me about the video and it grows with each passing day.

And it is the fact that he assumes we all have to be convinced of this and that we need to stand behind science.

Only men need to be convinced that it is right to speak against a culture that practices something like female genital mutilation.

That one complaint aside, I really enjoyed his talk. 
He is a wonderful speaker and the video is not long.



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Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Pilgrim

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...
English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Puritans and Pilgrims, (the former wished to stay within the English fold, the latter were Separatists), arrived in North America in 1620. 

The painting By Jennie A. Brownscombe, (above), done in 1914 is called The First Thanksgiving.
It shows healthy, clean settlers a year after the landing gathered in a lovely meadow in front of a cosy cabin. 
The table is heavily laden with the fruits of their labours while a docile group of native warriors sits like happy, grateful children in the background.


The truth is that the Puritans and Pilgrims blundered about for years, always on the edge of starvation. 
They managed to unfriend many of the aboriginal people whose land they were expropriating and they argued incessantly with each other and with their English overlords over theology and money. 

And if you've ever thought that you might have enjoyed being a part of that fun little group please remember that they are the same people who left us the legacy of the Salem witch trials.


But hey, I'm not here to spoil your Thanksgiving week-end!

If you are Canadian, eat, drink, be merry for the harvest is gathered.

And be thankful that beef was recalled this week, not turkey.

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