Monday, March 28, 2011

Not a Beaver Joke

Flag of Canada over country contourImage via Wikipedia

Did you hear the one about the Brit, the American and the Canadian?

It usually starts with the Brit and the Yank boasting

 about their history, technology, weapons, size, etc.,

and ends with the Canadian boasting about beavers.

Or moose.

Or lumberjacks.

Or Mounties.

(Okay, okay, it's usually beavers.)

Anyway this one is different.

It starts with a poke at the English and the Americans

and then sets us up for the usual humorous punch-line-at-our-own-expense.

But there is a goofy twist at the end of this joke that made me laugh.

(I've included the original joke in the link at the bottom, but I like this version better.) 


I figure that as this is the start of the first full week

of Federal election campaigning and mud slinging everyone could use a laugh today.

Many thanks to my 'oldest' friend Jane G. for forwarding.


After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Brits, American archaeologists dug to a depth of 20 feet and found traces of 250-year-old copper wire.  They concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British.

One week later the Canadian Department of Mines and Resources reported that amateur archaeologist Jack Lucknow of Thunder Bay, Ontario dug to a depth of 30 feet and found absolutely sweet fuck all.

 They concluded that 250 years ago Canada had already gone wireless.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Secnarf - The Only Candidate Who Looks Like a Cabinet Minister

A while back, Secnarf the Independent Rhino candidate from North Pelham took over my face book wall during the controversy over the opening of the DSBN Academy in Niagara. I thought I would check in with her again because of the upcoming Federal election. This is a transcript of our interview.

Francie: Let's start with your political affiliation. You do know that the Rhinoceros Party of Canada is defunct?

Secnarf: It exists in the hearts of all true Canadians.

Francie: Those old enough to remember it I suppose.

Ayway, there is a rumour going around North Pelham that you bought a cigarette from Betty McGlashan for a looney so that you could look tough like Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda.

Secnarf: It is a lie. I offered her a looney but she gave it to me for free.

Francie: Okay. Let's talk about your policy.

You have said that if elected you will allow women to vote twice to make up for the years when they weren't allowed to vote at all and you have promised to take all of the calories out of chocolate cake.

Do you have anything else to add to your platform as we move into the next Federal election?

Secnarf: Yes, if I am elected I promise that I will move the head office of Bell Canada to North Pelham so that the CEO and other top Bell Canada executives can enjoy the same dial up Internet service that we rural Canadians enjoy now.

Francie: Why are you dressed like a pirate?

Secnarf: I'm not dressed like a pirate.

Francie: Not only are you dressed like a pirate, your t-shirt says, "Pirate Party of Canada."

Secnarf: (holds up a mirror) Jeesh. This happens whenever I talk about Bell Canada.

Francie: Well I have to run. Thanks for your time, Secnarf.

We'll be in touch throughout the election.

Any last words for today?

Secnarf: Yes. Can I have my pirate hat back?

Vote Secnarf

The only candidate who looks like a cabinet minister
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Green in Hudakville

Meredith Cross - Duchene speaks at the Green Party nomination meeting.

I didn't expect much from the meeting last night to elect the Niagara West - Glanbrook Green Party representative for the next provincial election as NW - G is the home riding of Tim Hudak, leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario.

I also didn't expect to find the room at the Beamsville Library jammed with people.

It was a shot in the arm. Very exciting.

Meredith Cross-Duchene had introduced herself by phone to everyone the day before so I was at least familiar with one of the people interested in carrying the Green banner next October in the Provincial election.

The candidates spoke and Meredith, who is studying chemistry at University, was asked how she thought she would be able to manage her life in the event of a win.

"Well," she said with a big wicked grin, "If I happen to crush Tim Hudak ...."

The crowd laughed and she waited patiently before she told us her plans.

Munchies while we waited for the votes to be counted.

It was said half in jest.

We must always keep in mind that angry Ontario voters have been known to turn their backs on the old parties.

We are ready.

And our candidate, Meredith Cross Duchene is ready.

So join us. 

For a change.


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March Crazy

Yesterday I found this daffodil. 

I couldn't believe my eyes but there it was,

 tucked right against the wall of the museum.

Oh happy days!

Then I saw the sign outside the feed store in North Pelham.

And of course we all know what season it is

 when the tough ducks go shopping for new clothes!

But that was yesterday.

This is today.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Man Talk

Dad and great granddaughter, Cora, last Father's Day

After my mother lost her battle with Alzheimer's a few years ago, I sold my house and moved into my dad's farm to look after him.

Now I have to tell you that it has been years since I've shared a house with a male person and one tends to forget how their minds work.

Last week I was taking Dad someplace in the spy car.

Flynn-the-dog was in the back seat.

Dad was telling me that my brother, Ian, is looking to buy a retirement property just outside of Timmons.

"Sh-t!" said Dad suddenly in the middle of his monologue, "I forgot to ask Roger about Doug Wells!"

(Roger is the farmer down the road who ploughs Dad's driveways in the winter in exchange for the use of the land.)

I thought, "Doug Wells, Doug Wells ... Who the heck is Doug Wells?"

"I think Ian is going to need a pick and a shovel," he said peering at me with such ferocious eyebrow knitting that I became alarmed.

I wasn't finding any connection between my brother who lives in Moose Factory, Ontario, Roger the farmer down the road and the stranger Doug Wells.

"But I don't know anything about them." Dad sounded worried as he turned to look out the window.

Flynn-the-dog sensing his distress, whimpered.


I was starting to think that Doug Wells was part of some terrible gang and my brother in Moose Factory was going to have to defend himself with a special pick and shovel he could only get from Roger the farmer down the road.

"This is getting scary, Dad," I said.

"Yeah, he agreed, "but I think Roger has a dug one."

Clickety, clickety, clickety clack, I could feel the pieces falling into place.

Not Doug Wells - dug wells.

My brother needed a dug well as opposed to a drilled well on his property.

I laughed so hard I almost put the spy car in the ditch.


Can't men ever say what they mean?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Needed - a Thousand Paper Cranes for Japan

Anyone who has wept over the true story 'Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes', by Eleanor Coerr knows the Japanese legend:

If you make a thousand paper cranes your wish will come true.

The first time I read the story to a grade five class, my students were so moved by ten year old Sadako who died from the effects of the fallout, (i.e., leukemia), after World War II, they decided to organize a school wide Remembrance Day project that would involve making and sending 1000 paper cranes to the Peace Shrine in Hiroshima.

You see, Sadako's wish was to live. She made 644 paper cranes before she became too weak to fold the paper.

After she died her family and classmates finished her task and buried the 1,000 cranes with her.

One thousand paper cranes is a lot and some of the ones from my school were made by such tiny fingers, I was worried that the people in Hiroshima would be offended.

But of course they understood, children from around the world were sending them paper cranes because it was 1984 and the Doomsday Clock was set to 11:57 p.m.*

Then, miraculously, within a few years of thousands of 'peace' cranes arriving in Hiroshima, the Cold War was over and the Doomsday Clock was set back to 11:43 p.m.

The logical conclusion is that the legend of the paper cranes is true. 

* The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic clock face, maintained since 1947 by the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago.

Unfortunately, it is presently set at 11:54 p.m.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

How To Become a Pirate

Flag of pirate Edward EnglandImage via Wikipedia

Did you watch Market Place last week?

Ostensibly it was a humorous search for Canada's worst cell phone bill.

More pathetic than humorous, I'm afraid.

The three finalists were all people caught in a conglomerate nightmare, either because they had not understood their contract with Bell, Telus or Rogers or because fate had dealt them a bad hand.

The 'winner' had a $17,000.00 cell phone bill with Bell.

He had taken his cell phone to Moscow on his 'trip of a lifetime' and had not understood the consequences of using it while abroad.

Bell said it was his fault.

I agree 100% and his bill should have been, well, (I'm being generous to Bell here, just in case there are some hidden costs I don't know about), $74. 99.

The cost to Bell was $4.00.

Where does Bell get off charging $17,000.00 for something that cost them $4.00?

After Market Place appeared on the scene they lowered the bill to $5,000.00

So kind.

Makes you want to run away and join a pirate ship or something.

Well now you can.

Yes, you can become a pirate!

You can get your own pirate t-shirt 


fight the Ship of Corporate Greed

by joining the

(which I first read about in Doug Jamieson's 'Geezer online' blog. 

Here's a little blurb I lifted, (probably illegally), from the manifesto of The Pirate Party of Canada:

"Private monopolies lead to excessive prices and large hidden costs... 

The monopolist’s goal is to avoid fair market price and healthy competition, where as the free marketers focus is on price and quality for the benefit of the consumer...

We aim to limit the abuses committed by such monopolies."

Shiver me timbers, matey!

It's worth a read, so just click on the link above or google 'Pirate Party of Canada'.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Best Birthday Present

My father's 87th birthday is Monday. 

His sister Jean sent him this pair of socks made by my grandmother who passed away in 1983.

I'm not sure how my aunt stored them, but they are so soft and colourful they seem fresh off my grandmother's knitting needles.

The doctor didn't prescribe 'one pair of socks knit by your mom' but she should have.

They worked! 

He's a happy camper today.

What a great present!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

REAL Women and the F Word

Marlene JenningsImage via Wikipedia
Marlene Jennings

There is a motion that has been put forward by Montreal Liberal MP, Marlene Jennings that would have taxpayers give political parties a few extra bucks based on the percentage of women they manage to get elected to Parliament.

Because I suspect that we are moving into desperate times I am in favour of anything that will get more women into government.

So when I saw that the Niagara Falls Review had posted an article about this Bill, (Bill C-552),  I read it with great interest.

I also read the comments.

I must tell you, my comment was the only one in favour of the motion.

The majority of the comments came from REAL women and I was shocked at how many of them used the 'f' word.

Now my New Year's Resolution was to look for common ground with people and groups whose beliefs make me uncomfortable so I decided to check out REAL Women of Canada, (Realistic, Equal, Active Living).

This is what I found:

"Before women can have equality with men, we must first have equality among ourselves and this means a tolerance and respect for the differing views of other women.

This also means a recognition, not only of the dignity of the individual, but also for the fact that women have always required more than just one voice to speak for our concerns."


I almost took out a lifetime membership.

However REAL Women wants to tighten divorce laws, is not pro-choice in the abortion debate, is homophobic and anti-union, doesn't seem overly sympathetic towards single moms, is against legalizing prostitution, etc. etc.

But what really shocked me was the way they bandied about that darn old 'f' word.

When asked if her organization approved of Ms Jennings' effort to bring more women to Parliament Hill, Gwen Lanolt, representing REAL Women, said, "What they are really saying is that they want more ...

Get ready for the 'f' word...



She added, "And most of these ...

here it comes again ...


(gasp again)

don't utter a word that most women would agree with."

What happened to our common ground, Gwen - the part where we tolerate and respect the views of other women and the dignity of individuals?


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Monday, March 7, 2011

Some Thoughts About International Women's Day

In 1911 International Women's Day was marked for the first time on March 19th  

in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

In addition to the right to vote and to hold public office, 

women demanded the right to work and the right to vocational training.

It is difficult for those of us who have always been able to vote

to believe there are places in the world where women have no voice.

This is Iran.

This is bravery.

This is the country where a government sniper shot a young woman through the heart

during a protest march.

The world watched her death on YouTube.

Egypt is a country where 91% of the women are subject to some form of genital mutilation.

Recent events have been hopeful.  

This young woman calling for change was on the street with thousands of other women.

This demonstration in Montreal was for the

600 missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.

Were any of those women my students?

They were in someone's class, someone's family...

Women had a voice at the G20 Summit protests in Toronto.

I know the message to

think globally and act locally

has been said ten bizzillion times

but now more than ever it is do-able because of

facebook, twitter, YouTube, etc.

Women, men and children rally at the

 'Take Back the Night March' in St. Catharines last year.

Take Back the Night began in the US in 1975

 and the first march took place in Canada in Vancouver in 1978.

This march to end violence against women is now held around the world.


What can you do?

If you belong to an organization that doesn't accept that

women are different but equal,

then talk change.

You are more influential than you think.

Vigilantly guard the rights that women have in Canada.

Under no circumstances,


 no matter who tells you otherwise,

should Sharia Law gain a toe hold in this country.

Times are changing and not for the better.

The gap between the rich and the poor is growing.

Political parties tend to listen to big money.

Unions that used to have money and clout

and represented the interests of the middle and working classes and women 

are slowly dying, becoming ineffectual and voiceless.

So vote.

Support politicians who are willing to speak for and protect women and children.

Tell our stories.

Support women here and in other places.

Keep in touch.


note: I took all the photos from the Internet, most were posted by fliker although the last one is likely from the St. Catharines Standard.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hey, That Ain't Chocolate Moose

Photo of Dawson City, Yukon, taken by Michael ...Image via Wikipedia

Many years ago the principal of Robert Service School in Dawson City, Yukon quit a few days before school was to open in September.

While the search was on for a permanent replacement, the art and home economics teacher was appointed acting principal for six weeks and I was hired to fill her position.

The art I was qualified to teach.

The home economics, maybe not.

In those days I knew how to fry an egg and in a pinch had been known to open a box of frozen fish and chips.

But I was fresh out of Teacher's College and wanted desperately to land my first job so I lied hinted to the superintendent that I was the Yukon's answer to Julia Child.

"What are the chances I'll have to cook anything in six weeks?" I thought.

"I'll teach table manners or something useful like that."

About half way through my first home economics class, which consisted of 8 sullen grade nine girls, a native man in hunting gear suddenly materialized in the doorway.

He strode over to the table where the girls were slouched and dumped a huge bleeding hunk of something in front of me.

Then without a word of explanation, he left.

It wasn't pretty.

The animal had been butchered where it fell and because it was wet with blood, lots of interesting things had stuck to it.

Things like dirt, twigs, leaves, bugs and probably some other stuff I didn't want to think or know about.

The sullen girls snickered, so I did the only teacherly thing I could think to do.

Once I was sure it wasn't moving, I ignored it.

"There's something bleeding in the home ec room and I don't know what to do with it," I said to the principal at recess.

"Oh good," she said, "he brought it in.

There's a meat grinder in the cupboard.

Show the girls how to grind it up and make moose chilli con carne."

Grind it up?

Moose chilli con carne?

"You mean you want me to cook it?

Jeesh!  I was thinking more along the lines of calling in the priest and giving it a decent burial."

She just looked at me.

Anyway, I didn't keep the Yukon recipe I used that day, but I found this one on line.

So this is for all of you hunters and carnivores out there.

Just don't worry about saving any for me.

Moose Chilli Con Carne:

• 1 pound Moose Mince
• 6 Cloves garlic (There’s no such thing as too much Garlic )
• 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
• 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
• 28 ounce (796ml) can of tomato sauce
• 1 small can tomato paste
• 14 ounce (398ml) Red Kidney Beans
• 14 ounce (398ml) Baked Beans
• 1 chopped green bell pepper
• 2 tablespoons chilli powder
• salt to taste
• 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red chillies (more or less to suit)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/2 cup Good Red Wine

• In a skillet heat Olive oil and cook onion and garlic until soft.
• Add meat and brown.
• Add remaining ingredients.
• Simmer until fully cooked.

Serve Moose Chilli Con Carne with Fresh Bread

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grave Faces V - Grotesque

A Grotesque is a figure that makes the viewer feel uncomfortable

because of its bizarreness.

 It usually evokes 'empathic' pity.

This Grotesque sits atop a rather ordinary headstone

 in a cemetery that is otherwise heavy with Christian symbolism.

He looks as if he is trying to mind his own business.

Sort of like the kid who thinks,

"If I don't look at the teacher she won't notice that I'm here."

But it isn't easy not being noticed if you live among saints and angels

but have the misfortune of looking like a Hound of Hell.

Year in, year out, he sits hunched over this grave.

He mourns her under the blazing hot summer sun

and through the cruel storms of winter.

This is the beginning of  March.

Soon everything around him will speak of rebirth and renewal and hope
but he won't see it.

He's trapped.

Trapped in the bleakest hours between

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What's a G20?

In 1989 I was living in Notre Dame de Grace, Montreal.

One day I witnessed a rather violent police take down.  It happened right outside my first floor apartment.

It looked like the kind of thing you see on TV police dramas, but it felt very different.

The police came out of nowhere and ran faster than I knew that anyone could run.

I could smell their fear.

Neither I nor any of my neighbours went outside until it was over.

The police had a dangerous job to do and in the interest of the safely of the whole community no one would have expected them to consider the rights of any curiosity seekers who wanted to watch and/or make comments.

I guess that is the way I've been feeling about events that transpired at the Toronto G20.

The police had a job to do and in the interest of the safety of the world leaders and the whole city I wouldn't have expected them to worry about the rights of the people who either went back downtown out of curiosity or never left after the organized protests ended.

But losing your right to be somewhere during a critical situation is one thing, being beaten, arrested, imprisoned,  etc. for your foolishness is another.

I am changing my mind about the need a full scale inquiry.

There are just too many unanswered questions.

Too many pictures that defy explanation.

The saddest thing was the report of an elderly, frightened homeless man who got caught in the crowd and found himself arrested and detained.

"What's a G20?" he asked in bewilderment.

My question exactly.

Let's get to the bottom of it.
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