Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hate Crimes at Wal-mart

When I was in Teacher's College my parents kept free range chickens for awhile.

It was, in general, an all round unpleasant experience.

Who knew that fresh eggs are so poopy?

And collecting the eggs was a major ordeal.

The roosters used to attack me with talons, beaks, wings and if they'd had them I'm sure they would have used tiny little assault rifles.

The worst thing about keeping chickens, however, was seeing the weakest bird being pecked - sometimes to death.

When it comes to attacking the vulnerable it seems that we aren't far removed from those chickens.

I'm not talking about gangs of teenagers swarming unpopular kids or old people. I'm talking about something more insidious.

Someone is deliberately targeting a certain class of people while they shop at Wal-mart.

(Get it? Tacky store = worthless people.)

Someone is going out of his or her way to take pictures of the poor, the sick, the uneducated and the mentally or physically disabled when they are at their worst and posting the photos online.

Pictures of people who soil their pants in public...

Pictures of morbidly obese people who have to wear clothes that don't fit.

Etc. etc.

It is supposed to be funny.

This kind of thing marginalizes and degrades people who cannot defend themselves.

People who have as much right to dignity and privacy as the photographer.

If you come across these photos, speak out.

Because they are a labour of hate.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Extreme Doggie Makeover

Yesterday my dog looked like this.

Today my dog looks like this.


  What a miracle makeover.

I know where I'll be getting my next haircut.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Grave Faces VI

To everything there is a season ...

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Spring is a time to tend to graves.

It is a time to do right by the guardians who have weathered the storms of winter.

This little fellow looks as if he's been waiting an eternity for someone to come and tidy him up.

I've seen students wear that look of resignation when they've been waiting for something necessary but mildly threatening to happen - like a dental screening.

Maybe boy angels don't like their spring baths.

Faeries originated in pre-Christian times and  aren't very common in the graveyards I've visited.

Not surprising because faeries are wild and magical creatures, capable of stealing a person's soul.

This one has a bit of a zombie-ish look but seems friendly enough.  

I found it sitting on the ground in front of a weeping angel.

Pagan and Christian. Two very different attitudes towards life in the other world.

Someone wanted to make sure that all of the spiritual bases were covered, I suppose.

As a rule I don't touch another family's guardians, but this little creature looked so vulnerable I just couldn't leave her on the ground.

I imagine that the spring sun will wake her up.

Or a quick scrub under the faucet if the family gets to her before the warm weather does.

"I'm awake! I'm awake!"

It looks as if she heard me coming and quickly got into position without having had time to wash her face or brush off the flotsam and jetsam of winter.

Not as carefully formed as the last two, but on the other hand she is much younger.

Almost an embryo angel, or one just out of the shell.

She looks chilly, as if she should be snuggled under the wing of her angel mother instead of already on the job.

I seem to have startled this sweet blue bear and timid furry bunny.

They are a poignant reminder that Death comes not just for the old

I imagine them sitting on the child's window sill and watching over the crib the way they now watch over his or her resting place.

Blessed are those who mourn
For they shall be comforted ...

Matthew 5:4

It is extraordinarily peaceful here and although I have found that time doesn't lessen the pain, I hope it has brought some measure of acceptance.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

For the Love of Boobies

High school kids love boobies.

We know that because so many of them across North America have been threatened with suspension this week for wearing bracelets that say so.

The naughty little bracelets are part of a breast cancer awareness programme aimed at teens.

Apparently Proctor and Gamble doesn't love boobies as much as the kids do.

Proctor and Gamble is using parabens, a chemical preservative, in their Oil of Olay Regenerist skin care line - even though parabens have been found in human breast cancer tumours.

I found out about this because I follow Toronto artist/writer/woman with a green conscience, Frankejames on twitter and she mentioned it this week.


I haven't been using the Regenerist line but I have been using an Oil of Olay face wash so I decided to get out the magnifying glass and take a look at the ingredients.

I didn't find parabens listed on that product but I did find a cheery looking substance
called methylchloroisothiazolinone.

"Well, well," I thought, "what's the good news here?"

I googled methylchloroisothiazolinone and found that although not proven to be a carcinogen (yet), it  "can be a skin and membrane irritant or cause chemical burns.

It was largely removed from most cosmetic products except for those with only short duration skin contact such as rinse-offs".   (wikipedia)



Frankejames suggested looking for a cosmetic line with an Ecocert logo.

My quest for a safe facial product started and ended at The Body Shop.

 The woman who waited on me was quite familiar with the Ecocert logo and suggested the Nutriganics line, suitable for women "in their prime", like moi.

Not only does Nutriganics have the Ecocert logo, it also has the FCS* logo.

Organic and ethical!


How much on the side of all that is right and good can one woman get??

Anyway, wearing my new Saint Frances persona, I am suggesting that if you love your boobies you read the ingredients on your cosmetics jars


if you love other people with boobies you suggest they do the same.

* FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council.
It means the product came from a forest that environmentalists, developers and first nations people have worked together to manage ethically.

$ Note:  I bought the 50 ml day moisturiser and the 50 ml  night moisturiser @ $22 each and as there is sale this week at The Body Shop, I got the Face Wash for free. 

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Old John Deere

I am the main care giver for my elderly father.

My observation from this is that old age can, at times, be a frightening journey along a path of pain, depression and great loss.

This past winter was particularly hard on Dad as the doctor finally took his driver's licence away.

His anger enveloped the small house for months.


Dad has an old John Deere lawn mower.

It didn't work at all for much of last summer and by rights it should have gone to the junkyard a long time ago.

Yesterday I was puttering around in the garden, worrying about the overgrown state of things and the damage to the barn caused by the violent wind storm we had in April.

I was wondering how we were going to manage this summer when Dad limp/hobbled onto the porch and told me he was going to look at the lawn mower.

"Okay," I said, then thought, "Like that old rust bucket is going to start after sitting all winter."

I braced myself for another major meltdown.

A few minutes later the garage door flew open and my 87½ year old father came rumbling down the driveway on his John Deere, which, unbelievably, cut the grass as if it had rolled off the assembly line yesterday.

The moral of this story is this:

 You can take away a man's health,

 his friends and his driver's licence


as long as there's a breath in his body

you'll never get his old John Deere.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Poutine on the Outside

You've heard the term 'apple Indian'?

When I lived in the Yukon in the 1970s and 80s it was a derogatory comment that referred to a native person who had been judged by his or her peers to have become too much a part of the Anglo establishment.

Red on the outside, white on the inside.

I don't know if Quebecers have a similar term for French people who have become assimilated through marriage of geography.

Maybe something like 'poutine on the outside, vanilla pudding on the inside'?

Whatever they call it, if they do call it anything, the fact is the people of Berthier-Maskinongé Riding have one as their new NDP MP.

Ruth Ann Brosseau doesn't speak French and doesn't live in their riding.

Now I do think it is absolutely imperative that we get more women into Parliament. And thanks to the NDP things are better this time around than they have been - 25% of the MPs are now women

BUT there is something not sitting right with me about this.

It isn't the fact that she doesn't speak French - that can be learned, or that she went to Vegas during the campaign - she probably had a pre-booked ticket, or that she let her name stand - that is fairly common, I was aware of something similar in Niagara during the last election.

It is the fact that she had never been to her riding and not only did she not campaign she didn't bother to even visit Berthier-Maskinongé during the election.

Such profound disinterest from a person they chose to represent their party doesn't bode well for the future of the NDP.

The people in that riding were making a statement.

It happens in politics, and Canadians need to be able to trust our political parties to have serious candidates in place for just such an occurrence.

The message o' the week from the press has been to 'give her a chance.'

She'll get her chance. There is no alternative


if she was my elected representative in the House of Commons I wouldn't be very happy with the NDP right now.

How It All Began

These are the first wild flowers I found this spring
in the Short Hills Provincial Park.

Spring! At long last.
Rebirth. Hope.


Here is a lovely Chinese story that explains it all:

Let it be told of a time when there was nothing but chaos,

and that chaos was like a mist and full of emptiness.

Suddenly, into the midst of this mist came a great colourful light

and from this light all things that exist came to be.

The mist shook and separated,

that which was light rose up to form heaven and that which was heavy sank,

became solid and formed the earth.

Now from heaven and earth came forth strong forces

and these two forces combined to produce

yin and yang.

I actually had to hunt to find anything that wasn't yellow. 
Soon though, these delicate wild flowers will carpet the forest.

Picture yang like a dragon

- hot, fiery, male, full of energy.

Imagine yin as a cloud

- moist, cool, female, drifting slowly.

Each of these forces is full of great power.

Left alone they would destroy the world with their might

and chaos would return.

Together they balance each other and keep the world in harmony.

I love the play of shadows in this clearing.
So still and quiet.

This then is yin and yang

and from them came forth everything.

The sun is of yang and the moon, yin.

The four seasons,

winter, spring, summer and autumn

 and the five elements,

 water, earth, metal, fire and wood

 sprang from them.

So did all kinds of living creatures.

This trillium was growing on the Steve Bauer Trail.
Evidently it isn't against the law to pick our provincial flower.
But who would want to?  They are so beautiful and hard to find,
most people are content to let them be.

So there was the earth,

floating like a jellyfish on water.

But the earth was just a ball without features.

Then the forces of yin and yang created the giant figure P'an Ku,

the Ancient One.

P'an Ku, who never stopped growing every year of his great long life,

set to work to put the earth in order.

He dug the river valleys and piled up the mountains.

Over many thousands of years he shaped and created

the flow and folds of our earth.

I love this picture. It looks as if the trilliums are growing
between the toes of the tree.

But such work took its toll.

Even mighty P'an Ku could not escape death

and worn out by his struggle, he collapsed and died.

His body was so vast that when he fell to the ground

 his body became the five sacred mountains,

his hair the plants

and his blood the rivers.

From his sweat came the rain

and from the parasites living on his body

came forth

human beings. 

This is how it all began.


According to the Educational pages of the Hampshire Count Council,

http://erros@innovationslearning, the belief in the balancing forces of

yin and yang lies at the heart of

the Chinese philosophy and influences the way the Chinese people

 treat their environment.

They see the earth as a living being which

must be cared for properly and kept in order, so that the powerful

forces of yin and yang are kept in balance. 

Think of the BP oil spill, 911 and nuclear power plant accidents

as things that happen when the yang is unchecked.

Women have been learning to use the yin 

by speaking, by voting, by boycotting, by protesting,

 by organizing, by supporting, by representing. 

I believe the yin and the yang may at last be

 starting to move slowly towards a healthier balance.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Contest! Get Hot and Spicy in Pelham

Oh look!  There's a picture of my fitness club!

Not Mossimo's with the yummy pizza.

Look up!

Upstairs you'll find

Fonthill Fitness

where it is all about getting trim and healthy

so that


 can eat that hot and spicy pizza and still

be hot and spicy yourself.

This is the spinning room,

That is me in the white t-shirt.

The instructor is Erin.

I love spinning,

but I have to tell you it is hard work.


it is worth it

because I love to eat.

I would rather exercise and eat

than diet and starve.

It isn't just getting on a stationary bike and pedalling for 45 minutes.

We learn to do handstands on the handlebars

and often jump through flaming hoops from bike to bike.

Just kidding. 

But the one thing we aren't is 'stationary'. 

Here Erin is showing a gym member the proper handle bar position.

If spinning isn't your thing,

this is Charlene

one of the yoga instructors.

She is demonstrating a fantastic stretch.

I say fantastic because I was surprised at how good it felt when I tried it.

This is a man.

I'm pointing that out because this is my first 'mixed' fitness club.

I haven't been in a gym with guys since

Mrs. Zathmary made us do folk dances with the boys in grade ten.

It is actually fun to have them around.

And they don't laugh and point half as much as they did in grade ten.

If you are thinking 'weights', Fonthill Fitness has them too.

Speaking of men!

This is Rick and he is one of the spinning instructors.

I tell you they are everywhere at FF!

But this isn't just 'a' man,

this is Mike.

He owns Fonthill Fitness.


Mike agreed to offer:

 a free one month FF membership for two people

(That's you and a friend, or
you and your hubby, or
 you and your teen, etc.)


 the reader of my blog

 who wins the draw

which will be held on

Friday, May 13!

small print: You have to live in Niagara.


All you have to do is send me the name of your favourite fit Canadian.


You can enter by:

1. leaving your comment at the end of this blog

(for those entering from the blogsite is

2. e-mailing me at


3.  leaving a comment on my face book wall

So if you are thinking of joining a gym, meeting new people and getting ready for summer

this is a good way to test the waters!

Here is the schedule of classes for May


 don't forget 

Fonthill Fitness 

is open every day for weight training and working on the machines!

Fonthill Fitness
1440 Pelham St.
Fonthill, Ontario
(One building down from Keith's Corners)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

King Harry of Canada

My friend, Barb, posted a most interesting article on fb from Psychology Today entitled, "Tribal Weddings and Democratic Stability".

The author, Robin Fox, believes that we humans are not "wholly rational creatures" and even the most "atheistic and ruthlessly secular" among us realize we need our rituals and tribal customs.

The author, being American, was primarily focused on the way the Brits accomplish these things, i.e., very well, with the Monarch being more or less eternal, versus the American method which is less successful but has its moments - think of the American reverence for their flag, their founders etc.

I was immediately struck by the fact that in Canada we have neither.

We don't have our own royal family and our country wasn't born and formed out of endless vats of blood, fields of bleached bones and wonderful gallows quotes such as, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

"Fuddle duddle" or even the historical "How much for that beaver pelt?"  don't exactly send shivers of national pride up and down your spine.

We experience our tribal rituals vicariously through the British and our national attitude to our own history is simply that everyone has always done what they had to do and it is no big deal.

Now I have to tell you that I have no great love for the British royal family.

I do however think a constitutional monarchy is a very effective method of government for the same reasons Ms Fox gives:

The monarch provides the fixed centre of legitimate authority that is unchallengeable, and thus leaves the politicians free to be politicians and vulnerable to challenge.

Canada, we need a monarch.

We need one that comes with all of the monarchic trappings: the history, the scandals, the wardrobe.

We need Good King Harry.

I propose that we offer Prince Harry the Kingship of Canada.

It would free us from the British Royal line while still keeping our connections.

No hurt feelings!

 (Okay, maybe a few noses out of joint in Quebec but that's the norm and besides their ancestors got rid of their king so there's no French prince or princess available.)

Join me in my crusade to bring our King home!

You can actually choose who you would like to be our monarch by voting in the poll in the uper right hand corner of this blog.

You can vote for as many of them as you like. 

Write in suggestions are welcome in the comments below. 

Long live King Harry of Canada!

p.s.  Sorry there aren't any links here.  My linker programme isn't working at the mo.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Secnarf Crosses the Floor

This is the third in my series of interviews with Secnarf the independent Rhino candidate from North Pelham. Secnarf's campaign promises include giving women two votes, taking the calories out of chocolate cake, moving the head office of Bell Canada to North Pelham and identifying Rural Canada as 'a Nation within a Nation' in the constitution.

Francie: Well tomorrow is election day.

Do you feel that you ran a successful campaign, Secnarf?

Secnarf: I didn't get enough media coverage.

Not one journalist found out that I went skinny dipping in Vancouver in 1975!

Francie: Scandalous.

Secnarf: I agree, journalists aren't what they used to be.

Francie: I meant your behaviour.

Secnarf: Well I try, but Jack Layton is getting all the attention this week.

Francie: Are you suggesting that Jack Layton and the NDP Party leaked the massage parlour story to keep you out of the headlines?

Secnarf: There is no other possible explanation.

After all, which one of us would the Canadian people prefer to picture naked?

Francie: I am choosing to take that as a rhetorical question.

So Let's talk about your policies.

So far you have weighed in on women's rights, big business, agriculture and the constitution.

What about the climate and the environment?

Secnarf: I pirated the Green Vision.

Francie: You stole the Green Party's platform?

Secnarf: That's what pirates do when they like something.

Francie: Wait, you aren't saying ...

Secnarf: Yes I'm crossing the floor.

Francie: What floor?

You don't have a riding, never mind a seat in the House of Commons.

Secnarf: It's a figure of speech.

I'm joining the Pirate Party of Canada and I'm taking my many supporters with me.

Francie: Have you talked to all three of them about this?

Secnarf: Pirates don't ask, they tell.

Francie: Well this is a surprise.

Any last minute messages for the Canadian people on the eve of the election, Secnarf?

Secnarf: Aye.

Vote, ye scurvey dogs! Vote!

Or ye'll be feeling t' weight o' me sword across yer sorry backsides.





and talks like a pirate.