Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Get Better at Rewriting - (Your Writing Coach) - First Impression Critiques

How to Get Better at Rewriting - (Your Writing Coach) - First Impression Critiques

Please click on the underlined writing.  It is quite an interesting video which I got from Monique Berry's Website.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First of Advent Service - 3 p.m.

Such a beautiful service!  It is my favourite service of the whole year at St. John's Lutheran. 

I brought a male friend of mine with me and he also seemed to enjoy it.  He sometimes comes with me to St. Paul's and St. John's and he has invited me to go to the Catholic church with him one time when we were at a street festival. That was a nice occasion as he also took me out for lunch at a tea room on Locke Street.    .

This service is in the two languages, German and English.  I can remember my church in Montreal, we tried to do the service  in German, English and French and that was so difficult.  I can sing in the three languages but it was hard for my mind to switch easily from one to the other.

With just the two languages, it is easy.  I so enjoyed singing the old German carols.There was a recorder group, a guitar player, the beautiful choir, English carols, a poem by our resident poet read in German by his granddaughter (poet - Herbert Fischer). 

I was especially touched by the poems, some in German, some in English and the duet by Barbara and Jayne. Needless to say, we sang Stille Nacht (Silent Night) with the lights off and just the candles glowing.

The last thing at the service was a solo by Christine,  "Die Glocken von Santa Maria". Tears of joy streamed down my face as it touched my inner self and brought back so many wonderful memories of lighting the advent candles, singing German carols, being with friends who are family and reflecting on God's love for human kind.  I still keep many of the traditions of my youth. I have the advent candles at home, the tree candles (which I do not light) and even though I am alone, it still is my very favourite time of year.  It is similar to the feeling of Eid, which also is a wonderful time of family gatherings, greeting friends, going to the Masjidt (Mosque) for prayers and a general good feeling.

Now back to the Service.

When Christine sang, I felt so "at peace". Her voice just was so wonderful.  A gift from God.

Many of the singers at the church  also sing in  the Germania Club choir and they tour around Canada from time to time.

The whole service was peaceful and I was so happy to be there.  I love singing especially when it is about God and His love.  My friend is from another religion so he was not used to these carols so was unable to join in that part of the service. 

Afterwards, everybody was invited to come downstairs for sandwiches, cake and coffee etc and I was able to introduce my friend to many of my friends there.  He is a "people person" and thoroughly enjoyed meeting others.

What a beautiful and peaceful way to start the Advent Season.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

They are back from making Hajj

Asma, Zarreen and Greg are back now from making Hajj.  I can hardly wait to hear all about it.  They posted some great pictures on Facebook. 

From what I can see, they had a wonderful spiritual adventure.

They posted pictures of MacDonalds, Burger King and some of the other chain restaurants and there they all serve halal meat and ingredients. To eat Halal means to eat according to the dietary requirements of Islam.  The animals are treated well during their lifetime and when they are killed, there is a correct way to do it.  The Jewish faith has Kosher and the Islamic faith has Halal. Cheese has to be halal too, without rennet which is a pork product.  Both Muslims and Jews do not eat pork or pork products.

Zarreen had one picture taken of her where she is opening the MacDonald's box and eyeing the burger.  It was so funny.  Greg has posted some fantastic photos on his Facebook page.  Both of them look so happy and so spiritually rejuvenated.

They have now filled one of the requirements of Islam, if one is financially and physically able, one should make Hajj.  Some people save for this all their lives.  The young couple have been fortunate and blessed to do this pilgrimage when they are young.

When I saw the pictures, I was thinking what a different time we live in now.  At the time of Prophet Mohammad, pbuh, it would have been done by camel and foot.  Now there are lovely hotels and restaurants
there and the Kaaba is well lit and everything is highly organized.

By the way, the Kaaba is where Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) went to sacrafice his elder son Ishmael.  According to the Holy Qur'an, this child is the first born, not of Sarah, but of Ibrahim and Hagar.  I believe the boy may have been about 14 years of age by the time little Isaac was born from Sarah. According to the Bible, Abraham had another wife as well Katura and she had many children for him.

As many of you will know, there are several versions of this story.  They are in the Torah and the Tanaka (the Jewish Scriptures), the Holy Bible (Old and New Testement) and the Holy Qur'an.  They all agree that Abraham was a faithful servant of God, obedient in every way.  They all agree that Sarah was his wife and that Hagar was her maidservant.  Only the Bible mentions Katura, the other wife. 

Please read the following for the Jewish version.

This Torah portion is read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, September 30, 2008. The full reading for the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Genesis 21:1-34 and Numbers 29:1-6.

Genesis 21:1-13

The Lord took note of Sarah as He had promised, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken. Abraham gave his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne him, the name of Isaac. And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, "God has brought me laughter; everyone who hears will laugh with me." And she added,

"Who would have said to Abraham

That Sarah would suckle children!

Yet I have borne a son in his old age."

The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing. She said to Abraham, "Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." The matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you. As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed."

Torah reading is taken from Genesis. From THE TANAKH: The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society. Used by permission.

It is most interesting to read the different versions of the story.  In the Holy Qur'an, the story of Ibrahim, Sarah and Hagar is told a little differently.
This may clarify the situation a little better.  I did a study on three women of the Old Testement and brought this topic to a ladies group when I did the meeting.

I thought it might be appropriate for us to look at three women who played a huge role in history as seen through the Jewish Tanaka, The Christian Old Testament and the Islamic Qu’ran.

Let’s talk about Abram’s wives.

First before we can do that, we need to talk about Abram, later called Abraham as seen in Genesis 17, vs. 5.

Abram was obedient to God’s call to leave his home land of Ur and go into unknown territory He walked by faith and trust and his adventures are related in the three books.

Abraham, as we will call him from now on, meaning “the father of many” came by this title honestly.

From what we can learn through the three sources, after his Dad Terah died, (check it out in Gen. 20, vs. 12)  he went on his big adventure of obedience to God. His greatness and also at the same time, his weakness are clearly shown through the three different books of Scripture.

For today, our main emphasis is on the three wives of Abraham, this being a womens' group. They were namely Sarai (Abraham’s half sister, his father’s daughter through another mother), Hagar, a daughter of the Pharaoh, maidservant of Sarah, and Ketura, Abraham’s last wife after Sarah died.

Of these three women, Keturah had the most children with Abraham, having six sons for him. No mention how many daughters she may have had. Please look up 1 Chronicles 1, VS. 32.

Women don’t seem to be of much importance when it comes to lineage. Hopefully, we have come a long way in this matter. Mind you, it was only in my lifetime when women were given the right to vote even here in Canada. Our country has come a long way in equal rights for women.

Anyway, back to our topic, according to the Midrash (Jewish compilation of commentaries on the Tanaka, the Hebrew Bible, Abraham married Ketura after Sarah died. Her nationality is unknown however. In the Bible, she is known as a concubine, but I find that difficult to understand since Sarah had already passed away and he was free to marry again.  Times were different then so we will probably never know.

I am also not sure how many wives a man could have, plus concubines at the time of Abraham.
IT SURELY IS AN INTERESTING THOUGHT – what man would want to take on all that responsibility of providing for not only wives but their children to be as well!

However, even today, in the Middle East, having many children is considered a real blessing from God and most families have numerous children. I remember one dear lady saying to me that she has five children, and when I inquired who was the other one, as I had never met him, she said “Her husband!” She was an Egyptian lady. I sure could relate to that! I bet some of you could too!

I digress, as usual, so we had better get back to our topic.

It may be that the word concubine was used to show that she was not as important as Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac, who was born to her at a time  in her life when it was impossible to have children anymore.

Ketura’s children were raised separately from Isaac and this happened during the lifetime of Abraham, which means he had full knowledge of this, which I also find odd.

It was due to Ketura’s sons that Abraham became the “father of many nations”.

Who shall we look at next? Sarai, or Sarah as she was later known as, was a very interesting lady. She was the half sister of Abraham, and also he was her husband which certainly goes against all the rules of civilization today! That also is an interesting point – what about genetics here?

Sarai was a beautiful woman according to the Tanaka, and in their travels, she had to be hidden from view in a chest so that other men might not desire her. Unfortunately, in Egypt, some customs men checked the chest and found her. Even the Pharaoh of Egypt wanted her for his harem.

In the Bible, there is much more history of Sarah than of the other two women. When she was taken before the Pharaoh, she lied to him and said that Abraham was her brother. In reality, it was a half truth, he was her half brother and yet he was her husband as well.

This most likely saved his life.

As he thought Abraham was only her brother, the Pharaoh showered him with gifts, which included Hagar, a daughter of the Pharaoh. Hagar, became the maid servant of Sarah. Sarah was taken into the harem and whenever the Pharaoh approached her physically, he was afflicted by boils.

Put yourself in Hagar’s position. Here was her Dad giving her away to an old man! She had no say in the matter. It shows us how little rights women had in those days.

We also know that in the Bible, Sarai asked Abraham to take her maidservant Hagar as a concubine so that Sarai could have children by her. In the Qur’an, it calls Hagar a co-wife not concubine which gives her a lot more dignity and stature than she would have had as a concubine.

When Hagar became pregnant, problems started between the two women with jealousy rearing its ugly head.

Here is where it gets very interesting in the Jewish Bible. It says that Sarai told Abram that Hagar was not being respectful to her and Abram told Sarai to do what she wanted to Hagar. Well, she did, and the treatment was so harsh that Hagar ran away. According to the Tanaka she ran to where there was a stream of water in the wilderness and an angel of the Lord spoke to her there and told her that she must return and submit herself to the harsh treatment of Sarai. At that time, she was informed that she was pregnant and would have a son and his name would be called Ishmael.

It gets even more complicated here when 13 or 14 years later, Sarai becomes pregnant. At that time, Sarai’s name changed into Sarah.

Sarah, had only one son, Isaac, who was born to her at the advanced age of 90 years. Hagar, the Egyptian, had only one son with Abraham, Ishmael, who was about 13 or 14 when Isaac was born. Thus, Ishmael was in actuality, the first born of Abraham.

According to the Bible, Isaac is the first born of the promise  In the Bible, very little is said about Ishmael and the other half brothers by the other two women.

In the Qur’an, the story of Hagar and Ishmael is told this way.

I got this information from my good friend Asma and she did some research for me as she is more familiar with the Qur’an than I am and can find things in it faster and easier. This is how she told it to me via the internet.

Hajar did not leave because Sarah wanted her to leave. Ibrahim (pbuh) was told by God to leave her and his first son Ishmael in the Baka vally. This is the Islamic version and has a great significance in the life of Ibrahim, Ishmael and Hajar. Sarah was not a jealous woman according to Islamic traditions.  Also note the spelling of Hagar which is a little different than in the Bible.

Hajar is a very highly respected woman in Islam and is NOT considered a concubine but the second wife. Also, she was not a slave of Sarah, but her relative (probably a cousin) who was raised by Sarah's family.

Personally, I find it very interesting to see the different versions of the same story but told in three different Holy Books. All versions do confirm that Ishmael was born first to Hagar, then about 14 years later, Sarah had a child when it was impossible to have a child at her age. He was called Isaac, and the Bible and the Tanaka both confirm the information about Keturah. The Qur’an says nothing about Keturah.



1. Abraham walked by faith and not reason. God rewarded him with many material goods, prestige, and children.

2. Sarai, a beautiful and wise lady, had to wait well past her child bearing years in order to see her miracle happen. THAT TEACHES US PATIENCE IN WAITING FOR GOD TO ACT. Sarai tried to rush things by getting a baby through her maidservant but that certainly caused much trouble for all concerned. Her son Isaac became very important and he also had children and so her line continued throughout the ages.

3. Hagar, in spite of the terrible things which happened to her, from being the privileged daughter of a Pharaoh(depending on which story you read) to becoming a maidservant, then a concubine and bearing a child under much stress and in a hostile environment, was still helped by God through the angel who came to her at the stream of water. He promised her that her son would have many descendents. Yes, she had to suffer a lot, and I don’t think any of us would have liked to be in her position, but her life was part of God’s plan.

4. Keturah, all I can find on her was that she was the wife(concubine) depending on the source, of Abraham after Sarah died and she bore 6 sons. I wish I could have found out more details on her life.

The only thing I could see for her was that she had great honour as she had many children and in her culture this would be a great thing. She was also the wife of a great man.

Let us close with a quote by Abraham, which was taken from Surah 14, vs. 37 in which he says:

“Praise be to God who has given me Ishmael and Isaac in my old age! All prayers are answered by Him.”

Again, it shows the faith Abraham had, but at the same time it raises other questions. Why didn’t he thank God for his other six sons by his wife Keturah?

We shall close on that mystery. The story of Abraham and his three wives answers some questions, but throws up many more questions as you go deeper into the study.

I would like to challenge you to take some time and do some research on these fascinating people who literally changed the world as we know it.

I hope that you have found this study interesting. History has always been a favourite subject of mine.

In any event, hope you enjoyed reading this blog today.  It all came about because of my dear friends making Hajj and brought back memories of a talk and study I did on Abraham and his wives.

Studying history is essential so that we can learn from other people's mistakes, but the reality is, we oftentimes do not learn when we should have seen the warnings from the past history.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Literary Wake for Kerry Schooley

Last night was a lovely event with friends and family of Kerry Schooley coming to the Pearl Company on Stephen Street in Hamilton.

Kerry was a well known figure here in Hamilton for his involvement in the Literary Arts scene. 

The Pearl was a perfect spot to hold this event in and our hosts were very gracious in lending this spot for this occasion.

Many people read from Kerry's work and spoke on how he had influenced them.

His wife and daughters were present at this event and his daughter spoke about her Dad and how he is missed.

It personally brought tears to my eyes as I listened to her.

May he rest in peace.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Arts Hamilton Gala Event

On November 15th, the Literary Committee of Arts Hamilton, and the Staff and Board of Directors held a Gala evening at Theatre Acquarius.  It was for the 17th Annual Literary Awards.

People on the short list were invited to attend the event but only found out if they had won during the ceremony.
Susan Evans Shaw - Co-Chair
Literary Committee

David Cohen, Dr. Ross Penny, Chris Pannell,James E. Elliott
Missing:  Marilyn Gear Pilling

Tea lights graced small tables and chairs for the assembled guests. The programme started at 6:30 with music by Jonny Kerr and Shari Dunn.  A buffet table was set with delicious snacks for those present to enjoy.

Pat Mackesy (Arts Hamilton Board of Directors) was the Master of Ceremonies. Guest presenters were Bob Farrow, Donna Skelly, Robert Howard, Luke Brown, Annette Paiement and Mayor-elect Bob Bratina.

The Musicians - Jonny Kerr and Shari Dunn

At  7:30 the awards ceremony took place.  Here are some pictures from it.  Unfortunately they are a little dark.

Donna Skelly

Mr. Cohen

Chris Pannell
It was a very good evening and it appeared that everybody enjoyed themselves.  There were over 100 people in attendance.

Christmas tree went up today in our building

Each year, Marcel decorates the tree for the lobby. He is a very artistic person and does a marvelous job.  This year it is a new tree - 12 feet tall and it just fits to the ceiling.

I took several pictures of it and will post them here.

This is a close up of the Cherub which is new this year

A closer look
Taken from the ramp. 

Once a year, we have a party here in our nice party room and it is usually in the middle of December so I shall look forward to that.

New Writing Group and the Sutherlands

Such a dilemma, two good things going on at the same time!  Too many choices can make life complicated.  Which one to go to!  This was on Wednesday, November 18th and as you can see, I am behind in my blogging.

In the end, I opted to go to The New Writing group and have my controversial religious poem critiqued.  I also wanted to go to the Readings at ArtWord/Artbar and managed to do both.

For those who are unfamiliar with critiquing, there is a nice way to do it, and then there is the sledgehammer approach.  I personally opt for the nice way to do it.  It is my belief that people can learn better when they don't feel "put down" or "threatened".  Above all, authors have the perfect right to not change one word if they do not agree with their fellow writers.

It was a good session with a smaller group this time, so everybody got their work evaluated.

Three of us walked over to ArtWord/Artbar and were in time to hear the featured readers from England.

They were Afifa Ematullah Sutherland and her husband Paul.  What a real delight it was for the assembled audience to hear these two writers read their work.

They also publish a literary magazine called "Dream Catcher".    For more information on their work, please type in  http://www.dreamcatchermagazine.co.uk/

I took some pictures of these two artists and will post them here. I regret that the pictures are not as clear as I would have liked them. 

Paul Sutherland

Afifa Ematullah Sutherland

Paul's work spoke of English countryside, of family, of the poet Tennison while Afifa's work spoke of God. I particularly liked his poem about the granddad and grandson.

Having written religious poetry myself, one of which was published in the newspaper, I particularly appreciated the work of Afifa as it spoke to my inner self. 

I was in seventh heaven, so to speak, as I listened to her words.  The evening ended all too soon for me.  Afifa and I will keep in touch as we hit it off right away.

I purchased her book as it spoke to me so strongly and each night read a little bit of her poetry. 

This couple follow the Naqshabandi Sufi tradition. 

Sufism is a mystic part of Islam, and there are different orders within the Sufi traditions.  In some ways Sufism is similar to the mystic Jewish tradition of Kabbalah.   For more information on Kabbalah, you might like to read the book "The Essential Kabbalah"  by Daniel C. Matt.

For more information of Islamic Sufism, you may enjoy reading the book called "In the Tavern of Ruin" Seven essays on Sufism by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. 

I have been given permission by Afifa to put her poem on this blog so that you may enjoy her work.  Work from both of these wonderful  poets is available on their website which is listed above.


                                                         What I was afraid of -
                                                          standing alone in silence
                                                          I am in it,
                                                          in the terror of utter aloneness

                                                           ABSOLUTE SILENCE

                                                        I stand, as though on a cliff's top in the wind,
                                                        My back is to the sheer edge, the drop
                                                        fathoms deep

                                                        There is no one to catch me -
                                                         I am bereft of all definition.
                                                         disorientated in a world of strangers.

                                                                I AM FALLING!

                                                          Such Love I feel, such Beauty...!
                                                          There is only God and whether He catch me
                                                           or not
                                                           I belong to Him.

By poet Afifa Ematullah Sutherland  from her book RETURN, Sufi poems and Art.  Dream Catcher Books.

I hope you enjoyed reading her wonderful poem and that you will check out their website when you have the time.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The MacVitie's strike again at St. Paul's.

This time the title of the skit was The WEDDING ATTIRE, adapted and Directed by Gudrun Boehm-Johnson, loosely based on a short story by Peter Rossegget.

For a number of years now, the congregation has been following the story of the MacVittie family with bated breath. 

It was the 177th Anniversary of St. Paul's and the congregation celebrated with a lovely lasagna dinner and the short play, plus a sing along of Scottish tunes.

The Guest Speaker was Rev. Will Ingram who is minister of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in downtown Toronto.  His wife Karen grew up in York Memorial Presbyterian church and it was a pleasure to see her again.  I asked after her parents and thankfully they are both heavily involved at York and are well.

After the marvelous lunch, the St. Paul's Theatre Group performed the skit.  The basis plot of the skid was that the bridegroom didn't want to wear a Scottish kilt to his wedding and he procrasnated about getting his too long trousers hemmed until the day before the wedding.

He asked three of the women in the family to shorten the pants three inches.  All said, no they were too busy to do it, but unbeknownst to any of them, each one found the time to shorten the trousers.  Thus, instead of 3" off, it was now 9" off the length of the garment.

Granfather MacVittie and young Mr. MacVittie - the bridegroom
As you can imagine, there was quite abit of laughter as all this enfolded before our eyes.  The biggest laugh was when the bridegroom came out in his really short pants.

The problem was solved eventually as the groom had no choice but to wear the kilt and the family were happy as was the bride.

Quite a good laugh.

The groom with his drastically shorted wedding trousers

Lest you think that this little problem will spoil the wedding, I shall show you a picture of the groom in his kilt.

The  groom in his kilt ready to get married

Signor Rossini - the tailor

Two of the serving girls who fixed the trousers

Duncan the bartender and Maria the maid
The cast, taking a bow

It was a lovely event and everybody had a good time.  We shall look forward to another adventure from the MacVittie family.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

St. John's Bazaar

Today was a very busy day for me.  It was the mission bazaar at St. John's which raises money to help such missions as LAMP, the Living Rock and several others.

LAMP is a mission run by the Lutheran Church to the Far North's native people where it is only accessible by small plane.  They are very isolated especially in the winter months.

Living Rock, of course, is a mission run by the Craigs for youth and is right across the street from the church. 

People thronged into the church hall as soon as the doors opened  Some darting to the White Elephant table, others making their way to the various tables which housed hand knitted goods, silk scarves, and Christmas decorations just to name a few items.  Others made a beeline for the bake table to purchase a scrumptious torte, then came to my table for coffee, tea, or juice. There was something there for everybody to enjoy.

As is usual, the bake table had a lovely array of German baking, reasonably priced.

My job each year is to be the one who pours coffee and tea.  It certainly kept me busy for most of the time as we served bottomless cups of coffee, herbal tea, black tea and juice for the children.  All for a dollar which is probably the best deal in all of Hamilton!

Happy chatter filled the room as old friends greeted each other.  Five friends of mine came again this year and I appreciated that.  They seemed to have had a great time and mixed well with those present.

I enjoy chatting with people, some I see on a regular basis, others I only see from time to time.  Some folk use German only while others use English.  It is a great opportunity for me to keep my German skills up as I hardly use the language anymore.

I took my lunch break with two of my friends.  We had to go elsewhere in the church to find a seat, the hall was so crowded with people enjoying sauerkraut, sausage and a bun. 

It started to wind down a little after 1 p.m. and we closed the doors at 2 p.m.

All in all, a great day and hopefully we raised enough money to help the missions we support.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Author K.D. Miller came to St. Paul's on November 14th

Ms. Miller is a Hamilton-born author, poet, essayist and teacher of creative writing now living in Toronto, Ontario.

She graduated in 1973 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English from the University of Guelph.  Furthering her education in this field, she went to the University of British Columbia  amd graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing in 1978.

Ms. Miller shares her knowledge which she has gained over the years with emerging writers, evaluates manuscripts and teaches creative writing courses and workshops.

Her stories and essays have appeared in Flare, Best Canadian Stories - Oberon 2008 and 2009, Maisonneuve Magazine, The Capilano Review, Canadian Forum, The New Quarterly, Prism Internation and the Journey Prize Anthology.  Her work has also been broadcasted by the CBC.

It was a delight to have her read from her latest book, Brown Dwarf.

Brown Dwarf  is a psychological drama that takes place in Hamilton in  1962 and shows the intense relationship of two young girls who seek to track and catch an elusive murderer believed to be hiding out on the escarpment.

Members of  St. Paul's book club had already read it and asked some very good questions.

This lovely event not only offered the opportunity for people to meet an author, read her work, and to learn a little bit about the writing process, but Ms. Miller proved to be an excellent presenter.

Delicious refreshments were served at the end of the evening.

Our local Bookseller was present, Bryan Prince Booksellers, to handle the book sales.  As many of you may know, Bryan Prince Bookseller is a huge supporter of  literary events in Hamilton.

A delightful evening spent with lovely people.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some more pictures from my camera

On Friday and Saturday morning, there was an absolutely unbelievable fog.  It gradually descended until the whole city seemed to be engulfed in it.  At first I thought it was a very bad fire and switched on the CH CH news, but learned from them it was a really dense fog. 

Andrew and Rahel were over to help me clean the windows in my room and have tea and we all were quite astonished by the sights.

I managed to get some good shots of it.

It was a very strange atmosphere, almost unearthly.

Here is a picture of the cleaned windows and blinds, thanks to Andrew for all his hard work.  The windows are so high so he had to stand on the window sill to do the work.  It is unbelievable how much dirt blows in.

On the right side, one can see the picture I needle pointed before my son was born 37 years ago.  It is so special to me.

To end this little blog, here is a picture of two cats in my kitchen.  The black and white one is from Carmen and Wally from Quebec and the orange and white one is from here. They look so friendly in the kitchen.

Thanks for reading my blog and come back again when you have the time.

Remembrance Sunday 2010

On Nov. 11th I attended the brief ceremony at the Cenotaph at Gore Park.  Today I went  for the longer ceremony.

It was most impressive. This was the ninety second annual Remembrance Day parade and Memorial service held in Hamilton, Ontario.

ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE (in red) City Police carrying wreath

A band of warriors wearing Scottish attire

Among the dignitaries who were there were  Mayor Fred Eisenberger, Councillor Bernie Morelli, Councillor Sam Merulla and Mayor Elect Bob Bratina.  David Christopherson, N.D.P. member of the Provincial Parliament, carried a wreath to place at the Cenopath.

There was a very good turnout both for Nov. 11th and for today, November 14th.  In spite of the damp and cold weather and a brief drizzle of rain, it was a successful event.

Please note the American Flag and the Six Nations flag.  A Korean lady was carrying one of them.
I was able to get a shot of the Korean lady in her national dress who participated in the parade.  I remember my boss Wally talking about his time in Korea during the Korean war.  One incident sticks out in my mind from what he said those many years ago.  He talked about how cold their hands were and that the Red Cross and the Salvation Army handed out mittens.  The Salvation Army gave them for free but the Red Cross sold them to the soldiers.  Wally didn't talk very much about that time in Korea, I think he preferred to block it from his mind.

Korean lady who participated in the parade

As is usual, the programme started with O Canada, with a Call to Worship, then a hymn, which was O God Our Help in Ages Past.  The wreath laying ceremony took place. Another Hymn - "Abide With me"  was sung.  .  All the music was performed by the HMCS Star Band, in their naval uniforms.

The poem "In Flanders Fields", the Last Post, two minutes of silence and a lament were next, along with a veterans' prayer and the Reveille.

The last hymn was "Eternal Father", along with a scripture lesson.  The Hamilton Children's Choir participated very ably and were much appreciated.  Scouts Canada also gave out printed copies of the day's programme.

All in all, a very worthwhile time of remembering those who have fallen in battle, those who have been wounded both in body, soul and mind and those who were left unable to function properly due to the horrors they endured.

Hamilton new police horses and their riders

I see these horses quite often downtown now, patrolling Gore Park, walking in the traffic and being a visible presence of the police.  They are very beautiful animals and both riders and animals seem in harmony.

This weekend in Hamilton has been busy, with the Santa Claus parade yesterday, and the Remembrance Day parade today.

Monday, November 8, 2010

This and that

As usual, ArtWord/Artbar hosts, Judith and Ron were their usual nice selves and made everybody welcome.
James Dheal was the M.C. for this event.  Most of the readers were from Toronto this time with the exception of Andreas, (London), Ellen (Hamilton).  I only knew Andreas and Ellen so did not feel comfortable taking pictures without permission.

Andreas Gripp from London, Ontario

Andeas Gripp

Ellen Jaffe
Yesterday I went to ArtWord/Artbar for James' last  afternoon programme until April.  Unhappily I missed a chance to read some of my poetry at the Carnagie Gallery in Dundas but I had already committed to going to James' invitation.

Sometimes there is nothing going on and then days like yesterday, there were three things that I could have gone to and enjoyed all of them.

I certainly was sorry to miss the other two events but glad that I went to the afternoon session. 

I took only a few shots of the readers that I know and have their e-mails.  When I got home, I sent the pictures to them and received a reply back.

There were six excellent readers there yesterday afternoon.  I really love having things in the afternoon as I am more alert!
Jennifer picked me up which was so kind of her.  The No. 4 bus only runs every half hour so now that the weather is getting colder, I am pleased to have an invitation for a ride!

All in all, a lovely afternoon.  I did not go out to the other event (Lit Live) although I know there were many excellent readers (another six scheduled).

It really is too bad that so many things are on the same day!

Now onto other matters.

I haven't written on my blog for a few days as there was nothing really exciting going on. I do enjoy those days when I can just relax and do "my own thing", don't you?

My friend Carmen lent me quite a few Hercule Pierrot DVD's and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. Only two more to go and then I shall return them

On another point, I took some shots from my window and will post them as well.

Retirement is the best time in life, at least to me, as I can write, read, listen to music, go out or not, take my time in doing things and the list could go on and on.  When one is a child, one has to please parents and teachers, when one marries, one has to try and please one's spouse, when one works, pleasing the "boss" is of the utmost importance if you want to keep your job, but retirement is finally time to just please yourself!

I have never quite understood how people can be bored in retirement.  I just love it!

On that note, shall close and post the pictures of the view from my window.

I find it fascinating to see the reflections on the glass building across from me.  Such beauty, and at the click of my camera, I can capture it to share with the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A very sad loss for a dear friend of mine

I just received an e-mail from a friend of mine who is originally from Brazil.  We met so many years ago when I did shelter work.  I met the two sisters there in Toronto where one of them was fleeing an abusive husband. The other sister was here as a visitor.   One of the sisters had a small child who was also in the shelter with them.

The boy is already grown up by now, I have lost track of time, but perhaps it was in the late 1980's or very early 1990's when we met. 

Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that we have travelled a rough road together through thick and thin for many years.  Through abusive marriage where not only the mother was in danger, but also the little child.  Through attending two marriage ceremonies after that, one of which is still working well.

I have had the honour of meeting Lourdes, their mother, on several occasions and even though we had some difficulty in communications, I could sense her goodness.  I spoke to her in Spanish and she replied in Portugese and somehow we managed to get the message across.  It would actually be an excellent comedy to write, just that scene alone.  Neither of the girls spoke much English when we first met so I had to communicate in Spanish, which again was quite comical.  Their Mom used to come and spend several months with the girls when they lived together before they married and this is how I got to know her better. 

Such memories come flooding back now when I recall those days.

Lourdes will be greatly missed by those who knew her.  She was 83 and died in her home with her family near her.  A peaceful end for a good lady.