Sunday, November 27, 2011

Erster Advent - Advent Celebration

The rain came down, as if poured from a bucket onto people, as they waited for buses to take them to their destinations.

I was one of those people patiently waiting.  I was rewarded after a 15 or 20 minute wait when the Cannon bus arrived. My destination -  St. John's Lutheran Church.

The buses are always less frequent on a Sunday and on some routes do not run at all.  I was late by ten minutes and started up the steep staircase to get to the worship area.  Happily for me, as my old creaky bones were vigorous protesting, the usher saw me and came downstairs and ran the elevator for me. I was really grateful to him, as rain and arthritis do not make a good combination and I was in a great deal of pain.

This service is perhaps the most beautiful one of the year.  For those unfamiliar with the traditions of Advent, in Lutheran, as well as in some other churches, a wreath is made with red candles and red ribbons on it.For those who read this blog from other countries, a wreath is a round circle made of evergreen branches. Some people still use branches from the evergreen tree, but now most people use the wonderfully crafted ready made artificial ones. It is actually safer to use the artificial one as the candles will be lit.

On the first of Advent which was today, the first candle is lit.  Next Sunday will be the next one and so on.  It is meant to be a reminder of the coming of Jesus the Messiah into the world.It is done for four weeks in advance of Christmas.  It is a lovely tradition.

As many people may know, the 25th of December was chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  At that time, Christians were persecuted by the Romans and many died as martyrs.  In order to blend in and not be noticed, the 25th was chosen as it was a date celebrated by the Romans themselves for one of their pagan holidays.

I always think it is interesting to learn why things happen.

The service was long, an hour and a half, but it sped by so fast. among the musical instruments played were a trumphet, recorders, flutes, piano and of course, the wonderful choir.

We sang some of the old favourites hymns  in English, others in German.  I am fortunate that I can sing in both languages which I enjoy doing.  I like going to the bilingual service when it happens as it allows me to stay connected with the German language.  When I was young, I spoke German but gradually I lost a lot of the language as I didn't use it.  In Quebec, where I am from, I went to the Lutheran Church where 3 languages were spoken, English, German and French.That was a little confusing, switching from one language to another. I can handle switching from two languages from the three languages now are beyond my ability.

There was one song sung by the choir which just enthralled me.  It is called "A Caribbean Noel" by Shayla Blake.  The choir outdid themselves there.  It was such a catchy tune and they must have practiced a great deal just to keep the rhythm going.  They were tremendous!

The church was well filled in spite of the downpour.  We were all invited downstairs for refreshments and as they always do, the ladies provided a veritable feast.  It was good to see both men and women serving.

Helpers went from table to table offering choices of the different tortes (cakes of many layers).  Some poured coffee, some served platters of open faced sandwiches, and some replenished the milk at each table.

This was a day that temptation ruled and only the very strong willed were able to resist the scrumptious tortes,

Needless to say, I did not resist temptation but fell happily into the trap of eating such heavenly sweets.

All in all, everybody seemed very contented and happy.  It was all well organized and ran smoothly.

A day to be remembered and cherished.

Thanks for reading my blog.  I wish you a  Joyeux Noel, Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Frohliche Weihnachten well in advance in case you do not have a chance to revisit the blog before the actual celebration.  May your season be happy, filled with family and friends who care for you, and may you remember those less fortunate who have nobody to spend Christmas with.  Some missions to the street people may need help with serving Christmas dinner, some may need help with peeling potatoes.  There is always something willing hands can do to brighten up the corner where they live.

Have a great day!

A presumption of guilt

A presumption of guilt


Please click on the above link to read the story.  It is about a Canadian soldier returning from Afghanistan, his family and all told from the point of view of a special gift.

I would like to give credit to my German speaking friends as well as my son Kenneth who enlightened me tremendously about our Military Forces.

Thank you so much for all your valuable input.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An eventful day at Jackson's Square

I must say that living downtown certainly makes life very interesting.  I had been to the Hamilton General to visit a friend in the hospital who had fallen and broken her arm.  I stayed at least two hours which is unusual for me, but she appeared to want to visit so I stayed.

In the bed opposite, a young man lay.  Yes, that is correct, I said a young man lay.  I just cannot agree to having men and women in the same room!  This poor fellow had been shot in his own place by some unknown intruders.  Apparently he was brought in late at night.  I hadn't heard about that on the news.

There were two men and two women in the ward.  After the visit, I went back home, checked my email and replied to some, then took my walker and went to Jackson Square.  As I was explaining how I wanted my business cards done to the very nice young lady at Grand N Toy,  I heard a lot of swearing and turned to see a big fellow led out with his hands in handcuffs behind his back.  After paying for my order, I left and walked past the Royal Bank and heard another commotion.  This time I saw a man on the ground in the bank in some distress and making strange noises.  One older lady told me that he had a mental health issue.

Needing a little change from all this commotion, I decided to take my book back to the library and sit in the children's area and watch the market from above. I enjoy doing that for two reasons.  One is that I love being around children and two is that it is fascinating to see people walk downstairs in the market, poking their way through it.  I must have sat there at least half an hour before I left to go and get some fresh vegetables from the market.  I also bought some things at the drug store (food items) and now I am set for another week.

I am so glad that the drugstore has food as the nearest little food market is on James Street South, at Augusta.

Right now, as I write at this late hour of 12:50 a.m., I hear yelling on the street.  I think somebody must be having a little too good of a time!  It does not sound like a threatening noise so I assume some fellows have drank too much and are whooping it up.

Living downtown sure can be an interesting adventure.  There is one fellow who basically has taken over the bench in front of the CIBC.  He sits there with his hat extended or oftentimes he lies there but still with his hat extended.  A friend of mine, Eric, who also was a reporter, told me of his adventures with, shall we call him Richard.  He got a little too close to the bench and it must have disturbed his little nap.  Richard looked up and said to Eric "White devil".  Now Eric is a gentle soul, very kind and soft spoken.  It certainly was not a good description of him!  I spoke to the caretaker of a nearby Church who is downtown all the time and he knows this fellow and has seen him do drugs and drink heavily. He lives in a shelter on James North.  Unfortunately, his abusive behaviour has caused people to toss him out from various places.It is sad really to think of such an elderly man (at least 65 years of age) behaving in such a way.  Where is his dignity?

I often think what has caused people to take such downhill turns in their lives?  What circumstances have driven them to degrade themselves to this state?  Sometimes it may be bad choices, sometimes a job loss and no future employment opportunities, and sometimes it is a choice they make themselves.  I remember in Toronto when I did street work on Friday nights, there was a lady called Victoria.  She was always at the same corner, over the hot air vent.  We got quite friendly and I would go down and visit her.  A Toronto paper wrote up her story, her daughter out in Vancouver happened to see the story, came for her and brought her back to live with her.  However, Victoria did not like the confined life with its rules and regulations and returned to her street vent.  It was her choice. From what I understood from her history, she had once been a nurse at St. Mike's.  I don't know why she ended up on the streets.

Another time, again in Toronto, we found a young girl who had been forced into prostitution by a pimp who told her he loved her.  Unhappily she believed him.  The organization I worked with managed to get her safely away from him and back to her parents in the States.  That was in the 1980's.

The Salvation Army is out with the kettles already collecting for Christmas for the needy and I try to give something every time I go past them.  The Sally Ann does worthwhile work.

Well, on that note, shall close for now.  I am not able to sleep for some reason so went on the computer to amuse myself.

Thanks for dropping by and come again some time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shirley Margit Elford

A photo of her taken from her Memorial Service Order of Service

Today, November 20, 2011, a memorial service was held at  Liuna Station for Shirley Margit Elford.

A private family service had been held prior to this public memorial.  Shirley was a well known and much loved Hamiltonian.  She was born on August 4, 1943 and died November 10, 2011.

She had been battling ovarian cancer for several years now with courage and determination.  Her strong faith stood her in good stead in this period of time.  She lived out her Christian  (Lutheran) faith in her daily life and how she treated others.

 Liuna's auditorium was packed with very few seats remaining unfilled.  I will  name a few of Shirley's contributions and achievements here.

     President Women's Art Association of Hamilton
     Chair Art Selection Committee Hamilton Public Library
     Board Memver - Glass Art Society UA
     President Theatre Aquarius
     Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Board
     Art Gallery of Hamilton Board Member
     Board of Governors - Art Gallery of Hamilton
     Hamilton Community Foundation Board
     Co-chair with Hon. Lincoln Alexander Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative
     The Women of Distinction (YWCA)
     Woman of the Year in the Arts - City of Hamilton
     The Hamilton Gallery of Distinction.

Shirley's motto which guided her life was "Loving humankind.".

She was a  daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a world famous glass blower, but above all else, she was a loving and caring human being who made friends wherever she went.

I first met Shirley at the former Henderson Hospital in February of 2006 where we were both patients in the Rehab Unit to get our mobility back.  Shirley had had a fall outside in the dead of winter and lay on the lawn unable to get help as her husband  Gerry could not hear her call for help.  By her sheer determination, she crawled from the spot she had fallen and up the stairs to the front door in spite of a broken hip.  

There were two in our room at the time and they made space for Shirley by bringing in another bed.  Nancy, Shirley and I got along very well.  After we left the hospital, we kept in touch by phone and via Facebook.

I remember when her Glass exhibition opened at The Art Gallery.  Her daughters came in and helped her dress and a wheelchair accessible cab took them to the opening night.  In spite of her pain, her determination once again showed through and she was there for the event.

Another recollection of the time we spent together in Rehab was when we both cried together over a sad movie about Alzheimers as both of us had been touched by family members with this disease.  Shirley was a gentle soul but that did not mean she was a pushover!

She got things done and was a respected and loved figure here in Hamilton.  I have never seen so many people come out to a memorial service as I did today.

Let me describe the service.

Piper Jim Stewart played the Lament as we all stood for the beginning of the service. It was so beautiful.  Her brother Bud Sinclair welcomed everybody on behalf of the family.  The Editor of The Spectator, Dana Robbins spoke of Shirley as a Community Leader.  He also gave special mention to Lincoln Alexander, the former Ontario Governor General  who was present.  In fact, he arrived when I did, and I held the door open for him as he was pushed in his wheelchair by his new wife.

There also was music by Michael Mancini and Phil Rose who played and sang, "On Eagles Wings."  It was very well done.

Diane Brokenshire spoke about her long and intimate friendship with Shirley and brought up some humourous things which people seemed to enjoy.

Sarah Gueverra sang one of Shirley favourite songs "Angel".  This young lady sang like an angel and it touched many people.

Ann Elford spoke about her Mom and something that brought tears to my eyes, was when they played Jerry and Shirley's special song that they used to dance to "Perhaps Love."  They were so much in love with each other, sharing life as it came through sickness and health.

I thought this was very endearing when her four grandchildren came up to the front and one of them spoke about his grandmother. Everybody applauded them.

Pastor C. Dechert, a Lutheran pastor whom I know, said a beautiful prayer for Shirley and her family and friends. He is a personal friend of the whole family.

The last word, though was by Shirley herself.  She appeared on the screen and talked to all of us and told people how much she had appreciated us.  At this stage, it was hard not to cry and I saw a lot of people, including men, dabbing their faces.

Amazing Grace was played by Piper Jim Stewart to close off the service and guests were invited into the next room for refreshments.

It has been a very moving day and one I will not forget.

Thanks for reading this blog and I hope I gave you a little glimpse into the life of a good lady who made a difference.

Spiritual Life

reconnect with God, Allah, Islam, spirituality -

For an excellent article on staying connected with God on a daily basis, click on the link above.  This physician writes very well and has made some good points.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

St. John's Lutheran Church Bazaar

The weather could not have been nicer.  Sunshine, not very cold and a good crowd.  As I walked from the bus past the church, there already was a good crowd waiting to get in.  Four of my friends were in line there and another friend came later on.

Unfortunately, they missed each other.

I found that this year, people headed to the jewellery table first.  The women were like delicate bees buzzing around the lovely costume jewellery just hoping to find what they were searching for.  The other very popular table was filled with delicious German baking.

There were almond tarts, tortes of various kinds, cheesecake, homemade bread, various kinds of German pastries, as well as pound cake to mention only a few of the delectable offerings on sale for willing buyers.  If shoppers don't get there early enough, things just disappear like magic and there may have been some disappointed folk on that account.

However, the bottomless cup of coffee, tea, or herbal tea would be a consolation, or the Sauer Kraut and German sausage on a large bun would certainly help cheer them up. Coffee is $1.00 and many people came up for refills time and again.  If one wanted to have the meal, it was $5.50 and included the coffee.

However, in the beginning of the event, many people bought slices of the scrumptious tortes and had coffee or tea with it.  Each slice was individually priced, far below the cost of any restaurant. They then had to pay for the coffee, which was still reasonable, at $1.00 which included many refills.

 By the time I got a break from pouring coffee and to have my lunch, there was hardly anything left to buy from the sweet table.

On the handcrafted table, there were so many finely made articles such as slippers, doilies,  scarves, shawls, baby outfits to chose from.  The ladies of this church are extremely gifted in baking and knitting and crocheting.  They are extremely generous with their time and effort.

Need the I mention that there was a white elephant table as well?  They had some fantastic bargains there.

A friend from my building, who moved many years ago, came up to me when I was pouring coffee.  I hadn't seen her for such a long time. It was so wonderful to see her again. I had met her husband in the mall once though. It was at least six years ago when they moved..

What a lovely surprise that was for me.  I used to babysit "Buddy" when they went to the States.  "Buddy" is their cat, just in case you are wondering.

My friend Jennifer brought me home in the car which I was glad for as I felt really tired.

Have a great day and please come again if you have the time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Hamilton Arts Council 18th Annual Literary Awards event

On November 14,2011, the Hamilton Arts Council (formerly called Arts Hamilton) and the Literary Arts Commitee held a gala evening at Theatre Aquarius.

It was for the annual Literary Awards.  This year, it was held in a different room which was actually quite intimate.  The event was pay as you wish which I think is a good idea as it doesn't prevent anybody from attending.

There was a lovely refreshment table and people could buy drinks if they wished.

The actual ceremony began at 7:30.  The winners of the different awards were as follows:

David Haskins for "Urban Fox" -  a Seraphim Editions Award for Individual Poem.

Gary Barwin for "The Porcupinity of the Stars" - a Bryan Prince Bookseller Award for Poetry Book

Sylvia McNicoll for "Last Chance For Paris" a Reliable Life Insurance Award for Children & Young Adult fiction Book.

Peter Edwards for "The Bandido Massacre" The Printing House Award for Nonfiction Book.

Trevor Cole for "Practical Jean"  Epic Books Award for Fiction Book.

We were treated to an exciting exhibit of Slam Poetry put on by the Burlington Slam Project.  These young people did an absolutely terrific job and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had never seen Slam Poetry before.

It was a very interesting evening and I feel it was the best ever Annual Literary Awards event.

Thanks for dropping by.  Have a great day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November 6, 2011 - Carneeeie Gallery and Tower Poetry Society together

Valerie Nielsen's poem

The picture which the poem was written for
What a grand event this turned out to be.  Although the numbers were small, it was an intimate gathering of like minded people.  I didn't take any pictures of the gathering this time.  It was held downstairs at the Gallery, a place many of the people remembered when they used to go to workshops there for Tower.

The walls were a pale green, with wooden paneling.  They had set up chairs for a large group.

Instead of sitting in the more formal setting, we all sat in a circle and this was fabulous as I could hear most of what was said.  Trevor also was glad for that.

We did about an hour of poetry.  I read two of my cat poems plus two of the Art Walk poems that I have had with Carnegie Gallery. My cat poems got a chuckle which pleased me as they were written tongue in cheek.  Jeff also read some of his cat poems as well.

I was most fortunate to get a ride with Bob and Valerie who picked me up.  Jennifer came in about half way through the event as she had to wait so long for the Dundas bus.  I arranged that she would come back with us in the car.  Bob and Valerie are so gracious, immediately they said yes when I asked.

The funny thing is that on our way we passed Jeff on his bike on the way to Dundas!  Being quite mischievous, I felt like asking Bob to blow the horn, but then thought better of it, as it may have rattled him and he could have had an accident. Iit sure was a long ride for him.

After the event, we walked along King Street in Dundas and took some pictures of the art work and the poetry plus some new things in the lovely Christmas decorations done by the merchants.

The advertisement done by the Carnegie Gallery for the event

Here are some shots of the displays in the windows along King Street.  Very wonderful and upscale area.


Here is a shot of the three of them together before we went to their car.  Jeff was with us for a while but not by this time.

Bob suggested this picture for the red leaves and I asked all of them to get into it.

All in all, a delightful afternoon.  Now I have to get ready to introduce the guest speaker at the Book Club, my friend Mary and her wonderful book on the McQuesten Family. Fortunately it is a very short walk for me.

Busy day today and the whole week will be busy.

Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Poetry and Art together in Dundas, Ontario

I thought she was cute

Jeff in front of an interesting door.

Jeff's poem
My friend Jeff picked me up and we went over to Dundas.  The bus runs only every hour to Dundas so I was very glad to have a ride. It is more fun to go with a friend than by yourself.

It is such a lovely small town atmosphere.  There were some splendid trees still with leaves on them and there are many stately homes in Dundas.  It is older than Hamilton.  I love going there as the shops are quaint and the people are very friendly.

Our purpose for going was to see our poems in the storefront windows.  Once a year, Tower Poets and Carnagie Gallery team together to match art work with poems.  This year, I picked a willow tree and wrote a poem about it.  Thanks to my pal Jeff, who took me to Coutes Drive Trail when it was a little warmer.  It was a very enjoyable time walking that trail..

The willow tree and my poem to the side of it.

That is the picture of the willow tree, and the store owner had put my poem beside it.  It might have been better to have the picture on top with the poem underneath it.  However, that is how the shop owner put it.

We bumped into a fellow poet Marianne and she was doing to art walk as well which was very pleasant.

We were fortunate in the weather as the sun was shining and it was not overly cold.

Here are some cute shops of some displays in Dundas which I liked.

Jeff, at an interesting gate

My buddy and I - he's a bear and we were nose to nose

We sat in the wonderful sun for awhile and enjoyed the ambiance of Dundas.  He dropped me off on James Street where it was safe to let me out rather than on Main Street, which is like a racetrack!

All in all, a nice way to spend a couple of hours.