The Jane Miller is found, may she rest in peace

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The Great Lakes are North America’s inland sea. They’re actually five seas of varying sizes. The largest and most northerly is Lake Superior. Then there’s Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Georgian Bay, though strictly speaking, part of Lake Huron, could also be included as one of the Great Lakes, or sea in its own right.

Its cliff-lined deep, blue waters on the western, Bruce Peninsula side have as stormy a reputation and as long and rich a marine heritage as any of the Great Lakes. Continue reading

Paying the nuclear price of plans gone askew

(Author’s note: Among the several province’s in Canada that own and operate nuclear-powered, electricity-generating stations, Ontario has by far the most reactors. They are located on the shores of two of the Great Lakes, on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, and Lake Huron, near the town of Kincardine. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the publicly-owned, provincial Crown Corporation proprietor of Ontario’s nuclear plants. They include the Bruce Nuclear plant near Kincardine, which is operated under a long-term agreement, by a private company, Bruce Power. Highly radioactive nuclear waste, including a growing stockpile of used fuel, is stored on-site at Ontario nuclear plants, as it is elsewhere in Canada. But that is not considered a long-term solution. Canada’s federally-appointed Nuclear Waste Management Organization several years ago proposed an Adaptive Phased Management approach to that issue, including development of a Deep Geological Repository. The NWMO is currently conducting a lengthy site-selection process to find a suitable site. Meanwhile, OPG is awaiting final approval of a separate but similar deep-rock facility at the Bruce Nuclear site for low and intermediate-level, radioactive waste that it first proposed at least 13 years ago. Such waste, is now routinely transported to the Bruce site for what’s also regarded as temporary, above-ground storage. As might be imagined, the idea of burying nuclear waste in close proximity to the shore of one of the Great Lakes, which are shared by Canada and the U.S., has proven controversial.)

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Bruce Nuclear site

 

I’m not kidding. Well, maybe a little. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a special room set aside at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) headquarters in Toronto, or its Western Waste Management Facility at the Bruce Nuclear site, where managers go to pound their heads against a wall. Continue reading

Gratitude journal #2: Meeting my touchstone

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About 15 minutes up a section of the Bruce Trail through the woods near my place there’s a small branch trail leading to a cliff-edge lookout over Hope Bay, and Georgian Bay off in the distance. But on the way there the trail winds through a rugged area with large, moss-covered boulders on either side. Especially on grey, overcast days the moss has a luminous, iridescent glow. I have stopped and taken a closer look at some of them, especially the little gardens that have managed to take root on top, where there must be a thin layer of soil collected over a great many years. It’s a wonder, how nature can endure and survive on so little, through winter’s bitter cold in these parts, under a protective blanket of snow, and come alive in the spring. Continue reading

Speaking of “priorities,” Canada’s quietly looming health-care crisis

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A big-hearted smile from a Canadian “Mountie” was a little refugee’s first experience of Canada after crossing the border from the U.S. last winter.

I know I’m not alone in this: the feeling of being fortunate, relieved, and proud, to be a resident of this good country called Canada, as the sands run out for the otherwise deeply troubling year of 2017. Not that prospects for 2018 hold much promise of being better.

There are other good places to live, countries and communities large and small where people who believe in human decency are doing what they can to keep that light on; people who know in their hearts that unless we can learn to live together and celebrate our diversity, rather than hate it, there is no hope for the future.  Continue reading

Deer in the headlights, and the intelligence of mushrooms

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Just after night settled in here – about 6 p.m. in mid-November – I was driving slowly along Cathedral Drive when suddenly my headlights lit up two white-tailed deer a short distance ahead. I had plenty of time to slow down more in case they panicked the wrong way into my van; and time to get a good look at the beautiful creatures as they literally high-tailed it off the road and into the woods. Continue reading

My Buddy

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My big boy, my best friend, my Buddy

Startles me with his sudden barking.

Are there coyotes prowling outside in the black night

I ask, as he lifts his head and his bark almost becomes a howl,

A warning, followed each time by a low grumble of concern.

Maybe it’s just the deer in the garden again, browsing on what’s left of the kale.

Something is nearby, prowling through this black night, claiming it as its own.

The woods are full of eyes, solitary beings, or packs of them we can only imagine.

The night belongs to them now. My ownership means nothing.

My loyal shepherd wants out to defend us.

But I pat his handsome head as he looks at me with worried, loving eyes.

And I tell him, don’t worry, we’re safe in the light behind these walls

And in the morning you’ll have new scents to pick up and territory to mark

To your heart’s content, my big, beautiful boy, my loyal friend.

And he inclines his head in that curious way Shepherds have, listening carefully.

We’re okay, I tell him gently, I’m okay. And he lifts his paw for a touch of my hand.

He knows.

 

The necessity of Remembrance

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The Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought and won by the four divisions of the Canadian Corps with much loss of life in April, 1917 is rightly celebrated as a formidable military achievement and notable nation-building event for Canada. Earlier attacks by British and French forces had failed to take the heavily-defended German position.

The striking memorial on the ridge that commemorates the battle and the 3,600 Canadians who died there is widely regarded as one of the most impressive of such monuments. German troops were even assigned to guard the site after the fall of France in June, 1940.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of that battle this year has notably improved remembrance of it among Canadians of all ages.

But remembrance of another even more deadly battle in which the Canadian Corps played a decisive role in victory, also fought 100 years ago, is sadly lacking. Continue reading