Searching for hope on rainy days

This question is often asked by historians, and others who take an interest in such things:

How did one of the most civilized, cultured nations on earth fall victim to takeover by a ruthless, mass-murdering, dictatorial tyranny? How was the nation that gave the world the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart led into a world war that killed many millions of people and left much of Europe in ruins, including Germany itself? Continue reading

In memory of Mom


My Mom and Dad, circa 1948

I’ve wondered since my Mom’s passing a few days ago, indeed struggled with thoughts about whether or not I should say something here about it.

Uppermost in my thoughts are what she would want; and on top of that now is the realization I’ve come to fairly recently in life that she would be well aware of whatever I might say about her, and others – especially family members now long gone – who had an important, formative role in her life.

I will not dare try to express an understanding of the after-life being a human spirit has after worldly death. That would be foolish and more than likely only diminish the wonderful truth others more attuned to such things have known and experienced first-hand.

But based on what others I know and trust have experienced, I will say I have absolute faith my Mom knows what everyone she loved in life is doing and saying – and, in my case at this moment, writing. Continue reading

Trump takes aim at Canada


Cows being milked on a modern dairy factory-farm


Suddenly, unexpectedly, in the midst of worsening tensions with North Korea and the risk of a major, possibly nuclear war that entails, U.S., President Donald Trump took aim at Canada and fire what sounded an awful lot like a trade-war shot across our bows.

But of all the things Trump had to pick as an excuse to get bigly tough with Canada on trade, why did it have to be dairy? Continue reading

The carousel



A little girl was out walking with her Grandmother. It was December, 31, 1923, some time in the early afternoon, and it was her birthday. She would be three years old when the big clock in the downstairs parlour of the Thompson home on Melville Avenue in Toronto struck midnight.

The little girl looked up at her grandma several times as they walked toward Christie Street, and then turned right toward Bloor. She wondered why she was so quiet, quieter than usual. The child had seen that look before, many times lately, with all that was happening; and it frightened her.

She had seen what happened to poor Lila, poor, beautiful Lila, never to be the same again, as time would tell. Continue reading

Let’s make a miracle



Cathedral Drive Farm homestead

It’s a lovely spring day here at Cathedral Drive Farm. The sun is shining in a clear, absolutely cloudless, blue sky.

I walk around making mental notes of all there is to do: a big pile of scrap wood to sort out and do something with; new eavestroughing to put on the new roof I built last fall for the extension on the house; a big barn-door to rebuild after it got blown off during a winter storm; and last but by no means least, garden-ground to cultivate when it’s dry enough, maybe by the end of this month. Continue reading

The tears of the hopeful dead


The Canadian National Vimy Memorial

Yesterday Canada celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War. That battle in which thousands of Canadian, British and German soldiers died has become part of Canada’s national mythology, a seminal event from which its emergence as full-fledged country in its own right is often dated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and and a total of 25,000 other Canadians were there, along with many other dignitaries, including members of Great Britain’s Royal Family, Prince of Wales, Charles, and his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. French President Francois Hollande, were also in attendance.

But I daresay the dominant presence was the collective spirits of those who died there, watched over by one of the most strikingly-impressive, national war memorials ever conceived and built. The crowd has gone; the field of battle is relatively quiet again except perhaps for some visitors paying their respects. And of course the dead remain, in known and unknown graves.

Continue reading

On the cost of Boomer lessons unlearned


A Portrait of A Young Canadian Boomer

I don’t know how much of an impression our local MPP Bill Walker made at Queen’s Park in Toronto with his recent comments and questions about the two big, unresolved issues of long-term-care bed shortages and school closures. But he sure gave me a lot of food for thought.

I’ve lately found out a lot more than I ever thought I’d want to know about Canada’s looming health-care funding crisis, especially as it involves homecare and long-term care for the most elderly and frail among us.

But publicly-funded homecare has its limits, as I’ve said before with full disclosure of my family connection to the issue. Continue reading

Fear and Trembling in Hope Ness


A storm clod taking shape

(Author’s note, May 23, 2017: since I first wrote and published this post, U.S. President Donald Trump has fired now-former FBI director James Comey. He has offered several reasons for doing so, including to relieve the pressure he felt he was under on account of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling into last fall’s U.S. election to allegedly help his campaign. It’s been widely reported Trump told high-ranking Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the firing that he felt relieved the pressure was off. Turns out it wasn’t, as subsequent events clearly showed. His firing of Comey may yet prove to have been a huge blunder for him, setting in motion fateful consequences. We’ll see. Anything, and I mean anything, can still happen. Trump will not let the investigations, finish, including the one now in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.)

The definition of the word “terror” is easy enough: The Oxford dictionary defines it as “extreme fear.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “a state of intense fear.”

Some examples of how the word is used include, “a regime that rules by terror; bombings and other acts of terror; a campaign of terror against ethnic minority groups.”

But a suitable definition for the word “terrorism” is harder to come by. “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims,” says Oxford.  “The systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion,” says Merriam-Webster. Continue reading

A bird at the window


The old woman looked deeply into her father’s eyes for any sign at all his spirit was still alive behind the now pale, blue eyes in the ancient head in front of her.

There was a time, she could still remember, when those eyes were as blue as the sky and full of a spirit that wanted to see everything, that was like a bird fluttering madly with curiosity against the living room window.

That very thing had happened one sunny, spring day when she and her father and mother were together. He had stood up suddenly in the middle of a sentence when the bird appeared and he actually cried out, “yes, my little friend, yes, I see you, yes I’m here. And I would fly away with you if I could.”

And then after the bird had just as suddenly flown away, up into the afternoon sky, he had dropped back into his chair, put his head in his hands and wept, saying over and over through his tears, “yes, yes, yes.” Continue reading