Jack 1998-2008

Five years ago today at 2:15 pm ET, my beautiful German Shepherd Jack died.  We had his vet euthanize him before his body did it by itself.  It was getting pretty close; I don’t think he flowers-and-photo of German Shepherd Jackwould have survived another night.  He had a number of physical ailments; we don’t know exactly what all was wrong internally but I suspect a fast-growing cancer was involved.  He was only 9 3/4 years old.  He had been my best friend, counselor and “baby-dog” for 9 1/2 of those years.

Jack came to me as a puppy needing a home with love and freedom.  He had been tied outside and neglected, fed irregularly and poorly.  At about 4 months, his back legs were so weak he couldn’t climb a step. He didn’t know how to play or run around.  That broke my heart.

He learned to play – quickly!  There were quirks in his personality that remained for life.  A dog trainer told me that the first three months of a pup’s life are very important for socialization.  That is when they learn from their mother and littermates how to play properly and they learn how to interact with humans.  I don’t know how long Jack was with his mother, but I do know his first couple of months on his own were literally spent on his own.

Jack-grave-stoneI had not wanted a dog at that time, but couldn’t find a good home for him.  So he stayed with me, and I am so thankful.  He taught me so much and was my constant companion.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Jan. 27/13)

True Romance

Love, sex, relationships and marriage all featured this week in almost every storyline.  Hayley-returnsTumultuous, even histrionic, tales of intrigue, deception and secrets and, amid all of it, one fleeting glimpse of true romance.

Hayley arrives home from Palm Springs.  When asked if she’d like something to eat, she says no, she’s been nibbling all through the long day.  Anna flashes her a warning true romance roy-holds-up-plate for hayleysignal, yes you want to eat.  And Roy holds up a plate of beef stroganoff, wrapped in saran, awaiting her.  My favourite, thank you, oh yes please, Hayley says to him.

He is so excited about her being there that he didn’t really pay attention to her previous statement about not being hungry so he’s just happy that he can provide sustenance for her.  We didn’t see her eating her dinner, but I bet she cleaned up every bit of it.

No stroganoff for you

An absolutely lovely moment, set up for us by Roy’s dithering in the café kitchen earlier.  Worrying about setting aside the stroganoff, obviously a bit hit with customers since it allocated-stroganoffwas nearly all gone.  Lloyd ordered it and was told there was no more.  Seeing the wrapped plate, he protested.  But Roy told him firmly that the plate was already allocated.  Even with Roy’s impeccable standards of customer service, the customer in his café does not always come first, not when Hayley’s needs are involved.

roy-with-flowersAlas, by the end of the week, even Roy and Hayley were at odds with each other.  Hayley decided to patch things up between Roy and Mary.  It didn’t go well.  But I have more confidence in their ability to sort out their disagreement than I do about any of the other relationships unraveling on the street.  oh-yes-pleaseLeanne, Nick, Peter, Gail, Audrey, Kylie and David – they and pretty much everybody else on the street could learn a lot from Roy and Hayley about caring about and respecting your partner.

A Nation’s Songs

Whatever one might think of the US of A, they got good anthems. Watching Monday’s Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Alicia Olatuja nydailynewsPresidential Inauguration, the high point for me was the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir giving it to the Battle Hymn of the Republic. What a song!  What voices!  (click to hear)

Wonderful as it is, the Battle Hymn of the Republic isn’t the only great song that Americans can sing at special events. And they all came out at President Obama’s Inauguration. James Taylor sang America the Beautiful and Kelly Clarkson gave a nice country twang to My Country tis of Thee. Beyoncé closed out the nation’s music with the official anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

Star-Spangled-Banner-1908-1919 Lib of Congress PDI especially like The Star-Spangled Banner because of the story behind it. As a Canadian, I feel a bit proprietorial about it. It came from an 1814 British Navy attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812. The American forces won that battle and the tattered flag still proudly flew atop the fort. That sight prompted poet Francis Scott Key to write the words that, when set to music, became the national anthem. Despite winning that battle, the Americans lost the war. But they got a great anthem out of it.  Lemons and lemonade: the fabled American entrepreneurial spirit.

My Country tis of Thee was the de facto anthem prior to the official selection of The Star-Spangled Banner in 1931. It uses the same melody as the older God Save the King/Queen. America the Beautiful also was used as an anthem and efforts have continued through the years to make it the official anthem or at least an official national hymn. The arguments presented for it as national anthem are that, compared to The Star-Spangled Banner, its melodic arrangement is easier to sing and its sentiments are not evocative of war.

Anthem double meanings

Hartford circus fire 6 Jul 1944The official national march of the US is The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa. It is customarily played after the President gives a speech at a public event or ceremony. In circus and entertainment venues, it is called “the Disaster March” and is played only to signal to performers and personnel that there is a serious emergency.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic has its origins in the Civil War, on the Union side. But the tune was written a bit earlier, in 1856, being first used in a camp hymn called “Canaan’s Happy Shore” or “Brothers, Will You Meet Me?”. Early in the Civil War, Union soldiers used the tune as a marching song, with their own words. “John Brown’s body lies a’mouldering in the grave” was a bit of poking fun at one of their members named John Brown and the memory of the anthem sheet music Battle_Hymn_of_the_Republic_Lib of Congress abolitionist John Brown who was hung after an attack on the Armory at Harper’s Ferry in 1859.

In November 1861 Julia Ward Howe put new words to the tune at the request of a friend, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. The Battle Hymn of the Republic as we know it was born. Indeed, the melody and the words do stir one to an overwhelming urge to march or at minimum stand to attention and salute. It has become perhaps the pre-eminent national hymn of the US. For the most part, its allegiance to one side of the Civil War is overlooked.

Powerful music all. And in the lyrics, melody or musical adaptation of each, a part of the history of the nation is told.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Jan. 20/13)

Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is an art and a craft.  It requires skill in preparation and fly fishing Durham_Ranger_salmon_fly-Michael-Maggs-wikicommonsexecution, an eye for beauty, the ability to reproduce nature, and patience.  It is duplicitous by its very nature.  The fisherman must create something beautiful to the fish, but a beauty that is true in its appearance.  He must reproduce an appealing reality, in essence.

A smart fish will take time to watch and gauge its actions before believing that the beautiful dancing insect is genuine.  The fisherman must wait as long as the fish does.  When the fish takes a big leap of faith, the fisherman too acts fast. Then the fish finds out it is a cruel hoax.  The enticing exterior hides a barbed hook.  Too late then for the fish.

does-you-creditLewis has been fly fishing this week.  The lure Lewis created for Gail was simply that he found her an honourable and enticing woman.  An easy lure to make for anyone.  But he crafted it well and his casting in Gail’s direction has been perfectly timed.  He has her hooked now.

Taking the bait

We wait now only to see if he plays the line right and reels Gail in without her managing to escape the hook.  So far, Gail hasn’t proved to be the smartest fish in the river.  It’s possible he didn’t need to waste such a beautiful lure on her.  But I’m sure he’s a man who believes if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

Approaching_the_net_geograph.org_.uk_kelt-salmon-wikicommonsThe smoldering looks, the touching of hand or arm, the flattery of her motherly wisdom and care, whispered words – Gail has been like a big-eyed old trout just saying ‘please give me the bait’.

Her falling for him despite everything she knows about him, and the even worse that she has believed about him, isn’t out of character for Gail.  She’s shown herself able to be duped by almost any man who walks past her, and Lewis is very skilled with considerable practice.  I thought that even she would get suspicious at the job offer of a lifetime in Italy that Lewis turned down kisssupposedly.  But no, she doesn’t see anything odd about such coincidental timing.

So she’s going to engage in whatever she thinks they will be engaging in, and she’s willing to throw her mother’s feelings over in order to do it.  I don’t know when Lewis is going to tell her what he’s been doing.   But I hope he does it before a) they sleep together and b) she actually tells Audrey.  I don’t want to see either Gail or Audrey humiliated that much.

HRH Baby

With the expected Royal baby, there will be a kinship situation that hasn’t existed since Queen Victoria reigned.

royal_family-balcony-detail-wikicommons-Magnus-DThere will be 3 generations of direct heirs apparent to the throne:  the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince William’s child.  Like Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s children have become grandparents while she is still on the throne.

In December 2012 the line of succession was changed in law to simply the firstborn of the Prince-of-Wales-Investiture-1969-education.gtj.org.ukheir.  It had previously been the eldest son.  If the first child was a girl, she was heir only if she never had a brother.  That is easy enough to grasp.  It’s a second change made by the Queen to titles that’s less well known.  When I saw headlines that William and Kate’s baby, if a girl, would be a Princess, I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t be already.

Until now, only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales’ eldest son had the title Prince.  His sisters and younger brothers were known as Lady or Lord.  William and Kate’s baby will be in that position, great-grandchild of the Queen, from the Prince of Wale’s eldest son.  By the change in succession rules made in December, that child, whether a boy or girl, will be in line for the throne after William.  The title change means she will be HRH Princess Baby, not The Lady Baby.  So too will her siblings, for this applies to all the children of the Prince of Wales’ direct heir.

British Royal Titles

Royal baby -titles-chart-by-D-Stewart
Click for larger view of royal titles

All children of a monarch are Prince or Princess.  The children of the monarch’s sons are also Prince or Princess, but daughters’ children take their titles from their fathers.  For the great-grandchildren, only the eldest son of the 3rd in line for the throne was called Prince.  Titles follow the male line, with the exception of the children of a regnant Queen.  I made this simplified chart (above) of who would have what title.  The chart below shows the current Royal Family with their primary titles.

Royal-Family-kinship-chart
Click for larger view of Royal Family titles

Birth and bestowed titles

The good thing about being Queen is you can give people titles.  So, for example, the Queen made Antony Armstrong-Jones an Earl before he married her sister Princess Margaret.   Margaret’s children inherited their titles from him.  Mark Phillips, when he married Princess Anne, chose not to receive a title.  Therefore their children, while in the line of succession, have no titles.  Also, if you have several titles, you can choose which you wish to use and pass on.  So the Queen and her son Prince Edward decided on Earl of Wessex for him when he married, instead of the customary dukedom.  He then chose that lesser title to use in giving his children titles.  So, although technically they are prince and princess, they are known as Lord and Lady.

A Princess born into the royal family continues to be called Princess and takes her husband’s titles.  A Prince’s wife, if a commoner, becomes princess but the title is not put before her own name.  Diana was never ‘Princess Diana’, she was ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’ for example.  She can also go by another title of his, as Kate did with Duchess of Cambridge.  If her husband has no other titles, she is known as Princess his name, as with Princess Michael of Kent (the Queen’s cousin by marriage).

Eldest royal baby girl

Down the road, another matter will need to be addressed if the royal baby is a girl.  The monarch’s eldest daughter may be named Princess Royal.  Unlike Prince of Wales that is Elizabeth_II-coronation-portrait-detail_1953-Library-Archives-Canada-PDa temporary title, Princess Royal is given for life.  Anne is the Princess Royal, and will remain so until her death.  The previous Princess Royal was Mary, daughter of George V.  As it stands, William’s heir eventually could be both Prince of Wales and Princess Royal.

I hope the baby is a girl.  I’d like to see these historic changes play out.  I read that they may include Elizabeth and Diana as middle names for a girl, but nothing on her first name.  My money is on Victoria.  It’s a “queenly” name and it would give us a Victoria II.

I found these websites helpful: 

“Would Prince William’s…?; “…title [of] daughter of a princess?”

Monarchist League NB Jan. 2013 Queen Letters Patent

House of Windsor family tree

HRH Prince Michael of Kent.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Jan. 13/13)

Honeymoon Suite

Probably Kylie could do better than Nick, but he’s a vast improvement on David.  So this was my favourite shot of the week.Nick-Kylie-honeymoon-suite

The repercussions of this will be horrible, so I truly hope Kylie and Nick had a good time in Heartbreak Hotel.

I’ve noticed that changes in Kylie’s makeup have kept pace with changes in her character.  As her actions have matured, so too has her look.  She’s gone from street streel to sophisticated lady.  Note that David’s look is also still in keeping with his character – nothing has changed.

David hugs KylieKylie has outgrown David.  She does love him, I believe, partly for whatever drew her to him in the first place and also because he treated her as a person with a brain and a heart.  But she doesn’t fully realize that he really doesn’t have either of those himself.

Comparing Kylie and Barney

He is a mummy’s boy who has reason to believe that tantrums will get him anything.  He Kylie and Barney Young David-with-Barney rabbitlikes having pets.  In some ways, Kylie replaced Barney the rabbit.  David likes her as long as she goes along with everything he wants and tells him that he is truly as wonderful as his mother has always told him.  That, presumably, is what Barney did although we’ll never know what the rabbit really thought.  Kylie was a kind of pet for him, someone less able to cope with the grown-up world than he is, someone who made him look responsible.

But, unlike Barney, Kylie let him know that she had aspirations outside his purview.  She wanted to join him in the world of hairdressing but he was absolutely opposed to that.  Kylie-hotel-barSo she got a job elsewhere.  She did so initially to spite him, but she grew into it and grew into herself.  David became frantic to bring her back into the hutch he’d made for her.  ‘Have to be a daddy, NOW!’  Stamp feet stamp feet stamp feet.

And Gail’s advice to Kylie?  ‘What’s the harm in giving him what he wants?’  She dressed it up in more therapist-type wording about relationship give-and-take so it sounded more like good counsel than Mummy-talk.  Kylie has come to respect Gail so she actually listened to her.

Kylie’s own decision made the most sense to me if she wanted to avoid a David tantrum: play along to keep the peace and stay on the pill.  It’s just too bad others found out.  More ‘therapy’ from Gail, and Kylie feeling guilty about deceiving her husband.

Nick-Kylie-wake-upNow Kylie has found out that there is another man who respects her abilities and recognizes her heart.  Problem is he’s David’s brother.  So Kylie feels double guilt now.  And you know that Gail will continue her protection of her boys.  If Gail actually took an objective look at her kids and compared them with Kylie, she might see that it’s Kylie she ought to be protecting against them, especially David.

Idle No More

Our ancestors wanted this land Canada so damned bad that they crossed the ocean, crossed the country in wagon trains, fought each other, fought the indigenous peoples, and cleared forest for pasture and crop land. Subsequent waves of immigrants saved up for steerage passage to the New World.

ox-in-field-hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.caNow we, descendants of these migrants, stand idle and leave it to the First Nations peoples to fight to save the land. Idle No More is not just about protecting existing First Nations and treaty rights. It’s about protecting all of us, and our shared homeland, from legislative changes that may have serious repercussions down the road.

Bill C-45 was a catalyst for Idle No More.  Now passed, it is a 443 page omnibus Bill consisting of changes to over 40 diverse pieces of legislation. Its amendments to two Acts in particular are of concern to Idle No More. They are changes to Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Act and to the Indian Act regarding reserve land.

first nations panow idle no more protest--dec.-21,-2012-newstalk650.comReserve land is owned by the Crown, held for use by the resident First Nation. The band can “surrender” land to the Crown (federal government) for sale or lease in order to have developments not possible under the strictures of Indian Act land title. Until now, doing so required approval by a majority of a majority. Over half of those eligible must vote and, of those, over half must vote in favour in order for it to pass. Bill C-45 has changed this to simply a majority of those who vote. So if 100 of 1000 eligible voters vote, a yes vote by 51 means it passes. The potential for skewed results is mindboggling.

‘Speed things up’

Also, before Bill C-45, the entire federal cabinet had to approve the vote result before it took effect. Now only the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs must approve it. The Idle no more victoria-bc-21-Dec-2012-r-a-paterson-wikicommonsfederal government says the new rules will speed things up. The old system, government says, took months and even years for change to take effect. But why not speed up the implementation instead of changing the ground rules of democracy?

Land surrender might be used for a shopping mall or something wanted by a reserve’s residents and affecting only them. But it also might be used for negotiating agreements between industry and governments. Maybe for plans that only a very small minority of band members, and Canadians in general, want.

Protection of waterways is another biggie in Bill C-45 with potential for huge destruction of Canada’s environment. Although this is not an aboriginal-specific issue, it seems it’s rabble.ca-blogs-2012-12primarily First Nations that are upset about it. By removing most of the country’s lakes and rivers from federal protection, management and development can occur at the provincial, municipal and private levels without consultation with the federal government.

That can be a good thing when you’re talking about small streams and local management that can do quite nicely without federal red tape. The downside is it also lessens the ‘red tape’ of environmental assessment. So large-scale inter-provincial developments can go ahead more easily.

See something similar in both these cases? Less consultation and assessment making an easier process for development. And current large-scale projects like the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, just wishing First Nations, environmentalists and environmental impact studies would go away.

Idle or Action

banner settlers in solidarity with 1st nations beaconnews.ca-2012-12If we think that our immigrant ancestors’ efforts in settling Canada were worthwhile, we should remember that, by and large, they used their new homeland carefully and respectfully. We all have reasons to protest changes wrought by Bill C-45.

See also a legal discussion of First Nations and environmental impact of the bill.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Jan. 6/13)

Kirkys Turkys

Interspersed amid the turmoil, a little tale of giving and goodness unfolded this week thanks to our Kirk and young Craig.

kirkysturkysBeth wants a fancy necklace for Christmas. To make the money, Kirk goes into the turkey selling business. He’s really not good at it so Beth’s son Craig helps him out for a cut. Then Chesney, indirect source of turkeys, has reason to think they are stolen goods and tells Kirk they have to get rid of them fast.

turkeysTurkeys, frozen in blue plastic wrappers, bob on the canal. Kirk says that ice is lighter than water so they won’t sink unless they thaw which they won’t do in December Manchester waters. When Chesney asks, in amazement, why Kirk hadn’t told him that earlier, Kirk says he’s always wrong about things. Since Ches hadn’t said anything, he figured he must be wrong on that too. He wasn’t, the floating turkeys made the front page of the Gazette.

kirk-and-emilyBut Kirk has taken people’s money and now has no turkeys. So he goes to Freshcos and buys more at a higher price. He arranges delivery of Emily’s turkey, explaining it will be larger than she had ordered. But not to worry, he won’t charge her extra. She is pleased –  Norris won’t be able to complain about no leftovers.

Where will they live?

Even more in debt now, he worries about money for both the necklace and for a deposit on a flat because Peter has given necklaceBeth her notice. Kirk despondent is a very sorry sight. Then Beth runs up and smothers him with kisses. She found the necklace hidden in Craig’s dresser drawer. Isn’t Kirk the clever one, trying to hide something from her. Kirk has no idea what she’s talking about. Later, telling Craig, the light bulb slowly comes on. You bought it, he says. Craig admits that he sold his iPod so he could buy the necklace for Kirk to give Beth.

Necklace solved, but a place to live not. Kirk asks Maria if they can stay with her for a few days. Absolutely not. How can Kirk tell Beth that his sister said no?

Snowflakes fluttering down, the odd little family sit on the Maxine Peacock Memorial Bench, Santa hats and earmuffs on, eating fish and chips while Beth says how wonderful is Kirk-Beth-Craig-Christmaslife and how wonderful is Christmas going to be! Kirk tries to put them off Maria’s place. The telly’s broke, it’s cramped, Marcus cooks fancy food. Just as Beth realizes there is something he’s not telling her, Maria comes outside and begrudgingly says you can stay with us for a few days. Beth is happy, Kirk is relieved. And they look forward to their perfect Christmas together.

And back to Kirsty

On the week’s story of horror, the escalation of Kirsty’s violence and regret has been riveting and Tyrone’s fear and loathing of her palpable. Fiz has, well, annoyed me. I can’t decide if her inability to stay the hell away from him for five minutes so he doesn’t get beaten to death is believable for her character or if it is evidence of plot-driven burnett-conway-wrong-numberwriting to hurry along the big confrontation. If that question even comes to mind, I think it shows plot contrivance.

My husband summarized the storyline very well: “Reminds me of the skit with Carol Burnett and Tim Conway, a wrong number in the middle of the night.” I watched it and, yes, absolutely. Here it is.

The Christmas Gift

This Christmas, I got lots of nice presents but my favourite is a list of stores written on a gift list of stores searchedscrap of paper.  It’s about the gift that didn’t happen, but not for lack of trying.

My brother and I went to Saint John in mid November.  In the uptown mall, Brunswick Square, the annual Christmas craft fair was happening.  Beautiful objects beautifully displayed.

I said to my brother, “I want to look for knitting or crocheting tables.  I’m looking for a crocheted toilet roll cover.”  “Huh?” he said.  “You know, you used to see them years ago – pretty lady dolls with skirts that covered the roll of paper, or poodles etsy 104263446 beautiful handmade crochet dollon top, or a hat.”  “Oh, I’ve seen hundreds of those – the Sally Ann, Value Village, anywhere.”  “I’ve never seen one there, and I’ve been looking, so if you find one get it!”

There were acres of tables of knitted and crocheted goods, complete with ladies with needles clacking and hooks hooking.  Kitchen towels, scarves, hats, mittens – all lovely but nary a toilet roll cover.

I hadn’t thought of them in years until we moved and I realized that in the upstairs bathroom there was nothing that worked right to keep an extra roll handy.  I remembered the dolls, beautiful in hats and huge skirts, and the poodles.  We never had one in our house when I was a kid, but some friends’ mothers had them as did elderly people we used to visit.  I thought they were just too wonderful for words.  The Spray Poo 1 handmadebymother.blogspot 2010 09 01epitome of la-de-da.  Even as an adult, I’d never had one or even thought of them until this autumn when I realized it was just the ticket for our bathroom.

Since then, I’ve continued to look in thrift stores and craft stores but with no luck.  My brother remembered, and also looked.  Before Christmas he made an all out effort, but to no avail.  So I got the list instead.  Seventeen stores in three cities – thrift, craft, gift, dollar and hardware.   Indeed, it is the thought that counts.  This thought also entailed a lot of driving and going in and out of stores.  Thank you.

Update: My brother told a friend about his unsuccessful search and she crocheted me one! So a gift doubled.