Arias for All Seasons

Pillorikput Inuit (Blessed are the People): Inuktitut Arias for All Seasons is a cd of beautiful music. Soprano Deantha Edmunds-Ramsey, tenor cd cover Inuktitut Arias for All SeasonsKarrie Obed and the Innismara Vocal Ensemble sing sacred songs by Haydn, Handel and Moravian composers.

The songs were written in 18th and 19th Europe and brought to Labrador by Moravian missionaries. The Moravians first came to Labrador from Germany in the mid-1700s. Newfoundland Governor Hugh Palliser gave them rights to 100,000 acres of land in northern Labrador. They built mission posts and began their evangelical efforts.

For 200 years, the Moravians functioned as the government of northern Labrador. They operated schools, medical clinics and stores. During the 1900s, the HBC replaced them in trade, the Grenfell mission in health care, the federal and provincial government, and most recently, by the Inuit themselves under a self-government agreement. Religious life remained primarily Moravian, but with Inuit leadership rather than imported missionaries.

Labrador Moravian Music

Music was, and is, central in the Moravian church. “Three years of provisions and two French horns” is a CBC Radio documentary by MUN musicologist Tom Gordon.  Its title summarizes the credo of the early Moravian arrivals.

They and their converts translated sacred songs into Inuktitut, and formed brass bands and choirs. Over the years the music was deantha edmunds and karrie obed from cd caseadapted and arranged to fit the instruments and voices available. This music of 18th century Europe, transformed but still true to its original form, became a part of Labrador Inuit culture. The Moravian Church remained strong in Labrador long after missionaries stopped coming from Europe. Brass bands still played in the churches, choirs still sang.

Dr. Tom Gordon found long-forgotten musical manuscripts in church archives. Some of them had fallen into disuse, particularly the solos, due to the quality of voice needed to do them justice. Deantha Edmunds-Ramsey has that voice. The arias on this cd are a joy to hear, indeed, in all seasons.

You can get the cd from Deantha Edmunds-Ramsey on Facebook (you may have to log in yourself). Or contact Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Music.

Corrie Street Dec. 27/15


liz, anna and erica decorate treeMonday, girlfriends hanging out. Liz, Erica and Anna. Nice to see. At the beginning of the episode, they discuss the theme of Liz’s Christmas tree. At the end, they discuss going man-hunting at a singles’ night.

Over the years we’ve often seen Liz with friends. She seems like someone to whom girlfriends are very important. Scenes with her and liz puts angel on treeDeirdre over the years were some of the best ever. She is friends with other women on the Street, of course, but none of them gel with her character quite as well as Deirdre. Until Erica arrived.

Erica and Liz became friends in Spain. But after Erica’s arrival on the girlfriends Liz, Erica and Anna discuss singles nightstreet, their friendship got sidelined for Erica’s involvement with Nick. Thankfully, that ended fairly quickly. When Erica returned, she rattled around like a spare part. She and Dev? I like the idea. Their characters suit each other, and I think the actors work well together.  But, aside from romance, it’s nice to see Erica’s return to her roots on the Street – hanging out with Liz.

Anna needs friends

erica-smiles-at-doubtful-annaAnna definitely needs friends, for her own sake and ours. Her storylines primarily involve her family. That’s ok but it’s nice to see her branch out a bit. Especially when, of late, her family-related stories mainly have involved her either shrieking at someone or wringing her hands in her apron.

anna-says-she-will-goLiz and Erica are well-matched, similar in age, style and chutzpah. Anna is not in their league really. She defines herself in terms of work and being a mother. She’s had to. Anna has had major problems both with finances and with both her children. She’s been through a lot, and it’s little wonder she always seems frayed at the seams.

liz-is-pleased-anna-will-go So, it’s time for her to have some fun. Liz and Erica are just the women to help her do that. I hope they take her on as a project.

Earls of Grantham

Earls of Grantham coat of armsBelow is the lineage of the Earls of Grantham. The family name is Crawley, and their home is Downton Abbey in Yorkshire.

It is a fictional family in a television series I have never watched. I found family trees online, read summaries of the show and characters, and mapped out connections. Could I use only the internet to figure out a family history, I wondered. I think I did, and it made me want to get to know them better.

I will meet the Crawleys on DVD. Those watching on television will end their acquaintance with them in 2016. The sixth, and final, season on PBS begins January 3rd. The series is set between April 1912 and December 1925.

The Crawley family was given the Earldom of Grantham around 1772 for deeds unspecified. A subsidiary title is Viscount Downton. The earl’s heir may use this as a courtesy title. The title and estate are entailed, meaning inheritance can be passed only through the legitimate male line.

Grantham Family Tree

Earls of Grantham family tree Downton Abbey
Tap to enlarge. Note: Rosamund’s children were cut prior to show’s airing.

The house and lands of Downton Abbey came into possession of the Crawley family through the unnamed daughter-in-law of the 3rd Earl, great-grandmother of the ‘present’ earl, Robert Crawley. Presumably, she inherited her family home or received it through the will of a previous husband.

Jessica Fellowes, author of companion books to the series, refers to grave of sybil daughter of 5th earl 1 Mar 2013Robert Crawley as the 7th Earl of Grantham. Other sources call him the 6th. Observant viewers noted a publicity shot of the gravestone of Sybil, Robert’s daughter. Carved on it is “daughter of the 5th Earl of Grantham”. The series does not fully explain the line of inheritance.

Robert had no son and no brother so after he inherited the title, his heir presumptive became his first cousin James, the son of his father’s unnamed brother. James had a son Patrick, who would inherit in turn. However, both men died on the Titanic in 1912. The male next closest in the family line was Matthew Crawley, Robert’s 3rd cousin once removed. The presumably deceased Reginald was Matthew’s father.

World of Downton Abbey book cover
Tap image for Amazon link

While daughters could not inherit, strategic marriage could keep it in the immediate family. Robert and his mother Violet had sought marriage between Robert’s daughter Mary and Patrick, son of then heir presumptive 1st cousin James Crawley. After their deaths, Mary wed the new heir Matthew and they had a son, George. Matthew soon after died, making George heir presumptive.

Through the marriage of his daughter to the heir, Robert’s grandson will be earl after him. Mary, daughter of one earl and mother of the next, will never be countess. She would have held that title only through her husband had he lived to become the next earl.

Corrie Street Dec. 20/15

Baby Pics

looking at baby pics in photo albumsHow wonderful to be young! Learning about life and love, with your mother there to guide and comfort. Wednesday, Beth reminded us of just how much we forget – if we’re lucky – about adolescent life at home with the parents.

The baby pics. The embarrassing photos shown to the girl or boy that we are trying to impress. Along with mother’s commentary on each and every one of them. Oh, that will impress all right! And you will never forget, nor be allowed to forget, the total humiliation.

craig-puts-hands-over-faceIt may start out innocently. Mom shows a photo of you last summer, one you look really good in. But then it’s “Oh, look at this one, I just love it”. And next thing you know she’s telling the story of giving birth. “Like passing a ten pound bowling ball.” Please Lord, just take me now.

Hints for social survival

Here’s some hints, kids, for when you start seeing someone. Go out the door to meet him or her, yell ‘won’t be late’ back to your parents beth-discusses-nappy-rash-on-craigand keep on going. If your girl- or boyfriend has a car, tell him or her to stay in it and honk for you to come out. Your parents won’t like either of these, but dealing with their annoyance is preferable to dealing with the photo show.

You’ll probably never avoid the show and tell. But you can try to postpone it until you know the person you’re going out with a bit better. With luck, you’ll get to see his or her baby pics before having to go through it with your own.

craig-puts-face-on-tableI would love to know how many takes were needed to get the scene of Beth showing Craig’s baby photos to Caitlin. The expressions on each actor’s face was perfect. I don’t know how they could do it without breaking up laughing.

The entire sequence of dinner-with-the-family was brilliant. kirk-and-beth-see-caitlin-offFrom Craig’s cooking preparation, with Beth looking at him and the kitchen as if he were performing an exotic ritual that she had never before witnessed. To her satisfied “that went well” to Kirk after Craig walked out, looking daggers at her, to walk Caitlin to the bus stop.

craig-glowers-at-his-motherAnd Kirk’s final bemused look at Beth. He knew full well that this had not gone well but did not know how to explain the wrongness of it to her. It’s as well you didn’t try, Kirky, she would never understand or accept your critique. This is something you just do when you’re a mother.

Home for the Holidays

Don’t give a dog as a Christmas present.  At least not as a spur of the moment gift.  But if you are planning to get a dog anyway, why not?  If you are aware that your “present” is alive and, with luck, will live many years, you will give an enormous gift to the dog as well.  A home – permanent and loving.

Home for the Holidays "No one came, now I'm gone" dog


The St. Thomas Animal Shelter gives you a $75 spay/neuter rebate when you adopt an eligible pet (at least did so at time of writing).  Wherever you live, if you can give a dog or cat a home, please do.

Adopting from a rescue group or pound rather than a pet store or off Kijiji or Craig’s List means you also are not supporting puppy mills or backyard breeders. Support “No-Kill” shelters, but adopt from any shelter or pound.  Don’t let more pets be killed just because they couldn’t get adopted in 3 or 7 days.


If you can’t have a pet, give to an animal shelter or rescue group.  Money is always welcome, or ask what is needed.  They always have a wish list of goods they need most.


If you’d like a connection with a specific dog but can’t have one, sponsor a shelter dog.  You give a monthly donation in the name of that dog and you’re welcome to spend time with “your” dog.  If your shelter doesn’t have such a programme, you can do it unofficially.  Shelters generally always welcome volunteers who will play with dogs, walk them and clean kennels.  That’s a way you can spend time with your special dog and help all of them.


If you could have a dog but can’t commit for the long term, consider fostering. You’ll have to give him or her up when a permanent home is found, but you’ll have the fun of canine companionship until then.  It’s work too.  You have to properly socialize the dog, but you’ll learn as much as the dog does.  If you’re a post-secondary student and wish you could have a Puppy (or Kitty) Room at home, talk to an animal shelter near you. Some are happy to have students foster dogs and cats.


If you like driving, volunteer with a group such as Open Arms Pound Rescue.  They need people to drive animals to new homes or to shelters where there’s a better chance of finding homes.  If you’re a pilot and love excuses to go flying, check out Pilots N Paws (USA) or talk to your buddies about setting up something similar in conjunction with a rescue group or shelter.

Everything above also applies to cats, horses and other domestic animals.  There are rescue groups for all of them across the country.  Give an animal somewhere a very happy holiday season.  It will make you happy too.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 10, 2012, minus information on adoption events specific to that time. (Below and right are Amazon links to some Christmas dog stories that look guaranteed to make you cry happy tears.)


Corrie Street Dec. 13/15

Barlow Childrearing

“Get out, you poisonous little bitch!” Robert to Tracy at the close of Robert tells Tracy you heard, get outTuesday’s episode. Words to put on a loop and play over and over again. Tracy was at the Bistro, needling Leanne yet again about Simon’s out of control behaviour.

Too bad the words had no lasting impact on Tracy. Despite the immediate shock, her soul-searching next day was confined to coming up with justifications for her behaviour. And, of course, worrying about whether Robert was interested in Leanne. He must be, in Tracy reacts to Robert saying you poisonous little bitchher mind, since he kept defending Leanne. But Robert is loyal. He told her that, after all he had thrown away for her, he would hardly walk out on her now. Reassured, she could go back to crowning herself mother of the year.

The Barlow children, Amy and Simon, don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of growing up to be decent people. Amy is learning well the “poisonous” arts. She is being taught by a master.

Role models

Ken lives in the same household as Amy and spends a lot of time with Simon. One would hope he could exercise some influence in moderation, empathy and control. But then you look at his relationship with his children, and the grown-up products of his tracy with glass of red at bistro, not knowing leanne is enteringpaternal skills. Not a lot of hope there.

Maybe if Deirdre were still alive it would be different? I think Deirdre was able to be a much better mother to other people’s children than with her own. Look at Tracy. Deirdre stood by her no matter what, whether right or wrong. Commendable sentiment, perhaps, but the result is a narcissistic, even sociopathic adult who is now rearing her own child in her own image.

Poisonous or ethical

tracy watches leanne talk to robert at barLeanne, I think, is the most likely to be a good parent. She too is fiercely loyal to her child, and understanding of his fears and problems. But she has a moral code that she has fought hard to develop in herself and she wants to instill in him. She is hampered in this by her own insecurities about not being his “real” mother. Those insecurities are fed by Tracy and by Simon himself. If Peter were around, he’d probably feed them too if it served his purposes.

So the kids are growing up in a moral miasma. The ineffectual flapping who is looking after him, Tracy asks Leanne about Simonabout decency and respect from Ken and Leanne is countered by Tracy’s credo of defend yourself no matter what and attack anyone or anything that threatens you or your own. I pity the poor counsellor who has to take this mess on.

Visits to the Grandparents

Ruby age 15 in 1939 carrying guitar on Pine Street“Minnie and Charlie’s daughter must be visiting. I saw that strange girl of hers, and the dog’s gone.” Now, over forty years later, that’s what I imagine people on Pine Street said when I went with my parents to my grandparents’ house.

As soon as I’d said hello to grandma and grandpa, I’d be out the door and heading down toward the woods at the end of the street. Along the way, from three doors past their house, I’d start collecting dogs. I didn’t steal them or let them out of fenced yards.

No one had fenced yards then and dogs just laid around their front steps or in the yard. If they saw me, they’d come out to the sidewalk and come along with me. If I didn’t see one where I knew it lived, I might call “here doggiedoggie” or call its name if I knew it.

Walking with dogs

On a good day, I’d have seven or eight dogs with me by the time I reached the end of the two block street. At the end was a ravine, wooded with a trail going through it to the railroad tracks and also running parallel to the tracks along the creek. The dogs and I would walk through the woods on the creek path, staying away from the tracks and never going further than a couple blocks either direction from Pine Street.

I don’t remember what we did for the hours we spent there. I threw sticks for them maybe. When it was almost grandparents Charles and Minnie Burwell 1962dark, we’d walk back up Pine Street or sometimes Pearl Street. The dogs would all turn in to their respective homes. I’d get back to Grandma’s by myself just in time for supper. If we were staying overnight, next day I’d be back down the street collecting the dogs and we’d do the same thing. Before we left, I’d make a hurried trip down Pine Street to collect the dogs for a quick goodbye to them all on the street. They seemed to know I was leaving and just went back to their doorsteps.

I think there were other kids sometimes along with us too, but I can’t remember any of them clearly. Some of the dogs I knew by name, Bingo and Rex and Lady. I must have talked to some kids to know that. I don’t think I would have talked to any adults. And I don’t recall any adults asking why I was taking their dog.

A collie

I remember the dogs. A beautiful collie who lived in a two-storey frame house on the corner of the lane that ran between Pine and Pearl. A bulldog, some little shaggy haired mutts, a couple big Shepherd crosses. They all got along, there was never a fight among them. None of them ever ran off from our pack. They never chased cats sitting hunched up or standing backs arched in driveways further down the road. They never came back to my grandparents’ house with me, and they never came on their own to visit me there. I don’t know if, when I wasn’t there, they rounded themselves up and went for walks in the ravine. I don’t think I wondered about that at the time; all I knew is that they were there for me when I came to visit.

I loved going to my grandparents. I liked seeing them, being in their house, looking in cupboards at treasures I’d seen before and finding new ones. But I especially loved my time with the dogs.

Pine Street woods aren’t there anymore

Now, when I go back and drive past my grandparents’ house, I want to park the car and walk down the street looking for dogs to walk with. grandparents' house on Pine Street TillsonburgThe houses on Pine Street look pretty unchanged from the 1960s. But the woods aren’t there anymore. The ravine is there, but the creek is gone. It’s been diverted, I guess, and the bed paved over. A new subdivision is on the other side, in what used to be the woods between the creek and the railroad tracks. Even if I found dogs sitting on doorsteps or laying in the yard, there’d be nowhere woodsy to walk with them.

So I stop in front of the house on the lane. It’s still got pale yellow siding with the same windows and front cement step. I say “hello Lassie” to the dog I see in my mind. Then I drive a few streets east, turn left and stop at the recreation field. There’s a ball diamond there and a soccer field. At the back of it, there’s woods with a trail going through to the railroad tracks. I get my dogs out of the car and we walk through the woods.

I didn’t know then, when I was eight or ten, that this would be a constant in my life: walking with dogs and remembering dogs. Like the kids that were part of Pine Street, many people have been in my life over the years. But it’s the dogs that stand out most vividly.

Originally posted in Stories on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on July 4, 2010. The photographs of my mother, grandparents and their house are from my mother’s photo albums. 


Corrie Street Dec. 6/15

Taking Leave

simon says mum as leanne leavesLeanne walks out Ken’s front door, taking leave. Simon runs out behind her and stops in the doorway. His face goes from angry to surprised, lost and frightened. Young man to child in an instant. But he can do that, can’t he? Often and quickly.

The end of Wednesday’s episode, and I held my breath all the way through the (fortunately for me) short scene. As Leanne walks away, close up of simon saying -i swearSimon asks her to stop, to not leave him. She stops and slowly turns toward him. He says if she walks away, he will never speak to her ever again. He swears that on his grandfather’s life. Leanne turns away from him and continues walking. He cannot see the look of unbearable sadness and fear on her face. But we can. We can also see it on his.

Leanne had decided unilaterally that Simon should go live with Ken leanne-looks-at-simonfor a while. She is trying to avert violence in their household. She had come close to hitting him and understandably was very upset about that. Leanne also knows, but is more reluctant to say, that it is likely that he will hit her again.


Simon seems to have absolved himself of all blame, all responsibility leanne-turns-away-from-simonfor the hits and shoves that he has inflicted on her. Is that the response of a child? “Not my fault, yours.” The response of an abuser? “You made me do it.” Both? Simon is a man-child right now, big enough to inflict real physical damage and immature enough to have no firmly-rooted impulse control or taking of responsibility for his actions.

Leanne taking leave, as Simon watchesPeter gave him one piece of good advice before leaving, that a real man never hits a woman no matter what. Simon remembers a lot of stuff about what his father has said and done, but apparently not that.

Santa Dogs

Santa Claus parade Poodle waiting to startThe Christmas season, for me, officially begins with the Santa Claus parade. But you have to start feeling festive a bit earlier if you’re going to be in the parade. The St. Thomas Dog Owners Association decided to enter a “float” of dogs in the 2010 St. Thomas Santa Claus Parade. Leo and Charlie were ready with bells on.

We had a member’s van for carrying dogs and people and borrowed a beautiful brand new 2011 Ram truck from Elgin Chrysler. We Charlie in truck, looking at the crowdsdecorated both with lights and tinsel.  My contribution to the decorating was figuring out how to tie a lighted reindeer to the rear view mirror of the Ram so he shone out from the windshield.

So, off to the parade mustering ground at the Timken’s parking lot. A horse trailer and tiny ponies standing beside it getting tacked up by small girls. Two larger ponies were waiting to be harnessed to a beautiful white open carriage. Nearby a pipe band warmed up. Leo leaped from the car. Party time!

Parade Ground

Leo and STDOA van in Santa Claus parade lineupAfter two years with Leo, it still amazes me how fully he has embraced human activities. He didn’t grow up from puppyhood around parades and sidewalks. A puppy mill ‘production’ dog, he knew nothing about interacting in human society. But he’s a fast learner, and he knows that noise, music and big concentrations of people means there’s likely to be dropped food on the ground!

Floats were massed four wide on First Ave. I had no idea where STDOA might be. So we walked up to Talbot, looking for dogs. The parade marshals, Steve Peters, Joe Preston and Heather Jackson-Chapman, told me where exactly STDOA was. How they knew in that sea of floats and bands is beyond me!

Santa's Elves in parade line upMusic blaring, technical difficulties getting sorted out, elves putting on their outfits. It was glorious – like being in the back lot at the circus.  STDOA people and dogs were just where the marshals had told me. The dogs were checking each other out – their antlers, Santa coats, elf hats, bells and lighted collars.

Then the floats started moving. As we rounded the corner at First and Talbot, kids were lined 6 or 8 rows deep. A big roar came from them, “dogs, dogs” as we came into sight. All the way along Talbot Street, it was the same. “Look at the dogs. Dogs, dogs!” We weren’t dogs in Santa Claus parade on Talbot Streetdoing anything other than walking along the street.

I had a pocketful of smelly treats. I knew Leo would be vacuuming the street for candy and dropped food, so wanted to have something to keep his attention. It worked – he pranced around me trying to get his nose in my pocket and hands. He looked like he was dancing. He’d sit, give a paw, do all the tricks he could think of to make me give him a treat. So I made the most of it, and he looked like a performing poodle. He was performing all right, begging for food. He’d visit people along the parade route, in reality checking to see if they had any food he could scarf, but he’d waggle his tail and let them pet him.

Santa Claus and Santa Dogs

He and Charlie pranced and danced all the way to Elgin Street. They watched the people and listened to the oohs and aahs. I’m sure they Reindeer-Dobe-photo-Dorothy-Stewartthought all those people had come out just to see them. And, in a way, they had. They’d come to see dogs, people, ponies and vehicles in a magical situation. Everybody dressed up, everybody smiling. Everybody waiting to see Santa, of course. He’s the main event. But in a parade, every ‘act’ is a main event. This year, my first of ever being in a parade, I found out that’s true for participants as well as spectators.

Originally posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Dec. 1, 2010. The 2015 St. Thomas parade was on Nov. 21st. If you’re near Sussex or Hampton NB, both towns’ parades are this Saturday, Dec. 5th.