DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Only In Canada! You Say. Eh!

Curling on Grenadier Pond in Toronto. Posted by Picasa

Today all the schools in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador will be closed so children can watch the Canadian curling team play for the gold medal at the Olympics.!!!

In Canada, this other Winter sport played on ice by teams has its loyal passionate devotees. I am not one of them. I will save that rant for another time. Every small town has a curling rink as well as a hockey rink, paid for by gambling money.

The Canadian rink is skipped by a young 25 year old Newfoundlander, Bruce Gushue. This young team took on the aging Russ Howard to be the brains of the team. Howard will be the oldest Olympian at 50 years old.

I wish them well. I will try to keep awake watching. I think the wild shouting on throwing the rocks is designed to wake the viewers up. Make us proud. . .SWEEP, SWEEP, AHHHHHHH!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

We Continue to Remember the Peacemakers

Palestinian Children remembering the Christian Peacemakers

The other day Peter Mackay, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs made some public statements that the Peacemakers in Iraq were safe, alive and would be released soon. The next day he backed away from this optimistic appraisal saying he had no new information. Why he said anything in the first place is curious and must be very hurtful to the family and friends of the
Peacemakers who are being held prisoner, under threat of death, by Insurgents in Iraq.

We remember Canadians, Jim loney and Singh Sooden along with Britain, Norm Kemper and American, Tom Fox. Prayerfully we await their safe return. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Forever On Guard

In the tradition of Sam Steele

I read the US wants to build a physical wall along the Canada/US border as well as one along the
US/Mexico Border. Ahhh! Fortress America at last. Now I know the inmates are running the asylum. Don't they know the Mounties are always on guard and that the border is secure!!! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Canadian Women Do Us Proud

Olympic Victory Scrum

The Women's Hockey team won the gold medal game at the Olympics defeating Sweden 4 to 1.
They were expected to play the US for this medal but they faultered along the way and were awarded the Bronze. This is a remarkable hockey team, qualitatively better that any other woman's hockey team. They outscored their opponents in this series 42 to 2. It is hoped other countries continue to improve in the years to come.

We still expect the Canadian Men's Hockey team to do well. They have faultered a little. Let's hope that group of millionaire hockey players find the effort to use their abundant skills with personal pride to also win a gold medal and make Canada proud. Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 20, 2006

Your Seduction Style: Fantasy Lover

You know that ideal love that each of us dreams of from childhood? That's you!Not because you posess all of the ideal characteristics, but because you are a savvy shape shifter.You have the uncanny ability to detect someone's particular fantasy... and make it you.
You inspire each person to be an idealist and passionate, and you make each moment memorableEven a simple coffee date with you can be the most romantic moment of someone's lifeBy giving your date exactly what he or she desires, you quickly become the ideal lover.
Your abilities to make dreams come true is so strong, that you are often the love of many people's lives.Your ex's (and even people you have simply met or been friends with) long to be yours.No doubt you are the one others have dreamed of... your biggest challenge is finding *your* dream lover.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


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I have long thought homeschooling of children could be a wonderful idea. Like most homeschoolers I have some criticisms and disappointments in the public school system.
Lately, I have been reading many blogs where there are Christian homeschoolers and I realized their dissatifaction with public education is not the same of mine. Briefly, I find public education too narrow and it does not celebrate the diversity of stories and life styles in history and life while the Christian homeschoolers seem to want to control the education so that it reinforces a narrow world view consistent with their religious outlook.

This became clear to me when I read about Patrick Henry College, which is a new Christian college that draws most of its students from Christian homeschooler's families. It requires students and faculty to hold a fundementalist view of Christianity. One of its major missions is to trains future religious evangelicals to work in the Federal Government. In short it is training the next generation of neo-conservatives. Students are given internships in the Federal government: the White House, FBI. CIA and major Republican legislators offices.
The curriculum of this college is interesting in what it leaves out. It is very weak in teaching foreign languages. It has little or no sociology or psychology. There seems to be little in the way of the arts or recreation. In short, it seems to be a very focused and narrow program.

I am also struck by the lack of minorties represented in the student body and faculty. Also, I sense that less is expected of the female students than the male students. Apparently, their highest calling is to become "stay at home moms" )SAHM) and homeschooling parents.

Religion is very important to this school and central to its mission. In principle, I have no criticism with this and in fact I went to a Liberal Arts University with a denominational affiliation. In my years there I found the most challenging teacher who taught history to be an evangelical Lutheran who would not be out of place in Patrick Henry College. I also found him the most personally challenging as he taught us history from a "Christian perspective" ( of sin, judgement and grace).

I am struck by the comparison of this school with another Christian University which also takes its religious position seriously having it part of the ethos of the school. It is Eastern Mennonite University. http://edu/www.emu. It is a broad liberal arts college that also places interns in Washington DC. They are placed not in the seats of power and influence but in the service agencies of the poor and maginalized in society. To review each school side by side is an interesting contrast in what two groups of Christians think what a Christian vocation is.

Patrick Henry College I find threatening and sinister: Eastern Mennonite University I find inviting, open and compassionate. The latter prepares students to be well rounded citizens on the World while the former trains students to control the institutions of power to promote and protect a kind of evangelical entrepenurial Christianity.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I love the snow when it clings to the trees.

The depth of the forest draws us in.

We finally had a real snow storm, a foot of snow, blown by high winds, with lightening and thunder. (unusual in Winter). I now have a drift by the house higher than my porch. Across the pasture some of the fence posts have disappeared. Over the years I have learned some things. . . . .The place and way I parked my truck left a patch of no snow behind so I can easily back out on the road. The snow being windblown is firm on top perfect for snowshoeing. When it warm up a little (it is -30C this morning) I will put it to the test. While such weather in the urban area is dangerous and inconvenient, in the country it is a joy to behold and enjoy. Fun outside followed by hot coffee by the woodstove is one of the great satisfactions in life. I shall take that time to read some more in the Appalachin literature I have been reading. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hemp: A Much Neglected Versatile Crop

Canada Has Started Growing Hemp Again

Hemp is not Marijuana

A Valuable and Profitable Commercial Crop

The story of hemp as a valuable crop is fascinating. For centuries until WWII it was a key agricultural crop grown on most family farms.

In the period between the world wars hemp was much attacked by economic interests that saw it as a threat to their products. It was linked to marijuana, a variety of canabus the family of plants both hemp and marijuana belong, from which drug can be extracted for recreational and medicinal use. Hemp is not marijuana and the commercial plant cannot produce the drug. In fact, when hemp and maurijuana are grown in proximity to one another the marijuana plants become less potent. It is recommended that marijuana not be grown within seven miles of hemp.

In the 1930 there were a number of propaganda films that scared people about Marijuana use.
The most famous of these was "Reefer Madness". Ironically during WWII the US government produced a movie to encourage farmers to grow hemp for the war effort.

Marijuana is not without its problems, social and personal but it is less of a problem that cigarettes or alcohol, socially acceptable recreational drugs. Marijana actually as some benefits.

Hemp is quite a remarkable and potentially valuable farm crop. It is best known as a source of fiber. Before synthetics it was used to produce rope, and cloth. It also can be used to make a very good paper.

Hemp also has potential for a food. It can be used as a fodder for cattle and an it is a very good source of cooking oil from the seed. Like other fiberous plants it can be used for bio-fuel. Any products made from oil from the ground can be made from hemp.

Hemp is a weed. It is very easy to grow and needs no fertilizers and pesticides. Other weeds are crowded out.

Hemp can be a source of products that can compete with the oil, lumber, fertilizer, pesticide and chemical industries. Some of the reluctance to fully embrace the mass production of this crop comes from these sources, some of the same industries that organized to discredit it earlier.

Farmers are always looking for a valuable crop that can bring them a decent return. What could be more intriguing than hemp: an easy and inexpensive crop to grow with many uses. Ecologically it is good as it does not need chemicals to grown and as a source of paper it is more productive than trees per acre.

Peoples obsession with marijuana, industries threatened by it and the governments reluctance to promote this crop is to all our detriment.

Philip, you're a German Shepherd!

No bones, about it, you're a loyal, hard-working German Shepherd. Dedicated and always low-maintenance, people flock to you — they know they can count on you to get any job done, and done well. That focus and attention to detail spans from your personal to your professional life, too. Although you can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the projects you tackle, you still manage to keep cool and laid-back in social situations. You get a kick out of the little things and thrive when you're constantly busy and on-the-go. Easygoing and unpretentious, you don't need constant pampering and reassurance. A genuine, carefree pup, you're a true-blue friend, employee, and partner. Woof!

I took a test and this is the result. Hmmm! Could be worse. At least, I am not some snarly little lapdog. It would have been nice to be a Great Pyrenees.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Come on, just a little cuddle!

At my age, I would settle for a nice cuddle on this day of love and romance. Who knows it might lead to a good snuggle, and Lord willing a good shagging. My thoughts are wandering after you Dear One. Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thinking About Marriage

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Ironically, my Word of the Day is,

concupiscence \kon-KYOO-puh-suhn(t)s; kuhn-\, noun:
Strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.

Have I been living alone too long??

For the Erotic Gardener

Peter Peppers (Capsicum Annuum)

These hot little peppers, often called penis peppers, (need I explain?) are grown in Louisiana and Texas and used in Cajun food. The fair Floridian want me to grow them in a much enlarged garden this year. I may be at risk of becoming know as the erotic gardener. I read they need to be shaded from the really hot sun, (and neighbour's prying eyes no doubt! ) Tee Hee!

Peppers are hard to grown in Ontario, I will be starting these along with other varieties indoors soon, for planting outdoors in early June. Along with some other plants in need of an early start, they will turn a room of my house into a greenhouse.

I usually grow plants that grow good here, mostly root crops or plants that grow quickly or can stand a little frost. Plants in the cabbage family grow well above ground for the latter reason and peas and bean do well for the former. We have about 100 frost free days, with long daylight hours.

I expect, with some success with peppers, next Winter's food may be much hotter and tastier.

Winter is the time to dream and think about gardening and the new hope and beginnings that it symbolizes.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Promise Delayed:
A Pleasure Denied

Smile! It will happen.

One of the prices Canada has to pay by electing a Conservative government is the postponement of the decriminalization of marijuana, a Liberal party promise. There are great numbers of Canadians who grew up in the 1960's until the present who will quietly regret this as they use this recreational drug at risk of harassment by police, (for the courts treat it as a nuisance rather than a serious crime.)

As a non-smoker of anything, I would prefer they legalize marijuana and criminalize tobacco, the much more dangerous substance with no redeeming value, marketed to us by a parasitic industry dealing in death and illness. There is widespead contempt for the marijuana laws in the country. There comes a point when enough people disrespect the law; Law is considered an ass! Posted by Picasa

Black History Month

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Dresden, Ontario

I couldn't let Black History Month pass without some comment. When I lived in the US. I was so involved in the Black community (I lived in the black neighbourhoods in Boston and New Haven over 10 years.) and their stuggle and history, I was once interview for a church job and from my resume they assumed I was Black.

Few Americans seem to be aware of the history of Blacks in Canada. I heard Oprah express surprise when she learned that their were Black Nova Scotians. From the beginning their have been Blacks, even some in slavery. There have been waves of immigration from the US, the Caribbean, Haiti, and Africa. Our mix of black population writes a different historical story to the Americans. In the US, the history of slavery taints all of the American Black experience. In Canada, there are other significant threads woven in the fabric of our Society.

The Underground Railroad and fugative slaves coming to Canada has its own history here. At the time, when Fugative Slave Laws saw escaping slaves hunted down in the US and returned to their masters ,Canada was a land of refuge with laws that protected Blacks rights as full citizens, owning property, having families, going to school and voting in elections. In the 1790's Lord Simcoe had made it illegal to bring slaves into Upper Canada (Ontario). Later in 1834, slavery was abolished in Canada. So prior to the American civil war, Canada was a shinning beacon of hope for fugative slaves. For a short time, they were a growing immigrant population. After the civil war many returned to the US to locate friends and relatives and participate in Reconstruction, a tribute to the pull of home and country. This was Canada's loss and Americans gain for many of these former slaves and their children, returned with significant educations and skills learned in their generational stay in Canada.

In the 1960's I read a book about one remarkable story of a black settlement in Canada, the Elgin Settlement. The book, "Look to the North Star" tells the story of a white Presbyterian Minister who inherited slaves from his wife, freed them and brought them to Canada, where the Free Presbyterian Church supported the creation of the 9ooo acre Elgin Settlement.

I used to tell my American friends that this community was a model of Black Power ( in those days Black Power was debated in the US). It was a temporarily segregated community that the residents could not sell their land to whites for at least 10 years. If it had been the model for reconstruction the racial and social tension in US hjistory would have been much less.

In the Elgin Settlement the influence of Scottish Presbyerianism shaped it. It was hard, working, disciplined and sober. Families were granted land and had to work it hard. There were rules. For example, the house had to be close to the road with a porch across the front and a picket fence in front. (I imagine they looked much like the Uncle Tom's Cabin House in the picture above. (It is in another community not far from the Elgin Settlement. ) There were awards for the best looking homestead.

The school started by this community had a remarkable success. It was the first integrated school in Canada when local whites shut down their school and sent their children to the Eglin school. The first six graduate of this school went on the higher education and made significant contributions in Canada and the US. At one time, this school of the children of former slaves even taught Greek as a subject.

The Elgin settlement grew and prospered in agriculture. It also started some industries, sawmill and brick works.

With the outbreak of the Civil War and the formation of a Black Regiment in Michigan 70 men from the Elgin Settlement went signed up to fight for the North and the end of slavery.

At the end of the Civil War, many returned to the US. One became as legislator in Alabama and Freedmen Hospitals in Washington and Chicago were founded by former residents of the Elgin Settlement.

It is a wonderful history to read about. If you read nothing else during Black History Month, read the story of the Elgin Settlement. I was so fascinated that I once went to North Buxton to visit the remnant community of this historic community.!

For links to 400 sites on the history of blacks in Canada visit

Winter is a Backyard Rink

The grandchildren, Olivia, Travis and Dylan a year ago, on the backyard rink their father labours over as the "Zamboni Man", as i did for him once. They have all played organized hockey, Olivia and Dylan on the same team.

This year the oldest two have moved on to competitive swimming leaving Travis as their father's last best hope for a professional hockey player in the family.
Family life in suburbia is driving kids to sports and cultural events. I am glad I am not shamed into driving.

With soccer. baseball, step dancing and piano lessons there is a full plate of interesting passtimes to be enjoyed for years to come.

For them I am most pleased that they are growing up emerged in two cultures. They are bilingual with their schooling in French and family life predominantly English. They can help grampa with his French now.

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 06, 2006

My Mother

Bessie Beeston Age 5

This a picture of my mother I found the other day among my box of photos. Of all the people I have know in the past she is the one I think of daily and who continues to influence my life. She died years ago, at age 61, younger than I am now. I remember her fondly and recognize how much my life has been shaped by hers. We had a lovely mother/son relationship and in some ways still do. We talked much and life lesson were passed on, to numerous and personal to list here.

My most cherished gift from her is intellectual curiousity and a love and respect for reading. While she had a modest formal education she was a great reader. She always had a pile of books on the go, always substantial books. She loved to read aloud to others. I remember here telling us when she was a child other kids used to like to sit near her in the silent movies because she could read fast and fluent enough to read the subtitles out loud. I think we were so close because I would be willing to sit with here and have here read long sections of books to me and discuss them, sometime way past my bedtime. I remember fondly her reading both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to me several times. Anne of Green Gables I remember also being read. She used to read whole sections of the library. She read everything Graham Greene wrote. She also devoured all the escape stories from Prisoner of War Camps, like the Wooden Horse. For her, European History of her era was very closely observed. She loved Churchill and read what he wrote both his history and his wonderful political speeches. She read most of Shakespeare and in her 30's she and my father were involved in amateur dramatics. She stared in several play, even involving me and my sister in one. From this experience I came to love life theatre and have read many plays among my mostly non-fiction preferences. Even now, I wish more of my neighbours were literate enough to form a play reading group like I once formed when I lived in New Haven, Ct., where we each took a part and read a play together and them discussed it. ( To live so I can commune with Nature I have had to give up such heady pursuits. ) Through her reading my mother educated herself and by example pointed out that education is a life long enterprise that can give you much pleasure.

Of all the lessons my mother taught me I remember best her admonitions to always be respectful of women. I have come to wonder about why this was so important to her. To my knowledge she had a good childhood, and always spoke fondly of her father so I don't see any pop-psych reason for her necessity to deliberately teach this lesson. I can hear her voice now. "You must never ever under any circumstance hit your sister. Someday you will be much bigger and stronger than her." "You must always treat a girl as you would your sister." And so these lessons were taught. To this day, I would be disappointed in myself if I spoke badly of my former wife. Years ago she decided she did not want to be a wife or mother and left. She was and is a wonderful person. I always figure for me to disrespect her reflects badly on me for she was the great love of my life at one time. I always wince when I hear friends speak badly of their former spouses. It tells us more about them than their wife. For me one of the ugliest of four letter words is "slut". Everywomen, no matter how badly their lives have unfolded are someones daughter, sister, or mother and deserves respect. Men who abuse women I don't understand. I often ask myself. "What were their mother's like?" (I know the implied criticism is unfair.) This scourge in our society that is a danger to so many women would be much less if more men had had a mother like mine.

One other thing my mother did for me was let me have my religious doubts. I struggled with my primative understanding of religion. As I look back I realize I was a religious person for it is trying to understand the ultimate questions of life that shaped my interior life. For a young person this was a very lonely isolating experience. One day my mother brought me some literature from the local Unitarian Church, where she had been to a meeting. "I think you will find this interesting, these pamphlet seems to be saying some of the things you have been saying." My religious quest had reached a new level and I continued my lifelong religious journey. I thank my mother for taking my concerns seriously and letting me find my way.

I didn't intent to write all this personal stuff when I started. I just wanted to share a picture of my mother and publicly say she is remembered by me daily as a lovely person and mother. There is no greater tribute. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Is Nothing Sacred?

How many time have you heard someone ask this question, or uttered it yourself in the face of the tasteless and crassness of the worst kind in our secular society. It seems "anything goes". Everything is open game to being poked fun at or trivialized.

Well apparently there is something that is held sacred by a great many people. The Islamic community takes very serious their conviction that the Prophet cannot be depicted in any form. They are not only up in arms over some non-Muslims in the secular world of Europe disrespecting this religious conviction but also that they did so in a cartoon that belittled Muslims and Islam. Around the World Muslims have flooded into the streets in protest.

Secular society just doesn't get it. Some things are sacred. There was a time when Christians might have reacted like Muslims are doing now over any number of tasteless depictions of aspect of their Faith. It seem Christianity has been tamed. I have often wondered why Christians are not more protective of the town of Bethlehem, an Arab town Israel has attacked from time to time. In the midst of the conflict there I have thought Christians should have been up in arms. How wonderful if the Pope had visited the war zone and declared "Not here! This is the birthplace of the Prince of Peace."

Secularist, among whom I consider myself, are trying to hide behind the secular value of "free speech". Apparently, they believe there are no limits to free speech. In Canada, we do have some limits to free speech. One cannot shout "fire" in a theatre when there is no fire. We also have laws against "hate speech". This has been successfully used against anti-semitic propaganda and homophobic remarks that encourages directly or indirectly, violence against a group. For the most part, this has been used judiciously and works well. Society need not tolerate the worst of such hateful speech in the public forum. Civil society has a right to demand that we speak with civility to one another.

If secularist continue to republish these cartoons to assert their "right" to do so, they obviously are saying for them "free speech" is held sacred. Sacred secular free speech??? Could this be an oxymoron?? The Danes, to their credit have apologized. Other than publically regretting the publishing of the cartoon, the government is limited in what further actions it might take.
The French, in particular, don't get it. They have raised secularism to a sacred trust and principle. There refusal to allow children to come to school with any symbols of their religion is silly. Head scarfs on Muslim girls and Yamakas on Jewish boys should be allowed and defended rather than forbidden in a free and open Society. Since the French Constitution is explicitly secular all signs of religiosity is not allowed. This attitude fuels cultural hostility that will continue to frustrate French society.. . .I digress!

While I might support the notion, in principle, there should be no limit to free speech, I believe there is a self regulating principle that a self disciplined society or individual should have. It is good taste. The offensive cartoon were basically insensitive bad taste. Rather than getting their backs up in defense of absolute free speech, secularist could have recognizes how offensive it was, and in the name of sensitive good taste immediately apologized.

What is wrong with saying "Sorry! We did not know or understand how offensive this would be to the Islamic community. We ask your forgiveness and have learned a valuable lesson in how to respect our Muslim neighbours in the "global village". Instead there are those who seem to want to mirror George Bush, "Bring 'em on!!" That attitude has done little for world peace and understanding.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


There's a groundhog they say
That has come out to-day
From his burrow down deep in the earth.
But his eyes are so tender that he will not stay,
He will run back for all he is worth
If the sun should break through
For one moment or two
And the poor creature's shadow display.

If his shadow appears
He'll be haunted with fears
And run back to his hole in the ground.
For with winter's return he would freeze off his ears
If he foolishly stayed up around.
When six weeks more of cold
Are so surely foretold
Why stay out and be subject to jeers?

If no shadow he sees
He will feel much at ease,
Knowing winter is over indeed,
Knowing thoroughly well it won't snow and won't freeze,
Knowing now he can frolic and feed.
So he'll stay out through all
From now on until fall
Gnawing off little twigs of young trees.

All of this do you hear
Very early each year,
Though you see well enough it's absurd
For the groundhog to know on what day to appear
Any more than a toad or a bird;
Though you know well enough
It's the silliest stuff
That was ever put into your ear.

There is no certain date,
May be early or late
When the sleep of the winter is through.
But whenever he wakens his hunger's so great
He must strike out for something to chew.
And it often turns out
That the poor little scout
Has to starve in unmerciful fate.

Yes, the much flaunted seer
Gives a pretty bum steer
On how long a cold winter may last.
He has often been found frozen stiff on the ground
Brought to death by a late icy blast
Which he could not foresee
Or determine to be
A possible thing he should fear.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I love this cartoon. This is what life is like in my house when it is cold. One of the realities of heating with wood is the uneven temperatures. Some corners of the house are warmer and colder than others. At night, it can cool down when the wood stove burns low and with an outside wind finding entrance to my old farmhouse.

Some nights I wonder if it will be a two cat, four cat or six cat on my bed, night. (I also have a dog sleeping under the bed who would like to join the rest of us on top.) There was a time there was a pot bellied pig as well. No wonder I live alone.

If had a woman to share my bed I might not need any cats. I may solve this problems soon. Then the cats will be relegated to mouse patrol rather than counterpane warmer.

Life sometimes is a zoo! Posted by Picasa