DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 .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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


From Tous le Gang Chez Nous!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Own Marmaduke

Before I got a Great Dane as a pet and companion, I never thought one could be so amusing and entertaining. Heidi makes me smile at all times of the day. She is quiet and gentle and spends most of her time sleeping or just lying about as long as I am in the room. But when I am ready to go she is quick to jump up and follow me.

Heid is all legs and part of her physical humour is how she decides to fold her legs in when she lies down. Sometimes she just puts them up in the air as in the picture below as she rolls around on her favourite spot. . . .my bed. Thsi is cute in a little dog but ridiculous in a Great Dane.

"My Marmaduke" Heidi

I have taken to reading the comic Marmaduke. They are funnier now that I own a Great Dane that they were when I used to occasionally glance at them in the newspaper years ago. Here is a little background on the strip

Brad Anderson, the creator of Marmaduke has accurately caught so many of the Great Dane's personality and physical presence.

This 'toon struck me as particularly funny. Ironically, his master is also called Phil

If only Heidi could learn to dance like Honey the Great Dane in the video below. For years I have tried to find a partner to take ballroom dancing lessons with me. When I was 14, was the last time I learned to dance ballroom dances. if Heidi could dance, what fun we would have.

The wonderful dog in this video has its own web site with a special section on his freestyle dancing

Friday, December 26, 2008

Queen's Christmas Message

"Hush, hush, the Queen is about to speak." We are huddled around the radio on Christmas morning. My mother is sitting as close to the radio as possible while my brother, sister and I are trying to be respectfully quiet as this moment is obviously important to my mother.

The Queen still gives her Christmas message each year and I dutifully listen. She is after all our Queen. It seem some Canadians do not know this. They may be new immigrants from non-Commonweath countries, (or were just away from school the day they taught this lesson). My grandparents were British and loyal subjects. My mother was a history buff and loved to know about the Royal family. She passed this knowledge on to us, her children.

I recently learned that I wasn't born a Canadian. I was born a British subject. It was in the late 40's that Canadians were "born Canadian".

Sometimes I feel my generations may be the last to honour the Queen as an institution and symbol of our Nation. So far the voices to abolish the Monarchy are quiet, unlike in Australia where there are loud voices to transform that country into a Republic.

If for no other reason, the Monarchy is worth maintaining to make Canada more distinctive from our Republican cousin, the United States of American.

My mother to a great extent admired the Royal family for how they behaved during the Second World War. They stayed in Britain and accepted the risks along with their people. Our present Queen, then Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret worked alongside others at bringing aid to people in distress in London. As a symbol of the Nation and the Empire the Royal family helped to hold the war effort focused and together.

Our Queen has dedicated her life to doing her Duty. She pledge she would do this when her father died and she has. She has served as Queen well with honour and dignity, even if some of her offspring have behaved less so at times. I wish her long life, like her mother, the Queen Mom. who lived to be 100. With luck the crown will be passed on, not to Prince Charles but to Prince William, her grandson.

Below is a video of this year's Christmas message, for those who missed it because their mother did not insist on listen to her Majesty when they were a child. This is one of the few cases when the Queen speaks informally and in her own words directly to the population. She reviews the year and speaks to the concerns of the day and about her family personally.

When the Queen speaks to the parliament of the United Kingdom it is a very formal occasion full of ritual and symbolism. She actually reads an address written by the government of the day.

I have posted the video below because I find the ritual and formality interesting. I hope others might enjoy it.

God Save the Queen!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


We had more snow fall last night. it keeps coming.

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A Currier and Ives winter scene? I think so.

The plow came by overnight to clear the road and leave me a chore of digging out. I am still flying the Labradorian Flag. We certainly are getting snow worthy of that wonderful wild part of Canada.

In honour of my niece, Laura, now living in Australian, I thought I would include some Austalian Christmas songs. Below is a version of "I'm Dreaming of an Aussie Christy" by Addison a delightful Aussie child. (You may need an Australian slang dictionary for some words. A "snag" is a sausage cooked in the barbecue, the barbie) Enjoy.

And the well known Aussie song, "Six White Boomers"

Right now I could enjoy an Aussie Christmas away from all this snow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"tis the Day Before Christmas

.. . . .I'm feeling quite blue,

To cheer me up, I turn to Youtube

And my philologist teacher to relieve my distress.

Now I feel better. She makes me smile.

She is a charming teacher, n'est-ce pas?

I only remember one such teacher who made me all warm and fuzzy with a pre-teenage crush. She shall remain nameless but it remains a warm memory of my school days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, Canadians are in Kandahar

The sure signs of our presence in Kandahar are our national obsession and our most common addiction.

Our national obsession: hockey! The first thing to go up at the military base is a hockey rink. It is for ball hockey, too warm for ice hockey, but hockey just the same.

With lighting, of course, so it can be played day and night.

To satisfy our addiction, Tim Hortons, our most beloved national institution.
Make mine a large double-double with 20 tim bits. I read the soldiers from other countries are joining in our love of Tim Hortons.
Makes me wonder what the local Afghanis would think if they were allowed onto the base.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Canada in Kandahar

Ii was just announced that the new governor of Kandahar province in Afghanistan is an Afghan Canadian academic, Dr. Tooryala Wesa. He grew up in Kandahar and he is a member of the same Pastun tribe as President Karsai. Before he moved to Canada he had been the first President of Kandahar University. He is an agricultural specialist and speaks all the local languages.

He appears to be a good choice for Afghanistan and Canada. It is in Kandahar the Canadian soldiers have been working to establish security so that reconstruction projects can get developed. They have done a good job, sometimes having to do some heavy fighting along with the Afghan Army. Canada has had 103 soldiers and one diplomat killed so far. (This is the highest percentage of losses by any Country in the NATO coalition supporting the Afghanistan government.)

Just north and east of Kandahar city is the Arghandab River Valley. This past year there has been a struggle to drive the insurgency out of this area and secure it for the government. it is a major agricultural area.

It is in this area that Canada is making a major contribution to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. There is a $50 million dollar project to refurbish the Duhla Dam on the river. This dam is very inportant for the river valley which is an agricultural breadbasket for the country. With a refurbished dam and reconstruction of the irrigation system in the valley the agriculture will flourish. In this valley there is wheat, fruit, grapes, marijuna (that weed grows evrywhere). It has historically been a place for growing some of the best pomegranets in the World. It has the potential of being worthy of the name it has often been call, "Shangri-la".

Dr Wesa is ideally suited to help with the agricultural improvement in this area.

Part of the Arghandab River Valley

This is a typical rural family from this area. "We have met the enemy, and they are us." I am afraid the popular press leaves us with the impression that the Taliban mujahideen (holy warriors) are typical of the people who populate this area. No, most are just small farmers trying to make a living is an area often harsh but full of promise.

I find Afghanistan a fascinating place and I hope it works out a way to bring about peace and security for its people. It will be the Afghans that work this out not Western militaries. People, like Dr Wesa, offer more hope and promise for Afghanistan that all the militry might. If he can be affective and rise above the corruption and criminality which plagues the country, real progress can be made in this important area of Afghanistan.
I hope to write some more about Canada in Kandahar later. I will post some more pictures if possible.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

And soon. . . Christmas!

This post is for my blogging friend, Peggy. (You made me do it). I am slow to get into the Christmas spirit. Heidi in her own way is showing some Christmas excitement.

Who me! Woof! It is the Christmas season.

Philip wanted me to be a reindeer and prance up and down on the road.

It won't happen. Two minute outside on the icy road and I have to raise my feet one at a time to keep them from freezing. I do what I have to and head for the door to the house and my favourite couch.

I do think I look cool in profile.

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It is milder today, so while I rest, Philip dug a path to the woodpile and brought in some wood before the wind rain and more snow came. The best of the season to everyone! WOOF!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Moon Gazing

With the sky cloudless and a cool -22C temperature, last night was perfect for observing the spectacular moon lighting up the night sky and reflecting off the snow covered landscape. Below is my attempt to photograph the moon. Oh! to have an adequate camera.

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Last night's moon was closest it gets to the Earth so it appeared 14% larger and 30% brighter. To see a photo of what the moon really appeared like go here.

Here is what the National Geographic Society has to tell us about this event

And, or course, you must see what NASA has to say

I hope you all got to see the moon so you could go "ooo and awww". If you do not live where there is lots of snow and no light pollution, you missed some of the best viewing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Today is the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a remarkable document reflecting the highest idealism of what human rights are. The reality of politics and history has often seen aspects of it unattained, even by the most progressive and enlightened societies. It stands as a beacon for all mankind to seek to realize..

Every Human Has Rights

If you have never read this remarkable document I urge you to today on this day, its
60th Anniversary. You might be surprised at the high standard set. for instance Article 25 encourages universal health care as a right. Hopefully, this will be attained during the Obama presidency in the US.

Canadians should be particularly proud of this document as one of our own was the drafter of the original document, He was one of those shy Canadian academics/jurists who quietly did great things through the UN. He is little know to most of us. He merits our attention. Before his death he was honoured for his work.

There were others who worked on this document and polished Humphrey's first draft. Read this brief history.

The wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt was a significant contributor representing the United States.
She called this document the "magna carta" for human rights.

Over the years, this document has set the standard for International Law in the area of human rights and the betterment of societies.

It you would like to put a badge or widget on your blog go here,

And Yet, More Snow

We had more snow last night. It has been three, or is it four, significant snowfalls in the last couple of weeks. In thirty years I do not remember this much snow this early. It isn't even officially winter yet. I will blame it on the Americans! We only get such snow when warm moist air comes up from the Gulf of Mexico to be greeted by cold Arctic highs. I think I am spoiled because we have a a few winters with not very much snow, (winter drought). Perhaps, this will be the winter the "old timers" talk about with the snow covering the fence posts. Yikes!

I am not only cheap, I am lazy. I only shovel enough to get the car off the road.

There is about a three foot high pile at the side of the road. Soon they will be cutting back the top half with the plow to leave a shelf to allow them to push more snow back when it comes.

I remember the days I would pull my son on skis or a tobbagan with the tractor so he could go up and down off the shelf. Those were the years, Winter was fun.

I am getting tires of having to break a new trail to the shed after every storm.

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My shed does not have a hipped roof. This is a snow drift hanging over the edge of the roof.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Muslims and the Hajj

This week as many as 3 million Muslims are participating in the religious poligrimage to Mecca, the hajj. This is one of the most remarkable religious gatherings of any faith. It is a religious obligation for all muslims to participate in the hajj at least once in their lifetime to seek forgiveness.

Mecca during the hajj. The black draped building at the center is the Kaaba.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam shared by all muslims. The Shia muslims expand this to eight pillars and the Ishmali Shia muslims include only seven. In simples terms the five pillars are: regularly affirming the creed " There is one God, Allah, and Mohammud is his messenger"; praying five times a day; giving alms; fasting ,as required, and going on the hajj. Islam is on one level a very simple faith of a lifetime, and lifestyle, of devotion. Christianity in its simplist form is not all that dissimilar. In practice, Islam, like Christianity, can be very complex.

For a good explanation of the significance of the hajj visit this award winning blog

If you are interested in reading muslim blogs a good place to start it here.

Of course, I wish everyone would read Sunshine's blog. She is a young teenager who writes about herself, her a schooling and her family and friends, trying to live a normal life in a war zone.
I am a great believer in our responsibility to know something about other faiths so that we may understand them at their highest standard. At a time, when so much is spoken of about Islam, which puts it in a negative light, it is even more important to learn something of this great monotheistic faith with so much in common with Judaism and Christianity

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Montreal Massacre Remembered

It was 19 years ago today, December 6, that Marc Lapine entered the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, with an automatic weapon and killed 14 female engineering students, after sending the men out of the room.

Lapine hated women. I need not say more.

Memorial Plaque to the 14 Women

The women were individual with every reason to hope for a bright future. They were making their mark in a male dominated profession. Today 17 years later they would be at the height of their careers, no doubt with families and possibly children of their own looking forward to adulthood. They are no doubt deeply missed by family and friends. Also, their deaths have left an indelible impression on Canada and our understanding of ourselves.

As a result of these killings, Canada was galvanized to bring about more effective gun control. Women, in particular, have also been mobilized to resist violence against women in our society. To the extent these efforts have born fruit, they give some meaning to the senseless lose of these women.

'Till the day I die, I will never understand men who justify to themselves to be abusive toward women, verbally and physically.

I do not consider my upbringing extraordinary but somewhere along the way, I was taught to never be abusive toward women. I have never raised my hand in anger toward a woman or even been verbally abusive. I credit my mother for this. I can hear her admonitions even now. "You must never, ever, under any circumstance, hit your sister. Some day you will be much bigger and stronger than her.!" "You must never hit a woman." This went along with being polite and respectful toward women. My father also was respectful toward women and never hit my mother. I only remember a few occasions of loud discussions after I went to bed
(I still remember how upset they made me: frightened and insecure.)

I am inclined to blame the mother's of abusive men. Where were they when lesson should have been taught to son. (This is an oversimplistic answer, I know. Human behaviour is very complicated and shaped by many factors.) I do know my mother left an impression on my. I would like to know why treating women properly was so important to her. I thank her for it.
I would have trouble facing myself if I took out my demons on a woman.

I also have trouble understanding women allowing themselves to be treated abusively. I don't believe any of the women I have loved and been close to would have tolerated abuse for a minute. Need I say I like strong independent women which may explain why I live alone today.

Society must judge abusive men very harshly. It is not acceptable at all.

Friday, December 05, 2008

An Early Winter

We have had the second significant snowfall already this season. Now it has turned cold (-15C last night) It seems Winter has set in early this year. The beauty of the snow is always a joy to behold.

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The swimming hole

Forest covered rock outcropping

Heidi went for a run without me. She has not learned the fun of plunging into the deep snow as Gage used to do.

The show that fell was quite wet. With the drop in temperature it has firmed up and will make snowshoeing possible.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Scenes in Winter

Today it is sparkling bright today: blue sky, white snow. It is not very cold and we are expecting more snow tomorrow. I thought I would post some winter pictures.

Picasa, my photo handling program, has some new features. One is allowing one to write on the photos. I gave that a try.

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A typical scene along the road to town. I made a trip to Verner to get feed for the animals and do a little laundry.

My path to the shed is beginning to look well used. The piglets use it too travelling in single file.
So cute!

There is a little drifting alongside Dave's raised garden and the wood pile. About mid thigh deep.

Even the piglets enjoy the snow and fresh air. He they are enjoying some cracked corn.
The other day I absentmindedly let Heidi outside loose. Right away she headed for the shed with me hobbling along behind to try to stop her. She won that foot race. By the time i caught up she has grabbed a piglet by the back of the neck. The victum was squealing bloody murder. The sow is threatening to vault out of her pen to join in the fray. I get a good grip on Heidi and give her some wacks across the nose until she released her victum. I drag her away.
In no time, Heidi is once again my adoring, gentle companion. She certainly has it in for pigs.
To let Heidi loose I have to take her down by the river.
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Monday, December 01, 2008


We enjoyed a snowstorm overnight. We have had nearly a foot of snow

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This is the road in front of my house. It was just getting light as Heidi and I enjoyed the morning air.

These are my first footprint on my path to the shed. At one point there was a drift that was up to mid thigh on me. It was here that I just had to fall. Fortunately, I did not spill the pig feed. it was a struggle to get to my feet.

Looking back toward the house. Remember Dave's raised garden? I love the blue colour of the morning light.

Later in the day, a view from the house toward the shed.

With regard to my previous post. It seems the train has left the station. The opposition parties have formally formed a coalition, developed a program and decided how to divide up the cabinet seats. Canada's parliament is in historic territory as the minority government may be replaced through a" vote of no confidence". It will be next week that the opportunity for the vote will come up. In the meantime, the coalition partners have sent a letter to Governor General Michaele Jean explaining what they have done and explained their program. They informed her that they are available to become the government when the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is defeated. It seems their is little the Conservatives can do about it. They tried making some side issue concessions to no avail. The opposition just believe the Conservatives are not doing all they should to ward off the recession.

The Conservatives might try to prorogue parliament to gain some breathing space and give the Opposition time to have a change of heart but just elected as the government (no legislative business has happened ) the Governor General agreeing to prorogue parliament is unlikely. Parliament is prorogued normally after a legislative session when the program set forth in a throne speech is largely completed.

What happens now is up to the Governor General. She can agree to call an election or ask the coalition to form the government. So in a week or do Stephane Dion of the Liberal Party will be the new Prime Minister, just two months after the election of the Conservatives. ( They won the election with 36% of the vote. Actually, the combined opposition parties, with 64% of the vote more accurate represent the majority.

If the government is defeated with a vote of no confidence it will be a harsh judgement on Stephen Harper. As a minority government his Conservatives should have found a way of cooperating with the opposition (or at least keep them divided). His arrogant style, right wing ideological program and unwillingness to compromise, offended too many of his fellow parliamentarians.

On a snowy day, this political drama was interesting to watch on TV, particularly the question period as the opposition harangued the government. . . . . . . .seemed to have a good time doing it!

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