DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 .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.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day, USA

In spite of, or because of, my personal and religious commitment to pacifism I find I am a real softy when it comes to memorials to fallen soldiers. I can remember getting very weeping over lists of soldiers who have died in one conflict of another. And yet, I have never know a person who died in a conflict or even a family that had someone die. I have had a couple of wet eyed moment already today over what I have read and sen on TV.In spite of the fact I would never volunteer to go to war, I admire those who willingly answer their governments call. It is the futility of war and the waste of lies fighting them than make wartime deaths so poignant to me.

There are very few wars that are justified. I do not accept the mythical justifications for them: patriotism, protect our freedom, honour etc. With a little research it is not hard to learn that wars are never fought for the reason used to lead a Nation's young to fight them. Wars are really a testament to the failure of a Nation's political leadership. Wars are fought for lies and usually economic reasons. (So be it. I don't expect anyone to agree with me.) In any case, my cynical views do not diminish the respect I have for those who have fought and died for their government.

I am always impressed with the respect Europeans have for the sacrifices of foreign soldiers in the First and Second World Wars. They are the ones who can justifiably claim their freedom was paid for by the sacrifice of soldiers who stepped up. This is particularly true in the Netherlands. The Dutch have never forgotten the debt they feel they owe others. Yearly they celebrate their liberation by the Canadians, Americans and British. They teach it to their children and now the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those liberated are remembering.

I don't thinks Americans fully appreciate the respect their soldiers are shown in the Netherlands and Belgium as well as other places in Europe. Canadians take some pride in their efforts to liberate the low countries and the special relationship we have had with the Dutch Royal Family. I believe we are more aware of being appreciated. Each year memorial services are held and cemetaries are visited remembering the soldiers who died and were buried in their country.

Margraten Cemetary in the Netherlands

Margraten Cemetary is the largest American War Cemetary in the Netherlands. It holds the graves of 8301 American soldiers and 1700 missing from the Battle of Arnhem.

Since the Second World War individuals have adopted particular graves and visited, tended the grave and remembered the soldiers over the years. Some have even maintained a relationship with the soldiers relatives over the years. There actually is a waiting list to adopt a grave, remarkably after all these years. Here is a story from Radio Netherlands International. It is interesting to visit on the Internet the War Cemetaries in Europe. I recommend it if you are interested at all in history.

It would ber nice for Americans to know that on Memorial Day they are not the only ones to remember and appreciate the death of their soldiers in war.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Little Piggy. . . .

I hope people found a warm place to curl up in over the past weekend. It was cold and windy here for the Victoria Day Weekend. We even had a few snowflakes. For Canadians this weekend is traditionally the beginning of summer. It is the first weekend to go camping and fishing. There certainly have been a parade of RV's passing by my place on the way to the bush for the myriad of lakes to camp by on the crown land. It is also the first weekend we dare to get into our garden and try to plant some things that a frost won't easily kill. Few Canadians pay much attention to the actual celebration of the birthday of Queen Victoria (which is actually May 24 ) and our present queen, Queen Elizabeth II. There are some public celebrations and fireworks but I think there is more interest in having a long weekend than actually celebrating this historic uniquely Canadian holiday. ( Even Britain does not celebrate this day.) As a shrinking percentage of us with British roots within Canada, I wonder how much long we might seriously recognize this day. French Canadians do not recognize it in Quebec. Also the Inuit of Nunivut don't celebrate it surprisingly as aboriginal people in Canada have a direct and special relationship with the crown. This weekend is often just referred to as Two Four Weekend, a double entendre reference to May 24 and the popular Canadian designation of a case of 24 beer. a two four.

If I remember, when I was a child it was a more important occasion than an opportunity to party with some beer. Or maybe with an English grandmother and a royalist mother I just thought it was more important. We also were not well off enough to have a cottage or even go camping.
How we used to chant, "The 24th of May is the Queen's birthday. If you don't give us a holiday we will all run away." We would have our fireworks in the back yard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had a pig adventure over the weekend that left me exhausted. My Duroc pig, Ruby, slipped out from behind the electric fence. I got up to feed the two sows and realized she was not there. I searched the yard and scanned the adjacent field where I thought she might be.
About 10 o'clock a truck stopped in front of my house and said a large pig was up the road toward town heading my way.

I guess she was heading home. Little did I know!

I drove up the road and found her about 1/2 mile toward town. She was laying along the neighbour's fence enjoying a respite with some cows on the other side. She got up when I arrived and to my delight seemed ready to come home. Even without a little feed to tempt her she followed the car home as a called her with my two calls. " Piggy, piggy, piggy come!" and my irresistable Arkansas Razorback call, "soooo. . .EEEEEE; sooo. . . .EEEE!"

We got home easily. We even slipped by the neigbour's dogs. I counted myself lucky.

I could not get her to cross the line of the fence even when I removed it. She is afraid, very afraid, of the electric fence. So I left her in the yard outside the fence where she seemed content to rest and share her adventure with the other sow, Babe. This did not last long. She seemed to be restless with wanderlust and I saw her heading across the corner of the field toward the road we just came down.

I jumped in the car with some feed in a pail and drove up around the corner to head her off. To make a long story short, I could not turn her around with or without the feed. She was determined to head toward town again. I kept driving by her to intercept her and turn her around in a futile effort. She got back to the place where I found her about an hour earlier, where she stopped to look longingly at the cows on the field.

I did manage to get her moving back toward the house, with great difficulty. As we passed the next farm's lane she headed up it and I could not turn her around. Finally, she took the bush. Out of frustration and exhaustion, I gave up and went home figuring I would hear when someone spotted her. I was not home ten minute and my farm neighbour was at the door and said that the pig was in his front yard and his wife would not be pleased if the pig rooted up the lawn.

Tired and reluctant I said I would come right over. He and his father on their four wheelers helped me get Ruby moving out the lane until she took the swamp next to the road. They buggered off! I followed her into the swamp. I stumbled after her falling on my face in the wet muck a couple of times. We passed out of the swamp onto a small field next to the lane where we went round and round several times. I finally got her on the laneway again, but as we passed the point where she took the swamp before, she took it again. I followed.

Through the swamp she lay down next to the fence around a field of cows. I needed to lie down too. I was exhausted and my arthritic knees were painful. I left her there and went home for a coffee and a rest. Returning, I first went to town to get some gas for the car before resuming my round-up. At the store, I learned that Ruby had been in town overnight and was spotted several places. The owner of the store said the pig scared him when he heard her early in the morning, thinking she was a bear. He did say, "She is a friendly pig. It seems she likes to be around people." It was from there that she was heading home when I first caught up with her a couple of hours earlier.

I returned to where I left the pig lying down and she was gone. I called and called, "Piggy, piggy, piggy, come! and "sooo. . EEEEEE; sooo. .EEEEEE!" with no luck . Home again for some rest.

I was not home more than 10 minutes and the phone rang. The neighbour. on the edge of town, just beyond the neigbour's farm, called and said the pig was in his yard, (about a mile from home). Reluctantly, and even more exhausted, I drove over only to see the pig coming down the road about 1000 feet from the neighour's place. I went and spoke to him and got him to come and help me on the round-up. He came in his ARGO driving behind the pig and I drove in front tempting her with feed. "Piggy, piggy, piggy, come!" "soooo. . . ..EEEEEEE; soooo. . .EEEEEE." She seemed willing to come home again . It went fairly well.

I still could not get her behind the electric fence.

After a short rest, she headed out across the field to pick up the road, again. I followed her onto the field and chased her around and around the small hill on the field managing to keep her from breaking for the road. Finally, ready to drop from exhaustion, (No, not the pig. . .me!) she slipped by me and headed to the road. I headed for the house and the car so I could head her off again. I got June to drive while I struggled to get the pig turned around. We were only about 1/4 of a mile from the house, still adjacent to my land. When we reached the hill in the road she headed into the bush and field to cut across corner toward the house. I followed and June went on to the house. Then she turned and passed me again out to the road heading away from home again. This time I warched her enter another neighbours lane. When I saw that I returned to the house to get June and the car again. I was beyond exhaustion and could not walk after that sow.

We turned into this neighbour's lane and she was lying resting next to his shed, halfway down the lane. The neighbours were there putting in their garden so he helped me get the pig heading out his lane again. I managed to get her up the hill and down the road passed the neighbour's dogs and home at last for the third time.

Still I could not get her behind the electric fence.

There I sat on a five gallon pail with feed on the ground all around me trying to tempt Ruby to cross the line where the fence was previously strung. She would not cross. Babe, the other pig, must have thought it was her special day with all this extra feed to eat. Just as a fellow drove up to return the buck rabbit I loaned him, with whom I was about seek sympathy by teling him my tale of whoa, Ruby dashed across the line onto the inside of the fenced field. Thus ending Ruby's walkabout.

I had spent most of the day chasing a pig. I began to think "To market, to market you will go!" For now, I am still recovering and live in fear of her next bout of wanderlust.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Seven Years Late

It was the British politician, William Gladstone, in the 19th Century who first said, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied." Three weeks ago, we were reminded of this in the case of
Omar Khadr, a Canadian, being held in the US Guantanamo Prison Camp. He is the last westerner held there and he was a child of 15 when he was sent there seven years ago. Cruelly, he has languished there ignored as a child soldier, at times tortured, denied his rights, and toyed with in the Kangaroo Court the US set up to give the appearance of justice.

Worst still, he has been badly served by the Canadian government, first under the Liberals and now under the Conservatives. They have not stood up for this Canadian child who should have been protected by international laws, of which we and the US are signatories : The Rights of the Child and the Protocol for Child soldiers.

Finally, Justice O"Reilly of the federal court told the Government that they were not doing the moral and legal right thing by ignoring the plight of Omar Khadr. He basically demanded that the Federal Government try to have Omar Khadr repatriated to Canada, where he can be granted justice, a fair trial and rehabilitation as a child soldier.

In a long and scathing judgment the judge laid out the moral and legal requirements on how the Government had not fulfilled its duty toward Omar Khadr.

This pattern of behaviour is not new for the current Conservative government. They have failed to do all that they should be expected to do for Canadians who have been in trouble in foreign countries. I need not remind people at how the government failed Maher Arar. In the end, they were required to pay him $10 million dollars for their neglect and his pain and suffering. Currently, the case of , Canadian Abousfian Abelrazik, trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan, caught up in a catch-22 nightmare in his effort to return to Canada is a horror story prolonged by the lack of moral and legal action by the government.

The case of Omar Khadr is long and complicated. He was originally accused of killing an American soldier among other "crimes". He was with some adults caught up in a firefight with American soldiers. The Amercians resorted in dropping two 5oo pound bombs on the compound the insurgents were in. Omar survived. For year the US claimed, as the last "man" standing he threw the grenade that killed the soldier. Last year, the prosecution accidently let his lawyers see an eye witness report by one of the soldiers which said there was at least one other person alive which the soldier killed and then shot Omar in the back twice, which left him badly wounded. It is unlikely a fair trial would ever convict Omar on this charge. Of course, as a child soldier he should not have been charged at all. He should have been repatriated to his country and undergone rehabilitation.

If you want to watch a short documentary on Omar Khadr's case go here to see one by the CBC that is a little dated but the basic story is told. And Wikipedia has a long report on him.

In the last three weeks their has been silence from the government. In the face of the legal demand that they make an effort to get Omar returned to Canada, they at first said they were going to appeal the decision. All there is is SILENCE. One get the feeling that they are ignoring the court and hope to delay doing what is called for. They can delay long enough that Khadr's case will be restarted June 1 making his return to Canada more difficult.

It is an outrageI The conservative government is being contemptuous of the legal direction from the Federal Court. They have an opportunity to finally do the right thing. With the Obama administration wanting to close down Quantanamo Prison, Canada could help them out by taking Omar Khadr off their hands. As a constitutional lawyer, I am sure Obama knows that his detention is illegal and the US is required to treat him as a child soldier.

We are all shamed by Canada and a Canadian citizen being treated with such contempt, no only by our close neighbour and ally, but by our own government which fails to do what is legal and moral on behalf of one of our children, caught up in the American Gulag.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day

I hope all those who had, or are still enjoying, the adventure of mothering children. . . . all the best today. May you be remembered and appreciated by your children and grand children.

I sent my sister a greeting on this day, as she is the mother of four grown children awaiting her first grandchild. I got an email note back from Spain, where she is treking on the
Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the historic (World Heritage) pilgrimage across Spain. She will certainly remember this Mothers' Day! She is older than I am but obviously in better shape. I am sure she is soaking all the history and scenery up. My sister is a retired history teacher and over the years has traveled a lot. She began her married life with a 15 month travel adventure around the World.

They lived in Switzerland for six months while my brother- in -law took a course. There were the summers her family vacationed in the south of France polishing their French and enjoying that lovely part of France. Then there were the years she was a volunteer for LeLeche League for whom she went to Japan and Botswana to promote breastfeeding. And, there were the vacations in Monserrat, in the Caribbean with "Aunt Margaret", whose property her husband inherited only to have the volcano erupt and destroy a large part of the island and their property.

Now she is retired. It seems she has lots of trips planned. With her daughter working in London, England she travels there as often as possible. Recently she spent time in Ecuador with a Spanish speaking family to learn some basic facility in Spanish. She also took a side trip the the Galapogas Islands. And now, she is trekking in Spain.

Her note said she was presently at the small historic community along the camino called Stella, Spain.

On this day I am thinking of how my mother would have loved to have traveled as Penny has and seen historic and beautiful places. For working class people back then such travel was not commonly done. Besides, she was busy raising three children. She did manage to visit Britain and visit her English relatives and see Stoke- on- Trent where her parents came from. Sadly, she died too young , at 61, and missed out on many retirement years. Not many days slip by that I haven't thought fondly of her since her death in1978. She lives on in so many ways through the lessons and values I learned at her knee.