Archive for the ‘Thought for the day’ Category

Small farmers in Québec

July 13, 2017

9847128

 Photo : Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette

I was lucky enough to have always lived in a first floor apartment in the city of Montreal. So I’ve always have a small garden to grow some lettuce, green onions, basil, tomatoes, pepper and little more. So when someone talked to me about this article, I thought I should share and maybe it could inspire some.

This article was published in the Gazette about small Farmers in Québec, on the May 16, 2014. Today, even big stores like Loblaws and Metro are now carrying free range meat they say is raised with no antibiotics, as well as organic fruit and vegetables, albeit from beyond our borders. But the big story, in lockstep with the farm-to-table movement, is the new life on Quebec’s small farms.

In the article we are introduce to the Ferme Tourne-sol, who started with 5 students who met at McGill University and decided to farm together. They found a piece of land to rent and started their work in Les Cèdres. They started in 2005; they wanted to offer fresh and organic vegetable and fruit for the community. As Pascal Thériault , an agricultural economics expert who teaches at McGill’s MacDonald Campus in Ste-Anne de Bellevue said, “Historically, our particular program has been in place to train farmers, and we usually get sons and daughters of farmers who will themselves take over the farm. This coming year, 23 of the 48 completed applicants did not come from farms or have only a limited knowledge of agriculture.”

We are also meeting Jean-Marie Fortier (in the picture above), from Les Jardins de la Grelinette in St-Armand, who only uses hand held tools to work his field, “People are super stoked hearing that young people make a living on an acre and a half without a tractor,” he says.

The movement toward small, organic farming is so strong, Thériault says, that many farmers can’t accept more customers for their CSAs. But that doesn’t mean all new farmers will be successful.

“Jean-Martin is a great example of being able to make a lot of money,” he said. “Having a sustainable farm is cool but it has to be financially sustainable. Direct sell to consumer is more work and more trouble, and distributors won’t do business with them, since they can’t guarantee the volumes.”

I recommend you to go and check this article :

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Appetite+organic+Quebec+small+farmers+thriving/9847124/story.html

Would you decide to make a change and become a farmer ?

When buying your vegetable, do you know where they came from ?

Are you trying to eat fresh and organic food ?

What do you think of GMO ?

 

Stephanie P.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

July 11, 2017

 

 

Tis The Last Rose Of Summer

 

‘Tis the last rose of summer,

Left blooming alone;

All her lovely companions

Are faded and gone;

No flower of her kindred,

No rose-bud is nigh,

To reflect back her blushes,

Or give sigh for sigh.

 

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!

To pine on the stem;

Since the lovely are sleeping,

Go sleep thou with them.

Thus kindly I scatter

Thy leaves o’er the bed,

Why thy mates of the garden

Lie scentless and dead.

 

So soon may I follow,

When friendships decay,

And from love’s shining circle

The gems drop away.

When true heart lie wither’d,

And fond ones are flown,

Oh! who would inhabit

This bleak world alone?

 

 

By Thomas Moore.

Driving with your mate

July 6, 2017

Catharine writes :

While I was packing to go by car to Kingston, with my nephew, I couldn’t help remembering what Neil called his zaniest program.

Do you have any stories about a road trip ?

What do you do when your are stressed in your car ?

Are you a good co-driver ?

 

DOES A STAY-AT-HOME VACATION MAKE ANY SENSE?

June 26, 2017

For starters a stay-at-home vacation means you don’t spend a nickel on travel or accommodation.

The experts say the key to a stay vacation is planning:

Just as you do when actually away on vacation, a start date and an end date.

Avoid working on projects around the house.

Avoid everyday routine:  Avoid the mail, e-mails and phone calls just as you do when away.

Set a stay vacation budget.

Act like a tourist in your own town.  Visit with fresh eyes places you would take visitors to visit.

Have you ever had a stay-at-home vacation?  How did it work?

Would you try one?

ARE YOU TIRED OF WAITING?

June 21, 2017

 

 

Did you know that a new survey reveals that 86 per cent of Canadians say they’ve given up on their purchases and walked out of a business after waiting too long for service.

Department stores are deemed the worst offenders with 78 per cent of customers say they’ve bailed out.

More than half have left a bank or convenience store in frustration. Two-thirds say they’ve given up on public transit and half have abandoned a medical facility.

Have you walked out of any of these places? Other places?

How long are you prepared to wait?

On average, consumers said eight minutes was enough time to wait in a grocery store and they’d give up after 15 minutes; they’d wait up to 22 minutes for public transit and 81 minutes to see a doctor before they walked out.

What is your experience waiting in these places? Other places?

How long do you think it is acceptable to wait?

Now, if you want to read how others handle this subject check out Larry Chung at IHateBadService.ca

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

June 20, 2017

 

 

Catharine writes:

 

Today, Friday June 16 is Bloomsday, named in honour of James Joyce’s hero.  I was hurrying out of the Manoir Westmount to attend a reading of ”Ulysses” by Joyce, at the Westmount Library.  This novel, which I had never attempted to read, has been translated in many languages, and is considered perhaps the finest work of its kind in the 20th century.

As I walked away from our front door, I caught sight of a small bed of white flowers, their petals glistening from the rain that had just stopped; they exuded joy.  I stopped for a moment and suddenly I was back in my grandmother’s garden at Donlands Farm on the edge of Don Mills Road, Toronto.  I had just been scolded for some minor misdemeanour by a well meaning but stern aunt.  I was four years old.  I crouched by my favourite stone, thrown up centuries by a volcano.   The sun had melted the snow around part of the rock.  There in the warm brown earth was a single blue flower.

I had the strongest feeling that small flower was trying to send me a message.  I couldn’t quite decipher its meaning.  Years later, I thought, that flower was saying ”Bloom for the day.”  Now here I was on Bloomsday, 2017, and these small white flowers were nodding the same message.

I also attended an absolutely outstanding lecture by Prof. Micheal Kenneally about Jane Joyce’s “Ulysses”.  For many of us there we decided we could dare to approch the complexity of this book.  The book may, however, have to wait until next winter, since Montreal in summer is so captivating, with its flowers and trees and strolling musicians.  I am told Westmount Library has 30 books just about trees.  Which reminds me … but that’s another story.  

If there is that much to say about trees, what could be said about the lives of each of us?  The entire book ”Ulysses” is almost just one day in the life of Bloom.  (Perhaps I won’t wait until winter to start.)

 

 

Tuesday Writing Conversation: John Main

June 13, 2017

 

From the forthcoming new edition of In The Stillness Dancing – The Journey of John Main this is chapter 3.

 

3. Special Communications Unit No. 4

During his school years Douglas Main did well in English and he liked writing. So it was natural that he should apply for a position on the Hornsey Journal, a suburban newspaper, located in the area where the Main family lived in north London. He was accepted and began his journalistic career in July 1942. In his wallet was a journalistic pass number, 23. Unfortunately, his duties were not very significant. The reason was not lack of enthusiasm on his part, but that the war had reduced the paper’s impact. For security reasons, the Hornsey Journal had no mast-head, and for the same reasons there were no signed stories or by-lines.

Still, Douglas managed to keep busy. As a junior reporter he covered the local courts, council meetings and social events. If the occasion called for it, he was not above a little journalistic licence. Clearly, the wedding of his older sister, Kitty, in August 1942, called for it. Douglas described the wedding lavishly, listed the bridal gifts, then added half as many again for good measure. He was also generous in other ways. With his first week’s pay from the Journal, Douglas bought his friend, Diana Ernaelsteen, a second-hand bicycle. She describes the scene, ‘I could see Douglas wheeling the bicycle up the road. It was in good condition. I was eight years old and Douglas promptly taught me to ride it over the week-end.’ Besides the Ernaelsteens, one other stop for Douglas was the local church, St Peter-in-Chains, Stroud Green. Douglas was checking on church news for his paper but he often stayed to chat with the pastor, Canon Aloysius Smith. The parish was staffed by the Canons Regular of the Lateran, a group that would later affect Douglas’ longer journey.

Besides his work at the Hornsey Journal, Douglas was also involved with his family on the war’s home front. The danger to their home life at 108 Muswell Hill Road was real enough. All the windows had been blown in by bombs dropping nearby. The church just up the hill had been set on fire by German bombers. Eileen Main was in charge of the red alarm-box located in their home. Their father, David, was a fire warden. Douglas and his sisters were all fire-watchers. During severe raids, Eileen would shepherd everyone onto mattresses under the heavy dining-room table.

Presently the war became more demanding for Douglas. Call-ups were becoming more numerous, so in the spring of 1943 he left the Hornsey Journal and took a course as a wireless operator. Then on 13 December 1943, he enlisted at Barnet, Hertfordshire, not far from his home, in the Royal Corps of Signals. He was then nearly 18 years old, and his russet- coloured ‘Soldier’s Service and Pay Book’ described him as 6 feet, l3/4 inches tall, weighing 145 lbs, with blue eyes and light brown hair. He wrote down his trade as a ‘student journalist’.

Douglas (John Main) in 1949 with his niece Anne-Marie Stanley

At this time, Douglas’s knowledge of the Morse code (some of it learned from his father, David) and the wireless course he had taken gave him a leg up in the Royal Signals. He was sent almost immediately to a training station in Kent. There he spent most of 1944 with his unit (Special Communications Unit Number 3) perfecting the sensitive skills required to recognize and retrieve enemy signals. He was never far from home and his family. That summer David Main had rented a house in Sussex. As the holiday time approached David sent his son a telegram. It read: ‘Tell your C.O. to let you home for the week-end for a family gathering or you will be our missing link. Your Daddy.’ The sergeant read the tele­gram to the troops in a booming voice, stressing the words, ‘Your Daddy’. Douglas William Victor Main of the Royal Signals was not amused.

In the autumn of 1944 another group (Special Communi­cations Unit Number 4) was formed for more specialized intelligence work overseas. The unit embarked for the Euro­pean theatre of war in mid-January 1945. S.C.U.4 was a mobile communications unit that included several ambulances containing wireless equipment for both receiving and sending messages. The unit proceeded overseas by landing craft to the port of Ostend. They then moved on to establish a listening base near Brussels.

The intelligence work itself was demanding but not specially dangerous (except for the occasional buzz-bomb). Primarily Douglas and the other ‘special enlistment’ were searching for hostile signals, especially the signals of enemy agents, some of whom were left behind the lines of the rapid Allied advance toward the Rhine. The knack was to pluck the correct signal out of the air, often cluttered with hundreds of signals criss-crossing like tracer bullets. Douglas would sit at a bank of receivers, one to monitor the sender, the other the receptor of enemy signals. (To confuse matters further the signals sometimes emanated from friendly agents.

Of course, there was help to penetrate the confusion. Normally Douglas and his fellow operators would receive a schedule of the special frequencies to monitor on a given day. But if they had no assigned frequencies, they searched for specified enemy signals. This demanded acute attention. Sometimes the listener-operator would recognize the appropriate signal by the manner in which the enemy operator pounded the keys. A secondary task involved locating enemy transmissions by D/F (directional finding). Bearings would be taken on the enemy transmitter from two or more intercept stations. Then the transmitter could often be located, at least in a general area, and its subsequent movements traced. Sometimes the Germans alone had as many as 4,000 messages in the air daily. These were normally transmitted in a variety of codes and ciphers, the most well-known being the complex Enigma, first broken, unknown to the Germans, in 1940. The undeciphered messages, whether from Enigma or other enemy ciphers and codes, usually ended up in a place called Bletchley Park. Located about 50 miles from London, Bletchley Park became the nerve centre for receiving, deciphering, re-encoding and disseminating information from the enemy intelligence system to Allied commanders in every theatre of the war. This information was one of the decisive factors in the eventual victory.

In spite of the pressure of their intelligence work, Douglas and his friends, especially Harry Spendiff and Tudor Jones, had their moments of leisure. Harry Spendiff was an older man. He had enlisted as a policeman from Newcastle-on- Tyne. He liked Douglas and, to some extent, took him under his wing: ‘Doug was a hell of a nice fellow, bright, out of the ordinary and definitely officer class.’ Douglas also spent a lot of time with Tudor Jones, a shy and retiring soldier from Wales. Jones taught Douglas how to swim and dive and, at Douglas’s insistence, they visited almost every church they passed so that Douglas could take a picture. Occasionally they spent a short leave in Brussels or dropped into a bar in Assche for a drink and a visit with a friendly young woman bar-tender. They also got to know and like a hair-dresser of English background in Assche to whom they took cigarettes. Tudor Jones remembers Douglas telling her he would like to become a priest.

Whatever the future held, Douglas did not like army life. He saw the war as something to be endured. He obeyed military discipline because he realized that was the way to endure it with the least inconvenience. He certainly did not relish army food, he did not appreciate the rigmarole of mili­tary regulations and he did not like some of his officers (Harry Spendiff characterized one of them as ‘a real bastard’). Still, Douglas made some good friends in the army, many of whom he tried to stay in contact with after the war. And he had fun writing poems for his mates. These lines describe the reaction of the unit’s brass on hearing Europe had been invaded on D-Day:

Our Colonel one morning, his headquarters in Bucks,

Had heard talk of invasion, amphibious ducks,

His game of golf was near its end,

Invasion! he thought, ‘For my majors I’ll send. . . . ‘Immediate action!’ the Colonel decreed,

Three months later the idea gathered speed.

When Douglas’s unit, S.C.U.4, arrived in Belgium on 19 January 1945, the Germans’ last major attack, the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ had failed. Then the massive Allied sweeps across the Rhine into Germany began. After crossing the Rhine in late March, Field Marshal Montgomery (to whose Second Army S.C.U.4 was attached), proceeded to mop up enemy forces in north-west Germany. The Germans surrendered to Montgomery on 4 May. About the middle of June, Special Communications Unit 4 was ordered to follow the Allied advance into Germany. Henceforth they were based at Bad- Zalsuflen, a spa not far from Montgomery’s headquarters between Hanover and Osnabruck. Two months later Douglas managed a short leave to England to celebrate VJ-Day and the wedding of his sister, Yvonne.

When Douglas returned home from Germany to be discharged from the army in the summer of 1946, he had served two years and 285 days in England, Belgium and Germany. He received this testimonial, extant in the Public Records Office:

Military conduct exemplary. This N.C.O. has been with the unit since enlistment. He has always carried out his duties in a highly intelligent manner and is a popular member of the unit. He is honest and can be trusted in any position.

Until his death Douglas kept a small red address book with the names of most of the men in S.C.U.4. Some of them, such as Harry Spendiff who returned to his police job in Newcastle- on-Tyne and Tudor Jones who went back to Wales to join a small business, he never forgot.

Nor did he ever forget the fascinating intricacies of his work in intelligence. The intense search for the right signal and the appropriate frequency, the discipline required to ignore or discard all irrelevant distractions in the search for the assigned objective, required attention, stillness and concen­tration. This search demanded patience and, in the face of failure, perseverance. This experience provided Douglas Main with his most striking images for describing the inner search. This is how he drew from his experience in S.C.U.4 to portray an aspect of meditation:

In a previous incarnation … I served in the Counter Intelligence Service and one of the jobs that I had to do was to locate radio stations operated by the enemy. And so we would tune in our receivers to them, but the enemy were very clever and if they were operating that day on a frequency of ninety metres, at eighty-nine metres they would send out a jamming wave, a jamming signal, and at ninety-one they would send out another. So, in order to tune in exactly on their station you had to have an extremely fine tuning on your own radio. But we liked to think that we were just as clever as the enemy and so, when we found out the frequencies that they were broadcasting on, we took quartz crystals and then we would plug in the crystal to our receiver. Our receiver would then pick up their signal absolutely spot on, and none of the jamming devices interfered with it.

He went on to describe how the meditator, like the signaller, required a clear frequency so as to be ‘absolutely spot on’. But he was only to realize the full significance of these wartime experiences in another time and another place.

For the rest of the summer of 1946, Douglas, now for all practical purposes discharged from the army, helped his parents move from London to Belfast where David Main had been transferred by Western Union. Then Douglas enjoyed a trip through southern Ireland visiting the family and friends he had missed during the War.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

May 23, 2017

Resolution Blessing

by

Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Let our breath be gentle wind,

Let our ears be of those who listen,

Let our hearts be not ones

that rage so quickly and

Thus blow dramatically,

And useless.

Let our spirits attend and be

Most diligent to the soft

Yet desperate whisper of

Hope and peace for our world.

Let our souls be those

Which watch for the Lord,

Waiting with wonder and want.

Let our eyes be attentive

With interest and respect,

Let our minds be committed

To health and happiness,

Let our hands join

In helpful resolution

To being our best person,

Praying and playing and

Passing through moments

Of pain or memory-

Makers of pleasure

Touching the future, together.

Mattie’s poem is a shy reminder of our self-worth and potential as we shrive for a more beautiful future.  The music is appreciable, beautiful and engaging.

What’s on your mind? Victoria Day, Dollard Day or Empire Day and much much more

May 22, 2017

What’s on your mind? on Exchange. Discussion of various subjects, including Montreal and Ottawa conference of the United Church and the ordination of homosexuals.


https://neilmckentyweblog2.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/whats-on-your-mind.mp3

BLAST FROM THE PAST!

May 18, 2017

Here is Neil on the other side of the microphone taking part with another guest for a program discussing  »learning in retirement ».

Haven’t lost his touch!!

 

 »Montreal AM Live » Originally broadcast on 01/28/93