Monday, 30 November 2015


For Morgan and Zachary (as promised):

He could hear the sniffling from somewhere below him, sniffling interspersed with heart breaking whimpers. He knew it was Caramel, but couldn't see her.

Caramel? Is that you?

Oh, Butterscotch, are you still there? I'm buried down here. No one will find me, Butterscotch. I'll never know love, will I?

Be strong, my friend. It's Christmastime. Miracles happen.

Caramel's tearful sobs broke Butterscotch's heart. How could he encourage her? Their journey had been a long one, from the cold, impersonal factory, to the sardine-like existence in their shipping box, to being unceremoniously dumped into this store display bin. Cramped together in their shipping box for the endless journey by sea, rail, and truck, Caramel and Butterscotch had struck up a friendship, giddy in their mutual excitement about what life would be like when they were adopted. Everyone knows that a stuffed animal only truly comes alive when hugged and loved. But now here they were, once again uncomfortable, now in a tangled mass at Canadian Tire. Who buys bears at Canadian Tire, anyways? Butterscotch wondered.

Butterscotch had landed atop the mass of intertwined legs and arms, but poor Caramel had become separated from him, lying deep down at the bottom of the pile. She was right to worry; who would ever find her there? She needed a Christmas miracle.

As the store opened for another day, Butterscotch began to despair when suddenly a large set of arms reached into the bin and gently picked him up. The man's warm smile gave Butterscotch hope for the first time.

Oh Grampa, can I have him? Please! Warm young arms immediately circled him and hugged tightly. 

Caramel, I'm leaving, Butterscotch quickly whispered. He was ecstatic and sad at the same time. Ecstatic that this young man, Zachary, was now hugging him, sad that his friend Caramel, still at the bottom of the pile, might never know love.

Bye Butterscotch, Caramel choked back her sobs. She was now truly alone. Sadness enveloped her.

But what was this? She could hear voices and feel tangled arms and legs being moved from a over her.

Morgan, what are you after? Caramel heard.

Grampa, I see some brown ears down here. I just need to reach them.

No sooner were these words uttered when Caramel could feel herself being dragged from the bottom of the pile by her ears and then found herself being snuggled by a beautiful young girl.

It's a stuffed puppy dog, Grampa. Can I take her home?

Caramel could barely believe her good fortune. Oh, how wonderful it felt to be wanted. She caught a glimpse of her friend, Butterscotch, being hugged by a handsome young man. Oh, how relieved she was that her friend, too, would find hugs and love. Imagine her delight when she discovered herself in the same car with Butterscotch as they headed home.......together.

Christmas is a time of miracles, whispered Butterscotch.

And love is the greatest miracle of all, sighed Caramel.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

The burning of a mosque in Peterborough; the brutal attack on an innocent Muslim mother en route to picking her child up at school; vitriolic comments about refugees on Facebook from 'friends' and strangers alike. Send all the refugees back, read far too many comments. To what? This? I ask:

Since when as Canadians do we paint the followers of a specific religion with the same brush? To blame ALL Muslims for the slaughter in Paris or the demented ideology of ISIS is insanity. Shades of Nazi Germany? Dear God, I wish I were an ostrich right now; I could simply bury my head in sand and ignore the burgeoning racism.

Our neighbours in Thornhill for five years were a Sunni family from Iran. Did we struggle to find common ground? You bet. Souhalia wore a hijab and body-hiding long loose dresses, wouldn't shake hands with Jim, and struggled with English. Ibrahim, to my total frustration, addressed all comments to me through Jim. Over time, we learned to respect each other for our differences and a friendship of sorts ensued. I admit that it was not an easy transition, but they were simply a hard working family in search of a better life in Canada for their two daughters. Ibrahim and Souhalia even visited us after our move to Uxbridge during the Christmas season bearing gifts. Unbelievable!

Five years of teaching real estate courses for the Ontario Real Estate Association brought me into contact with an amazing cross section of recent immigrants. I not so fondly remember the Pakistani man who sat at the back of my classroom, arms crossed and refusing to make eye or verbal contact with me for two endlessly long weeks of instruction. He complained to the powers that be at OREA about having a "female" instructor. Welcome to Canada, was their response. Thank you OREA. That said, I met fine students from Iran, Syria, Israel, India, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, Russia....the list is endless. Many times my heart soared with pleasure watching students from warring backgrounds, Israeli and Iranian, Indian and Pakistani not only working together on projects, but laughing and eating together in the cafeteria. Only in Canada, I remember remarking to Jim.

It is a small wonder we are currently in shock. As a nation, we have undergone a seismic shift from a Prime Minister who played on our fears of all that is different to one who wants to welcome 25,000 refugees before 2016. Add to that the recent Paris attacks and our insecurities, fears, and sadly, discriminatory tendencies have come to the fore. But Canada is better than this.

Why should we take them? Just leave them in the refugee camps and donate money to feed them. How many times have I read this insensitive comment? Think of your child or grandchild, growing up, never knowing a permanent home or country, sentenced to this:

To send the message to these Muslim refugees that we don't want them is to yield to terrorism by suspending what I thought were our Canadian values. This is exactly what ISIS is hoping for - a disenfranchised Muslim world. Like a putrid petri dish breeding germs, the hopelessness of life in permanent refugee camps will breed the very terrorists we so fear. Ripe fields for ISIS recruiters. Let's just hand them victory now.

Do I relish the thought of opening our doors to the issues and cost involved with 25,000 refugees? Not really. Will the adjustment prove difficult for Canada and the Muslims granted entry? Absolutely. Is it fraught with inherent danger? Of course. I can only pray that it is families we invite in, that rigorous vetting takes place and that the laws of our country are emphasized. Too many, too soon? Perhaps, but many of these families have been surviving in Jordanian and Turkish refugee camps for over a year. How do you define too soon? Why then should Canada even be involved? This is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. In my mind, it would be immoral to turn a blind eye to such suffering.

In 1939, a ship carrying 907 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and seeking sanctuary in Canada, was refused entry. Ultimately the ship was forced to return to Europe where 254 of those refugees would later die in concentration camps. Oh my God!  I cry to think of Canada's then lack of compassion. Never do I want my grandchildren to look back on our country's response today and cringe at our inhumanity.

To those who have stated that they did not vote for Trudeau and therefore will opt out of even minimal acceptance, your understanding of democracy is sadly misguided. May I suggest Political Science 101 for you or perhaps emigration to some benevolent dictatorship. We are in this together. Like it or not, this is OUR government, OUR country.

Little Peterborough has set a true example of Canadian spirit. After the arson and burning of a local mosque, ordinary citizens raised over $101,000 for necessary repairs. The Beth Israel Synagogue reached out with a helping hand, offering its support and facilities as a temporary place for worship. Why am I not surprised that the Jewish population in Peterborough was sensitive to the plight of their Muslim neighbours?

No doubt, difficult times lie ahead for us all. So I ask you, do we meet this with bigotry, vitriolic language and outright hated or do we meet this humanitarian challenge together as a country of pioneers, peacekeepers and compassionate human beings?

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Completely exhausted, my head fell on the pillow last night as I asked myself, Why so tired? 

Sadness overwhelmed our Friday afternoon as Jim and I attended a Memorial Service for Bob Luery. From the moment Bob, a Newmarket Real Estate Broker, joined my office, I knew that I was in the presence of a genuinely good and kind human being. Bob's identity came not from his award winning sales career, but from his involvement with his family and church. Christian missions took Bob to El Salvador, Nicaragua, Swaziland and Siberia. I still marvel at how he found time to mix church and community service, family priorities and highly successful real estate with such ease and grace. On October 15th, Bob was moving his sailboat, so aptly named Therapy, from Jackson's Point to Lagoon City for winter storage, when a vicious Lake Simcoe storm blew up. Therapy was later found floundering on the rocky shore without it's skipper. Despite the involvement of York Region Police, its marine unit, the O.P.P. and Trenton's Search and Rescue crews, Bob's body has yet to be found. His wife, Elaine, has been informed that Bob's body will likely surface in the spring. My god! During the service, my heart physically ached with overwhelming pain and sadness; my mind silently screamed, Dear God, why this man? Why Bob?

Paris is a city of history, art, stunning architecture and welcoming grace. At nighttime, sparkling lights reflect in the Seine as it winds its way through town. Cafes are filled with chatting Parisians and tourists alike, savouring a glass of wine and Paris' atmosphere of pure magic! Last night carnage and violence at six locations, took over 127 lives and turned the City of Light into a city of darkness and terror. Anger and fury roiled up inside me. So many innocent lives taken. What of their families and loved ones? My heart and mind gave into the rage. If only I were a dragon who could breathe fire! My mind silently screamed, Dear God. Why Paris? Why again? 

A breaking news clip then suddenly jolted my brain from fury, soaring its emotions in the ecstasy of defiance as I witnessed thousands of soccer fans join in the singing of their national anthem as they were evacuated from the Stade de France. I was touched beyond belief by their collective spirit in the face of such naked hatred.

Britain's Prime Minister Cameron announced yesterday that a major symbol of brutality and ISIS' state executioner, Jihad John, was successfully targeted and killed by an American Reaper drone. Finally a major step has taken place in the war against the sophisticated social media operations of ISIS. Yes, I silently cheered. My mind was then invaded by the warring emotions of revengeful cheer and guilt at feeling such joy over the death of an enemy. 

Sadness, rage, ecstasy, cheer and guilt all in one day. Mental fatigue, I answered myself and I gave into sleep.

Sunday, 8 November 2015


Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling. Edna Ferber

I am an admitted Christmas-holic and proud of it. I over-decorate, over-shop, over-wrap and over-play Christmas music. Oh, did I mention my love of Christmas themed movies? This addiction, directly inherited from my Mother, who was equally obsessed with our December holiday, is thankfully shared by my husband. I hate to imagine our life together if it weren't. So pathetic am I that our son, Matthew, posted a t-shirt on Facebook that he thought would suit me:

Ha! Ha! Very amusing! If it weren't so appropriate, I could feign upset. 

All of this said, I am not exactly a huge fan of retail Christmas displays popping up immediately following Halloween and now egad, even before. It has always seemed too early. Can't we please have a few days of rest between ghoulish delights and cheery Christmas decorations?

Jim's personal rule has been no Christmas music until December 1st. As a family, we have indulged him on this, although Christopher, Matthew and I have irrefutable evidence that he breaks his own rule. What are those empty Christmas CD holders in his car all about anyways? Just askin'.

An increasingly vocal school of thought states that it would be more tasteful if retailers held off on the festive cheer until November 12th, the day following Remembrance Day. However, an equally growing voice of veterans argue that Christmas decorations and Remembrance Day are two separate issues; as veterans, they are not insulted by the early retail displays.

Like a reformed addict avoiding temptation, I annually decry the early Christmas displays and valiantly attempt to hold off being lured in by them. Not until the Santa Claus Parade, I order myself. But oh, those colourful decorations, the seasonal warmth and hummably familiar carols are ultimately my undoing. Well, how can a peek hurt me? I think.Then the Christmas spirit invades all of my senses and I am a goner again.

My name is Daphne Lockett; I am a Christmas-holic and yesterday I gave into my addiction......already!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


The nice part of living in a small town is that when you don't know what you are doing, some one else does.

Just over three years ago, Jim and I moved to Uxbridge. In other words, we "downsized" from an area of over five million to a town in the country of just over nineteen thousand. I understand some of our friends love and preference for life in the city. I truly get it. I'm just not so sure that they, in return, understand our move to a smaller town. Time and again, in genuinely puzzled tones, I am asked the question, Well, what do you DO? It's time, I guess, to settle those inquiring minds and explain exactly what Jim and I do DO.

Aw' shucks, where do I begin........

Up at the crack of 9:00am, with coffee cups in hand ( you do that in the city too, right?), we watch our bird feeders; we just sit back in our comfy ole rockers and enjoy the antics of squirrels and chipmunks alike as they attempt to steal bird seed. Those dern little critters sure are amusing. We could, and often do, watch them for hours.

Jim then checks garbage pails and recycling bins to ensure that Racco the Raccoon has not broken in. I, in the meantime, head to my computer. Uploads are rather slow, but what can you expect with a dial-up system? Ah well, who's in a hurry anyways? 

Dust on the main gravel road through town, is kicked up by horse hooves as the local kids ride to school. So choking is the dust that Jim and I generally wait until it settles before heading into Uxbridge around noon. Lunch at our local Hungry Heiffer is always a treat. Oh, and big news, they now have indoor plumbing. After chugging back a few beers, that's sure a relief!

Afternoons can be quite hectic. Jim often heads down to the general store to chew the fat with the boys. When they are not busy with existing clientele, I like to get my nails done at Polly's Beauty Emporium and Funeral Parlour. Let me tell you, that Polly has some artistic talent! For real excitement we head to our Roxy Theatre, built in an old quonset hut. Movies are projected onto the curved side walls and lines of wooden chairs offer loads of seating. The seating could be a tad more comfortable, but Jim is totally oblivious to the discomfort, when his favourite cowboy serials are being offered - Lash LaRue, The Lone Ranger, Pancho and the Cisco Kid. How much more afternoon fun could you possibly ask for?

Oh, questions about, Where do you shop? also abound. Hey, I 'kin git' into Newmarket and that Upper Canada Mall in twenty-five minutes. No sweat! Fact is though, my jeans, plaid blouses and running shoes have proven just fine for even the most formal of local occasions. Who needs that mall, anyways?

Dinner is served in front of the TV as we watch the news, on one of our three available channels, to find out what you city folk are up to!  Friday nights are a blast as we town folk drive up and down the Main Street honking our horns and waving at each other. So much community fun! For the remainder of the week, Jim and I head to bed early on accounta' cause those crack of 9:00am mornings come quickly!

Well, I must be off. Our pre-dinner entertainment in town is about commence - the rolling up of our sidewalks. Oh, stop my racing heart.