Tuesday, 26 July 2016


From all the misty morning air, there comes a summer sound, a murmur as of waters from skies, and trees, and ground. The birds, they sing upon the wing, the pigeons bill and coo. Richard Watson Gilder.

Just as smells can transport me instantly to a different time and place, sounds have that same impact, especially the sounds of summer.

Sailors would most likely mention the lapping of water on their hull while at anchor, the screech of seagulls overhead or the clank of unsecured halyards against the mast as they blow in the wind.  For golfers, it may be the resonating whack of a ball on the club face or the sweet plop of a successful putt dropping into a hole. A dear friend nostalgically speaks of how the echoing call of a loon transports her back to childhood days at the family's Muskoka cottage. We all enjoy our favourite sounds of summer.

An itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini. Oh, and then there are the songs of summer for different generations. Here Comes Summer by Cliff Richard, the Beachboys' Little Deuce Coupe, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines or this summer's Justin Timberlake hit, Can't Stop The Feeling. My husband, Jim, is once again a teenager with new driver's licence in hand, every time he hears, Surfing U.S.A.

So aside from ambient temperature, blindfolded, what sounds would immediately signal to me that it is summertime?

The dawn chorus of bird songs and calls celebrating a new summer's morn. How I love that musical cacophony! Shhhhh-tik-tik-tik. The sound of a sprinkler system watering a lawn or golf course. The distinctive buzzing and clicking of cicadas transports me immediately to the hot summer days of my youth. Slap! Slap! Slap! Many may be irritated by what they refer to as noise, but the repetitive smack of flip flops is a universal sound of summer. And who can resist the splash of water accompanied by children's laughter? It's summer at the lake or pool. Ah, and then the clink of ice cubes in a glass. Be it lemonade, iced tea or an alcoholic beverage, those noisy cubes speak to me of lazy summer days or evenings.

Summertime.......music to my ears. Sigh! What are your sounds of summer?

Friday, 15 July 2016


Dear Mr. Bush,

In the Folio Section of the Globe & Mail today, in an article titled, Excuses, excuses: Who is bailing from the convention?, I read with interest that you will not be attending the GOP Convention and the crowning of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President of the United States. I get that; I wouldn't wish to be part of that farce either. But you then went on to state that you won't vote for either presidential candidate in November. Want to spin me out? Just tell me you are not exercising your precious right to vote.

Really, Mr. Bush? And you held yourself out as a presidential hopeful? As an example of a fine American citizen?

Please tell me how you can, in good conscience, rationalize that with the hundreds of thousands of Amercian military personnel who have died defending American freedoms and the right to vote? And you felt qualified to be Commander in Chief?

Let me remind you, in case you have forgotten, that your brother's efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect America freedoms, resulted in a staggering 6,884 military casualties.  Are both of you now refusing to vote?

Getting the youth vote involved and out on election days has proven difficult in many democracies. What kind of example are you setting for young U.S. voters? Just stamp your spoiled little feet, whine that you don't like either candidate and relinquish your precious right to vote. Such stellar behaviour for a potential presidential nominee!

Your vote is private; no one has the right to know whose name you checked off, what political party you chose. So may I suggest, Mr. Bush that you choose the least worst candidate. Between the Liar and the Disaster, decide who has the potential to do the least damage to your beloved democracy, then 'suck it up princess', and exercise your precious right to vote.

An Unimpressed Canadian

Sunday, 3 July 2016


The issue of the Brexit referendum still confuses and upsets me.

1000's at 'March For Europe' Brexit Protest,
the BBC reported yesterday as pro-Remain marchers along with citizens now regretting their Leave vote amassed in front of the British Parliament. 

Political Science 101: Government representatives in a democracy are elected to make determinations on behalf of the population. In fact, the very raison d'ĂȘtre of parliamentarians is to make decisions for their citizenry on difficult-to-understand, multi-layered issues. So why, I ask, would David Cameron so irresponsibly put such a complex issue to a public referendum, an issue that would have far reaching implications for the financial markets, the value of the pound sterling, British access to EU free trade markets and and the future of Great Britain?

As with most referenda, the campaign was exceedingly divisive playing on Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia, simple issues carrying a huge emotional punch. Make no mistake, a large proportion of Leave voters had little to no understanding of potential damaging economic repercussions; their vote was solely based on anti-immigration sentiment. Witness the massive number of Google searches by British citizens on the day following the narrow Brexit win.....

....or the number of post Brexit-vote interviews in which the now distressed voters whined that they had only wanted to make a point. Dear God! A little late, don't you think?

It is not the final Leave vote that perplexes me. I sadly understand how that happened. What baffles me is that Prime Minister Cameron, in an effort to keep the peace between the anti- and pro-European wings duking it out within the Tory party and so cynically disregarding concerns for his electorate, gambled the future of Great Britain by putting this complex issue to referendum. He gambled; Great Britain may have lost.

Friday, 1 July 2016


As Jim and I finalize our September travel plans, that question has been asked of us at least a dozen times. 

In light of the heartbreaking tragedies in Paris, Brussels and now, Turkey, I understand the origin of the concerns, but have to smile and wonder. Did anyone ask this of my friends, Melissa who travelled with her family to Israel last summer, Lynne or Steve and Pam before their African adventures, or Ruth who has just returned from the Maldives and Sri Lanka? This is just Italy we talking about, folks!

Yes, I understand that The U.S. Government has placed a travel alert on Europe with danger levels as indicated in the following map,

but isn't there danger around every corner?  Last week, while sitting in a Toronto park enjoying a sunny summer day, a man was killed by a falling tree branch. A family driving home from a fun day at Canada's Wonderland died in a horrific car accident on Highway 400. Are there any guarantees in our life?

No, I am not worried and yes, Jim and I will continue to travel. Every travel experience has enriched our lives immeasurably and increased our understanding of the world around us. We always return to Canada with endless gratitude for our home country, but also with the realization that we Canadians have much to learn from the lifestyle enjoyed in other nations.

The travel industry is crucial to the economies of so many countries. If the potential of terrorism by ISIL or other crazies results in a significant reduction in travel, economic hardship could ensue and ISIL has won. We refuse to hand them that victory.

And so, bella Italia, here we come.

Funny thing, ironic actually, no one has ever asked us whether we are worried when we travel to the U.S. where 30 people die daily, victims of gun violence!