Rights and Responsibilities

Remembrance Day has just passed; the day to remember why so many young men and women were willing to give their lives to defend our allies, to preserve our way of life, and to preserve our democracy. I really wish our citizens would think about these things from September on, especially during those years when municipal elections take place. So here is my rant about the latest city election. Please know this isn’t about me, it’s about an alarming trend across Canada.

First let’s look at what your municipal government (council) does. It provides local services, facilities, safety, infrastructure, libraries, parks, community water systems, local roadways and parking. Really this list just touches on the basics, there is much more done and your councillors are the ones who are easiest to reach when you need help with city issues. Council makes the final decisions on how your taxes will be used.

So my question is, why are municipal elections virtually ignored by the vast majority of the people eligible to vote in a city?  My city had a whopping 24.26 percent voter turnout. One quarter of the residents have decided who will lead, or setback, the city’s progress. Do folks not care how their tax dollars are spent or how their city is represented? Councillors are the politician’s who are closest to the populace. They make the everyday decisions about whether or not your neighbourhood park gets new, safe playground equipment, if the city bandshell is safe for entertainers, if a pier is insured so you can fish.

I’ve heard so many excuses for not voting, most are just ridiculous. Here are a few: -politicians are all a bunch of crooks. No we aren’t. I don’t lie, cheat or steal and neither do the people I worked with on council.                                                                                          -I thought you’d win anyway. Really? It’s harder to win without the votes.                       -The poll was too far from my house – It’s guaranteed that any candidate or a member of their team, would have driven you to the poll and back home again. We want people to vote!

All that said, what can we do to encourage residents to get out and vote? That is the big question. Some folks complain that they didn’t hear from or see a certain candidate. To that I say that it’s difficult to knock on every door. We did actually have two candidates who did just that and I have to tell you, both were very good candidates and neither got elected. There goes that excuse. Candidates are very accessible, there are info cards, lawn signs, lapel buttons, names, addresses and phone numbers are posted on the city website or available by calling the clerks’ office. We don’t all have access to your phone numbers unless a list with those numbers is made available through a political party or a realtor list.

To help voters, our city had six advance polls, in apartments of over one hundred eligible voters, special polls were held in the building lobbies. Nursing homes and seniors’ residences had special polls. On election day the polling stations were open for ten hours. Are there other things the city can do?

All these efforts are for nothing though, if people don’t go out and vote. So my conclusion is this. The residents of a city have to take some responsibility too. Take an interest in what your community has to offer. Our city offers the opportunity for folks to participate in consultations on just about all major projects and the budget. It’s important to get involved! I am a firm believer that it boils down to education. Formal or informal, it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see school groups tour city hall, what better way for those grade five or six students to get an awareness of civics. Continue that with the grade ten students forced to study civics for a half a credit. Encourage councillors and staff to visit schools to tell the teens about the importance of municipal government. They just might go home and have that discussion with their parents. Take the time to email your minister of education to tell the government to expand civics courses in high school.  Encourage your current or past councillors  to get out to service clubs, colleges, and universities, special interest groups, and new Canadians and talk about the importance of voting. I don’t think these things have to wait for an election year, we don’t get too much of a break between elections anyway.

We have to tell everyone why they need to vote. People need to know it is a Responsibility as well as a Right and they must know why. Complacency will cause our democratic system to deteriorate to a point of no return.

-m –Oh I thought you’d win anyway. Really

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Fun Times; Day Trip

It’s been quite a while since my last day trip. So long in fact, that I can’t remember it. A very good friend and I decided to take a day to ourselves and went off to explore an area a little northeast of here. There is a purpose in the jaunts we take. We scout out the various shops in small towns and villages and if we like what we see, we’ll come back, a little closer to Christmas, to shop more seriously.

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We decided, on this particular day, to head up to Alderville, through there to some smaller villages and then over to Campbellford, our ultimate destination. I decided to forego the Tom-Tom mapping thingy for our car but I did google the directions the night before. Found out that google does not have complete directions. It missed a road and added another. But the route makes for a beautiful drive, in spite of a heavy mist and we could still appreciate the autumn colours. Still in full display, I think they’re just hitting their peak. Beautiful golds and vibrant reds but guess what? I forgot to bring my camera and I realize blogging is not like riding a bike, sometimes you forget things that are important for making a blog more interesting, like a camera.

Since between google and I, the route was fairly easy, we only got lost twice. I am not averse to asking for directions and we stopped at a small auto repair place and the second time at the post office. People in small towns are so helpful and friendly that we couldn’t go wrong. Alderville is a native reserve, there are some gift shops that warrant a second look but also a number of natural “medicine” shops. We passed through many little villages, Roseneath, Hastings, we accidentally went through Warkworth. But we made it to our final destination without major issues.

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Campbellford itself is a fantastic small town! There are many interesting, attractive  small shops in the downtown. We didn’t have time to stop at them but for sure we will on our next visit. We headed directly to our first planned shopping excursion at the World’s Finest Chocolate Store. Who could resist such a place? They sell factory seconds, chocolate that may come out a little misshapen but tastes just fine as well as beautifully finished product. I of course picked up a few samples, as well as a few things for stocking stuffers. Tasty Christmas indeed!

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Next on the list of go-to’s is the Empire Cheese Factory, about ten kilometres south of town. Wow, just wow. We love cheese and this is all locally produced. They have many different types, many with chilis or jalopenos added, some with a boost of garlic even.  I got extra old cheddar, medium marble and some caramelized onion cheese. As well I picked up some special jelly, also locally produced, for the hubby’s Christmas stocking. My friend picked her cheese types and she included curds. With so many types of cheese, jams, jellies and syrup to choose from, I can say that we will be visiting again before Christmas!

Exploring the surrounding countryside is just so much fun when you do it with a friend who doesn’t mind getting lost, or having a very late lunch. We just have a ton of fun together and these little side trips are just a part of our friendship.

Here I Go Again

 

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For the last eighteen months, I have been serving my city as a local councillor. Yes I am retired from my career as a registered nurse, but still keeping busy. My hubby and I had just sold our Florida mobile home when I got a phone call asking if I would be interested in serving as a councillor. I had lost the 2014 election, love my city and enjoy the give and take of politics, so of course I said yes. I really enjoyed that stint and decided to run in the election of 2018. Sadly I did not win this one either, so I am grateful for the experience of the last year and a half.

Now I am in the process of cleaning out my office in city hall, it amazes me how much paper and paraphernalia I have accumulated, but I have just three file drawers to do and I’m clear. I will continue to go into the office until the end of the month when the new council is sworn in, there are still questions to answer and residents to help. I do believe I have done a good job during my tenure but now it’s time to look forward.

So I ask myself what will I do now? I believe its important to keep our brains active as well as our bodies, so I am writing again. Starting with this blog and maybe, one day, a novel. I’ll try the crafty thing again, though I’m not very good at it. I’d like to have a little home business that doesn’t involve booking parties or selling to my friends and family. We have just moved to a rather large home with our two sons and for half of every month, two grandchildren are here. This will be interesting.

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One benefit is that we are opening boxes we’ve stored for four years. I’ve already sold a couple of things on the local buy and sell site. Hmm maybe this is a business in the making. It won’t make a ton of money but it could be fun and turn a wee profit. I guess that’s one thing to do and judging from the number of boxes, it’ll keep me busy this winter. I discovered some sterling silver pieces that came from my mother and grandmothers, that are quite tarnished. It will take a few days to clean those up and see what they are and if they are worth keeping. We’ve already asked our boys and their wives if they want any of our stuff and got the predicted “no thanks” so I’ll see if I want anything.

I’m going to volunteer with the local Crime Stoppers group and have started knitting scarves for the needy program here. I already have a day trip planned with a friend for next week. If we enjoy ourselves, I’ll write about it. Heck, I’ll write about it even if we don’t enjoy ourselves. And of course we have the Christmas prepping starting soon. I think my days will be pretty busy.

As the saying goes, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

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It’s a New Life

Once again I am apologizing for not blogging as frequently as I promised. I actually made a New Year’s resolution to blog weekly and, as with most resolutions, that one got broken too. I did have a good reason though and you’re going to hear all about it.

I retired from nursing six years ago. The work was becoming hard physically and mentally I felt it really wasn’t as challenging as it could be. I needed something different. I thought I would relax, do some writing, study the use of crystals in health and healing, maybe travel a little, further explore my interest in politics. I did run for political office, unsuccessfully but that was okay. The hubby and I had always wanted, we thought, to spend our winters in a warm place and of course be home the rest of the year. We did travel to Great Britain and had a fabulous trip. We bought a mobile home in Florida and a trailer in Ontario, did some sight seeing, golfing, learned shuffleboard, played cards, all the things snowbirds do, but things change.

We really weren’t satisfied with that lifestyle. When you have worked all your adult life, it’s very hard to make the switch. We missed our sons and their families. The grandchildren were growing up and we weren’t there to see it happen for half the year. Other than being warm all winter, the Florida lifestyle was not for us. Nor was the trailer life we envisioned having here in Ontario. I missed having my “things” around me, I missed my family, and I missed my friends. So we sold our mobile home in Florida and our trailer in Ontario and got ourselves a nice little apartment, easy to care for and once again I have what I need and want at hand. But as I said, things change.

We sold our Florida place in mid-February with the new owners taking possession on March fifteenth. Just after the sale but before we came home we heard that one of our council members had passed away unexpectedly. As I said, I had run unsuccessfully in the city election, three were elected and I came in fourth so I wasn’t sure if her passing would have any effect on me. I got a phone call a few days later from a private citizen to ask if I still lived in the city. Then after a few more days, I received a call asking that, if the city council decided to appoint someone for the last eighteen months of the term and if I was nominated, would I accept the appointment. Since I had long wanted to serve my city and it’s residents, the answer was an easy one for me. I said yes and was subsequently appointed about five days after returning from Florida.

Whew and that’s how I got to this point in my retirement. Things change and I have a whole new life happening right now. I love it! I am working again but I’m not physically exhausted. I’m using my brain, my listening skills, my public speaking skills, what I hope are my people skills. I am a bit obsessive-compulsive at work. I like a clean desk at the end of the day, accomplished not by just putting everything away but by answering the messages & solving the problems. I am trying to make my city just a little bit better and am thoroughly enjoying this new life.

 

 

Exploring Our Little Space

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Greetings

One of the best things about owning our little mobile home in Florida is having good friends come to visit. They force us out of the inevitable rut we get into as a couple who are sometimes too used to our own company. This year we were happy to show off the part of Florida we stayed in and as a result found, and saw, an area we didn’t even know existed so close to the city. It’s called the Circle B Bar Reserve and is a wildlife preserve that’s free to visit and just beautiful. It’s situated on Lake Hancock, home to one of the densest alligator populations in Florida.

 

The name comes from a cattle ranch that was originally on the property and now belongs to the state and has been naturalized. There are twelve hundred acres of land with a three and a half mile hiking trail that lets a happy wanderer get as close as is safe to the bird, reptile and animal habitats. No dogs allowed, they make a great meal for sunning alligators, and small children should be kept close to their guardians. A nature discovery centre tells all you should learn about the various species you will see and there are signs along the paths that give information as well. Near the centre there are picnic shelters and grills for public use. We visited in early March, a recommended time if you want to avoid insects, and a good time to hear the mating calls of alligators and birds.

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Just a few of the hundreds

We started our walk on the Heron Hideout where we spotted hundreds of herons, white, great blue, green. Yes there are green herons, they are smaller and are distinguishable by their greenish, yellow legs. Two types of ibis, the regular white, with the long orange beaks and also a shiny, brown ibis and snowy egrets were common. My favourite bird was the roseate spoon bill; also a wading bird that has a bright orangey pink stripe on its wing. You can’t see his distinct shaped bill here, but the stripe is unmistakeable.

 

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Roseate spoonbill

 

My friend really wanted to see alligators so the next part of the hike was down Alligator Alley. It’s a shadier walk where oak trees dripping in Spanish moss overhang the path. You can see the alligator slides, depressions in the banks beside the water, where ‘gators that have crossed the trail from one side to the other, slide down into the water. There was a report that an eighteen footer lived here but the longest spotted by our group was about eight or nine feet. It is said that the length from between the alligator’s eyes to the tip of the snout is a tenth of his length, but darn it, we forgot to bring our tape measure so we really couldn’t verify this statement.

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He’s waiting for supper

 

We arrived later in the afternoon, so couldn’t really meander further but on our way out of the park< I was excited to spot an armadillo! It was his suppertime too and we watched him trot across the road and start digging at the soft dirt, hunting out some tasty insect morsels. They are much smaller than I thought and really quite cute in spite of the leathery looking armour.

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Such an industrious guy

That was an exciting side trip for our vacationing friends and for us too! I really want to visit there again to see more wildlife in a natural habitat but next time I’ll take a better camera and give myself a whole day to explore!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Old is New Again!

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Here’s a question – do you have an address book? And if so, do you keep it up to date? I mean a physical book that you write in with a pen or pencil. Years ago I had an address book that I tried to keep up to date. Of course that was back when we wrote letters, addressed the envelopes, put a stamp on them and physically put those things in the mailbox. I also sent Christmas cards every year to about fifty people. I am old enough to remember when the cost of stamps was actually a few cents cheaper during the holiday mailing season, of course that no longer holds true. It could be frustrating if people moved and changed their address and phone number, then I ended up with a very messy little book but at least I still had all those important contacts still at my finger tips.

When we got our first computer, I diligently copied all those names and their information into the ‘contacts’ tab area. So exciting to have a computer and feel pretty darned important that I was wired in to the future. I was still writing letters and sending cards but those names and addresses were very well organized on my computer.  Email was next and I added all the email addresses to my contact lists. I no longer wrote long letters by hand, I could send quick snippets to all my friends just to tell them what was happening. The downside to email is huge in my opinion. Spelling took a hit as the computer corrected mispelled words, it didn’t do much for grammer but there you go. I also didn’t send pictures to people I wrote to, they had to rely on my descriptions. Remember it was quite a while before digital cameras caught up with the technology and pictures just didn’t get sent anymore. But I digress.

Our first computer quickly became obsolete so we had to upgrade and I, once again, meticulously entered all my contacts. I adjusted the new addresses folks had sent when they moved and wrote letters and sent cards, but fewer and fewer of both. Then the unthinkable happened – the computer crashed! Eek!! All those names and addresses were lost. By this time I had thrown away my old, hand written book and no way could I remember all the names and information it contained. I had to email friends and relatives and ask for their infomation and that of mutual acquaintances ao I could update my list. Of course not everyone responded and I lost contact with too many people because I just didn’t have any information. We are on our third or fourth computer and I live in fear of losing my remaining list.

My solution? At the dollar store the other day I picked up a new address book. It has space for cell phone numbers and email addresses as well as the usual slots to put in names and street addresses. I have started to fill it, writing names in pen and information that can change in pencil. Generally I’ll use black ink, but there are so many choices that I may vary that. Pink for my female friends, green for male, red for relatives, you get the drift.  I feel really good that I will always be able to contact my friends and relatives. I do have a lot of updating to do but, unless this little book gets lost somewhere in the house, I’ll always have the names and addresses available. Everything old id new again. Isn’t progress wonderful!

I’m Sorry

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I promised to write a blog a week and boy did I fall off that wagon; but extenuating circumstances, some personal issues and my own tendency to procrastinate were responsible. I am sorry. If you have read my previous blogs, you would be aware that the hubby and I bought a mobile home in Florida and I intended to write this winter’s posts about our ongoing work to make our winter home pretty and more to our taste. Things changed.

My blog was never intended to be political but somehow politics crept into how we feel about being in the US this year. Last winter, we were able to have some interesting conversations about the politics here. We asked questions about the system, the candidates, about the party policies. We got answers, some little arguments but nothing terrible. This year there was no conversation about the winning side. None, zero, nada. Strange; any attempt at introducing the subject was ignored. Folks here were content to just go on in their little world they didn’t want to explain how they voted or why. We Canadians are inquisitive and always willing to have a good debate but no one in our little circle here wanted to talk about political choices. That’s okay we could have other conversation.

Our park was active, quite a few activities, pot luck dinners, day trips, that type of thing. This year there was very little of that. Shuffleboard and cards still went on, if that’s what we want to do. We could play darts once a week but there were no movie nights, no pot luck dinners. There are only one hundred ten spots here so it is smaller than most and I discovered that’s not really a good thing. As in high school, the residents seem to be divided into a couple of cliques. I haven’t had to deal with that for many, many, many years and frankly neither I, nor the hubby, want to deal with that nonsense.

I injured my foot last year and it’s still not healed properly so I was stuck in the trailer or on the lanai for most of the time. The hubby was able to join a golf league and the participate in shuffleboard at the local senior’s centre. I get to read to my heart’s content, write and study my crystals. Each month we pay a land lease fee to the owner of the park. Everyone does but we pay over a twelve month period and we only use the park and trailer for three months so adding up the cost in pitiful Canadian dollars plus the exhorbitant cost of travel medical insurance, we decided to sell our mobile home. It makes sense and we can still travel and rent here if we decide we want to visit, get away from winter, and it would be much more cost effective. Posted on Craigslist, it only took five days to get an offer, meet the lovely couple, and receive a down payment.  I’m sure they’ll really enjoy it.

So there you have it, our tale of the mobile home experience. I’m sorry I haven’t been writing much lately but expect that will change this spring.