ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: No miscues by billiard club convenor

Convenor Don helps Potts pot another one !

Probus Pickering has a number of successful clubs, successes because of the efforts or their hard working convenors. Many of the clubs struggled to develop membership in the first few months after being established. Now, each of them is blossoming into vibrant, strong and well participated entities…thanks to those convenors.

The Billiard Club is an example of such, but by no means not the only example of a club which started off slowly but has built up a strong and vibrant membership now. At the most recent meeting, Convenor Don had the most participants ever, three tables had heated competitors. He even managed to attract PROBUS members from Durham PROBUS DURHAM.

Hats off to Don who continues to encourage everyone to come out to play. Don is strongly encouraging of women’s participation. In the past, billiards was seen as a male’s game but Don has taken away the gender labelling with a number of female participants. Dolores Forster and Nancy Colbourne seem to be real stalwarts but a new female player joined the ranks at the last meeting, Elizabth Potts.


Bill Roihe from PROBUS DURHAM demonstrated his great table skills!

And then there were the serious participants of which Doug Hines and Richard Szpin seemed to be the most serious. Convenor Don showed his astuteness as convenor by letting these two serious and determined players square off on their own in the billiard ball battle. Doug won !!




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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: Bucket list results


A month ago, PROBUS members were surveyed in regard to items on their bucket list.

Here is the summary of the survey.

1. Want to travel
Travel destinations include:
Tennessee, Galapagos, Russia, Alaska, Italy and Panama

2.  Travel means:2015-04-20_10h16_22

cruises seem to be the travel means of choice

3. Surprise omissions:
Most people must be in good health as it never hit the bucket list


4. Surprise inclusions:
“Family” trips, events, celebrations come up repeatedly


5. Surprise unique choices:
Dogsledding, pilgrimage walk, Serangetti safari, Lunch with Putin, Merkel and Obama


6. Closest to my heart:
condo in Naples
dance at grandsons’ weddings
meet more of family
see the Grand Canyon

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7. Countries to visit most selected:
Russia, Italy

My final word…
There were some touching things on people’s lists such as “family” being specifically listed repeatedly. People wanting to travel to Russia…well, that may be a non-possible destination so as the world finds Russia’s international relations becoming less and less tolerable.

My bucket list seems to vary a lot. Travel keeps getting demoted on the list as travel by any means is becoming more and more dangerous, travel destinations are less safe and the Canadian dollars continual descent in value is escalating travel costs exorbitantly.

Thank you everyone for your submissions. It was fun to read what you have as important items on your bucket lists. As importantly, it is gratifying to see so many respondents to my web site.


Wishing you all great success in getting things done on your bucket list,



CPR Training: Completed … here’s the REVIEW


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MEETINGS: Women may still have a long road to reach equality

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Julie Oakes entertained the PROBUS PICKERING members by channeling the early 20th century women’s rights leaders Nellie McClung, Laetitia Youmans, Emily Stowe, Gertrude Harding, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Elizabeth Anderson.

Additionally, she had Dr. Julie Ogden of Murdoch mystery fame visit which added to the atmosphere of the suffragette movement in Canada. Women weren’t even consider as persons in those days, being listed by their husband’s first name rather than their own in official documents. This was still being done in Canada as late as the 1960’s, hard to believe.

Ms. Oakes was very entertaining in her portrayal of temperance league representatives who were lashing out against demon rum and ghoulish gin. She had the members singing rondelles sung by the tea totallers of the era denigrating the evils of booze.

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We may have come a long way but Ms. Oakes only hinted at how far we have to go to reach our destination of full gender equality.

Consider these interesting points from our modern world of today:

Sexual harassment charges have been laid against TWO Ottawa mp’s, TWO!!!
Ex-SENATOR Braseau charged with abuse and violence against his spouse (mate).
There are more than 4000, yes, 4000 plus, rapes in India annually.
Women guilty of infidelity and extramarital sex are stoned to death in Afghanistan.
A woman in Afghanistan had acid thrown in her face for attending school.
Rape victims in Canada’s north may have a male RCMP officer present at examinations.
The RCMP has at least 4 cases of sexual harassment presently before the courts.
Remember the Sheila Copps and John Crosby altercation in parliament.
Women cannot be priests in some religions which preach human equality.
The massacre of the women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytech in 1989.

This isn’t a rant. It’s merely a reminder as inspired by Julie Oakes presentation that women have been the vanguard for many changes like voting rights, property ownership status, promotion in many companies and much, much more and yet watch the nightly news to see at least one misogynistic story every night. Gender equality? Human rights violations? You draw your own conclusions.

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Ms. Oakes described how women leaders of the Temperance League, the suffragette movement and public demonstrations for gender equality and recognition were the revolutionary vanguard for many changes which have advance women’s social, economic and political positions in our modern society. But we haven’t reached our destination yet. In fact, though we have have come a long way, a major question lingers…

Why does the ultimate destination seem to always move further away as we approach it?

President Chuck Simmons thanks Julie Oakes for her presentation.


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RANTS: CBC…why must I pay for such lousy service?


CBC is our national broadcaster. That means every Canadian citizen is paying for the service through taxes. So we have a right to say something about the service and I intend to. I want to complain.


Inferior broadcasting
If you cannot fill the hour with news rather than talk show fillers, then cut the newscast in half. I am tired of all those panels, business panel, political panel, medical panel…ever hear of just giving us the news!

And then the newscasters
Where did you find these schlocky amateurs, almost to a person, from Wendy Mesley who cannot stand in front of the camera without rotating a prop of papers in her hand to distract the viewer to Mike Wise who is still trying to learn how to read a teleprompter correctly. Aren’t these newscasters supposed to be professionals? Aren’t they professionally trained? Are they above reviewing the news reports they are about to read before going on the air? Mansbridge at least has learned to read the news by being a very professional news reporter and it shows. Why not use him to train the others!

Ads galore
OK, commercials pay the freight but who is in charge of marketing the network? Or are there no takers…which may be the problem. How many times do we have to see ads for the CBC network, ads for its own shows, ads for Rick Mercer? Ads for the National? Give us a break….no, not the CBC, It’s relentless push and promo of itself…sell to revenue making companies…don’t leech your own coffers. But perhaps Ford, Mazda, Nissan, GM, etc., etc., see the network as a loser…and do not want to place ads on it for that reason. Can you blame them, lame as they are !

This is just the start….


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NEWSLETTERS...past issues: MAR 2015 Newsletter

Probus Newsletter March 2015

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APPS: PROBUS Activities Calendar at a Glance


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UPCOMING EVENTS / ACTIVITIES: Volunteer Fair at V!VA Residence, April 16


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BOOKS: The Thirteenth Tale…a bad luck story !


“Relative garbage; waste of time to read; trash!”

My first reactions but as I forced myself to read more, the book became more and more intriguing. About the 100 page mark roughly, the book began to draw me in.

My early reaction

A piece of junk: grandiose, pedantic, pedestrian, over-reaching.

Even after thirty pages, it was a tedious read. I found no interest in some story about a dead twin. I am imposing my views on grief as I am passed mourning loved ones who were close, a naïve response though, for unless one is a hermit, the grim reaper will appear at everyone’s door repeatedly until finally your door receives the fatal knock.

The flaw of the book

The book bounces from narration to narration; first, the bookshop owner’s daughter, Margaret, begins telling her story; then, Ms. Winter leads the narrative; next the story slides into narration by Winter’s family members, then switches to characters from her youth. It becomes a never ending challenge to tease out who is telling whose story.

Just as one becomes engaged in one of the narratives, the author switches narrative horses recounting or resuming another tale. Very disconcerting for the reader’s attention.

The author’s style is too esoteric

The author arguably sees herself as a great wordsmith, tossing off blotches of verbal colour all over her grandiose canvas. But like Jackson Pollock paintings, there is no clear concentration on one subject, no single focus. More a smattering of colourful splashes which are to be taken as a whole and that may be where I am off in my review. Perhaps the book should be taken in a similar way, as a whole and not a collection of disparate stories threaded together by the bookshop clerk, Margaret.

The story

Margaret Lea is invited to meet with a renowned writer, Vida Winters, who wishes to contract her to write her biography. We learn explanatory details about Winter, her illness, her reasons for choosing Lea to do the transcription and writing as the book’s story develops. her troubled life.

There are numerous secondary stories which are the chapters of Winter’s life. She describes her life and the childhood of ‘the twins,’ one beneficent, the other, malevolent and reinforces their personas with anecdotes from their young lives. Winter’s narrative includes other stories, other characters who play roles in and around the twins’ lives: the gardener, the near blind, almost deaf old housekeeper, the new guardian, the neighbor who is an abandoned child, the local doctor and his wife. Some of the stories are emotionally touching, others fraught with suspense and intrigue, their descriptions literary gems as the author, Diane Setterfield, does have excellent literary skills. Where she lacks is in knowing when to terminate her elaborative descriptions. Too often, the elaborateness and undue length of the description tests a reader’s attention span and literary patience.

The ending

Setterfield does one of the better jobs I have read in closing her story. She ties up loose ends and does it in a slow, thoughtful, and thorough manner. There is no rush to the end. The reader is done good service with proper closure to every little story bringing each to a logical and satisfactory end.

My bottom line

I would not recommend this book but I have so reservations in saying that, I could be re-interpreted as giving the book a “bare recommendation.”

Why I will not recommend the book:

  • Too confusing in its narrative
  • Too pedantic in its descriptions
  • Unnecessary literary “flights of fancy”
  • Unnecessary length to narrative descriptions
  • Basic story lacks attraction or drawing power
  • Boring tale

It’s a ghost story without the fright!

Available at the PICKERING PUBLIC Library


Posted in BOOKS, Pett Crk BK CLUB NEWS & ARCHIVES, Pett Crk BOOK CLUB, PICKERING PUBLIC Library, PRBS BK CLB MEMBERS, REVIEWS (books), RICHARD'S READS, Richard's Reviews | Leave a comment

NEWS FOR SENIORS: Pickering Public Library pours Pilsners !!

Picture this: a tipsy Santa look- alike wearing lederhosen, lurching a bit leeward saying, “I’m a beer taster!”

No way!

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Mirella Amato is today’s beer taster: young, attractive, articulate and an entrepreneur. She owns her own company, has written an award winning book about beer, and manages a beer related web site. Add to this, she does tasting engagements such as the one held at the Pickering Public library recently.

Looks aren’t everything; with Amato, they’re icing on the cake. What a cake! Loaded with knowledge and expertise, the icing is topped by a trained palette that can distinguish a lager from an ale as quickly as a youngster can discern between chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

On a polar frigid Thursday night, far from conducive to whetting beer tasting taste buds, this professional beer taster delivered the goods, seven different beers for library patron participants to taste.


Sponsored by the Pickering Public Library, the presentation was an unexpected surprise. Who would have thought the local library pouring beers for patrons! Who would have thought the local library sponsoring a beer tasting event! But it did and enough of beer was poured so that you got a real taste; three ounces each, enough for multiple tastes, a good thing because Amato’s explanations called for tasting and re-tasting, guided by her well-travelled expertise.

A Master Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide, Mirella is a sensory evaluation specialist whose goal is to broaden people’s awareness and knowledge of locally produced beers. Beer has long passed its decades old stereotypical image. Remember the slender draft glasses served in those grubby pubs of old, eye-tearing, smoke smells emanating from the walls and floors, grimy tables eluding the look of cleanliness after years of beer glass rings and ashtrays with their cigarette stubs. Today’s professional beer taster sitting in such a pub would be as alien as a Martian sitting at a table with Rob Ford, Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.


Beer has climbed to new heights of acceptability and sophistication. Palette education is a must. A Mirella Amato presentation is ideal. Her library presentation was the smallest sip from the gigantic keg brewed by local producers:

  • Side Launch Brewing
  • Mill Street Brewery
  • Black Oak Brewery
  • Lake of Bays Brewing Co.
  • Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
  • Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
  • Cameron’s Brewing Co.

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To get the most taste and pleasure from your beer, Mirella advises:

  1. Your beer should not be too cold; cellar cold, not fridge cold.
  2. Pour the beer into a glass to release its aroma and let the CO2 escape
  3. Relax, sniff, and sip at the outset as the beer releases its flavor

Mirella Amato was time pressed with her allotted hour and half. Yet justice was done not only by her comprehensive presentation but also by the appropriately sized servings of the beer tastings.

For more information from Mirella Amato’s fountain of beer knowledge consider buying her award winning book, “Beerology.” Also, visit her website at




PICKERING PUBLIC LIBRARY is a publicly funded institution serving all citizens of the City of Pickering.

Adhering to its philosophy of “inspire, connect, educate,” the library serves its municipal clientele well in this regard:


inspiring with an almost infinite fount of resources ranging from books and magazines to DVD movies and CD music;



connecting patrons to a variety of destinations across the entire globe, via current and up to date written materials, internet connectivity with the newest of computers and


and finally educating through classroom lectures and hands on workshops taught by skilled and knowledgeable personnel as well as having invited experts giving presentations relating to their fields of expertise.



PICKERING PUBLIC LIBRARY is not your old fashioned, staid library of old. It is a new, state of the art source of information and entertainment.



  • Browse the library via its comprehensive web site at
  • Bring your laptop or your phone in and talk with knowledgeable library staff who speak English rather than jargonese and who can advise your about your technological problems or put you on a path to a solution.
  • Join a club or a social group and make new friends, new contacts who will enrich your life even more.
  • Visit the library to recharge your own cerebral batteries, put some spring in your step and boost your inner soul with the spark of the energies of the young people who roam the ever dwindling stacks or sit at the ever growing number of computer terminals.

Fitness, seasonal programs, book clubs, kids and grandkids activities, social groups, free movie afternoon for you and your kids or your grandkids and much more: your library is alive and kicking in the heart of Pickering. (Pssst…there are branches but the central library has it all!

 Visit our new CATEGORY:  Pickering Public Lib and see the latest events which I attended at there. 

PICKERING PUBLIC LIBRARY, a great place to visit and it’s free !!



SCRABBLE: SCRABBLE on board !! New club launches successfully!


Scrabble Club hits the ground running !

Thanks to Convenor Mary Leigh, the new SCRABBLE Club was launched March 5 with 10 PROBUS members attending, some with their own boards even, ready to play. And play they did.


I sat a table with Norine Findlay, Pauline Sampson and Mary Leigh herself…and they made mush out of me. I was trounced by double the score, by Mary and Pauline. Where did those two find those words from? Norine challenged me for the bottom position but thank goodness I survived. I now can empathize with some of the Euchre players who strike card game lows over at Brian’s endeavour over at the Ajax Library.

In any case, 10 members attended the first ever meeting of the SCRABBLE Club and we say great to see you come out and support our club endeavours folks !


Thanks to Judy, Fran, Joe, Vikki, Anita, Erma, Norine, Pauline, Richard and of course, Convenor MARY !

Scheduled meeting dates at the moment are: 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at 1pm. Watch for confirmation in the newslettter!

Bavo Mary and Bravo all you Scrabble participants !!!


Activities coordinator



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CARP Ajax Pickering: CARP SEMINAR: Ageism in the Workplace, Pickering Library, Mar.11, 7pm



ENRICHED LIVES: What’s on your Bucket List?


Have you put a few things down on a list

of what you would like to do before you pass away?

Sky dive?

Fly a plane?

Scuba dive the Great Coral Reef?

Dance with the Stars on TV?

Dine at the world’s finest restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen?

Travel to Moscow? Singapore? Bali?

Dine at the White House?

Drink champagne with Angela Merkel? Star in a movie?

What’s on your list?

Write me your top three Bucket List items.

At the end of March, I will post a summary of the top ten Bucket List items from our fellow members at PROBUS Pickering.

Write your TOP THREE bucket list items in a list form below: (All replies will remain anonymous)

* indicates required field