ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: PROBUS Pickering Club Annual Picnic…a smash again !

 

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For the second year in a row, our two resident marvels, Melanie Hancock and Shirlie Van Putten, orchestrated a fabulous picnic. They ordered Mother Nature to deliver perfect weather. They got it, not too hot, not humid, cool breezes off Lake Ontario and lots of sunshine.

Next, they began the festivities with some ice breaker games: bean bag tossing, lawn scrabble and the classic charades. Charades !!! Heavens, how many of us hadn’t played charades in decades unless it was raining cats and dogs up at the cottage. But Melanie had all the participants, about 50 of them, playing with the intensity of exuberant church mice at a cheese factory market sale ! A more zealous group of players would be hard to find.

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Ron Perks strutted his bean bag prowess for all of us to acknowledge… he missed the board every shot he took, but laughed it all off with, “I still score on great looks, and a svelte physique.” Gail blushed accordingly.

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Housekeeping boss Ulf barely restrained himself in checking that everyone was enjoying the good eats. Ulf repeatedly pointed out that Mel and Shirlie learned a lot from him but that he really had nothing to do with the presentation of the great picnic endeavour.

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New member, Glen Fraser commented to his wife, Beth, “Man, this PROBUS Pickering Club knows how to put on an informal do, dont they !”

Beth replied, “Grmbl dgickl mrmbld and thsh ish shure delishush…I agreeeble.” Hard to pay compliments clearly when one is nibbling away at the goodies!

So, we all wound down with full tummies and happy grins! Melanie and Shirlie…we thank you a whole bunch for giving us another great picnic. You ladies are marvellous !!!

 

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & NEWS: The richness of the PROBUS Pickering Club

 

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PROBUS Pickering Club has grown to more than 150 members in two short years, each member a special flower, a unique individual, enriching our club as a whole. Each brings something special to the club, something maybe not obvious, not very noticeable or not very clearly displayed. But each one brings something that makes our club richer, a real treasury of special people. It is a privilege and and honour to be a sponsored member of this wonderful ‘people garden.’

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The membership is comprised of a wide variety of personalities, each gifted, talented, skilled, and special making all of us better people by our association with them.

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There are the socializing listeners who listen to other members, hearing their stories, their laments, their complaints, as well as their successes and their life victories. These listerners encourage everyone they listen to giving support and motivation to enjoy life more fully.

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There are the socializing chatters who share experiences, travel anecdotes, dining experiences, and advisory tidbits on how to do this or do that. They give useful advice, share beneficial experiences with the intention of improving life for everyone from hearing these tales and life experiences.

There are the socializing travellers , the local region travelers, the more adventurous globe trotters who travel to the far reaches the earth. The locals have nearby experiences, the farther afield travelers have global experiences. All of them have ‘big’ stories, ‘big’ adventures and ‘big’ experiences from which all of us can learn much.

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There are the socializing charismatics, the members who have an aura of attraction about them. They are personalities who glow, who attract people to bask in the sunshine of their persona. Watch at coffee time, a crowd gathers around them as they beam out their charismatic bliss.

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There are the giftedpeople who have a talent and develop and use that talent to enhance the world around them, the painters, the quilters, the crafts person, the gardeners, the writers, the artists, the composers, the singers, the dancers. These people have been blessed with a kernel of genius, of skill, of capability and they have developed the kernel to a level where today they are admired as being outstanding in their area of expertise.

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Each month beginning in August, one member of PROBUS Pickering Club will be highlighted in my blog. In this way, all our club members will be able to enjoy and experience the richness and human wealth our club possesses. I am confident you will enjoy reading about these club members.

 

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: Terry Reardon, non-fiction author of Churchill and King examination

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Speaker Coordinator Sue Porter welcomes PROBUS speaker

Welcome Terry Reardon !

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Winston Churchill became England’s Prime Minister almost by fluke as Lord Halifax who was in line to get the position, felt he was not up to the challenges and pressures of the job during this war. Churchill proved he was!

Terry Reardon took five years to research and write his book about Prime Ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King and Winston Spencer Churchill. Five years to polish and hone a golden ingot of historical narration. He demonstrates Churchill’s pride and determination led the great nation to the ultimate victory. “Some chicken; some neck,” the famous words spoken right here in Canada.

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Reardon’s narrative sings praises and gives both Prime Ministers the recognition and honour they deserve in leading their respective countries during these years of combat. A number of the Probus members reminisced momentarily over their own war time days.

Mackenzie King is shown as being more than a government leader during a war. He was a reformed changing labour laws to improve working conditions for some of the governments civil servants. Churchill worked on pension and welfare reform for his nation.

But both men will always be recognized for their incredibly staunch and strong leadership when it sorely needed by the two closely tied nations.

Members queried Reardon on his research, his editors and the variety of his research sources. Like most modern authors, Reardon consulted with the Internet for some of his material and acknowledged this readily.

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Past president Frank Green thanked Speaker Terry Reardon

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & NEWS: PROBUS meetings: energetic get togethers

June 24th meeting, an old time revival of joy !

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Guests Glen and Beth Fraser

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Excuse me, whatya mean “TWINS!!!”

I am not a guest

“No, no, I’m a member already…honest !”

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You just have to come out to one of these PROBUS meetings. We jump for joy! We reach for the sky! We welcome sponsored guests! About the only thing we don’t do is sing and dance, but wait for it. They’re bound to happen sooner than later.

VP Melanie Hancock started the meeting off with some energy inducing exercises and everyone participated with enthusiasm and laughter. You should have seen Ron Perks, moves like he hasn’t made in 20 years! Marlene Briere brought out all her yoga moves! Lynda-Lee Harding showed her stuff with energy! Pauline Sampson ignored the aches and pains and moved it. Trish Stephens and Barbara Twiner were convenors of motion ! Past pres Frank Green shook his booty right next to wife Carrie! Gail Perks was a girl of gyration. Fran Sancroft and hubby Joe moved with the best of them! Barry Neil showed he could do it too. Even Don and Jan Voorhees proved they were movers and shakers! Mary Lou Simmons and Maureen Marquardt proved the executives could be big time shakers and movers too! Sharon Steacy shook up the coffee urn ! Bill Thomson recalled old time moves! Eleanor Witmore move for hubby who couldnt attend. Even Jim Hare took a swing at some great moves. There were so many members movin and shakin, remembering each one is too challenging.

That VP proved that motion is really lotion for all of us…so folks keep on movin !!!

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: East Shore Community Centre LOCATION

PICKERING CITY FACILITIES CENTRES 2

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: Alzheimer’s Society presents….

DIMENTIA Workshops

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: Probus SOCIAL EVENTS Planner: JUL, AUG, SEP

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BOOKS: DEAD WAKE

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By Erik Larson

Erik Larson has written numerous books based on historical events or well known people: The Devil in White City (Chicago world’s fair, 1893), In the Garden of Beasts (Berlin, 1933), Isaac’s Storm (Galveston, 1900), Thunderstruck (Europe, 1900) among his very best.

If reading historical tales embellished with interesting people, gripping dialogue and exciting events, Larson is you author. Each of his books develops the story behind the headlines with incredible research, captivating narration and superb plot development. His stories never lag; his protagonists always intrigue; his descriptions ceaselessly captivate. Larson is the master of the historical novel. He turns every historical event about which he writes into an intriguing and captivating story.

Dead Wake may be the epitome of Larson’s work. Unquestionably, it is a superbly written story which will entertain, educate and excite anyone who has heard of the Lusitania.

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The Lusitania sailed out of New York May 1, 1915. She was the elite ship of the Cunard Lines, the ‘greyhound’ capably of outrunning any other ship of the time. This trip’s passenger list was lengthy, but very notably, it included a record number of children and infants among the nearly 2000 people. Germany had just recently posted a maritime warning that neutral ships might be attacked if they navigated war zone waters. The Germans believed that these neutral ships often carried military supplies, especially if they were bound for British ports. Less than ten percent of the passengers were American. The majority were British.

Larson’s story ranges across many logical and expected topics.

He talks about the ship itself; its size; its outstanding features; its embarkation and its opulence. One is reminded of the Titanic and it is a suitable comparison though this ship was more opulent. The Titanic’s fame rested on its advanced technology, that it was ‘unsinkable.’

Larson’s story unfolds like the steps of a dance, step and counter step; the Lusitania; the Uboat 20; Captain Turner, Kplt. Schwieger, the opulence of the Cunard liner, the dingy, frightening squashed encapsulation of the uboat.

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Cpt. Turner

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Kplt. Schwieger

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Commander Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Atlantic crossing at near record speed has a romantic tone to it with descriptions of the passengers, how they dined, how they were pampered and cared for by the crew members specially trained to be attune to the desires and wishes of corporate elite and upper class people.

As the ship nears the Ireland, headed for Liverpool in the North Channel, suspense builds. Larson develops the suspense with his ‘behind-the-scenes’ descriptions of Room 40, the secret department created by Britain to intercept and decode German naval communiques. The well-known Winston Churchill is introduced a one of the commanders in charge of the department’s operation. He is coloured as being ruthless, cold and dedicated to victory at all costs. ‘Damn the torpedoes!’

Larson evokes more tension to his story by short stories about other ships being destroyed. The British Admiralty’s command to all military vessels ordering them to not come to the rescue of any attacked vessel is particularly ominous for it meant the Lusitania, once she had been attacked, was on her own. She sank in a record 18 minutes. Nearly a 1000 passengers died.

A very intriguing and plausible subplot is that there could have been a conspiracy to sink the Lusitania to bring about the entry of the United States into the war. Larson introduces the idea but really doesn’t pursue it much. Yet, a cynical or suspicious reader, a believer in conspiracies might easily be attracted to the idea, especially as the British Admiralty withheld the facts about the sinking to safeguard the secrecy of Room 40.

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Kplt. Schwieger logged only ONE torpedo. The British did not correct the inaccuracy because they wanted to safeguard the secrecy of the decoding department.

The tale of this renowned maritime disaster doesn’t end with the ship’s sinking. It continues with the aftermath, the burials, follow ups of the lives of some of the survivors. However, the sadness of the story is highlighted and developed throughout the entire book.

The title, “Dead Wake” is the name mariners and naval combatants used to describe the white trail of foamy water that follows a ship as it travels in the ocean. It also was the name given to the similar white tail caused by a periscope of a submarine as it stalks its naval prey.

The Good

Larson is a master writer, without reservation. He is a maestro with the written word, creating the appropriate phrase, ending the paragraph perfectly. He leaves the reader wanting more and more. One can imagine his audience like concert goers, shouting “Bravo! Bravo! Encore! Encore!” throughout his story.

Additionally, one is hard pressed to find another non-fictional writer whose research goes deeper than Larson. His research depth is stunning: bibliographies, personal letters, corporate and naval communications, historical documents, movies and even the internet. His research not only includes historical sources but current, modern day ones too such as ‘uboat.net’ on the internet. Again, he spares no energy in digging into the story behind the story.

The book has an appendix and a very useful index to assist the reader in referring back to particular aspects of the story. The appendix has interesting excerpts in it which Larson felt would not enhance the story and so he rejected their inclusion in the story proper. Yet, he felt they were worth making note of in the appendix. Very respectful of his readership to not overload the story with endless trivial minutiae.

The Bad

The book ends. This enthralling story, written superbly and edited and polished by a professional who seems very dedicated to writing the best story he can, is captivating and entertain from the first paragraph to the last. The disappointment comes that the story ends. It somewhat like attending a buffet with the finest prepared foods possible and being too full to not eat more.

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The Last Word

If you are a fan of history novels with romance, excitement, suspense and tension, Dead Wake is a must.

Read it !

Post expires on Monday February 23rd, 2015 12:30pm

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Pett Crk BOOK CLUB: The Confabulist

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By Steven Galloway

The Confabulist is a story of a man who is said to have killed Harry Houdini, twice no less. There is a saga or legend about Houdini being punched unexpectedly in the abdomen, the blow so severe it may have ruptured his appendix. In real life, such a set of blows to his abdomen did occur and Houdini did eventually die of acute appendicitis but the protagonist of the book is not listed as the guilty party.

Galloway’s tale intertwines the lives of Harry Houdini and Martin Strauss, a nondescript, average citizen whose love story is part of the book’s tapestry.

Houdini’s story here is based on real life anecdotes and known historical events. He did travel to Europe escaping from jails, straitjackets and handcuffs while being closely monitored and studied by the police of various European capitals. He did travel to Russia, performing for the Romanovs, the rulers of the country. The Russian facets of the story has some validity though it is somewhat tainted by writer’s license. No where does history or newspaper stories corroborate that Houdini was involved in espionage.

Houdini was a big name in Vaudeville at the time of WW I but acting as a spy…a stretch.

Strauss, the other leading character of the book seems to come out of nowhere, sounds like a none descript and seems less than vital to the story. He is the protagonist who punches Houdini near the beginning of the story evidently killing him with the said burst appendicitis. Strauss’ story continues with Strauss being hospitalized for some kind of memory/mental disorder which plagues him intermittently through the years in which the book is set.

The numerous espionage plots woven into the story are plausible as the story’s setting is during the days of World War I and the decade thereafter. It was a time when the United States was trying to avoid entry into the war and was working hard to keep Russia in it. Germany fighting a two front war, no matter how weak the Russian one might be, meant the Americans could still maintain their neutrality and not engage in actual combat. According to Galloway, Houdini was the espionage conduit between the Russian and the American governments. Fact is that Houdini did visit the various European countries and Russia as Galloway writes, but no one has ever confirmed that he was doing espionage for the Americans.

The book lagged

When Galloway reveals how Houdini’s tricks were performed, explaining the inner works of handcuffs and door locks, the book lags. These intricacies and explanations do not enhance the story at all, though a magician or a technologically minded reader might find interest there.

The story also can be criticized for the convoluted and puzzling line of the narrative, bouncing from Strauss’s romance, to his hospitalization and an explanation of his memory malady. This might appeal to the medically minded, few others.

The book interests

The story is more interesting when it deals with Houdini’s escapades and efforts at exposing the fraudulent practices of the Spiritualists of the era. As much as Houdini longed to contact his departed mother on the other side, he never believed it was really possible and he undertook a lifelong effort to expose the spiritualists of the time as charlatans and frauds who faked their séances only to exploit the gullible, the desperate or the depressed. Some executives in the American government, well known congressmen and senators, were believers and bought into the charlatans’ fakery. Houdini felt it was wrong for government policy to be swayed by such frauds and so he worked diligently to expose them as fakes. Galloway suggests that these government bigwigs may have plotted to kill Houdini in order to protect the lucrative trade of spiritualism. Were they on the take? Galloway never says, never suggests it. Disappointingly, the reader never really learns about the story behind the story in this regard.

Houdini according to Galloway lived an immoral life dotted with frequent infidelity. To Galloway’s credit, he does not really dwell on that aspect of Houdini’s life.

The final word

The book is short and an easy read. It is arguably entertaining but not enough to warrant the high praise which it seems to have garnered on many best read/seller lists. The author is credited with having written other books which have received high praise, but in my view this book does not deserve the same.

I would not read it again and I have am not certain I would read another book written by Steven Galloway. Rather than being a polished and excellent writer, he is a very good but developing one. He needs to polish and hone his craft more. I think he needs to examine his works to see if they flow like a stream or trickling brook. This book does not; it is more like small eddies disrupting the stream in its smooth flow. Strauss, Houdini, magic, spiritualism, espionage, all little eddies in the stream of The Confabulist. But this book’s story does demonstrate real potential for excellence.

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GARDEN: Another bloomin great tour ! Oshawa Botanical Gardens

As always the PROBUS  Garden Club managed to find fair weather and fun!

On Monday we visited the Oshawa Botanical Gardens and enjoyed the wonderful display of peonies – so many varieties and combination of colours it was quite unbelievable.  The OBG is maintained by enthusiastic volunteers and I would recommend as well worth a visit at any time of the year.

From the OBG we continued our garden tour to visit one of our members gardens where we enjoyed a picnic lunch and animated garden conversation. Seeing is believing and Jill’s panoramic garden certainly wowed everyone. This garden has only been in existence since last August. Every gardener can appreciate the huge amount of dedication and work this garden entailed. Well done Jill – PROBUS – her first garden tour!

the ladies of the tour

Tourers: Maureen, Jill, Shirley, Judy and Ursula 

Our visit to the Oshawa Botanical Gardens to see the fantastic peony gardens.
peonies 3  statue in the garden simply peonies

The tour also included a visit to Jill’s garden in Oshawa, where we had our picnic lunch, which simply wowed everyone!

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Maureen and Jill are speechless admiring the peonies.
 It is so nice that Mother Nature is giving us weather that is great for gardens, gardeners and garden touring.
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Join us for our next tour…contact Convenor Trish details!

 

Trish Stephens

Ph:  905-831-4485

Email:  p.stephens@rogers.com

 

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NEWSLETTERS...past issues: JUNE 2015 issue

06 Probus Newsletter FormatJune2015

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: “ICE ” your cell for an EMERGENCY situation!

 

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Steadily this is becoming a standard procedure paramedics follow at the scene of an accident when they come across your cell phone.

ICE – ‘In Case of Emergency’

We all carry our mobile phones with stored names & numbers but often no one knows which of these numbers belongs to our closest family or friends.

If we were involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our cell phone but wouldn’t know who to call. Which number should they contact in case of an emergency? Hence this ‘ICE’ (In Case of Emergency) campaign.

The concept of ‘ICE’ is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by more and more people. All you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name ‘ICE’ (In Case of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were cell phones with patients, but they didn’t know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose.

In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital staff can quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as ‘ICE.

For more than one contact name simply enter ‘ICE1’, ‘ICE2’ and ‘ICE3’ etc.

Next time you have a coffee with a friend or family member, explain the idea of ‘ICE your cell’ so that more and more people secure themselves for emergency situations.

Let’s spread the concept to ICE your cell.

 

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EVERYTHING ZOOMER: ESTATE INFORMATION RETURN

 

FOLLOWUP RELATING TO THE ESTATE INFORMATION RETURN

At the May meeting of the PROBUS EXECUTIVE, I informed the executives about the change to the ESTATE LAW in Ontario. After conferring with my MPP, Tracy McCharles, I can only add the following to what I know.

The law has been modified in such a way that penalties are more easily incurred if the estate executors do not abide by the regulations with care and with documentation.

PENALTY EXAMPLES
Fines of $1000 and up to twice the tax payable by the estate or imprisonment of not more than two years can be incurred.

SUBMISSION TIMELINES
The most important factor is that the time lines have been severely reduced so all necessary documentation must be submitted with 90 days.

Not only have these time lines been severely shortened but executors are also responsible for correcting any errors which they might file with the necessary corrections to be completed within another short period of time. Corrections must be submitted within 30 days.

Furthermore, the estate information and the tax payment equivalent must be submitted at the time of filing, even though the taxes may not be collected till later.

MY OPINION
I have tried reading the act and the reform. Not only do I see it as a cash grab by the provincial government; they want money upfront even if they do not call it a tax at the time of collection, but I also see this as some sort of collaboration with the law society. You will not get any assistance from the government in interpreting any aspect of this new law. They will simply advise you to go to a lawyer. Try it and see.

To see this law or obtain copies, use the link below and note the two PDF FILES, one of which is for online data entry, the other is to print a hard copy of the law:

Click HERE to automatically display the GOVT SITE for the ESTATE INFORMATION RETURN

You are welcome to contact me if you have any questions, though I doubt I can supplement any more than I have said above.

I am currently working on another comprehensive project to assist seniors:

1. Doing an estate inventory and a
2. Guide to assist spouses (mates, families) with preparation as to what needs doing at the time of the passing away of someone in the family.

Watch my blog for updates regarding this project or contact me by email if you wish electronic copies of these two comprehensive documents which will not be ready and available until early fall.

Regards,

Richard

 

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GARDEN: News from the GARDEN CLUB

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The Garden Tour of May 30 was a great success. Ten of us visited Marion’s garden, which was pretty amazing. Everyone was totally stunned by the layout and plant material. Luckily the rain did not start until we reached the Black Dog at 1:00. However, the torrential downpour wrecked my tree peonies which had just opened in my own garden.

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Unlike some of the PROBUS clubs we take a winter break, but it’s all systems go during the summer months for us. Our next exciting trip will be to the Oshawa Peony Festival (herbaceous peonies bloom after the tree peonies) as well as a visit to one of our member’s amazing gardens on June 15th. We plan to have a picnic lunch in her garden.

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Stay posted for more updates.

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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: Probus Spring – Summer club activities at a glance

Spring – Summer PROBUS ACTIVITIES at a glance

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