WEEK: NOV 21 – 28


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WEEK: NOV 14 – 21


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ACTIVITIES & SOCIAL EVENTS: PROBUS Christmas Luncheon, $36 pp

gift box

 Get your ticket to the
Annual PROBUS PICKERING Christmas Luncheon
at the meeting,
Wednesday, Nov. 26th 

santa skating

PROBUS PICKERING Christmas Luncheon

Friday, Dec. 12, noon

Westshore Community Centre, Balyly St., Pickering, $36 pp

Catered by Al Dente Restaurant

tree with gifts

Includes holiday punch, appetizers, special seasonal luncheon.

candy canes 01

This is the PROBUS seasonal social. Come out and enjoy the cash bar with your Probus friends. Chat over the great catered lunch and enjoy the beginning of the holiday season with this specially planned event.

Buy your tickets from Mel and Shirlee at the next Probus meeting.

Merry Christmas everyone,

church snowy

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MISC: For the VETS who needed some laughter

The Bagpiper
Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life. As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Nova Scotia back country.
As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions.
I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late.
I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played “Amazing Grace”, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head was hung low, my heart was full.
As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”
Apparently, I’m still lost….it’s a man thing.
This piece is posted with respect for the VETS who gave their lives for our freedom. I am certain there were many, many days when they each of them needed a little laughter in their lives and we thank them for allowing us to have it in ours. May they all rest in peace but with a bit of a smile too!
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MISC: A veteran died today

Painting is by Patrick LaMontagne whose works are more fully shown at his site at http://www.cartoonink.com/

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Joe has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
And very quiet sort of life.


He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
Though a Veteran died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some politician making a fragile promise
Sometimes exploiting his countryman?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?


The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And often a pension, too small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some politico,
With his ever-waffling stand?

Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran’s part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That some politicians often start.

If we cannot do him honour
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

vets monument 02

Peacekeepers Memorial Park, ANGUS, Ontario


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WEEK: NOV 7 – NOV 14 Events


Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, tasteless, odourless, and invisible. If you do not have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your residence, do so. Install the unit on the main floor, DO NOT INSTALL in the basement.


Snowflake Christmas Market, (Pickering Village United Church) 2pm-8pm
Vendors with homade baked goods, jams, condiments and more. A quilting section and baby boutique. Start Christmas shopping now!

Probus Billiards Club: Petrina’s in Ajax, 11am…first coffee on Don !!


DURHAM POTTERS Christmas Show and Sale 11am – 4pm
Kinsmen Heritage Centre, 120 Roberson Dr., Ajax,
Handcrafted clay creations, decorative, whimsical and functional pieces in porcelain, stoneware, raku and crystalline. Enjoy hot cider as you shop.


 Remembrance Day Parade & Service 

City Hall Esplanade, 10:45am


Petticoat Creek Library BOOK CLUB meeting, 7pm
BOOK: Shakespeare’s Bastard…

Check out Richard’s opinions at www.szpin.ca


Remembrance Day:
Take a moment to remember the veterans who sacrificed their lives for us.

Remembrance Day Parade & Service, Pickering City Hall Esplanade Park, 10:45am


Probus ST. JACOB’S Market Tour

NFL WK 10 games begin at 8:30pm


Time to start your Christmas shopping !!!

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BILLIARDS: Challenge Convenor DON at the game !

Billiards Time
Fri, Nov 7
Petrina’s (on Harwood, Ajax)

Only $4.00 for seniors from 11:AM to 6:PM. We usually are finished by 1:PM or 2:PM depending on our success at stick (cue)handling. first coffee is on me. 

Hope to see you all there.
Convenor Don
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Thoughts about the English Language according to George Carlin.gift box

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,.               but the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes;                    one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,.                   yet the plural of moose should never be meese;              you may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,           yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.



If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen ?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet ?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth ?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose;
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
but imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim !

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.

We take English for granted,
but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly,
boxing rings are square;
a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
Why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing,
grocers don’t groce & hammers don’t ham ?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that …
you can make amends but not one amend ?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them,
what do you call it ?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught ?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat ?


Sometimes I think all people who speak English
should be in an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play,
and play at a recital ?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship …
We have noses that run & feet that smell;
We park in a driveway & drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance & a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man & a wise guy are opposites ?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down;
in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing …


If Father is Pop …
How come Mother’s not Mop ?

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ENRICHED LIVES: Remembering The Freedom of Flanders Field & Beyond


Remembrance Day has great historical significance for all Canadians who are enjoying the freedom granted to us by the commitment of many Canadians who died in war. In World War I & II, many lives were lost and too few were spared to give an account of the pain and the harsh reality of war. Consequently, there is one specific historical account which is available to us based on a desperate plea of one man, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a soldier, physician and poet of the First World War, asking us to “remember” as he invites us on a warrior’s journey explaining what happens on the front line with these fallen soldiers as he explain to us in a riveting poem known as “In Flanders Field”.

Time stops

War has many faces but for prisoners of war they often wish for a sudden stop in their life’s clock because nothing could truly prepare these brave men and women for the harsh reality of war. Can you imagine the myriad of emotions experienced by POW’s when sudden death is not even an option? This is why we should remember the freedom of Flanders Field. Realistically, a soldier really doesn’t fight for his or her own freedom as much as he/she fights to bring comfort to those in the homeland. This act of bravery is comparable to a life insurance policy where the policy owner is really just a medium for contribution because it’s the survivors who will obtain the benefits. As their beneficiaries, we say to our fallen comrades and their families, we salute their life’s commitment and loyalty to their country.

Mental prisoners

For those who have survived the grip of sudden death with their life’s clock calibrating the measure of their lifespan, what sights, sounds and determination gripped their mortal bodies as they physically depart from that place where they died emotionally. Many of our heroes never recover from their mental prison which often catapults them to engage in different survival modes. Some often seek ways to numb the pain of living. For these soldiers the war may be over physically, but mentally the battle was never hotter.

As we remember these brave individuals, we do so by giving recognition to them because their life clocks stopped suddenly resulting in the greatest loss to their family and to our society. We also will continue to remember the pain of the families who are also prisoners mentally, holding on to the last memory of a son or daughter who bid their last goodbye with a warm embrace fearing the worst and hoping for the best.


Escape by death

It is unfortunate for many of these families this last goodbye was forever. Though there is a harsh reality that war could result in death, a soldier who is deployed, armed with a heart of hope, is not wishing to die but hoping for “a door of escape” but instead is faced with nothing but bloodshed and death. On that day when family members get their visitation informing them of the death of a loved one, there is a deep pain in the heart of some parents, spouses, children and family members wishing they had physically died along with these men and women in uniform.

Igniting ‘hope’

Healing from this pain is not inevitable so while many struggle with the numbness of what seem to be an unending battle they simply ask us, the recipient of the life and sacrifices of those who died for the cause to “please remember.” Today it is not business as usual, rather it is the day when Canadians choose to recognize what we all have in common, which is “many of our promised politicians, doctors and engineers died in battle to pay for our freedom”. So in saying thanks we need to let the light of “hope” remain ignited in our hearts by remembering their ultimate sacrifice. They paid with their only real commodity (their lives) and indirectly they also surrendered the lives of their families who are left behind to count the cost.


The cost of freedom paid

In Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem he charged us to remember, when he wrote these words of conviction in paragraph three of the “In Flanders Field” poem,  ‘The torch be yours to hold it high, if ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.‘ On November 11th, let us Canadians tip our hats and hearts of gratitude to those who died too soon and those who lived to mourn their fallen comrades for a gift undeserved, but hold dearly the freedom it offers. This day In Flanders Field deeply embedded in the soil is the blood stain of many of our fellow Canadians whose life clocks came to a sudden stop so we can rest well knowing that the shores of our great country is safe. My fellow Canadians let us salute these brave men and women, who refused to count the cost but choose instead to pay for our freedom at such great cost!

May God continue to bless this country !


Erma Washington
November 11th, 2014


WEEK: OCT. 31 to NOV. 7 Events


Unofficial Election Results: http://szpin.ca/vote-2014/


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DESTINATIONS: Ghosts, ghouls & galleries of Guanajuato

A mysterious  and magical city


Heard the one about the invisible spirit singing ‘Cielito lindo’ in the Mexican moonlight in Guanajuato? Visit the UNESCO World Heritage mining town of Guanajuato and you just might hear the singing but I guarantee you one thing, you will NOT see the singer!

Guanajuato, a city of about 150,000, is located about 200 kms northwest of Mexico City. From the surrounding hillsides, the splashes of pastel washed buildings in the valley below look like a child’s primary-colour painting or somewhat like an urban mural painted by the city’s famous artist, Diego Rivera.


Some Guanajuatons claim there is a legend that spirits of the city’s deceased artists roam the city at night looking for victims who are real life artists. They then enter the body of the visiting artist while they sleep and implant something which brings the artist back Guanajuato after they die to join the legion of artistic spirits that inhabit the city now. I didn’t see myself as an artist so the legend did not frighten me until someone reminded me that writers are considered to be artists too. Now the ghoulish legend took on a new life.

Whether you are artistic or not, Guanajuato really is a Mexican city worth visiting; it has a wide range of tourist attractions: more than 50 hotels, varied shopping, excellent dining and pleasurable entertainment. In October, during the Cervantino Festival, university music students don medieval troubadour costumes and serenade strollers nightly. Very romantic!


We toured the entire city, seeing the majority of its tourists attractions. We visited the Boca Mina San Ramon Museum, a memorial to the silver mining days of the 16th century. Visitors are provided with a hard hat as they enter old shafts with displays and props depicting the early mining days in the region: mine buggies, stuffed donkeys and costumed miner mannequins realistically portrayed the mining methods and working conditions of the bygone era. An artistically constructed bar gave you an idea of how miners spent their free time and their newly acquired wealth.

As we departed the mine museum, a young man garbed in old and dusty miner duds, well-worn, badly wrinkled, stopped me and mumbled, “Boletos, por favor.” I looked down into my man purse to dig out my tickets, proof of our valid entry, not really surprised at the unusual request. I heard him add, “Vaja con Dios,” as a musty smell of old manuscripts, moist soil and stone dust wafted by me. When I looked up, my tickets in hand, the young man was gone. I looked around but he was no where to be seen. Vanished, poof, into thin air. Very strange.


We learned how three hundred years ago, the Catholic Church tried purging the region of so-called heretics using its infamous Inquisition. Artists who painted complicated, indescribable works were early victims even though many of them were not religious at all. They were tortured cruelly in the clerics’ relentless attempts to exorcise the ‘devils of the possessed’ and extricate understandable explanations of their artistic endeavours. The tour guide at the Museo de la Inquisicion, draped in a Franciscan robe, cinctured with a rough rope, walked about the museum giving his spiel in Spanish accented English. He seemed to almost float as he walked around the room giving his explanations. I looked down at his feet. I did a double take. His rugged sandals seemed to never touch the dried mud floor. I was seeing things…tourist fatigue I thought. We had been driving around central Mexico for weeks and I was the sole driver, so I could understand being tired. But when I looked down at the heels of the other gallery visitors, I saw dust motes kicked up behind every one of them as they walked over the earthen gallery floor but nary a one rose up behind the friar guide. Hmmm!

Guanajuato offers many more attractions: museums dedicated to artists, writers, naturalists and singers like Rivera, Dugles, Arreola, and Negrete; monuments honouring miners, workers and artists; over a hundred splendid churches, from a majestic cathedral to tiny, personal chapels; artisan and boutique shops; theaters and concert halls; and numerous excellent eateries with regional dishes.

In the evening, we were glad to get back to our hotel. We had selected it because it was located right in the heart of the city, making access to our various tours much easier. It was a quaint two story hacienda hotel, probably renovated numerous times as it tried to keep up with the tourist trade over the years. They had done well. Each evening they had linen draped tables set up outside in the front of the hotel facing the central square parkette with its trees and gardens, people sitting and murmuring to each other on the park benches. It was a nice backdrop to our evening dining alla fresco.

Inside, the hotel was decorated with baked tiles on many of the walls where huge painting of the city’s past heroes and important citizenry received their earned honour. Frames and doors, all were trimmed in polished coffee coloured wood which I guess was mahogany or dark oak. The bar was particularly warm because of the expanse of the wood everywhere. Even the long bar itself was a piece of art, polished smooth and gleeming in the low light of the room.

We sat at a table for two, ordered margharitas while I setup the laptop for a Skype phone call home. Tap, tap, bing, bing, click…I had Internet connectivity. Nadia connected with her mom and had a nice ten minute conversation recounting our day’s adventures. When she finished, she disconnected the Skype connection. I thought I would take advantage of our connectivity to check email but then I changed my mind, after all, this was a holiday. I shut off the laptop, surprised at how warm it was to the touch. A bit unusual.

We finished our margharitas and I went over to the bartender for the bill. I saw the two drinks charge on the bill but no charge for the Internet use. When I asked how much I owed for our Internet time, he replied, “Senior, our Internet does not work. We have had trouble with it since it was first installed. So you have no charge there.” When I told him about using Skype very successfully, he added, “Senior, that is not possible. Our router system has been removed because we have had no success at all with our Internet installation. It has never worked in this hotel.” I shook my head in wonder as we walked out of the bar, warm laptop in hand.

Incredibly, Guanajuato has a subway system. As the city is surrounded by mountainous hills, road construction is an engineering challenge in this region. However, the citizens of Guanajuato found a better way; they built their main avenues beneath the city, on dried riverbeds, sunken far below, and now rescued from annual flooding by the construction of a dam. The roadways enter, traverse and exit the city, all underground. It is very eerie to drive about under the city in deep, dimly lit tunnels. Thank goodness traffic was light as a traffic jams down here would have been scary, I am sure.

One more strange thing happened to us on our visit to Guanajuato. My laptop was totally discharged by the last day of our visit there and I thought I would recharge the device when we returned to Mexico city the next day. Mysteriously, the laptop not only sprung back to life when we got into our hotel room in Mexico City but mysteriously, the battery indicator displayed a fully charged reading. I had not charged the device. Yet, somehow the battery had been been fully revived somehow, somewhere after we had left Guanajuato. It was not my doing.

Even more mysterious, my entire Guanajuato visit was recorded and saved in a single folder titled, ‘Guanajuato’  in the laptop’s memory. Now, I am quite meticulous about recording my trip data using USB storage sticks and SD cards but I had not had the time to transfer any of the files from my USB sticks or any of my camera SD cards to the laptop while we were in Guanajuato. We were that busy. To transfer all my data would have meant a couple of hours of work and I thought best to do that work later on our return to Mexico City where we would have more leisure time. Yet, when I examined the laptop upon arrival in Mexico City, not only was it fully charged but a folder had been created with our entire trip, photos and files, all safely organized in it. And I know I never did this work.

When we got back to Mexico city and I took out a USB stick, to do some data transfer. To my surprise, the stick was blank. In fact, every one of my USB sticks was blank. No files existed on any of them. I am certain to this day that I never erased these files. They were my trip record, for heaven’s sake. Then, I pulled out my camera SD card to examine the photos of Guanajuato. Blank. No photos. What!!!! And all my other SD cards which I thought had Guanajuato photos, all them were blank also. Somehow every SD card had been erased and I know I didn’t do that, for sure.

And yet, I had a complete and very well organized record of my trip to Guanajuato, photos and files, all saved in one folder on my laptop. To this day, I cannot explain this and my wife thinks I am pulling her leg with all this.

I was told Guanajuato had ghosts, lots of them. I did not believe it and I refuse to believe it even now but I remember strange things happened to us on our visit to Guanajuato. Things that I cannot explain. Do ghosts exist? In Guanajuato? I don’t know but one thing for sure, I am not returning to Guanajuato to find out. May you can !


APPS: Shop & Save tip #20

Knowing your prices is absolute necessity as an advertised deal of e.g. 20% off is not a deal if the original price is out of line ( I have some unbelievable examples of regular price differences on same item between Shoppers, Walmart  and Loblaws especially in skin care dept.)

Marlene B.

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ENRICHED LIVES: Libraries ain’t as they used to be !


The Pickering Library held a very special event on Thursday, Oct. 23rd. If you could not attend, here is what you missed.

An opportunity to meet Cathy Grant, CEO, Pickering Library Board. Cathy is the hands on CEO of the Library Board, and “hands on ” means she gets directly involved in library activities which means real contact with the public, the patrons of the library.

This is the way I think Ms. Grant

Richard Szpin gives Cathy Tech advice.

The library event was an opportunity for the institution to show off its latest wares and to showcase some Pickering business relationships.

Pie Pickering treated patrons to pizza slices, wood fire baked, thin crust and delicious.


Sam and John (the Aussie) keeping the slices hot !

And then serving…


Then, attending patrons could wash the pizza down with great beer brewed by the 5 Paddles Brewery, a local craft beer brewing company.

One of the five young owners himself, Spencer, opened bottle after bottle of thirst quenching, specially brewed, unique recipe beers. A pumpkin seasoning based brew was ideal for Halloween, and not a kid’s drink either !


Not surprisingly, Spencer had the longest queue of library patrons…


There were more tastes to be tried…soft pretzels, quinoa salads, butternut squash soups…



Hawley Crescent Culinary Services of Whitby had hosting ideas.


Hawley Crescent Culinary Services had chicken nuggets for tasting…mmmm good!

Once your taste buds were satisfied and your thirst was quenched, patrons explored the many other displays set up for the evening…

The green screen photo display which library staffers, Doug and Sabrina demonstrated…was fun for everyone. Patrons got photos taken in world settings like the Taj Mahal in Agra, India or in front of the pyramids in Giza.

what is the man doing

No, no Richard…You cannot be made taller and slimmer !

Green Screeners

More fun in front of Doug’s Green Screen display.


Doug explains the Green Screen technology.

Veridian HYDRO

Veridian HYDRO showed off their SMART METERS.

And library staff were all over, directing, demonstrating, explaining, and guiding patrons around the many displays and demonstration booths…

Two of Pickerings finest ladies...at the library event

Staffer Claire gives local resident, Nadia Girardi, a library CHAMPION lawn sign.

Doug shows off his artwork to Fran and Richard

Doug explains the process to techies, Fran and Richard.

Electricity from a banana…no way !!!


Nordic Pole Walking explained the health benefits of walking, but how these benefits could be enhanced tremendously by kicking the walk up a notch with Nordic Poles…


Then, as Pickering is in the middle of an Election Campaign, one of the local candidates, Doug Dickerson, attended the DO ANYTHING event. Good for you Doug !!! Nice to see a candidate supporting our library events.


Local candidate, Doug Dickerson listens in.

Then, the CARP organization, (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) a strong supporter of the library and all its endeavours, had its executive manning a booth where they distributed CARP pins and CARP wrist bands. All we needed was Susan Eng there to top off their station !

Keith and Randy, CARP execs

Keith and Randy, local CARP execs manned their display.

Finally, you would not have seen it ALL, unless you saw the library’s technological pride and joy, the 3D printer. Staffer Kayhan really enjoyed showing off this unique piece of technology and both goldsters and youngsters who were awed by the products that this printer could make. Just imagine, instead of producing a 2 dimensional copy of something, this printer produces a 3 dimensional copy. Now if it could only operate with tomato sauce, pepperoni gel, and mozzarella ink…I would be buying one of these printers in a flash. Instant PIZZAS…on demand !


Kayhan awes some of the onlookers !

Joe's gotta know how it works

Joe Sancroft’s gotta know how it works!

kayhan shows of the 3D printer

It was a stupendous evening at the library. More than hundreds of local residents attended and each of them reinforce that the library did an outstanding job in hosting this unique event.

Our local library has been winning awards for its innovation and modernization. It really is meeting the challenges and needs of its local patrons with innovative and leading edge technology. Patrons of libraries of bygone eras would be speechless seeing what the library does today, especially the Pickering Library. Book lending is no longer its raison d’etre. Now it is a movie centre, an audio music centre, a learning centre with numerous classes teaching a variety of topics. The leading edge technological thrusts taken by the Pickering Library just reinforce its deserved reputation of being an outstanding facility…and it’s here in Pickering.

Cathy Grant, CEO, and all her staff are to be heartily congratulated on hosting such a marvelous event and for making our local library one of the very best in the entire province.

Bravo Pickering Library!!!











Current read

NEXT MEETING:  Friday, Nov. 20
Time:  2 pm

Location: VIVA Residence, Pickering

Heartbreaking and funny: the true story behind Jeanette’s bestselling and most beloved novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

In 1985, at twenty-five, Jeanette published Oranges, the story of a girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, supposed to grow up to be a missionary. Instead, she falls in love with a woman. Disaster.

Oranges became an international bestseller, inspired an award-winning BBC adaptation, and was semi-autobiographical. Mrs. Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over the novel and the author’s life: when Jeanette left home at sixteen because she was in love with a woman, Mrs. Winterson asked her: Why be happy when you could be normal? This is Jeanette’s story–acute, fierce, celebratory – of a life’s work to find happiness: a search for belonging, love, identity, a home.

About a young girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night, and a mother waiting for Armageddon with two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer; about growing up in a northern industrial town; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. She thought she had written over the painful past until it returned to haunt her and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also about other people’s stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.

Watch for my review soon.

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Late in September, I entered a writing contest the theme of which was “best friends.” The contest was sponsored by the VIVA Residences (one exists in Pickering). Thinking that most written submissions would be about human best friends, I chose to write about my Scottish Terrier as being my best friend. My entry must have been received well as I was one of the 9 finalists in the contest. I lost, by the way, probably because my entry concerned a dog, rather than a human. No matter, I still think of my dog as my ‘second’ best friend. He relates with me as if I were his best friend and I feel great about that. Here is my entry, which I believe came in SECOND.


My best bud, Fermo

Fermo‘s my best bud, save for my other bud, Nadia. Height challenged and with a face, no, a mug, maybe even a muzzle, only Nadia and 1 can love.He’s not the handsomest fellow around with his wavy black hair, disheveled at the best of times, always looking like he’s been bested in a battle with the hairdryer, an engagement he’s lost.


How he looks isn’t important. I still love him anyway because he’s a stalwart, so dependable, so lovable, a real buddy. No matter how long I’ve been out, he greets me at the door as if I were the Reader’s Digest prize bearer; super glad to see me, a Superman of excitability.

Still he’s my emotional bulwark, never depressed, never down, never despondent. He has all his buttons pushed to “ON;” willingness, ON, enthusiasm, ON, happy, ON, and eager, ON. Watching TV with me, 1 think he’s snoozing; no way, an ear twitch here, another, there; attentive button, ON.

Whenever I nap on the couch, he saunters into the room; tic, tic, tic, his little feet click on the floor. Then, prrrloomph, he plops down against the couch and seems to doze off; the moment I awake, his “ready to go” button clicks to ON. He’s up by the couch looking into my face, with his “1’m ready. What are we doing now?”mug! Whatta guy!


Not sure about going out to do his business…too cold !

You may have guessed, my best bud, Fermo‘s a dog, a very lovable Scottish terrier to be exact.

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