Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Home of My Heart ~ A Photo Blog

About those photos I took last summer on our trip to Cape Breton. I feel moved to share.

These were from where we stayed for the first couple of nights. Dundee Resort. Very nice.

Even nicer when the stay was a very generous uunexpected gift from someone else.

Then we went "on the road", traveling around the Island via the Cabot Trail.

Around the Trail we go.

Unfortunately, my pictures don't even come near capturing the majesty and beauty of the Cabot Trail but we all do what we can.

We spent the remainder of our time in Cape Breton at the Seaparrot,
a wonderful little resort on the ocean

Drinks anyone?

Ah, what is life without a hammock?

Sunning with some friends.

The decor.

But, alas, the time came to leave.

Don't laugh ... it you have a hankering for some excellent eats,
this is the place to be!

Next up ... Boston! I hope. Eventually.

Your Soul Has Violet Eyes

You understand people well and are a natural born therapist. You are a gentle listener and the ideal confidant.

You believe that this world truly lacks understanding. You try to exercise compassion as often as you can.

You are a compassionate and forgiving person. You are willing to overlook most mistakes.

Affection is like air for you - you need to give and receive it to survive. You need love in your life.

This is one of the results from the quiz, What Color Eyes Does Your Soul Have?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


As in I finally managed to download upload 1035 pictures from my camera to my computer.  What?!

So it took me a while to actually install the software, what's your point?

Summer Olympics 2010.

Cape Breton trip 2010.

Trip to Boston.  Which was in the Fall of 2010.

I only mention that because, would you believe, I had actually had to look back to the old blog posts to see when that was.  It seemed like it must have been at least 2009.  Not a good sign, me thinks.

Summer Olympics 2011.

Anyway, the point of this (mostly pointless) post is that now that I finally have those pictures off my camera, I might just get some up here on my blog.  Who knows, I might just go wild and crazy and make some albums for Facebook too.

Then again, maybe we I shouldn't get too excited ... although I took those 1035 pictures off my camera last Thursday, so far I have only had a chance to actually look at 100 of them. 

Unless, of course, you count the times I stop while passing my computer to stare in wonder at my ever-changing screensaver of these pictures I now recall taking but have never actually viewed before. 

Baby steps...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eye Candy

I'm not a huge fan of Ford but ... I am a big fan of the Blue Angels.

And eye candy. Let's never forget eye candy.

The only downside is ... it makes me awful lonely for Osh Kosh.

H/T Vincent at Neptunus Lex

Monday, July 4, 2011

Canada Day "In Action"

We all know that Canada is in Afghanistan as part of an UN-mandated, NATO-led mission with more than 60 other countries and international organizations, supposedly at the request of the Afghan government. That's old news.

But this year, July 1st marked the official pull-out of our combat troops, the day marking the end of combat operations for the Canadian military.

So I got to thinking - what was Canada Day like for those members of the Canadian military in theatre in Afghanistan this year?

Was July 1st a time of celebration? Reflection? Fond wishes? A passive goodbye party? Or was it just cause to celebrate as one of the few occasions they are allowed two beers and barbecued hamburgers?  Maybe all of the above?

For what it's worth, here's the view from Canada’s top commander on July 2nd as he bid farewell to combat troops in Kandahar.

Gen. Walt Natynczyk, in his final address before the formal end of operations, urged returning soldiers to watch their "battle buddies" and take care of each other as they begin the long journey back to regular life at home.

His remarks had a poignant ring for the soldiers of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, as two of the four deaths in the last combat tour were suspected suicides.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, also spoke to the uncertainty most soldiers feel about the end of the Kandahar mission and what will become of an army that has evolved and takes enormous pride in being a fighting force.

The world is an unpredictable place and the general noted how no one would have expected at this time last year that CF-18s would be involved in a NATO-led bombing campaign over Libya.

"Who knows what the future will bring," he said.
And, of course, Peter MacKay had to chime in too.
His comments were echoed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who told troops during a town hall outside of the new Canada House at Kandahar Airfield that the mission in Afghanistan is not done, but simply evolving.

"We don’t leave tasks undone in Canada. We finish what we start," he said, referring to the training mission in the country’s north where up to 950 soldiers and support staff have started to deploy.
Says he.

Well, it may supposedly* be the end of "combat" for Canada but it's far from the end of Afghanistan.

From now until March 2014, our military is to be deployed in a non-combat role to train the Afghan National Army. And we are to be centred in Kabul instead of the "always volatitile Kandahar province" (which seemed to be its official media name). Up to 950 military personnel will be provided to train the Afghan National Army and up to 45 civilian police officers will be deployed to train the Afghan National Police.

That's nice. But Afghanistan remains a volatile and challenging environment - have we made any real progress over the past ten years?

Our key achievements so far are said to include building and repairing 50 schools in Kandahar province, rehabilitating the Dahla Dam and its irrigation system, and contributing to the eradication of polio across Afghanistan. 

And along with international partners we have helped train and mentor about 50,000 Afghan troops. The Afghan National Police now numbers almost 116,000, more than the 2010 goal of 109,000 set by the Afghan government and by the International Security Assistance Force. And, last but not least, our civilian and military police mentors have helped train and guide over 2,800 police officers since 2008.

We're told that through this work, we have provided necessary funding to build police stations, pay police salaries and equip officers. And as a result, a growing number of Afghans in Kandahar province say they feel safer in their communities. God, I hope so after all this.

But hey, as good as that sounds, we best not forget to add to our list of "accomplishments", finding and detonating (intentionally or not) a hell of a lot of IEDs. And routing out a lot of Taliban, some of whom later returned to the roost. After all, we paid dearly for that particular chunk of work.

But now we're told that our "new" role in that war-torn country will build on the accomplishments of our mission over the past 10 years. Our objective, we are told, remains the same: to help build a more secure, stable and self-sufficient Afghanistan that is no longer a safe haven for terrorists.

To do that we will focus on four key areas:
•investing in the future of Afghan children and youth through development programming in education and health;

•advancing security, the rule of law and human rights, including through the provision of up to 950 trainers for Afghan security forces;
•promoting regional diplomacy; and

•helping deliver humanitarian assistance.
Funny, they say that hindsight is always 20/20.  And yet I'm not so sure about that at the moment.  Or perhaps we're just not far enough removed yet to develop that focus. Not I, anwyay.

Oh well, I'm glad it seems to be working out well for Prime Minitster Harper, anyway. /sarcasm off/

Forgive me I seem to be rambling. It's just that I probably am.

But I started this post wanting to wish a belated Happy Canada Day to our troops in Afghanistan, those soon on their way home, those just arriving to help pack things up and those who will remain behind to continue training the Afghan army, engage in development programming in education and health, promote regional diplomacy and help deliver humanitarian assistance. You know, what they said.

So, anyway, like Happy Canada Day, guys (and gals), eh.**

* I say "supposedly" because, call me crazy, but I just can't see how we can focus on the training or development work without engaging in security, aka combat.  I mean, isn't that how we got here in the first place?

** If I sound a bit ambivalent there at the last, it's probably because I am.  Not about wishing our troops a Happy Canada Day but about ... well, maybe it's kind of like how we speculate it might be for the troops, not sure if I'm feeling celebratory, reflective, or something else after writing this post. Perhaps a couple of beers coolers and a barbecued hamburger would help?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Uncaring, Unprincipled, Unacceptable

That I wrote about this very issue two years ago is a very sad commentary:
That a funding kerfuffle, that the federal and provincial governments cannot agree on who, exactly, is responsible to provide the funding necessary for aboriginal children with special needs to stay at home, with their families, where they belong is sadly, perhaps, not surprising.

But that this bit of 'government infighting' as it is so colloquially called has resulted in families being told that they may be forced to give up their children because the First Nation can no longer pay for their care and federal and provincial governments can't agree on who should pay is beyond despicable.
And if it was unacceptable then, what is it now?

Two years ago, I questioned where the  Nova Scotia government stood when it comes to Jordan's Principle.  I guess now we have our answer.
Jeremy Meawasige loves music, sunny days at the beach and his mother.

But Jeremy has extensive physical and mental disabilities. And the failure to resolve a dispute between the Pictou Landing First Nation and the federal government over how his care is paid for may result in his institutionalization.

"It’ll be over my dead body," said Maurina Beadle of the possibility her 16-year-old son might be institutionalized.

Jeremy is diagnosed with autism, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy and spinal curvature.

For 15 years, Beadle provided 24-hour care for her son. She spoon fed him pureed foods, carried him, prevented his self-destructive tendencies and changed his diapers.
That, in itself, by itself, is unacceptable in my mind. That a parent should single-handedly have to provide 24-hour care for their child for all those years anywhere in Canada is quite simply unacceptable. 

But as if that wasn't bad enough, last year Jeremy's mother had a stroke.  Fortunately, the Pictou Landing First Nation stepped up to the plate, providing three hours of home care every day.  Last year that cost the First Nation $82,000.

But now, even as the cost decreases due to his mother being out of a wheelchair and now able to walk with the assistance of a cane, she is being told that her son might have to be institutionalized because no level of government is willing to pick up the cost of a small amount of home care. Home care to which Jeremy would be more than entitled to were he to live off-reserve in this Province.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Truly Canadian

Good friends. CHECK

Good food. CHECK

A few good drinks. CHECK

A beautiful sunny day. CHECK

What more could one ask for to complete a perfect Canada Day?

Some parent-to-parent political scheming planning, you say?