Is it my imagination or is our weather more like May than April? My tulip leaves are getting big and other spring bulbs are growing, too. Our neighbour's crocus are blooming. Isn't nature amazing!
"This is God's wondrous world" is the beginning of a favourite hymn. We are so truly blessed. For those who love to go on walks, I expect you are noticing the changes taking place. Look around and see all the new growth - amazing!
Last fall, we brought in two tomato plants and they have survived the winter. More than survived, they have multiplied. As they became too tall for their space, I took cuttings and put them in water. Not all survived, but some did and so now I have more tomato plants - and these, too, are getting too tall. I'll cut and root them to plant as well. It's a good thing that Paul and I and our neighbours like tomatoes.
This year, while I'm itching to rake the last fall's leaves from the garden beds, I am more aware that bees and other insects have been overwintering there and need time to develop before being disturbed. How long should I wait I wonder. I don't want to smother plants that are looking for sunlight. However, with our chilly nights, I will wait (impatiently) and get on with edging beds and some of the other tasks I can do in the meantime.
One of those is turning the compost. Last fall I covered the composting area with a large tarp. In past years, the pile would take ages and ages to thaw out. This year after removing the tarp, I was pleasantly surprised to dig into the pile and found it totally thawed. Now there is no excuse for getting to that pile, turning it, and moving the finished compost to garden beds.
I hope that you, too, have passions that keep you happy and occupied.
Have a blessed spring.
As members of our congregation, we have a shared responsibility. Everyone is entitled to voice their opinions and to be heard. Obviously, where opinions differ, common ground needs to be found. Our Council members have volunteered to work on behalf of their fellow congregants, but they need to know that the congregation wants. Obviously, we would all want to stay in our church building and carry on; however, financially, we cannot afford to do so as things stand while at the same time doing the work of the church - mission, outreach, and so much more.
A few weeks ago, I raised some questions - and they are included here again as only 11 answers were received. In answering them, please consider that we are facing a deficit this year and do not have the fundraising ability to maintain the church or to hire a minister.
1. Do you want our congregation to continue?
2. If yes, shall we sell the building and rent elsewhere? The option if the majority say No to question one or are silent is to hand our buildings and properties to the United Church of Canada.
3. If you answer "yes" to Question 1, then will you commit to sitting on a committee or on Council, or to organizing an ongoing event such as Bible study, i.e., to further the work of the church?
4. If you answer "no" to Question 2, then how do you propose we pay for the new furnace, boiler, water heater, and replacing drafty windows and doors?
Looking forward to your answers. Send them to my email or call me at 819-685-0656 to discuss them.
The setting moon’s opalescent light has woken me twice in the last week. It will be a full moon tomorrow. Sleeping in a tent at the fullness of the moon, it was the rustling of small bodies in leaves that would wake me. Sometimes, lying awake, having moved into the centre of the tent floor and having unzipped the sleeping bag cocoon, and holding my Swiss Army Knife these rustlings became the sound of large bodies snuffling and pushing aside bushes and rootling around the camp fire, knocking around the old oven rack, the iron frying pan that was always set upside down to dry, the tin bowl, the much chipped enamelled white and blue mug, and the metal fork and spoon. Sometimes, in the morning, the tracks around the camp site were not those of chipmunk, squirrel, or raccoon. On the tip of the isthmus in Algonquin Park’s Opalescent Lake, the rising sun’s raking light put into high relief the paw prints of the mother Black Bear and her cub. In the lee of a Machair covered shell sand dune on Vatersay, in the Outer Hebrides the tracks were those of a red bull protecting his coos from my cooking gas by forking the cylinder down the hill with his Caledonia horns, the points of which had made seed drills amongst the six inch, wind sized purple harebells, yellow butter and eggs, and the yellow centred white daisies. I patted the plant mat into place and dribbled water from my hiking bottle onto the damaged protected species, all the while keeping a weather eye on the sire and his coos grazing out of the wind, down near the bottom of the gale gouged hollow. The moonscape meteor crater fitted the other worldly aspect of this Hebridean world. The golden corn globe of the Harvest Moon rising over the south-east end of Paugan Reservoir mesmerised me. On the verge of sleep, turning to unzip the tent, the green, yellow, white, and unusually, the red and orange Northern Lights leapt and swirled, engulfing me in the Northern Peoples’ stories of being swept up and kidnapped by them, of it being deathly bad luck to summon them by whistling, of being either cured or cursed by their sound and vibration, or of being the omen of mysteries that must always remain untold. This last week there were no hard rustlings of metallic creatures travelling their trails. There were no sharp, metallic, warning barks. I heard one whispered meow. The opalescent light soothed my unease in the absence of accustomed sharp edged sound. I heard a living, breathing furry creature, wakened as was I by the moonlight, giving voice while I too was awake.
When will spring come - will it be a long drawn-out end to winter or suddenly be spring with blooming daffodils and forsythia! Personally, I'm hoping for an early spring so I can start working in my garden.
The day, too, will come when we can return to our church building. I wonder how many people will return to worship. Like many who read this, I miss gathering with our church family and singing together to Lynn's playing. However, personally, during the winter months, I was more than glad to not have to put on a coat, boots and gloves, clean the car and clear the driveway to go to church.
Thankfully, we have a Covid-19 Team who have been researching the latest information on the rules regarding gathering. While the Premier says we can gather, he doesn't outline all the steps required regarding sanitizing, spacing, entering and leaving, cleaning of bathrooms between uses - or tell us who will do all that. Only one person and they in their 80s volunteered when we asked for volunteers to enable us to open.
So, for the foreseeable future while Covid-19 exists, we remain closed. Remember - a person who has received the Covid-19 vaccination can still catch Covid-19 (but just not be as sick as they might have been without the vaccine) and can still spread it to others. I, for one, would not want to see any one of our members becoming sick or worse dying because we gathered together too soon.
I am so truly blessed in so many ways. Yesterday (Tuesday), I went out to start working on clearing snow. Shortly after, I was joined by three of my neighbours with their snow blowers and working together before long our driveway and the neighbours which abuts it were cleared out. It shows what the pooling of resources and having many hands sharing the load can accomplish. I do hope that you, too, have family, friends and neighbours who help you who are there for you.
Last evening (Tuesday), I was blessed again with the support of the members of Church Council. As many of you no doubt know, I was elected Chair at our February Annual General Meeting. Each member of Council has taken on a number of issues. We can all use your support. If you would like to "share the load" by joining a committee or taking on lending your experience or expertise, it would be greatly appreciated. We need people to help us work through a cost-effective way to have internet/Wi-fi in the church building, to help us figure out how to keep our phone number, but not have a $60+ a month phone bill, and to work on many more issues like our ancient boiler and old (about 22-years-old) water heater. If either lets us down during very cold weather, we could be facing flooding (again!).
Did you know that snow comes through our side doors and that the breeze blows through the windows in the parlor? Oh, and then there is the roof and west side of the manse that need repairs - which we have postponed for yet another year due to lack of funds. Our Building and Assets Management committee has been asked to come up with a 5-year plan for tackling issues. If you have any issues with our building, please let Earl New know or send a message to Ellen.
Sometimes I wonder whether we should sell the building - because there are many major issues - and rent or buy or build new. The funds from a sale could provide us with money to pay a minister, to have the internet and to enable us to do outreach projects. Something to think about. Your feedback would be appreciated. If you want to stay in the current building, some ideas on how to fund the repairs and maintenance would be appreciated.
Long ago, the founders of our church built what was then known as the Methodist Chapel and is now the Aylmer Heritage building on rue Golf. At some point, they realized a need to move on to a building that better suited their needs. Is it time for us to follow in their footsteps and take the leap of faith and move?
Council really does want to hear from you and to have your input. Would you please let us know what you think - you can talk with me or any member of Council.
Next week: Council Special Report. Please watch for it.
February 12, 2021 Steph Wakelin
Chinese new Year is a special celebration in my family. It started with cleaning in preparation for the special event - year of the Ox - then the celebration itself. Much like Christmas 2020 due to Covid it was one of pickups and drop offs. Fun just the same.
❤ A favourite memory of mine is when our church held the International Food Fair and Concerts over the years. Jack Chow (and Karen) have been a regular and generous contributor featuring China - Chinese Food. I can still see Jack in the kitchen preparing and the smell of delicious foods wafting into the hall.
Explanation (from Wikipedia)
New Year for the year 2021 is celebrated/ observed on Friday, February 12. This year the animal sign is the Ox. Chinese New Year is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese lunisolar calendar (Chinese traditional calendar). It is also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival.
❤ Here is his recipes from Margaret Virany's cookbook Eating At Church that she lovingly compiled from our church congregation.
Black History Month
❤ I grew up in Belize, Central America in the 1960s & 1970s. It was before they got independence and it was known as British Honduras.
At that time the population was predominantly Creole. I went to Roman Catholic school St. Catherines Academy where the classrooms were always a mixed pot of young people - creole, spanish and non creole/spanish.
I have fond memories of going on vacations with my friends and their parents. This was a different life experience for me, a shy child. They taught me trust. They taught me about different foods and ways they cooked them. They taught me to speak creole. They made me feel comfortable and happy.
I still remember walking down the streets hearing music pouring out of someone’s house and people would just stop to dance and sing there in the street. The music was made up from a variety of cultures: reggae, soul, steel drum, Garifuna and spanish love songs.
I also remember a house near where I lived that still had bars on the windows. It brought reality to my life and I learned of their ancestor's struggles (see explanation below).
Today, although the creole population has changed, the local dish is still rice and beans made with coconut milk and stewed chicken. This dish still holds a special spot in my heart. My mother created a cookbook for the Hospital Auxiliary much like Margaret Virany did for our church. The picture above is a worn, well used copy from the cookbook. At the bottom of the recipe is creole proverb and its translation.
Explanation of Belizean Creole (from Wikipedia):
Creoles are descendants of the Baymen slave owners, and slaves brought to Belize for the purpose of the logging industry. These slaves were ultimately of West and Central African descent (many also of Miskito ancestry from Nicaragua) and born Africans who had spent very brief periods in Jamaica and Bermuda. Bay Islanders and ethnic Jamaicans came in the late 19th century, further adding to these already varied peoples, creating this ethnic group.
There are some really good articles on the United Church website about Black History month.
by Steph Wakelin
Traditionally we would be having a Pancake dinner tonight at the church. This event has been a popular event over the years.
Thank you to everyone that has organized and helped this event over the years.
It has been- and will be again - a great way to get out during the winter and seeing our friends from the Aylmer community. They have always supported us and enjoyed this supper. The Guides, Le Monastere, and Jim Allen have also been there with help and donations.
❤ This day always holds happy memories of my Mom. She made great pancakes and sausages. I can still hear her singing as she cooked up a storm. She made a syrup of brown sugar and butter which was poured generously on top. As we lived in Belize there was always a variety of fresh fruit. Yum yum!
❤ Joy Ruttan shared a memory of her grandmother who used to make them with buttermilk
“We would eat them with butter and jam or preserves that grandma made, once in a while brown sugar- now that was pancake heaven! That was during the war and everything was rationed.
I think grandma must have spent most of her time making meals and regular housework. In the warm weather she had the garden from planting to reaping and picking berries and a couple of times a week she'd walk a mile and a half to the post office and store. I liked it when I could go with her, sometimes we'd get a ride with a horse & buggy by a neighbour.”
See the recipes
Explanation of Shrove Tuesday
The religious association of Shrove Tuesday began because the day preceding Ash Wednesday presented an opportunity to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The Christian fasting encouraged eating plainer food and avoiding food that would give pleasure – namely meat, dairy products, and eggs.
The name Shrove Tuesday derives from the practice of Anglo-Saxon Christians going into confession the day before Lent and being ‘shriven’ (absolved of their sins).
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which falls 40 days prior to Easter. Sundays are not included in the count of these days, as each Sunday is a “little Easter,” meant to celebrate resurrection.
It is marked by the ceremonial distribution of ashes as a symbol of entering into the penitential Season of Lent. The wearing of ashes, made from the burning of the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday, is considered a sign of repentance, sorrow, and mourning, an appropriate way to begin Lent.
Did you know there were both female and male "war brides" - women who married servicemen were more common than men (also considered war brides) who married female servicewomen. Perhaps you've seen the old Cary Grant movie "I Was a Male War Bride", a 1949 comedy.
If you are interested in War Brides, Veterans Affairs Canada has a web page at https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/second-world-war/canadian-war-brides telling about the women (and men) who served overseas and came home with a spouse.
For centuries, some military personnel stationed in foreign lands returned home with brides. If you are interested, more information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_bride.
Did you know (and here I quote from
Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day) "The Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the "lovebirds" of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines")."
Putting the two ideas - War Brides and Valentine's Day - together, I thought this would be a fitting time to celebrate War Brides who left their homes and families, potentially never to see their relatives again, to sail off to a foreign land all for love.
Our thanks to Joy Miller, Marjorie Moir, and Tom Virany who have submitted information on some War Brides they've known.
Joy Miller provided information on two war brides, Hazel Kelley and Daisy Devine.
"Hazel was 15 years old when she met Doug Kelley 18 years old when he went to England with the Canadian Army. They were married on March 27, 2947 in her church (her father was a Deacon) in Bournemouth, England. They sailed for Canada on May 1947 on board the Equity. They spent 2 years renting from Doug's parents in Aylmer, Que., then lived in the Vet's project, then bought a house in Aylmer.
Richard, their oldest son was born in 1948, followed by David, Keith and Debbie.
Doug was wounded in 1944 and went back in 1994 for the 50-year anniversary. He got very sick and passed away November 3rd, 1994, on returning from his trip."
To find out more about Doug Kelley, please
visit https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/kelpilgrim/, a site with the story of his parents by Keith Kelley a journey Keith took to follow his father's war-time footsteps.
At 19 in 1941, Daisy left her family and life in Crawley, Sussex, and headed to a pig farm to become a Land Army Girl. It was at a Land Army dance where she met Dalton Devine, a soldier of the Cameron Highlanders Machine Gun Unit. The two married and had a son, but sadly, Dalton died shortly after on August 14, 1944, in the Battle of the Falaise Gap in France.
Daisy headed to Canada in 1946 with her son, settling in Shawville and later marrying Dalton's brother Earl and having three more children..
On September 24, 2007, Daisy received a letter, certificate of appreciation, and a brooch for her "unsparing efforts" as a Women's Land Army Girl from the then Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown.
On November 5, 2008, the Shawville Equity ran a story about Daisy. She died January 6, 2020.
Born in Nottingham, England (home of Robin Hood), Marjorie was raised in the London suburb of Hammersmith. Her older brother, Vic, became a Navigator with the RAF during WWll. During the war, she worked with the Victoria League, to help students, and also the Knights of Columbus, and later with Canadian soldiers coming to England for the war effort.
A chance encounter occurred when brother Vic was on a bus trip to the Prairies where he was being sent to train Air Force Navigators. A sister of Marjorie's husband-to-be (Eleanor) was on the same bus; they talked, and a suggestion was made that Vic's sister, Marjorie and one of Eleanor's two brothers, should meet in England. So many plans were made, many letters written, plans were changed, new plans made again, to meet Eleanor's younger brother. Just before the long-awaited meeting, this brother became sick, so his older brother stepped in for him. By the time Marjorie and her husband-to- be, Willard, met, it was Valentine's Day!
Much letter-writing followed between Marjorie and Willard until the end of WWll. Willard had been overseas for about five years of the war, fighting in Italy, Sicily and Holland, and being seriously wounded in the Battle of Cassino in Italy; his family back home in rural New Brunswick were notified that he was "Missing in Action" But he was later found, and recovered from his wounds. At the end of the war, Willard wrote a Marriage Proposal to Marjorie, stating the date he would be in London. She never got the letter!!! He showed up, the wedding was arranged in a day, the church booked, and nearby family and friends attended.
Marjorie contracted rheumatic fever, and she could not go to Canada for another year. She sailed on the Queen Mary in 1946, and Willard met her ship in Halifax, after driving through the terrible Miramichi Fire, road blocks, smoke, and burning areas.
Marjorie never did see her parents again. She wrote almost daily, her mother dying first, and her father several years later. Her brother, Vic, took his own life, not able to live with the memories of war, his whole crew being killed on a mission he had to miss as he had been shot in a previous mission.
Jobs were scarce after WWll. Willard got jobs digging ditches on roads between NB and Maine, cooking at logging camps and as a farmhand. Marjorie moved around with him sometimes, and lived with her mother-in-law sometimes. He saved enough money to move to Moncton, NB where he took an Electrician's course, leading to careers at Canadian Gypsum and Westinghouse, and Marjorie, as a secretary, finally buying a home in Riverview, NB, where they lived for most of their lives; they had two children, Shelley, who became a Pharmacist, and Greg, an Engineer, and six grandchildren.
The WAR was rarely mentioned in the home. Remembrance Day was always solemn, with Marjorie in tears, and Willard having a drink. Amazing there were not more solemn days! Marjorie was always optimistic, seeing the best in everyone, and kept on smiling, never giving up! She was dearly loved by all who knew her!
This edited story was written by Marjorie MacDonald's daughter, Shelley.
KATHLEEN ELIZABETH WARD
Many of you may remember Margaret Kell Virany, a member of our congregation. She wrote two books, "A Book of Kells" and "Kathleen's Cariole RIde". Tom Virany recently gave me a copy of the latter, which contains the story of the courtship and marriage of Margaret's father John (Jack) Kell, a Canadian gunner on a trawler in the North Sea and English Channel in WWI, and her mother Kathleen Ward, of Portsmouth, England. The Ward family invited the 20-year-old Canadian sailor and others to their home for Christmas 1924.
On his return to Canada, Jack and Kathleen's sister Enid corresponded, until Enid married and moved to Australia. Kathleen then began writing to Jack and he responded. Jack would become one of the first thirteen ministers ordained in the newly formed United Church of Canada. Correspondence continued until Jack had the opportunity to visit England before taking up his job at Oxford House, northern Manitoba, as a missionary.
In 1927, Jack was able to once again visit the Ward family in England. The letters must have been magical, because Kathleen agreed to marry him and join him in his missionary work in Canada. Jack arrived October 25th, wed Kathleen November 2nd, and returned to Canada alone November 5th, not wanting to take his bride to northern Manitoba in winter, and Kathleen waited in England to prepare her trousseau.
Finally, on May 14th the following year, Kathleen and Jack were re-united when her ship arrived in Montreal. Margaret Virany wrote that her mother was "Canada's last WW1 warbride".
Wishing each of you a Happy Valentine's Day.
At the beginning of Covid-19, I was gung ho to use the time I now had on my hands to clear our junk and sort cupboards and drawers. Who can relate to that! However, as the months rolled on, I did less and less sorting and more and more reading and going jigsaw puzzles when I wasn't gardening, and since fall doing genealogy. I wonder how many have found we now have time to do different things we didn't have time to do when we were out and about shopping or visiting with friends and relatives. Of course, for many there is less and less time while trying to work and manage while children are home instead of at school. How quickly our lives have changed.
Will we all go back to the way things were, I wonder. It seems to me, I've been keeping in better touch with family and friends thanks to technology. Of course it's not the same as getting together in person. However, one day we will be free to gather and to travel.
I wonder how our ancestors felt as they left their homeland knowing that they might never again see the family they were leaving behind. Many of mine left because of their religious beliefs, so strong that they were willing to give up everything to start anew in a foreign country. Some were protestants in Catholic France; others were Methodists in northern England: and then there were the radical Puritans. I wonder how many of us, were our religious beliefs opposed by the Government, would be willing to pack up and go where we could practice freely. Hmmm, where could we go? Would we fight to preserve the rights of people of other religious beliefs to practice their faith? Who's to say which religious beliefs are the right ones.
How truly blessed we are to have our faith in God and the right to practice our religion freely. I pray that we may continue to do so.
Hoping to see you at the Sunday Communion service with Reverend Paula Mullin and the Annual General Meeting following the service.
How many of us worry about things that might never happen? Why are our worries about negative things? My Mom was a super duper worrier. I asked her one time why she worried about whether one of my nephews would get a steady job - why not worry that he'll obtain a great job with good pay! Are you a worrier?
I tend to worry, too, but not about so much. My main worry now is how to keep our congregation together. On Sunday there were 24 of us. For a while, there were 30 or more each Sunday. So, I worry. What can I say to bring the people of our congregation to our services? How long can we continue as a congregation without more people taking on roles and more importantly raising their hand or calling and volunteering? How long can we survive without a minister? Will our furnace give out during the winter? What will we do if people don't come back to Aylmer United when we finally reopen? Will there be enough at the Annual General Meeting for us to even hold it! Lots to worry about.
So I ask you - and I really want to know - if you belong to our congregation, why are you not supporting those who put in hours each week to organize our Zoom Sunday services? If you are reading this message online, then you are capable of "coming" to church. And just think - you don't need to put on your coat, boots, etc., or find a place to park! In the comfort of your own home, you can join the service!
On February 7 following the service, after a quick break, we'll be holding our 2019/2020 combined Annual General Meeting. Can we count on you to be there!
So tonight as I pray, I'll do so for our congregation and, as I always do, for God's help to keep our congregation together.
God bless each and every one of you and your families,