John Lennons and Otrazhenies – So Needed Now

24 Aug

Averroës - an Islamic/Aristotelian philosopher from 12th C. Spain during its golden age centred in Córdova

Averroës – an Islamic/Aristotelian philosopher from 12th C. Spain during its golden age centred in Córdova

Woke up this morning late to the local 7 AM CBC Toronto news on our clock radio. That’s late for me. Lately I’ve been waking up at 4:30 AM with all sorts of timely crap buzzing around in my head.

The radio is an alarm – this morning it was more than that – it was alarming. There were half a dozen items – five wars and Harper visiting the Arctic to stake out Canada’s claim to part of the high Arctic – and, of course, the rights of the “Canadian People” to drill for oil there. Or, more accurately, the right of that same nebulous, convenient, idea, the “Canadian People”, to let foreign multinationals drill there and scoop up most of the profits.

On our regular 4 km walk before breakfast, I reflected on how harmful and obsolete the ideas of nation, state, race, creed, etc. have become. I had just read Otrazhenie’s heart-rending poem/post, War Is Evil, War is the Devil…. The raw emotion and deep insight in this piece touched me vividly. Otrazhenie is a person whose grandmother was Ukrainian and grandfather was Russian, as revealed in her post A Prayer for Ukraine. Her youthful summers visiting relatives in a coal-mining town in the Ukraine in the 1980’s are related in this delightful, candid and carefully crafted post, Private Mousen.

In these days of intermarriage there are a growing number of people like Otrazhenie who see the big picture. That is one of the few hopeful things on this planet.

We need to see all humans as one. More than that – we need to see all life as One. Creeds and borders must become things of the past, as must the hatreds that spring both from genuine persecution and manipulative, profit-centred propaganda.

All this made me remember John Lennon’s song, Imagine, and feel it more deeply than ever. It is truly a recipe for what ails the human spirit.

Jerez, Sanlúcar and Zahara – April, 2011

18 Aug

Morning ride at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir

Morning ride at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir

Early one morning we left Córdova, the richly complex and cultured capital of Moorish Spain from the seventh to the eleventh centuries (see my post on Córdova). We drove our little Eurocar rental about 2.5 hours to Jerez in the southern province of Cádiz, visited Jerez then went on to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in one, hectic day in April, 2011.

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a city on the Atlantic at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir, as the Moors called it – the Great River – which the Spanish spell Guadalquivir. It is one corner of the “sherry triangle” and here a pale, dry sherry with a faint salty taste is made. It is called Manzanilla wine.

But first, Jerez:

We arrived in Jerez from Córdoba just in time for the 10:30 AM Sandeman Bodega tour. We were told about Sanlúcar’s unique drink by Velia, a semi-retired Melbourne, Australia teacher whom we met with her husband Ron while tasting several of the famous Sandeman sherries. She and her husband travel (backpack only) from Feb ’til July every year. We then attended, with our Aussies-well-met,  the incredible Royal Andalusian School of Horsemanship show in Jerez.

The world-renowned Horse Show put on by La Real Escuela Andaluza Del Arte Equestre featured Andalusian horses doing what seemed like dozens of dance steps in time with Spanish music. The costumes, braided manes and tails and ornate halters and saddlery were varied and beautiful. this is not the best show of horsemanship in the world it certainly must be as good as it gets: absolutely stunning – visually, musically and emotionally. Continue reading

MH17 – A Continuing Study Of Mass Media Self-Censorship

13 Aug

Fuselage of MH17 cockpit area appears to be riddled by many ~30 mm bullet holes. Credit:

I have decided to adapt my post of August 13 into an ongoing, updated “research project.”

Below, organized with the most recent stuff on top, are the results of the research I have done since deciding to act on what seemed obvious to me early on as an orchestrated Blame Russia Chorus by our dangerously provocative Western Media. All I’m saying, folks, is that the behaviour of the media surely point to the possibility of a deliberate attempt to blame Putin’s Russia, regardless of whether it is fact or fiction.

It is not my purpose here to present both sides, but to highlight the fact that one side is being systematically ignored (Russian evidence and the bullet-hole observations of Michael Bociurkiw, the Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with OSCE who was one of the very first to arrive at the crash site). I present here the ignored opinions of thoughtful observers. You and I can find as much as we want of the mainstream side. I acknowledge that I cannot know with certainty what agency is responsible for this horrible tragedy that happened on July 17, 2014. Sometimes the ugliest truths are kept secret for decades.

Here are my findings:

August 21 – A thoughtful Guardian article that points out how foolishly dangerous the anti-Putin rhetoric is. Backing a bear into a corner, indeed.

August 19 – Russia’s English language media source,, reports that, at a UN Security Council meeting called by Russia, their UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin was concerned about why information possessed by the Ukraine government was being withheld and UN’s air watchdog, the ICAO, seems to have been excluded from the investigation.

A quote from Churkin:

“How are the Ukrainians playing their part in the international investigation? What comes to mind: they must provide the records of communications of their air traffic controllers so that we could understand why they directed the Malaysian plane into the conflict zone.”

Here’s the link to thus far, the only media report of this UN meeting that I can find when I google MH17 news.

And, later, in second place… the Daily Mail reports it. Good for you, Daily Mail. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?


August 14 – American Pravda: Who Shot Down Flight MH17 in Ukraine? by Ron Unz, an intelligent Republican. Mr. Unz boasts an IQ over 200. (That makes him very unusual – unique, perhaps in U.S. politics ;)

Continue reading

A Garden Speaks

13 Aug

A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden

A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden

A messy garden doesn’t reveal much about the occupant – basically like you have other priorities in life, leaving your neighbours to guess – or inquire – what they might be. You remain a private and, to the house-proud, a frustrating enigma.

A well-gardened property says a lot about who you are and what you value. It says that you have an eye for beauty if it’s mostly flowers and shrubs. Plantings of tomatoes, beans or onions on their own or among the flowers says you like fresh, home-grown fruit and/or vegetables. Our garden is mostly beauty with some edible stuff mixed in. We have several gardens, a small shed and a two-story house on our ~ 50′ by 145′ lot. We bought this place in 1985. It was one year old then, so we get the credit or the blame for how it looks now.

In the mid-1970’s I planted some corn outside our ground floor apartment in Etobicoke. It was cool to wake up and see the corn stalks waving in the morning breeze through our bedroom window. The message to our neighbours was probably that we were a little nuts. I was raised in the city, so there was no nostalgia involved. I didn’t say that a garden reveals everything about you.

Continue reading

Sunday In Pamplona

5 Aug


Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument

Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument

This is an email I sent to friends and family a year ago April that I just re-read today. Thought it would make a good post with some photos and a little editing:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breakfast at a cafeteria 50 m from our Pension Arrieta.

Also found the bus station (for tomorrow’s departure to Órbigo) 3 minutes walk from our door.

Viewed the mountains from the fortified lookout: El Rincón del Caballo Blanco:

Took in high mass (missa capitular) at Santa María Cathedral. Surprised that the Latin Gloria was still stored in my brain cells. Beautiful pipe organ :))) Great singing if you’re OK with all men’s voices. Unparalleled setting.

Presbytery - Pamplona Cathedral

Presbytery – Pamplona Cathedral (on Saturday

Met Jesús and Pinte outside the cathedral while looking at our map to find the beginning of the San Fermin bull run route. Jesús was dressed in black with the classic large black beret worn by Basques here. They assumed we needed serious help (we didn’t) and walked us to the Coralillos where 6 fierce and 6 less fierce bulls are corralled prior to the run. Continue reading

MH17 – A Curious Lack of Curiosity

5 Aug

A Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who arrived at the scene while the MH17 plane’s wreckage was still smoking and stayed to help organize, described evidence of seeming machine gun fire  and none of a ground-to-air missile attack.

He did so in a CBC interview with Susan Ormiston aired July 29. Ormiston asked him directly about evidence of a missile attack. Michael Bociurkiw’s response  lasts from 6:01 t0 6:40 in this 8-minute video.

Judging by the way the video was edited, Ormiston’s crew were interested in continuing to present this horrible tragedy in a way that would cause public outrage and continue to fuel the fires of hatred of Putin’s Russia. Shoes, childrens’ books, toys, notes-to-self, travel guides etc. etc…. This they probably succeeded in achieving.

Ironically, however, the video also shows – in the short statement by Michael Bociurkiw on “machine gun” evidence – that there may be some truth to the theory that MH17 was brought down by two Ukrainian fighter jets. Continue reading


1 Aug
Strawberry Hills Swimming Pool

Strawberry Hills Swimming Pool

On April 6 we flew to Jamaica and began a fascinating 8-day adventure by car. We traveled with old friends, W and B. W was born and raised in Trinidad. Almost 50 years ago W and I taught chem and math in the same secondary school in southeast Trinidad. We go back. Lots of stories and laughs then and since. Continue reading


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