Thinking about our freedom

canada day 2015


Happy Canada Day to all.

We spent our day at the Stratford Festival, enjoying the Sound of Music.

The singing is beautiful. There are many moving moments of music in the production. Mother Abbess, Anita Krause, has a voice of both power and sweetness.

I particularly enjoyed Edelweiss, sung by Ben Carlson as Captain von Trapp, as the family is facing the loss of their father because the Nazis are demanding he join their navy. As he sings “Bless my homeland forever,” I thought about Canada and the many freedoms and blessings we enjoy here.

What is the most important privilege we have as Canadians?




Latest book out in Castle Lake series by local author

Woodstock writer Tom Ryerson has completed a new book.

It’s called Castle Lake Grave Reckoning and is the third book in his Castle Lake series.

Here is a description of the book:

In the first volume of Castle Lake, sixteen year old Alicia Murdock fought and conquered the evil spirit of William Fick with the help of her family, and narrowly survived.

In this brand new volume however, the odds are stacked wickedly against her. The spirit of William’s daughter, Lorra Anne is out for pure vengeance, and Alicia is fighting for her life at the Girl’s Academy of Learning in Landmark. It’s just her, her wits, and the help of a new friend pitted against the dark forces of black magic. Will seventeen year old Alicia Murdock live past October 28th 1889?

I have interviewed Ryerson in the past and he always keeps me informed of what he’s up to.

Ryerson will be doing a reading on Sunday, May 3 in Port Dover at the Authors’ Book Fair there.

His scheduled time is 1 p.m.

If you’re out for a drive on Sunday – it’s supposed to be a beautiful day – stop in to Port Dover and see Tom.

The fair is at Lakewood Elementary School, which is in the same building as the Norfolk County Public Library, 713 St. George St.

Here’s more information about the book fair:

Forever an Islanders fan


Still feeling down about the New York Islanders loss on Monday to the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.

It was a game that could have gone either way.

What is remarkable to me is just how much players believed they were going to win the Stanley Cup. Some were in downright shock about the loss after the game when doing interviews with the media. They thought they were not only going to win Game 7 but go on to win the Cup. I like that winning attitude.

What made the loss more discomforting was that the Isles played their final game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island.

Opened in 1972, it was the only home of the Islanders who were the last dynastic team in the NHL. While the Oilers won 4 Cups in 5 years, they only managed two Cup wins in a row, while the Isles had four consecutive.

The arena was built on Mitchel Field, which was a former Army/Air Force base. It was dedicated to those who lost their lives in service to their country.

The players made this a special year, exceeding all expectations.

Last Saturday afternoon, they played their final game at the Coliseum.

Although my son had a hockey awards event and party, I opted to stay home and watch the game. While it was a hard decision, it was one I’m glad I made.

It was incredibly exciting to watch the game and I can’t imagine what it was like in the arena. Coach Jack Capuano was hoarse after the game because he had to yell at his players so they could hear him. That’s how loud it was in there all game long.

It turned out to be the final game at the venue and it was a victory. The players saluted the fans after the game and it was a highlight.

The game was intense, hard-hitting and skillful. One of the best games I’ve ever watched.

I’ve been an Islanders fans since I was a little girl. My father taught one of the Islanders, Wayne Merrick.

I loved their goalie, Chico Resch and had his hockey card when I was young.

As hard as it was for me to see the team lose Monday, it was even sadder to listen to the players as they cleared out their lockers for the last time at the venue, chock full of memories.

“It’s going to be tough to say good-bye to this rink,” says Isles defenceman Thomas Hickey, who remembers walking through the seats when he first arrived at the building and looking up to see the historic banners.

“I’ll never forget it,” defenceman Calvin de Haan says of the building and the fans this final season. “It’s kind of depressing. It’s a second home. We spent a lot of time in this building. You learn to love it. It’s not the most glamorous building, but it’s home.”

Here’s more from forward Cal Clutterbuck as he talks about scoring the final goal in the arena and what the building, fans and atmosphere meant to the team:

On a happy note today, John Tavares has been named a Hart Trophy finalist as most valuable player.

Sentence handed down in stabbing death

adelaide street

Almost three years after 19-year-old Londoner Jared McKnight was stabbed to death, the man responsible was handed his sentence.

It was not the sentence McKnight’s family had hoped for.

While the Crown was asking for nine years, Perry Eggett Jr., 25, received an eight-year sentence. For time already served, he’ll be eligible for release in three years and seven months. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to manslaughter.

In her ruling, Justice Helen Rady told the court Tuesday Jared’s death was, “An utterly senseless death that shouldn’t have happened.”

Eggett stabbed McKnight in the chest on May 12, 2012 – after he mistook him for his younger brother Jordan McKnight.

On Monday, Eggett told the court that he regretted what he had done saying, “I wish it never happened and I could take it back.”

Jared’s mother, Lori Scott, who has left comments on this blog, said, “I just want to see [Eggett] never see the light of day, the same way my son is. That’s basically what I would want to see as a mother, but it won’t happen.”

I came upon the scene shortly after the stabbing on Adelaide Street near Hamilton Road.

I talked to people on site and broke the news that Eggett had been the perpetrator.

Here’s one of my earlier stories.

I wish to offer condolences again to the family. After waiting so long for the case to wrap up, it seems the wait behind bars for the man who killed McKnight isn’t nearly long enough.

And CTV London’s coverage from Monday:

Haunting connection to murder case


Murdered Sarnia teen Karen Caughlin disappeared from the same street where I grew up. In fact she was last seen just across the road from where I lived on Brock St. S.
OPP brought the case forward again this month on the 41st anniversary of her disappearance.
In the early morning hours of March 16, 1974, I would have been sleeping soundly in my bed when the 14-year-old was taken and murdered.
My second-floor bedroom window looked down on that side of the street and the house where she was dropped off by friends just before 1 a.m. was visible from my vantage point. It was the home of two girls who used to babysit my brother and I. Their family was expecting her.
I often looked out my bedroom window onto the street below, but not that night. At least not that I remember. I was too young and have no memory of what happened at the time. It was only as I grew older that I learned about Karen’s murder and disappearance.
Karen lived farther up on Brock Street. I walked by her house often through the years.
OPP Det.-Insp. Chris Avery talks about the case in a seven-minute video that was created last year and released again this year with the hope the information revealed may lead to some tips. Apparently it has, with police saying the video generated new information.
Karen’s body was found on Plowing Match Road near Petrolia, nine hours after she was last seen.
My mother remembers learning the terrible news.
Like other parents in the neighbourhood, she became hyper-alert.
Was a killer lurking?
She says the police never came to talk our family to see if anyone might have seen something that night.
Whenever I think about this case, I remember a man who walked along Brock Street when kids would be coming home from school. There were a lot of children in our neighbourhood.
He would invite kids into his house. I don’t know where he lived, but it must have been nearby as I saw him frequently. Nobody ever took him up on the offer that I know.
The man had a sly smile on his face that was always present. I used to think how fake he seemed. I wondered why he never talked to adults.
I was afraid of him. Even as a child I knew to avoid him because of the unequivocal negative reaction I experienced whenever I saw him.
I pointed him out to my mother one day when I spotted him in a grocery store. She took one look and told me to stay far away from him.
There may be no connection to the Caughlin case, but he was a sinister presence in my neighbourhood. Certainly the kids who lived along Brock Street would often see this stranger walking by whenever there were a lot of children present.
A few years after the tragedy, my father was offered a teaching position at the high school in Petrolia and we moved out to the county.
That re-location gave me cause to drive by Plowing Match Road many times. I don’t know the spot where Karen’s body was found. I don’t want to know.
It sparks some fear in me, all these years later and it’s a case I feel connected to. As time passes, I still think about the Caughlin family.
I can understand their sorrow more now than when I was a child. I also have a 14-year-old of my own.
He loves to hang out with his friends and longs for independence. Are my decisions about what I allow him to do clouded by Karen’s fate?
The face of a beautiful young girl who disappeared on the street below where I slept peacefully can’t be forgotten.

Don Cherry promotes organ donation

The London Knights are raising awareness about organ donation with the help of Don Cherry.

Cherry will be at the Knights game Thursday against Kitchener.

He will be involved in the opening ceremony. The Kidney Foundation of Canada will also be on hand.

Cherry has been involved in donor awareness for some time. His daughter donated a kidney to his son, who had kidney failure, in the 1970s.

A couple of years ago, he donated a beloved vehicle to the kidney foundation which resells and recycles used vehicles.

There are more ways than ever to let your wishes be known about organ donation.

Yesterday I installed the latest operating system on my iPhone. It automatically included a health app. On that app, which allows emergency personnel to see any medical conditions or allergies you have in an emergency, you can click a box if you wish to donate organs.

For more information about Cherry’s big night in London, here is a link:

Music uplifts, inspires and transcends time


After 20 years of waiting to see country superstar Garth Brooks perform, I get my chance tonight.

Known as a superlative entertainer, Brooks was able to generate enough interest to hold six concerts in Detroit!

His energy, sincerity and love of entertaining have people scrambling to get tickets wherever he plays.

At last Saturday night’s concert – which was a rare 10:30 start due to the fact he played a concert earlier that evening – he was on stage until 2 a.m.

Twitter has been buzzing about his concerts all week.

The song that really shot Brooks to fame was his 1990s hit Friends in Low Places.

For me and my friends, that was a time in our lives in which we were bustling to get ahead in life.

Friends in Low Places became an anthem for a generation studying hard, then trying to find a job in a recession. There was post-secondary education and bills. Trying to figure out what you wanted to do and who you wanted to be.

We didn’t have a lot of clout or influence and Brooks nailed our feelings with this single.

One of my baseball teammates loves the song Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen, which is about the singer’s friend who was an amazing ball player. She says it makes her get all “tingly” whenever she hears it.

Music has a way of evoking strong memories that transcend time: That dance with your boyfriend; the trip to Florida; your first car with a radio that blasted the tunes.

Love to hear about a song that awakens a memory for you that will never fade.