Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wine & Cheese

On May 27th, I attended a Wine & Cheese party that was a fundraiser for my chapter, Friendship-Victoria Chapter, that was held at the home of Brother Gordie and Sister Anita Young. This has almost become an annual event and is enjoyed by everyone. I believe there were about 30 people in attendance. Although it was a rainy day, we still enjoyed the fun, fellowship and delicious cheese and pat├ęs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Grand Lodge Communications

On May 26th, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Lodge of Quebec’s Annual Communication held at the Montreal Masonic Temple, along with Sister Anita Young, P.G.M., Grand Secretary. In the morning we were introduced, along with all the other Distinguished Guests, after which I was invited to bring greetings on behalf of the Eastern Star. It is very intimidating to walk into a room nearly 200 men! It was also very warm, however when speaking, I had the pleasure of having a fan behind me that was giving off a nice breeze! After speaking, we watched the presentation of the flags. This is an especially nice thing to see, as they were presented by members of the RCMP (who, of course, are Masons). It turns out that one of these Mounties, who is stationed in Ottawa, works with my cousin who is also a Mountie (but not a Mason). After we left the Temple, Sister Anita and I went to the hotel where the hospitality room was and changed our clothes. We decided to go for lunch while we waited for the Ladies to return from a tour of the Biodome.

In the evening, we returned to the Temple where we met up with the WGP, Brother Bill, and his wife Sister Fabienne, Grand Marshal. We then attended the Open Installation of the new Grand Officers. It was a wonderful site to see, as again I have never attended the Installation before, as they are not always open to everyone. In a way, this was an historical event, as the new Grand Master, Opkar Sandhu, is the first Sikh to be installed as a Grand Master outside of India.

After the Installations, we all attended the Banquet, which was just superb. The meal began with some wonderful Indian hors d’oeuvres and then I had a rack of lamb (although, it was so big I think I had the whole lamb!). After the banquet some wonderful Indian dancers entertained us.

This is the second year that I have attended the Grand Lodge Communications as last year I attended on behalf of our then Worthy Grand Matron. This is one event that I am going to miss when my year is over.

Another Committee Meeting!

On May 16th, I attended another meeting of the Committee on Arrangements. They are doing a fantastic job this year in planning events. Of course, I once again got kicked out of the meeting when it came time for them to discuss the banquet and the decorations at the Sessions. Unfortunately, Brother Bill was not able to attend as he was working second shift this week.

Royal Arch Masons

On May 10th, I attended the banquet for the Royal Arch Masons, along with the WGP, Brother Bill and Sister Anita Young, G.G.C.C.M., Grand Secretary that was held in Granby, QC. We enjoyed a wonderful cocktail hour before hand where we had the opportunity to meet a lot of the Masons and their wives. It is surprising how many I already knew, as many of them are also members of the Eastern Star.

On May 11th, Sister Brenda Stone, AGM and I returned to Granby to attend the Ladies Luncheon. As the Ladies were late in getting back from their shopping tour, then Men invited us to join them. I had the pleasure of sitting with the Most Worshipful Grand Master, John Prosnick. After the luncheon, Sister Brenda and I were invited to attend the Open Installation of the new Officers. As this was the first time that I had ever attended this, I found it quite interesting.

Official Visit – Fidelity Chapter #55

On May 9th we had our Official Visit to Fidelity Chapter in Pierrefonds, QC. This was a special evening, not only because it was our Official Visit, but because they initiated a new member. This makes 5 new members for Fidelity Chapter since December. Congratulations!

Because of the Initiation, the Worthy Matron did not have a special ceremony for us in order that the meeting would not last all night. They did, however, present a donation to my special project in which I thank them very much. I also had the pleasure of presenting a Certificate of Appreciation and gold Thistle Pin to Brother Simon Vauclair, their Marshal.

After the meeting we all sat down to a wonderfully buffet supper. The beautiful centerpieces on the table were plant holders with African Violets in them. The planters are made out of pottery and had thistle decals on them. The Worthy Patron’s wife, Sister Diane Evans, who is one of our Grand Trustees, made them. These were raffled off to the members, although I had the pleasure of being given one. The WGP was given a hanging planter basket for his garden.

As it was only a few days before Mother’s Day, I chose to speak on Mothers – mine in particular.

Chapter Talk – The Woman in the Faded Photograph

Worthy Matron, Worthy Patron, WGP, GGCCM’s, all Distinguished Guests, Sisters & Brothers. Thank you Worthy Matron for the warm welcome this evening. As always, it is a pleasure to be here tonight. Since Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, I thought I would talk about Mothers. Actually, one particular Mother – mine. As you all know, this year is in dedicated to the memory of my mother, Sister Rhona Kay, who passed away 3 1/2 years ago. Mom and I were initiated together in 1991, and many of you who knew her know what a great person she was.

During the years that passed from when I was born until my sisters and I moved away from home, my mother didn’t have a job. If she had been asked to fill out a questionnaire about her personal data, she would have left the question “Employment” empty. She believed that her job was to be our mother – full time. That was the way she had chosen it to be.

Here is an old yellowed photograph of my mother. In the photo I think she looks very beautiful. She was about 16 years old then. When I look at the photo, I see a woman who could have had an unlimited number of opportunities in life. Although she didn’t always look it, Mom was a tough bird.

Like a lot of people her age, she had a rough childhood. She grew up in Scotland during the worst of the Second World War. Many a time she could be found hiding under her bed, because of the bombings near by. That is, when she wasn’t busy getting into trouble. Mom had six sisters and brothers. Three were off serving their country and the oldest was always working, so that left the three youngest kids plenty of time to get into trouble! In 1946, at the age of 13, she immigrated to Canada with two of her sisters, the oldest being a War Bride. They arrived in Halifax and then rode the train to Balcarres, Saskatchewan to live on a farm, and with a new family she had never met. Coming from the modern city of Dundee to a farm, she always said she never knew what was worse, the war or not having indoor plumbing! Although mom quit school at 16 years old she never let that stop her. She was never one to sit around. She would always be out working – be it on the farm, at the local hospital or at a seafood canning plant in Toronto where they once spent the winter. I know that if she had put her mind to getting a career, the whole world would have been at her feet. Yet she always contemplated herself as housewife and mother.

Mom got married at 20 years old to Allan Farrell, a boy from the next farm. Allan, my father, was a diabetic since the age of 13. Due to complications, he passed away at the age of 35 leaving my mother a widow with 3 kids at the tender age of 28 (by this time we had moved to the “Big City” of Moose Jaw). Two years later mom re-married a family friend who lived in St. Lambert (his sister, Sister Helen Kay, was married to my dad’s brother! That’s a whole other story!). As soon as we moved here, Mom got involved in the Women’s Church Guild. She became a constant worker at the church bazaars and rummage sales and later, as we grew up, with the Girl Guides. She was an avid crocheter and made a lot of afghans. Everyone in the neighborhood we grew up in admired her for the great effort she put into charity work, but if someone asker her what she did for a living or who she was, she answered that she was Douglas Kay’s wife, and Judy, Heather and Alana’s mother.

The thing I remember best from my childhood is how it felt to come home from school. She was always there and when we swarmed through the door, she was getting supper ready to put on the table. Today there are probably many women who will see what she did as a waste of her good abilities. Why would a determined woman be content with making soup and sandwiches? I don’t know the answer myself. But it must have been good for something when I, many years later, still remember how it felt to rush through the kitchen door – and there was mum, waiting for us. I just wish I could have given that to my daughter.

I belong to a generation who by and large grew up in families with mothers who were home all day. And there is no way I could have had a better childhood. If my mother suffered privations from being a housewife not working away from home, she did not transfer any of them to us, her children. And whatever we may have of good qualities, we have because we had a mother who considered it her job to be our mother.

We live in a time where the notion “conscience” has become very confused. We all have to be so smart that sometimes it looks as if we can explain away anything and everything. In the middle of all the confusion, it is actually very reassuring to know that you always have a simple rule of thumb: how would I act if my mother could see me right now?

In a way I think that we in our generation have fooled ourselves into believing that we can reinvent the whole world and alter the fundamental rules of life overnight. But deep inside we all know that we are actually the same people we were at the time our mothers could look into our eyes and see what we had done without needing to exchange one word. And believe me, in my case that happened a lot! I remember that as a little girl I believed that there were monsters living in my closet. Before I could fall asleep, I had to have mum chase them out of my room. Only then could I sleep.

I’m shrinking a little as I read this. But only if I tell it exactly the way it was can I explain what I mean: most of the time in our lives we have to chase out the monsters from our closets ourselves. But during a few short years in the beginning of our lives, our mother takes care of them for us.

Today I think that many women would be afraid of a life like the one my mother had. So many things have changed that if an intelligent woman would have to do today as my mother did then – devote herself to a husband and children – she would not only feel that her options were limited, but she would also feel outright threatened. I hope that my mother felt that she did the right thing.

We all go through our adult life with the conception that we have never been anything but fully developed grownups. But we have; we have all been small children once, who hurried home from school completely assured that someone was waiting for us at home. It meant something then and it means something today. And I am eternally grateful that the woman in the yellowed photograph was waiting for me.

I want to thank you Worthy Matron, for allowing my Bible to rest on your Altar tonight. As you all know, this is the Bible that was presented to me by Sister Marion Loffelmann, P.G.M., at my Installation, which she in turn received it from Sister Alta Fowler, P.G.M. At the end of the meeting, I would like you and the Worthy Patron to both sign it. The beautiful Bible marker was hand painted by Sister Louise Wilkinson, P.G.M. I hope everyone takes a chance to have a look. I also want to thank you Worthy Matron for using my gavel tonight. This is the gavel that was presented to me by my mom and my sister, Sister Heather, when I was installed as Worthy Matron of Friendship-Victoria chapter.

I would also ask that after the meeting the Chapter Officers and the Grand Officers remain for pictures. Thank you again, Worthy Matron, for all your courtesies tonight and for your wonderful donation to my Special Project. It is very much appreciated.

Highland Games

As our theme this year is all things Scottish, our Committee on Arrangements planned a “mock” Highland Games”. This took place in Stanbridge East on May 6th. What a fun-filled, hilarious day it was. My ribs are going to be so sore from laughing by the time this year is over! Before the games started, we enjoyed a wonderful social gathering, during which we also formed our teams. My team was of course called the Marshall Team (as that is my actual clan). One team called the Yaxley Team (or should I say the McYaxley’s) actually had T-shirts printed up with their team name on it. Our Grand Sentinel, Doug Black brought along his family and they wore black T-Shirts. Doug’s wife, Helen, whose maiden name is White brought her family and they all wore white T-shirts, hence the Black & White Team! I believe there were about 12 teams total.

The games themselves were hilarious. We had the Sword Dance (where you had to try and be the first to get your tidly wink over the sword first), the sheaf toss (where you had to carry a Wheatabix between two sticks to your team mate), the Cabor Toss (where you had to shoot a decorated toothpick into a net), the Highland Fling (where you had to fling a tennis ball from a bra. When it came time for my team to do this, we broke the bra!), the Stone Throw (trying to get a water filled balloon into a mug – I won first prize on this event. Don’t ask me how I did that, but I won’t argue!). The last event was a Clan Relay. We were given a slimy, gel filled tube that we had to hold behind our back and run to pass to our team mate. We had to pass this to our team mate with our backs turned to each other. This event was not easy as the tube was very slippery and kept falling out our hands.

There was also a penalty of $1.00 for anyone who was not wearing tartan (of which I had to pay!). The Black and White team decided that they were going to oppose this fine by making their own Black and White tartan. Do you think it was justified?

After all the games were finished we sat down to a delicious meal made up of all different Scottish foods. Of course, the meal began with the parade of the Haggis. I had the honour of carrying in the haggis, accompanied by Brother Bill, WGP, after which Sister Bobby Hall, P.G.M. recited the Ode to a Haggis and of course, the Toast.

After the meal, we had the presentation of Trophies. These were all engraved with the Event title and which prize it was for.

Here are all the cooks hard at work and "The Boss", MacBobby Hall:

This was such a super day and I thank the Committee on Arrangements for all their hard work. The money raised for this event will be used to help finance our Grand Sessions in October.

Divine Service

On May 6th, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Lodge District Divine Service in Hemmingford, QC, organized by Brother Doug Black, Grand Sentinel. I believe this was one of his last Official Acts as DDGM. This was the second Divine Service that I attended this year and I really enjoy them. After the service, we all enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch. I had a nice surprise after the service. I met a gentleman, Mr. Jean Paul Letourneau who lives in Clarenceville. I used to live next door to Jean Paul and used to babysit his son, John. Jean Paul is a former police officer with the St. Lambert Police Department. After his retirement, he and his wife bought a farm and moved to Clarenceville. I hadn’t seen him in about 15 years, so it was very nice to see him again.

After the Divine Service, I drove out to Stanbridge East to attend a “mock” Highland Games.