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.

Official Visit – Victory Chapter #34

On May 4th, we had our Official Visit to Victory Chapter in Hemmingford, QC, and once again we had a super time. We had originally planned this Official Visit in March however it had to be postponed due to a major snow storm. Unfortunately, the Worthy Matron, Sister Florence Ellerton, P.G.M., who had everything all planned, was unfortunately not able to attend as she was in the hospital after suffering a minor heart attack. The Associate Matron, Sister Fabienne Winter stood in and did a wonderful job. Before the meeting began, one of the members on my Committee on Arrangements and a member of this chapter, Sister Gael Montpetit, gave me a beautiful key ring with the Celtic Cross on it. She got it in Ireland when she was there in March.

The chapter honoured three of my Grand Officers, Sisters Fabienne Winter, Grand Marshal (and wife of the WGP, Brother Bill) and Evelyn Shaw, Grand Adah and Brother Doug Black, Grand Sentinel.

I had the pleasure of presenting a Grand Representatives Commission to Sister Eileen Campbell to the state of Indiana. I was also pleased to present a second Certificate of Appreciation to Brother Terry Radford, P.G.P. for being the chapter’s Marshal. Brother Terry had already received a certificate and gold Thistle pin at the Official Visit of Rosemount-St. Lambert Chapter in March, so on this night I gave the gold Thistle pin to his wife, Sister Brenda Shaw Radford, P.G.M.

The Worthy Matron, Sister Florence, planned a wonderful ceremony for the WGP and I. I was presented with a cute little stuffed Lock Ness Monster and then we were escorted to each of the Star Points. Each Star Point read a continuous poem about Lock Ness and then presented me with a donation to my Special Project. Each of the Star Points read a verse from the song Greased Lightening from the movie Grease for the Worthy Grand Patron and then presented him with a donation to his Special Project. After we were taken back to the East, the complete song was then played. The Worthy Matron Pro-tem then presented me with another gift from the Worthy Matron – another tiny Lock Ness monster with another donation and also a couple of books on the Lock Ness Monster. It was another fun ceremony and I’m collecting quite a few little critters along the way!

After we returned to the East, I was surprised to be presented with an Honorary Membership to Victory Chapter. This is quite an honour and I will cherish it always.

After the meeting, we enjoyed a delicious social hour, after which a few of us told a few jokes. Usually when I visit Victory Chapter, I just listen to all the jokes, not participating myself. However, I had been saving up all year and finally got up the nerve to tell one myself, because it had a Scottish theme. If you want to hear it, you will have to ask me in person, as I’m not posting it here!!

As my Chapter Talk, I chose to speak on the meaning of the Masonic Blue Slipper.

Chapter Talk – The Masonic Blue Slipper

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 real pleasure to be here tonight. I almost consider this my 3rd chapter now because of my ties with Brother Bill and Sister Fabienne.

How many of you are familiar with the Masonic blue slipper? It is a small lapel pin in the shape of a blue slipper. For those of you who have never seem one, see Sister Kay Strong, because she wears one on her lapel. When I first saw it, I was interested in learning more about it, so I did a little research on the internet. I found this article on the story of the Masonic Blue slipper. It first appeared in the July 1986 issue of the Scottish Rite Journal and was written by Clyde H. Magee, a 32° Mason.

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Over the years it has been my habit to ask my wife and my daughters to wear one of these slippers on a coat or dress when traveling alone away from home. What is the meaning of this blue slipper and why should female relatives of Masons wear one?

Some 50 or 60 years ago, while I was still living at home, a widowed lady who was a cousin of my Dad's came to visit our home. She vacationed with us for several weeks every summer. She always wore this type of pin-The Blue Slipper. Her doctor husband was a Mason. The pin that she wore made a lasting impression on me. Through my curiosity and questioning, she told me it was a Masonic pin and served to identify her as a Masonic widow. She declared that Masonic men gave her extra attention while traveling, especially on the railroad (such as conductors, etc.).

To find out the meaning of this pin, let us go back in history to Boaz' time, in the Book of Ruth. It will be remembered that Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilon, fled to the land of Moab to escape the famine in their homeland of Bethlehem judah. Things went well for a while. Then life fell apart for them. Elimelech died. The two sons married Moabite girls-Orpha and Ruth. Again tragedy struck. Mahlon and Chilon died. This left Naomi a widow in a foreign land with two widowed daughters-in-law from the land of Moab.

In time of trouble, people think of home and more importantly of God. Naomi found out that the famine back home had subsided, and there was grain and food again. So she confided with Orpha and Ruth that she would journey back home and be among her kinsmen.

Certain laws, rules, or customs governed her thinking at this time. Of first consideration was the fact that Naomi was too old to bear a son for her daughters-in-law to marry. Even if she could, the daughters-in-law would not wait for the son to grow up. So the girls should remain among their own people. The girls resisted and started to go with Naomi. Orpha was finally convinced she should stay in Moab. But Ruth remained steadfast and went with Naomi to her homeland.

Naomi and Ruth arrived back in Bethlehem-judah at harvest time. The Scripture passage on which this is based is well-known. "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." This passage of Scripture is unsurpassed as a declaration of love and devotion of one person for another. It has been said that it would made a good marriage vow. But, to me it is a different type of devotion.

Naomi also had to take into consideration another law. When Elimelech died, his next of kin was duty bound to redeem his possessions and take care of his widow and her family. Since Naomi was getting old, Ruth tried to earn a livelihood. While gleaning in the fields, she was seen by Boaz. And when he found out about her (that she was Naomi's daughter in-law, etc.), he arranged special treatment for her. She could work with his girls in the field, and the young men were warned not to bother her. Since Boaz was not married and was kin to Naomi, Naomi decided that she should somehow make Boaz understand his duty to Elimelech's family. So Naomi advised Ruth to bathe and anoint herself and go to the threshing floor after dark and lay at the feet of Boaz. Boaz awoke at midnight and discovered her there. So as not to create a scandal, he gave her some barley and asked her to leave before dawn so that watching eyes would not recognize her.

Business among the tribe of Bethlehem-judah took place at the gate of the city. So Boaz sat down at the gate the next day because he knew there was a kinsman more closely related to Elimelech than he. So when the kinsman came by, Boaz called him aside and asked 10 men of the elders of the city to sit with them. Boaz bargained with his kinsman. The kinsman said he would redeem Elimelech's property. But, when he found out that he would have to take care of Naomi and Ruth, he reneged and told Boaz he would not redeem or protect Elimelech's interest. He would leave it to Boaz. The passage from Scripture for these events is the following: "And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it., Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel."

So the kinsman drew off his shoe and gave it to Boaz. Boaz held it up for all in the gate to see. He asked them to be witnesses that he became Naomi's protector, Ruth's husband, and a redeemer of Elimelech's property.

So, today we have the little blue slipper as an emblem of the protective influence of Masons for their wives, widows, and daughters.

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. 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 Brother Bill and Sister Fabienne at my Installation last October and it seemed appropriate to use it tonight.

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.

Connecticut Grand Chapter Sessions

On Thursday, April 26th, I traveled with Sister Anita Young, G.G.C.C.M. (Visionquest) to the Connecticut Grand Chapter in Farmington. We stopped for a leisurely lunch in White River Junction, VT and arrived in Farmington around 4:30 p.m. We had eleven members from Quebec join us. There were a lot of members attending these Sessions as Sister Barbara Benton, MWGM and Brother William Owen, MWGP were in attendance.

After a delicious supper in the hotel restaurant it was time for the Informal Opening. It was great meeting up again with all my counterparts. I have such a great bunch of counterparts (we call ourselves the Dream Believers). Sister Lynn Wakefield and Brother Francis LaPlante, WGM and WGP of Connecticut are the first of our group to “retire”.

On the Friday morning, I had the pleasure to participate in the Bible and Emblem Ceremony representing the Star Point Esther. After a quick change out of my white dress into my kilt (our traveling outfit in Quebec is a kilt in the Quebec Tartan), I rushed up to sit in the East. After the Formal Opening Ceremonies, I had the honour of giving the Tribute to the Canadian Flag. Brother George-Henry Dempsey, P.G.P. as the Marshal and Sisters Brenda Stone, AGM and Beverley Sanborn, Gr. Conductress as the escorts proudly presented the Canadian Flag. After the morning Sessions, we all attended the Distinguished Guests luncheon, where I had the pleasure of presenting the WGM and WGP with a Love Gift from the members from Quebec.

After lunch, we made a quick change of clothes and packed up the car and headed for home, once again stopping in White River Junction, VT for something to eat.

Tribute to the Canadian Flag

To pay tribute to the national Flag of Canada, my flag, my country, is a privilege and an honour.

The planning for the Centennial celebrations of 1967 inspired the birth of the Canadian Flag that we know today. Prime Minister Lester Pearson brought it into existence. Numerous experts joined the parliamentary committee and after months of reviewing countless proposal, a new design was found.

The Canadian Flag (colloquially known as The Maple Leaf Flag) is a red flag of the proportions two by length and one by width, containing in its center a while square, with a single red stylized eleven-point maple leaf centered in the white square.

The colours of white and red are the colours assigned Canada by King George V by his proclamation on November 21, 1921, which granted a Coat of Arms to Canada. They symbolize strength, purity and, historically, are traditional of England and France. Red was the colour of St. George’s Cross – the colour born by French Crusaders in 1189, and the colour associated with early Kings of England. White was popular with monarchs of France, and was the colour of the field of St. George’s Cross; the colour given the English Crusaders; and the colour of Banners borne by Joan of Arc and several early French Regiments. And the Maple Leaf, recognized as a symbol of Canada since the early days of the fur trade, emerged as the most fitting emblem. There is no recorded significance to the eleven-point leaf design.

Twenty-year-old Joan O’Malley sewed Canada’s first flag in 1964 and at the stroke of noon on February 15, 1965, Canada’s red and white Maple Leaf Flag was raised on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the very first time.

The following words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added further symbolic meaning to the flag: “The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”

I am proud of my flag and every facet of Canadian life it represents. The greatest tribute I can make is to say: “I love you, and may heaven bless The Maple Leaf Forever.”


Thank you Worthy Grand Matron for the honour of giving tribute to the Canadian Flag

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Well! I'm behind again! It's been over a month since I last posted and boy do I feel guilty! A lot has happended since the last post, such as 5 Official Visits. It's a long weekend here in Quebec - the housework has now been taken care of and the daughter is staying at her boyfriends place tonight (and possibly tomorrow), so hopefully I can get caught up - if not all, then at least most of what has been happening.

Just one little note, however; Yahoo has decided to do away with the Photos section of their site so I had to move everything over to "Flickr" (which is still part of Yahoo). Fortunately, they did the move which took a couple of days for the merge. Unfortunately, they made double copies of every picture and marked everything as "private". So today I had to delete nearly 300 duplicate pictures and then mark everything as "public"! What a drag!!!! Now I have to figure out how to upload new pictures to this new site!

Hopefully, after I eat supper, I will be able to post again. If not, definately tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Official Visit – Cowansville Chapter #17

On April 23rd, we had our Official Visit to Cowansville Chapter in Knowlton, QC, and once again we had a wonderful time. Before the meeting, we all enjoyed a wonderful pot-luck supper (which I was late for due to heavy traffic on my way from work).

The chapter honoured two of my Grand Officers, Sister Brenda Stone, Associate Grand Matron and Brother Eric Sanborn, Grand Warder. They also paid tribute to Sister Beverley Sanborn, Grand Conductress, who is affiliated with this Chapter.

I had the pleasure of presenting a Grand Representatives Commission to Sister Erika Sanborn to the state of Puerto Rico. As her mother, Sister Beverley Sanborn was Conductress this evening she had the pleasure of escorting her daughter to the East. It was such a pleasure seeing this, as I don’t think this happens very often. I was also pleased to present a Certificate of Appreciate and gold Thistle pin to Brother Rodney Jenne, P.G.P. for being the chapter’s Marshal.

The Worthy Matron, Sister Donna Mitchell, planned a wonderful ceremony for us. If I thought that I hadn’t laughed so hard as at the Table Chapter in November, I was sadly mistaken. The Worthy Matron concocted a race for the WGP and I to partake in. At several points throughout the chapter room we had to participate in an event and win points. At the first checkpoint, we had to spin plastic eggs and see who’s egg spun the longest (I won that one!). At another checkpoint, we had to whose little plastic dragon ran the furthest (I lost that one!). By the time the race was finished (which I won overall!), I thought I was going to crack a rib from laughing so hard. It is so great to see the chapters have fun during their meetings. When the chapters have fun during their meetings, it encourages the members to come back again. After returning to the East, I was presented with a donation from the Chapter for my Special Project. After the meeting, we enjoyed some delicious cake and ice cream, which was in honour of their Grand Officers.

Since Spring had finally sprung, as my Chapter Talk, I chose to speak on the subject of gardens.

Chapter Talk – In The Garden

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.

Tonight I wish to talk to you for a little while about gardens. In the spring of the year we become especially garden-minded. We peruse the seed catalogues, we go out into our yards to see if the bulbs are coming along as they should and if the perennials have withstood the rigorous winter; and how about the precious fern we had such a difficult time getting started! Those first crocuses coming up through the snow are more welcome than a dozen red roses from the greenhouses. If we can’t have a garden of our own, we still find ourselves stopping before the florist’s windows to admire the daffodils and the tulips – and finally when the grocery store puts boxes of plants out on the sidewalk each morning to sell, we know for certain that summer is just around the corner. Spring has engulfed us. We see new life, new joy. All the wonders of nature are spread out before us. God’s handiwork – God’s gift to us. Not to us alone, but to all mankind without regard to colour, race, or creed.

That’s one kind of a garden. Now I wish to mention another one equally beautiful and more wonderful still. This is not a perennial garden, nor does it bloom in the spring only – it is eternal because the flowers which grow there are everlasting. The garden of which I speak is the one we are sitting in tonight. It is the Garden of our Star. In the very center stands the sundial – our Holy Bible, the rays of which warm the heart and bring the flowers into full bloom. These lovely flowers are not daffodils nor primroses, glorious as these may be, but they are called Kindness, Constancy, Steadfastness, Truth, and Charity, and others too numerous to mention. Like the roses and the Phlox, they need tender care and nourishment if they are to grow in beauty and stature. Like the hyacinth and the bluebells they fade without it. So why do I call them everlasting? Because, ever since the world began, they have grown upon the earth. Someone somewhere has kept these seeds alive, had broadcast them and cared for them so that they might live and we might behold their beauty today. Each time we invite a Sister or a Brother into our Order we plant a seed from these flowers in a heart. We hope it falls on good soil and blooms in a life so that this life may be one with us in keeping our garden flourishing.

We have so many symbols in our ritualistic work and among the loveliest of these is the meaning of our flowers. First we have the violet, which is a modest flower and appropriate to the daughter. The blue violet is more than a flower to us however; it is the blossom of fidelity and one that we should present early to youth along with the virtue of obedience to the demands of honour and justice.

As we wander a bit further into our magnificent garden we find the yellow jasmine, a symbol of constancy, an attribute which, added to fidelity, brings a growth in character. The two combined with the lily of the valley add the reminder that loveliness among the lowly shows true greatness.

As we continue to walk in this sacred place we always keep close to the sun, our Holy Book, warming ourselves by its rays. The blossoms we have attained so far are precious, but there is still more room for planting. Then we see the regal white lilies! They stand before us as queens of the universe. It often takes stature to be those lilies, those blossoms of loyalty. They speak out for right even though it is unpopular. To be pure in heart and to have courage is not always easy.

No garden is complete without greenery. Soft grass, hedges, ferns; they bring out the majesty of the flowers and compliment them. Fidelity, Constancy and Loyalty need the strength that comes through faith. Without faith and without hope our garden would lose most of its beauty. Upon entering we did not, however, notice the green first. It sort of grew upon us until we came to this one lovely fern near the end of our floral journey. But on looking back upon the pathway we trod, we noticed that the greenery was growing throughout the whole garden, not in just one spot. How sorry a place this would be should it all be removed. How important it is – the green spray of faith!

And then when all these enchanting blossoms have met our eyes, we gaze upon one, which is the culmination of all others – the bloom of love. Love that is kind, forgiving, love that overcomes all else in the world. Without these love blossoms in the garden, life would be harsh.

We leave our beautiful Star Garden with reluctance. Our feet have trod on sacred ground and in our hearts have been planted anew all the seeds of the precious virtues we have been shown.

We will leave the garden with a determination to care for and tend these wonderful flowers, which God in His goodness has given to us. In turn we can make God’s Garden on Earth a place of peach and happiness where people walk side by side in brotherly love. If we do this He had said,

“He will walk with us and He will talk with us,
He will tell us we are His own;
And the joy we share in the garden there,
None other will have ever known.”

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. 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 gavel is the one presented to me by the WGP, Brother Bill and Sister Fabienne at my Installation last October. 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.

Hands Across The Border

On April 21st, a beautiful sunny Saturday, Quebec played host to the Hands Across the Border with Vermont. This is an exchange between the two jurisdictions that has been going on for 39 years. It started with Vermont hosting a Friendship Night and was later changed to Hands Across the Border. Vermont is Quebec's Mother Grand Chapter and was very instrumental in getting Quebec Grand Chapter started. We alternate every year where it will be and this year Quebec had the privilege of hosting it. This year we had a total of 108 members from the two Jurisdictions attend. I was sooooo pleased!

I was very fortunate to have a great group of people help to plan this day. The afternoon Tea was hosted by my Chapter, Friendship-Victoria Chapter and our WGP’s Chapter, Victory Chapter. Two of our General Grand Chapter Committee Members even poured the tea for us! We had a banquet in the evening that was put on by the members of Maple Leaf Chapter #2. I asked them in January if they would host the banquet and they readily agreed. This was a fundraiser for their Chapter.

I was in a quandary at first as to who would fill all the offices. As I wanted all the Grand Officers to be able to sit with their counterparts, I didn’t want to ask Officers of the two hosting chapters, as a number of the Chapter Officers are Grand Officers! I decided to ask the Past Grand Matrons and Past Grand Patrons if they would do the honours. Again, they all readily agreed (I have gotten such wonderful support from all of the Past Grands this year). It was a wonderful sight to see, as all but two of the Past Grand Matrons wore their Official Gowns from their own years.

After the meeting was opened in regular form, we had the presentation of Distinguished Guests. What a sight to see all the GGCCM’s, Past Grands and Grand Officers presented. After I was asked to say a few words, I had the pleasure of presenting Honorary Memberships to my chapter to the WGM and WGP of Vermont, Sister Rosemarie Blair and Brother Gary Sage. I, in turn, received Honorary Memberships to their chapters in Vermont, which was a wonderful surprise.

After the meeting was closed, and before the meal, Sister Huguette Strassbourg entertained us with some wonderful piano music and a sign-a-long.

All in all, it was a super day enjoying the fellowship with our friends from Vermont and I hope that this tradition will continue for many, many years to come.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Official Visit – Cookshire Chapter #46

On April 18th, we had our Official Visit to Cookshire Chapter in Sawyerville. As it takes about 3 hours to drive to Sawyerville, I took the afternoon off work and met up with the Worthy Grand Patron, Brother Bill Winter and his wife, Sister Fabienne (our Grand Marshal), at my sister’s place (our Grand Martha, Heather MacDonald). We met up with a large group of members at the St. Hubert Restaurant in Magog and enjoyed a wonderful supper together before heading off to the meeting. As Cookshire Chapter meets above a bowling alley, there isn’t much room for us ladies to change into our long dresses, so we all changed in the washroom of the restaurant. It was funny seeing the faces of all the people in the restaurant as we came parading out of the washroom! It’s too bad my camera was in the car.

I had a wonderful time walking around the chapter before the meeting opened. The room was wonderfully decorated with Scottish Tea Towels, banners of tartan and the Scottish flag. After the Worthy Matron opened the chapter, she closed the Bible informally in order to bring in a special guest. In keeping with my Scottish theme, the Worthy Matron arranged to have a Scottish Dancer come to entertain us. Carolyn Lawry is a local 15 years old dancer from Coaticook. She has been dancing for 4 years and only competing for 2 years and has already won many, many competitions. She came at the beginning of the evening, as she is a student and had school the next morning. What a wonderful surprise it was, as I love Scottish dancing.

After the Bible was re-opened, I was honoured with another special ceremony. The Worthy Matron presented me with a vase in the shape of a thistle that belonged to her Mother-in-law. I was then taken to the four corners of the chapter where a poem was read, based on my four watchwords:

Faith:
Some purple heather from this corner this evening,
Combines the hope and trust of faith supreme;
To us your deepest faith has unseen meaning,
God grant a life of happiness serene.

Hope:
A spray of purple heather is my offering,
With all the memories of hope’s right,
To signify your queenly love and fervor,
Your hope to each adds joy and light.

Peace:
My spray of purple heather is a token,
It could not have more meaning if ‘twere gold;
Whether in labour proud or service humble
Always your thoughts in peace unfold.

Love:
I offer you a spray of purple heather,
With just as deep a meaning as ‘twere blue;
It’s load of love and truth enhances,
Blending your courage with our precepts true.

After each poem was read, I was presented a spray of heather with a donation to my special project attached to it.

I also had the pleasure of presenting a Certificate of Appreciate and my gold Thistle pin to Sister Sharon Kirby for filling the station of Marshal, as well as presenting a Grand Representatives Commission to the State of Maine to Brother Richard Chagnon, husband to my Grand Electa, Sister Christiane Chagnon.

For my talk, I told a story about four candles called Faith, Hope, Peace and Love. For anyone who was at the Official Visit of Lachute Chapter, you will recognize this as the candle ceremony that they did in my honour, although slightly different. I thought, after this ceremony that I would have to do something different as my talk for Cookshire Chapter, but decided to go ahead with it anyways for the benefit of those who were not at Lachute Chapter’s meeting.

Chapter Talk - The Four Candles

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. When I was Associate Grand Conductress, and I was starting to plan my theme, I was having a hard time trying to think of watchwords. I finally decided to use the words “Faith, Hope Peace and Love.” When talking with a friend at work, I mentioned to her that these were going to be my watchwords. She immediately sent me an email called The Four Candles. Although I had never, at that time, see it before, I have since seen around a few times, and I’m sure that many of you have also heard it Because it ties in with my watchwords, and for those who haven’t seen this email, I would like to read it tonight.

The Four Candles burned slowly. Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak. The first candle said, "I am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me". Then Peace's flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

The second candle says, "I am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable." Then Faith's flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

Sadly, the third candle spoke, "I am Love and I haven't the strength to stay lit any longer. People put me aside and don't understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them." And waiting no longer, Love goes out completely.

Suddenly . . . A child enters the room and sees the three candles no longer burning. The child begins to cry, "Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end." Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy, "Don't be afraid, for I am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles." With Shining eyes the child took the Candle of Hope and lit the other three candles.

Never let the Flame of Hope go out of your life. With Hope, no matter how bad things look and are, Peace, Faith and Love can Shine brightly in our lives. Don't let these candles go out in your life!

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. 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 sister and my mother 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.

Official Visit – Owl’s Head Chapter #35

On April 11th, we had our Official Visit to Owl’s Head Chapter. Owl’s Head Chapter normally meets in Mansonville; however, their hall is too small to accommodate a large group so the Official Visit was held at the IOOF Hall in Knowlton. They were also celebrating their 60th Birthday. Sister Mary Bailey, P.M., who is a Charter Member received a wonderful tribute and then was presented with her 60-year pin. I also presented a certificate to the Chapter’s Marshal, Sister Elaine Young, along with my special gold Thistle pin. Sister Elaine is a relatively new member, just 2 years, and when I had her escorted to the East, you could tell that she thought she had done something wrong. She was very surprised, and I think pleased, to be recognized in this way. I think that this is an excellent way to pay tribute to the members who give so much to our Order.

Once again, I was honoured with a special ceremony by being escorted around to all the Star Points. I was given a beautiful basket of flowers, and then each Star Point presented me with a sprig of heather, which is one of my chosen flowers this year, with a donation attached to it for my Special Project.

This evening I chose to speak about Unconditional Love and told a story about a woman with cancer and how her faithful dog help to bring her back from the brink of death. After the meeting, the Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron signed my Bible and more pictures were taken. After the meeting we all enjoyed a delicious meal and lots of fellowship before making our way home.

Chapter Talk - A Great Dog Story (About unconditional Love)

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. One of these days I’m going to make it to your actual meeting place. Tonight I want to tell you a great dog story about unconditional Love.

How many of you have pets? If you do, you will understand how much they become a part of your family. Like children, they want your undying attention, and like teenagers, they talk back (especially cats). I have a cat named Peanut (who is constantly talking back to me!) and a schnauzer named Heidi. Peanut pretty much ignores me unless she wants a treat (that’s when she usually yells at me). She’ll wrap herself around my feat until I practically trip over her. Heidi, however, is a different story. She is always happy, unless there is a thunder storm. Then she needs to be cuddled like a baby. She is always happy to see me, even if I’ve just come in from taking the garbage out! When she sees that I’m tired or not feeling well, she will bring me several of her toys and come and sit on me and actually gives me a hug. If I ignore her, she usually throws those same toys at me until I start to play with her. All she knows is unconditional love.

A friend at work sent me this story. For those of you who don’t have pets, it’s just another “dog tail”, but for any of you who do have pets, I think you will like it, and might even relate to it. I think you’ll like it even if you don't have pets, and you may even decide you need one!

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.' Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease....in fact; she was just sure it was fatal. She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her...what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable, until finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap. Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love. Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day.

It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-fee. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

The moral of this story is … live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget that the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They (the people & animals) are the ones that care for and love us.

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. 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 gavel is the one presented to me by my sister, Sister Heather and my mom 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.