JUNE 2021

The Sad, Bad, and the Good


We are very saddened and grieve the loss of a wonderful man, Randy Filinksi.

Randy was a loving husband, caring father, a dedicated community activist and an outstanding part of the Durham Region community. We have lost a truly great member of our community. We mourn his loss and extend our condolences and prayers to his family.


It pains me to know there are experts with superior computer skills to mine.

The bad news
Recently, the website was attacked and hacked, somehow corrupted and infected. The site was forced to shut down.

The good news
The good news… we are back up and running once again. A little poorer, a lot more experienced.

In Arnold’s infamous words, “I’ll be back”
The site may still have some loose ends, frayed edges, a bit of discombobulation. Bear with us. To paraphrase Arnold, “We’re back.”

Richard’s writes…

When things are going badly
Stay calm, stay relaxed. It will be resolved eventually.

What month is it anyway?

Some sources claim June is Seniors Month, others PRIDE month. We’ll recognize both and summarize with …”just care for your fellow human.” No matter if old, young, female, male, queer, straight, or transforming, as long as they are accepting of who they are. What matters more is that we accept everyone as human beings. We may not agree with how they choose to live, who they think they are, but they are human beings deserving of respect and acceptance as such. One of us.

Celebrate both Seniors/PRIDE month.


Fermo’s a winner!

Hello, I’m back, ‘Fermo,’ an eight-year-old Scottish terrier. Today’s tail is a short story about my school ‘daze.’

I really like Nadia, my female human. She is a very gentle woman and even if I don’t understand her, I like how she talks to me. When she combs me, she is always saying, “Che elegante!” in such a warm and soft way or “Che bravo che sei,” when she brushes my teeth. I have no idea what she is saying but I like how it all sounds.

My male human, Richard, he is gruffer. He means well and I know he loves me because he really takes care of me too. No matter what kind of weather, twice a day, he dresses me up and takes me out for long walks. If it is snowing and cold, he puts on my fur-lined coat. If it’s raining, my rubberized raincoat, bright yellow and very visible. However, I wish he would stop pulling so much on my leash. It tires me to hear him repeat over and over and over…“Come on, Fermo,” “Hurry up, Fermo,”…“Come on, Fermo,” “Hurry up, Fermo,” Puleeze, I got it the first time.

But I am distracted from my story.

Long ago, when I was just two months old, my humans walked me by a big brown building and said, “Fermo, next week you’re going to go there, to puppy school.”

“Puppy school? Huh? What’s that,” I wondered. I had no idea what puppy school was and so I was a little bit nervous but I knew Richard would watch out for me.

The first day of school, I was amazed. I had never seen so many dogs like that, all in one place: tall ones, short ones, skinny minnies, chubby tubbies, long hairs, short hairs, long legs and wee ones.

We sat down and the teacher asked for introductions. The humans said our names but each of us knew we would greet each other in the better way later, the doggie way.

I sniffed the dog on my right, “Hya! I’m Fermo.”

“I’m Priscilla,” the little bundle of white yelped back. “I’m a Maltese. What are you?”

“I’m a Scottish Terrier. Most people call us ‘Scotties,’” I barked back in that gruff voice that we Scotties have. By this time, the brown, long sausage-shaped, low-to-the-ground doggie next to us started sniffing at me.

“Hey, how you doin’? I’m Dutchie, ” he ruffed. “I’m a wiener dog.” For those who might not know, that’s a dachshund.

Priscilla and I circled Dutchie, sniff, sniff, introductions continued.

Did you know that dogs are bilingual? We start learning our second language, humanese, as soon as we come into our new home and begin living with our new family. Humanese is easy because most humans are very open and direct. But they must think dogs are either not very smart or else that we are hard of hearing because they repeat things many times, and each time, louder than before. Maybe they think repeating things louder makes it clearer. It doesn’t. They don’t realize dog language has no human words. We translate everything into doggie language and this takes time, especially if the human words are new or complicated. Sometimes the loud talking makes us nervous and then understanding becomes even more difficult.

One dog in puppy school seemed very hesitant about playing with the rest of us. He was all balled up over in the corner, in a kind of defensive curl, a big, black, long-legged Lab and I mean BIGGGG!!! He sat far away from everybody as if he didn’t want to talk to any of us. Eventually, we coaxed some information out of him and learned that he was from Nova Scotia, a province far away from our own, Ontario. I thought he was probably very homesick and maybe even a little frightened even though all the doggies in the school seemed very friendly.

In front of me sat Lizzie. She had long blond fur and wore a pink ribbon on her head. She whimpered to me, “I just hate that ribbon. I think it makes me look so silly.” She was right, but I didn’t tell her that.

Toby was the tallest dog in the whole class, a handsome golden retriever with a beautiful, shiny long coat, so intelligent looking. Then there was Fritz, a giant of a German shepherd with thick gray fur and the biggest jaws in the whole wide world, with huge teeth. Lucky he was a friendly guy.

Then, I spotted the cutest doggie I had ever seen, sitting quietly under her human’s chair. Coco was really, really cute. She was a Havanese, a breed I did not know at all. She was a little white ball of fluff. But wow, was she ever pretty!

There was a lot of excitement in that first class, all the yelping and barking, in so many doggie voices. Some grunted some yelped, some whimpered and I even saw one crying. It all seemed kind of chaotic.

Then the teacher stood up to make an announcement. “Hi. My name is Jan and we’re going to have a lot of fun together learning new things that will you a better dog.” Jan knew exactly how to manage us. She made each class a lot of fun in a firm but fair way. All of us liked and respected her a lot.

We learned many new things and it all seemed like a lot of fun. We laughed a lot at our mistakes and we barked cheers whenever one of us understood and succeeded. It was cool!

At the end of every class, we had playtime which almost all of us enjoyed a lot. Jan organized us into small groups so we would all be comfortable and we just played with our group partners, nuzzling, licking, bumping, and rubbing each other. Humans called all this doggie sniffing and nuzzling, “socializing” such a big word for just being friendly.

I had never seen so many black dogs all in one place before. Hey, wait a second. I was black too, so I went over so I could hang out with the black dudes. They were all bigger than I was, none seemed to object to my joining them. Well, none except the big black Nova Scotian who seemed to object to everyone. He growled a bit at anyone who approached him but I wasn’t afraid. I wondered what was bothering him? What was making him so edgy? It became a more noticeable problem when at one point he surprised me and snarled at me. He looked like he was ready to bite me. Richard, my human, immediately picked me up before anything happened. I guess he thought I needed protection. He must have forgotten that Scotties don’t need protection. No Scottie ever backs away from a threat. Nothing scares a Scottie. That black lab didn’t know who he was tangling with.

We learned a lot in puppy school with a different goal for every lesson. We learned not to touch things without permission; this is called ‘respect for property.’ We learned not to jump up on people; this is called ‘respect for people.’ I learned to sit and to be good. This means that I was obedient and I got a treat whenever I did it right.

We even got homework. I had to practice to sit, to down, to jump, but not to jump on people. I really liked jumping on people a lot, but I learned that some people don’t like this and when I did it, I didn’t earn any treats. So, I learned to jump up on people only if they didn’t mind and Nadia or Richard said, “OK, Fermo,” which meant it was okay to do so.

I practiced my homework every day with Richard back home.

In our next class, all the dogs were to show what they had learned. When my turn came, I stood up, proud as could be, ready to show off my newly learned command, ‘Leave it.’ The command meant I was not to touch whatever treat was put on the floor in front of me until Richard gave the release phrase, ‘OK Fermo.’ I had learned the ‘leave it’ command really well and was ready to show it off.

All the dogs were quiet as they watched me trot out to the center of the class.

“Fermo, sit,” said Richard. I sat perfectly, a doggy grin on my face. Richard smiled.

“Fermo, down,” said Richard adding the special hand signal, a flat-palmed swoosh downward. I dropped like a stone. Richard stood tall and proud. I did too. We were on a roll.

“Fermo, stay,” said Richard as he walked out in front of me. Then, he bent down and dropped about seven or eight little treats on the floor in front of me. I looked at the treats. Every dog in the class expected me to go after them but I didn’t budge. I just kept looking up at Richard who was standing very still. His Fermo was doing great. We were both so proud and I never moved an inch.

Richard then knelt down by the treats. Every dog now expected me to make a dash for them as they all mistakenly thought this was the release signal. It wasn’t. I stayed stone still. Richard’s smile grew even broader. He saw I was doing it all perfectly. Then, he bent over and with his forefinger, tapped the floor just behind one of the treats. I jumped up, ran over and gobbled up the treat. Richard then chose another treat a few treats farther away, again tapping the floor. I snapped up that treat and in turn. Where he tapped, I’d eat that treat.

Every dog jaw in the class dropped…even Jan was surprised, an 8-week-old puppy with such great self-control. Incredible! The dogs all barked out their cheers. “Bark, bark,” “Woof, woof” “Hooray Fermo, you’re great, man.” “Way to go, Fermo!” The classroom filled with doggie cheering.

I was awarded the trophy, “Best Trick” in that class. I was so excited. Coco, Dutch, Priscilla, Fritz, Toby and a bunch of the others came over to look and to paw me on the back. Then Coco came over and nuzzled her face into mine, saying, “Fermo, you’re the best!” I was the happiest puppy in the whole wide world.

On the way home, I fell asleep in the car and dreamed of all my wonderful new friends and about my next puppy class. I really liked puppy school.

Well, that’s enough for now. Next time, let me tell you about that big black guy from Nova Scotia.



Dr. Andrea Wilkinson is a brain! Diploma’d as a Ph. D. in Psychology, she spent 15 years researching and studying brain health and cognitive maintenance. Then, she established BrainShape.ca – a platform for adults who want to optimize their mental vibrancy and physical energy as they age.

Dr. Andrea also hosts the BrainShape Podcast – a weekly show that gives users the tools to optimize their brain health. To view a selection of available podcasts, click the link:   BrainShape Podcasts


The story behind the story
“Towards the Light” is Eva Henn’s memoir of her family’s terrifying escape from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Eva, an elementary school aged young girl, writes about the horrific experience and the shock of living in a new country, Canada. Her developmental years and elementary school days dramatically affected Eva with lasting legacies. A vacation trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic jarred all the memories back to life. The poverty, the needs, the impoverishment of the region’s children as they attended school affected Eva deeply. Inadequate food, tattered and worn clothing, no books, no paper, no pens and…no shoes. Teachers with no more than their voices as teaching aids. These were emotionally straining sights inspired Eva. Her new goal, to help these children.

Money earned from the sale of “Towards the Light” is redirected to the school in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Her book revenues were dedicated to improving and enriching the children Las dos Jardas de Veron Escuela Primera. Now, assigned another school, donations are directed to improving Juanillo Escuela Primera.

Click HERE to read about the charity work supported by book sale donations.

Purchase your copy of “Towards the Light,” for $21.99 which includes delivery by Canada Post.

To purchase a book:

  1. Email an E-transfer of $ 21.99 to echenn47@gmail.com

  2. Email Eva your land mailing address.


Children’s books

Young readers, ages 5-9, will laugh as they follow the delightful Juliet Malevolent through an upside-down, inside-out, alternate world where bad is good and good is bad. Whether at home or in her Kinderevilgarten class, Juliet’s goodness makes her different. Will badness change her or will goodness change those around her? Who will win in this struggle? A wonderfully exciting tale for youngsters to read or hear, Juliet Malevolent is definitely an intriguing and engaging character.

Click Juliet Malevolent to read more about one of Peta-Gaye’s most popular books for children.

Peta-Gaye Nash is an acclaimed and award winning children’s author of more than half a dozen books for young readers. Her books are captivating and engaging stories that are great reads for young minds. Not only will they be entertained, but they will learn a lot reading each one of Nash’s books.



La Galleria
Our website supports many creative people, writers and painters who work with dedication and passion to express their inner souls. All of these artisans, the painters and the writers, need support. Enjoy their creativity on our website and consider leaving them a word of encouragement to energize them to continue their creative work. They will appreciate your support very much.


Real pups in the real world
June 2, 7:00 pm

Director of Canine Coach for 25 years, Gillian Ridgeway, will be doing a seminar covering common issues for parents of puppies, including topics such as separation anxiety, attention seeking and socialization strategies.

Click here to register: REGISTRATION



A message from Councillor Dave Pickles, Ward 3
As I am writing this piece, and thank Richard for inviting me back to contribute another article to his newsletter, I am reminded to dig out my Toronto Maple Leafs jersey for game five against Montreal Canadians tonight.  By the time you read this I hope Toronto will have advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in seventeen years. Go Leafs Go!

Putting on the Gardener cap
My wife Brenda and I enjoy good looking gardens.  We generally have annuals in planters, a mix of annuals (Brenda’s favourite, large Tulips) and perennials in the front garden, and mostly perennials in the backyard. The perennials in the backyard include peonies, lily of the valley and hostas, the latter two can tend to take over and spread quickly so we have to split them and give some away.  But the Lily of the Valley and the Hostas are hardy and get by if we have a dry spell and neglect to water them. We have been less successful on vegetables, mostly because we don’t have someone water them if we take a summer vacation and there’s a spell of no rain.  Generally it seems it does not rain when they call for it and it rains just after we water them.  I have had some success with tomatoes, we always enjoy a fresh cherry tomato just off the vine or a beefsteak on a BLT.  This year a friend with the Pickering Ajax Italian Club gave me some tomato plants and so far they and doing well. 

We have also been harvesting some fresh rosemary in planters to go with meals and have chives coming along.  The rest of our yard is framed with large cedar hedges, a large tulip tree, sand cherry and graduation bushes.  We have been giving more care and water to the gardens and the backyard because of the COVID stay-at-home protocols and it is likely our vacation spot this year.  A bonus to our garden enjoyment are the birds. We have a couple feeders and have always had a couple cardinals, blue jays and a variety of birds to watch and enjoy hearing. It is not uncommon to look out and see cardinals, blue jays, squirrels, rabbits and other little ones all around the feeder at the same time. I do hope your readers enjoy gardening, have great success, and bountiful harvest. 

Putting on the Pickering Councillor cap
Taking off my gardener ball cap and putting on my Councillor hat (I don’t actually have a Councillor hat but maybe I should look into getting one…LOL) many people ask me as a member of Council “what is the most common inquiry I get from residents?” I would describe it as the good neighbour/bad neighbour issues.  The issues: speeding, noise, litter, long grass/weeds, parking and not picking up after their dogs.  Now most residents are good neighbours and follow the rules, look after their properties and respect others’ and public property. However, the people that do not cause the rest of us and the city grief.  Not only do they cause disruption and frustration for other residents, they divert city and police resources (taxpayer funds) to pursue offenders and cleanup costing resources that could otherwise be directed to more constructive efforts in our community.  On behalf of all residents, please be a good neighbour, obey the speed limit, don’t park illegally including blocking sidewalks, pick up after your pets, maintain your property and don’t litter, and generally be respectful to your neighbours and community. Although it is difficult for police and bylaw staff to be everywhere all the time, they are out there doing their best to encourage residents to abide by and support the rules and community.


Speaking of good neighbours and the greater good, as we hopefully come to the end of this pandemic, please get your first and second vaccinations when you can, continue to follow public health direction such as distancing and wearing a mask, visit the Durham Region and City social media sites for up to date information (See: Durham Region , VACCINATION ), and stay safe!

Please remember that we are fortunate to have many essential workers out there every day, health care workers, transit employees, Regional and City workers, retail and food staff, and many others.  We are all frustrated by COVID and the necessary restrictions but please follow the rules and be kind to and even thank those people who are there for us in spite of the health risk conditions.


COVID-19 has ripped two years out of our lives, kept us from enjoying life normally, sharing it with family and friends. Let’s hope there is light at the end of this ruinous tunnel now and that summer can still be salvaged from the mortal destruction of this merciless malevolence.

Still continue your vigilance and precautions. Take no chances until it has been officially and scientifically declared as controlled.

Be safe, stay healthy, continue the necessary precautions.


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