MAY 2021

  • Fermo, an Italian Scottie
  • Dennis Gazarek, Canadian author wins award
  • Peta-Gaye Nash, award-winning children’s books author
  • La Galleria: showcasing local artists
  • Kingston Penitentiary or Home, sweet home?
  • Movies and TV
  • Books
  • Councillor Dave Pickles: pandemic perseverance
  • A commercial break
  • Trump, Ontario turnip!
  • Councillor Butt: food bank needs
  • Launch of new feature on the website
  • Enough already

Fermo, an Italian Scottie
Welcome to the inaugural episode of ‘Scottish tails,’ tales that will have you wagging your head in wonder.

McTavish, Duncan, Maxwell, Angus, and Brodie… great names for a Scottish lad and a Scottish terrier too. But Fermo? “Fermo…where ya comin’ from laddie ?” 

Let’s hear it right from the horse’s, errr, doggy’s mouth.

My name’s Fermo, the Italian word for ‘stop,’ “How in the world does a Scottish terrier get an Italian name,” you ask? Well, here’s the story.

Nadia, one of my humans is Italian. She named me quite by accident. While out on their evening walk one night, before my time, Richard, casually asked, “OK Nadia, now that you have agreed to have a dog, what do you want to call it?” They walked along a bit further, Nadia imagining a small dog on a leash dashing around in front of her and she blurted out, “Fermo! Fermo!” Poof, the name was born.

Now let Richard continue the narrative as the rest of this is a bit too ‘doggytory’ for me.

Fermo’s a Scottish terrier. For dog owners, no further explanation is needed; for “non-dog” owners, much more is needed to paint a fuller picture of a Scottish terrier.

Some dogs can be compared to teenagers, endless apathy, lethargy, curiosity, and some latent excitability. A Scottish terrier kicks it up a few notes. Fermo, the full symphony. In fact, he’s the conductor.

Teens may be stubborn. Scottish terriers teach obstinacy. Fermo‘s the head instructor. Every command, questioned, second-guessed, resisted with a head nod. “Do I have to? Why? Not sure I want to. Let me think about it,” his normal reactions, and not just one, but all of them with some added bonuses for good measures, such as sitting down or walking away. If he does choose to obey, it’s slow, as slow as a snail climbing a mountain peak after a restaurant buffet of lettuce and greens.

Some people might think Fermo doesn’t understand….hah…try the word ‘comb’ with him. Houdini take heed. Abracadabra, poof…vanished at the speed of light. Fermo disappears faster than a squirrel on steroids. Usain Bolt, take heed, speed lessons.

Then, don’t question the intelligence of terriers who are rungs up the doggy IQ ladder. Unfortunately, their high intelligence is balanced by what we diplomatically label as an ‘independence’ streak. And this terrier is as independent as the letter Z in the alphabet. Every action is gauged on the terrier IQ scale with “Does this work for me?” “Is this really necessary?” or even worse, “Says who!”

However, two words that get close to instant response with Fermo are “walk” and “car.” Either one pushes his high alert button immediately. Ears perk, mental gears whirr as he eagerly considers “OK.” “When? Now? Let’s go! I’m ready!

Another word in the Scottish terrier’s lexicon of ‘High alert’ words is “cookie.” Strangely, “cookie” affects Fermo’s hearing. Instantly, he goes deaf but thankfully, it’s a temporary hearing loss for when the “cookie” process is fully completed and he gets his cookie, his hearing is miraculously restored. My vet explained the phenomenon as a Scottish terrier affliction known as “sADD,” (Scottish terrier Additional Dog Distraction) where he is unable to focus on anything else. Pavlov rang bells, Fermo drools at ‘cookies.’

So one can never question Fermo’s intelligence…just try the word ‘teeth.’ Any variation of the word will confirm he fully understands. We are getting the sneaky suspicion he even understands Italian as ‘i denti” works too. No battling, no major struggling but if you don’t snag him fast, he channels himself into Usain Bolt, going into hiding at lightning speed. A veritable black flash of seeking refuge in his hide-hole under the end table in the TV room, a place designated as his safe spot, where he is not to be touched. And he knows it.

Now couple the word ‘brushing’ with ‘teeth’ and we’re into a whole new ball game with this guy but we’ll leave that story for another episode of Scottish tails.

Till next time…
Fermo barking off.

I belong to an association of writers, published professionals who meet regularly to support, advise and help each other. Sometimes a member of the group will submit something for the website and we appreciate that. Visit the website to learn about what they have written and consider buying one of their books. They run the gamut of topics and themes from personal memoirs to historical reminiscences.

Dennis Gazarek, WAG member, receives Canada Book Award
Dennis Gazarek is a Canadian writer, author of Whacked and Be the Awesome Man. He was honoured this past April with the Canada Book Award for the latter work. The book is a monumental guideline that can inspire many young men to become bigger and better selves. Coaches, mentors, and personal life trainers could benefit greatly from the use of this guide to personal development.

The book confirms that Gazarek soars when it comes to deep research. He covers a broad range of the maturing process in young men from principles and morals to health and decision-making. Gazarek’s book is peppered with historical and social wisdom drawn from bygone eras, past ages as well as recent periods. He quotes famous coaches such as Vince Lombardi, well-known politicians, and famous celebrities as he paves the path to better self-improvement for young men.

An outstanding piece of advisory writing that should be on every young man’s reading list.

Does this now beg the question, “Do young women need someone to author a guide for them next?”

PETA-GAYE NASH, another WAG member and also an award-winner for children’s books
Peta-Gaye Nash is the author of seven children’s books and a collection of short adult fiction, I too Hear the Drums. In 2015 she won the Marty Awards for Emerging Literary Art as well as winning two literary awards in her hometown, Kingston, Jamaica.

Her children’s books teach, inspire and empower children to be their best selves. Her latest book Bushyhead is no different. The character is teased at school because of her bushy hair, but she learns to truly embrace her hair and to share it. Peta-Gaye’s children’s books are all inspired by her children, nieces, and nephew, and the lessons learned through parenting. She says, “the best way to teach is through storytelling and this is how I taught my own children to have manners, to be compassionate, how to cross the road, and the importance of education. All these stories are relatable and valuable for all families.”

Peta-Gaye’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in several anthologies and she also blogs on her website about all manner of things but mostly about empowerment, growth, and her writing journey.

Peta-Gaye was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and has made Canada home for twenty years. She works as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher by day and writes at night. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario with her husband and four children.

Visit her online at:
Instagram: petagaye.nash_author

La Galleria
Our website also supports all creative people, writers, and painters who work with dedication and passion to express their inner souls. Both artisans, the painters and the writers, need support and encouragement as they work in their studios, at their easels, and at their desks, often alone, trying to capture the flames burning within. Enjoy their work on our website. Consider leaving them a word or two of encouragement as the yet-to-be recognized, celebrities of tomorrow, need support and encouragement to motivate them to continue their creative endeavours while the already published and known ones also need continued support. They will appreciate your support very much.


Kingston Penitentiary or Home, sweet home: prisoners in our own homes
Many of us are imprisoned in this time of the COVID pandemic, venturing out only for necessities, and even then, that may be an assigned task, one specific member of the family shopping for the rest, safeguarding the others. In our home cells, we search for distracting diversions and entertaining engagements to deflect our attention from the stress and anxiety COVID causes us. We read; we watch TV; we stream movies and we listen to music looking for some respite from the worries the daily news triggers. In our home, we split our focus between books, TV, and recipe testing, the latter with too much success as my waistline confirms.

Movies and TV
TV numbs the stress as it targets the brain with its mindless titillation. Books on the other hand permit momentary pauses in the mental focus with daydreaming escapes and nostalgic reverie. A book allows the reader some time, some moments of escapism into thoughts, memories, and reminiscences of happier, less stressed times. I read extensively and write reviews for myself as cerebral exercises to keep the brain active. We also have others who submit book reviews offering different perspectives and opinions about books from many current book lists. But we do not discard TV, as it offers endless excursions into the heads of many creative artists who venture to places we do not normally visit.

Have you noticed the focus of TV and cinema these days? They are focusing more on real-life rather than the science fiction escapism of the past, The themes deal more with the tragedy of life, its challenges, and its deterioration. Nomadland, an outstanding movie, is about a woman’s journey through the American West after losing her job during the 2008 economic recession [It is also a revealing book about the USA and how it isn’t the paradise of the rich and well-to-do as portrayed by Hollywood]; Minari, a Korean immigrant family struggles to adapt and survive in a new culture as their own family evolves with increasing difficulties of cultural and social change; Judas and the Black Messiah depicts the frightening life of an FBI informant who infiltrates the 1960’s Chicago Black Panther Party; The Father shows the mental debilitation aging brings and how one man struggles to cope with his new reality. Watch these movies if you have the opportunity and if you can.

For more controlled escapism, read but venture away from your favourite authors, from David Baldacci, Stuart Woods, and Lee Child to Louise Penny, Donna Leon, and Donna Tartt. Read the newspaper bestseller lists for new diversions. Had I not done that, I would have missed awesome books like American Dirt and Claws of the Panda.

COVID is wreaking havoc with our lives but it isn’t the end of the world. It is a serious cause of worry and anxiety and sickness, for some families even worse, tragedy but there are ways to escape and avoid the worst, ways to laugh, love, and live with less stress and anxiety. Do what works for you and take all the necessary precautions.

A message from Councillor David Pickles
When Richard invited me to write a piece for the newsletter he suggested I share some of the conversations I have been having with residents over the past year and as well add some more light-hearted personal insights.  So here I go.

I cannot talk about the last year without addressing COVID-19. It has changed our lives.  In our community, it has tragically taken lives, particularly at Orchard Villa, sickened many, closed our businesses, separated us from our loved ones, friends, and communities. The City and staff have followed the frequently changing requirements while still managing to deliver essential city services.  We hoped it would have ended by now, but this third wave is persistent. I am hopeful that increasing vaccinations to residents, our adherence to the health and safety precautions, and the heroic efforts of our health care, front line, and essential workers will help us get to the beginning of the end of this pandemic.  Information on COVID and vaccinations changes frequently and differs from region to region, for accurate updates specific to Durham Region residents visit the Durham Region and City of Pickering websites and social media.

Region of Durham:
Facebook, Twitter 
City of Pickering:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Another subject of interest to residents is growth and development in our community.  Some people have raised concerns about the pace of proposed condo projects.  Pickering has continually evolved, from a cottage community to a suburban town, to a growing urban center. Many residents are not aware that successive provincial governments have been planning the allocation of population growth, designating urban growth centers, investing in public transportation, and requiring higher densities, and housing choices, across the GTA including Pickering.  The intent is to accommodate new residents while reducing building on green spaces, more cost-efficient use of infrastructure, less dependence on cars, and a more complete mix (residential, retail, commercial) of urban areas with downtowns. Property owners/developers submit their proposed applications that the city reviews under planning legislation, city policies, with public input, and Council consideration.  Although it seems the city has a lot on its plate, such developments take years to plan and build and not all proposals will be approved or proceed at the same rate.  Our downtown proposal with a new library, new youth and senior’s center, and a performing arts center, as well as the new Pickering Casino and Resort, is particularly exciting for the city.  You can learn more on planned developments at

So what have I as a Councillor and an individual been doing during the pandemic?  Well, there was an initial pause in the usual Council and city business at the beginning of the pandemic, and then there was a lot of work for the city to do to change its operations to meet the safety restrictions while running essential services.  The same applies to Durham Region, which runs our public health responsibilities including vaccinations.   We rebounded conducting meetings virtually (Zoom and Webex seem like my constant companions) and delivering many services online and/or in a safe manner.  I do miss the many public and community events like BBQs, cultural celebrations with community organizations, public events like Artfest, and the many informal opportunities to interact with Pickering residents. When the lockdowns first started some people were talking about doing other things, learning a second language, painting, writing a book, or purchasing an exercise bike. I laugh now that I had mused I might do something like that, but no such accomplishments to report.  Besides work, we have perhaps taken more walks and watched lots of news (the COVID reports and U.S. elections and aftermath became something of an obsession, thankfully the latter is behind us).   I enjoy reading and finally managed to finish Wuthering Heights, it was okay (apologies to Charlotte Bronte) but my favorites are Hardy, Cornwell, Follett, and Grisham.  With summer weather approaching we are now spending more time in the yard and gardening, and I hope to have my bike out often.

My wife has an essential small business and both our daughters work in health care so I worry about them every day.  Please get your vaccination as soon as you can, follow pandemic rules, stay safe, and when we get through this, I look forward to seeing you out and about in the community.

David Pickles
Deputy Mayor
Regional Councillor, Ward #3
City of Pickering

And now a commercial break to make ya laugh a little:


Trump, turnip, trumpette and ‘turnip 2’

In the fall of 2008, we somewhat jokingly laughed at Doug Ford as being a miniature Donald Turnip for launching right-wing policies a la the real ‘turnip.’ We were critical but a year later, as COVID hit us, the man seemed to rise above his previously low rung position with positive and constructive policies to help safeguard us.

POW! And then the balloon burst and Ford reverted to his true colours, obstinacy, intransigence, bull-headedness, as well as bedding down with the entitled and disregarding professional medical advisors. The leopard doesn’t change its spots. Ford not only retains his crown of concrete intransigence but he reinforces it.

We are not the only ones criticizing this inept, incompetent and incapable politician. Read Toronto Star writers such as Bruce Arthur and the Globe and Mail’s Tanya Talaga who describes the malevolence well when she writes in her April 22 column, “Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s apologies mean nothing.” Read the full column at

“Food banks need your help,” Councillor Shaheen Butt 
Difficult times for many people but so many others are working hard to give those in need support and assistance to help them get through these troubled days. If you are a Pickering-Ajax resident and wish to help, bring your non-perishable donations to:

St. Paul’s Community Food Bank
1537 Pickering Pkwy, Pickering
TUESDAY & FRIDAY, 10am – 12pm

St Paul on the hill food bank has been a beacon of hope for many during these challenging times. The pandemic has caused many to lose their jobs leaving them with no choice but to rely on local food banks and the lineups at the food bank are getting longer.

The Food Bank has received many generous donations through Councillor Shaheen Butt of the Pickering Islamic Center.

Mohammad Rahim, the president of the Pickering Islamic Center said this being the month of Ramadan, a time which highlights the need for helping the less fortunate. The very generous donation of 30 boxes of non-perishable food items is much appreciated by the Food Bank and it will go a long way to helping those in need.

Ramadan is a significant time on the Muslim religious calendar. It is a period where Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for 30 days. Our belief is that Ramadan teaches us to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate and in need of assistance. Thus, we are encouraged to perform acts of generosity and charity as we think of others.

It is remarkable and inspiring to see what can be achieved when we work together for the good of others. “Giving and helping others is a wonderful way to work together and strengthen our whole community,” says Councillor Butt.

Margaret Jocz, the director of the Food Bank, is very gratified and appreciative of all the support her organization has received from various community groups, especially during these difficult and challenging times.

Source: Councillor Shaheen Butt


Launch of a new feature on the website
Adding new things to the website can be disconcerting for some visitors but what the heck, we live in risky times. So we are launching a new monthly feature on the website, “Tech videos,how to’s” explaining how to do a particular thing on your computer, something we believe is really benefit you. This month: “Simple Gmail Notes,” a great way to add colour labels to your Gmails to remind you about the message without you needing to open and read it in full. A great little app and it’s a free Google extension. We suspect its developer, “Walty,” is some young computer nerd working in a garage drinking his Pepsi and hacking away at his laptop. Maybe. Maybe not!

Enough already!
You’ve heard enough about COVID already. The last word though, keep yourself informed and up-to-date with the daily news but follow trusted sources as there is much chaos, confusion, and contradiction in the reporting. That’s quite the last word, isn’t it? Anyway, get vaccinated when your opportunity comes, the kind of vaccine is unimportant. Blood clot risks are too minimal to worry about. As for the hoax, anti-vax people…hey, it’s your life you’re betting with.

Stay safe, stay distanced, stay healthy and wear a mask.


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