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HOLIDAY CHEER SURREAL WORLD THE ART OF STEPHEN GIBB
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FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
ANNUAL FESTIVAL BRINGS CHEER
CATCHING UP WITH OLD FRIENDS VISIT US AT
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JENNIFER JONES, PRESIDENT-NOMINEE OF ROTARY INTERNATIONAL
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HOLIDAY 2020 VOLUME 28, ISSUE 1
PUBLISHER/EDITOR Robert E. Robinson CONTRIBUTING Matthew St. Amand
One Low Price.
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Leslie Nadon CREATIVE DIRECTOR Carol Garant ART DIRECTOR Michael Pietrangelo PRODUCTION George Sharpe PHOTOGRAPHERS Sooters Photography
Edwin Tam Dan Boshart Frank Piccolo Shannon Stradeski Christina Friedrichsen-Truman Jeff Fasano Parveen Razvi
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Jennifer Jones, President-Nominee of Rotary International Photography by John Liviero, Sooters Photography
See page 14
F E AT U R E S
A COMMUNITY LEADER
NEW & NOTICED
THE ART OF STEPHEN GIBB
Creating a Surreal Vision of the World MCKENNA LUMLEY
Rotary International President-Nominee Jennifer Jones
Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Honours Teen
LET THERE BE LIGHT!
PET BUDGIE BEATS THE ODDS
OPG’s 38th Annual Winter Festival of Lights
Lemon The Budgie Earns A Spot On A National Calendar
TEAM OF VOLUNTEERS
Local Singer-Songwriter Releases New Singles
Windsor Essex Sewing Force Stepped Up When COVID-19 Hit
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CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS
Writing Home For The Holidays 47
Children’s Book Looks At How Kids Are Coping 50
LOOK WHO’S COOKING
Irek Kusmierczyk Shares Traditional Polish Dishes 52
STAY GOLD SOCIETY
Emily Truman Spearheads Outreach Program
Look for the call for nominations for the 2021 TITAN IN OUR COMMUNITY AWARD in the February issue
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Publisher’s Note The Holiday Season is upon us. A time of celebration and reflection. A time for caring and for giving. A time to spend with family and friends. And this year, a time to do it safely. Looking back at 2020 we see a year that changed our way of life. For many, it has been a challenge. But our community has risen to the challenge and shown that it is still among the most caring group of people anywhere. Those that can, have helped those less fortunate. Neighbours doing everything from running errands for each other to performing concerts from the end of their driveways. Great people doing things for others, some that they have never met before. All while doing it from a distance. It has always been that way around here. When someone is down there is a whole group to help them back up. We don’t wait for the Holiday Season to care for one another. For that, you all deserve a huge Thank You. This Holiday Season we may not be able to get together as we usually do but the spirit is there. Porch drop packages of joy and through the window greetings may have to replace our traditional celebrations but we will still enjoy one another’s company albeit it from a distance. And we have to keep our distance if in the future we want to be together. We have to maintain our love of each other and do so in a positive light. Remember those less fortunate and do little things to help when we can. Remember the charities, many of which continue to do their great work even though their support may have dropped due to the pandemic. Fundraising efforts have been deeply curtailed, yet the need goes on. Please make an effort to share with these organizations so they can continue to provide the services that now, more than ever, are needed. As we look forward to 2021 we can do so with anticipation of better times. Times that will allow us to join together again. But please be patient. Don’t put yourself or anyone else in unnecessary danger. Remember the three Ws. Wear your Mask, Wash Your Hands and Watch Your Distance. Have a Joyous Holiday Season.
Season’s Season’ Season’s s Gr Greetings eetings During this difficult Holiday Season and throughout the year, we extend our thanks to our community and wish you all the best. Colin Duggan
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A NEW WAY FORWARD Jennifer Jones Nominated for President of Rotary International
STORY BY MICHAEL SEGUIN
WHAT’S THERE TO SAY ABOUT A WOMAN like Jennifer Jones? Not nearly enough. Jennifer Jones has a long list of accolades and accomplishments. A graduate of the University of Windsor, Jennifer started her own television production company, Media Street Productions Inc., which the Windsor Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce once recognized as “Company of the Year.” It has also received 26 international awards for broadcasting excellence. “I started the company 25 years ago,” Jennifer explains. “Which is amazing to me. It feels like 5 minutes have gone by. We started the company with the intention of not only profiting ourselves, but perhaps more importantly, profiting our community. We’ve provided support to countless small, medium and large companies throughout our region. We’ve helped them to flourish and grow and that’s been reciprocated.” Aside from her professional roles, Jennifer is also a dedicated citizen and a proud member of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland. In Rotary, Jennifer’s talents have strengthened Rotary reach and impact, through many roles including as Trustee of the Rotary Foundation, RI Vice President and co-chair of the End Polio Now: Make History Today campaign, raising funds alongside Bill and Melinda Gates and their Foundation. Jennifer first became acquainted with Rotary as a Radio Reporter for CKLW. “The Rotary Club of Windsor 1918 was the largest club in our area,” Jennifer states. “I remember going to their meetings at a hotel down on Riverside Drive on the waterfront. I remember going into those meetings and being very intimidated. I was a young reporter, and here were all these incredible pillars of our community. All these businessmen that I looked up to and now, they’re all my dear friends.” However, despite her interest in the organization, Rotary International was still closed to women.
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Clockwise from opposite bottom: Jennifer Jones and husband Dr. Nick Krayacich attending the Rotary International Convention in Korea. Photo courtesy Jennifer Jones; Jennifer address the attendees at the Rotary International Assembly in San Diego, California. Photo courtesy Rotary International; providing polio drops during a National Immunization Day in India. Photo courtesy Jennifer Jones; attending the Rotary International Assembly with 2020-2021 Rotary International President, Holger Knaack. Photo courtesy Rotary International.
enhance ourselves in this organization,” Jennifer states. “Service is the common thread. Service and fellowship. People come to Rotary through many different paths but it’s because we want to do good in the world. There’s no secret handshake or anything like that. It’s all about what your passion point is. What kind of good do you want to do in the world?” And over the last 23 years, Jennifer has done a great deal of good in the world. As one of Rotary International’s most recognized communicators, she has presented keynote addresses and training workshops at hundreds of conferences across North America,
“Allowing women into Rotary took a Supreme Court ruling in 1987,” Jennifer recalls. “Our organization was formed back in 1905 by a lawyer in the Chicago area named Paul Harris. Flash forward to 1987 and it took a number of legislative tumbles, if you will, to get to that point.” Eventually, the rulings passed and Jennifer was asked to join the Rotary Club. “I was asked to join in 1997,” Jennifer explains. “The Manager of the local cable station, Ross Milne, asked me if I would come to a local Rotary meeting. So, that day, I walked into the room and it was comprised of men and women. I knew maybe a couple of folks in the room, but I really felt that I had arrived home, at a very comfortable place, filled with people who were likeminded. I knew immediately that this was a space for me.” Jennifer describes the Rotary as an organization of leaders who provide service to the community and the world. “Our vision statement says that, together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves,” Jennifer states. “And what I like about that statement is that those last two words really resonate with me. Lasting change within our communities and ourselves. Because Rotary is, regardless of what vocational background you come from, an opportunity for growth and development.” Ultimately, Rotary is about taking in leaders and making them even better. “There’s so many different ways we
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Russia, Panama, Thailand, Lisbon, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, Spain, Australia and Germany. After only five years with the organization, Jennifer was named President of the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland. From there, she went on to serve as District Governor and later an International Director at Rotary International. And now, earlier this year, Jennifer was one of six candidates nominated to the President of Rotary International for the 2022-2023 term. “We had finished a Zoom call with the nominating committee,” Jennifer states. “I had to wait about two or three hours as the interviews were conducted with the other candidates. They had made it clear that they would give us a call, regardless of the outcome. So, when my phone rang, I felt some apprehension. I was invited back onto Zoom. And then I was in stunned disbelief. I was so extraordinarily happy. I was very moved.” As of October 1st, Jennifer officially became the uncontested President-Nominee. When she takes office, it will be the first time a woman has led the 115-year-old organization. “For the last few years, I haven’t gone to an event where someone hasn’t asked, ‘When are we going to have a female president?’” Jennifer states. “There has been a palpable sense of people asking when this was going to happen. I’m very proud to have been selected as our first female president. But, I very much believe that I was selected for my qualifications, not my gender.” And the response Jennifer has received from her fellow Rotarians has been nothing short of earthshaking. “Rotary makes the world a very small community,” Jennifer states. “The response I’m getting from literally thousands and thousands of people around the world, has been very humbling and uplifting.” Jennifer is excited to take the reins of the organization in the face of our uncertain future. “I feel very privileged to have been selected at this point in time in history,” Jennifer states. “Going through this pandemic together is an opportunity to galvanize and strengthen our connections. I’m looking forward to helping many of our members to get through this period in our lives and come out stronger. We have the opportunity to support each other, protect each other and uplift each other. We can figure out a new way forward, together.” WLM Back to contents
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Let There Be Light! 38th Annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND / PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY NIAGARA FALLS TOURISM THERE IS NO PLACE quite like it on earth. Niagara Falls. Mark Twain set the Garden of Eden there in his story “Extracts from Adam’s Diary”, published in 1893 to commemorate the 1893 Buffalo Pan-American Exhibition. A stunt man has walked across it on a high wire. Madmen have gone over it in barrels. And the genius, Nicola Tesla, used it as the test ground for his ideas about the polyphase system for electric power generation in 1896 (even though Tesla’s work occurred on the “American side” of the Falls, there are multiple monuments commemorating his life and work on the “Canadian side”). The region has a history of combining electrical power and spectacle. The two come together, once again, beginning on November 14, when one of the most spectacular attractions in the country opens to the public: the 38th annual Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights. In a year where so many public events have been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, the OPG Winter Festival of Lights will not be denied. This is Canada’s largest free outdoor light festival, filled with stunning displays, illuminated by 3 million lights along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across Niagara Falls. The Festival runs nightly, 5 pm to midnight, until January 10, 2021. The events were kicked off with The Niagara Falls Santa Claus Parade Drive-Thru on November 14. It’s a unique idea, referred to as a “reverse parade”, where performers and displays remain in one location and spectators drive past in their vehicles on Queen Street in downtown Niagara Falls. The parade featured dancers, jugglers, stilt walkers, superheroes, colourful inflatables, community groups, music and, of course, good old Santa Claus as the Grand Finale. In previous years, there has been an opening ceremony, but due to the ongoing global pandemic, that aspect of the festival was cancelled this year. The first Festival of Lights was organized in 1982. It is now produced by Niagara Falls Tourism, in partnership with Niagara Parks Commission and business improvement areas within the tourism districts of Niagara Falls. “As a founding partner in the Winter Festival of Lights, I am excited to once again
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Clockwise from opposite bottom: Moose on Queen Victoria Park | Niagara Parkway; young girl checks out display; people looking at a star on Path of Trees in Queen Victoria Park | Niagara Parkway; City of Lights; Illuminated glass building on Niagara Parkway; Inukshuks on Dufferin Islands; The Sylma – Dufferin Islands.
welcome families for a special holiday tradition in Niagara Falls and in Niagara Parks,” parks commission chairwoman, Sandie Bellows, says in a Niagara Falls Review article. “I am so pleased that there are many safe ways to explore the festival this year and we look forward to creating special memories for everyone this season.” In past years, the festival has drawn crowds of over a million people, but it is likely that those numbers will drop this year because there are few, if any, international visitors. Ontario residents, however, can enjoy the lights either from their car, or the more hale and hearty can bundle up and stroll the wide-open park spaces—all the while maintaining safe social distance from other visitors. Human beings have such a primal response to light in the night. Anyone who has spent a night in Algonquin Park, or other such place, or even ventured down into a windowless cellar to grudgingly fetch a canned preserve, knows the human response to a dot of light in the darkness. Briticannica.com offers the sterile observation: “Light transmits spatial and temporal information.” Electric light is the center of civilization. The discovery of fire turned it all around for the first human beings. Cooking food and deriving warmth were world-shaking developments, but it was the staving off of the devouring dark that probably had the greatest psychological impact. But it’s more than that. To stroll through the frigid dark and then encounter a 12-foot tall lighted moose is exhilarating. There is an innate thrill in defying two immutable aspects of nature: cold and darkness. The “Displays” page of the wfol.com website shows no less than 50 gorgeous light displays. These range from the Zimmerman Fountain in Queen Victoria Park, Inukshuks on Dufferin Islands, the Floral Showhouse at the Floral Showhouse-Niagara Parkway, trees wrapped in lights along Niagara Parkway and Dufferin Islands, a family of moose at Queen Victoria Park-Niagara Parkway and, of course, the illuminated Falls, themselves. There is also the light show on the Toronto Power Generation Station. According to the wfol.com website, the Toronto Power Generating Station was completed in 1906 and was a central component of Ontario’s energy production through the first half of the 20th century. The plant closed in 1974. In 1983, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. In 2007, ownership of the plant was transferred to the Niagara Parks Commission. Beginning in 2015, 72 programmable DMX lights were installed on the historic building for the OPG Winter
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Festival of Lights, creating a spectacular sound and light show which occurs during the Festival Season. Quoted in a Niagara Falls Review article, Janice Thomson, president of Niagara Falls Tourism, says “Niagara Falls has earned an outstanding reputation as a reliable destination to create long-lasting memories and the Winter Festival of Lights is one of the signature events the city is known for.” With the province of Ontario fully into its Stage 3 opening, visitors to the Niagara Falls area are permitted to stay in hotels. What can they expect? Are the hotels taking extra measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19? Have they instituted any new safety policies? The most accurate answers to those questions can only be obtained on a case by case basis. Visitors considering traveling to Niagara Falls to see the Festival of Lights, or for any other reason, should be vigilant and proactive, asking their questions before making the reservation. In general, hotels—like every other business—have implemented measures to protect their guests’ health. Marriott, for instance, has a slickly produced video on its corporate website that assures guests that it provides all visitors with a safe environment “that aligns with expert protocols for working to defeat COVID-19”. The venerable hotel chain claims to have substantially revamped its cleaning and safety standards. From its public space and high traffic areas, surfaces are being cleaned more frequently, using “recommended cleaning agents”. Hand sanitizing stations have been or are currently being installed at hotel entrances, front desks, elevator banks, and meeting spaces. Visitors can expect to find plastic partitions at the front desk, as are found in most businesses that transact face-to-face with the public. They have added rigorous protocols to the cleaning of guest rooms, that all surfaces are cleaned with hospitalgrade disinfectants. The video even claims that they are leaving packets of disinfecting wipes in the room for guests to use at their own discretion. Is this happening at all hotels? Visitors will have to investigate that for themselves. To see an overview of the OPG’s Winter Festival of Lights attractions, visit wfol.com/lighting-displays/. For general information about the Festival, visit wfol.com. To learn more about health and safety guidelines within the Niagara Falls region, visit safetoplay.ca. WLM Back to contents
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BEST WAY TO IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY Winter is coming and that means everyone is getting ready to shut and seal windows and doors to keep the cold weather outside. That also means you might be dealing with low air quality inside your home. Do you have dry skin, frequent congestion, or excessive dust around your home? Don’t struggle to keep your indoor air fresh and clean this winter, follow these tips to improve your indoor air quality. REGULARLY CHECK AND CHANGE FURNACE FILTER Furnace filters are your first line of defense when it comes to improving your home’s air quality. Pleated filters provide better filtration and last longer. Depending on the compatibility with your furnace system, pleated filters come in thicknesses ranging from 1 inch to 5 inches; the thicker the filter the better it cleans the air. Filters collect dust and other allergens, helping prevent them from circulating throughout the rest of the house. For the best performance 1 inch filters should be changed every month whereas 5 inch filters can last 9 to 12 months. SCHEDULE FURNACE MAINTENANCE Performing annual maintenance on your home comfort equipment is highly recommended, this is especially important if you have an older system. By having maintenance done on your furnace a technician will clean key components, which not only help increase furnace efficiency but can also help improve indoor air quality. USE A PURIFIER & HUMIDIFIER Whole-home air purifiers can give your indoor air quality the added boost it needs. Filters trap the majority of harmful pollutants and particles but air purifiers have the ability to trap 99% of the harmful pollutants and bacteria that circulate throughout your home. Whole-home humidifier adds moisture to your home’s air and works with your heating system to circulate it to every room. That means you can stay warm and cozy without the problems associated with dry air, such as skin irritations and sore throats. Dry indoor air is common during the winter and it is known to cause dermatological and respiratory problems. It can also decrease the quality of air in your home because the lack of moisture allows pollutants to flow freely through the air. If you have concerns about your Indoor Air Quality, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss solutions that work best for your home.
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Local Singer-Songwriter Releases New Singles Exploring Two Different 2020s STORY BY MICHAEL SEGUIN / PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF FASANO
SOME PEOPLE TAKE a circuitous path towards reaching their forced to uproot her life when her husband left a year after the birth dreams. However, as Leamington’s Francine Honey has discovered, of their second child. Faced with a difficult decision, Francine sometimes the wait can make the rewards taste even sweeter. moved her two young children to Ottawa, where she got a job with Francine Honey is an award-winning singer-songwriter based in the Canadian Federal Government. Leamington. A lifelong musician, Francine first started singing “I basically had to restart my life in Ottawa,” Francine states. “I when she was six years old. was a government employee for many, many, many years. I kept “It all started with the choir,” Francine states. “I started taking writing songs, but music stayed on the backburner. I was by myself, piano lessons and studying classical music. Then, when I was 12, raising two kids.” I discovered the Beatles and pop music. So, I ditched the piano and Before Francine knew it, 17 years had gone by. After her daughter wrote my first song.” went off to university, Francine’s son Francine continued singing throughstarted pressuring her to take up a out her teen years, performing in new hobby. several different local talent shows. “Dave kept saying, ‘You know, That said, when it came time for Mom, you need to get a life!’” Frangraduation, Francine was faced with a cine states. “He was worried about difficult decision. me. He said, ‘Mom, you’ve lived your “I wasn’t sure what to do after high whole life for Virginia and I. What school,” Francine recalls. “I didn’t think are you going to do when I leave?’ He I was good enough to do music on my just needed to make sure that I would own. But, I was also really good at be okay so that he could go off and math. So, I ended up going to univerlive his own life.” sity to get my degree in Computer Encouraged by her son’s advice, Science and Mathematics, specializing Francine went out and bought guitar in robotics. I guess I was going to build strings and a tuner. robots and all that kind of fun stuff.” “I dragged the guitar out from under For a while, it seemed as though life my bed,” Francine recalls. “And I was going to unfold somewhat predictstarted writing songs.” Before long, Top: Country musician Francine Honey. Above: to be continued… was recorded with producer Nielson Hubbard. ably for Francine. However, she was Francine was performing at open-mic
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nights. And for the 2008 holiday season, she surprised her relatives by making them all Christmas songs. “After work, I would record these songs as Christmas gifts for my family and friends,” Francine states. “I printed off 50 CDs and gave them to everybody. Then, I started getting calls a few weeks later. People kept saying, ‘Can I buy some of more of these?’ And I said, ‘Really?’” Francine’s Christmas songs became her debut self-produced album, An Ordinary Woman. Buoyed by her loved ones, she ended up selling 500 copies over the next couple months. “I couldn’t believe it,” Francine admits. “I was selling these crazy little songs I recorded in the living room, with my son playing bass and my cats meowing in the background.” Before long, Francine’s love for music and songwriting was burning brighter than ever. “When I turned 40, I went on a trip to Arizona,” Francine recalls. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do with all these songs with finish later written on the bottom?’ I had hundreds and hundreds of songs that I’d written over the years. So, when I was on this trip, I decided that I had 10 years to finish a bunch of songs and work on my songwriting. Then, at 50, I was going to take a year off from work and take to the road. I would travel around the world and sing my songs to whoever would listen. And when I ran out of money, I would just come home and go back to work.” Once again, life had other plans for Francine. She ended up meeting her future partner, Michael, and quitting her job altogether at 47 to pursue music full-time. And the last few years have been productive ones. After moving to Leamington with Michael in 2013, Francine enrolled in the Berklee College of Music Professional Singer-Songwriter Certificate Program. She regularly makes the nine-hour drive from Leamington to Nashville, where she has attended writing workshops by industry icons like Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mike Reid, Mary Gauthier and others. In 2014, she released her second album, Re-Drawn, which was produced by Lang Bliss in Nashville. She followed it up a year later with her Extended Play Record, An Ordinary Woman (In Studio). And while in Nashville, Francine eventually courted her future producer, the Grammy-nominated Nielson Hubbard. “I was attending a workshop in Nashville by Gretchen Peters,” Francine recalls. “By then, I had recorded my first two albums
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BENEFITS OF AN AIR CONDITIONER, FURNACE OR WATER HEATER FROM US: No up-front costs, plus zero parts and labour charge for all your repairs¹
Free repairs & maintenance by our licensed technicians¹
No cash outlay - installation included¹
Competitive rates with affordable monthly payments
FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL: 519-979-2090 * Offer expires December 31, 2020. Cannot be combined with any other offer and is only available to new customers who enter into a new rental water heater, furnace and air conditioner rental agreement with Enercare Home and Commercial Services Limited Partnership (“Enercare”). We reserve the right to change or cancel this offer at any time without prior notice. Certain terms and conditions apply. Residential customers will receive a $300 Prepaid Mastercard per new installation of all natural gas water heater, furnace or air conditioner models, up to a maximum of $900 Prepaid Mastercard for new installations of all three equipment, and a $100 Prepaid Mastercard for a new installation of all electric water heaters. Residential customers do not pay for the initial three months of the lease term and monthly payments commence in the fourth month of the rental term. Payments continue throughout the useful life of the water heater, furnace and/or air conditioner, as applicable. See rental agreement for full terms and conditions. Additionally, residential customers may qualify for a Prepaid Mastercard up to $300 as reimbursement for account closure charges that may be incurred when the customer leaves their current supplier. Account closure charges may vary based on the terms and conditions of the supplier’s contract. Terms and conditions apply. Offer only valid in select areas. Enercare reserves the right to change or cancel this offer at any time without prior notice. Contact Enercare at 1-844-363-7227 for details. Prepaid Mastercard cards are accepted wherever Mastercard is accepted. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of the Prepaid Mastercard once the water heater, furnace and air conditioner is installed. Card is issued by Peoples Trust Company pursuant to a license by Mastercard International Incorporated. ®/™Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. No cash access or recurring payments. Card valid for up to 6 months; unused funds will be forfeited at midnight EST the last day of the month of the valid thru date. Card terms and conditions apply. ¹ Offer only available in select areas. See rental agreement terms and conditions for details. ®Enercare and the design are registered trademarks of Enercare Inc., used under license.
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and they were pretty well produced, but they still didn’t have the sound that I hear in my head. So, when I heard Gretchen’s album, Black Birds, I immediately signed up for her workshop. I went all the way down to Nashville just to ask her, ‘What is that sound and how do I get it?’” Gretchen encouraged Francine to reach out to her producer, Nielson. He was impressed by her sound and, together, they recorded her third album. “to be continued”… received critical acclaim, and was a finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition in two categories for her song “Stay.” She followed up the success with a number of other singles and her holiday album, Take Me To The North Pole, which released last December. And most recently, Francine has dropped two new songs, “2020 Vision” and “Can’t Press Reset.” “This January, while I was down in Nashville working on an album, I recorded this song called ‘2020 Vision,’” Francine explains. “When I started working for the federal government all those years ago, the year 2020 was supposed to be the year I retired. I remembered thinking about how far away that was! So, I wrote this song about 2020, and how important this year seemed back then.” However, the unprecedented events of this year gave Francine pause. “I was ready to release it in March, when the pandemic hit,” Francine states. “I couldn’t release a song about how great 2020 was then!” Returning to her in-home studio, Francine recorded a companion to “2020 Vision” called “Can’t Press Reset.” “It’s a very personal song,” Francine explains. “It’s all about what actually happened this year. About how we all feel that 2020 has gone down the tubes. And about how many people I’ve heard saying, ‘Can we just press reset? Can we press the reset button?’” While most of her songs are layered with metaphor, “Can’t Press Reset” is Francine’s frankest musical accomplishment. “It’s all about the world right now, as I see it,” Francine states. “The world needs more love. The song is really about transforming. It’s all about how we all need to come together, as one human race.” Francine plans on releasing her next album, Unfinished Business, next year. More information about Francine is available at francinehoney.com. WLM Back to contents
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WINDSORESSEX COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
This year, the Talis Group has partnered with Transition to Betterness (T2B) to spread some holiday cheer. The Light Up the City event will sponsor a holiday light install for local families this holiday season. Proceeds benefit T2B. Contact the Talis Group for more information on sponsorship packages. email@example.com or 519-250-1400. Pictured are Keegan Brennan and Phil Piccinin (back row) with Meghan Brennan and Jay Lutsch (front row).
On November 6th, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation (WECF) invited us all to take part in Random Act of Kindness Day. As part of the dayâ€™s message, WECF, along with VON, distributed 200 cookies to the Meals on Wheels Program, the City of Windsor encouraged 300+ employees to submit a statement about someone they work with that does good things for others. RBC Dominion Securities provided Begley School with cash for student supplies and food cards to help the children and their families. wecf.ca. 519-255-6572.
TOWN AND COUNTRY ANIMAL CLINIC ST. CLAIR COLLEGE SPORTS PARK On November 17th, St. Clair College hosted the ribbon cutting ceremony their new 14.75 acre Sports Park. The Sports Park includes a soccer/football stadium, the Ladies Softball Diamond, the Zekelman Tennis Centre, the Sand Volleyball Complex and various student social settings. Pictured is Ron Seguin, Vice President International Relations, Campus Development & Student Services, Patti France, President St. Clair College, Nancy JammuTaylor, Chair Board of Governors, Barry and Stephanie Zekelman, Gary McNamara, Essex County Warden, Jim Morrison, City of Windsor Councillor, Jorge Gutierrez Calzada, President Student Representative Council. stclaircollege.ca.
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Town and Country Animal Clinic is celebrating their 40th anniversary. What was once a small clinic on a horse farm has evolved into a state-of-the-art facility that provides highly skilled veterinary care. The dedicated staff share the clinicâ€™s mission of offering excellent service to their clients and compassionate care to pets at all times. Pictured is owner, Dr. Robert Fetherston. townandcountryanimalclinic.ca. 519-250-0099.
MELCO COMMUNITY HOUSING Last month, the owners of Champion Products, India 47 and Royal 47 Golf Club donated $11,000 in support of Melco CHC's newest initiative 'Housing For Survivors'. Melco Community Housing was founded in 2008 to provide residential and support services for various vulnerable populations in the community. Melco Community Housing is the largest COAHP (Canada Ontario Affordable Housing Proponent) in Windsor/Essex and continues to find innovative ways to better serve the community. Pictured are Paul Sidhu, Nick Aujla, Katie Radford, Ashok Sood and Andy Pabla. melcochc.com. firstname.lastname@example.org.
STILLWATER SKIN CENTRE & MEDSPA On December 6th, Stillwater Skin Centre & MedSpa will be celebrating the one year anniversary of their new 4000 square foot location on 5970 Tecumseh Road East. Stillwater is a full-service wellness centre that specializes in clinical skin health treatments. The dedicated staff has the ability to diagnose the trigger of skin ailments and conditions and rebalance the skin with nutrition. Pictured is owner Sarah Rivard. stillwaterskincentre.com. 519-551-0590.
TOURISM WINDSOR ESSEX PELEE ISLAND Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island has won the Marketing Campaign Under $50k Award of Excellence for their yqgholidays.ca campaign at the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s (TIAO) Ontario Tourism Summit, presented virtually during the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence. This award recognizes Tourism Windsor Essex’s ongoing efforts to bolster the image and economy of the region by developing, marketing, and promoting our destination. Pictured left to right are Jason Toner, Director of Marketing and Communications, Gordon Orr, CEO and Lynnette Bain, Vice President Destination Development. visitwindsoressex.com.
UofW BOARD CHAIRMAN The University of Windsor is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Allison to a two-year term as Chair of the Board of Governors, effective November 25, 2020. Allison also serves as the Chair of the Board Investment Committee, and previously served as the Board’s First ViceChair and Second Vice-Chair and a member of both the Board Resource Allocation Committee and the Board Executive Committee. Allison is also Vice President, Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor for RBC Wealth Management Dominion Securities and the founding partner of the Allison Martinello Group.
TWIGG’S BAR & GRILL After last September’s fire, Twigg’s Bar & Grill has opened their rebuilt restaurant on the same property: 1207 County Rd. 22, Emeryville. Twigg’s has over 10 draught beers, great pub-fare food and amazing service! Pictured is Owner Melissa PopkeySkene. twiggsbarandgrill.com. 519-727-8704. Back to contents H o l i d a y
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STEPHEN GIBB Art That Unnerves and Illuminates
STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND
A VISIT TO STEPHEN GIBB’S website/online gallery is like a stroll through a nightmare carnival of leering faces—some smiling maniacally, some in terror—where the observer sees how characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes spend their time off. You wouldn’t want to meet Stephen’s vision of Tweedle Dum in a park after sunset. In this world, Humpty Dumpty may have deserved his great fall. And the dish running away with the spoon might be just as well. Born and raised in Amherstburg, trained as a visual artist at the University of Windsor, Stephen is quick to reassure people that he’s just an ordinary guy. This is probably true. Although his art may be a sucker punch to certain observers, it’s among the sanest, visionary work around. There is no way to avoid experiencing an immediate, visceral response when viewing it. The easy label for Stephen’s paintings is “surrealism”. It’s not inaccurate, but it’s also not complete. When pressed to categorize his work, Stephen describes it as “existential editorial cartoon realism” or “Bubblegum Surrealism”. Stephen offers a bit more help: “If you see my paintings as an amalgamation of the freedom and madness of surrealism, the humour of Mad magazine, the hyperbolic insanity of hot rod artist ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, the irony and morality of the Twilight Zone, the crazy colour and illogic of psychedelic art, the chaos and wonder of Bosch and Bruegel and the tidy logic and storytelling of Norman Rockwell… then it makes perfect sense.” Is he trying to make a statement with his work? “Of course,” Stephen says. “I use the language of cartoons, pop art and surrealism to convey a subtly-coded message with latitude for interpretation.” He acknowledges that some people are put off by that, thinking he is teasing them, or trying to pull one over on them. Others connect instantly with it. Stephen’s paintings are so striking and singular, they strain a writer’s powers to describe
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Artist, Stephen Gibb
them. His work is filled with references to time and space, history, pre-history, psychology, science, fast food, pop culture. They are populated by a variety of bastardized leering, frightened, crazed happy faces and characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and other lost souls who crossed his mind in that moment of creation. The works are stunning in their detail. Their titles are essential components—no modernist “Untitled” among them. And one would guess that whole treatises could be written about the meaning behind any single painting. Inspiration for his work often derives from very literal, mundane sources, such as a phrase or idiom. “For instance, I have a piece titled ‘Caught’,” Stephen explains, referring to his 2018 painting. “The images play off various expressions relating to being caught: ‘Caught red-handed’, ‘Caught with your hand in the cookie jar’, ‘Caught with your pants down’, ‘Like a deer caught in headlights’, and so on…” His painting “Last Days of the Plague” (2020) was inspired by the COVID-19 outbreak. “It comes out of the situation we have all endured for the past eight months,” he says. “I played with the idea of contamination and plague. I combined that with the carefree
carelessness people have exhibited by not wearing masks, not abiding by certain restrictions. The old timey diving suit is an iconic image of someone trying to distance himself, protect himself, but in this case he is compromised by the piranha biting his leg.” One recurring character in Stephen’s work is Humpty Dumpty: “He is my go-to guy. Being an egg, he represents the frailty of the human condition.” There have been a few “eureka” moments in Stephen’s development as an artist. First among them, at age eleven, was his discovery of the work of Hieronymus Bosch, a Dutch artist who lived 1450 – 1516. Bosch is known for his vivid, hyperdetailed, grotesque paintings, “Garden of Earthly Delights”, among others. Another such epiphany occurred about fifteen years ago when Stephen realized he needed to invest his characters with more H o l i d a y
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exaggerated emotions. “Once I did that, it opened the doors for me,” he says. “My work was finally communicating what I wanted—an over-the-top, hyperbolic emotion.” Stephen sells a fair number of his paintings. “My work has been collected by folks from around the globe and I seem to be regularly shipping pieces here and there. My work is also carried by the St. Germain Gallery in Toronto.” Other career highlights include showing work in several exhibits in the Los Angeles area (including west Hollywood). The first of which was curated by Mark Ryden, the so-called “godfather of pop surrealism”. In 2018, Stephen was commissioned to create artwork for rapper Trippie Redd’s album Life’s a Trip. Stephen describes the physical process of creating his art on his website: “The medium is the method, which is a faithful deployment of oil paint using traditional oil painting techniques, such as glazing and the occasional dalliance into chiaroscuro. The richness achieved by layers of thinned oil paint on wood panels always adds an interesting luminous vitality to the final piece.” Now, we all have the secret. Not quite. The longest Stephen has spent creating a painting was close to a month. In general, a mid-sized work of, say, 3’ x 2’, can be completed in two weeks. Responses to his work range from uncomfortable, sidelong glances to outright laughter. “Everyone responds in their own way,” he says. “I get the most satisfaction from laughter. If someone laughs, it’s clear they’ve understood what I have done.” All his work is worth checking out, but if there is one piece that encapsulates his vision, it is his 2019 painting “The Empty Visual Discourse of a Reluctant Pop Surrealist”. The central character suckles from a human/hybrid monstrosity. Off to the left are four round, coloured heads, that represent advertising—each mocking the central figure with vastly differing facial expressions: fear, mirth, malice and trauma. Even viewing it while seated on one’s living room couch, it’s something that makes the observer take a step backward. “The painting’s about how consumerism leaves you empty,” Stephen explains. “There is no fulfillment, just fleeting, insubstantial satisfaction.” To glimpse the madness and genius of Stephen Gibb, check out the gallery on his website www.stephengibb.com. WLM Back to contents
A Scientiﬁc Approach to Rebalancing the Skin It’s the human body’s largest organ and most of us do not give it a second thought. Our skin. Sarah Rivard OWNER We don’t give it a second thought, that is, until there is a “disturbance in the Force”, such as pain, irritation, or something that affects our self-image, such as acne, pigmentation variance, premature aging, scars, just to name a few. The world abounds in “Band Aid” solutions, but where can a person turn for real, actual relief? To the professionals at the Stillwater Skin Center & MedSpa. Stillwater owner, Sarah Rivard puts it simply: “We can help you with anything that you weren’t born with that affects you socially. I deal with correction.” Sarah has been a certified Medical Esthetic Practitioner for the past 17 years, helping people with skin ailments and therapeutic facials. This is her first year in business, but she has years of success and experience. Stillwater has a full team that performs an array of treatments, which include full body treatments, lymphatic drainage massage, manicures, pedicures, waxing and lash extensions.
“With every piece of information, I slowly connect the dots,” Sarah says. It’s all about identifying the “triggers”. Products exist to treat the surface problem but Sarah’s philosophy centers on getting to the root cause and treating that. She knows because she experienced it in her own life. “Years ago, I struggled with my own conditions,” she remembers. “My skin was very reactive and inflamed. Everything I tried either burned or tingled.” Then, using her own knowledge of skin, she began supplementing nutrition. “That’s when I started seeing positive results.” People have taken notice of her work. “I’ve seen 700 guests in the past five months,” Sarah reveals. And this during a global pandemic where the clinic has been closed longer than it’s been open. The secret of her success is no secret at all. It’s training, experience and treating the triggers, not the surface manifestation of skin problems. Stillwater uses the world's #1 Medical Grade Vitamin Skin Care, comprised of nano vitamins which absorb deeply into the skin.
“Very often, guests come in, believing their problem is one thing,” Sarah explains, “but it turns out to be something else, entirely. Healing begins when you address what’s triggering the condition.” The process begins with the guest completing an Intake Form. This is followed by a consultation, where Sarah learns about their diet, work and lifestyle. “We do a lot of listening, here.” This part of the process involves blackbox technology that puts Stillwater head-and-shoulders above its competition. We cannot peel behind the veil in this setting, but suffice it to say this technology allows Sarah and her team to see five layers into the skin.
Sarah educates guests each step of the process, remarking, “The good news is that we have many routes to healing skin.” Guests find this very empowering. Many have suffered in silence for years, and it is often a very emotional experience when they realize relief is on the way. “Every one of our treatments is completely customized,” Sarah says. “All of our products are plant and fruit derived. We are a full service wellness centre that offers full body care and restoration. A beautiful spa along with healthy clinical correction." For more information about how Stillwater Skin Centre & MedSpa can help you, visit their website at stillwaterskincentre.com.
5970 Tecumseh Road East, Windsor | 519-551-0590 | stillwaterskincentre.com
MCKENNA LUMLEY Teen Receives Award From The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada STORY BY MICHAEL SEGUIN
Few young people are as remarkable—or have endured as much—as Windsor’s Mckenna Lumley. When she was four years old, Mckenna’s mother, Karen Metcalfe, noticed that her daughter was displaying some unusual behavior. “She had just started Junior Kindergarten,” Karen recalls. “She was always this happy, healthy kid. There was nothing wrong with her. But, in hindsight, there were things going on that I recognize now. She would go to put her head back in the bathtub to wash her hair, and then stop. She’d stop and say, ‘That’s as far as I’m going.’ And she was always so even-tempered, but she started getting frustrated over little things.” Mckenna’s symptoms worsened after falling during a family skating trip on Christmas Eve. “She started waking up at five in the morning, screaming and crying because of pain in her neck,” Karen explains. “And then she’d throw up, because of the pressure in her brain.” Read the complete story at windsorlife.com.
SIMPLY THE BEST
Windsor Pet Budgie Lands On a National Calendar STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND / PHOTOGRAPHY BY PARVEEN RAZVI
Lemon, the Windsor pet budgie, soared above the competition. At the beginning of June this year, Pet Valu put out a call to pet owners across the country for submissions for its annual fundraising calendar which benefits the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. This year, they received more than 60,000 entries through their Facebook page, ranging from horses to gerbils and fish and countless dogs and cats. Over the course of two intense weeks, that number was whittled down to a Top 100. From that elite group of Canadian pets, the winners were chosen. Lemon was among the 17 pets who made the cut. Her winning photo showed her balancing on top of a Jack-o-Lantern. “That’s one of her favorite toys,” says Lemon’s “sister”, Parveen Razvi. Aside from her natural beauty and striking poise—which makes her unusually photogenic— Lemon counts among her talents the ability to recite several phrases and mimic various sounds. Read the complete story at windsorlife.com.
WINDSOR ESSEX SEWING FORCE
Stepping Up To Combat Facemask Shortage
STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND
When the COVID-19 pandemic landed on the world with both feet, citizen volunteers immediately launched into action, creating homemade hospital facemasks, caps and gowns to make up the shocking shortfall of personal protective equipment (PPE) in our healthcare system: i.e. medical facemasks, caps, and gowns. For anyone who thinks this involved a few elderly craftspeople setting aside their doilies and Queen Elizabeth commemorative needle-point, think again. The effort, which ultimately became the Windsor-Essex Sewing Force (WESF) more resembles a military operation in its scope, recruitment of personnel and logistical challenges. Read the complete story at windsorlife.com.
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APPETIT! dining & nightlife guide
Brews & Cues - LaSalle’s premium destination for craft beer, award winning wings and pool tables. Private party rooms available for groups up to 60. Call to reserve. 5663 Ojibway, LaSalle 519-972-7200. brewsandcues.net Carrots N’ Dates – A health-forward restaurant & bake shoppe that offers delicious meals made with whole foods. Full-service bar, coffee, juices, baked goods, breakfast-dinner menu items and more. Famous for our Pad Thai Sauce! Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm 1125 Lesperance Rd., Tecumseh 519-735-0447 Capri Pizzeria - Check out our take-out menu and be tempted by our famous pizzas, great pastas, fresh salads and much more! Penny more, penny less, Capri Pizza is still the best! 3020 Dougall Ave. 519-969-6851 Cramdon’s Tap and Eatery - South Windsor’s friendly gathering place. Offering great food at affordable prices. Satellite sports and billiards in a pub-like setting. www.cramdons.com 2950 Dougall Ave. 519-966-1228 Eddy’s Tabouli – Discover Windsor’s newest source for authentic, homemade Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Fully-stocked wine menu. 1614 Lesperance Road. 519-979-9600. taboulibyeddys.ca. Frank Brewing Company - FRANK is pure, straight-to-the-point, old-fashioned beer crafted with dedication and pride. Beer-loving folk enjoy FRANK's small-batch brews made with only four natural and simple ingredients: water, hops, grain and yeast; and foodies enjoy the small plates, pizzas and sandwiches for pairing, and all the peanuts you can shell. 12000 Tecumseh Rd. E., Tecumseh, ON 519-956-9822 Fratelli Pasta Grill - Offering flavour drenched “woodfire” grilled steaks, seafood and pasta dishes. A fresh and healthy selection of modern and time tested classics. Located behind McDonald’s on Manning Rd. in Tecumseh. Take-out, catering, private parties. For reservations call 519-735-0355. fratellipastagrill.com The Hungry Wolf - The Hungry Wolf serves up Windsor’s best Greek, Canadian, Mexican and Lebanese food. Home of the best gyros in Windsor! hungrywolfrestaurant.com. 3422 Walker Rd., Windsor 519-250-0811. 25 Amy Croft Dr., Tecumseh 519-735-0072.
Joe Schmoe’s Eats N’ Drinks - Family friendly restaurant in LaSalle. Handcrafted burgers, sandwiches and salads. Fresh ingredients and house made sauces. Local wines; 12 Ontario
A unique dining experience for the whole family!
DINE IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT VOTED READER'S CHOICE BEST OF CHATHAM KENT AWARD Most Romantic•Best in Fine Dining•Best Italian Restaurant 2 BANQUET ROOMS TO HOLD YOUR UPCOMING EVENT | CATERING | GIFT CARDS AVAILABLE 231 King Street West, Downtown Chatham, ON • 519.360.1600 • mammamariasristorante.ca
Now Offering holiday dessert boxes • Gift cards “Home of the Best Gyros in Windsor” HUNGRYWOLFRESTAURANT.COM 3422 Walker Rd., Windsor | 519.250.0811 25 Amy Croft Dr., Tecumseh | 519.735-0072
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519-727-5757 email@example.com 834 Lakeshore Rd. 107 RR3, Essex
Offering a wide variety of baked goods made daily featuring organic, gluten free, healthy ingredients. Serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Monday - Saturday 9 am - 9 pm; Closed Sunday 1125 Lesperance Rd.
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craft and commercial beers on tap. HDTVs. Fast, cheerful service. 5881 Malden Rd. (behind Rexall). 519-250-5522 www.eatatjoes.ca Johnny Shotz - Tecumseh’s #1 roadhouse and home of the Chicken Deluxe. Serving Halibut every Friday. Breakfast served Sunday. 37 HD TVs, 15 beers on tap. Follow us on facebook. 13037 Tecumseh Rd. E. 519-735-7005 Nola’s, A Taste Of New Orleans - Located in Historic Walkerville. Cajun and Creole cuisine with the New Orleans Twist. Lunch dinner and lots of parking. nolaswindsor.com 1526 Wyandotte Street East. 519-253-1234. O’Maggio’s Kildare House - British-style pub. Award-winning halibut fish and chips, housemade burgers, Irish nachos and crispy chicken wings. 21 cold beers on tap. Live music several nights a week. Outdoor patio. Takeout or dine in. 1880 Wyandotte St. E., Windsor. 519-915-1066. kildarehouse.com. Paramount Fine Foods - Serving flavourful Lebanese dishes like no other! Famous for charcoal BBQ meats, including vegetarian and vegan options. Dine in, take-out and catering. Kids play area available. 3184 Dougall Ave., Windsor 519-915-9020. paramountfinefoods.com. The Parlour Ice Cream Co.- Satisfy your sweet tooth with premium Canadian made ice cream. 24 flavours, 15 Belgian chocolate dips to drizzle, ice cream cakes, milkshakes and so much more! Open Year Round. theparlourlasalle.ca 5881 Malden Rd. Unit D3, LaSalle 519-970-9665
Spago – A legacy that stretches all the way back to the streets of Casalvieri. Fresh pasta noodles, authentic Italian dishes and traditional homemade desserts—all made daily. Impeccable service. Fresh, genuine ingredients from land to mouth. Enjoy the taste of Italy! 3850 Dougall Avenue. 519-915-6469. www.spago.ca.
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Gift Certificates Available for everyone on your Christmas list! Tecumseh Auto-Spa Club
1611 Manning Rd. 519-735-2795
Tea House Windsor - Local cafeteria offers Eastern/Western snacks with coffees, teas and drinks. We make all fresh with the specialty of Pink Kashmiri tea. Dine in, take-out, catering. Frozen homemade snacks available. Halal options. Mon-fri 9am-4pm. Closed weekends and holidays. Located in the Jackson Park Health Centre. 2475 McDougall St., Windsor Call to order: 226-348-6151 Vito’s Pizzeria - Rustic Italian restaurant serving woodfired pizza, fresh pasta, veal, chicken, grilled steaks and seafood. Wonderful wine selection. Private party spaces. Food truck and portable pizza oven for offsite catering. 1731 Wyandotte St. E., Windsor. 519-915-6145. firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on listings and advertising in Bon Appetit! please call 519-979-5433. Back to contents
MEAL COMBINATIONS (minimum 10 people per order)
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Fresh Rolls and Butter FESTIVE SALAD Romaine Hearts, Mandarin Oranges, Dried Cranberries & Roasted Almonds served with a Riesling Vinaigrette OR HOLIDAY SALAD Green Apple and Roasted Beets with Baby Greens served with a Cranberry Vinaigrette And your choice of
Sliced Glazed Ham with Spiced Apple Chutney, Penne with Blush Sauce, Scalloped or Whipped Potatoes, Buttered Vegetable Medley $18.95 person
Holiday Specialty Cookies (minimum 2 dozen)
Sliced Slow Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy, Bread Stuffing, Scalloped or Whipped Potatoes, Buttered String Beans $16.95 person
10â€? Fruit Pies with a choice of Apple, Strawberry Rhubarb or Blueberry
Cranberry Glazed Roasted Chicken, Scalloped or Whipped Potatoes, Penne with Tomato Basil Sauce, Maple Glazed Carrot Coins $17.95 person Slow Roasted Beef with Mushroom Jus, Scalloped or Whipped Potatoes, Penne with Tomato Basil Sauce, Buttered Baby Carrots $20.95 person
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WRITING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS Windsor Life Revisits Some Very Interesting Stories From Years Past
Windsor Life checks-in with the people at the center of some of our most interesting past stories. DERKZ Windsor artist, David Derkatz (known professionally as DERKZ), appeared in Summer 2020 issue of Windsor Life. People who might not know the name will certainly have seen his work around the city, namely the tribute to our healthcare workers, which he painted on a wall of Penalty Box at the corner of Walker and Tecumseh Road. DERKZ writes in with an update: Hello Windsor! It was only a couple of months ago that Windsor Life reached out and did a story on me. Since then, I made a trip to California to paint a mural at the Future Elite Academy facility. I painted a sports-themed mural on a wall in their 12,000 square foot facility. It was an unforgettable experience—particularly, when I got home and had to quarantine for 14 days. After quarantine, I wanted to do something for the community, to say thank you to our front line healthcare workers. My mother has been a nurse for the past 40 years and my sister’s husband is a nurse in Michigan. I wanted to give something back. I went to Penalty Box and pitched my idea to its owner, Van. He was very receptive and wanted to do something to honour our healthcare workers, too. I made the pitch in April and finally, in mid-September, I began working on the mural on the Penalty Box wall. I recruited registered nurse Jamie Osborn, who used to work at Penalty Box and Dr. Eli Malus to be models. It took a little over two weeks to complete, but it resulted in one of my most impactful works. The public response to the mural has been great. Before the pandemic, I had projects lined up with clients in Colorado, Oklahoma City and Michigan. These have all been postponed due to COVID-19. So, I have signed up for a number of local projects. I’ll be working at locations in Windsor, LaSalle and Belle River, just to name a few. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from the community. It’s taken years of painstaking work to get to a point where so many people are seeing my work. For anyone who would like to see more of my work, you can check out my Instagram: www.instagram.com/derkz/ Merry Christmas! – DERKZ
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PHOTO BY EDWIN TAM
STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND
Emma Stewart For the Autumn 2017 issue of Windsor Life, 13-year-old Windsor ballet dancer, Emma Stewart, shared her battle with scoliosis while training to be in top condition for her last chance at a spot in Canada’s National Ballet School. Hi Everybody! I’m now in Grade 11 at Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). It’s hard to believe this is my 4th year at one of the world’s top ballet schools. The year before I started at NBS (when I was 12) I was diagnosed with scoliosis. It was a scary time, not only for my health but because it could threaten my future as a dancer. It also affected my ballet training because it compromised my alignment. Since then I’ve been wearing a nighttime brace and doing exercises to prevent the curve from getting worse. While it’s been an up and down battle, my most recent tests showed the curve has improved a great deal—and my doctor told me I could stop wearing the brace! That was great news! We have a rigorous schedule at NBS. I start at 8:30 in the morning, and don’t get back to Residence until 7 o’clock in the evening. This
PHOTO BY FRANK PICCOLO
Greetings from the editing suite! We took Boys vs. Girls on the film festival circuit during the winter of 2019/spring 2020. The movie won a number of awards, including the Best Feature Film & Audience Choice at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature at the Canadian International Comedy Film Festival, and Best Ensemble Cast at the Florida Comedy Film Festival. These were helpful in landing distribution deals with Mongrel Media, in the Canadian market, and Gravitas Ventures for the U.S. and global markets. Boys vs. Girls will be available on most videoon-demand (VOD) platforms, including Google Play and Apple Movies, starting December 22, 2020. The cast and crew are as happy as I am about this deal. More than that, it demonstrates: Yes, it can be done in Windsor. Boys vs. Girls was shot entirely in the city. We had a crew of 55 people,
Mark Chichkan The September 2017 issue was the last time Windsor Life sat down with one of the hardest working musicians in Windsor, Mark Chichkan. The veteran guitarist and vocalist—for whom one or three bands is just not enough— had some very interesting updates to share: Hello from the home studio, Like everybody else, I’ve trying to make the most of the enforced downtime brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, so I’ve been spending time in my home studio, working on some original songs. Funny—I love the creative process, but when I’m playing 15-16 shows a month, and trying to have a life with my family, songwriting’s just one of those things that gets put off for another day. Something else I had put off for a good, long time was having the pain and numbness in my fret hand looked at. Maybe I’m
Mike Stasko, Boys vs Girls Mike Stasko is a Windsor filmmaker who appeared in the Holiday Issue 2019 of Windsor Life, talking about his new movie, Boys vs. Girls, which was crewed and filmed in Windsor during the summer of 2018. Mike writes-in with an update:
95 percent of whom were Windsor-based. When people see the film, yes, my name is up there, but there are 50 other Windsor artists who made it happen. Not only was it possible to pull this off in Windsor, it’s repeatable. Readers can stay up to date on where the film will be available by visiting www.boysvgirlsmovie.ca. Before the pandemic happened, I was geared-up to shoot my next project in August, but like everybody else’s plans since March, it was postponed. I can say I have three different scripts that I want to do. Making my first feature film, Thing to Do, was the hardest one. I had no track record at the time, but managed to get distribution for the movie. Now that I have my fifth movie under my belt, I know the path, I know the process now and how to avoid many of the pitfalls. There definitely will be a next project, it’s just hard to say when. So, stay tuned! – Mike
PHOTO BY DAN BOSHART
leaves time for homework and a bit of relaxing before preparing for the next day’s routine. Every day, I have four and a half hours of academic classes and four hours of ballet classes. On Saturdays, I take two more hours of ballet, and have a few hours of additional training throughout the week. Like everywhere else, COVID-19 has affected life here too. We follow strict health and safety guidelines and wear masks everywhere we go. Our socializing and activities outside of school are restricted, too. When I finish Grade 12, there are several paths I can take. I’ll probably audition with a professional ballet company either in Canada or in another country. Or I might return to NBS in their Post-Secondary Program to continue working on my skills. However, due to the uncertainty with COVID-19, I’m keeping open the option of going directly to university to study medicine or health sciences. So that’s what’s been going on in my life. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And stay safe! – Emma
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superstitious but I thought if I just ignored the problem long enough, it would sort itself out. That didn’t happen. Finally, I went to see a doctor and learned that I had carpal tunnel syndrome. It was like a painter hearing that he might lose his vision, or an athlete that he might lose the use of his legs. As a lifelong working musician, I feared it was the end of my career. Worse, the pandemic made it impossible to have corrective surgery any time soon. Finally, in mid-August, the good doctors at London’s Upper Hand and Limb Clinic performed the surgery—half an hour, in and out and then on my way home. There wasn’t much pain, which I found encouraging. I worked on my exercises for a few weeks. The first time I picked up a guitar, I was like, “Oh my God”, when I tried bending a note. Very painful. So, I continued with my exercises, strengthening my hand. On November 7, I played my first show following surgery. I’m happy to say that I played effortlessly, for the most part. Only a couple of times did I try something and feel my hand not respond correctly. Otherwise, I felt everything coming back once I was warmed up. Although I need to continue working on my strength and dexterity, I'm playing better than I have in years. Having this time off has been a blessing of sorts. Which has freed me up to work on original material in my home studio. It’s interesting, I get inspiration from the different instruments I play. When I’m working on a keyboard, or on bass, I find myself thinking differently. It forces me to become creative. I’ll start a riff, find something simple, and “Bang!”, here comes a new song. Then, I get back to familiar ground with my guitar to try and give it some shape. I’ve got a few songs that are already done. The last thing I will work on are the vocals. Right now, I have the luxury to sit back, listen to what I’ve created and start coming up with lyrics. And finally, the band Helix just released a new album. I was with them for close to five years, playing lead guitar and touring. They play a song that I wrote on their album called “Wrecking Ball”. There’s also a track called “Shock City Psycho Rock”, that I played on. Anyhow, I have kept the muses waiting long enough! Stay update with my music by checking out markchichkan.com. Merry Christmas, Windsor, and thank you for all the love all these years! WLM – Mark Back to contents
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General Forecast for 2021 BY LESLIE NADON F O R E N T E R TA I N M E N T PURPOSES ONLY
2020. WHAT A YEAR THAT WAS! Now there is a breath of fresh air. Life is more likely to be met with some enthusiasm and a new outlook on life itself. It is better to look to the present and the future instead of living in the past. Easier said than done. One door may shut while a new door opens. It may be viewed as continuing education, providing knowledge learned from the past to help pave the way to a better outlook on life and a better future. However, you do need to remember to pay attention to the details of daily life that have helped you get where you are now and then move forward. New doors opening have a steady and practical approach to continue on the best you can using wisdom and self-discipline in a positive way. Teach younger people, children how to smile rather than how to cry. It is easier than you think. A smile lasts a lot longer than a frown. Life is difficult at this point in time. We cannot deny that, but when life hands you a lemon, so to speak, turn it into lemonade. The placement of the planets does not MAKE us do things. They show us how to get there and perhaps how to find a better way of life. It will take a bit longer to accomplish that which we need to do. But we can do nothing by just standing and looking at the past. Step by step, we can find the way. The sun, the moon and the stars and planets might be able to nudge us along the way.
You appear to be dealing with many situations all at once. Actually, BALANCE is the key word for you. As much as you would like to you need to be more careful of trying to be all things to all people. Figure out what your main priorities are and try not to get distracted by minor issues.
TAURUS APR 21 - MAY 21: You have more energy than usual, a lot more. Co-operation from others helps you where major projects are concerned. You find unusual ways to get things done. What? Maybe you have a guardian angel up above who is lending you a helping hand. The first step is to take the first step.
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GEMINI MAY 22 - JUN 21: A break through can put you on a different path. It is like the pieces of a puzzle coming together in a way that you did not expect it to do so. You need to focus more than usual. It will be worth the effort of putting extra time and energy into developing a more effective way of doing things.
CANCER JUNE 22 - JUL 23: How much longer will this go on? Probably longer than you want to keep having to deal with whatever it is. Chaos around you makes it difficult for you to stay on course. Sometimes you may need to take a short break and look at life from a different, stronger point of view.
LEO JUL 24 - AUG 23: No matter which way you turn, others will keep asking for your advice. It may feel as if you are running into a road block on every corner. However, you will also be amazed by the number of people who will offer you their help at a time when you least expect them to do so.
VIRGO AUG 24 - SEP 23: You may not understand why others seem to be living in a different world than you. But they are living with a different point of view. You seek the best way to handle current situations without causing further problems. Since this is not a perfect world you may run into conflict about this.
ARIES MAR 21 - APR 20:
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LIBRA SEP 24 - OCT 23: You are fair-minded and co-operative. You may be a peacemaker in groups. You will get upset when others talk about war. The situation could quickly turn worse and you might have to take a step backwards until things simmer down as they most likely will when better heads prevail.
SCORPIO OCT 24 - NOV 22: Aries may start things off, but Scorpio will come in to finish the game. Both signs make good soldiers. To get the best out of both of these signs, you must find something you can agree upon. Staying in the here and now is what is needed in order to make progress in major situations.
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“I was born under a wandering star.” You may have to put that into positive use this coming year. Changes are inevitable and you will need to be a leader rather than a follower. Give yourself more credit for what you have accomplished and what more of what you must do.
CAPRICORN DEC 22 - JAN 20: You feel secure when life is structured, or you are working hard. Now is the time and this is the place where you can make gains by arranging plans to help others and yourself keep moving forward. There is opportunity out there for you to access and share with friends and colleagues.
AQUARIUS JAN 21 - FEB 19: A different way of doing things should help you reach your goals over this next year. What is unusual to others might be just fine for you. There certainly will be changes both near and far that could put you in a different phase in your life. This is not good or bad. It just is what it is.
PISCES FEB 20 - MAR 20: The wheels of FATE seem to turn in your favour. This could be frustrating at times due to a tendency for issues to fluctuate up and down. You may feel insecure when your life changes. Fortunately, you've the inner resources to adapt to change. Usually you gain rather than lose. WLM
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CORONA VIRUS CAME TO TOWN LaSalle Children’s Author Pens Book Showing How Kids Are Coping With COVID-19 STORY BY MATTHEW ST. AMAND PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHANNON STRADESKI
Top: LaSalle children’s author, Pam Stradeski. Top right: Corona Viris Came to Town front cover. Above: Sample pages from the book .
“I wondered how it would all affect the children,” Pam explains, “especially my grandchildren, and the little ones I babysat.” She conducted her research during Facetime calls and driveway visits. To her surprise, she found out the kids were doing better than she expected, adapting, making the best of the situation. “They were having more time at home with mom and dad,” Pam continues. “They were baking, having picnics, and creating obstacle courses in their backyards because they couldn’t go to the park. So, I wrote a book for them to look back on this time and remember what it was like for them.” The book, itself, took a few days to write. The story is straightforward. “Basically, the story is how the coronavirus came and changed things,” Pam says. “It’s from a child’s perspective. I talk about things you can’t do—like playing with friends, going to the mall—while showing the activities the kids engaged in, instead, like turning their backyards into playgrounds. Plus, the bonus time with family and being creative.” The book is brief and to-the-point, aimed at an audience that is between pre-school age and Grade 2. The coronavirus is depicted as a small, green, cartoonish monster. The colourful illustrations show children amusing themselves at home, retaining a positive attitude about life under such trying circumstances. Pam wrote the book with a sing-song rhyming rhythm, knowing that kids respond well to that kind of storytelling. For example: “We couldn’t go to parks or beaches, or the mall, restaurants or cousin’s house. But we could Face Time call!” Although the text took a few days to write, creating the illustrations was a months-long process Pam undertook with her niece, Key Howe, a graphic who lives and works in London, Ontario. “I drew my version of the coronavirus,” Pam explains. “It was friendly-looking, but the eye was the virus. Key changed that, making it look more friendly, and put the virus on the end of its tail. I liked her drawing much better than mine. She totally gets me and all my ideas.”
CHILDREN’S AUTHOR, Pam Stradeski’s latest book, Corona Virus Came to Town, has the deceptively simple title of a fable. It was during a routine medical checkup that her doctor told the 61 year old LaSalle-based writer that the coronavirus (known also as COVID-19) was the real deal. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life, saturated by the 24/7 news cycle, that the emergence of other such viruses in recent years—SARS, MERS, avian and swine flus—appear to have been overhyped by the media. Not this time, as the world has learned. “I have COPD,” Pam says, “and I remember my doctor saying to me in March, ‘You’re still babysitting, aren’t you?’ I have been doing childcare for twenty-five years, so I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘You might want to stop babysitting and stay home for two weeks,’ he said.” Two weeks turned into two months and Pam thought to herself, “OK, this isn’t going away.” So, she began a pandemic project: a children’s book about the coronavirus pandemic.
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The collaboration process involved “lots of back-and-forth on the computer,” as Pam recalls. When she finally received a printed copy of her new book, Pam created a video of her reading it and showing the illustrations. She posted the video on her Facebook page, thinking a few friends and family might be interested in obtaining copies. The response to the book was immediate and more overwhelming than Pam could have anticipated. “We sold out the first hundred copies of the book in two days,” she says. “I ordered another two hundred copies and most of those are gone.” The feedback about the book, too, has been uniformly positive, readers posting on Pam’s Facebook page: “Love it!” “It’s great!” “Can I have 6 more!” and the comment that says it all: “Wow you turned something crap[p]y into something that kids can understand.” The Facebook post ultimately garnered 87 comments—many of them book orders, all of them congratulatory—and 25 shares. Word of the book spread quickly and local media even picked up the story. The Windsor Star paid Pam a visit soon after. Pam is circumspect. “Kids are very resilient,” she observes. She says that she was inspired to leave something behind for her grandchildren. Although the story reads like a sing-song nursery rhyme, Pam was able to capture many of the realities of coronavirus pandemic, namely the shortages of toilet paper and disinfectant wipes in the early weeks of the lockdown. When asked if there are any plans for a sequel, Pam says, “Probably not for this particular book because it came out just as I wanted.” As the author of four previous children’s books, Pam is looking ahead, already working on her next book. “I have a new one in the works,” she explains. “My grandchildren are a great audience and I read them parts over Facetime and outside visits.” Having written a book about the coronavirus coming to town, it seemed natural to ask Pam when she thought it would leave. “I have no idea,” she says. Like everyone else, she’s adhering to all safety protocols and hoping for the best with regard to the creation of a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The book sells for $6. People interested in buying a copy can contact Pam Stradeski directly on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pam.stradeski. WLM Back to contents
Canadian Condominium Instute Windsor Essex Chapter THE FIRST THING condominium people say is: “Condo living is not for everyone.” Then, they enumerate the benefits: no yard work in the summertime, no shoveling snow in the winter, no worries about replacing a roof, deck, fence, windows, furnace, hot water heater…And suddenly, it seems that living in a condo is the sanest thing anyone could choose. The amenities of condominium living come with a price. There are “common fees” that fund building maintenance. And there are rules, which govern everything from parking to odors to noise levels. It can all be quite a gauntlet to navigate. Luckily, there is help. The Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) was formed in 1982 to advocate and educate people involved in all facets of condominium living: from prospective buyers, unit owners, to boards of directors. “An example of advocacy,” says Andrea Thielk, a Windsor-based CCI board member and lawyer, “CCI has lobbied the Ontario legislature and asked lawmakers for more robust disclosure laws, so that people selling a unit are legally obligated to inform prospective buyers exactly what they are getting.” Andrea first became involved with CCI as a member of the London CCI Chapter, on the recommendation of one of her condominium clients. After years of travelling Ontario to learn about condominium law, Andrea approached condominium industry colleagues in Windsor about starting a Windsor-Essex CCI Chapter. It was established by decree of the National CCI in 2001. “We tap into all the experts right here from insurers to property managers and more,” Andrea explains. “Before 2001, people went to Toronto for seminars about maintenance or enforcement.” CCI protects prospective buyers by providing guidelines about purchasing units from developers or existing owners and what their rights are regarding disclosure. In the case of maintenance, if a condominium requires repairs to its roof, the board of directors consults CCI’s “professional directory” to find an engineer to be the project manager. “The engineer prepares the tender,” Andrea says. “They find a qualified contractor for the best price and monitor the work to ensure it’s done correctly. Once that happens, they release the funds to the contractor.” To ensure common fees are used correctly, condominium boards require the services of accountants, which they find in CCI’s professional directory. Another area where CCI is helpful is educating members about enforcement. We live in the world—some people do not abide by the rules. Licensed condominium managers help here. “Under the Condominium Act,” Andrea says, “owners are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their dwellings. Condominiums require good governance for people who are not following the rules and protections. It’s a hazard for communal living.” These can take the form of noise, nuisance complaints, such as smoking and disputes over parking. “Some owners want to join CCI to know their own rights,” Andrea continues, “but it’s mainly for boards. It’s a great resource. Instead of paying an engineer to give you an opinion on something in the building, go to a seminar. Need legal guidance? Go to a seminar. The CCI newsletters keep members up to date with changes in the law.” Condominium living sure seems like living the dream, some days. For more information about the benefits of the Canadian Condominium Institute, check out their website www.cci.ca.
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COOKING AT HOME
Irek Kusmierczyk with his mother Marta.
Photography by Sooters Photography, John Liviero
IREK KUSMIERCZYK, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WINDSOR-TECUMSEH “The heart of the Holiday Season for our family is Christmas Eve dinner celebrated in the traditional Polish way with twelve fish and vegetarian dishes. The centrepiece is the delicious red beet soup called borscht, my mom Marta prepares, with mushroom dumplings called ooshka that our family assembles together around the kitchen table.”
Ooshka Dough Ingredients: • 3 cups all-purpose flour • 1/2 cup milk warm • 1 tbsp butter unsalted, melted
Instructions: Attach a dough hook to your mixer. Add flour into the bowl. Add melted butter and warm milk, and then start mixing on low speed. Start adding warm water a little bit at the time. Sometimes the flour absorbs more moisture and you will need to add more water. In the end, your dough should be elastic and not sticky to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for half hour. Divide your dough into four pieces. Flour your working surface and place 1/4 of the dough on it. Cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it's thin but not see-through.
OOSHKA Mushroom Filling Ingredients: • 1 lb fresh mushrooms baby bella and white button, sliced • 1 sweet onion medium size, chopped
Assembling Ooshka • 2 tbsp butter unsalted • 2 tbsp bread crumbs plain • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Clean, wash and slice your fresh mushrooms. In a frying pan heat up some butter and add chopped onions. Cook until translucent. Add mushrooms to the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes until soft and fully cooked. Put the fried onion, mushrooms and the bread crumbs into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add salt and pepper as needed. Pulse a few more times. Do not over process the mushrooms! You want to have little pieces of mushrooms in the filling, as opposed to a paste.
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• 3/4 cups water warm or more if the dough needs it • pinch of salt
Instructions: Using a 1.5 inch in diameter glass, (ie. a shot glass), cut out the rounds from the dough. Working with one circle at the time, add 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the middle, wet one half of the circle and cover it to meet the other side of the circle. Stick the edges together. Grab the opposite ends of the ooshka and stick them together to create an ear shaped dumpling. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling. Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it generously and add no more than 10 pierogi at the time. Boil for about 2 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon once they rise to the surface, resting the ooshka on a dry surface like a cutting board in a way they do not touch each other. If serving immediately, place the ooshka in bowls and cover with borscht.
BORSCHT – Red Beet Soup Ingredients: • 6 beets medium size • 2 carrots medium size • 1 parsley root or parsnip medium size • 1/4 celery root or 1 celery stick • 1/2 leek • 4 sprig parsley • 1/2 onion • 4-5 dried porcini mushrooms • 2 bay leaves • 3 whole allspice • 3 cloves garlic peeled and crushed • 5 black peppercorns • 1 tbsp buckwheat groats-kasha (optional) • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter unsalted • pinch of red pepper crushed • 2 tbsp white vinegar + more if needed • 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed • 1/4 teaspoon sugar + more if needed • 2 tbsp salt + more if needed • freshly ground pepper to taste Instructions: Peel, wash and cut into chunks the vegetables (carrots, parsnip/parsley root, celery root, leeks). Place your vegetables and onion, bay leaves, allspices, peppercorn, red pepper, kasha, 2 gloves of garlic, olive oil or butter and washed mushrooms in the large pot, cover with 8 cups of water, add a tablespoon of salt and boil for about 35 minutes over medium heat, uncovered. Prepare beets – peel them, wash and slice in ¼ slices then cut the slices again into strips ½ inch thick like french fries. Place beets in a separate pot, cover with 5 cups of water and boil for 5 minutes. After that add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tbsp of white vinegar and 1 tbsp of lemon juice and boil for additional 15 minutes over medium heat. Use a strainer to separate and discard the vegetables from the broth. Combine the beets and the beet water with the vegetable broth, add the remaining vinegar and garlic, salt, pepper to taste, and WLM bring it to boil. Serve with Ooshka.
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Emily Truman Delivers Letters and Cheer Packages to Seniors
STORY BY MICHAEL SEGUIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTINA FRIEDRICHSEN-TRUMAN
ONE GOOD THING to come out of this pandemic is how the isolation we’ve all been forced to endure has sparked a greater awareness of the value of connection. Emily Truman is a 17-year-old high school student. While volunteering at La Chaumiere Retirement Residence, she noticed that the holidays could be difficult for some of the residents. “I was visiting there every week, bringing around books for the seniors and running activities,” Emily recalls. “I was getting to know the residents so well, bringing around birthday gifts and hearing about their life stories. But, I was often hearing about how friends and family in the area just couldn’t visit over the Christmas season. So, I decided I needed to do something about that.” Emily launched the Stay Gold Society in the fall of 2019, kicking things off with her Holiday HappyMail campaign. Through the Holiday HappyMail program, Emily encouraged the community to donate handmade holiday cards that would be distributed among retirement residences and long-term care homes across Windsor and Essex County. And thanks to the participation of over 100 schools, businesses, libraries and community organizations, Emily was able to collect over 10,000 cards in the program’s inaugural year. Emily was completely floored by the impact her initiative created. “One of my volunteers was showing this woman a beautiful card that a kid at a local school had made,” Emily explains. “And the woman had tears in her eyes. She was so happy! She said it was one of the only cards she’d received that year. There’s been so many moments where I’ve seen what an impactful thing we’re doing. Seniors are so often forgotten.”
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Clockwise from top left: Cheer Package contents ready to be packed up and distributed; The Stay Gold Society founder, 17-year-old Emily Truman; La Chaumiere Retirement Residences, Chris and Margaret opening their Cheer Packages. Photos courtesy La Chaumiere Retirement Residence.
And now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stay Gold Society’s efforts are more important than ever. “I’ve really seen firsthand the effects of the pandemic,” Emily explains. “My grandmother is in a long-term care home. She has just been so isolated. She was actually stuck in her room for several months. Seeing what she’s going through and knowing how many seniors have become completely isolated even before COVID, it’s now more important than ever to show gestures of support and kindness.” One of these gestures of support and kindness is the Cheer Package program. Each Cheer Package is filled with small gift
items, such as activity books, snacks and cards. The goal of the program is to bring smiles to the faces of seniors and to remind them that they are loved and cared about. Emily was able to deliver an initial round of 200 Cheer Packages to seniors at La Chaumiere Retirement Home, Cardinal Place and several smaller retirement residences thanks to a $1,500 #RisingYouth grant from TakingITGlobal, the Government of Canada and the Canada Service Corps. “My Mom, sister and friend spent many hours putting things together and writing out cards over the summer,” Emily states. “I think we totalled over a 100 hours. But, seeing the reaction our Cheer Packages got was so heartwarming. The seniors were just so surprised and so happy that someone took the time to do something so unexpected. There were tears in my eyes.” Another gesture Emily has spearheaded to help seniors during the pandemic is the Virtual HappyMail program. “I started this in the early days of the pandemic when everything was very uncertain,” Emily explains. “I didn’t really know how to reach out via mail, because there was so much worry about transmission of the virus. So, I started sending in virtual letters. There was a contact form on my site where people could upload their handwritten letters. Then, I could print them off and send them out.” The response to the Virtual HappyMail program was incredible. Emily received submissions from around the globe. “People have been so generous throughout the pandemic and so engaged with the community,” Emily states. “More than ever, people are looking to reach out. That’s where these programs serve as an easy, tangible way to make a difference.” While Emily appreciates every single virtual letter, one in particular captured her attention. “It was this beautiful, crayon-covered card made by a child,” Emily explains. “It says: ‘You are the older generation that taught us to do well in life. We thank you. You are fun, nice, kind, special, smart and funny. We will always have a place in our hearts for you. Everyone respects you.’ That just touched me so much. Kids deserve so much credit for their ability to detect when someone could use words of kindness. They’re so giving. I saw so much of that when I was doing the Holiday HappyMail last year.” Now, as the holiday season comes around, Emily is continuing to push forward with
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two of her programs: the Holiday HappyMail and Cheer Packages. “For the Holiday HappyMail, I have my address listed on the website,” Emily explains. “We’re collecting handmade Christmas cards. They can be mailed in this year, and they’ll be mailed to retirement and long-term care homes. I’m trying to collect as many as possible! I’m sure each one will make a senior smile.” Suggestions and tips for decorating the cards can be found on the Stay Gold Society website. “The cards can be made by anyone,” Emily states. “Schoolkids. Seniors. Anyone who wants to participate!” However, Emily does have one strict stipulation about the Holiday HappyMail cards. “No glitter,” Emily stresses. “Refrain from the glitter. Please.” In addition, Emily is launching a second round of the Cheer Package program for the holidays. “I’m really looking to focus on this initiative this year,” Emily states. “We’re collecting small gift items, such as crossword puzzles, colouring books, bath and body items, snacks and cards. We’re also looking for volunteers to help make up the Cheer Packages at home.” Emily has also started a GoFundMe page for people who would like to contribute to the creation of Cheer Packages. As well, Emily stresses that, because of COVID, both her programs will take proper safety protocols into effect. “Because of COVID, these cards and packages will be mailed in rather than dropped off at community collection boxes,” Emily explains. “So, I am asking that people get their cards mailed in by early December.” And while the pandemic continues to reshape our lives, Emily continues to provide an example of how true connection can transcend any barrier. “The Stay Gold Society is a really big passion of mine,” Emily states. “I’m always working on new initiatives for it. I love working on it. I love connecting with seniors.” More information about Emily and her various programs is available at WLM staygoldsociety.org. Emily is accepting cards until Christmas. Cards can be mailed to the Stay Gold Society at P.O. Box 21015, Manning Road Post Office, Windsor, ON N8N 4S1. Back to contents
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