Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ottawa shooting: A death in the family


 
 
 
For many of us in Ottawa, Parliament Hill is more than a place of political wrangling and policy making. It's our home.
 
And the people who work there are more than politicians, bureaucrats and scribes. They are family.
 
It's been years since I toiled there, but like most Ottawa Hillbillies, I left a piece of myself in those hallowed halls.
 
My husband, Scott, spent nearly 30 years on Parliament Hill as a cameraman for CBC. He knows every corner, every entrance, every tunnel, every political escape route. Scott stood for hours most days, in the hall beside the very steps that the gunman tore up yesterday, doing the job of all good camera guys -- scrumming politicians and cooling his heels waiting to catch the eye of seven prime ministers.
 
I worked as both a journalist and a political staffer on the Hill for nearly two decades. I had an office in the Langevin Block steps away from the War Memorial where the gunman took the life of a brave young soldier who was the age of my children.
 
I was married on Parliament Hill, and posed with one of the security staff on the steps not far away from where the drama unfolded yesterday.
 
And I sipped wine in the Hall of Honor, the very place Kevin Vickers shot the gunman, in the very corner the annual Christmas tree is placed.
 
For the first time in forever, there was blood on the floor in the Hall of Honor. And there was blood on the stoop where the Unknown Soldier lay. Innocent blood was spilled.
 
My heart was heavy, hurting for Nathan Cirillo, the young Hamilton reservist and his family, hurting for the mother and father of the shooter, and hurting for my Parliament Hill family who spent horrifying minutes, then hours in lockdown, wondering what would become of the institution they loved.
 
One person was forgotten in all of this, until today, when it was announced that another soul was injured. Constable Samearn Son, was shot in the leg yesterday, a constable who came to work to do his job, a man who is a proud member of the Parliament Hill family, a man who served this country as a member of the protective staff for more than ten years.
 
Constable Son is not unlike other constables who serve both as goodwill ambassadors and the eyes and ears of the place.
 
To the people who come to the Hill daily, the blue shirted constables might look sweet and benign. But do not be fooled. Most of them are former police officers and war veterans who have seen their share of the world's misery. Regardless of their pedigree, each of them would lay down their lives for their country.
 
Thankfully, the terror is gone for now.
 
The threat is over but the fear remains.
 
Undoubtedly, the House of Commons staff worked into the wee hours today trying to erase those human stains from the floor, but it will be a long time before they are gone from our memories.
 
Some people have suggested we lost our innocence yesterday. I don't believe that. Older Canadians remember the toll taken by foreign wars. Younger Canadians remember that horrible day on 9/11. Our world hasn't been innocent for a long time; maybe it never was.
 
One thing is certain. The process on Parliament Hill will never be the same again. There will be new restrictions, loaded weapons and locks.
 
Maybe other brides will have a harder time getting married there.
 
But something hasn't changed.
 
What hasn't changed, what terrorists and crazy people will never change, is the sense of family for those who worked, and still work, on Parliament Hill. Terror doesn't tear us apart; it brings us closer and gives us greater purpose.
 
Nothing can change that.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A sad day in Ottawa

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Justin Trudeau: Keith Davey would be proud





Watching W5 on Saturday, and its fawning hour-long profile of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, I was brought back to a time in the 1980s when Tom Hayden was running for state legislature in California.

Hayden was a famous 60s radical, then married to Jane Fonda, who was trying to rehabilitate his image, to make himself seem more palatable to voters.

Getting him elected wouldn't be easy -- Tom was a bad guy in his youth -- so a gaggle of Democratic political consultants were enlisted to undertake a renovation of sorts, putting putty in the cracks of the foundation, giving him a new high gloss coat of paint.

The media campaign included television ads, and a glossy brochure entitled Tom Hayden, Growing Up in America. The brochure featured sad images of racism, segregation, shootings of presidents and preachers. It was meant to explain how Tom Hayden and his politics had been shaped by events in America. Not his fault. He was a product of his environment

On the cover was a photograph of Tom and his son sitting in a fishing boat accompanied by his father-in-law, the late Henry Fonda. Yep, they were fishing On Golden Pond.

The campaign worked, of course, and the voters elected the prince who soon turned back into a frog, as most politicians do.

Those political consultants would have been in awe of the image making that is taking place around Justin Trudeau.

Justin is the perfect candidate, a child raised in the castle, coddled like a three minute egg, nary a hair out of place on his perfect head. The image makers had the opposite problem to Tom Hayden's handlers.

Justin is an unlikely politician. He lacks the neediness of most people these days who choose politics, the men and women who have faces for radio. He also lacks the drive to change the world.

He would rather just buy it a Coke instead.

Justin has lived a perfect life, unblemished, and protected by a doting mother and father.

The Tories would say that Justin lacks depth and experience but really the fact he lacked for anything is the point of it all. There is a softness to his hands, eyes and heart. Ironically, running for the Liberals, he lacks grit, unburdened by the experience of rough and tumbling, of making ends meet, of being turned down for a date by every maiden in the land.

Justin has lived a trust fund life. Money for nothing, chicks for free.

So the image makers had to reach deep, to explore how loss has affected his life and his view. The image presented on W5 was of a man who straddled the darkness and rode it bareback, as the son of a polarizing prime minister and a manic flower child, a brother who lost a brother, a man shaped by his environment, called to good work because of an avalanche, then emboldened by the loss of a brilliant father, called to take up the quest for the Holy Grail that is the prime ministership of Canada.

The goon squad at Conservative Headquarters, the ones hoping to change the copyright laws so they could use Trudeau's words and likeness against him in the coming campaign, were hoping for a bonanza of pithy comments and ridiculous bon mots.

Instead, they got a walk down memory lane, tugs at the heart strings, a one-hour infomercial on the making of Canada's next prime minister.

For the campaign professionals, it was text book.

No hard questions, here. Only soft whispers between Justin and host Lisa Laflamme, whose doe eyes glistened as she listened to Justin's sad tale of his parents' divorce, his brother's death, and his struggle with his mother's mental illness. Viewers could not help but be carried away by the warm images of Justin playing piano with his Dad, learning to swim in the cement pond at 24 Sussex, trailing behind the old man like a duckling to greet heads of state.

Television is all about images, and images of Justin are everywhere.

Like Princes William and Harry, he has been followed by cameras all his life, from his birth on Christmas Day to his grief at the loss of his brother, to the painfully perfect eulogy he gave at his father's funeral. Like the Crown prince he is, Justin's charm, playfulness and love for his family has been carefully orchestrated.

Pretty hard to beat for, say, a Harper or a Mulcair, whose early images were marred by geekiness and unfortunate facial hair.

The documentary contained only smatterings of controversy. Justin is sometimes like a cartoon prince, perfect on the outside, who squeaks like an unoiled bicycle when he opens his mouth. Asked about some of his ridiculous and impertinent musings, the Prince smiles and shrugs that familiar shrug.

His eyes drip with honey as the body language simply says: Well, if you don't like me, too bad for you. I like myself just fine.

This week, the Conservative goons will no doubt be pouring over Justin's memoir looking for dirt with a sad futility. Meanwhile, Justin will travel the country. air kissing the media, making them wet with excitement.

The image machine has done its job perfectly. The Prince has donned his robes and extended his ring.

Come, my subjects, come kiss it. It's alright. Everything will be all right here on Golden Pond.

Surely, this must be troubling for the Dark King, who guards the Holy Grail amongst the gargoyles. He will be pacing, worrying and cursing the national media. He is old, his rhetoric is tired. Even wars abroad can't help him anymore.

Not even a new pair of specs or a new hairdo can undo the magic spell that is being woven over our land by the sorcerers with Blackberries and fawning TV shows.

The keys to the Kingdom are tumbling swiftly from the Dark King's sad, pasty white hand.

Well done, image makers. Keith Davey would be proud.

Justin Trudeau: the man who would be prime minister reveals his past, his politics

Justin Trudeau: Keith Davey would be proud







Watching W5 on Saturday, and its fawning hour-long profile of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, I was brought back to a time in the 1980s when Tom Hayden was running for state legislature in California.

Hayden was a famous 60s radical, then married to Jane Fonda, who was trying to rehabilitate his image, to make himself seem more palatable to voters.

Getting him elected wouldn't be easy -- Tom was a bad guy in his youth -- so a gaggle of Democratic political consultants were enlisted to undertake a renovation of sorts, putting putty in the cracks of the foundation, giving him a new high gloss coat of paint.

The media campaign included television ads, and a glossy brochure entitled Tom Hayden, Growing Up in America. The brochure featured sad images of racism, segregation, shootings of presidents and preachers. It was meant to explain how Tom Hayden and his politics had been shaped by events in America. Not his fault. He was a product of his environment

On the cover was a photograph of Tom and his son sitting in a fishing boat accompanied by his father-in-law, the late Henry Fonda. Yep, they were fishing On Golden Pond.

The campaign worked, of course, and the voters elected the prince who soon turned back into a frog, as most politicians do.

Those political consultants would have been in awe of the image making that is taking place around Justin Trudeau.

Justin is the perfect candidate, a child raised in the castle, coddled like a three minute egg, nary a hair out of place on his perfect head. The image makers had the opposite problem to Tom Hayden's handlers.

Justin is an unlikely politician. He lacks the neediness of most people these days who choose politics, the men and women who have faces for radio. He also lacks the drive to change the world.

He would rather just buy it a Coke instead.

Justin has lived a perfect life, unblemished, and protected by a doting mother and father.

The Tories would say that Justin lacks depth and experience but really the fact he lacked for anything is the point of it all. There is a softness to his hands, eyes and heart. Ironically, running for the Liberals, he lacks grit, unburdened by the experience of rough and tumbling, of making ends meet, of being turned down for a date by every maiden in the land.

Justin has lived a trust fund life. Money for nothing, chicks for free.

So the image makers had to reach deep, to explore how loss has affected his life and his view. The image presented on W5 was of a man who straddled the darkness and rode it bareback, as the son of a polarizing prime minister and a manic flower child, a brother who lost a brother, a man shaped by his environment, called to good work because of an avalanche, then emboldened by the loss of a brilliant father, called to take up the quest for the Holy Grail that is the prime ministership of Canada.

The goon squad at Conservative Headquarters, the ones hoping to change the copyright laws so they could use Trudeau's words and likeness against him in the coming campaign, were hoping for a bonanza of pithy comments and ridiculous bon mots.

Instead, they got a walk down memory lane, tugs at the heart strings, a one-hour infomercial on the making of Canada's next prime minister.

For the campaign professionals, it was text book.

No hard questions, here. Only soft whispers between Justin and host Lisa Laflamme, whose doe eyes glistened as she listened to Justin's sad tale of his parents' divorce, his brother's death, and his struggle with his mother's mental illness. Viewers could not help but be carried away by the warm images of Justin playing piano with his Dad, learning to swim in the cement pond at 24 Sussex, trailing behind the old man like a duckling to greet heads of state.

Television is all about images, and images of Justin are everywhere.

Like Princes William and Harry, he has been followed by cameras all his life, from his birth on Christmas Day to his grief at the loss of his brother, to the painfully perfect eulogy he gave at his father's funeral. Like the Crown prince he is, Justin's charm, playfulness and love for his family has been carefully orchestrated.

Pretty hard to beat for, say, a Harper or a Mulcair, whose early images were marred by geekiness and unfortunate facial hair.

The documentary contained only smatterings of controversy. Justin is sometimes like a cartoon prince, perfect on the outside, who squeaks like an unoiled bicycle when he opens his mouth. Asked about some of his ridiculous and impertinent musings, the Prince smiles and shrugs that familiar shrug.

His eyes drip with honey as the body language simply says: Well, if you don't like me, too bad for you. I like myself just fine.

This week, the Conservative goons will no doubt be pouring over Justin's memoir looking for dirt with a sad futility. Meanwhile, Justin will travel the country. air kissing the media, making them wet with excitement.

The image machine has done its job perfectly. The Prince has donned his robes and extended his ring.

Come, my subjects, come kiss it. It's alright. Everything will be all right here on Golden Pond.

Surely, this must be troubling for the Dark King, who guards the Holy Grail amongst the gargoyles. He will be pacing, worrying and cursing the national media. He is old, his rhetoric is tired. Even wars abroad can't help him anymore.

Not even a new pair of specs or a new hairdo can undo the magic spell that is being woven over our land by the sorcerers with Blackberries and fawning TV shows.

The keys to the Kingdom are tumbling swiftly from the Dark King's sad, pasty white hand.

Well done, image makers. Keith Davey would be proud.

Justin Trudeau: the man who would be prime minister reveals his past, his politics

Addicted to Loblaw PC Points





Lately, the manager at my local Loblaw store has been avoiding me.
Every time he sees me, he suddenly remembers an unattended problem and does an about face. He's not the only one. All the other managers and stocking clerks head for the hills when they see me.
That's because, like a growing number of shoppers, I have become addicted to PC Plus points and I spend hours harassing the staff looking for my deals.
For those living without cable, PC Plus is the brainchild of the scion of the Weston family, Galen, who has replaced old Dave Nichol as the pitchman for the companies owned by the family of Ontario's former Lieutenant-Governor. He is on television about every thirty seconds pitching expensive Black Label products and Ontario fresh farm produce in his cashmere sunflower blue sweaters and rich boy goggles.
Most of what he's selling is harmless enough, some is even good for you.
But the PC Plus points are downright dangerous, the crack to every obsessive compulsive shopper, who must fulfill her allotment of points.
Every Friday, I can't wait to hear the familiar ding on my Smartphone as my offers arrive. Usually, I get twelve offers based on my shopping preference. This week, the offerings are shrimp, red meat, dog biscuits, assorted varieties of produce, mostly worth about 20 cents on the dollar. If I have an extra $20 and I can travel down the road to the superstore, I can get 8,000 points for bulk food.
I'm there, Galen, I'm there!
The PC Points program is an absolutely brilliant idea for people like me who have to watch our pennies while seeing the cost of fresh meat and veg soar to unbelievable heights. A really good roast of beef can now cost a whopping $65 and shrimp has become the seafood of the rich, so any savings can help, right?
And sometimes, Galen throws us a bone and offers us thousands of points for a large grocery purchase, usually the week before a high holiday, in hopes of keeping shoppers in grocery stores and away from Costco, my other great addiction.
Already this year, I've saved about $500 off my grocery bill by shopping with PC Points, and I figure I'll have another $500 to spend at Christmas. Nothing to sneeze at. It beats the food bank.
That said, the program is less than perfect.
The offers aren't always clear, so for example, I buy No Name when I should be buying President's Choice or the size of the offer fools me into thinking that I'm points rich when I've bought the wrong product size. Also, my little store often doesn't offer certain products -- not much in the form of No Name, believe it or not -- so I have to get on the road to the superstore.
That's why the manager is avoiding me, because I've become almost a character in a Luigi Pirandello play, one shopper in search of a product that isn't stocked on the shelves.
The worst part about the program is that I usually have to spend a few hours a week fighting for my points. Sometimes the app doesn't work, so I'm having to harass the grocery staff, who I am sure, hate the PC Points program.
Talking to them is useless anyway because they have to grumpily handle my complaint in the old fashioned analog manner, using a calculator, while the smokers and lottery card buyers grumble, and line gets larger and larger.
It seems that most of the staff hired by Loblaw failed their Grade Nine math, and I have never yet gotten complete restitution.
This leaves me with no choice but to contact PC Plus directly to resolve my points issues. It happens three times a week, and as a result, I am on a first name basis with someone named Samantha who helps me sort out my points issues.
The good news is that the staff online are quick to resolve my points problems. Even when I've bought the wrong product, often, I'll get something called "goodwill" points along with a friendly lecture that ham is not a fresh pork product.
All in all, the PC Points Program makes me a happy shopper and I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking to save money on the groceries they already buy.
Just a word of advice: don't harass the manager.
You'll need to keep on his good side in case of a real grocery shopping emergency.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Municipal elections: Life is messy. Elect somebody to clean it up.




I've had garbage on my mind, and my floor, lately.
Yesterday, I came home from the gymnasty to discover that the rat, disguised as a pug, Sophie, had upended the garbage pail and there was smelly crap everywhere. I held my nose, imagined myself on a beach someplace and cleaned up the festering slimy mess, then went out again. When I came back, she'd upended the garbage again and spilled what I had cleaned up.
Clearly, she has a taste for it, as I've found little bits of meat packaging in my chair, my bed and under my feet.
My mood wasn't helped by Gordie, the Jurassic Pug, who became agitated over all the yelling and pooped himself on the carpet in front of Scott's Lazy Boy.
So let's just say, yesterday, I was knee deep in shite.
But there was good news. The good news is it could have been worse.
Worse, I say, because we do use the City of Ottawa Green Bin faithfully, trotting out all our organic material, and we have a lot of it.
Some people say they don't have enough stuff to put in a recycle container, and I say, they'd better check in with their cardiologists, cancer specialists and colorectal fellas because if you don't have enough organic recycling, chances are you're a carcinoma, bowel blockage or failed ticker waiting to happen.
Without having enough to recycle, you may find yourself emptying another bag, an ostomy bag. So get with the program.

In the middle of the crap storm that was my life yesterday, I realized I'd been doing all my recycling wrong. I looked up the helpful hints from the Green Bin people yesterday, and they said if my garbage was smelly, in any way, I was doing my recycling all wrong.
It is true, some cheating was done on the part of my wonderful husband who had dumped his coffee grinds into the regular garbage. That was what was smeared all over the floor along with the drippings from the meat packages. I do not know, nor has anyone told me, what to do with those smelly things -- they aren't supposed to go into garbage. I guess they go into the black box, but if I do that, then the raccoons and black crows will surely have a hearty feast outside.
Also, in looking up some helpful hints, I discovered that I've been breaking the regulations by using recyclable plastic bags, the ones they sell you at the Home Hardware at Elmvale when you ask for bags to put in the white bin for the kitchen.
Apparently, I'm supposed to make my own liners, carefully crafted from newspapers to which I no longer subscribe or grocery bags they no longer sell. The only paper bags I have are from the LCBO, and I'm desperately trying NOT to win the neighborhood contest for the most LCBO bags. It seems my cognitive behavioral therapy is at odds with saving the environment!
Now I don't know about you, but I'm a lazy Daughter of a Bitch and I'm not about to try anything crafty in an effort to correctly recycle  my fruit and veg. The City has handy videos that show you how to make some sort of papier mache affairs to line the Green Bin. It involves used toilet paper and such and, frankly, I'm not prepared to go there.
So I'm going to continue keep breaking the regulations and use the plastic bags.
I don't care.
It's how I roll.
In my own defense, I do more recycling than anybody on my street. And not one garbage guy has come to my door to set me straight.
The good news is, the city is considering allowing people to use plastic recycle bags, so let's just say I'm ahead of the curve.

The municipal election is coming up, and all the talk has turned to garbage. Should weekly pick up be reinstated? Should the Green Bin be scrapped? Should we be allowed to put yard waste and dog poo into our recycling?
What do you do when you find a festering hand in the Green Bin?
In that case, do I call 3-1-1 or 9-1-1?
All good questions with no good answers.

There is actually a group of politicians who have banded together on a "garbage slate" to end the Green Bin program and reinstate weekly garbage pick up. I'm not voting for any of these guys because once the garbage issue is resolved, none of them will have anything to do and why should I pay the salaries of layabouts, snoring and picking their noses once their issue has been resolved?
Besides, the guy heading the group looks a lot like Doug Ford, and I'm not prepared to go down that road.

Like a lot of Ottawa residents, I don't understand most of what's going on in the election.
Perhaps I should have gone to an all candidates meeting, but I'm too lazy.
I don't pay much in the way of taxes anyway, as I've only earned $3,000 this year so far.
I don't care about transit, as I am a shut in and only take it once a year to go to Mike's Christmas party in the market.
I'm too freaked out by all the smelly and weird people on the bus getting there to notice if it's good or not and I'm too drunk to care on the way back.
Once in a while, Scott and I do a late night liquor run to downtown and I've noticed a lot of holes in the ground as well as construction, so somebody somewhere is doing something about transportation. I guess it's better than nothing.
I'm going to vote for the incumbent mayor Jim Watson because he hasn't done anything to screw up my life, that I know of, and he can't fix the Hydro rates even if he tried. I don't know the others, but I do know that new people cause trouble, cancel contracts and cost you and me money.
It's better the Watson you know, you know?
As for my city councilor, I'm picking a guy named Clinton Cowan. I don't know why. He has promised to get in, get out after two terms, and not stick around until he smells bad. Besides, there's another guy named Cloutier who has all the votes on my street and I like to be different.
I end this blog on a positive note.
Vote for somebody, anybody. Then you can call them up and ask them to come and clean up the garbage strewn around the neighborhood after the raccoons have upended everybody's garbage.
Life is messy, people.
You have to elect somebody to clean it up.


 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Family and the power of Facebook






One of the toughest parts of being Little Orphan Rosie is that there are so many questions left unanswered.  What's worse is that the only reference points I have, come from long ago, as a child.

I once had to bath my ailing granny and noticed she only had one breast. Clearly, she'd had a mastectomy, so she'd had breast cancer. I was too young, too timid, too shy to ask my mom at the time and now that she's been out of my life nearly as long as she was in it, that ship has sailed.

I knew the medical history of my mother's side of the family, having lived with them. Most died of old age, of heart, of stroke, due to bad social habits. My granddad had everything but the kitchen sink: heart issues, diabetes that gave him "spells" and my mom died of a bowel blockage, though she also had undiagnosed emphysema.

Until recently, I had no clue about the health history of my dad's clan. He died when I was small and we had very little contact with his very large family. It was on Facebook that I learned about the high incidence of Alzheimer's disease in the Simpson clan. Thanks to cousin Dawn, for that piece of news.

It's not just the medical connections I missed.

Other than my own children and husband, I have lived for years as a familial orphan, a person who comes from a large family who has had literally no connection with my past. Sometimes I feel like an adopted child wandering around looking for connections that could help me make sense of my life, of my psyche.

Who am I like? How did I get here?

It's been a blur for sometime.

But thanks to technology, I've been able to reconnect with my Dad's side of things and I'm just beginning to uncover information about that large family and the people who were always a bit of a mystery to me.

When my Dad died, I was cut off from the Simpsons, aside from an annual visit to see my paternal grandmother, Jessie Simpson. My mother would dress me up in my best hand-me-down dress and take the long journey to her farm house, which was a large clapboard affair, surrounded by grapes, buffeted by a rather large car grave created by my Uncle Doug, who ran a towing business, the man who arrived at the scene of my father's car accident to find him lifeless.

There was never any discussion of the incident, not between me and Uncle Doug, who was a man of few words, not with my Grandmother, who was a dour Scot, able to deliver a plate of home made shortbreads and light chit chat, but not much else.

Her house was always ice cold, and we sat in a tiny living room for about a half hour, then we left. I don't remember my Grandmother very well. The annual visits stopped at the age of about 11. I suppose the mourning period was over and we didn't have to pretend that we had anything in common anymore.

One memory that has stuck is about a gaggle of cousins who used to visit our farm with my Uncle Murray and his wife Etta. They were not exactly Simpsons, they were the grandchildren of Etta and step grandchildren to Uncle Murray. The kids were the children of Elsa, Etta's daughter and some mysterious man.

I don't remember the boys in this clan, just a few girls: Patti and Penny, the twins and Julie.

I was older than them and not particularly interested in playing anymore, but I spent time with them, and they were sweet, that's all I remember, except for the fact that Penny was severely disabled by cerebral palsy. She was the first child I had ever seen who was so profoundly disabled.

She had beautiful eyes and a sweet face. She touched my heart. I never forgot her.

A couple years later, I heard from my mom that all the kids had been adopted out -- all nine of them -- because their mother couldn't care for them anymore. How could that be, I wondered at the time. How can nine children be taken away from their mother? How could she not want them?

A few of my uncles stepped up and took some of them. That's the last I heard of them until my cousin Julie contacted me on Facebook some years back.

We've kept it light over the years, and I never broached the subject. We didn't know each other at all. What business was it of mine what had happened to all these lovely little cousins?

I got the answer this week after another little cousin contacted me on Facebook. Patti, one of the twins, apparently lives just down the road in Kanata! And so I got up my courage and contacted Julie, whom I knew best, to find out the full story.

And what a story!

Elsa had been in a difficult domestic situation with the father of all nine kids. She was an abused woman and she had to get out. So the Children's Aid intervened and the kids -- most of them -- became wards of the state.

Uncle Murray took two: John and the disabled Penny. Uncle Dick took Julie. Uncle Don took Susan Marie. The rest were adopted by other families, and for all these years they lost track of one another.

The kids who stayed in the Simpson clan were never aware that they were sisters until one day when Uncle Don blabbed to them that they weren't cousins, but really siblings. Uncle Dick was furious. He didn't want Julie to know, and didn't speak to Don for years. He also made up a fictitious story about her birth parents.

When Julie was a young woman, the adoption story was confirmed by her older sister who took her to meet her mom, who was too distraught to deal with the situation. So for years, Julie lived without her mother, not knowing the fate of the others.

It was only because of Facebook that she eventually learned the truth about her family. Some siblings had answered an ad on Facebook for kids looking for their lost parents. This year, she was contacted by her sister Patti -- the sib who lives down the road from me -- and they began to talk on the phone.

Because of Facebook, Julie reconnected with her mom. She discovered that her sister Penny had been placed in a facility years ago, and that she was happily married to another gent and lived in assisted living.

Next week, Patti will take the long journey across this vast province and meet her sister Julie, who lives in Marathon, for the first time in more than 50 years, children brought back together because of Facebook after having been torn away from each other because of domestic violence and a system that was unable to keep them together.

What a great, heart-warming story for a cold Thanksgiving weekend.

All made possible through the wonder of Facebook.