Saturday, April 4

Living with Autism

April being Autism Awareness Month, I was surfing the Internet and found these videos about Will, who is living with autism. Take a few minutes to view them and learn about how those who live with autism look at the world.

Many families are not as lucky as Will's. The waiting lists for help are long and treatment is very expensive. Please be aware that autism effects approximately 1 in 150 people. I love one of those people and chances are that you do too.

Thursday, April 2


Today was a beautiful day here in southern Ontario. The sun shone all day with very little wind.

Tonight, the sky was golden, blue and pink. It was a nice ending to a lovely spring day.

The colors deepened as the sun sank lower in the west. Dakota and I enjoyed spending time outside because it's to rain all day on Friday and the weekend is to be cooler.

This afternoon we took Dakota to the vets for his distemper booster and his rabies shot. The vet says he is in great health. He weighs 23.6 lbs now...a far cry from the 5 lb. puppy that we brought home in February.

Michelle is having surgery tomorrow to repair her hernia. It will be an out-patient procedure. I will be picking the boys up from school. If you have time, drop by her blog and leave her a bit of cheer.

Enjoy the weekend. I'm not sure what is in the works yet. It will depend on how Michelle's surgery goes and how she is doing. ~Blessings, Mary~

A Bit of Birding

Last week, I saw a robin sitting on a branch of a tree just at the side of our yard in the back corner by the shed. He was close to my friend, Marrianne's property. Last summer she had all kinds of birds in her yard. There's lots of trees there for shelter and she fed them birdseed and corn.
I was able to get the above photo of the little guy. Tonight I saw a pair of robins sitting on the ridge of Marrianne's house. The photos didn't turn out because the robins and the color of the roof were too much the same. That's what you call camouflage. This afternoon, I saw a cardinal in the same area. There are a lot of bushes and shrubs there. This is the male. I couldn't get a good shot of the female. These two birds are usually close together and one day I'm hoping to get a photo of the pair.

After dinner tonight, I had Dakota out and had taken the camera along because of all the bird activity in the area. I've been keeping it in my coat pocket for any photo opportunities. As Dakota and I were walking along the edge of the park, this Great Blue Heron happened by, heading to his favorite spot along the canal. Thank goodness I had the camera. It would have been a shame to have missed this fantastic shot. I may never have such an opportunity again.

I hope you enjoyed these photos of the birds in our area. ~Blessings, Mary~

Wednesday, April 1

Canadian Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism

As many of you know, my grandson, Brandon, has Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the high end of the Autism Spectrum. As I was surfing the Internet to raise awareness for Autism Awareness Month, I came across this proposal by the Austism Society of Canada.

The Board of Directors of Autism Society Canada, proposes a “Canadian Charter of Rights for Persons with Autism” as of March 1st, 2009 in celebrationof World Autism Awareness Day April 2nd, 2009.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) and other relevant declarations on human rights should be considered. In particular, for people with autism the following rights should be included:

1. The right of people with autism to live independent and full lives to the limit of their potential;

2. The right of people with autism to an accessible, unbiased and accurate clinical diagnosis and assessment;

3. The right of people with autism to accessible and appropriate education;

4. The right of people with autism (and their representatives) to be involved in all decisions affecting their future; the wishes of the individual must be, as far as possible, ascertained and respected;

5. The right of people with autism to accessible and suitable housing;

6. The right of people with autism to the equipment, assistance and support services necessary to live a fully productive life with dignity and independence;

7. The right of people with autism to an income or wage sufficient to provide adequate food, clothing, accommodation and the other necessities of life;

8. The right of people with autism to participate, as far as possible, in the development and management of services provided for their well-being;

9. The right of people with autism to appropriate counselling and care for their physical, mental and spiritual health; this includes the provision of appropriate treatment and medication administered in the best interest of the individual with all protective measures taken;

10. The right of people with autism to meaningful employment and vocational training without discrimination or stereotype; training and employment should have regard to the ability and choice of the individual;

11. The right of people with autism to accessible transport and freedom of movement;

12. The right of people with autism to participate in and benefit from culture, entertainment, recreation and sport;

13. The right of people with autism to equal access of all facilities, services and activities in the community;

14. The right of people with autism to sexual and other relationships, including marriage, without exploitation or coercion;

15. The right of people with autism (and their representatives) to legal representation and assistance and to the full protection of all legal rights;

16. The right of people with autism to freedom from fear or threat of unwarranted incarceration in psychiatric hospitals or any other restrictive institution;

17. The right of people with autism to freedom from abusive physical treatment or neglect;

18. The right of people with autism to freedom from pharmacological abuse or misuse;

19. The right of access of people with autism (and their representatives) to all information contained in their personal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and educational records.

People who live with Autism have the right to live without fear of discrimination, harrassment and being ostracized for their disorder. Chances are you know someone with autism. Today, one person in 150 has some form of autism. I love one of them and chances are you do too. Please help raise Autism Awareness.

Monday, March 30

More Plumbing Woes

In January, we called a plumber because our pipes were backed up. Some of my readers may recall that he charged us $60 and didn't do a thing. My regular plumber was on holidays at the time, so I had to call someone I didn't know. Well, in February, I had to call a plumber again for the same problem. He changed some pipes because there was 2 inch pipes where there should have been 4 inch pipes. In fact, the pipes that were there weren't even really for plumbing. The person who owned this house before us had just installed any old pipe he could find. When the plumber was done, everything worked great, so we thought our problem was solved.

Wrong! On Friday, sewage began to back up into the house again. Of course it waited until late in the afternoon to do this and there was no one available. So, early this morning I got on the phone and called my plumber. He told me that there must be tree roots in the sewage system, because he had cleared everything else. He explained that since he was a small, independent plumber, he didn't have the four-inch auger needed to clear this mess.

The tree that causes roots to grow into our drains is on city property and therefore I knew I had to call the City. They came just after 1pm, dug up my flower bed to get at the access pipe and ran their long auger down the pipes. No, it wasn't tree roots between the house and the road. The man went into the basement and told us that the problem was in the pipe that goes through the foundation. Great! Now I had to find a plumber who would take on this job.

Keep in mind that we couldn't shower, bath, wash dishes or use the bathroom during the entire weekend. Both hubby and I were getting a little tired of this and so we called a company that offered emergency plumbing services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They told me that the man would be out as soon as he was finished with the job he was doing.

At 4pm, I called the company back and asked them if I could have an "expected arrival time." They told me about a half hour. Well, the guy showed up after 6pm. The dispatcher assured me that the problem would be taken care of before the plumber left. Wrong! He looked at the job, told us the pipe was broken and had tree roots in it. He would have to clear it but since it was the end of the workday, he would be back tomorrow. Say what? I thought they had emergency service 24 hours, 7 days a week. Not according to him.

Now my dear friends, I must admit I lost it. I looked at him and said, "Why tomorrow." He told me that it would take too long to do the job tonight. I freaked. I asked him how we were to shower, wash dishes and use the facilities. He told me he had cleared the line enough that we could shower or do dishes, but not to flush the toilet. Whoa!!! We've already been without facilities for the entire weekend. So, forgetting that I'm a lady, I asked him, "What do we do if we have to use the bathroom?" (only a little more bluntly.) He shrugged and didn't say a word about what I was to do but proceeded to tell me the job would take two days and cost between $4,000 and $15,000 dollars. Then, I really freaked.

I understand that 6 feet of pipe will cost money. I understand that these guys get about $120 per hour. However, what I don't understand is that he thinks I'm going to go without facilities when the company offers emergency service 24/7, have to go to the gas station to do my business and then allow him two days to install a piece of pipe. Does this girl look stupid? My Dad did all his own plumbing so I certainly have some idea what we are looking at here and it is not a two day job nor is it between $4,000 and $15,000.

So, tomorrow I will get up and call the company to see what his superiors have to say. I told hubby and the plumber both, not to be too surprised if they didn't get the job. I can't use the bathroom for two days anyway, so may as well get another estimate or two.

I'm done my rant now. I hope you all have a good week and take good care of your plumbing. If not, you may find yourself in a similar predicament to mine and that wouldn't be good. ~Blessings, Mary~

Sunday, March 29

Local Castle for Sale

Yates Castle, also known as Wynarden, was built in 1864. I have always loved this mansion and when I was younger, I dreamed of one day owning it. At that time it wasn't in as good condition as it is today.

Yates Castle was built by railroad magnate Henry Rushton Yates, who helped develop what was known years later as the Canadian National Railway. This type of house was not something that was usually seen in those days. It had hot and cold running water, two towers, a dumbwaiter, a wine cellar, speaking trumpets and an underground tunnel to the school that was located on the grounds. This is where the Yates children attended their lessons.
The property is spacious and the trees and yard frame it in a natural setting. Inside at the time of construction was dozens of rooms, including a billiard room, a butler's pantry, a large drawing room and of course the lady of the house had her own boudoir. Modern conveniences included bathrooms, water closets and force pumps.

After Henry Yates died, his massive estate was divided among his survivors. His wife, inherited the property and the house. However, the fortune dwindled and by 1923, Yates Castle stood empty. It fell into a state of disrepair and looters stole fireplaces, woodwork, light fixtures, plaster mouldings and stained glass windows.

Enter Joseph and Mary Talos, who lived just down the street. They were a hard working couple. Mary cleaned houses and worked as a cook. Joseph slugged marble at the foundry. But Joseph dreamed of one day owning a fine house like Yates Castle and when the property went up for back taxes, Joseph scraped together the money to buy it. He paid between $4,000 and $5,000, which was a lot of money in the late 1920s.

Today, it is owned by Joseph's descendent, Steve Talos. Steve remembers going with his father, Rudy, to work on the house when he was a kid. He hated it. However, after earning a degree in history, he began to take more of an interest in the castle and has renovated and restored it to look much like it did in its heyday.

Large tree stump in the foreground gives the house a little more character. Notice the slate roof and the beautiful trim in the photos that give the better view.

The garden of Yates Castle. Notice the ornamental fence in the background. Imagine having all that property to garden. It would look magnificient with arbors, climbing roses, clematis and other climbers.

The two photos above are of the renovated coach house. This property would have been magnificent when it was first built.

Today, Steve Talos has the property up for sale and is asking $1,855,000. Unfortunately, it has been divided into apartments. It would have been wonderful if it could have been kept as a single dwelling, but I wonder how Joseph would feel about that price if he were alive today.

Yates Castle has only been owned by the two families to this point...the Yates and the Talos'. What a history this house has. If only those walls could talk, what a story it could tell.

I hope you enjoyed these photos and a bit of history about Yates Castle. It has been a point of interest to me for many years and I hope whoever purchases it treats it with tender loving care. ~Blessings, Mary~