Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

28 September, 2011


Several posts ago I talked about an interesting woman by the name of Arielle Ford who had just published a book about Wabi Sabi Love.  I have not had an opportunity to fully immerse myself in this unique study of an ancient Japanese art form, but Arielle sent me an interesting report today that I think is worth passing on to the readers of Wrights Lane because it addresses a theory about male/female relationships that I totally believe in. 

Research by Sandra Murray, a psychologist at the University of Buffalo, reveals that putting on “rose colored glasses” and idealizing our partner in life actually leads to more happiness and satisfaction in the relationship.
In fact, the happiest couples focus on what’s right and not on what’s wrong. This is also known as the Pygmalion effect, the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform. It’s a form of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Many years ago a study was done in schools where three teachers were told specific information about their students.

The first teacher was told her students had all tested with a high level IQ.  The second teacher was told her students were all very average.  The third teacher was told her students had learning disabilities and had below average IQ’s.

At the end of the school year the teacher who was told her students had “high level IQ’s” discovered that they all tested exceptionally well. And, conversely the teacher who held little hope for her students discovered her kids tested badly. The teacher with the “average” students also discovered they performed as expected.

As mature adults, we get to choose our thoughts and beliefs so why not intentionally intend and expect the best out of ourselves, and our partners? Why not wear “rose-colored glasses?”    Rosanne and I both keep a pair and a spare on hand at all times.

(One disclaimer here, this is not an invitation to go into denial or accept bad behavior or harmful situations. In the event you find yourself in an abusive relationship, you are well advised to seek professional counsel immediately.)

27 September, 2011

After putting a "30" to the First Nations treaty belt story below, I could not help but think about the earlier mistreatment of not only our native Indians in Canada but African-Americans, Japanese, Chinese and other foreign immigrant pioneers as well.  It was a sobering thought that reminded me of how far we have come in Canada in the past 100 years -- and how far we have yet to go.

The "man's inhumanity to man" that Robert Burns wrote about several hundred years ago, continues to be a cloud hanging over us, tempering the national pride of some who would have it otherwise...But not enough to sufficiantly right the wrongs of the past and present in this fair land of ours.


Aboriginals had treaties with each other long before European fur traders or settlers arrived in what is now called Canada. Aboriginal nations would use oral treaties to settle land disputes and end other conflicts, including war. Trade and marriage arrangements were commonly made between tribes as well.  When the Europeans arrived, they brought with them their own methods, especially the written treaty. Particularly after the conquest, when the British gradually began to establish a strong hold on the continent, Aboriginals were not always happy with the outcomes of these written treaties - for governments of the time sometimes did not include oral promises made to the Aboriginals in the written treaty. This forms the basis of many land claims today, as Aboriginal leaders demand to be given what they were promised.


Living in Southampton, we are often exposed to bits and pieces of Canadian history that have been conveniently glossed over and are completely new to us. Sadly, the average Canadian has a very narrow understanding of "treaties" and the long historical and cultural significance between the British and First Nations peoples.

The Saugeen Ojibway Nation, a literal stone's throw north of us on Lake Huron, hosted a special Wampum Belt Assembly this past weekend for the purpose of presenting "Treaty Belts" to Saugeen. I thought that readers of Wrights Lane might appreciate learning, as I did, about the significance of these colourful belts that are truly a work of art.

The four belts that were presented consisted of the Covenant Treaty Belt, the Anishnaabe Friendship Belt, the Peace Belt and the 'Dish with One Spoon' Inter-treaty Harvesting Agreement Belt, each with historical cultural meaning.
Alan Corbiere explains history of "The Treaty Belt". 
--Saugeen Times Photo
Alan Corbiere, head of the Ojibway Cultural Foundation at West Bay or M'chigeeng on Manitoulin Island, is known for his writings on the importance of language and, through his traditional storytelling, has been educating both aboriginal and non-native peoples about the culture and history of the First Nations. "The treaties were agreements," he says. "They were not surrenders but were an alliance agreement between equals."

He went on to explain that the Royal Proclamation said, " .... the Indian Tribes of North America shall be recognized as Nations who have citizens who shall be unmolested in their own lands and all dealings will be nation to nation, government to government and their lands shall not be tempered with or treated lightly."

"There is nothing more important to know about First Nations than the belts ... they say who we are and that we were part of the founding of this country and they endorse our rights for the future and that our children and grandchildren have the same rights as everyone else."

Randall Kahgee, chief of the Saugeen First Nations #29 Reserve, added that the treaties involved more than just transfer of lands. "They are entrenched in the Canadian Constitution and are living, breathing documents that must be respected.  The fact that the treaties protect relationships to the land and waters, language and culture, is an understanding that is not told.  It is a constant struggle to remind the Crown what our treaties are all about."

The belts will now be on display at Saugeen First Nation and the history will continue to be told through them.

By means of further explanation, most of the settled lands of Canada, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, were transferred from First Nations to the Crown (the Government) through treaties. Today both sides agree that the so-called Indian Treaties are agreements between the Crown (the Government) and First Nations, in which the First Nations exchanged some of their interests in specific areas of their ancestral lands in return for various kinds of payments and promises from Crown officials. However, each side has a different interpretation of what was intended by the agreements.

The Canadians (British) and the First Nations were at the same meetings, listened to the same speeches (translated) and signed the same pieces of paper. Yet they had (and still have) two totally different concepts of what the treaties were about, and what each side was promising. The differences in understanding are rooted in two totally different world views, and two totally different concepts of land ownership, and two colliding purposes.

The concept of private ownership of land by an individual, who could build a fence and keep others out forever, was totally foreign to First Nations people.

First Nations had an oral tradition. They passed down important information by the spoken word during important ceremonies and at celebrations. What was said was what was important to them, not what was written on paper. Though they did not have a written tradition, in the European sense, they recorded important events by sewing beaded wampum belts. Wampum belts signifying treaties became sacred objects that were brought out at certain times.  Elders would then recite the terms and
understandings of the agreement commemorated by that ceremonial wampum belt.

Granted, we are not walking encyclopedias.  It is virtually impossible to be familiar with, and to have a full appreciation of, all cultures of the world.  That is a discipline unto itself.  But it is nice to get to know our next-door First Nation neighbours just a little better.  After all, they were here first.  Maybe we can even learn something from them! 

26 September, 2011


It seems that many regions of pumpkin growing are experiencing shortages this fall.  In the Northeastern United States and parts of Southwestern Ontario, hundreds of pumpkin patches were destroyed by hurricane Irene.   Wholesale prices have doubled in some areas as farmers nurse their surviving pumpkin plants toward a late harvest. Some farmers are trying to buy pumpkins from other regions to cover orders.  In southwestern Ontario, pumpkin farmers had to postpone planting this spring due to heavy rains.  South of the border, the wholesale price for a bin of 32 to 45 pumpkins ranged from $150 to $200 US double the normal price. In large urban centres, pumpkins could sell for up to $15 at  supermarkets.  In Bruce County, however, there does not appear to be a shortage.  Hi-Berry Farms, located on Hwy. 21 between Port Elgin and Southampton, has more than an ample supply again this year which augers well for the 25th annual Pumpkinfest celebration this coming weekend.  --Saugeen Times Photo 

24 September, 2011

A short two-minute "movie" that I invite all Wrights Lane viewers to watch.  As I stated on my Facebook page "It all begins with you and I."  Click


23 September, 2011


I write on the subject of education from time to time, primarily because I wasted much of mine in my formative years.  I was not a good student.  I was a day dreamer who had only one thing on his mind -- sports.  I was bored and unstimulated most of the time.  I was uncomfortable with, and feared, tests and examinations.  At best, I was a slow learner.  I frustrated teachers who felt that I did not apply myself in main subject areas as much as I did in special interests such as English composition, art, health and phys ed.

Quite honestly, my school years were not  all that happy because I failed a lot.  I felt inadequate in all aspects of my life with several exceptions -- baseball, Boy Scouts and army cadets.  To this day I am convinced that kids like me fall through the cracks of the educational system because not enough attention is paid to individual student aptitude.  The subject of guidance, virtually non-existent in my time, still seems to be given a short shift.

I had to leave high school to have my much coveted fling at professional baseball and to experience the real world for a while in order to learn the value of education.  I was smart enough to know that if I was ever going to get anywhere in the business world, I had to prepare for it academically.  My first step was to take a two-year business management course by correspondence, then later as a mature student I took political science and Canadian history courses at the university level, three evenings a week while holding down a full-time job and raising a family.  Trust me, that is a route that I would not recommend to anyone.

Studying and absorbing text that was in front of me presented a problem.  When there is the pressure of having to remember facts and figures in order to "make a grade", my mind still shuts down.  My memory retention is far better, however, when relying on powers of observation and listening in an everyday, relaxed setting.  I get far better results too when learning by rote (doing a thing repeatedly until I conquer it). 

It took almost half of my life to realize that my greatest asset is an ability to write.  It satisfies my need to create, relate and communicate.  It brings me satisfaction.  It is, in a way, life fulfilling.  I just regret that it took so long for me to understand the secrets of self-expression through the written word -- inspiration, confidence, courage, motivation.

My advice to young people today is:  Don't be afraid to talk to your teachers (I know this is easier said than done); let them know when you do not understand, or you need an explanation about something.  Understand that, in the overall scheme of things, your time at school will be an all-too-brief period at the beginning of your life -- make the best of it, participate in extra-curricular activities and have fun.  What you experience and learn in school will carry you through the rest of your life.  And it most certainly will help in making a living for you and your family.

The forgoing has been a rather long and roundabout way of setting the stage for the reproduction of an address given by my old Lambton Kent District High School principal, Edward H. Logan, at the conclusion of the 1949-50 school term.  Mr. Logan's 60-year-old words remain applicable today and it is like he was actually talking to me, a student about to enter Grade 9, only I did not recognize it at the time.  Typically at that stage, my mind would have been a thousand miles away.  If he were alive today and reading this, he would shake his head in amazement while exclaiming:  "Dick Wright, of all people.  Thank goodness something finally sank in!"

Over to you Mr. Logan.  Sorry for being a disappointment.  I should have listened better and I should have talked to you more!  I should have talked to teachers Frank Brown, Bill Bryant and Margaret Tamblyn too, but I was just a kid.  I didn't think anyone would listen, even if I could put into words what I wanted to say.  I didn't turn out too bad after all though.  If only you could hear now what I want to say -- 60 years too late!  RIP


Edward H. Logan, B. Com., Principal:  A message to his students, 1949-50

During your years at school many of you do not realize just what the school is trying to accomplish in the way of education.  To you, education consists of learning material out of books and writing examinations, and you fail to grasp the true purpose behind what oftentimes seems to be meaningless tasks.
Edward H. Logan

Education has been defined as the ability to do what you should do when you should do it whether you want to or not.  Your years at school should give you the ability to analyze and to think for yourselves and should show you the necessity for discipline and co-operation.  In so far as you have learned these lessons, your education has been successful and the school has achieved its main purpose.

Education should enable you to do three things (a) to earn a living, (b) to life a life, and (c) to mould a world.

To earn a living is, of course, the main objective of each and every one of us.  At the present time if one is to compete successfully in industry or the professions, an education is essential.  Education in itself, however, is no guarantee of success, but it will increase the opportunities for success provided it is coupled with hard work and a definite goal.

Education, however, should mean more than merely earning a living.  In the last few years, the tendency has been to place emphasis on this side of education and to try to evaluate education in terms of dollars and cents.  The more intangible aspects of education have been shoved to the background and this is an unfortunate trend -- one which is based on false notions.  Education cannot be regarded merely as a commodity to be bought and sold.  Mere financial success is not the chief aim in life nor does it necessarily bring happiness.  Education should mean much more than this.  To be completely successful, education should enrich the personality and develop interests which will lead to a broader, fuller and happier life.

It has been often and truly said that you pupils of today are the citizens of tomorrow.  Before long, you will be leaving our school to go out in the world.  Here you will be called upon to play your part in the affairs of your community and of your country.  The world at present is in a state of upheaval and change, and you as its future citizens will be called upon to influence and mould its destiny.  To do this successfully, a broad and sympathetic understanding of the problems to be faced is essential.  This can come only from education in its broadest sense.

During and since the war (WW2), we have heard a great deal about the four freedoms -- Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech.  These are the foundations upon which are based our form of government and our way of life.  There is however, a fifth freedom more fundamental than any of the others and this is the Freedom of Ignorance. 

The ignorant man is the easiest prey to want and fear.  Freedom of religion means little to him, and a free press means nothing, for even if technically he can read, he cannot understand what he reads.  He is a danger to himself, to you, this country and to the world.  To overcome this danger and guard against the threat of ignorance, it is essential that the best in education be available to all and that you, the pupils, should take advantage of the educational opportunities provided for your benefit. 


As with all my other posts on Wrights Lane, if you feel that any young person can benefit from reading this, please pass it along. 

22 September, 2011


I listened in today on an interview with Arielle Ford, a brilliant young woman for whom I have developed great admiration.
Arielle Ford
Arielle has spent the past 25 years living and promoting consciousness through all forms of media. She is the author of the international bestseller, THE SOULMATE SECRET: Manifest The Love of Your Life With The Law of Attraction. Her radio show, Big Love with Arielle Ford, is heard on Contact Talk Radio where she shares the secrets to finding and keeping love and making life a spiritual adventure. She lives in La Jolla, California with her husband Brian Hilliard, and their feline friends.
Through today's interview I learned for the first time that Arielle's career has paralleled mine in that we have both walked away from careers -- Arielle once, me three times.  I could have saved myself a lot of anxiety, however, with the benefit of her experience and wisdom away back then.
At the top of her career in 2004 as perhaps the leading book publicist and agent in North America, she fell victim of depression and began to hate the work she was doing.  "Authors are very difficult people to work with," she explained.  "They are extremely demanding and have unrealistic expectations of what a publicist can do for them.  They all want to get on the Oprah Wimpfrey Show and the odds of that happening are very slim.  Most are not ready for that kind of exposure, even if there was a chance to get them on the show.  The time that I was putting into my work, and the demands that were placed on me, eventually led me to leave the business before I really got sick."
As it was, Arielle spent many months in recovery.  "Some days I could not even get out of bed, but one thing I had going for me was a wonderful support system, including my husband and several people who coached me in the areas of finances and moving ahead into a new career." 
"The support system is crucial and you have to have faith that there is something better out there for you," she added.  "You also have to understand that we complete phases of our life and that there is nothing wrong with ending one phase and moving on to another."
Opportunities for Arielle to become involved in several not-for-pay projects eventually presented themselves and she eagerly jumped at the challenges.  One opportunity led to her becoming a partner/stakeholder and she was on her way to a remarkable comeback in a new career that she thoroughly enjoyed and was exceptionally good at.  The rest is history. 

In walking away from my three careers, first the men's clothing business then newspaper and finally  public relations, I paid a price mentally and emotionally.  I did it all on my own.  I had too much pride to ask for help and that was a mistake.  Things worked out for me in spite of myself, but I always felt that there was something wrong with me in leaving perfectly good carriers just because I was unhappy with what I was doing and paying a price for the impact that it was having on me.
Maybe  some of us go through more phases than others in a search for fulfillment.  I don't know.  As Arielle pointed out, I did not understand that we all go through phases that we complete and that it is in our best interests to move on to something else -- a new phase.  Life is too short to allow your job to make you sick.
I'm so relieved to know now that there was nothing wrong in my changing careers and that I am not alone in experiencing more than one phase in life.  God help me, I'm still going through phases long after my change of life.  Who knows, there might still be something better out there for me.

I have just ordered Arielle Ford's latest book.  It’s called "Wabi Sabi Love" and it is based on an ancient Japanese art form that finds beauty and perfection in imperfection.  It is especially written for husband and wives and may give me a new perspective with which I can expand on my "True Love" post of last week.

19 September, 2011


It's not often that a 70-year-old guy gets to shake the hand of a boyhood sports hero.

Jack Fairs (right) and me.
I had never met Jack Fairs and I never got to see him play baseball in his glory days.  I just read about him in the London Free Press -- a catcher with the London Majors, Canadian and World Baseball Congress Champions in 1948.  His name was always prominent in  the sports pages, first as a member of the John Metras-coached  University of Western Ontario Mustangs football team, then a battery mate in baseball for the legendary future major leaguer Sal Maglie and Senior Intercounty Baseball League standout pitcher Tommy White.  I religiously followed Jack and the perennial Intercounty champion Majors through the pages of the Free Press up to his retirement as an active player following the baseball
season of 1953.

As fortune would have it, I would eventually get to play with Jack's old teammate Tommy White and another member of that famed London Majors team of 1948, Russ Evon.  I also played with and against Roy McKay who just happened to be the bat boy for those same Majors of '48.  They all spoke highly of Jack as a player and person, elevating him even further in my estimation. 

Jack in his baseball days.
Rejecting numerous offers to play professional baseball, Jack chose to pursue his interest in physical education.  After earning his Honors Chemistry degree from Western in 1946, he attended Columbia University for Physical Education in 1947. A few short months later, he was back at Western where he began his teaching and coaching career.  He was associated with Western for over half a century as a teacher, mentor, researcher and coach. He is well known and respected for his extensive contributions in physical education and coaching, particularly in the sport of squash. He retired in 1988 but still continued to coach squash at his alma mater where he was professor emeritus of kinesiology.

Commitment to coaching has been a hallmark of his distinguished career. Incredible as it may seem today, he played and coached five sports during his lifetime: football, basketball, baseball, tennis and squash; producing UWO national champions in tennis, football and squash.  Over the years, he has been the recipient of countless awards and citations, far too many to mention.

You can imagine, then, my utter joy in standing next to the now *90-year-old (or close to it) Jack on a warm sunny day this past June on the lush infield grass at historic Labatt Park in London as we joined a group of London Sports Oldtimers Association honorees.  With the strong arm that had thrown so many baseballs, footballs and basketballs placed firmly on my shoulder (see above photo) we posed for photographs.  I was immediately taken with the aura of a very special man who has accomplished so much in his lifetime.  A class act in every aspect.

You would never guess that Jack is about 10 years shy of the century mark.  He appears to be more like a fit 65 or 70.  "You look like you could still put on a uniform and play," I told him.  "No, don't kid yourself.  I've had some health setback and I'm subject to dizzy spells, so I have to be careful," he explained.  Extremely personable and as sharp as a tack, he expressed interest in my background and at one point strung off a list of names from the past that he thought I might know (and I did) including Red Brewer and Gerald Cook, a couple of old baseball players from my hometown of Dresden.  When we parted, Jack was suggesting a round of golf later that week with a member of the oldtimers committee.  Dizzy spells be damned!

After reading and hearing about Jack Fairs all those years ago and admiring from afar what he stood for, I finally got to meet him -- and he was bigger than life.  The oldtimers plaque I received that day was, in a way, secondary.

Making the outstanding occasion even more significant was the presence of Norm Aldridge, a long-time trainer and coach for London senior baseball teams, including the 1948 World Congress champion Majors.  As best as I can determine Jack, Norm and Gil Robertson (another catcher) are the sole survivors of that great historic team.  

I don't think they make them like that anymore.

* One report lists Jack as being born in Toronto in 1920 while other reports list him as being either 88 or 90 years of age and born in Tillsonburg.  Give or take a year or two, he remains a pretty remarkable guy.

"One of my great joys in coaching
is seeing Western players develop their
abilities to pursue their vocational goals.
"My job as a coach is not only to
assist athletes optimize their potential on
the field of play, but to help them develop
in the broadest possible manner."
--Comment by Jack Fairs in reflecting on his more than 50 years of involvement with the athletic program at the University of Western Ontario, London.

Jack addressed the University of Western Ontario
Convocation, June 17, 2005

18 September, 2011


The world is full of worriers.  We all secretly worry from time to time, right?

I often quote astrologer Jonathan Cainer because he includes philosophical nuggets with his daily "Your Stars" forecasts.  His take on worrying caught my attention this morning:  "What do they (people who worry) all have in common? A strange delusion!"  My thinking exactly!

While I admit to periods of worry, I am the first to acknowledge that worrying never ever solved anything.  Generally, worrying just drags you down and makes matters worse.  Worriers tend to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, that they are in a minority.  They think everyone else is feeling just fine and enjoying life and that they are the only ones feeling edgy and apprehensive about a particular situation.

It is best sometimes to ask yourself:  "What am I worrying about at this particular moment?"  And "how worried should I really be?"  Chances are the answers to those two questions will underline the futility of what you have been worrying about.  So, relax already!  No more needless negativity!

If you have an overly active mind, try focusing on the many things that you do not have to worry about and thank your lucky stars.

The very fact that you have been worried means that you needn't worry at all!

15 September, 2011


"Love is a many splendored thing
It's the April rose that only grows in the early spring
Love is nature's way of giving a reason to be living
The golden crown that makes a man a king."
A very good acquaintance has challenged me to write about "love".  Not adolescent puppy love.  Not exploratory love.  Not the kind of love associated with the pre-marital sex accepted as the norm in this day and age.  Not horomal-driven sex/love, but the kind of love that exists between two mature and selfless husband and wife soul mates -- the kind of love ideally suited to bring children into this world.  The kind of love that sets an example.

It is my fervent wish that at least a handful of young people will take the time to read and to absorb what follows in this post.  It comes from someone who has had experience in this area -- twice!

Emotional feelings arise from
the heart.  Love is an affair of
the heart.

In all honesty. I think that most of us have never been formally educated in the fundamental area of  love in our development as human beings.  Chances are, we did not grow up with parents who were relationship experts either, and we certainly did not study the meaning of true love and how to find it in our high school curricula. For most of us, arriving at true love has been an adventure in trial and error and learning through good times as well as bad -- the emotional highs and lows of early life.  I truly feel, however, that we are wired for the (*)Agape type of love which is the ultimate in idealistic relationships.  It is just that when entering adulthood today young people with surging hormones do not understand the requirements of true love, any more than they know how or where to find it.

Unfortunately, the tendency is to release our youth into the world and hope (and pray) that intuition and dare I say, luck, will eventually work in their favour.  To those of my generation, I say:  Don't complain about how much things have changed today because we live in a society that we ourselves have created through among other things, permissiveness and oversight.  Our culture is giving young people the impression that sex and love are one in the same and that is soooooo wrong, both morally and psychologically.

In accepting my friend's challenge, I expressed reservations about my ability to do justice to this subject in mere words when true love can only expressed through "actions of the heart".  Love is best seen as devotion and action, not an emotion. Love is not exclusively based on how we feel. Certainly our emotions are involved, but they cannot be our only criteria for love. True devotion will always lead to action stimulated by what is felt within the heart.

Forget the too-little-too-late outlook.  We have to somehow find a way to impress upon young people today the qualities to be found in a truly loving relationship.  In so doing we can do them a great favour by saving them from much heart ache and grief down the road.  For instance, they should grow up knowing that:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Did it not just occur to you that what I stated in the forgoing paragraph was a condensed modern version of a very meaningful biblical reference?  1 Corinthians 13:4-8  describes the characteristics of true love in the best way possible.  Too often, when dating, the tendency is to look at physical appearance and popularity without first getting to know the person with an eye to the potential of a life-long relationship based on the qualities described in those four brief bible verses.  Regardless of religious persuasion, or lack of same, there is no better blueprint for loving, harmonious, fulfilling, male-female relationships.

In light of the Corinthians quotation, it is easy to see that premarital sex is not patient, it is not kind, it does not protect; it is merely a self-seeking quick fix with ramifications that can be devastating to both parties.  Because premarital sex is not love, it only leads to pain and disappointment for those who are seeking that love. When two people are married, they become one flesh.  Sex is a consummation of that union.  It is a gift for choosing well and making a commitment to a life partner who is the "right fit"  for you.

It is a well-kept secret, but scientists tell us that the body releases a hormone during the sex act that bonds a couple together emotionally.  For a male the effects last for 48 hours, but for a female the effects are extended over a 14-day period.  That explains why, after engaging in sex with someone who is not an ideal fit, couples go through agonizing and frequently damaging break ups in the short term as well as in more prolonged affairs.

True love is never to be taken for granted.   It is not to be played with as one would a toy.  When we become adults we put aside childish things.  There is another message here too, especially for boys/young men...When a girl gives herself to you, it is generally because she has special feelings for you.  Do not take advantage of that without seriously considering that you are "messing" with her life and that she is someone's daughter, sister and (if not you) someone's future wife.  Respect what she is.  Be one of the good guys who understands that all good things come to he who waits.

True love is a blessing.  You can see it in your partner's eyes and you can feel it in your heart.  It gives you chills.  It is unconditional and uncompromising.  It forgives and forgets.  It bonds as one.  It is something you can't wait to come home to.  It outlasts hormones.  It comes in the form of perpetually spontaneous hugs and acts of affection for no particular reason.  It goes to the grave with you...It is for ever!

Cling to the one you love my friends and never let them go.  In the heart and soul of a very special and signiicant other, you have everything you ever needed.

Indeed, true love is a many splendored thing!

(*) Agape:  Love, but in the holy, rather than erotic sense.


13 September, 2011


Two-hundred-year-old books from my grandmother's collection.
When I wasn't preparing meals last week, taking care of household chores, catering to the increasing needs of Rosanne, catching up on outside yard work, purchasing a new car in Owen Sound, making a dozen-and-one trips to grocery and drug stores, taking Lucy out for walks, writing a few posts on Wrights Lane, adding my two cents to Dresden Virtual History Group discussions and daily late morning siestas that have become an essential to surviving the balance of the day (I would "get a life" if I wasn't so occupied with the current one), I managed to do some pretty extensive and long over-due research.

The research involved a tiny 180-year-old, palm-sized book from a collection originally belonging to my grandmother, Louise Wright (1862-1932).  The collection consists primarily of spiritual publications of Anglican (Church of England) persuasion printed in Ireland in the early 1800s, but "Irish Melodies and Other Poems" by Thomas Moore, ESQ. in particular has haunted me over the years, to the point where I finally decided to learn as much as possible about the author.

I was first surprised to learn that the year 2008 marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Moore's collection of songs -- 124 poems set to traditional Irish tunes published in 10 volumes between 1808 and 1834.  Moore is today considered Ireland's "National Bard" and is to Ireland what Robert Burns is to Scotland.  How the work of a staunch Irish Catholic found its way into a collection of antique Church of England books is beyond me, but all the more interesting and intriguing.

Thomas Moore (28 May 1779 – 25 February 1852) was a poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer (more about that later).
Introduction pages from Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies.




From a relatively early age Moore showed an interest in music and other performing arts. He sometimes appeared in plays with his friends, such as The Poor Soldier by John O'Keeffe, and at one stage had ambitions to become an actor.  Moore attended several Dublin schools including Samuel Whyte's English Grammar School on Grafton Street where he learned the English accent with which he spoke for the rest of his life. From 1795 he was educated at Trinity College, which had recently allowed entry to Catholic students, in an effort to fulfil his mother's dream of his becoming a lawyer. 


It was as a poet, translator, balladeer and singer that he found fame, however. His work soon became immensely popular and included The Harp That Once Through Tara’s Halls, Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms, The Meeting of the Waters and many others. His ballads were published as Moore's Irish Melodies (commonly called Moore's Melodies) in 1846 and 1852. While Thomas Moore was completing his many works he met a girl with the name of Lena Angese who encouraged him with his works. She also helped him with his future compositions and they became very close. Although she was said to have fallen in love with him she suddenly appeared missing and was later found dead.

In 1803 he was appointed registrar to the Admiralty in Bermuda. He spent about three months on the island, but he found his work very light and uninspiring. There were several other prize courts nearby and very few captured ships were brought to Bermuda leaving him little to do. Although he drew inspiration from the scenery of Bermuda he found its society limited and soon departed for Norfolk. Because of his brief stay there he has sometimes been treated as an unofficial poet laureate of Bermuda.

From Norfolk he travelled across the United States and Canada in a Grand Tour. During this visit Moore developed a deeply critical view of the United States. He particularly disliked the governing Democratic-Republican Party and the President Thomas Jefferson. While in Washington he stayed with the British Ambassador there and met Jefferson briefly. He then travelled through various American towns and cities, enjoying his time most in Philadelphia where he already had an established reputation. He then travelled northwards to British-controlled Canada, stopping at the Niagara Falls. He sailed back to Britain from Nova Scotia aboard a Royal Navy ship arriving home in November 1804.
Thomas Moore
from a painting


It was after this trip that he published his book, Epistles, Odes, and Other Poems, which featured a paean to the historic Cohoes Falls called Lines Written at the Cohos [sic], or Falls of the Mohawk River, among other famous verses. A repeated theme in his writing on the United States were his observations of the institution of slavery. Moore's mocking criticisms of the United States provoked outrage in America and led to a number of rebuttals.  In Britain, a critical review of the work led to the overly sensitive and firey Moore challenging Francis Jeffrey, an editor, to a duel. They met at Chalk Farm but the duel was interrupted by the arrival of the authorities and they were arrested. Reports that Moore's opponent had been given an empty pistol, continued to dog Moore and led to persistent mockery of him.

Lord Byron derisively referred to Moore's "leadless pistol" and wrote "on examination, the balls of the pistols, like the courage of the combatants, were found to have evaporated".  Moore was angered by this and sent a letter to Byron that hinted that unless the remarks were clarified Moore was prepared to fight Byron. However, Byron had left Britain to travel abroad and the letter did not reach him. When the two men eventually met each other the dispute was settled and they soon became very close friends.

Moore married an actress, Elizabeth "Bessy" Dyke, in 1811. She was the daughter of an East India Company official, but was raised with her three sisters by her mother. Moore did not initially tell his parents of his marriage, possibly because his wife was an English Protestant, but more probably because his marriage to a woman without a dowry would not help his financial prospects. Moore had expensive tastes, and, despite the large sums he was earning from his writing, he soon found himself in debt.  He and Bessy stayed together, however, and raised five children, all of whom predeceased their father.

Around the time of the Reform Act he was invited to stand for parliament, and considered it, but nothing came of it.  In 1829 he was painted by Thomas Lawrence, one of the last works completed by the artist before his death (see painting above).  In 1830 he sang in front of the future Queen Victoria in a duet with her mother, and later composed a song Sovereign Woman in her honour.
Moore was for many years a strong advocate for Catholic Emancipation which he regarded as the source of all problems in Ireland and the sole reason behind the 1798 Rebellion - a point he made in his 1831 biography Life and Death of Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

The victim of a stroke some time earlier, Moore died in the care of his loyal wife on the 26th of February, 1852.

In the early years of his career, Moore's work was largely generic and had he died at this point he would likely not have been considered an Irish poet.  From 1806-1807 Moore dramatically changed his style of writing and focus. Following a request by a publisher he wrote lyrics to his series of Irish tunes, in collaboration with John Stevenson.  He became best known for these enormously popular "Irish Melodies" including songs such as The Minstrel Boy, The Last Rose of Summer and Oft in the Stilly Night.

The Last Rose of Summer is of particular significance to me because it was an expression often used by my mother and consequently by me to this day, i.e. "I absolutely feel like the last rose of summer" or "He/she looks like the last rose of summer".  Little did I know up to a few days ago that the expression we have used all these years actually originated with Thomas Moore. 

"The Last Rose Of Summer": The lyrics

'Tis the last rose of summer left blooming alone
All her lovely companions are faded and gone
No flower of her kindred, no rosebud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes and give sigh for sigh

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one, to pine on the stem
Since the lovely are sleeping, go sleep thou with them
Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves o'er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead

So soon may I follow when friendships decay
And from love's shining circle the gems drop away
When true hearts lie withered and fond ones are flown
Oh who would inhabit this bleak world alone?
This bleak world alone

I have created a link (below) to a wonderful piano rendition of "The Last Rose of Summer".  It is a fitting conclusion to this post and helps one feel a little closer to a most unusual man with an undeniable gift of music.  It cost me some sleep, but I am glad I did the research.     

"The Last Rose of Summer"

NOTE:  Other books in my inherited collection include A Church of England Prayer Book, Daily Steps Towards Heaven, Solomon's Temple Spiritualized by John Bunyan, The History of Joseph and The Lord's Supper by Rt. Rev. Thomas Wilson.  Don't worry, I do not intend to write about them on Wrights Lane!

11 September, 2011



Last year I associated with the Children's Educational Network and its KIDSAFE program because I believed in its focus -- a safe computer environment through which children can learn and grow.  Since that time CEN founder Greg Writer has introduced a number of other commendable initiatives, the latest being "The Children of 9/11" feature to which I provide the above *link.  On this the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 disaster in New York, we have heard heart-tugging stories about some of the 3,000 individuals (several dozen Canadians) who lost their lives in the tragedy.  For the first time, however, we bring you previously untold stories in the words of some of the children who lost parents and whose lives have been permanently altered.

You will have to set aside a few minutes to read their stories, but it will be well worth your time.  Go to the above link.   NOTE:  Just ignore any pop-ups that may occur when you first access the site.

10 September, 2011


Virtually every thing I write and post on this site is the result of serious consideration, passion and a personal intensity that has at times been questioned -- by others as well as myself.  Suffice to say, however, if I did not feel a passion for my writing and I lacked the intensity that is ideally associated with self-expression, I would not do what I do.

I detest pretend writers...Those who superficially cater to an audience at the expense of creativity and considered thought.  Maybe that's because I have been there and got paid for doing that very thing.  I came close to journalistic prostitution during the time I spent in business public relations and industrial public affairs where I put words in other people's mouths and had virtually everything that I wrote vented and approved by a president, chief executive officer or managing director of some ilk.

Mind you, writing for others (i.e. ghost writers, speech writers) is an art unto itself but it takes a particular mindset and a special type of "behind the scenes" person who takes pleasure in seeing their words effectively delivered and well received.

As a newspaper managing editor too, I walked a very fine line between publishers, advertisers, politicians, and the expectations of a critical reading public; always cautious, always looking over my shoulder, always defensive.  I lost years off my life worrying late at night (when I should have been sleeping) about having had the editorial courage of my convictions on controversial issues.

I cringe today when I see glorified sales pamphlets masquerading as personal blog sites.  There are thousands of them on-line, all cleverly (some not so cleverly) designed to sell you something at the end of the day.  It's all about traffic-flow.  The modus operandi: "Write something -- anything -- that will draw viewers to your site and the products you are promoting."  A constant regurgitation of others' work on some sites is also phoney journalism, but to each his/her own.

All this is by way of saying that I am over-joyed with the freedom associated with being the publisher of my own work.  I can write what I want, when I want, without the pressure of a deadline or someone standing over me, reading every word as I type it.  For all intents and purposes, I am a happy keyboard camper, letting my thoughts flow unencumbered by outside influences.  I have only myself and my conscience to answer to.  The one downside is that computer spell-check has its shortcomings and in self-editing, I often overlook typos and redundancies in my text.  Rosanne used to be my backup proof reader, but she is unable to come to the computer these days so I have to go it alone.

I do not expect readers to accept everything I write as gospel.  I am only one voice among countless others.  I write because I am compelled to.  I like to think that most of what I write is for a common good and interest.  And every once in a while, I hope that there is a grain of inspiration in what I offer on Wrights Lane.  Gratification comes in the form of reader feedback and the knowledge that I have hit home with someone.

The one nice thing about exposing yourself to my musings is that it costs nothing...and you can dispense with me with the flick of a finger on the keyboard.

What's that enmass "clicking" sound I hear?

09 September, 2011


From where I sit in a pew that is not all that comfortable these days, Christianity seems to be reforming into several overlapping world views.

One of these views frames life's big question -- what is the right action in any given circumstance.  This group tends to be concerned with morals and are more generally anxious about life and worried about misleading teaching. 

The other approach focuses on discerning how to be good.  Scripture is read more thematically and sweepingly and the historical context of a particular passage is of crucial importance in interpretation.  Generally, we find mainstream church debate framed in terms of conservative and liberal.  Squeezed in the jaws of the overlapping views are poor Christian souls who accept as literal the various interpretations and translations of biblical writing and teaching and conduct their lives faithfully within the narrow but focused confines of their convictions.

There is increasing conflict between the extremes, each one thinking the other to be misguided, perhaps even profoundly wrong.  But what if it were possible to lay distinctions aside?  What if it was generally accepted that it is possible to look at the world through completely different sets of lenses?  As with all human conflict, once different styles are recognized, the sides are able to work out differences harmoniously.

A former editor talks about working at a publication where all his colleagues were anxious to get their work done early, to make quick decisions about stories and page layouts with no changes.  He, on the other hand, was always tinkering with copy and layouts right up to deadline time.  His colleagues thought he was being mean and ruthless in undoing their good work and in creating avoidable stress for them at deadline.  The editor saw them as uncooperative and uncaring about the final product.

Eventually a moderator helped the staff and editor see that no one was being mean or uncooperative, but that they were bringing different values to the same problem.

Surely it is not too difficult to understand that in general everyone is trying to conform to certain religious principles, just in different ways, and with different outcomes.

It helps to look at the gospels themselves as an example.  It doesn't necessarily take a biblical scholar to characterize the synoptic writers (Matthew, Mark and Luke) as being more generally concerned with Jesus the man -- the Messiah destined to lead his people like the prophets of old into a new age.  John, on the other hand, was concerned more with presenting Jesus as Divine -- the God-Man.  "And the Word was made flesh..."

Note:  We are talking here in one instance about the Man-God and in the other about the God-Man.  Both may well be true and acceptable, but profoundly different.  So too are the overlapping world views that are concerned with thinking about our faith.  The practical concern about morals is grounded in the questions:  What is the right thing to do? as opposed to What is it good to be?

If there is any truth to the differing views currently engulfing most Christian denominations, is it expecting too much to hope (pray) for more amicable discussions that honour where the other side is coming from, not as opposed to one's own position, but rather as looking at faith and life from a very different perspective?

Sadly, the evolution of society has resulted in us making religion far too complex and complicated.  There has been a tendancy to manipulate faith more in keeping with human preferences and, dare I say -- frailties. 

I have never handled differences and conflicts all that well.  Any wonder that I sit in an uncomfortable pew as far as my faith in the future of all that is good and holy is concerned?

Different world views can, and will, lead to different theologies and I can accept that, as long as we do not lose sight of the fact that, ideally, truth and scripture are present in both.

08 September, 2011


I do not want to come across as being morbid, but I have been thinking about the "high cost" of dying  today as opposed to 80-100 years ago.  When you reach a certain age, you tend to reflect on these things, you know.  Seems to go with the territory.

*Click to enlarge image
I was looking last night at a "Deed" to a family burial plot in the Dresden Cemetery purchased by my Grandfather Wesley Wright on the 30th of February, 1896, and was astounded to see that the cost of the 108-square foot (8x16) piece of terra firma was a whopping $8.00.  That works out to about $1.33 for each of the allowable six interment spaces in the "family" plot.  Wesley's second wife Annie was the first to be buried there in 1892 (prior to his buying up of the full lot a few years later), followed by Wes himself in 1920, then my grandmother Louise (the third wife of Wes) in 1932 and eventually my father (1952) and mother (1995), leaving one more spot for guess who?  Trust me, I'm not dying to get there any time soon, if you get my drift!

Today the cost of a mere double-use plot (one on top of the other) is conservatively in the neighborhood of $2,000.  Of course location and size can push that cost up considerably -- by as much as an additional $2,000 or $3,000, even more in some exclusive cemeteries.

The cost of funerals too has risen unbelievably in the last 80 years.  Would you believe that funeral expenses for my grandmother Louise (Wright) who passed away in February of 1933 added up to $248.65, payable to the Harvey Holmes Funeral Home in Dresden.  (It is nothing for funeral expenses today to exceed $10,000.)  In a statement of estate disbursements filed with the Surrogate Court of Kent County by the law firm Carscallen & Carscallen in April, 1933, final medical fees for my grandmother were listed at $2.50, Surrogate fees $44.50, Notice to Creditors in the Dresden Times newspaper $6.72 and "goods supplied for burial" by Robert Aikin Company $3.36.

It is interesting to note that in a cover letter to my beneficiary father, Kenneth, Carscallen & Carscallen stated that "The payment of funeral expenses, doctor's bill, newspaper ad, and fees payable to the Court, exhausted all the cash in the banks.  A small account with The Robert Aiken Company will be paid when bank coupons mature March 1st, allowing us to proceed."

I guess that comparing the cost of anything from one period in time to another is an exercise in relativity but, boy, it can be eye-openly shocking nonetheless.

Dying has always cost us -- in more ways than one!  And it doesn't get any cheaper with the passage of time.  If there is one consolation in all of this, it can be found in the old saying: "You can't take it with you anyway!"

01 September, 2011


Okay all you Wrights Lane followers who were born along the northern shores of Lake Erie and those who may also have family and acquaintances living there:  What do Port Burwell, Port Stanley, St. Thomas, Port Talbot, Talbotville and Malahide Township all have in common?

The answer is, Col. Thomas Talbot who was responsible for the designation of those names some 200 years ago. 

I came across much of the information in this post yesterday while doing some rather hasty research for my friends in the Dresden Virtual History Group.  The subject was broached by David McVean of Deluth, Minnesota, who revealed that his "other side" was Talbot and he regretted that the early impact of "Talbot" was little known in the Kent County area of Southwestern Ontario in particular.

Well, I'm here to tall you that a certain Irish aristocrat by the name of "Talbot" had an astonishing impact on not only Kent County, but the counties of Norfolk and Essex on either side of it.  Here is the story.

Colonel Thomas Talbot (July 19, 1771 – February 5, 1853) was born at Malahide Castle in Ireland near Dublin.  He was the fourth son of Richard Talbot and his wife Margaret Talbot, 1st Baroness Talbot of Malahide

Surprisingly, at the age of 11 he was commissioned Ensign in the 66th Foot Regiment and was appointed aide-de-camp at 16 to distant relative, the Marquess of Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  In 1790, the year after Buckingham’s resignation, Talbot joined his regiment on garrison duty at Quebec and the following spring moved with it to Montreal. Partly on Buckingham’s recommendation, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, named Talbot as his private secretary in February 1792. The young lieutenant was thus provided with unlimited opportunities to travel throughout the new province with its thick, mixed deciduous wilderness, and to impress Simcoe with his abilities.

The bond forged between the two men over the next four years seems crucial in explaining Talbot’s subsequent actions.  After a brief recall to England, Talbot convinced the government there to allow him to implement a land settlement scheme along the northern shore of Lake Erie. He chose property in Elgin County in adjoining townships, Dunwich and Aldborough, when his petition for 5,000 acres (20 km2) was granted in 1803. It was May 21, 1803 that he landed at a spot which has been called since Port Talbot, and built a log cabin. Nearby, he added a sawmill, a cooper shop, a blacksmith shop, and a poultry house along with a barn. When settlers began to arrive in 1809, Talbot added a gristmill as well.

Here he ruled as an absolute, if erratic, potentate, doling out strips of land to people of his choosing, a group that emphatically did not include Americans, liberalism or anyone insufficiently respectful. For every settler he placed on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land, Talbot received an additional 200 acres (0.81 km2) for himself. He wanted permanent and compact settlement. One of the conditions attached to the free grant of 50 acres (200,000 m2) which he offered to settlers, was the right to purchase an additional hundred and 50 acres (200,000 m2) at $3 each, and the promise of a road in front of each farm within three and a half years. The other condition was the building of a small house and the clearing and sowing of 10 acres (40,000 m2) of land.

The result of the road-making provision was that the settlement became noted for its good roads, especially for that named Talbot Road. By the late 1820s Colonel Thomas Talbot had organized the construction of a 300-mile (480 km)-long road linking the Detroit River and Lake Ontario as part of grand settlement enterprise in the south western peninsula. By 1820, all of the land originally allotted to Talbot had been taken up. From 1814 to 1837 he settled 50, 000 people on 650,000 acres (2,600 km2) of land in the Thames River area. Many, if not most of the settlers, were American. He had placed about 20,000 immigrants on the Talbot settlement by 1826.

Because he had done his work so well, the government placed the southwestern part of the province under his charge. This afforded Talbot the opportunity of extending the Talbot road from the Long Point region to the Detroit River. In 1823, Talbot decided to name the port after his friend Baron Edward George Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, whose son, Frederick Arthur Stanley would become Canada’s governor general and donate to the hockey world the elusive trophy, which still bears his name. According to returns placed before the House of Assembly in 1836, title to some 5,280,000 acres (21,400 km2) located in twenty-nine townships had at one time gone through his hands.

Talbot's administration was regarded as despotic. He was infamous for registering settlers' names on the local settlement map in pencil and if displeased, was alleged to have erased their entry.

During his lifetime and certainly after, Talbot came under intense criticism. When he placed settlers names in lots and with pencil, did he do so in order to cheat them or was it because it was easier to remove the name if the settler failed to fulfill his obligations in the time allowed? He was arbitrary in the way he accepted some people but rejected others. Was that because he was a bigot and corrupt, or was it because he would not accept speculators and people he thought were going to fail?

He dealt with applicants through a window of his home. If the window was closed, applicants had to wait. If he did not approve of an applicant, he would simply slam the window shut and that would be that. If a settler did not complete his work in an approved time, Talbot simply erased his name from the map and his rights disappeared. However, there is no doubt that, whatever people thought of his methods, they worked. The areas he settled were very much in demand. His roads were the best in Upper Canada and his settlements successful. So much so that the area he controlled expanded until it covered most of Southwest Ontario west of Port Burwell and south of London.

His insistence on provision of good roads (notably the eponymous Talbot Trail), maintenance of the roads by the settlers, and the removal of Crown and clergy reserves from main roads, quickly resulted in the Talbot Settlement becoming the most prosperous part of the province. Eventually, however, he began to make political demands on the settlers, after which his power was reduced by the provincial government. Talbot's abuse of power was a contributing factor in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.

The Talbot home in Port Talbot was called Malahide (which was demolished in 1997, generating much public outcry from heritage preservationists). Talbot died in the home of George Macbeth at London, ON in 1853 and is interred in the cemetery of St. Peters Anglican Church near Tyrconnell in Elgin County, overlooking his beloved Lake Erie.

Talbot was, and is, an enigmatic character whose deeds are far better known than his personality. He left no autobiography or reminiscences and his bachelorhood dictated no legacy of family recollections. Certain eccentricities – alcoholism, snobbery, reclusiveness, and alleged misogyny – have been featured prominently in various biographies and may have warped the public view of his character. But whether these traits were as important to his make-up as has been suggested is open to question, possibly with no satisfactory answer. Talbot was clearly the product of a privileged, aristocratic upbringing which may well have implanted in him strong feelings of superiority that prevailed throughout his life. These feelings may have been especially obvious in the pioneer society of Upper Canada, where few of his peers ventured let alone resided. His impeccable pedigree was probably a lifelong support. In spite of his geographical isolation he was recognized, visited, and entertained as an aristocrat, until his death, by eminent men and women in both Canada and Britain.

When he died in 1853, at age 82, he had been visited at his historic home on Lake Erie by General Isaac Brock, Francis Gore, Mrs. Anna Jameson, Sir Peregrine Maitland, Sir John Colborne, Chief Justice Sir John Beverley Robinson, his brother the Honourable Peter Robinson, Dr. William Dunlop, Bishops Stuart and Strachan, Sir George Arthur, the Duke of Richmond, Lord Aylmer and many others.

Indeed, a most fascinating and colorful part of our Southwestern Ontario (and Canadian) history.  Curiously, a part that many of us who have lived here all our lives are just beginning to discover.

*To view an excellent video on "The Talbot Settlement" courtesy of the Elgin County Museum, click
Grave site at St. Peter's Church in Tyrconnell, simply reads "Col. Thomas Talbot, founder of the Talbot Settlement."