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

26 December, 2013


There is no particular revelation in reinforcing the fact that I am a strange duck...I think about the weirdest things at the weirdest times.  Take this morning for instance. For no conceiveable reason, while still laying in bed, my mind drifted back some 70 years to a point in time when boys wore breeches, otherwise known as knickers or breeks.

Here I am, circa 1942-'43, wearing breeches. 
Talk about child abuse!

I remember breeches as the most uncomfortable and personally detestable form of winter attire ever inflicted on a boy and I cannot believe that they are still included as formal, traditional dress for our Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Generally made of a heavy almost felt-like material or corduroy, they were billowy at the hips and thighs and tapered down to a snug fit right at the knee where they were tightened even further by laces. It was not uncommon to have leather patches sewn on the knees. Tell-tail creases embedded behind my knee and on my upper calf would remain visible many hours after taking the damned things off.

We were even cursed with breeches as a form of Boy Scout winter wear, switching to shorts with the same itchy all-wool, full length socks in the summer. The only good thing about breeches that I can think of was that there was no pant leg to get caught in the sproket and chain when riding a bicycle.

Coarse, knee-high wool socks, sometimes in colorful argyle patterns, completed the every day ensemble.  I'll guarantee that, regardless of some backward and unexpected style shift today, no self-respecting boy would be caught dead dressing like that in  the 21st century.

Surprisingly, from the late 16th century until the early 19th century, most men and boys wore breeches as their lower body garment. Through the centuries breeches were seen in many forms and lengths. In the early 18th century breeches were barely seen beneath long waistcoats and coats. By the mid-18th century they were more noticeable beneath shorter waistcoats and open coats, and so the cut of breeches became tighter and revealed the shape of the leg.

Worn by all levels of society, breeches were made in a great variety of silks, cottons, linens, wools, knits, and leathers. It was the lower classes, peasants, workmen, and sailors that first wore long trousers, and were first derisively called "sans culottes", without short trousers. Boys from affluent families began the transition to long trousers when in the late 18th century they began wearing long trouser skeleton suits. The term breeches coined the term breeching.

Loose fitting calf-length pants were also worn by boys and girls in the 1960s but, again, they were not very popular with boys. The name was derived from the act of clam digging (if you lived in an Atlantics province) or more likely from simply wading along a beech without getting the pant legs wet or dirty. Clam diggers were similar in style to same-vintage pedal pushers and Capri pants.

I admit that this was no doubt much more than you needed to know about breeks, but I'm at least glad that I got them off my mind, or should I backside!

Down with the breeches of my youth, I say!  Give me a good pair of denim jeans any day.

I can always tuck the bottom of the jeans into my socks, when I want to ride a bicycle.

24 December, 2013


"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

21 December, 2013


It is traditional for me to post something related to the "real meaning of Christmas" on this date each year.    The following came to me this morning as part of a subscription to the "Inspiration by God" newsletter and I deemed it most timely and worthy of reproduction on Wrights Lane.   
Many accounts have been written about the life of St. Nicholas, but "worldwide" he is known for his giving... Stories of his unselfish giving have followed him century after century since the 3rd century.

As it turns out - St. Nick was following in someone's footsteps! From the day Jesus was born, His entire life was about giving. He gave up His life, so that we could have eternal life.  He is the Word made into flesh - St. Nicholas knew that and that is why he lived the life he did and why (regardless of how he is portrayed) he followed in Jesus' example and gave wholeheartedly to others.

St. Nicholas was born in Turkey in the third century. Historically, there isn’t a lot of documentation about him (after all he was born in about A.D. 280, but it is very interesting that his story has continued to live on in folklore. It is known that Nicholas was born to a wealthy family and when his parents died (while he was still fairly young) he inherited a considerable amount of money and he didn’t keep any of it. He is known for having given it all to charity.

While he was still a boy, a couple of miracles were attributed to him and later, while a young man, he was chosen by his people to be their Bishop in their small coastal village. It is from that village that the stories of his generosity began.

Many accounts have been written about the life of St. Nicholas, but “worldwide” he is known for his giving! Stories of his kindness have followed him century after century. He is known by a multitude of names in almost every continent (not sure about Antarctica!), and although – through story telling – he has been morphed into a white-bearded man with a jolly belly and a red suit and eight reindeer…St. Nick is still associated with unselfish giving and that is why Christmas is the perfect time of year to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

From the day Jesus was born, His entire life was about giving. He gave up His life, so that we could have eternal life. He was prophesied about for centuries before He was born! He is the Word made into flesh – St. Nicholas knew that and that is why he lived the life he did and why (regardless of how he is portrayed) he followed in Jesus’ example and gave wholeheartedly to others.

So enjoy this time of year – the Christmas Season is surrounded by a wonderment that simply cannot be explained. All over the world people decorate with bright colorful lights and we bring real or artificial trees into our homes just to have a special place for specially wrapped gifts…We sing some of the most beautiful songs that are meant to be sung at only this time of year - beautiful carols honoring the birth of our Savior (yes, there are some wintery, snowy, Santa Clausey songs too). We bake like there is no tomorrow just so we can share the sweets with the sweet people in our lives, but even more than that we also give like there is no tomorrow. Even those who have little to give, find a way to give. And isn’t it wonderful to know that St. Nick was following in our Lord’s footsteps? Jesus truly is the reason for this Blessed Season.

10 December, 2013


The Worldwatch Institute examines how we can, and must, move beyond our current consumer culture to achieve a more sustainable society

If all humans consumed as much food and resources as people in the United States do, the Earth could sustain only about a quarter of the current population. Add Canadians to the equation and the Earth could sustain disturbingly less. Humanity as a whole is becoming more wasteful as people across the globe define themselves and their successes by what they own and what they consume. In the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?, contributing authors discuss ways that we can move away from the consumer culture that is undermining the planet we live and depend on.

Cultures are constantly evolving, and perhaps one of the biggest cultural transformations was the advent of consumerism not too many generations ago. Erik Assadourian, senior fellow at Worldwatch and co-director of State of the World 2013, highlights the changes that advertising and marketing brought to society.

"When first-generation factory workers received raises, they chose to work fewer hours, not buy more stuff," Assadourian says. "Over time, people got used to new products, some of which did indeed improve life quality and many of which were marketed as such by clever entrepreneurs and a new advertising industry. Eventually, we could hardly imagine life without an abundance of products."

Yet just as humans became consumers, so can we revamp our behaviors to prevent further damage to the planet. Among the ways that our cultures can be transformed to make consumption patterns more sustainable, Assadourian suggests, are policy changes, such as shifting taxes on unsustainable practices like carbon emissions, plastic bags, and junk food; as well as shifts in infrastructure, such as facilitating car-free lifestyles by building bike lanes and shared bike systems, as many U.S. and European cities have done. Members of organizations, such as churches, schools, and businesses, can promote sustainable living in their communities. And media and entertainment have the potential to change our society by subtly modeling sustainable living with films, stories, and social marketing.

Ultimately, we must understand that long-term changes in our communities are not going to be brought about by individual actions alone. Indeed, too much focus on changing individual behavior can inadvertently redirect energy from the cultural, business, and political changes that are necessary. Although corporations have supported some conservation efforts by individuals-sometimes in ways that strategically redirect blame from themselves-the amount of damage done by people and households is only a small fraction of the total waste produced by industries every year.

Annie Leonard, co-director of The Story of Stuff Project and contributing author of State of the World 2013, explains the problems that arise when individuals, rather than large-scale waste producers, take blame for the planet's deterioration. "Describing today's environmental problems and solutions as individual issues has a disempowering effect," says Leonard. "Even if we really do decrease our driving, stop littering, and refuse plastic bags, the broader impacts are still negligible. Society-wide, we need to implement new technologies, cultural norms, infrastructure, policies, and laws."

Leonard advocates for widespread public action to make sustainable living a way of life, rather than a trend. Millions of people are aware of the climate problems that we face, but the impetus to make the adjustment to sustainable living has yet to be made. The sooner we face the challenges involved with moving toward a sustainable society, the better chance we have to prevent further environmental decay.

"The good news is that we have everything we need to make big change in the years ahead," explains Leonard. "We have model policies and laws. We have innovative green technologies to help with the transition. We have an informed and concerned public; millions and millions of people know there is a problem and want a better future. The only thing we are missing is widespread citizen action on the issues we already care about."

By implementing new technologies, shifting cultural norms, building a sustainable infrastructure, and creating new policies, people will be able to make the society-wide changes that are imperative to humanity's success. This means getting the public's attention and calling them to action within broader political campaigns that engage people to work together using the full range of tools available to them, including organizing, lobbying, legal actions, economic sanctions, and even imposing civil inconveniences if necessary.

Over to you young people of today...The Earth that my generation has taken for granted, is depending on you!

04 December, 2013


It has been suggested that approximately 118,000 children were sent to Canada from England, Scotland, Ireland, The Isle of Man and Wales under the Child Immigration scheme from 1863-1939. These boys and girls, ranging in age from toddlers to adolescents, were all unaccompanied by their parents, even though only two percent of them were true orphans. It is a story that has become the shame of  Britain and destination countries like Canada.  It is also a story that involves my late wife's grandmother and her two sisters. 

Check out "Winifred Elizabeth Wood, A British Home Child"
My daughters Debbie, 8, and Cindy, 5, with their British Home Child
great grandmother Winifred in a photo, circa 1970.
The response to this site has been absolutely overwhelming with more than 770 hits in the first 64 hours of its publication, including acknowledgment from the British Home Children's Advocacy & Research Association.