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Now that I am an old woman I know that wearing purple, with a red hat Is nothing but spitting in the wind. True courage involves realism and facing facts. Yes, I can eat three pounds of sausages at a sitting, But my outraged guts will soon tell me who’s boss! When I suffer the pains of an inflated stomach, Mind over matter is never an option. It is hard to witness the blunting of a needle-sharp mind, And the slow disintegration of a formerly agile body, But if reality is not faced and counter-measures taken Then the process speeds up and spirals out of control. I must accept the need to write everything down, And the knowledge that facts sometimes defy instant retrieval. The filing system is ancient and clumsy, Its wheels turn slowly and the mechanisms creak. Even if I spend my money on satin sandals and bikinis Instead of buying old-woman’s shoes for swollen feet, And figure-concealing garments to hide sagging flesh, I nevertheless remain, inexorably senescent, And no amount of bravado Will miraculously resurrect the tautness of youth. Stiffening joints cannot mimic quicksilver movements. The aging body is no more flexible than the aging brain. Today the arms held out to me are to prevent a stumble, To bestow an occasional hug, or the affectionate kiss, Because for the old, the former glory days are over Even if the blood runs hot and the dreams are still fiery. I watch the exploits of youth while I sprawl like a beached whale… Women today have freedoms I never knew, But they are beyond my dwindling reach as the sands run out, So I agonize helplessly against "the dying of the light". I am essentially an old woman fighting the frailties of age, Hoarding the wisdom and experience of my years Within a cynical and enquiring mind more vigorous than my body. Buttressed by pills, patches, and prosthetics I delay the inevitable, And walk the treadmill of diminishing returns, While the landscape of my future darkens and recedes. A resigned acceptance is the only logical philosophy. Certainly wearing purple with a red hat would change nothing….. Valerie Simmons © 13th February, 2005

Valerie Simmons was 84 years old when she wrote this, and had been publishing on an amateur basis for several years.


REPAIRS/RENOVATIONS By Don Caldwell (Article)


don caldwell

Don Caldwell

Ah, renovations. What a wonderful word. It conjures up notions of fantasy - a promise of change to newness within the context of your already comfortable, if somewhat outdated but happy existence, with dispatch and little or no pain. After all its not like your are starting from scratch – building a new house or garden. You already have the house and garden. You are simply going to make a few improvements - upgrade some elements, add some new ones, sand a little woodwork, dab a bit of paint, hang some wallpaper, throw down a new carpet, install some new appliances, widen a doorway, throw in a nice Jacuzzi tub. And, you are going to get it all done in a week-end or two so that you can get back to the important things in life - golf, entertaining, grandchildren, golf, holidaying in the Caribbean, golf.

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PROFILE OF OTTAWA By Suzanne Fortey (Article)

Suzanne Fortey
ne ForteyOttawa in Profile

Ottawa, for most Canadians, conjures up images of Parliament buildings, of the longest skating rink in the world, of the site of many of our national institutions such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the National Gallery and foreign embassies. Visitors to the Capital region are also impressed by its beautiful natural setting with the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers flowing through it against the backdrop of the Gatineau Hills. Plenty of parklands, waterways and greenspace adorn it, with extensive walking and bike paths. In Ottawa, the two founding cultures of Canada meet and interact, contributing to the making of a vibrant community. Formerly known as a government town, it is now also known as a high tech centre with the number of technology workers rivaling that of the government sector. All of these factors play a part in making Ottawa a great place to live.

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Jim Elliott with Joan Ann


The question of copyright seems to be under review with an element of the academic and consumer world hoping to limit the purview of copyright protection while much of the corporate world hopes to extend its range and duration. The latter group seems to be winning with the 1998 Copyright Extension Act which lengthened the period of protection by twenty years, and the successful prosecutions of down loaders of music and movies.

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Terry Colfer

In response to a recent request from The Naval Association of Canada, I contributed the following article for one of their publications. Since there is a diplomatic-naval theme throughout this piece, I thought that it might be of interest to some of the JustOttawa readership.


First off … full disclosure and brief background! I have absolutely no naval service experience. I was a soldier; a grunt, dog face, ground pounder or whatever. My uniform was a khaki colour, not navy blue.

As a member of the Regular Officer’s Training Program (ROTP) from 1960-65, I attended McGill University and Royal Military College. After graduation, the following four years in the army were exciting and included training as a para-trooper and jumping out of “perfectly serviceable” Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft plus a year of duty in the Gaza Strip (cut a bit short by the Six Day War in 1967).

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Roger Lucy


We all know the promotion system is broke. For years efforts have been made to find a workable selection process based on the merit: all sorts of tinkering has gone on to find a way objectively to grade merit i.e. through appraisals, interviews, competencies, in-basket tests, etc. These do not even address the question of how one gets selected to an assignment that allows one to demonstrate ones merit. Maybe we should, instead, be looking at some of the selection, assignment and promotion models that have been used in the past - some quite successfully.

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pierres photo

Pierre Beemans

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Part of the price for a fully retired life is being pretty well out of the loop. It was in a line-up at the supermarket on Holy Saturday that I learned of the death of Dwight Fulford, some four years ago. He wasn’t a close friend - more of a good acquaintance, really, as we ran into each a couple of times a year at the Bytowne Theatre or some neighbourhood function in Alta Vista. Nonetheless, the news left me feeling that I had lost something: a chance, perhaps, to say goodbye and to remind him of why I held him in such high esteem.

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Paul Durand

Below is Paul Durand’s forword to John Kneale’s “Volcano Rising”. 


An Ambassador’s Diary 

John Kneale’s book serves a very useful dual purpose: for those wishing to acquire a sense of Latin America, with all its foibles and complexities, it does a splendid job; the author has compressed into a single volume many of the characteristics of the region, using Ecuador as the template. At the same time, he has provided - by describing in detail his own daily experiences – a compelling description of what it is that a Canadian diplomat at the level of ambassador actually does.

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