Lupercalia, Faunalia and Valentines

February 14th, 2015

Ancient Romans had the habit of adopting the gods of the peoples it conquered and one example is their god, Faunus.? Similar to Pan, the mythological Greek god of shepherds, flocks, nature and hunting, Faunus has a human torso, but legs, horns, and ears of goats.?

The Romans celebrated Faunalia, in honour of their god Faunus, on February 13.? It is said that during Faunalia, participants sacrificed goats and cut their skin into straps or thongs, which they used to slap one another.? As a fertility ritual, apparently, priests would run through the villages, wearing little more than a loin cloth, flogging innocent bystanders with these thongs.? The touch of the priest's thong was supposed to have the power to cure sterility.

Lupercalia was also a sacrificial festival, celebrated in ancient Rome, by a group of priests known as the Luperci.? On February 15th, for over a thousand years, Lupercalia honoured Lupercus (The Wolf God of Winter) and ?Rome's legendary founders, Romulus and Remus, who were said to have been suckled by a she-wolf as babies. The Romans considered Faunus and Lupercus to be closely related, and some historians even think they are one and the same god, named differently depending on the region. ??Stories of the earliest ceremonies include stories of animal sacrifices, feasting and naked romps encouraging sexual excess.? . There are two conflicting artistic depictions of Lupercalia and they offer conflicting evidence as to whether these were playful or violent occasions.


While traces of Lupercalia remain today, for instance, the month February is named after februa (a Latin term describing something used to "purify"- including a priest's goatskin flogger),? the early emerging Christian churches made every effort to draw people away from pagan ritual. ??A favoured method of eradicating interest in such tradition was to replace the celebration with something more palatable and saintly.? In the case of Lupercalia, the feast of St. Valentine on February 14 was a handy substitution.? First established in 496, some early accounts suggest that on the eve of St Valentine's Feast, the names of all unmarried women were placed into a box and drawn by the village men, pairing them off, for the sole purpose of sexual relations. Over the centuries, the practice softened, relieving the ladies of any carnal obligation.? Nevertheless, many people believe this is how we started exchanging Valentine cards.

Groundhogs Can be a Nuisance

February 2nd, 2015

The Ground hog is a member of the rodent family, related to squirrels.? They are sometimes referred to as a "Woodchucks" (Marmota monax) or "whistle pigs". ?It's not uncommon to see them out, during the day, ?foraging for food or on the look out for predators.

Ground hogs provide a tasty meal for foxes, weasels, hawks and eagles... when they're threatened, they issue a loud, high-pitched whistle and dive into a burrow.? ?These hefty rodents create systems of tunnels that they use for shelter, hibernation and raising their young.? Often, their burrows become home to frogs and smaller rodents.?

It's easy to identify a ground hog burrow, as you will find mounds of dirt beside the entrances and the entry may be up to 12 inches wide.? Although ground hogs are relatively harmless, they do undertake extensive excavating and have an appetite for fresh garden flowers, grasses, vegetables and fruit.? This can make them unpleasant neighbours.?




Woodchucks can be moved along by disturbing their burrow system but if you have problem ground hogs, it is most humane to evict them between mid-July and mid-September.? Female woodchucks have dependent young in their burrows from late winter until early summer and they will do almost anything to protect them.? If you wait until the young ground hogs re able to venture above ground, you will be far more successful in your efforts and you will increase the likelihood of survival of this relatively benign species.

Before you close up a tunnel, test for activity.? Try loosely plugging the entrances with grass, tissue paper or something similar and watch for activity.? If you observed any attempt to remove the material for 4 or 5 days, you can be reasonably sure that the burrow is not occupied and the family has likely moved on.

In September, if you see ground hogs, the best method of eviction is simple harassment.? Shout at them, throw pebbles or sticks at them... but don't get too close- any wild animal under stress can be dangerous.? It's unusual for a ground hog to hang around and get yelled at, but if that's the case, a simple live trap and relocation (to a vacant field) is the best alternative.

Cottage Lifestyle

January 21st, 2015

Last year, Phil Soper, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, commissioned a report that found that, when it comes to cottages, the lifestyle benefits outweigh the costs for most potential buyers.?

Ranking their priorities for recreational property, 55 per cent of survey respondents said they were looking for waterfront or beach access, 46 per cent wanted a four-season property and 43 per cent said they just wanted a quiet location.???

?Aside from being able to reconnect with nature, many cottage country lovers speak of ?escaping the city, of being "unplugged" and having room to roam.? Others enjoy being part of a small community and ordering from a local bakery or buying eggs or vegetables from a nearby farm. ?For others, it's about the sunrise and catching fresh fish.??

Time spent in cottage country is the stuff of lifelong memories.? It conjures images of building sandcastles, splashes of clear water, chasing minnows and frogs.? Feeling a sunset. Bonfires and toasted marshmallows, fireflies in the trees. Singing songs and finding secret places.? Playing cards and doing puzzles, laughter and the scent of pine.??

The right place has an emotional connection.? So, when it comes time to buy, find a trusted real estate agent that understands what you're looking for. ?In addition to helping you determine availability and pricing, your agent can explain the finer details- things like local property taxes, sewage systems and water supplies- and regulations.?

We Don't Use Squeeze Pages

January 14th, 2015

Almost every Realtor attends countless educational courses or seminars every year.? There's always someone hired to speak at conferences and larger corporate meetings.? We think of it as the cheerleading session, the booster rally... and while we respect that some Realtors like that stuff and really gain something from those events, we have different priorities.


We do keep up on trends and we do research various media platforms but we find that the information given by professional speakers and coaches at big events, well... so everyone is doing the same thing.? The squeeze page is one of those things and it reminds us of the Cottage Show premise.? Realtors go to Cottage Shows for one reason- to get contact information for prospective buyers.? Then, they hammer and hammer and hammer at those prospects, trying to get a sale.? The problem is, at a Cottage show, those same buyers have likely given their contact information to a dozen Realtors, and they're being driven crazy with the deluge of correspondence and likely turned off. ?We don't do Cottage shows. In the web-site world, a squeeze page is something similarly designed to get email addresses... to "squeeze" it out of folks.?


Last year, statistics showed that the ratio of ?Realtors to Age of Majority Canadians was 1 for every 245. ?In Toronto, that rose to 1 for every 140.? In Bancroft (a town of roughly 4000), there were 44 Realtors... 1 for every 90.?? It stands to reason that if Realtors are all being taught the same ploys and trying to simply "squeeze" information out of people, there's a whole lot of squeezing going on and it's not the good kind.


Realtors are taught to form relationships with clients.? They're trained to foster life-long connections through mail-outs.? These days, of course, email has taken over- but it's the same principle.? Send regular newsletters, send cards or calendars or fridge magnets- keep in-touch somehow.?? And, we're not knocking the gesture if it's genuine.? Honestly, we envy the Realtor who has time to accomplish this feat- provided it's sincere.?

Many Realtors have lengthy email address databases.? The new privacy legislation has laid out certain guidelines and Realtors are supposed to have written permission to maintain open files on contacts.? Some people say that the rules don't apply to "friends" and that's THEIR business. ??

The thing is, that we equate the word business with professionalism.? Our dentists and lawyers don't send us birthday cards or happy anniversary of the purchase of your dental appliance notes.? Just saying.?

We're happy to get emails and we like to hear from our past clients.? We have an open door policy and we're especially pleased to get referrals.? We do our job and we do it well.? We do have a Facebook page and sometimes we Twitter.? We share vital information when requested and we blog. Our website shows every MLS listing on our home board, although we are licensed for all of Ontario and our contact information is available on the "contact info" page...


We'd love to hear from you.

Fischel Wadler

January 10th, 2015

This morning I found a friend had posted this to facebook:


"Peacefully at home in North York, Ontario on January 6, 2015, Michael Nishri, age 87, died of cancer. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Ruth Goldfarb vel Archit, his sons Alex?(Diane Mitchell Nishri)?and Ted of Toronto, his grandsons William and Kevin of Toronto and extended family in Israel and the United States. He is predeceased by his brother Shaike Nishri of Israel.


Michael was born Fischel Wadler, son of Leib Wadler and Beila Susser on October 25, 1927 in Krakow, Poland. He spoke rarely of his experiences during World War II, but his story is amazing. He survived the Podgorze ghetto because his parents were employed in Julius Madritsch's factory; he survived a death march from Mauthausen to Gunskirchen concentration camp where he was freed by American soldiers after just a few days; he survived years in Cyprus after the illegal immigrant ship "Twenty three" was captured. Michael served in the Palmach Negev brigade during the War of Independence. On May 7, 1964, he arrived in Montreal with his wife and sons to start over again. They later moved to Toronto, where Michael (Eli to his wife, Dziadek to his grandsons) worked as an accountant until retirement. Michael always enjoyed camping, and considered AlgonquinPark to be one of the best places on earth. He was an active member of the Seniors for Nature Canoe Club from the earliest days, frequently leading hikes and canoe trips with Ruth.


On January 17, 2015, a life celebration for Michael will be held at Toronto Botanical Gardens from 1-4 pm. In memoriam donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated."



I responded:? "Alex, I want to extend my sympathy to you and your family and friends and I also want to thank you for sharing this glimpse into an exeptional life. In one short paragraph, we are given a powerful reminder of human endurance and the will to survive atrocity and adversity. It is disheartening and difficult to think of how your father struggled, for almost half his life, to defend simple, basic rights... yet, it is uplifting to imagine the tremendous joy he must have experienced in securing a better life, and future, for his family. This is the true meaning of a successful life and those who are left to mourn are the measure of his substantial wealth. Rest in peace Fischel Wadler-Michael Nishri."?


I was reluctant to post the comment... I felt then, and still feel that?what I said was inadequate...? I don't know how to articulate the shame I feel?for being human and knowing the?horrors?that people are capable of inflicting... and surviving... and I don't know how to articulate the admiration I have?for people who are able to?endure such trauma and go on to?experience?love, laughter and enjoyment in life.