Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who's Yer Daddy?

It seems there is a new terrorist lurking to strike on the U.S. And this will be a devastation beyond any current threat calculations.

We're talking financial terrorism:

China's holdings of U.S. securities have increased from $300 billion in March 2004 to more than $900 billion in June 2007, the latest date for which data are available. Given America's $250 billion trade deficit with China over the past year and the steady stream of money pouring into the country from abroad, economists believe China probably holds nearly $1.2 trillion in U.S. securities today, mostly Treasuries and corporate bonds.

And that doesn't include the roughly $140 billion in U.S. securities held by Hong Kong.

And more:

Meanwhile, China, particularly through its central bank, has become the primary financier of America's budget deficit by using much of its trade surplus with the United States to purchase Treasury debt. At the end of fiscal 2007, China owned 21 percent of the U.S. publicly held debt that was owned by foreigners, and it was buying more than half of the new debt being issued by the federal government.

And more:

"What's most disturbing about the U.S. situation is that as America's debts rise higher and higher, the less influence the American government will have over the critical decisions" that will need to be made to address these imbalances," Mr. Tonelson said. "Those critical decisions will be made in Beijing, not in Washington, and they will be made to promote Chinese economic and national-security interests."

Read more of the same here.

With this kind of financial/debt imbalance U.S. autonomy is just about eroded.

We can all look forward to the new world power: The Empire of China.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Me and my Krups

I’m a creature of simple desires and habits. Really. One of my more serious desires, covetings actually, if the truth be known, was to have my very own Krups machine. For those of you not in the know, a Krups is a combination regular coffee maker and espresso coffee maker. All in the one unit. A black, sensuous, blue lighted, serious piece of kitchen equipment. Made in Germany. Like the Mercedes Benz. Only better.

But it seemed like the height of extravagance and well, okay, downright decadence to get one. When I already had some coffee machines (I collected cheap ones like others collect tea spoons, okay? alright? stop that snorting at the back of the room, please) and a separate espresso machine. So what if their fluidic output fell far short of a Tim Horton’s or a Starbucks. Or that they leaked and couldn’t pour worth a damn. And did some strange things even to the best of coffee beans. Yeah, did I mention I grind my own? I do. I’m a very, very serious coffee aficionado. And I was brought up on tea and Irel and instant if we had coffee. Go figure that one out.

So I took the plunge, about two months ago. I did a web search on the model I wanted and found it in Quebec. And it was half price. And it only took five days to ship it to me.

And it has been a love affair ever since. Did you know a Krups comes with a built-in coffee measure? It does. Do you know neither of its pots’ spouts leak? Did you know the foam from its steamer is the highest? Ever?

I croon to it like a lover. Every morning. Every night. And without fail, it reminds me of all the good coffees I’ve ever shared. Everywhere. Paris. Toronto. Montreal. Chicago. Dublin. London.

Thank you, thank you Krups.
P.S. Mama loves you.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I love Americans!

I particularly love Americans travelling in Canada.

But more than any other tourists on the planet I just adore the Americans travelling in Newfoundland.

And there are a lot more than usual this year. So I get a chance to talk to many of them.

Like tonight. I treated myself to a dinner of plate sized (I exaggerate a little!) scallops in my favourite restaurant in a gorgeous town called Holyrood and shared a smile and a hello with some lilting Deep-South accented Americans at the table across from me.

Later I go for a long walk on the magnificent boardwalk with the Wonder Dog and on the way back meet them again as they take in the beautiful evening air and the sunset over the ocean.

They are missing their dogs terribly, they tell me, even though they have a person dog-sitting them, right in their own home. He especially is lonesome for them, as he communicates on an almost mystical level with dogs as he demonstrated with mine.

So they happily played with Ansa and it turns out they are from Winston Salem in North Carolina and two hours later we finish our conversation.

It encompassed archaeology (they had been on some digs), health care, climate change and, yes, politics. To hear their heartbreak over the last eight years of the mismanagement of their country and their barely expressed ‘hope’ for ‘change’ would make a stone weep.

But more than anything it was the personal details of our lives that bonded us: beloved granddaughters, rescue dogs, a dream of getting off the grid, driving smaller cars, foreign movies and we truly touched souls when we shared our stories of having one troubled daughter out there in the world estranged from family, both with the same name co-incidentally. It eased the pain for the three of us, just sharing that very personal information. And we said this.

And we parted like family. Hugging.

I truly love travelling-in-Newfoundland-Americans.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My First Public Reading

The big night is behind me now.

First of all the location. Were I asked to choose a place for a reading debut, this is exactly the one I would have chosen. A gorgeous wood and glass centre right on the ocean. Where the whales come in. And they did that evening, chasing the capelin that are running. Cavorting in the waves by the shore.

This was the festival's Irish night and Irish stew was served. A dinner and show format. The place was packed and there was a waiting list. I would like to take the credit as the 'star' of the event but this would not be completely accurate. The food and the shockingly reasonable ticket price were a huge factor. Plus this year - in spite of gas prices and air fare prices - has been a record year for tourism in Newfoundland.

There was a large contingent of tourists from California waiting patiently in the parking lot for admission. We managed to save them some food and put tables out in the lobby for them to eat and then squashed them into the main room for the 'show'.

Packed to the rafters would be a fairly accurate description of the audience.
Maybe it is my advancing years, and more self-acceptance, but I wasn't nervous at all. Excited yes. Honoured yes. And totally delighted at being asked.

I spoke for about ten minutes on how I found Newfoundland five years ago (or more accurately how Newfoundland found me!) and then read my story, which took approximately twenty five minutes, dramatized for this purpose. I have posted it, along with stage directions to myself on the "Off the Rock" writing section of my blog for anyone interested in reading it.

A couple of friends from Toronto were kind enough to film the whole thing for posterity and will provide me with a DVD when they get back home in August.
In my experience, however, every event has it's unplanned sideswipe.

The evening was warm and the windows were all open and I could feel my skirt, a very light cotton, floating around my legs in the lovely ozone laden breeze. A not unpleasant feeling. About half way through my reading I had the odd sensation that the skirt was sliding down my behind but when I slipped a discreet hand back there all appeared to be well.

Oh, poor deluded me! Imagine my horror when the whole floaty skirt settled around my ankles in front of 200 people. I had the flash: you have to make a joke of this, you just have to. So I did. I hauled up the offending garment, resettled it around my waist and asked the audience if anyone would like me to remove my top also. There was a stomp of applause and roars of laughter. I then said my mother always told me to wear nice underwear in case of an accident and I did and I wanted to show you all publicly, thanks Mum.

Then I went back to my story. Just goes to show you, no matter how well planned anything is, the most unexpected disaster can occur.

The audience were wonderful. The Californians particularly went out of their way to get my email and address so they could purchase my book when it is finally edited and out there.

Then the accordions and guitars arrived and we all went on to dance and sing the night away.

At the end of the night everyone gathered in a huge circle and held hands and we all sang this tail of the evening number which often ends parties and festivals in Newfoundland:

Music And Friends

I've done a lot of living and I've found
No matter where you go the whole world round
They always go together hand in hand
Where there's one there'll be the other music and friends

When blue skies turn to grey and hide the sun
When tired hands their daily work has done
Nothing seems to turn things round again
And make the whole world right like music and friends

Music and friends it's so good to bring together music and friends
Side by side no one can break them
when we take the time to make them
Nothing else can take the place of music and friends

Music and friends it's so good to bring together music and friends
Side by side no one can break them
When we take the time to make them
When there's one there'll be the other music and friends

Nothing makes the whole world right like music and friends

All in all a wonderful, positive experience. One I will never forget. For many reasons!

PS And I thank Laura for my latest Braggadocia award, see it on sidebar.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Food, Unglorious Food Part 4 - FINAL

Until I finally surrendered to the fact I was a food addict, there was no way out. I had struggled far too long, hoping at the end of each diet that I would then be normal. I could then get control of this never ending hunger and be able to mete out my treats, become a salad lover and run 5 miles a day. A magical new person on the outside.

I forgot or chose not to think about the inner me. The one who needed to change. I had been far too busy in changing the outer me, every single time.
Remind me. What was the definition of insanity again?

And I also knew I could not do it alone. Oh yes, everything was great for a while, charts on the wall marking the progress, calories eaten calories expended, measurements of right thigh, etc. Numbers. Meaningless numbers. That always brought me back, eventually, to the same person who needed to embark yet again, on the latest diet. What on earth would be a permanent way?

I had to let go of all the numbers. I was not a weight on a scale, or a dress size. I had a wardrobe of clothes that went from size 9 all the way to 24. Every morning I opened that closet and was reminded of what a failure I was. So everything that didn't fit me got thrown out and donated. Eight bags. I wept, but I threw. I was left with only clothes that fitted. And the most important thing of all. Underwear that fitted.

An aside

I've conducted self-esteem workshops on weekends with women and always ask the question, "Who's wearing lovely well-fitting underwear?". Inevitably, the answer is 3 or 4 out of 10. Only 35% of women honour themselves with nice underwear. Think about it!

I also had to recognise that the weight was only a symptom of underlying emotional issues. And believe it. And work on it.

I also had to really imagine how a person of my height would eat and behave, consistently if she was within the correct range of weight for her height. How would she eat, what would she eat, what kind of exercise would she partake in?

I then had to define a method of eating which would work for me. What particular foods seemed to trigger me? I was surprised when I wrote the trigger foods down:
Any kind of soft drink whether diet or not, cookies, cake, icecream, pastries, candies, popcorn.

I recognised that, for me, I could never use food as a reward, I could never take even a bite or sip of any of the above substances as I never knew what kind of binge would be set off. I had to be clear about my food intake. Weighing and measuring was not for me. But I learned from what others did. They had 3 moderate meals a day, no seconds, no snacks, and the meal had to fit on one plate, no piling.

I wanted to be relaxed around food and to do this I had to have clear boundaries. Breaking those boundaries would set me off again. I had to make exercise part of every day. I had to go to bed on time and get up on time. I knew I was not a gym person, though Maude knows, I tried. Walking or jogging does it for me. Gentle. I turned the old Nike ad on its head and said my motto is "Doing it. Just".

I needed to monitor my emotions meticulously as building up any kind of anger or resentment resulted in trying to stuff those feelings down. I needed to talk to others who understood, who were travelling the same path as I was. And I found them.
And the compulsion was lifted. And the food is peaceful now, way in the background of my life. Beyond anything I had ever hoped for.

I wear the world like a loose garment. I don't weigh anything including myself. I don't measure my journey in tape measures or scales or calorie counters. And I am living my dreams. Really and truly.

And if you're interested in more specifics on what I have done to bring me to this space and having this magical freedom from the food that enslaved me:
You can email me directly at: wisewebwomanathotmaildotcom and I will gladly answer any questions.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Working Day in the Village

I live in a working fishing village and sometimes get distracted from its core business which is so important to all living here, by the sunsets, the flowers, the birds, the incredible blue of the skies and the seas and the ever changing seascapes tugged by the tides and powered by the moon.

Today I took some shots of the ordinary workday of the village itself which at the moment is processing shrimp with the odd boatload of crab and fresh scallops for sale to the locals.

Above is the harbour with the fishing vessels and the fish plant in the background and, yep, the Wonder Dog hogging the foreground. Click on photo to enlarge and see old wooden pilings, etc.

Below is a close-up shot of the old-fashioned homemade wooden lobster pots still used by the fishers in the area with their bright yellow and white floats and concrete bottoms.

And the working me? Well, I've been asked to adapt one of my short stories for a dramatic reading at a festival next week. I've been allotted 45 minutes (gulp!) but more on that later. Back to work with me after this brief intermission.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food, unglorious food...Part 3

A Life Deferred

Definition of insanity:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The thing is with most people who are not cookie cutter normal in the weight department and recognise that their food consumption is out of control - their lives become unlived. Everything is put on hold until that magical mythological day comes when, tar-rah, like Oprah in her size 7 jeans, life opens up afresh, life truly begins. All invitations now accepted, all courses now taken, all dreams now realized. Right.....

The problem is, of course, that it is that same person, the one who couldn’t look at herself in the mirror without grimacing, who occupies this now acceptable body. All the emotions, the feelings, the undealtwith baggage, are all still lurking inside ready to declare themselves at the first opportunity. And when they do, well, those niggling little voices have to be squelched real quick. And what better way than with a slice of cheesecake, or two or three. We can always go back to the diet tomorrow. But the monster has only re-awoken and the monster needs to be fed. Constantly. So the cycle starts all over again.

Obsession with numbers is also part of being an honest to goodness food addict. Calories consumed, calories expended. Daily, hourly weigh-ins, dress sizes, different scales, charts with graphs and goals on the wall monitoring the whole process. Tape measures applied here, there and yon. Total inches lost. Is that muscle? Maybe this could be a water gain. Yeah, that’s it, I should be on water pills. I retain too much water. Or back to Atkins and a steak for breakfast. Protein here we come.

There is no life being lived in any of it. Just a constant nerve-wracking state of anxiety, clothes that don’t fit properly, or clothes that do that look awful. Preplanning every excursion to the nth degree as walking anywhere can generate a sweat crisis or worse yet the need for a breathing break. Surveying restaurants so that getting stuck in a booth is not a possibility. Eating minimally and healthfully in front of friends and relatives with the thought of the private bags of food-swag stashed at home for later. As a reward for good behaviour. Pretending there is a glandular or metabolic issue with the body.

And then losing the weight all over again by sheer dint of will power. Don’t say that food addicts don’t have will power. They have it in spades.

The problem is with the weight off, there is nothing to replace all the food that kept those demons and monsters within nicely sedated.

And there’s the crux of the problem right there.

To be continued

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Food, unglorious food...Part 2

Addiction: the best definition I’ve seen is:

An irresistible compulsion to commit an irrational act.

On the ladder of addiction, each step upwards has an addiction listed, rising in the order of the difficulty of quitting. I saw an illustration one time of this but at the moment I can’t locate it.
The lower rungs were street drugs in their variants.
Next were the highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs, the percocets, the bennies, the oxycontins, etc.
Then there was alcohol in all its forms.
Up another rung to nicotine.
And the highest rung of all was food. The most difficult addiction of all to quit.
With all other substances, one can quit cold turkey as I have, or go to rehab, or a treatment centre or find a support group, turn one’s back on the addiction and not have to deal with it again, except with a ‘no thank you’ or an ‘I’m outta here’ if the going gets rough.
With food, of course, one is faced with decisions around ingesting this particular drug of choice three times a day. Moreover, food is served at nearly all social gatherings and calling relentlessly while in the car driving by the winking signs of convenience stores and fast food joints.
While the bombardment of food advertisements and promotions assault from one side, the other side has the fabulous bodies of models swanning about in magazines and television without an excess ounce of fat on them to taunt and tease.
It all can feel so bloody hopeless.
And knowing all the time that there is less than a 5% (some say even less than that) success ratio in Weight Watchers, in Jenny Craig, in all of the so-called Diet Clubs. They refuse to divulge their statistics as they are so dismal. They are in it for the money, of course - all made on the sad backs of the most wretched and hopeless. It is all about the numbers, the weight, the measurements, the calories in, the calories out, the cash leaving your pocket and hopping into theirs, and can we sell you some food while we’re at it? Weight Watchers is owned by the Heinz Corporation, an agri-business, pimping frankenfoods of all kinds.
I’ve tried it all of course. And had the dizzying ‘successes’ for a while. Even down to seeing a medical obesity specialist who subsisted me on a protein drink taken 3 times a day and a shot (horse urine, I believe) in my bum every day from his nurse. Tough going, but I graduated in 6 weeks with a 42lb weight loss and a size 9 dress. Of course in 6 months it was all packed on again and then some. Much to my bafflement. Meanwhile, I tried to find Dr. H., the magic diet doctor once more but he had run out of town to California with at least two deaths to his credit and was a person of interest to the local police department. I should add that even knowing this, I would have gone back to him. Rather a skinny corpse in a casket than a fat one any day.
So I had to move back to bennies which had me cleaning floors at midnight but never eating, losing the entire weight gain but also my mind from lack of sleep.
I’m not much into surgery, the gastric bands, the balloon, the shortening of the bowel, but I seriously considered them all. All stop gap measures as I know now, none dealing with the real underlying issues.
I was bounding from one diet to another, gobbling up the weight loss books, the magazines, the tapes, Richard Simmons, et al. One particular favourite, Woman’s World, always features a picture on the cover of a ‘weight loss winner’ holding her old size 54 jeans wrapped twice around her, while inside has the recipes for 10,000 calorie desserts. Yum and barf.
Every morning for years and years and years I woke up thinking today is the day I take charge, today I will fast, eat 300 calories and lose 50lbs by the end of September (or for the wedding, or for the trip).
Every night I went to bed thinking what a loser, what a pig. You just couldn’t do it, could you, eating 4 plates at that buffet and then getting the munchies later. It is obscene what you eat. If only people knew.
An intelligent person like me defeated by a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, a birthday cake?
I couldn’t make sense of it: I had let go of my bennies, my alcohol and my nicotine. Why in the name of all that was holy, could I not let go of food?

To be continued.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Why do dogs live so short a time?

I couldn't resist posting this lovely piece for dog lovers everywhere:

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish
Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their
little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they
were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we
couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia
procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be
good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though
Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family
surrounded him.
Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I
wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker
slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty
or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering
aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are Shorter than human
lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, 'I know why.'
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned
me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.
He said, 'People are born so that they can learn how to live a good Life
-- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?' The
Six-year-old continued, 'Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they
don't have to stay as long.'
Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them

And oh, don't I wish I was the kind of person my dog (above) thinks I am!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Food, unglorious food...Part 1

Recently, I’ve been tripping over bloggers, posts and comments which have been circling around body image: fat and weight and appearance and self-esteem and dieting and restricting (both male and female writers, I should add) and I thought to put my two cents out there having had this compulsion since just about toddler-hood.

Yes, I mean I’ve struggled with food issues all my life. Ever since I was four. Four was the age when I hid food for the first time. A half-eaten Fry’s Cream bar I put under my pillow. My brother was only a baby, too young to steal it, so it wasn’t about that. I was just afraid my parents might take it away from me. I still remember looking at the remains of the bar and wondering where a safe space might be. I knew the powerful sedative effect of chocolate even then. What is remarkable is that I needed this anaesthetic in my life at the age of four.

Through the years I’ve manifested all the facets of this food addiction. I’ve undereaten and overeaten, one year could see me one hundred pounds heavier than the year before, next year I would be one hundred pounds lighter. This yo-yoing has taken a huge toll on my body. Not to mention on my emotions and my self-esteem.

Food was an issue in my family and often treated as an enemy. My mother, who even after six children looked beautiful, was always ‘reducing’. If she gained a pound she would refer to it as the ‘agony’ and work very hard to lose it and be triumphant when she did. She always did.

My father yo-yo’d all his life, punishing himself periodically (usually in the spring) by walking grimly for miles and miles every day to lose the forty or fifty pounds he had packed on in the winter months while subsisting on a meagre bread allotment until it was gone. Excess weight to him was something to be despised and demeaned on anyone. His standard phrase on spying an overweight person was: “there, s/he goes, digging his grave with his teeth.”

When I was thirteen, my grandmother said to me that when she married at sixteen, her waist matched her age and that’s the way it should be until you were thirty and that was the reward, you could have a thirty-inch waist then for the rest of your life. I attempted to model myself on these matriarchal pearls of wisdom.

At sixteen I made sure I had a very tiny waist. It got a lot of attention from my family. Aunts and grandmothers were very proud of my accomplishment. I managed this by restricting food intake for the first time. I was quite tall for my time and more rounded than skinny in body build so this was a huge accomplishment.

Back then, I can never, ever remember accepting my body the way it was. I never remember liking my body. For instance, I always felt embarrassed about my bust and for years would wear this elastic contraption to flatten it. I did not want any form of sexual attention.

When I was twenty I was pushed very reluctantly into this beauty contest in Italy and I came second. It was only years and years later in looking at the photos of the event that I realized how really lovely I was. And I cried. I had no concept of that at the time. I had figured they were sorry for the Irish girl, the ragazza irlandese. I had paraded in this gorgeous dress thinking self-consciously that my stomach was too big. It wasn’t of course.

All the fat was in my head.

And that is the thing about food addiction and body perception. It has nothing to do with having food, not having food, not exercising, over-exercising, anorexia, bulimia, binging, gorging, purging, fasting. It is about the emotions, the obsession with the body.

There is the old saying for foodies: “it’s not about what you’re consuming, it’s what’s consuming you.”

And determining this was a journey unto itself. And to myself.

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Short, Short, Short, Short Story

I was tagged by Pants to write a story in six words a la Hemingway, who beautifully and succintly invented the model with this:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Mine is:

Shopping List: Whiskey. Plastic Bag. String.

I am tagging


with this one!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Oh Canada!


I love my country of choice. I am so proud to be a Canadian.

Over the years I’ve taken the time to prowl around her, into all her provinces that make her what she is.

I’ve been from Cape Breton to Vancouver Island. From Thunder Bay to Bonavista.

I am awed by her beauty, dumbfounded by the sheer magnitude of the cathedrals in the villages of the Gaspé Peninsula. Enchanted with the Britishness of Victoria, the Scottishness of Cape Breton, the Irishness of Newfoundland, the Frenchness of Québec, the Polishness of Northern Ontario, the Ukraineness of Manitoba. It strikes me I would never have to leave here in order to experience the world.

I came here on one of the last ocean liners to leave Cobh in Co. Cork. We left on January 8th, 1967, my husband, our unborn baby and me, with trunks of our settler’s effects, my folk guitar and $210.00. All our worldly goods rocking, along with us, across the turbulent Atlantic winter ocean.

Our fare was paid by the Canadian government along with our first month’s rent for an apartment. Looking back, we were so young, frighteningly young. But full of hope, full of dreams, full of a life that could not happen in the Ireland that was then, pre-Celtic tiger.

And it all happened for us, for me, that emigrant dream.

A career, a home, advantages for my children, a long series of pets, travel, access to a rich cultural life, ongoing dreams that could be sustained and nurtured and realized. I’ve met and made friends with people born in all corners of the globe: Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Palestinians, Australians, New Zealanders, Iraqis, Afghanis, Jamaicans, Somalis and Ismailis and we all share one passion that seems to be missing from the native-borns here. To wit: we absolutely adore Canada:

Its freedom from bias, from prejudice, from religiosity and from misogyny. Its Charter of Rights, its universal health care, its access to education for all, its absence of guns, its honouring of ethnic diversity and gender diversity, its writers, musicians and artists. The overall unbroadcasted happiness and satisfaction of its citizens, its caring for the poorest and most downtrodden of us, and its unfailing generosity and innate courtesy and politeness.

We do not sing large and loud here of what we have. No propaganda is necessary. It is a private committed love, held safe in our hearts:

Oh Canada, our true north strong and free,
Oh Canada, we stand on guard for thee!