Friday, October 2, 2015


When it comes to art making, I've never been partial to landscapes. I enjoy viewing works of art that feature landscapes, but it's never been my thing! The Group of Seven depicted the ruggedness and colour of the Canadian landscape because they felt connected to it. I've just never felt that way about a "place" ..... until now!

I have finally realized that I am in love with The Bay of Fundy. It was not "love at first sight". It's more like a romance that has developed over the years. After all, I have seen the Swiss Alps, the Himalayas, the Greek Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam .... and they are all really nice. But (in my opinion) they don't compare to the Fundy shore!

For the last 21 years (minus two when I was overseas) I have ventured to Fundy National Park to "hike" with a group of friends. Every fall when we drive through the park and first catch sight of the magnificent visa of the Bay, I feel like I have "arrived" and all is well!

Whether I am in the "Park", Grand Manan, the Fundy Trail, or St. Martins, the feeling is the same. I am in awe of its beauty and bask in the uncrowded beaches and trails that provide a time to reflect and recharge!

The fondness I have with this corner of the world is due, to a great degree, with the yearly trek that I make with friends there and the good times that we have, free from the worries and responsibilities of the home front (if only for a few days). What great therapy it is to stroll along the ocean floor when the tide is out looking for little treasures, or to wander through a wooded trail chatting and catching up with each other's news.

me and Diane on the ocean floor!

the beach in front of our cabin

Our cosey cabin perched on a cliff offers us constant ocean views in the day and the sound of waves crashing as we drift off to sleep at night. It is also the scene of laughs, relaxation, tasty treats and, of course, lots of wine!

Our little "cabin on the bay" is not without its "mod cons" like satellite TV and a dish washer. This year we enjoyed watching CBC's "Quietest Concert Ever" featuring Serena Ryder at Herring Cove (one of our favorite places in the park!). Check it out on You Tube (link below).

The Quietest Concert Ever!
Watch the beginning of this video to see more great vistas and enjoy some great music!

okay ... this is beer, but you get the idea!

Cathy and Diane on the front deck solving world problems!

Sherry, Cathy, Nancy, me, Wanda, Diane (a few years back)

Sunglasses, jackets and whale bone!
Here's to many more Fundy adventures with great company!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spinsters Abroad

Spinsters Abroad  .....

You may think that I am about to tell you about my trip to Spain with two other women, but that would not be the case. The other day I noticed this interesting title at the local library and decided to check it out. It's not a "good read" in a page turner kind of way, but the details are fascinating!

Dea Birkett's book, Spinsters Abroad, Victorian Lady Explorers outlines and examines the journeys of several women in the Victorian era who traveled on their own to far away places where western visitors were a rarity. At first I thought that the tales would merely be about adventurous women traveling to exotic places, and, that was true. However, the really interesting part was their motivation for traveling and the satisfaction they got from living abroad. 

As spinsters (unmarried women) in Victorian England, their lot in life was to look after sick parents or be companions to aging relatives. Without a husband, they had little authority, freedom, or money of their own. No wonder they "bolted" when their loving parents passed on, especially if they were left with an inheritance! One poor woman, after caring for her ailing father, who became mad in his old age and left her penniless by giving her inheritance to an orphanage, had to contest the will. She immediately celebrated her win by sailing to Bombay!

I can certainly understand their desire to escape the restrictiveness of Victorian society. But, what fascinates me is that they remained in foreign, remote places for extended periods of time and felt quite comfortable and happy there. So ..... here's the the thing. European imperialism was spreading throughout the world and these women were respected (or perhaps feared )because they were European. Oddly enough they were at times able to travel more safely because, as women, the "locals" did not worry that they were going to bring war or begin exploiting their resources. 

They may not have exploited resources but they did exploit the locals. For these women explorers, "setting up camp" meant having others do it for them, and climbing to a high summit mean that they were carried there! In other words, these spinster travelers who were exploited at home, were now exploiting others. They finally had some control of their own ,,, pretty hard to give all that power up and head back to "dullsville" in England! 

I would certainly not recommend this book as a "riveting" read, but it was definitely insightful and a great glimpse into the lives of women in Victorian Society!

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Hate the "Happy Song"!

I Hate the "Happy Song"!

(This one's for you Cathy .... cause I know you will agree!)

I must preface this blog post by saying that I have made a private promise to myself to replace all negative thoughts with positive ones and to aspire to be as  non-judgmental as possible. Life's short, so focus on the positive, or at least try! However, I must make an exception when it comes to the "Happy Song".

I'm a big CBC radio fan. I listen to both Radio 1 (for information and interesting stories, book reviews etc.) and Radio 2 (for great music from a wide variety of genres ... from bluegrass to classical!) I love waking up to our local Information Morning show and "gently" hearing interesting stories and news.
However, for several months now, they had the great idea that they would play requests for a "happy song". People have been sending in the titles of a song that makes THEM feel happy .... they don't necessarily make ME feel happy. In fact most of them grate on my nerves and if I was a cat I'm sure that my fur would be sticking straight up! Lately they've started playing requests for songs that were popular during the year that someone was born in as a birthday greeting. I mean really .... does everyone want to hear that? 
Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum may be my guilty pleasure, but does EVERYONE want to hear it? Especially when your just opening your peepers. 

CBC I love you but the the "Happy Song" has got to go!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Salsa Time!

What do you do when presented with a bag of tomatoes from someone's garden? Make salsa of course!
 I was volunteering at a local food bank when it was discovered that there were no takers for a bag of fresh tomatoes, left by a local gardener. Since none of the other volunteers wanted them, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do something I've always wanted to do .... make salsa.

Chop till you drop!

I found a basic recipe in a canning book that we had, made a quick run to the grocery store to get a few more ingredients and some jars, and then began chopping. Hubby pitched in to help and pointed out that the food processor might be just the ticket for chopping the tomatoes and he was right! All in all we got it done and I was pleased with the result. However, next time I will add more jalapenos than the recipe called for (I like some heat) and wait until the end to add the cilantro. I would also double the cilantro since it is one of my favorite flavors!

Canadian Living Recipe Next Time!

I found a great Canadian Living recipe that I will use next time. It includes a variety of peppers as well as cider vinegar, sugar, garlic and lots of jalapenos and cilantro. The link below features a good video .... great for visual learners like me!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Beautiful Wedding!

Within the vintage architecture of a country church this lovely couple was married on August 22nd, 2015. My son Joel and his wife, Alicia said their vows before about 150 family and friends, accompanied by their devoted attendants. Below is a photo of them at the rehearsal dinner happily anticipating the big day!

Preparations for the reception began days before as vintage china and antique wooden chairs were assembled for the dinner.

The dinner plates at the head table were the groom's grandmother's!

The location offered a spectacular view of the Bay of Fundy and there was lots of space for outdoor fun and "merriment" after the ceremony!

These two sweeties anxiously waited for their moment to walk down the aisle. 

At last! The happy couple exiting the church.

Time for photos! Outside the church Thaddeus Holownia, teacher of photography at Mount Allison University, takes a large group photo of everyone at the wedding using an old fashioned camera (I'm sure there is a special name for it). Can't wait to see the final product!

Let the fun begin!

While the newly weds had photos done, the guests entertained themselves with lawn games, popsicles for the youngsters, and some delicious appetizers and refreshments for everyone. 

So nice to have friends and family to share this happy day!

My good friends (the Fundy girls minus two), Cathy Wareham, yours truly, Diane Ridley, Nancy Splane)

Ross and his buddies "The Dannies" Dan Wareham and Dan Splane

Ross's brother Nelson and his wife Marianne

Ross's brother Jim and his wife Linda

Ross's sister Phyllis and her friend Louis

The couple's first dance to "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" by Elvis!

More Photo Ops! 

While family photos were taken by the photographer after the wedding, we caught a few more later in the evening. Too bad my poor little smart phone doesn't take a better photo in the dark!

Ross, Joel, Candice, Scott, me

A Day to Be Recorded With Both Images and Words!

My wrist corsage made by Alicia!

Weddings these days always seem to be more about the photos than anything else. With almost everyone carrying a cell phone/camera and the ability to instantly share pictures on Instagram, Facebook etc., every detail of an event can recorded by images and video. However, there is a lot to be said for the written word. The atmosphere, vibe and specifics of an occasion such as a wedding deserve equal attention with words.

Below is a newspaper clipping of my parents and my aunt's weddings (held on the same day in May 1934). I marvel at the written description of the flowers, fabrics and music. (What the heck is a "swagger suit"?) I also love the detail about the "motor car trip" and the couple "taking up residence in their summer home on Lake Nipissing" ..... sounds like something out of the Great Gatsby! 

My Dad, Mother, aunt Greet (Gretta), Uncle Ray

I wish I had the eloquence to create a written description of Joel and Alicia's wedding. There was so much more to it than the mere images! I wouldn't even have the vocabulary to point out the unique flowers and plants in the bouquets and decor, the vintage fabric in the wedding gown and bridesmaids' dresses, the antique patterns on the dishes and the variety of delicious food, lovingly prepared by family and friends. 

Here's a thought ...... as well as a photographer, couples should engage a writer to eloquently describe the day!

A unique plant that appeared at our table at the rehearsal dinner. This delicate plant also appeared in the wedding flowers and bouquets that Alicia designed and created herself!

Congratulations Joel and Alicia!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Time to do Some Serious Research

Last evening my "partner in crime" and I got all geared up for a BIG walk (training for the Camino de Santiago). There had been showers, but they passed and the sky looked clear. We brought umbrellas just in case. About ten or fifteen minutes on to the trail it started to rain. Nothing too serious at first. Besides, we thought, when we are on the "Camino" there will be rainy days so we may as well get used to it. However, the light rain soon became a torrential downpour and up went our umbrellas. Thank goodness, because that rain turned into hail and there was no immediate shelter to run to. If it wasn't for the umbrellas shielding us from the pellets of ice we might have ended up looking like we were targets for a BB gun! (or at least felt like it) 

So our big walk was cut short since we were soaked. My hiking boots were not only wet but filled with water like a couple of sinking boats! I think they will take at least a whole day in in the sun to dry out (certainly longer if it's cloudy). The experience did zero for our fitness level, but inspired us to do some serious thinking about what to bring on our "pilgrimage" especially what to wear on our feet!

My wet duds ... a sad sight.

From what I have gleaned so far, footwear is the most important consideration when doing the Camino. There are a variety of opinions on what is best .... hiking boots? trail shoes? hiking sandals? On the link below, they recommend taking two pair so that you can change periodically, allowing the other pair to dry out thoroughly (from sweat as well as water). Since we will encounter a variety of terrains, hikers may be good at times and a lighter weight option for gentler surfaces. A good pair of flip flops is a must as well for wearing around the "auberges" (especially in the showers) and to give your feet a well deserved bit of freedom! The site below "Travel Past 50" has some great info.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Power of Images

National Geographic was a staple in our home when I was a teenager. At that age I knew the lyrics of all the songs on the radio much better than my school work and I spent hours in front of the mirror putting on makeup and teasing my hair. So as you might expect, actually "reading" an article about some endangered species in the jungles of Cambodia or cultural traditions in Peru was highly unlikely. The images, however, had my full attention. Exotic looking women in traditional dress, the grandiose architecture of European cities and the mysterious photos of narrow streets in a Turkish bazaar captivated me! Travelling to those places seemed like a remote possibility, but those images planted a seed and that remote possibility eventually became a reality.

Here I am with an actual "Long Neck" woman in Thailand. These women are refugees from Myanmar (Burma).

So, for me, images are very inspiring! While, I still get the travel bug when I see pictures of exotic places, I may have to be content with Pinterest to inspire me to embark on new experiences closer to home. Perfecting a new recipe or transforming a piece of furniture with a coat of paint can be an adventure! Can't it??