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Thursday 31 July 2014


One of my favourite words in the Newfoundland dictiomary is wonderful. It is used in the traditional sense but its usage is beyond the usual English vernacular.

So you can be

        wonderful happy,

       wonderful sad,

         wonderful tired,

         wonderful dirty,

and so it goes.

Wonderful is never suffixed with an 'ly' either, so you'd never hear, " She's wonderfully happy."

It would be, "She's wonderful happy."

In the Newfoundland vernacular wonderful is so powerful, it doesn't need any extensions. Isn't that wonderful grand?

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Air Conditioning in Eastern Canada

It has been incredibly hot (for eastern Canada), temperatures in the high twenties with humidity. Overnight it hasn't cooled off too much. We purchased a house that was built before the exterior heating pumps were in widespread usage here, so this house isn't air conditioned. It gets hot.

One of the benefits of living in eastern Canada, however, is the breeze verging on gale that we get most of the year. It's the kind of wind that brings the sleet, snow or rain sideways towards you, pops umbrellas, blows off hats and hoods and makes runners of the previously uninitiated, trying to retrieve their head gear. Depending on the gusts, it can make short work of garbage and compost bins, and anything else that isn't protected somehow, or nailed down.

      East Coast Breeze

During the depth of the heat this past week, the wind was blowing from the west at thirty plus kilometers an hour. This makes for a lovely cross-draft when the windows are open at the front and back of the house. Natural air conditioning, cheap and environmentally friendly! We're very lucky!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Garden Progress

The garden box has filled up nicely with luscious plants again this summer. It is one of the great pleasures of summer watching the plants grow. Every day there is something new to see and work to do.

The fruit is forming on some of the plants


         Hot Pepper

as others are in bloom.

                  Flowering Squash

This is what happened in less than a month.

This was the garden box on June 25.

Then on July 3, it had progressed to this stage.

This was the garden box on July 17.

In spite of the remnants of hurricane Arthur and the loss of some plants which I replaced, that two weeks, from July 3-17, with the heat, sun, and rain were incredible for plant growth.

Deliciousness awaits.

Thursday 24 July 2014

And... They're Off

They are beautiful creatures, these horses. Various sizes, impeccably groomed and harnessed, they pace or trot around the track in Summerside, harness racing. It's impossible not to be impressed with their grace and precision of step, as the training kicks in and their stories with their drivers reach a climax.

We are at the Red Shores race track in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, for our yearly visit to see the synchronicity of horse and driver. Harness racing is still popular on Prince Edward Island. It has a long history here, not surprising due to the agricultural history of this island.

While the island isn't very big, there are many unpaved roads throughout the countryside, even today. There are still vast stretches of land between farms in rural Prince Edward Island. One can imagine what it must have been like one hundred and fifty years ago. People raced horses against their neighbours as a diversion or sport. Then as areas became more populated, the racing was confined to special tracks. In the 1880s there were dozens of racing tracks on the island. Today there are two.

The track in Summerside is surprisingly busy tonight as we stand by the rail initially, then head to the stands, as the breeze makes sitting outside in the heat more bearable. There is a racing culture here involving rules for the race, the maintenance of the track, the warm-up, the call to the post, the announcer's voice, dramatic and enthusiastic.The people include owners and enthusiasts alike and betting on your favourite is the order of the day. We saved our toonies, two dollar coins, for this occasion.

We are not gamblers. In fact, we find it almost painful to lose money on a bet. However, once a year we bring toonies to the track and place our two dollar bets on the horses. For us, the program guide is the "horse's mouth" for advice on whom to bet. Or, as I like to do sometimes, bet on the most unusual name or the one with the greatest odds.Tonight we broke even which is always the goal, of course, if you don't have a big win. Rick bet six dollars, won $5.90 on a race and picked up a dime on his way home.

Until next year...


Tuesday 22 July 2014

Cod Tongues

The food fishery started in Newfoundland this week. There are stories of large fish this year and fishers delighted with fish for the freezer to enjoy for the rest of the year.

When codfish were plentiful, Newfoundlanders didn't take the the bounty of the sea for granted however. They used as many parts of the fish as they could. Besides the fillets, the cheeks, britches (roe), chitterlings (milt), heads and tongues were all used for food. Livers were a source of cod liver oil.

        Melvin Smith, Shirley and Newman

A cod tongue, actually a small muscle from the neck of the fish, is really considered a treat. The tongues are meaty morsels, the size of which depends on the size of the fish. Besides the meaty bit, there is also a jellied part as well. Some people cut off the jellied bit but most people leave it on the tongue.

               Lunch aboard Newman's boat

The cod tongues can be baked, or fried and a few rare people, like my father, like them poached. The most common way to cook them, however, is fried in fat pork. You fry out salt pork, then the tongues, lightly seasoned and floured, are fried in the fat. It is a unique dish and not as common today because of the unavailability of fresh whole cod, except for the fish caught during the short food fishery every year.

 Sylvia, Melvin with bucket of tongues

When Melvin and Sylvia fished with their friends Newman and Shirley at Robinson's on the west coast of Newfoundland, they always cut out the cod tongues, an important part of the catch. They loved the tongues, as evidenced by the looks on their faces leaning over that bucket. Each of them looked forward to those meals all winter long.


              Sylvia, Newman and Shirley

Today is Newman's birthday. Have a great day, Newman. Hope it's your best birthday ever. Enjoy! 

Sunday 20 July 2014


Melvin Smith, my father-in-law, was a gregarious person. The second oldest of seven children, he was accustomed to lots of people around with his siblings and their friends. He loved a crowd, happiest when he was in a group of people. After he retired, if Melvin and Sylvia had a few nights home alone, he wanted to play bridge, visit friends or have people into their home.

                  Carl and Jean Mercer

Melvin and Sylvia had a group of friends who they socialized with for years. Each of the women regularly cooked for the rest of the group. There were often eighteen for supper when your turn came around. Usually they played cards afterwards.

        Bill Martin, Melvin Smith, Jane Martin

The Smiths also bowled, attended Church and Melvin was a member of the Masonic Lodge for more than fifty years. Syvia was part of the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Masonic Lodge. The result was a very active social life which Melvin and Sylvia both loved. 

               Max and Emily Mullett 

Sylvia's brother Carl and his wife, Jean, were part of this large group of friends as well. Besides the Mercers, there were the Gregorys, Bartletts, Prettys, Martins, Mulletts, Leggs, Kings.

  Clyde, Shirley King, Melvin, Sylvia, Arch and Mary Legge

Over the last number of years, several members of the group died, some are in hospital or moved away after the death of the spouse. Then Melvin died and Sylvia moved to Prince Edward Island. Losing Melvin was difficult enough but she lost her friends too.

     Olga Pretty, Classie Mercer, Cliff Pretty

However, on the day she moved into her garden apartment in Prince Edward Island, a neighbour introduced herself to Sylvia and that was the start of new friendships here. Friends, whether old or new, can help you through some of your most difficult times. One of the great treasures in life is the company of a true friend.

      John Gregory, Melvin Smith, Lola Gregory

Note:  The Prettys mentioned in this post are distant cousins of my family. We are descended from the same Samuel and Elizabeth Pretty of Dildo, Newfoundland, and their children born around 1800, but we don't know from which of the children they come. My family comes from Joseph and Catherine.

     Ross, Joan Bartlett, Sylvia, Melvin Smith

Happy birthday, Joan. You are a woman of incredible spirit, strength, determination, love and friendship. We hope you have the best birthday ever.

Thursday 17 July 2014


We are dog-sitting for a few weeks while our daughter and her family are on vacation. Georgie is one of the family, an integral part of our family life when she's here. Georgie changes the routine and makes life more interesting.

        Here I come

Have you ever noticed how a dog knows every other dog in the neighborhood? We are acutely aware of the numerous dogs in the neighborhood now that Georgie's around. While that awareness often involves barking and tugging, it also has expanded our cross-species friendships.

                 I'm not barking

Then there's the exercise that comes with the walking of such a big dog though we question sometimes who is walking whom? Indeed, the bending to clean up after her is healthy as well. Eliminating her eliminations is recommended before the mower finds the deposits.

                          Let me in

Let the dog out, let the dog in. Repeat. This keeps us from spending too much time on the couch. This is always good.

                 Waiting to go for a walk
The daily vacuuming that Rick has taken up makes for a cleaner house, even though it wouldn't need as much cleaning if she wasn't here. Besides, the sweating from the vacuuming isn't a bad thing if you keep hydrated.

          That's the spot. You got it.

At night, when Rick gets up to go to the bathroom, Georgie, supposedly asleep on her bed, quickly takes his place. It's similar to the way that people fill in places in the audience at award shows when the actors are out of their seats. Georgie fills-in momentarily. Thank you Georgie.

                     It's too hot to walk

The daily brushing and ear cleaning fit into our regular routine now as well. The latest addition to the grooming, teeth brushing, has been an interesting undertaking as Georgie seems to enjoy the attention but tries to eat the toothbrush. Her delicate palate appears to like the toothpaste.

         Yummy toothpaste

Finally, Georgie helps clean out the freezer because she eats the meat off all the T-Bones we've saved for her so that we can finally throw out those bones. The accumulated near-empty peanut butter jars have also been disappearing. More cupboard space is always good.

Having a dog in the family is all about how you look at it!

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Belmont Park, PEI

This lovely little day use park is on Route 123, about a fifteen minute drive from Summerside. Along the way you pass fields of cows, horses and sheep; occasionally a tractor cutting grass or fields lined with bales of hay. It's a drive through a pastoral setting. We decided to take a picnic again and with Georgie, the granddog, Rick, and his mother, Sylvia, we headed out to Belmont Park. It was mid-week, a lovely, windy day but hot. Thank goodness for the wind because it kept the mosquitoes at bay after we used some insect repellent.


The park is along a stretch of sand on the western side of Malpeque Bay. It has an open field with picnic tables as well as some table areas among the tall trees, (with fire pits), which line the perimeter of the grassy area. There are bathrooms with hot and cold running water, showers and electricity as well. It's very clean. There is a playground for children which our grandchildren would enjoy as well.

The breeze that day was westerly and as we sat at our picnic table, the sound of the wind in the huge trees was almost melodic. We walked around some of the trails which skirt the area above the beach and heard various species of birds as they went about their daily activity.

Today we took the camp stove and cooked bacon, then added a can of beans. Sylvia brought some of her tasty home-made bread. The smokiness of the bacon went through the beans. Delicious! The environment and the menu were a perfect match as we talked over a leisurely lunch.


One of the highlights of the day was the walk on the beach. The area of the park is elevated above the beach by as much as fifteen to twenty feet in some areas. This is huge in Prince Edward Island. The sandstone is of varied hardness and the erosion along the beach is obvious as trees and sod, in some places, hold on with everything they can muster so as not to slide onto the beach.

Many shells line the beach, mussels, bar clams, oysters as well as crabs in various stages of decomposition. It proved difficult to keep Georgie from eating the rotting crabs. Lots of jellyfish look like they had just been deposited on the beach, big and small alike. 

We were alone in the park and walked the trails and the beach several times. The breeze made the sizzling temperatures bearable. It was another wonderful picnic.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Great Great Gran

How many people in this world are lucky enough to know their great great grandchildren? There was a time when it would have been impossible. People didn't live to be very old and they were lucky if the lived long enough to raise their own children. Today this is not the case. As longevity has improved, it's common for multiple generations of a family to co-exist. But how common is five generations, even today?

In our family, Claire met her great great grandfather Joe Lawrence, Rick's great grandfather. Sylvie and Caitlin, our granddaughters, know their father's great grandmother, Elizabeth Davies. 

           Great Great Gran reading to Sylvie

Elizabeth, born in England, started school when she was four and continued until she was fourteen. She left and did a trade in dress making. You could leave school if you had a job. 

              Caitlin and Great Great Gran

The third woman in her family to see five generations, which is most unusual, Elizabeth is older than either her mother or grandmother before her when they achieved that milestone. For Elizabeth, the five generations reach from the early half of the last century to this one. If her great great grandchildren live as long as she does, they will live into the twenty-second century, a span of almost two hundred years for that family and possibly as many as ten generations.

Mind boggling!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Powerful Part 2

I wrote in May that my niece, Samantha Pretty, was competing in South Africa as part of the Canadian Powerlifting Team. She came fourth in her weight class but the Canadian Junior teamed of which she was a part, got the third place medal. This was the best showing in a powerlifting team event that Canada ever had. Samantha did some personal bests during the competition. A person can't do much better than that in competition!

        Junior Team's Third Place Medal

The day that Samantha competed in South Africa, Rick and I were on a bus tour in Morocco. We were on a long drive through the countryside, on the way to Fez. We stopped for lunch in a hotel in the countryside, in an isolated area. We had the information about the website where we could watch the powerlifting tournament live and we were lucky enough to get wifi in the lobby of this remote hotel. Rick and I watched Samantha do the last two lifts. It was womderful to see her!

These are Samantha's results.

The three areas of the competition are Squat, Bench Press & Deadlift. 

Squat Attempt 1:  132.5 kg
Squat Attempt 2:  140.0 kg
Squat Attempt 3:  147.5 kg


Note:  it takes three men to act as spotters for a young woman lifting three hundred twenty-five pounds.

Bench Press Attempt 1:  80.0 kg
Bench Press Attempt 2:  87.5 kg (missed)
Bench Press Attempt 3:  87.5 kg (missed)

Deadlift Attempt 1:  147.5 kg
Deadlift Attempt 2:  155.0 kg
Deadlift Attempt 3:  165.0 kg

                       Dead lift

This is what Samantha wrote about her experience.

It was the most amazing trip. I learned so much and met so many new people. Overall I did come 4th but it was all a learning experience! I competed against some of the best in the world and I am so happy with what I accomplished :) Kevin Farrell was my coach and he has done so much for me in the last year. Words cannot express how thankful I am towards him & to have him there with me! Also Team Heavyweights did so much to help get me there and I am forever grateful for that :) 

        NL members of the Canadian Team
L. Janessa Ward, Samantha Pretty, Kevin Farrell,
               Bob King, Kristin Elliott

The whole trip was amazing! If I had to choose the worst part it would just be landing in South Africa expecting to see lions and giraffes soon as I landed, something like the movie the lion king! Little disappointed haha! The best part of the trip was everything! We had a stopover in London for a full day, my second time there! Lots of shopping & sightseeing again! :) When in South Africa one of the best parts would have to be lifting day; it was so amazing to see so many lifters from different countries! They were the best in the world! 

Honestly it was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy that I got to go somewhere most people will never get in their lifetime! :)  After being in South Africa, and seeing the houses and how people live, it definitely makes me appreciate what I have so much more!  Samantha 


Note:  Kevin Farrell is Samantha's cousin on her mother's side of the family.

That's our girl!

Bessie Laura Earle Smith

She was born in October 1901. Baptized Bessie Laura, she was one of five children born to Thomas and Eveline Earle. She was born in Farmer's Arm, Twillingate in a winter's tilt, a one room wooden cabin that served as a winter home. However Bessie grew up in Durrell's, Twillingate, Newfoundland. She is my husband's paternal grandmother.

    Winter tilt at Hooping Harbour

In the summer, the fishermen and their families lived in exposed areas along the coast of Newfoundland while they fished. In October, they moved to more protected areas, often further inland where they constructed their winter homes. The winter tilts were built where wood was more readily available for home construction but also for firewood. The homes were made of logs, seams filled with moss or bark, sod roofs.The stone fireplace provided for heating and cooking and a hole in the roof allowed the smoke to exit. Bessie was born in such a tilt.

Inside of a fisherman's tilt at Battle Harbour  

(The phrase 'smoking like a tilt' is a commonly used phrase in Newfoundland. Looking at the picture one can imagine how much smoke there was in the tilt and going out through the hole in the roof. You can imagine that someone who 'smokes like a tilt' is like a chain smoker.)

There were four girls and one boy in Bessie's family. The boy, Fred, was the oldest and Margaret (Maggie) was the youngest. The middle children were Bessie, Nellie and Elsie. 

Bessie had diphtheria, a common disease at that time, before she started school. It left her deaf because her eardrums ruptured and healed leaving scar tissue. Bessie's speech wasn't affected because she had acquired language before this happened. She didn't get hearing aids until the 1950s. She survived the diphtheria, unlike some of my ancestors and children in her future husband's family, where three children died one year from the dreaded disease. Her survival was probably due to her mother who sent the children to the wharf every day with a saucer to get cod liver oil from the top of a barrel of fish livers. She drank this every day.

Small is stature, Bessie had tiny hands and feet. Her mother died when she was young and her father eventually remarried. However Bessie went into service, which meant that she left home and went to work as a servant to another family. She was young but we don't know her age at that time. One of her placements was in a home in Millertown Junction, in central Newfoundland, a long way from Durrell's. Eventually she landed in Corner Brook where she met Ernest Smith. They married in 1925.

           Bessie (Earle) and Ernest Smith

The Smiths had seven children, Fred, Melvin, Evelyn, Beryl, Janet, Mavis and Marie. They lived next door to what is now the Coleman's Store on Caribou Road in Corner Brook. Ern was a locksmith, though he was a man of many jobs over the years.

Bessie kept house, raising the children. Melvin's favourite dessert was Washington pie which his mother made. It was a white cake, in two jam-filled layers, with a thin glaze over it. The jam was often made of partridgeberries which were picked by the children. The cake was always served on a cake stand which Bessie bought for Fred's baptism cake. Our daughter, Claire, still uses this cake stand today.

      Washington pie with partridgeberry jam

Congestive heart failure took Bessie's life in 1968. Ern survived her by several years. All of their children, except Melvin, moved away from Corner Brook to various parts of the mainland. The baby born in the winter tilt has many descendants all across Canada and beyond.


Fred Earle married Mary, (we don't know her maiden name.) Mary spoke using thee and thine in her speech. She said things like,

"Drink thine tea, my dear."  

This is the way that people from Yorkshire, England spoke. If Mary wasn't from Yorkshire herself, her family must have come from there.