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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Sunset 2019

What is there to say today 

As another year slips away?

A decade gone as well you see,

Brought lots of change for you and me.

Loved ones gone and friends gone too.

Time to reflect is a gift to you.

But with sunset, do not despair,

Tomorrow is another year,

A day with promise as a decade starts,

With mem’ries and hopes in every heart.

I wish you good health, the love of family and friends and the joy of nature for 2020 and many years to come.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

That dog

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Georgie story. This time of year has the usual celebrations and a family birthday besides. We have always celebrated two occasions, never wanting to make a birthday blend with the Christmas festivities. Of course Georgie, the golden retriever, is in the middle of every celebration.

Many of our activities with the grandkids are done on couches and coffee tables or on the floor. Whatever games we play, Georgie is there. Everyone must reach around or over the dog. That dog thinks she’s human. 

Presents were opened as we sat around on the floor and you know who was in the centre. She had a sniff at the packages before they were opened. Georgie knew about the scented candles and the bath bombs long before we did.

Decorating the tree was an experience. Our grandchildren worked at the decorations, reaching in over the dog much of the time to place the decorations on the tree. She wanted to be there with them and they took it for granted that she was.

We thought Georgie would enjoy some of the Christmas headwear but she didn’t look too pleased and quickly had it off her head, running her paw over her head to dislodge it.

This is one tradition she doesn’t enjoy and we won’t make her suffer the indignity again. 

That dog!

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

From the fields

And the forests

And all creatures great and small,

From the trails

The streams and marshland

Merry Christmas one and all.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Self expression

Our two year old grandson was up from his afternoon nap and full of energy. We started to decorate the Christmas tree and he was eager to help. The artificial tree had lights so we started with the bulbs. His older sister distributed the bulbs over the tree while her brother decorated the lower branches.

When it was time to hang beads on the tree, the six year old did it the traditional way, a string of beads hung over the tips of the branches. She had learned over the years to decorate this way with the beads. Her brother was new to it. He saw what she was doing but liked the beads placed one by one on top of each other on a branch, creating a white pearly heap of beads.

His sister didn’t notice what he was doing until she finished her decorating. “No,” she said to him. “You have to put them on like this,” as she took his pile of beads from the tree and one by one, hung them individually from the branches. 

The little boy cried to break his heart. He grabbed beads from the tree and sat on the floor, hiding them under his body.

I explained to his sister this was the way her brother wanted to decorate the tree and it was fine. She had done something similar when she was little. 

We gave him a bunch of beads and he decorated the tree in his own way and the beads still are positioned as he placed them. Perfect!

The exchange gave me pause for thought. When and why do we stifle our children’s self expression? Is it a conscious effort to have them conform or is it a societal norm we have absorbed into our psyches and accept as correct? Do we tell them who and how they are or do we allow them to show and tell us? This applies to our children on so many levels.

The two year old expressed himself the only way he knew. It took a minute but we listened to him. I hope his family continues to listen to him for the rest of his life.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Gulls at play

During a recent walk on the boardwalk, the wind increased in speed as the sky cleared from the south.  As my husband and I proceeded, holding on to our hats, we noticed seagulls along the shoreline, riding the wind.

They stayed close to the shoreline, just above the beach area at low tide. It was fascinating to watch them. 

Better birders than I could identify the gulls playing there. They cavorted for the hour we were there, moving slightly along the coastline if a particularly strong gust of wind ushered them along. They revelled in the high winds while mere mortals struggled to stay upright and keep their cameras steady.

The birds weren’t making any sounds that we could hear in those high winds. Neither were they feeding. Occasionally one landed on the water but didn’t stay for long or take anything from the water. They resembled a bunch of kids enjoying the outdoors on an exceptional weather day.

The enjoyment those feathered creatures took in the high winds was a wonder of nature.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019


It was mid morning and we were late getting started. Most recent days when it was fit to be outdoors, we had previous commitments. It was overcast, 10 degrees C and windy but great for a walk. It was good to be on the boardwalk again.

Off in the distance to the south, the sky was blue. We walked towards the expanding blue and watched the harbour, roiled by the high winds. As we walked along, beams of light broke through the clouds in different locations. 

Breaks in the clouds gave sunbeams the avenues to various locations in the Northumberland Strait.

The sea in the foreground looked like chocolate milk as streaks of light spread from the openings in the clouds.

Beams of light played around the lighthouse. 

In the distance, the light on the water looked like an energy beam from an old science fiction program. “Beam me up, Scotty,” I said into the heavens as the wind carried the words across the landscape.

Before the sky cleared, the view through the trees resembled a moonlit night. 

Light can be an amusing companion.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Bits and bobs 7

We don’t do much highway driving at night. However, recently my husband and I were on our way home from Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island, after a long day waiting with a friend at the hospital. We were tired as it was and the drizzle driven by the wind made for terrible driving conditions too.

The highway had never been so black and wet. The lines in the centre of the road all but disappeared and the lights of the on-coming traffic blinded us. We couldn’t see the edge of the road either. We slowed down but vehicles sped past us. We were concerned about being a hazard due to our speed so we couldn’t drive too slowly. When we finally arrived home, we were exhausted. Should we ever be in a similar situation again, we’d stay overnight rather than drive under those conditions. These old eyes can’t take those wet black roads at night any more.


What is going on with many of our children today? Rather, what is going on with their parents? My husband and I have spent time in public spaces the last few months and there are many parents who appear to have abdicated their responsibility to correct or discipline their children. In a waiting room, where parents did not speak to a child who was misbehaving, the other adults there had to change what they were doing because of the misbehaving child. At a hotel pool, children splashed other people on the deck while their own parents sat nearby chatting and ignoring the behaviour.

Gone are the days of children being seen and not heard. That is good. However, now the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. If children can do what they want when their parents are present, what are those children like in a classroom? How does any teacher handle a classroom full of many such children? Teaching today is a tremendously difficult profession.


There is a spam letter I’ve received twice on my blog now about death to baby boomers. What kind of minds put such vitriol out into the world? I’ll never understand such behaviour. I feel sorry for them.


Finally, migraines are a curse I’ve suffered through for a number of years now. My most recent attack occurred after a busy few days which I didn’t even recognize as stressful. Driving away from the situation, the feeling started in my head and progressed to nausea and everything it entails with a dizzy headache. Sleep was impossible and an endless night gave way to a day of recovery and finally rest. It is amazing how our bodies react to events which we don’t realize affect us. How many more circumstances in our lives result in physical effects we know nothing about until some major health issue assails us?

P.S. Thanks to David, I have corrected the improper capitol to capital! Thank you!


Friday, 13 December 2019


Again this year, my husband and I accompanied our daughter and our grandchildren to see the ballet, The Nutcracker, Casse-Noisette, in Moncton, New Brunswick. The show, staged by The Academy of Classical Ballet and Modern Dances is performed at the Capitol Theatre and accompanied by Orchestre Tutta Musica.

New for us this year was our two and a half year old grandson who saw the ballet for the first time as did my husband. They have usually stayed together at the hotel while the girls, their mother and I take in the ballet.

The two year old was fascinated by the music and the performances. From the first orchestral sounds he gave his full attention, and when the curtain went up, he was captivated.

His sisters have seen the show for years now and rarely turn their heads once the show begins. The costumes, performances and the music are better every year.

At one point, as the music became dramatic and the Nutcracker fought the Rat King, the two year old said, “Oh no.” At other points, he handed off his blanket and doll to his mother and leaned forward to take everything in. Late in the second act, he fell asleep in her arms. He is only two after all.

Their grandfather was another story. For him, the music is like scratches on a blackboard and ballet is not his favourite. He enjoyed the tap dancing of the toy soldiers best of all. However, he was glad when the ballet was over. He would have liked a nap too.

The rest of the family hopes to take in the show again next year.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Along the boardwalk

One day last week along the boardwalk, a flock of geese, during their last weeks before migration, were closer to the harbour entrance than they normally are. Of course gulls and crows were there too.

Many of the geese were busy preening or standing with the heads tucked under their wings. 

If we hadn’t seen the flock, we might have thought there were people talking in the distance, rather than geese gossiping.

New homes built across from the boardwalk are mere meters from the water where the geese hung out. 

The land in this area is prepared for development now. What will become of the animals who live there?

A five minute walk further south, the remainder of the flock floated within sight of the Confederation Bridge. 

The cloudy day made the muted light of this time of year resemble twilight. 

Nearby blue jays were busy in the trees, watching every walker for the possibility of peanuts offered at various feeders or left on the rails of the bridge.

They talk among themselves in the trees in familiar tones as they watch proceedings.

Since our last walk here, high winds have destroyed more trees, some already cut from previous storm damage. The wind was strong enough to bend this weakened trunk.

The scene across the stream and saltwater marsh was almost a silhouette in this December morning light. 

While I miss the bright light of spring and summer, I enjoy this scene in any light.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Cookie day

Though we don’t need an excuse to get together or bake, we recently had our annual pre-Christmas cookie bake with our daughter and the kids. Our granddaughters love baking and cookies are a favourite. Ever the teachers, my husband and I use the opportunity to teach fractions from the practical examples afforded by measurement. However, baking provides so much more.

This year, their two year old brother participated for a time as the girls chopped cherries. He grinned and ate as they chopped. He is not a fan of sweets usually but the cherries were the exception. Later, he didn’t eat any cookies though.

The hours went quickly by as we baked and tidied between batches. The girls are as helpful cleaning up as they are baking. They especially enjoy making  cookies they can get their hands in, which makes the cleaning up a chore, but fun in a gooey, messy way. We had tacos for supper and the tasty morsels for dessert.

What makes cookie day so great? While cookies are yummy, that’s not the best part. Best is the time spent together, without the distraction of television and other screens. It’s being able to enjoy each other’s company, sharing stories, jokes, songs while we work and having a scuff* if there’s time.

As I watched our daughter with the kids, explaining a recipe to them, listening to their questions, I thought, these kids are in good hands, be it about cookies or anything else.

*In Newfoundland English, a scuff is a dance.

Friday, 6 December 2019

The sounds through the trees

Our walks on the trails this time of year are predominated by the grey trunks of the trees which stand majestically along the paths. While colour is lacking, my husband and I sometimes feel compensated by the sounds we hear through the trees.

Tractors are a curiosity, many still busy in the fields, completing the last of the ploughing before the ground is frozen. It is a challenge to take a photo of a tractor through the trees although their colour helps.

Previously ploughed fields are alive with the sounds of crows and gulls. They are obvious overhead but we need a gap in the trees to see them feeding from the rich red soil. They make their unique calls to others of their kind as we watch and listen. The haunting cry of the gulls stirs up memories of salty beaches while the caw of the crows sounds utilitarian by comparison.

The most pleasant sound is that of a squirrel and its rhythmic squeaking from among the grey branches along the trail. “It’s in there somewhere,” I say as we search its location. 

“There it is,” my husband says after several minutes as he points to where the tiny creature is sitting in the grey menagerie.

Can you find it?

Answer to a question from a previous post:

From the post about Red squirrels, Joanne at asked “Do squirrels feed from those cones over winter?”

The red squirrels collect cones and place them in a pile called a midden where they add the discarded bracts as well. The squirrels collect enough cones in the midden to last all winter and beyond in many cases.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

On the Rotary trails

One of our recent walks in the Rotary Friendship Park was on a rare sunny day. It was such a relief to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air again after a week cooped up inside. The  footprints of both humans and animals who had gone before froze overnight.

The walls of grey trunks around us reached their filamentous extensions overhead in many places, creating an arch against the blue. 

The path ahead led to the unknown. 

Downed trees were reduced to firewood in some places.

Remnants of farm life which cultivated this soil years ago hung from the trees, leaking memories.

Ploughing had finished on this field with a border of bare soil around the perimeter. I have never seen this pattern before.

Georgie, the golden grand-dog, always enjoys meeting new friends on the trails.

A pond along the way has begun to freeze. Before long it will resemble a skating rink. 

The trail passes fenced-in farmland in places which was a nice change from the walls of grey.

It was invigorating to be on the trails again.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Second thoughts

Recently I wrote about the day my husband and I spent at the hospital with a friend. That day made me think about a number of issues and some of your responses to the post, A glimpse, added to those. 

When we were at the hospital, it was obvious seniors were the vast majority of users of the facilities. As we age, our bodies wear and our use of medical services increases obviously. Sitting there, I wondered what health issues will bring my husband and I into the services. We have been fortunate thus far in staying away from the medical system except for maintenance services. How much longer can that continue?

While we may have support of family and friends as we face health challenges, ultimately we face these challenges alone, including the end of our lives. The experiences of life prepare us to handle these challenges. While death is solitary, the love of those who have touched our lives which may include God, carries us through to the end and beyond if that is our belief.

Linda at in response to the post wrote how a health issue in her family, when she was raising four young children, left her with a $12,000 debt after insurance. This is unimaginable to me. I take our income tax supported medicare system for granted. We do not rely on insurance to cover our major medical costs, they are covered by funding from the government. While I complain about waiting times to see specialists, a government funded Medicare system is a gift many don’t enjoy in other countries. That’s not to say our system couldn’t be improved, but we usually don’t go bankrupt or into debt for medical procedures.

My husband and I have medical and dental insurance so our regular health costs, such as prescriptions or treatments, such as physiotherapy, are minimal. For example, our prescriptions costs $3.10. Our monthly premiums are reasonable and continued into retirement. However, we know people who cannot afford their prescriptions which affects their health for certain. We need a pharmacare program in this country.

I live my life with gratitude which makes me a happy person for the most part. However, the experience of the hospital for a day made me realize, in a tangible way, that any day my husband and I are out on the trails or enjoying our picnics, there are many people going through health issues in the various hospitals around the island. Consequently, reasons for gratitude have multiplied and reinforced my drive to stay healthy as long as I can. At the same time, it has made me realistic in knowing that aging is a process of deterioration and decline. I hope to face it with courage and strength.

There are many wonderful health professionals in this country who give us the best of their ability and while not perfect, our hospitals are good facilities which are well maintained.

Even on the worst day of one person’s life, another person may be having one of their best. Life is a cycle and we have our turn with all aspects of it. We hope to have more good than bad but having the strength to deal with whatever comes makes the journey an interesting challenge.

Thank you everyone for your comments.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Red squirrels

The Bonshaw Trails were spread out before us as my husband and I left  the picnic area and headed into the woods. Meters from the park, we heard a squirrel high in the trees. We stopped to catch a glimpse of the creature which sounded as if it was scolding us. When we looked up, a cone dropped from the trees to our feet.

An enterprising red squirrel was cutting cones from the conifers. The ground around us was littered with them. Later it would gather them for its winter supply. These little squirrels are some of our favourite little creatures.

On the boardwalk in Summerside, some squirrels will feed from your hand. They love peanuts in the shell and will run off with them, squirrelling them away for later. Sometimes they are hungry enough to break one open for a meal while you watch.

This autumn we saw a red squirrel with a mouthful of straw for its nest.

They don’t hibernate but remain active all winter.

Our golden grand-dog thinks she can catch any squirrel which crosses our path. If she is not tethered, she runs after every rodent for a few seconds before it scampers into the woods.

We witnessed the tenacity of these little creatures when some walkers left seeds on the boardwalk where one little squirrel was active. A crow flew in to feast on the seed, only to be scared off by the tiny squirrel. The bird squawked as it flew off. It met its match in the tiny creature.

Sometimes the rodents are mere silhouettes among the trees, especially in areas where people are not feeding them. 

We enjoy their antics everywhere we encounter them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

A glimpse

We sat in the main entrance of the hospital, surrounded by fellow seniors. Seniors volunteer at the information desk, and help direct people unfamiliar with the registration process. Notably, seniors are the majority of the people who have business at the hospital as well.

At registration, where you take a number, every wicket opened as patients checked in for procedures that day. We waited for the number to be called as the seats filled up around us, everyone needing directions to the appropriate clinic. Among those checking in, a child, young adults and middle aged people looked out of place.

Listening to the conversations around us, some like my husband and I, waited with a friend who had an appointment that day. People spoke of pain and its management, doctors they liked and didn’t, wait times in spite of appointments. Some sat alone and waited quietly. Several people used canes as friends linked into them, everyone eager to get on with the day.

We sat in several areas during the day. Young people had day surgery while family members waited. A roomful of grey heads occupied the eye clinic. The cancer clinic embraced people of various ages. A family waited excitedly as a young mother gave birth just as we had done when our first grandchild was born. In the chapel several people sat in quiet thought or prayer.

By supper time, the registration area and the various clinics and collection areas had emptied out. Patients left in wheelchairs, with patched eyes, casts on legs and arms in slings. A construction worker limped to a waiting vehicle. Otherwise, as earlier in the day, most were seniors, accompanied by fellow seniors or younger family members.

A day spent in a hospital watching the proceedings gave me pause. 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

A bovine serenade

We stopped to take some photos of St. Peter’s Island off the south central shore of Prince Edward Island.

When I exited the car, I noticed the young cattle in the adjacent field.

A bucket list moment presented itself.

Maybe you’ve see the videos. Someone approaches a field of cattle and begins to sing. I have always wanted to try it.

I didn’t have the courage to video the scene since my singing is nothing special. However, I summoned up my best soprano vocals and began to sing an impromptu song for the bovine audience. On other humans were around other than my husband. He doubted my sanity so he stayed in the car.

The funny thing was, the cattle did react and I took photos. 

When I started singing, several of them looked up and a few moved down opposite where I was located. Over the next few minutes, as I continued to sing,

cattle which had been minding their own business, looked towards me,

then stood up and moved to join the others opposite me.

Some farmers play music for their milk cows to soothe them. These cattle looked relaxed enough but it must be boring for them in the field day after day. Does the serenade break the boredom for the bovines?

You know I have to do it again! We don’t want bored cows on the island.