Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 31, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

Gluten free blueberry cake. Irresistable


I’m really ticked off.

No. I’m not mad. A little sad maybe because we dropped our granddaughter off in Montreal on the weekend after her month long stay with us. Having unfettered access to a grandchild for one whole month is every grandparent’s dream. We had many wonderful adventures and the weather cooperated giving us plenty of visits to the beach.

I’m ticked off because I’ve been bitten by a tick for the second time in less than a year. Last year it happened after a hike on a wooded trail which is understandable.  How does one get a tick bite sitting inside a car for 2606 kilometers? Yes. We stopped for gas, ate at restaurants, slept in motels and crossed the Bay of Fundy on a ferry. None of these seem like natural habitats for a tick. I felt something on my leg while pulling into a scenic lookout in Maine. Weird.

I am happy to report that the trip was uneventful. Betty and I packed minimally. Most of the car space was taken up with our granddaughters belongings.  We stopped in Edmunston for dinner on the trip up. Chantal’s is a restaurant that was recommended by some family members as a great place to have ribs.

I knew entering the parking lot that we might be in a little over our heads. I noticed a few high end sports cars. I did not see a lot of Yaris’s. When we entered the restaurant ,

( which was packed ) , a hurried looking server came to the door and asked us if we had a reservation. Assuring her that we didn’t, she summarily dismissed us. My guess is that when she saw an old guy in a white t-shirt and shorts, that even if they had room, we would have been denied entry. The linen table cloths were a dead giveaway. We ended up eating at a deli where we ate superb and healthy food for $24. My hunch is that coffee and dessert at Chantal’s would have been twice that.

After dropping off our granddaughter, we took a different route home traveling east through Sherbrooke and entering Western Maine. Neither of us had traveled this road before. The Quebec portion was quite beautiful. There were some stretches of road that you could see for at least 5 kilometers. But unlike our prairies or the deserts of Arizona which are so flat that you can’t see to the horizon, the terrain here was very hilly but the road was as straight as an arrow.

Quick show of hands. How many of you have crossed the border from Canada to the Unites States at Coburn Gore, Maine? I didn’t think so. There was nothing notable with the crossing other than the fact that the border agent window was on the passenger side of the car. Which is fine when you’re traveling with someone. Traveling solo would be interesting to observe.

Less than a day later, we exited Maine at Calais. There was very little traffic and within five minutes, we were at the booth. We were asked the standard questions . We had nothing to declare as I had finished off Betty’s dessert ( pictured above ) a short time earlier! The agent looked at us and I was wondering what she was thinking. There was chip peeling off the front bumper of our car; potato chips and peanuts littered  the floor of the back seat . There was one lonely apple which Betty had declared as a food item.  She failed to mention the gluten free rice crispy square. The agent  probably deduced that we couldn’t afford to buy anything in the U.S. It was the quickest border crossing in history… under 30 seconds. She didn’t even scan our passports. I guess we didn’t look like drug mules although I may have looked like a donkey’s arse wearing three day old clothing.

Our last meal of the trip was in Quispamsis, New Brunswick. Fatigue was setting in after a gruelling couple of days of travel. I decided to treat myself to a non alcoholic beer. I always read the label… just in case. I noticed that this particular bottle was infused with “ isotonic, vitamin rich reduced calories.” For the first time in 48 hours I was able to fully relax knowing that I had just quaffed some of the most nutritious, live giving alcohol free beer on the planet.

Have a great week.



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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on July 24, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet



“ Are we there yet? “

I must admit that it has been a long time since I heard that sentence come out of a child’s mouth. On the weekend, we had a mini vacation with our three granddaughters at Pictou Lodge. For those of you not from the area, this lovely getaway is about a 55 minute drive from Antigonish. The James River Speedway is about 10 minutes outside of town. This is where the first query came about our ETA.

Our three granddaughters hadn’t been together in over a year so it was understandable that there was some pent up excitement… probably enough to launch the space shuttle. We arrived quite late in the evening on Friday. At check in, the receptionist at the front desk pointed out the many features and amenities of the resort. She could have stopped right after uttering the word  “ outdoor swimming pool.” After all, what more do you need when you have a three girls aged 9,5 and 4.

Oh yes. The front desk staff mentioned the hours of “ fine dining.” That was a bit of a head scratcher. Since when do hotdogs, marshmallows and pizza constitute fine dining?

We had booked two rooms and when it was apparent that all three grandchildren wanted to sleep with Nana, it ended up with the five gals ( including our daughter ) in one room while DJ and I were relegated to a quiet cabin. Such are the tough breaks in life!

It took about 8 minutes for the girls’ headquarters to fall into complete disarray as food and clothing were strewn about the room in an attempt to get to the pool before closing time. It was quite late when they got the girls to bed… a harbinger of things to come the next day. Normally the girls would sleep in until 8:00 or 9:00 after a long day and an hour of swimming. But you normally don’t get to “ hang’ with your cousins.

Obviously the adrenaline rush had not fully subsided overnight as things ramped up at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday. We had a suspicion (?!) that there might be a “moment” or two before the day came to a close.

One more thing. The resort had a full house for the weekend with tourists, a family reunion and a wedding. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve “ been there and done that “ right? The possibilities were endless. The only thing missing was Chevy Chase.

Whoever invented in ground heated swimming pools should be awarded some kind of medal by parents of small children. The grandkids spent most of the weekend in the pool. The weather was ideal.

Around mid afternoon, the first meltdown occurred. Earlier in the day, I had seen a post on Facebook where a young lad had a major meltdown in a grocery store because his mother wouldn’t take him to the moon. At times like these, you wonder about the one way trip to Mars that is being planned.

Within a million, how many shells do you think are on the beaches of the Northumberland Strait? One of our granddaughters had collected a handful earlier in the day. She made a terrible mistake in judgment and passed them to her cousin to inspect. The receiver then claimed them as rightfully hers. When it all ended ( badly ) the shells were hurled across the room. Everyone was shell shocked. Nana to the rescue. Only a grandmother has the unique skill set of patience and wisdom to solve an impasse. She got a movie set up on her ipad and within minutes, the tears and rage had subsided… and two exhausted children fell asleep in her arms.

Sadistically we had thought about bringing the kids for some fine dining just after Armageddon had broken out. “ Fine whining” anyone?

I am happy to report that the bride and groom successfully tied the knot and that the family reunion was civilized with one minor hiccup. At 10:00 p.m. just before putting the girls to bed, we heard the first popping sound of  fireworks from the reunion crowd. It was a fantastic show and a great way to end the day. At 1:59 a.m. the following morning, I was awoken to what sounded like fireworks. Indeed it was. Obviously the reunion crowd , in a moment of great enlightenment ( after shooters, methinks ), thought that everyone in the resort would appreciate a replay in the wee hours of the morning.

“ Just five more minutes.” Another sentence uttered for the gazillioneth time by a child. On Sunday morning, two other families with three children apiece, joined our three in the pool for one final swim. It was time to hit the road but the kids didn’t want to leave the pool.

But alas all good things must end and after numerous bargaining sessions ( where is Henry Kissinger when you need him ),  all pool participants were gathered up and everyone  headed for home.

A heavy duty vacuum cleaner will be required to remove the sand dunes from our car… but we wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

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Heavenly Hosts

Posted on July 20, 2017 under Storytelling with one comment

” Father Len” with an unconsecrated host from Emmaus


Mental illness knows no boundaries.

On my recent travels to India, I spent a lot of time working with the poor, the dispossessed and the marginalized. In a country of 1.325 billion people, the sheer number of people needing help is staggering, to say the least. In many parts of the country, there is no formal welfare system as we know it in North America. Many charitable organizations step in to fill the void.

As many of you already know, I spent four months in Kannyakumari , at the southern most tip of India, volunteering with an order of Catholic Sisters called The Daughters of Mary ( DM ) . These amazing women provide social services, medical assistance and educational services to those most vulnerable.

Funding is a constant challenge for groups like these as government support and foreign donations have all but dried up. They are charting a new course,  looking to try and become as self-sufficient as possible. One example of this is at one of their facilities that assists women living with mental illness. Emmaus is a facility that houses 100 mentally ill women. Many of these women have been abandoned by their families and have lived on the streets until being rescued by the Sisters.

The Daughters of Mary also understand that people who have mental illness need help and therefore accept all women regardless of religion, language, state or caste. All are welcome where “ love shines as care.”

The occupational therapy unit at the home provides programming that has a dual benefit: it gives the women work skills and also provides necessary income to help with the sustainability of the home. They make and sell bread, candles, rosaries and also hosts used in the many Catholic churches in the region.

I visited the home on a few occasions. Much of the equipment is antiquated. The hand operated host making machines can only supply a fraction of the hosts required to service the needs of the churches. A new, modern piece of equipment could increase the output tenfold. The increased profitability would be a step in the right direction towards self- sufficiency. Check out this video:

This new piece of equipment costs $6,000 Canadian. If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, you can do an e-transfer at or stop by the Credit Union in Antigonish . There is an account set up in my name called “ Investment India.”  The Sisters have already received a donation of $2,000 from the C.W.L. in Antigonish through the Opportunity Shop.

The Daughters of Mary are making a difference in the lives of these women. So can you.


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