Alexander Perry, or Skipper Alex (aka Alec) as he was called by many, was my husband’s grandfather. For those that don’t already know, our home on Perry’s Point for the past ten years is the same home in which Alexander and his wife Mary Jane lived and raised their large family.
Alexander worked as a skipper on a number of fishing schooners. He made many trips to Labrador to fish for cod, which he brought back to Newtown to be cured before it was carried by ship from St. John’s to England and sometimes Jamaica.
Although I never met the man, I’ve heard many good things about him. Skipper Alex was widely admired for his seafaring abilities, his pleasant disposition and gentle spirit, and his flair for storytelling. Locals loved to visit with him—or he with them—to be regaled with colourful tales of his experiences. Of course, having a love of stories myself, I wish I could have known him back in the day.
Below is a letter from Pompano Beach, Florida that Paul found in a box in the attic when we renovated our house. It was written by John Maxwell Barbour, known as Max, the eldest son of Captain Alphaeus Barbour. I imagine the letter meant something to Alex for him to hold onto it like that. He would have been 81 when he received it, and Max, 69. I typed the letter out for easier reading.
Jan. 22, 1969
Dear Skipper Alex,
This carries to you and to your good wife my warm congratulations on your 56th wedding anniversary.
Seeing your excellent picture brought back many memories of my boyhood days in Newtown and of our many contacts, all of which were pleasant and helpful in shaping me for the years ahead. To put it quite plainly, during that period you were one of my favourite adults and without question your personality made a good impression on me.
To my mind’s ear the sound of the guns fired at your wedding still comes thru. I recall the happy occasion well altho I was not old enough then to be a guest.
My wife joins me in sending you and your wife best wishes for continued health and happiness.
Very sincerely, Max Barbour.
Many thanks to Lester Barbour for giving me some background on Max.
Photo credits: James Maine
Today I’m happy to host Jacqui Murray, a fellow blogger and prolific author as she launches Against All Odds, Book 3 in the Crossroads series. I’ve read most of her work and hold a special fascination for her prehistoric thrillers. Here’s the summary for her newest book:
A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.
The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.
From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety,and a new home. A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
I had the pleasure of asking Jacqui a few questions about her latest novel:
That answer is a resounding Yes. Scientists call this the “Endurance Running Hypothesis”. Early Man didn’t run faster than herd animals. They ran harder—all day or more. The Homo genus evolved a more stable head, looser hips, longer legs, shock-absorbing joints, and a springier foot formation. This made them—and us—well-suited to continuous running. Other changes in body makeup meant humans didn’t tire or overheat from this activity. Most animals sprint only short distances before they must stop to catch their breath and let their bodies cool down. We didn’t.
Could primitive man build rafts as suggested in this story?
Yes, absolutely. They possessed the brainpower, and the required tools were available at the time. Because these rafts must have been made of wood and vines—-materials that don’t preserve over time—no artifacts remain to prove this. Anthropologists speculate this earliest raft was more of a floating platform made from bamboo and tied together with vine. Scientists tested this hypothesis by building rafts using the prehistoric techniques Xhosa employed to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and then sailing the raft through Indonesia as the ancient people might have done.
Thank you, Jacqui. I wish you much success with this book and with all of your writing endeavors.
I’m throwing out a bouquet today to all who consistently like and comment on my articles, updates and photos throughout the year, but particularly I wish to thank the six most frequent commenters of late.
I hope you know how much I value your visits and our conversations. These visits bring the reward of connection with other like-minded people from all over, as well as with those who walk an entirely different path.
Have a look. You just might hit the follow button and join our blogging community.
Book Club Mom, a.k.a. Barbara Vitelli, hails from the U.S. and is my most frequent commenter. She is a book reviewer and bloggerhere on WordPress, where she shares author interviews, indie author profiles and blogging advice. Barbara is also a librarian, a book-clubber, and an avid reviewer on Net Galley and GoodReads.
Jacqui Murray of WordDreams is an author, freelance journalist, teacher, Amazon Vine Voice, and the bearer of a wealth of helpful advice for all things wordy. I have learned a lot from her posts which she fills with hints, lists, how-tos, and book reviews. Jacqui lives in California.
Jill Weatherholt is a writer of contemporary stories about love, faith, friendship and forgiveness. Her sweet novels always end with a “happily ever after.” She started her blog as a way to share her journey and to create a community for other new writers, artists and fellow bloggers. Jill lives in North Carolina.
Clanmother, a.k.a. Rebecca Budd, is a fellow Canadian living in British Columbia. She hosts several blogs, sharing her talents as a visual storyteller, photographer, podcaster, traveler and life-long learner.
Andrea Stephenson of Harvesting Hecate is a gifted writer as well as a painter. She hails from the United Kingdom, where she draws inspiration from nature, the coastline and the turn of the seasons. She has written two magical realism novels for adults.
Joanne Meadows of joannerambling is a blogger from Australia. She loves to blog about family, write letters to pen pals, and she’s always eager to share my posts on Twitter.
Honorable mention goes out to each and every commenter and visitor.
You all rock!
I’ve been taking a blogging break while away from home these past couple of weeks, so today I’ll share a photography post from a beautiful July day six years ago. Remember 2014, when life was simpler? ~*sigh*~
I plan to return to regular blogging with a new Sunday Snap, on—you guessed it—Sunday!
Summer in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador, compared to most of North America, is short but ever so sweet. What makes it so cherished, to my mind?
The following photos were all taken in Lead Cove, the little community where I raised my children.
I love my home for its natural beauty,
its refreshing, rugged and
for its clear and wide blue skies
without a whisper of smog.
I love the clean, sparkling water
and the glistening rocks adorning the coastline
that beg to be traced
and trod upon by eager footsteps.
I love summer in Newfoundland
for its breathtaking views
of seascapes and landscapes
when I embark on a hike.
Whether I traverse
its beaches of sand or
climb its rocky windswept hills,
I know my camera will find its aim.
I embrace it because
the bushes and shrubs,
green and lush,
are heavy with fragrance
and of wild roses in bloom…
…while in the gardens,
the planted perennials are brilliant with colour,
delighted at last
to spread their bright petals to the sun.
I love the hardy trees of Newfoundland
…as they stretch
their ripe foliage to the sky.
Shot through with rays of sunlight,
a shimmering haze settles over the treetops
like a warm summer veil.
After a long winter and dismal spring
of cold, naked branches,
they, as I do,
breathe a sigh of gratitude
at the return of this warm and golden season.
Are you filled with summer lovin’ where you live, or is the pandemic interfering?
It’s been quite a while since I tossed a blogger bouquet, but hey, today is the perfect time to share a little love.
In her own words, Evelyn Krieger – Inspiration for the Creative Soul – is a “word weaver, radical educator, dancer, and homeschooling pro.”
Her debut middle-grade novel, One is Not a Lonely Number, was a 2011 Sydney Taylor Honor Book from the Association of Jewish Libraries, a 2011 Next Generation Indie Finalist, and a PJ Library Our Way pick.
From her Welcome page:
“I grew up in Michigan. Today my home is Massachusetts, though I hope to move somewhere tropical one day. Sunlight makes me joyful. I’m allergic to snow. My blog explores creativity, grief, resilience, and all things related to the writing life. I love connecting with my readers and making new friends. Please stop by and say hello.”
Check out Evelyn’s enjoyable post below, where she poses the popular writerly question: Does the change of season affect your creativity?
For me, this winter has been a time of deep reflection. The dormant months are ideal for slowing down and looking inward, giving one a chance to rest, to heal, to quiet the mind and to focus on the spiritual side of life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about and missing my mother more than usual. She has visited me in my dreams quite often in recent weeks.
I wonder why.
I suppose I could chalk it up to growing older and becoming infinitely more aware of my own mortality. Or maybe she knows I need her more right now.
Today, I dedicate this post to you, Mom. I wrote the following piece in January of 2012, ten months before our final goodbye.
The Little Things
You always hear people say that we shouldn’t love the material things in life, and usually I am inclined to agree. However, in one particular area of my life I must beg to differ. Sometimes we have certain items that are so very precious to us because they keep our memories bright.
My mother is now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She has changed so much in the past few years, from a vibrant, independent and beautiful woman, into a person who needs constant care. She can still smile in recognition at me but can no longer carry on a conversation of any sort. We are losing her, bit by bit, with every visit and every passing day. This is probably why I hold on so tightly to a few items that came from her.
As I write this, I am wearing a pair of wool slippers that my mother knitted for me. They are teal blue and white with little bows sewn on the top. I found them a couple of months ago when I was sorting out some storage items, and even though they are a little tight, which was the reason I had put them away in the first place, I’ve worn them ever since, stretching them so they would fit. Just knowing that she had made them for me gives me comfort.
While I was looking for Christmas baking inspiration a few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for cherry cake in my collection, written in Mom’s elegant handwriting. I remembered her making that recipe many times over the years. My heart ached with loss as I read it, but I knew I had to use it. Now that Christmas is behind us for another year, I still have some of that cake left, and I savour every bite.
And on my right hand, I am wearing my mother’s wedding band. It had been sitting in a little box in my dresser drawer for months, waiting until the day it would go on her finger for the last time. So for now I am wearing it because it makes me feel closer to her, and to Dad as well.
So please don’t try to tell me that things aren’t important. Sometimes it’s the little things that we need to hold onto, the touchstones for our priceless memories. Sometimes it is all we have.
Last week, while looking back on a few of my January posts from the past, I hit upon the following that I’d written exactly eight years ago. I thought the timing was perfect to provide an update as the last line suggested. I had mentioned that “The Change” can take anywhere from two to eight years. Thankfully, it didn’t last anywhere near eight years for me, and yes, Paul survived. 🙂
By the way, he still plays floor hockey on Monday nights and I never turn the heat off anymore in the dead of winter. I hope that brings a measure of comfort to those of you who are dealing with menopause or perimenopause at the moment.
January 30, 2012: So here I am, on a frigid January evening. Outside, a bitter wind chill of minus 10 degrees Celsius (that’s 14+ degrees for you Fahrenheit folks) is blowing directly off the North Atlantic just a few yards from our door. Husband Paul is gone playing floor hockey at the high school gym, so I’m alone, trying desperately to chill out. Not figuratively, mind you, but literally. I turned down the thermostats so there is no heat on in my house, simply because my body feels like a furnace turned up on cremate.
This is a new and fresh hell for yours truly, only making itself known within the last couple of weeks. Somehow, I had let myself believe I’d be lucky enough to escape the discomfort of “tropical moments” at this time of my life. How I used to chuckle when one of my friends or coworkers complained of a hot flash. Ha! The joke is now on me. And for the uninitiated, it doesn’t feel like a source of external heat that hits you. It’s more like internal spontaneous combustion, where you think you just might suddenly burst into flames.
Stripped down to a tank top and appropriately, sweat pants, eating blueberries out of the freezer (still frozen), I’m trying to hold it together. I made the mistake earlier of googling other menopause symptoms, and started ticking off other lovely ailments I’ve been experiencing. Brain fog? Check. Anxiety? Check. Night sweats? Check. Mood swings? Okay, that one is just me, can’t blame that on The Change.
The website also warned that the whole process could take anywhere from two to eight years before it is done. That’s just terrific. Think I’ll go out and stick my head in a snow bank.
And now Paul is home. “It’s freezing here!” he says. He looks at my red face. “Is it alright if I turn up the heat?”
“If you must,” I bark, fanning myself with a throw cushion.
Then I realize something. In our house, PMS always stood for Paul Must Suffer. Well, the PMS might be coming to an end for me, but it won’t be ending for him any time soon. Will he survive? Will I?