Last week on December 7th, Paul and I celebrated our tenth anniversary of living here on Perry’s Point in Newtown. We had left the city behind in 2010 for the rural life and a new adventure.
Our house, which was newly built for Paul’s grandfather Perry in 1923, was in dire need of restoration and renovation before we could move in. The work that went into these first stages is clearly illustrated in these photos.
In 2023, this old house will be one hundred years old, which coincides with our 25th wedding anniversary. Sounds like a great excuse for a party!
Remembrance Day is observed on November 11th in Canada.
I’d like to highlight a song that means something to me and conveys my abiding wish for peaceful, nonviolent alternatives to the costs and devastation of war and strife worldwide.
That said, I mean no disrespect to the memories of all the brave soldiers who fought, stood on guard, and died for us. I honour them just as you do.
UPDATE 2020: I love this new social-distanced version for the times we live in. I hope you have a listen.
As I walk through This wicked world Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity. I ask myself Is all hope lost? Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside, There’s one thing I wanna know: What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?
And as I walked on Through troubled times My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes So where are the strong And who are the trusted? And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.
Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry. What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?
So where are the strong? And who are the trusted? And where is the harmony? Sweet harmony.
Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry. What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?
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
In the midst of the pandemic as well as my deep despair over everything that is going on in the world right now, comes a welcome respite of joy and gratitude.
My only sister and her husband became grandparents last night, to a perfect little girl who was longed for and whose mom went nine days overdue before finally going into labour late yesterday morning. I am brimming with happiness for them all.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, my nephew was only permitted to stay in the hospital during labour and delivery, so like my sister and her husband and her other grandparents, he now has to wait until mother and baby are discharged to be with them.
A side note: when this same nephew was a baby and my firstborn was a young girl, she absolutely adored him. How do I know? Back then, she had a locket. She kept a pic of him in that locket along with a pic of herself. I smile whenever I think of it.
I can’t help but recall how thrilled I was when I became a grandmother fourteen years ago, to a dear little bundle who felt like a gift from heaven for all of us. And now my memories take me back to the day my own daughter was born.
I became a mom when I was barely a woman myself. So young I was, a child having a child. It didn’t take long, though, for me to make my baby a priority and to fall in love in a way I never had before.
Eight years ago, I wrote a short poem about it.
Remembering that day in June
when you were small and pink and new
your needs so urgent, your helplessness
eclipsing all I’d planned to do
Your eyes, the bluest I’ve ever seen
gazed into mine, I drank you in
strawberry mark on your behind
that perfect dimple in your chin
The tiny o your lips would make
when, nursing done, you fell asleep
that newborn smell, the lightest heft—
who knew that love could feel so deep?
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m having trouble concentrating long enough to compose an original post. So today I’ll share a post from exactly five years ago, a nostalgic look back to simpler times.
When my husband Paul was six years old, he and his family moved from Newtown – the little community in which we live now – to live in the capital city of St. John’s. Their parents relocated so that Paul’s oldest sibling David could attend the Vera Perlin school for his special needs.
On the day of the big move, Paul crawled up under the house – the actual house we live in now – in a show of protest. “Everyone should be able to live where they were born,” he argued through tears, but the die had been cast. He was pulled out and packed into the car with everyone else.
On the very first day at their new school, Paul and his other brother Kevin, who is one year older, decided to walk home from school for lunch, despite being told to stay there and eat the lunch they’d brought. But when they saw other children going home, they wanted to go as well. Unfamiliar with their new neighbourhood, the two boys got lost, and Kevin started to cry.
Brave little Paul tried his best to console his big brother by distracting him. “Don’t cry, Kev. Look at the pigeons,” he said, pointing at a bunch of them as they waddled across the sidewalk, hoping the strange, tame city birds might cheer him up. It worked, and they ended up following a classmate to his house. Between the jigs and the reels, their dad had to leave work and go pick them up.
Let’s go back a couple of years when Paul was four and Kevin was five, to another time the younger boy displayed his wisdom. A new addition to the family of three boys had arrived, and this time, it was a girl! When their mom brought baby Julie Ann home, the boys crowded around to get a look at their new sister. Kevin’s eyes opened wide when her diaper came off to be changed. “Look, Paul,” he said, incredulous. “She ain’t got nar topper!” (penis)
“No, ya foolish,” Paul said, enlightened beyond his years. “She got whatever Mom got.”
Now before you think I’m beating up on my brother-in-law, I’d like to share one more tale. Okay, two. When Paul was about nine and enjoying his summer vacation in Newtown, Kevin saved him from drowning. Paul was diving with some other boys off of Burnt Island, but he tired in the deep water and panicked. Kevin grabbed him by the hair on top of his head and pulled him to safety.
Years later, when Kevin was just beginning his teaching career, he and Paul were driving along in St. John’s one evening. Without warning, Kevin pulled over, stopped the car, and jumped out. He’d spied two teenage boys in a fist fight near the local hockey rink, and he wanted to stop them. Paul watched as he parted the boys, reasoned with them, and ended the scuffle.
It was a day he never forgot. Where most people would just keep going and not get involved, Kevin stepped in and tried to solve the problem. It made Paul really proud of his brother.
Paul confessed there were other boyhood fights where Kev stepped in and rescued Paul himself, fights my husband started and couldn’t finish. I would say he’s grateful for those too. And so am I. 🙂
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.
Flashback to eight years ago this week: Beautiful Rome, the first destination of our 3-week trip to Italy and France. We hope to return to Europe within the next few years–the UK this time–and I can hardly wait.
A little verse I wrote in Rome:
The click on terracotta tile a welcoming staccato beat quick-sure heels on cobblestone we join the rhythm on the street.
Mellifluous foreign banter fill sidewalk cafes and bars laughter tinkling, glasses clinking under the Italian stars.
Heady scent of sweet ambrosia lips stained red with deep dark wine swarthy locals’ smiling faces lovers with their arms entwined.
Tastes and smells are all around us food and drink beyond compare warm night air drapes on our shoulders sated, sleepy, not a care.
Street musicians serenade us as we stroll our way back home memories to last a lifetime summer nights in downtown Rome.
What has been your best-loved destination?
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus
This is one of my best-loved quotes. Small wonder the author won the Nobel prize in Literature in 1957.
Dear WordPress bloggers, fellow writers, followers and friends,
December 31, 2018 marked my seven-year blogging anniversary.
Yikes! I’m into the eighth year! Who knew that when I published my first post, Follow the Yellow Brick Road on New Year’s Eve of 2011, my blog would still be active in 2019? I genuinely hope I’m not wearing out my welcome here and that you continue to let me into your in-boxes, your readers, and your lives for my brief visits once or twice a week. 🙂
I’m not one to get hung up on blog statistics, as I value quality of interaction over quantity any day, but I’d like to share a few highlights from my 70 posts of 2018.
I’ve set aside statistics on my About Me and Author Page to concentrate on regular posts.
The three most-liked posts of last year:
When your address is Sandy Beach Avenue and you live near one of the longest beaches in the province, posts like these are bound to show up regularly. These photos taken at Lumsden North Beach grabbed the most likes of 2018.
Winter Morning Haiku
Summery beaches didn’t get all the love.
A haiku poem with one of my best-loved winter photos,
taken from my back yard.
Kids with coffee filters.
How could one possibly resist a click?
(Again with coffee?)
No surprise – this beverage is a vital part of the day for many of us.
Even some of you who prefer tea were moved to give your two cents worth!
Blog Hop: Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray
Once again, I’m delighted to share news from my author colleagues.
I loved this book of the prehistoric fiction genre.
So much so, it got me reading the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel.
I look forward to Murray’s next novel in her Man vs. Nature saga.
2018 was a special year all around, but it didn’t exceed previous records set by my blog.
January 18, 2016 still holds the favored position as the day that generated the most views thus far, when I introduced the ever-popular Newfoundland and Labrador page…
…and the individual post that has scored the most views to date under that Newfoundland banner is Berg Watching, originally shared on June 2, 2015.
Springtime in Iceberg Alley at its beautiful best.
The Sunday Snap series has gained in popularity since its inception in August 2017, and my new addition for 2018, Friday Fiction, has met with positive reviews as well.
Many thanks to everyone who visits my blog. However long I continue, I appreciate all the follows, likes, comments, and shares. Love to you all, and blog on!
P.S. to bloggers: Have a favourite post from your own blog I may have missed or you’d like to highlight? Don’t be shy – share a link with me in the comments below. 🙂
I wrote the following in September of 1994. It was a time of great transition for me.
I wanted to express my readiness for the next chapter, and my anticipation of what good things might come my way. When I wrote it, I had no way of knowing I would be meeting my future (and now present) husband later in that same month.
To me, these heartfelt words of my younger self are still fresh and very much alive. They have no expiry date.
The September sun falls warm upon my face
as I blink back a lonely tear.
But to be alone isn’t so bad.
A decade of fragile dreams, dashed,
had prepared me for this season of solitude.
Hadn’t you known it was inevitable,
poor battered heart?
The gulf I see ahead is blue, unknown,
and strangely comforting.
I knew I would face it someday.
As surely as I had faced the impossible gulf
of a love that could no longer support us,
like a ropework bridge – frayed, rotted,
stretching into a sadder tomorrow.
No, it couldn’t be trusted to help us across.
I finally accepted its condition and turned away.
The summer of change has passed,
and an autumn of new beginnings beckons.
A crisp welcome breeze blows
the last stray doubts from my mind.
I watch a dry russet leaf skitter and dance
to a uniquely different song, of a September that holds
the inviting promise of a life not ending,