Monday, 26 March 2018

Canterbury Trails: A New Brunswick Staycation

Canterbury Trails: A New Brunswick Staycation

While many people head south on the March Break, we opted (???) for the New Brunswick Staycation with our little brother, Noel. Between three major Nor' Easters and six feet of snow, we managed to carve out a winter vacation fondly christened Canterbury Trails. Use your imagination and positive outlook as you follow us on our journey from Fredericton to the Orient, a trip steeped in geography, literature, history, nature, physical pursuits, international relations, local economy, career options and gastronomical delights. There's a lot to be learned by travel.

Noel on March Break

The first stop on any Canadian road trip is Tim Horton’s for breakfast!

We took a detour into Nackawic ostensibly to fill up on gas. In reality, I wanted Noel to see the birthplace of my famous friend, Colleen Landry, Miss Nackawic, 1981 and hear about her accomplished life. Colleen is a stand-up comedian, trophy wife, one hot-flashin' mama of two sons,online teacher, coffee connoisseur and wine aficionado. She is a celebrated author with several published books in her repertoire, including Take off to Tantramar which is currently nominated for a New Brunswick Book Award. She and her co-authors, Odette Barr and Beth Weatherbee, have already seen success with Follow the Goose Butt, Camelia Airheart


And soon to be released is Colleen’s solo work, Miss Nackawic Meets Midlife which explores the trials of a former beauty queen coping with the reality of middle age.

Miss Nackawic, 1981

After paying homage to Miss Nackawic, we took a swing by The Whatcamacallit Diner and The World’s Largest Axe.  
World's Largest Axe
over 55 Tons

Nackawic,a forestry town with a population of 941, was developed in the late 60s as a community for people displaced by the construction of the Mactaquac Dam on the Saint John River. Riel Nason, another accomplished Nackawickian author, tells the story of that displacement in her award-winning novel, The Town that Drowned. Nackawic is worth a visit! 
The Town that Drowned

The next leg of our adventure took us to Canterbury. I have travelled a lot of backroads in New Brunswick, but I had never been to this charming village. Canterbury was once a thriving railroad and forestry town with over 1000 residents, three general stores, a department store, a hotel, a bank and a butcher. 

Canterbury-Back in the Day

By 2011 the population of this village, The Gateway to the Lakes, had dwindled to 336 people.
Gateway to the Lakes

Our next stop was North Lake for an afternoon of ice-fishing with Off the Charts Outfitter, Mike DiCarlo. North Lake is one lake in the Chiputneticook Lakes chain along the Canada/US border between New Brunswick and Maine.

Outfitter DiCarlo

The lodge was beautiful with spacious living rooms, an industrial kitchen, 5 bathrooms, several bedrooms, a games room and a beautiful view. 
Lodge at North Lake

We enjoyed a couple of games of pool before heading out on the lake for the big event of the day---ice-fishing. It was cold and windy. I was reminded of a segment from This Hour Has 22 Minutes called Why The Hell Do You Do It?  featuring Raj Binder interviewing ice fishers on a frozen lake in Manitoba. He could not quite understand Canadians’ fondness for ice-fishing which combines the “fun of being cold with the thrill of waiting.” 
Two hours and four fish later, we were ready to head back to the lodge for our picnic featuring Goldfish, Fluff and Oreos, gastronomic delights denied to my own children, I am told.  
Tom on North Lake

Mike and Noel 
at the Fishing Hole

North Lake is a 15 minute drive from the US border at Fosterville. The original bridge which crossed the St.Croix River connecting NB to Orient, Maine, was said to be the shortest international bridge between Canada and the USA.  

Original International Bridge
at Fosterville

We "crossed the lines" taking Noel into the USA for the first time in his 12-year-old life. We saw 4 deer, a burned-down store and a road sign on our five minute trip to Orient, Maine. 
Noel in the USA

Once back in Canada, we headed home for an evening of cookie-baking, Crazy Eights, Go Fish, Janitor and warm memories of Canterbury Trails

In my role as "Big Sister", I strive to offer Noel diverse experiences which are still physically possible for an old lady like me. Believe me, there are limits. But every experience, no matter how ordinary, has the potential to broaden one's horizons. Next year, who knows??? Sussex? Juniper? St. Andrews? 

...Until Next Time...

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A Golden Nugget

A Golden Nugget

In the Holderville Forest

I have never been a hard-core pet person. Growing up down on the farm, we always had a dog, and the dog always had a job—getting the cows in for milking. The dogs were not allowed in the house, and they never had real dog food, just table scraps. We went through a few dogs in my youth, and every one of them was named Skipper. No matter how creative we children might get about naming the dog, it always ended up being Skipper, because my father would never adjust to a different name.


Of course, when I became a parent, I was going to give my children everything their little hearts desired, if I could manage it. We could manage a dog. Enter Tucker. 

Tucker Joins the Family

In spite of my granite exterior, I grew fond of Tucker, and when he passed away, I found I missed having a dog in my life. Enter Nugget.  

Nugget Joins the Family

This month, I had to say good-bye to Nugget after our six years of retirement together.

All the Elements of Retirement

Nugget came to us suitably named and with an interesting backstory. She was a cross between a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel. The ethics of uniting those two breeds is questionable, but they make cute little “forever puppies” which are currently desirable.  

Forever Puppy

Nugget was a puppy mill. She had spent her life giving birth to puppies before she was seized from an establishment up north and placed in the SPCA in Oromocto. After a couple of visits with Nugget, I took the plunge. The vets estimated that she was 7 years old.  As I was signing the adoption papers, I said, “I assume she is housebroken?”
“Oh no,” they answered. “She has lived her life on the cement floor of a garage. She’s never been in a house.”

Garage Living

Nugget was pretty antsy for the first few months. She was afraid of stairs, doorways, brooms and men. 

Nugget's Fears: 
Stairs.Doorways. Brooms. Men.

Nugget imprinted on me and became MY dog, snubbing Tom to an extent. Over the years her fears and anxieties subsided, and she lived a pretty good life. Our backyard neighbour always said that “she landed her ass in butter” when she came to live with
Butter Dog

Released from life as a puppy mill, Nugget spent the rest of her days pursuing diverse interests. She was...

A Fashionista

A Security Guard

A Gardener

A Rhubarb Farmer

A Contender

A Hockey Player

A Wrestler

A Marble Player

A Pumpkin Jumper

A Hiker

A Camper

A Boater

A Marathoner

A Knitter

A Cuddler

It is sad to say good-bye to such a loyal friend. I take comfort in the wise words of my Little Brother Noel who said, “Every dog dies someday, Barb. So do people. But not usually on the same day. Unless there is a virus.”

So long, Nugget...

...Until Next Time...

Monday, 29 January 2018

A Cozy of Mittens

A Cozy of Mittens

In mid-December, I was the lucky recipient of seven skeins of Briggs and Little yarn. Jewel colours. Jade, Peacock, Royal Blue, Yellow, Magenta, Light Grey and Violet. They even sound beautiful. This donation was an inspiration to me in the dark, gloomy days of winter.

Briggs and Little Jewels

I sat down with my four needles and did not look up until I had created 18 pairs of mittens for cold little hands at the local women shelters. Women needing shelter often bring their children with them. My 7-skein donor is a non-knitter but wants to support the hand-warming cause. This is not the first time she has provided me with skeins of yarn for kids’ mittens. Thank you, Diane!

A Cozy of Mittens

I exaggerate a bit—I did not make the 18 pairs of mittens in one sitting, but I did sit a great deal. Considering that it takes me about 5 hours to make a pair of mitts, that is many cups of tea, and a lot of time on the couch...days of Netflix (Longmire, Rake, The Crown), Crave (Big Little Lies), CBC (Harry Forestell, Heartland, The Detectives). I kept a collection of Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Major Crimes, Father Brown and Jeopardy on the PVR just in case I ran out of new stuff!! What is this obsession with crime?

Knitting Environment

Part of my challenge in making mittens from various colours is to use every scrap of yarn. I strive to have as little waste as possible at the end of my manufacturing. I don’t follow a pattern, per se, so there is a lot of “guess-timating” regarding the amount of yarn needed. This is what I ended up with at the end of this run. I hate to sound boastful, but I’m quite proud of myself!


If you have followed my blog over the years, you know that I name my mittens. One of my sisters thinks that is ridiculous, but another sister believes that will prevent Mitten Loss---kids will take better care of mittens that have names. I mean, how would you feel if you lost your Candy Cane mitts? Or Snow Flurries at Night?

Candy Cane

Snow Flurries at Night

I have had Mitten-Naming Parties to share the fun and broaden the scope of creativity. My top Mitten-Namer is currently out of town, at a Mitten Naming Conference in Toronto, I believe. In Penny's absence, this “Cozy of Mittens” remains nameless. Perhaps you have some ideas?

Nameless Mittens

...Until Next Time...

Sunday, 31 December 2017



Here it is, New Year's Eve, 2017. I’m not celebrating, not making resolutions. I am committed to publishing this blog before midnight in compliance with my self-imposed deadline. My non-resolution for the last few years has been to read a book a week, thus 52 books a year. Well, I made it. Just. If I have counted correctly. 

Calendar, 2017

I was keeping up to one book a week until about mid-November. In fact, there was a point in July that I might have been ahead of schedule. I felt quite smug about that, to be honest. 

July. On Schedule.

But in November, I started to lag. So, as in other years, I was searching the house and the library for skinny books in late December. Sort of cheating, you might say. However, I did manage to hit 52 without sneaking in the occasional picture book.

A Skinny Book

Early in 2017, a friend forwarded me this checklist which challenges you to read one book every two weeks. Although I attempted to tick off every box on the list, I did not quite do it. For example, I did not read a book I had read in school, nor did I read one by someone who is not a writer. (Is that even possible?) You might want to try this!

I cannot settle on The Best Book I Read in 2017, but I’ll tell you my top 5 favourites, in no particular order:

There are some books on my list that were not good. For some inexplicable reason, I feel obligated to finish every book I start, so I push myself through to the bitter end. I probably should get over that.

The Bitter End

I am most proud of having read Middlemarch by George Eliot…one of those classics you are supposed to read. 736 pages long. Actually, I listened to that book, in solitude. I love listening and I love solitude!


I was most disturbed by The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, a book all Canadians should read. Be prepared to feel uncomfortable. 


Speaking of disturbing, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is an excellent book. The writing is wonderful, the story is alarming. Proof that books don't have to be happy to be good.

The complete list of the 52 books I read in 2017 is on my blog. My pile of books for 2018 includes the following:

2018 Pile

What are your top book picks of 2017? Or of all time? 

...Until Next Time...