Thoughts From The Wilderness -Lighting Up Our Lives(sort of)

Lynn’s been away for the last four days or so, visiting her Aunt and then her Mom. This post isn’t necessarily about her being away(although it is much better having her home), but it got me thinking how many people see their lives or desire their lives to be a rich and marvellously interwoven tapestry with friends, acquaintances and family.

Especially family and friends.

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Where the universe has divinely ordained this interconnection of people within our time walking the Earth. Everything thing and everyone all fitting in nicely to create this wonderful patchwork of relations(with the odd exception every now and then).

At the end of our days, we can wander back through our memories and see the fantastic relationships of friends and family all interlaced resulting in our own “Persian rug” legacy.

And who doesn’t stand back in awe when looking at a woven wall hanging of such brilliance and craftsmanship and wish they had something similar for themselves.

Everything fitting together, each piece is where it is supposed to be. No blips or outliers that mess up the final product.

Nice concept, but sort of boring don’t you think.

This might be what we hope for. All fitting in where it is supposed to be; a place for everything; conformity up the ying-yang. Everything and all is a “lovely shade of beige.”

Don’t rock the boat, because “what will people think?” They’ll probably think, “geez, no different than anyone else.”

But really?

Chances are it looks like this.

Nope, our lives and the connections between family and friends are weirdly a “knotted mess.”

Deep down if we all admit it, we want those interconnections to be the“the knotted Christmas light ball from hell.”

Even you’re screaming back at me right this very moment, “no f@cking way” is mine like that or would I even want it,” chances are yours is just like it. A swirling mix of tangled lights, burnt-out bulbs, weird colours and short-circuited wires.

As much as we have those people in our families or our friends for that matter, that desperately want the “perfect tapestry”, the reality is simply this.

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Our relationships with family and friends are, that tangled mess of “Christmas lights” that no amount of work will get sorted out. So why fight it “the force.”

Embrace it; love it; life is meant to be filled with adventure; fun and just a few secrets that only we know about.

Even if you or someone manages to get the “Christmas ball lights from hell” untangled there will be some bulbs that are burnt out, a few may be far too bright, some will be exceedingly colourful(those are the best) and unfortunately there is always a bunch of lights the same boring colour all in a neat row.

Remember, there is always someone who is at the ready and, honestly loves what they see and who they are and is willing to “flick the switch” at a moments notice. Thus, the whole world or at least the neighbourhood can see and unfortunately to the dismay and shame for some, your “tangled but nevertheless interesting mess of bulbs.”

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One final note, even if it works that you or someone else get the mess untangled and has all the bulbs lit and in perfect colour coordination, there is always a “Clark Griswold” in your life you may have forgotten about, who innocently or perhaps not so innocent will wander back into the garage to get another box of lights.

I bet my last dollar that the box contains yet another “tangled ball of lights from hell.”

Remember….embrace the “lights.”

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Soft Kitty….Warm Kitty….” (Update)

Update(Sunday, July 21)….

This is the kitty.

Her name is Kiwi.

Lynn took the pic the night we arrived with Kiwi in Halifax.

The story of how we ended up in Halifax, follows below.

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Okay, this isn’t a post or dissertation on that particular song from the recently finished “The Big Bang Theory.”

Nope, just a short post to describe the events leading up to today, Sunday, July, 14.

Our daughter Sara, much like myself is allergic to cats. I’m more allergic than Sara, but we are both allergic to furry felines nonetheless.

Notwithstanding the allergy bit, Sara and her roommate wanted to get a cat. I do remember, them saying, a dog at this stage wouldn’t fit into life at the moment.

So, a cat would work, right?

Great question and a good choice for the most part, other than the whole allergy conundrum.

Given my relatively limited knowledge on a variety of subjects, I do know that there are hypoallergenic cats, or so they say.

You should be able to see where this going.

Sara and her roommate, well mostly Sara purchased a hypo-allergenic Siberian type of cat. Well, a kitten to tell the truth.

Funny, thing is though there are no breeders of this type of cat in eastern Canada.

Undaunted, why not simply contact a breeder in Ontario and not far from where Lynn and I reside in the “old homestead” and buy a kitten from her.

And thus she did.

One problem… kitten in Ontario…..Sara in Nova Scotia.

Of course, the simplest solution is for Lynn to take the kitten out to Nova Scotia on a plane and then fly back in a couple of days.

Well, the simplest solution would have been for Sara to pay for the breeder to ship the kitten via air. Small issue, though, the breeder didn’t want to ship the kitten in the cargo hold on a plane.

So…. kitty and Lynn take a flight.

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Lynn and Kitty at Terminal 3 – Pearson Airport

Long story short, Sara bought Lynn a one-way flight on WestJet from Toronto, so Lynn could take the kitty in the cabin with her. As I type this, Lynn and Kitty have been in the air for about 30 minutes or so.

So, how do I fit into this?

Another great question.

My birthday and Father’s Day, always fall within a day or so of each other. This year, Lynn and Sara had a slight challenge in coordinating these two important celebrations for the “old man.” However, when Lynn was on the phone with Sara, desperately trying to make sure Dad wasn’t forgotten, Sara suggested that she would buy me a ticket to fly out and enjoy the “kitty festivities.” Nail, both birthday and Father’s Day in one massive shot.

Thus, I’m sitting patiently waiting at Hamilton International Airport for my 6:20pm flight.

But, Lynn flew out of Toronto you say!

True enough. By the time this all came about, for me to get on the same flight as Lynn was pushing $600. Flying in Canada can be expensive as all get out!!

So, I sit in Hamilton typing away waiting for my $150 flight to board.

Lynn and I will fly back into Hamilton, late Tuesday afternoon.

To finish up this tale, the stress and worry about getting the cat on the plane has evaporated. It will evaporate even more, once I touch down in Halifax and crack a cold beer or two at Sara’s apartment.

Not sure why it was bothering me, Lynn’s flying with the cat!!

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Soft Kitty….Warm Kitty….”

Okay, this isn’t a post or dissertation on that particular song from the recently finished “The Big Bang Theory.”

Nope, just a short post to describe the events leading up to today, Sunday, July, 14.

Our daughter Sara, much like myself is allergic to cats. I’m more allergic than Sara, but we are both allergic to furry felines nonetheless.

Notwithstanding the allergy bit, Sara and her roommate wanted to get a cat. I do remember, them saying, a dog at this stage wouldn’t fit into life at the moment.

So, a cat would work, right?

Great question and a good choice for the most part, other than the whole allergy conundrum.

Given my relatively limited knowledge on a variety of subjects, I do know that there are hypo-allergenic cats, or so they say.

You should be able to see where this going.

Sara and her roommate, well mostly Sara purchased a hypo-allergenic Siberian type of cat. Well, a kitten to tell the truth.

Funny, thing is though there are no breeders of this type of cat in eastern Canada.

Undaunted, why not simply contact a breeder in Ontario and not far from where Lynn and I reside in the “old homestead” and buy a kitten from her.

And thus she did.

One problem… kitten in Ontario…..Sara in Nova Scotia.

Of course, the simplest solution is for Lynn to take the kitten out to Nova Scotia on a plane and then fly back in a couple of days.

Well, the simplest solution would have been for Sara to pay for the breeder to ship the kitten via air. Small issue, though, the breeder didn’t want to ship the kitten in the cargo hold on a plane.

So…. kitty and Lynn take a flight.

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Lynn and Kitty at Terminal 3 – Pearson Airport

Long story short, Sara bought Lynn a one-way flight on WestJet from Toronto, so Lynn could take the kitty in the cabin with her. As I type this, Lynn and Kitty have been in the air for about 30 minutes or so.

So, how do I fit into this?

Another great question.

My birthday and Father’s Day, always fall within a day or so of each other. This year, Lynn and Sara had a slight challenge in coordinating these two important celebrations for the “old man.” However, when Lynn was on the phone with Sara, desperately trying to make sure Dad wasn’t forgotten, Sara suggested that she would buy me a ticket to fly out and enjoy the “kitty festivities.” Nail, both birthday and Father’s Day in one massive shot.

Thus, I’m sitting patiently waiting at Hamilton International Airport for my 6:20pm flight.

But, Lynn flew out of Toronto you say!

True enough. By the time this all came about, for me to get on the same flight as Lynn was pushing $600. Flying in Canada can be expensive as all get out!!

So, I sit in Hamilton typing away waiting for my $150 flight to board.

Lynn and I will fly back into Hamilton, late Tuesday afternoon.

To finish up this tale, the stress and worry about getting the cat on the plane has evaporated. It will evaporate even more, once I touch down in Halifax and crack a cold beer or two at Sara’s apartment.

Not sure why it was bothering me, Lynn’s flying with the cat!!

 

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “Only Half The Story”

How often do we only get “half the story?”

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Now, if you’re the parents of an adolescent teenager, getting only “half the story” is a concept I’m sure you’re exceedingly familiar with. If not, what parallel universe are you currently residing in??

Having been through “that stage,” I can only say and offer this a bit of encouragement.

It may get better as time moves on and the “young darlings” mature. On the other hand – not so much.

The “half the story” concept and teenagers tends to read and go something like this.

Teenagers – “Going to stay overnight at Mary’s”

You: “Okay – have fun. Will Mary’s parents be home?”

Teenagers – “Yup”

Next Day

You: How was the overnight at Mary’s? Anything exciting happen?”

Teenager: “No – not really”

Reality is…..

The “other half of the story” may have this ring to it.

  • Yes, Mary’s parent were home……
  • Until 5:00pm at which time they headed out to Mary’s aunt’s farm until the next day.
  • At 7:00pm, the kids from Mary’s and “the teenagers” class from the local high school started to show up for the party.
  • 11:00pm the police arrived due to a noise complaint from a neighbour

Parenting bliss is often described as “not knowing the other half of the story.”

So, perhaps parenting bliss isn’t that.

But more often than not, there is way more to the story then is presented in a paragraph or two of text.

Any Parenting 101 class/classes, need to have as a minimum these included as part of the curriculum:

  • “Reading Between The Lines”
  • “The Story They Give You Is Only Half Of It”
  • “Effective Questioning To Determine The Other Half Of The Story”

Unfortunately, even the most seasoned and effective Crown Prosecutors here in Canada concede defeat when questioning their own children along the lines of “did anything exciting happen?”

There is always “the other half of the story.”

Getting it from a teenager who is unwilling to give it up, is akin to trying to win the lottery.

Virtually impossible.

Alias, perhaps parenting bliss is “not knowing the other half of the story.”

The only wisdom in parenting I can impart is this.

There may be a day sometime in the distant or not too distant future, that your children will have to pick out the “retirement home” you’ll be heading to. Always best to build up the “brownie points” with them, long before that day arrives.

In other words, it’s best NOT to piss them off on a somewhat frequent basis, whether they are teenagers or even if they are in their mid-thirties, by trying to “figure out the other half of the story.” 

Remember, the “retirement home” day may come! Make it a good choice for yourself by building the “brownie points” NOW.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

…. and remember……..

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

The Return of “Number 38” – A PEI Lobster Fishing Adventure

This Friday past was “setting day” for the lobster fishery on Prince Edward Island. It’s the day the lobster boats and crews head out to set their lobster traps for the spring season ahead. Things were delayed a day or two due to back weather, but once a decision was made by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that the weather looked good for Friday, it was a go for the start of another season.

“Setting day” is akin to a provincial holiday in some respects. Much anticipation and news articles about getting ready to launch and anticipated prices for the catches always proceed the actual day. Generally, each harbour has the local clergy out to bless the fleet for the upcoming season. When setting day dawns, scores of people arrive at each harbour. Boat crews, family, friends and those who love to watch the boats roar out for the first time in the spring.

There may be many people may not see or understand “why all excitement?” Most people outside of Prince Edward Island, likely don’t care at all. As long as the lobster shows up at their local restaurant – all is good then.

But, to those in the industry; to those whose roots run deep on the Island, “setting day” is part of their DNA. It’s who they are. The sea, lobster fishing and all that entails, is part of the DNA of Prince Edward Island. In many ways, it defines in some respect what PEI is.

So, in honour of “setting day” and “landing day” (which is the day after setting day and the first day that lobsters are retrieved”), I’ve re-posted our journey from first finding a lobster buoy; developing a friendship and to spending a late June day lobster fishing out of Launching Harbour, PEI with Paul Fitzpatrick.

An alternative title might be, “How a Buoy from Prince Edward Island Travelled Half-Way Across the Country – Twice.”

Isn’t the world a bit of a funny, but a unique place for the most part.

Things happen or don’t happen, and often times there is no real explanation for why, but things obviously do happen.

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In June 2017, Lynn and I spent the best part of a morning hiking along the shore of Boughton Island which is located just off the east coast of Prince Edward Island. You can read about our morning hike on the beach in the post  – Boughton Island.

While on Boughton Island, we found a fully intact lobster buoy that had washed up on the beach front. As we walked along the beach, you could see and hear the lobster boats off in the distance. A gentle thumping and rumbling noise wafting across the sea.

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“Number 38”

So, what happened after we found the buoy? Why not read “The Journey of Number 38.” Reading it will give some context and a little of the back story.

Throughout the rest of 2017 and 2018, we spent time(mostly Lynn) getting to know Krystle via Facebook. She’s a vibrate Islander who has lobster fishing and all that it entails, flowing through her blood.

As time progressed, we told Krystle when we would be back on PEI and that we were exceedingly excited to meet her Dad, Mom and herself, as well as to spend the day lobster fishing with them.

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Excited to have us with them, Krystle hoped that we would enjoy the experience, as this was the real authentic lobster fishing experience, the pre-dawn start; the weather being what it might be that day and the ocean awakening as either flat and calm, to rolling and cranky, and everything in between.

Excited at the prospect of the upcoming day to be spent with them, we kind of looked at this has one of the highlights of our trip to the Island this year. Not to diminish any of the other activities, but for us, this was perhaps something that most visitors to the Island might not have the opportunity to experience.

In addition, finally getting to meet the people you’ve come to be friends with over the past year… that is and was the highlight.

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Krystle and Lynn

As part of the planning for our trip, we knew already that lobster fishing was an early pre-dawn start. With that in mind, we weren’t thrilled with the idea of staying in or around Charlottetown, and having to get up at 3:00 am to get ready and then have to drive an hour to get to the harbour.  We decided to look for accommodation on the eastern part of the Island that would put us closer to Launching Harbour. After a bit of searching, and with a recommendation from our daughter to look at Airbnb places, we found through Airbnb a super fully contained apartment in the Town of Montague on the east side of the Island.

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Town of Montague

In all honesty, both Lynn and I can say that this was one of the most enjoyable accommodations we’ve had over the years. In a way, it felt like home.  Our Airbnb was very clean, comfortable and we got to experience for the first time a heat pump (gotta say… we’re a fan!). The hosts were friendly and accommodating to all our needs, but at the same time giving us the space to come and go as we pleased. In fact, we never really saw or heard them much, even though they were living above us. All of this wrapped up at $55.00 per night!

With our accommodations all set, we waited with anticipation for our vacation time to roll around.

Once on the Island, we connected with Krystal to firm up our plans with the idea of meeting her at her house between 4:30 and 4:45 am, as her place was on the road to the harbour. Once there, it was a short 5 to 10-minute trip to the boat.

With the alarm going off at 3:30 am, we were up with coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other… driving along the darkened roads of eastern Prince Edward Island to meet Krystal and the start of the day we’d been anxiously anticipating for the past number of months.

Lynn’s take on the start of the day.

We arrived at the “Now N Then” just before 5:00 am. After meeting and chatting a bit with her Mom and Dad, Lynn and I climbed aboard and watched as they prepared to get going for the day.

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Gotta see where you’re going!

In just a few minutes, the key was turned on; the engine rumbled to life and we were off to haul in some of that world-famous Prince Edward Island lobster.

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Heading down the channel of Launching Harbour with the sun starting to peak above the horizon in the distance.

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A perfect sunrise over the ocean on yet another day of lobster fishing. Really, the pictures don’t do justice to the view we had heading out. Calm waters, cool temperatures and a sunrise that can’t be explained – only experienced.10

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One of the first set of traps to be hauled up at the start of our morning.

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As the traps get hauled up from the ocean floor, the lobsters are checked to ensure they meet the legal size requirements. Ones that are too small or large breeding females with eggs showing are thrown back. The ones that are kept are measured and graded as either canning or market lobsters.

Generally speaking, canning lobster or “canners” are the smaller ones weighing between 0.5 to just under one pound. These are the ones that are sold to commercial canning /lobster preparation plants.

Market lobsters are generally one to three pounds in size and those are the ones we might buy in a grocery store or eat if we’re out for dinner in a restaurant.

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Working the “gaff” to snag a buoy
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Using the winch to haul traps up
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Emptying and re-baiting the traps

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Measuring for size
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Freshly baited trap ready to go back

Lobster traps are baited with fresh or frozen fish to attract the lobsters into the trap by having a snack ready to nibble on the inside. Sounds a little like “an after-school snack”,  but the oils and smell of the bait draw the lobsters into the traps.

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A short video of Lynn showing us “how to bait a lobster trap.”

Once the traps have been re-baited, they’re slid down the washboard of the boat and pushed back into the ocean at that particular set of traps pre-determined GPS location.

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Lobsters can be a bit of a troublesome bunch when caught. Seems they like to fight and use those two large claws like vice grips. The market lobsters get banded with rubber bands once they’ve been landed.

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Banding lobsters was the only job I could “master” during the morning
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Another ready for market

And thus the morning was a series of hauling nets; collecting the lobsters; rebaiting the traps; sorting and banding the lobsters; re-setting the traps.

They even let an ‘old boy” from Ontario try his hand at snagging a buoy using the gaff pole.35

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I must admit I was pretty awesome on the three I did snag. Didn’t miss one and thus didn’t have to make the Captain “go around” for another try.

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After all the traps had been checked and re-set, the catch was delivered to a wholesale buyer working at the harbour. The catch was lifted off the boat, weighed and the appropriate paperwork exchanged between parties.

After getting the frozen bait from the supplier for the next day’s fishing, Paul docked the “Now N Then” in its slip, did a bit of tidying up and called it a day.

We really wanted to make the “Number 38” special for us and we figured that having Paul sign the buoy when we were out would make something unique.

From the time we found the buoy back in 2017 until now, we kept telling Krystle to tease her Dad in making sure he worked on his “signature.” However, once we got finished and off the boat, it seemed like a better plan to have all of them sign it.

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Krystle putting her “name” on it.
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Sherry showing us “how it’s done”
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Paul showing everybody this is how to put your signature on it.

We stood and chatted for a bit more, but all of us had other things that we needed to get to. Paul and Sherry invited us to their place, but sadly Lynn and I need to head back to Montague to change, as we had tickets to see the Anne of Green Gables musical in Charlottetown.  (When on the Island… we go from morning till night… we sleep when we get home lol)

Paul, Sherry and Krystle were accommodating and just wonderful people to begin friendships with. Taking more or less complete strangers with them on their workday.  It turned out to be an incredible experience for us.

We enjoyed Paul’s sense of humour as he “complained” much about the crew he had to work with most days (aka his wife and daughter). Sherry was patient in showing us/teaching us how to band the lobster and made sure we got the chance to try whatever we felt comfortable with in terms of helping. Krystle was just a joy to be around… befriending us and just showing us that true Islander hospitality.

One comes away after spending time with them, knowing that they are a very proud Islander family, deeply rooted on the Island and living out the fishing tradition that PEI is famous for.

We’re so glad and grateful that we happened upon “Number 38” while hiking along the shore of Boughton Island.

Without finding that buoy, we would never have had the chance to spend the day lobster fishing, but more importantly… we would never have had the opportunity to meet and make new friends on the Island.

Krystle, I think it’s time to start planning something for when we visit again next year.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Making Memories

Making memories is so much more than the word “memories.”

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The phrase “making memories” has a definitive sense of action associated with it. It’s simply not memories, but “making memories.” Not sitting idly around waiting for some random event to happen or evolve out of the vapours of living, but to actively create and “make memories.”

“Life is about moments. Create them. Don’t wait for them.”

— unknown —

Why Making Memories

Over the past week, I’ve had the idea of making memories rattling around in my head. In the past, I have written a few posts on “being in the moment” and “not taking people for granted” which kind of have the thought of making memories implied in the post. Thoughts From The Wilderness – Hiding In Plain Sight Valuing Those We Love

But, not sure why the fixation with making memories at this time.

Perhaps it’s because our daughter has flown in from eastern Canada for a few days that lit the spark. I’m sure that has a major role in the catalyst of it, but it seems as I get older the realization that TIME DOES NOT STAND STILL often rears its head.

The “old clock” keeps ticking along, each second and minute getting us closer to some point in the future, and hopefully, the far distant future where time as we know it will stop for us. Life is far too short to be sitting around and it’s far too easy to idly waste precious time fixated on phone apps and computer screens all the while assuming some event will magically occur and the result is that everlasting memory the family brings up at each holiday gathering.

“Your most valuable family possessions are the shared experiences and memories that link your hearts together.”

— unknown —

‘Making memories” involves people and hopefully those closest and dearest to us. Our families, spouses, children, friend or some combination of all of them.

“We didn’t realize we were making memories. We just knew we were having fun.”

— unknown —

And the wonderful aspect is that nearly any event or outing has the potential to become a treasured memory. While making memories is important, making ones that are positive is essential. Generally speaking, positive experiences and memories tend to remain with us longer, while negative memories slip off and are forgotten. It’s the new, different, discovering or curious events that happen, which grasp hold of a tiny part of our mind and take root there. This is what we look back at as adults to times gone by with fondness and longing.

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Making Memories

Memories are best made with loved ones – Marriage is a ready-made vehicle for the making of and cultivating of rich memories. The memory in itself helps to enhance marriage by providing a common language of the shared experience. Along the same line, loved ones, obviously include family, friends and people we care about. When we are with those we love, memories coming out of wonderful events and happenings are sure to follow.

Memories take time – Our best memories have been born out of spending a lot of time together.

Memories are made of varied adventures – Creating memories can occur anywhere and at any time. Don’t get into a rut assuming memories are only created in 5-star resorts. There is literally a universe full of wonderful ways to share our lives together and thus create an ocean full of everlasting and wondrous memories.

Memories are both planned and unplanned – Although memories can be made in those “planned events” such as vacation times, seasonal holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, don’t forget times that are seemingly spontaneous and unplanned.

Memories are celebrated – The last and perhaps the most important is that a memory really isn’t a memory if it isn’t celebrated. We need to talk about them, look at pictures of it and above all laugh about them. The phrase, “Do you remember the time…..” is a great way to kick off time spent together.

In hindsight, the title for the post and the post should have been something along the line of “Spending Time Together.” Spending time with loved ones, our families and friends. Cultivating, enriching and building into those we love. Loving each other and celebrating our differences and commonalities.

At the end of the day, all that matters is love and memories so make sure you give it and make sure you make them.

— Trent Shelton —

Finally, one question to ponder and to ask your spouse, children and loved ones is simply this, ” If you could keep only one memory of all our years together, what would it be? Why?”

Make sure it’s a great one!

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

 

 

Thoughts From the Wilderness – Big Day!!

This is a big day!!

One of the most, if not the most important things to me, and to most I’m sure is family. They say you can pick your friends, but can’t pick your family.

I’m lucky in that I ended up with a pretty special bunch. So, with family being so important, we’re off in a bit to pick our daughter up, who’s flying home for a short visit(four days).

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A two and a half hour flight from Halifax on the east coast of Canada and there she’ll be!!

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2017 – 10 Pictures; Few Words; From My Universe(One Year Later)

Well, 2018 is just about upon us and I thought I’d have a look back to 2017 and what if any predictions or aspirations I might have had for myself and “justabitfurther” for 2018. Apparently, whatever they might have been, I didn’t write about them. I did say I would blog a retrospective piece about 2017 – didn’t happen. Oh well.

But, here’s what I wrote last year around this time.

 

Well, my friends, 2017 has come and gone.

Like the 1000’s of years before it, 2017……..well it just came and went. Looking back, it took a mere 365 days from start to finish. Amazing.

Yup, I even managed to stay up until about 12:10 to ring-in 2018. That’s even more amazing.

One must realize, staying up was and is a major victory for both Lynn and I(more so for Lynn I think, although I don’t know why). My usual workday has me getting up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00am.

It’s crazy; it’s weird’ it’s not normal…….. I know.

So, believe me …………… in the catalogue of victory’s ……………….last night was a major one.

Seeing as it’s been too damn cold to spend a ton of time wandering around in the freezing temperatures the past week or so and combined with just about every outdoor celebration in most communities in our area were cancelled, we just stayed in and……..

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…….. managed to complete the following in no particular order.

I rolled out of bed this morning after about 4.5 hours of fitful shut-eye, with a resolution to have 2018 be something magnificent in terms of our outdoor adventures…………taking everything to the next level so to speak.

Come on now……….don’t say you don’t……….cause we all do……….we all wish and try to plan for the “next level.” Goals and dreams to aspire too; working diligently each day with a super-power like focus to make them come true. Some of you actually write them down, which I hear is a critical step.

All of this is exceedingly strange because I don’t remember making any un-keepable or even reachable New Years resolutions, goals or dreams.

I do have a vague recollection of thinking I should open a health food restaurant and gym on January 2 and then after about two weeks turn it into a bar after everyone’s resolution to fitness, exercise and clean living gets tossed into the wastebasket on their way to the pub for a night of “wings and beer.”

Thus, with no plans and having set the bar so low for 2018, I did feel that perhaps trying to capture 2017 in pictures might just do the trick.

You know, not too many words; just scroll my WordPress media file; select 10 and done.

Ten pictures in my mind seem to be the perfect amount. Instagram has or had last night the #2017bestnine.

In my universe, besting Instagram’s #2017bestnine with #justabitfuthers2017bestten ……. seems like the kick-start that 2018 needs.

Here you go……. our best ten pictures or memories(from my universe) from 2017 in no particular order.

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I am working on or will be working on a retrospection for 2017 and do hope to get it posted in the next couple of weeks.

I trust your 2017 was super, filled with great adventures, wonderful times and leaving you with even better memories.

Our prayer is YOUR 2018 is exponentially better.

Christmas Tree Tradition – 2018

Not sure if the same happens in your part of the universe, but once December rolls around the days seem to go by faster and faster. Each day crossed off the calendar results in December 25 accelerating and approaching “light speed.” Within that acceleration towards December 25th, however, are the traditions that each family may have at this time of year.

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Here’s a read of some of the traditions we carry on in our family at Christmas.

Last Sunday(December 9) seemed to fit in the schedule for heading out to cut a Christmas tree for the homestead. Since we moved to our current house several years ago, we never have been able to go out on the weekend to cut a tree, due to my work schedule.

Now, only working four days a week, this year was different. So, with Sunday off we jumped in the car headed out into the great Canadian wilderness, carrying on the ancient and time-honoured Canadian tradition of hunting down the ever elusive “family Christmas tree – 2018 version.”

Both Lynn and I are big on supporting local businesses as much as we can. And it’s the same for Christmas trees.

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Since moving to our present home, we’ve cut out Christmas tree at “Desroches Tree Farm” located just outside the Town of Penetang. A family run business, which according to Glen the owner, the farm is more a labour of love as compared to a huge money-making operation. Glen, his sons and family all work off the farm in a variety of jobs but work the farm as required whether it be planting new seedlings, pruning and shaping, weeding or whatever is required in order to open for sales during the Christmas season.

Arriving just after 11:30 in the morning, we grabbed a saw and off we trudged seeking divine guidance from above in getting the perfect tree.

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Part of any successful Christmas tree hunt is the preparation and mediation necessary to carry out the task set before oneself.

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One crucial aspect of discovery the perfect tree is to shake to snow off to see the full shape of the tree. Thinking about it though, I’m pretty sure Lynn makes me do it, to see how many times  “he’ll actually do it without questioning – why?”

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Not this one
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Not this one either

I’m positive this is the one!!

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After much divine counsel, this was the one.

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Much like an Olympian, I’m proudly hoisting our family tree above my shoulders in a sign of “I’m not sure what!”

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Tools of the trade.

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Dwarfed by monster sized trees.

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This tree came with a special ornament already in it.

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The long walk back to the car.

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Santa’s little helper.

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Santa’s little helper back in 2017.

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Once back at the parking area, the bottom of the tree is cut clean and trimmed of any branches that are too low and then the tree goes through the bailing machine.

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All nicely tied for the trip home.

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We have a small area in our living room for the tree, so we’ve found out by “trial and error” that a smaller tree works the best and as a bonus fits in the trunk of the car by folding down the back seat.

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From heading out the door to getting home, I guess we might have been gone a couple of hours or so. In our area of Ontario, there are numerous Christmas tree farms open at this time of year. Some are small operations like Desroches, while others are much larger commercial enterprises. Many go the “whole nine yards” offering wagon rides, bonfires, hot chocolate and visits with Santa, plus a host of other fun activities as well.

Regardless, this one tradition that at least for us, get us outside and to slow down for a few hours. To savour the smells of the outdoors; the smell of woodsmoke from neighbours woodstove or fireplace and the pine smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree at your feet. To see families out; the grandparents, parents and kids all poking along and bundled up against the cold and like us searching for that perfect tree. Creating memories to add to a long and cherished family Christmas tradition or perhaps starting one for the first time in their own family.

Those couple of hours help to remind us that although life changes and moves along according to some grand plan, there is always good to be found. Traditions in a way anchor us something; that we are part of something bigger and important. Traditions are the things we can always look forward too and when sitting and the looking back, the memories they created.

What are your family traditions during the Christmas season?

Thanks for reading.

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Thoughts From The Wilderness – Another Number, April 15, 1912

Have you ever just felt like another number? Feeling like you have no real identity, no soul, just another number in a long list and series of numbers. I’m sure you have because at one point or another aren’t we “just another number?”

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Like when you make a call to one of those call-centres about a bill, one of the first things the person on the other end will ask you is, “what’s your account number please.” Looking up your account information and status isn’t by name, it’s by some arbitrary number that you’ve been assigned.

Most of us will have a driver’s licence and on it will be that horrendously long number; we all have a Social Insurance Number(SIN) from the federal government; or a Health Card Number(OHIP in Ontario). When it comes to tax time, I’m pretty sure the computers at Revenue Canada just see you as a number.

No one wants to be thought of as only a number. We all have names and I really like it when people refer to me by my name and not some number. Who we are, our identity is not tied up in a series of numbers. dashes and hyphens, but rather in something much more concrete and identifiable. Numbers are cold and calculating – not fun at all.

We’re more than just a number.

We have a name that is in sense part of who we are as people. Our names are given to us at birth by our parents. Our first and middle names can take on significant meaning within a family. Maybe you were named after a favourite grandmother or grandfather; you get the idea.

With our last names, I guess we can’t usually do much about those. They do, however, connect us into something much bigger. Our last names might give a hint as to where your family originally came from; last names are part of our heritage.

Names are important.

The picture above is a gravestone at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is a grave marker for victim 241 of the Titanic disaster.

The Titanic grave site, although not high on most people’s vacation “must see or do lists” was very high on mine and someplace I felt really drawn to see. It was the very last place we stopped at on our vacation to PEI and day trip to Halifax.

The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

The White Star Line who owned the Titanic at that time had offices in Halifax. Immediately after they received news of the disaster, they commissioned four Canadian vessels, two of which were cable ships based out of the Halifax harbour to head out and retrieve bodies.

The four ships managed to recover 328 bodies. They buried many at sea but did bring back 209 victims to Halifax.

The number on the grave marker refers to the number assigned to the victim found at the disaster site.

Number 241 is the 241st victim recovered.

The coroner at the time worked tirelessly to identify the victims, but 40 victims buried at the Fairview Lawn remain unidentified to this day.

Number 241 did have a name. In fact, he or she does have a name. The problem is we just don’t know what their name is. Maybe records exist that identify 241 as male or female; young or old. But, it certainly isn’t recorded on the grave marker.

And that’s the sad part. Victim 241 may have relatives living today. They may tell stories of that long gone family member was who sailing on The Titanic to start a new life for the family in North America.

They don’t know that perhaps the person identified as 241 is part of their family.

I think over time the story of The Titanic has almost taken on mythical proportions and because of this mythical evolution of the Titanic disaster, what gets missed is that there were real people, a lot of real people; families who perished that night.

Movies; books and displays all portray maybe something that most people maybe fail to grasp. Who after watching “Titanic” didn’t fall in love with the characters of Jack and Rose.

In fact, there is a victim(227) buried in the Titanic section at this cemetery. He shovelled coal to feed the massive engines in the bowels of the ship. Not a fancy or very glorious job.

His name was:

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His grave has become a shrine to the movie and character of Jack Dawson. Shortly after the movie came out in 1997, this gravestone was adorned with teddy bears and love notes from women who believed this was the grave of the character “Jack” from the movie.

Not real life though.

Mr. Dawson was a person; not some movie character that women all over the world fell in love with due to some fancy piece of quasi-fictional love storytelling.

To some extent, I guess we’re all just a number someplace. But, the ironic part is we know that and for the most part, we acknowledge and accept it. We do have names we know; that our friends and family know as well. That in part is one component in defining who we are…….our name.

241 is just a number……..but here on a small piece of ground, 241 is much more than a number.

Victim 241 sailed and was a passenger on the RMS Titanic and died in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Victim 241 was a real person though, with hopes and dreams just like all of us.

Victim 241 isn’t just a number on a gravestone in a small section of a cemetery that has taken on cult-like tourist status.

Nope…. 241 is a person and people are far more important and beautiful than any number assigned to them.

Thanks for reading.