What I Learned

Since returning from a visit to my sister my mind has been returning to my childhood in Nova Scotia, where I was born and lived until I was 20.  When you grow up in a large family (7 boys, 4 girls), your perspective on life is different.  My parents were wonderful Christian people who taught us to treat others with respect and kindness.  Here are a few things I learned as I grew up:

  • Everyone matters.  Everyone was welcomed at our house.  Our front door was never locked.  People just walked in since if they knocked on the door, no one would ever hear them over the noise of boys playing basketball in the living room.  One young man used to walk in the front door at lunch time, play the piano for a few minutes and then continue on out the back door to his own lunch.
  • Pray.  We always prayed together as a family and whoever dropped by at those times, also dropped to their knees and joined in.  My Dad used to lead the prayers, walking from room to room with the rest of us kneeling wherever we found ourselves.  We saw our parents going to Church and reading the Bible and they didn’t have to tell us it was deeply ingrained in them.
  • Appreciate beauty.  There was always music and art and reading at home. Piano playing, singing, painting, poetry writing and good literature were a part of the “noise” and bustle of our home.  I remember one uncle saying when we visited him that if he didn’t have anything to read, we would read the light bulbs! 
  • Laugh every day.  Whenever any of our family members get together these days, laughter is there as well.  All the old stories are trotted out and we still look for the light side of things.  When Mom was an older lady, a few of us were visiting and telling stories and she said she wanted to go to bed because she loved being in her room listening to us all laughing as she fell asleep. 
  • Sports are important.  I don’t think you can be in a family of seven boys and not care about sports.  We were and are all active in playing and watching sports and learned about loyalty and perseverance. 

Both our parents have passed on and five years ago, our dear brother, Jimmy joined them.  We all love each other and enjoy nothing more than being together.  We aren’t all rich and none of us are famous, but we still welcome others, especially “outsiders”, we pray, appreciate beauty, watch and participate in sports, and we definitely laugh every day.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!


Trochanteric Bursitis

I got home from my fabulous trip to Bermuda yesterday.  The air of Bermuda is heavy with the heat of the sun, the steaminess of non-stop humidity, and the scent of thousands of hibiscus, poinciana, frangipani, and Bermudiana blossoms.  Now if I can just remember all that in late January when the mercury dips below -30C and the air is full of the snap of arctic cold fronts and the smell of wood-burning fireplaces, and the wind chill factor would freeze your blood.

To get back to reality, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning because of persistent hip pain.  At my last doctor’s visit, he thought the hip pain was caused by arthritis.  Today after a more thorough examination, he thinks it is more likely trochanteric bursitis.   This is an inflammation which can sometimes be treated with NSAIDS, the application of ice, and a set of stretching exercises.  I know it is hard to believe but the doctor recommended that I look up trochanteric bursitis on the internet and that I use the internet to find a set of exercises to do at home.  He is also sending me for an Xray to rule out arthritis.

The internet can be a great tool to help us maintain our bodies but of course we have to be careful not to diagnose ourselves.  The articles I read recommended avoiding walking and stair climbing but since walking is my only real form of exercise other than cycling, it is going to be difficult for me.  The doc said cycling may be good for me so I will try to do more of the old pedalling!

If any of my readers have any exercise suggestions or any specific websites they think I should visit, please let me know.  If any of you have dealt with this problem I’d be interested to know how you dealt with it.

Thanks for reading and have a healthy day!  Also, a very happy twelfth birthday to my grandson, Enzo!

Elbow Beach Bermuda


We went to Elbow Beach this morning and it was glorious!!  The sand was pale pink and not hot at all.  The water was blue-green with beautiful breaking waves.  It was 82 F and very refreshing.  We swam and dried off then swam again.  Then we popped over to the Elbow Beach Hotel for lunch on the patio.  It was good to get some shade and we enjoyed delicate sandwiches with salad.  Back to the beach for another swim before packing up to go back to Ecum Secum, my sister’s house.

Okay the temperature here reads 89 F today but I know it is really 127 F.  It is as hot as Hades!!!  I don’t know what we would do without air conditioning!  When we got back to my sister’s we went for a dip in the pool to wash off all the sand and then we had showers to wash off the chlorine!!!

Last night we had dinner at The Stables, my niece’s house and tonight we are hosting my nephew here.  Tomorrow it’s back to Toronto and my hubby who has been missing me as I have been missing him.  I’ve had a problem with email while I’ve been here and will be glad to get to read and answer all my messages.

Here are a couple of photos from our day at Elbow Beach.

Downsizing Bermuda Style

Since I am staying at my sister’s house, I have been able to meet a lot of people here in Bermuda, and everywhere I go downsizing is the hot topic.  Bermuda is a series of small islands and there aren’t a lot of choices of where to “get rid” of stuff.

Yesterday I was at a tea party in the afternoon.  A father and his three boys live in a beautiful house which is taken care of by their grandparents.  The grandparents live in an attached apartment during the week and go to their own home on the weekends.  They have tons of books which the boys have outgrown.  Papa Joe thinks it is a major sin to throw books out but Nanny Joy has the solution.  She has bagged the used books which she is going to take to a friend’s house because she has children of an age to enjoy the books.  So they won’t be in a landfill site and they will be reused.

Last night I was at my niece’s house for her daughter’s birthday party.  My sister took me into the kitchen to see how all the cupboards from her recent kitchen renovation have been reused in her daughter’s house.  A perfect solution!

I finished reading a book which my sister had already read and her husband put it with others to take to “The Barn” which is a shop which sells used things with the money raised going to help support the local hospital.

  • There are a few things I have learned about living simpler with less clutter around me.
  • If something isn’t useful or doesn’t give me pleasure, I don’t need to keep it.
  • I do NOT need a dinner service for 12.
  • If I have finished reading a book, and I don’t think I will reread it soon, I shouldn’t put it on my bookshelf.  Let someone else have the pleasure of reading it.
  • If I haven’t worn something for years and it is still in good condition, I will  give it away.
  • There are many places to recycle objects no longer wanted –  Goodwill, Value Village, and even Church bazaars.

An interesting book to read is The 100 Thing Challenge by David Bruno.  If you’re serious about downsizing, I recommend reading this book.

Tonight we are having a dinner party and I’m sure tomorrow I’ll have many more stories to tell about downsizing Bermuda style!


Bermuda Watercolour Scenes

Yesterday was so much fun.  My sister and I went out for the day, sightseeing all around Bermuda.

I’m going to have many photos to use for my watercolour paintings back in Toronto.  Here is a sampling.

The first photo is of my sister and me on the ferry on the way to Royal Dockyards where there are shops and museums.  We stopped for lunch and later on I tried to decide whether or not to rent a Segue for the afternoon.  At $75/hour, I decided not to!

The tree is on Front Street near the cruise ships, the buildings are in downtown Hamilton,  and the beautiful house was on the way home.

Houses in Bermuda are so colourful! My sister’s house is red with green shutters and my brother-in-law is painting it right now.  I’ll try to get a few photos of her wonderful house and pool later on today.  The “pool guy” is here to clean the pool so maybe later.

I am truly blessed to have such a beautiful place to visit!

Off for a day of sightseeing.


Today I arrived in Bermuda to sun and intense heat.  It is supposed to rain for much of my stay here so I feel good that I caught a few rays.

I was up before dawn even had a chance to crack and was on my way to the airport before 6 a.m.   Did you know that Bermuda is only 2 hrs and 17 minutes from Toronto?  The trip was quick and fun even if I had to use some of my teacher skills to calm a little girl during landing.  I took two of the barf bags and drew a couple of puppets on them and she played with them unti we came to the terminal building.  Here are some things I love about Bermuda:

  • Everything is so vivid, colourful, and vibrant
  • The trees and flowers are fragrant and every breeze brings a fresh scent of oleanders and hibiscus
  • The tree frogs sing nightly lulling me into a sense of well-being
  • People are friendly and do whatever they can to make me feel welcome
  • The blue green ocean is everywhere and it is ever-changing and beautiful

Here are some things about Bermuda that I am still trying to decide about.

  •  I can’t understand half of what they are saying, especially the children and young people!  Their accent is so cute but very hard to comprehend
  • They have a lot of bugs
  • They have ants
  • They have cockroaches as big as my back porch

My sister’s granddaughter, Tiahna, and her friend decorated my “suite” with pictures and drawings.  We had a huge family meal with my nieces and nephew and their families with everyone talking and laughing and telling stories.  I met some new people and caught up with family members.  We ate very well, with cold cuts, several salads and home made mac ‘n cheese.  Dessert was cupcakes made by Tiahna and Alexis.

Can’t wait for tomorrow.

Woman vs Machine

I won the battle of the computers vs humans today.

All I had to do was print out a boarding pass for my trip to Bermuda tomorrow.  Sounds easy, and computers were supposed to save us time, but someone at the airline designed the web pages to be as confusing as possible.  At one point I was questioning if I had ever even booked the trip. 

I got into the dreaded “loop” where I was going around in circles, always ending at the same place –  and never where I was able to print my boarding pass.   Finally I gave up and decided to phone the airline.  Ooooh, bad decision.  It started with a disembodied voice telling me if I wanted French to “dit francais”.  It kind of took me by surprise and I missed the next command, so I had to say “go back”.  Needless to say we “went back” several times and I was finally able to choose to speak with a “superagent” (I’m not kidding).  Trouble was , all the superagents were busy maybe chasing spies or something, so The Voice said they’d call me back in 14 to 21 minutes. 

I finally spoke to Rachelle and she was very helpful, telling me to go to a website I hadn’t even tried yet!  When I got to the site, I was asked for a lot of personal information, like what mark I got on my Grade 4 Math final exam, and what I ate for dinner on my twelfth wedding anniversary.  Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.  I don’t think I had to answer such personal questions since my passport application.

I guess they decided that they would, after all, allow me on to their precious 737 and I was able to print my boarding pass.

Computer – 0, woman – 1.

Until the next time!


I’ve been watching the Tour de France on TSN.  The riders are cycling for 21 days, over 3,000 km, and up and down the Pyrenees and Alps.  Some of them are sprinters and some are climbers.  It would be rare to find a person who did both very well.  Some win individual stages but are unlikely to even place in the final standings.  They strategize and work in teams to help the rider they think is most likely to be on the podium.  When you look at the race like this it becomes fascinating.

I need to be motivated to get in shape and to eat healthy.  I remember reading a quote from Clara Hughes, the Canadian woman who won medals in both winter Olympics (speed skating) and summer Olympics (bicycling).  She said that she knew there would be pain in the training stage, but that instead of stopping, she decided to embrace the pain.  Yesterday, Mark Cavendish, one of the Tour sprinters, was struggling through a brutal mountain stage.  If I understood him correctly he said that at 10 km to go he didn’t think he could do it but he pushed on and at 5 km to go, he thought maybe he’d make it.

For me there would be pain in exercising more than I already do, because for the past five years or so I have been suffering from osteoarthritis, in my shoulder, neck, and hip.  I did read, though, that arthritis sufferers who pushed themselves to keep moving and to exercise did better in the long run than those who sat back and took it easy.  I imagine that as you slow down your exercise, you would be able to do less and less.  I was always a sporty person, who ran, played baseball, basketball, and tennis, and skated and cross-country skied in the winter.  I have to take charge of my life in retirement and find ways to exercise in spite of the pain.

The eating part is easy (I wish)!  Eat better food.  I’m not sure why I find it difficult to make wise food choices and I’m not sure it even matters.  What matters is doing it.  I’m not going to try to be perfect or to expect myself to have all the answers quickly, but I do intend to start.

Right after I return from my trip to Bermuda!!!

I’ll try to do a post tomorrow but Tuesday is a travel day, so if I can figure out how to use my sister’s computer, you may expect a post on Wednesday.

Africa – Always in My Heart

Today is my forty-fifth wedding anniversary.  After a weekend honeymoon in Cape Breton, my new husband and I went to Montreal where we joined a group of volunteers going to Africa.  Our post was in Lusaka, Zambia where we worked for the next two years.  We were 21 years old and full of the enthusiasm and idealism of the young.  We wanted to make a difference and in a small way, I believe we did. 

I taught Math and English at a secondary school and during one of the school breaks, I wrote a Math text book for adult literacy.  John worked in Telecommunications and taught at a local technical college.  He also taught a Math course at the newly opened University of Zambia.

During another break, I also gave birth to our first daughter, Michelle, who was born naturally without medication or even the presence of a doctor!!!  When she was one month old, I went back to my teaching job.

Every day, we would have young people, barefoot and carrying their elementary school-leaving certificates, asking for a place in our school.  It was heartbreaking to have to say that there was no room. They realized how important an education was. 

Africa is so beautiful, but it is so much more.  We have a photo of ourselves, sitting at the edge of Victoria Falls.  The baboons were scampering around in the trees, the spray of “the smoke that thunders” soaked us but we were happy in our simple life.  We owned nothing except a bicycle and a rusty old car that cost us $240.  At the end of each month, if we had one kwatcha left over, we considered ourselves well off.  We still look at that photo when we want to remember the two people we were then and who we still want to be. 

When we came back to Canada two years later, we brought with us everything we owned in the world, a suitcase with a few articles of clothing and a baby.  I have memories of Africa and her people and landscape that will always be in my heart.  That’s who I am!

Africa, always in my heart.  Always.

Exercises for the Brain

We’ve all read articles on how we have to exercise our brains to keep them healthy.  There are TV shows and many books on the subject.  With the baby-boomers turning 65 this year, it seems as if every magazine has at least one article on this topic.

As a teacher, I have always striven to be a “lifelong learner”.  There were regular workshops, seminars, and conferences on a variety of topics. I always tried to put into immediate practice at least one thing that was learned at these sessions.  About fifteen years ago, I took part in a school-wide partnership with a company that was promoting the use of computers in schools.  Each teacher was given, free of charge, a lap top computer and printer to assist in classroom teaching.  I took that opportunity to sharpen my computer skills and I can say it was one of the best things I have done.

In retirement I have made a list of things to do and learn to keep my mind in shape.  One book recommended learning a new language.  I am going to learn Sign Language.  I have one grandson, Owen, who is profoundly deaf.  With the aid of bi-lateral cochlear implants, he can hear and speak very well.  Without those two devices, he can hear nothing.  If there is a prolonged power failure he would be unable to communicate. 

I always enjoyed math, especially algebra.  On the weekend we cycled to a used bookstore and I bought an old algebra text book which I have been using to relearn an old skill.  I have taken several classes at the local senior’s centre in drawing and watercolour painting.  Puzzles were a part of my upbringing and I try to do a couple of crossword or sudoku puzzles a day. 

I took on a personal challenge to read through the Bible in a year after my sister accomplished the same thing last year.  I got an app for my iPod Touch that let me choose a plan and I am happy to say I am on day 209, as of this morning.  My daughter, Carla has helped me get this blog started and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I encourage anyone of any age to take time for learning, exercise, and fun. 

Tomorrow, Saturday, is my forty-fifth wedding anniversary.  I don’t really know anyone personally who has been married as long as I have.  It’s something to be proud of because I have also worked at my marriage and have exercised my skills of love, caring, and support for my darling John.