Monday, October 29, 2007

Bright is the Moonbeam

On Monday night, October 22, the moon shone brightly into the window as we lay snuggled in our comfy cruiser bunk. We thought about Amy Quesnelle, young mother of three, about to make her passage from this world as she lay in her own bed at Lissard House, the cancer hospice in our hometown. How like the bright moon is Amy in the dark night of her life, a soft and beautiful strength one can only behold and admire. We prayed for her and with her, grateful to have witnessed this life and to have been renewed by her light, grateful for the power of the spirit that will never separate us in God’s love.

The next day Amy died. The next day she rose to a new day beyond the horizon. We remember her, claim her still, and give thanks.

Please join us in prayer for John, Matthew, Scott, Sydney, Amy's mother, Elizabeth, and her extended family.

Though much is taken, much abides ..

One equal temper of heroic hearts

Made weak by time and fate ..

But strong in will to strive, to seek, and not to yield.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, October 28, 2007


“Nothing’s lost in truth”. This is what mother, “Dudie”, would say whenever something was misplaced or had gone astray. It became an incantation’ in our household that could mysteriously reveal the presence of these things eventually.

But life in faith over the years has revealed the deeper meaning of this statement. None of us are truly lost from each other by distance or time or life circumstance or death. Reunions are a celebration of this truth and a metaphor for the cosmic communion of God’s love. This trip is allowing us to engage in this reality in such wonderful ways. The Landers, the Kempfers, the Jays, and Jim Akeroyd are reunions we’ve reported. Since our last ‘blog’ entry, there have been more!

Lil, Joel, daughter - Whitney (daughter - Emily in California), Judy, Peter

Judy and Joel Kimmel, life long lake friends, have another retreat they frequent in Maine. “Giggleswich” is a cottage high on a hill looking out upon Potter’s Pond and the Longfellow Mountains (an Apppellation range which includes Sugarloaf) where Judy’s parents and another group of friends have summered since early in the 1900’s. As avid Penlakers, we could not have understood how anyone would give up vacation time to another place. But now, we understand! Have an autumn look below.

Giggleswich (1) and view from the front deck (2)

Thank you, Joel and Judy and Whitney! If the fates are with us, we shall see you again next spring in your home state of California!

After farewells, we headed west on Route 2 through the White Mountains to Meridan, New Hampshire. This is the home of one of Lil’s favourite cousins, Gretchen Eberhart and her husband, Michael O’Leary, who are in the midst of finishing the building of their own fabulous hill house. Here it is near completion:

Gretchen’s daughter, Molly, is the closest for Andrew and Tim Moffat to a real sister, all of them having traveled around the world together in 1903-04. (Currently, Molly Cherington, is moving from Denver to New York to seriously pursue her already budding singing career.) The weather was overcast during our visit, somewhat diminishing their own wonderful view. But can you imagine coming to the dinner table to feast on this scene?

Lil and Gretchen and Michael

Wednesday night (October 10th) Michael and Gretchen took us out for tappas and to a play, entitled “How the Other Half Loves”. It is a hysterical British comedy involving the mistaken understandings of three couples, in which two scenes are being simultaneously enacted on stage – keeping the audience constantly on their toes. What a great tonic. Thank you, ‘cuzins, for a great time in the midst of your busy working schedules.

Gretchen, we are finally writing this blog after weeks of internet difficulty. It is Sunday, October 28th, and your beloved Red Sox have just won the World Series. Wow! Congratulations! (Gretchen's son, Ben Cherrington, is Manager of the Red Sox farm teams and recruiters). We have been within the boundaries of the "Red Sox" nation for the last few weeks and know that all the fans will be glad to finally have your sleep back!

Here are some neat scenes from walks around Gretchen and Michael's place:

Just over an hour drive from Gretchen & Michael, down Rt. #91, we arrived for a week with Eloise and David at their home in Vermont. In this case, we wish to thank all of you who have known about Eloise’s brush with death this spring (a 3 month heart infection that led to two open heart surgeries and parts replacements) and have continued to uphold her in your prayers. She is a sister over 30 pounds lighter than I last saw her and still gaining energy and strength. But definitely, she’s on the slow journey back to full health. We are so very grateful that we have yet been given retirement time to share with her and with David. “How can we keep from singing!”

Eloise back at her piano and about to begin teaching again!

David at the door of his garage office. The sign reads,
"No one gets in to see the wizard - Not no one - Not no how!"

Peter with Eloise in front of Chevrier's 200 year old home

"Sisters, sisters, there we're never such devoted sisters" - on the cottage deck

In our jammies in front of the fire with pillow reading, "Believe in miracles"

The past week we have been on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and biked around Cape Cod. More reflection on this later. But in the meantime, .. our most recent serendipidy .. another reunion, this time with Lil's high school buddy, Mardee Strahorn Xifaras. Though we spent time with Mardee and her family here in New Bedford, Massachusettes over 30 years ago, we have all been too busy with life to attend school reunions or keep in touch. In the intervening years, Mardee (and husband John) have raised three young adults, while maintaining a law practise in conjunction with a lot of active political work for Democratic hopefuls. How great to close the gap with many stories revisited, while cheering on the Red Sox win. Mardee is due in court by 8 AM .. so if I ever hope to be up to say goodbye .. better put the wrap on this. Mardee, John and Mary ... "Thank you!"

Lil and Mardee - New Trier Class of '63 - looking ever onward

If you are still reading this, 'thank you' for your patience .. not only in waiting for this update .. but for wading through it! We believe ourselves to be back in business as far as the blog is concerned. Hope this finds you all upheld .. and 'Happy All Saints'!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Crying the Blogg'in Blues

There once were two travel'in bloggers
Who'd have rather been marathon joggers
For the 'gobbledigook'
And all that mistook
Was akin to a beating by floggers.

A techie from Dartmouth named Josh
not haughty, unhelpful or posh
was a hero this day
amidst our dismay
And brought up the lost Net, "O my gosh!"
Dear Friends across Cyberspace,
We apologize for how long the gaps have become between blog entries, but we are having big problems. Our laptop, which contains all our pictures and prose, though quite able to connect to wireless, remains unable to bring up any page to work on. We have been very frustrated. To those who have asked, "Have there been any down moments?" .. the answer is "yes" in that our system of communication is not working. We have two blog entries that we cannot publish unless we put them on CD and use other people's computers. Not a happy alternative.
Yesterday we had a brilliant moment when Josh Shaw, who works at Dartmouth for their library, installed a new browser and network, believing that all the problems had to do with "Explorer". It worked great until we got back here to home base at sister Eloise and David's home, when once again even the new network could not connect. "Thank you anyway, Josh. You were a saving grace and have renewed some hope." If we can get this immediate problem solved, then we can move on to learn how to put all our pictures on the web album, which we have 'advertized' on the masthead of this blog.
For those of you who know how very ill my sister was last spring, I am happy to report that she "has been raised". Though very much engaged still in the healing process, she is able to put in a full day with the rest of us and remains a wonderful cook, able to fatten us all up for the slaughter. We have had a great week here in Saxton's River, Vermont, the report of which we trust will eventually appear on this blog with pictures. So, too, you will see reuions with friends and relatives that preceeded our establishment of this base camp.
So give us another few days of grace, and in the meantime ... "Thank you for your healing prayers for my sister." Hope all is going well for you!
With love across the miles,
'Lil' and Peter

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Safe Harbour in Saint John with Saint James (new addition)

Hello Everyone!

We are fondly thinking of you on this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend! Our welcome into this port on our journey has been graciously offered by Jim Akeroyd and his visiting son, 'little Jim' (6'7"). Many of you will know that Peter and I had Jim and Barb McLeod's wedding back in 1997. On June 24 (2007) after a long and brave battle with a brain tumour, we gathered again to send our wonderful friend, Barb, on her eternal way. She is both greatly missed and greatly present in our hearts through the power of God's Spirit. So here we are, thankful together in the strange ways of faith.

Jim resides in Saint John 75% of the time, as his work involves a key role in the tremendously complicated job (both technically and politically) of refurbishing and refitting the Candu reactor here at Point Lepreu nuclear station, for a safe 30 year future. Today we had a most interesting introduction into this brave new world, by touring Jim's work place and having the many aspects of this project skillfully explained by him with a patience well appreciated by us, given the understanding level we don't bring to the subject!

But he has also been a wonderful guide through the insides of this, his delightful second home. So here following, we share with you a few pictures from our mutual escapades together:

(Jim's harbour condo - the low building on the water's edge)

(The two Jims and Elizabeth from below on the boardwalk)

(from the condo deck)

(Would you believe this picture of a cruise ship

about to dock at "Long Wharf" just outside Jim's window?)

(Canada's oldest market - 1876 - ceiling designed like a ship's hull)

(the entire old city is networked by inside walkways)

(the library, swim complex and museums are all part of the network)

("Reggie's" - a Saint John institution. Here we are enjoying a lobster roll and the hospitality of current proprietor, Phil!)

(The band shell at King's Square)

(famous Saint John reversing falls just before low tide)

(a depiction of the falls both incoming and outgoing)

We are planning to attend a Thanksgiving Service together tomorrow morning. Time to hit the hay.

Good Morning (Sunday, October 7, 2007). This is the early sun from Jim's deck as we acknowledge that today is Peter's 63rd birthday! Happy Birthday, Peter!!!

("Who, me?" ... "Yes, you!!")

(later the same day .. birthday lunch under a Horse Chestnut tree in St. Andrew's, NB ..
just before we cross the border into Maine ... where 'Elizabeth' takes
on her childhood name again 'Lil")

Hope everyone is enjoying these unseasonably warm autumn temperatures. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! And, thank you, Jims', for a great time. First ever that our thanksgiving turkey was upstaged by salmon and a full plate of mussels!

Peter and Elizabeth

Time & Tides in Nova Scotia

For five days (September 29 – October 4) we’ve been rocked in the cradle of Canadian history. At old Port-Royal we saw the reconstruction of a French settlement established in 1605, that opened the way for the coming of immigrants from the south of France.

‘L’Acadie’ was the new home for those whom we know as the ‘Acadians’, primarily French but joined by Basque, Spanish, Portugese, Irish, Scots and native North Americans through marriage. They were skilled farmers, reclaiming the fertile tidal flats by a system of dykes (‘aboiteaux’) made by rocks and mud laced with grass roots. Engineered with unique trap doors on the ends of hallowed out tree trunks, ground water was allowed to drain out the dykes to sea, but sea water couldn’t get back in! We walked several kilometres out the remnants of one of these, to the beach at Advocate, on the Glooscap Trail. Impressive.

(dyke setting out from behind the United Church)
(example of the land reclaimed by dyking)

Later, at the marvellous museum at Grand PrĂ©, we spent time absorbing the fuller Acadian story. What a losing proposition it was for these folks, committed as they were to a pacifist and neutral position, to be caught in the middle between the warring English, French and Mi’Kmaq nations. In truth it was their Catholicism and refusal to take an unconditional oath to the Queen that worried the eventual British Protestant administrators. It was a time when religious adherence was more important than language or ethnicity in determining loyalty.

(Commerative Church at Grand Pre celebrating the Acadians)

And so in 1755 the decision to expel the Acadians led to their deportation. Would you believe it was carried out by 2000 New England troops, who then sent in their own planters to inherit the land made possible by these people? How come this story was not a part of the “American History” I was taught in school back in the U.S.? 10,000 were sent away and many died from shipwreck, disease and starvation.

(painted depiction of families being removed from their lands and taken away in ships)
It’s a tragic tale told poignantly in video and display at this museum. Maybe Peter and I will catch up with some of their ‘Cajun’ descendents later in Louisiana in January.
Annapolis Royal provided wonderful walking tours of the first colonial capital before the founding of Halifax, a bustling Victoria port of trade and commerce. The two oldest wooden homes are still here (1708 & 1709), along with a slew of ‘melt your mouth’ houses, many of which are now bed and breakfast inns. And the historic gardens are not to be missed.

(oldest wooden house in Canada - 1708)

(Sinclair Inn - earliest surving Acadian building in Canada, with halographic "ghosts" in the basement, who tell you the entire history of the building)

(exquisite 200 year old farmhouse with Georgian decor)

(Historic Gardens)

And of course, ship building. The “Great Age of Sail” was well documented at the “Ottawa House (1765) on Partridge Island and in picturesque Lunenburg, at the Fisheries Museum.

Here’s an authentic Nova Scotia tale, one of so many other ship tales, told about a 3 leaf schnooner built at “Spencer’s Island” in 1861. It’s called “The Mystery of the Mary Celeste”
and goes like this:
On November 7, 1872, she set sail from New York City, bound for Genoa, Italy with a cargo consisting of 1100 bottles of pure alcohol. Captain Benjamin Briggs had his wife and daughter aboard, along with a crew of seven men. On December 4th (27 days later) the crew of another ship found her drifting aimlessly off course with no crew at all aboard. There were no signs of piracy. Everything was in place. Coats were hanging up, tobacco lay out on tables ready to smoke, and loose change was about. Everyone had vanished without a trace! Two members of the discovery crew piloted the ship to Gibraltar, where a judicial hearing speculated on murder and betrayal. Yet the disappearance of the captain’s family and crew was never explained, nor were any of them ever seen again.

For 10 more years the ‘Mary Celeste’ continued to sail the North Atlantic, but was plagued with misfortune and had difficulty raising a crew for this now infamous ‘ghost ship’. In 1885 she was lost on a reef in Haiti .. the same fate, by the way, of the most famous competitive schooner in Nova Scotian history”! That’s right, .. the “Bluenose”, 17 time winner of the heralded “Fisherman’s Cup Trophy”, lost on a Haitian reef on January 28, 1946. Bluenose II, an exact replica and symbol of Nova Scotia around the world, does not race, as there is no desire to tamper with the fame and glory won by Bluenose. Peter and I were present in Lunenburg on the last day the crew was putting Bluenose II to bed for the winter
(though, sadly, we missed her last sail).
(painting of the Bluenose, followed by the real thing!)

For your future traveling interest, we packed a lunch for a walk into “The Ovens”, a park out on a peninsula near Lunenburg. We just happened to read about this place while passing by, so decided to give it a try. Wow! It’s a MUST! Well groomed trails take you out to the cliffs and down steps into caves, where the mighty crashing of the tidal waves against the back walls, sounds like the roaring of great lions or the blasting of cannons. These ‘sudden finds’ and the time to explore make this trip so special.


With wonderful Eberhart relatives in Maine, who we visited periodically throughout my youth, I have been well acquainted with tides. But, the Bay of Fundy?! It is not to be believed without seeing. It’s unique funnel shape and position near the 45 degree latitude between north and south, give it the world’s largest tides. Here are a few statistics with pictures to prove. In 6 hours and 13 minutes the tide travels 186 miles up the length of the Bay, rising 1 inch per minute. 100 billion tons of water flow through this channel on each run of the tide. If the full power of this tide could be harnessed, it would be enough to supply the world’s current energy needs three times over.

(same boats at same wharf six hours apart)

We visited the only hydro plant that has attempted to harness Fundy’s tidal power built in 1965 on the causeway between Annapolis Royal and Granville Ferry. It is one of only 3 in the world, and a modest experiment. Prohibitive costs and concern for the environmental impact, have kept future developments of this nature at bay (ha!) Sometimes wisdom does prevail over galloping appetities.

“Farewell to Nova Scotia, the seabound coast.” Perhaps the best way to end this blog entry is with the words that we saw engraved on a memorial in Advocate:

Let it be known to all
That the communities of Advocate, Apple River,
Fraserville, New Salem and Spencers Island, Nova Scotia
Some of the oldest settled communities in our nation,
Named and charted in 1607 by French Explorer,
Samuel de Champlain –
Claimed to be visited in 1398 by
Prince Henry Sinclair
(from the Orkneys when wintering over here)
Are communities wedged between forest and sea
That for generations have lived
By the benefits and dangers of the sea –
Whose present generation wishes to show appreciation of their
Long and proud heritage
Herby dedicate this stone in memorial
To all those seamen who lost their lives
In pursuit of their livelihood.
October 10, 1999

(Advocate United Church which celebrated a 600 year Anniversary, based on the history of Prince Henry Sinclair, alleged to have been here in 1398)