Tuesday, April 19, 2022

All Booked Up

Riverside Cedar Campground May 2019

Today we booked the final campground for the trip west to Alberta. Some provinces let you book so many days in advance of your arrival while others have an opening date when reservations for the whole summer can be made. 

Last week we booked in Birds Hill Provincial Park near Winnipeg Manitoba. We waited over an hour to get into the reservation system. I must have hit refresh at the right time as I got in about 5 to 10 minutes before my sister. As luck would have it, we're arriving there on a weekend and this is a very popular park for people in Winnipeg. You can make up to three reservations so I tried to book my sister's site as well but you need all of their account information to do it.  Luckily, the system gives you nearly an hour to finish your reservations so I grabbed two sites close to each other and held them in my cart until she got on, then I released one which she was able to grab. It did turn out that one of the sites I got was one we had looked at; both look pretty decent and are on the inside of the loop so not far from the toilets.

Today we booked at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. The system was already up but you couldn't book until 7 am Central Time. There we're arriving mid week so it wasn't as much of a hassle getting sites, we got our second choice of the pairs we had picked. We're only there two days before heading to Tillebrook Provincial Park outside Brooks, Alberta.  Tillebrook is more of a pass through park being only 1 kilometer off of the Trans Canada Highway but it looks quite nice. Most of the sites are pull thru, great when you're just passing through.  Tillebrook is only 6 kilometers from Brooks, Alberta and just over 50 kilometers from Dinosaur Provincial Park, our last camping stop before Airdrie where we have family. Stopping at Tillebrook will let us have a lazy morning, then we can head into Brooks to do some grocery shopping before heading to Dinosaur.

We'll be in Dinosaur for four nights. Our sister who lives in Airdrie and her brother in law are going to join us. We were lucky to get three sites together there as well. Again, we'll be arriving on a weekend so what we did was book for an extra day, that meant we could book a day earlier for our dates, and then we changed the reservation for the correct arrival date. Much better to pay the $10 change fee, than not have a site. Had we waited until the next day we might not have gotten sites at all, when I looked there were only three sites in the whole park for our dates. I mentioned to a friend that we would be there so she checked online and was able to get a site behind us for three nights. 

We haven't yet decided how long we'll stay out west and what route we'll take back. Now that you don't need COVID testing to cross the border we might come back through the States. I guess we'll have to think about that soon. Kind of sad, that you just can't take off and go camping on a whim anymore. I guess we'd find places to stay even without reservations. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

It might have been

 "The saddest words of tongue or pen...it might have been."

Today might have been Keltic's tenth birthday.  We couldn't let it go by without a celebration. Happy Birthday to my Pumpkinhead, you were really such a good boy!

Liam and Teddy were happy to celebrate your birthday and to eat some apple cheddar pupcakes in your honour. I don't think they were as happy about getting pictures taken. I bought you some birthday balloons because ten is a milestone birthday. I hope you like them. 

We put a chair at the table just for you, I hope you were able to join us. I'm sure you did.

Teddy and Liam even wore their new St Patrick's Day ties for the party. And Liam didn't even steal a pupcake when I took them off the table, not like someone else did, right Keltic?

I miss you lots, just think what might have been...

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Family Stories

This morning my sister messaged us about some art collectors that were looking paintings from Prince Edward Island artists and wondered if they had any of our great-uncle's paintings. She then found an article about a church that's being renovated into apartments, the article on the church mentioned that the altar murals had been painted by our great uncle, Rev. Adrien Arsenault. Adrien Arsenault is my maternal grandmother's younger brother. I knew that I had seen a picture of these murals and set out to find them.

St Mary's of the People

Adrien Arsenault was a prolific painter, poet, musician, and professor of fine arts at St Dunstan's University now the University of Prince Edward Island. Sadly, I don't have any of his paintings. My brother does have two books of his poetry that our mother had. 

Rev. Adrien Arsenault - St Dunstan's Faculty Portrait 1961-62
Adrien liked to try all kinds of techniques in his paintings. I remember one that my grandmother had, where he had pulled string through paint on a folded canvas. I found a couple of his paintings online.

Painted while a student at seminary college, circa 1945

Easter Morning Cantata (Government of PEI)
Adrien was quite renowned in PEI especially within the artistic community. I always felt though that he must of been a little isolated from his family. My grandmother always called him Father Adrien even though he was her little brother. As a child, I called him Father Adrien too but later on I just called him Adrien, he seemed more comfortable with that. I wish I could have known him more as an adult. 

I found this online about him written for an art review in 1964.

"Rev Adrien Arsenault - Chair of the French and Fine Arts Department at St Dunstan's University.  Rev. Arsenault was an interesting personality in Canada's art scene at the time. He had degrees in art and drama from Laval University, the Sorbonne, and the University of Washington. He was a professor at St Dunstan's from 1963 to 1969 and then went on to teach at the University of Prince Edward Island. He was the province's representative on the Canada Council for the Arts and was one of the moving forces in the building of the Confederation Centre for the Arts. He was also an artist in his own right, working in various media, including acrylics."

Below is the translation of an article written by Georges Arsenault for the La Voix Acadienne published in Nov 2019.

"This little boy became one of the greatest Acadian artists on the Island. He is Adrien Arsenault (1925 -1989), from Saint-Raphael, in the Evangeline Region. In 1952, he was ordained to the priesthood and immediately became a professor of French and English and director of the theatre company at St Dunstan's University. He taught French and art history at the University of Prince Edward Island. A poet, playwright and musician, Father Adrien was a prolific writer. He preferred to write in English to be read by his colleagues and friends in Charlottetown.

His colleague, Professor Rose-Marie Berardinelli, translated a few of his books, including one called "I am My Own Seasons" (1984).

In some of the poems in this collection, Father Adrien evokes memories of his childhood, including this one:

My mother liked flowers very much
but my grandfather always entertained 
that she shouldn't waste good earth space
as irresponsibility as she did.
Everything else would have been better
he used to say; even onions.

How thankful I was then
that my grandfather hadn't created the world.

There would have been no butterflies
no buttercups, no daises.
Just plain crops.

He might have also cancelled out the rainbow
and decided that birds - like children -
should remain silent at all times.

So I added to my night prayer
Thank you, God, for not consulting my grandfather
when you made the world."

Portrait of Adrien painted by his friend Henry Purdy
Father Adrien was the officiant at my parent's wedding. 

Sadly Adrien passed away at a rather young age. He's buried in the cemetery at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in PEI. My sister and I visited his grave site during the Arsenault family reunion.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Monday, February 21, 2022

Living with COVID

Well, like many Canadians I spent much of the weekend glued to the main stream news. Fake news, the protestors called it. I'm certain that I can say the majority of Canadians are tired of living with COVID and all the necessary restrictions we have on our lives. But most of us do not express that frustration by taking a city hostage and demanding that the federal government lift all mandates. That's not how our democracy works. And in any case, even if Canada didn't have any COVID restrictions, unvaccinated people would still find their ability to travel very limited. 

All that said, I'm hopeful that we'll see a more normal life this year. COVID restrictions are being slowly lifted once again. Even the federal government has changed COVID testing requirements for travelers and lifted the advisory for non-essential travel. My sister, her husband and I are in the middle of planning our trip west to Alberta and our thoughts now are to come back through the States.

Getting back to a more normal life as gathering limits have been eased, I went ahead with my Ground Hog New Year's Eve. Some people decided not to come as they were still worried about being in a group and what that could mean for elderly or otherwise immune compromised family and friends. That's okay, I respect those decisions. I decorated the house and put some bubbly on ice. We never did have the toast but it was nice to have friends over again. I think it was the first time in over a year I had anyone other than my sister and brother in law or contractors in the house.

Last night, I again had a small group of friends over for dinner. Two of us are retired and two work from home and all of us are vaccinated so I doubt there's a big risk that anyone had COVID. One of the ladies is vegan so we had salad, vegetable chili and chips with an assortment of cookies, cupcakes (some vegan) and fruit for dessert. I didn't take any pictures.  The chili was wonderful but I'm glad I didn't put in as much chili powder as the recipe called for, it was spicy enough with a little bit less. I also put in less beans, corn and tomatoes than the recipe called for. 

Vegan Chili Recipe

We had a good time chatting, hopefully as the weather gets better, I'll be able to host a few more people since we'll be able to move outdoors.

Movie theatres and restaurants have been open for the last few weeks with capacity limits and with vaccine certificates required but they'll be allowed to go to full capacity this week and vaccine certificates, if things stay as they are, won't be required for much longer. Not sure, I'll want to go to a restaurant right away but maybe to the theatre. And a friend and I are still planning on visits to the Museum of Natural History (she has a membership) and to the War Museum (as a vet I get in free along with up to two escorts). Both of these museums had to close during the Freedom Convoy and during the police operations to disperse them. Mask mandates will still be enforced indoors, probably through the spring but I'm kind of getting used to that. 

I'm thinking that perhaps it's time to consider international travel again, a river cruise on the Danube or a self driving trip to Scotland. But not right away; I think by spring or fall of 2023 things should be good and I'll be more comfortable about traveling.

So for now that's my life with COVID, dog agility lessons on Wednesdays and infrequent outings or gatherings with a small number of friends and family.  I don't feel that the government has taken my freedoms, that was pretty much my life before COVID too, although I have missed international travel.