Monthly Archives: June 2016

Kicking Ottawa’s ***

Last night at Jazzfest, Sharon Jones, a 60 year old cancer patient from SC, sang her brand of retro ‎funk/R&B into Ottawa history.  One of her band mates announced at the end of the show “Ottawa you just got your butt kicked by a 60 year old cancer patient.”
For 90 minutes she kept 6000 pairs of eyes and ears riveted on her expressive face, shimmering purple dress‎ and bald head. Recovering from recent chemo therapy, she sang one song aptly named ‘get up and get out’ which she explained is directed at her cancer.
She admitted when she gets a mike in her hand and an audience in front of her,‎ she goes crazy.  Not knowing if she was going to drop dead from exhaustion, we held our breath and our seats until right near the end.
Ex gospel singer and prison guard‎, she hit the big time at age 40 and has not looked back since. The 8 piece Dab-Kings were as tight as a drum and they too looked a little amazed at Sharon’s energetic antics. Dedicated to getting America up and dancing again, they knew their place and did not overshadow.  Two accompanying female singers added to the night’s experience which was already very hot.
On Saturday night we had our butts kicked as well by a virtuoso ‎Cape Breton fiddler named Anna Ludlow. With her 2 piece ensemble, she fiddled her way into our hearts at a great private concert. Wow, she sings and composes too. Tall and engaging, she also teaches the fiddle and demonstrated the subtle differences between Cape Breton and Ottawa Valley styles.  Again we sat glued to our chairs except for a daring few.
So give us another chance Anna and Sharon.  Once our butts heal from this drubbing, we will dance at once the next time, promise!!!‎

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Singing the Peg’s Praises

Those of you from Winnipeg, please correct me if I have understated anything that follows.

Just back from a great trip to “The Peg”, we are singing its praises. In the course of 5 short days we sampled what Winnipeg has to offer, enjoying it immensely!  We:
– saw son Kyle called to the Bar
– shopped at Hudson’s Bay
– played golf on a lynx course
– went to Mass at an aboriginal parrish
– swam at a community centre pool
– met Ashley and her mom, dad and brother
– ate Indian, Mexican, Italian and French food
– went to a Baptist Church Sunday worship
– visited the Human Rights Museum
– went to the Winnipeg Jazz Festival
– went to the Forks park
– walked, walked, walked
– got lost a couple of times
– finally figured out the streets leading out from Portage and Main‎ in a V shape
‎- forgot to eat some perogies
– had a great stay at the Best Western
Winnipeg is the geographic centre of North America.  It is very visibly culturally diverse.‎ Lot’s of newcomers and oldcomers. People here from many different cultures including many indigenous people. Everyone is living the Canadian dream!  Something we too often take for granted as Canadians.  People are quick to smile, laugh and chat.  They are free.  the sun is shining.  The friendliest big town in Canada.
Speaking of culture, the weekend we were there, Garth Brooks played 4 shows, the Winnipeg Symphony played for free in a park, there was a rodeo on‎, the Winnipeg Marathon was run and the TD Jazz Festival was on for free.

Dispelli‎ng the myth, we also did not notice any mosquitoes.  We love Winnipeg in the summer.  Will have to go back in winter to see those Jets play!


National Museum of Human Rights


The Witness Blanket of Residential Schools


The Red River with St. Boniface Cathedral at Back


Manitoba Parliament Buildings


Tribute to Nellie McClung


With friends at St. Kateri Tekawitha Parish


Visiting Kyle and Ashley’s church


At the Jazz Festival


Emptyful Sculpture by Bill Pechet and Chris Pekar by Library

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A Call to the Bar

The Call to the Bar is the 0fficial ceremony welcoming a new lawyer into the profession.  There used to be a bar or railing dividing students from practicing lawyers that students literally crossed over when they had completed all the requirements to practice.  The certificate of practice granted signifies the new lawyer’s competence to advocate or argue on behalf of another person in a court of law as a barrister (attorney) and also to practice as a solicitor in commercial or family law.

We saw no evidence of a bar in the ceremony we attended for our son Kyle but plenty of evidence of some very talented youth being called.

There were 5 or 6 Justices from the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench and 20 or so Provincial Court judges present. They all were volunteering their time to be there to witness the Call  of the 73 young lawyers.  As well the Presidents of the Manitoba Law Society and of the Manitoba Bar Association, there were some 250 or more family and friends.
The Pres. of the Law Society said to have fear and to seize the day with it. She reminisced about her own career, never having realized that she would succeed in getting accused people found not guilty and of one day becoming Pres of the Law Society. She advised strongly to ‘have fear’‎ and to let this motivate you to do the best job you can for individuals and for society.  There is a tremendous amount of responsibility practicing law and feeling fear is totally normal.
The Pres. of the Bar Association talked about ethics and the need to keep skills up in a changing world.‎ “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, he advised. He also talked about the important but illusive need for work life balance as a practicing lawyer.
One of the chief Justices talked in detail about the millennial generation now taking the reins from we baby boomers. They are not as materialistic as their parents, often are better educated, tend to value work life balance more and are passionate about social justice issues. They have the tremendous power of social media in their hands and will accomplish great things for our society.‎  Wow!
The MC chief justice congratulated all the new lawyers. The candidates made a public pledge to do good and were each called to the stage to receive their certificate of practice. After Oh Canada we adjourned to the lobby for coffee where each newly minted lawyer signed the official registration roll (4 copies no less!).
Ashley, Kyle’s girlfriend and her father Rick were there to support Kyle as were 2 of his professional colleagues. All in all, it was a great moment and there were lots of smiles and hugs. And even a few tears.
Kyle will be practicing criminal defence law and joining the firm of a colleague in Winnipeg who specializes in legal aid work.   What a great gift from a son to his family on Father’s Day!  We are so proud of you son!


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River vs. Ocean Cruising Part 2

Now that we have been home more than a week, we have some further thoughts on our recent Avalon Waterways European river cruise vs. the previous ocean cruises that we have taken.

If you are looking for sightseeing, a river cruise is excellent for that.  If you are looking for relaxation, we would recommend an ocean cruise.

We say this for a number of reasons:

  1. The river ship has limited facilities and space.  E.g., there was a single hot tub on the Avalon Artistry II that was rarely open.  The clearance restriction below the low bridges on the Main River necessitated its continuous closure.  The whole sky (top outdoor) deck was closed most of the time for similar safety reasons.  Hence if you stayed back on the ship rather than go ashore, there was very little to do.
  2. We all ate at the same time for dinner.  There is little flexibility as there is only a single service.  While we always had good seats and service, there was always a rush of folks to get to their favorite table which we found a bit nerve-racking at times.
  3. We opted for the Cat D cabin without the floor to ceiling windows which slid open.  We found the cabin too small for 2 people at 172 sq. ft.  Our friends the Clarke’s invited us to their Cat C “balcony” cabin and it felt much more spacious at 200 sq. ft..
  4. River cruises are naturally port intensive.  Every day we had one and sometimes two excursions lasting 2 to 3 hours.  There was a lot of walking up and down stairs and hills and usually on cobblestones.  It was exhausting!  We were amazed at the stamina of our fellow guests, many several years older than we are (mid sixties).  However by the end of the week, I think it is safe to say we were all pretty exhausted and in need of some down time!
  5. The excursions run on a tight schedule.  Bathroom breaks could be as much as 2 hours apart.  Furthermore, if you did not have coins for entry, you would start to panic.  There was little accommodation for people with mobility issues.
  6. The ocean cruise ships by their nature have many more public spaces, more flexibility in dining time (usually) and more “sea-days” to unwind, enjoy the ship and simply relax.
  7. The 45 locks or so we went through became repetitive. We often found ourselves staring at the dripping concrete side wall of the lock, only 18″ from our window.

What we liked on Avalon:

  • the service and staff were great, going out of their way to ensure we had a good time and everything we needed – great sense of humour
  • the entertainment was surprisingly good – a couple of local singer music nights that got us up and dancing on our tired feet
  • the educational aspects – overall the quality of the tour guides and on-board speakers was excellent – we learned a lot about history, art, architecture and people
  • wine was included with dinner
  • happy hour every evening was great
  • you can bring your own wine etc. on-board for consumption in your cabin
  • a couple of theme meals e.g., German sausage with music/costume were well done

Suggestions for improvement:

  • offer at least one spa day excursion, i.e., a half day visit to a local spa where you can sit and relax and soak those feet rather than walk, walk, walk
  • the ship needs more public space(s) just to get away from the crowd and relax a bit
  • at least one “river day” where you simply cruise and rest those weary feet
  • security seemed lax at times, it looked pretty easy for anyone to walk on board and not be challenged while we were in port
  • make it clearer up front that this is a “walking excursion” cruise and not suitable for people with mobility issues or weak bladders
  • a little less detail – sometimes the tour guides were too detailed
  • the white wine should be colder
  • the tapas night was disappointing, nothing really appealed to us

Would we go on another river cruise? Not likely unless it was a more relaxed pace or a particular theme or region we felt called to.  We prefer the increased flexibility, comfort, relaxation and incognito privacy of the larger ocean-going ships with greater choice of dining times, locales to hang out in and more sea days.  Depends what you enjoy and are willing to pay for.















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Poland is the Spark

As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I have a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness.  From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.

St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary, 1732 – Divine Mercy in My Soul


Nothing could be truer based on all we saw, felt and learned while in Poland.  Everywhere we went the churches were filled with people praying or in Mass.  The grave sites in Poland are a marvel to see.  All spit, polish and decorated with flowers and even some burning candles.  The Poles honour God, their families, the Church and their ancestors.  It is a lesson for all of us.

We celebrated 15 Masses in 14 days on our pilgrimage.  Some of these were in the most hallowed of places e.g. in the Chapel of our Lady of Czestochowa.  Pope John Paul II on this shrine:

“Czestochowa is a special place for all Poles. Here stands the national shrine called Jasna Gora – the Bright Mountain.  This name refers to the light that dispels darkness.  The source of this light is the presence of our Lady in her miraculous image.  Faith of Our Lady’s protection gave us the strength to outlast and triumph over a terrible Swedish invasion, the Nazis and the Communists.  Poland has not perished nor will it perish because Poland believes, Poland prays, Poland has the Bright Mountain.

Communist Party authorities knew what Jasna Gora meant to the Poles. Cardinal Primate Wyszynski and the Polish episcopate initiated a national pilgrimage with the Black Madonna to visit every parish and community in Poland.  The Communist authorities tried to stop it by “arresting” the icon.  The pilgrimage continued with the empty frame for the next 25 years! The frame with no picture was a silent sign of the lack of religious freedom. This strengthened the resolve of the Polish people to pray fervently for its restoration. All Polish Catholics make the pilgrimage to Czestochowa.”

John Paul II, Rise, Let us be on our our Way, 2004

We saw it, we breathed it, we knew it.  Their example has strengthened our resolve not to take our Faith Nor our Church for granted.  We will try to be better Christians, better Catholics, better people.  Poland is the Spark.










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