Ferry to Province # 10

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June 23, 2022, Doyles, Newfoundland- I got up and out the door, at Fair Isle Motel, as quickly as possible-making time for a decent breakfast at The Herring Choker, in the village of Nyanza, about eight kilometers east of Whycocoming. The place specialize in natural fare, so I did nto feel the need to eat again, until dinner.

Arriving at the ferry gate, in North Sydney, I had to wait for another party, whose documents were apparently not in order. When it came my turn, I was through the gate in short order and ended up in the last parking slot on Level 3. My reserved seat, up on Level 9 of the ship, was a window seat on the ocean. The service on this vessel was excellent, with a little treat of soft-serve ice cream, in mid-afternoon, and a fine dinner of cod au gratin, salad and steamed vegetables about two hours later.

So, I watched the departure from Cape Breton Island and the arrival in Newfoundland.

Thus, around 6:30 p.m., Newfoundland Daylight Time. This time zone is 1/2 hour ahead of Atlantic Daylight Time, which is observed in the other three Atlantic provinces, on the eastern North Shore of Quebec and in its own mainland section, Labrador. Atlantic Daylight Time, in turn, is an hour ahead of Eastern Daylight Time. So, when it’s 5 p.m. in Boston and Buffalo, it’s 6 p.m. in Shediac and Sydney, as 6:30 p.m., in Port aux Basques and L’Anse aux Meadows.

Newfoundland & Labrador was the last Canadian province I had not visited-and it’s also the last to have become a part of Canada. In 1949, still beset by economic difficulties, the people of the then-British colony voted, albeit narrowly, to become a part of Canada. The first Provincial Premier was Joseph Roberts Smallwood, who led the province until 1972. It was he who spearheaded the vote to approve confederation with Canada. He was a champion of hydroelectric power and promoted pulp and paper milling as a means to expand the prosperity of the average person in the province. His policies, like most, had mixed results.

I am staying, this evening, in a lovely cottage, part of Codroy Cottage Country, overlooking the Grand Codroy River, which empties into the Atlantic, not far from here. The cottages are as modern, and tech-savvy, as any in either North America or Europe. I am pleased to see the level of comfort that the people of this valley seem to enjoy, though the owner of a store across the street from the cottages pleaded with me to buy something from his grocery. I needed a few things, and so obliged him in that way. The Devine family, who run Cottage Country, present a cordial, if reticent, demeanour. This is fine, as I’m only a guest here for one night. I must say, though, that this would be a fabulous venue for a week’s stay.

Thus has my five day initial visit to Newfoundland begun. So far, it’s lovely! (As for the photos, I found a venue where I could upload them, with no fuss, elsewhere. CC has good WiFi, but motels in Atlantic Canada tend to be limited, in their uploading capabilities.)

Unrecognized Truth; Unparalleled Beauty

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June 21, 2022, Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia- As I was finishing up a full and sumptuous breakfast, at Comfort Inn, Fredericton, I got a message to go to the Legislative Assembly House, in the New Brunswick capital’s centre. Not knowing why the message was insistent, I went there after checking out of the motel. I had heard that today was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as Solstice.

There was a modest, but growing crowd, in front of the Assembly House. A leader of the Maliseet Nation, Allan Polchies, gave a direct, though open-hearted invitation to the Premier of New Brunswick to re-instate the terms “unceded and unsurrendered” into Truth and Reconciliation documents, especially those dealing with the revelations of abuse and neglect at Boarding Schools and Day Schools for First Nations children, across the Dominion of Canada (as well as in the United States), over the past 150 years. My take: No matter what the relationship between people, there is always room for improvement. This is especially true of ties between people of different cultural and ethnic groups. No one can truthfully say: “I’ve done enough already. Put it to rest!”

I took in a bit of the scene around Fredericton, underscoring what Chief Polchies was stressing in his talk. The land, the water, and all forms of life are more sacred to a good many First Nations people than they are to those who have a transactional view of this life. I am a mutt, so to speak, and can’t boast physical lineage that leaves me with more than 1/64 First Nations blood. Quantum, though, does not have anything to do with genetic memory, and my bent has always gravitated towards forests, nature, even flowing water.

Here is a view of the St. John River, flowing through Fredericton.

Below, are some scenes from Wilmot Park, west of the Town Plat.

Rail bridge, across St. John River, Fredericton

Next on the itinerary was Shediac, a town on the east coast of New Brunswick, from whence my paternal grandfather’s Acadian forebears moved to Lynn, MA, when that city first became industrialized, in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Here a few Shediac scenes. The town is a vibrant summer getaway, for both urban New Brunswickers and people from Montreal and Quebec City.

Pascal Poirier was a Shediac native, who was Canada’s longest-serving Senator, putting in 48 years, 6 months and 17 days. He was a scholar of Acadian history, putting to rest many myths about his native ethnic group.

Entry to Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac, NB
Exercise incline, Pascal Poirier Park, Shediac
An image, creating an image, Shediac Centre
Shediac Harbour, on Northumberland Strait

As I sat on a lone park bench, watching the gulls and a small amount of marine activity, it occurred to me that the sea will not be far from my awareness, for the next eight days. With that, I got a couple of dozen gluten-free cookies, from Culinanny Bakery, in Shediac’s Centre-Ville Mall, to hopefully give to friends in Cape Breton, and headed off to that storied island.

I had a couple of small surprises, along the way. The Cobequid Valley, of western Nova Scotia, has a toll road, operated by the Provincial Transportation Authority. It’s the only non-bridge toll that I’ve seen in Canada, thus far. A young man walked out of a donut shop, barefoot. I have not seen “no shoes” get service in a food shop, until today.

A far more pleasant surprise awaited in the small village of Whycocomagh, one of the first communities one encounters on Cape Breton, approaching from the west. Bayside Restaurant offers some of the most delectable seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Essentially, generous portions of fish and assorted shellfish, milk and onions-no potatoes. The other ingredients are Chef Charlene’s secret. My lodging for tonight and tomorrow night is equally superb: Fair Isle Motel, with a large kitchenette as well as firm, chiropractor-approved mattresses. The hosts are a wonderful family of seven.

Tomorrow, I will experience the Cabot Trail-at least the automotive part, and hopefully meet up with some local Baha’is.

Fathering, without Paternalizing

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June 19, 2022, Montreal- Today was a fitting confluence of observances: Father’s Day, celebrating the best of those who help raise a next generation and who continue to offer guidance to the men and women they helped rear, and Juneteenth (which will be officially observed tomorrow, as a National Holiday in the U.S.), wherein paternalism, the opposite of good fathering, took a well-deserved hit, with enslaved people in Texas finally getting the word that they had been freed-more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation-and two months after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army, at Appomattox.

The concept of a person making decisions FOR other people has been with us for at least 10,000 years. It has many permutations, and will die hard. We are, however, entering an Age of Fulfillment, in which individuals are growing into humans who can make their own decisions. There will be a lot of mess involved-that’s the nature of growth. Mistakes will happen, at all levels, yet hopefully lessons will be learned. Those who see life through a progressive lens can be just as authoritarian as their polar opposites who seem to want to turn back the clock.

Paternalism, or excessive maternalism, for that matter, serve to debilitate the very people one secretly wishes would stand up and do what’s right. The rub comes, when the domineering one realizes that maybe the children or teens are doing precisely what is right-for their lives. Teaching people the thinking process is far more valuable than pontificating on what to think.

My Father’s Day, with a son who is away in a training exercise, was spent being proud of what he is achieving. I also returned to a city that taught me some hard lessons, four years ago-at exactly the time when I learned them. This year, Montreal was far easier to navigate. I had the satisfaction of visiting the shore of Lake Ontario, at Kingston, where I spent last night, and the north bank of the St. Lawrence River, at Prescott, Ontario (“That’s PresCOTT, there, Yank!”). I also was able to put the Saturn in a highly secure garage for the evening, once arriving in Montreal. Father’s day, my way, was capped by a wonton supper at Chef B.Lee, on St. Catherine Street, in the heart of Montreal’s Asian Food District (“Chinatown” would be an inadequate term here, as Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese eateries are just as common).

It’s been a good day, all in all. Here are a few scenes from the course of the journey.

The most important aspect of this park, however, is the newest and oldest, at the same time: The Alderville First Nation, a Mississauga Ojibway band, blessed the area with one of its artists and healers, Terence Radford, who created a Spirit Garden for Lake Ontario Park. All the Great Lakes are sacred to the Ojibway, so this blessing of Lake Ontario means a great deal, both to the Ojibway people and to their neighbours in the larger community.

THIS strikes me as the real reason I stopped overnight in Kingston.

A while later, I stopped in Prescott, ON. This town has a nice River Walk, focusing on the St. Lawrence, so I took a walk along a short part of it. Here are views of the river and of Fort Wellington, a British fort during the War of 1812, built to defend shipping from the American troops stationed across the river, in Ogdensburg, NY.

This was a cool find. In the 1960s, Leo Boivin (“That’s BwaVAN, Yank!”), was a respected member of the Boston Bruins. Kids were always calling me “Leo”, though quite honestly, I couldn’t stand up on skates, for more than two minutes. As Leo was a native of Prescott, the town named its community center after him, when he passed away, last year.

Tonight, I am here, at Montreal’s Auberge St. Lo, formerly called HI (Hostels International) Montreal. It is a very comfortable and accommodating place, with the study room where I am writing this post.

The Sooner State’s Northern Tier

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June 14, 2022, Carthage, MO- “Hugs” helped me get up this morning, and we both got friend John out the door, a bit earlier than might otherwise have been the case. No worries, as I used all the time given me, going across Oklahoma’s northern tier and J had time to do what he needed to do for his own health and well-being.

We started as we usually do, on such visits, with a breakfast sandwich from a gas station deli and coffee at Da Vinci, Enid’s premier coffee house chain. After conversation with John and one of his friends, it was time to head east again. This time, I stayed on Route 60, eastbound, as far as the turnoff to Neosho, MO, which was a bit further south than I wanted to go today.

Passing through towns like Pond Creek, Lamont, Tonkawa, Ponca City, Pawhuska, Bartlesville, Nowato and Vinita, I was struck by the increasing greenery-even though I have been through this area dozens of times. The difference today was that there was no Turnpike involved. I was able to enjoy the back side of the northern tier.

Ponca City has preserved the properties associated with Oklahoma’s tenth governor, Ernest Whitworth Marland, who was also a philanthropist, having made a fortune in the oil industry, but seeing no point in hoarding the money. His view of wealth was to spend it “like water on my people and my town (Ponca City).” The mansion and estate he shared with his gracious and socially passionate wife, Lydie, are now managed by Ponca City.

Here are some scenes of the mansion and grounds. The Marlands’ adopted son, George, is depicted here, greeting guests as they walk in from the parking lot.

‘Abdu’l-Baha identified philanthropy as the fourth means to spiritual progress. Mr. Marland’s record of contributing, both to the welfare of his employees and to the well-being of Oklahoma’s people, is a worthy counterweight to the seeming largesse he expended on his family and himself. He seemed to have transcended the distrust for the common man that was vocalized by his mentor, Andrew Carnegie, and he actively called for “bringing the New Deal to Oklahoma. In the wake of the Dust Bowl calamity, the state needed those programs, perhaps even more than many places in the coastal regions.

Wealth is not a negative attribute, when it is shared responsibly.

Surprise Treasury, and Tragedy

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June 3, 2022- The four boxes had sat in my bedroom closet, unopened for nearly four years. Once I cleaned out said closet, this afternoon, it was time to open the boxes and see just how much of a treasury of record was left behind by my father-in-law, with regard to his time as a Prisoner-of-War. The four boxes have a complete account of that harrowing time in his life and all the medals not included in a framed collage, which I also have.

These are all in a safe location and will be properly transferred to someone else in the family, at a later date. In the meantime, I will examine each box more carefully. This is probably the most precious historical collection which has ever been entrusted to me, and I’m honoured.

When Pops passed on, in 2014, he was accorded great honours-though due to a backlog at Arlington National Cemetery, it took several months to inter the man’s body. It was a grand and moving ceremony, despite that delay. It came on the heals of my visit to the sites of D-Day at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, in Bastogne and Metz, and Berga, where he was held prisoner. I will revisit these and other sites, in 2045, the centenary of the end of World War II.

The day ended with the discovery that one of my neighbours had died, alone and unnoticed for several days. I did not know him well, but was under the impression that he was being tended by “close friends”. He had told us, in the past, that he was doing “alright” and did not want to be disturbed. The circumstances of his passing underscore just how wrong the culture of anonymity is. We can’t very well impose ourselves on people, yet every soul deserves a full measure of dignity. I know enough about the man to know that he lived an honest life and worked hard as a cabinetmaker. May his peace be eternal.

Role Model

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May 30, 2022- It’s been little over eight years since Pops left us. My father-in-law, Norman D. Fellman, regarded his two sons-in-law as the boys he never had. I got a ton of advice, the greater part of it useful, and I can credit that advice for much of how our son has grown into manhood.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Norm was taken prisoner by the German Army, in December, 1944, in the southern sector of the Battle of the Bulge. He was held, until just before V-E Day, at Berga, a substation of Bergen-Belsen Prisoner-of-War and Concentration Camp, just southeast of Gera, Thuringia. He, and a few dozen other “undesirables” (Jews, Romani and Mexican-Americans) were assigned onerous tasks, day in and day out. His crew went to a salt mine. Norm and one of the Mexican-Americans would prank the Germans, constantly, putting glue in the salt and adding gravel underneath a three or four inch coating of salt. He never said where he got the glue; in fact, he rarely talked about his experience, until President Clinton lifted a lingering gag order that had stifled World War II veterans, since President Truman’s tenure.

There were many aspects of his personality and ways of doing things, from which I have drawn wisdom. He made me realize that I was not a substandard person, and that my rights were the same as anyone else’s, but that I had to stand up and expect them. It is because of Pops that I became quite forceful in standing up for Aram, and for summoning every bit of inner strength, to care for his daughter, my wife, in her years of decline. He knew, when I was being attacked by state bureaucrats, who told him that I was lax in her care, that this was bunk. (The upshot was that they wanted her to be placed in a state home, thus giving them access to her disability payments. This, of course, did not happen-and she lived out the rest of her days in an environment of HER choosing.)

Pops-and Mother- had the bounty of being well-tended by their youngest daughter, still one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, until their respective deaths in May, 2014 and October, 2018. That is the true beauty of a force of example: It redounds to the benefit of the role model, in one’s final days.

Division Street, and The Bonsai That Unite

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May 16, 2022, San Clemente- The drunken man, professing White Supremacy, yelled at me to “Get lost”, as I walked along El Camino Real, in this Orange County beach town. I guess the t-shirt I’m wearing, with its Baha’i logo, set him off. I kept walking and he drove off.
Baha’u’llah does state that “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education, however, hath deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259. Nowhere, of course, does He limit this bounty to any particular group of people.

Last night, at FOUND Hotel, in San Diego’s Little Italy, there were a few folks who were acting mighty lost, while saying they wished others-particularly the homeless who wanted to be let in, would get lost. No hostel, or residential hotel, is equipped to handle random homeless people wandering in off the streets. There has been progress made in sheltering, in many cities, but the task is looking Sisyphean. The number of units and condominia, catering to the uberwealthy are increasing at a rate outpacing those that provide for people in lower income brackets. Those who are experiencing homelessness, particularly in communities where housing costs are exorbitant-almost to an unconscionable level, are also finding their numbers increasing. Division Street, the nominal and actual social divider, of which Studs Terkel wrote in 1967, has become a metaphor for the country as a whole. Some hard decisions, regarding the accumulation of wealth, at the expense of a great many people, will need to be made in the not-too-distant future. Everyone will need to be at the table for this one.

I needed to change the channel in my head, after seeing so many people encamped in downtown San Diego, along Pacific Coast Highway and near Mission Beach. Revisiting Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden set the right tone. My focus was on the collection of bonsai, now at 18 and looking in on the koi, who were small when I was last there, in 2015.

Here are a few scenes from the Garden. The koi in the pond nearest the entrance have tripled in size, these past seven years.

Three types of bonsai: Pine, flowering and unflowered leafy are on display, in the Garden’s Bonsai Center.

My rejuvenation complete, it was an easy trip northward to Orange County, stopping briefly to complete some business at San Diego Baha’i Center, taking a detour to La Jolla’s sandy beach and another to La Cristianita Historic Site, in Camp Pendleton, which commemorates the first baptism in Alta California.

Tonight, I am comfortably at House of Trestles Hostel, amongst surfers and other lovers of the ocean. Here, everyone feels at home, even the dachshund-chihuahua mix.

The First Nation and the People of the Future

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May 15, 2022, San Diego- Today saw two focuses: First was a pair of meetings-one on the Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, brief, but profound thoughts on spirituality and morality, which He intended to serve as instructions to those who were undertaking independent investigation of truth; the second, in mid-afternoon, was a presentation of two children’s books, each written about a powerful Black woman.

The people of the future will, perhaps after a fair amount of suffering and changes in society, recognize both intellectually AND emotionally, that mankind is one human race. That today’s presentation comes a day after a deluded young man drove two hundred miles, specifically to kill Black people (of whom eight were killed, along with two Whites, and three seriously wounded.), is no real coincidence. There is no real future for the philosophy of racial supremacy. The unity of the human race means that there will be no replacement of one group by another. Nor will there be a return to the oppression of one group by another.

After resting for a while, upon the conclusion of the second meeting, I made a return visit to Old Town San Diego. My focus this time was on the recognition of the area’s First Nation: Kumeyaay, formerly known as “Diegueno” and on the art of the Mexican people, prior to California’s passing into U. S. control. Here are some scenes of this visit.

The above scene honours the Pico Family, one of the San Diego area’s more prominent Mexican families of the early Nineteenth Century.

Below are two Mexican ollas, or water jugs, each with its own colours and designs.

I needed a change of pace for dinner, after enjoying a visit with friends at Harbor Breakfast, this morning and planning to return there again tomorrow. There was no better place than Cafe Gratitude, a vegan establishment, which titles its offerings with affirmations. Here is a description on the eatery’s window.

It was a most wondrous day, starting with the bright faces of Melissa and Maria, at Harbor, continuing at San Diego Baha’i Center (the site of Penny’s and my wedding, nearly forty years ago), continuing with the delightful stories of achievement this afternoon, the vibrance of Old Town and the healthy fare of Cafe Gratitude.

The Tumble

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May 5, 2022- Hiking Buddy and I observed Cinco de Mayo by dining at Prescott’s sole Indian restaurant: Tai Mahal. The place has a good-sized dining room and a fair amount of South Asian decor. Its dishes trend towards North Indian, which is fine, as I favour dishes like tandoori and tikka masala. I also like vindaloo, from the west central city of Goa, so maybe next time…. We were among the first diners this evening, and for a while, it looked like the stampede to Mexican eateries, on this unofficial north of the border “holiday”, would impact Taj’s evening. Not so, though, as by the time we were ready to leave, the dining room was packed. Such is the allure of a quality establishment with a menu that is one-of-a-kind for the area.

Cinco de Mayo is a distant mirror of Ukraine’s struggle against a much larger foe. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French Imperial Army, at Puebla. After some months, the French reoccupied Puebla and went on to occupy Ciudad Mexico. This only lasted three years, however, as once the American Civil War ended, President Andrew Johnson sent materiel aid to Mexico, and the resurgent Mexicans drove the French out. The French puppet Emperor, an Austrian named Maximilian, and his Mexican turncoat supporters, were captured and executed. We have no way of knowing how the present conflict will end, but esprit de corps goes a very long way towards building momentum. The mighty can tumble, as the United States itself has found.

After any tumble, however, comes humility and rebuilding. We’ve seen that with the spikes and crashes in the financial markets, in recent days. It’s the nature of wealth, however, to rebound and grow again-and if no artificial blocks come about, more people are brought into the aura of prosperity.

The same is true of peace. It will come back and be rebuilt, very likely on a more solid footing. All falls are stopped by a solid barrier, at some point.

Round The Maypole

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May 1, 2022- I watched a video of a climate change activist being interviewed by a prominent social change agent, whom I have recently befriended online. The session itself was broadcast on Earth Day, and suffice it to say, I have been so largely occupied with the secondary effects of said climate change, over the past two weeks, that sitting down and listening to the very cogent observations of Peter Kalmus was something that stayed on the back burner until now.

Many of us might be tempted to treat Earth Day, May Day and other social change-themed events as we treat so many other public days: With a view towards entertainment. The people of western Europe had a practice of dancing first around a live tree, then around a secured branch that stood erect, in mid-Spring, which eventually became established as May 1. Because it was fertility-based and came to involve sexual activity, the practice was banned in Puritan communities, both in Europe and North America. The fertility aspect took a back seat, in many cases, to the hedonistic. May Day has more recently become a day for social activism, especially regarding labour issues. Earth Day retains its overall conservation focus, perhaps because there is a dichotomy, even among those living in comfort, between focusing on the well-being of the planet and letting loose in celebration.

While I hardly see harm in finding joy in life, including an element of service, to the planet and to humanity, in our observances will go a long way towards mitigating the damage already done. Performing an act of service each day is even better. There is plenty of time for both.

I am grateful to Marianne Williamson, with whom I have only recently become acquainted, for raising issues that strike at the core of our collective being. We are all in a process of growth, even if some do not consciously focus on it. We are all going around the same maypole.