North Cape Trail, PEI

North Cape Trail map, from Bed & Breakfast Canada websiteWe went to Prince Edward Island in November for “oh, a day or so.”  Just off the bridge, in Gateway Village, an “olde towne” of new buildings with tourist services and shops, we get a map.  We decide to turn left to Summerside and the North Cape Trail around the west coast.  “Then we can do the centre Green Gables Trail then go to Charlottetown.  That’s probably all we’ve got time for,” I said confidently.

Three days later, we emerge back at the bridge from the northwest.  We never got to Charlottetown or anywhere remotely Anne of Green Gables-ish.  We didn’t even fully circumnavigate the west coast.  But, oh, what we did see!

dogs running on beach, Union Corner PEIAt Union Corner, an old school turned antique store, closed and for sale.  We can see the end of the side road, at the coast.  There is a provincial park, closed for winter, and a lovely shoreline for dogs to run on.  Leo got his first mouthful of salt water – didn’t like it, but loved the beach and the grassy meadows.

Sunset in Mont Carmel, a tiny Acadian village with a huge church.  Jim experimented with a 360º camera setting and I perused the map for motel chances.  Didn’t seem likely, but drive on, I thought.  After dark, we stopped at a gas station.  The guys inside got a good laugh when gate Notre Dame du Mont Carmel, PEIasked about places to stay.  Not outside tourist season, they said, only in Summerside.

Retracing our path next day.  More Notre Dame du Mont Carmel photography and a walk through the graveyard.  Driving west, past a lighthouse made out of bottles.  Later, in the tourist guide, I saw it was part of The Bottle House, chosen by AMEX as a “world destination.”  It was closed for the season anyway.

house, barn and boat, west coast PEIWest and north-west, photography and dog stops, feeling like long-distance travelers and a look at the map – we’ve gone barely any distance.  Inland to the four-laner, heading north.  We miss the coast furthest west doing this, but go back to it before Skinner’s Pond.

Schoolhouse at Skinner's Pond PEISkinner’s Pond, stomping grounds of Stompin’ Tom Connors.  The school house has been restored as a museum with his help.  Closed.  In a field kitty-corner, two young horses play with a dog.  Dog darts toward them, stops, horses jump back then dance forward toward the dog.  Over and over.

From Stompin’ Tom to the North Cape

On up to the North Cape.  A lighthouse and wind farm on a spit of land, it is spectacular.  Probably crawling with people in summer, but dogs at North Cape, wind turbineswe were alone to explore, feel the wind, watch the sea.

South on the other side: a gentler beauty than the windblown glory only a few kilometers west.  Malpeque Bay gives shelter.  Overnight in Alberton, a beautiful town with a choice of four restaurants and several local shops.   Another full day brings us back to Confederation Bridge.

Alberton PEI, view from motel“Closed for season” signs are a clue to how busy PEI is in summer.  I liked it when we were there – places to stay and eat may be scarce but it’s not far back to Summerside, at least on the main highway.  The places and scenery are breathtakingly beautiful, I think, any time of year.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 27/11)

Such a treat – seeing so many Corrie people back Friday.  First, Todd Grimshaw and his Todd and Jules with MINInew man Jules, then in London, Violet and Jamie and Marcus.

When Eileen said Todd was coming home, I figured something would prevent it like always.  But no, he arrived, with Jules, in (best of all) a beautiful black MINI convertible.  I liked Jules right off the bat.

Todd embarrassed by Eileen in RoversThen, in a reenactment of Ken Barlow’s first storyline, Todd had major problems reconciling his old life with his new.  Ashamed of his origins, even his mother, in front of his posh lover, he was awkward to his mother and friends, apologized in advance for everything to Jules, and stormed off.  Even Jules, himself condescending about Eileen’s “lunch” or “dinner”, told “Todley” he didn’t like how he was behaving.

Jamie, Violet and Sean holding teddyAnd Sean went to London, with a humungous teddy bear, to see Dylan.  Entering on a “domestic” between Violet and Jamie, he went to the kitchen where Dylan was and found his Marcus Sean and Dylan on bus tourold lover Marcus there also.  Then a lovely tour of London – for them all day, for us snapshots of the highlights overlaid with The Clash’s ‘London Calling’.  Corrie Street again uses a stylistic staple of American soaps – nice in these circumstances but I hope not about to become regular fare.

Back at Violet’s, a heart-breaking scene where she showed her opinion of Sean hasn’t changed since she left Weatherfield.  Despite Jamie leaving her, she cringed at the thought of returning to Weatherfield, where Dylan might learn Sean’s –.  Sean filled in the rest himself, “How I talk?  How I walk?  My gayness?”  He told her that, as she had Marcus and Sean on park bench overlooking Londonsaid, the Violet he knew no longer existed.  She had been replaced by a homophobe.

Then a visually and emotionally beautiful scene with Sean, Marcus and the unwanted teddybear.  Sitting on a park bench at night, looking over the lights of London, talking about their lives since they parted.  Being honest, being friends and both opening the door a bit for maybe a future together.

Cropper family in cafeA reunion also on the Street between Roy and his mother.  She had appeared before, right after Roy’s stepfather’s funeral.  Now, Hayley has brought her back to their house and the café where she will “help out” and terrorize the clientele.  She is absolutely stunning with Roy, Hayley and every character she has met so far.  She is utterly believable as the woman who created Roy Cropper.  In his interactions with her, Roy is utterly believable as a son who fought so hard to gain what semblance of normality he has, and now fears remembering his childhood horrors will take it away from him.

Gail interviewing for job with Nick in BistroAnd I can’t not mention the line that had me almost spray coffee all over the kitchen table.  Gail looking through the classifieds, seeing a course on counseling, saying “I think I’d make a good counselor; people tell me things.”  No, please, not another messed-up human being thinking that their neuroses and psychoses qualify them to counsel other messed-up humans!!  Hire her, Nick, it might send your business down the drain but it will save the mental health of many others.

Anger by name…

Years ago, I was in a public library in Los Angeles and found reference books on family Massacre of the Vaudois of Merindol from Wikipediahistories.  I looked up my family name, Anger.  It said the name came from France, from the region of Anjou, with its main city being Angers.  I was thrilled with the idea of being French.

When I came home, I told my father.  He said “French!  No!  We’re German.”  He had always said when asked that he didn’t know the family origins – “a little bit of everything” was his answer.  So I remained convinced that we were French.

Much later, when I started delving into family history and found other family members doing the same, I discovered that Dad and I were both right.

A French and German family name

The family was Huguenot or French Protestant.  In the 16th and 17th centuries, Protestants in France had to convert to Catholicism or be killed or expelled.  Or they fled the country.  They went to Protestant countries, among them the territories that became Germany.  And that is where the known history of our family starts.

Butlers-Rangers signage at Ottawa-War-MuseumGeorg Frederick Anger migrated to Pennsylvania in 1754. When the American colonies went to war with Britain, George Frederick chose the British side and he and his sons fought as Loyalists to the crown.  After the war, they moved across the new border and settled in Bertie Township, near Fort Erie.  They joined Butler’s Rangers, a British regiment made up of Loyalists.

The Anger men weren’t done with war.  In the War of 1812, they again found their new homeland in the midst of American and British conflict.  Then, forty years later, the Angers of Bertie literally found themselves in the midst of battle.  In the 1866 Battle of Ridgeway, part of the Fenian Raids in Upper Canada, the Anger homestead was smack Watercolour of Battle of Ridgeway, Alexander Von Erichsen Ft. Erie Museumin the midst of the battlelines.  Bullet holes are still visible in the bricks.  The house was turned into a field hospital, being handy to the wounded.

Several years ago, Jim and I made a trip to Ridgeway to find the family.  First stop was the Ridgeway archives and library.

Ridgeway Cemeteries

The librarian told me that my great-great-great-great-grandparents were buried in the “Coloured Cemetery,” north of Ridgeway near the Anger house.  Close to the American border, the area had become home to escaped and freed slaves.  But just when I was thinking, with delight, about what the Anger place of burial meant for my personal ancestry, the Anger family name - gravestones in Ridgeway, photo Jim Stewartarchivist told me it had been the cemetery for everybody in the early days of the settlement.  White people, generally, had gravestones.  Black people had wooden crosses.  The Angers have gravestones.

All the cemeteries near Ridgeway have Angers buried in them.  But several of the children of George Frederick’s son John Charles moved west.  One of them, also named John Charles, had a son Peter who moved to Hazen Settlement in South Walsingham Township, Norfolk County.  It is from him that all of us here in Elgin County claim descent. (See my Anger family tree.)

This is for my father, George, who died nine years ago today.  He had seen his family history in computer printouts first by my cousin Chris Anger and then by me.  Dad and I also came to agree that the family was German and French.  The title for this is from his saying about our family name – “Anger by name, Anger by nature.”

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 20/11)

The scene that made me shriek with delight this Tuesday was Kevin’s surprise gift to Sally seeing her Fiat 500Sally.  A beautiful little red Fiat 500, giftwrapped!  I just wanted them to keep the camera on the car.  My delight quickly turned to horror as Sally shrieked at the happy salesman to take it back.  No, Sally, you don’t know what you’re saying, no no, keep the car!!  Keep Kevin.  Give the car to me – Kevin too if it’s a package deal!

I thought, she’ll come to her senses.  The car will win out.  But then she flew into Kevin, and even said “the colour stinks”!  No, it’s beautiful!  It’s a brand new little Bambino.  Red!  What more could you want?

Marc and Audrey in police stationIt was hard to concentrate on the show after that.  The image of the little orphan car wearing its bow was burned into my brain.  Marc as Marcia in police stationBut then I saw Marc, bruised and bloodied, slumped on the bench in the police station in dress, necklace and blonde wig.  The look of surprise then realization on Audrey’s face as she recognized the battered lady on the bench was the suave man she had come to the police station to help – priceless.

Then the beautiful scene that put even the Fiat 500 out of my mind (briefly).  Marc, cleaned up as best he could, explaining about being a transvestite and about his late wife and her acceptance of him and his alter-ego Marcia.  And Audrey understanding, remembering people in her life who were “different” but made her feel “fabulous” for just being her.

Audrey consoling Marc with a hugShe had jumped to the conclusion that many do: that cross-dressing is only something gay people do.  So she remembered her gay friend, Lionel the colourist.  I wished I had known Lionel, just from how she talked about him.  Sadly, he was one of the too many who died of AIDS in the 1980s.

That was a time when living with AIDS wasn’t talked about; dying from AIDS was the only option.  It was very frightening for gay men and for anyone who knew and loved a gay man.  Audrey’s far-away look as she talked about Leonard brought it all back for me.

And Marc was equally concise and effective at explaining straight male cross-dressing to Audrey.  He also conveyed the fear of telling a partner about it, about the fear of rejection Audrey telling Marc he must tell Claudiaand the joy of acceptance.  I also wished I’d known his late wife because she sounds like a lovely lady to have made him so happy in her life and so sorrowful at her death.

I hadn’t really had any thoughts one way or the other before about Marc, other than wondering what he was doing in the storyline with Audrey and Claudia.  Now I like him, feel like I know him, and I hope he and Audrey become lasting friends.  If he tells Claudia about his cross-dressing, I hope she is as understanding as Audrey was.  But, after all, she’s a hairdresser too so, as Audrey said, she also ought to have lots of experience with “people of all types.”  I’m counting on you, Claudia.

Jim telling bank teller to put money in bagFriday note:  I do not believe this bank robbery and Jim story.  He wouldn’t be that stupid, so he wouldn’t.  There are a million other ways to get out of this cockamamie story about the pub ownership.  Jim’s character didn’t need to be sacrificed in schedule-driven writing to accommodate actor and production plans.

Jeep

Jeep Rubicon grillI got me a Rubicon!  I’ve never had a Jeep, always wanted one.  In my head, I have a list of vehicles, or types of vehicles, that I want at some point in my life.  Big old tough 4 by 4 is now checked off.

It’s my new winter vehicle, used but in good shape.  The salesman at Elgin Chrysler seemed a bit surprised when he was talking about the fun of summer Jeep driving and we said, oh it’s just for winter.  You can see his point.  A young man, himself a Jeep driver: Jeff in front of Elgin Chrysler with Rubiconyes indeedy he’d be taking his Jeep down to Port in the summer.  Roof comes off, doors come off.  It’s a babe magnet.  He was too polite to look surprised at us buying it – clearly babe magnet is no longer part of our vehicular requirements, either ‘looking for’ or ‘being’.  Probably serious off-roading isn’t either.  But it’s still a thrill knowing you have the horse power and gear range to be able to.

Test-driving it, I was sold when I put it in 4 Low and felt the wheels grab the dirt road.  “Ok, I want this car.”  Until then, I’d been looking at where the dogs would ride, how they’d get in and out, where groceries would go.  But put her in 4 Low and she’s mine; Rubicon in front of Elgin Chryslerdogs and groceries can figure it out for themselves.

Ideally, a girl should have a Jeep in her early 30s – old enough to look capable of handling it and young enough to look really good doing so.  A friend of mine bought one, a CJ, white with black top, brand new when she was that age.  I was envious.  She looked fabulous in it.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough money to keep it supplied with gas and be able to pay any other bills so she sold it.  But that year of the white Jeep lives in my memory as well as hers.  It was hot, and so was she in it.

Other 4x4s

I drove a Suzuki 4 x4, precursor of the Samurai, at the time.  It too was fun – a dinky-toy Jeep.  I loved it, and the incarnations of the Suzuki 4 wheel drives after.  The Samurai and the Sidekick – drove them both.  I became disenchanted with the Suzukis after that, when they got bigger, more comfortable and ceased looking like tough little road warriors.

Jeep Rubicon beside MINIJeeps too have done that.  I had a rental Jeep Liberty once.  No thanks.  If I want a vehicle that drives like a car I’ll get a, well, car!  The Rubicon does not drive like a car.  It’s certainly more comfortable and better “appointed” inside than the old Jeeps, but it still drives like a tank.

You hear and feel the rumble of those big knobby tires.  You feel every kilometer of speed you are going.  The revs vibrate as you shift through 6 gears.  You feel the wind, you hear the rain, you are in direct contact with the road.  You are the Road Warrior.

Luanne Demers, Founding President

It was with much sorrow that we learned of the passing of a lovely Luanne Demers and Katie, from Facebookwoman – our friend and founder of STDOA Luanne Demers.  Luanne died of cancer, too young, this past weekend.

Those of us on the executive of the STDOA met Luanne three years ago when she began bringing her dogs, Lab crosses named Katie and Buddy, to play with our dogs.  I remember her watching Katie and Buddy wrestling with each other and anyone that would play, and saying “what we need in town is a proper dog park.”  The response of some, like me, was “yeah, like that’s going to happen!  Been tried, hasn’t worked.”  She said, “well, it’s gonna happen this time.”

And it did.  She organized us in a group, which was about as easy to do as organizing wound-up dogs when it’s time to go home – as in, not!  Luanne at left ribbon cutting at Lions Club Dog Park May 2010She quietly but efficiently had us establish a committee, approach council, look for suitable land, and lobby for permission and funds.  Never heavy-handed, never raising her voice, never complaining.  Just getting it done and getting you to do it without even realizing it was getting done.

All the while, she and we knew about the cancer.  She was a mother and a worker.  She appeared on a Dec. 2008 CTV news documentary about hard times in St. Thomas, talking about employment searching in a bad economy.  She told her story, and that of so many in our area, clearly and dispassionately.  She didn’t ask you to feel sorry for her, just for you to hear what she was saying about the need for work.

Luanne with Lab puppySimilarly, with the dog park, she just asked that all residents – City Council, non-dog owners and dog owners alike – listen to why a dog park was needed.  And she succeeded.  We got a dog park and an ongoing group committed to the welfare of dogs.  I don’t think we would have done so without her.

Luanne officially stepped down as president of STDOA in mid 2010 when she needed to focus on her own life and family.  We missed her then, and we still do.  I will never forget her lovely smile and her laugh as she watched those silly dogs of hers roll and tumble and chase each other.  It was impossible to not smile yourself just looking at her.

Note: This was first published on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. With it no longer online, I have moved it here but kept the original posting date. I still think of Luanne and miss her.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 13/11)

Wednesday, Becky going at Kylie then the Platts, followed by Becky going at Liz, and Becky on bench looking at skyfinally, the fabulous moment of Becky throwing Liz’s favourite clothes in a puddle.  And as the driving force for all this, Becky taking control of her misery by grabbing a big bottle of whiskey and getting plastered.  Bad Becky is back!

I loved Becky this week.  Not everyone did, I see from Tvor’s blog.  Some see her as immature and selfish.  Yes, she is.  But.

Her husband has the ex from hell and she lives next door.  His child sometimes lives with them and, while Becky wants and is expected to be a mother to Amy, she can never usurp Liz saying to becky looting their neighboursTracy’s position as “real” mother.  Her controlling mother-in-law, who detests her, lives with them and is her boss.  Or is it business partner?  Whose house is it, whose business is it?  Both are in the same space, and who’s in charge is always contentious.  That situation alone would drive a saint to the brink.

Becky is no saint.  She’s got a vicious temper and a basketload of insecurities.  Lashing out is her way of handling frustration, stress and fear of rejection.  She knows it, doesn’t Bloodied Becky at Platt's front doordeny it and knows it’s not a good thing.  A quote in The Tao of Horses applies to Becky as well as horses:  “If you knew a horse, you could depend on him and if he was going to do something bad, you could depend on him to do that too.”  Transparency of action and motive is valuable in people as well as horses.  Becky has it; those around her, not so much.

Steve has become more mature and rational, but he can be spineless and inconsistent.  He’s ready to call Becky out on her foolishness, but flip-flops whenever he stands up to Liz saying you've got no idea what you've just donehis mother or Tracy.  Liz is trailer-trash enough to recognize, and dislike Becky’s trashiness but doesn’t see, or acknowledge, it in herself.

Decision-making in the Rovers, both business and residence, is contentious because management is split between Steve, owner, and Liz, manager whose name is over the door.  Why her name?  Because Steve has a criminal record.  Steve was young and stupid, just like Becky, got caught and did time, just like Becky.  Does anyone talk about that?  Nooo!  Steve is now Responsible Businessman.  It’s good that his past is overlooked.  But he had no good reason for his foray into criminality.  Becky, if you accept that upbringing influences behaviour, did. Her criminal history is far from forgotten.

Becky can only stake her position in the Rovers through Steve.  He needs to back her up as equal partner at home and in business.

becky grabbing kylie by the hairAnd Kylie, the sister from hell.  Becky’s guilt over leaving her years before led her to forgive Kylie scuttling their chance to adopt.  Through Kylie, Becky has the chance to be a mother to Max, but it hasn’t been clear-cut.  Like Tracy, Kylie won’t just go away but won’t do her full share of mothering either.  Becky has been a good mother to Amy and Max, to her surprise as much as becky in street holding Liz's dressesanyone else’s.  But no one gives her total credit or support in that.

Nothing in Becky’s life is secure or simple.  She changed her ways and expanded her new family circle.  But she sees the ground constantly shifting Liz's dresses in puddleunder her feet.  And she reacts in true Becky fashion.  Do whatever is necessary to protect what’s important and, if that fails, lash out at everyone.

Hickstead

Canadian athletics and the world of show jumping lost a superstar last Sunday.  The great Hickstead died during competition in Verona, Italy November 6th at age 15.  His big heart just gave out it seems.

Hickstead 2006 Capital Classic-wikicommons-222fjbHe and rider Eric Lamaze became heroes of Canadian sport, even for those not interested in show jumping.  Especially after they won individual gold and team silver for Canada in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, everyone knew their names.

Both of them fought great odds and have the kind of rags to riches stories that we all love.  Hickstead was a small horse by show jumper standards, but he put every ounce of determination he had into every jump.  He was a joy to watch, back hooves stretched behind him as he cleared fences and water jumps.

To those too young to remember Ian Millar’s Big Ben, Hickstead is the epitome of show jumping beauty.  To those of us who watched Big Ben jump, even if we were only watching him on television, Hickstead became a worthy successor to that big beautiful horse.  And Eric Lamaze has joined Captain Canada himself, Ian Millar, as horsemen we admire and are proud to call our own.

Hickstead made me cry many times.  Watching him fly way over fences, seeing the Hickstead jumping at 2008 Olympicsexpanse of air between him and the obstacle.  Crying with happiness that he did it and crying in awe of his beauty.  Crying with relief when he’d complete a round safely and with no faults.  Crying at the pride on his face and on Eric’s when they’d finish, and the obvious connection between the two of them.  Then last Sunday, hearing the news of his death and crying for the loss of such a great horse.

He was getting up in years for what he was doing and Eric was aware of that, not over-pushing him and saving his strength.  He also wasn’t planning to retire him and I’m glad for that.  Hickstead clearly loved jumping.  He died doing what he loved.  We should all be so lucky.  Goodbye, Hickstead.  Watching you gave me great joy.

New England Fall

New Hampshire river - New EnglandDriving to New Brunswick by the American route, through New England. Trying to pick out roads as the crow flies.  But mountains and forests in the north.   Looking at an out-of-date map, it looks like small roads and moose territory.  So a loop a bit south of where the crow would fly.  Across New York state to southern New Hampshire and then go with the crow across Vermont.

Mountains, lots of deer crossing signs, then moose crossing.   Driving at dusk, then in the dark, winding roads up and down hills, lots of turns.  Then people crossing signs in ski and lake resort towns.  Great, I say, not enough you’ve got to watch for moose you gotta watch for people too.  But we see nothing alive on the road.

Church and graveyard in Hopkinton NHPicture-postcard towns take your breath away.  They look like Currier & Ives painted them some time long ago and they never changed.   Outside town, on the small roads, landscape vistas of trees of all colours up and down hills, fast-running water pounding over rocky riverbeds.

Cross into Maine, just as beautiful in a slightly different way.  Rockier, trees more windblown – a rougher woods beauty.

Collecters of New England

tumbledown museum in MaineAll through all three states lots of wonderful small houses with stuff all around them.  Collections of stuff.  Some artfully arranged, some just piled up every which way.  Strange stuff and more normal looking collections of old farm equipment.  But none of it looks like it’s for sale, it’s just people’s stuff.

There are also collections of stuff for sale.  The “Antiques” signs are everywhere.  Go further into Maine and you see “Antiques” and “Books” signs on almost every second building.  Some are massive old barns or warehouses.  I cannot imagine how much stuff they have inside, plus what’s visible outside.

I think you could spend a week in these hills of antique and book dealers and keep very busy and maybe cover 20 miles.  If you also wanted to see the natural beauty by tramping in some woods, add another week to your plan.

We came to the Atlantic coast at Belfast in Maine.  A beautiful old harbour town full of – yep – book stores, craft shops and city centre at night Belfast, Maineantique dealers.  Olde Worlde store fronts on hilly streets that they roll up at 8 o’clock on out-of-season nights.  We found a new Mexican-Caribbean restaurant still open, La Vida.  Very good chili.

Then north on the coastal road.  Antique and book barns all along the way.  Old houses tumbling down with trees and brush growing up around them.  Neat and tidy bungalows.  Neat and tidy big old rambling frame houses.  Bypassing reluctantly the sideroads that take you right to the coast and the fishing villages dotted along the map.  A Canadian man we met in Belfast had said he and his wife tour around those back roads every time they come through Maine.  Easy to spend a whole day on just one, he said.  Next time for us.