Category Archives: accomplishments

2000 km +: what a week!

A little over a week ago Joel and I went in to Saint John to view the arrival of the Tall Ships for the Festival of Sails event. It was wonderful to see the beautiful ships rounding Partridge Island and heading for the harbour. It was also wonderful to see the people who turned out to welcome the ships and their crews and to celebrate just one of the many summer festivals the city has to offer.

No sooner was that over when I hit the road for Nova Scotia to spend a couple of days visiting friends. It was a terrific time as well and on Wednesday I head for home again.

Thursday I did some laundry and tried to get a bit of rest because my (ahem) 50th High School reunion was happening on Friday and Saturday. I didn’t take very many photos as I was having much too good a time, but I enjoyed watching everyone reconnecting, laughing and sharing both stories and adventures.This involved multiple trips into Saint John and Hampton, of course.

Then, to round off the week I got up at 5:a.m. yesterday and headed to PEI to photographs the Dressage PEI show and the Atlantic Canada Equestrian Championships. Got home last night, crashed and got up at 6 this morning to start downloading hundreds of photos, sort them, prepare the proofs and then upload the whole shebang to my website – once it was back up and running.

Yes, this is the week that was. I think this one will be just a little quieter – I hope. Harley needs his mama to be home!


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Why celebrate? Why not celebrate!

Last Sunday was our friend’s birthday. Chester McMackin turned a youthful 84. So, Judi and I (and Lola in spirit!) decided to celebrate the occasion with our Facebook buddy – face to face rather than keyboard to keyboard. We got together at his favourite coffee spot in Hampton and shared stories, laughter and, of course, cake!

With twinkling eyes and the lilt of laughter in his voice, Chester regaled us with tales of his childhood and more. In other words, life in general.

His dramatic reading of the cleverly written (and dictated by Murphy the horse) tribute from Judi, accompanying the lovely framed portrait, had us and everyone else in the establishment in stitches!

And then the cake appeared – chocolate upon chocolate – causing the recipients (us) to ooohhh and aaahhhh appropriately in anticipation of the sweet delight – such are our peccadilloes.

Armed with a potentially lethal weapon, Chester divided the booty among us – and the party continued!

Not to be outdone by the ladies’ gifts to mark the occasion (framed photo from Judi, fresh homemade shortbread cookies from yours truly!), Chester presented each of us a treasure trove of fudge to take home. Who could resist?

Yep, it was a very good day. We wish our buddy “Chesterkins” a very Happy Birthday and hope we can all celebrate many, many more!


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Always remember

Yesterday I had the privilege of photographing a series of events created to remember and commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian armed forces. International, Provincial and Municipal guests were on hand, along with many local area residents of Dutch descent, members of the 8th Hussars and Legion members. It was a delight to meet many of these people and listen to their stories. The events helped those involved and those attending to remember what happened during World War II with the hopes that such atrocities will never be repeated anywhere in the world.

Lieutenant-colonel Christa Oppers-Beumer, Defence Attache, represented the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with grace and aplomb.

Please go to the Galleries / Sussex Celebration page to view over two hundred photos from the day!


Please click on this link to see an A La Carte price list for individual prints, framed prints or prints on canvas. Other sizes are available. Please contact me directly with your requests.

To request digital copies only, please contact me.

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, GALLERY, New Brunswick Tagged , |

Weighty matters

A friend of mine is an author and working on a new novel. One of her characters is struggling with her weight and so my friend, in a post on her blog, asked for input and dietary experiences that others have had. And boy, do I have experience in THAT arena. You can read her blog entry at “Weight Loss Struggles“.

I was compelled to reply. Here is what I wrote:

Weight loss – the societally imposed form of self-abuse. There’s a huge difference between wanting to lose weight (to look better; be more socially acceptable; be able to buy and wear nicer clothes) and wanting to be healthier. I am tall (5’9″ to be precise) and therefore everyone tells me I can carry more weight than others and still look slender. Uh huh. Not. Have a look at my behind – you can’t miss it! I also have a small, delicate bone structure. What that means is I look slimmer than I am but I am actually 30 pounds overweight at the moment (or more, but that’s what I’m admitting to).

In the past I tried many forms of self torture based on the latest weight-loss craze. I ate severely unbalanced diets for various periods of time; tried going to the gym (hated it); tried swimming with my friends (loved it – but then went out for breakfast afterwards negating the good effects).

Finally, as I am approaching the penultimate birthday to old age security cheques, I have realized that:

a) a few extra pounds aren’t bad as long as they don’t affect my health;
b) I need to be a HEALTHY weight;
c) I hate ‘diets’ and “the gym”;
d) I like to walk and, should spring ever return to the Northern Hemisphere, I will get out and walk again – building up to a heart pounding 5k a day – and I will lose a bit of weight, build stamina and feel better;
e) I like to cook and I like to eat. I can resist cake, candy and french fries – but beware the person who gets between me and a cookie; that’s ok – just don’t eat the whole batch, at once.

So, I shall live (what’s left of) my life with respect to my age and dietary needs, but without torturing myself into a dress size I haven’t seen since it matched my age. My husband loves me. My son and grandkids love me (and there is a bit more of me to love these days). Do I care what the fashion industry thinks? Not. Well, only when I have to try and find an outfit that fits and looks descent.

Here endeth my epistle. ehehehehe.”

And, I sincerely meant every word.

So, I’m no longer 19 years old and, as my husband once sweetly said, “a hottie”. But hey, the heat may come in flashes now, but my life is a good one filled with wonderful family and friends. What more could one want?

Have a good day, and enjoy that cookie!


Also posted in BLOG, caring, exercise, Friends and Family Tagged , |

We remember

Sussex NB 2013 parade

Sussex NB 2013 parade

The bagpipes skirl announced the beginning of the parade as people gathered to say ‘we remember’.

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Along Main Street a few dedicated folks stopped to watch as the Remembrance Day parade marched quietly from the Legion to the Cenotaph. For a few brief moments the endless stream of traffic into the Tim Horton’s drive through came to a halt and people stepped out of their warm cars in respect for those veterans who braved the cold, damp November morning to participate in the parade. The conditions for the spectators could in no way compare to the conditions under which many of these men and women served._L2H0947 - Version 2


Today’s parade marshall was chauffeur driven as he waved to the children watching from the sidelines.

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And behind him came members of the military, the reserves, the local legion and cadets as well as representatives from the RCMP, Fire Department, Scouts, Guides, Brownies and Cubs among others marching to the 11 o’clock ceremony.

_L2H0951 - Version 2 _L2H0954 - Version 2 _L2H0955 - Version 2 _L2H0956 - Version 2 _L2H0958 - Version 2 _L2H0959 - Version 2 _L2H0961 - Version 2 _L2H0963 - Version 2 _L2H0964 - Version 2 _L2H0967 - Version 2 _L2H0968The parade was short as each year there are fewer and fewer veterans to participate, and spectators along the route were few. More were gathered at the cenotaph. It must be disheartening for the veterans to realize that this same parade route will be packed with families watching the Santa Claus parade in a few weeks. Sadly, I doubt that those people will stop to think that they are enjoying a Christmas spectacle in a free country due to the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families both years ago and even now as men and women continue to serve. It is our responsibility to ensure that following generations are given the history lessons and made to understand that their lives, their lifestyle, their freedoms come with a price that is paid by those who serve.

Fortunately there are enough of us who still publicly display our respect and our gratitude by saying proudly, “we remember”.

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A bit of heaven in southern Maine –

Pulling into the driveway of a charming old stone castle-like home in southern Maine, I had no idea what to expect from a place that had been billed as a ‘horse rescue farm’ by the friends who introduced it to me. I saw lovely stables, befitting the old-world charm of the ‘country estate’ (to call it a ‘farm’ seems a bit of an understatement) and assumed the owners’ horses resided there.


Every inhabitant had been rescued and came with stories of abuse and neglect. Today they receive good care, a healthy diet, veterinary and farrier care, turnout and lots of love and attention.

Stonehouse Farm is a work in progress. Just this summer a new arbor was built and lush gardens are beginning to fill in the walls on this 100+ foot long path complete with crystal chandeliers and stone statuary – everywhere.

Manmade ponds are under development and you can rest in a small gazebo, with yet another set of chandeliers, while listening to the trickling water flow between them.

Bridle paths are being cut into the 50+ acre property and here and there small patios, with more statuary, have been strategically placed bringing to mind a buddhist retreat.

Even the elusive barn cat is a rescue kitty – now well looked after but still frightened of all humans.

Meanwhile, the new stable inhabitants have learned that visitors usually mean treats or a head scratch or maybe even a walk or ride in the cool of the evening.


Trust is building again.

The owners, Milena and Erik Banks, are ex-pat New Yorkers. After 9-11 they made the decision to create a simpler life and, after a stint in Connecticut, headed further north to Maine. Milena said, “The horses have their forever home here. We took on numerous sheep, six cats, up to 14 dogs at one time, although now there are only 11. We took in an abandoned rate who ate and lived with the chickens till he died of cancer. We have a rescue quail too. Three of the geese are rescues.

“We thought, after 9-11, that we wanted to give something back to the animals in the world. Seeing the billowing smoke from the towers changed our lives.”

And they, in turn, are changing others’ lives, one critter at a time.

Also posted in All Things Equine, animals, appreciation, BLOG, caring, cat, charity, friend, hobby farms, horse photography, horse photos, horse portraits, horses hobby farms rural living lifestyle, lessons, lifestyle, rural living lifestyle Tagged , , , , |

Justin Trudeau came to town…

Justin Trudeau was the featured speaker at the Grace Foundation inaugural fund raising event held at the Imperial Theatre in Saint John, NB, June 27, 2012

Justin Trudeau came to town as the featured speaker for the inaugural fund raising event of the Grace Foundation. The purpose of the evening was to launch a capital campaign to raise funds for much-needed renovations and updates at the Church of St. John & St. Stephen Home that provides tender care for its 80 elderly residents.

Like any older facility, it needs updates and renovations to look after the residents’ needs and provide them comfort and a good quality of life. The ‘Evening with Justin Trudeau’ was the Foundation’s first fund raising event in its multi-year capital campaign to fund major refurbishments at the home including updated decor, new furnishings for residents’ rooms,and improved entertainment and activity facilities for the residents.

The Board of Grace Foundation aims to make every event that it backs dual-purpose: fund raising and meaningful in some way. Hence its decision to sponsor Trudeau to speak to a Saint John audience with his message about education and empowerment of youth for a better society.

Justin Trudeau walked confidently onto the stage in the Imperial Theatre and addressed the audience eloquently and passionately for almost an hour, completely without notes. He was relaxed and casual, sharing frequent touches of humour and connecting with everyone in the hall, from the few teenagers who had come to find out what a young man might have to say to the greater number of older folk who probably had the same idea.

This morning the local media reported on Trudeau’s presence in our area – choosing to speak only about his possible political ambitions and completely ignoring both the reason for his visit to Saint John and his messages about the environment, education and youth.

Trudeau challenged everyone in the audience to consider his or her individual impact on the world at large and to realize that each of us is “making a difference in the world every time we do anything”. With the proliferation of media, electronic and social media communications we truly are a global community, he said. Canada, and western civilization as we know it in general, “draws from every corner of the planet for our needs. We (humanity) have managed to fill up the planet with our footprint.”

He went on to exhort us to be aware that no society, country or individual exists in isolation. It is everyone’s role to broaden our perspectives and to understand the impact of our choices and behaviours, not just for today but for the future and our children and their children. He strongly urged us to empower our young people to challenge the status quo and to teach them the value of being a good citizen of the world.

“Young people want to feel like their actions matter. We all need to matter. We need to be relevant to others and to be valuable to them.”

Justin Trudeau relaxed and chatting with the audience

“Altruism can also be selfish,” he said, “because it makes you feel so good. We as Canadians have the opportunity to model for the world what it means to be ‘a good citizen’ in all respects.”

His message was met with an enthusiastic response from the audience who gave him a standing ovation – and then settled down for a question and answer period. Some of the younger members of the audience asked him to elaborate on his message of youth empowerment while older members focused more on his political genealogy and whether or not he was considering a run at the leadership of the Liberal party formerly headed-up by his well known father. He deftly sidestepped the latter by saying it was a family decision to be considered over the summer months.

Trudeau was billed as a charismatic speaker and he lived up to his billing.  Now we will have to wait and see what decisions he makes about his personal and political future. And, should he choose to pursue a more prominent role in politics – will he, or even, can he, remain true to the ideals he spoke of last night? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Another candle on the cake

Birthdays are a time of reflection – reflection on the year just passed; and reflection on the accomplishments (hopefully) of a lifetime so far. They are also a time to pause and be grateful for the good things in your life: your family, friends, health, and life in general. And, they are a time to look forward and yell loudly, “What’s next?”

Many people as they mature (sounds SO much nicer than ‘get older’) obsess on how few years they may have left and waste time and energy pondering regrets. They think about things not done; or perhaps things done that shouldn’t have been.

Personally, as I mature, I prefer to spend my time creating new things, new memories, new moments that will mean something to me or to those I care about. As someone said, concern about age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I believe you are only as old as you feel. Granted, some days I feel older than others. But, in the overall scheme of things, any day you wake up reasonably healthy and breathing is a good one!

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Bon Voyage, Fran

My friend, Fran, died yesterday. The euphemism is “passed away” but somehow, for Fran, this just doesn’t seem right. Fran “told it like it is” – so, my friend died. Period.

I visited her, for the last time, in the hospital just two days before she took her last breath. I don’t know if she had any idea that I was there or not – she seemed to be sleeping heavily and I didn’t want to rouse her. Then again, I thought I might have another chance to visit later on when she was awake – but it wasn’t to be. Perhaps I should have awakened her? To say goodbye to her? Hopefully she knows I was there because I cared.

I’ve known her for a long, long time. Probably more than 20 years when I think about it. We both boarded our horses at the Gallaway Ridge Training Centre in Hampton “back in the day”. Fran of the acerbic wit. Fran the horse sitter. Fran the artist. Fran the friend.

It was black and white with Fran; you were her friend, or you weren’t. I’m lucky to have been counted among the ‘good guys’ in her estimation.

Generous to a fault there was nothing she wouldn’t do for her friends. Eight years ago, when Joel and I got married, she came to our farm and spent a whole day decorating for our ‘big day’.

In addition to her decorating skills, Fran was a talented painter who shared her love of painting with numerous others encouraging even the least talented to give it a try. A few years ago she took up quilling – an art form requiring infinite patience to take teensy little strips of paper, roll them up and combine them into unique pieces. For our wedding she created our cake topper this way – a goose egg painstakingly painted white, decorated with quilling and beadwork and inside a wee tableau showing daisies (my favourite flower), candles, two rings and a ‘parchment’ saying ‘with this ring…’ – quilled.

I’m going to miss answering the phone to hear her raspy voice saying “Hey Cec, how’re ya doin’?”

Safe journey across the rainbow bridge, Fran. You will be missed and you will be remembered.

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Pause for a moment

Well, it’s here. New Year’s Eve. Traditionally a time of revelry and hijinks for those young enough – in reality or spirit – to party on. For those of us who tend to retire earlier in the evening, waiting for midnight to shout “Happy New Year” just isn’t in the cards.

Instead, we plan to spend a quiet evening at home. We’ve invited friends to share dinner and to toast the new year and, if the roads don’t deteriorate too badly, they should be able to make it. If not? More for us to eat.

My wish for 2012 is that everyone enjoys good health, good times with friends and family, and success, however each one defines it.

Here’s to you! Happy New Year!

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