Return to Canada

Hamilton, Ontario

Monday, November 29, 2021

The best part of today’s 767 kilometre road trip was hugging family at both ends. We loved our visit with Shawn, Agnes, Alex and Julie. Hugging them good-bye took on a different feel when we thought about how long we had waited for this visit. We hope that we will not have to wait as long for the next hugs. We greeted Brilynn with hugs in Hamilton eight and a half hours later.

We listened to the second half of Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton’s State of Terror. We did not quite finish it. We will fit in the last hour as we drive home tomorrow.

There were a couple of bouts of slow traffic at the beginning and end of our journey, but actually the roads were not too busy. I always like the views along the Connecticut River as we drive north.

There was snow through Massachusetts and parts of New York State but the roads were clear not icy. Several of the service centres on 90 only had gas. They were being renovated; so, no restrooms or food available. Fortunately we had tea, turkey sandwiches and butter tarts to sustain us.

We crossed the Peace Bridge at Buffalo and waited eighteen minutes to speak to a Customs officer.  Our exchange of papers and information only took two minutes. The officer to,d us that we were supposed to have used the “arriveCan” app to fill in information about vaccinations and personal data. He checked our passports, vaccination dates and our PCR test data and wished us a good evening. We were happy to be back in Canada.

We stopped for some groceries at the Metro store near Brilynn’s. Brian barbecued steak and I made a salad and perogies for supper.  Brian and I walked around the block to put in a kilometre of exercise today. Definitely slothful. But we are as tired as if we had walked for many kilometres.  Brilynn is editing photos. All three of us are ready for an early bed time.

Christmas Tree Stalking

Guilford, Connecticut 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Shawn and Brian went fishing early this morning. They did not see any fish but en route, they saw eight deer in one place and a few more in another spot. It snowed off and on this morning.

Shawn experimented for breakfast this morning. He made potato latkes including some chunks of bass. Delicious! Brian looked after making cappuccinos.

We went to the Wettman Family Tree Farm to hunt for a Christmas tree. We roamed for 1.7 kilometres before deciding on the right size and shape. It turned out to be a blue spruce, not the typical green one the family usually picks. It had a special label on it naming it “Wild Thing” with the very special price of $15, a real bargain as trees of its size are $65. Someone had fun labeling several bargain trees, all of which were the farthest distance from the parking lot. The Wettman family does a slick job of wrapping the tree and tying it on the car roof. While waiting some of us drank hot chocolate to warm our toes.

Julie and Alex do not know the song, Wild Thing. They were not impressed with my rendition or the recording on YouTube.

We worked up an appetite and polished off most of the leftovers in the fridge for lunch.

Back at the house, it took longer to align the tree in all directions and secure it. Alex was very good at holding the tree steady for a long time while adjustments were made. Some lower branches and back branches needed to be trimmed. It is amazing how much bigger a tree looks in the house compared to a field.

We went out for our afternoon exercise in three pairings. Agnes and Julie went running. Shawn and Alex cycled. Brian and I went for the neighbourhood walk Shawn and I had done, but I missed a turn in the woods; so, we went a little farther: 5.36 kilometres.

Shawn said no grocery shopping was needed this week because he was going to fast this week. No one believed him. Agnes did the week’s grocery shopping. She came home with butter; so, I was able to make butter pecan tarts. Shawn prepared tonight’s dinner of barbecued lamb chops, gnocchi, and rhubarb chard with leeks. We also ate Brian’s baked beans that were in the oven for a day and a half. Although still crunchy, the beans were very tasty. We already had nachos Brian made and the sushi Agnes brought home.

Cockaponset Hike

Guilford, Connecticut 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

We awakened at our regular 7:20 time this morning, but I felt rather slothful as I did not do any exercise besides yoga until this afternoon.

Shawn accompanied Brian and me to the Yale Health Centre in Guilford to have our COVID test.Even though everyone had to register in advance we sat in a lineup of cars for about fifteen minutes before making it into the tent drive-through where a nurse administered the PCR test. It only took seconds and the nurse and person who checked our IDs were very pleasant.

We spent time in the kitchen today. Brian baked the bread he started yesterday and since that disappeared at lunch time with turkey sandwiches and fish sandwiches, he started another dough for tomorrow. We both prepared baked beans and put them in the oven. Brian made turkey soup and I started dinner rolls which are in the oven. Later this afternoon I made an apple crumble pie which is also now baking. Of course we still have some left over ribs as part of supper. The baked beans are taking a very long time to bake; so, they will be on tomorrow’s menu.

This afternoon Julie went to visit a friend while the rest of us drove to Haddam to hike the green trail in the Cockaponset State Forest. This is the second largest state forest in Connecticut: 16696 acres. It is spread over five areas. We were in the northern section. The first half of our 4.5 kilometre hike was mostly uphill. We had an elevation gain of 167 metres. Parts of the trail were on large sloping smooth rocks partially covered in oak leaves, quite slippery. After climbing we were on more of a flat plateau through mixed forest that had been logged as there were many young trees but also many tall straight tulip trees.of course we eventually had a precipitous descent, also quite slippery. I am always thankful for my hiking poles. This is another great location to view mountain laurel around the end of May.

Shawn and Brian managed to cast a few at the beginning and end of our hike to no avail.

We received our negative COVID test results. We should be allowed back into Canada.

Alex was the Carcassonne champion this evening beating his Papa by one point. I was only  second last.

Drizzly Day

Guilford, Connecticut 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Today’s forecast for rain all day did not materialize. We had a drizzly morning and a cloudy afternoon with only occasional drizzle. Everyone slept in this morning. I guess we were counting on rain.

After yoga and breakfast I made tart shells and another pie crust to be further enhanced tomorrow. 

I went for a drizzly walk from the house around the neighbourhood and to the Monastery of Our Lady of Grace on Hoop Pole Road. This was only a 3.6 kilometre walk including checking out the outdoor sculptures for the fourteen stations of the cross. Through the woods was about half the distance that it takes to drive there.

Shawn and Brian went fishing at Chatfield Hollow. They had some nibbles but it was not as exciting a fishing day, but they had a four kilometre walk to get to their fishing spot and back. There were also several other fishermen!  Agnes went to work at the lab for a few hours. Julie chatted and played online games with her friends. Alex rehung photos and posters in his bedroom that he recently painted.

Charm and Oats are the resident cats. Charm tends to occupy Alex’s room. Sometimes she sneaks into our room and will happily sleep in my suitcase if I leave it open, but she slinks quickly out of the room as soon as I enter. Oats likes to be where the action is or in front of the fireplace, as close as she can get. She likes our yoga mat and happily chases string.

Shawn has his striped bass in his smoker. He has made ceviche with part of the fish. We will soon be able to taste that. Brian and I prepared sweet and sour ribs, more commonly known by the family as Christmas ribs, for supper. Agnes, Julie and Alex went for a walk around the neighbourhood while we were in the kitchen. 

Shawn and I went for a 4.9 kilometre walk around the neighbourhood that included another forested trail I did not know. We arrived home in darkness. There are no street lights in this wooded subdivision.

Agnes beat Brian buy one point at Carcassonne tonight and I was the biggest loser! 

American Thanksgiving

Guilford, Connecticut 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Alex, Brian and Shawn finished stacking all of the firewood into the shed. Julie and Alex finished putting up,the Christmas lights because it was a lovely day to do so. 11C. The lights will not be turned on until next weekend. Thanksgiving weekend has to be truly over.

I finished reading The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles. I wanted to be sure to finish it before Libby recalled my electronic book to the library. I love books about books and libraries. This was no exception. It was based on real events and people from The American Library in Paris. The story goes back and forth between the Second World War years and a town in Montana in the1980s. Of course I am now drawn to many of the books referenced in this book. My reading journey continues.

Agnes prepared the savoury sausage stuffing from the 2019 holiday issue of LCBO Food and Drink recipe with suggestions and support from me.

Our hike today was a five minute drive away on the Genesee Water Authority land. Shawn frequently bikes there. Alex has also biked the trails. Without Shawn’s direction we might still be wandering. The trails are not marked as well as yesterday’s. In seven kilometres we gained 170 metres of ascent, considerably more than yesterday’s 77 metres over five kilometres. I would not bike there but then I do not have a bike with fat tires. 

We saw many old stone walls and the remains of stone foundations.  In 1770 the original settlers were on their way to the Genesee Valley in New York, but they broke a wagon wheel and decided they had gone far enough. This area became known as The Little Genesee Settlement. It was abandoned around 1870.

I whipped the cream for our pumpkin pie. The raspberry pie was gobbled up last night with the small amount remaining disappearing today. Our feast was excellent: turkey with sausage stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, rosemary roasted squash and green beans a la Shawn.

We had our first game night. We played Carcassonne. I won, followed closely by Agnes.

Successful Fishing

Guilford, Connecticut 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Success!  Our fishermen came home excited from their late afternoon fishing expedition. They caught fourteen fish but only kept one, a thirty-three inch striped bass. Shawn had waded twenty yards off shore to catch this one although many of their catches were right from shore . They decided they wanted time to decide how they wanted to cook their fish; so, we are cleaning out the fridge and having stir fry for supper. A lovely medley including calamari appetizers.

While Brian and Shawn were fishing, Agnes and I were in the kitchen. Agnes made the brine for the Thanksgiving turkey then she chopped pork, ham and vegetables for our stir fry. I made pastry then made a raspberry and a pumpkin pie.

Before cooking/baking and fishing, we went for our first hike of the week with all six of us. We drove to Parmelee Farm, now owned by the town of Killingworth. The 132 acre farm has trails over its fields and through the woods. The five different coloured trails are well sign posted with maps at each trail intersection. Each coloured trail is named after past owners. The original homestead in 1847 was only three and a half acres owned by Horace and Eunice Parmelee. We walked on four of the five trails through plenty of oak forests and many groves of mountain laurel. 

We think the best time to walk these trails would be in the spring when the ground would be alive with wild flowers and the mountain laurel would be in bloom or perhaps later when all the blueberries are ripe for gathering. Plans are currently underway for the Killingworth Historical Society’s annual Christmas Fair. It appears that the community is very much involved in the restoration and upkeep of the farm.

This morning I raked leaves while Brian used the leaf blower to push them into the woods or over the slope. Raking oak leaves is a daily autumn pursuit on this well treed property. One by one the oak trees laugh at us as they take turns dispersing their leaves all over the lawn day after day. Alex piled firewood for winter.

Last night Alex entertained us while he practiced his cello. Tonight Julie is entertaining us with her violin. It is wonderful to hear them play. Christmas tunes are now part of their practice for upcoming events.

Shawn has filleted the bass. It is ready for a future meal. i think they are going to smoke it.

Chatfield Hollow

Guilford, Connecticut 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Another fabulous blue sky day. Even with a temperature of zero Celsius, there was no frost.

Brian and I went for a hike this morning at a Chatfield Hollow just east on 80 at Killingworth. On Sunday when we passed this state forest, the parking lot was full. This morning when we arrived, the dog walkers were out en masse, but they did their walking on the park roads. No one followed us up the white Lookout Trail. We did the full circuit and never saw another hiker. We could see a lot farther through the trees with most of the leaves down. There is much more up and down to trails here compared to home.

After 3.5 kilometres on the white trail, we checked out the park map board and decided to do the red Ridge Trail. The map did not indicate any levels of difficulty for any of the trails. The red was about 2.5 kilometres long but more difficult than the white one, more ascents and descents and rugged rocks underfoot. On the red trail we saw a large doe gracefully lope through the trees below us but she did not pose for a photo. We saw a red headed woodpecker. The bright scarlet head was eye catching.

We finished the red trail at the replica covered bridge then walked just over a kilometer along the park road that took us past Schreeder Pond where we swam with the kids a few years ago. No thought of swimming today. I do not know what the water temperature was but there was a very cold north wind, our first windy day. Since there are thirty-two kilometres of trails in this forest, we have many more possibilities.

We stopped at Roberts Food Store to pick up some ground meat and spaghetti for supper. The cashier asked if we qualified for the Tuesday discount. When we looked at her blankly,she told us shoppers over sixty-five get a ten percent discount on Tuesdays. We told her we definitely qualified. 

After preparing meatballs and sauce for supper, we spent half an hour booking our appointment for Saturday for our PCR tests. We started the process online but in the end we had to phone to validate who we were. The lady who responded to our call was very helpful.

Alex and Julie are now on holiday time for a long Thanksgiving weekend.

Baking and Waterfalls

Guilford, Connecticut 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Not every day is sunny, but it was still warm at 12C. We began the day with drizzle. It was back to work and school for those of us who are not retired.

After yoga and breakfast we visited the Eddie Bauer store to return a few items. Brian was very busy in the past two years ordering clothing, some of which did not fit.

We went to the new Big Y in Clinton to pick up a few groceries. Everyone over sixty-five was doing the same thing. I guess they were stocking up before the Thanksgiving last minute shoppers. Anyone who wants to make pecan pie is out of luck. No pecans. We are okay. Agnes found some at the old Big Y.

A wet day sets me to baking; so, I made chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Adrian made a delicious lemon ricotta cake a couple of weeks ago. I decided to make one for dinner but failing to find ricotta, I made one with cottage cheese. I did not have the right sized spring form pan but I put parchment into a cake tin. It is still in the oven.

Shawn came home early enough to take us on a waterfall adventure. Brian and Shawn were on a fishing trip. I was out for the beauty of waterfalls and forest. Although they saw some fish, not fish was sufficiently attracted to their flies. We walked along a fast flowing stream that took us to two waterfalls. We scrambled over rocks, forded the stream climbed the rocks to go to the top of the waterfalls then down again later. We ducked under fallen trees and did not fall into the stream in spite of slippery and sometimes tippy rocks. The sun was beginning to set as we hurried back to the car. A lovely glow through the trees.

Brian and Shawn barbecued the oysters tonight then blended Parmesan, butter, tarragon and soya sauce and topped each oyster in the shell and set them under the broiler.  I liked them better than raw oysters 

Brian made the recipe from the LCBO magazine for Roasted Butternut Parsnip Soup with Stilton Toasts to which he could not resist adding bacon. Shawn and I made salad without bacon.

We have finished dining. All was very tasty. The lemon cottage cheese cake was a success based on all six of us tasters. It was very good as is but I could see it being very versatile with fruit or chocolate chips being baked in it or a fruit glaze drizzled on top or fruit served with it, much as Margaret’s yogurt cake works. The recipe came from myitaliankitchen.com

Forest hikes

Guilford, Connecticut 

Sunday, November 21, 2021



An even warmer beautiful autumn day. 12 C. We did such a good job raking leaves yesterday afternoon that we were deserving of a day off today.

Brian and Shawn went fishing again this morning but they did not get up as early as yesterday. They only left here at 9AM. The trout were not as plentiful. They only caught one small one and threw it back. We will be having cod for supper from Big Y.

We already had oysters as an appetizer. We always eat very well. Last night Shawn barbecued thick pork chops and Agnes prepared mini roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts. The previous night Shawn made a favourite: udon noodles mixed with turkey pieces and vegetables.

I went for a four kilometre walk around the neighbourhood but in a different direction. I turned around when I was close to the gun club’s shooting range. Too much noise for me! I very much enjoyed the colorful forest from a newly paved road. Edward Rutherfurd’s book, The Princes of Ireland, accompanied me.

Shawn made a delicious pizza for lunch. Julie went to a friend’s for the afternoon and Alex joined us for a hike In the Westwoods where we followed the orange and white trails to Lost Lake. Our five kilometre hike took us up and down through the forest with its many amazing erratics and large rock surfaces. We found the split rock with a cedar growing in it. Shawn said the first time they found it, Alex was considerably smaller, twelve years ago when he was five.

Beach and Drama

Guilford, Connecticut 

November 20, 2021

What a delightful blue sky, windless autumn day!

Brian and Shawn arose at 6 this morning to go fly fishing. This has been one of Shawn’s favourite pursuit during COVID. He was happy to share this pleasure with his Dad today. Both of them caught two fish. In case you are wondering, Brian caught the largest one, but Shawn was best dressed with water gear to wade in to net the fish for a photo op. None of the fish met the required length between 28 and 35 inches; so, each fish was tossed back to swim some more.

When I got up, later, everyone else was still dozing; so, I had a quiet cup of tea with cereal and yogourt and went for a four kilometre walk around this wooded neighbourhood. Most of the leaves are decorating the hilly forested subdivision with its many rocky outcrops. Some oaks and most beech trees still retain their leaves.

When I returned to the house, Agnes was making pancakes for the late risers and the soon to be returning fishermen.

Shawn drove us to Hammonasset Beach, one of our favourite hiking places here. We like the beautiful views of Long Island Sound as we walk over, around and on the huge bouders. There were many fishing boats on the sound. Brian and Shawn spent more time fishing whil Agnes, Julie and I walked the sandy part of the beach. No, I did not bring my bathing suit and test the chilly waters. Alex did not join us as he had to do a full dress rehearsal this afternoon for this evening’s performance of The Diary of Anne Frank.

We went home via the Clinton docks where a small restaurant served us takeout. We had fabulous lobster rolls, better than any we had in the Maritimes.

These past three nights Guilford High School presented their first drama production with live audience in two years. It was a stellar performance by all involved. Alex had the roles of radio broadcaster and soldier the first two nights and was the understudy for the dentist, Dr. Düssel. Tonight all of the understudies performed their roles. 

It was the longest I have ever kept on a mask, almost three hours. I am doubly impressed by the masked performances of these actors. Their voices projected the emotions that we could not see on masked faces. We are so pleased to have been able to attend.