In a previous post you saw one view of the village of La Celle sous Chantemerle. Here is another, looking over a wall, with the nearby forest in the background. The village name translates literally into English as “The Cellar below Chantemerle” and refers to the champagne cellars in this village with reference to the neighbouring village of Chantemerle which is located on a hill above.  The Chantemerle is a particular bird common to the area.

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If you saw a previous post, you will already know that one of my passions is sailing, and that one of my favourite places to sail is Lake Diefenbaker. In 2013, my sailing buddy and his friend and I packed our camping gear onto WindRider trimarans and set out from Tuft’s Bay, near the village of Elbow, Saskatchewan. We pulled up on a beach next to Hitchcock Bay and chose that for the first campsite of the trip. It was near perfect, especially the next morning as the sun rose and from the hilltop behind our tents we could see the lake stretching out to the east and south. Check out  more about the week’s experience on this Youtube video.

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The fishing village of Busua is nestled between two lagoons on the coast of Ghana. Those villagers who do not go to sea to fish tend their farms in the rolling hills that extend back from the ocean. The village is home to the Ahantehene, Nana Baidoo Bonso, the Paramount  Chief of the Ahanta people. Nana was a student in the Half Assini Secondary School when I taught there in the early 1970’s. This view is from the rooftop of the African Rainbow Resort in the village. IMG_1647

In October I was blessed with a wonderful reason to visit France – the arrival of a grandchild!! It was my first time to the country and I was not disappointed. Most of our two weeks were spent in a small village, La Celle sous Chantemerle, in the heart of champagne country, with several family champagne houses found down narrow lanes and vineyards extending in all directions. It was idyllic – the countryside had a feeling that it had not changed in centuries and it had a rural charm that took my mind back to a simpler time, a time of community and self-sufficiency when neighbours were important.

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Well, I promised to post some of the paintings that I have done this winter and so here goes the first one. Inspired by a photo that I took in July, 2014 when on a sailing/camping trip on Lake Diefenbaker with my sailing buddy, Darryl. This was our favourite campsite for this trip, and one which we used a second time on the return leg of the trip. I posted a 20 minute video of the trip on Youtube. Lake Diefenbaker was created when two dams were constructed on the South Saskatchewan River in the late 50’s/early 60’s. It stretches out 140 miles from the Gardner Dam at the east end to Saskatchewan Landing in the west. Darryl and I outfitted our WindRider trimaran sailboats with camping gear for the 5 day/4night expedition. There are many excellent places to pull up on shore for camping or picnicking. IMG_1645

With the encouragement of several folks who are close to me, I am reawakening this long dormant blog and adding a new category to it – Painting. Last year I had the urge to try something that for far too long I had considered to be beyond my abilities – painting. It was something that I had not done since my days in the one room country school that I attended. In those days, for art class we shared a limited selection of watercolours that came in large round tins. I don’t recall any of our teachers being particularly talented artists and without anyone to inspire us, our efforts showed it!

When my own children were in high school they had different opportunities. My son took lessons in painting with watercolours and my youngest daughter followed suit. They each produced paintings that are still on display, and later their sister joined in, adding to the wall displays. I was rather proud of their artistic abilities, and even a bit envious because I did not think that I could do nearly as well.

Last year, that changed. I started off some acrylic craft paints and some cheap brushes, painting on sketch book paper. Although I didn’t think much of those first efforts, others (meaning my partner and my children – I was not quite ready to subject myself to any “real” criticism!!) were generous with their praise and encouragement, and over a period of a month or so, I had produced a dozen “paintings”!! I will share a few of last year’s efforts here, and then will follow up with some from this year:

First campsite, Lake Diefenbaker 2014

First campsite, Lake Diefenbaker 2014

Surfing at Cape Three Points

Surfing at Cape Three Points

Snow Route

Snow Route

 

 

 

Bridge City

Some events are just too important to stand by and do nothing, even when we feel that our actions might not change the outcome. This morning, I posted this letter to my Member of Parliament, Hon. Lynne Yelich.

Hon. Lynne Yelich, P.C., M.P.

House of Commons

Ottawa, Canada

April 18, 2013

Dear Ms. Yelich:

This letter has been simmering in my mind for some time, and each time that I witness another of your government’s actions, my temperature rises. The thought that your government is on the verge of signing FIPA, in spite of mounting opposition to it from many fronts, has my blood boiling.

In 2011, I returned to live in Canada after an absence of ten years. The country to which I returned was not the same country that I left and the changes that had taken place are becoming ever more pronounced. With these changes, Canadians can no longer feel pride from living in a peaceable, honourable, democratic country.

As environmental protections are systematically dismantled by legislation rammed through parliament in omnibus bills, this country can no longer consider itself one that demonstrates care for the environment. When taxpayer funded scientific research that could clearly point out flaws in current energy policy is cut and what remains is muzzled by government direction, it is not difficult to see the forces that are influencing such actions.

Canada is no longer a country which can be known to fulfill its commitments and legal obligations. Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto protocol. It has withdrawn from various UN programs. The omnibus bills, C-45 and C-36, contain various components that will renege on the treaty obligations which Canada has with First Nations.  Meanwhile, as we are withdrawing from obligations such as these, your government is preparing to sign FIPA, which will obligate future generations in much more costly ways. Unbelievable!!

Recently I signed an online letter to the PM regarding Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. You responded and I thank you for that. Today I signed yet another online letter to the government, this time regarding FIPA. I do not know what you feel about such internet generated letters. If you dismiss them as merely an annoying distraction, I hope that you do so at your own peril when the next election rolls around.

Many ordinary Canadians such as myself are becoming more and more displeased with the cavalier attitude taken by your government which puts the interest of large international corporations, especially those involved in the oil and gas industry, ahead of its own citizens. We are not happy that Canada has become a country which is open to be exploited by corporate raiders in order to enable the extremely wealthy to become even wealthier.

Ms. Yelich, you represent a riding in Saskatchewan. May I remind you that ours is a province that in the past was noted for its generousity of spirit – an example of that is the founding of medicare. And while your political beliefs may not allow you to embrace democratic socialism, I would hope that you will not have forgotten the culture of caring for all that our province has demonstrated in the past. The oil and pipeline companies are NOT your constituents – the citizens of the Blackstrap Riding are.

I urge you to withdraw from further discussions regarding FIPA and that you encourage your fellow Conservative MP’s to join you. I call on you to reinstate the provisions for protecting the environment that were dismantled in Bill C-45. I ask you to ensure that your government make a concerted effort to fulfill the legal obligations to First Nations that were clearly set out by Treaty. Finally, I beg you to have the courage to act in accordance with the tradition of our parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament act in the interests of their constituents and where those interests come before loyalty to a political party or its leader.

Sincerely,

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