Home and Back Again.

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Well, my friends… we finally made the long drive to New Brunswick, we hugged family and friends, had some laughs, shed a tear or two, and now we’re back home again. Home in Ottawa. And happy to be “just we two” once more, in our little house on the river.

And I am happy to be back on the blog. Excited for what fall will bring.

two smiling travellers happy to be back on the road.
Happy to be on the road again.

Instead of writing a travel post I put some snippets of our trip together into a vlog. Hope you like it. It’s not too long this time. I edited the heck out of it! So pour yourself a second cup of tea and enjoy. Hopefully. Ha.

Now. A couple of things I showed you in the vlog require some explaining. The sign, below, for example. I laugh every time we drive by this sign. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is a town well known to all New Brunswickers who make the yearly trek back home. Not the town itself, exactly, which I’m sure is lovely… just the name and the road sign. Back in the nineties, when I actually found out what a “ha-ha” was, the sign became even more funny. And I’ve always wondered how the word ha-ha, which historically means a deep ditch or a sunken fence, or other impediment, presumably in this case nearby Lake Témiscouata, morphed into Ha! Ha! with those distinctive and apparently famous exclamation marks.

the famous Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! sign on the highway back home
The sign all homeward-bound Maritimers know.

And here’s the other story I didn’t tell in the video. To give Mum a break from so much “company,” Hubby and I spent three days in Saint Andrews by-the-Sea. We stayed at a brand-spanking-new Air B&B, owned by my sister and her husband and their daughter and her husband. We were their first guests, and we stayed gratis. As they requested, we helped by pointing out any bits they might have missed when they were setting up the house. Like the missing cork-screw. Ha.

Anyway, when we were leaving Mum’s, I packed in a hurry and forgot my make-up. My entire make-up bag. All of it, except for a cover-up stick, lip balm, and lipstick which were in my purse. Gasp. I was forced to show my bare face in public… strolling downtown, sitting in restaurants… for the first time since I was a teenager. But, you know, it wasn’t a totally scarring or scary experience. Mind you, I wielded that cover-up to the best of my ability, under my eyes, and on my patches of rosacea, and I used the lipstick somewhat creatively as a blush, and even as a bit of eye-colour. And I lived to tell the tale.

Maybe I can do without make-up all the time? Maybe this was an opportunity for personal growth? Pfft. Let’s not get carried away. Now that my hair is white I need colour. On my eyebrows and cheeks in particular. Still. It was… interesting.

woman and child, back home in New Brunswick.
Pale-faced great-Auntie

As you saw in the video, Hubby and I met some new friends when we were home. Denise MacLean and her husband Scott who own a beautiful heritage property in the countryside near Harvey, New Brunswick. If Hubby and I ever leave our riverside idyll, I’d want a country place just like theirs. I first “met” Denise through the blog and on Instagram. She makes wonderful pottery. You can follow her on IG here. And I found out that her husband Scott is the brother of an old friend of mine. Cool, eh? As Denise said when we arrived, “Isn’t the internet wonderful?” Scott and their son have started a craft brewery “Think Brewing” which he spoke about in the video. The beer is great. If you are drinking beer in New Brunswick, make sure to ask for it. You can follow them on Facebook here.

two mugs made by Denise MacLean Pottery
My new mugs made by Denise MacLean.

So yeah, we’re back home. And happy to be here. Hubby is currently packing for his fall wilderness canoe trip. So he’s happy. And I am happily anticipating my alone time when he’s gone. And which I sorely missed in the spring thanks to Covid. Hubby and I love to be together. But we do need some time apart. At least I do. For six days I will be all alone… and loving it. I wrote a whole post about my alone time a few years ago. You can read that here, if you’re interested.

I’ll be doing a lot of shopping, and meeting up with friends, organizing my fall closet, and sitting in this very chair with my tea and my book. Every single morning. Unless it rains. Sigh.

red Adirondack chair by the Rideau River

Now that I’m back I will be returning to my regular posting schedule. Oh… we have so much to talk about, my friends. What have you been up to these last few weeks?

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From the archives

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Spring smells like mud where I live. The glorious, much anticipated smell of melting snow and bare ground. The harbinger of marble season.

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Everyone it seems loved The Lunminaries. Everyone but me.

63 thoughts on “Home and Back Again.”

  1. Very interesting, thank you. I have not been to NB and was surprised to see the highway signs in French. I hope you get
    your make up bag back!

  2. So lovely! Visiting your Mum and friends and sweet children! Now we know where you’ve got your good look and good genes!
    And such a lovely nature indeed!
    If you’ve got lost in Quebec,you might find Three Pines ;)(I guess,it would not be exciting to you,considering your indiference to Chief Inspector Gamache)
    I’ve been to the Adriatic (twice actually, for 11,12 days)
    It was nice to see your “hood”!
    Dottoressa

      1. It’s actually North Hatley so you’d have to detour south from the 20 to Sherbrooke and go south. It’s in the Eastern Townships ( Cantons de l’est) for your non Canadian readers: all major high way signs in Canada are in French and English. ( yes, even in TORONTO) French is our second official language. As someone pointed out New Brunswick is our only OFFICIAL bilingual province though Ontario and other provinces with large francophone populations offer services in French at the provincial level. Throughout Canada all federal services to the public are required to be available in both French and English. In many provinces French immersion education is offered. While I am not a francophone, my husband is. He is Acadian and spoke French long before he spoke English. I was so happy to have the opportunity in Ottawa to have my sons educated in French. In their twenties now both are fluently bilingual and have found it most helpful when applying for jobs or having a conversation with their Pépère!

        1. Yes, I know. Been to the townships. A lovely part of Quebec. Maybe a big detour enroute from Ottawa to highway 20. A two day detour to allow for shopping in the antique stores. 🙂

  3. Yeah you are back! I so enjoy reading your blog that I’ve missed you. You look exactly like your mom! I’m glad you got to spend time with your family. The little ones are quite the fountains of youth! So adorable.. Agree that travel is wonderful but there is no place like home. We are off to the beach next week and I can hardly wait. But at the end of a week away I know I will long for home.

    1. Thank you, Kat. As my mum and I get older, and have a more similar hair colour… she was brunette with dark eyes and I was blonde-ish with grey eyes… we look more and more similar. But when I was young I looked the spitting image of her sister Marion. Round face, blue eyes, curly hair. My grandmother always called me Marion, which used to kind of freak me out because Marion died before her 22nd birthday. So sad.

  4. Thank you for taking us along on your trip! My husband and I have made the road trip to the Maritimes several times, usually from Ontario, but also from Montreal when we lived there early in our marriage. Now we have a daughter-in-law from Nova Scotia — she and our son currently live in Ottawa, but I fully expect them to move to the Halifax area at some point in the next few years. Many more road trips in our future!

    So glad that you were finally able to spend time with your mum!

    1. I love Halifax. And the surrounding areas. Chester, Mahone Bay, and a bit further down the coast, Lunenburg. Sigh. Don’t get me started. Hubby played golf when we were in Saint Andrews with someone from Mahone Bay. Love it there.

  5. Jennifer Larking

    1,000 km is such a long journey that I’m not surprised you are glad to get back to your home on the river. It was lovely to see the ferry running and imagining you as a girl driving it. Also seeing your view on top of the hill with the pink/red chairs like those on your deck. Are they a Canadian speciality? I love them. It’s hard to see our parents getting older and needing care but your Mum looks very well looked after and loved. See you next month for Sue’s Fall Fashion ideas.

    1. I was pleased to see the ferry running as well. And that view from the top of Keswick Ridge is one I have always loved. Far below you can see the Saint John River, and Mum’s farm if you look closely. My brother and sister-in-law’s home is up on “the Ridge” and when I drive that route I always think I should stop and take a picture. This time I actually did. Not sure about the chairs. Ha.

  6. Welcome back . Loved going along with you back home , driving along the roads of eastern Canada . How very quiet they are – no traffic jams in Canada obviously . Your mum looks so good for her age which bodes well for you . It was very nice to meet your family & the new little ones . I’m a great great aunt too which is rather grim . And how clever Denise is to make such fabulous pottery . I want it all .
    What have I been doing ? Well lots of pruning of trees & shrubs in the garden . Periods of hot weather then heavy rain have sent the garden all tropical . So it’s been quite a workout . There’s been a family birthday party which started off outside then the rains came again so we raced inside . We haven’t sat indoors together for 18 months but all’s well according to the good old lateral flow tests . Who thought that would become normal . I’ve also bought a tiny MP3 player for audio books . It’s time I got into them , though I much prefer a book & the voices in my imagination . My eyes will be grateful I’m sure .

    1. I admit I had to hold back from buying that grey bowl/platter as well as the mugs when I was at Denise’s studio. One of the things I enjoy about audio books is listening to books I might not want to read, or reread, but are fun to listen to because of the voices. Like the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen. They are a bit silly, but fun. Plus all the old Agatha Christie books narrated by David Suchet and others narrated by Hugh Fraser. So fun.

  7. It is great to have you safely back, Sue. You and your blog were missed.
    We have been back for a couple of weeks from a 9 hr drive ( each way) to see my very “with it and active” 99 year young Mom. It was our first time seeing her in person since covid arrived. So Great to safely see relatives and collect some much missed hugs, isn’t it?
    Love your Mauve/Heather coloured top and especially like your earrings! It looks like a dressy and comfortable look for the start of fall, which is just around the corner!

  8. I loved visiting a new part of Canada with you and seeing the beautiful countryside. In fall 2009 my hubby and I did a circle tour of Lake Superior with our camper. We saw lovely fall colors and met a Canadian couple who were driving across Canada from east to west. That would be a fun trip!

    I totally understand the challenges of caring for your mom. Mine just turned 94 on August 27th. She is also very frail. Last July, I cared for her for 2 weeks as she transitioned from a hospital stay back to her apartment. She is 87# and it was hard to see how thin her arms and legs had become. She is now on hospice care. She isn’t actively dying, but she is at the point where she only wants comfort care—no more hospital stays. I’m glad you were able to finally visit your mom in person.

    1. Lake Superior is amazing, Isn’t it? We stayed in our tent trailer a few nights on the shores of Lake Superior on our way to Saskatoon and back again. Felt like falling asleep on the ocean. It’s very hard to see our Mums, who figured so largely in our lives, shrink in so many ways, isn’t it?

  9. So sorry we missed you this trip but loved the vlog! I have some of Denise’s mugs as well & the friend Scott started out with is a friend of ours that operates Off Grid, which is on Harvey Lake & truly off grid. Next visit hopefully you can come to our island & see our camp. Even if it’s just for an afternoon.

    1. Ah, Kim, I am so sorry we didn’t connect this time. Mum’s had problems with her care givers on three separate days, plus she wasn’t feeling all that well. So I was pretty much on call most of the time. Next time… though! 🙂
      P.S. Thanks again for organizing Jonathan’s trailer for us. It was a bit of a lifesaver.

  10. It was just lovely to see your vlog and read your blog. After many, many weeks of lockdown here in Sydney, it was terrific to visit somewhere new, even if it was only virtually! 😁 Thanks for sharing your trip. Stay safe and well!

  11. Glad you were able to see Mom and spend time with other family. Thanks for taking us along on the journey. Completely understand about you looking forward to a week on your own–my DH is heading out west soon to celebrate his father’s 89th birthday and see the rest of his family. Hasn’t seen them for more than two years. I–on the other hand–am quite content to remain here with the dog and not make dinner for 10 days.
    Looking forward to your fall postings–fashion, books and life in general.

  12. While watching your vlog, I made an interesting discovery: Cadence and I eat pie the same way! He’s clearly a smart young man who has realized that forks just slow down the process too much.

    You must have been so happy to go on your trip and to see your mom, Sue! My in-law’s are finally returning to their roots in Nova Scotia to see their respective families: they are celebrating the 109th birthday of a matriarch! And I finally got to see my brother and nephew after 2 1/2 years apart….kids look like entirely new beings when you see them again after so much time apart.

    As for me, I”m ready for the fall: I’m ready to start using my brain again, to wear footwear other than flip-flops or cycling shoes, to teach to actual human kids in front of me instead of on-line, to resume coaching a U12 ski team, and to shuttling my kids off to hockey every weekend. And I’m hopeful….hopeful that there won’t be another lock-down this fall (or at least a shorter one instead of months and months) and hopeful that the school year might be better than the mess we’ve had to deal with for the last 2 years!

    1. Wow… 109. Andy’s family must have the good genes. I can see you as a 109-year-old matriarch. Bossing everyone around from your walker. Ha. Hope this year at school is not at all like the last two. Good luck. I’ll be thinking of you on Tuesday. xo

  13. All’s right with the world- Sue is back and we get to enjoy reading her post! Lovely vacation footage – thanks for sharing!

  14. So good to have you back. I loved travelling along with you and seeing a part of the country that I have not been to as yet. Missing my makeup bag would have me running to the nearest drug store even if just for my eyebrows. Good for you for getting creative. We can tell it was hard for you to see the changes that the many months have made with your mum, but really great to get there for a good visit. I bet Stu will be eager to get out on the rivers and spend time chatting with the fish. My husband has not had a final conformation of his 4 day trip the end of this month, so fingers crossed that it works out for him and for me.
    Looking forward to regular posts coming our way with fun conversations of clothes and fashion and books etc. to enjoy when not out in the gardens.
    P.s. We actually enjoyed a lovely lunch inside a restaurant this weekend to celebrate my B day and it felt relatively normal. Yay.

    1. Stu spent some quality fishing time while we were in New Brunswick too. He was happy to get back to the New Brunswick bush. In fact he’s happy in the bush anywhere. 🙂 I on the other hand am very happy to be back home planning fashion posts and rubbing my hands together in anticipation of fall.

  15. How lovely to see New Brunswick again! Thanks for sharing your trip with us, wrong turns and all. 🙂
    What have I been doing? Still organizing the apartment now that our stuff is here, and as Frances put it, swanning around in my newly expanded wardrobe. And we held our first dinner party in our new home on Friday evening, which was quite fun – it feels really good to be back in the swing of things.

  16. I’m glad you were able to get away for a change of scenery and family time. We’re doing a bit of transplanting in the gardens to be ready for spring, and enjoying our walks with our rescue dog more now that the temps have moderated.
    I finally got the book you recommended, The Conscious Closet, from my library. I am planning the fall closet change very soon. She really has some interesting facts that I think will change my shopping habits. Thanks for mentioning it.

    1. Isn’t it lovely when the temperature dips back down below 30°C? We had several really hot, humid, uncomfortable days down east. Hope you enjoy The Conscious Closet, Deanne.

  17. Like all your blogging friends, glad to read you back,safe after a wonderful tip.Loved seeing all the pictures. We in the really lower 48(NE Fla) know so very little about our neighbors to the north,think that’s why I enjoy Louise Penny’s book-I always learn something maybe not too good!

    1. I’ve been to the townships where Louise Penny novels are set. Can’t say that I’ve encountered any murderers. But then again most of the mysteries I read take place in the UK. And I don’t think that Northumberland is as murderous as “Vera” depicts it. Ha.

  18. Thank you sharing your trip home with us. I can hear in your voice your concerns for your Mum. She looks quite well cared for! I used to watch ballgames with my Dad when he came to live with us after my Mom passed. I’m a nurse so his care was considered a blessing that I knew how to manage his health issues. All I can say is love them while you have them!

  19. I really enjoyed that, sitting here in my quiet house, Sunday evening drink to hand, dinner cooking downstairs. It is 37 years since I visited Canada, driving through the Rockies to Alberta, and lovely to see such a beautiful, generous country. Enjoy your peace and quiet and early mornings by the river.

    1. Thanks, Annie. Bet that was a lovely drive through the Rockies. We drove from Edmonton up to Dawson City and Alaska one year, then down through BC, Jasper and Banff back to Calgary. It was an amazing trip

  20. I’m so glad that you were able to make the trip to visit family and friends. Your blog is a joy to read and I save it for a quiet time in my day so I can savor it. While you live in Canada and I live in the US it points out how we have life experiences that are so similar. Your post about the first snow was one of my favorites and while I’m hoping that snow is not in the forecast soon for us here in Colorado it is always special to me. I’ll get up in the middle of the night just to see the first flakes falling. Thanks for sharing special memories and bringing joy to so many.

  21. I enjoyed your trip video and appreciate the drive to one’s hometown, as I also grew up in a rural area that takes hours to reach via car. We are about to set off next week on a similar journey, and I’m sure I’ll be glad to get home when it’s over. But right now, it’s exciting to think of going anywhere. We’ll visit the western shore of Lake Superior first, and then my mom. She lives near DH’s favorite golf course, so he can play while I visit and help her with anything that she has on her “list” for me.

    1. Lake Superior is stunning. Like an ocean. We camped at Lake Superior Provincial Park one year…. the waves sounded just like we were on the coast. Enjoy your trip. P.S. Hubby golfed and fished while we were in Fredericton, while I attended to the “list”. Ha.

  22. I thought I left a comment here, but can’t see it, so I might have done something wrong (Who? Me? 😉
    Fun to travel vicariously with you — it’s almost 20 years since we did that drive (Paul was living in Ottawa, but working throughout the Atlantic provinces) — although we took a circuitous route, up through Rivière du Loup, if I’m remembering correctly, which is a big If! And I’m so pleased that you were able to spend time with your mom and cuddle those (super Cute!!) additions to the family. And I’m also glad you’re back home and ready to post again . . . ’cause I’m ready to read your posts. xo

    1. We’ve done that loop too. Crossing from St-Siméon near the mouth of the Saguenay to Rivière-du-Loup when we stay at our timeshare at L-Anse-Saint-Jean. Driving highway 40 back to Montreal through The Charlevoix area instead of highway 20 on the south side of the St Lawrence makes for a nice change. I am so ready to be back, though…. so ready!

  23. St. Andrews By-The-Sea is one of my favourite places in N.B. There are many creative artisans in the area and of course “Cottage Craft” sweaters and yarns.
    I hope that your relatives do well with their new B&B….is there a website for booking with them?

    1. Ah… Cottage Craft is no more, unfortunately. But the next best thing for me was visiting Briggs and Little woolen mill in Harvey where the Cottage Craft yard was sourced. My niece and her hubby are not quite finished setting up their air B&B. They don’t plan to officially open until next year. But I will publish their link when I get it. Thanks for asking.

  24. Ah, welcome back. Thank you for the trip through Canada. It will do me for now until I finally get to visit family in Ontario. Celebrating my Mother’s 90th next week, although it will just be me, as her care home is on semi lockdown…again! Oh well, we mask up and do what we can. I have been wearing my summer tops, and realizing, for some this should be the last time…so donate. Though you have raised my consciousness to the fact that a lot donated does not quite turn out as intended, what to do? I look forward to all your future blogs.

    1. Thanks, Heather. I expect that parts of Canada will be back in lockdown before winter if we don’t get that dratted Delta variant under control. I am happy that you could be with your mum on her birthday… even if it’s a very small party. 🙁 I am excited to sift through my clothes soon… with an eye to reducing my closet excess. But the donating thing is a problem now that I know more about it. In July I visited a small thrift store in a neighbouring village and left my bag of clothes there since they did not have the deluge of donations that places in Ottawa had.

  25. You and “hubby” appear so companionable even when GPS takes you where you don’t want to go. And, as you said so well, wilderness places still exist with their own amazing stories.

    Hugs to you as you grieve your mother’s “dwindles”.

    love until next month from Camano Island,
    Diney

  26. Hi Sue, Loved the trip to and through New Brunswick and so happy for you that you were finally able to visit your mum and see family and friends. CC reminds me of Isla, ( they’re a similar age ) she loves singing “ Happy Birthday “ at the moment and making cakes out of sand! Denise’s pottery and the Craft Brewery sound fantastic … I love a good IPA 😊 and her mugs and platters are gorgeous. As is the area they live in!
    I noticed yesterday that Canada is opening its borders … I’m dreaming about hopping on a plane, but guess it’s not very likely this year. Seems cautious to wait a little longer.
    I’m a little late here as we were away in Cambridge for a few days celebrating our 40th! Gosh where do the years go! I took lots of pics so I’ll hopefully get around to posting some shortly.
    So lovely to see your mum and hear that she has lovely “girls” caring for her. It was hard to leave, I imagine …
    Take care.
    Rosie

  27. ps … I’ve been thinking, you’ll be able to wear those gorgeous “new” grey sweater dresses soon! Well, I imagine they still feel new! They were such great buys … and so versatile 🤣 xx

  28. Ahhh…well, I thought I left a comment, but can’t find it. Wrote about a long ago family trip to La Malbie along the St Lawrence Riverway. Brought our fishing equipment and marveled at the different coloring of the trout (I think) from the California Sierras type.
    None the less, welcome back! Hope all is well with your mum and the your time back in the ole stomping grounds was sweet.
    Charlene H

    1. Thought that mention of La Malbaie sounded familiar. You did leave a comment about hat Charlene… but on a post a week or so ago. The “Back in the Hood” post. 🙂

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