Friday, December 25, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I'm especially thinking of all my wonderful blogging friends.
The biggest delight of blogging for me is the friendship 
of these amazing, kind, and supportive bloggers. 

I hope that you and your loved ones are enjoying 
a lovely time this beautiful Christmas Day!

Terry and I are up in Breckenridge, Colorado,
with Terry's sister, Noreen, her husband Cathal,
their sons Kevin and Conor, and their 
daughter Deirdre and her new husband Will.
It is peaceful here in Breckenridge,
with lots of snow piled up
and a light dust of powder drifting down.

On this Christmas day I thought I would share two things.
The first is a photo of Santa Claus arriving 
in Lansdowne House for a special Christmas party 
Dad held for his Indian children at his school.

It was a brilliant sunny day in Lansdowne House,
the kind that makes your eyes hurt
if you look at the snow too long.
And at a frigid 30º below Fahrenheit (-34º C), 
the snow squeaked when you walked on it.

Somehow the cold rarely mattered in the sunshine;
although, pilots had to cover their ski planes 
to keep the engines from freezing up. 

Santa Claus with Mrs. Mitchell
Lansdowne house, Northern Ontario
December, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The second thing I'm sharing is my favorite Christmas hymn, 
the Huron Carol, the first carol written in Canada,
in North America for that matter.

It was written by Father John de Brébeuf
during his time as a Jesuit missionary
to the Huron Indians from 1626 to 1649.

Martyr and Apostle of the Hurons

The Huron and Iroquois nations were at war 
during the mid-seventeenth century starting in 1642.
The Iroquois attacked his Huron mission,
and after brutally torturing Father de Brébeuf,
they burned him at the stake.

Escaping Hurons saved the words to his carol,
and Father Étienne de Villeneuve recorded them.
The carol was found among de Villeneuve's
papers after his death in 1794.

The Roman Catholic Church beatified
Father John de Brébeuf in 1925
and canonized him as a saint in 1930.
Seven other Jesuit missionaries were canonized with him.

The North American Martyrs

I first heard this haunting carol
when my family went North in early 1961.
From that moment it was my favorite
and remains so today.

The carol is an example of inculturalization.
Early missionaries in Canada used the cultural idioms 
of the Indians to teach them about Christianity.
It was my observation in Lansdowne House
that priests and ministers still used inculturalization.

Here is a recording of Huron Carol by the Canadian Tenors:

And here are the complete lyrics to this beautiful Canadian carol.
I have chosen the 1926 English version by Jesse Edgar Middleton.

'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory
On the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,

In excelsis gloria."

I will be back with my regular Lansdowne Letter posts
on New Year's Day.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday season.

1.  Joseph Boyden, a Canadian author, wrote The Orenda.
     It is an historical novel that takes place in Canada
     during the last days of the Huron Confederacy
     in the early to mid seventeenth century.
     One of its three narrators is a French Jesuit
     missionary priest named Christophe.
     Christophe's character is based on Father John de Brébeuf.  

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Morning Music Break: First Edition and Computers !@#$%^ Argh!

This is how my mind feels sometimes:

You Tube:  You Can't Download Vinyl

It felt loudly like this last Thursday night
when I was trying to finish my northern post.

The Ever-Patient Terry had headed off to bed
biting his tongue to avoid saying,
"Don't stay up late; you know what condition you're in."

He was thinking medically and psychologically.
Some battles can't be won, and he wisely
pulled the covers up over his head and went to sleep.

I was at the counter tearing my hair out
as I tried to upload a Wikipedia map
and mark Lansdowne House on it.
I had managed to do something like that once before,
but I couldn't remember how.

After a lot of cursing, chocolate, and ginger,
more than a few tears,
numerous counter pounds, 
and shenanigans I managed this:

Location of Lake Attawapiskat
Inland from Akimiski Island in James Bay
Wikimedia   edited

Eventually even I figure out the battle is lost,
so I gave up, scheduled my post, and went to bed.
!@#$%^   Argh!

Friday morning:  
With a brand new, sunny day
and a fresh burst of optimism, 
I knew there had to be a better way.

I started searching on Google and found this promising lead:
How to Add Text to Photos Easily Using Preview in Mac OS X.

Now, if you're not challenged by computers, 
i.e. LD in computers, 
nor intimidated,
easily frustrated,
panicked, and 
know you're stupid, Stupid, STUPID with technology,
you probably would have started with that simple search
long before 10:30 p.m. when you're trying to get a post out.
But that's not me.

So I this morning I started in somewhat 
slowly, calmly, methodically,
and voilà:

Wikimedia   edited

On a roll, I kept experimenting:

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

Now, it's not as if I don't know better.
After all, my Apple trainers and
the geniuses at the Genius Bar
have all told me that I go way too fast 
overwhelming my computer so it freezes or crashes, 
don't see things in front of me,
and am too rough with the mousepad and keys.
"Slowly, calmly, gently," Kimberly would say.

I forget all of that when I'm frustrated.

But now I feel brilliant!
Beat you again, Computer!
I figured it out!
Slowly, but surely, I'm making it work!

Now if I can just remember!

On a time-pressed day, Dad could manage this:

Dad's Quick Sketch
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

But with more time and computer help, I can do this:

My Sketch with Preview Help
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I am a happy person!
But one of these days, I'll find The Perfect Map.
In the meantime 
my new maps are stashed in my photo library.

Sheldon would understand!

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Bittersweet

About this time fifty-five years ago,
my father was cut off from the Outside,
as he and others in Northern Ontario waited 
for the lakes to freeze solidly enough for bush planes 
to land and connect them with civilization again.

Winter in Northern Ontario

While Dad waited it out in Lansdowne House, 
Mom persevered alone, looking after we five children
in her mother's home in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia. 
He had no contact with his wife and family,
and they had no contact with him.

In Our Grandmother MacDonald's Backyard
Roy, Donnie, Louise (Me) with Bertie, and Barbie
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia
Photo by Sara MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

During this period my mother made a special effort
to write letters to her mother-in-law, a widow,
living alone in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Being unable to communicate with my father
was a hardship for my Grandmother MacBeath 
because Dad was her only surviving child.

A Rare Photo of My Father
with His Parents,
Roy and Myrtle MacBeath

Prince Edward Island, Canada

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother's letters were usually simple.
With five children aged one to ten,
she was lucky to cobble a few words together.
But her scant sentences, followed by a few of my own, 
trigger bittersweet memories for me,
and remind me again, of a path not taken.

On Friday, November 25, 1960 
My mother wrote to her mother-in-law:

Dear Mother:
The children are at Sunday School now, 
so I thought I’d get some letters are written.  

I made Don’s Christmas cake yesterday.  
It made a lovely big cake.  
I hope he gets it all right.  
I put a couple of boxes of icing sugar in with it.  

I will get the rest of his parcels off before the end of this week.  
I will return the receipt with this. 
I have made several copies and included your changes.

The children are writing exams this coming week.  
Here they are now, home from Sunday School.  

We planted daffodils yesterday.  
There isn’t any new news.  

I hope you write soon and tell me 
what you and Aunt Maude would like for Christmas.  
I am going to get Louise to add a few lines to this.
With love,

P.S.  Could you send the animals from Red Rose Tea 
        for Barbie and Donnie?

Dear Nana and Aunt Maude,
Yesterday I sold $16.00 of Christmas cards.  
We also planted daffodil bulbs, baked a cake, 
and I did the dishes for Mom.
At school I have an average of 96.7, 
and I haven’t gone below ninety yet.  
I am also the smartest in music.  
Hardly anyone knows their notes.  

The teacher bought me a special book all about music.  
It’s called “Fun with Music.”

How many times have I washed dishes
in the little pantry off Grammie's kitchen?
Many, many times over a lifetime,
carefully rationing the hot water from 
a five gallon tank heated by her oil stove.
That memory is bittersweet, because 
Grammie's house is coming down in 2016.

Looking Out Grammie's Kitchen Window
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The Christmas cake ~ a fruit cake! 
Does anyone bake them anymore?
I haven't made one in years.
For the sake of family peace,
we usually made two.

My Nana MacBeath and her sister Maude Cox,
squabbled for decades over whose fruitcake was best,
Nana's light fruitcake or Aunt Maude's dark one.

I loved both, but in my mind, 
Aunt Maude's edged Nana's out.  
It was stuffed with dark raisins, tiny currants, 
fat sticky muscats, and exotic dates and figs
mixed into a rich batter with strawberry jam and molasses
and fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Guaranteed Mom sent Dad Nana's light fruitcake
loaded with golden sultanas, lemon and orange citron,
and jewellike red and green glace cherries, 
and flavored with sweet-smelling almond extract.

Dad loved his mother's fruitcake, 
but he was very close to his Aunt Maude,
so Mom was up to her elbows in fruit and batter
for a good two days each Christmas season.

Nana and Her Siblings
Maude (back), Belle, Myrtle, and Chester
St. Peter's Bay, P.E.I.
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Selling those Christmas cards was my first paying job!
At ten, I longed to buy Christmas presents for my family,
and if I wanted to do that, I had to earn money.

I don't remember how I found the Christmas card company,
but I sold enough of its cards in Smith's Cove
to make a little over $5.00.
I spent every cent of it in Kinsman's General Store, located
halfway between my grandmother's and great-grandmother's homes.

I remember searching the shelves of that tiny rural store
looking for gifts I could afford, and I found them:
Yardley English Lavender Bath Salts for Nana,
a book of lifesavers for Roy, barley candy toys for my sisters,
a small box of chocolate Turtles for my mom, 
several Cherry Blossoms for my dad,  
and best of all, a tiny baby doll for little Bertie.

I learned then that there is nothing better
on Christmas morning than watching loved ones
unwrapping presents that you've gotten for them.

Cherry Blossoms

As for that path not taken?
I can't sing.  
I can't dance.
I can't play an instrument.
And yet time and time again,
I was encouraged to study music.

From my fifth grade teacher giving me a music book
to a placement advisor at Cal State Fullerton
calling me to come in and talk.
"Why on Earth are you enrolled in geology courses?
You have the highest scores I've ever seen for music?"

Too bad the tests measured aptitude 
and not talent or skills.

I often wonder, though. 
I had had a similar meeting at Acadia,
eleven years earlier, in a different country,
on the other side of the continent.

That was our November so long ago,
as we waited for the ice to thicken in the North
so a bush plane could land in Lansdowne House
and start letters from Dad on their long journey to us.

And how about you, kind reader?
Did you have fruitcake battles in your family?
Do you remember your first paying job?
Did you have a path you didn't take, 
that you often wonder about?
I'd love to hear!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Beautiful Cove on Long island,
in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Links to Earlier Posts:

TLL: Hints of a Troubled Future

TLL:The Howling of Dogs 

1.  My Grandmother's House nearly passed out of our family's hands
     some twenty years ago.  My sister Bertie and her husband Peter managed to save it,
     and because of them we all got to enjoy it many more years.
     But the day we all knew would come has arrived.
     Thanks Bertie and Peter for never once giving me a hard time over
     of calling it "Grammie's house" when, in fact, it was yours!
     And thanks for all the extra years of memories.

The Back of My Grandmother's House,
aka Peter and Bertie's House 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

For Map Lovers Like Me:

Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada

Location of Nova Scotia in Canada

Location of Digby in Nova Scotia

Location of Smith's Cove
on the Annapolis Basin between Digby (left) and Annapolis Royal (right)
It was about 6 miles or 9.7 kilometers from the Cove to Digby.
Birch Villa Cottages  Smith's Cove

Monday, December 14, 2015

Parker Christmas Carriage Parade 2015

It's a great day for a parade when the sun is shining
and the weather is breezy and warm.

But what if it's hovering at freezing,
and wet snow is spitting from a sodden sky?

I almost wimped out of one of my favorite holiday events:  
The Parker Christmas Carriage Parade.

Every year the Town of Parker and the Colorado Driving Society
hold this wonderful event on the second Saturday of December.

Well the second Saturday in December rolled around,
and I wanted to pull the covers over my head.
I didn't need to look out the window to know it was not good.

But then I thought about all the people involved in the parade
feeding, watering, and loading their animals,
their prized carriages and wagons, all that equipment,
and hitting the back roads and highways for Parker.

I thought about all those high school kids
dressing in their band uniforms,
the 4H kiddos and the Boy Scouts,
little kids, big kids, adults of all ages
getting ready to march in the raw weather;
the police, the street sweepers, 
the firemen and paramedics,
and all the amazing volunteers
who make this parade possible
getting ready to do what they had to do.

What if there was a parade and nobody came?

That thought was enough to propel me out the door
and down Inspiration into Parker.
I'm so glad I went!!!

Guess what?
Tons of people turned out,
bundled up against the cold,
and in high spirits.
Turns out it was a great day for a parade!

Parker was decked out in its Christmas finery.

And people were there to enjoy themselves.

What struck me most about this year's parade
was its tremendous heart.

From the get-go, its participants toughed it out
as the temperature dropped and the weather worsened.
With smiles and determination they spread Christmas joy.

Off to a Traditional Start

Parker Trail Riders

Parker Police Sergeant Joe Cummings, 
the 2015 Parade Grand Marshal

The Back Meets the Front ~
Making a Parade in Two Directions

One of the Many Volunteers in Orange Vests

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

See you next year, God Willing!

Note:  If any of you can identify an entry and wish me to add a caption to a picture, I will.  
I don't know a lot about horses, except that they are magnificent creatures.