Fox Harbour Connections

The last time I visited Placentia with a good friend I was not aware of my connection to the Whiffins in Fox Harbour. Had I known I would have visited. My grandfather on my mother’s side is Andrew Whiffin who is the son of Patrick and Catherine (McCue) Whiffin. My grandmother,wife of Andrew, hailed from St. Lawrence. Her name is Elizabeth Slaney.  My maternal grandparents became one of the first 25 families who settled Midland on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland.  A street is named after them. 

My grandfather Andrew joined the Canadian army in WW1. More research is needed to get more details about his involvement. He signed up and after his return he rarely spoke about his experiences. 

I have more questions than I have answers. If you have information on the 37th Battalion and/or about the Whiffins of Fox Harbour I’d like to hear from you. Comments come to me before they appear on the blog so if you leave private details that you don’t want shared, say so. 


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St. Michael’s Printshop

I cannot tell you the history of this structure located on Harbour Drive in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’m sure if you google the name you can find it. I want to tell you about my experience doing a print making course with Mike Connolly who has been there for 11 years. 

I signed up for the 4 night $250 course with the hopes that someone from Torbay would be in the course and Id be able to hitch a ride. That didn’t happen. On the first night we did a monoprint using plexiglass and there was only Marguerite and myself. She lives close to downtown so I was stuck doing some things I don’t like doing such as driving downtown after supper and leaving my vehicle unattended for 3 hours! 

The second night Chuck showed up and we did linoprints.  We carved images into the pieces of linoleum and inked them up. We each took our turns using the brayer and press. Band aids were ready in case we cut our fingers but there were no mishaps that night. During the first night we put black ink on the glass with a brayer and rubbed off what we wanted white or shaded, using rags, cardboard, toothpicks etc. This class we brought images and tried to cut lines using various sharp tools, remembering that the images would be reversed and the cut out parts would be white. 

On the third night we learned about sanding down copper in preparation for etching it. I love trees so my copper had a big tree and some bushes and hills etched into it. After inking the copper and running it through the press, we could improve parts of the etching and then ink up the copper, then run it through the press a second time. My tree was too thin half way down so I etched to make it look fuller. I really liked my tree when it was printed the second time. I also joined up some limbs that seemed to be just floating away from the tree! Thanks Mike for all your good suggestions. I can see why you stayed at SMP so long. You’re a born teacher!

I nearly missed my 4th class as my sister in law died and I thought I had to go to the west coast. But after I read the obituary I realized I could leave the morning after the class. I really didn’t want to miss this class as the three of us were doing a lithograph together. Preparing the limestone had already been done by Mike so we were ready to get educated about how grease and water don’t mix and we learned about the various mediums to use to draw on the limestone slab, how to mix the acid and other liquid to allow the etching to take place after we drew our trees, clouds, trail, rocks and bushes.  We learned how to set up the press and how to wet the slab before and after each inking.  It was a long process and I really respect printmakers who use many rounds of etching and different color inks. It is very tiring and while Mike did most of the inking, he let us try it once. We did all of the sponging and etching. By 9 p.m. I was ready to call it a night but we had clean up and then we said our goodbyes. 

It was quite a labour intensive course. And we couldn’t have had a better teacher! Thanks Mike! I’m very proud to say I did it and no harm came to my car or me in the process! 


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Joke A Priest Told In Church

I forget the priest’s name but here goes…

Pope Francis  was visiting New York recently and it was his first time in a stretch limo. He says to the driver “What’s it like to drive a vehicle like this? To which the driver replied “It can be tricky at times.”

“Would you mind if I drive?” asks the pope. 

So the chauffeur got out in the back and the pope started driving and before long he speeds up , making the chauffeur a little nervous. Then they hear sirens and the pope stops. 

A cop walks up to driver’s window and recognizes the pope.  He is gob smacked. He rushes back to his patrol car and calls his superior officer. 

“You’re not going to believe this but I just stopped the pope for speeding!”

His superior says ” Who’s in the back?”

To which the cop replies “It must be God!”

(I’m pretty sure this is fiction!)

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Walking on the Manuels River Trail

Last week my good friend Brenda and I decided to try out the Manuels River Trail. It was gorgeous with many benches, wooden steps to climb and the best part of all -the views. The Fall colours were remarkable.  The root systems of some trees called for sketching and double takes as we walked quickly through our windy cold day. The flat areas were easy but the steps would be difficult for walkers with knee or back problems.  We walked at a good pace, stopping to take in the picturesque views along the river and to take photos. 

We ambled along chatting about every topic under the sun and I with my trusty walking sticks tried to walk on the sides of the wooden steps, climbing easily with the sturdy shock absorbing assistance.  I enjoy using the sticks and they do help to make the walking a little easier on old joints!( I’m hoping my old joints last another 20-30 years so I want to take care of them!)

It was a walk of splendid proportions. Great company, cool sunny weather and views for a lifetime. I always love walking beside a river! It could not have been a more perfect day.

After our breathtaking walk we headed off to a friend’s house for homemade pea soup, wraps and several desserts!

 What more could a person ask for in this life?  Good friends, good food and challenging physical exercise that gets forgotten in the beauty of the place?  And health and strength to be able to enjoy it all! Thank you God!


Next time I will visit the Hibernia Interpretation Centre which houses some trilobite fossils and the history of the area. There is also a Second Cup Cafe for those who want an easy lunch or just a cup of java.  You can check out more on this spectacular trail and centre at

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How Environmentally Conscious Are You?

Think.  I do a lot of that these days. I think about the world and how we take care of it. Are we going forward or backwards?

When I was a child in Pasadena, Newfoundland, you couldn’t buy a bottle of water. Pop and beer bottles were made of glass and groceries were brought home in brown paper bags or cardboard boxes. If you wanted a book you visited the library. There were no cell phones or computers to discard. People kept cars until they were worn out or it cost more to repair them than to purchase a new one. People were lucky to have one or two pairs of shoes and walk in closets were unnecessary. There were few fast food restaurants and people grew their own vegetables. Many families had a cow, pig or horse.  Children played outdoors and learned to get along.  While there were things that I would not want to go back to,it seems we were friendlier to the environment 50 years ago. 

How will the environment be for our grandchildren? At the rate that garbage is being thrown in our oceans,and rivers are being polluted by sewage and Mercury, how can we visualize a clean world? It seems our hands are tied to change the advancement of industry, of big business, of the movers and shakers in our modern world. I can understand how citizens feel lost to making a difference. 

In some cities of the world air quality is so bad that seniors and others cannot go outside. Children with asthma cannot go to school. The smog impedes visibility and alerts are announced so that people can stay inside if the air is really high in pollutants. 

In many towns water boil orders are on for months. Why has our water become dangerous for human consumption? We have only ourselves to blame. If we avoid taking responsibility how can we blame others? We need to attend town meetings, stand up for our rights and environment.  We can contact out government leaders. We can help organize clean-ups and rallies. We can involve our children and seniors.  So much to do and everyone involved would make an easier process. What are your thoughts? 

Feel free to share your experiences and how we can encourage actions to improve our environment. 

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Looking Back

Do you ever wonder if anyone cares about your life, how you fill your days, weeks, months and years? Do you look in a mirror and wonder if you could make your time amazing, memorable-the best experiences to suit you? I wonder this a lot. The cliche ‘Live each day as if it’s your last’ pops into my head and I berate myself for too much television, too much sitting doing very little. 

So I decided to find out what would I like to do more than anything else and here are my findings. See if any of this might set a fire under you!

1. I read about the saints. I started with Padre Pio and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I perked up and thought about my journey and how I could help others, instead of wondering if I’m not doing my best to make me happy.  I’ve ordered a book about 100 saints. Now that should really make me think!

2. How can I use my creativity? I’ve written three books with three more partially finished.  I’ve done nearly 500 blog posts. I’ve sewed many quilts. One day I decided to take up abstract painting and I love it. I’m no good but friends like what I paint. I give my canvasses and paper creations away. I love gifting others with my brightly coloured pieces! I’ve even signed up to do a printmaking course and have enjoyed hours trying new techniques. Who would have known if I didn’t put myself out there?! 

3. Hiking has made me happy since 2013. I’ve walked three different caminos de Santiago, two alone. I’ve seen many villages, cafes, churches, albergues and sites. I’ve made many friends from many countries. Now my Slovenian friends are coming here to walk the East Coast Trail with me!  I don’t like walking the same trail each time or going the same loop each day but I can walk 15-25 km a day for 20,30 or 40 days! So have you tried walking trails alone or with a friend? You might love it too. Walking the Via Francigena is now on my Bucket List!

What are your discoveries/passions?Let us be inspired by your story 


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American Lady Murdered on Camino Frances

Today was a very sad day for me to discover that Denise Theim, a 41 year old hiker on the Camino France’s, was identified by her DNA and a 39 year old Spanish farmer has been arrested. Apparently he was known for harassing women on the trail. He even changed arrows to parallel the trail which led to his farm. 

It has been reported that he had been a suspect from the beginning after he exchanged $1000 for euros. He was 100km from his farm when he was arrested.  With thousands walking the trails each year, people interviewed in the area were shocked that such a terrible deed was committed close to them.

So many people were on the lookout for Denise and according to her family and friends she loved to travel and kept in touch wherever she was. Fellow Camino walkers met her and told stories of their interactions. 

My condolences and prayers go out to Denise’s family and friends. 

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