Friends Visit


Jennifer and her mother Irene on Sanibel Island

We were blessed with a recent visit from Irene and her daughter Jennifer.  Irene is a dear friend from Arnprior whom we met through Galilee and Jennifer lives in Syracuse, NY.  They were on their annual getaway together and chose to visit us in FM.  They stayed in the same condo complex so it was easy to meet up.


View of the pool from their condo

They kept us hopping.  From great restaurants, to walks on the beach, to shopping, movies, chatting and many a happy hour, we tried to keep up with them.  They enjoyed escaping the late winter weather up north and we enjoyed showing them the sights here.


At the Wednesday night pool party


Shopping at Lakes Park market

Jen ocean1

Jennifer in the ocean

We went out to a number of restaurants for some great meals together: Cafe Toscano, the University Grill, Nomikis Plakka (Greek), the Lazy Flamingo and the Coconuts pool side restaurant at Casa Ybel.  Our personal favorite was Cafe Toscano – great pasta and eggplant and service at reasonable price.




On the pier in Cape Coral

It was their mutual birthdays so their family bought them a dinner out at Blanc, a new upscale epicurean restaurant that has received rave reviews.  They loved it!

Mom Birthday1


Marie and Dave went out the next day to the 60th annual shrimp festival at Fort Myers Beach.  It was a fabulous peel and eat shrimp boil up on the beach.  Here are a few images of that colourful food experience.


Yes, we likely gained a few pounds, but hey it’s not everyday that Irene and Jennifer come to town on their birthdays.  Thanks you two for your wonderful visit, the fun and great eating, wine and conversation we enjoyed together.  We’ll do it again real soon.  Thanks Jennifer for the great extra photos.

Mom Bathing suit

Mom Marie Dave Beach


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Whirlwind Visit


Kyle left, Ashley right

Last year, Michelle, Tim and the boys had a great visit with us in FM.  This year, Kyle and Ashley dropped in for a whirlwind visit.  We had an active time together!  They arrived after visiting Texas, New Orleans and Orlando by car.  We tried to show them the FL lifestyle as they wanted to do everything and never seemed to tire.

Day 1 was a visit to Fort Myers Beach.  That day, Fort Myers was the warmest place in the continental U.S. at 31 deg.  It was also calm and surprisingly uncrowded given that March break was about to begin.  We spent a marathon 6 hours on the beach until sunset.  Ashley and Kyle did the parasailing thing as we watched warily from shore.  Piece of cake remarked Ashley.  No problem added Kyle.




We ended the day with dinner at our favorite restaurant – Doc Ford’s.  Of course we had to have the signature dish – Yucatan Shrimp.  Food and service was great as usual and there was no traffic getting home.  We stopped at Love Boat Ice Cream for dessert and enjoyed some spontaneous singing of Sweet Caroline.  Great start.

IMG_0543Yucatan Shrimp

Love Boat Ice Cream


Day 2 was an outing to beautiful Sanibel and Captiva Islands.  Friends John and Anita invited us to drop by their beach front condo for some walking and shelling.



With Anita and John on their roof top


Then it was on to Captiva Island for a dolphin cruise.  We boarded the Lady Chadwick not knowing what to expect.  We saw our first dolphin in the mouth of the harbour and then dozens more as we toured around Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve.  We were so close to the leaping dolphins, we were getting splashed.  Dolphins love to frolic in the wake of the boat and apparently eat upwards of 30 pounds of mullet a day.  Males travel in 1s or 2s.  Females travel in pods and form a circle to protect a birthing mother.






For dinner we headed to the Mucky Duck restaurant for our 3rd annual get together on Captiva beach.  John and Anita joined us and we arrived just in time for another glorious sunset.  Too much fun – we are getting younger down here with Kyle and Ashley’s influence.






On day 3, Kyle and I started the day with a little swimming in the 25m pool across the street.  We followed that up with a game of golf at Myerlee with two nice young men from Nashville and Baltimore.  Ashley and Marie spent the day shopping at Bealls, TJMax, Rosses and Peltz shoe after getting pedicures.  That evening we went to our local go to sports bar Bucketts for their Thursday evening backyard BBQ – ribs and chicken, yum.






Day 4 was upon us already.  We enjoyed a Blue Jays – Twins game at Hammond Stadium.  It was a 2-1 Twins win after the Jays stranded 2 in the 9th.  John and Anita were there too.  It was very hot in the sun but hey, it was all time record heat all month here.




We went on to Castle Golf miniputt beside Lakes Park for a friendly round.  The men against the ladies.  Scores: Ashley 57, Marie 57, Kyle 57, Dave 58 – ladies win!  It was real fun and we worked up an appetite for Sweet Tomatoes salad buffet restaurant.





The next day Ashley and Kyle sadly had to head home for Winnipeg leaving us after a fabulous visit.  Thank you Kyle and Ashley for spending your precious vacation time with us.  Come back next year!


We love being with our family and let’s hope we can get together again soon.  Luv, Mom and Dad.



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Men’s Conference


I attended the 10th annual Men’s Conference of the Diocese of Venice Florida last weekend.  About 300 of we men gave up our sunny Saturday to hear a number of great speakers and be reminded of what our purpose is in God’s plan for men.

Bishop dewane

The Diocese of Venice, established in 1984 from parts of other dioceses, consists of some 70 parishes, 12 elementary schools and 4 high schools in SW Florida.  By contrast, the Diocese of Pembroke, ON, (my home diocese) established as a Vicariate in 1882, is much larger in geographic area but smaller in population.


Bishop Frank Dewane urged us to remember gratitude, prayer and the Lord in our daily lives.  Next the dynamic Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers exploded onto the stage.  Deacon Harold is one of the most passionate, forceful and loudest speakers I have ever seen and heard. He reminded us of our purpose as men – to serve, protect and defend (Gen 2:15)


Men have to take a more serious approach to prayer including with their wives daily.  Men have to be witnesses and present to their kids and love their wives to show their kids the example.  Single men must be spiritual witnesses to society.  It is more important to be loved otherwise we are less capable of loving others.

Patrick Coffin

Interviewer Canadian Patrick Coffin took the stage and in a more subdued manner explained that God has a plan for the world and each of us.  Men are the ‘weaker’ sex but God favours the weak, joked Patrick.  Manhood is under attack in our culture.  Canadian Bill 16 adds gender expression and identify of trans-gender people to the groups that are protected from discrimination or hate propaganda under the criminal code.  Life has become complicated and some feel freedom of speech and religion is under attack.


We finished the day with some great songs from Bob Rice, a theology professor from Steubenville, OH.  It was great meeting some men from the area and seeing how American Catholicism functions in today’s world.  I thought the idea of an annual men’s conference is a great idea worth pursuing back home.


Open air chapel at Bishop Verot H.S.


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At the Exitentialist Cafe


Ron Rolheiser, OMI listed this book as one of his top 10 best books in 2017.  Here is what he said:

“This is one of the best books written on Existentialism that’s accessible to a non-professional reader.  It will introduce you to the giants of Existential philosophy: Sartre, Heidegger, Simone de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Camus, Husserl, and Jaspers. Bakewell believes you will understand a thinker’s philosophy much more accurately if you also have a picture of his or her life: “Ideas are interesting, but people are vastly more so.” Those without a background in philosophy will get lost occasionally but if you continue reading you will soon find yourselves again fascinated by the lives of these famous, colorful thinkers.”

This was indeed an interesting book.  Sarah Bakewell teaches creative writing at Oxford University and writes in a light-hearted very informed personal style.

Sartre (1905-80) is clearly the giant among them and was a very prolific writer, thinker and famous personality.  Known as an ‘anarchist’ he championed personal freedom – living an authentic life free of influences of others.  Along with freedom though comes tremendous responsibility in choosing one’s actions, which causes us fear.  An applied example is the fear of heights.  Standing at the edge of a mountain or the roof edge of a tall building causes vertigo because claims Sartre, we fear that we might just jump off because “we are free” to do so.  His opus book on all this was “Being and Nothingness” in 1943.

Sartre said we are free to be exactly the person we choose to be, which gets at his notion of freedom and authenticity.  He turned down the Nobel Prize in literature because he thought it would compromise his freedom. He was an atheist but also a humanist.  In  deciding who is right in a discussion among competing interests, Sartre proposed why not decide by asking how it looks to ‘the eyes of the least favoured’ or to ‘those treated the most unjustly’.  You just have to work out who is most oppressed and disadvantaged in a situation and then adopt their version of the events as the right one or ‘the truth’.  He was coming at this from a socialist view, not a moral view.  Another of his ideas which sticks in my mind, is when we are faced with a decision to act, if we act in the way that is personally not true to our authentic self, we are acting in ‘bad faith’.


Sartre and de Beauvoir – Philosophers and Lovers

Sartre had a long on again, off again lovers relationship with fellow philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.  She wrote some famous books herself including the ground breaking The Second Sex which changed women’s lives forever.  Albert Camus, the Algerian born author of such books as The Stranger figures prominently in the story line.  As does Martin Heidegger, a colossal thinker who refused to ever apologize for his  support of the Nazis in WWII Germany.  Then the there is Merleau-Ponty who was very dashing and actually pleasant who linked psychology to phenomenology in a more person centred philosophy.  Edmund Husserl (established the school of phenomenology) and Karl Jaspers (we must make leap of faith and transcend life) weave in and out of the story as do many other philosophers such as the interesting Emmanuel Levinas (encounters with others are privileged subjective phenomenon).

Each of these philosophers set out to prove that all other philosophers had it wrong.  There was a lot of falling out among friends in this bunch over differences of thinking and pride.  They lived in some very dark times of the 20th century.  Nevertheless, these philosophers have had a tremendous impact on our 21st century society.  I have been somewhat taken aback several times when I hear a millennial say “I would never believe that or do that because I would not be true to myself.”  This is pure Sartre.  The notion of developing one’s own “personal culture” and proudly proclaiming it has become the rage of the age it seems.

As Ron R. said, Ms. Bakewell wrote the book because there was not enough written about the private lives of these thinkers.  Their private lives had a direct impact on their thinking.  I am new to philosophy and enjoyed this ‘introduction’.  It is much easier to understand than the subject matter.  Nevertheless there is a dark tone in their thinking and the notion that “man is god” which I have trouble with.  However my appetite has been wetted and I might just get a copy of Being and Nothingness for further reading.  4.5 out of 5 stars – very popular read with the philosophy student crowd I imagine.


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Sunset Celebration


The weather has turned spectacular here now and does not cool off as quick in the evening.  One of the things we like to do is to go to the monthly sunset concert at Cape Coral Yacht Club.  It is only a 10 minute drive and there is amble free parking.  We parked behind a car with this pretty licence plate.


A superb slide guitarist name Kraig Kenning was performing again this year.  He plays his own material and other well-known songs.  You sit in your beach chair just a few feet away as the waves softly lap, sip your beer or wine and enjoy the sound.


The evening was great.  Kites flying, families gathering, music playing and the birds singing.  We brought a picnic dinner and wine.

We met a local CC family who had several generations of family members there all enjoying the evening.  As the sun gets close to setting, everyone turns to the water for that perfect picture.  It was a 10 out of 10 evening.  We plan to go to again next month with some visitors.  Thanks Lord for these great moments in FL.


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Puerto Vallarta Experience


We were treated to a wonderful experience of Puerto Vallarta, MX by friends Judy and Bruce. We flew down for a week to check out the sites and culture and to celebrate Marie’s birthday.  Our friends stay each winter in Nuevo Vallarta, the neighbouring tourist town in a lovely beachfront condo.  And what a beach it is, running for some 30 km around the rim of a volcanic cone framed by mountains on 3 sides.



Puerto Vallarta, the “jewel of the Pacific” has a population of about 300,000 that welcomes over 5 million tourists a year.  Its cobblestone center is home to the ornate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church, boutique shops and a range of restaurants and bars. El Malecón is a beachside promenade with contemporary sculptures, as well as bars, lounges and shops.

We ate at a funky place called Pancho’s Takos.  It is a hole in the wall on a busy sidewalk where people line up for 30 minutes for a table to be served the best Mexican food that we have ever eaten.  Beef is cooked shawarma style on a vertical spit and carved onto soft shell tortillas with a variety of salsa sauces, cheese and chorizo sausage added to taste.  The roast onions were a meal in themselves.  While waiting they offer you beer and ask afterwards how many did you have?  Street drumming, singing and dancing groups entertain.  It is a must eat PV experience that we loved.

Nuevo Vallarta is a timeshare, condominium and hotel town where Canadians surprisingly out number Americans and Mexicans at this time of year.  There are thousands of beach front rooms that people have been returning to for many years.  We fell in love with the pedestrian lifestyle.  You walk a lot and take a bus or taxi which is cheap, to get your groceries or to eat out.  It was a refreshing change for us from the car oriented Fort Myers where we have been wintering for several years.  Prices for food, drink and accommodation are more affordable here too as the Mexican peso has depreciated against the $CDN in recent years.


Dinner for about $27CDN!

We met many Canadians during our week-long stay and only a few Americans.  Bruce took us to a country estate benefit concert in support of a local retirement home for under privileged Mexican seniors.  There we met Doug and Debbie from Barrie, ON area who have been coming here for 25+ years.  Doug describes Mexico as his “adopted country” and along with Debbie, are involved in charitable works assisting locals in need each year.


The next day was Marie’s birthday.  We were invited to another brunch, this time at the elegant El Tigre Golf Club with a group of 20 others.  We had a great time meeting everyone and enjoying the great food and endless champagne.  We could see that this lifestyle is something we could get used to real easy.  Everyone is happy and ready to meet, greet and explain their passion for Mexico.  The Mexican staff are nothing but gracious, polite, efficient and good-natured.  Here, we are on “the fun side of the wall” as the tee-shirt says.


As our week drew to a close we were happy to walk the beach, swim in the ocean and pool, visit the huge Vidanta resort next door, check out the wild life and local markets, and, look at some condos for possible rental next winter…God willing and should we decide not to return to FL.

It is safe to say that we fell in love with PV and really would love to come back.  Thank you Judy and Bruce for sharing this special place with us and for your generous hospitality.  We are forever indebted and grateful to you for giving us this enduring intercultural experience.





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What 2017 was for us

The highlight was Kyle and Ashley’s wedding in May in Winnipeg.  Everything went superbly.  Family and friends enjoyed sharing the special day with the newly weds and wished them a long and happy marriage.


Prior to that we spent the winter in Fort Myers and had more visits with family and friends than in Arnprior.  The weather was superb.


On our way home we went on a Panama Canal Cruise that was fun and interesting.


The summer in Arnprior was great.  We had some interlock work done at the front.  Marie played bridge while Dave golfed.  Swims in the river followed by patio dinners were frequent.



In September we went to Pembroke for Fiddlefest.  Then it was off to Pickering in for our annual Oblate Associate retreat.



Dave led an Oblate Associate formation session in the fall for Marie and two others.  Marie led a series of yoga classes at Galilee that Dave and others attended.  Kyle and Ashley came home for two whirlwind visits.  All the family got together.


Before we knew it, we were on our way to Florida again, but not before another fab cruise in the Caribbean.


We truly thank God for all his blessings and gifts in 2017.


So now it’s time to get ready for what 2018 has in store.





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Lincoln – The Reluctant Emancipator

LincolnIn this new book, academic Fred Kaplan argues that Abraham Lincoln did not make a major contribution to solving the American race problem – he left the U.S. with it.  Tracing Lincoln’s political history from the 1830s to his assassination in 1865, the iconic Lincoln is seen as cautious time and time again about closing the gap between moral idealism and political reality in the elimination of slavery.

Lincoln abhorred slavery and thought it was an abomination.  However he was not an abolitionist.  Rather he foresaw that the two races – black and white – could never live alongside each other.  Hence for him, the solution was voluntary and government assisted emigration of blacks to a new home in Africa or Latin America. Both races would be better off.  Slavery would then end of itself at some future date.  Was Lincoln right?

At the start of the US Civil War in 1861, there were about two hundred thousand free blacks in the North and at least 4 million black slaves in the Confederacy.  Lincoln’s new Republican Party in the 1860 presidential campaign made non-extension of slavery to the territories and preservation of the United States it’s two main lines in the sand.  Before Lincoln was elected however, the South could not accept the first line resulting in its secession.  After the election, the North could not accept slave states secession thus leading to the U.S. Civil War – and the death of at least 700,000 young Americans.  If the Union had accepted peaceful separation of slave states, the country would have been diminished for sure, but slavery would have ended peacefully, at least in the north.

George B

Kaplan goes on the argue that Lincoln wasted the first two years of the Civil War by sticking with Gen George B. McClellan as Chief Army Commander.  McClellan, a superb organizer, was reluctant to attack the south because he wanted to leave slavery and the South alone so as to preserve integrity of the country.  He ran against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election on a platform of negotiating peace but lost.  Was McClellan right?

In 1863, Lincoln reluctantly issued the Emancipation Proclamation only after having first offered the Confederacy the right of continued constitutionally protected slavery in existing slave states, if they would only first return to the Union.  Furthermore, for his continued political support, the proclamation did not apply in the border slave states that had not seceded like Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland.  The proclamation was a propaganda document to aid in the Union war effort, only after Lincoln had pleaded with the Confederacy for an alternate solution that preserved slavery says Kaplan.

John Q

Kaplan’s thesis is centred on the fact that Lincoln was a long-term supporter of the policies of the American Colonization Society whose goal was not abolition of slavery, but voluntary emigration of free blacks from America.  He contrasts this gradualist approach with that of John Quincy Adams (6th U.S. President and prominent statesman) who was an Abolitionist – willing to advocate whatever political action was necessary to immediately end slavery.

Lincoln did go on to abolish slavery with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in January 1865.  But says Kaplan, this had now become politically necessary to restore unity – Lincoln’s first love.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 immortalized him as the Great Emancipator and most iconic person in American history.  Kaplan dares to question some of his thinking.  I found this book refreshing but somewhat disturbing and also repetitive in its prose in places.  Politicians aren’t perfect it seems, even good old Abraham Lincoln.



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Merry Christmas


The Twenty-fifth Day of December,/ when ages beyond number had run their course/ from the creation of the world,/ when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,/ and formed man in his own likeness;/ when century upon century had passed/ since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,/ as a sign of covenant and peace;/ in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,/ came out of Ur of the Chaldees;/ in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses/ in the Exodus from Egypt;/ around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;/ in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;/ in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;/ in the year seven hundred and fifty-two/ since the foundation of the City of Rome;/ in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,/ the whole world being at peace,/ Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,/ desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,/ was conceived by the Holy Spirit,/ and when nine months had passed since his conception,/ was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man:

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Merry Christmas


David and Marie




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Final Sea Daze

As mentioned in our last post, there were no more island visits to come.  But alas, 2 more sea daze remain.  This is the last posting about this cruise – honest, lol!


The Spa Pool

We head for home in Florida – 1100 nautical miles to go.  Lobster tail night in the MDR preceded by a wine tasting.  It’s a great party and our new table mates from FL and SC are very nice. We have so great a day that we are happy to rest up on our last day at sea. We sail past the tiny Salvador island which was Columbus first landfall in Oct 1492. After 12 days we too are ready for landfall.


Martini Bar

Likes about this Celebrity cruise:
– service impeccable
– quality of the food superb
– ship facilities and functioning fantastic
– passengers nice
– classic drinks package worth it (no need to upgrade to premium)
– embarking/debarking smooth
– history enrichment lectures

Porch Seafood Restaurant

– no towel animals (minor, lol)
‎- rounded corners at end of bed (shortens bed)
– some busy times‎ on elevator
– somewhat thin face clothes
– no jazz or country music‎ (same 80s sound all the time)
– no worship services on board
Note we did not do any organized excursions, frequent the casino, play trivia etc. ‎Favorite spot on the Silhouette is the spa pool – large window covered area with huge pool, boutique restaurant, soft music and hot tubs.  Also the Martini Bar at night was real fun.  Our midships cabin was restful and quiet.  Very little rocking of ship noticed.
Ratings out of 5:
Food 4.5 (There is an up-charge for specialty restaurants so we only went to 1)
Service 5.0
Ship 4.5
Destinations 3.0
Entertainment 4.0
Cabin 4.5
Overall 4.5
Would we recommend Celebrity? – yes.
…Now back to reality.  Thank you for following our escapades on this wonderful Caribbean cruise.  Merry Christmas!

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