NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Noticed in New Brunswick

When I traveled through New Brunswick a few weeks  ago I saw a few areas that will likely look a lot different once summer rolls around.

In 1755 the “Great Expulsion” was when the British Governor decided to round up and expel the entire Acadian community, over eleven thousand French settlers, from Nova Scotia. He used the war with France as an excuse, but it was really a land grab for the most fertile soil in the province. They were scattered to other British colonies, some to France, others went to Louisiana and some even went into hiding in New Brunswick.

Having not gone to school in Canada I knew nothing of these things, and discovering how "French" New Brunswick still is was very much a surprise to me.  Everywhere I went I was greeted in French and it was admittedly uncomfortable to answer apologetically in English.

Not even any English on the Billboards!

Luckily I took 4 years of French in high school (34 years ago!) and by the end of my week in New Brunswick a lot of it was coming back to me and I was understanding about 25% of the conversation. It will be interesting to see how well I'm comprehending after a few more visits.

Moose crossing signs are different in every province, and I always enjoy when they picture a moose next to a vehicle.  A reminder of how big they really are never hurts, right?

I noticed a few distilleries, including Blue Roof Distillers located not far from the Confederation Bridge to PEI whose potato mascot still looks more like a peanut to me.  Nevertheless, I have discovered this year that I enjoy a nice gin, which they create in addition to vodka, so I will have to stop in for a tour.

I got out for a walk in the woods near Bathurst at the Daly Point Nature Reserve when the sun was out. With 100 acres of salt marsh, wooded plots and an extensive network of trails it should be a good place not only for walking on future trips but for wildlife spotting as well.

Stoplights were a bit confusing in New Brunswick

The next morning I woke to a snowstorm and had to drive 250 km through the mountains to Edmundston.  Definitely my least favorite day of the trip.  One thing I will say about Canadian drivers, I have seldom seen anyone off the road in any of the provinces I have driven this winter.  In Wisconsin I saw people in the ditch all the time in similar weather conditions so the conclusion I draw is motorists are more cautious and therefore have less incidents.

Once I reached Edmundston I had the option of thanking God or getting a drink.  Bourbon in my hotel room restored my shattered nerves nicely, I'll tour the lovely church another time.

Moncton public art

New Brunswick has a few larger cities, Moncton is the largest with a little over 70,000 inhabitants.  I'd forgotten how stressful it was to find parking in a big city, and even though I'm eager to see what public art and museums these places have to offer I'm always happier when I get back out on into the countryside.

Speaking of the countryside, we have sunshine and temps almost reaching 50F/10C today and tomorrow.  Time for this country gal to get outside and play again!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Also Seen in Sydney

Downtown Sydney had a handful of murals including this one.

When I return during warmer times I hope I'll be able to explore and find a few more.

Linking up to Monday Mural.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Made in the Maritimes

Mostly the weather in the Maritime Provinces was great during my work trip, but there were a few exceptions.

slippery conditions in Sydney

When I got off the ferry in Sydney there was 18cm of snow coming down, but it was a Sunday so I got to hunker down in my Airbnb and wait it out.

MacIntosh trails, just behind a busy subdivision

And after that Nova Scotia was sunny days with low winds for the most part. There was a foggy hike I took in Spryfield just outside Halifax that was the exception, but it was due to all the snow melting from warmer temperatures so no complaints!

My favorite stop was the little town of Annapolis Royal, where the doctor's office was closed so I wandered under the sun instead.

I bought a knit hat at The Courtyard artist gallery and had a lovely chat with a lady who was originally from Newfoundland.  I ran into Newfies everywhere I went, it seems a lot have migrated to the Maritimes over the years.

I gave her a painted rock (after all, we felt like friends when I left!) and I left one on a chair along the boardwalk for someone else to find.

Annapolis royal boardwalk

There were a few lovely shops but I only had time to stop in one more so I thought I would see what the Lucky Rabbit tile shop had to look at. I missed the handmade bags, but the one shown on their web page is gorgeous so I will make sure to consider them when I return.

Beautiful work in all shapes and sizes, and all the bright colors after a short walk in the sun was just what I needed to push on and continue driving.

The only other place I stopped and did some shopping in Nova Scotia was at The Tangled Garden just outside of Wolfville.

Too pretty to eat!

They sell jams, jellies and anything else that an herb would make better.  They also have a tea room open in the summer, and I'm sure a stroll through their gardens is like a piece of heaven on earth.

I bought some liquers and of course some jam

I made it back to Newfoundland last night, and today I push on to home where I will wait out the coronavirus by painting lots of rocks. A few more posts to follow with what I saw in the Maritimes.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Mural Treasure

I didn't share these 2 when I did my blog post about Lunenburg, so here they are now.

On the corner of the same building a man is on his way to the coffee house at the front, or maybe going back in for a refill?

I'm stuck now waiting for a ferry from Nova Scotia back to Newfoundland, so I'll get a few posts done tonight and get them scheduled to go up this week.  In the meantime, linking up to Monday Mural.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Health Care in Newfoundland

Believe it or not it is a coincidence that this will publish during the COVID-19 outbreak. I've been keeping an eye on the Canadian government's response to date and have every confidence that Canada will get its citizens the best care available as well as take care of their financial needs during this uncertain time.

The pictures I'm including are from a hike I took on The Bordeaux Trail in Arnold's Cove this summer.

Much of the Bordeaux trail looks like this

Let's start with what I thought I knew before we moved from the U.S. to Canada, mostly from observation of how my relatives' health care issues seemed to be handled over the years and from their comments.
1. Coverage automatic upon residency. Level of care seemed "fine".  Care seemed up to date and adequate.
2. Sometimes you would have to wait for surgery/care if it wasn't an emergency due to doctor shortages on the island.  For serious situations this would be in hospital, some routine care might be lengthy wait.
3. Prescription medication costs much lower. This I knew from having to buy antibiotics 20 years ago. What that looked like now I wasn't sure.
4. Insurance premiums and co-pays obsolete. Everyone covered, everything covered. Sales taxes higher but overall cost of care much less with no worries.

View of Arnold's Cove from the trail

Level of Care
In our experience, the level of care has been BETTER than what we received in Wisconsin.

  • MCP (Medical Care Plan) coverage is automatic. We arrived in Newfoundland, went down to our local Services Canada and filled out the 1 page application. We had coverage within days.
  •  There are no premiums, no copays, no explanation of benefits sent to you in the mail because everything is covered.
  • Coverage does not include ambulance, dental (unless surgically necessary), vision, prescription, cosmetic surgery, in vitro, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other alternative medicine practices. It was the same with our coverage in the U.S.
Let me interject here that Cory was covered under Medicaid due to his mental health issues in Wisconsin. We tried FOR A YEAR to get him dental extractions. With his autism spectrum and mental health issues/medications his teeth had gone to the point where infection was inevitable and we were having teeth extracted TWO AT A TIME by a dentist because there was ONLY ONE oral surgeon for the southern half of Wisconsin that accepted Medicaid and it would take months to be seen. The first thing we did when we got here was have him seen by a dentist who referred him to an oral surgeon and by August he was in the hospital and had them all removed.  It was 100% covered by his MCP and his suffering was over.
  • You have to see your doctor every 3 months and undergo bloodwork in order to refill your medications. Doctors are obviously properly trained and ask all the right questions. In the U.S. we had to see the doctor once a year to get medications.  I'm impressed by this 3 month requirement, obviously more chance for doctor to discover problems and treat them early.
  • If you have the flu or just have questions you can get seen in a day or two. Waiting room times are no longer than in the U.S. and often less. This may vary by town, but I doubt it since we live in a rural area. St. John's may be a little different with its higher population.
  • Medical records are electronically shared across all platforms. If you see your doctor, then get testing done in St. John's or get anything done anywhere they all have access to your information. In the U.S. this was only true for us if we saw doctors within the same hospital network.
  • Couseling is available at our rural location every other week on a walk-in basis. Free. Yeah, let that one roll around in your head for a minute. You don't even show your MCP card, just sign in or call ahead and book a time if you prefer.
  • Since arriving I have had a tetanus shot and been seen for medication refills. Wayne has been seen for breathing issues and has had testing done related to that. Cory has obviously been seen the most for his mental health care and it has been REMARKABLE. I will get to that in another post rather than try to cover it here. 
Plenty of berries for snacking along the way

Waiting for Care
This one is a bit tricky. It is not completely untrue that you may have to wait for surgery/specialists in some situations. We live on an island. Doctors don't want to come and live here. I have heard from relatives living elsewhere in Canada that they do not really have this issue. Obviously we didn't have to wait long for Cory's dental surgery, and he was seen by a psychiatrist within 2 months as well I believe.  Again, we had problems with psychiatrist shortages in Wisconsin so not something we felt was unreasonable.  I have been waiting a few months to find out when I will be scheduled for a routine endoscopy which is certainly something I'm in no hurry for.

However, I do have a relative that has been waiting up to a year to see a neurologist. This is unusual, and due to extreme shortage of neurologists on the island right now. I am guessing his primary care doctor is consulting on medications to prescribe to control symptoms and that if they thought the need was urgent he would be seen. Why? I have another relative have a stroke just days after we arrived this spring. She was obviously cared for immediately and actually STAYED IN HOSPITAL for weeks before being transferred directly to a rehabilitative center.  She underwent all her rehabilitation as an inpatient for at least another month. When my father had a stroke in the U.S. I guarantee you he did not receive full time inpatient rehabilitative care. This is not her first stroke, and her recovery has been miraculous in my opinion due to that extensive rehabilitation process.

When I was searching for a psychiatrist for Cory in Wisconsin there wasn't a single one in 3 counties who was taking new patients UNLESS YOU WERE HOSPITALIZED and that was how he got his care initially. When we wanted to switch we ended up having to drive an hour to the Milwaukee area to get seen by someone. So this happens in the U.S. as well. Private insurance is no guarantee of services, not to mention of coverage.

When Wayne needed a CT scan and a lung function test the orders were sent in by his doctor and we received a letter in the mail of his appointment dates in St. John's. The scan was a 2 month wait, the lung function test was 4 month wait. From this I deducted they didn't really think he had a lung tumor or he would have been moved up the list, but the tests still need to be done to rule everything out. In other words, not everything is an emergency and if it was there would be no delays. 

Exploring a bit off the trail is always the best part

Prescription Costs
Look, I don't even know where to begin. So I'll start with the fact that I got 90 day refills on our medications with our flex spending money before we left the U.S. The only precription medications I take is an inhaler for occasional mild asthma flare-ups and one for arthritis.  I was spreading out the arthritis medication usage (something no one would think of doing here to my knowledge) and getting by on Tylenol and Advil when I could to make it last. I had a flare up and it finally ran out. Right before I left for this work trip I got it refilled and was told that I also had low iron.  I picked up my prescriptions for Fosamax and Meloxicam and laughed out loud when they told me $34 CAD for the both of them total. Without insurance. I pay more for a haircut or lunch for two. I probably would have paid more WITH insurance copays in the U.S. considering the equivalent is $25 USD.  Wayne's inhalers for his pulmonary issues have been similarly priced.

I even spotted currants growing wild under some trees

I don't know what "Medicare for All" would look like in the United States or how it would be paid for.  Yes, sales tax is higher here.  Before moving I did the math.  We were paying about $1,000.00 a month average for Wayne and I in premiums, copays and deductibles. I computed our average monthly spending of taxable items here and maybe you are looking at an extra $100 month. What about big ticket items like furniture or a TV? If you were really concerned they have "save the tax" sales here all the time, buy your big items then. And otherwise our cost of living has been the same. Groceries, utilities, internet, cell phone, cable, all the same after exchange rate differences.  Our property taxes are lower, but our heating cost may be slightly higher. Only noticeable price increase is fuel cost, but we drive a lot less so it's still a decrease in spenditure. One hundred dollars a month versus one thousand dollars a month? For the same or better care? For coverage no one can take away?

Happy and healthy Canadian!

The take away - we are beyond delighted with our care here. The fact is that we have no intention of ever moving back to the United States.  Even if Medicare for All were to become a reality there is no way it would be as straightforward as it should be once it got passed and no way it would be as cost effective as it is in Canada.  Now if we could only convince our daughter and her fiance to move here, right? Unlikely, but I'll keep dreaming.

I'll go over Cory's mental health care experiences in more detail at a later date.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Friends or Food?

Don't have time for a chat this morning, but here's a mural I saw in Sydney, Nova Scotia.  As you can see, they've been getting their fair share of snow this year as well.

Linking up to Monday mural.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hello Sailor

Before I dive into my quick but lovely walk through Lunenburg tonight, I want to respond to Barbara's comment about the lavender syrup.  You use the blooms, and I have picked them right off the plant and used them, but buying them in bulk will obviously be the way to go if you want more than just a few times a year treat. Just buy the food grade, here is the Amazon link for the product that I purchased which was also organic.  Just yesterday I ordered a lavender roobois latte at David's tea, and I have used it in baking in the past as well.

Ok, now I'm going to skip ahead a bit on my current trip because my first acquaintance with the town of Lunenburg in Nova Scotia was just too marvelous to wait.  First I would like to shamelessly plug the tiny house on Air bnb that was my home tonight because it was just the cutest place I might have ever stayed.

It comes with a little kitchen and bathroom not pictured, complete with all you could need. A lovely little deck on the back for relaxing and the hosts are right next door and literally the nicest people I might have ever met.  I'm bringing them a little painted black cat rock next time I stay, of course.

As if all that isn't enough, they left me breakfast on the counter (Wait until morning? You know that didn't happen) and the loveliest looking jam in the fridge.  My new home in Lunenburg, and I hope they do well on their endeavor as hosts because no one deserves the success more!

a couple of nibbles with some tea

Jane and John directed me toward downtown for a quick evening walk before dark, and along the way a local struck up a conversation.  Next thing you know I have a new friend and tour guide and the best town walk I've had in a long time.

I got shown all the restaurants to try when I return in June...

...saw a few lovely murals...

...and even saw a few dorys.

Not many other boats on the go, but I did get to admire Nellie Row which is manned by an all female crew.  Hello Sailor, indeed!  Go get 'em, Girls! (And yes, you know I'm painting that on a rock soon!)

 But for me the historic architecture was the big delight.  I love living in Newfoundland but I guess I'm a bit starved for some architectural detail and Lunenburg has that covered, especially if you're looking for some mansard roofs.

I'll go crazy with my my Canon camera and better lighting on those gems in June, you can be sure.  Hope my impromptu tour guide Patty doesn't mind my sharing the picture I took of her when she stopped at my car to try on some of my frames.  Thanks for the tour, Patty!

 More Nova Scotia to come, I'm so excited to be on the road again!

Terra Nova's Louil Hill Trail

On my last road trip across the island for work in October I stopped at Terra Nova Provincial Park for a hike on the Louil Hill Trail. From an alder bed to a balsam fir forest to black spruce, just as you might get bored the transitioning forest becomes something new. As it alternates from thick forest to open pockets look for the new growth and stunted looking trees that indicate the impact that moose and rabbit have had on the park’s balsam fir forest.

Most of the trail is a gradual uphill with no obstacles, a nice change for someone who has been crashing through bushes and plunging into mucky bogs. About midway along the 3.7 km loop a set of 140 stairs leads up to the barren hill top of Louil Hill.

Views of Alexander Bay greeted me as I rested and waited for my heartbeat to settle down. 

Normally I would have clambered all over that rock, but I was happy with the workout after hours of driving and just placed a small painted rock at the top of the stairs and headed back down.

At the bottom of the stairs you can either continue along the loop or go back the way you came which is what I did since there were no markers telling me trail length and I didn't want to be gone too long.  I've got miles of pavement to conquer sometimes too.

The trailhead parking area is located about 1 km off the Trans Canada Highway on Hwy 310, come pay Terra Nova a visit!  I'm hoping that enough snow will be melted on my return work trip this month to stop again and try another trail. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Cooking up A Scoff

Now that I'm home more often than I was back in Wisconsin, (and now that I'm not swinging past a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's once a week) cooking on a regular basis has become a standard thing.

When we first moved in all I could think of was using the oven after having lived in the camper for 10 weeks! But now that I'm making up a batch of bread and pizza dough at least every other week the thrill has worn off a bit.

Just before we left I ordered a 10 cup Hamilton Beach food processor and I must say the joy of that has not worn off.  I use it to process leftover bread heels into crumbs for meatloaf, to shred cheese for pizza, and I even used it to make zucchini relish this summer.

Wayne fished cod all summer long, and the fall brought rabbit and moose, so we've had our share of traditional meals.  He loves using Seal-A-Meal and bought a gigantic upright freezer for the garage.

Like most Newfies he likes his cod deep fried while I don't like anything fried except the occasional french fry.  But I've been experimenting with the cod to see if I can tempt him. So far I've had to eat it all by myself.  No complaints!

Stewed chicken is a meal we all like.  Who's going to say no to gravy?

I've tried a few other things based on ingredients on hand as well.  What would we do with Google search?  All of us enjoyed the Greek Lemon chicken baked in the oven.

My favorite way to cook chicken breasts is cut it into pieces and saute a few minutes on each side in olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary.  I burn my fingers eating it right out of the pan most of the time!

Wayne's favorite meal? Bologna stew.  I wish I was kidding. He'll make a big pot and eat it until it's gone...all by himself. His other favorite is turkey soup, he'll even cook a turkey just for making it.

Candians are big into Chinese inspired dishes, as opposed to the Italian and Mexican fare I'm used to back in the States. But that doesn't mean I don't still whip up a good Midwestern pork roast!

I made a LOT of jam this September, some partridgeberry pancakes, and one blueberry pie.

Rosemary, olive oil and red pepper went nicely with the currants!

I also made currant chutney after having it on a sandwich at The Pantry Cafe which is run by the Autism Society in St. John's.  I loved it so much that I'll be on the hunt for my own currant bushes when the nurseries open up in the spring!

 A surprise to me was discovering that the chocolate sauce and the bourbon sauce from some cake recipes also doubled nicely as topping for ice cream! Wayne lost weight since the move (28 pounds!) with all the extra exercise he's been getting, but as you might imagine cake and ice cream and finding uses for chocolate sauce hasn't led me to lose any pounds. That will hopefully change, I got a lecture at the doctor about my high cholesterol so I will be making better choices and cutting out my recent "dessert every day" lifestyle and eating more salads.

After I got addicted to Lavender Lattes from Fiddleheads back in Wisconsin I had to make some Lavender syrup of my own.  It also makes a mean Lavender Tom Collins and you can buy organic dried lavender in bulk on Amazon for a very reasonable price!

That's my big food post, I won't do this again, it makes me too hungry!