On Genealogy: I always knew I was a Princess! My Relation to King VIII of France!

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 10.47.39 PM
Ok, I’m all over the place with this ancestry stuff.  I just moved, am sick in bed but can’t stop researching.  Each line steers me to something new and exciting – I’m honestly just just jumping around when I find a new cool hint – I follow it and away I go – on a brand spanking new tangent.

I always knew I was special – a princess you might say – now I have something to back it up  – my 24th great grand-father was King Louis VIII of France.  

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 10.31.56 PM

In all honesty, I know very little about my 24x GGF, but, from what I’ve seen on the line (Internship joke) Louis VIII the Lion (aka Louis VIII le Lion) (5 September 1187 – 8 November 1226) was King of France from 1223 to 1226 (only 3 years). He also claimed the title King of England from 1216 to 1217. Louis VIII was born in Paris, the son of King Philip II of France and Isabelle of Hainaut, from whom he inherited the County of Artois at Palais Royal, Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France.

On 23 May 1200, at the age of 12 (what????, 12!!!), Louis was married to Blanche of Castile, daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor of England, the sister of King Richard I and King John of England. The marriage could only be concluded after prolonged negotiations between King Philip II of France and Blanche’s uncle John.

Louis VIII succeeded his father on 14 July 1223; his coronation took place on 6 August of the same year in the cathedral at Reims.

Born to wealth, Blanche of Castile (1188-1252) took the reins of leadership early in life as the wife of Louis VIII, King of France and later as co-regent during her son, Louis IX’s, minority. She proved to be a good, albeit strong willed leader, keenly adept at dealing with her male counterparts.

Blanche of Castile was born on March 4, 1188 in Palencia, Castile, an area that is now part of central and northern Spain. She was the daughter of King Alphonso VIII of Castile and Princess Eleanor Plantagenet of England. Her grandfather was Henry II of England, her grandmother was Eleanor of Aquitane and her uncle was John I of England. This rich lineage prepared her well for a place on the throne of France.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 9.52.27 PMDuring Louis VIII’s short reign, Blanche confined her activities to the education and upbringing of her children. She was especially careful of the education of her favorite son, Louis. She was a stern Christian and taught him to be pious and devoted to the services of the church.

In 1236 Louis came of age but Blanche remained at his side—his strongest supporter and advisor. Louis proved to be an energetic king devoted to his people. He was a devout Roman Catholic, austere and prayerful and a devoted husband and father.  Blanche of Castile suffered with a heart ailment, but continued to preside over court responsibilities. In 1252 she suffered a heart attack while on her way to the Abbey of the Lys for a retreat. She was returned to the Palace of the Louvre in Paris where she received the last rights and died.

The King died of dysentery (is a type of gastroenteritis that results in diarrhea with blood.) on November 8, 1226 (39).  The Saint Denis Basilica houses the tomb of Louis VIII.

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 9.51.31 PM

Louis and Blanche had thirteen children:

  1. Unnamed daughter [Blanche?] (1205 – died soon after).
  2. Philip (9 September 1209 – before July 1218), betrothed in July 1215 to Agnes of Donzy.
  3. Alphonse (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 26 January 1213), twin of John.
  4. John (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 26 January 1213), twin of Alphonse.
  5. Louis IX (Poissy, 25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270, Tunis), King of France as successor to his father.
  6. Robert (25 September 1216 – 9 February 1250, killed in battle, Mansoura, Egypt), Count of Artois.
  7. Philip (20 February 1218 – 1220).
  8. John (21 July 1219 – 1232), Count of Anjou and Maine; betrothed in March 1227 to Yolande of Brittany.
  9. Alphonse (Poissy, 11 November 1220 – 21 August 1271, Corneto), Count of Poitou and Auvergne, and by marriage, of Toulouse.
  10. Philip Dagobert (20 February 1222 – 1232.
  11. Isabelle (March 1224 – 23 February 1270).
  12. Stephen (end 1225 – early 1227).
  13. Charles (posthumously 21 March 1227 – 7 January 1285), Count of Anjou and Maine, by marriage Count of Provence and Forcalquier, and King of Sicily

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 10.11.47 PM.png

Now I’m impressed, what is going to top this?  Maybe not too much, but that does not mean that there isn’t a lot of exciting stuff to learn about my GENES & my ANCESTRY, I guess we will have to see ….


T xo



On Genealogy: My Connection to President Lincoln

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 9.49.55 PM.png

So this was the MOST EXCITING ancestral find to date!  The connection, albeit distant – with the most impressive US Presidents of all time – Honest Abe is my 6th cousin 5x removed.

I posted yesterday on my connection to Obadiah Holmes – the important member of the Baptist church who was whipped for his beliefs – this amazing man was the 5th great grand-father of another revolutionary man who needs no introduction or biography, the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln!

My Lineage – Off of the Obadiah Holmes Line

Obadiah Holmes (10th Great Grand Father)


Martha Holmes


Hannah Audley


Abigail Devol


Job Milk II


Sarah Milk


Roger Moore


Ambrose Richards


George Richards


Ambrose Richards


Benjamin Richards


Patrick Richards




How I am connected to President Lincoln:

Rev. Obadiah Holmes + Katherine Hyde


Lydia Holmes + Capt. John Brown


Hannah Salter + Mordecai Lincoln


John Lincoln + Rebecca Flower


Capt. Abraham Lincoln + Bethesda Herring


Thomas Lincoln + Nancy Hanks


President Abraham Lincoln + Mary Todd

Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 9.52.36 PM.pnguntil his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, paved the way for the abolition of slavery.

In 1840, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd, who was from a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington, Kentucky. They met in Springfield, Illinois, in December 1839 and were engaged the following December. A wedding set for January 1, 1841, was canceled when the two broke off their engagement.  They later met again at a party and married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary’s married sister.

The couple had four children. Robert Todd Lincoln was born in 1843 and Edward Baker Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 9.53.40 PM.pngLincoln (Eddie) in 1846. Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, probably of tuberculosis. “Willie” Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died of a fever on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns’ fourth son, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871. Robert was the only child to live to adulthood and have children.

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, beating Douglas, Breckinridge, and Bell. He was the first president from the Republican Party.

On June 19, 1862, endorsed by Lincoln, Congress passed an act banning slavery on all federal territory.  Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. In it, he stated that “as a fit and necessary military measure, on January 1, 1863, all persons held as slaves in the Confederate states will thenceforward, and forever, be free”.  The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, and put into effect on January 1, 1863.

President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.  Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15.

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 10.49.42 PM.png

In surveys of U.S. scholars ranking presidents conducted since the 1940s, Lincoln is consistently ranked in the top three, often as number one.


  • The Ancient One, a nickname favored by White House insiders because of his “ancient wisdom”
  • The Great Emancipator and The Liberator for the emancipation of the slaves
  • Honest Abe
  • The Rail-Splitter
  • The Tycoon for the energetic and ambitious conduct of his Civil War administration
  • Uncle Abe for his avuncularity in his later years

Pretty INTERESTING FIND to see that I have some connection to a US President – like I said coming from Canada this line is FULL of amazing discoveries.  Only this ONE line goes back to the States, let alone all of the way back to the foundation – it’s also very exciting that in Canada I am also related to a Filles Du Row and Filled a Married – which is Canada’s equivalent of coming over on the Mayflower.

Tune in for the next blog to see what else I discover …


T xo

On Genealogy: Whipped for Baptist Beliefs – My Connection to Rev. Obadiah Holmes

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 9.26.30 PM.png

Ok, it’s safe to say we all know that I’m a genealogy NUT, I won’t even try to deny it.  I love learning and I love history, especially when it comes to MY OWN.  They say to know where you’re going, you’ve got to know where you’ve been.  I believe in knowing the trials, tribulations and successes my family has gone through, endured, surmounted and overcome, I can better understand a part of myself – and mainly teach this to my own children and to my family.  I believe I’m the first in my family to have undertaken such an in depth look at ALL lines of our family.  Sometimes I get so excited with where each branch goes, I don’t know where to go next after I’ve followed one to something exciting.

Yesterday I wrote about my familial connection to the Salem Witch Trials and I could have and likely should have stayed with that line as original settlers to the new colony, but something else piqued my interest in another line and off I went …

In going through my photo and story hints in my Ancestry.ca site, I came across a photo that someone had posted about a distant relative by the name of Obadiah Holmes.  Being Canadian, I’m astounded to see such American roots and the importance that some of my ancestors/colonial descendants have.  I had NO IDEA who Obediah Holmes was before starting this research and this blog.  A quick check online and up came a litany of information,  videos, articles and movies/documentaries on HIM.  In all honesty, I was going to write this blog about one of Obadiah’s famous descendants, but as I researched him and his significance to American history and the Baptist church, I felt it was worth writing about.

I’ll add the link to” The American family of Rev. Obadiah Holmes”  here for you to take a look at, but, I’ll provide a brief synopsis of his ancestry:

Arrival to the New Colony:

The decade of the 1630’s so disheartened England’s Puritans that they left their homeland in shipload after shipload to create a newer and purer England far away. These were the years of the Great Puritan Migration and Obadiah Holmes also “adventured the danger of the seas to come to New England.” Holmes and his wife probably sailed from Preston (just north of Liverpool), down the River Ribble, across the Irish Sea, and into the open Atlantic. They had an extremely stormy voyage that prevented them from entering Boston harbor until six weeks had passed. Soon after landing at Boston, most likely in the summer or early fall of 1638, they made their way up the coast and settled at Salem, Massachusetts.  Later removed to Rehoboth in Plymouth Colony.

Obadiah is said to have brought the first pendulum clock to America. This timepiece, one of the first of the kind ever constructed, is still doing duty in the cabinet of the Long Island and Historical Society, Brooklyn, having been presented to them by John Holmes Baker, Esq., a descendant.

Born Obadiah was born/baptized March 18, 1610 in Didsbury Chapel, County of Lancashire, England.  His father, Robert, was 31 and his mother, Katherine, was 26.
Died 15 October 1682 at Newport, Rhode island
Resting place Holmes Cemetery, Middletown, Rhode Island
Education It is said that he attended Oxford in England, but it is not certain if he graduated.

The young Salem settlement encouraged Obadiah and his co-workers in the development of what may have been the first glass factory in North America. They made the common window glass.

Obadiah performed other duties befitting a good citizen; he surveyed and set boundaries for the land of another citizen.

In February, 1643; he accepted an appointment by the town in September 1644 to cut and gather firewood for the church elders.

He often served on juries during his years of residence at Salem.

He succeeded Dr. John Clarke & became the minister of the First Baptist Church in America. The church at Newport was his permanent charge for more than thirty years until his death.

Spouse Married Katherine Hyde (1608 – 1682) at the age of 21.  They were married in Manchester’s Collegiate College Church on November 20, 1630.
Children John, Jonathan, Mary, Martha, Samuel, Obadiah, Lydia, John, Hopestill
Parents Robert Hulmes / Holmes (1578 – 1649)  and Katherine Johnson (1584 – 1630)
Religious Affiliations

Obadiah soon found himself disliking the rigidity of the established church. Then came the horror (for the Puritans) known as Anabaptism. The Baptist zeal in Rhode Island was immeasurably heightened by a direct infusion of English Baptists from abroad. They were convinced that immersion or “dipping” was the only proper form of baptism. This innovation brought conflict and irritation to the Puritans, but brought peace and serenity, at last, to Obadiah Holmes.

He was Baptized with the “new baptism” along with 8 others and became out and out Baptists, with Obadiah becoming their leader and pastor. Obadiah took the irrevocable step toward separation from New England’s official way. It took three years for the membership of the Rehoboth church to become divided on doctrinal and legal lines and become aligned behind the minister and Obadiah as the respective leaders. Obadiah’s conversion to the distinctive views of the Baptists was developed here. He became the leader of the Schismatists (he formal separation of a church into two churches or the secession of a group owing to doctrinal and other differences).

Rev. Obadiah Holmes was a Baptist minister at a time when Baptists were barred from worshipping in the colony of Massachusetts.

A grand jury — included William Bradford, John Alden and Miles Standish — indicted Obadiah Holmes for heresy. He and his family left Plymouth for Newport, R.I., in 1650.

Fateful Trip to Lynn, Massachusetts

On July 16, 1651, Dr. John Clarke (pastor of the Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island), John Crandall and Obadiah Holmes walked 80 miles from Newport, RI to Massachusetts.  The purpose of the visit was to bring spiritual comfort and communion to William Witter, a blind and aged Baptist who had invited the three to come to his house. The broader purpose was, of course, an evangelical one: to tell of the new baptism and its importance. The word was proclaimed, converts were baptized, the elements of the Lord’s Supper were served all of this done privately in William Witter’s home.  I

On Sunday, July 20, they were holding church services to a small congregation. While Dr. Clarke was reading passages of scripture, two constables, with a warrant for the 3 visitors, broke in on the scene. The offence charged against them was conducting religious services in non-conformity with the statutes. The 3 Rhode Islanders were placed under arrest and taken to the local Anchor Tavern, to be fed and to await their scheduled appearance before the General Court, early the next morning. 

In the morning, after a brief appearance before Robert Bridges in Lynn, Mass, the evangelists were sent to Boston for trial. The authorities denied the defendants the opportunity to offer a defence, they simply read the charges and imposed the fines. The court order for commitment to prison, indicated essentially four complaints against the “strangers”. They had offended by (a) conducting a private worship service at the same time as the town’s public worship; (b) “offensively disturbing” the public meeting in Lynn; (c) more seriously, “seducing and drawing aside others after their erroneous judgment and practices”; and (d) “neglecting or refusing to give in sufficient security for their appearance” at the next meeting of the county court.  

The same charges were levied against all three men, all of whom fell under the proscription of the 1645 law against Anabaptists. Clarke, was fined £20; Crandall, as a tag-along and largely silent companion, was fined only £5. Obadiah Holmes, already under the cloud of excommunication from the church in Rehoboth, received the largest fine of £30. Should they not wish to pay the set fines, they had an alternative: the culprit was to be “well whipped”. 

Holmes refused to accept the offer of friends to pay his fine, believing it would be an admission of guilt, making it a matter of his conscience and scruples. He remained in prison from July till September.  

The Whipping

On September 5, 1651, Obadiah was taken from the jail, outside to the market place, where Magistrate Increase Nowell told the “executioner” to strip Obadiah naked down to the waist after he refused to disrobe himself, saying “that for all Boston I would not give my bodie into their hands to be bruised upon another account, yet upon this I would not give the hundredth part of a Wampon Peaque to free it out of their hands, and that I made as much conscience of unbuttoning one button, as I did of paying the £30 in reference thereunto.” He was then tied to the post and publicly flogged at Devonshire & State Streets in Boston, just because he was a Baptist.  

There were thirty strokes (which was 10 lashings short of a death sentence), with a three-cord whip, Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 4.21.20 PMheld by the executioner – one lash for each pound he owed. Holmes proclaimed, “I bless God I am counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.” Though he received 30 lashes, to his bare back, Obadiah is said to not have let out a groan or scream – after the whipping he uttered the words “You have struck me as with roses.”  

After the flogging and out from the crowd came forward to offer their sympathy and shake Obadiah’s hand.  John Spur and John Hazel were promptly arrested and jailed.  Obadiah’s testimony deeply affected Harvard’s President, Henry Dunster.  For weeks and weeks after the flogging had to sleep on knees and elbows. 

Life After Religious Persecution

Obadiah returned to Newport and in 1652 succeeded Dr. John Clarke. He became the minister of the First Baptist Church in America. The church at Newport was his permanent charge for more than thirty years until his death. In 1656 he was made a Freeman (in U.S. colonial times, a person not under legal restraint). He served as a Commissioner from 1656-58.

Obadiah died October 15, 1682 in Newport and was buried in his own field, where a tomb was erected to his memory (in what is now the town of Middletown). His wife did not long survive him.  He had nine children and 42 grandchildren when he died.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.55.12 PM


Thank God for men who put principles and compassion for fellow believers above their personal safety.

Last Will & Testament

These are to signify that I, Obadiah Holmes of Newport on Rhode Island, being at present through the goodness and mercy of my God of sound memory; and, being by daily intimations put in mind of the frailty and uncertainty of this present life, do therefore – for settling my estate in this world which it has pleased the Lord to bestow upon me – make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner following, committing my spirit unto the Lord that gave it to me and my body to the earth from whence it was taken, in hope and expectation that it shall thence be raised at the resurrection of the just.

Imprimis, I will that all my just debts which I owe unto any person be paid by my Executor, hereafter named, in convenient time after my decease.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Mary Brown, five pounds in money or equivalent to money.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Martha Odlin, ten pounds in the like pay.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Lydia Bowne, ten pounds.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my two grandchildren, the children of my daughter, Hopestill Taylor, five pounds each; and if either of them decease, the survivor to have ten pounds.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my son, John Holmes, ten pounds.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my son, Obadiah Holmes, ten pounds.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my grandchildren, the children of my son Samuel Holmes, ten pounds to be paid unto them in equal portions.

All these portions by me bequeathed, my will is, shall be paid by my Executor in money or equivalent to money.

Item. I give and bequeath unto all my grandchildren now living ten pounds; and ten shillings in the like pay to be laid out to each of them – a bible.

Item. I give and bequeath unto my grandchild, Martha Brown, ten pounds in the like pay.

All [of] which aforesaid legacies are to be paid by my Executor, hereafter named in manner here expressed: that is to say, the first payment to [be] paid within one year after the decease of my wife, Catherine {sic} Holmes, and twenty pounds a year until all the legacies be paid, and each to be paid according to the degree of age.

My will is and I do hereby appoint my son Jonathan Holmes my sole Executor, unto whom I have sold my land, housing, and stock for the performance of the same legacies above. And my will is that my Executor shall pay unto his mother, Catherine Holmes, if she survives and lives, the sum of twenty pounds in money or money pay for her to dispose of as she shall see cause.

Lastly, I do desire my loving friends, Mr. James Barker, Sr., Mr. Joseph Clarke, and Mr. Philip Smith, all of Newport, to be my overseers to see this my will truly performed. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, this ninth day of April, 1681.

Obadiah Hullme [Holmes][Seal]

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of
Edward Thurston
Weston Clarke
(Edward Thurston, Sr., and Weston Clark appeared before the Council [of Newport], December 4, 1682, and did upon their engagements [pledges] declare and own that they saw Obadiah Holmes, deceased, sign seal and deliver the above written will as his act and deed; and, at the time of his sealing hereof, he was in his perfect memory, according to the best of our understandings. Taken before the Council, as attested. Weston Clarke, Town Clerk.)

My Lineage 

Rev. Obadiah Holmes (10th Great Grand Father)


Martha Holmes


Hannah Audley


Abigail Devol


Job Milk II


Sarah Milk


Roger Moore


Ambrose Richards


George Richards


Ambrose Richards


Benjamin Richards


Patrick Richards





This was an interesting person to research, I had no idea that I was connected to such a significant man/family.  It’s warming to see how revered he is in the Baptist community.

Stay tuned for the original reason I was going to write about Obadiah – his most famous descendant …. any guesses on who it is?


T xo


On Genealogy: Salem Witch Trial Connection

Late last night, I couldn’t sleep, I decided to do a bit of digging on some hew “hints” on my Ancestry.ca site and take closer look into my DNA profile.

A while back I posted a blog called “On Genealogy: My Quaker Connection; Descendant of John Milk, British Colonial America, 1662” which traced my roots back to colonial America.  I had an inclination based on that research that were was going to be a lot of interesting genealogical & historical facts and significance coming out of this line – and there it was – I found my first nugget.  A connection to the Salem witch trials.

salem631The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts (The Massachusetts Bay Colony) between February 1692 and May 1693. They say that between 150 and 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil’s magic. As a wave of hysteria spread throughout the Puritan colony, a special court convened to hear the cases.  Assembled on the bench were “people of the best prudence and figure that could be pitched upon.” Examinations took place in Salem Village (present-day Danvers, Massachusetts). The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Five others (including two infant children) died in prison.

Most of the convictions and executions were grounded on testimony of spectral evidence. Spectral evidence is evidence based on visions and dreams of the actions of a witch’s spirit or specter, i.e. the testimony about what an accused person’s spirit did, rather than actions of the accused person in the body.  Opposition by the contemporary clergy to the use of spectral evidence didn’t mean the clergy did not believe that specters were real.  They believed, rather, that the devil could use specters to possess and get them to act against their own will. That Satan possessed a person was not evidence that the person had consented.  Crazy to think of in this day and age, isn’t it??

In terms of my relation – in late January/early February of 1693, the Court sat in Charlestown, Middlesex County, and held grand juries and tried five people: Sarah Cole (of Lynn), Lydia Dustin & Sarah Dustin, Mary Taylor and Mary Toothaker.

List of the Afflicted

Name Location
Alice Booth Unknown
Elizabeth Booth Salem Village
Sarah Bridges Andover
William Brage Salem Town
Mary Brown Reading
Sarah Churchill Salem Village
Johanna Dod Marblehead
John Doritch Unknown
Mary Fitch Gloucester
Rose Foster Andover
Goodhall Probably Salem Village
Benjamin Goodwin Boston
John Goodwin, Jr. Boston
Martha Goodwin Boston
Mercy Goodwin Boston
Mary Herrick Wenham
Mary Hill Salem Town
Elizabeth Hubbard Salem Village
John Indian Salem Village
Elizabeth Knapp Groton
Mary Lacey, Jr. Andover
Mercy Lewis Salem Village
Mary Marshall Reading
Abigail Martin Andover
Elizabeth Parris Salem Village
Hanna Perley Topsfield
Sarah Phelps Andover
Bethshaa Pope Probably Salem Village
Ann Putnam, Jr. Salem Village
Ann Putnam, Sr. Salem Village
Margaret Rule Boston
Susannah Sheldon Salem Village
Mercy Short Boston
Martha Sprague Boxford
Tituba Salem Village
Rebecca Towne Topsfield
Peter Tuft’s maidservant Charlestown
Sarah Vibber Wenham
Mary Walcott Salem Village
Mary Warren Salem Village
**Elizabeth Weston Reading**
Rebecca Wilkins Salem Village
Abigail Williams Salem Village

My Lineage

Elizabeth WESTON (9th Great Grandmother)












Jedidiah MOORE


Dudley MOORE















The Afflicted: Elizabeth Weston

From the linage tree above, you probably noticed that my ancestral connection lies with Elizabeth Weston, daughter of John Weston of Reading.  She accused Sarah Dustin of tormenting her and was held for trial.

Her father, John Westing was born 

Place of Burial: His gravestone in the graveyard shows that he was one of the founders of the church (the First Church of Salem, MA).
Immediate Family: Son of John Weston, II and Martha Weston
Husband of Sarah Weston
Father of John Weston; Sarah Milk; Mary Weston; John Weston; Samuel Weston and 16 others
Brother of Henry Weston, I; Thomas Westonand Francis Weston
Occupation: Owned Sailing Vessels, 1644 emigration (Stow Away), Fought in King Phiilips’ War

I will write separately on John Weston in another blog as HE is the IMMIGRANT ancestor of this line and researching this has lead me to discover other interesting facts about Mr. Weston.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 1.46.55 PMAccused of Witchcraft:  Sarah Dustin

Lydia Dustin/Dastin (approx 1626 – March 10, 1693), was a resident of Reading, Massachusetts, she was arrested on April 30.  She was examined on May 2 by magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, on the same day as Sarah Morey, Susannah Martin, and Dorcas Hoar were examined. She was then sent to Boston’s jail.

Lydia’s daughter Sarah Dustin was the next in the family accused and arrested, followed by Lydia’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Colson. Lydia’s daughter Mary Colson (Elizabeth Colson’s mother), was also accused; she was examined but not indicted.

Sarah Dustin was the unmarried daughter of Lydia Dustin. Her father was Joshia Dustin, who had been one of the founders and leading land owners of Reading, Massachusetts. She was arrested for witchcraft and for tormenting and afflicting Elizabeth Weston, the daughter of John Weston of Reading.

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 1.28.40 PM

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 1.30.25 PM
Excepts from the book The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.  By Marilynne K. Roach


Both Lydia and Sarah were found NOT GUILTY by the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize and General Gaol Delivery in January or February, 1693, after the initial trials had been suspended when criticized for their use of spectral evidence. However, they could not be released until they paid jail fees. Lydia Dustin died still in jail on March 10, 1693.  Because of this she is included on lists of those who died as part of the Salem witchcraft accusations and trials.  Sarah, must have found a way to pay and was released. Nothing more is known of her.

Ruling in the Case of Sarah Dustin:

      Sarah Dastin of Reding in the County of Midlesex being Indicted by the Jurors for our Soveraigne Lord & Lady the King and Queen upon their Oathes by one Indictment That is to say. For that the said Sarah Dastin of Reding in the County of Midlesex single woman on or about the month of May in the year 1692 And divers other dayes and times as well before as after certain detestable arts called Witchcraft and Sorceries wickedly mallitiously & feloneously hath used practised and Exercised at and in the Towne of Reding in the County of Midlesex aforesaid upon and against one Elizabeth Weston of Reding daughter of John Weston of Reding by which wicked Arts the said Elizabeth Weston the day and year afores’d and divers other dayes and times as well before as after was afflicted tortured tormented pined and wasted against the peace of our Soveraigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen their Crowne and dignity and the Lawes in that case made and provided. Upon the aforesaid Indictment the said Sarah Dastin was then and there before the Justices of our Lord and Lady the King and Queen aforesaid Araigned & upon her Arraignement she did then and there the day and year aforesaid plead to the said Indictment Not Guilty and put her selfe upon Tryall by God and the Country.

     Jury Sworn

     Mr Samuel Hunting, Samuel Whitmore,  Nathaniel Bassam, Stephen Willis, Henry Green, James Lowden, Nathaniel Cooledge, Thomas Welch Jun’r, Daniel Dean, Samuel Jenison,  Joseph Willson, Josiah Convers

     A Jury being called Samuel Hunting foreman and accordingly sworne no exception being made by the Prisoner The Indictment being read together with the evidences And the prisoners defence being heard The Jury went out to agree upon their verdict Who returning did then and there in open Court deliver their verdict That the said Sarah Dastin was Not Guilty of the felony by witchcraft for which shee stood Indicted in and by the said Indictment.

     The Court Ordered the said Sarah Dastin to be discharged paying her fees.

     Anno RR’s et Reginae Gulielmi et Mariae Quinto At a Superiour Court of Judicature Court of Assize & General Goal Delivery held at Boston for the County of Suffolk on the 16930425 25’th day of Aprill 1693

     Present:  William Stoughton Esq’r Chief Justice, Thomas Danforth Esq’r, John Richards Esq’ & Samuel Sewell Eq’r



 “He wondered at the atrocities human kind was capable of committing. The majority of those housed below were ill, mentally or physically, not witches. Most were poor victims–the outcasts of society; or the opposite, people so blessed, others coveted their lives.” Brynn Chapman, Where Bluebirds Fly

I find it an interesting familial connection to this dark piece of American history.  The Salem witch trials remain a profoundly important chapter in American history.  Over 300 years after the final hanging took place, I plan on driving down to Boston & Salem this coming Summer to see, in person, the remnants of Salem’s dark summer of 1692.  Of course, I will blog of my adventures & research there – stay tuned …


T xo


Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do 💪🏻

I actually wrote this last year ago but didn’t post cause I wanted to respect my brother’s privacy.  I’m really trying to do is show how strong he is.  This is a tribute to his grit and will power.  

We’ve all had a time in our lives that are beyond difficult to cope. When you wonder when you’re going to become the butterfly cause being the caterpillar sucks.  When you wonder which day you become the pigeon, cause you’re sick of being the statue.  
With Darryl @ dad’s camp in 2013

This particular journey began on May 27, 2014 – my brother’s cell came up on my call display, not once but 4 times, in a row.  I wasn’t able to take it,  I let it go to voice mail I’d call him back once I finished my work call.  As if by some weird force, I felt compelled to check Facebook (not something I would normally do while on a work call, since I’m not that multi-talented to be checking online and carry an important conversation) and there it was … a message from a family member telling me to call my mom, there was an emergency with Darryl.  I immediately called my brother’s cell back – no answer.  

I called a total of 4 times. Maybe there was a voice mail?  “Tina, it’s mom, I’m at the hospital with your brother, he’s been rushed in for emergency surgery, I don’t know what exactly, but there was a problem with his heart, it doesn’t look good – if you want to say good bye to your brother you need to come home now”.  I’m sorry, WHAT?  Did she just say that my brother was most likely going to die?  In complete and utter shock, I crumbled against the wall.  

An aortic dissection, a serious condition in which the inner layer of the aorta tears. Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate, an aortic dissection is often fatal and is relatively uncommon, occurring most frequently in men in their 60s and 70s. How? My brother was only 2 days post celebrating his 37th birthday a far cry from 60-70!  It’s the same thing that both John Ritter and Alan Thicke passed away from.
By the time I showed up (I lived in Toronto and my family were in Kitchener), he had been in surgery nearly 2 hours already.  On my way out the door, I called my dad to let him know that he needed to make his way down.  I mean how do you tell your father that he needs to drive all of the way from Quebec and try not scare him that his only son may not be alive when he got there?
“The family of Darryl Richards?” Dr. Ash (shout out to Dr. Ash, an amazing thoracic cardiac surgeon at St. Mary’s General) says.  In all honesty, hearing that brought me back to a Grey’s Anatomy episode when you’re about to get bad news.  He shocks us and says 
“ he’s made it, I don’t know how but he’s made it.  Most people don’t make it to the hospital or make it off the table.  He’s in a coma, on life support and in critical condition,  but he’s alive and he’s made it this far.  The next 24-48 hours are critical”.  
The tubes, all I remember are the copious amounts of tubes going into and out of his body.  Heart monitors, intubation tubes, chest tubes, catheters and the repetitious pace of the ventilation machine keeping him alive and breathing for him in interval.  
It felt surreal, the whole immediate family around his hospital bed and hoping for the best outcome.  Would he come out well from the coma?  Would he have complications?  Would he have renal failure?  Would he stroke out?  So many things!  I’ve seen my dad cry twice in my whole life.  The third was seeing my brother in this condition, I knew he’d do anything to change places with him.  My mom, obviously, was equally as distraught.  I’ll take a moment to mention that my mom saved my brother’s life.  Those maternal instincts are a real thing!  My brother had called her in the morning saying that he wasn’t feeling well.  After describing his symptoms, my mom told him to rush to the hospital – typical man, “I’ll be ok, I’ll sleep it off”, he ended up going to the hospital after my mom said she’d meet him there and he’d better be there or else lol.  After that, things played out in fast-forward.  He was rushed in, assessed and they called for a thoracic cardiac surgeon.  Darryl tells me his last memories before waking up 4 days later was being told that his odds for survival were not in his favour, a priest was administering his last rights and my mom in hysterics, then as the anesthesia kicked it, hearing the sound of the saw.  
Things were really hard on all of us at this time, but things were particularly hard for my mom, I think.  She seemed to spend the majority of her time between two hospitals – caring for her son and for her ailing dad, in palliative care from cancer.  My dad and I would go up to the hospital in the mornings to check in on Darryl … on how he’d faired the night, his vitals, and when when they anticipated bringing him out of the induced coma.  Without getting too much into the specifics of next days where he realized after 4 days that he had made it and he was alive – they brought him out of the induced coma, and slowly started getting him to sit upright, then take a step or two and then talk … after about 1 week he was transferred out of cardiac ICU and into the cardiac recovery ward.
Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 12.35.22 PM.png
June 15 2014 – Our Mending Face

While Darryl remained in hospital, I returned to Toronto to get back to work and cared for Nash (Darryl’s dog and best bud).  Dad built a gate so he could have a big backyard to play in.  Dad also spent a lot of time with Darryl, in Kitchener, during his recovery.  He was his friend, his confidant, he would work Darryl through some of his post-op anxieties/fears (I mean, I’d be having anxiety too if I almost died!), he was his very own support and I get the sense that dad was really significant in how well Darryl pulled through this.

Your know how they say things happen for a reason?  I’m a believer in the power positive thinking, in serendipity, but sometimes even I just can’t make sense and I don’t particularly get why things happen.
My grampa passed away in July, my mom mourned the passing of her dad and my heart bled for my gramma who lost her husband of 60 years.  She hadn’t known anyone else, they stood the test of time.
Darryl, never married and has no biological children, but, he does have Nash.  Nash is his best buddy, his best friend and for all intents and purposes his son.  A brindle Olde English Bulldogge, a loving, loyal companion.  Nash was initially my dog, however, as a puppy he was showing signs of dominance and growing up in a house run by three women, he definitely needed some male influence – so Darryl and I made a temporary trade.  He took Nash and I took his cat, Layla (who just passed away  couple of weeks ago – see below for a pic of this super cutie).  That temporary trade has lasted 9 years.  Nash got sick in July, really sick,  He  had contracted leptospirosis and went into renal failure
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection.  It spreads throughout the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. Soon after initial infection, fever and bacterial infection of the blood develop. Infection of the liver or kidneys can be fatal for animals if the infection progresses, causing severe damage to these organs. The Leptospira spirochete bacteria is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals.
Nash – 2015

Now,  if you love your pets, as we do, you know you, that they’re not just an animal but a member of your family.  Their lives matter just as much as anyone else’s.  Darryl is now only 2 months post-near dying himself, he now having to deal with potentially losing his best bud, his amigo, his Nash – was crazy!

Daily we had to take Nash from the animal hospital to the vet for overnight stays and then due to mounting vet bills they suggested that we take him home at nights.  Oh sure!  No problem!  Don’t mind if we do!  Every night for about a week, we had to cart Nash home from the vet (where he was rec’g treatment) home, in the back of my SUV, hooked to IVs and catheters and dead weight cause he was so weak.  Not to mention, Darryl couldn’t lift, he had chest full of healing staples from his large incision.  I didn’t realize how strong you can get when you run on pure adrenaline .  But I did, I got Nashy in and out of the back of the truck for as long as I had to, to save his life and ultimately that of my brother’s.  Did I mention, that Darryl had renal failure and had a compromised immune system and was susceptible to infection – remember Lepto is zoonotic and is transmittable to humans.  Yes, to make matters worse, he had to be hyper-vigilant around Nash.  I know he would’ve had really hard time recovering if Nash would have died.  He was his companion, he walked with Darryl during his recovery, he brought him calmness and most of all snuggles 🙏🏻.  To the tune of about $7k Nash survived the lepto scare.
2014:  Emma teaching her Papa to use the new tablet I had just bought for him.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Over the course of September and October things slowly calmed and returned to a more normal pace (or whatever our new normal was by this point).  The kids went back to school, we celebrated Thanksgiving, birthdays and we made plans for Christmas.  Dad had retired about half a year earlier and usually worked over the Christmas holidays, this year he didn’t have to, so for the first time in about 30 years, we were going to get to spend Christmas with our ol’ man and step-mom in Quebec.  I always called my dad ol’ man, I don’t know why – I just did, he didn’t seem to mind it.  Things were finally on even keel and for a long time in a while, we had something positive to look forward to.
Dad had been helping me finish my basement over the course of the year.  For having aScreen Shot 2017-09-24 at 9.53.18 PM very strong hate on for Toronto, he was spending weeks on end there with us.  I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with him, but, it wasn’t for the conversation – my dad is a man of few words (unless he has a few wiggly pops, then you can’t shut him up lol).  Life can get busy for stupid reasons and living in different provinces it can be hard to spend as much time as you want with people.  Dad’s a simple, salt of the earth, no stress, kinda guy.  6 shirts, 2 pair of shoes, 3 pair of jeans and a few plaid/lumber jackets. And a ball cap, I rarely saw him without a cap on his noggin.  Dad was very skilled,  I always called him McGiver, he could fix anything.  Give him two wires and four toilet paper rolls, some floss and a battery and somehow he’d get your engine to turn over (ok, not really with that example, but it serves to show that he  was skilled).
Dad was coming down to help me finish the last few things in the basement, this would
be it, then we’d be done!  Yay! And it looked great!  And I was excited to spend more time with him, plus Emma missed her homie.  My cell phone is ringing, it’s “Dad & Linda calling”.  But, I’m on the phone for work and I couldn’t take the call.  I assumed dad was calling to confirm the time his bus was pulling into Yorkdale Mall on Friday, it was Tuesday.
10 minutes later, Darryl calls – “that’s weird” I think to myself “why the heck are they calling so close together”?  I texted Darryl “On the phone, call you in 5”.  “No now” is his response.  I get that same deep, sickening pit in the bottom of my stomach.
“Are you sitting down?”  He doesn’t even have to say the words and I know what he’s gonna say next … “dad’s gone Tina”.  As I did only but 5 months earlier, I crumpled to the floor and cried in hysterics.  How the hell could this be happening?  Anger shot straight at God (then asking for His love).  I’m crying now, as I write this, I still think it’s not fair.  He had just retired, he had just started living his life, we were getting to spend more time with him then ever, we had Christmas plans … and he was only 60!  That morning, he got up to live his life and died on his kitchen floor … how was that even fair?

The rain’s gonna fall on us all
Your heart’s gonna break sometimes
But there’s no way around it, life’s full of mountains
You’re gonna have to climb
But there ain’t no crime in crying
You just gotta keep on trying
So remember, no matter what you’re going through
Tough times don’t last …

Tough people do – Brett Kissell

I try to take something positive out of something negative.  But in those months following dad’s passing, I couldn’t.  I still can’t.  There’s nothing positive about someone being taken from you way too soon when there are so many horrible, pathetic people in the world and someone who did nothing but contribute to society and was a solid individual’s was snuffed out.  When my father passed and my family struggled, I was more lost than I had ever been in my entire life.
Losing a loved one is a painful reminder that life is way. too. short!  Dad would want nothing more than for us to be happy — not the watered-down, half smile, day-to-day getting by content happy, but truly happy. I realize that my dad will never truly be gone. He is still here with me in spirit.  Now, instead of mourning his loss, I celebrate his life.  I miss him, I’ll always miss him and I think about him every single day.  I use this as motivation, as a reminder, to live my best life and that we can still make him proud from up there – that he wants us to live big.  I know he sees us, I know he hears us …. see blog titled “Messages from Beyond: How My Dad Connects With Me”.
I post this on the 3 year anniversary of my dad’s passing (Nov 18th).  Love and miss you ol’ man – til we meet again on Heaven’s highest hill xo
PS:  I’m not strong, my brother is 💙.  To go through what he did in such a short period of time and come out the other end is inspiring. Love ya’ bro xo
T xo

~ Life is short, love hard and love lots  ~ Tina (moi)


no dress rehearsal this is our life: the passing of canadian legend – Gord Downie 😭


‘We Are Less As A Country Without Gord Downie In It’ – Prime Minister Trudeau

I had to wait a few days to write this, I just watched the documentary Long Time Running two days ago … so I needed to collect my thoughts and emotions before I got to it.

I want the WORLD to get to know Canada’s musical secret – the man for whom an entire country mourned, for whom our Prime Minister publicly shed tears before caucus on Parliament Hill – a patriot who loved and sang about our great land – Gord Downie.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 7.25.59 PM

I am not going to lie – like most people I know and most Canadians across our vast country I cried when I found out Gord had succumbed to his illness on October 17, 2017. He put on such a brave front during the band’s final tour – Man Machine Poem – deciding to thank their fans after having undergone an extensive lobectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.   I was on my way to Philadelphia and was listening to Q107 (a Toronto rock station) and the DJ says “Q107 remembers Gord Downie” at the same time my youngest texts me saying “Gord Downie died”.  Ugh, say it ain’t so – I mean we all knew it was coming but hoped it wouldn’t be so soon.  Most of the way to Philly we listed to their tunes.

“First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light 
No dress rehearsal, this is our life” – Ahead By a Century

The first time I heard The Hip I was in grade 11 – someone was playing their Up to Here album. This album produced four singles, “Blow at High Dough”, “New Orleans Is Sinking”, “Boots or Hearts” and “38 Years Old”.  It was summer, we loved going to the beach or driving around in the car blaring our Hip tapes (yes tapes, I am that old).  That’s what their music means to me – it’s summers by the beach or at the cabin with cold pint belting out Courage or At the Hundredth Meridian.  My old Infiniti QX4 was even called Cordy – after their song Cordelia.  

I’ve never really understood why they weren’t bigger outside of Canada than they were.  But, here at home, in Canada, we got it – we knew they were our greatest treasure – they’re in our DNA –  so uniquely Canadian.

They’re my #1 fave band, even in front of U2 and The Killers!   I’ve seen them 3 times – At The Ovation Music Festival in Stratford in 2006.  The Fully Completely tour in Kitchener in 2015 and in Winnipeg last year during their “farewell’ tour – Man Machine Poem.

I was in complete shock when I found out that he had such a huge choice to make. “What would you prefer: living without being able to speak, or have new memories, but have more time with your family, or should we limit things and ultimately give you less time on Earth, but have higher quality?” He chose a full temporal lobectomy, which gave him a best case scenario of five years of survival.

He knew he had limited time left on this earth and instead of feeling sorry for himself, or spending all of his last minutes on earth with his dear family and friends, he chose to be the voice of our First Nations people and to go on one final tour to say thanks to a nation whose adored them since 1985.  I have to be honest, facing the  same situation and given the same choice, I’m not sure I would have made the same decision in his shoes.  But, as a nation – we’re sure damn glad he did.  Not only did he do that – he did  an entire solo album called The Secret Path and an accompanying animated film/and graphic novel about the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system here in Canada.  About Charlie Wenjack, a 12 year old Anishinaabe boy from the Marten Falls First Nation who died of exposure on October 22, 1966 while escaping from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ont.  He was trying to return to the family he was taken from over 600 kms away.  This was the final album he released during his lifetime.

Let’s swear that we will
Get with the times,
In a current health to stay
Let’s get friendship right
Get life day-to-day – It’s a Good Life if you Don’t Weaken


The final show in Kingston, Ont was a poignant farewell for the hometown heroes. So many people wanted to thank him that CBC decided to air a live broadcast called “The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration” it drew an average of 4.04 million viewers.  I can’t remember another time in history where a concert was aired live – well maybe except Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii.  But, that’s how much The Hip means to us.  

Kingston has a pretty small venue and tickets sold out in minutes.  I debated heading up to Kingston (about 2 hours away) to join the 20+ thousand other Canadians celebrating outside the Rogers K-Rock Centre.  Thousands of venues all across the land aired the concert LIVE (movie theatres, concert halls, pubs, public parks on big screens) and many of us were partying at home signing along.  I decided to stay in Toronto and go to the Danforth Music Hall to rock with about 1,500 other Hip fans.  It was quite the night – not one that I will soon forget.  

I challenged myself to narrow down my top 10 Hip songs – I wasn’t successful – I could only do 15 and even that was tough.

(in no particular order)

  1. Wheat Kings
  2. At the Hundreth Meridian
  3. It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken
  4. Dire Wolf
  5. Long Time Running
  6. Courage (For Hugh MacLennan)
  7. 50 Mission Cap
  8. Ahead By a Century
  9. Grace, Too
  10. Scared
  11. Pigeon Camera
  12. Poets
  13. In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
  14. Gift Shop
  15. Bobcaygeon


RIP “Gordy Baby”, we will miss you terribly – but we’ll always have your music.

If you’re at all feeling weepy – don’t listen to the part of the At The Hundredth Meridian where Gord sings If they bury me some place I don’t want to be, You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously Away from the swollen city breeze, garbage bag trees Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity And lower me slowly and sadly and properly Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy”

So, I’m curious – what are your top 5 Tragically Hip songs? I’d love to hear (ok 10 if you must) lol.


T xo

On Travel: Philly, The City of Brotherly Love

🎶 “In West Philadelphia not born nor raised, in Kdub is where I spent most of my days 🎶” — which is why I decided to take my next  trip to Philly.  I love to travel, I love history – all kinds of history and Philadelphia is steeped deep in American history.

The primary reason for our trip to Philly was to attend Team Neve Quits Patriot Tour, featuring Marcus Luttrell, Retired Navy SEAL and author of ‘Lone Survivor’, Taya Kyle, author of ‘American Wife’ and widow of Chris Kyle, David Goggins, Ultra-Marathoner and Retired Navy SEAL and Chad Fleming, Retired Army Ranger.

Since we only had one full day of being tourists/sight seeing – we decided on the Philadelphia Sightseeing Hop On/Hop Off City Tour aboard an English double-decker bus, which was wonderfully convenient – you don’t have to worry about getting there, parking and you can pick from any one of 28 stops across sixteen-miles – choose your ideal visitation spot and they will deliver you to the doorstep (or close to it).  The loop takes about 1.5 hours if you stay on for the whole loop, the tour guides were full of facts and funnies = Live Expert Local Guide Commentary.  We purchased these through Groupon for only $22.00 USD per ticket (reg price is $32.00 USD) – so keep an eye out on this site if you plan on booking.  

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 5.21.10 PM

Had we had more time we would have done more – but given the time we had we chose: to exit at Eastern State Penitentiary, The Rocky Steps/Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Masonic Temple and Independence Hall.  Having had more time I would likely have added: Christ Church Burial Ground (where Benjamin Franklin is buried), Chinatown and Museum of the American Revolution. 

Below I’ll highlight some of the stops.

Eastern State Penitentiary


Eastern State opened more than 180 years ago, it changed the world. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence in the hearts of prisoners. The building itself was an architectural wonder; it had running water and central heat before the White House, and attracted visitors from around the globe.  

In 1842 Charles Dickens visited the United States to see Niagara Falls and the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP). Of ESP he wrote “the System is rigid, strict and hopeless solitary confinement, and I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and wrong….”.  In my blog titled “Kingston Penitentiary: Canada’s Alcatraz – MY TOUR” you’ll see that Dickens also visited Kingston Penn in Ontario, Canada, the same year (likely the same trip to North America) and wrote in his American Notes for General Circulation, “There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect.” He went on: “Here at Kingston is a penitentiary, intelligently and humanely run. Likely because KP was built under the Auburn system – which took a completely different approach than the Pennsylvania system.  While it too incorporates Quaker ideals of reformation — humane conditions from bedding to health care, strict routines, and religious contemplation – prisoners are together, side by side, during work, meals, and prayer but return to solitary cells at night.  Auburn introduced the tier system, different levels of cells built above one another, in which convicts are housed according to their offense category — first timers vs. repeaters, murderers vs. thieves, and so forth. Inmates wear uniforms of different colours, depending on their classification. The work regimen produces income that the Pennsylvania system could not generate, and this system is by far more cost effective and practical. Inmates are less likely to go mad, and it is easier to feed everyone in a group.

ESP held both women and men until 1923 when female prisoners moved to the new  prison at Muncy. 

Until 1924 inmates ate each of their meals, alone in their cells.  For the first time in January inmates were allowed for the first time to eat as a group in dining halls.

For 8 months during 1929 – 1930 – Chicago gangster Al Capone made Eastern State Penitentiary his home. I read in an article in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 20, 1929 this his cell is described as  “The whole room was suffused in the glow of a desk lamp which stood on a polished desk …. On the once-grim walls of the penal chamber hung tasteful paintings, and the strains of a waltz were being emitted by a powerful cabinet radio receiver of handsome design and fine finish…” 

Capone was imprisoned when he stopped in Philadelphia while traveling from Atlantic City back to his home in Chicago in May of 1929. He was arrested outside a movie theater for carrying a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver. The Philadelphia courts were tough and handed Capone the maximum sentence: one year in prison. Although the courts tried to make an example of the bootlegger, the officials at ESP were very  generous to him and allowed the comforts not typically granted to inmates, including fine furniture, oriental rugs, oil paintings and a fancy radio. He liked to listen to waltzes in his cell. 

Now, I nerd out just by viewing a cool exhibit, but hearing one of your favorite actors describe it while you’re there is super cool nerd exciting!  Steve Buscemi is the voice of the audio ESP audio tour  –  turns out Buscemi himself volunteered to help the museum while scouting a movie at Eastern State more than a decade ago. The audio tour states that perhaps Capone’s arrest was all too convenient as it came at a time of escalating mob violence in Chicago, he was accused of hiding in prison intentionally. Capone denied all his life that he came to Philadelphia to hide. 

Other fun facts:

  • 1970 January – Eastern State Penitentiary closes.
  • 1996 Eastern State’s arched cellblocks and central rotunda are transformed into a mental institution in the movie 12 Monkeys, with Bruce Willis and in 1998 is portrayed as a Southeast Asian prison in the movie Return to Paradise.

Rocky Steps/Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Rocky Steps are the 72 stone steps to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Pretty much everyone knows the Rocky movies, they’re a part of pop culture and a huge part of my childhood.  The steps made their appearance in all of the Rockies except for Rocky IV, which is my personal favourite.  Many tourists visit the steps to recreate the scene themselves – I however did not – I walked up them, slowly 😂

“Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” – Rocky Balboa

Photo: Eat your heart out Rocky Balboa, I walked up then in 10 minutes.

Fun fact:  Sly was actually injured when filming this movie, he only ran up the first 10 steps; a body double ran up the rest.

Stallone commissioned a bronze statue of Rocky.  The statue was initially at the of steps for the filming of Rocky III,  but was ultimately relocated at the bottom of the steps. I look bad in the pic, so I’m opting to not post it.

The Masonic Temple

I’ve always been fascinated by the Freemasons – I’ve watched so many documentaries on their origins and their society of brethren.

6 of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were Masons.  US Presidents who were or are Freemasons: George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford.

Other notables include: Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Mozart, Winston Churchill, J. Edgar Hoover, Jesse Jackson, John Elway, Benedict Arnold, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Scottie Pippen, Michael Richards, Shaquille O’Neal, Paul Revere, Cy Young, John Wayne, Richard Pryor, Clarke Gable, Don Rickles, Harry Houdini and Buzz Aldrin  — to name a few.

Masonic symbolism is abundant all over Washington D.C.  If you look at the layout of Washington DC you will see many Masonic references.

The Masonic Temple in Philadelphia was constructed in 1873. Tours are offered a few times a day,  so they have to be scheduled.  We weren’t aware of that and arrived an hour early, since we were tight for time, we toured the Library and Museum on our own (cost $7.00 USD).  The museum houses thousands of books and cool artifacts relating to the history of the Fraternity and the founding of the USA. The Museum’s collection consists of more than 30,000 items.

Photo: Brother George Washington’s Masonic Apron

Along the whole double decker bus ride, you have the opportunity to take in the historic sites of Philly without getting off, as well as hear some colour commentary from the tour guides such as their favourite places in town to grab a cheesesteak and other places to check out while you’re in town. 

I’m a health nut, but when I eat, I go hard. I’m a Buffalo wing magnet, a sandwich fanatic, a cheesesteak guy. But I’ll only get a cheesesteak in Philadelphia. No one else does it right – Kevin Hart

Independence Hall 

This is the start/stop point of the city tour.  Both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed in this historic building. We wanted to see The Liberty Bell before ending our day tour, but, there was a line up, and a security line to go through so unfortunately we had to opt out as we had to be at our VIP event for The Patriot Tour for 5:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Centre.


2017 Patriot Tour

The event we made the 9 hour trek to Philly for was The 2017 Patriot Tour  – which features retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of ‘Lone Survivor’, the NY Times Bestseller, which recounts the heroic sacrifices of fellow SEAL Team members assigned to Operation Redwings in which Luttrell was the only survivor, Taya Kyle, author of ‘American Wife’ and wife of the late U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle, retired U.S. Army Capt. Chad Fleming and retired Navy SEAL and ultra-marathon runner David Goggins. 

Beforehand, we were able to have a quick meet and greet with the speakers – it was great to meet them in person and shake their hands.  Taya and I talked shoes/boots quickly and even Chad loved my Steve Madden Tsunami rain boots.  I’ll have to find the pic where I’m shaking Marcus’ hand and Chad and Taya are pointing at my boots.  We were also given signed copies of Lone Survivor and American Wife.

These humans were the most inspirational folks I’ve heard speak in a long time.  Talk about sheer grit, determination and sticktuitiveness.  These amazing people share their experiences with the crowd while also taking the time to recognize military personnel in attendance as well as the first responders – everyone in attendance stood in applause – this made my eyes swell up a bit.  

They each had something poignant to say.  

IMG_0325.jpgTaya Kyle shared that her faith in God got her through Chris being murdered. She recounted the story of how they met – which was very true to the movie script of American Sniper.  She jokes about the day they met in the bar and that yes, Chris did in fact hold her hair back while she vomitted.  About how she works to keep his memory alive, how humble he was that it made him feel awkward that he was referred to as The Legend.  

IMG_0324.jpgChad Fleming shared the story of how he lost his leg (transtibial amputation of his left leg) in combat and had undergone 23 surgeries!  I was in awe that once fit, he CHOSE to re-deploy five times, each time going right back into the fight. He spoke of how he was one of the few amputees who have been able to redeploy into combat as an amputee.  If that isn’t strength of character then I don’t know what is!

David Goggins – the word quit does not exist in this guy’s vocabulary.  I was astonished by IMG_0338.jpghis resilience and sheer grit to make it happen.  He told of how he was 297 lbs and needed to lose 100 lbs in a month to be able to join.  He did it.  He had to redo BUD/S training THREE TIMES! I can’t imaging doing it once, more or less going through hell week 3 whole times!  He told of having signed up for a 100 mile race in 24 hours, having only ran once for training – by mile (I want to say 75, shoot I forget) – his body was so exhausted he sat down to take a rest and his body gave out – he couldn’t go any further – his feet hurt so much that he couldn’t even get up from his blue chair to go to the washroom (he doo dooed himself).  Not wanting to give up on his dream – he taped his feet, got up and ran the remaining miles to successfully complete the race!  In 2013, Goggins broke the Guinness World Record for most number of pull-ups in a 24-hour period by completing 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. 

And lastly, the man of the hour – Marcus Luttrell – I am sure this man needs no introduction.  We all know his story from the movie Lone Survivor.  Watching the movie was good, but, seeing the REAL man behind the story in person and speak personally of  Operation Red Wings and the mission to kill or capture Ahmad Shah (aka Mohammad Ismail), a Taliban leader responsible for killings in eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu-Kush mountains. The SEAL team was made up of Luttrell, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz and Matthew Axelson.  I won’t get too deep, I’m sure you’ve all watched the Hollywood movie, in which Marcus is played by Mark Walhberg, and if you haven’t – go. watch. it now.


In short: a group of goat herders stumbled upon the SEALs, and the four SEALs immediately took control of the situation and discussed what to do with the herders. Murph suggested that they should be released. Luttrell believed they immediately betrayed the team’s location to local Taliban forces and within an hour, the SEALs were engaged in an intense gun battle – which he describes as being 3 hours in duration in real life as opposed to 40 mins or so in the movie. The rest of the SEAL team members were killed.  He told of how some scenes in the Hollywood version differed from real life events – in actuality Matt Axelson was not shot in the back of the head – he was shot in the face and his jaw was hanging from his face. Marcus was the “Lone Survivor”. Badly wounded (his back, leg and nose were broken and he was shot a few times), he managed to walk and crawl seven miles to evade capture – he tells that he kept his goals short – he would take a stone draw a line in the sand and crawl to it, if he made it, he’d keep on going. Most of the time he recounted these events, he looked down and to the right – like he was reliving it right there at that moment with us.  He was eventually found by a few villagers.  For days Mohammed Gulab and the other villagers protected Luttrell from the militants—even in the face death threats. They alerted the Americans of his presence, and American forces finally rescued him six days after the gun battle.  Another misnomer from the movie was that the rescue occurred during the day, but in actuality it was at night. Following his physical recovery from Operation Red Wings, Luttrell returned and completed one more tour before being medically retired.


Overall, Philly is a pretty neat city, I wish we had more time to explore, lots of historic things I would have liked to have had the time to fit in i.e. explore Penn’s Landing, enjoy fine dining aboard the Moshulu, tour the Cruiser Olympia and done a boat cruise up the Delaware.  

Of note for those considering visiting – parking is atrocious – I am not kidding – the streets are full 24/7 – good luck finding street parking anywhere – unless you stalk someone going to their vehicle.  It’s beyond jammed – both sides of the tiny narrow streets – I would HATE to be a homeowner and have to do this each night when I get home from work.  Also in the area we stayed in – there weren’t a lot of public parking options and if there were – they were all full.  Our first night – we arrived at about 8:45 PM and we had to park all the way at the University of Pennsylvania parking garage and take a taxi to our Airbnb! (FYI – taxi number is 215-666-6666)

Make very sure you read the street parking signs if you are lucky enough to nab a spot – most are 2 hour max parking without a permit – from what we were able to find – you cannot purchase time selected permits – we can do this back home in Toronto by simply going on line – entering your plate # and your credit card info and printing off a parking permit for the time you need.  

I now 100% completely understand why the A&E show Parkings Wars was a hit – holy snickerdoodles!

Have any of you been to the City of Brotherly Love?  What was your favourite place?


T xo


Your Perception is Your Reality

IMG_2935 2A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called Wisdom Warrior: My Journey Toward Authenticy wherein I talked about perception, about reframing your mindset. “Perspective is a powerful thing isn’t it? When you can reframe an experience, you can often change what happens as a result”.  

Have you ever wondered about how you perceive yourself vs. how others perceive you? How you view yourself as being a certain way, but, someone else can see you as the total opposite?

I’ve heard it said that perception is reality, but is it?  Perception may be your reality but is it FACTUAL reality?

Reality is an absolute.  But perception is different from reality, in that everyone has their own perception of the world or situations. Everyone thinks their perception is reality. But in fact, your perception is your perception.  BUT, perception really is everything!

Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.” – Douglas Adams

Ok, that was confusing right?  But true, I think.  I have no formal experience in philosophy or psychology,  I’ve just been making some observations as of late because of how someone chose to view me, which I feel is quite different than I am or how I view myself.

This person accused me of being  “selfish”.  Me selfish?  Am I selfish?  I don’t feel that I am … I help whenever possible.  It hurt to hear this, when I feel that I really do try my best to be everything to everyone.  Ok, to be honest – I may do it begrudgingly from time to time but I still do it when push comes to shove.  I usually try to have everyone’s back.

So, I started thinking of the things that I’ve done to “HELP”, to justify this person’s words to me – it hurt to think that someone thought of me like this …

  • I’ve helped by lending ++++ money,  to the point that I am literarily out thousands of $ with no hope of getting some of it back.
  • I’ve carried the financial burden when my then fiancé was unemployed for a long stretch.
  • I’ve helped my children and family out in sticky situations by co-signing on lease agreements OR lending them my credit card to purchase things (they pay be back, but the point is, I help them cause they don’t have their own cards).
  • I’ve helped my brother through some health issues.
  • I’ve let people stay with us while they were having family issues.
  • I’ve watched peoples dogs when they needed me to.
  • If my friends need anything I help, when possible.
  • I help out colleagues at work with their files, or when management asks to assist on a project etc.
  • I adopted a rescue dog from the shelter.
  • I adopted a sponsor child in Kenya.

I don’t see myself as selfish – but this individual does … so, who’s right and who’s wrong?  Which is factual?  I think based on the facts, I’m not generally a selfish person – but then why does this person?  Is this person’s view of the world tarnished?  Are they projecting that on me?

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 10.04.48 PM.png

The lens through which we view the world, alters our REALITY.  It is ourselves who supply the perceptions and build our beliefs with them. We often don’t realize how our perceptions cloud reality, because they seem like one and the same.

So, I did a bit of digging on perception = projection and found that there was some validity to what I was assuming – you’re not so much perceiving the external world as you are projecting what you carry inside out onto the world around you. The world is a reflection of your inner thoughts, feelings, values, beliefs. In other words, the outer world is a reflection of what’s going on inside (Five Basic Assumptions: Perception Is Projection posted on July 17, 2012). B-I-N-G-O!!

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

Maybe this individual is simply projecting the perception of his inner world onto me.  But, it also helped me to realize that we are only seeing the world through our own individual perceptions because that’s all we’re ever really able to do – when there’s a constant reminder that all I’m doing is perceiving the world my way, not the real way, just my way, then I can have empathy for others – there’s a gap between perception and reality (paraphrased from Mind the Gap Between Perception and Reality | Sean Tiffee | TEDxLSCTomball).

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 5.05.39 PM

Has anyone else had any experience with others perception of you?


T xo


Opting on Adopting: Our Rescue Dog Ellie

Did you know that each year at least 600,000 dogs are euthanized in Canada,  simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet?

I decided to write this blog as I sat here watching a bit of TV and looked over at Ellie, my 3 year old Great Shepherd (Great Dane/German Shepherd cross). She was rescued 2 years ago from Parkland Humane Society Parkland Humane Society.

Being new to town and a semi-empty nester, I had some free time on my hands and decided that I wanted to volunteer some to the shelter.  I went in to dog-walk one Fall afternoon, much like today.  All of the dogs were excited to see me, running up to me, wagging their tails and jumping up vying for my attention.  But, there was this one dog, in the corner – alone and cowering a bit.  I asked a volunteer who that dog was and why she wasn’t coming up to me as all of the other dogs were.  She explained that that dog was skittish, shy and it took a lot to get her to warm up to you.  She was afraid of men in particular and had been there for almost 7 months.  It was right then and there I decided to adopt THAT ONE – Ellie.  Of course I did!  I seem to be a sucker for the runt of the litter, the project or the one that runs away from me as opposed to runs to me.

Every day for 1 whole month, we went to the shelter and walked Ellie, we tried to get to know her.  I won’t lie – in the beginning it was a chore just to get her to come to me so I could put her on the leash.  But I was persistent … eventually she started recognizing us when we came to the gate and rather than run away – sat and stayed put – she didn’t run up to us, but she didn’t run away – PROGRESS!   We kept the walks to the same location and took the same route so that it was familiar to her and eventually she loosened up.  She loved going to Vermillion Park – splashing in the river and walking down the trails.

The day it came to pick her up from the shelter to take her to her new home she wouldn’t even get into the back of the SUV, we literally had to pick up this 100 lbs beast and put her in.  What had I gotten myself into?  We bought her a kuranda bed because that’s what she used at the shelter and wanted things to be familiar for her, we got her the same toys she had there, a cute Burberry print collar and the cutest paw print bowls to make her feel welcomed.  She repaid me the next day by running away from me during our VERY FIRST morning walk!  OMG, I lost my dog the first day I owned her – what kind of owner am I?  I can remember it so clearly, we were coming around the corner to our house and she stopped dead in her tracks – she backed up and pulled – like it was in slo mo I can see her struggling to get out of her collar.  Once she realized she was free she bolted.  I hopped in the SUV and drove around looking for her calling her name – wait – she’d just run away from me – why would I think that she’d run back to me?  I called the shelter to let them know – they were wonderful and reassured me that this wasn’t the first time that newly adopted dog ran away from its home.  I was afraid she’d get hit by a car or worse, a train.  As we continued our search for Ellie, the shelter called – she had run back to the shelter – her home, according to her 😢.

She was abused by her previous owner for apparently attacking a chicken as a puppy (she lived on a farm), I was told the whole litter was surrendered and Ellie was the last one there because she was far too shy and too big.  She was very reluctant around men, even more so with men with ball caps.  She’d been at the shelter nearly 7 months when were adopted her.  She didn’t do typical dog like things like play fetch or chew on sticks.

Fast forward 2 years – NO REGRETS, NONE!  She’s the sweetest, most gentle, docile dog and she keeps getting better every day.  She’s much more relaxed but is still skittish around certain people.  She still gets scared if you’re carrying something that even remotely resembles a stick.  But, she obeys commands, I can walk her downtown at night time without a leash and she stays right beside me.  She now loves chewing on sticks and she’s mimicked other dogs by playing fetch.  She’s brought so much joy to our lives … I know for a matter of fact, that had we not taken the chance with Ellie- she’d either still be at the shelter or have been euthanized – her odds of being adopted weren’t as good as some more outgoing, small dogs.

If you’re considering adopting a dog in the near future – consider adopting a rescue dog for the following reasons:

  1. You’ll save a life – see stats above!
  2. You’ll get a great dog – most folks surrender their puppies because of family situations – a new baby, a divorce, a move – not because there’s anything wrong with the animal.
  3. It’s less expensive – when I bought my first dog, I had to pay to have him neutered and vaccinated etc, these fees are included in the adoption fee – in Dauphin you pay less for large breed dogs
  4. You save other dogs –  the more dogs who are adopted out of the shelter and into loving homes – the more room there is for incoming dogs – you are giving more animals a second chance
  5. Because you’ll change a homeless dog’s whole world!  



T xo

On Travel: My Japanese Experience


こんにちは - Kon'nichiwa

Welcome to my first blog exclusively on travel.  I love traveling, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Mexico (4x), Cuba, Dominican Republic (5x), Aruba, Las Vegas (4x), NYC (2x), Mount Rushmore, Vancouver Island and many other places – but I’ve yet to have been overseas.  So this was a first!

Life can be so complicated at times can’t it?  My life in particular has been nutty as of late …  but at the spur of the moment, I made a decision – we all have choices and decisions to make each day of our lives in the betterment of ourselves, our lives, our spirituality and for our own personal growth.  So, I decided last minute to go and visit my friends Linda and Mark in Japan! They had moved there just 3 months ago for Mark’s work project with Honda.

It was late night, I texted Linda “Hi! How are you?  Saw your pics!  Looks like you guys are having a good vacay with Mark.  I have a few more wks before I have to go back to work.  Up for some company maybe?”

Linda and I have been friends since high school at St. Mary’s – initially an all catholic girls high school and then went co-ed in grade 10.  I loved being part of their “porto” group – I was accepted at as a quasi-porto (right Dill?).  The memories of being in high school — of sleeping over at her house and waking up to her mom and tias making Portuguese food (some of my faves – Rissóis and col verde) – that’s where my love of Portuguese food started – thank you Rosa!  We lost touch for a number of years mostly because our lives took us in different directions.  I had a baby at 19 and while I cared for her, most of my friends were out and about living average 19 year old lives (which is completely understandable).  We reconnected a few years ago and have been tight since … probably more than ever.  In any event, Linda and Mark said yes and their kids were excited to see me (and I them).

Day 1:

Travel Day
– I flew coach from Pearson International (Toronto) to Narita, which is the furthest airport from 21192631_10155474725600168_1545996121699494346_nTokyo centre, so, if you’re traveling into and/or are staying right in Tokyo, you may want to fly into a closer airport (flying into Narita was the cheapest option for me at $1080.00 CDN – return).  However if not, taking the train into Tokyo Station is very easy  – I managed it solo (you can also take a bus which takes longer than the 53 mins by train).  Most people at the stations speak English. The flight was 12h55 mins, and thankfully the flight wasn’t sold out – so I asked the flight attendant for a row without anyone in it and was able to sprawl out – but I didn’t sleep – I’m not the best of sleepers on flights.  It was smooth and uneventful, hardly any turbulence at all.  The time seemed to fly by (no pun intended) and the next thing I knew I was at Narita on the Narita Express (Nex) to Tokyo Station to meet up with Mark – this is gonna be quite an experience!

Mark met me on my platform and we hopped on the train to Masashi-Sakai to their IMG_1382.jpghouse.  They live in Mitaka Osawa, a suburb of Tokyo. I was pretty pumped to see Linda and the kids – these kids are the cutest things I’ve ever seen (other than my own of course). Their house was bigger and more modern than I had expected for Tokyo to be honest.   A 2016 United Nations estimate puts the total population Greater Tokyo Area at 38,000,000. It covers an area of approximately 13,500 km². It’s the second largest single metropolitan area in the world, only behind New York City.  So as you can imagine land is limited and at a premium.  Homes are typically small and inside space is tight – their house had an ingenious toilet/sink combo to maximize space (this Japanese toilet only dispenses water in its attached sink when the toilet gets flushed.  You wash your hands and that water goes into the tank to be reused and flushed – brilliant!). They have storage in the floors and in the pulldown attics. What surprised me compared to most typical homes I saw is that they had green space in their yard (i.e. they actually had a side yard with grass).


Day 2:

Mount Fuji (Fujisan) – Jet lag is pretty rough! I’ve never experienced hard core jet lag before, prior to this the biggest time difference was only 3 hours.  My travel day commenced at 7:30 EST and went to bed 2:00 AM Japan time – so I was awake for an insane for 30 hours STRAIGHT!  Unfortunately, my body wanted to wake up after only 4 hours of rest, so, while everyone else – including the kids, were still sleeping – I got up and ate an entire plate of rice and shrimp lol.  When the kids got up we walked up to McDonald’s (yes, McDonald’s!) for a Filet o’ Fish – so sadly I suppose that was my actual first Japanese experience.  What can I say, my body was telling me it was still nighttime – and yes, you can get Filet o’ Fish on the breakfast menu there and yes,  I am aware I’m one of the very few who actually eat them 🙄.

For my first full day in Japan, we decided to hit up Mount Fuji! Mount Fuji is a distinctive feature of the geography of Japan.  Fuji-san is the highest mountain in Japan at 12,389 ft. It’s an active volcano which last erupted in abt 1707/08.  She lies about 100 kms south-west of Tokyo.  It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013. According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”.


We went up to the 5th station, which is at 2,305 metres. Check-in at the base of Fuji called for sunny skies, but it was not so.  The weather on Fuji-san is volatile and changes by the minute.  It can be clear one minute and the clouds can roll in the other minute totally obscuring your view.  The weather Gods were not with us this day, we never saw the summit.  It was only 8 degrees celsius.

We took the scenic route home and drove through the mountain ranges and some of the The Fuji Five Lakes at the northern base of Mount Fuji at about 1000 meters above sea level.  We stopped at Lake Yamanaka (山中湖) to take in the sunset and breathtaking views of Mr. Fuji, even though she was still partially obstructed by cloud cover.


Day 3: 

Shopping Day – Today was a shopping kind of day. We went to GU – this clothing chain is part of the Uniqlo brand – but cheaper – you’ll often see both stores side by side.  Not much for me there and a little too fashion forward and frumpy for my liking (it would def. be more for the younger generation). We also went to Uniqlo outside of Musashi-Sakai Station since I hadn’t even been to the one in Toronto.   I ended up finding a fab end of season dress for only ¥995!

Later that day, I was introduced to Tonkatsu for lunch. It’s a Japanese dish which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet and is often served with shredded cabbage, rice and miso soup. Super yummy!


I accompanied Linda in picking up some groceries at Ito-Yokado. I wanted to experience what a Japanese grocery chain looked like, the different food selections and the similarities.  What I found interesting was that Seven-Eleven Japan is held by the Seven & I Holdings Co. We all know 7-11 as our local convenient corner stores, what I did not know is that 7-11 is part Japanese and they have FULL grocery stores in Japan.


Afterward we went shopping at an awesome second hand store (most of which was 100% name brand items).  The store had the worst of names “Hard Off”.   At first I thought it was because those who shopped there may have been “hard off” but when I saw a store called Book Off I was thoroughly confused.  Anyway, despite the horrible name I managed to pick up a Burberry scarf & Ralph Lauren pencil skirt as well as a Yukata (a casual summer kimono) and obi for the upcoming Fall Festival later in the week in Shinjuku.

Day 4:  

Shinjuku –  What a great day for a completely unplanned one! Linda and I spent the day exploring near Shinjuku Station.  We went to Shinjuku Goyen National Garden, a gorgeous garden space in the middle of this bustling city.  The garden, which is 58.3 hectares, blends three distinct styles: a French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese traditional. A traditional Japanese tea house can be found within the gardens.  We visited Kyu Goryotei (also referred to as the Taiwan Pavilion) which was built on the occasion of the wedding of the Showa Emperor.


Afterward we decided to go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where we went up to the 45th floor north observatory and took in the landscape city views.  Of note, this government building is currently on “high alert” due to the ballistic missiles being launched over Japan and into the Sea of Japan by Kim Jong-un, North Korean Leader who seems to be begging for war.  Despite that, we enjoyed a drink and had some good chats.


Lucas and I went for a bike ride in the International Christian College grounds, where I got to ride a traditional Japanese bike (thank you Sofia).   I have to say, Tokyo has much more green space than I ever thought it would.  Knowing I’m a fan of curried foods, Linda made an excellent dinner of Japanese curry.  Japanese curry is a lot less spicy than Indian curry and is fairly sweet in comparison.


Day 5:

Kichijōji  – Rainy day today. We went into Kichijōji, a fashionable neighbourhood in Mitaka City in the western suburbs of Tokyo.  It is almost always at the top of surveys of the most desirable places to live in Tokyo.  We checked out where the festival we are going to this weekend is going to be held, shopped a bit, had lunch at Crown House (a North American locale) and of course had a couple of yummy sangrias.  Cheers to friendship !


Day 6:

Sensō-ji Temple: My first week here in Japan with the Middlestedt’s is nearly done. Today Linda and I went to Asakusa to visit Sensō-ji (浅草寺), the oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan. It is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and popular temples.  The legend is that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensō-ji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo’s oldest temple.

We walked around town taking in the mixture of huge tourist spots and the normalcy of everyday life there. Even though it rained, it didn’t put a damper on this most spectacular of days.



Day 7:

Harujuku: We went down the famous I竹下通り Takeshita-dōri in Harujuku.  We were in search of some Harujuku girls and saw maybe only 2. For lunch I tried a Japanese version of a cheeseburger combo.  The meat was good but didn’t taste like typical North American burger/beef, it tasted like it had spice to it and almost tasted pork like – but was good, it felt lighter.  The fries tasted very much like home, the combo came with a side of fried chicken and a cheese powder, which I assume was for the fries – it tasted like Kraft Dinner powder. The Pepsi was Pepsi Nex which I found to be super sweet – do we even have this back home?


Fish Pedicure: We scooted over to Shinjuku by subway so that Lucas and I could have a fish pedicure aka Dr. Fish.  I was excited to try this as I had heard so much about it.  We soaked our feet in tanks of hungry Garra rufa fish.  The small, toothless fish gently ate the dead skin and left the healthy skin untouched.  For ¥1050 , it was worth the experience – but if you’re wanting an actual pedicure – pay for the real thing.


Day 8:

Awesome day:  This was a super awesome jam packed day. We started our day off at the Kichijoji Aki Matsuri (Autumn Festival), which was taking place on September 9 & 10 2017.  I was excited to fully partake and immerse myself into the Japanese culture and along with Linda and Sofia wore a traditional Japanese Yukata.  The main event is the procession of mikoshi, the ornate palanquins which transport the kami on their journeys through the shopping streets of Kichijoji.  In addition to the mikoshi from Musashino Hachimangu, ten others from the district, each with its own team, join in the festivities. Each team has its own unique rhythm and chant. Teams of mikoshi bearers suit up in traditional costume and prepare to march. Bearers take turns carrying the weight of the mikoshi.


Next stop:  Odaiba/ Tokyo Bay –  We took the Yurikamome rapid transit train across the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba (お台場) – which is a large island in Tokyo Bay.  Odaiba is  a mixture of major commercial, residential and leisure – it would be fabulous to be able to live in this area, there’s so much going on! We walked along the beach, dipped our feet in the bay, and watched the gorgeous sunset over Tokyo Bay.

They also have a replica of the Statue of Liberty which I found to be odd, given that while we were in Shinjuku Goyen I saw a replica of the Empire State Building and that the Rainbow Bridge bore a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, USA.  Having been to the Statue of Liberty in NYC, this paled in comparison – actually there is no comparison, but, I had a bit more of an appreciation once I understood the reason for it.  The French Statue of Liberty from the Île aux Cygnes came to Odaiba from April 1998 to May 1999 in commemoration of “The French year in Japan”, because of its popularity, in 2000 a replica of the French Statue of Liberty was erected at the same place.


Staying in Odaiba, we dined at the Aqua City shopping centre (literally there are so many restaurants in all prices ranges in this centre to choose from).  We were looking for an izakaya (a type of informal Japanese gastropub) but we couldn’t find one nearby so we changed our pallets minds and decided to enjoyed the most mouth watering Indian dinner at Mumbai restaurant overlooking Tokyo Bay.  The butter chicken I had was sweeter than I’m accustomed to, but paired nicely with garlic naan, and a glass of sparkling white wine.


From there we headed to Shibuya (right in the heart of Tokyo) to check out the night life, 21371203_10155505770880168_3869120914787479968_n-1the night lights and of course the Shibuya Pedestrian Scramble.  Located in front of the Shibuya Station Hachikō exit and rumoured to be the busiest intersection in the world (definitely in Japan), Shibuya Crossing, is just as the name eludes to – a giant scramble to get across the intersection before every light change. Hundreds of people – and at peak times I’m sure to be over 1000 people – cross at a time, coming from all directions!

Day 9:

Sumo!:  Today was all about the sumo wrestling – 1000%. What an amazing experience!  Sumo Wrestling is the national sport of Japan and compared with most sports in the world today, sumo originated a heck of a long time ago, about 1,500 years. The rules are simple: the wrestler who first exits the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body besides the soles of his feet loses. A contest usually lasts only a few seconds.  I found it shocking that there are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning that wrestlers can easily find themselves matched off against someone many times their size.

We attended Kokugikan, the sumo stadium in the Ryogoku district, where tournaments are held.  We attended the 1st day of this particular Fall tournament, each tournament lasts for 15 days.  After a few chūhais and high balls Mark and I decided to wager on a few bouts.  Having no knowledge of these Gods of their sport or their records we chose simply based on their pre-match ritual, size and the colour of their mawashi (loin cloth).  I lost 26-15.


Day 10:  

Relaxation day, spent some time watching some docs and Gilmore Girls. Felt a cold coming on, nooooooooo!!!!

Day 11:

Is it ever hard to calm your mind, especially when you feel your getting sick!?!?!  On the morning of my departure from the most respectful, quiet and kind culture, Linda and I spent the morning being trained by a traditional Japanese Monk on the art of Zazen meditation.  Zen meditation is a very simple method of meditation, where the correct posture is imperative, most of our session focussed mainly on the importance of posture.  Zazen is practiced sitting on a zafu (a thick and round cushion). The purpose of this cushion is to elevate the hips, thus forcing the knees to be firmly rooted to the floor – this is very important. This way, your Zazen will be a lot more stable and comfortable.

Zazen is like water in a glass. Leave the water to sit quietly and soon the dirt will sink down –  Taisen Deshimaru

In Zen, the eyes are kept open during meditation. This prevents the you from daydreaming or becoming drowsy, this was a change for me as I have always mediated with my eyes closed.  Your hands are held in the Hokkaijoin (circle with fingers and thumbs barely touching). There are two reasons for this hand position, the Monk explained.  First, the shape of the hands harmonizes our minds. Secondly, if your mind starts to wonder elsewhere else, the shape of this oval becomes distorted and you can correct yourself (realign your posture and your mind).  The bell wrung 3x and we commenced zazen, after 14 mins zasen meditation was completed. Typically is lasts 40 mins, but since we were beginners and we required a tutorial – he recommended 14 mins to start.  To do this in a traditional Buddhist temple was a memory of a lifetime.


After my most enjoyable, peaceful morning of meditation – I was off to Shinjuku to catch my Nex train back to Narita airport to commence my 12 hour journey back to Canada.

On departure from Narita, I did however, catch a gorgeous sunset view of Mount Fuji ….


A most heartfelt thank you to my gracious hosts Linda and Mark (and the kids) for opening your home and your hearts to me during this most unreal experience!  I look forward to returning next year …. I’m already thinking of next places to visit on my return — Nagano, Hiroshima, Okinawa, Nagasaki???

Have any of you been to Japan?  Where are some places you’d recommend for my next journey?

また近いうちにお会いしましょう - Mata chikaiuchini o ai shimashou

(see you soon)

T xo