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Within the walls of Windsor

Windsor Castle--the Royal Collection Trust states that it is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Today it was on show in all of its beauty and glory, its walls witness to a love story that makes us believe in happy endings. Today Prince Harry and his beautiful beloved Meghan got married amid pomp and pageantry that felt like an elegant party rather than formal ceremony. It was worth every hour of lost sleep to watch with a breathless world as the first guests arrived, perfectly coifed and dressed, and imagine the feeling of really being there when even from afar we felt such anticipation and excitement. 

As I watched the wedding from Canada, my brother, Rob, was doing the same in England and both of us were thinking of another time in the history of the castle, 70 years ago. 

In 1947 my father, Chris Cater, was in the Grenadier Guards and stationed at Caterham Barracks. One day when off duty, he met a 21-year-old Dutch girl, who would one day be my mother, at Speaker…
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Just Listen

"Mom," said Brenda a couple of months ago, "I want to place an order for 50 strawberry tarts."  I have a small pie business, and the tarts were for a special lunch at the school where she works.

"No, problem," I said--she didn't need the tarts for several weeks. Brenda is well-organised and always plans ahead. I am not entirely as organised as she.

However, as the delivery date (a.k.a. the "nick of time") approached, I found the perfect recipe. The process involved was a little more complicated than I'd anticipated, and I was surprised at the weight of strawberries needed for the recipe, which was for only 6 tarts and would have to be multiplied many times. And I would need to buy tartlet tins.

Getting tartlet tins on short notice proved to be impossible. I checked first on Amazon. Although I found the perfect tins there, they would not arrive in time. A local store that promised to carry the tins had them-- but only two! I was grateful…

Boundaries and Bonds

Almost three years ago, on the first Sunday of my "retired life," I left the church after morning service giddy with newfound freedom. Instead of turning left, from the church driveway, to go straight home, as usual, I decided to turn right, drive to the nearby village and visit my mother-in-law, whom I love.

I found her in her backyard, sitting on a garden swing, beneath a canopy that shaded her from the August sun. She loves to be out in the fresh air and loves to garden. Undeterred by the fact that her knees hurt and her leg may "give way" at any moment, she will strategize as though planning a complex military operation, and somehow accomplish the goal she has in mind. In between these manoeuvres, she will stop until she regains energy for the next onslaught.

That afternoon, we sat for a couple of pleasant hours in the sun. Around us, insects buzzed, birds sang, the breeze played with our hair as the canvas canopy over our heads flapped--and we talked--and talked…

The Quest for Balance

Mid-April, snowbound, churches closed, flights cancelled--spring in Canada!
Weather alerts said this would be a historic storm and warned against unnecessary travel--freezing rain already had wreaked havoc with hydro wires and highways.

It had been an unusually busy week and a Sunday at home felt like a gift. I poured a steaming cup of black coffee, found my favourite chair, and by the flickeringlight of a candle, embraced the time to reflect.

Prompted by recent conversations with a few friends, I found myself thinking about balance, i.e. the fine line that so many of us struggle with--between being "useful" and "used up"--between success and being a victim of one's success.


Paul and I are retired so you would think that this struggle is behind us--but not so much! It was Aristotle who said, "Nature abhors a vacuum," and this does indeed seem true if we leave the filling of available time to chance.

By default, our time will be taken up and we may find our…

Identity Reclaimed

For today's sunshine--so gorgeous, life-bringing and joyous! This was the morning entry in my gratitude journal: April 23, 2018

I had no idea that the day would bring horror and devastation. The very sunshine I had rejoiced in, brought others to a Toronto street on which they met death or injury through a deliberate act. Countless others would be deeply affected by what they witnessed.

Early the morning after, I stepped from a Go-Train into Toronto's Union Station.  From there I got on a subway train going north to Sheppard East, where I had a meeting to attend. An announcement that would repeat throughout the day, reminded travellers that there would be no stop that day at  NorthYork Centre due to a police investigation. There was no need for further explanation. Heaviness hung in the air, but in sharp contrast, smiling and helpful employees stood ready to help direct the public.

I sat to the right of two men who stood talking, one middle-aged, the other young. Just before t…

Angels Don't Always Wear White

"Glad-eyes," that's what he has, Molson, this friend of mine with golden hair and lolling tongue.

We run from the house into the evening air, his nails tap-tap-tap-tapping lightly on the pavement as my feet thud-thud beside him.
He dances with exuberant joy at being "out." Jumping high, he catches his red leash in his mouth and tugs me along; pulling it as if he is playing a joke, pretending that it is he taking me for the walk, which is probably true. He is so HAPPY and he communicates that with every fibre of his being and glance of his glad eyes.

The first rush of excitement settles and he trots forward with focus, pacing his trot perfectly to my stride. He is a gentleman of a dog, disciplined and well bred.

He reads the ground with his nose, as avidly as my father used to read the newspaper, and leaves messages behind for others who will follow. He looks as if he is about very serious business. I don't hurry him; it seems a small thing to wait when he is su…

Searching for Christmas

I wrote this seven years ago and Molson has aged since that long ago walk on a sweltering August day. This will be his last Christmas unless there is some special dispensation for the most faithful of dogs. It was so good to read this, and remember "then." And the message of the story still rings true.

August was hot and steamy. Sweat trickled and tickled down spines and hair clung droopily to heads. I explained to some English guests with a craving for bracing “fresh air,” that flinging open the windows would not help at all. After a few days here they believed me.

I got into the habit of taking late evening walks with Molson, our golden retriever. Normally he bolts from the house like an arrow from a bow, but even he moved slowly on those sweltering August evenings, with the fields surrounding our village buzzing and humming with the rhythmic pulse of insect life, and the intoxicating scent of summer blooms hanging in the still air.

With my senses drenched in summer, I had Ch…