New truck! (Red.)



Raymond has gone and bought himself a truck for use at the Manse. Isn’t that something? For years we have been joking about having a red pickup truck (red being my favourite colour, as well as the best colour for a truck) and now, lo and behold, we do. This photo isn’t the actual truck, but it’s the same model and year and colour. Insurance has been problematic (truck being bought in Quebec but soon to go to Ontario and all) but Raymond persevered and it seems like all’s well. He takes possession tomorrow. And it has a trailer hitch!

We are all set for the dump.

Last look at an old, old friend



This impressively sized stump is all that remains of the beautiful huge maple tree that made our front lawn lovely and shady when my family lived at the Manse way back when. The tree died quite some time ago, I guess; at any rate, it’s been nothing but a stump for the better part of two decades. I remember how shocked I was the first time I drove by the Manse on a “sentimental journey” into my past and saw that the landmark tree was no longer there; but it’s been so long since then that I’m pretty much acclimatized. Still, it’s so sad. It was a beautiful tree. But what can you do? You have to move forward. On the day we left the Manse this past long weekend, a chap was to come with a special saw and cut it down as low as possible. That is to be followed by a team that comes and grinds down the remains. And that is followed by a very hopeful sign: the planting of a new maple tree! We are going to get the biggest one we can afford, in the interest of seeing a real tree (as opposed to a twig) in place in fairly short order. Because, as my brother John says, we aren’t getting any younger and we don’t have any time to waste.

A new tree will be splendid. But we will always mourn the venerable tree that it replaces. It gave us shade, and a place to hang a swing for four young children, which was very important in the life of our young family in the mid-1960s.

And it gave us beauty. You can’t put a price on that.

Our names are on the mailbox!



I guess that makes it official: Katherine Sedgwick and Raymond Brassard are the people at 847 Bosley Rd., RR2 Madoc, Ontario. (If you want to send mail there, better add the postal code, K0K 2K0.) So far the only “mail” that has appeared is copies of the local free newspaper (totally excellent) and the Yellow Pages (very useful for finding a wasp exterminator). And the mailbox is in rough shape; as an old friend of mine would say, this mailbox needs a new mailbox. But it’ll do for now. And so – here we are!

Young love, carved into posterity


This evening, after a busy day of errand-running, finding treasures at Victoria Day Weekend yard sales, and pulling grass out of the garden (though not, as had been planned, painting the oil tank; that’s for another day), I took a walk around “the block” that is “downtown” Queensborough. The weather today has been extraordinarily gorgeous, and it was a lovely warm quiet evening. Pausing at what was once the main entrance to McMurray’s general store, I noticed a very old-fashioned (i.e. from the era of my youth) thing: a bunch of initials carved into the wooden panels indicating that Somebody Somebody loved Somebody Somebody – which would be rendered as “S.S.
Such a potent tossback of one’s memory to a gentler time, when the older kids in town had flirtations and romances and announced them by carving their initials down at the store – or somewhere. That romance may have evaporated decades ago, but the evidence that it once existed (if only, perhaps, in the hopeful mind of the person who was one-half of the two sets of initials) lives on. There were a bunch of carved initials this evening, and I tried to think who the people might be. “RL L GL” I can’t guess. But this one, “D.W. L P.P.,” I think I might. Where are those people now?


Long-weekend fun in the country: painting the oil tank



We are happily back at the Manse this Friday night after a long week and a long drive. For the sake of our sanity we must do some relaxing this long and (the forecasters tell us) warm and sunny weekend. But as always there’s work to do. First on the list: paint the oil tank (shown here last winter). Fred the very nice insurance inspector had told us it had to be done come the nice weather; all that’s on there now is primer. So paint it we shall – as long as the wasps aren’t too bothersome to Raymond, the expert painter in the family. We also want to do the last bit of hauling out old yard crap behind the garage, and some work cleaning out our rustic (to put it mildly) basement. Who has more fun than we do? Nobody!

My version of the baby photos

The picture I happened to have on my phone that I displayed as my “baby photo.” Only realized now that in it the front porch of the Manse is full of bags of lawn rakings. Oh well – the old house looks pretty good anyway.

This evening Raymond and I had a wonderful dinner with good friends at La Colombe in the Plateau. Great food, great conversation, fun catching up on all the news, and so on. Of course Mark and Judy asked us about the Manse, and of course I was easily persuaded to rustle up a photo or two, thanks to the pictures taken with and stored on my iPhone. Funny – I felt like a new parent showing the baby pictures. And since I’ve never had children, well – I guess these are my baby pictures. Anyway, I was quite proud to show them.

Afterwards, as we all walked back to our cars along St. Hubert St., the nightly #manifencours #ggi (that’s the student protests against the Quebec government’s planned university-tuition increase) came our way. We knew it was coming because of the plethora of police cars and motorcycles that suddenly vroomed into view. And then came the manif, impressive (even if you don’t agree with the cause) in its size and peacefulness. No masked people (well, Raymond saw one) among the thousands of marchers; no violence. Just a bunch of kids making their way through the streets, with a whole lot of police officers ahead and alongside and behind them, quietly doing a good job. They passed, and we headed off into the night. I took this (very poor) video, really just for the record.

But then I thought it would be interesting to contrast it with a video I took one morning in Queensborough a couple of months ago, of the waters of the Black River flowing over the dam at the centre of the village:

Let’s just say that life is quieter in Queensborough than it is in Montreal.

A good friend.

Morning in Queensborough, looking over the Black River to the old Anglican Church. If this beautiful photo doesn’t make you want to move to – or at least visit – Queensborough, then nothing will. (Photo by Elaine Kapusta)

As anyone who read my last post will know, I was feeling rather blue last night. I still am, to some extent, mainly due to a simple truth: Too much to do, and not enough time in which to do it. That was the same simple truth that my father, Wendell, lamented his entire life; I used that quote as the introduction to the Lives Lived piece that I wrote about him for the Globe and Mail a few months after he died. (The Globe’s website is being cranky about sharing the link, but I’ll post the piece separately one of these times.)

Anyway, 24 hours later my naturally chipper nature, plus a wonderful gift from a good friend, have come close to righting the situation. Everything got so much better when I opened my email and found a message from my friend Elaine Kapusta in Queensborough. I am pretty sure Elaine had read my “some days are better than others” post and decided to cheer me up, because she sent the gorgeous photo of Queensborough that’s at the top of this post. (The other recipient was Elaine’s daughter Mary; Elaine is working to lure both of us “home.”)

Well, the photo did the trick. How perceptive of Elaine to know that it was just what I needed to make me feel better.

What a good friend!