From Venice to Verona and Trento

The Verona Roman Amphitheater where, under the stars,you can enjoy the world’s best opera.

Leaving Venice I trained to Verona arriving in the middle of a hot afternoon. Did I say it was hot?   Remind me never to go to Italy in August. Firstly, it is blazing hot and humid and secondly, everyone is at the beach or in the mountains.

Verona is a gracious city north and west of Venice just at the bottom of the Dolomites and the Alps. The town is also not far from beautiful Lake Garda but I rarely go there. Verona hints of wealth and rightly so as it is surrounded by marvelous vineyards, wineries and orchards. Then city is recognized for its famous Roman amphitheatre where they annually have incredible operas and concerts attended by people from all over the world. On one of the nights I was there, they had Carmen for a measly twenty-seven euro but I didn’t go simply because I had no one to go with.

Verona is also renowned for the Shakespearian work, “Romeo and Juliet” though they never really lived in Verona, Juliet’s balconetta is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world who scribble love notes on paper and do their best to lodge them somewhere between the stones already packed with previous decades of decaying paper, failed hopes and dreams. People desperate to find this fictional location (especially female Japanese tourists) will almost panic if they have already walked long distances in stilettos and have not yet arrived in the alley way. I tried to assist several distraught tourists but since I had no idea of where I was at any given time, I was of little help.

I spent one full day and two nights there and then went on Saturday morning to Trento where I would meet Marcio and Noemi my hosts for the weekend. Even as an extrovert, I occasionally want to get a break from socializing so after more than a week with mostly being with people. I look forward to a day of just walking the streets and taking photographs.

Nevertheless, once my batteries were re-charged I was introduced to Marcio and Noemi people I have been in contact with but had never met. It was a joy to finally see them face to face and see their children.

Marcio and his two small boys waited patiently has my itinerary failed me. I looked on the website and found a train arriving at what I thought to be 10 something but when I got to the station I was told, “Oh, that one only runs during the week.” On Saturday you must take a later train. In any case, after several corrective text messages I arrived, went to the store, to the house out on a hillside and there we ate a nice pasta lunch before going to an area lake where they were engaged in some sort of “Kontiki” races.

We lounged around, the kids played on the swing sets and Emile D. drove down to meet me for coffee.

Later in the evening, Marcio and Noemi had some lovely Syrian friends over for dessert and I enjoyed speaking English thought the conversation often drifted back to Italian. I speak just enough Italian, well enough for people to think I can follow a conversation so I am often left in a lurch and have to gracefully slide out of the conversations.

Fishing with Jerry N. and Mark P. …

On one of the mornings I drove out to White Lake with Jerry N.. There in Packenham we met Mark P. for breakfast and then out to the cottage where we launched for a morning of bass fishing. Frankly, we’re never sure how this might turn out but the truth is, White Lake

All Large Mouth

has rarely disappointed me. Such was the case today as the three of us landed about ten keepers before 1 in the afternoon. When cleaning fish the trick is to act incompetent. This will mean that Jerry and Mark will take over which they did. In the end I took back to Jeanne and the skillet about three pounds of dressed largemouth bass.

Just several days before a violent storm blew across the lake knocking down huge pines and demolishing a number of cottages on the north shore.

Here’s a photo of some of the damage it caused.

Ministry in Hyde Park, Richmond

When I was last here in May a few of us met to think about a series of outreach events in Richmond, Ontario. I was invited to be the speaker at one of first meetings in the series and so I did.


It was incredibly hot on this Sunday afternoon and almost nowhere to hide in the shade. The event was planned around a group of about fifty school aged children and their mothers. All of the kids were African immigrant-refugees marshaled together by a local pastor. Since this community is designed for retired and independent living we had another forty in attendance so it all made for a good congregation. The children sang about ten songs and then I offered my twenty minute message to what seemed to be a good reception.

The Garden Party

Wood-fired pizza making

About a month ago (See an earlier blog) we were hosted by Elvira and Gustavo, Italian-Canadian friends in Ottawa. At that time they invited other guests, Charles and Diana. We weren’t told ahead of time but Charles turned out to be, amchievements, a Cordon Bleu trained chef with an entire area in the basement of his home devoted to what else, cooking and baking. That’s not all they have donated to cooking and baking. We arrived to a first class evening as they had manicured and decorated the entire backyard set-up to entertain about eighty people for dinner. In a sense, we were the “party crashers” as we knew none of the others except Elvira, Gustavo and the hosting couple.

Nevertheless, we were treated royally and met some very nice people through the course of the evening or should I say “courses of the evening.” Charles began all of us around his pizza oven handing each a ball of dough with instructions on how to make our own authentic, wood-fired, thin-crusted pizza. You can imagine that we enjoyed this event and then went on to just things as salmon, beef, home-made breads, salads, and a scrumptious whipped potato item. The weather was ideal and the setting splendid. Everyone should do something like this in their lifetime.

Chris from Ljubljana visits in the US and Canada

Chris and The North Street Band in Perth, Ontario

Perth on the Tay

Chris called from Atlanta and said that he was in the country and on the way to Virginia and wondered if we had a bed. It’s always great to have missionaries stay with us when passing through. I am always his guest when in Ljubljana so it’s nice to return the favor now and then.

He only managed to stay a day before he was in the car, roaring off across America for a month. He had just come from New Zealand and Australia. Since he was also headed to Canada we made arrangements to meet up in Ottawa for a few days.

On July sixteenth he called to say he had arrived so we spent a few days showing him Ottawa and the area. This meant that on Saturday we attended North Streets concert at the Perth Folk Music Festival.

I’ll be showing up on his doorstep on August 13 so we’ll see each other some this year.

Here are a few pictures of North Street Band who come to Europe in September and October.

Alysha, our grand daughter in Ottawa

With Alysha at Chapel Ridge

A lovely and unexpected connection. Our granddaughter, Alysha is now more than eighteen years of age, finished with high school and on her way to college. We don’t always have the privilege of seeing the Hedrick family of Thunder Bay. This means that Alysha has done some serious growing up since the last time we visited Thunder Bay several years ago.

Every year she makes her way to Ottawa where she stays a couple of weeks with her other grandparents, Pete and Pauline. It turned out that this time we were in town at the same time so we managed to have a couple of visits. Here we are at Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. See what I mean? Alysha has grown up.

The Frankish-Armstrong Family Cottage, Georgian Bay

What a hard life

Thankful for Mapquest and GPS, we made the long nine-hour drive and into the tricky country cottage area surrounding Canada’s beautiful Georgian Bay. One could take a hundred roads that lead out to thousands of peninsulas’ and bays but we landed right the first time.

The Frankishes we have known for at least twenty-seven years. I have dedicated both of their children, Ian and Allison who are now (respectively) in medical school and university. They have invited us to come each year for almost ten years but most of the time it meant a special trip, This time we arranged the trip so it intentionally went up that way without going much out-of-the-way. We arrived in time for supper.

Over the next few days we joined Chuck, Bev and Bev’s sister Laurie sit in easy chairs looking at the beautiful water in the shade of tall Georgian Pines. There couldn’t have been more pleasant weather for holidaying and for the next few days, we did almost nothing but relax with a few ventures here and there. Jeanne and I love vacations where the hostess does everything and demands nothing! We had a pleasant time accomplishing nothing and going to pretty much nothing.

Jeanne pressed me to Kyack with her and after a short time of it, using the rotator cuff complaint, I was able to whine my way back to dry land. She put on her best “northern cottage” attitude and got back in with Chuck and soon disappeared. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping she won’t take a “hankerun” to it.

Bev, Chuck and Laurie

But just think of it. How do you have friends like this where all pretence can be put aside, where they are as close as family (or perhaps closer)?

Sundown on Georgian Bay

After several days of this, we drove off toward Ottawa. On the way, a kindly OPP officer stopped me for speeding in Algonquin Park. Jeanne agreed with me that I wasn’t going in excessive speed so I must not have been since, Jeanne never lies!

No moss grew under our feet…

Ottawa Valley, Canada May 3 to June 1, 2012

From the moment we arrived we were knee deep in visits and ministry. Though not in order here’s just a few of the things we did while there. We hardly ate at home by ourselves for even one night.


Stittsville, Ontario

Sunday, May 7    Tony (Preaching) Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church. Message available at

Sunday, May 7    Tony, Evangelism Planning

Sunday, May 14  Jeanne (Preaching)

Sunday, May 20  Dedication of Liam Michael Cordell

Hyde Park Outreach Planning Meeting

Carleton Place

Friday, May 25   Fund raising concert event

Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church

Sunday, May 27  Two messages “The Deeper Work of the Spirit” and “Like Jumping to Capri”

Lunch and Dinner Meetings

Ken and Linda R., Bev and Chuck F.(2x’s), Bud and Debbie N. (2X’s), Andrew and Lauren R., Larry, Leslie, Nick and Janet, Paul L., Mark and Tracy P., Dave H., Sarah J., Henk, Jack M., Irene and Sam, W., Gustavo and Elvira, Steve and Wendy F., Bill and Lorna S., Kerry, Jerry, Bud and Debbie N., Larry B., and Kari Y., (Tony), Kris H., Barb S., Lori, Lilly and Pat S., Liz R., Linda H. and Rita O., Randy and Tracy H., Sandy and Doreen C. (Jeanne), Marianne D. (Jeanne).

Thanks for all of the love and good food!!!

Caughnawana Fishing and Hunting Club, Established 1899

For the last five years or more Mark Peterkins of One-Way Ministries has tried to get me on board with his annual fishing trip to a member only lake in Quebec. The Caughnawana Hunting and Fishing Club was established in 1899 but goes back much farther than that – as far back as the 1700’s. Wealthy Americans like Vanderbilt and his friends would board a New York train and take it as far as Manawaki, Ontario where he and his group would be met by Indians and pack horses. From there they would ride another hundred or more miles through very rough terrain to Lake Caughnawana about 120 kilometers from Temiscaming, Quebec, north of Deep River. Even today Temiscaming remains rather at “the end of the line.” Passenger

trains don’t even go up there anymore and for this reason Mark rented two Jeep Cherokees for the six of us who traveled in convoy from Ottawa. It took about six or more hours to get to Temiscaming. Once we arrived there we were met by John Friesen and his young friend Matt who came from near Huntsville and the Muskoka Bible Center. After meeting up at the ESSO station the roads became increasingly more difficult to maneuver. By the final turn off which took us the final fifty-eight kilometers the travel might be called, “off-roading.” In fact it is so “off-roading” that we followed a young male moose (still bigger than our car) for a short distance. He outran us. This is so remote an area that you must stop at a kiosk, give your name and identification, car license and so forth just in case you fail to come back and check out.

We arrived on Monday, took a brief rest and then squared up our gear, met at the water’s edge and went out on the barge for a couple of ours. We took turns with some just sitting in chairs and basking in the warm sun. Fortunately, on the water there are not so many black flies and mosquitoes so one has a slight chance of basking in the sun. I must warn the readier that there is always direct correlation between the amount of fish one catches and the thickness of the biting insects. Bugs are absolutely thick!

I did catch the first one, a speckle just a little over a pound – a perfect pan sized trout. This doesn’t sound like much of a fish when compared to some of the salmon and trout I have caught in excess of twenty pounds but when you have him on light tackle and a fourteen foot fly rod the fight is really something! They have the ability to bend a rod double. One more was picked up by John before we went in for supper.

Caughnawana Lodge is a private club where each of its limited seventy members must pay an annual fee of $1,500. (There is an additional cost per day to stay in the lodge with gourmet meals provided.) This means that fish stocks are quite abundant with different lakes hosting different species and different restrictions. In Caughnawana there were both Lake Trout and Speckles but just over the hill in Green Lake there were only Lakers. There are huge ones but they are rarely caught since they run in deep water and only flies can be used. Heavy metal plugs are not allowed. By July the fishing is pretty much over as the trout head into deeper cooler waters. One has about a two month window in which to catch fish – lots of fish.

I was with a great group of guys, Mark of course and his colleague Jerry O.. I rode down with Richard L., while in the other car were Steve H. and his son Matt. Arriving in Temiscaming and meeting us there were John F., and his co-worker, Dan. After an amazing meal put together by the lodge hostess, Jane, we settled in for an evening of informal discussion.

The next morning after a hearty traditional fish camp breakfast we put ourselves into three boats and took off across Caughnawana, docking at one side of a mountain, gathering up our stuff and hiking over the mountain to a wharf on the other side where four more boats awaited us. After getting them launched and started we all put on our various flies, divided the lake up and set out to try our luck on the Green. It turned out that white was the color of the day and within a short time I had hooked six and landed five, all of them almost identical in size. We had planned to gather on a small island for lunch where Brian our guide would have a shore lunch ready to go.

Brian, our host and guide

In all and with another two hours remaining we had amassed a catch of about fifteen, one short of the limit. Brian cleaned them up and fried them over a blazing campfire. Along with homemade bread and baked beans we had a marvelous, tasty and filling lunch. This is an authentic Canadian experience that perhaps less than ten percent of Canadians ever have.

Since there was a lot to do in order to get cleaned up, organized and back over the mountain (by the way, it was fairly easy going south to north but almost straight up north to south. I almost croaked.)  Again, we faced another great supper, this time, steak, mashed white and sweet potatoes, stuffed bell peppers and more.

The next morning at eleven we loaded and made our way back to our respective cities.

Forest Fire Fighters / an example of US and Canadian Cooperation

News reports were full of stories about fiveforest fires raging in Ontario and Quebec.  We could see evidence of the fire long before we reached The Caughnawana Fishing Camp. While we were having breakfast in Deep River the waitress suggested that we call ahead to make sure we could even get through. The fire had been burning for days and once we were alerted to this possibility, our real concern turned to whether we might get stuck in the woods with the fire cutting us off from any means of escape. There was only one road in and one road out. Fortunately there was a BIG lake we could all jump into, boats and islands if things got too close and hot.

Once we were settled on Monday afternoon, we began to hear helicopters overhead and a small pontoon plane skidding on to the water in front of us. Soon guys (okay there was one girl) in smudged clothing and yellow helmets began to come on to the wharf loaded down with gear.

While the others in my group politely wondered where these teams came from, how things were going on the front and where they were headed. I did what the others wanted to do. I went over and asked them. The team I spoke to were on loan from New Hampshire. Basically, they had already been fighting the fire for five days and were assigned to this fire for another sixteen or until the fire was extinguished. I said, “That seems like a long time to me.”  Perhaps all forest fire workers are skimpy talkers as none of them seemed to be lavish communicators. One waited on the other to respond until after a long pause and eyes flashing around to see who would take the lead, one of them said, “We have to do more than bring the fire under control. It takes a lot of extra time to trouble shoot by putting dead-out anything that might have the potential to flare up again.” I then learned that the fire had basically been licked as long as it didn’t turn windy and with a possibility of heavy rain the main problem seemed pretty much over. That was good news for everyone. I thought, Jake (my grandson) would love this work.