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Barb and AM and picturesque Blomidon beach

Barb and AM and picturesque Blomidon beach

This week’s adventure involved a hike in Blomidon Park. The Park overlooks the Minas Basin. We got there from Baxter’s Harbour where we were visiting with our buddies Barb and Stronach. We were staying at a cottage right on the Bay of Fundy beside a small water fall. The weather was stormy all weekend so there are also a few snaps of the many rainbows that appeared over the weekend. We could see Cape Split from the cottage.

The drive from Baxter’s Harbour to the Park took us along highway 358 with an amazing lookoff into the Annapolis Valley. Anne Marie took a couple of snaps of the view. Blomidon is closed by September 5 so we parked at the lower parking lot and climbed the Jodrey Trail which begins there. The views really were as advertised – spectacular. The tide was falling so we could see the shore and cliffs as we hiked up to the Park itself. Along the way, there were apple trees filled with apples and quiet leaf filled forest trails. We hiked for an hour and reached the two look off points just beyond the camping area of the park. Not a hard hike but a few moderate climbs here and there. Should have brought a lunch. We plan to return in the summer with a good lunch so we can complete the full hike. We hiked back through the camping area and saw some really nice camp sights that take full advantage of the views of the Minas Basin.

On our highly unscientific scale of 1-10 we give it a 7.5:
food & drink = n/a
service = n/a (no one was there!)
exercise = 7
happiness = 8 (beautiful views, great company)

DTs

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This weekend we took a little road trip to Tracadie, Nova Scotia to find the beginnings of Deloreys in Nova Scotia. It was especially moving for me. More than I thought it would be. Here is the Tracadie arrival story:

After a stay of a few years in Arichat, the (Thomas) Jacquets, called Des Lauriers, went and settled in Fortune Bay, on Isle Saint-Jean [now Prince Edward Island]. According to tradition, they built a schooner, with which to do business with the French of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Then in 1787, some members of the family obtained a land grant, in the amount of 700 acres, in the Port of Tracadie, Nova Scotia. From then on, Tracadie became the main location for the family. (from Delorey family site)

Visited the “Old Cemetery” behind St Peter’s Church. The back lawn of the church, and the old graveyard, overlook St. George’s Bay and “Delorey Island”. Here are a few pictures of what I found. Some directly related family in the “Old Cemetery”, some branches of the family. Some of the gravestones are worn right down so cannot clearly read who was buried.

Then we drove out to “Delorey Island” now known as Big Tracadie Island and found a very magical place. I am still touched.

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Delorey, Founding families, Tracadie, NS

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Deslauriers monument

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“Old Cemetery” at St Peter’s Church, overlooking St George’s Bay and Delorey Island, Tracadie, NS

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Margaret Deslauriers

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John A Delorey 1907 and his mother Jenny (Genevieve?) 1909

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Mary Delorey

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Louis Deslauriers 1867

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Elizabeth Delorey 1929

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Margaret Delorey 1922

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Mary Delorey 1899

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Captain George Delorey 1900

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Charlotte Delorey

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Margaret Delorey 1918

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Joseph Delorey 1889

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St George’s Bay from St Peter’s Church

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Causeway from Delorey Island, Myette Road, back to Tracadie

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St. Georges Bay from Delorey Island – view to St Peter’s Church

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Delorey Island, Gulf of St Lawrence, PEI

Delorey Island beach Find

 

 

Just spent 8 days interesting days in Moldova observing with the OSCE ODIHR election mission for the Moldovan Parliamentary election. The Republic of Moldova is a small landlocked country between Ukraine and Romania which declared its sovereignty from USSR in 1990. I was there to observe and report on the election of 101 new deputies into parliament. I knew very little about Moldova before my assignment on this mission and I too wondered where it was on the map. Here is a locator:

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Moldova has a good reputation for its wine and is mainly undiscovered as a tourist destination. A few of us arrived in Chisinau, the capital, a day before the observer training so we used the time well touring Chisinau and one of the celebrated wine cellars. Milestii Mici houses about 2 million bottles of wine in limestone caves 85 metres below ground. The limestone was originally mined and shipped to Chisinau for building then in the 1970’s barrels and “cavas” were built to store the wine. Very interesting place.

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Chisinau had many delights on a cold winter day. Not the least of which was a downtown skating rink – ringed with political signage days before the election.

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I was assigned to observe the elections in the north-eastern Soroca region. The Soroca castle built by Stephen the Great in the 1400’s is the centrepiece of the city and the surrounding countryside is rolling hills, small scale farming and local towns and villages. Election observation was interspersed with rugged driving to local villages.

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OSCE ODIHR released it’s preliminary report on December 1st, the day after the elections finding that the campaign was peaceful and freedoms of expression, association and assembly were generally respected. The campaign environment was affected by the deregistration of the Patria Party (PP) shortly before election day. In a largely substantive campaign, there was particular focus on geopolitical issues such as engagement with the European Union and the Eurasian Customs Union, as well as the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, and issues of employment, pensions and anticorruption.

The OSCE/ODIHR pulled off an amazing feat in bringing over 1000 international observers to Ukraine to assist in ensuring the presidential election was fair and transparent. I was honoured to be one of 135 Canadians on this mission and one of 235 total Canadian observers in country. The OSCE final report is based on the accumulation of thousands of observer reports: “This election proved the democratic spirit of the people of Ukraine, who had the opportunity to genuinely express their will at the ballot box, and seized it in high numbers,” said João Soares, the Special Co-ordinator who led the short-term OSCE observer mission. “The electoral and security authorities of Ukraine should be commended for their efforts – under extraordinary circumstances – to facilitate an election that largely upheld democratic commitments.”

Our journey from Ottawa landed us in the capital Kyiv where we spent two days in orientation preparing for our task with a little time to check out the city, especially exploring Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square.

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With my partner Fritz, I was assigned to the District Election Commission in Khust, Zakarpattya Oblast near both the Hungarian and Romanian border. To get to the area our Team 13, along with Team 12, jumped on the overnight train. We were heading to the far side of the Carpathian Mountains to Zakarpattya Oblast. We awoke, after going through the mountains, to a picturesque country side with rolling hills and small farms and gardens everywhere. The villages were misty with church roofs gleaming in the early morning sun.

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We disembarked at Mukacheve and met our translator Sophie from Uzhhorod and our driver Roman from Khust. After our local briefing with Team 13 LTOs Michael and Peder we headed the one hour east to Khust.IMG_1075

As Team B, Frist, Roman, Sophie and I were assigned to check out the activities at a few polling stations on election day but our main assignment was to watch the post-election overnight tabulation at the District Election Commission. An assignment I was not sure I was fit for given I am usually asleep by 10 pm!

On Saturday the 24th we dropped into polling stations in our area of assignment to check on voting preparations and made an observation plan for Eday. We were warmly welcomed as international observers wherever we went. Eday we were off to 4 polls in the morning, rested, then two more polls in the evening, observing the count at one of them. Then at 2230 headed to the DEC for the tabulation. The DEC worked hard and finished their processing of precinct voting results for 100+ polls around 6:30 am. We then walked to our hotel and hit the sack. Some views near Khust including a little cow traffic jam:

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After filing all our observation forms, a little more touring and the purchase of Ukrainian vodka and President-elect Poroshenko’s Roshen chocolate for souvenirs, we were back on the night train to Kyiv. More adventures on the night train that included roadside homemade wine, fresh sheep cheese, more wine, beer and perhaps a little Ukrainian vodka. Most slept well that night. We had one more day of debrief, a final drive around Kyiv and then, for many Canadians, to the airport at 3am.

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With little sleep the whole week, simply an amazing experience and feeling honoured to be warmly welcomed by Ukrainians to provide international election observation. In west Ukraine, Zacarpattya Oblast polls were fully operational and calm on election day. Unfortunately some polls in the east and south Donetsk and Luhansk did not open. While there is still hard work to be done in Ukraine, including the release of two OSCE conflict resolution special monitoring mission teams, the OSCE noted this election was another step forward to stability. Much thanks to Team 1304B Fritz, Roman, and Sophie. Kudos to our coordinating Long Term Observers Michael, Peder and Natalia and to the marvellous and inspirational Team 13 – Nancy my train cabin-mate, Stig, Micheal, Kent, Linda, Lauren, Lukas, Robert, Kazi, Sarah, Nikola, Tomasz, and Andrezej. Best to more new friends, and most of all, wishing wisdom and tenacity to President Poroshenko and to Ukrainians. I hope we see each other again soon, perhaps in the fall. Thanks all. AM.

Friends and Family

Have been settling into my Tunisian apartment. It is about 3k walk from town with lovely views. Now a 3 k bike ride as I bought a new bike today. Hopefully it rides as nice as it looks. Still to get its real test yet.

Work is winding down to a more measured pace – had this weekend off and have our last weekend training next weekend. I have been working mainly with women training in public speaking, confidence building, candidate preparedness, door to door canvassing. Also some general candidate schools with political parties.  Ramadan comes July 7 and most, if not all, Tunisians will be fasting during the day and eating at night. Daytime slows down with shops open until about 2 and restaurants are open only in hotels. So work will be slower although I will move to my other major project, interviewing women legislators about conditions of work. I was very pleased when last weekend a political party agreed to a 20% quota for women and 20% for youth for their candidates for the election.

I will take a weekend away from Tunis in the middle of Ramadan to head for a little trip to Milan as there is a direct flight. And C will never want to go to the “fashion capital”!  C and I meet up in August for a vacation in France and Tunisia. Looking forward to that.

Otherwise still working on my French, understanding most of what I hear except when it is mixed with Arabic. But I understand some Arabic when it is mixed with French. Hmmm. I continue to tell people I am Canadian Anglaise but fewer and fewer need an explanation. Not sure that this means my French is getting better…

Big hugs to family, M&D, Jeff and Wendy and Nicki, all nieces and nephews, and to C, H and B of course,

and likewise to friends.

xoxo AM

The winter is winding down but we managed to fit in the last winter family adventure – dog sledding. We learned lots about the dogs, how to bring them to the sled (on two feet because with four they will run you over they are so strong), how to hook them up then the actual running. The dogs used to be Huskies or Alaskans but are now a mix of Hounds with a little bit of Huskie, faster and keen to run. It was very fun and we all would like to return. The owner of Timberland Tours Denis encouraged H&B to try out racing which they are both considering. There is one picture of the summer cart which is pulled by teams of 4, 6 or 8 dogs for dog cart racing. They also have a race where you hitch up to a dog and run your guts out, you and your dog. I am not so sure but B would probably be really good at it!

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Finally we finished the last bits of the kitchen painting the trim in Mid-December. We are really happy with the final result and can recommend the ikea experience. Good luck to those tackling their own.

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