The Father we know or have known

dad 3Syls DadThere are moments in life that simply bring us to our knees in sheer emotions… Today was one of those moments… I heard this song that was written for Celine Dion by the amazing artist Pink.

It is such a totally emotional “cry out your heart song” of gratitude and love, and the constant reach to manage life’s most crippling and humbling experiences… the lost of a loved one. Out of nowhere, I chanced through the channels between housecleaning activities, and in a moment, was sitting down in amazed concentration to the show StandUp2Cancer. It was late, but I chanced on the channel as I heard the first note played on the piano, and I was riveted. And Celine started to sing – like the angel whose voice she has, this haunting, disturbing and comforting song….

I am recovering…. Aren’t we all recovering from something? An old hurt, a failed project, a lost member(s) of family, a failed marriage, a heartbreak or more…  We all have SOMETHING, acknowledged or not, that is likely in need of recovery.

I lost my Dad 46 years ago – and to this day, I still think of him. I lost my Mom, my sister Denise, my aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, in laws… we all have. Many wish just one more moment with them, one more thought, one more “I love you”. I believe, and this is my own personal belief, than they are still with us, but in different “state or form”.

They are still missed and loved. My girls still have their father and they are so blessed.

Humbled and grateful for those I loved





The wonders of nostalgia

“Live in the present” we hear, almost on a daily basis. My philosophy differs somewhat. I see validity and value in the past, the present and the future.

old coffee cup

Memories galore…

I found myself busy cleaning the kitchen and chanced upon this beautiful cup. How many of us remember our parents or grandparents drinking from such a cup.

These flashbacks to my younger days are to me, a gift… A gift from the past. Such gifts make me remember the great moments of my childhood or my growing up days.

I feel happiness and security when I see such treasures. Granted, LIVING in the past is not something I would recommend, but the past has tremendous value to add to our growth. Notice I didn’t say growing up, but wise! Up is not a direction I aspire.

Nor, I truly believe, should we live in the future ALL the time, but I truly aspire to do so to enable me to see and feel myself in my own created future. It allows me to dream, to create, to imagine, to picture myself in a better version of who I am today. All of us can use some “tweaking” to be our best selves.

I also live in the present – enjoy these feelings of nostalgia I have from being items of my past, and being thankful for my life… each and every day.

So perhaps you might consider doing some “downsizing” and sharing what you have that you can give out to others. And in the interim, if you find those “treasures” that fling you into some past experiences or time, well then, keep those in a special place. We can live a balanced life in all three spaces… the value of past positive and happy memories, the present of appreciating what we have and what we had, and projecting what we could be.

I am forever thankful for my charmed life, my beautiful family members and friends…

Love and appreciation.




New appreciation for my ancestors

On June 27th, I, along with 47 other pilgrims (mostly from Bordeaux France) set sail from Bordeaux to A Coruna in Spain. The 3 mast sailboat made its maiden voyage in June of 1896. Its original cargo was of cocoa beans from Brazil to Nantes in France for the french chocolatier Menier.



Today it serves as a training vessel for various groups, including ours. We spent 5 days learning and doing many of the tasks needed to keep the vessel in working order. Although the very able crew of 15 sailors could do this on their own, they included us in many of the maneuvers such as raising the sails, navigating and maintaining the ship.

A sailor I am not I soon discovered as I suffered seasickness during most of the trip; extreme seasickness that plagued me during 4 of the 5 days of sailing. I will omit the details, suffice to say I managed to lose a few kilos along the way.

One of my many thoughts (other than the dream of terra ferma) was that of our newly found ancestor information. Through research, my brother Paul was able to trace our father’s ancestors right up to the migration of Andre Poutré dit Lavigne who opted to set his sights on la Nouvelle France (Québec) in 1655.

He, along with 224 other brave individuals crossed the ocean on a ship called l’Aigle d’Or on what must have been nothing less than a hellish trip lasting 111 days. I cannot even fathom the hardship of such travels. The conditions of their surroundings must have been near impossible to survive with so many people for such a long period of time with limited rations, limited space and treacherous waters.

How many actually arrived in Nouvelle France is not noted, but he, along with his future wife who sailed a different ship as a chosen “Fille du Roi” established themselves in Canada and had a total of 12 children.

I have such a respect and admiration for those like them who defied the odds and headed towards a new life in a newly inhabited country which included extreme cold, snow, undeveloped land, and much hardship. I planned to visit the birth place of André, but due to changes to my schedule, I have to postpone this visit until my next trip.

Today, I salute those that made that extreme leap of faith and traveled to our country.

Hollyhocks from Heaven

My garden is a big source of pleasure for me. I enjoy everything about it, from the planning and making decisions on look and feel, to the putting it all together, planting, caring, nurturing and enjoying every stage of the growth of all the plants/fruits/veggies/herbs.

I try to make my garden a calm haven. I want twinkly solar lights and beautiful fragrant herbs and flowers. I want colour – lots of colour! My garden changes every year. This year, it will consist mostly of veggies, since I won’t be able to tend it during my trip this summer.

I have been observing the growth of the tulips Steve’s Mom planted in the front of our home. I so look forward to seeing the first little green poking out of the ground. It means that it’s spring, and it makes my heart sing in thanking Marge for her love and support. I think about her each and every time I walk up the front door! And I smile.

Today, Steve asked me if I wanted to plant more of her flowers. I was taken aback since I didn’t know of any more flowers. He took out a bag with small pill bottles, the storage method used to protect seeds. On each cap, Marge’s familiar writing identifying the type and colour of the flower.

Nana’s writing – isn’t it interesting how some of us react very emotionally when we see someone’s writing. All writings are unique, and they are just like our fingerprints, snowflakes or stars.

Hollyhock seeds – I had to look up the flower to see if I recognized it. This is something new for my garden, and I am so excited and inspired to make the hollyhock project a success.

Those seeds have now taken on much more importance to me. Nana’s hands touched those seeds, she preserved them, identified them, and kept them. It’s an extension of her of sorts, one that we will enjoy for weeks during the summer. And the garden will now have an even more spiritual aspect… at least, for myself.

In a way, I see this experience I’m living right now as gift… and in my hands, I have what I want to refer to, as Hollyhocks from Heaven!

Thanks Nana,

We love you, and we miss you

Santa wore mascara

The tree was beautifully decorated and the sweet smell of cookies wafted from the kitchen. We were all gathered at my Mom’s house and I had planned to be Santa for the young ones.

We sat around and enjoyed each other’s company, and I quietly left the living room, making sure no one saw me. Granted, I didn’t make a tall Santa, but I was a very well dressed Santa. I stuffed a cushion to make my belly round, slipped the white wig and lifelike white beard, and sneaked out of the house by the side door.

I waited a few minutes, adjusting my bag of toys over my shoulder and in my best deep voice, practiced my Santa laugh. I noticed the kids had taken notice and ran to the front bay window to catch a glimpse of  the jolly guest.

I walked into the house, and the children gathered all around me, and others spoke so my words wouldn’t give me away. I did throw out a few loud “Ho ho” that seem to satisfy the children. So not to overstay my welcome, I waved goodbye and left the children to open their Santa presents. I noticed a few of them watching me through the window so I walked over to our neighbor to make it seem a bit more real.

After a short while, I softly crept back in, unnoticed, and went upstairs to change back into my regular clothes. I walked back down and a few of the kids told me that Santa had come by to visit. One of the youngest girls was a beautiful dark eyed dark hair little one who hardly spoke. She was a bit on the shy side, and hadn’t even spoken to me earlier during the evening. I caught her staring at me a few times, and an hour later, she approached me and sat beside me and took my hand in hers. This was quite unexpected coming from this shy little one.

After a few minutes, she motioned me to get close to her, and with her soft voice, she whispered “You know, Santa is a girl” she said quite proudly. “A girl?” I asked with a surprised tone. “Why do you say that?” She looked at me and smiled, and after a minute or so, she replied “Because Santa wore mascara”!

Did she really know I had taken on that role or was she simply sharing her discovery with me? I won’t ever be sure but she spent the rest of the evening sitting close to me.

By the way, that little girl was Anna Lee! this remains as one of my favorite Santa stories!

Merry Christmas to you all,

Santa Sylvie

The “Z” Memories – Walking down the camino memory lane

Here we are at the last letter of the alphabet, the letter “Z”.

Zaftig statues

Zaftig statues

This zaftig statue depicts a woman along side her equally rotund man.  This particular couple can be found in the city of Burgos.

I’m not sure if they are wearing the clothing of a certain area, but I have seen many alike figures in the Basque Country.

I’m sure some of my readers will let me know more of these characters.

zillion of teardrops

zillion of teardrops

This next picture may be hard to make out – but if you look closely, you will notice hundreds of hundreds (I say zillion to indicate lots and lots and lots) or glass teardrop shapes. This massive art piece hangs in the entrance way of the museum of Contemporary Art in the city of Vitoria.

The most amazing thing happens every 30-40 seconds, the entire structure moves a wee bit, making all the shapes cling against each other, akin soft moving chimes… I watched, listened and videotaped this amazing moving art piece for almost half an hour. I was so mesmerized by it. It is called ‘Un pedazo de cielo cristalizado’ (2001), and was created by Javier Pérez – a piece of crystallized sky. It was created by Javier Pérez for the Spanish Pavilion of the Venice Biennial held in 2001.

Zomorphic apparatus

Zoomorphic apparatus

This zoomorphic apparatus (shaping of something in animal form) is a sort of training unit used by young children to practice the art of bullfighting.

Set on a wheel and having handles, one child would “drive” this apparatus and the children would wave their little capes mimicking a matador.

How unique and had I been able to bring one back home, I would have, as a conversation piece in my Camino room. Alas, it would not fit in my backpack!



To close this amazing adventure that was the A to Z blogging challenge, I offer you the picture titled “Zzzzzs”. I was resting, albeit momentarily in a small street.

Notice another Camino symbol, depicting the many Camino ways in Spain, all meeting at one point, and that point represents Santiago de Compostela, the city where it is believed the remains of St. James are found.

Thank you, readers, for the past month’s of great feedback, comments and encouragement. I hope you enjoyed traveling with me through my words and my pictures. It has been a true pleasure sharing my memories with you, and perhaps, one day, we may just meet and exchange a “Buen Camino” and a smile.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit

The Y” Memories – Walking down the Camino Memory Lane


You've got mail

You’ve got mail

How’s this for an original mailbox… therefore “You’ve got MAIL!” – There are so many original items that include shells… another very well known Camino symbol.

I have heard that in the old days (post the rediscovery of the remains of St. James) pilgrims used to have to walk not only to Santiago, but continue on (about 3 days walk) to Finisterre where  they could collect their shell from the ocean.

This served as another proof that they had walked the Camino, and to the end of the earth, as Finisterre was thought to be, back then. The shell can often by found attached to the pilgrim’s backpack.

The rest of the photos all fall under the title “Yummy Treats”… Feast your eyes on pastries, and pinchos (called tapas in the south of Spain).

yummy snacks-s yummy snacks 2-syummy snacks 4yummy treats 6-s


Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit

The “X” Memories – Walking down the Camino memory lane

xanthic arrow

xanthic arrow

Ah – those xanthic arrows! I had to look hard for “X” words, and as you will see, I could only come up with two, but they are good ones!

So xanthic means “of or relating to yellow”. The yellow arrow is a very common symbol of the Camino. We love the yellow arrows as they confirm the “way” to go. They can be found on just about anything permanent – a wall, a tree, a building, a post – – name it, it can have a yellow arrow.

Elías Valiña, pastor of O Cebreiro, was the first pioneer who began on his pilgrimage to sign the route with this symbol, then spread it on all the way. He was originally from Sarria, although he settled in O Cebreiro as a priest. He studied the history of the Camino, which was the subject of his doctoral thesis. Between the end of the 1970s, and the early 1980s, the marking  of the French Way (Camino Frances) was undertaken. Today, pilgrims can be secure in knowing the arrows will guide his way.



My other “X” word is xyloglyphy. You won’t find its definition in the abridged dictionary, but it can be found in the extended version. It means an artistic wood carving.

There are many artists on the Camino that work with wood. I found many wood statues of St. James, often placed at the entrance of albergues or churches.

I found this particular one in a small town in Basque Country. There was an abundance of art of  just about every form, from the works in stained glass, marble statues, wooden art pieces, and paintings done hundreds of years before my country was discovered! The Camino experience can be not only spiritual but artistic as well.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit

The “W” Memories – Walking down the Camino Memory Lane

Walk in my shoes

Walk in my shoes

Every pilgrim’s Camino is personal and different. We might walk the same roads, sleep in the same albergues, attend the same masses but every single pilgrim comes with its own personal experiences, thoughts and dreams.

When I saw these boots, I was reminded of the statement “Walk a mile in my shoes” meaning live my life as I am living it before thinking you might know of me.

This stands true for every experience we have in life. We shouldn’t assume or believe we know what the other person is feeling, thinking or experiencing – our journeys are very unique and personal.

Watermelon Carrier

Watermelon Carrier

I often found myself laughing out loud when seeing something funny or unique. I was reminded of times I heard “have laptop, will travel” or “have suitcase, will travel”.

In this case, thanks to this handy grocery store watermelon carrier, I could actually say “Have watermelon, will travel”! What an interesting carrier!



Oh, how many times did I feel like this weary pilgrim depicted in this statue… More than I care to admit, but almost all times, it was a good weary.

Especially during the first week of walking, regardless of the training I had done (and for my second camino, I had trained extensively) the end of day would find me in complete state of tired, sore and exhausted.

Fortunately, a few weeks into the walking and the body adjusts so amazingly that most evenings would finished with me being tired but not sore nor exhausted.



We often would walk so many kilometers waiting to see a village or town in the far distance. Some of the towns announced their presence ahead of their town limits with signs or in this case, monuments. What a welcomed sight!

It was much like a little fanfare showing us the way into the town or village, and for many of us, it meant a chance for a short rest, a cafe con leche, a bite to eat, a location to buy a few items.



I barely noticed this field worker as I walked by as I was so fixated on the road ahead of me.

I noticed just how small he seemed in this vast field, and I realized what a huge job he had, tending to this field by hand. I couldn’t quite make out what he was doing, but every so often he would bend down and totally disappear from view, only to resurface a minute later.

It made me feel very humbled and blessed that I was taking so many weeks to walk the Camino and wondered if he ever walked it on his own.

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit

the “V” Memories – Walking down the Camino memory lane

Vaca que rie

Vaca que rie

La Vaca que rie – The Laughing cow cheese – one of my go-to snacks on the Camino.

Surprisingly enough, it could be kept without having to be refrigerated, making this a great snack. And as mentioned before, in Spain, cheese is very inexpensive – a quarter of the cost back home.

It was a quick snack with few calories but great taste. I was told by my friend Bruno that in Italy, this is called “Kid’s cheese” because parents spread this on bread for breakfast for the kids. Well, I am  KID… at HEART!



Isn’t this view spectacular! Where as the view in the Meseta (the equivalent of our prairies in Canada) was flat, Galicia is all mountains – This was talen at the top pf O’Cebreiro. This had been a rough climbing day, but well worth it!



I always got excited when I could see a village or town on the horizon. It often meant time for a coffee, lunch or an albergue for the night.

Notice the terracotta coloured roofs – a uniform look to most houses in small villages. Even the smallest village had a plaza mayor, typical the center of the town, and most had a church, and an evening short mass and blessing held for the pilgrims.



The only word that comes to my mind when I see this picture, is VAST!

Enormous fortress gates surrounded this city and their size certainly amazed me.

I look like a little peanut but I like that having me in the picture really shows scale.

Not all cities have these gates as many old structures have succumbed to time, city growth and damage. There’s really nothing comparable size wise in our very new country of Canada!

Cheers from my virtual Camino tour!

For more information about the A-Z Blog Challenge please visit