happiness

Mom’s Tour de France 15 (FGK 106)

I am constantly amazed by mom’s strength. Not just the emotional strength that it took her to move on from the trauma of polio and the years in the hospital, but her physical strength. Even though I remember as a kid mom walking everywhere – through the mall, the grocery store, and anywhere else she needed to go – it still blows my mind that mom did most of this trip on her crutches.

Margi’s second letter from Rome part 2

After leaving the shop we went up past the Fountain of Trevi again to see the camera shop where I had left my first film to be developed, 35 of the pictures turned out – I’m going to send you some of the most interesting ones. I just love the camera, you have no idea how dark it was when I took some of these pictures and yet they all turned out!!

We each bought one of the great big doughnuts they sell here and sat down by the fountain to look at the pictures. Trevi is use splendid at night too, because it is all lit up. From here we wandered up some little side streets to look t the many and varied little shops and outdoor stands. They have everything from freshly killed wild boars to every type of spaghetti imaginable. We really confused one little man because we anted to get some Italian wine bottles as souvenirs but he just couldn’t comprehend that we wanted them empty!! Finally by all sorts of gestures, we got our ideas across, leaving the poor man convinced that we were completely crazy.

We later found ourselves in the more expensive part of town where we had all sorts of fun window shopping. We went into a textile store with the firm intention of just looking and ended up being unable to resist the wonderful bargain. They were just closing, but they kept the store open for us and we had all the clerks climbing around the shelves for us. We really were made to feel important. They spoke to us in a weird mixture of English, French, and Italian, just to add to the confusion.

By this time it was 8:30 and we were hungry. We found a restaurant that looked excellent and was recommended in our guidebook. Since we were all broke, we decided to keep everything below 1000 lire (about $1.50) only to get inside and discover this wasn’t the type of restaurant where this could be done. We told the head waiter our problem but he assured us he would do his part to get us some of their good dishes for this price. We ordered one serving of ravioli and told him we would spit that up among the three of us. This was wheeled over to us on a little table. The Maître d’ and 2 waiters bustled around serving us each a great big plate of it, I’m sure it was more than one serving. There we sat in our skirts and sweaters with our two courses surrounded by grand dames in their minks and disdainful stares. The waiters loved us, however, and we got twice as much service as anyone else in the place. When we walked out they were all lined up to say goodnight.

We got lost coming home and at one point ended up at the Parthenon. This is rather spooky at night but I could pretend I was an ancient Roman.

Sunday morning we roamed around our district and went to mass in a little tiny church squeezed in between the buildings. The French Embassy took us on a tour of some of the buildings around their place. A group of us decided to visit the Catacombs in the afternoon. We hopped a bus out of the colosseum where we stopped for a while to watch them making a movie. It was about 19th century so the costumes were very colourful.

From here we bounced along the Appian Way to the catacombs of St. Sebastian. Dr. Knolls was with us and happened to be going to to see the Moses by Michel Angelo so Pat, Gail, and I went with him. This is in the church that has the chains which bound St. Peter. There are 50 million steps leading up to it but the statue was well worth it. On the way back we passed the colosseum and forum all lit up. They are even more beautiful at night. This morning we were taken on a tour of the Vatican museum. The buildings would take years to go through, I’m sure. We saw everything from Ancient Greek works to Renaissance and Baroque.

I had no idea it was so large. Fortunately we had the wheelchair along and I was given many a hair raising ride down the corridors of the Vatican by the boys in our group. My neck is still a little stiff from the Sistine Chapel. I don’t know how Michel Angelo ever did it.

I’ve spent most of the afternoon writing this letter and I’m getting writers cramp. You’ll have to wait until I get home for me to tell the rest of my adventures.

Hope I have some mail when we get back, none for two weeks now

Love to all,

Margi

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Mom’s Tour de France 14 (FGK 105)

Margi’s Second Letter from Rome (part one)

Hello Everyone:

There is so much in Rome – I don’t know where to begin! We went to bed early Friday night to get a good start on Saturday. The director, M Beaucoussin, is such a dear thoughtful man. He rented a wheelchair in Tours, brought it all the way here and wheeled me down to the Vatican in it – because the only way to see Rome is on foot. It was another bright beautiful day and our route took us right along the Tiber. We crossed St. Peter’s square and entered one of the other buildings where the Pope was holding his audience. The doors are all guarded by the Swiss Guards and other ones in what seem to be medieval costumes. The inside is extremely ornate and rich. The room where he had his audience looked just like what you would expect one of the kings courts would look like with all the rich marbles, tapestries, and paintings and brilliant colour of the cardinals, bishops, guards, etc. We stood where we could see all the people entering into the room. With every important person the Swiss Guards snapped to attention and looked very smart. Between times they seemed very relaxed and I saw one got the giggles. The pope came last, surrounded by all sorts of attendants and in robes that just sparkled in the light. It really was an impressive sight but for me it was overshadowed by the magnificence and splendour of St. Peter’s which we entered afterwards. I really can’t describe it. I hope you can get a book and read up on it. We spent almost three hours there and there is just tons we haven’t seen yet. They have works of Michael Angelo and several other important artists. Each has contributed a masterpiece which, when they are all combined, just overwhelm one. Dr. Knolls, our history professor who is just like a father to the whole group, filled us in about much of the church’s past, making it even more interesting. We took an elevator up to the top where we got a wonderful view of St. Peter’s square. Ray and Gail went right up to the top of the dome while I wandered around the roof. We also visited the treasure. This is just a fantastic collection of all the gifts and offerings which have been made to the Church by various countries and monarchs etc. It was difficult to believe that there could be such enormous emeralds, amethysts, diamonds, all together in one place. It was a scene straight out of Arabian Knights. We spent so long at St. Peter’s we barely had time to rush back to one of the enormous Italian lunches they serve us here. I have never had so much pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, etc. It all tastes twice as good too – probably because we are eating it in Rome. All the Italians have a siesta in the afternoon and the town starts to come alive again between four and five. This is a delightful custom we have picked up too, so that’s how we spent Saturday afternoon until four. Gail, Pat, and I decided it was time we did some Christmas shopping so we wandered forth into the streets again. Shopping is a real art here because in Italy any tourist is fair game and each shop has a different price. In many places only by bargaining furiously with the shopkeeper one can get even a reasonable price. Pat was looking for some silk so we bartered in various textile shops along the way. It was nearing the hour with all Italians come out to walk or go home from work and the streets were thronged with all sorts of fascinating people. Rome, like Paris, is an international city and all types of people are found there. We spent about one hour in one little store where I spent $20.00 getting gifts – needless to say I walked out feeling rather ill. If anyone has some special thing they want me to get while I’m in Europe, I’ll be glad to so so if they’ll send me the money. They’ll me what they want, otherwise this souvenir buying can really rack up, especially when we have living expenses too.

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Mom’s Tour de France 13 (FGK 104)

In 2009 a bunch of us were fortunate enough to go to Rome to see my cousin get married. Large as the city is, it seemed as though every time we turned a corner we bumped into a Copithorne, which made our sightseeing days pretty damn enjoyable as we always had someone to share them with. I loved that trip, and I’m so grateful that mom and dad were in good enough health to fully enjoy the trip too. The wedding was amazing, the food was outstanding, and the place was unbelievably spectacular. I hope to get back again someday soon.

Rome, November 25th 1960.

Dear Everyone:

Well – I made it at last! You know how I’ve always wanted to see Rome. We left Tours at 2am Thursday morning and arrived here at 5:30 this morning. I had sleepers for both nights so didn’t get too tired. There was some snow in the Alps – it reminded me of home, only there are fortresses along the passes instead of the wild kind of nature that’s in the Rockies. There were two busses to meet us at the train. They took us past all sorts of fascinating monuments to our hostel which is run by some monks and is a block away from the Tiber. A great big breakfast was served and then we were let loose on the town. Gail, Pat, Ruth and I walked along the Tiber for a way and then turned off up a street which led past some sunken ruins of Republican temples. There were all sorts of cats prowling around the broken columns and statues. I tried to take some pictures but don’t think the film was set right. We then wandered to the central church for the Jesuit Order. It is a magnificent example of baroque art. The marble had designs in it made of different colours of rock, and the paintings on the ceiling were well worth a stiff neck. The streets of Rome have no rhyme or reason. They just twist back and forth or else end abruptly at a fountain or a church. Every time you turn a corner you don’t know whether you are going to run into some old Roman theatre or a church. It makes one feel so very ignorant because it seems as though the whole wealth of western civilization is displayed here like a historical pageant. I never realized there was so much history I didn’t know about – and I never thought I’d see the day when I thought a building dating from the 8th century was relatively recent! After we came out of the Jesuit church Gail and Ruth lingered in a little shop while Pat and I strolled a little farther on, planning to meet them later. I wanted to see the fountain of Trevi first thing (remember the movie?) so we went to find the right street. When we went back to get Gail and Ruth they were gone so we decided to go on. We asked an Italian policeman for directions and boldly set off – not sure whether or not we had really understood the Italian. After we turned innumerable corners and gone up some little side streets we decided it was time we got our bearings again. We saw a priest standing on the steps of a church so I said, “Oh, let’s ask him, priests are very well educated so he’s bound to know French or English!” He had already seen us so we went up and hardly got our mouths open when he said: “You speak English?” We were immediately relieved and started to speak in very slow careful English – imagine our embarrassment when he answered us fluently. Then Pat asked him if he was Italian. He gave a start and said “Aye n’ if I had any Italian blood in me I’d give it back to them! I guess I haven’t been puttin’ on me brogue enough!” His face just overflowed with mischief. If I’d given it a second thought I’d have guessed he was Irish – and after we heard him talk a bit we knew!! When we asked him where the fountain was he insisted on taking us there because he had a few minutes of spare time and it wasn’t far away. As we were walking along we found out that he is a student at a school here for fellows who are going through to be priests. Classes let out while we were there and we met ones from the US, Canada, and Germany. They are there from all over. When we got to the fountain, Jon (that’s his name) offered to take our picture in front of it. That got me to explaining how I have this gorgeous camera and don’t really know how to use it. I had two pictures left on the film so Jon took those of us and offered to take us to a camera shop where I could get the film changed. We didn’t have any Italian liras so he said he’d take us to a place where we could get our money changed. We said “Oh no,” we didn’t want to take up more of his time since he’d already spent about half an hour with us. Then he told us he was already late for class by 15 minutes, that he might as well cut the whole thing and that while his Superior might not understand he was sure God would! So we proceeded to have a guided tour. Jon told us the best Italian foods to buy and the cheapest places to get it. I got a slide film put in my camera and had my travellers cheque changed into Italian money because you get 20% off here for cashing travellers cheques in stores.

After we left the American Express we went to the Spanish Steps. By this time it was almost noon and Joe had to leave us, after giving us careful directions for our way back. We got hopelessly lost and finally had to take a taxi in order to get back to the villa in time for lunch. After the meal the whole group went off in busses for a general tour of Rome. We saw so much it’s just impossible to name it all. We went through an old quarter where they say the people who live there are now the same (type) as those who were there during the time of Caesar. This road led to the top of one of the seven hills of Rome. Here we had a magnificent view of the entire city spread out before us. St. Peter’s was the next stop – we just saw the outside as this trip was just to get a general idea of the city. We went past all sorts of Pope’s palaces and Emperor’s tombs and ended up at the stadium where they had the olympics last summer. It is by these buildings that Mussolini was going to make into a second forum. There is still a big monument there with his name on it. We stopped in the Park Borghese overlooking the Plaza do Puopolo. This gave another view of the city. Several countries have their Academics in the park there and there are all sorts of ponds etc scattered through the trees. It was here that I saw my first Punch and Judy show – only it was in Italian. when we were going by the monument Emmanuel 11 on our way to the Colosseum we met some kids from Stanford in Italy so they came along on the tour with us. We went out a little on the Oppian way and followed the old wall of Rome until we came to a freeway which went right under the gates. We also passed the place where they used to have their chariot races. By the time we started home it was evening and we could see the sunset over the city. Tomorrow we are going to the Vatican and will have a chance to see the Pope. Pat and Ruth came with us as we wandered down some back streets tonight to a little pizza place which had been recommended to us. I burnt my tongue on a pizza, but it was just delicious. We also had some Italian pastries which were also yummy. I wish I could send some of those dishes home to you, they are so much fun to try.

It’s now 9pm – and I’ve spent an hour writing this letter. There is just so much to say I can’t get it all down on paper I think I’ll go to bed instead.

I’m going back to the fountain of Trevi before I leave, so I’ll throw a coin in for you all.

Love,

Margi

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Mom’s Tour de France 7 (FGK 98)

October 16, Tours, France

Hi Everyone:

It hardly seems a month since I left. So much has happened to me since then that it seems longer. Perhaps if you are still getting the New York Times you saw that we had our opening last week. Saturday afternoon there was a ceremony in the town hall. All the local dignitaries were there plus the US Ambassador, President Stirling, and representatives of the French Government. There was an academic procession and many long flowery speeches in French most of which I couldn’t understand.

After this we had a reception at the Centre at which we students were the hosts. It was my first cocktail party in French and after 3 hours of standing and talking to all sorts of people I thought I’d never be able to speak the language again. We served champagne and some of those divine pastries. It was 10 pm before all the guests left and we students were able to go and have some dinner at the restaurant next door. We had steak and beans for 60 cents which is quite good.

I wish you could have seen the Centre on Opening Day. There were French and American Flags on the balconies and two big flag poles with them cut in front. The lobby was full of flowers and we shipped all our rooms in shape for open house. Everyone was quite impressed with it, as am I. Do you realize that we have maid service – and even if I attempt to make my bed she rips it apart later and makes it again. Needless to say, I don’t argue with her. Maybe I told you this, but I can’t get over it.

Last Sunday morning we went to a little Protestant church nearby. The service was all in French – it seemed quite different when we were singing the hymns. It was raining so we spent the afternoon studying etc.

One afternoon last week when it was clear and very crisp outside I stopped on my way back from downtown at a little stand on the sidewalk. It is run by two old women who are just ancient but they are ably aided by a yellow mutt who guards them faithfully. It is just around the corner from the Centre so we all say “Bonjour” now when we go there for the candies and fruit that they sell. This day they were roasting chestnuts and I couldn’t resist the smell as I was going by. I bought some and Gail and I had them in our room that afternoon. If you ever get a chance you should try them, they are just divine.

I went and got a French haircut Friday. It was really exciting because I didn’t know how to tell them what I wanted. By the time I left I had quite a language lesson because they were very talkative and friendly and insisted on writing out all the phrases for me to remember. They even told me how to get my skirts shortened as they are all about 2 inches too long. A haircut, shampoo, styling and set costs $2.00 here. There are no bargains in clothes that I can see in France except gloves.

Yesterday Gail and I went to the flower market which is set up Wednesday and Saturday. Stalls of flowers are set up in the market place and you can walk along just to look or to buy. We finally ended up getting a small bouquet and a pansy for our balcony. It was fun to talk to the people and see all different types of flowers. In the afternoon one of the girls here who has a car took us out to see the country house of Balzac. It was so good to be out in the country because the surroundings here are just inconceivably lovey. I wish I had a camera to show you some of the views we passed. There was a quaint old bridge on a peaceful stream with an old water wheel and I’ll a little ways away with a thatched cottage beside the stream. In some places we saw the peasants farmyards. They have the wine in caves in the hills and ins one places I think they live in the caves because we saw chimneys sticking out of the hills, with doors leading into the cliff. I would love to have gone into some of these places but we don’t really know enough French to make sense to the people yet. We stole some apples off a tree by the road. I felt guilty because I know how some poor farmer feels but they tasted awfully good!

Since we were spending the whole weekend here, two French girls took us for a ride out to a chateau this afternoon. Gail and I talked in French to them all afternoon – or tried to – but at times we had trouble making each other understood. Catherine de Medici furnished all of the rooms of the chateau. It had been restored to a great extent and was very interesting. One floor was brought from Florence – we were afraid to walk on it, it was so ornate. It was on top of a hill with a moat around it. There was a date by the draw bridge which was 1551. The view was splendid because we could see miles up and down the Loire. There is so much to see here that is new and different, I just can’t assimilate it all.

Gail and I have both been feeling fine – all the kids from California have been dying in this cool weather we have been having. They don’t mind it as long as the sun is shining but they can’t feature clouds all winter. I think the weather is a lot nicer than what I’ve heard it was going to be like. The towns are cleaner than I was led to believe also. Sometimes we go down the quaint old back streets which are wide enough for one car only and even they are clean – except that the buildings are so very old.

Guess what? I’ve signed up for. Course in French cooking!! We haven’t’ started anything yet but I can hardly wait to see what it’s like.

Margi Copithorne

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Mom’s Tour de France 6 (FGK 97)

Several things about this letter make me emotional. First of all, it’s shocking to realize how much happened to mom in those teen years – at 11 being in the hospital (well really she was still 10 but a month or so from being 11), all of those years spent wondering if she would survive the effects of polio, praying for her to sit up or be able to walk again. Then off to boarding school in Florida before attending Stanford – and then off to France. There are also little details in her letter that fascinate me. When mom says they were up at 4am to explore for the day, I wonder how she got ready. Even when I was a child and mom was stronger and more agile, getting dressed took her a couple of hours. She had to put on a back brace that had various layers and many snaps and straps, then she had her leg brace to navigate as well. Mom didn’t complain about it, but getting ready every day was almost a full day event for her as she got older. Then there’s the accessibility issue. As a child I remember going places with mom and there were no such things as automatic doors, and many places had steps to get in – all of this took mom extra work to navigate. Some of those heavy doors she couldn’t get through without someone there to hold the door for her. I had to do a short stint on crutches when I was younger and I was shocked at how frigging tiring it is to haul yourself around on them. I’m struck by her courage, and also the kindness of her friends travelling with her.

This letter was written October 6th, 1960 (Margie’s birthday)

I just got back from a marvellous birthday party which my friends have sprung as a surprise – and it really was!! They called me down to Ruth and Patti’s room and when I walked in there was the most fantastic cake I have ever seen plus a big sign on the wall saying “Bon Anniversaire.” Then they all sang “Happy Birthday” in French. The cake was an enormous French pastry with “Bon Anniversaire Margi” written on it. This involved a problem as far as cutting was concerned but it all disappeared within a few minutes. French pastry is really just out of this world. Gail gave me the most darling French poodle for my bed which was looking very bare with nothing on it. Pat and Ruth gave me a big potted plant for our balcony. Margi and Rosemary gave me some candles and Penny and Kathy gave me some more French pastry and some lipstick (the colour all the French girls have been wearing).

I left off my first letter when we decided to go to Paris last weekend. Friday morning we had lectures until noon about how to adjust to French life, get along with the people etc. At noon we were free to go and catch the first train to Paris – something I’ve waited for so many years to do that I couldn’t believe it was happening. We stayed on the left Bank which is the student section. We were too tired Friday nite to do anything but walk around a bit, see the Louvre illuminated and go to bed. We got up at 4am Saturday morning to go to Les Halles which is the great vegetable market of Paris. We walked around all the Halls while the people taught us the name of the food in French and gave us some grapes. We then went and had the most delicious onion soup I have ever stated at a little restaurant. The soups they have here are out of this world. After this we went back and slept until 10am when we went to take in such things as the Toulaires, La Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower etc etc. We sat down at a sidewalk cafe and had a cup of tea on the Champs Élysées. Gail and Ruth and I bought a piece of French bread, some cheese and an apple and sat down on the banks of the Siene in front of Le Louvre to eat our lunch. It was so much fun just sitting and watching the people and boats that we spent an hour and a half there. After this we wandered through the gardens around the Louvre and back to our rooms to go to bed early. Sunday we caught the Metro to the Ile de la Cite to attend Mass at Notre Dame. None of us were Catholic so we decided this wouldn’t be polite so we went in a little bit but spent most of the time walking around outside. We then caught a bus to the Louvre – it would take a lifetime to go through it but I saw the Mona LIsa and several other masterpieces. I would like to spend the weekend there – I hope it isn’t too long before we go again. Paris is absolutely charming. What I enjoyed most was not the tourist spots but the more out of the way places like the quasi of the Siene and the parts of the Left Bank. I miss my car needless to say, because there are so many parts of this fabulous country I want to see. Not only is Paris full of fascinating things, but just going through the countryside is an experience. I’m starting to get some friends among the French students now which is fun because they don’t talk English. I never realized how poor my French was before!! This is certainly an incentive to work on it. We have really had a lot of work piled on us for the past two days I’ve been locked in the library back in the old routine.

Margi Copithorne

Stanford in France

Place Anatole France

Tours, Indre et Louvre

France

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Mom’s Tour de France 5 (FGK 96)

September 27, 1960

Bonjour:

Nous sommes en France!! I can hardly believe it!! After an all night trip on the bus from Le Havre we reached Tours at 6:00am.

When we saw the building we were just stunned. It’s fabulous beyond dreams. Everything about Tours is so thrilling I am in a state of delirium most of the time. There were 70 workmen working on the building the day before we came and when we arrived they had it almost to perfection. It is a brand new building – some rooms aren’t painted yet. Each room has a balcony, a bathroom which is enormous (a tub), closets and two beds and a table with chairs. Every bed had a bouquet of flowers beside it with a card from the people welcoming us. On one side we look across to the park filled with flowers to the river, and on the other side of which are old churches and houses peeping through the leaves which are barely staring to turn. On the other side there is a park which is still under construction.

Gail and I slept most of yesterday and then got up to go to dinner at the French University. We ate with four French boys at our table. I’m sure they knew English, but we tried to do all our talking in French. We made all sorts of mistakes and at times had to resort to English to make ourselves understood. One boy was particularly helpful we thought. He was either Russian or studying Russian (both of us missed that sentence) – and tried to explain words to us. When we left we asked him to tell us how to say – “it is nice do meet you.” – and he said “Oh this is very important, I’ll write it down for you,” so he did and we walked back memorizing it. Just for fun, we decided to look it up in the dictionary and found out he had told us to say – “I am Scotch!!” We laughed for hours.

Gail and I took an interesting walk this morning through some of the streets of the town. The stores are fascinating but it doesn’t seem to me that the prices are much cheaper. I think this is a tourist trap.

This afternoon some French students are taking us on a tour of the town. We hope to go out to some of the chateaux this week also.

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Mom’s Tour de France -2 (FGK 93)

I recall having a conversation with mom when I was an adult where she said something like “you have to remember, I’m essentially a paraplegic” and it completely threw me. Although I knew she’d lost use of her stomach, back, right leg, and most of her left leg muscles due to polio I was so used to seeing her marching around on those crutches it was easy to forget how fragile she was. I was fortunate enough to have taken a 3 day cruise several years ago (ironically to Nassau – which mom references), and navigating the movement of the ship and the small quarters of the cabin was challenging at times – I can’t imagine doing all of that on crutches like mom did. If she fell it was a big deal, she needed help to get back up and often medical assistance as well. It astounds me how brave she was, and how brave my grandparents were because it must have been incredibly frightening knowing their baby was travelling by ship to another part of the world.

We’ve jumped several years from the letters in the hospital, but still it’s amazing how relatively quickly mom went from the letter sent by Grandma asking her if she thought she’d be able to sit up in bed, or be able to learn to walk on her crutches, to letters being sent by mom on her way to Europe to study. No wonder Grandma wanted to let the community know how well mom was doing, they’d all spent years praying for her to get better. While it wasn’t perhaps the full recovery that they’d hoped for, mom was really living an extraordinary life.

Margie left Calgary on September 13, by plane to join her fellow students at San Francisco and fly by jet to New York to catch their boat to sail to France.

Ahoy there:

I am out on the deck sun-bathing and trying to keep my stomach in one place. Why, oh why didn’t I pack my sea-sick pills. We have finally hit upon a cure – always keep something in your stomach, this is very fattening, but it helps.

I wish you could see the “Asconia’ (our ship). I don’t know where they got the pictures for the folder “Burnett’s” gave me but it wasn’t this ship. Actually it has quite a history. It was sunk during the war and remained at the bottom of the ocean for ten years. An Italian company bought it – dragged it up, and fitted it out as a student ship.

There are six girls in my cabin, all going to Tours. The room is about the same size as the one we had in Nassau (very small) and we are all jammed in there with six months of luggage. We take turns dressing.

The crew is just charming. They are all very Italian and when they get excited their gestures and expressions are something to see. Their English is not so good and my Italian is worse so as a result our conversation consists of a little bit of each. The steward and maid for our room are very mischievous and love to play tricks on us. One day we came in and discovered a pair of pyjamas stuffed with a face on it posed to represent one of us when we are sick. They have a terrible time getting us out of bed in the morning as everyone wants to sleep until noon. Gail and I have a French lesson at 9:15 am so we at least have to get up for that. There is always something to do on the ship – language classes, discussion groups, folk singing and dancing, art and music groups, card games, etc, etc. There are students from all over Europe and America on board. I haven’t met very many French students yet, but we have some Swiss girls at our table who are lots of fun and very interesting.

Last night we went to a movie which wasn’t very good at all but the comments made during the show made it hilarious.

They serve a midnight snack of pizza so we decided to go and try it. We had six pieces each!! It was delicious but if we continue this way we won’t be able to waddle off the boat. The meals here are something to behold. I haven’t made it for breakfast yet, but there are a few who say it has everything. Lunch and dinner are both huge. There is always a big dish of hors d’oeuvres and pizza and spaghetti are a must. After all this plus a soup and a salad comes the main meal. Dessert is always some gooey confection which breaks your heart to turn down. Ormando, our waiter, takes great pride in the meals and is just crushed when we turn something down.

This morning in our French class I had to tel them all about Canada, en français. We try to talk French as much as possible in our cabin. I can understand the Americans when they speak French but I can’t understand the French.

Yesterday we attended a discussion on Algeria. There were some French and a Moroccan and Algerian speaking. Feelings really ran high and it turned out to be a very hot discussion. I gained a lot of insight into the problem by seeing how strongly they felt about it. There are so many nationalities abroad, we can get quite a variety of ideas. I’ve found out I’ve had many mistaken concepts of their countries, but on the other hand, they have some odd ideas about America too.

Gail is up learning Swedish. She is part Swedish, so she takes quite an interest in it. I was really lucky to get such a wonderful roommate. She’s the type of person who gets to know others easily and is always in a good mood. She’s always helping me and doing things for me. She’s going to be fun to travel with because she’s always full of energy and eager to see everything.

I’m sitting in the ballroom writing this, there are countless games of bridge going on with a piano at one end and a record player at the other. No one can really hear what the other people are saying.

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Indra’s Net

I woke up at 3am today. Lately I’ve been doing lots of waking up at 3am which means I must be hella stressed. Usually though when I wake up in the middle of the night I lie there and stress about the problems of the world, while lately I just lie there and think about God and where I fit in the universe. Much lighter thinking haha.

This morning (is 3am morning? I feel like it’s still deep night time, or when I was younger it was time to come home) I woke up to a vision of Indra’s Net. Perhaps I’ve been feeling very disconnected lately. I think Covid has a lot of us feeling disconnected and confused. Alberta in particular seems to be filled with anger, confusion, and chaos as we are being divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. While I am one of the vaccinated, and strongly believe in it, I don’t like how we are fighting with each other when we would do better to work together.

So anyway, with that I’m feeling a bit separated and confused and waking up to the image of Indra’s Net was kind of perfect.

Indra’s Net is a spider like net that spreads infinitely in all directions. In each “eye” of the net, or where the threads join together, there is a beautiful jewel. Each brilliant jewel reflects every other jewel, which are infinite in number, and every reflected image holds the image of all the other jewels. Infinity to infinity, whatever affects one jewel affects them all. Everything contains everything else, but at the same time every individual jewel is not hindered or confused by the other jewels.

I love this idea because I often get hindered or confused by the other jewels.

In his book Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977), Francis Dojun Cook wrote,

“Thus each individual is at once the cause for the whole and is caused by the whole, and what is called existence is a vast body made up of an infinity of individuals all sustaining each other and defining each other. The cosmos is, in short, a self-creating, self-maintaining, and self-defining organism.” (Source here)

Instead of thinking that everything is part of a larger, collective whole, the idea is that everyone is the larger, collective whole, but also simply themselves at the same time.

I find this idea so completely abstract that it actually makes perfect sense to me. And I love the way it allows me to see how we are all connected. What affects one of us affects all of us. We are one being working together, but we are also our individual selves with the freedom to choose who and how we are. Some people I find it easy, and a beautiful privilege to think of being connected with, and some make me want to cut their jewel out of my beautiful web. The challenging ones are probably the most important ones as they probably reflect some unhealed aspect of myself. If their behaviours didn’t trigger something in me, who they are and what they do wouldn’t bother me and so I know there is more internal work for me to do in those areas.

Hopefully the 3am wake up time comes to an end soon, but until it does I find gratitude in the comforting thoughts that are coming to me during this time.

Namaste.

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happiness

Faith in Divine Healing (FGK 90)

I’m back!!! I decided to take a week long social media break, which turned into two weeks, and then over three weeks. It was kind of nice to cut the noise for a little bit, but I’m finding that since we aren’t socializing much (at all really) that I miss hearing what is going on with the people I care about.

I found today’s letter to be quite timely as I’ve been really seeking my connection to God in these last few months. God and I have had kind of a bumpy road (well, I have – I am pretty sure God’s road stays the same but I keep looking at other paths) and I’ve felt the need to deepen and better understand that relationship. I had the most wonderful Pastor in Virginia who really helped me see God differently. Not that she used different words, but she had this amazing relationship with God that made me curious. And once I started praying there, things started changing and happening in ways that I could not explain – so I’ve decided they must be God’s miracles showing up in my life.

As I’m reading these letters I’m understanding better the deep faith that my grandparents and my parents had with God and in their lives.

Friday Morning – Jenkins Breakfast on Radio

Dear Margie

The breakfast dishes are not done yet so I must hustle- it really keeps me hopping. This deep snow is sure causing Dad lots of grief. 4 little calves came last night, had to take the Jeep up to the field to bring them down, had frozen ears etc.

Last Monday Mary and George quit Nichols and came over so we had to dash around and tear down Marshall’s bed and get things ready for them. I gave them your dresser to take up to the valley. Marsh has Sheila’s bed now. Don’t know when we’ll get around to getting your bedroom suite. I put the little green table in your room where the dresser was and put all your clothes etc from the dresser in Sheila’s big trunk.

When Frank and Georgie were down Sunday night, Georgie said that when her mother was so sick a few years ago Charlie Coolie wrote to her like he did to us and Aunt Georgie really believes in Divine healing. She said her brother-in-law Mr. Costello had cancer and just made up his mind he wasn’t going to have it. He is Catholic, he used to get up early, early in the morning and go down to the church and pray for hours and he just cured himself that way, then he prayed for success in business and he sure is a wealthy man now – owns so much property and takes two long trips each year. I sure get a lot of inspiration from the Unity papers etc. Hope you read them regularly, they guide me so much and are food for the soul.

It must be hard to not ever have any privacy in there, but it is also nice to have company.

I wrote to Annie and Girlie last night and to Casino Carnival and put your name on it, so if you win $600 don’t be surprised. And I wrote to the radio programme so don’t forget to listen Sunday.

Smokey hasn’t been out hardly at all since it snowed and boy is he ever wild – just like a silly little kitten all the time!.

Well I must get to work now, will see you on Sunday eh? Hope to see you sitting up one of these days soon – think it’s possible?

I’m going to town this afternoon, have a hair appointment at the Bay.

Millie there always asks how you are.

Lots and lots of love

Mom xxxxxxx

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