Friday, November 28, 2008

A Trip to Kinsgston, ON

On Wednesday I decided a bit of travel around the area was in order. On tap was a visit to Kingston, Ontario and the Maritime Museum located there. Rather than take the four laner, I decided to travel via the Loyalist Parkway -- a route that gave me the opportunity to ride the Glenora Ferry.

According to the local archives, the Glenora Ferry has long been one of the lifelines of Prince Edward County. Glenora itself became the heart of community and industry, and Van Alstine's mill (site of the ferry) was often the first view of the County for early settlers. Through the years, several people managed the vital ferry link with the mainland, until it became a government-operated, 24-hour, year round service in recent years. This in-depth article examines the roots of the Glenora Ferry. --

The Loyalist Parkway follows the course of Loyalist settlement which commenced in 1784 following the American Revolution. The history guide provides the following information:

The Loyalists
Following the American Revolution of 1776, individuals who had supported Britain or had wished to remain neutral on religious and ethical grounds were persecuted, deprived of property and often their lives. Survivors fled to areas of British protection around the globe. Those who had fought with the British joined the exodus. The first legal British settlement in Canada other than military establishments took place in western Quebec and what is now eastern Ontario. The settlers were made up of soldiers from volunteer regiments , European mercenaries and civilians. Many were from lower New York State and the Mohawk Valley and included many Mohawk Indians. They suffered terribly from cold, starvation and disease but persevered to become major participants in the formation of Ontario and ultimately Canada. The Loyalist Parkway is a commemoration of their loyalty and determination.

I packed a lunch, loaded the GPS with my destination address, and took off.

The ferry was my first stop. The ride was short. Had I listened to the voice from inside my GPS it would have been even shorter as it advised me to leave the ferry about half way across the channel. Being a geek but not a slave to technology, I ignored the voice and stayed put until the ferry had docked and the gate had been opened.

The drive north was uneventful and not too informative as all the historic signs were covered with snow. The Maritime Museum looked promising but it when I got inside I learned it was closed for the season. After snapping a few pictures and talking a quick walk around the neighborhood and area park, I asked the GPS what other historic sites were nearby. Fort Henry topped the list so I headed off to my new destination.

By now it was really snowing and the wind was brisk. The weather was noticeably worse on top of the land spit that is the site of Fort Henry. Closed for the season was the message on the parking lot sign. Still, I was there and determined to see something. Up the hill I went. Big fort. Through the big gate to the inside of the big fort. Snapped one picture and a big guy asked if he could "help me." Just checking out the fort, I said. $5.00 said he. Bye, said I.

Back to Picton and Camp Ability. The closer I got, the less snow until everything was just wet.

Photos of the day can be viewed at

The photos above are stock pictures of Fort Henry and the ferry, both in summer.

More history on the loyalist can be found at

Thanks for joining me on my travels.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whitefish and Walks

Sixth in a Series --

The weekend was quiet with a number of families visiting friends or going home for a couple of days.

With the beginning of our second week we've got an established routine of breakfast, HBOT, lunch, PT, HBOT, dinner, chores, walk, email, reading. Broken up into this many chunks, the day goes by quickly.

One of the adult stroke victims had to leave yesterday due to a leg injury she sustained on her trip here. She and her daughter hoped it would improve but it didn't and a trip to the local hospital didn't help so they headed home. Both were very disappointed.

I've walked the roads in most directions. Nice countryside with sparse traffic. The one time I went back to the lake it was much colder and the ice made for treacherous going. I ran into some fishermen heading out to catch whitefish. The one told me they usually were out at daybreak but it had been too cold that morning so they waited until mid-morning.`

A web site on Ontario fishing provides the following description: "Quite possibly one of the most overlooked fish in many Ontario lakes is the Whitefish. Known as a hard fighter the Whitefish is quite popular among those who ice fish. Abundant in deeper lakes they are also popular table fare. In smaller sizes they are food for many larger predators but adult Whitefish provide anglers with excellent action as their average size ranges from 4 to 12 pounds. Olive green in colour they are known for silver sides and large scales with a narrow mouth."The picture of the whitefish included in this post shows the tackle used in ice fishing. Additional information can be found at

A walk down the road away from the lake takes me past a farm and a winery, both of which are scenic. Much of the uncultivated countryside looks like overgrown Christmas tree farms. When I asked about this, I was told that this area was basically clear cut at least twice by the British who used the timber for ship building and other construction needs. The man who operates the chamber told us that for a number of years he had earned his living salvaging large logs from area rivers and Lake Ontario where they had sunk while being floated to transport ships.

Even absent mature woodlots, the residents use a lot of trees. Most houses have a wood stove chimney and wood piles to fuel them and the fences that line the roads and fields are fashioned out of tree trunks.

An album of photos taken during my walks can be viewed on Picasa --

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meet Eugenie Forsyth

Fifth in a Series --

First -- a quick follow up on the meteor shower. We missed it by a day. Some astronomers we are, aye?

We have met most of the folks who are also here for these three weeks. One of the families, Angela Richard and her daughter Eugenie (You-jah-knee) Forsyth are here for a ten week program of therapy. Here's an excerpt from the web site created by Eugenie's mother --

"Eugenie had birth complications and was asphyxiated at birth, resulting in brain damage. She has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, as well as a seizure disorder. She has Global Developmental Delay. Eugenie cannot walk or talk, nor can she feed herself. But she is the happiest, most inspiring kid, and she never ceases to amaze me. She spreads sunshine wherever she goes, and everyone she meets becomes her friend. Eugenie has a lot to teach us."

Eugenie and her mother made their first visit to Ability Camp 2 ½ years ago and since then have spent 30 weeks in total in therapy at the facility. Eugenie has learned to sit, stand, walk (with assistance) with a Kaye Walker, feed herself (with assistance), and has gained strength, stability, balance, stamina and motivation.

Her mother has developed fund-raising projects to help defray the expense of the therapy as the cost is borne by the family rather than insurance. Last year she raised $17,000 to pay for a ten week session and hopes to achieve the same goal this year.

Angela is high energy and completely dedicated to doing everything possible to maximize Eugenie's development and her world is fueled by hope and a belief in endless possibility.

* * * *

I've overheard several of the families talking about their decision to participate in stem cell therapy. One of the adults who is here has been to Cologne, Germany, for two such treatments. Bone marrow is extracted from the patient's hip, the stem cells are precipitated out and then are injected back into the patient, usually via spinal cord. You can learn more at One of the children has been to China for stem cell treatment. The cost for the treatment alone ranges from $20K to $40K, with travel and housing all additional. Even though the procedure utilizes the patient's own cells and is thus outside the scope of the fetal stem cell argument, the treatment is unavailable in the U.S. except through admission to clinical trials which are very limited.

Is it effective? Anecdotal reports are positive but the scientific community has yet to fully endorse the therapy. You can read more at but remember that the web site is designed to market the therapy.

* * * *

We had about three inches of snow yesterday. Nights are cold but during the day the temperature hovers right around freezing.

I'm surprised that tomorrow it will already be a week since we began our adventure.

Talk to you again, soon.

Fourth of a Series --

The north shore of Lake Ontario is at the end of Brewers Road, about a half hour walk down the road from the Ability Camp. The area is slightly east of the southernmost point of the Canadian landmass that projects into Lake Ontario in the above satellite photo.

Small cabins, most spaced well apart from one another, are located along the shore.

I had the place to myself during the 2 hours I was in the area although I did see the tracks of a two wheeler and of a big dog.

Hector, our German Shepherd Dog, would have had a blast while Elvis, our Standard Poodle, would have been happy to observe. : - )

You can find an album photos at

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Work Begins

Third of a Series --

Yesterday (Monday) was our first program day. The kids start early and the place is filled with activity. Six are here for the conductive education
and HBOT and 2 or 3 of them have siblings who are here with the parent(s). It's odd to be around this many school age children and hear only nonsensical (to the untrained ear of a non-caregiver) babbling. For the caregiver, it can be rich in meaning. (I plan to learn more about cerebral palsy so I have some context for what I see here.)

Terry's schedule started with a session in the hyperbaric chamber and I went along for the experience. The entire procedure is referred to as if it were a nautical dive. With six adults inside, three with oxygen hoods, the chamber was full. Through one of the port holes, you could see a movie screen. A small speaker screeched out the audio track to the film at a decibel level that was painful. As the pressure increased, the sensation was the same you feel during an airplane takeoff. I'd also note that, crowded as it was, we had substantially more leg room in the chamber than if we were on an airplane. : - ) Once the chamber reached the desired pressure (1.6 atmospheres), oxygen hoods were put in place and pressure was maintained an hour, then depressurized over a 10 minute period. After a very quick lunch the conductive education session started. Photos of the CE classroom are included with this post.

I promised more detail about this and an overview of the process follows. If you want LOTS of detail, follow this link --

Here's the overview:

Conductive Education (CE) is a form of special education and rehabilitation for children and adults with motor disorders. It is appropriate for conditions where disease or damage to the central nervous system affects a person's ability to control movement.

It teaches individuals with physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, dyspraxia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke and head injury how to overcome their movement problems to lead more independent, dignified and fulfilled lives.

Conductive Education as the name suggests, is an educational approach. Its aim is to help individuals with motor disorders to overcome problems of movement as a way of enabling them to live more active and independent lives. In addition to improvements in bodily control, adult service-users and their families frequently report on an increase in confidence, motivation and general well-being. The combination of these can often lead to the successful management of and participation in a wide range of social and personal situations.

The two therapists led the three adult clients through a series of exercises for an hour, gave them a short break, and continued for another hour. If ever you have a day in which you find it difficult to have an attitude of gratitude, spend a day in this kind of setting -- it will put everything in perspective for you. And the real bonus is that at the end of the day, you get to walk out under your own power.

This was Terry's second time so she knew what to expect. The other folks were a little leery, especially when the heard the HBOT dive master refer to the session as boot camp. It was challenging, but not punishing. After the CE session was completed, it was time for another HBOT session. The work day ended about 6:00 P.M.

After supper we went into town to shop for perishables. Perhaps you can appreciate how happy A&P is to see two shoppers like Terry and I walk through their doors. We didn't disappoint them.

Downtown Picton is 8.6 miles from Ability Camp and the area is mostly farmland. When it gets dark, it is dark -- No reflected light from nearby cities or town or street lights. It makes Johnstown look like a metropolis. Tonight (Tuesday) there is supposed to be a meteor shower and the viewing from this location should be excellent. Condition precedent -- we are awake to actually do some viewing.

We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Picton, Ontario

Second of a Series --

Sunday morning brought an end to the rain/sleet/wind and it was a quick trip from Whitby to Picton.

The town has a population of 4000 and sits on the Bay of Quinte.

I was surprised to see an A&P grocery store. My mother shopped at an A&P but they went out of business in the States many years ago.

Chili seemed like a good idea for supper so in to the store I went. It's surprising how many ingredients you need to buy for a chili and cornbread supper if you are starting with a totally bare cupboard. $50.00 Canadian dollars later, I had all the supplies I needed.

We continued south toward Lake Ontario and Camp Ability. Lots of empty countryside. The Camp sits near the road, with no neighbors in site.

Our room took me back to the day I moved into a dormitory at Ohio University. And, just like at OU, way more stuff than space. At least there's a window so we'll have fresh air.

I got busy with the chili while Terry unpacked. I know how to make this stuff blindfolded. Onions, ground round, then in go the tomatoes and kidney beans. Time for the chili powder. To start, I put in half of what I usually use, no knowing Terry's tastes. Stir, taste. OWWWW!!!! It's like I put in cayenne pepper instead of chili powder. Apparently Canadian chili powder is vastly different from what I'm use at home. I added some beef bouillon and another can of tomatoes, put it on to simmer, and crossed my fingers. By I got the cornbread baked and we sat down to eat, the chili had mellowed a tad and was edible. Whew.

It is definitely a community kitchen. At one point there were five of us in there putting dinners together. I imagine breakfast will be a zoo. I plan to stick with yogurt and granola bars and cold cereal.

We've met six other families, so far. There are three adults and six children scheduled for this three week program. I'll introduce them to you as the week goes on.

Terry walked me around the place. You can see the HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen treatment) chamber in the pictures. This therapy is used to try to stimulate under active areas of the brain. Participants are seated in the chamber which is pressurized to 1.5 times the standard atmospheric pressure. Each individual wears a vinyl hood that supplies pure oxygen. The pressure in the chamber allows the bloodstream to carry much higher levels of oxygen throughout the body. And, according to Pennsylvania School of Medicine study, the 40 hour HBOT course of treatment increases by eight-fold the number of stem cells circulating in the body.

The toughest part of this program is the conductive education that is intended to make permanent the improvements realized through the HBOT treatments. I'll save the explanation of that program for tomorrow.

One of the families here (parents and daughter) traveled from Australia -- a trip that took more than 30 hours -- arriving today in the early A.M. hours. The daughter was unable to eat during that entire time. As of 7:00 this evening, she still couldn't keep anything down and the parents were so concerned they called Canada's 911. I'm on call to drive to the local hospital to pick them up if there is no taxi service available. Another adventure!

Today's pictures are posted on Picasa in the album entitled "Ability Camp." Go to

If you read this far, thanks for joining me! And I look forward to sharing tomorrow's events, whatever they may be.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

On The Road Again

First of a Series --

Today was the start of a three week adventure with my niece-in-law, Terry Cipriani. Terry is the wife of Mark Cipriani, Bill's nephew. She is stroke victim three and one-half years into recovery. For the next three weeks she will be in a therapy program offered by "Ability Camp" in Picton, Ontario, and I'll be her companion during that time. They offer hyperbaric oxygen treatment and intensive physical therapy. Terry's first session here produced positive results so she is looking forward to her return visit.

Phase one -- traveling from my house in Johnstown to Terry's in Rocky River -- was problematic. The GMC Envoy started and then wouldn't start and then did and so on. Bill smelled gas and the engine light was on. Apparently we have a gas leak. (Of course, it is leaking the $1.61 gas I was so happy to find for its last fill up!) Rather than catch fire en route, we repacked in waterproof receptacles and loaded the back of the pickup truck.

Rocky River was in the rear view by 2:00 P.M. and we headed east. Hard rain and lots of wind almost the whole way. We did get about ten minutes of clear skies near the OH/PA border. I attribute that to being in close proximity to my sister Cindi's place on the day of her birthday. She must have been sending out great birthday vibes to clear up the rain like that. Thanks, Cin.

The border crossing was uneventful -- just needed to show the passports, purpose of visit, date of return and off we went. The 401 into Toronto is huge -- 24 lanes in some places. And it was slow bumper to bumper at 7:30 at night. It was still busy at 10:30. I'm thinking this place has changed since I visited in 1970 and become the city that doesn't sleep. This place is going on my travel list.

A late pizza dinner was a treat provided by folks who were Mark Cipriani's neighbors during the time his family lived in Toronto -- the Donnelleys and the Prangleys. The two neighbor families and Mark's have maintained close ties over all these years -- something like 40+ years. As nice as these folks are, it is certainly a relationship worth the effort.

Wow, is Canada ahead of the States in the area of recycling. EVERYTHING gets recycled, by EVERYBODY. I don't know what the political persuasions were around the table but the general tenor of the take on the Obama election was positive -- "hopeful" and "relieved" to be moving to a new administration. Folks were willing to give the new guys a chance.

We stopped for the night in Whitby, ON, arriving about 11:00 P.M. The rain is now sleet and the wind blows it pretty much horizontal. Guess Indian Summer is over.

So is this day.

Signing off from that country to the north -- Oh, Canada!