The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

Family Ties

My paternal grandmother was the oldest of 3 children.  All of them were very close and on more than one occassion all shared living quarters well beyond their childhood years.  Gramma and Grampa had 2 children.  My father Ron and my Aunt Barb.  Her sister, my Great-Aunt Eva and her husband my Great- Uncle Jim had one daughter, Joy.  Her brother  my Great-Uncle “Peck” had  3 children, Jerry, Betty and Wendy.

I grew up calling each of them “aunt” or “uncle” out of respect, although technically they were my cousins (except for Aunt Barb who, as my father’s sister was truly my Aunt).

All of them had children too.  As a child I spent most weekends with one or all of those children.  We summered at the cottage and during the winter months we were always at one house or another.  We were all very close.

As adults we have all managed to stay in contact and some of us are still very close.  My Aunt Joy’s kids are more like brothers and sisters to me than they are cousins and now 3 of 4 have children of their own.  

This past week I had the absolute pleasure of spending some time with some of those children, specifically my “pseudo” niece’s Tori, Jackie, Taylor (TJ) and Allison.  Again, as is tradition in my family, each of them call me Aunt Nancy although they are my cousins.  I don’t get to spend alot of time with them,  they are scattered throughout the province, but those times that I do get to see them, make my heart smile.

Each of them have grown into beautiful and awesome young women.  As with my own neices and nephews I can remember the day each of them was born and have countless memories of them growing up.  I hold each of them very close to my heart.

They are all very much alike, being teenagers and such, but also very different.  They look very much alike, and for anyone who knows their family backgrounds can immediately see the family resemblence among them. 

Last summer, TJ, Tori and Jackie were here for a week with their grandmother and my high light of that week was taking them Trout Fishing.  LOL.  Dad, myself and the girls headed to a trout pond and between the giggling, the faux screaming and the sometimes “being bored”  we managed to bring home 3 fairly decent sized fish.  I had told them before we went that the rule was as follows:  You catch them, you clean them.  That worked out very well and the girls, with their gramma’s  help, cleaned their fish.

I was so looking forward to taking them back to the pond this year, however the pond was unavailable so I had to find something else for us to do.   They spent the first half of the week hanging out and seeing some “sights”.  The weatherman was not as co-operative as we all would have liked but said that Thursday was going to be a great day:  sun, no rain (for a change).  Aunt Joy announced that it would be a great day for a picnic at the beach.  And it was.  Craig’s daughter Desiree was visiting also so she joined us.

I have to add  that my father loves spending time with the kids.  He finds them to be delightfully cute and funny (which they are).  So mom, dad, Desiree and I hit the beach with Aunt Joy, Tori, Jackie, Taylor and Allison.

I don’t know how they do it.  The water was so cold .  But the 5 of them spent the majority ofthe morning in the water.  They played frisbee and some other silly games and even though their teeth were chattering they stayed in LOL.  After lunch the younger ones went back into the water while the older girls went off to a sand dune to talk about what older girls talk about (I am guessing it would be about boys LOL).  Around 2:30 mom, dad and Aunt Joy were enjoying a little siesta lakeside and the sun was starting to hide behind some clouds that showed up out of nowhere.  We decided to head home before the rain, but not before making some plans for the weekend.

I had decided tht I would take the girls for the better part of the day on Saturday.  I had a place in mind to show them and when I told them it was an animal sanctuary they were all excited and stoked about going.  About a 45 minute drive from Brighton there is a place called Bergeron’s Exotic Animal Sanctuary.  It is a place that rescues animals from an almost certain death, however it is not an ordinary animal shelter in that the animals it rescues are not the average dog and cat varieties.  Instead, the array of animals leans closer to the Exotic variety.  There are Lions and Tigers and Bears (Oh My!!).  There are cougars, a panther, wolves, a leopard, monkeys, donkeys, goats, a slew of different birds, a parrot, peacocks, chickens, roosters, rabbits, guinea pigs and my most favourite the Patagonia Cavey’s.  A Patagonia Cavey is of the rodent family from South America.  The first time I ever saw one, was at Bergeron’s a couple of summers ago when I visited with Jamie-Lee and Michael.  The cavey’s are adorable – considering they are rats that grow to be upwards of 25 pounds.  If I ever saw a rat that big under normal circumstances I would probably have a heart attack and die, but the cavey’s are just so darn cute that they don’t freak me out like rats do LOL.  This year they even had baby Cavey’s.

Cute baby cavey's

We had an excellent time looking at all the animals and birds.  Jackie and Allison found new friends in the chickens and birds but I think that had to do with the food they had to feed them with.  Tori wanted to bring home a little white bunny that was wondering aimlessly about but then had second thoughts when she saw the big pen that had a lot more bunnies in it LOL.  She wanted them all!!!  TJ was feeling sorry for the bear, as it was all alone.  We had a great time with the animals and the girls all made new friends in the donkey pen.  Not only did they feed them but they also named each of them.  I am not sure what the naming criteria was, but before we left the 4 donkeys all had new monikers.  Jackie wanted to bring a donkey home with her.  I would have agreed, they do live on a horse farm, but somehow I don’t think her parents would have been too happy with me.  LOL

Again, the weatherman was wrong and we left Bergeron’s right before the sky opened and the rain came!  We headed off to Reid’s Dairy for ice cream, a trip we started last year after fishing.  (In fact, I was told by Jackie that we could skip everything else planned for the day and go straight to Reid’s.  Jackie is an ice cream fanatic.  Years ago when she was younger she put a sign on her grandmother’s fridge that says “Jackie Mann loves Ice Cream and will eat it for FREE”.) 

Reid’s Dairy and Ice Cream Parlour is a landmark in this area.  They have been here for over 65 years and it is still family owned and operated.  The ice cream is awesome and comes in a variety of flavours to suit everyone’s tastes.  I see a lot of children with the Cotton Candy flavour, pink with swirls of blue and yellow.  Not one of my favourites but I guess when you are a kid anything that is different is worth trying LOL.  My tastes have evolved since I grew up (I know, that is a point for debate) and I have graduated from the Grape ice cream  to the soft serve vanilla.   In my youth I would always have a cone with two scoops of ice cream.  Now that my eating habits are a lot different I prefer the soft serve.  It doesn’t really matter what flavour you order, they are all so darn good.  Reid’s uses only whole milk and cream  in their ice cream and it is made fresh on the premises.  No freezer burn, no weird freezer “taste”.  And their Chocolate Milk is the best ever!!!!!  When I was sick I practically lived on the chocolate milk.  Even the plain milks have a taste all their own.  I go out of my way to buy Reid’s Dairy products.   They are, by far, a superior product and worth the trip to Belleville to purchase them.

True to her “addiction” little Miss Jackie ordered a large waffle cone with Blueberry Cheesecake  ice cream.  LOL.  There was some discussion on whether she would finish it and by golly if she didn’t.!!!!!  She had a little help from her sister, Tori, but not much. I think Jackie must have a hollow leg or something – the cone was enough to feed all of us but she polished it off like a Pro. LOLOLOL.

After ice cream I took them to the Chocolate Factory  in Campbellford.  Hey, I am the “Aunt” remember – there is nothing better than loading them up on sugar  and sending them home.  But the joke was on me – they were all coming over for a BBQ.  After the ice cream they all had some difficulty deciding what kind of chocolate they wanted but they soon figured it out and with their chocolate purchased we headed home.

We had a great BBQ supper – I still can’t get over how much these girls can pack away LOL.  I think that is one of the things about not having my own kids – I don’t see what they eat on a daily basis.  If I did I would probably pass out from the reality of it all LOL.   I was sorry to see them leave after supper – they had to leave early this morning to go home.  It seemed as though they had only just got here and they were leaving already.  I had such a wonderful time with them – I only hope we can do it again  before the summer is over and they head back to school.

Tori, Allison, Jackie and Taylor

Tori, Allison, Jackie and Taylor

Tori, Jackie, TJ and Allison – please know that I had a great time with you and I love you very much.  You are all growing up to be exceptional young women and I know that you will go far in your lives and make us all very proud!!!!

It was a great week that ended much too quickly. Come back soon girls – I miss you already!!!




(NOTE:   Unfortunately, Joe Bergeron one of the owner’s of Bergeron’s Exotic Animal Sanctuary  died suddenly last Christmas.  Since that time, Bergeron’s has managed to stay open and care for the animals in it’s “stable”. It is easy to see that the current owners (Mrs. Bergeron and family) are having a difficult time maintaining the sanctuary.  It is a non-profit sanctuary and survives on the goodness of stangers to keep up and running.  The big cats alone consume 333 pounds of meat daily.  That is a heck of a lot of meat!!!  The sanctuary relies on donations and volunteers to keep it open. If you would like to learn more about Bergeron’s Exotic Animal Sanctuary and its  animals  please click here. )


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