Chronicles title image
Cottage Diary
Sabbatical, 2004
What's New?
Site Map
Contact me!


So what is this word, “Oxbows,” anyway??

August 14, 2021
Two Canadian Seniors Visit California
A grandparent visit is complicated by a pandemic…

April 29, 2021
I may look old…
The day I turned eighty!

December 31, 2020
2020: The Year in Review
…a reflection on our experiences during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic

October 18, 2020
My Test Results are What!!??
A Public Health nurse called me this afternoon…

October 11, 2020
These Things are Sent to Test Us
… has Heather caught the coronavirus?

September 14-19, 2020
Frost and Cold, Bless Ye The Lord!
...another adventure, camping in the forest… though I’m old, and it’s cold!

June 23, 2020
Still Alive... and Still Kicking
Just to make sure you wouldn’t think that we had fallen off the edge of the earth – or had died of COVID-19... here’s a brief catch-up on Tony and Heather’s life!

October 11, 2019
Life, Death, and More... in Three Short Months
An unfinished saga of some intense months in 2019.

September 9, 2019
Birth Announcement
A notice, with photos, about the birth of our latest grandchild – Weston Green – born in Davis, California, on September 5, 2019.

June 26, 2019
Road 90
...I planned a shortcut... except that I didn’t think of – and certainly didn’t allow for – the Brokenhead River...

May 24, 2019
Wobble, Wobble... Thump!
For no apparent reason, your blogger falls off a bicycle!

December 13, 2018 – January 12, 2019
From Winter to a Tropical Christmas, and Back
A year-end driving trip to California, plus Christmas in Hawaii.  Photo Album included.

August 25, 2018
A Call to 911
Heather and Tony encounter two men engaged in a tense and violent struggle.  Police come.

July 24, 2018
Off the grid... but a brief Internet connection brings in a disturbing and criminal email.

July 1, 2018
Fireworks, Eh!?
... Big Lady, apparently unaware of, or not interested in, the temporary sign, kept insisting we study the regular route numbers.  “Because it’s f***ing Canada Day!”

April 25, 2018
Giving a Lecture on Islam
... it was nice to have refreshed myself in the material, and the session itself went quite well.

January 22, 2018
What to do...?  What to do?
A lot of things needed to be done, by this once-more-retired fellow, and they are listed here.  But, what did he decide to do?  He made this blog entry!

December 11, 2017
Reflecting Upon a Year in Ministry
As I get closer to my last day at St. Mary’s, I wonder, with deep sorrow, whether in thirty years there will be any Anglicans at all in Canada?  Indeed, will there be any Christians?

May – June, 2017
A Grandchild Odyssey
Heather and I go to eastern Canada, and then to California... all because of two grandchildren: one, graduating from university, and the other, being born.
Here are the story’s sections:
    •   To the Cottage... with or without Markus
    •   And then there are the good days...!
    •   Waiting for Roo
    •   So long as one day follows another…
    •   How Grandad has a Baby…

April 3, 2017
A Collection of Half-Time Jobs
A parish, a foundation, an association, and mentoring... plus a miscellany of other responsibilities.

January 22, 2017
Called into Service... Again.
...the Bishop, in his appointment letter, says, “I am appreciative of your willingness to ‘borrow time’ from your retirement and other commitments to help out...”

Summer, 2016, at the Cottage
Lakeside life...
Tranquility in the deep forest, while the madness of the world continues unabated...
The Postcard
... is the traditional postcard, with local pictures, going extinct?

June 6 to 10, 2016
Storm Clouds and Thunderbolts, Glorify the Lord
Should I move my whole setup to another campsite?  I really didn’t have the energy for it...  so I decided to stay put and hope for the best.

May 29, 2016
A Week in the Life of Your Favourite Blogger...
“You have no doubt heard retired people say it: ‘I can’t believe how busy I am!  Good gracious, I’m supposed to be retired!’”

April 26, 2016
The Temporary Lutheran
“The people, though, were really sweet to us, and we grew very fond of them in that short five or six weeks.”

November 18, 2015
Places to Go... Things to Do!
A detailed summary of the events of the late Fall, 2015 – including my son’s fiftieth birthday; producing and performing in a concert with our daughter, Ariel; and a trip with her to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba.

July to September, 2015
Our 2015 Visit to the Lake
– an index of the 2015 Cottage Diary.  This is the summer when I was taken to hospital, and also when Heather and I took a quick trip to California.

May 23, 2015
Letter From a Friend (and my reply)
“Here’s a sampling from this past week...”

April 25, 2015
Cough, Cough, Hack, Sniff!
“...I am on day 31 of the longest and worst cold/flu/infection that I have ever experienced!”

March 10, 2015
... the birth of Rose Ayla Harwood-Jones

February 16 – March 10, 2015
Living in Grenada
Our latest trip had us living in a rental apartment on a Caribbean island, rather than either driving or cruising great distances.  It was local immersion.  This page is a directory of the blog that I’ve written about the adventure.

February 9, 2015
Dancing Bear Redux
The concert for which there has been so much planning and preparation has come and gone.  It was quite a success.  Part of it has even been uploaded to YouTube.

December 20, 2014
California... and not Dreaming!
An account of another winter drive – this one to California for Christmas.  The page also has a general update on our life in Winnipeg, including a move that never happened.

November 5, 2014
Vote for This, or Vote for That
Before participating in a writers’ reading event, I asked my readers to pick the anecdote that I should read.  The event has come and gone now, so voting is no longer required.

October 22, 2014
What’s so Funny…?  Especially Today?
A reflection on the problem of publishing something funny on a day when a lone gunman creates chaos, and shuts down Canada’s capital.

June 29, 2014
Our 2014 Visit to the Lake
– an index of the 2014 Cottage Diary

June 21, 2014
This Short Time at Home
Boredom is not in the cards for us, evidently.

May 9 to 31, 2014
Driving to a Wedding in California
Here’s another set of status updates – this one being an extended diary of a driving trip to California for the wedding of our daughter, Rachael, to Michael Green.  It took place in the Napa Valley, May 17, 2014.

March 23, 2014
... the birth of Alexander Elliot Harwood-Jones

March 18, 2014
The Calm Between...
A brief period of normalcy between a number of travels and adventures.

February 21, 2014
Our Latest Voyage – in “Status Updates”
Heather and I went on an ocean cruise to Hawaii, and had some family time in California, February 18–March 10, during which time I decided to post FaceBook-style “status updates” to this blog.

February 6, 2014
On the Winter Road Again... and Again!
...all of which can be a little hair-raising, but I enjoy the challenge.  It keeps me young.

December 27, 2013
A Christmas Letter, 2013
We went to two Christmas church services...!

December 5, 2013
A Winter’s Trail
From November 12–21, Heather and I undertook a fairly harrowing drive – 1,887 kilometres (1,166 miles) to see our son, Christopher, and his family.  It was the beginning of a mighty winter, and we had a first-hand encounter with what winter driving is all about.
Here’s a list of the story’s sections:
    •   A Medieval Sword
    •   On our Way Rejoicing
    •   Dead phone... and awe
    •   “White-knuckle” driving
    •   Rest and Refreshment
    •   Back into the mountains
    •   When you plan a winter driving trip, take a snow-brush!
    •   Panorama
    •   A map of the whole journey

October 4, 2013
...“It’s been crazy here, day after day,” she said by way of explaining all those jammed aircraft and the lineups of staff and families...

July to September, 2013
A Tornado, Wood-Splitting, a Bug, and a Lot of Driving
- the 2013 instalment of the cottage diary
    •   From Winnipeg to the Lake
    •   Powerless!
    •   An Outrage of Outages
    •   A Flea in Your Ear?
    •   The Last Week: On the Move!!!

July 19, 2013
Three Months at Dizzying Speed
...there is a competition – entirely in my own mind, of course – between this space and FaceBook.

April 9, 2013
Now THIS is serious illness! I type, he still doesn’t really know where he is or what day it is or any of that stuff.

April 7, 2013
Transient Global Amnesia Heather tells me.  I remember none of it.

January 30, 2013
Normalcy fortunate we have been to travel so widely, and to see so many wonders, and to learn thereby how big, and yet how small, our world is.

December 3, 2012 - January 15, 2013
To the End of the World and Back
    •   The Story
    •   Photo Album
    •   Contents
    •   Topical Index
    •   A Google Map of the Whole Journey

December 1, 2012
What!??  Again??
Back to work in Heather’s law office once more... then off on our third ocean cruise – this one around the tip of South America!

September 30 - October 4, 2012
A Camping Trip – in Status Updates
Rain all night, winds gusting up to 70 km/h., and flakes of snow in the rain.  Forecast for tomorrow: snow.

July - August, 2012
At the Cottage – 2012 edition
    •   Easy Like Pie
    •   The Mail Must Go Through (mustn’t it?)
    •   Operator? Operator?
    •   The Revelation; and The Essay & the Email

June 18, 2012
Tired and Re-tired
Heather “...came into our bedroom to find me sprawled motionless beside the loudly chiming and vibrating machine.”

May 12, 2012
Why I Haven’t Written Lately
“...when I find out that this woman is now on her deathbed, is there any doubt that I will drop everything to go and see her and the family?”

April 24, 2012
A Farmer Reflects on Raising Animals for Food
“We have really healthy animals because they live very natural lives.  They eat well, are outside, are warm in the winter, get lots of exercise and sunshine, and have their needs met with no chemicals in their systems.  The more I tell you about our animals, the prouder I feel about them and how we raise them.”

January 21, 2012
A Tragedy of Operatic Proportions
“Jokes get a lot of their punch from human foolishness, stupidity, or bad behaviour....”

December 23, 2011 to January 17, 2012
Status Updates
“I’m just going to imitate – for now – the world of FaceBook...”

December 8, 2011
Rediscovering Normalcy
“...about a month after returning home, the mental log jam seemed to break”

October 30, 2011
How fortunate can one person be?
three photographs, three vastly differents settings, one very lucky old man!

October 5-29, 2011
Diary of a Mediterranean Adventure
...our trip was as close to flawless as anything could be.
    •   Preface
    •   Ho Hum – another exciting trip to exotic places!
    •   Diary Contents
    •   Photo Album

September 27, 2011
A Coughing Cantata
hack!  snerf;  sniffle;  koff koff koff!  snorffle...  gurgle...

August 11, 2011
Old Bachelor at the Cottage
Later, as an adult, I would drive by that church – the home of the wheezing pump organ and the hornets’ nest...

July 14, 2011
Bicycling in Winnipeg
It was definitely not the time for me to say, “Well, I’m off to the lake, now!  See ya!”

June 9, 2011
Late Spring updates
you were wondering about... my young cousin; churchgoing; Heather’s mobility...?

April 14 – May 9, 2011“Clergy Supply” in Churchill, Manitoba
    •   Part 1 – Announcing the assignment
•   Part 2 – Life begins... in the far North
•   Part 3 – Priest on a Dog Sled
•   Part 4 – Walking into the Wind
•   Part 5 – Last things...
  A Churchill Photo Album
  Some Churchill Trivia

March 15, 2011
A Boy’s heart-rending letter
“...I wish I knew the name of the person who gave me the cornea but the Dr’s can’t tell us.”

March 7, 2011
A Big Invisible Change
...the entire website moves to a new location

February 27, 2011
Comments about the Cruise Diary
“...literate, informative, charming, and funny... I was absolutely enchanted!”

January 17-31, 2011
Diary of a Caribbean Cruise was a voyage in the tropics and a voyage into the past.
    •   Preface
    •   Diary Contents
    •   Cruise Itinerary
    •   Cruise Photo Album

January 13, 2011
About to Sail Away
...posted just before Tony and Heather went on a Caribbean cruise

December 17, 2010
Walking Requires Two Legs
...she began walking around the house without crutches today.  It’s fairly ungainly, but it is progress.

December 2, 2010
A hidden website ‘camera’
Far more people visit this website than I had ever expected!

November 15, 2010
Not an Ordinary Holiday
Tony and Heather go to Toronto, attend a wonderful concert, and have some notable family encounters.

October 23, 2010
Churchgoing Report
Before we’re done, we hope to visit and worship with Christians of almost every possible stripe.

July – September, 2010
The Summer of Being Seated
Another entry in the cottage diary series
    •   Part 1 – Getting There is Half the Fun... Isn’t it?
•   Part 2 – Have a Seat
•   Part 3 – Rafting, Rescue, Return, and Resumption of Play
•   Part 4 – Homeward Bound

June 28, 2010
Tony and Heather Tiptoe Away
Tony’s last few moments at St. Luke’s parish
top of page

June 26, 2010
Change is underway
ouch! ...this website wasn’t updated for almost two years!

October 20, 2008
Watching a Dancing Bear?
...Tony plays his clarinet in a concert with his friend, Russ Greene

July 5, 2008
Re-Connecting a Large Family
“...the first-ever Harwood-Jones Family Reunion”

May 11, 2008
Back in the Saddle... Again!?
“...the parish leadership was adamant that I be given the assignment”

November 25, 2007
Retired Guy – Gone to Work

August 6, 2007
Late-summer update, 2007

May 22, 2007
Life on the Internet
  – finding scholarly treasures;
  – how not to have a life; and
  – re-connecting with my extended family via “FaceBook”

March 11, 2007
Calyn Treads the Boards

February 25, 2007
A Proud Parent Boasting
“‘Opera Canada’ magazine has now published its review of the performance, from which I delight to quote...”

December 20, 2006
A Christmas Letter for the year 2006
“...many good things happening, and nothing really bad.”
top of page

September 26 - October 4, 2006
It’s our Pleasure to Serve you
A major entry in the Diary of an Inheritance series
    •   Part 1 – Peas and Carrot at the Wake?
•   Part 2 – Welcome to Bell Canada!
•   Part 3 – The Leaning Toolshed
•   Part 4 – From Here to Bombay?
•   Part 5 – Going Home
(afterword) Reader Responses

August 15, 2006
Of cold showers and pirates
A small entry in the cottage diary series

May 24, 2006
On the Road with the Islam Presentation
Notes from a hotel room in Regina

April 9, 2006
Better than Working!
The first winter of retirement races by!
- Christmas in Vernon;
- numerous classes to teach during Lent;
- a trip to Toronto to see Rachael in “The Marriage of Figaro,” and
- an extraordinary reunion!)

November 5, 2005
Retirement life begins

August/September, 2005
(Two brief instalments in the Diary of an Inheritance)
Peace, relaxation, and a wedding at the cottage
A sudden departure

July 27, 2005
A time of transition, preparing to go to the cottage, and looking ahead to life in retirement.
top of page

March 28, 2005
Announcing my Retirement

September - December, 2004
Tony goes on Sabbatical
Is this what is called a “blog?”
It certainly is an online diary. Whatever, it begins here.

July - August, 2004
And so, Another Summer...
Vacation doings, and a continuation of the Diary of an Inheritance
The vacation begins well
Going to the opera
Back and forth
     (the most hilarious adventure of the Summer)
Washing in the woods
(previous instalments of the Diary are found in August 2003,
    July 2002, and July 2001.)

May 18, 2004
Now this is a Mother’s Day Present!
Heather gets a wonderful surprise.

November 30, 2003
Update on our lives, late Fall, 2003
A general overview of the everyday stuff of life
as Manitoba's cold weather once more sets in
and Heather and Tony are immersed in their respective professions.

September 9, 2003
Of Mice, and Power, and People...
A continuation of the Diary of an Inheritance
...the first instalment being July, 2001
...the second instalment being July, 2002

July 24, 2003
Camping in the Age of Flab
   • A Bit of Background
   • How I Didn’t get S.A.R.S...
   • The Old Man and the Mountain Bike

top of page

June 11, 2003
Introducing Princess Annabelle Pirouette
take a look...

July, 2002
If a Tree Falls in the Woods...
A summer holiday in which the old adage, “A change is as good as a rest,” is tested.
A continuation of the saga of restoring a dilapidated cottage in Québec.
   Links to some of the chapters:
   • Introduction
   • The good ship, “Jack Aubrey”
   • A Sudden Surprise
   • Doesn't anybody know where the dump is?
   • Intrepid Mice
   • Dealing with the tree
   • Epilogue

March, 2002
A Huge Event
Heather & Tony move downtown.
There is also a memorial to our dog, Socrates, on this page.

September 23, 2001
Divas and September 11th
Creating an "instant concert" in response to the terrorist attacks in the U.S.A.

July, 2001
Diary of an Inheritancethe beginning
Taking over and beginning to restore a cottage in Québec.

top of page
March 19, 2001
Rachael wins the Rose Bowl!
Photo and article from the Winnipeg newspaper
describing Rachael's great accomplishment

January 31, 2001
How Time Flies...!
A brief update on the ordinary events of
November 2000 - January 2001

October 30, 2000
Impressions of Vienna
Heather and Tony on the trip of a lifetime!
There are two parts to this ‘Oxbow’ - a verbal description of Vienna, and a photo album.

September 2, 2000
Refreshment and change... in a confusing mix.
Holidays, but also very intense daily life

March, 2000
Lorna Harwood-Jones, 1916 - 2000
My Mother dies and is given a wonderful send-off.

December 13, 1999
Updates on...
   • Life at St. George’s
   • Heather's Law Practice, as at December '99
   • The most FUN news of the fall of 1999!

August 1999
Vignettes from our 1999 Summer Holidays:
   • Colloquy with Two Moose
   • Driving Through a Landslide
   • Colloquies with Grandchildren

May 13, 1998
Changing parishes... after 17 years!!
Reflections on my recently-announced appointment as Rector of the parish of St.George, Cresentwood.... A “written for the web” account of my impressions in the early days of what turned out to be one of the biggest transitions I’ve faced in a very long time!

January 16, 1998
What happened to your face..!!??
Heather and Tony live through an auto collision.... Excerpt from an email sent a couple of days after the event to a number of our friends and relations.

November 10, 1997
Why life is busy for an Anglican Priest in Manitoba
Excerpt from a letter to a Californian describing what parish life is like in Winnipeg during our extreme prairie seasons

top of page

The Diary of an Inheritance

Our Cottage in Québec

Cottage telephone: (819) 242-6193    

After my mother died in 2000, her various children came into possession of an extensive lake property.  Several of us got a cottage of our own.  However, the one that came to me was very run down, and we had many adventures bringing it back into use.

I have kept an online diary of those adventures, beginning with an entry in 2001.  I would love it if you read the whole thing right from the beginning (heck, a writer must have readers), but after so many years the Cottage Diary is getting rather long.  Whatever else you do, you will want to read how we felled a tree (2002), and the time I had encounters with Hydro Québec, and with Bell Canada (October, 2006).  But for the brave and/or the curious, the next paragraphs give a synopsis of every segment in the diary.  Click on any year in those paragraphs and see if something strikes your fancy.

A Brief Synopsis
In 2001 there was basic cleanup and a new roof.  In 2002 we got a proper boat, we had adventures finding the dump, and we felled a tree.  In 2003 we had some adventures with mice.  2004 saw the coming of a new fireplace.  By 2005 the cabin had become what it was intended to be: a pleasant place to spend a vacation.  That year saw a family wedding, and a lot of peacefulness, but also a very sudden departure.

In 2006 I wrote a short segment detailing the addition of a cold shower, and the presence of pirates, but also, later that year, the major entry exploring my encounters with Hydro Québec, and with Bell Canada.

A couple of years went by without much happening at the cottage.  We went every year, enjoyed our time there, and returned to our lives in Winnipeg without serious incident.  However, things pick up again in 2010, when (following my second retirement) I was able to stay at the lake from early July until mid-September.  We arrived with an over-full car and no cottage keys, and then I spent much of the summer seated, from which position I still managed to get at least one minor injury.

In 2011 there were visits with lifelong friends, and a long walk down memory lane with Rachael, but I was mostly an old bachelor at the lake.

In 2013, Heather closed her law practice, and was with me at the lake for the entire summer.  No ‘old bachelor stuff’ for me there this time!  But it was a summer of bad weather and many days without electricity or telephone or both; it was a summer of woodchopping and critters and bugs; and it was a summer with a steady stream of family visitors. But most of all it was a summer of constant driving.

For 2014 the water pump had to be replaced, and because I forgot a device at home, we had to do without Internet access for a while, when my correspondence resembled the Pony Express.  There was a war – with ants.  And in October I returned alone to the lake to finish fixing the outhouse, cut some firewood, and under some very wet circumstances, close the cabin for the winter.

In 2015, there wasn’t much fixing, at first, though in the end an important dock component had to be replaced.  This was the summer that I was taken to hospital, and later Heather and I went from the lake to California and back.

There is a short entry for 2016, which, though the time at the lake was tranquil, that summer could be dubbed, “The Year of the Bugs.”

In 2017 our cottage water system got inspected, which was nerve-wracking... but we also travelled from Winnipeg to the cottage to Toronto to California, all because of grandchildren!

In 2018 we went to the lake, as always, but that year, my only blog entry about our time there described trying to deal with an Internet scam.

Much of the cottage story has a funny side, so be prepared to laugh (and sometimes cry).

top of page

Our Ocean Cruises!

In 2011, my friend Werner said, “We have booked ourselves on a Caribbean cruise.  Would you like to come with us?”

Heather and I looked at each other.  A decision was made, and we said “Yes.”  And so we became cruisers.

We have now (July 2015) gone on four cruises, and there may be more to come.

I’ve written up our cruising adventures, and if you’d like to read about them, you can link to my narratives from the following list:

January, 2011 – the Caribbean
October, 2011 – the Mediterranean
December, 2012 – all around South America
February, 2014 – San Francisco to Hawaii and back

In your imagination, come and sail the ocean blue with us!

top of page


Prairie rivers snake and turn across the vast plain with no forests and no rocks to guide them into channels.  The land, at one time the silted bottom to a vast sea, gives little resistance to the water, and if the river wishes to turn right, it does; if it wishes to turn left, it does.  Sometimes, after travelling on one direction for a kilometer or more, a river might double back upon itself, and return almost the entire distance, forming a great loop on the land, like a festive ribbon tied in a bow.

But floods come upon this flat plain from time to time, and the excess water - too enormous and hurried to meander down the various loops - carves swift shortcuts and leaves the bows to sit, truncated, as strange silent curly lakes that have no beginning and no end.  The water remains in them, a mute reminder of the former days, but it is still, and goes nowhere.

The word “ox” was added to these “bows” in the days when the primary freight hauler used by prairie settlers was a wooden cart drawn by a single beast - an ox - whose huge and dreary shoulders pulled at their rolling burden by means of a bow-shaped halter.

The human propensity for naming things sometimes leads to peculiarities, as in this case, since a turn in a river pulls no freight.  An “Oxbow” on the prairie is merely a cutoff chunk of no-longer-a-river.  Quietly growing lily pads and butterflies in summer.  Sometimes skatable in the winter.  A sign of something past, and ended.

So... select from the list at the top of this page to see the ‘oxbows’ in my life.  Little snippets that used to be currents, now resting quietly, pulling at nothing except perhaps the tasseled ends of memory.  Eventually they will evaporate.

top of page