HAPPY 150 BIRTHDAY CANADA, EH!

“It’s a party Jo-Ann!”

“It sure is Percy.”

Canada Goose

It’s going to be a heck of a party Saturday July 1st, 2017, our country is 150 years young. All 36,626,086 of us are celebrating. Our country is 99,984,663 km (3,855,100 sq. miles), in size. In fact, we’re the second largest country in the World, that means there is only 13.7 people per square kilometre. So, we have lots of room here for more people to invite to our party. Everyone is welcome to join in.

“Hey, Jo-Ann.”

“Yes Percy.”

“Let’s share a few fun facts with everyone about Canada.”

“Sure”

Well, talking about room for more party dudes and dudettes, Canada has fewer people than Tokyo’s metropolitan area.

Our money is just so fun. Each bill is colourful and there is Braille-like markings on them for the blind.

We love our doughnuts. Canadians consume the most doughnuts and has the most doughnut shops per capita of any country in the World.

Canada is an Iroquoian language word meaning, “village”.

Our official phone number is 1-800-0-canada, how fun is that!

We might feel a little light headed during the celebrations, and not just from the party cheer, large parts of Canada has less gravity than the rest of Earth, the phenomenon was discovered in the 1960’s.

We’ll have one heck of a street party, with 1,896 km, (1,178 miles), Yonge Street in the Province of Ontario, Canada, is the longest street in the World.

We’re a high flying people, in 2015, a Canadian man was arrested after tying more than 100 balloons to a garden chair and flying over the city of Calgary, in the Province of Alberta.

High flying balloon dude aside, we’re pretty smart cookies. Canada is the world’s most educated country, half of our residence have college degrees.

If your party ideas include a swim and some boating, Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined.

We sure get a lot of mail in December. Every Christmas, 1 million letters are addressed to Santa Claus, he has his own postal code; ‘H0H 0H0, North Pole, Canada”.

We do hope you’ve enjoyed a few fun Canada facts. Both Percy and I wish Canada, all Canadians and everyone who can join us, a very happy, healthy and prosperous 150th birthday. And remember, if you’re in Churchill, in the Province of Manitoba, residence leave their cars unlocked to offer an escape for anyone who might encounter Polar Bears.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CANADA, OUR TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE

 

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Percy Stoma

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

Respite Bamboozle

About three weeks ago Jo-Ann my ostomate got wishfunked. That’s my new word, it Spider webmeans Jo-Ann’s periodic desire to indulge in wishful thinking ran out of steam when a stone cold reality was tossed back into her life, literally and figuratively, and the ripple effect was both emotionally and physically profound.

Let’s start at the beginning. Many folks who have endured a lengthy illness, have gone through treatment, through the challenges of recovery, and in the case of an ostomate, there is now body function alterations created through major surgery. Then, there is the physical and emotional adaptation to an altered body that requires constant vigilance and ostomy equipment attached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, month after month, year upon year. Well, we just can’t blame a person for indulging in periodic wishful thinking. It’s a much needed “respite bamboozle”, that calms the mind and soothes the soul.

That’s where Jo-Ann’s head and soul was when the pain started on the Saturday night. The abdominal discomfort intensified and the only position that somewhat relieved the pressure was the yoga “downward-facing dog bow” position. Jo-Ann is not a yoga practitioner, but through flipping and flopping from one position to another on the couch to find some degree of relief, she found if she went on her knees and laid the top part of her body down, and with her posterior up in the air, she could at least relieve some of the pressure and discomfort.

Hmm…what was causing all of this discomfort? Jo-Ann immediately began to be concerned about me her trusty and may I add amazing stoma. Her mind raced hither and thither to all the bad news potentials that could be occurring in her abdomen, and as we know there can be many.

After a few hours of her doggy bowing, the good news was the pressure lessened and she felt a degree of relief, enough relief to be able to go to bed and sleep for the night. Upon waking up the following morning, while not feeling her usual self, she did feel much better than the night before. That is until 7:00 p.m. that Sunday evening. The discomfort became so intense, even the yoga pooch position no longer helped.

The wishful thoughts that this too shall pass evaporated, and it was time to head off to hospital. It was midnight and Jo-Ann felt the full impact of being wishfunked.

The Doctor and nurses were terrific and professional as they worked hard to figure out what the source of the problem was. After intravenous, pain management, a CT Scan, and expert diagnostic application, the culprit was found. It was a kidney stone. The good news was the medical situation was not caused by me. The bad news, there is a stone, it is lodged in a most inconvenient spot, and Jo-Ann was going to be in a lot of pain until the offending stone moves. The good news is, it’s a stone and not one of the myriad of other abdominal, bowel or stoma complications. The bad news is, it’s a stone, it is painful, and it’s a stone on the move.

The good news is, the stone has moved to a more comfortable position now. The bad news is, it was not passed. There will be another dog bowing day sometime in the future when the stone resumes its journey. The good news-bad news, is life’s stress test!

As life would have it, Jo-Ann was exploring a social media site this morning, she read the following and thought you’d enjoy reading it was well.

 

While On This Ride Called Life

You have to take the good with the bad,

smile when you’re sad,

love what you’ve got and

remember what you had.

Always forgive, but never forget.

Learn from your mistakes, but never regret.

People change.

Things go wrong.

Just remember, the ride goes on.

 

Percy Stoma

Eol. Poopology
www.jo-annltremblay.com

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

Family Like Friends & Friends Like Family

Sitting out on our Florida deck, I’m captivated by the manatee lazily floating by in the canal with a turtle perched on her back, reminding me of the events of the past week.Manatee:Turtle

We were delighted when our sister/brother-in-law and furry niece (Bernese Mountain Dog), arrived for a week long visit. Our experiences of magical moments, emotional touches, talking and laughing, are the meaningful gifts that are a part of making life special.

As life did unfold over the week, the friends we are fortunate to have here in Florida embraced our family adventure without hesitation, with enthusiasm and sharing; in birthday celebrations of a friend of ours, a day at the races, a gathering at a back deck campfire of smores (a decadent delight of fire cooked marshmallows sandwiched between chocolate and graham wafter cookies), and so much more. The days, nights and activities, were filled with fun, conversations, camaraderie, and the joy of a community of humanity celebrating family and friends.

Watching the manatee with the turtle on her back reminds me of the differences and similarities that make up each individual family member and friend. The nature of friendships and the nature of family are individually unique, yet, when you  boil it all down, each is an experience of what it means to be close. There is a special connection, and it is the connection of the heart. It is the journey of human souls joined for life.

Friends are like family and family are like friends, is the solid foundation we build our life experiences on, and that helps to keep us where we need to be. It’s amazing when you think of it, that someone else will believe in you, and will trust you with a friendship.

During my illness, the eventual ostomy surgery, and the lengthy recovery when my physical and emotional strength seemed to fail me half way through, it was my friends like family and my family like friends whose care, concern and love, drop by drop filled my heart, mind, and body till I was overflowing.

Mother Teresa said: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

So thank you Terri, Murray and Piper. Thank you our dear and generous friends. Thank you all for embracing us and each other.

Reach out to someone(s) in your past, current and/or future, be a friend like a family member, and a family member like a friend. There will be frustrations once in a while and you may have to carry them on your back from time to time, but that’s life too, one sure thing is, you’ll always remember how much they really mean to you, and how much you mean to them!

PS – March is Colorectal Cancer Month. Remember to tell your family, friends and yourself to schedule your colonoscopy, it could save a life.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

www.jo-annltremblay.com

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

Listen to the Ocean

Gazing into the horizon the ocean stretches beyond. I find myself gather and merge, becoming part of the sand. I am drifting as I listen to my pondering breath, and noticefeb-2017-blog-photo  a briny tear slide down my cheek.

The ocean is talking, beckoning my soul as I match my heart to the oceans roaring heartbeat. The tips of the waves slice time and the hours stand still. I listen to the ocean and I hear a ghost song that draws me deep within where the mysterious tides of my life fill me with sadness, joy, and wonder.

The waves coming in and going out are the reflection of life itself. Musing upon the crested waves, I become aware of the ebb and flow of the beautiful moments, the fierce storms, and changing tides of our human experiences.

I am an ostomate standing on the windswept edge of the ocean of life. The mesmerizing waves captivate me as the white crested caps fold over gently. It is calm right now as I am drawn deep within. From the depths of the deep blue ocean the memories of times, incidences, and circumstances, of the past fill me with wonderment, each memory a dazzling and ever changing sunset.

My mind meanders to the quiet beauty when I was able to drift freely with the gentle currents of life, oh the freedom of those days. My mind now descending further into the depths of my experiences, brings me to the storm that my emotions endured through the illness, and then the alteration of my body function to create  my ostomy, “Percy”. The thunder of the ocean waves crashing on the sandy shore roar through my soul. My dark time haunts me like the clawing of the salty water slipping between the rocky fingers and back into the ocean, again and again.

Many a long night since, I have squished my toes into the unpleasant and unwanted scum left by the forces of the storm within, as the uncontrollable tides of my life rise and fall.

Time is slipping by, the storm calms more and more now. Life goes on, children and grandchildren are the joys of my life, our little frothing snowy white bubbles. My new adventures are making splashes that sparkle in the sunlight, as they dance all around me. Living in this ocean of life, listen and hear the soft pull of the siren’s call; treasures and wrecks lie beneath the surface, trials and tribulations ebb and flow, listen to the ocean from where life began, and journey into the discovery of life and of yourself.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

 

Of Miracles and Curses

“Bad luck, sometimes saves you from worst luck” – Winston Churchill

So what’s luck? Without regard to one’s will, intention, nor dejan-2016-blog-photo-cloudsserved result, luck is the success or failure apparently brought on by chance rather than through one’s own actions. In a descriptive sense, people speak of luck that they find to be fortunate or unfortunate, and maybe improbable.

Often when folks learn I am an ostomate, they shake their heads sadly from side to side, as they express how sorry they are to hear that. I’m sure all ostomates and any other person who has undergone a traumatic life event and/or alteration can relate to this reaction. Now on one hand I realize that they are being sympathetic and possibly empathetic, and that is generous of them.

On the other hand, for those of us who are living through and with an altered function it is truly about experiencing a new paradigm. Our patterns of habit and living are altered. Individually, we have become a new prototype. It’s a whole new ball game. There are many challenges, but the big one is; integrating by way of giving equal opportunity, consideration, and combining the old you with the current and future you.

Was it luck that brought us to a crisis and are we lucky enough to have survived?

The Romans believed in the embodiment of luck as the goddess Fortuna. Whereas philosophers believe that, “luck is mere luck”, rather than a property of a person or things. Carl Jung viewed luck as a synchronicity which he described as “a meaningful coincidence”. Some folks feel that there is no such thing as luck, change, or a coincidence, they believe “everything is connected”.

Was it a miracle some of us survived?

Informally, the word “miracle” is often used to characterize any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a “wonderful occurrence”, regardless of likelihood such as a birth. Often such miracles might be survival of an illness diagnosed as terminal, or escaping a life threatening situation.

By choice or by chance, bad luck or good luck, miracle or curse, we endured a painful tragedy. By choice or by chance, bad luck or good luck, miracle or curse,
we survived to live another day. By choice or by chance, bad luck or good luck, miracle or curse, we have an altered body function and we beat the odds.

We can be grateful for another persons sympathy and empathy, while not feeling sad or cheated by life, it’s all a matter of our individual perspective. It is a question of what lens we are currently looking through. Even though we may feel we sure had some bad luck, we’re alive and now with a 2nd chance, we have the opportunity to experience more of life, worst luck was averted.

Live, love and laugh, in spite of the luck good and bad, why…because it’s fun!

Percy Stoma and I wish good luck to all, and keep enjoying your amazing life.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

www.jo-annltremblay.com

The Tapestry of Life

“Plan for the future because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life” – Mark Twain

There is the common thread of life that binds our collective and individual lives and this is the thread of change. 2016 has been a year of many global and individual chanxmas-lights-blogges, and it has set the scene for many more changes to come in 2017.

All People must cope with change, moving from one situation to another. In addition to life’s habit of thrusting change upon us, ostomates and any other folk who are physiologically altered, change and all of its psychological challenges are magnified manyfold.

We want the comfort of staying in a life space that is familiar, but, inevitably and consistently change weaves in and throughout the tapestry of our life story. We can only hope change is a good thing. All changes even good ones, as with the creation of a life saving and sustaining stoma, for most of us, well we just don’t transition smoothly.

Often our minds and our guts sends us strong opposing responses. We have to let go, this is challenging, so we catch ourselves trying to build the missing pieces back in. Of course they no longer exist as we move forward through the changes. What we are really trying to do, is to find the ways and means by which we can balance the conflicting emotions about the change.

The price for balance is often a valuable and burdensome journey that teaches
us about ourselves, our lives, and mostly what is inside of our heads.

Balancing through change is a lonely task, we may be fortunate to have supportive people in our life, but when it comes down to it, it is done alone. This makes us feel isolated, separated from our family and friends. Focus is required, and so, change is stressful for our brain, it becomes overworked, and an overworked brain does not function well. Change can cause irritability when it means we must change our behaviour patterns. Sheesh, ostomates sure can relate to this one!

It’s tough coming to the realization we can no longer accept what we previously had, and we feel dissatisfied. The feeling of being lost before we find our way, is powerful. It’s not easy transitioning and dealing with a whole new set of expectations, emotions and experiences, it is daunting.

Sometimes we feel lost when we are creating a new reality and we’re somewhere new. The thread of change consistently weaves in and throughout our lives. The changes we will experience during the coming year will challenge us and our entire future lives. Life goes on, and as the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.

Our destination is tomorrow, plan for what you can, want, and need. Take the step into the changing unknown and may the bright colours of health, happiness and prosperity, illuminate the tapestry of your life throughout 2017.

From our home to yours, may you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 
Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

Percy Stoma

EOL. Poopology

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

www.jo-annltremblay.com

 

 

On The Edge & Close Enough To Kill

A human being is a fragile creature. Life is a test of survival for all. When the circumstances are right, we borderline invincible. When the circumstances are wrong

dscn0227-1

Photo by: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

we stand at the edge of the abyss and our scream of anguish stretches to infinity. We are a contradiction of strength and vulnerability, we are the hard and the soft.

Everyone we meet in this life at one time or for many times, have and will endure life on the bleeding edge of some form of disaster. Be it physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or an assault on their human spirit. The ghosts of past trauma shift amid the shadow play of light and dark. Always at the back of our mind we hear the whispering of potential future trauma, trauma we hope will never come.

As we stand on the edge and scan the deep within, we wonder if with foresight we can see the signs. Most of the time it’s a matter of hindsight and we feel we should have seen the signs.

Hubby and I have left our home in the frozen north and have arrived in our Florida home to spend our winter in the warmth of the southern sun, and into the welcoming arms of our Floridian friends. The fact of life as an ostomate is; no matter where I am a breach awaits a breath away. A potential intestinal obstruction lurks within. Chronic discomfort as I hold everything inside, gnaws at my very nerves igniting lightning bolts that spark, burn and singe. This is my ongoing challenge. Your challenging circumstances, whatever they may be, will cause a breach in your calm, an obstruction of flow, and an attack on your sensitive nervous system, and it is only a breath away. For everyone, life can turn in an instant for the worse or for the better.

Still, 5 years since my brush with death, a moment or a situation can at times leave me tense like a rabbit in the headlights. The disease and altered physiology I must live with now simmers as a low-grade anger warmed past grief. Trauma like this, or any trauma you have or will experience, can be tackled head-on-bulled-through without looking back. For most of us the trauma lives in layers of angles, colours, and textures, that at a drop of a hat, a familiar moment, a remembered smell, will dissolve us into a trembling heap.

Sitting on our Florida deck looking out upon the inland canal, frothy clouds brush the horizon. A gentle breeze whispers through the fronds of a palmetto brush. Bluie the Blue Heron and Edgar the Egret are fishing at the shore. The park is quiet as the sun sinks past its zenith, the lazy afternoon stretches out and in a few hours it will be the time of the  long shadows. This ancient and earthly ritual plays out every day, no matter our human experiences of the moment.

Painful memories are soothed as I run my fingers, trailing them down the arm of my chair. In this moment of time I’m relieved by the serenity and tinkling of the dancing water beside me. The urge to connect the past to the present is dissolving into the steamy warmth surrounding me.

Glancing back to Bluie and Edgar, our wild neighbours who gave us such joy last year, I’m reminded of my worry for them this fall when hurricane Mathew threatened its windy
terror. Bluie, Edgar and many of the wildlife eking out a living in the canal were in direct line of Mathew and their prospect for survival was precarious. Possibly they knew it was coming. Definitely they took the necessary steps available to them to increase their odds of survival. Then, they must have hunkered down to weather the tempest in a bottle, probably trembling in fear, only to emerge when calm reappeared. They returned to their goal of living full and fruitful, (in their case, fishy), lives. Sunning themselves, hunting and foraging for food, arguing with other feathered, scaled, and furry neighbours for territory and the best fishing grounds. Life in all its fury and calm, back to normal.

Their approach to life is amazing. They emerged from the depths of chaos to not only survive, but to thrive. They were close enough to have been killed, they hunkered down at the edge, they carry the scars, and they have moved back to the centre of their being to recapture and re-experience life. Their way is a powerful true life surviving and on to thriving, example for all.

We have catastrophes that descend upon us once, twice or many times in the span of our lives. If we survive it is imperative that we strive to thrive. It isn’t the easy journey, there are no individualized road maps to follow, there are always bumps on the road to navigate, and we wear the physical, emotional, mental, and human spirit scars. But, like Bluie and Edgar’s example, no matter the circumstances that brings us to the edge of the abyss, although we may feel vulnerable, tense and tingle, we need to muster the strength to transcend our fear as we step forward with the determined certainty to thrive. And, then there are the inevitable days we just need to hold our nose and get on with getting on with, in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. And as they say, “that’s life”.

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Ostomate

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell”

 

www.jo-annltremblay.com

 

 

BAGs Around the World – New Book Release

Ostomate Jo-Ann L. Tremblay and her stoma Percy, are once again the intrepid adventurers bags-around-the-worlddrawn into the incredible journey of 2nd chances at life in their newest book release, BAGs Around the World.

Boldly venture into experiences that transcend the normal limits of the everyday, through the true life escapades of an ostomate and her stoma.

Join authors Jo-Ann L. Tremblay and Percy Stoma on their quest to discover the meanings in and of life as they explore, muse, and ponder the life of ostomates and non-ostomates, in our challenging experiences as humans on planet Earth.

Through THE OSTOMY FACTOR, the book features blog posts beginning in the month and year of November 2012, and continues through 2015. The collection offers solace, inspiration and joy, as they ignite our human spirit.

Trek along with Jo-Ann and Percy as they share their sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic, and always adventurous real life stories through thoughts and words that readers find valuable in their daily lives for a chuckle, a tear, and for inspired contemplation.

ENJOY

Click  https://joannltremblay.wordpress.com/book-order-information/for more paperback and Kindle order information.

With excitment and joy,

Jo-Ann L. Tremblay & Percy Stoma

Check our newly designed website: www.jo-annltremblay.com

“Everyone you meet has a story to tell.”

 

 

BAGs Around the World – New Book

Step into a journey through experience and transcend the normal limits of everyday life. Join in the intellectual, emotional, and physical pilgrimage to discover the meanings in and of our lives. Be touched by bags-around-the-worldthe spirit of the fellowship of people around the world as we celebrate 2nd chances at life.

Better WITH a Bag Than IN a Bag, introduced Percy Stoma to the world. Another BAG Another DAY, marched to the beat of the recovery drum. Now, the newest book, BAGs Around the World, transports us to the far reaches of our everyday human experiences and life adventures.

Join Percy Stoma and Jo-Ann L. Tremblay, as they explore, muse, and contemplate the life of ostomates and non-ostomates, in our challenging life experiences as humans on planet Earth.

BAGs Around the World, is coming to Amazon worldwide October 2016.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more information on how you can order your copy of BAGs Around the World.

Percy Runs Aground

The India Ink night enveloped us as if doom was waiting for us in the pitch black dark. The

Blog #1

Photographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay (Our ship)

storm grew stronger. The waves crashed around us. Like a cork bobbing upon the water, our ship was tossed about the angry river. Lightening flashed before Jo-Ann’s eyes,
making blood red streaks rip across her closed eyelids. We heard a groan of agony, a shudder reverberated all around us, as the crunch sounds grew louder and louder. We are at Poseidon’s mercy now!

Percy Stoma!

Yes, Jo-Ann?

Really, it wasn’t like that at all.

I’m just being dramatic.

Yes, Percy you sure are, now tell everyone about our running aground experience as it really happened.

But…but….

PERCY.

Okay, okay.

It all started August 5th as we began our 5 country Grand European tour along the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers.

During our 9 hour flight to Budapest, Hungary, Jo-Ann was so excited and also anxious I would act up. You see, when Jo-Ann feels stress even when it is positive stress, I tend to get active too, as stomas sometimes do. But, I was ready for the adventure and remained calm and quiet throughout the flight.

Good of me wasn’t it Jo-Ann?

Yes Percy, you were very helpful.

We embarked on the ship and were welcomed aboard by the professional with that personal touch staff, who over the 2 week river cruise made our experience top notch and first rate.

Our stateroom with a balcony for two became our cozy home, as we began our awe-inspiring adventure. We gently glided along the banks of the Danube.

Starting in Budapest, two cities that are riverside beauties to be sure, is Hungary’s enchanting capital, with the traditional hillside Buda on one side and the more modern Pest on the other side. The city lights dance on the Danube waters.

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Photographer: Jo-Ann L. Tremblay

Our cruise itinerary featured one excursion in each port, with optional excursions available. Many were walking tours, and some via motor coach combinations. Many tours were often over uneven ground or cobblestones, some included ancient stairs and inclines. Thank goodness because we sure needed the exercise, the food on board ship was amazing, and we were likely to pack on the pounds. In fact food was our biggest concern, Jo-Ann has many food triggers that cause us distress. Jo-Ann’s many dietary restrictions include artificial food colouring, flavouring and preservatives. Natural food restrictions can be avoided, but the underlying artificial chemicals in processed foods are more difficult to identify and avoid. Anyone living with IBS, Crohns, and the various other gastric/intestinal ailments understand these concerns. Well, Jo-Ann and I did so well throughout the cruise, the cuisine was made from scratch food, the chefs creations were delicious, beautifully presented and every morsel an exquisite adventure.IMG_2169.jpgBlog #3

From Budapest we continued along the river to Vienna, Austria. The “City of Waltzes”, Strauss and Mozart composed many of their finest pieces here. The architecture was graceful and it took our breath away.Blog #5

Back on ship and moving along, from our balcony we were treated to eye candy as we sailed through the serene tapestry of terraced vineyards, forested slopes, by charming towns and castle ruins in Austria’s Wachu Valley. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in my opinion one of the most scenic stretches of the Danube. As we continued on our leisurely journey, we enjoyed grapevine terraced hills, and wine-producing villages that hugged the shore. This wine industry is their legacy that stretches as far back as Celtic and Roman times.Blog #4

We arrived in Melk, Austria, and we were dazzled by the 900-year-old Benedictine abbey that overlooks the town.Blog #6

Then onto Passau, Germany we sailed. Founded by the Celts more than 2000 years ago. Passau is one of Bavaria’s oldest cities. Know as the “City of Three Rivers”, it rests at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Passau is also where two nations meet; it is here the German-Austrian border begins. Then to beautiful historic Salzburg, where certain scenes of the movie, “The Sound Of Music”, was filmed.Blog #7

Next the river leads us to Regensburg, Germany. Regensburg escaped major damage during World War II, it is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. The oldest city along the Danube and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old town’s NEUPFERRPLATZ Square is a cross section of history — having served as an ancient Roman gather place, a thriving Jewish quarter, and the site of Nazi book burnings.Blog #8

Now coming upon the Main-Danube Canal, as far back as 1,200 years ago, Emperor Charlemagne contemplated connecting the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers so ships could travel the length of Europe. Today the canal is a 106-mile canal that cuts through rolling hills of north central Bavaria. The views were amazing.

Then, we arrived in Nuremberg, Germany. The 2nd largest city in Bavaria, Nuremberg is filled with traditional half-timbered houses, and Gothic churches with intricate spires. Nuremberg is also infamous for its role in World War II, first as the site of Zeppelin Field’s Nazi rallies and later as the site of the war crimes trials at the Palace of Justice. Our guide in Nuremberg (with a history major), is a former basketball player, who is now coaching university basketball, he is 7 foot 2 inches, Jo-Ann and I thinks you’ll have a chuckle at the photo of us and the coach.Blog #9

Gliding along we arrived at Bamberg, Germany. Founded in the year 902, Bombers is the remains of a medieval city, known for it’s smoked beer. Jo-Ann & I didn’t try the beer, a little too exotic for me to cope with.Blog #10

As we continued to sail along the river we were surrounded by Franconian Vineyards, and then we arrived in Wurzburg, Germany. It is a major wine-making centre and has Germany’s oldest and largest vineyard.Blog #11

In the evenings on board ship we were serenaded by local musicians as we cruised towards Wertheim, Germany. Situated at the confluence of the Main and Tauber Rivers, the dukes of Wertheim built a castle in this strategic spot in the 12th century, that still peers down upon the medieval town centre, and half-timbered houses from its perch.

Following along the Main and Middle Rhine, we sailed on one of the most picturesque stretches of this UNESCO World Heritage site. We admired splendid castles, quaint riverside villages, and steep vineyards that blanketed the hills.Blog #14.jpg

Koblenz, Germany was founded more than 2000 years ago. With its cobblestone streets, wooden beamed houses that are adorned with flowers, ancient market square and medieval churches, we were reminded of the fairy-tale Germany of old.

Our last German port was Cologne, Germany, with its intriguing mix of old and new. Cologne reveals its Roman heritage in its city layout and the ancient ruins lie scattered through the town. We enjoyed the 18th century Residence Of The Prince-Archbishops of Cologne, another UNESCO World Heritage site.Blog #15

Almost at the end of our river cruise we continued to sail the waters of the Rhine and deep into the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt Delta to enjoy the Dutch landscapes unfurl all around us. We were on our way to Kinderdijk, Netherlands, that boast the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands when our Grand European River Cruise came to a crunching halt!

Percy?

I’ll tell it like it happened Jo-Ann.

Okay, take it away Percy.

The sun was rising promising another wonderful day of adventure. It was actually to be the last full day on the ship as we were to enjoy our last excursion to Kinderdijk Netherlands, and then during the night complete our cruise disembarking in Amsterdam, and then to be whisked to Schiphol International Airport to head home.

We were particularly excited to enjoy the 19 remarkably preserved 18th century windmills. Our daughter-in-law is of Dutch decent and we were looking forward to learning more about the tracts of reclaimed land from the sea achieved by the power of the windmills and dykes.

It was 6:15 in the morning, when through her closed eyelids as she lay in bed, Jo-Ann was aroused by lights flashing in the room. She opened her eyes and noticed the television on the opposite wall was re-booting. This is when the thought, “There must have been a power failure”, crossed her mind. Then, there was a loud crunch, a scrape, that was then followed by a second crunch. Mark, her hubby jumped out of bed, threw his clothes on and said, “Wait here, I’m going to check this out.”

Meanwhile, Jo-Ann made a mental note that the life jackets were stowed under the bed. Then it crossed her mind that the ships engines are powered by electricity and if there was indeed a power failure, the engines would have cut out as well.

Being that we were now on a very busy stretch of the Rhine River, Jo-Ann felt a ripple run down her spine, and I must say I had a little stoma burp. This is when she jumped out of bed and headed for the stateroom balcony. Throwing open the curtains Jo-Ann saw a stone piled break water, (a breakwater is a structure constructed on coasts as part of an anchorage protection from both weather and longshore drift), that was only about 8 feet from our balcony. “Oh, this is not good,” she thought. She then quickly dressed and then Mark returned.Blog #16Blog #17

“Well, we’ve run aground, the Captain has beached the ship,” he said very calmly. “Nothing to worry about right now, we’re okay. The boat had an electrical failure, the engines cut out, and the result was loss of control to maneuver the ship.” Thanks to our competent and fast acting Captain, he dropped 3 of the ships anchors, which caused our ship to swing around in a U-turn fashion, and to purposely beach us on the shore, opposite of the town of Reese. (Reese is a hamlet in the Nienburg District of Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany). This placed us out of the busy river flow, and so saving us from the danger of hitting or being hit by other ships on the river. Ja Kapitän, (Yeah, Captain)!

Jo-Ann and I left our balcony and went up to the upper sun deck, there we met most of our shipmates. Everyone was calm and filled with humour. The cruise staff were outstanding and helped any anxieties we might have been feeling at the time. There wasn’t a band playing, “Nearer, My god…”, on the deck, so we knew we were most probably okay and not sinking.

In fact, of course we did not sink. As the day wore on our Cruise Director Gary, kept us informed on the latest. He regretted we of course would not make it to Kinderdijk, we would not see the windmills. All the while River Security came aboard the ship, tug boats held vigil beside us, and a salvage barge was dispatched to locate our 3 anchors now laying at the bottom of the Rhine River, (lost due to the intense strain on the chains, as the boat had been travelling at a good clip the anchors had broken loose from the ship during the safety maneuver). Our ship wasn’t going anywhere until we had the 3 working anchors once again.

As the day passed the local German media arrived on shore, and I must say we were the stars of the shores. The town folk of Reese were curious and lined the wall on the opposite shore from us, I’m sure discussing our predicament. By mid-morning #1 of our anchors was located and delivered to our ship. By early afternoon #2 anchor was retrieved and delivered. Meanwhile, our cruise director was working the phones and announced to us, buses would be arriving on the opposite shore to drive us overland to Amsterdam. Then, we would all be placed in a hotel, with a small boat cruise of the Amsterdam canals later in the evening. We only needed to locate, retrieve or acquire a 3rd anchor. It would be then we would receive authorization from the authorities to be pulled off of the shore, and the Captain would maneuver the ship straight across the river to the opposite shore at the village.Blog #18

This is what happened. With our 3rd anchor installed and working, a large container barge with full engines roaring pulled us off the shore, and our Captain deftly steered our ship to the opposite shore.

In our buses (193 of us and some cruise staff), we headed across the countryside to the hotel in Amsterdam, our Cruise Director had arranged for all of us to stay that night, together as a group. Now I must say, Jo-Ann wondered what hotel that accommodated around 200 people with only a few hours notice during the height of tourist season, would be like.

Well, need not have worried, as a few hours later our bus pulled up to the hotel in the heart of Amsterdam! Our hotel was as upscale urban as I’ve ever stayed in and our posh room was spacious and well appointed, we even had our own office. Our room was comfy, we were served a buffet dinner in the Grand Hall, and we embarked on our Amsterdam canal cruise. By the time we crawled into our beds later that evening, it had been another adventure on the rivers and canals of Central Europe. The following morning we boarded our plane, and headed back home.Blog 20

As adventures go, ours was filled with all of the excitement, unusual experiences and it was peppered with a little danger, making the past couple of weeks an amazing and wonderful escapade indeed!

Shakespeare wrote the play, “All’s Well That Ends Well,” believed to be written between 1604 and 1605, and so if at the end everything isn’t all right, then it’s not the end.

Well, Jo-Ann we have ended this adventure, and all is well, now on to the next!

Thanks Percy, now that was how it really happened.

Percy Stoma

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