Day 632: Love’s Toil or Toilet?

[TAB NAME=’vIGNETTE’]As Laetitia walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian, she was smiling as she thought about last night’s party at Uncle Milt’s. As expected, Uncle Ralph annoyed Aunt Margaret by singing the Cream of Wheat song. Then Laetitia performed several songs she had written. The first two she sang solo, accompanied by Cousin Alicia on the piano. The one about Granny and her she simply called Laetitia’s Song. The second was a parody of Gilbert’s and Sullivan’s Modern Major General called Mind’s Eye Limerick Guide in Cornwall. Then her cousins Luciano and Bryn joined her for two more songs. Gaffe was inspired mostly by Robert Browning’s naive error when he wrote Pippa Passes. [Erik: Please link underlined stuff to Day 471.] Double Entendre grew out of the fun Laetitia had with puns and double meanings when she wrote limericks.

After leaving Digby, Laetitia and her group rented canoes in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site and spent several hours canoeing on Kejimkujik Lake. The historic site designation comes from the presence of petroglyphs featuring the hieroglyphic writing of the Mi’kmaq people who populated the area before the coming of the Europeans. The park is unusual in that it is in two physically separate locations. The lake where the Mind’s Eye tour group canoed is in the central upland area of the park. When they finished canoeing, the group went beach walking in the seaside portion of the park.

Afterward they went back across the peninsula to Annapolis Royal, their destination for the evening. Like many towns in the Maritimes, the community began as a French colony in 1605. It is the oldest continuously occupied settlement of Europeans in North America north of St. Augustine in Florida. During its history, it was the frequent scene of struggles for supremacy between the French and English and later between the Americans and English. It was attacked 13 times, more than any other North American place.

In the evening, Laetitia arranged with a local guide for a candlelight graveyard tour of the Garrison Cemetery. It was a great way to learn a bit of history about the town. The cemetery candlelight revelers stopped at a pub for a nightcap. There Laetitia overheard a conversation that she turned into the limerick of the day. At one table, an ardent young man who was about to go away on a trip was reading a poem called Love’s Toil by Omar Jabak to his sweetheart. When he announced the title, some drunk patrons at the next table began talking loudly about “love’s toilet.” Needless to say it spoiled the romantic mood of the occasion.[/TAB][TAB NAME=’lIMERICK’]The suitor was ardent and loyal
When he read to his sweetheart Love’s Toil
But some fellows did spoil it
When they talked of “love’s toilet”
In a pub in Annapolis Royal.[/TAB][END_TABSET]

Day 631: Dally at the Rally

One of the curses of being a limericist is that thinking about a particular word automatically calls to mind words that rhyme with it. So as Laetitia began to look at a map of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy, her thoughts first drifted to the nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy. And then when Laetitia saw that the Nova Scotia terminal for the Saint John ferry was Digby, she thought of Eleanor Rigby, from the Beatles song.

Laetitia and her group assembled at the appointed hour for the three-hour cruise on the ferry from Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia. Their voyage crossed the Bay of Fundy, noted for its exceptionally high tidal range. At their extremes, tidal ranges at Burntwood Head, Nova Scotia, have been recorded at 53.5 feet. The group arrived in Digby in the middle of the afternoon. Their first stop was the Admiral Digby Museum, dedicated to the town’s history. As was common for many communities in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, loyalists to the crown founded Digby at the time of the American Revolution. Rear Admiral Sir Robert Digby led the settlers who arrived on HMS Atlanta, a 24-gun brigantine.

After the museum, Laetitia and her group did a walkabout. Noting that Laetitia was leading a tour, one resident they encountered on their walk provided a lengthy discourse on the town’s history and festivals. During the heyday of cod fishing on the Grand Banks, Digby was a fishing town. In 1903, Digby schooners brought 3,317,000 pounds of fish into town to be processed. After cod fishing declined in the early twentieth century, the town became famous for its shellfish, especially scallops. Each year in August, the town holds their Scallop Days Festival.

Digby’s other festival is the Wharf Rat Rally, which attracts about 17,000 motorcyclists annually to this town of 2,000 residents. Laetitia was pleased to have missed the latter event, since the swelling crowds and street closings would have made conducting a tour difficult. The limerick of the day was a bit of unsolicited advice for an unsuspecting non-biking tourist who might blunder into town during the Wharf Rat Rally.

If forth from the ferry you sally
When they’re holding Digby’s Wharf Rat Rally
Prepare for delays
You might be stuck for days
So find someone with whom to dally.

Day 630: Cream of Wheat

It was time for another almost day off, so all Laetitia would need to do today was write a limerick. While a pot of Nicaraguan dark roast was brewing, she checked her email. There was a message from Elsa, inviting her to a party at Uncle Milt’s lake home in suburban Minneapolis. At the end of the invitation, Elsa said, “Uncle Ralph will be at the party. Maybe we can get him to annoy Aunt Margaret by singing the Cream of Wheat song.”

The comment brought back childhood memories of summers in Minneapolis visiting Uncle Ralph and Aunt Margaret. They had no children and often invited the three cousins, Laetitia, Elsa, and Sophie, to spend a few days with them and go to the zoo, various museums, or the Children’s Theatre. These excursions often took them past the Cream of Wheat building on Stinson Boulevard, and on one such occasion Uncle Ralph spontaneously burst into the radio jingle heard Saturday mornings on the Let’s Pretend show when he was a child. The words of the jingle were:

Cream of Wheat is so good to eat 
That we have it every day. 
It makes us strong as we sing this song
And it makes us shout HOORAY! 
It’s good for growing babies and grownups, too, to eat
For all the family’s breakfast 
You can’t beat Cream of Wheat.

Although Aunt Margaret tolerated most of the songs Uncle Ralph spontaneously burst out singing, she drew the line at radio jingles and berated him loudly, much to the delight of the three girls. So on each trip past the building, Uncle Ralph was buffeted by strongly worded requests for the song by the three cousins and equally strong protests from Aunt Margaret.

Although Laetitia wasn’t leading a tour, she still had to write a limerick. She decided to do one that had something to do with Minneapolis. Once, she and Elsa had gone to the milk-carton boat race that is part of the annual Minneapolis Aquatennial. One of the vessels competing in the race was a pirate ship called “The Black Udder.” Its builders no doubt picked the name as a parody of the BBC Television show Black Adder, starring Rowan Atkinson. They may not have known it’s a Scottish name for a gangrenous udder infection in ewes. The memory became the day’s limerick.

‘Twas chosen as a clever quip
The name of that milk-carton ship
But a name like “Black Udder”
Makes Scot farmers shudder
And thus is a bit less than hip.

Day 629: Saint John? Don Juan?

Laetitia and her group left Manners Sutton and headed for Saint John. They would spend the afternoon and evening there, and take the ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia the next day.

With a population of about 70,000, Saint John is New Brunswick’s largest city and has an interesting history. Samuel de Champlain discovered the mouth of a large river flowing into the Bay of Fundy on St. John the Baptist’s Day in 1604 and named it Fleuve Saint-Jean.The City of Saint John began life as a French colony in the 1630s. Its strategic location made it the frequent scene of battles between the English and French, and then the English and Americans. It was a refuge for Acadians driven out of Nova Scotia during the eighteenth century and a haven for loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. It then acquired a large Irish population after the 1845 Irish Potato Famine. It is now said to be the most Irish city in Canada.

Laetitia arranged for her group a tour of Saint John and environs with a local guide with instructions to join her for dinner at an Irish pub at an appointed hour. She went to the pub early and over a Guinness talked with a young local man named Johnny, who was of Irish descent. The gist of their conversation was that he deplored his parents’ habit of naming their children after saints, since it created an unreasonable expectation of pious behavior. It seemed to Laetitia that Johnny was neither more nor less pious than most men she’d met, but she used the conversation as the basis as the day’s limerick.

In Saint John, toung Johnny’s complaint
Was that he had been named for a saint
Were he named for Don Juan
Instead of Saint John
He could lead life with far less restraint.