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Bruce's Blog || Just sayin'. . .

Character, Accidents in Life, One Breath

Posted on February 09, 2019 by Bruce MacNaughton

Good Morning from Prince Edward Island,

Put the kettle on; I’m dropping in for tea.

In last week’s blog, Celtic Circle of Life, Wellness and Old Growth Forests, I spoke about starting new habits one item at a time.

Well, Steve Reeves is a living example of someone who took life by the horns and wrestled it for renewal of mind and family. What a wonderful story of how an accident led this Island dairy farmer to competitive ultra-running.

Read it here.

Congratulations also goes out to Marilyn Sheen of Prince Edward Island as she is one of 35 Loran Scholars for 2019 to be awarded a 100,000 dollar scholarship.

The selection of a Loran Scholar is unique in its attention to a young person’s character. The organization believes that integrity, courage, grit and personal autonomy are better indicators of overall potential than standard academic measures. To discover these traits, they administer the most comprehensive and thorough scholarship selection process in Canada.

Founded in 1988, the founders responded to what they recognized as a gap in the Canadian system of merit-based financial assistance to university students. Only a small proportion of overall financial aid is directed to those who show promise of the leadership and other talents that will make their communities better places both during and after their university careers.

In the words of their founder Dr. Robery Cluett, the heart of their work is the belief that “breadth, openness to challenge, and willingness to take risk are many times more important than any quantitative measure of promise.”

Kudos to Marilyn Sheen, read her story here

These two stories had me thinking about character.

Life is about character.

Where does character come from?

Can we change?

Anthony Robbins states, “It’s not what’s happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you’ve become. Rather it’s your decision about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you’re going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”

And John Wooden is quoted as having said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

So, as we head into next week, be present today, change what you will and prepare for what your true self longs to hear...I can do this.  

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." Stephen Covey

Today, I have been listening to Piano Covers 4, Max Arnald. Listen here.

If you appreciate beauty, the kind which underwater experiences offer, you will love this video. 

With love from Prince Edward Island.




"We have your son," said the kidnapper.

"I don't have a son," says the woman.

"Then who just asked for warm milk and made us cut the crust off his sandwiches?"

"Oh God, you have my husband."

Brain on Music, Maternal Bonds, and Important Rituals

Posted on November 17, 2018 by Bruce MacNaughton

Good Morning from Prince Edward Island,

Standing on our front deck, at 7 a.m. I managed to capture this photograph with my phone camera.

Something tells me we are in a long winter, but...

If beauty continually reveals itself, then nothing will be long, it will all be too short.


Today is National Adoption Day in the United States. Check out facts and figures, here. 

Locally, on the Island, there has been a lot of news regarding the opening of adoption records, and to this, the province has agreed to open the files to those seeking to connect, though the birth mother or adult child can veto the request to meet.

Families don't have to match. You don't have to look like someone else to love them. ~ Leigh Anne Tuohy

Wishing not to wade into the debate. I certainly can’t speak for the mothers seeking the whereabouts of her child but I can speak as an adopted person.

I understand first hand the sense of feeling like you don’t belong, and there can be an ache. As this report suggests, Psychological Issues Faced By Adopted Children And Adults

Perhaps because the maternal bonds broken at the mothers moment of decision, or perhaps of the new family experience contributed to the sense of belonging or not.

We must understand and recognize it may well not have been a decision made by the mother, it may have been families succumbing to societal or religious pressures of the day, it could have been medical, financial or many other reasons. 

If the veto works against you as an adoptee might I suggest giving thanks for the Mother who chose to provide you with life? 

I am so grateful for the chance at life and very appreciative for my birth mother who may have made alternative decisions that would not have allowed this heart of mine to beat.

Life is complicated at times, and I find it best to find peace of mind through gratitude and forgiveness and...


Our American cousins are busy preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, and there are lots to be thankful about. 

My wish is for the political rhetoric that is affecting life in the communities of the world will be put aside around the table and in the home to enjoy the fact that nothing should be taken for granted. 

Regardless of one's bias, all we have is each other.

The American Psychological Association reviewed 50 years of research and concluded that family routine and rituals are critical to the health and well being of families more than ever as they try to meet the increasing demands of juggling work and home. Rituals and traditions have become more, not less, of the rock that offers us stability and reassurance in more frenetic, demanding and stressful times. They create a much-needed sense in today’s increasingly isolated world of togetherness and belonging.


Those of you who have been following my blog know that I love music, I am growing especially fond of classical music. As I write today, I have been listening to Hilary Hahn. 

The music of J.S. Bach has long sat at the centre of Hilary Hahn’s repertoire. As for many musicians, it exerts a fascination, both intellectual and emotional, that inspires playing of very appealing elegance and insight. At times it feels as if she’s playing just for you, so enjoy the best seat in the house for three masterpieces for the solo violin.

Listen here

I struggled for many years unable to read books.

My own theories were enhanced this week whilst reading neuroscience found a clear relationship between music and language acquisition. Learning music in the early years of schooling can help children learn to read. If you wish to read more, do so here or at least watch this short video on music research. 

Music education was not an option for us at school or at home.

Never too late...

Not classical music in the truest sense, but I have always enjoyed the harmonica sound and have attempted to play it from time to time. So to expand my brain, I am 80% committed to going to Jam Camp here in late April to learn how to.  

Taking care of business...

Our hardworking staff are busy doing work they are proud of for people we care about.

Check out our Taste PEI options, where you can add a wide range of Island quality food producers to gift boxes to be shipped and or our best sellers. Next week will be offering to ship live or cooked lobster and fresh oysters within Canada. 

Before signing off, I do hope this finds you well and able to enjoy the weekend.

To our Amercian cousins, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day and week ahead.

With love from Prince Edward Island,


ps. We have two very smart daughters. 

“Daddy, I inherited my intelligence from you, didn’t I?”

“That’s right my clever girl!”

“That makes sense because mommy still has hers.”

Clouds, From Cambridge to Rome, and Afternoon Tea

Posted on July 28, 2018 by Bruce MacNaughton

Do you hear the thirsty Prince Edward Island soil, slurping up every last drop of rain that fell from the skies earlier this week? 

We desperately needed that rain, and we need more, but we are all grateful for every single drop. Being an Island surrounded by salt water, our water system is dependent on the rainfall and snowfall to replenish our water aquifers.  And we give thanks for all that is provided.

Our visitors seem to be enjoying the warm weather we’ve had during the later parts of July. Many, travelling from the southern United States, are appreciating the temperatures here which, though high for Islanders, is quite comfortable for those used to much hotter climates.

I am grateful that we have four seasons, though to be honest, I do wish our spring would be a wee bit more pleasant.

With this hot and humid weather comes a thirst for cold drinks, straws and ice. 

A journey we are on at work is the try and remove plastic from our operation, not an easy task but a worthwhile one. We have succeeded with the easy one of plastic straws. 

You may find this article on the health dangers of plastic straws an interesting one by the Washington Post, click here

Now on the ice side of this conversation, if you like trivia, you might enjoy this ice cube obsession story in Quartz, click here.

We heard wonderful comments from our guests this year and based on the words shared they love the staff, the gardens, the butterfly house and the products. What more can one ask?

Our professional success is not measured strictly in dollars and cents, but when visitors share the joy that our place brings to them, we feel successful.  

When we started with four staff 30 years ago in New Glasgow, we had no idea that we would grow to 90 people here helping us. Fair to say there have been lots of blood, sweat and tears in the making of this.

I am not the same character who started the business and there are many to thank for that, but coming to the realization that there is a God and I am not it is probably the biggest one I am grateful for. That's personal success. 

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience and trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ~ Helen Keller, first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree, author and activist.

We are getting close to have our afternoon tea menu complete and will begin serving afternoon tea Tuesdays and Thursdays in our private room, “The Teahouse.” We will announce its official start soon.

Our gluten free kitchen will soon be ready and we will offer to bake safe and secure gluten-free items for those whose needs are such.

We opened our Garden Theatre Cafe this past week, we learned a lot, and by working out a few more kinks, we will have another spot on the property to enjoy a meal.

Two things are happening while I write this to you this morning, one is the clouds, and the other is the music. 

I share a photo of the clouds I took from the deck when I sat down to write this morning at 6:30 am. 

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~ John Lubbock

The music I listened to today while writing, is a classical and choral album called Tecchlers Cello: From Cambridge to Rome

Sample listen here.

I enjoy listening to this genre of music when I need to think and do. 

I think the cello is the instrument designed to stir our soul.

What kind of music do you enjoy and why? I'd love to know. Please comment. 

Here is a video about the album by Guy Johnson, the one responsible for this album. 


The Gift of Music

Posted on December 20, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

Loving music or at least the sound of music ( I can't play a thing) has always captured my heart and mind. My musical tastes have morphed from my first album by Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced and second being Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.  It goes on from there to over 2000 records, CD's, etc. purchased. My musical taste has always been eclectic, but I find myself drawn to classical and choral the last few years. Now with the advent of Apple Music or similar streaming services, they basically make the worlds musical catalogue available to enjoy for ten dollars a month. 

A few years ago I read an interesting article, 50 People Who Changed Classical Music Forever in a BBC Classical Music magazine.

What I found intriguing was by their account number one was Pythagoras, c.570-495 BC; Greek mathematician and philosopher.

The story goes like this, he was walking by a blacksmith shop and noticed how hammers of different weights striking against anvils could create agreeable harmonies. He later experimented by plucking a string and found the simplest ratios produced pleasurable sounds. And so the foundation for music begins.

Number two was Jesus Christ b.o. AD; Son of God.

It is a reality that the quantities of music too many to be measured would ever have been established as core repertoire in Western classical tradition and certainly never written had not Jesus of Nazareth existed. Can you imagine Christmas without Handle's Messiah or Bach's Passions? He is the primary initiator and remains to this day an emblematic figure for music composers of all musical styles drawn to examine storylines of birth, struggle, death and resurrection. 

As you go about your holidays, I hope the music you are fortunate to hear this Christmas moves you in a good way. (The radio moves me to turn it off most days!) LOL

I hope you enjoy some of the music videos I have shared on this blog, they are some of my favourite Christmas music videos. 

Andre Bocelli - The Lord's Prayer with Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Close your eyes and listen to the beautiful song written by Lennie Gallant, one of Canada's best songwriters. Lennie strikes a chord within while he hauntingly sings The Innkeeper, artwork by his sister Karen Gallant

I could add so much more to this blog, but this last one is for individuals who will be missing loved ones this Christmas, perhaps for the first time. If so our hearts go out to you, and we hope you find some solace in this video. This song is best appreciated by those who know the real reason for the season and who celebrate the birth of Christ. 

Song sang by Craig Aven accompanied by The Piano Guys. ( have the tissue at hand )

Shirley, I and all the staff from The Preserve Company want to sincerely wish you and yours a wonderfully cozy and beautiful Christmas. 

With Love from Prince Edward Island!!!



Hummingbird Season is upon us!

Posted on June 10, 2017 by Bruce MacNaughton

I have some wonderful news about Lucy! You may recall, I wrote about this special Island duck a couple of weeks ago and how she returns to the Charlottetown Superstore Garden Centre each year to lay her eggs. (If you missed it, you can read that story here: )

Well, Lucy’s eggs hatched last week, and it was time for this little family to leave the Superstore and head back home. The Charlottetown Police Department gallantly stopped traffic on the busiest road in PEI, so the family could safely cross on its way to a neighbouring pond.

You can read the story and watch the video here:

The police help Lucy every year. It makes us curious about how the police department decides which officer gets the privilege of helping Lucy cross the road. Any ideas?

Speaking of birds, we’re so pleased to welcome the ruby-throated hummingbirds back to Prince Edward Island for the season.

We have feeders hanging around the restaurant and throughout the gardens, both to provide these little birds with an extra source of food and because we just love watching them!

Did you know there are roughly 330 species of hummingbirds in the world? We generally only see about a dozen of those in North America, above Mexico.

It’s so easy to attract hummingbirds. All you need is some sugar, water, and an inexpensive feeder. We use a ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water when we first hang the feeders, and then after more flowers are in bloom for the birds to feed from, we gradually change the ratio to 1:4. There’s no need to put red dye in with this mixture, as the birds are attracted to the colour of the feeder and the red dye may be harmful to our feathered friends. So, save your money and don’t buy that hummingbird food you see in stores. Just make your own.

Do you see hummingbirds where you live? I would love to hear about the varieties of birds that visit your gardens. (And I’m serious about finding out about the Lucy crossing guard duty … in case any Charlottetown police officers are reading this!)

I went to a muscial event last night in Brackley Beach to see the family group Clan Hanigan at the North Atlantic Tionol. What a night of music. The place was packed with traditional music lovers and musicians. 

If you love music, storytelling, and dance, the next two weeks on Prince Edward Island is the place to be! The annual Small Halls Festival has started and I am looking forward to taking in 3 or 4 events. For more info click here: