Off Highway, Journeys of Nova Scotia Writers

Hello, Friends and Fellow Bloggers,

Please accept my gratitude for your continued support in me, my writing and photography. Every time you tell me that you enjoy what I do here and with my Photography and Fine Art it propels me forward.  Your encouragement and feedback is fuel for my passion to share my experiences, both internal and external.  So much so, that I collaborated on an anthology with my Writers group. What an experience!

I have two pieces published in this book, a poem titled Metamorphosis and a true story about an experience exploring standing stones on the Isle of Arran, Scotland, titled Mystery, Mysticism or Just Me?  If you like my Diary of a Seeker series, you’ll love this story. And, no, that series is not completed. There are still many more days to go!  I am working on an addition to Day 12.

I would love to see you! Come out and help me and my fellow Evergreen Writers launch my first ever published book at Alderney Gate Public Library, main level, this coming Saturday, Dec 16th between 2-4pm.  You’ll hear interesting stories and poetry from an eclectic mix of great people. If you can’t make it for a signed copy, you can still buy the book online.  Just click the link below. And, have an awesome day.



Again, thank you for your amazing support.



Building an Empire

Step by step,

Breath by breath…


Once again,

I find myself

Peering up, down…


All around.

So much to see…

Where could you be?


Ah… There you are!

Silently waiting to see

What will I do, next.


Smiling, I sit.

I look around contentedly.

I see you’ve been…

Building an empire.

Treasure Protected

Piece by piece.

Tree by tree.

Treasure discovered

Sheltered, protected, treasured…

Stored away for a cold winters’ day.

Treasure Sheltered

Hidden in tiny crevices.

What utter cleverness!


And, now I’ll leave you

To your reverie…


Where you reign supreme

In tree top dreams.


Worry, not.

Your secrets are always safe with me.



Early morning at Sandy Lake Trail

Nova Scotia

©Judi Risser



Day 12, Past Lives Remembered?

Oct, 16th

This day was special… Steeped in medieval history while simultaneously building a great new friendship.  Beautiful, inside and out, my friend, Dani Viola, whom I’ve met the first time I was in Scotland came round to pick me up so we could go exploring.  She also offered to do my laundry! What a kind soul….:)

Dani wanted me to see Roslyn Chapel. My excitement mounted as we drove the narrow road to the Chapel.  She revealed that Dan Brown’s, “The Da Vinci Code” led to this very spot! It is believed by many that The Holy Grail, proof of Jesus’ existence was hidden within the Chapel by the Knights of Templar centuries ago.




Day 11

Oct 15th,


Things are clearer, earlier in the morning…


Please help me be discerning

Not to want more then I need, for that is wasteful

Taking beyond my requirements is unnecessary, distasteful

Help me to recognize what is in my best interest

What helps me to experience you… Grow in grace

Remove myself from the attachments of this world

Be clear, calm, receptive and adaptive

Never fear… I’m not lacking

I am always provided for, whether I realize it or not

My responsibility is to accept everything that comes to me

Each and every one are opportunities

For peace, serenity, forgiveness and love

Thank you for bringing them to me

My brothers, my sisters, the darkness, the light

Highlighting the truth, exposing the lies

Disbelieving in love, denying the light

Forsaking my right

I am one with the one thing I’ve sought

I see, I am back where it all began

Deep, deep within myself… Is where

 I find true solace

Steadfastness, knowingness

For when I say “I love you”

I’m really saying, I love myself, too.


The mists rise at Penicuik House Stables


©Judi Risser

Day 10, Legends… a King, a Queen, a Saint and a White Hart

Oct 14th,

The Legend of the White Stag dates back to the 12th century and captures the essence of the mystical charm so endearing to Scotland.  At least for me…:)

Holyrood Palace 10

Against the rules of the times, King David decided to go hunting, when he should have been praying.  The King broke away from the hunting party in pursuit of a rare white stag. Arthurs Seat, behind the gates, in the pic above, was once a part of those hunting grounds.


Boldly, the White Stag, also known as the “Penicuik House” moved to attack the King, and when it did, the King grabbed it’s antlers.  At that precise moment, the antlers turned into a large cross and the deer disappeared. That night, in a dream, St Andrew, the Apostle of Scotland appeared to the King, instructing him to build a monastery, in gratitude for his life.

Holyrood Abbey is the monastery King David built as a consequence to his vision, in gratitude for his life being spared. Today, only one third of the Abbey remains standing.

Holyrood Palace 13

Who is St Andrew?

St Andrew, brother to Simeon, whom Jesus called Peter, was crucified in 69 AD by the Romans. He made one request before his death.  Believing that he was not to worthy to die on the same cross as Jesus, he asked to have the cross in the shape of an “x”.  His request was honoured.



Under the order of the Roman Emperor in 370 AD,  St Andrews’ remains were “sent to the ends of the earth for safe keeping.”  That place was a Pictish settlement on the eastern coast of Scotland, aptly named St Andrews.

The Picts and Scots related to St Andrew and the x became known as the Saltire Cross. A symbol represented on Scotland’s, the Union Jack’s and finally, on my own Canadian province, Nova Scotia’s flag, respectively.

Holyrood Palace 12

One of three ornate entrances to Holyrood Palace.


The Palace sits at the base of the Royal Mile, in the burgh Canongate.

Holyrood Palace 4

As I walked through the Palace, I listened to a pre-recorded tour, explaining the beautiful paintings at the entrance staircase, the ornate dining hall, sitting rooms and special pieces given as gifts to the royal family members throughout the ages. I saw the great hall walls adorned with paintings of all the monarchs dating back to Robert the Bruce.

Holyrood Palace 7

Scotland’s Motto “Nemo me immune lacessit” translated means, No One provokes me with impunity provides a foundation for the crest at the entrance of the Palace.

Holyrood Palace 5

My main interest in Holyrood Palace was to see where Mary Queen of Scots lived when she returned to Scotland after her husband the King of France died.  Here, she wed again, became pregnant, witnessed her husband murder her secretary and wed a third time, some believe under duress.


My heart hurts for your plight

If only life had been easier

But alas,

You lived a life others could never had survived

Your strength and perseverance, iconic

A model for women everywhere in any time

Rest in peace, dear Mary

Sent from my iPhone

Holyrood Palace 11

Some believe, the quaint Bathhouse below, is where Mary Queen of Scots came for solace and comfort.


My experience at Holyrood Palace, set the tone for the rest of my journey in Scotland.

I love the mythical stories, and strong historical characters. If we shared such visions today, I wonder how our friends and family would perceive us.  I guess, in time, I will see…

©Judi Risser


Day 9, Moving On

The bell tolled 7 times.  I’ve been awake for sometime now… And, am ready to go.

Exploring parts of Northern Ireland was lovely. But… Sigh…

Being so close, seeing it across the sea, made me realize how much I missed Scotland.  There were things I wanted to do the first time I was there, I wasn’t ready to do. Perhaps this time.  Perhaps this time, I will actually rent a vehicle and drive… And who knows where that will lead me!

I am happy to be moving on.  Belfast taught me a very important lesson. The same thing happened on my last day there as my first…. Intense anger directed towards me. Hmmm…. The second time while still a surprise, came much easier to handle.

I must never allow another person’s anger to cloud my own judgement. Even when my body may respond physically to a verbal attack, or a perceived verbal attack, I do not have to succumb to the fearful, anxious feelings that crawled up my arms and neck. I washed them away like dirt and grime and they disappeared down the drain.  Gone just as quickly as appeared!

I prayed. Dear God… I ask for Divine Protection, to keep me safe and to guide me to the right people for the best experiences of my life.

Farewell Belfast.

Farewell Belfast


Hello Edinburgh!

Hello Edinburgh


Well, I gotta tell you, I was just tickled pink about so many things!

Firstly, this room was sooooo sweet! And, once I saw the place, I arranged to stay here for 3 more nights. This was what I needed… To be alone and focused… And, so, I asked for it, it is being arranged…I feel it.  Thank you!!!!! Three more days here….


My Happy Cow App led me right to Vegan Haggis! Comfort Food… Yum!



A little stroll around Edinburgh.



Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle


The Royal Mile



©Judi Risser


Day 8, Humbled

My Irish friends graciously showed me their lovely countryside with pride.  I was honoured.  Here’s a glimpse of my experience.


Sculpted from ancient rays

Mourne Mountain beckons

Me… A humble seeker


Endless rock walls guide me

Between fluffy white beings

Nibbling on 40 shades of green


Swaths of burnt brown

Gently kissed by golden light

Tiptoe into a Silent Valley


Bidding me… My untold dream

It’s only request….

“Set yourself free!”


And, then we went to Church but no, not just any Church…. Down Cathedral




I was meant to have an education today on one of the most famous Saints of all time.


St Patrick Converting the Chieftans


Did you know… St Patrick was abducted from his home and forced into slavery at 16? Living as a shepherd in Ireland was a harsh and isolated existence. God became his sole companion.

Six years later, a voice spoke to him and urged him to flee.  He escaped and returned to his home, where again, he had yet another dream.  He was told to return to Ireland, the people needed him.  Some stories say it was the children of Ireland who called to him….

He returned to Ireland, many years later, as a priest.  Through the Chieftains, he converted the majority of Ireland to Christianity. It is said, he used the three leafed Shamrock, to explain how the Trinity; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit exist together.

For 40 years he ministered to the Irish and was known to perform all sorts of miracles, such as raising people from the dead and banishing all the snakes from the Island.  He was known to have had at least 8 prophetic dreams or visions.

The anniversary of his death, the 17th of March, is celebrated widely, with increasing verve, in North America as “St Paddy’s Day”.  I wonder how many of the celebrants know who he was and what he did. I didn’t know anything about him till this experience.

Research shows that St Patrick was responsible for the end of slavery in Ireland.

St Patricks’ life is a testament to God’s Great Work. Think about it… Think about the way God uses what happens to us to help ourselves and others, if we let Him.


St Patrick's Grave sign


I felt honoured and further humbled to be in the presence of his remains.


St Patrick


Once, inside the Cathedral, I prayed….


Inside St Patrick's Church


God, guide my sight with your light

Guide my thoughts, words and deeds

Give me everything I need

To be the blessing I am meant to be

Thank ye, for all I am

And, have yet, to be.



Sent from my iPhone



©Judi Risser