Saturday, 26 July 2008
Later Kerry and I stayed home with Sam and Tyren while the others went to the Saturday market.
I will post some pictures of Max and Sam later ... they were VERY happy to see one another again. More when I can.
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
First stop was The Tangled Garden ... a wonderful garden fashioned along the same lines as The Secret Garden ... and a combination art studio and store selling homemade jams, jellies, vinegars and cordials ... a prize. I picked up some special savoury jams to serve with meat and fish.
Next was Grand Pré and the Evangeline Centre where Kerry bought Acadian prints and toys and I bought a cook book. I kept looking for Un Acadien Errant on CD but couldn’t find it. It is a song that recurs in The Way the Crow Flies because Mimi is an Acadian.
Back to Wolfville for lunch from the Lunch Box, a vegetarian restaurant on Main Street.
Then on to a museum in Centreville that honours a concrete maker, Charles Macdonald, now dead, who was clearly eccentric, imaginative, inventive and an enterprising socialist. (He and a neighbour held weekly meetings at which luminaries like Tim Buck showed up. They sang communist and socialist songs to the tunes of hymns so no one would suspect!) It turns out that he practised his craft on a series of hobbit houses around Hall’s Harbour ... and once again I found myself remembering that abortive trip to Nova Scotia in 2001. Roy and I had delighted in these hobbit houses when we stumbled upon them. We’d wondered who possessed the imagination to create them. Kerry and I headed out to see them again now that we knew some of the history. We met Fred Macdonald, the creator’s great nephew, who showed us in and around the one he uses as his family cottage. He rents out the one next door ... I am interested ... and so is Kerry. It would be a kind of glorified camping in a unique place. We got his email address and will check out when it is free.
We bought a flat of peewee eggs for $1, some local corn and potatoes, and then drove to Canning for chowder. Enroute we saw a field with three brightly coloured doors opening into it. I didn’t have my camera, dammit.
In Canning we arranged to see a house in Kingsport and, as we were early, went down to check out high tide. It is impressive.
The house was not as impressive. It had good and bad qualities and was shown to us by a man with a very strong local accent and several tics ... most verbal ... which he used as spacers in conversation ... he also spat on the grass every time he made a point ... not one of those awful hawking spits that come from the lungs ... these were clear ... the kind boys practise when they are trying to appear manly. He wasn’t a very good liar because each falsehood or exaggeration was highlighted by one of these mannerisms. Maurice had gone fishing in Kingsport and joined us as we were taking the tour. He described the owner as a living museum piece.
It was a good day, and since we are likely going to be getting a taste of the weather that has flooded the Halifax- Lunenburg area with 100 mm of rain, we picked a good day for our touring.
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Yesterday Kerry and I went out in the morning to see an old farmhouse ... it was lovely ... 200 years old ... great lot ... two really nice outbuildings for a playhouse and a workshop-studio ... and a house that had strength of character and a quirky personality ... it gave Kerry the same kind of feeling we both got from the school house ... it had imperfections of course ... everything that ages does ... but it felt like Kerry’s house.
We stopped at the Saturday market on the way home ... ate samosas ... I saw a wonderful felted tea cozy for $65 ... not sure whether I want to spend $65 right now though.
When we got home I curled up and read The Way the Crow Flies for a while and then had a nap with Kenya.
Kerry suggested curried fish for dinner and my stomach involuntarily revolted at the thought of yellow fish. She showed me the recipe and it looked yummy. I did the peas and rice and she prepared the fish. Maurice worked on his taxes.
While the rice was cooking I went out with Sam in the stroller and Kenya on the leash ... and took the upper route because it was less hilly and easier with both of them.
Lo and behold ... Mrs. Langley’s garage door was open! Seated in the entrance were an old lady wearing dark glasses and a younger woman. I called in, “Mrs. Langley. You won’t remember me but I am Barbara Scott from Halifax ... Miriam’s friend.” The younger woman got up and came and gave me a hug. It was Miriam. We hadn’t seen each other in 53 years!
She looked great. Very dark hair with some salt mixed in. Slim. Attractive. Looked to be in her fifties, not her late sixties. She is living in Halifax in an apartment on Spring Garden Road. Was in her sister Diane’s cottage in east Chezzacook but got tired of the wood stove etc. and she doesn’t drive so wanted to be within walking distance of everything. Donna has settled around the corner ... come from St. John’s. Wayne is still in Toronto. Abner died at 77, 22 years ago. We are going to get together again next week. She has company coming to stay with her at the cottage for a week but will be back next Saturday. I am anxious to have a really good chin wag without a baby and a dog ... even though both were well behaved and gave Mrs. Langley something to play with. She is now 97 ... imagine.
I told her how important she had been in my life. Miriam understood, but Mrs. Langley said she couldn’t remember any of that.
I realized later that I have written over and over again about Miriam and her family ... in Explosion of Fire and Ice ... in a short piece on Best Friends ... on my blog the other day ... I would like to share those things with Miriam.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
July 15, 2008
Rock hounding at the harbours ...
The morning was pretty laid back ... and stinking hot and humid. After lunch we headed off to cooler climes ... Baxter’s and Hall’s Harbours where we clambered over rocks and seaweed to hunt for rocks. At Hall’s Harbour I suddenly realized I had been there before.
The lobster wharf was where I learned that the planes had crashed into the twin towers. Roy and I were touring Nova Scotia. We had spent the night at a B&B in Wolfville, had eaten breakfast with the rest of the guests and listened to classical music as we ate. No one had turned on any source of news so we were absolutely unaware of what was happening in New York.
When we arrived for lunch at Hall’s Harbour we sat down at one of the trestle tables to wait for our orders. A car pulled up and its occupants made the announcement. Everything changed. Radios were turned on and no one could talk of anything else as the news filtered in. We went back to the B&B and, like everyone else, spent the evening huddled around the tv. Halifax, our next stop, was now out of the question as all the hotels were housing people stranded there. We decided to head home a week early.
Roy changed over the course of the trip into a mini-American waving his stars and stripes and cursing all things Arabic. It took him a couple of months to recall his politics ... but by then I think it was too late for us.
July 16, 2008
I may end up going to a lake this afternoon ... with Margot ... I will see ...
I am not sure I want to take a freshly groomed dog swimming and lose all that expensive scent.
July 17, 2008
I ended up spending yesterday in a very comfortably lazy way. Early in the morning I took Kenya for an hour long walk, then drove her to the groomer. When I got back I got a call from Maurice. He needed his glasses, so I drove to New Minas to deliver them. Then I picked Kenya up at noon. (She smells like a coconut cream pie and is lovely and puppy-fluffy.)
I read for a while and then drove Kerry to an appointment. After wandering around downtown, I finally ended up having fair trade coffee and a samosa in Just Us to wait for her. When we got home I helped Maurice assemble the barbecue, and we made dinner and then went to the reservoir for a swim. It was wonderful, and reminded me of the lake.
I miss Pike Lake. I like it here and appreciate the bounty associated with a much warmer climate, but I miss the fresh coolness of the lake and the Gatineau Hills.
This morning after Kenya’s walk Kerry and I went to the Reservoir for an early morning swim. A lovely way to start the day ... a combination of Pike Lake peace and a view of Blomidon in mist. We didn’t take Kenya. Her coconut smell and air dried fluffiness is like having your own hair styled professionally. Looks great but you don’t want to ruin it all by going swimming. However; I will take her there to chase sticks in the water one day because a truly happy hound tends to smell like lake water and dogginess.
Monday, 14 July 2008
Afterwards we went to a park where they were fund raising for a dance group that had lost its space in a fire. Also going on were consciousness raising and volunteer seeking for a summer camp for teens and young adults with special needs. People sold food and drinks and musicians entertained. Maurice was one of the musicians. Unfortunately we missed his performance because the art class went overtime. We ate hot dogs and chatted at a picnic table under a tree. Maurice kept Sam with him.
About 2 o’clock Sam arrived at our picnic table in the arms of an ebullient woman called Margot with a “t”. I took a photo and then Sam caught sight of Kerry and set up his raptor cry. It turns out that Margot is a neighbour of Mrs. Langley who was one of the mothers of my childhood days in Halifax. She is now in her nineties but still living in her own home. Kerry and I plan to visit her soon.
I gave Margot a ride home and we made plans to meet for a movie that evening. I planned to walk the dog and have a snooze before we met. She planned to pile firewood and hang bells in her cherry tree to protect the almost ripe fruit from the crows.
At 7:15 Margot arrived with a can of beer to share. We drank it and then walked down to the Acadia Theatre on Main Street. Margot knows everyone and introduced me to several of the raging grannies of Wolfville. I hope to attend one of their meetings before I go home. The movie was a clever bit of romantic fluff ... British ... feel good ... the audience clapped. It was a little like being at the By Towne but even more community oriented. The man who sold tickets and ran out of loonies and toonies was a town councillor. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. More like a house party than a public movie house.
After the movie, we went in to the Irish pub next door where we ate good junk food, had a couple of drinks and listened to a very laidback Celtic jam session.
On the walk home we decided to meet on Tuesday at noon for an aquafit class.
Margot is an explosion of energy and committed to several causes ... the environment especially ... but also HIV-AIDS and AIDS-orphaned children in Africa. She was raised as an army brat, always moving, but never felt as if she were without a home because her parents made her feel absolutely secure and because they knew the importance of maintaining their rootedness in the Annapolis Valley. Her bedroom in every new posting, and even today, houses the furniture she has had since she was three. Her home is the one in which she lived with her parents after their retirement, and later with her invalid mother till she died. Her family goes back many generations here and she is related to half the townspeople.
How very different from my own un-parented and continually uprooted childhood in which the steadiness and calm of Mrs. Langley, the mother of my best friend and the Baptist minister’s wife, was an oasis of sanity. I remember their home as the one place where there was love and order. A place where people lived their lives by strict rules and felt absolutely certain of who they were and how much they were loved ... by their family ... by the community ... by God. I don’t think Miriam ever had a new piece of clothing in the four years she was my best friend, and her make-up consisted of a jar of Vaseline. She had chores every Saturday morning and church all day Sunday. But she was beautiful and content with her life. I envied her the family outings to pier 69 and the community garden, the security of a mother who poached eggs in milk and made bread, but wondered why she didn’t rail against her father’s restrictions. I think I am beginning to understand now.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Well! I was taking Kenya out for her last pee of the night and just standing on the front lawn waiting for the act to occur when, out of the night, a small dark coloured car pulled up to the curb and parked with the motor running. One young man got out of the back seat and headed for the apple orchard corner of Skyway and Kent. The other two swarthy young men emerged, their cigarettes glowing red in the dark. Kenya and I stood there, probably invisible, as they settled themselves against the car waiting for their friend. I walked forward with Kenya, out of the shadows, thinking they would say something when they saw me. They ignored us and began speaking to one another in Arabic or some other equally obscure language. Then they sped away.
I told Kerry and Maurice about it and Maurice called the police. Well, he tried to, but none of his house phones worked.
He had told us an hour before that the call Kerry made to Rob had never been terminated. Kerry was sure she had ended the call. Was this all part of something nefarious?
Maurice used his cell phone to call the RCMP. By the time they arrived and I spoke to them, the car had circled the block, driven in to the orchard and backed out with the man on foot following, and headed down Skyway.
Now we had to deal with the downed land line ... was there some kind of connection here? Or were these simply unrelated coincidences?
An unterminated phone call ... a mysterious car ... the failure of a home phone ...
Some might suspect a terrorist attack ... I just thought young thieves ... but maybe it was phone hijackers ... anyway, far more exciting than my usual blog entries!
Tomorrow Kerry and I are going to a water colour class and a music concert where Maurice will be playing and then company is coming ... Not as anxiety ridden but perhaps as exciting as this evening’s almost home invasion!
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Tomorrow we are going to a spa to have her nails clipped ... I wish I could have her bathed as well because she is shedding her undercoat and doesn’t smell wonderful. But apparently groomers are in short supply here so we may have to find an out of town spa for the bath.
We are also going to the Saturday market tomorrow. I am looking forward to that expedition because Kerry has been so enthusiastic about it.
What did we do today? Walked dogs, cleaned, bought a barbecue, went to the Dollar Store, ate a great Vietnamese shrimp and many veggied salad, and that’s about all ... a very domestic day ... and I liked it.
I like Wolfville because it makes geographically good sense to me. (Not many places do.) And I like the disconnect I encountered in the grocery store when I went to buy rice noodles. I hunted and hunted ... no rice noodles. I had almost resigned myself to having to buy those Mr. Noodles packages whose main ingredient is salt, but decided to ask the boy at the cash if he knew where I might find the rice noodles. He was as clueless as I expected him to be but the young woman who was paying her bill told me that they were in the pasta aisle on a very low shelf ... and they were almost always out of stock. I returned the Mr. Noodle packages and hunted again among the shelves of wheat noodles. Finally I spotted two packages of Thai rice noodles on a bottom shelf across the aisle. I grabbed them. If the young woman had been there when I got back I would have shared. She wasn’t, so I hoarded.
Today we went to the open air market without the dogs ... and had a good time despite the heat and the no-see-ums. It is a vibrant market with music, crafts, good food, and beautiful fresh vegetables and organic meat and poultry products.
Later we took the dogs to the beach at Kingsport where Kenya seemed relaxed for the first time since we left home. It was the first place that was natural. It was a fun time ... slices of pizza, a drink, rock hounding, and ice cream cones.
Next week we will worry about spa time. I could use a good massage too!
News Alert!!Read tomorrow's blog for really exciting almost home invasion news!
Friday, 11 July 2008
Yesterday I went with Kerry and Sam to the massage therapy centre. I looked after Sam while Kerry got a massage. Sam emits a shriek that rivals a raptor’s scream whenever he is unhappy. He was not happy when Kerry disappeared. It was pouring rain and we were in a tiny shopping mall with massage and osteopathic centres, a consignment store, a video rental place and a store that sold stoves and bikes. We visited them all, stopping to play with used toys, read flyers, and see what new movies were available. Sam cried off and on. Finally he began to doze off and I returned to the waiting room. As soon as Sam caught a whiff of the aromatic oils used in the place he remembered that his mother had abandoned him and began to wail again. We made another tour and I picked up a couple of tourist brochures, settled myself down on the floor with my back against the wall and rocked him back to sleep. Eventually my legs, which have been stiff and cranky ever since the drive without cruise control, began to ache. I moved them, one at a time with my free hand, careful not to disturb Sam. The hour was broken up by a vist from a chubby red haired girl who cooed in a most maternal way at Sam and found me another brochure to read, by waves from the owner of the consignment store and the occasional word of greeting or comment on the weather from her customers. Feeling as though my bum were numb I managed to get myself off the floor and into the waiting room without waking Sam, settled myself on the couch and read the Halifax Chronicle Herald. The main feature story on the front page was about an eleven year old boy who won a math competition. I was relieved when Kerry emerged and Sam, instantly awake and wailing, became her charge again.
Then we went to the famous Frenchies. Almost everyone I met before I left told me how lucky I was to be going to Nova Scotia ... because they had Frenchies. So now I was about to experience the joy of second hand shopping raised to a fine art. I got two skirts for under $10. Kerry got lots of stuff for herself and the children. It was fun. Sam played in the bins of clothing and amused the women shoppers by talking to them and grinning happily.
Before coming home we stopped at the liquor store and I had my first taste of Nova Scotia wine. I bought a bottle of Jost’s Prima Rosa and was surprised by how much it tasted like a good Nouveau Beaujolais. After a great Asian pork dinner we settled in to watch Juno. I cried. Memories of being sixteen and pregnant, I guess, though Juno had a lot more attitude than I remember having at that age. It was a good day.
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
I am here in Wolfville ... finally! Right now I have a dog on either side of me and I am sitting at Arrow’s little desk. Mica thinks I am wonderful because I took her out on Kenya’s collar and leash as soon as I came in from walking Kenya early this morning. There are no arguments between the dogs. Mica is simply the boss dog here and Kenya knew her place the minute she walked in the door.
It was a long drive from L’ile du Perrot. I left around 6 a.m. and there was already heavy traffic getting through Montreal, but I emerged from the Louis Hippolite Tunnel at 7 a.m. Had I left any later I’d have hit rush hour traffic and it likely would have taken at least two hours.
Then began the drive along the Trans Canada through Quebec. Quebec does it well with rest stops every few kilometres. These rest stops are very people- and dog-friendly with wooded areas, snack bars, bathrooms and picnic tables. In between these stops are gas stations. I paid $1.45.4 per litre in Quebec.
I stopped in Edmundston in the afternoon and stayed at a Days Inn. They are pet friendly and we had a good rest in an air conditioned room. After driving all day in an un-air-conditioned car in 31 degree temperatures it felt like heaven.
We were on the road again by 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday. The New Brunswick highway system is impressive. The road surfaces are like butter, the speed limit is 110, and there is almost no traffic, so I felt as if I were flying ... but across an alien landscape. It is beautiful of course. The highway has been carved out of spectacular landscape and you are often treated to great sweeping vistas, but it feels unpopulated. Not just because of the traffic ... but you travel across miles and miles of landscape without seeing any sign of habitation. Not even a cow. I did see four deer, a couple of small animals and a beautiful little fox ... all still and stiff beside the road.
I needed gas so I went off at Hartland where signs advertised gas. Then I searched. I came to an Irving station where the pumps were as still and dead as the road kill. I asked a motorist standing beside his car if there were a station further up the road. He didn’t know. He was from Ontario. I took my chances and drove and drove and drove until I finally came to a road that would take me to Hartland. I filled up at $1.40.5 and made my way back to the highway.
A couple of hours later I wanted to take a pee break, unpack a sandwich for me and fill up Kenya’s water bowl, so I left the highway again. This time I found myself on an inhospitable two lane highway with no shoulder between it and the barbed wire fence. Across the road were a few trailers perched on straggly lawns. We walked anyway and except for the occasional blast of wind as a transport rushed past, were quite alone. Kenya is developing the attitude I was forced to adopt in Africa. If the vehicle stops you take advantage of any bathroom available because it may be hours before the next opportunity arises. As a result she finished her business quickly. As I walked back to the car I thought about my own options. I opened both doors on the passenger side and hitched up my skirt, pushed aside my panties, and peed too. Quite a feat when your other hand is holding a leash. I learned a great many lessons in Africa, not the least valuable of which was to wear a skirt while traveling. A pit stop along the road to Nairobi with women on one side of the road and men on the other and only one very white bum mooning everyone is not easily forgotten.
New Brunswick is teaching me that you fill your tank wherever you actually see a station, and that you should not expect any amenities like toilets or picnic tables or even human beings from whom you might get directions. It was her experience with New Brunswick that made Kerry tell me to get a cell phone. I didn’t need it on the way here, but I am sure glad I have one for the trip back.
I filled the tank one more time before entering Nova Scotia. The price was $1.38.8. Imagine thinking that is cheap! Nova Scotia prices are higher. So far Ontario prices have been the lowest and Quebec’s the highest.
After the barrens of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia felt positively cozy. The man at the toll booth was very old and very sweet. Told me to turn on my air conditioning. I said I had none ... and he advised me to open my windows and travel at 60 mph. After a few miles of modern highway, I found myself on a two lane road with a crumbling tarry surface. Surely this couldn’t be Highway 14 West. I stopped at a friendly little frame house and got out of the car. The woman came out before I was halfway up her walk. Yes this was 14 West. I just had to keep following it and eventually I would get to a sign for Wolfville.
Well it wasn’t quite that simple, and 14 West continued for another 60 kilometres, but I felt immeasurably happier traveling at 80 kph along this very human road from one hamlet to the next than I had for all those hours flying along the super highway.
I passed a sign advertising Hants County and immediately saw a red muddy river bed that reminded me of my days at boarding school where we called our caramel pudding Avon River mud.
Almost before I knew it I was in Wolfville and heading up Kerry’s street. Every place in Nova Scotia is just a few miles from the next, just as everything in a smallish city like Ottawa is only a twenty minute drive away. So very different from traveling across large provinces or within large cities. The only times I have felt almost as small as I did in New Brunswick were in Mongolia and Namibia ... both of which have vast sparsely populated landscapes. Scale does matter. But something else matters too. Namibia did not feel as empty because there were so many wild animals moving and grazing in herds in the grasslands along the roads. The occasional warthog raced the vehicle, and the wild birds were so unafraid they sometimes became supper. And in Mongolia you would pass lone herdsmen traveling with their animals, and clusters of round gers ... the temporary settlements of nomadic families ... often enough to know you would never be completely stranded. New Brunswick felt much emptier to me.
I encountered almost more transports than cars. One almost rear ended me as we went through a construction zone where the speed limit was 50 kph. I slowed at a confusing intersection with flashing lights and felt the hot breath of the behemoth as the air horn blasted. My foot slammed reflexively down on the accelerator and I shot forward.
I was beginning to think there were no highway patrols in New Brunswick when a car passed me at 150 kmp. We were approaching a construction zone, and he found himself suddenly entering a funnel created by the construction barriers. He wove back and forth as he slowed down, but afterwards he crept along for a while. I thought he’s been scared by his near miss ... until I looked across the median and caught sight of the real reason he was driving sanely. A cop was writing a ticket for a motorist. The speeder kept up the slow pace for another three minutes and then sped away. About twenty kilometres later I had to move into the left lane as a traffic cop was ticketing the speed demon. I gloated. It happens so seldom that bad drivers and cops are actually in the same space at the same time.
Last night Kerry and Maurice took me out to Kingsport to wade in the red mud. It was not an entirely pleasurable experience as the red goo oozed up between my toes, but the village is quaint, the temperature was a good ten degrees cooler than it had been in Wolfville, and the ice cream was yummy..
Today we went to a Baha'ai gathering.
Thank goodness I am here!
Thursday, 3 July 2008
I dunno! ... Nothing is working!
I have tried saving it in WP, in Word, in Open Office and as an RTF file ... Maureen's computer does not seem to have a word processor that is fully installed with all buttons working ... and none of my attempts have been successful. It is likely some very simple thing I am overlooking ... but I am blind to what it might be. The laptop is working well ... it is simply the connections between two computers that is failing the communication test.
And of course, no one here is any wiser than I am!
It is no longer first day on the road, of course, but Kenya and I are having a relaxing time ... good food ... a pool ... a fenced yard ... and new routes for walking. I am doing a bit of reading and it is good to reconnect with Maureen and Jeff.