Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Lots of woolly caterpillars around now, these are a couple of the common ones. I'd like to get photos of the different kinds out there but so far haven't managed it. Never seem to have my camera with me at the right time...

This fellow was moving along at a fair clip, he was hard to capture in a photo. I took several pictures before I managed to get all of him in the picture, most of my photos are of his tail end as he zipped out of range...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Panhala poem

Can You Imagine?

For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer's night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now - whenever
we're not looking. Surely you can't imagine
they don't dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade - surely you can't imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can't imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

~ Mary Oliver, in Long Life ~

Lately Mary Oliver is one of my favourite poets. The photo is from last October, on the trail behind my son Sam's cabin, near D'arcy, B.C.

I subscribe to, I get a poem every morning in email, and this is today's poem. Thanks Joe!

Web archive of Panhala postings:

To subscribe to Panhala, send a blank email to Panhala-subscribe@yahoogroups. com

Monday, September 28, 2009

Deep deep roots

(Sultans of String)

Got home last night from the weekend Deep Roots Music Festival in Wolfville, riding a high that will probably ebb tonight. The house was colder inside than outside, and even in the morning it still was, with heavy condensation on the outside of all the windows. To make up for all that sitting around listening to music this weekend I chopped firewood, hauled water and bailed the well, twice (it's dirty. and stinky. it needed it. no I don't drink from this well, just use it for washing up).

It's such a great festival, I love it. My second time at Deep Roots. Got to connect with old friends and listen to a lotta lotta lotta music, do a little dancing (late night dance party), do a little singing (early morning harmony workshop), and spend a lotta money. Highlights? Let me see... For sure Steve Poltz singing his kids' song The Sewing Machine Man. And I saw him perform that one twice, a real treat! Then all the banjo: traditional frailing by Old Man Leudecke and some interesting African by Jayme Stone accompanying Mansa Sissoko on his kora. Mansa dancing!

The Sultans of String performing their song Luna, in honour of the killer whale of that name, and Pinball Wizard from the rock opera Tommy. Coco Love Alcorn doing almost anything---I didn't think I'd like her, not my type, but she was fabulous---Ari Hest doing Cohen's Halleluja better'n the man himself or even KD Lang. Shivers up the spine time. Rose Cousins telling us in the Saturday morning harmony workshop that she grumbled all the way from Halifax to Wolfville about the godawful time for a singing workshop after the night before, but twenty minutes into the workshop throwing her hands in the air and calling out, I am healed Lord I am healed! Annabelle Chvostek singing I Left My Brains By the Side of the Road (I don't need them anymore, time to let them go). The line, Don't let them take/the joy that you make/on your own, in Old Man Leudecke's song I Quit My Job.

(Coco Love Alcorn, Annabelle Chvostek, Ian Sherwood)

And so much more.

I ate out way too much, mostly hamburgers and fish 'n' chips, and stood in line at the loo (what else does a woman do?) over and over. Well that was because I caught Ruth's little cold virus and was treating it with my Vitamin C and Water Cure, with the unfortunate side effect of standing in line at the loo every hour or so. But you meet so many interesting ladies that way! And I did beat that little virus into the ground. Yay Water Cure.

I took a miss on the Late Night Blues Party, because I was wasted tired and it was way too loud. Don't know why rocking out has to mean busting eardrums, some musicians manage the trick without the damage. I did go to the Late Night World Music Party, but had to leave halfway through for the same reason. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. But I would have liked to have seen the blues bands, Garrett Mason, Caleb Miles and Monkey Junk there. I did see them the next afternoon, but had to resort to earplugs. Which is too bad. Garrett Mason is the son of Dutchy, but he has his own style and doesn't look like his Dad at all. Tall and skinny. AJ Croce, son of Jim also was there and also wasn't like his Dad at all. Very amazing keyboard player. And all the girls, young and old, swooned over Ari Hest. Coco Love got to do it on stage. She was so cool!

(Garrett Mason, Monkey Junk, Harry Manx)

Looked around the audience and there were all ages, rocking in their seats, from 8 year olds to 80 year olds. That's the great thing about this festival, all kinds of music and all kinds of people. There was jazz, C&W (I'm not a fan but Ryan Cook was great), folk, world music, blues and classic rock, something for everybody. There were workshops for everyone, from craft stuff and kid music for kids to singing, fiddling & picking, and contra dancing for adults. A big puppet parade down Main Street. And late night jamming at Paddy's Pub. Standing ovations at the drop of a hat, but notably for Lisa Hammett-Vaughan and Francois Cote, for their very hard work making this whole thing happen.

(AJ Croce, Ari Hest, Coco Love Alcorn, Annabelle Chvostek, Ian Sherwood)

I think the musicians had a great time too, they clearly were enjoying themselves, jamming with each other and with all the local musicians. Deep Roots is slowly growing and expanding, so they get to invite musicians from further afield now. Harry Manx from the west coast, several Toronto (Sultans, Stone) and Montreal (Chvostek) musicians, and also from New York (Hest, Ekke) and California (Poltz, Croce). And Africa (Sissoko). All the musicians were billeted in Wolfville homes, so they got to meet the locals.

(Ken Shorley, Tony D, Jayme Stone, Mansa Sissoko, Paul Matthew, Nick Fraser, Harry Manx)

I took a lot of photos, but my camera is not great for distant stages in the dark, so the pics are fuzzy. Some musicians I couldn't get decent photos of at all because they were constantly in motion and that just registered as a blur on my camera. Samantha Robichaud danced and fiddled up a storm, so she was one of the blurs. But I noticed that while she could dance and fiddle simultaneously, she couldn't sing and fiddle at the same time. Glad to know she had her limits! And Coco Love wore the most amazing stiletto heels for her sexy Italian racing bicycle song.

(Samantha Robichaud dancing)

I saw a 6-string banjo (Harry Manx), a 6-string violin (Sultans of String), a 6-string bass guitar (bass player for Stone and Sissoko) and a 4-string acoustic guitar (Joel Plaskett). 6 strings are in I guess.

(Steve Poltz, Old Man Leudecke, Rose Cousins, Joel Plaskett)

If you get a chance to see Steve Poltz, do it! Especially Sewing Machine Man! Almost no point buying his CD (sorry Steve), seeing him is half the show, maybe the whole show. Maybe he has DVDs, maybe you could watch him on DVD. Or maybe he's on YouTube, he must be on YouTube! That might work...

PS - Google Poltz sewing machine, you'll find it!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall flowers

This time of year the principal flowers around here are goldenrod and asters...

Friday, September 25, 2009

I nearly missed it

Somehow I lost a day. I went around all day Wednesday thinking it was Thursday. I was getting ready to spend the weekend in town for the Deep Roots Music Fest, which starts on Friday afternoon. Well, actually on Thursday evening but I am not particularly interested in the Thursday evening concert. Anyway, around 5.30pm I was thinking about getting supper and then somehow I remembered that the Pete Seeger movie was scheduled for Wednesday night and I really wanted to see it, and how could I have possibly missed that? I simply did not remember having made the decision to skip it and couldn't imagine that I had forgotten it. Then and only then did it cross my mind that maybe today was Wednesday and I hadn't missed it after all. I had to check a calendar and then the date on my computer!

Well the film started at 7pm and it is a good half hour drive---if not more---into town, and I hadn't had supper yet. So it was a mad scramble to get it together. As well, I had forgotten about the road construction and ended up waiting an extra 15 minutes to get through the construction area, so I arrived at the theatre just as they were shutting the door.

The Acadia Cinema is now called the Al Whittle Theatre, in honour of its former manager. It was bought by the Acadia Cinema Co-op, and now contains the Just Us Cafe at the front and the theatre at the back where the Fundy Film Society shows feature films on Sundays and documentaries on Wednesday, most of them from the Toronto International Film Festival. This Wednesday, in honour of the upcoming Deep Roots Music Fest, the documentary was Pete Seeger: the Power of Song.

The film itself was wonderful, lots of Seeger music, and historical footage. Interviews with him, his sister Peggy and brother Charlie, and also with his son, daughters and grandsons. Photos from the family album and old footage of protests he participated in and musical groups he belonged to. Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and others had stuff to say about him. It was a very interesting history of "the Movement" and that whole time period, from the '30s right through to now.

I learned a few things. One was that Seeger was subpoenaed by the HUAC in the early '50s and he refused to answer their questions about his dealings with the Communist Party (he had been a member). He said he had a right to his opinions and a right to keep his opinions to himself if he so desired. As a result he was blacklisted, and so were the Weavers, the band he played with. He could not work as a musician anywhere. Except, and I think this is really funny, nobody minded him singing to kids. So that's what he did, in the '50s he made the rounds of summer camps and schools and sang to kids. Now what kids would those be? Why they'd be us, the early Baby Boomers, that's who. And those kids grew up and went to college in the '60s, and guess who they invited to come sing to them in college? The Weavers regrouped and became big again, in spite of being blacklisted by all the TV and radio networks.

Then the Smothers Brothers (remember them?) stuck their skinny necks way out and invited him to their TV show, and he came and sang on TV. Only, the network that carried the Smothers Brothers cut one of his songs, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy", a Vietnam protest song. The Smothers Brothers cried Foul! over that and there was another big fuss, and they put the song back in.

Another thing I learned, and this was something Pete described, was about the union movement. HUAC was out to root out any leftism ("Communism") it could find, and the unions were of course rife with it, particularly after the Dirty Thirties. So sometime in the '50s a deal was cut whereby the unions could survive but they had to remove all their left-leaning leaders. And that, according to Pete, was pretty much the end of the unions as a force for reform. The "lefties" were all the big organizers and removing them pretty much de-fanged the union movement. Which is why the unions of today are hardly on the forefront of social change, the way they used to be.

Seeger has lived a very long life, he rode the rails with Arlo's Dad Woody in the '30s, he served in WW II, he participated in union strikes, the Civil Rights Movement, the Peace Movement and the anti-Vietnam war protests, and more recently Iraq war protests and the movement to clean up the Hudson River. He had this grand idea to build a ship to sail up and down the Hudson River and sing to people and get them singing and cleaning up the river, and that's what he did and that's what happened. They cleaned it up. His daughter said that when she was little he promised that one day she would be able to swim in the Hudson, and he kept that promise. To her huge amazement.

The film started with Seeger singing a protest song and getting the audience to sing along with him. At first you hear only his voice. He stares out into the audience and says, "I can't hear you", and gradually as the song goes on you can start to hear the audience singing. At the end you can't hear Seeger at all, the audience is singing so loud. And that is what he does, he gets people to sing. Once he made a sour face and said, Some of you look like this, you've been in Washington (DC) too long! And they laugh and start to sing.

He talked about meeting Martin Luther King and singing We Shall Overcome to him. He said, King talked about how you can't chase out darkness with darkness, you have to do it with light. You can't chase out hate with hate, you have to do it with love. You can murder the hater, but you can't murder hate.

The film ended with a song about bringing the soldiers home. Bring them all home, let them practice on their fancy high tech weapons at home. Once he was invited to visit North Vietnam during the Vietnam war and he went. When he came back he continued to sing war protest songs and talk about what wonderful people the Vietnamese are and how they just want peace. One time a Vietnam vet showed up at a concert with the intention of killing him. Seeger's wife Toshi told Pete, You have to talk to him, so he did. They had a long conversation and in the end the vet cried and said he was glad he hadn't killed him.

The story of Pete Seeger is amazing and inspirational, it really is. He sings occasionally now with one of his grandsons, and the grandson says it doesn't matter that Pete has lost his voice, he gets everyone around him to sing. Just seeing him standing there with his banjo or guitar saying the words gets people going.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blue Jay

Most of the blue jays that come to my feeder are young, hatched this year. There's a couple of older adults too. The young ones can't raise their crests yet, or they can, but only just a little. That's one of the ways I tell the adults from the juveniles: when there's a bunch of young jays at the feeder and an older one joins them, he (or she) arrives with crest fully raised and marches around scaring the bejesus out of the youngsters. These pictures are all of a juvenile, hard to get one of an adult with the crest fully raised. At one point I counted eight jays hanging around at the same time. Hardly any other birds come now, except the juncoes and the occasional chickadee.

It's a tight squeeze on this feeder...

See the tail held under the feeder for balance?

A lot easier to just forage on the ground below...

Doesn't like me pointing my camera at it when it's trying eat...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This post made it past the censor, but only just barely and maybe only temporarily, we'll see...

The other evening I put up a blog posting entitled "Down", left it up overnight and then removed it in the morning. I just wasn't up for hearing responses to that one.

Having an audience is a double-edged sword, on the one hand it is most gratifying to know that someone out there is actually interested in the stuff I write, and on the other it makes me cautious about what I post, "what will people think?" So I self-censor a lot. But now, this self-censorship thing is getting in the way, shutting me up so to speak.

In the comments on my posting "Work" you have admired my energy, or at least remarked on its seeming excess for a woman of 61 years. That may be due to a misleading photograph, you may have assumed that I stacked that entire pile of firewood in a single hour, when in fact that pile represents many hours of work spread over the summer season.

The actual work accomplished for that blog posting was a single hour, comprising eight wheelbarrow loads of firewood, which was approximately 128 pieces of wood.

Give or take ;-)

After that one hour's work was completed, I was utterly wiped out---physically, mentally, emotionally---and that was the intended outcome of the exercise.

The energy for that work I explained in the blog posting "Down" which immediately followed "Lunch" and "Work", and which I subsequently removed but maybe shouldn't have since it might have explained things somewhat.

It's basically a neurological thing I think, a matter of being driven to expend energy RIGHT NOW, and hauling firewood was the most productive thing I could come up with at the moment, given that all of the things that I would like to be putting my energy into seem now to be BLOCKED in a BIG way.

A kind of railing against the Fates.

Those two postings (well three, including the one I recanted) were linked. Seeing and admiring the creative accomplishments of a neighbour, feeling huge frustration at my own "spinning" as Sheila identifies it (as in spinning one's wheels) and having to do something---anything---to silence the chaotic and very accusatory shouting in my head. And then the final posting in which I more or less named what was going on. More or less. Maybe less. Yeah, less.

So when I blog about stupid accomplishments like moving 128 pieces of wood from one pile to another, don't be impressed, it is only sheer frustration in action. Better to move stuff around senselessly than to sit there fuming, but not a lot better.

This is not productive because I am not even going to benefit from having all this firewood piled up in and around the house. And I seriously doubt anyone will, or if they do, they won't be particularly appreciative of the effort involved.

Instead they will wonder critically why the heck I didn't move the whole GD pile from point A to point B. Or put up a curtain. Or...

...never mind, it's quite a long list. The voices are shouting again.

Friday, September 18, 2009


I am descending into depression. I don't know if it is chemical or circumstantial, but it's been coming on for about a week now. I've been trying to resist but at this point I think it's futile, I'm there. You know, that place where you realize that you are an utter failure as a human being. And before you hit the Comment button, there is no point arguing the point or giving me pep talks or whatever, I am at this stage quite impervious to that. I don't want to hear it.

The depression is hovering at that brink between anger and despair, so it gives me a bunch of energy. On the upside I can haul a heck of a lot of firewood with that energy, on the downside it keeps me awake most of the night. I know that a short while ago I actually posted something called "Joy", I see that post and wonder what alter ego came up with that. Good grief.

I have this bizarre sense of humour that I can actually make a joke of this, but I assure you that is not what it feels like. Utter failure as a human being is more like it. Oh and then the inner dialogue accompanying all this. That is not pretty, not pretty at all. Suffice to say, I'm not the only utter failure around and I've got plenty of evidence to prove it. The world is a very evil place right now.


Last week I had two cord of firewood delivered, it is in a big pile at the end of the driveway.

I don't think I will be able to move it all, but I am trying to move as much as I can and stack it by the house.

I load the wood into a wheelbarrow and haul it down the driveway.

When I am walking that driveway it does not seem very long, but pushing a wheelbarrow full of firewood, that driveway is very very long.

At the end I stack the firewood either beside the house or inside the porch.

I only spent an hour doing it but it was a pretty strenuous hour.

Then I covered both woodpiles with tarps because rain is in the weather forecast.

The weather right now is perfect for this kind of work, sunny, breezy, not too cold not too hot.


I had lunch today with a friend in the Harbour. She lives in a beautiful log house that she designed, on the shore of the Bay of Fundy. It is an amazingly beautiful place, I wish I could show you pictures. It feels very spacious and light, there is a wonderful stained glass window from an old church in the living room and windows all along the north side give views of the Bay. On the deck off the kitchen doves, blue jays, woodpeckers and chickadees compete for the bird feeder.

When I asked my friend what she does with her time, she told me that one of the things she does is memorize poems. She said that the processes for seeing and hearing are handled very differently in the brain and these days she was focussing more on hearing than seeing. For example, she listens to audio books rather than reading them.

Anyway, back to the poems. She told me that the first poem she tried to memorize, a Yeats poem that she particularly liked, she was not able, it was just too hard. So she picked another poem and tried to memorize that. It was hard but she eventually succeeded, So then she tried another poem. When she had that one memorized she went back to the Yeats poem and this time she succeeded in memorizing it.

My friend then recited several poems that she had memorized, including the Yeats poem. It was absolutely enthralling to listen to. There is something quite profound about hearing a poem recited rather than read. She recited them in such a way that you could feel the poems, you could feel what the poet must have been trying to convey.

I was completely impressed. Impressed that she could do that, and impressed at how well she did it. She says she is slowly expanding her repertoire, learning more poems. She is looking for poems that appeal to her to memorize.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spar varnish, firewood and curtains

The kayak is in the "shop" (the Garden House) for repairs, I am putting another coat of spar varnish on the hull.

Most people don't put spar varnish on a wooden kayak hull at all, it serves no useful purpose. The point of the spar varnish is to protect the epoxy from UV damage, and a hull rarely sees the sun for UV damage to occur. However, I am used to transporting my kayak on my roof rack upside down, and so the hull does indeed see quite a bit of sun. Hence the spar varnish.

The downside of spar varnish on a wooden kayak hull is that it is easily scratched by hauling the kayak over rocks (or sliding it up onto a truck roof rack), and then it starts to peel and look like a bad sunburn. The epoxy itself is quite resistant to scratching, the spar varnish isn't. Anyway, I am sanding and putting two more coats of spar varnish on to get rid of the bad sunburn. I am using the same spar varnish I used last year, but it formed a thick skin on top that I had to break with a screw driver and a knife. I think there will be some spar varnish left over when I've finished the kayak, so I might just put the remainder on the outhouse seat. There is no point trying to keep it another year.

I also rearranged the contents of the porch to make way for some firewood. It looks very neat and tidy now, but once I get some firewood in there it will be dark and messy again.

I will not be putting up a curtain in the outhouse I decided. Several people have mentioned the lack of privacy which doesn't really bother me, but the loss of even a fraction of the view afforded by the window would.

This outhouse is over a kilometer into the woods from the nearest public road, and sitting on private property. If someone is peeping in the window I am more concerned about what the heck they are doing back in those woods than I am about what they may or may not be able to see.

Jokingly I suggested to one of my neighbours that a shotgun in the outhouse might be a more useful idea than a curtain. She agreed. Not that I am considering it. But I would consider it long before the curtain.

I suspect though that this outhouse will end up with a curtain whether I want it or not, it does sit on someone else's property and they might prefer the curtain over the shotgun, I don't know.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I found it

In a fit of despair I started packing up to leave last night, and I found it.

Should have cheered me up, should have made me feel like the universe was looking out for me after all, but it didn't.

I don't know how I am going to pack everything home, I had the truck full to the brim coming out here in the spring and now I have more stuff to take home. Oh well, starting to pack made me feel like I had accomplished something. Two boxes down, a million to go!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The outhouse

The outhouse is as good as done, for this year. It needs to be painted inside, but I think I will leave that for now, I am just tired of it. Seems like the finish work is interminable, every time I think I am done there is one more thing that needs to be done to be really done, so to speak.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kayaking on Gaspereau Lake

Here are the photos from my Gaspereau kayak trip on Thursday that I promised.

The glassy water and perfect reflections.

Floating between water and sky.

This is the party island.

Our kayaks "parked" on Sophie's island.

The camping structure. I made fun of it in my blog post but it is actually quite a neat idea, big enough to cover the picnic table and a couple of tents. For a family with kids camping in the rain, not a bad idea at all!

The closed gate.

The signs on the closed gate, which we did not see when the gate was open and we went in.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sophie's island

I came home utterly exhausted last night. Still feeling it this morning.

I think life energy is like a rechargeable battery. When it's new (or young), it seems inexhaustible. You wear yourself out, recharge, and then you're ready to go again. As the battery ages, it still seems like it has the same level of energy, but it just doesn't last as long. The time between recharges grows shorter, the time to recharge grows longer. That's how I feel now.

Nancy and I were going to go kayaking on Black River Lake but Nancy has been there before and wanted to kayak somewhere new, so we went to Gaspereau Lake instead. I haven't been on either lake so it was immaterial to me which one we chose.

What makes Gaspereau a nice lake to kayak on is that it is full of barely submerged boulders. This is fine for kayaks and canoes but utterly dangerous for motorboats, so hardly anyone thinks of motorboating there. The boulders are scattered throughout the lake only inches below the surface, and the water is so dark that you can't see them until you are on top of them.

Gaspereau is also full of little islands, some so small they only support a few blades of grass, others large enough to support a small forest.

My map showed a put-in at the south end of the lake at the end of a dirt road, we easily found it and put our kayaks into the lake there. We paddled northward along the shoreline, and pulled in at a small cabin for lunch. In spite of it being a gorgeous day there was hardly anyone on the lake except us and certainly no one at the cabin. It had a small sandy beach for pulling in and a picnic table nearby for eating the lunches we had packed.

After lunch we checked out a couple of islands in the lake. A friend of Nancy's, Sophie, owns a small island in this lake and Nancy thought it would be fun to try to find it. Apparently Sophie and her husband had built a small tent platform on their island but nothing else.

The first island we landed on was obviously being used at as a party site. There was a fire pit surrounded by garbage. Whoever parties there doesn't bother to clean up after themselves.

The next island we stopped at did indeed have some kind of camping structure on it, and a small outhouse. It was quite clean and tidy. We are guessing that this might be Sophie's island. The camping structure is a kind of roof framework that you could drape tarps over to cover a picnic table and maybe a couple of tents on rainy days. It was obviously built by rank amateurs, we had a good chuckle over some of the structural details. Sophie and her partner are not particularly handy, they are naturalists and scientists, but definitely not carpenters, so we thought this might be the kind of thing they might build. Very funky.

We had some tea and cookies there and then went for a swim in the lake. The water was very warm on the surface but cool further down, quite invigorating! And nice to go swimming in a completely empty lake. Empty of other people that is. We saw and heard bald eagles, loons and ravens, and also saw fish jumping out of the water to catch flying insects. When I was in the water a bald eagle circled in the air above me. I imagined he was trying to determine if I was some kind of large edible fish. Apparently he decided No, and flew away.

The lake was glassy smooth, paddling on it was dreamlike. It was hard to see where the water left off and the sky began, the shore and islands appeared to float somewhere in between. Everything was perfectly reflected in smooth water, so islands appeared as symmetric lenses, and boulders in the water or along the shore appeared as arrowheads lying on their sides. You could go into a trance and imagine yourself just floating somewhere in the universe.

Many years ago, when I was a young teenager, I fell out of a tree at our summer cottage. I remember being helped back to the cottage and I must have been put to bed because the next thing I remember is waking up on a couch in the cottage living room trying to remember how I got there. Not just from the tree to the couch, but how I got to be at the cottage in the first place. I was lying there trying to piece back my memories, to reconstruct the summer. I was almost totally successful, but there was one memory that I couldn't quite place. I thought it might be a dream.

In the dream I woke up early in the morning in a tent beside the cottage, and I got up and ran down to the edge of the lake. The water was glassy smooth and there was a heavy mist or fog on the water. My younger brother was in a canoe on the lake, but you couldn't see where the water left off and the mist began, so he appeared to be floating in mid-air in his canoe. I called to him and he paddled into shore and I got into the canoe and paddled out on the lake with him.

I asked my brother about this dream, and he said it was not a dream, it really happened, the morning of the day I fell out of the tree. But to this day I remember it as a dream, not a real event. And today, paddling on Gaspereau Lake, was like that.

When we got back to shore and loaded our kayaks onto the car, we discovered that we couldn't get out the road we had come in on. It turned out it was a gated private road and someone had locked the gate with us on the inside. We had to find that person and get them to unlock the gate for us to leave, that took about an hour to do. Then we drove to Canning to pick up Nancy's daughter who has an after-school job waiting at a local cafe, Nancy's daughter needed more time before she was ready to leave so we had supper there while we waited. It was excellent! A bean burrito with Mexican rice. If you're ever in Canning, try Al's Fireside Cafe. Al also makes sausages and you can eat them there or buy a package to take home. I haven't tried them yet but am told they are really good.

I have some more pictures of kayaking on the lake but it will take too long to upload them all so I will do that another time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My profile

I always have such a hard time with "who am I?" questions! Recently someone asked me what I did---meaning: what was my employment---and I said "nothing at all"---meaning: I don't work, I play. So, I play at living in Toronto, living in Nova Scotia, visiting friends in other parts of this continent, reading, knitting, writing my blog, travelling in my truck, volunteering at the local foodbank, walking, cycling, playing with the grandkids, going to the museum, writing email...
...who has time to work?!?

I admire folks who have a focus and a passion for one thing or another, especially if it's a really fascinating or useful passion. But I can't really say I have a passion for anything, I just fool around...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


This morning Wilfred delivered two cords of firewood to my place. He said he would arrive between 8.30 and 9am, but he was knocking on my door at 8.15am.

I walked with him out to where his truck full of firewood was, I said how lovely the weather was and he said, Yes, September and October are the best months of the year. They make it all worthwhile.

A surprising response but I kind of agree. this time of year makes it all worthwhile. There's a crispness, the air seems clearer and colours so much brighter, it's cold in the morning and cold in the evening and in between it's just right.

The mosquitoes are gone! Over the weekend they all disappeared! I can sit outside and read a book! And I love the nip in the air, it's invigorating and the smell of the woods is sharper. I love setting the fire in the evening and then in the morning waking up in the cold and quickly getting out of bed and downstairs to set a match to the waiting kindling.

I just feel a quiet joy, I haven't felt that in a while. It's wonderful.

The hummingbirds are gone too, alas, I suppose they have all headed south for the winter. But the blue jays are active, I enjoy their flashing blue in my dooryard.

I once went to an exhibit at the ROM of fossil dinosaurs from China, and they had fossils of primitive birds, half way between dinosaurs and modern birds. There was a mock-up of what one of them might have looked like alive, it was a bird with four wings! Both its forelegs and its hindlegs were great feathered wings. The model was shown with blue feathers, it was quite pretty. And these blue jays remind me of that ancient four-winged bird. Seeing them flitting through the yard makes me think of the very first birds.

Wilfred chatted about having delivered firewood here for over twenty years, he rhymed off the names of some of the people who have lived here, most of whom I knew. He asked me what I did, was I a writer? An artist? I said, No, I don't do anything. He said, Oh that's good! Very good! Then he told me about someone he just met who was a pea picker. He makes $20 an hour picking peas. That's impressive. Wilfred then said this same guy makes $100 a day picking blueberries. Highbush blueberries, you don't have to bend down. I said, Good to know, always good to hear about ways to make money, just in case.

The mother squirrel who gnaws on the antlers I am sure is either pregnant or lactating.

We've gotten fairly friendly, she occasionally calls out to me and we "chat". When she's gnawing the antlers I get within a couple of feet of her, but outdoors she prefers I stay about 10 feet away. Two of her youngsters from the previous litter are still around, one of them was throwing pine cones at me this morning. Well, I don't think he was aiming for me, but for some reason he had decided to throw a whole bunch of them down where I happened to be walking.

Yesterday I bought more stuff for the outhouse, some battens and screws. But the screws were the wrong size so I had to go back today to get the proper size. And of course, when I got to the hardware store and picked out the right screws and took them to the cashier, I realized I had forgotten my wallet.

The cashier laughed and said, Know anybody whose account you could charge it to? Well, actually I do, but I didn't think they'd be impressed. But I had an emergency credit card and used that instead.

I have this one credit card I only use when I have no other choice, I keep it separate from my wallet and it has come in handy a few times under exactly these circumstances. I happen to dislike this particular credit card company so I don't like to give them my business, but having this card has proven a godsend enough times that I have been reluctant to get rid of it altogether.

Tomorrow Nancy and I are going paddling on Black River Lake. I was planning to do some repairs on my kayak, but I guess I'll postpone that to another time. This will be a wonderful time to go paddling.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My garden

Yesterday I weeded my garden. I hardly ever attempt to weed it but yesterday I spent quite a long time weeding. Because the mosquitoes are gone! We've had a cool north wind blowing for the past few days and it is marvelous, it has completely eliminated the mosquitoes. On Friday they were swarming around me when I was trying to finish the outhouse roof, on Monday they were gone.

My garden has survived. The broccoli didn't do well, I managed to get one small serving of broccoli from five plants that cost me $2.00. Expensive broccoli! I haven't eaten the peas yet, I won't even get a whole serving of them. They are sparse and tiny. And late! The cilantro didn't do well, I ate it all and it never managed to grow new leaves. There's a bit of spinach but not much. But the lettuce and chard are still going strong, the oregano is flourishing and the parsley is doing pretty well too. The tomato plants are huge but the tomatoes are tiny. The dill flowered but never set seed. The basil is doing OK. The onions and leeks are not doing so well, but are still growing. I might leave some of them over the winter to see if they will grow in the spring. In Toronto they would but I don't know about here.

I am pleasantly surprised that I got any food at all from this garden, considering how little sun it has gotten. At this time of the year the sun barely makes it over the treetops, so the garden gets even less sun now.

While I was house-sitting I got some photos of flowers:

Cosmos and daisies:


Morning glory:

I also got some pictures of Cape Split...

...and the rip tide off Cape Split (the white line in the water to the left of the Cape):

And finally, the first splash of fall colour in a sugar maple:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cold comfort

I am freezing. Or at least it feels like it!

Yesterday was a nice warm day and I closed all the windows in the late afternoon to conserve the heat inside the house, because I knew it would be cold at night. However this house has so many windows and I missed a couple that were just open a crack. As a result the house was pretty cold in the morning, and there was a cold north wind blowing. The weatherman says it will be cool today, with a high of 19C in the Valley which means maybe 17C here.

I am sensitive to cold at the best of times, right now my hands and feet feel numb. Peter told me they had not yet gotten their chimney cleaned so he asked me not to light a fire while I was here, I think I am going to have to go back to my own place to light a fire to warm up.

Yesterday I did a load of laundry and watched a video called Kate and Leopold, a romantic story with Hugh Jackman in the male lead. I've always associated him with X-Men/Wolverine, so it was interesting to see him in a completely different role.

I always find interesting reading here, I am now reading a Carole Shields book of three of her earlier novels. I like her, but three novels in a row by the same author might be a bit much. There are also lots of books here about paddling in the Maritimes, woodworking, and house building (Peter), and nursing, gardening and ceramics (Nancy).

Just before bed I took a quick dip in the hot tub. Because the moon is so bright there are not a lot of stars out. I think I would rather be able to see the Milky Way than the full moon, I suppose because the Milky Way is pretty invisible in the city but you can always see the moon (except when it is not there!).

I did see one rather odd sight: a very bright red light coming in low over the Bay towards me, then sinking down into the Harbour. I have no idea what it was, I couldn't hear anything. At first I thought it might be some weird kind of fireworks, then a spotlight (but why red?), but I just don't know. If it were a plane or helicopter I would have heard it, it was very close. I was not sufficiently curious to walk down to the Harbour to find out at that point in the evening. Maybe I'll find out today on the morning dog walk.

Mike invited me to visit their Lake George place this weekend, presumably with my kayak, and I was thinking of going today, but I still ache a lot from the past week's work and I am cold and I don't expect it is much warmer on the lake than it is here. Well, maybe a bit warmer. We'll see, just at the moment the prospect does not thrill me. I'm wondering which is better, to give sore muscles a break or to push through. I haven't been out paddling in a while.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

And on the fifth day She rested

Totally exhausted today, and taking a break from building.

Yesterday Mike wanted to put a last push on the outhouse because he was going away for the long weekend. He wanted to cut the last pieces of plywood (he's leery of loaning his saw, would rather do the cutting himself) and show me how to do the roofing. He arrived at 10am and we worked until 12.30pm before he felt he'd done enough. Then he went home to pack for his trip.

After Mike left I was so tired I just wanted to sit down and cry. Except I didn't even have the energy to do that. I spent a couple of hours reading and eating a sandwich for lunch. But I figured I needed to work on the roofing so that I would not forget what Mike had showed me.

The roof is 40 sq ft and I have some free roofing shingles of various kinds to cover it. Fortunately the pitch of the roof is low enough that I don't mind standing on it; if it were much steeper I would have serious reservations about working up there. I am in awe of roofers who routinely work on much steeper inclines.

I did a few rows of shingles, then wondered how the last row was supposed to be laid, Mike had been a bit vague about that. Fortunately he had not left yet so I was able to go to his house and ask him that question. With a couple of short breaks for tea and for escaping the masses of mosquitoes that began to show up as the sun lowered in the sky, I managed to complete the job by 6pm.

I had planted some lettuce seeds in a planter box over a month ago, they had sprouted but never really grew well so I wanted to transplant them into the garden. Not really wanting to do any work at that point but being bound to get them into the ground in the evening rather than the morning, I did do it. It only took a few minutes anyway.

So that was it for Friday! The outhouse is functionally ready to go, it just needs a bit of prettying up. A door latch, some stain, some corner boards, and maybe some battens to give it the board and batten look. Wisewebwoman suggested shelves, a good idea and I know just where I'll put them, but maybe a bit later. Not sure whether I'll stain the wood this weekend or not, depends on whether I find something to use as battens. Peter and Nancy are also going away so I will be house-sitting again, I will take a look through Peter's workshop basement (as he suggested) to see what he has by way of batten material.

For supper I scrounged in my cooler for leftovers and heated up some rice and tomato sauce and fried up my last egg and potatoes. Heavy on the starch but food is food is food. Went to bed early, was woken up in the middle of the night by the full moon shining in the window. I went back to sleep and woke up again this morning aching all over.

Mike's not here! Yippee! Won't be working today!