Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Family break-up

I went away for a couple of days and apparently the squirrel family has split up. Mama must have weaned the babies, she doesn't come around to gnaw on the antlers anymore, but the older youngster has moved in with me. On my porch that is. This morning when I went outdoors to pee, he was sitting up in a tree and tried to bonk me with a pinecone! Little brat!

I'd shoo him away but I can't get at him, he's moved in behind the firewood, roll roofing and 2x4s, and he took the nesting material with him. I tried to reach in there with a mop handle, but it didn't faze him, I could hear him skittering around to avoid getting hit but he never came out. I notice he's been chewing the cardboard wrappers on the roofing material. I don't think he'll chew the roofing or 2x4s, but there's a couple of pairs of snowshoes he might get interested in. That would be bad, they're handmade by Mike.

Friday, July 24, 2009

God gave us rain to get things done

Yet another tropical storm moving through here, we had a great downpour on Tuesday but this one is supposed to be even heavier. We can expect to see daylight on Sunday, whoopee.

The squirrel family has vacated the premises, however the mother returns periodically to gnaw on a set of deer antlers hung in the porch. Crazy squirrel. I have left a message with the owners of the house, asking how important those antlers are to them anyway, should I be protecting them with my life or can I let her gnaw away to her heart's content?

[Mike tells me that rodents eat discarded antlers for the calcium; it makes sense that a nursing mother would be gnawing on these antlers, even trying to make her nest nearby! However he says best to discourage her, it can only end badly if I end up having to resort to desperate measures to keep her out of the house]

The blue jay population here has exploded, all of a sudden I have eight at a time arriving at the feeder. They are remarkably civilized though, the finches and juncoes continue to use the feeder unmolested by the jays.

Today I had to take down the hummingbird feeder to replenish the syrup, and I saw one of the hummers investigating the seed feeder while it was down. There was a goldfinch in the seed feeder, the hummer came right up to the goldfinch and hung in the air inches away from it for several seconds, as if speculating on whether it was worth chasing off the goldfinch for the sake of seeds it can't eat. Those little hummers are crazy!

Sheila and I managed to get in a dog walk before the rain got really heavy, it may be a couple of days before we get out again. Sheila says her brother used to say, God gave us rain so we could get things done. Well, with all this rain, She sure must want a lot done!

Anyway. The big news is that I have more or less gotten the go-ahead to start building a tiny house on a flatbed trailer. I have a source for a trailer (kind of) lined up, thanks to Sheila's husband Alden, and a location to build at, thanks to Mike and Fritz. Basically the same place as where I built the kayak last year, the Garden House. So today in the rain I have been doodling plans.

I am thinking about getting a trailer custom made, which Alden tells me will only be a bit more expensive than buying one new. I suppose I could buy a used trailer but I don't really want to mess around hunting down the exact trailer I want. I don't know yet if it is doable or if the cost is really reasonable, but that is the next thing on my list, talk to people who know such things.

I came up with this idea well over a year ago, almost two years ago, and at the time there was a little bit of information on the internet but not a lot. One guy, Jay Shafer, building them on the west coast, and another guy, Kevin Rose, who built one in Vermont. Since then the idea has really taken off and there are all kinds of websites devoted to the idea and implementation. I've mentioned the idea to a lot of people and several have actually known what I was talking about. An idea whose time has come I guess.

There are lots of pros and cons to the idea but it is something I just want to do, something I have wanted to do for awhile. Of course buying a ready-made trailer home would probably be cheaper, but this is not about the money. I just want to do it.

For what it would cost to build this house on a trailer, I could probably build a larger cabin, the fact that it is on a trailer makes it cost more; below a certain size there are no cost savings in going small. But it is portable. But I will need a bigger stronger vehicle than I have to move it. Alden points out that it will not be all that stable on highways, it will be vulnerable to big winds and buffeting by passing semis. But I don't plan to spend a lot of time on highways with it. I like that it is tiny, I've been slowly downsizing for a number of years and this seems like the next logical step. In the past 15 years I've gone from a 3-bedroom rowhouse to a 2-bedroom condo to a 1-bedroom walk-up, why not a trailer next?

This past winter I've been doing some internet research on materials and furnishings for this trailer, and since arriving here I've been browsing around for tiny fridges and freezers and so forth. You can get tiny composting toilets, even tiny hand-run washing machines! Marine stores are good sources for stuff for tiny living spaces.

So God gave us rain to get things done, I am using the rain to doodle my tiny house on a trailer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
For a really comprehensive source on the tiny house "movement", go to the Tiny House Blog.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cohabitation

A few days ago I heard noises apparently coming from a cupboard in my kitchen, and at first I thought it might be a mouse or some other rodent. But it turned out to be a squirrel on the outside of the house. I scared it off and wondered what exactly it was doing, the noise it made sounded like digging or scratching.

Today I surprised her inside my porch and she screeched and carried on for some time about that, then I saw that she had a youngster with her and he was actually between her and me so I guess she was trying to distract me and at the same time instruct him to move to a safer location.

Eventually the two squirrels retreated into a tree and the noise died down.

Then I saw the nest that she had built on top of a cupboard in the porch. Half leaves, half pink insulation, I now know what all that digging and scratching was about. She had found or made a hole into the wall and was helping herself to nesting material.


I thought that I did not want squirrels living in the porch so I started scraping the nest off the cupboard. Turns out the youngster was in the nest and he totally freaked. He tried to hide behind the cupboard. He thought I couldn't see him, but his bum was hanging down below the cupboard, inches from my face.

Then the mother appeared, with a large furry bundle in her mouth and wrapped over her shoulder, a small tail hanging down like a man's tie. She took in the scene, the nest scattered on the floor, the youngster screeching behind the cupboard and me standing there with a file in hand that I had been using to destroy the nest.

She turned and ran with her little bundle. I followed her out and watched her leap into a tree and then from tree to tree until she disappeared into the forest with her little bundle.

At that point I began to rethink the whole thing. Here she is, one youngster trapped in the porch and the other in her mouth; for some reason she has abandoned or had to abandon her old nest for this new one in my porch, but things are not working out too well and now she can't rescue one youngster without abandoning the other.

I thought, is there a good reason why I don't want that nest in my porch?

Well, I don't want her digging holes in the insulation, but obviously that is already a done deal, and I don't want her digging around in my food (and clothing). But I don't think there is anything in the porch that she can damage. If one of them were to try to get into the house proper that would be another thing, but for now, there really is no good reason to keep her out of the porch. And she knows I'm right there and aware of her, not about to move away.

So I rebuilt the nest. Some time later I saw two of them up on the cupboard watching me, then later none. I'm not sure whether she has decided it's too risky or not, but I have seen her return to the nest. I don't know if the youngsters are there, they are staying quietly under cover if they are.


I snapped some pictures of her and the nest, I think the repeated flash has scared or annoyed her away for now. The one youngster seems bold and independent enough to fend for himself, the other I am not sure about, all I saw of him was his bum and tail wrapped around the mother's neck like a lopsided stole.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Paddles and ice cream



On Monday Nancy and I went kayaking on the Minas Basin. We decided we were going to put in at the entrance to Blomidon Provincial Park and then kayak south along the shore to the tiny port of Delhaven. We had a very pleasant trip of several hours, Nancy had thought it would be a one hour trip but it really was a couple of hours, not including a lunch break.


At our put-in at Blomidon there was a steep staircase down the cliff to the beach, with a 90 degree turn part way down. We had to carry both kayaks down that staircase. Some tourists were just coming up the stairs and one man offered to help carry the kayaks down. Nancy said, No thanks, but I swatted at her and said, We'd be delighted.

Later she said she did not want to appear to be a helpless female, I said that at my age I felt I had already proved my point and would happily accept help when offered. Nancy being younger than I is probably a little more capable of carrying kayaks down staircases; I thought we could do it but it would be difficult, it was right on the edge of what I thought I could handle.

While out on the water we were talking about spare paddles. Generally, you want to have a spare with you in case you lose your working paddle. Nancy had learned a trick, basically a dogleash for her paddle so that it wouldn't leave the kayak, thus eliminating the need for a spare. We speculated on what you would do if you lost your paddle and we supposed you'd have to try to paddle with your hands. Then Nancy suggested that maybe ping pong paddles would work. My goodness, they are so much smaller than a spare paddle!

You could add elastic straps so that they just strapped onto your hands, and in a kayak you're close enough to the water that they'd work fine without having to bend over. Maybe extra cold water would be a problem, you might not want to be dipping your hands into really cold water. But it would be fine for just normal cold water. The Minas Basin was cold, colder than I'd like to swim in, but not so cold as to prevent swimming if you really had to, and certainly not too cold for paddling with your hands.

There was clear clear sky over the water but lots of little fluffy clouds over land. I watched as the clouds drifted over the cliffs and how they would start to evaporate as they moved out over the water. You could watch a cloud disappear before your eyes in only a few minutes. I suppose the reflected heat from the water was just too much for those clouds.


Along the way we saw cliff swallows flying around their little swallow village at the top of one of the cliffs, and a nude man sunbathing. Well, I didn't see him, I was too busy taking pictures of the birds, but Nancy did. He had picked a spot that at high tide was isolated from the rest of the beach, presumably so no one would bother him (or vice versa). But he didn't allow for passing kayaks.


We reached Delhaven a little later than planned but no harm done. The tide was receding fairly fast and there was a fishboat moored at the wharf there. A narrow passage of water by the boat allowed us to easily reach the boat ramp, but I think if we had arrived even a quarter of an hour later that passage would have been gone and we would have had to drag our kayaks through the mud and saltgrass to the ramp.

The handles I made from the tubing worked beautifully!

For this trip we had to leave one vehicle at Delhaven and then take the second vehicle (my truck) to Blomidon with the kayaks. Once we completed the trip we drove back to Blomidon to pick up my truck and then home, via the road up Stewart Mountain and then through the Look-Off.


Of course, we had to stop for ice cream cones at the Look-Off, and then admire the view. There is a campground there with a good restaurant and a little mini-putt, it looks like a good place to camp with kids. Unfortunately with all the rain we have been having business has been rather poor and there were only a few RVs in the campground.


It was kind of interesting to be driving behind Nancy's car with both the kayaks on her car roof. I guess that's the first time I've actually seen my kayak travelling on a rooftop. It looked fine!

Turning point

Last evening Fritz came by, probably the first time he's been up here during the summer in a few years. Mostly he comes up in the winter time. He was astounded by how much things have grown up and closed in around the house. We went over to Mike's and had a good conversation about what I am doing here, among other things.

Didn't really resolve the big issues, but we did make a start at it. Essentially I have the go-ahead to start building my little house on a trailer. Where it will finally end up is still a (huge) question, but there is a verbal agreement that it would be OK to park it somewhere in the woods here, with some limitations. A few loose ends that I won't get into now, but it's a good start.

That's a major turning point for me, and as with all major turning points (well, all that I have experience of), it comes with a big feeling of OMG what have I done, do I really want this. Going to take a bit of getting used to.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rambling on in the rain

All that stuff about a typical day? I take it back. That's only typical if IT'S NOT RAINING. And that's not typical.

Bah humbug.

Gotta hand it to those blue jays though, they come regular as clockwork, rain or shine. I'm pretty sure now that they are a parent and two offspring, they are always together and one is always in charge. I never see just one blue jay anymore, or even just two blue jays. Always the three of them together.

Today I'm getting ready for a kayak trip tomorrow. Put the kayak on the truck roof. Remembered that something I've been meaning to do before the next kayak trip is to put handles on the rope loops at the bow and stern, and it just so happens there's some tubing in the shed that will be perfect for that. So I was going to make the handles. Do you think I could find that darn tubing?

When I first saw it, it was hanging on the wall inside the shed with just enough garbage and junk between me and it for me not to be able to reach it. So I spent a whole day clearing out that shed and rearranging stuff in there and getting rid of the garbage, all so I could reach that tubing.

So today, when I finally decide to use it, it's not there. I figure I must have moved it when I cleared out the shed, makes sense that I would move it to the house in preparation for using it, right? But it's not in the house and it's not in the shed. Well, actually it was in the shed but it took three trips back and forth (in the rain...) looking for it before I finally saw it in another location in the shed. For some reason I moved it, but not to any place useful, just another location. Mutter, mutter, grumble. Bah humbug.

I found Malcolm Gladwell's website and I've been reading some of his New Yorker essays. He keeps pounding home the same message:

We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. It's the other way around. Effort can trump ability ... because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of [skill].

~"How David Beats Goliath", May 11 2009

That's what his book Outliers says too, putting in the time and effort is what makes a genius, not innate skill. He even gives it a number: 10,000 hours.

That idea pleases me no end.

Friday, July 17, 2009

How I spend my days in the woods

This is an account of a typical day for me.

Generally I am awake sometime between 6.30 and 7.30 AM. I get up and go downstairs in my PJs, if it is cold enough I light a fire, otherwise I start making toast and coffee for myself. For me, "cold enough" is 16 or below, at 17 I have to debate the issue. Will the house warm up on its own as the day progresses, or will it be cold and clammy all day? Usually, conservation loses and short-term comfort wins that debate.

When my coffee and toast are ready I settle in front of the fire, or what would have been the fire if I had lit it. Somehow settling in front of an empty fireplace is not quite so comforting, even though I am warm enough without it. My laptop is handy, as is the phone cord for hooking it up to the internet. I also have a pile of books on the couch and a nearby table, so I can read books or email and blogs, as the fancy hits, while I am sipping my coffee. I try to be off the internet by 9.30, in case there might be a phone call from Sheila about our morning ritual of walking the dogs.

At 10 AM we meet to walk her dogs almost every morning. I bike out and meet her somewhere along the trail through the woods. We walk and discuss our days, past or future, and whatever else is on our minds at the time. This is such an important part of both our days that we try to plan all other activities around it, but occasionally that is just not possible, hence the possible 9.30 AM phone call.

Our walk usually lasts under an hour, sometimes Nancy and/or Sherry join us, and very occasionally, Riley and Matilda. The dogs too have their rituals, there is a certain muddy ditch near the road and a pond further into the woods that the dogs must wade into. Moose, the chocolate lab, wades into the deep part of the pond and swims a few strokes, but that pond is so small that he really can only turn around in place before he has his feet on the bottom again. Oddly, he does not try to swim in the much larger pond where the frogs are, out by the road. Moose would like to add a visit to my house to the ritual but for various reasons we discourage that. However, every time we get close he heads down that trail hopefully.

After the dog walk my day is my own, I may decide to go into town or accomplish certain projects or chores, or I may simply be engrossed in a book that I want to get back to. Regular chores include hauling drinking water from Mike and Ruth's or washing water from the nearby spring, maybe splitting some firewood, and the usual cleaning and tidying housework.

[Aside: Mike has a glossary of Nova Scotian South Shore terminology, in it there is the phrase "shoveling smoke", which means doing housework. Shoveling smoke, I love it!]

The ongoing projects have been moving firewood and clearing garbage.

Last fall two cords of wood were delivered here and Mike hauled a portion of that firewood into the house in a wagon, the rest was left in a pile near where I park my truck. I stacked all the wood from the wagon by the house and then started bringing the wood in the pile back to the house with a wheelbarrow to add to the stack. I generally do about four barrow loads a day.

The garbage is old roofing materials and the remains of a good sized glass and wood greenhouse that was torn down two years ago. The salvageable glass is stacked under a tarp against a tree, the salvageable wood in another pile, but there is a lot of broken glass and nail-filled wood and old insulation and various other detritus in a big pile in front of the house. The roofing material is in a second pile a bit further from the house. Just over a year ago someone burned the pile of wood and glass and insulation in a bonfire that I think lasted for several days, reducing it to a big pile of ash, charcoal, nails, broken glass and unidentifiable melted stuff. The insulation did not burn or melt. Then I guess they poured sand over it all.

What I wanted to do was to get all the garbage into a single pile that will eventually get hauled away. I thought that the ash and sand would be usable for filling ruts in the trail into the house, so essentially I have spent the past couple of months painstakingly sifting that burn pile into usable and unusable, one shovelful at a time. So in addition to four barrow loads of firewood a day, I also have been doing one barrow load of sifted ash and sand. I know, you think I am out of my mind! But the good news is, all the firewood is stacked and I only have half a barrow load left to do of the burn pile.

All the garbage (well, most of it) is now in a single pile to the right of my line of view out the windows, neatly screened by a wall of four feet high weeds. Over the next little while I will start pulling up and/or knocking down the weeds and levelling out the parts of the trail that I could not fill with the ash and sand with my shovel. My goal there is to be able to drive my truck in closer to the house and turn around there. I could drive it in now but the turn-around is too rough to use so I would have to back out, and the trail is really too twisty to do that easily. I figure that last barrow load of sand and ash plus the trail levelling work will take one or two more days, depending on how hard I go at it.

Knocking down the weeds is just an esthetic thing, I don't really want a lawn but some open space would be nice.

I committed to building an outhouse here, but as you might gather from this account, I am avoiding it. I think I can safely avoid that particular project for the better part of the summer, before things start to become a little urgent. I have no enthusiasm for that task right now, even sifting ash seems to me a better use of my time!

The heavy work I reserve for the mid to late afternoon, don't ask me why, that's just my habit. Then I wash up and start thinking about supper. What shall I make? What am I hungry for? I listen to the news on the radio and then CBC's As It Happens while I am making and eating my supper. After that I may get on the internet again, or play my banjo or knit or visit Mike and Ruth. If I manage to get my supper earlier and the weather is good, then I may go for a bike ride, down to the beach or along the shore road. I love being in the woods and all the sounds and smells of being in the woods, but it is a refreshing change to go down to the beach for the sights and sounds of ocean waves on beach cobbles. The sunsets over the Bay can be quite spectacular as well.

And that is a typical day! Not terribly exciting, but pleasant enough. I actually really enjoy the sifting job and will miss it once it is done. Can't explain exactly, but something about it being a kind of meditative activity, repetitive but focussed. I am conscious of the wind in the trees and the birdsong (and bird arguments!) around me, and the smell of the trees in the sun. Hauling the firewood was nice too, a pleasant walk along a nice trail in the woods with a bit of physical labour at either end. There are certainly worse things in life to do!

But today being a kind of wet cloudy day, I did none of those things. Instead I had tea with Nancy while we consulted tide tables to plan a kayaking trip next week, and then went home to make no-bake chocolate macaroons and pickled beets. I also made a salmon and pesto spread for celery sticks and a big bowl of boiled local new potatoes, slathered in butter, salt and pepper for supper. I love potatoes!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Optional reading

I just read my son's latest blog posting on Black Flies and Bush Planes, it's quite the epic story, I recommend it especially if you're into airplanes and road trips. Thanks Josh, I enjoyed that one a lot!

Also, today I read an Op-Ed from Gordon Stewart in the New York Times, Carter's Speech Therapy, a first hand account of how President Carter's so-called "Malaise Speech" came to be written. Carter delivered this speech on July 15, 1979, thirty years ago today. Over at The Great Change, the speech is reproduced in its entirety, if you are interested.

It's long but some of it is pretty applicable today, too bad it was largely ignored for 30 years.

Very too bad actually.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My new mountain boots

I saw Nancy wearing these very cool-looking shoes which turned out to be cut-down rubber boots. I thought they looked fairly easy to make and I had a pair of rubber boots that I thought would be perfect for this project, because they sure don't work well as regular boots. So I went out and bought myself a new pair of boots that fit better and then came home and cut down my old boots. It only took a few minutes, and voila!


I love them: they are sturdy, comfortable and good-looking. I think they are more comfortable than store-bought duck boots, and they are certainly cheaper.

Someone commented on Nancy and I having the same little shoes, they thought they should be called Mountain Boots. So there you are, my new mountain boots.

Best-laid plans

Since it was so sunny and warm on Saturday, I thought I'd call Carolyn and see if she wanted to go for a bike ride along the Cornwallis River. But she said she was going to the Paul McCartney concert in Halifax.

So then I talked to Nancy to see if she wanted to go biking along the brow of the mountain, but she was going to see Paul McCartney too, and wanted to know if I would babysit her dog overnight.

Went over to Mike and Ruth's and they were just packing up to go to Lake George for a paddle. Invited myself along. Loaded up my kayak on the truck and drove over to Lake George, about an hour's drive because it is on the South Mountain. Ruth and I had a lovely paddle on the lake, we saw a loon family of two parents and two chicks. The loons started calling loudly when they saw us approaching in the kayaks, but were not in a rush to get away so we got a good long look at them.

Later I went for a swim in the lake. It was quite windy so the water was rough but otherwise warm. My first swim of the year. In the evening after supper I drove home to keep Nancy's dog company, she's OK alone during the day but does not like to be alone at night.

I hear it was a great concert and everyone really enjoyed it. I saw McCartney and Wings in Toronto many years ago, it was a great show but I did not feel the need to spend hundreds of dollars to see him in concert this weekend.

It says something about the music scene here that this concert did not sell out. There were still tickets available at the gate when they opened. There is so much else going on in Nova Scotia music-wise, that even though this is the only concert McCartney will do in Canada on this tour, he was definitely not the only game in town. But I hear he delivered a great performance, as per usual.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Theatre off the grid: Rockbound

Theatre Off the Grid is the theatre company Two Planks and a Passion when they perform at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, because they perform outdoors without electric technology. This summer's performance is Rockbound, a musical drama based on the novel of the same name by Frank Parker Day. Rockbound the novel was written in 1928, and is set on a small island, Rockbound (East Ironbound Island), in Duren (Mahone) Bay on the south coast of Nova Scotia.


The stage was built by my neighbour Mike and it is quite impressive. In the story there are scenes set on the island itself (the main stage), a boat at sea (the boat around which the stage was built), and a small island lighthouse (a lantern on a platform on the left of the main stage).


Seating is in bleachers; you are issued a blanket at the Box Office to use as a cushion or a wrap in the cool evening air. Nancy invited me to go with her to a preview of the show (the official opening is on July 12), she said we should try to get seats on the top row of the bleachers because that is the only row with a back rest. Good point!

It was a lovely sunny evening with a breeze to keep the insects away, although sometimes the breeze also made it difficult to hear the actors. And the stage is oriented so that the setting sun was behind us, so the audience did not have to deal with glare, although I imagine it was a bit of a problem for the actors. The whole performance ended just before sunset, so we also got to watch the sunset afterwards. Gaspereau Vineyards served wine before the performance and during the intermission. How civilized!

It was a wonderful performance, the music was just great, the singing dramatic, the story quite intense. It is difficult to single out particular actors or scenes that stood out, they were all so great. Nancy and I got a kick out of the performance of one actor (Kyle Gillis) falling into the sea off the boat, it was slow motion and slightly comic.

The orchestra (Mark Adam, Chris Churchill, Sandy Moore) is in a small pit in the centre of the main stage. They played double bass, accordion, drums and xylophone(?). At one point, during a xylophone solo, a small songbird fluttered around the stage singing in response to the xylophone, only leaving when the xylophone player stopped and one of the actors started his lines in a loud voice. Quite cute!

The actors played several parts and also served as a chorus, sometimes in the orchestra pit, sometimes onstage, and sometimes in the "aisles" between the bleachers. Basically, the story is about a power struggle between Uriah Jung (Frank Moore) who essentially rules the island and his nephew Davy Jung (James Macdonald) who wants to claim what is rightfully his and make a life for himself on the island. Also a love story involving multiple triangles and dramatic confrontations. A lot going on, on that little island! Uriah's sister and Davy's aunt Anapest (Burgundy Code) stood out as a classic east coast matriarch standing up to all the menfolk for her rights and what she thinks is the right thing to do. Artfully played!

Wonderful show, can't recommend it enough, and if you're from away, you get a discount and your name entered into a draw for a prize. I gave my local address so did not qualify for either, but since it was a preview show, did get the preview discount.

Having mentioned a few of the actors' names, I should also say that the musical adaptation and direction was by Allen Cole, the choreography by Alexis Milligan, and the theatrical direction by Ken Schwarz. Other actors include Bridget Bezanson, Marty Burt, Amanda LeBlanc, Cliff Lejeune, Ryan Ragerson, Margot Sampson and Leete Stetson, all delivering wonderful performances and making their characters come alive for us.

Weather note

The past few days we've had sunny warm days and cold nights, even a frost warning in the Valley! Perfect weather here on the Mountain though. The cold nights are killing off the mosquitoes, yay! And the sunny warm days are definitely restorative for persons.

I wanted to photograph the lily blooming in the pond near the road, then saw the large frog and wanted to include him in the photo. Wasn't till later that I noticed all the little tiny frogs!


Even one or two still with tails...

Friday, July 10, 2009

On children and grands

I am re-reading Carolyn Heilbrun's The Last Gift of Time, Life Beyond Sixty.

Here's a quote from her essay "On Mortality":

"This sense of limited time has given me, rather to my surprise, what I have come to understand is an eccentric, delicate distinction between my love for my children and for my grandchildren. Grandchildren have always been praised to me as the ultimate in parenthood, the joy of young children without the responsibility: one hugs them, plays with them, and hands them back. Our children's children say to us: I continue. But I have not found the joy in my grandchildren, great as it is, half so profound as the pleasure I take in my adult children. To perceive the enchantment of small children does not require the eyes of the old. To taste with special relish the conversation of one's grown-up children does, I suspect, demand a special sense of present time, a sense pertinent only to those in their sixties, or so it seems to me. I shall not see my grandchildren grow into adults, and if I were to last that long, I doubt I would retain as fervent an interest in them, their opinions, their experiences, as I now enjoy in colloquy with my own adult children. Perhaps because I am not a natural lover of children, the most potent reward for parenthood I have known has been delight in my fully grown progeny. They are friends with an extra dimension of affection. True, there is an extra dimension of resentment on the children's part, but once offspring are in their thirties, their ability to love their parents, perhaps in contemplation of the deaths to come, expands, and, if one is fortunate, grudges recede."

My goodness, I couldn't put it any better!

I was reading 20th Century Woman's recent posting "Saying Goodbye" in which, among other things, she looks forward to visiting her daughter, and the red wine that they will drink together. That image sticks in my mind and I so wish her well on that trip. During the winter my son and I talked about going for beer together at a local pub and somehow never made it, he lives a very busy life. I am sorry we didn't.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shuffle Vault

Wednesday morning Sheila dragged me out for a walk to Shuffle Vault. I was sure that's what she called it, but I was told later that it is really Sheffield Vault, and that is what it is called on the map.

I like Shuffle Vault better.

We drove to Long Beach in her dogmobile (minus the dogs) and then walked along the beach to the vault. Dawdling and taking pictures of the cliffs. We had timed this walk to be finished before high tide because at high tide the water comes right up to the foot of the cliffs leaving no dry beach to walk back on.



We almost made it, but the last stretch of the beach was already under water by the time we got there. Fortunately the cliff dips down there and we could climb up on top to avoid wet feet.

There's a little beach cabin by the brook in Shuffle Vault. Someone dammed the last little bit of it before it reaches the beach, so there's a little wading pool there. I expect it's some cold though.


If you timed it right, you could walk all the way to Hall's Harbour along this beach. Something apparently Sheila would like to do one day. Not me though, walking on beach cobbles is tediously slow, I just know I'd get caught by the tide.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On being lazy

Usually there is only one blue jay at my birdfeeder. At least I think there is only one, but for all I know it could be many, just one at a time. But today there were definitely three. It was quite interesting to watch them, they had a kind of "pecking order", shown by how far they perched from the feeder.

Now I am wondering if it was a mother and two youngsters, or three siblings, or just three jays. It was fun to watch them though.

I was going to go down to the Valley to buy birdseed today, but I am feeling way too lazy right now. The birds will finish off the seed in the feeder some time in the afternoon, and that will be it for them until I get over my laziness.

This morning Sheila dragged me out for a walk to Sheffield Vault. I attribute my laziness to that walk.

Monday, July 6, 2009

...and over the Harbour

A dragger out on the Bay...

The Harbour...

Mike and Ruth's place...

And my house in the woods...

(you probably can't make it out, but my truck is parked in the upper right corner of this photo)

A local man is working on a project documenting the Fundy tides; he booked a helicopter to take him out to Cape Split to film the Rips at high tide. He asked Alden to mow his field for the copter to land; and in return Alden and Sheila and I got to go for a little ride! Whoo-wee!

The 'copter pilot is a chicken farmer, he has several farms in Nova Scotia and PEI and uses his helicopter to get around. Must be rough. I think he really enjoyed this run though. Especially flying between the Split and the rocks off the tip of the Split, five feet above the water!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One hour and twenty minutes

I have to laugh. I've had dial-up internet access for just under a month now, and I signed up for a plan that gave me 40 hours of dial-up time per month. So being a bit of an online addict, I carefully calculated that I had about one hour and twenty minutes a day before I started running into surcharges. I've been awfully careful. I had no idea how addicted to the internet I was until I started trying to count the minutes.

The last couple of weeks here have been uncommonly wet. The sun peaks through occasionally, but by and large it's been pretty darn wet. The weatherman offers no respite, the daily forecasts are for showers and periods of rain for the foreseeable future. Shades of a West Coast winter!

The worst thing about this weather is what it does to the mosquito population. They are proliferating like crazy! (Not to mention the slugs, who are devouring my tiny little garden.) Trying to take advantage of the time between the showers and periods of rain is impossible, the mosquitoes just descend in horrible clouds within seconds of my appearance outside the house. Plus, they have found every tiny entrance into the house, so I am blessed with their presence indoors as well, albeit in fewer numbers.

As a result of these two things, the rain and the mosquitoes, I am feeling a tad stir-crazy. There are so many things I would rather be doing than staring out the window, there are so many things that I could be doing rather than staring out the window, but nevertheless staring out the window is taking up larger and larger portions of my days.

So lately I have been chafing at the limitations of one hour and twenty minutes a day of internet time. I decided to take the big step of upgrading to unlimited access, a mere $10 a month more (plus sales tax). I called the phone/internet company. They of course were happy to upgrade me.

Then I wondered how much time I had already used and asked how I could find out. It turned out to be rather complicated, involving much time spent on hold, but eventually the nice Customer Service lady told me 14 hours. Fourteen? Yes, over the past 29 days I have used 14 hours (less than thirty minutes a day!). How can that be? I was so sure I was at risk of going into overtime any minute now and she tells me that I am not even close! She asked if I wanted to reconsider signing up for the unlimited plan.

I decided not to reconsider. It is driving me crazy trying to ration my use of the internet, I am clearly not cut out for it. The extra $10 or $11 a month allows me not to think about it. As well, I was initially told that it would take up to two days to put the new plan into effect and the phone company could not tell me how I would now when it had kicked in; however this wonderful lady told me that actually it had already kicked in and I could spend the rest of this rainy mosquito-ey day drowning my frustrations on the internet.

So don't try to phone me, I am on dial-up.