Monday, July 26, 2010

Subdued Sunday

Today, we will board the ferry to take us across the Bay of Fundy to Digby Nova Scotia. We rehearsed the short drive to the dock yesterday, which was rather a good thing because the directions from the Innkeeper didn't work. Not that they were wrong, but the highway access that he directed us to was closed for repairs. This threw both Prudence and Cuppa into a wee bit of a panic, (Prudence being our GPS, Prudence the Pathfinder — perhaps I'll explain sometime), but we eventually prevailed and found our own way.

It was a slow day, which isn't necessarily completely bad, but my quarters did get somewhat antsy as they waited impatiently by the window for the rain to stop. At times they act a lot like mutts in their desire to go out for a ride.

The Reversing Falls are quite close to the Inn (indeed, nothing seems far in this fairly small community), so we got there in time to see high tide pushing the water upstream. The Fundy tides are so high that the water actually flows in reverse up the river at this spot. Of course, come low tide, it flows normally once more. In the photo it is flowing to the left, just behind the pretty lady.

A picture of Cuppa by the entrance, the site being free by the way with not even a parking charge.

From there, we headed to a park by the bay (ie ocean). Yes, it was a dreary day.

I have said that our Inn is not for the infirm when I showed you the circular inner staircase yesterday. The actual entrance is worse as this photo up Cuppa at the entrance taken from ground level reveals. My goodness. It's a good thing we're not any older.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day of Rest

It's Sunday; it's raining; appropriately, at least in a way, it's a day of rest. We are staying at the Homeport Inn in Saint John, New Brunswick, looking out at the rain. At least we are not camping in the rain, which we have done in times past, much to our chagrin.

We were on the road for two days: much on the road on day 1 (Friday) but much less so on day 2 (Saturday = yesterday). We and our hips journeyed for 11 hours on Friday, from Ottawa through Montreal past Quebec City and eventually into New Brunswick. Those 11 hours included many stops, two for picnic lunches where we and our hips decided that we'd dine while standing. However, Cuppa was sitting for this photo where we stopped to have supper in Quebec but near the New Brunswick border whilst overlook hills and a lake.

Yesterday, we drove from Edmundston to Saint John with a few stops such as this one where I contemplated the gorge at Grand Falls. At the moment the Falls weren't too grand as not much water was pouring over at this time of year due to the dam, but we can say we've been there and done that.

The drive was quite scenic in the Canadian section of the Appalachians (photo taken from moving car). Did you know that Canadians usually say Appa-LAY-shuns while in my experience Americans go with Appa-LATCH-ee-uns? I'm not sure what that proves except that I am good at useless trivia.

We stopped for awhile at a town called Woodstock (but not that Woodstock), which is at the confluence of two rivers, one being the Saint John River and the other being a name I can't pronounce and can't remember if I could pronounce it. But for my fine American friends, I am happy to point out that the land on the other side of the river to the left is yours.

So, he we are, in a B&B on this rainy Sunday. Our breakfast companions were a couple of professors from Massachusetts who were on their way to their cottage in Cap Breton. He and I share a common interest in Celtic music. He plays the mandolin in a session (ie jam) in his home town, and I occasionally play the fiddle in my stomping ground. Anyway, it's a fine Inn/B&B; we could be spending a rainy day in a much worse place. The first photo shows the dining room and the second the stairs that we climb to our room. As charming as it is, this place is not for the infirm.

Cuppa and I shared many chuckles in the wee hours this morning when a restless AC awoke the sleeping beauty. Among others, one funny thing are the two chairs in our room (or is that two funny things?). One chair is a king-like throne and the other must be the servant's perch.

After today, the forecast is for clear weather, so we might keep ourselves too busy to post, so until next time ...

Friday, July 23, 2010

By the time I get to Phoenix ...

... you won't be reading this letter ...

... because I'm not heading to Phoenix or Albuquerque or Oklahoma, but I am on my way to Nova Scotia. Right now. As you read this.

In fact at this very moment as you sit in your comfy chairs, we and our aching hips are probably nearing Montreal. From there, the plan is to continue on up the south/east shore of the St Lawrence River into New Brunswick. Just inside the New Brunswick border, we'll stop at Edmundston for the night. May heaven smile kindly on our arthritic hips during this, the longest haul of the trip to Yarmouth. (see Day 1 on the map below and click on the map if you'd prefer a larger view that you can actually see)

As you diligently study the map for the upcoming test, the astute amongst you will observe that we don't have very far to travel on Day 2. That will be a nice break; we can take our time and enjoy what my memory tells me is a nice, fairly scenic drive. Day 3 will be even gentler on us as we are going to hang around the Saint John area before taking the ferry across the Bay of Fundy to Digby on Day 4. That will be on Monday the 26th if you're counting (and even if you're not as it turns out). From Digby, we'll drive down to Yarmouth on the same day, and we'll bunk with friends for three nights.

I'm not sure what little sidetrips we'll make from Yarmouth, but we'll be there until Thursday according to our present but tentative plans. After that we'll have a few days at our disposal before heading back to resume babysitting on August the third.

I don't know whether I will blog: (a) not at all; (b) infrequently; or (c) regularly. Your guess is as good as mine because every holiday/vacation is different, and I have done all of the above. Whatever the eventuality, you will have to make do without my terribly witty and incisive comments on your blogs for awhile. Speaking of travelling, however, I now direct you to the picture below.

That's right: quarters in an old film case. What the heck does that have to do with travelling, AC? Well ... I filled that film case with quarters, ten years ago, for the western trip, which I've mentioned recently, because we were told that we would cost a quarter to shower at campgrounds, and since we didn't want to be caught short when we were desperately in need of ablutions, we took a bunch. Well, our advisors fooled us because we didn't require any coin at all to shower anywhere that we stayed. Just in case, however, we took them Down East with us the following year and out to Manitoba two years after that ... and brought them home after each trip.

Somehow however, half the quarters have since disappeared, which is mystifying because I swear that we brought them all home with us, and I certainly can't remember sneaking any when I desperately needed a smoke. Possibly because I don't smoke. What I do know is that said quarters have been to every Canadian province except Newfoundland and since I get the distinct vibe emanating from ye olde film container that they would really like to revisit New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, I plan to make sure that their wish be granted. Call me silly, call it sentimental, or call it nothing, but that's what I'm going to do — take my quarters on a long drive.

Be good while I'm gone. And that means YOU!

For those who want the rest of the lyrics to Glen Campbell's song that was plagiarized for the title of this post, this is what I found through googling.

By the time I get to Phoenix she'll be rising
She'll find the note I left hanging on her door
She'll laugh when she reads the part that says I'm leaving
Cause I've left that girl so many times before
By the time I make Albuquerque she'll be working
She'll prob'ly stop at lunch and give me a call
But she'll just hear that phone keep on ringing off the wall that's all
By the time I make Oklahoma she'll be sleeping she'll turn softly call my name out low
And she'll cry just to think I'd really leave her
Though time and time I've tried to tell her so she just didn't know I would really go

Oh what the heck, here's a clip.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Girl and a Butterfly

Nikki Dee came for a sleepover, and I thought to take a few snaps while she was playing with the hose as Cuppa was trying to water her flowers. It was then that Cuppa noticed a butterfly on the Echinacea and I switched my attention.

Consider viewing this one large on black.

Another Farewell

I was truly moved and saddened when I read that Barry the Explorer had passed away yesterday. The man touched me and many others through his blog.

Barry was a wonderful writer who had the gift of setting the scene and unfolding the narrative that few in Blogland can match. He was a realist but also an optimist in his writings, never ever allowing himself to wallow in the misery of his condition or whatever fear and trepidation that he might have felt. His skies always seemed sunny and bright, and I can add him to the short list of people whom I hope have taught me how to live and die with grace.

I am thrilled that we rang the bells for Barry when we could and when he could appreciate it; I think he was tickled pink by the worldwide outpouring that occurred in his honour. I am also so glad I took those few moments to code his ancestor's Wedding Waltz into computer music so that he could hear it for the first time. From his almost instantaneous posting, I would say that pleased him too. From this, I guess that in addition to what was can learn from his spirit, there's also a lesson about not hesitating to put yourself out for others. It is indeed blessed to give to someone as appreciative as he.

I am down two blogging friends within the year, but I feel blessed to have been partially included in both Pam's and Barry's worlds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


As most of you know, Cuppa and I do daycare duty for Nikki Dee and Zach. However, on the two days a week that Nikki Dee goes to real daycare, Cuppa goes home to tend to the multitude of chores over there, and I stay with the boy.

That's when weird things occur. At least twice, and I think it's really three times, he has come down sick on a Friday when he has been in my charge. He tends to not sleep as long for some strange reason, and he sometimes picks those days to be extra whiny. Truthfully, we're doing much better lately, but he had a special treat for me on Monday.

I had the monitor on, and when I thought I heard him stir, I began to listen more carefully. All was quiet for the next round or two, but then he began to wail. That's odd behavior because he usually awakes in a quiet and happy mood.

So, when I hurried in, much to my dismay, he was starkers. He had somehow managed to peel off his domed sleepers, and of course the underlying diapers were no problem after that. He has never done this before but was happy to surprise Buppa with his nude bod.

But wait ... there's more ...

You see, there was a poopy in the diaper, or at least it had been in the diaper before he was shed of it. It was a messy poopy. The messiest of messy poopies and smelliest of smelly poopies. And it was all over the place. And I, the hapless Buppa, was all alone with a crying, poopy baby and a total poopy mess in the crib.

It would only happen when I was alone with the boy, not ever when Amma was around. Apparently, he saves the special treats for his Buppa. But he shouldn't bother. Really, I'd be okay without these extra gifts.

Garden Stuff

I went out to do some dead-heading and found bees swarming my Monarda aka Bee Balm. Why bees would be interested in Bee Balm, I have no idea. If you check out the big version of the photos (hint hint), you can see Miss Bee holding onto the petal above its body with one leg. Her missiness is quite sharp and in focus in the large version.

Hanging On

The last plant to bloom in our garden is also the prettiest. This is the After Eight lily (so much like the famous Stargazer that I'm not sure what the difference is) at three different lengths of close-upedness. What beauties!

Finally for today: when I posted the picture of the weed growing out of the tiny hole in the bag of soil last week, I should have posted these two following pics as well. In that post, I think it was Kila who quoted a line from Jurassic Park. "Life finds a way," is how the quote went, I think.

Now look at the daylilies trying to grow in this bed ↓↓. They are of the common orange variety, and, me not much liking them, I dug them out earlier this year. "Not so fast AC: we're coming back." There's got to be the best part of a dozen little daylily plants striving to return to my garden and thwart me.

Then there is the maple tree, that we had cut down two years ago, in the other corner of the backyard, . It also refuses to give it up and keeps sending up branches. We've cut branches two or three times already, but they keep coming back (red leaves behind the geranium).

Indeed: life will find a way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ye Dratted Olde Hipsters

It's been a month since I wrote briefly of the anticipation of our impending trip Down East. Now, with only a few days to go, both Cuppa and I find ourselves a little apprehensive because of old age creeping into our hips. We're not sure how the old hipsters will respond to so much car time. It's about an eighteen hour drive to our main destination, and although we plan on overnight breaks, we're still not sure how far we'll be able to go on any given day. So, how do we make plans on where to stay, and if we don't make plans, will every motel be filled in midsummer, particularly on a weekend? Sigh.

I already take Celebrex, which is very effective for certain aches and pains but doesn't seem to affect whatever is going on in my hip. The doctor has said that Tylenol for Arthritis often works well in conjunction with Celebrex; I haven't tried it yet, but we are now the proud owners of a bottle and live in hope. We don't leave until Friday, so we have a few days to dither and stew.

Meanwhile, above and below are pics of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I'm not sure if we'll get there this time because our main stop is southern Nova Scotia, not northern, so we'll shall see what we shall see. I would like to visit up there again, both for the scenery and the culture — they sure know how to fiddle up there.

I wonder if this will be our last road trip? I hope not because I rather enjoy these trips once we are on our way: the getting ready hardly being a barrel of laughs, however.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Foto Friday

I post a lot of photos, but it's been a long time since I did a proper Foto Friday. Forgive me for a few repeats; just put it down to oldtimers disease.

We babysit the grands over at their house, but Zach has enjoyed a couple of daytime breaks at our place lately. ↓↓

At their place ↓↓

Nikki Dee being friendly at the restaurant ↓↓

From the garden ↓↓

The loveliest flower in my garden ↓↓

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Lens Exposed

About a week ago, I revealed that I had decided to get a new lens for my camera. It's a super zoom from 18 to 270mm, which is quite impressive. It will make the cameras heavier to port about, and that was and is a concern. Eventually, however, one has to make a decision, and in this world, compromise is necessary.

Looking up our street using the widest angle which should be pretty useful for landscapes

At maximum zoom from the same position

The lens also has vibration control, and I think it helps. Both of the following photos were taken at 1/13 second, which normally produces more blur or fuzziness than what I see here.

The portability factor notwithstanding, I think I am and I'll continue to be fairly happy with this addition. Afterall, we still have Cuppa's compact when I really want to travel light.

Before I go, here it is in its two positions.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eight Days to Calgary

Ten years ago this very day, Cuppa and AC set off on a very long drive. We were heading off for a month-long trip from Sarnia to Calgary and beyond. These two fifty-plus bods did a lot of camping in a lot of places and had quite an adventure. I put my journal online back then before blogs existed, or at least several years before I knew they existed. Here are some excerpts from the part of the journal that covered the trip out. Perhaps I will eventually add other excerpts from the rest of the trip.

In July 2000, we packed our little, old Corolla to the hilt and rode it mercilessly on a 30-day drive that took us more than 12 000 kilometres through several major geographic regions of Canada. We journeyed from the flat lands of southwestern Ontario, through the rugged Canadian Shield north of Lake Superior, across the gently rolling Prairie, to the majestic Rocky Mountains.

As the more youthful among you might say, "I totally loved this trip. It was like awesome!" Canada truly is an incredibly diverse and glorious land. I loved every part of the journey, but let me confess that The Rocky Mountains magnetized my spirit like a primal force field. Such was their appeal that I dreamt of them reverentially every single night from my first sighting until a month after we got back home.


Here I sit, bug-swarmed and hot in the forests north of Lake Superior. It is 9:00 p.m., and I am now well-swaddled in clothing in order to minimize skin exposure to the teeming mosquitoes. We tried our best to wash and brush at an outdoor sink earlier, and we learned that we were easy prey for the hungry hordes. My few exposed, fleshly parts have now been liberally applicated with Deep Woods Off. So, maybe I will be able to write a little. There is also a citronella candle/pot burning about one foot from my head.


I am sitting at a picnic table at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, about 30 km past Thunder Bay. It felt like we were still driving west when we passed Thunder Bay, but it’s probably more north of the city. It’s 10:00 p.m., but I still have enough light by which to see the mosquitoes that land on my bare arms. We are almost in the next time zone, so it is really closer to 9:00 or 9:30 sun time, 8 to 8:30 adjusting for daylight savings.


In all we drove about 587 km today and about 1377 km in the past two. It seemed like a long way, but I’m not sure why as the scenery was fantastic for the most part. You would like to take a picture at every bend in the road, but since you’re on the Trans Canada Highway, it is almost impossible to take any at all. Stopping is too problematic.


What a huge province and country! Behold, we have now driven just over 2000 km, and we only arrived in Manitoba, the next province, in the past hour and a half or so. We drove 726 km today and are now in Winnipeg.


I guess you have to drive through Northern Ontario to appreciate the immensity and the isolation. Towns are so small and so far apart that there was a sign telling us that it was only 3 hours to Dryden. When we got there, it was a settlement of less than 8000 people.


We resumed our westward trek, and past Brandon, the Trans Canada dwindled to two-lanes and stayed that way until the outskirts of Regina. The other thing that I should mention is the westward incline. For probably 80 to 90 percent of the time, the road grade inclines noticeably to the west. You notice this most when you look in the rear-view mirror, and you can see that the land slopes down behind you.


The highlight of the day, I think for both of us, was a detour we made into the Qu’Appelle Valley. On a whim I followed a sign that told of a Scenic Qu’Appelle drive after 33 km. So, we took the path less travelled and, eventually, after some panic from Cuppa, who couldn’t find our road on the map, came upon the Qu’Appelle Valley. It was quite a sight to behold. Sometimes, it’s well worth leaving the beaten path.


It is especially rolling, almost rugged, down here in the extreme southwest of Saskatchewan where we are now camping. We are at Cypress Hill Provincial Park, and the local area is, indeed, hilly. It is quite a nice park, with lots of amenities, such as a Subway restaurant where we had a late supper ... From Shaunavon, we followed "The Red Coat Trail" (#13) that the RCMP took westward from Gull Lake . Once again, the country was very rolling, but it was getting more desiccated. The road was a bit rough, and our little Corolla bottomed out a few times.


Life isn’t perfect, and neither is today. I guess that riding the back roads last night was not the best of ideas. Afterward, the car started to become noisy. So, we drove it to Medicine Hat today and took it to Canadian Tire. We need a new front wheel bearing, which has to come from Calgary – tomorrow!!


We were able to pick up the car and leave “The Hat” around 11:00 o’clock this morning, and we were in Calgary by about 3:00 p.m. Praise be! The car is running well, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to fix — just two fingers and one toe.

The land west of The Hat is really dry and quite treeless. It is mostly pasture land except where they irrigate, and they do quite a bit of that. The terrain continued to roll, even more so as we approached Calgary. It also started to green up. It was odd to see 5 small deer grazing by the side of the Trans Canada Highway in an environment devoid of trees. How did they get there and why?

The trip now totals 3597 kilometres, but we are only 2550 klicks from Sarnia if you can fly like a crow. We’ve come a long way in eight days, but they have been thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a marvellous land, this Canada of ours.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Instant Garden

A few fine folk among you have expressed interest in my garden-making technique. I make no claims except to say that has worked for me. I hasten to add that I didn't invent the method, so it, therefore, has some credibility.

I had no interest in gardening until about ten years ago. It's like I woke up one morning, just past the age of fifty, and out of the blue decided that I needed to plant a perennial garden. So ...

... in the typical exuberance of a fresh but naive convert, I went all out to prepare that first flower bed, even to the extent of double-digging. In other words, I dug up the surface soil, put it to one side, and then dug up the subsoil. If memory serves, I discarded the subsoil and replaced it with the former surface soil before adding new topsoil. That was total dedication, which I plan to never repeat, I hasten to add.

Ever since then, I've taken the lazy way. It is so simple that I hardly need to outline the steps, but here goes.

  1. Outline the area that you will make into a flower bed and cut the grass if necessary.

    Outline the flower bed

  2. Wet the newspapers down (see notes 1 and 2, below) and cover the grass to a thickness of about a half dozen sheets, give or take.

    Cover with newspaper

  3. Cover the newspaper with 4 to 6 inches of soil — the thicker the merrier, but when there is much to cover, I'm satisfied with the lesser amount (see note 3, below). If you do not need to raise the bed, such as I must do due to bedrock, I don't see why you couldn't make do with a thinner covering.

    I spread 4 to 6 inches of soil on top of the newspaper

  4. Dig the required number of planting holes. Unless you are planting annuals, you will probably dig deeper than the newspaper, so make sure to remove the sod from those spots. While it might seem counterproductive to dig up the freshly laid paper, remember that you are digging a limited number of holes, which definitely beats having to dig up all of the sod. (see note 4, below)

    I remove sod from the bottom of the planting hole

  5. Lay mulch. Use natural cedar or the like. The dyed mixes like red, which are attractive to begin with, soon start to fade and lose their color, so you may as well begin with the natural look.

Presto! You have a complete garden. While I did the job in bits and pieces over several days, with proper planning you can amaze your neighbours by creating a fine looking garden replete with plants in a matter of hours.

Doing this job later in the season rather than early in spring, I was able to purchase everything on sale — soil, mulch, and plants — and complete this fair-sized flower bed for about a hundred dollars. While that sounds like a lot in a way, consider that I put in 18 bags of soil, 3 bags of mulch, 9 perennials (some a good size), and and 5 annuals. To me that seems to be a fairly reasonable amount for a garden that endure for a long time.

Based on previous results, this method works because that's what I did last year to produce the happy garden that you have seen in various, recent blog photos.

This year's garden from last year's planting using this method

I hesitate to show the finished product because I absolutely detest the mulch. I've never seen the like. Next year, I will cover it with a thin layer of nicer looking stuff — if I can wait that long.

Grrrr! What awful mulch!

  1. You could use landscaping cloth, but I just use newspapers that I already have lying around.
  2. While it's possible to lay dry newspaper, the wet stuff will be more malleable and less prone to being blown about. It's just easier to work with.
  3. In my case I used bags of garden soil. In the past I haven't had much luck getting large quantities of dirt trucked in, for I have found it weedy. Your experience may be different, and if you have a large area to cover it will likely be cheaper and easier to truck it in. Also note that it may not be necessary to apply the best soil over the whole bed — see next note.
  4. Within reason, dig the planting holes deep and wide and backfill with a good grade of soil. As long as the planting holes are well nourished with fertile soil, it may not be necessary to lay the more expensive garden soil over the whole flower bed. I did in this instance, but it's your choice.

An Echinacea for your viewing pleasure: just because I can.