Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There was no AC for AC

I'm sure there must have been exceptions, but I can't recall any. You see, in my mind there has always been a heat wave around this time of year. As our temperatures hover around 31°C/90°F, I'm feeling like a chicken on a rotisserie and remembering all of those early back-to-school days when I was teaching. The heat wave seemed to happen every single darn year, just when one wants to be as fresh as a daisy to make good initial impressions on those darlings who sat before me eager to soak up my pearls of wisdom. Instead, they had to make do with beholding my sweaty armpits.

The luck of the draw always had me in a hot classroom with poor ventilation and oodles of heat retention. I had four main rooms that were mine over the course of thirty years, and they were all hot ones. Parts of my schools were even reconstructed from time to time, which meant that AC was added — but not for this AC. Nope: I was never fortunate enough to occupy one of those AC'ed rooms — even long after I had paid my dues and had earned it.

Never ever would it occur to me to complain to you dear folk. I'm just reminiscing.

That's all.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Into the Mists of Oblivion?

I confess; I am a hummer. I hum to myself all of the time, and I much of the time I'm not even aware. Although I am not humming right now while my mind is occupied with a task, I am prone to hum much of my life away. I hum when I walk, when I cook, when I shop: in otherwords a lot. I often don't know what I am doing until I catch myself at it, and I am frequently peeved to realize that I've been humming without realizing it.

The other day at the cottage, we were playing toss and balance the stick, and my nephew asked me if it helped for me to hum while trying to catch and balance. I wasn't aware that I was doing it at and can't fathom why I would be if I were in my right mind. I confess that this tendency worries me to some degree as I understand that humming is a characteristic of some Alzheimer sufferers.

Usually, there's an earworm connected to this strange behaviour of mine. Thank goodness my earworms rotate frequently. Some earworms I recognize: others not so much. Lately I've been humming a song that I've been wondering if I have made up. Apparently it is the Highland (or Skye) Boat Song (see below) because when I heard it the other day, I went "Aha! That's it!" But the only place that I can think that I might have possibly heard it is on a CD that I purchased sometime back and have hardly ever played and even then only in the background some time ago. So why it stuck with me, I know not. Of course, I know that I've heard it somewhere else as well in my life, but the point is that it's not exactly in my repertoire, so I can't fathom why it's been stuck in my head.

I worry myself sometime, but if I'm slipping into the oblivious mists, I guess I'll go on my way singing happily in my tiny little head.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Of Campfires and Sparklers

I can't build a campfire to save my life, but other members of the family have the knack. And so, we had campfires at the cottage: campfires with hot dogs, marshmallows, and ... er ... refreshments. One night I took my camera down and tried to shoot in the natural light — or natural darkness rather. With no artificial light and only the glow of the fire, I didn't have too much success. However, I did manage to salvage these two pictures of Nikki Dee with sparklers. She loved sitting around the fire with the old folk and singing songs. She would lead us in Twinkle Twinkle and even carry on with her spontaneous songs of whatever came into her wonderful little head.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I wonder where the wonder went?

We're home after a very busy and unrelaxing time at the cottage. Very shortly after we arrived home yesterday, I glanced out the door and beheld ...

... a fantastic rainbow. I could see the whole arch (or almost). It took me awhile to spot the higher and less bright double rainbow (sorry for the poor shot). Having only seen such a sight once in my entire life, ten years ago on our trip out west, I was enthralled.

I drove to the grocery store and was delighted that the rainbows remained. However, I was surprised and even disappointed that so many people were taking it so casually as I strolled through the parking lot hardly able to divert my eyes from this gift in the heavens.

I can't help but wonder where the sense of wonder went?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hello and Goodbye

I think I have more or less covered our Down East trip just in time for our next vacation. The A Team is flying in from Vancouver today, and we'll head off to the cottage tomorrow. There is almost no internet or at least v.e.r.y.s.l.o.w internet there, so I'll be withdrawing for a week or so.

I have been posting a lot of our trip photos to Flickr lately. Initially, I was just going to post my best shots, but then I changed my mind and opted for a more comprehensive posting. I'm going to insert them as a slideshow below. This is a plain flipping-of-the-pictures show with no clever zooming or music.

I have 67 pics in here, more or less in sequential order, and I think I will eventually add a few more. Truthfully, I don't expect anybody but me and Cuppa to watch it. Some blogs we simply post for ourselves, generally reminders that we can re-visit from time to time. If you do decide to have a look, please consider viewing the large format presentation as opposed to the insert below. In either case, you can hurry the show along a little bit by continuing to press play or next.

Have a good week. Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Loyalist, Traitor or What?

Sharing the continent with the American goliath means that we receive much information from their perspective. I mean to say that when you have 300 million rich and powerful neighbours, you tend to take note, and one thing that I've noted is that Benedict Arnold was a traitor. Equating treachery with Benny Boy is as common up here as it is down there.

So, when I came to a chainsaw carving (background story a few posts down — this post would have been sequential if ... well ... it's a long story) of Mr Arnold in Saint John, I was somewhat taken aback by the title in the accompanying description: "Rebel and Loyalist." How's that? Shouldn't it read "Patriot Turned Traitor?" Well, it should if you are American but apparently not if you are British, or even Canadian I guess. From the British standpoint, he was a rebel who returned to the faith, so to speak.

According to the signage (and this information is all on the picture of the plaque below if you don't believe me and wish to embiggen in order to read the original), Benedict Arnold had won some major victories for the US army but married a British Loyalist when he was recuperating from battle wounds. Apparently, she influenced Arnold to engage in a wee bit o' espionage, which, as you might imagine, kind of led to him falling out of favour with the Yankee Doodle Dandies. Subsequently, I imagine he piqued their ire even more by leading British troops to victory against his former allies in several battles. Be that as it may, when the Brits lost the war he headed swiftly and forthwith to the safe shores of England.

The connection to our holidays is that from England the Loyal or Traitorous or both Mr Arnold ended up living in Saint John for six years beginning in 1783. He opened a store and traded with the West Indies and became a prominent if distrusted and envied citizen. Why he might be distrusted, I can't begin to think. He returned to England after his warehouse burned down.

So there's an interesting new point of view for me and some facts which I was entirely unaware of ... if you'll excuse the terminal preposition, which I am completely in favour ... of.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Blame Game

Minny is to blame; don't you see? Because she had gorgeous hydrangeas in every corner of her beautiful Yarmouth garden. ↓↓

Cuppa really really really liked them, so they stayed in my mind. So, Cuppa's to blame.

So, when I passed some nice looking inexpensive specimens at W*M, I brought one home ↓↓ ... after paying for it ... naturally. I guess, therefore, that W*M is to blame.

The best planting spot that we could come up with was already occupied by a hosta, so I guess the former owner could be blamed for me having to move it. And for me having to enlarge the tiny garden by moving rocks which he or she put there so the hydrangea would fit. Said former owner could further be blamed for planting the tree that put down a big root right where I wanted to put the hydrangea. S/he had planted to destined-to-be-huge maples in a tiny backyard = more blame.

I know the root doesn't look like much ↑↑, but when one has to hack with a small hatchet with arthritic hands and dirt falling back into the hole ... well who's to blame for that? I could blame my hands on my mother, but she could blame them on her father, and I suppose that blame game could go a long way back. Perhaps, I should just blame Adam, the operative syllable being dam in this case.

And who is to blame for the fact that I couldn't sleep past 4:30 AM and didn't feel like gardening at all but knew it had to be done. Do I blame myself, my disinterested doctor, or the universe? Let's just blame the universe, shall we?

Meanwhile ... where do I go to lay blame about the maple tree that won't quit? ↓↓ We had it cut down almost two years ago, and it insists on sending up new branches. Sigh, come autumn, I'll cut the branches one more time once the leaves fall.

And I'd like heap some blame on the silly daylilies in passing. I took out all eight plants earlier this year because I don't like the generic orange daylilies. Now, there are more than a dozen sprouting up. Go figure. Anybody want some stupid orange daylilies? They'll grow. Promise. But don't blame me if they don't.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reprising Nikki Dee

There are, no doubt, a few quiet adherents to this blog who might like to see a few pics of the kids as a change of pace. I can't oblige totally because I have been deliberately leaving my camera at home when I go over. I have been doing this because there have been so many vacation pieces to wade through that I don't want to add to the stack too much. However, I did bring Nikki Dee over to our place for a short while and snapped a few. We had been shopping, and I needed to put some items in the fridge before heading back to her place. As it turned out, she was quite chuffed to be here for awhile, and that afforded me a photo op.

Sitting in the chair where we read and reading one of our books

She seems quite engrossed

Fooled you. I'm closing the book ...

And moving on the more mischief, Buppa.

Yet Another Yarmouthian Experience

What do you suppose this guy was doing with that little boat and net out near Cape Forchu?

As this blurry picture shows or attempts to show, he was gathering seaweed.

It was explained to me that there is a chemical that can be extracted from this seaweed. I can't remember what it is or what it's used for, but I think it's interesting how folk will find a way to eke a living out of meagre resources.

Note: the Firefox spellchecker, which does not support non-American English as far as I know, causes me to question myself sometimes. Yes dictionary, spelling meagre with and re and not an er ending is perfectly acceptable. Sheesh!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Explorer, the Saint and the Falls

Today, I am going back to the early days of our hols, back to Saint John, NB, because I want to play teacher. Saint John is an example of history and geography coming together. I have mentioned the Reversing Falls previously, and I'll get back to them later in this blog, but let's talk about the title.

On our second visit to the Falls, we noticed a park of statues on a nearby hilltop. So we sauntered up and found a ring of chainsaw carvings representing historical figures relevant to Saint John. This photo shows a bit of the ring to give you the idea.

And so, we come to the explorer extraordinaire, Samuel de Champlain.

On his second voyage (I think) across the sea in 1604, he sailed to into the Bay of Fundy and into what is now called Saint John. It was June 24, which happened to be Saint's Day for John the Baptist: hence, the name. His journal records his description of the point of the next two photos of the Reversing Falls: "After rounding a point it narrows again and forms a waterfall between two lofty cliffs where the water runs with such great swiftness that if a piece of wood be thrown in, it sinks and is never seen again."

That's the connection between the explorer, the saint, and the falls, but here's what I can show you and try to describe.

Frankly, it's nothing much to look at: a deep gorge with water at the bottom, but how the water works is interesting. The above photo was actually our second trip of the day, about six hours after the first, at low tide. The water is flowing as water normally does: downstream and out to the sea. I've labelled the photo, but you might have to embiggen by clicking on it it to see it properly. I've also labelled a rock as a reference point.

Below: it is high tide, six hours earlier. The rock is almost covered, and water is actually flowing upstream, counter to the normal way of things.

This where Sammy and his crew stopped their exploration and turned around on the saint's day, and why the city is now called Saint John. Just so you know, it is not Saint John's, and you're also expected to write out Saint and not abbreviate it if I understand the protocol correctly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Carleton Martello Tower

I keep saying, "I'm done," but then I find that there's more: something like John Donne, I guess (if that doesn't register, just move on — it's not important).

On the morning that we were to catch the ferry from Saint John to Digby, we had a bit of time to spare, and since the Carleton Martello Tower was pretty well on the way, we stopped to take a few piccies. We didn't have enough time to pay and go inside, but it was a nice day and a pretty good photo op.

Carleton Martello Tower

Carleton Martello Tower

Here is some information from the website.

Carleton Martello Tower dates from the War of 1812 and played a pivotal role in conflicts up until the Second World War. The site features a restored powder magazine, a restored barracks room, and exhibits in the tower and in the Visitor Centre.

Carleton Martello Tower is just one of over 200 defence towers that the British built worldwide. Between 1810 and 1847, eleven Martello towers were constructed in British North America. In an age of smoothbore artillery, these towers were seen as an effective and affordable way to protect coastal areas from enemy attack.

But what makes a tower a Martello tower? Martello towers, whether in Canada, England, or Mauritius, all had certain features in common. For instance, these structures were circular in shape with a flat roof on which artillery could be mounted. The towers were accessible through a doorway in the second storey, or barrack floor. The ground floor had storage space and a gunpowder magazine. The key feature was a round, brick pillar that supported both the roof and the arched brick ceiling which, along with the thick walls, was designed to absorb artillery fire. Based on these elements, it is easy to see why Martello towers gained a reputation for strength.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Anecdote

I have to admit it. I love my own sense of humour. I suppose that's true of everybody up to a point. I mean it stands to reason that what we think is funny we think is funny. Yesterday, I gave myself a good chuckle as a result of a line that I came up with out of the surprising blue.

Previously, I have describe Zach's propensity to appear behind me when I least expect it. Actually, I am growing to expect his appearances more often, be they behind, sideways or any other way, but he still surprises me by times. To wit: I was helping sister wash her hands in the handwashingroom, when he suddenly manifested himself, right by my elbow, quite eager to wash his hands too. In a certain amount of exasperation I opined (I want to say ejaculated, but we can't use that word in any other way but one anymore): "Zachary, you're like the Holy Ghost. You're everywhere."

I know it doesn't sound like a rib-splitter when I describe it like that, but it did have the quality of surprise and was a bit of a tension breaker in what had become a vexing morning. Cuppa also caught the humour and joined me in my giggles — which I appreciated very much because I often giggle alone while folk look on his befuddled amusement , lifting their knowing eyebrows and endeavouring to nod surreptitiously but sagely to one another.

Upon reflection, other analogies would also fit. A stealth aircraft that evades radar detection comes to mind. Or what about a Klingon Bird of Prey that can suddenly decloak and blast you a good one.

Getting back to the religious motif, however, I am reminded of the Lord's words: "Lo, I am with you always." For Zach, it's more like: "Beware, for LOW I am with you always."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not Quite Done

I was about to post that this is indeed the final trip post, but since I just put another in the queue, I have had to come back and change the title and this intro. I know I promised that the last one was the last one, but having come this far, I figure I might as well get myself home ... or at least on the journey.

From Yarmouth we had driven to Lunenburg and then onto Halifax on the same day. The plan was to stay in Halifax for two nights: see the sights on day one and start home on day two. Before, I awoke on day one, however, I had the epiphany that it wouldn't take too very long too see the harbour or at least get a taste of it, and that I wasn't really up to a full day of traipsing and sightseeing. So, we could be on the road by early afternoon and actually get home on Saturday rather than Sunday. It seemed too appealing, so we cancelled our room, headed to the pier, and then began our homeward journey by about 1 PM.

It was difficult to leave this friendly dolphin behind. I'm sure it was a she who found me most attractive, even though that might sound fishy to you.

As we walked the pier, we saw Timothy Too the Tugboat pass by. We had purchased a TTT book for the kids back in Yarmouth, and I had no idea that it was a real tugboat.

There was a TTT store where we could even purchase a ride. There were many boat rides available and many hopeful implorers imploring us to ride their craft, but we shunned them all.

I did appreciate seeing this real container ship go by, however.

Just before leaving, I and my hips and my upset tummy sat and had a think of the 1500km/950mi trip that lay before us in the next two days. I forced a smile but wondered how I was going to make it.

Earlier we had wandered into this little mall off the pier. This is where I and my travelling quarters purchased that pricey new mug that I showed you a week or so ago.

Cuppa had a chat with our former Prime Minister whom everybody had thought to be deceased, but in point of fact he is as alive as Elvis.

She also was able to make a little purchase that day. Such things make her happy ... and that makes me happy.

Soon enough, we were on the road, that day to Grand Falls where we stayed at a highly overpriced hotel which I refuse to show you ...

... and from there, all of the way home on the next day. With many hip-friendly stops.

It was a long way to go for a week. The time spent in Yarmouth was great; a few more days there and a few less everywhere else would probably have been ideal. But one can only impose oneself on gracious hosts for so long, so I guess it all worked out well. Besides, one can only guess and expect how a trip might unfold and what might wish to see and do. We made our plans as best we could and had an experience and have a memory ... or twenty.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

St John's Anglican Church

Through much of the Maritimes, you see pristine, little, white, Protestant churches. When you get to Catholic communities, cathedral-like structures become the norm. In Lunenburg, we saw a mixture of the two traditions: a white Protestant church built on a semi grand scale. The doors were open, and Cuppa is at the entrance in this picture.

Using a high ISO and a slow shutter speed, I was able to take these pictures inside. The remarkable thing was that ten years ago, this church was pretty badly gutted by fire. The restoration has been pretty remarkable. I can hardly fathom that sufficient funds could be raised in these modern times.

Th th th that's all folks. I could post a few pics of the Halifax Harbour and our trip home, but enough is enough.

Monday, August 09, 2010


I had seen some neat pictures of neat buildings in Lunenburg, and I said to myself, "Neat! I want to go there." So we stopped on the way from Yarmouth to Halifax. It's true, there were lots of neat buildings, but it was just a disappointing tourist trap sort of place for me. There were lots of over-priced shops and over-priced restaurants and lots of people and cars, so that it was hard to get any neat pictures. But such as I have I leave with you.

It is a pretty town built on a steeply slanting shore which makes strolling around quite an exercise in ... er ... exercise, but a quaint, little out of the way fishing village it ain't. While Lunenburg might be the prettiest tourist town that I'll ever see, I was happy to move on after a disappointing little walkabout. Perhaps I'd have felt differently if I hadn't dropped in at the height of tourist season when everybody and her dog (literally) were also dropping in. Can't stand dem gawking tourists. Of course, my impressions were also doubtless affected by the reality that I and my stomach were not in the pink of condition by the time we made this stop.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I interrupt the trip posting, which shall soon continue ad nauseum, to rant-eth ... just a tad.

Not being the brightest lightbulb on the ceiling, there are some things that I simply don't get.

Six or seven years ago, my provincial health card completely fell apart. It was the cumulative effects of my ponderous posterior sitting on my wallet for several decades.

So, I got myself a new one: new colours, photo id. Spiffy.

It seemed like no sooner did I get it, than I reached a magical birthday and had to renew it. New picture, proof of citizenship, residence — the whole bit. When we moved, didn't I have to do it all over again. And now that five years hath yeah verily elapsed, I've had to go through the whole procedure yet again.

I really don't mind in a way because health care costs money, tons of money, and there have been scams. So, it's good to know that Big Brobro is keeping track.

Or is he?

Cuppa, who has a photo-less, old card never has to update her card. Never ever. Well, except to notify of a change of address when we moved.

Her card is the best part of forty years old, I guess, and she never has to prove anything to anybody. She and her card just keep on rolling merrily along the health care highway, apparently unseen to bureaucratic eyeballs.

Meanwhile, AC must do the updating dance every five years — or sooner — even though it has his photo right on the card and his sweet countenance doesn't change much from one half decade to the next: new photo, proof of citizenship, proof that he lives where he lives, the whole flippin bit.

Such bureaucracy doth causeth AC to shaketh his head—Eth.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Signs from Yarmouth

The first sign is priceless in its inuendo, the second a reminder of times past, and the third is funny. Even the Antiquarian Saint Paul the Yarmouthian thinks so.

And that's it for Yarmouth, I believe. I may or may not post a few other pics of our trip before I give it up. We shall see what we shall see.

Friday, August 06, 2010


These two ladies have been good friends for a long time but haven't seen each other for five years. How great to see Cuppa and Minny together again, enjoying each other so much.