I was tired of going to the mall update

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Since this post  we’ve had a few good days. We visited a Lebanese restaurant, borrowed a baby for the day, looked at lots of photos of her parents’ tiny native village in Lebanon, and, on Friday, we made spinach fatayer.

The crust wasn’t much good (too crunchy, not pillowy), but the filling was good. I also made a couple of feta fatayer which I thought turned out perfectly. A little sumac made all the difference.

Next up: borrowing the baby again and heading up Citadel Hill. If my calculations are correct, four of us can get into the park for $20 during the month of May. Fingers crossed for decent weather.

Year-Round Activities on the Nova Scotia’s South Shore

April 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

While there always plenty of things to do in Summer, a lot of things close down around here during Winter. And that’s fine— believe me, I understand what it’s like to lose money every day of your life. I also understand the need for artistic types to recharge their creative batteries.

So what there aren’t as many restaurants to visit or museums to see? We can all still have a good time.

There are at least a few museum to visit — The Halifax & Southwestern Railway Museum in Lunenburg. Perfect for the Thomas-obsessed and people like me who eagerly await the return of passenger rail service to every community.

Also, the Wile Carding MIll Museum in Bridgewater, just about the most charming thing in that town, aside from Erica Poole herself.

Nobody brings the outdoors in, do they? Stamping across the icy grass towards a park bench with a thermos of hot mulled cider or (possibly alcoholic) cocoa on a weekday afternoon has to be one of the Northeast’s greatest pleasures. Wear a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a tweed cap and pretend you’re at Dartmouth. There are lots of parks and green space in every town lining the Atlantic Coast. In Lunenburg alone we have six in easy walking distance, and there are four more in Mahone Bay.

If you’ve got cross-country skis or snowshoes, you’re set; if just have a pair of warm, waterproof boots, you’re not badly off, either. And in summer, of course, all you need is a pair of comfy shoes. The Rails-to-Trails network spans the entire South Shore region and beyond…

Nova Scotia Trails Federation— South Shore
Shared Use Trails— Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, and Yarmouth Counties
Kejimkujik Trails

And, I repeat, there’s Rails-to-Trails in almost every community

Just bundle up against the wind, and a walk along the beach is a great way to spend an afternoon all year round. Hundreds of miles of nearly-deserted beaches line Nova Scotia’s coast in summertime, and they’re completely deserted in winter… you may as well be alone on the planet. Or, if you’re feeling sociable, get together a group of friends and a pot for mulling wine, build a bonfire and have a convivial evening.

As a bonus, winter brings in a dozen species of rarely-seen oceangoing ducks and other seabirds. Here are my favorites on the South Shore, listed in order of preference; please note Queensland Beach is nowhere to be found. I’m not familiar with beaches farther South, especially around Yarmouth, so if I missed your favorite, let me know in the comments.

Risser’s Beach*
Hirtle’s Beach*
Bayswater Beach
Beach Meadows

Crescent Beach (demoted because people park their cars on the beach)
Cleveland Beach
*denotes boardwalk

Year-Round Concert Series

Lunenburg Sessions doesn’t seem to have a website, I’m sorry to report. Every third Tuesday of the month, they present a $5 concert in the Lunenburg Academy auditorium.

The St. Cecilia Concert Series often makes stops at St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg, though it’s mainly based in Halifax, They’ve announced their season to the end of the year, but there’s more to come in 2008.

Live Entertainment While you Sip
You can’t beat it when a pint is the price of admission. As you might have gathered, The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay features concerts, prose and poetry readings year-round for the prices of a cup of chai. All the food and drinks are terrific (they’re listed in Where to Eat in Canada), and the place doubles (triples?) as a used-book store. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening any time.

The Mug & Anchor in Mahone Bay has live music on the third Thursday of every month from 8:00 till midnight, which attracts everyone who’s anyone in the music biz on the South Shore. There’s also a trivia night on Wednesdays. But seriously, just have the beer.

Boston Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic night Thursdays.

Lane’s Privateer Inn also hosts a variety of shows all winter long. I believe last year there was a ukelele series (!!!).

In Yarmouth at Kelley’s Pub, every Saturday brings the Blues Band & Jam, and I understand there’s also a fellow called Simon Leblanc who performs there with his own one-man band machine.

The Knot Pub in Lunenburg also hosts live music, but they live in the stone age (no website) so I check their posters regularly and put the info in Upcoming Events. I can tell you that during the winter at The Knot, every Thursday Night is Trivial Pursuit Night.

Theatres and Playhouses
Of course, live theatre is alive and well all over Nova Scotia. On the South Shore alone, we have half a dozen options. The Chester Playhouse has a fabulous fall season lined up already— I really hope we can get to the Ron Sexsmith-Jill Barber concert on October 11.

And at The Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg has an upcoming Garnet Rogers show on October 6, and another with Matt Andersen on November 10.

The Unicorn Theatre in St. Margaret’s Bay features children’s theatre (nothing on right now), and Th’YARC always has something in the works.

I assume all the locals know about the Empire Theatre in Bridgewater that usually only carries cheesy Hollywood fare, but there are other— dare I say better— options. The Pearl Theatre runs a movie night twice monthly featuring current films (see Upcoming Events for upcoming shows), and there are plenty of places to rent movies.

Elizabeth’s Books on Montague has an excellent selection of just about everything, from recent comedies to classics to foreign (including impressive Marx Brothers and Japanese films), that you can take home for as long as you like at $3 a pop. There’s also a good selection at Blockbuster in Bridgewater, and some surprising choices to be had at the local SaveEasy. The South Shore Regional Library also has some movies, and the head librarian holds the sensible philosophy that fines are silly.

In Mahone Bay, the South Shore Branch of The Council of Canadians hosts an occasional film series, too.

The local Waldorf School in Blockhouse is an interesting collective. They’ve just instituted a coffeehouse (with baked goods and conversation) every Thursday from 3:00 till 5:00pm, and on every third Thursday of the month there will be a Farmers’ Market at the same time. I hope for fiddlers.

Anne Greer hosts a Anthroposophical Study Group every Thursday night— inquire here. They’re also offering classes in Mandarin this winter.

Last winter they hosted an international food & film series that seemed fascinating, but that we always seemed to miss. Camelia says she’ll probably do one again this year, but they haven’t ironed out the details yet. I hope, I hope, I hope….

Did I miss anything? Email me.

I was tired of going to the mall, so I asked Metafilter.

April 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m looking for a few fun, interesting afternoon activities to do with a 95-year-old relative. She can’t see well, can’t hear well, has some short-term memory problems and is on a budget. But she’s game for anything.

The memory problems are more pronounced in the last few months, but she’s pretty steady on her feet and we do have access to a good wheelchair. She used to like walking through the mall, but seems to have lost interest in that.

We’ve been to all the museums, and plan to re-visit the natural history museum when the exhibit changes. In another month, the Public Gardens will open and she’ll enjoy that. She can’t hear lectures (and doesn’t have the memory for them) and can’t see movies (and again, memory). She’s never been much of a reader, but we are trying a few audiobooks, which might open some new avenues.

She enjoys going for drives, but can’t hear well enough to hold a long conversation without seeing body language/reading lips. We always get a coffee at the end of the afternoon, but I don’t want to spend three hours sitting in a coffee shop.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Here’s what they suggested:

– fancy meal, possibly setting up a yelp account for her to post restaurant reviews

– spa day

– live music (high school band, at the Public Gardens)

– watching children play at the park or at a playground

– recording her family memories

– tour of Citadel Hill

– Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

– Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

– photographing her, all over the city
– Citadel Hill
– on the ferry
– Public Gardens
– on the Commons
– on Market St.
– on Church St.
– on Tower Rd.
– on Ivanhoe St.
– at St. Mary’s Basilica
– at Province House
– at the Hydrostone
– at the Oxford
– Canadian Martyrs
– Sally’s house
– outside her father’s confectionery

– cruise the harbour

– petting zoo at Hatfield Farm

– Google streetview tour of the Beirut neighborhood where her parents grew up

– a few afternoons with Sadie

– look at the fish in various pet stores

– learn to cook a few Lebanese classics

– go to a few wonderful greenhouses
– Oceanview
– Lakeview
– Bloom on Hammonds Plains Rd.

– a day in Wolfville/Annapolis Valley

– visit a farm or dairy

– crash a wedding or a funeral

– read tabloids aloud (in VERY shocked voice)

– wine tasting

– $10 in quarters and an afternoon at the Casino

– fly a kite on Citadel Hill

– take a walk through Point Pleasant, have a delicious picnic

– a playlist of cute kid/animal videos on YouTube

– a few interesting sets on Flickr

– tour of Keith’s brewery

I think I’ll modify a few of them and combine some others. But we’re already making good progress. Last week, we took the ferry across the harbour and today we trekked down to Chester to take a stroll through the tropicals greenhouse, and stopped for coffee along the way.

I think taking portraits at a number of city landmarks will be pretty fun for an afternoon excursion, and taking a photo every Wednesday will be  nice aide mémoire, maybe giving her a few things to talk about on the phone with her daughter. And hey, I like having fun, too.


Other Items of Interest:

Remember when this happened? It was shitty.

My affection for Hugh Grant remains constant.

How to Steal Like an Artist

The Truth About Race, Religion and the Honor Code at BYU

Sudden snowstorms raged on the November day when against token opposition he was elected President…

February 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

“…and scarcely abated thereafter. It could not have been always winter in those years, summer must have come around as duly as ever, yet universally people remembered winters: the longest, coldest, deepest winters ever known; one continuous winter. Every hardship the Tyrant regretfully imposed or his opponents willfully inflicted in their uprisings against him was made worse by winter, by months of frozen mud and sleety rain that continually mired every enterprise. Winter made ghastly and hopeless the movements of trucks, traffic, brown-clad troops; everywhere, deeply marking the memory, were the huddled clots and queues of refugees, rag-bound against the cold; the stalled trains, grounded planes,; the new frontiers at which lines of slush-bound cars tailpipes breathing cold clouds, waited to be examined by muffled guards; shortages of everything, the awful struggle, the difficulties and uncertainties made more awful by the isolating endless cold.”

John Crowley, Little, Big


Writing executive summaries for two newsletters doesn’t leave much room for creativity or joy, and then, of course, we live on the Atlantic coast where sunless days can be measured in weeks. A string of twenty gray days in a row ended Monday; three weeks during which the highlight was receiving a Seedsavers catalog of fantastical varieties of melon and tomato that laugh heartily in the carefully moistened soil; mocking my dream of just. one. Brandywine.

Further to my previous two posts, the body of Karissa Boudreau was found on February 9, as I said, and the police announced the following Thursday that she had been murdered. A twelve-year-old, abandoned in a dirty snowbank beside the river.

In the Bleak Midwinter

February 10, 2008 § 2 Comments

This winter has gotten a little wearing for all the usual dreary, gray reasons. It snows nearly every day— with little total accumulation— and the sky is always heavy, iron gray. I don’t mind the snow, though; every fall still seems miraculous after so many brown winters, it’s just that I never feel I have the excuse to play in it, nor the proper attire. And with every snowfall, the chances of a happy outcome were dampened.

The body of Karissa Boudreau has washed up on the shores of the LaHave River, just downstream from where she disappeared. No official confirmation yet, but the body is described as an adolescent female caucasian, and there’s only one missing. I do hope it’s not someone no one was looking for. The body was buried in snowdrifts, and the RCMP were out all night carefully preserving the snow around the body.

Like everyone else, I’m so sorry for the family; and I’m sorry for the employees at the Irvings and SaveEasys who will have to take down their posters and fliers. I’m sorry for all of us who searched the faces of girls along the side of the road, and watched the waters of the LaHave with dread, and hoped a little less each day.

Two for the Good

January 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

In a classic example of life’s unfairness, author Patry Francis’ well-received first novel Liar’s Diary was published in February 2007, just a few months before she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that has left her too weak to promote its new paperback edition.

But I can help, and you can, too. Buy Liar’s Diary here, and read Francis’ hopeful, thoughtful blog here.


And locally, Sunday night, after a “typical teenage” fight with her mother, Karissa Boudreau, a 12-year-old sixth grader from the Bridgewater, NS area disappeared from a mall parking lot and hasn’t been seen since. At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing a black hoodie and vest, jeans, and pink Crocs. Police don’t suspect an abduction, but they say it’s quite unusual for a runaway this age to be missing for so long. Karissa’s family moved recently and her mother said she has no close friends in the area.

If you’re local, maybe look a little more closely at the girls walking alone beside the road.



November Highlights

November 14, 2007 § Leave a comment

Since I have so far neglected to do a calendar of local activities this month, I thought I’d briefly mention a few highlights in the seoncd half of this month.

Musique Royale
November 17 at 11:00 am at Cecilia’s Retreat (1199 Oakland Rd., Mahone Bay)
November 17 at 7:30 pm at Ifan Williams’ home (135 Indian Point Rd., Glen Haven)
Cellist Michael Jones performs a solo program, including works by JS Bach and a new Canadian work. The morning concert includes a brunch of chicken and rice platter and assorted salads, and the evening performance includes a cheese and cracker platter and sundry appetizers.
tickets $15; email barbara.butler@ns.sympatico.ca

Lunenburg Sessions
November 20 at 7:30; Lunenburg Academy (97 Kaulbach St., Lunenburg)
This month brings Bob Ardern & Kristen Murray, who performed on the Ken Matheson Stage at this year’s Lunenburg Folk Festival.
tickets $5.00

The Pearl Theatre
November 23 at 8:00 pm; The Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg
Craig Cardiff of Wakefield, Quebec is touring for his new album, Goodnight (Go Home). Gordon Lightfoot’s a fan— maybe you should be, too?
tickets $15

Waldorf Christmas Fair
November 24 from 1:00 till 4:00 pm; Waldorf School (64 School Rd., Blockhouse)
Lots of handmade goods for your holiday list: dipped candles, clothing, jewellery, batik, edibles, potables, a silent auction and lots more.

Father Christmas Festival
November 24 — December 2; Mahone Bay
Here’s the official site where you can download your very own calendar of events.

And if you haven’t been yet, Chester now has its own organics store, called, logically enough, Chester Organics. It’s small, but nicely stocked with lots of Anointment soaps and organic goods from near and far. Sue LeBlanc, the charming proprietress, has a tidy section for local produce, and tentative plans to get involved with CSA next season— just think! Local, organic vegetables delivered to your door… wonderful. The store also features a small kitchen, a deli counter, and bulk grains and flours, and plans for a supplement section. She’s taking orders for Christmas turkeys right now, so go in for a chat soon… It’s the same building as Fiasco, across from Julien’s.

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