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.

Parks
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.

Trails
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

Beaches
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
Carter’s
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.

Movies
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.

Waldorf
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

Rabbit, Rabbit

December 1, 2007 § 4 Comments

SNOW. Snow on the first of December— and it’s serious, long-term snow. And it brought its friend the clever North wind that finds all of the gaps between your buttons and your mittens’ stitches.

Perhaps a Real Canadian Winter is in store. Good thing I’ve got my snowshoes.

Buckle My Shoe!

November 2, 2007 § 4 Comments

Found

From Leah Peah’s interview with Maggie Mason (back when she was Margaret Berry, so a while ago):

Q. Why do you blog?

A. I can only think in tiny little spurts. And mostly I think about things I read on Metafilter or what I like to have for lunch, so blogs are a good fit.

(emphasis added)

Published August 11, 2006, Mason’s book: No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog

No_One_Cares.jpg

Hmmmm…

+++

I’ve long considered running a weekly featurette on Bill Spurr’s Bourgois Gourmet column in The Chronicle-Herald. For those who aren’t local (that’s most of you), The Halifax Chronicle-Herald is the most widely-circulated newspaper in Nova Scotia. Since we’re a province of about 900,000 people and roughly 350,000 of those live in a twenty-mile radius around the capital city, Spurr has a surprising influence on the dining scene around here. He frequently judges Nova Scotia culinary competitions, and has been a judge in national competitions— but he knows shit about food.

My complaints about him and his food criticism are many and varied. He relies far too much on his 11-year-old son’s opinion of food. His palate is shockingly limited. He orders beef too often. HIs obsession with hand-cut fries is absurd. He knows nothing about wine, and was a committed Budweiser drinker before developing a taste for Stella Artois, the most flavorless of foreign beer. He reviews places owned by friends and after he’s been made. He called Trinity the Best Restaurant in Halifax in 2006.

But now, you don’t have to take my word for it**. I’ll excerpt the laziest or stupidest bits of his column right here, every Friday during NaBloPoMo, and even afterwards if I find I enjoy it.

See if you can spot the commonality between last week’s column and this week’s. So last week, Spurr reviewed Cousin’s Snack Bar on Agricola Street.

“I was also happy with the fried chicken, which was way less greasy than the kind you get in a bucket. The fries, however, were not good, soggy and from frozen.”

Then later,

“The best part of the meal was the fries, which surprised me by being freshly hand-cut, crisp and sensational. It turns out that the frozen fries are only served when it gets so busy that the people in the kitchen can’t cut up potatoes quickly enough to keep up. The hand-cut ones are among the best in the city.

Unfortunately, they come with ketchup packets. I hate that […]

“My club sandwich was made small-town style, that is to say the right way, a triple-decker with the traditional ingredients and regular mayo on white bread instead of focaccia or some other fancy bread.”

This week, he reviewed CocoaPesto, a restaurant about an hour outside the city that I’ve been dying to try for months. Not as bad as usual, except for this gem:

“I chose a burger, partly because I was eager to try the hand-cut fries that come with it. […] The burger turned out to be a double cheeseburger with melted cheddar, tomato and pickle all served on a fresh sesame seed bun. The burger was top-rate, and was outshone by the big pile of hand-cut, shoestring-style fries.”

Firstly, I’m not convinced that a burger (let alone a double cheeseburger) should be on a brunch menu at all, but what business does a food critic have ordering that when the option of Tuscan eggs with tomato-mint sauce* is on offer? When a kitchen is offering something unusual, don’t we do them a disservice when we order the mundane? Don’t we give the impression that readers should always stick with safe choices?

Sigh. Maybe this featurette isn’t a good idea after all. Too depressing.

*To his credit, Spurr’s father actually ordered the Tuscan Eggs, “after extensive consultation with [their] very competent waitress”, even though “a tomato mint sauce didn’t sound like something [Spurr] would want on eggs.” Not surprisingly, and by his own addmission, Ol’ Billy was wrong about that.

**

Part I: How to Spend a Winter on The South Shore

September 10, 2007 § 3 Comments

So, on the South Shore, it’s easy to have fun if you’re here in summer and have vacation money weighing heavily on your wallet, but for the other nine months, everything is slower. The air is cooler, the Atlantic is frosty, some museums and restaurants close, and you’re left with nothing but your library books and bittersweet memories of summer.

…Or that’s what you’d think if you were us, last winter. Having an excellent winter here is perfectly possible, you just have to keep your ear to the ground, and your finger on the pulse of the… county, I guess.

This list isn’t comprehensive at all. Since I live in Lunenburg, I’ve kind of focussed on Lunenburg. But I’d love to include the whole South Shore all the way to Yarmouth, so if you have a hot tip about festivities in Shelburne or Liverpool, leave a note in the comments, and I’ll paste it all together in a permanent page for the left sidebar. So let us commence.

Upcoming Events
First! What’s coming up this month, so you don’t miss it.

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 12 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
Bluesy-roots singer Petunia is joined by Vancouver’s one-man Minimalist Jug Band for a fun afternoon.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

St. Cecilia Concert Series: A French Connection
September 12 at 7:30; St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg
Soprano Suzie LeBlanc and pianist Robert Kortgaard perform a program of Debussy, Poulence & Kurt Weill
tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for students

The Chester Playhouse
September 13-16 at 8:00, Saturday matinée at 2:00; The Chester Playhouse
Playwright David King introduces us to a series of fast-paced scenes that illustrate some of the essential life skills of contemporary urban society, in his play Life Skills. (More info at The Chester Playhouse website.)
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Lunenburg Summer Concert Series
September 16 from 2:00 till 3:00; Lunenburg Bandstand (in rain, at St. John’s Parish Hall)
Grass Market Folk Festival Winners
donations welcome

Events at The Biscuit-Eater
September 17 at 7:30; The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Juno-Award-winning blues musician Morgan Davis

Lunenburg Sessions
September 18 at 7:30; Lunenburg Academy Auditorium
Folk musician Bruce Jollymore
tickets: $5

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 19 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
The Klunkers offer a fun blend of country and folk for a memorable evening.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

The Chester Playhouse
September 20-22 at 8:00, Saturday matinée at 2:00; The Chester Playhouse
Playwright David King introduces us to a series of fast-paced scenes that illustrate some of the essential life skills of contemporary urban society, in his play Life Skills. (More info at The Chester Playhouse website.)
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Events at The Biscuit-Eater
September 20 at 7:30; Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Vancouver-based indie-folk-rock singer-songwriters Jeremy Eisenhauer & Sheree Plett
price of a drink; donations welcome

Music at the Three Churches
September 21 at 8:00 pm; St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mahone Bay
A varied program with Dartmouth, NS-based all-women’s choir The Aeolian Singers
tickets: $15, children under 12 are free

Music at Lane’s Privateer Inn
September 21 at 7:00; Lane’s Privateer Inn in Liverpool
Clas Larrson Quartet
price of a drink, donations welcome

Lunenburg Summer Concert Series
September 23 from 2:00 till 3:00; Lunenburg Bandstand (in rain, at St. John’s Parish Hall)
Banjo musician Old Man Luedecke
donations welcome

Lunenburg Art Galleries
September 22 & 23, all day; Lunenburg
Autumnal Equinox Gallery Hop— better than any collection in the province; there are 19 galleries in Old Town Lunenburg, and much as I hate the phrase, something for everyone

Boscawen Inn Wednesday Patio Series
September 26 at 6:00; The Boscawen Inn (150 Cumberland Street, Lunenburg)
Spend the evening with Calgary-based singer-songwriter Cort Delano.
cover charge: $5 (meals for +/- $12), donations welcomed

The Chester Playhouse
September 28 at 8:00 pm; The Chester Playhouse
South Shore’s own piano-based pop-jazz trio Flat Fifth
tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students

Music at The Lunenburg Arms
September 28 at 8:00; Risser’s Casual Dining (at The Lunenburg Arms)
Clas Larrson Trio
price of a drink; donations welcome

Events at The Biscuit-Eater:
September 29 at 7:00; The Biscuit-Eater in Mahone Bay
Scary Stories, part of the Mahone Bay Scarecrow Festival— listen to the spine-tinglers or tell one yourself…
price of a drink; donations welcome

The Chester Playhouse
September 29 at 8:00; The Chester Playhouse
Beloved Canadian comedian Ron James previews his newest TV special at a show to benefit The Chester Playhouse
tickets: $25

Little River Folk
September 30 at 6:30; Petite Riviere Fire Hall
Halifax singer-songwriter Joel Plaskett joins forces with banjo king Old Man Luedecke and Little Miss Moffat as part of the Petite Riviere series
tickets: $15

And now, the day-to-day stuff to keep you sane through the winter…

Parks
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.

Trails
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 there’s rails-to-trails in almost every community

Beaches
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
Carter’s 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 at 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 Music 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, too, and the place doubles (triples?) as a used-book store.

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. But seriously, just have the beer.

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’ll have to physically check their posters later this week. 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 has a few new shows opening in November.

If I’ve missed something, I urge you— I implore you— to let me know. Drop a line or leave a comment. I’ll add any oversights, promise.

Still to come: Museums & Festivals. Just let me catch my breath.

Walk Score Update

September 7, 2007 § 1 Comment

I got this note from Mike at Walk Score:

Hi Kristina,

Thanks for the great feedback and questions. We currently rely on Google Maps for our listing info and have found they’re not as accurate as we hoped. The only way we know to update/change business info is for business owners to go here: [http://tinyurl.com/27yed9]

This might explain why some of your local coffee shops are missing from your Walk Score.

We acknowledge the importance of parks and greenbelts in an area’s walkability and in a community’s overall health. We don’t currently have a way to update this information but are working very hard to improve this as well as add features like distance to public transit and crime statistics into Walk Scores in order to make the site as accurate as possible.

We hope you keep your eye on us as the site evolves.

Thanks for the note and glad you visited Walk Score!

Best

Mike

+++

I replied, suggesting that, in addition to public transit and crime statistics, they also factor in proximity to schools, museums, and laundromats.

I’ve been hard at work this afternoon compiling lists of things to do on the South Shore, with a particular emphasis on activities under $10 and places open in the winter. Did anyone local know that the Boscowen Inn has a Wednesday patio concert series during the summer?

Also, thanks to Alice Burdick’s comment on my last post, we have place to rent DVDs locally ($3 for an indefinite period), and he has about 70 Japanese titles alone. Excellent. They also rent DVDs at the SaveEasy.

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