Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dumping Day

Monday was Dumping Day - the official start to the lobster season in this area of the province. The season now continues until the end of May but apparently there is little lobstering done in January and February; it's just too cold and stormy. Dumping is the term used for the first dropping of the fisherman's traps for the season, hopefully in the most advantageous spots possible.

The weather was great on Monday - sunny, fairly calm seas, and cool (around 0). There was one incident near Cape Forchu where a boat setting out sank - Wayne's friends who go lobstering told him that often in the rush to get the "best" spots for their traps, captains take too many out at once, weighing down their boat, Fortunately, all four men aboard the boat were rescued.

There are concerns this year with the economic climate - in Massachussets lobster is being bought for only $3/lb because the market is very limited. Lobstermen here are not going to fish on Sundays to limit the supply somewhat and attempt to help their price - I hope we might be able to get some cheaper lobster meals.

First Snowfall

Overnight from Friday November 21st to Saturday November 22nd we had our first snowfall of the year. There had been a few flakes which melted before landing previously but southwestern Nova Scotia had been spared the major storm which the northern and eastern parts had a couple of weeks ago.

This was a major snow event, coming up the Eastern Seaboard and dumping from 10-40 cm of snow on Nova Scotia, depending on where you were. It's pretty breezy at the top of our hill so we had some strange drifting (couldn't open the back door in the morning) but I would estimate our area got about 20 cm. It's now all gone - last night a strong warm east wind arrived and by this morning we only had enough on our whole acre to make about a 2 ft high snowman if we could have piled it all together and now even that is gone.

Nothing around here was canceled or delayed - of course it didn't come on a school day to affect busing but the Santa Parade in Shelburne went ahead. Farther up the coast around Bridgewater, they had 35 cm or more and it was nice to hear on the radio that many businesses (Bridgewater Mall, Gow's Home Hardware, TD Bank) closed until Saturday afternoon so that their employees were not forced to try and get to work for the few customers who might have been dumb enough to go shopping.

Town streets were plowed promptly, ours before we woke up in the morning and driving into Shelburne this week everything seemed well cleaned up. I hope that level of service is the norm for the rest of the winter. The previous storm (which didn't hit this far south) closed the Cobequid Pass overnight with accidents blocking the west-bound highway and 1500 cars were trapped, with their occupants until morning. It turned out that many of the province's snow contracts don't start until December 1st and there was no contingency plan for an emergency in the Pass. If you've driven through there, you'll know it's a singularly bleak area with nothing whatsoever (including any exits) for 30+ kilometers (not that there is anything anywhere in that part of the Trans-Canada) except the toll-booths in the middle. I wonder if the province had the nerve to charge a toll to the people who were trapped overnight.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Remembrance Day

Poppy - ''Lest we forget''

This was our first Remembrance Day in Lockeport - it was a very moving experience.

In Ottawa, with various school groups, I have attended the national ceremonies at the War Memorial (November 11 is not a school holiday in Ontario - children are expected to mark the occasion in their school) and witnessed the full-blown pomp and ceremony version of remembrance. That is moving too - a different kind of ceremony to what can happen in a small town.

One commonality of the two types of services was the weather - Lockeport managed to come up with that November bite in the air, some sun, some cloud, wind, and even a few drops of rain. Just like I have always experienced in the past.

Our Remembrance Day began with a non-denominational church service in the United Baptist church - probably the largest in town and conveniently situated across the street from the town Cenotaph. The church was literally standing-room only. The local Legion members were the church ushers, The service was conducted by local clergy, the head of the Legion branch and our mayor. All uniformed personnel in the area were out in full regalia - RCMP, fire departments, First Responders and assorted veterans in uniform and politicians wearing the regalia of their office.

Highlights of the service were "O Canada", "The Last Post", 2 minutes of silence, "Reveille", the mayor reading the entire list of the fallen from the area, a short Remembrance Day address from the head of the Legion, prayers and a closing with "God Save the Queen". The congregation then followed the veterans across to the Cenotaph for the laying of wreathes - I would guess at least 60 of them, from the traditional Canadian and Nova Scotia government ones, to most area businesses and service clubs and the bulk in memory of loved ones from local citizens. The base of the Cenotaph was completely covered on all sides. A very personal expression of feelings and memories.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

God's Middle Name

Last night we attended a play at the Osprey entitled "God's Middle Name".

Written by Jennifer Overton and acted by Jennifer and Christian Murray, it was a one act play (90 minutes) about the raising of an autistic son. Based on Jennifer's own experience with her own son, it was poignant, witty, and devastatingly accurate about both the facts and feelings of dealing constantly with an autistic child. It certainly put me right back in the classroom with many of the special children with whom I worked over the years. The set was very simplistic and scenery consisted of slides projected on a huge rear screen. A very moving and effective performance that has won several awards.

If you happen to have a chance to attend a performance, go.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nova Scotia Flora

As a life-long city dweller, I have never paid much attention to what is growing in the country, woods, forest or whatever. You get used to a certain look where you have lived all your life and don't (at least I didn't) pay much attention to things as long as they looked like what I was expecting to be there. I guess that's one of the reasons we enjoy scenery on trips so much - we don't really know what to expect - it's all new.

That's what this first year in Nova Scotia has become - a discovery of the scenery and what is constantly changing in the flora part of it. In the last several years I have seen the impressive displays of lupins in June and July and almost expect them now but I'm seeing different times of year now and other lovely sights.

Late Spring and early Summer there are amazing rhododendrons here - every one seems to have 1 or 2 in shades of fuchsia, lavender, pink, red, white. In June, there are lots of bright orange quince blossoms before the leaves come out - we have one of those at the front of our driveway. September and October there are fiery displays of burning bush turning brilliant scarlet - another thing most everyone seems to have. In July there was some sort of yellow flowering bush along the roadways - I never did find out what that was. In October, along the highway were low bushes which had turned a deep dark red - these turned out to be huckleberry.

On our trip yesterday to Yarmouth, there were vast stands of golden conifers, particularly pretty against the deep green of the pines. I finally realized that these were tamaracks which are a deciduous conifer, shedding their needles in late Fall - we had one beside the house in Ottawa for years (salvaged from a Trees for Canada outing), but Wayne always trimmed it down to a small bush so we never had the chance to appreciate its change of colour. There were also lots of accent bushes with a canopy of little red berries - actually wild white roses (which are an invasive species here and grow everywhere) with tiny red rose hips - absolutely lovely, even if they are invasive.

I'm glad to be rediscovering how beautiful nature can be.

Yarmouth Discovery Trip

Yesterday we took our list (you need to keep various lists here of stuff you need to get sorted by how far away you will likely have to go to find those items - we have a local list, a Shelburne list, a Liverpool list and a Yarmouth or Bridgewater list, occasionally even a Halifax or Ottawa list) and decided to go shopping in Yarmouth and do some sight-seeing in the same trip.

We hadn't been in downtown Yarmouth for 5 or 6 years, only skirting the eastern outskirts on the way to the Digby ferry occasionally and I had been down twice to look for stuff at Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire (again on the outskirts) while Wayne was back in Ottawa.

We found everything we were looking for (a rare occurrence on these trips) at W-M, Canadian Tire and Staples. By this time it was starting to rain a bit so we decided to bypass all the traditional chain restaurants like TH, McD's, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Delight (we were tempted by Boston Pizza mind you), and head downtown to find a "real" restaurant. We headed south along Main Street as the rain intensified and pulled into the parking lot by the Visitors' Information Centre planning to walk back to a somewhat interesting looking deli we had just passed. As we got out of the car, Wayne noticed a sign saying "Bruno's Bistro" on the side of the building beside the parking lot. That seemed like a good choice since it was so close and we wouldn't get too wet.

The exterior of the building was very unprepossessing but we went in anyway. Immediately it was obvious that the interior of the building had undergone an extensive renovation, producing a lovely intimate bistro. There were 2 dining areas - the front one was small, seating about 16 in tables for 2 or 4, with a dark wood bar area along one side. Real plants here and there and a specials board. We continued on into the larger back room which had several large windows and a nice assortment of table sizes and furniture. The walls were painted a dark dijon mustard colour, lots of dark wood (servers, tables, chairs, a screen). A large wrought iron chandelier hung centred in the room from about a 12+ foot ceiling. Linen tablecloths (but paper napkins). Each table had an intricate metal tree sculpture (about 12" high) with glass leaves and 3 calla lilies as the candle holders - very pretty. This room would hold about 40 people and even on a rainy November Thursday it was about 3/4 full.

The menu was small with choices of salads and sandwiches plus a few full dinners liked pan-fried haddock, scallops, chicken. They seemed to specialize in simplicity and freshness. Wayne ordered a Greek salad with shrimp. It came with a home-made bread and huge slices of feta cheese. My choice was a wrap special of chicken, ham, spinach and swiss cheese - the wrap turned out to be phyllo and the whole thing was toasted in a panini press. It was served with sweet potato fries. Wayne had a merlot and I had a Stella. For dessert, Wayne had carrot cake (with caramel sauce and whipped cream) and I had an oreo ice-cream pie drizzled with Belgian chocolate sauce and whipped cream. There were 6 or 7 other choices like blueberry bread pudding, creme caramel, white chocolate cheese cake with berry sauce. Excellent coffee. The bill was $52.
I would say that the meal rated up there with Charlotte Lane at lunch time - I don't know if the bistro has a more extensiv evening menu but it certainly was a great find, totally by accident. It must be new this year since it's not in the current phone book. The diners certainly looked like some of the more affluent population of Yarmouth.

After lunch we headed out to Cape Forchu lighthouse. We had passed it on the Maine ferry but never driven around to it. As you can see, it was wrapped in plastic while some work is being done. The road out to the light is a very scenic drive along the west side of Yarmouth Harbour and Yarmouth Sound passing through areas of beautiful homes and intensely working lobster wharves - we must go back on a brighter day to enjoy the spectacular scenery again.

Our return to Lockeport was made along the old highway 3 along the shore as far as Barrington - much better vistas this time of year with the leaves off the trees. A good drive.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fancy Hat Tea Party

This afternoon, the Women's Institute in Sable River held a fancy hat tea party as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer research from 2:00-4:00PM. It was a Free Will Offering event.

I drove over to Little Harbour to my friend Louise's house - she had just come back from Barrington having picked up a choice of "fancy hats" from other friends (Rita and Pat). Louise chose a navy blue number with an upswept brim on one side. She also wore a long skirt and a $3.00 fur stole, courtesy of Frenchys. My choice was a small black velvet hat, with veil and a glitzy silver and rhinestone pin on the side which read "Get Hooked" - very Ritaish - she calls herself a "tame crow" because of her love of shiny baubles and clothes. I also sported an elegant multi-coloured shawl wrap.

We drove up to Sable River, about 15 minutes from Little Harbour and discovered a large crowd in attendance and some truly remarkable hats, feather boas, peacock feathers, fake flowers, leaves, pins and broaches. By the time the tea officially started every seat in the community hall was filled. The array of tea-time desserts was awesome - I finally quit after sampling about 15 different items and there were several I didn't get to. Tea (or coffee - but it was a TEA party) was served at your table by members of the WI in lovely tea cup and saucer pairs provided by members.

3 ladies who neglected to wear hats were coerced into judging the entries for most humourous (a large pile of flowers with assorted toys hanging down/peaking out), most elegant (Gina's straw derby with several dozen pieces of shiny jewelery attached) and most colourful (a broad brimmed hat completely covered in shocking pink feathers).

After we had tea, the guest speaker was introduced - Mary Richardson. I knew her slightly before-hand as an excellent quilter. I assumed she would speak about quilting or perhaps about Breast Cancer because of the occasion. However, to the delight of the crowd, she gave a humourous account of life as a female lobsterperson - for the last 15 years she has accompanied her husband during lobster season (late November to the end of May in District 33) and it is her responsibility to band the lobster claws. She brought along the assortment of clothes she wears to show us and the banding tool so we could try our hand at it (on blocks of wood - not live lobsters). She explained the system they used for their traps, told us about storms at sea, toileting problems, and the hauling in and sorting of the catch.

Certainly the most unique tea party that I have had the pleasure to attend.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Welcome Addition

On July 31st our local gas station in Lydgate closed due to the retirement of the owners. No one bought it, so the pumps were removed necessitating driving to either Sable River or Shelburne for gas for your vehicles or lawn mowers, snow blowers etc.

This past week a new Wilson's gas stop (with gas below a dollar/litre - thank you) opened just beside where the old gas station (Irving) was in Lydgate - run by the Kwik Way Convenience store at the Lydgate corner. It's got regular, premium and diesel and the whole installation is brand new so no problems with the pumps like the old station had. A VERY welcome addition to the local scene.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

55+ games

During a week in September (which we missed - visiting our family in Ottawa) and another week in October, Shelburne County held its 55+ games. For a $5 entry fee (and $10 for the banquet if you wanted to attend), there were activities all over the county for seniors to enjoy, including hikes, poker walks, bowling, volleyball, golf, hockey, ring toss, horseshoes, cribbage, crokinole, "mind games" (Scrabble, Lexicon, crytograms, crossword puzzles etc), yoga, bocce, badminton, checkers, and my very favourite - Wii demonstrations. Some of them were very well attended - others less so - but everyone had a great deal of fun.

Last night was the closing awards and banquet at the Lions Hall in Shelburne. Awards were from 4-5PM - all participants got a certificate and mention of any particularly good finishes (I won the Scrabble tournament in Shelburne - I beat the only other participant!). There was also mention of those who were 80+ or 90+ and still participating. Then there were draws for several door prizes, followed by a roast beef dinner (mashed potatoes, turnips, carrots, gravy, buns, tea/coffee, juice (tomato, apple), pie (banana cream, lemon meringue, apple). The evening ended with entertainment by Jamie Cotter and Sheila Doane. The 2008 Loyalist Landing Society presented all with either commemorative plates or Loyalist ball caps.

An excellent idea, lots of fun, a good dinner, great entertainment and sing-a-long. I look forward to doing it all again next year - maybe we'll even try for the provincial 55+ games in Yarmouth in September 2009.

Hallowe'en in Lockeport

Well - they certainly love Hallowe'en here. Lots of serious decoration - even out in the country where not many kids would come calling - hanging ghosts and witches, pumpkin headed people in all sorts of poses, lights, jack-o-lanterns, spider webs etc.

We originally bought candy for 40 kids - then our next door neighbour told us she regularly got up to 100 (country kids get driven into town) - so back to the store for more chips and chocolate. Shirley said the kids started coming about 4:30PM (but I think she was remembering before the change in the date of day-light saving reversal - it used to be dark early on Hallowe'en). Wayne carved the pumpkin and we set it up in the north parlour window on the mini-scaffold we bought a few weeks ago (much easier to work in rooms with high ceilings now). He rigged up a sheet over a ladder with a light inside to look like a ghost behind the pumpkin. Then we waited.

The first children arrived at 6:20 and the last at 8:35. There were 22 of them - boy do we have a lot of chip bags and mini-chocolate bars to eat!