Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living on the Edge!

For one weekend every fall six friends get together on the edge of the beautiful Bay of Fundy. When I say "the edge" I mean that literally ..... the cottage we stay in actually looks out over a cliff with a 60 foot drop to the rugged coast below. We spend the weekend relaxing, sipping wine, solving world problems and hiking in Fundy National Park.

Nancy cooling her feet.

This year we chose to hike to Laverty Falls and we were not disappointed. The wooded trail was a good workout that ended with the opportunity to cool our feet and take some pics. Thank goodness we brought along our group photographer .... have selfie stick, will travel (now if we could just get one for a tablet!)

After a hard day on the trail we were rewarded some entertainment at the Molly Kool kitchen party. Molly Kool was the first female sea captain in North America and she hailed from little old Alma New Brunswick!
I took a little video of the entertainment at the kitchen party provided by two very talented children!


In the town of Alma (where we stayed) a church on the main drag was being renovated and about to become a center for fresh brewed coffee and craft beer. We poked our heads inside to check it out and wish them well with the new business.

Later we talked about the beauty of the area and how it could be developed more to attract tourists and help boost our poor economy (more businesses like the church above). Good for business maybe, but not so good for us ...... more tourists would mean that we would be less likely to have a whole beach to ourselves like Diane and Cathy in the pic below!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer Road Trip

Head out on the highway ....... looking for adventure! There's nothing like a summer road trip that starts with a takeout coffee and a breakfast sandwich and ends up with a great visit with family.

Stopping at "points of interest" along the way is all part of the adventure. The Masstown Market, below, was a great stopping point just before we got to Truro, NS. Besides enjoying a bite to eat from some great local food vendors, you can pick up seasonal produce and quality, crafts, home d├ęcor and gardening items.

Of course, no road trip is worth taking if it doesn't include a stop at a tractor dealership ..... just to look or kick a few tires!

One of our planned stops was at the Stanfield's Underwear Outlet in Truro. We heard that there were bargains to be had, and who can't use a new pair of combination long johns ...... after all winter is not that far away!

Lot's of great items and good prices, but not sure about the yellow underwear below! Yikes!

Next stop, the beautiful Annapolis Valley where we spent the night and had a great evening with Ross's brother Jim and his wife, Linda. Before we left the next day we had a chance to check out Jim's retirement "dream job" at the rink on the air force base where he gets to drive the Zamboni! (I asked if he'd let us take it for a spin, but I guess he didn't trust our driving skills!)

On the base we saw a display of military planes. This was one that Jim used to work on .... he had to sit (where the manikin is) in the nose of the plane during search and rescue operations!

Arrival in Lunenburg

After leaving Jim and Linda's we had a lovely drive down highway 10 to Lunenburg where our son and his wife live. This historic town on the south shore of Nova Scotia impresses me every time I go there, with its well preserved architecture, quaint streets and ocean views. The main purpose of our visit, however, was to spend time with our "kids" and to see Alicia's (our daughter in law) flower farm Littlest Flower Farm.   As you can see, as soon as you enter their home, you know you're either in the house of a farmer or a florist ..... as it turns out it's both! ..... oh, and a carpenter too!

Good company, food, and laughs in the back yard were the order of the day. The night, however, was a different story!
Have you ever been "squid jigging"? Well we have! When I was going to school in Ontario we used to sing Canadian folk songs and one of them was called "The Squid Jigging Grounds" from Newfoundland. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be "jigging" squid off the coast of Nova Scotia!

So, in order to jig squid, you need to go out after dark and put a special lore on your fishing rod. Here's Joel and Ross trying their luck, but unfortunately the squid were not interested in being jigged!

The Littlest Flower Farm

Sunday morning we ventured out to Alicia's flower farm to do some picking! What an array of flowers!

A lot of work goes into producing unique and gorgeous flowers like these which is only the first step in creating beautiful arrangements and bouquets which are sold in markets and by special order.

I caught this gal inspecting the items that I was collecting in the bucket.
In spite of the chicken I managed to collect quite a few feather tops!
Bachelor Buttons harvested for confetti

More pics of flowers .... can't help it, they're just so darn pretty!

Joel loading the car and Alicia with a finished bouquet ready for delivery.

All loaded up!
After a couple of hours at the farm we headed back to Lunenburg where Alicia worked her magic!

With a bouquet of my own, and memories of a great weekend, we headed home. I am inspired to find a deer proof area to grow a few blossoms myself next season!

As you can see, my bouquet survived the journey home.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Mid-Summer Read

As I browsed my local library shelves in pursuit of a good summer "read", I happened upon, My Life In France by Julia Child (with Alex Prud'homme, her grandnephew). I knew about Julia Child first from seeing her on PBS years ago. At the time she seemed, to me, to be a rather frumpy woman demonstrating how to prepare something ..... not that exciting. Later, of course, I saw the movie, "Julie and Julia" and got a little different perspective from Meryl Streep's portrayal of her. Intrigued, I thought I would add it to my arm load of books to be checked out (of the library, that is!)

Julia's writing is lively and entertaining as she describes her culinary and book writing adventures beginning in France in 1948. She describes how French spices make chicken taste so ... "chickeny" and conveys her determination to introduce French cooking to the US by writing a cookbook specifically for the American house wife:

          I girded my loins, spit on the old Underwood, and began to type up my suggestions - clickety-clack - like a determined woodpecker."

However, aside from the enjoyable description of her life journey, I was struck by a couple of other topics that came to my attention during my lazy mid-summer read.

A photo in the book of a street in Paris in 1949.

Arriving in Paris in 1948 must have been quite the experience! I can only imagine how drab it must have been at that post-war time. Julia, however, embraced the culture and cuisine with great enthusiasm. She contrasts the deliciousness of the food and the "experience of dinning" in France, with that of the humdrum American gastronomy.

       "Wine?" I said. "At lunch?" I had never drunk much wine other than some $1.19 California Burgundy, and certainly not in the middle of the day.
In France, Paul explained, good cooking was regarded as a combination of national sport and high art, and wine was always served with lunch and dinner. "The trick is moderation", he said.
Her great desire was to introduce the fine food and customs of France to the busy American housewife, who not only cooks, but cleans, chauffeurs, gardens etc. I commend her efforts. On a recent trip to Europe, I was reminded of how much more the Europeans seem to socialize in cafes, flock to cultural events and enjoy fine dinning. I want to be like that! ....... But in all fairness, it's just not in our North American DNA. Our ancestors were too busy developing a country to pay attention to exquisite cuisine and the finer things in life.  No "boulangeries" or "patisseries" down the road in rural Canada!

A photo of Julia lighting a cigarette on a street in Marseille.

My Life in France is not all pressed duck and boeuf bourguignon. Julia and her husband, Paul were very politically aware They were most disturbed by events that took place in the US during the McCarthy era. Her father, however, was a staunch Republican who supported McCarthy's efforts, hated socialism, distrusted foreigners and wished to return to the country's isolationism of 1925. Julia felt that this was a very primitive way of thinking that didn't take into account the ways in which the world had changed. She felt that McCarthy supporters, who were determined to persecute those who embraced different ideologies, went against the Constitution which gave citizens the right to differ in ideas, religion and politics. I couldn't help but see the parallels with Donald Trump's campaign for president! (even the recent Brexit decision!)

Julia and her fellow chefs and co-authors in the kitchen.

Needless to say, I enjoyed reading about Julia's adventurous life. I learned something about food, culture and history. I was inspired to find a special interest and pursue it with passion. And I had several good chuckles, like the excerpt below from a letter that her husband. Paul, wrote to his brother (about Julia):

      She's becoming and expert plucker, skinner and boner. It's a wonderful sight to see her pulling all the guts out of a chicken through a tiny hole in its neck ...... And you ought to see her skin a wild hare - you'd swear she'd just been Comin' Round the Mountain with Her Bowie Knife in Hand.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

For The Birds!

I don't know if it's the extra time we spend these summer days lingering on the back deck, or a lack of something important to do in our old age, but we seem to discuss the habits of our feathered friends more than we ever used to! It's nice to see the tiny humming birds seeking out our most colourful flowers and to hear the sound of the chickadees. Even the crows, who can be a nuisance, have been a subject of interest as they raise their families in our back yard ... like them or not, they are very smart!

So the "hubster" has taken to creating little homes for our backyard tenants. Hopefully they won't mind the decoration around the front door!

Each home has the front panel on a hinge to facilitate spring cleaning!

Here is our latest addition posted at the back edge of our yard near the woods. It's "open house" so we will be watching to see if we have any takers! There are more condos on the market to be given to friends and family, so we will see what kind of species they attract.

Who hasn't had a robin's nest in spring on a ledge under a deck or in some other inappropriate place? Apparently some birds prefer a "nesting box" rather than a house. ...... We've got that covered too!

A nesting box that Ross made and nailed to a tree. In it is a nest that a little sparrow was making on a ledge in our garage! We had to remove it before she laid eggs in it! A garage is no place for baby birds!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Remembering Turkey

A photo I took of a small hotel in the neighborhood where we stayed in Istanbul.

Recent events in Turkey have made me remember the five days that I spent there a few years ago. I was on my way back from Bangladesh and some fellow teachers and I decided to stop in Istanbul to see the sights.

I was sorry to hear about the recent terrorist attack on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul as well as the disruption caused by the coup attempt last week. This is not the first time I have been aware of trouble in Turkey. When we were planning our "stop over" in Istanbul, a few weeks before our date of arrival there were large demonstrations in the city that met with government forces determined to supress them. There was significant news coverage and the scenes we were seeing did not look good. However, our tickets and accommodations were booked so we decided to continue with our travel plans (hoping we wouldn't be confined to our hotel rooms!).

When we arrived things had calmed down and we felt free and save to explore the beautiful city. After living in the crowded and less developed city of Dhaka for a year, we were thrilled to be in a calm, well organized city with nice green spaces, outdoor cafes and civilized traffic with no unnecessary honking of horns! Our hotel was near the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia .... prime tourist attractions.

Kristina and I in the Blue Mosque

Liz and Kristina outside the Grand Bazaar

As we spent our days strolling the streets, exploring the Grand Bazaar and other sights, we had the opportunity to ask some of the locals what all the  recent unrest was about  and what they thought of it. The gist of the trouble was that the government was attempting to restrict some of the freedoms that the people of Turkey presently have and impose a more Islamic style culture on its citizens. Those we spoke to were opposed to having their freedom limited and all wished to have a secular form of government.

Locals outside an ice cream shop near Taksim Square

The people we met in Istanbul were friendly and kind and I hope that the situation in their country will stabilize. Turkey seemed like a place were all faiths and cultures could live together respecting each other's religion and customs. I will be watching the news very closely in the coming months!

Chatting with a local

My travel buddy Leckie makes a new friend

The guys from The Pudding Shop
The Pudding Shop (as you can see) sells more than pudding. It was a restaurant, started in the late 50's, that became a meeting place for "adventurers" traveling to Asia ..... along the "Freak Road" as they called it. They travelled in old cars and camper vans and often left messages on the bulletin board or picked up travellers at the Pudding Shop. Apparently it was quite the meeting place and information center. (You can "Google" it for more info)

You can also read more info about the situation in Turkey by reading Nahlah  Ayed's CBC article:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On the High Seas!

The waves were choppy, and dark clouds loomed above, but three brave souls and their captain set out upon the Bay of Fundy seeking adventure!.......

Actually we booked a 2 hour kayaking tour with Red Rock Adventures in St. Martins. The weather was, in fact, "iffy" but we managed to dodge the showers and enjoyed seeing the magnificent coastline and exploring caves that are not easily accessible by land.

Diane & Nancy

Diane and Nancy in less quiet water!

Beyond the point the waves became a bit choppy so we headed for quieter waters. It's amazing how the conditions and scenery are constantly changing in the Bay of Fundy.

Midway through our adventure we stopped at an isolated beach surrounded by cliffs to enjoy a snack of smoked salmon, avocado, cucumber and cheese and crackers, prepared and served by our delightful "captain", Eric. ...... How civilized!

During our "high tea" on the beach we marveled at our undeveloped surroundings and agreed that we are very fortunate to have such easy access to these places. There was no battling of traffic to get there, ample parking and not another kayaker in sight. We discussed how tourism could be better developed and what effect the Fundy Trail project might have on the area. The consensus was that the influx of money would be great, but we might prefer to be greedy and keep these unpopulated beauties to ourselves!

"Captain Eric" and me exploring a cave

After making it back to land, safe and sound, ....... ahoy! We spy a gift shop! Always time for a little shopping ... we're women after all!