Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Healthy Harvests, Weekend Shenanigans and Quiet Reflection of a Past Tragedy

This past weekend kicked off with a pretty great harvest from my garden. Lot's of hot peppers, weirdly shaped carrots and some mystery peas that were grown from seeds labelled "green beans." I also picked a good stash of tomatoes that may have been eaten before I photo could be taken!

After a day at work, I boarded the 330 bus to Tantallon, where my grandmother was waiting for me. We greeted each other with the same surprising news (that story is for another day), and then made our way to Ingramport (aka no technology land - named as such for the lack of technology that exists or works at this location!). 

After dinner, Grammy suggested taking our tea outside to enjoy the cool and calm evening. This was the sunset we witnessed! The picture obviously does it no justice!

My grandmother's backyard.
Saturday, like Thursday, was a failed adventure since we were fog and rained out for most of it. But the two of us had fun exploring. The highlight was a visit with my grandmother's best friend Margaret - the most positive and incredible woman ever, who also happened to get a little Sidney Crosby fame a few weeks ago when he visited Camp Hill in Halifax. 

When we returned home, I decided to go check on the wild blueberries I randomly discovered growing a few months ago. It was quite the harvest!

There'll be plenty more where these bad boys came from!
I thought it important to provide my finger for scale. Smallest blueberries I've ever seen!
On Sunday, we took a drive to Bayswater, where a second (and unknown to me until the previous day) Swissair Memorial can be found. The other is near Peggy's Cove. 

The drive out was stunning, as most of the way is along a windy coastal road. And, with the sun shinning, it made it even more spectacular. It makes it really hard to watch the road when you have that to distract you! 

The memorial site itself was simple but impactful. This is the site where bodies of the victims have been laid to rest. It is covered by a forest canopy while overlooking the ocean. My grandmother and I were both amazed how that event happened almost 20 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. What a terrible time for so many families - but I was to be from Nova Scotia knowing and seeing so many people step up to care for those who had suddenly lost loved ones. 

Photo above is of the memorial site, and below the parking lot.
Such a tranquil resting place for such a horrific ending.
A few shots from along the road across the street.  Such a beautiful part of the world.

The weekend concluded with a relaxing read nap on the hammock. 

I couldn't have asked for a better weekend considering the disruption of my original plans due to a lurking, unwanted visitor (again, for a later post! I need to build suspense somehow!). Love getting to spend time in this place and with my grandmother. 

-the Orange Canadian

Monday, 8 August 2016

Is this a 4-way stop? The misadventures of a trip to Truro

Last Thursday, I thought was going to be a pretty big day. I'd made a mental list of things I wanted to do or see while I was home. Several of those items have been tackled. Last Thursday, I was hoping to take a trip to Truro, Nova Scotia in an attempt to climb up Jacob's Ladder in Victoria Park. 

I have heard many a great things about Victoria Park, and because I hate stairs, I figured this would be a great achievement. So, my best pal and I packed into the car with our first stop actually being the Masstown Market (because we needed hiking snacks, and well, Masstown Market!). 

We left Dartmouth, which was almost unbearably hot at 9:30AM. The sun was shinning, there was no rain in the forecast for days. That morning, while having coffee, I even commented to by brother that we hadn't had any rain in about 2 weeks. This, of course, is great for tourism, but bad for my garden! So anyway, we left sun-shiny Dartmouth, and before too long, the heavens opened up, and we found ourselves driving into rain. 

This did not deter us. We still made our way to Masstown. But the rain was getting heavier. So, instead of just grabbing a few things and making our way back to Truro, we stayed put for a bit. 

When the rain died down a bit, we decided to pay a quick visit to Great Village, because Matthew wanted to check out a favourite antique shop. Along the way, I noticed a sign that said "look off" with an arrow pointing off the main road. After our anti-q's stop, I made the executive decision to check out said look off. And, expecting to find myself overlooking some overwhelming expanse, we, instead, had a great laugh over the fact that there really wasn't much to see.

View from the look off. It's not the worst view I've ever seen, but it's no Canning/valley!
Self-photograph time!
Across the road from the look off. 
After the disappointment of the look off, we made our way back to Truro. We had already resigned to the reality that it would be far too wet for hiking. This was made even more obvious by the fact that on the short trip from Masstown to Truro, we had to pull over and wait for the rain to die down twice.  The rain was so heavy at times, we couldn't see anything in front of or behind us, and even the road was hard to locate!

But, eventually we made it to Truro. Here we took a brief trip around memory land, where Matthew showed me where his Ma had grown up, and we reminisced about Margolians and other shops that used to be found in this small town. Then we made our way back to the big city.

It was at this point that I made yet another executive decision. I thought it would be fun to make a quick stop at Mastodon Ridge to snap a photo of us with the mastodon replica that now faces arse-end* towards the highway.

It turns out, Mastodon Ridge is in great need of repair. Also, somethings just don't make sense. BUT on the up side, I clearly know how to pose like a caveman!

This is one of those why is this here pieces.
No, that's not the reincarnation of Jesus wearing puppy shorts.
No, it's just Matthew reluctantly posing with the Mastodon. 
Here is a fun fact about the infamous mastodon. My whole life, I have been under the impression that this spot was around for a long, long time (like before I was even born!). It turns out, the mastodon that gave birth to this would-be theme park, was only discovered in 1991! I couldn't believe it - that guy is almost as old as me!
Another shot of the not-so-old mastodon. Of course, this isn't what they found. This is a replica. 
A view if the highway and surrounding farm land in front of (or behind, I suppose) the mastodon.
After touring around the Ridge for a while, we called it a day and made our way back to Dartmouth. It may not have been the day either of us was expecting, but we sure had fun!

-the Orange Canadian

*Apparently the folks who own the home behind the park? were not so happy to look out and see a plastic mastodon bum. So, they petitioned the powers that be, and now, instead of seeing the face of the mastodon from the highway, you get mooned!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Beachin' Sunset by the Sea!

Sometimes after a hot and stressful day, your brother reads your mind and tells you to take a drive to the beach to unwind. And this was exactly what I was needing - a little decompression by the sea, if you will. 

Little did I know that when I arrived, I would be greeted by one spectacular sunset! The colours in the photos below do no justice to what it actually looked like, but it was incredible!

Arrival at Lawrencetown Beach.
Epic colours along the beach skyline.

Lawrencetown is one of my favourite places in Nova Scotia... maybe even in the world. It's a place I've always be drawn to when there is unrest in my life. It's where I had my first allergic reaction to almonds... and then later to soy. It's where I was just before the great Porters Lake Forest Fire of  2008. It's where I went to escape the heat, to say good-bye before heading off on an adventure outside of the province (and sometimes even "the city"), and where I took a few minutes to just be in the moment and soak up the overwhelmingly beautiful natural setting surrounding me. 

When people talk about going to "the beach" this is what I think of. Not a lake. The ocean. I'm a firm believer that it is not considered a beach if you build a sandcastle and still find it there the next day, perfectly intact. Sure a lake can have a few waves lapping against the water's edge, but not like this: 

And after the intense sunset on arrival, it was even more incredible an hour later as I made my way back to the car to head home.

It's always amazing to me how such dramatic colours can be found almost painted before you.

With all the unrest and unsettling scenarios taking place in the world today, it's nice to find a bit of tranquility. And sometimes, there's a bit of comfort in knowing that there are moments in life that are really nothing more than a Bob Ross masterpiece! 

-the Orange Canadian

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

That Time Grammy Got Out of Hand: A visit to Ross Farm

In Nova Scotia, it seems as though a visit to Ross Farm is a rite-of-passage for elementary school kids across the province. For some reason, I seem to have missed this field trip in my early years, and as a result it has been on my provincial bucket list.

A few weekends ago, I spent some much needed/overdue time with my Grandmother. Usually we end up in Mahone Bay or Chester or both. During the weekend I was visiting, however, it was rainy, and we decided it was a sign to do something a bit different - shake things up. Given my intro paragraph, I'm pretty sure you've probably figured it out... we went to Ross Farm.

For anyone not from Nova Scotia, Ross Farm is a working farm and one of the province's many awesome museums. It opened in 1969, and ever since has been teaching countless* tourists about farm life in the 1800s. The farm itself began in 1816, when Captain Ross set up shop.

The grounds of the farm are a mixture of old buildings, fields boasting a variety of vegetables, a bit of pasture, and of course a handful of staff donning period clothing**. Luckily for us, there weren't many people there - likely because of the weather - so, it gave us ample time to slowly wander and enjoy the visit (both with each other and on the farm).

Upon entering the farm, you are given a pamphlet with a map, so you know the lay of the land. I learned that it is not necessarily to scale. This means, there were some things that looked very far away, but weren't and others that looked really close, but were actually much further. Then there was the whole me leading Grammy off the beaten path, into a field of shiiirt animal droppings... but I digress...

The first stop is the newly added eduction centre. This is the first building you enter and is actually where you pay your (minimal) entrance fee. I loved this because there was a bunch of art work from elementary students depicting what food meant to them. And there were crazy things - drawings, hand-sown plush fruits and veggies, even a few mobiles***. Each of the items was accompanied by the reason the individual had created what they did and why it was important. It gave me hope.

Then we made our way to the schoolhouse. This is a one-room structure, that was actually built in 1907 and was (somehow) transported to its current site for the purposes of the museum. Some of the books that were on the bookshelves inside seemed really interesting - my favourite being How do Plants Grow, which I thought could be useful for today's generations (young AND old!).

Outside shot of the schoolhouse.
Inside the one-room schoolhouse. 
The next stop was Ross Barn, which housed a number of animals both outdoors and in, as well as a museum of agricultural tools - some of which they still use on the farm today. Well, some of the same tools are used, not the ones on display. This was interesting, as I'd seen a few of them still in use today during my travels in both Ghana and Uganda. I still for the life of me cannot understand how people can use a hand hoe to till large areas of land. I have such a respect for anyone who can physically do so for more than the 5 minutes I was tasked to do so during a farm visit in Northern Ghana! It's hard work!

Some of the animals chillin' outdoors. There was the most enormous pig I've ever seen, along with some sheep and a few horses.
After a walk through the barn, I noticed a nice view of the river that was behind the farm. I convinced Grammy to head in that direction so I could snap a photo (which does not even remotely show what I saw!), and is the moment we set off course in to the poo poo patch. But before that, we visited Rose Bank Cottage - built in 1817 - learned about how steep stairs used to be back in the day, sans railings, and ate molasses cookies. As Grammy noted, we'd worked up quite an appetite! Next to the Cottage is an old store. 

A panoramic shot of inside the shop!
The view that led us to the poo!
Our final walking destination was to the mill. Unfortunately it was not in operation at the time of our visit, but it was still neat to take a look around. It also gave a really pretty view!

View from the Mill.
And then, my favourite moment of the entire visit - I convinced a very reluctant Grammy to go on a horse wagon ride! She was not sold on this idea in the least. But throughout the visit in my annoying, yet adorable way, I repeatedly told her how we were going to do this. At first, I thought it had been this magic of mine that convinced her, but now I know she was secretly on board the whole time. For, you see, we were the second family/group in the line up for the next trip. A family with 3 small children came a few minutes after us. Well, when the wagon returned, and the participants of that trek vacated, the small children got a little excited and "cut the line"... 

(pause for suspense and comedic effect!)

And Grammy was having none of it! You should have seen her! She was pushing them out of the way like a mad woman hoping to get the last Malibu Stacey doll on Christmas Eve! But that's not even the best part. In my shock, I ended up being the last to get on, and she's calling out to me I saved you a seat, right here! while patting the empty part of the bench next to her, with a big 'ol grin! That's my grandmother! 

Anyway, the ride was fun. It took us to the two spots we didn't get to walk to - the blacksmith and the cooper shop. We had the option to hang back and look around, but Grammy was feeling pretty tired (probably for pushing small children out of her way in order to score prime wagon bench real estate!). Instead we sat back, relaxed and enjoy the 15-20 minute trek throughout the farm grounds and into the woods a bit along the water. 

The only disappointment of the whole experience was that there wasn't a cafe on-site. There are biscuits and tea/coffee for sale in the gift shop, but that was not going to quiet our rumbling bellies. This of course, was easily fixed by paying a visit to my favourite provider of nourishment - the Kiwi Cafe in Chester!

If you haven't been to either Ross Farm or the Kiwi - do yourselves a favour and go. I mean, it doesn't hurt that the Kiwi serves Java Blend coffee, but also it's just delicious. And the farm is a fun interactive adventure for any family, no matter what ages! Heck! Go by yourself!

When we arrived back home, we both surprised ourselves by taking a 2-hour 10 minute nap****. Afterwards, I took a stroll down by the waterfront to see if any of the blueberries were ready for eating (nope!), and to check out the progress of the new turnoff. It was so calm and peaceful, and it made me disappointed to not have my kayak! Oh well! Next time!

A few shots from the bay!

I'm back for another weekend of adventures in a few days, so who knows where that will take us this time!

-the Orange Canadian

*approximately 25 000 per year according to their Facebook page.
**that is, time relevant attire.
*** the usually colourful and fun shapes held together that dangle over a baby's crib, not the cellular variety!
****that is, we intended to just close our eyes for 10 minutes, but woke up 2 hours later! Apparently it wasn't just an appetite we worked up!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Reverse Culture Shock, Epic Lightening and Accomplishing Childhood Dreams: A night with Lauryn Hill

There have been many a rainy, or perhaps more frequently, snowy day that involved braving the weather and jumping from my home to my next door neighbour's house. Many of these inclement weather excursions involved watching Sister Act 2.

While the film is overall pretty great, there is one scene in particular that has always stayed with me - the moment where a character down on her luck, bursts out into one of the most powerful versions of Joyful, Joyful I have ever heard. A clip that - thanks to the powers of YouTube - I have been able to replay over and over, every time giving me goosebumps and frequently bringing a tear to my eye the moment she hits that first note. And that lady was played by the one, the only, Lauryn Hill.

Now if we travel back in time a bit, several months ago, while I was in Uganda, a friend posted on the 'ol Book of Faces that Lauryn Hill would be playing at Halifax Jazz Fest. This immediately prompted a call home to put the pressure on to score some tickets. Thankfully, my awesome brother was able to snag a few and the dream of seeing this incredibly gifting singer, songwriter began to unfold.

Before I knew it, it was July 12. I was having a pretty stressful/not-so-wonderful day. I feared the worst. It was an omen that Ms. Hill would not take the stage, as she's known for being a no-show or flat out refusing to perform because she doesn't like the crowd's energy. I was anxious all day. In fact, this was probably the most risky investment of my life... sadly. So when my brother called to tell me he was on his way, I nearly had a meltdown, because I thought he was calling to say she would not be performing. I also happened to scare the pants off of the mob of other concert-goers around me, until I gave the all-clear that that was not the intent of the phone call.

Fastforward to entering the venue - which was not at the Casino, as I'd thought. They scan my ticket, and I walk up to the two or three security people while trying to unzip my bag. And they all just looked at me funny. No security check. They didn't care what contents were in the material that clung around my shoulder. And I felt uncertain. I was confused. And then I realized I was in Nova Scotia - security checks are few and far between. And while that gives me a sense of comfort, it's also deeply concerning...

I then met up with a friend and we were sitting and chatting and enjoying the perfect summer evening while waiting for the show to begin. All of a sudden panic struck - I didn't bring bug spray! What if I got Malaria?! Oh... wait... I'm in Nova Scotia - that's not a thing here. Where I thought I've been the last three months, I have no idea, but I certainly forgot I'd been home. And that's pretty much the first time since arriving home that I felt the discomfort of reverse culture shock, aside from my hesitation at crosswalks.

But, as 9PM began to edge more closely to 10PM, we started to get nervous. Was my anticipation to see Ms. Hill about to be dashed?

And then it happened. She took the stage. Everyone went crazy. She played a few incredible songs - mind-blowing songs. And then it began to thunder and lightening, causing the band and songstress to leave the stage.

The lightship was incredible! And for awhile I felt sorry for Lauryn, because people seemed to be way more taken by the lightening than her. But come one, it was pretty epic... minus the torrential downpour that followed it.

This was shot during the unplanned intermission light show!
Photo credit/source: TJ Maguire/
After a good hour break, including some cleanup time on stage, Ms. Hill returned with her band, and played one bang on set! Honestly - that lady is unbelievably talented. She played well past the midnight sound by-law, but no one seemed to care - it was incredible. Songs from her one and only solo album, some classic hits, and even a few Fugees tunes to end off the night!

It was certainly well worth the wait, the rain, and the anxiety related to no-show fears. And although she didn't rehash her rendition of Joyful Joyful it didn't matter. Hands down one of the best live performances I have ever been witness to.

Thanks for showing up, Ms. Hill. And thanks for a night that will not soon be forgotten!

-the Orange Canadian

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Deep Thoughts on the Ferry: The Viola Desmond

When the sun is shining or there is presence of Nova Scotia sunshine (fog), I usually opt to use the ferry service as my means of getting to work. The 25-30 minute walk is a great way to start the work day, and the evening ferry rides are often quiet relaxing - the perfect way to decompress after a day's work.

This week, however, there is an added bit of excitement to my daily commute. I had the fortune of travelling across the big harbour on the Viola Desmond.

Photo Source:
The Viola Desmond is the newest member of Halifax Transit's harbour fleet after being placed into circulation last week. The vessel's namesake is perhaps fitting given the events taking place in the US and around the world. The name was selected through Halifax's ferry naming contest, which ran from February 1-15 of this year and included other possibilities such as, Vincent Coleman and Private John Curwin*.

For those of you unfamiliar with Viola Desmond's story let me give you a bit of a Cole's notes background. Viola was a Nova Scotia businesswomen in the 1940s. She also happened to be Black. In 1946, while on a business trip in New Glasgow, she decided to see a movie. Of course, this doesn't seem like any activity out of the ordinary, except that she wanted to purchase a floor ticket, but wasn't allowed to do so because of her skin pigmentation. Despite the laws at the time, Viola sat in the lower section, and was later arrested on charges of failing to pay the theatre tax - also known as "failing to be white." She spent a night in jail, paid the fines, and then eventually went on to battle it out in court - making Viola's actions a game changer in the Nova Scotia Civil Rights Movement. On April 15, 2010, Viola Desmond received an official apology from the Government of Nova Scotia (although 45 years after her passing). See the following Canadian Heritage Minute for a visual history.

The situation in 1946 is an interesting case, given Nova Scotia's contribution to the underground railroad and the push to end slavery. The province was of particular significance during the abolition of slavery in relocating freed slaves. Lawrence Hill's 2007 novel, The Book of Negroes focuses specifically on Nova Scotia's role. This, of course, does not mean that racism was not present in the province at that time, or that of Viola Desmond's, or even today. My point being, that this province has a history of opening its boarders during a time of great need (Syrian refugees, anyone?!). It provided opportunity - albeit quite challenging and riddled with inequality - to those able to leave slavery's rule in the United States, and yet only a few decades ago, Black Nova Scotians were are still being treated unfairly. In fact, as I sat down to write this post and took that bit of information in, I was dumbfounded as to how that was possible. It's so absurd when you think of it, that the color of one's skin - completely disregarding their capabilities, experiences, and qualities as a human being - could have such significance for someone just wanting to watch a movie like anyone else. And yes, I realize that as a white female from a Western country, my views are a bit more rose-tinted because racism has never personally affected me or been directed towards me, but it's still just so incredibly ridiculous to me. Even the events of the past week, the negativity directed towards the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the countless unnecessary deaths of African-Americans leave me equally mind-boggled over how it is 2016 and we still haven't figured out that inside traits (knowledge/experience, contributions to one's community, work ethic, etc) are more important than outside or uncontrollable ones (skin colour, passport, height, size, etc)!

But as I sat on the ferry on my way to work, I felt a sense of pride and excitement knowing that I was aboard the Viola Desmond. Placing her name on a boat doesn't erase the past, but it will be a daily reminder of Nova Scotia's darker history and the woman who took a stand against it.

-the Orange Canadian

*Before the contest was shortlisted to 5 choices, the Municipality received plenty of submissions for possible names, a few of which were pretty funny. These included the Fart Hopper, Yeah Buoy!, Donair and Katy Ferry. It's not Boaty McBoatface or Ferry McFerry, but what can you do...

Monday, 11 July 2016


The title of this post pretty much says it all.

For the last few months every time I have visited my grandmother, she has pulled out a package containing a brown paper bag and what looks like an ordinary cob of corn and insists that we make it. The problem is that she also makes obnoxiously filling meals, so generally by dessert/snack time, there is no room for anything more (I know, a difficult problem to be faced with!).

Anyway, this past weekend, I spent some quality time with my favourite grandmother, and like clock work, as we were preparing dinner she pulls out the aforementioned cob of corn. The difference, is that this time we actually made it... and it. was. pretty neat! I only wish I had taken a before shot.


Photo Credit: Barb Pierce who came to the rescue!
But, h Here's the aftermath:

How it works is pretty simple. Basically, you place the cob into the brown bag, fold the opening closed a few times, and then pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, or until the popping stops for more than a few seconds. Then voila - you get a full bowl of freshly popped popcorn! We seasoned ours with a little maple chive salt, which made for an epic Canadian twist on a classic snack.

Then I killed her at a game of dominoes.

-the Orange Canadian.