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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bobbie & Classic

7 or 8 weeks old

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Tidal Bore is Not What You May Think

CONTRARY TO A RUMOR I'VE TRIED TO CIRCULATE, "Nova Scotia's Famous Tidal Bore" is not the old fellow who stands up at the end of a long meeting, when everyone's ready to go home, and starts to reminisce about the good old days. A tidal bore is a natural phenomenon, in which the flow of a river is reversed by an onrushing tide. Tidal bores are fairly rare, because they require high tides, a broad bay, and a narrow river.

Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, and as you can see from the doctored image above (courtesy NASA via the Wikipedia), it has the other requirements as well. The arrival of the tide on the Shubenacadie River is such a big event that a new interpretive center has been built at the site of a former bridge, where tourists and others can stand on an outlook point and watch the tide come in. Several local businesses take thrill-seekers out to the bay in inflatable boats so that they can ride the tide. Quite a few of my Nova Scotian friends have taken this ride several times and insist that they enjoy it.

A few years ago I took a visiting friend from Chicago out on one of these river rides, deliberately choosing a day when we were expected to have exceptionally high tides. Until that day I'd considered myself an aficionado of the roller coaster, a fasten-your-seatbelts kind of girl, a lover of the bumpy ride. But the bore got the better of me. After having been slammed and bounced and drenched for what felt like hours, I felt like I'd spent the day inside the wrong part of a laundromat. I shoudn't speak for my friend, but let me just take this opportunity to say, I'm really, really sorry, Mary!

A few days ago, we joined our friends Bob and Kathy for a much tamer view of the tidal bore, from the outlook at the new interpretive center. I don't know whether the tides were lower that day or whether they just look lower when you're looking down on them from a height. Now I'm thinking maybe I should try it again ...

Then again, no.

At any rate, here's an album of photos from a gorgeous fall afternoon on the Bay of Fundy.

Tidal bore

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Too Hot, Otherwise Perfect

Above: The ceremony was held in the living room of the house my parents purchased in Nova Scotia in the 1970s. We are surrounded by mementos of family and local history and of our own lives. Our dear friend and neighbor Sharon was one of our witnesses. Her husband George, who took this photo, was the other.

HERE'S THE SOUNDBITE: We were rewed on the hottest day of the year; otherwise, we cannot imagine a better wedding.

Above: Only about 7 am and the sky was hazy with heat! Still, as you can see from this photo, we have very little to complain about on the whole.

I mention the heat first (and often) because it was the uninvited guest for the entire celebration--and the reason for several photographs in which the bride looks as though she should be traveling in an ambulance, rather than the more conventional limo. (Come to think of it, the stretch ambulance might be the next big thing, as more boomers do crazy things like getting rewed.) Temperature was in the mid- to high 80s, with high humidity. Not bad by the standards of some of the places we've lived, but unusual for Nova Scotia.

Except for the heat, the wedding was everything we wanted it to be: simple, low key, and a celebration our new life here together. The success of the day is entirely due to friends we've made here. Thanks to them, the wedding day seemed to "just happen," with almost no effort from Tim and me. We were simply buoyed along by their thoughtfulness and affection.

The ceremony was to be held in the living room, which I decorated with an armload of flowers collected nearby, mostly from where they've been growing wild. (For those who are interested in old gardens run wild, I've written more about the flowers at my gardening blog.) There would have been very little variety in this mix, however, except that our neighbor Sharon dropped by early in the day with flowers from her own garden and balloons to decorate the mailbox and front door.

Left: Sharon with the balloons she brought that morning. Sharon also brought flowers from her own garden.

Other than that, our day proceded pretty much as usual until about 3. Then we changed clothes. I chose an all-enveloping outfit that is one of the few "nice" getups I own. (And that's courtesy Value Village.) Shortly therafter, I broke out in a sweat and started to feel light headed. I should have ditched the tent for one of the t-shirts that are my usual attire. This might have resulted in my getting married wearing a t-shirt commemorating a British comedy called "Red Dwarf," and that would have required us to begin our vows with the words "Hey, smeghead." But it would have been worth it. Unfortunately, by then I was too light-headed to figure any of this out.

Around 4, the justice of the peace arrived, and Sharon returned with George. Sharon and George have been family friends for more than two decades. They were present at Tim's and my first wedding and at both of my parents' funerals. Having them witness our second wedding was essential!

Left: George signs the papers that prove it really happened, while Sharon and Tim look on. The vase on the table belonged to my grandmother. The painting behind Tim is "St. George and the Dragon" by Paul Jenkins, which my parents bought when I was 11. In the background is a print Tim brought back from Japan during our first marriage.

Following a simple, short, but very touching ceremony, we signed a bunch of papers and concluded with a toast.

Above: Tim, Sharon, George, and the justice of the peace share a toast, which I will join as soon as I finish taking the photograph. Many thanks to the new neighbor who dropped off a bottle of champagne earlier in the week!

Then it was off to Kennedy's Restaurant, about a mile away, a neighborhood place that also serves as a corner grocery store and farm stand. Tim and I eat there fairly often, as does just about everyone else in the community.

Left: Friends arrive at Kennedy's Restaurant. Top: Dianne and her mother Shirley, who took me in for Christmas Eve supper on my first Christmas living here. George, seated, waits for the rest of us to settle down. Bottom: Bob and Kathy arrive, suitably equipped. Bob loves that fan, which was given to him by his daughter.

Below: Tim, Bob, and Kathy have what it takes to beat the heat.

Above: Tim and Kathy (that's her arm on the right) attempt to resuscitate the blushing (and fainting) bride. Bob very kindly lent the use of his fan.

Tim and I were very touched when the restaurant refused to let us pay for our meal. If we hadn't been "regulars" already, we would be now.

The group then went to Dianne's house, where Tim and I were delighted to find our long-time friend Ruth waiting for us in her car. Everyone went inside for a truly scrumptious pound cake, made by Dianne, and sparkling wine thoughtfully provided by Kathy and Bob.

Below: Dianne made us a two-tiered pound cake with butter cream frosting, decorated with those silver balls I still remember from my childhood and have always loved. The cake topper is a pair of frolicking dolphins. Below that: Dianne poses with the cake she baked for us. Dianne's baking is highly regarded in the community, and we all scheme to get slices of the cakes she provides for celebrations and fundraising events.

Above: Once the cake was served, there was time for some picture-taking, followed of course by the all-important joint cutting of the wedding cake. We did not attempt to feed one another, nor did anyone (thank you, all!) ask us to.

Then we all sat around eating, drinking, and laughing uproariously, despite the heat. Almost all of my photographs from this part of the afternoon are very blurry. (I wonder why.) Fortunately, I was able to get a decent photo of our friend Ruth, who joined us at Dianne's.

Above: Tim and I were so happy when Ruth surprised us by turning up at Dianne's. Like George and Sharon, she was present for our first wedding and other important events in my family's life. Shirley is seated behind Ruth.

We received some very thoughtful gifts, there was quite a bit of hugging, and then we all went home. Tim and I then shared a typical evening for the Johnson/Skelly household: We tried to watch a movie, during which I fell asleep.

Haven't had enough? Click on the image below to go to an album containing even more photos of our happy day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer's Here

We had so much rain this spring that the farmers had trouble getting in the hay. Finally they managed to get enough dry days to cut it and let it sit in these Zen garden patterns for a day before it was collected and baled.

WARM WEATHER FINALLY ARRIVED, but much later than usual, around the middle of July. And even now it's cooler and less humid than previous summers have been. The rain and cool weather caused great fear for the strawberry crop. But, as you can see from the photo below, the strawberries did arrive as they always do, in time for "strawberry suppers" held in church basements all over Nova Scotia. So that you can have a taste of all this joy, I've posted information on how to make Nova Scotia-style old-fashioned strawberry shortcake at the food blog.

Nova Scotia strawberries in season. I rinse them, slice them, and mix them with a quarter cup of sugar per pint. Those that don't get eaten go into the freezer.

Beyond eating strawberries, Tim and I have become less active as the weather has grown warmer. It's a symptom of how lethargic I've become that there are so few pictures with this month's post. (What, no photos of the ducks and dogs? I'm sure you're all heart broken!)

I'm proud of having used my new-found skills as a blogger to help out two worthy organizations, both of which were in need of websites. The Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association is the oldest woodlot-owner organization in the province, dedicated to sustainable and ecologically sensitive management of our forests. Green Gatherings is a newly created local grassroots organization that wants to inform rural Maritimers about global warming.

Other than that, I kept working on the garden as long as the weather cooperated, and Tim created a very nice drainage ditch for us to take rainwater away from the house. I'm proud to say that Tim seems to have gotten healthier with every month that he's lived here since arriving from Los Angeles two years ago. It's remarkable what physical activity, good food, and low stress can do.

Now that the weather has turned warm, the tomato plants are finally starting to become worthy of their tomato cages. For more on the garden, see the gardening blog.

That long stretch of rock is the top of a very nice drainage ditch, dug and filled by Tim. The weeds are all mine.

But of course, the big news from the farm, already known to most people we know, is that Tim and I are getting remarried--or, as I've been saying, de-divorced--at the end of the month. It will be a simple ceremony with a justice of the peace and two witnesses, our dear neighbors and long-time friends George and Sharon O'Leary, in our own living room. The decorations will be whatever flowers are blooming, even if they're weeds. The bride will wear whatever's clean. The bridal party will be confined.* We'll repair to the local restaurant and farm market for a meal, where we'll be joined by another dear friend and neighbor who has invited us back to her house for cake. We will drink something cheap, celebratory, and fizzy.

If you would like to join us in spirit, please do. On July 28, lift a glass and have a piece of cake and know that we always have our friends with us in our hearts.

* As is appropriate for a bridal party consisting of two dogs, four ducks, and a 20-year-old cat.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Just Ducky

Wild Flora Farm Mid May to Mid June 2007

ONCE SPRING SPRUNG, I was spending much of my time in the garden and the rest of my time trying to recover from too much unaccustomed physical activity. So it's only now, when the days have turned a bit too warm for me to want to be outside for hours and the heat has brought out the biting insects that are my nemesis, that I put fingers to keyboard and report the news from Wild Flora's Farm.

Our lead for this installment is the arrival of the ducks. For details on the breed and how and why I got them, see the post "Old Frontiers in Pest Control" from my Wild Gardening blog. For sheer cuteness, see the photo above, which shows the ducklings on their first morning with me, May 22, when they were just three weeks old. (Click on the photo to go to a web album with more photos of farm life over the past 6 weeks.)

But they grow up fast, don't they? The photo below shows the same ducks less than a month later. In the intervening weeks, they have proven to be just as comical as I thought they were going to be, but a whole lot more work. They eat anything they can lay their beaks on, including any prize plants I'm stupid enough to let them get at. (And even though they can't fly yet--I dread that day--it turns out that those necks can stretch for miles.) They then convert everything they eat into large, wet messes that are produced (with a self-satisfied splooting sound) on an average of every 10 minutes. I spend a truly amazing amount of time feeding them and then cleaning up the results.

But here's the good news: 1. This is a great way to appreciate (by which I mean hate) the great circle of life. 2. Duck poop is good fertilizer: My perennials are starting to look like shrubs. 3. At last I have a theme for the comic novel every writer is obliged to produce after moving to the country. Working title: SNADU. That is, Situation Normal, All Ducked Up.

A footnote: I finally gave in to the requests of one dear friend who wanted me to post a photo of myself to this blog, and you'll find it below. It's the photo that accompanied my application for Canadian citizenship--news that would be more exciting than the ducks except that it takes about a year for the application to be processed. I am happy about this development, however, and looking forward to being a full-fledged Canuck.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This is What I Look Like When You're Drunk

ONLY KIDDING. Actually, this is what I look like when I'm drunk. OK, still kidding. This is the photo Tim took to go with my application for Canadian citizenship. They require two identical photos; hence the duplication. This is the other big news for April, by the way: I did submit my application to become a citizen of this wonderful country. No wonder I'm smiling. It will be about a year before I find out whether they're willing to have me.
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