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Nova Scotia Rocks

….with sandy shores and loads of lobster.

Email is such a wonderful way to get things done. I bought a car from 1200 miles distant.

Another ford focus. Love these little cars for gas mileage, comfort and camping.

Another ford focus. Love these little cars for gas mileage, comfort and camping.

My new (to me) 2004 Ford Focus station wagon puts the thought to rest that you can do most everything on the internet.

After much to and fro by email and a thorough inspection by my compatriot on the scene, David from near Mahone Bay, we and the owner struck a deal through Kijiji to keep this little bundle of motion with 250,000 Kms on the road for a bit yet. It is blue, grey or green just like the last one and has plenty of room for my camping gear and kayak. Nova Scotia Adventures ahead.

BillStorageStuff01

Each year the pile is less than the year before and if I don’t wear the stuff out, moving it all the time, it may just disappear after a few more moves. My new wagon moved everything back to a permanent storage unit in the valley where it will stay until spring when, if all works out as planned, I will be finally moving to Halifax to some comfy spot in a seniors complex.

A recent visit to the doctors indicated I will be dependent on needles for the rest of my days, which have been keeping my prostate cancer in check for the past 10 years, and although this was expected it has warned me to check some my wandering ways and at least put my drawings and photos back up on a wall and finally organize a kitchen. It is hoped that I will still be traveling south in the winter in future for at least for a few of the colder months but I am prepared for whatever direction my health takes me and so grateful for past 15 years plus, I still have so much to look forward to.

The past several months has seen me resettle here in Nova Scotia applying for licences, health cards and the seniors pharmacare program all with the help and generosity of meals and accomodation of my friends Ron and Gail Rogerson in the valley, Robyn Stadnyk and David Etter in Mahone Bay and Eva Rogerson and Dave Hoskins in Halifax. Others, and you know who you are, have also been generous with their time and resources. They have all taken me in and made me feel welcome in my transition time. For various reasons I have had to stay in different parts of the province and because I have chosen to leave for Costa Rica again this year for up to 6 months, beginning in November, I have put apartment hunting on the shelf till my return in the spring when I shall have more doctors suggestions and be more inclined to set up house.

Mellow Yellow on the way to Canso

Mellow Yellow on the way to Canso

Robyn and David left for the Stan Rogers festival just in time for tropical storm Arthur to arrive, putting me and the Buddies in the dark for 4 days while leaving me guardian of their amazing unique home and gardens in Middle Cornwall, just outside of Mahone Bay Nova Scotia. Rains and high winds had the generator running to keep the freezers cold and the water running, me earning my keep for a change. Thanks guys for your generous contribution to my summer, I loved it.

Animal Sitting

The Buddies missing their buddies.

The Buddies missing their buddies.

What are the chances of getting both and a cat from the shelter and them both named “Buddy”. These guys gave me a run for the money as they escaped several times form my distracted custody only to be returned by some great neighbours and with just a few ticks which of course would just have to develop into scabs and infections. Ah yes, my charges seem to have got the best of me, maybe I will get a chance to redeem myself in the fall after I return from the valley.

Coastal wanderings

As August arrived I journeyed to the coast for some days of camping starting the town of Annapolis.

Annapolis Farm Market - on the waterfront in the oldest European community in Canada

Annapolis Market

AnnapolisBoatDrydock

Lobster Trawler

Tourists and local residents make the buzz in this great market.

The buzz.

My journey began at the Annapolis Farm market on the waterfront and in the oldest European community in Canada. Huge Belgian Waffles and German Pancakes as well as local farm products and artisans with pottery and weavings were among the large number of vendors in the square. I had visited this market several years back and it has grown, along with many other farm markets in Nova Scotia, with many more  participants proud and successful at selling their wares.

Annapolis Bakers have established  an excellent reputation for European breads.

Annapolis Bakers have established an excellent reputation for European breads and sweets.

There a number of bakers throughout the valley who have brought their talents to the shores, both south and west, of Nova Scotia and this market is the best place to sample truly delicious stuff.

Moving around the Acadian Shore

Flirting with  owning a house, again.

Flirting with owning a house, again.

With the sun shining and the beaches stretched out along the southern shores of the province it is hard to imagine the dark foggy winter months that keep the population indoors for 6 months and to not think that a perfectly good house, listed at $55,000 wouldn’t be a great buy, studio? B&B? rental?, out of my mind?

Yes, it sounds great and I did entertain the thought for several hours but the reality of it all sunk in and in my state, with few resources, that would be a ridiculous option. I think my ongoing imposition in other peoples lives is in part responsible for getting another place to live but this option slid from my radar and motored on up the south Shore near Tusket where I stopped to eat a Sobeys’ salad and watch the deer in the salt flats. That’s what I want to do, wander around looking for food and a place to sleep.

The many inlets of the Tusket peninsula.

In the many inlets of the Tusket peninsula there is abundant wildlife, few tourists and some very exclusive properties. With remote land ownership still rolling around in the back of my head I imagined the lush landscape with some old classic motorhome poised with a fabulous view and me cooking dinner on an old log with my new wood burning stove, which also happens to charge my cellphone, if I had one.

My new Bio Stove being fired up with a napkin and a pine cone.

My new Bio Stove being fired up with a napkin and a pine cone.

Here you can see it in the ember stage sending smoke plumes into the campground. It does more than it professes and will grill a steak with an added bit. Combine a roasting over the open fire with boiled noodles or potatoes and you have a kings banquet as you can see here later in the trip in Cape Breton. An infusion of Guinness brought much glee to the occasion.

Under the influence of a cape Breton breeze and a pack of Guinness.

Under the influence of a cape Breton breeze and a pack of Guinness.

Weaving up the Atlantic Coast to Halifax

MahoneBayCupola

The South Shore is a myriad of inlets and bays with an exhausting array of sights. Small towns, beaches and historic properties dot the trail to peggys’ cove and they encourage you to stop and linger in the martime hospitality and a taste a variety of food from the sea.

HarbourvilleBoat

HarbourvilleGulls

EvaDaveBike

My good friends Dave and Eva in Halifax took me on the Tantallon trail letting me join in on the ride with a spare bike from their garage. Beautiful afternoon and the first time I had put 30 Kliks on a bike for some time. The Scones at the Bean and Bike were altogether worth it.

Arriving in Halifax in time for the Jazz Festival which on this featured Big Bands all day from noon till midnight. Here, my favourite small big Band “Gypsophilia” took bows for an upbeat swinging performance.

Swingology

I have watched this group for 10 years now and they have polished themselves into a bright, tight group that I eagerly applaud.  Many performers, without professional guidance, too often come on stage believing the audience has come there to listen to them stumble through sentences to provide background on the success they think they have achieved. Wrong. Get to the music and cut the chatter, everybody can talk but not everyone can perform.

These performers have now earned their reputation and are always ready to give all to the show. Thanks to all the other bands as well for a great no charge afternoon and evening.

A quick trip to the valley

SnowBirdPlanes

MordenShore

Where the SnowBirds put on a spectacular but deafening display at 30 year celebration of the 14th wing air base in Greenwood. In formation and low to the ground they were much more spectacular than I had seen before, sometimes so close you could see in the cockpit, if your head moved that fast.

I left for the solitude of the Morden Shore where the monument “French Cross” commemorates the escape of a group of Acadians running from The British troops who had expropriated them without cause from their homes along the southern shore of Nova Scotia. Local interests have made this excellent place to spend the afternoon on your way up or down the Fundy shore.

On to the Zoo

No self respecting traveller could visit the Annapolis Valley without a day at the Zoo.

My other home for part of the summer was here in the farmhouse headquarters of OakLawn Farm Zoo run by my friends of nearly 50 years, Ron and Gail Rogerson.

GailFerrets

RonSideDoor

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Turning the wide corner into spring

Weaving Palm Fronds

Weaving Palm Fronds of the Coconut Palm – This was the largest of my attempts to make big fish and other sea monsters out of the sturdy but pliable leaves of the coconut palm. They go brown after a bit and lose some of their brilliance but blend into wonderful shade or privacy blinds.

After a particularly harsh winter my family here in Byron of London, South Western Ontario, Canada, are eagerly awaiting some indication of the arrival of warmer weather. Heavy spring coats and sweaters are still the dress of the day with temperatures here reluctantly creeping up to 10C.

The girls, Alyssa and Haley are out on their bikes every day after school and soccer practice and I have my little fold up 2 wheeler lubed and ready for some action. I expect to make some trips farther afield this year to some of the conservation areas and provincial parks close to London and even take my camping gear on a small trailer behind my bike. Rates to camp overnight are in the $35 a night range requiring some planning and saving.

The purchase of a bus pass for the summer will allow me to travel throughout the city of London and when the knees begin to buckle on the bike paths I will always have the bike racks on the front of the bus and a big bench seat near the driver to literally fall back on and take me to my door. Being a senior entitles me to front row seating, except for babies in strollers and old people in scooters.

Southwestern Ontario is the home to the northern limits of the Carolinian forest from a line drawn from Toronto to Grand Bend and then extending south to the Carolinas in the United states. In this ecologically rich area are one third of Canadas’ rare and endangered species. The long hot summers and normally short mild winters combined with a varied topography and diverse geology create an ecosystem unique in Canada.
Many different species of birds and flowers are found here that are unable to survive in the colder northern weather, although this year would go a long way to test the endurance of these delicate species. It certainly has the people of the region. I will clean up my new camera and monocular to get even more images for the cloud, where ever that might be.

It has been good fun reconnecting with my grandaughters, Haley, 10, a major soccer enthusiast and Alyssa, 8, still exploring all her potentials. I heard Alyssa singing the other morning and she gave me goosebumps. Music might just be her way of expressing herself but when approached about getting some lessons she replied “why, I am already a good singer”.
Maybe a new electronic keyboard and some Karaoke software will help her decide her directions to the world of music and performance. All kids need is something that gives them confidence and makes them feel good both to themselves in the eyes of their friends and family. I think grandpa could bring in the piano stool and provide some guitar backup when she finally switches the light on. Alyssa is not a force to bargain with, she will get to where she is going at her speed and not a moment sooner.
All is well on the parent front as Amy is excelling at her insurance job and Brad is very busy with his construction business spending much of their free time in soccer mode and then with their friends around a pool and barbecue. The conventional North American lifestyle is working well for them after a few bumps in the road. Their futures and those of the kids look bright, the economy and environmental challenges not withstanding.

I am only one month away from the warm temperatures and relaxed lifestyle of Selvins’ and Puerto Viejo on the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and I miss all that made life so easy for me from November of last year to April 10 2014. I look forward to seeing all the people I have met and become friends with over the past 6 years when I again return in October/November later this year.
It is hoped to have my little fold up bike with me when I return this November and that will be helpful in my trips to visit friends and help me get to town for groceries. It may become too easy to transport beer which in turn will make it more difficult to ride my bike. Oh what a tangled bike path we weave.

It is hoped that I will return to Nova Scotia sometime in the next several months to once again decide the fate of my “stuff” in storage. The longer I am away from it the less I remember about it and the less the need to have it with me. My art and photos are very important to me and I know and remember all the prints I have but their size and weight has forced me to store them until I have a truck to move them, probably back to Ontario. Things can be such a nuisance once they have outlived their usefulness, much like people, as I am told.

I am off to put some bike kilometers between visits to the cheery caribbean coast.

Stay tuned for new and unplanned developments.

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Birds I have known

Birds I have known

Not having a claim to an extensive ‘Life List’ as many of the official ‘birders’ I meet in my travels will proudly show you, I have had a number of special encounters with the Avian population to know what I have grown to know as the ‘Birds I have met’, and a special lot they are.

In central America my interest in the exotic species has been aroused and I have images of many brightly coloured birds who have found their way into a rescue shelters but the treasured Parrots and Toucans that speed by overhead are totally disinterestd in my binoculars.
Deep down a heart felt affinity has been to those feathered friends who have made a difference in my life or added some joy to it.

Barred Rock Chickens

Non can compare with the versatility and proud barnyard stature of the ‘Barred Rock’. They are prolific layers, even in cold weather, and the large meaty carcass dresses out to a mighty fine thanksgiving substitute for the much overeaten Turkey. The White Rock chicken also has many of the qualities of the cousins pictured here but these mild mannered counts and countesses of the chicken run will give the best beak for your buck.

Captive Eagle

Living on Lumsden pond these past dozen or so years has afforded me the opportunity to observe the nesting and hunting habits, up close from the kayak, of these magnificent birds underscoring their dominant presence at the top of the bird food chain. This lucky guy lives at Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford, Nova Scotia with only one wing.

A Cheeky Dee

Hard to find another seed eater who can be as cheeky as the Black Capped Chickadee dee dee and is as persistent with the others birds of a similar feather. The high energy requirements of this chunky little dynamo are rewarded by an all day pursuit of food, in the pines, spruce or ash trees or at the feeder.

Ice Walking Gull

Living in Halifax and around the bay of Fundy is hard to escape the mournful cry of the seagull and the aggressive behaviour around a scattered bucket of fish guts. This guy seems positively bewildered with a frozen surface, not the sea my good fellow.

Waddling on the Pond

Independent and aloof the domestic goose is both noisy and to be feared. An large African male can easily sneak up give you a nasty scrape on the bare ankle but this is a small price to pay for the security they provide the barnyard from nightly intruders. Chinese, African and another big chunky type I do not recall the name of are the most common honkers behind the fence.

Red Breasted Gross Beak

Arrives in north mid summer and seems indifferent to all going on and takes his time at the feeder with few cares of other birders or danger. He and the Baltimore Oriole I have seen in Costa Rica in winter as this guy is the principal pollinator of the coffee trees which are found on every hillside and corner in the mountainous valleys of most central american countries. His long flight returning to Nova Scotia and his relaxed attitude attest to the strength found in association with the life giving coffee bean.

Yellow Finch Female

These are the quintessential northern bird as they forage in harmony with all else, endure the harsh winters and have no outstanding physical characteristics. Perfect blenders.

Yellow / Rose Breasted Gross Beak

Brash and nervous these brightly coloured birds appear in large flocks and dominate in a feeding frenzy forcing all else to hang on the perimeter waiting for them to leave.

Here I shamelessly post a number of images from my sales site. Click through with no obligation to buy…. no really.

Photography Prints

Art Prints

Photography Prints

Sell Art Online

Photography Prints

Art Prints

Sell Art Online

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Hills of Cacao

The 3 A

The 3 Amigos

Selvin Brown, long time resident and farmer on the southern Carribean coast of Costa Rica, has with the help and architectural knowledge of his son Markus made a decision to develop part of his farmland into a sustainable community of 12 to 15 planned and serviced homesites. He has also included me to help with the planning and promotion.
The property is accessible via a road which is about 100 meters east of Selvins Restaurant and Cabinas on the main road from to Manzanillo about 8 kilometers south of Puerto Viejo. The property has views of the ocean and is only 200 meteres from Punta Uva beach. Lots to be done and much public interest.

http://hillsofcacao.wordpress.com
password is ‘sustainable’

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Re-entry

Trudging to market

Off to the market in the early morning shade. The heat from the alternate paved roadway warms my beer by the time I get back home.

Well, winding down a most wonderful time here in Punta Uva.

This must be one the hottest times of the year as everybody, including seasoned locals like Jennifer, Juliette and Selvin, are winjing just a bit about the midday heat and there is much manipulation of fans and work times. Truly, a siesta settles in around noon every day and breaks up after 4pm.

The 3 Amigos

The cabinas have been quiet but there is still much business with the restaurant and the changes Markus, Selvins’ son, has been making to the cabinas. He will be fun to work with as Selvin has given he and I the green light to develop the farm behind the cabinas into some kind of sustainable community. There are lots of drawings and plenty of ideas as to how this might work and will post the progress here as it happens.

Markus is an architect and I a dreamer so we could have some amazing projects to discuss in the next few months. The basic concept is to make available to up to 20 participants the option of leasing/buying a small section of the crest of the farm and in some controlled way supply and service the sites with sustainable power and water.

All is now in the site analysis and sketch stage but it looks like a go.

Thinking a little bit about re-entry into my Canadian space, snow pellets and all, and how it will be so good to see my girls again and to award the first one to surpass me in height with a big hug, well all 3 will get one anyway.

Soccer season will soon be under way and daily trips to field will be the norm for a game or a practice and maybe some swimming at the Y. Hope there are no waves as I have been having nightmares about my last snorkling expedition with an unusually large sunami type wall of water.

I am prepping for some medical tuneups and possession amalgamation before I come back to Costa Rica in the fall so I will now get back to my packing and my farewells and while leaving with a heavy heart also look forward to seeing my family again.

I am one lucky guy.

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The Googly bloom

Insects and parasites beware the googly bloom.

Insects and parasites beware the googly bloom.

This white fanged purple eyed monster spares not a creature.

All have been fearfully awaiting the emergence of the googly bloom and those bugs who normal chew on the flowering beauty of Punta Uva should be shaking in their shells as this white fanged purpled eyed monster chows down all that dares land near.