I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now (with apologies to Joni Mitchell) – October 18 – +3 and Freaking Cold

I have always been amazed by clouds, the way they shift and change with light and dark and rain and winds and snow. They are amazing creations, even when they are not really created by nature. They reflect the light in interesting patterns, they create shapes we once knew or now imagine, they provide life-giving rain, they give shade and sometimes, they can help us see more clearly, even when they might obscure the view.

This morning, there was a long streamer cloud coming from the Nackiwic end of the headpond. It was the perfect foil for the sunrise and the inspiration for many of my photos, but as some of you know, I seldom need more inspiration.

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Then I stepped outside. Hmmm, back into the house for a heavier coat, some gloves and a touque. Good thing I only brought one pair of summer shorts on this trip and also that they only got worn once (not today). I set up the GoPro for a morning time-lapse and then tried to stay out of its way as I moved back and forth, finding more and better angles for photos. Then, inspiration (and foolhardiness) hit. I would hike down to the water’s edge to see what I could find there. At -2, the rocks were quite slippery as I did my best to work my way down the rip-rap and around the shrubs without getting wet. I was rewarded with some startling shots and an equally slippery climb back up the slope.

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Safely back indoors, Patty and I ate our breakfast while Linda and Lloyd headed off to their meeting. I worked on photos and Pat read her newspapers until we thought we had better head outdoors for a bit of a walk. Guess what, it was still freaking cold and windy and there were still clouds, but we persevered. We only managed a short walk up the road, before Lloyd and Linda were back.

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Off to the North Fredericton Market, where we dined on butter chicken wraps and samosas, with samples of sticky buns, fudge and other delectable fare. Us guys wandered into a decidedly manly shopping area. The ladies followed, but soon got bored and left for other parts. They came back 20 minutes later, surprised we were still there and still entertained. Then a lightbulb went on and they saw the man’s side of the women’s window shopping scenario.

Finished with the market, we headed to Lloyd and Linda’s friends’ place for coffee and cake. A shot of homemade Schnapps warmed up our day a bit. Great food and great conversation with great people had us recalling past visits.

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Clouds moved over the house and some snow flurries fluttered past the window. Good thing we brought the warm clothes today. Back on the road. More clouds scudded by, but the strong afternoon sun broke through in places and again provided more photographic inspiration. Lloyd again obliged and we bounced down a narrow road and stopped at the pond created by a beaver dam to see what was happening there.

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Back home, preparations were made for a simple supper, but my eyes could not stop watching the clouds. GoPro time once more. It was still freaking cold!DSC02026

As we dined, we giggled and laughed and roared. Nope, no wine was involved. What was the source of our amusement? Why, home videos from our past get-togethers, of course. We were alternately amazed by how cute we were way back then, how bad our fashion sense was or the hijinks we used to carry on with when we got together (OK, so not much has changed there). Then we looked at photos of loved ones, some still with us, others departed. After that, it was our kids turn. They amazed us at every turn, with their talent, their laughter, their love and their wonder? How could we have forgotten all this magic? How did we do it all back then, marriage, jobs, kids, travel? Like the sky, our memory had become cloudy, but like the wind outside, the home movies on the screen swept the clouds aside and made us see far more clearly. The smiles continued on into the night.

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C’mon, Baby Light my Fire – October 17 – +6 Sun, Cloud, Rain, Dark

After our exploits yesterday, we were looking for something a little more low-key. A sleepless, night from 3:42 until about 6:15, when I finally fell asleep and dreamt of driving down roads which were crumbling before me. Hmmmm, nothing subliminal there.

Awaking at 7:15 to the smell of coffee and the dawn of a new day, all was good. The sun crept up over the hills across the headpond, as we sat marvelling and sipping coffee. Life was good.

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We had planned to go to the market today, but with the weather calling for rain and possible flurries, Linda changed the plan to a stay at home day. Everyone was happy. Linda whipped up a special breakfast while we planned the day’s events and we all enjoyed a leisurely feast.

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Dishes put aside, Lloyd and I headed outside to do a fall cleanup and have a FIRE!!!!

Jeans and coats put on, gloves provided, rakes, loppers and dead GASOLINE. OK, now you have my interest, fire will be involved. Given the large lot and the huge brush growth, cleanup is required, pine needles, bushes, leaves, cardboard boxes and everything burnable was placed on the pile. Lloyd poured the dead gas on the pile and we stepped back as the pyre sprang to life. We then proceeded to become a 2 man hedge trimmer, cutting and carrying more fodder for the fire. Just as we were close to completion, the showers started and we headed indoors, each with our own pursuit.

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There was the coffee break apple crisp by Linda, piano stylings by Lloyd, cleanup and Skype prep by Pat and photos and video arranging by Allan for tonight’s viewing. The ladies headed upstairs to Skype with sister #3, who they wished was here, while Allan and Lloyd sipped, nibbled and created. life was good.

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We all came back together for another game of Tock. The gents team enjoyed victory for the 2nd time and Pat suggested we go for best 2 out of 3,,,,,HUH???

Fabulous ham supper and more songs by Lloyd, then a summary of our travels and off to be early to try to catch some zzzzs.

Farewell to Nova Scotia (Every Silver Lining has a Cloud) – October 16 – +10 and sunny in Port Hawkesbury at 10 AM to +6 and dark in Fredericton at 7:20 PM

I have often said “You Can’t write Life”, but obviously you can, because here I am. Let me set the scene……..

7 AM – out of bed

8:30 – over to Marc and Etta’s for breakfast and 1st goodbyes….tears

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10:00 – back to Marc and Etta’s for 2nd goodbyes….more tears…this is it….

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10:10 – Arrive at lighthouse on Cape side of causeway

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10:20 – Drive over causeway to Celtic Sisters for shopping

10:35 – Back across causeway to shop at that gift shop

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10:50 – in traffic tie up at swing bridge

11:00 – finally on the road

1:15 PM – Meet brother Bill and Marilyn at Masstown Market for coffee

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2:00 – Say farewell to Bill and Marilyn….more tears. At their suggestion, decide to take the scenic Wentworth Valley road instead of the Cobequid Pass….we set off.

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2:57 – abrupt stop….disaster strikes….flap, flap, flap, flat tire…..arghhhhh….more tears, peerhaps a few swear words….

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3:57 – after futzing around trying to get direction on how to remove security lug nuts, find out they, like the emission reports for Diesel VWs are fake. Help Desk did not. Nice NS seniors did stop. Avis Fredericton did rock. Allan did not balk. Recalculating….

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5:00 – arrive at Moncton AirportDSC01752

5:05 – talk to Avis and then drive back to nearest gas station to fill car….more tears

5:10 – back to Avis

5:15 – drive away in new rental vehicle….we are outta there….Recalculating

6:00 – the actual reason for our forced delay suddenly became clear. Had we not had the delay, we would have missed these fantastic photos taken by my beloved between Moncton and Fredericton as the sun blinded us through the clouds and rain….more tears

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7:15 – arrive at Orimocto Esso and fuel up

7:25 – arrive at Fredericton Airport….Linda and Lloyd are waiting for us with a Greek Salad and pitas for the ride home….more tears….of joy….and possible from the cold wind blowing through my open coat, which apparently I put on inside out and backwards, thanks to the hurricane like winds blowing

8:15 – arrive at Bear island retreat for an antipasti feast, wine and Ice cider.

10:15 – to our room to type this blog….more tears

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10:45 – my eyes close….no more tears

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Obviously, every silver lining has a cloud………………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Colleen’s Magical Electricolour Mystery Tour – October 15 – +11 C, Partly Cloudy

Just before our trip, Colleen asked us what we wanted to see when we visited Cape Breton while she was here. We replied that we wanted to see all the places that were so special to her, both growing up and now. Little did we know that we had made a big ask, as there were a lot of special places On Isle Madame, Petit Arachat, in Port Hood, etc. You see, as great friends and neighbours, Colleen and Rene have long encouraged us to come for a visit while they were at home. For 24 years, we resisted, not because we did not want to come, but because we always had other obligations or schedule conflicts that got in the way. This year, the stars aligned and we managed to find 2 days when we could all be here together.

Today was the only full day we would have on Cape Breton and Colleen had a full schedule planned for us so we could fit it all in. A wonderful breakfast was enjoyed in her parents’ home and we soon hit the road to Isle Madame. The electricolours started just as we turned off toward Isle Madame and Colleen made many stops for photo ops.

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We browsed through all the familiar places we had heard about for so many years, Boudreauville, Boudreau Lane, Boudreauville Road, Petit Arachat, Petit de Gras, Cap Auguet, Cap Rouge, Pondville, D’escousse and Port Hood. Everywhere we went, she pointed out people she knew walking along the street, in the shops and driving by. We stopped and were introduced to Aunt Alice and Janice and Jerry from Lloydminster were there to greet us. We also bumped into them later along our route and they gave us a tour of their property. We saw where Colleen and Rene grew up, where all the aunts and uncles and Grampas (PePes) and Grammas (MeMes) used to live, where Colleen and Rene used to play, picnic, go to school and where they were married. The mystery was finally solved. We were honoured to be on this tour and we could now understand why Colleen was so comfortable and relaxed here and why she keeps travelling back. This place is family, even if you are not related by bloodlines. The area and its people made us feel so at home. It has to be tough for those who are born and raised here to be living so far away from this home and this family. Below, you will see a summary of the day’s sights.

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Back to Marc and Etta’s where we were served a fine meal of Haddock and scallops. Garnet and Darlene and Aunt Grace also joined. The plates were barely cold before Colleen was rushing us out the door and down the road to see the gorgeous sunsets she was always talking about (see feature photo). We now have to agree with here, there is not another place with finer sunsets. Off to Port Hood to look at another of her favourite places and then to Craignish for a Scottish fiddle session, many fiddles and one set of bagpipes. After a hasty, tasty oatcake and a bit of a chat with some of the musicians we had met the night before, we were off once more for the night causeway tour. Then home for a nightcap and some conversation with our new family and off to be Colleen thought of everything. It was a truly magical day. We love you all and will be sad to leave.

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If you are reading this blog and enjoying or not enjoying, I would be pleased to receive your comments, good, bad or indifferent. I enjoy compiling this modern day diary and hope that you are enjoying the read.

a Warm Cape Breton Welcome – Truro to Port Hawkesbury – October 14 – +21 and Sunny

As our thankyou, we invited Bill and Marilyn to our hotel for breakfast this AM and then we headed out to see Jason and Maureen’s place. They had their Double doodle at the vet, so we headed to their place for the outdoor tour while we waited. A nice house and property on the bank of the Salmon River. We played a bit of Washer Toss while we waited. Allan came close at times, but Bill was the first one to 21. Meanwhile Marilyn took photos as if she was a twin of Allan.

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Tearful goodbyes said, we were on our way. A brief stop in New Glasgow, where we found the stores open, so we would not arrive empty-handed. A short picnic lunch along the water and we were off. A quick decision to run toward the coast brought us some scenery, but also a detour. The fall colours were intermittent here as the closer we got to the coast, the fewer leaves we saw. Must have been the big wind the other night.

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Back on the main road after Antigonish, we soon found ourselves within sight of the Canso Causeway and cruised across to Port Hawkesbury. The air was warm and temperatures felt like +24. No more shivering on this day.

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We checked into our hotel and let Colleen know we were here. Her parents live not far from the hotel, so she walked over to collect us. Hugs hello and it was off to see Etta and Marc, who had extended many invitations to us over the years. Warmly welcomed to a house filled with relatives and visitors, a Celtic Colours supper of fish cakes baked beans and more food than we could possibly mention here. Laughter and chatter rang around the table as we squeezed yet one more visitor in. This was certainly the Cape Breton welcome we had always heard of.

Supper over, preparations were quickly made for the Kitchen party about to occur. Table cleared and moved, chairs arranged, keyboard placed and all was ready. Colleen took us on a short walk to show us the area and we returned to a house full of music and life. Fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins and keyboards played in harmony or took their turn all night and impromptu bouts of tambourine, spoons and other percussion broke out. Their was even a bit of step dancing. The talent in the room was amazing. Our host, Marc, had actually built 3 of the instruments (banjo, guitar and fiddle) being played. I felt somewhat inadequate, as I often could not even remember the words to the tunes. I must redouble my efforts to master the mandolin. The evening was topped off when Collen brought out a cake and a musical request for Happy Birthday for my beloved Patty. Didn’t see that coming. Wrapping up around 11, we headed back to get some sleep, before it was time to do it all over agin. Now we get why the invitation was always made. What we do not get is what took us so long to get here. Thanks so much to the Boudreau family and all involved.

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Watercolours – Truro – October 13 – +19 cloudy with afternoon and evening rain

We walked the short distance to Bill and Marilyn’s this AM and enjoyed the bit of exercise as well as the fall colours and heritage homes. Bacon, eggs, toast and coffee would hold us until supper.

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We were then off to see James at his house and then for a visit to see Marilyn’s mother who even at age 90, recalls my visit in 1973, when I had hair. Now, that is an incredibly long memory. It had started to rain by this time and rain was at times heavy. After our visit, Marilyn stayed home to ready supper and Bill took us on a tour of Truro, looking for fall colours and statues carved from the trunks of the elm trees that succumbed to Dutch Elm disease. The misty hills reminded me of many watercolour prints I had seen and indeed, they were real ‘water’ colours.

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We even detoured to the local Kia dealer to see Liam and Amanda’s new purchase. The dealer thought he had a live one and came rushing out to close the sale, but alas, we were merely snooping.

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We enjoyed lasagna for supper and headed out in the dwindling twilight, down the dark rainy highway to Lower Sackville, an hour away to see nephew John who was just getting off shift at 7:30. It was great to see him, given his busy work schedule. Home to bed and hopes of a sunnier day tomorrow.

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New Brunswick – The Gateway to Nova Scotia – October 12 – +21, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

NOT!!! When Lloyd first quipped this phrase, we were somewhat taken aback. New Brunswickers are very modest when it comes their own province and given our experiences with the province, the colours, the natural beauty and the things to do, they have no such need to be. Pat actually texted our neighbour who is visiting in Cape  Breton today as we drove across the border into Nova Scotia and said the colours were better in NB. I guess this all is similar to the rivalries between Toronto and Hamilton, Edmonton and Calgary, etc. What we are saying based upon our observances and the photos below is, New Brunswickers have a lot to be proud of.

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We were up way too early this AM, due to my inability to sleep, so no issues getting packed, breakfasted and under way on time. Lloyd drove us to the airport on his way to work andwas kind enough along the way to point out the scenic spots and ensured that I got my fill of photos. We arrived not long after 9 AM to pick up our rental car, a black VW Jetta, hmmmmmmmmm, no stigma there, given the latest press releases. Goodbyes said, cases loaded and final adjustments made and we were off along the same road we had travelled to St. John on Saturday. The colours seemed even brighter this day and we did our best not to stop too often. In Moncton, we thought we would stop in for a coffee and a bite and a bit of shopping so that we would not arrive empty-handed. The coffee and a bite part was easy, but we failed miserably on the latter task, as all stores of any kind in NB and NS were shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Somewhat disheartened and still empty-handed, we headed back out on the road for the last half of the drive in NS. The leaves were in fact less colourful in NS, but still nice. Arriving in Truro, we checked into our Holiday Inn room, dropped our bags and headed over to Bill and Marilyn’s, just a short distance away. Preparations were well under way for a big feast and soon James and Jason and families arrived. Supper and conversation followed, with Pat and I staying behind to help with the cleanup. More visiting tomorrow in the area, but the weather may be wetter. Time for a tryptophan induced coma…………..

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