Saturday, August 26, 2017

Nova Scotia

We traveled to Nova Scotia the first week of August for a family reunion on Rob's side.

Most of the time we spent in Halifax, a short walk from the harbour.

Tall ships were in! We managed to visit these gorgeous boats four straight days, including the parade the day of their departure. What a view! The layout of the harbour meant we were only a few hundred metres from the ships under sail, as they dipped their flags and shot cannons. More than 25 vessels took part in the regatta. Favourites were the German Alexander Von Humboldt II (3 mast bark), Spanish El Galeon (galleon), American Eagle (cutter), and of course the Canadian Bluenose (schooner). One of the highlights was being on board the U.S. Coast Guard training vessel 'The Eagle' just as they were orienting young recruits: expectant, hopeful, scared, confident expressions in a sea of faces.

The Bank of Nova Scotia on Hollis was impressive, with massive gates, bronze embellishments and a soaring ceiling. We never did manage to get inside during banking hours, but it's still open for business.

The Maritime Museum was full of exhibits. A major portion of the space was given to the Halifax Explosion that occurred in 1917. I stood for a long while in front of a window with a small telegraph key. Vince Coleman died as he was using it to warn a coming train of the pending explosion, "Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys."[6]  Exhibits of wrecks at sea were fascinating.

The works of Maud Lewis were on display at the gallery, including the tiny house she lived in while she produced her work. Her paintings wallpaper the tiny room. It took hours of effort to remove the layers of wood smoke, nicotine and grime to return them to the surface. Such bright colours and cheerful subjects, painted by someone in pain, poverty and an abusive relationship. How she managed is truly an inspiration.

Downtown Halifax, there was construction everywhere and it wasn't easy to drive around, so we walked. Not much luck with restaurants. When I asked one server how long we would need to wait for a table, they said, "How should I know?" and I suggested they might be able to tell by whether the customer had been served or started their meal. At another place they had us wait more than a half hour for the fish and chips, but forgot one of the four orders; the batter was chewy and fish was mushy. Uggh. Best meals were at Murphy's the Cable Wharf Restaurant, where I had lobster and on another visit, bacon wrapped scallops. The Chickenburger, outside Halifax in Bedford was probably the most fun to visit, with its retro diner feel and neon chicken blazing on the roof.

There were fireworks every night we were there as part of Canada 150 celebrations, and we saw one of the best shows ever, that lasted more than twenty minutes and filled the night sky with smoke and colour.

We managed a day trip to Peggy's Cove. The further you got from the parking lot, the fewer the number of tourists. We spent at least an hour on the rocks gazing at the sea, and watching the waves crash and white foam froth. We also joined a small boat tour for a bumpy ride along the coast.

Lunenburg was lovely and not too busy during our visit. Colourful houses, quirky galleries, and a row of restaurants facing the sea. The Bluenose II wasn't in port though, she was in Halifax Harbour. We returned to the capital in time to watch the schooner sail out to return with the entire fleet  to Lunenburg.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Finding inspiration

I've been book binging on self-help & mindfulness books. While very informative, I am going to cut waaaaay back and stick to one or two chapters of a book a week.

More digestible that way, and probably more productive in the long run!

In the last month I've read or dipped into:
- The Beauty of Discomfort (Amanda Lang)
- The Ripple Effect (Geoff Wells)
- When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Pema Chodron)
- The Okinawa Program (Wilcox)
- Unplug (Schwatz)
- Savour (Thich Nhat Hanh)
- How to See Yourself as you Really Are (Dalai Lama)

As I was searching for the photo to go along with this post, funnily enough I came across this study "Reading Self-Help Books Can Make You Feel Worse." The research put self-help into two categories and found problem-focused self-help books often have the opposite of their intended effect. The books I've been devouring are focused on nutrition, mindfulness, and positive thinking and fall into the growth-oriented and inspirational category. Good books, good advice, and good reinforcement.


Turning to self-help books for guidance might seem like a good idea when you’re feeling down about life. But a new study suggests it probably won’t make you feel a whole lot better — and it could even leave you feeling worse.
The research, conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Montreal, found that people who read self-help books show more depressive symptoms and higher sensitivity to stress than those who don’t read such literature.
For the small pilot study, the researchers tested 30 people for personality and mental health traits such as stress reactivity (the tendency to respond to a stressor, measured by stress hormone levels present in saliva), openness, self-discipline, extraversion, compassion, emotional stability, self-esteem, and depressive symptoms.
Half of the participants said that they read self-help books and half did not. The self-help consumers were divided into two categories based on which of two broad classes of such books they read: 1) problem-oriented books that discuss the nature of personal challenges, such as divorce, as well as means of addressing these challenges, and 2) growth-oriented books that promote “inspirational messages about life and happiness.”
The results, which appear in the journal Neural Plasticity, show that readers of problem-focused self-help books had significantly elevated depressive symptoms, while those who read growth-oriented material had greater stress reactivity than non-readers.
However, as the authors note, there’s a big “chicken or egg” problem here. In other words, we don’t know whether high stress reactivity and a tendency towards depression lead people to read self-help books, or, alternatively, if reading self-help books makes people more stressed out and depressed.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Gardening is a fine teacher

The maple tree was here when we moved in 26 years ago, and it has tripled in height. I love looking at its branches and leaves as the seasons change.

For the last couple years those leaves have been browning. Closer inspection proved a major branch would need to be removed. Better to have an arborist do it than to have it fall onto the house.

Still, I can't quite get used to the sight, it makes me wince a little every time I see the raw cut. Even with the one limb removed, we will likely need to take another. And next year, another, and eventually none of the branches will be left. Just a standing trunk. What to do through these next few years of transition? Maybe a few sculptures or birdhouses would help things not look quite so savaged.

As the crew took down the branch, they ended up also trampling the nasturtiums by the pond and quite a few favourites in the native corner (ferns, blood root and the Jack-in-the-Pulpit).

My shady backyard won't be so shady anymore, so some plantings will need to be re-thought.

And just when I was getting to the point of enjoying the garden and not thinking it needed any major changes...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Full Sturgeon Moon - August

Cloudy skies have hidden the glow, but the moon looked full even two nights ago.

August 7, 2:11 pm, the moon was full, and we were coming through fog on the lake back to BPYC from the island. A passing ship suddenly emerged through the cloud, just a hundred feet or so in front of us, a ghostly visit in the afternoon.

August 8 we anchored in "Little Baja" and watched the sun set and the moon rise. We were the only boat, a rare occurrence. Cool weather is keeping most boats in their slips but we are on holiday and making the most of it.