Fortress of Louisbourg Redux

Another set of photos from my Cape Breton Trip in August 2019.  

my summer look

the bloody shepherd in the Military Chapel

dog of the bloody shepherd

wound of the bloody shepherd

toy soldiers

social distancing

live chickens – not animatronics

cannon balls

Does anyone know the story behind the wounded shepherd?

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North Sydney, Cape Breton

 

pre motherboard keyboards

state of the art teletype

red glass

candle sconce

Cape Breton Condos Complex

Affordable Cape Breton Single Family Condo

Fort Petrie Directional Aid

distances estimated not exact

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Rotary Park 

I have fond memories of Rotary Park  when growing up in Sydney. It was just far enough to make it a trek but not so far one couldn’t get there by bike. It was the city reservoir & locals would picnic out there & swim. Needless to say it has become more urban wild than woodsy wild – with actual gravel trails – we only had beaten paths in the olde days 🙂

Entrance – Greenlink refers to trails

spray pledged forever love

shale & aspen

Greenlink map – note no Tim Horton’s !

the lake/pond?

water over the dam

teens hanging out at the top of the dam

wild blueberries – yes I ate some –

we would come here as kids to fill buckets with them

more water over the dam

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Climbing A Stairway To Christmas


The stairway landing has been come a landing runway for various festive bits over the years. The illumined snowman in front of the mirror is a year round feature. It gives enough light to the a very dark spot & makes it safer for anyone going up the stairs. The mirror reflects that light enough. The light web I picked up at Shoppers several years ago & allows for fun festive lights. It also remains up year round but gets its most use in December.

The rest of this stuff, I mean treasures, comes out only for the festive season. My partner is a Lord of the Rings/Merlin fan & his nieces etc sent these wizard figurines over the years. The tall skinny Santa is another relative gift. The disco bear was a gift from a friend many years ago. Scattered around are some plastic snowflakes – gift of a friend. Humpty Dumpty Is one of my Cape Breton pieces – I bought it from Humpty Dumpty chips – sending in several wrappers or bar codes, I think, plus postage charges. He balances, as is fitting, at the top of the mirror.

On the window ledge is a set of Red Rose ceramic miniature tea pots. I ordered this from Red Rose many years ago. Corporate take over there ended all such fun stuff. The Paris souvenir was a gift from a friend who went to, of all places, Paris. I don’t think Notre Dame, the Tower & the Arc are in scale to each other 🙂 I added it to the seasonal display. The police car is just for fun. The caroller is a tea candle holder. The sand castles where a fad many years ago & at one time had little flags which have since been washed out to sea.

 

Finally, suspended over all is the angel. A tree topper, too big for our tree, it comes from a friend’s store of childhood decorations – when he moved back to NS he took the bulk of his decorations that had been merged without ours butI kept this one as everyone needs a Christmas angel on high 🙂

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Coal Dusters – Chapter LXX Birk’s Rude Awakening

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Coal Dusters – Chapter LXX

Birk’s

Rude

Awakening

#Toronto #Wordpress #coalmine #amwriting #gayromance #lgbtq #nanowrimo #CapeBreton #novel #Ontario

Birk could hear his mother downstairs in the kitchen. Singing “Bringing in the sheaves” as she clanged the stove top covers. He could still feel Clancy’s hands on him, feel the slide of their tongues  in each others mouths as they kissed. They had started out in the front bedroom Clancy was to use but ended up back in Birk’s room in the bed that was familiar to them.

He rolled onto his back and stretched his arms and legs as far as he could on either side. The bed was cool where he expected to feel the heat of Clancy. There was no one there with him.

“Clancy?” He sat up. He pulled on his pants and went to Clancy’s bedroom. It was empty. The drawers were open and empty. There was nothing in the closet either. On the pillow was a note. 

“Birk

I’ve got too much to do with my life. It wouldn’t be fair to you let my feelings keep me where I don’t want to be. When I can I’ll be back. If I can’t come back I’ll never forget you, you hairy monkey.

Clancy”

#Toronto #Wordpress #coalmine #amwriting #gayromance #lgbtq #nanowrimo #CapeBreton #novel #Ontario

Birk could hear his mother downstairs in the kitchen. Singing “Bringing in the sheaves” as she clanged the stove top covers. He could still feel Clancy’s hands on him, feel the slide of their tongues  in each others mouths as they kissed. They had started out in the front bedroom Clancy was to use but ended up back in Birk’s room in the bed that was familiar to them.

He rolled onto his back and stretched his arms and legs as far as he could on either side. The bed was cool where he expected to feel the heat of Clancy. There was no one there with him.

“Clancy?” He sat up. He pulled on his pants and went to Clancy’s bedroom. It was empty. The drawers were open and empty. There was nothing in the closet either. On the pillow was a note. 

“Birk

I’ve got too much to do with my life. It wouldn’t be fair to you let my feelings keep me where I don’t want to be. When I can I’ll be back. If I can’t come back I’ll never forget you, you hairy monkey.

Clancy”

– the end –

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Dominion Beach Party

On my August Cape Breton visit I spent an hour or so on Dominion Beach. I can’t remember the last time I actually stood in the Atlantic Ocean 🙂 

Dominion Beach before the crowds

view of the Lingan Power Plant from the beach

‘the beach has changed once again’

public shower

horizon

TOpoet.ca under the horizon

feet in the sand

clouds over Dominion

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Chapter LXIX: Lillian Catches The Train

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Coal Dusters – Chapter LXIX

Lillian

Catches 

The Train

Lillian arrived at the station with five minutes to spare. Her trunk had already been taken aboard. She went to her seat and sat back.

She checked her purse once again to make sure her bank draft was there. Next she made sure her transfer ticket to Montreal was there so she could change trains when she got to Truro.

The departure call was made. To her relief there was no sign of David Henderson. The train started to pull out. She smiled to herself at the image of him standing on the platform as the train pulled away.

Behind her she heard the conductor at the doorway talking to someone.

“Come on come on.” The conductor was saying. “Reach up and I can pull on if yer fast enough.” He grunted. “Ouf. There you go. Next time be here on time.”

“Didn’t know till now that I was going anywhere.” A man said.

The train picked up speed. 

Not that way.” The conductor said. “That’s for first class. Yer family ticket gets you caboose. T’other way.” 

As the train sped up Lillian let the scenery blur grateful that this was now her past not her future.

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Chapter LXVIII – Birk’s First Kiss

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Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVIII

Birk’s

First

Kiss

Birk and Clancy were in the small backyard of the house breaking up the soil so his mother could start a garden. 

“Birk get in here, now!” His mother shouted from the back stoop.

He and Clancy followed her into the house. 

There was a stranger sitting in the living room.

“This is Mr. Joseph from the steel plant. This be Birk and our boarder Clancy Sinclair.”

The man stood and shook hands with them. “I’m sorry for your loss.” he said.

“Loss?” Birk looked at his mother. “Maddy?”

“No,” she began to sob. “Mac died at the plant this afternoon.”

“Couldn’t catch his breath.” Mr. Joseph explained. “I work with him with the boilers. He was shovelling the number 3 and stopped heaving for air. Took him to the infirmary and then they rushed him to the city hospital but by then t’was too late. Doc there says t’was his heart gave out.”

“After them done broke it.” his mother said. “Goddamned BritCan pulled that heart right out of him.” She dabbed at her eyes with the edge of her apron.

“I came to tell yer Ma myself. Didn’t know Mac for long but he was eager worker. Told us how good his boy Birk was around the boilers, too.”

“Some, but not as good as he was.” Birk said. Without Mac the responsibility for the family was now his. There’d be no leaving to anywhere for work with Clancy.

“Thank you from coming to tell us.” Birk shook his hand. “I see Ma’s given you some tea. You want another cup?”

“No thank ye. I have a family awaiting me too. I’m over Hanson Road. Not too far from here. Number fifteen. Come by the Plant in the morning and I’ll see if we can fix you up.”

“How’s that?” Birk asked.

“We took Mac because we needed him. We still need him. We can give you a try to see if you’ll do.”

“I already have work at the Patterson millworks.”

“So yer ma tells me but you’ll get paid more, travel less and keep ahold of your house.”

“I’ll think on it.” Birk shook his hand again glancing at Clancy who had remained silent since coming into the house.

“You boys had supper?” his mother asked once Mr. Joseph was gone.

“Can’t say as I’m much hungry Mrs. Mac.” Clancy said.

“Come out the kitchen while I sees to supper.”

Maddy was the the kitchen table. “When Poppa coming home?” she asked.

“Not fer awhile.” Birk said. “Not fer a long while.”

“He’s gone to be with Sal.” His mother sat beside her.

“Sal?” Maddy teared up. “Sal gone to be with God.”

“So she has.” his mother said.

“That why that man was here?”

“Yes Maddy.”

“I hate him. He sent pappa away didn’t he.”

“No.” Birk said. “Mac was tried that’s all. Moving here and changing was too much for him.”

“For all of us.” His mother ladled out stew for them. “Eat and we can talk more about this later. I’ll say grace, ‘God thank you for the food we have that will give us strength to face what has to be faced. Amen.”

Birk washed the dishes while his mother put Maddy to bed.

“You’re some silent.” He said to Clancy.

“It was all so clear to me this afternoon. It made sense to leave here and build a life on my own plans not on something set out before me. A life for two of us.” Clancy said.

“Nothing holding you. You said you got no family here.”

“There’s you.” Clancy said softly. “You know when I took off that last time I didn’t mean to come back. I was through with all this, with those micks who want to lynch someone for not being a God-fearing mick.”

“Lynch?”

“That’s what they’d call that mob that Father Patrick brought over to teach you, us, a lesson. They would have strung us the nearest tree if they coulda. You know that. And why? For being naked?”

“For what we were doing.”

Clancy took Birk’s hand. “We were doing nothing, Birk. Nothing. But I was feeling something.” 

“To you maybe but to them it was something.”

“Exactly. I don’t want to live in fear for someone disapproving of the way I sneeze. Of who I want to be with. That’s what brought me back again. To get you to leave with me.”

“You had me convinced too.” Birk brushed the back of Clancy’s hand on his own chin. “But you know I can’t go now.”

“Fuk,” Clancy stood and let his chair fall over to the floor. “I knows that. I have to think about what to do, for me.”

“Millworks will be lookin’ for someone when I go.”

“Yeah.” Clancy gave a small laugh. “That isn’t what I had in mind.”

His mother came into the kitchen. “I see you done the dishes. That’s something I could never get Mac to do.” She picked up the chair that Clancy had knocked over. She sat in it with her elbows on the table and her head in her hand. “Sometimes I feel my age.”

“It hasn’t been easy,  Mrs. Mac.” Clancy said.

“So Clancy you back for good?” she asked.

“I can’t say Mrs. Mac. Birk and I was discussing that too. It’s not as if I’m kin to you or anyone else around here.”

“True. I’m trying to be practical about things, is all. I need to know what I can count on before making any decisions. I don’t want you and Birk disappearing one day.”

“Ma…” Birk started.

She held up her hand. “Birk I know you wants a life of yer own. Geo did too. That sure can’t happen here. I expected you to go with Geo when he went to Alberta. He offered to take you but Pa said it had to be your idea not something we planted in you.”

“You did?”

“Yer Pa and I talked about what was going to become of you. Then I got afraid that mick gal was trying to lure you off too. So I said things about her I didn’t mean. When she got set with O’Dowell I breathed easy again.”

“Ma! I was never one for her. I knew that from the first time met her.”

“I know, son, I know. But comes a time when we have to let our children look out for themselves.”

“This isn’t that time Ma.” Birk said looking to Clancy. 

“It is Birk. Isn’t it Clancy?” She looked to Clancy too. “You want Birk to take a chance on a bigger life with you?”

“I won’t deny it. I talked to him about it. There isn’t much more opportunity for him here than there is for me. You want him to die with a shovel in his hand the way Mac did?”

“We all die Clancy.” she half-laughed. “Don’t matter what we’re holding in our hands at the time.”

“Ma, I’m not going anywhere with Clancy.”

“Maddy and I can go live with my sister in Guysborough. There’s enough to do around their farm to keep us.”

“Aunt Dierdra? The one you curses under your breath anytime you get the opportunity.”

“The same.” she took a deep breath. “If’n you want to stay Clancy, we’d be happy to have you. Mac never got settled in that room of his upstairs so you can have it for yerself. You won’t ‘ave to bunk up with Birk at all.” 

“We all have a lot to think about.” Clancy got up from the table and went to the front door.

Birk followed him. “Clancy you know I can’t go now. Maybe the steel plant is my opportunity.”

“For you but not for me.”

He left Birk standing in the open doorway.

Birk sat in Mac’s armchair in the living room. Even though Mac had a bedroom for himself Mac still fell asleep in his old armchair. The chair wasn’t as comfortable as it looked when Mac sat in it. The curves and bumps were ones that had been created by Mac’s body over the years. Birk sat on the sofa and out his feet up on the low table in front of it.

This was his duty. Family. The adventure that Clancy offered had tempted him sorely. He was glad now that he didn’t have to make the decision to go or not. That he’d stay was plain to him. 

Lying on his bed he heard the backdoor open and someone come into the house. He pulled his coveralls on and went to the top of the stairs to listen. He heard nothing. He went half-way down the stairs and could see his mother asleep in Mac’s chair in the living-room. The street light softening her face with its yellow.

“Clancy!” he whispered.

“Shush.” Was the reply. “Who would it be?”

Clancy came to the bottom of the stairs holding his shoes.

They walked up the stairs.

“I didn’t think you’d come back.” Birk said.

“I had no choice.” He took Birk by the hand. “My heart is here.”

“I …” Without hesitation he pulled Clancy to him and kissed him. He didn’t want that kiss to end.

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Out and About in Sydney, Cape Breton

Cape Breton sunrise

where I had great ice cream on the Sydney Boardwalk

stone stairs to nowhere in Sydney

the welcome feet of Sydney

stone in the Park/Brookland/Hospital Sts triangle

close up of the stone

stained glass in the CB Regional Library

CB highland dancers on Charlotte St.

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Chapter LXVII: Lillian Gets A Surprise

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Coal Dusters – Chapter LXVII

Lillian

Gets A

Surprise

The Saturday of the unveiling was a windy overcast day. Rain threatened but never happened. Steven had been buried in the family plot at Hardwood Hill Cemetery. The bagpipes could be heard as she and Clara walked up the path to the family plot.

“Mama was a Presbyterian you know, and never converted, so when they wouldn’t bury her on Catholic soil our father didn’t want to be buried anywhere but her side. I know Steven felt the same way.” Clara leaned on Lillian for support.

There were several others already at the site. The Nova Scotia flag covered the small stone monument. It bellowed in the breeze.

“Good day Miss O’Dowell, Miss McTavish, I mean, Mrs. O’Dowell.” The custodian greeted them.

“Thank you Mr. Crookshank.” Clara shook his hand and nodded to other men there.

“He will be sorely missed.” Gus shook both their hands.

They stood in the wind for a moment listening the the piper. Clara signalled for him to stop.

“Lillian would you give me a hand?” Clara indicated to Lillian to stand opposite her by the grave stone. 

Once Lillian had taken the edge of the flag in her hand Clara leaned and undid the string that was holding it. They lifted it together and Lillian, expecting Clara to hold it, let go of her side once it was clear. Clara let go of her’s at the same time and the flag was blown away by the breeze to get stuck in upper branches of a near by oak tree.

“Oh my!” Lillian said and started to get it.

“Leave it for now, dear.” Clara said putting an arm around Lillian’s shoulder.

The monument was pink-grey marble column, the top edge had an inlay of black onyx carved to look like lumps of coal. It was topped with miner’s lamp made of brass. 

Clara read the inscription, “ ‘Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. John xv:13’ ” Then she began to weep. The bagpiper began to play.

Lillian squeezed Clara’s hand and they walked down the path. Followed by the others and the bagpiper.

 

The silence back at the O’Dowell house was a relief to Lillian. She’d said all she had to say and longed to be on her way. It was worse than those last days at school before summer vacation. Clara had taken to her room and Lillian brought up a supper tray for her.

“Lillian you must understand how hard this is for me. To lose Steven and now to lose you so soon after.” she patted Lillian’s hand. “I know I’m beginning to sound same as an hysterical old woman but …”

“I will be back Clara.” Lillian hoped she sounded reassuring.

“Yes, but not till Christmas. Oh, do see if you can take some time to visit while you are at college.”

“Yes, yes.” Lillian said. “Once I know what my classes are and what work I’ll have before me I’ll know what time I have to spare.”

“This house has been so empty without you or Steven to share it with.”

“You’ll get used it so quickly you won’t want any intruders other than a cat or two.”

She went down to the kitchen

“Don’t awaken Miss Clara, Aileen.” she said. “I think it best if I slip away with less fuss than I arrived.”

“Yes miss. Am I to send the things in your room along to you?”

“No. They’ll be there for me when I return. Knowing my favorite blue shoes are here is sure to bring me back. I’d like you to have these.”

She gave Aileen the pair of stocking she had bought for the wedding. One less memento of a time she hoped to forget. 

 

She planned to leave Monday morning. Being here had become unbearable for her now that her escape from the island was assured. 

“I can’t quite believe you are going.” Mrs. Franklin said as they waited on the boarding house porch for the cab to take Lillian’s luggage to the train station.

“I am so grateful for everything you’ve done for me Rose.”

“Thank you, Lillian, you’ve been a joy to … “ she began to tear up.

“I’d like you to have this.”

“Oh  …” Mrs. Franklin pulled the tissue paper off what turns out to be an ornate carved ivory fan. “It is beautiful. The roses look so real.”

“I realize it isn’t that practical. Much like me, I suppose, I was brought up to be pretty but not practical. Life here has taught me to be practical.

“It was a gift from my father. He bought it for me on one his trips to the continent. I don’t want to have too many impractical memories.”

The cab pulled up. Once her luggage was safe at the train station she had the driver take her to the cemetery. She had given herself time to go back Steven’s grave. The day was sunny but the wind was strong around the grave.

As she knelt the wind pulled off her hat and her hair came loose. She laughed to herself thinking that Steven always did appreciate her hair.

“Steven,” she said softly, “forgive me for what I am doing. Even if you had lived I would never have been content here on this rock with you. Never.” 

“Lillian?” a man’s voice came from behind her. “Lillian McTavish!” The man repeated louder.

She stood, shivering, and turned around. The sun was in her eyes.

“Steven!” Had she brought him back to life? 

“It is you, Lillian! I thought it was a ghost.” He took her in his arms. She tried to push him away. 

“David Henderson? No, it can’t be. It can’t be.” She stumbled back away from him.

“It is.”

“How? Why?”

“When news of your death reached me in India I was devastated. I had hoped to return to Boston one day to be with you. I should never have let my family pressure me into leaving you. Never. It was torment I shall never want to experience again.

“I could hardly sit through the memorial service your uncle conducted in Boston. It wasn’t right to me. I had to see your grave to … be near you one last time.” Tears streaked his face. “To find you alive! How is that possible.”

“My uncle was … mistaken.” Lillian stared hard at David. He looked much she remembered. Older and less naive.

“He said at the memorial that you had been interred here with the other flu victims. I now see why the custodian was so puzzled when I asked about Lillian McTavish’s resting place earlier. He said that if you were here today it might be up here at the O’Dowell plot.”

A nearby church rang eleven.

“I … don’t know what to say David.”

“Tell me that my affections might still be returned.”

She started to walk down to the street. “Much had happened in the past year David. I can’t say what my affections are for anyone.”

“I understand that Lillian. I do honestly.” he stopped her and took both of her hands in his. “We can become reacquainted.”

He let go of her hands, put his around his waist pulled to him and kissed her. 

The wind wrapped her hair around them for a moment. They broke free and she quickly plated her hair and secured it under her hat. Was this Steven’s answer to her prayer for forgiveness?

“David I’ll be direct.”

“As you always were.”

They got into the cab that she had waiting for her. “Train station please.” Lillian said.

“I’m staying the The Royal.” David said.

“That may be, but my train leaves at noon. I intend to be on it.” Lillian’s thoughts were reeling with this unexpected, undreamed of event. Regardless of it she was determined to leave. “I can’t make any decision or plans as long as I am here.”

“I know that Lillian, but please hear me out. After my father’s death I inherited the firm and have increased its holdings in India considerably. When I first met you I was a young man with possibilities, now I am man of property.”

“I can see that. I presume you know that I was compromised by James Dunham.” She saw no reason to hold anything back from David.

“Compromised?”

“Yes. Do I have to explain that for you? That’s why I ended up here. I had a child by him. It was still born.”
“Lillian,” he clutched her hand and brought it to his lips.

“Do you still want to be become reacquainted with me?”

“How could you doubt it?” He said softly.

“You are free to come with me. I am not promising anything.”

“Yes. yes. Thank you. Drop me at the Royal and then take Miss McTavish to the train station.” The cab pulled up at the Royal. He jumped out. “It won’t take me long to pack my things and I’ll meet you at the station.”

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