Cape Breton Day 6

I like to alternate pure tourist days with almost local days. Today I had one almost local plan – to take in the Pride CB Living Library at the McConnell Library. An early phone call confirmed supper with an old friend, so now I had two plans on an unplanned day 🙂 The Travelodge is close enough for me to me willing to walk to the downtown. The sun wasn’t as relentless as it has been. So the walk took about thirty minutes, with photo & text stops.

The main drag is now in tatters – empty stores, some of which were posh now are dusty vacant remain Lots I did stop in at a couple & picked up some books, trinkets & to ask about obscure east coast music. Stopped for lunch at Flavor – which wouldn’t be out of place one the Danforth. Decent coffee, good service & excellent bacon & eggs with an exceptional in-house sour dough bread. Stopped in at Heritage Museum but nothing much there but it has taken over the superb old Bank of Montreal building.

Hit another souvenir shop for more trinkets. A coffee shop & finally the McConnell. Four members of the lgbt etc community shared some of their coming out – it was like an AA talk without the alcohol. They each brought in focus very different aspects of the queer experience: pan, intersex, non binary, cis, not cis, lesbian experience. Sometime funny, sometimes sad, always real. 

All of them had some sort of community to come out into & found support for their process. I did remind them that as someone who lived in CB the 60s/70s they had a very different experience. Too bad there wasn’t any of the older generation available for the panel to give it a more complete historical context.

Walked back to the hotel, relaxed a bit, showered & out for that dinner with an old friend. Too much food, too stuffy an apartment, but at least she was within walking distance. I find that’s one of the good things about opting for a hotel this visit – I have seen parts of this city that I have never seen before.

Here’s a brand new piece I wrote at Flavor.

Morning Moment

the old home town

not in ruins

yet –


remodelled for the tourist trade

some shops only open

when the liners are in

cruise ships

with so many passengers

the population is doubled

for a couple of hours


I grew up here

before the liners

made this a port of call

escaped when I was young enough

to enjoy my freedom

now old enough

to know

I escaped with my life

I felt then I was in a prison

but didn’t understand

I was under a death sentence


the old home town


storefronts of abandoned shops

schools burned down

washed away

dead friends

nostalgia not memory

brings me back


I don’t want to revisit

as much as reframe

to make new moments

to be what I wasn’t 

once upon a time

maybe to be

what I am not even today


so what do I say

to a message

‘dick this morning?’

will I be 

some old guy in a past self

who was a prisoner of shame

or do I let myself

become a man

who takes this moment

to exchange blow jobs

before eight in the morning


For the summer I’m looking at my Brown Betty chapbook. All the pieces dealt with growing up in Cape Breton.


Hendrix: burning the midnight lamp soon 

… I wish I was a merman 


messy coffee table
open bottles wine beer Scotch
weed rolled in papers 

too thin to write on 

yet strong enough to hold 

a shared dream 


three of us
Del me Kathy
share this joint enterprise
laugh at a phrase 

I was going through 

hands touch to pass
the precious opener of minds  

or rather the opener of pants 

as Del loudly called it
his eyes on Kathy 

she gave him a look
that said ‘see you later’
then left 

with her cigarettes 

and the remains of the wine


‘uptight bitch’ Del laughed 

as the door shut
he stayed
the supply on hand
held more appeal than
the supply leaving the room 

that Jimi guitar
hooked its way around our brain
led our vision across patterns
my voodoo child eyes would wander
all along the corduroy
that hugged and held Del

he invitingly pushed 

the coffee table away 

to make room on the floor
we had become so smoke soft 

only the backless floor 

could hold our floating rolling bodies 

till we found ourselves


I could feel the crosstown traffic of my heart 

the sensation of his tongue on mine
the coarse grind of pubic hair on stomach
a move for a breath of air 

to refresh the disguise of liquor 

thighs hands lips
trimming a midnight lamp
that still burns today 

but no longer needs
a smoke-screen
the bottled mask of permission

A snap shot of an older me in my mid-20’s. I wasn’t ‘out’ but after a few drinks, in the right circumstances, I wasn’t as guarded. This piece revolves around Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. The situation wasn’t unusual either though it was a pleasant surprise when ‘Del’ pushed that coffee table away.

There are lots of references to songs on the album of which my favorite is ‘all along the corduroy.’ A variation on ‘all along the watchtower.’ The line also refers to a famous photo of Henrix in form fitting, deep red, corduroy that seem to barely contained his cock. You’ll have to listen to the album to track down all the references.

Del & Kathy aren’t the actual names, the events come from a few occasions. Some of guys I drank with had rather cavalier attitudes towards their girlfriends of the moment & would often say things like ‘opener of pants.’ Often parties would end when people ran out of smokes.

I wasn’t really a fan of grass & rarely used it directly. Second hand smoke was close enough but when things went as they did here I did my best to get with it 🙂 I guess the pants Del was talking about were his.

I knew a couple of guys who were ‘explorative’ after several drinks. I would always know they were in the mood when they showed up at my little place on the East Coast with a forty-ouncer under their arm. One guy was a great kisser. But they needed that liquid permission. So did I then. I no longer do but I recently heard a gay podcast host confess that he’s never had sex sober – so I guess some still count on bottled permission even when they aren’t wearing a mask.

previous Brown Betty posts:

Man With A Past 1

When I Was A Young Boy

Home (not of the brave)


Dad’s Pockets


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 

Cape Breton Day 5 

Another day of purely tourist stuff took us (myself, my sister & niece) to the Fortress of Louisbourg. The Fortress was a summer day trip as our family got larger in the 60’s – we were lured out with the promise of ice cream because at that time there was only one building that had a model of the proposed reconstruction, a few artifacts & some cannons outside. Boring for children.

Now it is an amazing recreation of the original fortress with several buildings, a couple of streets – giving one a sense of stepping back into that time. The village is populated with people in period costumes etc. Much of the wear has been fabricated on site or near by. You can buy lace made right in the Fortress before your very eyes. Farms have plants that the settlers would have grown.

Though most of it is ‘look & photograph’ there are some experiential opportunities: firing a musket, or even a canon – one can be arrested, jailed & publicly humiliated (all for a fee). Having survived high-school public humiliation this didn’t appeal to me.

There is also a building devoted the the Indigenous people who were responsible for saving the lives of the first settlers to the area & also the defence of the fortress when the English attacked it.

There are cafes – one for common folk, one for the more well to do, & one for those afraid of the other two. Food served at the first two is what would have been available to the populace & is served on pewter dishes, with a single spoon – knives & forks for dining weren’t used at this social level. I had a great pea soup & grilled haddock. 

We walked part of the Ruins Trail to visit a site where they are preserving buried remains to move them before that side of the area is eroded by the sea. We did get to talk with the historian. Photographs were not permitted. The staff & the costumed were all eager to explain & prepared for questions like ‘were there blacks at the Fortress?’ Yes.

I was tempted to ask about ‘molly boys’ but perhaps on my next visit. Maybe by then they will have reconstructed one of the brothels but for now it is purely family friendly.

On the way home we stopped at the Train Museum – fascinating but run by teenage boys more interested in their cell phones & who knew nothing about the history of the train service between Louisburg & Sydney. 

Chapter LVIII – Lillian Rips Her Coat

Coal Dusters: Book 1 is now available as as PDF – this covers the first 35 chapters – 65540 words – send $1.99 to

Coal Dusters – Chapter LVIII



Her Coat

Lillian stepped off the Dingle Dandy. The sun was warm on her face. The sky was as clear a blue as she had seen since coming to the Cape Breton. She began to walk, aimlessly at first. There was no where she had to be, nothing she had to do. There were no emotional holds to her here. 

She walked along Castleton’s main street nodding to people she had become acquainted with during Steven’s campaign. Some knew her name, she knew some of their names, but they meant nothing to her now. To them she was an extension of Steven O’Dowell, his tragic widow, if anything at all.  To her they weren’t even votes anymore.

She stood on the dock to stare across the bay. New Waterford on the other shore looked so small and distant. Was her future small and distant? 

She walked to the gates of the colliery. The notices of its closing now tattered by the wind and bleached white by the sun. The grounds that she could see look as if everyone had that morning stepped away for a moment.

“Good morning Miss McTavish.” 

“Lovely day, Mrs. Seldon.” Lillian leaned over the pram that Mrs. Seldon was pushing. “I see little one has recovered.”

“Yes Miss. The service for Mr. O’Dowell was powerful good.”

“Yes. The Bishop spoke quite eloquently, if a bit long.”

“Oh, Miss.” Mrs. Seldon began to cry. “You are so strong. To put on a smile in your trying times.”

“Strong? No I’ve come to see that tears aren’t going to change what’s happened.”

“Quite rightly so. What brings you here?”

“Nothing in particular. I had to get out of the house for awhile.”

“Never good to sit still for too long. I’m meeting Mr. Seldon here. He’s to get the last of what was owed him. Then we’re leaving same as so many.”

“Where to?”

“Depends on how much he gets. And here he is now. Looking none to happy.”

Mr. Seldon came through the gate. “Miss McTavish.” He doffed his cap to her.

Lillian didn’t bother to correct him. Her marriage to Steven had become more trouble to explain that it was worth.

“So what’s to be done?” his wife asked.

“They says another week. We can stay in the house no charge until they are ready to give my full discharge. They’ve been too busy with the government inspectors and such to look after the books for us little people.”

“Do they still think it was sabotage?” Lillian asked.

“T’isn’t clear.” he replied. “The lower levels were where they think it began have flooded so quick they can’t go down to check ‘em. No one as was down there survived. Of course you know that.” He look away from Lillian. “Sorry to remind you of that Miss. He was a brave’un he was and always stood up for everyone.”

“Thank you Mr. Seldon.” Lillian looked forward to the day when people would stop offering their pity to her.

“Mrs. Seldon says you plan to leave?” she asked.

“Yes Miss. I have kin in Winnipeg so we is goin’ to try our luck out west. And you Miss, you plannin’ to stop here much longer.”

“I haven’t given it much thought Mr. Seldon.” There had been so much to deal with over the past weeks she had given her own future only slight thought. During the days leading up to the service she had helped Clara gather Steven’s clothing to donate through the parish. She had no interest in his jewelry or any other memento. The only thing she had kept was the bottle of the cloying bay rum he was prone to use before she discouraged him.

“You can always go back to your family in Boston.” Mrs. Seldon suggested.

They walked back to the main part of town.

“I suppose I could.” Lillian answered. She could imagine the look on her mother’s face if she turned up at the door. No first she would be greeted by Mable, who would probably scream and faint to see her dead mistress return. Then she would face her mother who would not know right away what to say. Perhaps comment on Lillian’s dusty, dirty shoes or her rather plain attire. “No, I think not, after my time here, Boston holds no promise or appeal for me.”

They came to the town square.

“Nice to see you again Miss.” Mr. Seldon said.

“I know there is plan for you.” Mrs. Seldon said. “If we don’t see you again before we leave you’ll always have a place in my heart for saving ‘the little one’ that time in the fire.”

“Thank you” Lillian kissed Mrs. Seldon on the cheek and continued on her aimless way.

Without the sounds of the mine Castleton was quiet. There was no train shunting coal back and forth, no periodic whistles for change of shifts, no warning clanging of coal about to be loaded into a scow. She couldn’t hear any children or dogs. Castleton Mines was dying all around her. 

There was nothing to keep her here. Not that there had even been anything to keep her there except her own uncertainty and fear.

She had married Steven but lost him before she had a firm foundation to … to what? Get back at her uncle? At her family? They know she was alive after all but to what end? A letter from her father made it clear she was not welcome back to their home. All he would do was print a retraction notice of her death.

Her steps took her along the ridge that lead to Blue Lake. She had walked there a few times with Birk and his sisters. She was amazed at how blue the water was. Not quite sky blue but very clear. She had also been delighted by how happy and excited the little girls had been by something so simple as a lake.

The things that pleased her as the most a child were gifts at Christmas. Dolls, intricate doll houses, and as she got older it was  jewels, paste copies of things her mother wore. She could still see that dainty pair of shoes with the sparkling ruby buckles. 

As she walked the winding path she saw the lake horizon rise and fall before her. It was as if the lake was playing hide and seek with her. The ribbon of blue dipping behind the dune, the rocks, then coming into view again.

She stopped to catch her breath in the last of the dips. She knew that once she walked up the lake would reveal its entire self in one glance. 

She measured her pace to save that view for as long as possible. She she came up she first heard, then saw the young men frolicking in the water.

She blushed when she saw they were naked. She stopped transfixed. She had never seen a man naked. Not even her brothers when they were younger. She had never even seen them bare-chested.

When James Dunham had interfered with her, they had, for the most part, remained fully clothed. Her skirts pulled up and her underthings stretched to allow him entry. 

She stepped back not wanting to be seen. How would Steven have treated her? They both had assumed they would have children.

She inched forward to watch the men again. She recognized them as Birk and Clancy. Birk’s torso was as hairy as his forearms. Clancy’s was pale and hairless expect for hair around his … She closed her eyes then forced them open. She stared at the male members of the two men.

The men jostled and shoved each other too much for her to see more than the fleshy bobbing of their privates. Then they stopped and Birk went to the edge of the lake and made water on his hands. Clancy stood facing him and did the same. Making water on Birk’s hands!

Her eyes opened wider as they reached out to grasp one another privates in their hands. They were grinning foolishly at each other. Pleasuring each other! 

She look around frantically for a stick of sort sort, something to use as switch to teach them, to stop them. There was nothing. She couldn’t let this go on.

“What are you doing?” She shouted down at them.

The men stepped away from each other as Lillian charged down the path to confront them.

They gabbed for their clothes and quickly got dressed.

“Indecent. Shameless animals.” She was nearly shrieking. “Fornicators. Abominations.”

“We were swimming ma’am.” Birk said.

“Decent God-fearing men don’t swim unclad.” Lillian raged Birk with all the scorn she could muster. Was this unnatural proclivity why he was so fearful of her.

“No harm in it.” Clancy said.

“No harm! You weren’t swimming. You were … in contact with each other … you were touching each other in the most unwholesome, unnatural way. I saw … disgusting. How could you …”

She turned from them and started back to the path.

“Ma’am!” Clancy called after her. “I don’t what you think you saw but it was … it’s an old miner’s trick for the hands. To use piss to toughen them. That’s what you saw.”

“I know what I saw.” Lillian stopped to glare at them. “The constables will hear about this. The scriptures are clear about this sin and I’m certain the laws of this land don’t allow it either.”

She rushed back up the path, stumbling in her outrage. Her brothers had sniggered about one of the men in their circle who was more interested in the players on the field than playing the field. She hadn’t quite understood what they meant but now she saw it clearly.

To think of the time she had sacrificed to Birk to try and guide him into a better life and yet he had chosen to lower himself into this sort of degradation. To do it where anyone could see! 

Out of breath she found herself back at the town square. Her dress had been torn by branches when she had made her day through the woods. Who would she tell. Who could do what needed to be done to deal with this? Would Clara know? No! What she had witness was something she couldn’t tell another woman. It was bad enough that she had seen it now she had to recount it.

Her Uncle? No! Yes. But more than him. No. She would have to go to the constabulary in New Waterford. That would take time. Time that those unclean creatures would use to escape. They would … where could they go. Into the woods?

She ran down the the dock as the ferry was pulling out.

“Got on in the nick of time Miss McTavish.”

“Yes I have urgent business in New Waterford and God was with me to insure I did it.”

She paced the decks the boat crossed over to New Waterford. Once on the other side she ran as fast as she could up to the main street and to the police station. Out of breath she couldn’t stand and collapsed on a bench.

“Why it’s Miss McTavish.” one of the police men came over to her. “Bring a glass of water for her. What is it miss?” He kneed in front of her.

“Two men.” she gasped for breath. “by the lake. They …”

“They bothered you miss?” He stood.

“They … naked.” she said.

“Who were they Miss. Do you know who they were?”

“Birk Nelson and … and ..”

“Clancy Sinclair?” he supplied. 

“Yes. They …”

“What is it Constable Jeffers.” another policeman asked.

“Two men attempted to infer with Miss McTavish. I know who they are. Have no fear ma’am.”

“Not …” she reached for the glass of water and fainted.

When she came to she was in the foyer of the Victoria Hotel. Clara was patting her hand. Her Uncle hovered in the background.

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Cape Breton Day 4

Today was a day of seeing people not places. In the morning I met up with one of the few friends I had during my last 10 years or so of living in Sydney – a guy I drank with, played lps with & kept in touch with too. He picked me up in his car & we did a bit of driving around Coxheath & Westmount.

Crossed back to the city & ended up at the Starbucks (yes, Sydney is a city with only 1 Starbucks!) where we talked some about present day health concerns & memories of the bars of yesteryear – the names of which I’d forgotten (was that suppressed?). One was The Shingle – a narrow stairway up & also one in back. Just hearing the name brought back memories of stumbling down those back stairs into the parking lot.

Another was The Venetian Gardens part of which jutted out over the harbour – an one time that watery underside was used for rum running. It had a bit of history as a ‘night club’ where big bands once played such at Duke Ellington. I hear local, almost famous Matt Minglewood, Sam Moon there. Near by was a real waterfront bar called The Helm, it was too butch for to ever have been in 🙂 The posh hotel The Isle Royal had a sophisticated basement cocktail lounge ‘The Celeigh Room.’ Too adult swanky for the boozy times I preferred. It did have a whiff of queer about it.

After that I popped in on my niece the master horror writer Betty Rocksteady where we talked about writing, plotting, character & also some about my growing up & surviving the toxic masculinity of the times. I walked from her place to my sister’s on Royal Ave. Took pics on the way. One of the milkshake with the flags of all the provinces sticking out of it.


Finalized Fortress visit plans. Ordered another memory – a pizza from Napoli Pizzeria. Napoli was possibly the first pizzeria that opened in Sydney. I remember the excitement that Sydney was prosperous enough for the latest food craze. We felt the same way when KFC finally opened in Sydney. It is still in the same family. The pizza itself is just as good as I recall. In fact I’m ending now to have another piece 🙂


Sydney Academy 1

After graduating from Woodill the next step up the educational ladder was Sydney Academy – the big boys school. Senior High grades 10 – 11- 12. This was a was a relief mainly because although there were hills they weren’t as steep as the ones down Royal Ave. The walk was much shorter.

One building I remember is the dry cleaners, Snow White Laundry, which was directly across the street from the front entrance. It had a wall painting of, of all things, Disney’s Snow White & some of the dwarves. Looking out the windows facing Terrace St it was the one thing one always saw. The wall painting eventually went – maybe Disney copyright lawyers threatened to sur.

The main entrance doors were for teachers & visitors. We students entered around the side where the parking lot was. No lining up by classes. We had homerooms & moved from class to class, as opposed to the teachers moving from room to room. At Colby & Ashby we remained in one classroom the whole semester. Woodill may have been the same one room but I can’t recall. 

The building was larger than Woodill’s. Some students being bussed in. It was Sydney’s main public senior high – there was a Catholic equivalent – which was the school’s main sports rival. The school had a huge gym, a major phys-ed program that included basketball, volley ball, gymnastics. It did have a hockey team as well but that was a separate entity for boys who qualified for the team.

The school had science labs, woodworking & metal workshops & probably ones for domestic sciences as well. Lots of extra-curricular activities like Jr. Red Cross, Drama club etc. There was a cafeteria on the basement level, which is where the lockers rooms & showers for the gym were. Sock hops were held in this area too.

The social context was totally different from Woodill with the mix of students from across the city. It wasn’t particularly diverse though. Sydney did have a large black population but they were ‘confined’ to the Whitney Pier area – which, I think, had its own senior high. 

Coming next week: troubling locker room memories

Square Root

I wished him dead

every time I sat in his class

I wished he were dead   buried

not someone I had to face every day


I would only have to glance up at him

writing formulas on the black board

the drone of his voice 

and wish him dead


he would always call on me

to read out what he had written

I picture his brain exploding

bloody cosines gush from his nose

all over his spotless white shirt


I wanted a sharp steel edge 

on my protractor

to cut out his heart

save the class from algebra trig calculus

his stories of sailing

how he figured directions 

with his slide rule


die die die

so we can figure out the angle

to bury you so your rotting corpse

will slump into your penny loafers

bones a jumble of secants 

and underpants


the formula on the board

meant nothing to me

it could have been written in flame

blah blah squared 

equals something degrees


my feet burning by the time I sat down

he would pat me on the shoulder

say   you seem to be catching on

when I was really catching on fire

his abacus belt buckle at eye level


I’d stare at the rubble on my page

hope his hand would stay a bit longer

hope some of his knowledge could rub off

what was the angle of the dangle 

behind that zipper


if he were to die I wouldn’t have to wonder

about where to look 

when he stood so close


I leave the class

can’t remember a formula or anything

all I could see was that glint of belt buckle

and that wouldn’t be on the exam

every Tuesday 2019

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: 

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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors


Stratford Festival – The Crucible


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh? 

Cape Breton Day 3

Sadly the threatened thunderstorms didn’t full their predicted potential so we experiences another day of clear blue skies for driving & poking around shops. A storm would have made for some dramatic photos. My sister & I got underway around 10:30. One stop was at a Tim Ho’s – with the infamous Lick-A-Chick across the road (the chicken crossed to get licked then deep fried). Possibly one of the most photographed spots on the island.

I was meeting a friend from Toronto, now living in NS, who as going to be in Baddeck with some friends of his from the UK so there was some texting to confirms times & such. There was lots of time for us to kill so my sister stopped at a few look-off spots. We arrived in Baddeck at least an hour before the gang.

Baddeck exists for tourists & boaters. There is a local handicraft industry that built up over the years of ceramics ($95 for a soup bowl!!), photographs, things painted on things etc. It reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake only the quaint here is real & not theatrical.

The gang finally arrived & we had lunch at Three Doors Down. Basic food nicely prepared but if I never eat another French Fry I’ll be happy.  Lots of chit-chat about their touring around & hotel bookings issues. My friend & I didn’t get a chance to talk though, such is life, big hugs & some photos & we headed our separate ways.

Drove back via North Sydney, which figures large in my Coal Dusters novel, so I was happy to see some of the area, in particular the waterfront. The ferry to Newfoundland departs from here. The Heritage Museum was closed though so we make another run out there so I go in get more research done for the next draft of the novel. 

A full day 🙂


Cape Breton Day 2

I slept quite well my first night. My Travelodge room is very quiet for which I am grateful. Sticking sort of to my morning routine of readings. mediations, checking email & such. By then I was ready to make the biggest decision of the day – what to wear 🙂 I was ready for action by 10 a.m.

I double checked the location of the recovery meeting  at 11. I know the city well enough to find it but wanted to see if there was a shorter way of getting there. It was about a 35 minute walk. I knew I was in the right place when I cars pulling into a parking lot & people hanging around smoking 🙂 A very full house for a topic discussion.

I met up with my sister after the meeting & we went to Kay’s Kosy Korner for lunch. Friendly waitresses lead to talk about the history of Kay’s, which opened in 1952. I used to go there in my teens for their fries & gravy. Not much of the original remains though.

After that we went to the Open Hearth Park – that replaced the industrial waste of the Steel Plant. Parts had been taken over by this weeks Pride celebration. The parade ended up here. So it was a sea of rainbow everything, even ice cream. Drag Queens & pony rides 🙂 I did buy a tee-shirt. Over the past few years Pride has gotten bigger here in Sydney – it is a week of bar events. One non-bar event is a living library where members of the community will share their survival stories at, of all place, the regional library.

After an half-an-hour we ended up back at the Boardwalk so I could see what shops were open. There’s a dozen or so there but now they only open if there a cruise ships docking. Local don’t buy enough handmade (in China) souvenirs. Of course another ice cream was had. 

Spent an hour or so at our Royal Ave house. My sister telling be about changes & how she longs to shed much of the belongings of the past. It is like living in a 2nd hand store. But some for hat is there is worth treasuring. One object was a massive dictionary that was sold a section at a time over many weeks at Sobeys. I remember it from growing up. 

On the way back to the hotel we took a spin through Membertou, the Mi’kmaq reservation. Lots of smoke shops 🙂 Cigarettes clearly big business. It is now a part of the local community – as a child I remember it being off-limits & one rarely saw the natives in town. No they have two-spirit celebrations & Medicine Walks that includes making your own dream catcher (that way you can be sure it wasn’t made in Taiwan).

Another full day of walking, taking pictures & sharing some great family memories with my sister.


Cape Breton Day 1

The most difficult part of the trip is over 🙂 getting up at 3:15 a.m. to be at the airport for 6 for my flight scheduled to leave at 7:40. Everything at the Pearson went without a major hitch – my suitcase was under the limit, the flight only delay half-an-hour. Reading kept me interested.

My sister was waiting when I arrived around 11:40. We stopped at Forest Haven to visit our parents graves & to see some of the sites. We dropped my luggage off at the hotel & continued along King St. to Walmart & he’d lunch at the Retro Diner. Good burger, decent fries that hit the spot. 

After that up to the old homestead for a dishes etc for me use at the hotel. Pulled down my mother silver set, which my sister hasn’t seen for years. I remember it so clearly, the silver work on the handles always impressed me & seeing & handling it again brought back memories. I think it was a wedding gift to my mother form my father so it goes back to the early 50’s for sure.

Did some shopping at, of all places, Shoppers & Sobey’s, to take care of breakfast & before bed snack needs. Room ready at the Travelodge & I was impressed. large, airy, a couch! Sent my sister on her way so I could unpack, relax, get on line. Went for a walk at 6:30 to check out the Boardwalk. Sun was merciless. Had an ice cream & back to hotel by 8:30. Ready for bed & to see what Saturday brings. Maybe I’ll take in a meeting or maybe they Pride Parade.

Offenbach Orff

I had an lp to cd transfer of Jacques Offenbach’s  Overtures that I finally replaced with an mp3 download. It leads off an over 7 hour collection of music. I enjoy the Overtures but have refrained from his operettas, some of which I did see in my teens. My musical knowledge isn’t all the extensive so I’m not if all the overtures are for actual operas or merely suites. Pleasant & melodious.

I did see Carl Orff’s Orpheus once & have added that to this cd. Not as rhythmic as his Trionfi, which contains the choral warhorse Carmina Burana – if you think you don’t know it trust me you’ve heard sections of this choral work in hundreds of movies. I have this complete on a stand-alone cd. Great choral work.

I’ve also included mp3s of Richard Strauss’s orchestral suites from Don Juan, Macbeth, Tod und Verklärung. Emotional, almost suffocating and great for writing break-up scenes. Suites from actual operas. 

To lighten things up I added the Vivaldi String Orchestra’s The Four Seasons. I heard this in our car driving to Stratford one year & the engineering was stunning & the playing was so energetic I had to have yet another recording of the Season. It made sense to me to include Moe Koffman’s Four Seasons – this is an excellent jazz interpretation that everyone should have.

Finally because of the ‘plucky’ work by the Vivaldi String Orchestra I added the Taka Koto Ensemble which includes their variations on the Seasons plus new & traditional Japanese music for the koto. Another piece of music worth searching out if you haven’t heard it. 


The first rake after winter was one of my favourite days of the year. Even with some snow still here and there, the true warmth of spring had began to seep into the ground. Crocus tips were showing and soon flowers would be popping up. Without the tips I probably wouldn’t have remembered where I planted the bulbs in the fall.

The rake loosened the snow crushed grass and I could see some hints of the first green of lawn at the roots. The smell of stale earth was welcome.

‘How’s it coming?’ Bill from next door asked from his front walk.

‘Good. I guess. I just hope those squirrels don’t go on the same rampage they did last year. Still haven’t found way to keep them at bay.’

‘Fresh garlic?’

‘Only works for vampire squirrels.’

He laughed and went into his house. 

I had a dirty black-brown pile of leaves and twigs. Next task was to bag that mound to make space for the next mound. Wasn’t too bad. I’d put the chicken wire back down over the major beds. That had been the most effective deterrent that I had found. Even kept the birds from seeds. 

The afternoon sun felt good. Once I was done in the front yard I would go to the back. It was always more of a challenge. First to get the banks of snow along the shadow side of the fence – I’d dig them out into the sun. Distribute that wet more evenly as well or I’d have a swamp by the composter.

I’d only given the back a quick glance but even there I saw the welcome signs of growth. Plants couldn’t wait, could they? Once the temperature was right, they were so eager to wake up.

Funny, for me when the temperature was right I just wanted to curl up and sleep a little longer. 

Ah well, that’s the way of the world. First I’d see the front yard looked tidy and then that backyard morass.

Seed catalogues flipped open in my mind to all the wonderful things I could plant, things that I had tried but which never really looked like the photos. I guess I needed to be a camera man and not a gardener to get the garden I dreamed of.

‘Phone for you, Dave.’ My partner Dan poked his head out the front door. ‘Sounds important.’

That much I figured, as he usually would just let me putter and take a message.

‘Keep your eye on that pile.’ I said as I went to the house. Last year someone had walked off with my rake when I was inside, so now we joked about anything left out front.

‘What about the squirrels?’

‘If anyone wants to steal them, they are welcome to them.’

every Tuesday 2019

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 


Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors


Stratford Festival – The Crucible


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?