Ed’s Books and More

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IMG_4685 IMG_4686 IMG_4688 IMG_4689 IMG_4672 IMG_4673 IMG_4674 IMG_4676 IMG_4677 IMG_4678 IMG_4679 IMG_4680Yesterday I had a few minutes to spare in the morning after an appointment in downtown Sydney. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was bright and the wind was only moderate. So I went for a little walk to stretch my legs before having to return to school.

As I walked along George Street and then by the library to drop off some books, I remembered hearing an interview a couple of weeks ago on Information Morning with the owner of a newly-opened used book store on Charlotte Street. I decided to drop by and see it for myself.

The moment I stepped in the door of Ed’s Books and More, I felt at ease. Ed and Trisha were chatting with a friend, and they said hello to me. Ed broke away from his conversation to give me a quick tour of the place, asking me what kind of books I like to read, and then pointing out the various sections. The place is very well organized, cozy, and has so much to explore, from vintage books to modern, collectibles, pottery, wall hangings, sports memorabilia and vinyl. The prices are incredibly reasonable, too.

I said to Ed, “I could spend the whole day in here!”

Then he said, “Oh, and coffee and tea are complimentary!”

I’ll be scheduling a day soon to spend at Ed’s Books. I recommend you do the same, or at least a half hour. You’ll be glad you did.

Click here to be taken to Ed’s Books and More’s Facebook page.

Necessary info: Ed’s Books and More is at 446 Charlotte Street. They are open 9-5, Monday through Sunday, and you can call them at (902) 564-2665.

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lately – sharing isn’t always caring

IMG_3842 IMG_4641 IMG_4639 IMG_4626 IMG_4616 IMG_4620The blog has been quiet.

I knew it would be, but still, I don’t like it. I am a “sharer” in life: I like to share joy with others. I like to tell stories. I like to make eye contact and smile at strangers I pass on the street or in the hallway, sharing a brief moment of human connection. I like to go, “Isn’t this cool?!?” when I see something cool and there are people nearby. And I am still very much in love with and inspired by the island I live on. By Cape Breton, by the everyday things.

Social media and the Internet taking off like a wildfire has changed the word “share,” though. It’s made it an “action,” something you click to do, something you almost impose on your friends – “Here’s this thing I liked! And this thing! And this thing! Read it read it read it!”

And I’m getting burned out on it. I’m sick of reading news feeds, of staring at a screen, of waiting for statuses to update or messages to come in. I’m sick of the way it makes me expect immediate responses, the way it discourages me from waiting, from pondering. And I’m sick of how I get distracted in the middle of a task because I hear a noise from the phone or the computer, or I see the little number of messages or notifications change, and then twenty minutes later I come back to whatever I was doing before, feeling discombobulated.

I want the real world. I want birds at the feeder, snow on the window, cuddling with my honey, visits face-to-face with friends. I want walks around the neighbourhood. I want slowness. I want space to stare off into.

Last weekend I didn’t sign in to Facebook at all. I took it, and Instagram, and email, off my cell phone. I turned the phone back into … a phone. What a novel idea!

It felt so utterly good. I felt free, and private. I felt like my home actually had walls again, and people couldn’t see through them. That the reality I was in was the only reality, and my focus wasn’t split between it and some bizarre world of information bursts.

Maybe I’m over-sensitive, and maybe not everyone has this same reaction to social media – if so, you might not feel the need to limit your use of it. And, maybe not everyone uses it as much as I did.

But, oh well. That’s other people. I’m me. I follow my gut and my gut is telling me, privacy. And quiet. And solitude. And community, the old-fashioned way – in person. At least, for now.

I’m still using Facebook (and I feel like a drug addict, using the word “use” in that sense), but I’m using it less. I’m changing the places I use, making them fewer and far between.

So what does this all mean for a blog about following your dreams, and building community? For this writer it’s definitely pertinent. I mean, you’ve got to follow your gut on a long journey, where you don’t know how it’s all going to pan out. You’ve got to start the journey because of where you want to end up, certainly, but in order to get there you’ve got to do things sometimes that seem like they might change the dream. Like they might postpone it.

Because at the end of the day, the still, small voice inside of myself is my best guide.

Til next post, I’ll see you out in the real world.

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Update: Flash Mob video

Dancing with a group of women in public for attention to women’s rights and the crisis of violence against women was absolutely incredible.

Yesterday I felt buzzed all afternoon!

Then I went to see The Vagina Monologues that night. It was incredibly powerful to see these local woman performing the monologues about vaginas. It’s funny, sexy, sad, and empowering. They intersperse stories about sexual experiences, good and bad, and stories about giving birth, with facts about violence against women around the world. It made me feel … well, a lot of things. Pissed off. Proud. Excited.

That’s all I want to say about it right now. I’m still mulling it over and feeling it out. Perhaps a longer post will come later.

For now: dance! Cuz we’ve had enough. Dance!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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The other day in one of our classes we were allowed to make buttons! I stuck the design from a postcard I’m going to be making on one of the buttons – that’s the “I heart CB” one. The others are quick and dirty little graphics I made. I’m wearing these three buttons today.

February 14th is Valentine’s Day but it’s also the International day of action against violence against women. One Billion Rising is the name of the day. From their website: “When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent.”

I’m really excited to be taking part in the rising over at Cape Breton University – I can’t say any more than that now, but if you are in the cafeteria at 12:45, you will see what happens! And I’ll share more once it’s over.

Here is a post by Magpie Girl about choosing love – despite the difficulties. It’s beautiful, you should read it.

x’s and o’s!

Love, Leah

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What remains

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Last week one of my classmates very kindly offered to let me use her Canon Rebel digital SLR camera from now until April, as she’s not in the Photography class and isn’t using her camera much. As I’m still waiting (over a month now) for my EI claim to start, I’m quite broke and although I want to buy a used digital SLR for my photography class in school, I can’t. I can barely buy food at this point. Good thing my hubby* is earning, otherwise it’d be borrowing from the Bank of Mom for me. Or… not sure what. More loans?

(*We are not married. But somehow “hubby” seems a more comfortable and real term for him than “boyfriend”, which sounds less like someone you live with and want to spend your life with, and more like someone you play in the park with, I dunno.)

Back in 2010 on my other blog, I wrote about the idea of “what goes around comes around” – how what you put out there into the world affects how you are treated. (Sometimes. Not applicable to things like genocide or apartheid or random acts of violence.) So while it seems like a huge act of generosity on the part of my new friend, (and it is!), to lend someone a beautiful and expensive camera for several months, I’d like to think that it’s part of the give-and-take of relationships, and reflects the kindness I’ve shown her, as well. That’s how I’m interpreting it, so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.

Anyway: a new camera, sort of!! Yay! This is quite exciting. I already see the immense difference between the SLR and my little “point and shoot” Canon PowerShot, which does have some manual settings but nothing like the abilities of the SLR. While I’m not yet skilled or practiced with the SLR, I’m already loving the specificity of it – what to focus on, what speeds to shoot at, etc. I also like its heft, its weight, and the big-ass lens. “I’m a serious camera,” it says.

The photos above are some shots I took on a walk around North Sydney last week, as well as in my office (the jade plant).

While I’ve not got the time to expand these next ideas in longer blog posts, I do want to put them out there as “thinking points,” or something. Do always feel free to leave comments with your thoughts, however short or long.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about:

  • Being a writer and being a woman – seems to mean insecurity! It seems like both groups tend towards not knowing just how good they are at stuff. They are “plagued with self-doubt,” as a friend put it last week, a friend who happens to be an amazing photographer and a very smart person, to boot. It’s also the month where activists focus on fighting violence against women, so it’s on my radar, front and centre: the inequality that still lives like a virus in our society. That infects all of us, in one way or another.
  • Businesses close. People get burnt out. Organizations, for so many different reasons, can no longer do what they wanted to do at the start. People get tired of dealing with stupid, burden-some regulations** that keep them from doing seemingly sensible and productive things like sell products on their farms, or buying out a business, and so they move on to other things, other places. Depending on the moment, I either find this frustrating and discouraging, or I accept it as “part of life” and feel fine about it. Either way, it’s part of the scene of Cape Breton. I guess we all make our peace with the hurdles in our own way.
  • Cape Breton is so many different things to so many different people. (This one comes into my consciousness all the time, now that I write this blog and call attention to myself as some sort of “spokesperson”.) To some it’s home, a haven, a paradise. To others it’s depressing, it’s nowhere, it’s shooting itself in the foot. Can both of these views be true at once? And then there are all the shades in between. Which view will win out, and what do these views mean for our future, collective and individual?

I guess I’m still figuring it all out. What else can you do?

(edit: **I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any regulations at all. I’m saying that some regulations are plain ridiculous.)

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At Rockinghorse Ranch


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A couple of weeks ago I went out to Rockinghorse Ranch in Big Baddeck.

I’d driven past it many times on my way to see friends or hike at Uisge Ban Falls, but never gone to check it out.

The day I’d planned with Dale to go visit turned out to be a very snowy one, and I had to creep along the roads to get there, worrying as I did so that I shouldn’t have come. But once I got there – and was greeted vociferously by the guard dogs – I was glad I had come. The barn and arena was peaceful, a restful place to hang out and be with horses.

Jim, Dale’s partner, showed me and my Mum around (that’s Mum’s fur hood peeking out in some of the shots) and introduced us to all the horses, ducks, goats, chickens and llama that make up the population of the ranch.

I’ll definitely be going back in the spring for a longer visit and maybe even try riding a horse!

This is from the Ranch’s Facebook group:

“Rocking Horse Ranch is about bringing trust and hope back to horses, dogs and even people. Horses are good for our soul, healing our hearts.

The ranch was the last stop for many of the horses here. Through compassion and many hours of retraining these animals have blossomed into trusted and loving companions. Dale is convinced she can do this with any horse brought to her. She can fix bad behavior, big or small.

She teaches these methods to many of the young people and adult riders who frequent the ranch. They learn how by touching a horse in different ways you can reach their soul. This way of communicating is just one of the ways Dale teaches you about their language. Our horses will reach out to you and seek your friendship. When you walk into the barn you will hear a friendly whinny and you know you have stepped into their world.

NEW THIS SUMMER AT THE RANCH…
Horse Assisted Therapy
There will be sessions offered to special needs children or adults at the ranch. These sessions will help you learn how to think and stay calm, how to be a good friend, how to be a good listener, how to follow directions and it is great for learning social skills. Horsemanship will help with building self esteem, manners, and help them to understand their feelings.
The horses and animals at the Rocking Horse Ranch all have been rescued from an uncertain fate, they have all been rehabilitated and will be very happy to help everyone learn and grow. There is flexible scheduling for individual needs. Call Dale for more information on the sessions (902.295.2743), or feel free to stop by and see this very special barn.

Address of the Ranch ..is 1544 Westside Baddeck ,Baddeck ,Nova Scotia ,B0E1B0

My barn door is always open :).”

https://www.facebook.com/groups/67308215796/?fref=ts

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Differences

I think the urge to poke fun at someone with a difference from me – as slight as a mild difference in accent, or as drastic as someone who lives with a completely different experience of gender than I do – is always there. I’m a kind person but I’m also a cynical person, a sarcastic person. (No-one is just one thing.)

It’s what you do in the moment you feel that urge that matters. You can think your snarky, funny thought (the actual funny-ness depending entirely on who is hearing it), and then you can also go, “Oh yeah, this is a real person, just like me. With feelings. Memories. Rights.”

And, “I can learn something about myself, from them.” Isn’t that amazing?

This is an interview done yesterday on CBC’s program Information Morning with two members of Cape Breton’s transgender community. Check it out, it’s good.

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