Sacred Sundays: Red Island Trail

IMG_8711 This past Sunday, the 6th, was the third one in a row that I have been able to go for a hike by myself, somewhere in nature. (It can be by the ocean, or by a river, or just woods with no water. Wherever. As long as it’s relatively free of other people’s impact.) As I mentioned in last week’s post about Uisge Ban Falls, I find time in nature to be very calming, as well as spiritually grounding. (The first week was the Louisbourg Lighthouse trail.) I didn’t set out to do a “Sacred Sundays” series on the blog or anything, but it seems to work, since I take pictures anyway!

IMG_8712 So this past Sunday I was in North River for the Writers Festival. That had started on the Friday, gone all day Saturday, and then wrapped around 2 on Sunday. My plan was to return home to North Sydney after that.

IMG_8713 But, I knew I wanted to get a solo hike in, before I headed back ‘over the mountain’ and back to ‘real life’.

IMG_8715 IMG_8718 IMG_8719 The Red Islands trailhead is at the church at the Barrachois River Bridge. I don’t have more specific directions than that at the moment, mainly because I am too lazy and busy to go further than the first page of Google search results to see if there is anything I can link to. If someone asks, though, I will write more specific directions and edit this post.

IMG_8721 At the top of this hill of rocks (above)… you see this:

IMG_8723 IMG_8726 And then once you scramble down the other side, you are on the beach.

IMG_8731 IMG_8732 The trail also takes you by a freshwater lake.

IMG_8733 IMG_8736 IMG_8737 I just love the word ‘bracken’.

IMG_8739 IMG_8743 Flagging tape will always remind me of my Dad, a forestry worker who always has half-used rolls in his coat pockets.

IMG_8745 The trail takes about an hour to walk all around (it’s a loop) at an average pace. There are a few inclines but nothing major.

IMG_8748 Above: Waiting in line at the Englishtown Ferry. Time to go home. I both did and didn’t want to leave: I love to go home, get into PJs, and relax after a busy weekend, but I also wanted to stay in the outdoors, breathing that sea air, for a while longer.

At least I am not too far and I can make the trek another Sunday!

Posted in Day to Day Life, Environment, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What I saw: Cabot Trail Writers Festival 2013


In one word: yeah!!!

In two words: love it.

In three words: so much goodness.

That picture above is from heading over the Englishtown ferry on my way to North River on Friday.

IMG_8663 The gala Friday night, featuring a collaboration between Otis Tomas and Carmel Mikol.


My friend Kathy, that I stay with whenever I go to North River for the festival, seems to get a new kitten every year. This is Julie. And yes, I took videos – I’ve got to figure out how to get those up on the ol’ Internet. I’m sure my ratings would increase tenfold!


Saturday morning at the Hall – the view from the front door. The bookmobile came and hung out too. IMG_8678 Me wearing the volunteer button, at my station, the front door.

IMG_8680 Lunchtime!

IMG_8681 I wrote a little note to myself in the copy of the book I was reading from. (This is the short story that’s being published in a book later this month.)

IMG_8682 IMG_8685 IMG_8689 The view from the Chanterelle Inn, where I went to pick up Peter Robinson. That’s right, I got to play chauffeur to one of the world’s best crime writers! And yes, he’s a really nice man.

IMG_8694 IMG_8695 After dinner in the St. Andrew’s Church basement, we were treated to comedy acts by Maynard Morrison and Bette MacDonald. So funny! “Cripes dear!”

IMG_8697 Sunday morning, the view across from me at the front door table. Community Hall bulletin board.

IMG_8698 Books I bought at the Readers’ Market (a small bookstore set up on the stage of the hall) – one by each featured author, and an extra one from Peter Robinson. Got them all signed, of course! That’s one of the best parts of the festival!

IMG_8702 Hall chairs and hall floor.

IMG_8707 Sunday morning panel discussion.


Overall, it’s such a great festival. It’s filled to the brim with laughter (so much laughing!), smiles, good words, comrades in the writing lifestyle, and of course, delicious food. So much good food, I can’t even begin to describe. It’s healthy food but it’s also really tasty. And there is lots of it.

Going out there, to North River, is a retreat for me with no cell phone service. Specific houses have internet but I didn’t bother getting my friend’s wifi password (plus I think I asked her for it last year and she couldn’t remember where she’d written it down). So I took it as a welcome break from checking my phone for text messages and Facebook updates. (Sorry – I love using Facebook to promote stuff and stay in touch with people, for sure, but I also really love a break from it.)

Going there is also, for me, a trip into the past. From the age of seventeen to twenty-two, I would live there in the summer season. I would board with a family friend and work in a pottery shop and studio that was in an old schoolhouse. I made lots of friends, had a few boyfriends over the years, and lots of adventures. Going there now, for a weekend, at age 29, is odd and a strange little trip back in time, to places I spent a lot of time and had a lot of formative experiences. It’s good, overall, for sure. But strange. You probably have places like that yourself, and know what I mean!

Anyway. The festival is so great. It’s a real gem.

Afterward, I wasn’t ready to go home, so I went for a little hike. I’ll share the photos of that tomorrow!

Posted in Art, Community, Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Towns + communities, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

sun is shining

carlinenscc nightswimmer northsydneysunrise “Weather is sweet, makes you wanna move, your dancing feet.”

Here’s something fun: the Pumpkin Spice Playlist at A Beautiful Mess (last year’s playlist).

There is no Bob Marley on it (who is the artist who inspired the title of this post) but I’m listening to it this morning while I sit in the library at NSCC and hang out waiting for class. I was inspired this morning to leave early and get to school in time to be in the paved parking lot, not “the airport” as we like to call it (the overflow gravel lot). No real reason why, I guess just so I could say I did it. It’s honestly an extra thirty second walk to be in the furthest parking lot, i.e. “not a big deal at all,” but, you know. Whatevs. It’s the little things in life, haha.

Today I have class from 9:30 til 12:30 and then I’m going to head home, do the dishes, (the never-ending dishes!), pack up my stuff, and head to North River, which is here:

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.53.46 AM There is no cell reception there, that I’m aware of, so I won’t be able to tweet or Instagram during the festival, unless I find some Wifi. Which, is possible. Who knows.

Oh and yeah! In case you didn’t know, I’m going to North River for this: the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. The last two years I was one of the directors of the festival. This year I am not, but I am volunteering for it, so you’ll see me at the box office table, as well as on Saturday at 2 pm, reading from my about-to-be-published short story, Night Swimmer. (Published by this rad local publisher, Third Person Press, in the new anthology Grey Area.)

There will be a book launch later this month and I’ll post details about that next week sometime.

Here are a couple more posts about the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. It’s so much fun, guys: check it out if you can!

OK, have a great weekend, get outside if you’re able to and soak up the beauty of Cape Breton! Or of wherever you are.

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in the middle of some “busy”


First there was Lumiere last weekend, for which I did social media (and posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook here, which you can see even if you don’t have a Facebook account).

It was mind-blowing and really fun, and I’m gathering thoughts for a post soon about just that event, what I saw, what I felt and what I learned. IMG_8569

Then the next day, Sunday, I made a trip to Baddeck to attend a board meeting of the Bras d’Or Stewardship Society. This picture above is my late lunch at Tom’s Pizza.


Then there was the Vital Signs report which was released this week at CBU. I was invited by the local Information Morning show to be part of a panel discussion about it, so that meant reading the report further and deeper than I might have otherwise. (Photo above is from the launch event at CBU. The theatre was more full than that, but the front rows were empty. Funny how that works! Everyone wants to sit at the back.)

IMG_8619 IMG_8621

Then on my way to the radio station yesterday morning I was pulled over for a speeding ticket. I wasn’t going super fast, but I was over the speed limit of 100. At least I had left early to get to the station in lots of time! With this interruption I just made it on time.

IMG_8623 IMG_8624

Steve Sutherland and Mike Targett in studio. (Not pictured: Brandon Ellis.)

You can listen to our panel discussion here. IMG_8639 And then some stickers I had ordered arrived! Between schoolwork (which takes priority) and life (making food, sleeping) I honestly do not have the time to list them yet on Etsy, plus this weekend I’ll be away in North River volunteering at the Cabot Trail Writers Festival. Hopefully next week my daily life can slow down to a more normal pace again. I miss having a spare ten minutes where I can stare off into space! As weird as it sounds, staring off into space is crucial to the creative process. (Really!)

Sometimes I think back to the people who said to me when I first moved home, “But what are you going to do? You’re going to be so bored!” and I just laugh. It’s a crazy laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless.

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extra extra

newsboyicon These days: eat, sleep, design. Repeat.

(Above: a screenshot of designing an icon for a class project. I’ll likely share the process in whole at some point here on the blog.)


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sacred sundays: uisge ban falls


I was raised by an agnostic and a Buddhist, both of whom didn’t care one way or another for church services. As a result, my brother and I weren’t discouraged nor encouraged to attend church – if we wanted to, we could, but our parents weren’t going to take us.

Because of this upbringing I’ve explored a variety of faiths and traditions, not necessarily trying them on, but listening to their perspectives. Checking them out. Deciding for myself if I think God exists, and what form he or she might take.

As it turns out I do think there is a God. But I’m not convinced He is a man, in the sky, making judgements. (If that’s your personal view, that’s cool too, though. It’s all good. Just don’t hurt anyone else, that’s how I feel.) I believe God is in all of us, and all around us, and everywhere else too. I think God is man, woman, earth and sky all rolled into one. Beyond that I don’t know. I think there is a lot I don’t know about the world, but that I ought to respect its magnitude and bounty nonetheless.


Last Sunday I went out to Louisbourg and hiked the lighthouse trail. Alone. I walked and thought and walked some more. It felt like church, like a place I could go to bring my thoughts and worries to God. But it was outside – which is where I itch to be, all the time. I really hate being inside most of the time, to tell you the truth. I do it, because that’s life and that’s how things go. But if I can have a window open, I will. I need that air, I need to feel the open sky above me.


When I did that hike last week, it felt so damn good that I pondered making it a personal tradition on Sundays to go hiking alone somewhere. My kind of church, like. I thought about how often through the fall I might be able to do this, and how often schoolwork or family commitments or other things might get in the way. And as half of a couple, I was a bit fearful of taking a dedicated time that is just for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman – maybe men don’t feel the same way – but I feel that as women anyway, we’re taught to make personal sacrifices for the “good of the couple”. I wondered if my boyfriend would get annoyed with me for saying NO even to him and his needs, and going off on my own. I don’t like conflict and I wasn’t sure if I’d value this alone-in-nature-time enough to fight for it.

IMG_8578 IMG_8586 IMG_8590 IMG_8593 IMG_8600 But then, this Sunday, I was in Baddeck for a board meeting (of the Bras d’Or Stewardship Society – my one remaining steady volunteer commitment). Afterwards I was going to have dinner with my mom. In between the two, it was a beautiful day so I decided to go out to Uisge Ban Falls and walk.

And it felt so darn good, again. Just like the Sunday before, I was by myself and got to ‘decompress’. Do mental stretches, breathe deep, relax. Be surrounded by nothing but the glorious nature, the beautiful spirit.

And as it turns out, I don’t think Adam really cares what I get up to, as long as he gets to watch football on Sundays!

So there is a good chance this will continue into a tradition, for me, going out for some solo nature time on Sundays. Any suggestions on good spots to go?

Posted in Active living, Environment, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

local design, part 1


Last week I had to be in downtown Sydney for an appointment and I was early. So I took a walk around. As I’ve mentioned before, when you’re a designer and studying it every day, and focussed on it so much, the “real world” comes alive with all the different logos, applications for design, and font treatments. They are literally everywhere! Signs, symbols, handwritten, colour choices, storefronts – all of these things fall under the umbrella of graphic design. All of these things were designed by a person, who made decisions about how things would look. Things like, how far apart the text is, what colour it is, and all the other factors that will make the finished product do its job.

IMG_8333 IMG_8334 IMG_8337 IMG_8338 IMG_8339 IMG_8340 IMG_8341 IMG_8342 IMG_8343 IMG_8344

Then later I stopped by Sobeys and ended up snapping this one. IMG_8345 Deciding whether the various bits of design look good or not isn’t my goal here. My goal is just to collect bits of the design in the real world all around me, and to give you a glimpse into what I notice all day, every day, now that I’m a graphic design student.


Have a great weekend and I hope to see you out at Lumiere in Sydney tomorrow night!

Posted in Day to Day Life, Design | Tagged , , | 1 Comment