lumiere, here i come!!

This coming Saturday, I’m so excited to check out Lumiere in Sydney!

lumiere1 lumiere2 lumiere3 lumiere4 lumiere5

(These are all photos of the 2012 Lumiere, courtesy of the lovely Alyce MacLean, the festival’s marketing coordinator.)

I hadn’t been able to attend the past two Lumieres, simply because the one-night festival has always fallen on the same weekend as the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, which I was attending as an organizer. From other people’s photos of Lumiere, however, I’ve always been intrigued by the cool-looking stuff, the lit-up storefronts, and the ‘rogue’ feeling of wandering around Charlotte Street at night, and wished I could somehow split in two and go to both events.

This year it worked out – the Cabot Trail Writers Festival is next weekend. So I was going to go to Lumiere this year anyway, but then the organizers asked me if I’d go and tweet/Facebook/instagram while I was there, as a “Social Media Volunteer”. Would I!?! Hells yes! As Adam will tell you, I hardly need a reason to bust out the social media anyway! But give me the title of “volunteer,” and baby, I will post the crap out of your event.

The hashtag to know is #lumierecb (that’s what I’ll be using to ‘tag’ my posts, whether on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and Lumiere has their own Twitter feed too, it’s @lumiere_art. And if you see me out and about, do come say hi! I love chatting with folks face-to-face best of all.

Posted in Art, Outdoors, Towns + communities | 4 Comments

louisbourg lighthouse trail + main-a-dieu


On Sunday I had the whole day free. I had worked hard on Saturday to get assignments done or at least partway done, because I knew I needed one day with no responsibilities, no assignments, nothing making a demand on me at all.


I didn’t make any plans for this “free” day, except that Adam and I planned we would make a nice breakfast together. I left the rest of the day “open” so that if I wanted to spend the rest of the day in bed reading, I could. (I knew what he was going to be doing – football season has started!) But then, as we were making breakfast and I saw how windy it was out and how nice and sunny, I realized, what I really wanted to do with the day was walk for hours outside somewhere, feeling the wind on my skin. IMG_8242

Last year when I went to Kennington Cove to swim, with my friend Stacey, after our swim we drove out to the Louisbourg Lighthouse trailhead. At the time, I hadn’t known there was a trail there, so it was a revelation to me. That particular day we didn’t have time to hike it, so we just walked a few feet down it and then turned back. So I knew that there was a trail there, and that it was in good shape.


Anyway, back to this past Sunday. I headed out. I didn’t pack any food, or wear proper hiking shoes. (My Birks have been pretty good to me over the years in a variety of terrain. I wasn’t worried.)


The first kilometer or so is flat gravel, and wide: a very good trail. It’s a loop that goes along the shoreline and then inland on the return. It was glorious and everything I’d been hoping for: wind, sunshine, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, and some time alone to just walk and think my own thoughts.

Where the loop trail turns around and goes back, I saw this sign (above). So, I went a little further. IMG_8252 IMG_8253 IMG_8254

And it got a little less Birk-friendly. IMG_8255 IMG_8257 IMG_8258

So after a bit of walking around big muddy spots, I turned back (and made a mental note to return soon with proper hiking boots).

IMG_8263 IMG_8264 IMG_8267

I stopped at the cobble beach on my way back through. I took off my sandals, and stood with my feet in the water, letting the waves crash over them. Man, it felt good! After a week of being indoors for most of the time (besides for when I take my morning walk or am walking from car to building), this girl needed some pure, unadulterated nature time. IMG_8270

And you can see just how happy it made me. 🙂

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After I got back to the car I realized I still wanted to explore a bit. So instead of driving straight back to Sydney and then home to North Sydney, I went out to Little Lorraine and Main-a-Dieu, just to see what was there.

IMG_8285 IMG_8287 IMG_8289 IMG_8291 IMG_8293 IMG_8296 I didn’t know that Main-a-Dieu beach had this beautiful set of boardwalks! And that the beach there is so nice! I will be coming back here for some “ocean time,” that’s for sure.

IMG_8302 IMG_8305 IMG_8306 IMG_8307 So it was a great excursion, and reminded me of the power and value in “coming home to myself”– making time to do those things that are for me alone. Lovely.

Posted in Leah's thoughts, Outdoors | 7 Comments

from the summer: i want to remember

IMG_7275 I want to remember that rich, sweet and delicious Baileys/raspberry/vanilla milkshake that Adam made me at 11 pm on a Saturday night in August.

I want to remember Mom’s chicken in the dutch oven with salsa and the new potatoes and how damn delicious that was, with butter and salt and hot pepper jelly.

I want to remember falling asleep on the sand on Florence Beach and how it made an X sunburn on my back.

And I want to remember getting up from that nap, groggy and still half asleep, and walking right into the ocean.

I want to remember texting Tanya and Jacquie pretty much every day from work while they were at work too. Pretty sure that’s a good chunk of what got me through the summer, was random “how are u chickie” messages.

I want to remember getting letters in the mail from friends in BC and Ontario.

I want to remember how much I missed gardening and how the lame, half-dried-out herb pots on the deck just didn’t cut it.

I want to remember how much I thought about weddings and babies. (An embarrassing amount.) (Spoiler alert: I’m not pregnant nor are we getting married any time soon.)

I want to remember walking every day and learning to see my own feet and my own daily surroundings as special.

I want to remember being at Grandpa’s service in New Jersey and shaking his ashes out of the tupperware container at the base of a tall tree, my eyes wet, while opera played on my aunt’s iPhone through speakers and everyone gathered there was quiet with their own thoughts or tears.

I want to remember the heavy rain in Toronto and how Adam went in that rain to get us a pizza from the place down the street that was still open despite the power outage.

I want to remember having beers with dear friends in Toronto the night before we left, and having one of my best girlfriends meet Adam for the first time, and how low-key and easy it was, and how good that felt.

I want to remember how I knew deep down inside that this was my last summer at the marina (barring all the possible unforseen circumstances between now and next year, of course!).

I want to remember how I went swimming even though I felt fat, even though my bathing suit was a bit tight, even though I was by myself, even though it was 8 pm and I was tired. And I want to remember that it was so totally worth it, because the swimming was awesome.

I want to remember the albums “Songversation” by India Arie, “Tender is the Night” by Old Man Luedecke and “Blackbird” by Fat Freddy’s Drop.

I want to remember that I got through the difficult bits. I got through the days where I was tired. I got through missing Adam. I got through the boredom and the irritation.

I want to remember that I slowed my own life down and loved it so much more that way.

I want to remember that I launched some rad cards and took my first very real step towards self-employment.

I want to remember that I fell back in love with blogging.

I want to remember that the reason I did was because I let go of an idea that was no longer working for me creatively and personally, and because I remembered that the reason people read blogs (including myself) is because they like the voice of the blog writer. Not necessarily because of what the blog is about.

I want to remember that I fell even more in love with Adam, even though nothing in particular happened to make this so, and that that was astounding to me, and made me realize: it just gets better every day. Love is that good.

I want to remember that I got to announce my first short story would be published this fall.

I want to remember enjoying TV: Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Breaking Bad. And not giving a damn or feeling bad about it.

I want to remember buying my second-ever car, the spicy and cute Pepper Potts.

I want to remember that I re-realized that when things feel shaky, or when things feel like they’re in a new place (beyond normal routines), I can always find myself again by being quiet, by taking a walk, by writing in a journal, by being reflective. Always. That feels good to know.

I want to remember that Sunday evening when nothing in the world could stop me from getting to Chimney Corner and drinking in every bit of that sunset.

I want to remember driving to Middle River one hot Saturday and eating an entire pint basket of strawberries, and throwing the leaves out the passenger side window as I would eat each berry, and that one missed the window opening and stayed on the window inside for weeks afterward.

I want to remember buying a pint of raspberries at Hanks Farm and then eating that in one drive too.

I want to remember that I gathered up the courage to contact an old friend I had lost contact with a few years ago, who I miss very much, and that I waited patiently for her reply. And that when she did write, we started up a correspondence again.

I want to remember getting excited over the fact that R&A Paper in Sydney offered to send us free replacement keys for the toiler paper dispensers (an employee lost the key two years ago and since then we’ve just been putting the toilet paper rolls on the backs of the toilets). And that when I messaged Flossie about it in MMS, she wrote back, “Did you ever think you’d get excited about extra toilet paper dispenser keys, Poopsie!?”

I want to remember all the FaceTiming with Adam and how I think that might have actually brought us closer together.

I want to remember how my Birks were pretty much falling apart from under my feet., and that I could feel the gravel on the marina parking lot on the bottoms of my feet. And being too poor to order new ones for a while there.

I want to remember emailing myself links and scraps of ideas, in between doing boring marina stuff.

I want to remember spending a big chunk of money I didn’t really have on a plane ticket to go see a friend get married in BC, after deliberating for months, and then once I had spent the money, being so glad I did, and looking forward to the trip for the rest of summer.

I want to remember that the trip was amazing.

I want to remember going back to school for the second year of my program and how much I love doing my homework. (Besides for the fact that it’s, you know, homework.)

I want to remember that this was the last summer of my twenties and definitely felt like the end of an era.

I want to remember this summer as truly one of the best.*

*Inspired by Elise, of course, and her “i want to remember summer” post from a few years ago.

Fall, I’m ready for you! Bring on the awesome!

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors | Tagged , | 6 Comments

“miss victoria standard”

IMG_8209 IMG_8210 This fall I got myself a subscription to the newspaper from home. The Victoria Standard is the local paper for the whole county of Victoria, which is large geographically but quite small in terms of population.

I now live only a 45-minute drive away from my hometown of Baddeck, but it’s enough distance that I feel disconnected from the day-to-day happenings and events there. So the newspaper, which arrives by mail every two weeks, makes me feel connected still.

I was reading it this morning with my toast and coffee, and it occurred to me how lucky I was to grow up in Victoria County. It’s filled with great people. Reading the newspaper, there are lots of names I recognize. People I adore, for their quirkiness, for their individuality, for just being part of the community. There is an article by Mona Anderson, who is a dear friend and fellow writer. There is a letter to the editor by Clarke Blynn, who is a neighbour and a client at the marina where I work in the summer. There is an obituary for Alistair Watt, another dear family friend, and in the same section, a poem written for Alistair by Aaron Schneider, another fixture on the North Shore, who I’ve known my whole life. There is an article by Alicia Lake, about Jocelyn Bethune and her project to make a documentary of the Silver Dart. I could go on — the election statements of Stemer, the op-ed piece by Chuck Thompson — but you get the picture.

Reading the paper and seeing all these names printed side-by-side on pages together was powerful. I’m grateful for a newspaper subscription to show me that, every two weeks.


Posted in Community, Day to Day Life | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

on being in second year


So as you might have been able to tell from the lack of the posts the last few days, I’m back in school and back “at it.” There is lots to do! Between all the assignments (which always take longer than I think they will), and home life (cooking meals, cleaning up, spending down time with Adam), suddenly my schedule has filled to the brim like a Tetris game that got out of control.

Here are some photos from the past few days to show you a bit of what I see every day now.

IMG_8170 My morning drive from North Sydney to Sydney.

IMG_8171 My assortment of stuff at my desk area.

IMG_8173 IMG_8174 IMG_8175 IMG_8176 This case holds a project my class did last year. The assignment was based on this poster publication by American designer Paul Rand. For our individual posters, we had to make a shape to represent one of the courses offered by NSCC, then put the letters “N S C C” in the white space, in the same font and style as the school uses. The solid colour of each oster corresponds to the colour of the “school” that that particular course is categorized in, i.e. School of Applied Arts, School of Business, etc. The one I made is the green one on the top row, fourth from left. Can you guess which course it’s representing?

IMG_8177 My classroom is through the glass on the left, in the background. The foreground is a little “waiting area” room for client meetings or for hanging out.

IMG_8178 Exterior of NSCC, seen from the back. This is the entrance I use because it’s closest to the parking lot I end up parking in. (I arrive in time for a 9:30 class, where a lot of the student body start class at 8:30, so the front lot is usually full.)

IMG_8180 I feel like such a kid when I’m wearing a backpack. “No really! I’m almost thirty! I swear!”

IMG_8181 The rest of the “schmear” that I haul into school every day: purse and lunch bag.

IMG_8182 IMG_8183 IMG_8184 For some reason this year there are way more cars needing parking spots. So they are putting in a new lot.

IMG_8186 And this is the front of the school! They love their Helvetica, as you can see.


In some ways, going back to school, I feel like a new mom. I mean, it’s not as overwhelming, for sure, as caring for a newborn. I get that. But it is taking me some time to get my feet back under me. (And this post by Elise today about how she adjusted to the birth of her firstborn, and how long it took her to feel like ‘herself’ again, was interesting for comparison.)

For example, my office is a mess (well, mostly – I had to clear some stuff to make room to work on schoolwork!). My house isn’t getting the kind of deep cleaning I want to give it. (A random sweep here and a toilet scrub there is just going to have to do.) I haven’t worked on my scrapbook or the yard, both of which I’m just itching to get back into. There are lots of friends I want to be having tea or dinner with. But I find that after I get all my schoolwork done, make a meal for me and Adam (with his help!), clean the kitchen, and watch some TV at night, there is just no more available time. I’m proud that I’m getting a little exercise in the mix almost-daily. But it hasn’t been every day, that’s for sure.

Anyway. It’s all good. But it’s interesting – I can definitely feel that second year is different. It’s more serious. I both love that, and am scared by it. I feel more committed to the course, to my “career,” and to the unavoidable fact that good work takes time. And I feel more comfortable saying “no” to anything that cuts into the time I need for those essential things.

Another post by a blogger I follow that I found really made me go “huh!” this week, and made me rethink how I act moment-by-moment, was this one by the girls at A Beautiful Mess. In it they talk about how they don’t often mention just how busy they get and how stressful it can be. They love their jobs, for sure, but they have hard days too. They say, “Happiness is a choice.” And it reminded me, that even when it feels like things are piling up, and that I’ll ‘never get through it all!’, that that’s no excuse to be grumpy or not to smile at those around me, and say ‘hello’ and ask how they are doing.

Anyway! Lots of thoughts on the brain lately and I’m jotting them down for future posts, as I work my way through the assignment list.


If you’re curious about the whole ‘going back to community college in your late twenties’ thing, here are some posts from last year, that I wrote, about attending college:

Posted in Day to Day Life, Education, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

true grit










Last week one of my instructors, Brian Geary, brought our design class over to CBU’s art gallery. (It’s a five minute walk from the NSCC campus.) We went over to see the show currently in the gallery, “True Grit: The Urban Folk Creations of David P. Stephens and Kyle B. Jackson.”

We were given a lovely tour by Sarah Roth, and had fun checking out the car (yes! a whole car!), as well as the other pieces by the artists, and the “reference” gallery, which would be work by other Nova Scotia folk artists that is in the CBU gallery’s permanent collection. The work was great, really fun and colourful, and it was rad to break up a day of sitting in the classroom with a short walk and a roam around an art gallery. In fact, I might make a habit of it. After all, the gallery is free!

Posted in Art, Day to Day Life, Design, For Fun | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

morning routine






Now that I’m back in North Sydney full time, and back to school, which doesn’t start til 9:30, I have a new morning routine. I love it.

I wake up when Adam does (6 am), then make us both our breakfast and lunches. He leaves at 7. Then I go for a walk. I’m usually still half asleep, but it doesn’t matter – a body in motion is a good thing. I do a couple of turns around the walking trail at Munro Park, just down the street, and then back up the hill to the house. Then I unroll my yoga mat, light a candle, and sometimes turn on some “woo woo” music, some sort of Chinese flute/massage music that I got from my Mom. I do some yoga and meditation for maybe another 15 minutes. Then I get dressed and ready for the day. (I’m not a fussy make-up sort of gal, so getting dressed and ready for school takes maybe ten or fifteen minutes at the most.)

I really love getting outside for a walk every morning. Since I spend my days mostly inside, at a computer, I feel like getting started moving that early means that I don’t get lazy during the day, that I enjoy every little bit of walking that comes along in the day after. It’s a reminder to my body to sit up straight, to move, to not get stuck in one position.

Posted in Day to Day Life, Health, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment