“but what she really likes to do is write”


It’s funny how life goes. How things happen, and when we’re in the moment they don’t seem like much, but then they take on significance after the fact.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something that happened earlier this season, back in June, I think it was.

It’s not that extraordinary and yet it was a defining moment of this summer, for me.

What happened was: I was walking along the sidewalk from the post office and I looked over at the Highwheeler Cafe’s patio. I saw Deanie, a woman I used to work for about six or seven years ago, having coffee with someone. I was in a funk that day (and truth be told, that whole month) but seeing Deanie was an instant pick-me-up. I hadn’t seen her in a while and had been thinking about her recently, wondering how she was. So I immediately crossed the street and called out to her, going up to where she was sitting on the patio.

We hugged and had a brief catch-up chat. “What are you up to these days?” she said, and I recounted the Coles Notes version of my life lately. I told them both that I was in school for Graphic Design, and that I was currently working for the summer at Baddeck Marine.

Deanie turned to her friend and said, “But what she really likes to do is write.”

At the time, I remember that it struck me as odd that she said that, because I hadn’t been writing much. Blogging, at the time, was failing to inspire me, and I was so very busy with the marina and with some design work on the side, that I hadn’t paid much attention to writing in ages. It’s like when someone reminds you of an ex-boyfriend you dated years ago and you go, “Oh my god, that’s right, I used to date him!” and it feels weird because a person who was so close to you is so not a part of your life anymore.

And a part of me got annoyed, too, although I didn’t show it to her. I remember thinking, “Who is Deanie to say that about me? She hasn’t seen me in ages, she obviously doesn’t know me anymore! Writing – pssht! As if that’s what I really like to do.”

We finished up our brief conversation (I was on my lunch break and taking a walk) and I went on my way.

Although I can’t remember with precision, since this little meeting was so brief and took place in the middle of a bunch of other days exactly like it, I think, looking back, that it was during that time that I started feeling really overwhelmed with all that was on my plate and had to do some cutting back.

And because I had a bit more time, as well as to sort out the emotions I was feeling, I started writing again. In my journal by hand, and also on the blog here, just for the joy of it. Not for any particular purpose (like editing interviews, or writing about local businesses or events, or whatever), but just because it made me happy to do it.

Then I got the news that a story I’d submitted two years earlier (and kind of forgotten about) was going to be published in an anthology. I remember thinking when I heard that, “That’s cool and all, but that’s not really what I want to do anymore, is be a writer.”

But it turns out Deanie was right. Sometimes the truth is sitting right in front of you, so obvious it’s invisible. Yes, I’m still studying Graphic Design, and yes, I still love it and want to do it for a living. But I’d neglected the part of me that writes, that has written since I was a little girl, simply because of how good it feels to take pen to paper or fingers to keys. I’d neglected it not on purpose but because I had filled up the time on my schedule with lots of other things. (And I’m gathering my thoughts and will post sometime in the future about what slowing down has been teaching me this summer, and how I want to be intentional about “taking it easy” in the months and years to come.) One of the things on my plate was co-coordinating a writers’ festival, but what my heart was really longing for was to write!

Funny how it all works.

Posted in For Fun, Leah's thoughts, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

fifty percent

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Well here goes nothin!

My friend Alicia is on her third year of eating 100% local for the month of September. This year a bunch of people have pledged to join her in eating 50% local.

Including me.


I have no idea if I’ll actually make it to 50%. I have my doubts. (I’m a creature of habit. And September is going to be busy, with a quick trip to BC for a friend’s wedding, and school starting up again.) But I’m going to give it a shot. And I think that making some changes is better than nothing, so that’s what I’m aiming for. More thoughts/pictures/adventures to follow, no doubt!

If you want to join the “50% Local September Club”, you can do so literally on Facebook here, or just figuratively, by eating 50% local Cape Breton foods for the month of September!


I’m a bit sad that I have to miss the “Stronger than Steel” event this weekend at the Open Hearth Park in Sydney due to work. It sounds like it’s going to be an amazing time! Free admission, amazing entertainers, the “Right Some Good” food festival — so much goodness!


Labour Day weekend – the unofficial end of summer – will find me working my last few shifts for the summer at the marina. It’s bittersweet, of course. On one hand I’m so ready for school to start up again, to be back in North Sydney in one house, to finally tackle my tip of an office, and to cook each night with my honey. But on the other hand, it was a good summer. (I’ve got a post in the works with some of my favorite memories.) It pushed me in some ways, for sure, and looking back, I’m glad it did.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Have a great weekend! See you on the other side.


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Good things:

  • kittens
  • friends
  • bare feet in grass
  • beautiful light
  • swimming in the ocean
  • impending rain
  • old apple trees
  • fresh berries staining my hands
Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

things i failed at this summer





  • Gardening.
  • Riding my bike.
  • Keeping my office tidy.

(I’m not worried about these things, to be honest. It’s just kind of funny. I guess no matter what, something’s always going to slip by the wayside!)

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you win some, you lose some

seal island bridge

The Seal Island Bridge from the Boularderie side, down near Big Bras d’Or.

The other day, a customer and I were chatting.

He sells bread at various farmer’s markets and was remarking on how his sales were down this year over the last couple of years.

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I said. “What do you attribute that to?”

“Well, overall, we just don’t have the population base for me to have as many regular customers as I need,” he said.

“Yup,” I said. It’s true – a big reason that a lot of rad businesses don’t last here is simply down to numbers. What would work in Toronto or Halifax, and what some people here would love to support, just doesn’t necessarily work here, or has to work on a much smaller scale.

“But, that’s partly what I like about the place, too,” He said. Meaning, he likes that there aren’t many people, that there is lots of space to be alone.

“Yup,” I said again.

What are you gonna do, eh?

Posted in Day to Day Life, Towns + communities | Tagged , | 5 Comments

in praise of things that are free


A wall somewhere along Charlotte Street, Sydney.


The dinner favor at a wedding I went to on Friday night.


Girlfriend shoes!


My new friend.

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It was a good weekend.

I hadn’t had a Sunday off from work (and not been travelling) in a couple of months. It was a “real” weekend and it was glorious.

Friday I had the day off, and that morning I had to go to Sydney for a meeting. I parked by the library and walked up the street, stopping first at Shoesmiths to drop off some Birkenstocks that had seen better days and needed some life put back into them. I had a really nice chat with the owner, Scott, about local business, giving tourists advice, and the local restaurant scene. Then I walked on up the street to the Bean Bank Cafe for my meeting. Afterwards, I drove home to North Sydney and had some lunch, then got ready for the wedding I was attending that afternoon.

The wedding was beautiful. A small and meaningful ceremony at a beautiful inn in Bras d’Or, then dinner and a dance at the Lingan country club. I met some lovely new people (Hi Ashleigh!), and danced in my bare feet to both country music and Arabic pop. (My friend from Cape Breton was marrying a man from Egypt, who is now living in Truro. The world is a big and beautiful place.)

Then on Saturday morning I took a walk around our neighbourhood and a sweet dog decided to join me from his driveway on. On the way back he stopped at the driveway, I told him to stay and he did. So that was nice. I miss having pets and hope someday soon to get a cat or something, but there is something so nice about walking with a dog.

That afternoon we packed up the truck and went ‘over the mountain’ (both Kelly’s and Hunter’s) to Adam’s cousin’s cabin in Middle River. (This is the post from when we went there last year.) There is no cell service or Internet there and I actually really liked that. I do find myself in my day-to-day life reflexively reaching for my phone when there is a lull in action, around twenty to thirty times a day, just to ‘check in’ with my various online selves (Instagram, email, Facebook), and so to not have that, and just have to focus on the action (or lack of it) at hand, was really relaxing.

We got back home mid-afternoon Sunday. Although my office is a frigging mess (and has been all summer), and I am just itching to get to it and organize things, I decided instead to finish out the weekend by putting all the camping gear away, doing a wash and hanging it on the clothesline, and then napping on the couch with Adam. Then we ordered pizza. Life is good.


Update on the Bell Museum stuff: there was a meeting on Saturday in Baddeck between Parks Canada officials, and the local municipal councillors. If you want to get on the mailing list from the anonymous “Concerned Citizens” who helped organize this community protest against reduced museum hours, email “keep.bellmuseum.open@gmail.com”.

The latest email I received from them said:

The turnout yesterday at the Bell Museum wasn’t great (but understandable considering the late notice and our not being able to give a specific time until the last minute) but the end result is fantastic!

Thank you to all those who emailed to say they wanted to come but couldn’t because of work. (understandable on a Saturday in August in an area where employment is mainly in the tourism industry!)

Thank you to the news media for covering this story and helping make Parks Canada pay attention to the problem.

Thank you to the local business people and municipal officials for insisting on a meeting with Parks Canada officials. You were obviously very persuasive and the community is very grateful.

Thank you to Parks Canada for taking the problem seriously and then actually doing something about it. We hope that you will stick it out and not change course next season.

We hope that this has shown everyone that a few people can make change happen!

Now we have to work together to make sure that our tourism numbers stay up and to promote the Bell Museum to everyone that comes to visit us. It is a treasure that we are so lucky to have and unlike many other tourism attractions, has a story that is of interest to people from all over the world!


Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Outdoors, Towns + communities | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

getting out and about

photo-13 photo-14 Two days ago, at work, Flossie messaged me in MMS (that’s the computer system that’s on her computer upstairs and the front desk computer too, and that we all have profiles in, and use to send each other messages) to ask if I wanted to go to the market with her. Cindy was at work to cover my break for me, (normally it’s Flossie who covers for me), so I said yes. Of course! Flossie rocks and the market rocks, so it was a no-brainer.

We got butter chicken and samosas, and sat and ate them. Natalie Arsenault of Maritime Rideshare was there and we got to chat in person – it was so nice to meet her, and her little girl Melody, and partner Pepito. (I connected with Natalie last year when I helped promote her website here.) Then Jenny and Donna Johnson came over and said hello – more people I usually see online. On my way to the cupcake table for dessert, I stopped to chat with Nona Dyke, and her friend Anne MacDermid, who told me she reads this blog (Hi Anne!). Linda Wright waved from her pottery table. Other people came and went and smiled or stopped to chat.

Then when I was back at work, a beautiful family stopped by the front desk where I work, and the mama introduced herself by saying she reads this blog too! They live in England but have a family member living here in Cape Breton. Hi Corinna! (I hope I got that right?) Thanks for stopping in, I’m so glad you did!

So all of this really made my day, on Wednesday. It showed me that it’s so worth it to get out of my comfort zone and out of my daily routine, both in terms of writing a blog and putting it out there (making the time to do that every day), and in terms of actually physically going to local places like the market and spending that oh-so-valuable-and-irreplaceable face-to-face time with other people.

Because that’s what community comes down to. Other people. In the same place as me. Sharing something: a meal, a smile, a chat about weather, a love of this place.


Well, I’m off to a wedding this afternoon! This seems to be the summer of weddings for girlfriends whose names start with J, for me. There was June’s last month, now today it’s Joy’s. And in a few weeks, Jess’s. Weird!

Have a great weekend! Even if you’re working.

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