earth day birthday

The twenty-second of April is my birthday, and it’s also Earth Day.

When I was maybe seven years old, one of my little friends who lived in Antigonish, where, apparently, there was a big annual Earth Day celebration, was visiting me. (We didn’t have a community Earth Day party in Baddeck in the 1990’s, at least, not that I remember.)

I remember that she said, with the kind of authority that only a seven-year-old can have, “You know, no-one’s going to come to your birthday party, they’re probably all going to be at the Earth Day party at the hall.” I was worried! Thankfully, the guests did arrive that day.

But every year, I share this day with Earth Day, and as the years have gone by, Earth Day has become a bigger and bigger deal (unfortunately, I suppose, as it’s because pollution and degradation is getting worse every year). I’m glad though, to share my birthday with it, as it feels like an extra thing to celebrate. An added bonus to turning a year older and celebrating being born. Celebrating the planet that gave me life, and which in the springtime feels so hopeful. (I don’t think Earth Day would work in, say, November.)

(And if you hadn’t guessed, I’m a big fan of birthdays, and of celebrating them as much as possible. It boggles my mind that some people – like my boyfriend, ahem – are not, that their birthday to them “is just like any other”. He’s catching on, though.)


My whole life, my birthday has coincided with the daffodils poking up out of the ground. They are like an extra present; I love to walk around the garden and search for their new tips.


Me at 2 years old, very attentively unwrapping a birthday present.


“Sweet! A guitar!”


I still get pudding all over my face.


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“Black Betty”

photo-2 I just cried a bit over a car, y’all.

But she was not just any car. Black Betty was my first car. I bought her back in 2010. With my own money, and I paid off the loan, and I drove her all over the island. And over to PEI, and into Halifax.

She meant freedom, independence, and exploration, for me.

I’ll get another. But nothing is ever like your first.

(I’d also like to mention that I donated Betty to the Kidney Foundation of Canada. They do this great service where they’ll arrange to get your car towed away and give you a tax receipt. It just has to have all four tires on it.)

Coming soon: a post about riding the CBRM’s public transit! (For reals.)


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dear Rita.


It seems that between the Boston Marathon tragedy day-before-yesterday, the loss a few weeks ago of Jay Smith, and now the loss of Rita MacNeil, there is a lot of cause for contemplation and quiet moments on the island.

The lesson, I think, is love. Let flow the tears, the condolences and the compassion, and let us act out of love wherever possible.

I loved the story that this little quote is from:

“Several times during lunch, Janet would gaze at the photo of Rita on the CD she clutched in her hand (a CD, incidentally, that Rita had given her, signed, as a birthday gift) and then look up at Rita, in the flesh, sitting right next to her at the table. This seemed to be a wonder that Janet could barely comprehend. And then she would tune into the music coming over the speakers, which was (of course) Rita MacNeil. She would look up at the speakers, at her CD, then again toward her host, in absolute amazement. This woman was even more incredible that Janet had imagined!”

(Thanks Parker for sharing this story by Jenn Power from her blog, Disability-Possibility.)

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magic vs. hard work


Christmas Dinner 2008.


Charlie Cook showing me how to graft an apple tree, 2009.


Carmel Mikol performing at South Haven, 2011.

When you see someone do something that they are good at doing, it can seem like magic. It seems effortless.

Preparing a big meal and making everything taste good and be warm at the same time.

Cutting the graft just so, and putting it on the right spot on the stock tree.

Writing a song, organizing a concert, then playing your work in front of people.

These are just a few examples. Every skill a human can do, whether it’s putting an engine together, or sewing a quilt, or designing a poster, or whatever, looks like magic, looks like it took no effort at all, when done by someone who does it well.

There is so much “behind the scenes” that we don’t see – the practices, the failures, the mess-ups, the learning. All the hard, annoying, irritating, gotta-stick-with-it-anyway learning.

Valuing another person’s knowledge and expertise – I think maybe as a collective culture, we’ve forgotten how to do this. We want things cheaper, quicker, faster. “Oh I can just go down to the Walmart and pick up one of those.”

Value the work put into something and you connect with another human being. Truly connect, as in feel something genuine.

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midweek goofiness – a GIF

KatinkaGIF It really has nothing to do with the fact that it’s the end of the school year.


This was just something fun I made with my classmates last week. We had to shoot a close-up, product shot of something. I brought in the golden ornament. Another classmate brought in Russian dolls. It was a Friday. We got silly.

Thanks to Cora for showing me how to put a GIF together.

And this is a site that one of my classmates showed me that is a bunch of silly GIFs. It makes us laugh and gets us through the day.


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What the heck is “Artaeology”?


Photographer: Sally Carpenter. Model: Paula Camus.


Photographer: Christopher Walzak, also known as ProPhotographic Cape Breton.


Photographer: Michelle Richards.


Photographer: Timothy Gray.

When Michelle Richards added me to her Facebook group “Artaeology”, I was immediately intrigued.

I knew it had something to do with art, old buildings, photography and Cape Breton. Four things that mean so much to me.

But what the heck is “artaeology”?

It’s a term Michelle came up with that means “combining art and archaeology.”

And as a group, it’s a collaboration of artists, photographers, models, archaeologists, etc, that are taking an innovative approach to document standing archaeological structures. That innovative approach is: art!

Michelle lives in St. Peters, and although the collective is mostly based there, she foresees having photography collectives around the island, snapping pictures of abandoned buildings.

Already well-known in her community for her passion for surfing, Michelle actually studied archaeology in university and she’s passionate about structures. She says, “We’re looking to document these old houses, the ones that are in danger of getting torn down. We go mainly to abandoned places, but if there was someone living in an old home, who would like to have it documented by photographers, we’d be open to that too!”

Anyone who has ever taken a surf lesson with Michelle at Point Michaud will know she has an exuberant, friendly energy. She brings that energy to her new project, too. She says,

“Through art we can show the public these buildings in a new way while also documenting the structure and contents that remain.”

Get in touch with Michelle at (902) 227-1230 or request to be added to the Facebook group, if you’d like to take pictures, be a model, or just to find out more.

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Mathieu’s Adventures: Skiing at Smokey

Yours truly, about to go for a run down the hill. (Helmets were mandatory) My brother Mat is more adventurous than I am, all things considered, I think.

He’s the one who climbed up on the roof when we were kids, then turned around and looked down at me, who was scared of heights, and earnestly said, “There’s no heights up here!”

He’s the one who rode his bicycle with no hands (although he did fall and scrape his knee). He’s the one who got into kayaking and worked at North River Kayak Tours for years. And he’s the one who sailed to the Caribbean this past winter on the Amoeba, then lived off the land on Dominica with our friend Gordon Crimp.

So when I asked him if he would be a blog contributor with some of his adventures around the island, he said “Sure!”

All photos are his and the following text is, too.
Close up view of Middle Head and the Celtic Lodge Looking up the rest of the hill People hiking to the top, as the main lift wasn't operating Standing halfway up the hill. Beautiful view of Ingonish Harbour and the Atlantic The drive down, with Smokey in the distance

“Two weeks ago (March the 23th), I went down to Ski Cape Smokey in Ingonish Cape Breton, where dedicated volunteers are keeping the ski hill open on weekends. This is a great service they are providing for local downhill ski and snowboard enthusiasts, as it makes available a top notch ski hill that would otherwise have to sit completely idle for the winter (in the part of the province that gets the most snow I might add).

Unfortunately there are not enough volunteers to staff the whole ski hill, and so the main ski lift (the one you sit on) had to remain closed. This meant that the upper slopes were off limits, unless you wanted to walk up to the top yourself (which would take about 30-45 minutes – see photos). However, the ‘pommel-lift’ was open, which meant that the lower half of the slopes were open to people.

I had never downhill skied before, and only snowboarded minimally, so this was a first for me. I started on the ‘not-so-steep’ slope for about 4 runs and then graduated to the more difficult ones (difficult for me anyway) after a good samaritan gave the tip “just always keep your head up man!”. After that I became an excellent novice downhill skier. A great place to learn how to ski, or to continue perfecting your skills, and the view isn’t to shabby either. Not bad for a Saturday in the Cape 🙂

-Mathieu Noble

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