Zombie Walk – pictures by Jay McNeil

Just in case you need inspiration for a Halloween costume!

I just love these shots. I especially love that the Cape Breton Zombies were so polite that they used the sidewalk!

This event was on October 6th. Thanks to Jay McNeil for letting me republish his photos.

Zombie Walk was held to raise awareness for The Giant Monster Ball, which is a hospital fundraiser, happening on Halloween this year at Centre 200! $10 ticket, 19+. More info at 101.9 The Giant.

Posted in Outdoors | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Great Maritime Fiction: Nicole Dixon

I have the great pleasure of sharing a short excerpt from a just-released book of short stories by Nicole Dixon.

Nicole lives in New Waterford, and is the electronic resources librarian at Cape Breton University.

She launches this book tomorrow (Thursday, October 18th) at 5:30 in Halifax at The Company House. (For event details check out the Facebook page.)

Click here to check out Nicole’s website, or click here to buy the book.

Now, without further ado, the excerpt! From the first story in the collection, also titled “High Water Mark,” this passage is in the voice of teenaged Ainslee, who works in a giftshop that looks like a lighthouse.

They ask if this is the lighthouse they’ve driven all this way to see and I say, no, the real one’s down that hill and they unfold the folded T-shirts with their ice cream fingers and shuffle the postcards and stink up the bathroom and grumble about the drive up the road, like it’s personally my responsibility to pave it, even though it’s the first time they’ve really used their SUVs. And then they complain about having to walk down the hill and ask, can they drive? and ask, could I take their picture? and ask, how much are the T-shirts? and ask, do I see many whales? and ask, what do I do around here for fun?

Tourism’s a verbal assembly line.

No, you can’t drive, you should walk, Fatso, and I’ll tell you the price of T-shirts if you’re actually gonna buy one. And for fun? I smoke and drive fast and drink beer and get stoned and fuck Robbie.

‘I hike the beach and watch for whales and pick wildflowers.’

‘Wish I lived your life.’ They sigh.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

municipal election 2012

Whitney Pier election sign.

So I’ve been putting off a post about the municipal election, mostly because I haven’t really had the time (or made the time, I guess it depends on your perspective) to think about the municipal election.

I find myself wishing I cared about it more.

I mean, in general, if I had to answer a T/F question on a quiz that went like this: “Democracy is important,” I’d say True. For sure.

But, I’d also answer the following question True: “Elected officials aren’t very responsive to the needs of their constituents.”

At the ripe old age of 28 I find I’m getting apathetic.

It wasn’t always this way. I was involved in provincial politics in my teens, when I followed my Dad, an active volunteer, to the NDP headquarters to make calls and canvass. I became a member of that party and have voted in every federal and provincial election that I’ve been able to. But when life got busier in my twenties I let my membership lapse.

Lately I’ve been supporting the Green party, and I definitely still vote – as my friend Tanya, a history buff, says, “Women fought too hard to get the vote for me to not vote,” – but overall I don’t follow politics much. I don’t get it when some folks say, “Oh, I’m a political junkie, I can’t get enough of it!” To me, political news is all about back-peddling and name-calling, with the occasional inspiring leader. It tires me out pretty fast, so I mostly tune it out.

Again, I wish that weren’t the case. I wish I felt it was a valid use of my time to help someone campaign, or to go to rallies and debates. I’ll be voting in this weekend’s election, for sure (another phrase that comes to mind is “you can’t complain about the system if you won’t even participate in it,”), but I’m not expecting huge changes when the results are announced. I guess we’ll see!

Do you feel the same? Or are you excited and inspired by the election? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

If you’re not sure how to vote, here are some resources for you:

Posted in Towns + communities | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair” – Shakespeare in the Park

The Bandshell Players are a group of volunteer thespians who put on “Shakespeare in the Park After Dark.” Their first production was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in June, and their second production is running this weekend: Macbeth, the spooky play about a mad Scottish king and his even madder wife. Appropriate for the season of turning weather and ghostly holidays! I’m sorry to miss it myself – I guess there is just too much good stuff going on around here! Not a bad problem to have.

Where and when: Tonight and tomorrow, October 13th and 14th, at 6:30 PM, Wentworth Park Bandshell, Sydney.

How much: Admission by donation.

Bring: A blanket for sitting on, warm layers for wearing, and an umbrella just in case.

Check out: This link to the entire play of Macbeth, to refresh your memory of your favourite soliloquies.

And here are a couple of shots of the June production, courtesy of Mark Delaney. I love seeing this kind of DIY culture happening, it’s super inspiring!

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment



What I love about October…

…cool mornings and earlier evenings.

…leaves turning colour.

…Halloween – spooky things, orange and black colour themes, cats and spiders.

…Thanksgiving and fall decor – oranges, reds, browns.

…Lots of wind that pushes all the big puffy clouds around.

…Apples on trees by the side of the road.

…The promise of frost.

Me these days: Busy, busy, with schoolwork. Trying not to take on too much outside of school, and cutting back on volunteer commitments so I can focus on schoolwork, and on having downtime. Without that I would go crazy, I know it. I’m gathering thoughts together (read: writing sentences in my notebook) for some posts on volunteering, on creating balance in life, and on saying No. (And also on saying Yes, because that’s a good word, too.)

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Q+A with Vince Forrestall

Vince Forrestall and his daughter Jenna in Ingonish.

Vince Forrestall is Victoria County’s Naturally Active Physical Activity Strategy Coordinator. He lives in Baddeck.

This weekend he is hosting the First Annual Victoria County Relay for Health, along with the Victoria County Memorial Hospital Charitable Foundation.

It will be part of the Victoria County Naturally Active Fall Harvest Fest and will be held October 13, 10 am to 1 pm (Rain date: Oct 14, 1-4 pm). According to Vince, “It includes a 1 miler run, bike or walk for the younger participants; 3 km, 5 km and 10 km run, bike or walk; mascots; barbeque; prizes; bounce inflatables; certificates; t-shirts for those that raise $20; Candy Drop (have to add a little sweetness to the event); physical activity and preparing healthy foods demonstrations.”

It will be at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, in Baddeck. For more information check out Vince’s Facebook page or Twitter, or email him: vince.forrestall@countyvictoria.ns.ca

Vince Forrestall and friends on a recent hike in the Highlands.

1. How old are you?

47 years young!

2. Biography, please! (I.e. where do you come from, where do you live now, what education/jobs have you had, what is your job, do you have a family, etc)

Born in Middleton, NS – My dad was in the military, so we were stationed in CFB Greenwood, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, and Summerside, PEI. Home is Mulgrave. I’m now living in the old Switchboard in the heart of the village of Baddeck.

While attending school, I enjoyed summer recreation positions, such as playground supervisor, recreation leader + coordinator, baseball instructor, etc. My background is in recreation sports + leisure and have my Recreation Administration Diploma that I got in PEI.

Positions I’ve enjoyed to gain valuable experience to get me to where I am now (Victoria County Naturally Active Physical Activity StrateGy Coordinator) included recreation director for Cornwall, PEI; Canadian Powerlifting Championships Coordinator, Charlottetown; community development coordinator, Yarmouth; – recreation director New Minas, Kings County; Recreation Coordinator at Landmark East School.

I currently live in Baddeck with wife Carolyn (who is from Naufrage, PEI) and our daughter Jenna, who just turned two, while our oldest daughter lives in New Minas and works at Sole Provider in Kentville. My grandfather worked on the railway ferry to Cape Breton, and when they built the Canso Causeway he went to Yarmouth to work on the Bluenose and that is where dad and mom met – so I’ve got relatives in Yarmouth, Halifax, Mulgrave, Aulds Cove and PEI.

3. What’s your father’s name?

Dad’s name was Vincent James Depaul Forrestall. He passed away in Feb 2008.

4. What are your top five fave hikes in Victoria County?

My top 5 hikes in VC: Sugar Loaf, Money Gulch, Franey, Uisge Ban Falls, MacMillans Mtn. I enjoyed the microwave towers, Smokey Mtn and the Smokey trail. I haven’t tried North River Falls trail yet, so there are a lot of great trails still to try, and to be naturally active. And I am sure there are great trails that residents enjoy that I never mentioned.

5. What does “active living” mean to you? (This could be a definition, or what it means personally to you to be living actively, or however you want to interpret it!)

Active living to me means moving – being active daily while eating fruit and vegetables. A variety of activity and foods makes for not the same things each day – a mxture of physical activity, sports, recreation + leisure…

6. What part of active living does eating local play?

Eating local plays a big role in active living in Victoria County – we have seen the new community garden built this year – so residents are growing their own foods and learning the skills required to grow, leading to success through raised beds. We also had a kitchen garden all planned down north, but it was unfortunately cancelled at the last minute.

We hope to partner with the Baddeck Market to promote walking to that market from a central location benefitting those buying local. There isn’t as much farming as there used to be in the past, so initiatives [like the Market] hopefully will increase growers in the county equalling more local food available to residents supporting the growers.

7. Finish this sentence: “Cape Breton needs…”

Cape Breton needs investment for families and rural areas. We need to grow our tax base through increased population from increased employers, an increase in immigrants and establishment of trade schools. When we increase our tax base , it allows for money for recreation, parks, trails, facilities, etc.

8. Dream big with me: if you had a magic wand and could change one thing in CB for the better, what would it be?

I would not change a thing about CB. We live in the greatest place on the world. Our natural environment allows for a healthy society – we are the outdoor destination of Nova Scotia. A transit study is underway, so I feel that will be in place shortly to meet the accessible transportation needs of our residents.

Meet another of Cape Breton’s Physical Activity Coordinator in this interview I did with Wayne McKay, who works for the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

For more Q+As with Cape Breton residents, click here to go to the page of all the interviews.

Posted in Active living, Education, Health, Outdoors, Q+A | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When they come true

This is the view from my wee office. (The room formerly known as the guest room.)

I took this picture on the weekend. I was working away on something on my computer and glanced up and saw this. How pretty! I love when the sun lights up something in the foreground, yet the background is dark and grey and moody.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately that my dreams have come true, that I am living the life that five years ago I wished so fervently for.

When I was first back on the island after university, unemployed, without a car, living at my mother’s, this is what I dreamed of: I wanted a car of my own, so I could go on little trips around the island and off of it; to be living on my own (or at least, not at my parent’s home), a place where I could choose the paint colours and the artwork, and put little knickknacks around, and keep tidy; and to fall in love, to be someone’s lovely gal. I wanted to be on a career path that felt meaningful and right, instead of wondering what the heck to do with myself. And I wanted to have creative time, time to write or draw, as well as work time, time to be productive and to earn money.

And, I wanted all of this to be on Cape Breton.

Lo and behold, lo and behold. With time, and with hard work, and with luck, and with love, these things have come to pass. With support, with friends, with patience, with a sense of humour. With walks to vent steam. With lessons learned. With years gone by.

I’ve got to remember: Living a dream is still living, is still real life, with stubbed toes and early mornings and cranky days. That doesn’t make it any less the life I wanted. It is magical, really, this life. This dream come true.

So what do I dream of now? What are my future dreams, the goals I’m slowly but surely making my way towards?

  1. I want to further refine the art of balancing and prioritizing activities so that I don’t feel stressed as a regular thing. (Occasional stress is OK. Everyday stress is not.)
  2. I want a garden. Of my very own.
  3. I want to stay with my Adam and be his lovely gal. With all that that entails, all the growing, learning, challenges and the sweet, sweet joys.
  4. I want a career in graphic design and/or something creative. If that’s not possible, then I want meaningful work of some kind. That pays the bills.
  5. I want a family, somewhere in the next five-ten years. Some little rugrats to call my own.
  6. I want to cook from scratch more and celebrate the shared meal as the centre of a happy household.
  7. I want to grow as a person and practice kindness, compassion, and generosity, towards myself, towards my loved ones, towards all those in my community and beyond. (In that order.)

I feel like I could think of many more, like “I want more chocolate fudge brownies” or “I want more shoes”, ha ha. But these will do for now.

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , | 9 Comments