Monday, April 2, 2018

Do you know the way to 44.73'32 -63.689.48 ?

As you know, I love wandering the many trails through the woods at Jack Lake.


I stop often to marvel at the different kinds of fungi and lichen.

Shattered tree trunks fascinate me.

I'm just becoming aware of the many plants that stay green year round.

But  there is something special in the woods that I have seen before and wanted to see again.  

The magical hidden house.    

I'd stumbled upon it in the past but wanted to be able to find it again ...
on purpose ...
 and not just by accident.

So, the last time I found it, I noted it's geographical location on my Geo Tracker.  

It's coordinates were: 44.73'32   -63.689.48.

Thinking myself the cleverest of girls, the next time I went exploring I turned on my Geo Tracker only to discover that I couldn't figure out how to get it to show me my current location using latitude and longitude nor how to reach the hidden house.  

It was like having a street address but no road map!

Hence the title for today's post.

I went back yesterday to search again for the hidden house.   I remembered seeing some orange ribbons on trees in the forest but they didn't lead directly to the mystery house.  I wandered in circles in the general area and when I was ready to give up I glimpsed it through the trees. 

Let's hope I can find it again, no thanks to a stupid piece of technology.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pardon me ...

I recall a poster I had many years ago of a clear cut forest with a Shakespeare quotation at the bottom that read:

"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!"

That quotation came back to me as I explored a development in the remnants of a  forest in Middle Sackville.

It's interesting how we peddle the myth of country living,

to people who probably never went there,

and who don't care what has been destroyed so that they can build their Franken homes on  cleared, treeless lots.  

Sigh ...

Saturday, March 24, 2018

There was a little girl ...

Perhaps you know the rhyme:

"There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead; and when she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid."

I think that pretty much sums up my relationship with the inter web.  It can be awful.  It can bring out the worst in others; and in me.

BUT it can also be marvellous and bring people together and lead to wonderful things.

In May I will be visiting my cousin Louise in Exmouth.  If it wasn't for a FaceBook group on the Tupman family history I wouldn't even know that I had a cousin in Exmouth.  Louise and I share the same great grandparents.  Her grandfather and mine were brothers.

Louise and me by the sea.

Like many folk interested in learning more about their family tree, I have joined Ancestry, which in itself is a double-edged sword.  I love it when I use it but I'm not sure I use it enough to merit the $300/yr charge.   But I'm hooked as I couldn't bear to close the account and loose all the easy to find information I have collected and have access to.

On the positive side I got message from a stranger (S.M.) on Ancestry regarding my Great grandmother, Elizabeth, pictured below with her husband and children. 

Elizabeth with her husband James and their young children.  My grandfather, Bertie is between them and Louise's father is one of the twins on the laps.

Tragically Elizabeth died of consumption (TB) in 1903 at the young age of 34 leaving James and the children alone.

We think this may be a photo of the three youngest after their mother's death.    Louise's grandfather is on the right.

The Ancestry message from S.M. read:

I would be very interested to see the photographs you have of James and Elizabeth Tupman. In the mid 1980s I was in Penzance, Cornwall and in an antique shop bought a framed memorial to Elizabeth Tupman (died 23 December 1903) and have recently used Ancestry to find out more about this lady. I can provide you with a photograph of this, if you wish.

Wowsa !

I immediately wrote S.M. back granting them access to my tree so they could see the photos I had of Elizabeth and James and their children.

In turn they sent me an image of the framed fretwork memorial.  Knowing that fretwork was a hobby of James, it is clear that he created the memorial.

I wrote back to S.M. thanking them profusely for making contact and sharing the image and timidly asking if I might buy the memorial and got this response:

I certainly feel that after enjoying the Elizabeth Tupman picture for a few decades it would be very fitting to pass it on to you and your family, so perhaps we can meet when you are in the UK and I can give it to you then?

WOWSA !   AGAIN !   WOWSA !   A stranger is going to give me a piece of family history !

Here's James with a large fretwork piece that he did of Aberystwyth which now hangs on the wall in my cousin's home.

When I think of dumping FaceBook I remind myself that I control the experience of where I go and who I talk to.  FB has allowed me to stay in touch with my wonderful English "rellies" (relatives) over the pond and I treasure those small smiles, nudges, winks and hearts that occasionally pop up in my feed.

And those hearts will lead me back to Bath for my beloved aunt Audrey's 90th birthday celebration.

Audrey's 80th birthday with as my dear ol' da' would say, the "whole fam damly"

I am so looking forward to being in the next group photo switching from virtual to REAL hugs and kisses.

And meeting up with a kind stranger who reached out with a special gift and hopefully treating them to a pint at a local pub.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Waiting two weeks for a walk ...

In most places on this planet going for a walk along the shore does not require one to wait two weeks before setting out; but that is not the case if you are planning on walking along the shore of the magnificent Bay of Fundy.

I wanted to go  walking along the shore at Blomidon Provincial Park.

Blomidon in sight.

Given Fundy's 35 ft. (11 m.) tides that required some planning.    I needed to find a day when low tide was just after mid-day; then to allow for the maximum walking time I would arrive two hours BEFORE low tide.  I had waited two weeks for the tide times to be right. Yesterday low tide was at 1:30; so friend Mickie and I got to Blomidon at 11 am.

Once at the park we decided to check out a trail to Borden Brook Falls.   Sadly the only ice around was on the trail which made for some perilous walking but the dodgy walk was well worth the effort.  The slope was slippery and you can see that even Sooki didn't like the unsure footing.  But oh my gosh the water fall was beautiful.

We couldn't make it up to the top of the falls.  I had a few false starts of trying to scramble across the greasy slope, clinging onto trees to keep from slip sliding down to the rocks and river below.  It was quite an adventure but aside from a muddy bottom I got out relatively unscathed.

The one route to the beach was via a closed staircase that was signed: "Unsafe structure.  Keep off".

Well ... since it was the only way down, we took it.  It was only when we were coming back up after our walk that we saw the reason for the sign.  The support poles under the steps were pretty much floating in air as the earth around them had been washed away !

Walking on the ocean floor and avoiding the very mucky bits.

Mucky bits.

The eroded cliffs are quite spectacular.  I think that all those Birch trees were once growing at the top of the cliff and came down with a landslide but since enough earth came down with them, they have been able to survive in their new location.

Walking closer to the cliffs we were able to see roots and trees hanging over the lip of the cliff.

These blue and red chunks have fallen down from above.  They look solid but crumble easily.   

The sun came and went but the winds were constant as you can see by Wendy and Sooki's blowing ears and Remi's furry face.   We walked outbound with the wind at our backs which meant that when we turned back we were facing into the wind.

At one point I leaned against the cliff and was surprised by the constant plinking of what I thought were ice crystals around and upon my head. I was startled to realize that they were tiny pebbles.  Notice the piles of sand and stone to the right in the picture above.  At one point the pebble fall grew a bit more forceful and Mickie and I comically dashed away from the cliff bottom thinking the whole thing was coming down !   In truth the odds of being in a car accident on the way to these cliffs are far greater than the chances of having the cliff come down on our heads.

I am certainly more than willing to take that chance in exchange for the experience of just being here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

To what do we aspire in life ?

What is a life well lived ?   

In our youth to what do we aspire ?  

In old age how do we look back and determine the success of our lives ?

 What is it that gives our lives meaning ?

Wray Hart was not what many of us would immediately judge as "inspirational" if we saw him trundling his shopping cart laden with empty refundable cans down the street.   But if a life well-lived is to be judged on lives touched, then Wray is the epitome of what we should all aspire to.

It should not be about the dream job, the financial success or fancy acquisitions but in the difference we made and the lives we touched. We never know the impact our kind words and deeds have on others.   

Early last Saturday morning Wray had gone out to find some bottles so he could buy a friend some cigarettes; sadly a car driven by a drunk driver mounted the sidewalk and killed Wray.

Photo credit: Tim Krochak / Chronicle Herald

I have been touched and surprised by the outpouring of grief for his untimely passing and the many grateful stories from those whose lives he touched. 

He was a fixture on Spring Garden Road, often sitting on a bench in front of the old public library where people would stop to sit for a chat and share a sandwich with him.

A memorial page in his memory is filled with tributes to how Wray touched their lives:
I first met Wray as a kid, with my dad and likely my sister. We'd have a coffee or some fries and just "shoot the shit". As the years passed I'd bump into him countless times with friends, usually Danielle and Kay and he would always remind us to "stay out of trouble". As more years passed he would ask me "where's the other Musketeers", unlike the other two I had not stayed out of trouble. In fact those of you who know me best know I found lots of trouble during "the lost years". Mid to late 90s I found myself sitting with Wray quite often, having no idea he spelled his name with a "W" he never told me much about himself. Instead he was more interested in where I've been sleeping, if I had been eating and made sure to tell me when he thought I was hanging with a "dangerous bunch". Over the years we saw less of each other but always made time to catch up when I was blessed enough to bump into him. After our last visit, and meeting my first born, maybe second I don't remember...I do remember his smiling face looking at me with pride..."you did good kid, good for you". Thank you Wray, for always being a smiling face, for always looking out, and for giving our city a Hart. You will be remembered by so many xo
Ray, I first met you as my teenage self, sharing my lunch with you sitting on the Halifax Library wall. You noticed when I left for school, commented when I came back home, shared your stories with me, & left your imprint on my soul. You will be missed
He looked out for everybody, regardless of his own situation.  He helped everybody. He never said no to anybody. He had a really hard life and he struggled a lot but he remained positive, through every bit of it.
Rest in Peace Wray, downtown Halifax will always be less without you...I will always remember when I was working the stone on the Basilica our chats over lunch and the Kellogg's nutrition bars you loved so much..I had my wife pack and extra one everyday in case you were around that day......God Bless you friend to all.. 
It was with great sadness that I read this story this morning. I have known Wray for about forty years. I worked with him for about a decade in Burnside, back when his life was better. He had a wife and children back then. Things then went bad for Wray, his life changed a lot and he eventually ended up on the streets. He was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. He was tireless when it came to work. He was a good natured, honest and giving man. I will always remember Wray as will anyone that had the privilege and took the time to get to know him. He was a fine human being that tried to make the world a little better every day. He will be missed by many. Rest in Gods Peace,   Wray.
Photo credit: Trent Erickson

There is a empty space in this city that will never be filled.I had known Ray since the 90's.He was the kindest man you'll ever meet. Who cared for those who were kind to him and showed it by his ability to remember the details of their lives and the stories they shared with him. The hardest working man in Halifax. 
We had many conversations but one I'll never forget was the time he took me aside to speak privately. He said in a low voice, so only he and I could hear. He said,"Caesar.. I don't know how to say this but.... Well I haven't seen your wife in a while. Is everything ok?"... He was truly concerned. So when I told him everything was good and that she was away in NL for a while minding our nephews, he gave out a nervous laugh of relief then said "Oh I'm glad to hear that.. I thought you guys might have broke up .. " ha... 
He left an impact on a lot of people's lives, he always had a very positive demeanor and attitude, and a smile about him.
M________ said one of her friends recounted making a point to go by the library while walking home from downtown because she knew Hart would be there.
"He was watching for people and he was watching to keep people safe. So she always felt safer walking home when she passed him," she said. "That was him, his presence was always here."
Last fall, G________  had worried about Hart as she hadn't seen him in some time. When she tracked him down she learned he had a new apartment. He had a fridge to store his food safely and had bought a radio, she said.
"He was in really good form. He was really upbeat … He told me he had arranged his bed so he could look out the window at the stars when he was listening to the radio at night."

If well wishes, condolences and great memories were cold hard cash, then Wray Hart was a man rich beyond measure.  You will be missed here in Halifax, my friend. He was a fixture in downtown Halifax.  Always had a kind word and a ready smile when we met him in our travels

When the drunk driver was escorted from court on Monday a friend of Wray's shouted:

"His name was Wray and he was a ... legend !"

Photo credit: Elizabeth McMillan / CBC

Here is a link to  Wray's memorial page on FaceBook

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What is that man doing ?

Boy that seems like an unusual parking spot out in that field.  And look at that man wandering around throwing things from a big white bucket.

Good grief, they're dead chickens !

Why on Earth was he doing that ?

As I watched, a couple of crows and seagulls swooped down curiously over the field.  For a few minutes they had the field to themselves but seemed hesitant to approach the white carcasses scattered across the field.  They would hop across the field eager for a free meal but mindful of who or what was behind them in the "buffet line".

And it wasn't long before they did have company, as numerous bald eagles swooped down to enjoy the free lunch.

The crows and seagulls were amazingly cheeky ... but not stupid.  They would linger near to the feeding eagles but were careful to keep their distance.

I've been to Eagle Watch before; actually I'm trying to figure out if today was my fourth or fifth visit.  What I can tell you is that it was my most interesting visit.  This is the first time I saw the eagles feeding.  You can see my post about one of my previous visits and a bit of background on Eagle Watch here.

Here's a video link to today's visit.

Friday, January 19, 2018

I didn't walk the dogs today ...

This is maybe the third time since September that I didn't take the dogs for a walk; and I feel like a rat.

Usually the only reason I don't walk them is coz the weather is just intolerable, but today I  just never seemed to get around to it.   I spent the morning sorting choir music and then enjoying choir, then on to the market, Giant Tiger, the dollar store and Superstore.  By the time I got home it was 4 pm and I hadn't had lunch and the dogs needed to be fed.

I've promised them a good walk tomorrow.

Hard to believe that one week ago (last Friday) the golf course* where we sometimes walk in winter didn't have stitch of snow.

Wendy walks on water.

It wasn't too cold so Sooki didn't have to wear her big winter coat.

The next day, Saturday, we went to Shubie off leash park; still no snow.

The lake looked frozen but not be able to hold my weight.

Sunday we returned to the golf course where the walking was still easy due to the lack of snow.

Monday was cold with a biting wind so we went to the Lucasville woods as being in the trees cuts down on the chilling winds.

The woods form a dark mono culture of similar trees.

The recent high winds have taken their toll in the woods.

 The waterfall was roaring because of the recent rains.

The first snow of the winter in Halifax (not Nova Scotia) fell on Monday night and we went on a lovely walk in the Sackville woods on Tuesday.

The golf course looked very different the next day than it had on our previous visits.  Though it is very pretty it is much more difficult for walking.

Snow was still falling during our walk but it wasn't that cold and as you can see, it was rather magical.

There are some lovely sections that follow wide woodland trails.

So much snow fell on me that I couldn't see through my wet glasses and I had to take them off and tuck them in my pocket.  Also my hair got a mite wet ...

and the dogs got soggy too so I had to towel their heads to de-sog them.

Yesterday we went back to Shubie and while there the sun finally came out.  

The heaps of snow sticking to the tree branches would occasionally let loose with a shoooshing sound as it fell to the ground below; with one such "bomb" hitting me full on the top of my head, sliding down my neck and filling the hood of my coat.

So that's it.  Six days of walks and nothing to report for today.   Glad to hear it may get a degree or two above zero Celsius tomorrow.  That should make for a pleasant walk.

I'll let you know how it goes.


* From December 15 - March 15 they allow dogs on the golf course as long as we pick up the dog poop.  

** I have messed with some of the images using an app on my phone called "Prisma".