Fall Hikes

Let the record show…I did some hiking in 2015…

September 5,  Taylor Head Full Meal Deal

This was a challenging hike. The pace Jim set was just short of a run and it had rained in the morning so all of the exposed tree roots were slippery as heck! From the map: http://www.novascotiaparks.ca/brochures/TaylorHeadTrail.pdf the total distance is about 17.3km. We did the loop sections in a figure eight pattern., stopped for lunch, and went to a pub afterwards for dinner. It was a great day. These are the hikes I love!

September 12,  Memory Lane

Memory Lane Heritage Village is an award winning living history museum depicting coastal rural life in Nova Scotia during the 1940s, including life during and after the Second World War.

Costumed animators greet you, happy to share stories and knowledge of life in the 1940s. In the Webber House you can sit in the parlour, listening to the wartime broadcast. There’s an icehouse, and great photo opportunities in the barn and wood & metal workshop. Live chickens, sheep and cats were on the loose. 

Unfortunately, I arrived with a 4G card in my Nikon…that filled up pretty quick. Rookie mistake. I resorted to taking pictures on my iPhone.

September 20, Crowbar Lake Trails


Meh! Not too bad at all…I did manage to get a few pictures but they were an afterthought and it shows.

October 3,  Mystery Hike

This was another of Susan’s hikes. Always interesting. We started out at the Farmer’s Market in Wolfville, did a short hike at the Agricultural Center, back to a church in Wolfville for an African Drumming lesson, off to Blomidon Winery and finally to the beach.

October 10 Cape Split Fall Colors

A 17k hike on a beautiful Saturday afternoon…and on my way to Yarmouth…How could I resist?

October 24, Ladies Only Trail Build

This one was a lot of work…I was on the axe all day.

November 1, Polly Cove Ocean Hike

A great ocean hike between West Dover & Peggy’s Cove. Trails, rock walking, some steep rocky climbs, and some really cool caves.

November 11, Remembrance Day Hike at Cape Split

This was a great way to commemorate Remembrance Day. We had 2 minutes of silence just as we started out at 11am and lunch on the bluff.

Learning Photoshop

I’ve been trying to learn Photoshop techniques. One thing these exercises do is give me an appreciation of how my students feel when they’re trying to configure routers and switches…It’s all easy once you know how.

The original photo
The original photo

Yeah, I thought that would be a challenge. I decided to swap out the sky for something a little more interesting…this is one of the many skies I tried…

One of the many skys I swapped in
One of the many skys I swapped in

I’ve since learned how to refine the edge when blending to layers. I’ll revisit this process and fixed those trees.

Next Tutorial…

Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner 2015
Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner 2015

I thinks this looks a lot more interesting…

Photo Collage from one Photo
Photo Collage from one Photo

I also tried this 3D projection technique. This technique can be worked on lots of the pictures I have so I’ll be doing more of these.


this is what the original looked like…DSC_0118


I really wanted to try repairing some old photos. It’s not as easy as you’d think. This one is a work in progress..

An abused photo
An abused photo


Photoshop has filters for sketching, oils, watercolors. While these built in filters are fun, the results can be a little disappointing. I found several good tutorials on creating sketches and I tried sketching one photo of an old house Din and I found along the Brule shore this summer…

From this…


…to this…


Halfway through my sketching workflow, I really liked the look of one of my layers..Kinda watercolor…




OK. It’s been awhile. But there’s no time like the present to get caught up. Right?

I spent the summer of ’15 hiking, camping, cottaging, and generally enjoying the blessings of being from the east coast of Canada.  Trails Nova Scotia provides maps and details on over 200 trails in the province…and I’ve been to SO many places I didn’t know existed!

Everytime I ‘discovered’ a new hike or beach, I felt a little panicked that there was no way I was going to keep all these places sorted out. Thus…my personal inventory of the places I’ve been and places I want to visit again…In case my my memory fails me before my knees do…

Colpitt Lake Trail

An early May hike around Colpitt Lake with some wonderful water views as well as some  city landscapes. You don’t have to go far from the city to get back to nature…exposed bedrock, rough glacial terrain, a little bush whacking…a little more bush whacking..

Do It Like Moses..Walking on the ocean floor in the Bay of Fundy

Hiking along the Bay of Fundy from Soley Cove to Five Islands Park.  We started the hike about two hours after high tide, giving us plenty of time to explore the bottom of the bay.  This is much the same route followed by runners in the “Not Since Moses” event. http://www.notsincemoses.com/ About 8 km of amazing shoreline that is covered by up to 45 ft. of water at high tide!

Purcell’s Cove

On Canada Day we took on steep hills, water crossings, and rough trails in the Purcell’s Cove backlands; hiked to a lookoff, touched on Colpitt and Flat Lakes before heading back down to Teabag Lake for a swim.

The Western Shore

This Western Shore day wasn’t so much of a hike as an adventure. We started out with an Intro to Rock Hounding session presented by the President of Scotian Lapidary at the Lookoff Family Campground, in Canning. Once we knew what to look for we moved on to Scot’s Beach (where rocks find their way down from Amethyst Cove) for some rock hounding and then to Halls Harbour, a very picturesque village outside Canning. Finally, we headed to  Blue Beach (a beach full of fossils) for an early evening bonfire. The step count wasn’t really up there, but I had just visited four places I didn’t know existed. Score!


Duncan’s Cove

Duncan’s Cove is about 20 min outside of Halifax. It’s a very scenic 7 Km hike that takes about two hours unless you’re hiking with a group of photographers in which case you should book off four or five hours…There’s lots to take photos of…


Taylor Head Provincial Park

Taylor Head Provincial Park is located southwest of Sheet Harbour and occupies a rugged wind swept peninsula that juts 6 km into the Atlantic Ocean. Taylor Head offers three different hikes so you can hike 2, 9, or 17 kl. I love the 17 kilometers along the ocean. This one I’ll do again…


Brule Shore

Looking at my pictures, it looks like our week at the Brule shore was all about the sunsets. They were spectacular, but we also made it to the Seafoam Lavender Farm, the Lismore Sheep Farm,  the Tatamagouche Butter Trail, had back yard bonfires, and played ladder golf…Where are those pictures?? Anyway…the sunsets were like this…

Kedji 2.0

Off we went to another round of Big Dam Frozen Ocean canoeing. Last year we did this loop in a weekend and this year we promised ourselves we’d  take more time, more pictures, more swimming…As luck would have it we picked that week in August that saw temperatures hitting 40 degrees in the city…What a week to be in the backcountry…

Micous Island

Micous Island is a 22-acre tidal island located near the eastern shore of St. Margarets Bay. The island is accessible by a sandbar at low tide. In 2007, the island was purchased through a community fundraising campaign and is now being cared for jointly by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and the St. Margarets Bay Stewardship Association.

We got a guided tour of the island from Mike Lancaster with some history and lots of tree theory (He’s a Forestry grad…)

So…that was summer 2015! Nova Scotia has 7600 kilometers of coastline and over 200 mapped hiking trails; I suspect there are still a few good hikes I’ve yet to discover. I was definitely struck by how may beaches there are  and how each one is different….It seems I’m not the first person to notice this…

What he said…

Facts are stranger than fiction.
It’s raining cats and dogs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
This country is going to the dogs.
The early bird gets the worm.
It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
…a miss is as good as a mile
…mad as a hatter
…quick as a wink
…six of one, half a dozen of the other
…barking up the wrong tree
…won’t take no for an answer

What do these phrases have in common? Give up? …Would you believe they were all coined by a Nova Scotian? …No way! Right? How did we not know this??

All of my English teachers and university professors need to hang their heads in shame that I had to learn this from a grave keeper named Jerome (I’ll explain later). It’s true…this is a list of famous sayings popularized by Sam Slick, a character created by Nova Scotian judge and writer Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865).

Haliburton’s Sam Slick character was a fast talking Yankee type who put forward his views on “human nature” in a regular column in the Novascotian, beginning in 1835 (according to Wikipedia). Later some of these columns were published in a collection titled The Clockmaker, or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slicksville. 

I did some research but there isn’t much information to either confirm or refute the claim that Haliburton was the first to coin these phrases. (Talk about a needle in a haystack…) Information on the term Mad as a Hatter says that it did predate Louis Carrol and Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter, so that seems to work with the Haliburton Said It First theory. And, just as an aside, the reason hatters had a propensity towards crazy was because it was impossible for them to avoid inhaling the mercury fumes given off during the hat making process…Oh! The things I didn’t know yesterday! For several other phrases I could only confirm that they were indeed first penned in the early 1800s.

I guess one way to confirm these famous sayings appeared in Haliburton’s writings would be to read the book…It’s been a long time since I came across any topic I couldn’t find enough information about on the Internet…off to the library.

Of course I could always claim I got this information from the horse’s mouth (No, wait! That’s not one of them, is it?) But I did get to meet Sam during a Ghost Walk last weekend..Here are a few snaps of him and Jerome…Interesting guys…

IMG_0772 - Copy IMG_0776 IMG_0784

My year of the Astronauts…




Last night I met Chris Hadfield…In a very “The Secret” circumstance, I decided, sitting in my living room in Hanoi last spring…watching him re-enter Earth’s atmosphere…that he was on my bucket list. I wanted to meet Chris Hadfield. How was that going to happen? Well, leave it to The Universe…Fast forward to June, 2014…I was in Truro; Chris Hadfield was in Truro (Jeez Universe, I had to drive 10 minutes…Couldn’t you have delivered him to my door somehow??)

But wait!…in case I got distracted… an opportunity to meet another NASA astronaut, Dr. Mary Ellen Weber, came my way in May of this year.


Bottom line? Astronauts are REALLY cool! Smart…driven… kind (Does that come from seeing where we all share a tiny speck of space?) Dr. Weber spoke to over a hundred young girls at a Techsploration event at the NSCC Truro Campus this spring. She explained to them that they have to be vigilant about finding opportunity…When she was a ‘girl’ there were no female astronauts.  A handwritten ad for sky-diving lesson on a college student billboard caught her eye when she was 19?…She discovered flight…Eventually, she completed two missions to the International Space Station and logged 450 hour off of this planet. As she explained it…When you are looking down on the earth, nations and borders mean nothing, you realize “I’m an Earthling…That’s home.”

She also had a message that resonated with this 50 something…Dr. Weber is… by my calculations… in her early 50s…She was talking to some young girls and said “Yeah, I was thinking that too…I might like to go back to University and be a veterinarian” …I think this NASA Astronaut/Chemical Engineer  is seriously thinking about going back to University to be a vet. Why? Because she realizes she has exactly one more lifetime ahead of her (20-30 years) and (Yay!) she plans to use it.

…And when Chris Hadfield was nine years old and watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon, there were no Canadian astronauts…but that didn’t stop him. What an amazing man! A Canadian who has been the Commander of the International Space Station…A Canadian who put the space program back on the map (A weird comment…but, that was a program that was off the map literally and figuratively) He put a human face on that whole program we grew up with that threw people and dogs and monkeys off this planet…He was/is a worthy addition to anyone’s bucket list…and as I walked away last night he asked about the rest of my bucket list…I told him…he said “There’s still time.” …Yep, there’s still exactly one more lifetime.

Whew! Done…Well, not quite…

CaptureThanks to my sister and my daughter-in-law I’ve achieve my very modest fundraising goal for the Cobiquid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in the Bluenose Marathon Run (Oops! I mean walk…)

This got me to thinking about what I really should be doing for an organization I believe is well-run and responsible for important and significant work.  The least I can do is explain why I think this organization is so worthy of everyone’s support…

The Cobiquid Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is run by a very capable veterinarian, Helene, and her super-understanding, super-helpful husband Murdo. Helene happens to be funny, irreverent, and able to divine the personality of every patient the CWRC takes in.  And what personalities these critters have! These are no pet-store darlings. They’re wild, they’re proud, and, when they are not scared, they’re pissed. Helen and Murdo respect their boundaries, support their spirit of independence (check out the Big Jeezley)  and provide only what’s needed to get them back ‘home’.

If you follow the CWRC facebook postings you get to enjoy the ride…the drama…the hissy-fits…the small triumphs …and the spectacular sendoffs. It also helps that Murdo is a talented videographer and photographer (when he’s not facing off with an Eagle over a feeding dish). I’ve really enjoyed (and often had a good laugh) getting to know amazing and courageous animals through Helene’s posts and Murdo’s photos and videos. It’s because of this that I feel especially guilty about not doing enough to support the CWRC.

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So, what is it with trying to fundraise? You put yourself out there and someone can say no (Ouch!)…You know what?…That’s my ego….And my ego shouldn’t be as important as these snowy owls, eagles, or heart-wrenching baby snow shoe hares. If you have a cause you support, fine…but…if you don’t, or if your Aunt in Fall River doesn’t, PLEASE contribute to the CWRC or ask her to.

Those of us who follow the CWRC Facebook page got to know Porcules, the teenage porcupine who was in charge at the CWRC for a few months in 2013. This year’s first juvenile patient is a baby porcupine that was attacked by a dog…Yeah, the dog got quilled…but this little guy is all alone and he does have some injuries. This week he accepted some milk…Do yourself a favor and follow his progress until he’s released by liking the CWRC Facebook page.

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Contribute if you can, but if you can’t just join Helene and Murdo for the ride…It’s uplifting!



I’ve been back in Canada for four weeks and I finally had a chance to put together a slideshow of my time in Vietnam (10 months in 3 minutes!). It was fun to review my pictures and select from them a variety that I hope show..

  • I had a great time.
  • There was a significant amount of work involved.
  • I got to see and experience places and events I’ll never forget.
  • I loved the people I got to work with.
  • I made friends that I hope will be in my life forever.
  • Vietnam is BEAUTIFUL.

My Fat Buddha



My Fat Buddha sits beside my television. He was a gift from a friend leaving Hanoi. Now, I have to say, this little fellow has always bothered me…I never understood why Buddha was represented as a jolly fat man?

Siddhartha Gautama, the prince born approximately 560BC who eventually  became the Buddha was, according to legend, exceptionally good-looking.  He was married and had a son before he left it all behind at the age of twenty-nine to search for enlightenment.

As the Buddha, Siddhartha  specifically stated that he should not be idolized.  He was just a man and he spent his life teaching people that anyone could do what he did. He readily admitted that he had temptations and weaknesses; admitted it was difficult for him achieve enlightenment, and that he could fail at any time. He didn’t set out to establish a new religion, and he didn’t see himself as a God.

Because of his specific instructions not to idolize him, for the first 500 years or so after his death there were no representations (pictures, statues) of the Buddha at all…

But as the number of his followers grew, so did his legend and people did come to pray to him and to venerate him.   And, if they were going to worship and pray they needed an image of their idol. So it was that hundreds of years after his death the first representation of the Buddha appeared.  One of the main tenants of Buddhism is that each man should be his own light and make his own way and that tendency towards subjective truth influenced the various depictions of the Buddha.

In search of enlightenment, Siddhartha tried lots of stuff…As an ascetic monk, he practiced extreme self-denial. So, yeah, I understand the skinny Buddha.. .


One day (many years into his search) while Siddhartha sat under a Bodhi (fig) tree, enlightenment came to him. There are many statues of the enlightened Buddha…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA enlightened buddha5

There are even statues of Buddha as a female (in case that’s what speaks to you?)…

female buddhaBut what’s with this FAT Buddha?? …Well, here’s an explanation provided by a friend…

Buddha was a man. He didn’t want to be worshiped, but he did want people to follow his example and attain the enlightenment he attained.  Since Buddha’s wish was that people emulate him, someone started to look at which images of the Buddha worked for this goal…Could you see yourself as a starved monk? Probably not… As an enlightened soul? …Most of us aren’t there yet… What about as a Buddha content with what he has?   …enough food, happiness , children …


This is where the Fat Buddha comes from….mystery solved.  This Buddha is a reminder that we have all the sustenance and joy we need. So now my Fat Buddha sits by my television reminding me to be happy and satisfied…I like him a whole lot more these days.

Short Days?…Short Months?…Must be Winter

December went by in a blur here in Vietnam. I started the month in the City of Phan Thiết at Bình Thuận Community College. My first thought on arriving after a six hour drive from Saigon was…”Crap…Why did I insist one week would be enough time here?!” BTCC is across the street from the beach and ten minutes away from the awesome resort area of Mui Ne where I spent a leisurely long weekend after the a week of presentations and classes…



Leaving Mui Ne we toured a Sapa Valley Wine Castle on the outskirts of town before heading to the airport. Yep…that would be Sapa Valley as in California, USA…at least that what all the labels said. Obviously, international trade has made the world a very small place…

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Back in Hanoi there were Christmas celebrations and going away dinners. Although international schools closed for the holidays and many embassies hosted holiday functions… 


Christmas Day  was a regular work day for most Vietnamese…Here the big seasonal celebration is the ‘real’ New Year (according to the lunar calendar) on January 31st . This is Tet Holiday and it is BIG…every bit as big as a western Christmas with all the same themes: family, gifts, food, parties, prayer.  January 1st may not be the official start to 2014 in Vietnam but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying New Year’s Eve western style..er…I mean…Gangnam style!