Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia

Staying in Cheticamp this week. We are as northwest as a person can get on this continent without having to kick caribou and terns out of our path. This may be the friendliest place in the world. I can’t know, not having been to three of the peopled continents, but it’s pretty darned friendly. People at the grocery store talk to you. For a while. Because they want to. Possibly because they’re bored, but still. Really really friendly. And this is in addition to them being a bilingual francophone community, which genuinely shocks me, those of French extraction being generally of a prickly nature in my experience. That was a terrible sentence, please extract its meaning and let its form be lost to the mists of time. Don’t look back. Don’t. I mean it.

We’ve been living in utter sloth for the past two days and I woke up mired in swampy self-reproach for this, so I sprang out of bed and determined that we would go to Pleasant Bay to take a whale watching boat. Gentle bickering, muttering, and dismembering now well established piles of clothing ensued. Everybody achieved their pants with minimal damage and heartache. We strode out into the bright grey morning.

There is a bakery in Cheticamp where you can buy a good cheesy croissant for 1.25. This alone would be reason to move here. But I hear they get -30 in the winters and high winds and my man is more one of those tender blushing orchid type things than a balsam fir. I fear he would not thrive. And I suppose, were I to bring such a sweet flower to a cold and untimely end, I might feel some remorse and confusion about the true value of cheesy croissants. Alas.

So we got bakery, we cackled with thrifty glee, we drove the 30 miles to Pleasant Bay. The land is very very old up here, and there are bays and coves running inland to meet descending pine forest everywhere. It looks piratical. It makes you want to start a completely impractical rum running operation on a protected beach for purely aesthetic reasons.

They’re doing construction on this mountain road, so we were stopped a couple of times by construction guys with those slow/stop signs. The second time we were stopped right beside a Mr. Mackenzie, who had the happiest smile, and not all the teeth he once possessed, and gave us quite specific directions to his house 374 kilometres away simply to fill the conversational space.

We got to the harbour in Pleasant Bay and parked. Tried the first whale shack, whose signs I had seen all over Cape Breton. They were full up and sent us down to the second shack, where a plausible young man with a fat face and that half Irish accent booked us in for the one o’clock. He told us jokes and stories (of a randomness so complete as to inspire admiration rather than dismay) while hisfatherthecaptain drove back to the house to get the gas key to fill ‘er up.

Tony (the captain) got us all situated in our rather stylish life jackets and we shuffled into the zodiac. A zodiac is very small and light, and when it hits a wave it gives you such a thump. Your whole body rattles from ass to crown. You have to sort of ride it like a horse, keep your hips loose, or your will be badly uncomfortable. I started out the boat trip laughing maniacally but soon became mildly seasick. I tried to think about the beauties of nature and gratitude. That made me angry as well as seasick. This went on for a long, long time. It was long subjectively and, I later discovered, probably about two hours human time. We went damn far up the coast, not a whale to be seen. There were only five of us on the zodiac, a couple from Toronto, me and himself, and the captain. I was quietly burping up stomach acid when the captain pulled around, saying we would head back south and maybe see them closer inland. Two minutes later the engine cut out. “Huh,” said the captain. He tinkered. We bobbed. I burped. I concentrated very hard in the vaguest possible way on the cliff face. The mental state required to avoid noticing one’s own motion sickness may be equally subtle to the mental state required to become invisible, or do yogic magic or something. Tony tinkered (heh) for about 8 minutes before he picked up the radio. He called for his son Chris to come rescue us in the other boat. Chris wasn’t there. Someone radioed Clint, who went to look for Chris. All the other boats out on the water chimed in and everybody had a chat. I continued to concentrate vaguely.

Chris was found. Eventually. But not until Marie, John, Winston and Mike had all been involved. Chris and Winston, two more fat ginger sons, came and rescued us in their slightly larger zodiac. I felt much better as soon as we began to move and then it came over the radio that there were pilot whales between us and the harbour. The girl in front of me screeched a little. We stared very hard at the water all around us and in five minutes there were black backs wheeling slowly through the waves on either side of us. They were so beautiful. I cannot describe it. They had long rectangular heads and I could hear them exhaling through the blow holes, a low and heavy huff. It made you want to cry, I tell you, to hear whales breathing so close to you. Maybe twenty of them? Making for shore. There was a little one, curving neatly beside its fellows. My motion sickness was gone and I was jubilant. We made for home, and it began to rain hard but nobody minded. We had seen whales. We had won.

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Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia

An Incoherent Photo Journal!

Photo on 25-07-16 at 16.09
Seattle

 

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I don’t know.
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I just don’t know.
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Canada?
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More Canada
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Canada Man!
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I tried to cook a kielbasa over an open flame. It just ended up warm and damp.
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They are very fond of Stephen King in Maine.
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Cause he’s cool.
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When you wish you could hear the accompanying music to the movie of your life. Is it fun and cheerful or is it horror violins?
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Even if it’s horror violins, at least I have ice cream.
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Addam’s Family Summer Playhouse!
Photo on 26-07-16 at 23.48
This is what my soul looks like.
Photo on 14-08-16 at 18.25
This is what my face looks like.
Photo on 14-08-16 at 20.09
This is what my boy looks like.
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Aaron conspired with an elderly man named Curtis to take this yesterday at a pub in Nova Scotia.
An Incoherent Photo Journal!

Today

I went to Mass this morning. I have of late been in spiritual convulsion, either dull eyed and limp with moist disgust for humanity, or blissful and dazzled. It is a uneven sort of existence, but I have given up on lasting ease. I don’t think it’s real and I think expecting it to be real just makes me mad. Grandparents, this does not mean I’m not okay. I am okay and I experience great happiness. So don’t you worry yourselves about me, alright?

Anyway, I went from very calm and fulfilled yesterday (possibly passing through a small valley of smugness) to harried and anxious, for no apparent reason. I tried to go to the big party. I put on my big party shoes, and my very small party hat. There were many humans eating things and drinking things and playing music and smiling at babies. Which is alright if you like that sort of thing. It was just making me feel lonely though, so I skipped out. I went back to camp but there’s no electricity and I have no flashlight, so I ended up camping in my car in order to read myself to sleep. I wrapped myself in my baby blanket, which I carry in my trunk for purely practical, sensible, and unemotional reasons, and stuck my stuffed seal (who came with me to France when I was sixteen and has been a jaunty traveling companion ever since) under my neck and allowed myself to be lulled by Andre Norton.

I woke up with both my feet numb, but that is the price we must pay for light to read by.

Aaron never came back from the party, which I should have expected but didn’t. I kept waking up hearing noises and thinking it was him, but it was just animals having sex or murdering each other or what have you in the bushes. This made me grumpier. Animals. Hmph. A spider made a nest in a pair of my shorts. Not while they were on me. But still.

I woke up at six thirty to a medium grey day and felt sorry for myself for a respectable half an hour. I decided to go to mass.

I had to find clothing that covered my sinful knees and my equally-if-not-more sinful bosom. This is difficult. My knees enjoy freedom and I like to let them have their way, plus it is summer, so I don’t have much in the way of coverings. Ditto the bosom. I fished some silky man-pants out of the bottom of my bag. I pinned a creamy and sadly dismembered tank top to my bra and covered all the excess bits with a scarf. I pulled on my leather jacket and with the short hair, the general effect was of a chic lesbian bomber pilot on her day off. Good enough.

They were very nice at church. Catholic. In small town Maine. Every time there was a responsorial bit, I heard the booming couple behind me say things like, “glaarius” and “fugivenus”. I went to Catholic school for seven years, though I am not Catholic. I wanted to become so when I was eight (peer pressure? good sense? who knows.) but they wouldn’t let me be baptised because neither of my parents were Catholic and I was allegedly too young to know my own mind. This ignited a (thus far) lifelong slow burn resentment that has caused me to take communion in rural churches across America out of spite. Haha! You think you can stop me eating your small bread? Weeelll, I will just go where you don’t know me and I shall take your small bread and you’ll never know! When one thinks of Catholicism as exclusionary, this is a good method for revenge, but when one thinks of it as conversionary, it is somewhat self-defeating. I am hoisted on my own petard. It’s just a small petard, but it’s my own.

So seeing as how I am all limp with general spiritual whatsit, I decided to take communion in a nice way. I just asked generally in my heart if it was okay, and it was, so I went up there all solemn and pale, took the bread in my hands. I ended up in the line for the wine somehow, which I don’t believe I’ve ever done before. My heart was filling, the golden cup tipped and rosé blood of Christ poured into my mouth and I looked up into the eyes of the short woman wiping my spit from the goblet and she looked into my eyes and she said, “Love yuh hayuh.” My hair, gentle reader. She loved my hair.

Today

Moose!

I saw a moose! And then another moose! This second moose being, I suppose, the complementary addition to the first, it was rather small. But I shall not complain.

 

MOOSES!

 

P.S.

Here is me captured in a quite lifelike moment while teaching at Blues Week. bluesweek

Moose!

Where Am I?

Where the hell am I? I’ve lost all track. A man in the gas station used the word “eh” ten times in a minute and a half though, so I am fairly certain we have not strayed back into the U.S.

I’m in a coffee shop. There’s a very normal looking man sitting across the room from me. He only has one arm. Most cheerful, fat, one-armed man I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s talking to another cheerful fat man with moles on his face. Aaron looks like a prudish saint next to them, all pale and ascetic. It’s just because his vices show themselves in emaciating fashion, rather than big dinners and tankards. No, he prefers cigarettes, video games and righteous indignation. I find his righteous indignation tiring because I have difficulty caring too much about the affairs of humans, and his wrath is all for unjust systems. If an animal is being put out, I’m all over it, but humans. Ehn.

That is why he shouted at the border guards and they threatened to arrest him. Anything that smacks of fascism gets up his nose, plus he had had to go through security six times in the previous week to get back from Italy, so he was hair trigger about the pointless oppression of security theatre. He and I are very smooth at talking our way through things individually, but in concert we give an impression of confusion and excessive explaining that can make the already suspicious more so. They sent us into the bay and we waited five minutes, presumably while they geared up to deal with our potentially explosive underpants. They walked out, quite politely told us they were going to search the car. Aaron, “You know what? We don’t want to come in your country, we’ll just turn around.” Of course they thought he had heroin in his colon or something when he said that. That’s when they threatened to arrest him, and then again when he kept shouting. I clung to his arm and hissed at him ineffectually. Only later in the waiting room was I able to impress the full weight of my displeasure upon him. You do not make a fuss at a border when you have a Muslim in the car, especially one who has texts with her. He apologised. I forgave him, mostly.

We ate health-giving Indian food once we were far enough away from the border for our respective paranoias to simmer down. We’ve been driving for a long time now. I believe we are in Saskatchewan.

I have seen many many cows, and a smattering of llamas. That is all.

 

P.S. I have noticed a contrast. I, who am generally fond and tolerant towards humanity, expect them to do the absolute worst of which they are capable. Aaron generally dislikes the common man and yet is consistently surprised and dismayed when they are illogical, inefficient and unjust. If you have an answer to this, please let me know.

Where Am I?

Eastward Ho

Where are we? Uh. Washington? Yes, still Washington. Up near the Canadian border. Oh. Republic, used to be known as Eureka in gold rush time. It has a lot of old west fake wooden storefronts, and grumpy white women, and Indians in pick up trucks eating hamburgers. It has one very polite East Indian man, who smelled delicately of curry. I could not tell him this, because it would have sounded like your basic racial hazing, but I wanted to because he smelled so good I could have cried and wanted to bury my face in his shirt.

We’ve just come from the Port Townsend Blues Week, where we covered ourselves in glory and other peoples’ instruments. Aaron was engaged to teach blues fiddle and Aaron engaged me to TA for him, by way of the guitar. I drove from Minneapolis to Seattle, he flew from Italy to same, and we were rejoined in a hail of everybody being too tired to properly enjoy being reunited. We bopped around down there for two days, put a new bridge, tailpiece and strings on my cello (the nice luthier said that it had been unplayable before, a fact that I was perfectly happy not knowing) and then made our way to the mysterious north. Which wasn’t very. Mysterious. We took the ferry from Hmngnm to New Smghfnk and drove through many small and cute towns until we reached the apogee of Small Cute Towndom that is Port Townsend. They have a shop that sells exclusively socks. And a pirate store. And six coffee shops in four blocks. It’s one of those kinds of places.

We drove up the hill(s), narrowly avoiding the six thousand deer meandering across the roads and arrived at Fort Worden Park, which used to be a fort, which is why it has 30 clapboard houses scattered across it. This is fortunate, because musicians must needs have  beds and brandy, or they are liable to complain.

We stayed in one of the officer’s houses the first night, having arrived a day early, and then were switched to a little fourplex at the back of the park. I was the only woman and the youngest person of the fourteen people in that fourplex but by God I held my liquor.

Oh dear, I have to get on the road now. We have six days to drive from here to Vermont and lollygagging will simply not do. But I will tell you all about everything tomorrow, when I alight again.

Eastward Ho