Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Deadman's Island

Shortly after the park was dedicated we saw a large bald eagle perched in the pine tree above the plaque. An animal tribute perhaps.

Jigs and I have another dog walking spot to show Ms Black. The paths in the Dingle park connect to a loop around Deadman's Island. The land for Deadman's was purchased by the city a few years ago when the property was up for development. Although there are no marked graves, the small island served as the cemetery for the naval station nearby. A number of U.S. prisoners are among the dead buried here and when the park declaration was made, a group from the Ohio Society of the War of 1812 came to the site to install a commemorative plaque. It impressed me that those lives were not forgotten even after a time span of two centuries.

Across a small stretch of water is Melville Island, the site of the old military base. The Armdale Yacht Club calls it home now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the mend

Do I have stitches?

Last week the Jigster had minor surgery and the vet said it was best to stay quiet for a few days. Easier said then done for a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrorist. The day of her procedure she was pretty wobbly and if she could speak, she probably would have sounded like the kid in this video. We were restricted to short strolls around the yard and Raccoon track inspections.

Can't I go outside?

The snow has filled in the fern gully and is level with the little foot bridge.

A resident raccoon has been making use of the elevated highway.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The novelty has worn off

Mid-storm last Thursday.

It's official. I am completely sick of shoveling, snow-blowing and salting. Another system is due this evening and it must be the 12th storm we have had this year. Will it stop if I say uncle? I am developing shoveler shoulder from all of the digging and ice chipping. How many days until spring?

It is pretty spectacular once it stops snowing.

I could even enjoy looking at it...if I knew it was melting.

Monday, February 9, 2009


It was bitter today. The wind was coming out of the Northwest and the wind chill of -18 degrees was searing. The rhododendron leaves were rolled tight into pins. They are always a good indicator of the depth of the cold. I always glance at the ones in the yard before I head out the door. I call them the rhodometers.

These leaves need a sweater.

I am counting the days until these icy buds turn into this.

I have admitted that I am not a very dedicated blogger. But over the past 10 years or more I have been a very dedicated foreign correspondent with a tiny readership. Very tiny. Just one reader in fact.

Mr 163 and I have spent about half of our married life apart. He chases down seismic squiggles in the four corners of the globe and I keep the home fires burning. Offshore communications used to be limited and often we had no contact while he was working in the field. It was nearly impossible and or insanely expensive to stay in touch. He would sail off on a project and I would not hear from him until he landed at the local airport or found a telephone when his vessel came into port. I would not know if he was in the middle of a raging storm or becalmed on a glassy sea.

Email changed all of this. It gave us some daily chatter. Our email messages to each other are pretty prosaic things. Not much more then a laundry list of the minutiae that makes up our days. "Tuna for lunch, it snowed again, the car needs new brakes" is echoed with "tom yum soup was tasty, northeast monsoon has started up, program crashed". Nothing too lofty, but we are both devoted to the practice of this daily ritual. One message is sent and one is returned so that the volley can continue. This unbroken string helps keep us tied together. And the photos here are a few coloured threads to brighten the weave.

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile

You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for while

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Warren Zevon - Keep Me In Your Heart

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday Shadows

My friend Su-san and I are like chalk and cheese when it comes to our sleeping schedules. She puts her head under her wing as soon as it gets dark... which is just about the time my inner night owl clocks in for her shift. I like being up early but I just don't like getting up early. On that rare occasion that I am vertical before sunrise, I love to get outside and watch the day start. This past Saturday was glorious. The rising sun was painting great long shadows against the snow and piercing the Dingle Tower.

The sun was lined up directly with the tower opening. I'll probably never know whether this is a daily occurrence or a Stonehenge-like, annual phenomenon.

We puzzled over these marks in the snow before realizing that they are made by the wing tips of Crows. Crow Angles.

The tail-end of a storm brought a freezing sleet which formed a white concrete crust. Looks like a punch-thru to me.

Jigs investigated and reported on the skim of ice on the Arm. "No skating here boss."

The deep freeze of the last week has not de-babbled the brook

The rolling hills and little bay seem so ideal that you would think Capability Brown had a hand in the park planning. I wonder if he would approve.

Friday, February 6, 2009

York Redoubt

Just after quitting time, Jigs and I drove out to York Redoubt to stretch our legs and catch the fading light. The site has a commanding view of the Halifax Harbour and it is a favourite haunt for dog walkers. And amazingly enough, it is only 8 minutes (driving at 50km per hour) from Su-san's post-lottery neighbourhood. Yes, Ms B. it is true. City and nature in one tidy package. We arrived as they were closing the fort doors and had to keep to the trails outside of the walls. The fortifications were originally built in 1793 but have been added to and changed over the past couple of centuries. Tracks through the woods lead to crumbling WWII shelters and gun emplacements. The buildings are not well preserved but enough remains to give you a sense of the place during wartime. On a frigid day like today I can imagine that it must have been a god forsaken place to be posted for the winter.

These icicles must have been the inspiration for the tin foil variety

My camera isn't up to the job of capturing the lighthouse on Hangman's Beach

There was no sallying through the sallyport today

It was clear enough to see Thrumcap and beyond to Devil's Island

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Skaters & Purple Skies

Lantern Skaters by Paul Landry, Greenwich Workshop

My Uncle Paul is an artist and a few of his paintings has been licensed and turned into books, calendars and puzzles. This past Christmas I was given a "Lantern Skaters" puzzle. As I sorted out what seemed like the 7,000th piece of purple, I was forced to consider all the mauve he used in the painting. A few evenings ago I was reminded of his painting. I was out walking the Jigser along the seawall and the dusky light was a purple glow against the snow. The lights across the Northwest Arm were cheering and cosy. The water here is salt and it rarely freezes solid so there isn't much skating in this particular spot. But I had spent the afternoon skating at our neighbourhood pond and could see what he was trying to capture with his gliding skaters and their swirling skirts. Little wonder that my Uncle chooses to create such nostalgic scenes.

The foot of South Street and the tower of the A&A Building

Skaters on a very snowy Frog Pond

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A season of snow

I am not a very dedicated blogger. Winter has been shaking its stormy fist for a couple of months now and this is my first record of it. Perhaps it is because I am the keeper of an enormous luge run [a.k.a. a driveway] and I spend a good deal of the winter obsessing over the state of the snow coverage. When I am not worrying about my salt supply or the state of my shovels, I get out and enjoy the splendid part of winter. The magic of dog walks in fresh fallen morning snow. Skating on the local pond. Fairy tale woods. The local groundhog saw his shadow yesterday and it looks like I will have several more months to reflect on the season's many wonders.

110 feet of fun – Bobsled anyone?