Saturday, September 19, 2009


Avast, ye scurvy scalliwags! It be International Talk Like A Pirate Day and all that, and also, the day of that most hallowed Pirates of Jeddore Festival. Here we be on the deck of our ship:

First Mate Zoë marched in the Pirate Parade, bein' fiercely cute and whatnot.

Some pirates are scarier than otherrrrrs.

Arrrrrr! And that goes double for your wee parrot.

The Bounce house of Terror, it was.

Pirate dogs were in attendance. These scurvy dogs escaped from a greyhound track and were lookin' fer new ships, and peglegs to chew on.

The Crown was represented. Unbeknownst to First Mate Zoë, the Mountie is about to clap her in irons for piracy.


Soon, the tables are turned, and her Majesty's finest is in the brig.

It was a freezing cold adventure, but a good time was had by all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The little gem of Dartmouth

We had a family outing yesterday with Zoë's BFF and her family. We went to Shubie Park, which is called the Little Gem of Dartmouth. It's a great green space -- lots of woods and ponds and canals. According to Zoë and friend, chock full of fairy houses too.

The highlight of the walk was feeding chickadees and nuthatches. The little critters will take seed right out of your hand. It's so cool when their itty bitty feet land on your hand. It rained on us, but we persisted until the birds quit coming (and possibly they were laughing at the goofy humans standing in the rain holding out birdseed).

Zoë gets a customer:
And me too -- he even looked at the camera for his picture.

In Nova Scotia, they'll even steal your recycling!

Monday is trash/recycling day here. HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) has a pretty aggressive recycling program. We get "green carts" for curbside composting, trash pickup, and weekly recycling pickup. They've got recycling bins everywhere -- all the parks and city streets have the tripartite bins for trash, compost/organics, and containers.

It takes a fair bit of sorting. The cans, bottles, milk cartons and plastics (#1 and #2 only) go into clear blue bags. Paper goes in a separate bag, and corrugated cardboard gets bundled and tied with string.

As you would expect in any city, there are street people in town who go through the trash bins and take out the redeemables. It's not just soda and beer cans and bottles here -- most bottles and beverage cans have redeemable deposits. It's inconvenient to return them though -- you can't just take them back to stores. You have to take them to a recycling depot.

So, the first week we were here, on Sunday night, I put my recycling at the curb, and this guy comes by on a bicycle, pulling a shopping cart. He goes through my blue bag, takes out anything that looks redeemable, ties the bag up neatly, and goes on his way. OK, I think, he's being enterprising and trying to make a little money. A little weird that he's going through my trash, but OK.

Last night, two guys in a white van come zipping down the street, jump out of the van, grab both my blue bags and toss 'em into their van, then speed away. I thought about this for a while, and decided I don't like it, for the following reasons:

1) their van was newer and a lot nicer than my car, so dire economic necessity was not an authentic motive.
2) they took the bags and everything in them. Bags I paid for. What are they going to do with all the non-redeemable stuff in those bags?
3) yeah, I could go to the trouble of redeeming my own containers (and in the future, I will!), but the HRM benefits when I don't, and I'm OK with that because they've got a pretty darn good recycling program here.
4) I put a fair amount of work and time into sorting my recycling. The recycling bandits did not. That's not kosher.

So now I've got to put my recycling out on Monday morning, before work. And I've got to create a separate sorting area for the redeemables.

This place is weird.

Monday, September 7, 2009


We went to the Public Gardens yesterday, and there were beautiful Dahlias in bloom. And one princess.

It's a Small World After All

Zoë has a new friend, J, who lives just down the street. J is in Zoë's class at school, and they take the school bus together. They're getting along famously. In fact, they're next door playing at the playground right now. They both like piling rocks on the slide.

I was talking to J's mom the other day. J has food allergies, so her diet is restricted, like Zoë's. Her mom told me her best friend, who lives in Manitoba, is a vegan, so she also knows about veganism.

For a few years, I've been part of a vegetarian community on an online message board. So, Saturday night, an acquaintance on the board, S, who lives in Manitoba (see where this is going?) posted that she was just on the phone with her best friend in Nova Scotia, and her friend said that her daughter had a new friend, a little vegan girl from New York. S put two and two together and realized that the new friend was Zoë. So, J's mom's best friend is S, someone I know from the message board. How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Growing... growing...

Here are some views of Zoë on her first day of school in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Our house here in Nova Scotia has a layout similar to our house back home, and a spot in it for the traditional first day of school picture.

Kindergarten (which is called Primary here in Canada):

First grade:

Grade Two (as it's called here):

Back to School

Today was the first day of school for Zoë and she loved it. We've heard only good things about her school and the teachers so far.

Her bus stop is just down the street. We can see the house from there, and there are a bunch of other kids at her stop, including a girl in her class who lives just a couple of blocks away.

After school, Zoë said "It was great! I love my teacher! It was fantastic!"

Day one was a success.

Monday, August 31, 2009

You've heard of the kid in the candy store...

Here's the candy store, Sweet Jane's in downtown Halifax.

And here's the kid, in over her head...

I brought my own New York cupcake, thanks!

Zoë chose some kind of crazy everlasting infinite push pop. She was working on that thing for more than an hour. We took a leisurely stroll around Point Pleasant Park and that pop just kept going and going...

Bud the Spud, We Hardly Knew Ye

We took Rob into Halifax for lunch, so he could experience the glory that is Bud the Spud's french fries, before Bud True rides into the sunset. (For the story of Bud's near retirement last year, thwarted by the recession, and his impending retirement this year, see here: Bud and his lovely wife Nancy are Halifax institutions, having operated their chip truck downtown since 1977. He makes some good fries, boy howdy.

Sadly, when we arrived, Bud and his truck were not there. His old spot on Spring Garden Road was taken by another chip truck, operated by "Bill's Family." We saw a fella with a bag of what looked like Bud's fries (in a greasy brown bag), so I asked him if Bud was gone. Figures, I'd harass a deaf-mute, who handed me a piece of paper to write my query upon. Apparently he still didn't know what I was talking about, and just shrugged. So, we walked all ten feet over to Bill's chip truck and gave 'em a try.

They looked promising. Nice and greasy, perfectly browned, with bits of potato skin visible.

The test...

Zoë made some friends -- the little park in front of the truck was mobbed by starlings and pigeons. Bill's fries have the urban wildlife seal of approval.

I'm pretty sure this guy is the pigeon from Mo Willems' books ( He looks vaguely familiar...

The chip truck offers free water for the four-legged. Unless they want a straw...

The fries were good.

In Canada, they eat fries with a fork, even greasy brown bag fries. This may be because they put all kinds of weird crap on their fries. Gravy, for instance. And there's something called Poutine, which is apparently a staple here, despite having a vaguely obscene-sounding name. It's fries with cheese curds and brown gravy. I'll not be trying that. I'm a french fry purist -- just salt and a little Heinz ketchup for me, thanks. And I'll be eating them with my fingers. ("Poutine" apparently has several meanings in French, including "fat woman." Yet another reason to avoid it.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Charlotte the spider vs. Tropical Storm Danny

Tropical Storm Danny dumped a ton of rain on us Saturday. It was actually worse than that wimpy Hurricane Bill. Sunday morning, we found an enormous spider rebuilding her web outside the bedroom window. We had a really perfect view of the whole process. It was pretty cool. She worked pretty fast and had that thing built in a flash.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where da whales?

Our pals back home gave us a gift certificate for a whale watching tour out of Halifax Harbour. We love us some whales, so off we went! The weather was perfect -- sunny and cool.

Sadly, we didn't see any whales. The Murphy's On The Water tour doesn't actually leave the harbour -- it goes to the mouth of the harbour and then turns around. It is a pretty big harbour -- the longest in the world. The "captain" told Rob that they haven't seen any whales since Hurricane Bill last week. We saw some seagulls. And two seals popped their heads above the water. And we got a nice view of the harbour.

Here's the guide, who, according to her bio, is a marine biology major, as she explains to an attentive audience that lobsters are really delicious.

She explained how to tell males from females. And told us that if a lobster ever pinched her finger, she'd pull its entire arm off because "they can grow another one." I'm sure the delicious lobsters made note of that. She also said that lobsters don't feel any pain when you boil them. This was probably also news to the delicious lobster, and is a convenient falsehood that has been debunked by scientific research (But don't take my word for it. See here: The guide also told us that seagulls are "obnoxious" and that fishermen hate seals because they eat all the fish. All of which made me think that the wildlife probably give this tour boat a wide berth, if they know what's good for 'em.

We found a tiny door on the boat. It's more than likely a portal into John Malkovich's brain, but I'm hoping it's actually George Clooney's portal. I bet he'd be a lot of fun to be.

We also saw Theodore Tugboat, star of a popular Canadian children's TV show. According to Wikipedia, "The show deals with life learning issues portrayed by the tugs or other ships in the harbour. Most often, the tugs have a problem, or get involved in a struggle with each other or another ship, but they always manage to help one another resolve these problems and see them through. Their main focus however, is to always make the Big Harbour the friendliest harbour in the world, and to always do a good job with their work related tasks." I guess Theodore is kind of a maritime Thomas the Tank Engine. Zoë is very hot to cruise the harbour on Theodore Tugboat. He does look very friendly. Here he is heading for port -- behind him is one of the friendly orange oil tankers heading for the refinery.

See ya next time, Theodore!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beautiful beach day

It was a gorgeous day, so we headed back to Rainbow Haven beach.

The water was painfully cold. But the sand was warm and the sky was blue.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A grey, cold day, but we went to the beach anyway.

We went exploring around Dartmouth and Cole Harbour today. I saw a promising sounding road called Cow Bay Road on a map, so we headed southeast.

First, we came across Silver Sands Beach Park, where there's a giant moose for some reason.

Right across the little parking area from the moose, someone is building a huge, ugly, Italianate McMansion. Gorgeous views, however. And a windmill that was whipping around like crazy in the wind.

Silver Sands beach isn't much of a beach, and there's about a one inch strip of sand on it. Mostly, it was a lot of cool rocks and TONS of seaweed.

Maybe Hurricane Bill brought all the seaweed up. We found a few shells and rocks, and I picked up a nice driftwood stick of the sort that I like.

There were mountains of seaweed, at least 5 feet high in places.

There was also a nice pond nearby, surrounded by marshes. I'll bet there's good birdwatching there. I'm going to take Zoë back for the fall migration.

Next, Cow Bay Road took us to a really nice, sandy beach called Rainbow Haven Beach. It had restrooms! Or as they like to call them here, "washrooms." There was a warning about arsenic in the water, so we didn't partake.

The beach was cold and windy, but Zoë could not resist the water.

Which caused her to squeal, run away, run back, squeal some more, run away, etc.

A good time was had by all.

More seaweed.

Some days are better than others if you're a lifeguard. This one looked pretty cold.