The following is the story of our recent road trip to Bear River, Nova Scotia…

Hummingbird House

This is the amazing 150 year old captain’s house with a sprawling 5000 square feet of beauty, antiques and charm where we stayed. I had booked the two guest rooms well in advance for us and our friends and arranged for purchasing four tickets for the sold out performance of Hold Mommy’s Cigarette. So super excited but a bit nervous that maybe I just might be over-selling how wonderful it would all be. I needn’t have worried.

Hummingbird House

Before Shelley departed to prepare for her performance, she asked what time we wanted breakfast and before I could answer, she announced “OK, 11:00 it is then”.  Always the comic!  She told me that after the show she is usually drained and crashes while she regroups so I didn’t expect any special treatment

Hold Mommy’s Cigarette

She and her husband set up and prepare for the show with minimal help, the set simply a reproduction of her growing up environment.

The Set

During the performance she plays her seven year old self, her mother, her grandmother and her current self.  She deals with such emotional and traumatic events with such ease, moving effortlessly from character to character.  We belly laughed and at times felt our eyes welling up with tears. It was truly a world class performance.

Gramma Persona

Following, we returned to Hummingbird House, stripped down to our bathing suits and wrapped in the fluffy robes left for us in our rooms.  We skipped the sauna warm up and headed straight to the Nordic salt water spa that overlooks the Bear River and soaked and soaked and soaked until pruney, chatting and sipping wine.  Actually I think we stayed there relaxing with our friends until at least 1:00 in the morning.

Hot Tub Heaven

That night we slept with the angels.  Morning came with the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee and when we descended to explore we found the breakfast table already set for the four of us.  Cereals, toast, homemade jams and cake, freshly squeezed orange juice.

Good Morning

The sign she left on the table for us made me smile.  So very Shelley!

Host with the Most

Four hard boiled eggs gathered that morning, two blue, two brown, prepared with love and so much care.

Farm Fresh

We asked Shelley to join us while we sipped coffee and chatted about the show and her life in general.  She truly has had quite a challenging life and has come through the other side with such dignity and strength.  I could have sat there listening to her for hours.  Even as draining as it must be for her to perform then change costumes to become super host she carried it out with such ease.

Super Host

After breakfast was cleared away we packed up our gear and headed down to the barn to visit with Jason (Shelley’s husband) and the Farmacy menagery.

Farmacy Visit

I have such a soft spot for ginger cats! There was Marlowe, Peewee, Junior and Archie. Lucy Maude, the momma ginger, had previously departed for unknown adventures.  Then there’s Johnny the black feral barn cat who is not a favourite friend of the Gingers.

Lucie Maud’s Tribe

They have an impressive variety of critters all with very distinct personalities.  The shy and very grumpy pot belly pig. The curious sheep. One somewhat aggressive alpha goat who was insistent on challenging Francois to a head butting competition. The cautious feral black cat with vampire fangs.  The adopted cow that nobody wanted.


Jason told us a hilarious story about the time Shelley called out to him and asked where Mork, the goat, was to which he answered: ‘out in the yard somewhere’.  To which she replied: ‘no, just got a call, he’s down at the legion and it’s not even happy hour.’  They said that one or other of the animals with wander off into the town from time to time but they have become such a well known fixture in Bear River that it’s never really a problem.

The Farmily

Let me see if I can remember the names of Shelley and Jason’s crew.  There’s Maynard the Indonesian Ayam Cemani Rooster (complete with black feathers, black internal organs and black bones), Rosie, Tammy the Silkie with feathered slippers and Susie. Then there’s Oscar the cow; Bean, Hana, Gilbert, Mork  and Mindy the goats; Molly B, Seymour and Audrey the pigs; Sweetie the sheep; and last but definitely not least, Steve the pony. I think my favourite of their critters was Phyllis the Frizzle hen with her perpetual bad feather day.

Phyllis Diller

Shelley refers to these wonderful animals as her ‘farma-suitables’. We came home totally relaxed and refreshed.  Great entertainment, beautiful healing surroundings.  The very best medicine indeed!



Finally a post about boats and boat-related stuff for you.

After six years of putting together the winter igloo, we felt it was time for a change.  For practical reasons it was time.  The old tarp that we’ve carried from the time R.E.D. came home with us in 2013, the PVC electrical conduit tubing that was labelled and colour coded port and starboard, numbered from bow to stern and all the plastic tie wraps that went into securing everything each year…it was time for an upgrade.

The discussion centred around what was practical.  It centred around costs.  Should we replace the tarps?  It was time, after yearly patching.  Should we re-design the igloo so there would be less stress on the rub rails and stanchions?

When we thought of what we would need do and the costs involved to make those improvements we decided it was long overdo to upgrade.  Shrink wrapping was considered.  A lot of boaters around here – mostly power boats – winterize in this manner.  For me it was an instant ‘no way’.  All that plastic wasted each year.  Not to mention the costs….each year!

If we were going to invest in something more long term then why not a portable garage shelter or what in Montreal was referred to as a tempo?  When I mentioned the term here a neighbour said: ‘oh you mean a Quebec garage?’

Decision made.  Order placed.

We were a bit late in the season winterizing R.E.D.  As usual we were one of the last to haul out and she spent a couple of weeks at a local marina waiting her turn for the engine’s three-year servicing.  Plus there was more focus on getting the Crow’s Nest roof tight for the winter.  It’s not been super cold but our worry about installing the garage anchors in frozen ground was becoming a real concern.

The order finally arrived…part of it that is…four out of six boxes, and you can be sure Francois counted every single nut and bolt, carefully checking it against the packing slip and assembly manual, highlighting discrepancies.  Lots of apologies from the company.  Lots of apologies from the shipper.  This was not looking good.  End of November.  Frozen ground.  No winter cover yet for our lady.

Until we decided how to proceed, Francois installed the full enclosure in case of snow and covered the anchor well to protect against water infiltration.  Because of the size we ordered  – 30‘ x 12’ – we needed to remove the mast, so carefully rolled it, ancient Egyptian style, under R.E.D.’s belly..

And  the solar structure was too high, but thankfully Francois had had the foresight to create a junction for easy removal.

Then we waited.  Company issued a new order with many more apologies but within two days the shipping company had located the two missing boxes…many more apologies issued…and boxes delivered…all bits and pieces accounted for…

…just in time for a wicked wind/rain/snow storm.  Luckily the snow missed us but wow, was it ever cold and windy! And yes, I still check the wind and wave charts daily…on or off the water.

This project is every kid’s dream…or kid at heart…to have a life-sized mecano set to assemble.

Once we got into a rhythm, assembly went well.  Between the two of us the skeleton was assembled the first day…

The next day I had commitments so Francois called friends to come help mount the tarp….

Now we have a place during our off-season months to work on the boat unimpeded by weather with lots of extra room for storage.

A beast of a structure it is, weighing in excess of 700 lbs, so bring it on Mother Nature.  We’ve got it covered!

With some of the leftover PVC conduit piping from R.E.D.’s old igloo I made a wreath to place on an empty space on RED by the SEA. To all who follow this blog, may this coming holiday season bring joy, health and happiness, however and where ever you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by.  Just because there will soon be snow on the ground here on the south shore of Nova Scotia, doesn’t mean there won’t still be stories for us to share with you.  So drop by any time.  You know us by now…always another adventure on the horizon


For those reading this in a language other than English (see language choice upper right side bar of each post), please forgive the automatic translation.

CROW’S NEST – it takes a village

CROW’S NEST – it takes a village

This post has taken SO long to reach the point where I felt it to be publish-worthy.  Francois finished the exterior of the Crow’s Nest a while ago, making it all roof tight and weather proofed as only Francois could do.  It’s identity was to be that of storage primarily and secondarily, green house.  Which it is.  But during the process though we got comments from family and friends and neighbours…such as…what is it?…a he-shed?….a she-shed?…and the best was, why not a tiny house?..and why not put in a loft for sleeping?  We became a neighbourhood curiosity with people stopping by from time to time to have a look and we became known, not as the yellow house with the boat in the yard but as the place with THE SHED.

So let me begin at the beginning…

It all started with a need for storage, a picture to inspire and lots and lots of planning and drafting.

We enlisted the services of a local guy to dig out and grade a place for R.E.D. to rest off-season. The space was to eventually house a location for a shed.  If you go back to the criteria we used when house hunting three years ago (three years already?), the property was to have a garage or at least a place to store the boat or room to build a garage.

Then came another local guy who agreed to pour the foundation for the future build.  The deal was that Francois would do all the form work in advance.  On the day of the pour, the guy showed up and offered Francois a job, the forms were prepared that well.  At this stage we had  bathroom issues and winter was approaching so instead of splitting energies, the decision was made to work indoors and begin again outdoors in the spring.

Next step…ordering and delivery of the materials…all locally sourced.  Early spring we began again.  Friends showed up for the wall raising.  Our neighbourhood supervisor arrived with all the right gear…and a jar of his harvested maple syrup.  How sweet is that!?

And supervise he did!  Rocking chair and all.

In no time three walls were up…

The rest Francois took care of himself, installing the beams and trusses. I helped when I could…holding stuff…handing stuff…acting as the ‘go-fer’.  You all know my strength is mostly on the inside.

It didn’t take much time before things were actually looking real.

I ordered windows and doors…locally sourced again. And for the roofing we hired the same company that replaced RED by the Sea’s roof.

The green house glass was a bit of an issue.  Should we go with laminated glass, tempered glass, polycarbonate?  Online research gave no definitive preference.  Each type had their benefits.  Finally after consulting the leading Nova Scotia green house expert, we went with 10 mm tempered glass, professionally installed, each of the four panels weighing 70 pounds.

The electricity is all complete now inside and out, again locally contracted. The black lamps  at each entry weren’t my first choice but Francois wanted ones with motion sensors so when he goes out to HIS SHED at night he won’t have to fumble around in the dark.  Working in the shed at night…really? Can you hear the eye roll? They do however have a touch of the nautical which I like.

Adding a new structure on the property created another big discussion.  How do you make a modern building blend with a yellow-sided 90 year old home by the sea?  You make it disappear…like a shadow.  The black steal roof  with white doors and windows are the shared common factors and the rest we made ‘disappear’ with black stained ship lap and cedar for the cladding.

Weather depending, the rest will be inside finishing.  Even on chilly days, when the sun shines, it’s all toasty warm inside.  Come spring there will be landscaping to pretty it up a bit but for now we are complete for this season.

Thanks for stopping by.  It’s now time to put our dear R.E.D. to bed for the winter season.  Please come back soon for another visit to see how we’ll accomplish this Quebec style.

For those reading this in a language other than English (see language choice upper right side bar of each post), please forgive the automatic translation.