Archive for November, 2010

November 29, 2010

Scarecrows

From Pleasant Bay I got to Cheticamp, famous for its history of rug-making, and the heart of Acadian Nova Scotia. To read more about Cajuns, Acadians, the southern US, and what it has to do with Colonial Canada, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acadians.

This place is gorgeous and would make a damn good drive. Everyone speaks french, a strange, curling kind of french, the Newfy version of Canada’s francophone percentage.

Every house has the Acadian star above its door, like a Canadian version of the Confederate Banner, and the crab-traps that stand in stacks like everywhere else in NS are painted red white and blue.

Outside Cheticamp there’s a scarecrow village overseen by a local named Joe Delaney. In a massive central circle hemmed in by smatterings of small gatherings and even a few solo’s, nameless effigies in costume jump in beside presidents and royal family members and other celebrities, to a total number exceeding a century.

A character or two were originally installed to protect some veggies doing their best to grow up and be eaten, but as usually happens when a species gets together, the scarecrows eventually multiplied.

http://en.cheticamp.ca/attractions.php

Inverness, famous for folk music, was a disappointment, only because of the ranting and raving I’d come to expect about it. To the ears of a cyclist three days away but fast approaching, Inverness had taken on the mental image of a Mecca where I would stay for a few hours and drink at the bar with fishermen. Not so much. Just like any other town, beautiful in its normality, but sparse. I ate lunch at an abandoned gas station on the outskirts and then went on biking all the way through Mabou where the entire town had gathered in a local watering hole, kids included, and a band was making it happen big time on bar-worthy strings: Tunes from instruments that had been learned on by the same Old Boys 30 years before I was even born, and knew their maritime gusto well-enough by now that they practically played themselves.

Must be honest though, I was desperate to get out of Cape Breton. The Canso causeway, the link to mainland NS, was looming in my mind and it was hard to break the temptation about making a record-ride and hitting Antigonish in the morning.

Unfortunately I’m like the rest of the mortals and right outside of New Port Hood I ended up in a wild-growing field, the bike hidden under bushes and me in my green bivy, snuggled in the damp sleeping bag in the soaking grass, the occasional car headlights washing me and then vanishing again.

 

At 0500 it started to rain and by 0900 I’d reached Port Hastings and the causeway. I’d woken up in typical fashion, because the drops were hitting my face and crawling down my T-shirt into the bag. Its amazing what a rainy day does: What takes you twenty minutes to pack and get ready on a yummy warm Sunday morning takes 2.4 seconds in the dark, weeping dawn of a coastal storm.

The causeway was interesting enough [Canso is from the Mi’kmak word Kamsook which refers to a ‘location opposite lofty cliffs’ ]. The last time I went over it I didn’t even see it in the pitch dark, the lights inside the bus making mirrors of the dark windows. The thoroughfare is comprised of a swing bridge to allow the passage of large ships, and leads onto the long wall of rock on which the road is built. The artificial barrier is there to block sea-ice from entering the straight which allows for a large year-round sheltered harbor. A freighter lay at anchor just inside.

On the mainland, getting out of my rain jacket, I took breakfast at a Husky and took a serious chunk out of War And Peace, seriously ready to hang out and eat gas-station food for as long as it took.

Eventually the rain stopped as it always does, and Antigonish was only forty K out [two hours].

That night was spent in a dorm at St. Francis Xavier. It’s an old one and the mahogany made me think of Hogwarts [no I’m not a fan, no I’m not fan, please don’t think I’m a fan, but I have seen the movies – because of girlfriends – and I couldn’t help but be reminded].

It was also steep – but forty bucks but when you arrive soaked is something you’d skip the insects for and burn under a magnifying glass.

In a McDonald’s I met a fat, adventurous couple from Powell River who’d driven out here in a van that was ready to blow out and settle for its axles. They’d been everywhere, and by everywhere I mean everywhere, you get the picture, and we talked and talked till my computer battery died and the McFlurry was a sad sticky pool at the bottom of the soft paper cup.

 

 

November 17, 2010

Bubblegum slavery

The Snooty St. neighbourhood of Van, BC is a sweet plastic bubble. It’s almost as if Snootyville, the whole thing meaning coffee shops, community centre, movie theatre and skinny, yuppie Snootyville Mommies walking dogs in sweaters and kids on leashes, had been manufactured in a small third world country by a nine-year-old kid. After they made Snootyville, they wrapped us up in way too much cellophane [or bubble wrap, haha, get it?] and shipped the whole neighbourhood to Canada, dog-spas and everything.

Yes sir, If you want to raise kids raise them here, but not before you shell out a million or so for a doll-house beneath the maples.

To qualify myself, I was born and raised here, so I’m a Snootyville expert. Despite the immersion in Bubble-dom I’ve kept myself snoot-less enough to speak on the subject from an objective stand-point: You see, due to a dragnet of economic stuff my family lost the house we owned here in 2002, and now we’re renting. We probably have official paper status as the poorest family within a thirty-block radius, so despite living here, breathing here, and seeing Snootyville fathers come home from ninety-hour work weeks to kiss their beautiful wine-dependant wives, I am not part of the Bubble.

There’s more to this Snootyville Bubble crap, but let me sum it up like this: Snooty St. people are very self-aware, mostly because they’re aware of nothing else, except Club Med and the latest issue of People. Everyone recycles, no one smokes, sins are well hidden behind closed doors, and every weekend there’s a baby-shower or shopping party going on. That being said, it’s not like that nine-year-old kid in the third world country who makes it all possible is aware of Snootyville either.

November 17, 2010

Black vs white vs grey

This is one of those things you can dig yourself into. You can touch them, arguments like this, but why invest in them? They go around in circles. Its like sitting at that dinner table with friends every second holiday, ‘solving the problems of the world’, going through every current event and sometimes arguing but always coming to the same shake-your-head-conclusion, a brief silence, and then moving on to other more uplifting topics. The way I see it now, which might be different from how I see it in two days, is that big world issues [price-fixing] and facts as old as gravity [the rich get richer and the poor get poorer] are there and always will be. There will be Ignorants and Illuminati in every age, always someone working to help people and always someone getting rich from exploitation, whether they know it or not – and quite frequently they don’t know it.

One thing we can do is ignore it until we die, at least in the city where I live. We are part of the group getting rich from exploitation whether we know it or not – even those of us who’ve joined the trendy ‘fight’ against it are still benefiting.

The following post is something I wrote to a teacher as part of a get-to-know-you exercise, not just shits and giggles. I shit and giggle about many things, fiction for instance, but topics like this are exhausting aren’t they?

PS. I promise as best as I can that this blog will never become one of those super-concentrated-on-righteousness sites. The computer I’m writing on was doubtlessly made in a large low-paying factory, possibly by a child. The other side of the coin is, these tiny little notebook thingys were developed to be cheap an affordable for people doing online education in developing countries. Anyway, let’s face it, if we told that kid to quit his job because he was being exploited, he wouldn’t in most cases. Not because he was working in captivity for instance [though some are], but because he needs the thirteen cents a day for food. Difficult world we live in.

November 16, 2010

This one time I almost made a mistake…

Shortest blost pog ever:

So what happened now exactly? It’s been a few months and the slower third of you would assume I just went and died in NS and the ones who know better would see the truth: That the bike trip just kept on keeping on and the blog keeled over by the roadside.
Yep. It’s been a month or two, or three. But here I am again. Sorry you didn’t get rid of me that easily. A lot’s happened, the weather’s cooling and I’m raring to strap some skis on, and here I am still catching up on summer.
Enough. I’m diving back in.
Look for more of me in a day or two. No promises, since that never works, but here’s a kick at serious commitment to short internet rambles.
The operative word being short. At least this time.

P.S. This blog just became a school project. Dont ask me how because I must’ve been asleep when it happened, or worse, faking an attention span. For now I’ll roll with the punches.