Archive for the ‘Halifax’ Category

The far side*

January 22, 2010

*with apologies to Gary Larson…..

This blog’s focus has become fuzzy for a reason.  After two years, three months and 10 days it’s time to note that my time in Halifax is drawing to a a close.  I’ll be back to visit, to walk a dog, to dine downtown, to walk across the Old Bridge.  But for now I must be going. I have another week on the job, another 10 days after that to pack.  And then it’s on to the next place, which in this case turns out to be the place from which I came to here.

I’ve enjoyed the weather, the seafood, the sunrises and the ferry rides each workday morning.  The road construction and some other stuff not quite so much.  I haven’t been a fair reporter but I have been one dedicated to sahring what seems to be interesting and evocative. Any errors, of course, have been my own.

I promised to keep up this blog until I learned to drive sufficiently to earn a license.  Which never happened–or hasn’t yet. A promise broken but not the reader’s heart, I’m guessing.

So, I’m off to the far side, where no one notices if my hair is purple or the lipstick’s missing.  I’m glad I had these two and almost-a-half years, but glad, too, to wind up and move on.

I went to Halifax…and then I was gone.


Just when I think I have the whole cross border thing figured out

January 13, 2010

Since the “Nigerian bomber” as the news reporters have succumbed to calling the event, Canadian travelers have been warned about the rigors of security to expect between Canada and the US.  With ALA in Boston this year, I was dancing a happy dance at a mere 90 minute flight before this little monkey wrench.

In accordance with the newest rules, I packed my laptop in a purpose built laptop bag, put unguents in a baggie and eschewed any other carry-on (goodbye, pink patent leather purse–not).  I arrived the requisite three hours early for my flight.  The place was indeed hopping and the security line, for the first time in y numerous flights out of here, was bifurcated and doubly agented so each person could be fully and determinedly “processed.”

The first good news was that removing my belt did not leave me unable to take a step forward for fear of slacks-slide. After getting x-rayed, I was shuffled off to a nice man who asked me to put my hands in my pcokets and then remove them and extend my palms.  They were then carefully tested for the detritus of–explosives? illicit drugs? crayon wax?  In any event, I passed and was sent back to mt laptop bag, coat, etc.  This heap was picked through by a nice lady who chatted at me the whole while that she had me switch on every one of my electronic gadgets, forcing me to realize that I have become a walking billboard for the 21st century.  She wanted me to switch on one of the thumb drives until I explained what it was.

Then–surprise!–no body scan, not so much as a slapdash wanding!  This is big time news for me, the ever-patted-down.

Off to US Customs, where I was asked only two questions: in what city do I live and did I want my passport stamped.  I’m telling you, walking around with purple hair pays off: you’re so conspicuous that no one wants to test your crafty secret possibilities.

No complaints there.  And the waitress at the Spirit of the Maritimes–the only watering hole this side of security–kept refilling my coffee cup.  Good morning, world!

Hard times in the South End

January 12, 2010

Today my nighbourhood managed to sustain a fire of major proportion as well as a flood to brought traffic to a standstill–all before 8 am.  Right now, the cops are parked in front of my house and I ahve no idea why.  Just another quiet day in the neighbourhood.

The fire took out some eateries long South Street–on a morning that I just happened to choose Morris on my way to work.  The flood was the accidental sort–a burst bit of pavement compromised a fire hydrant and then we had skating rink.

Not a bad time to leave town,methinks….

Walk out to winter*

January 10, 2010

(*with apologies to Aztec Camera for title rip-off)

Unlike last year, this winter is unfolding delicately.  The cold is deepening and the snow doesn’t melt away before more blows atop what’s fallen. but none of it is much: the streets and sidewalks are negotiable without much thought and the ‘dozers are able to keep ahead of the curve.

Folks who are careful have blanketed their most needy garden plants with evergreen boughs. Birdfeeders in the park are filled with fresh seed by 9 am, regardless of weekday.

As noted, the Public Garden is locked up tight but in just a few days I’ll be in Boston, where the Public Garden is open year ’round (and where, about five or six years ago, I had a grand middle-of-the-night snowball fight with the son).  What Halifax has, that Boston doesn’t, in winter, is a huge eastern sky. The Boston sky is eastern, of course, but there is something about it that lies lower than the mountain of clouds rise here.

Both cities, however, sport architectural eras that hold snow prettily onto their rooflines and across their windowsills.  These are houses meant to be seen, by passersby, walking along in January.

Ironic, how the city in the culture that prizes “we” above “me” offers up private houses more readily than public spaces, while the original “me” city maintains its public space for all, all year round.

Happy new year–really

January 4, 2010

We’ve got snow.  We’ve got slush. We don’t have working traffic lights or passable-on-foot intersections (unless you’ve brought along your hip waders and/or a ladder). But that’s okay: it’s winter in Halifax. It’s the tradeoff for lilacs in late May and red leaves in October.  One of my favourite things about this place is the cycle of “real” seasons, none of them outstaying its welcome and each one a surprise every year, catching up just when I’ve almost forgotten how extreme and specific it can be.

So, wherever you are, go outside, take a deep breath (as long as the hills aren’t burning) and happy new year.

Civic opera

January 2, 2010

After 35 years of observing Berkeley politics, and before that (in the late 1960’s), those of Los Angeles, Bob has become a civic trend spotter.  To ring in the new year, he made his pronouncement of the local big three:

1. The condition of the water in the harbour

2. The winter parking ban, and

3. The open season‘s brevity at the Public Garden

He freely admits that the last named item concerns far fewer members of the government and of the populace as well.  The first one, on the other hand, he believes will remain unresolved in the lifetime of anyone he knows, while the radical suggestion made by  freshman classmate to cure Los Angeles’ smog in 1968, by banning driving itself within LA,  he thinks, might have some merit for resolving the second. (He’s saying that with tongue in cheek, methinks).

Now, having resided near rivers that were flammable, I’m not so sure that the harbour water is in an irreversible state:  at least what fouls it is organic (for the most part). And my sympathies for drivers who want to park are tempered by my desire as a pedestrian to see oncoming traffic rather than bulldozed snowdrifts at the carless intersection corners. But the Public Garden–now there’s a fight I’ve been spoiling to yell about since the moment the gates slammed shut two weeks after I moved here, which happened to be the beginning of November.

And then there’s the live lobster problem…

January 1, 2010

Flight security risks and reassessments have been a huge part of North American news this week.  One element that hasn’t risen on the national or international radar is how folks who normally fly out of Halifax armed with a live lobster are supposed to travel now.  Really.  There’s a ton of info published on how long to leave for your clearance at the airport, how to long to leave if you are flying into the US from Canada, how much (how little) you can take on board, and so forth. But finding info up front about whether a live lobster counts as a second carryon (and obviously it can’t count as a small purse, a laptop or baby food) or crutches isn’t available.

Not that I travel with my own lobster.  But a lot of folks do from here.  And I had one meeting cut short this week because the other person was going to drive to the airport to find out. She didn’t.  Find out that it.  She did drive to the airport.

Happy new year.  may your lobster live long and prosper.

Traffic x 3

December 31, 2009

Although the traffic signals at the itnersection closest to the house remain in full red blink, other traffic related stories have caught more of my attention:

CBC radio caught up with some kayakers who have taken to riding the surf created by the ferries plying the harbour between Halifax and Dartmouth and, predicatbly a day later, the lcoal paper offers a repeat of the story, in which the Metro Transit folks aren’t too happy.  The kayakers, however, have done a splendid job of video-ing the adventure and supplied it with a soundtrack that wreaks local as well (Joel Plaskett’s “Nowhere with You”).

And McNab’s Island, which I’ve loved to wonder about out there in the harbour, has got a restored trail, so adventuring there, come warm weather, can become a better orderred reality. (In my uninformed imagination, I’ve been tipping it up next to Peddocks Island, in Boston Harbor).

Before then, if all goes well, the traffic lights may be restored in my more immediate neighbourhood…or not.

Back to work for some of us

December 29, 2009

The street’s been put back together for six days now, although the traffic light continues to blink red in both directions and apparently water-soluble paint was used to mark the crosswalks, which disappeared on day four. Because many offices in HRM were closed yesterday as a kind of salute to Boxing Day falling on Saturday (when absolutely everything except Starbucks was closed), maybe it will take the arrival of someone somewhere in the inner workings of traffic control to flip the signal switch.

For my part, I was thrilled that yesterday’s day off conspired to be fair weather as well, so I took a walk to collect some curious sights around downtown.  Here they are.

The pluses and perils of dressing Canadian

December 27, 2009

Across the past three winters I’ve accumulated a few bought-locally garments, mostly when more weight than my California closet offered has been necessary for, if not survival, comfort.  Recently, this has included some basic blue jeans from Old Navy–and I’ve discovered that the Canadian issues come with bilingual labels.  I don’t mean just the size (“G” vs “L”, for instance) but even the corporate tagline of “since 1994” (what a boast!) is mirrored on the waistband lining with “depuis  1994.”

More problematic could have been, had I not found it, the small metal tag on the back shirt tail of the Roots turtleneck.  Since my airport security luck runs thin to begin with, this could have shoved me even further up the blacklist. (The tag is sewn to the exterior, boasts “Roots”, of course, and isn’t nearly as cunning as the usual little beaver Roots slaps on everything).

Can’t find green Chuck Taylors here. But the styles of Josef Seibel slipons imported here are vastly superior to what shows up south of the border. There are, of course, no shortages of boots (rain as well as snow) on offer.  But silly socks come in relatively few options.

And I continue to be amazed at the enormous number of bridal wear shops.  Is it because Niagra Falls is located mostly in Canada?