A good way to unwind after a busy few days in Toronto is to visit your mother-in-law in Halifax. Life in Halifax is already slower than in many Canadian cities and when your mother-in-law is 97, things get even quieter. On Saturday I walked around the neighbourhood, bought a copy of Helen Creighton's Folklore of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia (full of tidbits like "if the change of the moon falls on Sunday you are sure to have rain before the week is out" and "eat pumpkin seeds for wet bed") at a garage sale, poked through the many small piles of used goods that had been left on the sidewalks (turned out this was the one day of the year when people were allowed to put stuff out—on other days they would have been ticketed) and fantasized about living in a little wooden house (white with black shutters, no roof overhang) in a city that is 261 years old.
Cape Breton Fiddlers who are raising money for their participation in the Glengarry Highland Games at Maxville, Ontario this summer. The church-turned-theatre was drafty and the chairs weren't too comfortable, but the music, performed by a mixture of professional and amateur musicians, was lots of fun.Young fiddlers and old fiddlers plus guitar players, singers, step-dancers (one was my mother-in-law's housekeeper) and a woman who played the "lowland pipes" kept my feet tapping all afternoon. Some of the better-known performers were Wendy MacIsaac and David MacIsaac (fiddle and guitar), and Leanne Aucoin (fiddle). Not exactly a kitchen party (there was no booze) but by the end of the afternoon I swear I was talking with a Cape Breton accent and I probably could have step-danced if anyone had asked me to.
Here's a taste of Wendy and David MacIsaac:
I was still in the Maritime groove on the flight back to Vancouver so I watched the movie Grown Up Movie Star which takes place during a cold barren winter in a small Newfoundland town that a lot of people can't wait to get away from. The main character is Ruby, a feisty fourteen-year-old girl on the edge of sexual awakening who, along with her younger sister, is left in the care of her ill-equipped, irresponsible and guilt-ridden dad while her mother runs off to Hollywood. Ruby, who totters around the icy town in knee-high high-heeled boots, wreaks havoc on the people who care most about her and doesn't let up until all secrets are revealed. The scenery is unrelentingly barren, the acting is superb (including Andy Jones, who usually plays comedic roles, as Ruby’s right-wing reactionary grandfather), and the layers of deception would do any small town proud. Maybe I'll stay a little longer in my impersonal west coast city.