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Saturday, November 28, 2015

T’is The Season Of Lights

Did I mention that we hung the Christmas lights? Added a few today and that was that. A little bit of interior decorating and we are ready to enjoy the season of lights. Tomorrow, Sunday, is the 1st. of Advent. We (…I) started baking Christmas chocolate cookies and….eating them!
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Tis the time of the year again.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Walking Along HALIFAX Water Front

My job finally got me to Nova Scotia. We wanted to visit the province back in 2009 but got kinda “hung-up” on Campobello Island.
Procrastinated – but not forgotten!
We arrived Halifax yesterday after dark, but since I have most of the day off, today I ventured out on a leisure walk along the harbour.
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Weather was outstanding, sun was shining and brought the temperature up to around 50F. It was almost like a nice spring day.
The Halifax water front is nothing but lovely! Of course, this time of the year all the little food booths and many restaurants are closed, and so are all the tour boat companies.
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A number of historic vessels are moored at the water front and there is sure a lot of history all around.
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Here’s a little about Halifax:

Halifax legally the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The metropolitan area had a population of 414,400 in 2014 with 297,943 in the urban area centered on Halifax Harbour. The regional municipality consists of four former municipalities that were amalgamated in 1996; Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and the Municipality of Halifax County.

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Halifax is considered a global city and a major economic center in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, Dalhousie University, the Halifax Shipyard, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of the municipality.

The first permanent European settlement in the region was on the Halifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the 2nd Earl of Halifax, in 1749 led to the colonial capital being transferred from Annapolis Royal.

Sambro Island Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in North America(1758)

The establishment of Halifax marked the beginning of Father Le Loutre's War. The war began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports and a sloop of war on June 21, 1749.By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War.Cornwallis brought along 1,176 settlers and their families. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected in Halifax (Citadel Hill) (1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), and Lawrencetown (1754), all areas within the modern-day Regional Municipality. St. Margaret's Bay was first settled by French-speaking Foreign Protestants at French Village, Nova Scotia who migrated from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia during the American Revolution.

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December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in "The Narrows" between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others. The blast was the largest artificial explosion before the development of nuclear weapons. Significant aid came from Boston, strengthening the bond between the two coastal cities.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chopping Wood Improvement

People either love it or hate it: making Firewood. Producing firewood can be highly mechanized and industrialized or it can be hard old-fashioned labour.
While some households have purchased a wood splitter to take away the real hard work of splitting the wood others (like me) are still using an axe to achieve the same goal. Chopping wood really never bothered me too much, but as I get older I noticed that my back is acting up.
One of the real tiring movements with wood chopping is the repetitive bending down to replace the wood chunk on the block EVERY TIME a piece has been split off. It means that for every piece of firewood I have actually swung the axe and bent down to the ground twice. It just boggles my mind thinking of it.

Well, that bending-down has now been reduced substantially.

2 old car tires provided a solution to all that unnecessary bending. First of all I used 2 clamps to connect the 2 tires to each other. They can be bolted together too. Then I placed the chopping block inside. The tire’s diameter is wide enough to either place one huge wood chunk or several smaller pieces within. THEN I let the axe do its work. The result showed immediately. None of the small pieces could fall of the chopping block. Everything remained within the tire.
All I now have to do is picking up several of the pieces placing them on my wood stack. A side effect is that my axe doesn’t get stuck in the chopping block any more.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

A Great Statesman Has Left This World

Today was the funeral of one of the greatest Statesmen ever:
image-919714-panoV9free-urbn-919714          Former German Chancellor HELMUT SCHMIDT.

Born on Dec. 23.1918 he was 97 years old when he passed away on Nov. 10.2015.

Helmut Schmidt was born as the eldest of two sons of teachers Ludovica Koch and Gustav Ludwig Schmidt (d. 1981) in Barmbek, a rough working-class district of Hamburg, in 1918. Schmidt studied at Hamburg Lichtwark School, graduating in 1937

He served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982.

The government of the city-state of Hamburg is known as the Senate of Hamburg, and from 1961 to 1965, Schmidt was the Innensenator: the senator of the interior

Schmidt gained wide recognition when Hamburg was hit by a huge flood in 1962, Schmidt became known as a go-getter for his immediate actions with helping the victims of the flood and organizing rescue efforts.

His effective management during the emergency during which 300 people drowned, saved a further 1,000 lives and he swiftly managed the re-housing of thousands of the homeless. Schmidt used all means at his disposal to alleviate the situation, even when that meant overstepping his legal authority, including employing the federal police and army units (ignoring the German constitution's prohibition on using the army for "internal affairs"; a clause excluding disasters was not added until 1968). Describing his actions, Schmidt said, "I wasn't put in charge of these units – I took charge of them!" 

Before becoming Chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defense (1969–1972) and as Minister of Finance (1972–1974). In the latter role he gained credit for his financial policies. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting Foreign Minister. As Chancellor, he focused on international affairs, seeking "political unification of Europe in partnership with the United States". He was an energetic diplomat who sought European co-operation and international economic co-ordination. He was re-elected chancellor in 1976 and 1980, but his coalition fell apart in 1982 with the switch by his coalition allies, the Free Democratic Party.

He retired from Parliament in 1986.

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1800 domestic and international guests attended his State Funeral at the “Michel” Cathedral in Hamburg, among them former U.S.-Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger.

R.I.P. Helmut

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lazy Cozy Sunday Afternoon

Oh yes, you are waiting for the picture of the cake. Well, I’m embarrassed to tell you that the cake turned out too good. I mean I was getting really excited about it and forgot to take a picture of it after finishing all the decoration. But then, after our coffee guests had left it all came back to me and I rushed out to the kitchen. There was the cake, well the half of it anyway. So I turned it with the cut away from the camera and took the missing picture. And that’s why you see only half a cake.
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The rest is up to your imagination. But I can tell you that it contains chocolate chips (in the bottom) a layer of crushed pineapple, a lot of whipped cream and a cover of ground-up chocolate adorned with more chocolate chips.  Wasn’t too shabby to offer to our neighbours who, by the way, will (must) be leaving to their home state of Florida soon.
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Even though the afternoon was of the lazy kind I was quite busy through the morning hours. First thing on the agenda was cutting down the main trunk of an apple tree. Well – shortening it anyway. The top crown was still holding lots of apples and they are of the tasty sort, and they tolerate to be kept in a dry place for an extended time. If you are old enough and grew up in the country, you might remember apples being stored on the loft or another cool place.

Of course the apple wood needed to be cut into handy chunks of firewood and stacked behind the garage where they joined birch and spruce wood.
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Since it is supposed to get a lot colder over the next few days, I also hung up this year’s Christmas Lights along our porch, always a several hours occupation. And it does happen that I feel like old Clark Griswold aka Chevy Chase, as he is armed with a stapler crawling all along his house with endless chains of Christmas lights.
Unlike Clark Griswold, the try-out went flawless without flames shooting out of receptacles.  Pictures of our Christmas Lights you will have to wait for as we don’t light those before the 1.of Advent. We do have a small Swedish IKEA light in our windows though.

So those projects kept me going until it was time to take care of the cake decoration.
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Shortly after our neighbours were coming up our driveway to spend a few cozy hours with us.
head Harbour Light            Head Harbour Light Station, Photo by Vern McKimmey

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday: More Firewood, A Chainsaw Break-Down And A Cake

We have been so lucky that the power-line crews have downed so much timber along the roads. All that wood can be picked up by anybody, as long as it is within 10m from the edge of the road. So needless to say the last couple of days have been very busy for us. Load after load of firewood has been brought home. And after yesterday’s rain keeping us inside, we ventured out again today for the hauling in the last 2 loads. We were almost finished with the first load when the recoil spring in my chainsaw broke.
1-20151121_140213Since the trees were up to 30 ft from the road the chunks needed to be thrown over to the road, and here you see the lumber-jack throwing firewood around.
A phone call to a Husquarna-dealer in Machias,ME confirmed that they had the part in stock, so I drove down to pick it up. Took me about 90 minutes including a shopping round at the local grocery store. After lunch we headed out again for a last load.
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I returned the borrowed trailer to my neighbour and was ready for some coffee and cookies. We are expecting company on Sunday so I busied myself in the kitchen baking a sponge cake. That cake is going to be finished with some fruit, chocolate and whipped cream tomorrow.
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So best to have another look tomorrow! Have a great weekend and thanks for dropping by.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Neighbours

Years ago we lived in a rather remote place in Alberta. We didn’t have immediate neighbours. With “immediate” I mean folks living next door property. The neighbours we had were several miles away, yet we knew them very well and still have contact with some of them.

When we settled again 5000kms to the east we met with entirely different neighbours. First of all our property is 7ac versus 120ac in Alberta, which means that we now have neighbours “next door”. After a while we found out that our neighbours split into 2 groups, those who live on Campobello year round and those who are summer residents. Summer residents leave the island when the summer is over. We made great friends with our summer neighbours. We visit with each other, we have a chat along the road, and occasional we help each other out with something.
We also love our permanent resident neighbours. Some are retired, some are semi-retired and some still work every day. And yes, everyone is helping out when help is needed.
It is a great little group of people here and it made the transition from a 120ac spread to a small 7ac property much easier. It also helps that it is very quiet out here. Traffic is very limited, especially during off-season.
It is also a very safe place to live, a place with no crime.
As we have gotten older we have grown more fond of having neighbours close by. And I think it might have to do with the fact that we felt more independent, more self-reliant when we were younger. Most older people appreciate a close and friendly neighbourhood both for social and practical reasons.

1-DSC_0414         Our quiet neighbourhood 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some Cars Can Fly

You have probably seen them on the internet….
some new technical inventions where cars double as an airplane. Those “vehicle-airplanes” are quite costly and won’t be something we will see on a daily basis in the near future.

However a Swedish driver thought he’d give a try and see how far he could fly. When he came off a ramp, he steered straight ahead (instead of following the road around a bend) …..and see he could fly. (hm…it was a Volvo Smile)

Well, landing was a bit…out of the ordinary.
When Swedes learn to fly

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Very Blustery Day And We Found A Very Old Picture

Sunday started out with some sunshine, and some clouds. Temperatures had dropped significantly and a bone-chilling wind stood up from the water. But of course, I could not sit entirely still all day long, so I started to cut up some wood I had stored behind the garage. But pretty soon I ran out of gas and while I had to go across the border, I also stopped by the IGA in Lubec to get some supplies for supper.

The afternoon was snailing along with an ever increasing wind outside. We occupied ourselves with some computing and some reading. While that was going on Bea found that she had been accepted as a user for a closed Facebook group whose purpose it is to dig out old photographs and exchanging memories of Campobello Island. Looking at all those old pictures she suddenly saw one taken from the water towards our area.
1-screen-capture-008All the big buildings by the water are long gone, but our house is towering on top of the hill overlooking the Passamaquoddy Bay.

And pretty sure, there, in the center of the picture way up on the top of the hill, was our house. Commenters, including a former owner, had also pointed out the house.
Now, the house was built in 1903 and the picture looks like it was taken around 1905 or there around.
These were the days when the young Roosevelt Family would come to the island to enjoy a full summer of fun and relaxation.
At the time, the house had no front porch and was sitting all by itself in a field without a road. We kinda knew that it had been a small farmstead.
During one of the first years after we moved here we had located some big concrete corner stones in the behind the house, obviously once serving as foundation for a small barn. 
The history of our house is quite interesting as several upgrades were done over the decades, the porch and a later addition for a bathroom being the most notable ones from the outside. But upgrades happened also inside the house. A few decades after the house was built, 2 large historic hotels were dismantled with building materials being recycled into private residences.   
Quite elaborately moulded door and window trim ended up in our house, a nice staircase was mounted and a stained glass window was added to adorn the hallway above the staircase. But most interesting was our discovery of some small screw/nail holes in our interior doors and the shadowy outline of a “5” on one of the bedroom doors. Of course, these were former room doors from one of the old hotels.
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It’s been fun to renovate this old building and it is even more fun living in it. Of course, we changed the outside looks by replacing the old porch with a wrap-around porch and a balcony out front. Other than that the house still hasn’t changed much. Our new wood stove sits exactly at the same place a wood stove was heating the house right after completion in 1903.DSC_0629

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Feeling Safe, Warm And Secure In A World Full Of Violence

There is NOTHING like feeling safe, warm and secure at home. It makes me relax to the fullest when I had a great meal, a glass of wine and sitting in front of our warming wood stove while a quite cold blustery wind  is blowing in off the sea. And of course it is a bonus listening to my favorite 
“American-Songbook-Style” music from CBC-Radio. But being together with Bea and Molly is the best of all.

Of course this makes me also think of yesterday which happened to be Friday 13th. And if ever there was a worse Friday the 13th. I’d be surprised.

The happenings in Paris,France have thrown a dark shadow on everybody’s life in the west. Those despicable actions have caused outrage in every western country. And they will have wide-spread consequences in our society. As also happened after 9-11, our world will change again. Open borders will be closed or super-controlled. It will signify the end of the open-minded community of the European Union. It will be a throw-back into the first years after WWII when every country still was suspicious of its neighbours.

It will also have significant consequences for the millions of Syrian refugees. It will raise suspicion against them. It will cause right-wing cells in western countries to spring to action. It will influence politics in all western countries.

Likewise it is a serious strike against humanity as warfare will increase on both sides.

Internet posters are reminding us that love should supersede hate. Generally, I have no problem with a statement like that, but I have my doubts that ISIS will respond in any positive way towards love.

Feeling safe, warm and secure is a human right that is missing in many places.
Tonight I am enjoying this right but my thoughts are with the families of the victims and it makes me feel sad and angry at the same time.

Be safe out there!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

THE NORWEGIAN SECRET TO ENJOYING A LONG WINTER

Let’s say you are NOT snowbirding into the warmer zones of the U.S. or Mexico. Let’s say you just tough it out at home – up north, where winter always comes in some form. We did that for many, many years – in Norway. We are about to do it again this year and we sure stood through it last year in Alberta. When you stay home, are you complaining a lot about this darn winter? Are you feeling like you step into a freezer each morning when you go outside? And do you join in on the yammering when another snow storm hits your house in the middle of April?

norway winterWell, then you might learn something if you continue to read the article below.

RESIDENTS OF NORWAY VIEW THEIR LONG DARK WINTERS AS SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE. HOW IT'S POSSIBLE TO BE CHEERFUL FOR THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS.

BY LAURA VANDERKAM

As the days get darker and colder in much of the northern hemisphere, it’s easy to indulge in gloom. For the next few months, you’ll be shivering. You’ll be battling foul weather. Thanks to daylight saving time there will be no chance to see the sun after work.

The gloom leads to a common question: What can I do to cope with the dark and cold?

If you truly want to be happy during winter, though, this is the wrong approach to the season. Changing your mindset can do more than distracting yourself from the weather.

That’s the takeaway from research done by Kari Leibowitz, currently a PhD student at Stanford University, who spent August 2014 to June 2015 on a Fulbright scholarship in Tromsø in northern Norway. Tromsø is so far north that from late November to late January, the sun never climbs above the horizon. Leibowitz went to study the residents’ overall mental health, because rates of seasonal depression were lower than one might expect.

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Photo Credits: Flickr user Mark Robinson

At first, she was asking "Why aren’t people here more depressed?" and if there were lessons that could be taken elsewhere. But once she was there, "I sort of realized that that was the wrong question to be asking," she says. When she asked people "Why don’t you have seasonal depression?" the answer was "Why would we?"

It turns out that in northern Norway, "people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured," says Leibowitz, and that makes all the difference.

LESSONS FROM THE FAR NORTH

To be sure, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture that might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. That said, there are lessons that can help anyone think differently about cold weather.

First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. "People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start," says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: "There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."

Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.

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Photo Credits: Flickr userJan Fredrik Frantzen

And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and "I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best." But deep in the winter in Norway, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset, and against the snow, "the colors are incredibly beautiful," she says. "The light is very soft and indirect."

A MINDSET SHIFT

Most likely you can’t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates don’t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do. "One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter," says Leibowitz. "It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter."

This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers.

But overall, mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. "It doesn’t have to be this huge complicated thing," says Leibowitz. "You can just consciously try to have a positive wintertime mindset and that might be enough to induce it."

Well….there you got it. It’s all about attitude and in our heads.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

“Gracie” Is Back And A Candle Light Supper

For November it might be unusually warm around these parts, but I sure enjoyed the nice bright sun shining into the garage where I was doing some maintenance on our Buick today. Gone was the wind of the last couple of days and the Passamaquoddy Bay was one shiny glassy surface.
I just wish this kind of weather would last for at least another month.
When I got in for lunch the power company had called and left a message announcing power outage lasting from 3pm to 7pm. Nice they do call and get us alerted to it, so we can prepare with extra water from the well. We also moved our supper to the lunch hour, planning to take lunch at supper time.
Before noon our neighbours came for dropping off their dog “Gracie”. Gracie sure likes to be with us and we love to have her for a few days. Her owners are traveling over to Niagara,ON and won’t be back before Sunday.
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I was still working in the garage when my work light went out. Ah…it was the scheduled power outage. I finished up my work without the light, drove the FORD LTD back into the garage and went inside.
This was gonna be a few very quiet hours, so I settled in my IKEA “Poäng” chair and went napping. When I came to again it was almost dark.
Bea had already lighted a Kerosene lamp and a candle was on her table where she was busy sorting flower seeds and putting them into very small containers. Every container has a little name tag. More candles were lit and Bea made some nice sandwiches for supper. We could even enjoy a hot tea as we have a kettle with boiling water on our wood stove. Bonus!
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While having our candle-light supper the power came back 75minutes earlier than scheduled.
Great!
1-DSC_0448It was kind of interesting to notice that we develop a feeling of being lost if we can’t just switch on our lights, use the coffeemaker, toaster or plug in our laptops whenever we desire.

Living without power is different, even so it is for 3hrs only.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Sounds Of Wind


It’s another windy day in late fall and I was walking with Molly down the street when my thoughts wandered off several decades.
I was a young boy then and it was fall again. The harvest was already done on the wide open fields. I was running along the edge of a field. It was bordered by a long row of trees. A strong wind was going through the bare tree tops making a strong sound, almost like an organ would do.

I heard that same sound this morning and I got to think about the different sounds of wind.
You ever heard a breeze going through an aspen tree? Actually it’s the leaves hitting each other making this gentle sound. Increasing wind force will alter the sound. I have heard winds going through high grass making a cautious swish. When I am at the beach I hear a different sound again. It mixes with the beach-crashing waves. Spruce and pine trees produce a very special swishing sound at high winds. Hurricane-force winds and winter storms are scary howling monsters.
As howling winds can be scary other winds f.ex. at night can have a very soothing effect on the human mind.

When looking up “Sounds of Wind” on the Internet I found a variety of You Tube videos about the topic. Here is one I found especially interesting as it has been recorded in the fall. 



Wind intensity determines the level of sound we hear, and I find it amazing how the human brain can associate certain sounds with our remembrance of experiences a long time ago, like me running across a field in Northern Germany fifty years ago.

Would be interested to hear about your own experiences with Sounds of Wind

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Road To November


There is no denying that this year’s fall season is coming to its end. Recent storm winds have brought down tons of leaves and colours of nature have been changing again. Very little green is left in the forest and even the red leaves have mostly gone. What’s left is golden (or bare) trees and a ground covered with leaves.
 

 November is here and with it the days are getting a tad darker and more grey. Today we are having a typical foggy day and this fog did not lift off. So armed with our NIKON, I trooped out on our road to take a couple of shots documenting the change in nature.















It is also a very good day to have a wood fire going, reading a book and enjoying some warming food.
While I have been in NYC, New Brunswick had a big storm. My earlier posting mentioned some damage in our neighbourhood. Meanwhile I have received a video taken by Campobello resident Patty Bent. It was taken at Herring Cove Beach. For full size hit the button in lower right corner. It’s quite impressive.

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