Thursday, July 14, 2011

Southern comfort.

We veered off the highway just south of Petite Riviere and headed down Memory Lane.

"Mom, please tell me this leads to Halifax." the Little Bastard moaned, having just endured two days of my exuberant golf swing and gleeful gallivanting at White Point. Indeed, we'd crammed a great deal into our short time at the beach: horseshoes, ping pong, tennis, golf, and a new game I call, "Learn to Drive" with rules like: If you spill Mommy's wine, you fail.

"I need a coffee." I replied, keeping my bleary eyes on the road – partly to avoid catching his – knowing they were likely rolling back up into his head.

"There's a Tim Horton's in Bridgewater." he pleaded, "We're almost there."

"I need a real coffee." I said, pointing out Petite Riviere Vineyards as a method of distraction that used to work when he was two, and stupid.

Truth is, I was in no hurry to get home. The South Shore of Nova Scotia in July almost makes up for the north side of backass in February – where I spend most of my time huddled up in a rink parking lot. And while I had just spent a portion of my mini-vacation, emailing Premier Dexter telling him to get off his fat ass and fix the link between Yarmouth and Maine – the upside of cutting off the marine umbilical cord to this world-class tourist region is that there's literally, 'room at the inn'. There's also a lack of USA license plates and the accompanying questions overheard in local establishments. Questions like, "Is Nova Scotia a part of Canada?" and my favourite: "Is there a Saks Fifth Avenue in Bridgewater?" All spoken with an innocently ignorant, south-of-the-border twang.

First-hand knowledge of these types of questions stem from my past, as owner of Wholly Mackerel, a folk art gallery in Mahone Bay. I remember the Main Street bumper-to-bumper with tourists waving their wallets like the American flag. Today, it pains me to see so many unique restaurants, inns, and boutiques – with fewer people here to appreciate them.

"Now where are we going?" the suddenly-pissy Little Bastard asked as I veered right again. "What's the Ovens? Can I at least drive?"

We had already done Risser's boardwalk, walked the dogs on Crescent Beach, topped up on coffee and muffins at the LaHave Bakery, and waited for the car ferry to take us across the LaHave River. He figured we were homeward bound.

"There's someone I really want to see." I replied. "I want her to see you, too".

Moments later we pulled in the driveway of an old Cape, and knocked on the door.

"It's open!" yelled a familiar voice I haven't heard in... well... far too long.

Mimi Findlay, award-winning interior designer and perhaps the most creative, loving, and delightfully irreverent person I have ever met, greeted us with a big smile and a warm, "Holy fuck!"

A woman after my own heart.

You see, many moons ago, when I owned Wholly Mackerel, Mimi owned Mimi's Ocean Grill, next door. I grin (and drool a bit) thinking about her fabulously popular restaurant, and the time and space that made up the South Shore chunk of my life.

My own lifeline to the South Shore was severed by work, and distance, and a bit of sadness. The Little Bastard had spent the first four summers of his life noshing on Julien's croissants, running buck naked on a Chester beach, while I worked my ass off. He was weaned on Mimi's comfort food – pan-fried haddock and homemade focaccia – often falling asleep in my arms to the tinkling lullaby of Mimi's finger playing with the ice cubes in her vodka, after a long and busy day.

Mimi is no longer Mimi of Ocean Grill fame, having shifted her focus solely to Rhubarb Home Design. The most talented, resourceful, whimsical designer I have ever met, is working her Mimi magic, transforming cottages, houses, and boring blueprints into unique, magazine-worthy homes with character. And, she's doing it with more personality and humour than you'll ever see on HGTV.

The good news is: South Shore businesses are adapting and thriving – marketing to a more regional crowd – and staying positive. White Point is as charming as ever, and while we had to wait two minutes for a tennis court – we had our pick of tee times, and the beautiful beach practically to ourselves. This – in July – on a coastline voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic's Traveler. Too bad our government makes it so fucking difficult for people "from away" to get here.

Metallica are performing in Havenot tonight, and I can hear the distant thump thump of whatever beat you call that. Thousands of rain-soaked, heavy metal fans, wandering down a foggy Memory Lane of their own.

Thump thump. Heartbeat. Speed bump.

Slow down. Enjoy the ride.

Book an affordable escape to White Point by clicking or calling: 1.800.565.5068
Book Mimi Findlay for your design project by calling: 902.766.0333 or emailing her at:
Email Premier Dexter and tell him to get off his fat ass at:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My earliest childhood recollection? Hmmm, hey, Doc, where'd you get that light fixture?

"You need therapy."

It's amazing how many times I hear this over the course of a day, but to be honest – if I could afford the luxury of therapy and the time it would take to lie down and whine about this and that, I would likely have fewer reasons for needing therapy. And besides, crazy people get more personal space in public places. No one ever wants to cuddle up next to the lunatic mumbling about Jesus, or Vietnam, or, is it really that hard to distinguish between sweet and sour and fucking barbecue sauce!?

Honestly. It's dipping sauce. If I have to turn around and wait in line again so some pimpled moron in a paper hat... well... never mind.

And retail therapy is just not for me. The notion of heading into a mall or a boutique to somehow ease the burden of life simply baffles me. No one ever opens fire on a tennis court, or in a backyard full of roses.

Having said that, I have been dreaming of purchasing a new bicycle. A few years ago, some little prick stole our mountain bikes, and after a year or two of suppressing my anger over said theft, I decided it was time to simply "let it go" and drag my old hybrid "Mom" bike out of retirement. A quick tune-up at Jack Nauss' quirky little Bicycle Shop on Agricola, and I was good to go. Of course, the same little prick who stole our mountain bikes, also took our helmets – so I picked up a jaunty, yellow flowered Bell helmet that the Little Bastard says makes me look like I should be riding the special bus.

Nothin' wrong with special.

Riding a bicycle in Havenot is a life threatening disease, what with the lack of bicycle lanes, and lunatic drivers like myself who have a total disregard for cyclists with no knowledge of the rules of the road. Riding a bicycle carrying a swinging plastic bag full of wine bottles is just plain crazy. (And they say crazy people don't know they are crazy.) I was just about to head out and put my Canadian Tire money toward a new carrier, when I remembered there was an old wicker basket down in Lake Basement.

There is a point to this, besides, this is therapeutic for me, so piss off and stay with me.

Indeed there was a trusty, dusty old basket, but it was lacking the two straps necessary for securing it to the handlebars. I needed something strong. Something that would hold at least 750 ml. I considered cutting up an old bra, but instead, I hopped on my bike and headed to the adorable cobbler at Quinpool Shoe Repair. He knew exactly what I was looking for, and tried to fashion one out of bits of leather and an old buckle. After a gallant attempt, he conceded that I was, once again, on my own, looking for support(s).

Heading up Quinpool, I signaled and swerved into one of the trendy new cycling shops. I have been admiring the two-wheeled pieces of art they flog to eco-freindly commuters with a death wish and a line of credit. Bikes in delicious ice cream colours with matching price tags hang in the window of their "gallery". I was no longer in the market for a new bike, but maybe they had an inexpensive buckle or two.

Sporting my shiny new helmet, they were quick to spot a potential customer and were all over me like a cougar on Chardonnay. When I explained what I was looking for, the girl waltzed over to the accessories wall and grabbed a shiny package containing fancy leather toe straps with adjustable brass hardware. She proceeded to rip open the package, and went about describing how she would cut the long straps of Corinthian leather and somehow make it work.

"Isn't that a bit of overkill?" I asked. "How much are those things?"

"Only ten bucks." She replied haughtily.

"Holy fucking commies Christly Vietnam." I muttered. I just need to tie a basket to a handlebar, not bungee jump off a goddamned bridge.

"Thanks." I said. "Maybe I can find something simpler, cheaper, and far less European at Canadian Tire."

"Fine!" she snapped, angrily shoving the pricey leather straps back into the packaging. "If you want to shop at Canadian Tire, go ahead!"

No shit. Verbatim.

I spun around and thought about what I should do next. I had so many options and I was wearing a helmet, so chances are if I went for Option A: Diving back through the plate glass window and grabbing the bitch by the throat – at least my head was protected.

Instead, I held my yellow-flowered head high and walked out, past the trendy bicycles and straight to Canadian Tire, where – for $1.97 – I bought an entire bag of thin plastic straps that got the job done, perfectly.

I also popped into Patricia Graham Massage Therapy's new location at 6156 Quinpool and booked an appointment for a long, therapeutic massage.

You see, while it has been suggested that I could reap the benefits of regular therapy – truth is – the power of kindness, a little exercise, and the human touch is unparalleled.

And call me crazy, but the inner strength and peace that comes with unabashedly donning a flowered yellow helmet at this stage of the game is pretty special indeed.

Patricia Graham Massage Therapy is now at 6156 Quinpool Road.
To book an appointment call 902.576.4500 or email:

For a tune-up and your very own yellow, flowered helmet drop by Nauss Bicycles at 2533 Agricola St, Halifax, 429.0024.

For the cutest damn cobbler in town head to Quinpool Shore Repair at 6424 Quinpool Road.

Fancy bike and matching attitude, try Halifax Cycle Gallery, 6299 Quinpool Road.