Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Once Upon a Time

Tomorrow I will  be the guest of honour at The Bozzy Book club at The Boscawen Inn here in Lunenburg.  It is hat day. So very exciting.  This means I get to hang out with many children, read one of my favourite stories, Caps For Sale, make paper hats and tell a little tale about a girl that grew up to be a hat maker.
Here’s the story:
Once upon a time there was a little girl from Montreal who moved to Toronto.  She had two brothers, one mother and one father and none of them cared for pretty things.   But the girl loved all things bright and beautiful.  Fortunately, there was no one in this girl’s family to instruct her on what beautiful looked like, so she was able to invent her own rules. She loved big, plastic jewelry, plaid dresses and anything with polka dots, flowers, zig zags or gold. Best of all, she loved hats.
When the girl became a teenager she spent a few years trying to look and behave like all the other girls, but as she grew up she learned that dressing like everyone else was very boring and it made her sad and sleepy. 
When the girl turned nineteen she took a train from Toronto to Montreal to visit her favourite aunt who also loved all things beautiful, shiny, polka dotted and Zigzagged.  Together, they walked through the streets of Montreal and marveled at all the prettiness.   As they walked by a little boutique, the door flung open and they were suctioned into the shop.  They were lifted off their feet, flew through the racks of clothing and landed on their bottoms next to a hat stand.   There above them was a pink felt hat with a black hat band.  The girl rose to her feet, picked up the hat and kissed it.  It was love at first sight.  She needed to buy that hat.  She looked at the price tag.  Fourty dollars!  She did not have fourty dollars.  She replaced the hat on the stand, wiped her tears and returned to her aunt’s home.
That night, the girl went to sleep and dreamed about the pink felt hat.   In her dream the hat followed her everywhere.  When she awoke she understood that the pink felt hat loved her and wanted to live on her head.   She went back to the shop, bought the hat with two week’s of lunch money and hopped on the train back to her home in Toronto.
She felt a little shy to wear such a pretty hat when no one else was wearing one, so she told herself that every Wednesday and Friday would be hat day.  At first it was a bit scary, but she soon discovered that on Wednesdays and Fridays everyone was kinder. She decided that Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays would also be hat days.  Only now, she did not have enough hats for all the days in the week.   So, she bought a new hat and then one more, and another one, until she ran out of money.  Seeing that she had no money, but still wanted more hats, the girl learned to make her own.  
All day and every day the girl made hats.  When she ran out of places to put them all, she sat on the sidewalk with a hat stand made from coat hangers and sold them to passers by.  Now many people wore pretty hats and the girl was quite pleased. 
This girl is all grown up now, but she still loves to make pretty hats and help make the world a kinder place, where people smile at each other and say, My, what a nice hat you have.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Living in Lunenburg top 10

Today is my birthday.  Thank you, thank you.  It's been a verbal year for me, to put it mildly.  I'm just a woman filled with opinions, but there is one opinion that has never wavered and that is that I am very lucky to live in Lunenburg.  There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful to be here.  So, in honour of my good mood and my advanced age  I will share with you the top 10 reasons that I love living in Lunenburg.

Number 1- The Lunenburg Academy- This building is known as the castle on the hill.  When we first moved here it was still the elementary school, but is now in transition.  On the top floor is LAMP, the Lunenburg Adacdemy of Music Performance.  We play basket ball to the left of this photo and get to hear live, world class music wafting from the windows.
The Lunenburg Library will soon be moving downstairs.  This building is a two minute, bee line walk from my home.

The grounds around the Academy are my life.  Every morning begins with a dog walk through the field and then through the paths of the cemetery.  My son and I have spent countless hours playing in the playground and throwing the ball for our dog, Lego.  He is excellent at catching the ball, but does not bring it back.  I have become a well trained retriever.

2-The Back Harbour Trail - When the trail is passable, and it usually is, Lego and I walk down the cemetery hill and hit the path.  I try to mix up my walks sometimes, but find that I always fall back on the peace and quiet of the old railroad bed.  I am always amazed at how we are often alone, or may bump into only a couple of other walkers.  Such a far cry from nature trails in a city, where you are forced to learn the rules of the road or get run over.  Lego's habit of walking in a zig zag pattern bothers no one at all. The entire trail is 5 km, but it hooks up with a longer trail system and you can bike all the way to Halifax and beyond.  One day, one day.....

3-Sidewalks - After five years of living in the country, in the beautiful Hudson Valley, NY,  where walking on the edge of a winding rural road meant taking your life in your hands, I vowed to find a home with sidewalks.  As a young girl, I lived in Montreal and loved the autonomy of my life on the street with my gang of children. I loved getting my weekly ten cent allowance and walking to the variety store and blowing it all on candy.  
It was very important to me that my son would be able to walk to a friend's house or the playground or the corner store to spend (my money) on candy.  Mission accomplished.

4- The Dog - Lunenburg is a dog's dream. There is no such thing as tying your dog up outside of a shop.  Bring 'im on in!  Can I give him a treat?  Town hall, several shops, the bank and the post office all have hidden stashes of treats and Lego makes sharp turns in front of his favourite establishments.

5- The Post Office - This is Lego's favourite destination, hands down.  Between Troy and Karen, who spoil him rotten and "Two Treat Fridays" I have to watch that I don't get yanked off my feet when opening the door to drop off a package.  The post office was where I first learned about "how we do things in Nova Scotia" and I mean that in the best way possible.  When I first moved here, seven years ago, I went to deliver a hat and discovered that the small box would cost $30 to ship.  I was somewhat panicked.  The man behind the counter, put up the closed sign and while seven people behind me patiently waited, he opened my box, cut it down by an inch, resealed it, taking $20 off the shipping cost.  Since that initial experience I have had postal workers carry boxes out to my car for me and even calls at home when it was known that I was anxiously awaiting a shipment of labels.

6- The Lunenburg Farmers Market - You can find me here, selling my wares for much of the year, but when I am not selling, I am shopping.  I have seen our market grow and grow.  We now have a year round market and I can tell you that it's one of the best ones in the province.  We've got it all, produce, meat, bread, flowers, crafts and of course, hats.  Every Thursday morning from 8-12 (8:30-12 in the winter) the town shows up to stock up on a week's worth of local goodness.  There is much gossip, Laughing Whale coffee sipping and music listening.  Anybody that is able, plans their week around this weekly event.

7- Swimming Pools - Yes, that is meant to be plural. We have two swimming pools in our 4 square kilometer town.  During the summer, the outdoor pool is open and Dustin rides his bike to take lessons, during the winter we head to Emocean for family swim on either Saturdays or Sundays from 2-4.  Haven't been there in a while, but we'll get back to it.  For a while, before Lego arrived on the scene, I would swim every morning.  I can't remember ever having to compete with someone for the use of a lane.  You can get a monthly or annual membership to Emocean and swim any time of the day or night.  Now that I'm writing about it, I think it might be time to take up the habit again.

8-Neighbours and Friends - This is Margaret's house, across the street.  It was designed by her son Alec Brown, an architect in Halifax. It gets quite a bit of attention and people drive by regularly to snap a photo.  Yes, the house is beautiful.  Inside is the epitome of peace and openness, but what I love best is the woman that lives within.  She is the neighbourhood grandma.  All the children ring her doorbell for cookies and if Lego could reach the doorbell he would ring it, too, because Margaret always has a biscuit for him.   I am surrounded by great neighbours.  Can I borrow an egg or maybe a dozen eggs, a cup of sugar or an onion?  These requests circulate freely around our little block.

9- Beauty - One cannot escape beauty in Lunenburg.  It's at the front harbour, the back harbour and across the harbour on First Peninsula.  It's in the next town over and  a few kilometres away in Blue Rocks. It's across the Lahave River at all our amazing beaches and it's along the road to Riverport and Rose Bay.  It's easy to forget that not everyone lives like this.

10- Last, but not least is my little studio in my home where I get to make pretty hats all day for a living.  I happen to be married to a handsome, talented wood worker who built me the most beautiful little shop.
I love showing off this amazing room in my house, so if you are in Lunenburg, please stop by for a visit. You can head to my website to see more photos of the inside.

There is so much that I left out - great restaurants and shops, festivals and performances, places to skate, play tennis and golf.

I promised a couple of blog posts ago that I would not get political here and I won't.  Really.  I just want to say that the other voice that is heard from me comes from my true adoration of this place and my desire for as many people as possible to be able to come and share this dream.  This kind of beauty needs to be shared.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Just Another Lunenburg Morning

Honest to God...No camera filter.

I don't think I could ever live anywhere flat.  Takes a bit of training to walk up these hills, but it keeps you young.

I took this photo from my studio window.  I'd be rich by now if it weren't for the time I waste just staring.

O.K., This photo has nothing to do with a view of Lunenburg, but my boys are so damn cute; I had to thrown it in there. 

Enjoy the day, wherever you may be.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Big Mouth - The Changing of The Blogs

When I was a little girl and I was scared to ask for something or stick up for myself, my mother would say, 
"Anna, God gave you a mouth.  Use it!"  I am sure she came to regret this advice, as I was known as something of a volatile child, but six months ago, after  exhausting all my other avenues of being heard, my mother's words came back to me and I took to my blog to try to bring attention to a problem affecting many small businesses in Nova Scotia.

I, naively, believed that all would be solved quickly and that in a short time I would be able to return to my love of promoting this beautiful place that I call home, other local businesses, and the ups and downs of motherhood. Fifty seven blog posts later,  I have come to terms with the fact that shutting up about things that I feel strongly about is not in my genetic make up, but I have also come to see that this blog is no longer the place to express my views and bring light to some of the challenges of people living in Nova Scotia.

Pretty hats and beauty and nature and being a parent are topics where people, who may disagree on many issues, can still find common ground.  Common ground is as important to me as speaking out, so I have decided that this blog needs to be a happy place.  

Yesterday, I moved all my politically charged blog posts over to a new blog.  I spent a lot of time convincing an algorithm that I was not a robot writing 57 posts in one day.  You now have a choice - If you want to know a little bit about the me that loves Nova Scotia, making beautiful things,  drinking wine with friends, laughing, my family, my dog and supporting all things local then follow me here.  But if you want to hear me use the mouth I was given, to bring to light the things that are uncomfortable to talk about, in the hopes that talking about it will help move these issues forward...well then, hop on over to my other blog.  Or, heck, if you want to see that it is possible to love where you are, but also want to make things better, then just flip back and forth between the channels.  
Click HERE for my other blog and I'll let you know how to stay in touch.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Blue Rocks? I have no idea what you are talking about.

If you come to Lunenburg, don't bother crossing over the town line and driving an extra ten minutes along highway 332.  There's really nothing to see.

If you are looking for untouched beauty then I suggest........ Peggy's Cove.

Spectacular biking and kayaking?   Ummm...Cabot trail.  Ya, that's it.  I hear the Cabot trail is incredible.

Folk art?  Lunenburg has a great festival in the summer.

So, if you happen to notice a place on the map called Blue Rocks.... don't bother.  It's not even in any of the tourist brochures.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Touchy Feely Christmas Message

The following blog is brought to you by a little extra something that I poured into my coffee.
Was just thinking back to an Ideas on CBC episode that I heard over a year ago.  Whoever was speaking was talking about how every major religion begins with the welcoming of a stranger.  That's it.  When I heard it, it blew my mind.  I thought, that's the gold standard of how we are doing as human beings in this world.

I'm grateful to live in a town where there really is so much generosity.  I walked into the farmers market and the first thing I saw was a table of people collecting donations for the Syrian refugee families that will be arriving here.  So many people doing good things.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Whatever.  Here's to a welcoming and generous new year.
Lots of Love.  Anna   (Hope I won't regret this post in the morning.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Anna Goes to The City

When I signed off yesterday,  I was just about to curl up into a ball and settle in for the night in a pile of Edie's fabrics, but instead Edie and I decided to head into Halifax.... to look at more fabric.
Patch is a beautiful little shop on Robie st. in the North end of Halifax. It is filled with pretty things.

I have a weakness for pretty things.  I had no idea safety pins could be so beautiful.  I needed to buy those safety pins and I have been staring at them all day.
Eventually, the young lady working at Patch wanted to go home and we were evicted onto the street.  Edie and I walked around the North end while blabbing and gabbing.  I had confessed to Edie that I hadn't yet found a part of Halifax that stole my heart.
Edie grew up in Purcell's Cove and used to secretly meet up with her boyfriend in the North end back in the seventies (against her parents' wishes).  Apparently, there were no trendy restaurants in that part of town back then.  It was so fun to walk around with her and hear her stories.  Loved this skinny little house.  I can now say that there is an area of Halifax that has stolen my heart.  The North end appeals to my inner, shallow, trendy self.

There was just so much good food everywhere and beautiful, overpriced little niche grocery stores.  I'm really not above that.  I did draw the line at buying the Gluten free shampoo.  I just couldn't go there.
We had dinner at this incredible restaurant called, Agricola st. Brasserie.    Oh my Lord, that was good.  Really good.  Everything.  The atmosphere, all the beautiful people with beautiful hair, the meal, the deserts....  Sometimes you have to splurge.  But, like I said in my last post, this was actually a tax deductible business meal,  exchanging millinery techniques, suppliers, visions of the hat future, etc.,   ahem, cough, cough....

After filling up on my dose of city life,  we headed back to Edie's place for the night and in the morning set out on our next adventure.  Part three tomorrow.