Day 1 – Thursday, October 7, 2021
Today is a travel day. We plan to take a round-about route to Queensland Beach looping through the Annapolis Valley. For those not familiar with the lay the land, the distance from our apartment to the beach is about 40 km (27 miles) with a driving time door-to-door of about forty minutes.
There were two reasons I picked this route: 1) I ordered a Free Range Turkey at Oulton’s Meats and the home of Martock Glen Farm and Agrizoo near Windsor that we needed to pick up, and 2) I wished for Roxanne and Wietse to see a little more of Nova Scotia during their visit from the Netherlands. Mission accomplished on both fronts.
The car is loaded to the brim with food and luggage. There is still a lot of food to come but the children will bring that when they arrive on Friday after work. We had to move some stuff to get the turkey on the back floor. This is the second time we’ve had a Free Range Turkey from Oulton’s. The first one was the best turkey I have ever eaten so I suspect we’ll be satisfied with this one. The first one was fresh. I decided to go with frozen this time since we’re driving and it will be a while before we get to our destination.
Not far from Oulton’s there is a vineyard called Sainte-Famille Wines Ltd. I like their products so we made a quick stop to pick up a bottle of Tidal Bay. From the website of Wines of Nova Scotia: “Officially launched in June 2012, Tidal Bay is the first wine appellation for Nova Scotia and one-of-a-kind for North America. A racy, aromatic white wine, it displays the Nova Scotian characteristics of our cool climate region and pairs flawlessly with the local seafood we’re known for. The name Tidal Bay was inspired by the influence of the sea and being home to the biggest Tidal changes in the world.”
Our next stop was Luckett Vineyards with the plan to have lunch. The view of Blomidon Provincial Park and Campground is spectacular. It is a very popular lunch spot so we had a thirty-minute wait but the time passed quickly and the reward of a tasty lunch with a glass of wine, great company, and wonderful view made it worth the wait.
I had the Seafood Chowder, Janet had a Chicken Wrap, and Roxanne and Wietse had Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches loaded with Gouda. Great company, excellent and fresh lunch, on a beautiful deck with temperatures around 20°C, and a wonderful view.
After lunch, I thought we’d visit Halls Harbour near Kentville. We headed in that direction and I realized the day was passing quickly. I started to fear if we did side trips in the Valley, it would be dark by the time we got to Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, and the Airbnb in Queensland.
Change of plan; head across the province to Lunenburg. This proved to be a good course correction as there was plenty of daylight when we arrived in Lunenburg and the temperature was still 20°C. We parked and walked down to the waterfront.
Eureka; the Bluenose was in port. It looked like the crew was getting it ready to be put away for the season.
The schooner Bluenose is a Nova Scotia Icon and long-time sailing Ambassador for both Nova Scotia and Canada. I think it was super special that Roxanne and Wietse got a chance to see it and get a picture. To this day the Bluenose is featured on the Canadian Dime and I suspect that will continue until the coin is retired. Janet and I made sure Roxanne and Wietse had a dime to take home as a keepsake.
As an aside, the term ‘Bluenose’ is a nickname for people from Nova Scotia. The origin of this nickname is unknown. The speculation is that it describes Nova Scotian noses in winter; perhaps it began as the name of a mottled purplish-blue potato once common in the Annapolis Valley and eaten by everyone (from the Nova Scotia archives).
From Lunenburg, we headed to Mahone Bay and picked up some bread and pies from a bakery. I have a craving for Rhubarb Pie but settled on the Rhubarb Strawberry, along with Apple and Blueberry pies.
Finally, time to head to Airbnb in Queensland. On first look, the house is perfect for our family. A large kitchen and dining area on the back of the main floor, with a living room and master bedroom on the front. Upstairs there are four additional bedrooms, a bathroom, and a laundry room. It exceeds my expectations and will be exemplary for our Thanksgiving celebration.
We unloaded, picked bedrooms upstairs, had vegetable soup for supper, and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening before heading to bed.
Day 2 – Friday, October 8, 2021
Roxanne, Wietse, and I were up around 5:00 am and had breakfast. Roxanne had some work to take care which kept expanding until she shut down at 3:00 pm. She unexpectedly was pulled into a project which had some hard deadlines. For Janet, Wietse, and me it gave us plenty of time to read, write, and just have a laid-back day.
We had a bit of a crisis; the furnace wasn’t coming on and it was pretty cold when we got up. Our host sent her handyman John to the house to check it out. It took a while but it seems like someone closed the value which allows the hot water to flow through the pipes. Since John is the only guy who takes care of the property, it’s a mystery how that happened but it may be we’re the first people to need the furnace so it’s been like that for a long time.
By noon the furnace was running normally and the house was heating up. If it proved to be anything more complicated, we could have found a bunch of electric heaters and it would have been okay.
For lunch, I thawed the Corn chowder. This is my second attempt and it turned out pretty good in my humble opinion. Roxanne is vegetarian so I made this one without any bacon. I think next time I’ll add more vegetables and mushrooms.
Making and freezing all the food last week was a good idea. It’s just been in the fridge slow thawing since we arrived yesterday so if anyone wants a snack, they can take the amount they’d like, thaw it more if necessary, and heat it to the temperature they want for consumption. I made: Carrot Ginger Soup, Maple Butternut Squash Soup, Vegetable Soup, Irish Stew, Cauliflower Casserole, Lasagna, Pineapple BBQ Sauce Meatballs, and Shepherd’s Pie. This is just Comfort-food. There is lots of other stuff too.
Jade, Drew, and Adam arrived about 1:30. They had a carload of food and other stuff we couldn’t fit into our car on Thursday. We have way more food than we’ll consume over the weekend. I think we’ll package it on Monday such that we can drop off any of the untouched dishes at the Tent City on Chebucto Road. I don’t know how many people are living there but I’m sure they will appreciate a tray or two of food.
Jade and Drew decided they will sleep at Lillypad instead of the house. Lillypad is a cottage owned by Josh Cruddus’ and about five minutes from our location. That allows Adam to have the room here in the house to himself. After getting a bite to eat, they headed to Lillypad to check if they needed to pick up anything like cleaners and/or bedding. Then they came back to hang out in the house to hang out for most of the afternoon. They headed back to town to attend a show later which was written by a good friend. As well, while in town they’ll pick up some folding chairs at our place. With the leaf in the table here, we will be able to sit twelve people for dinner on Saturday. The folding chairs will fit better than the other chairs around the house.
An iconic Nova Scotia location is Peggy’s Cove. Wietse visited Nova Scotia with his family when he was 15 years old and they stayed in a home-share near Peggy’s Cove. This is the first time for Roxanne. It would be unconscionable to allow a guest to visit our beautiful province and not run around on the rocks at the Cove. This is particularly true given it is only twenty minutes from our Airbnb Queensland.
Once we got to the Cove, we headed down the path to the lighthouse. For about fifty meters you leave the sidewalk path and walk on the rocks. They are uneven and that kind of surface makes me nervous. Wietse took me by the arm to keep me safe. Once at the lighthouse, we took some pictures and Roxanne and Wietse went for a walk while I remained at the lighthouse. My days of jumping around on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove are at an end. Nonetheless, every time I visit it brings back fond memories of spending time there during high school and during a rock climbing course I did around 1979. The Cove is an excellent place to do rock scrambling which is how people learn the principles of climbing but you are so close to the ground that when you lose your grip there is little chance of injury.
We stayed for about a half-hour and then headed back to the Airbnb. We made a quick stop at Carol Goddard’s house. Carol is one of my heroes and also a fan. She has heard me talk about Wietse so often that it seemed right that she meet him in person. She was home but getting ready to head to Bridgewater. That worked well because I didn’t plan to stay too long as we were all were getting pretty tired and hungry. It was time to get back to Airbnb in Queensland.
Marissa and Melanie arrived around 6:30 pm which was a little later than they hoped. They encountered a lot of traffic getting out of town. They got settled in and checked out the house. Like everyone else, they are really impressed with the location.
They ate before coming so they weren’t hungry. Instead, they went for a walk to the beach. They brought their kites with them so here’s hoping we have some wind over the weekend so these colorful flying machines into the sky.
We didn’t know if Becca, Chris, and Jacob were coming on Friday. It depended on how Jacob was doing. He was at daycare and tends to be more tired than usual on his days there. They packed and decided he was okay and arrived around 7:30 pm. It took them a while to get organized and then they relaxed. It was great to have them and Jacob is always a source of joy.
We didn’t really do anything but everyone was ready for an early bedtime except for Becca, Chris, and Adam. They were watching TV when I headed up.
Day 3 – Saturday, October 9, 2021
I was awake and ready to go at 4:30 am so I got up, dressed, and headed downstairs.
I knew the oven would be used for the turkey in the afternoon so it seemed a good time to bake the pies we bought in Mahone Bay. I started by getting them out of the freezer, poking a few holes in each, and washing them with lactose-free milk. The Airbnb has a convection oven which is a first for me. I set it to 350°F, moved the rack up to the middle, waited for the temp to come to heat, set the timer to 1:20, and put the pies in to bake. Task one for Thanksgiving Dinner that evening is taken care of.
Meredith arrived Saturday morning and got herself organized to share the bedroom with Marissa and Melanie. Jade and stayed at their own place in town after the show they attended and returned to Queensland around 10:00 am. So the whole family is now on-site and ready for a relaxing, entertaining, engaging, and rewarding couple of days together.
I made it a relaxing morning while the rest checked out the property. Meredith, Marissa, Melanie, and Janet went to the beach to investigate potential locations for group photos. My niece, Meaghan Hollett is a professional photographer as a business on the side and is joining us around 3:00 pm to do family portraits. We all have our Second Wind polo shirts and plan to take photos in those shirts and then a number in street shirts. Meredith has put together a list of pictures for the photoshoot which is likely to change as the day wears on. We have to take advantage of opportunities when we’re all together to get lots of pictures.
I calculated turkey should go in the oven for a slow-cook around 1:00 pm to be ready for supper around 6:00 pm. I lined the bottom of the pan with onions, carrots, and celery, and stuffed turkey with a couple of apples, and then coated the skin with butter, salt, and pepper. I also filled the empty spaces in the pan with potato chunks so we’d have roast potatoes, and put the pan in the preheated oven at 325°F. We have a digital thermometer that has a probe you stick into the turkey. It read 62°F. Once the interior reaches 180°F, it will be fully cooked and ready to consume. Within minutes of going into the oven, the wonderful aromas of turkey cooking started to fill the kitchen. The children are tasked with making all the sides for supper later in the afternoon.
An advantage of having the entire family gathered in one location is it presents an opportunity to get a family portrait taken. To the left is Meaghan. She arrived around 3:00 pm. As everyone was getting their Second Wind polo shirts on, Meredith and Meaghan discussed the script of pictures Meredith prepared. In hindsight, I should have passed Meaghan my phone so she could snap a few pics for me to use in this blog. Ah well, hindsight is so 20/20.
We finished the photoshoot around 3:30 pm so the family headed to the kitchen to start making the sides for dinner. I joined them briefly to baste the turkey and check the temperature for progress. It looked good, was cooking well, and smelled remarkable.
For the soup course, we had the Maple Butternut Squash Soup which I made and froze earlier in the week. Janet got it out and into cooking pots. There was no rush on having it ready and I personally like to slow thaw than use a microwave.
The house is well equipped overall but could use a few more large pots. With that said, there was plenty for a normal meal but the children planned to make: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, steamed garlic, and glazed carrots.
These needed lots of pots. There are also fresh rolls and a tray of pickles. Janet made her famous Cranberry Sauce from scratch and was in a small pot and just needed to be kept warm.
The table had a leaf to expand its size and Drew brought our four folding chairs. When open, we were able to comfortably seat the twelve of us. There were plenty of plates and utensils so we had no problem setting a pretty attractive table for dinner. There were also several wine options to bring to the table so we were all set for a wonderful meal.
We moved to the table with the soup in the bowls and all the other components in or on the stove staying warm about 5:45 pm.
Our normal routine at a celebration meal is to start with grace. Then, at the start of each course, there is a toast. As the family patriarch, I normally make the first toast. My focus was all about how thankful I was for the many moments of Nirvana I was having with the entire family collected in one location under the same roof.
Usually, I plan for four courses: soup, salade, main, and dessert. We didn’t have anything special for the salad course but there were some options like coleslaw in the fridge. At the suggestion of the children, we decided to go straight from the soup to the main. It required some time to get all the main and sides in serving trays and on the table but once in place, everyone had a full plate with all their preferred options within moments. As a guest at the table, I voluntold Wietse he would have the second toast. He did a great job and his expression of thanks was appreciated by everyone. And now it was time to let the consumption of the turkey and sides begin. There was consensus that the meal was terrific.
As is the usual case, after a huge meal everyone needed some time to relax or in my case take a nap. When I woke up there was a lovely fire roaring in the backyard fire pit surrounded by chairs.
Both Janet and I headed out to join the children and finish the day sharing in the stories they were telling and forming memories that will remain with all of us for a lifetime.
The night sky was void of a moon, clear as a bell, and the view of the stars remarkable. It is humbling to be reminded how we live on such a small speck of a blue dot in such a massive expanse. It is truly inspirational.
Jade and Drew headed to Josh’s place around 9:45 pm and the rest of us headed inside with the exception of Melanie who stayed to ensure the fire was safely extinguished.
As I headed to bed I mentioned to Janet how wonderful a day it’s been and once again I find myself in a state of Nirvana.
Day 4 – Sunday, October 10, 2021
It was a lazy start to the day. I slept into 6:00 am and was the first to rise. I love the quiet of the morning. It is “me time” and today I got a bite to eat and read Regeneration for a while.
This was a morning where our agenda has a couple of fixed times. Roxanne and Wietse needed to head to Halifax and to get their 9:30 am COVID tests taken care of at PRAXES so they can board their flight on Tuesday. If you ever wonder if we have a good deal going on with access to COVID testing, I know I haven’t paid for any and I believe that’s true of anyone living in Nova Scotia. As individuals from another country, they each had to pay $185.50 CAN. That sucks but it is what it is and they need the results to get on their plane on Tuesday.
After the COVID tests, we headed to the Sunnyside Restaurant to meet my friends Bret Himmelman and Matt Warner at 10:00 am. Bret, Matt, and I became friends about a year and a half ago. They came to my rescue when I was looking for people to sail with me. There were lots of people who offered but most had busy lives and it required a lot of planning. With Bret and Matt, it was easier to get organized.
Neither had done much sailing but they’re both quick learners and Bret, in particular, seems to be a natural at any water activity. We had a number of terrific sailing moments and a few mixed with adult refreshments at downtown locations in Halifax from time to time.
Bret, Matt, Roxanne, and Wietse are all my heroes and it was a magical moment to gather them for a face-to-face meeting. Each in their own way is brilliant and will leave a positive mark on the world as their lives unfold. I love each of them deeply. I value having young people in my life so these relationships are so special.
Roxanne, Wietse, and I were back at the Airbnb by noon and it was a good time for me to have a short nap. I think they were okay to have some quiet time too. At least it certainly seems to be the case in the picture to the right.
Janet, Becca, Chris, and Jacob were at Mass. The rest of the family was just hanging out in the house; some reading, some surfing, but all having a nice relaxing midday moment.
Once again all I could do was sit back in splendor reflecting on my good fortune thriving in my own Nirvana cocoon. This weekend is turning out so well.
There is so much food so no one had any problem finding lunch. There were a lot of turkey sandwiches and Jacob seem to adore mashed potatoes.
It wasn’t the greatest day for flying a kite but Meredith, Marissa, and Melanie headed down to the beach. Meredith went for a quick dip in the water. It was cold but okay if your plan was to stay in long enough to say you had. I wasn’t there but I don’t get a sense there was any frolicking going on. Meredith wins the award as the only one to go into the ocean during the weekend.
On return from the beach, there were many more relaxing moments. Once she got warmed up Meredith joined Becca for some backyard time with Jacob. He is a busy boy and there is no downside to making sure he gets lots of fresh air.
By the way, Becca and Chris do not post pictures of Jacob in Social Media so out of respect for their wishes as his parents, I will not reveal his face either. I think their concern about facial recognition software and who knows what the future holds in the digital world is valid and well thought through.
It was fun to sit back and listen to the activity in the house. My children love Board Games and brought an extensive collection. It is nice to have a large table and set up a game. Janet enjoys taking part and on the rare occasion I’ll take part but they’ve never really been my thing. Regardless, I love listening to the conversation when they play. One more pathway for me into a state of Nervana.
Our Mixologist for the weekend is Marissa. She made me this wonderful refreshment to the left. As with everything I consume these days, my rate of consumption is slow. I got a chuckle that it was so slow that the fruit flies found my drink on several occasions.
Supper was off the BBQ; hotdogs and hamburgers. It was augmented with meatballs and cauliflower casserole. So yes, the food fest in Queensland continues.
Jade and Drew got the fire going early so we could have supper in the out-of-doors and enjoy the warmth of the fire and each others’ company. Here is one more example of how great this Airbnb is proving to be for our family. Roxanne, and Wietse.
And then it was dark. It was warmer today which is good for me; my hands were just fine in my gloves for a couple of hours we sat around the fire telling stories. I learn so much from the children when they talk about all the projects they have on the go. It was great to have Roxanne and Wietse share their projects. We have so much to learn from each other. Now that the family has met Roxanne and Wietse, odds are they will re-connect in the future when their travels take our children to explore European countries. What a win-win for everyone.
We wrapped up around 9:30 pm and since Chris brought his firestick, we decided to watch the recording of the Broadway production of Come From Away. if case you don’t know, ‘Come from Away is a Canadian musical with book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. It is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. The characters in the musical are based on (and in most cases share the names of) real Gander residents as well as some of the 7,000 stranded travelers they housed and fed.’ From Wikepedia.
After a very long day and with numerous wonderful moments, it was time to head to bed. And once again I find myself in a mental state of Nirvana. What wonderful memories we’ll all take from this weekend.
Day 5 – Monday, October 11, 2021
I was up at 4:00 am, started with my usual breakfast of poached eggs, turned on some quiet classical music, and crawled into the comfy chair I’ve been using for the weekend. My plan was to work on the blog but I put my head back and almost immediately went to sleep. Roxanne was the first up around 5:00 am and found me snoring in the living room. I decided to go back to bed where it is more comfortable.
Check-out at 11:00 am today. I took advantage of the laundry and am heading home with a suitcase of clean clothes.
There is not really much to tell other than that everyone pitched in and we were all headed back to town by 10:30 am.
It may prove difficult adapting to regular life.