Nova Scotia’s Rose Vaughan goes digital

The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.
The Rose Vaughan Trio in the early 1990s.

CBC Radio host Peter Gzowski once said, “Rose Vaughan’s songs are like Alice Munro short stories.”

High praise, given that Munro just won the Nobel Prize in Literature!

Halifax singer/songwriter Rose Vaughan has penned many iconic tunes over the decades. As a young and vibrant septuagenarian, she still performs occasionally and plans more recordings.

album2
The Trio’s second album

One of her tunes, “Stone and Sand”, from the Rose Vaughan Trio’s 1993 Fire in the Snow album, is featured in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2e7VMqJKt4

Rose’s songs have been going around in my head lately, as well as on my DVD player, because she recently hired me to get her songs online so people could buy them digitally. 

Winter Rose album cover
The Trio’s third album

I was delighted to be asked, as I’ve known Rose since the 1990s and even played a little accordion on her Winter Rose album. Cathy Porter, a consummate musician who did most of the Trio’s arranging and has gone on to be a sought-after side performer with some of Nova Scotia’s biggest stars, also enhanced the sound of bands I was in back then – much smaller stars in the firmament, I assure you. 

Their music was part of my life in the years after I returned to Nova Scotia and before I had my family. They’re lovely human beings whom I feel privileged to know.

The Trio's first album, Sweet Tarragon
The Trio’s first album, Sweet Tarragon

Each of Rose’s songs paints a story. The music is gentle and melodic, and the lyrics thoughtful and introspective. I can’t claim to be objective because of the nostalgia factor, but I’m truly enjoying listening to the albums again.

If you like “Stone and Sand” above, I invite you to take a listen to the songs on the Artist Playlist on her Facebook page, and samples of her other songs there and on her website, where she now sells CDs and mp3s.

Winter lockdown, winter gardening

Icy inlet
Dawn on January 24, 2014, near Western Shore

It has been a cold winter, except when it thawed of course, as it usually does once in January before the snow locks us in again.

garden in January
Jan. 15: Coldframes, hardy strawberry plants toughing it out, and double-covered greens

The snow we had in December, which made us happy at Christmas, had melted completely by January 15, exposing the coldframes and mini hoop houses in my garden.

lettuce in January
Lettuce  ‘Merveille de quatre saisons’

Peeling off the layers of plastic and row cover on the mini hoop house showed that there was lettuce within, still looking perky after the deep freeze.

No wonder; its name is “Merveille de quatre saisons” – which you could translate as “Four-Season Wonder”.

If you pick your plants well, plant them at the right time, and shelter them adequately, you can indeed eat from the garden year round.

Niki Jabbour, who lives and gardens not far from me, and also has a radio show on gardening, has written a wonderful guide to year-round gardening (left). It is inspiring many people like me to expect more from our gardens.

When the hoops are iced up, however, and the coldframes piled high with snow, I yearn for a greenhouse.

 

 

Segway PT tours coming to Oak Island!

Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island
Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island

It’s an unusual site almost anywhere.

When we spotted two Segway PTs on the road to Oak Island, dodging the dodgy potholes, we had to find out what’s going on.

It was Wynand “Dutch” Baerken who runs the Kayak Shack over at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, and Max from Segway Nova Scotia.

Wynand was sporting the sleek street Segway model while Max was roadtesting the fat-tired all-terrain version, complete with racey fenders. The knobby tires give an advantage on rough roads, but there’s a sacrifice in range compared to the street model of these electric-powered standup vehicles.

Heather on a Segway in 2005

I tried out a Segway some years ago in PEI (left). While it was fun, I wondered where it would find its market. It’s slower than a bicycle and faster than walking, and usually I want the exercise.

Wynand pointed out that he goes back and forth between the Kayak Shack and the Hotel many times a day, and a Segway would be more convenient than a bicycle and save walking time.

Large airports and warehouses are other places where a Segway doesn’t go fast enough to cause accidents but can increase efficiency.

Furthermore, you can wear it with anything, though high heels might handicap your ability to maneuver it.

The Kayak Shack will be offering guided Segway tours this summer! From the hotel, which overlooks Oak Island, the rail trail leads nicely to Crandall Road which is 1.4 km long and ends at the Oak Island causeway. Tours of Oak Island itself may happen, but the view at the causeway provides a great destination itself.

So I expect to see groups of these quiet vehicles humming down our road this summer. They’re quiet enough that you can have a conversation, so we’ll hear the voices before we hear the hum.

Here’s a little video illustrating that effect. You can even hear the birds!

 

“There’s lots of room here to be different”

Talking to people who are drawn to live on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, I find it interesting to learn about what attracts them here.

Living in Nova Scotia is a choice, whether you come from “away” or  have your roots in the province.

I often buy meat from Kevin Veinot at local farmers’ markets. His farm has been in his family for seven generations. Yet he too has made a conscious choice to live here, and to farm sustainably.

As he says in this video, “There’s lots of room here to be different.”

Sea Urchins a French Delicacy

It took my friend Richard to tell me this. He’s French by origin, and so is Frédéric Tandy, the chef of Ratinaud, a gourmet charcuterie in Halifax. Good buddies in a culinary sort of way.

So here is Richard chez Fred, showing the world how to eat these fabulous sea urchins from Digby. I haven’t ever tried them – have you?

Old Man Luedecke explains why he lives here

Singer-songwriter and banjo player Chris Luedecke is not really old, but he’s definitely a cultural treasure in Nova Scotia. His songs have a charm and maturity that belie his relative youth.

Here he and his wife, potter Teresa Bergen, explains how and why they got here:

Lunenburg MLA Pam Birdsall reaches out with her website

Pam Birdsall in Canada Day parade

Just wanted to put in a plug for Lunenburg MLA Pam Birdsall and her website.

I first saw Pam years ago when we both had booths at the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council shows. Pam was a force behind that organization, as well as local business organizations and community groups like Second Story Women’s Centre, all while co-running Birdsall-Worthington Pottery Ltd. and raising a family.

Among her other legislative duties, Pam is chairing the committee to set up Arts Nova Scotia.

Pam would like her website to bring government and people closer together. Nova Scotia being a small and friendly place, its can happen.

Helping a friend

Jennifer Collins with two friends who shaved their heads on Sept. 12 to raise money for her
Jennifer Collins with Laurie Flavin and Ann Miller who shaved their heads on Sept. 12 to raise money for her

The other day I was contacted by a local chiropractor, Laurie Flavin, who asked if I could help with setting up a web page with a PayPal “DONATE” button so people could help her friend, Jennifer Collins, who lives just outside Lunenburg.

Jennifer, an active mother of 3 boys in their 20s, broke her neck in a freak accident while horsing around with one of her sons last February and was instantly rendered quadriplegic.  As she says, she knew right away what had happened because her body went numb, but she stayed calm for her son and asked him to call 911.

Jennifer is blessed with good friends, a supportive family and a positive attitude towards getting better.  Right now, as she leaves rehab, her needs are material: a specialized exercise bike that stimulates muscle-nerve connections electrically, and a wheelchair van.  Her dream is to get stem cell treatment, but that will involve a trip out of the country.  Ultimately, she hopes to be able to take golf lessons as she had been planning before the accident.

You can read more and donate money to Jennifer at JenniferCollins.org.