Friday, February 17, 2017

Trash Talk

Here in Nova Scotia, the government takes trash seriously. You have to separate your trash. You have to. And you have to put it in see-through bags, dividing paper and cardboard from cans, glass and plastic.  You get to put out one opaque bag for waste and anything you might want to hide from your neighbors.

If you don't do this exactly right--say you put a Coke can in with the paper--then not only does the truck not pick up any of it, but the trash police, a squarely built, pleasant woman, comes to your door and tells you what mistakes you've made.

Okay, that's great, but the thing is they only collect the garbage every other Tuesday, unless there's a blizzard and then you have to wait another two weeks.

Here's the problem: you're allowed 5 large bags of trash every two weeks. One black, waste, and the other four clear bags divided between recyclables and paper. If you move into a place and are buying supplies for your house, you're going to have lots of extra cardboard and paper. Then you miss trash day, because you 're clueless--

Our basement is filled with bagged trash.

We thought of dumping it in dumpsters behind businesses, but guess what, they're all locked. You never see a waste can out in front of a store, because they don't want your waste. Take it home and put it in your own can.

This means we have to find the dump, named Larkspur Meadows. And don't think you can blithely dump things there. They, too, inspect the clear bags.

Every other week, people? Really?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Coldest Day of the Year

We decided to have dinner at the Fo'c'sle Pub tonight. It is the oldest pub in Nova Scotia (since 1764) and, serendipitously, it turned out to be the annual Drama Society's Benefit night, known as the Coldest Day of the Year. It's celebrated every year on the second Saturday of February. Both rooms were crammed with people and a different band or choral group performed every hour. The Drama Society folks collected a ten dollar cover charge from each person and also sold raffle tickets for an hourly drawing. 

"How do you get to be in the Drama Society?" I asked Esther, the club secretary "I want to be in it."

"What can you do?" she asked me.

As I was thinking about it, she said, "Can you write?" 

"As a matter of fact . . . and I can paint too. I'll do anything. I have no friends." She took down my name and email address. The man standing behind her told me about April workshops for writers, designers and whathaveyou.  No way I'm missing that.

A large family group had two empty chairs at their table and invited us to sit. I chatted with the woman on my left, who was a speech therapist working mostly with rehabilitation for stroke victims and the like. Tom spoke with her husband who worked on the oil rigs off Newfoundland--three weeks on and three weeks off. 

I think all 10,000 citizens of Chester were at that pub. It was heavenly. Tom and I danced to some Ceilidh music which seemed to be something between a jitterbug and square dancing. I know we doh see dohed. Much laughter and clapping. Best night of the whole three months we've been here. Absolutely the best.

Shows what you can do with Excedrin, a back brace, and raised adrenalin levels. Whoohaaa.

P.S. Tom wants me to say that he is not as retarded as the photo makes him look. Duh.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

International Living's affordable retirement living--as an expat

If you're willing to leave the U.S. to retire, International Living rates countries by affordability, climate, healthcare, stability and so on. This year's list looks like this:

Malta 10
Portugal 9
Nicaragua 8
Malaysia 6
Columbia 5
Costa Rica 4
Ecuador 5
Panama 6
Mexico 7

I've been following this list for years now and know more about Ecuador than anyone should, who has never been there. Ecuador was top of the list for many years. This year it's Mexico, but not just any part of Mexico, only the safe parts. Do your homework. Evidently, you can live well in Mexico on $1200 a month. I'm pretty sure that's on the low end of the scale even for Mexico.

Anyway, these places are all warm; some of them are just hot. Most of them have beaches. All of them have humongous bugs and mold.

Canada has never made the list, even though a lot of people speak English here, even though there are beaches at either end and at the top too--who hasn't wanted to lie out on a beach on Baffin Bay on the beautiful blue waters of the Arctic Ocean?

Who doesn't want snow at Christmas, Easter and, if you're lucky, Mother's Day?

I'm exaggerating. We've had very little snow. Right now it's 15 degrees, but feels like 8, but get this, tomorrow the temperature will be 48. I prefer a yo yo climate. And no matter what time of the year, one can always go to the beach:

Is Canada cheap? No. Is it stable? Heavens yes. And where else can you see a Polar Bear? What other country touches the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Arctic Ocean? Whooo Hooo, Canada!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oh Mary, I've missed you since 1977

While the character of Mary Richards moved to Minneapolis in 1970 as a thirtyish single woman,
I moved to Minneapolis that same year with a husband, a one-year old and a baby.  I was 28. I had never thought about Minneapolis at all until my husband accepted a job at the University of Minnesota. The Mary Tyler Moore Show helped me in the transition of moving from Cambridge, MA 02138 to Minneapolis MN 55402.  If the adorable Mary Richards chose to live in Minnesota, which most of my friends called Michigan, than I could live there too. On Saturday nights, I was single.

I was never Mary Richards. I was Rhoda Morgenstern, her sidekick.  Even though I copied Mary in every way that I could, (I loved her clothes) my manner was brassier. I didn't have many filters. Mary was polite, well-spoken and sometimes self-effacing, but in the most charming way.

I don't think I've ever loved a situation comedy more than The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I don't think I've ever loved a character more than Mary Richards.

I've been watching scenes all day from the show. It wears well. It's still funny. Her dying, the actress, and therefore her character, has left a hole in my universe. Where in the hell did all those years go?

Rest in peace, Mary. Rest in peace, Louise.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Furniture Barn vs. The Dress Barn

We've been waiting for the Furniture Barn to open since Christmas. It's all used furniture and plenty of it.  Thus the rocker. And a fine rocker it is too.

Why is it that I am more than willing to enter the Furniture Barn, which actually is a barn, but not so willing to enter the Dress Barn?

I've been in the Dress Barn once and actually bought some khaki pants, but I said to the clerk as she was ringing me up, "Dress Barn is a terrible name for women's clothing. It makes me feel like a cow."

She told me that the owner of Dress Barn began selling clothes in the barn next to her house, and she built up the business from there. That made me more sympathetic. 

Still, women being herded into the Dress Barn? It doesn't feel good. I haven't been back.

Monday, January 9, 2017

See-through money

I spy with my little eye all of you looking back at me. Magical Canadian money. Queen Elizabeth sees you too, and she's not happy. Stand up straight! Look like you mean business!

This money is slippery. It feels like a sandwich bag in your pocket, or a doggy bag. Still, for now, it gets the job done.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A reader's bliss

Yesterday, Tom and I went to the library bringing along proof of address, so that we could get library cards. It's an 18th century, two-story house surrounded by gardens and a picket fence.  We were greeted by Glen and Lynn, who are not only the librarians but also the tenants of the house.

"We've come to get a library card," I said to Glen.

"You don't need one," he said. "You just come and take a book and bring it back."

"Right," I said. "For a moment I forgot I was in Nova Scotia." We grinned at each other.

Tom told them where we lived, just a block down the hill. "Oh, you live in the hollow," Glen said.

"They moved that cottage in there several years ago," Lynn said.

"We live in the hollow." I smiled at Tom. Tom and I smile a lot these days.

Glen and Lynn visited Chester twenty-one years from Ontario.  "We had a nice house on the Ontario River," Lynn said. "But when we got home and sat on our front porch, we decided we'd rather live in Chester."

"So let's do it, I said." This was Glen.  "We sold our house and moved here."

"Lynn does the gardening," Glen said. The library sits on about an acre of land.

"It's a work in progress," Lynn said.

The library: another reason to love this village.

The front door of the library at Halloween.

The front hall. I'm such a sucker for square tiles at an angle.

The book room.

The Club Room for readers.

The Ondaatje Room. I asked them if I could come and write at that table and they both chirped, "Of course!"