Different type of book tour

Back in November I read a great book written by a local friend Laura Churchill Duke called Two Crows Sorrow. It’s a creative nonfiction about a murder which took place in a local community in 1904.

Before reading the book I had not heard of the story, but am glad I do now. The story hits home for me for a number of reasons and I recommend it even if you aren’t local and have some of the connections I do.

Though it took place long ago the stories of domestic abuse and unequal rights are still very relevant today.

Some scenes in the book take place in a home that is still standing today, though expanded and upgraded in many ways. This is the home I lived in when I first moved to the Annapolis Valley.

This morning Laura, the Author, took a group of us to hike to the main setting of the book, to the old farm stead and place of the murder. The path is through a now abandoned road, and the farm land is overgrown, but you can still see the rock foundation of the home and other remnants from the time.

The research Laura put in to write this book is impressive and getting to hear more about things along the way and in the place it took place was a really neat aspect and addition to the book.

It was also a beautiful day and a nice hike through the woods. The group of people we were with were really nice as well. I met a neighbour who lives just around the corner who I hadn’t met yet, even though they’ve lived here longer than us and we’ve been here for over 8 years now. Was able to make a new puppy friend, Little Anne, who is a very good dog.

Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Biking the Harvest Moon Trail

Since I started trying to get back into biking a few years back I had thought it would be cool to bike the whole Harvest Moon trail. Its an old railbed that’s been converted to a trail going between Grand Pre and Annapolis Royal here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It’s 110 km long and you can see the whole trail on this Google Map.

I’ve biked, ran, and walked much of the trail between Grand Pre and gone as far as Waterville, never all at once, and wanted to see it all.

This year so far I’ve been pushing myself on my bike and feeling like I was in pretty good shape. I’ve only ever gone as far as about 30 km on a ride though but during those went over some pretty good hills which made them difficult rides for me. The Harvest Moon Trails is pretty level and easy riding so I was hoping those shorter rides with lots of climbs would have me ready.

Jen dropped me off in Grand Pre a little after 9:00 am yesterday morning and I headed out. I was hoping to be able to keep a pace of about 20 km an hour which including stops so I arranged for her to meet me in Annapolis Royal in 6 hours. They planned a family trip to the Historic Gardens there.

I made it as far as Kingston without stopping for a break which is about 50 km in. There is a convenience store and Tim Hortons right off the trail so I was able to go grab some more water and then sat under a tree on the trail to eat my lunch I had brought. My legs were already feeling it at this point, but I figured I could make it.

We really live in a beautiful area and this trail is a great way to see it. Even if you don’t do it all in one trip, you could do segments and that would make it nice because then you could take the time to venture into the towns and villages along the way and get to see them. I didn’t have any time for that so I had to push almost straight through. There are lots of gorgeous views along the way.

In the end it took me about 6 and a half hours not including breaks and my pace was about 17 km per hour in the end, so a little slower than I wanted. Not sure I was really ready for this ride either because I was heavily exhausted at the end and my legs were extremely sore. I was worried about today, but so far they are back to a reasonable level of soreness.

While I’m really glad I was able to do this, I’m not sure I will do it again all at once. I was pretty fatigued during the last 30 km or so and didn’t really get to enjoy things. I will have to go and start down near Annapolis Royal sometime so I can better enjoy that end of the trail more as well.

I tried to take lots of photos and little video clips along the way which you can see below.

Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley

This is a trail we’ve done before, but it’s been a few years, so we went out again today with my Sister and her family. It’s right by their house as well.

The walk starts by going under the highway which is neat and then some easy trail for most of the walk. It isn’t until you get closer to the little falls that it gets a little trickier, but if you stay on the path it isn’t bad.

My sister decided to take us a different way to avoid some wet areas and it didn’t work out so great haha. We made our own path through the woods and up and then back down a pretty steep embankment without any easy way up and down. We all made it though.

There is a bit of a waterfall but it depends on the time of year and weather as to how much water there is. Today it was pretty tame with just a bit coming through.

Crystal Falls

Crystal Falls

One of the things I’m really enjoying from my Sabbatical is getting to visit places close to home that I have never been to, or haven’t really explore.

Last week we went on a hike to Crystal Falls which is only about 30 minutes from us but we’ve never been. The hike was pretty easy right up until you go down a ravine to the bottom of the falls, but not too bad and worth it.

We’ll certainly be going back again

Baxters Harbour

Baxters Harbour

We went to check out Baxters Harbour today. It has been a long time since I’d been there and most of the family hadn’t been there before.

It’s beautiful and really cool with the waterfall and the rock formations. Things can change quite a bit depending on the tide but being here at low tide where we could go climb and explore the rocks was a lot of fun.

Boxwood Project

Boxwood Project

One of the projects that I had on my todo list for my sabbatical was to fix up the line of boxwoods we added at the back of our property line. We started some aspects of it earlier this spring, but I was able to complete it today.

Shortly after we moved in my Mother gave us 14 boxwoods that she no longer wanted. We planted 12 of them along the back of our property to have a bit of a divider and something that would stay green year round. The thought was that maybe they’d grow big enough that we could form them into a hedge. The other two we put one on each side of our front doorstep.

After a couple years, during a bad winter, two boxwoods didn’t fair out to well. A large tree that has now fallen down dropped a big load of snow directly on top of them and some branches as well. They were still alive, but very small, and a lot of dead parts on them which had to be cut away.

I’ve been meaning to move the two from by the front step and replace the two which were in rough shape in the back. This early spring I finally did that. I combined the two nearly dead ones together and planted them at the far left of the properly line where they are much smaller than the others, but still living and hopefully will grow up again. Jen and Ella also gave them a good pruning and did some weeding.

My main project was to make this all look nicer and to be easier to manage. I started yesterday and dug out the grass and weeks from all around boxwoods along the whole property making a large bed. Thanks to fine friends I was able to put down some fabric to keep weeds from coming up, and got a trailer full of mulch to put down on top.

Although I’m pretty sore, things look much better back there now and will be much easier to keep looking nice with less weeds and much easier to mow.

Before the tree fell. You can see the two directly below the tree not looking so great.

Upcoming Sabbatical

One of the amazing perks that is offered by Automattic is after 5 years of work you can take a three month paid sabbatical from work. This still blows my mind really. It also blows my mind that I’ve been working here for 5 years already. This is the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere in my life.

My 5 year anniversary was back in December but I scheduled my Sabbatical to be during the summer when the kids would be off school. We had pretty big plans to fly the family across the country for a month to go visit my family. With the pandemic it has made us have to revisit that and adjust my plans for this time. This is pretty disappointing of course, but really it is minor in the scheme of things that have changed and the impact the pandemic has had on others lives.

I’ve been a little apprehensive about being away from work for so long. I started working pretty early except for a brief period as a teenager I’ve always worked or gone to school, many times both at the same time. As I’m getting ever closer though I feel nothing but excitement. I still love my job but having this time is going to do wonders.

There is a list of things around the house that I plan to get done. Nothing really major, but they will take time and will be a learning experience. There are other things I want to take the time to learn for myself as well. I figure there is still going to be lots of down time though especially now that we will be staying home.

After today though I can’t wait to be able to sprinkle more days like it into my life during the sabbatical. I had today off work and it was a really great day.

I work up late, a little before 7:00 am, but I stayed in bed and was able to read a couple chapters. My intention was to get up then, but then instead I relaxed some more and watched an episode of The Last Dance. After some breakfast and hanging out for a while with the family I headed out on a solo bike ride. Touring around for an hour and a half taking in the beautiful weather and views while listening to an audio book is my favourite way to get in some exercise.

After some lunch I hung around with the family some more, and played some video games with Noah. We then headed out for a bike ride just the two of us and were out for about another hour and a half. This was a bit of an easier ride, but with some great company.

After supper we went out and did a bit of work in the yard. Getting some gardens ready. We dug up a new little garden around a tree in the front yard and planted a couple of hostas and are ready for more planting as well. We’re now sitting down to watch a movie as a family.

With a little more than two weeks to go, I’m counting down until I can end up having many more days like today.

New Mini Basketball Hoop

New Mini Basketball Hoop

With Alex moving out we’ve helped out with some of the furnishings for the house. One of the things was a smaller 32″ TV. When we built the house we had to inset outlets added to the walls where we intended to mount TVs. One in the then play room, and one in the then Alex’s bedroom. Since then the play room has turned into family / video game room. Noah and Alex ended up switching rooms and I don’t think his TV has been on more than twice since then.

The TV in the family room still gets lots of use, but with his not being used we figured it would be good to give to Alex. The only problem is this leaves the big inset hole in the wall and the wall mount which would leave big holes if removed from the bolts holding it up.

We talked about covering it over with a poster, or something similar but I came up with a different plan. I figured I could build a frame or cover that could get mounted to the TV mount and use it to put a mini hoop on the wall for him. That would certainly get more use than the TV.

He already had one in his room, but it is old, it sits pretty low, and it is busted up pretty good, but he still uses it a lot. It also has to hang on his closet door which is a bit awkward.

Not long ago my Father In Law got a new bed as the old one was not great, but we decided to keep the wooden slats that the mattress sat on. They were in good shape and should work perfect for this. So I did some measurements to figure out how big it would need to be to cover the hole / TV mount, and end up being about the same height from the ceiling as a door frame.

I’m lacking a bit in the tool department and only have a hand saw, but I measured out all the pieces I’d need and marked them and took them over to a friends who graciously let me use their saw to cut them all. I came home and put them together and it turned out pretty well I think.

To go with it we ordered him a new really good quality hoop to sit there. Check out the promo video for it.

The hoop arrived today and I think it looks pretty good. Excited to see what he thinks when he gets home from school.

Alex’s and Ezra’s Home

Alex’s and Ezra’s Home

On October 29th I became a Grandfather! My oldest Alex gave birth to a beautiful boy Ezra. When I first found out the news that our family was going to be growing it took me a while to come around as I know first hand how hard it is to be a young parent. Selfishly I also felt I was way to young to become a Grandfather. Once again, sorry Mom for having put you through the same thing. Things are going great and I love having a Grandson to snuggle with.

Alex has been living with us but we knew that wasn’t the best long term option. They would need a place of their own. Early on we found a place that was a good deal, was safe and close, and move in ready. We jumped on it. There wasn’t a hurry though as we wanted them to stay with us at least for a while to help out during the early days and help get a good routine and make sure everyone was doing well. Since we had time it was decided we would do some painting and repair work to make things even nicer and feel more like home.

Doing this type of work is not my strong suit. I have painted some, but am not great at it, and I’ve never done repairs like the crack fill and caulking that would be needed if we were going to do things right. The original plan was to do just the two main bedrooms, main bath, and leave the rest. However once those rooms were getting close to completion we decided to add in the kitchen and living room / hallway.

For most people it likely wouldn’t have been a big job, but for me it was. As we started getting closer to move in date the pressure was on to get things finished. I felt like for a while I was spending more time there than at home. I would put in my work day and then head over there to get to work. Thank goodness for the help of my Mother again. She came and did so much, I don’t think it would have gotten down with out her. Not only did she do a lot, she also taught me how to do things well. Together we managed to get things done. The quality of the work I know isn’t up to her standards, and there were parts I wish were better, but they are certainly good enough, and better than they were.

Things have been different in our house for the last week now that they have moved out and I’m missing being able to go pick him up when ever pretty much when ever I want. But they are doing well and settling into their new home and routine and I know I’ll still get to see them lots.

I didn’t do a great job of documenting the work as it was happening, but I figured I’d share some pictures to give an idea of what things looked like, before, during, and after the work we did was done. The before pictures are from the previous owners.

Bedroom 1

Bedroom 2

Bathroom

Living Room

Kitchen

Fitness update

Fitness update

Back near the beginning of August I wrote about my fitness and plans to get back into a good routine and health. Today I hit a couple milestones so I thought I would give a quick update.

My main goals were to keep my physical activities varied and not only doing one thing. For both biking and running I set some minor goals for myself.

With biking my goal was to be able to make it from the bottom of our hill to the top without stopping. On September 1st I completed that though very slowly.

Since then I haven’t done a lot of biking as I’ve been concentrating on my running. My goal was to be able to run the Valley Harvest Marathon 5K race in under 30 minutes. When I started running again in August it seemed like a long ways away. That race was this morning and I did it.

Another fun milestone that came today was when I jumped on the scale I am now down 30lbs since April of this year. That is when I started but had a few big up and downs before I finally really buckled down in August.

There is still more work to go but I’m finally feeling like I’m back in a good routine with both my eating and activity levels.