Monthly Archives: May 2014

Ghost

door study

Merry meet all,

Now that we are familiar with the setting for my ghost story, I am going to take a different direction now to talk about ghosts and spirits. 

Ghosts and spirits are not the same thing. A ghost hasn’t completed a task , or died too suddenly, and hasn’t traveled to the Light or crossed over. A spirit has crossed over and reached a higher level of being. 

Ghosts stay behind for a reason. They may love someone, or have some unfinished business. The picture above was taken from the Victorian home I lived in with my Mother on Williams Street in Halifax. She has since sold the house. Only there was something about the house. What you are about to read is true. The cupboard doors opened and closed. I heard footsteps walk up and down the stairs at night. I heard fiddle music but there was no fiddler in sight. We felt chased as we ran up the basement stairs. Yes, some of these spooky events I worked into my ghost story. The weirdest thing for me though was that door. 

It was a servants’ room originally. It was stifling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. I never went up there. I can to this day count on one hand how many times I was up there. I sensed it. The green door was hard to open and close so when it opened and closed on its own, it was freaky. It did open and close on its own. Whoever the servants were years ago, they were not very tall because I stooped when I was in there. My psychic friends got headaches from being in the house. 

One night, after partying, my friends and I crashed and slept in the living room. We saw small lights falling to the floor. That was freaky. My old friend once said he sensed an elderly lady who had a grey bun in her hair waiting for someone who would never come home. Romantic, n’est pas?

Once I moved out, I felt a lot better. I am sensitive to these energies. However, in the apartment I dwell in now and have for the last 4 years, I hear things crash to the floor yet nothing has moved. Objects turn up in weird places. I get a tingling feeling on the back of my neck in the bathroom at night sometimes. 

Often ghosts leave a residual energy in a place. They are attached to it and don’t want to leave. I believe this may have been the explanation for the strange occurrences in the Victorian home. I still quickly look for a logical explanation for things first. 

After all, ghosts are a mysterious lot. 

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch 

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The Wind Swept Bay

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Merry meet all,

How to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove

Well what better place to inspire you to write than the wilds of the Cape Breton Highlands? You had better be bred of hardy Scottish stock. You have to be tough to survive here. I was invited to spend a week there. This is a diary of my vacation. 

The first night, I wore a wool cardigan and wool socks with my pjs to sleep. It’s been a while since it was that cold for me. I was posted to duty to bring in firewood. This is an art. You need dry, seasoned wood to burn. Punky wood, or damp wood, is no good to you. The drier the wood, the better. It burns longer and better. Even in April, you have to dress warm and wear mitts and a scarf. You also need something to not chop wood but to break the wood boughs into smaller pieces. You have to wear sneakers. So, donned in the proper apparel, I stepped out first thing in the am before the rain poured to collect wood. We mosied over to the- my Mom and I, to a pile of brush and proceeded to crack, break, and pile the logs of wood. There were supposed to be 130km/ hour winds. The wind had shook the house during the night. We were at the mercies of the elements.

My Mom cracked a lot of dead dried boughs and we piled them in the wood boxes. One was for the main pieces of smaller cracked wood boughs and the second was for the thick but about 20- 25 inches of wood. So, while the wood was aged and beautiful, our survival was more important. We brought in 2 loads, enough wood to last us a few days. There is no grocery store, gas station, and hospital out there. The restaurant is open seasonally, if at all. You have to drive to Cheticamp to get your goods.

My Mom pointed out a trick of turning a milk crate on its side. When she fills it, and stands the crate upright, the logs stand up straight.

So when you start a fire in the wood stove, you start with newspaper. Yes, you have to twist the newspaper, as you have heard,but some newspaper is coated with something, which makes it hard to burn. The newspaper that is uncoated burns better. You next add kindling. You take the time closing the flu. Fire needs oxygen to burn. Don’t burn lots of wood fast- let it burn over time. That is the important thing. Close the flu and the grate after an hour to let the embers heat and the fire to ‘catch’. The embers are vital. They have to be red and scorching hot. Agitate the embers with the poker once in a while. Let them get real going.

If there is a down draft, meaning the wind blows down on the house, that could ruin your efforts at heating the wood stove. This is also why you close the flu later. You want to be sure the fire is really going. As I type this, I have a cup of tea beside me and my laptop perched on my knees, and I am watching the fire burn in the wood stove. I added twigs, a used Kleenex, and a small log to the stove. Flames eat the log in the stove. It’s not a lot of flames-it’s enough.

The temperature of the wood stove is crucial too. The ideal temperature is 300 degrees. Above the stove, on the pipe, is a dial. It shows you the temperatures so you can safely burn wood. Too high, and your house is in danger. Too low, and there will be no fire at all. Now the flames are hungrier and devouring the small log, ensuring the house will be toasty warm against the harsh cold winds outside.

Even if the power went out, from the winds, we could cook on the wood stove, because we created so much heat. The larger log is reduced to near grey ash though it is still solid. The newer wood is harder and is burning good.

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There was a lot of moose scat and some tracks where we collected the wood. They don’t discriminate where they do their business. The moose scat was right near where we collected the firewood.

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It is an art. An art that few know about anymore or care to know. This is one way to honor your ancestors who depended on heat to survive, as we do, I am 450 kms from the city. When you come out here, you realize what you greedily take for granted. The modern conveniences are absent. How many people truly know how to survive? How to use a wood stove? How to collect wood? How to identify the ideal wood to burn? How to carry logs? – hint, carry the logs in the crook of your arm. How to identify moose scat? There is nothing wrong with learning all this. It may save your life someday. My sister was going to burn the brush but my Mom is instead using it for kindling and fire wood. Good decision or I would be shivering in my timbers!

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Ah now for a hot cup of tea!! )O(

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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A Pleasant Setting for a Ghost Story

magicwoods

Merry meet all,

The setting for my ghost story is Pleasant Bay, of the stunning Cape Breton Highlands National Park. My sister rents out cabins to people who travel from all over the world to visit. 

Looking for a quiet retreat for magic? I have just the spot. You may have to travel a long way to reach this paradise, but once you’re there, it’s worth it. Once you view the tumbling ancient mountains and vast ocean, you will believe that you stepped in to a dream.

Nestled snugly at the base of the ancient mountains of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Pleasant Bay captures the hearts of people who travel from around the world to discover the stunning nature and picturesque scenery this tiny fishing village is renowned for. It is truly nature at its’ unparalleled best.

While driving to Pleasant Bay along the Cabot Trail, guests should drive leisurely to appreciate the scenic look offs, rugged coastlines and the mountains that plunge 300 meters deep into the water. Pleasant Bay is one of the most photographed spots in the world.

The beauty of Pleasant Bay is the perfect spot in the world for photography and magic. The main house was built by May and Alfred Timmons, my grandparents, in 1986. They had a working farm with a barn and farm animals. The house itself is a unique part of Pleasant Bay that lends evidence of beautiful and expert craftsmanship. It is set on the side of a mountain with a clear view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and spectacular sunsets. The land has been in the Timmons family for six generations.

There are many activities that people can do once they tear their eyes off of the scenery. Crab fests are held once a year by the local fire department. Guests can purchase crab straight off the wharf at the local harbor and bring them back to the cottage to cook up by the campfire. Hikes are a popular activity of guests and so is simply appreciating the gorgeous panoramic views. For truly adventurous guests, there are whale cruises, kayaking, and sailing. People can bring their own kayaks and boats.

A diversity of wildlife brightens the landscape- hawks, seals, rabbits, partridges, squirrels and chipmunks, songbirds and foxes. A guest may be surprised to find a moose peering in the windows of the main cottage at dawn. Guests can watch bald eagles afloat on sea breezes on early mornings. Fishermen’s boats bob in the water for fresh mackerel or haddock. Pilot, fin, minke, humpback and right whales mingle with sailboats and kayaks.

Pleasant Bay has the largest stand of old-growth Acadian forests this side of Quebec. When a guest walks in the 300-year-old sugar maple woods, they may feel as if the place is alive with magic and elves and fairies step from the mists. A Lone Sheiling Trail holds a replica of a Scottish crofter’s hut. The energy is thick in the air and one can almost sense the timeless age of the massive mountains. These woods lie in the National Park. A guest can get a Cape Breton Highlands National Park Entry Pass that allows access to dozens of hiking trails.

The Whale Interpretive Center hosts a museum and gift shop for whale lovers. The Whale Intepretive Center offer day passes available at the front desk. There is a life-size model of the resident pilot whale Hook and tanks of live samples of ocean life and exhibits, facts, and histories of whale hunts.

Pollett’s Cove is a major attraction. People from the world over arrive to experience the world-renowned hiking trail to test their physical stamina. Most people have hiked there and told their friends. It is a trial of endurance and weary hikers return with a heightened sense of spiritual renewal. It is an exhilarating hike.

Once a person has tried the lobster, done some hiking and hopefully kayaking and still has energy, there is still more to do. There are loads of stones to gather for crystal work. Mint grows by the brook and is strong and fresh in scent. The beach stretches as far as one can dare imagine and the ocean is inviting. Whale-watching, kayaking and sailing is at your own risk- I know of some brave ‘sailors’ whose kayaks were tipped by playful pilot whales!

I enjoy collecting the mint that grows at the brook and storing it because the mint there is especially powerful. I recently watched a red sun sink behind a tranquil turquoise blue ocean, found seashells and rocks for my tumbler to transform into gemstones, crab shells, wood. I watched a hummingbird, saw a crane sitting in a lake, and I felt ‘hugged’ by the massive ancient mountains around me. I caught a tadpole and was visited by a large bull moose, was awed by flashing lightning and thunder, and felt captivated by the whales and seals splashing in the rough ocean waves a few feet from our boat. The whale pod had a calf pilot whale.

If this is not getting close to nature, I don’t know what is.

I confess I keep little simple trinkets I discover on my path along the beach and the woodlands. I cleanse, purify and store crab shells, periwinkles, bone or wood or crystals to my altar in Halifax. They carry some of the energy with them, even sand to fill my cauldron.

Sometimes, I let things go or keep them. I recapture on film the stunning sunsets, the grace and majesty of the moose and whales, and the scents of wildflowers, roses, spruce and earthy thistles wound into one scent-heaven.

The fields of flowers waist-deep high often scratch my legs. The mosquitoes and black flies feast on me but I endure it believing that I am fortunate to be there.

I feel at peace when I explore the woods. The saucy squirrels, moose and chickadees accompany me on my trips through these magical woods. I invite anyone to discover the beautiful wilderness. Pleasant Bay may capture your heart and soul so much that you find yourself returning or never leaving.

Now, that’s magic.

 

Blessed be, Lady Spiderwitch

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Ghosts

Crow3

Merry meet all,

Do you believe in ghosts? I do. That may seem like a big thing to say but I have a clairvoyant ability to see into the Otherworld. I would love to know if there are others so please comment on this post. Ghosts are difficult to believe in because they are elusive, ethereal and otherworldly-and well, dead. And usually invisible. 

I am going to list here some of my paranormal encounters. Feel free to include yours too. Be warned: this is a true story. 

Ok so imagine an old Victorian home.  I watched a movie and bored, I turned the movie off. I sat there quietly. It was dark and quiet. Too quiet. I became uncannily aware that a restless earthbound spirit was behind the couch, watching me and waiting for me to be aware it was there. A dark almost formless shape. It seemed sort of human like. I sat there, still, and then got off of the couch. It came from behind the couch. Now the couch was against the wall, near large windows. The mantle + fireplace on the other side of the room. The French doors were open (Thank the Goddess.). I got up and looked at a ghost. It was male, with a dark cloak or dark shadow around it. It’s eyes bore into my soul. I didn’t like that. Nor did I like the weird energy spreading through the room. Yikes! I had enough and fled. The spirit or whatever followed. And you think that was scary? Just wait. I fled up the large stairs to go upstairs. I felt like the Devil was on my tail. It breathed down my neck. It didn’t want me to get upstairs. My limbs felt like lead. I felt it right on my neck and had to force my body to go up the steps. I made it and as a grown woman, still ran into my Mother’s room. She is solid as a rock. I woke her up, much to her annoyance. The thing is, it followed but when I got to her room, the power of my Mom’s love -then, not now- stopped it. We said a prayer and it has not bothered me since.

Yes that story is true. I will swear to it if necessary. This tale is creepy too. It was full moon on Samhain and I ventured down to the Armdale Rotary to observe and worship the beauteous moon shining over the lake. I saw someone seated at a nearby bench and went to take a closer look at the person. The man wore a dark suit and when he saw me looking at him, he vanished into thin air, not getting up and walking away from the bench like a normal mortal. I went straight home. 

I visited the Five Fishermen Restaurant, which is famous for its ghostly history and lore. Read more to learn all about it. 

Halifax, where I live, has a fascinating and grim history. The Halifax Explosion is one piece in the puzzle of many grim stories. It is also a ghost story. Halifax, or Nova Scotia particularly, is full of ghost stories.

The Halifax Explosion is the largest manmade explosion since the bomb exploded in Hiroshima. In 1917 Halifax was bustling with activity. Many people moved to Halifax to benefit from the prosperity war offers. The fateful morning of December 6 at first was no different than any other morning. Children were on their way to school and boats were loading and unloading.

At 7:30 am the French freighter Mont Blanc and the Norweigan ship Imo both weighed anchor from the Bedford Basin heading for the Narrows and points beyond. The Mont Blanc was heavily loaded with a volatile mix of wet and dry picric acid, TNT, gun cotton, and benzol, bound for the European arena. The Imo under ballast was destined for New York. At approximately 8:40 am they collided as the Imo struck the bow of the Mont Blanc. Fire broke out immediately on the Imo. The captain and crew wasted no time escaping on lifeboats. They rowed to the Dartmouth side of the harbor. The Mont Blanc burned for twenty minutes and came to rest by Pier 6 of Halifax’s north end. Curious onlookers, unaware of the deadly danger they were in, stopped to observe. The ship disintegrated and exploded into fragments decimating population and property. Over 2000 people died, over 4000 injured, and 1630 buildings were reduced to rubble, and 12000 damaged. The explosion was powerful enough to be felt in Cape Breton, 240 miles away. People were killed, blinded from falling glass, wounded, and lay on the snowy ground, shivering from the cold.

Ever since the Halifax Explosion, the silhouette of a man’s head in a window of St. Paul’s church has been seen, the oldest Protestant church in Canada. The window has been changed many times to banish the shadowy reminder, but every time it reappears as a reminder of the horrors of the explosion. No one knows exactly how the man died, but the silhouette remains. See photo below.
The Five Fishermen building was built in 1817 as part of the First National School- the first school in Canada to offer free education. It later became the Halifax Victorian School of Art, managed by Anna Leonowens and was changed to a funeral home. Before the Halifax Explosion, was another great disaster- the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Snow funeral home became the place for the final arrangements of the many Titanic victims. Five years later the Snow funeral home was the macabre scene of stacked coffins piled high row upon row from the Halifax Explosion. In 1975, the building became and remained The Five Fishermen restaurant. Stories of flying silverware, and arguing voices after the doors are locked. An elderly gentleman wearing clothing from another time is spotted walking into and through a wall mirror. Two Victorian ladies climb a staircase and vanish. People feel cold spots, and locked bathroom doors open as if by themselves. Paranormal investigators frequent The Five Fishermen restaurant, as it is a magnet for paranormal activity. Now I plan to have a meal there and see this for myself. The Snow funeral home as it was in 1917 is shown below. If I see any paranormal activity, I promise to report all about it on this blog. Here is a link to learn more about the hauntings at The Five Fishermen restaurant: http://fivefishermen.com/about/hauntings.htm
I went to the Five Fishermen restaurant to see if it was haunted. I sat down to enjoy a lovely meal of seafood salad and wine. As I ate, I kept glancing at the wall of wine bottles across the room. I sensed nothing downstairs, and there was so much hustle and bustle of people entering and exiting the restaurant. After I paid for the meal, I confessed to an employee why I was really there. I was given a tour of the upstairs area of the restaurant. We chatted as we climbed the stairs. Halfway up I felt like someone was dancing over my grave. My chest felt tight. We climbed the stairs and reached the top floor. I became uneasy. We went into a small room full of wine bottles. I sensed something almost angry, oppressed, and unhappy. I wanted to leave. I was told this was a very haunted room of the restaurant. I realized that was why I kept glancing at the wine bottles downstairs. I could not remain long in that room. I told the spirit, maybe an old sea captain, I meant no harm. I sensed he was curious about me. We then went to the private dining room- the employee and I- though maybe the ghost followed us. I could almost see people from another time seated at the tables and dining. I was told a lot of mediums have entered the dining room and have wanted to leave. I sensed a spirit or two haunted that room, too.

The Five Fishermen serves excellent food. It is a haunted restaurant and needs a good spiritual cleansing. The Halifax Explosion has created a lot of residual energy that is stagnant and stuck and unable to move on. I hope I have the chance to cleanse the energy there of the residual energy.

The Halifax Explosion and The Five Fishermen restaurant are but two of many ghost stories about Halifax’s grim history.

Blessings,
Lady Spiderwitch

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Paranormal Magick

The moon

Merry meet all,

The Full Moon ruled the sky last night. Wow. I took the photo above of the moon myself. I also performed an esbat, a ritual to honor the moon. I love the picture. Spooky.  The moon is entering the Waning Gibbous phase. 

I bought the Ghosts & Spirits Tarot deck today. I am in love with the deck and will write more here when I have explored the deck in more depth. The artwork on the cards is spooky and beautiful. I look forward to working with the deck. I’m happy to know such an eerie tarot deck exists. 

I recently found a paranormal investigation team located here in Halifax. It’s called the Lightworkers Paranormal Investigation Team https://www.facebook.com/Lightworkerspi. That is their Facebook page. I am thrilled because that is my passion. I hope to learn more and become a part of their team. 

Blessed be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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A ghost story

Eerie Picture

Merry meet all,

A good story is populated with characters. When one of them is dead and the only one who can see him is alive, it creates a problem. The ghost in my novel is Jonathan Fraser, otherwise titled The Eldritch Ghost. He is feared by the townspeople who shun the ghost and try to forget he haunts Rosemary Bell’s home. She moves there out of grief and a need to be alone. Only she discovers she’s not quite alone. Something is odd about her idyllic home. 

Some of the townspeople know about the horrible truth which Rosemary has yet to learn. It is up to her to save the ghost and free his spirit and she risks everything in her mission. 

The historic event is true but all the characters are fictional. I love my characters and mostly, the 2 main characters who are at the heart of the story, Rosemary and Jonathan. Jonathan lives up to his title. He died at sea and everywhere he goes, he carries seaweed with him, including the scent of the sea and in the basement, he guards a terrible secret. Rosemary succeeds but she changes the town forever. These colourful characters have made writing my book very very interesting. 

The story takes place during Samhain. The veil is thinnest during that time. But Rosemary nearly runs out of time. Her own inner demons also torment her, such as her grief for Henry, her late husband, and that she is the reluctant hero. 

Hang on to learn more about the novel. Till then,

Blessed Be,

Lady Spiderwitch )O(

 

 

 

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Setting

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Merry meet all,

I bet you’re all wondering what all that history had to do with my modern paranormal novel? It is the background for my story. It is the backbone of my book. The photo above shows a sunset on the Cabot Trail. 

The Great Fire occurred in 1947. It is part of my inspiration for the story. The  other inspiration is my fascination and borderline obsession with the paranormal. That is another topic. Pleasant Bay is a tiny fishing community that is a perfect setting, in my opinion, for a ghost story. I like the more traditional ghost stories. I’ve read The Shining by Stephen King twice. I own the book and loved it. But the village is extraordinarily beautiful, replete with stunning lookoffs, panoramic views. The wind swept cliffs and the ancient creepy energy in the woods is perfect setting material. 

It’s  a wonder to me no one thought of it before. That may be because Pleasant Bay is 450 kms from Halifax. The pristine wilderness still attracts thousands of curious tourists annually. My sister Niki rents cottages out for people to retreat and visit and appreciate the gorgeous scenery. She must meet interesting people. 

Tomorrow I will talk more about the setting and characters. 

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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History Lesson Part 2

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Merry Meet all,

I have come across more history of the past. This is to be a small series of a firsthand account of what life was like in 19th century for my family. I will let them tell the story:

Women had to spin, knit and weave to make clothes for the family. A few people kept sheep. We did and when the appropriate time came, boys did the shearing. Then it was put in big bags and put aboard the steamer bound for PEI where it was washed. It came back aboard the steamer to Pleasant Bay and it was my Mother’s job to card the wool with the help of her little elves. She had a big loom, which was kept upstairs. She then made wool, blanket and cloth for winter for clothing. Mother and the girls were handy with the knitting needles and soon some of the wool was made into socks, mitts, toques and sweaters. In the winter, of an evening, rag rugs were made for the floors. We had an old foot pedal sewing machine. My mother brought the machine from New Brunswick and she made beautiful quilts from whatever she could salvage.

 My earliest recollection was when I was around 2. My father had made a cradle for me. Now times were hard, money scarce so one had to really put on their thinking caps. So what he came up with was a rocking cradle. He had a wooden barrel he cut in half-length wise then smoothed the edges and made rockers for it. Then my mother made a mattress. She took a piece of cloth and made a pillowcase, stuffed with straw. That was my bed. I can remember Simon Fraser rocking the cradle much to my delight. My younger brother and sister used the cradle

 

The women worked hard then. No electricity, no washing machines or any of the appliances we take for granted today. No clothing stores – people shopped by catalogue the T. Eaton Company and later on, Robert Simpson.

 My mother was an Acadian. My mother made a lot of our clothing. She was a good seamstress. We had a treadle sewing machine, a loom and a spinning wheel that we kept upstairs. Our own sheep too. How she ever did all she had to do with so many children – today I just marvel at her courage, patience and devotion to her family.

 My father taught us to make our own moccasins. In the summer we loved to run barefoot. Times were hard and necessity the mother of invention. That sure applied to us. When I think back I’m amazed at how clever people were – so isolated and yet they were never stuck. Ideas would just flow. It is true put a group of people around the kitchen table and bingo that’s were problems are solved and new ideas bear fruit. Money was scarce however, each family was self-sufficient.

 Will Carter – bought WC songbooks’ through the Winnipeg Free Press. Loved to yodel. Later when I had children of my own, I used to sit on the big rocking chair by the old kitchen stove, one child on each knee and one hanging on my back and rocking and singing Old Strawberry Roan and many more simple, yes, but happy memories.

 Dry cell battery radio. We all gathered around the radio to listen to the Joe Lewis fights. For days after, we’d be conceited enough to think we could even challenge the brown Bomber. Oh yes, black spider, the lone Ranger, the Shadow, Maw Perkins, great music from Wheeling, West Virginia. At 3 a.m. before leaving on the long walk up to the wharf during fishing season sometimes to make extra money, I’d stay and fillet and get home by 6 p.m. No trap haulers then as the old song goes, we owed our souls to the company store. Robin Jones. Fishing licenses were 25 cents. Fall fishing. We used to catch mackerel. We never see these big fish anymore. We would bring our catch in, split the mackerel down the backbone. Then they would be salted, put in barrels, and then we would sell them to Banks Limited. Years later, we would filet them and try to sell on our own.

 In the fall we would spread manure on the fields. In the spring, we’d sew a good patch of oats and lots of hayseed. By the end of august, we would cut the hay and oats, keep in mind everything was done manually so we would rake the hay into long rows and we’d do the same for the oats. When the hay was dry it would be put in the barn and the oats would be put in a separate place in the barn. In the fall Jimmy Donaldson would come with his threshing machine. We’ [d thresh the oats an usually have two large bins full. He would only charge $5 for all his hard work. We always had enough food for our animals. We had a horse; some cattle, sheep, hens and we raised a hog for the winter. No electricity, no fridge or freezer. So, we’ butcher the hog and a cow if we had the latter to spare, if not, we’d buys a barrel of salted western beef. The hog we salted in a barrel, the hams would be left on top in the brine to cure for a couple of months. Then they would be hung in the attic to dry out. Later it was painted with liquid smoke. It was absolutely delicious.

 Fish was also put in brine. Then we would do some codfish to dry. The method we used was to salt and stack them, leave for approximately two weeks, then wash the salt off and build a flake, spread the fish to dry in the sun.

Everyone in the settlement had at least one horse, and several cattle, sheep, hens and pigs. The gardens were a sight to behold. The term organic wasn’t in vogue then but everything was organically grown. As a boy I remember we would clean out the barn, the side of the barn piled manure and in the fall it was our job to hitch up the horse and spread manure on the fields. My mother truly had green thumbs. She grew the most wonderful vegetables and our cellar was delight to behold. The cellar was the whole size of the house and we had a trap door in the kitchen floor so we didn’t have to go outside to get the veggies in the winter. Along one wall we had big bins full of potatoes, cabbages were hung from the beans, parsnips, turnips and carrots were on bins on the opposite side of the wall. In a room off the kitchen we had barrels of salted cod, mackerel and beer. Beans and hazelnuts were stored in a cupboard upstairs to dry and the job for us kids was to shell them. We would go blueberry picking around the middle of August in a place in Red River called the Bald Hill. Would you believe me if I told you would take the milking pails to put the blueberries in – that is how plentiful they were. My mother would then bottle them for future use. She would make pickles. We also picked wild strawberries but that job was time consuming a shuteye were terribly small. My sisters used to go to Polletts cove where there is an abundance of wild strawberries.

 We had a cellar (50) under the house and in the fall, when the crops were harvested, it was time to put everything indoors. We had bins of potatoes, enough to last until the next summer, carrots (in a box of sand), cabbage (on beam, outside turned black and peel off wound rot when hanging up), parsnips (did not keep too well – in sand from the beach), onions (in a bag – did not keep too well), turnip (in a bin), pumpkins (not long – you have to keep moving around), rhubarb (stewed in jars), plums, wild strawberries and lots of blue berries. Of course, there was a big family so we had to have lots. We made butter which was stored in tubs so we had our own milk, cream, curds, sometimes our cows would go dry so we would have to go out to our grandfather’s place at fox back and he always had a good supply. I loved my grandfather. My sisters and I would go for the milk and he wouldn’t let us go home without a piece of bannock and a glass of milk. He made maple syrup from his many trees and he crafted butter tubs so these two items brought him in some money. Grandfather died in our home when I was 11 years old. What a hard life he had. His dear wife, Ellen Fitzgerald, died during childbirth. They are buried out at Fox Back with another son who died of scarlet fever when he was ten. So he raised the other seven children as best he could under very difficult circumstances. Canned deer, partridge and rabbits. Open can and put in a pot – stew. Salt beef in a barrel. Salt codfish.

Hens for the table but no fridge so we just killed when needed. Eggs. Two pigs – one for the family and the second sold to cover the cost of feed. A cow was slaughtered for the winter and pickled in a barrel. Oats were grown for the horses and for our porridge. Our mother used to bake breaks a couple of times a week.   We could start off with eight bags of flour and a bag of white sugar and a bag of brown. Tea came in big wooden boxes and was sold by weight. Kerosene was bought for the lamps, molasses bought in barrels and purchased by the gallons. We gathered hazelnuts and stored them in a jute bags under a hay mound. Later in the fall we’d bring them inside and store them in a closet. The kids would get together and husk them for baking. The older boys set snares for rabbits and used slingshots for partridge. All in all we thrived in spite of the lack of money.

Caught fish. Salted about ½ barrel of cod. Pickled and they kept all winter. Not like today. It’s illegal to catch a fish – not fit to eat anymore.

 Ellen’s sister married an English soldier and went to India where she died and is buried at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. Hard to believe eh?

How different life was then. This is truly a snapshot of the past. This is also when food was food, long before we heard of genetically modified food. I hope you enjoy reading this. 

Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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History Lesson

My grandfather

Merry meet all,

Here is a little history lesson for you. I found a link on Facebook that relates to the historic event I based my novel on. It is an article that describes from one man’s perspective what it was like to be a volunteer fireman at the time of the Great Fire in 1947. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/45133566254/permalink/10152432752676255/

One other important fact I unearthed but I never expected to find was some information about my family history.  I can trace back my family line. I found the information in a historical book about Cape Breton. I did some research at the Nova Scotia Public Archives and that is where I found out about my family predecessors, if you will. I have also spent a great deal of time in Pleasant Bay. 

It may be a small town but once you are there, you discover there is more to the tiny fishing community than you ever imagined. The photo above is of my grandfather Alfred Timmons who was born there in October 1919. He had a farm and even though he had no electricity, he never had a dull moment. 

My article following was published in the magazine Canadian Stories. Here it is. 

Pleasant Bay is located in the Cape Breton HIghlands National Park, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is the most beautiful spot on earth. Right now, it’s cold here, but in the summer, the tiny fishing community is magnificent. My grandfather was born here in October 1919. He had a farm with no electricity.

My grandparents Alfred and May Timmons live in Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton and have been married for over sixty years. My grandfather was born in Pleasant Bay. Alfred was a fisherman, boat builder, miner, farmer and soldier during the Second World War. My grandmother worked as a nurse. She sailed from Edinburgh, Scotland, to marry my grandfather. They share many memories of their years together.

Pleasant Bay is a quiet fishing village. The two-room schoolhouse my mother attended when she was young stands to this day. A school bus arrived in the mornings to take her to school but she sometimes hid and helped her father build the boats. He processed and preserved food such as meat, vegetables and fish without using electricity during the winters. He built a boat to aid the fishermen in fishing for mackerel and haddock one winter.

The Christmases we spent with our grandparents at their house bring back wonderful memories. We regaled the tree in the living room with the handmade decorations saved from our childhood. Nicole, Jesse and I often went show shoeing, tobogganing and played in snowball fights till we were exhausted. We trooped indoors to the comforting scents of gingerbread, bannock and scones. Our soaked woolen hats, mitts, scarves and socks dried above the woodstove.

I played the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky on a tape cassette and made apple cider for everyone. As the snow fell, my mother nestled near the woodstove on a rocking chair, a blanket wrapped around her and a cup of tea to warm her hands. The logs burned as swiftly as we put them in the fire, to compete with the fury of the wind. May read the Cremation of Sam McGee byRobert Service in the evening, sending nervous twitters from her captive audience.

We baked gingerbread houses and created the North Pole scene of reindeer, Santa and his wife, and snowmen, coating it in mouth-watering candy and frosty icing. The date squares, fruitcakes and shortbread cookies filled our stomachs and seldom lasted long.

Nicole, Jesse and I were so excited on Christmas Eve we could not contain our excitement. If we behaved, we could open one gift. We hung the stockings near the tree and our relatives phoned us from far away every Christmas. Uncle Jet pretended to be Santa Claus to our delight. Once as a child as I slept yet half-awake, I recall hearing bells ringing on the roof. Everyone was tucked in bed as visions of sugarplums or cranberry sauce danced in their heads.

Nicole, Jesse and I rushed downstairs early in the morning to the tree. The gift tags stated the gifts came from Santa yet the handwriting appeared familiar. We examined our stockings replete with nuts, candy canes, mandarin oranges and soaps, dolls and other toys. I bought my grandparents sweaters, books and tapes of the Vinyl Café by Stuart MacLean. After the gifts were shared amongst everyone, we played with our toys or read our new books.

Christmas dinner was the best part of the day. In our house, we had dinner at noon. The table was set, using our best dishes. The turkey was so tempting I tried to steal a piece of tender meat. I flinched from the sharp rap on my hand from my mother who worked hard on the dinner. We enjoyed cranberry sauce, turkey and stuffing, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and stewed carrots.

After the delicious meal ended, I busied myself with a new set of watercolor paints. I received an easel one Christmas, the best present I ever received. I set my easel by a window and painted the snow covered birch and spruce trees outside. Nicole is musically gifted and played the fiddle for us after much persuasion. We tapped our feet in time to the lively jigs and reels. I liked going on long walks accompanied by our dog, Sasha, down the road after the dinner. Sasha ran down the banks to chase the squirrels.

We had little company in the winter. The only vehicle that passed by the house was the snowplow to clear the roads. The ice on the roads sometimes forced us to turn back and remain at our grandparents’ house a few more days. Nicole, Jesse and I returned to the pleasure of snowshoeing and tobogganing. Mom, Alfred and May returned to drinking tea and arguing over world politics, or playing card games.

Pleasant Bay captured the spirit of Christmas. Snow blanketed the roads, fields and spruce tree boughs. A snowy mist shrouded the mountains and the heavy icicles awed us as we slowly drove over the highway. I spied white rabbits and foxes running in the woods, and seals giving birth on the ice. Moose gnawed on the bark of the trees. Woodpeckers and squirrels entertained us, competing for birdseed from the feeder outside.

It proves that even in this industrial age, there are still some parts of the world that are still pristine. It is relief it still exists. Sadly, my grandfather passed away. He is missed. Now my sister and her husband, Niki and Jeremy Pike, manage the home and other cabins for people to visit in who want a few days retreat from the world. (Who can blame them?) 

I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. I will share more with you soon. 

Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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My novel: Work-in-Progress- Between the Worlds

Beautiful View

Merry meet all,

I’m going to talk about my novel work-in-progress, Between the Worlds. I have worked hard on it for the last three years. The novel is about a grieving women who struggles to solve the mystery of a ghost’s death despite opposition from some of the local townspeople. The picture you see above is where I set the story. 

I am fascinated with the paranormal. Am I alone here? I think not. So this story is the product of my fascination with all things paranormal. I have read all kinds of books including fiction and nonfiction, reviewed web sites, blogs, and embarked on a local ghost tour of my hometown. I studied Psychic and Spiritual Development with the Spiritual Science Fellowship and successfully completed the course. 

I set the book in Pleasant Bay, which is located in the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands National Park, in Cape Breton, Canada. I grew up there and have family and land there. I visit as often as I can. I have recently returned from a short stay there. If you want to read more about my visit, you can view my other parent blog at http://heddyjohannesen.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/trip-to-the-wind-swept-bay/

The fishing community of Pleasant Bay lends itself nicely to a ghost story. The windswept moors and cliffs and creaking old houses. I think it’s perfect for a ghost story. There is a beautiful view of the ocean and the ancient majestic mountains. It’s like something out of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. 

I based the novel on a historical event that actually occurred in 1947 there. A Great Fire raged and nearly burned the entire town to ashes. A few campers neglected to put out the fire that sparked and burned down a church and some homes. Everyone fled to the beach. So my book is based on that event. I did some research and I also had the benefit of having grown up in Pleasant Bay. 

My grandparents’ wedding was actually interrupted due to the Great Fire. Everyone fled to the beach for their safety. The Great Fire happened in August 1947. A hot summer didn’t help to prevent the fire. In the middle of the night, it was bright as daylight as the firemen struggled to stop the fire. Imagine! 

I have some notes on what my grandmother’s life was like then. It helped me to be more realistic in the novel. Tomorrow I will tell you about the characters. 

Blessed be, Lady Spiderwitch 

 

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