What's It All About, eh?

Cape Breton evokes deep memories and strong emotions for me as well as a deep appreciation for the beauty of my adopted island. My hopes are that you too might find the photos evocative - maybe a view you've not enjoyed before, or an 'Oh I've been there', or if from away that you may be encouraged to visit this fair isle so that you might come to love and breathe Cape Breton as I do. One word about place names that I use - some are completely local usage while others are from maps of Cape Breton that I've purchased over the years. I frequently post travel and other photos that are of interest to me - and hopefully you.

On the right hand side bar find my take on Single Malt whiskey - from how to best enjoy this noble drink to reviews (in a most non-professional manner) of ones that I have tried and liked - or not. Also musings, mine and others, on life in general.

Photographs are roughly 98%+ my own and copy-righted. For the occasional photo that is borrowed, credit is given where possible - recently I have started posting unusual net photographs that seem unique. Feel free to borrow any of my photos for non-commercial use, otherwise contact me. Starting late in 2013 I have tried to be consistent in identifying my photographs using ©smck on all out of camera photos I personally captured - (I often do minor computer changes such as 'crop' or 'shadow' etc but usually nothing major), and using
©norvellhimself on all photos that I have played around with in case it might not be obvious. Lately I have dropped the ©smck and have watermarked them with the blog name.

COMMENTS are appreciated as feedback is the driving energy of blogging - And if you like this site please pass it along to a friend. Thanks!

NOTE: TO ENLARGE PHOTO, CLICK ON SAME - If using Firefox also click f11 - photos will fill the screen ...... ----------------------------------- ......TRANSLATION BUTTON AT TOP OF LEFT COLUMN!

Calla Lilly

© June '12    photo by smck

© June '12    photo by smck
We planted out the Calla Lilly that Carol was given for mother's day last year and lo - nice blooms this year.  Since this photo, deer came by and devoured two of the blooms so Himself is spraying human chemical around the area to ward them away.

 - and there in the old discarded pot behind and below the Lilly a wee froggy awaits the visiting pollinators

Green on Green

© August '10    photo by smck
River Tillard from the St. Peter's Coastal Trail

Hits - Update

Sweden gave me a click today 4th July '12 - yeah!!!

(I know this blog is small time stuff - big blogs get as many hits per minute as I've gotten in 4 months - but this going around the world to other countries gives me a thrill)

See How He Looks

© August @ '92     photo by smck


Idle moments while I replay
tapes of memory in my mind

clear rivulet wash on sand
bright flash of winging bird
eyes in love and supplication
quest in mine

ahh – early child almost a stranger
peering down the imagined
reaches of the future



sometimes when i dream too much of yore i see myself looking forward at me
© smck

I wrote this little poem long years ago - perhaps when this photo was taken - and meant it for myself, no photograph for reference, but then when I found this picture in our old box of family photos the poem seemed to leap up into my mind as the homage to my younger son - coming back from the beach above L'Archeveque and onto the grassy interval behind my friends fishing shack where we staying for a few precious weeks.   smck

Lobster Season Is Through For The Year

© July '10    photo by smck
The lobster season is through in mid-July and some of the boats will be putting out to sea again to haul snow crab from far off-shore.  A boat or two might only do the lobster season but by fall all L'Archeveque fishing will be done for the year with the boats and gear overhauled and stored for the following season.  Lupines blooming are a good calendar marking for the time of  year.

Sound of Rock Upon Rock

© September '08    photo by smck
This was taken the same day I snapped the opening banner of the blog.  Even now I can hear the sound of rock upon rock, being washed up then back by the waves and tide - and feel the mist of scattered light rain that threatened to deluge at any moment.  Above me on the eroding cliffs of Collin's old field one can stand and look out at the sea no different than when the long gone house and barn were being built in the 1800s.  Bleak and drear this day, bright and filling another and fulfilling that Gaelic desire to have solitude and quiet around you like a shelter against the burly of the world.

Tu Es Mon Compagnon de Voyage!

© August '09    photo by ctmck

I think it much better that, as we all go along together, that every man paddle his own canoe

Character of 'The Indian' in The Settlers in Canada by Captain Marryat (1844)

Tu es mon compagnon de voyage!
Je veux mourir dans mon canot
Sur le tombeau, près du rivage,
Vous renverserez mon canot

When I must leave the great river

O bury me close to its wave
And let my canoe and my paddle
Be the only mark over my grave

From 'Mon Canoe d'écorce' ('My Bark Canoe')
 translated by Frank Oliver Call

August is laughing across the sky
Laughing while paddle, canoe and I,
Drift, drift,
Where the hills uplift
On either side of the current swift.

Be strong, O paddle!

Be brave, canoe!
The reckless waves
you must plunge into.
Reel, reel.
On your trembling keel,
But never a fear my craft will feel.

Song: My Paddle Sings, 
E. Pauline Johnson

Calm Day on the Bay

© August '10    photo by smck

Looking eastward across St. Peters Bay toward Battery Park and Grand Greve, the sea is tranquil in the early morning light.

HITS - Around The World

United States
United Kingdom
United States accounts for the most 'hits' followed by Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Germany in that order.

This is probably not of as much interest to you as it is to me.  But it just seems great that such a small blog has spread around the world without benefit of controversy, scandal, or salacious content. 

So come on Easter Island and give me a click for the Pacific !!

Bench and View - on the St. Peters Coastal Trail

© August '10    photo by smck

What Is A Weed?

© August '10     photo by smck

False dandelions

Dandelions are so similar to catsears (Hypochoeris) that catsears are also known as "false dandelions." Both plants carry similar flowers which form into windborne seeds. However, catsear's flowering stems are forked and solid, whereas dandelions possess unforked stems that are hollow. Both plants have a rosette of leaves and a central taproot. However, the leaves of dandelions are jagged in appearance, whereas those of catsear are more lobe-shaped and hairy. Other plants with similar flowers include hawkweeds (Hieracium) and hawksbeards (Crepis). These are both readily distinguished by their branched flowering stems.

I have no idea what the local name is for this plant but I erroneously took it for a dandelion - however the 'forked flowering stems' puts it into one of the above Catsears, Hawkweeds, or Hawkbeards.  (if you know for certain leave a comment and I will repost - with appropriate credit).

The title "What is a Weed" was really directed to dandelions which I (unlike most) like and encourage in my lawn - hence to me not a weed, which basically means an unwanted plant. 

Dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia. They have been used by humans for food and as a herb for much of recorded history. They were introduced to North America by early European immigrants.  All parts of the dandelion has been used for food and drink - some caution is advised on the pollen however as some individuals are sensitive to it.

REDBREAST Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey - 12

© June '12    photo by sm
REDBREAST Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (note the 'e') from Middleton Distillery - aged 12 years in oaken casks and bottled at 40% Alc/vol.

No peat and fire here - just deep smoothness - so if you don't particularly want to try another fiery draught then read on and take heart that yes there are smooth Gaelic unblended whiskeys that are utterly delightful.  And I must note here that smooth does not imply bland - not at all.  This is a great easy to sip whiskey, yet there is still a depth and complexity of background flavors as in the best of Scotch single malts. I just finished at least two or three fingers of Redbreast, which is my third sampling in as many nights.  Once again it was so pleasant to drink that I quickly lost track of all the great things about it that I was going to put to paper for this posting - so for the time being let me borrow a few quotes from other devotees.  

"Scotland and Kentucky get the glory, but Ireland is no slouch when it comes to crafting fine, sippable whiskey. For potent proof, try an unblended whiskey like the oh-so-smooth Redbreast 12 Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey ($45). Like single-malt Scotch, this Irish whiskey is aged — 12 years, in this case — in a single batch, not blended. But that's where the similarities with smoky Scotch end, because the flavor leans much closer to caramely bourbon" - YUMSUGAR blog

"Single Pot Still Whiskey:
It is unique to Ireland in general and to the Midleton Distillery, Co Cork, in particular, and is regarded as the quintessential style of Irish whiskey. Made from a mash of malted and unmalted barley and then triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills. Pot Still whiskeys are characterized by full, complex flavors and a wonderful creamy mouthfeel." -  WEINQUELLE .com 

"Color   Amber lager
 Nose   Ethanol, vanilla, maple sugar
 Body   Mildly syrupy
 Palate  Scotch followed by a wonderful praline, vanilla, maple syrup, gingerbread cookies
 Finish   Sweet, maple syrup, vanilla, bug spray
This is my favorite Irish whiskey. It has a Scotch-like complexity followed by a wonderful maple syrup-like sweetness. Not cloying like a bourbon, but sweet like a gingerbread cookie. A great dessert whiskey. Highly Recommended!   95"       MISTERBORK on FORPEATSAKE.com

I'm not sure where the 'bug spray' came from in this last one but everyone has there take, eh?  All in all a really fine (and award winning)  poteen - which Himself would give at least an 89.

Fall Maple

© September '08    photo by smck
When every thing is green and brown, red draws the eye - like this maple on the old MacKay property.

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep

© August '10   photo by smck

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep


The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be--
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

Robert Frost
this poem first appeared in the Yale Review in the year of my birth
...poem presents a notion common to Frost's poetry: a “recognition of the essential limitations of man, without denial or protest or rhetoric or palliation."


A great read - definitely five stars - ✯✯✯✯✯ 

Recently Emily White, an intern at NPR All Songs Considered, and GM of what appears to be her college radio station, wrote a post on the NPR blog in which she acknowledged that while she had 11,000 songs in her music library, she’s only paid for 15 CDs in her life. Our intention is not to embarrass or shame her. We believe young people like Emily White who are fully engaged in the music scene are the artist’s biggest allies. We also believe–for reasons we’ll get into–that she has been been badly misinformed by the Free Culture movement. We only ask the opportunity to present a countervailing viewpoint.
My intention here is not to shame you or embarrass you. I believe you are already on the side of musicians and artists and you are just grappling with how to do the right thing. I applaud your courage in admitting you do not pay for music, and that you do not want to but you are grappling with the moral implications. I just think that you have been presented with some false choices by what sounds a lot like what we hear from the “Free Culture” adherents.
I must disagree with the underlying premise of what you have written. Fairly compensating musicians is not a problem that is up to governments and large corporations to solve. It is not up to them to make it “convenient” so you don’t behave unethically. (Besides–is it really that inconvenient to download a song from iTunes into your iPhone? Is it that hard to type in your password? I think millions would disagree.)
Rather, fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices. I would suggest to you that, like so many other policies in our society, it is up to us individually to put pressure on our governments and private corporations to act ethically and fairly when it comes to artists rights. Not the other way around. We cannot wait for these entities to act in the myriad little transactions that make up an ethical life. I’d suggest to you that, as a 21-year old adult who wants to work in the music business, it is especially important for you to come to grips with these very personal ethical issues.
I’ve been teaching college students about the economics of the music business at the University of Georgia for the last two years. Unfortunately for artists, most of them share your attitude about purchasing music. There is a disconnect between their personal behavior and a greater social injustice that is occurring. You seem to have internalized that ripping 11,000 tracks in your iPod compared to your purchase of 15 CDs in your lifetime feels pretty disproportionate. You also seem to recognize that you are not just ripping off the record labels but you are directly ripping off the artist and songwriters whose music you “don’t buy”. It doesn’t really matter that you didn’t take these tracks from a file-sharing site. That may seem like a neat dodge, but I’d suggest to you that from the artist’s point of view, it’s kind of irrelevant.
To continue reading David Lowery's excellent exposition, check out this great link:  http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/letter-to-emily-white-at-npr-all-songs-considered/    where this and other ethical problems are covered - it is a farther great read.

Anas Platyrhynchos Cogitatione

© November '10   photo by smck

REDBREAST Irish Whiskey

Coming soon to this post - Review of REDBREAST Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey (note the 'e') from Middleton Distillery.

  No peat and fire here - just deep smoothness - so if you are a beginner and don't want another fiery draught then read the forth coming review and take heart that yes there are sensible Gaelic brews for the uninitiated that are utterly delightful.

The Millionare’s Club list documents spirits brands that sell over a million cases per year. 181 brands made the cut based on sales for 2011. New to the list is Glenfiddich, the only single malt Scotch whisky to sell over a million cases. Vodka and whiskey are the two biggest categories on the list, followed by rum in third place.

The Black River Ferry

© August '10   photo by smck
Patiently waiting for my turn in the canoe.  
© August '10   photo by smck

This scene follows some 15 to 20 minutes in real time from "Where In Grand River" 26 April 2012 [which shows her mother and sister]

Dusk at L'Archeveque II

© August '10   photo by smck

Mallow Flower

© July '11   photo by smck
When you get to garden only a few short weeks in summer you learn to take advantage of the native flowering plants - heather, clover, dandelion, the little blue unnamed weed above and my favorite the Mallow plant which blooms in white and a pale pinkish lavender.  I carefully mow around and leave the 'sport' to flourish and seed and if all goes well a few carefully transplanted mallows will take and eventually instead of a spotted lawn I am gradually getting a lovely grouping in the center front yard - the daisys I spare down the lane until they go too bedraggled and then down they go till the following year.  So far the Mallows continue to live throughout the summer without fear of the awesome power mower.


© August '10   photo by smck
© August '10   photo by smck

© August '10   photo by smck
There are various causes for these bubbles in the sand at the beach but for these bubbles at the marsh run-off near the far end of Point Michaud Beach I don't think I'm far from correct in my posting of Methane - and the marshy odor so familiar to many gives further credence to the title.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Originally posted as a page (see right side bar) in March '12 but posted here to see how I like it as part of  the main show.

Glenfiddich is one of the worlds most popular single malt Scotch Whiskys but early on in my hobby I read that The Glenlivet is a much better drink and usually somewhat less expensive. (Although now The Glenlivet is the best selling brand in the U.S.).  So what is a good Scot to do eh?  Well I have yet to drink a Glenfiddich not because I have any inkling that it's terrible but simply because I like The Glenlivet and there are so many good to great unsampled Scotch Single Malts of more distinct character available in a price range that I can handle (even if I do think they are overpriced).  In my mind The Glenlivet is a good single malt to start out with if you're new to the game - enough bite and flavor to let you know that singles are serious whiskys but mild enough in the way of single malts to avoid putting you off the game before it has even begun.  I like The Glenlivet and usually replace the bottle when it is depleted.  In the photograph you will see my personal stemless goblet for my sipping pleasure.  (you can buy expensive stemmed ware that will work no better - in fact I like my stemless goblet best because my hand warms the whisky slightly, enhancing the smell and the taste AND because I got 11 of them at a jumble sale for fifty cents apiece.)  Always use a curved glass to concentrate the aroma for your nose - shot glasses are for tossing back cheap grain whiskey.

The Glenlivet 12 year old, 40% Alc/Vol
Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch comments:
House Style - Malty, creamy, fruity, after dinner
COLOUR     - Pale Gold
NOSE           - Remarkably flowery, clean and soft.
BODY           - Light to Medium. Firm, smooth.
PALATE      - Flowery, peachy, notes of vanilla. A delicate balance.
FINISH       - Restrained, long and gently warming 
                        Score 85 

Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch rates Glenfiddich 12 from 77 to 82 (on a scale of 1 to 100) and The Glenlivet 12 from 83-85 so they are quite comparable in ranking really.  And just like wine, a given variety of whisky can vary a lot from year to year, so don't worry too much about a small variation in rank between two or more different brands.  I'm sure that if I had tried the Glenfiddich first, it would now be The Glenlivet that would be untasted (but you have to love the capital T in The Glenlivet, eh?)

My take - a very good malt for both the newcomer to single malts and for the serious collector.   A smooth well flavored drink that does not take your breath away, it can readily be shared with one and all.  And the price is decent.

And tonight, 07 June 2012, about 1030 pm in eastern North America I am enjoying the last of my bottle of Glenlivet 12 and perusing my comments on same.  Right on, I'd say, at least for me - and yes I will replace this soon.  Try your own and enjoy.

After Glow

© August '10   photo by smck


After sunset – and before the night -
when red tinged purple fills the dome of sky,
one can trace the imperceptible change of light
from the faded golden promise of sun on high
to the east where the black creeps in.
But not to signify the end.
Change it is that draws our eye from that mystic silhouette,
where all somber ochered hues have reached blackened fingers
against the grieving evening – ahh! sad nostalgia is that color, wet.
For night too signifies the friend
that gave us the diamond brilliance of black velvet
strewn with baubles of stars
and then the moon.


written about the tenth grade while I looked from ‘the sands’ out across Cameron’s farm toward the North East river at sunset – perhaps 1950, 51. – and I still like it

Spruce Burl

© August '10   photo by smck
Burls occur on many kinds of trees the world over.  The general consensus is that they are caused by stress to the tree - often by trauma, virus, and other causes (how's that for circular reasoning, eh?).  They are often prized by wood carvers for their fantastic grain patterns.  If you're like me seeing scatological humour in all kinds of thing you might have thought I should have titled this post - 'Mr. and Mrs. Spruce Awaiting the  Blessed Day'.  

Photographed on the St. Peter's Walking Trail

Picking Dessert

© August '11   photo by smck

Around dusk with the mosquitoes gathering around the unwary, my plucky little granddaughter goes up on blueberry hill behind the house to get blueberries for dessert with her supper - hood around her head to keep the wee beasties  away.



This past week I had the following hits:
(I enjoy seeing how many countries are viewing - and if you enjoy viewing the blog please pass it on to a friend)

United States        151

Canada                49

France                11

Russia                 8

United Kingdom         5

Brazil                 1

Germany                1   

Ireland                1 

Malaysia               1 

Peru                   1  

The above was pulled from the blog host's own accounting - but I have also seen:


Today, 21 June '12, update  on countries viewing blog - add"


Walk-Through Light Exibition

© June '12   photo by smck

© June '12   photo by smck
                 I seldom do non-Cape Breton photos but this light exhibition at Longwood Gardens was overwhelming.  The above was just a small part of the thousands and thousands of lights that were in display throughout the gardens.  These lights above - all done with fiber-optics - were on display in a large natural meadow so that you could walk through and between each separate tower.  They changed colour slowly and continuously as you strolled along (if you look closely on the enlarged option you can see silhouettes of people here and there).  The towers are about 7 to 8 feet tall and composed of recycled plastic bottles filled with water through which the light radiates in such a pleasing manner.


© August '09   photo by smck
Driving home from St. Peters, I did my usual drive the road along the shore in L'Ardoise and as I turned to parallel Chapel Cove I espied this stone man - who seemed in good welcoming spirits.  

[Received one welcome comment from Shamik which gave me the Inuit name for Mr. Stone Man and the link I quote below - so I have now retitled this posting more informatively.  Thanks] 

'The mysterious stone figures known as inuksuit can be found throughout the circumpolar world. Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means "in the likeness of a human" in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path." - an excerpt from -  http://www.inukshukgallery.com/inukshuk.html

Thig a Ris

© August '09   photo by smck

© August '09   photo by smck
Near the end of the East Side road where it turns to become the back road to L'Archeveque this well maintained country house has a lovely open view toward the mouth of the river and Red Head.  I stopped one day and asked about the sign because the word 'Mointeach' (pronounced as mon-yuck) had caught my eye.  But now, for the life-of-me I can't remember what they told me about the meaning of the sign, other than confirming that indeed the word Mointeach was Gaelic for peat - sorry.
This summer perhaps I will find out for sure and update this posting to explain the words  Thig a Ris. (if you happen to know the meaning please comment so I can update)

Well decided to google Thig a Ris this a.m.and found it to mean "Come Again" - and a lovely Gaelic invitational good-bye it is now you see.


© August '09   photo by smck
Everywhere along the sea shore you will find various size boulders covered in lichen growth - usually the mustard yellow colour shown here, with various shadings into a rusty red. 

Hiker's Beach

© August '09   photo by smck
This is a more typical shore front along the coast than the lovely sand beach of Pt. Michaud Beach in the far background.  Many of the beach hikes require definite attention to where one strides on the  sea-rounded-rocks scattered in profusion everywhere - and as in the immediate fore-ground the basic crust of Cape Breton often protrudes with jagged prominences which are difficult without sturdy soles to protect your feet.

Camp Fire at Dusk

© August '10   photo by smck

Basque Island

© August '09   photo by smck
 I posted 'The Days of August' on 17 May 2012 and here is the view ahead to the off-shore Basque Islands (only one of which seems to be visible here).


© August '09   photo by smck

The Mist, The Interval, The Sea

© August '11   photo by smck
The only sound is low soughing shore, wind whisper, grass sibilants, mind mixing time, all blending into that quintessential  feeling of alone with self and spirit of all - that pull that takes us into the back of beyond and cleanses us for another go at the inhabited world.  Sometimes it is the shore, or a walk out into the dark of fogged night with pale moon struggling through, or adrift on a slow moving stream - but I find it here on this island more than any other place.  Home. 

Shore Birds

© August '11   photo by smck

© August '11   photo by smck

Boy and His Dog

© August '92   photo by smck

This is an old (circa 1992) film photo of my son and our friends' dog along the beach below L'Archeveque harbour.   And whether he can actively recall this moment or not you know it is embedded in the amalgamation of that young man which he has become today.  So too, Cape Breton is in his soul and being as a harbour from life's untender offerings. 

Real World Time

© August '10   photo by smck
© August '10   photo by smck
Real cows in a real field eating real grass and breathing real air - fantastic!