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!

Possible Bag

© 30 Sep '12    photo by smck
In the early days of the American expansion westward into the mountains, the frontiersmen carried a kind of pack bag that they referred to as their 'Possible Bag'  - I assume that it was 'possible' that most anything they might have need of was in it.  Well here is my little green 'Possible Bag' - in the lower left corner, in which I carry my cell phone and camera.  As you can see I run a semi-managed woodlot in which I try never to cut any living tree.  And here is the results of my cutting wood-stove size pieces of a long dead Red Oak blow-down.

Chicken Mushroom - Laetiporus sulfureus

© 29 Sep '12    photo by smck

© 29 Sep '12    photo by smck

While cutting firewood in my little woodland area my eye was caught by the appealing colours of this small cluster of Polyspores.  Luckily I had my trusty camera (along with my cell phone for emergencies) with me in a small carry case and so quickly snapped a few pictures.  Later at the house I tentatively identified these in my field guide as the Chicken Mushroom - a 'choice' edible.  I have not done a spore test and so must say that this identification is truly tentative.  

Breakfast Morsel

© Sep '12    photo by smck
Walking up the sidewalk I noticed a group of mushrooms that had not been there the day before.  Taking a closer look I could see that it was already being devoured by a large slug so I went into the house for my trusty camera.  But alas the slug, satiated I presume, had moved on.   I did not bother to try and identify the remains of his meal but I did reflect on the fact that numerous animals can eat deadly poisonous (to humans) mushrooms with no ill affect.  There have been instances of humans eating turtles that had previously dined on some deadly mushroom with the result being that even though the turtle had survived the poison, the poison was still viable and the human was stricken - second hand so to speak.

It's Twilight Time

© Jul '12     photo by smck
I've probably taken more photos of this particular piece of landscape in Grand River Falls than anywhere else - the change of day to night never ceases to amaze me

Fishing Camp at L'Archeveque

© Jul '12      photo by smck

© Jul '12      photo by smck
I almost titled this post "Room With An Ocean View".  For several years back in the 80's, we spent our summer vacation time here in our friends fishing camp on the long interval at L'Archeveque - the ocean on one side and a nice canoeing lake on the other.  Electricity but no running water, a rough kitchen with stove and an adjoining bedroom.  If we needed to answer a call of nature it was a good trek up to Rodger's camp where an old fashion out-house was available.  On the little deck we kept a tin basin and a water container for washing our hands and about every second day we would journey up to Frances' house to get a lovely hot shower.  Truly some of the most awesome memories of our lives - going to sleep with the sound of the surf and the plaintive low moan of the fog horn at the harbour, the kids collecting stones and shells and odd bits of driftwood along the beach,  lobster dinner spread out on old newspapers covered table, long walks down the endless shore, late evening campfires with hot dogs and marsh mallows.  And none of us would trade those carefree, low-key times for anything.

note:  this camp had originally been up on the rise of hill along with the camps shown in L'Archeveque Harbour Working Buildings 25 Sep, but was moved here about the time we used it in the 8o's.  I can't remember for sure if it had electricity at the time or not.

Whisky - A Meaning Not Often Used Today

circa 1910
A 'one-horse shay' is a light, covered, two-wheeled carriage for two persons, drawn by a single horse. It is the American adaptation, originating in Union, Maine, of the French 'chaise', and is also known as a 'cheer', or a 'whisky' as its owners tended to whisk about doing errands.  The body is chair-like in shape and has one seat for passengers positioned above the axle, which is hung by leather braces from wooden springs connected to the shafts. It was colloquially known as a 'one-hoss shay'.

Oliver Wendell Holmes’s poem “The Deacon’s Masterpiece,” a satire on Calvinism was about a 'wonderful one-hoss shay'.

The Canada Goose - Branta canadensis

© May '09    photo by smck
I've heard many people refer to these birds as Canadian Geese but I read that the preferred term is Canada Geese.  They have always been a migratory bird going south from Canada and northern parts of United States to the lower U.S. in the fall and then north again in the spring to breed.  However in recent years there has been a large build-up of non-migratory birds in the Chesapeake Bay area, North Carolina, and British Columbia with smaller flocks of non-migratory geese scattered elsewhere.  These guys pictured here are some of the non-migrators in Maryland.

L'Archeveque Harbour Working Buildings

© Aug '12    photo by smck
The two weathered-gray buildings on the rise of land behind the harbour are the remnants of some number of such buildings from another era of fishing. In the days of yore, transportation from home to the shore was not as easy as it is today - roads were unpaved, narrow and winding and transportation was by horse and cart - so the men came to the shore for the week, living in these 'home away-from-home' buildings and returned to their families on the weekends. Like all early days on the Island fishing was a rugged way of life that we can only imagine in our pampered environment of today - electricity, indoor plumbing, modern furnaces, paved roads, automobiles and pick-up trucks, etc. 
(however in the buildings today there is electricity, but perhaps no plumbing)

Rankin Night at Granville Green

© Jul '12    photo by smck
Granville Green (Pt. Hawkesbury, Cape Breton), live outdoor music to set your feet a tapping - and  FREE!  I try to get to Granville Green at least twice a summer and often make it more than that.  What a great evening, bring your own chair (there are a few benches but they're taken early), buy a reasonably priced snack at one of the several vendors, and sit back and hear great sounds for the whole evening.  Usually there is an opening performance by newer groups getting needed exposure and then the main event of well known Canadian singers or bands.  This night it was Jimmy Rankin (a well known music family name) and his back-up players holding the crowd enthralled though to the end.  For the life of me I can't remember his first name - so help me out and send it in to me.  

Thanks and a tip of the hat to 'Shamik' for bringing my memory deck up to date on Jimmy's name!

Fall Fun Guy - Updated

© Sept '12    photo by smck

© Sept '12    photo by smck

© Sept '12    photo by smck

I took these photos the other day - haven't quite identified the type of mushroom yet - will ride my bicycle over this morning and see if I can give a name to them.   they are growing over an old tree stump and spreading out across the surrounding area.

Well, I now am reasonably certain (disclaimer:  I am a rank amateur on mushrooms) that these are Jack O'Lanterns - i.e. Omphalotus olearius  - also called False Chanterelle.  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms description reads: "Orange to yellowish- orange mushroom with sharp-edged gills descending stalk; in clusters on wood or buried wood."  These guys were definitely growing in clusters on an old tree wood stump.  I picked one of the mushrooms and examined the underside gills and they match the gill description well.  I often gather Chanterelles in Cape Breton for scrumptious meals so I am familiar with that type of gill look.  (although to be sure that is the only similarity in look to the Jack O'Lantern).  Three different photographs in the field guide also corresponded quite well with what I show here.  And finally the size description fits perfectly - "Cap: 3 to 8 inches (7.5 - 20 cm)"

  It is rated as poisonous "typically causing gastric upset for a few hours to 2 days".  

Also "when this species is gathered fresh and taken into a dark room, the gills give off an eerie  glow".  

I plan on checking out the 'Eerie Glow'.   

Please note: - if you decide to pick wild mushrooms to eat and are not already well-versed in their identification you should always use a good field guide AND before eating spend some time doing a spore identification - this is one of the best, final descriptors of  various mushrooms.  No matter how delicious wild mushrooms may be, some  can also be deadly poisonous - and usually in a very horrible way.   Himself!

Blue Sky and Water, Gray Sand and Rock

© Aug '12    photo by smck
- with a dash of white spray

A Balding of Young Mergansers

© Aug '12    photo by smck
I only had moments to get this photo before these extremely wary Mergansers did their incredible walk/fly on the water to get as much distance as possible between us.  It is difficult to say if these are the Common or the Red Breasted Merganser but the majority with the reddish heads are definitely the female.  Photo was taken while kayaking on Black River.


© Jul 1985    unknown photographer
I am not in front of the entire pack - however I believe that I was running 1st in age-group and probably in the top 10 to 15 runners - oh for the good ole days, eh!?  (I also think the lady right behind me came in first in the women's overall).

Wading Grand River

© Aug '12    photo by smck
This was a fun wade for the kids in the low waters just above Grand River Falls - normally the river at this area would be flowing too swiftly with too much volume for anyone to safely wade. 

Just Another Unnamed Waterfall

© Aug '06     photo by ctmck

Some Clouds Do Have A Silver Lining

© Aug '10    photo by smck

Hello Poland

Hello Poland - I had to search farther for an on-line translator in order to say thank you for visiting my blog - hope you enjoyed it enough to return - Sincerely Himself!

Hello* Polska  - JA musiał szukać dalej operatywnego *translator* po to, żeby mówić (przemawiać) dziękują za odwiedzanie mojego *blog* - mają nadzieję wy cieszycie się (sprawił przyjemność) tym dostateczna ilość (dostateczny; dostatecznie) powrót (obrót; zwracać; wracać; odwrotny) - Szczerze Siebie Himself!

Hello Netherlands

Hallo Nederland - ik was blij om een hit van uw prachtige land vandaag - bezoek opnieuw en aarzel niet om een commentaar (goed of slecht) - zelf!

Hello Netherlands - I was glad to get a hit from your lovely country today - please visit again and feel free to leave a comment (good or bad) - Himself!

Driving The Western Peninsula, Newfoundland

© Jul '12    photo by smck

Info on Sink-Box Duck Decoys??

If any one out there knows anything at all about cast iron duck decoys, or can steer me to a good book on the same please let me know - either by the comment button or by email to <norvellhimself@gmail.com> as I am having slow going by trying Google Search.  Thanks, Himself!

Slice of Time

© Jul '12   photo by smck
The posting of 15 Jul '12 - "Three Arches" - has some information about this lovely little park on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Tightrope Bird

© Aug '12    photo by smck
Well let's see you walk a tight-rope with webbed feet on and see how you do, eh?

Sink-Box Cast Iron Canvasback Decoys - Pair

© Sep '12    photo by smck

© Sep '12    photo by smck
© Sep '12    photo by smck

These decoys have been around for a long time - but are in fairly decent shape.  In case you're interested they are about 12 inches long at the base with the bill extension taking the length up to about 13 1/2  inches, and the weight is about 20.5 pounds. 

Headline in the New York Times, December 1920

DUCK HUNTING THRILLS; How "Floating Coffin" and "Sink-Box" Are Used--Season Now at Height

(this article describes how the sink-boxes are - whoops! that should be "were" - used in hunting duck 

If you have any expertise at all about this type of duck decoy please drop a comment or email me


© 1932     smck by default

Hola Perú

Hola Perú - no hago no si hay que decir la bienvenida o dar la bienvenida atrás - espero que usted disfrute de su visita - Él mismo (Himself)

Headed For The Marsh

© Jun '09    photo by smck
This was the usual shot of the Great Blue Heron that I used to get - they were (and are) so wary - but now I have a decent 16x zoom lens camera that enables me to get decent wading shots.

On The Rocks

© Aug '12    photo by smck

Getting A Little Old For This Type Thing, eh?

© Nov '09    photo  by ctmck
I have to remember that I'm not seventy anymore

Hits Around the World - updated to 14 Sep 2012

United States
United Kingdom



Hong Kong


United States accounts for the most 'hits' followed by Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, France/ Germany, Ukraine 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.

(this blog is small time stuff - big blogs get as many hits per minute as I've gotten in 6 1/2 months - but this going around the world to other countries still gives me a thrill  - each and every new country that I see)

Clinging To The Wall

© Sept  '12     photo by smck
I tried to identify this insect on the internet and came away unsure - but tentatively I believe it is the Northern Walking Stick (Diapheromera femorata), although the colouration descriptors are not quite the same.  Also the articles photograph was not that great. I did read that some alien (foreign) Walking Sticks are being sold illegally in the U.S.

I didn't think to measure the length of the body but I would estimate it at about 100 mm - 4 inches or so.

The Old Sod

© Sept '07    photo by smck
© Sept '07    photo by smck
On our 25th anniversary we took a nine day trip to Ireland - and fell in love with the country and the people.  This day we were in the Folk Park - 26 acres of re-created 19th century life - of Bunratty Castle, County Clare, getting ready to walk through the Bunratty Walled Gardens.  I was filming the beauty of the stone potting shed and inadvertently captured the tower of the Church of Ireland building in the background.  We later walked through it and I somewhere have nice exterior and interior pictures that I will post later in my rambling way. 

Well I found one (of the church) quicker than I thought, eh?

"This little church is an original Church of Ireland building, which was moved stone by stone from where it had been originally built in 1824 in Ardcroney, Co. Tipperary, and rebuilt in the Folk Park. It was opened to the public in 1998."

European Hornet - Vespra Crabro

© 11 Aug '12      photo by smck
 We have had the misfortune of having a nest of this large hornet being built in the eaves of our house which is old and not as tightly constructed as more modern houses.  This particular guy was crawling on the floor of our bedroom exactly where I would normally put my bare feet when I would get out of bed in the morning.  I placed a paper cup over him and carried him to the kitchen table so that I might get the photo you see above.  The 'Toonie' coin with a diameter of about 1 and 1/8th inch - 28 millimeters exactly - gives some idea of his size which I estimate to be about an inch and a half long - i,e, 38-40 mm.  They are normally very un-agressive, but I have had three people that have been stung by them tell me that it was the worst sting they ever received and hurt for days.  Even though I usually am a 'live and let live' kind of person,  the intrusion of a large number of these hornets into my house area and the attendant destruction of our lilac shrubs has prompted me to try and eradicate them.

This large European Hornet was introduced to the U.S. from Europe, being first reported in New York state in about 1840 and has since spread across most of the eastern and central part of United States and lower Canada.   Technically it is the only true hornet of North America.  The so-called Hornet of North America - sometimes called the Bald-Faced Hornet (chiefly distinguished by building large grey paper-like football shaped hanging nests) - is actually another version of the Yellow Jacket.  The Bald-Face Hornet is about half the size of the European Hornet and is much more aggressive also.  The European Hornet is sometimes described as the Gentle Giant.  But make no mistake, it can give a very painful sting - especially when the nesting area is approached to closely - or if you inadvertently happen to step on one in your bare feet! 

Full Sturgeon Moon

© Aug '12     photo by smck

Full Sturgeon Moon – August.  The North American fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

 re/Farmers Almanac 2012

River Tillard

© Aug '12     photo by smck

McCARTHYS Oregon Single Malt

© 10 Sep '12    photo by smck

McCARTHYS Oregon Single Malt 
Clear Creek Distillery in Portland Oregon, Pot Distilled Whiskey   
Distilled from a Ferment Mash of Peat-Malted Scottish Barley.  
Barrel aged 3 years.  
ALC 42.5%  (85 Proof)

 Himself's Take    (done for the first time in a structured fashion)

COLOUR - Very Pale Gold
NOSE - Mild with soft peat, pleasing suggestion of non-cloyingly sweetness
BODY - slow opening, medium body, slightly oily, hint of alcohol
PALATE - Soothing mild peatynessoaky wood notes, kind of a mystic Lord of the Rings flavours that change as you think you've deciphered them.
FINISH - Long and surprisingly easy on the inhale with those mystic flavours riding steadily on
SCORE - upper 80s, say 89

On Sep 2nd I wrote the following:
While in Baltimore yesterday - 1 Sept '12 - I purchased a single malt distilled in Oregon state.  So it's whiskey with an 'e' and the word Scotch conspicuously missing on the label.  However it is a decent member of the malt whiskey set, Scotch or no.  To wit:  McCarthys Oregon Single Malt, a pot distilled whiskey by Clear Creek Distillery.  These words I'm posting today are really just a warm-up of a more in depth review as I was exhausted when I sampled a wee dram late last night.  It was decent enough though to me seeming a bit 'thin' in the opening taste and then coming through with mildly pleasant peat flavour and other little flavours that I will have to dwell on tonight.  At the present I will simply say neither bland nor overwhelming and pleasing flavours that finish well.  More later on this. Promise!!

I've since sampled a few pleasing 'wee drams' and enjoyed them all - but found it hard to describe this American WhiskEy.  On reading a number of reviews I find that it is an extremely well reviewed whiskey - named one of the ten best American Whiskeys and receiving a score of 96 from Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible.  But the theme that was common to them all is that for a whiskey aged for only 3 years this was an unbelievably well crafted and well and truly aged single malt.  Once you get past the strange tasting comments that reviewers seem compelled to mention (pine-sol??,  butterieness, etc.) you will see that all are in agreement that this is a fine Single Malt.

Me too!!

Bird of Prey

© Aug '12    photo by smck

Canal at St. Peters

© Aug '12    photo by smck
via - waymarking.com

Date taken - 01 Jan 1881

Reading the old plaque (2nd photo) you can see that construction started in 1854 and continued until 1856.  Then a hiatus until 1865 when construction was renewed and the canal completed in 1869.  Since 1869 the canal was twice enlarged (i.e. at the time the plaque was posted).  So photo number three is evidently one of enlargement in 1880-1881.

Здравствуйте Россия - Hello Russia

Я замечаю, что мой блог имеет некоторых регулярных зрителей из России - так (любезность, 'translation2.paralink.com) я хотел бы дать Вам теплое и благодарный здравствуйте и спасибо за продолжающееся рассматривание, искренне Непосредственно!

For those, who, like me, cannot read Russian the following is what I originally wrote:
I notice that my blog has some regular viewers from Russia - so (courtesy of 'translation2.paralink.com) I would like to give you a warm and appreciative hello and thanks for the continued viewing, sincerely Himself!

Driving to Gros Morne National Park, NFL

© Jul '12    photo by smck
© Jul '12    photo by smck

an excerpt from Wikipedia

Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island's west coast. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago. "The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth's mantle lie exposed."


© Aug '12    photo by smck

 The following comment is from - http://www.dragonfly-site.com/

One of Nature’s most intriguing and fascinating insects, and the subject of mankind’s most sublime and ridiculous myths and mythologies, the dragonfly darts around going about its business as usual, blissfully unaware and oblivious to the interest it has generated in us. And perhaps thankfully for us because if the dragonfly were to understand that we have called it the “Devils darning needle” and “gwas-y-neidr” or the Adder’s Servant, it could laugh long and hard at us…and considering the dragonfly has been around for over 300 million years, it could be a really, really long laugh. 

The primary fascination that humans have had with dragonflies is because:
  • Of its ability to seek out pure water
  • Of its ability to Reflect multiple colors with changing angles of light
  • Of its awe inspiring flight and speed
  • Of its ability to almost single handedly control insect populations
  • Of its ability to adapt to change with indescribable ease
  • Of the way it lives out its adult life, living each moment to the fullest.

Shades of Blue and Green, NFL

© Jul '12    photo by smck
I believe this is at one of the higher points in Port aux Port, Newfoundland, starting the return clockwise loop at about (direction -wise) 2 O'clock looking down the mountainside and across Gulf St. Lawrence toward Quebec - with the true size of the gulf obscured by the angle of the shot.  A friend of mine commented when he saw this picture, "what a spot for my harvester". 

Many A Lobster Dinner

© Aug '12     photo by smck
Just a small stack of lobster traps among the large amount at L'Archeveque Harbour at the end of the season - but many a lobster has been brought ashore from these inefficient devices*.

* The wooden traps shown above has been around in basically the same design since the early 1800s with minor changes in net material and weighting (to force it to sink).  But studies have shown that a majority of the lobsters that enter seeking the bait do escape.  However the last several years in particular have seen good lobster landings at the dock.