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!

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Air Conditioning

About 1975 or 76


photograph by NorvellHimself©                                                                                                                                                

Late Afternoon Sun At Black Hill

26 October 2013      photo by smck©

Colours In A Gray Day

photograph ©smck         30 October 2013


30 October 2013        photograph by smck©


Fall Fields

30 October 2013      photo by smck©

Bushy Park 1957

At a small U.S. Air Force barracks in Bushy Park, England.   About eight army personnel like my self were stationed at Eisenhower's old war headquarters there and lived in the small barracks compound with air force personnel.  Here at the back of the barracks a tall wire fence separated us from the cricket field in the distance - notice the cricketers' automobiles in the background.  I believe I was doing an imitation of the Scotch Guard at the time - having drank a good portion of the wineskin hanging from my shoulder.

Up Close

photo by smck©

Autumn Transport

October 2013


This is the second posting - the first was 26 Sept 2013 and was the opening vignette of  the first of a two part series of reminiscences by thePresbyterian minister of the last few years in my adopted home of Grand River, which he had printed in a church distributed little booklet called

 Stirring The Porridge Newsletter
  A cuir mu'n cuairt a bhrochan - thall's a bhog'    Stirring the porridge here and there

of  The Framboise, Grand River & Loch Lomond Presbyterian Pastoral Charge.  Although I am not a Presbyterian I have attended various functions (weddings, funerals, musical presentations etc) there and found Rev Murdock to be one of the nicer persons that I have ever met.  To my great appreciation he included me in the mailings of the newsletter with its newsy contact of the doings of the local area.  His pleasant recollections mirrored somewhat those of my own youth in a different land and climate.

Eventually the full two part article will be accessible as one continuous read - via the right side bar index.

Murdock MacRae

This is the first of a two part article, which the author hopes will rekindle many pleasant memories of similar events in the lives of our readers. Part 2 will be included in the next issue of this newsletter.  

PART 1 - Vignette 2 
Winters Long & Cold
Rural life of my childhood was relatively simple and patterned around the seasons that came and went with unceasing regularity.  Winter was the harshest. Long and cold the season progressed painstakingly slow. Yet it held its own unique delights.  The loveliness of the countryside mantled in white.  Covered brooks and fences allowing for long coasting runs.   Huge icicles hanging precariously from roof edges. Shimmering hoarfrost reflecting early morning sunlight. Overnight ice sealing the water hole in a quiet brook which had to be broken each day to allow cattle a refreshing drink.    Creeping frost crystals on window panes always fascinating young and old minds.  During the coldest of days one had to melt portals on the icy windows to see outside. Heated bricks tucked in our beds soften the cold that threatened to keep one from sleeping. In the earliest of my years we had no electricity or indoor plumbing save a single water pipe that brought water indoors, first, reluctantly by way of a hand pump that had to be primed and vigorously pumped, and then later by the magic of gravity.  Until my parents had a bathroom installed we responded to nature’s daily call with a visit to the outhouse.  This tall grey edifice welcomed us with a single door that kept others at bay while we contemplated our lot, drawing some meager inspiration from the familiar Eaton’s catalogue that seemed to grow smaller with each visit.  


August 2013      photo by calum©
Photograph by my son back in August somewhere on the Cabot Trail

Early Morning Moon

28 October 2013       photo by smck©
A quick shot of the moon this a.m. with my new camera - I was shivering and hand holding the camera so I believe that if I were using a tripod - or even leaning against the house - that I could get more crater detail.  This is a far cry from photographs of the moon that you might find in magazines but I am impressed by my non-pro camera with no tripod.  This was also just using the automatic settings, perhaps when I get up to speed on manual settings the focus might be improved a bit more.

Geese on a Farm Pond

27 October 2013      photos by smck©

Rocket Boys

27 October 2013       photos by 'RocketMan smck©

There was a true book once called Rocket Boys, set I believe in West Virginia, but when made into a movie, the director using a digital anagram device ran 'Rocket Boys' and came up with October Sky which the movie was released under.  So just fooling around for a title for several photographs on a back country road showing October Sky.  - and a little play on my final career days where I played a very minor part in that kind of industry.

Late Afternoon Sun Play in Late October

26 October 2013     photo by ancient Octoberman smck©
26 October 2013     photo by earthling smck
 - and from below, in all that forested land seen from above, it looks like this -

Bay View

26 October 2013       photo by smck©
The 'Bay View' of the title is the name of a long existing little community several miles north of North East - in this photo barely visible as a light smudge at the center top of the distant hills - and is so named because some early homes there when farming had cleared many of the trees had views of the Chesapeake Bay from a couple well chosen locations.

Elk River

26 October 2013     photo by smck©
This is a view of Elk River in the distance - Once I learn how to adjust focus manually I think I can get a more detailed photo of the sailboats etc there.

Looking toward Havre de Grace

26 October 2013      photos by smck©

In this view of the head of the Chesapeake Bay the Susquehanna River, beyond the neck of land protruding from the right, is flowing from the left past the town of Havre de Grace while the closer water this side of the neck is the Northeast River (a little known bit of trivia is that at one time the Northeast was planned to be called The Shannon).  As you can see by the photos the forest cover is still predominantly green but autumn is bringing in the reds and yellows slowly on Maples, Gum, and Sumac - for whatever reason most of the Oak though losing a fair amount of leafage is losing it in brown leaves - probably from attrition due to lack of rain.  The smallish cove from the Northeast side above is known as Cara Cove (and on some older maps as 'Carrot Cove).

North East Isles

26 October 2013       photo by smck©
 On the out-skirts of the small town of North East is a new (relatively speaking) community called North East Isles located at what I knew of as a kid as "out to the Arundel" and where my father as a young man worked as a laborer loading railroad cars with gravel dredged from the Northeast River.  The gravel cars road on a large trestle track that extended a hundred feet or more into the river so that the barged material could be off loaded.  Here I and other kids would go to dive off the then unused  loading pier and swim in the fairly deep waters.  No road led in there for a long time and one walked the main railroad track to the work switch to the river.  My father always warned me never to go there both because of the danger of drowning trapped in underwater coils of rusting cable and because this was a hang-out for boozing neer-do-wells but all we ever saw was the odd fisherman casting from the shore and giving us annoying looks for scaring away the fish.  In the photo above the condominiums are facing directly into the river which is screened from view here by the forest of tree tops on the Elk Neck Peninsula.

Autumn II

25 October 2013       photo by smck©


25 October 2013     photo by smck©


Mason's Decoy Factory 1895-1924

borrowed photograph from Decoy Book 25 October 2013
In 1970 when I moved to Maine on the coast of Gouldsboro Bay I found two decoys haphazardly hanging in a tree along my shore-line tangled in twine looking as if they had been washed there years ago by some storm.  Foolishly I cut the twine and threw it away but even though neither a hunter or decoy collector I liked the old patina of the finish, the worn areas where the twine had been wrapped tightly around the forward position of the decoy just behind the head when it was hauled and stored, and the curving shape of the head, so I kept the two decoys all these years and have finally identified the one with this photo shown above that is identical to the bird I have.  The second decoy is of a different species and is nowhere near in as good condition as the Black Duck decoy.  

Nature's Own

19 October 2013       photo by smck

When we had left Longwood Gardens we drove north on #1 and crossed The Brandywine where we stopped at a nice lo-key restaurant called Hanks Place.  Nice food with a reasonable wait time and nice prices also (not the kind of up-scale place that charges large prices for three small portions that are spaced several inches apart on your plate in order to look like you actually were served a meal).  But even though the area was that sort of treesy rural-like urban sprawl out of Philadelphia this marshy area off the Brandywine gave off a close approximation to the real marsh of wilderness areas far removed.

This Week

Visitors this week in order of most to least in number of hits

United States
United Kingdom


photo by smck©


Summer 2012    photo by ©smck
This field laboriously cleared by hand - axe, burnings, field animals, if lucky oxen and buck saw but years in clearing and piling rock and going to bed each night exhausted unto sleep and bitter winters frost heaving more rock aloft every spring - now going back to arboreal forest and there still coursing in wet weather and slowly pulsing in dry wends a slough on its' way to the sea.


Did you know that in the standard mathematics base of ten there is a mnemonic for the often asked question (among other queries by students - American students I must add - whose previous education  left them quite defunct in rudimentary arithmetic skills which was the main cause of their difficulty in Algebra) in elementary algebra of 'what is 7*8 equal to?' -   I would point out that in the listing of the base numerals 0 through 9  you could quickly find 5,6,7,8 which would remind then that 56 = 7*8 .  and that also  1,2,3,4 would remind them that 12 = 3*4.

Aside from being a quick and easy crutch for them, it also led into a more interesting (even if minor) thought of did they think that such a scheme could be found in the base numerals of other bases - such as 8 or 12, or 36 or what ever.  A few of the interested students would usually assume that in a field of infinite base sets that there had to be more such random multiplication equalities.

However a little proof I had devised had surprised my by showing that only base ten held such base numerals.  Since those school teaching days are far behind me I have never thought much about this but I have never heard of this idea elsewhere.  If any of you gentle readers happen to be interested in number ideas and have cause to look into such a simple example I would be more than happy to hear your comment on the same

Bold Overlook - Cabot Trail

August 2013       photo by calum©


18 October 2013        old camera
When I was in elementary school - about 5th grade in 1944/45 - we learned a number of poems about the fall one of which was 'Sumac'

Come quickly, oh quickly that field is aflame!
Oh no, it's the Sumac and I'm glad that you came.

is about all that I remember.  I tried to find the complete poem on the internet but came up out of luck.  So this tid-bit of memory is all that you get.

The Day Is Fleeting

18 October 2013     photo by smck©


Softly - The Day Displays

Summer 2013     photo by smck©


19 October 2013    photo by smck©

This is basically one humongous tree, although there are a couple smaller diverse types growing within its huge over arching canopy.  

Ten To The Minus Thirty Third Of A Second

21 October 2013      by smck
I took this photo on the 18th but finally digitally developed it today (21st) and was amazed to see the Baryons already forming.  Himself

Lovely Back Garden

©smck   18 October 2013      

Fun Guy

©smck   17 October 2013   (old camera)

The old limb pruning - probably untreated - gave access to a fungal spore which will eventually do the tree in, but for now makes for an interesting view.  If I identify this I will amend this posting.

Welcome Italy

Welcome Italy

I am pleased to see that I have a visitor from Italy - perhaps you or another fellow countryman has wandered here before at any rate thanks for perusing my blog.  I hope you find it interesting even thought I know it is rather lo-key in the present day scheme of things.  If so please return and also pass it on to a friend.  Yours, Himself

Red Black Gum

©smck    17October 2013
More commonly known as Black Gum in this area and as Sour Gum through out the South this Nyssa sylvatica Marsh shows lovely shades of red in the fall.

Light Play

Light Play - 19 October 2013 - ©smck

Fluorescent Night

Fluorescent Night          2013    ©smck

Tall Cedar

©smck     19 October 2013
As we walked the less traveled outlying portions of the large Longwood Gardens estate we passed this tall Incense Cedar, fairly narrow for such a tall tree.