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!

North East Yacht Club - III

North East Yacht Club - II

North East Yacht Club - Sundown

Through The Window

Time Changes Things

- this photograph was taken from an upper corner on the town park but when I was young it was almost exactly where the North East colored (as they talked then) school was located - I must have been twelve years old, give or take, when it first registered on me that the black kids had to go to this ramshackle wooden building with no electricity, no plumbing and thus no toilets, no furnace just a big cast iron wood stove and although my own home was no better,  the brick and mortar school that I attended stood in sharp contrast to how the negro (another back then polite phrase to talk about those so excluded from normal society) in our town - and by extension the county - was delegated to crumbs thrown down from our white society and my mind slowly awakened to awareness of how unjust our society was.  But amazingly some 16 to 20 years later the county quietly, without federal prodding or fanfare, built a large modern school in Elkton (where the school administration is now housed) and a few short years later, and again without fuss or fanfare - a bit of grumbling from people like my father to be sure but nothing overt - all the county schools were desegregated.

Laphroaig Single Malt Scotch Whisky


In my opinion one of  the best buys in the world of single malt Scotch Whisky
I like to sample single malt Scotch and find a lot of great drinks - but this is my base line for every one of those samples and I return to it on a regular basis to renew my joy in Scotch.

Newfoundland - 2012 trip

For My Friends In Cape Breton, that think we don't get blizzards down here in the states - school was called off for a week and the temperature plunged to 1 deg C

well just kidding of course - we did have a dust-up and the 1 °C was correct - though I can remember a June day looking like this with - 2°C and a dusting of heavy frost on the old Frank MacDonald Road in Grand River about 1974

Wheels Down

Digitally Enlargement of Ducks At The Old Dam Site - III

The Old Dam Site - Reflection of the early evening sky

Not Eagles

I was visiting one of my favorite stretches of the upper North East River, behind St. Mary Anne's Episcopal Church and its adjoining property that years ago had been sort-of 'qui tacet consentit' used as  a parking lot by the store known simply as The Wharf (although to maintain valid ownership of the churches property letters of notice were sent to several various owners - and as well that whole street would be partially barricaded with a sign reading private property no trespassing one day of every year).  Seeing nothing of great interest I was driving away when out of the corner-of-my-eye I glimpsed what seemed to be two eagles gliding in to land on a tall tree near the old mill tail-race (which they often do on the other side of the river) and even though there was no trace of white heads it could have been last years young birds.  Taking this photograph on zoom lens showed they were two Black Vultures (Coragyps atratus) - sometimes known as American Black Vulture.

Ducks At The Old Dam Site - See the old granite retainer end at the right

when North East was still a real town and not a bed-room community for far off jobs and a tourist destination for people looking for dining out and browsing faux antique shops there was a dam here at the upper-most demarcation of the tides, that diverted some of the water from the North East Creek to a mill race that ran past the old jail and down to the long gone mill that ground the local flour for the surrounding community (and no one thought to preserve the dam or the mill race or the mill for the living history of our community and for the viewing by the crowd that comes from afar)

A Simple Post

- a simple post, as the squirrel I focused on scurried almost out of sight to the right ( a mere wisp of tail and the rest like Schroeder's cat just tantalizes me

Every One Needs A Portal

Himself - Laughing at the unknown


this post has comments about Putin and the U.S. so if you don't want a political outlook then don't click on this

Journalist Luke Harding has an insider's understanding of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Harding served as Moscow bureau chief for the British newspaper The Guardian from 2007 until 2011. During his tenure, Russian agents followed him, tapped his phone and repeatedly broke into his home.
"I almost feel like I could write the KGB handbook, I lived it for quite a long time," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Harding was expelled from Russia after four years, in part due to his reporting on Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who defected to England and died in 2006 after drinking tea dosed with polonium-210, a radioactive poison. Litvinenko's murder is the subject of Harding's new book, A Very Expensive Poison.
Harding understands how Russia's reach extends far beyond its borders, and he takes very seriously the issue of Russia's interference in the U.S, election. "I don't want to sound too hyperbolic, but it's really an assault on the Western liberal order," he says.
Harding adds that Putin's aim is to disrupt the politics that have dominated America and Europe for the last 70 years. "[Putin] wants to turn the clock back to an age of great powers, to almost an imperial era of the 19th century, where strong sovereign nations didn't talk about values or human rights or anything like that," he says. "They cut deals, they had summits, they made grand bargains ... and they divvied up, they divided the world into spheres of influence."

Interview Highlights

On Putin's tactics for creating false stories
This is one of Putin's tactics that he first learnt as a junior spy in Leningrad when he joined the KGB — essentially lying, if you're in the KGB. There's nothing wrong about it. It's simply a kind of tactic. It's a kind of operational strategy. And what we've seen, essentially, is that the Kremlin has kind of perfected these postmodern techniques, first of all, by squashing domestic criticism and taking over TV inside Russia, but really, over the last seven or eight years, willing this out to an English language audience through things like Russia Today, the English-language propaganda channel of the Kremlin.
The goal is essentially to persuade some people that the Kremlin's view of events is true, but also to kind of confuse and bamboozle everybody else by floating conspiracy theories, so there are 10 different explanations for an event, by doing fake news, by hiring armies of trolls. ... And so it's clever, it's clever because it allows, actually, the Russian regime to get away with all sorts of things, and increasingly, I guess, exploiting the openness of Western societies and America in particular.
On how Russia tries to show that Western governments are no better than Russia's
It's an operation ... designed internally for Russians. The message is that actually, if you look at the West, it looks a bit shinier than Russia, they've got better roads, better infrastructure, but essentially, everywhere is the same — all politicians are corrupt. All elections are fixed. The establishment will cheat if it can. You can hire any politician if the price is right.
And actually, Putin has been very successful at doing that, if you look at Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany who was on the Kremlin's payroll, if you look at Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-prime minister of Italy. And in the U.S., I think the goal of this hacking operation was not primarily to get Donald Trump to win — although they're delighted that he did win — but to sort of discredit American democracy and say that "Your democracy is no better than our democracy."
On why Russia has given financial support to far-right European candidates
[Russia] wants sanctions imposed by France and other EU countries against Russia to be dropped. It wants [to help] Putin's, sort of, friends who can no longer access their wine collections in Switzerland — I've heard that from one oligarch, who's been complaining he can't get to Switzerland anymore where his wine is stored and he's very unhappy about that. He can't go skiing in the French Alps or take their yachts to Sardinia. This is insulting. These are very rich people who can no longer kind of play in some of the world's most beautiful spaces. So this is the key geopolitical goal.
On harassment Harding faced while Moscow bureau chief for The Guardian
We had a series of break-ins at our flat, where these agents would come in, obviously when we were away, and they would leave clues that any idiot could find. You didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes, it was completely obvious that they cut the central heating when it was -20 [degrees], that they deleted my screensaver showing my wife and kids. And most chillingly, we came back ... to discover the window next to my 6-year-old son's bed, which we always double-locked, because it was a huge drop to the courtyard below, had been bust open and propped open next to the bed. And it was a sort of chilling sign, if you like, that if you carry on writing the stuff you're writing about, your son might just fall out the window.
And I took advice from the British Embassy in Moscow, they told me that this kind of harassment, psychological harassment, really, was meted out to British diplomats, to American diplomats as well, to their Russian staff, and that our apartment was now bugged and there was not much we could do about it. They also said the FSB [federal security service], the KGB, the spy agency, didn't actually hurt kids, but this was kind of nasty stuff.
On Russian surveillance tactics
One thing puts me in mind of Donald Trump. There's a whole conversation about what he did or didn't do in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow in 2013 — about whether there was sexual activity going on or not. But one thing I can tell you is that the FSB really are obsessed with sex, because I came home after one break-in, and I discovered a sex manual left by the side of my bed, the marital bed. Next to all of the middle-class novels that your listeners have in English, there was this bloody sex manual, and the FSB, the KGB, they had bookmarked it to page 181, and it was one of the most surreal moments of my life.
I opened this thing and I'm thinking, "What are they trying to tell me? Is there a frequency issue or some other kind of technical problem they've observed on their video?" And the page was on orgasms, how to have a better orgasm, and of course we kind of wave this thing around at dinner parties and we laughed at it, but actually it wasn't so funny. It showed that the KGB has a dark sense of humor. But they were basically saying, "We're watching you."
On the dangers facing Russian dissidents
There's a huge distinction between Americans working in Moscow, diplomats or otherwise, and Brits, and Russians. And the Russians are the real hero in this story, because the Putin assumption is that any American, any Brit in Moscow is a spy — that we're all spies ... why else would we be there? So you can hound a foreign spy, but you don't kill foreign spies.
In my case, I was sort of deported. Whereas for Russians, it's different. If you're a traitor in the Kremlin's eyes, like Alexander Litvinenko, then anything can happen — to you being fired three weeks before you're due to get your state pension or your daughter losing her university place, to you being shot.
And we've seen some of the bravest and the brightest Russians been killed. I'm thinking of Anna Politkovskaya who was gunned down in 2006 in the stairwell of her Moscow apartment, who was a liberal journalist and a friend of Alexander Litvinenko's. And I'm thinking of Boris Nemtsoy, who was an opposition leader, shot dead in early 2015, 300 meters away from the Kremlin in the most secure part of town. So the Russians are the hero in this story, and if and when Russia does become a democracy or a semi-democracy, I hope that they can be honored.
Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Gum - II

Room With A View


I really love the fall foliage display of the Gum Tree (Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua) but -

But - the fruiting body is an unending source of labor in keeping the yard clean

The distinctive compound fruit is hard, dry, and globose,1–1.5 inches (25–38 mm) in diameter, composed of numerous (40-60) capsules Each capsule, containing one to two small seeds, has a pair of terminal spikes (for a total of 80-120 spikes). When the fruit opens and the seeds are released, each capsule is associated with a small hole (40-60 of these) in the compound fruit.
Fallen, opened fruits are often abundant beneath the trees; these have been popularly nicknamed "burr (or bir) balls", "gum balls", "space bugs", "monkey balls", "bommyknockers", "sticker balls",or "goblin bombs".
The fruit is a multicapsular spherical head and hangs on the branches during the winter. The woody capsules are mostly filled with abortive seeds resembling sawdust.The seeds are about one-quarter of an inch thick, winged, and wind-dispersed. Goldfinches, purple finches, squirrels, and chipmunks eat the seeds of the tree. The seeds stratify within 30–90 days at 33°–41 °F or soaked in water for 15–20 days. The long-stemmed fruit balls of Liquidambar resemble those of the American sycamore or buttonwood (Platanus occidentalis), but are spiny and remain intact after their seeds are dispersed; the softer fruits of Platanus disintegrate upon seed dispersal. The long-persisting fallen spiked fruits can be unpleasant to walk on; sweet gum is banned in some places for this reason. In abundance, they can leave a lawn lumpy. The winter buds are yellow brown, one-fourth of an inch long, acute. The inner scales enlarge with the growing shoot, becoming half an inch long, green tipped with red.

Reading Xmas Book About Newfoundland - and looked at my 2012 Newfoundland photos with this sparce view at L'ance Aux Meadows filling me with joy again

What Is Reality?

Really Missing This

Angus Cattle - Colora, Maryland

-although Angus cattle are now spread throughout the world it seems as if the original impetus for the beginning of this breed started in Scotland.

"Aberdeen Angus cattle have been recorded in Scotland since at least the 16th century in the country's North East.  For some time before the 1800s, the hornless cattle in Aberdeenshire and Angus were called Angus doddies.  In 1824, William McCombie of Tillyfour, M.P. for South Aberdeenshire, began to improve the stock and is regarded today as the father of the breed.  Many local names emerged, including doddies or hummlies. The first herd book was created in 1862, and the society was formed in 1879. This is considered late, given that the cattle gained mainstream acceptance in the middle of the eighteenth century. The cattle became commonplace throughout the British Isles in the middle of the 20th century."