Calligraphy by Ornamelle.
Calligraphy by Ornamelle.
Not much school this week for residents of the crooked house. First there was the annual twenty-four-hour stomach flu vomit-a-thon on Wednesday, then the early lunch-time dismissal on Thursday due to an impending snow storm, and now school is cancelled today while they clean up the streets. We just made the obligatory snowman. He looks like he is bleeding because we tried to use red smarties for his mouth but they proved to be too irresistible and had to be eaten, leaving nothing but red dye smears across the snow. We replaced them with uncooked rotini noodles, which aren't as palatable.
On Saturday, we drove 45 minutes into the country to have lunch at the 10th annual Parkdale Maplewood Heritage Blueberry Festival. Although the blueberries make the headline, we went because they serve a traditional Lunenburg County cooked dinner before the blueberry desserts. Homemade brown bread and pickles are the usual side dishes -- but the pickles are not traditionally glued to the bread with mounds of butter. This is Sylvie's culinary innovation. I'm not sure exactly what kind of brown bread that is but man, was it good. Sweet and slightly nutty. Sort of like Vivi herself.
Lunenburg County was settled by Germans, and this is reflected in the traditional food. That sauerkraut mixed with red and green peppers at the top of the plate is a delicious cold, sweet sauerkraut salad. Directly below it is a hot dish of Lunenburg sausage and hot, tangy sauerkraut. The sausage is definitely unappetizing to look at but it's very good to eat. Below the mound of sauerkraut is one piece of Solomon Gundy -- pickled herring. It's not my favourite dish but I took a piece in an effort to be a completist. Next to that, in the six o'clock position, is a piece of Lunenburg pudding. It is similar to Lunenburg sausage, except is eaten cold, has a texture similar to that of liverwurst, and tastes more of nutmeg. Again, it's not my personal fave. Next to the pudding is some hodge podge (potato, yellow and green beans, and carrot) sans the cream soup base, and above the hodge podge is a scoop of smeltz potatoes, which are a mixture of potatoes, pork scaps, onions, and apples. All of the ingredients on this plate were produced locally and have been for over 250 years.
In case you are wondering, that white and orange object to the right of my plate is a tiny stuffed unicorn. At Lunenburg County cooked dinners -- a meal generally served at lunchtime -- a tiny stuffed unicorn guards the plate of each diner. Okay, not really. That is a tiny stuffed unicorn that a man at the flea market outside gave to Luke.
The children had wild blueberry pie for dessert -- blueberries grow like weeds around here. You couldn't get rid of them if you wanted to. And they are so much sweeter and more delicious than farmed ones.
David, Grampa and I had wild blueberry grunt. Yum. (Blueberry grunt is defined in this excellent Lunenburg County dictionary -- go take a look.)
I'll post more photos from the festival when I get a chance later -- it was a stunningly beautiful fall day and we got some good shopping done, too.
Photo from edupic.net
The other day, when we saw a dragonfly at the swimming pool, Grampa said that his grandmother had called them "devil's darning needles" and told him they would sew his mouth shut. (!)
On our way home from Annapolis Royal this weekend, we stopped at Oaklawn Farm, a small zoo. The following exchange demonstrates why children two and under get in free.
David (in a tone of great excitement): Look, Vivi! A zebra! And an ostrich!
Sylvie (in an equally excited tone): Ook, Daddy! A butterfly! And a cat!
Longtime readers may remember our first family visit to the gorgeous Annapolis Royal three years ago, when Luke was three years old and Vivi was only a twinkle in her father's eye and a dream (or perhaps, more accurately, a recurring nightmare) of mine. I remember that I was desperate to go into the bookstore/cafe/chocolate shop* but couldn't manage to. I laughed about that on our first evening there this time, remarking to David that I had had only the one child then and why on earth hadn't I gone in? I declared that, if I felt like it this time, I would certainly go in, with two riotous children in tow and propriety be damned. The next morning after Luke followed me into a folk art boutique on the way there and almost knocked over a thousand dollar carving** of, coincidentally, a tired-looking woman holding a cup of coffee, I changed my mind. We went to the park instead.
*I mean, really. Books, coffee, chocolate. The only way for that place to get any better is if they rented out clawfoot bathtubs by the half-hour.
** Really. The statue had been purchased only the day before on our side of the province at a special sale of Nova Scotia folk art in Lunenburg. On the plus side, I probably could've carved a fair replica myself and had the kids paint it. The difficulty would have been in convincing the propietor that our work is as valuable as the stuff produced by one of the guys around here who is formally considered "folk." For that I guess you need to be handy with a chainsaw and possibly have some sort of interesting physical quality, like slightly crossed eyes. I am debating whether to give up my battle with weight and let myself grow morbidly obese in order to qualify (that would be a lot of fun) but I'm afraid that once I started working with the chain saw I might cut off one of my own thumbs. Of course the absence of a thumb could only add to my folksy appearance but at this point I still need ten fingers to wrangle Vivi in the bathtub. Perhaps once she starts school.
We were very busy on Friday because the children had a pirate convention in Mahone Bay. They have been official pirates for over a year now -- membership is a complicated process involving a treasure hunt and a special vocabulary test among other things, which they completed at the Victoria, British Columbia branch. Of course when they heard pirates were invading nearby Mahone Bay, long a haunt of pirates, for the weekend, they knew they would be expected to be there. This is a photo of them on their way. (Modern pirates sometimes go by car. And they use the carseats with the very highest safety ratings, just in case they have to run someone off the road.)
Actually, modern pirates use a variety of modes of transportation. This one hijacks her own father and demands to be carried. She has to almost put out his eyes several times with her plastic sword in order to make him comply.
The pirates, along with their grandfather, survey the government wharf before the other pirates show up.
In the pub, Luke meets up with another pirate (a local politician, which makes perfect sense) who shares some of his booty with him. The pirate/politician relishes saying the word "booty" and also asks Luke if his sister is for sale. Um, perhaps he should stick to kissing babies. Only not mine.
After a nice pub dinner, we go down to the wharf to watch more pirates sail in.
I'm thinking this one is a ghost pirate.
These pirates arrive by SUV, which they park in front of Grandpa's house.
Luke checks out the pirate treasure beside another young pirate in a fetching red and white polka-dotted kerchief.
Two pirates checking out the menu at the Mug and Anchor Pub. Hey, pirates have to eat, too, and some are even allergic to shellfish.
One can always fall back on the official pirate chip truck.
This is a possible William Gilkerson sighting. He is the renowned Maritime artist and pirate expert who wrote the excellent (and Governor General's award-winning) Pirate's Passage, a book that belongs in the library of every child who loves pirates. It has a special place in my heart because it is set in Mahone Bay. (Gilkerson lives nearby.) There was a tribute to him and talks by experts who advised on movies like Pirates of the Caribbean in the official Pirate Festival yurt*, but my pirates wouldn't have been able to sit still long enough for those.
I highly recommend this festival, which is still in its infancy (its second year) precisely because of that fact. The town isn't as crowded as it gets for say, the Scarecrow Festival held in October -- lately the streets have been as crowded as New York's for that. And because Mahone Bay has a rich history of pirates (including the renowned Oak Island mystery), it's the perfect place to take kids interested in this stuff.
*What, you didn't know yurts had anything to do with pirates? Well you learn something new every day.