Life's a beach

After a whole lot of packing and driving and putting together furniture and dealing with the water, this is what it's all about...

If you are along the south shore of Nova Scotia, make sure you visit Risser's Beach. It's a little slice of heaven. 

Summer finds

The interesting thing about living ocean-side, is you pretty much stop caring what you wear. I have not had real makeup on for weeks. And I pretty much live in an East Coast Lifestyle hoodie.

The key right now is washability. I'd brought down my normal summer wardrobe of Tory Burch tunics and white J. Brand jeans. Only, it's hard to take care of that kind of thing here since many of the pieces are hand-wash and hang to dry. We must be very careful with our water usage right now, which makes all of that washing out of the question. We could wash things in town and then take them back here to hang dry, but things dry very slowly right on the ocean. Using a dryer makes so much more sense, but most of my things have never seen the inside of a dryer.

So I'm down to wearing Everlane t-shirts and a couple of pairs of pants and shorts. And I honestly don't care.

It doesn't make one terribly interested in shopping in spite of all of the pretty, pretty things tempting me from my inbox right now.

Are Chanel jackets good in the dryer? 

Normally, I'd be combing through the online summer sales to pick up some pieces that I could stretch into fall but, so far, I've only purchased this cashmere scarf from Club Monaco, which is marked down from $140 to $48.30 Canadian and therefore could not be resisted.

I've liked what Club Monaco has offered over the last couple of seasons. I used to shop there all of the time in university, so it's a brand I like to support.

Mainly, I've been picking up some local crafts to bring home. I picked up a little folk art sheep at the Hooked Rug Museum of North American. They have a number of Maud Lewis pieces on display.

I picked up a needle felted pincushion at the Lunenburg farmer's market because I loved the marbled colour.

And I'm bringing back my pig cutting board from Ocean View Woodworking - also found at the market. Allan's pieces are gorgeous and if you have a wedding gift or Christmas gift to buy, you can order a custom piece (think monograms!) I love the Whale charcuterie boards too.


We also picked up some decorative buoys in Blue Rocks. They are only $15 at a little shop with a cash box that works on the honour system. They make a pretty accent piece. 

I also found this cute recycled infinity scarf made out of recycled silk scarves by an artisan in Halifax at p'lovers in Mahone Bay. My mother, who is visiting, gifted it to me.

I found a huge ivory unstructured cardigan at Ardene in the Bridgewater mall. It was $11 on sale and I love it. I have no idea how to wash it but at $11 it was worth the risk.

As I say, I am living really differently right now and it's kind of freeing.

Have you been making any interesting summer purchases?

Not all beach walks and clam chowder

For the most part, our seaside adventure has been a good one. You can't beat the view. The beaches are beautiful. And the clam chowder is beyond.

Waking up every morning to the sound of sea birds and the smell of salt water is heavenly. This really is God's country.

But buying a house on the ocean has with it a learning curve that is steep. Semi off-grid living is not for the faint of heart. We are just getting water back after a grim two days without.

On the back of losing Serena, this hit me hard.

Isn't it strange, how we can roll with the big things and the little things can unseat us? Over the last couple of months, I've come to terms with my diminished vision, battled vertigo, and lost my beloved dog. I've run into the most abusive person I know at my church. This ocean-side experience was meant to be restorative after a time of trial. I was to be saved by salt water - a nod to the words in Mark and John - seeking out kindred spirits and a closer walk with God.

Instead, salt water ran through our taps, leaving us parched.

And what does one do with that?

I've been turning to Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way, in the wee small hours as comfort. And I landed on this beautiful passage that spoke so clearly to me:
I just know that—old scars can break open like fresh wounds and your unspoken broken can start to rip you wide open.

Trauma is the periwinkle shell I find in walks along the beach. Any break in the hard outside reveals the layers of hurt spiralling inward.

Voskamp's entire book is about the act of breaking and the surprise gift it can be. A Farmer's wife, she writes in metaphor:
The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast.
She explains,
For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.
You might mistake it for complete destruction.

What looks like the end is really a beginning, much like that fridge magnet saying about the caterpillar and the butterfly.

The brokenness is a conduit for our salvation.

As Voskamp writes,
The life that yields the most—yields the most.
Maybe the water thing is a gift. Certainly, it's brought me into real communion with people in town I might not otherwise have come to know. I had to miss a cocktail party, but instead got to chat with the water guy. We've had less time to sightsee, but instead I've come to know the lady at the hardware store.

I'm grateful for simple things. Like seeing our neighbour drive up with a tank full of clean water in the bed of his truck. And being able to wash the dishes by hand. (We are still puzzling over why a place with water restrictions had a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and a deep freestanding bathtub...)

I easily could have spent my month here drinking rosé and feasting on the rather excellent goat cheese: my old life lurks around every corner. Instead, we are living a new way of life with Purox buys and Walmart and the use of a laundromat that offers a wash, dry and fold service so that we are able to go into town and have lunch.

Maybe the path to healing lies not in doing nothing, but in doing something quite different. Maybe it lies with the realization that His ways are higher than our ways, and part of the plan is to crack us out of our cozy shells.

The life that yields the most—yields the most. 

It's not entirely clear, and not at all desired, but I know that - somehow - the threat of ticks and the lack of water and the loss of our dog is every bit as necessary for us as the beach walks and clam chowder.

Ob-la-di ob-la-da

Than you to everyone who has reached out to me about Serena. I'm so touched by your kindness.  

I've spilled a lot of tears over the last few days. In some way, grief gets easier with age: you have both practice and perspective. In other ways, it gets harder, as new grief somehow unlocks grief long thought buried. 

And yet, here I sit by the ocean, which, even in my sadness, is magnificent 

Yesterday, we had a lovely evening of conversation with new friends, with a view that could only be described as idyllic. It was the first time I'd been social in a while and it was exactly what I needed. 

Today was the farmer's market in Lunenburg. And the biscuit lady was in town. Everyone is excited when the biscuit lady is in town with her delicious scones. You get up early that day. 

Scones, coffee, and fresh sweet peas from the market
The flower lady was there too. She had sweet peas, which always remind me of my maternal grandfather's garden. As a young child, I spent hours walking through the rows of flowers, picking raspberries and fresh green peas, and then shelling them on the porch, eating the sweet green peas right out of the pod. Perhaps in heaven, Serena is walking with my grandfather, who showed infinite patience with both dogs and small children. 

More likely, she is trying the patience of a Saint. Serena used to have a terrible habit of hammering on any closed door with her front paw, demanding to be let in. Once in, she would then hammer to be let out. I'd be willing to bet that, at this very moment, Saint Peter is losing his mind as she hammers repeatedly on the pearly gates, demanding to run in and out, the way she used to on my office door. 

Grief is transforming into fond memories: the sweet alchemy of healing.  

This afternoon, we went for lunch in Mahone Bay. I'd been wanting to visit the Biscuit Eater Cafe because it's a cafe and bookstore. Also, it serves biscuits. I really like biscuits, but you've probably already figured that out by now. I had the butternut squash macaroni and cheese, with biscuits, and it was divine. 

And then, this afternoon, we watched Magic Beyond Words: The J. K. Rowling Story, which is one of my favourite movies, speaking to the healing power of words. 

And it was good. 

For the first time since Sunday, I've been able to feel joy. As Psalm 30:5 promises, "The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter."

I miss my little dog like crazy, but I'm grateful she died here, in peace, in a place that is so very healing.  

What my faith is bringing me this time around is a new perspective. There will be suffering. And there will be joy. And the whole happiness thing that I subscribed to for years is a bit of a distraction. We are here for a purpose and part of that purpose is to be strengthened and refined. And an entirely easy life does not provide that. I think C.S. Lewis got it exactly right when he wrote:
If you think of this world as a place simply intended for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for training and correction and it's not so bad.
I've had some very good training over the past few months.

Thank God.

Some very sad news

Late last night, our beautiful french bulldog, Serena, passed away. Last night, she was restless and could not settle and then she hid under the bed in the early morning. The Mr. and I helped get her out so I could cradle her. She was not in any pain and I held her right until she took her very last breath. She slipped out of our life as peacefully as she slipped into it.

I've not shared her story widely. We got her at a time when our then family of three was very much in need of mending. She was truly an angel for us. She came into our lives after I had survived an act of brutality and was afraid to leave the house. With her at my side, I started to develop the confidence to go out. For a while, she came with me absolutely everywhere. I never drove anywhere without here. She slept in my bed and was forever at my side. I wrote my entire book with her sitting on my lap.

She offered my children tremendous comfort when I was not able to fully be their mom. And then, when things were better, she provided levity in our often too serious household. She was a natural clown and absolute diva. She liked her bed shifted from sun patch to sun patch. And in the new house, she'd knock on the fireplace in the winter, demanding we turn it on.

She did not initially take to suburban life. A former show dog (she was top frenchie in Canada back in the day), she seemed irritated that she was no longer on the jet hanging with her glam squad (Serena and I had that in common.) When I met my husband and we blended families, she got a Portie as a step brother. I tell you, she wanted none of it until she discovered that Sailor was a beta and she could boss him around like a personal assistant. But the two became best friends. They followed each other around the house all day. They were Frick and Frack. He will miss her terribly too.

Serena also provided comfort to the patients at the seniors' day program. Most of the participants had Alzheimers and were forever delighted to meet her for what seemed like the first time. She patiently sat on lap after lap and did not flinch when the pats were too rough. She did not react when someone would be sick on her. She was a generally grumpy little dog, but displayed infinite patience for those who needed her. I truly believe she was a healer. I know she healed our family.

Serena van der Woofsen was so much more than a dog to us and we will miss her so very, very much. I know she's up in heaven with my grandmothers, and cousins, and formidable aunts who will be thrilled that another feisty blonde has joined their ranks.

Rest in peace, Serena.

Almost finished

Oh my goodness, we've all been working our fingers to the bone. Setting up a new place from scratch is a lot of work!

We needed everything. Cutlery, bedding, a hammer. There were not even mirrors in the place. For the first few days, that seemed just grand. Now, it's just a little depressing, particularly when I catch a glimpse of myself in the car mirror and let out a scream! I'm putting them on the shopping list.

I have little sneak peeks of the place here:

We managed to sneak in a little trip to Point General - the cutest general store. It's a tiny house general store with terrific ice cream, coffee, and croissants. It also sells local art.

I'm sure I will tire of it at some point, but right now, I could look at the water all day. I'm looking forward to getting a good book and relaxing with the sound of the waves.

I hope you are finding some rest and beauty this summer. I think it's essential for the soul.


We have arrived! And a new blog series.

Some quiet in the chaos! 

We made it! After two days of driving, we made it to the sunny South Shore of Nova Scotia. In spite of having kids, a dog, and a million suitcases in the vehicle, we arrived semi-sane, all of us still speaking.

It's a miracle!

I've never driven between Quebec and Nova Scotia, so New Brunswick was a whole new province to explore. We stayed in Edmundston, where the kids had a chance to blow off some steam. And we drove Magnetic Hill in Moncton, which - even though I've had the science explained - is still quite mind-bending.

Coburg's Big Apple

Belleville's Floral Flag

Welcome to New Brunswick!

You must try this if in Moncton! 

Nova Scotia! 

Serena's carrying case may have been a little small! 
And then we were there!

Since Tuesday, when we arrived around dinner time, we've been to Bridgewater three times for supplies and have been cleaning and building furniture. L'enfer c'est les Ikea: and that's all I'm going to say about that. Still, it is starting to pull together and you can't beat the value they offer.

Serena has been very helpful, as you can imagine. 

 But...I'm finally able to put a few accent pieces around.

And we get to wake up to an ocean view from the upstairs window, which is a blessing!

We did manage to sneak out to Lunenburg for a quick dinner last night overlooking the beautiful harbour.

After dinner, we bumped into friends from Stepford at the Walmart in Bridgewater. I've never been a Walmart shopper but it's where you go when you need a zillion things quickly like toasters and cutlery and a shower curtain liner. I'm looking forward to being at the point where I can take my time and shop locally.

Today is market day in Lunenburg. I LOVE a good farmer's market. I'm looking forward to getting some fresh and healthy food into the house. Road trips and moving in are not conducive to healthy eating! We will head over once the plumbers are done. Water is an ever-present concern here. It's all about plumbing and The Water Guy. These are all things we are learning. Thankfully, everyone is very helpful!

Once we get settled, I am going to love it here. The people are friendly, there is lots to do, the ocean is gorgeous, and I can more easily drive! The Mr. got a new SUV last month and I've not driven it since I'm just back to driving after my eye surgery debacle, and the learning curve of a new car seemed all too much. But I'm driving here since I don't have to deal with 400 series highways and streetcars and cyclists swerving to avoid parked cars.

This week is also an exciting one as I'm kicking off a summer blog series at See Hear Love.

I'm so excited to be contributing to this project. I know a few of the women involved very well and they staid steadfast and encouraging during my season of doubt, when my faith was at rock bottom and I was done with the church and all it entailed. I feel very blessed.

Today's post is on the need for rest, which is something near and dear to my heart.

Part of the whole Saved by Saltwater thing is rest. Lots of reading. Lots of looking at the stars. Lots of walking by the sea. And little day trips. I love little day trips. I'm looking forward to getting to know this beautiful province better and I will chronicle our adventures here.

Hope your summer is going swimmingly.


Happy Canada Day!

Our beautiful country is 150 years old today.

While most of our day is going to be spent packing, we are hoping for a bit of sunshine so we can enjoy this wonderful place we call home!

On Monday, we hit the road for two days of driving through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where we will get to know this amazing country even better.

I'll be chronicling our adventures on Instagram, so I hope you'll join me there!

Enjoy your weekend!!

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