Putting on the Pounds in Pictou

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Gobble gobble. Oops, I guess that’s Thanksgiving, isn’t it? Okay, I’m really talking about Easter weekend for this post. The title is a bit misleading, since I already seem to have burned off the extra bunny weight, but boy, did I eat a whole butt-load of great food over the weekend. If there is one thing I can say about visiting my dad and his wife, it’s that you never leave with an empty belly. This visit was no exception. You see, on a whim about a month ago, I booked a fairly affordable weekend airfare for Nova Scotia, since I hadn’t been out to see him since he moved fully into his new house in Pictou . It took a while for them to off-load the old house, which meant there was a bit of stress on their end, but now that they’ve sold it and fully moved to the new place, they can now work on getting it set up the way they want it. I figured it would be a good chance to see it ‘in progress’. I’ve taken a number of pictures over the weekend, both at home, as well as around the area while running and visiting friends. Check ’em out if you want, then come back to read a short bit more about what I got up to over the 4-day weekend.

To make the most of my weekend, I decided to fly out Thursday night, and come back Monday night, giving me almost 4 full days and nights at home. That might not seem like a super-long time, but it was definitely enough to catch up and re-connect with my family. After all, there aren’t that many people around home that I visit anymore, so most of my time was spent at home just chatting and puttering around their house. My only real visiting goals were to make sure I got to see my friends Scott and Kris MacFarlane , childhood friends that I was musically involved with early in my life, both of whom have done far better than me on that front since then (Kris has been playing with a little group called Great Big Sea for over 7 years as their drummer, and Scott has played bass with a number of groups like Sandbox, Kilt, and Crush…). It’s always fun seeing them and just hanging out.

Speaking of music, my little neck of the woods (Pictou County) is still home to some remarkable musical talents given its size. In fact, on the night I was flying in, Kris and Scott were slated to play at a Jam night (they rarely get to do it, so I didn’t want to miss out), at a pub called the Highlander, a mere kilometer from where I was staying in Pictou ! I actually got dad to drop me off right at the pub on my way to town, since it was already getting close to midnight. I walked through the doors and was enveloped in the sweet sounds of carefree rock and roll played by people doing if just for the hell of it. All evening, there was a rotating cast of musicians. Yours truly was even on stage for a little while, playing keyboards on some tunes. Sadly, due to both a difficulty in hearing my keyboard, coupled with lack of practice, I only stayed up for about 30 minutes. It was enough to have a good time jamming with friends, and pulling at least one half-decent solo on a Bob Marley tune. The music went late into the night, and I spent most of the latter part of the night crouched down behind the drum kit playing a tambourine beside Kris while nursing some delicious $4 bottles of Ketih’s. We didn’t pack out of the pub until well after 2:30am. Not a bad start to my weekend.

I got dropped off at home, and headed to bed after first poking my head around the house a bit. Everyone else was already in bed, and I had to be up in time to get my butt to New Glasgow for the 100km group bike ride I was taking part in. Next morning, I awoke to the delicious smells of a nice home-cooked breakfast of waffles with fresh fruit. I ate a few, and had some cranberry juice, then had to shake the fog out of my head and get to the ride (you can read the whole post here).

Upon return from the ride, supper preparations were already well underway, and it was another culinary delight with a dish I had requested, Vol au Vents (not sure of spelling, but it’s delicious). Of course, a wonderful meal wasn’t enough with just the main course. Typically, with each meal, we also enjoyed a salad course, a cheese course (with our wine of course) and a fresh desert. Let me tell you, it was a good thing that we generally skipped lunch, otherwise I would definitely have come home 10-12 pounds heavier :-). Supper was drawn out pretty long, as, well, let’s face it, it was a great place to enjoy conversation and just relax. It was nice not rushing off to have to do something, or trying to catch a certain program on TV or anything. We just sat and talked. Eventually we made our way to the basement, and I had a better tour of the house as well as the future plans that they have in the works. The plan is to have the whole house sort of done by September, when they are getting guests from Germany, but I’ll believe it when I see it 🙂 I did a bit of blogging by the fire, and turned in at a reasonable hour.

Saturday awoke with grey skies, cool winds from the ocean (well, actually, the winds are omnipresent (the flags in the front yard can attest to that). I’d made no real plans for the day, other than a loose plan of going for a run and seeing about getting in touch with either Scott, Kris, or both. Turns out they both had other things on the go for most of the day (they both have families of their own now), so I got to entertain myself, and dad and Nicole. I bundled up for the elements, and hit the hilly roads for a run. Fortunately for me, I found myself conveniently located on the Trans-Canada Trail. This must be one of the least-mentioned gems of this country. Snaking from coast-to-coast, if you’re near a populous area, you’re usually near this network of trails, and this was no different. I opted to take this trail today, and put in 14km. I would have gone further, but the trail was really quite wet, muddy and snowy after a bit, and I just didn’t have it in me.

Getting back home, I decided to do a bit of chores around the house, by first climbing on the roof to take down some Christmas lights, then tackling the re-wiring of the basement to give them a proper home theater room. Once I was done, I had their TV, VCR, DVD, CD player, as well as an auxiliary input for a laptop all hooked up to their amp and a couple of big speakers. Dad jokingly refers to this set-up as having ‘monster sound’ for their video watching. Granted, they really don’t watch much TV or movies, but at least when they do now, they’ll be able to hear it (and hopefully think of me!). This task was not without benefit, as once it was done, I decided to go rent a movie. I got ‘Body of Lies’ with Russell Crowe and Leondardo DiCaprio. Pretty decent flick. Of course, we had another amazing meal, this time a great prune-stuffed pork loin roast (truly was good, in spite of what you may think of prunes). Stuffed and happy, I retreated to the couch to watch my movie while dad split his time between the office and hovering behind me whenever there was an action scene, while Nicole read a book upstairs. Another great night.

Easter Sunday, and the weather was pretty much par for the course. Grey skies, wind, rain. Oh well, that wasn’t going to deter me. I bundled up again, and this time pulled out an 18k run. However, I paid for it. I suspect it had something to do with the 100% humidity, as well as previous days training, but I basically limped the last 2km based on having screwed my knee up. Not good, but rest assured I’m better already (just ran a 10k in 45mins earlier today here in Ottawa). I would have liked to rest, but I’d made plans to pop over to Kris’ for a quick visit. Quick because at 2:30, we were heading into Stellarton for an Easter service at a Masonic Lodge (Scottish Rite). You see, my dad is a ‘big poo-bah’ in the Masons, and as such has many duties. At any rate, the service was open to families, so it was a chance to go check out the inside of another Masonic Temple. Pretty low-key event, but nice enough, with some interesting ceremony which I can’t discuss :-). We also all received red roses for the ladies in our lives. Timing was good, as we were heading out to the cemetery where mom is buried to pay our respects and I (along with Nicole, who was a childhood friend of mom) opted to leave my rose for her. Unfortunately, the marker was quite dirty, and we had no water to clean it, but it was still a nice little stop off.

Back home, and back to work eating. Easter meal time. Rack of Lamb anyone? Yup, that’s what I had, along with couscous, asparagus, and another tremendous desert. Seriously, these people really spoil me 🙂 Once that was done, I ducked back out to Kris’ to visit with the rest of his family, as well as check out a piece of music gear that I ended up buying off him. To cap the evening off, I ended up getting stuck in the mud at his place, and we had to set up a tow system for him to pull me out. We felt pretty manly after getting out of that mess, and I was just glad we didn’t have to call a tow truck. Hugs all around, and I was off.

Monday basically only left me with the time to pack my things, have one last big breakfast with the family, and then dad and I piled into the car for the drive to Halifax. Flight time was 1:30, and was getting me back in Ottawa around 2:15pm. Jody was nice enough to take time off her day to pick me up, which was unexpected, but certainly welcomed. We headed home, and I proceeded to do some straightening up and supper preparation, as we were hosting Andrea for supper. Yup, she actually was visiting Ottawa from Saudi Arabia the very weekend when I was out of town. Ironic, don’t you think? Well, at least we did have a great supper with her and caught up a bit on all the antics of my favourite niece and brother. The evening ended soon enough, after an impromptu skype session with dad back home.

Whew! Long post, which isn’t what I had intended, but that’ll finish things off for the Easter weekend. As you can see, action packed. Lots of training, lots of family stuff, and lots of good food. I don’t think I could have asked for a more complete weekend. Well, I suppose it would have been nice to have Jody around, as well as having more sun during my runs, but if everything was perfect,there’d be nothing left to wont for would there? Hope all your Easters were just as good (aside from poor Kevin who suffered rather tremendously I’m afraid!)

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