On Saturday I was able to make it out to Peggy's Cove for the first time (I know I'm an embarrassment to Bluenosers everywhere). I went, I saw, I had a fantastic lemon and lavender cookie. After taking in the sights, I needed to take in some food and stopped at a place called the Make and Break Restaruant. They had, hands down, the best fish and chips I have ever had. Lillian also got this crazy concoction called the Hillbilly Burger. From the plate up, it was bottom bun, 3 mozza sticks, juscy beef patty, onion rings, ranch and bbq sauce, top bun. It was amazing.
I'm back with photos from another onstage performance. This time, photos were made with the talented cast of Noir Suspicions performing at Centre Stage's dinner theatre. Noir Suspicions is the continuation of the story first presented in Murder At Café Noir which was last years dinner theatre. The show again offered plenty of opportunities for the cast to interact with the audience, much to their pleasure.
My friend Ryan is a music student at Acadia University so when he said that he was performing at a benefit concert to help raise money for The Tribe Project, I said I'd be there. Everyone there was simply fantastic. There was a lot of emotion and heart in every aspect of the show, and hopefully you can see that through the photos.
So I again had the pleasure to photograph the Fairytale Friends Princess Tea. This year every princess was on stage rehearsing to tell the story of how they got to Arendelle to visit Elsa and Anna.
So I was one of the lucky few that didn't have power on Saturday (insert sarcasm) despite the fact that there was some nice weather later in the day. We were "in the dark" until about 3 pm but Lillian and I still had some fun out in the snow. Lillian got hold of the camera as one point so there is a rare photo of me in there too.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Grafton Street Dinner Theatre's latest production, The Show Must Go On in Halifax. I had a wonderful time and really appreciate being able to go there to gain more experience. This time I was equipped with my new lens which allowed me to get clearer images and new perspectives. So far I'd have to say that this is my favourite show that I have gotten to attend. Saddly, Tyler, was not able to perform in this role the night I was there but Amanda was able to take over as an understudy. Fear not though, I'll be going back this upcoming Saturday for another round of photos. If you're looking for more information head over to the Grafton Streed Dinner Theatre website for show times and whats on the menu, but not before you have a look at the images below taken this past Friday. Lastly I'd like to give a big thank you to Amy, Amanda, Becca, Chris, Jordan, Sam, and Walter for allowing me into your home to take photos.
Hillary and I had an unusual first meeting. A few years ago, we were in the Centre Stage Theatre show Leading Ladies, a show about a couple of thespians turned con men to gain a fortune. It was back then I learned that Hillary was going to one day open her own business selling the best sandwiches and teas in the valley. One day when I was going to her house to taste test some of her creations I was overcome with a powerful sense of déjà vu. I realized that she had sold me a chair a year earlier; I did not recognize her because she had chopped off all her hair. We had a good laugh about it.
Hillary is originally a native of Alberta and she moved to Dartmouth when she was 9. Her parents are both from Newfoundland and they wanted to be closer to the coast. When she was 21 she met her now husband, Logan, and they moved to the Annapolis Valley where they have lived here ever since. As mentioned before, Hillary decided to open her panini press and tea house a number of years ago and I asked her why she wanted to open this type of business. I was initially surprised at how many factors Hillary took into consideration before opening.
From a young age, Hillary often remembers food as being a conduit through which people would show affection, which is something I can identify with both from a giving a receiving aspect. There is a particularly guilty pleasure in watching people eat your food, and a sense of euphoric validation when someone takes a bite of your creation and looks at the person across from them with the “Have you tried this yet, it’s stupid good.” face. Hillary also spoke about how the tea choices in the communities seem to have stagnated and that, especially when at a restaurant, there are only seem to be three choices, Earl Grey, Green, and Orange Pekoe. Being a tea fanatic, she wanted to open her community to more choices to which she has +20 varieties. For those of you wondering, at the time of writing this Hillary’s favourite tea is the Pink Lady Slipper, so give it a whorl the next time you’re in. Also driving her is her desire to experiment. Anyone that is familiar with Hillary’s menu knows there are some unorthodox food combinations that go exceedingly well together (I’m looking at you seasonal grilled peach and bacon panini). So, to help people overcome unconventionality, Hillary put her combinations between some buns to make it more familiar, and I must say that her plan is working.
Being a regular at Hill’s Grills, I often get to watch Hillary move around her shop and actively interact with her space and the people in it; she never stops. She always has her eye on everything she can, sometimes to her own detriment as her staff often times have to remind her to eat. She is constantly striving to make sure her patrons are happy and cared for. Hillary tells me she has always been like this which, while great for her professional career, can be exhausting mentally. Which is why she often turned (and hopefully in the future will continue to turn to) the stage.
The stage offers a break from her own mind. Now, she still has an internal thought process going a million miles per second but it’s working on her character, she creates backstories and actively finds meaning behind the small actions she does even when not the centre of a scene. It may sound exhausting to some, but for Hillary it is a break from her own world for a time; a chance to be able to step out of her own mind which can lead to new accounts of self-discovery. It is no surprise to people of the stage that we can often learn a lot about ourselves by portraying the life of another. Her favourite production was the most recent she was a part of, Grease (don’t worry Hill, I won’t hold it against you). From the direction, to her co-stars, and the music itself Hillary felt it was a good show to do before her hiatus from the stage. The musical was performed at the Quick As A Wink Theatre in Windsor and, having done the photos, it was amazing.
To wrap up the interview I asked Hillary a question I often do during these segments, “where do you see yourself in five years”? I received no answer because had you told her five years ago that she’d own and operate her own sandwich and tea shop, she wouldn’t have believed you. Hillary lives her life in “one year chunks” and that works for her. I find it particularly refreshing when comparing her life to mine because my life has always been structured around the long term, so I am now trying to incorporate a few “one year chunks” into my life as well all thanks to her.
I finally have a lens I have been waiting for for a long time and I'm very excited to use it, however, I haven't had very many willing subjects. Below are some images I have taken while using the lens, let me know if you want to be captured too.
Chocoladefrabiken Lindt & Sprüngli AG, more commonly known as Lindt, is a chocolate company based in Switerzland and has been in operation since 1845. As these older companies often start, in the beginning, it was small. In 1836 David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his son Rudolf Sprüngli-Amman purchased a small confectionary shop in the old "town" of Zürich. At the time the chocolates were sold under the name of David Sprüngli & Son where after two years they expanded adding a small factory to produce more chocolate. Following Rudolf's retirement, the business was split between his two sons David and Johann. David was the recipient of two confectionary stores and Johann got the factory.
David took the two confectionary stores he had inherited and turned them into high-end, luxury retail stores. Today they are the world renown Confiserie Sprüngli, known mostly for their "Luxemburgerli", a perfected Swiss version of the macaron. Johann, however wanted to expand the chocolate factory and even more and even converted his own private business into Chocolat Sprüngli AG in 1899. The same year, Johann, acquired a chocolate factory in Bern that belonged to Rodolphe Lindt. Rodolphe had been working in the chocolate business for over 20 years by 1899. In the mid 1870s he worked in a small chocolate shop before opening his own factory in 1979. Rodolphe was responsible for inventing and pioneering the process of conching chocolate and adding cocoa butter back into the chocolate making process. It is said in chocolate legend, that Rodolphe mistakenly left a mixer with chocolate in it overnight and, while at first was concerned with the wear and tear on the machine, noticed he had a much smoother product. Chocolate produced after chonching contains superior aromas and melting characteristics when compared to unchonched chocolate products. Before chonching, solid chocolate was not very popular due to being gritty, and was predominantly consumed as a liquid. Rodolphe's advancement in world of chocolate was considered revolutionary. After Johann and Rodolphe started working together, they changed the name of the company to - deep breath - "Aktiengesellschft Vereinigte Berner und Züricher Chocoladefrabiken Lindt & Sprüngli" or United Bern and Zurich Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate Factory Ltd. From there the company has continued to expand and become the company we all know today.
The first stop on the chocolate journey is something really special, what I consider to be the physical definition of the term "chocolate bar". Lindt (the company) released a bar using the same recipe Rodolphe trail blazed in the 1870s. At the time, it was introduced as the first "chocolate fondant" (melting chocolate) and todays bar even features packaging using the original design by Rodolphe himself. I can certainly understand why people at the time desired it considering most solid chocolate at that time would have been gritty. It's not too dark, don't let the package scare you; it comes in at a 49% cocoa content (which for some is not nearly enough) so there is a harmonious mix of sweet, tart, bitter, and pure cocoa. The chocolate is not oily in any way like some cheap chocolate you can buy. When I first picked up the bar in the store, I immediately thought "This must be what a Wonka bar from the book would feel like". At the same time, I thought there is much more than 100g of chocolate bar here, because it holds so much weight in history.
I have been working in a new lab recently. I'm working in Dr. Russell Easy's lab with a great group of eger students. It is interesting seeing how many different directions Dr. Easy takes his skillset. When I worked in a lab in the past the work I was doing was focused on a single goal, which definately contrasts the Easy Lab. I like the lab because it is a change to get out of the house, do some work, learn new skills, meet new people, and get some cool photos.
Okay... so I'm a little late on the whole "new year new me" thing but I never subscribed to that mentality. I'm much more concerned with "new year, better me". I don't want a new me, I want a better me. Going into the new year I want to better myself, not reinvent myself. So instead of making a New Years resolution, I am going to set a New Years itinerary with a list of things that I want to accomplish.
1. Read and write more
2. Make better photography content
3. Learn more Japanese
4. Continue to stay active
5. Travel around the province
And that is the activity list I want to achieve. There is a second list I am also working on which includes more introspective ideas.
1. Talk less and listen more
2. Make genuine friendships
3. Learn how to appreciate and value myself
4. Be kind and less cynical
5. Learn how to trust people
The second list is hard because it is full of things I have to work on internally and I have no idea where the end is.
"Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better.
Don't wish for less problems wish for more skills.
Don't wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom”
- Jim Rhon
The latest show to be released by The Lighthouse Theatre company is The Rink. An Alan Hume play about three men that come back together after the death of their childhood friend. Upon taking stock of the lives they lead, the three decide to invest in their old stomping grounds to bring back the town they grew up in from social and economic freefall by rejuvenating the old rink and making it the place to be. The three actors, Steven, Robert, and Alan all play exceedingly well off one another thanks to the wonderful direction of Brenda Ley in a heartwarming and believable story filled with laughs. I myself found it difficult to hold back laughter at moments when taking photos. If you happen to be anywhere near the Al Whittle theatre tonight or tomorrow afternoon, stop by, pick up your ticket, and enjoy the show. Tickets are also available at the Box of Delights bookstore in Wolfville.
So a couple months ago, I did a lot of work for my friend Mike Butler.He is one of those people you may not have heard of because he's reserved and really needs to come out of his shell. Anyway, the work involved me taking photos for the show The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. If you're unfamiliar with the show, you should do some reading the story has many different levels that it can be appreciated. As always the Wolfville Theatre Collective put on a fantastic show and I'm glad I was able to be able to capture the emotion between the cast.
I have always enjoyed living by the water. Since I was a kid I have never been more than a 20-minute drive from some coast. When I got the chance to take photos at my father's friends cottage on the bay, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a warm, sunny September day and the tide was just about to turn back toward the sea, I played in small tide pools and found a cool spot for me feet. Even now the feels like there is something reminiscent about going to the shore. Almost like being a kid again.
There is a hiking path on the south mountain in the Annapolis Valley that I have always called the old mill. Since I was a kid, I would often go there with friends and family for a fun day, a little exercise and a lot of great visuals. When I was a kid, not many people knew about the old mill and with good reason, there was no way to know it was there unless you knew what you were looking for. Back then the entrance to the trail required you to jump a street side guardrail and then you had to do your best to not fall down the hill on the other side. In recent years, however, there has been development in the area to make it more accessible to the public and to share the history. It has been named a historic park of Canada and, low and behold, it has an actual name, the McMaster Mill. As a kid, it never occurred to me what kind of mill it was or that the word mill even implied a meaning. In the past, it was a sawmill supplying wood all over the valley. At the historical website photos of what the location looked like can be seen and I find it incredible how different it looked in the past. The place is definitely worth a look if you're into hiking and waterfalls. Don't be afraid to head over to the other side of the river (via the bridge) to find more hiking trails, and if your adventurous, make your way down to the river to cool your feet. But with all things, be careful.
The Churchill trio. These women are a force of nature each in their own right, so when you get the three of them together watch out. They're like a gang, but instead of petty crime, they're plain awesome. Laura, Sharon, and Tracy have been sisters for years and when I found out about them wanting to do their annual photo shoot, I asked if I could do the photos. I was pleasantly surprised when they said yes and told me their theme, Fall of the 80s. The level of organization was awesome, each had three costumes and we used a number of different shooting locations. Have a look at the results and let the ladies know how photogenic they are.
In the past, I worked at Acadia University in the chemistry department helping to develop new anti-cancer treatments. For 5 years now, a man by the name of Joseph (Joe) Caldwell has donated money directly to the lab to assist with the research that is done there. As long as I have known him, Joe has worked at Acadia University as part of the janitorial staff and we always enjoyed when he stopped in for a chat. For more than a decade, he and his friend Shawna Hennigar, have been the main organizing forces behind the CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl, a local event created in memoriam of Shawna’s brother, and one of Joe’s close friends, Gordie Hennigar. Gordie, who passed away from cancer, is described as very unique, kind and inspiring. Joe met Gordie through music. Coming home from school one day, Joe heard music coming from a garage near one of the stops before his. After getting home and dropping his things off, he hitchhiked back to the garage to find the source of the music. After discovering the source of the music, Joe found Gordie and from there a decades long friendship started. Seeing Shawna and Joe recount memories of him brought lamenting eyes and big smiles to their faces. Gordie was also described as a people person and which showed when he would host his annual pig roast. 2004, the year of his passing, would have marked the 20th annual pig roast. “Gordie was one of those people that loved bringing everyone together,” Shawna said, “I wanted to continue the tradition he began 20 years prior to his passing. To bring together good friends, good music, and good times. To share memories from the past and to create new ones for the future.” To honor him and his philosophy, she and her sister Debbie (who travels from Alberta every year to be here) decided to make the 20th annual pig roast into the 1st annual CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl. A different gathering, now in its 14th year, designed to bring people together, and raise money to help cancer research, which is a cause Shawna is sure Gordie would have wanted.
The event, which will be held this year on October 28th at the Brooklyn Civic Centre, has many different attractions. There will be music provided by the No Name Blues Band, Under Pressure and The Basement (formerly Eddy’s Basement), and draws including a 50/50, a “Spooky Skull Juice Draw” (NSLC gift card), door prizes, along with multiple costume contests; there is a cash bar as well. Every year the event has gotten larger in size and has outgrown two previous venues over time. Joe approached our lab in 2012 about donating the proceeds to the McFarland Labs out of a sense of frustration when donating to larger organizations. Both Shawna and Joe feel more comfortable donating raised funds to the McFarland Labs stating “It’s nice to know all the money goes to the research when you know the organization”. If you would like to know more about the CANCER SUCKS! Halloween Howl you can visit the Facebook page and get into direct contact Shawna for the most up to date information.
Tracy and I danced around formal introductions for a couple years before actually speaking to one another. It was one of those situations where we know all the sample people at an event however our friends never said “Tracy, this is Marc” or vice versa. We took matters into our own hands after I attended a play called The Golf, Cheese, and Chess Society, at the Al Whittle Theatre where Tracy was performing with a number of our mutual friends. Tracy told me back then that despite the fact that she knows who I am, she for the longest time had the overwhelming urge to call me “Jeff” instead of Marc, so now Tracy is the only person that is allowed to call me “Jeff”. But enough about me, you’re here for Tracy.
Tracy has lived a life moving east to west and back again in Canada. Born in New Glasgow she moved to Berwick and lived there until she finished high school, after which, she moved to New Brunswick to pursue a career in hair design. When she finished her training, Tracy moved to Ottawa for her new job however she developed strong sensitivities to the chemicals that she needed to use in her line of work making it not an option for her in the long term. After moving back to the Annapolis Valley for a short time, she moved to Edmonton, admittedly for a boy, who later became her husband. While there she wasted no time because she enrolled herself in the University of Alberta and received her bachelor’s degree in comparative literature. One dream Tracy has is to be an adult educator. “The thought of teaching someone Jane Austin thrills my soul”. Upon finishing her first degree, Tracy and her husband moved back to the Annapolis Valley. Before truly settling down the two decided to take a trip around the world, stopping in Fiji, New Zealand, Thailand and Kenya. Tracy was particularly enamoured with Thailand stating she would live in there in an instant if she could, and there is no class that can teach you the lessons you get from world travel. When the duo returned from their escapade around the globe, Tracy’s love of theatre fully blossomed. She became more involved with numerous theatre groups in the region, going as far as creating her own theatre group with one of her closest friends, Candy O’Brien, called the Lighthouse Theatre. The two are currently working on a show written by Alan Hume, a local play write, called The Rink. While Tracy appears to be, calm, cool and collected onstage, she is actually terrified. She has over the years developed, what I call, fear derived tic-tac inhalation, where she eats an astounding number of tic-tacs during the run of a show to help calm her nerves. It is the character development and backstory formation of her character that keeps Tracy coming back to the stage. Her favourite portrayal was of Louise in Marion Bridge because playing her was such a change from who Tracy actually is. When I showed Tracy the photos of her in Marion Bridge, she said “I didn’t know what Louise looked like, I like her”. To a stage photographer, that is a huge compliment because it lets us know that we were able to capture the character. Tracy’s dream on stage is to be like the actress that played Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in Finding Neverland on Broadway, not just to play that character, but to be able to get a mid-show standing ovation for her performance. Tracy is currently working on her master’s degree in education from Mt. St. Vincent University and will be graduating this spring.
I first met Mindy through our mutual friend Susan Monro. Mindy was directing the show Jerry Finnegan’s Sister and was looking for a person to fill the role of Brian, I was approached about filling the role which I happily accepted. We learned a lot about one another and have been friends ever since. Mindy was born in Moncton, New Brunswick and lived in the region for the majority of her childhood. Being particularly gifted when it came to academia, she started university at the age of 16 and finished her degree in only 3 years; she attended Mt. Allison University (Mt.A) where she got her bachelor’s degree in science. While waiting for an acceptance into veterinary school, Mindy did a second degree at Mt.A gaining a bachelor of education to keep her options open. After being told that she was not accepted into veterinary school, Mindy was 19 and teaching her practicums. At that point, she felt more like she was teaching her peers rather than students. Around this time she was offered a research technician position at Mt.A, which is when she discovered that she loved research. Mindy worked in Dr. Ross Barclay’s lab for a couple years before deciding to pursue a master’s degree in science. It was this research that led Mindy to the career she has now, working at the Kentville Research Station for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a technician. Mindy’s group is currently working on fruit storage and storage disorders along with the composition of Nova Scotia grapes. This is a very good project to be involved in at this time due to the burgeoning wine market in Nova Scotia. When I asked Mindy about her extra curriculars, the conversation took a turn toward the lighter side of things. She is an amateur actress, she sings in her church choir group, loves to cook (and she is a fantastic cook too), often goes golfing with her husband Bruce, she is also part of numerous committees and directorial boards. Since we came to know each other through acting, I asked her why she decided to jump onstage and her answer surprised me.
Mindy told me that she is very shy, even to this day, and that she works very hard to compensate for it especially in groups. This came as a shock to me because any time I have been with Mindy she has always seemed very comfortable in a group, I’d even go as far as saying that, on occasion, she plays the life of the party. Through acting though, Mindy has been exposed to one of her favourite experiences and that is making people laugh. She likes having the ability to help people forget their problems for a few hours while she is on stage. “Making people laugh fuels my fire”. Her favourite time on stage was playing Celia in the show Calendar Girls, a show about women being brave for a good cause, and because it took Mindy a lot of personal bravery; she had to go topless on stage (covered only by Chelsea Buns). Mindy is currently involved with the show A Fine Monster You Are (will be clickable to the now playing page at the CST website) playing at Centre Stage Theatre in Kentville.
Today is the day that Hill's Grills opens and I couldn't be more excited. I'm here in the mid-morning enjoying a delicious breakfast sandwich. Watching Hillary move around the shop is a fantastic thing to see. You can tell she is in her element and that her staff is prepared. Hillary has four ladies working with her and each of them brings a warmth to the new restaurant. I'm excited to see how the shop will evolve and adapt to its environment. The color is bright and cheery, and the atmosphere is light and fun. As an added benefit there is a wide variety of assorted teas available for purchase aimed toward those that want to take a piece of the shop home. It's great watching the other customers come and go as the door is constantly opening and closing and the other thing I especially like is watching as people take the first satisfying bites of their food. I know that sounds exceptionally creepy but I want to know a persons genuine reaction to the food (people have a love/hate relationship when I try new recipes). I'm just happy to see a friend of mine finally realizing her dream, ever since I have known Hillary, she has been on a mission to open her own business. I remember when it was in its relative infancy when Hillary and I met, so to see it now makes me happy.