Shore Market in Stanhope

It’s on my list of Things to See and Do on PEI, but it bears additional highlighting: the newly-opened Shore Market in Stanhope, next to Richard’s Seafood, is that kind of place you wish were just up the street from your cottage at the beach (assuming you have a cottage at the beach, which we don’t, but regardless).

They sell Receiver Coffee (both beans and to-go; the iced coffee is fantastic), milk, fruit and vegetables, breadworks bread, meat, beach supplies, band-aids, and the kinds of sundries1 that you need when you’re out of the city. And capers: big jars of good-looking capers, for $8.35.

They also sell beer and wine, through an anachronistic “you can buy beer and wine if you show a food receipt from Richard’s next door” scheme that’s not their fault (someday PEI will fully recover from temperance, won’t it?).

It’s all wrapped up in a tiny, perfect, whitewashed wharf-shack.

So you can get head out to the shore, have your lobster burger and fries at Richard’s, then grab and iced coffee next door before you head out for more adventures.

1. It’s taken me years to take the word “sundries” seriously: up the street from my grandmother’s house in Brantford, Ontario was a corner store that had it right on the sign – “Food, Milk, Cigarettes, Sundries,” or something to that effect. I read it as “Sundaes” and nothing my grandmother could do to explain that wasn’t it could convince me otherwise.  It’s a very useful word, of course; but that shroud of doubt took a long time to burn off.

What is there to see and do on Prince Edward Island?

A couple of times a year I get an email from faraway friends or family that’s some variation of “my buddy Gregor is coming to PEI in a few weeks: what should he be sure to see and do?”

I’ve just had another one, and rather than responding privately, I’ll respond here so that others in the same pickle have a place to look (or a place to point).

The things listed below are limited selection that reflect my own particular tastes rather than being any attempt at being broad and universal (of particular note: I’ve left out a couple of places that I don’t want tourists gumming up).

These are the places I take people when they visit, the ones that are not “generic anywhere.”

Where to Eat

Charlottetown

Outside of Charlottetown

  • The Pearl – quite possibly the best place to eat on the Island; dear, but worth it
  • Landmark Café – another contender for “the best place”
  • PEI Preserve Company – unsweetened iced tea; raspberry pie
  • Richard’s Fresh Seafood – fresh fish, stone’s throw from the beach in Stanhope; tell the National Park attendant “we’re going to Richard’s” and you won’t have to pay park fee
  • The Fifth Ingredient – a French bakery in the (relative) wilderness; excellent bread, but also pizza and sandwiches and smoothies of note
  • Sheltered Harbour Café – never had a bad meal here; my go-to place in Souris
  • Blue Mussel Café – fresh fish; no fries; stellar location; friendly staff

Where to Drink Coffee

Charlottetown

Outside of Charlottetown

  • Samuels Coffee House – unexpected gem in Summerside; even after the “good coffee… in Summerside?” surprise wears off, the coffee is still good, the space is nice and the folks are friendly
  • Shore Market – ice coffee & capers; near the beach; amazing; beside Richard’s in Stanhope (see above)
  • Island Chocolates – Factory Coffee = coffee + chocolate; in Victoria-by-the-Sea near the Landmark (see above)

Where to Beach

  • Blooming Point – a spectacular semi-officially-recognized beach with no facilities other than parking
  • Stanhope – inside PEI National Park; most remarkable for easy access to good food and coffee (see above)
  • Argyle Shore Provincial Park – a nice place to picnic; water is shallow and calm and warm
  • Canoe Cove Beach – another warm, shallow south-shore beach
  • Sally’s Beach – not north shore, not south shore; not near anything; one of my favourites
  • Tea Hill Park – an unremarkable beach with lots of mosquitos; but it’s very close to Charlottetown

What to See and Do

Charlottetown

  • City Cinema – an “art house” cinema in downtown Charlottetown. Tiny, friendly and air conditioned with an eclectic program.
  • Confederation Centre Art Gallery – austere, air conditioned, quiet space right downtown; a good place to get away from the crazy tourism-drenched streets on busy days

Outside of Charlottetown

  • Yankee Hill Pioneer Cemetery – the most beautiful cemetery you will ever visit
  • MacAusland’s Woollen Mills – worth the drive up west: the most interesting factory you’ll ever visit; you will leave having purchased a blank, I promise
  • McKenna Road – one of the Island’s “heritage roads”; best avoided after a rain; drive along a clay road under a canopy of trees; spectacular
  • Brackley Drive-in Theatre – the Island’s only drive-in; in the woods (so bring repellent) near the shore; we go at least once a summer
  • Gardens of Hope – walking trails through forest and gardens along the river; beside the PEI Preseve Company (see above); excellent if you need a calm oasis
  • Dunes Studio Gallery – most interesting for the architecture and the views; be sure to visit the gardens behind
  • Trailside Café and Inn – it’s a café and an inn, yes, but most notably it’s a tiny perfect music venue; you will not be disappointed if you see a show here (and do go early and have supper before; you’ll get a good seat and a good meal)
  • Kingfisher Outdoors – kayaking for non-kayakers: they have the kayaks, paddles and life-jackets, they drive you up the Morell River and put you in, you lazily drift/paddle down-river for two hours
  • PEI National Park at Greenwich – hiking for non-hikers: the walk from the parking lot, through the woods, over the boardwalk through the marsh and out on to beach will take you breath away; it’s my favourite walk on the Island
  • Belfast Mini Mills – most interesting to the fibre-loving tourist, but I love the simple pluck of the enterprise

Red Rocket Pi

A couple of years ago I bought canister of Red Rocket-brand breakfast tea at Sobey’s. I knew nothing about the brand, or the tea; I was 100% driven by the sharp-looking aluminum canister and its potential for becoming a box for some yet-to-be-determined electronics project.

The tea finally got finished up earlier this year – we’re not big breakfast tea drinkers, as it turns out – and I brought the box to the office.

Today was the day that the yet-to-be-determined project got determined: I’m putting together another electricity and water meter reader for a new location, and I needed something to hold the Raspberry Pi and the breakout board that go together to make it all happen.

And so, behold the Red Rocket Pi:

Red Rocket Pi

Red Rocket Pi

Inside a Hard Drive

I’ve been using hard disk drives for more than 30 years. It was only today, during preparation of a load of e-waste that included an old iMac, that I opened one up and looked inside it for the first time. It’s a Maxtor, from 2002.

Inside a Maxtor Hard Drive

Inside a Maxtor Hard Drive

Inside a Maxtor Hard Drive

The Island Good Bread Explosion Reaches Cape Traverse

Thanks to Laura Chapin, who mentioned it on Facebook, Oliver and I headed to Cape Traverse for lunch at The Fifth Ingredient this at.

Part of what might be called the “Island Good Bread Explosion,” a miraculous happenstance of bakeries that’s transformed the quality of bread available on this Island, this French-style bakery offers all manner of bread, pastry, pizza and sandwiches.

Oliver and I each had a tomato and cheese sandwich on a croissant, and it was top-flight, especially when eaten in their front yard, overlooking the beach.

In the summer – Father’s Day to Labour Day – they’re open Monday to Wednesday from 3:00 p. m. to 7:00 p. m. and Thursday to Sunday from 9:00 a. m. to 7:00 p. m., meaning that it’s possible to make a Sunday afternoon of it: drive out to Cape Traverse, pick up some sandwiches, head to the beach, and perhaps pick up some pizza on the way home. Just look up the tide to find the best Sunday for your particular taste in beach.

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Well, that was a horrible mistake…

What was I thinking updating my avatar to one that made me look like a foreboding, drunken, bruised, giant-nosed weirdo?

I have recanted, and removed most traces thereof, replacing it with a variation of the same photo by Alper Çuğun from 2009 that I sliced and diced two years ago.

So what was once this:

Old Avatar

is now this:

The New Avatar

Same image. Just revealing more of myself.

Maybe that’s a better metaphor than “here, let me stick my nose in your face,” no?

Ultra Selfie Avatar

Oliver and I were having coffee this afternoon and I took this photo just to see how it would look if I held it up to my face:

Me on Me

Cropped into a square and filtered through Instagram, the photo ended up like this:

New Avatar

And, as I hadn’t updated my personal avatar since 2013, I decided to try it on for size:

New Avatar on Twitter.com

I’m not entirely sold on it. Which is, I think, a good reason to leave it in place and see if it grows on me (and, I suppose, on y’all).

Autism acceptance means…

It’s Autistic Pride Day today, a day that, Wikipedia tells us, is “is a celebration of the neurodiversity of people on the autism spectrum.” I know this because Oliver, who’s the person in our family who’s on top of what-day-is-what, told me so.

My favourite explanation of what this day might mean comes from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and its poster “Why Acceptance?” that reads, in part:

What is autism acceptance? Autism acceptance means embracing and valuing autistic people as autistic people instead of being afraid of us, having low expectations, or trying to find a way to make us not autistic.

and then continues:

Acceptance is not passive. Acceptance is an action. Acceptance means doing everything you can so that your autistic child will grow up into the best autistic adult they can be, supporting your autistic friends in a world that is not designed for us, and working to make our world a better, more inclusive, safer place for autistic people of all ages and abilities.

It is, in other words, not a day for me to mark how proud I am of my autistic son (although I am enormously proud, every day, of the man he is becoming), it is a day for us all to celebrate the pride that Oliver takes in being who Oliver is.

If I could snap my fingers and change the world, I wouldn’t change a single thing about Oliver: he is a funny, creative, perceptive, compassionate, person who I love dearly.

My job, as his father, is to ensure, to the extent that I can, that the world – the world that is, in many ways, not designed for him – greets Oliver on his terms.

Grand Pré

We were in Nova Scotia for a long weekend, and on the spur of the moment Sunday decided to drive up the Valley toward Wolfville, an area of the province we hadn’t been to, as a family, in more than 15 years ago.

When we saw the sign on the highway pointing to “Coffee Museum” at the Grand Pré exit, I quickly signaled to exit, and 10 seconds later we were pulling into the driveway of the Just Us! café, retail store, roastery and coffee/fair trade museum. It’s an impressive operation and the museum in particular is of note for it covers not only the world of coffee, but the worlds of fair trade coffee and of cooperative enterprises (like Just Us!). Plus, they make an excellent cup of coffee.

As we’d left the highway anyway, I cast about for other things to see and do in Grand Pré, and the nearby National Historic Site because our next destination.

This too is an impressive destination: a well-done film and exhibit on the history of the expulsion of the Acadians all set in one of the most scenic areas of the country I’ve ever come across. Here’s a picture I casually snapped with my phone while walked back from the blacksmith shop on the edge of the site, looking over the rich farmland of the area, all reclaimed from the sea by Acadians more than 250 years ago:

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We finished up the visit to the Valley with a jaunt into Wolfville for lunch at The Library Pub and a shop next door at The Box of Delights. Save for a brief oh-my-we’re-almost-out-of-gasoline panic on the other side of Windsor, it was an entirely pleasant day, and we’ve lots of reasons to go back before another 15 years passes.

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