Best pics of Newfoundland Blizzard 2013


“Cold and wet. Nothing a cup of tea and dry socks won’t cure!”

That’s the sentiment a day after a big blizzard in St. John’s closed the city down. On Friday January, 10th, 2013, the power went out for the whole day as the winter storm with wind speeds topping 110 km/h dumped from 25 to 55 cm of snow on the Avalon. Reports say it’s the worst storm in 7 years. But around here, it’s no big deal.

And that’s why I live here. No drama, sensationalism, or fear-mongering.

“It’s winter, and we live in the middle of the Atlantic – what are you expecting?”

Here’s how to deal with a blizzard in Newfoundland.

Some people see this as an obstacle.

snowstorm in Newfoundland blocks the door.

Others see it as an opportunity.


blizzard fridge


Shouldn’t be too much longer…

(This great shot from made it onto CBC.)

newfoundland turkey cooks over tealights during a power failure


Dude, where’s my car?

(crtsy Steve Halley)

car covered by snow, Newfoundland blizzard 2013





Climb to the back door…


I listened to Frankie, and stayed indoors.


Then I ventured out Friday at about 2 pm to catch these pics.
Owly Images

Owly Images

Thanks for the photos. If I haven’t credited the photos properly, let me know.

TeD Talk: How We Wrecked The Ocean

You can’t live in Newfoundland without thinking about overfishing. In this TED video the truth about it is driven home – it’s bad news.

Coral reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson lays out the state of the ocean today: overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and ocean warming have fundamentally changed marine ecosystems and led to “the rise of slime,” and it’ll only get worse.

For example: a typical trophy fish today

sport fishing trophy fish

Sports fishing today - the day's trophy fish

VS. trophy fish in the 50s weighing an average 250-300 lbs. This is a photo taken from the same ocean, same boat, on the same dock, as the one with the tiny fish above.

Sport fishing in the 50s

Sport fishing in the 50s

What will the oceans be like in 20-50 years? It’s ridiculously scary.

Can we fix it? Yes, but not if we don’t change ourselves and our addiction to growth.

But we better – the future of life depends on it. Is anyone listening?

*Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Newfoundland Theatre Companies

Theatres in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Resource Center for the Arts Theatre

Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland
PO Box 23193, Churchill Square
St. John’s, NL, Canada A1B 4J9

Shakespeare By The Sea Festival (Saint John’s)

Wonderbolt Productions (Saint John’s)
Wonderbolt is an innovative, critically acclaimed, and unabashedly entertaining theatre troupe that draws on diverse traditions such as clowning, puppeteering, acrobatics and more…

She Said Yes!
By mail: She Said Yes!, 64 Quidi Vidi Rd, St. John’s NL, A1A 1C1
By email:
By phone: 709-739-0702

Artistic Director Lois Brown

C2C theatre
29 William St.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
A1C 2S2

Beothuck Street Players’ (Saint John’s)

First Light Productions Theatre Company (Saint John’s)
First Light Productions-Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web

Wreckhouse Theatre
Frank Barry

White Rooster
Ruth Lawrence

Rabbittown Theatre
Rabbittown Theatre Company Inc.
(709) 739-8220
106 Freshwater Road
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) A1C 2N8 CANADA

Spirit of Newfoundland Productions
6 Cathedral Street
St. John’s, NL A1C 3Y3

Phone: 709.579.3023
Toll Free: 1.877.661.3023

Theatre companies in Newfoundland

Rising Tide Theatre
Trinity Box Office – Local (709) 464-3232 Fax (709) 464-2206
Trinity Box Office – Toll Free 1-888-464-3377 1-709-464-2206
Donna Butt Artistic Director and Executive Producer
Local (709) 464-3232 (709) 464-2206
St. John’s Office Administration (709) 747-1501

Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador
Eight productions! Two plays a night! Over thirty professional Newfoundland actors, musicians, technicians, directors, writers and front of house staff are waiting to entertain you this summer …
P.O. Box 655
Corner Brook, NL
Canada    A2H 6G1
Phone (709) 639-7238
fax (709) 639-1006

Another Newfoundland Drama Company (Grand Falls-Windsor)
AND Co. was formed to give the local arts community an opportunity to take a more active part in local tourism. This would in turn create a new awareness of the rich and varied heritage of our …

Stephenville Festival Theatre

Afraid of Hiking Heights

I seem to be afraid of heights. Perhaps I haven’t phrased that correctly. I am afraid of death seems more like it. Afraid of the sure death that is to come if you trip and slip off a cliff and crack your head open on the razor sharp rocks below.

Yes. The perils of hiking have me a-feared.
It’s the second time I have walked out past the Battery to the start of one of the North Head hiking trails on Signal Hill – and the second time I said “no way,” and turned back.

Perhaps the fear comes from my over-protective mother, who so worried about my catching cold and dying (just like her 3 brothers and one sister did back in Ukraine when she was a kid ) that she insisted on over-dressing me in pants and sweaters even in the heat of summer. And when I fell and scraped a knee, mother would chastise me with her well-rehearsed script  “see what happens when you run?”

So, I learned better not to run, let alone on high cliffs.

Or maybe it’s because the paths which come terribly close to the edge of the cliff, are peppered with plenty of jutting rocks that you can trip on -  and I have a tendency to gaze at the panoramas, ignoring the trail at my feet to admire the vistas.

And then there’s the wind.

The shot above is taken just passed the entrance to the trail.  I clung to a rock and stuck my arm out to take the pic as a wave of anxiety washed over me when a thought of how easy it was to trip and go over the edge. Then a 50 year old woman breezed past me – jogging!

I dunno. I have no fear of heights in a plane, and even on amusement park rides, if I am closed in, I feel safe and secure and will give all my trust to the device, relishing the speed with abandon. But if it’s an open space or contraption and something I can fall out of,  I just don’t seem to be able to trust myself. Hmm – mental note – I think there’s something here for my therapist.

I called my friend, Andrea, from my cell phone and she told me that it does get easier the further you are along the path. The trail is well-maintained, with many sections of wooden boardwalk or steps for the steep parts. In some places there are chains built into the rocks for you to cling to. Small comfort.

She also told me she had heard of people falling or being blown over. Foreign students she recalls. Which reminded me of the news story in Toronto when a family of tourists were blown off the City Hall ramp by a freak downtown wind gust.

Obviously, tourist boards shouldn’t hire me to talk up their tourist attractions.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day yesterday, and just being out and about near the water was a joy. I bought a yum yum spice apple cake at Sappho’s Cafe on Duckworth, the new lunch spot opened up by NIFCO’s executive director and wonderbar Jean Smith, which I ate while sitting on the foundations of old bunkers still on the hill.

I had to tell myself it was a lovely spot, because in truth bunkers scare the shit out of me, and I had to pretend I wasn’t jealous as hell watching the groups of mostly women trot by fearlessly in jogging shorts for their regular after work hike and chat. But I was sure glad to be out, and have decided that I want to buy a house in The Battery for sure, because it’s just too damn charming. Did you hear that universe?

One day maybe I will walk the trail, and enjoy it. But for now, though I know I can do it, it’s just a bit too angst-ridden for me. I am a water gal, not rock gal.

“]”][ shack for sale in The Battery. Maybe with a few curtains and a paintjob? ]

[ shack for sale in The Battery. Maybe with a few curtains and a paintjob?

“]”]”][ North Head trail starts here. ]

[ North Head trail starts here.

“]”]”][ First you walk through narrow little streets inbetween the crazy cute homes. Definitely not for suburbanites ]

[ First you walk through narrow little streets in between the crazy cute homes. Definitely not for suburbanites

Bill – My First Hurricane

snapshot from the NOAA satellite taken at 5:35 NL time, Aug 22, 09

snapshot from the NOAA satellite taken at 5:35 NL time, Aug 22, 09

Living in Toronto, one doesn’t come across hurricanes. You may get thunderstorms galore, and the occasional tornado (sometimes deadly, my heart goes out to Durham, Ontario) but the ocean is way too far away for hurricanes.

But here in my new home, I am living by the sea. And the sea brings different weather patterns than the cities in the centre of the universe – er- country.

The news is all abuzz with talk about Hurricane Bill. It’s coming en route from Bermuda. It’s a big deal for the oil rigs out off the coast, as the winds mean big waves.

“The southeast coast of Newfoundland should prepare for winds exceeding 120 km/h”

Check out the images of Hurricane Bill from NOAA and The Satellite Services Division of the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) which  provides real time access to satellite data and products for the public and government. I just copied that phrase directly from their site.

Time to batten down the hatches. And check if the roof repair job holds.

By the way, it’s amazing how many idiomatic expressions come from sailing. I was once at the naval museum in Penetang, Ontario, and they gave a wonderful demo of sea life in the Victorian times, including the origins of many expressions. Battening the hatch is a naval term. It means to prepare for trouble. ‘Battening down’ was done on ships when bad weather was expected. Just so you know.

Running With the Artists

Bronze statue commemorating musicians is set on George Street, summer 2008.

Bronze statue commemorating musicians is set on George Street, summer 2008.

One of the reasons I moved to Newfoundland is because I have a strong romantic notion based on an idealized version of Paris in the twenties – one where artists run amok from salon to salon, breaking boundaries, blowing minds and spreading ideas of freedom with wild and productive abandon. I even moved to Prague during the summer of ’95 looking for it, as the rumour was at the time that it was the Paris of the twenties.

It wasn’t. I didn’t find what I was looking for in Prague, namely great or at least heartfelt art (exception here for the Misery Loves Company which produced an astounding clown theatre piece,) but I did find it here in St. John’s.

I love the arts scene. I have been told my many that there are more artists living in te A1x xxx area code then anywhere else in Canada. I have heard it said that everyone and their uncle is in a band in St. John’s. I have run with the filmmakers, theatre artists, clowns and painters – all at once because they run together – not fractured or splintered or divided. And that’s the way I like it.

On a feminist note, I have seen girls running down water street with guitars slung on their back in place of $10,000 designer bags, and it makes my heart swell. Go sing it loud!

Today an article in the Globe and Mail talks about the burgeoning music scene here in St. John’s,

With Hey Rosetta! nominated for the national award, St. John’s may be on its way to becoming Canada’s next indie rock capital.

Not only is St. John’s abounding with artists, it has the highest percentage of arts appreciators too. The audiences love the music. The performers can’t help but pick up on the love and send it right back out to the crowd. The result is electrifying.

Jud Haynes, formerly of Wintersleep, has moved back home and formed, a booking company responsible for bringing in some wonderful bands to play.

“Almost every band that rolls through,” Haynes says, “someone always says they could picture moving here. What’s funny is when someone does.”

Funny, that’s what I did.

The Call of the Lake

My fave place

My fave place

Some people are mountain people. Not I. I am a lake person. I love lakes. I love them especially if I can swim in them. Oceans are great too. The warm kind without jellyfish (meduses) especially. I am all about water, and the beautiful vistas they afford.

This summer I had to go back home to my favourite spot in the world – the cottage on Georgian Bay. I just had to. Dad is legally blind now after a stroke, so it’s a good way to take the parents up north, and get some summer fun in.

Here’s the way to spend a perfect summer day at the cottage – with boogie boards, and a lickety Boston Terrier. Check out the kids playing with the doggie.

I can’t wait till next year.

Just heard about Duck Pond up in Shea Heights. It’s now on the must do list.

When The Puffins Call You Must Follow

Pretty Patrick Street in St. John

Pretty Patrick Street in St. John

I got a lovely letter from some fellow Ontarians who are hearing the call of the puffins – you know the one that says “you must move out east” – and so decided to break from my round-the-clock job of creating Newfoundland’s latest great export, book trailers, to write back and post a blog post all at the same time.

Dear Patti, this is for you.

Yes, I must say when I had “the calling” to move out to Newfoundland, I was quite astounded. This is because I always thought I would end up in a big cosmopolitan city like New York or Paris (yah, I know, how unoriginal is that?)

But when I first got here to St. John’s, in Oct 2005, I was immediately enchanted. It sounds a bit airy fairy, ya-fer-sure, but wow, when your inner energy matches with the outside energy, it’s magic. Nothing less.

Before I moved out last summer, when people asked why I was moving I’d answer because Newfoundland is magical. They all nodded their head in agreement. Except for one person, but she was from Mississauga, ON, and so that says it all there.

The first week of my arrival I was down at my favourite pub, The Victory, where I am sure to always end up in a cool conversation about Noam Chomsky or some other big head, or singing in three part harmony with some brand new buddies till the wee hours of the morning, when I told one young person that I had recently moved here from Toronto because I loved it so. He nodded and said, “Newfoundland is magic,” then he kissed me on top of the head.

It was like the prophecy was sealed.

Now, not everyone will like getting kissed on top of the head by unknown youngsters half their age in the a tiny local bar where almost everyone knows your name. Some people will actually prefer the anonymity of the suburbs where all the houses look the same, with garages and driveways proudly on display, where you can gate yourself away to feel safe from the so called “others” and spend lots of time in your car driving to and fro from work, or the mall, until it’s time to come home to tend to your lawn.

But not me. I liked it. It was affectionate – and sweet.

I also like it when storekeepers or cashiers half my age call me darling -and even dear. I like it lots, and it it still shocks or “wakes me up” each time I hear it. I did not grow up this way. I was a gumba, or a “retard”, or just ignored. I was never a darling.

I think I missed out.

So when everyone else in the world tries to cultivate an image of “coolness” by being reserved, distant and non-committal, I’ll take the province where sweet “bon mots” are doled out liberally, and where being defensive is not a priority, and there is nothing to gain by keeping your distance.

In fact I have found the people of Newfoundland the least afraid people I have ever met.

I call it the the “Galapagos Islands of people.”

Yes, I do. In fact, I have been testing that phrase around town, just to see if someone will be offended, and true to Galapagos form, no one is.

That is because my totally unscientific research has shown that Newfoundlanders are indeed not defensive, and certainly not aggressive. My theory goes like this – just like the animals of the Galapagos islands, the residents here have no natural predators (well, not anymore) and so they need not be fearful, because noone here is “out to get them.”

In other words, it’s nice here. The people are nice. They are the least pretentious I have ever met. It’s small enough that there is still a sense of community. You aren’t just a faceless person in the crowd. And it hasn’t been ruined by capitalism. Yet.*

As a smart political journalist I met while browsing at a souvenir shop told me “Newfoundland is the only place in the world where it’s OK to be poor.”

I think that’s what he said. Or was it “no one cares that you are poor.” Hmm. Is there a difference? To some academic or literature major perhaps there is. But here, I think, nope. It all boils down to the same thing: less predators, less defensiveness, more welcoming, non-judgemental, nice and willing to lend a hand.

I have been to 4 fundraisers all ready since moving here. One most recently for Canadian Idol finalist Jennie Gear’s dad, who is ill with cancer (click here to donate.) All are wondrously attended, with people generous to a fault, donating time or prizes and buying up silent auction goods.

And so, back to them puffins.

Pat, you say you and your hubby both lost your jobs, and though people urge you to go west, your guts want to go east.

What I say is honour your guts. Always honour the guts. Guts know best.

My guts, for example, don’t hear any messages coming from the west. A few visits to Calgary, the rockies and British Columbia interior, and yah, they were right. It is not my scene.

One trip to St. John’s and it was insta-love.

But do visit first and check it out. Of course.

Check the scene/energy/spirit. Is it what you like? I traveled from Toronto to Newfoundland and back last summer in a car taking 3 weeks, exploring along the way, and it was a hoot. I found Newfoundland to have the most character. The other provinces were nice, but they can best be described as “Newfoundland lite.” They just don’t have as much spirit as NL. I am all about spirit.

Just remember that if you’s far! It takes 17 hours to get here from Halifax. Thats 4 hours to Sydney through Cape Breton single lane highways (we had summer construction and almost missed our ferry), 8 hours for the ferry, including waiting times, then a 10 hour drive from the ferry dock to St. John’s. Wait. that’s 22 hours. Who told me 17? They were definitely speeding. The ferry isn’t cheap either. It’s about $175 for one car plus 2 people.

If you decide to move, don’t think you have to do it all at once. Be creative. Maybe rent your house out furnished for a year, or let “Cousin It” stay in it for a bit taking care of the plants and Fluffy the cat until you find a place to live here. Moving is overwhelming, so if you can spread the chores out, you will have more time to make decisions, and be less stressed out. I for one figured it’s not worth taking my furniture across the country, so I gave it to family, friends, or to the cottage. Now I can start all anew. You’d be amazed at how fun that is.

Jobs – bien sur, this is important. Do check out the online job boards. The weekend Telegram has lots of ads. The paper edition has a lot more job ads than the web sit . I hear there are jobs for skilled trades and labourers in St. John’s – especially in the oil trade. Same for construction or house contractors. But it’s still a small city, so there is less variety than in Toronto, and much less in the other parts of the province.

Try the Chamber of Commerce, or metro governments to see what services they offer. Business directories and business associations may have list of companies that you can contact directly.

The housing market out east is still hot, and last year St. John’s led the country with 12% growth. That said, houses are still affordable..and often not much more than rent.

Do be careful though..there is no natural gas on the island, so heating is with oil or electricity, and oil prices for an old house can run upwards of $500 a month.

Contact other bloggers. Gary Kelly of Cornerbrook is a nice guy with a cool blog. There’s the Newfoundland blog roll too, with over 150 blogs listed.

So, would I recommend moving out East? Yah, definitely. I love it here. Absolutely. What I think is important, or care about, is here. The only thing I complain about is the weather, and come on…we complain about the weather everywhere in Canada.

Is it for everyone? Probably not. But just before I left Toronto I heard stories of other other people who split out east, and none of them regretted it. They all cited the same reason for enjoying their new adopted provinces… their quality of life improved.

You just have more time for life here. And that life is fun.

So, hope to see you soon.

*this came from a conversation I had with a smartypants saying that historically, whenever oil money comes to town, it ruins it. Oil money never improves a town never leaves it better. I haven’t done the research to back this up, but I’d say get here quick. It’s nice now, and things change.

Writing Outside At The Anchorage Cafe

Anchorage Cafe in St. John\'s, Newfoundland

You know how you have those romantic ideals about certain scenarios or adventures. Like a mini fantasy that has become stuck in your brain after seeing it on a TV ad, cheesy show, or reading about it in a book. Well, I have plenty of them.

I’ve got the one about horse-back riding  on a deserted Caribbean beach at sunset. Hunky soul mate optional.

The one where I am enjoying a glass of wine and reading a book for pleasure, leisurely, with nothing more important in the world that needs to be done, in a spotlessly clean and peaceful house.

And then there’s the writer one, where I am in a Parisian cafe, you know – one of the cafe’s that you are allowed to linger at your leisure over a strong and ridiculously overpriced cup and that attracted the likes of Sartre, Hemingway and other genius writers in the twenties and thirties. In my version I am writing a few well chosen “bon mots” in the late afternoon – genius always sleeps in you know – absentmindedly chewing on a biscuit, my concentration only broken to  give a polite nod to Gerard Depardieu, who is chainsmoking his way through a script in the corner, or to give a high five to Feist as she strolls in for a soup du jour.

Ok, so I am not in Paris, but I am in Newfoundland to write, so I finally decided to take the laptop out to a cafe here in St. John’s. You know, show it around.

After walking the downtown strip, I ended up at the new Anchorage cafe out on Water Street. I don’t know exactly why, but I think I am drawn to it because of its old house vibe, and nice natural lighting. I am nuts about the latter.

It’s not over remodelled, or too shiny, so the old house bones still show. It’s what I would call my fave kind of cozy. Not that it matters – I am sitting outside. Why? But it’s Sept 4th and the rain has stopped and I have this other thing where I have to stay outdoors as much as possible before winter – to get my fill before we get cooped up inside.

I am sitting outside on the sidewalk in a tiny aluminum bistro table, somewhat conspicuously typing on my 17 inch laptop. Tourists heading down from the Big Fairmont, Hometel and Battery hotels on the east side of the city pass me on the narrow sidewalk and stare – just a bit.

I don’t care. It’s nice outside. Which is another ideal of mine – to be able to sit outside in the afternoon, writing away on something of my own choice, rather than to sit in a downtown office under flourescent lights where the windows don’t open.

I can see the harbour water out of the corner of my left eye as I type which is too cute. The Anchorage has  wireless and so I can type directly to this blog.

i just had a pizza. Pretty cheap at $4.50. More like a toaster oven pizza where you melt the toppings over ready-made pizza crusts, so it was nothing special, but it was cheesy and crisp and and it hit the spot. The young man behind the counter laughed at the joke I made when I asked him about all the different coffees.

It was a perfect afternoon.

NB. The photo above is the from the upstairs at The Anchorage – not the outside patio where I was sitting.  I will be retreating there when the cold comes.