Category Archives: Thoughts

Wanna Work Together?

I like working around other people. I really like working with other people. Unfortunately a lot of the work I do seems to be solitary: writing emails, writing blog posts, drawing and designing. I enjoy the work I do, but I find that if I am alone, I have a hard time being disciplined, I run into roadblocks and I get restless easily. So, along with many others, I take my work out into the world. I perch with my laptop at Steve-o-reno’s or Fred and drink lattes while doing the same work I would have done at home. Despite the interruptions, chats and bustle of a cafe, I still get more work done. I feel inspired and invigorated by the world and people around me and I use my time more efficiently.

In a further effort to do work around others, I have become a member at The Hub on Barrington St. The Hub is a shared workspace where many individuals (lawyers, designers, programmers, facilitators, entrepreneurs…etc.) get together, in a beautiful space, and do their own work. Fortunately there are no cubicles, and the cross pollination of this shared place is alive and sparky. People network, share ideas, and develop partnerships. Although I am still learning the lay of the land, I feel as though I am on a honeymoon, basking in the vibrant social environment, focused and grounded in my work and ready for the next big moment.

Another social work situation in my life is The Mother Hub on Almon St. Having a new baby at home it has been very challenging to keep up with work demand on top of babe care and house hold tasks. I found myself having this conversation with mother’s all around me. “How do you get anything done?” So, inspired by The Hub, I opened my house up on Tuesday to new mother’s who need some space to get something done. People bring there babes and a lunch and the task at hand. We swap around to allow for each person to have some time to write, read, fill out forms, knit, make some calls…or even have a nap. A sense of accomplishment and support is the result.

Together and alone there is much to be done. I appreciate that my work is exponentially better when created with others and my energy is increased when inspired by the work of others. Halifax is a great place to share ideas, not only because we need a lot of great ones, but also because there is so much potential for them to be realized.


Love for Love

So it is the end of the love month and I have one last post to make.

A personal love that informs and supports all of the other areas of my life. This is for my sweet and loyal husband, best friend and partner in all things, Noel. It has been a challenging month of juggling children, working our butts off, keeping the house together and making plans. Our lives are exploding with ideas and  inspiration, diapers and distractions, tension and tenderness. While in the thick of this seeming insanity I get claustrophobic and emotional, I feel as though things will never loosen up or relax; there will never be enough time.

Where is that guy I married? We have talked about groceries, money, school drop offs and email, but we have not really seen each other. When I find my friend, all of a sudden I am back in a space where I feel like things are workable.  We can operate as a partnership and a creative force, and my energy and capacity is exponentially increased. All of a sudden we have time to talk about subtle feelings and neurotic confessions, aspirations and theory or nothing at all. We see each other.

Five years ago we were married in our little apartment on Harvey St. We vowed to love each other and support each others work in the world. To take care of our family and take care of this world in all the ways we could think of. I am amazed at the weight of that commitment and the places it has taken us. Two children and two apartments later we are right on the edge of our lives. Devoted to this place of Nova Scotia and learning all we can from other parts of the world. Experiencing an incredible wave of creativity and collaboration and working to bring it into our home and work and city on daily basis.

To my partner in all things: Sweep me off my speedy feet, woo me with wonder, romance me with radical notions and accost me with affection. Let us keep up the love through all months of the year and explore our dark and deep hearts in every moment.

Heartbreak is the new Romance

This was the title of a photo show a I did at NSCAD years ago. I felt so fed up with the myth of romance and much more connected to the reality of heartbreak. The  images I used were of a wind-up toy heart in the refrigerator. It was a visual choice more than a symbolic one really, but the images have remained meaningful to me so far. They are fully in tune with the theme this month. All about the power of vulnerability, dissolving boundaries and exploring the real love.

In my relationships with parents, friends, lovers and children, I have experienced the greatest love through heartbreak. I am not talking about the “OMG I got dumped and now have to spend Valentine’s Day ALONE!” kinda heartbreak. This is the kind where you actually feel your heart. Bloody and beating and tender and gross. Together is not better than alone because they are equally exposed and terrifying. Heartbreak that makes you wonder if you will ever feel anything else, while kind of hoping it will last forever.

Let’s take this day, this stupid day of hallmark  cards, disgusting candy and ridiculous pesticide soaked imported flowers and kick it to the curb. Make your own tradition of feeling your heart, as the magical and potent organ that it is. Wear it on the outside of your clothes and let the blood drip down into the snow as you walk down the street. Do not be embarrassed by your  show of tenderness but instead feel the dignity and power of true love. A broken heart.


Love to Share

This is a great talk. I love the concept cause I love to share. Well this is not completely and always true… but a lot of the time I like to share. My house, my food, my books, my thoughts, my children. I like to share other peoples cars, food, children power tools…  I felt so inspired by the very idea that this sort of thing is happening in such a huge way.

On a personal level sharing helps me to break out of my self indulgent patterns. If I begin thinking of how I can use the things I have to help others, I become less territorial about the things I own. I am less eager to accumulate more things, and begin to see needing help as an opportunity to reach out. I don’t see “needing help” as a deficiency, or some kind of poverty, but as the simple reality that all people are not all things, we don’t own all the things(or we shouldn’t have to!), we live together and we are interdependent. Things become a way to connect with others, and to learn to ask for help, even if that is as simple as ” Can I borrow one of your purses for my trip to Toronto?” (true story). I am realizing, more and more, that asking for help is as generous as offering help. How can we share our needs and offerings in order to uncover our own vulnerability and the wealth of our community? Share your ideas with me. I would love to hear what you know of that is happening in this vast field of sharing, collaboration and community.

Contrasting Love

Yesterday I was miserable. Today i am full of energy. I am constantly baffled by my fickle moods and emotions, swayed this way and that by the weather, my food choices, a phone call or a heap of laundry. When things feel bad I feel powerless and trapped and when they feel good I feel unstoppable and inspired. Yet I do not wish for all of the days to be “good ones”… I enjoy the energy and activity, but I cannot live in it all the time. There is something rejuvenating in those “down days”. The fog and listlessness allows for slowing down and reflection. The fresh start is that much more brilliant when preceded by a day of stale thoughts and cooped up restlessness. This morning I was out of the house first thing with Claire. Off to the grocery store and the cafe, ready to talk and walk and get things done. The sun shone, the babies cooed and cried, the groceries got bought and it felt good. Contrast is so useful to me, showing the light and dark, slow and fast, clear and foggy. I aspire to notice this love in the midst of every day.

“Good, bad, happy, sad, all thoughts vanish into emptiness like the imprint of a bird in the sky.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

For the Love of No Car

I was walking down Almon st yesterday, sending Gabe and Noel off to school and taking the Shrimpy one to the grocery. I said goodbye to the guys with”I love you”‘ and “Have a good day”, and headed down Robie towards Young. I walked along with a bright mind and a light heart. I started to think about my vow to reveal the heart of February as well as my own. What do I love? I looked around at the morning traffic, exhaust covered snowbanks, busy gas station and stressed drivers.

I LOVE not having a car. I love walking against traffic and knowing I wont have to go to the filler station, find a parking spot or pay parking tickets. I love  that I have to walk in all weather and with groceries and children. I love the sun and snow and fog and grey. I may curse the wind tunnels and the icy sidewalks in January, but I love this city because we have an intimate and raw relationship.  So I invite you cold wind, salt stains and late buses,wake me up and show me the edges of my heart.

Love is in the Air

It may look like snow to you but it looks like love to me. The heartbreaking kinda love that feels so good and so bad that you don’t even know what to do. As I walked the sparkly, snowy, silent streets of this sweet city last eve I found myself welling up with something that I cannot quite articulate. Awe of the beauty, energy from my day and heartache for the world. How could I possibly describe this in a blog post? What is it I want to share? Well there it was right in front of me- “Reserve you Valentine’s bouquet today!” on the side of Piltcher’s Flowers. It’s February and the heart shaped holiday is upon us. The oppression of a hallmark creation exaggerates our  glaring aloneness or togetherness or lust or desperation. Do we have love, want it, need it or even believe in it?

So February, I challenge you to a duel. I am ready to explore my local love, regional romances and Halifax heartbreak for a whole month. Bring on the chocolates and roses, breakup mixtapes and romantic gestures, I will in turn find the grit behind the grand and truth of our tenderness. Send me your love story @

Enjoy the cold snowflakes on your cheeks and find out what makes you love…what you love and how to give it away.

The Case. Part 2.

Second post in The Case of the Missing Councilman by Amanda Hester.

Sydney Wolfe sat chewing his lip.  Martha came over and poured him some more coffee.  He looked at his notes and thought.  Finally he left some money on the table and got up to leave.  He had a brown wool overcoat hanging by the door and a hat, the kind men wore when his father was young.  It had belonged to his grandfather and was about as old and worn as the overcoat it didn’t match.  He put both on and turned his collar up against the cold as he waited for a taxi to take him to a bar full of criminals down on the waterfront, next to the stockyard.  He rubbed his face with one hand and spit onto the sidewalk, then bummed a cigarette from one of the punk kids who hung around outside the diner and put it away in his pocket as the cab pulled up.

‘The Can’ was a dive where the liquor was cheap and the clientele disagreeable.  You went there mostly for drugs and information, nobody bothered you unless you asked them to, and the pool tables were free.   As he walked in, the bartender greeted him with a small nod and poured him a shot of bourbon. The Can didn’t serve anything but hard liquor and cheap beer, their bourbon was alright though.

“Heya Syd, been a while.  How’s tricks?”

“Good enough.  Digs around?”

“Yeah, in the back.  Don’t starts any trouble though, if you’re gonna shoot him you take it outside. Alright?”

“Yeah sure.  You know of a girl named Shields?”

“Nah. Who’s she?”

“No one. Thanks”

Leaving money on the counter he took his drink over to a shut door in a far corner, knocked a few times then went inside.

The back room was dimly lit and full of smoke.  Three tables were set up around the room where people sat drinking and playing cards.  Some of the men in the room looked up as Sydney entered, some didn’t.  Looking around, the detective found his man and headed over to the far table where he dropped some money and sat down.  He played two hands before Digs spoke to him.

“So what is it you want this time Wolfe? You still saying as I owe you something? Cuz I don’t owe you shit!”

Digs Murphy was a tall well built black man who ran drugs back and forth across the border; he had a cousin in Maine and liked to sleep with the girls who worked the Yarmouth Ferry.  Mostly he was a middle man.  He did a solid business without any ambition to better, and so he never got left outside when it rained.  Back when Detective Sergeant Sydney Wolfe didn’t drink Bourbon and still had a badge, Digs was just a young kid using his pretty voice to keep him out of prison.  These days cops and crooks alike would tell you ‘Digs don’t sing; not any more’, but that didn’t mean he didn’t still have the goods.

Word on the street was: the last time Digs had seen Wolfe he’d put two bullets in him; and that maybe the washed out detective was interested in a little pay back.  Word had also gone around that maybe Digs owed Wolfe two large for a favour he’d done him a few years back.  Either way, word on the street was wrong.  What had really happened was that Wolfe had caught some lead while covering for Digs and had won $100 dollars off of him later that night in a disputed card game.  Reality being rarely so glamorous as rumour.

Wolfe began to smoke; hardly looking at his cards, but bidding like he had.  He took the next hand before he replied.

“Yeah well, maybe you do, and maybe you don’t.  I’ll tell you what though, answer me a question, and maybe buy me a drink, and we’ll call it even.”

The black man considered this while he lost the hand.

“Well, I don’t know that I like playin cards with you gumshoe.  But yeah, okay.  Sammy! Get this guy another drink, we’re gonna go over to the corner and smoke.”

While Sammy went to get drinks the two men left their cards and went into a corner where the men in the room moved aside to let them be.  Sammy came in with their drinks and left them to it.  Wolfe smoked the black man’s cigarettes like they were his own, putting the butts in his pocket, and Digs didn’t mind.

“So whaddya want?” The young man asked, leaning against the wall and looking handsome.

“I need some information for a case.  What do you know about a girl named Sally Shields?  Been running around up-town with a Councilman, probably into drugs. . . Councilman Daniels, but you didn’t hear the name from me.”

“Yeah, maybe I’ve seen her.  Not always around here, but up town like you say.  She’s into coke and maybe something more.  Wrong name though, she’s Sally Turner, daughter of Tiny Turner, you remember, that gun runner from out in Glace Bay.  Word is she’s in Ginger’s gang and that they’ve got some big business coming into harbour from overseas, next week maybe, couldn’t say.  I don’t know about any Councilman, but it might still be her.  She’s cleaned up real nice and pretty to see ever since she got out of goal last spring.  That’s about all I know, which is why I’m tellin you any of it.  Now how about you skip off!”

Sydney Wolfe nodded and took a few more cigarettes to keep in his pocket.  He finished his drink, put on his hat, and left the bar.


The cab dropped the detective off at a small but well lit bachelor on North St.  A red cat met him at the door.  He picked it up and it purred, getting hairs on his corduroy.  Sydney sat down at a small table, poured himself a glass of scotch and spread his notes out before him; those he had taken in the diner, as well as those he had just finished writing on the cab ride home from The Can.  He smoked the cigarettes he’d taken from Digs as he looked at the pieces of paper that lay on the table.  After a while he left them as they were, to talk amongst themselves maybe sort themselves out a bit.  He took his drink over to the couch that doubled as his bed and put a record on repeat, hoping to sleep for maybe an hour or two.

He woke more than two hours later to banging at his door, and opened it on a small shifty criminal named Simon that he knew from around—the man used to be a rat back before the force and Sydney’s drinking had had their little disagreement. Wolfe didn’t like the man, never had.

“Whaddya say Syd? Long time.”  The dirty little man had shifty eyes and a nervous tick that never went away.

“Sure.  What do you want Simon?”  Wolfe kept his body in the doorway so that the man couldn’t see or get into the apartment.

“Say, you gotta drink for an ol’pal?”


“Awe common man, whaddya gotta be that way for? We go back don’t we?”

“Sure.  What do you want Simon?”

“Oh alright, suit yourself, I don’t care. Stuck up, washed out, dick. . . Digs sent me to give you this.”  The man hesitated and then handed him a folded up piece of dirty paper with writing on it.  “Digs said as you’ld at least give me a drink for my trouble.” He whined.

“Yeah well, thanks for the message.  Digs was wrong, but I’ll give you something more if you don’t hit it.” Wolfe took the piece of paper and glowered with some menace at the irritating man.

“Awe common now Syd.  Geez.  You’re gonna be sorry one of these days that you treat people so raw.”

“What, you threatening me Simon?”

“No! common Syd, nah I’m just sayin as, you catch more flies with honey an all that.  Alright, alright, I’m goin. Geezus!”  The man shuffled away quickly and grumbling; his ticks jumping all over the place.

Sydney went back over to his table and the puzzle of notes that he’d left there, to read the message from Digs.  It was written tidy and clear, it said:

Turner bird and Ginger came in a little after you left.  Had a row, real scene.  She’s not too pleased with the way things are going (however that is).  He shut her up real nice.  She left, he stuck around.  Cards and not much chatter.  I didn’t mention as you’ld been around.

You owe me two now.  Don’t forget it.

— D.

It was getting on 430-5p and Sydney figured it was about time he headed up town to the Councilman’s offices.  Putting on his overcoat and hat he went out and grabbed a cab.  It was grey and raining, it often was.

Stay tuned for next weeks post of part 3!

The Case. Part 1.

Here is the first post in a NEW series of fresh local lit. My loyal contributor Amanda Hester has written an awesome short story which will be released to you every Sunday over the next 6 weeks. The story is based in Halifax and will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Case of the Missing Councilman

By Amanda Hester


The first time Samantha Daniels met with Sydney Wolfe it was at a small diner in the West End of the city.  He was roughly 40 years old and had shaggy, greasy hair the colour of dry autumn mud; it was thinning and he pulled it back behind his ears whenever it fell into his face.  He had on a worn corduroy suit, which she would see again in subsequent meetings, and his white shirt looked slept in.

Sydney Wolfe P.I. did not immediately inspire confidence.  He was clean shaven, with sporadic patches of missed stubble.  He was lean, average height, he slouched.  His green eyes were tired and cynical, and hung heavy in his face.  As Samantha walked into the diner, she found him sitting at the bar with a half drunk cup of coffee and a half eaten turkey sandwich.  He was dumping the tobacco that remained in smoked cigarette butts onto a small piece of ‘roll your own’ paper, which early on in their conversation she would watch him roll and smoke.

“What inspired you to become a private detective?” She asked, trying to make conversation as she ordered herself a cup of coffee.

“I hate people” He answered without specific intonation, in the same voice that he ordered a piece of apple pie.

“My fee is $75 per day plus expenses, I find out you’re lying to me my fee is $100.  So don’t lie and it’ll save me time, and save you money.  You can tell me everything you got to say here, Martha’s about as dumb as she is deaf, and me, I don’t judge” He said all this in a rolling monotone, nodding at the waitress, and stopped when he had finished without giving any sense that he waited for a response, or even that he had spoken at all.  He just continued his business with the cigarette ends and finished his sandwich.  Looking up at Martha he ordered another coffee.

When Samantha began to speak he looked at her evenly with his tired eyes, listening to what she said.  His pupils remained fixed, his breathing even.  It was disconcerting for her that he showed no sign, no recognition, or awareness even, of what an attractive woman she was.  She spoke nervously at first, trying to lure him into some sympathy with her plight, but he just looked bored and began to tackle his pie.

After a while he turned to her and began to smoke.

Martha called from the back room “Oy! Syd! There’s no smoking in here.  Put that out!” He ignored her.

“So, you can cut the pretty ingénue act, I’m not buying it.  I’ll tell you later if I need any back story, you just cut to the chase and tell me what you’ve got going on.”

Samantha looked at the dirty little man, her face flush.  She sipped at her coffee and said, “Alright then”.  The man summoned Martha who poured them more coffee and they moved with it over to a booth in the corner, where the man, continuing to smoke, pulled out a dingy looking note pad with a broken wire. As Samantha spoke he wrote on it with a stubby pencil and she noticed his hands were narrow and feminine.  She wondered if he had ever been anything other than what he was now.


Samantha Daniels’ story was more or less exactly what one might expect.  The pretty daughter of a successful lawyer, she had grown up smart and arrogant, and in society.  She’d married young and married well, and soon after had grown bored with her friends, her money, her husband, and her life.  Now in her mid to late 30’s (an age she never admitted to) she struggled with ennui and a mild addiction to prescription drugs.  She had affairs, but her husband didn’t care.  He had affairs and she didn’t care.  She generally tended to dislike everyone she met, but then she generally disliked herself.  Having graduated with a degree from Yale, she was a part-time investment broker and held the chair for various women’s clubs and societies.  She was an extremely competent and composed person; she was also profoundly unhappy.

As she spoke quietly to the private detective she played unconsciously with her fingers in her lap.

“My husband, Councilman Daniels, has been having an affair with his secretary for about six months now.  While I hardly care about that, I have recently had it from a good friend that the girl in questions, a Miss Sally Shields, may have a disreputable past that, were it and the affair to get out, could significantly damage the chances for my husband’s re-election.”

“When I spoke to my husband about it a few days ago he became enraged, quite uncharacteristically so.  But then, he has been acting strangely for months now.  He has been moody and irrational.  I have encouraged him to go and see a doctor, but. . .  I especially worry about his heart.  He has been so odd lately, sometimes pale and sweating, and the next day flush and feverish.  At any rate, if he has been to see a doctor, he’s not informed me of it.  But I do know that he went, after we spoke last, to go and see that woman.  I know it because he told me that was where he was going.  I don’t know whether he went to break it off, or to carry on with her, but I know he went to see her. .  I even followed him . . . out of concern . . . he went to her one-bedroom on Charles St. . .  After I saw him go in, I left.”

“The thing of it is . . . is that this was three days ago and I have not seen or heard from him since.  I have left tentative messages with all of our friends and at his office, and as far as I can gather he has disappeared. What is strange, however, is that his secretary, Miss Shields, has been in to the office every day.  I went in yesterday and asked if she had seen him and she lied to my face that she hadn’t seen him since Monday, which is the day before I followed him to her apartment.  I asked her if she could account for his continued absence from the office and she said she could not, but that maybe he had gone out of town on business and just failed to let either of us know.”

“Is that likely, I mean, has your husband ever done anything like that in the past?” The detective asked this unobtrusively.  He watched her calmly, his head tilted slightly forward.

“No. No, that is just it, not at all.  It is not something Herald would ever do.  He is not absent minded or thoughtless.  It is all a very great mystery.  I am, indeed, beginning to become quite worried.  But you see, especially with the possibility of the Shields girl being involved, I hesitate in going to the police, because of the publicity and the questions.  It is very important that I understand better just what is going on, before I involve anyone in an official capacity.  That is why I have come to you.”

Samantha Daniels took an envelope out of her bag and handed it to the man across from her. “Here.  This is $500 and my private number, it should cover your costs to begin with, I imagine.  I’ll expect to hear from you in the next day or so.”

The man took the envelope and, folding it, put it in the inside pocket of his jacket. “Yes, thank you. That’ll be enough for me to start.  Where exactly are your husband’s offices and what was the address on Charles?”

Samantha wrote these down for him on a clean page in his dingy notebook.  After a few moments of silence she pulled her things together and made to leave.  “If that will be everything Mr Wolfe, I really need to be going.  Thank you so much for taking the case I suppose.”

He looked at her again, with those inscrutable eyes.  “Yes, of course.  One last question Mrs. Daniels, have you ever known your husband to take drugs of any kind?”

“No, of course not, it would be absolutely out of the question for him.  He has a career in public office, and he is simply not that sort of man.”

She put on her coat, smoothing the front of it, she put on her gloves. She was unruffled, composed.  Nodding farewell to the man in the worn corduroy who still sat in the booth, she calmly left the diner and hailed a cab to take her up town.


I told you you would love it! Part 2 coming next Sunday!

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

What a walk and talk I had today with my sweet friend. We talked of  wealth and lack, offering and receiving as we walked through my sunny, slushy hood. I have some fantastic friends. I guess this is the natural resource that I rely on most. Most of them were locally produced even if their parents were imported, and some of them have imported themselves and started to put down their own roots and/or grow their own babies! People are a huge part of place. We are a product of where we live, and where we live is a product of our values and efforts. I am starting to see this relationship up close as I extend out to my friends when I need help. When I need a baby holder or a writing editor, a recipe or a ride, I call on my friends and they always come through. I feel inspired to offer what I can in return and continually propagate a culture of generosity. What a wonderful way to recognize our local depth and ability to care for each other. Community building can be as simple as sharing a walk or a meal, advice or a snow shovel.