Sunset On Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, July 29

IMG_4507A beautiful sunset in a lovely little corner of the world.  Now it’s time to get inside before the mosquitoes get to work.

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Fish Cakes And Clam Chowder

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia is a beautiful little town built into a hillside.  With carefully preserved Victorian houses, a cool harbor area, and lots of little touches here and there, it’s a very picturesque spot.  (I mean that literally; after our visit there today Webner House readers should expect to endure some photos over the next day or two.)

IMG_4428This little town also is home to a great place to eat called Magnolia’s Grill.  The folks we are renting from said it’s their favorite restaurant, and I can see why.  It’s unprepossessing inside and outside, but exceptional.  I had the fish cakes and clam chowder, and it knocked my socks off.

Living in the Midwest, it’s very hard to get fresh fish.  So hard, in fact, that one of the airlines that used to fly into Columbus, America West, advertised its flights to Boston with the tag line “Because fish in the Midwest tastes like fish in the Midwest.”  Fresh fish just tastes better by several orders of magnitude.

So it was with the food at Magnolia’s Grill.  The fish cakes, made with halibut and grilled, were fresh and flaky and fabulous.  The cakes were served with a rhubarb relish chutney that was sweet and tart and went perfectly with the fish.

The clam chowder, on the other hand, was superb.  It wasn’t overly creamy as some faux chowders are.  It had a touch of milk, but mostly that fabulous clam broth, some potatoes, and dozens of clams that had just left their shells.  Fortunately, we were served bread with the meal, so I could sop up very drop of clammy deliciousness.

Kish and Russell had the key lime pie to round out the lunch, and Kish said it was the best key lime pie she’d ever had.  I passed on dessert, because I wanted to savor my food.  If I lived here, I’d eat this meal at least once a week.

The Canadian Approach To Cigarette Labels

In America, warning labels on cigarette packs are a continuing source of controversy.  Most recently, the Food and Drug Administration had to retreat from requiring cigarette manufacturers to include graphic photos on cigarette packs after an appeals court found the mandatory labels violated the First Amendment.

The FDA photos were macabre, and included pictures of a corpse, diseased lungs, and a man with a tracheotomy puffing away with smoke coming from the hole in his throat. The FDA presumably thought the disgusting images would shock people into not buying cigarettes.  In our culture, however, would the labels actually discourage anyone — or would smokers, would are already used to social exclusion and often seem to smoke to cultivate a rebel image, just try to collect all nine images?  We’ll never know.

IMG_4387In Canada, where Russell (unfortunately) bought a pack of Camels yesterday, the approach is different.  His pack included a picture of a smoker who has emphysema and now must breathe with the help of an oxygen tank, but it also .  included a loose, wallet-sized card with a message (in both French and English, of course) from a smiling woman who successfully quit.  She says quitting was hard, but she was ashamed of being a smoker and felt guilty about her habit.  The first few days were tough, she concedes, but after she made it past the initial cravings she became more proud of herself and her will to quit got stronger.

I don’t know whether smoking labels make a difference.  In America, the number of smokers has fallen, but there remains a solid core of smokers and it is popular with younger people — even after the health issues are described in brutal detail.  I wonder if the Canadian approach, with the sad photo presented side-by-side with a positive story about quitting, is more likely to produce results.

Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

IMG_4409The dock in front of our rental unit, jutting out into Mahone Bay, is a perfect place to spend a bright Sunday afternoon.  I planned on swimming, but the water is too darned frigid for my tastes.  But the sun is hot on my face, the beer is cold against my hand, the rough wood of the dock feels warm on my feet, and I can’t help but hear a familiar song in my head.

I wish Otis Redding were here to enjoy the day, too.

Don’t Mess With The Lincoln Memorial

In a world of senseless violence, ethnic wars, random kidnappings, and suicide bombings, why get angry about some green paint splashed on a statue — particularly when the paint can be cleaned and the statue returned to its former glory?

But the vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial does make me angry.  I hope they catch the twisted person who did this, and I hope they make him pay.

The Lincoln Memorial, like the rest of the National Mall, says a lot about America.  Lincoln was one of our greatest Presidents, and one of our greatest Americans, period.  His story tells a lot about this country, and his perseverance through the awful bloodshed of the Civil War does, too.  Most Americans have seen the Lincoln Memorial, on fifth grade trips to the Nation’s Capital or on family visits there, and it is an awesome temple to the American Idea — noble and grand, humbling and moving, with Lincoln’s careful words carved on the walls and his craggy, wise head looking down upon us.  We leave the Lincoln Memorial, and we feel good.

So why in the world would some idiot splash paint on Lincoln’s statue?

And while we are figuring out the answer to that question, let’s also answer this question:  how could the vandal do this and get away?  I hate to suggest even more surveillance cameras in this country, but the Lincoln Memorial needs to be protected.  Now that this pointless act has occurred, we don’t want to give terrorists any ideas.