Category Archives: Stories from the East-side

I wish I could do more about the stench of crude oil but it may take the efforts of the next generation

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As I laid awake again for another night of clanks, bangs and grinding steel, metal and horns I wondered when it would happen. I wondered when the explosion would occur and I would be running beside Chris carrying Willow amidst an inferno so grotesque that there’d be no use of even trying as we wouldn’t survive the explosions to begin with. We’d likely be incinerated and scientists would be identifying us through use of dental records.

I spoke with Chris about my fears this morning. He carries the same ones. We live somewhere where the trains carrying toxic crude oil and natural gas outnumber humans five to one. And we live 500 meters from the end of the line where all the tanks are unloaded of their black liquid gold which is then pumped to the Irving Oil Refinery a few kilometres away for refining.

Neither one of us would have purchased homes back in the old neighbourhood that we grew up in had we known there were going to be HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of freight trains unloading there oil in our backyard for Irving to refine.

The stench is more than we can bare at times. It permeates our home and makes it impossible to breath outside or open your windows when the wind is calm and humidity high. Old women and children plug their noses on public transit buses as they near the intersection of Bayside Drive and the Courtenay Bay Causeway and it sickens me that I need to pull the buzzer and step off in the thick of it. The smell has been so bad on occasion that I thought there was an oil leak in my home. I have dashed down and into the basement to check the tank for cracks on more than one occasion. How ironic that my home is heated with oil and that it is some of the most expensive oil to buy in Canada even though it is refined right here in my backyard.

I feel angry and cheated out of the peace and quiet that used to pervade this neighbourhood. The noise pollution level has risen to the point that we rarely sleep through the night anymore. And what is this doing to our six month old daughter.

I’d like the end of the line to be moved or for Irving to buy my home and my boyfriends home so we can relocate at a minimum 2KM away from the end of the line if it’s to be here permanently. I’d like the refinery shut down and converted to windmills but that’s akin to wishing the Pacific ocean clean of plastic debris. These things will not happen in my lifetime.

There are people who tell me to shut up and not say anything because if I want to sell my house I better be quiet about it. WHY be quiet about it… This is everywhere. You.can.not.escape.it. This industry dominates the skyline of of the City of Saint John.

I tire of living in fear, on a constant alert that an all out oil apocalypse is going to happen and no amount of new overpasses and evacuation routes will save my family and I, living here, at the end of the line.

If the Plutocracy can spend billions on retrofitting DOT-111 tanks they can certainly move the end of the line to the refinery or purchase the neighborhood so we can all move. We were duped into thinking a park would be where the terminal is.

They say things happen in three’s. Lac Magentic, Plasterock… The end of the line?

Photo Credit – (Selfie) My daughter Willow and

I see dead birds

I don’t see dead people but I’ve certainly been seeing my share of dead birds lately. This latest pigeon was bludgeoned in the Woodlawn Schoolyard off Westmorland Road this past Sunday evening on April 29th.

At first I thought it was just a bunch of feathers strewn across the green but upon closer inspection the carcass was fresh and dripping with blood. My co-walker and myself were certainly grossed out as I kneeled to get a closer look.

I think the stray cats or hawks or eagles in the neighborhood are attacking!

On a brighter note… the grass is certainly growing green on this side these days!

Walking the railway… down by the bay

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Before the rains came over this last week and began turning most everything green we set out in the mid-evening crossing Bayside Drive and entered into the mouth of the Marsh Creek area where it meets the Bay of Fundy on foot along the railway tracks. We walked along and then down to the shore on the North side of the Courtenay Bay Causeway during low-tide.

A herd of deer that live down here, however, all we caught were their white bums skipping away from us as we approached them. They moved away too fast for me to capture them on film.

There is a copious amount of plastic debris washing up on the shore from the ocean… including the little pink pig, syringes, plastic bags, bottles and thousands upon thousands of tampon applicators. Use a menstral cup already women.

Before the Courtenay Bay Causeway was built this area was home to the largest shipbuilding operation in Eastern Canada and remnants of that bygone era remain here to this day. This area was a tidal ocean front beach where even my Dad used to play when he was a kid.

Even with the plastics dotting the grassy marsh it’s still pristine and relatively untouched by human hands.

blue sky, saint john, nb, canada, trees, thorns, beautiful, courtenay bay

When you look West you can see the beginning of Uptown Saint John (Central City) and the South End Peninsula.

During the next few years an amazing restoration will be taking place… The Marsh Creek area is being restored, cleaned up and made fit for human consumption again. Bike and walking trails with elevated decks and lookouts will be added.

Many different species of birds and wildlife call this area home including this decapitated seagull.

At sunset we began making our way back East.

And at dusk we walked back into the hood.

My hood - courtenay bay area of east saint john - ward 3

Walking on the East Side of Saint John, NB in Early Springtime

Growing up, we all walked everywhere, biked or rode the bus to get from point A to B. We were all in shape.

irving oil refinery

Recently, I’ve begun walking and hiking through the back fields, railroad tracks and forgotten lands, that I used to travel through when young, with a wonderful person who enjoys walking them as much as I do.

fog rolling in

These are some photo’s from our latest trek. You can see the largest oil refinery in Canada in the distance while the fog rolls in from the Courtenay Bay.

If you are unfamiliar with the Courtenay Bay Area of East Saint John, it is home to homes that were built shortly after WWI and WWII. This place is nestled in between a few major thoroughfares, is located on the best bus route in the city and is genrally a very safe area to live in for both young and old alike.

100 years of smashed liquor bottles

irving pipeline east saint john

This area is five minutes by bus or car to Uptown or 25 minutes walking. It is surrounded by industry, sea water, fields and rolling hills.

irving oil trains east saint john

Anyhow, I love this area… even when the fog rolls in and blankets out the sun and you can’t see across the street anymore.

All Original Illustrations are 50% Off in my art shop right now. Prices are already reduced in the originals section. Decorate your home with one-of-a-kind whimsical art today!

Finding passion without becoming addicted or why six years on it’s not any easier

2012 calendar desktop monsters handmade aliens pretty whimsical etsy

I wrote this blog post earlier this year in May but hadn’t published it. This seems to be a common occurrence as I write a lot but don’t publish them. And with 95 blog post drafts sitting anxiously I thought well, now is the time to edit and publish. Anyhow, I recently celebrated six years sobriety of off hard drugs on August 26th so while perusing the drafts I re-read this one and thought it appropriate to share with you.

For the last six years I’ve been searching for something that doesn’t exist. A something that perhaps exists in everyday life but doesn’t exist in the nether regions of one’s psyche. One can never return to the past nor can they return to the future.

While I may think of chemical drugs almost everyday I know that if I consume them it would spell the death of me as I’d fall so far down the rabbit hole that I would not return as the drug means more to me than life itself and more than everyone and everything else in this world. I knew this, and understood this, when cleaning up from addiction in 2005.

And I miss the freedom of living in a larger urban center and of being free to not wear a bra and being free to not look like the rest of the population surrounding me. While it seems tuff at times to live in a small town… yes, Saint John is a small town even though it is officially declared a city… it is still a small town by modern standards; and a very conservative small town at that. And to see fashions that were in style in Vancouver in 2007 rearing there head here right now is mind boggling as it’s nuts to think that it takes four to five years for fashions to make their way from West to East.

I was talking with my cousin a few days ago who is four years older than I. We are both relatively single and do not have children. We are also both self employed and creative although her creativity is a hobby while mine is my main source of income.

I can remember at age 12 or 13 visiting with her and her showing me the many drawings that she drew and being inspired by them. I don’t know if you know that Rochelle. But I’ll never forget the amazing ink drawings you rendered as a teenager and how you told me to keep drawing even when I didn’t feel like it while we stood in your bedroom. I’m fortunate to have had people in my life who inspired me creatively at a very early and tender age.

As I near middle age now, I wonder if this is how it’s supposed to be. While I don’t enjoy being single, I do long for savageness and wild abandon. I miss it to be honest. I feel repressed here in Saint John and while I have sex on very rare occasions, I do miss the damn connection that comes when you finally meet the right person. I’m sick and tired of dating. And this isn’t to say that I’m looking to lay just anybody. I’m not addicted to sex but I am human and I hunger for physical contact but MUCH more than that I want a life long commitment with someone.

I may never have children and that is not okay. So six years on it’s not any easier. And that is the truth people about addiction. It never goes away, but you can use it to your advantage and work with it, molding it into inspiration to continue living and striving for the life you want.

Handmade by me 2012 Desk and Wall Calendars are listed and ready to ship in the art shop now. Pictured above are the 12 months from the desk calendar.

Four vintage Smurfs and one vintage Carebear

Papa smurf, smurfette, carebear

A few weeks ago I held a small reunion of sorts in the backyard for close friends and family. Three of my long-time friends were in attendance. We all grew up on the same street thirty odd years ago and remain friends to this day. Continue reading

The DIY Deck in Pictures

My feet on the new deck!

When I purchased this home a couple of years ago the side stairs and small 3 by 3 foot landing were in pretty rough shape, but still usable. By the beginning of this Summer they were detaching from the house and were unsafe to continue using. My Dad and brother dropped by about a week ago and built this new 6 by 8 foot deck and staircase for me in one day.

This is the story in pictures… (click them for a larger image)

My Dad (John) the mason and younger brother (Stephen) the journeyman carpenter are awesome! I love you both and the new side deck rocks!

The 20 Year Reunion Part 2 – and into the night we danced

While everyone in attendance likely has a different opinion of how the St. Malachy’s High School 1991 Graduating Class 20 Year Reunion went and of what they remember, made them laugh, made them uncomfortable or even made them think twice of another person, the following is from my point of view only.

A few days before the reunion an old acquaintance that I see once or twice per year facebooked asking if I’d like to get together with a few others for supper and a drink before hand. I immediately agreed as up until then I had many horrid day dreams of walking into and having to face the reunion alone.

I showered and dawned the special $3.00 second hand dress and 10 year old sandals and waited for Lisa to pick me up. We met up with Cynthia, whom I’ve been great acquaintances with since age four and Brian whom I don’t quite remember from high school, but was impressed that he is as geeky and nerdy as I am. We met at the Ale House, a popular local restaurant and enjoyed some great food and conversation together.

My stomach had been hurting and turning for days and as we left the restaurant and began walking to The White Room, a high end licensed venue a few short blocks away, it really picked up in the knot factor. Continue reading