(Forest) Fire-Safe? Yes, it’s a thing.

I’d strongly advise my peers living in the bush to prepare for this summer’s forest fire season. CBC Radio’s The Current had an excellent, no-nonsense episode about preparing for forest fires. Lytton, B.C. has had its share of wildfires. I respect the First Nations who prepare for these extreme weather events.


It’s 2022, people. WE MUST LISTEN TO OUR NEIGHBOURS. These are transferable skills that can be used on my North Bruce Peninsula.

I want to learn more about my neighbours. Here are their websites: https://lfn.band/ and https://saugeenfirstnation.ca/ … With respect, PN.

If you’re curious about what our home COULD look like…

I watched an odd dark fantasy movie yesterday after work. Gretel & Hansel. It’s a lower budget flick with silly special effects. I was fixated on its depiction of the little house in the forest. TS might balk at its colour scheme. I liked home’s window glazing and the shade-inducing overhangs.

And the witch in the story? Yeah, well, I was rooting for her. She didn’t make it (perhaps not for the reasons that one might expect). Link to Amazon Prime. And to IMDB.

We’ve signed a construction contract

My god, we’ve signed a construction contract with Evolve Builders Inc., out of Guelph, Ontario. Last month, we finished up with the planning component of our development. As we carefully walk through the financing process with our credit union, I realise that I am about to start a very different chapter in my life. I am privileged to have TDS as my spouse. It takes a great deal of courage (and research and blood-sweat-and-tears) to get this venture off the ground.

To the users who monitor our site… and wonder where the heck the buildings are… remain patient. Keep an eye on this site and (of course) G-Maps. DEFINITELY keep an eye out for large earth-moving vehicles at our driveway (with the ridiculously-over-reflectored green farm gate [using chopped-down Hydro-1 utility poles… with little asphalt hats on them]).

My 2 requests: please respect the signage that you see on our property lines and on the driveway leading to our temporary parking lot (as Summer, 2022 progresses, either TDS or I will post updates on the blog). Don’t rocket along Lindsay Road 40 at a billion kilometres per hour (preserve the danger-noodles, eh). Sincerely, P.N. May 7, 2022.



So this is my ode to pancakes.

I like pancakes. And I make pretty good pancakes. I took the recipe from my copy of Joy of Cooking and altered it just a bit in order to make the pancakes fluffier. I’ve warmed the eggs to room temperature and separated them, then I beat the egg whites until they are not quite stiff and fold them into the batter. I find that doing this gives me a fluffier pancake.

When I was a kid, my mother made the best pancakes. They were from the Oster cookbook, which was a cookbook specifically dedicated to recipes that used the Oster blender, and they included cottage cheese and sour cream. They sound heavy, but they were light and fluffy and amazing.

I really like pancakes.

Here’s the thing, though.

If I want good pancakes, I have only two options in this city:

  1. I can make them myself, which is fine, but sometimes I like it when someone else cooks for me.
  2. I can drive all the way to the other side of the city and line up outside a popular brunch restaurant with hoards of foodies in order to spend a lot of money on something that shouldn’t really cost that much.

It’s not that I live in a food desert. On the contrary, there are several restaurants within five minutes of driving that will happily sell me pancakes. One even claims to specialize in crepes.

They do not, however, make good pancakes. They use a mix for their pancakes, which makes sense if you’re producing pancakes on a large scale for a consumer who either doesn’t know the difference or just doesn’t care about the quality of their food. So if I want good pancakes, I need to either make them myself or drive for about 45 minutes across town.

In the past few years, I’ve come to realize that many people here in Canada don’t necessarily know what good food is. I’ve been teaching a class called Theory of Knowledge for the past five or six years now, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that we all perceive the world differently. When we taste something, it is with our own unique sense perception; our senses of smell and taste, as well as our vision are all different. As a society (and perhaps on the whole) we tend to forget this. We believe that everyone must taste and smell food the same way that we do. So when I complain about something not tasting very good or having a bad mouthfeel, I realize that other people may not notice what I’m noticing. It kind of blows my mind, though.

I get a lot of teasing from my friends about it. They think it’s funny that I can taste the difference between artificial vanilla and the real thing. Or that I can tell whether someone is using vegetable fat or butter. Or even if the butter is regular Canadian 80% or European style 84%.

Maybe it’s like music.

If you have a song you really, really like by your favourite band and then you hear a muzak cover version of it in an elevator, you might be unhappy with this lesser version of something you really like. Some people, though, might not care about music enough to really process that the two versions of the song are different. Some people talk about the music they love with great passion, and they can explicate the differences between the various instruments and types of recordings, even going so far as to prefer one kind of an instrument over another.

Food is the same way. I think we understand this, up to a point. We expect people who have “discerning palates” to be wine connoisseurs or gourmet chefs. We just forget that there are lots more people than we realize who have the same sensory abilities.

So what does this mean for the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast?

It means that I will always have to make my own pancakes if I want good pancakes. It’s possible that before we move out of Toronto and up to the Bruce full time that a really good breakfast restaurant that makes pancakes from scratch will open up near us, but I’m not going to hold my breath. And I’m not going to trek all the way across the city to have someone else make pancakes for me – and charge me twice or more what they are worth because they are artisanal or some such crap.

And it means that if you come and stay with us at the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast, once we are up and running, you will always get freshly made fluffy pancakes for breakfast if that’s what’s on the menu that morning, with real maple syrup on the side.

And it’ll be worth it. Trust me.


Welcome to the Black Cat Blog!

Welcome to our Black Cat Blog!


Hello there!

Welcome to the first ever blog post of the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast, a retreat up north on the Bruce Peninsula in lovely Ontario, Canada.

This blog is going to be dedicated to the musings and workings of our soon-to-be-B-and-B. At the moment, it’s just an intention with a lot of thought and work behind it. We are the proud owners of 25 acres of rocks and trees (and water) in the part of the Bruce called Miller Lake, although we’re closer to Gillies Lake. Our property boundaries are, on two sides, the Bruce Trail: one side because it’s Lindsay Road 40, which is actually part of the trail, and the second side because the Bruce Trail Conservancy has purchased the 25 acre lot next to us.

We have a driveway and a sort-of parking spot. In winter, the snow can get up to 1.5 m or more on the driveway, because we aren’t up there all the time yet. And in the summer, I’m finding I have to weed the driveway because again, we aren’t up there to run the suckers over.

We go up when we can. We work and prep and dream and think and wonder.

We rent a lovely house about 1 km from our property so we have a place to stay while we’re getting things ready for you, our soon-to-be guests.

During the summer, we sit and watch the bats come up at night while the sun sets. We listen to the whippoorwill sing, and watch the moths flit around the flowers in the garden. The stars are amazing up there. The Bruce Peninsula isn’t just a world heritage site; it’s also a dark sky preserve. And it’s beautiful.

During the winter, the sunsets are spectacular and the snow comes down, thick and strong. Last time we were up there in January, we had probably 30 cm of snow over three days. The snowmobilers love it, as does our neighbour, who runs a dog sled when the snow is deep enough. We snowshoe around the property lines and sometimes even build a snowcat.

During the fall, the leaves turn red and gold and bright, bright orange. The bears come to the orchard behind the house to gorge on wild apples. And y’know what? Bears do, actually, shit in the woods. Shocking, I know.  (And you know the expression, “slippery as shit”? Well, Paul discovered that’s true too.)

During the spring, the asparagus comes up in our rental house’s garden and the sandhill cranes come back to lay their eggs. The hummingbirds come back from their winter homes, and we put up a feeder to watch them through the windows. Dandelions cover everything and the ostrich ferns put out fiddleheads.

So that’s our land. We are working to build our home, which will also be your home when you come and stay with us, and we hope to have it ready for you in the fall of 2024.

In the meantime, come and spend some time with us here. I will write about the things I know, like food and cooking, knitting and sewing, thinking and books and sometimes gardening too.

Paul will write about what he knows, like bushcraft and knives, woodcraft and science, diving and astronomy and sometimes gardening too.

And we will always write about black cats, because we have three lovely black beasts who are sweet and furry. Like all cat parents, we can’t help but talk about them.

So come and join us. Hang around for a bit, and see what you think. And hopefully, when our story is ready, you’ll come on up and become a part of it, too.