Maritime Mary: Nature’s Art

The light has to be just so and your viewing angle must be perfect to see it. The labour of a spider, the web of entrapment is a mesmerizing piece of detail and finery that humans cannot reproduce. 

September brings this artwork to our porches, on clotheslines, attached to plants and planters and eaves. I leave them and watch the process of nature at work. 

Maritime Mary: Summer Plans

As I sit quietly with my morning coffee, sunlight is streaming through the kitchen window. It’s summer sunshine and the first full day of the season in which we place so many hopes. 

We make plans for places we’ll go, day trips we’ll take, visits we’ll make to friends and their cottages, books we’ll read, deck barbeques we’ll plan, beaches we’ll walk, hikes we’ll take….  And the list could go on. 

How much can one squeeze into one short season?  How much time will we give ourselves to be at home or at the cottage and just BE in that space, in that place, and allow ourselves to enjoy the greenery of the yard, the flowers on the deck?

So while my mental to-do list is long, it is made of similar plans that I made last year and the year previous. My season will be a success if I accomplish time, time to be, to relax at home and enjoy the greens and the breezes provided by the beautiful Bay of Fundy. 

No matter where you live, may your summer be good for you. 

Diane Krys: Wool and Welsh Cakes

Friends from different parts of my life have been wanting to try rug hooking so recently I gathered them together and hosted a Wool and Welsh cakes Sunday brunch at my house. Even my sister dug out her rusty hook and joined us along with the her friend Linda, the Welsh Cake Making Queen. I set up one buffet for good eats and another for hooks, hoops and wool. The day was a play session to see if rug hooking sparked anything for them to take further. I showed them how to pull a loop and then gave them as little direction as possible. It may sound stingy but I didn’t want to hamper any mad science impulses by filling their minds with arbitrary ideas about the “right” way to hook. Sometimes, the best way to teach something is simply to set the stage.

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I loved seeing their experiments unfold in front of me. It made me think the more proficient a person becomes at their art and craft the more they need a dose of the unbridled impulses and playfulness of newbies. I was so taken by their random patches of rug hooking the next day I started a new piece with my own random patches hoping to capture some of their precious naivete and fearlessness. Working on it has led me back to a forgotten experiment from my early days.  Funny how my friends’ baby steps brought me back to one of my own. It’s like I discovered a seed waiting for more experience to germinate and it’s already blossoming into a new direction for my work.

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Reflecting on our day also made me realize how long it’s been since I’ve rug hooked with a regular group. I really enjoyed attending a small weekly rug hooking group when I first started, however, there came a point in my journey when I needed to focus my time to work on my own. I’ve never felt the need to be part of a regular group since but suddenly the Wool and Welsh Cakes gathering has brought out a desire to keep this thing going. It feels special to have people you already love to laugh and spend time with interested in sharing a creative passion and I’m glad to be in a place where I can embrace that. I think an artistic path is ever shifting and it’s important to always keep moving towards what feeds your soul.

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I’m happy to say everyone is inspired to do more rug hooking and Wool and Welsh Cakes Part 2 is in the works. Apparently a few friends  hit a Value Village before they even made it home and there’s been a lot of mad science brewing all around since.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve been blowing up and I’m not sure who’s going to be teaching who!

Maritime Mary: Teamwork

In the words of John Donne, 

“No man is an island,

entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main…”

Almost daily we are reminded of how important it is to be part of a community, how one can thrive in a group, find purpose, yet still be singular and individual. 

All around we see effective teams working on significant projects or causes. Individual roles are given, supported by the collective group to create, to perform, to assist others. 

Here in Amherst, my church community recently suddenly lost our leader, our priest. But there is evidence all around of the strength of so many individuals and groups within the parish to keep us connected as a strong and vibrant faith family. 

Each island is  “a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

Maritime Mary: Maple

In the first day of spring my husband and daughter joined me for our annual walk into the Sugar Woods. It’s a Cumberland County thing to do.

The road was packed smoothly with snow on that chilly day and it was busy with people of all ages, families spending the day together, children, lots of stollers and  dogs too, all going in and out of the woods. Many returnees were enjoying some taffy on a stick or a maple leaf.

There are three camps along Maple Lane, two were boiling that day. The furthest one in is ‘off the grid’ and features an old homemade waterwheel. The ice formations around it were pretty interesting.

We bought treats at each camp as their products differ in darkness. I am told that it has to do with altitude and the sun. Nonetheless, all are yummy.

So again this year, we have Cumberland County maple syrup right out of the woods,  to marinate our salmon, add to dressings and baked beans, to top our pancakes, and yes, to sweeten our lives.

Maritime Mary: Hands

Hands

Busy hands,

Many hands 

Working together

Making light work

And work light. 

Hands creating,

Making meals,

Making music,

Fostering a home, 

Stitching a quilt, 

Working a garden,

Knitting for others,

Hooking for fun,

For relaxation therapy. 

Hands are for helping,

Motto for school,

For life. 

Hands of the elderly

Teaching hands of the young,

All working to build,

To create, to produce

For others. 

Happy hands. 

Hands

   
   

Diane Krys: It’s a Wrap

I was chilly one night watching tv so I decided to knit myself a wrap. Something I had seen in my travels came to mind. It was basically a long rectangle of ribbing which doesn’t sound like much but it was deceptively luxurious when I flung it around my shoulders. It was so soft and it draped beautifully. The ribbing gave it a surprising springiness that made it feel even cosier. How hard could it be to come up with my own ribbed rectangle?

In my enthusiasm I bought a load of a lovely worsted wool only to realize after a few sample rows I wanted something much finer and softer. I started swatching yarns from my stash before I bought anything else so I could play with various weights, fibres and stitch counts. I don’t think I’ve ever done more sampling, swatching and frigging around for a piece of knitting. It’s easy to forget “simple” still has a lot of variables to work out. Everything gelled with a sport weight 100% merino yarn. I went on to buy a gorgeous hand dyed blood orange colour in just that.

It’s quite a departure for me to do so much exact plotting and figuring up front. Riffing off of random is more my comfort zone. Not that I don’t put a lot of thought into my creations but my final destination is usually unknown where in this case I had a very specific outcome in mind. I think it can be enlightening to try a different path and methodology from time to time. Working up so many samples certainly gave me a very exact sense of what kind of knitted fabric various yarn weights and needle sizes will create. Once you get past that bag of wool you rushed out to buy there can be a nice swoopy learning curve to ride when things don’t go as planned.

The wrap is almost finished now. I feel a little sad in a way. It was such a treat to have skeins and skeins of that beautiful yarn running through my fingers. I loved feeling the energy in the stitches. Sometimes I pushed them together as tight as I could on my left needle so they were spring loaded for the jump across the divide to the other needle. The repetition of simple stitches was like meditation and my chant was…. knit2 purl2, knit2 purl2…. It suited the hibernation mode winter evenings put me in not to mention the extreme Netflix and Shomi viewing my husband and I indulged in while he recovered from surgery. You can’t work on anything too complicated if you’re into a good series.

My wrap is sumptuous, springy, and warm. I know because I’ve had it draped over me as it grew on the needles. Another thing I love about my  wrap is that it will keep the chill away and leave my hands free to work on a new knitting project. Winter isn’t over yet and I do have that lovely unused worsted wool beckoning me.

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If you feel inclined to cosy up with an addictive tv series, I’ve really enjoyed Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent and The Honourable Woman.

Thanks for stopping in!

 

Maritime Mary: Beautiful Work

At Deanne’s studio, we are always pleased when customers bring in their finished pieces to show us their work. Nilda dropped in a few weeks ago to let us have a peek at her work in progress and to select more perfect colours. Georgina then took a photo of her almost finished winter scene and many of you saw it posted on the studio FB page. 

I was nicely surprised when Nilda came in again last Tuesday with not just one completed project, but two. Her hand drawn winter scene is shimmery and icy with sparkly snow, but warm and cozy at the same time. The skies tell us that there may be more snow in the way. There is so much Canadian winter in this piece!

  
Her second piece really surprised me. I had seen a small image that was the inspiration, centred around a birch tree, but as you can see, it is so much more. Aren’t the colours amazing? Quite a bit of studio dyed jersey made it into this fabulous piece. 

  
Nilda, sharing your beautiful hooking made my day!  We know that your next pieces will not be shy of colour!!

Maritime Mary: Hamburger Soup

When I first heard that some of my friends had made hamburger soup, to be honest, the word ‘delicious’ did not come to mind. Now I am a convert and I enjoy making a Dutch oven full of this hearty soup, enough to share. 

This is how I  made it yesterday. 

Cook 1 1/2 pounds of loose hamburger and one cup (or more) chopped onion in a Dutch oven. When the meat is no longer pink, drain out the liquid. 

Add a few minced garlic cloves. Cook for a minute, stirring. 

Add: about two cups of both chopped celery and sliced carrots, 1 large can undrained diced tomatoes, 1 small can tomato soup, 2-3 cups beef or vegetable broth, 1/2 cup barley, a handful of dried thyme and basil, salt and pepper to taste. 

Simmer on low heat for a few hours, stirring occasionally. 

This tastes even better the next day and freezes well. 

Serve with a fluffy biscuit and enjoy while your cheeks are still tingling after a great winter walk. 

   
   

Maritime Mary: A New Day

I slept in a little, 

Woke with anticipation for 

Delicious hot coffee,

Newspaper. 

Read of weekend violence

And hardships in our world. 

Opened the drapes to a sunny day,

Siding on the house was creaking as 

The sun warmed it. 

All was bright,

Fresh, white, clean, untouched snow. 

So much beauty all around

Needing to be appreciated. 

Feeling so fortunate to live where

We can open the drapes to 

Peace. 

   
    

 

Catherine Bussiere: January third

January third
overcast, still, dormant
in the garden I have seen tracks
the kale, bearing dark green frozen leaves, has been visited
the deers and I will share

I baked a squash yesterday
and forgot the to be roasted seeds in the wood stove
they didn’t make it
burnt to a crisp
first the oven wasn’t hot enough
that’s when you forget

we were gone new years eve and day
our cats fared well
camping in the studio
with blankets and food
they were especially cuddly when we came back
it’s good to part every now and then
makes you appreciate

the idea of resolution is floating in my head
when is that suppose to happen
like I should stop drinking coffee first thing in the morning
says I as I am sipping my coffee
but I wanted it so much
I must need it

I did go for a walk first thing
I can do that

there will be lists
these are things I’d like to get done this year
like: get rid of stuff, organize, purge, delete, make room
there will also be: visit, call, connect, take time
and: work, what’s my next move
but that’s not a resolution
maybe the resolution is how will I approach it
it being anything and everything
open mind, open heart, care
that’s sounds pretty good

the fire is roaring in the wood stove
I love that sound
it has heat and hot water and potential of baked goods
I’ll give you a wonderful news
the days are getting longer

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Maritime Mary: Assessing 2015

2015,

How did we do?

Were we kind enough, 

Generous in thought and deed?

Did we pause enough

To reflect on what we’ve been given,

The comforts in our lives?

Were we sufficiently appreciative?

Did we treat our bodies with respect,

Moving them enough and honouring 

Them with healthy choices?

Did we drawn enough deep fresh air breaths,

Enjoying clear skies, picturesque clouds,

Fresh snowflakes,

Cooling breezes,

And even raindrops on our faces?

Did we smile enough,

Speak to strangers, 

Assist  those in need,

Hold babies?

2015, were we grateful enough

For our family people, 

Our friends, 

Our pets,

Our jobs?

Did we take the time to slow down, 

Even for a few moments each day

To give thanks?

2016,

A year of unknown outcomes,

Here we come 

To do the best we can,

Once again!

   
    
 

Catherine Bussiere: December 27th

Christmas day was unusually warm this year
but then again, it’s becoming more common it seems
Christmas too was different
for one thing, we were not home
our new daughter and our son wished to host xmas in the city
her parents joined the party
we were invited to celebrate the eve at her cousin
a jolly bunch from Cape Breton, neighbors and extended family
filled a large living room
loads of food, beverages and sweets
covered counters and tables
guitars came out
several little ones ran around
danced, played
it was what one would hope for
and more
a pure delight

over the years I have been meaning more and more
to consume less and less
as far as I am concerned, I have more then I need
this year my husband and I
put our efforts in making things
preserved food for the most part
presented in a beautiful handmade wooden crate
a skillful papa they have

on Christmas eve stockings were hung
both daughters busy filling them
a role I use to take
still, I waited for them to go to bed
and added a couple things
local maple cream, homemade caramels

under the tree there were all sorts of wrapped presents
none from me
I was a tad anxious
the pressure is high this time of year
to buy and wrap something with a price tag
I was hoping the kids would not be disappointed
they are not kids anymore but still
xmas often comes with expectation
hence disappointment
a shame really

when all were sleeping the crates were put under the tree
filled with tastes of home
it felt right
it had to be

Christmas morning was lovely
fruit salad and bubbles to celebrate
presents given one by one
my daughter is a true elf
she loves to find the right thing for everyone
I felt spoiled by all of them
be it from what was wrapped
to their sheer presence and love
to have them all around me
happy and well
what else could I possibly want

the crates were presented last
and I was happy to see their excitement
they were content
what a relief

Christmas can be a struggle
and many can’t fulfill the dreams
to give or to receive
without expectation
to be content with what presents itself
like an warm afternoon
on one of the shortest days of the year

today it is snowing
my daughter is home
I will roast a chicken
Christmas is still on

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Diane Krys: Important Things

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“The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.”

Zita Cobb’s former boss

My Mum had a passion for cooking and our family Christmas dinners were something to behold. For many years after we switched the festivities to my house she still liked to cook up a storm. Mum and Dad would pretty much bring the whole Christmas dinner over in pyrex casserole dishes wrapped in towels. They would pull up in their little hatchback and we would start a relay run from their car to our kitchen. Inevitably the time came when it was too much for my Mum so my sister, husband and I planned to take on the whole shebang (with her blessing). Oh we had big ideas. We were like 3 Martha Stewarts; ambitious recipes, fancy ingredients, special kitchen gadgetry; we were pulling out all the stops.

On the morning of our inaugural dinner the Marthas popped a turkey in the oven and went on to have a grand day visiting with a few close friends and relatives that dropped by. We were all entertained by the kids opening gifts and running around fuelled by chocolate. It was good times until the moment they left and the three of us looked at each other and realized we had a whole lot more cooking to do. What were we thinking? As much as we like to make nice food, a big multi course extravaganza was not our passion or forte by a long shot, not to mention we were already tuckered out from the day’s activity. It was like we had snapped out of a spell. How bad would it be to just have turkey and a salad? We willed ourselves into motion, scrapped our fancy pants notions and pulled a few dishes together. Good thing my folks have a sense of humour.

After that fiasco I realized how much I don’t want to orchestrate pots and pans on Christmas day. What my Mum could do with grace and joy is stress and aggravation for me. I realized the most important thing for me is giving my undivided attention to the family and friends I’m sharing the day with so I can enjoy every minute with them. I embrace getting carried away with a bit of foolishness and don’t want to be reigned in by a kitchen timer calling me. And so in the spirit of keeping the most important thing the most important thing, we adopted a new dinner tradition: Christmas lasagnas. Yup, I make them ahead of time and freeze them. There’s love in every layer and I think the spirit of my Mum’s feast is there it’s just all in one course.

Even though our Christmas dinners have changed over time, the real family tradition and the most important thing all along was simply spending time together. I believe the magic of the season comes alive when we know and honour what’s important to us. Sometimes that means steering clear of a seductive rabbit hole in pursuit of a hollow Christmas fantasy world of someone else’s design. Ultimately, I think we have be true to our own joy to give joy.

On that note, I wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season and may you find a way to keep the most important thing the most important thing always!

 

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Maritime Mary: Little Christmas Bears

Many years ago when I was experiencing a difficult pregnancy, my doctor ordered bed rest but did not offer much hope that the pregnancy would continue. A fierce determination raged in my heart as I felt so connected to this baby, wanted her so much to survive. 

I followed orders, rested and kept busy by spending some time stitching six little Christmas bears that were in a kit that I had purchased a year or so earlier. Each stitch was a labour of love for my little baby. 

All went well and we had a beautiful little girl, now a cherished adult. And every Christmas I make sure that those little bears find the perfect spot to remind us of the great fortune we received. This year, they are adorning an inside wreath. 

Really, those bears are just a few pieces of now faded felt, but they are so much more. They remind me of the sanctity and beauty of life and the fortune we were bestowed. 

   
   

Catherine Bussiere: such a nice day

it’s such a nice day today
sun is shinning
it’s warm for December
maybe 6 degrees or more
little breeze

I started learning Spanish online yesterday
I thought I’d get back into that routine while drinking my morning coffee
two days in a row now
it’s exciting
I already have a base in Spanish
so it’s easy to slip back into it
I like how pronunciation varies with languages
how words are said
how they sound
how they feel when you pronounce them

yesterday was a basic review
simple words like cats and dogs and water and milk
variations of those words in a sentence
Los gatos beben leche.
The cats drink milk.

today after other lessons on food and animals
I found a bonus skill lesson option
called Flirting
How fun!
now we’re talking
some useful stuff
sentences like
Hola guapo.
Estoy enamorado de ti.
¿Puedo ofrecerte una copa?
translate as
Hey handsome.
I’m in love with you.
May I offer you a drink?

so much more fun
happy Sunday

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Sage tea is quite delicious.

Maritime Mary: White

We say, “Oh no, not yet!” when we hear of the predicted early December snowfall. We cringe, scan ahead to forecasted temperatures for the next few days and then feel optimistic that this will be a temporary condition. 

Last night at bedtime, we were in the midst of a rather steady snowfall. This morning it was over and we awoke to a winter wonderland  of white. 

It is difficult not to appreciate the beauty of fresh snow on our fields, our decks, clothes lines, trees and yes, even on our driveways. It means work but for today, white  will be my favourite colour!

   
    
 
   
  

Maritime Mary: I’ve Been Thinking

I’ve been thinking about Christmas. Yesterday I ventured up to the attic and took a few decorations downstairs. They got no further than the spare room. I just was not ready to decorate or string up some lights. 

I have also been thinking about Christmas baking and went as far as to purchase extra sugar, butter, chocolate and gumdrops. But so far, no baking has occurred. 

I have also pondered Christmas shopping. To date, much more list making than shopping has been accomplished. 

And then last night, as my Book Club was emerging into the night, we walked out into a light snowfall. It was beautiful and cold, and a wee bit inspiring. 

As I write, I am watching the sun just beginning to climb over the horizon and I see that the deck and grass do have a layer of fuzzy, airy snow. This I am sure will soon melt away but later today I may be inspired to bake or decorate or shop. Or maybe I’ll wait for the next snowfall to motivate me. 

   
 

down memory lane

I am visiting my mom this week and next
I’m lucky enough to be able to manage my work time, and work space
editing short videos enables me to work anywhere

yesterday we visited my aunt, cousin, and uncle
as a teen I use to spend time with them
my cousin and I are close in age
I rarely see them anymore especially my cousin who doesn’t live in this town
yesterday she made the trip so we could share a meal and hang out
spending time and hanging out is a lovely thing

when I was a teen I use to envy my cousin a little
because of her father’s work she had lived in various country
spoke English fluently (I didn’t at the time)
lived a life that seemed more exciting then mine
her mother, of German decent, has been one of many who inspired me to cook

yesterday we went down their memory lane
I love old photographs
we opened an album with pictures of my aunt
beautiful little blond girl
ready to start school
all dressed for communion
young women going to Barcelona with a group of friends
where she was to meet the man with whom she would share the rest of her life
my uncle
handsome one too

my uncle was full of stories
while my mother, aunt and cousin had heard most of them
he had in front of him a brand new pair of ears
I love travel stories
tell me more
“here, I’ll tell you this episode in one minute”
and there he’d go
and so went the meal
filled with several minutes that went from Barcelona, to Haiti, to Cambodia, to Madagascar, to London
we didn’t touch New-York or Vienna
but talked about the “boîte à chansons” he use to host way back when in the sixties
where all the up and coming singer songwriters of the time would perform
cool

we, the girls, had lots of girl talk while my uncle, being an uncle of a certain generation, left us to the kitchen duty
(I have to say my aunt took care of most of it)
it was so good to catch up, share stories, laugh and reminisce about the ones we loved that passed away
it was so good to spend time with them

the photo this week is one that I hadn’t seen for years
my grand father pretending to be boxing
he’s the one who means it on the left

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Maritime Mary: Our Ash Tree

Shortly after we moved into our home, so many years ago, we planted an ash tree in the backyard. It grew quickly and in summer, while in full leaf, it provides both a welcomed shade and appreciated privacy. 

The leaves of the ash tree turn slightly yellow in autumn. After a frosty night, as the sun warms the air, all of a sudden the leaves begin to fall. When our children were growing up, on sunny and cool October mornings, we would wonder if it was the day, the day for the tree to disrobe. Often it seemed to occur on a Saturday, fortunately, as we would be home to wait and watch for a sign. Many times we would watch in awe as leaf after leaf would fall to the ground. Unlike our maple trees, which drop their leaves over a period of a week or more, the ash would be bare and empty within an hour. It made a great show, our tree was telling us that it was beginning the season of hibernation. 

Today was that day. 

   
 

Catherine Bussiere: this week

this week is the buzz of the flies in my window
the sight of the first two inches of snow when I woke up one morning
the ongoing harvest punctuated by the inner sound of a clock ticking
shelling beans with friends
making a fresh pot of baked beans
working away at a short about food security
reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan
thinking about making one more batch of apple jelly
one more batch of green ketchup
embracing the season
staying warm

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Maritime Mary: Inspired

It was a sunny mid October Saturday morning. My boots crunched over colourful leaves as I made my way downtown to the bustle of the final day of our annual Fibre Arts Festival. 

At the Zonta Fair, tables were filled with exceptional goods, in a multitude of beautiful ( and yes, delicious) fibres, both a visual and a tactile delight. 

Two of our downtown churches were displaying an overwhelming number of pew draped and hung quilts, all colours and designs imaginable.

The Town Hall’s entrance was not only welcoming but displayed beautiful handwork and more quilts, modern designs this time. 

Local rug hookers filled a very large gathering area with their work. I was left in awe by their designs, their precision, their colors. I was inspired to try to hook in new ways. 

Everywhere I went, I met people, mostly ladies, in groups, happily chatting. With the love and appreciation of fibre as a common thread, conversations between strangers was easy. The air was filled with positivity, an appreciation for the talents of the hand and for the fibres that allow creativity. 

As my downtown tour was ending in Saturday, a lady I chatted with while admiring a quilt together, mentioned how much she was enjoying our little town. She said, “You must love living here.”  And I do!

 As I walked home in that sunny day, crunching newly fallen leaves, my heart was full and I was inspired. 

   
   

Maritime Mary: Nilda’s Rug

Nilda is a sweet, happy person. She is a friend of a friend and over the last few months I have had the pleasure of getting to know her. We have bonded over, among other things, hooking. She sometimes comes to the studio on my workdays in search of specific colours, usually beautifully mottled dyed pieces of wool cloth. 

Recently Nilda showed me her latest finished hooking project which was inspired by a picture taken in Africa. It will be gifted to a niece, a very lucky niece. The colours are amazing and vibrant and you can almost feel the heat in the sun and on the sand. The shadows are fantastic. Beautiful work!

We’ll be looking forward to seeing your next project Nilda!

   
 

Catherine Bussiere: 20 / 20

it seems like I’ve been wearing glasses all my life
not allll my life but from about the age of ten, glasses have been part of my features

I remember the yearly eye exam we would get at school
we’d be waiting in line for our turn to decipher series of letters on a board
as I didn’t want to wear glasses (worried by classmates potential reaction)
I would try to memorize as many letters as I could
I don’t think that worked really well

I remember once finding my brothers glasses on the bathroom counter
I closed the door, tried them on, looked out the window

I remember the leaves on the tree
finely outlined, sharp
beautiful

either I stopped memorizing or got caught with my eyes squinting
one thing was clear, I needed glasses
and I got some

the kids at school were kind
fear had nothing to do with reality

throughout the years I’ve had several kinds of glasses
I remember one particularly ugly pair I wore in high school
– my dad’s pick
they were huge plastic rim glasses of indescribable color
which I hid behind banks long enough to cover them

what I wanted was some lovely delicate rimmed round glasses
which eventually were offered to me as a birthday present
I had the John Lennon look for many years
until those too were replaced

I don’t remember ever breaking my glasses
they were my best companion
on my nose they went first thing in the morning
only to leave as I rested my head on the pillow at night

in the past few year
as I aged
came the need for bifocals
I adjusted to that
I would take my glasses off when I read at night
close to my face the words in my book were sharp

lately though I was having trouble with my camera
maybe trouble isn’t the right word
it was just difficult to find focus
find the right distance between lens and screen and eye
I figured as a photographer I should probably get my eyes fixed
this is my first lens after all
laser surgery has been around long enough
all the people I know that had the surgery done love it
time to invest, give it a shot

and so it’s done
did it last Thursday
it took no time
a quick cut of the cornea
some laser reshaping
flip that flap back
next
out

girl you got 20 / 20

how is it?
you happy?

I have to say yes
how couldn’t I
yet I’m not like “wow, amazing”
I’m like “what happened to my super near clear vision”
I want it all
I knew I wouldn’t get it all but still
didn’t quite realize I’d loose that

in some ways I’ve had clear vision most of my life
glasses helping of course
and obviously I will still need glasses
except now it’s when I read

but really how is it?
20 / 20 right now
I’ll tell you
I’ve traded cinematic for HD
I am a romantic
so I’m getting use to HD

 

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Catherine Bussiere: veggie chicken pie

first days of autumn
no killer frost yet
it seems like the seasons are shifting

as I head to the garden I wonder
what could I make today
the garden is still full of goodness
kale, abundant as ever
broccoli gone into florets
onion’s harvested but leeks still thriving
best carrot crop in a while
few potatoes
thin celery

I have a little bit of cooked chicken left over in the fridge
to celebrate this first wonderfully warm day of autumn I will make a veggie pie
and throw in that bit of chicken

Veggie Chicken Pie

I used

3 small leeks (or 1 good onion)
4 large carrots
3 medium potatoes
a bunch of kale
a bunch of broccoli florets
4 small branch of celery (or one large)
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken cubed
olive oil

Chop all veggies to your liking.
In a large skillet sauté the leeks and carrots in oil. Let it caramelize a little.
Add celery and potatoes. Cover and cook until the potatoes are almost done.
Add broccoli and kale. Cover and simmer until all veggies are tender.

Add sauce to the veggie mix. Add chicken. Taste. Make seasoning adjustment.
Drop spoonful of biscuit dough to cover the top.
Bake at 375ºF, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until biscuits are cooked.

Serve with your favourite preserve.
I love it with pickled beets.

For the sauce
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of broth (or milk)
thyme, sage, salt, pepper

In a medium size pot melt butter and add flour. Cook until slightly golden. Add broth. Mix mix with a whisk for you don’t want lumps. Add seasoning. Add more broth (or milk) if too thick.

For the biscuit
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup milk

In a medium size bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add milk. Mix just enough so it makes a dough.

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Maritime Mary: September Again

Late summer sunshine is enjoyed

As evening air cools,

Spent garden plants are pulled out

While tomatoes ripen on the vine. 

Carrots taste like they are meant to, sweet with a soft crunch. 

It’s time to attend hockey and football games

But miss some to follow and cheer for the Blue Jays. 

Dusk comes earlier 

And the sedum flowers 

“It’s great weather for sleeping,” we say. 

   
   

Catherine Bussiere: veggie burger

I have been experimenting with veggie burgers lately
and, I have been juicing

I have loads of carrots, beets, and our apple trees are bountiful
good time to use a juicer
sometime the juicer feels a little over the top
really, couldn’t I just chew a little
but to drink fresh juice from the garden feels quite regal
so why not

I decided to make the most of it
and aside from drinking the most delicious juice
I would use the pulp left behind
here is this week’s recipe
healthy, nutritious, and tasty

Veggie burgers with quinoa

for a dozen large burger you may use

6 cups of shredded veggies (kale, carrots, beets, celery, onion, use what you have)
1 cup of quinoa (to be cooked)
400 gr of grated cheese (I like cheddar)
3 large eggs (I always get them from a local farm now)
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup oats
2 Tsp hemp seeds, or sesame seeds or, again, whatever you have kicking around
4 Tsp za’atar (a delightful Middle Eastern mix of oregano, thyme, savory and sesame seeds)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Rinse the quinoa. Bring 1 1/2 cup of water to boil. You may add a little salt or miso to your water for flavor. Add the quinoa. Simmer for 12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Let it sit for another 5 minutes.

Chop, grate, shred your chosen veggies. If you have been using a juicer and don’t know what to do with all that beautiful pulp, here is a good place to use it.

In a large bowl place all ingredients. Mix, mix, mix with your hands. Best tool ever.
Form patties and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet. If you don’t have parchment paper just oil the pan. Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until slightly brown and crispy.

Eat in a bun with garnish or with a side salad.
My favorite this week is a kale salad with one of those burger diced on it.
Tastes good, feels good!

ps. replace za’atar with your favorite herb, I used basil last week and it was delicious
pps. can’t eat them all, freeze them for later

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Catherine Bussiere: Mexican inspired breakfast

I had the delight to hang out at a CSA drop off this week in Amherst
turns out it’s my nephew and family who do all the hard work
they offer fresh organic vegetables
it was plain beautiful to see customers drop by with bags
excited with the weekly produce
asking how’s Oliver (the red headed little one)
as Oliver was happily busy filling and handing bags of cherry tomatoes

this morning I was wondering two thing:
what to eat
what the blog recipe should be

why not combine?

here is a Mexican inspired breakfast
it involves lot’s of what was offered at the CSA this week
swiss chard, tomatoes, onions, corn
I had fresh coriander seeds kicking around
and a cute little hot pepper in the green house
so I added them to my recipe
as always recipes are to inspire
use what you have

Mexican inspired breakfast

you may use

1 fresh onion
1 corn
2 medium size tomatoes (more if they are invading your counter)
a small bunch of swiss chard (or kale or beet greens…)
1 small hot pepper (if you like it hot)
4 eggs
2 tsp fresh coriander seed (or 1 Tbs fresh coriander leaves chopped)
salt and pepper
olive oil
2 tortillas

Chop, then sauté the onion in a pan with some olive oil. Caramelize at medium heat. Add corn off the cob. You may add the chopped hot pepper if you wish. Add tomatoes and chard. Cover the pan and simmer until tender. Season with salt and spices. Crack eggs and cover to poach. While they poach; heat a couple tortillas in a pan.

as soon as the eggs are done place eggs & veggies in a tortilla
eat up
it may be messy if the eggs are runny
but it’s so tasty
add sour cream, cheese, whatever you want

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Maritime Mary: Visiting Bouctouche

Late August meananderings recently brought Greg and I to Bouctouche, a pretty little town found along the Northumberland shore of New Brunswick. Properties are well kept and coastal flavour is rich. 

As we drove to the well known dunes, we passed beaches with groups of people busy digging for clams, some up to their knees in the water. Clumps of upturned sand attracted a gaggle of Canada geese who were checking out clams for their supper as well. 

The beach along the dunes is perfect and families were enjoying the warm late summer day. The breeze russelled the sea grass as we sauntered along the serpentine boardwalk while the crickets noisily sang their song. It is a respectful place where one can learn of the natural dunes and the impact of environmental changes all while enjoying the breezy salt air. 

Supper followed at a nearby restaurant where we enjoyed a fabulous meal, seafood of course!

The Mariimes in the summer – perfect! 

   
    
   

Diane Krys: Jordi Bonet

When I’m driving downtown and heading east on Jasper Avenue I say a little prayer to the traffic light gods as I approach the 121st street intersection. I’m not wishing for a green light as you might expect, instead I have my fingers crossed for a red light so I can stop and face the 1960 built Jasper House apartment building. High on a smooth facade sits a sculpted mural I never tire of looking at. It’s stunning and dramatic like a beautiful brooch on a sleek column dress.

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I love the collage of colourful squares set atop a doodle of line work. It’s a contraction with lines that look so delicate and threadlike yet stand strong and endure the elements year after year. The shadows intrigue me as much as the piece itself and create a playful kinetic quality.

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It was created by Quebec artist Jordi Bonet (1932 -1979). He was a painter, muralist and sculptor. Although he primarily worked in Quebec, his works are peppered across Canada in places like a metro station in Montreal,Quebec or a mural in Moncton, New Brunswick to name a few spots. Often his work is integrated into our landscape and daily routines and because of that we relate to it differently I think. It seeps into our soul and intellect from a different angle compared to when we go to a gallery or museum with an intent to view and analyze. This piece in particular opened my eyes to all the little known gems that live without fanfare in our cities and towns yet offer so much. I’ll let Jordi Bonet have the last word in this post. I’m always moved by this quote.

To often we work in solitude, far from the fields of action where our destiny can blossom, towns are built around us but we are not there. Yet art is as at ease in the streets and public places, as in the museums, it is the collective richness of all men, everyone has a right to find it in their homes, in the objects they use, everywhere in the country where they live.

If as artists, we must express the anguish of our tormented civilization, then our work must, above all, express hope and what we will become.
                                  
Close our eyes, open our minds, see
                              
“Art is the scripture of visions to come”

Jordi Bonet  

Maritime Mary: Sundown/Moon Rising

“The sun was setting in the west…” That traditional campfire song, Farewell to Nova Scotia, was actually going through my head as my husband and I enjoyed a beautiful drive along the marshy areas just metres from the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border.  The glorious setting sun nicely outlined the round hay bales on the freshly mowed fields. Beef animals grazed on pastures as the huge moon rose over the giant windmills. The moon and its tidal power and the mills generating wind power, were together in one shot, one cast of the eye on a beautiful peaceful late August evening.  

    
    
 

Catherine Bussiere: Carrot Potage

I have been posting a weekly recipe on the Cumberland Food Action Network website this summer
here is one I posted this week
I love this soup

Carrot Potage

1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
1 large onion, or two leeks minced
6 large carrots, chopped
1 good size potato, cubed
salt, pepper, nutmeg
2 cups of broth of your choice
milk
a touch of cream or lots
one more spoon of butter

add 1 inch of grated ginger if you want to add a little kick to that soup

Heat oil and butter in a good size pot over medium high heat. Throw in the onion and reduce. Add carrot and let them caramelize a little. Add potato, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg (you may add ginger now if you wish). Pour in enough milk to cover the veggies. Bring to a boil then simmer until well done.

Blend and add the broth. Return to medium heat. Taste; make adjustment. Depending on thickness add a little milk or cream. You may also want to add a final dab of butter.

ps. if you are lactose intolerant just use a good broth and skip the milk and cream. Or better yet, try some coconut milk and do add ginger, I bet it would be delicious.

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Maritime Mary: Teaching

Last week at Deanne’s studio we hosted a large group of young children from our local YMCA. They were taking part in a week long arts and crafts camp and one of their experiences was learning how to hook at the studio and I was pleased to be their instructor. 

The children were eager to learn how to hook and every single one of them was successful at pulling the wool and yarn up through the backing. They loved the variety of textures and fibres and especially the colours. 

Today, two young girls who were part of that Y group came in with their grandmother to show her what they had learned and to teach her how to hook. All three sat around the frame for some time. Nanny was a good student!

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 

 

Catherine Bussiere: a wedding

it was a week ago and everybody was here
brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles
parents, grand parents, friends
cousins
a few were absent
unable to make the trip
or gone too soon
they were missed
yet present in our hearts

many weeks had lead to that day
a proposal on a rainy day on another continent
a dream that kept growing
a dress bought in a heartbeat

we had a perfect location
of woods and fields
pond and garden
rock patio spread shaded by grape vines

a live dome had been built on the edge of the woods a few years back
covered by hops, an early summer offering
in it’s womb the union would take place
a fairytale setting

a week ago three young men lined up
in front of a small crowd they waited
out in the field a beautiful maiden
surrounded by her dearest
was making her way

the most anticipated moment
the one we had all been waiting for
arose

the groom saw his bride

it was short and simple
as they had wanted
in a few words they were united
in front of all they proclaimed their commitment
love at that moment was everyone’s attire

it was a week ago
as I walk outside
in the field
on the edge of the woods
or as I sit under the shade of the grape vines
I feel thankful for life and for love

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Catherine Bussiere: Beckwith Bash

Saturday August 15th is our annual festival
the Beckwith Bash
I believe it’s the 7th edition

over the years our crowd has grown
some years we get a big crowd
some years we get less
no matter what we always have a fantastic line up of musician

early comers can join in a yoga session
it is hosted in live dome that my boys built a few years back
talk about connecting with self and nature
my friend and yoga instructor Mary has graciously lead that practice for three years now
it’s a lovely way to start off

the stretch is followed by a drum circle
this time on the lounge
calling in the people
getting good vibes echoing through the grounds

when the music starts it goes and goes
only to break with a spell of spoken word and story telling
every year we try something new
we’ve had belly dance, circus act, hula hoop workshop
something for all

if you are in Nova Scotia this week end and are looking for a good time
do join us Saturday
gates open (there are no gates) at 2pm
yoga at 3
music starts at 4:30

full schedule and details can be found HERE

have a good week

ps. I will most likely not blog next Sunday

getting ready

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small drumminhula

Richard

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Catherine Bussiere: visit

my mama’s gone to church
I’m visiting for the week end
alone in her house I wander
I look around

it’s a quiet house
the sound of the humidifier fills the rooms with a constant hum

my mama is in her late 70
she lives alone
her days are regulated by a routine that keeps her going
prayers, exercise, a good diet
any break in those may set her off
she needs routine

I wander in her house while she is gone
presence of her children
presence of her faith
are everywhere
it is a peaceful atmosphere

I live far away
I have never lived in the town she was born
I can appreciate her environment and her mine
but even though we share the same blood
our constitution, our needs, are not the same
to be well we need different conditions

tomorrow I will leave
it is always difficult to part
without saying we both know
that soon routine settles again
and we keep in touch
with the regular punctuation of phone calls

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Diane Krys: The Lazy River

One of my favourite features in the recreation centre where I swim is The Lazy River. It’s a winding channel of water with a current. It swoops and curves in an irregular circular formation so you can float with the flow or go against it for more of a challenge. I start with a workout against the current and then I let the river take me. As I bob along I often think of how the experience reminds me of creativity and developing ideas.
I think letting go is important to really see where an idea can go. That point in my creative process feels like going limp in the water where I let an idea push me around like the waves and currents. I let them roll me away from where I think I want to go. There’s no straight line or destination. I am adrift like a leaf that floats along the water’s surface: still, swirling; gentle movements, frenzied spirals. Forget strength and technique. Flailing is good. My jellyfish limbs move in different directions. No more strong, symmetrical, measured strokes. I invent new moves. The water is my choreographer. As I tumble and turn I see things differently; details, patterns, compositions.

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Catherine Bussiere: Hope

I met Hope this week
I didn’t know Hope
I went to her apartment complex where she resides in River Hebert
she used to live on a farm
but at 80 some she now lives in a much smaller space
with two cats
although residents are not suppose to have cats
actually one of her cat is missing
which is troubling her some

I met Hope because I was to interview her about seed saving
going to a seed saving workshop recently I was presented with some beautiful beans that had been saved and planted for decades
in awe of that I had asked if I could interview the lady that did so
and so I ended up in Hope’s apartment

Hope is a lovely lady
she answered my questions graciously
I found simple, plain wisdom in her comments
I kept telling her that I wanted to hug her so content I was with the turn of our interview

to the question why save seeds her answer is this
keep seeds from plants that grow well in your region
keep the best ones
save them, trade them
they are the best seeds you can get

to the question why garden and why buy local
her answer is this
grow your own food or buy from a local farmer because the fruit you get is the tastiest
period

now of course there are political reasons
we can save seeds to fight Monsanto
we can grow gardens to lower our carbon footprint
we can do so for financial reasons
for physical and mental health
(yes, it helps my mental bits to hang out in the garden)

for Hope it boiled down to taste

it made me wonder
have we forgotten what home grown food taste like
think about a fresh, perfectly ripen, strawberry
a tomato still warm from the sun
fresh shelled peas
carrots with their tops and a tiny bit of dirt just pulled from the garden

there are many reasons to grow a garden
save seeds
even forage for wild edibles

Hope said she likes to know where her food comes from
it taste better
I agree

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Maritime Mary: Neighbourhood

Summer days means that most of our  living happens outdoors. We are much less inclined to hunker down for a marathon of TV viewing. Instead we cook outdoors, tinker around the yard, work at our vegetable and flower gardens, wash the car and relax for a reprieve under a shady tree. We are outside enjoying our property, the beach, our neighbourhood. 

Good neighbours are a blessing and we are truly among the blessed. Positive relationships are everywhere. People are friendly and help one another, keeping an eye out for the elderly and the young. On our quiet street, we sometimes casually gather and chat while children play. We laugh and call these our street meetings as we catch up on our news and enjoy the talents of the young ones playing around us. 

It’s much the same for our beach neighbourhood. We are not alone but among people we can count on when a need arises. 

And yes, as in days of old, we do go between houses occasionally to borrow an egg or a cup of sugar.