25 the Anniversary Pattern

25th-anniversary-rug

I ‘ve decided on an anniversary pattern and it will be geraniums.

Why geraniums?

Well they are hardy, like you have to be if you have been in business for twenty five years.

They are a simple plant, no fuss, and there they are from May to early November, showing up everyday, still blooming. Sometimes I forget to water them, other times the rain pours on them. Either way they manage with just a little bit of attention.

They also remind me of how I see a community. I want to be the person who chooses to plant geraniums to make their community a little prettier. Somehow geraniums remind me of the importance of giving back. It is such a simple thing to do and it reminds me that small things matter a great deal in a community.

You’ll notice the four white houses in the background of the pattern. They are there to represent community. When I moved my business into town , one of the things I decided was that I would commit myself to the community. It has been good to me, and I must try to be good to it. Building and supporting my community is an important part of  my everyday life.

So is beauty. I love to see the storefronts in our downtown in full summer bloom. It makes coming to work, walking the street, and driving by a little sweeter for everyone.

I think of geraniums as an old fashioned flower. It is traditional.

But it isn’t meek. It is quite showy. And I kinda like that about them. Plain but showy. I relate.

So this is a very simple pattern but it is meaningful to me and part of my celebrating twenty five years.

We have listed it on the online shop here.

Where thou art…

You cannot be everything all at once.

You are what you are.

Beauty is on the inside.

We know all of this . We have heard it a hundred times. Yet we wonder.

Am I enough?

We would not be saying, “I need to lose ten pounds.”

We would not be comparing ourselves to others if we were sure we were enough.

Recently I was surprised when  a few of my friends and myself all agreed that sometimes we felt not enough.

We talked about it. It was our own thing, we owned it. It was not that people made us feel that way. We were just that way.

A few years ago there was a photography trend on the internet where people wrote “I am enough.” on themselves a had their picture taken. You have probably seen them.

I liked them. It is good to reinforce the idea that you are enough.

Then I started to feel that gnawing feeling. If she is enough, how come sometimes I don’t feel enough.

My friends and I  were honest with each other. Sometimes we compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we feel that we are not enough. Not  enough, not good enough, not loving enough, not kind enough, not thin enough.

Lately I have been hearing many women say…”Oh I am past all that.”  Some are. I am sure.

But some I am sure, are not.

Some are past it some of the time.

Many struggle with it occasionally.

It is only human to wonder if you are enough.

Some days I am enough.

Some days I am more than enough.

But frankly, some days I could do better.

Some days  I could be kinder, more generous.

Maybe I returned home with kitchen envy.

Maybe I ate a big pistachio square at the local deli.

Maybe I snapped at my husband.

Maybe I looked at the beautiful people across the room and felt frumpy..

Maybe I did not do any of those things in the  last week but I know I am fsusceptible and know they might happen again. Cause sometimes I am  good and sometimes I  feel I’m a bit …well you know… a bit “not good enough”.

I just want to say that this struggle seems real to a lot of us.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt, and that was before instagram, Facebook and photographic filters.

That was before we were all faced everyday with the marvels of social media where no one ever posts that they picked their nose. Warning: If you are thinking of doing that just to even things out a little, don’t. It is not a good idea. It is just something we don’t need to know.

The thing is comparing ourselves to others might be the thief of joy, unless it makes you strive to be a little more, a little kinder, a little healthier, a little better.

Only a few of us have been blessed with the kind of self possession that keeps us from looking around at what the other fella is doing. If you have it, good for you. Honestly, that is great.

For the rest of us, we are only human.

Sometimes we might forget our blessings.

We have been given hearts to love and minds to think so it is natural to wonder.

And sometimes we might even wonder about ourselves.

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when the light hits the queen annes lace

When the light hits the queen Anne’s Lace that way,

the way you know is sudden and special,

it is time to stop and breathe and just look.

When beauty lays itself before you,

offered up,

simply and quietly,

it means to be taken in.

The walk might be the same every day,

but the light is never the same twice.

The sky does not have a way of being

that makes you accustomed to it.

I have never said, “oh there it is again, the sky.”

The sun rises every morning and transforms the same

road sides, fields, and shores that I passed yesterday,

making me feels as if I have never gone done the same road twice.

That is the power of light

as it shifts and paints

and makes me believe what I might have thought impossible.

 

 

Getting out my Camera

My phone is always around so you get out of the habit of using a real camera for pictures. When I took out my Canon Rebel again after a year of relying on my phone I had forgotten how to use it. I had to spend hours just getting to know the knobs again. I know the word knobs is from sometime in seventies but I still understand that term.

Once I did I realized that there is a depth to my camera that I cannot get with my phone. People always look flat with the phone. Yet that phone is so slim, and light, and convenient. It is hard competition.

As I start preparing for the abstract workshop next fall I know I need a viewfinder. I need a new set of eyes to see things differently so I am going back to knob and tube….well not quite. Here is the first round.
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Some Favourites

Every once in a while I like to review the library of rugs I made. I did that today and found a few of theses I would like to share with you. Everything I have made influences what I am now making. Sometimes I cannot see it, but I know it is there. It is good to look back at your old work and review it because I think it can renew your current work in surprising ways. Sometimes you might even forget what you did really well.

I have just finished a series of houses and we have decided to have a party here in early June to celebrate it. Stay tuned…The details are coming.

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Artist & Entrepreneur Seeking Beauty

I am two things, actually, like all of you I am many things. People are this lovely combination of many interests, ideas, values, loves and passions. That is what makes them so interesting. What makes them so beautiful. For most of us though a few things stand out.

Myself I am an artist and an entrepreneur. I like creating, whether it is a rug as art, or a job for a woman in my community. It is still making. I can see it. It is real.

Sometimes people wonder why I started a woman’s clothing store. They ask it like it is oddest thing I could have done. This morning I came up with one of the answers.  It is about beauty. I think that most people like to feel beautiful. They like to feel good about themselves.

I have loved clothes since I was a little girl and they came second hand as my cousin’s hand me downs in bags from my Aunt in St. Johns. I have always enjoyed picking out what I was going to wear “where”. I remember my life in outfits, my polka dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding when I was three, my gold knit suit on the first day of school, my navy paisley skirt for the speech contest in grade seven, the tan jacket I was wearing the night I met my husband. It goes on. You have your own list I am sure.

Clothes to me are more than just stuff. They can help transform the way I walk, the way, the way I hold myself, the way I feel. Call me shallow. I don’t care. I love a pair of high heels and a bit of lipstick.  They are  another layer of ornament and decoration, another way of creating beauty. I love working with women and reminding them to reframe the way they speak and feel about themselves as they buy clothes. At 30 Church Women’s Clothing, there are no saggy arms, or fat arses, instead they just part of us, the way we are, and none of us are perfect. We are built for beauty if we want it. We just have to choose it.

I feel that this love of beauty is no different than my love of beauty across the street at my studio. At the rug hooking studio I try to make the wool the best it can be. When I come up with some little sketch, I dress it up with ornamentation and colour and texture. I try to make the most of what I have just like I want the woman who is getting dressed across the street to make the most of what she has. We all have something, we just have to see it and make the best of it. Beauty is what I seek.

So these two things I do, one across the street from each other are really not that different after all. My belief that beauty matters carries the same weight in either place. I am not foolish enough to believe that clothes make the woman, but I am certain that the woman can make the clothes.

I know that the birds in the trees and the flowers in the field are dressed more beautifully than any of us. Yet I believe that I was put here to create beauty everyday, in any way that I can, and that sometimes two things that do not seem to belong to each other are really very integral.

So I cross the street over and over again each day because I believe that beauty matters and that it needs to be redefined, so that as women, and as artists, we can own it.


 

 

 


 

What if I just let it happen? What might happen?

Why do you do it? Why do you live in a small town?

It is not a question I ask myself because the honest truth is I just found myself here. I never decided to live in a small town. Life does not happen that way for many of us. We live where we live for all kinds of reasons. It might be love, it might be family, it might be work.

Myself I just responded to what came up, love and family then turned into work, which turned into art, then turned into business.

It was never written in a journal. It was never dreamt up. It just simply happened.

There is so much pressure these days to plan out a great life. To seek abundance, to be more, to seek out your dreams, to be the most you can be.

Yesterday I saw a chalkboard that said, “Do something amazing every day.”

Really? How about “Do your dishes everyday.” or maybe “Pack your lunch everyday.”

Maybe just, “Be kind to others.”

I get a lot done but there is no way I can do something amazing everyday.

It makes me think about our studio motto, “create beauty everyday”…let me assure when I say that I mean that a sandwich can be a beautiful thing. I also mean that tidying your sock drawer can be too. Don’t take any pressure from me, beauty is surely in the tiniest of things.

I keep seeing journals with things like “Live your dreams ” written on it. They scare me. I’d rather a blank one so I can write in it things like…”I made macaroni for supper. We were out of cheese so I just ate it with butter. Yum.” I don’t need pressure from inanimate objects around the house.

Even my “think” sign sometimes gets on my nerves.

No one tells you you can end up being an artist and business person just by responding to what comes up. No one seems to say that if you live in a place where the people you love are then you will feel safe and comfortable and you might take a few more risks. People don’t seem to like to say that  you can carve an opportunity out in any place.

We so easily forget the little things, that really are the foundation for the big things. You can’t just “dream” cause the cover of the book tells you to. The conditions have to be right.

Everywhere I look there are quotes telling you to seek, to shine, to grow.

Yesterday I saw a box that ” Stuff I pretend is important.”  I was tempted to buy it just because it was honest. I didn’t.

Believe me, I love change and growth. I think it is important to dream. I just don’t want pressure to do those things because pressure to do those things is exactly what can stunt it.

Let’s try….

“It is okay to flounder.”

“Say your prayers.”

“It can happen anywhere.”

 

 


I just wanted to tell you about Lorna

I just wanted to tell you about Lorna.

You know how some people matter greatly in your life?

Well she matters greatly in mine.

She has worked with me for years and is a blessing.

I have watched her grow from shy to rather saucy.

If there is a pepsi in the lunch fridge, well she just might steal it and tell you.

Sometimes she is singing in her office, and whistling as she crosses the street.

Sometimes she just has her head down to get the job done.

She could walk  mile in high heels.

She has great hair.

She is smart. She is kind. She is lovely.

She looks out for those around her and tells you the truth.

And we are lucky to have her.

Sometimes she complains that I post bad pictures of her. Surely she cannot complain about this one.

If she does I have a really nice one of her with her mouth full of pie.
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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: gardening

I dealt
or rather
I started dealing
with my greenhouse
this week

my greenhouse was like a jungle of mostly
dill, peppergrass, cilantro, and kale

I like to leave some plants go to seed
the reason I had so much kale this spring was because I let one plant go to seed last fall

I crushed and shook the dried pods around in October
In May I had a small sea of baby kale

at this point in the summer
the garden is giving plenty
and it got to the point where I could barely walk through the greenhouse
I did have room around the pepper plants and the few tomatoes and eggplants
but still
how many dill, peppergrass and coriander plants do I need for seeds

But it is so pretty
And fragrant as I walk through

sigh –

I got on my knees
I started pulling

inspired by a woman I met recently
I have decided to plant now
a fall / winter garden

I planted carrots and peas
I put the peas around the few tall dill plants left
I’m thinking that it is a brilliant idea
the peas will climb up the dill stalk
and it gives me a good excuse to leave a few around

I will transplant Swiss chard and reseed lettuce
I think I will put some bush beans in between the grown lettuce
by the time the old lettuce is ready to be pulled
room will be made for the growing beans
( unless I let the lettuce go to seeds )

I have kale and parsley
that should last a while

I’m experimenting

I want to be able to make the most of our old unheated greenhouse
I have a feeling we should be able to get fresh greens late into the fall

I’ll keep you updated

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Catherine Bussiere: nature walk

I went for a walk in the woods yesterday
it was organized by the Amherst museum and held at the Amherst bird sanctuary
a man named Bill was our botanist on site
a very knowledgeable week end botanist
on week days he is a lawyer

the funny thing was, the night before I had a dream that my car was stolen
I went to see the cops
someone told me don’t bother
you need to see a lawyer

Sunday was a beautiful day
only a handful of us took part of that walk
a brother and a sister were there mostly for the birds
she knew some birds by their song
we heard this lovely chant
she showed me the author in her book

we walked for a few hours
very slowly
our host seemed to know every single tree and every single plant
that kind of knowledge blows my mind
common name, Latin name, other names
properties, how to make the different between this maple and that one

so much to know

we saw the oldest sugar maple in Nova Scotia
twisted and knotted like an old man
majestic

we chewed on a leafy twig
I forget the name of that tree
but it tasted like spearmint

we saw a plant that once upon a time was used for bedding
we saw a tutu fern
a sensitive fern
an interrupted fern
and a cinnamon fern

we saw star flowers
dog wood flowers
lily of the wood flowers
and violets

tucked away just outside of Amherst
lays a protected piece of paradise
check it out if you are ever around

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Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

we went for a walk in the woods
we listen to nature waking up
the beauty of it all just makes me smile
I feel happy

we are out to collect fiddle heads
one of nature’s first edible
there may be others
only recently have we been going out to gather wild edibles
so far mushrooms and fiddles heads are what we collect
there is something quite enthralling about gathering food from the wild
I love it

by the river we find some tightly curled ferns
they’ve just started showing up through the leaves
you can’t wait too long
when nature wakes up she’s got no time to waste for stretches, coffee, and all
she’s on the move

this morning I made us a fiddle head omelet
for two people I used three large farm eggs
beat them up with a little cream, a pinch of salt, cumin and fresh ground pepper

I steamed a couple handful of fiddle heads
I grated some cheddar cheese and chopped some chives
I pour the egg mix onto a cast iron pan
when the egg mix starts to set I place chives, fiddle heads and cheese on one half of it
I wait a little
the cheese melts
I flip the bare half onto the dressed half

a nature walk feeds the soul, lungs, eyes
today, a nature walk also fed two hungry bellies

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: Gail

foggy morning, fishcakes and biscuits, company over
my blog is a little late today
it’s Sunday

I visited Gail this week
Gail, in legal term, is my mother in law
in my term she is a friend

I thought Gail would be a good person to interview for my age series
she will be 77 this year
you may think: she’s 76, don’t need to age her faster
no, but the thing is, Gail cares more about the sound of the number then the meaning we might associate it with
and so 77 sounds much better then 76
actually, really, Gail loves double digits

so far, in the few interviews that I have done, there have been reactions regarding age;
mind association that connects age with physical and mental abilities
beauty, energy, hopes and dreams, curiosity, interest …
often I hear concerns, at any age, be it 20, 30, 40
fear, unmet expectations
our own or others
trying to keep up with the time
and the time ticking

The interesting thing with Gail is that age seems like an irrelevant word.

“ 77, what about it ? Nothing ! I’m grateful; I love double numbers.”

When does one become old?

“ It’s a mental attitude, an outlook …
I find it’s enriching because the wisdom is with age,
because of past experiences …
You have great memories of past experiences and that keeps you young,
in thought, mind …
Then I am just grateful;
Thank you!
I’m still able to be independent, and that’s everything.

Being a woman, when you go through menopause that’s the beginning of getting old
and you know it, you feel it, you sense it
you know your limits little by little
and the thing is not to give into your limits because you’ll loose all that muscle
muscle disappears quickly and you want to keep your muscle more or less ”

Time or age never affected you?

“ No, I had a lot of desires so I just went…
I never needed a lot of comfort, I didn’t need to have luxury.
You can be very vain about your body, your face and your living style
and I don’t think I was enhanced with vanity. “

the conversation will keep going
what inspires me with Gail is her will power
whatever Gail wants, Gail gets some way or another
she has lived and is living her life just like she wants
she has embraced an innumerable amount of projects
art, travel, work
she is creative, curious, passionate
she is demanding to herself and others
and is incredibly generous
her life has been and remains full

Next project? : “ my goal is when I’m 80 I’ll go to Cuba “

I love it

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Catherine Bussiere: homecoming

it’s been one week today
one week actually yesterday, we arrived on a Saturday
the first two nights I’d wake up in the middle of the night wondering where I was
trying to figure out how our windows fitted in what I thought was my Moroccan room

then I slept better and slept a lot
jet lag I guess and recovering from the journey itself
as if I didn’t realize my batteries were low and needed a full charge

the weather has been wonderful and tons of snow have melted in the past week
I started cleaning up the greenhouse
pruned around an apple tree
got a piece of ground ready to plant garlic

the ice on the pond is still holding but there is an opening near the beavers house
I saw the beavers come out looking for grubs
I should bring them my apple clippings

I saw a couple deers in the orchard and in the garden
I was happy about that
I heard form my neighbor that there are three dead ones in our woods
winter’s been hard

I visited a friend and she has some work for me
I went to a community talk on wild edibles and met a few acquaintances
we’ve shared a meal with family members, made tagine and drank some wine

slowly, bit by bit, as familiar motions take place
I am getting home
it’s been a long journey after all

ps. people are asking about highlights from the trip, there are so many, here are a some visual highlights

pps. I am planing on doing a blog series about women and age. I want to keep that conversation going.

 

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Catherine Bussiere: Susan and Regina

Two German ladies showed up one evening while the hotel was vacant.
I looked at them walk in wandering for a second what they wanted. We didn’t expect any guest for a couple days and I must have forgotten that we were indeed a hotel providing rooms. It didn’t take me long to clue in and I quickly went to the reception desk to welcome them.

They took a room and stayed with us for a couple nights. The second morning we started a conversation as I was serving them breakfast and I asked if they would be up for a couple questions about age.

Susan is a university professor. She is sixty three.
Regina is a psychologist. She is sixty six.
They are cousin, good friends, and enjoy traveling together.

It is interesting to get feedback from different age group (last week the ladies were thirty). The fact that English is a second language (for myself as well) only added flavor to the exchange.

What is old?

Susan: Being not attractive anymore, not attractive for other people, loosing autonomy, needing help.

I think you can be old in so different ways, I think and I hope I will never be old in that terrible sense. My mind is quite young, my way of behaving is rather young. All the time I’m in contact with young people now so that, perhaps, keeps me young as well.

Regina: What is it to be old? I don’t know.

My body is feeling old. When I get out of the car my legs are stiff, it takes a moment and then it’s good, I can move again. My mind, my emotions, are not old. And when my cousin say we are not so attractive for the man, for me it’s good because I was a very attractive woman and it’s not nice to be that, and now I can look and nobody is looking for me. I love it. I can show my emotion.

Last year I was really old, I lost one (pointing to her breast) and I think it’s good that I am an old woman and not thirty years old. No problem for me. I’m an old woman and I’m very very interested in all things and I’m also naughty. I’m a old time naughty, yes! And I understand a lot of things and when people say: oh, I want to be young, I think no, no. You are very alone then and I don’t want (that). It’s ok I’m old, but my body, my legs, it’s not so nice.

Susan: I see that the norm says you, as a woman, are suppose to look for men who are older or as old as you are and not the young ones. But when you’re getting older it’s for you like for the man that you like the younger ones.

Regina laughs and says “Naughty!”

Susan: And you accuse man of taking second and third women or marrying again and again and you say yeah, he can do that, he gets the new one when the old one is worn out and old and ugly but we’re not allowed to do that. I mean in general.

I have to think about that a lot because I meet a lot of young people that are nice.

The men that are of my age and older I think they are incredibly unattractive. They are so much less attractive then women of my age. And so, what can I do with them? I mean they don’t attract me, I don’t want to share my life with them. They are not lively anymore. It seems they are sort of depress, they are slower, they do not look for what is happening in the world.

I have the impression that women try to get more when they are old, they still want to learn things for themselves; keep themselves upright (she is looking for the right word) dynamic. And of course I can’t say that about all women but there are such women and I meet them and I like them. And I have a big problem getting to know men of my age that are interested and interesting.

Why do you think that is?

Regina:
The garden; the garden of Eden.
Eva say, let us eat from the apple and Adam say “oh God say no!”
She is very interested, she wants to eat the apple and I also want to eat the apple.
And God say no, Adam says no.

(Big laugh from both of them)

Regina:
I think it’s not easy to be old because I don’t plan, I can’t plan the next 10 years.
Oh! I’m going to (do) this and that… It’s over.
You can’t plan.
I think the next five years; I think it’s like now (looking at herself, physically) but then I don’t know. Can I live in my loft?, I have a lot of steps. I don’t know; I – don’t – know.
It’s a difficult question. I think when I have a good day, I think twenty years. (laugh)
Yes; I’m old in twenty years. But I don’t know.
I feel my body much more (now) then when I’m younger, I didn’t think about my body when I was young.
My wrinkles that’s ok. Ohhhh, beautiful! (laugh)

When was beauty not a problem anymore?

Regina:
Fifty.
Fifty years old and I’m sitting on a ship in Sicily and there are lots of men of all ages and they laugh at me and I laugh back and I think, ah! it’s no problem, ah!, the world is opening up (laugh).
The first time I realize this, yes, I was fifty, I remember very very clear.

About youth?

Susan:
Youth has a future. The world is there for you (if you are in such a privilege situation as we are, enough money, good parents, good education), the world is open, you can do many things, you just decide or you wait and things happen. Youth means you have all possibilities, the world is open. People expect from you that you take advantage of your opportunities.

When I got thirty we were joking about things. My friend say thirty, oh yeah, that’s something, and we give you some cream for your face and how to eat in healthy way so you sort of get along with age from thirty on. We’re laughing a lot and I say; you go off with your stuff, I don’t want it.
I didn’t think much change then but I know that when I approach sixty, my age of sixty, I was never fifty nine, I was always almost sixty and it was like aaaahhhh, sixty, that’s quite an age, this is something really…

You have to get over that. Say well ok, I’m sixty, nothing happened, I’m still as I am, ok, ok, ok.

But it is since I’m in the sixties that I’m getting more and more afraid of age… and I’m afraid that people expect me to be old. That they judge me and say: you’re sixty, oh yeah, ok, you’re sixty, not much to do in your life anymore.

I know that my father and my mother were ninety when they died so perhaps half my life is in front of me.
Yes, much life left in you indeed. Thank you Susan and Regina.

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Catherine Bussiere: Taroudant, another carpet ride

After a memorable stay in the desert (I missed last week’s blog for lack of internet but you will find a post on that experience here if you like) we are now in Taroudant, a town that the locals call “the small Marrakech”. We got off the bus two days ago after a long ride through more Atlas where stunning scenery of mountains and valleys, dry river beds, oasis, herds of sheep, dusty road stands with colorful potteries kept us entertained. The landscapes in these parts are rugged and beautiful.

As we got off the bus I started looking for a taxi when Thami, upon asking me where we were staying, offered us directions then took upon himself to lead us there and carry some of our luggage. When I offered Thami a tip for his service he promptly refused, welcoming us to his town and offering us to take a horse drawn carriage ride with him for a tour of the city the next morning at a very reasonable price. Why not. We’ve never done that.

If there is something I have to learn about morocco it’s to be open to whatever the day will give (or lead to). The ride with Thami didn’t last an hour as I had expected, it took most of the day. Not only did he show us the city rampart where here and there we hopped off to climb, get a good view and take photos (he knew of all the good spots for pictures) but he made us visit the souk and of course some shops. Now the nice thing about visiting shops with a tour guide is that you are made to feel that there is no obligation or pressure to buy anything. Have a look, ask questions, take pictures.

We visited a women cooperative where several products are made from the argan nut. I already had bought argan oil in Fes so there was no need for more. We visited a jewelry shop and there, since this region is famous for this art, and because we had not indulged yet, Charlotte and I splurged. We went into an ancient synagogue transformed into a art shop where I saw the biggest carpet show room I had seen yet on this trip along with several rooms filled with ancient and new art from Morocco and other African country.We might as well have stepped into Ali Baba’s cavern. I knew nothing there was within my budget but oh my, what a feast for the eyes.

We saw mountain of spices at the market, and several other small artisan shop. But what took the main part of our tour was yet another carpet shop owned by one of Thami’s relative. Soon after we got in and as a gentleman was about to show us some carpets (tea already on it’s way) we did let them know that we had already bought carpets and blanket earlier on the trip. In fact, that was the heavy piece of luggage that Thami helped us carry the night before. No problem my friends, just have a look, no need to buy.

Of course you know what is next. Next comes an array of beautiful thin blankets made of camel hair and cactus fiber. They are light and roll up to almost nothing. When will I ever have a chance to acquire such beauty. We ponder, we do not have enough cash, I plead that we must go back to the hostel and get a credit card if we are to make a purchase. I think that really we should finish our tour first. The gentleman doesn’t settle for that. It is Friday, couscous day, why don’t you join us for couscous. Finish the tour then come eat with us. Hum, homemade couscous is an invite no one should refuse. We agree, we finish the tour, we come back. I know already that we will get those blankets. After couscous and more tea we not only get three but four blankets.

Maybe because we are not good at bartering, maybe because we spend time, maybe because tourism is low at the moment, who knows, not only our gentleman lowers the price a little but he trows in a few cushion covers to go with the blankets and give Eric a Fatima hand for his mom. Hands are shaken, shukran (thank you) exchanged, we are all happy with our day. Moroccans depends on tourism and will do their best to give you a good time. I have seen here some of the most beautiful craft / art there is. Generation of men and women have passed down their skills from fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, and most of what you see has been made by hard working hands.

Thanks to Thami and extended family for a great day yesterday.

Here are some photos for you textile and art lover!

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ps. one more thing, we visited Amoon, a collaborative of Berber women in Taroudant today, there was one rug that was hooked!

Here is their website: anmoon.com

If you ever visit Taroudant do visit their shop.

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just be yourself…no one cares

from the archives…

Dear Diary, While my daughter bagged groceries for her hockey team last Saturday I was held captive at the local grocery store. I had a book, but still….

After a half hour of standing I went for a walk. I keep my camera with me now almost all the time so when I found myself in the floral shoppe, I said, “Well there is beauty everywhere, even in the most mundane places.”

Who would think these photos  were from the grocery store? Orchids, tulips, roses, gerber daisys, they were all there to touch, smell and see. So I got out my camera and passed the time. When you are forced to be somewhere you begin to see things differently, look at things more closely. I felt a little weird with a big old camera in the neighborhood grocery store but you know, you just have to get over yourself if you want to make stuff. It’s natural to worry what other people think but it’s not good to worry so much you stifle yourself.

So I put that strap around my neck, and started shooting the flowers close up. I just decided that if someone wanted to roll their eyes at me, they could go ahead. My sister used to cross her eyes when she was little for fun, to torment my mother. My mother used to say, “Wilhelmina, if the wind changes while you are doing that, they’ll stay crossed forever.”  So I just hope that the eye rollers know the risk they’re taking. No one wants their pupils stuck up under their lids if the wind changes.

The thing is, no one really cares what you are at. They might like to observe it ,judge it, even roll their eyes about but essentially they know that you are you, and they are them, and that we are all really up to our own devices. So if you want to haul out a sketch book, a camera, a rug hook, some knitting needles, go for it. Be yourself, and let everyone else be themselves.

Catherine Bussiere: Textures

it’s been an interesting week
moving deeper into Morocco
new sights and smells
more interaction
with locals
with other travelers
with a new host

we’re by the ocean near Casablanca
Dar Bouazza it’s called
there is a little port where fishermen bring their catch
there’s a few fruit and vegetable vendors
the beach in front of us is sand with the regular pounding of waves
nothing too big
gentle and steady
further along there are very interesting rock formations
their design make me come back for a photo shoot

it is busy this week end
the weather is nice and several cars are parked in rudimentary parking lots along the ocean front
you wouldn’t think much of it
unpaved dirt lot overlooking the ocean
but in the shade with a glass of tea
an attendant keeps watch
over the nice looking cars

I was looking to buy chicken the other day
on the main drag there are several small shops where you can find all the basics
but meat
for that there are meat stalls
I see a big side of beef hanging and a nice array of cuts in one of them
I’m looking for chicken though
I ask the man if he has any
I ask in French
turns out French is the unofficial third language in this country and is definitively not spoken by all
in the north more people speak Spanish as a third language
the two first ones you ask: Arabic and Berber
in Tangier for example, the first boy we met spoke Spanish, French and English aside from Arabic and maybe Berber
I’m thinking of my kids back home
the ones I used to help with french at school
who struggle with one extra tongue
back to my chicken; I am stubborn and ask again, in french, if he has any other type of meat
maybe mentioning lamb (but not pork) will help
the man graciously points to a nice piece of beef
he obviously thinks I want a particular cut
I understand that we will not understand each other if I keep on like this
so, I resort to a universal language and mime a chicken while clucking
that works, the man has a good laugh and points up the alley to another stall

I have been using this method daily with Mina the maid who works here
she too only speaks Arabic
on the first day after many “merci” for this or that
I muster the courage to try it out in Arabic
“shukran”
I can tell she is pleased
later she uses a few words in french
here we go, between gestures, a little of this and that we may understand each other

the photos were taken yesterday
fascinated I was by the various textures on my path

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Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

On the ferry we saw the edge of the Rif mountains
Africa
looking for a culture shock
looking for extra heat

we had been told many things
the cabs, the haggling, the food, the art, the hospitality
go to: Chefchaouen, Fes, Marrakech
do this, don’t do that
and
it won’t be much warmer

we experienced the cab first thing
an old Mercedes
the grand taxi
from Tangier port to the city
a good half hour drive
full speed

as soon as we step out a young boy is offering us direction
I know where I am going
I have my map
it’s around the corner
still he is one step ahead of me
pointing to where I am going
I tell him I have no money
which is true, I will need to find a bank first thing to get some local change
it doesn’t make any difference
one step ahead of me he goes

we’re at the hostel
still the boy and now another one are waiting around for us to be done with checking in
they want to take us to their uncle or other relative for dinner
we are exhausted and just want to settle in
it has been a long day
the clerk who knows them shoos them off

welcome to Morocco

Next day Chefchaouen or like people say Chaouen
the blue city
the Medina (the old city) is so pretty
just big enough to think you may get lost
but really, small, so you don’t

cats are everywhere
most of them look good
I think it’s a good sign
our hosts at the Riad are most welcoming
our house is your house
truly

we venture around
I click away
every door, every step
every shade of blue
catches my eye

there are shops everywhere
everything is beautiful
I don’t dare let my eye linger too much
the vendors know
they will catch me
once your caught it’s hard to get out

eventually I get caught
come to see this carpet shop one says
I will take you there
innocently I go
sure, let’s have a peak
we are treated the royal way
the place is large
mounds and mounds of carpets and blankets
all of them absolutely gorgeous
two men are busy picking several out to show
unrolling them on the floor
tea is offered
we agree
it’s a ritual
it’s also a trap

I really didn’t have any intention of buying anything that day
I was going to be smart and inform myself first
I had been told to bargain
I was not going to buy anything big
we are backpacking

you see where this is going

a couple hours later I came out with a large carpet
two small ones
and two blankets

did I bargain?
no
I couldn’t get myself to do it
the craftsmanship shown to me was so beautiful
how could I undermine it

later I felt a bit like a fool
my daughter and I, on another walk, got caught in a different shop
the vendors are so slick
so nice
like fine fisherman, they know how to hook you and slowly get you in
I am the biggest fish around
he offers prices that are way below what I just paid
I feel tired, I had enough
we manage to get out of this one empty handed

my daughter tells me what we got was way better
thanks Charlotte

there is much to adjust culture wise
as a foreigner I don’t want to offend anyone
we are in Muslim country
what do I know
much to learn

we are in Fes today
biggest Medina in the world
this time we will get lost

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: la Taha

two more days until our visa expires

on another journey we go

this one has been good

the kind of good that makes you feel like you could stay a few more days or a few more months

that you could easily slip into this community

be yet one more wanderer that stumbled upon this place and never left

we have found generous people

that took us in

shared what they had

made us feel at home

tomorrow we will cook a big gumbo

invite a few neighbors

make one last almond cake

today we will go for another walk

maybe not the great big one we had planned on

but at least a little one

I was hoping to see almond blossoms before we left

even the trees in their greatness granted me my wish

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Catherine Bussiere: Atalbeitar

long days, short week
where does the time go
officially by 9am we should all start working
it’s about right, más o menos quince minutos

Alma goes to school
she is four years old
has curly blond hair
and the features of an angel
morning revolves around getting her to the bus in time
like any other household with a child in school

there is a breath of relief, a sense of achievement, when she is off
we did it again
we can go on with our day

a long list of various task is written on a large piece of paper pinned to the kitchen door
everyone has something to do
sanding, painting, fixing, building
ongoing maintenance of a restored house
very different from our house
this house has rocks for roofing
the ceiling of my bedroom is made of large beams holding a wooden structure that supports loads of rocks
the walls are made of blocks of cement covered with plaster
it enable a creative person to shape them as they wish
to insert rounded selves and small alcoves
I quite like it (I love it)
I want a house like that

it is snowing this morning
first snow we see on our trip
we are way up in the Sierra Nevada mountain range
it’s not unusual to have a little snow this time of year

although Christmas has gone by this snow makes us feel like Christmas

everyday we go for a walk
this village is tiny
it has a church, a bar (run by a gentleman named Jesus) and a handful of houses
most of the time you won’t see anyone in the streets except for cats
I have been thinking there may be more stray cats then people living here
I’m not too far off

the houses are all white
every year they get a fresh coat of lime wash
apparently it has antimicrobial properties
you can spot the villages from a distance
white slashes on the mountains

I like it here
every single time we go for a walk I end up picking either: almonds, walnuts or chestnuts off the ground
mostly almonds
people grow almonds around here
I keep writing this word: almond, because it pretty much blows my mind
it’s a dream come true
picking almonds off the ground, cracking the shells with a rock and eating them
I can scratch that off my bucket list
but I don’t want to
I want to live in a place where I can have an almond tree

do you think I could have one in my greenhouse?

time for another cup of tea
it’s Sunday, it’s snowing, I might just go bake an almond cake

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Catherine Bussiere: I love Spain

It’s tempting to talk about where I am at the moment but I may have to wait until next week for that

on Monday there was an amazing Kings parade in Barcelona
that could be a post in itself
the three kings parade is really the kids Christmas here
That’s who they write their wish list to and that’s when they get their present
the parade was magical
floats, carts, crazy rolling cars, masks, dancers
it was like a circus

Wednesday night we took the train to Grenada and arrived early the next morning
We had rented a room in the Albayzín district, I’ll call it the old quarter
from the shared roof patio of the apartment we had a fantastic view of the Alhambra which we visited the next day
What struck me the most with the old quarter was the stone work
the roads, sidewalk, pathways are all neatly laid with pebbles forming various pattern
some squares look like mosaics
everywhere you walk is like a beautiful stone carpet
it just amazed me
so much time and detail put into the common place

I felt so happy
sure I am on vacation
but I was pondering upon the effect of beauty in your everyday surroundings
the fact that everywhere you look is beautiful
that an artist, an artisan, an architect put some thought, time and effort into making something, the most common thing, like a pavement, beautiful
what does that do to one self
to walk amongst beauty everyday
it sure made me feel good

as if that was not enough
we visited the Alhambra the next day
The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex
it is one of the most visited place in Spain
depending on the time of year you would have to reserve tickets weeks ahead to get a chance to visit it

The Alhambra is breathtaking
the outside of the buildings are rather plain
the views from the fortress let you admire the city and the snow caped mountains in the distance
eventually you get into the main palace
that’s when your jaws drops
walls and ceiling are ornate with what I thought was carved stone but turns out to be plaster
there is water flowing everywhere
there are courtyards with orange trees, pools with goldfish, palm trees that turned out to be date trees
we walked at a slow pace taking it all in
peace, beauty and serenity emanated from the place

we are now since yesterday up in the mountains near Pitres
the village we are in only has pathways, no roads for cars
we are up in the mountains on the south slope
our hosts are young artists with a lovely 4 year old daughter
I haven’t taken any pictures yet
I will save that for next week
all I can tell you is that I keep falling in love with Spain
over and over again

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Catherine Bussiere: Catalonia Art

yesterday we went to visit the Catalonia art museum

I mostly spent time walking through the modern art exhibit

rooms and rooms of paintings, sculptures, furniture, drawings, metal work, photography you name it

the great thing was that I only knew very few of the artists

there might have been one Picasso and one Dali

of course there were some Miro

but otherwise I really didn’t know much

How refreshing and exciting to discovery all this art

here is some of it

enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: Christmas

December 21st
it’s hard to believe
I see the Santas here and there
a few decorations
but really walking around Barcelona
wearing a light shirt under a sunny sky
I don’t feel like Christmas is in a very few days

My son Sam joined us this week
we had said good bye to the hills of Provence
spent a day in Marseille
got off the bus really early one morning in the city of Gaudí
and a few days later Sam was here, on our door step
not in my computer talking to me on skype
but right there in front of me
sleepily standing between his brother and sister who picked him up at the airport
Could I possibly want anything else
my three babies for Christmas
my three adult babies
maybe that’s even more special

Barcelona is great and I should tell you all about it
but in a way
at this point in our trip
it is more like a shell that holds us all
a beautiful shell I must say
it is where we get together as a family for a precious amount of time
where we walk and talk
shop (mostly for food) and cook and drink
laugh and snuggle
where we just hang out and enjoy being together

it is precious isn’t it
once the kids grow up
once life takes us apart
when we all fly our own direction
to be able to take the time
make a pause
and reconnect with our dear ones

of course there’s always someone missing
make that a plural
my son’s fiancé
our moms and dads
brothers and sisters
nieces and nephews
the list goes on

But for what I have I am thankful

I wish you who may read this blog a happy Christmas
I wish you to spend time with anyone who is dear to you
may it be family or friend, make the best of it
Merry Christmas!

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Catherine Bussiere: highlights

when one doesn’t know where to start; start with highlights
Paris is already gone by and I barely said a thing busy we were soaking it up
and before Paris there was Canterbury
didn’t even mention that did I
images are worth a thousand word, I will use this

Canterbury: awe, solemnity, beauty, moved to tears when I entered the crypt
why?
I think the sense of time, history, people, us in some ways passing through, achievement, faith, war, love, peace
I don’t know
and didn’t need to think it
the feeling was there and was enough
I loved Canterbury
later on we went back to hear the choir
we went to mass
I never go to mass
it was beautiful
the whole ceremony punctuated by a mixture of voices all tones and range mixed in unison in this huge sacred place

that was Canterbury cathedral
highly recommended

then Paris
an overnight bus ride from London that took us on the ferry in the middle of the night
long and groggy is the feeling
in the middle of the night we go through border
the French one
I’m a little nervous again, borders tent to do that
Charlotte is ahead
the officer says “bonsoir”
she says “bonsoir”
he then says “and in the morning you say…”
She is puzzled for a second then responds “bonjour”
“and in the afternoon…”
that’s the trick question, one must know that to go through border
Charlotte answers: “bonne après-midi”

I go after Charlotte
He says: “Bonsoir”
“bonsoir”
“She looks like you”
“She’s my daughter”
the officer winks, stamps my passport, “Bon séjour”
off I go
I love France already

True things about Paris: people are not rude
or at least no more then anywhere else
also, I was under the impression that there would be dog droppings everywhere
that was an old rumor
Paris is clean, surprisingly clean
Paris highlights: everywhere you look is beautiful, the bakeries, la Seine, the multiple bridges, la tour Eiffel at night, walking and getting lost, our hosts
Paris was thrilling and exhausting
you just can’t help wanting more of it

We are now settled in a beautiful nook in Southern France
up against a cliff looking down valleys
olives trees lined up on “restanques” (dry-stone wall terraces)
a 2 km path takes us to the nearby village (and bakery)
today we’ll explore a different path that leads to a monastery
the monks are known to produce “Chartreuse” and honey
worth investigating

at this point in our trip we have been reunited with my son and his … fiancé!
he proposed in London about a week ago
sweethearts
so it’s five of us for the month in Provence
we will be clearing the orchard, helping out on the land
it is a country where thyme and rosemary grow wild
as my son said “herbes de Provence” could just as well be “weeds of Provence”
we love it

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paying attention to the what’s on the go right now

Dear Diary,

Yes, I am back to writing dear diary because I  feel as if I am writing to myself when I start like that. It is so much less intimidating. You will have noticed I am blogging less. I will keep trying to post once or twice a week.

I have to say I am excited about my new book…the best book yet…with out a doubt. Not only is it in hardcover but it is full of surprises and interesting instruction as well as my more personal writing. Simply Modern…I can hardly believe I wrote it.

My friend , Donny Miller, said one of the things he does not love abut me is that before I take time to appreciate one thing I am on to the next thing. We were talking early this fall, being honest with each other and that was his honesty with me. I really heard what he said. I was not like I did not know it. I know myself pretty good. I know that I might relish the moment but as soon as I do I move on to the next thing. It is a weakness and I plan to work on it. In fact I am working on it right now. Relishing my new book. Relishing the new store across the street. And it isn’t easy for me.

When I was in my thirties I sometimes thought that if I could do it, then it wasn’t a big deal. I took it for granted . That has since changed but I remain speedy. One thing done, on to the next. In my life there are lots of quiet and slower times but I am always thinking about the next thing. What should we do next? I think for the coming year, though I have some projects I am working on, it is important for me to think about how can this be the best?

That is what I did with my book., Simply Modern. I thought a lot about how it could be the best possible book. It is what I have done with my studio and it is what I want to do with our new womb’s clothing store, Thirty Church. I want to work on, instead of move on, taking Donnie’s advice seriously.

It isn’t easy for me. It’s a goal I suppose, to relish things more. To savour. Not to eat it all so fast that you barely get to taste it.

This is what I’ll start saying to myself…”Take yer time girl, yer not running a race.” or maybe I’ll try “Deanne , Deanne, don’t do it just because you can.” It is going to take some adjusting but this fall I want to savour, I want to relish, I want to love what I a;ready have, what has already been done for it is try;y beautiful; and it deserves my full attention.

 

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Catherine Bussiere: this is it

next week, Sunday, I will be writing from … London!
it still doesn’t sound quite real
yet everything around me spells it out

Eric (my husband) is tying things up
painting, touching up cement, getting the house all ready for a cozy winter

Charlotte (my daughter) was done work at the end of September
is done all the homework for her correspondence studies
will do her exams this Tuesday (we leave Thursday)
has been packed for a month

I have been booking tickets, bought insurance, payed bills
I got my website up and running (thanks Michele)
took the cats to Grammy (boohoo we miss them)

So close to departure and feeling like it’s a pretty big deal
It’s the first time we cross the ocean
we’ve been all over North America and down in Mexico
yet this time is different
Is it the fact that we can’t drive there?
must be the ocean
I don’t know

Maybe it’s because we haven’t gone on a big trip for a while
maybe it’s the news
or maybe it’s because these are our last few months with Charlotte before she leaves the coop
Our last fall as a trio
we use to be a quintet
we’re about to be a duo

I don’t know if we’re all a little anxious
for whatever reason
I know I am
even though I can’t pinpoint why

it doesn’t matter
on Thursday night we’ll cross the ocean
on Friday we will meet people
start building new friendship
acquire new skills
fill our eyes with new sights

that is exciting

so, yes, I finally have my website up and running
it’s basic at the moment
it’s like a travel journal at the beginning of a trip
not much in it yet
but it’s coming
I will keep posting here (and on my site) on Sunday but if you get curious about what goes on the rest of the week have a peak www.catherinebussiere.com

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Catherine Bussiere: I love today

today is the light of autumn with the heat of summer
the smells of fallen leaves and the sounds of crickets
the dear fly buzzing around my head as if it were July

today I want it all
I want to do nothing and do everything
I want to sit all day and soak it up
I want to hold it so it doesn’t end
I want to make the most of it and harvest and clean up and trim and get ready
but I don’t really
it’s Sunday and it’s indian summer and if I could I would push on pause

I’ll go visit someone today
I’ll go to the garden and find something to make a nice meal
I will throw myself in the pond for one last time
and run to the sauna if I get cold
or lay in the sun
yes, I will lay in the sun

now there’s a plan

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made apple jelly yesterday

I am productive sometimes

Catherine Bussiere: Back

I am back from a trip to Québec (again)
my mom was giving me her old car (not that old)
I have been without wheels all summer (that was fine)
but the freedom of a car (even an old one that isn’t that old)
is thrilling

it’s an overcast day in Beckwith this morning
we started the day with some of the most amazing almond chocolate croissants I’ve ever had
I picked them up in Trois-Rivières just before I left yesterday in a traditional french bakery
One must love art and tradition
that bakery is the embodiment of that
I must let everyone know in Trois-Rivières
such places must thrive
it’s called “Les Gâteries D’Oli”
Look it up if you’re ever there

I went out for my Sunday morning photo shoot
it’s the end of summer with some things in full maturity and some fading already
I go around my property so often
sometimes I don’t see things anymore
it takes a little walking around to get into it and find a few images that I like
sometimes you must work harder to be content

my Charlie cat follows me around
I have two cats
Buster and Charlie
they couldn’t be more different
in appearance and in temperament
Charlie is the embodiment of the independent cat
yet, pretending he is not, he is following me around
we just happen to go in the same direction (says he)

it is drizzling now as I am typing away
there’s always a little melancholia that follows my return from Quebec
leaving family, culture, language, … new found best croissant ever…

I’ll make tomato sauce later today
time to harvest!

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Stone Builder

Years ago I was at the Grand Pre Winery in Nova Scotia and I was blown away by the stone work around the restaurant there. It was shaded with vines and made you feel as if you might be far away.  This summer we had some stone work done at my place and now I feel like my yard is a far a way place also. I look out there and I can hardly believe it is my yard. So beautiful.

Eric Fresia, the husband of Catherine Bussiere, who blogs here on Sundays, did the work by hand.  Art comes in all kinds of forms. Eric is an artist, as both a musician and a stone mason, he transforms things like artists do. In the past weeks I have been as busy as I have ever been. I love it mind you. I leave the house in the morning and come back at five or six knackered but happy. While I am away Eric has ben working on this puzzle in my back yard. Stone by stone. When I got home last night at 9:30 from a clothing show, it was done. There it was all laid out, piece by piece, a path to my grape vine, the barn, and my woodshed , set up like a little patio. In my own back yard. I’ll send the completed pictures another time, for now you can see the work in progress below.

I think when ever we set out to build something it is important that we do it as beautifully as we can. Whether it be a simple pathway, a lowly woodshed, it does not matter. An artist’s eye cultivates beauty. It can be just as simple to make  things beautiful as it is to make things unsightly.

I am really happy with my little stone yard. I dare say, it’s like a little courtyard even. Tonight after work I am going to fire up the coal barbecue on that stone and cook a nice supper. It makes me happy that I was ab;e to work with another artist to create a bit of beauty back there. Every time I walk out the door , drive in my yard, or look out the window I think…”beautiful”.

Things might as well be lovely.

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Playing Barbies

When I was fourteen I had to give up playing barbies, I did not want to. I just knew I had to because I was getting too old for it. I felt embarrassed that I was still playing. I used to make my own clothes for them. Mostly simple wrap dresses with belts. It was though I did not know it at the time a creative outlet for me. I loved it but I felt pressure to stop. What was a fourteen year old doing playing Barbies?

Today it occurred to me, on the second day of opening, Thirty Church, The Women’s Store across the street from my studio that I had found a way to play Barbies again, it just now that they come in all shapes and sizes.

Men know of course, that all women are beautiful. Women, themselves sometimes forget, that all of us, all our shapes and sizes are wondrous. Size six, or sixteen, it does not matter as long as you are healthy, happy and embrace yourself. We can spend far too much time wishing we had another body shape when in fact the one we have gets us up in the morning and carries us around all day. For that I am grateful. Grateful for every little, or big, bit of myself. I am not trying to make an excuse to eat a bag of kettle cooked chips . I am just trying to stay realistic about myself and be comfortable in my own skin. Watching women the last few days I see so much beauty in that, being comfortable with yourself.

In the last few days I have dressed so many lovely women in all shapes and sizes and I am reminded why I loved playing Barbies. It is so fun to see a woman go into the dressing room with items, then pop out all dressed up, looking good. Women can look so good in clothes. The right colour can brighten their eyes. The right style can turn her into dynamite. I saw it happen today in fact.

Clothes are just clothes of course, but I know that when a woman feels that she looks good, she feels good about herself. Sometimes it is just a simple necklace, or a scarf tossed over a shoulder, perhaps a bright pop of colour that brings an outfit to a new place.Sometimes it is the right cut that brings out the best of her shape. I am new at this and I am learning. I am learning that I love a new adventure, that I love seeing a woman take pride in herself and feel good about what she has on. I am learning that every shape has things that suit it. All women are beautiful. Those men are so smart. Wouldn’t they love to hear that? Don’t tell them. Let’s keep it to ourselves.

P.S. I drew a new rug on the frame today and I have my knitting at the Women’s Store. So no worries I am still at it. 

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Catherine Bussiere: a kettle and a pan

I missed my blog last week
the Bash overtook everything
today you would barely know there was a music festival here
crazy how fast things go

This time of year, pretty much right after the Bash, is my wedding anniversary
To celebrate Eric and I have been going to Advocate at the Wild Caraway where Eric plays some tunes in exchange of a fine meal and a few coins
The Wild Caraway is one of the best place to eat in Nova Scotia
Andrew, the chef, is a passionate cook
The food always surprises me
In every bite I pause to figure out what went into this wonderful explosion of flavor that invades my mouth
Eric and I take different dish so the pleasure is expanded
I love everything about the Wild Caraway
the food, the presentation, the attention to service, the simplicity yet complexity of every dish
Andrew and Sarah use as much local, fresh ingredients as possible
Several options last night included Chanterelles
Straight from the woods
The potatoes salad I ate tasted smoky!!
How did he do that?
Home made smoked sour cream.
Every bite is a wonder
every bite is exciting
every bite is a delight

After the show Eric and I went camping on the stretch of beach between the Ottawa House and Partridge island in Parrsboro
Whenever visitors come to Cumberland County I always refer two places to go to:
The Wild Caraway and Partridge island
(of course there’s Cape d’Or and Chignecto, and Fiber Fest; the list goes on…)
That beach is one of the most stunning place Eric and I have ever camped at
and we’ve camped by the Grand Canyon, the Red Woods and Joshua Tree National park

When we got there we parked by a picnic table, built a little fire, admired the starry night, listened to the water bubbling through the rocks as the tide was coming up. There was nobody on the beach.

The next morning was the funnest part
I had packed up everything for a fine breakfast
a little kettle for hot water was all the was needed for a cup of cowboy coffee
a camping pan, fried up to perfection a couple fish cakes and some eggs
I had brought some hollandaise sauce (Fancy!) I had picked some blackberries and cherry tomatoes the day before, we had bagels and home made rhubarb sauce

I was playing Wild Caraway in the wild
fine food enjoyed in one of the most stunning scenery in the world
with a kettle, a pan, a fire, fine ingredients, a gentleman and a glass of wine
(that was a first for breakfast but I highly recommend it)

it was simple and grand

I love Nova Scotia for that
It’s rugged, it’s beautiful, it’s majestic yet there’s hardly anybody here.

Precious.

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Catherine Bussiere: August 3rd

our field is getting cut today
on August 16th we are hosting a small festival and there is much to prep before hand
the field which becomes parking space and camping space must be mowed

I went for a walk
thinking critters by now must be done with nesting
I hope
beware critters the big mower is coming

I haven’t gone in the field in a while
a while could be as much as a day or two
or a week or so
this time of year it only takes a day
so much grows, transforms in a day

I was looking at the field wanting to embrace it all with my lens
I have been limited since I broke my embrace it all lens
limitation has it’s good side
you must do with what you got
so I looked at things closely
I always marvel when I do that
the simplest flower blows me away


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Legends in their own time…. Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mabley came to town

Sometime in the eighties I came across the work of Kaffe Fasset and like most of the people who see it I was stunned. Over the years I ran into it again and again and always I was inspired when I saw it. Mostly , like an artist I wanted to deconstruct it. I looked at the layers of colours , the materials used and tried to  see how he did what he did. That is how artists often look at other artists work.

After reading his biography, A Life in Colour, in 2012, when Megan Ingman asked me if we could bring anyone to town, without hesitation I said Kaffe Fasset. His biography told the story of his life and his art and I was interested in meeting him. I liked the way he created so much and there was so much abundance in his work. I knew he had to work fast and instinctually and that is the kind of artist I am most interested in. I was not dissapointed.

I think that if anyone has any questions about  craft being art Kaffe Fasset has already answered them in his work. He is an artist with a vivid imagination. He makes knitting art.  It was great to have him in town for five days. He did a talk on Friday night with a slideshow at the Baptist Church. Because of the stained glass windows and the evening light filtering in we could not see the colour as well but that was no fault of theirs. Still people had a good time. He talked mainly about his inspiration for colour and how he found it .

The bonus of having Kaffe is that Brandon Mabley his studio partner joined him on this tour.  Brandon is  as astute and sensitive an artist as I have ever met. He sees and he does, it is as simple as that. Together they create art quilts, needle point, rugs, paintings, drawings, knitting, the list goes on. They have been partners in the studio for nearly twenty five years and they work together daily with immense respect for each other.

The following four days were workshops. Three on Colour with Kaffe and Brandon and one on knitting with Brandon.  Before they came to town I had no assumptions about how it might go. I just assumed they were artists who when not teaching would want to do their own thing. My job was to get them here so they could do the workshops. It turned out that my job was also to feed them, and in doing so I got to enjoy their company every night. We’d eat a good home made supper at my house then sit and do handwork for an hour or two. It was lovely.

The workshops themselves used rag rugging as they refer to it to help you understand colour. What they wanted was to help people identify colour and use it in their mats freely and easily. They were not the typical workshops we are used to where it is a bit of a free for all. One woman said, “You just have to be ready for it, this is a workshop with a true artist, not someone from your local guild.”  Those were her words not mine! 

I knew what she meant. You were working in the presence of a master, some who had devoted his whole life to colour and textiles. It wasn’t just a hobby for him it was the meaning of his life. He used textiles art to express himself, to create meaning in his life, to show himself to the world. Together they played a good cop , bad cop role with Kaffe being the task master and Brandon softening the blows.  They wanted people to get right down to work. They played lively music through out the day and they discouraged talking. As Brandon said in his knitting workshop, “Don’t ask the woman next to you, ask me, that’s why I am here.” He explained to me that he wanted people to get into their projects and he did not want their rhythm to be interrupted. They worked hard all day. It was the same in the colour workshops, they discouraged chatting, no time was wasted with introductions and where you are from, they just got right down to business. It was a workshop about being an artist because that is what being an artist is really like. You put your head down and go at it, diligently and sometimes with fervour. You work alone mostly and you let the rhythm of your work and the colours lead you.

This was a shock for some who have attended. As rug hookers we are used to a gab fest. Kafffe and Brandon really promoted a quiet environment where you worked diligently along. The harder and faster you hooked the happier they were.  Everyone agreed it was an experience, and the majority loved it. A few were taken aback or imagined that it would be different. Most people who came had been planning it for almost a year. It was an event in our community and I am proud that I got to host it. Just spending the day with someone who has contributed so much to creativity in textiles was the experience. As one participant Sally Austin said, “Really, it is just about hanging out with Kaffe.” If you read his books you would quickly learn that the way the workshop was presented was how he works himself. He looks outside of himself for colour and pattern inspiration and that is what he was trying to inspire the participants to do.

For me I can tell you it was a beautiful week because I got to spend time with two great artists who know so much about the textile industry. They were generous and sharing of their thoughts and ideas. They were easy to please and to feed. On the third night I said, “Tomorrow I can get you lobster.” They said , ” Sure.” but as the conversations continued it came out that they’d be just as happy with chicken. They did not want to put me out and did not need  a fuss. Chicken it was. I liked that very much. Simplicity and ease.

The week was an definitive experience for everyone who particpated , including me. I learned stuff. On the last night when Brandon and Kaffe took Megan and Denny out to dinner we were talking about knitting and I said something about my yarn getting tangled, Kaffe, the tall man that he is was standing over the table and in a very firm and clear voice he pointed at me and said , “You need to read my book.” Then he held out his strong arms about two feet apart, and admonished me, “manageable lengths…it’s in the book, manageable lengths.” I heard him, it made practical sense, and I smiled. There I was being bossed around by Kaffe Fasset.

 

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Brandon is leaning in about to offer some advice. One woman said she got up from her chair. When she cam back she found Brandon hooking on her piece.

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Erin Mckenna and Susan Morin working away.

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Charlene was lost in her work. That is what they were aiming for, trying to get people to that “flow”

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Celia Charlton finished her piece in record time…Kaffe and Brandon kept chanting hook faster. They were not worried about the loop but the whole. Kaffe is looking on at a someone else’s work.

 

 

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The Cape Breton Contingent are hearing what he has to say. They were ready for it. What a marvellous group they were.

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Brandon jumps in after Kaffe has his two cents worth. We laughed because Brandon would say one thing, then Kaffe another. It was part of their charm and honesty, confusing but the truth is you ultimately have to decide for yourself what goes here in your piece.

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Catherine Bussiere: Kaffe

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my daughter and I had a delightful time at Kaffe Fasset’s presentation the other night
what a fantastic feat to be able to get such inspiration in our little town
the things I took home from Fasset’s presentation is that inspiration is everywhere
in your garden, in that old faded rug, at the flea market
it’s about having your eyes open
having an urge to create
to process what you see and put it into your own creation
it is for everyone
everyone who dares
it is not limited to the educated
it does not have to be thought out
it just is for whoever wants to embark and do
it may takes years
it may take a moment
it does not matter

the church was full on Friday evening
filled with people who makes art and craft
what a soothing sight
thanks Deanne and Megan and everyone at “this world class shop” to keep engaging people to create beauty everyday
thumbs up!

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Catherine Bussiere: abstract in pink

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Abstract: existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence

can abstract be a feeling
can I be feeling abstract today
this word is imposing itself as I sit down to write

I went outside this morning not knowing what my post would be about
today is the first anniversary of my sister’s passing
what does that mean anyway: today
as if any other day didn’t matter
as if abstract doesn’t apply to that situation every single day

I went out with my camera realizing I hadn’t taken any pictures in a few days
I walked around feeling rusty
it’s only been a few days
why can’t I see anything

by the pond the most simple of roses
the wild one with four or five petals
was attracting all sorts of pollen hungry critters
I like critters
I stood there for a while snapping away
guessing none would be keepers
yet, as if stretching, I clicked away

I thought about the color pink
(I really thought “rose” because that is the word used in french for both the color and the flower)
pink isn’t my color of choice
not in clothing anyway
but what a soothing and beautiful color

I went on to look for more
other roses around
I looked into them
looked at texture, hue, qualities

today framing wasn’t about representation
it reflected how I felt
without really knowing
it summed itself up
in abstract and pink

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Catherine Bussiere: passion

If you read my previous blogs you know that I spent some time with family in Quebec.

I’ve been back for I week now and I miss them all already.

During my stay I spent a lot of time with my nephew Eliot and my niece Léonie.

It was precious.

For them I made this short video. It’s about passion, creativity, beauty, nature. It’s a little dreamy thanks to the music by Chan Wai Fat.

The commentary, by Eliot, is in french.

Here is the translation:

“I make flies since I’m 6 or 7. It’s my dad that showed me. I like it a lot. Since then I make lots.”

“I like to know that this fly will go on the water, fish will see it. It’s fun when you catch a fish and it’s you that made the fly.”

“I like to fish because; you’re on the water, you see fish, you’re in nature, all of those things that brings you close to nature.”

“When I’m fishing… I feel like… with all my equipment, in the middle of the river… I feel good… I don’t know how to say it… I lose a bit the notion of time… I can stay there a long time… so much I like it… That’s it.”

 

Diane Krys: Artful Gardening

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Some years my backyard patio is chock full of blooming pots and other years I feel like I only need to plant a few for colour. For many summers my plant containers were found objects like vintage kitchen canisters or rusty buckets from my dad’s farm. I’ve even used old metal bedsprings as trellises. Lately, I’ve taken a simplified approach with a few groupings of plain terra cotta planters. My patio is not so different from the interior of my home where I like to change things up.

Our outdoor spaces are another canvas for our creativity and they can evolve over time. My back yard has dramatically changed over the years. When we realized we couldn’t keep up the giant garden we inherited we consoled ourselves with all the great farmer’s markets we could support and went for a “clearing in the woods” look by planting an abundance of hardy, low maintenance trees and shrubs. For a city space my yard might be considered over treed and a little on the wild side but I love how it attracts the birds and makes me feel like I’m living in the country instead of a hop,skip and jump from downtown.

I used to keep thriving raspberry canes in check using discarded black metal store fixtures until our maturing trees obstructed the light and dwindled the raspberry patch.  I enjoyed this black tubular “sculpture”  intertwined with tasty raspberries until our butternut tree grew into it’s full magnificence. We now enjoy it’s waterfall of graceful palmate leaves instead. I find it incredibly beautiful to watch nature take it’s course; the energy and vigour, and the quiet recessions. Gardening is like a call and response dance between nature’s impulses and our own; ever changing and always surprising.

I marvel when we can harmonize with nature and bring our own creativity to the mix. When I travel I love taking photographs of these artful expressions. Here’s a few photos that inspire me from trips I took to our east and west coasts. What’s going on in your garden?

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I’ve launched my new blog on my new website, pop in for a visit if you have a minute!

Catherine Bussiere: light

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I was out first thing this morning
the sun just at the rim of the tree line
lighting up every piece of greenery
all covered with dew
the air still fresh from the cool night

beauty filled my eyes
urgency to capture the light

isn’t it interesting how we can marvel over and over
how many times
how many blossoms
it comes again and again
yet I marvel every single time