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: 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: Mr. Robert

monsieur Robert
is a gentleman
of provencal decent

at 82 (almost three)
he embodies
the essence of his time

one short meeting
and we are invited to his dwelling on the hill
an offer to a typical meal follows

salade sauvage is on the menu
excited we walk alongside the wise men through the olive grove
looking for a leaf an another that really
to me
looks like dandelion

the cabanon is simple and oh so cozy
in the corner an open fire burns
I – love – the – fire – place
it looks like olden days
later he will put a grill on the coals and roast some lamb chops
cooking on an open fire in an open room
I want this

Monsieur Robert speaks provencal
he speak french with a southern accent like everyone here
but he also speaks provencal
which has it’s own twist and flavor and sounds a little spanish to me
way cool

the meal starts with “l’apéro”
today an anise liqueur diluted in water
one may add currant syrup and call it “une tomate”
one could add mint syrup instead and call it “un perroquet”
fruit or bird it’s a good way to start off

we try anchoïade on croutons
anchoïade is an anchovy paste mixed with garlic and olive oil
yes, it is salty
and what is salty is also tasty
and addictive
add needs to be washed down with “l’apéro”
one must know how to dose
it’s all good

Monsieur Robert made us a “gratin dauphinois”
the french are very clever in naming dish
all sounds terribly fancy
when in fact all is mostly terribly rich
a gratin dauphinois is a potato casserole with lots of cream, some garlic
it is topped with cheese and if that was not enough Monsieur Robert likes to finish off with a yolk glaze
now we all have to agree that gratin dauphinois does sound regal
and it is
hence the spelling

Monsieur Robert treats us well
the chops are cooked to perfection
wine is served
conversation flows
all are content

then
after a little while
when we think we are done
one realize we forgot the salad
“Oh mon Dieu!” we can’t skip the wild one
and so it is washed and dressed and we all get a good portion

at the table I am facing: my daughter Charlotte, my son Isaac and his beautiful fiancée Haley
as we are all eating the most bitter salad we ever got to taste
(imagine a full bowl of dandelion leaves)
I refrain a growing amount of laughter from cascading out
everyone’s face is slightly distorted as we chew
it simply tastes awful
to our palate lets be clear
we’re just not use to this
we all do our best and mostly finish it all
Monsieur Robert, innocently asks us how we like it
he knows
secretly he is having fun with us Canadian

hours later after coffee, a shot of Chartreuse, some ice cream
after the game of Rugby
on tv
Toulon won
that was a good thing
hours later we leave
cheek, cheek, kiss, kiss
with this provencal saying:
“À l’an que vèn ! Se sian pas mai, que siguen pas mens”
which means:
“Until next year! If we are not more, let’s not be less”

Thank you monsieur Robert

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new this week: a french post on my website

 

Catherine Bussiere: flipping the pages of the dictionary

once in a while
for fun
curiosity
for lack of inspiration
or for advice
we flip the pages of the dictionary
and get a word

it’s surprising what it tells you sometime

recently my husband did just that
the word he got was: complaining
now I kinda hope he’s not reading my blog this week but
he has been complaining lately
of course it made me smile
to be fair though, maybe he needed to complain a little

my blog this morning was already started
the tittle, monotone, was inspired by the morning scenery
the blog wasn’t really going anywhere
I was getting bored with it
even though it is so pretty outside

so I flipped the pages of the dictionary and my finger landed on…
well, it landed under “on” and more specifically under “on and on”

what does that mean?
does it relate to my husband and the complaining
that would have been too easy

I looked back at the dictionary
it said
on and on: at great length, so as to become tiresome
oh!
is it my blog
my monotone first draft I did not know what to do with
is it a response to it
monotone does have two on

I know what you’re thinking
I’m over thinking this
True, but hey, still is fun
I was stuck in monotone and now my mind is going “on and on”

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Catherine Bussiere: relativity

Christmas has just gone by and there is still New Years to come
yet this morning it feels like the holidays are coming to a close
one of my son is leaving for Cape Breton to be with his loved one
My holidays revolve pretty much around family
family home = celebration
family gone = back to routine
it’s not back to routine yet but it’s looming

Last night we had a little get together
a couple of friends were coming over for supper and last minute we decided to invite a few more
I’ve been wanting to have people over but with all these storms and holiday commitment  I was about to let it go by
last night was just perfect
We had plenty of food and on the spur of the moment my husband just made a couple calls
everyone showed up

I love to mix people up
People that may not know each other
different generation and background
all sitting around the table the conversation never stopped

After much delicious foods we kicked everyone out to go sliding
There really wasn’t any option
so these grown up friends
found themselves on crazy carpets
after what may have been 20 years or more
funny how we stop doing certain things
the sheer joy of sliding down a hill
the inevitable screams of joy
brought everyone back to their childhood

so
much
fun

it really is my favorite winter sport
if it is a sport

as the New Year is coming around
I have on my list to revisit simple pleasures
one thing has been
listening to records
thanks to my daughter who got a record player for Christmas
what a treat

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: food and friendship

I was away this week end
amongst other things, I was visiting a good friend of mine who is moving away
it was a last chance to see her for a while
she is moving to Korea for several months and who knows where after that
as there is hardly anything left in her apartment I suggested that I would bring fresh goods from my garden and cook for her
aside from garden produce I had a prize item that I knew she would appreciate

for the past few months my husband has been passionate about wild mushrooms
if not everyday, every second day he will walk the woods to see what may have popped up
lately he has been searching for the great king bolete
it’s bolete season you see
in Italian it called porcini
whatever it’s called it is a star mushroom for any food aficionado

last Thursday my diligent men found “the king”
just imagine the excitement in the house
well that is for me and my husband
my lovely daughter could care less about fungus at the moment
someday maybe
so with whom could we share this wonderful treat?

turns out it was with my lovely friend Ambera

I do not have pictures of the meal I made for her in her empty apartment
where all that was left for tools was one small cutting board, two pots and a sharp knife
no more chairs or table
we were camping in the city
turns out all you need for a fabulous meal is a handful of fresh ingredients and good spirit

Before we left for the city I had picked : tomatoes, leeks, red onion, green beans, basil, parsley, I had a bulb of garlic and had brought some fresh homemade vinaigrette
Of course there was the king, all prepped up by my husband ready to be cooked
I bought red wine, cream and fresh linguini

Ambera had butter, salt and pepper
she had paper plates and plastic cups
and another bottle of wine

As soon as we arrived the first bottle was open
as they sat on the kitchen floor I got busy
First the leeks, cleaned and thinly chopped lengthwise
in a pan with melted butter I made them caramelize
just enough, then added the string beans with a little salt

that’s done
set it aside

chopped tomatoes, red onion and basil
put that on a plate with the vinaigrette
done

then,
so exciting because you know when you make something for the first time and you just know it’s bound to be delicious,
I melted a good chunk of butter and threw the kings in
I had them sautéed for a while until just brown
I added that whole bulb of garlic (minced)
mixed it a little and put in the rest of the first bottle of wine

by then there was about 1/2 cup left

I let that reduce as Ambera opened the second bottle

the wine was going down nicely and so was the conversation

when my wine had reduced to about a tablespoon (the one in the pan) I added the cream (1 cup of 35%)
you can’t go wrong with cream
In the meantime I had had the pasta cooking
by the time my cream had reduced (not too much) I added the parsley and the pasta and lovingly tossed that ensemble

I served my love and my friend
the paper plates filled with a meal fit for a king
glorious in it’s simplicity

on the floor of Ambera’s empty kitchen
we savored our friendship
in the most beautiful way
without artifice

with warmth, king boletes
and
oh what the heck, lets open one more bottle

 

 

 

 

knitting and bananas

Well my head is no longer smarting from the bang I got earlier in the week. Both children are back in school. One is twenty, the other sixteen. They require little of me to get them back in the swing of things. I do a little laundry, and they go about their business. It is September, that lovely month when we savour routine. Last night I baked a chicken. The house was damp and cold. I stuffed it with Quinoa, onion, feta , cranberries and celery. Then I made these quinoa and chick pea burgers, thinking I would have lots of food around for my family and friends that come and go.

With in minutes, my daughter walked in with three from her soccer team after soccer try outs. We devoured it all happily. After supper I showed the girls a great trick. It is this:

If you take a Kraft Caramel, and put it in your mouth with a few salted peanuts you have salted caramel, and it is really good. I went for a walk and they finished the bag of caramels and put a dent in the peanuts. I love feeding them it is a pleasure. Especially when I have good trick pony like that to show them. Who needs dessert when you are smart.

Like my daughter, she just melts some peanut butter and chocolate chips together and eats it. Who needs to make a pan of squares when you got that trick.

Salted peanuts are also good on ice cream. I just wanted you to know that in case you ever needed it. Particularly good on maple walnut ice cream.

Ice cream is a great staple. Like you can just fry a banana in butter, throw on some pecans and maple syrup , put it over ice cream, and pretend you are in a restaurant. You can even go out and leave the dishes in the sink, and maybe someone will do them while you are out. Let me know how that goes.

So then, after they ate us out of house and home, which truthfully, I love,  I made a Chicken Soup, the first soup of the fall.

The evening was cold so I even shut the studio windows that remain open til October usually.

I love the chill of the fall. You get to wear your sweaters. You get to wear your scarves. I wore my second knitted scarf to work today. The first one has to be unravelled. The third one is on round needles and is coming along nicely.

Did you know you can get real whipped cream in a can? It comes out in a nice swirl.

Is it really real I wonder ? This week I am going to buy a can, and I am going to show the soccer girls my fried banana trick, and I am going to embellish it with the cream. Fried bananas are not very pretty.

Sweaters and ice cream, I have to tie this post together, and the thing they have in common, is well, they both can sometimes benefit from a little embellishment, or of course some times each are perfectly good on their own. How was that?

A stretch? Sweaters are stretchy but not bananas.

Perhaps you have had enough of this. I’ll stop now and let you get back to your handwork.

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Catherine Bussiere: boat rides and pies

it’s a drizzly day today
the sun is trying hard to break through
birds are hopping around delighted by all the worms coming out of the ground
my cats are sleeping
radio is playing
it’s a lovely Sunday morning

we’ve been invited my husband and I to a boat ride later today
If you’re thinking fancy styling boat think again
my friend who is man of all trade has inherited this old pontoon party boat
every time he invites us for a ride it is somewhat of an adventure
the tide is too low
we just about run out of gas
you never know
being a mechanic you feel safe enough that if something breaks he can repair it
plus we’re going down a river
we all can swim
the river’s edge is never too far

one thing that is always a given is that there will be plenty of delicious food
my friends love to eat and so do we

to add to the picnic today I will bring a fresh baked rhubarb pie
I have a huge patch of rhubarb in my garden and I just ignore the fact that rhubarb has a season and that the season may be over
as long as I see rhubarb there is potential for pies

Here is my recipe for 3 double crust pies

For the crust:

5 1/2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 pound of shortening
about 1 cup of cold water with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (sometimes I mix an egg in my water)

Mix all dry ingredients well. Cut in the shortening until the shortening bits look like bits of oats. Add the liquid. Mix as little as you can to make it hold.
Put aside in the fridge until ready to roll.

Rhubarb filling:

You will need about 6 cups of cut rhubarb per pie and the sugar ratio is 1 cup of sugar for 4 cups of rhubarb. It’s neither too sweet or too tart.

18 cups of cubed rhubarb
4 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cups of flour (or tapioca)

The flour or tapioca acts as a thickening agent. Cooked rhubarb is really runny and no matter what, the juice from my pies always bubbles over and makes a mess in my oven.
If smoke is coming out of my kitchen chances are I’m cooking rhubarb pie.

Alright, I better smoke my kitchen

 

 

Look with Lorna

Hi Everyone, I would like to introduce you to Denny. She is Megan’s friend from Toronto  visiting for the week. We had fun learning about her and I think we taught her a few things as well. Norma was talking about going clamming and to our surprise Denny or Megan had no idea what that was. So on Wednesday I bought her a nice treat of fresh clams to try. I think she is hooked!  I did bring them another treat on Friday, chocolate puddin’ pie but honestly it was just because I knew I could eat the whole pie if I left it at home.

Denny

 

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Instead of Kiss the Cod, it’s Kiss the Quahog.

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This is what Denny was working on while she was here.

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Pie 009

 

Catherine Bussiere: to catch a whirlwind

I spent the day with Deanne yesterday
As you may know she has created a new online course about hooking people
She asked me out of the blue a week ago if we could shoot a video
I didn’t ask much, I said sure, when

There’s no point asking too much
I like working with Deanne
it’s always a little bit of a challenge and it’s always fun
so I just say yes

Working with her is like trying to capture a whirlwind
you never quite know which way it’s gonna go
Be ready, place your nets around and hope for the best

I had to be bossy a couple time
I actually had to take her sharpie away from her
when she wasn’t able to stop herself from moving on when the cameras were not rolling
Sure enough a sharpie magically appeared in her hands again
There is no stopping her

I tell you

I love seeing someone create
it is beautiful and somewhat magical all at once
In front of me over the course of the day
I saw different figures appear
as Deanne was talking away
I heard the story of these woolen figure come to life
In a group of sisters one got a flamboyant red dress
Not to be left out, pouting
the one in plain blue
was given a colorful scarf
She seemed content after that

No doubt
whoever is in for that course
is in for a good time
No one gets left out

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Catherine Bussiere: Joy

 

In a place called Sunset where forgotten residents live
a place regulated by the hours meals are served and duties done
where people like you and me for reason unknown or by natures draw
have ended there
People of all ages
people in need
in need of physical care
that can be charted and checked
and spiritual care
that can be forgotten or overseen
In this place I saw Joy like I have never before
I saw a woman who’s face shone so bright that all who surrounded her were lit by it
This woman whom I don’t really know
except that she is a musician and is employed at Sunset
has been getting live music happening once a week for a couple hours
in the heart of Sunset
I was invite to see
because my husband is a musician and because I am a filmmaker
We walked in and were welcome into the cuckoo’s nest
The music made was chaos at times and bliss at others
But for every time a resident picked up a shaker, a harmonica, banged on the drums or hummed to the tune the women’s face shone brighter and her smile got wider
And so it was contagious
and it went round and round
I was introduced and welcome
I gorged on the faces around me
Like old forgotten beacons
all were lit and engaged in the ongoing music
The women kept the fire going
Offering, feeding, engaging, never pushing
A little man went up to the drum set
for the first time
bewildered like a child who’s been given a magic wand
and like a child with only a few teeth
he came back stumbling around
after his first performance
asking
How did I do, how did I do
Joy, I tell you, is that smile and the one responding
You did great

 

These photos are not from Sunset, they are from a trip I took years ago in Honduras where I produced a short film about niños especiales (special children)

The older lady is from a center for elders that I visited at the time.

The image of the upside down laughing child is my daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Krys: A MOvember Memory

Formerly know as November, MOvember inspires moustache mania around the world. Growing a moustache is a bit of manly fun to promote prostate cancer awareness, as well as, raise funds for this serious mens’ health issue. Manly yes, but they can sprout up in unlikely places too.  I’ve even seen a baby soother with a wee moustache. I thought that was tops until I took Mum and Dad out for lunch to Uncle Ed’s last week. Uncle Ed’s is a local mecca for home made Ukrainian food and deli fare. I was so busy settling myself and the folks into a booth I didn’t notice anything unusual at first. Then Louise and her jaunty moustache came over to take our order. All the waitresses were sporting staches! They had donned the dark, hairy, pyrogy dusters for the entire month of MOvember. What a bold sense of humor and commitment. They weren’t just wearing them for a fun photo, they wore them day in, day out as they went about their work.  It was a riot to see them bustling around like it was the most normal thing in the world to have a nicer moustache than Tom Selleck.  With a chuckle  and a heart full of gratitude for those daring, lovely lady staches,  I watched my 83 year old father tuck into his cabbage rolls. Thanks to early detection and treatment a number of years ago, we were enjoying a lunch out  with dear Dad now.    Well done ladies!   Добре зроблені жінки! 

They call themselves “STACHE BANDITS”

 For more  on MOvember check out the website. Stache Bandits are registered on Movember.com. Their captain is Kristi Kastelien.

 

Thanks for stopping in, I’ll be back on the 10th!

4 rooms

by Catherine Bussiere

there is a distant buzz, a chatter, laughter
walking through the first two rooms
wools of all colors
on shelves, hanging, posing
woman, looking, feeling, pondering
busy hands cutting, arranging, tying
I walk in another room
the dying kitchen invites me to dream
long skein of wool hanging
pots, dye, washing machine, filled with promises
the chatter is louder
I enter the last room
it is everywhere
in all forms and shapes
busy hooks
backing of all kinds
piles of wool cuttings
a sense of community, of joy, of ease
and the best
the infinite variation of design
from the hands holding the hook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a little bit of a beauty tip is a dangerous thing

Dear Diary, When I was in my twenties I told my mother, “I’ll never wear lipstick.” She said, “Wait til you are in your forties.” I love lipstick now. The smell of it, the way the slick tube rolls up makes me think of mom. She was right.

A few weeks ago I learned about buffing my nails. Brenda Told me I could buff those little ridges of my thumbs if I wanted to. I wanted to. Vain? Yes, definitely.

Then she told me that you could buff your nails to make them shiny. I promptly bought a buffer at the grocery store. I used the rough side to file off the ridges. Then I used it on all my nails. Vigorously. It never occured to me that this was not necessary, or that I was filing off the strenth in my nails.Then I buffed them so shiny it looked like I had polished them. I was proud of myself, proud of my upkeep, kinda like I was keeping a tidy house.

The word “unkempt” is not unfamiliar to me. I was feeling well kept. Then, because a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, my nails started getting really weak and cracking. My nails started cracking and now several of my fingernails lok as if they have been chewed to the quick. Never having been a nail biter, I don’t much like the look or feel of these stubby over filed, over buffed weaklings. I over did it. I went at my nails with that buffer like I go at a pan of peanut butter fudge. With too much vigor and I feel terrible afterwards.

I have learned though. There is nothing better than a great beauty tip, well except when you mix it with a dose of common sense. I think I will try that next time.

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how to eat a cookie

Dear Diary, I watched a little friend eating a cookie at the soccer field the other day and I thought, “Now that’s the way to eat a cookie, slow and deliberate, enjoying every bite.” The thing is though she did not have to” focus and be mindful”. She did not have to remind herself to slow down and enjoy. She was a natural at the art of cookie eating. She nibbled, and savoured and enjoyed every last the bite. In fact that last bit was in her hand for a few minutes. After she ate it, she licked her fingers, slowly of course. There was no gobbling, no stuffing it into you, no devouring. It was just as if she were queen of the slow food movement. This girl knew how to eat a cookie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does wool do this to you?

This post got lost last week when I transferred servers so here it is again…too good too loose

I work with Brenda. She is serious and kind and lovely and she can turn her hand at

anything. I am jealous of her that way…..the way she can do everything…but still I love her cause she shares her talent..She looks like this sometimes…

 

Then last week when I came back to the studio with a pile of wool she  changed from this ( see above) to this ( see below) ….. look what a nice pile of wool can do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the man on the street…live from downtown amherst

 

Dear Diary, My husband, Robert, never touches the computer but last year he got an iPhone and he has started collecting hundreds of videos on his little phone. From the 108 year old lady from Centennial Villa, to Coal Miners who were underground in Springhill, to me on the phone in the kitchen. Some of them are interesting, but others like me on the phone, well not so much. There have been all kinds of moments that he has captured. His phone is the kind you like to borrow when you have a minute.

It is full of little impromptu street videos, little encounters he has as he says, “live from downtown Amherst.”  Some of them are really funny.

He has also made a few funny ones, and of course that takes a local character with lots of colour, like  our friend Carl Leblanc who introduces us to “hank” in this video called, “Look Hank”. Too funny, slightly risqué, if you find men’s underwear risqué.

Keith who works next door at Mansour’s really likes these new Saxx underwear, and he loves to sell them….wears them himself I guess.  Robert gets a kick out of him selling them so he made this little video, and he has a lot of fun with it.

So here you go, Liver from downtown Amherst….

“Look Hank” by Robert Mansour, staring Keith Cormier and Carl Leblanc and of course, there’s Hank

 

duct tape when neccessary

Dear Diary, My bag, my fancy black bag that holds my office, that  being, phone,camera, sketch book, pen, lipstick, hand cream and thumb drives was getting threadbare at the exact spot where I hang it on the hook. It was fraying around the edges, feeling like me  sometimes. I kept thinking I might fix it with wool, then one day I saw my roll of black duct tape.  I had an “aha” moment.

I love those .

I grew up wrapping Christmas presents with my fathers black electrical tape. . We never seemed to have scotch tape or paper. Creativity was all about what you could make up in mind or pretend. It was about makin’ do and shuttin’ up about it.

When  he needed to fix the toaster cord , he would have to ask me “.. where is the black tape?” So you see I have a sweet spot for black tape. Black duct tape is even sweeter. My bag is saved for another round of beating, banging, and all around abuse.

black duct tape…. thank you

 

 

What’s wrong with this picture ?

Dear Diary, Lorna actually made this post… So remember I found a desk in the basement and am no longer working on a table. Well Lorna has gotten all risen up, kinda Norma Rae about it, and made this post cause she is working on the impossible but pretty desk, so it seems that we need to find her a desk too. There is actually another one in the basement that we’ll haul up but it means moving a counter. When I left yesterday her and Katherine put this together with this message…..

“Sorry Deanne you shouldn’t leave Katherine and me alone…HAHA”

Meanwhile I was home hooking my rug, innocently, sweetly, thinking about how I could get Lorna established in a new desk. I was also cooking yellow eyed beans, and listening to the audio for the course, and snacking on dates, and thinking that the rug I am making is the best yet ( I love that phase in the rug making) and downtown at the studio there was a coup.

Who knew?

Better call the carpenters.

 

 

beauty, function, funky…..at the rug hooking studio

 Megan Lewis of Gallery 8 took this photo of my basement stairs, the plainest of things can be lovely, there is hope for the filing cabinet…I hope I do not have to paint it red.

 

Dear Diary, The basement of the building that  I work in has a life time of stuff in it. Several life times probably. There was a photography studio, and an insurance company in the building for years. So when ever I need something it is the first place I look. In the midst of looking for a table today I found a desk, an old oak desk with six drawers, one of them a file drawer. I went next door to ask if I could permanently borrow it. The answer…”Yes, we did not know it was there.” . Lorna’s son Luke, and her husband Ronnie moved it upstairs for me. I washed the dirt off it, and sprayed it with a nice natural cleanser, did a little happy dance ( not on the desk…I never thought of that) , and got to work sorting thing out. Thing is my desk was my old kitchen table that I got for $5 at a sale years ago, so now I have the long table that I needed as well.

I also needed a counter height sideboard to put a coffee pot on in the out back studio, my workshop room. I said to Brenda,”What about that old three drawer file cabinet with the shelves, the  dark greeny blue one.”

She said, “It’s ugly.”

Most people agree with her but I have an unexplainable fondness for this old cabinet. It is right out of the fifties, and is as functional as a milking cow. The thing is so useful. I like the handles on the drawers. I said, “I’ll make it interesting.” She rolled her eyes, and helped me drag the drawers up. I washed it good, and now even as I write this my head keeps rolling back to that cabinet as I think what can I do with that thing to spark it up. I said to her I might glue polka dots on to, or cover it with magnets. I could hear her, even though she was only talking in her head…”She was saying I’m outta here tomorrow for my vacation.., so it’s not gonna be me who puts polka dots on that stupid thing.”

I bet she’ll read this blog on her vacation and tilt her head back laughing , at me here, with another puzzle….another challenge, “Just how do you make an army blue green file cabinet beautiful?”

I’ll find a way. If it is not beautiful at least it will be interesting, and if it is not interesting, at least it will be functional.

 

Even the oddest plainest things can be interesting, even beautiful in some weird kinda way.

nine books for deanne fitzpatrick

Dear Diary, Today I went to Flow and had a really good coffee. Upon leaving I said, “I have to go….the library is about to close.” She was chatting away, and I said, “You cannot talk to me any more. I am leaving I need books.” On the way in a rush to the library, I saw my friend Mike, and I knew he’d want to chat, I said, “If you want to chat with me , walk with me. I need books” .

He was bewildered. He walked with me fast. I needed books.

We got to the library, our temp one that has odd hours while the real one is being fixed.” I opened the door..”Yes I thought I’m in. ” I thought.

They said, “We are closed”. ” “We do not open for another for another ten minutes.”

Mike pokes his head in, he wants to teach the library lessons about customer service or something, saying why not let her in. I see what’s happening, the librarians are just arriving, they are frazzled. He is a negotiator. He just wanted the challenge of talking his way into that library. I wanted to stay in good stead with the librarians. They give me books for free. I am not about to piss them off.

I  pulled on Mikes coat , said, “Leave them alone, come with me, and we walk back to his office, and had a good chat.

I went back to the temporary library cause it was opening at four , not closing. I picked out a few books while she got the sweet child who had lost his card a  new library card so he could rent movies and books for free. Good deal, I say.

I waited my turn, and said, “…there is a book here for me.” She said, ” a book…there is nine books here for you”.

Nine books. I did a little dance. Some will be great, some not so great, but still a pile of books for my shelf. A pile a books to wait for me. A pile of books that lets me walk away from a dull read just cause I feel like it. Now why would I torment the librarians. Mike wouldn’t really either, but he’d like to talk about it.

So as I was checking out she said, “Next week we are back to our library regular hours and location.” Amherst has a beautiful library, but sadly, it was painted dusty rose through out the inside. I always felt the colour of the library was a smear on literature but I never said much about it because librarians give me books for free.

So I said, ..thinking, “Please for the love and honour of Mordecai Richler, let them have changed the colour.”… and “What colour did you paint the library?”

and they said,”… soft yellow with  an indigo blue sorta  purple stripe.”

And I smiled, and thanked all the author saints in the sky.I am looking forward to seeing the old library  looking new again, and the pink having passed on, and yellow lighting up minds…

imagine why she is so happy? the answer is books

 

 

 

winter warm up

Dear Diary, I have a thing for foamy hot drinks but I do not want a big fancy machine because my kitchen is tiny, well comparative to all those kitchens on house hunters but is that reality? Most of us have modest kitchens, and perhaps a little dose of kitchen envy to go with the few cupboards and limited counter space. My kitchen might be small but it’s nice. It might not be clean but it’s tidy. Oh don’t worry if you’ve ever eaten from it, it’s clean enough.

So to make lattes I use a little milk frother from any kitchen store and it costs $9 bucks and works like a charm. I got mine just up the street at Dayles. So to celebrate the festival of twigs and white lights I have taken to going into a dark room with a chai latte, or some other such warm drink and turning off all the lights except my three battery super duper book light and reading in the dark. The book light is on of course. I feel special when I do this. Of course that is because I am simple. If you are from Nfld., at some point in your life, your brother, or mother, or sister called you this. It is not good. It is not simple like the new  simple.

What a weird little habit but I find it really soothing. Last night I ran out of novels to read after abandoning one and so I could not get to sleep. Instead of reading I watched House Hunters where people were moving into fabulous houses with multiple bathrooms and media rooms. I mean to wonder who is gonna put the ajax to all those sinks and taps. What kind of life is it to have to clean four bathrooms? How many wet towels would I have to pick up then? Thanks any way but I need time to hook. After watching the show three times ( why you ask why would she? ….read previous paragraph for answer) in a row I was wide awake, with my book light but nothing much for it to glow upon. Of course I was all excited about making all those  texture packs and there was visions of fleece dancing through my head. Perhaps I should of thought of counting sheep. I did not.

I did my yoga, and fell off to a good rest.

Today I went to the library though so it’s book light night tonight.

By the way, today is the first day I did not have a pack of big cup peanut butter cups in quite a while. Withdrawal is going well. Oh oh it’s only five thirty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Krys: Deck the Halls

During this busy season our rug hooking projects and normal creative endeavors often get squeezed right out of the picture.  Instead of resenting a daunting holiday “to do” list, embrace it. Look it right in the eye and tell it, “We are going to sing through this with joy and creativity.”

1. Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la….la la la la….

Only a real tree will do. My topiary style Christmas tree was the answer to chewed decorations when Baboo was a pup. His palate has matured and now when your back is turned he’s into expensive dark chocolate. At least I can have a full size tree. Over the last years I switch it up between the mini and maxi look.   Mini tree has evolved to include a knit cozy inspired by Magda Sayeg and all those gangsta knittas.

2. Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la…la la la la…

Good point. It’s a season, spread out the jolly.   I like to turn some of my “to do’s” into socials. My mum, sister and I get together for baking. Sure all the kibitzing can hinder productivity but who needs twelve different kinds of cookies anyways?  Three out of twelve is just fine  as long as they’re delicious.

We always have at least a few pre Christmas play dates with our nieces.  Gingerbread houses, pompom making, whatever. Their unbridled creativity and enthusiasm remind me that finding the magic of the season doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

3. Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la…la la la la…

I don’t need new frocks but my outdoor trees do.  As if I could stop at only one tree cozy.

 

While I’m outside, I’m using my Christmas tree off cuts in a Suessical style creation for my front doorstep. Be sure to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas if only to brush up on your nonsensical vocabulary…..pantootlers or jimjamblers anyone?

 

4. Troll the ancient Yule tide carol, fa la la la la…la la la la…

Surf itunes for music to keep you movin’and groovin’. Florence and the Machine mixed with a few of Ella Fitzgerald’s swinging Christmas classics should do the trick.

5. See the blazing Yule before us, fa la la la…la la la la…

No pressure, but it’s only 15 days until Christmas. Deep breaths, have another talk with “the list.” Be tough and threaten severe cuts if it turns into a killjoy.

6. Strike the harp and join the chorus, fa la la la la…la la la la…

If I’m joining the crowds for some Christmas shopping, I’m heading to places that warm  my heart while I empty my wallet. For me, that’s farmer’s markets, hand made gift shows and independent shops.  Surrounded by such inspiration I must knit up a few hats to gift.  Hey, I also have 15 NIGHTS before Christmas. Revisit no. 5 if need be.

7. Follow Deanne in merry measure, fa la la la la…la la la la…

Hooked stars add a touch of whimsy and are quick to make. I’m going to display a mix of my hand made ornaments by my front door. Because of the shortage in the baked goods department, I’ll offer them to guests like a plate of cookies so they can choose one or two to take home.

 

8. Make some time for Yule tide treasures, fa la la la la…la la la la…

What special community events are happening?  Do I really need to knit a cozy for the exterior of my house? Yes, but I’ll do it next year. Instead I’ll check out our local “what’s on guide” and take some time to marvel at all the Christmas light displays around town.  Support and enjoy the efforts of others!

9. Fast away the old year passes, fa la la la la…la la la la…

Ain’t that the truth. I better wrap this up.

10. Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, fa la la la la…la la la la…

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR..

FA LA LA LA LA…LA LA LA LA!

I wish everyone a happy and creative holiday season!

 

 

Sheree Fitch got me thinking about my purse

 

Dear Diary, The other day I read a blog post by?Sheree Fitch – Fitch Happens: the blog – THE INSIDE OF A WOMANS PURSE?….. You might want to take a peek.It was a lovely post, and she intends it to be a title for a book she is writing. Sheree is coming in October for the workshop that we are doing on Story and Rug Hooking. It got me thinking about what is inside a woman’s purse so I took to the streets and asked if I could take a look. Everyone I asked readily opened their bag and let me snap it with my iphone.

I ran into Pauline Furlong, a local woman who always looks great. She looked so good I could not take just the inside of her purse, so I took her picture to. Pauline just has style what can I say? That big pill bottle…she wanted you to know is Coldfx, she is not addicted to tylenol or anything…

Having never much carried a purse before the last few years, I have just gotten to know the value of it. I am a pocket lover in purses. Mine is like an office, or a filing cabinet, with a pocket for camera, pocket for receipts, pocket for phone, pocket for make up, a pocket for this, a pocket for that. I like lots of little places for particular things, because of this I don’t change my purse ?to go with an outfit, we mate for a good long time, at least six months. I sometimes get the big bag syndrome and carry a bag that is big enough for groceries. After suffering with that for a while I get the little bag syndrome squeeze all my worldly goods into what comparatively is just an apartment. I waiver on the value of each. I do know though, that as long as I have my purse with me on a little trip, I ‘ll be able to meet quite a few basic needs. It is a comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tea and me…once we did part company

Dear Diary, Last Saturday I decided to take myself off caffeine with the exception of tiny bits of chocolate now and then. I can’t tell you why I did this, not because it is a secret, but because I have no idea why.

I went out and bought decaf tea for my 3 to 6 cup a day habit and I quit. I felt quite something until Tuesday when the headache started and I googled quitting caffiene…and I started asking my friends about it and I learned that a headache is a side effect of cold turkey.

Today when I told Brenda what I was doing, she just looked at me like I was nuts. She tilted her head, and gave me an explanation of just how I should be doing things if I want to quit caffiene as she ate her bread and peanut butter and sat on her chair like a queen bee. See Brenda knows everything, and I am not being sarcastic here, she does have a wealth of knowledge and can turn her hand at anything.

So all day I thought about what she said. I was getting to feel like a king kole junkie I wanted that old tea bag so bad just to releive these tiny flashes of headache that kept coming and going. I wanted to be a red rose rebel, a tetly tramp and pour myself a mean cuppa. But I didn’t want to give in so I took an aspirin and came home and laid down under a wool paisley shawl and read a swedish mystery.

Then it occurred to me that I was taking aspirin so I could quit tea, tea of all things, that little amber liquid that I bow to every morning.

You know what I did. I went crazy and wild. I got up and I boiled that kettle til it stormed. It was a furious boil than I made myself a green tea, looked at it, thought twice, and poured it down the sink. Then I got out an old gauze bag, and poured a cup of King Kole regular tea, and sucked in that old caffiene like it was intravenous. It made me feel better, weaning myself, cutting back a little, all those things that brenda bee talked about….after she reads this…she’ll be expecting me to bow to her….but I won’t…..well maybe a little when she’s not looking.?

So now I am not quitting, just cutting back a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

breaking bread

Dear Diary, I think Bread might be my favorite food. White bread, dark bread, heavy bread, nutty breads. They are all good. Last year, in our sandwich contest, nearly everyone agreed that for a good sandwich you needed good bread.

I have my favorite stops for bread, I often pick up Holger’s buttermilk bread from the Old Germany Restaurant. On Saturday’s at the Farmer’s Market in Sackville I buy a Belgian Man’s Cranberry walnut whole grain bread. I also like the Multi grain from the Sugar Shack just down the street from my studio. I have my favorite haunts.

I am not much for store bought breads. When I was a girl, sliced bread from the store was called “fog” because there was nothing in but air. I still think of it that way, as fog. When I make sandwich with it, it gets all squishy, there seems to be nothing there. Now there is an exception, that’s when someone like my friend, Izzy ?Kline, or Evelyn Smith, or any number of church women make fancy tea sandwiches with store bought bread. Then I like it. I don’t count the sandwiches that I eat cause it makes me feel to bad, and there is no point doing things that make you feel bad about yourself.

So there you go…it has nothing to do with rug hooking, once again, but my goodness diversions are kinda fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

talk like you know where you came from

Dear Diary, One of the things I pride myself on is being myself. I am who I am, and I try not to put on airs. But as my father told me, “Pride can be your downfall.” You see I have this little problem….where I put on accents when I talk to people with accents.

A while ago I was on the phone and my husband said she must be talking to someone french. He and our daughter were killing themselves laughing at the kitchen table listening to me talk with a french accent.

When my sisters call, you’d think I was in Placentia bay. I talk so fast the crowd around me don’t know what I am saying. When Robert’s Lebanese cousins visit I pick up their accent. When my son was fifteen, we were going to a hockey game and stopped to pick up a Mexican girl who was an exchange student at his school. He said to me , “Now Mom when she gets in the card, please don’t start talking with a Spanish accent.”

I have met other people who do this. I know I am not alone, but I am embarrassed by it. I can hear my inflections changing when I talk to someone with an accent, and I try to catch myself, but my tongue just runs away with me. Thing is, I hate it, because it feels like I am not being myself. It feels like I am trying to be something I am not.

Years ago when I was a girl, if a Newfoundland girl married an American serviceman from the base near where I lived , the first thing we noticed when she returned home from ?the states was whether she had picked up an accent. Behind her back, people would speak about her, “tut tutting” if she came back talking with an “American” accent, she was seen as putting on airs. Now if she kept her Newfoundland accent, that was a point of pride, and they talked about that too. Actually where I grew up they talked about everything.

One day, a girl who had married an American, came back to our house to visit after nine months away, and when there was no one in the porch, she called out, Y’aal theeeere, is theeere anybody hooome?” in a sweet southern accent, like she’d grown up in Georgia. My sisters, my father and I were upstairs and we all looked at each other with bug eyes, the eyes got bigger when we saw who it was and that she had not been away long enough to dry a salt cod.

I remember my father actually saying that it was a sign of intelligencce to keep your accent. It was a point of pride, to be who you were raised to be. To be what you were, to stand for it, and believe in the value and beauty of it. I don’t know where he got that but I’m glad he didn’t hear me on the phone last week. Now , mind you, it’s not like I take this too seriously but lets just say I get on my own nerves when I do it. I am going to try to stop. You can help…if you have an accent and you are talking to me and I start to pick it up then tell me. You see my family mocks me. The mocker (aka Katherine who works with me)???says “I am infinitely mockable.” Do you think that’s a compliment?

So off I go now, trying to be true to myself, trying not to pick up any false accents, trying to be true to all I ever was, and really all I’ll ever be, a girl from Freshwater.

 

 

 

 

 

the rebuttal….in the city with lily…lily speaks

Dear Diary, a few weeks ago I wrote about a day trip to the little city with my friend Lily. She insisted on the opportunity to have her say. She wants to write on my blog now…it is not enough that she calls me every day to talk, now I have to read her as well. So in good faith I present to you….Ms. Lily…

Ps. Don’t believe a word of it…it’s all true.

A Day with Deanne

by Lily

Outside my window in the stillness of the black  night  there is a June bug.   It sounds as if it is as big as a trout as it thumps its head repeatedly against the window panes.  It’s the kind of thing that Deanne would hook a mat about  and entitle it “June Madness”, and then write something wise and wonderful in her blog to further embellish it.

Deanne defines herself in ways that I admire and appreciate.    She is one of those people that you might not notice in the grocery store; but if you sit down with her over a cup of tea  in her home or  in her Studio, you’ll never forget her.       Real is her synonym.  She disarms you with her honesty and directness.      She usually has one point of view– hers.  Fortunately, it is one I mostly share.   That is why we have been friends for over 20 years.

However, I was recently reminded that her directness can sometimes have its drawbacks.   After spending most of a day with Deanne in Moncton  last weekend, I know the difference between being an Artist and being a Principal.    Shopping for me is a leisurely, lollygagging kind of activity, punctuated by a Cafe au Lait or a bar of chocolate.   For Deanne, it is purposeful, explicit, and keep it moving.  She is constantly checking in with herself to ensure that this is what she wants to be doing at this moment in time.   Her self-monitoring system is much more finely honed than mine.

Our first stop was the Moncton Market.  The place was humming with life, stimulating and filled with delicious smells and interesting products.    I wanted to stop and pause at each stall.  Deanne wanted to pick up a bunch of asparagus, a loaf of bread, and ditch the place because it was too busy and crowded.   Who wanted to drink a coffee while standing?  Not her.    If I lingered too long, Deanne was backtracking and prodding me along with that brisk, “I know where I am going”  stride of hers.    She had an agenda and we were following it.

Off to an upscale houseware store to purchase dishclothes.   Also a funky doormat that she thought was fitting for her farmhouse.   It  read “New York Sewer” and she somehow saw a connect.  I nodded and agreed.    It was nearing lunch and there was a decision to be made–Cafe Archibald or the Soleil Bakery?  Pros and cons to be weighed–albeit briefly as we moved directly from point A to B.   I tried to guess which one she wanted and determined it was the crepes at Archibald’s, although I really wanted the Bakery.  Maybe I could stand and drink a coffee there.      After lunch at Archibald’s, Deanne decided it wasn’t that great after all!

At the Champlain Mall, Deanne made it clear that she had one goal–Clinique Make up at Sears.   I also had one goal–a summer swimsuit– to which Deanne agreed to provide input.    While I wandered aimlessly around and  tried to find the swimsuit section, Deanne had already made a quick detour to the makeup counter and had that purchase in the bag.  I carefully tried to find  swimsuits where tops matched bottoms both in size and color–I wanted turquoise or coral, something vibrant and beachy.    Off to the dressing room where nothing really worked.    Deanne clinched the deal in a matter of minutes.     I left Sears with a non-descript, striped  grey and white two-piece  bathing suit–the top was one size, the bottom 3 sizes bigger–a subtle comment upon my pear-shaped figure!

I realized we had reached the threshold of our “quality time” together when she grabbed all my bags out of the backseat as we left the Champlain Mall and settled them on my lap and around my feet.  My next clue was when she pulled up beside the Delta Beausejour, slowed down at the corner, and told me to jump out because there was a line up of traffic behind her.   I clambered out, laden with parcels, disoriented and wondered whether I had just been ditched.    No  hug, honking horn or jaunty wave–just the taillights  of her black two-door Honda Accord (who buys a car with two doors and push locks anyway?) as they signalled–  ”Off you go, Lily,  because I do have a life and as much as I love you,  you have taken up quite enough of it for one day!”

(*I’m now going to the Mall to buy a bathing suit I really like!   It may take hours.  Think I’ll buy a coffee to sip as I search.)

I'm not really crabby, just quiet by times

 

 

wear it like you got somewhere to go

Dear Diary, I like clothes. I am not exactly a clothes horse but I like nice clothes. Until I was fourteen my clothes came in a bag from my aunt’s house, hand me down from my cousins. Thru university, I wore second hand clothes. Now a days when I see something pretty I’ll buy it for myself. Once spring comes I wear a dress everyday nearly.

When I first moved downtown, my husband told me I dressed like I was part of Jonathan Ettinger’s ( tall guy painting….they did my swatch bins all white and pretty) painting crew some days. He said, “Dress like you own the place.” He probably shouldn’t of said that but he did so now I do…dress. Even my eighteen year old son mentioned it lately. He said …”when did you start liking nice clothes?” like he didn’t remember me in anything but a pair of levis…which I’m still partial to by the way.

Here’s the sad truth…I don’t go dancing like the women in my mats. I have never had a place to wear a boa, or a tiara, have you? Mostly I  stay at home, read books, go for long walks in boots, meet friends for a pan of nachos or a pizza. Sorry to disillusion you if you thought I lived wild like women in my mats.  What I do is live vicariously through them.

So today I forgot whether I was me or a woman in my mat and  I bought a dress, a grey gorgeous dress that shimmies and shines, and makes me want to shake my hips.

I have no where to wear  this dress really, so this is what I am gonna do…

I’m gonna wear it to work…if you can call my job at my studio work…it is an exaggeration maybe but still….I’m gonna wear that dress till I wear it out, or the shine wears off it, or till someones says…”Please stop wearing that dress.” I’m gonna wear it like I gotta a place to go.

if you drop by the studio and see me overdressed..don’t think too much about it…I am just a girl( another exaggeration) with no where to go and a dress from Gordon’s Ladies Wear in Amherst that made me feel like dancing.

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Contrary to popular belief I don’t drink and dress…

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it’s just felt so good on, it hung nice, and I know stuff don’t matter, but feeling pretty does

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I told my daughter to cut off my head in the picture because I don’t like pictures of myself.

also…I was not drinking when I wrote this post. I don’t drink and write, or drink and dress, or drink and drive. I hardly drink at all but you’d never know it.

red, the queen of colours

red and orange, photo by Adele Mansour

Dear Diary,

Today we’ll celebrate red a bit….like my red bag, and red boots. I’m not a real seasonal kinda woman, you won’t find my dining table littered with red confetti today , or hearts hanging in my windows but if you wanna talk about red, I’ve got lots to see, and to say.

hues of red fleece
red fleece
red bundle of wool
red yarn for texture

Red is such a strong colour, you can count on it to draw the eye, or bring attention to something.

Is it really the colour of love or is it the colour of power?

In my work I feel…..

that red can be counted on

but you have to watch her shade

she a many sided colour

and her tone can cut you off

or make you dance

Use her freely, but watch her carefully,

for she is strong and free

and does not care

about the likes of me

She turns a rug any way she likes

Red, she says, “is me.”

oh….yeah….happy valentines day

thanks for all those quotes, you’re making me happy

donny miller…keep playing that song

caught in the act of being himself

Dear Diary, I once made a good friend because I had a hole in a sweater, and needed to borrow a needle and thread. I was at Acadia University doing a masters in counselling, and someone said, “Don Miller, the don at Seminary house will have one. ” I knocked on the door of his residence room, and entered a set… it was a victorian parlour. He lived his life like it was a play. He was doing a Masters in Divinity. We saw each other some that year, but it was in the following year when we both moved to Amherst that we became such good friends.

It started with Saturday morning yard sales and it just never ended. We always managed to find something to do together. He remains the youth minister at the First Baptist Church in Amherst, and has a youth group with upward of eighty teenagers (grades ten to twelve) from all denominations in the community. He has done this for twenty years. So now you know he’s special.

Together last fall we hosted the Spirituality and Creativity Workshop in the studio …

Of course you would barely recognize that he stars as Mama Mansour in our video

Even after that video he remains a cornerstone of the community……. those Amherst Baptists are special

People love him cause he’s funny. I love him cause he’s funny, but mostly he is authentic and honest.

How do I put it on?

is it like this?

He has a life full of community, family,  and theatre. I’d have to say that in the last twenty years he has been the main person in our community who connected with teenagers about faith, and goodness. He does it in easy non threatening way. Church does not have to be on Sunday morning…it can happen anywhere, anytime.

He likes funky stuff. I like to just go in his office and touch all his stuff…(he’d say something inappropriate here but I won’t)

you never know what he’ll have found, or will be up to, but he’ll be up to something

so much time is spent here


knowing where you belong

As silly as he is, when I have something really on my mind, I know that he will have a good perspective on things. He is a deep thinker, and knows that as humans we are layers and layers.

Donnie has had many opportunities over the years to be part of bigger congregations but he has chosen Amherst. I am so glad he did. The thing is Donnie never wonders if he is doing the right thing with his life. He is sure he is. He feels like he is here, and singing the song he was meant to sing.

the ten questions……….

One of things Donnie does when we drive is ask me some question that he just makes up. I told him I wanted to come up with some questions that  I would ask people when I featured them on the website. We came up with “Ten Lovely Questions”. You’ll see these questions answered by a variety of people in future posts…

Don Miller Answers Ten Lovely Questions

1)  What do you find lovely?

I find lots of things lovely.  Babies.  Seniors.  Teens.  Bacon wrapped scallops and stuffed mushrooms.  Unexpected kindness.  Love.

2)  When was the last time you surprised yourself?

My last play was a little raunchier than usual for Donnie Miller.   While my plays often do take on a life of their own, I was a little surprised that this one strayed a little too far over the line.  It was still great to hear people laugh.

3)  How old do you feel?

Depends.  With the youth group, I feel about 25.  On Sunday mornings I’m closer to 60.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that the number is all in your mind.   There’s a great friend of mine who’s 94 and one of the youngest people I know.  She’s my  hero.

4)  When do you know it’s time to get creative?

I start going a little stir crazy.   It’s like cabin fever and I start acting stunned.  Finally it clicks in, “I gotta make a bird house!”.

5)  What’s your next great plan?

I’m not sure if it’s ‘next’ but I really want to try a screen play and movie.  Random pieces keep coming to my mind.  Get’s me excited.

6)  What is your earliest creative memory?

I always performed ‘shows’ down the basement of my parents house.  Everyday, me and a cast of neighbour hood kids would get together.  – Magic, variety, comedy…with lights and music and costumes.  Since I was 5 years old I’ve been bossing people around on stage.   Like my Grandmother Miller, play has always been a very serious thing for me.  You probably wouldn’t spend less than 2 hours with me before you were involved in some kind of game.

7)  Name three people you’d love to invite to dinner.

Carol Burnett, Oprah & Abraham Lincoln.

8)  What was the last interesting idea that your grasped?

Our sense of self is found in God and if God is not in the picture we spend our days in a crowded lifeboat trying to justify our existance so the world won’t throw us overboard.

9)  Name three things that are “so not you”.

Drinking, NASCAR and Country Music.  Yee-haw.

10) Name three words that sum you up.

Odd.  Inquisitive. Fun.

winter warmer

grey winter

Dear Diary

I am once again teaching myself a new program, trying to make the newsletter a bit prettier, a bit nicer. I hope you like it.

It is always the case that what one person likes, another is unsure of. I am not really talking about the newsletter..but about the yurt. The yurt?

My friend Heather said she wanted me to go with her, and a few other women, our regular foursome on a camping trip this winter and stay in a yurt. I thought, not much chance a yurt has a fireplace and a bathroom, which is my idea of winter camping. She came to the studio today, to show me a picture of it online. I said,”.. it looks like a plastic tire. I don’t want to go.” She told me not to be so cranky. I thought I’ll be really cranky if she has me freezing my ass off in that yurt. All three of the foursome are more outdoorsy than me. They ski. I crochet. They ride snowmobiles. I ride a honda civic. They like to walk their dogs. I like to walk myself. Actually I like their dogs.

So there it is. I think there’ll be a three some at the yurt. I’m booking into the lodge with a glass of wine by the fire and a hot bath.I am embracing winter…just in my own way, with a hook and a warm fire underneath me.

winter garden

the art of being a woman

sisterhood of the brows

Dear Diary, Welcome to the sisterhood of the waxed eyebrows. When I moved to Nova Scotia at the age of sixteen, my friend who I met here told me I needed to have my eyebrows done. She sat on my chest and plucked them. I yelped in pain. That was the last time until Catherine, Lorna and Brenda sent me over to Patricia who runs an esthetic’s shop around the corner and said get those brows done. It started with the ongoing debate about putting my picture on the website. Katherine, formerly known as the mocker, says I need to. I am one of those souls who hates having their picture taken because it reminds me that I’m not the way I picture myself, tall and lean, just kidding. Don Miller, aka Mama Mansour in the you tube video, says he once took 150 pictures of me to get a good one. We both laugh. So off I went, had my eye brows shaped, and came back feeling glad about my little change. My man brows…gone…and truly I don’t miss them. Surprisingly, it did not hurt a bit, certainly nothing like having someone sit on my chest and pluck them with a pair of tweezers. When I got back, the women who work with me all said…”Welcome to the sisterhood” , they all  do their eyebrows, and to think I never knew. There is an art to being a woman… and some people know more about it and are better at it than others. You’re never to old to catch on though….. signed,  “feeling pretty”

How to Cook a Turkey

How to Cook  a Turkey…

Take that thing, stuff it full with bread, onion, summer savory. Stick it in a big roaster in the oven  and forget about it. Cook it all day long on 350 while you read the book you got for Christmas. About an hour before everyone comes over, cook lots and lots of different kinds of vegetables.
I don’t think you can ruin  a turkey, but you can forget to turn the oven on. After about an hour or two make sure you can smell it cooking. If you cannot, delay dinner.

A Middle Aged Mothers’ Letter to Santa

Dear Santa, This Christmas I promise that I’ll spend time with people I love, but also people I enjoy. Just kidding Santa, I really do enjoy the people I love. I promise to be like Julia Child and binge on life, instead of scotch on Christmas Eve. I promise I won’t even sneak a sip out of the glass we leave for you. Forgive me if I eat your fruitcake though, I covet my  own fruitcake, and never really like anyone else’s. Half the time you don’t eat it anyway.
I promise not to shower my children with gifts next year. I am sorry but it is already too late for this year. I know I over do it, then get a little resentful when they are short tongued with me. How about I promise not to snarl at them with my claw hands up by my face when they leave the room on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I think that will be all I can manage but I’ll try to be good forever. This Christmas I won’t stress over where we eat the turkey dinner, or if there are twenty people coming to my house for lunch. I’ll just pretend that I am not sure where we are eating til the morning of and then I’ll happily make do. I’ll just make sure there are carrots, turnip, potatoes and a thawed turkey in the house in case I am on duty, and then I’ll be all set whatever happens. I promise to go into Christmas blindly because ignorance is bliss, and tis a blissful season. Oh Santa, I have been so good about not extending my Christmas list, and even reigning it in but if I see that perfect something for someone I don’t usually buy for I just have to give in. I promise that I’ll not re gift anything I receive, nor will I silently resent money spent on things I don’t want  as money that could have gone to the food bank, because when I get something I really like I forget about the food bank. Oh and I promise to remember the food bank. That’s important. Well Santa, I’m off now to decorate my new white polyester tree… not really Santa.. I got myself a little fir tree cause I know that it is important to keep it real…