Catherine Bussiere: veggie burger

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

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

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

Veggie burgers with quinoa

for a dozen large burger you may use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: a wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

the groom saw his bride

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: Beckwith Bash

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

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

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

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

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

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

full schedule and details can be found HERE

have a good week

ps. I will most likely not blog next Sunday

getting ready

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small drumminhula

Richard

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: Mother’s day

I woke up this morning to the smell of melting butter
it’s a warm, grey, rainy day
my lovely man brought me coffee in bed
I figure I shouldn’t move until I got an okay from the kitchen
I actually thought something buttery would materialize near that cup of coffee
sipping away I was quite content

Eventually Charlotte appeared from the stairs’ opening at the end of my room
beautiful critter peaking out of her den
“come downstairs mama, it’s ready”
I’m thinking, isn’t it coming upstairs?
“come on down, bring your coffee”

alright alright
let me nose guide me

I enter the kitchen
handmade decorations are hanging over my favorite sitting spot
it is sweet and festive and oh so lovely

On the big serving plate / round table lays a beautiful arrangement of tastiness
A plate filled with cinnamon muffins (result of the heavenly buttery smell)
two pretty little blue bowls filled with frozen berries
a tin box (yes; chocolate)
and a card

I am in awe
aaaaaw Charlotte, when did you do this?
she did that yesterday
and woke up early to bake treats
and she is walking around in a most adorable onesie pajama that makes you want to hug her
clever

I get a phone call from my son Sam
my son Isaac posts something funny and sweet of me, online
boys are thinking about me
love, love, love

my kids make me feel lucky on a daily basis
I loved them as babies
I loved them as they grew up
I love who they are becoming
becoming a mama is the best thing I have done

The sun is peaking out
it’s now warm AND sunny
time for another coffee and a call to my mama

Happy mother’s day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Surprise

a few weeks ago
I think maybe even before we got back
my son Isaac told me that there would be a surprise graduation party for his fiancé Haley
the cover was
she would be prepping a surprise birthday party for him
so just go along when she let’s you know about it

how does this work?

Haley has a cousin
who really likes Isaac
cousin will pretend he wants to host a surprise birthday party for Isaac
Haley is excited about it
she says it’s really hard to trick Isaac and she can’t keep secrets
but she’ll try her best

Most of Haley’s family lives in Cape Breton
nobody is mentioning anything about her upcoming graduation
Dad who is a musician is busy with gigs
Mom is about to start working
no time for parties it seems

Behind Haley’s back everyone has been plotting
she’s been tricked once before
for her high school graduation
she even made her own cake I was told
thinking she was going to someone else’s party
Never again she said then

yesterday was somewhat crazy
we have to make plans out loud about the day
Hey Isaac, what you want for your birthday
what should we have for supper
let’s bake a cake
the trick is not to slip
not to say too much
no whispering
make Haley think we’re going along with this secret party for Isaac
and keep a straight face

Haley has to figure out a way to get Isaac to St-Margaret’s Bay (cousin’s place)
which is 20 minutes out of town
we have a friend who is away and asked if Haley could go check on her house
then Haley will say that she needs to pick up a jacket she forgot at her cousin
You don’t have to come she says to Isaac, enjoy the day with your family
No, no, Isaac says, I’ll come with you

all of a sudden it’s time
Haley picks up Isaac and off they go
we have to hurry
of course we get stuck in traffic
but funny enough, when we get to the highway exit they are right in front of us
we slow down to let a couple cars get between us

we easily find cousin’s place
there’s lots of cars already there
we quickly unpack the car but as we are ready to head off to the house
here comes Haley and Isaac parking right in front of us
we hide as much as we can while making our way to the house
at this point Haley is breaking up and Isaac is smiling

the house is all decorated
on the table there is a big cake
two camera are set up at different angle ready to roll
we make a quick entrance
“They’re coming” we say

Isaac and Haley walk in
she has a huge smile, her face is glowing as she looks at him
I got you she thinks
then
she turns around
and as she slowly takes in all the people that are in the room
mom, dad, uncles, aunts, cousins
her ivory cheeks turn a nice shade of pink
her mouth widens
her eyes water
(as does everyone else)
We got you, we got you big time!
Oh the love, the laugh, the tears
Congratulation darling
and oh, Happy Birthday Isaac!

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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: Claudia, Julia, Ines

It’s been quiet here these past few days
been rainy and stormy and grey
our guests are gone
there’s water dripping here and there
looks like it will be quiet for a few more days

I photographed and interviewed Claudia and Julia last week
they are both 30 (it was Claudia’s birthday)
they were both on vacation with their beau

I got to know them a little, took a few pictures and asked random questions
there is a topic now that I will keep on investigating
age, aging, time

here they are

 

Claudia and Simon

Claudia is from Germany, she is a lawyer, wants to make a decent living, wants kids.
She turned thirty during her stay in Sidi Kaouki. That morning I made her fluffy pancakes with honey syrup. She liked them so much she asked for the recipe.
Simon looked chill, I forget what he does but he seemed willing to stay home and look after the kids when the time comes. Attentive, he had bought a small cake for her birthday. With candles on it.

They were both lovely.

– How does it feel to be 30?
“Three or four months ago I didn’t want to get 30 but now I feel good.
The last year is that (when) I found the more and more what I am. When I was younger it was like what the world is expecting from me.”

Now she feels like she is being herself not meeting others’ expectation.

“I want to be happy, have a family, we want to marry.”
“I don’t like this word: old. Maybe you are never old. You can not fix it with an age.”
“You don’t get that much older when you go with the times. My grandmother has a strong will. She grew with the times.”

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Julia and Aurélien

Julia is French.
She is pretty, social, happy, generous, attentive.
She likes her coffee black.
She is a waitress.
She wanted to work with kids and elders
Do social work
For some reason the french system may not let you be what you want to be
Julia loves: the sun, Morocco, but most of all she loves Aurélien

What is your dream?
“A house in the country, a big piece of land, three sheep, chickens, a goat, a garden, a baby.”

What do you like about your work?
“The contact with people. To offer (the pleasure of) food. The contact with the kitchen: foods, smells, flavors.”

She likes the fast pace. “You don’t get bored”

A good waitress is…?
“Organize, efficient, always smiling.”

Aging? What is it to be old?
“It’s in your head” “ I’m thirty now, my twenties are behind me. I’m not happy to be thirty, to have lost my youth. It’s the Peter Pan complex.”

What is youth?
“It’s to have time ahead of you, the older you get the less time you got.”

About Aurélien she says:
“I’m a fan of our love.”

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Inès

Ines left us too this week
She is a beautiful, spirited young lady
She has claws and she can bite
for that reason she found a new home
before she left we had time to become friends

What makes you happy?
“meow, meow, meow” (sardines, half the bed in the middle of the night, ruling the house)

What do you think about age?
“ meow?”
(what you talking about?)

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I miss them all.

Catherine Bussiere: Blue Kaouki

Blue Kaouki
it’s the name of a hotel
in Sidi Kaouki
long beach, pounding waves, surfers, camels, goats, dogs with teeth that mean it
travelers, campground, hotels, restaurants, surf shack, bicycles
low key
laid back
lovely

our job here is to welcome clients, make breakfast (on the rooftop patio), keep the place tidy
easy

there has only been few clients at a time
only so much to do
we end up chatting, hanging out throughout the day
sharing a little of our lives
I love it
we met a few germans, some english folks, a lovely french couple

Claudia turned 30 while she was here
the big three o
on Friday the 13th
I made her some nice fluffy pancakes with honey syrup
good start to her day

I like this job of easing people’s morning
serve coffee and fresh pressed orange juice
flip an egg
serve that delicious Moroccan bread
(it is delivered warm around 8 every morning)

we will be here until the end of our trip
over the next four weeks
I’ll introduce you to some of our clients
a snapshot and a quote
(yes, yes, I am inspired by humans of New York, the clever idea is not mine)
here’s the first

Drusilla

This lady came in with a cane, luggage and bottles of wine. She told me her doctor told her not to travel. She has been coming to Morocco for years. She is now writing a novel that takes place here. She likes to write at night with a glass of wine and a cigaret. Classic.

What do you like about Morocco?
– I like the people. People don’t care about how you look. They care about who you are.

What makes you happy?
– The lack of pain.

What bugs you?
– Rudeness

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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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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: 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: walking

one of the thing I like about being in this city is that I can walk to places
walk to get fruits and veggies, meat, bread
walk to the theater, to the museum, to the park
walk to the beach and even to a hill top high enough to overlook the whole city and beyond
we’ve been walking several km a day pretty much each day since we got to Barcelona
I love it every time

here’s what caught my eye

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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: 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: Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse: a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

I can’t say how long I’ve wanted to eat bouillabaisse
growing up I read Marcel Pagnol, a god amongst Provencal literature
his series: Marius, Fanny, Cesar take place in the heart of Marseille where Cesar, a lively choleric character, runs a bar
the world of Pagnol is a world like any: family, friends, love, foes, food, drinks
it is lively, it is flavorful, the language sings
it is french from the south, from the sea, with accent, punctuation, words like no others
The bouillabaisse is a classic dish from this part of the world
as it requires specific fish and spices one can really only eat the “real thing” here

Friday night we were invited to a party of ten at “la table D’eux” restaurant to eat the famous soup
and I was excited
as we walked into the restaurant I was taken aside right away to the kitchen to see a basin filled with odd looking fish covered with garlic, saffron and who knows what

Our host have been fantastic
we help out all week
we’ve mostly been cleaning up the olive grove; mowing, chopping, making it nice
we get a lovely place to stay, the best grocery, (I have a tab at the boucherie where I’ve been trying all sorts of local specialties)
and on Friday we go out

Now we could just go out and eat but Geraldine (she likes to be called Gerry but Geraldine is so pretty and she does look a little bit like Geraldine Chaplin) goes above and beyond
She knows we are curious so she makes sure to introduce us to the locals
She arranged a couple tours to local olive mills
Took us out to try the Beaujolais nouveau

In the kitchen of the restaurant the mother of the cook explains to me how the soup is made
the various fish have been sitting in a wonderful mixture of spices for hours
The broth is made
veggies are cooked
one by one, depending on their size, the fish will be added at the last minute so they cook to perfection

in the restaurant the table is set
as we wait we are treated to a few rounds of sparkling wine to celebrate Isaac and Haley’s engagement
the traditional plate of charcuterie sits on the counter
someone tells me to try this and that
I try everything

We are now ready to hit the table
Bouillabaisse has a special order of thing
first the broth is served pipping hot topped with rouille spread on croutons
rouille is like a spicy homemade mayonnaise with garlic and saffron

The broth is heavenly
rich, flavorful
the crouton soak just enough of the broth for an easy chew
the rouille tops it all
I am in heaven

Then comes two huge platters of fish
it has all those crazy fish I saw earlier in the kitchen plus mini crabs, mussels and squid
I try everything
Next you place any of the fish you want in your plate
grab a few potatoes if you wish and cover that with the broth that has been kept hot

we all go for several rounds
wine keeps filling our glasses
our bellies are getting fuller and fuller
there is so mush fish to be eaten

several hours later
that’s the way it goes here
a proper meal takes hours
the fish is gone and we are served an expresso followed by a few shots of Lemoncello
jolly and filled to the rim we exit the restaurant with kisses on the cheek to the cook, his mom, the waitress

another meal in Provence gone by
I am looking forward to next Friday
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Coffee with Deanne Episode Five

Well here is another one….I am really having fun doing these videos. I guess you may have noticed I am doing these instead of writing right now. At least for a little while.

This weekend is our big Grand Opening of Thirty Church : The Women’s Store so I am excited about that. We have a ribbon cutting with the mayor at 11:30 on Saturday.

This fall has been really exciting. On Monday we had a book launch with The Bethany Group in Halifax. It was an honour to be received by them and hosted. We all had a good time.

Today I plan to hook, and order wool in the afternoon but I am working in the women’s store in the morning. I love to be busy in the days and follow that with quiet evenings to replenish.

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Catherine Bussiere: Belgentier

it is later Sunday
almost 9pm
it was a busy week end
yesterday Eric, Isaac and I went for a nice long hike
about 18km up a cliff and mostly up and down a nature path that took us through forest, ruins and some fantastic stone pillars called “les aiguilles” (the needles)

the walk also took us to a monastery, closed this month, where the monks are famous for a liqueur they make called Chartreuse
apparently only three monks know the recipe
it involves about 130 different herbs
we were hoping to get some
maybe we will if they open their doors in December

Today we had a car so we took advantage of it and visited Toulon, Cassis and “les calanques”
Toulon had a great outdoor market
I bought some olives, fruits and veggies
we stopped at a bakery
every bread here, even the various forms of Baguettes have a name
I can’t tell you
I look at them all and say this one and that one
and maybe this one too
they are all so good
I could make a whole blog about that

My brother told me before I left that the bread was better here then back home
and so was the butter
now we do make really good bread home and have quite a variety
but the butter
it is so good
like it’s sweet, maybe less salty, maybe it’s the milk
I don’t know
the butter is very very good

The thing about the bread is that every single bakery I tried so far was great
The one in the village here makes the most decadent almond croissant
it has more than just a little almond paste in it
it is filled with this gooey almond mush that makes your knees go weak
so good
People buy bread everyday
it’s part of the daily routine
the baguette under their arm
totally true
daily
also bread and chocolate
you will often see kids being picked up from school chewing on some pain au chocolat

there, I was barely going to talk about this and you got me going
bread and butter
never had so much of both
I could also talk about the cheese but not right now
(so amazingly good if you love cheese)

what else
there were many highlight this week like trying the Beaujolais Nouveau at the local bar
that was fun
you order a glass and in comes a whole plater of charcuterie to go with it
after four glasses and as many plater you feel like you may just consider moving permanently to this lovely place

on Friday our host invited us to the other bar in town where the special was “moules frittes” (mussels and fries)
the fries were some of the best I’ve ever eaten
large cuts perfectly golden
crunchy and tender
the mussels were serve in a lovely little pot
they were bathing in a large quantity of broth made with generous amount of cream, wine, onions and secret spices
I had a word with the cook
I said please pretty please would you let me sit in one of these days and watch you cook
he said ok
he loves to cook and could tell I love it too
I can’t wait

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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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Catherine Bussiere: Margate

Margate, seaside town
I love: the early quietness, the sounds of seagulls, the salty smell in the breeze
I love looking out at the sea
some morning there is no line between water and sky
variation of blues blend in one another
coming from Nova Scotia I should be use to this
but in Nova Scotia I don’t live by the sea
We are lucky this week to have a flat that looks onto it
and huge windows to boot

highlight of the week
a very long walk along stunning chalk cliffs
Chalk Cliffs
I didn’t know cliffs could be made of chalk
it feels like they should be all dissolved already
there is a castle sitting on an edge
it’s been made into condos
there are big walls protecting the cliff
to the water you’d go little castle

Broadstairs
it’s the name of a town
we walk all the way to it
highlights: pasties at the meat shop
ooooo the nice meat shop
something so nice about a shop that knows it’s business
we buy several pasties
pasties: take some dough, could be flaky, could be like pie dough, make it good either way. Add just about anything in the middle of that dough. Like a sausage, a burger with condiment, a whole breakfast: bacon and eggs and ketchup too, a beef stew, a beef stew with veggies, the list goes on…
I think the English invented a fantastic to go food
if it’s done well it is quite good
the ones we had were delicious
the best: an apple turnover loaded with apples

Other food highlights
because isn’t food an ongoing highlight when you travel
we have free tab at the local pizza shop
the ladies we are staying at and helping out are back in London and own a fine pizza place
they can’t cook for us, we get as much pizza as we want
by now we have tried all of them
by now we are a little sick of pizza
but, the one that stands out, because it is a combo I’ve never had before on the thinnest pizza dough I ever bitten into is the Blue Cheese and Pear
notice that I used capital letters for Blue Cheese and Pear
it’s that good

yesterday because we all had enough pizza I made a chicken pot pie
that was quite delicious
comfort food

what else
it was Halloween and plenty of local fireworks kept exploding everywhere
Friday and Saturday
???
November first is All Saint’s Day
Day of the dead in Mexico
I bet they have lots of fireworks there too
we don’t do that in Canada
November 5th will be Guy Fawkes day
all around England people will light big bond fire
to celebrate a failed attempt to blow up King James 1st
???
the poor guy was found maybe minutes before he was to light the fuse that was to blow up the houses of parliament
to the Tower of London you go!
and for your mischief we will light fires all over England forever
that was four hundred years ago

interesting how habits and customs come about

well I must go help and paint some more
maybe we’ll go on another big walk later today
few more days in Margate and off to Paris
oh la la
looking forward to croissant, cheese and wine

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Catherine Bussiere: bricks and tiles

it’s been over a week
of course, as one would expect, it feels like more
in a few days we have done various tasks
painting, cooking, sewing, gardening
done carpentry (not me, that’s what the “we” is for)
London helping our first host
helpx, did I mention it yet, look it up, it’s worth a peek

That was the work part
then we did what tourists do
we visited the: London museum, the British museum and the Tower of London
we walk and walk and walk
we got caught in major tourist jam
they have a place downtown London called Oxford circus
and that’s exactly what it is

some highlights:
as I turn around a corner, downtown, there in front of me is Big Ben
I knew it was big but somehow it was BIG, like bigger than I thought
The British museum entrance
I like these amazing huge entrance
that are so big it makes you feel enlighten
bigger than yourself
like you can pretend for a minute that you live there
that you are that important
it doesn’t matter that you are not; it’s that awe feeling
maybe because it was built by men
cathedrals are like that
something reverential about them
highlight

Then of course all the stuff in the museum
saying “stuff” should be criminal
I shouldn’t be using that word
so all of the amazing artwork, history, artifacts, …
is also overwhelming
there’s a feeling of unease
as in why are some of these very precious, sacred relics
why are they here
in the middle of Britain
when it is written how special they are to their place of origin
I gorge on them anyway
isn’t it what we do

highlights: seeing a few live Van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, Rousseau
walking, walking
eating some “proper” fish and chips
888,246 ceramic poppies in the Tower’s moat
words, words that I may not use and I have to adapt to
like “subway” stand for that underground pathway that goes from one side of a street to another
if you’re looking for transportation call it the “tube” or the “underground”
You “queue” if you’re standing in line
which actually is very french as we “faire la queue” for the very same thing

all and all it’s been a lot of fun and quite incredible for country folks like we are
to be immersed in a huge city
London

we just arrive in Margate for a whole other week of wonder
quite different it will be
and so much to look for
talk to you soon

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Catherine Bussiere: thanks dinner

I am walking around this morning
I go to the lounge
it is another stunning morning
crisp, fresh, covered in dew
the lounge sits empty yet I can hear the rumor
yesterday the two tables were filled with friends, family, neighbors

before our trip and just for shear pleasure
we decided to host a thanks dinner
for your support, for looking after us, for your friendship

there is something I really like about hosting
sitting people around large tables
having counters filled with food and beverage
being outdoors on a rainy windy day
and not caring because of a warm sweater and good company

I love to mix people
to introduce and say, this is so and so, she is an artist, he is a gardener
the conversation rolls
glasses and bowls are being refilled
people relaxing, taking time, enjoying

It was busy, it was good
we were thankful and we were pleased

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Catherine Bussiere: excited!

I am so excited
it happens some times
this week end I saw my boys and we had a family meeting
our trip to Europe is coming fast and things had to be figured out

My daughter has been busy buying the best of things
she is like that my daughter
she has been receiving all sorts of things in the mail those past few weeks
this week was an awesome backpack
today she bought herself beautiful boots
we were in Halifax earlier
there are no cool boot stores in Beckwith
there are no stores in Beckwith for that matter

Seeing my daughter made me want a couple of things, so:
I got a boring but very handy hat for when we will be picking olives
(I much rather wear a hat then sunscreen)
I got a couple of those super thin towels without looking at their actual size
(turned out they are about as big as a hand towel, but really thin)
I got a map of Europe
(hey, that should come in handy)
and…
oh, an enormous mustard colored backpack

My kids made fun of me
it took about half an hour to adjust the straps
my husband gallantly said he could carry it for me if I got tired
I like the color + if we ever have to walk in the rain for a period of time all my stuff will be dry: it is super waterproof = the best
I mean I could almost take shelter in my backpack if need be

so, I’m excited
it’s all coming soon
my husband, daughter and I are taking our first flight ever to London in less than a month
should I panic?
maybe!

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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: 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: bike ride

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it is sunny
it is warm
it smells like fresh cut grass
it smells like a warm summer forest
there’s bugs
there’s birds
and fishes
and wild flowers

it’s the country
another country side
a hilly one
with fields, forests, tractors, and hidden ponds
with nephews and a niece
and bikes

it’s June
and it’s summer

Look with Lorna

Today we celebrated Deanne’s birthday. Brenda made strawberry shortcake for the special occasion and a few friends were in to help us enjoy the yummy treat.

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Catherine Bussiere: day off

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I can easily keep busy all the time
just one little task after another
my mom who is visiting is shaking her head

so after being busy for days I finally took the day off to hang out with my mama
first I took her to church
I don’t usually go to church but decided to stay as two teens that I knew were having their confirmation today
the ceremony was quite moving
how beautiful to see these youth engaging in something as big as faith
to say yes to goodness in front of their congregation
I was glad to be there

then I took my mom to visit a friend of mine who is a potter
I did have to do a short interview for a project that I’m working on but only for a minute
My mom marveled at her pottery and bought a few pieces
that was lovely

We kept going up the shore to have a bite at Whirligigs, a wonderful restaurant that specialize in delicious breakfast
we had some smoked salmon Benedict
I think I like anything Benedict

by the time we were done it was time to go to an opening at the Tidnish art gallery
A young friend of mine was having her first opening
she is 15, has been home schooled all her life, you should see the art work
it is done through a computer program with math equation
it is beyond my understanding and the result is a series of beautiful abstract images
loved it

as we drove home along the coast we decided to stop at a beach in Northport and went for a little walk
the water on the edges was nice and warm
my mother sat on a rock to let her feet soak for a while

Sunday June first in the maritime
I couldn’t ask for more

Catherine Bussiere: rhubarb and fiddle heads

I woke up to a warm morning
how glorious is a warm breezy morning in the country side
no bugs yet
no bitting bugs anyway

I put the kettle on for coffee
looked around… no husband
I thought, and I was right, he must be gone looking for fiddle heads

the water wasn’t even boiling that my son was up
to my surprised expression he responded: happy mother’s day
smile (awww)
then offered to make a smoothie

the smoothie was on it’s way when my daughter came down
with a gift and a card in her hand
!!!
awwwww
I really was not expecting anything

I like to make the most of my adorable, most willing to do something for me, children
I had invited my mother in law for brunch and was about to make the first rhubarb pie of the year
to the garden we go, help me gather enough for a couple pies
the rhubarb isn’t high yet
but with three sets of hands it didn’t take long
as we were picking my husband showed up with a bag filled with fiddle heads
it’s the first year that he gathers them
last fall he found edible mushrooms in the wood, now fiddle heads
there’s something quite fantastic about foraging
it has to be some of the best food one can eat

the meal consisted of fish cake Benedict (that is a fish cake with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce), steamed fiddle heads and rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert
we had some white wine with cassis liquor and frozen strawberries to go with that
which may explain why this blog is posted a little later than usual
a nap had to follow that scrumptious meal

it is a blessing to be a mother
to honor the ones that have nurtured us and to nurture in return

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Pomquet

Friday and Saturday I went to the acadian community of Pomquet.
I had a video workshop to give to a small group of teens at the local school. I’ve never been to Pomquet before. It’s right past Antigonish, on the way to Cape Breton. You wouldn’t really know it’s there driving on the highway. It’s easy to miss.

I took a left on Taylor road to what seemed like a road to nowhere. After a few kilometers I found a good sized new looking school. It’s a primary to 12 school, one floor, two wings, brightly colored inside. Nice, nice school. Inside I found something for you: a beautiful hooked rug depicting “Le grand dérangement” which, as you may know, is when the acadian were deported.

The youth I had the chance to meet and work with were simply wonderful. Knowledgable, pleasant, talented. What a treat. And, as it is a french speaking school, I had the pleasure to lead the workshop in French. So much fun.

The first evening, before going to the local B&B I went to look at the area a little. As I approached the harbor I found a lovely community bordering the main street. The iconic Catholic church stood nicely in the middle of it. Around it a cemetery with graves dating to at least the 1800. A little further I found a beach road to the local provincial park. Originally I thought I’d grab a bite to eat at a restaurant located on the highway but the site of that beautiful empty beach enticed me to go for a walk. I had some snacks, I decided to have a little picnic on the beach.

Nova Scotia is filled with gems. Next time you visit, or if you live here already, go for a drive, take a left turn on a unassuming road, it’ll be worth your while.

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Catherine Bussiere: Easter pancakes

Beautiful sunny day here in northern Nova Scotia

I was gone for three days last week with my daughter to a conference in Sydney.
Through multiple presenters we learned how and why the arts and crafts are a leading economy. It was interesting and inspiring; the creative economy is one to be reckoned with.

When I came back home a few things had happened that were of great excitement. First, the ice on the pond was gone. It may not seem like much but with the ice gone the pond gets fixed (by the beavers, instantly it seems, they come and fix any little or big leaks and the water goes up). A pair of ducks arrived for their annual visit and the peepers will soon, any day now, deafen us with their high pitch chorus. The sound of the peepers is one of my favorite. It’s the sound of nature celebrating the end of a harsh winter and the prospect of life about to blossom.

Oh, I love this time of year.

This morning I’m waking up to the smell of home made baked beans. My husband has been making them with beer and smoked pork lately and they are just divine. There is bacon slowly cooking and pancakes will be made. Of course this whole lot is also home made. Maybe I should share the pancake recipe with you on this Easter morning.
When I make pancakes I don’t bother, I grab the bag of premix flour, add an egg, milk, little oil and bam we go. They’re good. Fast and easy.
When my husband makes pancakes it goes up several notches.
First he takes say 8 eggs (maybe a dozen if they are small or 6 if they are extra large)
He separates the whites from the yolks. He beats the whites like he was making a meringue and set that aside. Then it’s the usual. Mix the yolks with milk, melted butter, a little vanilla if you wish. Add the flour but do not add any baking powder. See that’s the beauty of these pancakes, no baking powder or baking soda, none of that taste. When your pan or griddle is ready to go, gently fold the fluffy egg white in your pancake mixture. It’s like incorporating cloud bundles. Then gently scoop that up and cook it.
The result is the spongiest, tastiest, most syrup absorbent pancakes you will ever have.

I hope today is as beautiful and warm for you that it is for me. Enjoy spring, fine food and the presence of family.

Happy Easter!

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Catherine Bussiere: April = Easter Eggs

you’ve heard them sing

you’ve seen it thaw

it’s crazy how fast a season can change

one week we are buried under a blanket of snow

and the next the narcissus are poking their noses out

 

I was busy in my green house yesterday getting the ground ready, planting a few seeds

lettuce, spinach, beets

early greens that I hope to munch on in a month time

this morning thinking of Easter coming up

I looked for the eggs that were decorated last year

I wrote a blog then and I will share it again

if you have some old silk ties, or scarfs, or any silk with pretty patterns on it

round up some kids, empty a dozen eggs, and be ready to be awed

happy Sunday!

oh yes: the LINK

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Catherine Bussiere: Souvlaki

There are mornings where I feel like cheating
Meaning I will not try too hard to write a blog
I’ll just post a recipe
It’s not really cheating
it could be seen as a gift
sounds much better
it’s all about point of view

speaking of view here is today’s weather report
it’s another grey day but there are no snowfall warning in effect (= improvement)
the sap is running
and the sun is trying hard to pierce through all these layers of grey
I have a feeling it might succeed

Last night I was hungry and inspired
those are two things that can equal into a good dinner
I happened to have all I needed to make a Greek style meal
I made my own version of souvlaki

You will need:

pork, chicken or lamb

for the marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper

Chop meat in cubes. Marinate in oil mixture for 8 hours (for 1 pound of meat have 1/2 cup of oil mix – with lots of fresh herbs – looks and smells like a tasty dressing)

Cook meat on parchment paper in hot oven (doesn’t take long)

Serve on pita with tzaziki, chopped tomatoes and cucumber
or serve with rice and Greek salad

Tzaziki: drain 750 g of balkan yogurt in cheese cloth for a few hours. Put 1 grated cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle salt over. Let sit a couple hours to extract water. Rinse and drain cucumber (squeeze all that water out). Mix drained yogurt and cucumber. Add grated garlic, pepper, mint or dill. Taste, see if it needs salt.

* Lately I mix a small container of sour cream with half container of astro balkan yogurt and skipped the draining bit for the yogurt. Of course I get the 14% sour cream. Works well.

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Catherine Bussiere: recipe for a great day

You will need:

1/2 dozen people you love
1 forest
a good dose of fresh air
1 big black pot
1 fire
sunshine

bannock
sausages
homemade cookies

spirit(s)

The kids are visiting this week end
and with some luck
between yet again snow storms and freezing rain
we got a warm sunny Saturday

my husband decided to boil a little sap this year
yesterday we went all out
the big black cauldron was brought to the woods
a fire pit was made
we collected dry branches
we collected some sap
we lit the fire

it felt like pioneer’s time
there was even a piece of pork to be smoked for bacon

we hung out for hours
unplugged from our oh so omnipresent technology
a miniature house and igloo were built
the smell of the woods, the fire and the sap boiling
filled our lungs and put our minds at peace
as notion of time evaporated

On the menu for this dreary Sunday morning: pancake with fresh maple syrup and homemade bacon. Sun is shining in the house!

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Catherine Bussiere: Cats

I don’t know if I ever told you about my two cats
once upon a time about two years ago
after mourning our previous cat, Miche, for a good year
– by the way I use Miche’s pretty face for my profile picture –
my daughter and I embarked on a very short journey to find a cat

It was I believe a Saturday morning when I slyly asked my husband if he would mind having a cat again

there was a time when we had goats and chickens and a dog and several cats
the kids were babies, we were home all the time, we gardened, we did the whole self sufficient thing and it was good
then one by one the pets left or passed away, we ate some chickens and gave a few and we sold our goats
we were all itching to go traveling
my husband and I maybe more then the kids but they didn’t know that then
they hadn’t been bit (by the travel bug)
now they have

When Miche passed away I was devastated
she was the best cat ever
she had been born from one of our cat and picked from the litter to be kept
she was beautiful and smart and was an incredible mouser
she would somehow know when the kids were in distress and would sit between them to elevate tension
Pets do that

After she passed away we thought (my husband thought) this is it, no more pets, freedom to go whenever, where ever, no pet sitter needed

So that Saturday morning as I presented my question, there was no definite answer
there was not a clear “no”
That was all I needed
the house, after a year of cat vacancy, was crawling with mice
it’s an old farm house and has plenty of entrance for the little critters
I had two teens still at home, one of them being my daughter, whom I thought could use the love of a cat

My husband was to be gone for a few hours that morning, he was to pick up his sister at the airport
Daughter, I called, let’s go find a cat
On a mission we were
drive, drive, look around
I swear if I had seen a wandering cat I would have snatched it
I was looking for a young female
I wanted a good mouser and didn’t think a Tom would do the job

We drove to Pugwash, the nearest village, and looked around for kitten adds
None were to be found
when you don’t want a cat everyone has kittens to give
of course that day with little time on our hand we couldn’t find any

Pugwash has a vet clinic so we decided to look there
the clinic should have been close but by chance the vet was there
We inquired about a cat and she said that she had two Toms that needed a home
her next door neighbors had moved and left their cats behind
My daughters eyes lit right up
I thought two Toms
of course they were coming together
they had once been separated but the one that had been sent away came back
…sigh…

So off we go to see the cats and of course my daughter falls in love with them
and so home we go with two grown cats, two male grown cats,
and I’m hoping my husband isn’t home yet
and of course he is home yet and not at all impressed with my find

It’s been two years now
Buster the very large, unbelievably soft, most sociable cat
and Charlie, much smaller and reserved
have not only capture everybody’s heart, husband included, but there isn’t a single rodent to be seen around
so there
now I’ll need a cat sitter for next fall
what was I thinking

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Susan Myles, the p bone, and finding your own voice….

 

About a year ago Susan Myles got a big red horn. It is called, P-Bone, a plastic trombone. It is bright red and it speaks loudly. I walked into her office, she worked managing her husband’s chiropractic office, and she excited pulled it out and played it. Well, it was interesting.  We both started laughing hard. Buckling over. She has been musical all her life  and bought it as a treat for herself and taught herself how to play again after putting down the trombone in high school.

Only a year later and now she plays quite differently.  We interviewed Susan a few weeks ago for our radio show, At the Kitchen Table. It was really fun to interview her because she is so expressive. You can see it in these pictures, the playful looks on her face. She brought along her horn…

Susan played for us after the interview was over and she sparkled cause she loves it. Over the last few years she has really grown in her comfort level about performing. For years she felt she had lost her voice, but over the last few years she has worked hard at finding it again and you can see her at all kinds of local charity events performing with her husband. They are good to the community.She has made music more than her passion, she is also making it her profession.  She now has a big group of students to whom she teaches voice lessons.

It is exciting to be in a community and watch people bloom. As we age we grow and change and our desires and needs evolve. The thing I liked about interviewing Susan was that though she was really trying to find her voice again in a literal way, it is a metaphor for all of us. We all lose our voice now and again. We all have passions and interest that get displaced and it takes some effort to regain them.

I think in a small town it is really easy to feel judged when you start to change. We all have expectations of each other to be the same person we knew, interested in the same things. It can be hard to reinvent yourself without feeling a little judgement. To be honest I have often been surprised at the changes some people make and wonder why on earth? It is human nature to wonder. Even some might say human nature to judge. The other day I was reading a book  and one character said to another, “Remember, observe, don’t judge.”  I loved that statement. If you are just observing then to you are not evaluating, just watching to see how the flower opens.

I have enjoyed watching Susan in the last year. She took back her voice and she is is a good example to all of us that it okay to flash your big red horn, enjoy your life, have fun, and follow your passions.

 

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Look with Lorna

Sheree Fitch stopped in after her visit at the Spa. As she sat at the table hooking she said “I think I was a rainbow in my past life.” I think she may be right.

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Look with Lorna

The Olympics’ are over and here are the gold medals results

Norma’s  Sweater

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Brenda’s Sweater

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My Hat

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Megan’s Mittens

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Mary’s Blanket

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Our friend Vivian even joined in the fun

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Look with Lorna

As the Olympics’ start so does the excitement of cheering on our athletes and watching all the events.

So here in the studio we thought to celebrate the games we would have the knitting Olympics. Each of us has picked out a pattern we want to knit, and we have to finish it by the time the games are over.

I am doing a hat and maybe a matching cowl depending on how the hat goes. Brenda is knitting a beautiful sweater which I hope she doesn’t like and may want to give it away to someone. (Hint, Hint)

Megan is doing a pair of mittens and Norma a sweater. Deanne is working on a blanket.

So if you have a project that has been waiting for you to finish, now is the perfect time to get it out, watch the games and cheer on your country, and cheer us on too.

Go Canada Go

Here are the yarns we will be using

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Catherine Bussiere: Abstract

Abstract: Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world. (Rudolph Arnheim, Visual Thinking)

I like that: “which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references”

I played with that thought this morning in my kitchen
looking to distort
looking at shapes
stepping away from references
taking one thing and making it another
looking for feel rather than imagery

once taken, images were cropped
slightly modified to bring them, yet, to another place
how interesting to use one medium, photography, which is so representative, and go down the abstract path

 
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The following pictures don’t really go into the abstract category but I wanted to share them with you as I really enjoyed taking them earlier this week.

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