Things I love more as I get older

There are things I love more as I get older….

humility, that softening of heart and soul,

high heels

and comfortable shoes.

Lipstick, my mother told me I would,

gentleness,

good manners,

and quick wit, the kind that catches you by surprise.

Youthfulness in the young, but especially the old.

Lines around other people’s eyes

(I am still coming to terms with my own).

Marriage

and faith in all it’s forms.

A kiss on the top of my head from someone who has known me forever,

or at least twenty years.

The smell of fresh air on someone I love.

A bath before bed.

A good story from the horses’ mouth.

Cozy sweaters

and fried eggs.

These things seem to matter more now than ever.

simmer time

Ok, it’s stewing time here in Amherst Nova Scotia

yup, in November I often simmer

on a back burner and I get a little bored waiting for the next idea

that could possibly become a reality.

Some of my ideas are bad, like this morning when I looked at the empty stone bank building and thought I should do something with that.

It would be a good idea if I needed a building but all I really need is a project.

That is why I simmer. I am not waiting for someone to give me an idea of what I should do next.

I just need to wait and see what I can do next. What motivates me and what I am inspired to do.

That is the simmer.

If you don’t simmer you never really get a well cooked , delicious stew. I know that.

So I came in to my office, unsure, thinking, if only I had an idea.

Then a little package came in the mail from a woman I met at 30 Church, my clothing store.

She said after coming to 30 Church and the studio she went home and read my blog from start to finish and that she was inspired. That inspired me.

Then I got a little thank you note from a lovely woman else for an event we hosted.

Then I thought, “Hey, maybe you just need to keep doing what you are doing.”

Two nice notes on one day. I posted them above my desk to remind me to keep doing, thinking and writing. To remind me of the kindness of others.

To remind me to do the same for other people who are good to me, or whom I enjoy.

Then I walked down to the bowling alley by myself and had a piece of pan fried cod. It was really good.

I got very little done today, and that’s okay.

Cause I’m on simmer.

There is no need to be on full boil all the time.

 

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Instagram and Me and Tanis Fibre Arts

There are lots of weddings today around here. I know these things now because we dress people for them at 30 Church Women’s Clothing across the street. It is a lovely thing to help people get ready for big important days in their lives. Who knew I ‘d like it but I do.

I am midway through a project of 51 small squares that combine landscape and abstract. It has been so lovely. 51 because I am 51. I take small square pictures on my walks and then hook versions of them. Sometimes I still think I am 50, When I hang them I might make myself 49 because that would be 7 by 7.  I am one of seven sisters and I like symmetry, so I’ll be 49 when I hang them if hang them  7 by 7. I think I will actually have to make 60 or so to get the right combination, but I’ll not be sixty for nine years. It is fun to talk nonsense isn’t it? A little foolishness is good for ya.

Yesterday Tanis from Tanis Fibre Arts , a beautiful knitwear designer and dyer came by the studio. If you are a knitter you should visit her site to see some great designs and colour ways. While she was there she gave me some great tips on doing My instagram is….

DeanneFitzpatrickStudio

I think Instagram is a great way to get inspired. I use it like a magazine with a cup of tea, and scroll through it following people who post beautiful images. Tania also showed me how to edit my images. I thought you could just do filters but  you can also highlight, lighten etc. She showed me quickly and now I am instagram happy. You can see some of the squares on my instagram. I encourage you  get the ap and follow Deanne Fitzpatrick Studio and Tanis Fibre Arts.

I think what I loved about Tanis visit is her willingness to teach and to share. I also loved that someone who surrounds herself with colour on a daily basis was inspired by the colour we create in the studio. She really got me thinking about pallettes, about making things even more beautiful than they might already be. You see beauty has no limits, it is like love. The more we share with each other the more we become aware of our own possibilities and those of others.

Summer shots below, and my rugs of the Pugwash estuary…..

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Relish December

December for me has never been a month of being over wrought. To me it is a month to relish. to try to slow down a bit.

It is a festival of lights and I love how the colour lights up the dark nights. It feels less like winter is impending and more like something lovely is about to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be busy this month but I mean to enjoy it. I refuse to get overwhelmed by the baking, shopping, visiting, cooking. I want to relish in it. I will do all the things that need to be done but I won’t let them do me.

That means I may or may not make a fruitcake this year. It also means my shopping will be close to home and easy. It means that whatever I need to do will get done but I won’t be holding to myself to standards of other years, or to the standards of others. Each year, each home is it’s own little entity.

I mean to be grateful for who is here, and mindful of who is not.

I want to have faith and joy in a season that is meant to be a celebration.

I mean to celebrate this dark month with little white lights, presents, prayers, and thoughtfulness.

Never mind all the fuss.

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Catherine Bussiere: Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

for Hope it boiled down to taste

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: gardening

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

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

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

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

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

But it is so pretty
And fragrant as I walk through

sigh –

I got on my knees
I started pulling

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

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

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

I have kale and parsley
that should last a while

I’m experimenting

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

I’ll keep you updated

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Catherine Bussiere: Rose

it’s rose time
yellow roses
pink roses
they look like wild roses
are they?

I collect the petals
I bring 1 cup of sugar with one cup of water to a boil
I pour the syrup over two cups of petals
I let it steep half a day
or more
I pour it in a jar
it’s pretty
I pour it over ice and add bubbly water
lovely

I bet I could pour it over vanilla ice cream
now I’m talking

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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: week end

attending a workshop on medicinal herbs
I learned that the burdock root is not only eatable
but tastes as good as parsnip
that plantain is good for bites
and flower tea can be brewed by the sun
with leaves and flowers
collected from the lawn

went to visit someone who saves seeds
has a greenhouse
which is
at the moment
filled with tall plants of all sorts
some flowering
others about to

before too long
seeds will be collected
then sowed early fall
various greens will grow through the winter
providing fresh nutrient
in the leanest time of year

got transplants at my nephews
( they have big greenhouses )
tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants
contemplating the promise of wholesome food
rows and rows of greenery of all size
I get some lemon basil too

saw my niece who has an 8 months belly
little baby boy soon to be born
her first
she glows

spring time
some days already feel like summer

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Catherine Bussiere: Jenn & Cadence

it’s a cool morning
chances of frost last night
I decided yesterday to wait a couple more days before I transplant my sunflowers
I did transplant kale last week
my greenhouse is full of it
I like to let some plants go to seeds in the greenhouse
at the moment I have a carpet of young kale, dill, cilantro, and the odd lettuce

I woke up early this morning
sun right onto my bed
I finished a book that I had read a few years back
I like to reread sometimes
some books are like friends that you need to visit every now and then

I pulled the blankets off
– chilly –
I put them back on in a hurry
I assess the situation
t-shirt on the dresser, sweater near by, those cozy leggings that I could wear one more day
a farmhouse can be cooler in the spring then in the middle of winter
either you’re out of wood or you feel it’ll warm up soon enough, no need for fire
the wood stove is going on a diet

I visited my friend Jenn and her daughter Cadence a couple days ago
both will celebrate their birthday this week
one will be six, the other 35
I came to have this ongoing discussion about age
I was curious to know what Cadence had to say
she was thrilled to be interviewed

I have to tell you that Jenn is a potter
a few years back she left a secure job with Canada Post, build herself a cozy studio, and became a full time potter
she makes beautiful mugs, plates, bowls, vases, you name it
she started off selling at the local farmers market
when I visited her she had just completed a big order for a shop in PEI

Of course Jenn isn’t only a potter
she’s a mom, a gardener, a cook, she weaves, sows and knits, she teaches, she dances, she plays
she smiles and laughs easily
a lovely person

In a way it wasn’t much of a surprise when I asked her about age and aging that really, she didn’t think much about it. Here is what she had to say:
“My goal in life is to be in every moment, so to think so far in the future,
which is what I think when I think of age; it ends at some point, and that’s why people think about it … If I get ideas in my head about getting older I just roll down my imaginary window and I throw them out (laugh) like I’m driving a car.”

“I think that there’s so many things to do there’s no possibility that I will ever get them all done. So I trust in myself to be doing the things that I wanna be doing and that’s as good as I can get. I think that’s the best I can do, and if I start not doing those, I feel it, I just don’t feel like I’m in a good place, so then I change them (laugh).
I don’t know if it’s a good thing, I can’t make myself sit still.”

You’re an older lady; how do you see yourself?

“I wanna be a roaming around the world 80 year old … I wanna be fearless.”
“I think about attachment and I don’t want to be attach to anything”

Nice

Wiggly Cadence in her seat, mini cup of tea in hands gracefully answered my questions. She too doesn’t think much about age. Obviously there’s better things to think about when you’re five. Like her big brother not letting her play nintento at the level she’d like, how many friends she will invite to her upcoming birthday, and that hen that has been sitting on eggs for days… So much things to think about.

Cadence

What does age mean?
“How old you are.”

What is old?
“31 is old”

Is there a number you’re excited about?
“ 12 “

Why?
“I just like that number”

Is there something special that happens when you’re 12?
“well … it’s my birthday”

Jenn: what are you going to do when you are a grown up?
“ I will visit you sometimes “

mama’s heart swells, we drink more tea

I think I will visit someone today.

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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: homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catherine Bussiere: Susan and Regina

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

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

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

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

What is old?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regina laughs and says “Naughty!”

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

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

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

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

Why do you think that is?

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

(Big laugh from both of them)

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

When was beauty not a problem anymore?

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

About youth?

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

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

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

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

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

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Deanne’s Diary : Back to the Rug Hooking Blog

IMG_0340 Dear Diary, It has been a while since I sat and wrote to you. It seems I have been talking in other ways with Facebook, Instagram, and Coffee with Deanne videos. There is only so much a girl has to say I s’pose. Today though I took a look at you, my blog and found you needed an upgrade. Isn’t it odd that for an upgrade I went back to simplest of themes again. No need to see every post and what has been going on for months here in the studio. Lets make you current, lets make you matter. I have taken to writing the diary in my newsletter because it reaches so many people. We publish it here too but I think now and again I’ll come back here just to  tell you how I’m feeling. I work here at the studio six days a week and then I have a day of rest. Sometimes I hook but it is no burden on a Sunday. So there should be time to talk to you a little. To spend some time. Right now I am loving close ups of my rugs. They are little colour studies. I learn from them sand they make me see the whole rug in progress differently.   IMG_0346 IMG_0345 IMG_0349

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: on the move

packing once again I go through an accumulation of receipts
we are leaving tomorrow morning for Ouarzazate
I love these names
Chefchaouen, Ouarzazate, Tagounite, Essaouira

I am packing once again and trying to organize my “stuff”
what goes in the large backpack; where
what goes in the smaller backpack
what goes in my purse

I empty everything
I even wash the smaller backpack
I think somewhere along the way there was a leak in the ice tea bottle
it got soaked, it dried, I forgot about it
today it looked dirty and felt… well, like it needed a wash

my purse had accumulated a series of receipts, directions and hotel names on the back of printed boarding passes, museum tickets, grocery lists, business cards
I look at them all
I paid 75.00 (euros, pounds, dirham?) at Rodeo something for three Bonnie
three Bonnie?
what was that?
think, think, think
oh yeah, those were chicken wraps just outside the train station in Casablanca
we were starving
they tasted good

I found a map I drew of the main streets around our apartment in Barcelona
brings me right back to the holidays when the boys were with us and we walked the town
memories

tomorrow we leave for Ouarzazate
there isn’t much there apparently except for their film studio
I’ve never visited a film studio
this week we watched “Gladiator” because some scenes were shot there
so cool we thought, we’re going there!

the main thing is that we are heading south and are going inland
rather up and down land
we will be getting into the Atlas mountain range
and then, when we come out of there, we will be at the edge of the desert
the cool thing is that we will be getting further away from tourist traps
if that’s possible
I hope

this week we are to meet and live with a Berber family
still through this helpx thing that we do
I am looking forward to it
It has been nice enough to be by the beach and stay with our American hosts
but we are in Morocco
it only seems right to spend some time with Moroccans

maybe by next week I will have learned how to make tagines
or a proper couscous
maybe I’ll tell you about it

have a good week

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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: Chaouen blues

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

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

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

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

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

welcome to Morocco

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

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

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

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

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

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

you see where this is going

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

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

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

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

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

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

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: la Taha

two more days until our visa expires

on another journey we go

this one has been good

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

that you could easily slip into this community

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

we have found generous people

that took us in

shared what they had

made us feel at home

tomorrow we will cook a big gumbo

invite a few neighbors

make one last almond cake

today we will go for another walk

maybe not the great big one we had planned on

but at least a little one

I was hoping to see almond blossoms before we left

even the trees in their greatness granted me my wish

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Catherine Bussiere: almond cake

Last Sunday I did make an almond cake

I don’t think I’ve given you this recipe before and it is one of the best cake I make

It barely has flour and the little it has could be replaced by a non gluten one

it has no butter or milk so it is dairy free

boring you’re starting to think

think again

this cake is mostly nuts, eggs a little sugar and can be covered with whipped cream

originally it was a hazelnut cake

I once replaced the hazelnut with almonds

I played a bit with proportion

and this past Sunday I did something very decadent and exciting

I made baklava syrup and poured it all over the cake once it was done

this is what I will share with you today

My new favorite almond cake

for the cake you will need:

2 1/2 cups of freshly roasted ground almonds (roast the almonds then ground them)

6 tablespoons of flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

10 eggs

1 1/2 cup of sugar

Beat eggs and sugar. Add the ground almonds. Mix in flour and baking powder.

Bake in a large dish 20 minutes at 350ºF.

Now you can eat the cake just like that or if you want bake it in two round cake pan and you can put raspberry jam in the middle then cover it with whip cream or skip the jam and make a ganache (melted chocolate with cream) and cover the cake with it, whatever you fancy, it’s already delicious.

But if you want my new version, once the cake comes out of the oven, pour this syrup all over it.

for the syrup you will need:

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

3/4 cup honey

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves (if you have some)

4 lemon slices

4 orange slices

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool syrup.

To be honest I did not quite mesure the ingredients for the syrup. If you don’t have much honey put more sugar and if you don’t want to use sugar put more honey. The key for this syrup is the citrus and spices.

Also if you go with this version and think wow, too much sugar here, you can reduce the amount in the cake a little or just skip the syrup all together.

In the end it is a really easy cake to make and is absolutely delicious, nutritious, healthy and quite stunning if you go the whipped way. Speaking of, next time I will make it with the syrup and then serve it with a beautiful dollop of vanilla whipped cream.

That ought to be good.

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Catherine Bussiere: Atalbeitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

do you think I could have one in my greenhouse?

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

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Catherine Bussiere: I love Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: Catalonia Art

yesterday we went to visit the Catalonia art museum

I mostly spent time walking through the modern art exhibit

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

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

there might have been one Picasso and one Dali

of course there were some Miro

but otherwise I really didn’t know much

How refreshing and exciting to discovery all this art

here is some of it

enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

But for what I have I am thankful

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

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Catherine Bussiere: coming to an end

as this day wears off so does this part of our trip
two days ago Isaac and Haley left for Paris
Isaac taking his belle to the last leg of her trip
she will be going home for Christmas

these past two days were spent doing small tasks
going one last time down to the village
enjoying the 2km path through the woods
looking again and again at this beautiful scenery
soaking it in
saying good bye to the butcher
buying one last almond croissant (make that three actually)

over a month has gone by already
our long time dream of Provence to be over

crazy

today for the first time since the beginning of this trip we had nothing on our agenda
first day of no work, no visiting, no traveling
I walked around the property
I took my time
I walked through the olive grove, into the woods
Geraldine was telling me how wild this place was ten years ago
the way she speaks makes me think of an archeological dig
it was all forest
they did an enormous amount of work to bring it to what it is now

I admire the stone work
some has been redone, some, in the woods, is barely visible
I can’t help to think about the past
who built these walls
when
what were they for
olive trees?
in places huge trees have taken roots
how old are they

I walk some more
at the spring I pick up the clay cup and I have a sip
fresh
I go by tall rosemary bushes
it’s hard not to
I rub my hands with their essence
I look down at the rolling hills
in the distance I see the village
on my back the cliff stands tall
no clouds are caught in it today
I look at the olive groves all cleaned up
much work was done there

this week, working away in the sun, I stopped for a moment and thought how content I was to be outside in such a beautiful environment
yes, this experience has been good

our work is done here and our journey to continue
tomorrow we will be off to Barcelona
this coming week we will reunite with our son Isaac and our son Sam who is joining us for the holidays
now that for me will be 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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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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Diane Krys: 5 Days in Vancouver

I recently attended a Maiwa Symposium workshop on Granville Island, Vancouver. Tilleke Schwartz’s free form, graffiti style embroidery inspired me to pick up needle and thread and try my hand. In and out of class I found a feast for my eyes and imagination.

Funny how I can get up at the crack of dawn when I’m away!  What a lucky break to find myself in a room with this   view of False Creek and downtown Vancouver.

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Since I was up so early, I would visit the Emily Carr University of Art + Design library en route to class. It was a treat for a magazine lover like me, to indulge in the most interesting,international art, design and textile magazines imaginable.

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Maiwa has also compiled an extensive collection of textiles, books and artifacts, primarily from India. It acts a resource centre and workshop space. It was wonderful to be surrounded by this rich textile history as we took in Tilleke’s presentations and worked on our own creations.

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Tilleke brought a work in progress to share.  Her pieces are a mind map of her wit, whimsy and response to the world. You can be familiar with something through images but there’s nothing like a personal encounter.  Awesome!

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I would lunch across the street at the bountiful Granville Island Market.  Every basket of fruit and berries was piled meticulously to a perfect peak; it made for a stunning “fruitscape.” I thought this attention to detail was like the repetition of a tiny plain stitch to create larger,dynamic rhythms and patterns. Clearly, I had stitching on the brain.

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I never knew what would catch my attention walking back to the hotel after class. It might be a piece of art or a guy making giant bubbles with a couple of sticks and a string. I was as mesmerized as the kids in this photo. I couldn’t help thinking of Janet Echelman’s aerial sculptures as the bubble moved and morhped.

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Friends picked me up for dinner one night and we went out for Italian food tapa style. I love sharing plates and sampling-you get to try so much more on the menu!  Isn’t it lovely when food looks so artful and appetizing.

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On an after school excursion I whipped over to Knit City,Vancouver’s big knitting event. CaterpillarGreen was a find. Their hand dyed self striping yarns are ingenious.

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I had the last day to myself so I decided to visit the Museum of Anthropology. They have an extraordinary collection of First Nation totem poles,art and artifacts, as well as, other ethnographic collections. I’m always awed by the quiet dignity and magnificence of totem pole carvings but the simplicity of these Haida bentwood boxes is also beguiling.

 

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Given I had just spent a few days stitching, I was drawn to the needle work in their collections. Somebody please stop me if I ever want to take up making bobbin lace!

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This bright, little piece of Ukrainian embroidery touches on my own paternal Ukrainian heritage. There are so many stories, connections and history in textiles. I feel a tenderness for it’s hand stitching; the variances all show the maker’s hand and soul.

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I’m home now with a suitcase full of laundry and a mind full of new ideas.  It’s a good trade.  It’s refreshing to take in the thoughts and ideas of another artist, try out a few new techniques and breath in the culture of another city.  Vancouver was trip to savour during the cold months ahead.

 

Catherine Bussiere: I love today

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

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

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

now there’s a plan

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made apple jelly yesterday

I am productive sometimes

Catherine Bussiere: Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stone Builder

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

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

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

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

Things might as well be lovely.

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Catherine Bussiere: lots to do

DSC_0279 DSC_0283 DSC_0286 DSC_0295 DSC_0299 DSC_0307 DSC_0309 DSC_0311on the news and to get me going
– those are very small Beckwith news by the way
the mosquitoes are back
it’s been driving us crazy
it’s the end of the summer crop
they are small and they are hungry

then there is the garden in it’s full mature beauty
I walked through parts of it this morning looking at patterns
closing in to borage
how velvety it seems

a friend of mine spent the week here working away at four short videos
she is a percussionist extraordinaire
it’s been fun helping her out

but the most exciting news at the moment
is our upcoming trip to Europe
this week more then any
things have developed
we now know for sure that we will be helping out for a month
harvesting olives in Southern France
it sounds romantic
maybe it’ll be brutal
I doubt it
I’m up for new grounds, experiences and challenges

on my to do list coming right up
is a blog site (shared with my daughter)
that will feature our adventures in Europe
I’d like to keep posting photos and make short videos

I will keep a post on Deanne’s Sunday blog
it will most likely be linked to my new blog site
must figure that out

for now my friend is waiting
today we must wrap up her video projects
lots to do
have a good week

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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Making Time Monday

 

 

 

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As I sit here on a Monday morning in my office  I see many small projects that  need attending to, yet the only thing I think I really want to do is hook a rug so that is what I’ll do. I think I will put on something small because we have hardly any small rugs left in the studio right now. I want to always make sure that there is something here for everybody and that my pieces are affordable. It is something I have always managed to do.

We are in the process of creating a new Making Time Journal . It will be Volume two. You can get a sneak peek of it below on my desk. It is exciting to see a second volume come to fruition. Mary Williams has done much of the selecting and editing for it. It is a perpetual calendar and we are creating it rather than a yearly calendar this year. It has a little space beside each day for you to write a little note, or keep your calendar, keep track of birthdays etc. Each week there is a new writing and an image.

We also just got a new online lesson ready, it is a swimmers workshop! This one will include a downloadable pattern. So keep your eyes peeled for the new online course on the Swimmers. Last week we had a real live swimmers course in the studio. Everyone made each swimmer someone they knew or remembered so it was fun to see the personalities develop through out the day.

Many of you have been asking about Thirty Church, The Women’s Store. We are busy trying to get our inventory in and ready but it is coming in slower than we’d like. There are somethings we do not have control over. It is frustrating waiting but twit we must. We are in the process of making a webpage for it so you’ll see what great clothes we have and you can shop online if you like.

So as it rains outside I am here writing you a note, thinking of what rug I might put on my frame, and honestly, thinking about my lunch!

You can’t be inspired all the time. It is ok to be hooking, writing, or creating and thinking about your lunch.

Take it from someone who knows.

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there’s a sneak peek on the desk above of the new Making Time JournalIMG_4005

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Diane Krys: Driving Under the Influence

With a title like that you might be thinking this is going to be about some wild party or a cautionary tale but it’s not.  It’s starts with a safe, responsible drive home though the countryside. On this drive there was a beautiful quality of light where a sunny summer prairie sky was transitioning to evening. My husband was at the wheel and I happened to have my camera on hand. I was moved by the light and the passing landscape so I poked my camera out the window every so often and snapped.

At home I sorted through the blurry and nondescript. I didn’t create any jaw dropping photos but I did find a few that held fragments of the strong impressions I felt. There was such stillness in the landscape it seemed surreal; almost like we were driving through a diorama. The colours were smooth and flat and the whole landscape distilled into simple colours,shapes and forms.

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The simplicity of the photos brought my thoughts to the late abstract painter, Richard Diebenkorn’s work. A genius painter’s work and random amateur photos don’t compare but there was a kind of reduction that connected these disparate things for me.  After reading a bit about him and exploring his paintings a few months ago I found myself especially mesmerized by the way he captured a delicate space and balance between realism and abstraction in his landscapes. Perhaps it was looking at his work months ago that brought my awareness to these recent moments where a row of old granaries fused into a singular graphic shape. The light at the  time of our drive seemed to bath the scenery in a way that removed the extraneous details and left the essence.  Perhaps that’s what my subconscious was really responding to when I felt compelled to randomly stick my camera out the window.

 

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That how artistic influences work I think. We may take things in with one intent but we actually have no idea if or how they will expand our mind or views down the road. Often we’re not even conscious when we are under their influence. Influences can be like new windows lined up and waiting in your mind; poised to give you a new view at unexpected moments like when you’re driving through a landscape you’ve experienced many times before and suddenly it feels different.

Sitting in front on my computer with Diebenkorn back on my mind, I took these thoughts a step further and played around with my photographs.  A horizontal landscape turned vertical further removes it from reality. There can be a completely new story in a different orientation. It can be a story about process and mining imagery in a new way or it could be a view to the essence of something once it’s stripped of preconceived ideas.  I think it’s possible for someone to drive around the world and never really see anything new and yet, you can sometimes find a whole new world on a small stretch of familiar road.

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Thanks for stopping in!

I have a new post on my Diane Krys Studio blog, “A Western Wedding”

 

geometrically Inspired Landscape by Tzigane Caddell

Tzigane Caddell came to Kaffe and Brandon’s workshops and brought along a rug she finished after attending a design workshop she did with me last fall. You c an see from the look on her face that she is really happy with the rug she created and she should be. It is beautiful. It is great to watch people blossom in their work. This geometrically inspired landscape is a natural progression from the geometrics that Tzigane has found herself attracted to for years. Her sense of colour is jewel like for this rug. I think she did a marvellous hob and I so appreciated her bringing it to show me.

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Catherine Bussiere: Kaffe

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: abstract in pink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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