Diane Krys: Wool and Welsh Cakes

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

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

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

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

Diane Krys: It’s a Wrap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping in!

 

I just wanted to tell you about Lorna

I just wanted to tell you about Lorna.

You know how some people matter greatly in your life?

Well she matters greatly in mine.

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

I have watched her grow from shy to rather saucy.

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

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

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

She could walk  mile in high heels.

She has great hair.

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

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

And we are lucky to have her.

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

If she does I have a really nice one of her with her mouth full of pie.
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Catherine Bussiere: 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: 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: dining on the wild side

nestled in a small village on the Bay of Fundy
between Cape d’Or and park Chignecto
the Wild Caraway restaurant propose some of the best dish this province has to offer
the secret is a blend of passion, curiosity, enthusiasm
mixed with the best, fresh, local ingredients available
you can’t go wrong with that
yet it is hard to find

every single time I go to the Wild Caraway I am intrigued
there is always a fine taste that hits me and makes me wonder

me: how do you get that smoky taste in the dressing?
Andrew: you smoke the sour cream
me: oh! … smoke the sour cream … of course

Andrew and his partner Sarah have been running this delightful business for a few years now and the fact that they are far far away in this isolated place that is Advocate harbor does not seem to deter anyone from making the trek.
It is that good.

This week Eric and I treated ourselves to their once a year foraging dinner.
I have been interested lately about wild edibles so I couldn’t let that dinner go by.
Several courses were presented to us featuring such things as squid ink rice cracker with smoked mackerel mousse (one of my highlight), pickles of fiddleheads, spruce tips, knotweed and dandelion capers, rose hip gel, grilled cattails, flounder goujonettes (isn’t that a cute word; goujonette), sea lettuce and oyster leaf, sea rocket and goose tongue greens, smoked halibut cheeks and flash fried squid …

One after the other, dishes were brought to us. All beautifully presented, all using land and sea to feed body and enlighten the spirit.

The final touch before sending us off was a selection of sorbets and ice creams. Violet sorbet, dandelion sorbet, sweet cicely flower ice cream, black currant leaf ice cream.
I never knew dandelion could taste so good.
A spruce tips shortbread happily dissolved in my mouth as I was sipping my tea.
Who would think of such delight. Really.

The sad news is, you most likely missed this foraging dinner. The good news is that their ever changing menu always involves something from the wild side.
Go for a drive and check them out. You will be both delighted by the scenery and your taste bud will beg for more.
www.wildcaraway.com

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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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Diane Krys: Threads on the Edge

IMG_7973 In 2006 I bought a new sewing machine. I didn’t sew but I had dreams of stitching things. When I wanted to turn some of my rug hooking into pillows it was a good impetus to take the plunge. I was  eager to explore the wider world of my new found passion for hand made textiles so I opted for a basic mechanical workhorse I hoped would take me into more creative explorations down the road. It’s 2015 and my machine has served me well in the pillow making department and that’s pretty much all I’ve done with it. I used it sporadically so I’m always a little intimidated when I set it up. I still relied on the owner’s manual just to get it threaded. It seems my sewing machine and I have been driving on the straight and narrow together for a long time yet we’ve never really gotten to know each other well enough to deviate into the wilderness or go on a spontaneous adventure. I didn’t know what I needed to tap into this unfulfilled potential until an artist friend invited me to stay with her in Calgary where she was bringing the knowledgeable, talented and daring Karin Millson to her home for a small group session on how to abuse your sewing machine. It sounds like we might be running around like reckless rocks stars smashing our machines but in fact the session was about taking every mechanical sewing machine variable and breaking the rules to stretch and mine them for creative effect.

Ironically, I finally got to know my sewing machine by playing around with what I wasn’t supposed to do with it.  Karin led us on a methodical, thoughtful, progression of experimentation with tensions, threads, stitch lengths, widths, you name it. It provided me with a view into the full potential of my machine to really understand how it works and responds. I felt like I was driving my sewing machine like my standard car with all the knobs controlling stitch length, width, etc. becoming different gears I could change on the fly. What I explored is but a small sampling of possibility but I already feel I can create stitches with character and free motion sew where my hand is in the stitch work even though it’s articulated through a mechanized machine. At the end of the session we had to put our machine back to a factory setting. I must say I found a great sense of liberation in taking things to the brink and then coming back to a perfectly balanced straight stitch. Suddenly my sewing machine looks far more inviting that intimidating. I think it’s about time we went for a spin and had some fun.

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IMG_7969   IMG_7967   IMG_7970 By the way…. I’m scheduled to teach 2 workshops based on my combination rug hooking/ knitting/crochet work at the Fibre Arts Newfoundland Conference this fall!  Here’s a link for more information.  It’s an international gathering to be held in the beautiful Gros Morne National Park.  It should be a spectacular, inspiring event- hope to see you there! (If you’re interested in any of the conference workshops, please keep in mind that it’s better to register sooner rather than later to ensure the workshop you want has the registration numbers needed to run. ) Thanks for stopping in!

Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

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

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

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

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

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

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

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: Gail

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does one become old?

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

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

Time or age never affected you?

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

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

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

I love it

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Catherine Bussiere: homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catherine Bussiere: Kaouki dog

this will be our last week in Sidi Kaouki
last week in Morocco
last week of our, almost, six months journey
next Sunday we will be back in Beckwith
it’s hard to believe

it’s funny how time goes
it didn’t take too long after we got here that Charlotte started counting the days
she was ready
it was 20 + days and it seemed so far off
then the days blended in and weeks flew by

one of our highlight lately has been a daily walk
to your left or to your right
down the beach
you can walk for miles and miles
and once you’re out of this small village, its’ hotels and campgrounds
there is just about nothing but a few fishermen checking their nets at low tide

the owners where we stay adopted a beach dog named Raquel
maybe a year or two ago
I am not a “dog” person
I much prefer cats
but I have to say
after four weeks here
I very much like Raquel

she guards my sandals and glasses on the beach when I’m swimming
she doesn’t whine
she is independent
she can run for miles

She is the impersonation of “the dog”
faithful, beautiful, noble

She has a two year old daughter named Blondie who is a little bit crazy
Blondie lives up the road at Villa Soleil
often the two of them will join us on our walk
together they become a lethal duo
they will attack at random any lonesome dog
they are out of control

it blows my mind to see these lovely gentle creatures become instant brutes
then return to us, wagging their tail, with a big smile on their face
they rule the beach
secretly I admire that
their power, their strength
while I humanly disprove

yesterday was special
a little one decided to join them
they did not seem to mind
as he looked quite smug to be hanging with the fearsome two

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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: 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: 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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Catherine Bussiere: this is it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that is exciting

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

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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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.

 

Margot is a Joyful Rug Hooker and Sharing her Joy

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This rug was recently completed by Margot who started it with Deanne at the 3 day Workshop last October.  She calls it “JoyFull”.  Margot says “Thank you for launching me on this wonderful adventure”.  She did a beautiful job – look at that hair!

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Margot loves Rug Hooking so much that she taught her 9 year old niece how to hook this summer.

 

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Here is Margot’s Niece diligently working away on her Summer Fields Kit.

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Margot went above and beyond – this is how she framed her niece’s work along with photos of them together.  What a wonderful keepsake for for her niece.  Thank you for sharing this with us Margot!

If you have a special rug, or rug hooking story you would like to share here, please email Megan at dfstudio@eastlink.ca .

Catherine Bussiere: Kaffe

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: abstract in pink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: passion

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

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

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

It was precious.

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

The commentary, by Eliot, is in french.

Here is the translation:

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

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

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

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

 

Catherine Bussiere: traveling with my mom

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I know it’s fathers day
but
I’ve been hanging with my mom lately

My mom came to visit me in Nova Scotia
almost a month
she lives in Trois-Rivières, Québec
a city gal that can appreciate the country

as adults we may not spent a lot of time with our parents
with the distance that separates us I certainly don’t
but when I do it’s usually a chunk of time

the interesting thing about a long visit is that you have to adjust to each other
each others life style and environment
if someone comes for a day or two you most likely give all your best
on a longer visit the full you starts coming out

it took about a week for my mom to settle in
to adjust to our country rhythm
to adjust to our personalty
to make herself fit in

my mom lives alone and has been living alone for years
it takes adjustments

it’s funny how we both have a tendency to put each other on pedestal
(I didn’t grow up with her)
but face to face, day after day, the pedestal got shorter
we both became more human
with our faults, our imperfection
it’s a good thing
it’s real, it needs work and it works

I drove my mom back to Québec last Wednesday
we stopped in Kamouraska for the night
treated ourselves to a beautiful B&B
if you ever drive through Québec do stop there
this little village on the shore of the St-Laurence river is so beautiful

I’m in Trois-Rivières now
for a week
a country gal that can appreciate the city
it’s good to spend time
beyond the surface there is so much to learn

Catherine Bussiere: light

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

beauty filled my eyes
urgency to capture the light

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

Catherine Bussiere: fruit salad and biscuits

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there are times when all is planned
we’ll do this and we’ll do that
and all is great

today was running nice and smooth
all moves going in the right direction
spirit high and happy
everything in place
ready to go

and then
as the train is about to roll
the phone rings
unsettling things
no alarm
nothing major
just enough
to break momentum
to put a dent
a hiccup

no matter
the food
the company
the enchantment is gone
and leaves room to accommodation

somehow it shouldn’t be a big affair
yet it is felt from the inside
and not much can be done about it
you must follow direction
and your whole body seems at odd

when it’s all said and done
there’s an empty feel left
the anticipation hasn’t been fulfilled
there is somewhat of a void

it only last so long
the day goes by
it will be a memory
it may not even make it

funny how things are

Catherine Bussiere: school

For the past three year I have been an assistant in french classrooms.
The main requirement for the job was to have french as a first language.
I only have 1 year of university under my belt and even if I’ve done a few years of college, when it comes to certain jobs it doesn’t mount to much.
When I realized I could do this job in two nearby schools, one being where my kids went, I jumped on the occasion. I’d been self employed for a while and the prospect of a regular paycheck was rather incentive.

In three weeks I’ll be done my third year.

During these past three years I’ve had the chance to experience first hand what it is like to be in a classroom. From grade four to grade twelve I’ve spend time along side teachers going over the basics of the french language. Core french it’s called. During these years I have seen how in general the idea of speaking another language is, at first, for most, appealing. The little ones generally have fun with it. And they are quite good. They remember words and sentences, they have fun with it. But as the years go by, it doesn’t take too long, it seems like what was once fun becomes dull and unnecessary.  By grade 8 or 9 the kids are done with it. Even though they are told how important it is to know another language, even though they could potentially get a better job (or a job at all), they are not interested any more and some seem to have lost the little they learned in previous grades.

Many times I’ve come across this attitude of “I’m not good at it” therefor let’s not even try and keep the door shut. I know better. I know better because I have been around those kids for a few years now. I can see the potential. I can see how smart they are. I have kids of my own. Been there. Open up little one, don’t do that to yourself.
It takes a lot of nurturing to convince a kid (or anyone maybe) that they should give themselves a chance. To keep that door open even if it is only a crack. To inspire them.

At the end of the day, after the first year, the important thing for me was not so much how much french they learned. It was that they had met someone from elsewhere who spoke a different language. It was that they could say that they knew someone from Quebec and that person was fine. It was to bring down barriers and let go of the fear. It was to create a relationship of trust and care.

I sometimes wonder how it goes for other subjects. Math, english, sciences. How are they doing there? How much of what we do, what is taught, is for keeps, is of use.

In three weeks I’ll be done my third year and I’m calling it a wrap.
My daughter, my youngest, will unofficially graduate from high school (she’s skipping grade 12 by doing two correspondence courses on her own). We will celebrate with a journey through Europe and after, who knows. I feel like I’ve been in school long enough. I need to experience new things. Have new challenges.
It’s been a good journey though. It has been really good to meet all these fine young individuals. It’s been good to find behind a rowdy front, attention and mindfulness.
It’s been good to nurture the needs and to be trusted to do so. It’s been good to see my own barriers and fears fall.

I’m looking forward to a new journey and I will be happy to hear, when chances come along, the sweet sound of: Bonjour madame Catherine.

 

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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: 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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Diane Krys: Beginnings

I recently showed my friend Rita how to rug hook. It brought me right back to my first rug hooking experience. While nothing could be easier than pulling a loop, it can feel awkward until you get comfortable holding everything and handling the wool. I felt such tenderness for all beginners when I watched my friend take her hoop and hook out for their inaugural spin. She fumbled and wrestled a bit and was very intent on trying to make her loops the same height and perfectly spaced. I remember feeling the same way. In fact,once I had made some progress on my first piece, I wanted to go back and rip those wonky beginner loops right out. I’m glad I resisted the urge. They’re an important part of that rug’s story and I like that I can pinpoint my first steps.

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First loops,2004.

To start with I set Rita up with a bit of backing so she could noodle around. When she leaned over to show me her first doodles she was all too aware they were wiggly and wildly spaced. Where she saw imperfection, I saw beauty. There was a lovely innocent flourish to those sweeps of color. Honestly, I found them way more appealing than a tidy grid of loops. I didn’t think to take a specific photo of them at the time but later I made a few doodles of my own inspired by her baby steps.

IMG_5658To me, those inconsistent lines begged to be embellished, not ripped out, so I showed her an option to bring a bit of yarn in like another swoop of the paintbrush.

IMG_5668Now you might think I have something against neat loops and tidy rows but the reality is I like to rug hook corn rows too.  I don’t view any loop; big,small, tidy or wild, as right or wrong. They are all options and a design choice. Because there’s such a wide range of work you can create with rug hooking techniques,from functional floor coverings to art pieces,I like to play around and teach my hook more than one dance move.

We worked away side by side for a few hours and I found it refreshing to keep company with someone just starting out. I often find a lot of inspiration and charm in the unfiltered, uninhibited impulses of early work. We are all children again when we try something new.

Our afternoon had me thinking back to my earlier pieces and I realized my current rug hooking work has areas of wonky loops exactly like the ones I was so eager to pull out all those years ago. The difference now is I create them with intent. In certain projects I like mixing even rows and uniform loops with sections of kookiness for more textural variety.  Sometimes progress takes us right back to where we started.

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Detail of D.T., Diane Krys,2013

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Detail of Sawtooth, Diane Krys,2013

I spoke with Rita the other day. She hasn’t trimmed any wooly tails off the hooked surface yet because she’s unsure of the best way to cut them. She’s popping over this week and she’s anxious to mow them down. Personally, I can’t wait to see her shaggy pillow top. I’m thinking it might look kinda great.

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Serendipity, Diane Krys, 2006

Recent work on display at the Edmonton International Airport

http://flyeia.com/shop-dine-relax/relax/art/illusions-revelations-transformations

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

Pablo Picasso

Thanks for stopping in!