Maritime Mary: Nature’s Art

The light has to be just so and your viewing angle must be perfect to see it. The labour of a spider, the web of entrapment is a mesmerizing piece of detail and finery that humans cannot reproduce. 

September brings this artwork to our porches, on clotheslines, attached to plants and planters and eaves. I leave them and watch the process of nature at work. 

when the light hits the queen annes lace

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

the way you know is sudden and special,

it is time to stop and breathe and just look.

When beauty lays itself before you,

offered up,

simply and quietly,

it means to be taken in.

The walk might be the same every day,

but the light is never the same twice.

The sky does not have a way of being

that makes you accustomed to it.

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

The sun rises every morning and transforms the same

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

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

That is the power of light

as it shifts and paints

and makes me believe what I might have thought impossible.

 

 

Maritime Mary: AWalk

A beautiful walk,

Along lovely paths, 

Spruce root steps, 

Dappled sunlight,

Perfection!

How lucky are we to live

Where natural spaces are plenty,

Where you can be alone

And where you can hear the music of nature. 

   
    
   

Catherine Bussiere: a wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

the groom saw his bride

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: gardening

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

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

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

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

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

But it is so pretty
And fragrant as I walk through

sigh –

I got on my knees
I started pulling

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

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

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

I have kale and parsley
that should last a while

I’m experimenting

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

I’ll keep you updated

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Catherine Bussiere: Rose

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: nature walk

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

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

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

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

so much to know

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: week end

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

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

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

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

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

spring time
some days already feel like summer

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Maritime Mary: It’s Generational 

I grew up on a dairy farm that my parents built with hard and dedicated work. My brother farmed that same operation and now my nephew is preparing to do the same. 

Farmers talk about their beautiful animals, about production and lineage, of silage, corn, grain and grass. Their schedule is dictated by the seasons and successful spring, summer and fall crops are so important to feeding their livelihood throughout the year. They watch for that perfect timing, for letting the animals out to graze, for fertilizing, for cutting and harvesting.  They observe nature closely. 

As I live over two hours north of my family, I was always asked by my parents if they were “further ahead” than in Cumberland County. What they were asking about was the greenness of the grass and the state of the buds on the trees. Over the years, my brother would also ask that question and last week, my nephew asked the very same thing. Farmers all, watching and talking about the land. 

Now I know that come August, the question will change when it will be about the height of the corn crops. “Is the corn this high in Cumberland?”  I chuckle in anticipation. 

Generations of farmers who provide food for our tables, for our health, are all connected through their love and respect for the land. Here’s to a successful growing season! 

         

Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

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

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

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

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

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

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

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catherine Bussiere: 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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Maritime Mary: Through the Window

I know  that it’s not why I attend regularly but I am very drawn to looking up and out the windows at church. 

They are lovely windows, way up high above the altar, and are soon to be filled with beautiful stained glass refurbished from our old church.  But for now and until then, I look up and watch through the clear glass.  Only a bit of a tree top is visible but I have watched pretty little clouds drift by, various bird pass, dark sky give way to blue. I just cannot help looking up and waiting. I’ve even nudged the person sitting next to me to draw their attention to something up there. 

But really, isn’t this part of the reason for going to church anyway, to pause, reflect and be quiet? The bonus is observing nature through the window. 









Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

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

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

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

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

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

welcome to Morocco

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

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

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

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

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

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

you see where this is going

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

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

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

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

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

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

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: la Taha

two more days until our visa expires

on another journey we go

this one has been good

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

that you could easily slip into this community

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

we have found generous people

that took us in

shared what they had

made us feel at home

tomorrow we will cook a big gumbo

invite a few neighbors

make one last almond cake

today we will go for another walk

maybe not the great big one we had planned on

but at least a little one

I was hoping to see almond blossoms before we left

even the trees in their greatness granted me my wish

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Catherine Bussiere: Atalbeitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

do you think I could have one in my greenhouse?

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

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: Belgentier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: highlights

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

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

that was Canterbury cathedral
highly recommended

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: this is it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

that is exciting

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

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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Catherine Bussiere: I love today

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

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

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

now there’s a plan

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made apple jelly yesterday

I am productive sometimes

Catherine Bussiere: Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: lots to do

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– those are very small Beckwith news by the way
the mosquitoes are back
it’s been driving us crazy
it’s the end of the summer crop
they are small and they are hungry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Bussiere: a kettle and a pan

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

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

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

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

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

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

it was simple and grand

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

Precious.

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Catherine Bussiere: August 3rd

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

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

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

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


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Catherine Bussiere: it’s time

it’s berry time

it’s garlic time

it’s cherry time

it’s chanterelle time

oh my, not enough time in a day time

I love this time

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Catherine Bussiere: Kaffe

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: abstract in pink

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: passion

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

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

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

It was precious.

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

The commentary, by Eliot, is in french.

Here is the translation:

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

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

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

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

 

Catherine Bussiere: la jardinerie

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my brother and his wife have started a business together

three large greenhouses mostly filled with flowers

and another with tomatoes and cucumbers

here are a few things that caught my eye

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Catherine Bussiere: bike ride

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

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

it’s June
and it’s summer

Diane Krys: Artful Gardening

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Bussiere: light

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

beauty filled my eyes
urgency to capture the light

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

Catherine Bussiere: day off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As good as it gets..

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My favorite barn is this one. Why do I have a favorite barn? Who knows. I just do and it is this one on the marsh. A few nights ago I took a long walk out past the barn to meet the bay of fundy once again. It’s like an old boyfriend that you just love running into again and again. I love the colour of it’s skin, that moody grey brown mauve. That bay has reinvented blue so many times that I now know a dozen more shades of it.

Brown like  it is, like the water dug it up and turned it over and over and mixed it with blue.

Sky like grey turned to silver and highlighted with cream.

The wools I could use to describe you never measure up to the way I feel when I meet you again after a winter’s absence.

The lines I draw are just feeble compared to the strength I see in the waves that roll over your broad back.

Winter was long but you are back.

Fundy strong and wild.

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Catherine Bussiere: rhubarb and fiddle heads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Pomquet

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: Easter pancakes

Beautiful sunny day here in northern Nova Scotia

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

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

Oh, I love this time of year.

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

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

Happy Easter!

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Catherine Bussiere: recipe for a great day

You will need:

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

bannock
sausages
homemade cookies

spirit(s)

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: ice storm and soup

sometimes I just feel like soup
that was the case the other night
March is definitively a good month for soup
all winter really thinking of it

so here we go for enough soup to feed 6 hungry frozen souls

1 large onion
1 red pepper
1 extra large carrot
1/3 of a medium size cabbage

chop chop chop all of the above
drizzle some olive oil in a large pot
on medium high heat starting with the onion, caramelize the veggies

add some salt, some pepper, cumin, garam masala (if you have some kicking around)
add a little sugar

take your time during this process and maybe even turn the heat down
this is when the aroma of your soup gets developed, roasting veggies and spice

then

Add the equivalent of a can of chickpeas
little more or less is fine (I had some left over)
add enough water to make it soupy
if you have broth it’s better yet
otherwise add a cube or two of bouillon
at this point I added a few shake of cajun mix (if you don’t have any replace with a dash of cayenne, some oregano and any other herbs that may inspire you)

Bring to a boil then add 1 cup of uncooked noodles of your choice or if you have left over cooked noodle throw them in, but maybe do that last minute as they will swell.

Simmer until the noodles and veggies are done. Add 1 can of tomato sauce. Whatever you have on hand. This will thicken your soup nicely. Taste and make adjustments. Turn the heat off and add the zest of one lemon.

Serve and shake some parmesan on that = Wholesome deliciousness!

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Catherine Bussiere: still life

still life is what occupies my mind as I walk under yet another snow fall
I like that: still
as in awaiting, soundless, unruffled
in french we say nature morte
nature being nature and morte being dead
not quite so nice
there’s potential in still
there’s possibilities
there’s peace

it’s pretty drab out there this morning
I can’t get myself to find another bud or pretty moss to photograph
I feel like snapping bits as they are
plain and simple
in their meditative state
I click very few
let it be dormant
let it be still
be patient
it’s Sunday after all

 
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winter is

Winter Remains

Hockey Games and Saturday Night Storms. We drove home Saturday night in the worst kind of weather. A forty minute drive took an hour and a half . It was clear when we set out but weather was promised and we got it. Blustering winds and snow covered roads. It makes you appreciate yellow lines.

I got home at one and was so would up I put everything away instead of falling into bed. I poured a nip of red wine and read til two or even later. I read until the rush of storm driving was gone.

The next morning I cooked a turkey. Let it slow cook in the oven all day. Turnip and carrots and summer savoury and gravy. I fell asleep in a chair at two third as the aroma sifted through the house. Company for supper. Old friends, the kind you call at 4:30 for supper at 5:30.

Brown sugar sauce poured over blueberry ice cream for dessert.

Winter remains.

Sometimes it is too cold to walk so I go to the rink . Around and around. The same scene rolling in my head yet I am grateful it is there so I can get my pace up with out falling.

Today I walked through the snow, about a mile. Tonight I’ll cook another winter meal and I’ll hook on my dog rug. Maybe knit a little.

I really should unfold and refold every piece of wool in the studio. I do that once a year but my book is good so I know there is competition.

Cozy. warm. Peaceful.

Winter is .

 

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long winter evenings

Another winter evening is starting to fall upon us. The light lasts a little longer but the evenings are still long. The other night I drove in the light until six o’clock. It was so nice to have the light a little longer. I have to admit though I like the dark evenings and mornings too. I go up to my studio after supper and hook under the lamp light. It is difficult to chose colours but if you know your colours you are all set. In the morning if I wake up early , like five am, I just snuggle in the dark for another snooze. There is kind of a comfort in the dark.

Where I grew up winter started at three o’clock, right after school. Anytime after three was called the evening. Now I find it is more like five o’clock before we consider it evening.

I do miss long walks on clear roads with no ice. I miss a cool wind against a light fall or spring jacket.  Winter isn’t easy but there are wood fires that cozy it up some. There are soups and stews, and getting cold and warming up. There are hot baths. You can light the candles early cause it is dark . I also love wearing warm scarves, and pretty cowls. What do people in warm places do with their sweaters? I love pulling on a baggy sweater.

When I look at the pictures  below I also know that I love the palette of winter. Greys and greens,whites, creams and taupes. This is the palette of my home . I feel comfortable in it.

I guess I try to make the best of winter. I get overwhelmed by snow storms but there were two days this week that there was barely any snow on the ground and you could walk around like it was spring. In Nova Scotia, we get those little reprieves and I appreciate them. It feels a bit like getting away.

I have been hooking and knitting a lot in my long evenings. I fill them with colour. I think they might be a bit grey if I did not. I need things to do . I have also been visiting. You’ll find people at home in these winter evenings and they welcome a bit of company. I too like it when someone comes to the door and stays for a cup of tea. It breaks up the evening and lightens things a bit. Winter company is as welcome as spring.

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