Winter sets in

It happens so suddenly, that after Christmas feeling. Just a few days ago we were awaiting the magic and now it is past.

Personally I feel a kind of peace to have things back to normal, but also I feel a sense of loss.

I love the idea that it can be Christmas all year long, that we can keep that Christmas spirit, but if that was perfectly true the magic of Christmas would be lost.

I love gathering. I love the beauty of the lights. I love the season.

On the other hand, I do not love the winter. I just try to accept it.

I must adapt to this new season. This season of  winter, with all it’s faults, beholds a great deal.

It is a time to renew and prepare.

It is a time to collect out thoughts.

A time to collect out thanks.

In all the barren and bareness, there is so much joy and hope.

So much anticipation of what might become.

Those bare branches will bloom again. I just have to wait.

Over the past four months I have visited a local Syrian family who has moved to our community. I have watched them adapt to winter so easily, with such gratefulness and acceptance.

It is cold, yes.

It is slippery. It is wet. It is windy.

There is also a fire in my wood stove.

The pantry is stocked.

Life is good here.

Watching someone else appreciate the peace here has made me more grateful in general.

When I start to waver I remember that others have come a long way to be in these blizzards.

Many other wait, and dream of the day that they can build a snowman with their children.

So there is loveliness in the bare trees.

When the roads are bad I will try to  just settle in,

find some hand work,

say my prayers,

and be grateful even when things about the winter are getting own my nerves.


img_0707

The pond was fit for skating yesterday. Today it is ten degrees.

img_0735

This photo of my friends was taken by a photographer from the states who was here on a Rotary International Film crew. It is so beautiful.

img_0698

I am hooking neutrals…..

img_0827

Where thou art…

You cannot be everything all at once.

You are what you are.

Beauty is on the inside.

We know all of this . We have heard it a hundred times. Yet we wonder.

Am I enough?

We would not be saying, “I need to lose ten pounds.”

We would not be comparing ourselves to others if we were sure we were enough.

Recently I was surprised when  a few of my friends and myself all agreed that sometimes we felt not enough.

We talked about it. It was our own thing, we owned it. It was not that people made us feel that way. We were just that way.

A few years ago there was a photography trend on the internet where people wrote “I am enough.” on themselves a had their picture taken. You have probably seen them.

I liked them. It is good to reinforce the idea that you are enough.

Then I started to feel that gnawing feeling. If she is enough, how come sometimes I don’t feel enough.

My friends and I  were honest with each other. Sometimes we compare ourselves with others. Sometimes we feel that we are not enough. Not  enough, not good enough, not loving enough, not kind enough, not thin enough.

Lately I have been hearing many women say…”Oh I am past all that.”  Some are. I am sure.

But some I am sure, are not.

Some are past it some of the time.

Many struggle with it occasionally.

It is only human to wonder if you are enough.

Some days I am enough.

Some days I am more than enough.

But frankly, some days I could do better.

Some days  I could be kinder, more generous.

Maybe I returned home with kitchen envy.

Maybe I ate a big pistachio square at the local deli.

Maybe I snapped at my husband.

Maybe I looked at the beautiful people across the room and felt frumpy..

Maybe I did not do any of those things in the  last week but I know I am fsusceptible and know they might happen again. Cause sometimes I am  good and sometimes I  feel I’m a bit …well you know… a bit “not good enough”.

I just want to say that this struggle seems real to a lot of us.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” said Theodore Roosevelt, and that was before instagram, Facebook and photographic filters.

That was before we were all faced everyday with the marvels of social media where no one ever posts that they picked their nose. Warning: If you are thinking of doing that just to even things out a little, don’t. It is not a good idea. It is just something we don’t need to know.

The thing is comparing ourselves to others might be the thief of joy, unless it makes you strive to be a little more, a little kinder, a little healthier, a little better.

Only a few of us have been blessed with the kind of self possession that keeps us from looking around at what the other fella is doing. If you have it, good for you. Honestly, that is great.

For the rest of us, we are only human.

Sometimes we might forget our blessings.

We have been given hearts to love and minds to think so it is natural to wonder.

And sometimes we might even wonder about ourselves.

img_8968

img_8973

img_9040

img_3507

img_3490

 

 

img_0287

img_0165

img_0227

img_0242

img_0244

Instagram and Me and Tanis Fibre Arts

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

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

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

DeanneFitzpatrickStudio

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

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

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

IMG_0137

IMG_3556

IMG_3630

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

1Q9A1886

DSC_0002

DSC_0013

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

1Q9A0967

1Q9A0973

1Q9A0976

DSC_0030

DSC_0031

DSC_0035

DSC_0040

DSC_0052

DSC_0055

DSC_0060

DSC_0066

DSC_00691Q9A0955

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

_Q9A0729

_Q9A0733

_Q9A0737

_Q9A0743

_Q9A0745

_Q9A0750

_Q9A0756

_Q9A0766

_Q9A0769

1Q9A0623

1Q9A0624

Catherine Bussiere: Jenn & Cadence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice

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

Cadence

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

What is old?
“31 is old”

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

Why?
“I just like that number”

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

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

mama’s heart swells, we drink more tea

I think I will visit someone today.

1Q9A0292

1Q9A0295

1Q9A0330

1Q9A0344

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

DSC_0026 DSC_0030 DSC_0034 DSC_0050

just be yourself…no one cares

from the archives…

Dear Diary, While my daughter bagged groceries for her hockey team last Saturday I was held captive at the local grocery store. I had a book, but still….

After a half hour of standing I went for a walk. I keep my camera with me now almost all the time so when I found myself in the floral shoppe, I said, “Well there is beauty everywhere, even in the most mundane places.”

Who would think these photos  were from the grocery store? Orchids, tulips, roses, gerber daisys, they were all there to touch, smell and see. So I got out my camera and passed the time. When you are forced to be somewhere you begin to see things differently, look at things more closely. I felt a little weird with a big old camera in the neighborhood grocery store but you know, you just have to get over yourself if you want to make stuff. It’s natural to worry what other people think but it’s not good to worry so much you stifle yourself.

So I put that strap around my neck, and started shooting the flowers close up. I just decided that if someone wanted to roll their eyes at me, they could go ahead. My sister used to cross her eyes when she was little for fun, to torment my mother. My mother used to say, “Wilhelmina, if the wind changes while you are doing that, they’ll stay crossed forever.”  So I just hope that the eye rollers know the risk they’re taking. No one wants their pupils stuck up under their lids if the wind changes.

The thing is, no one really cares what you are at. They might like to observe it ,judge it, even roll their eyes about but essentially they know that you are you, and they are them, and that we are all really up to our own devices. So if you want to haul out a sketch book, a camera, a rug hook, some knitting needles, go for it. Be yourself, and let everyone else be themselves.

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

DSC_0162 DSC_0163 DSC_0165 DSC_0174 DSC_0178 DSC_0179 DSC_0184 DSC_0189 DSC_0191 DSC_0193 DSC_0200 DSC_0204

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

DSC_0014 DSC_0029 DSC_0030 DSC_0037 DSC_0038 DSC_0039 DSC_0043 DSC_0052 DSC_0156 DSC_0161 DSC_0182 DSC_0198 DSC_0202

 

 

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

DSC_0052 DSC_0053 DSC_0056 DSC_0057 DSC_0061 DSC_0064 DSC_0065

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

DSC_0016 DSC_0080 DSC_0085 DSC_0112 DSC_0120 DSC_0154 DSC_0155 DSC_0167 DSC_0168 DSC_0454 DSC_0456 DSC_0474 DSC_0475 DSC_0502 DSC_0515

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

DSC_0246 DSC_0247 DSC_0248 DSC_0250 DSC_0262 DSC_0265 DSC_0267 DSC_0269 DSC_0275 DSC_0281 DSC_0285 DSC_0292 DSC_0296 DSC_0305 DSC_0309

 

 

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
DSC_0381 DSC_0386 DSC_0387 DSC_0396 DSC_0403 DSC_0405 DSC_0407 DSC_0412 DSC_0413 DSC_0421 DSC_0422

 

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

canterbury nightCanterbury 2Canterburypetit tout nu pétanquesversailleentréefenetretour eiffelcabanonolivier olives

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

DSC_0044 DSC_0045 DSC_0066 DSC_0071 DSC_0082 DSC_0102 DSC_0110 DSC_0111 DSC_0113 DSC_0123 white cliff

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Festival in Beckwith

there is plenty going on in August
people getting married, trips, reunions, festivals

Festivals!

do you know about the Beckwith Bash
I did mention it last August and now a whole year has gone by
yes, the time has come again
yoga, drums, music, gumbo, baklavas
the works
there is a lot to do but it’s a lot of fun and it’s next Saturday
August 16th
on our property in Beckwith

On my to do list:
make roux (for the gumbo)
paint signs
get the art shack ready for kids

if you are in Cumberland County it’s worth a drive
look for the yellow signs in Port Howe
and outside of Oxford

for the line up and more info click Beckwith Bash

getting ready lounge stage hula buster tarping tent city small drummin property Beckwith Bash

what a week it’s been

Last week was so much fun, I missed it on the weekend. We had a wonderful workshop with seven people on working big. You can see Fiona and Paul leaving the workshop in their convertible.

Then we launched the Yarnstormer, our new mascot for the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, along with our brochure for 2014. There was over forty people out at town hall for the launch and the website s just now getting revamped.

We also had a group of travel writers come, sponsored by the NS Dept of Tourism and it was lots of fun to teach some new people how to hook. I gave them the studio tour and Megan taught them. Lots of hooker jokes on twitter with their visit. People love hooker jokes so we might as well join them I guess.

And that bicycle I showed you…well I made it all the way up the big hill on Academy street with out stopping on Sunday. woo hoo! The weekend was filled with family and visiting and my bike. On Saturday I had to stop part way up the hill and walk the bike but Sunday was triumph!

This week we are working on a new online lesson on Hooking Water so keep your eye open for that.

So lets hope this week is just as delightful . It has started out nice with a visit from one of our Pattern of the Month Club members!

 

IMG_3621 IMG_3628 IMG_3631 IMG_3642

Catherine Bussiere: day off

DSC_0119 DSC_0120 DSC_0122 DSC_0124 DSC_0127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Bussiere: 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.

DSC_0074 DSC_0042 DSC_0045 DSC_0048

How much Amherst can change in a year…

Downtown Amherst is changing place. Today I left Breakfast at Brittainy’s our town’s new breakfast restaurant after having coffee with a bunch of women’s friends. I then picked up a flower for Heather Shatford, the harpist who played at the Roger Bacon Dinner  at the Curlling club. Donna, the florist,   has just celebrated being a year in business in the downtown. I then stopped at Manasseh and picked up some Dragon’s Breath Blue cheese to go with local beef steak that I plan to cook for summer. I then dropped into Damaris for a a Express Manicure ( twenty minute mani for $20) . Well that was my downtown today. Pretty nice I would say.

It is amazing how much a downtown can change in a few years. I love having access to interesting groceries at Elizabeth’s new store. When I was picking up the flower for the harpist I bought myself a succulent for my desk…now that I have my own office.  Picking up the blue cheese I stopped and chatted with friends who were lunching at the Art of Eating Deli. I have to say the feeling in and about the downtown  has really changed. People are more interested in it. They have come to value it more and it is lovely to see.

I find it so great to be able to walk from place to place and get what I need. Yesterday I need a quilt mat and rotary cutter and Beth at Mrs. Pugsley’s Emporium had one waiting for me. I use it to cut up that sexy jersey…woo hop. Everything I need.

I needed some decor for our Thirty Church, The Women’s Store. Between McCully Market and Dayles Department Store I was all set for the basics.

Together these businesses make up my community. It is so great to have them, use them, and enjoy them.

I love the changes. Keep on Keepin On Amherst!

20140501-151301.jpg

20140501-151310.jpg

20140501-151324.jpg

A Woman’s Guide to Small Town Business

Every once in a while someone asks me about starting a business…theses are the things I know

 

A Woman’s Guide to Small Town Business

Fill a need in your community.

Foolish optimism is necessary.

Pay attention to your passion, it should be nurtured.

Invest in yourself.

When you follow your passion , you love to work

You do not have to be good at everything.

Find people who are good at the things you are not and work with them.

Work with people who love what they are doing because their passion will inspire you.

Life shouldn’t be boring. If you are bored you are on the wrong path.

Discover your own community there is gold to mined there.

Money is a great tool for creativity but not the only one.

Ideas are for playing with.Turn them inside out and upside down and watch them morph and a change.

A new project is a beautiful thing, run with it.

Don’t network, care about others and they’ll care about you.

Gossip gets you nowhere, it’s mean spirited.

Be a blessing whenever you can.

20140327-145814.jpg Feb 20, 2014 012 20140221-153424.jpg sari-silk-printed-005

What is Christmas?

Lat night both my kids and my husband were home. We all were sitting around eating and talking. To be honest that it is Christmas enough for me. The hockey game was on. I was knitting. We were all passing around a bag of sweet and salty popcorn. ( get some!) We had a few laughs, a few groans, and naturally there was some rolling of the eyes. We are after all, family. Christmas is different for me now. There is no late night assembling of toys, no over tired children crying, it is a grown up Christmas. It is about getting together. It is more fun giving presets than getting them.

Christmas is an extremely busy time for my husband. He has a mens wear store next to my studio. Every customer they have almost, comes in to the store in December. By Christmas he is beat out. The last thing he wants to do after work is Christmas shop. Yet I have to say that has never interfered with our enjoyment of Christmas because he loves his work, his customers and his store. Our son works there with him at Christmas which is also a blessing. By Christmas day he is tired. When the kids were little he would sleep away boxing day.

A few years ago, after a beautiful Christmas Day with all the family around , my mother in law quietly passed away after Christmas supper. Even that though , we agreed was a good Christmas , because she had been surrounded by those she loved all day. She had lived a long, full life, and she was ready. We had eaten, sang, opened presents and laughed. It was her favourite kind of day. We don’t tend to remember her anymore on Christmas Day then usual because we remember her all the time.

Yesterday I ran into four people who I know were having a difficult time this Christmas. It can be very sad for some people. After work, over a plate of nachos, a friend said that this time of year incidents of domestic disputes rise dramatically. It is a challenging time of year for many people. I know that. We all miss people we have loved, or still love. We are reminded of so much. Yet it is also a beautiful time of year when we are reminded to care for those around us, to go out of our way to show some extra thoughtfulness and love.

Recently someone said to me that it bothers her when people say “it does not feel like Christmas”. She explained to me that she felt Christmas is inside of us. It is what we do. The preparations that we make is what makes our Christmas. The Christmas Spirit is not fairy dust dropped on us. It is the fairy dust we create by rubbing our hands together and getting down to business with a little baking, a little prepping, buying or making special gifts for those we love.

Any time of year is good to love each other, as my mother in law always said, “we are here to be good to each other.”, but at Christmas we are reminded of the importance of friendship, of kindness and of love, for that is the real meaning of Christmas. So it is not about the shopping, even though at Christmas we are both ( my husband and I ) busy selling and wrapping presents, we know that the buying of those presents is meant to represent the way one person feels about another.

 

20131220-102839.jpg

 

 

You can see a picture on the top shelf here of Robert’s Uncle Mike who started the store ninety years ago as an immigrant pedlar selling around the county from a horse and wagon.

20131220-102848.jpg

Catherine Bussiere: visiting

as I get older
and maybe because of winter
and living at the end of a dirt road
I find it easy when 5 o’clock comes around to just stay put
or like today as this minimal yet steady snow

– is it even snow
up North they’d have a word for it
here with my limited vocabulary it has to be snow
but it’s so thin
it’s a tiny dry snow falling at an angle
it barely covers the ground and will be gone tomorrow
one word in another language would say it all –

what was I talking about
yes; visiting, isolation, age, weather, snow

… as this minimal yet steady snow is falling I could have a very lame but still an excuse not to go anywhere

so once in a while, if you are anything like me, you just have to kick yourself out the door
bam
really this time of year I could cuddle in bed with a pile of books and read and sleep until spring
it really does have a lovely ring to my ears right now
I must focus

last night I went to a party
I barely knew a soul
the hosts are still fairly new in the neighborhood
and their guest were all strangers to me
but they live up the road
barely a five minute drive
in this area might as well be next door
we must go I thought (we being my husband and I)
even just for an hour
make an appearance
be social

I didn’t expect anything
best thing really
no expectation
and it was lovely
a young women named Miriam had made dulce de leche, which is like a caramel, that she poured in some tiny phyllo pastry cup and covered with whipped cream
it was as delightful as it sounds
quite decadent really
another young women whose name I forget had just bought a general store between Truro and Tatamagouche with her partner
young couples establishing themselves in the country
escaping the city lights and getting into the rhythm of the seasons

over the course of a couple hour, in a toasty kitchen heated by a beautiful wood stove
I met a new generation of back to landers
young couples from the city trying to make a go at living on the land
or dreaming of it

I have seen way to many farmhouse emptying those past few years
elders unable to keep up with the seasons demands
leaving their homestead with no one to take over

how refreshing to meet these folks
well worth getting out of the house

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth, wonder, just watch her….

Elizabeth, what can I say.  There was  an old beat up restaurant. She bought it.  I called and said I’d help her for the afternoon. Maybe we could tear up the floor. She was happy .

So I showed up and there she was in this building that had been closed up for three years. It’s big. On the counter was her fancy purse.

And beside it was a  bottle of Aveda Chakra Scent.

On the table was an Aveda Candle. Lit.

I just shook my head. Hope.

Just cause she was there the place was full of faith and hope.

That is the spirit she brings with her.

The candle and the chakra spray were beside the point. I laughed at them, but there were kinda of symbols.

There she was all alone, happy as a lark. Hopeful as a robin with her little candle and a bottle of perfume and a big old musty building.

If it was anyone else I’d wonder, but because it is Elizabeth, I’ll just watch her.

She’s a wonder.

She has the Aveda Spa , Damaris, across the street from my studio , and she knows how to transform things.

In this new building she is going to move her business , Simply for Life, and The Art of Eating Deli will relocate there with her.

She is also going to start Monasa, a health and local food store there.

We tore up most of the floor that afternoon.

We looked over the architectural drawings. We aired the place out a bit.

We moved things around and talked as we did.

Elizabeth is taking  something that was on the edge, and is starting to return it to the community.

We need women like her. They make us all a little more hopeful.

Light a candle and celebrate her.

She’d probably like it if it was an Aveda candle, but anyone will do.

IMG_2443 IMG_2445 IMG_2447 IMG_2446 20131003-100925.jpg IMG_2449 IMG_2450 IMG_2451

Catherine Bussiere: Grow a Farmer

 

Over the past few years
slowly but surely
there has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
by school, trade or self
about the essence of who we are
our very core, implanted in us
to grow and gather our own food

a forgotten art

Taken care of by something so big that it has lost sight
and so have we
of natural beauty and perfection
in a need to control and profit
our health and our environment has been jeopardized

But it is so easy and we are so busy
to support such endeavor
I can go to one place
the world is there for me
from China to Argentina, Israel, Costa Rica
Fruits and vegetables, perfect, shined, preserved, waxed
flown express from unknown fields to impersonal mega stores

in the meantime the air is polluted
the water is polluted
those vegetables have lost their original traits
and we are made to believe that we should at all time eat
one cup of this and two cups of that

what to do, what to do
I’m so small and I’m just me

Well…

over the past few years
slowly but surely
there’s has been a movement
of young men and women
that have educated themselves
these men and women are working hard and are not hard to find

Go to your farmers market
join a CSA program (community supported agriculture)
buy locally grown produce
meet this new generation of growers
embracing the battle of health and well being
bring your neighbor
tell your coworker

It is an easy thing to do
it is a pleasant thing to do
it’s the right thing to do

A couple links for you
now that you are all excited about such a nice and easy way to promote beauty!

CSA in Amherst:  http://www.wysmykalfarm.ca

A great link for more csa and farmers market around Nova Scotia:
http://adventuresinlocalfood.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/2012-csa-list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Joy

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the Kitchen Table: CFTA Interview

Dear Diary, I am lucky to live in a vibrant community. A few years ago a group of community members decided that we needed a community based radio station and they worked hard to make it happen. With only one full time staff person and a legion of volunteers this radio station serves Westmoreland and Cumberland Counties. It has a good strong signal and tons of community support. In a recent  blog post I told you that Frank Allen and I are hosting a radio interview show at the local radio station and we interviewed the man himself, well almost, Art Brown as Santa Claus, and his wife Virginia.Our show is called At the Kitchen Table because it is a conversational style show, and we want it to feel as if we are having a cup of tea together. You can listen to the interview on the CFTA Archive page at this link if you would like to listen to it:

http://cftafm.com/CFTAFM/index.html

choose archives, then At the Kitchen Table

In our radio show we interview local people who are doing things that inspire others. Personally I am inspired by the people who work so hard at the radio station itself. I love it that we have a community based radio station where you can get involved and create programming. For me, interviewing local people is a chance to fill my life with interesting stories. I am a naturally curious person. Some would call me nosy. I love the chance to sit with people and ask them their story. There is such a lovely freedom in it.

The radio station is truly a beautiful community based effort

I left this interview with Art and Virginia Brown inspired by their goodness, and their varied interests. I hope you enjoy it.

santa6santa2santa5

My friend Don

Dear Diary, My friend Don Miller is just about the best. When he was doing his Masters in Divinity, after finishing an under grad in Drama (I love that combo) I was doing my Masters in Counselling. After we left Acadia, where I only knew him a little, we both settled in Amherst. From there we became yard saling buddies and stayed friends ever since. The other day I dropped in to take his picture and he said, lets go to the balcony. He is the youth minister at Amherst First Baptist so we did. Everything he does has a creative touch to it. the idea of a head shot at a desk was just not enough.
That is one thing I have learned from Don over the years. If you are going to do it, do it beautifully. If you are going to bother, than be bothered, be engaged, make it worth something. Don has a kind of creative midas touch. He knows how to take the simplest of things and make them special. It is only one of the gifts he has.
This fall he started a little bible study on Wednesday noon. Myself and a few other women come every Wednesday and Don teaches us a little something. We are informal. I have learned though that my friend Don knows alot, and he knows how to teach it. He is good at bringing things to life.
That is what creativity is all about. It is about bring things to life, taking the inanimate and filling it with presence. So whenever I am around Don , whether he is running a youth group, putting on a play, selling a birdhouse, I am amazed at the life he brings to the event and I feel lucky that i know him and that he knows me and we call each other friend.

20121207-164727.jpg

20121207-164739.jpg

20121207-164747.jpg

20121207-164755.jpg

4 rooms

by Catherine Bussiere

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wool and winter

Dear Diary, When I look at those woolen pendleton shirts in my studio I am reminded that winter is coming. I got my skates sharpened. I can’t skate, but I am thinking about it. Tonight there is an open house at the curling club. I am thinking about that too. I have gone back to yoga, just once a week, but still I am there. My walking is good and steady. I rarely miss a day.

I have started volunteering at the local radio station, a community run radio station, and together with a friend we have proposed a few ideas that we hope to carry out.

I have a skein of red wool all balled to make a scarf. I am knee deep in my rug hooking. I am almost ready.

So my preparation for winter has begin.

It is not just about getting out the winter clothes. When you live in the north, you have to get ready emotionally. You have to get ready physically too.

Our wood is piled high. The chimney has been swept. My turtlenecks are folded in my drawer. The mittens are in a basket by the door. My winter tires are on the car.

It is a time for wool. I love that about the winter. It makes you feel like you can never have too much wool.

Remember the free hook in  on Saturday, November 24, we still have room,email  info@hookingrugs.com to register.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come for the Hook In at the Studio

November 24, 10 am to 2pm

A Hook In at Deanne Fitzpatrick’s Studio 

33 Church Street Amherst Nova scotia

Free..no admission

Bring a brown bag lunch and we’ll provide tea , coffee and treats

You must pre register by emailing Lorna at rug studio@eastlink.ca or Deanne at info@hookingrugs.com, or  call 1-800-328-7756

Space will be limited so register soon…..

Come for a no pressure fun day to sit and chat and hook and enjoy the company around you. It is a chance to settle into the upcoming Christmas season, plan your winter projects and enjoy my studio for the day.

 

 

 

sweet old small town

 

Dear Diary, I just sent off a little girl with a tiny cat mat, ready to hook it on her drive back to Halifax. It felt quite nice to see an eight year old get interested in hooking a rug. Her mom was starting to o she will have lots of help. A little child, a rug hook, a cat mat, and a little hoop. So nice to to see that rug hooking has a big future.

The town has been busy here this week as we had a fire on Victoria Street, destroying the local Dolly’s bar, and the apartments above it. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been helping those who were displaced and the community of Amherst, like always have been generous and supportive. I live in  a caring community. So many people have inquired if we were ok. We were, with not even any smoke damage. We came in and sealed the doors in the afternoon, and thankfully we did not get any smoke damage at my place or at Mansours.

Recently Amherst has undergone a major downtown renovation with a new park, new sidewalks, lights, and beautiful plantings. It is really lovely. Once recently, someone was reflecting on the people of Amherst as a whole, and he described them as humble. I had to agree. You can never paint a whole community with the same brush, but I think it is true that so many people of this small town in Northern Nova Scotia. We have some humility here. After the fire, you could see on everyones face, “There but for the grace of God go I.” We all knew it, we all felt it some. It is something I like about Amherst, the community’s commitment to each other and the support we offer each other.Small town life offers something beautiful. I think there is no comparison. I love it here. We got something money can’t buy, and makes big box look pretty small.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer so pink

Dear Diary, Somethings are just so gorgeous they take your breath away. Yesterday it was a jar of peonies across the street at the Damaris Spa.

Beauty.Summer. Pink.

I love it when a small business puts a little love into their place. It is the little things that make me want to go back to a place. I was just picking up a mascara and the peonies made me feel like I was doing something grand.

 

 

 

 

 

backroads and business

Dear Diary, I like to go out on the road for a drive to nowhere. Back roading, some call it, but really for me it is just a drive. A few weeks ago I took a ride to Truro the back way, avoiding the highway and I found this beautiful old general store. Sadly it was closed but still I had to stop to take a picture. Times  are changing and stores like this barely exist anymore in Nova Scotia. Small business is changing, most of us have special niches that allow us to make a living. You cannot doing selling chips and chocolate bards anymore. I struggle between lament and acceptance of this. You cannot be sad because times change, because different opportunities arise for people. For example, our little local drugstore, Pugsley’s sold out to Lawtons last week. It made me sad, but it also made me happy to see Beth decide to do this on her own terms. She took off this weekend for a little trip, free from work and happy. That is a good thing for Beth. I will miss her but she will still be around doing all kinds of interesting things. People are not their businesses. A small business is often about passion. It is often about community. It is often about the person running it.

I never think of it as the big boxes running small business out of town. It is more the will of a community that makes the difference. People choose what they want, what they want to support. It is not always possible to support smaller businesses, but it often is. Personally, I try to when ever I can. Not willy nilly, just because they are small, but I support them because they are small and doing a good job. I support them because they offer me something great, that I can only get from them. Small businesses are not charity cases,they are independent people working to create a life for themselves. I support them when they are good at what they do.

I too wish things could stay the same. I know that not all change is progress. I also know that change happens because people change and communities change. It is not always about dollars and cents.

I watch my own business change because I change, or my family changes and grows. A small business is a bit of a practice. It always has been. We go at it everyday because it is what we know. We go at it everyday because it is what we love. We do it because we need to. We do it because we have to. We also do it because we love to.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday night in Amherst Nova Scotia

Dear Diary, For quite a few years I have seen a sign around town for Dick’s Jamboree. At first I thought that it was something I would not be a bit interested in. Then one Sunday morning I went down to Station Street to take some pictures and I ended up taking one of the door to Dick’s Jamboree. I found it quite interesting so I decided I wanted to go find out what it is about. It turns out that every Tuesday night in Amherst there is live performance, singing, fiddles, accordion, mouth organ, you name it. It is mostly country and blue grass. You put your name on the roster and you get a chance to sing or play. It seems that you get to play only two songs. I think if patsy Kline had of appeared on the stage in a mist they would have allowed her two songs. There is a house band, all good musicians, and they back up who ever gets up to sing.
It was a sweet evening. An orange crush and a bag of chips kind of evening. I had to say I was proud to say that this was happening in my town once a week. When we stepped outside, one of the organizers Dinks Gouchie told us that they give all the money they raise away, keeping only two months rent in the bank. It is an ongoing charity. The walls are lined with old record albums, a fiddle hangs on the wall as a memorial to a former musician. There is selection of guitars by the stage for you to pick from if you need one.

So there you go, that is Tuesday night in Amherst,Nova Scotia, some of that sweet old small town kinda life.
If you are in town on a Tuesday night check it out. Admission is three bucks, and they pass around candy through out the night for free. How sweet is that .

20120529-191457.jpg

20120529-191522.jpg

20120529-193246.jpg

20120529-193310.jpg

20120529-203949.jpg

20120529-204023.jpg

20120529-204039.jpg

rug hookers lost and found

Dear Diary,

So today I spent all day working to create a beginners guide to rug hooking that I can send to people who subscribe to my newsletter list so that they know what rug hooking and my studio is all about.

Here is how it went.

I wrote and put together the pictures for three hours this morning. I got excited about it and decided to bring it in to show Brenda. I save it but when I go to show her my three hours work not on my stick. I feel sick. I take the sticks and go home. I don’t cry. I don’t throw a hissy fit. I just rush out the door.

I walk down past the deli cause I parked far away. I get home check my computer, and all my work is gone. Still no hissy fit. Then I go to work and do it all over again, but make it even nicer. I go to save it on a stick. I look everywhere for my little blue velvet bag with the sticks. Now there is no sticks. I still do not crack up though it occurs to me that perhaps there is a conspiracy, but I relax when I remember there are no conspirators, just me, stunned arse that I am.

I call Brenda, certain I left it at the studio. She says it is not there. I empty my purse and walk slowly through the house like I am creeping up on someone. Sill no stick. I call Brenda again, thinking, the bag was little and she did not see it.  She checks again, no little blue three inch blue velvet bag. She looks around the studio. No, not there.

I then empty my purse again and check my car. Not there. I think about calling Brenda again but the I picture her rolling her eyes and decide not to. I decide to retrace my steps. I drive back downtown pulling into the parking lot, looking out for the blue velvet bag, careful I too not run over it. I love these sticks, they are the back up for my brain. My brain needs back up.

I do not see. I am still calm, but kinda sweaty. No hissy fit. I walk past the deli. It is  busy and full of people and Simon yells out at me, “Deanne Deanne” I hear him say to his customers ” Someone stop that woman” ( I might have made that part up, not sure but it sounds familiar). Then he showed me this picture.

He said, Some guy came in here and showed me this picture and said “Do you know this woman?” and I said, “that’s Deanne.” A man had found my sticks and went home opened them and printed off a picture he found on it of me taking a picture of myself in the mirror at the deli, and brought it in to the deli so he could return it. He bothered. I thought it was so nice. The sticks were returned.

I continued to work on a free beginner’s guide for rug hookers and I finished it tonight. I just love the idea that rug hooking is easy to learn, and that now I have a handy little guide that teacher’s can give away to students, that I can share with readers. And I love a small town where some one bothers to return the sticks of a fool like me.

Sweet old small town life.

 

 

 

 

 

beauty is in the details

Dear Diary,

If you look around this town you’ll see some magnificent details in the buildings. Whether it is an old house, or a big stone building there are some simple but beautiful points of design that you can look to for inspiration. It always goes back to the idea that design is really everywhere. You can get ideas where ever you look.

Beauty abounds.

It is engraved in stone.

It is lost in the details.

It is waiting to be found

so that it can be recreated  with your own ideas,

create beauty everyday.

I just can’t say that enough

because I believe it makes people happier to use their hands

and their minds to add a little more “lovely” to the world.

 

 

 

 

make something beautiful

Dear Diary, today was spring. You just felt it. I knew it was coming. The other night my neighbour Wayne called at ten thirty. That’s odd, he would call so late. “I just wanted you to know”, he said, “that if you listen real close you can hear the peepers in the pond tonight.” That is a good neighbour.

The pussy willows are everywhere now, having reached their prime. Kim, who has her own blog, called Millie’s Mats, said that our door stoop needed to be decorated more, “That white house is just not doin’  it for me anymore” is actually what she said. It is too early for flowers but I did fluff up the front stoop today with area step stool and a few baskets of wool. Springing things up.

We got some fresh new aprons for ourselves with Create beauty everyday embroidered on them. Katherine and Brenda modelled them for you here.

Buds are starting to appear on even the barest of branches and people are wanting to get out. Brenda and I took a good walk to the top of the hill today. We did not go down to see the  Tom the turkey, but I thought about it. I told Brenda , you have never really seen the colour turquoise til you seen Tom’s neck. Yes, Fred’s turkey has a name. He lives there with two wives. Even with a neck like that, he has two wives. He’s a breeder, you see, and Fred raises turkeys from the eggs that Tom and his fair maidens make.

Spring makes you want to get out on the marsh, to wander round your yard, to take a road trip. It stirs you up, and so it should. Spring Inspires you.

I hope you all make something beautiful tomorrow, create beauty everyday.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Stop Worrying About Your Neck

Dear Diary, It happens, sometime I go by the mirror and I am caught off guard. Who is that person who snuck up on me? Where did the girl go? Perhaps some of us are free from the concerns of wrinkles and greying hair, but I am not. I know, I know, “You are only as old as you feel.”, and “The only alternative to aging is….” but come on, sometimes when I look at myself, I am a little surprised by the appearance of a new line or two.  Mind you, I try not to get too hung up on it but truthfully I am more vain now than I was fifteen years ago.

When I was in my twenties, I asked my mother, “Why are you wearing lipstick?”. She did not bother to answer. As was my mother’s way,  she just gave me one statement and killed the conversation. “Deanne, You will love lipstick too when you are forty. ” She is right. I have as many lipsticks as I do sketchbooks. There is one everywhere just in case. One in the car, one in my purse, one where I dress, and a few in various odd pockets. Twenty somethings have no idea of the real value of a good lipstick. My mother was right. Again.

And thank goodness that soft feminine blowsy tops are in style and cleavage is moving out of style. It is just in time for me. At forty six, soft and blowsy is a style saviour. And then there’s your neck…well let me tell you, your neck is lovely. My neck is lovely. Stop worrying about your neck.

Here's Fred, by his turkey pen

But really. I do not take any of this too seriously because Saturday morning I stopped into Fred Porter’s at the top of the hill, and that visit made me happy about my neck. No more looking at my neck and thinking, “I’m a lot like Nora Ephron” cause it is just too foolish to spend too much time thinking about your neck, or your hips, the lines around your eyes. Just put on something’ pretty, soft and blowsy, maybe, instead of tight and low, and enjoy your life. Just forget about your neck and be glad you are not Fred Porter’s turkey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the lines in your face

Dear Diary, Maybe it’s because I am getting older but it comes to be that I find the lines on people’s faces real interesting. I don’t really even mind the lines on my own.

Today, I took a long drive in the country through a bumpy dirt road to visit a friend. We had a long walk, and an easy talk. I just like her, her values, and the way she believes that simple is good. Then I took a drive around the county and stopped into see Tim, who delivers our wood. I call him Timmy actually because I knew him when he was Timmy. That is a long time. I ordered a couple of cord. He has brought me wood here for eighteen years or there abouts.

He talked about his new truck some, and his old truck. He loves his trucks. He decorates them , the way I would a little room. I asked him if he was gonna move the adornments from the old truck to the new one. The plans are in the works.

He told me there was a storm coming in, cause the Island was looking big. He quoted his uncle who always said, “When you can see the island clear, we are gonna have rain.” We took a look across the straight and the island was clear.

Then as I got in my car, He came around, making sure my legs were tucked in and shut the door for me, and leaned in the window to finish the conversation.

As we were wrapping up our visit, I pulled out my camera and said, “You got great lines in your face.” Not everyone would think that is a compliment. He did. He just let me take his picture as easy as anything, no problem. Just himself, all the time, easy as anything to be yourself, when you know what that is.

I laughed, said, I might put you on the blog. He said, “Get one looking into the sunset, ha ha”.

There is nothing any better than just being yourself. Nothing to prove, no one to impress. Just yourself.