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.


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

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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.

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I am hooking neutrals…..

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If you think it can’t be done than you are absolutely right

If you think it can’t be done than you are absolutely right.

If you are sure it can’t be done then it will never happen.

I am always thinking about where I will take the rug studio in the next few years.

Metaphorically that is.

What direction? What is the next project?

And I need to remember that if you believe it can happen, then it will.

This sign on the highway is a great reminder of that.

Last spring, Laurie Glenn, who works with me said,”You should have one of those signs on the highway.”

I answered, “I tried to do that but I could not get it. So I am not going there.”

Then I came into my office and I thought. If you think it cannot happen, than it won’t happen.

I decided that it had been years since I tried. I called the Department of Tourism.

I learned that maybe I could have a sign.

Then I did a little dance.

I thanked Laurie for pushing me.

Then I did a little jig…just another kind of dance.

Then I waited for weeks and months until I heard that yes I could get a sign.

Then I waited for months for the sign to get put up. As soon as it did I had oatcakes delivered to the highway garage for the guys who put up my sign. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Then I danced again.

Then a few weeks later I went out and had my picture taken under it. I looked so small…like a little fairy girl standing beside it.

Then the little fairy girl did a little dance, and her little fairy friend took pictures as cars zoomed by wondering what those fairy fools were up too.

Then the fairy girl got in her truck and drove back to Amherst and on the way she turned into herself again and she realized something.

She learned that if she had to keep thinking that she could not have that sign then she would never have. She realized that if you think something won’t come true, than it won’t.

But the big thing she realized is that you have to work at it.

And that when you try, magic happens.

Sometimes that magic might not be exactly what you imagined it to be but sometimes it is just what you thought or even better.

So this little revelation is one I am carrying with me today and into the future.

Because if it can happen for me, it can happen for you.

It can happen for the people we love.

It can happen for our communities.

It can happen.

You have to believe it….but you also have to work at it.

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Catherine Bussiere: a wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

the groom saw his bride

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

for Hope it boiled down to taste

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: dining on the wild side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: nature walk

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

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

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

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

so much to know

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: week end

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

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

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

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

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

spring time
some days already feel like summer

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Catherine Bussiere: Jenn & Cadence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice

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

Cadence

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

What is old?
“31 is old”

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

Why?
“I just like that number”

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

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

mama’s heart swells, we drink more tea

I think I will visit someone today.

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Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

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

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

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

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

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

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

happy Sunday
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Deanne’s Diary: Talk

Dear Diary,

I talk to myself. I tell myself that I should take more photographs.

I tell myself I need things then I talk myself out of it. Then I talk myself back into it.

I tell myself, “it’s okay.” Then I tell myself, “It’s not okay.”

Last weekend some of the women I went to counselling school with came for supper. They probably do lots of self talk too.

I need to talk to myself. I learned how to do it well going to counselling school I think. I learned that I need encouragement and it is my job to look after myself.

It is also my job to monitor what I say to myself. For example I  am not allowed to tell myself that “I am fat.” I am only allowed to say , “You need a walk.” or “You need to eat better.”

I try to treat myself the way a good parent would.

I refuse to diminish myself. If I catch myself doing it. I reprimand myself.

Life can be difficult. Other people can be hard to get along with. Conflict is natural but we have to learn to be kind to ourselves.

Not self indulgent.

Not too permissive.

Just Kind.

Be kind to yourself.

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: Blue Kaouki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drusilla

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

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

What makes you happy?
– The lack of pain.

What bugs you?
– Rudeness

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Catherine Bussiere: Taroudant, another carpet ride

After a memorable stay in the desert (I missed last week’s blog for lack of internet but you will find a post on that experience here if you like) we are now in Taroudant, a town that the locals call “the small Marrakech”. We got off the bus two days ago after a long ride through more Atlas where stunning scenery of mountains and valleys, dry river beds, oasis, herds of sheep, dusty road stands with colorful potteries kept us entertained. The landscapes in these parts are rugged and beautiful.

As we got off the bus I started looking for a taxi when Thami, upon asking me where we were staying, offered us directions then took upon himself to lead us there and carry some of our luggage. When I offered Thami a tip for his service he promptly refused, welcoming us to his town and offering us to take a horse drawn carriage ride with him for a tour of the city the next morning at a very reasonable price. Why not. We’ve never done that.

If there is something I have to learn about morocco it’s to be open to whatever the day will give (or lead to). The ride with Thami didn’t last an hour as I had expected, it took most of the day. Not only did he show us the city rampart where here and there we hopped off to climb, get a good view and take photos (he knew of all the good spots for pictures) but he made us visit the souk and of course some shops. Now the nice thing about visiting shops with a tour guide is that you are made to feel that there is no obligation or pressure to buy anything. Have a look, ask questions, take pictures.

We visited a women cooperative where several products are made from the argan nut. I already had bought argan oil in Fes so there was no need for more. We visited a jewelry shop and there, since this region is famous for this art, and because we had not indulged yet, Charlotte and I splurged. We went into an ancient synagogue transformed into a art shop where I saw the biggest carpet show room I had seen yet on this trip along with several rooms filled with ancient and new art from Morocco and other African country.We might as well have stepped into Ali Baba’s cavern. I knew nothing there was within my budget but oh my, what a feast for the eyes.

We saw mountain of spices at the market, and several other small artisan shop. But what took the main part of our tour was yet another carpet shop owned by one of Thami’s relative. Soon after we got in and as a gentleman was about to show us some carpets (tea already on it’s way) we did let them know that we had already bought carpets and blanket earlier on the trip. In fact, that was the heavy piece of luggage that Thami helped us carry the night before. No problem my friends, just have a look, no need to buy.

Of course you know what is next. Next comes an array of beautiful thin blankets made of camel hair and cactus fiber. They are light and roll up to almost nothing. When will I ever have a chance to acquire such beauty. We ponder, we do not have enough cash, I plead that we must go back to the hostel and get a credit card if we are to make a purchase. I think that really we should finish our tour first. The gentleman doesn’t settle for that. It is Friday, couscous day, why don’t you join us for couscous. Finish the tour then come eat with us. Hum, homemade couscous is an invite no one should refuse. We agree, we finish the tour, we come back. I know already that we will get those blankets. After couscous and more tea we not only get three but four blankets.

Maybe because we are not good at bartering, maybe because we spend time, maybe because tourism is low at the moment, who knows, not only our gentleman lowers the price a little but he trows in a few cushion covers to go with the blankets and give Eric a Fatima hand for his mom. Hands are shaken, shukran (thank you) exchanged, we are all happy with our day. Moroccans depends on tourism and will do their best to give you a good time. I have seen here some of the most beautiful craft / art there is. Generation of men and women have passed down their skills from fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, and most of what you see has been made by hard working hands.

Thanks to Thami and extended family for a great day yesterday.

Here are some photos for you textile and art lover!

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ps. one more thing, we visited Amoon, a collaborative of Berber women in Taroudant today, there was one rug that was hooked!

Here is their website: anmoon.com

If you ever visit Taroudant do visit their shop.

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: 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: thanks dinner

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: excited!

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: 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: 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: 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

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: April = Easter Eggs

you’ve heard them sing

you’ve seen it thaw

it’s crazy how fast a season can change

one week we are buried under a blanket of snow

and the next the narcissus are poking their noses out

 

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

lettuce, spinach, beets

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

this morning thinking of Easter coming up

I looked for the eggs that were decorated last year

I wrote a blog then and I will share it again

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

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

happy Sunday!

oh yes: the LINK

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Catherine Bussiere: flipping the pages of the dictionary

once in a while
for fun
curiosity
for lack of inspiration
or for advice
we flip the pages of the dictionary
and get a word

it’s surprising what it tells you sometime

recently my husband did just that
the word he got was: complaining
now I kinda hope he’s not reading my blog this week but
he has been complaining lately
of course it made me smile
to be fair though, maybe he needed to complain a little

my blog this morning was already started
the tittle, monotone, was inspired by the morning scenery
the blog wasn’t really going anywhere
I was getting bored with it
even though it is so pretty outside

so I flipped the pages of the dictionary and my finger landed on…
well, it landed under “on” and more specifically under “on and on”

what does that mean?
does it relate to my husband and the complaining
that would have been too easy

I looked back at the dictionary
it said
on and on: at great length, so as to become tiresome
oh!
is it my blog
my monotone first draft I did not know what to do with
is it a response to it
monotone does have two on

I know what you’re thinking
I’m over thinking this
True, but hey, still is fun
I was stuck in monotone and now my mind is going “on and on”

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Catherine Bussiere: lightness

someone wished my mama lightness for this new year
there are a few definitions
I will share the ones I like

– lack of pressure or burdensomeness

– gaiety of manner, speech, style, … ; cheerfulness

– lack of seriousness; levity in actions, thoughts, or speech

I like it

I was at a women’s gathering earlier today
a friend organized a pot luck
we were to share food and thoughts about this coming year
where we’re at in our lives,
hopes, aspiration, resolution

she had placed pieces of paper in a jar
with questions to think of
one could pick from it as wished
no pressure
turns out that it stimulated various conversation

as there were too many of us to fit around the table
various pockets were formed
I ended up talking with an artist I had been meaning to visit
and a lady I had never met

my piece of paper had to do with new year resolution
and how it would affect me
I first thought I hadn’t taken any
just to be quickly reminded by my daughter of my year’s to do list

are those resolutions?
I guess so

I’ll tell you two things
one is that I feel really good about this year
like it’s filled with potential
there is lots to do and I’m thrilled by it

the other (thing) is that I will make changes and take chances
internal changes as in how I interact with my environment
be more attentive and receptive
it could be anything, people, nature, art, ideas

and take chances
shake things up
get out of my comfort zone
learn, travel, do

what I am not sure
but I feel lightness in the air
and I like it

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Catherine Bussiere: relativity

Christmas has just gone by and there is still New Years to come
yet this morning it feels like the holidays are coming to a close
one of my son is leaving for Cape Breton to be with his loved one
My holidays revolve pretty much around family
family home = celebration
family gone = back to routine
it’s not back to routine yet but it’s looming

Last night we had a little get together
a couple of friends were coming over for supper and last minute we decided to invite a few more
I’ve been wanting to have people over but with all these storms and holiday commitment  I was about to let it go by
last night was just perfect
We had plenty of food and on the spur of the moment my husband just made a couple calls
everyone showed up

I love to mix people up
People that may not know each other
different generation and background
all sitting around the table the conversation never stopped

After much delicious foods we kicked everyone out to go sliding
There really wasn’t any option
so these grown up friends
found themselves on crazy carpets
after what may have been 20 years or more
funny how we stop doing certain things
the sheer joy of sliding down a hill
the inevitable screams of joy
brought everyone back to their childhood

so
much
fun

it really is my favorite winter sport
if it is a sport

as the New Year is coming around
I have on my list to revisit simple pleasures
one thing has been
listening to records
thanks to my daughter who got a record player for Christmas
what a treat

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: ice storm

ice storm
three days before Christmas
a bowl of walnuts and a basket of pears
a daughter painting presents
a son helping his dad prettying the living room
an old cookbook found with time treasures
the beauty of handwriting

ice storm
more cooking to be done
maybe biscottis today
my cat sticking his tong out
he doesn’t know about biscottis
obviously

ice storm
the privilege to not go anywhere
have a wood stove
and candles
just in case

ice storm
the mix sound of the radio downstairs
the crazy french music coming out of my daughters iPad
and
the ice pellets hitting the tin roof

bundle up
add a stick in the fire
and look up some biscotti recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: misty morning

misty morning
November

before I got up this morning my intention was to go for a drive and take pictures
I would use my wide angle lens and think about horizon for subject

lately I have been off and on coffee and off and on gluten
I was diagnosed with anemia and must take iron supplement
I have also been juicing off and on
sometime first thing in the morning I make this apple, carrot, beet, ginger concoction
talk about healthy
it is actually very tasty

this morning I got up and made myself a coffee and since there was no milk
(milk is off my list too, no reason) I added some spicy Mexican hot chocolate mix to my coffee
hey, hey, hey
then I had two pieces of toast (wheat that is) with peanut butter
not a trace of fruit
loads of caffeine

I also took a paper from who knows when that was in the start the fire box
my husband said “reading old news”
I forget if I responded
I never read the paper and really didn’t care if it was yesterdays news
by the time the paper is in your hand it’s already yesterdays news anyway
point was I am having coffee (Mexican mocha to be precise), and peanut butter toast, and I’m reading the paper
Can it be more Sunday or what

I just finished an inspiring article about the first women to cross the Atlantic in some fancy rowboat when I noticed how beautiful it was outside
a sense of emergency got me up and out the door with the last bit of that delicious coffee
out I go with my wide angle
there might be enough horizon at my doorstep

I spent the following hour and a half wandering around the property in a mist filled atmosphere
in this still morning every breath I took seemed extra oxygenated
a rare bird or squirrel would once in a while break the silence
I felt as if I was in a fairy tale
I loved the mystery filled ambiance
how only some things were visible while at a distance the outlines became vague

it’s funny how much is right at our doorstep

I’ve been slightly depressed recently
it’s a seasonal thing
it’s part of my nature
maybe it’s the lack of iron
who knows
the thing is, I’ve always lived with it and I’m kinda fine with it

it’s like this misty morning
it’s a grayness that can take over your senses
that blurs your vision and can weight you down
Instead of driving away from it looking for better horizon
I soaked it in, filled my lungs, filled my eyes, treated my senses
I embraced it and found myself quite content

nature is a remedy, a sanctuary

unless it was that coffee

 

 

 

 

 

 

everyday miracles

“When all the love of the I and the Mine is dead then the work of the Lord is done.” Kabir

Last night I went out for a nice dinner with Jennifer Manuel. She is here teaching  a workshop and we had a great conversation. When I came in this morning I read one of my little meditations from Sister Stan and it reminded me of some of the conversation we had over dinner last night. So often that happens now, one thing connects with another and together they make both more meaningful. My friend Harry Thurston said human beings are in “denial of the marvellous”. Those words he said years ago keep coming back to me. There are so many tiny miracles in the run of a day.

I like the Kabir quote because I believe it to be true. The older I get, the less concerned I want to be with “self”, the me, the teacher, the artist, the rug hooker. Surely there are more interesting things to focus on, yet we remain quite self centred. Yet the struggle does not go away. We joke here in the studio, “It’s all about Deanne.” I run the website and the studio, do the designs and sort of drive the creativity. For over twenty years I have done this and nearly everyday someone thanks me for my work. My husband  says he has never heard seen anybody get so much praise. I smile at him. I can’t say I do not enjoy it. I do. It would be easy to believe it all if it wasn’t for the fact that more importantly I am a wife, mother, friend, mentor,coworker, sister daughter. It is in these roles that what I do matters most. As much as I love being any artists, the idea of being a good artist does not even compare to being a good wife or a good mother, or a good daughter. It is in being these other things where we are humbled, for these roles require so much more of us. It is in these roles where we are required to give deeply of ourselves on a consistent and demanding basis. It is in these roles where we are asked to put the self aside. I have not always met those demands, regrets there are, but I forgive myself. Forgiveness on a daily basis, is part of being human. It is so often more necessary for me to forgive myself than it ever it is for me to forgive others. Age humbles us. We learn our limitations. At twenty one I felt like a force to be reckoned with. At forty eight I feel a lot more like the thing that is being reckoned with, and you know what, I am glad I feel that way.

So when someone calls and I answer the phone and they say, “I can’t believe you answer your own phone.” I can’t help but reply, “Why wouldn’t I?” For who am I not too? How can it be believed that any one of us is more important than any other. We are all small under the great big sky. As Jennifer said over dinner, “If you are really good at one thing, that probably means you have a serious deficiency somewhere else.” We are all important, each and everyone of us, and our real work is to believe to that we are no more important than the person beside us. This takes work, but I think it is worth it, if you can get the job done well.

So that was the essence of our do inner conversation last night. Then this morning I sit down first thing and read that quote. Everyday Miracles. Simple.

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www.singilyskipping.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of my Aunt Kathleen, my mother’s youngest sister,

Because my mother in law always said “We are here to be good to each other”

Because I was blessed with the chance to illustrate this beautiful book for Shereee Fitch

Because I want the rugs to have some meaning

I have decided to have them auctioned off and all the proceeds will go to L’arche Atlantic

L’Arche is an international federation of communities where men and women with intellectual disabilities, and those who choose to share life with them, live and work together.

Founded by Canadian Jean Vanier in 1964, L’Arche now has more than 125 communities in 40 countries. In Atlantic Canada there are currently five established L’Arche communities: L’Arche AntigonishL’Arche Cape BretonL’Arche HalifaxL’Arche Homefires and L’Arche Saint John.

There are two groups currently working to build new L’Arche communities in Atlantic Canada: Willow Tree Community, Fredericton, NB and Cornerstone Housing Society, St. John’s, NL.

Bid on the rugs here!

and support L’Arche Atlantic

http://singilyskipping.caL'arche

Here are Sheree and I and Andrea at The Halifax book Launch!

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Catherine Bussiere: Still

the sun is rising later and later
this morning as I walk outside in the mist of dawn
I let the stillness fill my soul
fall

feeling the promise of the day
I look at my garden
the trees
the grass
the empty swing
I look at the light reaching the heights
slowly coming down on me
warmth

my sister came with her three kids for ten days
they just left at 5:30
it’s a long trek to Quebec
I will miss the busyness of the little ones
the companionship of my sister

the house is quiet
my teens
– my young adults
are slowly rising
eating yesterday’s leftovers
pumpkin, apple and cherry pie
breakfast

thanksgiving has to be my favorite holiday
I like the feast
the gathering of family
the celebration of harvest
earth goodness

happy thanksgiving
may you be surrounded by the ones you love