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: father’s day

I always have a hard time using the word husband
as a young woman I had no intention of getting married
I loved a man, he loved me, all was well
then we had a child and that was the most beautiful thing that could happen between us
it was a bond like no others
still, I didn’t want to get married

a year later, as our little blond bundle was running around I wished to have him baptize
I wanted to have a celebration
a few close friends and family were invited
all under the premise of the baptism
I don’t remember exactly how or when it happened but eventually I agreed to tie the knot
my loved one, a patient man, kept asking
it was a surprise for the guests
at the end of that day I had a husband

I remember thinking that the man I would love, the one I would want to spend my life with, had to be one with whom I would want to have children
not that children was on top of the agenda
but, you know what I mean, I didn’t want a fling
I wanted something solid

maybe I didn’t only want a lover
I wanted the qualities of a man that cares for children

As I woke up this morning I knew this blog had to be about my companion
(I think I like that better than husband)
the man of my life, mon amour
has been a wonderful dad
present, playful, patient
loving, generous, attentive
he is and will be there for our kids no matter what, no matter when
I know it, they do to

as I look at our now three young adults
two sons and a daughter
as I see their confidence, maturity, their care for one another
I am pleased and happy
we’ve worked well together

happy father’s day Eric
xo

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Catherine Bussiere: Jenn & Cadence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice

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

Cadence

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

What is old?
“31 is old”

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

Why?
“I just like that number”

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

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

mama’s heart swells, we drink more tea

I think I will visit someone today.

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Catherine Bussiere: fiddle heads & omelets

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

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

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

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

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

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

happy Sunday
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Catherine Bussiere: Mother’s day

I woke up this morning to the smell of melting butter
it’s a warm, grey, rainy day
my lovely man brought me coffee in bed
I figure I shouldn’t move until I got an okay from the kitchen
I actually thought something buttery would materialize near that cup of coffee
sipping away I was quite content

Eventually Charlotte appeared from the stairs’ opening at the end of my room
beautiful critter peaking out of her den
“come downstairs mama, it’s ready”
I’m thinking, isn’t it coming upstairs?
“come on down, bring your coffee”

alright alright
let me nose guide me

I enter the kitchen
handmade decorations are hanging over my favorite sitting spot
it is sweet and festive and oh so lovely

On the big serving plate / round table lays a beautiful arrangement of tastiness
A plate filled with cinnamon muffins (result of the heavenly buttery smell)
two pretty little blue bowls filled with frozen berries
a tin box (yes; chocolate)
and a card

I am in awe
aaaaaw Charlotte, when did you do this?
she did that yesterday
and woke up early to bake treats
and she is walking around in a most adorable onesie pajama that makes you want to hug her
clever

I get a phone call from my son Sam
my son Isaac posts something funny and sweet of me, online
boys are thinking about me
love, love, love

my kids make me feel lucky on a daily basis
I loved them as babies
I loved them as they grew up
I love who they are becoming
becoming a mama is the best thing I have done

The sun is peaking out
it’s now warm AND sunny
time for another coffee and a call to my mama

Happy mother’s day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Surprise

a few weeks ago
I think maybe even before we got back
my son Isaac told me that there would be a surprise graduation party for his fiancé Haley
the cover was
she would be prepping a surprise birthday party for him
so just go along when she let’s you know about it

how does this work?

Haley has a cousin
who really likes Isaac
cousin will pretend he wants to host a surprise birthday party for Isaac
Haley is excited about it
she says it’s really hard to trick Isaac and she can’t keep secrets
but she’ll try her best

Most of Haley’s family lives in Cape Breton
nobody is mentioning anything about her upcoming graduation
Dad who is a musician is busy with gigs
Mom is about to start working
no time for parties it seems

Behind Haley’s back everyone has been plotting
she’s been tricked once before
for her high school graduation
she even made her own cake I was told
thinking she was going to someone else’s party
Never again she said then

yesterday was somewhat crazy
we have to make plans out loud about the day
Hey Isaac, what you want for your birthday
what should we have for supper
let’s bake a cake
the trick is not to slip
not to say too much
no whispering
make Haley think we’re going along with this secret party for Isaac
and keep a straight face

Haley has to figure out a way to get Isaac to St-Margaret’s Bay (cousin’s place)
which is 20 minutes out of town
we have a friend who is away and asked if Haley could go check on her house
then Haley will say that she needs to pick up a jacket she forgot at her cousin
You don’t have to come she says to Isaac, enjoy the day with your family
No, no, Isaac says, I’ll come with you

all of a sudden it’s time
Haley picks up Isaac and off they go
we have to hurry
of course we get stuck in traffic
but funny enough, when we get to the highway exit they are right in front of us
we slow down to let a couple cars get between us

we easily find cousin’s place
there’s lots of cars already there
we quickly unpack the car but as we are ready to head off to the house
here comes Haley and Isaac parking right in front of us
we hide as much as we can while making our way to the house
at this point Haley is breaking up and Isaac is smiling

the house is all decorated
on the table there is a big cake
two camera are set up at different angle ready to roll
we make a quick entrance
“They’re coming” we say

Isaac and Haley walk in
she has a huge smile, her face is glowing as she looks at him
I got you she thinks
then
she turns around
and as she slowly takes in all the people that are in the room
mom, dad, uncles, aunts, cousins
her ivory cheeks turn a nice shade of pink
her mouth widens
her eyes water
(as does everyone else)
We got you, we got you big time!
Oh the love, the laugh, the tears
Congratulation darling
and oh, Happy Birthday Isaac!

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Catherine Bussiere: Gail

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does one become old?

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

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

Time or age never affected you?

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

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

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

I love it

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Catherine Bussiere: homecoming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catherine Bussiere: Home

it was a long journey
we almost missed our last connection Montreal – Halifax
but all and all it went really well
several hours of transit brought us to a sunny Nova Scotia spring afternoon
where Isaac and Haley kindly picked us up at the airport and brought us home

the mud road to our house is overrun by melting snow
little rivers everywhere eating away at the mud
I’m impressed with the amount of snow left to melt

we walk in the house
it’s warm, and has the smell of a cottage that has been left alone for a season
Sam got here the day before to get things going
the fire is crackling, flies are buzzing in the windows
I will get the vacuum out later to take care of those

it’s interesting to walk around
everything looks quite good
a cd case left near a window is washed out, bleached by the sun
the trip “to do list” is still on the kitchen table
most of the items are crossed off
I guess we did what had to be done

Eric goes to the basement
he had made a batch of wine before we left
6 months later we are ready to try it
celebrate our return
the wine is tasty

our cats are back too
they look quite content
Grammy took good care of them
they each carry a few extra pounds
round purring ball of fur they are

it will take a few days to fully settle in
we’re back
it seems somewhat unreal after being on the road for months
seeing and meeting and experiencing so much
time to reflect
time to embrace a new season
time to look for work!

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Catherine Bussiere: Susan and Regina

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

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

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

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

What is old?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regina laughs and says “Naughty!”

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

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

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

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

Why do you think that is?

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

(Big laugh from both of them)

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

When was beauty not a problem anymore?

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

About youth?

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: Claudia, Julia, Ines

It’s been quiet here these past few days
been rainy and stormy and grey
our guests are gone
there’s water dripping here and there
looks like it will be quiet for a few more days

I photographed and interviewed Claudia and Julia last week
they are both 30 (it was Claudia’s birthday)
they were both on vacation with their beau

I got to know them a little, took a few pictures and asked random questions
there is a topic now that I will keep on investigating
age, aging, time

here they are

 

Claudia and Simon

Claudia is from Germany, she is a lawyer, wants to make a decent living, wants kids.
She turned thirty during her stay in Sidi Kaouki. That morning I made her fluffy pancakes with honey syrup. She liked them so much she asked for the recipe.
Simon looked chill, I forget what he does but he seemed willing to stay home and look after the kids when the time comes. Attentive, he had bought a small cake for her birthday. With candles on it.

They were both lovely.

– How does it feel to be 30?
“Three or four months ago I didn’t want to get 30 but now I feel good.
The last year is that (when) I found the more and more what I am. When I was younger it was like what the world is expecting from me.”

Now she feels like she is being herself not meeting others’ expectation.

“I want to be happy, have a family, we want to marry.”
“I don’t like this word: old. Maybe you are never old. You can not fix it with an age.”
“You don’t get that much older when you go with the times. My grandmother has a strong will. She grew with the times.”

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Julia and Aurélien

Julia is French.
She is pretty, social, happy, generous, attentive.
She likes her coffee black.
She is a waitress.
She wanted to work with kids and elders
Do social work
For some reason the french system may not let you be what you want to be
Julia loves: the sun, Morocco, but most of all she loves Aurélien

What is your dream?
“A house in the country, a big piece of land, three sheep, chickens, a goat, a garden, a baby.”

What do you like about your work?
“The contact with people. To offer (the pleasure of) food. The contact with the kitchen: foods, smells, flavors.”

She likes the fast pace. “You don’t get bored”

A good waitress is…?
“Organize, efficient, always smiling.”

Aging? What is it to be old?
“It’s in your head” “ I’m thirty now, my twenties are behind me. I’m not happy to be thirty, to have lost my youth. It’s the Peter Pan complex.”

What is youth?
“It’s to have time ahead of you, the older you get the less time you got.”

About Aurélien she says:
“I’m a fan of our love.”

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Inès

Ines left us too this week
She is a beautiful, spirited young lady
She has claws and she can bite
for that reason she found a new home
before she left we had time to become friends

What makes you happy?
“meow, meow, meow” (sardines, half the bed in the middle of the night, ruling the house)

What do you think about age?
“ meow?”
(what you talking about?)

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I miss them all.

Catherine Bussiere: 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: Textures

it’s been an interesting week
moving deeper into Morocco
new sights and smells
more interaction
with locals
with other travelers
with a new host

we’re by the ocean near Casablanca
Dar Bouazza it’s called
there is a little port where fishermen bring their catch
there’s a few fruit and vegetable vendors
the beach in front of us is sand with the regular pounding of waves
nothing too big
gentle and steady
further along there are very interesting rock formations
their design make me come back for a photo shoot

it is busy this week end
the weather is nice and several cars are parked in rudimentary parking lots along the ocean front
you wouldn’t think much of it
unpaved dirt lot overlooking the ocean
but in the shade with a glass of tea
an attendant keeps watch
over the nice looking cars

I was looking to buy chicken the other day
on the main drag there are several small shops where you can find all the basics
but meat
for that there are meat stalls
I see a big side of beef hanging and a nice array of cuts in one of them
I’m looking for chicken though
I ask the man if he has any
I ask in French
turns out French is the unofficial third language in this country and is definitively not spoken by all
in the north more people speak Spanish as a third language
the two first ones you ask: Arabic and Berber
in Tangier for example, the first boy we met spoke Spanish, French and English aside from Arabic and maybe Berber
I’m thinking of my kids back home
the ones I used to help with french at school
who struggle with one extra tongue
back to my chicken; I am stubborn and ask again, in french, if he has any other type of meat
maybe mentioning lamb (but not pork) will help
the man graciously points to a nice piece of beef
he obviously thinks I want a particular cut
I understand that we will not understand each other if I keep on like this
so, I resort to a universal language and mime a chicken while clucking
that works, the man has a good laugh and points up the alley to another stall

I have been using this method daily with Mina the maid who works here
she too only speaks Arabic
on the first day after many “merci” for this or that
I muster the courage to try it out in Arabic
“shukran”
I can tell she is pleased
later she uses a few words in french
here we go, between gestures, a little of this and that we may understand each other

the photos were taken yesterday
fascinated I was by the various textures on my path

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Catherine Bussiere: Chaouen blues

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

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

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

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

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

welcome to Morocco

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

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

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

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

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

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

you see where this is going

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

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

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

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

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

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

here are some Chaouen photos
enjoy

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Catherine Bussiere: Atalbeitar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

do you think I could have one in my greenhouse?

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

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Catherine Bussiere: coming to an end

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

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

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

crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: Mr. Robert

monsieur Robert
is a gentleman
of provencal decent

at 82 (almost three)
he embodies
the essence of his time

one short meeting
and we are invited to his dwelling on the hill
an offer to a typical meal follows

salade sauvage is on the menu
excited we walk alongside the wise men through the olive grove
looking for a leaf an another that really
to me
looks like dandelion

the cabanon is simple and oh so cozy
in the corner an open fire burns
I – love – the – fire – place
it looks like olden days
later he will put a grill on the coals and roast some lamb chops
cooking on an open fire in an open room
I want this

Monsieur Robert speaks provencal
he speak french with a southern accent like everyone here
but he also speaks provencal
which has it’s own twist and flavor and sounds a little spanish to me
way cool

the meal starts with “l’apéro”
today an anise liqueur diluted in water
one may add currant syrup and call it “une tomate”
one could add mint syrup instead and call it “un perroquet”
fruit or bird it’s a good way to start off

we try anchoïade on croutons
anchoïade is an anchovy paste mixed with garlic and olive oil
yes, it is salty
and what is salty is also tasty
and addictive
add needs to be washed down with “l’apéro”
one must know how to dose
it’s all good

Monsieur Robert made us a “gratin dauphinois”
the french are very clever in naming dish
all sounds terribly fancy
when in fact all is mostly terribly rich
a gratin dauphinois is a potato casserole with lots of cream, some garlic
it is topped with cheese and if that was not enough Monsieur Robert likes to finish off with a yolk glaze
now we all have to agree that gratin dauphinois does sound regal
and it is
hence the spelling

Monsieur Robert treats us well
the chops are cooked to perfection
wine is served
conversation flows
all are content

then
after a little while
when we think we are done
one realize we forgot the salad
“Oh mon Dieu!” we can’t skip the wild one
and so it is washed and dressed and we all get a good portion

at the table I am facing: my daughter Charlotte, my son Isaac and his beautiful fiancée Haley
as we are all eating the most bitter salad we ever got to taste
(imagine a full bowl of dandelion leaves)
I refrain a growing amount of laughter from cascading out
everyone’s face is slightly distorted as we chew
it simply tastes awful
to our palate lets be clear
we’re just not use to this
we all do our best and mostly finish it all
Monsieur Robert, innocently asks us how we like it
he knows
secretly he is having fun with us Canadian

hours later after coffee, a shot of Chartreuse, some ice cream
after the game of Rugby
on tv
Toulon won
that was a good thing
hours later we leave
cheek, cheek, kiss, kiss
with this provencal saying:
“À l’an que vèn ! Se sian pas mai, que siguen pas mens”
which means:
“Until next year! If we are not more, let’s not be less”

Thank you monsieur Robert

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new this week: a french post on my website

 

Catherine Bussiere: 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: Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: 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: Graduation

it’s busy time at the moment
my mom is over for a month visit
yesterday we all went to Halifax for my son’s graduation
he now holds a degree in fine arts
he’s my first to graduate from university
in a card that I gave him I was saying how proud I was
not so much (of course so much, but also) of his talent and achievements
but so happy of the man he has become
caring, attentive, responsible

It’s interesting to see kids grow
their impetuous nature
the challenges we must deal with along the way

It is spring and in this time where all is blossom and growth and promises
I feel so content to see my young man
like these blossoms
fresh, filled with potential
ready to embrace the world

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Catherine Bussiere: rhubarb and fiddle heads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Catherine Bussiere: Pomquet

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: school

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Catherine Bussiere: Easter pancakes

Beautiful sunny day here in northern Nova Scotia

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

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

Oh, I love this time of year.

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

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

Happy Easter!

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Catherine Bussiere: recipe for a great day

You will need:

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

bannock
sausages
homemade cookies

spirit(s)

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

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

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

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

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

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Catherine Bussiere: February 9

I like how winter is going by
days getting longer
How many minutes a day again?
only a bit (about three)
and so in a sneaky way
day by day
we get more light

I like this time of year because I can look up to things
Spring, summer, garden, heat
All things that I love are in the horizon

There is a lot penned down in my calendar for February
It’s almost surprising
Wasn’t I hibernating
wishful thinking

This week will be my daughters birthday
17
how come it sounds so much more then 16
funny how numbers are
she asked me to make her a tiramisu
that in itself is rather exciting
Tiramisu is an italian dessert that involves ladies finger (the cookies), fine chocolate, mascarpone cheese (like a rich and creamy italian cream cheese), whipped cream and whipped eggs
it may involve brandy
it’s light, it’s rich, it’s scrumptious

This past Monday my son had an opening
he will be graduating from art school this year
he is a creator, a sculptor, a designer
he is a fine artist

my photos this week are from his show
it was called In(ter)action
the premise: you may touch the art
in fact it demands to be touched

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Catherine Bussiere: Serendipity

I like embracing new words
think about them, get a feel of what they mean
english being a second language, every so often I come across a new one that I have to tame
serendipity is one of them
I had, last Monday, the perfect embodiment of the word

About a year ago, my daughter, then in grade 10, announced that she was going to finish high school the following year. She had talked to the school councillor, she had done her research and it was figured out that if she took two classes on her own through distant education and took such and such classes at school she would have all the required credits to graduate. No need to go through another year of high school, she could skip grade 12 all together. Nice. The question was, what will you do the following year. I want to go to Europe, she said, I want you guys to come with me. You guys being my husband and I. In this particular instance I love being you guys.

Clearly, neither my husband nor I questioned that offer. It was the kind of offer we wouldn’t consider saying no to. Our teen daughter wants to spend some extra special time with us before she leaves the nest. Hummmmm, ok.

Now the plan for this coming fall is to travel through Europe or rather visit a few areas and stay, if possible, for up to 6 months. We are not the go on a cruise type or the whirlwind see 12 countries in 12 days type. We are looking at finding a few places where we can spend chunks of time. We found this website called Helpx which connects people from various countries with travelers. In exchange of help around house, garden, business, the host provides shelter and food. Some host have vineyards, bakeries, businesses, small farm they need help with. My personal goal is to learn some new skills, a new language and share my skills. For my husband and daughter it will be, amongst other things, to share their music.

A week ago Sunday we had our first official family meeting. There is plenty to figure out about this trip, just the visa issue was starting to give me a headache. The three of us brought to the table our findings and came to some agreements. It’s a work in progress, getting together made us all that more excited about the infinite possibilities.

Sounds a little gypsy to you, just you wait…

When I came back from work the following day, Monday, I saw a full size winnebago parked in my parking spot. An older one, maybe from the seventies. Now we have musician friends that could potentially own one of those and be touring and be parked in our driveway, but mid January?
I got out of the car, looked around to see the plate and read Tennessee. Louisiana, North Carolina, yes, maybe, but Tennessee… ?
So I get in the house, hear voices in the living room and find my husband in a cheerful conversation with a couple and a teen. We are introduced; Joe, Donna, their son, there is a daughter upstairs with my daughter. They are from Australia. (Oh, ok, now that makes sense!) They have been on the road for years. He is a horse man, a cowboy, a musician, a long rider. He did a lot of his trip solo but is now traveling with his family. He wrote a book that is self published and has cds for sale. They go from town to town telling their story to the newspaper, find a venue, do a show and move on. Like troubadours of another era. Last year they were in Europe for several months. They fill us in with all those details we are wondering about. We talk for hours. My husband plays a few songs, Joe plays a few song. I move to the kitchen and start supper. Little Maddie, the 10 year old daughter, joins me ready to help.

What are you making she says.
Soup, biscuits and brownies.
Can I help?
Sure, let me start the soup, you can help me with the baking.

We shared a meal, stories, they spent the night, we exchanged emails.

Last night they did a show in Tatamagouche, a nearby village. I heard it was well attended.

Oh, you wonder how they got to our place. Serendipity I guess. They stopped at the Chatterbox cafe in Pugwash looking for a venue. That venue being closed the owner who knows us said “you should check out these folks” and instead of driving straight to Tatamagouche like they first intended they backtracked a little and found us. They will be in the maritimes for a few months. If you are curious here is their website: www.joeguylongrider.com

Now, I must go. We are having a meeting!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: Grammy’s Birthday

This week end was Grammy’s birthday party
Grammy is 75 tomorrow so she organized herself a lovely family reunion just the way she likes it

Grammy is someone rather special
at 75 she lives like the grammy in Little Red Riding Hood
She’s off the grid, in the woods, pumps her water and lights her lovely cottage with beeswax candle that she makes
at 75 she sells those candles at local farmers market
She has taken several arts and crafts over the past 20 years
paper maché, tile work, photography, weaving, beeswax candle, to name a few
Before that she did a million things
amongst which having a restaurant in the Costa Rican jungle
and getting a university degree at age 60
She’s been what most of us would consider poor all her life
yet she is one of the richest women I know

Last night she got exactly what she wanted
in her little red cottage she hosted 22 of her closest ones
it was so tight in there it felt like one of those games where you have the one empty space and movement is directed by whichever element gets moved
all of us being those elements we eventually all had a place to sit, and a full plate of food in front of us
Grammy was beaming

Last night she told me she had a secret
she wouldn’t tell me right away
This morning she came by
sat in the living room amongst all off us
I made her coffee
her eyes were shining
out came the secret
“I have to tell you something she said: I’m getting myself a Kiln!”

Excitement, constant interest, curiosity
thirst for life and what it has to offer
animates this beautiful grammy

Dear GG (for Grammy Gail)
you are a remarkable women

 

the following images are for her

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine Bussiere: November 3rd

I cleaned up the green house yesterday
got half of it done
the frost this week crept in
gone are the nasturtiums, ground cherries, peppers and eggplants

on my walk this morning I saw a beautiful dandelion blossom
the white one, the one that spreads its seeds
the one most of the year you want to avoid
to cut in the bud
today I picked it up
tiny umbrellas hanging tight
still

I brought in a previously frosted ground cherry
I love those
little fruit delicately wrapped in paper thin Chinese lantern
feels like opening a present every time you eat one
too late for eating now
I will take a picture

I have been thinking about art this week
how I don’t take time to make it
practical mind of mine
I create on purpose
or for a purpose

there is always a green house, a batch of jelly, a room to clean, a meal to make
in the way

how is it that I can’t just take time?

sometimes I feel that there is so much out there
seems like it’s been said and done so many times
is there really a need to add my voice, my eye, my frame of mind
every second thing is already so good, has a signature
do I have one?

then I think how much enjoyment I get from looking at certain work
for the sheer beauty of it
someone created that
it gives me joy
it gives me peace
it takes my mind away

thank goodness for this blog
practical me has to sit down once a week
and just do it

 

 

 

 

 

 

rug hooker’s husbands

Well the tea is being poured this week, I can tell you that. Today was the first day of the Create Beauty Everyday Workshop on Joy and Rug Hooking and it went beautifully. It was so exciting to have fifty of us gathered in one room to be inspired , to learn and to create beautiful rugs. You can just imagine.

One of the things we have been noticing lately in the studio is so many rug hookers have lovely patient husbands. Last week, a man drove his wife two hours to come visit us, then he waited two hours while she shopped. Every time he would go out, he would say to her, “Take your time.” So many of the husbands we meet at the studio are like this, just enjoying their wife enjoying themselves. We try to look after the men who come in with a comfortable seat, a cup of tea, an oatcake, or maybe a black liquorice, or a pink peppermint. Small things matter you know. Some come once a year and actually look forward to a cup of tea and a cookie with us. We have just noticed that there are a lot of lovely men waiting for rug hookers, patiently and kindly. It is so nice to see the women who come to the studio supported like this, so here’s to husbands of rug hookers, you deserve a cup of tea ad an oatcake…. Thanks for waiting.IMG_2351 IMG_2353