Saturday, September 29, 2012

Coffee, Crepes and Conversation!

Since I've been working at the local Saturday morning  Farmer's Market, at least half of my hard-earned cash is spent purchasing from the vendors.  But you really can't help yourself when you're surrounded by such wonderful produce and baked goods.  

I work for a few hours a week on promotional stuff.  Saturdays start at 7:30 AM with set-up of the umbrella tables and canopies for the musician & community table, greeting and trouble-shooting.  By 8:30 when the Market opens, I'm ready for my weekly cup of coffee.  Yes, I said my weekly cup of coffee:  I have a high sensitivity to caffeine so the coffee has GOT to be worth my drinking it!  And this cup is so worth it!  I'm partial to a dark French roast with half milk and half cream.

Other than an apple or yogurt out the door, my Saturday breakfast comes from "The Airstream Cafe"  which also sells breads and pastries from "La Boulangerie Vendeene".   I've been trying to eat my way through the Market (as any good Ambassador would do!).  This morning, I had their crepes: it's made from spelt but is very light in texture and this one was filled with this season's strawberries (and a few  rogue peach slices) and was topped with real whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.  Delicious!

After that, I get to sit or just wander and schmooze -- something I'm particularly fold of.  I see lots of my own friends come through the Market.  But I've met so many other people:  people I'd been seeing around town for years but didn't really know as well as all these brand new never-seen-before people.  It's wonderful!  We chat about the weather, those lovely, plump tomatoes, how nice the sweet potato fries are and so on and so on.  By 10:30 AM once I've collected the weekly dues, I'm off duty and can fill my own basket with good stuff before I head home.  

Saturday afternoons, I usually begin to cook.  

Fun, fun, fun!  

Besides what I've purchased myself, some of the vendors like to tuck in a little something extra for the "Market Wrangler & Schmoozer" -- one of the perks of the job!  A head of garlic, a few tomatoes, a bunch of herbs ..... often I come home with something I've never eaten before.  Each week, my taste buds are heightened in some way; my new foods list is lengthened and my menu grows.  

Thank goodness for Asian daughters who are adventurous eaters and for new friends who till the soil and harvest the produce so that I can enjoy such wonderful, organic food.  

Only one more Market  Saturday left and then we pack up here in rural Nova Scotia until late next spring.  The harvest is almost at an end here; rainy weather and cool nights and mornings are the norm.  So, I've got a lot of cooking and eating to get done!

Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of my new food adventures:  things like Delicata squash, tomatillos, Jerusalem artichokes and more.

  • Are you an adventurous eater?
  • Have you eaten anything new lately?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Written Word

It's Autumn and that means many wonderful things, one of which is the start of our Book Club.  Last night was our "first-meet-of-the-year pot luck dinner": tuna double-stuffed potatoes, bok choy salad, shrimp pizza, broccoli/cheese salad, tasty dips and cheesecake bars for dessert.  It's difficult to ease our way from eating to discussing books (as we're all awfully fond of eating!).  But we manage to do it because we are also awfully fond of reading.

We're not a large group:  10 of us in total with an average of 7-8 of us at most bookclub meetings.  We take turns hosting which is a lovely opportunity to use your bookclub friends as willing guinea pigs and prepare some new sweet or savory.  At the first meeting, we discuss members latest favorite books; then everyone gets at least one of their books on the "to read" list for the year.  Very democratic!

Our list so far this year includes the following:

  1. "Balzac & the Little Chinese Seamstress" by Dai Sijie (the read for the next month)
  2. Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern
  3. "Late for Tea at the Deer Palace" by Tamara Chalabi
  4. "Lord God Bird" by Tom Gallant
  5. "The Hatbox Letters" by Beth Powning
  6. "Truth & Beauty" by Ann Patchett

  • What would you recommend?  
  • Are you a member of a bookclub?
  • What's on your night table?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Canadian Dance Moves

I live in such a wonderful country ... 

so I know that you wanna be Canadian!

(Or perhaps you just need some new, inventive, unique dance moves.)  

We Canadians --- we got it all!

(And being such kind people, I'd like to confirm with the rest of my country that you guys to the south can keep Celine and Justin.  We don't wanna be pigs after all!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tanjyoubi Omedeto


How many female international students does it take to make a happy birthday?

4 Japanese, 4 Korean, 1 Scott, 1 Colombian and 1 Mexican.

It also takes some good food (made by their own hands) and...
a chocolate sheet cake (with happy face candles).

And apparently, it also takes a lot of noise, music, dancing, laughter and a little friend squishing!

The beautiful Japanese Birthday Princess had a wonderful Saturday.  

Today is her official 17th birthday.

And that just means more good food, friends, laughter and fun.

Tanjyoubi Omedeto Natsumi!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Music hath charms......

 "Music hath charms to soothe 

a savage breast, to soften 

rocks or bend a knotted oak."

William Congreve  

There's some music ..........................

I can be trying to recover from a nasty headcold (as I am now); worried about leaky pipes and no $$; worried about kids or bills (or kids with bills!).  I can be in traffic, in pain, in limbo.   It doesn't matter where I am or how I'm feeling, there's some music that makes it all disappear.  It's like an answered prayer.  It's like floating.

Canada's classical station CBC Radio Two is "Rocking Your Bach" this morning.  I like classical music, and I really like Bach.  But I just heard JS Bach's Cello Suite #1, and it was more than just music.    

Here I was -- alone in my (this morning) dreary, damp office, rain falling outside, head cloudy, nose stuffed, shoulder aching.  But when I heard that music, I had to stop typing, sit back, close my eyes and drink -- long and deep.  Soooo, beautiful!  It transports me:
--- to a sun dappled meadow of flowers or a quiet beach or the loving arms of my Father; warmth and peace fill me; the presence of God is all around me and it is simply divine.

Back to reality all too soon.  But it's a little piece of heaven that I can enjoy over and over again, whenever I need it.

How about you?  Does music touch your soul?  Does it stop you in your tracks?  Transport you?  Make you cry? 

  • What music?
  • And where do you go?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My First Autumn Apple

On my drive to work, I pass Mainline Market.  Some of you more "mature" readers may know the kind of local shop I mean:  the kind that smells like a food market -- a mixture of whatever produce is in season at the moment and whatever meat or poultry is being cut and packaged in the back room.  It takes me back to the early 60's when I'd run to the shop for my mum after she'd phoned in an order, $5 clutched in my hand and the promise of a nickel to spend.  

Although Mainline rebuilt a couple of years ago from the original smaller building, it still smells like their old-fashioned shop, a homey type of smell, not like the sterile, perfect supermarkets that we usually shop at.  They have great weekly bargains and a few little oddities like peewee eggs.  (They're so cute; ya hardly want to eat them.)

Today I went in for the local newspaper and milk for my tea.  As I walked through the door, my olfactory senses were hit by the scent of fresh apples.  It's a little early in Nova Scotia for most apples, but they had some Ida Reds and a variety I'd never heard of before called Sunshines.

"They're good" said the produce manager.  "Do you want to try one?"  whereupon he picked one up, shined it up real nice on his clean shirt and handed it to me.  Delicious!  A tiny little apple with a soft skin and a juicy 'n' delicate sweetness. (I bought half a dozen of each.)

And for the first time this year, I smiled as I thought about Autumn and what it brings:  cooler weather, longer walks, colorful leaves, jackets and sneakers; Canadian Thanksgiving, my birthday, Halloween, and crisps 'n' cobblers 'n' soups 'n' hot biscuits 'n' cocoa with marshmallows and ....... APPLES!

  • What's your favorite kind of apple?
  • And what's your favorite thing about Autumn?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bakeapples for Breakfast.

I picked up my beautiful Korean daughter Friday night; she's here for 2 more years with me.  She came back, as usual, bearing gifts from home:  lovely, expensive eye cream for me (from her mother), yummy (but stinky) kimchi & occtopus & other funny looking foods; and these...........
Chopsticks (for ages up to 3 years).  Yup!  They're "beginner" chopsticks for people like me who just can't get the knack of it.  I think it was extremely thoughtful of her seeing as she will now stand to lose one of her greatest sources of laughter.

And my Mom and Dad made it to Nova Scotia.  They came to visit on the weekend bearing gifts as well.  There were Newfoundland (NL) blueberries, partridgeberries (lingonberries) and a NL delicacy --- bakeapples.
Picking bakeapples on the marshes in Newfoundland;
the flower and the unripe berry of the  Rubus chamaemorus.

Known elsewhere as Cloudberries (the gold of the marshlands), these yellow grape-like berries grow in the bogs and wetlands of Newfoundland and are ready for picking in late July and early August. The name Bakeapple is believed to be from the French, baie qu'appelle...meaning, 'what is this berry called?' Rich in Vitamin C, they can be eaten fresh but they preserve well and have been utilized by native peoples for centuries. Suitable for Wines, Jams, and Syrups.

This is the color of a ripe bakeapple.  So brilliant and Atumnal, ain't it!  But not everyone appreciates a good bakeapple.  They're a little more work than your usual berry.

They're similar in shape to but a little smaller than a blackberry.  They have a seed inside which needs to be "shucked", and by themselves, they're a little tart.  But I think they're lovely!  Besides the usual ways to use them,  I add them to honeyed yogurt.  And they're delicious like this:  
Bakeapples on croisant sprinkled with pink rose sugar.  Yummy!

I got to gift my Mom and Dad as well.  My Dad was quite pleased with his mini bottle of malt whiskey from Glendyer Distillery in Cape Breton.  And being a dedicated royalist, my Mom loved her solar-powered, waving Queen Elizabeth II figure.  (I have one on my kitchen window sill; it's good to have Lizzy to talk to when the kids act up as she knows where I'm comin' from!)

I think they're going to start their return journey to Newfoundland tomorrow in spite of nasty weather and the probable lack of ferry service due to Hurricane Leslie.  It's just another "adventure day" in the lives of the over 75's!  

You can't tell 'em anything!
Except how much you love them and appreciate them
(and their bundles of berries).



Let's get Serious....

My daughter just turned 20 in August; and already she knows 4 people close to her who have died -- only one of whom was over the age of 40.  

It's hard to watch your Daddy die.  But even at the end, he was filled with grace and love and laughter; even at the end, he gave them everything he had with a smile on his face.  He made his death a little easier for them because of the beautiful memories he left them with.

But what about when a good, kind, but slightly messed-up friend accidentally OD's on drugs and alcohol after suffering a broken heart?  What about the sweet young boy who found out too late that his new motorcycle was a little too much for him to handle?  And what about the young mother you've worked with for 3 years who gets turned away by the local hospital (It's nothing!) and goes into fatal cardiac arrest the next morning?  Harsh lessons to be learned here. Life can be a brutal teacher!  

When I was her age, no one other than one aged grandma had died.    Death was indeed something for the elderly, something that didn't usually touch the young.  But these days, it seems all too familiar to our children.  

Life is hard for today's kids:  not the hard of having a hole in your winter boot or having to wear the same dress to the dance this month or even eating only mashed potatoes and canned peas for the third night in a row.   These kids have serious hard!  They grow up surrounded by the stressors of rising divorce rates, rising unemployment rates, Mom & Dad's finances, their body image, the need to wear the right clothes, terrorism, etc, etc.  This is tough stuff.  The stresses and pressures of their lives are HUGE compared to my generation.

There's not much I can do to make life easier for my grown children.  But perhaps I equip them with slightly better coping tools than they'd have all on their own.  As I teach them to become independent and to leave the nest, I can continually tell them I love them.  I can also  remind them of their God who loves them -- on their terms, not on mine -- and how prayer can help shift a heavy load.  

I can give them opportunities where they can breathe easier; I can bring more laughter into their lives.  I can keep on listening, speaking only when asked to speak (and trying not to judge.  And when it gets just too much for them to handle on their own, I can give them a soft place to land.

Life is tough.  But it's also a precious gift to be enjoyed for however long we have here on this mostly beautiful earth.  

Let's remember to let the people we love know that we love them.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

I want my Mamaaaaaaa!

My Mama (and Papa) should be at my house; but because of Hurricane Eric, they are here:
Passenger ferry - MV Blue Puttees

Eric was down-graded to a tropical storm but still left a mess in his path.  Mainland Nova Scotia got a day of heavy rain; but New Brunswick, PEI, Cape Breton and the Cabot Strait were directly in his path.  So although Mama and Papa got on the ferry Wed night, last night at 10 pm they were still just outside the Port aux Basques Channel (#1 in the circle) -- unable to get off but unable to move forward because of 50 m high waves and high winds.    

Poor little ole 75 yr old parents!  But at least they have a cabin, tiny as it is.  The NS/NL ferries are quite comfortable, with 2 restaurants, a snack bar & gift shop, a bar with live entertainment, games room, playroom for the children, cabins, reclining chairs and booths.  But the food is expensive and the cabins/recliners are few.  Gone are the old days when I travelled the ferry twice a year.  

Travelling on the ferries in the 70's was an experience that I've not forgotten.  The rich had their cabins .....  and the rest of us had the floor!  My brother and I would leave his car and go upstairs to find 

 a space on the floor for our sleeping bags -- next to a wall, under a table -- it didn't matter as long as there was a path left for the crew to walk.  All around us would be families having picnic lunches on blankets, little kids chasing each other & making new friends, old people playing card games, tired Moms drinking tea with other tired Moms.  There was lots of floor space to share; and there was always a good honest person willing to watch our overnight bags so that us "young fellers", as they called us, could head downstairs to the bar.  

The bar was on the lower level so the noise wouldn't disturb people trying to sleep (something us "young fellers" needed very little of).  There would be happy bartenders, and if a passenger had a guitar or 
an accordian, there'd be happy music .... accompanied by lots of bad singing, lots of good natured imbibing and perhaps even a dance or two (sometimes on a tabletop!)  Think Rose and Jack on the Titanic without the punching or the disasterous ending.  When the bar closed down, we'd wander upstairs to our corner, but some would just curl up on the benches in the bar.  

Now-a-days, there are rules to be followed!  No more of that wanton, spontaneous ferry life.  And given the changes since the 70's and the people you could possibly meet, I think it's a wise 
choice.  But my heart goes out to those people who either couldn't afford or were too late to get a cabin or a reclining chair.  Those parents of young children; anyone over 50; or those who thought they could easily withstand 6 hours of relative discomfort.  What should have been a 6 hour trip across the Gulf has turned into a 31 hour wait.

But there's good news!  The ferry left Port aux Basques at 4 am this morning:  so Mama and Papa should arrive before noon.  I was able to re-schedule her specialist appointment for Monday, and we'll be able to have a chance to spend some time together before they head back home to Newfoundland.

Hmmmmm?  What day next week will Hurricane Leslie hit us?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We danced till we were giddy!

Sunday afternoon, friends and I took in the 7th annual LaHave River Folk Festival.  Fort Point was the sight of one of the first settlements in N America -- once the French snapped it up from the Mi'kmaq, of course.  It also happens to be a favorite spot of mine as it's around the corner from where we raised our kiddies; we loved walking from our house and along the beach to Fort Point -- collecting beach glass, running with the dog, picnic lunches. The Historical Society have worked hard in restoring the site.
 And Mother Nature showed her appreciation by presenting us with a perfect day -- enough sunshine to warm your back and enough gentle breeze to keep the bugs away.

A lineup of 13 different performers, the smell of b'beque in the air and happy, toe-tapping people everywhere you looked:  some in the open, some under tent canopies and some outside the teepees.

After a while, I took a little time out to go next door and visit a wee member of the family.  As I sat there, I could hear "Cut, Split & Delivered" singing this lovely gospel song about holding the hand of the Master; it was very poignant and quite beautiful.

 The afternoon meant more music and hand clapping and hot dogs and root beer and chilli.  And then the dancing began -- a person can only sit still for so long!  There were big dancers and little dancers, old ones and young ones:  I love seeing every age group up dancing together and being totally "uncool". 

As evening began to settle on us, the temperatures cooled down; but everyone came prepared.  The music ran into darkness, and the dancers were encouraged to take the front of the stage.

We were some of the last to leave the stage at the end of the evening.

We danced until we were giddy and laughing and full of joy at being alive and having ears and eyes and feet and friendship!


  Sorry! I thought I could return to a normal schedule. But my sense of 'normal' has changed. After the past 5 years of various ailm...