Thursday, February 22, 2018

Arthur Black - Basic Black

In 1990 I wrote one of my favourite, and irreplaceable CBC Radio hosts, Arthur Black, a letter. All I can remember is that Arthur had done this really funny imaginary commentary about P.M. Brian Mulroney running around the Parliament building Ottawa in the buff. It was so funny, I  had to take the time to write Arthur a letter, and share my thoughts about his commentary on Brian Mulroney. I hope my letter gave him a good laugh like his commentary certainly gave me. He sent me this postcard that I treasure. I'm not sure what info Arthur sent me in the mail, but I'm sure it made me smile.

I seldom would ever miss a Basic Black episode. His show made my Saturday mornings.

I don't want to go on about how CBC Radio has changed, but it has and I'll say this. Perhaps it's due to budget cuts,(can you say re-runs ) or the change in demographics, pandering to a younger audience, but those of us who are a certain age, mainly Baby Boomers remember just how good CBC Radio programming was, and how colourful, intelligent, and humourous many of the hosts were who are sadly now gone. Oh their still are a few left, but their few and far between now. In spite of my criticism I'm still a CBC Radio head and don't have a TV. I was weaned on CBC Radio and I think it's part of my DNA and I like it that way.

And so I'm sad to here of another consummate CBC Radio host, Arthur Black has left this mortal coil for that big broadcast beyond, but I have no doubt it will be a great great show, and Arthur will keep rockin' in the free world.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Colum McCann - The Butt in the Chair

It's often been said by those who write that we all have a story to tell. I believe this to be very true. Okay  not all of us have a first book waiting to be written, but story telling is like breathing for human beings. It's the natural order of things, until for whatever reason in whatever way, we've become disconnected from story telling, and that's in itself is a story, perhaps sad one I think.

As a young person I always felt the need and desire to tell stories and write but not understanding why, and I certainly knew nothing about writing well. It was intuitive I think, and gradually morphed into a way to express my feelings, enabling me to comfort myself or work through whatever I was experiencing in my life. Fortunately I improved  with work, time and reading. I don't aspire to be a commercially published writer, I simply want to write and continue to improve. If the day comes to compile a bunch of pages I can call a book, great!

My words written on the page became the tools for me to use for personal growth and gain insight into who I am, who I've been and who I'm becoming. I've continued on with writing, more seriously so over the past twenty years, dedicating myself to the daily discipline of getting my butt in the chair to write.
This might sound odd to some but writing makes me feel more normal, completes me as a person and nurtures my creativity. It's what I feel compelled to do.

I read a number of books about learning how to write. Some of the best have been Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Becoming a Writer by Dorthea Brande, Julia Cameron's The Artist Way and Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, to name a few. I know there are numerous others to read. For instance Colum McCann's book about writing I've yet to read.

Listening this morning to an interview he gave about his book Letter to a Young Writer really resonated with me, and much of what he says I think can be related to art and life generally. There's no magic formula here, other than making sure you park your butt into a chair and write, that's where the magic lies. Whether it be in the form of a book, a blog, a memoir etc., Colum McCann states, when we have the desire to write and we write, we become a writer.

"It's really a way to say to the young writer that it's about desire, it's about stamina, and it's about perseverance. It's about putting your rear end in the chair and fighting the terror of the blank page." - Colum McCann

Letter to a Young Writer

Do the things that do not compute. Be earnest. Be devoted. Be subversive of ease. Read aloud. Risk yourself. Do not be afraid of sentiment even when others call it sentimentality. Be ready to get ripped to pieces: it happens. Permit yourself anger. Fail. Take pause. Accept the rejections. Be vivified by collapse. Practice resuscitation. Have wonder. Bear your portion of the world. Find a reader you trust. They must trust you back. Be a student, not a teacher, even when you teach. Don’t bullshit yourself. If you believe the good reviews, you must believe the bad. Still, don’t hammer yourself down. Do not allow your heart to harden. Face it, the cynics have better one-liners than we do. Take heart: they can never finish their stories. Enjoy difficulty. Embrace mystery. Find the univer­sal in the local. Put your faith in language—character will follow and plot, too, will eventually emerge. Push yourself further. Do not tread water. It is possible to survive that way, but impossible to write. Never be satisfied. Transcend the personal. Have trust in the staying power of what is good. We get our voice from the voices of others. Read promiscuously. Imitate, copy, become your own voice. Write about that which you want to know. Better still, write toward that which you don’t know. The best work comes from outside yourself. Only then will it reach within. Be bold in the face of the blank sheet. Restore what has been ridiculed by others. Write beyond despair. Make justice from reality. Sing. Make vision from the dark. The con­sidered grief is so much better than the unconsid­ered. Be suspicious of that which gives you too much consolation. Hope and belief and faith will fail you often, but so what? Share your rage. Resist. Denounce. Have stamina. Have courage. Have per­severance. The quiet lines matter as much as those that make noise. Trust your blue pencil, but don’t forget the red one. Make the essential count. Allow your fear. Give yourself permission. You have some­thing to write about. Just because it’s narrow doesn’t mean it’s not universal. Don’t be didactic—nothing kills life quite so much as explanation. Make an argument for the imagined. Begin with doubt. Be an explorer, not a tourist. Go somewhere nobody else has gone. Fight for repair. Believe in detail. Unique your language. A story begins long before its first word. It ends long after its last. Make the ordinary sublime. Don’t panic. Reveal a truth that isn’t yet there. At the same time, enter­tain. Satisfy the appetite for seriousness and joy. Dilate your nostrils. Fill your lungs with language. A lot can be taken from you—even your life—but not your stories about that life. So this, then, is a word, not without love and respect, to a young writer: write.
Dear Readers, The full Letters to A Young Writer by Colum McCann will be published by Random House on April 4, 2017. Keep a lookout for it in your local bookstore!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Smallest Birds Sing the Sweetest Songs

I had visitors today perched on my Lilac tree outside my studio window, Black Capped Chickadees.
To me they are the sweetest birds and the songs they sing are innovative and varied.  Chickadees start to sing in earnest in January. In February they sing more and in March and April the number of songs increase even more. They have at least 15 vocalizations that mean different things.

Each male and female Chickadee recognizes and can differentiate between male and females by the first and second note of their song.

Scientists have found that we have much to learn about creativity from birds and other animals. The bigger the brain the more innovative the bird. If species like Crows and Ravens live longer it results in them being more innovative because they survive a long time and this can increase their creative abilities. Like human beings, the longer we live the more we learn.

When I lived in the North West Territories, where the Ravens are numerous. I saw first hand how smart they are, taunting and tormenting tied dogs at the end of their tether, the Ravens would get as close as they could , but not enough for the dogs to catch them. It was told to me a Raven was seen  flying overhead with a KFC box in it's beak, and even flying upside down (I'm not too sure about that story).

Raven's recognize faces, tell one another where the food is, grieve for one another when one of their own dies, and can even use tools of their own making and it's not much wonder they are commonly known as the Trickster in Indigenous culture.

When I was about 12 years old, I had my first little bird, an Albino Budgie bird named Billy. It was then I got to understand just how humans and birds can bond with one another, andthey are so emotionally, if not intellectually intelligent.

My Budgie Billy was so smart and very loving. He would rub his little head against my nose, and that was our cuddle time. He loved to listen to music, especially when my mother would play the piano.

Every single day, and we never missed, when I came home from school, I'd immediately go to open his cage  and out he'd come standing on the door bobbing up and down in excitement. Then he'd hop onto my extended finger and we'd spend the next few hours enjoying each others company, until supper time, while he was on my shoulder. Then one very sad day came, when I buried Billy in the backyard after he'd died, gently placing him in a shoe box, and I had a little service for him and marked his grave with a little cross made from Popsicle sticks. I was very sad to loose my sweet friend, who'd helped me to keep from sadness and loneliness.

I live in a beautiful spot on a tidal river where there's a plethora of birds. like Canada Geese, Great White Egrets, Blue Herons, Bitterns, Humming Birds, Eagles, Buttings, Snow Birds and so many more.
So I keep my eyes and ears open especially for signs of Spring after a long Winter, by watching and listening to the bird songs. And so today after seeing a group of Chickadees in my lilac tree, it certainly lifted my heart knowing that Spring isn't so far off!

Here's a photo I took of a Great White Egret when I looked out of my studio window. I snapped this a few years back during the early Winter and it was sitting on the hood of my car.

The Canada Geese below are frequent in tidal river and numerous. I love to hear them every year, as they are the first confirmation Spring has arrived..

Great White Egret Hood Ornament

Canada Geese on Apple River Sea Marsh in the Fall

"Littlest Birds" Lyrics: Well I feel like an old hobo, I'm sad lonesome and blue I was fair as a summers day Now the summer days are through You pass through places And places pass through you But you carry 'em with you On the souls of your travellin' shoes Well I love you so dearly I love you so clearly Wake you up in the mornin' so early Just to tell you I got the wanderin' blues I got the wanderin' blues And i'm gonna quit these ramblin' ways one of these days soon And I'll sing The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs... Well it's times like these I feel so small and wild Like the ramblin' footsteps of a wanderin' child And I'm lonesome as a lonesome whippoorwill Singin these blues with a warble and a trill But I'm not too blue to fly No I'm not too blue to fly cause The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs... Well I love you so dearly I love you so fearlessly Wake you up in the mornin' so early Just to tell you I got the wanderin' blues I got the wanderin' blues And I don't wanna leave you I love you through and through Oh I left my baby on a pretty blue train And I sang my songs to the cold and the rain I had the wanderin' blues And I sang those wanderin' blues And I'm gonna quit these ramblin' ways One of these days soon And I'll sing... The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.... I don't care if the sun don't shine I don't care if nothin' is mine I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my lovin' in the wintertime

Monday, February 5, 2018

Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequecy and Reform

I saw a post today about the Community Agenda for Social Adequacy and Reform on the Nova Scotia Advocate that I wanted to respond to and so I took it upon myself to write Premier Stephen MacNeil.

Poverty is a life altering issue throughout the world and it's one I feel strongly about. It's not the first time I've posted about the issue on this blog and I'm certain it won't be the last.

Honourable Premier Stephen McNeil:
February 5th 2018

My name is Catherine Meyers. I live in a very small community of Apple River near Advocate Harbour. I'm a single woman and have been on my own most of my life.

I'm writing to let you know that I'm currently a recipient of Social Assistance which in the monthly amount of $267.00. I'm also receive CPP in the amount of $252.00 a month for a total of $520.00. I have a yearly income of $5,000. Could you live off of this income? People say to me I don't know how you do it. Sometimes I don't know either. This is not enough to cover my bills and living expenses and I have to rely on the kindness of others in my rural community turning to the Food Bank and find whatever other resources I can. If you can imagine, it is particularly difficult in the Winter months due to the costs of heat.  I have no vehicle as I can't afford that luxury and doesn't enable me to find employment.

After years of work as a Youth Care Worker I managed to pay off my 20 year mortgage in 2012. I thank God everyday I am not house insecure and that I live in the country, where people help one another. I honestly can't imagine how those on Social Assistance and other fixed incomes manage in the city let alone in rural communities. Sadly the reality is many are not.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mount Allison University and graduated as a mature student at the age of 59. I have a student loan payment to pay back in the future but I'm a fortunate one because I have no mortgage over my head. I'm also fortunate to be turning 65 in June and will be in receipt of OAS and GIS which will finally get me out of this hole and burden of poverty.
I wanted to let you know a bit about my own situation, but more importantly I am writing because of those who are in much worse situations then myself.

I have copied and pasted this open letter to you, that I know you've received. I'm in solidarity with this unified group who are also requesting increased Social Assistance payments and reform. I strongly suggest to you that you meet with this caring, socially conscious and cohesive group of individuals and seriously consider your decision especially in light of the next election.
Catherine Meyers

P.S. I worked for Moncton Youth Residences for several years, when Claudette Bradshaw back in the day, was the Director of HeadStart in Moncton, N.B. She facilitated a workshop for MYR. It was called the Poverty Game, which was created and designed by individuals on Social Assistance. We were given an identity and a scenario as individuals on Social Assistance. It was an eye opening experience. I would strongly suggest politicians "play" this game and perhaps their level of empathy and understanding of exactly what people who live in poverty experience and struggle with every day.

Wednesday February 5, 2018
Honourable Premier Stephen McNeil:
Please accept this letter in response to Brandon Grant’s letter to the community members who support the Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequacy and Reform. We are a group of community organizations and individuals who understand the realities of life on social assistance in Nova Scotia and the policies that shape this system either through our work or our own first-hand experience.

We once again request that you, Premier McNeil, respond and agree to the requests contained in the Community Agenda. Since we released this document on December 15, 2017, more groups and individuals have shown their solidarity and commitment to this movement by signing onto the agenda. You will find the list of signatories at the end of this document.
First, as with our last letter, we have addressed this letter to you, Premier McNeil, as our agenda requests require an executive decision for budgetary allocations. This level of decision making is not within the purview of a civil servant no matter how senior they are or how knowledgeable about this policy area. Such a decision should require the support of the Minister responsible for the Department of Community Services, ultimately, however, we realize that this decision is one that lies with you. As the leader of this government, it is you, Premier McNeil, who is accountable to the requests of citizens of Nova Scotia.
Second, without a significant increase to income assistance rates with a goal to address the inadequacy of support that is provided, all clients of this program will continue to live in poverty. The toll poverty takes on clients overshadows all of the work that might come of the changes that are proposed. In other words, without an increase in income assistance rates, these changes will amount to tinkering with a system that has the effect of penalizing people receiving assistance and ensuring that nobody who must access this program has enough to provide for the basic needs of them and their family.
Therefore, we are once again asking you, as Premier of Nova Scotia: Will your 2018 Spring Budget allocate an increase to all Income Assistance rates?
There is no reason to once again reiterate that “announcements related to budget 2018-19 will be made when it is tabled in 2018.” As you know, budget announcements are regularly made outside of the tabling of the budget that have budgetary implications. People receiving income assistance deserve to know whether they will have the money needed to pay for things such as the rising cost of food, or the increasing NS Power rates. This is the time of year that many community members fear annual rental increase notices, and so perhaps you can reassure them that they will not get evicted for not being able to pay for rising rents. Average rentals have increased 17% since 2000, while the shelter amounts provided have been frozen.
This is just one illustration of how the system is designed to keep people at risk of homelessness.
As a counterpoint to what Mr. Grant wrote to signatories of the community agenda, the BC government recently announced an increase to its income assistance by $100 per month, as well as introducing a basic income pilot program, in what will be part of a series of legislative strategies to fight poverty. These are bold and progressive moves that signify what governments can do when the political will and foresight is there to support the needs of people living in poverty. The Premier of that province said this: “We’re raising the rates to support people and help them live in dignity.” The continued decision to not reasonably raise the rates ensures that people who are turning to your government as their last resort cannot live in dignity.
Under our income assistance program, a single person who is considered employable faces the lowest income supports; the NS government provides only 38.4% of what they need to reach the Market Basket Measure of low-income. This is one of the lowest in the country (BC’s rate was 38.3%). Since 2013, the Ontario government increased income supports from 6.7% to as much as 19% for some recipients. The recent review of the Ontario social assistance system recommended a further 22% increase over three years. Welfare incomes in Nova Scotia are well below what was provided in the 1990s. Premier McNeil, this is an unacceptable situation, one which we are confident you are well aware.
The number one determinant of health and food security is income security, and the ability to make decisions based on your own circumstances. Raising the rates of assistance is a progressive step to address the health needs of people who depend on assistance, and we are confident that you will make this happen in the 2018 budget.
Third, the government response lauded its consultation process to date as evidence that this was sufficient. The key for us is that the government’s form of consultation is not collaboration. The consultations held to date are owned by government, with those being consulted having no ownership over the outcomes of the consultation or even setting the terms of consultation. While some stakeholders could have engaged in the consultations, they are at a clear disadvantage both in resources and power to have any meaningful input. Let us also make clear that private meetings between government and community members should not be confused with collaboration or consultation. The meetings and what is discussed therein are not accountable to the people who receive income assistance. We are asking that you listen to the signatories of the community agenda and direct the Department of Community Services to engage in the collaborative process as outlined in the community agenda.
Moreover, none of this is what we asked for, which is a move to a collaborative partnership in the redesign of the income assistance program. Collaboration requires much more transparency with all relevant information released publicly. It would require the development of shared objectives that then guide the process as it unfolds.
The response letter actually highlights the problems with the government’s consultation to date. It mentions the standard household rate as an example of a positive change. The problem is that exactly what this change means has never been fully and publicly communicated with all of the relevant information needed to understand who exactly benefits. Communicating only in percentages is meaningless especially when not all clients will receive an increase. What would be meaningful is to communicate a plan to progressively increase income assistance rates by a dollar amount for everyone with a stated goal to have the amount of support reach the MBM low income line.
Similarly, the response letter highlights the change to earnings exemptions. While we see this as a step in the right direction, we see some of the movement shown on this issue as short sighted. The current low uptake of these exemptions is undoubtedly partially because of the high clawback. More importantly, many of those that you deem “employable” aren’t in a position to gain paid employment because of the lack of employment opportunities and supports that can meet their needs. Most importantly, the ability to seek employment opportunities, or to take up opportunities to increase employability, is severely hampered when clients are in daily survival mode to meet their basic needs. Instituting a complicated earnings exemption/clawback system will make it very difficult for clients to figure out their monthly budgets. Moreover, it is problematic that there are no earnings exemptions for those applying for assistance, requiring people to quit their job to prove need.
Income exemptions that should also be prioritized including the claw back of child support-why are we still waiting for the end to this cruel practice that discriminates against single parents wanting to provide for their children? Had the government adopted a human rights lens to build objectives for reform, as we are urging the government to do, this kind of practice would have already been flagged for change. We are asking that your government look to the recent Sparks decision from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal as an indicator of the importance of Nova Scotia’s international human rights obligations – including the right to an adequate standard of living and social security in a non-discriminatory manner as per the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child – in reforming the income assistance program.
Fourth, the community agenda is a response to the urgency of need to address the income needs of the most vulnerable people in our province. We respectfully disagree with Mr. Grant’s assertion that we asked for a delay in the reform of this program. At no point did we ask the government to delay transformation. Further, we have been told that the government will be entering into another phase of consultation that was to begin in the New Year. We ask that this round not repeat the previous rounds, and instead involve working through the collaborative partnership which we have proposed.
We understand that your government has announced upcoming changes such as access to bus passes, standard household rate and the wage incentive structure. We are asking that the collaborative working group we have proposed be struck to review these and other changes, prior to them being rolled out in the timeline that has already been proposed by your government.
Fifth, the response letter makes a point to list initiatives already taken by government. We are well aware of these initiatives and yet still must come to you to demand better service and security for ourselves and our community. While we acknowledge that the $20 per month increase two years ago was the largest in Nova Scotia history, we stress that more needs to be done. This change does little to lessen the burden of those people who are living hundreds of dollars below any poverty line. This only shows how little priority has historically been placed to help this group of people. Premier McNeil, you have created the opportunity to change the course of this program.
The response letter highlighted the recent bus pass pilot program in HRM. While we see this as a positive step in many ways, we have heard from rural communities that they are being left out of any gains in this regard. Once again, we point out that the collaborative process we have proposed would provide vital insight in policy direction and innovative solutions for all Nova Scotians who depend on income assistance.
The response letter also outlines other changes such as extending the Career Seek Program.The information that has been publicly released shows that participation in this program continues to be low. This is another example of why relevant information needs to be shared in order for clients to understand what they can access, but more integrally, clients need to inform the shape of the programs and initiatives in order for those initiatives to empower them to make decisions about their own lives. The collaborative process, as is detailed in the Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequacy and Reform, would address these concerns.
We are concerned about the government’s poverty reduction “blueprint”. We believe that, like the ESIA transformation, that without collaboration this plan falls short of being an accountable, achievable strategy to lift Nova Scotians out of poverty. The announcement cited in the response is not a blueprint, a blueprint would be a comprehensive action plan to achieve stated goals and objectives, based on evidence. Grant programs and project funding are not sufficient to support non-profit organizations, who require core-funding that recognizes the added-value that they have provided over decades of filling in the gaps in needs left by all levels of government, or to systematically reduce poverty. We fear that this process in another missed opportunity for true collaboration that can meaningfully enhance the lives of Nova Scotians.
The response letter states that client outcomes will be improved at the end of this transformation process. We are asking what information this claim is based on and what client outcomes are being evaluated in this claim? We are requesting that this information be made public, specifically to those people who are current clients of the ESIA program. Developing indicators of client outcomes must include clients in a collaborative process, one which we have proposed.
Lastly, the response letter did indicate that continued input is being sought. We are committed to collaborating with your government on the reform of the social assistance program and we ask that you direct the Department of Community Services to engage with the collaborative process as outlined in the Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequacy and Reform. We commit to continuing to give input publicly and in full transparency
We are asking for you to meet with our group to discuss the implementation of our community agenda and look forward to hearing from you by Monday, February 19, 2018.

Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services
Basic Income Guarantee – Nova Scotia
Benefit Reform Action Group
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS
Community Advocates Network
Dalhousie Legal Aid Service
Dartmouth Family Centre/Dartmouth North Community Food Centre
Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia
Every Woman Centre
Imove/Uniacke Center for Community Development
Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre (Cumberland)
Martha Justice Ministry; Sisters of St. Martha, Antigonish
Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers
Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
Red Bear Healing Home Society
Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia
Solidarity Halifax
The Stepping Stone Association
Tri-County Women’s Centre
Women’s Place Resource Center, Annapolis Royal
Bill Carr, Actor, Writer, Speaker and Co-Founder of Arc -The Atlantic Restorative Company
Brenda Thompson, Author and Activist
Dr. Val Marie Johnson, Social Justice and Community Studies, Saint Mary’s University
Jackie Torrens, Documentarian, My Week on Welfare Megan MacBride, Social Worker
Michelle Mallette, Community Organizer and Anti-Poverty Activist
Sister Joan O’Keefe
Vince Calderhead, Halifax Human Rights Lawyer
Wayne McNaughton, Poverty Activist
See also:

Krista Wells - Furry Logic Life & Dogs

I remember my first impressions of my artist friend Krista Wells. She had great style, a beautiful smile and bright eyes that were framed by a groovy lookin' pair of glasses. On Krista's web site she modestly and unassumingly describes herself this way.

                                                                   " I'm short.
                                                                     I hate Brussels sprouts.
                                                                     I make neat stuff."

Don't be fooled, she might be short, but she's a great big mixture of chutzpah, and a talented compilation of personal stature.
I'm with her on the Brussels sprouts, but what she so loves is dogs, and most critters I think. She's a self- described "dogaholic". I can relate to that.
She certainly does makes a lot neat stuff, gets things done, and makes things happen. I admire her greatly as a person and as an artist, for a whole lot of reasons.

Krista Well's Furry Logic notebooks, 1&2 give an intimate glimpse into her creative, playful, perspective and thoughtful musings about Life and Dogs. Some might think Krista's anthropomorphism is silly, and dismiss it, but I suggest to those who think so, need to take, and make the time to take a closer look. Krista's deep love for dogs extends far beyond anthropomorphism. In her notes on Life and Dogs, Krista gently invites us to think about life, and to think about a dog's perspective, a far simpler one, that humans can learn from, and even meditate on.

If human beings were more like dogs, I think we might not take ourselves so seriously,  enjoy life more, and spend more time playing, and get a whole lot more creative. Sounds good to me.

Krista and Michael's sweet Fica

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hyggeligt Bread Head

I admit I'm a bread head, a carbo junkie. This can potentially be problematic for me, because it can add on the pounds real fast and being a recovering alcoholic carbohydrates turn into sugar and that's not a good thing. So I try to work on moderation and balance my diet with unprocessed, healthy food.. But I do love to bake. I was "The Bagel Lady' for a time in the NWT when I lived in Yellowknife and worked at the Wild Cat Cafe.

Bagels, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, pretzels are some of the delectable delights I've learned to make over the years, and I'd have to say I see baking as a creative activity and very hyggeligt. I get a lot of pleasure especially when I can share my baked creations with others, and Winter sure lends itself to breaking bread with others.

 Today I thought, oh geez I need some hamburger buns, because I thought, I can't remember last time I had a hamburger, and I have some hamburg, but no car to go get the buns. Then I thought hey, I don't need to go get buns, I'll just make my own, which I did today and I posted them above. They're made with whole wheat, all-purpose unbleached and organic rye flour. So easy a fast to make, soft and very tasty. I topped them with some multi-grain  and steel cut oats instead of sesame seeds.

A couple of days ago I learned to make French Baguettes. Holy ole frig! They were some good, as we say in Nova Scotia! I don't have any pictures to post...well because I gobbled those babies up pretty fast.

Next, I hope to take on the challenge of making Italian Ciabatta bread which in Italian, Ciabatta means slipper, very Hygge!
By the way, the hamburgers were the best ever!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Case for Baskets

No, I'm not a basket case, not any more any way, but I am a total basket nut. I adore baskets. Ever since I was a little girl I've had the very fond memory of my grandmothers baskets, she'd bought over the years from the Mi'gmaq women who sold their beautiful baskets from door to door. I inherited some of these and I treasure them greatly.

I've never had lessons to learn how to make willow or any other kinds of baskets, but I hope one day I will get the opportunity. What I continue to learn about this beautiful art form I've learned on my own, and found different techniques for making them. Sometimes it's just spontaneously learning as I go. The internet is a great resource but not the same as learning face to face from another skilled person who can teach all the nuances, and traditions of the skill. which are cultural and ancient.

What's wonderful about learning from our mothers and grandmothers is these hand made skills can be passed on to the daughters and grand daughters ensuring these traditions are preserved. When generations of women gather in this manner it's a time that's about much more then simply creating utilitarian objects of beauty with form and function. The activity intuitively builds and bonds our relationships with one another and gives us the opportunity to talk and make sense of our world.

The above photo is of a  basket I started I a few years back. It was a little daunting because it was the biggest basket I'd ever made, with fisher-men's float rope and put together with crocheted yarn. I'd worked on it for some time and had almost completed it and then I put it away, and there it sat until recently, when I brought it out again and finally finished it last month.

Although it's not exactly perfect, I had no instructions, but it's good enough for me. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out and happy to finally have it done. Now I have a very practical laundry basket that I made myself.