October 15, 2015
Espelette is a small village in the Basque region of France, about 10 km from the Spanish border. Espelette is renowned for its peppers and for those of you who cook, you will know that many Basque recipes call for poivre d’Espelette. They are not very hot but they have a little kick and a whole lot of flavour.
The peppers are hung to dry outside many of the houses of the village during the summer and are honoured in a festival on the last Sunday in October.
My friend Stéphane brought me some Espelette peppers from Jean Talon Market this week. I suspect these are not from France so they don’t have the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée seal, but they are delicious and so beautiful.
I strung some up to dry and then will grind them to a powder. That’s the plan anyway, I’ve never tried. Others I cut into thin slices and put them in the freezer. And of course, I had to photograph them.
The very last photo was taken by my friend Marilynne when she was in Espelette this summer.
P.S. Miss Colette had to see what was happening. She never misses an opportunity to be in front of the camera.
October 4, 2015
The crisp October breeze across the lake
The dark green cover flecked with red
The earthy walk in a mossy forest;
My nature spirit wakes up and smiles.
The warmth of hearth for chilly hands
The bubbly wine for toasting hosts
The hearty soup made with love;
My living spirit stands up and cheers.
The gift of time for meandering talks
The blessings of friendships old and new
Comfort settles on the mind;
My heart spirit sighs and glows.
August 28, 2015
Every time I’ve gone to Switzerland, I visited the Italian part called Ticino. I love the architecture, hearing Italian spoken on the street and the scrumptious food you find there. When David and I went to Ticino this summer, in Lugano at the southernmost tip of Switzerland, it was hot. During the day the temperature rose to 40 C (105 F) and although the nights were cooler, we didn’t get much relief. Most places are not air-conditioned and although our apartment overlooked beautiful Lake Lugano, there was very little breeze. It seemed my hair was always wet, from showering, swimming or just sweating. We took a long boat tour on the lake with a quick shopping stop in Italy and on another day we took the funicular up to Monte Brè for a spectacular view of the lake and surrounding areas. We did our best to see as much as we could.
After a few days we were exhausted from the heat and lack of sleep. In a desperate attempt to cool off, we decided to go see a movie. We didn’t care much which movie, as long as the cinema was air-conditioned. We ended up seeing Jurassic World, in Italian. As you can imagine, language does not play a big part in this kind of movie. We understood everything. It was lovely. Now I feel like I can speak Italian.
Here are some photos from our stay in Lugano.
August 1, 2015
The last time I published a blog it was Canada Day. Today is Swiss National Day, a celebration of my second citizenship. David and I just returned from spending three weeks in Switzerland. We had a great time. What is there not to love about a country where you can buy fantastic bread anywhere (even the train station), scrumptious cheese, inexpensive wine (that’s the only thing that was inexpensive) and chocolate, lots of chocolate. I was made for this diet.
Another Swiss passion, perhaps not as well known, is flowers. The Swiss love to put flowers in every possible nook and cranny, on their houses, their barns, the tool sheds, water fountains, wherever. When I was on a train I saw red geraniums on the back of a wood shed —put there it seems, just for the pleasure of the passengers on the train. So Swiss.
So, I invite you to celebrate Switzerland today by having some chocolate, or cheese or wine or all three.
July 1, 2015
First, happy Canada Day for all those of you who are celebrating living in the best country in the world.
My inspiration for today’s blog comes from a cooking blog I subscribe to called Oh She Glows (ohsheglows.com). I love this blog for the photos and the casual, intimate writing of cookbook author Angela Liddon. She is a vegan cook but her recipes are so appetizing, even the most carnivorous find them mouth-watering. I highly recommend it. The most recent blog featured red fruit, a photographer’s muse (and an appropriate colour theme for Canada Day.)
My second inspiration is my new camera. I wasn’t planning on buying one, but David and I are traveling to Switzerland this summer and after much internal turmoil, I decided that I would leave my DSLR Canon at home. It’s just too heavy to carry while traipsing through the alps. I bought a Canon PowerShot SX 60 HS. Just for fun, I thought I’d do a comparison test with my two cameras with the red fruit. Both are Canon cameras and because they have similar names, I’ve called them Small Canon for the new PowerShot and Big Canon for the DSLR.
As far as the colour red is concerned, the Small Canon held its own three times out of four. Not bad at all.
May 25, 2015
Did anyone see spring this year? I certainly missed it. After the long and cold winter, I felt like I would spend all my time outside when spring finally came. Instead I found myself working long hours and spending too much time in front of the computer. Spring is notoriously short in Quebec. One moment it’s snowing and the next it’s a heat wave. I remember my tulips starting to poke through a few weeks ago and the next thing you know, they’re wilting.
Still, I find tulips attractive at the end of their lives. Sure, the bright colours and silky texture of fresh tulips is flashy but when they are near the end they reveal their more complex interiors which are very interesting to photograph.
Here are some shots of my tulips. I should tell you that I have a new macro lens. From now on, everything will be really up close.
March 3, 2015
What do you think of when you think of knitting? Do you love it? Do you wonder how people can move those needles without hurting themselves? Does it bring back fond memories of your childhood snowflake sweater with the reindeers?
I mentioned in my last blog that I had been to a knitting show. It was hosted by a local yarn store and my friends and I were not quite sure what to expect. Would we be watching someone knit? Would there be a competition of fast knitters? What should one wear for a knitting show?
The “show” part of the event was StevenBe, a textile artist, rock star knitter, Queen bee, all-around fun guy, owner of a yarn shop/textile salon/knitting school/party central in Minneapolis. He and his partner (Stephen with a ph) have been touring North America. The “knitting” part of the event was a display of their knitted creations and yarn products so beautiful that they could make even non-knitters salivate. I found their creations to be most interesting. About a third of them were little masterpieces; another third were unusual but attractive –something someone with a more bohemian approach to style than me could pull off –and the last third were frankly too bizarre for me.
I found the whole experience to be very inspiring. One thing our host said in particular struck me. He suggested that people should start knitting and make up the patterns as they go along. Imagine! Knitting without a pattern! Instead of the monotonous knit-purl-knit-purl, I could just knit away to my heart’s content and create something absolutely original. Well, someone could, maybe not me.
I like to knit but I’m not a good knitter. When I was younger I knitted and wore the results but they always had a clearly homemade look that I now shy away from. But now that I’ve been given the liberty to knit without rules, I’m going to take a whole new approach. I will no longer create “homemade sweaters” but rather “hand-crafted textile creations”. My new slogan will be Knit for Freedom. Thanks for the inspiration StevenBe.
Had I known what to expect, I would have brought my camera, but I didn’t. These photos are from my archives from a previous visit to the yarn shop.
February 20, 2015
Last weekend was especially busy. On Friday night my brother took me to a play. On Saturday afternoon we went to an exhibit of erotic art where my friend Grace was showing her work. Saturday night saw us at the Oscar Peterson hall for a concert on the roots of rock and roll and Sunday I attended a knitting show. (If you don’t know what that is, don’t worry neither did I. More about this in another blog.)
It was a fun and inspiring weekend. I was especially inspired by my friend Grace. She was somewhat hesitant about showing her work because of the intimate nature of the pieces. Grace is very creative and artistic in everything she does but she doesn’t usually participate in shows. I was very impressed that she put together these pieces and and submitted them to the show’s curator. I didn’t know what to expect but I found her work to be among the best of the seven or eight artists there.
While I was at the show, I thought of some photos I took two years ago but never published (no, they are not erotic). Why did these photos pop into my head at that moment? I really like those photos that I took with my phone while waiting for the bus on a rainy December night, but they are very different from the pretty photos I usually publish on my blog. I guess the lesson I learned from Grace is to just take a chance. Apparently, this is a lesson I have to learn over and over again.
I’m going to print some of these photos and create a triptych but I need your help. Which three would work together? I’ve numbered the photos so that you can tell me your favourites.
January 24, 2015
Science now conclusively shows what pet owners have known for a long time: that owning a pet is good for you. Pet owners are less depressed and anxious and also less likely to die from cardiac disease. Children who grow up with a pet are less likely to have allergies and have stronger immune systems.
Cats have special benefits for their owners. A cat’s purring vibration ranges from 20 to 140 Hz, which has proven to be very therapeutic. The purring can lower your stress, decrease your risk of a heart attack (by 40%!), heal infection and swelling, lower blood pressure and heal muscles and bones. Kitties should be awarded a medical degree!
Why a blog about cats? It’s just an excuse to show you photos of our new cat Plume. We agreed to foster her for a month until she found a permanent home. Twenty minutes after she arrived, she was sitting on David’s lap watching football. And that, my friends, was that. She is now a member of our family.
Photos this week
One of the things that I love about Plume is that she is not camera shy. She will sit patiently while I click away. My last cat Tessa use to run away as soon as I so much as glanced at my camera. My photos of her, with a few exceptions, were like photos of Big Foot; blurry images that showed a mass of fur, but what was it?
Here is Mademoiselle Plume.
P.S. for more info on how pets are good for you see: 27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.