Sunday, April 23, 2017

Heidi Jirotka, BP (Brilliant Photographer)

Every year or two I get together with my favourite photographer, Heidi Jirotka, and we spend the day frolicking.  It has been a time honoured ritual since 2012. Heidi's website is being updated right now, but you can find her on Facebook by clicking HERE.

The photo below is from our very first photo shoot.

We always have so much fun working together.  Heidi has this huge grin on her face while she takes photos.  I asked her about this and she admits that she can't help herself.  Well, that kind of happiness is contagious and it shows in the photos.

  I think of our meetings as play dates.

I just let the artist do her work.  The minute she gets that camera in her hands she starts directing.  Oh, go here, put your left hand here, big toe you think you could twist your knee behind your shoulder, tilt your head slightly and stand on your elbow?

 Every photo shoot we go somewhere new to play.  This time we headed to Blue Rocks, just a hop skip and a jump from Lunenburg.  That place is a photographer's dream.  Since it was off season, we took some liberties with locations.  My apologies if any of these buildings happen to belong to you.  We stayed on the outside, I promise.

I firmly believe that you should wear the hat that represents the day you wish to have.

Really,  I'm a very serious person...Heidi just brings this out in me.

Silly of me to be holding this map because I had no desire to go anywhere.

I know...lots of pictures, right?  This is actually just a tiny portion.  Even after four hours, Heidi kept seeing one more great shot.
My beautiful bike.

Newsboy cap in the pines.  Hey, did I mention that the fabric for my newsboy caps is woven right here in Lunenburg by Double Whale Handwoven Designs?

I'll leave you with this one.  I adore this little shanty, owned by Jenny from Jenny Jib.

These days it's easy to be a photographer, but if you are looking for an artist I can't recommend Heidi enough.   She's guaranteed to make you smile.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mom's Buy and Sell in Lunenburg

Nova Scotia is a bit of a snowy place right now and what with endless school cancellations and general shack wackiness, you might be looking to hop on a plane and head south.  But if that option is not available to you, there is another cure.  Come take a day trip to Lunenburg.

I'd be lying if I told you that Lunenburg escaped the last two consecutive blizzards.  This here is my own house and I'm happy to report that we did manage to dig our way out.

A few years ago you would have had a hard time finding an open shop in February, but times are a changin' and now, even on Sundays, there are beautiful shops open where you can find a dose of colour.
Mom's Buy and Sell on Linclon St.  is really more than a shop.  It's an emporium.  The space is huge and you could easily spend a couple of hours getting lost in beautiful vintage rugs, textiles, clothing, furniture, and everything you didn't know you needed until you saw it. these vintage rolling pins...

...or this antique clothes wringer....

...or all this fun vintage jewelry....

or some milk paint for that Do it yourself project that you have been contemplating for the last 20 years.

The snow clearing crew is hard at work, so that when and if you find your way out of Mom's Buy and Sell, you can walk a couple block down to Montague st. and....

Have a great cup of coffee at No. 9.    

Lots of other shops in town are now open, too. Hope you can make it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lunenburg Winter

Lunenburg in the winter is really a pretty good place to be. When the leaves and flowers are gone, the sky and the colourful buildings will sustain you until spring.

Pretty much every morning starts with a walk through the cemetary.  I love these two trees.  I think of them as an old married couple.

Beautiful St. John's Anglican Church.  Home to plenty of beautiful music.  The inside is as beautiful as the outside.

The entire town is a hill, so there are so many places to see the roof tops.  I love going into people's houses and looking our their windows.  A different perspective from every house.

Lincoln st. Not seen in this photo is the very patient dog who wonders why its human stops so many times and doesn't even bother to sniff anything.

Every once in a while I leave town.  Well, I crossed the town line.  This photo was taken in Garden lots which is one step past Lunenburg.  (25 minute walk from my home.)

There's something geometrical going on here.

I have been walking through this town for over eight years and there is not a day that I don't see something new.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sewing with a Syrian Refugee

Oh, I just can't help myself. I've got to tell you a bit about my few hours sewing with Rezan, one third of Mahone Bay's Syrian refugee family. I was a little worried about communication because they just arrived here in September and they are just beginning to learn English. But it really wasn't a problem. Sometimes he didn't understand me, but it was never something that needed to be understood. For someone with very few words, he told a lot of stories.
It was funny because he has been here so short a time that everything he notices becomes his experience of Canada. For example, "In Canada, sewing machines small." (he's used to sewing on industrial machines.) I'm afraid I have now added, in Canada scissors are dull to his observations.
He told me how in Turkey (where they have been for the past four years) that the president didn't like the Kurds, but the people were good. (Man, that goes for so many places)

He asked if I liked Trump. I said, no. He laughed and he said, No Canada like Trump. Teacher (his English teacher) ask 8 (the eight students) Like Trump? No like, No like, No like...She ask, Rezan, like Trump? I say, Yes, like Trump. And he laughed again. Everyone say, Rezan bad. More laughing. I get this man. He's enjoying messing with their minds.
But he also told me, Muslim no (pantomimed slitting throat) Muslim no (pantomimed shooting) Muslim no (pantomimed explosion) Alkaida bad, no Muslim. I know, I said, I know.....
I said, Istanbul big city. Damascus, big city. Mahone Bay, small town. You like? Yes, he said. I like Mahone Bay, but I like work.
He's been sewing for someone else in Mahone Bay, but the work is sporadic. I had to break it to him that it's the same for me. So hard, I wish I could keep him busy, but there's no guarantee. Must be difficult to be idle when you are a worker by nature. I tried to explain that this is how so many people make a living in rural Nova Scotia. Lots of little jobs.
Oh, the label. Why the picture of the label? He called it, Made in Anna, although he pronounced it, Mad in Anna. I sent him home with a few hat bodies to sew and I had forgotten to give him the labels. He said, Excuse me..Mad in Anna? I ran and got the labels and his eyes twinkled with laughter. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You Drive Me Crazy. Happy 14th Anniversary.

"You drive me crazy, with all the things you do and do not do.  But, I love you so much, Baby, I'm going to drive you crazy, too."  Greg Brown

This photo is from mine and Tony's wedding day, August 23rd. 2002.  Yes, we also have photos of adoring stares and passionate kisses, but this one's my favourite.

At some point in 2001, I remember confessing to my dear friend, Anna Vojtech, that I had thought many times that I should really be with Tony, but I knew we couldn't possibly be compatible because he didn't recycle. Anna is a few wisdom years ahead of me and I remember how she laughed and assured me that people could overcome much worse hardships. Well, it's true.  She was right.  Now in 2016, I'm proud to say that Tony is a very enthusiastic recycler.  He recycles absolutely everything, whether it's recyclable or not.  Styrofoam, candy wrappers, dirty tissues, you name it, it goes into the recycling bin. It makes my sorting job a bit tricky, but he's worth it.

We eloped.  I really wouldn't have had it any other way. We invited one friend each.  Tony's mom, one of the greatest women to have ever walked this earth, crashed the wedding.  It was a truly wonderful day and it was uniquely us.  Our plan was to get married at Gloucester City Hall, but when we arrived, there was an unexpected council meeting and we had to think of a plan B.   We walked over to Fitz Hugh Lane Park.  There were several homeless people hanging out in the park and they were all quite keen to witness a wedding.  And so it was that we got married in the park, with cheers from its residents,  overlooking a city that was near and dear to both our hearts.  The name of the man who married us was Bob Whynot.

Walking through life with another is challenging, to say the least.  We do regularly drive each other to distraction, but mostly, we hold each other up, make each other laugh and best of all, he makes me coffee in the morning.    Fourteen years later, I'm still smitten and as lucky as lucky can be.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Littlest Flower Farm

It was many moons ago when I first discovered that farmers markets were my favourite places to be. It's not just that they are filled with local produce, baked goods and crafts, but, when done well, they are the hub of a community. They are also hot beds of entrepreneurship and local business.  As much as I don't love to pack up my studio, load the car,  wake up early and haul boxes into an empty arena to set up the show, I do love knowing that every vendor in the space is in the exact same boat as I am.  Just regular, hard working people making an honest living with their hands. Having been at this racket for over 20 years now, I feel extra warm and fuzzy when I see a young person (Boy, does that make me sound old) with a great vision, trying to get a new business off the ground.  In this case, it's into the ground.  Meet Alicia Steeves, the master mind behind Littlest Flower Farm.

(If you noticed the little spelling mistake don't say anything.)  Alicia sells bouquets and also individual flowers by the stem.  Her flowers are like a Victorian romance explosion.  Everything is just so soft and sweet and muted. I don't know what draws me to this sensibility so much.  Maybe it balances my Kamikaze, mad as a hatter personality. I just look at her flowers and the world instantly becomes a gentler place.

When I asked to take Alicia's photo, she told me that she only slept an hour and a half last night.  Clearly her lack of sleep has not affected her beauty, but it is note worthy in that running a business is really hard work and people need to understand that if we want to see new businesses succeed we have to make an extra effort to support them.

 The littlest flower farm doesn't yet have a regular spot at the Lunenburg market, but she will be there a couple more weeks for sure during the summer and probably more if space becomes available.  But in the mean time, she does make bouquets for weddings and restaurants and anyone else needing a gentle reminder that life is actually beautiful when you choose to look at flowers.  You can find The Littlest Flower Farm on Instagram @littlestflowerfarm and on Facebook also at Littlest Flower Farm.  You can e-mail Alicia at

Sunday, July 17, 2016

What Doesn't Kill You makes you Happier

You know what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  This past year I went through something of a struggle.  On the outside it was the story of a woman fighting red tape in Nova Scotia, but on the inside the struggle was more complicated and personal.  I'm happy to say that it all ended very well, but it's taken some time for the reset button to work.

This past month I have been acutely aware of how happy I am.  Happiness shows up brighter when contrasted by sadness. It's funny to say that the dark side of my experience has turned out to be a gift, but I think it has. Every day feels precious right now. I realize I sound like a positive affirmation, but life feels glorious and I'm just so grateful to be in this beautiful corner of the earth. I have been watching carefully to see if that old adage, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, is true.  The verdict is not out yet, but what I can tell you is, what doesn't kill you makes you happier.

I took these pictures on today's bike ride to Second Peninsula, a short ride from Lunenburg.