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A Newsy Letter about Visits and Road Trips.

A Newsy Letter about Visits and Road Trips.

Good Morning,
Yesterday I told my friend Lily who lives a couple of hours away that I could drive down for a visit. She texted me back and said "I'll make a cake". I rarely leave home to hit the road so I think she saw it as fit for a celebration.
When I got there she had a little lemon coconut pound cake in the oven and a pot of soup on. It made me feel so special to arrive to a cake coming out of the oven. It reminded me of my mother baking date squares and lemon squares when company was coming. It was a long drive but it was worth it.
We didn't do much. We poked around her house and looked at the changes she made. We both share a love of home. Then we took a long walk through a hilly road and back through her friend's farm. We looked around an old barn for a bit, cut some forsythia for me to force , and had a cup of tea and lunch together. After lunch we went to town for an hour and I headed back home. I was back at my house by 4pm.
I often tell myself that I don't like driving but really I do. I get in the car, turn on a podcast and keep myself company. I drove a long way for a short visit but we are old old friends, 31 years, and she baked a cake so it was worth it. I ate two slices and then brought one home for Robert.
I remember once I drove five hours to take my old friend Doris Eaton out to lunch. I still remember that day. I had been writing my book Simply Modern and I was telling Doris that I had a title for it. I think it was something like Contemporary Hooked Rugs. Doris had had a stroke earlier that year and I was just happy to be with her. When I told her the title she smiled and said , "Maybe you'll think of something better." I laughed and she laughed. We laughed out loud in this pretty little cafe on a rural road on the south shore of Nova Scotia. After lunch she took me to meet Jane Steele from her rug hooking group, then I took her back home. It was a long drive for a little visit but it stands out in my memory. It was a beautiful day.
Friends are worth the trip. Often in the spring I feel the desire to get in the car for a little impromptu road trip. I don't want it planned. I just like to wake up and decide. That makes me happy. It is freedom to be able to get up in the morning and decide how to spend the day. That is a special freedom.
Today, after I finish writing to you I am going to get in the car again and drive out to the beach for a little walk about. It is spring and I feel the need to look around a bit and see what the winter left behind. When I come back I think I will sew a new rug upon my Cheticamp to hook because the light lasts into the evening now and so spring is a great time to hook.
Before I go I wanted to share a great meal I cooked last night. Whenever I go anywhere, I am always glad to get home. I get the fire going to warm the place up and I cook up something good. This was last night's supper. You could make it with any fish.
Halibut with spring vegetables 
Pan fry halibut or your favorite fish dipped in flour. I heat olive oil in the pan until it is hot before I put the fish in. Four minutes on each side. Set aside fish on a plate. 
In the same pan sauté 
1 clove garlic minced
1 sweet onion
4 mushrooms thinly sliced.
Cover with three cups water
2 cups chicken stock
Add 10-12 small new potatoes
Rind of one lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Cook about ten minutes or until potatoes are still firm
Add 2 cups green beans, cook uncovered until potatoes are done, and beans still firm. 
Toss in 1 cup peas and 1 cup asparagus, and juice of one lemon
Top with fish, cover for three minutes and serve. It is a simple but delicious fish stew.
So that's it for me today. It was good to be here with you this morning. Remember every Thursday we go live on facebook and instagram so I'll see you there.
As I write this to you now I am wondering what I'll hook today. I don't always know but I always show up at my frame and something comes. I love that .
Haver a good week, I hope you get a visit in with someone, even via zoom. It is good for us to stay in touch, thanks so much for reading,
PS. I am having a live zoom class next Saturday if you would like to spend the day with me hooking the caribou and learning about colour and design you can register here.
Sunday letter... here is what I miss....

Sunday letter... here is what I miss....

Good morning,
I stayed late on Friday night at the studio and hung my rugs up after we had some painting done. Being at the studio on my own reminds me of years ago when the studio was just me a good bit of the time. I knew there was a group of women visiting on Saturday from Halifax and I wanted to get the rugs up. Company was coming.
When I was a child and company was coming my mother would prepare raisin buns, lemon squares and date squares. She would also make sure she had ham and cheese for sandwiches. It was a simple preparation, the same every time. It was always special just the same. It marked a kind of change in the air. To a child it felt as if something magical was about to happen.
In Nova Scotia right now we can gather in small groups. We cannot cross the border to our neighbours in New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island. Our shops and restaurants are open, we are wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing. Still most of us are staying home and being very careful. And we are missing each other. We are feeling the cold of the winter, the isolation, and we are carrying that around.
At the same time we know that so many people have suffered such great losses through this pandemic that the bit of loneliness we feel is nothing in comparison. I even feel sometimes a little ashamed of being tired of it all, for all my loved ones are good and safe.
Still we feel it. Still we carry this feeling, one that was previously unknown to us and we wait and we hope.
If this pandemic has taught me anything, it has taught me a lot about faith and hope. When things slip out of my control, as so many things do, this is where I turn.
I just want to tell you today that I miss you.
That I'm lonely too.
Yesterday when those women came from Halifax and laid out their projects and gathered wool for their new rugs they breathed some life into our studio. For one of them it was her first visit and when she walked in she happily said, "I made it !". When Cathy, who works with me told me this, I said, " That is why it is so important to be a place for people to go." We have missed being your place to go. We have missed offering people a cup of tea. We have missed our community.
Our oatcakes are wrapped to go. Hospitality is different.
Because of hope and faith I believe that you will get the chance to come to visit when this pandemic is under control. That we'll see our sisters, brothers, grandkids, and friends and share big meals and love each other in a real place. Hospitality will re-emege as something more vital and more important than it was before. We will know the real beauty of gathering people in our homes and sharing food with them. We will appreciate it.
We will know the importance of the word Gather, the beauty of coming together in kindness and love. Perhaps it is love for an art, a craft, an interest, or perhaps it is love for each other. Whatever it is, we will know the value of it.
For now though it is winter here, and as beautiful as it is, there is a frigidity to it that makes many of us long for bare feet in the grass.
It's ok to pine for something beautiful as long as you promise yourself to find the good in the day that is with you.
As long as you know that winter turns to spring, and that winter was made for the makers, and when you make, the world around you softens just a little.
So don't get tired of making because making feeds you and soothes you. There is so much comfort in it.
Thanks for being there,
Sunday Newsletter, January 17, 2021

Sunday Newsletter, January 17, 2021

Good Morning,
I want to tell you about my walks on these last two mornings. Yesterday morning there was a hoarfrost so every plant was covered in these tiny miracles. There were millions of little ice crystals creating thin layers over the structure of every stem and seed on my path. The night prior had been foggy and misty and it had gotten colder and the forest and the dale that surround me became majestic.
Now today is a new day. I walked early this morning in the pouring rain. The magical frosts of yesterday have disappeared and there is a skating rink in my driveway that I have salted so I can get to the road safely. The little miracles have dissapeared & the world is grey.
Winter here changes daily. Its cold, it's warm, it's wet, then it's snowy. The thing I know is that whatever it is like out I have to get out in it and accept it. It is something that is a given. I cannot control it. At the same time, except for the most severe storms where we need to stay off the roads, I cannot let it control me.
I cannot let the weather determine how I feel. I'd be so moody living here if I did. I live in a place where the weather is ever changing. We have seasons with in seasons.
And it is these seasons that I watch as I walk the same road everyday. Once my neighbour said, "I don't know how you can walk the same road everyday, day after day." I wondered about that for awhile too.
I wondered if I was dull perhaps hoofing it up and down this road. Then one day on a walk it occurred to me I have never walked the same road twice.
Between the light, the weather, and the charm of nature itself nothing ever stays the same. For the last seven months I have been watching the wild caraway along the side of the road. Honestly, I have seen some gorgeous sculptures but never one as delicately beautiful as this.
Yesterday in that hoarfrost she was covered in diamonds. At other times she is the black and grey of coal going to ash. In summer she was lit with gold. I can barely keep up with her. "She never walks in the room the same way twice", as Jim Cuddy says.
As creatives ( that's all of us...yes, even you, if you are doubting it) we are profoundly effected by what is going on around us. What we see, what we take in, the weather, the moods of others. Some of these things we have no control over.
While there are other things where we do have some control. For example, what I am reading, what I am seeing, and what media I am taking in. I have learned that watching flowers bloom and change and hearing birds sing has lead to me to art in a way that so much does not. I try to choose what leads me to beauty with out burying my head in the sand. For the world needs us, the creatives to contribute and make a little noise now and then.
As I write this the rain has stopped pounding on the windows here in mid January and the sun has lit up the snow for at least a few minutes. It is just the weather. It won't make this day. I have to do that myself with my spirit. I'll go to my frame after writing this and I'll try to create a little beauty. I'll try to contribute. It's the least I can do.
I think I should tell you that's it grey again. But that's okay.
Enjoy your day. I hope you see something beautiful today.
I hope you feel beautiful today.
Thank you for reading,
PS.We have sold out of kits for the years winter online course. I have asked Angie to dye some colours for our texture wall and have created a texture package of twenty textures, the pattern and the course. Limited Quantities are available below . You can then use your stash or purchase some green, blues, and other colours in the rug to go with your texture pack.
PPS. I am going to add an extra video in the course about how to work from your stash to create the rug. I want to hook the pattern again in a different way anyway. I love the pattern. It is full of opportunity to be creative.
Rughooking in Nova Scotia

Rughooking in Nova Scotia

In 1892 John Garrett began manufacturing rug patterns on Burlap. He started a business that over it's first season sold only 150 patterns, that evolved into a business that had a mailing list of 20,000 people and was importing 150,000 yards of burlap from Scotland each year. His business also had a small successful branch in Boston. Garrett distributed his patterns through Eatons, Simpsons, Hudson's Bay and Woolworth's. And sold his patterns all over Canada, America, and as far as England, New Zealand and Australia. Garrett also invented the "Bluenose Hooker" which was 5x faster than the ordinary hook. And was famous for his Bluenose patterns. He also promoted hooking rugs with yarn instead of rags, which lead to the commercial production of hooked mats. The company closed down during World War II because it was difficult to get burlap imported as well as most manufacturing was going towards war materials. Post-war, the company overbought a poor quality of burlap as well as suffered from a fire and water damage that forced the company to close. In 1998, Linda Macdonald bought what was left of Garrett's business.