h & p *

Monday, August 31, 2009

weird little votive candleholders bought at a yard sale years ago

For some reason I really love these funny votives. I have three of them.

I'm off early to the lands of bubbles and scent. I'm trying to get a jump on this new Monday, this new week which feels already busy and full or maybe it's because I've been moving at a slower speed - I can't decide. It's a week filled with variety. I'm juggling three different projects here at the teak topped desk, I'll be working a couple of days at the little gift & home decor store and I have an appointment mid week in the bigger town nearby. I'll go with my friend Helen and we'll have lunch out, make a day of it. So ... there are plans to be made, schedules need roughed out, and mustn't forget's written down neatly on fresh new page.

And tomorrow is September hooray !! Bonjour Bittersweet. I'm always a bit sad to say goodbye to crazy carefree summer, July & August nearly gone again for another year ... they both blow by so quickly but I'm always glad to say Hello ! September ! My new year. I say a big Hello to fleece, and pumpkins, to red, yellow and orange. Hello crisp fresh mornings, crunching leaves and dewy frost. Hello there ! new hope & promise.

Hey! did you know you can search this blog now ? Check the sidebar, way down at the bottom. Hooray!! I don't know about you but I'm always tryin' to find stuff.

* h & p - hope and promise, distant cousins of d & p - diligence and practice

baked fish & dreams of mine

Sunday, August 30, 2009

fish cooked in parchment - polaroid

Baked Cod in Parchment

cod fillets
cherry tomatoes
black and green olives
thinly sliced onions
thin strips of green or red pepper
fresh basil leaves
flat leaf parsley
olive oil
salt & pepper

Place 1 large rectangular sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle with olive oil and rub into paper. Place cod on a bed of thinly sliced onions and lemon slices. This particular fillet was long and narrow so I doubled it over on itself and put a few more slices of lemon in between the layers of fish. Top with halved cherry tomatoes, slivers of green pepper (from Harry's garden), sliced black and/or green olives, capers, a few thick slices of lemon zest, drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper. Wrap package up tightly like a gift and place in a 400 degree oven for 30 mins. Unwrap carefully, add torn basil leaves and parsley to garnish and enjoy. Delicious, super moist and very easy.

I love to cook and I love to take photographs ... in my new life I will cook, walk with my dog(s) in nature near the ocean all the time, I'll take lots of photographs, I'll cook some more, I'll lay on my bed avec les chats and read lots of great books and I'll sit at the teak topped desk and draw, paint, collage and create all day ... in my dream life I will not be vacuuming, dusting or doing housework and I will never ever mow lawns or worry about money ever again. Ta Da ! Just in case you're listening M. Universe.


a lobster boat leaving the harbour

I love when the sea and sky become one.

It's raining, it began yesterday afternoon and has been raining steady and hard, at times, since then. I love the rain - it feels like it rejuvenates me somehow. It makes me feel happy. My patchouli scented Tramp bath is poured, a sweet Dixon is snoring in her bed at my feet, my second cup of coffee sits here beside me, the breeze blowing in our open windows this early morning is warm and gentle. It's Sunday again my absolute favourite day of the week.

Gull and crows, crickets and dripping rain the only sounds we hear this morning. Heavenly.

Check back later for my contribution to this week's Karmic Kitchen - Dim Sum Sunday challenge - In the bag I have a a super easy recipe (avec photos of course) for baked fish (your choice) in parchment paper.

the end of summer

Saturday, August 29, 2009

queen anne's lace

Each time you'd pull down the driveway
I wasn't sure when I would see you again
Your's was a twisted blind sided highway
No matter which road you took then
Oh you set up your place in my thoughts
Moved in and made my thinking crowded
Now we're out in the back with the barking dogs
My heart the red sun
Your heart the moon clouded

I could go crazy on a night like tonight
When summers beginning to give up her fight
And every thoughts a possibility

And the voices are heard but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me
Maybe an equal mystery

So what is love then is it dictated or chosen
Does it sing like the hymns of 1000 years
Or is it just pop emotion
And if it ever was there and it left
Does it mean it was never true
And to exist it must elude
Is that why I think these things of you
I could go crazy on a night like tonight
When summers beginning to give up her fight
And every thoughts a possibility
And the voices are heard but nothing is seen
Why do you spend this time with me
May be an equal mystery

But you like the taste of danger
It shines like sugar on your lips
And you like to stand in the line of fire
Just to show you can shoot straight from you hip
There must be a 1000 things you would die for
I can hardly think of two
But not everything is better spoken aloud
Not when I'm talking to you

Oh the pirate gets the ship and the girl tonight
Breaks a bottle to christen her
Basking in the exploits of her thief
She's a very good listener
Maybe that's all that we need
Is to meet in the middle of impossibility
We're standing at opposite poles
Equal partners in a mystery

We're standing at opposite poles
Equal partners in a mystery

Mystery - Indigo Girls - listen here

This song to me is late summer. A favourite song, probably in my top ten favourite songs ever. A song I first heard the summer of '93 and my first summer in this little village, in this old brick house. Earlier that year, in the dead of winter, I had packed up all my troubles, my two cats, a truck load of furniture and fled the hustle and bustle of the big city and I left behind my first big love, ever. I escaped - to this new life, a life that seemed so chock full of possibility and promise. Especially that first summer when everything was new - I had a new terrific job that I loved, brand new friends, a new home, in a new little village by the ocean, my first dog Em (my pale golden girl) had been with me since the beginning of March and being a retriever she loved this new summer home as well. Ernst & Lulu my two downtown city cats were happily exploring the raspberry forest in their own backyard. It seemed, looking back, like a very happy time in my life yet this song always feels sad to me. It's about the end - of summer. I love the lyrics and when I listen to it I'm instantly transported back to the end of that carefree and brand new first summer.

The sky outside our windows is pink, puffy transparent pink clouds float above the harbour and the crows in the big willow tree seem alarmed by something.

Pink sky at night sailor's delight
Pink sky in the morning sailor's take warning

late august

Friday, August 28, 2009

dandelions gone to seed

love is trembling happiness

Kahlil Gibran

my Missy D

Thursday, August 27, 2009

miss winnie dixon this week at our big rock a stop along our morning walk

she listens to my woes
she laughs at all my jokes
she sits patiently and waits while I stop to investigate something
a shell, a worn piece of beach glass an insect or a piece of bone
when I stop to take photographs she sits quietly just looking around
she's looking for muskrats, groundhogs or cats that don't belong to her
she is a terrier girl with a bit of sight hound thrown in
she's on a leash often because of this - if she spied a small moving mammal
she'd be off, gone like a shot and there would be no calling her back
and I couldn't bare to lose her - so I keep her close by me
she's 10, she'll be 11 in January - how can that be - it seems like only yesterday
she came to live with us when she was 1, from the shelter
she loved Jake & Em instantly, they became her pack - she fit right in
it seems to me like she's always been here
I can't remember what my life might have been like without her
we've said some big goodbyes, she and I and we've lived through big sadness
she loves to keep me company in the car when I do errands
again she sits patiently waiting, keeping the car safe and keeping my seat warm
she sleeps in a bed under my desk while I work
and she lays curled at my feet on my bed while I sleep
she loves to just sit on the grassy hill overlooking the harbour
each evening we both stare up at the clouds racing across a blue sky
above the glistening water
I lie down and she lies down beside me and I hold her paw in my hand
and we just lie there, the breeze blowing over us and nothing
in the world seems to matter
I put my face in her fur and I breathe in and I try to burn these memories in
how she smells, the funny little groaning noises she makes if I scratch her just so
into me - I try to burn her into my heart so I'll always have her ... with me
and I tell her how much I love her over and over again

and I wish we could stay there, like that - forever.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

sweet Oliver

Someone else was very thrilled to have overnight visitors. The 29 Black Street concierge. Mr. Social, Mr. Whatcha doin' and can I help ? Mr. big red dog disguised as a tabby and white cat, a cat with a personality as big and as rich as all get out, with fur as soft as can be and a cat who always smells just like fresh laundry - sweetest Oliver. Always smack in the thick of each and every small event, attempting to encourage a rousing round of parkour (or was he just showing off for company ?) or just hangin' out with the gang while we all gathered round the teak topped desk a fixin' up and efficient-izing all my mac stuff. Hey ! I'm just a dude hangin' with ma boys he seemed to say. Meanwhile the scaredy cats Gussie and Bleet were nowhere to be seen the entire time- hiding out in their pillowed baskets deep in the recesses of our crawlspace - their special oh oh company's-here spot.

Oliver hopes that M. Millie with the black nose (his true love) might read this post.

baby Oliver - 3 years ago and pre blog days

big love

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

crows along the harbour's edge last night

We are put on earth for a little space,
that we may learn to bear the beams of love

William Blake

After the boy's left around 3pm, I worked a two hour fill-in shift at the little gift & decor store, back home again at 5pm to mad, mad kisses and sweet spins from Miss D who acts like I've been gone for days. I look at her and say Hey ! Missy D, do ya? (her most favourite words) and she always answers me Yes !! (no matter what I ask). I grabbed my camera and out we went into the calm, still air, as warm as the tropics and we walked along our evening path on our way to the crescent shaped beach. The harbour last night, again like glass and filled with birds.

I had a perfect visit with Michael & Jordan. For breakfast I fed them Belgian waffles with warm maple syrup and stacks of thick cut bacon. Michael's always been my own personal apple genuis bar, whenever he visits he fixes up things on my computer - this time on my big beautiful imac - things that have been bugging me for ages. He seems to know everything. We do keep in touch very regularly by phone, ichat or skype but it was so nice to have him here, sitting in this old brick house. And we talked and we talked and talked and I kept looking at Michael concentrating, taking him in - this grown up young man who I don't see often, trying to savour all the little bit's and pieces of him to tuck away and save for those times ahead when I won't see him for long stretches of time. I love him so much, and it's that kind of love that feels so big that it might just burst right out of you.
I wonder sometimes how parents can survive such a big love.

I'm so happy that he stopped to visit with us.

sable island

Monday, August 24, 2009

wild horses of sable island - Roberto Dutesco

To say that I am a curious person would be, I think, quite an understatement.

Yesterday while working at the TTD and listening to the day long coverage of hurricane Bill's arrival (and awaiting the evening arrival of my nephew Michael and friend) Sable Island was mentioned many times because of it's various meteorological and marine ocean monitoring stations. Sable Island is a crescent shaped spit of sand 160kms off of the coast of Nova Scotia a speck of land out in the wide open ocean where storms loom largest. It's most famous for it's hundreds of shipwrecks the earliest from the 1500's and for it's herd of 300 or so wild horses.

sable island

Manned weather stations on the island yesterday were reporting winds of over 100kms and wave buoys nearby measured waves at 23 meters - not 23 feet 23 meters ! (that's 75 ft) almost impossible to fathom. Needless to say, fathom I tried - as I sat drawing historic reproductions with my favourite red mechanical pencil I began dreaming and wondering to myself ... what would life be like on that sliver of an Island and especially during such a wild and wicked storm. Thankfully a curious girl need not wonder long these days ... what with Google, the internet and the Nova Scotia online library system, that darn ol' www - for the very curious of mind it's an absolutely wonderful, can't imagine my life without it, thing. Yesterday I ordered this book and this book about the island, it's history and horses from my library system.

A detailed map of the Island and another, and wow! a map of known shipwrecks

Those boys arrived for dinner around 11pm - yikes. Didn't they know that's about 4 hours past Mama's bedtime. I knew they were traveling behind schedule from scattered dutiful calls from the road from much loved nephew Michael. We had pizza and chatter near midnight and now at 7:30 am (I slept in - well ... I had to) they're still sleeping soundly. It's pouring rain here this morning and hurricane Bill missed us almost completely. Must take Miss D for a walk in the rain and think about what I'll feed those sweet boys for breakfast.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

zinnias from my garden - polaroid - much like a painting

a painting of light

Well the outer edges of hurricane Bill should be arriving here in a few hours. At the moment it's still dark, I just poured my coffee. The air outside our open windows is as still as can be and all we can hear is the late August chorus of crickets. It's hard to imagine that there's wild weather on the way.

My nephew Michael is arriving later today with a friend to spend the night. He goes to university in Newfoundland and I don't see him often so I'm thrilled. They're on an in between semesters road trip, racing ahead of the hurricane. I'll make a big homemade pizza - his favourite. I can't wait to see him and I have lots of Auntie preparations to do (mostly food related of course) before their arrival.

Love ! the Mad Men opening credits and theme music - here

Winn and I are just back from our early morning walk and we noticed that this big beautiful boat is tucked into our little harbour behind the big cement wharf waiting out the hurricane. It's just begun to rain, we need rain it's been hot and sunny for days and days. The harbour this morning was like glass not a whiff of wind ... yet.

I've heard this beautiful Joni Mitchell song several times this week, I especially love this version with James Taylor playing guitar and you know, well ... I could just drink a big ol' case of that big red dog. I miss him, every single day.

summer's checklist

Saturday, August 22, 2009

uh huh ! fried clams, a couple of scallops and a shrimp

my doggy bag, or my doggy take out container.

I live by the ocean, in the land of seafood, the land of fish & chips and fried clams and lobster rolls. Each year I have a little summer to-do list in my head and much of it has to do with food. Seasonal summer food.

eat at least 1 lobster roll - check
put my bathing suit on and go into the water at least 3 times - check
eat fried clams at least once - check
spark up the little red charcoal grill a few times - check
make strawberry shortcake at least once - check
buy a flat of blueberries (freeze some, eat some)
wear a hat, sunglasses and SPF 30+ when out in the noon day sun - check
cherries, cherries, cherries - check
buy a least one basket of peaches- slice, think of Jake and eat like candy
make this fruit chili sauce - thanks A - the world's best condiment !

Yesterday I had lunch out with a friend and we went to one of the few (and seasonal) restaurants we have in and around this little village. This particular restaurant is most famous for it's unwavering consistency and menu of tried and true standbys- the club house sandwich (platter), the hot turkey sandwich, lobster rolls, fish and chips, fat fried Five Islands clams and breaded Digby scallops. I'd been thinking about and craving fried clams and I knew if I was going to scratch that item off of my list, yesterday would be the day. Well I did something crazy, something wildly extravagant - something frugal girl (who would normally order the homemade turkey soup at this particular restaurant) would never do - I ordered the seafood platter, no fries a heap of coleslaw instead - 1 piece of battered haddock, a handful of breaded scallops, another of breaded shrimp and a mound of lightly battered, crispy whole fried clams - a few wedges of lemon and a small vat of tartar sauce. It was heavenly - I think the only way it could have been better, more delicious, was if it was eaten from a take out cardboard box, with a little wooden fork sitting at a picnic table beside the sea. Like I've done at this favourite place.

I'm working on another project very similar to this one here at the TTD*
I've just begun watching Mad Men - oh my, goodness that Don Draper - swoon
Bill's on his way and due to arrive sometime tomorrow track him here.
I've only recently discovered 30 Rock (way behind the times) Alec B you Rock !

to my Aunt Sally I wish I could Fed Ex you a platter of crispy hot Five Islands fried clams as I know this post will be tough for you to read far away in inland Canada. My, my ... there is a lot O' crashin' and bangin' and squealin' and peelin' sounds coming from the first floor - kitten parkour anyone ?

* teak topped desk

dinner companions

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oliver, Gus and stacks and stacks of old (& current) cooking magazines

My usual dinner companions - flipping through my stacks of old and much coveted cooking magazines while sitting at my little round black table, which came from my other grandmother - Blanche's house. I'll drag out my old issues of Gourmet, Bon App├ętit, Donna Hay & Vogue Australia Entertaining and sit enjoying my evening meal dreaming and scheming future meals. Lots of people say, including Peter - Susan, you can let go of those stacks and stacks of magazines there's epicurious.com - you can find anything there, any recipe. Yes that's the true but with epicurious.com (home of both Bon Appetite & Gourmet) you need to be looking and you have to know what it is you're looking for, if you're ever going to find it. The thing I like, the thing I love. LOVE, love, love about my big old stack of magazines is flipping the pages and seeing and being inspired by the ideas presented and the photography, oh my the photography - especially the photography in Gourmet of late, the feature stories as if you turned a page and happened upon someone's casual dinner party and often in some exotic far away land - all the realness - the rough edges included, natural light - and always staged to look completely unstaged that darn Miss R. Reichl she is a genius and then by contrast, the simple stark, less is more beauty of the images in the Donna Hay issues. Sigh.

I often haul them out by season -this time of year I'll look through all the July's & August's and see what's happening with summer fruit, with berries or garden tomatoes and fresh corn.

Hi, I'm Susan Black and I'm a magazine junkie and have been since my first seventeen magazine at about age 13. Oh, I've tried online subscriptions - it's just not the same. Many of the issues you now see piled on my dining room table had been slated for give away. They had been neatly squired away in the sun porch waiting to be driven to goodwill, sold in a yard sale (although that doesn't appear to be happening - those 7 mute invisible valets of mine, who had plans to host the sale have gone on a summer long cruise up the west coast and to Alaska) ... or some other similar fate. But now each evening slowly, slowly I've been grabbing 5 or 6 at a time and bringing them inside, into the inner sanctum. I flip through them while I have my dinner and I've been loving it. It always feels like I've never looked at them before - like they are brand new. That's either a fading memory thing or perhaps it's because I have such a large and varied collection and of course things change, you change, your thoughts change, your tastes change ... each night I think to myself, as I flip through many pages with delight - these babies aren't goin' anywhere. But don't tell Peter.

It's just me - les chats (and No ! of course I don't allow them on the table - while I'm eating), CBC radio - the world at 6 & as it happens (two more favourite shows) and my big, huge pile of cooking magazines - while I enjoy my evening meals.

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad

6 large *roasted beets - sliced
the zest from one orange
2 oranges cut into segments - supremed (with juice)
1/2 a small sweet onion finely sliced
a handful of fresh mint rough chopped
a drizzle of olive oil
a drizzle of cider vinegar
salt & pepper

toss together and let marinate 30 mins minimum before serving.

* rub beets with olive oil, skins on and roast in a hot oven 400 until soft enough to be pierced with a knife - or grill on the BBQ.

brand new

Thursday, August 20, 2009

cosmos - historic meaning - peaceful

this is love:
to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First to let go of life.
Finally, to take a step without feet.

Rumi - Persian poet & mystic 13the century

Mostly crickets this early morning, I love their chorus. The gulls off in the distance. Bubbles pouring and a boat slowly leaving the harbour. The first golden light has just appeared. The days keep coming at me and I must begin to greet them as if they really are brand new.

a new favourite song
merci cbc.ca/q - stuck on replay in my summertime mind Rural Alberta Advantage

another magical place

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Miss Winnie Dixon relaxing on the grassy hill ...

The grassy hill that overlooks the harbour, is a spot that Miss D and I sit each night and lately, just after we've had a lovely long dip in the ocean. Around 6pm we leave this old brick house to go for our regular walk, but these last few days I put my bathing suit on and I carry our beach bag with us. After we've walked through the park and up onto the grassy hill, we climb down and over a few big rocks and onto the small curve of sandy beach that has become our secret little cove. We wade around in water as warm as a bath, so warm these past few days it's barely refreshing at all. We've been having a heat wave, it's been hot and humid, sunny and blue skies day after day. It's summer's best - August is - always.

We walk out into the water on bars of red sand, just deep enough that I can float and Winnie can easily touch . The water is crystal clear and the bottom like a freeway for hermit crabs, they're everywhere - zooming around, some teeny tiny, and others just plain small racing around in their little mobile homes. We're always very careful where we step. After we've lolled around in the warm salt water for a good while we climb back up the rocks and out of our secret private place and up onto the green grassy hill, just near the giant poplar trees who's leaves constant rustling sounds like music to me. The hill that's edged with wildflowers of every kind and those wildflowers are filled with insects ... of every kind.

Another magical place we love to be. Last night there was a warm breeze blowing in from the harbour and Winn and I stayed a long time, drying in the sun and the wind on our grassy hill, watching the boats come and go and chatting away.
I love her.

yup, you guessed it - a video clip of our grassy hill

the grassy hill from susan black on Vimeo.

oh ! oh !!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

crescent beach from susan black on Vimeo.

oh oh ! look out she's recently remembered the video function on her camera, and vimeo makes it all so easy. Stay tuned for more tres exciting 29 Black Street events and happenings caught on video - Oliver's high speed parkour trials, intense kitten mutual grooming, Bleet as he ponders the big questions in life from his spot on our front porch and lots, lots more of Missy D. .... maybe I'll even give you a tour of the jungle - I mean home and garden tour.

I know the quality's not great (I'm not using a video camera it's just the video function on my existing digital camera) and please forgive the choppy camera work I need to practice.

This is where Winnie D and I sit each morning a half way spot on our walk. The sun's just up and we sit on our big rock, gaze out into the straight, look at each other and smile and I say Hey Missy D it's another brand new day !

* I watched Rachel Getting Married the other night - a haunting & beautiful movie (my favourite kind ) and the most perfect & lovely wedding ever ...

more Rumi

Monday, August 17, 2009

not sure what these are called but they grow by the edge of the sea

Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept
what troubles you've been given,
the door will open


Rumi tells us that the moment we accept the troubles we've been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative ploy save the one that actually works. If you're interested in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment–your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrows. Face your embarrassments at being human, and you'll uncover a deep well of passion and compassion. It's great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and you both can walk through the open door.

Broken Open - How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow - Elizabeth Lesser

This blog of mine, more than any other part of my world - helps me open that door

When They Revolutionize Cocktail Parties - Marilyn Sandberg

"Hello, what are you afraid of ?"
"Me too"
"When you hear a Mahler symphony ?"
No, when I wake up in the night."
"Me too."
"Nice meeting you."
"Same here."

especially for MLou ... who bravely attends many a cocktail party ...

clafouti on my mind

Sunday, August 16, 2009

it's cherry season

I can hear waves hitting the rocks along the harbour's edge this morning. And the flags in the park flapping hard in the warm wind coming off the water. The sounds of the waves, the wind, the gulls and the constant August hum of crickets and that warm breeze tis blowing through this old brick house - I love this time of day, the peace and the quiet. It's now still very dark at 5:30 am, those darn seasons they just keep on changing before our very eyes. Early morning is when I always feel full of hope and promise.

A favourite past time of mine, especially when I have a kazillion other far more important and necessary things I should, must or need to be doing is to totally ignore that big pile of things and cook instead. Cooking has always been a comfort to me, it's not even the eating part at the end of it all - it is simple the joy of cooking. I had a pound of fresh cherries* in the fridge, eggs, milk, sugar, butter and clafouti on my mind.

Have you been noticing the abundance of clafouti recipes popping up everywhere around the blogosphere. Here & here also here and here.

I used this recipe from the joy of baking - melt a small amount of butter in an oven proof shallow casserole in a 425 oven for 1 min. Swish the melted butter all around the dish and up the sides and then add the cherries and 2 tbsps of sugar, back in the oven while the fruit begins to cook and caramelize for 2 -3 mins. more. Bring the casserole or quiche dish out of the oven and pour the batter, which you've just whipped up in a blender - basically a crepe batter, over and around all the hot bubbly caramel fruit and back into the hot oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar. In a perfect world I would serve this with a dollop of whipped cream because I believe every dessert is better with a dollop of whipped cream.

* after halving and pitting my cherries I tossed them with 1/2 tsp almond extract and 1 heaping tsp of finely grated lemon zest.

The possibilities of fruit substitutions are endless - blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, apples, plums, pears, figs with freshly grated ginger. I was even dreaming up savoury versions with sauteed mushrooms, chunks of pan crisped ham, green onions and grated Gruyere cheese.

I would definitely say that this simple recipe counts as Child's Play - this week's Dim Sum Sunday theme over at The Karmic Kitchen