Q+A with Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton – self portrait.

Kate Beaton hardly needs introduction, but in case you’ve been living under a rock lately, she’s a brilliant and witty Canadian cartoonist who recently won a Doug Wright Award for her book “Hark! A Vagrant,” which is based on her popular web comic of the same name.

1. What’s your age?

I’m 28!

2. CB born and raised? Or transplant? (Plus whatever biographical details you feel like giving.)

I was born in Inverness County, yes. I grew up in Mabou, where I think the phone book section is about a third Beaton. When I left for university, I took history, and I worked in museums (starting with An Drochaid in Mabou, as a student). I also worked in Fort McMurray for two years, paying off the student debt. The comics started as a hobby, and grew through word of mouth until I had an audience large enough to support me as an artist. It’s worked out well, and I’ve been lucky.

3. “What are you up to these days?” I.e. what do you do for a living, what are you working on, are you a student, in the workforce, etc?

I’m a cartoonist and illustrator, and I live in Toronto. I’m most known for comics, but I branch out with freelance jobs as well.

4. What are the things you do whenever you come back to Cape Breton, that are “must dos”?

If you’re asking my mom, and you’re staying at her house (which I do) the answer is “go to church,” and someday she will probably get the Catholic Merit Award from the Vatican for making sure that happens. She’s a good lady, my mother. Beyond that, in a community as small and tight knit as mine, it’s enough to just be there, and maybe say hello to a few folks at the (only) store (in town).

Her photo self is much prettier than her portrait self, don’t you think?

5. What is a typical day in the life for you?

It’s different every day! But my best work hours are early afternoon, so I try to make sure I’m set up to do the real creative bits then, and clerical stuff for early morning/evening.

6. When you’re travelling and you chat with people about Cape Breton, what is their reaction or response?

Sometimes they think I say “Quebec” when I say “Cape Breton,” which makes me think either they’ve never heard of the place or my accent turns words into chowder in my mouth. Most often though, if they’ve heard of the place or been there, they think it’s beautiful, and say wow, aren’t you lucky, like it’s odd to meet a person from just around the corner from the Cabot Trail that once dazzled them. And we are lucky! I am talking of course about people I meet from the Canadian West and US and beyond, no one I’ve met from Fredericton particularly impressed or surprised.

7. Do you see yourself ever living in Cape Breton again? If you do want to live here again, pretend for a minute that you have a magic wand and could change anything about the island to make it so that you would be able to live here. What would those changes be? (f you don’t want to live in Cape Breton again, is there a specific reason why not, or is it just because you’re happier elsewhere?)

Wouldn’t we all want to live there again? But I’ve said it before: you leave, and you’ve lost your home. Or you stay, and you watch everyone else leave. I don’t know the answer, I probably never will.

West Mabou Beach – a photo I took in September 2009.

8. Swimming in Cape Breton – ocean or river?

Ocean! There’s rivers?

9. You worked “out west” for a time. What was that like? What has it helped you to understand about Cape Breton and people who have to work out west?

Fort McMurray was not easy. It’s a difficult place in many ways, it’s cold, the work hours are long, it takes a lot out of you. I think the rest of Cape Breton was there too, when I was there- there’s really not too many families Fort McMurray hasn’t touched these days. I know some people living quite well in Calgary and Edmonton, so I can’t speak to that, but I was in the camps at the oil sands, part of the ‘shadow population’ in that area, and I saw a lot of.. things I wish didn’t have to be that way. But the money’s good, and there’s no wonder why people go, and there are those who have built very nice lives for themselves and their families. People go because it’s there to go to, and they’re willing to work hard. I have a lot of thoughts about Fort McMurray, if I’m lucky, I can get them out one day.

10. There is an old storytelling tradition on Cape Breton. Do you ever think of what you do – web comics and drawing – as a modern version of that? Do you think people “need” stories?

I don’t know if people ‘need’ stories as much as storytellers need to tell them, that is, if a storyteller does a public service by doing what they do, they almost can’t help themselves anyway. You want to make music because you need to, you want to create because you have to, it’s who you are. But it’s important too, it’s the bare bones of culture. It’s not like there were cartoonists in the old days, but what I do is still, at its core, storytelling. I don’t know if I consider myself part of the tradition, but I guess if I do, it’s because I feel the need to represent Cape Breton in my work.

To read more Q+As on this blog, click here!

Also: Exciting news! Kate Beaton will be one of our three headlining authors at the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, which takes place on September 28-30, 2012, in the beautiful small community of North River, near St. Ann’s Bay. (The other authors are Stephen Kimber and Wayne Johnston.)

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My trip to Banff, last week

The trip to Banff – was incredible. I started out in Sydney, catching a 6:30 flight out.

I love that airports have Wifi now, so layovers have gotten a lot more interesting. I got to read emails and my fave blogs that post daily.

The trip was an amazing opportunity, and it seems to have come along at just the right moment. I met other directors of literary festivals from across the country – big festivals like the Vancouver International Writers Festival (6 days, budget over one million dollars, 150+ authors) and other little ones like Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, which takes place in a couple of backyards bordering a river. Networking was easy because all I wanted to do was talk to these folks, pick their brains, chat about experiences, and learn about each others’ festivals.

The Banff Centre was stunning – and that’s not hyperbole, I felt slightly stunned the entire time I was there. Blown away by the beauty all around and above us, and thrown for a loop by the warm welcome I felt from the centre – which, as I kept saying to people, felt like Heaven. Absolute heaven. Great food, great company, and some solitude too – I would love to return there to do a retreat someday.

So, after a couple more quick flights Eastward, I’m back in Cape Breton. (And I must give a shout-out to my seatmates Lisa and Corette, on the fun and zany flight from Toronto back to Sydney – hope you ladies had a fun weekend with your families!)

And now I’m back to work! It’s getting busy at the marina; people are starting to think about getting their boats in the water. The store is pretty much all back together, and just in time – I think this lovely weather means summer might just be here…

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What I’ve learned in the last four months

So I think this is a good time to do a bit of an update on how this project is going for me, so far.

In a word: awesome!!!!

(In case you’re a new reader and you want some background, you can check out this post from the beginning of the project, and this one from somewhere around month two.)

So, where are we at? Well, it’s been four months since I started this blog. The Facebook group that accompanies the blog and supports it (and which is also used by people to share information about stuff they’re up to) is only two months older than the blog.

Since January of this year, when the blog started, I have found that it has picked up momentum quickly, and I think that’s down to:

  • the modern magic of social media (people can share info with each other across great physical distances, very quickly!)
  • my own hard work and persistence (when I love a subject, I’m like a dog with a bone)
  • other people’s enthusiasm for Cape Breton (it’s a fantastic subject – so much material!)

So as I type this, it’s nearing the end of May 2012. Looking back at Dream Big Cape Breton so far, this is what I’ve learned.

Just do it. Just start it. Whatever your project is. You have to start somewhere.

This is advice that all creatives hear a lot, but that’s because it’s true. You can sit around planning something for a long time, filling notebooks with ideas and doing your homework, but the part where you strike the match, so to speak, is when you take a risk and give it a try.

And that’s the part that makes all the difference. So just do it. Because you can plan forever and still not know exactly how something will turn out – that’s the mystery factor. Only by doing it, trying it, will you learn, and grow, and make it even better.

Honestly, I had no idea how things were going to go – people could have hated it! But I took a risk, started the darn blog, and wrote some posts. I approached some people to sit down and chat with me. And when I look back on the last three months, they were amazing and my risks paid off. I’ve done two speaking engagements, written some print articles, and been profiled for another publication (yet to be published – I’ll share when it is). But from here, looking toward the future? I have no idea how things will go! But, I’m gonna keep on doing this anyway.

Planning and organization are important too. (But don’t get caught up in other people’s systems. Your system is tailored to you.)

I’m not a dayplanner sort of person. I need to see the whole month at a glance. So I use a free 12-month wall calendar that my Credit Union gives out every year. It’s too wide for my liking so I used the paper cutter at the marina where I work, to chop part of it off (the part with ads and filler info about credit unions, not the actual calendar itself). I fold it over each month. I write in pen and then scratch things out. Sometimes I use whiteout. Sometimes I don’t. Each used-up month ends up looking pretty messy and full of ink scratches, but that’s OK. The system works for me.

If I have a day that’s going to be busy, I will take a separate piece of paper and write out that day on it, loosely sketched, so I can keep the various events organized and make sure I leave enough time for stuff.

For the blog, I’m still working on an ideal method of organization, but I’m beginning to suspect there isn’t one. At the moment I’ve got notebooks that I fill with ideas. I did try and plan out the blog posts to the day of the week, but that didn’t really work out well – life happened. I wouldn’t have time to write on Tuesday, so there goes my plan – I’ve got to bump Wednesday’s post behind, etc. So now I allow myself more freedom – I post what I want, when I want to, more or less.

My hunch – that there IS a lot of stuff happening here – paid off.

There is so much material on Cape Breton island for me to write about, I have enough to last me til I’m sixty years old!

The problem with Cape Breton is the size of it. It’s pretty big. People in Bay St Lawrence can’t easily grab coffee or meet up with people in Baddeck, Sydney, Gabarus, or wherever. From the middle of the island, where I live, it takes roughly 3 hours to drive to the outermost towns in any direction. So it’s hard to get a sense of what’s happening in other communities, and most humans tend to make assumptions, like “If I haven’t heard about it, it’s not happening.”

But through this blog and the Facebook group, and through behind-the-scenes projects that I’ve been invited to participate in, like focus groups, I am starting to see a bigger picture of the island, and see that there actually are quite a lot of motivated, energetic, bright and friendly people working on important issues. Issues like gay rights, or local food, or poverty, or mental health. There are people moving here, there are people staying here and starting businesses. I hope you’re able to see what I’m seeing – this bigger picture. Connecting the dots.

In activism or just in plain old conversation, we talk about the need for “building community.” But I think a better metaphor is “renovating community”.

Our community is already here. It’s an old house. It’s got good bones. It’s had a lot of memories. But it’s storm battered and maybe there are termites chewing at the foundations. It needs work. But given that work, the house could shine, show off its history, and yet use modern technology to provide future folks with a great place to call home.

I don’t know if it’s just me being territorial or what, but often people who talk about “community building” get my back up (maybe because they tend to have moved here from away). I tend to feel defensive, like “what, the community that IS here isn’t good enough?”

Or maybe I’m just too literal about the “building” metaphor and I need to relax. Maybe!

Anyway, this reaction of mine to that metaphor teaches me to try and see what is already here. See the people who are already working on the issues that interest you. Don’t reinvent the wheel, support them, join forces with them.

I write a lot of emails, and messages on Facebook. A lot of the time I’m writing the same thing – asking someone if I can do an interview or Q+A with them, or telling them about my blog. So I have a file on my computer desktop with a number of form letters in it. Copy, paste, then tweak with appropriate details. Efficiency fascinates me – the ways we can learn how to do things better. I’m not always the best at actually being efficient, but I do enjoy it.

Facebook is great – for sending quick messages, for collecting names and disseminating information quickly. For sharing content with like-minded people. But, not everyone uses Facebook. A lot of older people don’t, and a surprising number of younger people aren’t interested in it either, or just don’t use it as often as, say, I do (I check it once an hour, on average).

So community organizers need to remember that there are a lot of other ways to get the word out. And, human beings are still way better at communicating when they’re looking at another person’s face in real time, than they are at any other way of communicating. We still trust it the most. We probably always will. So, making a contact in person, being able to shake their hand, look them in the eyes, smile, share a meal, is worth more than connecting with someone on Facebook.

But Facebook has its uses, too. I accept that now, and embrace it.

I get easily frustrated. I want to change the whole world. I wish it could happen now. I see a huge, broken system and I have big dreams about what our sustainable life could look like. But what steps are between here and there? There are far too many to accomplish in a short period of time. So we need to break it down.

My boyfriend Adam taught me a great metaphor (especially for someone who says he’s not creative) – that of a jigsaw puzzle. Your vision or your big dreams are the whole puzzle. But you don’t even have all the pieces yet. The pieces are things yet to be discovered. They are things like – a farm that hasn’t been started yet. The relationships with key people that you haven’t made yet. So you’ve got to start by collecting pieces. Don’t beat yourself up about the puzzle being finished, just work on finding those pieces.

Know your limits and allow yourself to be human (don’t take on too much, and work on saying NO).

Again, I get easily frustrated and I mentally bite off more than I can chew. Then I get upset when I have to pare things back. This is a lesson I learn over and over and over again. Each time it comes around again I have to laugh at myself. “Oh, not this lesson again!?!” But it does get easier. I do learn. When I’m scheduling things, I’m learning to leave big white spaces in my calendar and not put anything in them.

Cape Bretoners are almost ridiculously proud of this island.

“We are an island, a rock in the sea.” And we are all those sea shanties and melancholy songs of loss and leaving. But if WE are this place, and we want to figure out what our future is, then it stands to reason to ask… what is this place, anyway?

I inadvertently ask myself this every day, since starting this blog.

Here’s why: because I am interviewing people from so many different walks of life, I have to mentally put myself in their shoes, so I can ask pertinent questions. So I try and see Cape Breton from their eyes. And the view changes depending on who is looking! A person who has five generations of Scottish roots going back, sees Cape Breton differently than someone who just moved here from, say, BC, or India.

The only thing that really remains true to everyone is that it’s an island. And then the history: first it was the home of the First Nations, then it was a colony, and then its own province (kind of, sort of), and then it was annexed to Nova Scotia. And, it’s almost too big to really be a cohesive community on its own (like, say, your hometown is, or Fogo Island is). But, it’s got an identity, all right. Some folks I’ve talked to say they identify as Cape Bretoners first, then Canadians. I know I do!

I do find myself asking if we are actually that different from the mainland.

For example, we’re friendly, so are they. We’ve got out-migration, so do they. Parts of the Nova Scotia mainland have the same historical mix of settlers (Scottish Highlands, French acadian, English). And when you take a photograph of a scene in Cape Breton, it could easily pass for anywhere else in the Maritimes. (Except for the big famous landmarks like the Highlands or the Causeway.)

And if the island of Cape Breton isn’t actually physically, geographically, historically, all that different from the neighbouring lands, then what we have is an IDEA of a place. You know, Cape Breton as the ‘land outside of time’, or as being crazy beautiful, or of our important history.

But I think it’s time for us to really consider what that idea is. Is it true? Do you *have* to live here? Do you *have* to move away? Is Cape Breton actually different from anywhere else in the world?

Like my friend Daniel Harris said, “Cape Breton’s physical geography and culture are unique and beautiful, and I feel plenty of nostalgia for both. But the world is bursting with other unique and beautiful places.”

I don’t have a yes-or-no answer to any of this, by the way. But it’s what’s been filling my brain these past four months. And what will no doubt fill it for many months to come!

As always, thanks SO MUCH for your support: for sharing my blog with your own networks, for writing Q+As for me, and of course for reading, and leaving comments. Having you there to write to means a lot to me – in fact, it means everything!

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Q+A with Jay McNeil

Jay McNeil is the News Director for Newcap Radio in Cape Breton, which owns 101.9 The Giant (top 40 hits) and 103.5 The Eagle (country music). He cohosts The Early Show on The Eagle (weekdays 6AM-9AM).

If you would like to read more Q+As with young Cape Bretoners, click here!

Jay McNeil.

1. What’s your age?

I’ll be thirty this year and I have to say it doesn’t feel as old as it sounded to me when I was 16.

2. CB born and raised? Or recent transplant?

I was raised in Glace Bay by parents from Sydney and Reserve Mines. My mother grew up in Ashby, the oldest of seven belonging to a firefighter and housekeeper. My Dad was one of twenty children born to his parents. His father was a miner and his mother was a true Scottish immigrant. She had in her all the character that that brings. My grandparents and my father are now passed but are still very much a part of my life in Cape Breton.

3. “What are you up to these days?” I.e. what do you do for a living, what are you working on, are you a student, in the workforce, etc?

I’m the News Director and Early Show co-host on 103.5 The Eagle. I lead the most energetic and ambitious newsroom on the island. I am lucky to work with some of my mentors every day. I grew up listening to Jay Bedford and now I’m his co-host! That’s a surreal thought every now and then.

I also have a small online documentary project called Say Something Webdocs. In the last year we’ve done three local projects I’m really proud of: One on mental health, one on crime in Glace Bay, and the most recent on the drug issue and what it meant for one local mother.

I also work with some great community organizations including The Relay for Life and Safer Communities Association. I’m a political junkie who’s been known to take aim at CBRM council from time to time. I’m also currently the subject of “Big Deal’s Weight Loss Challenge” – a year-long project to reclaim my health after reaching 460 pounds. In other words, my days are full and that keeps me out of trouble.

4. What are your favorite Cape Breton eateries?

Am I allowed to say my mother’s table? Seriously though, I’m glad that we’re starting to see some diversity in our restaurants. I think it’s a real sign of progress. Especially when you talk to the owners and you hear the backbone of their business is coming from a demographic that we’re told doesn’t live here anymore; twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings that are making a go of it here in Cape Breton are having an impact by showing they’re open to more and they expect more. All that said – I find something really enticing about Trio at the Cambridge Suites.

He’s learned a few things about holding a camera since this picture was taken…

5. What is your favourite thing to do outside?

I grew up playing baseball and one of the things I’m most looking forward to as I go through Big Deal’s Weight Loss Challenge is getting back outside and being active. Right now my favorite thing to do outside is take pictures. I’m a hobby photographer. I really enjoy it and you can’t have a better playground than here in Cape Breton.

6. Favorite Cape Breton music venues, past and present?

I’m a Bay Boy and The Savoy takes the top honors! Growing up the theatre had such a sense of history about it. Walking in the old entrance off Union Street was like stepping back in time. I ran a community newspaper in Glace Bay for five years and for most of that time my office was in the basement of The Savoy. I don’t just love it as a venue, but as an institution in the town. There are so many stories and people connected with that place who help keep it going, and in all of my time there, and every big act that came to town, there wasn’t one that didn’t notice that things have a way of coming together on that stage like no other. And I can tell you, there is nothing quite like standing on that stage in front of a packed house. You are hit with almost ninety years of history.

7. What have you learned about Cape Breton from your work on the radio?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned since I first started on local radio eight years ago – especially in news – is that there is no “normal” Cape Breton life these days. Everyone has a story that deserves to be heard. We all live differently now. We don’t have the sense of common purpose we had when entire neighbourhoods and towns survived off “the plant” or “the pit”. We have people living very different lives and it’s becoming harder to relate to neighbours, and harder to recognize their struggles. My job has shown me that and it’s an important lesson, especially when you have to connect with as many people through work as I do.

8. Are you planning on sticking around in CB? Why, or why not?

I work in a business where success is usually rewarded by advancing to a larger market. I’ve had the opportunity. I’ve moved away before for jobs I dreamed of having only to realize I’m always going to feel like I have unfinished business on this Island. I respect those who leave for opportunity or by choice. I worry about those who leave because they feel they have no choice. I don’t think I’m going to be the guy to solve all of our issues, but I know I’m not going to be comfortable somewhere else knowing I’m not trying. That’s a luxury I have because of the opportunities I have here. I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky and that motivates me every day.

9. Dream big – what would you love to have access to in your community?

I’m going to sound like a complete nerd, but Glace Bay no longer has a locally-owned coffee house. If I could somehow get the owners of Wentworth Perk to open up Renwick Perk, I’d be set.

10. Finish this sentence: Being from Cape Breton, to me, means…

That this place will always own a piece of me as long I claim to own a piece of it. It’s a pretty good trade.

Photo: Jay McNeil

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Banff!

The view from my room at the Banff Centre:

See, volunteering for stuff in your own community DOES pay off!

(I’m here because I am a volunteer director, one of five, for the Cabot Trail Writers Festival, and I’m about to take part in a meeting about literary festivals.)

Now I’m off to find the wine bar they say is here…

Rough life!

Back with more soon-ish.

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Erin the Librarian – Beer Gardens

Erin Phillips

The books reviewed here are available through the Cape Breton Regional Library.

Grains are one of those things backyard gardeners tend to avoid.

I know when I think of grains I tend to think of massive wheat farms in Saskatchewan. But those of us concerned with food security, or the dangers of genetically-modified crops might want to consider adding a little grain to our garden. So is it possible to grow wheat, oats and barley on a small scale? I checked out Homegrown Whole Grains: Grow, Harvest, and Cook Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rice, Corn and More by Sara Pitzer to find out.

This book was originally published back in 1981 as Whole Grains: Grow, Harvest & Cook Your Own. The previous edition was more geared towards the back-to-the-landers of the time, whom Pitzer admits were often overly ambitious in their aim for complete self-sufficiency. This revised edition speaks to today’s gardeners, most of whom aim to have a “manageable sized vegetable garden with a patch of grain.”

The directions for growing and the estimated yields are based on 100 sq. ft. plantings of the grains, which I agree sounds pretty manageable. What’s more, although it is a lot of work, it might be worth it to grow your own grains. With experience, Pitzer estimates that one could yield 26 lbs. of grain from 100 sq. ft., providing 90 cups of flour and enough bread for half a year!

I learned a lot as I skimmed through this book, which covers how to grow, harvest, thresh and store the following grains: barley, buckwheat, corn, heirloom grains (including: Amaranth, Quinoa, Spelt, emmer farro, and einkorn), millet, oats, rice, rye and wheat.

Of the grains I read about it seemed like oats would be one of the easiest to grow in Cape Breton and quinoa would grow but might grow more leaf than seed in our wet summers. I also enjoyed reading about rice, which has always been a huge mystery to me. Unless global warming grants Cape Breton 3-6 months of temperatures above 70°F though, I don’t think we’ll be growing rice here any time soon.

If you are interested in growing grains this is an excellent book to look at. Pitzer clearly explains each step of the grain growing and harvesting process and includes great illustrations for techniques such as threshing and winnowing. Each grain is given its own section which is headed by a fact box giving the botanical name of the plant, growing conditions, days to harvest, and whether or not it contains gluten. Pitzer also gives a couple recipes for cooking with each grain. Throughout the book she profiles some grain farms. One of these profiles was on Hungry Ghost Bread, a bakery that is involving its customers in a community wheat growing experiment!

(http://www.hungryghostbread.com/pages/projects/the_little_red_hen_restoring_wheat_in_the_pioneer_valley.php)

“The Hops Tree,” painting by Erin Phillips

For anyone who was inspired by Leah’s interview with Melanie and Jeremy, have a look at The Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Hops, Malts, and Brewing Herbs: Everything You Need to Know Explained Simply By John Peragine.

This is another well-laid-out, easy-to-read guide, which covers a lot of the same territory as Pitzer’s book, but with an emphasis on growing for beer making. The list of potential beer-making grains includes more than just barley, and some grains such as quinoa and sorghum could be used to make gluten-free beer!

Peragine suggests devoting a lot more garden space to your beer grains than Pitzer suggested for bread. He estimates that 800 sq. ft. of grain could make five 5-gallon batches of full-grain beer or 30 partial-grain batches. That is a lot of barley! Unless you have a lot of land and time or are planning to make your own micro-brewery I think planning for partial grain batches would be a lot easier. (Partial grain batches use store-bought cans of malt extract for most of the fermenting and whole grain malt to enrich the flavour).

The beer garden wouldn’t be complete without hops, and Peragine devotes a good chunk on this book to selecting and growing hops. If you’re not a beer drinker you can grow hops for use in medicinal teas and they look quite pretty growing up a trellis. Hops are usually started from the root and you won’t find them at the Co-op, so anyone interested in growing them can check out the list of resources in this book or search online for hops suppliers.

Following the hops chapter is a chapter titled “Brewing Herbs”. Here a variety of herbs, which can be added to beers are listed along with instructions on growing them. Unfortunately there are no recipes for the herbs nor any indications of what flavours they will add to the beer. For really adventurous brew masters, Peragine includes a chapter on culturing yeast. The last two chapters are devoted to the process of making beer and a couple of sample recipes are given.

Although it would have been nice to see more recipes, this book is otherwise very complete and definitely recommended for the home brewer/gardener.

With the herb garden well established, hops on order and last year’s barley seed ready to be planted – at the communal barley plot we share with friends – I think Brian and I are ready for beer gardening!

Homegrown barely threshing – it was soon discovered that canoe paddles work better than the bamboo pictured here.

About Erin the Librarian: Erin Phillips has been interviewed on Dream Big Cape Breton, along with her partner Brian Dean, a luthier. She is a Whitney Pier resident and currently on maternity leave from her position as Victoria County Libraries Supervisor for the Cape Breton Regional Library. (Note: her views and opinions as expressed in the blog do not represent the views of CBRL.)

More Erin the Librarian columns on this blog:

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Mama’s Day

Me and my maman.

Thank goodness for Mamas. Without them, where would we be? Without them, actually, I wouldn’t even be here to ask that question!

We need our mamas. (We need our papas too, but I’ll talk about that in June.)

Whether your mama is your best friend or the two of you barely speak, she did her best with what she had. And today is a day to think about her. Her struggles, her love, her life, her gifts to you.

Just doin’ my thing, chillin’ in the garden.

Without my mama, I couldn’t have gone from this chubby little kiddo hanging out in the garden, inspecting the world, to a loving, compassionate grown-up, still inspecting the world.

Thank you mama, I love you.

***

In other news, now you can follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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