We Finally Meet

On June 26, 2012, I ventured down to the Sandy Point Lighthouse to capture some shots after a brief thunderstorm. The clouds were beginning to break apart by a few rays of warm light from the setting sun but the clouds along the horizon were still dark as they retreated along the coast. The tide was fairly low, the wind had calmed and the view of the dramatic sky and lighthouse reflecting on the wet sand was just too beautiful an opportunity to resist.

While I was at the lighthouse a grandmother and her grandchildren were there so I snapped a few photos of them, including the one below, and posted them on my website.I didn’t think much about the photos after that until a year later when I received an email from a woman named Donna McGrath who was a rug hooker. She wanted to hook a rug of my photo. Flattered, I obliged her, and you can read the post about it by clicking here.

But that’s not where the story ends.

This week, 5 years later, I got to meet Donna in person for the first time. And I also got to see her beautiful hooked rug in person too. It is stunning! She did such a beautiful job.

Me & Donna McGrath meet for the first time since she contacted me back in June 2013.

I’m so glad I got to meet this beautiful lady. We are two artists, forever connected in a unique and special way.

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Remembering “The Affections of May”

Were you fortunate enough to see “The Affections of May”?

Five years ago (May 24th, 2012) would have been the dress rehearsal for Norm Foster’s play “The Affections of May” performed by Shelburne’s much loved Basement Theatre group at the Osprey Arts Centre.

I absolutely adored this play. I got to help out a bit with script prompts and picking out music. Not only did I get to watch my husband’s sideburns grow into mutton chops, but the most fun was watching this play develop. It was an ambitious production, especially with the set. It was one of the best and most detailed sets I’ve seen at the Osprey Arts Centre by Basement Theatre.

I wanted to share the photos again, to give you an idea of how wonderful it was, how brilliant the actors were and to bring memories back to those who were involved. Enjoy!

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Sweet Memories of Dad

It seems like it was not all that long ago as I look at these pictures, but 1987 is a bit back there in the rear-view mirror. I was 21 years old (several years younger than my son is now), full of fresh hopes and dreams, and not really thinking about a time when my parents would no longer be around. My mom has now been gone for 17 years next month; my dad passed away Valentine’s Day 2012. So to find these memories was a delight.

For whatever reason, on a warm summer morning all those years ago, I grabbed my camera (a Canon T70 film camera) and captured these quiet moments with my dad while he cleaned some haddock. 

To clean or fillet (pronounced “fill-it” not “fill-ay“, thank you very much) a fish can be challenging, not to mention messy, unless you have some experience. As a fisherman, my dad would have filleted many o’ fish. His technique was fast, slick and with very little waste. On this particular morning, he had backed his truck up so as not to be too far from the backdoor of the house where my mom would take the fillets inside to rinse off with cold water then wrap them up in meal portions to store in the freezer. 

Fish was a staple in my parents house. It’s still my favourite even though we had it often. My mom was a master at experimenting with new recipes to make each fish meal different than the next. However, her pan-fried fish was the best! Relatives would come from as far away as Ontario on their annual summer vacation to Nova Scotia to have a feed of Mom’s pan-fried fish, homemade bread and pies. Mmmm…I just couldn’t talk about Dad cleaning fish without talking about Mom’s cooking.


I look at these photos and start to take notice of the details – the homemade cutting board, the knife with the worn wooden handle, the rose bushes against the house, even Dad’s “dungarees”. But most of all I remember Dad. I had to crawl up on the back of the truck to get a few of these shots and he was content to just go about the task at hand. 

It’s been a while since I did my last post, but after finding these old slides I decided to convert them and share them with you. The composition and quality isn’t my best, but the memories are no less sweet.

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Northeast Harbour Church Memories

Trinity United Church Northeast Harbour Shelburne County, NS

Trinity United Church
Northeast Harbour
Shelburne County, NS

Have you ever stepped back into the past or experienced a moment from years ago? Back in November of last year I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the old Trinity United Church in Northeast Harbour, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, the community where I grew up.

This church was just a short walk from my childhood home. It’s condemned now, but back in the day this building was important. I attended my first funeral there (it was for my foster grandmother). I attended the last wedding held there too. 20151108_3127_edited_smsIt was lovely; the textured glass windows sparkled with the late afternoon sun, much like they did on my recent visit. I remember seeing the young bride enter the church. Then everyone rose as she began her walk down the isle, her father walking beside her as the Wedding March sounded out from the pump organ.

I also remember a few Christmas concerts. 20151108_3158_edited_smsMyself and some local kids, standing on the stage behind the little railing all dressed in our Sunday best only to be covered with props for the nativity production – a robe and a towel from home if you were to be a shepherd, a Wiseman, Mary or Joseph; a sheet for an angel with a halo made from gold or silver garland which sometimes also involved a wire hanger. We’d all gather around some form of a cradle that held somebody’s doll all wrapped up in a baby blanket. This was all usually followed by us kids holding up large bristolboard letters to spell out C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and recite the famous poem. If I close my eyes I can still remember the magic of those concerts and how scared and excited we all were. The fir tree would be standing tall and decorated with all of our handmade decorations. There would be presents underneath for we would have exchanged gifts, each child picking one name from a hat weeks previously.

One of my favourite memories of this church is when I was really small. My mother ran a children’s craft group there on Saturday mornings. 20151108_3114_edited_smsI remember running up the big steps into the entrance and through the big door to the room on the east side of the church. They are boarded up now, but I can still picture the sun beaming in through those two big windows of that room. My mother, through a lot of planning, had all kinds of wonderful things for us to do and make, and it was such a sunny happy place.

Because it was my mother who organized the children’s activities, she and I were usually the first ones there on those Saturday mornings and I loved the atmosphere of that old church when it was empty. Walking through it last November, it almost felt the same.


It was sad to see the damage in some areas, but the main part of the church is intact and unchanged. The new-back-then hymnals still rest in their slots behind the pews. I seem to have a distant memory of the day those bright red books arrived in a big brown box. It wasn’t that long before the church doors shut for the last time.

20151108_3167_edited_smsThe little table still sits at the back of the church. This was where church programs and booklets would be placed and sometimes flowers or other items depending on the occasion or event.

20151108_3138_edited_smsAnd so my visit to this lovely little country church was bittersweet. So many memories. That’s the thing about a church like this little one. In small communities these buildings were erected by the congregation and were then the centre of all the landmarks of their lives – christenings, weddings, funerals, concerts, choir practices and meetings. It has been there for all the important stuff. And when these churches crumble and die a large piece of that community is left hollow. But the memories are still there. 20151108_3135_edited_sms

This church is the reason I can walk into any United Church and remember the melodies of the hymns that are still sung today. There is comfort in that. And for that reason, this Trinity United Church will be remembered by me for a very long time.



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Basement Theatre Success

There’s always a tinge of bitter-sweetness when a successful performance is over. For the cast and crew the last bow is taken, lights are turned up, costumes are removed, makeup (including sparkles) is washed off, the set is torn down and instruments are packed back in their cases. All that’s left is extreme exhaustion, a huge sense of accomplishment for a job very well done and the return to a regular life with no rehearsals and not seeing some of your fellow actors for months. For the audience, however, there is an after glow of mirth and a sense of pride that we live in a community with such amazing talent. All this because of a small energetic group of people that make up Basement Theatre and the Pit Band.

As a photographer, I find it hard to not take photos of these events with the transformation of our little Osprey Arts Centre by the sea into a world of make believe and, in this instance, magic and fairies. Here is a photographic tribute to the characters, costumes and all those involved in the execution of this fantastical production. If you saw the play, it is my hope to maybe help you to remember and re-experience some of the play’s special moments. To those of you who missed this fabulous production, I welcome you to enjoy the following photos of A Midsummer’s Night on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

The final bow and applause to everyone…

And then a group shot of the cast and their director, Alison Stanton.

20150524_0767_edited_sm_sgndCongratulations on a a great production!!

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Feeling Inspired

20141106_0003_edited_smIt has been a long time since I have felt inspired. You know the feeling – it’s been raining for days on end; it’s cold when it should be warm and warm when it should be cold; you have to work when you want to play, and when you can play, the weather is uncooperative.


Notice the leaf imprint in the cement? I wish I could have put a whole collection of leaves on the curing cement, then painted each impression as a different coloured leaf to enjoy every day.

Driving to work this morning, I took notice of that tree again – the Kwanzan Cherry Tree on King St. Not only does it bring beautiful colour in the spring with it’s delicate pink blooms (click here), but it brightens up dark fall days like today with it’s vibrant orange-red leaves. How can one not be inspired by a life force that brings forth such magnificent colours?20141106_0007_edited_sm

So, I invite you to stop where you are and take notice of your surroundings. There is sure to be something of beauty that captures your attention. It could be a thing, a place, or even a person. There is beauty everywhere. And you don’t need a camera to enjoy it. In fact it’s better if you just take it in with your own eyes and appreciate whatever it is for what it is.

Enjoy your day!

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Hookers & Lighthouses

Just over a year ago in June 2013, I was contacted by a lovely lady named Donna McGrath who is an active member of the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia.

Hello Lisa,
I’m a resident of Kentville NS and a rug hooker. The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia is initiating a “Lighthouse Challenge” project for interested hookers to hook lighthouses of Nova Scotia. These hookings would eventually be displayed possibly at various venues during 2014-2015. Only members of the Guild are permitted to participate and an application/registration is required that includes a history of the lighthouse.
When I began thinking about the possibility of contributing to this project, I immediately thought of the Sandy Point Lighthouse, because it has a personal significance for me. My paternal grandmother, Nellie McGrath (nee King) was born and raised in Sandy Point and the Kings go back several generations in Shelburne county. I’ve driven past (and admired) this lighthouse many times during the past decade while researching the King family of Sandy Point and area.
My challenge is to find a photo of the lighthouse that would be suitable to use as a guide for hooking. I have studied quite a few, but your photo “After-the-Storm” with it’s perspective, varied colours and interesting content could make a lovely hooking. I’m wondering if I could obtain permission to use your photo as a guide for my hooking?

I was flattered to say the least, and said yes, of course. I then anxiously awaited the finished project.

Today I received an email from Donna with the following photos. The finished piece is absolutely beautiful!! But don’t take my word for it. See the photos below.

After the Storm photograph - Lisa Buchanan

After the Storm
original photograph
– Lisa Buchanan

My Grandmother's Lighthouse hooked rug - Donna McGrath

My Grandmother’s Lighthouse
hooked rug
– Donna McGrath

Rug hook artist, Donna McGrath and her completed piece

Rug hook artist, Donna McGrath, and her completed piece.

Back label of the complete hooked rug.

Back label of the completed hooked rug.

Needless to say, I was in awe of the workmanship. She has done such a lovely job.

Donna’s hooked rug and those of the other guild members will be displayed at various venues across Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick over the next year. Below is a schedule of the exhibits.

The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia
Inline image 1
Lighthouse Project

Show Schedule

October 17, 2014: Official Launch at the RHGNS Annual General Meeting, Holiday Inn Harbourview, Dartmouth, NS 
October 21 – November 29, 2014:  Fundy Geological Museum, Parrsboro, NS (Official opening Saturday, October 25 at 1 p.m.)
December 1- 27, 2014:  Fredericton Public Library, Fredericton, New Brunswick
January 2 – January 15, 2015:  Antigonish Library, Antigonish, NS
January 16, 2015 – March 15, 2015:  Dartmouth Heritage Museum (Evergreen Place)
May 16 – June 21, 2015:  Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, Lunenburg, NS 
June 25 – August 9, 2015:  Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, NS
August 15 – October 15, 2015:  J. Franklin Wright Gallery, Civic Center, Port Hawkesbury, NS
October 16, 2015: Lighthouses return to participants of the show.
The Lighthouse Committee
Chair:  Shirley I. Bradshaw
Committee members: Carol Harvey-Clark
      Linda Alderdice

If the other members’ hooked rugs are as beautifully done as Donna’s, I’m sure it would be well worth the trip to one of the venues to see them in person as photos are never as good as seeing them for yourself.

I’d like to thank Donna for using my photograph as inspiration for her artwork, and I wish her and all the other guild members of the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia a successful series of exhibits. I’m sure their work will bring smiles of pleasure and admiration to all viewing visitors.

Congratulations, Hookers!!

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Shelburne Pride

Last week, on Thursday, July 17, 2014, shortly after 12 noon, the little town of Shelburne proudly raised a pride flag and came into the 21st Century.

A crowd of people along with Shelburne Town Council members gathered under a, quite befittingly, rainbow of brightly coloured umbrellas to endure the light-to-pelting rain and witness this very historic event. Opening remarks were made by Queens-Shelburne MLA, Sterling Belliveau and a proclamation in support of Halifax Pride Week was read by Shelburne Mayor, Karen Mattatall. But the best part was having Halifax businessman, florist, gay-rights activist, motivational speaker and Shelburne-native, Neville MacKay there to speak about the importance of that day and to raise the flag.

Undaunted by the rain, Neville was a ray of sunshine, speaking about how we all are a part of the beauty and diversity that make our world such a wonderful place. He also spoke of those who were there that day in spirit, who would have been happy to see this day come.

Neville, who I remember from high school as there’s just a few years difference between us, (I remember when he had hair!) is such a great inspiration. You can hear his CBC interview here.


Queens-Shelburne MLA, Sterling Belliveau holds an umbrella for Neville MacKay as he gives a speech from the heart.


Neville MacLay raises the pride flag.


A little help with the flag raising from Shelburne local, Clarence Butler while Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall looks on.

I was raised by a woman who believed all people are equal. And growing up, I can honestly say I didn’t know what racism was. Throughout my school years, I have had friends of all kinds – black (I truly treasure the memory of a handsome black boy braiding my hair as he sat behind me in Grade 6), gay & lesbian (you know who you are and you were my best friends). As an adult I have many diverse friends and acquaintances. Your diversity makes you unique, and also a great addition to the area. Thank you for being you!

Gay pride? Yes! Diversity pride? Hell, yes! But I’ve got Shelburne pride ’cause my favourite little town just grew up a whole lot!

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
~ Chorus of Anglican hymn by Cecil F. Alexander, 1848

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Lovely Still

20140605_0025_edited_smI’ve never been a fan of yellow – not yellow cars, yellow building blocks, not even yellow flowers; although a very smart friend once told me that it’s the yellow flowers that make the other flowers stand out. Okay. I’ll go with that. But it’s purples, blues and pinks that I adore. And as many of you have noticed over the past week, the Kwanzan Cherry Tree in front of Focus Gallery has been stunning this year. Now, all those delicate pink petals lay on the ground creating a beautiful pink carpet beneath the tree.

Lovely still.

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They Came From Away & The Mersey Swing Band

This past Friday evening’s show at the Osprey was a delight.

They Came From Away is a one-man play written and performed by Trevor McKinven. The main character, a Newfoundlander named Johnny “Fever” McDermott, introduces three “come from awayers” who were some of the 6500 plane passengers who got stranded in Gander due to the events of 9/11.

The characters include an Italian, a Southern Belle named Sherry, and a New York firefighter from the Bronx. All in a bit of shock surrounding the events as well as the geography and culture of Newfoundland.

Trevor’s performance was outstanding! His ability to switch from Newfoundlander to Italian (with a strong accent) to Southern Belle (with a full beard, mind you) to a Bronx New Yorker was sharp as well as entertaining. I’m quite sure the Italian and the New Yorker were taller than the other two by at least a half foot. Amazing job, Trevor! And the stories told by each character took us all back to that day; especially the Firefighter. It’s amazing how the human race can pull together to comfort and support (and feed jello and lasagne) to those that are stranded and in need.

Johnny "Fever" McDermott

Johnny “Fever” McDermott

The Italian

The Italian

The Italian

The Italian

Sherry, the Southern Belle

Sherry, the Southern Belle

The New York Firefighter from the Bronx

The New York Firefighter from the Bronx


I also wanted to include some photos from The Mersey Swing Band performance earlier this month at the Osprey. With a little dance instruction from the Dalhousie Swing Dance Society before the show, everyone enjoyed an evening of dancing and great music.


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