Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maurice Ferland

Maurice Ferland's extraordinary sculpture garden

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
There are acres and acres of the most beautifully groomed grounds, dozens of superb things, which I called sculptures but which Maurice Ferland, their creator, calls "installations".
"I am not a sculptor", explains Maurice,"A sculptor works with wood or stone or bronze and clay to create original pieces. I just assemble things I find and try to set them in a harmonious and pleasing patter,n which will make a garden or a large room be anhanced by my work:.
A humble statement from a man who has been on the forefront of the Montreal and Toronto fashion idsustry as a designer of high fashion, with his own stores and studios in both cities. After retiring, he even started a high class boutique of kitchen gadgets in Sutton which he later sold and which is still thriving.
"I wanted to do something completely different, put my hands to work in creating things more permanent than textiles or disposables:". Thus, three years ago, the charming 60 year old set out to create the finest sculpure garden in Abercorn. He and his partner own this georgeous spread of rolling hills, landscaped ponds which are fed by rivulets of water cascading through a landscape of rocks, symmetrical but artisticly placed. This is Mr. Ferland's personal Versailles. It is open to the public on weekends at no charge and has become of the hidden treasures of the Sutton area.

Last year Maurice gave a garden party and 800 of his former clients, friends and locals attended. "I had 35 pieces on display and sold 32 of them" he muses. I can personally attest to the attraction of Maurice's work as some of my own friends have them, others display them and the Sutton downtown would be poorer if he would remove some of them, he so generously gave the town to place in the village core.

Ferland's serene landscape is a wonderful backdrop to his creations, which are made with "found objects", from old farm machinery, large gears, hoops of iron, items of bronze or cast iron and always accented by wood. The wood might be boards from an old barn, petrified driftwood or well cured pieces of cedar. He has the knack to meld the color and texture of the wood to his accent pieces and has a fine balance in form and dimension, where not one component of his installation overpowers the other. He also has the designer's instinct of placing his objects in settings optimal for their visual impact.

Other than the joy of the visual sensation of seeing the work, it is almost as much fun to watch the shadows created by these pieces, as they are arranged in wide open areas where the sun plays with shadows within and without those interwoven works, creating an ever changing stimulation for the eye.
"I taught myself to weld three years ago" smiles Mr. Ferland. "Never did it before, but I got the hang of it really quick. Of course the woodwork comes natural to a fashion designer. Every piece of wood is a canvas, a textile presence, the knots in the wood just as stimulating as a finely woven piece of textile I used to incorporate in my fashion designs"
He certainly has an eye for balance and now he muses, "I want to do something a little different. I am outgrowing the rusted pieces. I have to reinvent myself because just as in fashion, things change, evolve, people will want something unique. I do not repeat myself in my work, I did not as a designer and I shall not do so as an artist".
It is going to fascinating to watch what he comes up next because thus 60 year old young man has just started to spread his wings as the maker of magnificent work which we in the greater Sutton area have come to recognize as Mr. Ferland's original creations wherever we see them.

Gabriela Asselin

Sutton is learning to dance with Gabrilela Asselin

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
Foreword: "Let's face, it my male friends out there, how many times have you had the opportunity to entertain a beautiful woman like this in your own back yard and with the full approval of your wife who also adores the lady?"
Well, lucky me, the woman is Gabriela Asselin (39), who is a gypsy dancer and has enthralled hundreds of people in the townships through her dance exhibitions, dance classes and performances.
"At age five I wanted to be a ballet dancer", then I did Yoga in kindergarten in Joliette. Later I danced to the BG'S in the basement. I then go involved in the visual arts,music, theater and choir. With a youth choir, I toured Austria and Germany, from Salzburg to Vienna, Innsbruck, Ulm and Frankfurt. We even took an international second place in competition. This was with the world famous Canadian conductor Iwan Edwards and his F.A.C.E senior Treble Choir, the official training outlet for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for young choristers.

At 17, Gabriela joined a drama troupe which eventually turned into a dance troupe and she began to study contemporary dance with Elaine LeClerk, Montreal dance teacher and artistic director of LADMMI, the famed Montreal school on dance. She studied dance until she was 22 years old, followed what she called "her own artisic path" and got herself a Bachelaureat dregree.
At about that time, she muses, "I got pregnant after an important audition, but I danced until I was seven months into my pregnancy" Her son is now a cherished 16 year old and she shares the upbringing with her "ex"."I also studied and learnt French, German and Spanish". This is when she was 22 years old!
Since 2001 Gabriela has been a Sutton resident and now she has her own dance studio, she teaches the four traditional dance forms from Gpysy to contemporary, Indian and Flamenco. Beginning on September 12, and ending on December 9th, she will conduct two seminars, "Contemporary dance" on Mondays and "Gypsy Dance" on Wednesdays. The classes are in the evenings and are 1 1/2 hours every week and only cost $ 180.- for twelve weeks, which is $15.- for each session per person.
Gabriela also does a summer artistic camp, works with the schools in Sutton, Frelighsburg and Bromont ,where she holds workshops and "after school activity events". She performs for special evenings such as the Tour des Arts and numerous others and can be engaged to be the brillant highlight of a festive party, corporate event or perhaps a wedding ceremony.
This gifted, outgoing young woman has been embraced by Sutton as one of the fine constants in this village which seems to evolve as a center of the arts in the western part of the townships. Anyone interested in dancing classes may contact Gabriela at: (450) 538-4026.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bastien's Highland Cattle

Highland cattle - a labor of love for the Bastiens

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
This gentle animal shown above with yours truly is one of a herd of 17 currently grazing on the 150+ acre farm of Yvon and Mildred Bastien on Alderbrooke road in Sutton. The Bastiens are professional people and world travellers, but when they are home in Sutton, their "pets" occupy all their time. "We fell in love with those animals and had them since 2003",explains Yvonne. They are amazingly self sufficient, even at calfing time. The mother cow gives birth right in the field and makes very little fuzz about it, as long as the calf starts sucking the milk. Sometimes, it happened this spring, the calf does not get the program and then one of the Bastiens is there with the nippled bottle, to get the little things going, but they have not lost any, and the current crop looks incredibly healthy and happy.

Proud daddy of a bunch of little cows, Yvon Bastien invited me to tour the grounds with him and what amazed me is how gentle these cattle are. I was able to get up tp the older cows,, swat the flies away from their faces and was rewarded with that nice low rumble of satisfaction. The cows actually like to be patted on their noses and head and allowed me to play with their magnificent horns. I can truly see the attraction a "hobby farmer" would find in having a herd of these creatures. "They are semi wild" explained Mr. Bastien. "They stay out all winter and do not mind the snow and the cold. However, my little herd costs me about $ 2,500.- in hay bills during the cold months, when there is no natural grazing:.
"Do you sell them", I asked?". Yes of course. They are a superb meat, far superior to regular beef as they are high in Omega-3 and other nutrients and a lot of my calves are sold to breeders. The gestation period of a cow is just about the same as a human female - 9 month. So, every year one prize bull is brought in to have his fun and create the spring crop of new highland cattle and there is a lot of trading going on among the breeders of this special cattle in the townships.

"."Why do we do this?" muses Mr. Bastien, "I just love to go out there in the morning and watch them. They are magnificent, stately, gentle and a never ending joy to us". When asked if there was any money in raising this particular breed he just smiles and the smile says it all, it probably costs him a bundle, but he has his hobby, which he and his lovely wife and friend of ours, Millie, have enjoyed for quite a while now and are not about to give up.
"Everyone in the Sutton area is building tennis courts and bigger swimming pools" states Mr. Bastien. "I want this town to be the farming community it used to be, and I shall do my utmost to keep it this way. When the tourists drive by my place, they can see a little slice of Sutton that has been lost to the developers - 150 pristine acres and a nice herd of lovely animals. And if someone cares to stop and talk to us, we are enchanted to give them a tour"
Thank you Yvon and Millie!

Sutton's Flea Market

"The Flea Market", Sutton's Saturday meeting place

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
It is a Sutton ritual. On Saturdays, from spring to fall, more than one thousand people flock to the flea market on the grounds of the Royal Canadian Legion. The table rentals go into the coffers of the Legion but are inexpensive at $ 10.- per Saturday. This past Saturday there were about 80 tables set up, but the real number is only known by the treasurer of the Legion, as many people push their tables together or rent more than one. Almost all the vendors have been coming to the sale for more than a decade, some tell me they were here 20 years ago. One seller of vintage tools chuckled, "When I started coming here, people were using these tools...".
The selection of "stuff" is eclectic, ranging from thousands of books, the above mentioned vintage tools, enameled metal signs of every description and the usual array of jewelry, knitted stuff, baked goods and toys, household implements and linens. There is even one vendor who specializes in golf equipment and has about 2,000 balls on sale.

Always cheerful, the "Townships Grandmothers" have a table here and local farmers sell fresh produce. Having had a craving for acorn squash for a week now, and having been unable to find one at the local vegetable emporium or the I.G.A., I scored two beauties for less than $ 5.-
The best thing about this flea market is, that it is mostly frequented by people living in the Sutton area, and if a person is not a total hermit, he (or she) will catch up with at least a dozen neighbors, the teacher of the kids, the girls from the I.G.A or the local merchant. One can even invite a friend to breakfast or lunch at the outdoors canteen which serves excellent fresh food at incredibly low prices. And the place is open enough to afford one a stroll through the display areas without being crowded. The merchants as a whole are a cool local bunch, mostly on the senior side, but almost all of them bilingual and friendly and outgoing.

While it is not "Les Halles" of Paris, inside the covered sheds are the good antiques and collectibles and I know of at least two local B&B's which have outfitted some of their bedrooms with things acquired at Sutton's "outdoor shopping mall". The rest of us will buy the occasional book, trinket or that incredibly cool antique fishing rod or a nice bag of home baked goods. This is truly a cherished Sutton tradition that will continue for many more years to come. Join is!

Sutton's Dental Center

Dr. Roger Berger's magic dental emporium in Sutton

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
This coming October it will be 20 years since Dr. George Berger opened his dental clinic in Sutton. As in many small towns, there is always the suspicion that you have to pay more to go to the local shop/clinic/ boutique etc. So, most Suttonites migrate to Cowansville for their dental work. Wrong move! Dr. Berger and his staff of 23 in two clinics is a consumate professional, he has two partners, Dr's Bruno Ratte' and Karin Joduin, all highly trained professionals and passionate about their work. Many of the employees of the clinics have been there for a long time as well and they include dental hygenists, threatment specialists and a host of other specialties required in a busy practice.
Dr.Berger's personal forte is "implants". First developed in Sweden in the 1960's, this procedure, while costly, will actually maintain the health of the jaw structure which dentures can not provide. It is a fascinating science. Tiny "female receptacles" are screwed into the jaw which then will receive the new "tooth". The inserts are of titanium and thus far this is the onl;y material that the human body can handle without rejecting it. There are some studies done in Europe currently, to try to make the implant sockets of a ceramic material or of carbon fibre but the jury is still out on those experiments.
What happens when we lose our teeth? "here is the problem", explained Dr. Berger: "When teeth are extracted, a substantial amount of the bone that holds the tooth is also lost. In fact, once teeth are removed, the bone surrounding them is reabsorbed and loses its volume. The dental roots naturally transfer chewing energy to the jawbones, giving them the stimulation necessary for constant reconstruction. If these roots are missing, the bone is no longer getting any exercise, and this lost volume must be replaced, either with bigger prosthesis, or by means of a reconstructive bone graft, Wheater or not the roots are missing will have a major impact in the treatmen toptions proposed to a client"
How long does it take to do this? "Well, after the surgical removal of a tooth (or a set of teeth} it can be from ten days to six months, depending on the amount of surgical work required and the need to heal the jaws".
However, if someone needs just a single crown, the Sutton clinic can have you smiling the same day you come in with your problem as this state-of-the-art facility even has tooth milling machines which enable them to get your new tooth installed the same day. Pretty impressive!
I personally have had a great degree of fear of dentists since I have had a couple of bad experiences with two of them. Last week, I had all my remaining teeth removed by Dr. Berger so that I may finally get myself some replacements and I can honestly state that this was less painful than filling up the Range Rover with gas (and cost about the same). All I know is that after George numbed me with a few shots of whatever they use, he fiddled around in my mouth for a few minutes and I was done. Not the slightest discomfort, no pain afterwards, just a numb mouth for a couple of hours. I should have availed myself of this great service twenty years ago....
The question I had of course was: "Can traditional dentures completely replace my real teeth?"
Dr. Berger:"Traditional prostheses or dentures rest on the gums and do not bolster the reconstruction of the permanent bone we have naturally. The jawbone reabsorbs and gradually sinks. This bone loss can lead to an imbalance leading to abnormal tensing and slackening of the neck muscles. This explains the gradual emergence of face and neck pain. This is also the reason why people with no teeth seem to age much faster than those with teeth. Their lips sink and their chin is projected toward the nose because of the lack of buoyance requered to maintain the delicate equilibrium of the face's morphology. Partial dentures can also cause damage, the same phenomenon of bone resorption occurs, thereby depriving the surrounding teeth of support. The only real sulution is implants, and while we are cognizant of the fact that many people do not have the dental insurance or the money to do them, we are willing to set up a payment plan for people interested in this great option to return to good dental health"
Well, I shall not be able to get implants and will have to go the way of traditional dentures, but I I were a younger person with great hopes for that incredible job which would probably demand a good physical presence, I would mortgage my 1961 tractor to go that route. I have met some people who had the implants and I certainly would not ever have known them for artificial because they look perfectly natural and best of all, those rich cats "what have them" can chew naturally while dentures only allow about 35% of the normal chewing rate of healthy gums and teeth.

"Hoppy" Caswell

"Hoppy" Caswell, a Sutton original

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
They call him "Hoppy" because he walks with a loping gait like a friendly brown bear. His real name is Donald Caswell and he has never painted a painting, wrote a book, created a sculpture or ran for office. But everyone in the town of Sutton likes Hoppy because he is one of those really really nice originals, everyone's friend, an engaging speaker with many memories of this town and the best lawn care provider for those who cannot afford a contract with one of the big firms who tend to the local glitterati.
Born 66 years ago in Stanstead, Hoppy had a pretty straightforward life. He spent years working at a Bedford canning facility, married, got widowed, moved to Sutton 30 some years ago ("I don't exactly remember when") and has been at his present apartment next to the railroad tracks for at least 15 years. Does the sound of the railroad which roars through town twice or trice nighly with whooping horns and window rattling vibrations bother him? "I don't hear it any more" Hoppy states. "In the beginning it used to bother me a bit, but I got so used to it, I sleep right through the noise".
After moving to Sutton, Donald worked for Yardex, exactly 35 meters from his front door, he spent nine years working for the Royal Canadian Legion and helped run the Sutton flea market for ten years. He still proudly shows his Legion membership card and is a most welcome member there.
"I never travelled much" he muses. "The farthest I get is when me and my girlfriend of nine years, Isabel, get a ride to the Brome County Agricultural Exhibition every year. This is our annual vacation".

Hoppy's metier for two decades has been the mowing of lawns and the repair of any kind of lawn machinery imaginable. He is happiest on his ancient tractor (rebuilt by him of course)and he has an array of push mowers in a shed next to his house. I personally can attest to his wizardy of doing our lawn, he leaves the place looking like a golf course, does not cut down the flowers and he remembers where the bulbs are in spring. He charges little, smiles a lot and is everyone's favourite "uncle". People stop by when they need advise, when they are bored and need to speak to someone or even to have a cup of Isabel's good coffee. Ever so often, Donald will buy himself a pint at the local pub but most often he can be seen holding court behind his huge picture window on the last house on the left side of Pine street before you hit the railroad track. Without people like Donald Caswell and Isabel, this would just be another town. It is people like Hoppy who make it a home. Thanks old guy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sutton's Sunshine Center

"And the Sun Also Rises" - Sutton's Sunshine center

Ilia Kavoukis and daughter Alexis
By Manfried H. Starhemberg
"The Sun Also Rises" is a biblical quote, it is also the title of one of Mr. Hemigway's most famous books (the one that has the "running of the bulls in Pamplona etc). But, the sun does rise in Ilia's 'Sunshine Center" in Sutton. For five years this place, a former supermarket, has been tastefully decorated, seperated into a number of beautiful rooms which abound with the works of local artists and more than that, cater to the wellbeing of us Sutton folks.
Here you can get infrared sound therapy which does not tan you, but makes you sweat and detoxifies your body, you can have your aches and pains taken care of by licensed accupuncturists, there is a superb hair salon, any imaginable massage therapy, and of course Yoga.

Trisha Pope
Coming soon is a new addition to the center: Trisha Pope, well known throughout the region as a trusted clairvoiant, but more importantly, a pioneer in "Sound Healing". She gives singing lessens, conducts a choir and knows that through sound and music, beneficial healing effects can be achieved. Considering that many people that worked with her believe in her unique approach of making their lives better, one can hardly argue the point. Trisha is also an outgoing  person and met people of all ages at last week's "Family Fest" in Sutton.
Gorgeous Ilia Kavoukis(43), came to Sutton in 2003 and established her massotherapy business. Fife years ago she expanded it into her current Sunshine Center which now has five therapists on call and others who come in when needed. Ilia is a sole proprietor and the other members of the center either rent space from her or, if they only come in for consultations, pay a percentage for the use of the modern facilities. Ilia used to own a restaurant at "Antiques Row" in Montreal but as a trained massotherapist, she finally decided to trade "trees for people", which brought her to Sutton which she had visited many times before and fallen in love with. Her main employee is daughter Alexa who mans the phone and assists in running the business but is also being trained to be a therapist.

Everywhere throughout the center is a feeling of serenity. The large room in which aerobics classes and other group activities take place, is covered with a stunning wallpaper that makes one feel deep in the forests not far away.
How many people come through the center every week? "At least one hundred" states Ilia, but "I do not care how many, the important part is that they feel great when they leave here, otherwise this would just be a business. We try to be more than that, we want to make feel people feel good, relaxed, or even prettier if they use the hair salon. It is all about people".
On a personal note, I had met Ilia seven years ago, when she and I owned identical ancient Volvo station wagons and a mechanic quoted her a ridiculously high price to make a drive shaft noise go away. I sent her to my friendly garage and about $ 65.- later, the problem with the missing grease in the center bearing was gone....We have been friends ever since!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Family Event Sponsored by the Town of Sutton

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
Last Saturday, the town of Sutton invited the local populace to a family get together at the municipal park to meet many different community organizations, enjoy face paintings or the pool, play with a giant macot or jump around in an inflatable games park. The town responded and there were hundreds of children and their parents mingling with a large number of senior citizens. The weather was perfect, blue skies, warm but not hot and a superb group of local volunteers to make it interesting for everyone.

Free fresh corn on the cob, served with farm fresh butter, a mess of watermelon slices and popcorn were available and enjoyed by many. There was a composter for the watermelon rinds and a tent which was dedicated to teach people about home composting. Next to that was an exhibit by Sutton's new First Responders who gave demonstrations about their first aid skills and also showed the different tools used by the group.
"Open Mike" was sponsored by the Sutton Youth Center. There was line dancing, a game of "Petanque", toning exercises and yoga exercises after which local story tellers entertained the crowds.

There was so much to see and do, that the municipal swimming pool was almost empty for most of the afternoon. Activities continued through the evening where the last event was an outdoors movie screening sponsored by the town as well. It turned out to be one of those enjoyable afternoons for leisurly strolling around, meeting neighbors and learning about the manifold activities, sites and cultaral groups that are there to create and hold together the fabric of a small town.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sutton's Tintoretto Cafe

Seven years of excellence - Sutton's Tintoretto Cafe

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
Seven years ago when Farley Morris, a professor of literature, who can quote about every Shakepearean sonnet, and his wife Lucy, opened the cafe "Tintoretto" in Sutton, everyone thought they were a bit bonkers. There is about one reataurant for every six people in the area and "did we really need another one?"
Well, they did it anyways, did it well and continue to be one of those great little places adored by regulars. In a town like Sutton, which is mostly tourist driven, the restaurant business is pretty tough. There are a lot of them, the seasons are short, skiing  in winter and hiking and biking in summer, a few days of watching the leafs turn and then the long wait until the cycle starts up again. So it takes guts, determination and a very good product to be successful.
Tintoretto has a great location on the edge of Sutton's town square, next to a fine gallery, across from the post office, and the beneficiary of the town's only great parking lot.
But come inside: There is a piano, there are funky tables, shelves of used  books for sale, even some locally made jewelry, local art is on the walls, the colors are as whacky as the owners and most of the customers. Just this Thursday morning, August 12, a local real estate office called and asked if they could have cream of broccoly and cheddar cheese soup made for their lunch?
"Of course they can" explained Farley, ten minutes late for my interview, because he had to get fresh broccoly to make the soup. "They are loyal customers, they have their preferences and if this the soup they want, I certainly will make it".

"I have been written up once before" Farley told me. "They loved the soup, praised the salad, euligized the entree but on the end they said the only thing they had to add was, that 'the owner talks too much'"...
For me that's ok, because Farley is a raconteur, he not only loves to talk, but he does it well, with wisdom and a very fine wit. You can tell that he is used to teaching and, given half a chance, he steps right into it.  I now know about polish cold soups and his idea about the best pizza sauce and about his secret source of brick oven produced smoked meat, (made just for Tintoretto by an unnamed co-conspirator), to the culinary excellence of the place, which is dervived by the owner's intense desire to experiment with new foods, new textures, new colors.
I have eaten there often and to this day I am surprised that this minimalistic kitchen can produce affordable quality meals based on only the very best local produce, meats, eggs and milk. The breads are made in-house, as are the wonderful cakes and pastries. Everything is brought in fresh every day, nothing ever is pre-made to be heated and served. If you cant give them a little time to make your meal, do not eat there. You can go across the street to about six other places, possibly save a couple of bucks, but you will not get Lucy or Farley's superb food.

Simon Riel's Honey Emporium

175 queens and 7 million peasants - Simon riel owns them all

By Manfried Rieder Starhemberg
There is a place on Schweitzer road in Sutton which has a simple sign outside. It says "Miel", honey. But there is a lot of magic once you get to know the owner of this honey making enterprise: There is "Magic", the beautiful dog who will play with anyone willing to thow her stick into the air, which she catches everytime in mid-flight. There is magic in sampling the different sorts of honey produced and there is this incredible beauty of being shown Simon's work.
I have not always been a great admiror in stinging insects, but walking among Mr. Riel's hives, being surrounded by thousands of bees and not being stung once, I just got a huge education about the production of honey and the incredible work that goes into it. Simon owns 175 hives which means he also has 175 "Queens" which can produce up to 2,000 eggs per day, being serviced by roughly 100 male bees every day. Queens cost $ 22.- and will live for three years. They get shipped in small plastic containters and I held one on my hand just to see what is so special about this insect which gives life to almost every fruit and flower we enjoy every day.
Outwardly, the queen is just a little bigger than the other inhabitants of the hive but when Simon installs a new "virgin bee", the little boys out there go nuts and the mating starts. Every hive has approximately 40,000 bees in it, and when Simon took out the individual trays which hold the honey and the wax, we were sorrounded by thousands of bees.
"They are all males, collecting pollen" explains Simon. "Males cannot sting, only the female bees have a stinger and every year, in one single day, they sting to death all the males before the cold weather sets in."
Pretty scary this, considering that 175 hives at 40,000 bees per amounts to 7 million working inhabitants and they are all doing all this hard work just to be nuked on the end of their useful life! A working male will, during his lifetime, produce only about a teaspon of honey. Think about that, the next time you put some on your toast...

Simon makes a variety of honeys and the range from Dandelion to Bull Clover, regular clover, Wildflower, Goldenrod (yummy), Buckwheat and a creamy variety which is stored in a specially air condictioned cold room. "How do you know which hive produces which honey ?" ,was my naive inquiry. Well, the hives are placed in selected areas, none of the bees travel more than five kilometers from their hive and by thus positioning them in selected areas, there is no cross pollination. The bees are so smart, they even have scouts which go out before the swarm, find the best feeding area and then lead the rest of the workforce there.
Simon used to bring up to 100 hives all the way to New Brunswick just to feast in a wild blueberry farm, to create his blueberry honey. "I gave this up" he stated, "I lost almost 20 percent of my bees on the road, because they do not travel well over very long distances".

Now, the making of the honey itself is incredibly time consuming. Every comb gets shaved off wax before it can be put into a huge centrifuge which will extract the honey from that wonderful cell structure the girl bees and the queen had created. Simon uses only approximately 10 percent of the wax to create candles, the rest, molded in elegant bars, is returned to the hives in order to give the bees a head-start on producing honey, instead of fretting about making wax for their combs. The microcosm of this apiary art and the sheer numbers of actors, extras and creative wax artists could put Stephen Spielberg to shame. Think about the epic of the male bees cruising around day after day, to give the present of a couple of milligrams of honey to they beloved queen and her "ladies in waiting". What a story.
But on the end, the beauty about the different colors of the honey, the rich texture of the final product and the loyalty of many local customers after ten years of hard work, and an investment of over $100,000, still make Simon smile."It was worth it", he told me and then he and throws another branch of wood into the air to make sure Magic is entertained.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pina Macku a Sutton Original:

Pina Macku, a Sutton original and a great artist

By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
Pina is one of the people in my life that you can not define. She is whimsical, educated in psychology, she gives dance classes twice a week in Sutton's Grace Anglican church, she is an atheist yet believes in " something spiritual " out there...
She also is pretty. At 64, she looks like 48, she carries herself with grace and her voice is music to a listener. She and her husband (she married at age 20 in Chechoslovakia) left their homeland during the turbulent times of Dubjec's "Spring of Prague' which ended up being the last bloody invasion of a country by the former Soviet regime.
I somehow missed her leaving her country by about  a month or so, because I covered the horrible events in August of 1968 for my Austrian newspaper, was beat up and spent a week in jail in Prague.
After leaving, Pina and her husband, a mechanical engineer, moved to Basel in Switzerland, when she tried to continue her studies in Psychology. However, even after three years of study back home, the Swiss authorities insisted in her learning all the official languages of Switzerland, while giving her no credit for her prior experience. So - she studied dance instead and to this day she gives dancing classes
Eventually, the Macku's moved to Sutton because her husband had a job as mechanical engineer who worked for a guy who owned property in Sutton and a lot of Check people were afforded land at a reasonable price. Then "hubby" found his "trophy wife" which he now has two kids with, leaving Pina with the first two.
"We are still friends" she chuckles. It took me a couple of years to get over the shock, but he was honest, he sat right down and explained that he had fallen 'head over heals with another woman". At that point, Pina decided to devote her energy to her great love of creating art objects from recycled stuff, from old forks, scythes, tractor parts and other farm implements.

 Pina's Home is also a bed and breakfast place but unlike many othere in the area, she does it the simple way: You get a beautiful room,. help yourself to the well stocked larder or fridge, and just enjoy. "There is no key to the house and people can eat everything I own" is her simple tenet. "I am no cook, nor am I a waitress".
But her art is so excepional, it is breathtaking. Her mirror art alone should be featured in a book, the incredible delicacy of her blending pieces of crap iron with ancient wood is a symphony of imagery that even her own home town composer. Smetana, would approve of, .because just like his famous work "The Moldau", Pina harmonizes simple objects into a flowing rainbow of irresistable beauty.
Copyright 2011 Maple Leaf Press Agency. All rights reserved. Clients may reprint or quote from any sent articles as per contract. Attribution to author is mandatory.
20 Western Street
Sutton, QC J0E 2K0

ph: (450) 538 0982

Caesar Salad Cometition in Sutton:

Sutton announces the great Ceasar Salad Competition

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
Chef Christian Beaulieu shown above,is one of the eight renowned chefs in Sutton to take part in a unique competition: Which can create the best, the most memorable, the award winning Ceasar salad. This might not sound a big deal to anyone but the whole town is already abuzz about it ,because the event includes eight local artists as well. Let us explain: Eight chefs are viing for a prize of being the creator of the best salad, eight artists are painting paintings of this storied salad and their paintings will be displayed in the eight participating restaurants, along the other works of the participating artists.
The eight Sutton restaurants will feature the salads every day until labor day, and the artists have been given ample space to show off their stuff.  There are some serious contenders here, Lionel Dimontis, who has owned one of the most beautiful houses in Quebec, the lovingly restored Royalist mansion, which he calles "La Fontaine", and who is the longest existing establisment under one family in Sutton, will compete against storied chef Lise Desjardins whose "L'International" won its share of praise on the internet. A relative newcomer is John Kostuik of the Auberge des Appalaches and Luc Beaujean of the very fine bistro "Tarzinizza" is the dark horse in these sweepstakes.

Michel Carre'
The locals are already betting and one of their favorites is long time owner of "Tarzinizza" and now chef at the great golf club, Michel Carre'. This man has made his mark on Sutton though his beautiful Italian dishes, his delightful and whimsical use of herbs and spices, cheeses and vinaigrettes. But there are the dark horses, Michele Besre, former owner of the renowned "La Roumeur Affame", which she sold two years ago, now presides over the kitchen of one of the premier hotels in town,"Le Pleasant". "Le Cafetier", possibly one of the greatest success stories in Sutton's gastronomic history, will be represented by the lovely and vivacious Marie-Andre Brunelle. I have eaten her stuff and albeit she is in th eyes of a 63 year old, a "kid", she "do handle her kitchen well".Eight artists have been asked to make paintings of Ceasar salads and their paintings, as well as their other art will be displayed in the partipating restaurants until Labor Day weekend, when a great public taste testing and a juried competition will take place in the center of town. The public is invited on September 4 to taste the different salads and cast a vote, the official jury will be presided over by Phillipe Molle', food writer for the Montreal paper "Le Devoir" and columnist of culinary matters for Radio Canada.

 Liane Bruneau, the charming and effervescent boss of the Tourist Bureau of Sutton and the writer of this litle story have a bet going on who is going to win this contest. Come and judge for yourself however. There is a lot going on in Sutton throughout August and September.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tour des arts recap

Mixed reviews by artists about "Tour des Arts"

Louise Andre Roberge hamming it up with one of her sculptures
By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
Some were happy, some not. We polled about twenty artists about their results and comments about this year's annual "Tour des Arts" in the greater Sutton area. What we learned was manifold: Magod held an arts festival on it's own which directly interferred with the expected visitors to Sutton and many artists calles their event "ill timed as there is only so much time and interest to visit about 100 studios in a very small area in the Townships. The Magog area event naturally drew visitors from the greater Sherbrooke area, many of which were regulars at past events in the Sutton region. The second "gripe" we heard was that many Montrealers did not wish to brace the incredibly ludicrous traffic situation to get in and out of the island. Since approxemately 40 percent of the buyers and visitors to the Tour are traditionally Montrealers, this did not help either.
Loise Andre Roberge was reasonably satisfied. Her local clientele came and she stated. "I made some very nice contacts which may prove valuable in the future". But this year's sales were down and since most local artists live for this event, plan it for months, this is at best not encouraging.

Glen Sutton's mosaic artist Michelle Lalonde was more optimistic; "my sales were down this year, but I made a lot of appointments for this fall for my mosaic classes which will offset the loss of sales. But I also blame Magog for doing this to us, planning an event to overlap with ours. It was unwarranted and a great loss to many of us".
Other artists such as Sutton's Anke von Gimhoven or Pina Macku were quite satisfied with the response from the Tour and as long time participants have seen things go up and down with the vagaries of the economy, the weather throughout the week of the Tour and the innumerable ponderances which may incline someone to buy an original work of art or not.
Crusty old hermit John Rollit from Sutton Junction (I can call him that - he is a cherished friend) sold a few of his wood creations, but the great works of his, lovingly built wooden boats, have not yet found a buyer. "I just want to see one on the water in my lifetime", he muses. It's a shame because he spends thousands of hours building boats which will probably be around in my grandchildrens old age, especially if they stay in his shed...
In any case, most of the artists will be back next year, hope for a better economy (not many American tourists showed up this year, another big drawback for the local arts community, but meanwhile the spirit of the arts community is strong, most artists are friends and get together socially, many have long standing clients who love their work and new talent emerging in the area, some taught by our own "old masters", bring new ideas and new life into the local galleries, Arts Sutton, outdoor exhibits and the co-operative art outlets which have long been a staple of Sutton's cultural experience.

Anke van Ginhoven

The whimsical art of anke van ginhoven

By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
Anke is one of the most interesting artists in Sutton which is a town renowned for good working artists. She is a pixie, a whimsical woman of many talents,which has managed to mesmerize visitors to her studio by the sheer energy of her creations, the ever changing motifs and the invention of new techniques. This is not a repetitive artist who has found her "niche" and sticks to it because it sells. There is no duplication, every piece is as original as its creator.

Anke works a lot with paper mache and to quote her: "The paper is fabricated with local plants, the technique is Japanese. The work centers upon the decorative and the ceremonial. The inspiration is drawn from the fascination with ancient objects, fetishes, relics and rituals. During the many trips to Asia I have been influenced by the symbolic power of the subject matter. This is another trip, destination unknown!"
There is another facet to Anke, she creates immensely beautiful jwelry,using a variety of stones and metals, leather and, yes, even paper. The pieces are lovingly displayed and again, there are no two pieces alike, every item is unique and Anke has a fine and delicate understanding of blending her colors so that there is not the slightest dichotomy in the balance of the individual creation. This understanding of color might  be derived from the fact that this Dutch born artist has also created a lovely garden with a myriad of flowers which reminded us of her native Holland.
Any plans for retirement? "Of course not, there is so much I have yet to experiment with, so many projects,plus the garden. I have no time for retirement"
Good or Anke. Most visitors to the annual "Tour des Arts" in Sutton are her "regulars" and are anxious to see what she will come up with next.

Swiss festival in Sutton

Superb Swiss Festival delights thousands in Sutton

By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
For one whole week the town of Suttonturnes into a Swiss village. All week long Swiss flags had been flying from every light and telephone pole in town, restaurants were preparing Swiss inspired dishes and tourists arrived in droves for the 35th annual Swiss fest in town and on Sutton mountain.
Sutton has a sizeable Swiss population and this festival is the second largest in the world outside of Switzerland and what a beautiful event it turnbed out to be. On friday afternoon, Swiss musicials played throughout the town and there was much impromptu dancing to alpensongs, alpenhorns and polka music.

There was a well attended and finely organized display of local Swiss artists at the gallery Farfely in the center of town and most stores held sidewalk sales for the whole weekend and from what we learned, it was welll worth their while.
On Saturday was "the Big One". A whole day and fun filled night on Sutton mountain which was attended by thousands wgho camped out all day in the grass and on the slopes of the mountain. Our favorite was when we ascended in the chairlift accompanied by the lovely strains of traditional folk music by the Men's Singing Club of Lacolle. Every chair of the l;ift was taken all day long and the price was right: it was gratis, a gift from the mountain to thousands of happy people who could enjoy the spectacular views from the chalet. Lac Brome glittered to the right, the fields of the local farms could be seen as far as Dunham and in the distance were the mountains of Quebec.
Back at the ground station there were musicians all day long and much polka dancing, yodling, alpenhorns, a woman's chorus, fiddlers, the musical group "Harmonie de Granby" and other choristers, accordeon players, fifflers and even the display of traditional Swiss wrestling. And everywhere were the beautifil Swiss girls in their traditional "Trachten".

If this was not enough, visitors had a chance to watch marksmen compete in a small caliber rifle shoout-out, eat in one of the two huge dining tents erected for the event and well attended throughout the day and night. Even in the tents there was traditional music and everyone enjoyed a group of young girls dancing to the great delight of the crowd.

All this went on until midnight after a lampoon procession, fireworks, more alpenhorn and great cameraderie of one of the friendliest crows we have ever seen. There was no incident, no rowdiness, even the litter was picked up by people as they were leaving which is prety typical of the Swiss but surprisingly rubbed off on all the other visitors who left with big smiles and lovely memories andd a firm resolve to return for the 36th running of this great event in 2012.