Wednesday, December 27, 2006

An Instructive Christmas

Well, we had a wonderful Boxing Day. Kaetlyn went to the first day of her first job - covering for holiday time at Silver Star. Andrew spent the day at a friends house playing games and Dean and Rhiannon and I hung out in a quiet house, eating apple pie for breakfast and playing games. Rhiannon made Dean breakfast in bed and we went for a hike in Kal Lake Park, pulling Rhiannon on the sled from time to time and sliding down all the hills in the gloaming. Kaetlyn and Drew were home and happy in the evening and we visited and laughed and went to bed early.

Christmas Day was another story. I know that Christmas can be stressful for many people - we have so many expectations and pressure to meet others' expectations. Or it can be that way. I've thought that we had a pretty good grip on these things and our Christmases have been relaxed and fun. I have always put a great deal of effort in making our Christmases magical. Althought my children make and buy gifts for each other on their own, I am certainly the band leader, orchestrating everything. I learned something very important this Christmas Day. I learned that anytime I 'do it all' for my family I am robbing them of many things. Not only of the opportunity to participate but also of the opportunity to see how much they affect other people - what they do to contribute to the atmosphere. And robbing them of these things can come back and bite me in the ass.

Because of the 14 year spread in years in my children's ages, Santa has come for the older children long after what would be appropriate if their youngest sibling wasn't 6. It was what my parents did for me. I was 18 the last time Santa came for me. And I have done all the Santa-ing for my children despite their advancing ages on my own. And I have done it happily - sometimes stressfully, but always with love and with hopes of their enjoyment. This will be the last year that happens. My two oldest daughters behaved abominably on Christmas Day. I'm sure there is a nicer way to put that - one that doesn't imply judgement but at this point, I am judging their behaviour. There was jealousy and comparing and complaining. There was mean-ness in the full meaning of the word - meaning petty and stingy and smallness of spirit.

I was hurt, of course. And disappointed. But mostly, I realized that I had missed something. I am the master of my own destiny and I had to admit that I had created this scenario. Not that I am responsible for their behaviour. But that I had set myself up by not requiring more of them - not that I assign them tasks but that I include their input and make them apart of creating the magic of Christmas. Dinner was pretty much ruined but I have been enjoying the left overs...

So next year at the beginning of October we are going to have a family meeting (7 year old not included) and we will decide together what we are going to do for Christmas and we will divide up the responsibilities. And you know what? Its been 23 years since I had a stocking. And I've been making them for 20 years. I think it is about time I got one, don't you? If we decide to do stockings, that is. That will be a group decision.

So my Christmas was not as relaxing and happy as I would have liked but I learned something very important. Something I seem to continue to learn in different ways. I learned about letting go. I learned about the importance of helping my children to grow up and share in creating our family environment. I learned more than I can possibly put into a blog. It has been my curse and my blessing to have such a strong personality. It has served me well in many situations but there have also been times when I have learned that the kindest thing is really to step back and allow others to join with me. Just because I CAN do it all myself doesn't mean it is a good idea to do that.

So, Merry Christmas everyone. If yours wasn't as happy as you would have liked, I hope you learned something to. Learning is good.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Aren't those just the cutest little pj's? I wish I had some like that. I've had that fabric forever waiting for the right thing to do with it... Can you see the solid blue heart sewed onto the right side? Once I did that and looked at it, and thought, hmmm, that looks rather mom-ish.

So I am done my gifts. These are for Rhiannon. I realized that I have never sewed her any clothing. We have such an amazing supply of second hand clothing that she wants for nothing. I hope she likes these. The bottoms are not really solid blue but a smaller check pattern than the top.

Its quarter to 2 in the morning. The kitchen is a mess but I am going to bed. By now my husband is on the road coming home to us. 'Christmas is coming/It's practically here'

Saturday, December 23, 2006

And Another One Down

Okay so it is a bad picture... but you get the idea. It is 1:45am and I am finished Dean's Christmas present. It is a pair of charcoal grey fleece pants. He loves to lounge in cozy things. The flash makes the grey look much lighter than it really is. Really it is a pretty dark grey - Kaetlyn even likes it... I found this fleece in a box of fabric. I can't remember when I bought it or what I bought it for.... I had just the right amount... So, I am going to bed now. Only 4 more gifts to go...

Friday, December 22, 2006

One Down

Here is what my kitchen table looked like today. Remember that theory about having a craft room so that my kitchen table didn't look like this? yah.... there's too much stuff all over the table in there....heh
And here is the finished product. This is Kaetlyn's present - a new cover for her duvet. She is doing her room in an enchanted forest with greens and purples. I hope she likes it. The other side is dark green flannel. And see that stripe at the bottom of the back side that I flipped over so you could see? That is a stripe of flannel that I made her a nightshirt out of for Christmas when she was 4. She LOVED that nightshirt - it fit in with a makebelieve game she used to play with her friend Chris - they were whales, Sampson and Sally. I wonder if she will remember?

Okay so it is 10:00pm. So what? I'm finished the first one.... Time to start the next one...

Deck the Tree

After learning the song "Deck the Halls", Rhiannon has been begging to 'deck' the tree. We have been sick and things have just been happening a little behind schedule around here (can I postpone Christmas?). But last night, on the longest, darkest night of the year, we finally got around to decorating our tree. And here it is. I am not one for fancy matching decorations. Most of ours are gifts from special people or homemade. See those felt hearts? Each one has been decorated by one of my children - the lowest one has Rhiannon's wee hand from her second Christmas. Our tree means something to us. Too bad flash photography won't ever capture the magic of the soft Christmas lights in the dark.

So, Dean is off for Fernie. He left this morning at 4:45am. He'll be back on Christmas Eve. Pray for safe passage for my husband over the Crow's Nest Pass. I miss him already.

We are having a homemade Christmas. Everything we give each other has to be homemade. We do this from time to time to help us all get out of the commercial drive of Christmas. I have to say, though, that since cutting off the cable, that has been a lot easier to do. I sure don't miss the barrage of Christmas advertisements! But I digress. Here is my confessional. I don't actually have a single gift finished. Okay, that is not quite right. I don't actually have any gift started.... I have been sick and trying to deny it but by 8pm, I've been totally exhausted and achey. So that means that I now have to make 2 gifts a day. Do you think I can make a quilt in half a day? How do you feel about gift certificates....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Christmas Piano Recital

Tonight was the Christmas Concert for Rhiannon's piano class. She was SO excited. She lives to perform! She reminds me of my brother, John, who at 3, cried on the first day of Junior Sunday School because they didn't ask him to give a talk...

She arrived at the church where we have our recitals bouncing and beaming, hoping she was first on the program. But no, she was not first, she was, in fact, near the end of the 'young' half of the program. Which led to some lip pulling here...

But here she is finally playing her pieces. She played 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Flemmish Dance' perfectly. (don't you dig those purple boots?) And you should have seen the grin on her face when she was finished! Unfortunately you can't because the batteries are low in the camera and she had moved on by the time the cameral went off (grrrr).

I love Christmas Concerts but I sure don't mind now when my kids are not in school and I just have the piano one to go to....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gosh, Mom! You are so talented!

Isn't it wonderful when you child is 6 and all it takes is a couple of cut potatoes for them to think you are awesome?

Rhiannon was so eager to wrap the presents she has made for people so today I set her to making her own wrapping paper. I made a couple of potato stamps - a whimsical star, tree, candy cane and Christmas ball (looks like a pumpkin to me). As she watched me do this, she was SO excited and in her exuberance she says to me, "Gosh Mom! You are so talented!"

And look at that beautiful wrapping paper she is making... I think she is pretty talented, too!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Music

Couldn't resist adding this picture - taken during the snow storm yesterday afternoon. This is the view from the window by the computer. Isn't the lilac bush beautiful in the snow?

So, for most of my childhood my favourite Christmas Song was "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day". I liked it for the second to last verse: "Then peeled the bells more loud and deep/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/With peace on Earth, good will to men". The idea of peace on earth prevailing has always appealed to me. I have come to believe as I've gotten older that it is something that each of us must create - starting in our own hearts and in our homes. I no longer believe it is something that will be thrust upon us - I don't think it is possible that it would work that way.

But these days I have a new favourite. Its "Little Drummer Boy". I've always enjoyed that song - since I was a child. The last few years it has really been speaking to me. I think I finally 'get' the meaning of the song. More than a cute story about a poor drummer boy's imaginary encounter with baby Jesus, it is about (to me) the purpose of life. You know the song - the little drummer boy is invited to come to see the 'new born King' and bring his finest gift. He has nothing to bring that is 'fit to give a King' but asks to play his drum. He is permitted and then plays his very 'best for him' and is rewarded with a smile. It occurs to me that this is all that is required of any of us - not expensive gifts of fine things but simply to do what we love and what we are good at. I believe that our purpose in life is to be our best self. Not to try to be like anyone else but to bring what is inside of us, out - the be who we honestly and truly are - to do what we love and what brings us joy. Like the Little Drummer Boy. This is why we are born.

So that's my favourite Christmas song. What's yours and why?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More on a Winter's Dawn

I couldn't resist taking another picture of the winter dawn. (although as Rhiannon would point out, it is not yet winter...) Here is the view out of my kitchen window as I stood there cooking hashbrowns and eggs for Kaetlyn and her friend this morning. I love dawn - the sunrise.

What is it I love about dawn so much. I suppose it is the same thing I love about piles of fabric and piles of wool - it is the potential. Dawn is so quiet and still, there is a peace about it. A promise. Nothing has happened yet in the day. Everything is possible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Song In My Soundtrack

So this song has been inspiring me lately. I love Annie Lennox most of the time, anyways but these lyrics have been resonating with me. Especially this part " Give me the strength to carry on/Till I can lay this burden down/Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down yeah/Give me the strength to lay it down

I have really been thinking about that. The strength to lay a burden down. We think of needing strength to bare our burdens and we speak of someone 'baring their burdens well'. But what about strength to lay them down? It does require strength to lay down our burdens - our limiting beliefs, our habits of thinking, our worries and cares. They may be burdens, it is true but they are also what we are used to - the travel-worn passages in our brain - ingrained habits. What would happen if we were to have the strength to lay down our burdens? What would our lives be like? What would mine be like?

Its a great song - listen to it!


"Little Bird"

I look up to the little bird
That glides across the sky
He sings the clearest melody
It makes me want to cry
It makes me want to sit right down
and cry cry cry
I walk along the city streets
So dark with rage and fear
And I...
I wish that I could be that bird
And fly away from here
I wish I had the wings to fly away from here

But Mama I feel so low
Mama where do I go ?
Mama what do I know ?
Mama we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

For I am just a troubled soul
Who's weighted...
Weighted to the ground
Give me the strength to carry on
Till I can lay this burden down
Give me the strength to lay this burden down down down yeah
Give me the strength to lay it down

But Mama I feel so low
Mama where do I go ?
Mama we reap what we sow
They always said that you knew best
But this little bird's fallen out of that nest now
I've got a feeling that it might have been blessed
So I've just got to put these wings to test

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Dawn

Here is what this morning looks like at my house. The Black Locust trees - so artisitc in the way they grow they look beautiful without leaves even. And the elm trees with several empty bird nests. Will they return? And then the line of willows to the east - a pretty yellowy brown against the more somber winter colours. Here is the winter dawn with the pheasants squawking and running hurridly through the trees. Why are they always in a hurry?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Hats

Check out the new hats I crocheted last night and today. I had such fun! And I have a bunch more wool to make new things with!

Friday, December 08, 2006

His Royal Marmalade Majesty

So, he hasn't taken long to make himself at home. Maybe his point had nothing to do with annoying dogs or other cats.... maybe in his cat old age, he went looking for more comfortable accommodations - someone to let him sleep on the couch, maybe? On a feather pillow (so he could dream of all the birds he's killed?

You can get an idea here of his increased girth.

It didn't take him long to fit right in with the other felines in this house... a furry, cuddly mound of black, grey and orange...

But please, please tell me that these 13 hives she woke up with have nothing to do with the fat orange cat currently prowling the premises... She's only ever had 1 or 2 hives and they have always been from high emotions, not from environmental stuff... They're itchy and they're not going away....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Cat Came Back

Okay, so he didn't come back... I had to go and fetch him and force him to come back.... but he is back, nonetheless.

I feel a little weird about it. Like I've been snubbed by my own cat... We have had Tigger since he was 6 weeks old and we got him more than 11 years ago. He has been a constant in our changing lives. He was Erin's cat - well beloved by us all. He was born in the Toporchuk barn and was always a mainly outdoor cat. And always very loyal. Although he roamed far and wide, he was always home for dinner at 5pm. He loved it when we moved here and spent hours in the fields catching mouse after mouse - gorging on them until he would throw up....

Then something happened. He disappeared for a couple of days and then he was back... then it was a few more days.... and then a week... and then he didn't come back. His food sat on the back porch uneaten. I didn't feel like he was dead... We called and called and called and reported him missing to the lost cat registry. Nothing. We look for him around the neighbourhood. Nothing. 2 months go by and I still don't feel like he is dead but I am beginning to think that he has moved in with someone else...

Then I get a call from the cat registry. There is a cat near us. Someone has been feeding him for 2 weeks. Turns out it is him. He was just across the field from us. I have a hard time believing that after spending a lifetime outdoors, he got lost across a field and couldn't find his way home.... I have to believe that he chose to leave. Why? After all these years? Was it the new dog next door that was harrassing him? The black male cat that he was fighting with at night? Unlike him to back down in a fight with a dog or a cat... Was it the addition of Coppelia and Sampson? Was it that Sampson turned out to be a male, too? But we have had so many other cats - some male - and he has never left before; he always makes friends with them.

So it is kind of weird to have him here. He runs to the back door where we have always fed him when it is feeding time. But he is slow to come to his name which he always ran to before. It annoys me that other people took him in and fed him without trying to find out who he belonged to for so long - he's fat for the first time in his life - he's been fed a little too well... He has an obvious tattoo in his ear but no one called it in for 2 months to find out who he was. So, is it safe to let him outside again? Will he run away? Do I make him come back? What do you do when your cat wants to move out?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Website Fun

While creating my hippie hat blog I learned a couple of new things. I wanted to find a way of tracking how many people viewed my hats. So I discovered Google analytics. It is invisible to the blog visitor but tells me how many new visitors, return visitors and from where that the blog receives. It has been facinating! Thanks to all the people in my address book that I spammed and all of you, I have had people as far away as Singapore, Madras, India, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Antalya, Turkey, Madrid Spain, Austin, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina and places ALL OVER BC. My biggest day was 74 new viewers with a total of 111 page views. I have been facinated to watch it all unfold. And I sold a hat within a couple of hours of publishing the blog. Since then traffic has steadily decreased and who knows what will happen. I've exhausted all the goodwill of my friends and family who have diligently spread the word. Not sure what else to do for marketing. But they are there and I've sold a few locally from people seeing them on the blog.

And then, I was having so much fun watching the statistics from that blog, I inserted the same code into this blog. And that was truly inspiring and surprising. I have had readers from as far away as Waresly, UK and several in North Carolina (is that you, Vid?) And many places in the Okanagan, BC - small little places I had to look up like Alluvia. I hope you don't feel spied on. I am having great fun discovering all of this. And it was very easy to do - google gives very good instructions. I highly recommend it.

There you go, technical tips from the untechnical!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Parenting Conundrum

I have been having a discussion about parenting with some friends. Parenting - something we all agonize over... I was laying in bed this morning thinking about it - about all the parenting theories that I have learned about, all the things I have tried and struggled with and thinking about the thoughts of my friends. And this is what I have come up with....

You know, 20 years ago (or 22 years ago when I started studying it formally) when I first became a parent, Adlerian pyschology was all the rage. STEP (systematic training for effective parenting) was the accepted 'way' to parent loosely based on Behavioural Psychology. Books like "Children the Challenge" by Dreikers was a popular parenting standard. Rewards were encouraged and the shaping of children's behaviour was accepted. Training kids.

Now, there are books like "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn which bring up very good points about the downside of rewards. And books by Gordon Neufeld about attachment. And all the ways people parented before are wrong and there is a new way - let your children find their own boundaries and limits.

Its all so confusing. And all so misleading. There are two underlying themes - parents are responsible for how their kids behave and you can tell bad parenting by how the kids act and if you can figure out the right parenting technique, then everything will be perfect. Seems to add up to a lot of parenting guilt. The problem is that there is a kernal of truth in it all. It is true that how we treat our children affects them. It is true that there is a downside to rewards and that attachment is very important. And it is true that children need to know what is acceptable behaviour in society. It is actually true that we reward and punish our children in millions of subtle ways everyday with our approval and disapproval. It is unavoidable unless we are emotionless robots who respond exactly the same way for everything. And what would be the point of that? And that would actually damage them considerably. We all thrive on human interaction. We all need it. And we are all shaped by it for good and bad.

It seems to me that it all misses the point. There is one single thing that effects our children more than anything else. How we treat ourselves. How we love ourselves. How we respect our own boundaries. How strong we are in ourselves. This one thing affects EVERYTHING we do. We can have the perfect parenting 'technique' but it will fail if we don't love ourselves. Of course there is value in learning different parenting styles and techniques. But it is secondary. If we don't have the first it is all pointless. Why? Because love is the key. When we love and accept ourselves, we can love and accept our children. And if we judge and shame ourselves, no matter how hard we try with different techniques, we will do it to our children. We may not see it at the time, but it always comes out in the end.

So what is the point of all of this? That the most important thing we can do for our kids is to look after ourselves, to be honest about our boundaries; to respect ourselves. When we live in this environment, then the love and respect spill over to our children, our spouses, our friends. It all starts with the self. After that, choose the kind of parenting technique that resonates with you and works with your children. There is no one right way. Love is the way. There are no two parents that are exactly the same and there are no two children who are exactly the same.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Dream

Did I ever have a dream the other night. I dreamt there was a pregnant woman - hugely pregnant - 8 to 9 months. This man was angry at her. He was furious. He threw her down on the floor and ripped her clothes off (it wasn't a sexual thing - it was anger) and he started beating her with both hands, beating her in a frenzy on her pregnant stomache. She was writhing on the floor, laying on her side, trying to curl up into the fetal position. I could see that she was pregnant with twins. I was horrified and scared and I had to stop the man. I ran over and pulled him up off of her. He was like an automaton - he was now standing but his arms were continuing to move - in a chopping motion - like he was a robot and couldn't tell that he was no longer hitting her.

I woke up with my heart pounding.

As I was driving Rhiannon to her piano lesson, my mind went over the dream again and I was wondering what it meant and it suddenly came to me. I believe that in dreams we are actually every person in the dream - every person represents an aspect of myself. (which is really true in life as well) The pregnant woman represents things that are about to be brought into fruition by a higher part of myself - my dreams for my family and the Inner World School and the work I have to do in the world. She is obviously a good omen - many good things (twins) about to be born. The man represents a lower part of myself. A part concerned with survival. A part which has been freaking out since it got way too cold to wash windows. A part afraid that we will not survive the winter. And it was mercilessly beating that higher part of myself - the one about to birth great things - with fears, stress and worry. Interestingly the end of the dream shows that the beating was not actually malicious - but an automatic response.

As soon as I processed the dream, a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. It really is pointless to worry and project all those negative ideas and experiences into my present and the future. I only rob the moment of happiness and joy. Faith. I need to have faith in the birth of 'the twins'. I could see them moving vigorously inside her stomach. They were large and strong.

So I have been feeling better. I have a ways to go to let go of all my worry but I am doing better. And I will keep working on it. I always come back to this place but I am getting out of it faster and faster. One day I won't come here at all.

So thank you to all of you for your support. I sold a hat already - my favourite one that I almost kept for myself. That fills me with hope, too.

I love you all!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Okay, it's done

Well, I have been stationed in front of the computer for the last 3 days working on making a blog to sell my hats. I've fussed and I've experimented and I have learned A LOT - especially a lot about paypal - more than I ever wanted to know about making buttons.... Did you know you don't have to have a credit card for paypal? You don't! My kind brother made a beautiful banner for me. (I know you would have, too Bean - but he was here and he did it in a half hour) Go check it out at And most importantly, please spread the word to anyone that you know that might like a beautiful handmade hat. There are 16 hats up right now. I have pictures of 36 on my computer and a total of 46 hats available. I'll be updating daily but I think there is enough to get started now. I really appreciate everything you can do to let people know about it - more than an anonymous site asking for money.

Feedback is always appreciated. I'm proud of myself. I think it looks pretty good.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What I Have Been Up To

In case you have all been missing me.... this is what I have been up to - making hats! I am looking for places to sell them. Any recommendations of on-line places that don't require a credit card are very welcome!

These first two hats are crocheted with some beautiful Japanese wool. I loved crocheting with it! It is a little itchy so they are lined with grey micro fleece. I think the second one sold at the Artisan's Christmas Sale this last week end but I don't know for sure yet.

These next two are made from Lopi wool which is from Icelandic sheep. They have a longer than normal fibre which is softer than most wool and is very lustrous and takes die beautifully. These are both also lined with grey micro fleece.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lest We Forget

So, today I am too sick to go to the Remembrance Day Service as I usually do. But this topic has been on my mind. I finished reading "Stones From the River" late last night. I like reading novels about war at this time of year.

So on Remembrance Day, I do not honour our soldiers - survivors or fallen. Instead I pay witness to what we have required of your young men and women. I pay witness not to their fighting for my freedom but to the huge sacrifices they were called upon to make that no one should ever be called upon to make. I pay witness to their suffering. I weep for their suffering - the the terrible things they witnessed, that they had to do to survive, that were done to them.

What is most unbelievable to me is that this is still going on. How many soldiers and civilians have died in Iraq? Afganistan? This violence must stop. It must stop in our hearts, in our homes, in our communities, in our countries, in the world. We must come to value our own lives for the incredible gift that they are and value each other for the incredible, unique contributions that we each make. We need to love ourselves and love each other. We need to reach out in understanding. We need to finally learn how to compromise and then we might even start to be able to come to consensus. We need to realize that might is never right. Love is the power of creation. If we want to create peace, we need to love and value ourselves and then reach out in love to another - to the hardest one for us to love - they only sybolize what is hardest to love in ourselves.

So, for today, lest we forget the horrible, horrible results of judgement, blame and prejudice; lest we forget the innocent young men and women who lost their innocence because of this; lest we forget our own responsibility....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

13 years ago

13 years ago in the wee hours of the morning, this is what I was doing... I was labouring to bring my son into the world. It started in February of 1993 when I was reading an inspirational magazine about a couple who had served in a third world country and had done some amazing work with the people there. I thought to myself how I wished I had not had children so young and had done some of those things before I became a parent.

A voice came into my head and said, "That is not your mission. This is your mission - to be a mother and it is time to have another baby. It will be a boy and his name will be Andrew Philip." At the time I had undiagnosed thyroid disease and I hadn't had my period since getting pregnant with Kaetlyn. Yet within the week (Feb 7 to be exact) I became pregnant. I trusted that moment that I had and I knew that it was him. People would pat me on the head and say of course I wanted a son after 2 daughters - that really bugged me - what would be wrong with having 3 daughters? All the baby stuff I had was pink anyways... but I knew it was him. During my pregnancy I went through tremendous evolutions. I call 1993 my anti-institution year. In researching birthing possibilities in Winnipeg, I discovered that birthing rooms were rare (they were the norm in Victoria where Kaetlyn was born) and that they still routinely gave women episiotomies and demorol during labour. I was detirmined to not have a repeat of the experience I had with Erin... So I went to some information meetings on midwifery and knew that this was what I wanted - to have him at home with a midwife.

And an angel came into my life. Marla Gross refused to take my power in the birthing experience. She continually returned it to me. I devoured books on birthing (Immaculate Misconceptions comes to mind). Her kindness, her love, her gentle soul was exactly what I needed. I healed from wounds I didn't even know I had. I took my power back from the medical community. Here she is with Andrew just minutes after he was born. Thank you, Marla. I won't ever forget you. She was also the first homeschooler that I got to know really well. She pointed me in the direction of great books about homeschooling and I began homeschooling Erin just 7 days before Andrew was born. I took my power back from the school system, too and even though Erin and Kaetlyn eventually returned to school, I have never given them (schools) the power that I once did.

After Andrew was born, I went to church only twice. His blessing in church was the last time I went. I loved his blessing. A motley crew of men who were on the fringes of the church because they were judged. A great man who had wore an earring and so was shunned. A simple man who never learned to read and grew up in the northern bush of Manitoba. A gay man who stuggled to reconcile his sexual orientation and being a Mormon. Great men, all - men who had never been asked to participate in a blessing. They stood around my son on the day he was blessed. They cradled him in their large hands as his father gave him a name and a blessing. I love this image still and surely it was prophetic of his life - my non-mainstream boy.

Then just as surely as I knew it was he that was coming, I knew that I did not want to raise him in this church. I knew I did not want to have these ideas of patriarchy - I did not want him to grow up with these ideas of being a man - in a church where women are often (routinely) silenced and marginalized. With the idea that having power is having 'power over'. His blessing was the last day I attended church. My dad sometimes brings up how Andrew should be advancing through the ranks of the priesthood, etc. I always laugh and I know this upsets him and I don't mean to be disrespectful of his beliefs but he doesn't realize that this is exactly why I left - I didn't want my son to be involved in any of that.

Andrew's conception/pregnancy/birth was a huge turning point in my life. My heart is full of emotion as I write these things. I am so grateful to those experiences, to Marla and to others who have supported me in my journey. I know this will be hard for some of my sisters to read. But I wanted you to know that I did not 'fall away'. I left on my own terms because it was right for me. When I was a mormon, I was a mormon fully. And then I left.

But back to my boy Drew... His birth was a family affair. Erin and Kaetlyn were both there. My friend Gudrun Owens came as well to look after them. I laboured and birthed in my bedroom - which was the largest master bedroom I have ever had in a house. I had my old futon on the floor covered in a shower curtain (that is on the bottom of my linen closet and I won't let Dean throw it away) and a sheet. I walked and paced and hung on the door - that felt the best and then I pushed him in 3 pushes without doing any of those breathing exercises and without counting to 10 while I pushed (which popped all the blood vessles in my face with Kaetlyn...) Just 3 easy pushes while on my hands and knees and out he slid onto the futon. I wanted to be the first to touch him but I couldn't move my arms from the strain of pushing and so he landed on the futon before I could 'catch him'. He weighed 8lbs 14 oz. And he was beautiful. The most wonderful thing about having him at home was getting into bed after the midwife cleaned us both up and nursing him in my own bed and I fell right to sleep (I could never sleep in the hospital...)

Erin and Kaetlyn adored him. Here he is with Kaetlyn the next day. I couldn't find her anywhere and then I found here here, in bed with him, singing him songs while he slept. Her baby brother.

And here he is with Erin and Jasmin a couple of days later. Jasmin, although only a kitten herself (Erin's 7th birthday present two weeks earlier) bonded with Andrew. Kaetlyn brought her into the room when I was birthing the placenta and I think those primal smells triggered something in her. Most of the pictures of Drew as a baby have her somewhere in it. She used to sit and lick his head. I could see her confusion as his hair got longer... (how can my baby have long hair? I'm a short hair cat...) After his birth, she attacked strangers who came to our house (I had to shut her up in a room). She settled down after she got spayed...

Here is my photo essay on my boy growing up...

Early signs of his musicianship?

making us all laugh...

His first steps (and that is his dad, Phil)

An accidentally over-exposed photo but I love it - him sleeping with images of his naked bike ride earlier that afternoon.

My playful boy... throwing leaves at his mother taking the picture...

With a friend at a homeschooling activity - learning to build a shelter.

Sitting on the ice sculpture he designed and helped carve (its a dragon)

With last year's birthday present - his first guitar.

this summer

I love having a son. I am so proud of the young man he is growing up to be - compassionate, kind with the strength of his convictions. It is impossible to put Andrew in a box. He insists on being true to himself no matter what. It is an honour to be his mother. Thank you, Drew.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Well, there has been a lot going on this week - some rather big things happening in my little life.

1. Erin is home. She arrived home on yesterday morning from Montreal. She is here to stay for awhile. And when I say home, I don't mean in our house, but in Vernon - back at her old apartment. The whole Montreal thing was too much for her, too far away, too much pressure, too many things to sort out all on her own. So she decided to give that up for now and come home, recuperate, save some money and go to Vancouver. I don't know if she is going to persue fashion design there or not. Anyways, it is good to have my girl home.

2. My brother Layne is living with us now. He arrived from Calgary late Wednesday night and already has 3 job interviews for today and tomorrow. Its good to have him here, if not a little crowded. Right now he is sleeping in the living room and slowly we are getting things organized and finding space for his stuff. Erin also brought more stuff to put in the basement (how did that work? I thought she would be TAKING some of her stuff OUT...). I'm starting to feel like our house is bulging at the seams... But it is a blast having Layne here. He and Dean get along so well and he is so tidy, it is great to have another adult around to drive kids places, wash the dishes, (he cleaned under all my appliances, even... and scrubbed the stove...) and just to have my brother close and to talk and share our lives. I love that. (any more of you want to move the Okanagan? hehe)

It is a little threatening to have someone living in your house. It is immediately different from a visit. When it is a visit, I pull out the stops, clean the house, make special food and devote all my time to the visit - put everything else on hold. But this is the real deal - what most people don't see. Kaetlyn and Dean fighting, laundry undone, the kitchen messy and life.... just life... the way my life is most of the time. Well, my brother is still here so I guess it can't be that bad.... but I feel vulnerable...good thing he is such a great brother!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Emily Carr and the philosophy of learning

On my mini-vacation to Vancouver before Thanksgiving, I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw their Emily Carr exhibit. (It is true the always have Emily Carr stuff there but this was an exhibit of her lifetime of work in the whole downstairs of the gallery. Of course I had learned about Emily Carr in high school. About all I could remember is that she was a painter and she was from BC and there is an art school named after her…So I was interested to go and learn something about her. Alongside her work, they had many Haida and Tsimpsian artifacts that inspired her work. They had the gallery laid out so that you followed her work in chronological order.

Confronted with the body of her work, I was quickly drawn in. Mostly because I could see and feel that she had the same love affair with the north that I do. She captured the mystical landscapes, the haunting, quickly vanishing aboriginal presence – the memory of greatness… (before European contact there were 100,000 Haida in settlements around the Haida Gwaii [Queen Charlotte Islands] by the early 1900’s there were 600 left…). I could tell that she too was touched to the depths of her soul by the beauty of that land, that it changed her forever. It re-awoken that yearning in me for my northern home – for the rugged, overwhelming beauty of the Skeena River valley. When I looked at her paintings, I had that same, reverent, wild ecstasy that I felt out of doors where I grew up. Man is just a mere fleck on the face of the earth up there.You can feel the power of nature, of the elements, of the seasons, of the earth. And she captured the sense of loss of the guardians of that magical place, the tragic waste and the misunderstanding of the nobility of the west coast natives by the early white settlers and missionaries. I can understand her passion to preserve it, to capture some feel of it. And my heart ached and I missed my home…I loved the Emily Carr exhibit. I brought home some postcard prints of my favourite paintings and an art calendar for next year to hang in our homeschooling room.

So you want to know what ‘unschooling’ is? (well maybe you don't but I'm going to tell you anyways....hehe) This is what it is. In school I learned what I was taught about Emily Carr but I did not EXPERIENCE Emily Carr. I did not know that she understood a part of my soul, that she felt similarly to how I feel about the area I grew up in. Now I have learned something about Emily Carr and I am very interested in learning more. My appetite has been whetted. The philosophy of ‘unschooling’ is that any learning that is not personal and meaningful is only an illusion. Sure, we can memorize facts and regurgitate them. But that day in Vancouver, I connected with Emily Carr. As a homeschooling parent, this is the type of experience that I seek for my kids, without and expectations. Perhaps a far better word to describe ‘unschooling’ is ‘child led’ learning. We follow no curriculum in this house, we strive to follow our hearts and I strive to support my children in following their interests and passions. And I have learned to trust that they really do learn all the important things when they want to and then they learn it quickly and there is no struggle between us. Like Andrew. His printing didn’t improve since he left school at the end of grade 3. I worried that no one would ever be able to read his scrawl. Then one day this summer, he left me a note and his printing was beautiful – like an artist. So all those hours kids spend doing ‘penmanship’? Unnecessary for him (and I would guess for most). When he really wanted to print neater, he did.

Anyways, there is my experience of Emily Carr and a bit of my holiday that I wanted to share with you...and my explanation of how we homeschool… in case you were wondering ;-) I was just going to tell you about seeing Emily Carr but it just illustrated how we really learn so well... you got the full meal deal...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Am Amazing - the workshop

So my workshop yesterday was brilliant. 4 brilliant women attended and it was just so awesome. It felt SO good to do that again. You know, I really am a good facilitator/counsellor. Why don't I do more of that? And I got a chance to think about that yesterday...

We talked alot about beliefs. Those deep - even unconscious - beliefs that we hold that we would never consciously choose or agree with. And we talked a lot about moving past simply recognizing it but actually changing our limiting beliefs. It was a wonderful, enriching day. And it happened thanks to Monique, who made sure single-handedly that there was more than just me and her there! People shared and enjoyed what I had to share. And I got to think a lot about how amazing I am and what my beliefs are that hold me back from being who I could be and doing what I could do. While preparing, I found this wonderful website that was so inspiring to me. She's another woman from Vernon, mother to young children and I thought, why aren't I doing that? I could do that... A very good question... why aren't I doing that? Sharing who I really am - what I am passionate about - what I deeply believe. That fear that who I am, really am at the core of myself - is not okay. But I am okay - more than okay - I'm amazing!

I lasted 2 days on 25 peeps... not quite hall-of-fame material. It was silly while it lasted and thanks to everyone who 'clicked' on me! They encouraged me to try a more 'attention-getting' photo and try again... I think I'll pass...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wasting Time....

I have been having this dull feeling lately like I am wasting time. That I am not using my time to the fullest. Sometimes I feel like I am stuck, spinning my wheels, never quite able to make it to the next level. Actually, I know I am wasting my time. I know I spend hours everyday wasting time. Its true, I've been 2 years without cable tv and that has stopped me from doing THAT to waste time. Now it is the computer... I have this strong feeling that there is SOMETHING that I am supposed to be doing... I am not sure what... but I think if I stopped wasting time long enough, I would figure it out. Something bigger than canning peaches, tomatoes and applesauce (not that that isn't important, too - it is) but something in the world.

I came across this most beautiful website today and I thought, why aren't I doing THAT? What keeps me from really presenting myself this way - from really, truly believing in myself this way? Something in me is terrified of success. It is time to face the dragon. Eyeball to eyeball. I really am amazing. Why am I so afraid of that? Why don't I do what I know I need to do until it is either too late or almost too late? Why? Or maybe it doesn't even matter why. I just need to stop. I am breaking out of these shackles. I can feel it. I am emerging...

It is very timely for my workshop at the Inner World School this Saturday. I really need to hear this and focus on this myself... Come and join me. Its really going to be great...

Topic: I am Amazing

You are amazing, incredible, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, generous, wonderful. Do you believe it? Do you feel it? What keeps us from living a life that is incredible, compassionate and wonderful—that we feel passionate about? We are often operating from beliefs deeply, unconsciously held that we would never consciously agree with. Spend the day learning about how to uncover these beliefs and change them and affirming all that is wonderful, amazing and magical about YOU!

Date: Saturday, October 28
Time: 11:00am—4:00pm
Cost: $50 ($5 for members)
Facilitator: Andrea Clarke

To register e-mail or call 250-503-5416

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

25 Peeps

Okay, so it might be a little crude... Nevertheless, I am on with a link to my blog with the same picture that I have on my profile. I will manage to stay on 25p if people click on me and follow the link to my blog. So, I probably won't last long as I can't compete with boob shots but check me out while I am there... and click on me....

A Treat!

Well, I had such a treat this week! On Monday I got a call from Jordan asking if he could come that night and stay at my house as he had some work to do in Kelowna and Vernon and bring Sarah and Adriel, too! Well, of course I said YES! And so they blew into town and into our home. It was just so nice having them here and getting to see Adriel. I don't know if I ever met such a happy baby!? He never cried not even once, the whole time he was here. He is so smiley and talkative! Thank you so much, Sarah, for bringing him to see me!

For me, my siblings are divided in half. There is the first half that goes down to Laura. With them I had normal sibling relationships - we fought and we played and they bugged me and I bossed them and we got on each other's nerves. Then, after a 3 year break, came Jordan just before I turned 12. And it was different. He was just so sweet and cute and he never bugged me or got on my nerves. I can remember holding his little hand in mine as we went for walks. I thought he was the cutest, sweetest boy ever and it is true that I was not all that keen on Martha's arrival as how could anyone possibly beat the sweet cuteness of Jordan? But of course, Martha was sweet and cute and I loved her and then there was Evan who I adored like my own child. I used to send them little presents of balloons and pencils from BYU when I went and I missed them terribly. And then when I lived in Richmond, I used to have them over for sleep overs. And they were just so much fun. Really I have never minded being the biggest sister to so many siblings. They are each so lovable in their own way, I truly wouldn't trade any of them in for any other experience.

So it was so fun to have Sarah and Jordan here - having a sleep over after soooo many years. All grown up and handsome and beautiful. I dragged out old pictures they made me and the chunks of wood that Jordan nailed into a plane and gave to me and I am sure I bored them with all my reminiscing and talking about who looks like who. But they graciously indulged me.

What a treat!

Monday, October 23, 2006

This Week's Happy Song

Okay, in the spirit if lightening up, here is this week's happy song. I mean, how can you listen to Crash Test Dummies and NOT smile? I can't.

Here On Earth (I'll Have My Cake)

by Crash Test Dummies

Some folks say that life is just a veil of tears
Not me man I can't pack enough into these years
I don't care if it's spring summer winter or fall
Make no fuss about the seasons, 'cause I like 'em all

Here on earth I'll have my cake
Gonna eat it too, make no mistake
'Cause if it's a question of to be or not to be
I'll put on my boots and go see what I can see

My grandpa, well a good Christian life he led
Worked like a dog just to put a roof over his head
He said that when he died he'd get his reward
'Cause heaven's a place where you don't pay room & board

When I die, I hope I don't die too slow
But slow or quick, I hope heaven is the place I go
Old St. Pete's gonna serve me my pie in the sky
And I'll say "Pete, a side of ice cream, if you don't mind."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Funny Stories From My House

Story 1 - Getting Babysat by Big Brother

Okay, so I am helping Rhiannon clean her room and I ask her how her brother was at babysitting her the night before. She says he was good and then tells me some stories about their evening and happily tells me that instead of reading her a bedtime story (as I had admonished him to), he promised her a slurpy instead.... I don't think she was supposed to tell me that...

Story 2 - The Bathmat Saga

So, my family has this thing about bathmats. They seem incapable of picking them up when they are wet and hanging them over the edge of the tub or the shower door so they dry thoroughly and don't get all moldy and stinky and so they are dry for the next person or so you don't get your socks wet when you unknowingly step on them... Anyways, Dean was stepping in for a shower and was straightening out the thoroughly damp bathmat in front of the shower, left there by Andrew. I tell him to hang if over the shower door when he is done so it can dry. "Hang it?" he says incredulously like it was such a weird and unheard of thought. "Yes, over the door" and he agrees.

That was yesterday. This morning I step into the shower after Kaetlyn. And there is the bathmat hanging in the shower from a little hook. Yes, I mean inside the shower. Obviously Dean had hung it there. And what is even weirder is that Kaetlyn had showered WITH the bathmat hanging IN the shower. And this is not a bathtub with a shower head above. This is a little shower stall. Isn't that kind of gross? To shower with a bathmat? Now the bathmat was really wet. I gave up and put it in the laundry....

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lightening Up

New shoes are always symbolic to me. They symbolize stepping in a new way in the world. Shoes symbolize my personal power - how I move in the world and new shoes symbolize a refreshment of all of that. I have been wearing the same brand of runners for the last few years since I began walking again. My last pair are very worn out... So I decided to get something different. So, at Sport Chek yesterday evening, getting Rhiannon's soccer cleats for indoor soccer, I saw a wall of discontinued shoes. I tried on many different pairs. After all my knees have been through, how my runners fit is really important to me. I fell in love with these Adidas ClimaCool Revolutions. They are so comfortable. And the cool thing really works for my notoriously hot feet - there are vents in the bottom and when you walk, gushes of cool air push up on the sweaty bottoms of your feet. (I highly recommend them to fellow BFS sufferers)

So, enough about the shoes. As I walk freshly into my life with my 9.6oz runners, I am endeavouring to 'lighten up'. It is easy to get bogged down with all the 'stuff' of life. Winter is coming - less daylight, less money. Erin is struggling - really struggling - in Montreal. I'm struggling to get classes going at the Inner World School. So much stuff always going on with my family. We're still not unpacked fully from moving. My house is not how I want it. And I worry. (I had a birthday card once that said those born in July are not worriworts.. that is so not true of me!)

So time to lighten up. If I'm not having fun, there is no point. And happiness and joy allow me to flow with my life. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Worry and negative thinking only gets me stuck. Stuck, and it takes all my effort to do anything. I am so grateful to my friend, Bozenka, who is a good enough friend to kick me in the butt sometimes and tell me I need to lighten up.

So I am stepping lightly into my new life.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Shadows in my Kitchen

Well, I now have 21 quarts of tomatoes, 21 quarts of peaches and 19 pints of applesauce and innumerable pints of salsa and a whole bunch of jam and jelly and many bags full of dried fruit (read plums) and 36 bags of frozen fruit. I love the way my cold storage room is looking! And I have about 50 lbs of green tomatoes left to go and an apple orchard that I have hardly put a dent in... I actually had to buy more pint size jars last night.

Kaetlyn has spent a lot of time in the kitchen with me canning tomatoes, making salsa and freezing plums. I don't think she knows how much it means to me that she is there with me. There are shadows in my kitchen when she is there with me. Just as clear in my mind as this kitchen is the kitchen in Terrace where I learned to can beside my mother and my grandmother. I remember when they taught me how to blanche tomatoes and peaches to get the skins off.

Is it any wonder I see the Okanagan as some kind of mecca? Every year at the end of August, beginning of September, my dad would drive to the Okanagan and come how with loads of fruit. I can remember our garage full to over flowing with cases of peaches and tomatoes and cucumbers. I would eat and eat peaches. Like an addict. And my mom would can and can and can. A years supply of fruit and vegetables. My paltry 21 quarts is nothing to what she used to do - she measured hers in the 100's... And we worked together, my grandmother, my mother and I. The pressure canner going constantly all day with one load or another. I can remember we used the deep fryer full of water to blanche the vegetables (I use my pasta pot).

And I love the sense of continuity as Kaetlyn and I work together and I teach her how to blanche peaches and tomatoes and how we taste and season the salsa together. I can blissfully caught in the line of women I am decended from with my daughter in line after me....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

If My Life Had a Soundtrack - the sounds of my soul

Well, I am still wallowing under a mountain of fruit. Everyday I find new ways of processing plums and cooking zucchini. Thank you whoever left that most delicious zucchini loaf recipe. Everyone LOVED it! I'm going to try to make some more today. After I make some apple sauce... and some apple butter.... while I frantically get ready to go to Vancouver on Wednesday. It is hard to leave all this produce. I worry about it being any good when I get home. What if someone comes and picks all the apples? And I also have another batch of tomatoes to can... And suppers to make for my family while I am gone... and bread to bake and muffins to make to take with me...

But anyways, here is my next installment in 'If My Life Had a Soundtrack'

I have been thinking about the music in my life - music that I have loved. Some of it would have to be children's church music. I started teaching music to children when I was 12. Every Sunday. I was the Jr. Sunday School choirester before they changed all that. Then I was the Primary choirester in Prince George and Richmond as a young wife and mother. And again in Sidney. I spent a total of 7 years teaching music to young children. I loved it. I loved the kids and I love singing and I loved sharing my love of singing. There are some of those songs that have stayed with me - ones that express joy. When I am really happy, nothing quite expresses what is in my heart like 'Lift Up Your Voice and Sing' or 'I Think the World is Glorious'. And none quite express my yearning for and my faith in spiritual connection like 'How Firm a Foundation' or 'A Child's Prayer'. These are songs in my life's soundtrack. A repeated theme.

When I was 18 I heard Cat Stevens for the first time. My friend Karine Towers, who knew my love of poetry, played him for me as I drove her home one time. And for my first year away from home at BYU, I had this song on my first tape to play on the 'ghetto blaster' I got for my 18th birthday. I love Cat Stevens' music - because of the lyrics. HIs searching for meaning in life echoes my own. There are many of his songs that will be in my life's soundtrack but this would have to be the first one. I still love it as much as I did the first time I heard it.

On The Road To Find Out by Cat Stevens
Well I left my happy home to see what I could find out
I left my folk and friends with the aim to clear my mind out
Well I hit the rowdy road and many kinds I met there
Many stories told me of the way to get there

So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to find out
Well in the end Ill know, but on the way I wonder
Through descending snow, and through the frost and thunder

Well, I listen to the wind come howl, telling me I have to hurry
I listen to the robin's song saying not to worry
So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
Theres so much left to know, and Im on the road to findout

Then I found myself alone, hopin' someone would miss me
Thinking about my home, and the last woman (one) to kiss me, kiss me
But sometimes you have to moan when nothing seems to suit ya
But nevertheless you know you're locked towards the future

So on and on you go, the seconds tick the time out
There's so much left to know, and I'm on the road to findout
Then I found my head one day when I wasn't even trying
And here I have to say, cause there is no use in lying, lying

Yes the answer lies within, so why not take a look now?
Kick out the devils sin, pick up, pick up a good book now

from Tea for the Tillerman

Monday, September 25, 2006

Photo Essay on the Beginning of Fall

After I spent the day doing this....

And my food storage room shelves were starting to look like this....

And the evening sky was looking like this between the trees in our back yard where the Linden tree's yellow leaves glowed in the gloaming....

We gathered all the fallen wood around the yard and our sticks together and did this....

And sat in the firelight's glow and talked and sang "fire's burning, fire's burning, draw nearer..."

Happy Fall

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Successful Day

Well, I filled my fruit dryer with sliced up plums, made 16 pints of salsa and 6 1/2 pints of red plum jelly and had soup simmering in the slow cooker all day. And then I went out to watch Redfish play at Monashee's last night and managed to stay all 3 sets (although my ears were plugged for most of the last 2 sets - I do feel a bit conspicuous, sitting there with my ears plugged...hehe. I danced with my friend Monique. An almost perfect day.

But the red plum jelly didn't set so I am about to open all those bottles and pour them back into the pot and add some pectin (the recipe said that plums have enough of their own pectin... not these ones, I guess). This is my first attempt at making jelly... ever. And then I will move on to the peaches and apples. I have secured a promise from Dean to help me make applesauce today...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Mountain of Fruit

Well, I don't know if anyone is reading my blog... (did you know that I LOVE comments?) In case you can't tell, I have been listening to a lot of CBC radio. I have been doing that while working in my kitchen. Working in the kitchen can be a rather meditative, thoughtful thing to do for me (if I do it at all). While doing those things that don't use up so much of my brain, I like to listen to thought provoking things like books on tape or CBC radio. And there has been a lot to do in the kitchen lately. Still trying to find things to do with zucchini. And starting to do things with apples. And finishing things with plums... I think I am going to learn how to make jelly. The boxes of empty jars in my food storage room are getting empty and the shelves are getting more and more full of beautifully coloured salsas and jams and tomatoes and peaches.

Here is my latest favourite zucchini recipe from Simply Recipes. It was a huge hit with everyone... except Rhiannon. I didn't peel or seed the tomatoes and I used organic chicken stock. I also didn't add the tobasco sauce. And I would concur with the comments (although I don't know Wolfgang Puck) that it is the best vegetable soup I have ever had!

Vegetable Soup with Sweet Basil Recipe


This recipe comes from Wolfgang Puck's mother. It's the best vegetable soup I've ever had.

Preparation time: 1 hour

2 small leeks, white part only
1 large potato, peeled
1 small onion
2 stalks celery
1 medium zucchini
12 green beans
2 medium carrots, peeled
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
2 quarts chicken stock (or 2 qts water, 4 bouillion cubes, a pinch of thyme, and 1/2 bay leaf OR you can use vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
4 to 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
4 medium garlic cloves
30 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A few drops of Tabasco sauce

Cut the leeks, potato, onion, celery, zucchini, green beans, and carrots into 1/4 inch diced cubes.

In a 6-quart stockpot, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the water. Add the vegetables and sauté over medium-low heat until all the water evaporates. Do not brown the vegetables.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, put the tomatoes, basil, garlic, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until pureed.

Stir the puree into the cooked soup. Do not let the soup return to a boil. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Serve the soup hot or cold from a tureen or in individual bowls.

Serves 6.

Note from Wolfgang Puck: His mother only uses water, because her vegetables are peak-of-the-season, just-picked, and therefore full of flavor, but you can use stock if you like. Pistou, the puree of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil in this recipe, is a traditional French condiment that adds a burst of flavor just before serving.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If My Life Had a Soundtrack - the beginning

So, if my life had a soundtrack, the very first song after my 'musical awakening' at age 14 (1979) would be Billy Joel's 'My Life' from his 52nd St Album (in the days of albums - I bought it for my brother Doug for his 13th birthday and now I own it on CD). For me, the lyrics matter far more than the music. So here are the lyrics

My Life by Billy Joel

Got a call from an old friend
We used to be real close
Said he couldn't go on the American way
Closed the shop, sold the house
Bought a ticket to the West Coast
Now he gives them a stand-up routine in L.A.

I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm alright
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone

I never said you had to offer me a second chance
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
I still belong, don't get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time

They will tell you, you can't sleep alone in a strange place
Then they'll tell you, you can't sleep with somebody else
Ah, but sooner or later you sleep in your own space
Either way it's okay, you wake up with yourself

I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm alright
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone

I never said you had to offer me a second chance
I never said I was a victim of circumstance
I still belong, don't get me wrong
And you can speak your mind
But not on my time

I don't care what you say anymore, this is my life
Go ahead with your own life, and leave me alone

I am sure this was an anthem for many angry teenagers at the time. I know my best friend in grade 9 left her 45 playing over and over on her stereo for her parents to find when she ran away. But I was not an especially angry teen and I never ran away (although I did think of it). But the description of a drive to live ones own life resonated with me then and they still do (only I'm not angry about it anymore). It is one of the things that has compelled me - driven me - in my life - the need to live my own life on my own terms. I have belted this song out on the 'top of my lungs' many times (but its been awhile now). I think I'll put that CD on right now while I do the dishes...