Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reflections on my Trip

Here are some things that stand out in my mind.

While at Jelena's who lives on the corner of a busy road in a less priviledged part of the city: The trees were in blossom all around where she lived - I am not sure what kind of tree they are. They look like a cherry tree but the blossoms are much more full and compacted together than cherry trees around here. And the blossoms are very pink. Maybe they are an ornamental cherry tree or Japanese cherry tree? Anyways, the homes were rather ugly around there but Jelena has created a magical place in her little yard - with beautiful lanterns hanging and flowers planted. An ugly blue container van turned onto the street. The blossoms rained down on the van and he left a swirl of blossom petals in the air behind him. That captured it all for me. I was reminded of the beauty and power of nature to overcome ugliness. Especially there on the coast where it is so verdant. Despite 2, 000, 000 people living there, nature abounds and you get the feeling that if everyone left all of a sudden, it wouldn't be long and there would be no sign of the people left.

On Grandma B: It was very good to see her and she seemed quite happy to me. We visited her everyday for a little bit - about an hour each time. On the second visit we also got to meet Jenny which was very nice. Grandma was telling us about how she avoids sitting next to this one woman who at one time ran her fingers through her jello. Grandma told her that 'you don't run your fingers through other people's food' to which the woman replied 'I just did'. So Grandma avoids her. At this point in the story, she says very loudly, that 'life is too short to sit by a pain in the neck like that'. I don't know. It made me laugh inside to hear my 89 year old grandma saying that. Life is too short, indeed! I think she is enjoying all the familial attention that she is getting right now. She sure enjoyed telling everyone that we were 'hers'. I am going to try to write her a letter every month. It is such a little effort and I know that she will enjoy it.

On the Okanagan Valley: As I drove over the Connector and down into the valley, it was clear and sunny. I could see to the far, far side of the valley that encompasses not only the Okanagan but also the Shuswap. I could see the snow caps of the Monashees and the Selkirks gleaming and majestic in the distance. The trees stretched endlessly between. I was overcome by the awesome beauty of nature and this incredible place that I live - the view of time. It is easy to imagine the hard rock pushed up with the rockies and then the volcanic hills, blunted by the ice age - such a miraculous creation, this valley where I live. From the view up there, I can sense the ancient-ness of the land. I imagine people seeing this valley for the first time. I feel so cradled and protected in the mountains. I love where I live. And I wonder how much longer we can go on like this and what it will take for us to find away to live in harmony with nature instead of at war with it or even 'in dominion' of it. We think of ourselves as separate from nature - above it or better than it. We have raped and pillaged the earth and we have not yet realized that all this we have done unto ourselves. When will we? We are destroying the air we need to breathe and polluting the water we need to drink. I remember travelling as a child and stopping at mountain fed streams to drink deeply of the sweet, cold water. We wouldn't dream of doing that now... Such big changes are needed. What are we going to do?


Upon reviewing Laura's map, she indeed did not say that Cambie met Oak. In my over-tired state, I certainly did mis-hear and mis-read. I get so stressed out driving in Vancouver, anyways. I find the lanes so narrow and the traffic so fast whizzing by on either side of me. I got their eventually, anyways.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Well, we are here. I am using Grandma B's computer right now. So far we are having fun. We travelled here with my good friend Bozenka with the van loaded to the 'rafters' with food she had prepared for her daughter, Jelena's, birthday. After arriving at Jelena's and visiting for a bit, Kaetlyn, Rhi and I went over to Laura's who had made herself the most delicious birthday cake! More like a chocolate omlette! You should post the recipe, Laura! We got to see her newly organized room which really does look good and shows off her furniture!

Then Laura gave me the worst directions I have ever had to get to Grandma B's. Like she said to take Cambie to Oak st. (and don't even think of denying it, Laura, I have it in writing!) When I arrived at Marine Dr on Cambie, I realized that Cambie ran the same direction as Oak. Funny thing about parallel lines... they never meet... But then I was across from Richmond so I knew how to get onto the highway headed for the border (and White Rock).... kind of.... In a round about way, calling on my knowledge of Richmond from when I lived there 18 years ago, I managed. Then her instructions included things like 'and then you get to that gas station'... She didn't mention which way you turn.... I sat there trying to remember in the two other times I have driven it in the last 10 years which one looked more familiar... Of course, I took the wrong one... Eventually we ended up at Grandma B's. We got to visit with Mom until even later and then again in the morning. She left quickly after showing us all 'tricks' we need to know.

We saw Grandma B later. We arrived just as she was finishing lunch. She looked pretty good to me and it was good to hear that her mind was all there. Rhiannon drew her a very detailed picture of a giraffe and we visited for about an hour.

Then we were off to Jelena's again for her birthday celebrations. Kaetlyn and I spent the afternoon helping to prepare the food. Delicious, gourmet food. Little tarts and quiches and salmon and Croatian dumplings and poached pears and salad. We had a great time. Not such a great sleep, though as all 3 of us tried to squish into the double bed sized Murphy bed... But here we are ready for another day. It is cloudy today but I think we will try to make it to the ocean. Right now Kaetlyn is straightening her hair, Rhiannon is playing with her VTech and I am just finishing my blog...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ballet Jorgen

Tonight was the last concert of our NOCCA series. It was Ballet Jorgen dancing Cinderella. Rhiannon and I switched our usual afternoon tickets for an evening show. We were right in the front row. A friend got tickets given to her and so she invited Kaetlyn so we all got to go. I loved it. The music was good (not an orchestra but the next best thing) and the dancing was good. It was funny. The step sisters were hilarious! He adapted more ancient versions of the Cinderella story than the disney version so it was interesting - like the fairy came out of a seed for a tree. They had these interesting metal trees that they danced with that looked really cool, too. I thought of so many things to talk to my little dance class about as I watched.

And I remembered while I watched just how much I love ballet - the grace and the beauty and the tremendous control. It occured to me how hard it must be to dance while holding a 100 lbs over your head. And I love these more modern ballets that are more expressive. Of course it was not the panoramic epic of Swan Lake but it was very enjoyable just the same.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Well, I am done cleaning the 'old house'. It is empty now. Just the bench seat for the van is in the garage. Dean can put that back in the van next week. Kaetlyn and Drew were not quite that thrilled to be spending yet ANOTHER week end moving. Oh well, it is done now. I went back one last time to get the last things and to say good bye. It is sad to think that is the last house that Erin lived at home in. I will go tomorrow and take some of my plants out of the garden - my herbs and some strawberries, I think.

This old house has storm windows and the lady who lived here before siliconed them all in. Sheesh! I finally wrestled one of the ones in my bedroom off. I've been working on it off and on for days! A contractor is coming to take all the storms off on Monday morning but it is over 20 again today and it just gets too stuffy upstairs when you can't open a window! There is a wonderful cool breeze blowing through the house right now. Such a weight lifted to have that house finished. Now I can be fully here. Just here. Unpack, organize, garden, tidy, live, enjoy.

I am supposed to be reading Memoirs of a Geisha for my on-line book club but I can't find it anywhere. I even checked my library account to see if I accidentally returned it but no. I have it. I guess it is time to go and look for it...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Coaching T-Ball and size 12 cleats...

Well, my insane spring schedule is beginning. Last night was the first night of Rhiannon's t-ball. I took the coaches training and am now a certified level 1 Community Coach. I have an NCCP number. Funny, eh? Now they don't call it T-Ball but that is what it is. Now it is called Lean-to-Play and they have developed it to better suit the abilities of small children. I highly recommend it to any of you who might consider registering your kid in sports. Also considerably cheaper than soccer. Only $40 here for the whole season. So I am one of the coaches of Rhiannon's team. The other coach is named Andrew. What are the chances of that? She plays the same nights as Kaetlyn so I can't be there on Mondays. I am disappointed because really, I would rather watch them both all the time. I don't like watching sports on tv, but I sure love watching my kids! And they were SOOOO cute the other night!

And today was Andrew's soccer practise. We had to rush out and get his cleats before the practise so we were late. Size 12 cleats... His feet are far bigger than his dad's. Do any of my brothers have size 12 feet? They're huge. Like he only had a choice between two kinds of cleats - a Nike pair and an Umbro pair. He got the Umbro pair (I think because they had a snazzy read stripe...). This is the first year I have bought him new cleats. But it gets harder and harder to find gigantic cleats at the sports consignment store... Besides, maybe he has finished growing (feet wise) and these will last for a couple of years... If they don't stink so bad that I have to throw them out... Like last year's cleats... He is the giant on his team and his coach is detirmined to make him 'aggressive'. He actually said that to him. Makes me laugh. Seems to me that John and Layne were never really aggressive soccer players, either. But every coach tries the same thing because he is so big and then they give up and let him play defence which is what he likes to play and what he is actually good at. He likes making those long kicks up the field. He's not much of a runner and he's not fast. Drew and I laughed about the aggressive bit in the car on the way home. You'd think the coach would realize that he has been playing since he was 5 - both indoor and outdoor. I think if he was going to be an aggressive player, he would be by now! Who knows, maybe he will come into it this year.

Our homeschooling group went hiking in Kal Park today - we hiked down to Cosen's bay. It was beautiful and warm. I wore capris and a t-shirt and I was just right - even sweating. Our group consists of mostly girls Rhiannon's age and that was just about all who came along today except for two girls' 7 year old brothers. 5 of the 6 girls (all 5 years old) got naked at the beach and played in the sand and water. You might not know this but at this time of the year, the water is not actually that cold. I mean, it is cold but it is bearable. The water level is still low because the snow packs in the mountains haven't really started melting yet. In a month, the water will be far colder - the leg numbing kind of cold. Today was nice - I even went wading. I really love this area I live in. Spring is so beautiful. The hills were covered with clumps of yellow flowers that I have never seen anywhere else. They are called 'Okanagan Sunflowers' but they are not a sunflower (which are really a kind of zinnia and native to Mexico) Their real name is arrow leaf balsamroot (see below). Anyways, they are really gorgeous this year. The petals were huge and the yellow so bright. It must have been the right kind of spring for them. And you could see the wild lupin starting to grow and pearly everlasting and sage. Such a time of renewal around here. The lake was so still and clear, you could see the clouds reflected perfectly.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Wonderful Easter

Well, I had a wonderful Easter and it isn't over yet! Friday evening I went out with a couple of my women friends from the homeschooling group. One of my friend's brother is in a band - an instrumental surf band and he was playing here in Vernon. So we went out for dinner and then to hear him. He is a cute young guitarist who was schooled through the Waldorf school in Kelowna. It was a very nice evening of connecting with friends which I really needed! During the day, I worked at the 'old house' so the evening was my reward!

Saturday I just relaxed. I felt really tired and lethargic and I have been going so hard, lately that I just chilled. I read most of the book I am reading for a book club I participate in on-line with other homeschooling moms. 5 Quarters of an Orange by the same author as Chocolat. I am really enjoying it and I am looking forward to discussing it!

Sunday, after lying in bed in the morning sunshine and finishing my book, I got up and made chocolate chip pancakes. Yum. No Easter Egg hunt for us yet as Dean was in Canmore. Then we met one of my friends from Calgary (the one I visited in Feb for her birthday and went to the hockey game with) and her twin sister and a friend of theirs from Calgary at the 'old house'. And we cleaned and cleaned with great ferocity. Loaded up the van twice and brought the stuff to the 'new house'. The bulk of the cleaning is done there. Just a little bit left to do and probably two more loads with the van. We were only there for 2 1/2 hours but boy we got ALOT done. I am SO grateful for their help. It meant so much to me to have their support. Thank you again, Sheila, Barb and Nancy! Kaetlyn, Drew and Rhiannon gladly helped, too, with all the enthusiam going around. (well, Drew DID sneak away to play with his friends at one point...) Rhiannon had great fun helping me clean toilets. She wouldn't put her hand in, of course, but she used the scrubber. Funny thing, I like cleaning bathrooms. Perhaps it is how you can take it from scummy to shiny so easily. I always liked cleaning bathrooms - except I hated pinesol when I was younger and claimed it gave me a stomach ache. And I never use any of those new fangled cleaning products - still the same things I used as a child - pinsol, vinager water and comet... Enough bathroom talk!

Then we went for lunch all together (except Andrew who was playing with a friend) at Wendy's and met up with another of Sheila's friends. After lunch we went to Value Village - always a popular store. Kaetlyn found some track pants which she was in need of and Rhiannon found some flourescent green spandex shorts which she LOVES! Everyone tried to talk me out of buying them but hey! You're only 5 once and so what if you wear flourescent green spandex shorts (probably been there since 1992) and it makes you happy for 99 cents! Soon enough it will take $100 to make her happy with her clothing purchase...Next we hit Super Store where I made them push me in a cart because my legs were tired... I didn't last too long, though as the metal was digging into the backs of my knees... Sheila and Barb (who live in Alberta) shopped for good deals on produce and we decided to have a BBQ for dinner and bought stuff to make veggie kabobs and some mozza smokies.

Back at the homestead, I prepared the veggies while Sheila and co. returned to the 'old house' for the bbq and to fill up the propane tank on the way back. Rhiannon and I started making the skewers. She wanted meat on hers so she cut up a smokie and put it on. umm...yuck. So just as we are starting to BBQ, Dean arrived from Canmore. Perfect timing. I LOVE bbq'ed mushrooms. I think it is the best way to eat mushrooms. It was a delicious dinner and it was nice out but a bit cold. And fun to have our bbq here, now. I love to barbecue!

After dinner, Drew, Rhiannon and I went back with Sheila and co. to the hotel to swim in the pool. It turns out the pool was FREEZING! and the hot tub was only lukewarm. So mostly we played in the 'warm tub'. And soon I left Drew and Rhiannon there playing and went to visit with my friends. We left there shortly after 9pm. Rhiannon dropped into bed. All in all, a pretty good day. We will have our Easter dinner today along with our Easter hunt. We don't go for the traditional turkey or ham but are going to have crepes - Strawberry crepes. (do you remember those crepe feasts I used to make for 'the family' and pretend to be the french maid?) I know they are supposed to be dessert but when the first flats of strawberries go on sale (like now) we have a dinner of just strawberry crepes. I'll get started on the crepe part this morning. That part takes alot of time... We'll have the 'hunt' part of Easter just before dinner. It also has the advantage of allowing me to get easter treats at discounted prices ;-). Dean will be washing windows today and I have the drop-in at the Inner World School and then I am counselling a little boy but THEN, I will be home and preparing our Easter strawberry feast!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Well, I didn't actually go for a walk or do anything especially wonderful. In the end, I decided that getting caught up on my homeschooling reporting would be the thing that would reduce my stress level the most. So that is what I did. Then rode my bike to the dance class. And the dance class was fine - more than fine - it was fun. So much for getting prepared. The CD's that I brought wouldn't work on the CD player there so I ended up having to 'wing it' anyways. Sheesh!

But what I wanted to write about were motherly pangs (although fathers can have these pangs as well). When Andrew was 2 - 4, we lived not too far from where we just moved to. In fact, you can see our old house from the end our our driveway (across the fields). As I was admiring the view of hills from our yard and looking into Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, I suddenly remembered when we first moved to the other house. The first week end we were there, we went for a hike in the park. It was my first time hiking in that park. Andrew was 2 1/2, Kaetlyn was just 5 and Erin was 9. It was a warm spring day at the beginning of May. We went to the Cosens' Bay entrance and hiked down to the lake. It turns out that it is 2.5 km's each way. On the way back, which is mostly up hill, I had to carry Drew almost the whole way. He was a big boy, too! I remembered him being so small (even if it was big for 2, it is a lot smaller than he is now!) and his little arms reaching up to me, whining and crying and begging to be carried. My arms were ready to fall off by the time we reached the parking lot. And my heart just ached with the memory and the knowledge that that part is over. So quickly he is not a little boy any more. Now I have to reach up to him! And I just wished (like Emily in Our Town) that I could return to that time for just a moment and be with him as a little boy again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


All alone. I am all alone and it is 9:22am. Dean has gone to work. Drew has gone to his mentorship for the day and Rhiannon has gone to a friend's house for the day - I'll see her again at dance class at 3:30. The morning was hectic with all those lunches to make and breakfasts. But now the house is quiet. Sooooo quiet. Wow! What a luxury! What to do with a whole day to myself. Well, not entirely a whole day as I am teaching a dance class at 3:30 and right now I am completely unprepared. It is the first class and I am going to be having 9 students (although 2 are missing today). So parents will be hanging out and watching so I had better look good! Yikes. I am going to have to do some pondering! At first my dance class was for 3 year olds and then for 4 year olds and now Rhiannon is 5. The same baby games won't work! Wouldn't it be fun to have Nat in my class as well! It is still creative movement and the emphasis is on having fun, listening to the music and dancing how we feel like. Still, my hear is in palpitations right now. I hate being unprepared. I'll have to GET prepared quickly.

But first, I think I'll go for a nice walk. I'll think about it on the way. Imagine! Having time for a nice long walk at this time of the morning!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

I hate to disappoint but I couldn't read it. I just couldn't. Perhaps if I had to for a class, I could but on my own, for recreation, I just couldn't. I can't stand that language. It is so wishy washy and indirect. And it is all so frivolous and written from a time when women had so few rights and so little power that they couldn't be direct. I just can't get into it. So it went back to the library. I guess I just can't fit in with the rest of the sisters, *sigh*. So, sorry to disappoint but that is my report. I am reading an Amy Tan book instead - "Saving a Fish From Drowning" which I am enjoying but not as much as I did the others of her books I have read so far.

Otherwise, I am still tired. Moving is still going on. Drew has a soccer game this morning over by the old house so I will go and work some more. Bit by bit. I just wish it was all over!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More pics

Here is the backyard

Rhiannon on the swing

Rhiannon says this would be a good picnic place.

Well, I am exhausted. Par for the course, I suppose. They are coming to move the piano today. Yesterday I managed to stay here all day and sort and clean and unpack. Not that you can tell that I did... The kitchen looks good, though. The kitchen is really, really huge. Like I am about all unpacked and there are lots of empty cupboards! Like when does that ever happen? Turns out that our closest neighbours also homeschool their two kids who are 5 and 11. What are the chances of that? And they take violin lessons from the same violin teacher. They seem very nice and Rhiannon has been busy playing outside all day everyday since we got here. It has such a great yard and space. She is in heaven! And wow what a difference that makes to me, too. I am here unpacking and sorting quietly by myself with my own music playing and there is no whiney voice following me around asking me to do other things. Not that I don't enjoy her company and doing many things with her. But it is sure nice to be able to get these things done in peace. I am sure you know what I mean, Katie.

Well, I haven't bathed since.... gross.... I can't remember. So I am off to jump into our clawfoot bathtub for the first time.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New House

So here is the driveway.

Here is the front of the house

Back of the house (wet because they pressure washed the moss off the roof today)

From the side - kinda dark but you get the idea - windows everywhere.