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...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Another political post, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to stop listening to CBC... Yesterday morning I was so moved by an interview on the Current of Michael Ignatieff . He is currently the elected Liberal MP from the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding in Ontario and is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party. I urge you to listen to the interview. I have never been so filled with hope for Canadian politics. I was close to tears to think that we could have a man like this lead our country.

I have not had very much hope for Canada with Stephen Harper in power in Ottawa and Gordon Campbell in power here in BC. Red-necked, compassion-less, bottom-line driven policies are the story of the day as I see what I love about this country further eroded away. Michael Ignatieff is the son of a politician who was a colleague and close friend of Lester Peason. He has a great vision for peace and believes that military action is always the wrong action. He has been around the world and has an intelligent and informed view of world politics and what amazing things are possible.

Most of all it was refreshing to hear someone speak who had not obviously been briefed by his polsters. A man with a vision and firm, well-informed opinions. He was compassionate, wise AND fiscally responsible. He even talked about the Quebec problem and our 'unfinished' constitution in the most reasonable way I have ever heard anyone speak. He pointed out that we need to face the fact that Quebec is different than the rest of Canada. It is a nation within a nation and we need to recognize that - and that recognizing that already existing fact will not tear Canada apart but make us stronger. He talked about how when Quebec celebrates St Jean Baptiste Day, as their national day and that they think of themselves in other ways as a nation. He also talked about the environment in really sensible ways - actually dealing with the issues that face us and looking for real solutions - for factories for the cars we drive... He talked about the growing divide between urban and rural and the need for real solutions that make choices more equal no matter where you live. He talked about the need to have a unified policy on healthcare...

I don't do his eloquence justice here. I hope you will check him out for yourself - you can read his blog here. I have never been one to put political signs on my lawn or to campaign for any politician but I would for him. I think he is exactly what we need right now to take us into this new era in the world and to take a leadership role in the environment and for peace.

Monday, September 18, 2006

International Peace Day

Yesterday as I was driving Andrew up to a mentor's house of his to help him bring in his firewood, I listened to a most inspired broadcast on CBC in preparation for International Peace Day, September 21. It was Michael Enright's Sunday Edition. He was interviewing Paul Rogers who teaches Peace Studies at Bradford University in Bradford England. I was so impressed with the views and opinions of Paul Rogers. I found them refreshing, real, honest and fair.

He talked about if we are ever to achieve real peace in the world, we will have to look past the tactics and dogma of our enemies and listen to their real concerns. For example in the middle east: We won't get anywhere until we look past the hype and see what the real concerns of the average person are - which are about western occupation of their countries and western control of their oil. He said that when we do that, the extreme positions of some of the leaders right now will no longer matter because the average person will not follow. He said the extreme element is actually a minority but the people go along with their agenda because they have a point about standing up for their sovereignity. And actually it seems to me that if we spent as much money researching how to live with out fossil fuels (which are doomed to run out eventually anyways) as we have spent on war in the Middle East that we would surely no longer be dependant on their oil supply anyways.

Force simply doesn't work. Why is it that we sanction the use of methods in other countries that we would never tolerate here in Canada or in the US? But it is okay for us to strip others in other places of their freedom, their dignity and their so-called 'inalienable rights' like the right to self-government, surely. Why are we still figuring this out in 2006? Why do we think that there are some situations that are an exception? There are no exceptions. Force in a very short term solution with long time negative effects. Or haven't we figured that out yet? There will never be a WAR to end all wars. War only begets more war. If we believe that force is the ultimate answer to solve our problems then we will end up with a world like ones described by Aldus Huxley or Margaret Atwood and others where our freedoms have been given up in the name of progress or security.

Michael Enright even brought up Hitler. And I loved what Paul Rogers had to say. He said that before you look at Hitler, you had to look at the economic situation in Europe and how Germany had been treated - this context (for which the whole world is responsible) is what allowed Hitler to rise. I can hardly do justice to Paul Rogers. His eloquence and his intelligence and his loving and accepting way of looking at the world - at the big picture beyond his own nationality and ethnicity - was inspiring. You can read some of his articles here. He writes an column for Open Democracy - a great magazine if you want a fresh perspective on world issues.

There is no 'axis of evil' except the axis of evil inside each of us. I pray in these days coming up to International Peace day that we will be able to find what is good in eachother (what is god in eachother) and what brings us together and begin to construct a world that will have real and lasting peace.

Friday, September 15, 2006

If My Life Had a Soundtrack

I am going to do a series about the soundtrack of my life. Music is very important to me even if the closest I will come to being a musician is sleeping with one.... I remember my musical awakening at 14 when my older cousin, Becky, introduced me to Billy Joel's newly released Glass Houses. I have been a Billy Joel fan ever since (I can still sing along with every song on the album). In fact, I have every CD of his except for the best of one and the Songs in the Attic. When I love music, I love it for a long time - a lifetime. I am not one who seeks after new sounds but I love the music that I own and listen to it over and over at different times.

So if my life had a soundtrack, the songs that I am most drawn to - that resonates with me - are songs about searching and about journeys of the soul. This is the one I am listening to (and crying to) and dancing to this week.

Dixie Chicks
The Long Way Around

My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes
Where their parents live

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

I hit the highway in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling
Lived like a gypsy
Six strong hands on the steering wheel

I've been a long time gone now
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
But I've always found my way somehow

By taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

I met the queen of whatever
Drank with the Irish and smoked with the hippies
Moved with the shakers
Wouldn't kiss all the asses that they told me to

No I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

It's been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I'm getting' it back on the road now

But I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
The long
The long way around

Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

From the Album: Taking The Long Way

What would be song in your soundtrack?

Thursday, September 14, 2006


So with a daughter in College in downtown Montreal, you can be sure I have been following the situation. The shootings that happened yesterday afternoon were actually at a College only a block away from LaSalle College that Erin is attending. She called me while it was happening so I would not be freaked out when I heard about it. Considerate girl. I would probably been on the next flight and dragged her home with me... Not that scary things can't happen here. Vernon was afterall home to the Gakhal family masacre in 1996.

Which brings me to my point. When something like this happens, we point to the evil-doer who perpetuated the crime and wonder what went wrong with him? He must have always been different from us, right? He's one of 'them'. One of 'them' whose personalities are somehow deffective from birth and isn't it evident now that we look back. We are in no way responsible. It has nothing to do with us.

Or does it? It is like looking back on history and seeing Hitler and his anti-semitism in a vacuum. Hitler was so evil. Often he is used to embody evil. We think of him in a vacuum. Hitler was not in a vacuum. He was a member of society and a part of the culture at the time. Anti--semitism was rampant around the world. Hitler was only acting out a part of the society. Why do you think the world took so long to respond. For heaven's sake 6,000,000 Jews died before he was stopped!

I believe we are all one. Kimveer Gil is a part of our culture. In a culture that glorifies violence or thinks that watching violence or playing violent games are entertainment, he is not alone. There is no them and us. There is only US. All of us. Our violent thoughts or our violent communication all contribute to the violence in the world. What went wrong with Kimveer Gil? I don't believe as has been suggested on the news that he came 'defective from the factory'. Once he was a perfect baby boy. Somewhere things went wrong for him. We failed him somehow.

I am sad for the families of the students at Dawson College for their horrendous experience. I am sad for Kimveer Gil and his family and I am sad for all of us. How sad that he thought this was what he had to contribute. Lets not waste his contribution. May it serve as a wake up call to all of us. Accept yourself. Love yourself. Reach out. Love those in your life. Ultimately I believe that technique is secondary. It is love that matters.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Am Amazing!

I am amazing. I am wonderful. I am incredible and beautiful and intelligent and insightful and generous and thoughtful. I am perfect right now in this perfect, beautiful moment.

So what happens when you read this opinion I have of myself? What is your reaction? Do you agree? Do you think I am joking? Are you glad I am embracing my wonderful-ness? Are you disgusted? Disappointed? Do you think I am deluded? Vain? 'Over' confident? What is your reaction?

Because your reaction has nothing to do with me and the veracity of my claims about myself. But it will show you what you believe about yourself and your own wonderful-ness. Because I am no more wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, incredible or amazing than you. And it illustrates the point that what we believe of others is only a reflection of what we believe about ourselves. "Take nothing personally" is the second agreement of 'The Four Agreements' by Miguel Ruiz. I'm listening to the tapes (which are overdue from the library...) for the 3rd or 4th time. Which not only means that what others think of us and say to us is not really about us but about them but it also means that what we think about others and say to them is not really about them but is about us.

I am struggling even writing this post. The truth is that as soon as I write those words about myself - about my wonderful-ness - that it sets off a series of negative volleys of criticism. I am afraid no one will like me if I like myself. Afraid that if everyone knew how much I secretly love myself, that would be the clincher and they would be disgusted with me. Or they could see my faults and shortcomings so clearly that they would feel sad of my delusions.

This self-criticism is lovable, too. What a wonderful part of myself who DOES know of my true worth and seeks only to protect me from harm! What a gift to have had such a protector when I really needed one! And now I loving release this loving protector. It is amazing how the self-talk inside myself calms down and I can breathe and my heart calms down when I acknowledge the once-helpfulness of my self-criticism and the intention of my self critic. I don't believe that our inner critic is really out to destroy us or to keep us down. In a certain situation at a certain time - usually when we were vulnerable children, that voice protected us from hurt. Mine protected me. Love is the only answer - even when it means loving those parts of myself that have held me back.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Year

Happy New Year! In Canada, the beginning of September is really the beginning of a new year. Refreshed and re-energized from all of our summer fun (hopefully) we are ready to re-commit ourselves to the year ahead. It is the time that decisions are made about our schedule for the next 10 months. Classes, courses, lessons... Everything starts afresh. After my initial greiving for the loss of long, hot, spontaneous days and time spent as a family together just being, I love this time of year. I feel recharged and ready to try different things, think different thoughts and learn something new. I have been living in my kitchen these last several days, making plum jam and salsa, trying new zucchini recipes and continually cleaning up after myself. My house has been full of the smells of canning. I even invented a new recipe of my own. I made some plum jam out of the little red plums in the orchard and it was so good and vaguely reminded me of red pepper jelly. So I made some plum jam with peppers and garlic in it. Still tastes kind of plummy but I think it will go well on crackers in the winter... I even think I might be ready to make some jelly myself. I have always dismissed it as too much work but I'm thinking that it has to be an easier way to process all these little red plums which have more pit than anything else. My plum jam has truly been a several hour long labour of plum love (because I think it is bad karma to waste what the earth gives me in such generous abundance...)

Its also a time of self reflection. A time to recommit myself to myself. A time to let some bad habits go and start some good ones. I ahve been pondering myself deeply and what I want in this new year. How I want my life to be, my family to be and how to go about getting it that way. Spring this year was just WAY too hectic. Too much stuff to do, places to go. I ended up not really doing anything really well. I don't want to get in the position again. Rhiannon will forgo ball this year and sign up for soccer instead (one day a week vs two and on a different day than K's ball). Arranging for music lessons to end earlier in the spring. Arranging my time at the Inner World School to be more concentrated on a couple of days rather than an hour every day.

Well, time to go and get dressed... its noon, after all...