Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Most of you are enjoying your Christmas mornings right now. Here everyone is asleep but me. Erin is on the bus back to Vancouver. Which is why everyone is still sleeping. Santa did not come last night. He very kindly came the night before so as to accommodate Erin's having to work on Boxing Day. The 23rd was Christmas Eve for us. I have no pictures to show you as I decided to just be there rather than photograph it. I really realized that in Mexico - that sometimes when you are the photographer, you miss some of the joy of just being there.

It was a wonderful Christmas, though. We learned well from the lessons of last year. We had our planning meeting in September and drew names for Santa gifts and divided up stocking duty and Christmas dinner chores. Although dinner was 3 hours late (hehe) it was also a wonder of engineered cooperation. We ate one of our own chickens - the biggest one at 7 lbs. And wow, he was huge! Even his wings were meaty. He was also delicious. I think my stuffing might have left something to be desired, though as my father-in-law declared that next time he was going to make the stuffing...hehe... fine with me!

It was clear that everyone has been a bit concerned about Erin living all by herself in Vancouver in her wee apartment. She got spoiled with gifts for her place. This here is my miracle of mother's love. I made her a wool duvet from the wool of our own sheep when she went away to Montreal. In less than a month, she had washed it and shrunk it. Sent it back in that complete faith that children have that their mothers can fix anything... So for Christmas, I soaked it in cold water for 24 hours and then I pulled and yanked and pulled and pulled and pulled and actually got it back to its original size.... but it didn't look so great. So I stitched it inside of two layers of new batting and then put the whole thing inside a new envelope and tied it. Then I made this funky duvet cover. And she loved it. (whew!) It was my great Christmas masterpiece. I also made Dean some felted slippers that he has been complaining about not having for months and I made Kaetlyn some organic hand cream which I love so much, I've got to make some for myself. It is a recipe from "Organic At Home" - the latest book on my wish list. Rhiannon and Drew got store bought gifts - a groovy girl and bike stuff respectively. It was all good.

Kaetlyn, Drew and Rhiannon were a great help. We spent our Christmas Eve Day cleaning our house from top to bottom. And it is wonderfully clean still right now (except for the homeschooling/sewing/disaster room - don't go in there!) And we baked and baked and baked till tins were over flowing with shortbread, peanut brittle, butter tarts and cookies. And Drew and Rhiannon even found sometime to play outside together in the gorgeous snow that was falling. We spent our Christmas Eve decorating gingerbread and sugar cookies, eating snacks of artichoke dip, quesadillas, red pepper jelly, pickles and goodies, (all made by us, of course, which made them all the more delicious - especially the pickles!) and watching "A Christmas Carol". Rhiannon did an impromptu concert and we all fell into bed.

Our Christmas Day was very nice, too. No one was awake before 8am (a record for us!). And we had such a wonderful, relaxed time full of fun together. Blueberry waffles, candy, oranges and our own chicken! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, too!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Winter Magic

Today we celebrated the solstice. Rhiannon and I were outside for 7:55am the official 'sunrise' time. We marched around our yard and wove around the snow covered garden with it's sentinel compost pile. It was very overcast with our typical valley bottom cloud so we had to imagine it. We scoured the kitchen, roasted the last of the tomatoes in the oven, and then had a magical pancake dinner by candle light. And we cracked a jar of dried plums and apples and thought about all the things the sun gives us. The snow fell all day and then the moon was so bright you could see the shadows of the trees. It felt mystical. So welcome winter. Welcome lengthening days. Happy Solstice and I hope you kept cozy today!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rhiannon Plays the Performing Arts Centre with the Carriage House Orchestra

Finally Really Over

Well, after writing this post and following it up with this post, our mayor used a little loop hole thing where after something has been voted on in council, the mayor can bring it forward for another vote within a month. So I guess they worked hard on Mary Mallerby to get her to change her mind and she did. They had another vote a month later and she switched sides. Council ended up calling for a referendum on the subject.

Mary Mallerby was quoted in the paper as saying that she was going with the 'silent majority' on this matter. This would be instead of the 100's of people who phoned her asking her to vote against the proposal to change the status of this farmland to 'non-farm use' so that a sports complex could be built upon it. I know that 100's of people phoned her against and almost none for this proposal because she told me so herself when I called her. I am sure this 'silent majority' quote is going to haunt her for sometime - hopefully follow her right out of office.

So a referendum was set for December 15 to see if an application should be sent to the ALC to have the status of this actively farmed land changed. I was helped with the 'no' side. And on Saturday, with a HUGE voter turn out and 65% voted against. So for awhile anyways, we have managed to preserve this chunk of farmland.

And I am heartened by my community's response. I know some of that 'no' vote was a 'not in my back yard' response but I hope that a lot of that vote came from a growing realization of the importance of local farmland and food security. I hope that as a community we are shifting to a more sustainable paradigm. And I am grateful for men like Jim Garlick who stuck his neck out there for something important that he believed in. I so grateful to him and others like him who are willing to give so much of their time for all of us!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dance Magic

Last night was the performance of my first ballet class. I am always in awe of my young dancers but I have to say that last night was the most magical yet. These young girls are getting a feel for what ballet is really about. And it isn't about perfectly executed steps - although they can do that, too. It is about telling a story, about emotional expression and passion. Together we have watched quite a few ballets - both recordings and live - and I have to say they are really getting it!

Anyways, my words don't really do it justice. Here are some pictures of the magic....

And this... my favourite dancer of all time - enjoying herself at BP afterwards. Gotta love that purple ribbon. She was so happy about that ribbon "Oh Mom, just what I always wanted! I always wanted to have a ribbon in my hair! Thank you so much!"

Gee, a hair ribbon? That's all she ever wanted? I wish I done it ages ago!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dancing in the Living Room

Today as the snow fell in large snow flakes, I baked shortbread and gingerbread and cleaned my house (okay, so you couldn't tell, but really, I did). Last Thursday was our last dance class of my first ballet class and our performance is this Saturday. It was a long wait so we had a ballet party. And I don't have a very big living room - it is of the cozy variety. I was happy to have the room full of my favourite dancers with their infectious enthusiasm. We went over our story, ate some cookies, watched some nutcracker and yes, we practised our dance in my wee, wee living room. It was fun and it's going to be a great performance this Saturday!

Why I Do It

Well, after starting our window washing business in March of 2005 as a way of funding our 'creative' lifestyle, we now have almost 500 customers. I got almost all of those customers by going door to door with my little yellow cards that I give to those who answer the door and leave in the door of those who don't. There are thousands of them out in Vernon, Coldstream and Lavington. This last year, I didn't have to canvas much - our regular customers kept us busy enough. They kept us going full blast right into the first week of December. But now, to keep the home fires burning, I need to brave the cold and get out there and canvas.

Some would think this could be demoralizing and shameful for me to do. But the truth is, I don't mind going door to door. I'm the daughter of a top salesman, after all. I enjoy the walk and being outside and I am not doing a 'hard sell'. Either you are interested in having your windows washed or you are not. And the no's don't bother me. My spiel takes less than 30 seconds. I am usually in a pretty good mood while I am out there doing it.

Yesterday I was reminded of exactly why I do it. I was walking down East Hill heading from violin lessons to the homeschooler's skate at the rec centre. In front of my was my 14 year old son, handsome and tall, who had just picked up my backpack and shouldered it himself without me suggesting. Beside him was my 7 year old daughter, happy and excited to go skating, running ahead of me to keep up with her brother. They come to a street to cross. They don't wait for me, (I am now more than half a block behind). She just reaches up and takes his hand and they cross together.

This is why I do it. So that they can have this moment together and so I can be hear to see it. It's all worth it and I am filled with gratitude at this great blessing - for my whole life - my wonderful friends, my children, my husband, our home and lifestyle and how it all comes together. For this I would canvas every single night... luckily I don't have to.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cheepie to Stew to Borscht

Well from the fondest of beginnings at the beginning of July when he was named "Cheepie" by Rhiannon and Auntie Martha through to his maturity when his name was changed to 'Stew' the day he first crowed and declared himself a rooster, to last night's dinner when he became 'Borscht', it has been quite a journey. We hatched him from an egg from the farm we used to buy free range eggs from - a couple of blocks from where we live. He was adored and played with - picked up almost daily. He learned to eat from our hands and would come running when we came out the door, hoping for treats. We were outside to hear his first crow which sounded rather like a dog barking... but developed into a nice, good-morning-kind-of-sound. In his vigorous youth, he soon began to do his 'duty' a little too enthusiastically for my wee flock. He moved on from 'fertilizing' his cohorts to 'fertilizing' my entire flock... so much for pure bred Silver Laced Wyandottes... And 19 weeks arrived (the ideal time for butchering chickens - maximum growth and minimum fat). Wednesday night we packed him up into a box and he spent a warm night in the basement. Thursday morning found him at my dear friend's house with some other roosters and hens about to lose their heads. Due to the change in regulations we did it ourselves. It was gory and fascinating to examine their insides. With another neighbour, we cheerfully killed, plucked and gutted 5 chickens that day - only one of mine - Stew - laughing, chatting and discovering. Friday he went into the pot. I used my dear friend's recipe for borscht.

Here it is. I dug up the last of my beets from my garden yesterday, too. My most massive beets were of the white variety so my borscht is a bit paler than one might expect. Borscht is one of my favourite soups, if not my absolute favourite! And I have to say it was absolutely delicious. And it tasted all the better that I had been a part of its production from start to finish.

Although Rhiannon refused to eat a single bite (there might be a developing vegetarian in there somewhere as she is refusing to eat any meat she has known. Says she will only eat pork and beef and as I never buy pork and very rarely buy beef....) she was definitely in there documenting our meal. These are her pictures.

She took several of me eating. Yes, so what I am wearing my toque at the table... and yes, I did make it (out of noro wool). And yes, those are bird feeders on the table, too. I was tired, okay? It was Dean's job to clear off the table and that is as good as it got done...

So there you have it... from me petting him as s chick to me happily devouring him. Thanks Cheepie... may your next life be as purposeful!

Friday, December 07, 2007

More new hats

I uploaded 5 new hats - including this experiment. One is knitted, the other crocheted from the same yarn (Noro - my current favourite). Which do you prefer? So far it seems that most prefer the knitted... I still prefer the crocheted...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mexican Promises

In Mexico, in the wet sand, Dean and I created a ritual, thinking about the last 10 years together. We wrote in the sand the things from the last 10 years that we wanted to release - all the resentments and other patterns that we want to let go of. We made a pact with each other that the past is really finished and as we step into this new decade together, that we won't bring any past resentments with us. We can't bring them up in arguments or fights. We brought the shell that we wrote in the sand with home with us and we are going to mount and frame it to remind us.

I must admit, as we made the pact, I did feel just the tiniest of twinges... I mean, there is so much good stuff there for ammunition... really? none of it? I can't use it? I grew up gathering ammunition. I must admit that my brothers were much nicer than me... although John does insist to this day that I bent his rim and I swear I didn't.... not to mention that sucker he ate of mine when I was 6... (and he was 3)... so do you think I really can? Let go of all that stuff? Never use it against Dean again? Let's hope he fares better than my little brother...

I think I can... It felt good to let go and let the tide sweep the slate clean. Here's to a fresh start.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Mixed Up Kind of Day

It is a day of contrasts. Here my brown lover pulling our daughter in the snow. Shorts, tank tops and bathing suits drying on the drying rack inside because it is too cold outside. Far too cold to be wearing any of that stuff here... Sweaters and undershirts over my own memory of warmth. And then, as the snow flies outside, my house is full of the delicious aroma of slow roasting tomatoes as I continue to process my ripening tomatoes from my own garden while thinking that in just 2 months it will be time to plant next year's seeds on the window sill...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mexico Report

Well, I am sitting here as I usually do - with a microfiber undershirt, long-sleeved cotton shirt and wool sweater with my fleece pants on, socks and slippers. In front of the computer is one of the coldest spots in the house - probably thanks to the huge window it is in front of. It is -10 and there is snow - an inch or two on the ground and a light sugary dusting from last night. Only thing out of place is my brown hands typing. It is definitely weird for me to have a slight sunburn under my fleece pants!

Mexico was awesome! We loved it. What a wonderful way to celebrate our 10 years together. We swam in the warm ocean everyday. Bizarre to me to think that there are people there who have never swam in water colder than a bath tub....

I loved:

Walking for miles down the beach in the light of the full moon, barefoot on the sand, hand-in-hand with the love of my life.

Just laying on my back in the water, floating in the waves.

The luxury of not cooking or even sparing a single thought for food preparation for 7 entire days...

Playing in the surf on a boogie board.

Walking in the jungle.

Fresh fruit - lots of it!

And oh, just the lovely flow of the days. Time writing in my journal, reading, knitting, talking, laughing, playing. Just the joy of it all.

It was so beautiful there. And the air so warm and humid. I felt my hair just curling up as soon as we got of the plane in Puerto Vallarta. That didn't last once I started swimming in salt water everyday... We didn't go on any tours - we just hung out at the beach, ate great food, and did whatever we felt like it when we felt like doing it.

For us, to have so much time with just each other was such a wonderful treat. There have always been kids around and responsibilities to take care of. And we love our kids and couldn't wait to get home to them. And we loved being away and alone together. We soaked up every single minute of it.

Funny thing - we met some great people down there - all from Kelowna. It was nice to have someone to have dinner with, hang out at the bar with and go boogie boarding with. Dean just couldn't get enough of that surf.

The hotel that we were at was right on the water - on the bay of a wee fishing village. There were always fishing boats in the water and the beach was a loud public beach - always something going on. The hotel also owned some space on a beach in an even tinier village a 20 minute bus ride away. There the beach was almost empty; it was quiet and the waves were just right for boogie boarding. The bus took us there at 10am and brought us back at 3pm. We went there for 3 of our days.

I did find the way of selling/buying things difficult to take. I felt sooo Canadian... it was just so vulgar... And when the people are so poor, hard to offer less than the pittance they were asking... I did get better at it but I wouldn't call myself a pro... We did manage to get some gifts for all the kids and a few things for ourselves.

And the country was so beautiful but there was garbage everywhere. Everywhere. I thought "such a beautiful country but so unloved." I guess the people are so preoccupied with surviving that they can't think about the environment...

And the kids? Drew had a blast with Erin in Vancouver. Kaetlyn took wonderful care of the house, chicks, chickens, dog and cats and Rhiannon got the royal treatment at Bozenka's. We couldn't help but think how much fun they would all have in such a place... next time...

So here I am, back in the cold with wonderful warm memories, feeling very grounded and grateful and full up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

10 Years

Yesterday was our 10 year anniversary. It is the day Dean moved in with us in 1997 - into the little farm house I can see from here. 6 more sleeps until we leave for Mexico. But to celebrate, here are some of my favourite pictures and a list of 10 things I love about him (there are so many things I love about him but here are the top 10 for today)... in no particular order

1. I love that we both enjoy the outdoors so much - we have taken many great hikes together and both appreciate the grandeur and beauty around us.

2. This is probably the thing I love about him the very most. It has been said that I am bossy. And I can accept that this is true. I often try to hold myself back so as not to overwhelm people... which can be a hard thing to do. I don't mean to be bossy, I really don't. But as the eldest of 12 children (and started babysitting at 8 yrs old), it seems ingrained in me. Sometimes I don't mean to sound bossy, it just comes out that way when really I am enthusiastic.... Anyways... my point is that with Dean I don't have to hold myself back. Not that I boss him around, thither and yon. What I love about him is that he lets me be me and just ignores me when I am too bossy or stands up to me. It is a huge relief to not have to hold myself back (I also have great friends, too!) and not worry that I am hurting him. I am so grateful for his quiet strength that allows me to thrive in this relationship.

3. Or maybe this is the thing I love about him most... I love what a great father he is. I love how hard he tries and how much he cares. I am so grateful to the effort he has put into step-parenting my 3 older kids. I know it has challenged him more than he ever thought possible and he has risen to the challenge.

4. See this lamb? His name was Charlie. He was Dean's favourite. Eventually we ate him. This is the fourth thing I love about Dean. Although he would have never thought of raising bummer lambs and eating them, he got right into it. He played with those lambs, carried them about on his shoulders, cleaned up their poo off the front walk. Although he swore he wouldn't eat them after all of that, he was there, chomping down on the first BBQ'ed lamb chops! And although he didn't ever even think, "hey, we should get chickens... wouldn't that be nice?" And I got them while he was gone on the road..., he loves them and goes out to the coop and plays with them, feeds them from his hand and picks them up. When Rhiannon and I show him Brownie's first egg, he is almost as excited as we are. I really love that about him.

5. I love his incredible creative energy. I love to listen to his guitar playing whether it is the gentle, melodic strummings on an acoustic at home or his hard rocking groove on stage. There is no one more sexy to me than this guitarist rocking out in his own incredible creative groove. I am always in awe. I could watch him for hours...

6. I love that he enjoys discussing ideas. We have talked hours into the night about a good book and what it means, the truth about ancient british history or the philosophical underpinnings of "The Doors". After the initial flush of passion and infatuation waned in our relationship, there was so much real stuff to talk about that has kept us going for 10 years of great conversations.

7. Did I mention he is great in bed? hehe

8. I love his warm brown eyes and the way they look at me. I think it would be a very cold and lonely world without those eyes looking at me like that.

9. I love that he loves the clothes I sew for him, the hats I crochet for him and the food I make for him. He does. He loves them. He asks for more.

10. Maybe this is the thing I love about him most. It is surely the thing I count on the most. I am so grateful for his commitment to me and our family. It has seen us through many rough times. I can be much more mercurial. I am grateful for his steady commitment. It has been a great example to me and a great comfort.

Here's to another 10 years. I love you, babe!

Friday, November 16, 2007

They're Back...

With the cold weather (and recent van repair bill...) I have updated my hat blog with my summer and fall crocheting projects. The first one here is my favourite inspired by Debbie Stoller and the next one is actually knitted! Yes, it is! Inspired by my friends on the SD village, I got Elizabeth Zimmerman's video out of the library and learned some new knitting tricks... now I can do more than just wash cloths..

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mazal tov

Here is someone's first egg. We are not sure who. Is it Brownie's? (the former Pinkie but her feather's grew in) Is it Fluffy-the-for-sure-hen's? She is supposed to be an early laying breed (she is almost 5 months). Is it Marigold's? (who we once thought was a rooster but now think is a hen) Is it Edgar's? Who we first thought was a hen, then thought was a rooster and now we are just wondering as s/he has yet to crow or lay an egg and has characteristics of both... It is a rather weird colour of brown that you can't quite tell in the picture - kind of a taupe colour, rather than the creamy brown of the Silver Laced Wyandottes. Could it be the pink that they say Ameraucana's can lay (in which case it would be Edgar)
It means keeping a close eye on the nest box to see who goes in and out and what they leave behind.

Edited to add: It was Brownie's egg (our Buff Orpington). I caught her coming off the nest this morning. So wahoo! We've fed her for 6 months and she finally laid an egg! Yay!

Edited to add: actually it was Fluffy's egg... Brownie did eventually lay an egg but this one was Fluffy's - it has a very distinctive colour.

I am so excited. That means we got 4 eggs today. 4 eggs. That is the most since we acquired them in May and we only have 4 mature hens right now. So that would be really awesome. It means either that they are all laying or that some of our chicks have started! Yippeeeee!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things I Hope I Never Forget...

Riding my bike home from Rhiannon's piano lesson with her on the trail-a-bike, whizzing through the cold sunshine while she sings Seitz behind me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A New Day

I woke up feeling very discouraged this morning. Last night, I got into a fight with my sister who is mentally ill. It was an especially bad fight or a big one but it felt terrible. It is the first time I can ever remember fighting with her and certainly the first time I ever lost my temper with her. I instantly regretted it (upon hanging up) and sent her an e-mail acknowledging where she was right but being firm with my own boundaries and striving to be more loving.

Yet I still felt bad. My 2 half egos were working on me - one trying to shrink me with my shame and self-judgement and the other trying to blow me up with grandiose thoughts of superior spirituality (like there could possibly be such a thing!) I wrote in my journal and lit a candle for myself and my sister. And then I went for my scheduled bike ride. As I pedalled around Middleton Mountain, up and down the hills (feels like mostly up), it occurred to me as I sweat and pushed myself up yet another hill. It doesn't matter if I get off my bike and walk up the hill as long as I am headed in the same direction.

So I was slowed down a bit by the sad altercation with my sister but I am still on track and headed in the right direction.

So there is my thought for the day!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mexico Bound

November 16 will mark 10 years since Dean and I began our journey together and became a family. Last year when we celebrated our 9th anniversary we made a plan for this year. Each year on our anniversary we try to do something that we have never done before. Usually it is as simple as hiking on a trail we never have before or eating at a restaurant we never have before. But 10 years is a big deal - to us anyways. We have both long surpassed any previous relationships and we are still happy with each other and growing and learning together (not that it is always easy or even fun but it is rewarding). We wanted to do something BIG to commemorate 10 years to set us off into our next decade together.

We decided to go to Mexico. Neither of us has ever been. The farthest south he has been was a family trip to California and the farthest I have every been is Las Vegas, Nevada when I was 18. Now this may be a small thing to accomplish for most but for us it is a big thing. We choose to live a simple lifestyle not requiring a huge amount of money that allows us both to pursue our dreams and live in a way that is true to our values. He plays his music and travels with his band and I homeschool our children and work at the Inner World School which has yet to turn a profit. And together we run our window washing business which is simple and allows us to live. So to save the additional money to make a trip like this required careful planning for the whole year. Something that neither of us is particularly good at, either - being more the 'in the moment', impulsive types.

But we did. Bit by bit. We got our passports in May. I started a secret savings account. And $50's and by $100's it grew. And we feasted from the garden and grew our own chicken and went on a family holiday, and worked and saved. Until last week end, we took our money down to the travel agent and bought two all inclusive tickets to a wee fishing village outside of Puerto Vallarta - Rincon de Guayabitos where the ocean temperature is 79 degrees (I can't even imagine that!) and this is where we are staying.

We leave on the 23 for a week. We fly out of Vancouver. Drew will be staying with Erin and the van in Vancouver, Rhiannon is going to Bozenka's and Kaetlyn is staying here to look after the chickens, cats and dog. I can hardly believe it.... we're really going....!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day of the Dead

I have come to love Halloween. This was the time of the ancient British New Year - a time to tie up loose ends and put things to rest for the winter. Despite our essentially christian culture, the ancient traditions persist. Halloween is replete with carved pumpkins, candles, fires and trick-or-treating across North America. People are drawn without even really knowing why.

Our Halloween this year included this carved pumpkin which Rhiannon did entirely by herself. Daddy was a little disappointed to have been fired from his job... next year we'll have to get him his own pumpkin, I think.

Here are my trick-or-treaters on their way out. Rhiannon had been planning her cowgirl costume since stampede time when Sheila sent her this hat from Calgary.

Earlier in the day we met with friends over a fire where we let go of things that weren't serving us, invited new things in and ate hotdogs and made pull taffy.

Yesterday we celebrated the Day of the Dead. This is our display in the middle of our kitchen table. There are pictures of our grandmothers, Dean's grandfather and cousin, and beloved pets - Buck, Darion and Brownie and pictures of lambs we loved and then ate to symbolize all the animals that give up their lives for our nutrition.

And I included knitting needles because it was my Gram who taught me how to knit. In fact, she helped me work on a project with that very yarn. And there are 2 silver spoons there - one from my Gram's silver and one from her mother's. Her mother, my great-grandma Scott died when I was 12 so I had a chance to know her. I loved her - I loved touching her old, soft, wrinkly skin on her arms. And I used to have naps with her when I was very young and she used to take the hairpins out of her hairnet and put them in those little shoes while she napped. And that is her biscuit cutter, too that Gram gave me after she died.

So we thought of our dead loved ones yesterday and we felt them near us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apple Day

We have processed raspberries, cherries, peaches, blueberries, apricots, pears and plums - hundreds and hundreds of plums. But today was the day of the apple. Our little orchard didn't do so well this year. Several of the trees bore almost no fruit. I suspect an irrigation problem. And the apples that were there were small. I have been dithering. Picking a bucket here and there and drying them - making a couple of crisps, a couple of pies.... But not doing what I need to do - make applesauce which I use all year in my baking as a substitute for oil and sugar - especially in muffins. The thought of working so hard on all those little apples... I put it off. Hoped they would grow bigger...

It is forcasted to dip below freezing tonight for the first time. So yesterday I picked all my peppers and today I hauled the last of the tomatoes out of the garden and harvested my mint and lemon grass. But the big job was the apples. Starting in the morning, Rhiannon and I and later Kaetlyn and her friend, peeled, cored and chopped apples. (I love doing this with my girls and feeling the connection to generations of mothers and daughters before us and hopefully after us)I made 3 batches of apple sauce (one more to go), 1 batch of juice and the fruit dryer is full, there is a large blue bin in the food storage room full of red delicious and my unknown variety that is sweet and crunchy and my favourite, there are buckets full sitting in the kitchen waiting to be made into the last batch of applesauce, the last apple pies and crisps and some apple butter and the fruit drawer of the fridge is so full you can barely open it. It is the day of the apple.

And to throw in a little variety, I had to process my tomatoes that have been ripening inside to make room for those left out on the vine. I decided on a big pot of tomato sauce (which I have never made before) and canned the rest - so I added 9 more quarts to the 39 already downstairs. My ultimate goal would be to put up enough tomatoes for our entire year. That would be a lot of tomatoes! (isn't that an amazing tomato? I grew that! Fertilized it with my pee, too! [1 part pee to 5 parts water = a good nitrogen fertilizer for your plants])

So it is midnight now. I've been in the kitchen all day except for the time I took Rhiannon to her violin and piano lessons and went to the hardware store to buy an apple-corer-peeler-thingey.

Time for bed and apple dreams....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Everyone left the table tonight totally stuffed. Stuffed. With the abundance from our own delicious garden. We had zucchini pancakes (thank you M-S - we've had them every week since you gave me the recipe), baked squash (red curry), fresh salsa with tortilla chips and baked stuffed jalapeƱos. With our first freezing temperatures forcasted for tomorrow night, it has been time to bring in the last of the produce. Already our large country kitchen is knee deep in tomatoes... And it is with such gratitude that we eat this bounty knowing that it will be many months before we will have any so fresh. We are savouring it! And doing our best to make the most of it and not waste a drop.

I am so grateful for the abundance in my life - in more ways than the fruitfulness of my garden. Last night I met with 2 friends. We meet every month to 'check in' and we have been doing it for 7 years. We share the details of our lives, we support each other, we listen, we laugh and we leave feeling recharged and so grateful for each other.

Then Saturday morning found different friends at my house come to answer my poor chicken's needs as they perched locked up on the coop to keep them safe from the coyote who kept coming back. They brought their know-how, their bobcat and picked up all the very heavy supplies in their pick up truck and before the end of the day we had erected together a very skookum fence around my coop and the chickens were happily pecking and scratching and exploring their new boundaries (much bigger than before). All during the day, I was in awe of their generosity to me - so lovingly and happily and willingly given from their hearts. I have really great friends! I really do!

And Monday (okay, this is in no kind of chronological order but it is how I was thinking about it, okay?), another friend rushed over early to help us herd our chickens back into the coop after we inadvertently let them out and were scared to leave the house with the coyote so close. This friend also gives us rides so often, we should be on their insurance! She really makes our lives richer and easier by accommodating us so graciously. I am so grateful for her kindness!

And in the end, I am filled up - filled with the real love and caring of my friends, of the miracle of creation. And I am grateful. Very grateful. I am blessed!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For Half My Life

21 years ago at this time I was in a drugged sleep because of the demerol I didn't want or need but got anyways. 21 years ago I had just given birth an hour and a half before. 21 years ago my journey into motherhood began. And now I have been a mother for half of my life. My beautiful, talented, creative, interesting daughter. I am so grateful to our journey together. She hates it when I write these mushy things. Or so she says. I don't know. Somewhere, deep down, I think she loves it. She loves to hear how much her mother loves her. How could I not? Isn't she adorable?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day of the Coyote

Yesterday was a stressfull day. It started around 9am when a coyote came up on the porch and grabbed our beautiful dove grey ameraucauna cockerel who was destined for New Denver and a happy flock of rooster-less ameraucaunas.... That was bad enough. I ran out there and chased off the coyote but it was too late. And then, the coyote came back 5 times trying for seconds. I spotted it each time and ran out and chased it off before it got anymore of our wee flock. In the end, I was a mess, constantly staring out the window, thinking I saw something moving out there. This morning they ranch cut down all its corn so the field behind our property is just stubble now and they are busy working on the railroad today. So I am hoping that lack of cover and human activity will put off the coyote. So far so good.

I must say that the coyote was beautiful. A large healthy looking dog with a thick, long coat sandy brown with a bit of red and boy could it run! Dean and Rhiannon mean it harm but I can't find it in my heart to hate it or want to hurt it. I just want it to leave my chickens alone....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

This year we decided to travel to Nanaimo to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Here is my pictorial report.

Unusually, we got off to an organized and early start but thanks to insane Kelowna traffic, we missed the Horseshoe Bay ferry and ended up taking the 10:45 from Tswassen - a considerable wait. But that didn't dampen any spirits at all... We were pretty excited - Rhiannon especially.

Luckily it looked like this the whole time we were there so organized family activities out of doors were cancelled and we had the time to travel around and connect with my 9 siblings there (2 missing) and their spouses and children.

A must see on our list was my dear grandfather who still gives very good hugs even if I am not sure he knew who was... I have so many memories of him but I wish I had more... wish I had seen him more often in the last 2 decades so that my children would have more memories of him. And Erin was there by then so our whole family got to visit with him and Renie.

And I got to see this sister... (sorry Laura, maybe you should have smiled for the camera... now this stern picture is down for posterity...)

And this brother....
And this wee-est nephew

and this handsome nephew

and this neice
and this one

And this dapper nephew, too.

And many, many other nieces and nephews who were all cute and handsome and pretty and fun to be around.

And I made pies with the apples, plums and pumpkin I brought from my own garden.

And we had this turkey that my dad carved, as usual.

And then after our family had been so comfortably looked after at different Aunt's and Uncle's and cousin's homes, visiting and playing games, getting our hairs cut, shopping in Coombs, celebrating Erin's birthday (coming on the 18th) and we ate a glorious meal surrounded by ALOT of family and all of my children, we drove home in the sunshine, dropped Erin in Vancouver and made our way to this beautiful valley we love and our dog and cats and chickens.... And now I'm going to have a nap...