Monday, January 29, 2007

The Last Christmas Decoration

Every year I play a little game with the Christmas decorations (you think they are inanimate and incapable of playing this game with me? Well, wait until you hear my tale...) My game is to not miss a single one as I put them away. Somehow they seem to conspire and trick me into leaving one of them out, unwittingly. And it hangs for weeks unnoticed until...

This year I left the box out for 2 weeks after cleaning up. I got all the usual suspects - the stocking hanging on the front door... the stained glass decoration hanging in the kitchen... the Christmas hand towels in the bathrooms... the tea towel that hangs from the stove... All these usual suspects that have tricked me before - being utilitarian I stop noticing them or by hanging in unusual places I don't see them... Not this year! I was smug. I was so sure I got them all this time. I WON! And then... and then... and then... (I can barely admit it...) I found this hanging on the cupboard door in the kitchen. This little mouse. Once again, the decorations won... The last Christmas decoration...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Homelearning Week in Review

So this week Rhiannon and I gave in to our impatience for Spring.... We have this really great book - Gardening Wizardry for Kids. So following its directions, we planted pomegranate seeds, mandarin orange seeds and started some avocado pits. We bought a mango to plant the seed from and we are planning on trying peanuts, too.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

White Spelt Bread

So white spelt bread that looks as good as white wheat bread? How about it? I think it does and there is not a drop of wheat in this recipe and it was easy to make. It rose really quickly. It looks good and most importantly, it tastes good!

8 cups of white spelt flour
3 T sugar

2 T quick rising yeast
1 T salt
2 T oil
2 1/2 cups of very warm water

- measure 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and yeast into bowl
- add very warm water and oil
- mix with beaters until smooth
- add rest of flour one cup at a time
- turn onto counter and knead until dough is smooth (it will be tackier than regular bread).
- place in greased bowl
- grease dough and place in warm spot to rise
- when double in size, shape into loaves and leave to rise again
- when fully risen (about 1.5 inches above loaf pan) bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes
- turn out of pans immediately after removing from oven.

New Hat Post

And here is sneak peak on what you might find there...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On the Bridge

From time to time I am struck with the awe of the Universe. I see again clearly how we always get what we ask for and what we need in ways that we don't always expect. I am so grateful to be so blessed! Yesterday was one of those days.

I met myself on my bridge yesterday. I realized that in our relationships with others, we are only having a relationship with an aspect of ourselves. I met myself in another and faced my insecurities and fears - especially fear of judgement and abandonment. It was exactly what I needed to see as I strive to cross this bridge to live my life on the other side. I needed to see this. I needed to feel it. I needed to be very clear on what I was going to do about it.

I am so grateful also to my wonderful loving friends who support me as I am - a developing human being and lead me to what is highest in myself. You know who you are. Thank you!

Knee Update

First the Good News:

1. My physiotherapist went over the radiologists report and it doesn't say that there is a thinning of the meniscus. Thank God! I am so grateful to Kees Huisken at Vernon Physio. I don't know where I would be without him. He is so incredibly knowledgeable and generous with his time. He says there is nothing unusual in my x-ray report and it doesn't explain why I am in pain.

2. I found a supplement that really works. And it isn't glucosamine or chondritin or any of the regulars that you would think or that people usually recommend for joint pain. It is something that I have never heard of before. My friend Nora told me about it. I am using Serra Force by Prairie Naturals. It is their form of the enzyme serrapeptase - a natural anti-infammatory. I've been taking it since Saturday and my swelling is down and my pain is greatly reduced. I've also been drinking 2 cups of fresh ginger tea everyday (another anti-inflammatory), drinking rooiboos tea and taking extra vitamin C. In fact, today, I have almost no pain at all. My knee feels normal.... almost. Right now, anyways.

3. Dr. Gross from Mt. Sinai called (well, his nurse did) and he ordered x-rays of his own. I am so grateful that he is going to take a look and figure it out.

The bad news:

Only one thing. I still don't know what has caused the pain in my knee. I hate the unknown.... And I am not patient. I want to know NOW!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Homeschooling Week In Review

So this past week, skiing/snowboarding had to be the highlight of our week. January 17 was the beginning of Anchor Academy's skiing/boarding lessons. It is something that we look forward to all day. We take in the lesson in the morning and then spend the rest of the day up there skiing. Of course this year, with my knee problems I have not been able to strap skis on. As well, Rhiannon is doing downhill instead of cross country and my knee isn't ready for that yet anyways.

So this was a big day for Rhiannon. This was the first time for her on downhill skis. I went along in my boots with her for her lesson and helped her out. She had a really hard time doing the snowplow on the little incline we were practising on. Then we were over on the proper bunny hill. The instructor took her all the way down one time at the end of the lesson and then we were on her own. It was amazing to me how she suddenly clicked. Now that she was on a real hill and she actually needed to slow down and stop, she quickly mastered it. I had brought a back pack stuffed full of things for her to do while we waited for Drew who would board until the hill closed at 3:30. But it went unopened. She skiied down that little hill all day with only a half hour break for lunch. After about an hour I was redundant and when I became thoroughly frozen, I went into the cafeteria and watched her through the window. I was truly amazed by her progress!

And I am so glad that she likes skiing. I love skiing. And being up there on Silver Star never fails to bring memories of my first skiing experiences sharply to mind. I can almost see Kitsumkalum where I learned to ski with my grade 7 class. This was not routinely done in those days. I lucked out to be in the class that my teacher (Mrs. Johnson) was the wife of the guy who ran the ski shop and whose son (Ben) was a national level skiing competitor. My parents would have never been able to afford to give me that experience and it is one of the things I really love to do.

It always seems sacred to me up there on the top of mountain - the clean, cold air, the smell of snow and trees and the silence when you find yourself alone in the middle of a run - just the sound of my skis scraping on the snow.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Reflections on the Radiologists

So I made it to my Dr's appointment (with the Dr filling in for my Dr) and got to read the radiologist's report. So. Apparently there is no change in the hardware in my knee - there were 2 screws poking into my joint before and they are the same. What has changed is that there is some 'lipping' (a kind of bone spur on the edge of the tibial plateau) and some thinning of the meniscus. (What is the meniscus, you ask? Why the meniscus is that spongy tissue that absorbs shock between the femur and the tibia. Isn't that cartilage you ask? No, cartilage is the grisly stuff on the end of your bones - that opaque, rubbery stuff... you can learn more about the meniscus here) The Dr I spoke to really didn't know what could be done about such a problem. She was very cooperative about involving Dr Gross.

And I heard from Dr Gross's office and they have already ordered x-rays (new ones) that will be sent to them. I just have to go in and have them taken. And I feel really good about that and relieved that after my phone campaign all week that someone actually did get back to me and they are going to figure out what is to be done.

In the meantime I went to the health food store to see what supplements to take for a 'thinning' meniscus. No one there knew anything about the meniscus and all the supplements for joints were very expensive and I am not sure what to buy. Anyone got some good advice for a joint supplement? My knee is quite inflamed. And I have been doing my own healing on my knee. And I need to lose weight. Not that I think I am fat. I really am okay just the way I am. I like what I see in the mirror. But I know it would be easier on my knee if I lost 15 lbs. If my knee had to carry around 15 pounds less everyday, it could do a little better at coping. I can stand to lose 15 lbs. I've just been lazy about it and comfortable with how I am. But it is time now. For my knee.

And then I also believe that there are many levels to everything and there is a reason I am having trouble with my knee right now. (and I believe it is only ever a good reason). So it has me thinking. I have been doing a lot of canvassing lately for washing windows and I have been very successful. Of course our window washing business is a great blessing for both Dean and I and we are very grateful for that financial stability that it offers us so that we can both pursue paths more meaningful to us. But it is only a bridge. I think perhaps I have been too caught up in the bridge. I need to focus more on getting across the bridge - to living with what is on the other side of the bridge. I have much more to offer the world than clean windows. Not that clean windows aren't important... and symbolic.... There are things I can do that don't require me to walk from door-to-door. I know that I am a gifted counsellor and teacher. And I have been doing more of those things lately. I need to do more.

So I am opening myself up to seeing how I can do more of those things. And I am going to get more organized. It is true that I have a lot on my plate. I am a home learning mother of 3 children (I know I am the mother of 4 children but Erin is no longer at home so she doesn't count here). And being a mother in this way is really important to me. And Dean and I have the window washing business. And then there is the Inner World School - which involves my counselling. Just one of those things is a lot to do. I know that. And if it wasn't for a very inspirational friend that I have who accomplishes an amazing amount, I might think that there wasn't anything else I could do. But the truth is that there is time that I waste. Actually, a lot of time that I waste. I could do a phenomenal job of any one of those things if I dedicated 8 hours a day to it. I don't have 8 hours a day to dedicate to any ONE of those things. But what if I dedicated 2 hours of absolute attention to each of those things. I think I would get more done than I do now. I think my time is scattered and unfocused a lot of the time. And truly that is my nature. But as I ponder on what deeper things that my knee is telling me, it is that it is time to learn discipline and focus my energy. I accomplish quite a bit with my brief spurts of brilliantly focused energy. What would I accomplish if I was consistent? And of course there has been a part of me that was afraid of my own success. I have revisited that again and again. I've worked on it. And worked on it. It is time to stop dawdling on the bridge. My knee's gift to me has always been to push me further, higher, more into myself - who I truly am and what gifts I have to offer.

And of course, I believe that we were each born to be ourselves - that the greatest gift we have to give the Universe is to be who we truly are. And realizing ourselves is a spiral journey that goes deeper and deeper everytime. I think I have gone deep enough here. It is time to step out onto the other side. "And the burning bush said, walk on your new legs".

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Hats.... Oops

Sitting at the ski hill watching Rhiannon ski, I finished off those hats. And then comes the task of taking a picture for the website.... you don't want to know how many pictures I took before I got one I liked... still not sure I like it... The issue mostly is background... I wander around the house wishing I had some really cool place to take pictures of my hats... I take pictures in the kitchen, in the living room, in the homeschooling room and then in the entry way...

So here we are - okay picture of the hat.... but the cupboard is open, stuff is on the counter by the stove... dishes in the sink....

Then there is this one. It might have been okay if I wasn't talking....

Then there is this one. Too much back and the clashing red thermals that I still haven't taken off are showing through my hair....

This one is better but you can still see the kitchen clutter on the right side of the picture.... Still, I might use it.

I like this one but I do look a little owlish and you can see that my eyes are a little bloodshot....

And that is just one hat....

Monday, January 15, 2007


So the Dr's office called today to make an appointment to go over the results of the radiologists report (which is sure to be inaccurate) on my x-rays. And the Dr can't fit me in until Thursday afternoon. I hate waiting. And it is such senseless waiting anyways because no radiologist or orthopaedic surgeon around here is going to know what to do and it will all have to be referred to Dr Gross in Toronto anyways. But I have to go through all this first. And in the meantime I'm doing a lot of sitting... Luckily I have something to do to keep my hands busy. Here are 3 partly finished hats soon to be for sale here. Which is good because its hard to canvas for washing windows on crutches... Would you hire someone to wash your windows who came to your door on crutches? Doesn't really bode well...

Here is my picture of the day. This is Rhiannon skating on the rink that our neighbours made in their backyard. We just bought those skates on Friday and they haven't been sharpened yet but she just won't stay out of them long enough for me to get them sharpened! (picture courtesy of Andrew - thanks, bud!)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Going Crackers

Inspired by two close friends who are just learning how to go without wheat, I decided to make my own crackers sans wheat. I looked up recipes on the internet and started experimenting. The first one I tried was this one: A Sunset recipe. I used 1 1/2 cups of whole grain spelt flour and 1/2 cup of hemp hearts for the flour and oat bran. They were indeed paper thin. The kids liked them a lot. Kind of more like a chip than a cracker as they are quite fragile.

The second one I tried was this one: This recipe was really fun to adjust and experiment with. I liked it because you just make one pan full at a time. You roll the dough right out on the pan. You can experiment with seasonings and then change it for the next batch. Our family's current favourites are this: flour mixture 1/2 cup whole grain spelt, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup hemp hearts with seasoning mixture of simply 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder. Their very favourite was: flour mixture 1/2 cup whole grain spelt, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 cup hemp hearts with seasonings 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.... And my ideas are still rocking! I mean I could use basil and oregano... or there is my dried taragon.... curry.... I made this container full between all my taste testers... And then I made my famous artichoke dip and we dug in!

And why such gourmet snacking, you ask? Well that leads me to my picture of the day.... Not taken by me but by Rhiannon. Happy birthday, babe!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Learning at Home Week in Review

So I am going to start sharing more of the learning that happens here - inspired by other blogs of homeschooling families. Although, if you know many 'homeschoolers' you know that the label of homeschooling is controversial. There are those who really 'do' school at home. And there are those who don't. We don't. My philosophy on learning is one of life long passion that is driven from the inside. There are no schedules, curricula or mandatory events in this house. Some call it 'unschooling', others 'life long learning'. Whatever the label, which really doesn't matter to me - I call myself a homeschooler, an unschooler - or whatever is easiest for people to understand. I want to share a little of what we do.

This week has been dominated by books. In my recent unpacking of book boxes that have been closed up since the move in April, we discovered Erin's hoard of 'Little House' books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I put them up in Rhiannon's room and last week she discovered them and we started reading "Little House in the Big Woods". Unlike other books of this length, she read a great deal of it on her own (usually she reads a bit and then abandons it unless I read the chapters day by day). She finished it in a few days. And now we are on to "Little House On the Prairie". She is loving the books. And now wears a 'night cap' to bed... just like Laura and Mary. Andrew dove into the book "Skybreaker" by Kenneth Oppel. The sequel to "Airship" which we both loved. I am reading it to him as we both love the stories. We can hardly wait until we have time to read together again. There is nothing like being immersed in a few good books. I love how the realities in them simmer on the edges of my thoughts during the day.

And Kaetlyn and I had a meeting with the counsellor at her school as we get ready to set up her homeschooling program for the end of this semester. A whole new adventure. 3 kids at home. I figure either they will kill each other or they will work it out. Either way, there will be peace eventually...

And I learned something... again... this week. In 'unschooling' theory, it goes that you allow your children to find their own limits from within as well as their own passions, etc. This has generally been how I have let things be with my children. With Andrew it meant that I did not wake him up in the morning unless necessary and let him sleep until he had enough. Eventually this came to mean him waking up at 2 and 3 in the afternoon. We hardly got to see each other and I was really missing our interactions. So for the new year, I set a limit. I told him I would wake him up at 10am every morning. And I did. Starting this week. And it was awesome. I had my boy back again. It was so nice to spend time with him. Read with him. And he was happy. Relaxed. And I learned again how there is no 'one right way' to do things. How every kid is different and they need different things from us. I figure I'm in the right direction when they respond with happiness. And how my children respond is far more important than adherence to any one theory or philosophy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Winter Pictures

Rhiannon playing in the snow with our neighbour boy.

My beautiful Black Locust trees that I can't resist photographing... I'd never heard of them before I moved here but I love them. Everyone should have one. They are beautiful without leaves, they have blossoms in the spring that smell soooo sweet! And they give good shade in the summer and make my driveway look very dramatic.

Well, snow is hard and crusty now but Rhiannon likes to slide on the ice that is our driveway...

And today it was so bright and sunny and cold. So cold. -21. Like a prairie winter day. The sky blue and cloudless and the sun so bright. And bitterly cold. A day to stay indoors and make bread. With cold pressing in on the walls and windows, it took a long time to rise but in the end, it was perfect. I was going to take a picture of the delicious Thai Shrimp soup that I made with it.... but Kaetlyn ate the last of it before I could. So this bread is my picture of the day. (Laura)

Here's the recipe for the unseen soup. ( I made it for Dean before he left for Revelstoke today at 3) It is easy and delicious. Everyone loves it except Rhiannon who won't even try it. What can I say? More for us.

This is a weight watchers recipe.

Lime mixture: mix in a small bowl cover for 15 minutes to 2 days.
juice of one lime
1T soy sauce
1T minced ginger
1 t brown sugar
1 t Asian sesame oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t dried chili flakes

Other ingredients
6 cups broth (clam, veg or chicken)
6 oz thin dried Chinese noodles or caprelli
1 lb shrimp, peeled deveined (thanks Denny)
1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb snow peas, sliced in half

Topping (put on top of each bowl)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Bring broth to a boil. Add noodles and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, mushrooms, peas. Return to boil. Reduce heat andsimmer on low until shrimp are opaque and veggies softened. Stir lime juice in and simmer 5 minutes.

A great follow up to this amazing carrot soup.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Coming of the Light

I love this time of year for the same reason I don't like fall. I don't like autumn because it means the shortening of days and the coming of the winter cold. Oddly, I love it when it gets past solstice and I know the days are getting longer, minute by minute, everyday. And we have had days of glorious sunshine here instead of our usual 'valley bottom cloud'. Not every day but every other day or so. The returning of the light. Here is Rhiannon in the sunshine with the cats. I was inspired to offer this from my enthusiasm at the Inner World School:

Welcoming the Light – A Candle Making Workshop for Children (ages 6 – 10)

As the days get longer a minute everyday, we welcome the light. This will be a day of science – studying the meaning of the solstice and the return of sunlight to different indiginous cultures around the world. We will also study the properties of different kinds of wax and how they move from solid to liquid and back to solid. We will make candles and light them with our wishes and intentions for the New Year. There will be playing, learning, wishing and magic!

Date: Saturday, January 27, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Cost: $30 ($7 for members)
Place: Inner World School, 3306B – 32 Ave, Vernon, BC
Facilitator: Andrea Clarke

To register call 503-5416 (Andrea) or e-mail

In a month it will be time to plant seeds in anticipation of our gardens. Tomato seeds and basil seeds and cucumber seeds and zucchini seeds and cantaloupe seeds and pepper seeds, and, and, and. I can hardly wait. Soon I will be buying soil and and peat pots. I couldn't hold myself back at Swan Lake Nursery Land yesterday. I bought these sprouts - Irises. I hope they are purple.... (and that, Laura, would be my photo of the day...)

And for some real fun, check out this video clip on YouTube that Rhiannon made with her new camera of our crazy cats...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Day of the Leg

Here's a story for you....Well, 3 years ago - January 10, 2003 I was recovering from my tibial plateau transplant done in June of 2002. I had a prosthetic brace made in September that allowed me to walk without crutches. On this morning, Dean was gone for a little holiday - due home later that day and I was at home with Rhiannon who was 2 and Andrew who was 9, talking on the phone to a friend about fastball. I was still in my pj's and didn't have my brace on. I was very good on my one good leg and could hop all over the house - I had to be strictly non-weight bearing on my right leg.

I went to stand up and hang up the phone. My notoriously sweaty foot slipped on the carpet. My right leg went instinctively out to catch me. However with 7 months of not being used, I collapsed on it with my leg bent under me and my bum landed on my foot. I fell in a way that would never break anything but I was in sheer agony writing on the ground. I heard my leg snap and I thought that perhaps my ligaments had snapped. I sent Andrew to get clothes and my splint left over from the surgery. I actually managed to get dressed and put the splint on. A friend came and picked me up and took me to the hospital. I probably should have called an ambulance but I didn't want to believe that it was that serious.

There I was in emergency again. In the x-ray lab again. Ken, the x-ray technician and I were on first name basis by this point... When he took the x-ray, he couldn't believe it. My bone had shattered - it was broken in about 17 places. There were not the clean breaks of a healthy bone but crooked breaks through weakened bone. I learned right there just how much our bones are strengthened by weight bearing. Just standing on your own two feet strengthens your bones. A lot.

Wouldn't you know it but the surgeon who screwed up my knee the very first time is the one on call. I refused to let him touch me. I had to wait for 4 days for a different surgeon to come on call before my leg could be set. 4 days that went on forever. Phentenol and I became very good friends. And I learned how to go to the bathroom without moving my leg off the bed. Dr. Torstensen and Dr Parfitt - two of Vernon's best orthopedic surgeons carefully operated on my leg. They put in a plate and screwed my shattered tibia to it with 13 screws. On Dean's 41st birthday. Some party....

13 months later I had the plate and all those screws removed. And today I walk. I don't usually tell this part of the story. It is the sad and seemingly senseless part of the story. But today in the Dr's office, I realized that it had all happened 4 years ago. I can't believe it was only 4 years ago. It seems forever ago. I used to wonder as I sat because I couldn't walk and watching others walk around me without ever thinking about it if I would ever take another step without being conscious of it. It occurred to me this summer as I was hiking in Kal Lake Park that I had got to that point. I didn't think about every step. Not that I am not extremely cautious....

So today, in the Dr's office... I was there because I have been having a lot of pain in my knee - different pain and I was wondering if some of the screws from the transplant were starting to come out of the titanium plate on my femur. He sent me for x-rays. They let me look at the x-rays at the lab. It was a wondrous thing to see. You can't even tell where the transplant was. My bone is so beautiful and smooth - there are no lines... And the screws in my femur look fine. But it looks like the screws that screwed my transplant in are starting to come out and poke up into my joint. I am sure it is a good thing because screws are always a weak point in any bone. It can only be a sign of my body's healing. But I am a little scared of how much it might hurt to get them out. And I really hope I don't have to have general anesthetic because that really throws me for a loop and it takes sooo long to get it all out of my system... And hey, I have yet to hear from an actual Dr or surgeon but that is what I think is coming down.

In the meantime I am taking it easy, putting my leg up, taking advil and passing on the cross country skiing... sadly...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Symbols for 2007

Life is very symbolic for me and this is an especially symbolic time of the year! I washed windows to see more clearly. I finally hung up my mirrors (after moving in April) so see myself reflected more accurately. The biggest thing I did was clean the basement. After Erin storing stuff and then taking it and my brother moving in and out and on top of stuffing things in there for the winter, it was in great need of a cleaning. So I cleaned - I swept up mountains of dirt and I unpacked boxes and organized shelves. And Dean and I made a trip to the dump. All very symbolic - as I clean out my foundation in preparation for the year ahead. And my computer offered up its own symbol for the new year. I didn't have to get a new computer - just a new hard drive. A larger one with expanded capacity. All our data was able to be saved and transferred. Isn't that a great symbol? New expanded capacity? Things that appeared large are now small. A great symbol for the new year. Expanded capacity. A new perspective on the size/importance of things...

I always pick a symbol for the new year. It has to be something that 'comes' to me - that arises from my reflections and meditations. This year my symbol is a circle. To symbolize coming full circle, completion, a return to the beginning at a deeper level with a richer perspective. What is your symbol for the New Year?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Welcome 2007

Well, I have been busy doing my rituals to release the old year and make room for the new. I've cleaned my oven, swept and washed my floors, washed walls and windows. Clearing away last year's energy. Our computer decided to get in on the act and the hard drive packed it in on the 29th. I am hoping the data can be retrieved but it appears that we will be acquiring a new computer for the new year... so posts and comments might be a little scarce...

I spent New Year's Eve with my husband. Redfish played Monashees this year so we got to spend New Years together which we usually don't get to do. I probably prefer a quiet contemplative New Year's Eve but it was wonderful to be with Dean. They played wonderfully, the food was great and the company fun. We got home at 4am to a house Kaetlyn had cleaned spotlessly (she's got to get a life!). She had a couple of friends over, Andrew babysat for friends and Rhiannon spent the night at her grandparents.

I am looking forward to 2007. 7 is my number after all. I was born the the 7th day of the 7th month. I found the courage to finally leave my abusive 1st husband in 1987. I met Dean in 1997. What great thing will happen this year?

So at this time of contemplation, I am so grateful for my life. For Dean who supports me and challenges me and makes our marriage worth it. For my children who I am so thankful to know and who have inspired the greatest growth in my life. For our wonderful homeschooling community. For my friends. My life is full and rich and I am so very grateful for it. Happy New Year everyone!