Monday, March 26, 2007

Hello, my name is Andrea

And I have a seed problem.... I can't help it, I love seeds. My indoor planting has been delayed by the availability of organic potting soil - being available when I have the van at my disposal. Finally on Friday I bought an entire bale of it as the bags just never came in. So, I started planting - making my own 'peat pots' out of newspaper (brilliant, Mary Sue!). And then I realized that I didn't have any marigold seeds. And of course, I must have marigolds! So I went to Briteland to get some marigold seeds.... and this is what I came home with. You can see the marigold seeds there, right? Can't you? Honest, they are there....

Here is my first tray of planted seeds - the last of last year's peat pots and this year's newspaper pots....

This is what my kitchen table looked like for the entire week end.

And here is what all my windowsills are starting to look like. That little sprout is a pomegranate seed Rhiannon and I planted at the beginning of Feb... At least I hope it is. It took so long to sprout, I do have my doubts - maybe it is a spore from the soil....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Little Things

One of the problems with mass media and our global awareness is that it can all be a little overwhelming. When we look at the problems facing our globe, our world, our earth, our home, it can seem like we are so far gone that there is no point. The problems are so huge and we are so little. Surely what I, one person, does can't make a difference.... I think humans were meant to live in small communities. I think it is overwhelming to find our individual identity when we think of the billions of people who live here with us.

Yet, I believe this is an illusion.... a dangerous illusion.... an illusion that is careening our species to extinction. And I think that there is a shift in consciousness. I think that the number of people uncomfortable with our consumer driven culture is growing. And I think we need to support each other in our efforts so that we know that we are not alone. And I think that every little thing matters.

Here are some of the little things I am doing to live more in harmony with the earth.

Compact fluorescent bulbs that use less electricity.

Not using my dryer. This means being more organized for me. If I do a load of laundry every day, I can mostly avoid using the dryer at all. It is when it piles up that I run into problems. Even with no wonderful wood heat flowing around my clothes horse, most things dry in 24 hours. And the clothes last a lot longer, too - black things stay black.

And with the money I save on those 2 things, I splurge on this more expensive dish detergent (it's only $1 more than regular kinds). And this is what it says on the back of the bottle: "You are making a difference. If every household in the US replaced just one bottle of 25 oz petroleum based dishwashing liquid with our 25 oz vegetable based product we could save 81, 000 barrels of oil, enough to heat and cool 4, 600 US homes for a year.

"Our natural dish liquid gets your dishes sparkling clean yet is gentle on your hands and the earth. We use only ingredients that do not pose any chronic health risks and are safe for the environment..." What do you think? How about replacing one bottle? Now that I've tried it, I love it! I'm never going back. It will be many bottles for me!

Did you know that all those 'phosphate free' dish soaps are petroleum based? Did you know that this company, Seventh Generation, ensures that all their practises and ingredients will not harm the planet down to the 7th generation? In todays 'bottom line' driven economy, companies so often think only of the profit right now and not how it will impact the environment in 1 year let alone in140 years.

So, these are some of the little things I am doing.... How about you? For a great list of suggestions and books, try here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pictures from the first days of Spring

The morning sun shining on a misty, cloudy day

Snow drops - the first brave flowers. And the beginnings of red poppies.

Buds that will become beautiful pink blossoms very soon.

And our bikes. Liberated from the basement. They've already been used for a couple of long trips!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coquihalla Pondering

So yesterday evening at 10:30pm, Dean and I got in the van (cleaned and filled with gas by me) with a bunch of snacks (that we never eat - why do I always grossly over estimate?) and headed for Surrey. We were on our way to get our passports. Dean is heading to Nashville April 8 so we needed to do the fast track thing which you can do by filling out the online application and then going to a Passport Office (of which there are only 4 in BC and all in the lower mainland/island - UNFAIR, I say!) The Coq was terrible (deep slush) and it took us 6 hours to get there. And so we arrived at the passport office at 4:30am. And sat in our lawn chairs in line. And we weren't first. We were 10th and 11th! By 5:30 the line wrapped around the building. By 7:30 it was down the block.... But I digress....

We were admitted into the building (the first 30 people) at 7:45, the office opened at 8 and by 8:30 we were back at our van and heading home. Making that drive through the mountainous wilderness always makes me ponder our relationship to the environment. Today my thoughts (aided by many shots of caffeine because like most Clarkes, I cannot bare to let someone else drive and I did most of the 11 hours of driving.... Clarkes being naturally superior drivers, even if we do say so ourselves and tend to be a little on the fast side....) started to think about all the resources used by Dean and I to procure our passports. The gasoline, the emissions, the disturbance of large tracts of wilderness as we passed through it, the resources used for making the Coquihalla and maintain it, the plow/sanding trucks emissions and fuel used to clear the road for us, the wildlife habitat that was destroyed to create the highway, the resources used to make our van, the resources used to make the factory, the emissions of the factory, and so on... And I couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't a better way to do it? Really, there is an illusion of the government saving money by having so few passport offices. Yet the cost to the environment for the travel necessary in cases like ours, is a cost that we all bear in different ways - the government is responsible for the maintenance of the roads, for example, which get more wear and tear when we have to travel like this. I bet in the long run, it would be more cost effective to have passport offices in local centres. A drive to Kelowna at 4:00am would have used a lot less resources!

And then I started to think about what it would be like if we had to acknowledge and be conscious of the resources used for everything that we use. Like if when we went to the grocery store, instead of the steak being just anonymous meat, before we could purchase it, we had to realize all the resources that went into making that steak, all the resources that were used to grow the grain to feed the cow, the gas used to power the tractor, all the resources used to get the oil and turn it into gas or diesel, the emissions of the tractor, the efforts of the rancher, the resources used to round up the cow... And also we had to realize where this cow lived and how it lived to provide us with this steak. Or if when we went to buy toilet paper, we had to acknowledge all the resources that went into that paper, the trees that were cut, the fuel that the machinery used, the emissions they made, the resources used to build the pulp mill, the cost to the environment for the emmissions (and I spent 8 years in Prince George, so I have an idea of this... the smell of PG is the smell of the pulp mill on most days... kind of like a ripe fart), the polution created to bleach it, the fish that died, the waterways that were killed, and so on. Or when we went to buy a car, we had to come to terms with all the resources used to make the car and the factory to make the car and the impact that using the car would have on the environment... I think you get the idea. How would that change how we consume? Because I think it would.

For several years awhile ago, I got myself some bummer lambs (lambs whose mother's had either died or rejected them) and bottle fed them joyfully with my children and raised them and then had them slaughtered and butchered. And then we ate them. In fact the day they came back from the butcher, the first chops would go on the BBQ and we would celebrate and enjoy our lamb. Friends who were ravenous carnivores criticized me for 'exposing my children' to this barbarism. And wondered how I could bare to eat those cute creatures who we named, bottle fed and played with. My retort was that all meat was cute once and that I think if we all had to see what our meat looked like before it gave it's live for our nutrition, that there would be a lot more vegetarians and that people in general would eat a lot less meat! I also I would rather know that the meat I am eating had a good life and was treated with love while it was alive.

This all leads me to ponder the danger in the disconnect of our urban lifestyle. It seems predisposed to imbalance. The milk we drink comes from a plastic jug. The meat we eat comes from the store. The butter and cheese, the noodles, the beans all come from the store. Considering the ultimate source is often distasteful. Our food is anonymous. We are disconnected from the source. We do not have to grapple with the ethical questions of the rain forrests in the Amazon cut down for our soy milk when we purchase the chaste carton in the store. We do not have to face the lives of cattle or chickens raised in factory farming situations when we pick up the packages of meat in the cooler. We do not have to face the loss of bird habitat, prairie dog and other small rodents' habitat that have been destroyed for the grain to make our bread and pasta and to feed the stock to feed our voracious appetite for meat. Or that the herds of bison were slaughtered for the 'progress' of the railroad and the many natural habitats that have been destroyed for our homes... and the second and third homes. These casualties are so old now that only their ghosts faintly roam the land.

I believe that it is true, the 'blind shall see' and that our 'secrets will be shouted from the housetops'. I believe that there is always an end to the darkness of ignorance. I believe that sooner or later, we always have to face the consequence of our actions. Always. Anytime we embark on an action, the end result, the consequence for good or bad, is inevitably set. And the actions that we have taken as a society, although they are not held to account in the same generation will ultimately be held to account.

When?........ How about now....

And when I got home, I find that my friend who inspires me is pondering the same things today. You can read what she wrote here

Monday, March 19, 2007


I spent the entire day outside yesterday. Rhiannon and I started the day with another hike down to Cosen's Bay with some friends. Although it wasn't really sunny, it was a beautiful day. This was supposed to be a picture of Rhiannon running through the water (she wore her bathing suit this time) but by the time I clicked, she had run.... Its a nice picture of Cosen's Bay anways.....

With the sudden onset of freezing and snow in the fall, there were beets and carrots unpicked in my garden. So, here is my 'spring' harvest (although it isn't spring until Wednesday). Those are purple dragon carrots. I ate one yesterday - still delicious!

When we got back from the hike, I couldn't bear to go inside when it was so beautiful out! Rhiannon and I set to work on the gardens. Here we are about half way through. The bed on the left is mostly weeded. On the bed on the right you can see the remains of Drew's winter jumps - pieces of his old dresser that he used for it....

The cats kept watch over us from high up the trees.

Rhiannon is a great helper. She also had compassion for the 'weeds' we pulled out and tried to find other places for them to grow. She said they needed to 'learn' not to grow in the garden.

Here is what it looked like when I ran out of energy at about 5pm. Both beds are weeded. The sawdust is spread and my new bed is started.

Then we made a cooking fire out of the many, many sticks and twigs that have blown off the trees in the winter winds and roasted smokies and had rootbeer floats and came in smelling smoky! I had a bath and fell into bed loving the feeling of spending the entire day outside!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring is coming....

These pictures were taken on Sunday, March 11. My favourite hiking companion and I hiked from the 'Red Gate' down to Cosen's Bay along with the Jo-dog. When we started there was a very fine drizzle that was more like walking through a mist. That stopped and it was just over cast but beautiful. The clouds clung low on the hills.

Rhiannon wanted to go swimming despite the temperatures only hovering around 7 degrees. Dean claims that it is his genes as he loved to swim in the icy cold Lynn Creek when he was a boy. So, Rhiannon started to strip down but she only got as far as taking her coat, boots and socks off. And the most she did was dash quickly through the water. It was a beautiful, soothing, peaceful day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pump Update

So we had a wonderful meeting on Friday night. I am so grateful to everyone who came out. This is the pump that Kaetlyn wants. She wants the black one... And I can hardly believe that so far we have earned $1550.00. $1030 was donated through the website and the rest brought to our celebration of support get together. Thank you all my dear friends. It did my mother's heart so much good to see my daughter surrounded by her community - her tribe. I could see how much it meant to her. And many others have contacted me with their intention of support. Thank you to all of you. I will keep our progress posted here. And Bean, would it be possible to make some kind of graph so that we could see how close we are getting to our goal?

Here are the candles and all the written intentions of the people who came.

Here they are glowing into the night - our beacon of hope.

So we decided on a couple of courses of action. We are going to have a huge garage sale April 28/29. We are working on location - hope to have it somewhere central. Some of her friends are organizing a bake sale at the new Safeway (Vernon Square). If you'd like to be involved, too, let me know. We are going to contact local Rotary and Lion's clubs and ask for their support. We have decided against Variety for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that the pump would belong to them and we would not be free to trade it in for another pump. We will also be having some kind of celebration on May 10 - that is Kaetlyn's 16th birthday. Our goal is to have her pump by then. And we plan on raising in excess of what we need to Kaetlyn and being able to donate money to another child's pump and perhaps start a fund raising stint in Vernon until every child in our community who wants a pump, has one - so that no child isn't able to have the best in medical care because of finances or the lack of insurance. You can still donate or order cards from here:

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday Morning

I'll update about Kaetlyn's starting ceremony tomorrow. It was wonderful! But for today I leave you with this horrid picture and this bit of morning conversation.

Rhiannon: But you haven't cut up my pancake
Me: (cutting up pancake) You could always cut it up yourself. When I was your age, I was cutting up my own pancakes...
Rhiannon: That doesn't impress me ...

And here is me this week. I have entered every room lips first. That weird little cold sore on the inside of my bottom lip? It spread and spread and spread. Can you see that it starts just below my NOSE?!? and goes below my bottom lip? A cold sore that spans two lips! Its the worst one I have had in years!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Insulin Pump Update and Invitation

It has been so wonderful to get so much support for Kaetlyn. I am so grateful to everyone who has offered support and ideas both here and in private e-mails and in person. Thank you.

I have some good news. I have contacted the pump company and they have knocked $1000 off of the price right away - so there is our first $1000! Kaetlyn and I will be opening a special savings account that people can deposit to if they want to contribute and that we can have in the paper or on the radio. And you can donate right here, too.

To start things off, we are going to have a ritual/celebration of support this Friday, March 9 at 6:30pm. Kaetlyn and I are inviting everyone who would like to come and be a part of it to please come. We will have a jar to collect our first contributions and we will do a ritual as a community, supporting Kaetlyn to set our intention to raise the money for her pump. And we will talk and make some plans, too. Any excess money that we raise we will donate either to JDRF (Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation) or to another child saving for an insulin pump. So please come Friday evening. It will be here at our house.

And to start off the fund raising, our good friend, Bozenka has donated all profits from this art card to Kaetlyn's fund. This card is made from a painting that Bozenka painted for Kaetlyn 4 years ago. She sells it with her other art cards ( This one is the diabetes fairy.

There is an option when you are ordering to include shipping or not. If you live in Vernon, don't include shipping. The cards are printed here in Vernon and I can ship them to you within 3 days of ordering.

The card is available in the following sizes:

Small - 4 3/8" x 2 3/4" $2.50

Medium - 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" $4.5o

Large - 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" $6.00

Extra Large (poster) - 8.5" x 11" $19.95

And this is the inscription on the back of the card. Her name is Kaetlyn because she is the portrait of Kaetlyn, a magical child with diabetes. She is sweetness and inspiration even at times when it is not easy for her. Each rose extends one of Kaetlyn's personal victories to you. Remember Kaetlyn is a magical fairy. She gives hope for tomorrow, courage and wonder for today because like every child with diabetes, she can.

Knee Update

Well, I got a phone call from Dr. Gross on Thursday. Dr. Gross is the surgeon in Toronto who did my tibial plateau transplant after my accident. He has reviewed my x-rays after they took the longest route possible by mail, I am sure! Anyways, he says that my knee looks good. That the pain I am experiencing is not from my knee. YAY! He says (as I came to suspect when the swelling went down) that the pain must be coming from the plate in my femur.

I had been told that in order to have that out, it would be major surgery and a whole new incision up the side of my thigh. I asked him about this and he said, no, it is not major surgery an they can simply re-open my old scar (vs creating new scar tissue) and take it out. But I would have to be on crutches for 6 weeks afterwards. He told me to think about it. And right on cue, it flared up again and was aggravated everytime I walked down the stairs.... okay.... He says he can arrange for a surgeon to do it here in BC. I said I was cool with that so long as they didn't screw it up. He laughed and said he'd make sure they didn't.

So.... I'm hoping they can do it soon so I don't have to be on crutches in the summer.... (I wonder if I can still ride my bike? Its not weight bearing....)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

You Know What They Say About March....

In like a lion, out like a lamb? These pictures were taken this morning. It's March 3 and its the second time it has snowed in March.... So I am wondering if there will be more to the old adage about March than there turned out to be about the groundhog this year.... because according to that little rodent, winter was over....

Friday, March 02, 2007


It started last Sunday. Dean got that horrible, horrible flu going around. By Tuesday night I had it. I haven't been so sick with the flu since I was 18 and at BYU. On Wednesday, I was totally out of it. My head was excruciating and every centimetre of my body was aching. I actually cancelled everything we had on our schedule today (Friday) and I have never done that before for my own sickness. I cancelled my Butterfly Class and Rhiannon's violin lesson. This afternoon Rhiannon came down with it. She couldn't even walk up the stairs to bed or eat an entire popsicle.

And to my dismay, I discovered the beginning of a coldsore in the weirdest place - on the inside of the middle of my bottom lip... I usually get one in February.... I almost made it!

Anyways, I have lots to update - news about my knee - news about Kaetlyn's insulin pump. Look for it over the next couple of days as my eyes can stand looking at the screen and my spelling makes more sense...:)

I leave you with this funny scenario from bedtime the other night:

Rhiannon was watching me get changed for bed after a meeting I had on Tuesday - she woke up when I got home.

Rhiannon: Why don't you wear your bra to bed?
Me: Because it isn't comfortable.
Rhiannon: oh......
Me: Do you want me to wear my bra to bed?
Rhiannon: yes
Me: Why?
Rhiannon: Because it makes your breasts not baggy....

hehe from the mouths of babes!