Sunday, May 27, 2007

New Skin

Before I write another post, I just have to acknowledge my amazing sister, Bethany who has always made my blog look so awesome and unique. I LOVE my new skin! Thank you, Bean! Your graphic talents always amaze me! She writes wonderful stories and poems, too! I love the one about a spider up on her blog right now. She's just got creativity oozing out her fingertips! I am so lucky to have a sister like that.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Today was the garage sale that Century 21 organized. Wow! Century 21 was awesome and our friends were incredible. There was so much stuff! At last count they raised about $6000. They gave us $3, 528.60. With what we already had in the bank and donations through my blog, that puts us $588.60 over the amount needed which means that we can afford to get some sensors for this which are not covered by medical and are $50 a sensor which lasts 3 - 6 days. So they aren't something we would use all the time but they are good to have to use from time to time to check basal rates and if doing something unusual like alot of exercise.

In the end, we decided not to go with the Cozmo pump. Although it has features Kaetlyn would really like and it is just cool looking, too, we found the factory rep (read salesman) difficult to deal with which concerned us about service afterwards. He is based out of Vancouver. We decided to go with the minimed 722 shown above. You can read about it here. Check it out, it is an awesome pump! Minimed has a program that allows you to upgrade to the next model for only $800 within your warranty period (4 yrs). This is a real selling feature for us - especially with what we have just been through to raise this money. And the next time Kaetlyn needs a new pump she will be an adult. And the factory rep is great and is in Kelowna. We put in a call to her today and left a message. We hope to have the pump within the week.

So at the end of this busy day, I am feeling a little stunned. We did it. Buoyed and supported by our friends who love Kaetlyn and by strangers who have never met her. They poured in today, making donations, chatting with Kaetlyn, buying things. One woman (who didn't know Kaetlyn or I) brought some beautiful jewellery to sell at the garage sale but decided to give it to Kaetlyn instead. We are overwhelmed at what our community has helped us do. We are so grateful. Thank you!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Gardeing Update

So last year when we moved in here April 1, there was no vegetable garden. Using rocks to make raised beds, I managed to make (with help) two beds. You can see one of them here. Remember our quail attack?

Well, this year I have been busy and coercing anyone I can to help me. I have made several other beds. Here is my garden pictorial report.

This is the view of the whole garden. You can see at least a part of every bed

Here are 20 of the 31 tomato plants I have planted so far. I have about 10 plants left over that I have started myself (want some?) I will plant maybe a couple more and that's it. This bed is also full of dill and cilantro which self-seeded from last year. Which is a good thing as none of the cilantro I have planted has come up. In those bare spots I have broadcast planted basil so eventually it should be one mass of herbs.

I love zucchinis but they take up so much room in a bed so this year I made them little round beds like this. I've got 2 made and one more to go. We'll see how they like it.

And this bed is a real gift. I had access to as many free strawberry plants as I could take but nowhere to put them. Then my neighbour brought me over 3 loads of soil with her tractor. So this is my round strawberry bed. I've planted some black turtle beans in it, too and that tee pee is for them.

I'm loving my garden. Dean calls it my P&J (pride and joy). That's what he calls it on a good day, not on one where I have coerced him into hauling rocks after he's worked all day or on the one morning he could sleep in... I've also got some blueberry bushes yet to plant and some raspberry plants growing in buckets... Inspired by this man I am also going to plant some lemon seeds in tree stumps just to see what happens. If he can do it in Austria, surely it is not impossible in the Okanagan.

Today, I'll be planting out my peppers and I'll start hardening off my melons.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Help Needed

The big garage sale for Kaetlyn's new insulin pump is this Saturday, May 26 from 8am - 2pm. I got an e-mail from the lady at Century 21 who is organizing it that they are short on donations. So here is my call out for donations of saleable stuff. They can be dropped of at C21 between 9 and 1 but if that doesn't work, they are very willing to accommodate. Just call them 549-2103. We need $3,000 more for Kaetlyn's pump. We are so grateful to all the support we have received. See you on Saturday! And if you would like to make a donation directly for her pump, you can do so below through paypal.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hard To Stomach

When dealing with the homeless, our society seems to be of the opinion that people are homeless because we give them a place to sleep at night. I've heard it in coffee shops and seen it in the news and read it in the papers - people complaining about the homeless in their area and wanting the law to move them on. So we move them on and we move them on but it really is 'same shit, different pile'. Mostly, we say to the homeless, "you can't stay here". People grouse about the increase in homelessness. But why are there more homeless? Why are they increasingly desperate? It couldn't be because of cut in social funding, the elimination of programs that really helped people who needed it, could it? Or the ridiculous rise in rents and lack of social housing? For 5 years, I worked with people who were considered barely employable in an extensive program designed to really give them the support they needed to be successful. Funny, in that time, I never met anyone who wanted to be on welfare. I heard stories that made me realize that the difference between me and 'them' was luck and a social network. It would break your heart to hear some of their stories. I was sickened to read in the paper that funding to the two shelters in Vernon was cut and their doors were closed. Now bylaw officers chase them around the city at night, moving them on from one place to the next. Telling them they can't stay there. Really, where can they stay? This whole tack is so illogical and so utterly lacking in compassion and understanding, that it disgusts me. Doesn't anyone in charge have a brain? A heart?

Then, while listening to CBC yesterday, I heard that Gordon Campbell who cut the program that I worked for and has never replaced it, is proposing a 22,000 a year increase in MLA's individual salary. People on welfare live on half of that annually. And since he came into government, programs have been cut that help the poor and as they suffer and struggle, the government's message is 'you can't sleep here' and with the excess in their budget from cutting programs for the poor, the elderly, the sick and injured and children, they give themselves a raise (or try to). What is wrong with this picture? Its hard to stomach!

Monday, May 14, 2007


I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day and if your family didn't look after you the way you were hoping that at least you looked after yourself! I had a wonderful Mother's Day planned. As usual (as it has been for the last 6 years, anyways) my Mother's Day was going to start at the ball diamond. This week end was Vernon's Fastball tournament for Kaetlyn's age group. I was hopeful, though, after getting the schedule. They were playing 2 teams they lost to last week and then two really, really good teams from the coast who would probably go undefeated. Which means that her team probably wouldn't go to playoffs and we would be done with the tournament by noon on Sunday. (great attitude, I know - completely self serving...)

I had told my family that I didn't really want gifts. What I wanted was their time - to be all together and I could really use their help in my garden getting the last beds done as the weather heats up and May 24 fast approaches and my window sills are overgrown with plants needing to be planted outside. Then after working in the garden to go to Juniper Bay (my favourite beach) and have a picnic supper. They were all game (except Erin who had to work but she hates working in the garden and hiking.... so I bet she asked for extra shifts... lol!) and I was really looking forward to it.

Saturday morning started perfectly. Kaetlyn was very eager to get to the tournament. She wanted to be at the diamond by 6:30 to warm up for her 8 am game (everyone else would get there around 7). She wanted to be really on for pitching. She was excited. She loves her team and her coaches. She has been saying how this is her best year - great coaching and a great team. And for her, great coaching means fairness and that she is learning a lot. And it is true. I would say it is her best year, too.

I watched the game until 9am when I left to go and coach Rhiannon's t-ball team. Our practise started at 10am but I had to pick up gear and get organized. I rushed home after and got ready to go to Kaetlyn's next game which was at noon and it was now 11:30. I never check messages when I am only home to leave again quickly but I checked the call display. There were several 'unknown name, unknown number' calls. And I knew. I knew in a way that a mother knows. I listened to the last message. It was Erin. Kaetlyn was in emergency. She's broken her ankle.

So I rushed to the hospital with Rhiannon nagging me about speeding... There she was in the ER, with tears running out of the corner of her eyes. And she wasn't crying from pain. She was crying because she let her team down and now she won't be playing ball for the rest of the season. Or umpiring. I asked to see the x-rays and they showed me. Her fibula had a spiral fracture and it was displaced and the bottom of her tibia called the malleolus was broken on the lateral side but not displaced. She needed surgery to set the fibula. They would put a very small plate in for the fibula and a screw in for the malleolus.

So do you realize that 6 years ago, when Mother's Day was on May 13, I broke both my tibial plateaux on a Sunday morning. And here she breaks the other end of her tibia on May 12 - 2 days after she turns 16!

But I digress.... I stayed with her and held her hand. By 1:30 they had her upstairs in a room. By 2pm they discharged her because the OR was so backed up (normal conditions since the wonderful Gordon Campbell government) and they wouldn't have time to get her in - maybe for 3 or 4 days.... So they sent her home with a prescriptions for T3's with her ankle in a splint. But it was several hours of agony that didn't let up. I was by her side constantly with her clutching on to me as it hurt. Nothing could distract her from the pain and the T3's didn't touch it. So we got all ready to go back in. I sponge bathed her and packed things for her to do and she got into he own pj's.

Back at the hospital they were wonderful. The did some fancy footwork and just erased from the computer that she ever left and got her back upstairs in a hurry. Up there it took 2 and a half hours and 3 doses of morphine an hour apart along with some gravol to get her so she wasn't writhing in pain. Her blood pressure started to climb and her blood sugars were all over. So I slept the night on a fold out chair that was actually quite comfortable and tested her blood every 2 hours and watched over her. I think the nurse that night did some insisting because first thing the next morning they got her into surgery.

There were so many miracles throughout this ordeal. Like the nurse on duty the first afternoon she was admitted was a mother of boy in Kaeltyn's class and she has known her since she was 7. And she was her nurse when she was diagnosed with diabetes and spent a week up there, too. When we came back, our nurse was Gobby, my friend Karen's good friend whose daughter is in my dance class. They were so kind to her. Our night nurse, Yolanda, although we didn't know her before, she was so incredibly kind to Kaetlyn and took her pain seriously. Kaetlyn is a really tough kid. Last week end I watched her take a line drive to the shin while pitching and she shook it off and hardly missed a beat. So when she says it hurts, it really hurts! When they wheeled her down to the OR the Dr who met her there who was assisting the surgeon was the father of a girl she has played ball with since she was 10. And the nurse in recovery was also the mom of kids she knew who Kaetlyn has known since she was very young. Everywhere they knew her and cared about her and Kaetlyn felt loved and supported. It was no coincidence, I am sure. And she let herself need me and called me mommy and clung on to me and I held her hand. And when they opened up her ankle they discovered that the malleolus was only cracked - 2 or 3 small cracks but it was not broken off. This is a major weight bearing bone so this was very good news. The surgery went really well - it was better than they had anticipated. I am sure that is because of all the prayers and loving energy sent her way. I think this break is a very symbolic thing. She is breaking with a past of being alone with her diabetes - a past of hating her diabetes - a past of feeling cursed by her diabetes - a past of feeling unloved and disconnected. As I held her through all of this and we clung to each other, I could feel generations of stuff slipping away - generations of the mother/daughter rift from my side of the family and generations of not looking after the body from her dad's side of the family. This morning when I woke up, I awoke thinking that her name is so significant. I named her for my sister Katie (Katherine) who I always saw as being so strong and, unlike me, was able to break away from family patterns to have more of her own life.

And it wasn't such a bad Mother's Day. I sat with Kaetlyn most of the time. She slept peacefully and I knitted and read and wrote in my journal. The room was very quiet, the sun shone through the windows. I made phone calls to update people. And at home my boys cleaned the house. I went and bought some organic, probiotic yogurt and some dried fruit (all those years of avoiding antibiotics and she has had 3 bags of them as the hospital's standard surgery procedure) and went home so Dean could drop me off and keep the van. Rhiannon stayed and played some Uno with Kaetlyn. Dean came back at 7pm and took me home for Mother's Day dinner with an ice cream cake (his favourite). I called and Kaetlyn was doing well and it was okay with her if I slept at home. I went to bed at 8pm. Now it is back to the hospital. They will be releasing her this morning. We'll take a cab home when she is ready while Dean works. And then I am going to be 'on call'. Worse things could happen....

Thank you so much everyone! Your love and support has meant more than you will ever know!

Monday, May 07, 2007

What Nature Provides

So right now I am reading "Living the Good Life"by Linda Cockburn. It is her account of her family living only on what they could grow in their city 1/2 acre lot in Australia for 6 months. And Rhiannon and I are finishing up the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've read "The First Four Years" on my own. And the other thing I am doing is planting and expanding my gardens. All of this has got me thinking. Its all converged in my mind.

From Laura's books, I have been thinking about what Eurpean settlers and governments did to the North American prairies. Laura talks about how quiet and still it is on the prairie as the buffalo have all been slaughtered, the natives been driven off the land (although she says Indians) and wild birds and other wildlife like antelope move on as the settlers move in. And I feel so sad to read about that and I long to have been alive then, to see what the wild west was really like.... And then Laura talks about the natural disasters that come and destroy the settler's crops time and again. Almanzo isn't able to keep his claim and neither is Pa.

And then while reading Linda Cockburn's book and her struggles to grow the food they are accustomed to eating which isn't even close to being native to Australia and she muses about the naturalness of it all.

And all around me, dandelions are blooming. My lawn, my driveway, my fields are yellow with their fuzzy cheerfulness. This place used to be an organic farm. I don't know if it was ever certified but I know they used organic practises. So for the first time, it has been safe to pick dandelions and collect the heads and roots for tea because no herbicides have been used here for a very long time, if ever. A friend of mine and I have been talking about dandelions and collecting them together. And she said something that kind of gelled all these different threads together. She said, "What would it be like if we honoured the dandelion for its healing properties and everyone picked them and used them." (or something like that)

Yes, what would it be like? I mean, the dandelion is completely edible. The flowers, the leaves, the roots. I have long put the leaves into spring salads from the garden. It is a good immune system booster, too. When I am sick, I often make myself ginger/lemon/dandelion blossom tea. But in our society, we spray chemicals on the dandelions and slowly poison our drinking water and our soil through the use of it. Then we go to the store and pay money to buy pills with dandelion in it when we are sick... what is wrong with this picture?

Look at this basket of fluffy yellow flowers. Who says this is a weed? What if we were to eat what nature provided for us? What if we were to cultivate what already grows here? After all aboriginal peoples ate from the land for millennia before we came here. They didn't need lawns or rice or beef.... We try too hard to make things grow where they were never meant to grow and we ignore the good things that grow without effort.

And I don't mean to say that that I don't have tomato seedlings on my window sills along with peppers and cucumbers. Or that I don't have a garden that I cultivate. Or that I won't be picking plums for the 5 acre organic orchard on my property. But I am striving to be more aware of what grows right around me effortlessly and how it can be used. I am thinking about honouring the dandelion.

This tea towel in the middle of my kitchen table, covered in dandelions in various stages of drying, has been there for a week and it will continue to be there until dandelion season is through. I have a large storage jar on my counter filling up with dandelion heads. And I want to dig up some roots and find out how to preserve and use them, too.

So, what do you think? What if we ate what nature provides us with?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Girls Week End in Summerland

This week end Kaetlyn had a fastball tournament in Summerland so her and I and Rhiannon headed down to Penticton for a 'girls week end'.

I suppose this story started a long time ago. When we moved to the Okanagan almost 13 years ago, we figured "when in Rome..." so when you are in the Okanagan, you have to play ball. I signed Erin up to take a softball clinic through the rec centre when she was 8. The next year, we got a registration in the mail from Vernon Minor Fastball and she signed up. Playing fastball was always a challenge for Erin. Although she is very coordinated and naturally athletic, she is extremely hard on herself if she ever screws up on anything the slightest bit. Playing ball was something that she stretched herself to do - outside her comfort zone. That first year that she signed up with VMFA, I noticed that they had a t-ball program for Kaetlyn's age group and signed her up. She played a couple of years of t-ball and took some time off to try soccer. She started again when she was 10 - Squirt division which is when they start to play with regular ball rules, uniforms and against other teams. I got involved in VMFA's board and did registration and organized tournaments.

Kaetlyn loved it. She has played ever since. She has struggled with not-so-great coaches and unfriendly teams but she loves the game and she has persisted. When she was 12 she started umpiring (this is the first game she ever umped). She has excelled at umpiring. The teams love her and she is well respected. It is a great outlet for her innate bossiness and love of order.

This year she is on an awesome team. The best fit she has ever had. The coaches are fair and her natural leadership is valued. The girls on her team look up to her and her coaches appreciate her even attitude - she doesn't 'get down' on herself and she encourages her team mates. Although she is a pitcher and a good one at that (check out this link to Youtube for an example from this week end...) And wow was she on this week end. She was smoking. She has been clocked at throwing a pitch at 48km's an hour and that was a couple of years ago. They were going faster this week end, that is for sure! She was in the groove! It was so fun to watch her.

We stayed with Dean's Aunt and Uncle who live in Penticton, above the water who fussed over us and made great food! And Kaetlyn and I got to spend some great time together and Rhiannon watched some ball. She says she is going to be a pitcher, too... My face is brown and I think I am going to be one of those old ladies whose lipstick runs into the cracks around mouth... my lips have got sun burnt so many times watching my daughters play ball...

Here are some of my favourite photos from this week end. When I watch her, I think what an amazing daughter I have and what a body! Beautiful and strong and... wow! (and why does her mouth look funny? Her mouth guard, of course - to protect those $4000 teeth!) And did we win? Well, no. Not one game but that is besides the point. They were all close and her team played awesomely! They never lost by more than 4 runs and they played some pretty good teams.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Current Total

So our current total for Kaetlyn's insulin pump is $3, 267. We are more than half way there. And I know there is still some money outstanding from the garage sale so our total is probably a little over $3, 300....

And yesterday.... and yesterday.... Mary Sue and I had a meeting with Century 21 about the garage sale scheduled for May 26th in their parking lots downtown. Last year they had one for Mark Gadmer, the local hockey player who was struck with encephalitis last year and was hospitalized in Vancouver for 8 months. They are excited to do one this year for Kaetlyn. Sun FM is going to be on location and Erin has agreed to be on location with them and one of the realtors. Do you know how much money they raised last year? They raised $8,000! So I have 3 phone calls to make. One to the pump company to make sure they have a pump to us by the beginning of June and to arrange method of payment, one to the diabetes clinic to see if there are more families who would like to join us in our fundraising because we should have enough for 2 pumps by the end of the garage sale, and one to the paper to do a story about Kaetlyn and our fundraising.

So if you have any stuff to donate to the garage sale or you know anyone who would like to donate stuff to the garage sale, they can take it to Century 21 from May 16 - 24 between 9am and 1pm. They will have a semi trailer parked near them from Allied van lines to store stuff in. If you can't make it in during those hours, call and they will make arrangements. Also we need about 20 volunteers to set up starting at 6am on the 26 and to take down and get all the left over stuff to second hand stores starting at 2pm (we will have the 2 Century 21 vans to make deliveries with). And of course, people to collect money and sell stuff on the 26th. Lets raise even more than they did last year. I'm aiming for $10,000 myself (and Mary Sue is probably aiming for even higher, she usually is...). That will be enough for 2 complete pumps and some money towards a third.