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.