Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So, we are currently without internet. And they have to come to the house to fix it so it won't be on until this Friday and then I'll be on my way to Calgary for our annual end of summer fling. This will be the first year we won't be back-to-school shopping for anyone. We'll be chilling and hanging with our peeps!

Anyways, it is probably a good thing that we are not plugged in right now. There is so much to do at this time of year and I am already busier than usual. We have had company pretty steadily since the neices and nephews came in April. We've had only a week or two between visits or our own excursions. I have loved the company! But it has put me seriously behind on my food preservation.

It is interesting to see what our life is like without access to the world wide web. We read more books and talk more to each other and get more accomplished in general. I really have to learn to regulate myself better when we are hooked up again.

In the meantime I have discovered a fantastic knitting book by Cat Bordhi. It is called New Pathways for Sock Knitters. Laura, you have to get it or at least check it out of your library. (you, too, Joanne) It teaches you how to knit socks with 2 circular needles so you won't have to figure out all that dpn stuff and she is amazing. She takes complex knitting and reduces it to simply increasing and decreasing and her explanations are really, really good. I usually find written instructions difficult to say the least if I have never done it before but she is very clear and breaks it down. She suggests that you practise by knitting baby socks. H already has a pair of pink bamboo that I took to her last night. Right now I have another pair on the needles for Elizabeth in the same self striping yarn as Rhiannon's socks. What else do you do while sitting through swimming lessons?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What Cool Rainy Days Are Good For

Well, nothing shuts down a conversation like a political rant, right? Oh well, I hope that at least it made some of the few people who read my blog think for a bit. Not that you all don't already think. But maybe it will urge us toward more action.

But what cool rainy days are good for is finishing those socks I started in April on our bus trip to Vancouver. These are the first pair of socks that I have ever knit and it wasn't so bad! I did decide to knit them for Rhiannon who has the smallest feet in our family and I told her that I wasn't promising to finish them until October. So look! I'm early! And no, before you non-knitters or novice knitters ooh and ahh over all those colour changes I did, it is really no big deal. It is self striping yarn. I didn't do anything but knit and try really hard to knit it with the same tension on the second sock. I did have to pull that one out a couple of times and loosen up so that the pattern would match. They were done all except the kitchener stitch to join the toe of the second sock by May. Yesterday afternoon with the help of, I finished and Rhiannon couldn't wait to put them on...

And I have some pale blue bamboo for the next pair... what can I say? It was on sale... hush, Mary Sue about the size of my stash... I won't even tell you about the other wool I bought that was also on sale... But how could I resist mohair at $2.99 a ball? And that lovely Briggs and Little in that cool greeny brown? Or that dark blue all for $2.99 a skein...

And as Rhiannon rides off with her friend, I call after her, "be careful with those socks"...

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Last night Rhiannon and I went for a before-bed-swim after that 36 degree day. Then we went for a dilly bar at DQ. And so we were driving around and I turned on the radio to listen to Ideas. It may have been a rerun but it was about homelessness. While we were listening, they played excerpts from a conference on homelessness in Calgary earlier in the year. In particular, there was a particularly articulate and knowledgeable woman, Susan Scott, a journalist and author of two books who read aloud a letter she had written to a friend she called Clarissa. Susan Scott carefully explained the legislation and attitudes that have brought about our current problems with homelessness. It was heartrending to listen to. For me, it was all to real. For 5 years I worked with many people in this area who were sometimes couch surfing and usually one step away from being homeless. And listening to their stories, and learning about them as individuals, I realized that really, "but for the grace of God go I". What separated me from them was mostly circumstances and support. Often they had absolutely no supports in their lives. In that case, one little thing goes wrong and it can be a real domino effect.

Tears came to my eyes listening to this reality and thinking about these people whom I had come to care very deeply about who put a face on poverty for me. Tears came to my eyes as I contemplated our society and our country from this perspective. My heart was wrenched and my efforts seemed puny. I wished that in one broad stroke I could change all of that, set it right in an instant so that all this suffering could end.

And so my commitment and passion for what I strive to create with others at the Inner World School is renewed. I truly believe that by healing ourselves and then our families and communities is the only real way to heal the world. I believe that by children growing up with self confidence and understanding and compassion for themselves will we have the leaders for tomorrow that our world needs.

It is so convenient to look at China (the media's current favourite) or Afghanistan or Kosovo or wherever and point our judging finger and organize protests and march and boycott and speak out. There is nothing wrong with those efforts. It only seems to me that we get all passionate about issues that we don't understand all the complexities of and that exist in another society, in another culture half a world away where we can have so very little effect. What about right here? What about in our own communities where we can really do something? Where the effort required is more than an afternoon spent at a protest but where we can have a huge impact? What about in our own lives? Our own choices? What about our own politics? I think we are lulled into thinking about other places and find it so easy to judge instead of asking these hard questions and actually DOING something. It is easier to sign an online petition and think, "well, that's all I can do..." and feel somehow satisfied and as though we have done something than to really look at the heart wrenching problems and wrestle with the complexities and think and discuss and change. That takes real, deep effort and passion.

In the silence in the van after Ideas is over and I turn off the radio, my almost 8 year old daughter in the back seat says to me, "Mom, why is there money?" and I explain bartering and how we came to use money. And she says, "But why do we even have to barter and trade? Why don't we just share what we have? Why doesn't everyone share?" And answering her as honestly as I could, I talked a little about greed and the widespread fear that there will not be enough that leads to hoarding and I talked about trust. Mostly I think it is because we do not trust each other to genuinely care about one another that if we share, we will be left with not enough for ourselves. We don't trust that we are loved. And I don't think that is because others do not love us well enough. I think it is because we don't love ourselves enough. From there it all follows. When we learn to love ourselves as the mighty and powerful, graceful and compassionate, amazing people that we are, our love will flow.

That old commandment, "love thy neighbour as thyself" which is really two commands and the one naturally flows from the other.

So, I challenge you to think about your own community and your place in it. I challenge you to listen to the broadcast that I did last night that can be found here or

And listen, really listen what is said. If you don't have most of an hour to listen, listen just to Susan Scott's part. It starts at 15 minutes, 13 seconds and goes for about 10 minutes. Just listen.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Sweet. That is how I would describe the 10 day visit of my youngest sister. The days were sweet and easy and the time with her was sweet and that is how I would describe her - very sweet.

It is strange to have a sister 21 years younger. Six months older than my own daughter. Funny, that! My daughter who thinks I am unbearably strange and weird (although I think there is some strange pride as she delights in telling all her friends how weird I am) but makes a point in NOT being interested in my life; and then my sister of the same age who is so interested! We have never lived in the same house. And due to a few reasons which I won't go into here, she grew up without knowing me. And I missed out on her growing up. What a gift she gave me with this 10 day visit.

It was really so easy to have her here. We are interested in so many of the same things. We had great philosophical discussions and the sharing of good books read, long bike rides and lots of lake time. Rhiannon was especially in heaven. Here is an aunt who is totally on the same page - loves to read, draw, make music and swim! I must admit, the house seems particularly quiet without her beautiful, emotional piano playing. We all loved hearing her play. She seemed happy to spend hours teaching and playing her adoring niece different duets.

Here are some photographic highlights:

A bonus of having her here is that she drew her twin down for an action packed day. See proof - both 'fubs checking out my sheep! And at Jade Bay taking in some rays and spending some mermaid time. And I swear, Ben is the only person I know who can create a wake on a floaty!

We did lots with the three of us (actually 5 if you count Zeus and Jodi). Here we are for a picnic supper down at Cosen's Bay. Too cold for me to go in but nothing kept these two mermaids out!

Here we are on Friday night for a picnic supper of samosas from the farmer's market at Ellison Beach on Okanagan Lake. Too bad it was so windy! But we still had fun. We had an adventure of a rolling water bottle that took half an hour to find!

And here we are at the bay at Ellison, trying to get a group shot. Amy has a theory that some pictures are so bad, it is just wrong to delete them. Our attempts at a group shot were rather comical. The first time, we tried to run on the rocky beach without any kind of footwear and didn't make it in time for the picture. Next I accidentally set it on 2 seconds instead of 2 pictures so we have the big butt/little butt pic. We almost got it the second time and finally we did get it the way we wanted to. Rhiannon wanted us to put our arms up.

Here is a photo just before our last long bike ride.

I miss her. Its hard to think that after such a sweet visit, she is moving so very far away:( to Nova Scotia. But I have always wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean...

Thanks Amy for so kindly sharing yourself with me and my family!

Friday, August 01, 2008

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Broadcast....

So, my reflections about my Northern visit were this: Prince George looks the same as it always does. I can still find my way around everywhere. It does look a little worn down. Roads are not very well taken care of and building needing fresh paint. I loved how much the same my Aunt's house was. My family moved a lot so it is nice to have that touchstone in my life.

When I went through Smithers 9 years ago (the last time I was up there), it seemed virtually unchanged from when I had lived there 16 years previously. This time it had changed. Businesses had spread to the other side of the highway. It seemed 3x bigger. The main downtown still had that cute Bavarian theme thing going on but the new stuff was mostly urban sprawl. Still it was good to see Smithers thriving.

Now Terrace seemed very depressed. When I was growing up, there were 4 mills right in downtown. When I returned 9 years ago, there were 2. Now there were none. Half of the shops in downtown and the mall were empty. Disappointingly there was now a WalMart on the edge of town. But something that I really noticed was that the aboriginal population was much more prominent. Of course there have always been a lot of Natives in Terrace. But when I was growing up, it was still reeling from the fall out of the residential schools. I knew adults less than 10 years older than me who had experienced the horrors of these residential schools. I have heard stories first hand about how they were rounded up without even a chance to say good bye to their families, how they were treated like animals and worse. When I was growing up, there really were alot of Natives with alcohol problems. You really would see them lying around, their houses and yards a mess. This time, I could see that there has been a lot of healing from that. In fact, I hardly saw any white people. It seems that the First Nations up there are reclaiming their traditional lands, are succeeding in business, are thriving. I noticed in Burns Lake as we drove through. You could still see the outline of where the letters used to be for Lake District Secondary School. Instead were new lettering in some aboriginal language with an English translation underneath "community gathering place". Somehow I felt heartened by that.

It seemed a lot more different this time than it did 9 years ago. Although then it had been 16 years since I lived there and 10 years since I had been back, it was like stepping back in time. This time, time had moved on. It was different. Better and worse in different ways. And as much as my soul longs to see those places and smell those smells and feel the vibe up there, it was so obvious that you can never go home. Sometimes I wish I had never left but I don't really wish to go back. And I reflected a lot on the effects of moving so often as a child and what as a result I have tried to do by living here in Vernon. I have wanted my children to have what I didn't - to grow up in a place. To have people know them their whole lives. I have lived in Vernon here for 14 years. That is a big investment. It is a grounding force that keeps me here. The sunshine and the lakes and the growing climate and the ski hills all help. I like it that my children can be hanging at the skate park and be pretty sure that someone who knows their mother will likely see them... I think it helps to hold them in place to know that there are people who know them and care about them who notice them in the community.

The end result? I really have to visit up North more often. I miss it so much, I need to get my fix a little closer together than 9 years.... And I love where I live and I'm not going anywhere.