Wednesday, December 30, 2009
When I trained for Outward Bound, I did the 30 minute run once and that was it. I am sure I will never be 'addicted' to running. If the weather was better I would be riding instead. I am sure my sister, Katie, could run twice as far as I do in 30 minutes. But damn! I love the feeling of doing it yet again.
Where I really notice the difference in my life is in my walking - I can walk faster and longer and it feels different. I like how it feels to get stronger...
Monday, December 28, 2009
But that is not what I set out to write about. Christmas is always a bit different every year as the kids get older but this year it seemed a big jump. Both Kaetlyn and Eryn are living away from home with significant others. And because they are in town, there are other families to consider. We had a couple of family Christmas events starting in November with a stocking decorating party. Several people were ready for new stockings and we had 2 new family members to add.
Our next event was the cookie decorating party. This luckily happened the day after my parents arrived. They are going on a mission to Guyana and will be leaving in January sometime so this was our 'good bye' visit. Dad made me a salt feeder for the sheep and they played a lot of card games with the kids and took us to the movie "A Christmas Carol" for our Christmas present. It was a very nice visit. But back to the cookie thing. It was fun and a lot of cookies got decorated - even if Tyler didn't do his share. And here you have it - these are the only pictures I took of Christmas. I don't know. I just wasn't in a picture taking kind of mood.
Sometimes I get like that. Looking at these cookies again makes me want to go sneak some out of the place that I have hidden the last of them to bring out on New Year's Eve.
After my parents left on the18th, things were pretty busy. Dean and I were both working a lot. So much so that we decided that getting gifts for each other just seemed like anti-relaxing. So we decided to go out to a movie and have a nice evening together instead. I'm looking forward to it!
On the 23rd, Eryn had a family party at her place where she invited all of Tyler's family and all of us for a potluck. There was lots of good food, as always at Eryn's and it was nice to be formally introduced to Tyler's mom as we see her all the time (she works at our bank). You can tell she loves her boy, that's for sure.
Christmas Eve was rather quiet. Kaetlyn and Nadia stayed with Nadia's family. Eryn and Tyler came over for a couple of hours to eat supper and open one present. I made tortillas from scratch using the Rebar recipe and black bean refried beans also from scratch (the way that Karen taught me). Rhiannon helped me put them together with cheese and fry them up. They were soooo good! And I had managed to get the Nanaimo bars made so we had a full compliment of our traditional Christmas goodies - shortbread, sugar cookies, gingerbread, butter tarts, peanut brittle and the bars.
And then they were gone and it wasn't even 8pm and it was just the 4 of us. I do kind of enjoy it when it is just the 4 of us. Its different. For the first time since Eryn was born, it is balanced - 2 males and 2 females. (I like it when it is the 6 err... 8... of us, too) Andrew has started enjoying spending more time with Rhiannon. Over Christmas they played ALOT of mille bornes. It was nice to see. Andrew doesn't hide out quite so much in his room. We put Rhiannon into bed by 8 - she was so tired and crabby, I just couldn't bear the thought of her like that on Christmas... After doing all my Santa duties, I was actually in bed by 10pm. I don't think I've been able to get away with that on Christmas Eve since Eryn was a toddler and still spelled her name the way I did on her birth certificate (Erin).
Shortly after 8am on Christmas everyone arrived for the present opening. Eryn and Kaetlyn both got lots of household stuff which is what they asked for. I got spoiled by my daughters. Eryn drew my Santa gift and she got me a beautiful frame for 5 pictures and then took pics of everyone and put them in the frames. There is one empty place left for Dean and I. It could be empty for sometime because most pictures of Dean and I together are rather bad. And mostly its Dean's fault, if I do say so myself. Kaetlyn got me a beautiful pottery butter dish with a lid to keep out cat tongues and a green stone pendant (I'm not sure what the stone is but it is really, really pretty).
Dinner was divine. Everyone did a superb job on their assignments. I especially loved Eryn's roasted veggies. And then everyone left and it was quiet again. I got well into the novel I was saving for Christmas - "Priestess of Avalon", another in the Marion Zimmer Bradley series. I loved it. This fall I have just been too busy to read novels so I was really looking forward to it and it didn't disappoint.
And what did I make for Christmas? I made Kaetlyn potholders. I know, that sounds boring, so I thought I had better make them special. So I got some of Draga's and Freya's wool, washed it and carded it and used it as the stuffing. It started out about 6 inches thick. I used some black fabric that I once sewed Kaetlyn and Rebecca outfits from. First I freeform quilted it using my darning foot. But the bobbin thread kept on getting tangled. There was alot of swearing. And then there was the bias tape. May I just register how much I hate bias tape? I bought some black bias tape which in the end, I cut off of the pot holder. Then I made my own bias tape which worked better. But still. I don't know how people do such neat sewing jobs on bias tape. Mine looked terrible. Good thing it is black and harder to notice. It was Christmas Eve so I gave them to her anyways. She seemed to like them...hehe. Then for Andrew I am making a sweater. Yes, I said making. I am done the body up to the armpits and one sleeve up to the elbow. He is my big Christmas crafting project. I've never knitted anything bigger than a hat before. When I'm finished, I'll take a picture for you.
Then on the 28th, I went and picked up my parcel from Laura at the bus depot. I think my sister Christmas gift is always my favourite. Laura's parcel was full of sister goodness - 5 framed photos of family members which are now up on my wall - Sarah and Adriel, Evan-o-vich, Katie and her family, the Bean family and Amy. And there was soap from Lush that is making my whole upstairs smell good, and a DVD of Fiddler on the Roof, exercise pants and really beautiful earrings.
So, that is my Christmas report. It was a good Christmas, as Christmases go. I hope yours was good, too! I'm on my way to sneak a gingerbread cookie and watch some more waltons while I knit Drew's sweater...
Sunday, December 06, 2009
The witch is my own little dancer - my inspiration. I made that hat yesterday and it turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself!
I am always amazed at their grace, their creativity and their sense of drama. These 4 dancers that I have right now are all born performers. They get excited, not nervous and when it comes time to perform in front of the audience, they really sparkle!
I was so proud of them!
Friday, December 04, 2009
So I decided to reactivate my Etsy shop with my remaining hats. I don't have that desperate feeling about the whole thing. Its just nice to sell some of the many hats I have made over the years and Etsy is a nice way to do it. So if you are looking for a hat or you know someone who is, you can find my hats at www.hippiehats.etsy.com. See you there!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
It was hard to think of. I had never been a long distance runner but I had once been rather fast. I was on my high school track team as a sprinter for the 100m and a high jumper. In fact, the day before my accident I had been giving Kaetlyn and Drew sprinting tips in the front yard. In 1999 I had done the Outward Bound Women of Courage program. To prepare for the 7 day course, I was supposed to be able to run for 30 minutes and they sent along a running program to gradually get there. I did it. And it was quite something for me. I don't really like running like that but I do like challenging myself and I like the feeling of have being able to do it. I didn't really want to accept never running again. I can still remember the feeling of running races barefoot in the grass in Fort George Park (in highschool, I ran in my socks) - that feeling of flying.
On my 43rd birthday, supported by a good friend, I went to Polson track and ran around the oval in short segments. It was hard to run. My body couldn't remember how to do it. I had to consciously think about each stride. It was hard to trust my right leg. And I could barely breathe - I was so badly out of shape.
This fall I decided that it was time to push myself. There is just nothing like jogging that gives my heart, lungs and legs the same work out. I have biked long distances, up big hills but it is still not the same. I tried at first a running program I found on About.com. But it just didn't work. I dug out my Outward Bound instructions, inspired by my sister, Laura, who is also doing something that challenges her. (you were my inspiration, Laura! Although what you did was probably harder!)
I really wasn't sure I could do it. But I started. The first day I ran 30 seconds and walked 4.5 minutes X 6. Two days later I ran for 1 minute and walked for 4 X 6. Something happened on this run. It clicked. My body remembered how to jog. I stopped thinking about my stride and fell into a rhythm. Nevertheless, I wasn't sure how far I would get. Maybe it would snow and I wouldn't be able to. Maybe I really couldn't do this any more.
On Monday I ran for 4.5 minutes and walked for 30 seconds X 6. I ran for 27 minutes. The next time I was supposed to run for 30 minutes without stopping. That was today. It was below 0 today but warmer than forecasted. I decided to go after lunch about 3pm. I decided it would be okay if I could only run 15 minutes and then stop and walk for a minute and run for another 15 minutes. But I didn't need to. I ran. I ran for 30 minutes without stopping. I can hardly believe it. I DID IT!!
And my knee? It is okay. It doesn't even hurt. I know that my ankle does compensate a bit for it and I suspect it might be because I have my own meniscus. Near the end of my run, I run by my physiotherapist and I want to shout, "Kees! Look at me! I'm doing it!" It spurs me on to finish.
Anyways, yay me!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
But there has been a blog post in the back of my mind that I think is jamming up the flow. Every now and then I pull it out and think, "I really need to write that". And then I think, "Naw...." I suppose I really do need to write it.
You know, since I graduated from UVic in the summer of 1991, moved to Winnipeg and started facilitating a women's group for survivors of sexual abuse, I have worked as a counsellor. That's what I call myself. I have worked pretty steady at it, although very part time since then. When I first moved to Vernon, I had an ad in the yellow pages and I saw quite a few people through that. When I went to work at NOEES as an employment facilitator, I took the ad out. I continued to see people - clients who had already been seeing me and those who heard about me through word-of-mouth. And that has been perfect with all that has been going on in my life and our family. I really didn't want to work in that way much more than that.
Just lately, I have really been feeling the urge to expand again. I think Rhiannon is at a stage now where she needs less of my time. I have only 2 kids at home and one of them is not home very much. Our window washing business now exceeds 500 customers and is running pretty smoothly with minimal input from me. I don't know, I have just been feeling ready. More grounded and secure in myself, perhaps, too.
So I set to work on a brochure. It is so 'unCanadian' to sell yourself and it was really hard to do. I ended up writing longhand in my journal and setting a timer for 15 minutes and forcing myself to write in 15 minute blocks. That actually worked really well. I think I have made an awesome brochure. Getting some testimonials from clients really helped me, too. So I have this brochure now. Printed even. On nice (partly recycled) paper.
And I have started to distribute them at the library and coffee shops and the People Place and any other place I can think of. But the thing is, I have come to realize that simply putting out brochures around town is probably not enough to actually bring in clients. I need to say what I do. I need to talk to people. I have such a hard time promoting myself in this way. Part of it is that people often seem to feel self-conscious when you tell them you are a counsellor like you are analyzing them. I don't. I don't think most counsellors do. It is a special thing when someone sits down in my office and begins to tell me their story. It takes a lot of focus and attention to be there for them in that moment. I don't go around doing that to random people. Really. The other part, I think is that somehow we think that people who are therapists or counsellors should have everything together. And generally we are just people. Having insight into someone else's problems or being a good listener is not the same has being perfect. And the other part is that it is just hard to say, yes, this is what I do and I'm actually pretty good at it.
It is a lot easier to say we wash windows and we do a very good job - in fact, we guarantee our work. Why is that? I suppose windows are a lot less personal. So that is my challenge right now. This is who I am. I am a counsellor and I am pretty good at it.
Here is an excerpt from my brochure:
I have lived and raised my four children in the
I find it a great honour and privilege to walk with people along their journey. It is a joy to work with people at pivotal points in their lives. I am always in awe of the quiet courage so many people demonstrate in facing themselves and taking charge of their lives and growing.
It always fills me with wonder to be a witness to what can be achieved in an environment of acceptance.
I have an eclectic approach including training and experience in many therapeutic modalities and a degree in psychology. I have 18 years experience working as a counsellor.
I believe our purpose in life is to grow and find the best in ourselves and be happy. I believe it is love that matters, technique is secondary. The love we have for ourselves matters most of all and is the foundation and ultimate reason for any work we do on ourselves.
I believe the healing journey is an exciting journey and one I, myself have traveled. Offering my heart to others on their own journey is part of my path. I have learned that it is not my wisdom my clients are after but help recognizing their own. Our own inherent wisdom is the only one worth seeking.
Real change happens when we feel safe and loved for who we are. We can make change when we find our way back to the wonder of who we are. Sometimes we discover we don’t need to change the things we thought we did, and other times, changes we were afraid of making happen with ease.
Real growth happens when we make our dreams come true. And to our hearts, nothing is impossible. We can accomplish great goals one step at a time – “how does a plant grow? How does the tide rise? Gradually, gradually.”
To examine these beliefs and grow through them is the deepest form of self-analysis – to see how they have fashioned our feelings, our experiences – our very lives. Usually we absorbed these beliefs without thinking – without deciding. Finding and changing beliefs that no longer suit us can be difficult but very rewarding work. Usually the greatest obstacle is our own inertia. It can be tremendously liberating to unearth our beliefs and replace them with more affirming ones.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Then came the turning point when I was 21. There was a musical and they had no director for the acting part. I originally went out to audition for a part but somehow I ended up directing the acting part of the musical. It was put on in the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse and sold out every night. I went on to direct several 'roadshow' performances. One was even adjudicated and we took first place and got rave reviews for children's theatre.
At first I didn't think I would enjoy directing as much as I enjoyed acting. And the first time it was hard to be behind stage instead of on the stage. But that opening night there was a certain buzz watching this show I had helped put on - watching the actors remember what I had taught them. I was hooked.
This afternoon my dance class started working on our dance performance. My young dancers have really learned a lot over the last couple of years. And this will be our most ambitious performance yet. It reflects what they have learned and mastered. They will all be on stage through the whole performance and there will be even more acting. I just get so excited. They respond to my suggestions and they remember what I teach them about the rules of the stage. It is indescribable. Its just so fun. It gets my creative juices going and it gets theirs going and we are bouncing ideas off of each other and something really great is coming together.
Thank you Mr. Koven. You were right.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
From the very beginning I was not afraid of this virus. For one, I don't believe in germ theory. Evidence shows that we all have bacteria, viruses, cancerous cells, etc in us, on us, around us all the time. Normally our immune systems function to keep us healthy. When our immune system is depressed, through stress of some kind, either psychological or physical, or we are tired and worn out, then we are susceptible to infection. Studies have shown that those who are exposed to bacteria have healthier immune systems. Surely this mass fear fanned constantly by the media contributes more to depressed immune systems... This article expresses well what I have long believed.
When Kaetlyn was a baby, I came to the conclusion to stop vaccinating. Eryn had her shots to age 5 and Kaetlyn had her first set at 4 months. Andrew and Rhiannon have never been vaccinated. And you know what? Out of our family of 6 - 4 of us have been vaccinated and we all have some kind of auto-immune disease. Dean has asthma and severe allergies. I have hypothyroidism, Eryn has allergies and Kaetlyn has diabetes. Andrew and Rhiannon have none of these things. Of course, I know this is much too small of a sample size to be statistically significant. But it does make me wonder... I think we are doing dangerous damage to our immune system by these vaccinations. I think we need to be sick sometimes to strengthen our immune system.
And there has never been a longterm, statistically significant study looking at the possible side effects of vaccinations or even the effectiveness of them. For their efficacy those who promote vaccines site the fact that diseases like small pox and polio have now been almost eradicated. However, they fail to look at the big picture - like the fact that those diseases were already declining when vaccinations were started. That is called a co-relation and it is not proof. In fact, other diseases have also disappeared that we have not vaccinated for - like scarlet fever and bubonic plague. The fact is that the human immune system adapts over time and develops immunities naturally. Although what is happening now that we are not allowing it to do its job?
Right now in the media they talk as though the flu vaccine has a 100% track record for preventing the flu. Although I am sure everyone reading this post knows someone who has been vaccinated for the flu in the past and got it anyways. This is a very well written article about the usefulness of the vaccine.
Of course talking about children dying and healthy young athletes succumbing to the H1N1 is enough to strike fear in any parent's heart. However, it is just another way we are manipulated by the mass media that it is almost impossible to escape these days. It is news that is way out of perspective. Like if we saw a comparison with how many children die everyday from all causes and then looked at how many are dying from H1N1 we would see a bit more of a balanced picture. And if we looked at just how many children are not dying, who are healthy, maybe we could relax a little. And what if you knew that some of the children who have died for the H1N1 virus were even vaccinated against it? Maybe we could start hugging and shaking hands again...
And I have to ask myself, who is benefiting from all of this? The pharmaceutical companies are making money hand over fist. Their making a killing on this mass hysteria. Doesn't it make you scratch your head just a little bit? While stories about the side effects of the vaccine or the ineffectiveness of it just don't hit mainstream media.
Myself, I would love to turn the radio on and listen to something else other than the H1N1 virus! Enough already!
If you are interested in more about the vaccine, you can find links to several articles here. And you have to check out this article and ask yourself what they know that we don't.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
And see that giant white egg beside it? That was produced by our rather high strung Danish Leghorn - I only ended up with one - all the rest of the leghorn chicks turned out to be roosters and now live in the freezer... Anyways, that is her first egg, too. She, of course is well more than 6 months old.... At least she popped out a big one!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
So, Eryn says that I always make this day about me. But hey, this my blog and I get to write in here about what I want to write about and about my life, my perspective. And 23 years ago, this was the biggest day of my life. The day I became a mother. I suspect that one day, when she holds a little tatooed baby in her arms, she will understand. It is a day I always mark in my own way. This is the day my life changed forever in ways I could have never predicted.
I adore her. I adored her from the first moment I looked into her muddy blue eyes - so intensely looking back at me. She was definitely not born into the best circumstances. I was only 21 and I had a whole lot to learn about myself, about life although at the time, I thought I had it all figured out.
She saved me and I saved her. I have no doubt that our Souls already knew and loved each other and that we made promises to each other. I know she has a very strong spirit. She would have to have gone through all the things that we went through together and all the things she suffered because of my immature parenting and my own self-centred-ness to be the person she is today. It is a credit to her own perseverance; to her own strength of character; to her own soul.
Sometimes she looks at me with those deep brown eyes in such a way and it pierces me to the depths of my soul and I know her - more than just as her mother in the way that mothers and daughters know each other. I KNOW her from more than this lifetime. And I love her so much - bigger than my heart can hold. In that moment I am as overwhelmed with love for her as I was when I first met her.
I thinks she is amazing - beautiful, smart, funny, intelligent and determined. And on this day 23 years ago, I was blessed with being her mother. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Anyways, lots of thinking and lots of journal writing. I've been feeling particularly productive. I have been thinking a lot about why I blog, too, but that's not what this post is about. I came to one conclusion. I am letting go of selling hats. I mean if anyone wants to buy any of the hats I have already made, I am happy to sell them. And I am sure my pile will gradually dissipate the more visits I get from my family, at the very least. I just decided it wasn't the best use of my time. It came out of a time and feeling of desperation and I don't really want to act from there. I think I have other things to offer that are more important. Important in terms of content and also important in terms of me and my development.
I came to this conclusion this last weekend when I was scheduled to do the outside Farmers' Market in Kelowna - supposed to be very good one for selling hats. The forecast was for -7 that morning. I realized how unprepared I was to do such a thing in cold weather. And then I realized that I really didn't want to do what I had to do to be prepared. It was kind of a half-assed kind of thing and I did not really want to put all my effort and energy into it. There are other things I DO want to put all my energy and effort into and I'm going to focus on that. Stay tuned on further developments I've been working on.
Sometime if I have nothing better to do, I may indeed go to a farmer's market or some similar thing to sell what I have already made but I am not going to work at making new hats unless I want to wear one or make one for someone in my family or as gifts or at the request of dear friends. There are other things I want to knit. And truthfully, scurrily (that is not a word but I just made it up - you get the meaning, right?) knitting hat after hat, is hard on my wrists and I end up with 'tennis' elbow if I am not careful. I'm ready for a new challenge and I have it all picked out. I'm going to attempt to knit Andrew a sweater for Christmas. I already picked out the pattern and I already have the yarn which I bought on sale in the summer...
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
But I love my reds, too. See this tomato? That is not a small cutting board and that is a rather large paring knife.
A sink full of red goodness.
It all equals more than 50 quarts of canned tomatoes in the cold storage room and a good start on our year's supply of salsa.
Anyways, that's where I have been instead of here.
Monday, October 05, 2009
And then! The kind young (and good looking) man brought me more salmon and sold me a smoker very cheaply. He even filleted all 10 fish for me and didn't charge me extra. So now I have 20 - 40 lbs of smoked salmon in my freezer. I AM SO EXCITED!!! Smoked salmon! I love it! And this feeling that we are not only going to survive this winter, we are going to feast.
I mean really feast. Because the other thing that has been exciting me is bringing in my harvest which I have spent the last 3 days tirelessly doing in preparation for last night's freezing temperatures. I might have complained about how the squash took over my garden, but now with the huge piles of squash strewn around my house (hope we are not going to get tired of squash as decor because the cold storage room is already full of it...) and the 100lbs + of green tomatoes ripening (in my office for now) I am thrilled. The size... the variety... mmmmm, baked squash.... pumpkin pie... Above is the kitchen counter pile.
And here is the entryway pile errr, I mean... seasonal decoration:
And here is what my office looks like although I can't even get all the boxes of tomatoes in one shot...
And then! That is not all! (as the Cat in the Hat would say) On Saturday I had a soap making workshop here at the house. She will be back on the 17th and then I will be making my very own soap. Real soap. Being self-sufficient - knowing how to do things, just damn excites me! I can't help it. To think of us feasting on salmon, lamb, chicken, tomatoes, salsa and squash all winter and luxuriating in long sudsy baths with soap that I made while the snow swirls down around us... I can hardly sleep just thinking about it! What can I say? I come from good pioneer stock on both sides of my family. I think I'm a throw back....hehe.
Friday, September 25, 2009
So, why do I find Jane Goodall inspiring? Maybe it isn't the obvious reasons - what her life's work has been. Rather it is her life's work. That she has done it. Not specifically what it is - her work with primates and now as activist but the fact that she has had the great courage to be herself. To follow her dreams and passions. She quietly and certainly has gone about her life being herself, following her own path.
Ah, those trite, too-used phrases. But when you look at the video of her being interviewed and you can see her confidence - real confidence. Not boastfulness or aggrandizement but a quiet certainty. I think it comes from having the courage to do what was right for her regardless (one of my pet peeves: the word irregardless) of approval or recognition. She was originally she was shunned by the scientific community but she continued to do her work in her way.
This is what is inspiring to me. Like Laura I have been having these kinds of thoughts - about being truly myself - having the courage to really be me - to do the work that moves me. And hearing about people who have really done it are my heroes, my models.
And what else is inspiring about Jane Goodall? The fact that she is optimistic in her work as environmental activist, she works on hope and optimism unlike many of her contemporaries. Give her a listen.
Monday, September 21, 2009
You can see the piles here - Renauld on the right, Brida in the middle and Basil's beautiful, long lambs wool on the left.
It was a huge relief for me to find them all in very good health (fat, the shearer said, like they should be at this time of year). It is hard to tell the weight/health of sheep when they have a full coat of wool. After loosing Freya, I was worried - especially about Basil - that there might be others getting skinny like she did. But the shearer said that Basil looked awesome and that he was a very nice size. So in November or so, he should fit very nicely into the freezer.
The sheep also seemed to be relieved. Even old Brida was running and leaping around like a lamb - she did look funny with her considerable girth but luckily sheep don't let such things stop them.
There's Brida, closest to the camera with Basil on the left and Renauld's black rear end.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
9 years of Rhiannon. I like to say she is the angel that brought our family together to be her family. She was definitely a presence long before she was born. The first night that Dean moved in with us, he talked about a daughter he wanted to have and that he would name her Rhiannon. I had a sense of her playing violin. She cemented us a family. (I like to call this family picture the Drew as a serial killer series - I didn't have them printed but I bought the disk just for the hilarity factor)
I have loved getting to know her these last 9 years. Made all the more poignant as her older sisters have grown up and left home. Sometimes I feel like Emily in Our Town only I'm not dead, I am here and being reminded how precious this time is. I am so blessed to be more settled during this time of her childhood. She has taken me on a most wonderful journey.
This last year she has grown up so much. It has been fun to watch her confidence grow as she has mastered physical skills like swimming and skiing. She has firmly entered middle childhood and left young childhood behind. She's interesting; she's opinionated and she knows how she likes things.
I am so proud of her and so grateful for the experience of being her mother. She has brought so much joy into my life - my dear, sweet daughter.
So we have been celebrating. Her birthday has stretched over 3 days. She had a sleep over party with 2 close friends on Saturday night. Then her family birthday dinner on Sunday night and then tonight she got to celebrate with another friend whose birthday was yesterday. That's 3 birthday cakes!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
But anyways, it has about killed me to leave up that tragically sad post. So time to change the subject because I can only handle feeling sad for short periods of time.
And I do have good news. This last weekend Eryn and Tyler took the leap and moved into a wee 4 bedroom house in the BX together. I helped Eryn clean Tyler's old apartment (in return, he moved all the stuff). I got to see their new place which is very nice. Except for no oven. Isn't that weird? a 4 bedroom place with no oven? But they are working on remedying that situation. Eryn can't be without an oven. How else can she make all those great cakes? I guess he could make them at my house....
And I am very happy about it. Tyler has just fit seamlessly into our family - like a missing piece we didn't know we were missing. I knew that on Easter when he and Eryn arrived for the Easter basket/egg hunt and for Easter dinner. Within a short amount of time, he had the bickering sibs laughing uproariously and playing Uno - united at trying to beat him. It went on for hours.
He has a great knack for smoothing waters and creating fun. And he adores my daughter and treats her well. I don't think I have ever seen her quite so happy. I am sure it has something to do with his goofy sense of humour. We joke about how they are both so tattooed that it has become genetic and when they have children, they will be born with tattoos in weird combinations. You never know how they will come out - a Squid riding a bicycle....
Lately he has been into ugly pictures.
Doesn't he look like Kirk Douglas playing Spur in Man from Snowy River?
There was something I liked about Tyler as I got to know him. There is a solid-ness about him - a down-to-earth-ness that balances my mercurial girl - too much like her mother for her own good! And he loves her. You can see that.
And he can take being teased and is a great teaser himself. What more could a mother ask for?
I'll finish off with the ponytailed beard picture.
Monday, August 31, 2009
I had company for 6 weeks straight with one 24 hour break in there from the time Sarah arrived on July 17 to the time that Caleb left on August 27. During that one 24 hour break, my sister-in-law, Delanie drove away and an hour later, Bjorn died. My neighbour and landlady had sprayed her fields with an 'organic' weed killer to kill her burdock. It is extremely toxic but supposed to be safe after a certain amount of time. It was supposed to be safe that day so I let my sheep out. I tie up the adult sheep but the lambs wander close by. I noticed Bjorn on the edge of that field. Just hours later he was dead. I found him just after he died - still warm and limp and unbelievably dead. In 10 days he would have gone to his new home in Horsefly. I suppose I should have sheered him after he died - his pure white wool was like gossamer. But I couldn't bare it. It was the most I could do to write to the people who had arranged to buy him and tell him he had died.
Then last week a bear came one night. He ripped open my chicken tractors (which in previous years he (she?) has ignored completely even when full of meat chicks). He flipped over the one that held my two mother hens with their 4 chicks (I sold two already). My two hens died defending their chicks - 3 of whom survived. They also slashed up my big tractor and killed 2 of my young pullets. They killed 5 chickens - my two most valuable hens as they had proven to be effective brooders and good mothers. I woke up Sunday morning to the carnage - chunks of feathers and one black foot.
I herded the remaining 4 pullets and the 3 chicks into the big coop. Miraculously they have managed to integrate painlessly into my flock. Marigold and the hens have accepted them and they are all thriving. So there is one miracle.
Then there is Freya. She hasn't been well for awhile. She had a persistent cough so I dosed her with penicillin and then dewormed my whole flock. She seemed to be making improvement. The smoke this summer has been hard on her and yesterday the smoke lay like fog in this valley. Yesterday morning she didn't come when I fed the sheep some hay. I went to rouse her but she staggered along. I dosed her with garlic balls and slippery elm throughout the day and she seemed to be improving. But she died last night. I suspect it was a combination of things that killed her. When I first got her, she got pneumonia from the stress of travelling (shipping disease). I tried to cure her naturally and I think I left it too long or wasn't aggressive enough. In those days she was very hard to catch! In the end I got antibiotics which cleared up her coughing but she had been coughing for several weeks by that time. I was ignorant and naively hopeful. I think her lungs were weakened by the whole episode. She has struggled this smoky summer. And then she was a very good mother and gave her all to Bjorn. She was thin. I think she was depressed after he died. I suspect she would have been depressed even if he had lived but left our flock. She was a fierce mother and never far from him. Then with all these stresses on her immune system, I think she was no match for either worms or a strep infection. Probably worms. And although I did deworm her, I think they had too big a hold on her.
I love my sheep - my wee flock. I know them even by the sound of their baa. They are the first thing I think about each morning when I wake up as I search for them through the window. They live just across the driveway from our house, not in some distant field. I know their patterns of behaviour, their personalities, their likes and dislikes. Freya took a long time to trust me but when she trusted me, she did. If you visited, she would not be at the fence begging for a pat like Renauld or Draga unless, perhaps, you had apples. She was sweet and independent and wary. And she had the most amazing fleece. I loved her. Zeus laid with her body all night and this morning before we buried her, he freaked out if anyone went near her.
And I am very sad today. I am grieving. Last night I lit a candle for her and wrote for 3 hours in my journal. Here is an excerpt from it:
"... Good bye sweet Freya - Goddess of sheep. Good bye. May your sweet sheep soul pass speedily into the love and joy that is the essence of all life. Good bye sweet Freya.
"Freya let me die with you. Let those parts of me that no longer serve me go with you into your sheep's Valhalla. Let my fears and doubts go with you there to be transformed.
"Freya, my love. Freya my sweet sheep. Rest in peace and prepare for your next life. Come again to me in the spring. I will watch for your face in the faces of the lambs. come healthy and whole again to me. I will look for your eyes. Come live with me again, Freya.
"Good bye Freya, my sweet sheep. You served me well. You were a good sheep and I loved you. You were everything I wanted. You were perfect.
"Good bye Freya, my wee sheep, my little lamb. Good bye. Go knowing you fulfilled your purpose here and I am grateful."
Maybe I am dramatic. Or at least I think that some will think that. All this fuss over a little sheep. However, my sheep are more than functional to me. I know them and I love them. They are my pets, in a way, too. And I believe that all things are connected. I don't think it is any coincidence that there has been so much death in my life this year (although I am looking forward to January 1, 2010!). I don't believe in a thoughtless, accidental Universe. I believe everything happens for a reason. In many ways this year has been a stripping away. A stripping away of false friendships, of habits that don't serve me, of fear and doubt and self-recrimminations. I feel myself pruned, pumiced. It has been a year of great introspection, of realizations, of growth under difficult circumstances. I feel pushed inevitably to the threshold. As I also wrote in my journal, "It ends here. This is the last death. From here, I rise anew... I am here to start again. I let go of what defeats me - my doubts, my fears, my self-recrimminations. I am 'born again', fresh this day. My past is dead. My old self is gone... I am at a threshold. The window is open. Will I go through it? I am. I am going through it. With ease; with love; with Freya and my mother hens. I am born again."
Perhaps I am weird and dramatic or even ridiculous. I'll leave that for you to decide. But this is who I am. This is how I think. This is how I live my life. Last night my wooly friend died. I believe we were/are connected. I believe that in her death I have the opportunity to die, too. To die in the sense that M. Scott Peck talks about in "The Road Less Travelled", when he talks about how sometimes our old self needs to die and we are reborn. So far this year has been one of death and rebirth to me. My journal is full of these serious kinds of thinking. I feel like I am being cleansed, pushed. It is time to be me. I believe we can let life happen to us and say she is just a sheep - livestock - and she died because she was sick and perhaps had some longterm issues with her lungs. It is just nature and nature had its course. It has nothing to do with me or my soul. But I think that, if we want, we can grab life and make it meaningful - find in it the meaning for our souls.
And what is in a name? Check out these references to the myths of Freya who was the Great Queen Goddess of Norse mythology. Notice this one where she tried everything to save her son, Baldr but she forgot mistletoe and he was poisoned. Interesting, eh? Here is a more complete synopsis of Freya's myths. Next time I find my little Freya's pale eyes, I will name her Eir.
There you have it: all my grief and sadness in one post!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I know I was fortunate to grow up with two Aunt's who knew me well and were involved in my life in ways that only an "Auntie" can be - not quite a mother but not a friend, either - someone who explains family mysteries to you and give you guidance and feedback as well as being fun. Women I spent time with and know and who know me. My Dad's first sister, Elaine and my Mom's sister, Heather, were aunts like that to me. They really do fill a special niche that I think is lacking in a lot of kids' lives these days. I am sure that is partly due to shrinking families - when people only have 1 or 2 children, you just don't need the same kinds of support that you do when you have 4 or 6. And families are more spread out and often don't live in the same town.
So I am especially grateful to my brother who shares his children with me and I get to have the delight of being an "Auntie". And I have a feeling there will be other nephews I will get to know as well as they get older.
My nephew Caleb left on Friday after being here for almost 3 weeks. He was here last October for a similar amount of time. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to get to know him so well.
He is such an interesting kid. I especially love his sense of humour - always so willing to laugh at himself, as well. I pointed out tomato sauce that he had managed to get above his eyebrow. A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth and he says, "I really don't know how I get it up there!"
Here are some unforgettable highlights of his visit:
Some one on one Aunt, Uncle and nephew time at Ellison while Rhiannon was otherwise engaged at a sleepover birthday party. He loved jumping off the granite cliffs with Uncle Dean.
A visit to O'Keefe Ranch - the highlights for him were the fiberglass horse and the candy at the general store. Although he did managed to get through another tour of the mansion without complaining too much...
One of my highlights would be the time I cut up a sirloin tip roast and cooked it as steaks for dinner. I made 4 steaks - one each for me, Dean, Caleb and Drew (Rhiannon doesn't care for beef other than hamburger). Drew wasn't home for dinner so there was one steak left to be put away for him. I walked into the kitchen to make Drew up a plate and set it aside to find nothing left on the table. Caleb, who had lingered at the table had eaten it up. 2 huge steaks. That's half a sirloin tip roast! Oh well, gave us something to tease him about!
And with Caleb about, there was always lots of piano playing. Here is a recording he made of his own composition called "One Dream". You can also find it on Youtube. He'd love it if you left him a comment. Search for "One Dream (AN AWESOME SONG)" or click on my link. He checks daily to see how many views he's had and to check for comments.
He left on Thursday with grandma and grandpa. Sure seems quiet around here without him! Although quiet is good after 6 weeks straight of company!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
So, Sunday morning we packed up the van and tied 3 bikes and some luggage on the roof. Mom as a little leary of that as her experience is that Dad looses something off the roof anytime he puts stuff up there. But I assured her that I am more of the overkill type and I had never lost anything off of the roof. Drew jammed on coming at the last minute and although I pulled out everything I had to convince him - even guilt, I could not convince him to come with us. So it was the 4 of us.
We pulled into New Denver just after lunch time. This year we stayed at a little internment house (hut) that we rented off of some friends of mine. We were starving so we skarfed down some bunwhiches and headed immediately for the beach. We went to Dean and Rhiannon's favourite beach which is the delta of Carpenter Creek. They call it "Island Beach".
I left to go register Rhiannon in the Suzuki Valhalla Institute for our third time. Mom came with me and I showed her the picture of grandpa on the wall looking dapper in his double breasted suit and handsome dark hair. And she found pictures of Auntie Heather's class but not of her own. But still lots of names she remembered. And then we rushed to Silverton for the Play In which I had thought was a lot later. Luckily because everything is only 2 minutes away in New Denver and Silverton, we still made it on time. Dean left the next morning after a little drama about a bank card that turned out not to be lost at all or at least not lost in the way we thought it was.
And that was the beginning of a fantastic violin week. I would say that out of all of our fantastic violin weeks that we have spent at SVI, this was the most excellent. Rhiannon had a great master class, a wonderful group class, a very fun note reading class and a great Music Enhancement class. She went to bed early each night pooped. We swam in the gorgeous lake everyday except Tuesday when it rained in the evening. We ate good food - Mom brought along a delicious chicken lasagne that we took two dinners to eat. And we had Greek salad made with my own feta cheese.
And during our breaks we took in all the local sights. We went to Mom's old house
This tree was just a baby tree when she lived there 55 years ago. From her old house, we walked the trail she used to walk with Auntie Heather and Grandpa to Bigalow Bay. She remembers running down the path with ease but now that we are a couple of old ladies, we were clutching and foliage and walking slowly down the steep incline.
Here she is at Bigalow Bay. We never actually got to swim there - we always planned on it but it never turned out. The campground beach was just way to convenient - a block away.
We went out for lunch at the Appletree which if you ever go to New Denver, you have to try. They make the very best sandwiches ever. Sandwiches you wish you thought of.
Another time we went to the museum which Mom especially loved and spent another couple of hours in after Rhiannon and I returned to class.
And we went to the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre where Mom found the name and address of her old friend, which turned out to be across the street from the little house we were staying in. And we marvelled at the beauty the Japanese made in such extreme circumstances. And at how many fishing boats and bicycles were confiscated. And Mom wondered at how much she didn't know as a child about the circumstances of people she knew. And we had a nice walk one evening through the Kohan Reflection Garden.
Mom and I had a very good time. In the evenings after Rhiannon was in bed, we worked on Bethany's wedding present that is only 17 months overdue - but much closer to completion than it was before when it existed in idea form only. Its gorgeous, I have to say and soon you might get a sneak preview.
It was just a really great week. Our time fell into an easy rhythm and we just did what we felt like - the three of us. We'd put dinner on to cook, go down to the beach for a swim. Head home when we felt hungry. Mom bought some beach shoes at the Donation Store after her first experience with the rocky beach. Her feet were a little more sensitive than they were the last time she was there... And then it was the final concert which Mom was amazed by- and it was amazing. Such a treat of great violin music of some of the greatest composers - all played by children!
And all too soon the magical week was over and Dean was there again to collect us but not without some last beach time. Last gazing at the glacier Grandpa hiked on. Mom wishing she could ask him who he hiked with and how he got across the lake. Last windy walk around New Denver in the evening admiring old houses and old trees. And then we were packing up and scrubbing up the house and locking it and returning keys and with our bikes tied on top of the van again, we were on our way home.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It was supposed to be a quiet week - time for Dean and I alone and time to do somethings that needed doing - like the advertising for the fall programs at the Inner World School and canvassing for washing windows. But.... My brother Doug's van broke down. Turned out not to be what people thought but a little computer chip on the cam shaft. But in the meantime we had Grandma and Grandpa and Doug and Delanie and 6 of their kids on Monday night. I made spaghetti with the last of my canned tomatoes. Then the next day Doug and 4 of the kids went home with Mom and Dad. Delanie, Douglas and Caleb stayed until the van was fixed which turned out to be Wednesday evening. They got to do a bit of beaching and we went out for ice cream, too. I managed to get some of the things done that I needed to.
Thursday evening Mom and Dad arrived. Dad came to follow up on some contacts for roofing. And Mom came because she was coming with us to New Denver for the violin camp the following week. We had an empty house for about 24 hours. But Dad helped out by helping us not miss any windows while the van got the brakes fixed and dropping me off and picking me up for canvassing. But he left Friday afternoon although Mom wanted him to stay.
So Friday night Grandma came along as we went to pick up Rhiannon at Circle Square and watch the 'rodeo'. And there was Rhiannon on a horse and feeling very comfortable on one, too! She was so proud of herself and disappointed she didn't get to show us everything she could now do on a horse. And she was very, very dirty! She had a fantastic time at camp and had a hard time coming home to her boring old family.
But she wasn't home for long!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Once we all got there and survived the rain of the first night, it was fun. More than fun. I mean, just imagine 30 cousins in one place. There was a lot of playing, a lot of swimming, some singing, some drawing and ridiculous story making, some hamming it up at the usual 'talent' show. Here are some photographic highlights:
Uncle Doug and some of his adoring nieces and a nephew.
The 'cool' older cousin crowd.
Kids getting tossed in the water - this is Dean and Rhiannon.
This is Caleb and Uncle Jordan
Mermaids. There was lots of good sister swimming fun. We even let Evan come, once and he almost behaved himself. they let me come, too with my prosthetic fin (I'm not a big fan of hanging out in the middle of deep water unless I have a floaty - a little lame, I know...)
Handsome, tall cousins - Drew and Douglas.
Cute little cousins
Gabe the babe - he is getting to be a little boy these days... sigh... it happens way too fast!
And this is the Laura series. She does not allow a pretty picture to be taken of her. Nope. Only she is allowed to take pretty pictures of herself. The rest of us get this. Everytime. I think she just likes getting her picture taken because I kept trying and trying and trying... Even the one with her eyes half closed. It is not an accident. She did that on purpose. She held it like that until she was sure the picture was taken.
Did you get this far? Here is your reward. A rather dark but still hilarious video of "The Turkey Song". Its Jordan, Kyle, Doug and Evan. This somehow encapsulates us all right here. A bunch of hams.
Still reading? Good for you! Here is the real reward... these somehow appeared on my camera - mysteriously along with a bunch of ugly pictures which have already been posted on Facebook. So relax, Amy, I won't post them again here...hehe. Mom and I discovered these videos together. She almost peed herself laughing. She said she had a family of hams... Here are two of the mysterious videos...