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Welcome to my notebook…

by Jan

This is where I practice scribbling my thoughts, post photos, and allow rambling insights.  Thanks for the visit. Please, feel free to add a comment or in join a discussion. Say what you mean, mean what you say, just one rule: Don’t say it mean!

PS. For more stories and past personal insights, visit JanParkerArts and read from my notebook.


by Jan

You’ve heard of the Man cold? That’s where a man gets a stuffy nose and becomes as helpless and whinny and annoying as possible.

Well, the man cold has nothing on the Jan cold!

That’s right… I’m sick!

This is what I get for going out in the world and being around people!

I blame the stupid senior centre, with its stupid fitness class, full of happy people, dancing around to good music, with one of the best instructors, the coast has ever seen. I also blame the stupid Sechelt Aquatic centre, with its stupid $2. price fixing that gets you in there, and then has stupid people germs in the locker room.

There is also the stupid library, and stupid store, all full of people snorting, and wiping their hands on stuff.


I’ll stay home, and sniffle and snort in bed, and on the couch. Just give me a box of tissues, a cuppa tea, let me watch Perry Mason, and most important – give loads of sympathy to poor Ken, who is doing his best to help AND stay out of my way.

Like I said, the man cold is nothing — compared to the Jan Cold.


by Jan

Thirteen days into 2018, and I’m already thinking of the year in review, as I have an answer for “what is the best thing you bought?”

I have the answer! It was delivered on Tuesday. I tried it out the next day, and again yesterday.

My life is forever changed!

One of the many reasons we chose to Sechelt as a place to live was that it had a great aquatic centre.

The first year we were here I went to the aqua fit class — it was super fun and I enjoyed the people I met. The instructor was loads of fun as well. The aqua fit class was fun, but not perfect. It started at 8 a.m. and truthfully — that’s too early to get out of the house and into cold water for me. Once I was there, I was fine. Before the class, I would try to swim a lap or two to warm up.

I’ve imagined being able to swim laps as a form of exercise, for as long as I can remember. Others tell me they have a meditative, or zen like experience when they swim. Not me, I kick, slap the water, gasp for breath, and have a hard time opening my eyes in water.

While I probably won’t drown, I’m not a great swimmer.

Then my head blew up. Splashing around in the water was impossible for me. So, as most of you know, I spent a lot of the year figuring out how to heal my head injury, and I got out of the pool.

Enter the best purchase I made in 2018.

This full face snorkel has freed up the challenge I have of breathing, and seeing. Now, when I swim, all I have to focus on is flapping my arms around, and kicking. It is awesome!

Plus, I can go to the pool in the afternoon when it only costs a twoonie and not so many people are there.

Yesterday, I swam 24 laps in the 25 metre pool, with only a short break, in just under 30 minutes! I felt like a rock star, if not an Olympic champion!

Swimming can now be moved from my list, of things I’d like to do —to things I actually can do!

I may look funny. A man holding a young child, came up to me and exclaimed, “See, she’s not a turtle.”

Who care? I can now swim with a huge degree of comfort, and if I scare the little children – all the better!

Best purchase ever!


by Jan

Rant alert!
I was hoping not to complain so much in 2018. But dang it I’ve been screaming at the inter-web for a few days now.

I’m looking at buying airline tickets on the inter-web, as we’d like to go visit my brother.

It seems to me, as soon as I start the search for travel, a good price comes up and I think —  before hitting the buy button, I should check in with others about dates, details, and doggy care.

Then, when I have those things covered, I go back to buy the tickets, and for some magical reason, the price for the same trip went up a couple of hundred dollars, and has changed to some crack of doom, departure time.

They fucking know, I’m interested.

When Ken was working as a draftsman, he had a saying for his customers. “Fast, cheap or accurate.” Pick two. This  really works.

If you want something fast and cheap — well, it won’t be accurate. If you want something accurate and cheap — plan on waiting. Fast and accurate — get your cheque book out.

The same goes for travel. Only, I put the three at accurate, convenient, and well, I can’t say cheap, but I do hope for as advertised.

Convenient is the real kicker for us living on the coast.

We cannot get an early morning flight out of YVR, because of the ferries. To leave early, we’d need to stay in a hotel the night before in Vancouver. I take that into consideration when looking at price. The same goes for coming home. The last boat won’t wait for us, if the plane is a bit late, so again… hotel. We know any trip we take is neither, fast, convenient or “cheap.”

Okay, we chose to live here, it’s the price we pay. So, I suck it up and go in once more to the web site to buy said ticket — jeepers. That same flight, just went up again and now has a eight hour layover in Tucumcari or Dallas!

Fuck you Travelocity. You know too much. You now know we want to go somewhere on certain dates and now, you think we should really pay for it. Each time I look the price goes up and up. What happen to the price that was offered the first time I looked, much less the one that was advertised?

So, the last few days I’ve been meaning to buy a stupid ticket and yet… each time I go look the price has risen, the times are worse, and the layovers longer.

Do you know that a flight from Vancouver to Vegas can take anywhere between 1.5 hours to 16.5 hours? That does not count getting to or from the airport, or the time waiting to get through security on the front end.

They advertise $195. round trip flights all over the inter-web, but the reality is closer to $450. and that does not count a hotel, taxi, or super late night arrival needed for the schedule.

I think the three choices we have now, have come down to two choices. Forget fast, cheap or convenient. We now need to pick   — go or don’t go.


by Jan

Where do I begin to tell the story….

When I was a young child, my mother told me she didn’t even try to brush my hair. It was just too…. too. (Her words)

In high school when Janice Joplin was queen, I thought I’d finally arrived, but still, my mom was all… “Can’t you just do something with that…?”

I had a guidance counsellor tell me, that I’d never get anywhere in life, unless I bought a better bra and did something with “the” hair.

The long and short of it is – I’ve had hair with its own personality ever since I was born. People called it “natural,” said I was lucky, and then would try everything on the planet to tame it.

My hair grows fast. It is thick, course and fuzzy. I can go from super short hair to waist length in about three years, and have many, many times.

But, oh, the adventures we had while it grew out were just… too.

I can tell story after story involving my hair.

Once in Milton, ON, Ed Cooper took me to his barber, for some “help.” This lady, I swear, loaded my head up with about 200 bobby pins and sprayed a full can of Auqanet on my head. “There,” she proclaimed proudly, “it’s not too….”

An elastic band was always my friend, and of course hats. I rarely go out without a hat — for me, it isn’t for fashion or keeping the sun off my face. A hat “controls” the mane.

Now, that I have short hair, I thought my troubles would be over. And for the most part they are, because I don’t care. Still, the young woman I found to cut my hair here on the coast, smiles, steps back, when working on my do, and says, “You really do have interesting hair.”

My short hair is easy. All I do is run my fingers through it before putting on my hat, when I go out, plus it dries in no time, after I wash it. (compared to the next day dry, when it was long.)

Why all this talk abut my hair? Because this photo showed up in the FB memories today.

It’s just too… too!


by Jan

My pal Art Baner has given me great advice more than once.

Today, I am reminded of the time he asked me to plant the garden I wanted, and to not worry so much about the weeds that needed pulling.

Basically, Quit fighting the old — and focus on building the new.

Art is very wise and I’m going to do my best to take his advice (again) today.

I’ve been complaining for as long as I can remember about how eating sugar is trouble for me. And yet…. I eat sugar. I give into cravings without a simple thought. Want – get.

Actually the cycle is … want — get — regret — have headache — complain — decide to change — then — want — get — and repeat.

It is also super easy for me to blame the nouns* in my life.

The holidays did not help. There was the big ass (so to speak) box of about cookies sent by my sister-in-law, the tasty cake Peter made, the OMG truffles from Jess and Angelo, and Marian’s super good cookies. I made a pie, or two.

I mean come on! I’m tapping out. At least I’d like to think I am.

I just love those folks that say, “I didn’t feel so good when I ate ______ fill in the blank, so I quit!” Ta-da!

Anyway – this is a very old song. One, I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember.

Today, maybe, just maybe I can change the tune and dial in a new station.

I know I won’t be the only one that would enjoy a freshly planted garden.

* people, places and things


by Jan

The weekly newspaper reported that BC home assessments on the coast have risen by 25% this year. The news also said that over 200 million dollars from new construction in the area will also be added to the coffers.

I know new construction is happening here. But I admit, I had no idea to the extent. Houses go on the market and they sell in weeks, sometimes in days, on the coast. And, every time I go walking, I see blackberry patches being dug up, and trees knokced down, as new neighbourhoods are created.

I know the coast is changing, but honestly, until yesterday I’d only given it a passing thought. We are still small town folk after all.

But, you can bet I thought more about it all when our home assessment went up almost $200,000.

It hit me in the face yesterday when I ventured a walk in the woods.

I don’t walk in the woods much in the summer, but,I thought it was cold enough, and winter enough, for the bears to be hibernating. So, I tried one of my favourite paths, that goes from town to home, most all of it, in the woods.

Ken dropped me off at the usual place. The first thing we saw as he dropped me was a sign that said,

I told him I was willing to risk it, I crawled up an embankment, and then said, I’d see him in an hour.

It wasn’t long before I was lost. Not really lost, I knew (in general) where I was, but the trail was no where to be seen. It wasn’t long before I was bushwhacking.

Forest monsters had been in the area. They dug up most of the trees. The trail was no where to be found. I scrambled towards where it used to be, but a pile of slash was too big for me to climb over. I tried several different directions before I finally I saw this.

Thirty minutes into the walk, I found my bearings.

Now, my worry for the bears is a totally different one.

But, hey… think of all that added tax money in the city coffers.


by Jan

At least once a year I like to “clean out” my clothes closet.

I read about a trick a few years ago where you hang up your clothes, on turned around hangers, at new years. Then, when you wear an item, the next time you hang it up, turn the hanger the correct way around and … after a year or so, any of the clothes that are still hanging backwards, you can donate or toss out.

After all, if you didn’t wear said clothing in a year, the chances of you wearing them this year, are slim.

You would never know much I love to toss shit out, if you look at all the shit in our house. Even though I like getting rid of stuff — apparently, I also like keeping stuff, so I thought the hanger thing would make it easy as pie to sort through my closet.

I found a small problem with this plan though. Silly as it sounds, I have what I can only call, “emotional clothes.” I have clothes that spark memories.

Besides, I wear the same clothing, pretty much everyday. Not the exact same thing… I do wear clean clothes, but I have several black turtle neck shirts, several pairs of jeans and several sweaters. I keep these clothes on a shelf in my bathroom, and not in my closet.

So while, I do change my clothes, I don’t change the look. I like the ease and simplicity of my “wardrobe.”

I suppose if I had a job and had to get all gussied up, it would be a different story, but I don’t, so it isn’t.

Still…. I have a closet full of clothes, and the hangers have been turned around since we moved to Sechelt three years ago.

I keep thinking, I’m not getting rid of them because, I might need to wear a dress or skirt or buttoned up blouse… one day.

It would be a real shame, if I followed the rule of tossing out what I don’t wear, just when I might need to wear something. And, well, nothing sounds worse to me, than having to go clothes shopping. Ugh.

So, once again, I kept the dress, the skirt, and the buttoned blouse…. just in case.

The new and good news is, I actually put a few things in a bag marked for the Sally Anne, but it was hard. The outfits I decided I could let go, I will probably never wear again. Probably.

But… I love them. I’ve had them for a while… they still fit, are only a little faded, and, oh the memories they hold. So what, if I bought them at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon in the late 80s. They are awesome, I wore them a lot over the years, and come to think of it, I still might.

Memories around clothes? Yup, I have a lot of good memories wearing theses outfits, and as I write… I’m changing my mind.

Maybe I’ll try again next year. After all, I have plenty of room in my closet, and so what if all the hangers hang backwards.

So what? Call me Alice, I don’t care!


by Jan

We are five days into the new year, and I’m on a roll.

Like I’ve always said, I love fresh and new. So, five days in… what is new and different? I’m happy to report — a few things.

First off….
Before going to sleep, I’ve been setting a glass of lemon water with apple cider vinegar on the counter in the washroom. Then in the morning, as the coffee is brewing, I choke down that glass of goodness.

In the past I’ve tried drinking lemon water upon waking, but ended up going straight for the coffee instead. And don’t get me started on apple cider vinegar.

So far… five days running now, I’ve been able to do this one thing I’ve tried to do for years now. Ta-da.

Another thing, that isn’t new, but is refreshed, is what I call the, “jar of goodness.”

On my desk, is a jar, with a slit in the lid. I like to write good things on a slip of paper, when they happen and put them in the jar. I’ve done this for several years now. Then each December, I empty the jar and read the scraps of paper. It is nice to spend a bit of time with the reminders of past year.

Examples include places we went, things we saw, and people we met. I also wrote down successful meals I cooked, new hobbies I’m learning, and crafty things I or Ken accomplished.

The most slips have the names of folks who stopped by for a visit. We had A LOT of company in 2017! I hope 2018 brings the same.

This year, I’m going to add all special events to the jar; not just the “good” ones.

For example, the other day I wrote down the name of Joseph, and put it in the jar.

Joseph was Michael and Marguerite’s old dog. He died a few days ago. We all met at the dog park. Joseph was a good old dog, with a sweet nature, and lovely howl.

We will miss Joseph, he is the one closest to Michael in the photo. Other pups are, Nelson, Purdy, Boze, and the two Mexicans.

I know Michael and Marguerite will have a totally different life without him. Salute, dear Joseph.

So this year, I decided that the jar will get the good and the sad. After all, Joseph is totally worth remembering.


by Jan

My niece, Kayleen and I have answered these questions for a few years now – here is my 2017 year end review. And here is hers.

It seems to me that I had a harder time with some of the answers this year. Maybe it was the questions I struggled with, anyway I had to think a bit! I guess the purpose of looking back, is to make you think though. So, here goes.

The Year in Review: 2017 in simple question and answer form.

What did you do in 2017 that you’ve never done before?
Ken and I both got cell phones with a two year contract! We rode in a zodiac and saw a lot of sea lions in the wild. We hiked among ancient Haida death poles. I learned a new quilting technique, and am trying to learn to paint.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I like having a motto, not resolutions to guide me each year. My motto for 2017 was Back to Better. I am better, but I fear the world is not. For 2018 I’ve chosen – Look up, Everyday… there are reminders. We’ll see how it goes.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t pay attention to babies.

Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, Chukki Mains and Shelagh Hill.

What countries did you visit?
We stayed in Canada.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
I do not feel I lack anything, but this next year, I’d like to get new frames for my glasses.

What events from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?
Flying up the west coast of Haida Gwaii.
My brother Art’s visit.
Shooting arrows in the backyard.
The #metoo thing
An era ended when the last Hudson drove off the hill. (My brother sold our childhood home and for the first time since 1949, no Hudson lives in Los Alamos, NM.)

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I read 55 books! (That’s a big deal for me!) I also made gifts of most of the quilts I made, and the yarn I spun. I will also say, I can cook a meal with more confidence.

What was your biggest failure?
I can’t seem to let go of a hurt.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
My head injury has healed a lot. I’m not 100%, but am much better. I got a cold last year. I hadn’t had one in a long time. For the most part, all my bits are lined up fairly well.

What was the best thing you bought?
The big rocking chair from Jess, and the spinning wheel from Linda, are pretty nice things. The food we buy, and time we spend, cooking for the local shelter each month, makes me glad we can do it, and sorry that we have to.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My brother Art, for starting over on his own. Bonus shout out because he is a very good man in the world.
Tyler and Shannon for helping Ken and me into the 90s.
Michele Livaja for being brave enough to enter the NDP race.
Jess Rice for being a generous and gentle teacher.
I continually cheer the everyday actions of my husband Ken, and of course, Boze is a good dog!

Whose behaviour appalled you?
Besides the obvious asshats creating the shit show in the states, I’m appalled by Democrats who aren’t screaming! I’m appalled by people who don’t think guns are a problem, and those that do think religion is a solution. I also feel duped by John Hogan for going ahead with the Site C dam project.

Where did most of your money go?
Probably on food. We eat like kings.

What did you get really excited about?
My first painting lesson was fun, shooting arrows is as well.
I saw a cougar, whale, and bear that made my heart race.
Anytime Ken says, “Get in the van.”
Watching the sunrise and set at Agate Beach up north, and every day here on Samron Rd.

What song will always remind you of 2017?
Any song by Tom Petty.

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?  Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Same (but I feel fatter)
iii. richer or poorer?  Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I had hiked more trails and less sidewalks.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Complaining, and snacking.

Did you fall in love in 2017?
Ken still has my heart, so does our doggy Boze.

What was your favourite TV program?
I still watch cooking shows, Perry Mason, and This Hour has 22 Minutes. I like the Coroner, Father Brown, and Masterpiece. We now have Netfliks, and I’m open to suggestions of shows  that are not violent or about war.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Like my niece, I’ll be deleting this question next year, or perhaps I will change it to –
Have you let go of any resentment or have a regret you cling to?
(The answer for 2017 would be… Yes, I’m holding a hurtful grudge, and I have no regret about it.)

What was the best book you read?
My top choice this year will be one of the plays I read. alterNative. I’m sorry I didn’t write down who wrote this play — it was fantastic!

What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
Roy Orbison got the most play.

What did you want and get?
The best thing I have now, that I’ve always wanted — A good relationship with my brother. It is an absolute joy.

What did you want and not get?
Besides  once again not getting thinner, I usually get what I want. This question should read, What did I want to do, but didn’t.
I think I’d like to swim on a regular basis, but I didn’t go once. Plus, the hiking thing.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Maudie, — hands down.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 62. Patti Brown made a fancy, dancy, surprise, coconut cake for me! Plus, I started collecting social security cheques!

What one thing would have made the year immeasurably more satisfying?
Finding a hiking partner to explore the different trails around here on a regular basis.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Hasn’t changed in years. I still wear turtle necks, jeans and hiking boots.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Seriously? We all know tRump is a fucker, but those GOP asshats Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel are just evil. On a positive note, Michelle Livaja almost won a seat in our Parliament.

Who and what did you miss?
Who I miss …I continue to miss Kim, mom, Peet, and now, Chukki who are dead. I miss my tai chi brother Jim, who is alive. What I miss… not very often, but sometimes, I really miss being able to drink booze.

Who was the best new person you met?
Shannon at Telus. She is smart, friendly, and generous.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
I learned I am much more of an introvert than I thought. I’m grateful we have friends who visit us but, I realize I need a day or two of quiet to recover after they leave. Also, Ken and I often joke that, “A better woman could’ve got a better man.” I know for sure that I did as good as I possibly could. And for the record, I happen to think, that so far… I’ve done pretty darn good in life and in love.