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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

Ken and I have been trying in vain to buy firewood.

We probably started looking a bit late, but are not really worried as we had plenty left over from last year. Still, we perfer to go into winter with a freezer full of blueberries and a wood shed full of wood. So, we have contacted 3 or 4 different people who actually advertise that they sell wood. We’ve also called 2 or 3 others that friends have recommended.

Our luck has been so so. Most don’t call back, but three times, we’ve been promised delivery and got a no shows. One time, a woman showed up with half of our order. Mostly, we have been left waiting and hoping for said promised wood to be dropped off.

I told Ken, Oh, to be young and industrious! We could make a fortune. Ha! All you really have to do to be somewhat successful in life is show up. Be where you say you will be, with what you say you will have, and do what you say you will do. Crazy talk right!

One woman who promised wood, said she couldn’t come because she broke a window in her truck and couldn’t afford to fix it. I said, we had money for wood if that would help. Her answer was — not really. The window would cost $500. and the wood is only $220. She decided not to deliver the wood but to ask her father for the money instead.

I don’t get it, and I do. Work ethics change. I was there when a young man said he wanted to “be rich” when asked what he wanted as he entered college. Another answered they wanted to “be famous”. No one said they wanted to be a fireman, chef, or electrician.

Have we taken this, “You can be anything you want to be” too far? I think so, look what the US has for President. I guess, anyone can be anything — qualified or not, by us leaving out the part of the conversation that says….”if you study and work for it.” Basically, suit up and show up.

All this reminds me of an adventure in business I had when I was 21 years old.

I had just met Sandie. She and I were young housewives, having the time of our life. We spent most days hanging out at the lake and watching soap operas, then around 4 pm, we would rush home to cook dinner for our “hard working” husbands! It was grand.

One day we thought about starting a business and making some money of our own. We had the great idea to take down old abandoned barns in the area, and use the wood to create awesome art projects.

Sandie had been a house framer, so we had the tools and she knew how to them. I was teachable. One day, we put on work boots, overalls, and gloves, we took hammers and saws and went to a barn we had scoped out. We were already counting the money we would make. There was a lot of old wood there, enough to make furniture, frames, tables; the list was endless.

As we approached the barn though, the very first piece of wood we lifted off a pile that had fallen — we saw a snake.


We both ran.

Nope! That big fat idea was the wrong one. We gave it all up and went back to the lake to think of something we could do with less danger and certainly a lot less work.

Over the years, we’ve both had a variety of jobs. We did work hard and both of us had good careers. We know how to show up.

One thing I know for certain, is that we never, ever, called our dads for money.

Oh, to be young and industrious again!


by Jan

I started writing this story the other day. It’s been sitting on my desk for a while now, as it is going to take courage to hit the post button. I want to find the right words.

These headlines about Harvey what’s his name, and the sexual predator in the white house, Bill Cosby, and Jian Ghomeshi are getting to me. The list goes on about these high powered, high profile asshats, who are or have been in the news about how they treat the women they have power over. I want to say, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

What is pissing me off is… to bring this “shocking” news of abuse to the front page, the men had to be big shots. And the women they abused had to number more than a few.

Still, the US elected a self confessed sexual predator. Sixty women accused Bill Cosby and bubkis, Jian Ghomeshi lost his job, but in court, was found innocent. They gave Bill O’Rielly $25 million as severance pay, when he was “fired” for his abuse.

Again I say … are you kidding me? This type of abuse is rampant in EVERY walk of life. You don’t have to be a Hollywood starlet to have encountered abuse. Most women and girls have, at one time or another, dealt with some form of sexual harassment, abuse, and or rape.

Then as I wrestled with writing this, I saw this on Facebook…
“If all the women who have been raped, sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem that has existed for a long time.”

A gate was opened. Me too was posted all over social media. Women everywhere found the courage to say these two words.

I am shocked not by the news or number of women posting, but by how rattled I am from this scab being pulled. Events that once were considered shameful and secret are now being posted for all to see, by her, and her, and even her!

If you are a women — chances are good, that you have been harassed on the job, on the street, or in your home. Me too.

I have been “messed with” by the guidance counselor in high school, the editor of a newspaper, a martial arts teacher, a policeman, one of my dad’s friend, a doctor, and even the neighbourhood kids. I was raped by a co-worker, harassed on the job, and have turned away from strange men in cars, who would stop to ask for directions, and instead would show me their penis.

Here, I feel the need to tell you, that as I got older, met Ken, sobered up, took self-defence classes, and began working for myself, these experiences diminished. (Although, Mr. Chan pulled some shit on me, and several other women in our tai chi class.) Still, none of it was my fault. None of it. Yet, the scars are deep.

Harvey Weinstein is neither the cause nor the solution, same as the asshat in the White House. They are merely a symptom of a much larger deep rooted problem.

Today I have A LOT of amazing men  and women in my life who are incredibly respectful and loving. They are strong people who have my back and I have theirs. And maybe because of the safety I experience in my life today, I’ve been able to roll merrily along, whistling in the dark, knowing what happened, happened. Done and done.

But — all this Me Too is shaking me up. As I said, the scars are deep.

We’ve talked about the women and the girls who have been abused, and now we are finally beginning to talk about the men who abuse us. Instead of talking about how many women were raped last year, perhaps we need to reframe the headline as to how many men did the raping.

We are starting by calling out the high profile men.

The Me Too thing is an uncomfortable light, shining on the majority of women, who have been abused in some way and not just by the rich and famous.

I’m hoping one day instead of a Me Too hashtag, we will see a viral hashtag saying #Ididit,Iwaswrong,itwasallmyfault,I’msorry.

I was reminded the other day, that life’s events swing on a pendulum. We are swinging my friends.


by Jan

I put the binding on Chukki’s quilt yesterday, and slept under it last night. There is something wonderful about sleeping under a freshly finished quilt. I slept well and had good dreams.

I also woke up knowing this quilt — while it may look finished — it’s not.

Sure, I used up all the fabric I bought for this particular quilt. I rarely have much waste. I tend to “design” and sew until I’m out of fabric —  Then waa-la. A quilt is made.

However – there is something about this one that isn’t setting right with me. I think I need to cut it apart and work it a bit more.

It’s a good thing, I’ve been using the “quilt as you go” method of quilting, so it is possible for me  to chop it up and not ruin it. (I hope.)

Quilt as you go is a method of sewing the top on the batting and backing all at once. You then connect sections with a binding. It works well.

Of course, there are pros and cons to this method. I don’t think they are as lovely as the ones I send to Jo Baner for machine quilting. And they sure aren’t as cool as when I decide to hand quilt. But, for now, this is how I’m rolling.

I’ve never been known to plan a quilt. I usually start with fabric, stare at it for a while. Then I start cutting. I like to tell a story and start with a small idea. I continue staring, then sew, cut, sew, cut, stare, cut, sew, and stare some more, cut some more and sew some more, until finally, I’m either out of fabric or the story is told.

I have no problem cutting up a so called finished quilt and adding to, or subtracting from it, and this method allows for this. I could slice this quilt right down the middle, add a new section or two, and carry on without too much trouble.

And, despite my good nights sleep, that’s what I woke up thinking this morning. I’m need to cut up Chukki’s quilt and… add or subtract something.

I don’t know what that something is yet.

I’m out of the particular fabric the majority of her quilt is made from, but lucky for me, I have a good stash of fabric in the sewing room closet. And the really good news with quilts, is for the most part, anything goes.

I’m glad I’m a process person. I thought I’d finished Chukki’s quilt last night. This morning, it is clear to me that it doesn’t matter if you are out of words, if the story hasn’t been told.

Where are my scissors?



by Jan

A terrible and true haiku —

Batiks are half price
I am my mother’s daughter
I do not resist


by Jan

I was about 15 minutes into my walk this afternoon, when I was passed by our neighbour. He was out for a run.

This totally surprised me, until I thought about it. Then I was super embarrassed at my own thoughts. (Not for the first time mind you.) I thought why the heck is he running? He is in great shape, he doesn’t need to run!

I’ve written about our neighbour before. He’s a tree guy, a volunteer firefighter, and is also a local hero.

My preconceived idea about why others do what they do are wrong. I know this and still… Lucky for me – I’ve learned to not stop at my first thought. I know to keep thinking, and usually I’ll learn something.

Growing up, I assume people are the way they are, because they are the way they are.

Now, I know people are usually the way they are, because of the things they do on a regular basis.

That practice thing.

Our neighbour is in great shape, not because he climbs trees — he’s in great shape so he can climb trees.

Years ago, I took a few lessons from a man named Tony Clark, who taught Praying Mantis Kung Fu. I remember the exact lesson when he said:

1. Practice what you know.
2. Practice what you are learning.
3. Practice so you are able to practice.

Guess what?
I started practicing again because, I am getting myself ready,
to practice again.


by Jan

My niece Kayleen has a bloggy she updates it once a month. Maybe I’ll try that.

However, if you know me, you know I tend to change my goals, way more easily than my behaviour, so while I’d like to commit to a particular writing schedule – I won’t.

I’ll write when I write. I’ll post when I post.

Today has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs and I’ve buckled up.

Waking to the news of another mass shooting is heartbreaking. Waking to the news that it happened at a concert, in Las Vegas, was heart stopping.

My brother Art lives in Vegas now and, he goes to concerts.

He’s okay. He was home. He also reminded me when I called at 7 a.m. that they shoot people in Walmart  and movie theaters in the states, and that shit happens. But still……Nothing makes what happen okay or normal. 2nd amendment my ass.

Then I rode the roller coaster to the highest high a few hours later. I met my friend Sheila Haddad, who was in Sechelt for the weekend teaching. How fun!

I knew Sheila from my PAWMA (Pacific Assoc. of Women Martial Artists) days. She was just one of the amazing women who made PAWMA one of the most positive experiences of my life. She was one of the teachers that taught me how to fall properly, and she also taught me how to throw a knife!

Even though I hadn’t seen Sheila for well over 10 years, we fell into easy conversation and familiar comfort, as if we’d been to camp last week!

The women I met at PAWMA are life long friends, who taught me so much, about so much.

I continue to cherish them all. I’m grateful we will grow old together, even if we all grow old in different parts of the world. I salute.

Seat belt tighten – Tom Petty dies. Shit. Tom Petty was my go-to guy for road trips and dancing music.

Going down….now back up….

Now, I hear he didn’t die. But had a heart attack and is off life support.

Such a confusing day.

October 2nd; the birthday of a lot of friends. Gaby is another PAWMA friend who I once spent a perfect day with. Machelle, my step-daughter from my first husband, who I think of so very often, Kim, one of the cooks from the O, and even though he has been dead for quite a few years – Jurgen.  Salute!

I found riding out the events of the day more comfortable from the safety of our home. So I sat down.

Now I’m only getting up when the dogs need to go outside. I think I’ve a few more minutes to sit and catch my breath. But, I’m not taking the seat belt off yet, just in case.

No, I’ll stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down — Tom Petty


by Jan

We explored a lot on our trip to Haida Gwaii. We also had time to read and reflect.

One book I breezed through was Gumboot GirlsAdventure, Love & Survival on the North Coast of British Columbia. Edited by Lou Allison.

This was a collection of stories by women who went to Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert in the 70s.

Great concept for a book. Unfortunately, it was one story told 34 times. I kid you not when I say just about every one of the stories started with the same words and continued on in the exact same fashion. Only one story was sort of different from the others.

They began…
In 1973 I moved to … It was 1973 when… I moved in 1973… The year was 1973 and I…
They all ended with…
I will forever be grateful for my time in the North.

In reality, no two people have the same story, but you couldn’t prove it from this book.

Thirty-four middle class, white women, usually from the mid-west, seeking adventure after graduating college. They were defying their parents, as they moved with some hippie guy to the North coast. All in search of the simple life and living off the land.

Blah blah, blah…

Still, I have to laugh at what they deem the “simple life” though. There is nothing is simple about hauling water, chopping wood, growing your own food, building your house out of driftwood, and surviving the cold, wet winter storms in the Pacific.

I guess, when you’re 20 years old, and high on drugs, it’s more fun to live this way — but mostly they wrote of working long hours, for shelter, heat and food.

Most made money as school teachers, nurses, or they held jobs in the fish canneries. All had boyfriends or husbands, who fished or logged. All got pregnant and left when it was too hard to raised their children off the land. Only a very few grew old there.

I graduated in 1973 and remember my adventures at that time.

I hitchhike east and landed in Massachusetts. Like most hippie girls at the time, I also was exploring my freedom, but unlike a lot of girls, and while I didn’t know it, I wasn’t ready or prepared for life on my own.

I was lucky I landed at the home of Chukki Mains. Chukki took me in. She gave me a home, some time, and guidance. She helped me to mature.

While I was reading this book, I heard the news of Chukki’s death.

In Prince Rupert, I found some interesting fabric at a quilt store. This week I will start a quilt, and will remember Chukki. This incredible, creative, and loving woman made it possible for me to live my own “simple life” in 1973. I am  forever grateful for my time with her.


by Jan

First off…
Home is good.

We are so glad to see Boze and she was glad to see us — Thanks to her aunties Marian, Sarah and MayLynn who took good care of her. They gave her a lot of lap time, swims in the ocean, snacks and snuggles while we were away. Oh, how we missed her!

The trip was great — all connections were made and the more time passes, the more I appreciate where we went, what we did and all we saw. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t what we experienced. Once again I remember what ‘they say’ about expectations!

Everything was much more “rustic” than I imagined. Primitive is another word I could use. Haida Gwaii is special; and most places are not bothered by first world luxuries. Being off the grid was one thing, and I must admit that I hold in very high regard, flush toilets, clean clothes, and running hot water!

We were fortunate to be able to go where we went and see what we saw. The van is awesome, and traveling with Ken is the only way to go!

I have notes to myself about topics I’d like to write about. Now that we are home, and I can use a real keyboard. Not needing to finger type with stupid auto correct on a phone will make writing and posting easier. Bear with me over time, as I recollect my feelings and our adventures.

Besides the beauty and adventure of the place, was living what some deem the simplicity of living. Which is a funny way to look at the hard work it takes to survive up there. I will disagree with others about it being the “simple life.” For me it is hard and slow work living without what I deem the comforts of home. Different strokes for different folks and we met some different folks indeed.

Like I said, I do have a lot to write about and will. I’ll also post some photos, but for now I’ll share one thing I did find simple. They were these roadside libraries. It was nice to come upon them and be able to take one and leave one.

It’s good to go and it’s good to be home.


by Jan

We leave tomorrow on a trip we’ve been planning for months. We have one way tickets to Sandspit, BC. and booked a 4 day sea plane and boat tour through the UNESCO area of Gwaii Haanas. We’ll meet our friends Sarah and MayLynn who left last week. They drove the van up there and have been touring and exploring already.

Once we get up there, we’ll swop stories, advice and the van. Ken and I will continue exploring and they will fly back home.

Sandspit is in Haidia Gwaii – a group of islands off the coast a little north of Prince Rupert.

I admit I’ve been anxious about it all, but then again, I get anxious any time I try new things or go to new places.

We have a lot of connections to make, and are counting on others for some of those connections. I’m anxious because uhmmmm… I prefer to be in control of …. most everything.

Silly me, I worried about this, and was concerned about that; I was going on and on, then I was reminded… of those days way back when. I’ve hitchhiked across the USA two different times all by myself. I had about $35. in my pocket at the time. I was fine! I wasn’t scared; everything worked out just fine.

Today, I have credit cards, reservations, hotels, tour guides, a van, phones, and Ken. There is no reason to be nervous, and every reason to be excited. This is really a grand opportunity and I am one lucky girl.

By the way, Ken and I arrived kicking and screaming into the 90s this last week.

We both have cell phones now! Yup. We resisted long enough. We can now call people, text, take photos with a phone, check Facebook, play WWF, and use GPS when and if there’s a signal. We can walk around, saying, “Can you hear me now?” and we can butt dial lucky people who we have in our contact list!

We have become “those people” and I feel we will truly enter the modern world when I quit jumping in surprise, when the darn things makes a noise, or vibrates! I’m learning!

The phones are the only electronics we are bringing on this trip. It is possible to update this bloggy thing from the phone, BUT no promises as my thumb typing needs practice. Besides, I’m going old school and bringing a notebook for writing! 🙂

Suffice it to say, Ken and I are moving forward, as we go back in time. This trip we will visit and explore some very old growth, and ancient First Nations land, and will take the latest in technology as we do it.

I guess that explains my anxiousness and the excitement.


by Jan

Today is my brothers birthday. Art is 64 and for the first time in a few years, he will not be going to Gabriels for a celebration taco dinner. He won’t get to wear the birthday sombrero tonight!
He’s getting something better.

Art is picking up the keys to his new house in Las Vegas today.

Yup – Art bought a house in Las Vegas, NV. They close the deal today. I’m hoping someone brings a cake!

I’ve seen photos of the house, thanks to the interweb. It is a nice place. Two bedrooms, open concept, nice upgrades all around. There’s a nice back yard patio, and it’s close to a public golf course.

Art’s house is in a “retirement” complex. There is a guard at a gate, and not just anyone can get in to cruise around. It’s a nice level of security, if and when Art goes traveling. The other benefit of being part of this gated community is, there are all types of amenities; a swimming pool, club house, monthly community potlucks, a gym, and as the realtor told Art, “loads of widows!” (read that again… not windows!)

Las Vegas is not my choice for places to live, but I know it will suit Art quite well. He likes the heat, he likes the lower altitude, and he likes the option of action that Las Vegas offers. I like that air fare is super cheap to and from Las Vegas, so I know we will get to visit each other more often.

I also know Art is a bit of a homebody, and having his own home is pure gold.
Happy Birthday brother mine – I am so happy for you and I love you.