Featured post

Welcome to my bloggything…

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.

don’ttellmewahttodo

by Jan

While looking for inspiration and a topic to write about today, I came across this golden oldie from the Today’s Step vault.

If at your first qigong class the instructor said to you, “With regular practice of this art, you may experience some serious side effects, including a good night sleep, better digestion, lower blood pressure, and stress reduction. You may even experience a powerful self healing, you could meet wonderful friends, and enjoy the harmony of your body, mind and spirit”.
Would you try it?

Even though, I don’t teach much these days, I do have a wealth of experience, as well as, the hubris and habit of telling others what they “should or could” do to make life better.

I also know the answer to the above question is quite often, No!

Practice is a bitch, and change is hard. Especially if it’s not my idea.

I used to think showing up was the important part. But, now I’m not so sure.

I don’t think I’m that different from any one else but, having someone else tell me what to do is the worst. Especially, if it is “Good for you.”

The battle cry of, “Don’t tell me what to do, and you’re not the boss of me,” is rarely heard from adults, but often seen.

If I don’t want to do something, I will nod and smile, then silently turn away and not show up.

I might make a half-hearted attempt when someone I love points out — how good X,Y, or Z will be for me. And, believe me, I know, I really know, that with lessons, and practice, the world opens up.

Yet, even when you show me all the benefits, even if you make a good case for what I should do, — Even then, I might still say no.

Maybe it’s my age and experience, maybe I’m stubborn or silly, but more and more, I notice the real pay off and reason to practice anything, comes, when it’s our own idea.

diamondsareforfingers

by Jan

Pajarito Mountain in Los Alamos has some of the states best skiing ever. I would say the hill is second only to Taos as far as challenge and beauty. It’s where I learned to snow ski.

I never took lessons, my dad would tell us to ski behind an on-going lesson, eavesdrop on the instructor, then do what they said. More than anything, we just let loose and skied. Being young, what could happen? (Plenty did, but that’s another story.)

The way I remember a day of skiing, was to ride the T-bar to the top of the mountain, (we didn’t have  chair lift in those days), then start on one side of the mountain, and ski down each and every slope. When you had hit them all, the day was done and we went home.

I remember, some runs were exciting and challenging, some were easier than others, some had moguls, some were super steep and others, almost flat. It didn’t matter, we skied them all.

When Ken and I met, we went skiing together in Colorado. When we got off the chair, I went to the first run on the right and Ken said, “No way — that’s a black diamond run!” I didn’t know what he was talking about.

Yesterday, I took my new compass and map and went hiking in the West Sechelt matrix. On the map besides the names of each trail I saw the marking. A blue square, a black diamond, even a double black diamond. Today, I know what these mean, but because I rarely look at maps, I don’t paid attention to them. I just know some trails are easier than others.

I went on a double black diamond trail yesterday.

A while ago, I told Becky, I couldn’t keep up with her when we hiked up and up! I needed to hike on “easier” trails, and she has since, accommodated me.

Well, I wasn’t in 10 minutes yesterday, before I was literally on my hands and knees crawling up a mossy trail, and saying to myself WTF!

I kept going and started talking out loud to myself. “Easy does it. Take a rest, watch your step. OMG! This is crazy steep!” At one point I started laughing — remembering Ken all those years ago — saying, “No way, that’s a black diamond.”

This particular trail was not really set up for hikers, it was more of an extreme mountain bike trail. It had trestles, and bridges, and all sorts of obstacles, that no sane person would walk on, much less ride a bike on. And yet…

Becky said you have to climb for the views, and oh my, as I took a lot of breaks, I had to agree, the view was incredible.

I used my compass several times during the hike. I wanted to get my bearings. I figured out north. I saw my place on the map. Yay me! Then I came to a choice on the trail. Another super crazy steep slope, or a logging road. I checked the map, and couldn’t find my place, so I tried to get the google to show me exactly where I was with the google maps thing. No signal.

I choose the over grown logging road. My legs had had enough of the double black diamond shit!

As I hiked on the road, deep in the bush, I had to jump over flowing streams, and wade through one. I duck under fallen branches, and kept the bell around my neck ringing, to let any wild life know I was there. (I also sing when hiking alone.)

At one point I realized I had one of those “runners highs.” Not that I was running, but being out in nature, on such a lovely day, in such a lovely place. My endorphins had kicked in and were coursing through me. It was … nice!

Back at the car, I talked to two young men on bikes, and asked them about the trail I was just on. They both laughed and said, that isn’t a hiking trail — that’s a double black diamond mountain bike trail.

Duh…
My legs are sore this morning. I’ll probably take an “blue square” hike today!

lookuplookdownlookallaround

by Jan

Years ago, Greg Phillips and I, got in a car together. We drove 10 hours to Golden, BC. for a tai chi workshop.

I remember only two things about that trip — the first was Greg was wearing shorts, and a bee flew in the window, and stung him on his inner thigh, while he was driving. It’s a miracle we are still alive.

The other thing I remember, was arriving at the camp, and someone saying, “We were worried, with Greg’s sense of timing and your sense of direction, we figured you’d be half way to Yukon by now!”

It was funny, because it was true.

I know the difference between left and right in some situations. But, ask me to face east or point north, (if I’m not standing in my kitchen) and you might as well ask me to solve a complex math problem. It’s not going to happen.

BUT… mark my words, that’s going to change this year!

Yesterday, while out hiking alone in the bush, I had to call Ken and ask him where I was.

I had a general idea, was totally safe, and I knew, I could always turn around and retrace my steps back to the car. However, I had a “plan” yesterday and wasn’t that far into it.

What I didn’t know at the time, was I had missed the turn off to trail I planned to take, and unexpectedly, came out on a logging road.

The trail map was at home, and I knew Ken could look at it, and tell me which way to go.

The only problem with that, was I wasn’t where I thought I was. So, his directions didn’t make any sense to me. After a bit of wandering, I retraced my steps, and came back home.

I still had a fabulous hike, it was a beautiful day, and when I got home, Ken had a “little gift” ready for me.

A compass.

My brain automatically went into math mode and shut down.

Then I woke up. I know with lessons and practice, a person can learn almost anything. So, I’m setting my sights on learning to read a compass.

I know I can do this.
Wish me luck!

tappedout

by Jan

I threw in the towel.

I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I really liked the way the author would turn a phrase. However, I couldn’t understand the story she was telling.

This book had too many words for me. After two weeks, I tapped out on page 132.

I remember reading about a man, who wrote something like, “Forgive me, I didn’t have the time to write a shorter letter.”

It takes a lot of time to write well. Ken repeatedly tells me that I repeat myself, so I know the struggle is real.

With so many books in the world, I often wonder how a particular one ends up in my hand.

I take recommendations seriously — I like a nice cover design, and font size matters to me. I’ll also look to see if the book won a prize. I like The Man Booker, Canada Reads, or The Giller winners, more than Pulitzer prize winners.

The Essex Serpent had a cool cover, good size font, was recommended, still it will be the first book in the DNF category of 2019.

I’m happy to push my limits with a story, yet apparently, I have limits.

spayandneuteryourpets

by Jan

So, I see a post about a puppy on Bowen Island, that is ready for “guardianship”.

I wonder… what the heck does guardianship mean when dealing with dogs. I think maybe a part time doggy or… I don’t know, so I PM the lady to find out more.

A short time later, Marian calls me to give me the buzz…. She says, “Have we got a deal for you!” There is a 8 week old “woodoole” — yup, a woodoole… a mix of a wheaten terrier and of course some sort of doodled, looking for a home.

The deal with guardianship is, the dog, … normally $2500. (cough, cough) is FREE!

The catch is, you agree to let the dog have three litters of puppies, for the breeder, over the next six years.

I said, I would talk to Ken, as I am a bit impulsive.

Two minutes after talking to Marian, I had named the puppy Vera, and imagined her sleeping under my feet while I sewed, eating my shoes, and romping at the dog park.

Ken is and always has been, the voice of reason.

His hard no wasn’t immediate. He reminded me, that there are enough dogs in the world — that we’d want to spay any dog we got. And… we’ve talked about it — a puppy, no.

Dang it. Of course he is right — I totally agree with him.

Wednesday, a mere seven months after Boze died, Ken found a green plastic poop bag, in the pocket of a coat, he hasn’t worn for a while. I know he didn’t say no for any other reason, than he is caring and wise.

Plus, while I agree wholeheartedly… I get to say, Ken said no.

Ahhhh… Vera… the path not taken.

countingflowersonthewall

by Jan

Don’t tell me, there’s nothing to do….

When we first moved here, we signed up to receive a weekly email, announcing all the events, gatherings, and things to do, and see here on the coast.

We are quite the homebodies, but this week a couple of events caught our attention…

The first was the invitation to “Relax and dive deep into the soothing sounds of the didjeridu and quartz crystal singing bowls.” with Chris Niebergall and Kym Chi.

Ken wasn’t so keen on this one, so I pointed out that we could join Jack Garton, who “Armed with an accordion and trumpet…

Never mind … Home is good.

writingvsstorytelling

by Jan

Over the holidays my friend, Tamsin was reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. So, monkey see, monkey do, I went to the library and checked it out. I figure, if my friends like a book, I will too.

I’ve had it for a week now, and have not made much headway. It is hard to follow and I’m not exactly sure what is happening, but I love how the author writes. Perry’s words grab me, often enough to keep me in it!

I marvel at her writing more than the story! Which brings me to wonder… does a good writer, automatically tell a good story?

I’m only 80 pages in and all I know is someone has died, and there is a son. Honestly, I can’t tell you more about this book. The Essex Serpent has been mentioned several times. But, I’m not sure if the serpent is a work of art, or a creature haunting the town. I don’t seem to care though, as the writing is delicious and different.

An example:
“Cora attempted to conquer her scowl. Some bullnecked country curate all Calvin and correction, and his parsimonious wife! She could not, offhand, think of anything worse, and inferred from Martha’s rigidity at her side that her feelings were shared. But still—it would be useful to have some local knowledge of Essex geography. What’s more, it was not necessarily the case that a man of the cloth would be ignorant of modern science: among her favorite books was a thesis from an anonymous Essex rector on the high antiquity of the earth, which crisply dispensed with notions of calculating the date of creation from Old Testament genealogies.”

Now, I just opened the book and randomly picked a paragraph.

When I went to desktop publishing school, one of the main lessons they tried to teach was, no matter what you are creating, be it a poster, or book cover, the customer should not have to struggle to understand it.

But, then I met Marian Bantjes. I saw that it was fun to be challenged to understand some projects. I find I am willing to work for understandings, for the price of a person’s artistry.

Throwing words onto a page is hard. Not all writers, craft an easy story.

I really like how Sarah Perry writes, and even if I can’t follow her in story, I’m not willing to abandon this book. Her words are too scrumptious.

postalrambles

by Jan

The hard part of writing is thinking of things to write.

My friend Anna, said when writing a letter, you just need to write one interesting thing. I’ll go a step shorter, and say, just write the darn letter!

My days are routine, and while I can entertain myself well enough, I realize I am not adding much to the conversation, so this bloggy thing is wrought with rambles. Sorry!

I tend to read, sew, walk, cook at least one meal, and repeat. Sometimes, instead of sewing, I spin. Once or twice a week, I venture out to the store and Post Office.

Today, the post office will be my one interesting thing.

When it comes to the Post Office, I admit, I am a fallen apple from the Hudson tree.

My Grandma loved writing and sending letters. Birthday cards in particular, and I’m grateful her passion for this was passed on to me.

My dad also, loved the mail. Even during his last days, when it was hard for him to go anywhere, he wanted to go to the Post Office. There were times, he would wait outside the post office for it to open. He loved being first in the doors. By the way, he did this at the barbers and dry cleaners as well. First was better than second.

Canada Post in general, cannot be said to be a fine service. It is expensive and slow. I know for a fact that letters and packages go missing. And, while I really like our local postal workers, I suspect too that the delivery person, sometimes, just takes the day off.

I won’t be first in the line up today, but as a Hudson, I do look forward to going to the P.O.

Today, I’m sending out January birthday cards, a contest prize, and two surprise presents.

Grandma used to say, “You gotta write ‘em to get ‘em.” Unfortunately, that is no longer true and not my motivation.

These days I just write ‘em to write ‘em.

adventuresincooking

by Jan

I’ve learned to cook! Now, while I still say, “good luck” and not “Bon appetit”, when I serve, — I haven’’t set a pot holder on fire in quite a while. Now, instead of burning food, I caramelize it!

The hardest part of cooking, besides timing, is deciding what to have for dinner, oh and using the right ingredients. (There’s a big difference between cream of tarter and tarter sauce.)

I find having a freezer full of food helps. Ours is stocked, not only with blueberries, raspberries, and bananas for smoothies, I also freeze leftover soup for those times when I don’t feel like cooking. And, we buy meat and fish in bulk from the butcher. I like having a choice on hand, when I think about what’s for dinner.

And, while I have plenty of cookbooks on the shelf, the inter-web is my go-to place for new recipes. All I have to do is talk to the google, and I have a plethora of options with the ingredients of my choice.

The other day, I saw what looked like a tasty meal made with sausage and cabbage. I watched the youtube cooking lesson, and knew it was in my wheelhouse of culinary skills!

I have several varieties of sausage to choose from in the freezer. So, I grabbed some turkey links to de-frost, and gathered the other ingredients in ready.

I don’t plan when quilting, but I’ve learned when cooking, you really do need to use the ingredients the recipe calls for IF you want the meal to come out well. The French technique of mise en place helps a lot when cooking. I set all the ingredients in the recipe out before I begin.

Anyway – yesterday, I had the counter full of chopped onion, grated garlic, sliced cabbage, corn, peas, soy sauce and sesame oil at the ready for my yummy meal.

Once all this was ready, I needed to cook the sausage.

I told you we buy meat in bulk, so I usually repackage the meat into smaller portions before I put it in the freezer. This had been done with the sausage, so I didn’t think much about it, when I opened the baggie to start cooking up the meat — but… dang it, something was weird.

The sausage was mushy. I knew it was defrosted, but this was too much. I wanted to cut the casing off the link, to fry it up, but…. something was really off. Something just wasn’t right with this meat… too mushy… the meat had no structure… I was genuinely confused, as I know we buy from a quality source.

I messed with it a bit more… I smelled it… uhm….

Bananas.

Not sausage — bananas. I’d thawed a pound of bananas.

Bananas do not go all that well with cabbage, onions and ginger.

I’m just saying.

doctordoctorgivemethenews

by Jan

Once again, I want to give a shout out to the socialist health care we receive here in Canada.

Looking back, it has literally taken me years, not only to appreciate the system, but to use it.

Growing up in America, I rarely had health insurance, and if I did, it came with a high deductible, that I had to meet before it kicked in.

The western medical attention I did get was usually horrible. I held a huge dis-trust for medical doctors and as a hippie, went the way of hands on, herbs and voodoo. Except when it came to colds. For colds, forget the ginger, honey, and cayenne — give me Buckley’s! (only because I can’t have NyQuill)

When Ken and I first landed in Canada, we got our care cards and uhm… honestly, we didn’t use them for quite a while. We continued to see “alternative” healers. Alternative health was described as care that insurance didn’t cover. BUT, alternative healers also took tai chi lessons and were keen to trade. I told myself and I still somewhat, believe that western medicine is not for me. Yet, those beliefs were not what stopped me from going to a doctor.

What stopped me was the money. I know, I know… In Canada, we show our care cards, not our cheque books to doctors. But, still… old habits die hard, and I’m not sure I really believed it was “free.” Plus, I figured you had to be really sick to see a doctor, and for the most part I wasn’t.

It was during a massage, that I was told, I had a funny looking mole, and should have it looked at. I hemmed and hawed. My masseuse said, “It doesn’t cost anything to have them look at it.” So, I did. The doctor looked at it and removed it in the office. A few days later, she called with the path report. I was fine, no charge.

I’ve had quite a few funny looking moles. But, in the states, when I worried about a mole, I also had to worry if I had the money for an office visit and the pathology.

I didn’t go to the doctor for any type of preventive care. I honestly preferred hands on, herbs, sticks and twigs healing anyway.

I’m thinking about all this now because:

1. I just finished reading Educated by Tara Westover. A memoir about a woman who grew up in a fundamentalist religious home where they totally didn’t “believe” in doctors, or hospitals. Only “Gods pharmacy” of herbs, sticks and twigs. (BTW, this is a good read.)

2. An American friend recently ask for advice in stopping flu symptoms on Facebook. The call was answered with everything from Elderberry syrup, ginger, whiskey, etc., Not one person suggested she, “Ask a doctor.”

3. And, finally — someone I love is getting “released” from the care they are in, because they’ve maxed out their insurance, not because they are better.

I’ve known for a while, that Ken and I could not return to the US, even if we wanted to. While, most things like housing and food are much cheaper in the states, The cost of cost of health care is out of our reach.

We are getting older and while we are in pretty good health, Ken and I have used our health care system, quite a bit now. Each time, we are grateful for the access and care we receive.

I know some people who read this bloggy thing are American, so let me first off put to rest a few concerns.

We chose our doctor. When we first moved to Sechelt, we were assigned one, but we didn’t like him, so we changed. We do not have any trouble getting in to see her. Most of the time we can get in on the same day we call, the longest we’ve had to wait was a week for an appointment. She’s even called the house, to tell us about some tests results. If she cannot see us, another doctor will.

Now, we are not the type to run to the doctor for a runny nose, (but we could)! We started calling on our system because I had a head injury, and Ken had a tumour.

We’ve had trips to the ER, CAT scans, MRI’s. We’ve seen specialists and  I’ve even had a few moles looked at and taken off.

We’ve not had to get the cheque book out once and we’ve not once been denied care. Our crazy “socialist” medical plan will even cover the ferry ride if we need to travel to see someone.

I know our medical system is not perfect, and I’m still not a big fan of western doctors, but …