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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.


by Jan

Facebook reminded me that four years ago, I tried to get into a book club and was told to bring my resumé to find out if I was worthy of membership. They “needed” to know what university I graduated from, and what profession I was in.

Yeah… I’ve been kicked out of better places!

I’m still not a member of a book club but, it doesn’t seem as important to me now.

I continue to read to my hearts content; a good book is one of life’s finest pleasures.

Sadly, it is just as easy to get sucked into poorly written books as well. I just finished one of the dumbest books ever. It’s what Sandie would call a “stupid girl book”. Pure twaddle.

So, I decided I’m not going to fall for such nonsense again. I asked for book recommendations from friends I admire. I also found a fantastic book of books, at the library. 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die!  By James Mustich.

I’ve been perusing the pages the past few weeks and writing down suggestions that sound good to me.

I’m a bit chuffed that I’ve already read a number of these “must” reads. I also know there are more than a few on his list that I will never pick up.

Still, I took quite a list from my friends, and this book. I will now do my best to tackle it!

At the library yesterday, I picked up Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. One is audio and the other hard cover. One I’ve heard about, and the other, I’ve not.

I admit to staying up very late last night reading Tyler’s book, and I sewed for several hours listening to Paton’s.

There’s a reason theses books are on a “must” read list.

I’m saying good riddance to the likes of When We Were Young by Karen Kingsbury and other bullshit stories.

Book club or no; I’m grateful to be able to read to my hearts content.


by Jan

My mother-in-law, Tomi was on my mind yesterday. It was the seven year anniversary of her death. One of the many things I remember about her, was she talked about shopping as “trading.”

She would say, I like to trade with so and so, or I won’t trade with them because… what ever. She didn’t buy from or shop at, she traded.

In Sechelt, it is common for people to knock on your door offering everything from jesus, to fish, moss removal and yard work. We turn down jesus, but usually say yes to fish.

In the last four years we’ve traded with three different men on a somewhat regular basis. I will say, we don’t know any of them very well. Still, these trades include a good amount of trust between all of us. And, two of these relationships came from cold calls on our door.

A native man knocks on our door several times a year. He sells fish out of his car. We don’t ask where or how he gets the fish. If it looks good to us, (and it usually does) we buy some. Yesterday, he came around with some smoked salmon. He had a cooler full. Said to pick what I liked, and he’d make a deal.

I did and he did. I trust it will be tasty, it usually is.

The second guy sells firewood. First impressions, are not the greatest. Yet, he looks you straight in the eye,and  with a toothless grin, will he shake your hand, and promises he will deliver what you ask for. It’s the kind of exchange where both of us, really hope the other comes through.

It’s common for people here to grumble about cords of wood being short or crappy. No shows are common as well, yet Steve has been our go to wood guy over the year. He usually comes through when he says he will… not always, but often enough that we keep his number. He has delivered two-thirds of our deal so far. I trust he will finish.

And, while we see the fish guy and wood guy  a few times a year, we trade with our massage guy much more often.

We were the ones who knocked on his door, we heard he had good hands. We pay up front, have regular appointments set, and as up close, and persona,l as massage can be, Patrick knows more about us, than we do about him. We really trust him.

These three members of our community are all so very different from each other and from us and I’m grateful for the common thread of, that someone opened the door, and we all trust the trade


by Jan

“If you wish for random serendipity, happenstance, or accident… avoid design by all means.” —Robert Peters

Do you hear the bell of enlightenment ringing in my sewing room?


Now, I see a direct line between the process I use, and the product I create!

I’m not sure I’ll change anything, but this does explain a lot.

I’ll admit to a tad of frustration, when I cut up beautiful fabric, sew it back together again, and then… decide I really should cut it all up again.

While I absolutely love the random serendipity of what I do, my quilts are a direct result of happenstance and accident!

The few times I have planned or designed a quilt, I was bored by the process, and wanted to get on with it — yet those particular quilts, turned out pretty spectacular.

Go figure!

So, I’m learning.

Apparently, a little planning and design would go a long way in solving some of my happy accidents. Still, I think I will always cherish a quilt full of happenstance!

Quit laughing Ken!


by Jan

Err on the side of generosity, is a lesson I learned from the company I keep.

There are a million myths, legends and fables about putting what you want in the world and it will come back to you ten fold, etc. But, you don’t do nice, to get nice. You do nice to be nice.

Being generous is not a law, that guarantees a positive outcome.

Believing in something — doesn’t make it true, and I try not to hold beliefs systems. I will joke about karma, but I don’t “believe” in it.

What I know is — there are super nice and extremely generous people in the world, and I want to be in their ranks, just because.

Years ago, I remember being all antsy, standing in a line, and Ken told the guy behind us to go ahead of us.

Really? Couldn’t Ken see I was impatient. Of course he did and then asked, “Where do you have to be? What do you have to do?” We had all day and that guy was on his lunch hour.

It was one of the first times, I realized I had enough in life. All of our needs were met. We could not only share what we had, we could out right give. That day we gave some time.

I wanted to use the word highfalutin, today, but it didn’t fit, so I won’t… What I want to say is yesterday, I was able to stand in the company of a generous crowd and it felt great.

A few packages I mailed out last week, arrived in different locations, and made people smile.

At the same time, a surprise package filled with colourful fabric and yummy chocolates arrived at our house. Not only did I smile; my heart exploded. THEN, I received a financial gift to split with the food bank and fabric store, that was beyond generous!

At first I thought, give a little, get a lot. But, that’s not what happened.

What happened is some wonderful friends were generous and kind, just because!

I aspire to stand in their ranks!


by Jan

Remember how Marty Stuart opened his TV show way back when?

“Somebody say howdy to me!”

I’ve noticed lately, that there is a particular age group, that seems to have no interest in saying howdy to anybody.

When I’m out and about, and cross paths with other people, I say hi or nod my head.

Sometimes, men won’t acknowledge me until I say hi first.
Kids have to say hi to me first, and people who are closer to my age, just offer up a greeting, easy peasy. Older folks will usually stop to chat.

But, young adults, walk by with heads down. Most never look up. They may answer a hello, but rarely offer one. Worse if they are in a group, or even two walking together. Nothing.

I’m not talking about walking by on a crowded or busy street. I noticed the same is true on a hiking trail. I’ve actually had young 20 somethings, walk right past me in the bush without so much as a nod or tip of the hat.

When Ken had surgery, at UBC hospital this month, we spent several nights at The Carey Centre. This was a dorm like place on campus; about a 15 – 20 minute walk to the hospital.

I walked through the heart of the UBC campus, sometimes four times a day, while we were there.

On those walks, I noticed, no one ever said hello to me.

No one even caught my eye. I was looking too, because most of the time, it was me who had to jump out of the way, or be bumped into. Student had their heads down, ear buds in, and eyes on their phone.

Okay, fair enough, no need to give a hello to an older lady on campus, in big the city. But the super weird part was, I noticed, no one was talking to anyone else either. People walked solo and in silence.

Literally, I passed hundreds of students each day. I never saw anyone in conversation. I watched them walk to or from the bus, and to and from a class en mass, all by themselves.

I wondered how anyone would be making the life long college friends, you hear about. I even walked through the student union, the campus Starbucks and the pizza joint.


Students were sitting at tables, or standing in lines alone. Most stared at their screens or read while eating or drinking. The background noise in these places, was a coffee grinder, not conversations.

It was weird.

I am a person who says hello. At times, I’ll stop and chat. I definitely, pet other peoples dogs, and usually comment on the weather.

I also watch young adults walk by.

When I say hello, I notice their surprise. Sometimes I’ll get a greeting returned, more often I do not.

It’s weird.


by Jan

Let me tell you about our day yesterday.

As usual I woke early, fed the hummingbirds, had some coffee, checked in with some friends, read a bit.

Ken woke up, made a fire, did his morning thing, and then we got in the car.

Ken drove.

We stopped at an estate sale in Wilson Creek. Picked stuff up and put it all back down again.

Drove out to Roberts Creek, and had breakfast at the Gumboot. It was good.

On our way home, we stopped at the library. We both got something new to read.

At home, I spent time in the sewing room, and made a few shopping bags.

Ken worked on his model boat, and did some work for the woodworkers guild, that he’s on the board for.

We took a few breaks from out projects, throughout the day for a hug, and to check in with each other. We pointed out the window at something pretty, and told the other a funny story.

In the afternoon, I walked to town. Ken called in an order at the Chinese takeout place.

We met there, drove home and ate.

In the evening, we watched TV, brought in the hummingbird feeder, and went to bed at our regular early time. We both read a little, then called it a day.

A normal day!
A normal day!
It was a normal day at the Parker household!

Can you hear me singing!


by Jan

When we had a cat, we never had bird feeders. It didn’t seem fair to attract birds close to the house, just so a pounce ready puddy, could get his mitts on it.

We wouldn’t have a bird feeder, we’d have a cat feeder. So, nope.

Then, we moved to Sechelt and our front deck had the perfect place for a hummingbird feeder.

We love living here, and my only regret about the move, was that dear sweet Peet didn’t handle it well. He was old, and had to stayed inside. He died only three months after we got here.

Alas, we hung a bird feeder, and have enjoyed the hummers ever since.

Dealing with the hummingbird food has been one of Ken’s chores over the years. I didn’t think much about it. I just enjoyed watching the little birds, zoom zoom around, showing off their huge personalities.

This year, the chore fell to me.

The variety of hummers we have, don’t migrate. They stay in the area year round.

We have become a regular food stop, in their routine now, and with all the snow and cold this winter, I realized fairly quickly, they can’t eat frozen food! (Go figure!)

So, last thing at night, and first thing in the morning, I deal with bird food.

I bring in the feeder, so the sweet food doesn’t freeze over night, and I put it back out in the morning, as the birds are up at the crack of dawn, and ready for their breakfast.

This morning, I could have slept in a bit longer, but I remembered the birds and got up.

They were waiting for me!

I hung the food, and before I even got back in the house, one of them had buzzed me. I’m not sure if it was scolding me for being late, or thanking me for the grub.

It’s been a while living without a doggy or pussy cat, but it seems we still have pet responsibilities.


by Jan

I will say that over the last 35 some years, Ken and I have asked each other at least once a day, if there was anything we can do for the other. It’s nice.

Most of the time, the answer is no. Once in a while, the answer is yes, and a particular chore that the other can’t or doesn’t want to do, is brought up.

As you know, lately though I have been chief cook and bottle washer in the house. I’m doing all the chores while Ken is healing.

I don’t mind. It has been necessary.

I also remember a time many years ago, that Ken was the one who did everything, when I was learning to walk again, including holding me up in the shower. He didn’t mind then either, after all it was necessary.

Now, because he is making such good progress, we’re at a point where Ken can start doing things on his own.

Slowly though. He doesn’t need to rush into what the doctor called, “normal activity”. But, he does need to start doing a little bit here and a little bit there. And I need to learn to “let” him. Building wellness the next right thing.

He started his morning downstairs yesterday! He built a fire and had his coffee in his chair, just like old times. It was lovely. At one point, I asked him if he wanted another cuppa. He said, he could get it.

I went back up stairs and then bought the coffee pot back down with me.

There is doing stuff for each other because it is necessary, and there is doing stuff for each other because it is nice.

I’m happy to report, being nice is getting priority again!


by Jan

Okay Google – What is that poem that goes, something like…
This is how I’ve spent my morning. I’ve been looking through the inter-web for a particular poem about time. I can’t find it and the Google isn’t helping me.

It’s the poem or saying that says something like:
Time passes quickly when we kiss, and moves slowly when we grieve.

You know… do something fun, that you enjoy, and… ZOOM…. all of a sudden, it’s the next day. Struggle and sweat the small stuff and oh my gawd, can this day get any longer!

I speak for the royal we, when I say, Ken and I continue to have no sense of time.

I know, from the years I’ve spent in recovery, and from the 10,000 lessons I’ve taken and taught, that we can only measure our progress, by looking back.

We move forward by doing the next right thing.

On a daily basis, Ken and I need to remind ourselves, we are right on schedule.

Was it really only two weeks ago, that Ken, Cathy and I drove up to Madeira Park, and Ken got the call of a cancellation, and his surgery date was moved up by a month!

Two weeks ago, to this day, I was driving with raised shoulders, as close as I could get, to the back side of a snow plough, all the way to the ferry. I then drove all though Vancouver, and we checked in to Carey Centre at UBC!

Only two weeks ago!

I know Ken gets frustrated and is itchy to “get back at it” and I’m itchy for him as well. But, time and healing cannot be rushed.

What we can do is create the right environment for healing to happen. We continue to do the next right thing, and when there is frustration, we look back.

We are able to see how much progress has been made. We remind ourselves, time is passing,  slowly it seems, but surely.

The surgery was a success!
Cathy is long gone!
Ken is no longer on medications for pain!
He’s wearing pants! (that he put on by himself!)
My radar has been lowered.
I am sleeping without fear, in fact, we are both sleeping!
Huge progress!

The doctors said not to resume “normal” activity for 6 to 8 weeks, with no heavy lifting for at least two weeks. (They didn’t know that in those two weeks we would get 10 inches of snow, and need butt loads of firewood hauled in.)

It won’t be long now, and we will be dealing with some other drama, trauma, joy or celebration.

Progress has been made. Recovery is happening. Time is moving on. We are on the right side of healing.

I’m very proud of Ken and his strength, courage and attitude throughout this. I’m pretty proud of myself as well.

I’m just confused on the whole, what day is it, thing!


by Jan

There is a lot of snow in Sechelt right now.

The weather is only one reason we haven’t been out of the house since we came home from Ken’s surgery last week.

We have enough food in the freezer and pantry to survive a bit longer, but I’d really like to get out to the library soon!

I need a new read!

Not long ago, our library had a special day where the staff members wrapped up a book in plain brown paper and challenged us to not judge a book by the cover.

I chose a medium size book, recommened by Jeanette, and unwrapped it at home.

Neverhome by Laird Hunt.

The first sentence of this book is:
I was strong and he was not so it was me went to war to defend the Republic. I stepped across the border out of Indiana into Ohio.

Neverhome is the story of a woman, who hid her identity, left a loving husband, and their working farm, to be a solider and fight in the Civil War.

I do not like war stories of any kind, and this was a rough one. There is no glory or goodness in war. It doesn’t matter how tough you are. War is hell. And the after math and scars left from war can be worse.

The story is told by Constance, who went by the name of Gallant Ash. She tells her story plainly and truthfully. The prose of the book was matter of fact, filled with the horror and cruelty that is war.

Through out the book, I wondered again and again… why? Why does any one go to war? Why, would a woman leave her life for war? Why would anyone? Why are people so mean?

Nevertheless, Neverhome was a good read.

I never would have chosen this book my own. I appreciate our library for their creativity in finding a way for me to read something out of my comfort zone. Neverhome will stick with me for a while.

BTW – Ken’s surgeon called to check on Ken yesterday. He had the pathology report as well. While we didn’t think there would be, it is nice to have confirmation that there is no cancer in our boy! Ken is doing well, and while we used to be interesting people – our constant talk of pee and poop continues.

Ken is making good progress every day now. It is nice to be on this side of wellness. It won’t be long now before he is back to his old, healthy, and wonderful self.