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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.

notroutine

by Jan

Most days when I wake up, I spend time in what Ken calls “the simmering spot.” I don’t jump out out of bed. I lie there for quite a while. I listen to the birds, look out the window, and think of the day ahead.

The first thing I do, is figure out what day it is.

I’ll talk to myself (for example), and say, it’s Monday – get the recycle out. Or, it’s Thursday – Patti comes and today is fitness class.

Being retired without a schedule, it is easy for me to spend the entire day at the sewing machine, unless I remember other life events.

I’m not saying my life is boring – I’m saying I thrive on boredom, and need to remind myself that there are particular things to do on any given day.

For example — today is Friday.
First thing on the list is to remember, it is garbage pick up day. So we need to get the weeks trash out to the curb. Friday is also the day Boze gets her weekly medication, so we don’t have to re-name her Princess Pee Pants.

I usually swim on Fridays as well, and the weekly paper comes. Friday is a big day!

Today however, we are doing something out of the norm.

I have a suitcase packed, and we’re taking the ferry to the big city for the night.

Tomorrow morning, Ken will drop me at the airport and I’ll travel to Vegas, via San Francisco to see Art again.

Art is having surgery on Monday and I’m hoping I can help. I admit to being nervous so, I am doing my best to stay present and will focus on doing the next right thing.

I can let my imagination get a little carried away and that is no good for anyone, especially me!

So — first things first, and easy does it.

Today is Friday – garbage day, and Boze gets her pill.

talkingtomyself

by Jan

One thing I like most about swimming is the true meditative quality it offers.

Wearing the full face snorkel gives me a certain amount of anonymity. Talking to others is hard. Plus by wearing it, it looks like I’m at the pool for business and not socializing.

I get in the pool and swim, I talk only to myself. Okay, when I leave, I say- Good-bye to Andrew, the guy who works the front desk.

I’m still not a great swimmer, but it is becoming more enjoyable, or should I say more satisfying.

When I get out of the pool, I am usually bone tired and I realize, I really love that feeling.

I recover from the swim fairly quickly, as far as getting my heart rate back to normal, this bone tiredness is different. It takes me some time to get moving again. When I finish swimming, I am wasted and totally pooped out. Jenny said, I’m building endurance.

I started swimming in January. So far, I’ve been consistent in showing up three times each week.

I find when I first get in the pool, I spend a lot of mental energy worried that someone else will get in “my” lane. It’s silly. I scold myself for wasting the time I am alone. I don’t like sharing, but usually have to at some point in the swim. I only stop worrying it might happen, when it finally happens. Then… I settle in.

Ken helped me solve my stress of swimming with others. He gave me the advice that boating people us.

Stay your speed and course!

There are times, I liken lap swimming to driving a car, on a highway. Some folks want to pass and change lanes at every chance, they speed up or slow down, willy-nilly. Some people tailgate, and of course there are the super slow pokes, who still won’t let you around, and you just want to honk at them.

Now, while I’m not the slowest swimmer out there, I do fall into the slow poke category. I may be slow, but I’m steady — no one needs to honk!

Sharing a lane is easy when everyone stays on course, and maintains whatever speed they are going. I now know how to pass a fellow swimmer, just as I know what to do when being passed. Being consistent is key.

The meditative quality of swimming, is a bit of a by-product of the sport and not one I was looking for. Having awareness of breath, counting lengths, (which is not as easy as it sounds) and staying as relaxed as possible with each stroke I take, takes me deep inside myself.

The full face snorkel is a bit of an echo chamber — I hear every sound I make. My breath is loud.

With Tai Chi, I was encouraged to have a more of a soundless breath. Specific breath practices aside, hearing ones own breath was rare. Except, of course when Jim, Art or Ed had me in a crunch, then everyone could hear my gasps.

With swimming, I make a lot of noise with my breath. I don’t hear or listen to much of anything else. I’m glad I keep my head down and covered, so outside sounds are muffled. I am left to listen to myself. I don’t hear the music, conversations, or screaming children that are also at the pool.

Counting lengths keeps me on track and present too. I say a number to myself, at the end of every 25 metres. Sometimes I lose count, so I alwasy swim two extra lengths, just for good measure.

I’m now able to swim 66 lengths on a regular basis. I set the bar low for 40, and feel like a super hero when I surpass it. Sixty-six lengths is a mile at our pool — my best time is 57 minutes.

Swimming is still weird for me. I carry “pool baggage” being a Hudson after all. Yet, I am starting to like it.

There have been some interesting adventures so far. Like sneezing with the snorkel on, or the time I got a nose bleed and didn’t realize my face was covered with blood until I took a break. (Don’t worry, I didn’t contaminate the pool)

When I swim, I always give a mental nod to friends that I know are regular swimmers as well.

They all give me good advice and encouragement. So, here’s a quick shout out to Jess, Angelo, Marsha, and of course Jenny, who I report to on a regular basis, and proudly call coach.

Swimming pushes me. It’s not technically an internal art, but… yeah, never mind… it totally is.

sinceyouasked

by Jan

Someone asked me what I think of the Facebook drama.
Well, I’ll tell you.

I know very little of the details of trouble that Facebook is in. I don’t watch the news and I do not get my news off FB. I will say, I enjoy Facebook and the chance of me deleting my account is slim.

I think Mark Zuckerberg is a powerful, genius, and never in his wildest dreams, thought FB would be the end all — be all of a zillion peoples lives, yet it seems to be.

I also see how bad guys would want a cut of it; how it could be used for ill purpose. I may be naive, but I do not think Zuckerberg is a bad guy, and I for one — am happy with my interaction on FaceBook.

My friends Samm and Ben Cooper told me years ago, how much I would love Facebook, but it wasn’t until I was visiting Jim and heather in Oregon that I actually got an account.

I was given certain guidelines with the platform, and I’ve taken them to heart. I also made a few “rules” of my own.

First off-

I am only friends with actual real life friends. I do have two “friends” on FB that I’ve never met, and only a handful of acquaintances. So far, they play nice and are interesting.

Right now, I have about 120 friend requests sitting in “purgatory.” I don’t deny a request – I ignore it — by doing so, I make the person sending the request impotent. They have zero access to me when I do this.

I belong to a FB quilting group, and a watercolour painting, and spinning group. These are great places to get ideas and inspiration. I mostly lurk. I also belong to a Sechelt buy and sell group, and one that gives latest info of what’s happening on the coast. I don’t play games on FB and don’t take surveys.

I’m also glad FB has a delete button and I use it often.

I am not very open minded on FB. If you’re an asshole, I delete you. If you are racist or mean, I delete you. The only exception I have is with one cousin. Mostly I shake my head  at his posts, and wonder how he got so mean. I do interact if he posts a photo of food, or talks of his vacation with his wife. (I keep it shallow.)

Actually, I keep all of FB as shallow as possible. I do my best not get into heavy discussions or debates – I like it fun. And because, I only have good friends in my feed, I am rarely shown the anonymous cruelty, the inter-web is famous for. I easily scroll past the Jesus loves me posts, as well as, those with animal cruelty or “super cute” children. Political, and environmental posts are harder to stay out of, but I try.

Facebook makes it possible for me to stay in touch with friends who live all around the world. I love it. I love to seeing photos, and knowing the goings on of what my friends and their dogs are doing. I’m in touch with PAWMA friends, high school classmates, tai chi classmates and students. FB helps me stay in touch with friends I love, yet rarely see.

Facebook made it possible for me to meet my step-brother John for the first time ever. He’s since deleted his account, and now we have no interaction — I miss him, but take comfort in knowing, he knows where I am. He can find me if he wants to.

I’ve said it a million times, I keep FB fun and shallow. Contest time is loads of fun for me. Posting photos of thechurchoftheholysunrise, TBT photos of the Hudson kids, and showing public gratitude for my husband, sobriety and memories is just plain nice.

Anything posted on the inter-web is public and “they” do know all about me. Leaving FB won’t change that if I continue to use the inter-web. For example, I googled a recipe for lemon squares, and in no time at all, ads started popping up for all types of kitchen goodies and diet plans. I looked into airplane tickets to visit Art, and am inundated with ads for Vegas and shows. I post something about swimming and I know where bathing suit are on sale.

I get it. There are no secrets, and with that knowledge – I’m staying on FB.

I hope my friends do too – I’d miss them if they left. I’d understand and could/would resort to writing old school letters or using the telephone, rather than lose touch.

Another good thing about Facebook being public, is I can say #trumpyoufucker and not a care a hoot who knows my view.

Adayatcamp

by Jan

They say the happiest place in the world is Disneyland. I disagree — my happy place is at camp with a great instructor!

Ken and I just returned from a workshop, or what I call, day camp. We had a ball.

I’ve been to a million workshops. I’ve taught a few as well. Being able to spend hours in a learning mindset with great guidance is well… just the best.

“Diving into Watercolours” with the fabulous Jess Rice, was as they say, “All that and a bag of chips!”

I don’t think anyone paid attention to the date of the workshop when it was announced. I can tell you, we were not exactly thrilled when we discovered we’d be traveling with BC Ferries on a holiday weekend — and yet… we had some of the best ferry luck possible. Besides making the boats we’d hoped for – we were treated to Orcas, playing along side the ferry on the way home.

Our doggy Boze, had a day camp experience as well, staying with Auntie Sarah and MayLynn. I know she was immersed into some long walks, snuggles and special attention as well. She is a lucky puppy, and we are lucky that she has a great place to stay, when we take off on our own adventures.

In true Jan Parker fashion, we stayed the night before the workshop at the teachers house! We were treated to good food and conversation, as well as a lovely walk along the boardwalk in White Rock. What a busy and growing place that is.

Spending time with Jess and his partner Angelo is more than inspiring. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again — we are lucky in our friends.

Thirteen or 14 people came to the workshop. The skill level was impressive, placing Ken and I as the rank beginners of the crowd. Yet at the end of the day, when all the paintings were hung on the wall for admiration — no one would have guessed!

Below is my second painting. My first is the one second from the right on the top row.

A great instructor makes the years and years of their personal training, lessons and practice look easy and seamless. The are able to share their skill, and meet each student exactly where they are, then push a bit.

Jess is just this type of instructor, and a pleasure to work with. His partner Angelo, is also skilled and was super helpful as well.

They knew just when to remind me to breathe, be bold, or take a break. My ego got so involved at times, that I almost forgot — I was painting flowers; not learning life threatening, rocket surgery.

I have more enthusiasm than talent, when it comes to the joy of painting. Yet, thanks to the years of study, I spent with the martial arts, I do know how to learn!

I know I need lessons, a good instructor, and lots of practice. Toss in a day long workshop, a private lesson or a week at camp, and progress is assured!

I’mlistening

by Jan

It’s book report time.

Today I’m reporting on the audibles I’ve been spending time with.

I like to choose big fat, classic books to listen to. Books I think, most read in college, or high school, but if you are like me… waited until retirement, so I could sit back, and let someone else do the heavy lifting.

I am now quite happy to seek out super big book, with hours and hours of listening pleasure.

The Complete Adventure of Sherlock Holmes was over 80 hours long. I was able to work on several quilts with Sherlock at the helm.

The last two books I gave a listen to, have been super long as well. And they were similar to each other in many ways.

I admit, even after hours and hours of listening, I did not really follow or figure out what either was about.

The first, Kristin Lavansdatter by Sigrid Undset was 45 hours long. I can honestly say, if I saw this at the library, I would give it a big pass, but, for listening, I thought it may be a good one to dig into.

Yeah, not so much.

The story of a Norwegian woman living in the 14th century with relationship conflicts who finds escape in the church.

Really? In a way it reminded me of Little Women. Life while hardly easy, was in many ways so simple. Still, as with most of us, life’s struggles are real. Everyone does their best to figure out, who we are and how we spend our days.

Still, most of the time when I was listening to Kristin Lavansdatter, I was put into a delightful, meditative state by the reader. Yet because of that, I have no idea if this book was interesting or not. Note – do not listen to this book while driving!

Once finished, I turned my attention to the 35.5 hours long, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

Yikes, same thing. Hours and hours and hours of…. relationship drama with the reader doing everything she could not to put me to sleep.

The parts I did enjoy were the debates between brothers, about society. I see how not much has changed politically since Tolstoy wrote this in eighteen seventy something. The same goes for Kristin Lavansdatter in the 14th century. Basically, the rich continue to get richer and the poor continue to have children, and the belief in God, controls and fucks everyone up.

Nevertheless – I persisted. Now I can say, “Yes, I read that.” And also, “No, I really still have no idea what they were about.”

I also listened to the much shorter book, Run, Hide, Repeat by Pauline Dakin, and loved it! This is the crazy true story of a woman raised by a man with an undiagnosed mental illness. Five stars and holy moly!

Now, I’m on to The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. The reader is wonderful and the story is adventurous. This is a great story to have on while sewing.

If I think about it, (which I do) all of these books are basically the same. The difference is in the nouns, and the details of life, and writing styles are different.

As my brother Art says, “Everybody is different.” And I’m grateful I’m me!

sweettalkerBettyCrocker

by Jan

From the above title, you may think this post has to do with cooking — it doesn’t.

I’m in the mood to spring clean. For me that means going through each room, sorting, tossing and re-arranging all or most of our possessions. I leave the actual cleaning to the Crazy Cleaning Lady, Patti!

FYI – we have too much stuff and yet, I need to be in the right mood to let some of it go. After all, I am Alice’s daughter.

Memories get attached to things and even while I know the thing is not the memory —  just holding or looking at the thing again, brings back a flood in my heart.

Two examples come to mind right off the bat.

Once came out of Ken’s closet. A vest he probably bought when we lived in Oregon. I say that because it has a bit of a hippie feel to it. This was Ken’s dress up vest. He wore it to Christmas parties, funerals, and weddings. We even have a formal photo or two with him in it.

I don’t remember the last time he wore it, however. We don’t get dressed up much anymore and if we did, I doubt he’d choose to wear that vest today.

Yesterday, he put it in the donate to the Sally Anne pile. I’m sure my heart tugged at it more than his did.

The other huge “let go” was a bag of cutlery. It was all I could do to NOT to put it back in the keep pile. The memories stormed my heart and I remembered the story.

In 1973 when I graduated from High School, I received only two presents. One, from my brother Art. It was a painting of the Sandia mountains by my friend Jeff Potter. I still have it. The other was from my Grandma Hudson.

For years and years and years, Grandma saved Betty Crocker coupons off cake mix and pudding boxes. When she had a certain amount, she sent them in trade for sets of cutlery for each her grand daughters.


She presented me with a full 8 piece place setting, of the Oneida Chatelaine pattern silverware as a graduation present. As the years went on, she’d gift me different serving utensils of the same style for birthday and Christmas.

Grandma must have she collected a ba-zillion coupons, because I know my cousins June, Karen, Patty, and Nancy were also given full sets.

I used this cutlery everyday until we moved to Sechelt when we bought a new set.

I like matchy matchy. I’m not one for odds and sods with things such as cutlery, dishes, glasses, or even towels in the washroom. The OCD in me likes matching sets.

The ONLY reason we bought new was because after 42 years, of using this cutlery daily, more than a few pieces had gone missing. For some reason we were down to 3 forks, up to 9 spoons, and had only 5 knives. Strangely, we still have all the serving pieces, and I happily continue to use them.

So, as hard it was, three years ago, I put what was left of Grandma’s silver away.

Yesterday, I came across it, and thought maybe, it’s time to let go. But then again…. Maybe not quite yet.

whatadifferenceadaymakes

by Jan

As the world turns… we last left off our hero was… oh wait, that’s a different saga.

Art has Superimposed bilateral neural foraminal posterolateral disc extrusion with cranial migration resulting in severe mass effect  on the passing left 4 and l5 nerve roots AND kidney stones!

My doctor friend Mika, translated the above for me. He said, The disc is pushing out and extending up toward the head (cranial) and pressing on the left sided L4 and 5 nerve roots. This might cause left leg and pelvic pain and maybe some weakness. And Kidney stones.

The good news – Art is home. I don’t know about him, but I feel 2,000 times better.

A lot of the time he spent in hospital was because they needed to match his care with his insurance. Apparently, he has good policy and only had to pay his deductible which will include a home health nurse coming to him for aftercare and physio. Surgery is not off the table.

Thanks Obama!

He’ll get ultra sound for the kidney stones this week.

Art’s good neighbours and friends have been helping and will continue to help as needed. Whew.

My brother is positive and amazing. I admire him to the moon. He continues to inspire me to be a better person, and to have a more positive outlook on life.

Oh, and if anyone is looking, the doctor said Art could sell his blood for a high price to those who need drug testing. Art has never done drugs, smoked and is not a big drinker. So – he’s pretty clean.

I slept really well last night.

worryandwait

by Jan

I’m in a holding pattern right now.

They say the not knowing and the waiting is the worse. I’m not going to say it’s the worse, because there are a lot of things are much worse — but it does suck.

Art’s in hospital. He called Monday and said he was in serious pain. Later that night he went to the hospital where they admitted him.

At first they thought kidney stones, but the latest news is, he has a herinated disc. But, they’re still, doing tests and have given him no real answers. What they have given him is morphine. Fuck!

It is hard to be here and not there. My suitcase is at the ready if I do need to go back to Vegas baby.

After a couple nights in hospital, Art was taken for a MRI yesterday, but the results still aren’t back.

So, he waits. We wait. He said they finally gave him a meal after the MRI – holy moly — he must have been hungry.

My mind goes every where with this and my hearts hurts. I am reminded to stay present. We’re all just waiting do the next right thing.

He did say he when he gets home, he’ll write a song titled Water and Morphine for his next album.

noplacelikehome

by Jan

We’re back from our trip to Vegas!

We brought home about 30 cans of Hatches green chile, and I brought home a stupid cold.

For almost three years, if you don’t all my count head trauma, I’ve been quite healthy. But, this is my third cold since November, and I am not happy about it.

To help, I made a big pot of green chile stew yesterday. Today I’ll throw another can of chile into it, and maybe the heat will blow this crap out of me.

We had a great time with Art. I am so lucky to have this relationship with him. Art and I were close as children, then hell broke loose in the family, and we went our own way for survival. Now, we are close again, and my heart is so very grateful.

Art treated us like kings while we were there. He planned each day, bought all the meals, took us on the HighRoller Ferris wheel, where we could see the city from high up. He booked us a night in the Hard Rock Hotel on our last night, both so we could be near the airport in the morning for our flight home, and so we could taste the thrill of Vegas.

Now, the thrill of Vegas is not my kind of thrill, but we played a little as well as gawked at the sights, like the small town bumpkins we are. In the end — we came home with $100. US – about what we went in with, so I’m calling it good. It’s true, when you start winning, it is easy to say…. one more. Being cheap makes it easier to stop!

We took a day trip out to Hoover Dam. What an incredible place. To think all that was built with before computers — amazing.

One reason I may have come home sick, is Art had the same policy our Grandma had when we were kids. We could do anything we wanted at Grandma’s house. The same went for Art’s house. The answer was always Yes no matter what you asked! So, instead of being smart — we ate ice cream at Dairy Quees before lunch of pizza and tacos. We acted like fast food joints and smoked filled casinos were good for us. It’s a good thing we don’t drink booze. Silly, I know.

Art bought a beautiful home, in a retirement community on the east side of Vegas. It took a lot of courage for him to leave New Mexico and move. He didn’t know anyone in Vegas, and basically started a fresh life.

We spent most of our time in his home. We listened to music, watching sports on TV and laughed our asses off. If you’ve ever met my brother, you know he is a friggen riot, and will entertain and tell a story like no one else I know. It was fun. We laughed a lot!

We saw some amazing sights in Vegas, both good and odd, we did things we would never do on our own and saw things not meant for healthy eyes. For example, we went to Wal-Mart, and passed by the “drive through prayer tent” in a parking lot, we did not go to the gun show that was advertised.

Sometimes, you have to do strange things and go to different places to get confirmation, that Ken and I made a good choice for how and where we live. It is good to know that Art has made a good choice for how and where he lives.

brotherlylove

by Jan

Ken and I are going to Vegas Baby! We are going to visit my brother Art, in his new home.

It will be a fast easy peasy in and out trip.

We already have tickets to attend the potato and salad dinner at the community centre in Art’s housing complex. (I hear they may have karaoke).  Art also promises to take us sight seeing, including Hoover Dam. We are not big casino people, so passing on them will be easy.

I know we will eat well, sing a lot, play name that tune, and we will laugh. We will laugh a lot.

Then hopefully, get home before anyone pulls a gun.

I admit to being nervous in going.

First off – I prefer road trips in the van, to flying the friendly skies. And I’m not a big fan of crossing the border into a country where there is a fucker in the white house.

All that will be put aside though, because I can’t wait to see Art and his new digs!

I’m so lucky to have him in my life. I know he will do everything possible to make sure Ken and I have a fantastic trip.

The biggest challenge has been to know when it’s safe to buy the Hawkins Cheezzies we want to take to Art for a present.

They were on sale last week, but we peaked early. I bought a few bags, and we ate them, watching the Olympics.

It was then suggested to me by a good friend, that we buy them at the airport, and put them in checked luggage if we really want Art to get them.

We’ll be home before we know it.

Please send thoughts and prayers.