by Jan

Years ago, I read a book titled Her Wits about Her: Self-Defense Success Stories by Women. Edited by Denlse Calgnon and Gail Groves.

What I remember most about the book was, there were some stories where — a woman went about her day and NOTHING happened!

The title of the book reminded me, that these were SUCCESS stories!

The point of learning and practicing self defense is so nothing happens and we all get home safely.

Of course, there were also stories in the book of women who fought an attacker, some who were hurt and some were raped.

All who shared their story survived.
Huge success!

We are living in a crazy and scary time right now.

Let’s keep our wits about us. Let’s practice good self (and community) defense, and do the next right thing.


by Jan

In the end of the year review that I write each year — there is one question that I already have the 2020 answer to and we’ve only hit February!

The question is, what’s the best thing you bought this year?

My answer — cleat clips for my hiking boots!

These are rubber strappy things with metal studs, that get stretched around boots, making walking on icy roads and trails possible without doing the penguin waddle!

I tried them out yesterday for the first time and they work like a hot dam! The confidence they provided as I didn’t skate, shuffle, or fall across the parking lot, to trail head was worth the $19. price tag alone!

Climbing up one of the snowy trails was delightful. There was one less thing to worry about on my romp. The other bonus of these clips was the noise they made when I hiked. Click, click, click… No bear or courage could say they didn’t hear me coming. The sound was better than my singing voice and took less energy.

Yesterday’s romp had it all. Ice, snow, water, mud, and sun. MuMu and I had a great time, and when the sun came out, it started to melt the snow in the trees, for postcard beauty!

The one problem with the boot clips was…  I didn’t notice the sound change until I was about 3 km into my hike and looked down to see one of the strappy things had popped off.

Dang it!

I had just been telling myself how cool these cleats were and now, I’d lost one.

I turned around. I was willing to back track with hope I could find it.

Now, usually when I’m in the woods, I watch my step, but I also make sure to look up and enjoy the view. Now, I was on a mission. My head down and my eyes scanning the ground.

The foot prints I left gave me a clue. One had pokey marks, the other was a regular boot print. However, there was also a lot of water on the trail, and soggy mud mixed with ice. The clip thingies are black and could be hard to see on the forest floor.

One km back I found it! Yay!

It must have come off when I jumped over a big mud puddle.

I’m not changing my mind though. These cleats thingies, that keep me on my feet, will go down as the best thing I bought in 2020. Especially if I can keep them on my feet!



by Jan

I just read a book about a book! What’s not to love?

The Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon was a favourite read of a man I met once, and whose daughter in law, is my forever friend.

I listened to this book while cutting up and sewing together bright Hawaiian batiks that were given to me by another forever friend.

During this past week, I felt creative and smart.

Creative by working with pretty fabric, and smart by listening to this story. The Shadow of the Wind is not a beach book.

An epic story set in 1945, Barcelona. Daniel, the bookseller’s son, is introduced to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, on the day he says he cannot remember his mothers face.

Tasked with choosing one book that has special meaning to the boy, Daniel makes his selection from the labyrinth to take home and care for. In doing so, he finds himself involved in a life long adventure and mystery. The book he selected was written by a man named Julian Carax, and very well may be the last book in existence by Carax. Someone has been finding the Carax works and destroying them.

Both the story and the quilt, are packed with twists and turns.

This book is full of violence, ripping and gripping. It also has intrigue, love, resolution, and history. Strangely enough, the quilt I’m working on, has taken on the same qualities.

Unlike the book, I’m not yet sure how this quilt will wrap up… yet.

My review of the book is a big five big stars. I light a candle for Eddie in memory, and I send gratitude and love, to my forever friends, Jenny and Sandie.


by Jan

The first time Ken took me to visit his family ranch in South Dakota, we drove from our home in Colorado Springs. I love a road trip, and am usually quite happy to spend hours in a car. The Parker ranch was just north of Valentine, Nebraska, so the trip took us through miles and miles of sand hills.

I remember saying to Ken, “This is pretty, but enough is enough.” I’m not a prairie girl. I love a long view, but apparently I also prefer something to break it up — like a mountain or tree!

Finally, Ken turned down a dirt road and I got excited. I began to put my coat on in anticipation of seeing the house he grew up in. Ken looked at me, smiled, and shook his head and said, “Not yet.

I wondered, how far down a dirt road can a family live?

I thought of this yesterday, as MuMu and I were hiking.

Ken dropped us near the trail head, it was a beautiful day, and we were off. It wasn’t long before, we started to climb.

I knew we’d be climbing when we started. My friend and hiking guru, Becky says, you gotta climb to see the views! Besides most of the hikes around Sechelt go, up!

We were still climbing four kilometres in, when we finally took a break.

As MuMu and I sat on the ground, catching our breath, I laughed and thought about that dirt road in South Dakota… and I wondered how far up can a trail really go?


by Jan

I use this bloggy thing as a private/public diary where I practice writing skills and at times sort my thoughts. This post is an example of thinking out loud.

When I was growing up and in school, I constantly wondered at how some of my classmates knew stuff that I didn’t.

For example, how did Mark Hartshorn, who sat in front of me from grade one on, (because Hartshorn came before Hudson in the seating chart), know about the ACLU? He knew who the leaders were, what it stood for, and could shared other tidbits of information, that I had no clue about.

In my early years I thought, people either knew stuff or they didn’t. I stayed quiet with my ignorance.

Ignorance is today’s word and topic.

The dictionary says, the word ignorance is a noun. A lack of knowledge or information. It can describe a person in a state of being unaware, and can also describe someone who deliberately ignores or disregards information or facts.

Jeepers, how fitting for the life and times we are living today.

It is hard to believe anyone would choose to ignore information, and yet… we do it all the time.

Still, I like to think that I fall on the side of the ignorant person that just doesn’t know… yet.

Both are correct according to the dictionary. But in practice, the difference is huge. One is forgivable and the other appalling.

I think of myself as a lifelong learner, someone who is curious, yet struggles with her brain. I know I am teachable and able to learn. Yet, somethings are harder for me to grasp than others.

Math is an example.

I can add using my fingers, I keep track of the family finances and pay our bills, yet, I draw a complete blank at multiplication and division problems. I cannot imagine figuring out higher maths skills  like, algebra or calculus. I run to Ken for answers when I can’t figure out how to lay out a quilt or if I need to see how many “whatevers” go into how many “something or others.” Please don’t ask me to keep score or add up my dominos on game night.

My struggle with numbers and math is real. I don’t think of myself as lazy and I do try to figure stuff out on my own. My brain will just plain stop working, when I come across certain problems. No amount of explanation can clear the fog. On these occasions, I tend to tear up, and walk away.

I stay ignorant.

Now, I have new information and I have to wonder if I choose not to learn.

Am I staying ignorant on purpose? Do I struggle because I can’t learn, as my brain fogs up, or do I not want to learn because it is hard, and I’m okay with this shadow?


I know today, Mark Hartshorn knew stuff I didn’t, because his home life was different from mine. His parents probably read to him or they discussed stuff at the dinner table. That didn’t happen in our home. Growing up, I was told I was stupid and I believed it.

I was a mature adult before I was able to see myself as smart. And to this day, when anyone shines or shits, on my intelligence, I get emotional and tear up.

Perhaps, I fall too easy on the side of can’t. Maybe it is more comfortable for me to think, I can’t learn math. Have I really made up my mind and decided that I won’t?

The opposite of ignorance according to the dictionary is education and awareness. Perhaps, as we are seeing in Washington these days, ignorance is also a decision we can get trapped in.

I’ve a lot to think about today.


by Jan

Okay, okay, okay. I know it is -45 in Whitehorse! I know the weather we are having is nothing for the hardy folks of Ontario. But, for us… the weather we are having is a big deal!

Ken and I just spent two extra days in Vancouver, so as NOT to drive in the winter shit storm we are experiencing. And honestly, having people in the north and east telling us to get over it, is not helpful.

We went to town for a scheduled “look see” for Ken. It was to be an easy in and out. Instead, our shoulders were up around our ears, and even though we have good winter tires, and a reliable car, we stayed put as we watched the temp drop and the snow fall.

Oh, we could have come home earlier. I could have driven in the snow, freezing temperatures and icy roads at night… but… NO.

The older we get, the faster we learn – it is better to hit the “easy button” when dealing with stressful situations. Doing the next right thing for us, was spending money and staying put in a nice hotel for another night.

We came home when a weather window opened for easier travel. Better safe than dead is my motto!

Sure, years ago when we lived in Colorado, this kind of weather excited us. Get out the skis! We were happy to head into the thick of it. Let me break it to you now – those days are over for us.

While, I don’t feel the need to travel to super warm or tropical places each winter – I also don’t feel the need to be outside dealing with this crap!

Snow and cold on the coast is not our usual weather! Folks here don’t have the equipment, budget or experience to deal with this kind of weather. The right thing to do is close the schools and shops and to stay home! Saying, “hell to the no!” for driving in this, is the next right thing to do here!

So back off, you hardy people of Alberta, Ontario and Yukon! Yes, Canada is cold in the winter, and we love it here. AND, we moved to the coast because it is the best weather Canada offers, even at minus 6 and snowing .

So – quit laughing at us! We are safe and home. This is our version of snowmageddon and as soon as we get out of bed — we will rebuild.


by Jan

Looking for things to do each day has never been a challenge.

However, when I read about a local group, who are trying to help the critters of Australia.  I knew I could participate.

Some locals are heading down under and offered to take supplies. So a call was put out for crafty people to make, from specific patterns, blankets, wraps and pouches for kangaroos, bats, and koalas, that are hurt or suffering.

I have fabric and at times can read instructions — so I made a dozen bat wraps, and a few kangaroo pouches yesterday. I delivered them last night to a woman organizing all this in Sechelt.

She told she is blown away by the generous spirit of people on the coast wanting to help.

People are knitting, sewing and writing cheques. Others are organizing this help and getting the help to the appropriate places in Australia.

Then, I read in the news this morning, the people down under are asking people to STOP sending stuff! That most of it is being thrown away. There are not enough people to handle it all. The help is no help, and is being wasted.

Then I see a photo of a dozen baby kangaroos, all snuggled into little pouches that were made by well meaning people like myself. I see photos of sweet little bats all wrapped up in calico, and koalas wearing knitted mitts protecting their burns paws.

Stop – Don’t stop! Help – but not like that — like this. We need more of this and less of that.

Send money. Send money. Send money. But… NOT to them, to these other guys!

The back and forth of what to do and what not to do is overwhelming. And Sechelt is only one small community of people wanting to help. I think the crafty people of Toronto and Paris are also wanting to do what they can.

I cannot imagine the chaos of actually being in Australia right now. I know people and animals need help and money and, and, and, and.

I thought in a small way that I could help. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.

I do know folks from this coast are going to Australia at the end of next week. They are taking with them not only money, but wraps, blankets, mitts and pouches. All made with love by well meaning people. I hope nothing is for nothing.

Really, we’re just walking each other home.


by Jan

I first wrote about this in October of 2012.
Now, I’m rewriting it, and trying to join the past with today. Forgive me as I bounce around.

In the summer of 2012, my high school friend Jeff came to visit us on Bowen Island with his wife, and their three dogs.

While I am crafty, Jeff Potter was an artist and I was in awe.

We spent one afternoon together at Tunstall Bay.
Jeff wanted to paint, and I wanted to watch his process.
His paint box was packed neatly in a backpack. We sat on the rocks, chatted and he created.

Jeff had a blank canvas, a few brushes, and some tubes of paint. In a mere three hours, he had a painting that captured the day we shared.

It was incredible to watch.

As Jeff painted, I marvelled at his eye-hand coordination, skill and passion. He credited art school, interest, training, and of course a lot of practice.

It was pure delight, to watch someone do what they do so well.

Today, after a long journey, that painting was delivered to our house.

Tragically, Jeff died in 2015 of a Glioblastoma Multiforme, a brain cancer.

His wife Debby, wrote recently to say she was ready to let go of this particular painting, and she gave it to me.

I miss my friend. I think of him often. I’m grateful to Debby for this gift. For me, it’s much more than a work of art. This particular painting is a joyful memory of a fine day, spent with a good friend.

And, while I’m thrilled it now hangs in our home, I will say it has hung in my heart since that day on the beach, when I watched Jeff create it.

PS… fuckcancer


by Jan

Happy New Year!

I woke knowing I would start on my resolution to get a new hike in today. It was a beautiful, blue sky day in Sechelt. I was glad it wasn’t raining.

Ken calls me a homing pigeon, because sometimes I ask him to drive me to a trail head. After he drops me off, I’ll find my way home. That’s how the first hike of the 2020 started for me!

I need to build up bit of courage for these new hikes, and wanted to start easy.

Ken drove me to Halfmoon Bay, and dropped me at the Big Tree parking lot. There were a surprising number of cars there, and yet, I saw only two people on the trail.

I started off with a trail map and a good idea of where MuMu and I would come out. The first part of this hike was a new area for me, yet I knew at some point, I would be on more familiar ground. I set the Samsung Health App for two hours and took off.

Less than 5 minutes in, I came upon a lake where the trail used to be. MuMu splashed right through the middle and she was in deep. I hugged the edge, and had to bushwhack a bit. I was grateful for my waterproof boots. Then we came on another soggy mess, and another and another.

Who cares? Mud washes out, boots dry, dogs get cleaned up sooner or later, and it was  just lovely. The sun was shining, I was alone in the woods with our dog, and enjoyed a romp in a beautiful and soggy, place in the world.

Only one and half km in – I was on a familiar trail. Really? Already?
So, this first hike of 52 I’m counting as new, even though most of it I’ve already explored.

One good part of todays hike, and there were many… it was soggy, but down hill the entire way!

Hike 1 of 52 in 2020 was a success!

MuMu and I started at Big Tree in Halfmoon Bay, found the Duracell trail, then onto 4D, over to Antioch, and then Lee’s Big Easy. We finished the hike on Scatterbones before this pigeon made it home!


by Jan

My niece, Kayleen started this a few years ago, and I have followed — I don’t know if hers is posted  yet. She just had a baby and may be busy. This is her bloggy thing.

I started working on this last month, and could spend more time on it, but here you go. These are my answers. Happy New Year everyone!

The Year in Review in simple question and answer form.

What did you do in 2019 that you’ve never done before?
Hugged a surgeon, toured the Maritimes, and actually lost some weight!

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
In 2019 my motto was, “It’s all about the view.” I like a grand view better than anyone, but it didn’t really set a tone for the year.
I’m making two resolutions in 2020. One is to hike at least 52 new trails. The second is to work my way through the Martha Stewart Bakes cookbook!
My 2020 motto, it will be a quote from Sheri Gabert, #Iloverightnow. Because, well, I do!

Did anyone close to you give birth?
My brother Ty became a first time Granddad, as did my cousin Ken.
Our niece put another Parker boy into the world.

Did anyone close to you die?
Roger Stocker and Billy Spencer, were friends.
William Cone, and Eddie Sinanan were family of loved ones.
And then there was Puddin the cat. Salute!

What countries did you visit?
We spent a few days in the states, then Amnesty International issued a travel warning, and we high tailed it out. When given the choice of, “Go big or go home” — we go home!

What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
I lack nothing.

What events from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory?
Ken and I kept our “in sickness and in health” and “for richer or poorer” vows.
Company came, and came, and came!
We got a dog!
Visiting New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
The feeling of biophillia that washes over me when I hike alone.
The celebration dinner with Ross and Tyler at the Blue Heron.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I read 34 books, listened to 31, and did not finish 7 that I started.
I lost 15 pounds.
I voted my conscience and not strategically.

What was your biggest failure?
I started a few big quilts, that turned into placemats, that turned into tote bags, that turned into potholders. I guess it wasn’t so much a failure, as a change of plans!
The king crab Christmas dinner I made was okay, but I had higher expectations.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
The year started rough. We got to experience the wonder that is the Canadian health care system. Salute! At this writing, both Ken and I are well.

What was the best thing you bought?
It’s not so much what I bought that is note worthy here. We are fortunate. We have enough, and are able to share. Similar to my Grandma, dad and brother, I take great joy in going to the post office. I love sending out cards, contest prizes and gifts to random friends. I sew like a millionaire, and we eat like kings.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Anna Michael, Patti Brown, Patrick Visser, Steve Livaja, and Kathy Gagner.
Ross Cone is a rock star.
The Canadian medical system.
I continue to cheer the everyday actions of my husband Ken, my best friend Sandie, and my brother Art. Salute!

Whose behaviour appalled you?
I find ALL of the GOP disgusting. FUCK tRump. And WTF, Alberta?
Justin Trudeau, (and yet, we would have been screwed had the conservatives been elected).
I’m appalled by people who still don’t think guns are a problem, and more so, by people who continue to think religion is a solution.

Where did most of your money go?
We toured the Maritimes, get regular massages, and we have a house cleaner, yet I think we spend most of our loot on good food, hobbies, gifts and postage!

What did you get really excited about?
MuMu the dog!
Hiking alone in the woods.
Two scarfs. One gifted to me by Pat Leary and the other by Sus Bunker-Alvarado.
I ate a steak that was stuffed with shrimp and crab meat!
The Secret Santa (aka Hansoo) chocolate gift from SOMA in Toronto!

What song will always remind you of 2019?
With MuMu in the family, happy, happy home!
(Sung to the tune of, With MuMu in the family, happy, happy home!)

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?  Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Thinner
iii. richer or poorer?  Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I was more adventurous, and would just drive to new hiking trail heads, instead of just the ones close to home — but honestly, I do what I want.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I could’ve passed on the time we spent in ER’s, doctors offices, and hospitals.
I’m glad I learned how to cook, and would happily give up some of my kitchen peng..

Did you fall in love in 2019?
Ken has my heart, and MuMu stole the show!

What was your favourite TV program?
I record baking and painting competition shows, then fast forward to the end to see who won.
I like Great Performances, Masterpiece, and detective shows like Vera and Scott and Bailey.
I watch TV, but don’t care about most of it.

Have you let go of any resentment or have a regret you cling to?
Honestly, I find I love having a good resentment! At this writing, I carry none.
As far as regrets, I’m sorry we didn’t buy a hooked rug in Nova Scotia. Other than that, I’m good. Oh… I continue to regret getting the cell phone and yet, I’m not giving it up.

What was the best book you read?
A few faves this year were: Bonfires of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, The Early Stories of Truman Capote, Sister of Mine by Sabra Waldfogel, South of Broad by Pat Conroy, Run by Ann Patchett, and Dog Songs by Mary Oliver. I could go on.

What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
Music is not a big part of my life. Although, my brother gave me the Meet The Beatles LP for Christmas. That was the first album I ever bought and it brought back a lot of memories, and thanks to Tyler, our tech guy, I was able to listen to the entire album on some music gizmo app. Of course listening to Ken sing when he plays guitar is still my favourite joy.
I sing to MuMu, and when I hike. (It keeps the bears away!)

What did you want and get?
The ability to be generous!

What did you want and not get?
A hooked rug from the Maritimes.

What was your favourite film of this year?
It made me so happy to see John Lennon. (sorry, spoiler alert!)

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 64 on May 20.
Our friends Jerry and Annie from Colorado, were company that week. It was grand!

What one thing made the year immeasurably more satisfying?
One thing — Good Health!
One more — MuMu!

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
This question will get nixed or replaced next year. Who cares what I wear? I wear the same clothes I’ve worn for years and years. (Literally, the same clothes!) Only now, I wear a belt!

What political issue stirred you the most?
Seriously? What doesn’t stir politically? The shit show down south is horrid. The death toll of the tRump administration will be measurable. Religious voice in politics drives me nuts. We dodged a bullet up here in our last election, yet we are wounded and I fear Canada is going the way of the greedy and the cruel. I know my privilege. I’m glad I’m not young or have children.

Who and what did you miss?
Who I miss:
I will probably always miss Kim, mom, and Peet.
I miss seeing my brother Art and am grateful we text often.
I miss the laughter of Tai Chi people.
What I miss:
I miss the enthusiasm I had for swimming.
I also missed taking a good long road trip, in the van with Ken.

Who was the best new person you met?
Dr. Ryan Paterson, the surgeon at UBC who took such good care of Ken. Also, Dr. Baxter, Dr. Hoag, and all the nurses involved in his care. Ken is strong and well now!
I’ll also give a shout out to Sheila Smith. Sheila organized our bus tour to the Maritimes. She and her cohort Joanne, were a joy to spend time with. Salute!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
After years and years of “wanting” to lose 10 pounds, I learned that losing weight doesn’t just happen. It’s hard and slow work. I had to actually change my eating habits. I had to uhm…change! Go figure!
Biggest lesson reinforced – Life is better with a dog!