thehelpofnohelp

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.

Heartart

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.
Salute!

PS… fuckcancer

oneoffiftytwo

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!

2019inreview

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?
MuMu!
Thinner!
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?
Yesterday!
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!

afinemeditation

by Jan

I’ve been bitten by the hiking bug.

This is not news. I’ve been a walker for as long as I can remember, and always love being in the woods romping along trails.

Right now, I’m loving it even more so.

MuMu is a great hiking pal and we have some fun romps in the woods. There are a lot of trails around Sechelt and many close to the house.

Day by day I’m getting braver and am starting to explore new trails.

I use an app on my phone that has GPS. It also keeps track of how I’m doing on these galavants. It’s called Samsung Health and it came with the phone.

It allows me to set an activity for time or distance, then let’s me know when I reach the goal. I usually pick time and tend to set it for an hour and go.

The app talks to me. It says things like, “One kilometre reached, duration of time is 12 minutes, 3 seconds, remaining time is 47 minutes 57 seconds. Estimated distance 5 kilometres.”

Towards the end of the set time, it will encourage me with a “Almost there, you can do it!” When I reach my goal, it tells me “Target reached!” and sends up some canned cheers.

It shows me the route I took and lets me know how many steps I took, and how many calories I burned. It’s fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other thing this app does is pause when I do. If I stop to take a picture, tie my shoe, or take a rest, It says, “Workout paused.” When I get moving again, it let’s me know with, “Workout resumed.” This way my one hour hike might actually take longer, especially if I take too many breaks.

Yesterday, I took a hike I’ve been on before. It’s part of the West Sechelt Matrix, which offers a plethora of trails choose from. This particular route starts with a big up hill climb.

MuMu and I dig in. The reward at the top and the wandering down trail through the trees, is worth the effort of the climb.

The talking app is a help and a hinderance. I know when I’ve passed the first km, I’ve got about 10 more minutes of climbing before the top.

However, there are places on this up hill trail, where I’m slow. Really, slow. As a matter of fact, I plod so slow up the trail that the stupid app… informed me several times, “Workout paused.”

NO!!! I talk back. I’m still going, I’m just slow! I wiggle a bit more to show movement, until I hear, “Workout resumed” but my legs will only go so fast up this mountain.

Yesterday, as I climbed and climbed, slow and steady, left foot, right foot, onward and upward, I had to ignore the stupid voice in my pocket. …It seemed the harder I was working, the more I was on a pause.

Maybe this app understands true stillness in motion!

Stupid computers.

kitchenmemory

by Jan

We are kitchen people.

We used to say that a lot. The kitchen is where we hang out. Where the action in the house is, where you can hear the most laughter and where we gather.

On Bowen Island, we had a big kitchen, and someone was always in it. Some of my fondest memories are of people pushing hands, and making tea, in that kitchen, during training camps.

Our house in Sechelt has a smaller kitchen, but it’s open to the upstairs. Company hangs out at the big table, and who ever is in the kitchen, is still part of the action.

I’ve taken over the kitchen domain since moving to Sechelt.

I did it on purpose. I chose to learn how to cook. Now I say silly things like — “Get outta my way, and “Don’t watch me” and “That doesn’t go there.” The stupidest thing I ever said was, “That’s not how you load a dishwasher!”

On Boxing Day, I was doing the kitchen chores when an overwhelming love and memory of my mom washed over me.

My mother was a kitchen person, but not until her kids had long left the house.

She was a good cook and baker for Jack and the many clubs and social events she was part of. She was famous for her cream puffs and meringue. Two things, I’ve not even tried to make, and two of my favourite deserts.

What got me thinking about her though, were two items that are part of our kitchen.

The little cast iron dish she used to melt butter for our pancakes, and the painting of the Patron Saint of the kitchen – San Paschal.

 

 

 

 

Mom was a crafty. In 1977 she gifted me this small cutting board with San Paschal when I married in 1977. I think she knew I’d need the help in the kitchen.

I’ve hauled San Paschal with me ever since.

The cast iron dish, I took after Alice died in 2003. She had a lot of shit, yet only a few things, that really make me think of her. That cast iron dish is one of them.

This Christmas was the first time I used it! I melted butter in it for our Christmas crab dinner!

I know the most important things in life are not things. Yet, sometimes we need the things to help us remember what’s important.

I miss Alice.

Savethestampholidayletter

by Jan

Season Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Happy Thursday!

Please know, Ken and I think the world of you. We hope you have a grand holiday, and that we are able to begin 2020 in health, safety, and joy!

2019 started a bit rough. Ken had to have two surgeries. Thankfully, both were successful and all is well now. The only thing better than being on the receiving end of universal health care — is not needing it. The doctors, nurses and entire system were top notch. This entire adventure made it much easier for both of us, to keep that “in sickness and health” vow, when things were hard. We’re back in the “for better” category again, and very grateful.

Our most exciting news is a dog named MuMu! You already know this if you read this bloggy thing at all.

This is a painting our friend Tommy Martinez did for us. He captured her perfectly!

MuMu is a sweet, six year old, poodle-oodle, snickerdoodle, spoiled rotten, with a stubborn streak. She is smart, super cute, and a fur ball of love! Our life is better with dog! I do believe we won the lottery when she joined this Parker household.

Ken continues to be super creative and productive in his shop. He seems to always have some project going. He finished building his sailing dory, a beautiful new wood box for our firewood, a squatty potty for me and various other projects requiring epoxy and sandpaper!

He’s a board member of the local woodworkers guild, and was in charge of their 2 by 4 challenge last spring. Now, as the year ends, he’s making wooden spoons, spatulas, and serving trays, as Christmas presents, for people, that may otherwise go without. He also, keeps his “honey do” list up to date with me, and handles all outside chores, including firewood, car, yard and garden.

I’d say I spent more time at the sewing machine, cutting up fabric and sewing it back together again, than I did out hiking in the woods; but I’m not sure that’s true. I thoroughly enjoy both.

In the coming year, it’s my intent to go on 52 new hikes. The coast has so many beautiful trails and places to go, and I’m inspired to hike them.

I also plan on working my way though the Martha Stewart Bakes Cookbook. I’ll need to keep hiking, if I follow through!

We had a chance to tour the Maritimes in the fall and it was terrific. We took a bus tour, organized by Quilt Tours International. We really enjoyed, eating loads of lobster, crab, and PEI mussels. Visiting Peggys Cove and hanging out in Lunenburg were favourites, as was the Cabot Trail. It was fun trip and the only one we took this year.

We still want to see Newfoundland and Yukon. Canada is a big and wonderful country. We want to see as much of it as we can. Hopefully in 2020 we will be able to get in the van and go!

For the most part, we stayed home in 2019. We enjoyed a lot of company. Hopefully, they enjoyed my cooking!

We live in a beautiful part of the world, that is not that easy to get to, so we are grateful friends come to visit.

So, on we go! May the new year be bright. Thanks for being part of our life. And, thanks for reading this bloggy thing. I hope to write a bit more often in the coming year.

With love, Jan, Ken and MuMu

turnaroundisfairplay

by Jan

MuMu had to wait for me yesterday!

Oh, how times have changed. It wasn’t all that long ago, I was dragging her with me, on the super flat and easy Crowsten Connector walk. We celebrated her walking the entire one kilometre, by lifting her into the car!

I remember telling Ken, I was probably being too hard on her — expecting too much, pushing her too soon.

I’m a fast walker and for a couple of months, she had to remind me to slow down, and take a break! Her breathing was heavy, her eyes pleading, and with even my pocket full of one calorie treats, she did her best to keep going, but…. she was in rough shape when we got her.

All that has changed!

Yesterday, we were climbing up a mountain! As we neared the top, it was me in need of a break. I had to stop to catch my breath. MuMu was in the lead, carrying a big stick, on the look out for bears and squirrels. If she had a pocket full of treats, she would have pulled one out, as encouragement for me to keep going.

As it was, she came back to sit with me, as I took a much needed rest.

This joy of a dog, has only been with us a short time, yet it seems like she’s been part of the Parker family forever.

MuMu is one solid muscle of dog goodness now. She romps and runs to her hearts content— yet is kind enough, and smart enough, to look back to see, if I need any help, or encouragement to keep going.

canofwormsreprint

by Jan

Good old Facebook. It has a memory, and shared that I posted this story on this day in 2011. It was on the old janparkerarts page in the notebook, the one without a comment section.

A friend wrote to tell me a comment section would be nice, as they had some thoughts this particular post.

So, today I’m re-posting the story. My feelings on this topic, are stronger than ever.

canofworms
December 12, 2011
I went to the The Vancouver Men’s Choir Concert last night with my friend Rosie. As far as a holiday traditions go; this one is fantastic!

What’s not to love about 50 men singing and dancing in celebration on stage? It’s a fun concert, and the conductor is fabulous!

What I enjoy most about this holiday concert is the content of songs. They sing winter songs and sing a-long Christmas carols. And while, the performance is held in a church, there aren’t any “glory to god” songs. More like, Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells type songs. If I’m mistaken the glory to, type of songs aren’t the focus, and with the arrangements I’m able to by-pass the words.

By-pass the words.
Okay, here we go. I just opened my own can of worms.

I’ve had this conversation a few times this week, as it is concert season. I used to sing with a choir. Now, as much as singing in public challenges my comfort zone and voice, the really hard part for me, was raising my voice in praise of something I do not believe in. The choir I was part of sang a lot, of “glory to god” songs.

When I voiced my concerns I was told to “not worry about it,” try not to think about the words, I should just focus on the notes or beauty of the music.

I tried, but finally came to realize, nope. Words matter. What we say matters. What we think and sing about matters.

In one of Art Baner’s Qigong classes, he challenged us to walk for 30 days with bad posture, and hold negative thoughts during that time as an experiment. Of course, no one was willing to do that!  We all knew the effect it would have on us! It wouldn’t be long before we were walking our talk, and feeling terrible and depressed. How about if we were asked to welcome the world with a smile and joy? It wouldn’t be long before we were having joyful days and feeling pretty good.

Because what we say, think and sing… matters.

If they are “just” words, in these songs, how many of us would gladly sing a rap song, exploiting rape, cruelty, or murder?

Why not? The beat could be fun to bounce or dance to, maybe you are at a party that is hopping and the rhythm of the song is catchy. Would you sing “words” about rape? Would you sing it in public? Would it matter to you if you were asked not to worry about the words? Would you play gangster songs if you found them to be offensive? To my ears, religious church music is just as uncomfortable. I’m not willing to by-pass the words for the melody.

It is easy to fool ourselves, and get caught up in the melody or mood of the season. But, day by day, word by word, song by song, I’m more particular about what I listen to, sing and say.

I am either becoming more open or closing down further. I don’t know if I am standing in my truth, or stuck in my ways.  I do know I’m not interested in listening to or singing songs of praise to something I cannot fathom and feel is harmful.

When I wrote this in 2011, I had no comment button on this bloggy thing. Today, there is one, I invite your thoughts. But, please let me remind you — say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean… if you say anything at all, because words matter, no matter the tune.

bookreview

by Jan

I just finished listening to The Dutch House by Ann Patchet.

First off-Tom Hanks is the reader, and because Tom has such a recognizable voice, it was hard to see Danny as a character in his own right. He will always be Tom Hanks to me.

Still, I enjoyed this book. It is the story of a brother and sister and the house they grew up in. It is also about a broken home, an evil step mother, distant father, and while life goes on, marks are made.

I related to this story, as someone whose own family home, was taken over by a step-mother, and I also was forced to leave. I’m always amazed at the unnecessary cruelty and jealousy an adult can have over a child, and also how easy it is to for others to stand by and watch.

The relationship of the siblings is at the heart of this book. I related to this story, because in a strange way, with different details, it was the story of my childhood home, with my brother and I as sole survivors. When all is taken away, we hold tight to those that stay.

Plus, Ann Patchet has yet to disappoint in any of her books.