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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


by Jan

Let’s talk about pot.

Okay, since this bloggy thing is not really a conversation, but a place for my rambles, what I meant to say is….

I’m going to talk about pot.

I’ll put it out right from the start. I’m not a fan.

I’ve certainly been high on it, but it’s never been my “drug of choice.” Actually given the choice — pot is probably the last mind altering thing I’d choose.

Me and pot do not get along. I get paranoid and itchy. The times I’ve gotten high, all hell tends to break loose. Something big will happen, and I will either have to run, or hide, or talk to someone in authority. That’s me. I do not get or enjoy a harmless buzz.

I know a lot of people do. I also know a lot of people who have wine with dinner or a shot of whiskey in the evening. Again, I’m not one of them.

Pot will be legal in Canada very soon. Yet, I wonder what that will change, maybe the government will make more money, maybe more treatment centres will need to open, maybe nothing will change.

What I see, and have seen for years is pot is already everywhere. Those that consume it, consume it. Where and how does not seem to make a difference to them.

There are very few times I go anywhere, be it to the grocery store, or a hike in the bush, that I’m not “treated” to the order of pot in the air.

Seriously – it does not matter if I’m hiking in the bush or walking downtown, on the main street of our little town, I smell pot. People already smoke it everywhere, and have for years.

Pot isn’t yet legal, and yet the small town of Sechelt, has three pot stores selling weed already.

There was an article on the inter-web that was worried that cops, doctors and airplane pilots would be coming to work stoned when pot was legalized. You know, like they’d be smoking joints with their coffee breaks, because — it’s legal and they’d now have the right.

Maybe they forget that booze is legal. Now, while I know there are cops, doctors and pilots who have alcoholism, and many are what we call “maintenance” drinkers, and do show up at work loaded, but the majority of people don’t drink on their coffee breaks. Just as the many folks who get high, don’t come to work stoned.

Now, I know, I know… many say, and maybe it’s true, that pot is less harmful to individuals and society as a whole than booze is… and while that MAY true, don’t forget I worked at a treatment centre for 12 years.

Pot can fuck up the best of a person, just as easily as any substance can.

I’ve no where to go with this ramble or rant — except to say, I prefer not to debate the merits of weed, and I really don’t want to smell pot when I’m out in the world.

But, that’s just me.


by Jan

The Olympic flame is out.

We can take a break from hours of TV and rest up from all the cheering and hoo-ha of the Olympics. But, we can’t take too log a break, as the Para-Olympics games start up in a few weeks!

Now, the Para-Olympics games have all the same sports as the “regular” games; it’s just that in these games the athletes are blind or only have one leg.

I know we won’t be able to watch as much as I’d like, because the CBC won’t cover these games as much. There just isn’t the same kind of money provided for showing a blind guy fly down a mountain on skis at 70 miles per hour, no matter what country they’re from.

Plus, you can only imagine the metaphors the announcers could come up with…

Wow, he didn’t see that coming! She doesn’t have a leg to stand on…

Yeah – probably not.

For now, it’s all good. Like I said, I need a break from the fast forward button and the big TV. We’ve other stuff to do.

By the way – in case you didn’t hear… I swam a mile last Saturday. Actually I swam a little further as I didn’t want to come up short in case my count was off.

In 57 minutes, I swam 70 lengths of our 25 metre pool.

I’m pretty darn chuffed with myself and don’t mind tooting my own horn with this accomplishment.

I don’t know if a mile will become my workout, it was hard and I sure was tired after. I know several friends who swim a mile on a regular basis. Toot-toot to them!

Still, something happened to me over the last 7 weeks, I actually look forward to going to the pool now!

I’ll do my best to keep the schedule of three times a week at twoonie time. My bar will remain set low, at swimming a minumum of 30 minutes. If I do more – bonus. Toot-toot!

Never forget this addict prefers to change her goals to meet her behaviour rather than change her behaviour to meet her goals!

Did I tell you I swam a mile? I meant to!


by Jan

Yes, the Olympics are still on and I’m still in front of the TV.

Recording the CBC 24/7 has been the best thing we ever did regarding these games. We’re able to watch the events we love, and fast forward through commercials and the blah, blah. (of which there is a lot!)

Snow boarders and skiers are my favourite. I’m not a big fan of skating sports. Speed skating gets my heart rate up too high. I can’t stand it when they crash. I don’t watch hockey, or figure skating. Except I had watch Tessa and Scot, because they are Canada’s sweethearts and they did good. I also fast forward to the 10th end in curling and then watch the last rock thrown for all the teams.

I’m disappointed in the Women’s hockey game. Not the game itself – I didn’t watch it. I heard everyone played well, and a shoot out is not the way to decide a game, but the Canadian women were sore sports, and that put a twist in my knickers.

Of course every one plays to win, and with this level of skill, on any given day, any given team or athlete could get gold. They know it, yet acting like a silver medal is crap is… well… crap. Shame on them.

Once again, I’m going to comment on the commentators – I know it is a hard job and for some reason, going quiet and just watching the sport is not part of their job description. So, while in giving us the blow by blow, they come up with some wonderful metaphors to describe the events.

Here are just a few…
• Another big tree falls
• She left her cake in the oven too long
• He’s on the ropes
• He played his cards too early
• Only she knows what is left in her tank
• You can decorate a cake all you want, but if it doesn’t taste good…
• I like that we were invited to his party
• A soft drink away from movie night
• They have a cushion and window, but better not sit back and enjoy the view

And then there are the cheers …
• Stop, drop and open up shop!
• One, two, stomp and cue the crowd!

and my favourite commiseration…
• So disappointing, but, this is a hard sport — you really need skill.
(this was said during ski cross, when no one crashed or died and they all crossed the finish line within .03 of each other!)

I say, cue the crowd! Woot-woot!

Did I mention I love the Olympics? I also really love the fast forward button!