lookuplookdownlookallaround

by Jan

Years ago, Greg Phillips and I, got in a car together. We drove 10 hours to Golden, BC. for a tai chi workshop.

I remember only two things about that trip — the first was Greg was wearing shorts, and a bee flew in the window, and stung him on his inner thigh, while he was driving. It’s a miracle we are still alive.

The other thing I remember, was arriving at the camp, and someone saying, “We were worried, with Greg’s sense of timing and your sense of direction, we figured you’d be half way to Yukon by now!”

It was funny, because it was true.

I know the difference between left and right in some situations. But, ask me to face east or point north, (if I’m not standing in my kitchen) and you might as well ask me to solve a complex math problem. It’s not going to happen.

BUT… mark my words, that’s going to change this year!

Yesterday, while out hiking alone in the bush, I had to call Ken and ask him where I was.

I had a general idea, was totally safe, and I knew, I could always turn around and retrace my steps back to the car. However, I had a “plan” yesterday and wasn’t that far into it.

What I didn’t know at the time, was I had missed the turn off to trail I planned to take, and unexpectedly, came out on a logging road.

The trail map was at home, and I knew Ken could look at it, and tell me which way to go.

The only problem with that, was I wasn’t where I thought I was. So, his directions didn’t make any sense to me. After a bit of wandering, I retraced my steps, and came back home.

I still had a fabulous hike, it was a beautiful day, and when I got home, Ken had a “little gift” ready for me.

A compass.

My brain automatically went into math mode and shut down.

Then I woke up. I know with lessons and practice, a person can learn almost anything. So, I’m setting my sights on learning to read a compass.

I know I can do this.
Wish me luck!

tappedout

by Jan

I threw in the towel.

I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. I really liked the way the author would turn a phrase. However, I couldn’t understand the story she was telling.

This book had too many words for me. After two weeks, I tapped out on page 132.

I remember reading about a man, who wrote something like, “Forgive me, I didn’t have the time to write a shorter letter.”

It takes a lot of time to write well. Ken repeatedly tells me that I repeat myself, so I know the struggle is real.

With so many books in the world, I often wonder how a particular one ends up in my hand.

I take recommendations seriously — I like a nice cover design, and font size matters to me. I’ll also look to see if the book won a prize. I like The Man Booker, Canada Reads, or The Giller winners, more than Pulitzer prize winners.

The Essex Serpent had a cool cover, good size font, was recommended, still it will be the first book in the DNF category of 2019.

I’m happy to push my limits with a story, yet apparently, I have limits.

spayandneuteryourpets

by Jan

So, I see a post about a puppy on Bowen Island, that is ready for “guardianship”.

I wonder… what the heck does guardianship mean when dealing with dogs. I think maybe a part time doggy or… I don’t know, so I PM the lady to find out more.

A short time later, Marian calls me to give me the buzz…. She says, “Have we got a deal for you!” There is a 8 week old “woodoole” — yup, a woodoole… a mix of a wheaten terrier and of course some sort of doodled, looking for a home.

The deal with guardianship is, the dog, … normally $2500. (cough, cough) is FREE!

The catch is, you agree to let the dog have three litters of puppies, for the breeder, over the next six years.

I said, I would talk to Ken, as I am a bit impulsive.

Two minutes after talking to Marian, I had named the puppy Vera, and imagined her sleeping under my feet while I sewed, eating my shoes, and romping at the dog park.

Ken is and always has been, the voice of reason.

His hard no wasn’t immediate. He reminded me, that there are enough dogs in the world — that we’d want to spay any dog we got. And… we’ve talked about it — a puppy, no.

Dang it. Of course he is right — I totally agree with him.

Wednesday, a mere seven months after Boze died, Ken found a green plastic poop bag, in the pocket of a coat, he hasn’t worn for a while. I know he didn’t say no for any other reason, than he is caring and wise.

Plus, while I agree wholeheartedly… I get to say, Ken said no.

Ahhhh… Vera… the path not taken.

countingflowersonthewall

by Jan

Don’t tell me, there’s nothing to do….

When we first moved here, we signed up to receive a weekly email, announcing all the events, gatherings, and things to do, and see here on the coast.

We are quite the homebodies, but this week a couple of events caught our attention…

The first was the invitation to “Relax and dive deep into the soothing sounds of the didjeridu and quartz crystal singing bowls.” with Chris Niebergall and Kym Chi.

Ken wasn’t so keen on this one, so I pointed out that we could join Jack Garton, who “Armed with an accordion and trumpet…

Never mind … Home is good.

writingvsstorytelling

by Jan

Over the holidays my friend, Tamsin was reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. So, monkey see, monkey do, I went to the library and checked it out. I figure, if my friends like a book, I will too.

I’ve had it for a week now, and have not made much headway. It is hard to follow and I’m not exactly sure what is happening, but I love how the author writes. Perry’s words grab me, often enough to keep me in it!

I marvel at her writing more than the story! Which brings me to wonder… does a good writer, automatically tell a good story?

I’m only 80 pages in and all I know is someone has died, and there is a son. Honestly, I can’t tell you more about this book. The Essex Serpent has been mentioned several times. But, I’m not sure if the serpent is a work of art, or a creature haunting the town. I don’t seem to care though, as the writing is delicious and different.

An example:
“Cora attempted to conquer her scowl. Some bullnecked country curate all Calvin and correction, and his parsimonious wife! She could not, offhand, think of anything worse, and inferred from Martha’s rigidity at her side that her feelings were shared. But still—it would be useful to have some local knowledge of Essex geography. What’s more, it was not necessarily the case that a man of the cloth would be ignorant of modern science: among her favorite books was a thesis from an anonymous Essex rector on the high antiquity of the earth, which crisply dispensed with notions of calculating the date of creation from Old Testament genealogies.”

Now, I just opened the book and randomly picked a paragraph.

When I went to desktop publishing school, one of the main lessons they tried to teach was, no matter what you are creating, be it a poster, or book cover, the customer should not have to struggle to understand it.

But, then I met Marian Bantjes. I saw that it was fun to be challenged to understand some projects. I find I am willing to work for understandings, for the price of a person’s artistry.

Throwing words onto a page is hard. Not all writers, craft an easy story.

I really like how Sarah Perry writes, and even if I can’t follow her in story, I’m not willing to abandon this book. Her words are too scrumptious.

postalrambles

by Jan

The hard part of writing is thinking of things to write.

My friend Anna, said when writing a letter, you just need to write one interesting thing. I’ll go a step shorter, and say, just write the darn letter!

My days are routine, and while I can entertain myself well enough, I realize I am not adding much to the conversation, so this bloggy thing is wrought with rambles. Sorry!

I tend to read, sew, walk, cook at least one meal, and repeat. Sometimes, instead of sewing, I spin. Once or twice a week, I venture out to the store and Post Office.

Today, the post office will be my one interesting thing.

When it comes to the Post Office, I admit, I am a fallen apple from the Hudson tree.

My Grandma loved writing and sending letters. Birthday cards in particular, and I’m grateful her passion for this was passed on to me.

My dad also, loved the mail. Even during his last days, when it was hard for him to go anywhere, he wanted to go to the Post Office. There were times, he would wait outside the post office for it to open. He loved being first in the doors. By the way, he did this at the barbers and dry cleaners as well. First was better than second.

Canada Post in general, cannot be said to be a fine service. It is expensive and slow. I know for a fact that letters and packages go missing. And, while I really like our local postal workers, I suspect too that the delivery person, sometimes, just takes the day off.

I won’t be first in the line up today, but as a Hudson, I do look forward to going to the P.O.

Today, I’m sending out January birthday cards, a contest prize, and two surprise presents.

Grandma used to say, “You gotta write ‘em to get ‘em.” Unfortunately, that is no longer true and not my motivation.

These days I just write ‘em to write ‘em.

adventuresincooking

by Jan

I’ve learned to cook! Now, while I still say, “good luck” and not “Bon appetit”, when I serve, — I haven’’t set a pot holder on fire in quite a while. Now, instead of burning food, I caramelize it!

The hardest part of cooking, besides timing, is deciding what to have for dinner, oh and using the right ingredients. (There’s a big difference between cream of tarter and tarter sauce.)

I find having a freezer full of food helps. Ours is stocked, not only with blueberries, raspberries, and bananas for smoothies, I also freeze leftover soup for those times when I don’t feel like cooking. And, we buy meat and fish in bulk from the butcher. I like having a choice on hand, when I think about what’s for dinner.

And, while I have plenty of cookbooks on the shelf, the inter-web is my go-to place for new recipes. All I have to do is talk to the google, and I have a plethora of options with the ingredients of my choice.

The other day, I saw what looked like a tasty meal made with sausage and cabbage. I watched the youtube cooking lesson, and knew it was in my wheelhouse of culinary skills!

I have several varieties of sausage to choose from in the freezer. So, I grabbed some turkey links to de-frost, and gathered the other ingredients in ready.

I don’t plan when quilting, but I’ve learned when cooking, you really do need to use the ingredients the recipe calls for IF you want the meal to come out well. The French technique of mise en place helps a lot when cooking. I set all the ingredients in the recipe out before I begin.

Anyway – yesterday, I had the counter full of chopped onion, grated garlic, sliced cabbage, corn, peas, soy sauce and sesame oil at the ready for my yummy meal.

Once all this was ready, I needed to cook the sausage.

I told you we buy meat in bulk, so I usually repackage the meat into smaller portions before I put it in the freezer. This had been done with the sausage, so I didn’t think much about it, when I opened the baggie to start cooking up the meat — but… dang it, something was weird.

The sausage was mushy. I knew it was defrosted, but this was too much. I wanted to cut the casing off the link, to fry it up, but…. something was really off. Something just wasn’t right with this meat… too mushy… the meat had no structure… I was genuinely confused, as I know we buy from a quality source.

I messed with it a bit more… I smelled it… uhm….

Bananas.

Not sausage — bananas. I’d thawed a pound of bananas.

Bananas do not go all that well with cabbage, onions and ginger.

I’m just saying.

doctordoctorgivemethenews

by Jan

Once again, I want to give a shout out to the socialist health care we receive here in Canada.

Looking back, it has literally taken me years, not only to appreciate the system, but to use it.

Growing up in America, I rarely had health insurance, and if I did, it came with a high deductible, that I had to meet before it kicked in.

The western medical attention I did get was usually horrible. I held a huge dis-trust for medical doctors and as a hippie, went the way of hands on, herbs and voodoo. Except when it came to colds. For colds, forget the ginger, honey, and cayenne — give me Buckley’s! (only because I can’t have NyQuill)

When Ken and I first landed in Canada, we got our care cards and uhm… honestly, we didn’t use them for quite a while. We continued to see “alternative” healers. Alternative health was described as care that insurance didn’t cover. BUT, alternative healers also took tai chi lessons and were keen to trade. I told myself and I still somewhat, believe that western medicine is not for me. Yet, those beliefs were not what stopped me from going to a doctor.

What stopped me was the money. I know, I know… In Canada, we show our care cards, not our cheque books to doctors. But, still… old habits die hard, and I’m not sure I really believed it was “free.” Plus, I figured you had to be really sick to see a doctor, and for the most part I wasn’t.

It was during a massage, that I was told, I had a funny looking mole, and should have it looked at. I hemmed and hawed. My masseuse said, “It doesn’t cost anything to have them look at it.” So, I did. The doctor looked at it and removed it in the office. A few days later, she called with the path report. I was fine, no charge.

I’ve had quite a few funny looking moles. But, in the states, when I worried about a mole, I also had to worry if I had the money for an office visit and the pathology.

I didn’t go to the doctor for any type of preventive care. I honestly preferred hands on, herbs, sticks and twigs healing anyway.

I’m thinking about all this now because:

1. I just finished reading Educated by Tara Westover. A memoir about a woman who grew up in a fundamentalist religious home where they totally didn’t “believe” in doctors, or hospitals. Only “Gods pharmacy” of herbs, sticks and twigs. (BTW, this is a good read.)

2. An American friend recently ask for advice in stopping flu symptoms on Facebook. The call was answered with everything from Elderberry syrup, ginger, whiskey, etc., Not one person suggested she, “Ask a doctor.”

3. And, finally — someone I love is getting “released” from the care they are in, because they’ve maxed out their insurance, not because they are better.

I’ve known for a while, that Ken and I could not return to the US, even if we wanted to. While, most things like housing and food are much cheaper in the states, The cost of cost of health care is out of our reach.

We are getting older and while we are in pretty good health, Ken and I have used our health care system, quite a bit now. Each time, we are grateful for the access and care we receive.

I know some people who read this bloggy thing are American, so let me first off put to rest a few concerns.

We chose our doctor. When we first moved to Sechelt, we were assigned one, but we didn’t like him, so we changed. We do not have any trouble getting in to see her. Most of the time we can get in on the same day we call, the longest we’ve had to wait was a week for an appointment. She’s even called the house, to tell us about some tests results. If she cannot see us, another doctor will.

Now, we are not the type to run to the doctor for a runny nose, (but we could)! We started calling on our system because I had a head injury, and Ken had a tumour.

We’ve had trips to the ER, CAT scans, MRI’s. We’ve seen specialists and  I’ve even had a few moles looked at and taken off.

We’ve not had to get the cheque book out once and we’ve not once been denied care. Our crazy “socialist” medical plan will even cover the ferry ride if we need to travel to see someone.

I know our medical system is not perfect, and I’m still not a big fan of western doctors, but …

wantedgooddogparttime

by Jan

No, We are not looking to get a new doggy. No, no, no dogs!
Oh, look honey, a Doggy!

Ken and I have turned into “those” people. We are the weirdos who now stop people on walks, and go goo-goo over their dogs.

One reason we don’t want another dog is because we were totally spoiled with Boze. And because of her, IF we were to get another dog, they would have to be a good dog. No knot heads, crazy runners, big barkers, or dogs with “issues.”

Still, we are open. For example, if Max, from down the street, ever needed a new home — we’d be all over it!

Really though, at this time in our life, we would rather be doggy day care people. So, if you live in Sechelt, and know anyone who needs dog care, while they are at work, or anyone going on a week long vacation, and can’t take their dog — tell them to get in touch with us!

I’d be like that goofy Looneytoon cartoon charactor, “I will kiss him and love him, and squeeze him and hug him and call him George!”  Then we will happily, send them home to their real people, so others can pay for the food, vet bills and dog cookies. I’m sure we can swing the soft toys, sticks and balls needed.

Which brings me back to other people dogs  — I’ve noticed, no one has just a dog.

Today, everyone has a fancy pants pedigree, dog that is a combo of at least two breeds, often three, like the cockapeekapoo. The most popular seems to be some sort of oodle.

I saw a sweet curly haired black dog the other day, and then man told me it was a schnoodle — a combo, poodle, and schnauzer! Come on people! This is not a breed of dog — this is a dog from a long line of fence jumpers! But, I know it is hard to charge thousands of dollars for a fence jumper, so… schnoodle it is!

When Moser, a labradoodle, was visiting over Christmas, we were out for a walk and someone asked – I answered the way I always do, and said he was a snicker-doodleleedo… The lady said she knew the doodle part, but wasn’t familiar with a snicker dog. I smiled.

Finally yesterday, I talked to a nice woman walking her dog on the trail. She had a sweet medium size goofy looking doggy, a super cute little bugger. Of course, I stopped to goo… I ask… she shook her head — and a little embarrassed — said, “Mutt. Heinz 57”.

She then told me, he’s a good dog, we call him Harvey!

I need to start to carry some business cards on my walks. I would dog sit Harvey any time!

2018inreview

by Jan

My niece, Kayleen started this a few years ago, and I have followed — I don’t know if hers is posted  yet, but this is her bloggy thing.

I know I could spend more time on this, but January 1, 2019 is here, and these are my answers. Happy New Year everyone!

The Year in Review in simple question and answer form.

What did you do in 2018 that you’ve never done before?
I swam a mile in our community pool. That was a pretty big deal and I was very proud of myself for doing it.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I like having a motto, not resolutions to guide me each year. My motto for 2018 was, Look up, Everyday… there are reminders. For 2019 I’ve chosen – It’s all about the view. In many ways these are the same. I like looking at views.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
We aren’t close, but I know Ben and Andrea had Charlie. Kat and Kevin had Bridget, and Jerome and Bea became Julian’s Grandparents.

Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, our dear and wonderful dog Boze. Also friends, Mel Sameishima, Jeff Muiderman, and Jan Warner.

What countries did you visit?
Other than two trips to Las Vegas to see my brother Art, we stayed in Canada.

What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
I don’t feel I lack anything.

What events from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory?
The surgeries and trips to the ER.
Ken had surgery to remove a tumour from his bladder.
His brother Ron, had a tough time with the removal of a brain tumour.
My brother Art, had a kidney stone removed.
also, we launched Ken’s boat Cricket.
Company came!
The “incident” with Marian Bantjes and the ham sandwich.
The day Boze died.
The hike with Becky, where I could not keep up, and those when I did.
Ross hanging with me at the hospital, Sarah bringing us soup, and Lynn sending cookies!

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I read over 60 books! (That’s a big deal for me!)
I swam a mile several times.
I raised money for our local food bank by selling the quilted shopping bags I made.
I found such joy sitting at the sewing machine playing with fabric while listening to audio books.
I got outside most days for a good hike.

What was your biggest failure?
I stopped going to the pool.
Sadly, I gave into this cell phone shit, and now I carry it everywhere with me.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
For the most part, all my bits are lined up well. The men in my life had a few problems though. At this writing, both Ken and I are well.

What was the best thing you bought?
I took the advice of my painting teacher and when it comes to fabric – I sew “like a millionaire.” The full face snorkel was probably the best money I spent. That thing made it possible for me to swim comfortably with my face in the water.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Ron Parker is one tough cookie. Kathy Parker is even tougher.
Anna Michael – Salute!
Ty Brackett, for taking a neighbours letter to heart.
The Canadian medical system.
I continually cheer the everyday actions of my husband Ken and best friend Sandie.

Whose behaviour appalled you?
I find ALL of the GOP disgusting, and I’m not impressed by most Democrats.
Doug Ford was elected in Ontario. Really?
I was disappointed BC didn’t vote for PR when they had the chance.
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?
Probably on food, fabric, epoxy, gifts and postage.
We eat like kings, have supplies to create what we want, and we have enough to share. We almost bought a house — that would have been big!

What did you get really excited about?
Meeting Max – the cutest little doggy that lives down the street.
Learning about the art of Moy McKay.
The surprise painting from Lainey Benson.
The homemade chocolates Jess and Angelo made for Christmas.
Fabric sales and Bali Knots.

What song will always remind you of 2018?
I love Boze. (A little ditty I wrote for our sweet Boze dog.)

Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?  Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter?  Fatter  (I still fit in the same pants, but since Christmas, they are a little tight)
iii. richer or poorer?  Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I could say all kinds of things – but honestly, I do what I want.

What do  you wish you’d done less of?
Again, I do what I want.

Did you fall in love in 2018?
Ken still has my heart, and when I see the neighbours dog, Max walk by I get pretty excited!

What was your favourite TV program?
I still watch cooking and baking shows, Perry Mason, and This Hour has 22 Minutes. I like Endeavour, Vera, and Masterpiece. We now have Netfliks, and I’m open to suggestions of shows  that are not violent or about war.

Have you let go of any resentment or have a regret you cling to?
I regret losing sleep because of the hate in the states, and I regret losing sleep because of the love I have for someone I can’t help. — A silly resentment lingers and will be gone by the posting of this. The big and hurtful grudge I carried far too long, no longer bothers me.

What was the best book you read?
I read a lot. off the top of my head, I liked The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. I also liked The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I loved everything I read by Drew Hadyen-Taylor.

What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
Music is not a big part of my life, but playing music trivia games with my brother is great fun.
I hope to listen to more music this next year.

What did you want and get?
I got on Becky Wayte’s radar and she calls me fairly often to hike together. I also got a fancy set of glass dishes, I’ve had my eye on for a while.

What did you want and not get?
Besides once again not getting thinner, I usually get what I want. Oh wait, I didn’t get new eyeglasses.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Bohemian Rhapsody and Coco. (The animated one, not the one about the dress designer.)

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 63, and for the life of me, I cannot remember what I did. I’m sure I got attention.

What one thing would have made the year immeasurably more satisfying?
I worried about some people more than they worried about themselves. Not doing that would have been better.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
I continue to wear turtle necks, jeans and hiking boots. But, I did get my ears pierced and now wear different earrings each day. Also, Marsha made me several button up shirts, so fashion change is in the air!

What political issue stirred you the most?
Seriously? We all know tRump is a fucker, I continue to really hate Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell who are pure evil. The Brett Kavanaugh thing was and is fucked. The PR thing in BC disappointed me completely. On the good news side of politics, Sechelt elected a clean slate of politicians for mayor and council. We live in a rain forest and continue to have water restriction each summer, maybe this council will address that. My political head is not completely buried in the sand, but I need to spend more and more time at the beach.

Who and what did you miss?
Who I miss …I really, really miss Boze. I will probably always miss Kim, mom, and Peet.
I miss my brother Art and am grateful we text often.
What I miss… I miss the enthusiasm I had for swimming and watercolour painting.
And, I miss the freedom I had when I didn’t have a cell phone.

Who was the best new person you met?
Becky Wayte! She is bright, generous, talented, and so very adventurous.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.?
I hate everyone’s cell phone, but my own! 🙂