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Friday, December 16, 2011

Yuletide tale #2

As I  sit here this quiet morning, still dark outside, candles lit, listening to my favorite early morning radio, contemplating hauling the decorations from the basement, where to place the tree (waiting on the deck), how to decorate, glancing occasionally at my neighbor's house directly across the street. He leaves one Christmas light on in each window all night, part of me wonders about all this fuss, while another part of me enjoys the feeling of Christmas for so many reasons. 

Oh come all ye Faithful in bag pipes on my radio show now. I feel all emotional...the pipes get me every time, no matter what the season or the song. The house smells great. Before I sat this morning I made some orange spice muffins. Now a medley of Anne Murray Christmas tunes. Gawd, I need to avoid writing during PMS stage!  There is a beautiful fox peacefully resting on our lawn. The cat is mesmerized by the still fox. He's been there a while now. I note he has injured his back right leg. He is limping when he first moves...but then he runs away. I want to help him, but know I can't. He is quite capable of helping himself.  This has nothing to  do with anything Christmassy but is is a part of my moment so I  thought I'd throw it in. My coffee is  delightful...warmimg.Yes, this is what I like about Christmas...warm feelings...fond memories.

Really I am not sure about the whole virgin birth Jesus Christ thing, though I know this story brings people hope and well, as a story, what a best seller.
I've spent  a good bit of time trying to "celebrate" this time of year in a way that I feel good about.  I've tended to move away from Jesus and Santa and more towards  snow figures and Solstice. It's hard though you know because, well my own experiences at this time of the year revolve around those two so I can't write them off altogether. 
My earliest memory of Christmas involves my mother convincing me that she and my cousin had just seen Santa and his reindeer flying through the sky and then landing on the house next door as they sat in the window watching the snow fall, playing cards and sucking back a Rothmans. All such a comfort as the wood stove in the kitchen warmed us up and baked our bread. This was her way of getting me to bed I guess...She had me so convinced of it that I actually saw them myself. They were real at that moment and it was magic and wonderful. It helped my mother's case that the announcer on VOCM radio was saying that there had just been a sighting of Santa and his reindeer in the St. John's area. I was a bit freaked out, took this all very seriously, ran up the old stairs and jumped right into bed beside my big brother and tried to force myself to fall asleep before him.

I have no memory of the next morning so unfortunately I have to end that part of the story here but lets assume Santa did arrive and I did have a present the next morning. I even had heard the thump when he landed on our roof & fell through the chimney. I still believe I saw Santa and his reindeer that night...I did, real or imagined...I saw them and I will always have my mother to thank for that magical moment whatever her motives might have been. This one my one and only sighting of Santa. I was probably five years old but it seems like yesterday. I remember it as if it was real. My mother was quite skilled in making imagined things become real.

Years later When I was nine I found two garbage bags in my parent's closet, both full of toys and Christmas things which I immediately knew were for me, my brother and my new little sister. I knew they were from Santa. At that moment I knew that Santa must not be real, but I carefully placed the bags back in the exact position I found them just in case Santa had just stored them there because he might run out of space or something. I knew not to mention this and although inside I knew it was all a lie, I carried on the next day pretending to believe.

After all, that was the year I received Hugo Man of A thousand Faces, a Makin Faces clown make up kit and a gigantic colouring book almost as big as me, so even if Santa did not exist...well, I still believed in him. Nobody ever told me Santa was not real. I just knew. It was still like magic to me though, I went to bed crayonless, I woke up to find 64 brand new fresh Crayola crayons to compliment my new colouring book.And ya know, even though I know of course that Santa is not real ...every Christmas morning of my life I have been lucky enough to wake up to an experience similar to my new 64 Crayolas (with insert sharpener i might add). The Jesus thing, well...that's another post for sure. 

Well, the day is about to start so I must gather  the decorations from the basement, and and with each ornament i place on my tree I place also A STORY. The sun is shining. It will be a good day. I have two gatherings with good friends. I am blessed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Like Piles, Reflections on Halloween Night

I know, I know Halloween is gone, it's 6 days later...but thought I post this  anyway since i started it Halloween night...and maybe it's about more than Halloween.

It's cool outside, but not so cool that you couldn't go for a walk with just a sweater and some thin gloves. Some of the leaves have fallen off the trees, enough to scrunch under your feet, while others hold on tight.  It's been that type of day where you can feel the coolness in your nostrils outside, the type of day that when you come inside, the comforting heat hits you and you know it's gonna be a good night.
The steps in our neighborhood are dotted with jack-o-lanterns carved in elaborate patterns. "Doesn't anyone just do the triangles anymore?" said a co-worker in the staff room during a break today. It got me laughing and thinking about how simple things used to be.  

I am sitting in my living room in total darkness aside from the light  from my computer screen. There's a couple of candles in the big living room window, and a jack-o-lantern with a tea candle inside it's body. We put some  clear Christmas lights on the front step to make the place seem inviting, yet dark enough to be slightly scary to the little ghouls and goblins in search of tricks or treats.  So far we have had 7 kids.  I can only remember a giraffe, two pirates, a train, (perhaps the little engine that could (?), and a princess. All the costumes were bought it seemed, that's what they do these days. Guess that's the new fun way and perhaps some day someone like me will blog about fond memories of shopping at WalMArt for the perfect costume, or remember that weird lady with the orange scarf on her head, the one with the black cat in her arms who lived in the scary dark house with candles in the window, the one that the gave them three really good treats.

Only one kid said "trick or treat", the tiny giraffe who also wanted to ring the doorbell because that is what she was told to do.The rest just held their bags open...but that's not their faults because when they held their bags open I added treats!  Most said thank you. A pirate asked if he could have two choc bars. At least he asked.

This is one of my favorite nights of the year, but not because I like getting dressed up, although that's fun too. And I don't think it's because it is the eve of my birthday. But there is something comforting about this night. For me it marks the beginning of winter. 

I have fond memories of Halloween. Maybe it's as simple as I  left my house with an empty bag and came home with a big bag of treats all ready for the eating. I  didn't gobble all mine up at once though. I savored them. First, I  would empty the mysterious contents of my Dominion bag onto the floor, (Back then nobody frowned on the use of plastic supermarket bags). Then I would slowly and with such sweet anticipation arrange all the same things in one pile. Chips first (you mostly only got two kinds, the Hostess ones in the  blue foil bag or the cheap oily ones in the white, thin unmarked plastic bag) then, hard cheezies, soft cheezies, and all chocolate bars together (to be later separated into "exactly the same" pile). There were always lots of  rocket candies, gum, Tootsie rolls, and suckers of all colours. (these of course to be separated by colour and eaten in order of taste preference, all yellow ones to be given away) You might get some life savers, a package of four, but that was as exotic as it got, and yes, we got apples and oranges which were likely fine and that we actually were allowed to eat but were too afraid to because of all the stories about razor blades hidden in them.  That seemed about it back in those days, but what treats they were.

One very memorable year I  got a full can of RC COLA, and a full size CRUNCH bar from the Downey's who owned a store and lived across the street from us. I was certain the Gods had bestowed upon me a great gift for my good behavior in taking my little sister around with me. Another year I went out taking two bags with me because my big brother was sick. I remember saying, "trick or treat" twice every time and then explaining that my brother was home sick. It was true, but now that I think of it could have really used that one.

Yes, as I sit here in this room feeling all nostalgic, waiting for little trick or treaters, to ring my doorbell I resist the urge to go get dressed up myself, and instead I just organize the really good treats I'm giving out into like piles ready for the taking, and I remember.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Recently I was working out in the basement...early morning, treadmill 5:15 am. Generally during this time I'm only half awake as I mechanically get my legs moving in a walking/running motion. To help me through the process I turn the TV on. Early morning CBC is series of repeats from the previous night's programming, so I just kind of half listen to news shows and sorta watch as Chris and Steve give design advice, make interesting cocktails and review some new gadgets. One particular morning suddenly I heard Mr. Dress Up's voice. (For those who do not know. Mr. Dress up  was a popular Canadian kids show from 1967 to 1996.) Well, it was as if someone has resurrected someone from the dead, a familiar someone. Someone at CBC had changed a file in the vast archives of my brain from "childhood memories, vague & irrelevant" to "childhood memories, vivid and significant".

As part of the 75th anniversary celebrations CBC has been airing quick flicks of old shows. There they were on the screen several pairs of forty somethings, happily resting toddlers on their hips, talking about how Mr. Dress Up influenced them as parents and as people. As they spoke they flashed to various episodes. I cried a bit at the sights and sounds of Mr. Dress up drawing with a marker on his easel. Then I got to wondering, "Really Za, what the heck?" They end each flashback segment with that very distinct CBC sound,  followed by a voice over, "CBC, yours to Celebrate", then I got to  pondering how much a part of my life CBC has been. I determined that it has been a very important part of who I have become. Not just Mr. Dress Up though, but others like the Friendly Giant.

Every morning at 10:15 I would hear the theme song to the Friendly Giant, something so inviting about the softness of the harp and the flute. For some reason I can't explain, I happen to know the lyrics  to this song and so in my moment of reflection, my 42 year old self sang it ...out loud, alone in my basement  at 5:30 AM while I walked, keeping my hips in rhythm before they ceased up.

"Early one morning before the sun had risen, I saw a bright star in fields gayley singing, Bluebirds were singing, south winds were blowing."   ETC...

Such a pretty song. God, I thought to myself, I must have PMS. I continued to ponder. As a child I wanted to be David Suzuki. I loved how he spent time with nature, explained things. I learned so much from him. I think he is the  reason that every now and then I can't resist the urge to get "natural" in nature. Who knows? I loved watching the CBCevening news with my father, even though I  could have cared less about what was happening in the world. Still today, I  go to bed every night with  Peter Mansbridge. What ever shall I ever do when he retires? And something about the CBC logo, I  don't know, such a part of me, both radio and TV.

For me, a long road trip would not be the same without the comforting companionship of my CBC radio. It doesn't matter what's on there. On a recent trip through  the mountains in BC, feeling isolated and far from other people I rounded a corner and saw an official road sign indicating where to find CBC radio on the dial and suddenly I  did not feel so alone.

Many years ago at an interview for a job at the Steak and Stein the interviewer asked me what I might like to do given the choice of anything. The young me said I  would like to work at CBC radio. I  didn't get the Steak and Stein job--thankfully, but isn't retrospect is a wonderful thing? That would have been the day to  go home, sit and fill out my application for a journalism program, but no, instead that same week I accepted a job at a pharmacy. Oh dear, getting side tracked again. 
My point is that CBC is a huge and very important part of  me and and who I  have become.  It is like a family member. The characters from my past like pseudo grandparents or something. Between the two of them in particular (Mr. D and Friendly G) my imagination was stimulated daily. I learned to create, sing, share, put my toys away, be kind, put my crayons back in the package, ask older people for advice, (remember Wise Old Owl), respect difference, love animals and perhaps most importantly ,that I as a little person, had value. Well thanks so much CBC!

On September 17th, 2001 I wrote in my  journal, "AM: Mr. Dress up had a stroke. PM:Mr. Dress up died."
I remember taking the time on my break at work (at the pharmacy) to jot this important info down.
I Did the same with the  Friendly Giant  on May 15th, 2000 "Pretty cold outside today...Friendly Giant died."
Who knew I'd be writing about it all so many years later. (Maybe I did.) I heard both announcements onCBC Radio and I remember the brief but sad feeling that came over me.

Often people mock me for listening to  my CBC radio, stating how they can't stand all the talk. I  have to wonder the same about their choice to listen to private radio with all the noisy ads. I  wouldn't trade it for anything. It continues to be a big part of my adult life. Ponder. Express gratitude

An earwig just crawled across my keyboard. Not sure from where he came. I just watched his frantic movements. He is in such a hurry. Creepy, but no need to  kill him really. A good distraction. South Winds are blowing today...
Time to  go, grab my ipod nano, tune into CBC and take the dogs for a walk on this beautiful warm windy day, before Mother Nature has a mood swing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Anticipation

I love finding a great recipes, reading through them, considering the possibilities, mmm…looks good. I examine the picture (if there is one) with great interest. I imagine myself and loved ones, sitting around, chatting eating the amazing creation.  What do I need? Can I make this? I relish in gathering the ingredients…oh the anticipation. For me it’s not just about preparing the recipe, it’s about creating something--something delicious. It’s about putting a bunch of separate little things together to end up with one big thing. I guess it’s about results and sharing. I like the process of chopping the veggies. I get everything ready first, measure things out because once  I get going things tend to happen really fast and who wants to  stop and chop while something is frying.
Food is such a delightful pleasure for me. I thank the Gods every day that I have access to such bounty especially at this time of the year when everything is as fresh as can be.  Recently, I made this chowder with someone I know that also enjoys cooking. It was  so much fun. Making the meal was just as much a part of the experience as eating it. Lots of “ooos” and “ahhhs” and “yums” when we finally sat and enjoyed it.  

BEST CORN CHOWDER I have ever tasted and easily adaptable to a vegetarian diet just by omitting the bacon and using veggie broth instead of chicken. Since I was making this recipe with non-vegetarian friends I decided still include the bacon for their taste buds but just didn’t garnish my own with it.

*6 strips of bacon (diced) smoked is great
*1 large yellow onion
*3 stalks of celery (De-stringed and diced)
*2 carrots (peeled and diced)
*3 cloves of garlic (minced)
*3 uncooked potatoes  (peeled and diced)
*1 med leek (I USED 2)
*3 ears of sweet corn (I USED 4)  removed from cob SAVE THE COBS  (I cooked them briefly before removing the corn, but you likely don’t have to)
*1 can of cream style corn ( for texture I think)
*2 cans of chicken OR veggie  stock. (or one tetra box, I used the box but perhaps if you are really serious you could make your own, aprox 900ml)
*1 500ml heavy cream.  (the first time I made this I used whipping cream…yum, is just as good with 18% which is what I used last time)
*½ cup of butter
*½ cup flour
*½ teaspoon salt
teaspoon garlic powder
*Freshly ground black pepper to taste
*Pinch of cayenne pepper
*2 tablespoons of FRESH thyme (this is key, fresh is better. I  use as much as I  feel like, but at least 2 TBS)
*Fresh Parsley finely chopped

SO…now that you have all these YUMMIE COLOURFUL ingredients…
1 .Remove the kernels from the cobs,  set corn aside. (you can cook before removing from cobs if you like, but don’t have to) Place kernelless cobs in pot with stock. Let simmer while you prepare other ingredients. This creates a very tasty corny stock.

2.Sauté bacon until crispy and remove from pan. Should smell really really  in your kitchen by now.

3.Saute diced onion, celery, carrot, garlic in bacon fat (or some butter if not using bacon) until onions are translucent.

4. create a roux with flour and butter for a few minutes before combining with  sautéed veggies.

5. Remove cooked cobs from the pot and discard.  (there will be little pieces of tasty corn bits in stock now) Add the corn that was set aside, the creamed corn, the potatoes, and sliced leek to the stock. Simmer about 15 mins or until potatoes tender.

6. Add the sautéed veggies and roux, cream, thyme, and seasonings to taste, Simmer for another 20 mins. Serve hot. (Garnish with chopped parsley, bacon, cheese or even sour cream if you like)


Should be enough for 6 generous servings.
I  am not sure who to  give credit to  for this recipe. I  got it online a couple of years back and have since added bits of my own as I  go along…so…thank you google I guess???

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I have adjusted things so it is much easier to leave a comment if you are so inclined.

A Bit Witchy, Yes...But Why Not?

I have recently returned from a vacation in Western Canada. While there we visited a town in in BC called Nelson. I loved Nelson. We were not there too long, but long enough to feel the place. There was a sense of wholesomeness in the air. Right away we happened upon two large natural food grocery stores, a vegan restaurant and a bakery with all kinds of special  treats that would please even the most particular tastes buds. (gluten free, wheat free, organic everything etc..., and don't even think about buying bottled water)  Yup, Seemed like a free thinking, anything goes, I don't wear deodorant or shave anything that grows naturally, "of course we have patchouli oil and black star diopside", kind of place.  I  would say "hippy" but I am not sure this is a word we use anymore.

Black Star Diopside. Beautiful.
This is a stone I had never seen before that I was strongly drawn to while in one of Nelson's many unique shops and galleries. I learn now that this stone is related to the birthstone for March and this is a month that happens to have significant life changing meaning for me. I never really thought much about stones and the energy they carry until I participated in a Shamanic workshop and did a paired journey. (Not to get too side tracked, but in this instance you journey for someone else and they journey for you). The person I was paired with  gave me a piece of crystal to hold during the process and while I  saw no harm in holding onto it, I, having had no expectations, could not deny the  power of the energy that ran through my hand and up my arm on the side where I held her crystal.  Ever since that experience I have decided why not...why couldn't stones hold energy...of course they do.
Hmm..too late, got side tracked didn't I?...Oh well... More about stones as I learn...

While I was standing near the amazing assortment of stones I spotted something I've wanted for a while. Power Animal Oracle Cards. I abandoned the stones (leaving them to a customer who said she felt moved to bless them as she was a stone practitioner) to explore the spiritual cards section. I  could have stayed in this store for hours. I may have.

Yes, I liked very much being in a town where I overheard things like "I'm going to bless these stones".

Took me a moment to choose a pack (yes, I even had choices) but I  settled on one and a few other things before leaving. For a while I left them untouched, just placed them near (but not on yet) my altar (yes I have an altar)  but I finally took them out and gave them the attention they deserved. It is a Shamanic belief that Animal Spirits can help guide us, the cards are just a tool to get in tune with your intuition. Either way, I was delighted to find them.

So...after we got back I consecrated my cards taking a few deep breaths, Said a prayer to the Great Spirit and then breathed the prayer into my fanned out cards, which I held close to my heart. Then I thought of a question Which I said out loud.

Now I know this all sounds a little witchy right? You know, to talk to  the "Great Spirit" and all, but before you judge...think about commonly accepted Christian beliefs about that other great spirit and really its not much different. Some flip through the bible to  find a scripture that inspires or helps them, and that is also a beautiful thing. Think about silent prayers you may have said yourself. 

I continued...

I pulled three cards. SNAKE, RAVEN, And SALMON. I lay them out as per  the instructions I read earlier focusing on my intention and my question.

RAVEN and SALMON cards were upside down. I remembered that upside down cards mean you are blocked in that area and that if you pull the RAVEN card that the meaning or significance of the  card next to it is magnified.

Snake is for healing and represents the past (immediate or distant) that one down pat...but RAVEN (who represents magic or power) was blocked and  SALMON (who represents determination...knowing what you have to do...having what you need to accomplish it) was also blocked. Had a brief moment of panic thinking...gawd...My power is BLOCKED. Took a breath, thought about it and realized a blocked card is no reason to panic...just an indication of what to  work on...and i  do know what I  need to  do...and I  do have what I  need to  do it. Just need to channel my  power. Ask RAVEN for help...turn her right side up damn it!

 It was all new to me, but it did lead to some level clarity and for me, that's what counts.

Before I  put my cards away I considered taking a pic of my card spread  for my blog, but decided that didn't feel so right. Instead the next day I  took a pic of the box they came in. 

Now the cards rest on my altar.

I am glad we went to Nelson. The drive was majestic and what a place to  discover a stone I love and to obtain my cards. A place with water and mountains and fresh air, good food and nice people.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Helpful Bird

Dreams are strange. I've had some doozies in my day. This morning I abruptly awoke from a dream in which my friend's little girl was falling from a forth floor balcony onto the  pavement. When I got to her she was sitting on a cement block laughing and playing with a tiny bird.
In my frantic state I approached her. She was laughing and teasing me showing me the  bird, her new friend. There was an understanding, you know how dreams are, that the  bird helped softened her fall,  helped her fly. Then the bird flew away  after looking right at me. The little girl assured me it was time for the  bird to  fly away. I'm sure this dream has meaning. In real life this little girl is quite a free spirit, full of silliness and sweetness. I love her. This is a dream that will be with me for a while.

Once I took a  Dreams as Muse for writing workshop with Beth Janzen. It was helpful in  possibly pinpointing personal meaning and then using it to  write. I should go back and use some of the tools I learned figure out possible meaning.

I've had a few dreams that have stayed with me. One in particular from about twenty years ago. Still vivid, still makes no sense. I've never been able to figure it out even though with some contemplation I usually can  make my dreams make sense if necessary. The dream I'm talking about here involved my mother flying  (wingless...hmmm maybe she was floating)  down the street naked. That's not the weird part. She was giving birth to little hippos, kind of fun little characters, but they were made from blueberries. I just observed from my childhood bedroom window.
Yeah so in that dream I suppose I could imagine that the blueberries represented a favorite childhood dish that my mother made, (blueberry duff) but the hippo thing, well, a mystery still.
 In the workshop that I referred, you were asked to come with a couple of dreams written down, and then you broke them down, eventually picking aspects that  stick out in your mind. By the end of several different forms of break down and re framing of things you have a poem, or a story, or even an entire fairy tale as was the case by the end of Beth’s workshop. It was an amazing workshop really. Helped me figure out the reason my seemingly insignificant elementary school teacher keeps popping up in my writing and in dreams. 

Sometimes I wonder if dreams are some kind of special power we have within ourselves, to figure things out. I have considered also the possibility that dreams are experiences from past lives. Nah…well, maybe. I don’t rule anything out. Perhaps dreams are just unfinished thoughts from our day, but then why do they have to take on such strange forms? People appear as other people, yet you know for example that your sister in your dream was actually your brother.

The same day I had a dream about my friend’s daughter They happened to visit me that night and as the little girl ran and played I had a familiar feeling from my dream as she climbed up onto the  back of the couch asking her mother to catch her ask she jumped off, I standing on the opposite side in case she fell. Then, my friend who I had told about my vivid dream asked me if I had heard the  report on CBC radio about the 3 year old who fell off  a balcony. She tells me it was on the previous afternoon. I had not heard it…or did I ? I remembered I had the radio on in the  background as I prepared dinner and cleaned. Not such a weird dream after all I guess...but it does not explain giving birth to hippos made from blueberries.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

STILL  in process of redesigning....

Time For a Trim

Well, Last week I decided it was time, that it had to happen. There was definitely a sense of urgency as I  lugged the trimmer and the  6 foot ladder out of the shed. It had been raining so much and I was planning on going on a trip, so I  had to take full advantage of this rare dry, and warm evening. Yes,I finally trimmed the yews. Quite a satisfying job really.  Although this is only my second time having done it, I feel it went very well. I trimmed a lot, filled the entire compost bin. They were getting so big and had countless branches of various shapes and sizes erratically growing from all angles. Once I got over the part where I imagined it must feel somewhat like this (albeit slightly more psycho) to kill a newborn. That is to say once I  got past the cutting off of the fresh newly formed  bright green branches, I was fine. I was not quite Edward Scissor hands mind you, but I must say  I did do a pretty good job on giving them some shape, and as I living thing I feel they looked as if a burden had been lifted from them, like they could breathe better. Not so tangled up, not so much responsibility. They thanked me. I thanked them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Change...

In the  process of redesigning...please be patient. Thanks, Za x. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Floating Boy

Yard much work, so I have to wonder why I do this to myself. Yes, I make money, yes, it can be quite profitable, but I don't think that this fact alone drives me.

I've had many yard sales over the years. At one point I had them out of necessity, a way to eat something other than Mr. Noodles and french fry sandwiches for the week (yes, we all have a past). At one point I had them to rid myself of the belongings of another which were in my possession (that I no longer wanted or needed). I've had them to help specific causes, each creating its own unique memories but why, why now when I don't really need to do this, do I put myself through all this hard work? Why take up my rare beautiful Sat. morning doing this when I could be at the market or the beach?

First there's the preparations. Such a long process. Scan your belongings, pick something up, hold it, ponder, consider, remember, forget, decide how much it is worth...price it, put it in the yard sale box. Now, I don't mind going through all my belongings and deciding what I no longer need but the purging process can be excruciating, the memories, well...the memories...but, It can also be cleansing and freeing. Its amazing how much emotion we can attach to an item.

I'm not one to just throw everything out on sale day and decide what it is worth at the very moment some stranger asks. I like to price everything before. The price scheme seems directly linked to what feel at a certain moment. It was quite notable when and individual approached with 3 articles of clothing. I'd priced each at $1.00, but the smiley faced Joe Boxers she barely wore ONCE when we made love were $5.00! I end up throwing them in for free.

Wouldn't it just be easier on so many levels to donate everything and be done with it I've asked myself?

Yes, it would, I've told myself, but then I would have missed the joy on the face of the little girl who spend a very long time rooting through a bin of fridge magnets finally deciding on a very pretty cat head magnet, minus the magnet but for her, it was THE perfect one as she handed me the hot sweaty toonie she had been holding in her hand and waited for her change.
Then there was the very skinny fridge magnet collecting man from NS who was delighted to find the bin and bought all of them for $5.00. "Made his whole trip worth while" he said. He told me his entire deep freeze is covered in magnets he has collected over the years. Imagine that.

I would have missed the woman who needed a new frying pan because the non- stick surface of hers was wearing off, the man who goes to yard sales to gather things for a seniors group he organizes, and the woman who only has a VCR and has a rough time finding movies to watch. She shares that movies help her get through the night. I ignore my desire to give them all to her, but I must be careful not to insult and ultimately I do want to make some money.

I would have missed the young mother just starting out who needed a toy box/coffee table combo that was safe for her little girl, and also the little boy who bought the cordless mouse for $2.00, but couldn't afford the keyboard, that went with it for $5.00 as he rooted through his plastic wallet, his adult companion leaving the decision entirely up to him. Sweet, as he contemplated the value for his money. Of course I couldn't see him leave without the keyboard he loved so we settled on $3.00 for both.

I would not know that my old writing desk with three drawers (which until the night before was in the basement housing gift wrap supplies) would be refinished by a grandfather and given to a young girl to use in her bedroom as a dresser and a desk.

I would never have met the two lovely older ladies near the end of my sale. One woman was travelling from Oregon. I loved that she knew all about Henry Miller as she chose a movie about his life, and that we had a brief chat about him and lots of other stuff. I could have talked to them all day, but I was burning from the sun's rays.

Mostly though, at least this this round, I love that our inflatable boat which was blown up the night before (despite the down pour) to ensure it had no holes, simply delighted a man who shared with me that he wanted it for his autistic son who finds the sensation of floating calming. He said, "he would love this boat because he could lay down and stretch out in it if he wanted to". That made my day, it made all the work worth while.

Yes, I think what I like most about having yard sales is watching people find a treasure, sharing their joy, listening to their stories and knowing that things I no longer want or need have a whole new life. Yes, that's it! I like knowing there may be a happy boy floating somewhere, maybe today, a beautiful sunny day in our area, in a boat that was deflated in our shed for two seasons. New life, yes, that's why I do it. It gives me & the things I part with new life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Frills

Yesterday I stopped at the No Frills on my way home. It was a beautiful day, sun high in the sky, an awesome view of the harbour from the parking lot. I felt grateful. I just wanted to get some black beans for a recipe I was making. As I drove over the perfectly smooth new pavement I decided that I might also get some Chapman's vanilla frozen yogurt. That would be a treat, I deserved a treat. Yes, beans and ice cream. That's all I needed, Quick and easy, in and out.

As I approached the store I saw a grimy young man sitting down on the pavement right next to the entrance, cardboard sign in hand, big black block letters with decorative red stripes inside each letter of the words "Travelling" "Hungry" & "Anything will help". He was wearing black boots, jeans and a green army type jacket . God he must be hot, I thought as I passed by him saying hello to the skinny boxer mix laying on the pavement next to him, her head on the young man's crossed legs as he leaned up against the building, a small tattered back pack on the cement next to him.

It is worthy of note to say we are not used to seeing this sort of thing in our area. Everything/one here has a place, a history, a purpose. Most people can speel off someone's family history in an instant. An unknown is potentially also an unwelcome.

I have seen this guy before, or someone who looks like him holding a similar, but not so pretty sign at the intersection near the bridge during the busy traffic times, minus the dog. It was easy to ignore that guy though, easy to just drive by and not even look at him. For some reason, the young man at No Frills was not as easy to ignore. He was there, in front of me as I walked by. He seemed more real. He was young, and intelligent looking. He had kind eyes with which I got eye contact as he rubbed his dog's back.

As I rushed to the bean section I pondered how this person might have come to this point in his life. I had an internal dialogue that brought me to a place where I wondered if this man was just doing some kind of social experiment. Nah I decided, why would ya?

Most people just walked by him like he wasn't even there. I couldn't. Suddenly I found myself searching for food that might work for this person who was "travelling". I travelled once, but it wasn't called that. I was like a frantic mother getting last minute things for their child who was going on a road trip. Displaced that a thing? Hmmm, lunchables...well, I wouldn't buy those for myself, but it could work for a "travelling " man and it has protein...sort of. Yes, lunchables...and something for the dog, but not a can that requires an opener or storage. A V8 for him maybe...and oh something for fun...chocolate and some cheesies. What is wrong with me? Lets throw in some YOP and some cold water.

Za...are you nuts? Perhaps this man is in this position because of his own bad choices, maybe he is a rebel, just lazy, a criminal, a druggie? Either way I felt it worth the risk. All I had to lose was a few dollars after all. Maybe it could help...or maybe I would lose 10 bucks and feel a bit foolish...but maybe... just maybe it could help for a second at least.

So I packaged up a few things and passed them to him on the way out. NO FRILLS ATTACHED. I told him there was something for the dog and I asked the dog's name. "That's Gina", he said. I stooped down, petted her and talked to her a while. She seemed happy, tail wagging. He thanked me. I left, and on the way , my window wide open, I heard him digging in the bag saying, "Oh look what you got!" as he pulled out one of the dog food packages and fed it to Gina right away. His tone was the same I might use with my own dog. He looked up and mouthed thank you, I nodded as I drove away. Gina's long skinny tail was frantically wagging as she devoured her dinner.

I realized I had forgotten the beans.

The next day in the staff room I heard people say things about the guy at the No Frills. "They should have made him leave." "I don't need to see that" "He should get a job" "How can he have a dog?" " I wouldn't give him anything" "Sometimes those people just have dogs so people will approach them" Etc...etc...
I said nothing. I found myself wanting to defend him though, but I was silent.

I asked the dogs name, but I didn't think to ask his. Hope his "travels" are going well and he reaches his destination on time and in tack. I asked the dog's name...but I didn't ask his ... I asked the dog's name...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Bike Makes me Wonder

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I see and hear many things when I'm on my bike that might otherwise go unnoticed. This morning I stopped to read a plaque on the bridge indicating it was dedicated by Pat Binns on August 26, 1998, & sponsored by Strait Crossing. Who even knew this plaque was there? How could I have lived here on and missed an entire bridge construction?

Just on my short commute to work I see unusual items or for that matter perfectly ordinary things that jump out at me.
I once saw fifteen baby seals playing on a cement slab during low tide. The slab used to be part of the old bridge. I was able to stop and enjoy them.
I'm used to seeing the cormorants on the cement pillars, wings spread but it's only on my bike that I noticed their skinny little necks sticking out of the water as they glide to the cement pillars to join their friends.

Once a circular saw blade flew off the back of a truck with great speed and flung itself in my direction. Luckily, it missed me by inches but for an instant I had visions of being sawed in half like one of those sexy gals in the boxes at magic shows, only it would be much more gruesome and definitely less sexy. Moments like this jolt me back to realizing how potentially dangerous it can be and forces me to question why I choose to ride my bike over a busy and dangerous bridge daily. Then I remember things like how on both sides of the bridge I smell the wild roses that are on the causeway section before it actually becomes a bridge. Wild white on the way to work, wild pink on the way home. This type of rose always make me think of my mother so that's especially nice each day. I feel she is with me, at least in my thoughts. I would miss that brief moment if speeding by in my car. When the rose scent leaves the clover scent happens just as I come off the bridge--that is if not interrupted by the pungent exhaust from an older vehicle or interrupted by the air brakes of a transfer truck.

I see cranes with their skinny stick legs standing in the water, and as I'm looking I notice the bright green moss covering a large piece of driftwood, very nice...but I also notice the seemingly new, very expensive NIKE sneaker on the side of the road and I wonder if anyone actually misses it and how it got there, same with the shiny Volkswagon hub cap.

I note the very large seagull on top of the streetlight everyday. I think it might always be the same one, but I will never know. Another time I came across a dead crow surrounded by other crows...maybe a crow funeral. I felt like I was intruding as they quickly flew away when I slowly rolled closer, me being a little creeped out at the idea of a dead crow in my path. I also am treated each day to seeing another crow, the same one everyday. He's special, I recognize him because he has a white feather sticking out of his back. He's usually alone. I wonder why.

Every day, even on the hottest of days I meet a gothy looking young man all dressed in black, he has long black hair, he sports a set of bulky seventies headphones, and carries a walking stick. Every day he nods at me. I nod back.

I say hello to the flaggers, no time for that in my car. I feel the breeze in my face. Cleansing.

Also, for some reason I see many black straps with "S" hooks on each end that have obviously come loose from holding something which I worry might fly off and hit a biker because of the absence of these straps. I sometimes stop and pick them up cause they seem useful. So far I have collected three.

Once I saw underwear and a brush situated close to each other. Disturbing. I did not pick either of those up , but it made me wonder how they got there overnight.
And the bonus...and I know I shouldn't, but if I choose to I can ride by all the cars in the line up waiting at the red light. I can go right up to the curb and then wait for the light myself and still get home faster than if I was in one of those cars. For some reason this gives me a real rush...and so does going up a one way street the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, i am mostly a rule following biker, but I have moments.

Today on my way home I saw a dead sea gull and had the worse feeling that it might be the watcher bird from the street light, but when I looked up he was there watching over a bunch of baby seagulls awkwardly flying about and I forgot all about the deceased bird. I wonder what tomorrow brings?

Friday, July 1, 2011

An interesting day

Tuesday morning...after a long spell of grey, windy and wet mornings finally the sun had blessed us with her presence. The tops of the trees were totally still. This is usually how I gauge if I shall bike to work or not as wind is the enemy when on two wheels. Yes, A perfect day to head off to work on my bike. I had been waiting patiently as Mother Nature made all the decisions for me. What a beautiful morning. The water under the bridge a sheet of glass. How I wished I was in a kayak, but since this was not going to happen I would embrace and enjoy my 4.5 km ride to work. Even the pollution control plant looked lovely as I rebelliously glided on the pavement near the water, not on the bike path on the other side of the road as I should have been.
Yes, this was going to be a glorious day and I knew it.
I arrived at work, panniers in tow, loaded with everything I needed for my great day ahead. I get to the locker room unpack my bags that held everything I needed, a nice healthy lunch, including my freshly made veggie wrap, soy milk, and an orange.
I start to get organized for my shower:
Summery skirt, TICK, pretty little lemon yellow sweater, TICK, ultra feminine pink bra with lace, tiny rhinestone between the boobs, TICK, white tank top for under pretty little sweater cause its a little thin, TICK,
Shoes with heels and toes as required by the workplace, TICK, Sockettes so my feet do not get sore in said regulation shoes, TICK, name tag , so people know I work here, TICK, lab coat, TICK, accessories perfect for this day...a big orange flower necklace with matching orange earrings, TICK, Panties carefully chosen this morning, DEAR GAWD WHERE ARE MY PANTIES????? SHIT, BALLS, dEVIL, i HAVE LEFT THEM AT HOME ON THE BED. NO TICK! Panic. My skirt is knee length with huge flowers on it. This previously unimportant fact, the length of my skirt,
becomes very relevant.
I wear my biking pants on my bike, ya know to feel all bikerish, and they have a built in crotch rendering underwear wearing useless especially if one is going to freshly shower in good time.
Now there are times & situations that I might choose to go commando, like soldiers surviving with "necessities only" underwear being deemed a luxury. This day was definitely not one of them. I work in a sterile enviroment, with strict rules surrounding cleanliness etc... And now I am acutely aware of my skirt sticking to my bare ass and all that goes with that.
Hmm..I think in a panic, serious internal dialogue going on... perhaps I can obtain a pair of those mesh panties they provide with Promise incontinence products...after all it is a hospital right? No, that's ridiculous, just carry on, go with the flow, DO NOT CONFESS THIS TO CO-WORKERS, that's just weird. (being a confessional type I tend not to be too good with my own secrets). Carry on...go to work, behave normally...
And so I did...behave normally that is, but it sure made for an interesting day, and not the type I anticipated.
Since I spend the morning sitting at a biological safety cabinet wearing a waxy gown I was stuck to my chair and the gown. I claimed I was SOOO cold and asked a co-worker to get a blanket for my legs. (It is cold because of the airflow, so this would not be unusual). I had a nice warmed hospital blanket draped on my legs. The afternoon is a different story, I walk around, I squat to retrieve things and so on.
Strange sensations for sure. Going down the stairs I became acutely aware of my nakedness, held my skirt in tight noting the people under the stairs through the gaps. Going to the bathroom was strange, but ever so easy. and while one would not think that a little pair of panties would hold one's access flesh together much I was strangely aware of my loose belly swishing back and forth and my generous butt bouncing about. Part of me kind of liked it, there was a certain freedom, and a feeling of keeping a little secret... if I must be honest...and I must, cause as we have established I am a confessional type. Wednesday I did confess to my co-workers, an otherwise serious bunch, who did get a good laugh out of it all. Let's just say I do not plan to do this fact I may just buy a brand new pair of Hanes Her Way and leave them in my locker. And YES, IT WAS AFTERALL AN INTERSTING AND GOOD DAY.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Robert Leo Oliver
Well, its Father's day again. Every year it comes, every year it goes. Usually it just slips by unnoticed by me, unless of course I go for brunch and can't get a seat, suddenly realizing that it is in fact Father's day and that's why there are so many people about celebrating. Today I decided not to let that happen. I would not let this day go by without thinking about my father.

It has been so long since the word "dad" had been part of my vocab that it feels weird even typing it.

My father died when I was young, eleven to be exact. My aunt arrived in her most serious form and as she leaned against our kitchen stove she told my brother and I, "Your dad is gone my Loves." Well, I didn't exactly know what she meant. Really I just wondered where he went and when he would be back. But somehow, I knew, what with all the tears and my aunt's serious face. I knew he was sick, but I had no idea how serious it was. I learned very quick meaning of words like "cancer" and "stroke" and so on.
Back then I was considered too young to go to a funeral. Its just as well. I can remember him alive and a comforting force. And so he went away...

Every day he would get up, wash with Ivory soap, & shave leaving tiny dark whiskers in the white sink. He would go off to work delivering other's fine furnishings for Osmonds Furniture. Sometimes he might bring home aspecial treat like my brand new pure white dresser. This was my pride and joy until my budding artist sister, whom I have since forgiven for this, saw only a fresh white canvas as she did her best work with her red crayon.

Every night he would come home, sit down for supper, bless himself, eat, have some tea and then sit in his big green lazy boy, sport his thick reading glasses and examine with great interest the Evening Telegram. Then we might watch Bonanza which I pretended to like cause it meant spending more time with my dad.

Every Sunday he would sport his best hounds tooth polyester pants and white dress shirt and I my white turtle neck and jumper and off we would go to mass. It was he who fostered in me the fear of God without once raising his voice to me. Always letting me sing loud at folk mass, always letting me place the envelope in the velvet lined collection plate. I was full of joy when we set out for the House of the Lord, but only cause I was with my dad.

With my dad I picked my first pair of fashionable road runners, a hefty $17.00 purchase. Now, I realize that was a lot of money! With him I chose my first pair of stop signed shaped eye glasses from the cheap section at Mitchell's and felt great about it.

Every Tue. night, we would drive to my grandmother's house and I would go to Brownies with my aunt, feeling safe knowing he was waiting just down the street. On the way home we'd stop at Sunrise Confectionery and I would be allowed to fill a small paper bag with penny candy as he chose his
Rothman's from behind the counter. Swedish berries, and Fun Dips, Orange Pineapple for him and Rainbow ice cream for me, Dixie cups eaten with a wooden spoon. A bag of hostess chips for John, and "something for the little one".

And who could forget the old Dodge Dart he and a neighbor attempted to hand paint and were so proud of. think they wanted beige and red. It was more like peach and red.

I went everywhere with my dad. Visits with his step mother "Mrs. Oliver" on her farm with free roaming wild and crazy turkeys with scary bulbous masses hanging from their chins, gathering caplin at St. Phillips, walks to the Janeway apartments playground, camping in the back of the furniture truck, fishing in the water supply area, rescuing my brother from quick sand, getting the Christmas tree from the woods, falling asleep in his arms.

And of course, trips to clean up the family plot. He trimmed the grass, picked up the mess, layed flowers while I played with the rocks. The best part though, of family plot day was sitting on the cement frame (which defined our dead family's space) and eating bologna sandwiches and drinking Pepsi in the sunshine with my dad. Ah...the family plot... He lives there himself now.

Yes today I will honor and remember my/our father who instilled in me a healthy dose of self esteem. His spirit with me always...He was a great dad, and he would have been a wonderful grandfather too.
Happy Father's day to all dads...and to me I remember.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Inch by Inch Row by Row...

Well, I planted my garden for this year. A beautiful array of delicious veggies. I love the feeling of being down on my knees digging in the earth. There is something about the smell of freshly dug earth, something about the anticipation, the possibilities, the nurturing. Now I certainly don't claim to be an expert gardener. This is really only the second year I've done this.(I don't count year one when everything died and planted the wrong beans). Last year my little garden yielded enough bright red tomatoes to share with friends and make some salsa and sauces. I had enough squash for well into the winter, enough fresh cucumber to have a few good salads.
Now, I haven't gotten to the point where I have the urge to pickle or bottle anything, so there was lots of food to share. I'm not sure what it will yield this year. I've tried a few new things like eggplant and leeks. Who knows how that will go? Really, I like the not knowing, watching,plants grow taller and more full. I'm not rushing summer by any means but since Fall will happen anyway, I can't wait to walk out to my garden, pick a few onions for my soup, grab a cucumber & a tomato and make a fresh sandwich. It's such a good feeling knowing I planted this food.
I planted lots of herbs too, tasty and ready to use. Trying a new one I found called pineapple sage. Feels a little funny to do that with sage, but it's tasty and attractive and would be great in a fruit salad or a green salad. I dislike buying "fresh" herbs at supermarket...them, all tucked in their plastic packaging, bound together with an elastic...they don't feel so fresh.
I'm just glad I was able to take the time, the whole day in fact which seems to stand still when I'm in my garden as evidenced by my sun burnt forearms.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"Finishing Something Frees Up Energy"

It's Sunday already. I promised myself that I was gonna post something today. I've been thinking about it now for at least two days. I considered so many options but they all seemed boring and forced. I don't like that feeling. (Perhaps this is why I have not been posting regularly) Then I was flipping through a notebook that I use in my writer's group & I came across the above quote from my friend Yvette. All of a sudden it made sense to me. I also had just finished reading a post by a FB friend about her finishing a 5k and having reached her goals. Then I remembered my first 5k and what a good feeling finishing something actually is. It is freeing... so what's wrong with me...don't I want to be free? Weird...just as I write this, I'm sure coincidentally, there is a song playing with the lyrics "don't you want to live free?" it's all a bit witchy. (DOBACARACHOL is the name of the group I'm listening to, and I have not listened to this in so long) I am such a procrastinator.
I know this. I AM A PROCRASTINATION TOOL. At my writer's retreat I was having trouble getting motivated so I wrote a monologue about procrastinating. The words came easily. Within minutes I had a 10 min monologue ready to go. Don't get me wrong; I'm proud of it. It's funny, it's a sarcastic reflection that I am sure many writers can relate to, and really it's a bit of a record of my weekend with 7 of my favorite people, but I was avoiding writing all the good juicy stuff, the stuff I should be writing. The burning house (as Anne Simpson called it in a workshop I once took with her)... Well, I mostly avoid burning houses, but...guess I gotta go in if I want to rescue the story.
It's true, the whole "frees up energy" idea...I made pasta sauce first thing this morning, now it's gone from my head ...welcome energy to use for my writing. I baked a great choc cake...excellent, welcome...more energy. More energy to work on my novel. I finally get it so I'm gonna need to finish this post soon cause i need the energy to run from the burning house if I have to, or to stay there, finish the story and deal with the heat of it all.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened...

Let me reintroduce myself; it has been too long. I'm Liza...AND...

I love the thick and juicy burgers my friend Andre whips up. We call them Dre burgers and I look forward to them especially this time of the year. I watch with sweet anticipation as he smacks the meat jammed packed with all its secret ingredients from hand to hand forming the perfect disk, knowing I'll soon be biting into one of these tasty delights. I look forward to a steak, med rare, thrown on the BBQ and the onions sauteed in all it's meaty juices. I am the one who loves the fresh sausage at the farmer's market. I sometimes cook a roast on a Sunday afternoon just to have the aroma seep through the house. When hamburger is on sale I buy pounds of it. I always order the meat lovers pizza. Pulled pork...well hold me back. kibbi, well, I'll have a side order of that. I grew up on Bologna in all it's marvelous forms. I never know what to cook for vegetarian friends.

So when I woke up a vegetarian about a month ago it really confused me. I thought I was done with identity crisis. That's right, with no explicable reason I woke up one morning not caring if I ever ate meat again, not wanting too. In fact, I was a bit repulsed by the thoughts of devouring animal tissue to get my required nutrients. Nothing happened. I did not see the movie Food Inc. (many have since asked me this question) I did not see rotten meat, road kill, or have a bad experience. In fact the night before I enjoyed some great ribs and some meaty lasagna. I could not and currently can't think of any reason for this strange twist in my taste buds.

Initially I was in denial. I went shopping as usual. Straight to the meat dept as usual. I couldn't"t do it. I had to get away from there quickly. Well, I had no choice but go with my body's instructions. I assumed I would resume my normal habits as soon as I started making sense again. Nope, It has been a month and the urge has not yet returned. Although I am not yet calling myself a vegetarian (sounds so committal and limiting??) I have no desire to return to my life as a carnivore. WEIRD!!!!!

THEN A FUNNY THING HAPPENED...I started to feel better, spiritually and physically...though I had no idea I could feel better or that my body felt badly. SMART BODY!!! Then, in seeped the protein panic. I have always admired vegetarians, but wondered about protein. I mean in my previous state of mind I could only imagine consuming so many nuts, cheese, peanut butter etc...

Since then i have learned so much more. I've discovered a whole new world of spices and foods rich in everything I need. I've made a nut loaf, veggie lasagna, parsnip and ginger soup, quiche, a tomato and basil pizza. I've discovered corn pasta, kamut pasta. I'm having fun with quinoa, ...and...and...and...It has been an exciting gastronomical adventure, but not yet a challenge.

I love eating this way.

I've looked for answers. I've tried to blame hormones perhaps...but I can't find any biological explanation for any of this. I don't know where its going, how long it will last, but I am enjoying the transformation thus far and the process of becoming a vegetarian. MAYBE (-;
I'd be interested in hearing stories of why you chose to be/why you are vegetarian. Thanks to my friend Andre Comeau for the pics.