Thursday, September 29, 2011

for carol

i answered the phone only to hear my father's upset voice..."listen! carol just died!"  all the air in my lungs escaped and before i could inhale i gasped "shut up!" and for those of you who don't know my father - he's not a man who easily does that- but he did. and so over phone lines i knew his message was true. over phone lines we shared silence, the stillness of allowing our hearts to take on a different shape.  expanding with love and shuddering with the notion of life without carol. remind me to ask my dad to work on his delivery skills.  then i knew i had to write- write this piece to honour her.  but carol can't lose her life because carol is life! just say her exudes an energy that won't ever leave this realm.  carol is many things but mainly carol is.
i was lucky to spend a couple of years with her - roommates.  i was 19 she was 45.  what a blessing that was to be mothered so subtly to grow a friendship that led to her becoming my tell everything aunt, my inspiration, my trust in the creator, my maid of honour, my rock.
i always looked forward to hearing her at the end of the line with her vibrant greeting "how ya doin' kiddo?!" and even though i never hesitated to connect with her the thing about having a rock like carol is when you call her to declare the injustice of some particular experience you can count on her to be loyal to fairness - it never failed- the sentence that inevitably began with "in all fairness..." which in most cases has you analyzing the situation in an entirely different perspective that usually points out your over-reaction.  not exactly the outcome you were looking for but usually the advice you needed.
carol is the definition of grit.  that certain quality that motivated her to go above and beyond.  it showed up in her passion for work and her love of her family, friends, colleagues and animals.  she pushed through adversity no matter what. like 16 days without power in the ice storm of 1998. 9 of those days without telephone service and a scared silly niece trying to act brave in what seemed to me like a life or death situation but to carol it was more like winter camping.  she relocated the entire contents of her fridge and freezer into dugout compartments in the snowbanks of the path to her home-did i mention her aptitude for being thrifty? she started dinner at 6 am in her dutch oven on top of her wood stove, hauled bucket by bucket of water for the "nags" from the creek by snowshoe! encouraging her very reluctant and fashion conscious niece to try a pair on, then boosting my esteem with her signature cheer " atta girl!" she cooked eggs outside on her coleman stove, beaming and reminding me to thank my grandmother and all the hardworking women of our past.
oh! and the sight of carol swiftly travelling by moonlight from the barn to the house only wearing a small towel and snowshoes, entering the house soaking wet, shampoo in her hair, laughing hysterically trying to ask me where the jerry can was because the generator had run out of gas while she tried to shower....and me horrified that she'd die of hypothermia and leave me alone in the sheer disaster that was this ice storm!
but no. she had only lessons of survival and stories of grandma in the height of the feminist movement telling her she was crazy because just when women had all they need, laundry service, dishwashers, microwaves, food processors and tupperware she wanted to work outside the home! and on days when we'd be up at 5:30 just to get to work on time after chores we'd laugh and agree - maybe grandma was right?!
we all have our memories, glimpses of special moments- many that occurred at precisely 9 o'clock each evening when carol would connect with her sister robin.  too many phone calls to remember - but what always inspired me was the commitment to their sisterhood.  they were each others constants, sure as the stars in the night sky...sometimes full of surprises - like carol hollering for me at 2 am in the dead of winter to "get down here!"  confused, half asleep, protesting she's pushing me out the door in duck boots and a down coat insisting "just trust me!" the two of us shivering in our night gowns, sitting on top of fences that some of you helped us build. staring up at the night sky - dancing green, blue and pink - the northern lights.
i was a confused young woman who wound up on burnt lands road. an experienced farm hand, but also a real pain in the butt! carol always believed in the genuine good in people and trusted with her whole heart that goodness would prevail.  my time on her farm shaped who i am today.  one particular night over young love heartache, tears and home brew she was trying to convince me "he wasn't worth it." she said " just wait until you're in your thirties! your thirties are the best time in your life! you're still as hot as you were in your twenties, but you'll have all the confidence you're lacking now."  i like to think she was right again...really though, that was seriously good advice. i expected confidence.
when i first started sharing stories of romance on the campus of ottawa u she'd soak them up and say she was living vicariously through me.  but shortly after i arrived on the farm tom showed up.  slowly over dinners the conversation shifted. she'd share a few stories and tom...she was smitten.
it was the happiest i remember her.  she said it over and over again "that man brings out the best in me."  thank you tom for being just what she needed - because for a little while all that vicariously living talk made me a tad bit nervous...
last weekend i spoke with carol.  she said she was proud of me, proud of who i've become.  at the time i laughed it off, no response.  partly because it meant so much to me to hear her say that, and partly because i thought it was funny! i still had so much to learn before i felt i would be anything like her. the woman i always hoped to turn out like. now that's something to be proud of.
carol took care of me.  you are all here for the same reason.  carol is the most reliable person in the universe.  if you need her, she'll be there.  i'm sure she'd want me to say...nothing has changed. 
carol will still be our rock.  love does not come to an end.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

pick yourself up...dust yourself off...start all over again

the title of this post are lyrics to the chorus of a great peter tosh song.  it's a song that i listen to when i need a reminder to find gratitude in the face of adversity..(i almost wrote disaster)

 i have never known disaster.  just like i have never known hunger or poverty.
yesterday nesta asked me "are we were poor?"
i said "no".
he said "i heard you say that on the phone."
i said "mom most not have been thinking straight." 
he said " you said it..." then he said..."well we're not rich."
 i said "it depends on what you value."
he said "money is value isn't it?"
oh boy....i could continue to transcribe our conversation but i think i'll try and capture the moment with my own words.
i told him the things i, love,peace, being comfortable.  that's what we are: comfortable.  there's just enough money. and i'm happy being comfortable.  i told him that i know nothing about  poverty. i've never faced the fear and struggle to find food and shelter.  or had to wear shoes until there was nothing left but a sole tied around my bare foot with a frayed shoelace. i've never prepared a meal from the dumpster outside a restaurant, or slept under a bridge.  i've never traveled mile after mile under the hot sun to fetch water, and then travel again only to fetch wood so i could boil the water so i don't get sick from drinking it. so yes i'm comfortable.  and i hope we stay comfortable for all my days. and i hope to the gods that i never again hear myself nonchalantly saying "we're poor."
nesta said "me too."


it's been a while since i've been here.  i'm always thinking about great blog posts, and never seem to have time to write. so today...sunny saturday afternoon at womb to grow...i write.

i met gordon neufeld!!!! do know who that is? author of one of the most amazing books i have ever read 'hold on to your kids'
he is such an amazing speaker! and his message is fantastic.  i'm not going to try and cover the three days worth of information i learned at the conference but there are definitely a few things i should share.
relationship matters.  it's not how much you love your's how much your child loves you.  more and more our culture is shifting into a culture that does not support attachment based parenting.  it's starting to sound so cliche. attachment parenting...oooo it's so trendy, and it's all about the crunchy, granola, earth mothers.  no, i'm sorry you're wrong.  main stream early parenting practices should be what's considered "alternative" and attachment based parenting should have stayed the norm. but the shift has happened and it's our job as mature adults to become informed, and do what's best for our children.  it's going to take all of you to pick up one book, and see if you can connect with it's message...if so we have a chance.
winston is no longer in daycare.  he needs to be with his mother, and he and i both knew that. it has nothing to do with the child care centre ( i love that place) it has more to do with my relationship with my son.  he turned three on tuesday. three!! that blows my mind. 
 i am so lucky to have had a second child.  to understand fully how fast the time passes, and how with each year that goes by i watch my children become more and more independent...and to be's hard.  holding on to your kids is hard.  with winston, i am honouring every minute of his early childhood, every moment he says "i need you" i pause and soak it in.  it won't be long when i won't be hearing those words form him any longer. so for now...i'm one hundred percent happy to be needed...even at 2 in the morning.

one parenting practice that dr.neufled encourages parents to try out is so simple and makes so much sense.  when a child offers you a token of love and matter what! no matter what kind of crappy day you had at work, or how many collections agencies left messages on your phone, or that there's nothing to make for matter what! YOU'VE GOT TO TRUMP IT!!
that mean's for every hug back ten times harder. for every kiss you give back kisses all over, for every "i love you" you scream " I LOVE YOU MORE!!" try it...see what a difference it makes!those kids just soak it up.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

fernie foodie fri(sat)day

do you have any idea the amount of dedication and intelligence it takes to meal plan?  if this was a subject in university i'd have a phd! yeah doctor dinner is served!  speaking of which...what happened to home economics?  do they even teach that in school anymore?  i'm thirty two years old, and i just learned how to create a household budget!  what is wrong with that statement?  i took home economics, economics, business, finance, and a host of 'electives' and no where a long the way did anyone ever mention personal spending analysis or household budget...that is messed up! wheeeeew...okay on to my week in the kitchen. on monday i was down to the bare minimum in the pantry..ya'll know the feeling? i ended up making a mushroom beef casserole and house salad.

you guys know the routine...get it all out.  look at this photo, i'm working with the scraps here!in the bowl is frozen spinach.
we did have some ground beef in the freezer, so the dish ended up having a bit of umph after it was all said and done.  nesta wandered into the kitchen, early into the preparation, so i put him to work...home economics 101.
next i prepped my veggies and shredded the cheese, i was going for a really cheesy casserole, but i think i made too much pasta, because it didn't have cheese oozing from it like i'd hoped for.  that's a beaten egg in the glass jar, i also wanted my casserole to stick together...hence the egg...i don't know what happened? it was pretty much just pasta in a casserole dish
i started the pasta after my meat had browned and i added the vegetables to it.

dan had purchased some flavoured cream cheese last week, so i thought...hmmm? roasted red peppers? sure!

popped it in the oven, made the salad and...dinner is served. see? phd material...and i'm still a believer in minimalism with food waste, so even though i didn't have enough veggie scraps for stock, i zip-loc it 'till i do.
by tuesday night i still hadn't gone to the grocery store, although i asked everyone i saw that day what they were making for dinner.  my friend ally said " it's ten dollar tuesday at the pizza shoppe!" i told her about my new job and then i said " we're trying to save money, so i don't want to spend even ten dollars on pizza" when she left that day she handed me twenty bucks and said "here let me buy you dinner order a couple of pizzas" you can imagine my refusal! still i ended up with that twenty in my pocket and she would not take it back.  so thanks ally, but you should know i didn't buy pizza.  i bought flour, pizza sauce, mozzarella and yeast.  i had planned on bringing her a homemade pizza, but they didn't last long, so i'll have to do that another time. i asked my friend carrie what she was making and she promptly replied "steak" i thought....good idea. simple.

i still had a bit of produce kickin' around, so i stopped by 'backcountry meats' on my way home and picked up a couple of cheap cuts, roasted a squash in maple syrup , cinnamon and cranberries, and made a broccoli salad.  all for $11.67

i like to the tone there? SMOTHER! my steak in crushed garlic and salt & pepper.
the salad was composed of broccoli, swiss chard,cucumber, carrot, yellow pepper, onion, raisins and a creamy balsamic dressing

now don't forget about ally.  that woman is so ya ally!  but really i just couldn't use that twenty dollars to order in, my conscious physically wouldn't allow me to pick up the phone, so instead i used it to buy ingredients to make four pizzas that i could freeze for days like tuesday when i have no idea what to make for supper.(also with the intent of bringing one to ally...that didn't happen!) i know some of you are waiting for this recipe...sorry i haven't gotten around to emailing you yet. get out your pen and paper, 'cause i'm gonna blog it...yup blog it!
two and a quarter cups flour, two teaspoons quick rise yeast, a quarter teaspoon salt, one table spoon caster sugar.  don't worry i didn't know what caster sugar was either...turns out it's super fine graulated sugar. now don't go spending all your hard earned money on sugar...just put some sugar in your blender and bam! instant caster sugar. store in a glass jar.
mix dry ingredients and add one cup of warm water. knead for ten minutes until smooth

place in oiled bowl, covered in a warm spot and let rise 15 minutes
i forgot to take a picture of the risen dough, but i quadrupled the recipe so it was HUGE!punch down, knead another five minutes, roll out and place on ungreased pizza pan.  top with your favourite pizza toppings. this recipe is for one pizza dough. here's the photo journal of the rest of my little pizza dough making frenzy!

by the time  i was done, i didn't feel like topping them, so i just threw them in the freezer like that, and the rest of the week we pulled them out for lunches and dinners.
after work on wednesday i went grocery shopping...finally! we're on a fairly tight budget, who am i kidding, my bidget is so tight it squeaks! so i'm in martha stewart everyday food magazine withdrawl ...on wednesday i relapsed.  i bought one.  i just love all the recipes and i especially love the weekly meal planner with a shopping list! hello? genius! but...what i've come to realize is that i HATE cooking from recipes.  my mum use to say "don't say HATE tanya, it's such a harsh word" well works here okay?
let's try this...spicy potatoes and peas with chicken
first chop, and parboil the spuds, then set aside...i saved the water for my peas...h20 conservation always ladies and gents!
brown the chicken and boil the peas

after both sides of chicken are browned, throw it in the four hundred degree oven and roast. (important to use oven safe skillet)
while chicken is roasting prepare seasoning. thats's cumin, corriander, cayenne, salt and pepper, onions, garlic, fresh lemon juice, and parsley. 
once chicken is roasted, remove from pan, in pan juices fry potatoes, seasoning and peas...NOTE: DO NOT GRAB HANDLE OF PAN WITHOUT OVEN MIT...don't say i didn't warm you...ahem.. thanks for nothing martha!

and remember the veggie scraps i saved at the beginning of the week? i pulled 'em from the fridge,  added the chicken bones...and voila... more stock...chicken stock.

next up thursday night...another martha inspired evening. cajun meatballs, couscous and roasted carrots. editors note: roasted carrots rule! sweeter than you can handle!
this recipe uses the same spice mixture as the chicken, so that saves a step because you've already made extra. plus cilantro, cinnamon, and an egg.

cut up the carrots , toss 'em in a bit of olive oil and roast 'em in a three hundred and fifty degree oven for twenty minutes.
ask your two year old to help out...and be prepared for a few mishaped meatballs...that's okay!

when the hubby gets home, get him to lend a hand...
couscous is the easiest...tone again...EASIEST side dish on the face of the planet! just add hot water.  but...being my mother's daughter, i had to add onions and garlic. those are scallions.

 martha's recipe for this particular couscous called for toasted almonds...dan's allergic to almonds, but i happened to have some, becasue i put sprouted almonds in my smoothies in the mornings. so i tried toasting sprouted almonds...not such a fantastic idea, i think they were just too moist to be toasted

so that was my week in the kitchen...i've decided that i'm not going to post fernie foodie friday every week (sorry hannah) i think if i'm inspired to share a meal or two on this blog, i will, but seeing how it's saturday and i'm relieved to have finished this post i'll take that as a sign.  i do however, have to share a little extra footage that i found on my camera...i think dan secretly LOVES my blog.  i didn't make these cookies...hint hint;)