Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Wrap-up & Challenge results

I am tired after the whirl of the holidays. Tomorrow we'll have some lunch with family and the madness will be over for another year. We did manage to get in some relaxing time, but it never seems to be enough...
Regardless we had a wonderful time, with friends and family, lots of snow, and I am pleased with my results for the Holiday No Plastic Challenge. We received gifts containing plastic but gave out very few. I think in total only 3 out of 30ish had plastic. Our gifts to Ky were his birthday rocking horse pictured above. And his FSC certified block set pictured below.

I gave out many fun gifts that I found at various Craft Fairs around the Lower Mainland. These tree ornaments are made of beeswax.

These mini trees are made of recycled residential woods: cherry and pear. I love giving wood as a gift for the tactile quality and for durability while being biodegradable.

This scarf was purchased from a very creative woman. I think her work is great, and her prices were so reasonable. My sister was really happy to get this for those cold eastern winters.

We were very blessed with wonderful gifts this year. But more than that we are so blessed with a wonderful network of people around us. I am very grateful for my family and friends. Happy New Year to those who celebrate it tonight. Dave and I were planning a fancy dinner out, but timing issues made the plans fall through. We thought we'd post-pone to another night when we can be out early and back early to put Ky to bed. Whether your plans have you out partying or curled up at home, have a wonderful night, and happy 2009 to you all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Art of the Month: December

"The Birthing Year" 9" x 9" 2007-08

This piece has hung in our bedroom for the last year. I made this several years ago, more as an exercise than anything else. This symbol can be found in the book: Virgin Mother Crone by Donna Wilshire. There are four similar drawings titled "Woman displayed" or "Birth-Giver". I drew these out in a note book many years ago. They inspire me, they are images of power and strength. Since I was about to give birth when we moved into our current home, I put this piece up to focus my energy. I gazed at this image while giving birth and I have looked at it many times during the past year, while up late at night breastfeeding, or rocking Ky to sleep etc. Last week a new idea popped into my head. Name this almost past year "The Birthing Year" and label the back of the quilt block. At the beginning of each year I will make a new one with a new symbol and name it at the end of the year. I will keep them until I have enough to start joining them together. Eventually I'll have a quilt that will chronicle my life, a memory keeper. These will be very personal and just for me. The symbol I have chosen for this year is: triple spiral. Obviously since we are now three this one speaks to my family life, but it also represents magic on many levels. These spiral symbols are found carved in to stone and date far back in to pre-history. They are aesthetically pleasing to the eye and reminders of the eternal cycle of life.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kyan's Birth Story

Kyan almost a year and almost walking on his own

A few days old, December 2007

First photo after birth, pink and perfect.

In honour of my son's first birthday I wanted to record his birth story in every detail that I can recall. For some reason I haven't done this yet, but I think I was waiting for this much perspective, a year of being a mother...

**as a disclaimer I am candid about bodily things in this post. For those who do not enjoy reading about clinical details of birth...proceed with caution.**
My pregnancy was good. I had a few hiccups: nausea, extreme fatigue early on, and near the end I could not get rid of a yeast infection. That was the hardest part for me, it was so uncomfortable and I cut sugar out in a effort to stop it; which was really hard. The risk to the baby was that he/she could pick-up thrush. An annoying mouth affliction that we could have passed back and forth. Luckily he did not get it. Now onto the birth story...

Christmas eve 2007, began like any other evening. I had cleaned and prepared most of the day for our annual xmas eve gift exchange/eating extravaganza. We had moved into our new townhouse the month before. I had finished working on the Friday the 21st and planned to have three weeks to clean, nest and prepare for our first baby's arrival. The baby was due on January 15th. I was nine months pregnant, so there was only so much that I could scrub and do but I bustled around and made it as nice as possible. The party began at 6pm and we had the usual chaos of food preparation, laughter, kids playing and jolly-merry making. I ate as much of the lovely food as I could fit into my tiny stomach, and even indulged in a piece of chocolate cake despite my sugar restriction. Unknown to me, Heidi told Matt that she thought I would give birth early. Something about my overall look and vibe. I can remember being very impatient, tired and uncomfortable. I did have some false contractions (or I thought they were), but I had no idea that anything was happening. The week before at my midwives appointment they had had a hard time finding the baby's head. They thought it was low, so Janice (who ended up delivering Ky) did an internal exam to make sure the head was down. It was, and she actually touched his head and he moved. I was 1 cm dilated. I was excited to hear that, but you can be 1 cm dilated for weeks so I did not assume that I would be early.
Everyone left our place around 11pm. Dave and I cleaned up and went to bed around midnight. I noticed as I was getting ready that I was having mild contractions, I remember saying to Dave that I understood why some women throw-up during labour because of how the contractions pulse through the abdomen and the stomach is squeezed right in there. I tried to sleep, but 15 minutes later I had had two steady contractions and they were strong enough that I knew I could not sleep through them. Both of us were in denial and were sure it was false labour. Dave started a bath for me and lit a candle. I willingly rested in the bath and breathed through the contractions. Dave decided to write down the time intervals. I kept remembering our birthing class and how the teacher had said that it wasn't real labour until contractions were 60 seconds long. Here I am sitting in the bath and some are 60 seconds, some are 20, some are 45, I have no clue if this is the real thing. I had no concept of time but around 2:30am Dave told me that they were steady and I got out of the bath. We were debating whether to call Heidi, who was going to be with us for the labour and birth, and then I noticed bloody show(the mucus plug coming out). This was when I realized that it was happening for real. We called Heidi shortly after. It took several tries to get through to her. Luckily her partner is a lighter sleeper than her. She arrived around 3am and after one last head shake Heidi assured us that I was in labour and we should call the midwife.
We had planned to have a home birth. A rule in British Columbia is that you must be 37 weeks or more to have a home birth. Midnight (aka Christmas Day) was exactly 37 weeks to the hour. Janice went to the clinic to get my files and then headed over. I did talk to her on the phone, I know that Midwives use this time to assess if the labour is in fact active. I talked to her between contractions and then passed the phone to Dave because I was unbelievably nauseous during the contractions. I held this blue plastic bin in front of me while riding the waves. It seemed unfair to have to ride two at once. Heidi would always take the bin away from me in between contractions and I would beg for it back as soon as one would hit. Finally I stood up for a contraction and I vomited. What a relief that was. I have never felt such relief from puking. Now it was only one wave to deal with.
Janice checked my dilation after she had set up all of her supplies. In my mind the number 8 was repeating itself over and over. She smiled and told us that I was 8 centimeters. I'm not sure what I would have done if I wasn't at 8 cm, I may have thought that I couldn't keep going. But that number was what I needed to hear. The whole time I laboured I was in a small area at the end of our bed in our bedroom and to the connecting bathroom. Probably a span of 10 feet, back and forth. I spent most of my time on the floor, knelling, rocking and moaning. My hips ached as Ky moved down the birth canal. My water broke when I was on the toilet. It felt like a pop, but I could not feel much water coming out. Somehow Janice was able to see that the water was nice and clear. How? I have no idea. Things got very intense after that. I expected to go to "Labour land" as our birthing teacher had called it. During contractions I did, but in between I stayed very alert. Pushing was hard. I did not want to be on my back, but I ended up propped up on Dave. I was so tired by then that I didn't care where I was, or how I was. I just wanted to get the baby out. I pushed for an hour and a half. My vulva was not very quick at stretching. I muttered about giving up several times. In between contractions I would pass out with the fatigue. They tried to use a mirror to encourage me, apparently it helps some women be more motivated in pushing, but I involuntarily closed my eyes when I was pushing. The sensation was so overwhelming, it took over my body and I had no control. I think I touched his head during the time he crowned. Once his head was out it only took one small push and there he was. Janice put him on my belly. I remember feeling Dave shake with sobs as I pushed Ky out. I always thought I would cry, but I think the shock and exhaustion made that impulse delayed. Ky was on my stomach while we waited for the placenta. I could not pull him up because the umbilical cord was short. Heidi said "it's a boy" first. Which was fitting because I said "it's a boy" when her son Sage was born. I stroked him, and remember thinking that he looked like his Daddy. He was born at 7:17 am and 7 lbs, pretty good for 3 weeks early. He grunted a bit after birth. But otherwise he was so perfect and healthy. We only had one boy name picked out. Kyan(pronounced like Ryan), which is a Celtic name and means: ancient. After my placenta was delivered and Janice had sewn up my tear, she encouraged me to go to the washroom. She passed Ky to Dave to hold and seeing the two of them together welled me up. Heidi helped me get cleaned up, and then I had some tea, and just marveled in the fact that it was over and I had done it. Dave and I were so lucky to have such a great team with us, and a healthy baby. The total labour time was 7 hours 17 minutes for me. I was really happy with that. It seems the number 7 is going to feature in Ky's life, or maybe it is our number together. I don't know much about numerology.

Yesterday was Ky's birthday party. We had a wonderful day with family and friends. It was small and simple and Ky was so relaxed he took a nap before cake time. I wish you a happy second year of life my son, your first has been the greatest of my life and I am so lucky to be your mom. Happy Birthday Kyan. And I will wish myself a happy birthing day, time flies... and I'm trying to make the most of it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Poem of the Month: December

I read this poem every year on Solstice.  It brings out the truth and wonder .

To Juan at Winter Solstice
by Robert Graves

There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether are learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.

Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,
Or strange beasts that beset you,
Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?
Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns
Below the Boreal Crown,
Prison of all true kings that ever reigned?

Water to water, ark again to ark,
From woman back to woman:
So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never altered circuit of his fate,
Bringing twelve peers as witness
Both to his starry rise and starry fall.

Or is it of the Virgin's silver beauty,
All fish below the thighs?
She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;
When, with her right she crooks a finger smiling,
How may the King hold back?
Royally then he barters life for love.

Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?

Much snow is falling, winds roar hollowly,
The owl hoots from the elder,
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses
There is one story and one story only.

Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,
Do not forget what flowers
The great boar trampled down in ivy time.
Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,
Her sea-blue eyes were wild
But nothing promised that is not performed.

Happy Solstice everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Giving Back

Just a short note today about giving back. We are not rolling in the money by any means, but we try to put our money where it really counts. One decision we made was to purchase our Yule tree from a charitable source. We found Aunt Leah's they have two Christmas tree lots in the lower mainland and their tree sales are their main fundraiser for the year. Aunt Leah's Independent Lifeskills Society fosters children and mothers in need of support on the road to self-sufficiency. They have a great selection on trees, I thought of Mrs. B when they mentioned the Charlie Brown trees "as is for ten bucks". We will get our tree from Aunt Leah's each year, and teach Kyan the importance of choosing where you put your dollars. Our other donation this season was to a local food bank through Dave's work. I would like to become more involved in donating to food banks, perhaps even doing it 4 or 8 (each Sabbat) times a year. As we face these difficult times in the economy, more people than ever will need to draw on food banks, and they will need more support from everyone. What we were able to do this year is just a drop in the bucket, but we all know that many drops could fill that bucket to overflowing. Do what you can, and have a blessed holiday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baking & Snow

Today was our first big snow. We don't get much snow here and it doesn't stay very long so it is always great to take advantage when it is here. Kyan was a bit indifferent but I'm sure when he can walk in it himself he'll take more notice. Yesterday was very busy with baking. I made my Gran's famous pan rolls for the first time. They turned out okay. I baked them a bit too long but better luck next time. They are going to be for our Solstice dinner (just Mom, Dad & Baby with our gift exchange) and I also made shortbread for the first time. Shortbread is tricky, I overcooked it a bit as well, but it tastes good and I separated the overcooked for us, and will give the nice ones to our neighbor and take some to a Yule party we are going to this weekend. I can't believe that it is only a week until Yule eve. I still have birthday party prep to do, and a few last gifts to get. I'm enjoying the season though. Our tree is great, I'll post some pics soon. I hope you are all well and are getting some cheer from the season.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Book of the Month: December

This month in honour of Yule I have chosen Sisters Of The Earth edited by Lorraine Anderson. This is a compilation of prose, poetry, journal entries, essays and more by ninety women writers. All of the pieces relate to nature in different ways. Writers include: Emily Dickinson, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Alice Walker, and Rachel Carson just to name a few.
My favorite story in this book is a journal entry written on Christmas day by Theodora Stanwell Fletcher (1906-1999). The entry is an exert from her book Driftwood Valley (1946) which is about her stay in north-central British Columbia, Canada many miles from "civilization" while collecting flora and fauna with her husband John for the British Columbia Provincial Museum at Victoria. I love to imagine the isolation of that time. Living in a tiny cabin in 50 below zero Celsius weather. No Internet hook up or cell phones to be found. The story is called: Christmas in Driftwood Valley. I try and read it each Christmas morning, as it is such a romantic notion to be alone in a snow filled bush (much more romantic to imagine when you are snug in a warm bed!) Here is a small sample that will give you the overall feel of the story:

"By the time dawn was coming we had scraped two peepholes in the frost on the panes; and we stood quiet to watch the winter sunrise. The radiant peaks of the Driftwoods, cut like white icing into pinnacles and rims against the apple-green sky, were brushed with pink, that, even as we watched, spread down and down and turned to gold. Rays of the sun, coming between the pointed firs of the east shore, stretched straight across the white lake, and as they touched it huge crystals, formed by the intense cold, burst into sparkling, scintillating light. The snow-bowed trees of the south and west shores were hung with diamonds; and finally the willows, around our cabin, were decked with jewels as large as robins' eggs that flashed red and green and blue. No Christmas trees decorated by human hands were ever so exquisite as the forested trees of this northern forest."

She goes on to describe their meal and a lovely adventure out in the snow before the temperature makes another dramatic drop. I also love how she concludes the story:

"Have we greatly missed the things that make Christmas Day in civilization? Other loved human beings, Christmas carols, wonderful food? I suppose so, but I think that this lack is more than made up for by the deep contentment of our healthy minds and bodies, by our closeness to and awareness of the earth, and of each other."

Sisters Of The Earth is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and provoking works. I cherish my copy and think that any one who enjoys short stories with a nature theme would love to read it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Green Yule Wrapping 101

Here are the finished morsbags. They seem to be very strong bags, and despite using them for Yule gift wrapping I chose to use fabrics that would work all year round.
I also stenciled "Love the Earth" on them with fabric paint. They look great folded up and tied with ribbon as below. A rule I had for myself in making them was to only use fabric that I already had. If you don't have a large stash of fabric you can always check out the ends bins at your local fabric store. This makes it much cheaper than buying fresh off the roll. I have not been shopping for fabric in a long time but when I go I usually check the ends bin first, often whatever colour or pattern I need will be in there.

Our family has a tradition of collecting tree ornaments. I decided to decorate some boxes I had around the house to keep them in. These are also a great way to wrap gifts. You can reuse the box each year. I wrapped them with festive fabric. You can use regular wrapping paper or decorate them with stickers etc. I use fabric because it lasts a long time. These will not fade or get ripped for many years to come. Shoe boxes, or any that have sturdy lids work well. You may want to reinforce the corners with tape just in case. All you need is fabric or paper, scissors, a ruler and a glue gun.

I had many of these little organza bags left over from Kyan's newborn clothing. They look great with coloured tissue paper and ribbon. Smaller gifts work perfectly with these. Being creative with wrapping is fun, and helps keep useful things out of the landfill. Happy wrapping!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harper & Compromise

The current political situation in this country is putting a damper on the magic of the season. I am really sick of Stephen Harper. He wants to run this country for the few, while spreading lies and putting forth a spirit of divisiveness. Prorouging the Parliament is the last thing we need. I am not sure if the Coalition is the best thing to do, but at least he needs to compromise. He is the Canadian George W. Bush. He only wants to "compromise" if it was his idea to begin with. The nature of the Parliamentary system is that the House of Commons needs to feel confidence in the leader. If they do not, then steps are taken to either remove that leader and select a new one, have an election or create a new leadership with a Coalition of the opposing parties. Since we just had an election we obviously can not incur the expense of another, so Harper should sit down with the opposition leaders and work out a plan. Instead he is talking about Canada's union being at risk (which it is not because the Bloq Quebecois are not in the Coalition), and accusing the "socialists" of trying to undermine democracy. Who is really trying to undermine democracy? Stephen Harper. His party was voted in to lead, but he has lost the confidence. He could step down or admit that he has insulted and mis-read the direction that our Members of Parliament think we should go in. Instead he has delayed any action to be taken by those Members until January. January may be too late for those Canadians who are in danger of losing their jobs. While Harper is cozy in 24 Sussex Drive for the holidays many Canadians will be wondering how long they can keep a roof over their heads.
I do not know everything about politics or how the country should be run, but I do know that Harper has never had my confidence, and this throws any chance he had of getting it down the tubes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Artful Pillows: Autumn

This week I am on the sewing bandwagon. I have finished my Autumn pillows and I've begun my Yule projects. I am making tote/grocery bags from I hope to have one per larger gift. I've set my sights at making ten. So far they are easy to make and so I think I should have them done by the end of the week. I've got some fabric paint so I'm going to paint a message on the side as well. I think they will be great gift wrap. I'll post images of them when I'm done.
When I finished assembling the pillows I realized that people may be interested in making their own. I'm sure there are lots of websites that give directions since pillows like these are very basic to make, but I will take photos of my Winter ones and post directions for anyone who is interested. Look for that post next year (probably late January or February).
After the bags are done I am making Kyan a stocking and re-doing Dave's. I made Dave's five years ago and did not have a sewing machine at the time. It turned out fine but it is too small, so I'm going to add some fabric along the outside. Keeping this all under control is challenging, but it seems to be going well so far. Its great to see all the Yule projects on every one's blogs. It helps to get my spirits up. Happy crafting!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Moon Cord Ritual Tool

One of the activities of my full moon ritual this month was making this Moon Cord. This cord is meant to be a tool for magical use. So if you want to wear it for moon energy, or keep it on your altar during the moons etc. it can really be used however you see fit. The concept of three in terms of New, Full and Dark moon, as well as Maiden, Mother, Crone; are a main theme in my spiritual practice. I think everyone can relate to this energy and I know for myself it cycles through my month.

Supplies you need: three pieces of cord, wool or string etc: One for each moon phase. I chose 3 colours: the new moon an iridescent pink woven with mauve, for the full moon a bright white woven with silver, and for the Dark moon black. I also included some shiny, silvery moon charms. I painted a wooden box with the triple Goddess Moon symbol to keep it in, when I gave the supplies to a friend as a gift.

After casting a circle, you light a candle as a focus for which your moon energy.
Next braid the three cords.
You are then ready to charge the cord.

Use three Goddess aspects for each phase. I chose these three based on my own preferences and my friend's as well. But personalizing this can only help with the magic. I chose Artemis, Isis and Hecate.

As Artemis leads us with her torch
To the spot deep in the wood where her silver new moon waxes,
I charge this cord with her strength of a lioness,
And her depth of the darkest forest

As Isis holds the knowing of our own wombs
With her gifts of renewable abundance
Her full moon reigns almighty
I charge this cord with her all-seeing third eye
And her ever constant gifts of truth

As Hecate holds the moon’s magnetic reins
With her ancient spells, letting the night sky rule dark and cool
I charge this cord with her old Heka magic
And her power as Mighty Queen of the Witches

So Mote it Be.

Once the aspects are drawn in to the cord knot it nine times. Since I used thick cord I could not knot it so I tied three moon charms on and knotted the embroidery floss three times on each charm. Leave it with the candle to charge under the moon energy. Try to store it wound in a circle to retain the charge.

As a little disclaimer, this is the first Spell type posting of mine. I am not the creator of this spell, but I no longer have the source of it either. I did change it, as I'm sure anyone who does it will further change it to suit their needs.

I would like to send a special blessing to the people of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) India, at this tragic time for the world. I pray that the seed of hatred that is trying to be sown by these terrorists is rejected and in it's place compassion and healing can grow. Namaste.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A quiet season

Take a little time to smell the rose hips...

Here I am after a birthday weekend of the flu. Not the best birthday gift I've ever received. One thing that being totally out of commission does for you is get you really motivated to get some work done. I have lists running for meals, gifts, & crafts I'd like to make. Not to mention lists for around the house tasks: move plants around, clean everything, baking, pillows to make, decorating for Yule. I'm already overwhelmed.
There is a stillness as well. Something that swept through me while I was sick; the thing that forced me to the couch and made me stay there for more than a day. It was obvious that I had not been listening to this force and so it had to take me over completely. The quite of this time of year, the darkness, the cold; it asks us to turn inward. Take the time to listen to your soul, watch the birds eat the last of the berries, feel the chill and the contrasting warmth under a blanket. I have a wish of stillness this season for us all. Peace & stillness to you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November so far...

Wow it has been quite a month for us. I have so many things plunking around in my head that it is almost impossible to pick a starting point. But I'll just dive in I guess, sorry this could be a long one.
The month began with the birth of Heidi's baby boy. You may remember that we had her blessingway in September (which seems like eons ago now). She gave birth to a 9lb boy on her own birthday. The birth was quick, and so I did not make it there in time. After much deliberation by his parents his name is: Lucian. We are so happy to have another boy to add to our heart family. He is adjusting well and the new family of four is too.
Weather wise the beginning of the month brought us lots of rain. Not unusual for this part of the world at this time of year, but it was torrential at times and some gutter/roof problem brought rain into our fireplace and half of our bedroom floor. During that time we slept in the guest room; to avoid the musty smelling carpet, changing bins of soot filled water out of the fireplace every ten minutes; lets just say it was challenging. That was cured by putting a tarp over the whole chimney area, and our carpet was cleaned. I hope that we can have a fire for Solstice but we'll have to wait and see...
The last week has been gorgeous for weather. Crisp fall days...which we don't usually get here. On Monday Dave and Ky and I went for a lovely walk. We came home with rosy cheeks. Ky and I walked yesterday to have tea with an old friend of mine. And again this morning we walked to the park so he could have a swing. He is nursing a cold though, so we didn't stay long.
Yesterday we had such a lovely morning, followed by a horrible afternoon. I turned my head for that proverbial second and Ky rolled off the change table! Oh my goodness I was so horrified. He landed on his back and head really hard. He let out a scream, that scared, hurt sound that sent my stomach into knots. He landed so hard that I was worried he may have a concussion. So I called Dave and he came home from work. We called the Nurses Hot Line and they recommended that we take him in to a doctor to be looked at. The doctor said he was fine, but to watch for symptoms of concussion. He has been fine today, I am so grateful that he was not badly hurt. The buckle now goes on as soon as I get him on the change table. I feel terrible about it. There is no excuse for making such a stupid mistake.
I have decided that I have difficulties on my odd years. What I mean by that is that tomorrow I turn 31. Now last year my birthday flew by. I was pregnant and had just moved, there was too much going on to reflect or turn inward. But I remember feeling like this the year I turned 27 and 29. This self-reflective and somewhat critical energy. I have been down on myself more than usual lately. I don't really care about aging, its not a mortality thing, just a malaise in my skin. I am dealing with these feelings in various ways: I planned and followed through with a ritual for the first time since June, I've chosen a course of spiritual study to keep my spiritual side challenged, and I'm working on my Autumn pillows. Yule plans are keeping me busy and I have started training for an at-home job. Mostly I'm trying to keep positive and let the negativity wash through me. I don't want to hold on to it, or store it anywhere in my body.
Tomorrow friends are coming over and we are having Thai food. Yum........challenges or no, 31 looks like it will be ok.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Art of the Month: November

Drawing Down the Moon, ink on paper, 2000

This piece is pretty literal. I did a whole series of work on the moon for an open media class. This touched on the witch's act of drawing down the moon. It is a very graphic piece for me, but I was trying to keep simplicity in mind. I wanted to capture the essence of many becoming one. Thirteen as One in the act of changing consciousness at will.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reduce & A No Plastic Yule

Today I planned to talk about the most important of the three R's. Reduce. Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess has issued a new challenge to her readers: The No Plastic Holiday Challenge. So I thought that since I signed up I would talk about both.
As I try each day to live a green lifestyle; Reducing my family's consumption is always on my mind. I do not shop everyday, that is a conscious choice. I try and shop the least amount possible. Our culture wants us to shop all the time and just feed the machine of consumption. I would hate having to go to a store everyday. So I plan out shopping, groceries are the necessity so they are once a week. Otherwise I leave shopping for special occasions or emergencies only.
Secondly, I always consider the packaging when I purchase something. If fruit is wrapped in cellophane on a Styrofoam plate I do not buy it. I rarely even use a plastic bag for veggies & fruit. The number you are purchasing does determine if you can skip the bag, but another option is to bring a bag from home, or if you are only getting two or four oranges just put them in the cart together, not hard really.
I try to never get a bag from stores. I bring my own bag, or I carry out things and keep the receipt to avoid anyone thinking I'm stealing. With a stroller its great, just pop it in the bottom and away you go. When I worked in retail 6 years ago, I remember customers in their buying frenzy paying for a gift. After they paid I would always ask: " Do you need a bag?" suddenly their eyes would clear and they would look down at the 3 or 4 bags in their hands and often say "No". I saved many bags from the landfill this way.
Sometimes even though a product's packaging can be recycled you have a more green option. An example of this is with hand soap. Liquid soap is usually in a recyclable bottle, but the energy it took to make the bottle and then to recycle it is more substantial than buying a bar of soap in a recyclable cardboard box. I will admit that it takes a long time to train your brain to think in these terms, but in the end it makes you feel that you are really doing your part. We can't all be activists, or green leaders, but we can make conscious choices with our hard earned dollars. And beyond the actual product's ethics, you have to consider the packaging's ethics as well.
Reduce is the first R because it has the most impact. In a way it is the easiest as well.
I am applying the reduce concept to Yule gifts this year as well. Amy is challenging us to avoid buying plastic gifts or gifts with plastic packaging. So along with reducing the packaging, reducing the amount of "stuff" in general is so important. Kyan is turning 1 on xmas day. This year he will have one birthday gift from us, some stocking stuffers from Santa, and a small Solstice/Yule gift. Even that amount is more than he needs, but it will keep things simple, and economical. For family we are going to have a strict budget per person and I have decided to use fabric tote bags as gift wrapping. You can never have enough reusable bags. In past years I have used gift bags. They are reusable but easy to damage and even though they are economical they end up in landfills eventually, and not to mention toxic to produce. I may even make the tote bags myself since I have lots of fabric stashed away. But I'm not putting too much pressure on myself since the holidays are such a busy time.
Yule is my favorite holiday. It has been since my childhood because my mother put so much effort into it and made everything so special and fun. Receiving gifts was never as fun for me as watching others open what I chose for them. The message behind this holiday for me is that we show people how much we love and appreciate them. We spend time together, we eat together, and we share gifts. I will post more about this season and my preparations further on. And without letting the cat out of the bag, I'll try and share my progress with the challenge as well. I urge you all to really think about your purchases this season and keep the three R's in mind when choosing your gifts.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Joni!

Today is the wonderful Joni Mitchell's birthday. She was born in Fort McLeod Alberta, Canada in 1943. I have to say that she is the coolest senior citizen I can think of.
My love affair with her music started in college probably in 1997. I watched a Governor Generals Awards ceremony on T.V. Joni was being honoured that year. Sarah McLauchlan sang the haunting song Blue in tribute to her. I went out and bought the album. Blue (also the album's title) is arguably one of Joni's most raw and popular albums. It was released in June of 1971, six years before I was born, but Joni's music is timeless. If you have never listened to Joni beyond Big Yellow Taxi ("you don't know what you've got 'til its gone") please give her a listen. I would recommend starting with Blue or Ladies of the Canyon.
What is it about her music that is so compelling? Her lyrics are complex and make images flow through you. She is a natural talent there is nothing that is off limits in terms of artistic expression for her. Here is the chorus from her song Sweet Bird (from the album The Hissing of Summer Lawns 1975)

Sweet bird you are

Briefer than a falling star

All these vain promises on beauty jars
Somewhere with your wings on time

You must be laughing

Behind our eyes

Calendars of our lives

Circled with compromise

Sweet bird of time and change

You must be laughing

Up on your feathers laughing

Joni's life is very interesting. She was a part of the folk music scene that championed Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash, but she moved beyond the blond beauty folk singer image in the mid-seventies. Some of her fan base and some critics were not happy about her departure. But she would not be a jukebox, instead she chose to follow her muse and she developed her music into jazz and beyond and experimented with many sounds and concepts. Throughout her music career she painted as well. She considers herself a painter first actually. Most of her album covers are self-portraits. Her most recent endeavor was a ballet that she developed with some partners. The dancers interpret her music through movement. I have seen it on T.V but hope to see it in person to get the full effect. It is called The Fiddle and the Drum. One of my life goals is to see Joni perform in concert. She does not tour much anymore so I may have missed the boat but I have faith that it will happen. Her music touches me in a place that really cannot express words. I leave you with a verse from the song Woman of Heart and Mind (from the album For the Roses, 1972)

I am a woman of heart and mind

with time on her hands

no child to raise

you come to me like a little boy

and I give you my scorn and my praise

you think I'm like your mother
or another lover or your sister
or the queen of your dreams
or just another silly girl
when love makes a fool of me

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Scorpio...need I say more?

Well since I'm a Scorpio then yes, I think I should say more. Happy Birthday to my fellow scorpions. I am a lover of astrology; I say lover because I am not a follower in the sense of paying much attention to the yearly planetary movements etc. I watch were the moon is and think about the planets as they relate to the signs, but I use astrology as a means to understand people around me.
Many people let the quirks and traits of others bother them. They wonder why they can't change, why they are so difficult, or emotional or wild. Over the years I have kept close watch over my friends and family to notice similarities that could be attributed to their sun sign. I do not believe that the descriptions are strict rules. There are always exceptions. But what I have found is that you can attribute many qualities to people based on their sun sign and its corresponding element. In a future post I will go into the specifics of this idea, Heidi and I discuss these points frequently and despite many skeptical nay-sayers we have found that they have come to notice similarities at times as well. For today though I will talk specifically about perhaps the most controversial and misunderstood sign of the Zodiac: Scorpio.

Dates: Vary from October 23 or 24th to November 21 or 22.
Animals: Scorpion, Eagle, Wolf, Phoenix
Birthstone: Snakestone, Amethyst, Topaz
Body Part: Genitals
Colour: Blue-Green, Turquoise
Day: Tuesday
Metal: Steel
Plant: Cactus
Tarot: Death
Tree: Yew
Celtic Month: Birch
Element: Water

October/November is a challenging time for many in terms of weather and light. It is the dark time of the year. I think this is why Scorpios are seen as moody, jealous and vengeful. We are born in a time of death, making us a reminder that death and birth are unequivocally linked. While most Scorpios I have known are sarcastic and moody, we are not all vengeful. Sexuality is also associated with us. Our passion and intensity are keys to a sensual being. I do not know a Scorpio who is not a fan of sex (but who is not?) Our power lies on many levels. We are opinionated and determined. Water is our element. We flow swift and strong as rivers. Deep, sometimes treacherous beneath a calm exterior. We are complex, which makes our reputation as murky as it is. But overall I love being a Scorpio, and if you ask anyone who is they will probably say the same thing. When I was pregnant with Kyan I looked at the compatibility between Scorpio and Capricorn in terms of parenting. The one site I visited did not even have a Scorpio mother listed as most compatible with any sign. Why do we get such a bad rap?
Yes we are obsessive to certain degrees, self-absorbed, and very dramatic...but hey someone has to add some spice to life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Magic of Trees

You step into the forest, needles crack under your feet, before you is a path covered with dappled light and your nose fills with the scent of pine.
That smell may conjure many memories for you, but did you know that the terpenes which are the chemicals that create that smell are also a natural climate control system? David Adam of The Guardian wrote of a new study undertaken by the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds University in which they discovered that these terpenes are released by trees and join with the clouds above them to reflect more of the sun back into the atmosphere. It adds up to 5% more of the sun that is not being absorbed by the earth.
Trees are crucial to our survival on this planet. They studied boreal forests across northern regions such as Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. So while a single tree may not release as many as a boreal forest may, any tree can help to cool things down.
The sacredness of trees is unbelievable at times. They are so important for the health of this planet. So plant one, hug one or just admire a tree in your area. And whenever possible try to avoid buying, making or using products that could be contributing to the destruction of the earth's forests. They love us, we need to love them back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghost Train 2008

A Pirate battle

Jack-O-Lantern display

Some scary sea creatures

waiting for the train to start

this spun as you passed

Last week we visited the Ghost Train in Stanley Park. Dave and I enjoyed it, Ky...was perhaps a bit young to get the idea. Heidi and I discussed that you often take your first child to events that they are too young for, out of the excitement of having a child. We went when it was already dark and I think Ky was too disoriented to understand what we were doing. For those who have not been, this is a miniature train that goes through the park and they have a theme each year and there are performers and decorations. The theme this year was Pirates. next year we'll go when it is lighter out and since he'll be closer to two I think he'll get more out of it. There is so much to do in this city around Halloween. I think as Kyan grows we'll have to try different things out each year. Hope you are all finding fun Halloween activities in your area.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Book of the Month: October

My first post in a feature I will be doing once a month. I love books and thought it would be fun to review books that I have in my library. In honour of Samhain and Halloween I have chosen:
Witch: The Wild Ride from Wicked to Wicca by Candace Savage.
This book delves into the history of the word Witch and brings the reader from the author's own personal history with witches through the Burning Times and beyond.
There is a wonderful pictorial element as well, she has archived many images from fine art to print and film. This book is worth buying if just for the artwork, but it also tells many recorded stories of folk who were accused of witchcraft or the like. I really like this quote where the author is describing her yearly attraction to dressing as a witch for Halloween: "At the age of ten I had no idea that I was shouldering centuries of oppression, judicial murder and high-minded mockery. Instead, I was attracted by the power of angry cursing and ill-tempered laughter, of forbidden knowledge, of fear. Bad-girl power."
A great addition to any witchy library.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six Random Things

Mrs. B at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom has tagged me and given me another award today. Thanks so much. It really makes you feel great to know that people are reading and its nice to have more friends too.

So for the Six Random Things here are the rules:

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Random Things about me:
1. I had braces on my teeth from age 11 to 13. My Mom grew up with crooked teeth and vowed that her children would not have them. At 11 I had 4 permanent teeth pulled(because I had too many teeth for the size of my mouth) and then had those lovely silver tracks. I never was teased much about them since my peers decided that my being skinny was more fun to tease about. The day I had them off my teeth I remember feeling like I had this huge mouth of white, and I'm very grateful to my Mom for paying for them. I believe they made it possible for me to do the next random thing.

2. I was a fashion model for 3 years. When I moved to the west coast I had trouble finding a job. So I thought it might be a good time to look into finding a modeling agent, since I had been obsessed with modeling since I was young. I found an agent and went on to have some great times doing local fashion shows and even an ad campaign. I loved modeling, I was really good at it. Since I only started at 24 I was considered a bit "old" (gasp) for a beginner though. So despite my agent's best efforts I was never picked up by an agent from Paris, Milan or Japan. But I had a great time for those 3 years and have a beautiful book of photos. I still look back on it and think "Wow, I really did something that I dreamed of as a child."

3. I hate olives and goats cheese. I have tried over and over to like these things. Every few months I try another sample, taste buds change sometimes, but man, I just don't like them. In most restaurants here goats cheese is in or on things. I really want to like it, but my palate says no. What can you do?

4. I have a huge sweet tooth. I love chocolate of course. But after dinner I always crave something sweet. Pie, cake, ice cream, brownies, I love it all.

5. I'm bilingual. I grew up in Quebec where I went to an English school but took a french class every day. So for 13 years (elementary, secondary and cejep) I took a french class and I lived in a predominantly french town. I would not say that I am fluent because I haven't lived there for over 10 years and you do lose it if you don't use it, but I can hold my own.

6. This one is a bit gross but is a very personal one. I have a vomit phobia. It started when I was around 12 years old. I would have panic attacks at night from just a pang in my stomach. My Mom would come into my room and calm me down and I drank tons of Pepto Bismol, probably damaging my stomach, but what can you do. I no longer have the panic attacks, but I really hate to vomit. I will avoid it at all costs, even if that means not doing something that could induce it like riding crazy amusement park rides or getting really drunk.

Ok now six blogs to tag.

1. Amy at Magical Musings : I have learned so much on her blog and love her art and just her way of being.
2. Bret at This Guys Journey : His blog is really honest and funny.
3. Witchy Mama: She is so prolific and I think you can really tell that she loves life.
4. Janet at Livin' La Vida Vegan: Her blog made me think that I could blog, and for that I am grateful.
5. Darth Mommy : With humour and love she is so personal about motherhood.
6. Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess: She is such a well rounded, green livin' cool person.

This is a fun exercise. I hope you all enjoy doing it too.

I would also like to pass on the Kreativ Blogger award to these six blogs. They are all very creative and diverse. Along with passing the award along to six blogs you are supposed to list six things that you love:

1. Books....anyway they come, and in all spots you can find them.
2. Trees...they make me very happy. Nothing can ground you better.
3. Joni Mitchell's music. Her songs just resonate with me, she's my favorite songwriter for sure.
4. T.V. I know its bad to love it, but alas I do.
5. Old/Vintage things. I love old photos, clothing, furniture....etc.
6. Harley Davidson motorcycles. They are loud, shiny and sexy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the Land of Mommies

When you are a dreamer like me you think of lots of scenarios in your head. They play out so simply and usually have a lovely movie soundtrack as well. When I was pregnant I imagined play dates, and talking with...(insert name here) about sleepless nights and teething. The reality for me after 10 months of mommy-hood is different. I chat to my close friends with kids about these things, and my mom and mother-in-law too, but I don't really have any close mommy friends with babies Ky's age. I have tried, and the possibilities are still there that I'll become closer with some of the acquaintances I've made so far, but it seems that my friendship style is not conducive to Mommy land. Granted I've never made friends fast and furious the way some do. I guess I'm bad at small talk, and it seems especially mommy small talk.
"How old is he, oh is he walking yet?"
"Those are great shoes, where did you get them?"
"I attend this playgroup Monday and Wednesday and on Fridays we do Mommy boot camp!"
I really suck at that type of conversation. I don't mean to belittle anyone who is good at it. Some of my girlfriends are sooooo good at it. Give them 2 minutes in a crowd with a piece of gum stuck on their shoe and they have 3 phone numbers and a group hike scheduled for the next day.
My whole life I have had wonderful friends, but almost every friendship has taken time, conversations over tea, coincidences of running into someone on the way somewhere and having more conversation. I guess I just need one on one time. I need to bond with someone. Feel a soul connection maybe. A reason to talk beyond the weather...and in Mommy land you just don't have the luxury of time. For a while I felt a bit guilty about this. Will Ky suffer because I can't make other Mommy friends? Do I suffer because I lack the dreamed about "support group" that so many people said I needed prior to Ky's birth?
I don't think so. I have friends with kids, most are older but that's ok. I have a great family, who offer tons of support. As a homebody I love to putter around, and play with Ky, and I don't mind being the only adult until Dave gets home. And in a year or so when Ky starts to need friends, he will meet his friends, and I will either bond with the other mommies, or smile at him while I read on the park bench and marvel at how much he's grown.
I can't force myself to become a social butterfly if I'm not, and I will deal with the inevitable guilt that arises here and there with being a mom. The last thing I need is to put more pressure on myself. So if you're out there feeling bad about not having a mommy group to hang out with once a week, don't beat yourself up about it. These things take time, and while time is always short when you are a new mom, you are bound to find some friends as long as you keep trying.
And in the mean time there is nothing wrong with you and baby being your own play group. At least you don't have to talk about the weather.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thanks Mrs. B & Dancing Goddess Dolls

I was thrilled to receive my prize from Mrs. B's 31 Days of Halloween on Thursday. Kelli at Dancing Goddess Dolls does beautiful work. I love Hecate and have placed her on my Fall/Samhain altar. A big thanks to you both for making my New Year so special.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art of the Month: October

Blanket of Stars, quilt, 2005

Cross view, Blanket of Stars, 2005

Detail, Blanket of Stars, 2005

This piece was a gift for a dear friend's daughter. I was new to quilting,(I still consider myself new to quilting) and was inspired by the idea of being wrapped in a quilt of stars. There is a mixture of hand embroidery, machine quilting and applique. It was a huge undertaking for me. To date it is the largest quilt that I have made. I work in a mixture of quilting and embroidery so bigger pieces are very time consuming. My friend's daughter enjoys the quilt and spent many of her younger days pointing and touching it. I hoped to make it tactile enough for a toddler and yet not so juvenile that she won't enjoy it as an adult.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poverty and Homelessness: Blog Action Day 2008

Today is Blog Action Day. I learned about this from Nature Deva. Bloggers from around the world unite to write about a world issue. This year the topic is poverty. After the Canadian election yesterday this topic is even more important. A court ruling handed down yesterday in Victoria BC, has given homeless people in that city the right to erect tents in public parks and green spaces. For more info click here.
Many of us may cringe at the "unsightliness"of this. Make shift shelters, debris and goodness knows what else will be laid out for all to see. This is a landmark decision and one that the mayor of Victoria is not happy about. In many countries around the world poverty is not as hidden as it is here. We shake our heads at our homeless, thinking they may be lazy, drug addicts, or mentally ill. Some give spare change, some support homeless shelters, but most of us turn our heads the other way. Poverty exists in Canada and while our government gives tax cuts to corporations people have no public housing. Our climate on thw west coast may be the mildest in Canada, but I cringe to think that a nylon tent or card board shelter is all that keeps many homeless from our sub-zero temperatures. I don't want to see tent cities in our public parks, but I don't want to see human beings living in poverty anywhere. Why is it that parks can only be used by people who have? If you were homeless would you rather sleep in a tent in a park or in a cold concrete doorway or dangerous back alley? We need to get our homeless the option of housing. The options of shelter and the help they require to pursue what we all do. I say the option because some people who live on the street choose to live there. I do not understand that choice but I try not to judge it. I have not walked in anyone else's shoes. For those that want off the street our governments from federal to municipal must provide safe alternatives for them. I think that is a worthy case for my tax dollars, and until they do, on their drive or walk to work each morning they will be faced with the reality of poverty in Canandian cities, tents and all.