Friday, September 28, 2012


It is with a thankful heart that I look back on our celebration of Autumn's arrival this year.

Gathered in a garden in the middle of the city we looked at art that was inspired by the earth.

I am thankful for stone, wood, red leaves, friends and family to share blessings with and the abundance all around us.

Thankful for good food, time to laugh and darker mornings.  Although I feel a bit fatigued from the change now as the light shifts us to a more quiet time of year, even though it gets busier despite the growing dark.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

About my Perception of Time

A new creative spark has been lit in these parts.  Every spare moment is being put towards making and doing rather than thinking too much.  While pondering is a big part of the process of art making I've noticed that sometimes the tired mommy brain that I've been afflicted with for the last 5 years can be a bit of a downer.
Last night I took it upon myself to organize my art documentation photos.  I created folders for categories and got the photos in place accordingly.  As I was sorting and looking through the last several years to find any strays I realized that while I'm certainly not producing at a full-time rate stuff is being made around here.  I mean much of it is documented in my Art of the Month category but beyond that there is stuff.  And I've made it.  Bit by bit by bit.  Hour by bleary-eyed hour.
So my point here is that I was being very glass half empty about my creative life and saying things like: I'll have more time later and I just wish I had time to make _____ but the thing is I do.
I have time, I make time, I make things.  I've made something almost each month of this year.
So I felt a bit sheepish last night as I moved yet another photo over into one folder or another.  There is time, things are being made and I'm so glad that I've taken the photos to remind myself of just how much I'm actually accomplishing here.
The thing is that the photos are concrete proof that I am using my time to create.  My bleary brain tells me often that I'm not.  That I'm consumed by mothering, housekeeping and life.  But my perception was wrong and for once I'm glad that I was.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tales from My Garden Wrap-up 2012

Today my thoughts have turned away from my own garden and towards the busy season of Autumn before us.  Tomorrow I'm going to this with my lovely friend Sarah and our littles.  We'll have a ritual to celebrate the Equinox and enjoy the gorgeous scenery of these gardens.  I've been looking through recipe books to find a perfect fall cake to bring and soon another trip to pick apples will be scheduled.

As our calender fills up the garden is quietly beginning its decline.  The re-roofing project on our townhouse pulled me away from the garden earlier than ever this summer.  I was happy with the bountiful lemon balm which is still on the list for the dehydrator, as is the applemint.  The bee balm was eaten alive by something but I'm hopeful that it will come back next year.  I've dried raspberry leaves for tea and hope next year to get a harvest of berries from the plant.  As for the back patio plants the tomatoes continue to ripen over at my neighbour's place since our deck is a construction zone.  The cucumber didn't produce well and the parsley was not as prolific this year as last. 

I've taken away several lessons from this year's experiments.  The summer's abundance or lack thereof has given me lots to ponder.  With each lovely tomato that we've eaten (there haven't been that many so we've savored each one) I've become more decided that my tomato growing days are over for this period of my life.  I have tried for 3 years now and though each year has proven more successful than the last I think overall I can find a much better use for my time elsewhere.  Because of the heat on our deck the tomatoes require more attention than normal.  I'd rather be sewing than doting on tomatoes.  Especially when I have such wonderful options from the farmer's market in terms of heritage varieties and the like.

Our peas were great this year although no english shelling peas next year.  Just the snap ones will do for our summer snacks.  I'd need double to triple the production I did this year with the shelling peas to make it worthy of my time. 

The rhubarb was very abundant this year and I got many harvests from the one plant.  Next year I plan to get some manure for it in spring just to give it that extra boost it may need.  And otherwise I plan on getting more flowers for the patio next year so that my eyes and the bees and butterflies can enjoy them.  Growing food is a wonderful pursuit and I think it may take more of a central role in our family in the future.  For the next few years though I'm going to put my efforts into other areas and take advantage of the myriad of organic/biodynamic options that are all around the city.

There is still lots of work left in terms of putting all the plants to sleep and cleaning up pots for overwintering.  Last fall I got lazy and left it all out in the rain for the winter...something that I regretted this spring since carrying drenched pots of old potting soil is not fun.  I will plan out some fall days to clean up the remaining pots and also plan to cover the front bed with leaves for extra mulch and to add to the Halloween display that is in my mind's eye.  As always I'm grateful for the lessons that growing and working with the soil impart.  I hope your garden has blessed you with lessons and abundance this year. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Staying Solitary?

My journey on this path has shifted over the 13 years I've been walking it.  From gathering information to joining an eclectic circle of women to heading out on my own.  The heading out on my own part just happened to coincide with having my children.  And so the life of a solitary practitioner has been spotty for me.  I've done ritual, worked in trance and gathered with others to celebrate, honour and feast.  I have set goals and met them, but often not met them.  This has been a matter of priority setting for me.  It has been my choice to put my family first and so my spiritual practice has taken a backseat many times.
As I emerge from babyland to a place where my children are more independent from my care things are shifting.  And although my tunnel still feels long at times there is a beacon there.  
I have heard others recently describing their religious work in a group and their spiritual practice alone.  I'm still abrasive to the word religion for many reasons but I understand the desire to make the distinction between work done in a group and alone.
As the years move on I understand more about the ebbs and flows of life.  What I am coming to realize is that the initial aspects of paganism that compelled me to call myself a pagan are changing.  I see this as a natural evolution as I become more and more in tune with my inner self.  And as these shifts occur I find that my desire to understand interests and origins grows.  I have never thought of myself as a seeker in the sense of how the word is used around the pagan community these days.  But where I may go in the future to deepen my understanding may bring me to work with other pagan groups.  By other I mean Druidry and Nordic faiths.  All of my group work has been in Wiccan based faiths, some very eclectically so.   I will take the next few years to do more reading, understand fully where I have come from and then decide where to go from there.
I think the "teacher" or "teachers" I may seek will present themselves at the moment they are meant to.  For now I feel comfort in the idea that this path will swerve around and bring me places I can't imagine for myself when the time is right and when I can make this part of my life more prominent again.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Balance Approaching

I have written twice before (1,2) about how the equinoxes balance me.  I don't anticipate it coming and then a few days or in some cases weeks before the change, the equal division between light and dark, I get a centered feeling.  This morning it came upon me.  Yes, all is right.  All is even.  All in this moment is still.  I seem to breathe a bit more smoothly and for the most part the days have enough for me.  Enough hours to accomplish carefully chosen tasks, enough time to rest in between tasks and for this last week enough sleep!?!  Now don't get me wrong I will be chronically overtired for years to come because of my nighttime mothering but each night this week my body has told me to go to bed earlier than usual.  Rather than turning on the t.v. or surfing the internet I just go upstairs and get in bed.  And low and behold I'm getting an extra hour of sleep out of it.  Any little bit helps when you are still being awoken 3 or 4 times a night.

In my previous writings about the way this time of year affects me it has been in a flurry of activity and this year I feel like I'm more grounded.  Like I'm finally learning to channel the energy properly and apply it where I can best use it.  Somehow that seems really appropriate for the lessons of this seasonal shift.
Center, ground, listen for the balance, smell the warmth of summer shifting, feel the cooler nights on your skin, taste the spice in the air as your heart, head and soul align.  Breathe.

I feel so blessed at this time; so appreciative of my boys and their personalities, so focused on the love around us and the earth's beauty.

This weekend I plan to refresh my altar for Autumn and I think my theme will be blessings.
I think the boys feel it too, this calmer energy, it makes our whole home better.  I am grateful for its presence with us and hope it doesn't leave us for a long while.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How we do...

... little boy's closets.  Over a month ago we added closet inserts into the boy's room.  We did this for practical reasons like having more floor space for them and for maximizing the capacity of the closets.  After living in a home with built-ins in every closet and seeing how helpful that was for organizing I am a huge fan now.

 This layout was worked out by Dave and I searching out the best components at the best price.  Having sliding doors is a challenge since you can only have one side open at a time.  That means you shouldn't put anything that is accessed everyday in the middle.   The top two shelves were the one that was already there plus the same self and brackets that we removed from our own closet last year.  We just didn't use the hanging bars across.

We purchased another shelf and brackets to go above the metal drawers.  The drawers and hanging bar are from Ikea.  For two little boys with very little that needs hanging up this option works well.  I don't think they'll need more hanging space than that for many years.

As you can see clothes, books (lots of them) and blankets as well as stuffed animals and keepsakes are all in this standard size closet.  I was able to get everything except the hand-me-down clothing in there and free up more of our storage room space.

The baskets are great visually and they are easy to pull out.  Overall I am thrilled by the transformation of this project.  Dave did the construction and I have to say that he is a trooper with me when it comes to this stuff.  But he can't ever fully comprehend how happy an organized closet makes me.  It just helps the day go smoothly, yah know?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saving the Harvest

As the wheel of the year turns towards Autumnal Equinox each year I try and preserve some of the harvest for our family.  In the past I have frozen corn and picked apples for applesauce near the end of September.  This year I was home in the second week of September with 20lbs of Roma tomatoes.

There is a rhythm to stirring sauce, peeling tomato skins and chopping vegetables.  An almost trance feeling can come over you as you stir and watch the bubbling meld the flavours. 

Because, as I've mentioned previously, I spend so much time in the kitchen these days the work I do there has taken on a magical element for me like never before.  This is my daily practice, my most constant repeated routine and one that affects the fundamental roots of the household the most.

When we pick apples this year as we have for the past 5 now, we will fill our cloth bags with huge red orbs that along with pumpkins are my most treasured signal of harvest time.  The ripening of the earth's bounty is a finite time.  A blink and you've missed it.  But it also takes lots of time and as this time of year is always full with activities and such I always pick out a few things to try and see if they bring myself and my loved ones joy.  Making the tomato sauce was very labour intensive from start to finish.  I've learned from this experiment how much I'm willing to dedicate to tomatoes next year.  Applesauce is also labour intensive but we've come to love the flavour of our sauce better than that we buy at the store.  The key this year will be to make enough to last us through the winter. 

The component of preserving the harvest that I find to be the most spiritual is the link I feel to my ancestors while doing it.  Certainly as Samhain is just around the corner and the veils thin as the days shorten this work stirs their blood within me.  For all of our modern lives and conveniences of the 21st century everyone needs to eat.  Through the actions of growing, harvesting, preparing and consuming food we are the most human, the most connected with our mother, the most at the mercy of her grace, and the blessing that another season of bounty will come again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Get Out

Today marked the beginning of outdoor pre-school for Kyan.  His hiking, fort building, nature exploring and hopefully mud pie making year of fun before regular school begins in fall of 2013 (yikes!).   I feel really grateful that he can attend this program.  It is a half hour drive in morning traffic (if we are lucky) which is different from the 5 minute walk to his Monday pre-school class but the opportunity to learn outside is priceless.
This week has begun a new mission for me - getting out.  Looking back on years past Kyan and I were outside a lot.  We explored the little areas around our then home.  My second pregnancy slowed that down considerably.  And now that I have a high energy 18 month old it must be reinstated.  So this program is going to be good for all of us.  Elliott and I hiked a short but at times steep trail today crossing a high extension bridge over a white water ravine and then back over further downstream.  He waved to all the tourists taking photos and soaked in all the fresh air.
Living in the Pacific Northwest means that you get lots of rain, but rarely is it really cold.  And September is supposed to be sunny for the next two weeks so we are taking full advantage.  We've been out every morning this week and I plan on keeping up the trend.
This active nature interaction keeps us happier, calmer and healthier.  When I forget that we are overwhelmed quickly and it is usually not pretty.
Yesterday I put a sealant over all of our hiking boots/shoes and it heralded a new year to come of adventures on the trails and in the forests.
 It felt like a good omen, a positive step for our family journey together.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 9 & 10

For a little time to ourselves (meaning Dave and I) we visited Arlo's Honey farm and the Summerhill Pyramid Winery for a tour and taste.  A glorious end to our trip.
Then Day 10 we headed for home with 20lbs of tomatoes.  So between processing the tomatoes and all of us having the sniffles over the weekend it hasn't left much energy for blogging.  Be back soon with more regular posts!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day 8

It seems this Blogger app is a little finicky. So I'll keep these posts shorter until we are home and then I'll flesh them out.
A ride on the Kettle Valley Steam Train in Summerland, a nice walk into the downtown and yummy Thai food.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 6

Leaving Fernie we traveled north instead of backtracking for a few hours and headed to Golden Bc. The drive was quieter with a long nap from Elliott and mostly music playing. Sunshine and clouds shifted around us and we arrived in Golden a little tired and hungry from a late afternoon drive.

Day 7

Our first wake up to rain happened in Golden. Cooler temperatures and the mountains covered in low cloud. A great breakfast in town followed by a visit to a wolf sanctuary and we were back on the road. We went through two National parks (Glacier and Revelstoke) again, just admiring the huge majesty of the mountains in this province. And arrived in the afternoon in Kelowna for the last longer leg of the trip.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day 4 & 5

Filled with family and exploring Fernie we shopped, ate great food, and I attended the lovely wedding of my cousin. Said wedding had the best bridal party entrance I've ever seen with everyone paddling down the Elk river in canoes (including the bride in her gown).