Monday, June 30, 2008

Gratitude Monday- The Bottom of Main Street

Rocky Mountain House is really quite scenic. I'm grateful to live in a town where I can see the mountains from almost anywhere. These pictures were taken at the bottom of Main Street looking west and/or southwest.
The first is looking southwest.
Please enlarge all pics to get the full effect.

The newspaper office where I worked is just a wee bit up the street from the little park in the foreground. The editor's office has a great view very similar to this. This is to the west.

Looking southwest again. That's the post office and a liquor store in the same building. How can you not love a town where you can get stinko and mail a letter from one convenient location?

Happy week, everyone.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday’s Child - Thoughtless

Crescent Falls

Sometimes it's better to not take the plunge.

From November 26, 2007

We Didn’t Think About You

A friend asked me recently if I’d ever asked my parents if they knew what my sister was doing to me and, if so, then why did they never stop her?
The first answer is easy: no.
But it has a second, painful part. The real reason I never asked was I didn’t want to know. Frankly, I was scared of the possible answer.
Let me explain it like this: We had a very old sewing machine that I had the idea that I might fall heir to someday. It belonged to my paternal grandmother and we had it stored first at the farm and later in the garage when my parents moved to town.
One day a cousin asked dad if she could have it. He said he'd promised it to my sister. The cousin then asked her and she said the cousin could have it.
Granted, I’d never said I wanted it, but neither had it occurred to me that I had to. I’d assumed that since we’d had it I’d be given a chance at it. When I brought it up to my dad later said, “I’m sorry Leah. I guess we just didn’t think about you.”
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this reason. There are only so many times I can hear “we just didn’t think about you.” I didn’t want to have to hear it again.
It’s absurd to suggest they didn’t know my sister was hitting and gouging me. She made quite a scene as she did it, screaming and stamping her feet, and would often rail afterward about how unfair it was. It would take a tremendous force of will to not notice. So I never asked. I had no wish to hear how they just didn’t think about me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Minor Snipe

Here's a snipe we saw a few weeks ago on a Sunday drive.
I was going to use it as an illustration for a post where I went on about various politicians from Premier Ed Stelmach to George W. Bush.
Stelmach recently gave himself a raise as did several cabinet ministers. A few days later three of Alberta's top doctors, all women, quit. The Health Minister and the Premier made some noises about how all three left for better-paying jobs and that the Province only had so much money to pay for these positions. At least one of the doctors said money was not the only issue. For the record Alberta has just recorded another obscene multi-billion dollar surplus.
Mr. Ed and the boys gave themselves raises because, as Ed said, you've got to pay the big bucks to attract the best people.
So, Ed, you and the boys in cabinet (most are middle-aged white guys) are not the best people for the job and you know it? Is that what you're telling us, Ed?
And that you don't need to pay the doctors all that much money because... oh, never mind. My brain hurts.
As to incurious George, well, he has managed to mess up the US economy, found a way to ignore and offend the US constitution, and has tanked the great country's reputation throughout the world.
What do they have in common, Ed and George?
Well, they're both out of their leagues.
But Incurious George will be out soon while Mr. Ed will be in charge of the Province until such time as he completely tears it up and poisons the air to get out the oil.
Whatever else Dubya has done to offend the Constitution and the American people at least you will be rid of him soon.
I hope you like the photo of the snipe.
I was going to use it to illustrate a post, and apparently I did.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Still and Falling

Above is a picture of Tangle Falls while below is a video of the same falls.
Tangle Falls is just north of Columbia Icefields in Jasper National Park.
It's beautiful spot and neither the picture nor the video do it justice.
I hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Follow The Curve

Along the Icefields Parkway In Jasper National Park

When life throws down a curve in front of you take it and enjoy the journey.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Back On Track

I am happy, and grateful, to report that last Thursday's cardioversion worked.
Normal sinus rhythm was established at the second application of shock.
I am also darned grateful that my heart is back to its normal size and the condition I had has fully reversed.
You are never getting rid of me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday's Child - Water Under The Bridge

Sometimes the water under the bridge stays turbulent awhile.
From Monday November 5

Still Taking Calls

I still take my sister’s calls because we’re in the midst of probate of our dad’s will. I need to maintain contact so when the matter is concluded I can pay out the remainder of the estate. That’ll be next spring sometime. Until then I will speak to her.
She is a vulnerable and needs help. I recognize that, but there’s nothing I can legally do to get her the kind of help I suspect she needs.
Listening to her paranoia and blame serves no purpose. It does not help her situation and it leaves me feeling used.
I stay on the phone long enough to determine what she wants. That’s all.
Once the legal matters are completed I may well not accept her calls anymore. I do not know.
Update June 20/08
We didn’t have to go through Probate after all.
I signed some papers a few months ago instead.
No payout yet, but I am sure it will arrive at top government speed sometime during the current epoch.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This is a male House Finch. He stopped by and sang to me last week.
The presence of this photo is solely for your enjoyment and has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of today's post.

Today is my cardioversion.
I report to Red Deer Regional Hospital at 8 a.m. where I will be knocked out and my heart will be shocked into proper rhythm.
It worked once before and it will work again. The difference is this time it will take.
In a few weeks I'll be off the Coumadin and back eating broccoli.
Life is good.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


A trip along the parkway is good for the soul.
This is the summit of Sunwapta Pass in Jasper National Park and between Saskatchewan Crossing and the Columbia Icefields.
The road takes a long sweeping curve at the bottom of this pass and when I was young I was convinced that we'd turned right around and were heading back north.
Somehow, by dint of magic, we always ended up on Highway 1 and continued our journey south and west. It was years before I figured out how we did it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It’s Okay To Lick The Plates Here

If a guest in your house picked up her plate at the end of a meal and licked it, what would you do?
Would you be surprised? Offended? Scandalized?
Or would you take it as a compliment?

I say it’s the latter.
Manners aside, it’s a huge compliment if someone likes your food so much s/he makes sure to get every drop of it.
Around my house, it’s okay to lick the plates. I did it when I lived alone and decided that I’d continue the practice.
One evening years ago when husband and I were dating I cooked for him. I’ve long forgotten the food, but I remember I really wanted to lick my plate afterward, so I flat out told him my practice. He could accept it or not. Not only was he okay with it, he did it too.

It’s gotten to the point he’ll sometimes lick my plate if he was especially taken with something I’ve prepared. Okay, that may have been more than you ever needed to know, but it’s the truth.
It’s a compliment when someone cleans his own plate that way, but when he likes it so much he cleans off your plate too, well, that counts for more than simple words.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gratitude Monday - Curiosity

It’s good to be curious. Having an interest in the world around us and acting on it keeps us young of mind. We’re vital and engaged in the world and it keeps us learning. That, in turn, keeps our minds active and useful.
We get going on new things, meet new people and find out why we like or dislike them. Curiosity gets our questions answered. It also gives us our questions.
Can you imagine how boring life would be if we didn’t have an active interest in what was happening? Or worse, if we thought we knew everything? At the very least, we wouldn’t have many friends, and if we did, I can’t seem them sticking around too long.
We wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything or try anything new.
Some of my more interesting culinary adventures were caused because I said to myself, “I wonder…”
Curiosity got me to taste musk ox and witchetty grub and I even tried a bite of raw hamburger once.
Without curiosity I would never have been caught in a jungle rainstorm in the Amazon and that means I would not know that palm leaves make a great cover for a camera.
I short, without curiosity I wouldn’t know very much, but I bet I’d think I did.
And because I know you’re curious, the picture was taken out the back window of my car. I was a few miles east of the Banff National Park gate on Highway 11 when I saw three bears in the ditch. They’d been there when I went by several hours earlier and were still happily feeding away when I got back in late afternoon.
I stopped for a few pictures, but when this little guy decided to check out the vehicle in front of me I decided to leave.
I was just barely past it when I thought I needed a few more pictures so I shot them out the back window.

Here they are feeding in the morning:

I took this video out the front window of the car. It would have been of better quality if I'd gotten out of the vehicle, but that simply did not seem like a rational move.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday’s Child – An Unwilling Sounding Board

We’re getting down to the wire here. Just a few more left.
Ummm, dare I say, “Get ‘em while you can?”

Seriously, I’m nearing the end of the posts I had on Prozac Palace. I know some of you read them there and you’ve been very good to me by reading them again and commenting. I appreciate it.

And I wish you a very Happy Friday the 13th!

From October 22, 2007


It was expected of me that I would be my sister's sounding board. I used to listen to her whining. She’d take my time up, and it would stay with me because I felt powerless.
I stopped feeling powerless a few months ago. If she wants nothing more than to whine about problems, real or imagined, then I’ve no time for her. She has not listened to any solution I’ve offered.
She does not want her problems solved; she wants people to feel sorry for her. It’s sad that this is all she has, but she has created this world herself.

She has found a way through life by becoming an energy vampire. She will suck the life and goodwill out of anyone who lets her. She is no longer welcome to mine.
Once I’d made that decision I was able to cut conversations off after a few minutes rather than let her talk herself out. I no longer feel sorry for her, nor do I feel responsible for her. She has elected to not change. Mental illness is not an excuse for everything. Nor should it be.

Why did I listen all those years?

I felt compelled. I could hear my parents telling me that she needs someone to listen to her.
One night, back in my teens, she started talking about a problem. I said something, probably insensitive, and tried to leave the room. Mom insisted that I stay.
This scene is seared in my mind. I’d replay it each time my sibling called to unload her burdens.
My backbone sprouted a few months ago. I refuse to give her my energy and I stopped paying attention to the replayed scene.
I feel better. My energy is my own. Being from the same family unit is not a valid reason to put up with nonsense. Call it selfish because that’s what it is. I am looking after myself. No one else will do it for me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Firm Politeness

Every day we get the chance to decide what kind of a day we’ll have. Good, bad, happy, sad, calm, angry. It all depends on how we view the world, and what can be reasonable anticipated as a logical outcome given the information we have.
And that brings me to yesterday’s misadventure.

My husband and I sent letters of protest to federal elected officials about a bill currently before Parliament. Bill C-51 seeks to control alternate health substances to the point of what is tantamount to illegal search and seizure.
Under it if a supplement is deemed bad it can be seized from store shelves without compensation to the owner. Further, a major portion of health supplements would be taken off the shelves. This is due to some extreme regulation nonsense from a few years ago wherein Health Canada has been busily dragging its feet on necessary approvals.
In short, said bill would hose us ostensibly for our own good. That’s a subject for another post, though. Today’s point is about the Post Office.

Bills to Members of Parliament, if addressed to the House of Commons, are sent postage-free. We can rant and rave and rail and thank our elected politicians by snail mail at no cost to ourselves. This is a good thing.

I had a feeling when I popped the unstamped letters in the mail on Tuesday that I’d see them again. I was not disappointed.
Some poor thing at the local outlet of Canada Post put them back in the box with the handwritten message “Postage required.”
I had a choice. I could be upset and stomp down there and tell off someone for being a complete and total idiot. I could rant and rave about not knowing your job and wonder rhetorically how stupid are you? Or how stupid do you think we are?
But, you know what? Everyone screws up and not everyone knows the letters were postage- free. Yes, when you work for Canada Post you ought to know that. But if it’s someone new he or she isn’t going to know everything.

In the great scope of the world this is barely an inconvenience. It is by no stretch anything to froth at the mouth over. I had a choice. I could screech or I could be polite but firm.
I walked the few blocks to the post office, held up the letters to point out the “postage required” notation and said, “No, they don’t.”

The person I dealt with agreed and the matter was taken care of in a few seconds. Whoever wrote the note knows by now s/he was wrong and was spared public humiliation.
A problem was cleared up with firm politeness. It’s how I’d want to be treated. Wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Roses and Carnations

I've never thought of myself in terms of flowers so these results were a surprise.

You Are a Light Pink Rose

You represent sweetness and grace.

Your vibe: Kind and gentle

Falling in love with you: is like falling in love with a best friend

You Are a Carnation

You are down to earth and grounded.

You tend to be more traditional than trendy.

Your confidence gets you through anything.

People trust you and are very loyal to you.

Reb at Sibu Pegasus Power had this on her blog today so I stole it for my own.
It was fun.
What are you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Toothsome Tuesday

I’ve been experimenting with dairy substitutes. I discovered in the early 1990s that I was cow’s milk intolerant. Sheep and goat cheese are fine for me, and I use goat milk in my morning coffee. My husband can’t handle dairy very well either so when I need milk or cream or butter I use a substitute.

Some, like almond milk, are really good.
Others, like rice milk, are pretty good.
Cashew cream is wonderful. It’s thick and rich and creamy and is absolutely amazing on pumpkin pie. I’d live on it except for a really swell allergic reaction to cashews. I can live with it, though, and corn and pineapple do the same thing to me.

Tofu makes a good cream, especially if it’s in with a bit of tahini (sesame paste). Tahini is good on it’s own as a cream or thinned as a milk, and if mixed with a bit of coconut lard it makes a lovely butter substitute in baking.

Yesterday I made oat milk. The recipe called for simmering oats for an hour then draining off the water. Said water formed the milk. It’s quite slimy and smells like pasta water. The taste is okay.
I mashed some in potatoes. The taste was okay, but the consistency was gluey. I mixed a bit of sugar and vanilla in and used it on cobbler-crisp-bread pudding thing I’d thrown together a few days earlier. This was very tasty, but again, the consistency is very off-putting.

The leftover oats gave me an idea so I made up some fake cream cheese with tofu and, once everything had been around long enough to develop flavor, I made fake cheesecake. The cooked rolled oats became the cottage cheese called for in the recipe I was abusing, and I threw in some of the oat milk for liquid.
I insulted a second recipe so this is both a hybrid and an invention. Those are the best.
Said cheeseless cake is resting comfortably in the fridge now. I want to make sure it gets plenty of time for the flavors to gather.

Meanwhile, I found the formula for making potato milk. It will be today’s experiment. It sounds like I need to boil a potato and then blend it in its boiling water. It certainly sounds easy. But how will it taste? And is it something I’d want to dunk a cookie in?
Stay tuned.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gratitude Monday – The Way I See It

I am grateful and happy for the way I see things. Many of us would look at the above pic and see a stump. Other many see that it’s a home for, say, woodpeckers, assorted bugs, moss, fungi, and whatnot.
Many would simply see a dead tree.
I see character. I see a face. I see Grandpa Stumpy giving hell to forest trespassers. And I believe each one of us deserves it.
The branch coming out of its mouth looks like lighting. It suggests some very colourful language from this venerable fellow.
I am so glad I see things this way. It lends an extra dimension to the world around me and for that I am grateful.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday's Child - Plain Spoken

From Saturday, October 13, 2007

She Nuts And Should be Locked Up

I never thought I’d be writing about mental illness, never mind posting it on a blog for the world to see. In fact, talking about it was something I avoided.
My parents avoided it, therefore I assumed it was the right thing to do. Even after I grew up and knew better not talking was so ingrained that it came naturally to me.
A few friends knew, and I suspect most of our relatives knew it. An open secret, I suppose.
After dad died last year I decided it was pointless to downplay it. With both parents gone it meant no one was around to studiously not talk about it.
I’m blunt. It’s my nature. I’d used kinder, socially acceptable ways of answering question about her up to that point.
No more of that sensitive nonsense.
Now when friends and relatives ask about her I look them straight in the eye and say, “She’s nuts and should be locked up.”
On the whole it’s gone over well. The only problem was with an elderly aunt who isn’t quite all there herself. She looked at me like one of those old-style cash registers where the numbers keep spinning, but no total ever comes up.“She’s all right, then?”“Yes, Aunt Redacted. She’s fine.”
What this has done is given everyone else a chance to talk about it, too. I suspect most people were relived to hear me be so open about it. After all these decades they finally got the blunt truth.

Granted some might have been taken aback, but they are used to how I speak so they got past it quickly. They understand if you don’t want the answer, then you should not ask me the question.
It’s helped because they know they can call me after she’s called them with one of her pity-poor-me almost-truths.
She’s gone through a few cousins in the past 10 months. Like many mentally ill people, she is very manipulative. She knows what to say and how to package it in order to get the maximum effect.
It worked, especially on mom. After she died my sister only had dad to emotionally bully. She took right to it. I don’t think dad fell for much of anything. Mostly he wanted to help her and did not know how.

Anyway, my cousins call after she’s whined to them about whatever perceived slight or invented trauma has befallen her.They tell me what she said, and then I tell them what is really going on. For example, she whined to one last winter about not receiving any inheritance yet. I wrote about it in The Calls Are Escalating
In short, she’d gotten the registered letter notifying her of the bank draft I’d sent, but she hadn’t gotten around to signing for it yet. She told the truth, but she wasn’t very honest about it.
This is what she does. The only recourse I have is to be open and honest and tell the truth.

Thoughts and speech should be plain and clear like water in a mountain stream.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Great Day To Be A Bird

A tree swallow takes in the sights on a warm afternoon.
There was something so colourful yet peaceful in this scene.
It looked like a great day to be a bird.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Goldfinch Abundance

Assessing the situation.

Taking action.


Realizing the horror of what he'd become.

My husband took these pictures of a male goldfinch at our kitchen feeder.
The reflection in the last one makes it seem as homage to Hitchcock and Poe.
Did your write yourself an abundance cheque this month?
The new moon was at 1:23 p.m. yesterday in my neck of the woods. There's a 24 hour window to get the cheque written. If you forget, then simply write it as soon as you remember and get back on track next month.
If you've never done it or you need a refresher here's what to do :
Take a cheque or draw one on a blank piece of paper. The Universe will honour it either way.
Ignore the date.
Make it out to yourself.
Write "Paid In Full" in the amount box and amount line.
Sign it "Law of Abundance."
Put it away.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

When Hurting Is No Longer An Option

You don't have to go it alone.

Instead of walking around with an undressed wound from childhood it is possible to be healed. Not with thick scar tissue, but actually go in and cleanse and let the skin grow back. Scars are not mandatory. We can heal from the inside out.
There’s a technique used sometimes in hypnotherapy wherein the subject is taken back to an event and restructures the ending so it turns out the way he or she wants. It has its merits.
Changing the ending of a memory works to a degree. It gives us the satisfaction of being our own director in our own movie and calling all the shots.
But what it doesn’t do is change the original scene. Irrespective of how many of how many rewrites we do on the scripts of our lives, what occurred originally is the only truth. It must be dealt with. It must remain intact as the proper memory. Literal change of the past is impossible; virtual change is a form of healing. We write a different ending and alter how we are affected by it.

It is for us to learn from the events of our lives. If we don’t we are lost and must return to the pattern and relive it over and over until in this life or another we realize our cycle and break it.
When we change everyone wins. But this is not a contest, and not a duel to death. I am not against you nor are you against me. Abuse is not personal. Not really. The abuser is in as much pain as his or her target. Abusers are acting out of intense unaware self-loathing and they want you to hate them and to hate yourself too. Become one of the crowd and pain is lessened. Hate is attention the same as is love.

Our agreement with our abusers pre-dates birth and is forged out of love, not hate. It is to learn something. Do we bring it on ourselves? Not as such. We agree to a certain set of circumstances in order to learn, but we have the free will to alter that course. We can stop the pain and we must simply because letting abuse continue keeps us on the karmic wheel.

We absolutely must learn from our life experiences and lessons work both ways. They are for the abuser as much, perhaps more, than the abused. Perhaps that is the most difficult aspect to accept. It is a learning experience that we have both taken on. It does not have to continue. An abused person sometimes goes on to abuse others. The other has agreed to experience some of this, if needed. This is the key. It does not have to be needed.

We cleanse the wounds life has inflicted on our psyches by admitted they occurred, and while we are not at fault for being victims, we are complicit in the experience by dint of agreement. Should we blame ourselves? No. But we just admit it happened, face the events of life and move on from them.
Being bested by abuse perpetuates the cycle. Accept it and move on from it. Dwell on it and playing the victim will only serve to let the abuser win, and not learn anything. Find the strength inside and build from it. Do it for both of you.
It is an act of love.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Gratitude Monday - A Short Drive From Home

Renders a scene like this.

Even the trees have someone to lean on.

I am very grateful to live where I do.
Turning a corner or climbing a hill opens eyes and hearts to a new wonderful view. Nature has so much to offer. We need only take the moment we are given and enjoy it.

Happy Week, Everybody.